art, Parenting

Keva Plank Art

Mr. Conductor, who is almost 4 years old, begged and begged for these KEVA blocks last Christmas. He really enjoyed playing with them at the Pacific Science Center, and at his friend’s house. After he had his wish granted, he played with them everyday for a week or two and then drifted away from them. My conclusion was that he was frustrated that  he couldn’t build anything interesting by himself. The planks are lightweight and move too easily to build anything securely and things would get knocked over very easily.

I thought I would try to show him a different way of playing with them today, so I tried using them to make 2D pictures instead.

They quickly took apart my creations and tried to make their own. Mr. 2 made a “sidewalk” and Mr. 4 wanted to make a slide via the instruction booklet.

“Are we architects?” he asked.  Yes, we are.

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Mr. Conductor ended up very frustrated again, and I tried to encourage him not to give up. Practice would help him get better! In the end he said, “I’m just not a good architect!”

Mr. 2, on the other hand, was a little frustrated when his pieces kept falling off the table, but he was singing “Can we fix it? Yes we can!” (Bob the Builder) nearly the whole time and never let it affect his mood.

It made me very sad to hear Mr. Conductor make his pronouncement. Both of my boys love to build, build, build. Destroy and build again. After the planks they built more things:

I need to find a way to help Mr. Conductor retain a positive attitude even when he struggles. I would also like him to understand that failing at a project doesn’t make you bad at something, and it certainly doesn’t make you a bad person.


26 more days until the baby!

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Math, Projects

Train Whistle Chain – A self initiated project

This is an example of how a child can take initiative in their own growth and learning through play.

When we first made the baby due date counting chain out of paper rings, it was super long. When I hung it between the outer edge of the curtain rod and the middle support screw, Mr. Conductor (almost 4) would pull on it and yell “Whoo Whoo, All aboard!” In fact, he enjoyed doing this quite a lot.

He did notice, though, that the chain kept getting shorter and shorter. Now that we have less than 30 days, the chain is too short to have the desired effect. He told me he wanted to make his own chain so he could keep playing with the train whistle. He picked out the paper, he got his scissors and all the colorful tape.

I showed him that folding the paper first provided us lines to cut by. By the end of the session I couldn’t tell his strips of paper from my strips of paper and he was even folding the paper himself. He also thoroughly enjoyed cutting the tape and putting it on the rings to make them hold together.

We only got about half-way with the chain before his interest flagged and he started cutting zig-zags and being silly, but he worked hard for about an hour while his brother napped. I was pretty impressed.

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Do you remember my preschool goal list from a few days ago? Well check off: Scissor practice, following directions, working on a project for a long period of time, working together, taping, folding, planning, executing, counting, patterns/design, etc. Some of those things weren’t on there? They are important none the less. Also, he was extremely proud of himself and couldn’t wait to show Daddy his new folding skills.

 

About

Kindle the Cat

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Dear Kindle, you were a sweet kitty cat.

You were very independent but reliably came to sit on my lap when I tried to read or work. And then you bumped your cold, wet, nose against my hand until I pet you to your satisfaction. If that was ineffective, you would stick your stinky butt in my face, which is how you earned your nickname “stinky butt”.

I am sorry that I didn’t know how sick you were; you were so good at hiding it! I am sorry that I wasn’t more affectionate, but I hope you know you were loved.

Last Friday, the veterinarian called to say that they were 100% sure that Kindle’s intestine was completely blocked with Cancer. They said medicine might make her more comfortable for a month or two, but wasn’t guaranteed to help at all.

We have another fully dependent mammal coming into the world in 28 days (or less) so we decided to go ahead with euthanasia in order to shorten the cat’s suffering.

Poor kitty, everything happened so seemingly fast, but she must have been dealing with this for a long time. Cat’s are really good at hiding illness.

We will miss her.

Continue reading “Kindle the Cat”

About, art

It’s Easter – Surprise!

I am very bad at holidays and special occasions. For example, the older boy turns 4 in 10 (!!!) days and I have done nothing to plan the celebration. I haven’t even thought about the cake yet. I think he wants one from the store, but do I need to order it ahead of time?

