Math, Projects, Science

Cooking with Kids – Pizza

I believe I mentioned before that letting your children help out in the kitchen, while hard on your counters and floors, is beneficial for them in multiple ways.

Pizza is a great way to let them help out. They can do it all (make the dough, roll it out, put on toppings) or just help with the toppings.

I use the American Test Kitchen pizza dough recipe, it makes a small pizza so I normally double it. I let my 3-year-old help dump the measuring spoons, help me count scoops, and press the buttons on the processor.

Combine 1 cup BREAD flour, 2/3 tsp instant yeast, a little salt. Add 1 tbsp oil and then slowly add up to 7 or 8 tbsp of water until it forms a ball and is no longer sticking to processor. (By slowly, I meant you should run the processor every few scoops to see how it’s mixing.) Take it out and knead it a bit and form a ball. Let it rise in a covered bowl for an hour and then roll out and add toppings. I bake mine at 375(F) for 10 minutes, or until all the cheese is nice and gooey and the crust is starting to turn golden. You may need to change the cooking time and temperature based on your toppings.

It’s easy, it’s delicious, and it is fun! Let your kids in on the joy of cooking. They may even want to help wipe down the counter when they are done. (Mine did not, they wanted to eat the rest of the shredded cheese, resulting in my having to vacuum when the 1-year-old started dropping cheese everywhere.)

Parenting

Ask more questions

It’s funny how when you buy a car you start seeing it everywhere. Or when you (or your spouse) are pregnant you start noticing pregnant women everywhere. 

I read an interesting quote from Alfie Kohn’s Unconditional Parenting and it opened my eyes to dealing with some of my 3 year old’s behavior.

I almost always answer his questions directly, but this may not be ideal. Apparently, it could be very beneficial for him to think up some answers on his own.

Even when we’re unwilling to give kids the last word, we can still give them the first word— that is, a chance to make their case. Thus, when children ask whether it’s okay to do something, it often makes sense to respond with “Well, what do you think?” This lets them know that their viewpoint counts, and also invites them to play an active role in considering the implications of their request.

After I read this, I noticed Mr. 3 would ask me behavior questions. Perhaps it is coincidence, but I had never really heard him do this before. I decided that he should have the chance to decide a few things.

Mr. 3: Does Blippi put his feet on the table? (Read: can I put my feet on the table ?)

Me: …What do you think?

Mr. 3: No, he doesn’t. 

And he didn’t put his feet on the table, which is an improvement because when he is a baby (as opposed to a dog, a squirrel, Blippi, or anything) he and his brother tend to get in contests to see who can put their feet on the table and scream the loudest.

Mr. 3: *giggles while reaching into the toilet a little* Does Blippi touch the toilet water?

Me: (Thinking: EW you JUST peed in there!!) … What do you think?

Mr. 3: *takes hand out* No, he doesn’t.

And later he asked if Blippi sleeps with his hat on and decided that, yes, he does sleep with his hat on. This is not something worth arguing about so I agreed. He took the hat off a few minutes later because it was hot and\or itchy, but it was his choice.

By the way, it’s been over 24 hours since I yelled at my kids, and I am feeling strong!

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”

Adventures, Health, Science

Imagination and Curiosity

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something using these links, I may receive a teeny percentage at no extra cost to you.

Imagination and curiosity are two traits I admire and value. I love to see my children grow more confident and detailed in their games. I also love when my children ask questions about things that they are interested in.

My 3-year-old has recently developed a really goofy giggle and he will ask me a question such as, “Do baby dogs come from the MAMA dog or the DADA dog? Heeeheheh”

Curiosity

There are two books from the library that have really inspired the 3-year-old. Especially when he is trying to delay nap time, he will ask me questions upon questions, upon questions. 2017-07-12_14-10-16_959

The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss. I borrowed this book because it is not always easy getting my children to brush their teeth. This book has some examples of why we need teeth and what we shouldn’t do with our teeth. It’s not terribly educational, but is rhyming and fun.

