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. 

Parenting

Guilt

I was complaining to my mother a few weeks ago about how much I had been yelling at my kids, and her response was simply, “You are going to feel that way for the rest of your life. I still feel guilty today.”

That is both depressing and terrifying and I dont want to feel that way.

For the most part I remember my childhood quite fondly, and was good friends with my mom throughout my teenage years and still today. But if there is a way to avoid the blow ups and yelling and dragging across the room by the hair ( I will never let you forget), then I need to learn it now. Rumor has it that adolescents are even more infuriating than 3 year olds.

They may look like angels…

I started reading Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn and he is saying all the right things. He is saying that parenting is hard, really hard, and that we all make mistakes. He is saying our number one job is to love our children and that sometimes the things we do to them make them forget that we do love them.He is saying with an open mind and heart we can change. We don’t have to yell at our children, we have to listen to them. We don’t have to put them in time out to cry inconsolably and forget the reason why, we have to comfort them and explain, show them a better way to do things.

Hindsight is always clearer and it’s so darn difficult in the heat of the moment to remember these things. For example, Mr. 3 poked me in the eye with his toothbrush and did not listen to me in my repeated requests to acknowledge me, brush his teeth, and put on his diaper. He would periodically and with increasing frustration say, “my name is Morgan!”

Well, that is NOT the name I gave him, and in MY increasing frustration I kept not calling him Morgan, which made him not listen to me. Finally I yelled, and then I cried, and then I apologized and said I needed a moment to calm down. Then I realized my mistake, and apologized for calling him the wrong name and I asked him to be patient with me because I had been calling him — for 3 years and it’s hard to stop. He told me he was happy now and we proceeded to read stories and finish getting ready for bed.

I know I have a lot to learn, and lots of patience to build up. I want to try though, because I love my children and I want what is best for them. I want to listen to them, respect them, and teach them some better problem solving skills than I currently possess. I definitely do NOT want to yell at them again as it is bad for everyone involved.

Adventures

Pike Place Farmer’s Market

Last week we went to the Pike Place Farmer’s Market.

In Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book Of Homeschooling he says to be wary of going on field trips for field trips sake. He emphasizes that your children will learn more and better if it’s something they or you are interested in, or if it’s necessary to go.

(I’m still working my way through the book, but it is not quite as inspiring as I found Learning All the Time to be. This is because some of the anecdotes are the same and Teach Your Own is less John Holt and more just letters from parents to his Growing Without Schooling magazine. )


Well we had to go to the Farmer’s market at Pike Place for two reasons:

1. That is where Bavarian Meats, the only German store and deli that I am aware of in this area is located.

2. We needed to buy some local honey.

Also as a bonus reason, we were out of fruit at home.

The boys both enjoyed the trip.

We parked at the Target because it is free if you spend at least $20 at Target, and we needed towels and underwear for Daddy.

Then we walked one block and found ourselves at the market. First stop was the honey, which was quick and easy.

Next, we threaded our way through the crowds (even on a weekday morning) to the other end of the market to find the German store. We stocked up on wieners, Knackwurst, and Bratwurst, and pretzel bread. I also got some Grießbrei pudding mix.

The ladies at the store are super sweet and they gave each of my boys a wiener, and then I received a smoked sausage as well.

Then we walked by the Beechers cheese shop where you can watch them making cheese in large tubs. Mr 3. was fascinated with this and we watched for quite a while.


Then we pushed our way back to one of the fruit markets and purchased some beautiful blueberries, raspberries, and a bunch of bananas. The boys were still hungry after the sausage so we went to the waterfront viewing area to eat some of the bananas.  The viewing area was really just 4 windows that looked past highway 99 to the water. The boys enjoyed watching the cars and trucks on the highway.


We finished up our trip by going back to Target. At this point Mr. 1 fell asleep in the stroller and Mr. 3 got really grumpy. When I was paying he refused to walk forward and wandered away toward the cereal. He then caused a scene when I insisted he listen and get in the stroller, resulting in my losing my place in line and forcing him into the stroller. 5 minutes later he was asleep in the car.

I let them sleep in the car, and when they woke up I made quesadillas and let them enjoy the berries. A colorful market lunch.


Overall it was a fun time, and we will go again in a few months for more German food.

About, Parenting

Teach Your Own – John Holt – Chapter 2

I am reading another John Holt book, so I have a lot I want to talk about. This book is Teach Your Own, the how and why of homeschooling. John Holt originally wrote this book in the 60’s, but the book has been updated in 2003 by Pat Feranga.

Chapter two addresses the common homeschooling questions of, “how will my children learn enough”, “how do I teach my kids for x number of hours a day,”. More importantly it provides some background and studies on what it takes to be a good teacher, and to be successful at homeschooling.

Continue reading “Teach Your Own – John Holt – Chapter 2”

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?

About, Parenting

10 Minutes / Big Boy Bed

We’ve been having some bed time struggles with the 3-year-old. I think it has to do with the baby regression that was mentioned in a previous post, where my 3-year-old acts like a baby in order to get more attention. At nap time he has been asking me to lay down with him, and it has gotten to the point where he is unlikely to nap if I don’t lay down. Alternatively, if I do lay down and say something along the lines of, “Mommy is tired, I am going to lay down. Will you join me?” he usually (not always) jumps at the opportunity.

And yet at night, he would cry every time mommy and daddy would back out of the room and close the door. He shares a room with baby brother, but it is not the same.

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Yesterday he told me he wanted to lay down with someone who “has a mouth” and “can talk”. This was specified after he rejected laying down with his stuffed animals, and he also rejected laying down with our dog.

Well, astute parents that we are, we decided to get him a full size bed to replace his open crib so that one of us can lay down with him at night until he gets settled and calm. 5/7 nights last week he has gone to bed with a minimum to no fuss. He cried once when I left because he was having trouble settling down due to a large fly in the room.

This has also been an opportunity to witness the cuteness that is baby brother (15 months old) and his love for Little Blue Truck. He will roll around with that book and rub it on his face. He will sit and read it and point at all the pictures. It is a wonderful thing to cuddle with Mr. 3 and watch Mr. 1 settle down in his crib. Usually I stay for 10 minutes and then try to excuse myself, but it is a happy 10 minutes. 10 minutes that makes me feel more connected and close to my children. 10 minutes away from the demands of a messy house, phone full of emails, and everything else.

10 minutes just to love my children.

(Before bed we brush teeth, read 1-2 books, and sing 1-2 songs. Then we lay down and try to sleep.)

What do you do for bedtime?

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!

 

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.