Projects

Favorite Book Art

You or your kids have probably had this idea already. Consider this a reminder!

You will need: large paper, permanent marker, tempera paint and something to put the paint on. Oh and brushes or something to spread the paint around with.

I use a paper plate.

Draw outlines or have your older children draw outlines for things related to their favorite book.  Read the book out loud while they paint or beforehand.



I actually painted this one by myself because my kids were hungry when I had it all laid out. Note to self: It is important to invite the children to participate when they are interested, not always when it’s convenient.

I really enjoyed mixing the colors to get orange and purple and brown. It was almost therapeutic. I also cut up an old smelly dish sponge into heart, triangle, and circle shapes to make stamps with. (Those blobs around the butterflies.)

You may have noticed that I have the same book on the shelf twice. This is because I just bought Wow, Said the Owl because I and my kids love it so much. Mr. 1 loves it so much he learned how to say “WOW!!!” and says it over and over the whole time we read. We read it at least 5 times a day, which is also what inspired me to make this art project.  I need to return the other one to the library.

Feel free to comment and let me know which books inspire your children to make art!

 

About

Father’s Day

As late as it is, I wanted to take the time to say it. Happy Father’s Day to all the father’s out there that do their best each and every day to take care of their children.

These little people look up to you so much!


We are lucky to have such a great father in this house. My husband is calm, patient, funny, hardworking, and so good with the little ones.

Whenever I get frazzled, he is quick to offer advice that makes me feel silly for never having realized.

I complained once about not being able to sweep the kitchen because the boys kept taking my broom and dust pan to sweep the ceiling, or refrigerator, or carpet. He just said, “what’s the hurry?”. And he’s right, there wasn’t any hurry. 

He’s always thoughtful and puts his family first. And we love him. 

Happy Father’s Day!

Daily Lessons, Language, Parenting

The rest of the day

I know that last post was a little hard to read, but writing it out definitely helped me get some perspective and help cement my realization that I just need to be more patient. 

Also, the bad times help us appreciate the good times more, don’t they?

After they woke up from their nap, we ended up having a wonderful afternoon. We did a lot of playing outside. They picked wildflowers (weeds) and rocks in a field near the house, and dug a large hole in our backyard. 


It was really awesome watching them work together on the hole, and getting along for at least 20 minutes. Every once in a while Mr. 3 would say, “Excuse me M—-, I am trying to dig here!” 


I told him he has to speak clearly and slowly to his brother and so now he emphasizes each word, and it’s so funny to hear him talk like that.

Little brother kept trying to climb into the hole.

We also discovered that while raw green beans have a tough shell that is kind of gross to chew, the little pods inside the shell are juicy and delicious. We spent quite some time shelling and eating the green beans in the garden. We compared flavors of the different sized pods.


When we got back inside they took a bath together and then immediately wanted to play in the sand box. 

The 15 month old has made some great vocabulary strides in the last few days. He can say “WOW” when we read Wow, Says the Owl. He can also say “baby” out loud, but I think he was really trying to say Brother, which he also just started signing. 

It’s adorable when he signs brother and walks through out the house (or toy store) looking for his big brother. 

He handed me a bib and said “b b b bib!” 

He is trying to jump and just kind of bounces up and down on his toes.

Big brother on the other hand is working on standing on one foot now. And he does great impersonations of his favorite Blippi shows. And he didn’t ask for the Kindle once yesterday, I think he has accepted my computers are for responsible people speech? 

And guess what? When he pooped in his diaper in the evening, I calmly asked him if he wanted to go potty, and when he indicated “no”, I told him to let me know when he was done and we could get him cleaned up. 

See, I CAN do this wonderful job of taking care of and helping my children explore the world. 

Parenting

Potty Training Nightmare

Hello. I’m sorry to be such a Debbie Downer but I need a friend today. I feel so very frustrated, and I’ve been crying for the last 30 minutes. I also spent some of that time yelling at my 3-year-old in a public bathroom, car, and bedroom.

I just don’t understand why he refuses to do his business in a toilet like all the rest of the children and people we know.

He is 3 years and 2 months old, and I have been “Potty Training” him since he was able to sit up, at about 5 months old. I would put him on the potty when he woke up and before a bath, and he did great. We saved so many diapers. We would read on the potty and I sometimes would have to force him to get off after long periods of sitting on the potty.

