Sunday, January 30, 2011

Nature Preschools in the Seattle Area

I've spent a lot of time reading about early-childhood education and have formed some fairly specific opinions on the matter. I was very inspired when I read Last Child in the Woods a year or so ago.  I became intrigued in the idea of outdoor classrooms and their affect on learning.  I searched for programs in our area, but most were not that close. I really would love to see a preschool that embraces the outdoor philosophy nearby. In the meantime here is a list I have compiled of nature preschools in the greater Seattle area (*Edited: It has been great to see that more programs have opened over the years).
*If you know of any others please let me know and I will add them to the list.

Here are some general links about nature and child development and particular nature classrooms:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

20 months old

Allie is impressing us every day.  She's 20 months old and is talking more and more, and when we can't understand what she is saying, Selena is there to translate.  Her favorite things to do are:

  • Playing with her babies. She dresses them, puts them down for naps, wraps them up in blankets, has them ride Dyna, has them stand on their head, bathes them.  Selena says that Allie is one busy mom.  
  • She likes playing with Duplo Legos.  She builds towers and then places them up on the TV stand and says, "Look at that."  She is very precise in how she puts the blocks, and will take apart towers she doesn't like and redo them.  Then when she is all done, she takes them all apart and does it over again.
  • She likes reading books.  Silly Sally and Baby Bear, Baby Bear are still favorites.  She also likes Bob the Builder books, The Three Little Rigs, Five Little Monkeys Sitting in A Tree among others.  She likes pointing at every single thing on the page and saying, "What's that?"  But if she disagrees with how you label something she'll correct you.  
  • She likes drawing and having you draw dogs, cats, girls, shapes, and Selena for her.  After she draws something she says, "Look at that."  Then when you ask her what it is she'll say, "It's a dog" or "It's a circle" etc.  
  • She's started doing puzzles.  She takes a pieces and says, "Where's it go?"  Then points to where it goes and says, "Right there."  Then puts it in, then says, "I did it." Sometimes she'll throw an "Can I do it?", "Yes I can, Bob" in there.
  • When she gets really excited she runs around in circles.
  • She likes eating one bite off a banana.  She likes sitting in my lap and eating my breakfast of eggs and a smoothie.
  • When she spills or makes a mess she'll go into the bathroom and get some toilet paper and then go and wipe it up. 
She is very independent and gets very upset at being told what to do, or being told she can't do something, or doing something for her that she wants to do herself.  I try to remember to ask her to do things instead of tell her, and using distraction when she is doing something she shouldn't.  But if I forget, or those two techniques aren't working she pretty much screams and lays down on the ground and cries.  Fortunately these tantrums only last a minute or two.  Unfortunately she had one while she was at the child care at the Y.  They told her she couldn't go up the slide and she lost it, and I had to cut my run short.  But if you ask her nicely she usually is sweet and cooperative.  

Miraculously the last few months she can usually be counted on to take a longish nap.  She never napped more than 45 minutes to maybe an hour when she was younger and all of a sudden she started taking 1.5 - 3 hour naps.  It is also fairly dependably around 2 o'clock.  

She can count to 10, and can even count things and is starting to recognize letters.  We don't "work" on these things, she just has picked them up from reading books and from playing.  

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2010 In Review and 2011 Goals

I'm a little late on the game, but that is okay.  2010 was full of change.  We sold our house in Puyallup and bought a new one in Mill Creek/Everett.  Floyd quit his job as a teacher to play poker full time.  We really love living closer to family and our new neighborhood is fantastic for running, playing, and walking.  I've really been excited about living close to a fancy grocery store where it is easy to buy local organic produce and ethically raised meat.

I did a pretty good job with my 2010 goals.  I didn't do much sewing because it was too hard to find time with the girls, and I was okay with that.  Now the girls are older and we are closer to family so I get a bit more free time so I am picking it up more now.  I have become an even better cook.  I hardly eat any processed food and we joined a CSA in the spring and summer and I eat more vegetables than I ever have in my life.  While I've done great Selena does not have much variety in what she eats, and most of what she eats are convenience foods and thus Allie does too.  :(

I have pretty much eliminated sugar from my diet, but it wasn't really by choice.  After getting sick in September a side effect of the seizure medication, or the seizures, caused sugar to be really unappetizing.  So now if I have something sugary it isn't more than one or two bites.  I miss ice cream.  I have an idea for a no-sugar, or really low sugar ice cream recipe, but haven't tried it yet.  I did run quite a bit in the summer, but got thwarted by being sick in September.

So my goals for 2011 are:

  • Sew a pair of jeans.  I've already done this, but my first pair had some mistakes.  I have more denim ordered and should get a perfect pair of jeans sewn within the next month.  
  • Sew a jacket.  
  • I am committed to running the Capital City Half Marathon in May.
  • I want to work on having less waste.  I buy lots of bulk items at the grocery store, but don't bring my own containers.
  • I want to eat more fish, preferably at least 3 times a week
  • Be more ethically minded in my purchases.  Everything we consume has ethical ramifications.  Usually the cheaper something is, the more unethically it was produced.  I want to limit my purchases to only things we need, and I want them to be of good quality.  I want to make more of our clothes and buy more things used (I am going to have to overcome a snobbish attitude for buying used).  I don't want to be swayed by advertising, and I don't want to buy random crap. Sadly this is a hard goal.
  • I am going to have a garden this year!  I thought I would be able to start a late one after we moved, but wasn't able to make it happen.  This year I will. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

When you find something mucky you've got to run right through it

Christmas is over and Selena had a lot fun.  I think decorating Christmas cookies was her favorite part.  She got a bike from her grandma and that was really exciting.  She was jumping up and down and carrying on and on.  It also came unassembled so we got to build it.  She was very happy.   She also got some roller skates.  She wore those all day on Christmas. Unfortunately there hasn't been a whole lot of bike riding or roller skating weather.  It has been very cold, we had snow for a week, then it melted and a week later it snowed again.  We did trek to the school in the snow and ride the bike and rollerskate in the play shed, but then we got cold and hiked back home.  I was the pack mule, carrying Allie on my back, and the bike in one hand, and a bag full of roller skates in the other.

