Saturday, February 1, 2014

I'm Back! And I've Got a New Reading Game

Greetings everyone!  I'm so sorry I've been away for so long (More to come on that later).  The kids are growing up fast and for a long, long time, I was content to let Munchkin Girl just play and not worry too much about learning to read or academics, since science shows that kids get much more out of problem solving and playing than from sitting down to learn letters.  Sure, we read lots and lots of books every day, but we rarely sit down at the table for "learning time".  However, with Kindergarten approaching quickly, we are trying to get more focused.  It turns out though, that getting her interested is harder than I thought.  Every time I suggest we work on reading or letters, she yells, "Noooo!!"  and runs away like I'm trying to get the kid to eat mushy spinach.

One thing she does really love is Play Dough, especially with the new toys we got (Play-Doh: Fun Factory Deluxe Set)

So, one day while they were playing I made my own shapes and matching words.  I honestly wasn't sure how she would do at this since we haven't worked on letters much, let alone full words.  I was shocked.  Her preschool teachers are clearly doing a wonderful job!  She matched everything up easily and was so proud of herself.  This was a super easy way to work on letters and reading!






For more ideas on reading and letters, check out my book, where my co-author and former Kindergarten Teacher, Susan Case, gives some fun ideas!

  





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Monday, October 28, 2013

The Problem with the Male Species

Men are just dumb  different than women.  This was illustrated in a whole new way to me last weekend.  I was putting my kids to bed and I had read about how important it is to make sure your kids know that you love them unconditionally.  With this in mind, one night I stroked my daughter's cheek and said in a soft voice, "Honey, I want you to know that I will always love you, no matter what.  Even when I'm mad or sad, or even when I'm working.  I always love you and NOTHING will change that."

My daughter got this huge smile on her face and just basked in the glory of my unconditional love. It was a very tender moment and I swear I had never seen her look so happy.

When went into my son's room, things got interesting.  I said the exact same thing to him, and I was expecting a similar response.  Instead, he got this sort of naughty grin on his face and said, "But Mommy, would you love me even if I pooped on your face?"

He giggled hysterically and as I searched for the proper response to that question, he continued to give me poop scenarios.  "But would you love me if I pooped in the dog bowl?  If I pooped on the kitchen table?"  You get the picture.  He was really getting a kick out of himself and when I left his room that night he was still laughing.

So the next time your husband forgets to tell you he loves you, just remember what he was like as a little boy.  I guess they just don't have the same sentimental needs as we do, and I think I can live with it, now that I am reminded about the true nature of men.  They really are weird.


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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Confessions of the Kitchen-Challenged Mommy

I swear I've tried to become a good cook.  Over the years I have bought multiple cookbooks, I joined "Crock-Pot Girls" during that craze of 2011.  Plus, I'm brave in the kitchen.  I try new recipes and I even cook every night.  They say practice makes perfect, right?? Yet my poor family still reluctantly has to eat every churned, lifeless item I put in front of them since skill in the kitchen continues to elude me and I have analyzed it and broken it down to these core weaknesses:

  • Whenever a recipe calls for a spice or some weird ingredient I've never heard of, I just leave out that ingredient.  I figure this is just proof of my creative bravado in the kitchen.  My husband, on the other hand, figures that this is why my recipes never turn out (although every time he says this he looks like a scared kitten, suddenly cornered by an aggressive and overly-handsy toddler, so I'm not sure his opinion counts)
  • I have had ants in my pantry for weeks.  Every time I find them in the sugar, the pancake mix, or whatever, I remove the offending item, then I half-heartedly clean the shelf that item was on, and for some reason I convince myself that this will take care of the problem.  What is wrong with me?  The truly mind-boggling thing about this is that my friends and family would tell you I'm a germaphobe.  Clearly I'm not a very devoted one.
  • I have massacred the same recipe wild rice casserole twice and for some absurd reason I tried it again last night, convinced I could do better.   I have no idea what I did wrong this time, but let's just say it took 2.5 hours for the water to absorb into the rice instead of the 30 minutes the recipe called for.  I finally threw that particular recipe into the trash.  Clearly a recipe with 6 ingredients is too challenging for me.
  • Similar to how I don't use irons, I don't use candy thermometers, food thermometers or anything of the sort.  I can't really figure out how they work so I just have faith that following the recipe will be enough.  I know what you're thinking.  I'm either deluded or I need to stop using recipes that call for candy thermometers and meat thermometers.
  • Whenever I make something that's awful, my poor husband does his best to grin and eat it.  I don't even bother.  Sometimes I would truly rather starve than eat my own creation so I guess that could be part of my problem.  
Never fear though.  I do make a mean green smoothie (which surprisingly the kids love) and I make a decent chocolate chip cookie so my family won't starve.  And I called someone to come out and take care of the ants.  Plus, I found a great place by my house that will make casseroles for me to bake at home.  Hallelujah.  


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Monday, August 19, 2013

Finally! A Breakthrough After Rock-Bottom!

Everything in life goes in cycles.  At least, that's what I keep telling myself.  After many months of relatively well-behaved children, suddenly we've had a rough couple of weeks with the kids.  For example:
  • Suddenly they are purposely trying to annoy the CRAP out of each other.  
  • I can't get my five year old daughter to go to bed at night.  She keeps coming back down, over and over with these supposed problems, just to stall her bedtime.  The other day she claimed she needed a band-aid and when I asked her where she wanted me to put it, she couldn't find the "ouchie" anymore.  Yeah, it must've been a pretty bad ouchie then.
  • Lots of whining, lots of "Mommmmmmyyyyyy!  I can't find my shooooooes!!!"
Honestly, I've been beginning to wonder why all my hard work wasn't paying off.  I really do my best to make them do things for themselves so they learn to be self-sufficient, I try to build up their self-esteem so they don't feel the need to try to get attention all the time, and I follow all the bedtime rules.  So why suddenly is everything wrong???

Then last night we finally had a break-through, and I'm telling you this so you can have hope too.  We had the attic fan on since it was a nice evening and all the doors and windows were open.  However, this meant that the doors weren't staying cracked open the way the kids like it at bedtime because the air in the house was pulling them shut.  I remember realizing this and thinking, "Uh-oh, she'll be visiting us about 10 times tonight and I'm sure that'll be one of her issues.  We'll have to figure out how to keep that door open."

But then I forgot about it and she never came down.  On my way up to bed later, I saw this when I glanced toward her room:



Now, this may not mean that much to you at first glance, but it meant the world to me.  Stupidly I even felt tears in my eyes, I'd never been so proud of my daughter and so happy that finally all my hard work was showing some results.  She obviously realized the door wasn't staying open the way she wanted, but instead of wandering down to whine to me and demanding that I fix it, she went into the guest bedroom, found a pillow, and figured out how to prop it open so it would be cracked.  Then, miracle of miracles, she went to bed!!!  

I've honestly never been so proud of her.  Talk about problem-solving skills, right!?!?  It made me think of the quote that my lovely co-author Susan Case found for our book:

"In everything you do in your family, keep in mind the miracle of the Chinese bamboo tree. After the seed for this amazing tree is planted, you see nothing, absolutely nothing, for four years except for a tiny shoot coming out of a bulb. During those four years, all the growth is underground in a massive, fibrous root structure that spreads deep and wide in the earth. But then in the fifth year the Chinese bamboo tree grows up to eighty feet!  Many things in family life are like the Chinese bamboo tree. You work and you invest time and effort, and you do everything you can possibly do to nurture growth, and sometimes you don't see anything for weeks, months, or even years. But if you're patient and keep working and nurturing, that "fifth year" will come, and you will be astonished at the growth and change you see taking place.”  ~Stephen Covey

For some ideas on ways to keep your toddlers and preschoolers busy, I hope you'll check out my book!