This book has inspired such questions such as, “why do beavers chew on trees?” and, “Do they really chew the trees down?” And after discussing beavers and their dental issues, “Do our teeth keep growing and growing? Do we need to go to the dentist to cut our teeth shorter?”

It’s NOT the Stork by Robie H. Harris. We’ve been trying for baby #3 and my 3 year old has had a lot of questions about babies and where they come from. This book is geared toward children 4 years and older, but I thought we would try it out. It’s a very straightforward but detailed book about “Girls, Boys, Babies, Families, and Friends”. I felt a little shy reading this to my 3-year-old, but he kept wanting to read more and more.

Now he asks me questions such as, “Does M- have a penis or a vagina?” “Where do baby giraffes come from?” “Does the daddy giraffe put sperm inside the mommy giraffe’s eggs?” “Why are dogs not people?” “Where do baby dogs come from?”

I had to try really hard not to laugh when he asked me if I went to the toilet and dropped him into it when he was born. I explained that generally people go to a clean hospital, and that I had to have a cesarean to have him and his brother. I explained the process and showed him my scar. Then he asked about his brother. Then he asked me if giraffes go to the giraffe hospital to give birth.

The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington recently announced the birth of  baby giraffe there. We haven’t seen it, but I’m starting to suspect that he’s interested.

Imagination

2017-07-06_09-25-55_676

I think a lot of us are familiar with the long list of benefits of children growing up with pets.

1. Having a friend.

2. Building a child’s confidence

3. Teaching them empathy and responsibility

4. Exposing them to allergens and dust early can reduce the numbers and intensity of allergies that the children may develop.

Parent magazine has a great article about this. Yet, there is a benefit that isn’t mentioned in the article, and this is fueling the child’s imagination. My children spend a significant amount of time playing at being dogs. They like to climb into the crate, run around barking at delivery people, rolling on the floor, and just generally do what little puppies do (except sleep all day long, unfortunately).

2017-07-09_10-39-10_320Sometimes this imaginative play takes place in public areas. The dog park was especially fun for the 16 month old. You can see him rolling around on the rocky floor when I pointed out that our dog was getting tired and was laying down.

I took him to Magnusson Dog Park north of Seattle because this is the biggest and coolest dog park for the northern suburbs. It is enormous, has a beach, shaded areas, open field, little dog area, walking trail, wooden bridges. Also there is a playground next to the parking lot, which is where daddy and Mr. 3 spent their time.

Mr. 1 loved walking over the wooden bridges, and throwing rocks, and most of all 2017-07-09_10-47-29_473meeting all the variety of dogs. Big ones, small ones, brown, white, black, spotted, golden, shy, loving, playful, quiet, and loud dogs.

If you haven’t taken your child to a dog park, I would put it on your to do list. There is so much to see and talk about. You may need to give them a bath later, but it is well worth the mess.

What inspires the kids in your life to use their imaginations in play? 

Language, Projects

Sing along art

Another simple craft brought to you by me.


We used chalk and construction paper because I like the way it feels and because it’s different from the crayons and markers they use more frequently. You may use whatever medium you have at hand.


Basically, with the child sitting on your lap, you sing a nursery rhyme or favorite song. While you are singing you and your child can draw about what’s in the song. 

I sang Old McDonald Had A Farm for both kids and let them choose which animals or things were on the farm. 

My 3 year old wanted a mommy and daddy and baby cows and pigs. 

I also drew La La Lemon by the barenakedladies. The band name sounds inappropriate but this song is totally fine and absolutely hilarious. La la la was one of the first noises Mr. 1 would make consistently so we sing this a lot.


I’m clearly not the best artist, but the process of doing this together was a fun connection building activity. The young kids got to participate in the art even if they didn’t want to draw.


Some other songs that are great for this would be:

  • Green grass grows all around (there was tree… and on that tree there was a limb,branch,nest,egg,bird,etc)
  • Mary had a little lamb
  • Farmer in the dell

Basically anything that gives you time to draw simple objects that your children are familiar with.

This activity brings their favorite songs to life.

What song would you draw?

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!

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.

 

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?)