When he was about 22 months old, he wore underwear for 2 weeks straight and would even wake up at night to go to the bathroom.

Then, baby brother came along and everything just got worse and worse until now he is wearing a diaper constantly and seemingly choosing to go pee and poop in the darn diapers.

I tried being patient, and not forcing him. I tried stickers. I tried making him go naked, but he pooped on the floor twice and the dog ate it. I feel like I’ve tried a lot of different methods. I tried talking to him and I still explain several times a day that taking care of yourself is important and that keeping your underwear clean and dry prevents being smelly and getting rashes.

Yesterday, I gave him the same speech standing right next to the toilet after nap time. He was definitely doing the potty dance, and I encouraged him to go potty. Instead, he pees in his underwear and shorts (he had promised earlier to keep them clean and dry otherwise he would have been wearing a diaper) and all over the bathroom floor. Then he says “I want to play on my kindle!”.

Umm, no. If the kindle wasn’t so expensive I would hit it with a baseball bat or throw it in the trash. Instead, I put it in the closet and told him that computers are for people who take care of themselves and their bodies. His baby brother doesn’t get to watch shows or play games on the kindle because he hasn’t demonstrated that he can handle that responsibility, and neither has the 3-year-old. He was very upset by this.

Respectful parents will tell you to imagine your child is an important foreign diplomat, but if that important foreign diplomat deliberately went pee-oee on my floor when I KNOW that HE KNOWS better, I would most certainly react the same way. Respect goes both ways, and when my child refuses to listen to me or doesn’t care about what I want, then it makes it hard to treat him like a person that does.

And I know that rewarding going potty with time on the kindle is maybe not the best parenting decision either but giving the dog treats worked in a few days and she’s only had one accident in 4 years. It’s hard to argue with results.

We went to a toy story for story time and painting today. He was playing with their train table while we were waiting for it to start. I was very much looking forward to seeing my friend who I hadn’t seen in a few weeks, and I was excited for the 15 month old to do some painting around other children. I explained this all to the three-year old, and I explained that I had failed to bring a diaper and baby wipes and how we would have to go home to clean up if he went to the bathroom in his diaper. I said he was acting like he needed to poop and we should try to go to the bathroom.

He refused and not 5 minutes later he had a little poop in his pants. I take him to the bathroom and sit him on the potty trying to salvage the situation, but he REFUSES. TO. FINISH. POOPING. And this is when I get infuriated. So I say everything again, about taking care of yourself, and wanting to see my friend. Only I say it louder and while crying. And I beg and plead and do everything you’re not supposed to do including telling him to stop acting like a baby.

Then I feel super bad because I know what I am saying is wrong and not helpful and that gets me in a cycle of feeling like a failure. I cry all the way home and when I clean him up, and when I put his brother down for a nap and when I tell him to stay in the room because mommy needs time to cry and think about what I’ve done. And then I go cry on my bed a little bit more.

I want to run away, or hide. I have a huge fear that my child will never be potty trained. I have a huge fear that I am a bad mother, that this one sign of failure is just covering up many smaller failures. I have a huge fear that I am not good enough for them.

Thanks for “listening”. I know I’m just being emotional and it will all be okay.

 

Daily Lessons, Math

Craft Ball Games

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My boys love these craft balls, and we don’t even use them for crafts. Both of them will go to our art cabinet and grab the bag and then empty them out somewhere. For $3 they are well worth the cost as they have seen a lot of use.

Two days ago they emptied the bag of 100 pompoms near their colorful stacking cups, and I thought why don’t we try to match up the colors? Both Mr. 1 and Mr. 3 participated for an educational few minutes, and then we somehow ended up in a pompom fight. They loved throwing the balls at each other and me. Today they rolled the balls down the slide and tried to toss them up onto the changing table. Mr. 3 also was putting them in the laundry hamper, and trying to count them as he did it.

I love when they take initiative and come up with games on their own. I also love it when they take my suggestion and I can feel like we tried to do some active learning.

 

Daily Lessons

A Pre [Home] School Week in Review

What did we do?

We tried to spend a significant amount of time outside, since the weather was so beautiful. We took the stroller to the library (over 1.5 miles both ways) and stopped at the playground on the way home. We played on the trampoline and fertilized my garden. We  harvested some green beans and one beautiful carrot. [My favorite is the thyme plant, there isn’t much of it but one tiny leaf has such an amazing smell and flavor.]