Christmas being over, means that preschool is starting again.  Getting up early has been a real downside to preschool.  I am kicking myself over not finding an afternoon program.  Even when she gets on an earlier schedule, she is still naturally waking up at 8:45, 45 minutes later than she does on Tuesday and Thursday.  It really takes its toll on her and results in a lot of whining and crying. :(  I'm not sure if it is related or not, but we've had a lot of sickness this fall and winter.  Selena just got over a fever and then Allie had it, and now Floyd and I have colds.

Finally here are some Selena bits of wisdom:
- Issac is cuter than Allie, because the smaller the cuter.
- The harder it is the funner it is.
- When you are sick you have to watch TV all day.
- Real people don't have lists, they give presents either way.  Real people don't know.
- That's the point of running.  When you find something mucky you've got to run right through it.
- This one is from a while ago, but she said, "Allie didn't pester me FOR YEARS (and she totally emphasizes the words for years and then repeats FOR YEARS) when I was two, but then I grew to this age, and now she hits and pulls my hair, but she didn't pester me FOR YEARS before.
- I can't clean up, it'll take ages.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Heidi and Finn Chic Everyday Coat

So Selena doesn't really like the rain jacket I bought her.  She says it is too rough and makes funny noises.  So I decided to make her a double layered fleece jacket.  The pattern is super cute, though I was a bit bummed that the coat did not have a hood, but that could have been easily fixed if I had put the effort out.  Ideally I has planned on making a scoodie to go with it, but she has a ton of hats so I probably won't ever get to it.

After making multiple versions of the Heidi and Fin Hoodie I was excited to try another pattern from her.  I chose the Heidi and Finn Chic Everyday Coat.  The sizing goes from 12M - 6T, but really there are only four different sized pattern pieces. Unfortunately I did not have as much success in the sizing as I did with the hoodie.  The 3T and 4T sizes were combined on the pattern pieces and really that size fits like a 4T.  The neck was a bit big and the sleeves were about 4 inches too long.  The largeness, especially in the neck area, is probably exaggerated by the fact that I used a stretchy fleece instead of a woven.  I kept all the extra length in the sleeve by folding it inside the hem, so hypothetically I can let the sleeves out as she grows and she'll be able to wear the coat for a long time.  If I were to make her another one I would go with the 2T size.  Besides that the directions were wonderful (colored picture in a pdf), and the coat went together very easily.

The one change I made to the pattern was to add pockets, because Selena adamantly requested them.  I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how I would make the pockets.  Ideally I would have made a welt pocket, but supposedly those are tricky.  What I ended up doing was simply cutting a slit in the shell, bar tacking the edges and then after I had attached the lining to the shell I topstitched a pocket shape--so the coat lining acted as the pocket lining.  Very simple and it worked, and a little bit of white peeks out of the pockets, which I think looks nice.

Back View


* I bought this pattern and did not receive any compensation for this pattern review.

Books in 2010

I read 45 books in 2010.  Just a bit shy of my 50 book goal.

My favorite fiction books of the year were:

Ship of Magic: I read this series a long time ago, but reread it this year, and it is one of my favorites. The heroine fights to maintain a traditionally male role against fierce opposition, plus some pirates, dragons, and magic thrown in.

The Art of Racing in the Rain:  A heartwarming story told in a dog's point of view.  I liked it
for a few funny reasons:  1) It takes place in Seattle.  2)  The mother in the story had a home birth and the story made a small plug for midwives and home birth.  3) There was a scene where the dog talks about crows and what they are up to.  I am always trying to figure out crows, so I enjoyed that bit.

Pock's World:  Dave Duncan is my favorite author and he ventured into sci-fi with this story.  It had an exciting end and a twist as always.

The Tea Rose: This book is historical fiction with a bit of romance, and was one of those books that you can't put down, but you feel like you are falling victim to cliche writing techniques to keep you on the edge of your seat. But the book did seem well researched in the historical aspect and I did enjoy it.

Bulletproof Mascara: This book was written by a friend of mine who I used to work with. It is light and funny and had a good twist at the end. I have to admit I think it is really cool that a friend of mine is a published author. :)

My favorite non-fiction books for the year were:

Born to Run
: This book had a great story and changed my perception in running in that it isn't something I do because I'm weird, but that humans are meant to be long distance runners. It advocates barefoot running and is pretty convincing, but I do think it loses some of its sway in that it also advocates veganism. While I'm not opposed to veganism, per se, the author hypothesizes that early humans practiced persistence hunting and their ability to run for long periods of time gave them an evolutionary advantage, but in the same breath says that they would have only done it occasionally and probably ate plants most of the time. It is contradictory to say hunting provided them an evolutionary advantage, but animals are an inferior food source. But other than that the book was good and I enjoyed it.

Unconditional Parenting: While this book was more philosophical than practical it clarified my overall feelings about parenting.