Without putting any effort into math, I'm going to guess we're about halfway through winter. And it hasn't been too bad. But that's also because the weather has been rather mild. Or perhaps fickle is the better word. One day I'm dressing Jack in his snow clothes ...
... and the next we're playing pirate ship off our imaginary tropical island in the backyard.
We try to get outside any day that's "not cold." Jack and Jude can work off some energy...
Julia gets a change of scenery ...
And I don't have to come up with things to do, because it's all right there.
We can stay out there a long time, because apparently we don't even need to come in for potty breaks anymore.
|Why yes, that underwear is inside-out.|
Please don't think the above incident was my idea. I was busy taking pictures of Jude, looked up for a moment and saw that in my lens. On one hand, we're very happy that Jack has taken potty intiative on his own lately, (if it wasn't for his terrible aim I'd hardly know he even goes to the bathroom!). But seriously, who taught him this?? Someone must have told him it's okay to pee behind, er in front of, trees! I blame it on a cousin.
But sometimes being outside isn't an option, and we have to find other ways to get through these winter days. Of course, there's always the old standby - puzzles.
Jack is still our crazy puzzle boy. In fact, our cupboard is overflowing with new puzzles - bigger, trickier, smaller-piece-ier ... he's all over those bad boys. He usually insists on having "a little help", but when it's finished he's more than willling to take all the credit.
He's starting to get to the age where we can play games too. "Memory" is a favorite. Although, we have to play with all the cards facing up. And he also likes to pick my matches for me and yell "I fine it for you!" So it's hardly a competition. "Bingo" is another favorite. And, since this is more of a "chance" game than a "skill" one, he's actually beaten me every time.
Sometimes I try to get all educational with my kids and bust out the preschool workbook I picked up at Wal-Mart ages ago, or my own homemade creations from numerous blogs for toddler activities. Jack's all-time favorite of these are the tracing sheets. Sooo simple to make - just make some shapes with a dashed line, print it off and laminate it. (Okay, so it might be a little hard if you don't have a laminator. I picked mine up from Amazon a few months ago and LOVE it. The price really seems to fluctuate on this thing so if you're not in a hurry wait for a better deal.)
|Okay, so he doesn't quite grasp the whole "trace" concept yet...|
The boys are both very in to blocks, legos and towers latey. It's just hard to build something before they immediately start tearing it down. I've also realized that often my kids won't play with a toy because they don't know how. They never play with the blocks on their own. But it's their most requested activity when I'm available to join them. Same thing with our train set.
As much as I despise the Thomas show (um, boring!), I love this wooden train set. I'll admit it, I enjoy setting up the rails and town and that sort of thing. Once it's all set up I'm done though, the fun is over. But that works out for the boys because they much prefer actually playing with the train than putting all the pieces together.
But I can't always be available to entertain my kids and be tower and train track repair woman. Sometimes my kids need a little nudging to do things on their own. Jude for instance. In the mornings, he has roomtime where he plays by himself in his room. And every morning he throws a fit when I put him in his room and shut the door (the boys have a dutch door, it's perfect!). But the moment I walk away he stops crying, picks himself up off the floor, and starts playing quietly. For an HOUR! Jack's in school, Julia's down for Nap #1, and Jude is safe and secure for an entire hour. (This is how I get things done people!) We have a play kichen in the boys' room with pots, pans, food and a grocery cart. Jude will not play with this at any given moment in the day. But if you shut him in his room he goes to town making imaginary feasts. And then after a while he'll stop and go find some books to read. It's so good for him to get some alone time. See, Mama knows best, even if he disagrees with me for 5 minutes every time.
Unfortunately, it's on rare occasion that I can leave both boys alone together. At least, not without something or someone getting broken. So together times are usually heavily moderated by mom (or dad when he's home but sometimes it's hard to moderate when you're the one wrestling on the floor ...). Play-doh is perfect for both boys, although Jude tends to eat it more than play with it. I just wish it wasn't so messy. And it's a nice reminder that, despite having 3 small children, I still tend to hold on to my particular/organizational habits because it drives me CRAZY when the Play-doh colors get mixed together. Ew, just typing that makes me shudder.
So this one time, when Play-doh was getting old and I needed something else to occupy my children until naptime, I decided paint sounded like a good idea. Oh silly me, what was I thinking? Because paint and toddlers is usually NEVER a good idea. Although I will say the boys totally enjoyed it. And thankfully it was washable. As soon as they were done I locked the paint away and prayed that they would forget and never ask for it again ... at least not for a while. It wouldn't matter anyway because the only color we have now is brown.
|Note: These pictures were different days, same shirt. I definitely can't do all this in one day!|
But when they're good, they can play nicely in there for an hour. And I can do fun things like fold laundry. Jude likes "Tubby Time" because of the "open bar" and unlimited beverages... *shudders again*
You may be wondering where the Little Miss is in all this activity-talk. Well, she's either sleeping, or eating, or sitting quietly and taking it all in. Because she's perfect. Really. This is a totally different baby than just a few weeks ago. She is just the most content, pleasant, sweetest little thing I've ever laid eyes on. She doesn't need me to entertain her, she's got two brothers that do enough of that on their own. But we both appreciate our mommy/daughter quiet time when we get the wild things down for a nap in the afternoon.
A cup of tea, a Luna bar, and an hour or two of peace and quiet. That's how I get through the winter day!
What about you? What tricks do you keep up your sleeve to endure these long hours in-doors? I'd love to hear your ideas because there's still a good bit of winter to get through and so far not much snow to keep it interesting!