2017-06-09_16-22-25_563Mostly the kids played in the sandbox. The picture above shows my two minutes in paradise; getting to read while the children play together.

All of these things help the kids practice their gross motor skills such as walking, running, and jumping. Their fine motor skills were active in learning how to pick the green beans without pulling the entire plant out of the earth. Their senses were engaged in sand box play, making goop, painting [on] the patio.

When we went to the aquarium this weekend, our one big excursion, they spent most of their time at the outdoor harbor seal enclosure. It is surrounded by large stadium style benches and both boys enjoyed walking along the benches and practicing going up and down the stairs. The 3-year-old practiced jumping down and up the stairs, and jumping off of the benches. Then the show started and we watched the trainers work with the seals. (Fact: Harbor seals can hold their breath for 30 minutes!)

What did we learn?

It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what the children are learning at any given moment, but they are always learning. Whether it is practicing a skill that is new to them or expanding one they already have. Here are some things that really stood out to me for my kids:

Mr 3: Jumping. He’s been jumping off and on to everything. Today he was seeing how far he could jump on his racetrack carpet. If he isn’t jumping, he’s galloping.

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Mr. 3 is also improving his tolerance for his brother. We are seeing more moments where they get along and can play together. Mr.3 is also saying things like, “What’s wrong, my friend M—?” when his little brother is crying. There is still some pushing and crying when 3 gets tired, but I do think it is getting better.

Mr. 1 – He is into everything. He spends a lot of time opening and closing the screen door. He also spent nearly an hour with a bottle of bubbles, putting the plunger in and trying to blow the bubbles. He wasn’t successful with the blowing, but he was very interested until he accidentally spilled the whole bottle on the patio.

Mr. 1 is also starting to combine words. He was saying “Hi Dada” when they went on a dog walk together.

Me: I’m learning that if I go too far out of my comfort zone, then I get easily stressed out and start feeling bad about myself again. It’s all well and good to try to be a perfect parent, but if I don’t make small changes then I am setting myself up for failure. We briefly tried no screen time limits and no bed time and it was a nightmare.

I want my kids to be respected and listen to their bodies and tell me what they need, but it’s not a skill that can be learned in two days, but I can’t stay up until 10:30 every night with the 3-year-old.

I have a theory that Mr. 3 most likely doesn’t like going to bed because he doesn’t want to be alone. So we are getting him a big bed so that someone can lay down with him. Usually if say, “I’m tired, will you lay down with me?” he will join us very eagerly.

What did we read?

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We have some really AMAZING library books this time! I’m going to limit myself to telling you about 5.

Cars Go by Steve Light – Just simple pictures of cars and onomatopoeia of the sounds they make. Mr. 1 will follow you around the house with this one until you read it at least 3 times. (Amazon – for more info)

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin – I’ve seen a lot of reviews for this book lately because the sequel just came out, but I’m honestly not that big of a fan of it. Unfortunately, my 3 old always wants to read it when he goes potty. It’s an okay story about how dragons love tacos, and parties, and taco parties.  (Amazon – for more info)

Hooray for Birds by Lucy Cousins – from the creator of Maisy Mouse.. this beautiful and bright book asks you to pretend to be a bird for one day and then takes you through different bird actions from sunrise to sunset. I think it’s adorable, and my 1-year-old really loves the pictures. (Amazon – for more info)

Doctor Ted by Andrea Beaty – This is a cute story about a little bear who pretends to be a doctor. This inspired my 3-year-old to play paramedic with me for a long time. I would fall down and cry for help and he would race over in his truck and then try to tie a ribbon “bandage” around my hurt area. We got to practice body parts, work our imaginations, and try tying knots. Plus, we practiced “calling” 911. (Amazon – for more info)

Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood – This is a book about an owl who stays up all day and discovers all the colors around her that she normally doesn’t get to see. It’s a really pretty book and is fun to read. Both of the kids enjoyed this one and have asked for it repeatedly. (Amazon – for more info)

In Conclusion –

We had a great week and hope you did too!

(My week was extra awesome because we had two date nights! For our 4 year aniversary we went indoor sky-diving which was awesome! And then on the weekend we played tennis for two hours and then had lunch after. I’m so happy I could burst. Last night Mr. 3 was being super silly. He keps saying “I’m the babysitter” and then laughing maniacally.)