Well, it turns out tomorrow is a holiday. (Easter). My mom sent presents a week ago, I’ve gotten a few email reminders from the charities and one from tinker lab about Easter art projects. It’s the night before and I put myself and my husband to work to get ready for tomorrow.

My husband’s job was to put together the bikes we bought them before Christmas. We’ve been waiting for nice weather and even though it’s going to rain tomorrow I think it is time.

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I put myself to work making some small easter decorations. Inspired by the email from tinker lab, I repurposed some of their paintings and cut out Easter bunnies and eggs. Tomorrow they can hang them on the string.

Finally, I filled some colorful plastic eggs with pom-pom balls and hid all the presents around the living room area. We are as ready as we are going to get.

Are you ready?

Happy Holidays!!

 

About, Parenting

Homeschool Preschool Goals

I read an article on pinterest the other day where a mom explains her preschool routine and goals. According to her research, before you get into kindergarten you should be able to do the following: Count to 20, Shapes, Colors, ABCs and letter sounds, follow directions, hold pencil,scissors, glue, draw pictures and shapes. 

No problem, my almost 4-year-old can do all of those things to some extent. (I still have to help hold the paper and turn it when he uses scissors, and he can only draw circles (faces!) at this point. Mr. 2 recognizes 1-10 and has counted all the way to 8 by himself. He loves colors, numbers, shapes, and letters. Currently he doesn’t always follow directions because he’s realizing he’s his own person and can make his own decisions.

This source lists some more difficult skills which include writing their name, listening to a story and telling what it is about, counting and identifying syllables, rhyming, drawing a picture and telling a story. These are not things that my pre-schooler can do with any confidence.

So even though we are of an unschooling mindset in this house, these are some goals I want to keep in mind. To help my kids achieve these goals I intend to do the following:

  • Read them lots of books
  • Provide open-ended art opportunities
  • Lay out fun sticker and work books to help inspire them.
  • Give them lots of time for playing and exploring and asking questions.
     

I don’t know if the whole syllable thing is important. It’s not a skill I use personally.

I have also asked my two friends what their actual preschool’s goals are, but they are both busy moms and have not gotten back to me yet.

 

About, pregnancy

5 Weeks to Go!

We had an ultrasound on Monday at 34.5 weeks to check on our mystery guest.

My other two pregnancies were both breech with low amniotic fluid which resulted in me having 2 c-sections before I ever experienced a contraction. I may have had 1 contraction with Mr. 2 but I’m not really sure.

Well the results are in and this baby is not like its big brothers! (IS IT A GIRL?? I WANT TO KNOW!!!) As of Monday, it was “Cephalic” or head down, and the fluid level looked fine. We will have another ultrasound in 2 weeks (37 weeks) to make sure nothing has changed, but as of right now we are going to attempt a VBAC or TOLAC (trial of labor after cesaerean) or whatever the doctors are calling it these days.

“Why would you want to do that?” asks my husband. I don’t know, I’m kind of just curious what it’s like. Also Mr. 2’s C- section was quite scary so I’m more reluctant to just hop on the C-section train. (Here’s the story: The  spinal block was not effective and I could feel them cutting open my abdomen. Then they told my husband to leave and put me under anesthesia and it was very frightening. Everything was fine in the end; healthy baby and healthy mommy so don’t let that scare you too much.)

So, I’m going to whip out my favorite pregnancy resource Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy and read up on some important things like “How do I know when the baby is coming?” “What do I do when the baby is coming?” and related questions. I love this book because it keeps all the scary complications in their own separate section. I don’t want to read about increased risk of uterine rupture, because I prefer not to think horrible thoughts like that over the next 35 days.

By the way, I’m not the only one getting an ultrasound these days. We had an X-ray for the cat last Friday and there is something in her intestine. She’s having an ultrasound tomorrow to try to determine what it is. She hasn’t eaten anything in at least 2 weeks, so hopefully we can get this figured out without it costing as much as having a baby in the hospital in a month.

 

Adventures, Science

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

Last weekend we drove 45 minutes south of Seattle to go visit the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. 

This was our first time visiting the zoo, and although we had a rough start to the day we had a beautiful time at the zoo and got to visit a restaurant chain we like but that was closed down near our house. It was a really good day.

