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

Learning All the Time – Part 1

I just finished reading Learning All the Time by John Holt. If you are interested in a quick book review click here. Otherwise stay tuned because I have SO much I want to talk about because of this book.

The purpose of this book is to illustrate that children are capable of learning reading, writing, and counting by themselves. It offers some advice on how to encourage them, and what mistakes should be avoided.

One thing John Holt feels strongly about is that you shouldn’t correct most of your children’s’ mistakes. They will often times learn from their own mistakes and just by watching and seeing/hearing other people do things correctly.

Continue reading “Learning All the Time – Part 1”

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!

 

About

Mother’s Day 2017

I’m having a wonderful day today, and I hope that you are too! My day has been full of happy surprises.I got to sleep in all the way to 8 am, and when I came out of the bedroom there was breakfast on the table and a hot cup of tea. Then, my husband took Mr. 3 to the grocery store while the baby was napping and I had a whole hour to myself to read and play with my new Kindle 8HD. But that’s not all, folks! They came home with beautiful flowers. Later the baby took his first few independent steps while playing basketball!  I’m so happy I could burst! Thank you!

Daily Lessons, Projects

Construction Site

This post is mainly about construction sites, and a little play dough project follows at the end. 

In Seattle, you can get in free to most major museums on Free First Thursday. That’s the first Thursday of every month. Today we were going to go to the Museum of History and Industry because Mr. 3 wanted to “ride up and down in the elevator” and also because they have an exhibit on building the rail road track in Seattle. It’s pretty fun because the kids get to pretend to hammer in the rail road nails and it makes loud noises.

IMG_6232Well, we made it down to South Lake Union, but we never made it to the museum. We were distracted by an awesome construction site.

The kids were so excited to see a construction site in action because usually we end up being close to one on the weekends, or in the car where they can not see as well.

[Side note: I think this is where the new Facebook buildings will go.]

There were so many things going on at this construction site! My favorite thing was probably watching them work on constructing a larger crane. We saw the white crane lift and move the wheel tracks for the big blue crane, and watched the workers attach it to the body.

We saw two different excavators. The orange one had a jack hammer attachment and was breaking up concrete from what was left of the parking lot. And the yellow one came by and dropped sludge close to us. I admit I shrieked with excitement to see how much came out.

It was pretty exciting and we talked and watched for about 30 minutes about the different equipment and things that we saw. We talked about colors, we counted excavators, we talked about how the workers use team work and planning to get everything done. We probably should have talked about safety (glasses and hard hats, and those bright neon jackets). 

My husband mentioned that he heard from a distant relative who works in construction that there are 162 active cranes in Seattle. I don’t know how accurate that is, but there were at least 5 active constructions sites between the one we were at and our lunch date with Daddy. [We went to Serious Pie & Biscuit, which is amazing and you should try it if you visit Seattle.]IMG_6255

When the kids finally got tired of the construction site we walked around the park at South Lake Union. We saw a gaggle of geese. This was particularly interesting because there were 3 generations of geese there!

You can’t see it in the picture, but there were teeny tiny yellow baby geese floating off to the side. SO ADORABLE! Still, we didn’t get too close because geese can be mean.

And boy do they poop. In the grass, on the sidewalk, in the water. Poop Poop Poop.

Then we went tIMG_6256o look at boats and play around until it was time to go eat.

Mr. 14 months is getting better at walking, and managed to walk a significant distance holding only one of my hands. He’s getting SO close to walking on his own. And of course he had to go up and down the stairs a few times. Neither of my boys ever avoid a staircase if they can help it. Good for them.

We also read some signs about the South Lake Union boating history. They used to build pleasure and fishing boats right there where the park is. And apparently a lot of Salmon swim in that lake, or at least they used to in the 1900’s.

There is supposed to be a thunderstorm this afternoon, but so far we have had the most beautiful day. Sunny and mid 60’s, and I am so thankful that we had such great time.

When the kids wake up, we may play construction site to reinforce some of the things we talked about. We use TinkerLab’s homemade play dough. This stuff is so nice, and the first batch we made last November is still in use several times a week. [All though the color is now brown because it all got mixed together.] We have some small construction trucks and I’m going to add some popsicle sticks and pebbles to clear out.

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Play Dough Construction Site

Requires:

Play Dough (make your own or store-bought)

Optional:

Little Trucks, cut up straws, popsicle sticks, marbles or little stones

Set up the construction site to invite your child’s interest and let them destroy or add to it as they like. 

I hope you had a beautiful day, too!

By the way, those cute little trucks are 5 for $10 on Amazon. Check it out! [Affiliate Link]

 

 

 

History, Science

Trains, Trains, Trains

Me: What’s your favorite thing to do in the morning?

Three: Play with TRAINS!

Me: What’s your favorite thing to do… in the afternoon?

Three: Play with TRAINS!

Me: What’s your favorite thing to do in the evening?

Three: Read a book… and play with trains!

Does that sound familiar to you? Is your child obsessed with particularly fond of trains?

We check out a great deal of train books at the library, and he was lucky enough to receive a train table and train set from his Oma for Christmas. (That’s german for “Grandma”).

