Daily Lessons, Parenting

Being Helpful

My kids love being helpful. I know it can be frustrating when they start sweeping the ceiling, or that vacuuming takes 8 times as long. And yet, it is in our best interest to let them help! They are learning important lessons such as helping and caring for others, taking care of themselves and their belongings, teamwork, problem solving, fine and gross motor coordination, and SO much more.  Continue reading “Being Helpful”

Daily Lessons, play, Projects

Warning: Severe Heat in the Seattle area!

It’s 90 degrees in Seattle. Yowza! How are we keeping cool? We aren’t. One thing that surprised us when we moved here from Texas was the general lack of centralized A/C.

We have a little unit A/C but the kids won’t leave the door closed, so it’s no good to anyone.

Actually, it does a great job of blowing bubbles. Still, if you are paying $200 for a bubble blower… you are crazy and probably insolvent. 

Forgive me, the heat makes me cranky. 

What we are doing is taking it easy and keeping busy. We’ve got some collaging with contact paper, playdoh, painting on the patio, sticking pipe cleaners into things that have holes, and drinking lots of water.


Also, playing with ice until the freezer runs out. I took an idea from my recent follower Heather (thanks!) and froze some of their water resistant toys in a big bowl of water. Mr. 3 poured salt all over it and we played with together for a little while, at least 30 minutes.  

The salt was as old as he is, so I’m not too heart broken about him using the whole bottle. 

How are you keeping cool? 

By the way, I’m super excited to announce… that Mr. 3 has started “reading” to Mr. 1 and finds many opportunities to explain things to him. 

“Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmm”

“No, that’s not a truck, that’s a tractor” 

I love it. I love it. I love it. 

Daily Lessons, Science

Busy Bees

Hello! We have been busy here, doing nothing and everything. Here are some things that I think I know, gleaned from our everyday activities:

A helicopter weighs 10,000 pounds, or approximately 4 school buses! (I overheard this on Mr. 3’s Blippi show. Although Mr. 3 told me it was 1,000, but that doesn’t seem like enough. He does not yet understand the difference for such big numbers.)

A dandelion, with its jagged leaves and yellow flowers, has no business in a strawberry bed! This caused my strawberries to be teeny tiny and very few. When my friend pointed it out, I pulled it out right away and since then the strawberries have been proliferous.

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The kids love going to the garden each morning to help me water and see what they can eat. Mr. 3 and Mr. 1 worked together today to water the apple tree which is across a small creek and takes careful aim to water. Mr. 1 may have gotten sprayed in the side of the face. Mr. 3 then pointed out the bright green leaves as meaning the “apple tree is growing SOO much!”.

Side benefit of having playdates is that your friend can teach your things about your own garden/house or anything, because everyone’s knowledge base is different.

There are 6 different breeds of Giraffe, whose noises cannot generally be heard by human ears.

A difference between a Crocodile and and Alligator is that the teeth stick out of the mouth of the Crocodile. The snout on an crocodile is longer and narrows more to a point. As my husband likes to say the Alligator mouth is “all short like”.

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I hate to jinx it, but Mr. 3 is devoting a lot of energy to being Blippi, from his favorite television show. And he’s “not a baby Blippi, a BIG Blippi”. My favorite thing about this is the fact that he is wearing underwear today and so far has kept it clean and dry. He went to the potty 3 times yesterday, and 4 the day before. I’m trying not to get too excited, but I think he’s finally ready! I will gladly look at imaginary snow chains on the imaginary garbage truck 47 times a day for this. It’s definitely worth it.

Some other things we have been working on that I may share with you later include, keeping a daily homeschool log, and my husband trying out a new work schedule in order to give me a break.

I have been reminded that parenting can be really, really, hard, but it is a beautiful thing to watch your children grow and learn.

 

 

 

Daily Lessons, Health, Parenting, Science

Questions Questions

Some questions my 3 year old asked me in the last twenty minutes:

How do you take down the curtain?

How do you take down the blinds?

How do you take down the window?

How do you take down the screen?

Why are feet stinky?

Why don’t dogs and cats have stinky feet? (Listen to Stinky Feet by Jim Cosgrove… it’s a funny song.)

Why do we live with dogs and cats? (He was distracted by his brother before I could get into a long explanation about symbiotic relationships, or even to say that they are cute.)

Why do dogs and cats have hair?

Why do we have hair?

Why is your hair black or something?

Why is/what do you mean my hair is like daddy’s?


An hour ago my husband and I had an interesting discussion about the moon and how it orbits around the planet so you never see the other side. This was brought on by questions from Mr. 3 about why he can see the moon and the sun at the same time.


I love questions like these. I wish all of his questions were interesting. I think probably all his questions are interesting to him, but it can get very frustrating when the conversation goes like this:

Me: Gosh, it sure is nice out today.

Mr. 3: Why is it nice out?

Me: Because the sun is shining, and its warm!

Mr. 3: why is the sun shining and its warm out?

Me: It is warm out because the sun is shining.

Mr. 3: Why is it warm out because the sun is shining?

Me: …

Maybe the problem is that he doesn’t know how to ask what he really wants to know about, but depending on my patience level I usually just end up saying, “What do you think?” 


What is the most interesting question your children have asked you recently?

Daily Lessons

A [Pre]Homeschool Week

Wow, it’s been another week full of life and love and learning. It is hard to keep up with these two beautiful balls of energy. We did not go to very many places, but it still feels like we accomplished a lot.