The worst part was when we realized we forgot Mr. (a)4’s jacket after 10 minutes of driving and had to turn around and drive back home to get it. The best part was:

The scenic view of the Sound, the amazing animals, the engaging children’s area, the beautiful weather, and the POLAR BEAR!!!!!

Honestly, we only saw about 1/3 of the park. We didn’t even make it to any of the aquariums and I had to hurry through the Asian forest (tigers, elephants, etc!) but I would highly recommend this park to any family. We are already planning to go back after the baby is born, because my mom would love it.

Conversations, Parenting

Conversations with the Kids #3

Early after bed time a few nights ago, I was standing at the kitchen counter eating Girl Scout cookies when my almost 4-year-old comes out to say good night one more time.

Him: What are you doing, mommy?

Me: oh, um… eating cookies. (I break off a piece and offer him some out of guilt.) Would you like some?

Him: No… don’t you know NO sugar before bed?!

Me: You are absolutely right, but I wasn’t planning on going to bed just yet.

Him: Okay, don’t forget to turn out the light when you do.

Me: Okay, I won’t.

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Gender identification with Mr. Almost 4:

Him: Mommy, why is Connor talking to that man? (Looking out our window at the neighbors.)

Me: Oh, that is his girlfriend. It’s not a man, she just has short hair.

Him: Oh. What are they talking about?

(A few days later)

Him: Mommy! Connor is talking to his girlfriend again!

Me: hmm? Oh… that’s not the girlfriend, that’s a man.

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Mr. 2 is always adamant about wanting to sleep in his big brother’s bed. I’ve let him do it 3 times now, and it usually takes about an hour for him to fall asleep. I usually just remind/threaten him that if he gets out of the bed he has to go into the crib so instead he stays on the bed looking at books and doing puzzles. I fall asleep waiting on him and get woken up by, “Hey Mama…help me count puzzle!” He’s been obsessed with counting and can go all the way to 8 without any hints or reminders. He likes counting so much that if you ask him, “what colors are the trucks?” he may just answer, “one, two, three!”.

 

Books, Parenting, pregnancy

42 days/6 weeks/1,008 hours

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This little cat is as old as my relationship with my husband; so a little less than 8 years. Unfortunately, for the last week she hasn’t been eating and has been leaving black tarry poops all over the house. We are taking her to the vet tomorrow to see what they say.

Continue reading “42 days/6 weeks/1,008 hours”

art, Daily Lessons, Math, Science

Counting Rings | Bird is the Word

46 days have never seemed so long! It is 46 days, or 6 and half weeks, until our due date on May 3. (Although my husband is apparently hoping for a May 4th C-Section… I think it’s Star Wars related.)

Today we made a paper chain to help us count down the days. Everybody helped a little. Even my husband got in on the action. The 2-year-old helped by demanding I draw things on the paper, and he also colored some of it himself. The (almost) 4-year-old helped by putting tape on the rings.

I chose blue and pink because we do not know the gender of the baby and I thought it would be a happy coincidence if the color matched the gender on the day of the birth. I also numbered each ring to make it easy to keep track of and so the boys can practice their number recognition. When it was done the almost 4-year-old counted to 46 with only a few mistakes (“eleventeen” instead of seventeen, etc).

What else is new?

Mr. 4 has been asking me everyday to do math. He just asks me questions like “What does 20 and 20 make?” “What does 40 and 40 make?”.

We are also learning a bit about birds. Thank you to Grandma for sending us that bird feeder and motivating us to learn more about the nature right outside our house. With the addition of some figurines and a book, we’ve been able to identify a few different birds. We’ve only seen robins and black-capped chickadee near the feeder, but the figurines have taught us to identify Orioles, Cardinals, Blue Jay’s, Blue Bunting and Yellow Warbler as well. I’m pretty proud that he and I are able to name these birds and I open the book everyday to point something out to the boys and reinforce the learning. It has been fun!

Mr. 2 has been building up quite the vocabulary, and has even been making up his own songs. He sang “The Firetruck goes round and round” at the aquarium today. He’s also naming lots of body parts, although he has a tendency to confuse my breast with my baby belly. In the car the boys always point out the red and green lights and tell me when to stop and go.

It has been an educational and busy week.