Whoo whoo

The latest train book we have read is Whoo! Whoo! Goes the Train by Anne F. Rockwell. We have read a lot of train books, but I have never seen the word Semaphore before. Also, this book is full of bright pictures and has special emphasis on identifying colors. Mr. 3 and Mr. 1 both really like it and want to read it again and again.  (Amazon)

Semaphore: One of the earliest forms of fixed railway signal is the semaphore. These signals display their different indications to train drivers by changing the angle of inclination of a pivoted ‘arm’. [Wikipedia]

Basically, the trains use it to send messages like “Stop”, “Caution”, or “Clear”. Apparently it’s been around since the 1840’s and hasn’t even changed too much over the years.

Steam TrainOne of my personal favorite train books is Steam Train Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker. The reason I like this one, is not only does it rhyme, but it names all the different types of freight train cars. Now if we see a big freight train go by, I can remind the kids what they are called. (Amazon)

 

Autorack – I have never seen one of these, but that would be awesome! They are used like an auto carrier/car transporter.

Box Car – General purpose – I think these are the most common

Flatbed Car – Just like a flatbed truck… it’s flat and used to carry large things.

Freezer Car – Used to store cold goods

Tanker Car – Used for transporting liquids and gas, such as oil and gas.

Well Car – This sits a little lower than the traditional flatbed car and allows for double stacking shipping containers.

Gondola Car – A train car that has short walls but is open on the top, it can carry loose items.

It has been a while since I read that book, so I might be missing a few from the list, but it is very interesting.

Now I’m going to reward your continued reading with some interesting facts about trains. Links to original source are included.

  • The first railways in Great Britain were made between 1603 and 1604 as a simple “wagonway”. Modern railways came in the 1800s. (Source)
  • The U.S. embraced four time zones only after trains enabled fast travel across the continent. (Source) They are not to be blamed for day light savings time, though.
  • The word “train” dates back to the 14th century. Its original meaning, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, was: “Treachery, guile, deceit, trickery; prevarication.” (Source)
  • Ore trains in Sweden traveling down to the coast generate five times the amount of electricity they use, powering nearby towns and the return trip for other trains. (Source)
  • You can ride the Hogwart’s Express (movie version) in Scotland, although they do not call it that there. (Source)

Hopefully you have some new train facts to share with your kids.

Feel free to share your favorite train fact or train book below in the comments!

 

 

 

Language, Projects

Project: Large Dot to Dot

This project is super easy, all you need is paper and a writing utensil. I chose some packing paper left over from when we moved last year, and some colorful markers.

Sometimes it is refreshing just to change a few things up from the way you normally do things. That is why I wanted to use large paper and have them color/draw on the kitchen floor.

My goal with this was to emphasize words with the letter F because that is what my toddler wanted to learn about this week.

As per usual, my toddler did not use the project in its intended fashion (to complete the dot to dots to draw the F themed pictures and write the letter over and over), but he did have fun with it. He added a “mommy”  (blue scribbles in middle picture) and then a “Morgan” the dog (not shown). He really liked the airplane and guessed the associated word was “fly”, but instead of tracing it he just circled it vigorously.

He did trace the big Letter F’s with his finger. I asked him if he wanted to use the markers and he said no. I asked him if he was afraid of messing up, and he said yes. I told him it’s okay to mess it up. I told him I can make more F’s but he hasn’t worked up the courage.

I moved the project to our dining table in case he wants to come back to it later.

Let me know how the project worked for you, if you end up trying it!

Daily Lessons, Science

Tinkering Around

Mr. 3 has been in a tinkering mood this last week. I love to see him building. He still needs help sometimes but he gets the ideas in his head and we try to follow through together. (Mommy, I want to build an airplane! Let’s build a crane!) I love to watch him sitting there with his tongue out (a sure sign that he is thinking) and arranging the pieces the way he wants them to go. He is learning, and there is no doubt about that.

Tinkering has many benefits for children of all ages. I did some actual research on this, and this is what I learned.

  • “Tinkering during play is critical to children’s motor skills by teaching children to use their hands to shape, move, and manipulate,” said Lu Lewis, Creative Discovery Museum’s Early Childhood Coordinator. (http://cdmfun.org/tinkering-offers-valuable-skills-to-kids)
  • Tinkering can help develop their problem solving skills. (Multiple sources). Mr. 3 has been learning this lesson, too. When his garage roof collapses I ask him why he thinks that happens. He will answer “It needs more support”. Then I ask what we can do to support the roof, and he will answer by placing his cars under it as a support beam. 
  • Tinkering is an outlet for creativity, and experimentation. It allows him to build confidence if he succeeds and learn from his mistakes.
  • If children tinker together, it will often times help them build sharing and collaboration skills.

The things our children can tinker with can be as simple as toilet tubes and cardboard boxes. You could use play dough and toothpicks. You could use books or cups or… anything at all!

Mr. 3 likes to build with this Melissa and Doug Wooden Construction Set. I only wish their instructions weren’t on the back of the box, because you have to dump the whole thing to read them.