 

Health, Science

Why I drink Tea…

Why do I drink tea? I drink tea because I like it! I do not like the smell of coffee and I cannot stand the taste. Soda makes me gassy both ways. I better just stick to tea.

I look forward to my tea breaks throughout the day. I drink tea in the morning after breakfast, I drink tea in the afternoon for a boost, and I drink tea in the evenings just because I feel like it. Caffeine free in the evenings, otherwise my trouble sleeping gets worse. Drinking tea makes me feel more relaxed, it helps me gather myself back if the kids are making me feel frazzled. It gives me a few minutes to myself. I can close my eyes and hold the warm cup, enjoying the scent and warmth. Even if my kids are pulling on my legs trying to get my attention I still take a moment to enjoy myself.

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It turns out that tea has a number of health benefits, too.

Numerous medical studies have found that tea contains compounds that exhibit anti-cancer properties. (Source)

The article goes on to explain that tea can also help lower your cholesterol, help maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of heart disease and prevent diabetes, and more.

Hold on, I need to make another cup.

Continue reading “Why I drink Tea…”

Daily Lessons

A Benefit of School Being Out for Summer 

My initial thoughts about school being out from a homeschool perspective is always, “great, all our favorite places are going to start getting super crowded, now!”. (Sarcastic)

But I am changing my tune to,”great, this is an opportunity for my little kids to learn from the bigger kids that we meet!” (Heartfelt)

Granted, not all experiences will be awesome, that will depend on the older kids. 

We had 3 encounters with older children in Tuesday, and two of them were positive enough to inspire me to write this post.

The first, at the library, involved two older boys at the library desk asking the librarian to help them find some books. While the Librarian was working the computer, the kids were taking an interest in Mr. 3 and Mr. 1. I wouldn’t call it a conversation but they were being friendly and saying hello. Also it is good for us to see other people interested in books!

The second encounter wasn’t even an encounter as I tried to walk away as quickly as I could push my double stroller through the doorway. There was a group of teenagers getting on the elevator and in the space of 1 minute I heard a superfluous amount of curse words. This is not something I want my kids to get comfortable with.

The third encounter was my favorite. We were on our way to the elementary school playground where we came across 2 boys riding skate boards. They politely asked us what time it was and then heard me explain to Mr. 3 about the skateboards. They offered to let him try it out and both boys rushed to make sure the skate board was being held still so he wouldn’t fall. Mr. 3 had one foot on but was afraid to do the other and so we said thank you and went our separate ways. Still, the kids were exposed to politeness, sharing, talking to potential friends and many benefits that I will let Peter Gray explain in his book, Free To Learn.(Sidenote: This is the first homeschooling book I read, and I read it a while ago but it was awesome. It made me feel like not only could I do it, but I should because the benefits to my children are extensive.)

Here is a small taste of what psychologist Peter Gray has to say,

 In age-mixed groups, the younger children can engage in and learn from activities that would be too complex, difficult, or dangerous for them to do on their own or only with others their own age. They can also learn simply from watching the more sophisticated activities of older children and overhearing their conversations. And they can receive emotional support and care beyond what age-mates could provide. These benefits may in some ways seem obvious, but here I’ll elaborate to show how valuable such opportunities are to children’s physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development.

The benefits aren’t just for the young children either, the older kids learn to nurture, can reinforce their own knowledge by teaching to others, and just generally feel awesome because they are being admired by such impressionable people. 

Here is to a summer of learning! 

(You can find Free to Learn by Peter Gray on Amazon.)

Science

Amazing Trees

I love love love The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library. These books are filled with important information AND they rhyme. I’ve only read 4 out of the 17 listed on the back of the I can Name 50 Trees Today book, but I am sure there are more since that was in 2005.

There’s No Place like Space – awesome ride through the solar system. (Amazon)

On Beyond Bugs – Gifted this to our nephew on his 7th birthday, and he apparently really enjoyed it. I also learned that all insects have 6 legs and how to tell the difference between butterflies and moths. Hint: It is not that all moths are brown, because sometimes they are not. (Amazon)

Inside Your Outside – Talks about our bodies and covers almost as much information as the Usborn book I mentioned briefly before. Really very informative. (Amazon)

I Can Name 50 Trees Today – this is the one we just got from the library and the reason I am writing about this today. There are so many cool facts about trees. There are so many cool trees. I am just flabbergasted by some of these facts and I want the whole world to know about them so they can appreciate the power and beauty of nature.