Mr. 3 has hit a new milestone in the types of play he participates in. He is learning to think about uses other than the original use he came up with. I mean, for example, instead of ONLY building a “garage” with the magnet tiles, he now willingly and of his own volition will build roads, or flat-bed trucks with the car attachments. It makes me so happy to see him exploring and trying new things. (Especially because I told my husband I wanted a Spielgaben set, but he said I had to wait until Mr. 3 was older and more capable of using it in creative play. They are monstrously expensive but they look so amazing. )

Mr. 3 has started “reading” to himself, or at least making the announcement “I’m going to read this book ALL by Myself”.

Mr. 3 also appears to be trying to tell jokes. He will say something silly and then laugh like a maniac, which is not his normal way of communicating.

Mr. 1 learned how to go down slides on his bottom all by himself. He used to slide down feet first on his belly, but now he chooses to go down on his butt. At the bottom he claps his hands and then gets up to do it again. He is also trying to jump and trying to dance, which look the same but occur at different times. Finally, he discovered how to walk backwards and makes a beeping noise while he does it until he bumps into the wall.


And when he reads books, he is one hundred percent engaged. He is pointing at things, and making the sounds and sign language to show me understands what is in the book. His absolute favorite book right now is Little Blue Truck.

We got Mr. 3 a full size bed so that one of us could lay down with him at night. And since he is in the same room as Mr. 1, we get to witness what Mr. 1 is doing in his crib before he falls asleep. And for 2 or 3 nights this week Mr. 1 would roll around holding Little Blue Truck and rub it on his face. Then he would sit up and flip through the pages and point out all the animals and trucks. He would even sign/noise “help help help” at the exact point it happens in the book. And he is just doing this for his own benefit as he has forgotten anyone else is in the room. It is the most wonderful heart warming scene to witness. My two favorite things getting along: Children and books.

We went to a family barbecue yesterday, where there were a bunch of older kids having a water balloon fight. Mr 3. was shy, but interested, and he wandered over there and tried to throw some balloons at the older kids. He also tried to join in on their badminton game, and I encouraged him to ask the one closest to his age if he wanted to play tag. Unfortunately I then bumped in to Mr. 1 and knocked him over. It turns out he was more upset that he dropped his car, than he was at being bumped into, but I ruined the game nonetheless.

We also had a few playdates with our friends. Our neighbor gifted us their swing set since they were getting a new wooden one for a 5th birthday, and then the next day they were poking their head over the fence and asking us if we wanted to come play.


That was my dream come true. I really want a neighbor like that for my kids, because that is what I had growing up and it just made life so great having a best friend that lived right behind you. Then yesterday they passed the youngest boy over the fence to play with us while all the men worked together to build the new swing set at the neighbor’s house. I think the boys really enjoyed playing together. I hope this summer is filled with many more magical moments like that.

I hope you all had a great week too!

 

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. 

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.)

 

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.)

Daily Lessons

Traveling with Young Children

My kids are no strangers to airplanes. They don’t do too well in the car for long periods of time, but they are great at flying. Here are some tricks we’ve learned along the way!

Young babies are very simple. You hold them on your lap and encourage them to sleep. If they are awake on take off or landing, you want to be sure to feed them to help with the air pressure change. Hold them and bounce them in your arms while standing in the aisles if they get restless.

Once your child is 2 years old you will be required to purchase them a seat on the airplane. I strongly recommend you bring their airplane approved car seat. It should have a sticker somewhere on it that says it is FAA approved.

The car seat will keep your toddler from escaping and even provide a more comfortable place to sleep. Most toddlers are used to falling asleep in the car, so the airplane should not be much different.

Next, be sure to bring some distracting and satisfying games and snacks.

Activities
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  1. Play Dough – I use Rachelle’s recipe at TinkerLab and just put a small amount in a baggie. My 3 year old loves playing with his diggers and the play dough and this keeps him very buys at home. Play dough is sticky though, so be sure to bring parchment paper to protect whichever surface you are playing on.
  2. Crayons and coloring/activity book. Great for all ages.
  3. Stickers/Tape – This can keep both my 1 year old and 3 year old busy for a long period of time. You can stick them on the back of some coloring sheets.
  4. Small but well loved books that you do not mind re-reading several times.

For this trip we are bringing Peek-A-Who which is an all time favorite with my 1 year old. We are also bringing Calling All Cars a lego story about a bank robbery. My toddler has been enjoying this series for the last few weeks. Most of the books are hard to read for me because the text can be a little annoying, but this one was pretty good.

Snacks

The best snacks are ones that aren’t devoured in five seconds. You want this to take a while…

Did you know you can bring food through security? You are not allowed liquids but solid food is allowed! 

I like to bring:

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  1. Small or cut up pieces of fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, pear, apple. You don’t want to choose things that can get too mushy and sticky such as banana and some peaches. (Not pictured because I want them to be as fresh as possible; I promise I will offer my kids fruit! )
  2. Chex mix. I use Chex cereal and pour in planters mixed nuts – low sodium. Sometimes I add broken pretzel sticks if we have them at home.
  3. Cheerios (plain) for young babies or young toddlers.
  4. Raisins are sticky but my kids love them.
  5. Other easy non perishable snacks such as yogurt melts, fruit chews, granola bars.

Just Remember:

You know your children best, and these are just suggestions to get you thinking. You can even ask them to help pack and choose a few of their favorite small toys (that they might not be broken up about if they get lost)… my kids love doing this.

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I hope you have a great trip!