Mr. 3 also enjoys Playmags magnetic tiles for creating buildings and cargo trains. Mr. 1 is also hugely entertained by the magnets. He enjoys pulling them apart or dropping them into a bucket, or putting them on the refrigerator. I have even used them to distract the wiggle worm during diaper changes.


I also like the Duplo’s because there are instructions to follow, even though we only have 1 small set. Learning to follow instructions is surely an important life lesson, and I appreciate that Mr. 3 can look at the manual by himself and figure out what to do. (Mr. 1 destroyed the paper manual so we had to download it on the Kindle.)


What do your kids enjoy building with?

About

This job is hard.

I asked my husband last night if he ever felt overwhelmed, as if he felt in over his head. He said, sure, sometimes. I clarified, did he feel this way about the kids, did he ever not know what to do with them? And he said “no, never”.

That must be nice, because I feel overwhelmed and unsure several times a week.

Last night, shortly after bedtime, Mr. 1 makes an unusual cry and I go in to investigate. His foot is caught in between the crib and the wall and in the dark it looked completely backwards. I immediately try to get it out and without light it feels stuck and I freak out that his leg is broken or his ligament is torn and that’s when he starts crying for real. I feel like I’m the one that broke his leg so I yell for my husband and he comes running but by then the foot is out and the baby is fine. It all took about 30 seconds and I was the only one crying after that. 

My toddler watched the whole thing from his bed (they share a room) and said “what’s wrong?”. 

If I had taken the time to turn on a light and look at the foot or consider that the baby noises were of discomfort, not screaming pain, I would have realized there was no reason to worry.  

There are other signs that make me feel like I am not cut out for this job. We were brushing teeth last Thursday, the night I put them to bed myself because my husband plays basketball, and Mr. 3 was goofing around and not listening and I may have said something along the lines of “put your teeth together, doofus!”… 

It’s shameful, calling my three year old names, isn’t it? 

My husband tells me he thinks I’m doing a wonderful job… but there is no way to really tell, is there? 


I have to remind myself that these kids are happy and healthy. That is all that matters in the end. 

Do you ever feel like you don’t know what you’re doing? 

Projects, Science

Trees – without which there would be no life.

This week, when I asked what we should learn about, Mr. 3 chose to learn about trees.

We read “All About Trees” in our book Curiositree: Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature – Jacket unfolds into a huge wall poster!“>Natural World. It is just 3 pages in this book that breaks down the different parts of trees, shows different leaves for identification, and provides examples of the many creatures that live from or in trees, but the book also provides important information on some of the creatures that live in the trees, or how photosynthesis works, and so much more.

Photosynthesis: The process by which plants use sunlight to produce their own food and “ultimately for every creature on the planet” (Natural World, page 58) and as a by product they release oxygen for us to breathe. Photosynthesis. I like hearing my 3 year old say that word, it really makes me feel like this whole homeschool thing can work.

My favorite fact about trees is that they provide food and shelter for many different kinds of creatures. From the fungi that help decompose it at the end of a tree’s very VERY long life (some oaks can live up to 600 years!) to the owls, birds, squirrels, and bugs that nest among its branches or in it’s trunk. You would not guess that from looking at tree, but maybe we should look a little closer.

img_6107Other than reading, we’ve had some tree related activities to help expose him and encourage him to learn more.

1. In a rare moment of sunshine we took the dog on a walk and I pointed out how different some of the trees are. “These trees are so tall, that one has white blossoms, this one has red, look at this leaf it has 4 points” etc…

2.We (mostly me) collected different leaves and bunches of pine needles to bring home and try to identify.

3. We made tree art! This is a project for all ages and it can be as simple as painting trees. I provided some different drawing tools (sponge brush, Qtips, paintbrush, wine corks) in the hope that they could make different kinds of leaves with them.

img_6149I left the leaves and book out for inspiration.

I covered my table and provided only 2 cups of paint to keep it simple. 1 cup for green leaves (it’s spring!) and 1 cup for mixing red and green to make brown.

My toddler enjoyed mixing the paint.

We use Handy Art Little Masters Tempera paint, and it washes off really easily and doesn’t leave stains on the clothes. I did ask 3 to wear a smock and 1 was only in a diaper, just in case.

3’s first picture was completely his own design, and he surprised me by taking the big leaf and painting on it. He wanted to glue it on the paper so I brought him glue. img_6152

Next I painted some tree trunks for him to add leaves to, and he used the wine cork to do it.

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Baby was working hard getting paint on the tablecloth and chair, but he did most of the following painting.

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The paint comes right off with a wet washcloth, so the chair is fine! Our chairs are dark wood and white leather and it wipes of off both very easily,

And finally, mom’s gotta have fun too, so this is the picture I made:

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The whole thing lasted about twenty minutes and ended with a short bath, but it was a lot of fun!

Project Summary: Painting Trees

Supplies:

Thick paper

Tempera paint

Various brushes, Qtips, wine corks, leaves and twigs.

Instructions:

Cover your table or area to protect it, and experiment in making different leaf shapes and mixing colors for trunks or flower blossoms.

Feel free to comment below if this project was a success for you, or if you have any cool facts to share about Trees!