Did You Know?

  1. The tallest tree in the world is a Eucalyptus tree in Australia. It is 492 feet tall!  Actually, I just googled this and apparently the tree in Australia is only 327.5 feet tall. There is a Redwood in California that is 380 feet tall. This is still very impressive. (Source)
  2. The fattest tree (largest circumference around the trunk) is 117 feet around, located in Mexico. I guess the tree has grown a bit since the book was written because according to wikipedia, the largest girth tree in Mexico is 137 feet. But scientists have noted that the size of a trees circumference can change over time due to various factors.
  3. The Deepest tree is a wild fig whose roots go nearly 400 feet underground. According to The Cat in the Hat that is almost as deep as an oil rig would drill.
  4. The oldest tree might be 4,700 years old – a bristlecone pine. According to wikipedia, this tree is closer to 5,066 years old. WOW.

Well, I certainly have learned a lot about trees, and while The Cat in the Hat is not always right, it is close and has sparked an interest in me to do further research and learn a little bit more about my closest neighbors.

 

Parenting

Learning All The Time – Part Two – Unconditional Parenting

​I am still gathering my thoughts after reading this insightful book by John Holt about how young children can and will learn by themselves. (Learn more about the book here.)

There is a section where he explains that children that are praised or punished a lot will lose their inherent motivation to learn and discover, and develop a fear of failure.

I don’t want that for my children. My goal with homeschooling has always been to teach them a love of learning. According to John Holt, I don’t even have to do that, all I have to do is not destroy the desire that they already have.

What children want and need from us is thoughtful attention. They want us to notice them and pay some kind of attention to what they do, to take them seriously, to trust and respect them as human beings. They want courtesy and politeness, but they don’t need much praise. (John Holt – Learning All the Time)

I think my toddler has been trying to tell me this for a while. He is always asking me, “what am I doing, mommy?” or some variation thereof. Perhaps I need to be more proactive about acknowledging him, even when distracted by his baby brother.

The not praising practice will be a difficult habit to break for me. I was raised in a reward\praise system, and perhaps did not receive enough of it because I was always striving for more.

My two older brothers had the opposite, where they were satisfied with the occasional praise… Good job passing that English class! Where as I felt barely acknowledged for (almost) getting straight As.

You could say the system worked for me. I received a masters degree in accounting. I worked as a CPA until I became a stay at mom. I am married and have a beautiful family. One of my older brothers still delivers pizza, while the other is slightly better off. But there I go comparing, and how can you truly compare happiness?

But I don’t want my kids to experience either of these extremes, I want them to be motivated because they WANT to learn about something, or WANT to be good at something.

So instead of always saying “good job” or “that’s not right” I just need to acknowledge what they are doing and not jump in the middle of it. I need to learn to let them be themselves, not who I want them to be.

It’s going to be a challenge to change the way we do things at home, but I’m going to start small and work my way up to it.

A common style of conversation at our house goes as follows:

Mr. 3: What am I doing mommy?

Me: I don’t know sweetheart, what ARE you doing?

Mr. 3: I’m building a garage on wheels!

Me: Ooh, that’s great.

Mr. 3: I built a garage on wheels!

Me: Good Job!

My goal for this week is to end the conversation differently. Not to praise, but to acknowledge and get him to talk more about it.

Mr. 3: I built a garage on wheels!

Me: I see, you are parking all the cars inside the garage!

I know there are a few good books about unconditional parenting, so I should probably check out some of them to get a better understanding of how to put this into practice. Feel free to leave me a suggestion if you have a favorite book. I am also interested in finding out how you convinced your significant others to implement the same parental practices. Consistency is important, after all.

Also, I would like to thank my husband for taking care of me this weekend while I was sick. I don’t know how you managed to do the dishes, fix the laundry doors, install the rain barrel, mow the lawn, pull weeds, take care of the kids and take care of me. You are amazing. 

By the way, the book Learning All the Time by John Holt is only $2.99 on Amazon. (Affiliate link, but who wouldn’t?)