I just want to let everybody know that this week is final exam week for me. If I happen to be absent a day or two, you'll know that I have been buried by a pile of avalanching text books.
I had one exam tonight and the other is on Thursday night. That one is going to require some amount of studying, so it may be that tomorrow and Thursday are light on the postings.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I just want to let everybody know that this week is final exam week for me. If I happen to be absent a day or two, you'll know that I have been buried by a pile of avalanching text books.
Posted by Mom at 8:00 PM
Being an expert does not necessarily mean that I have all the answers. What it does mean is that I know when to ask for advice when I need it.
Today, I am asking for advice from my readers because I have reached a point where I am out of ideas.
As I told you earlier, Kira has a new friend. The Friend and Kira spend as much time together as possible. They adore each other and having to leave is traumatic for Kira. I've used all the known methods for making this easier, but it isn't working.
(The Friend is here now because her Mom surrendered at 8:30 this morning and called with great apologies begging for admittance because she - The Mom - just couldn't take it anymore. She was very apologetic for calling before 9:00. Of course, we are always up that early and I am usually being assaulted by Kira with the same pleas for playtime with The Friend.)
I tell Kira when the visits begin how long they will last.
I tell Kira about a half hour before it is time to leave.
I tell Kira about ten minutes before it is time to leave.
I tell Kira about five minutes before it is time to leave.
As you can see, I provide her with the proper count down to prepare her for the end of the playing.
It isn't working. Last night, after The Friend had spent a few hours here and even had dinner with Kira, I warned Kira that it was almost time for The Friend to leave. Lo and behold, time to leave came and Kira melted down. She did not want her friend to leave. She wanted to go to her friend's house to play some more. She did not want to go to bed. She wanted her friend.
I even plan for some kind of activity to begin when The Friend leaves. Last night, Daddy was going to read her stories from her new Thomas the Tank book. She proclaimed that she did not like that - She wanted to play.
I really do not know how to make this easier for her. I am not ready for sleep-overs, here or there. I think she is too young for having sleep-overs unless she is staying with a Grandma. So playing does have to come to an end. The Friend has to go home eventually.
As much as I enjoy watching this new relationship, I just hate having the heartbroken Kira when The Friend has to leave.
I'm open to any advice that you may have for telling me how to make the transition less traumatic for Kira and The Friend.
Posted by Mom at 9:17 AM
Monday, April 28, 2008
Angel - 18 years old.
Angel came to live with us when she was 15. Her father is my brother, but only by technicality. I no longer claim or accept him due to the way he treated his daughter. Luckily, he is now a permanent resident of the State of Georgia penitentiary system.
When Angel first came to live with us, she was about to start the 9th grade - again. She was academically and socially behind from the lifestyle her father had subjected her to. After we got custody of her from the state, I began homeschooling her. She progressed in leaps and bounds. By the end of the first year of homeschooling we had covered Math and English from the 5th grade level on up to the proper grade level for her. In the second year of homeschooling she was studying college level Sciences. Her confidence in herself grew and her knowledge increased beyond anything she had ever expected of herself prior to coming here.
Angel's greatest interest and skill is art. She can draw quite well. When we provided her with the tools and opportunity to express her artistic skills, she threw herself into drawing. She even wrote one book and will hopefully perfect the illustrations so I can send it off to a publisher. I think it is a good children's book and would easily sell.
Angel turned 18 in March, and of course she couldn't wait to move out and be on her own without any rules and such. While it is easier on many levels to have her out on her own, I miss her quite a lot. I worry constantly about the choices she is making for herself now because I see that they could potentially leave her in a difficult position. Unfortunately, as a mom I have to sit back and let her make her own choices and her own mistakes even though I desperately want to protect her from the obvious hardships that she is setting herself up for.
I'm really proud of how much she has grown. I still miss her, though.
Posted by Mom at 9:22 AM
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Lately, people are talking about the scarcity of certain food items such as rice and flour. Randall and I have been talking today about this issue because the fanatics of the world are claiming that rationing and martial law are imminent here in America. As a parent, this is a quite disturbing concept to think that I may not be able to purchase enough food to feed my children. I'm spoiled because I've never really had to be too concerned about finding food. Even on my worst day, financially speaking, there was still food to be had.
Of course, I can find nothing official from any government site that insinuates any of these conspiracy theorist possibilities may be true. Nothing that says the US has actually agreed to let Canadian troops patrol our streets, and US troops patrol Canada in the event of food riots and food shortages has been shown anywhere other than tabloid type newspapers. This leads me to believe that the prospect of massive food shortages here in the USA are probably a product of extreme survivalists and government conspiracy theorists at work.
However, in honor of such shocking and frightening reports, I feel the need to provide you with a few simple tips for protecting yourself in the event of any type of food shortages or food rationing that may occur as a result of the low supply of certain food products. These tips are also useful in case there is any kind of natural disaster that renders you stranded in your home and unable to reach any food sources.
First, keeping a supply of sealed bottled water is always a good idea. You should have about one gallon per person per day stored to last a minimum of one week and preferably two weeks in case there is some natural disaster or other similar situation that would render the water supply unusable. Buying water by the gallon is far less expensive than buying it in cases of 20 oz bottles. If you opt to store water, be sure that you purchase factory sealed water instead of just filling up a few gallon jugs. This will insure that your water supply stays fresh.
Second, canned goods (with a manual can opener) are always a good option for stocking your pantry shelves. A wide variety of vegetables and meats are best. Both products will keep for an extended period of time, so stocking up on these items is useful even if there isn't an actual shortage because prices are bound to increase. Buying now when the prices are lower could easily be considered as a financial investment. Be sure that you purchase a wide variety of foods. Tuna, salmon and chicken are good choices for canned meats. Soups are also wonderful options.
Third, get the dried goods. Yes, you really should have a supply of rice and pasta on hand. I'm not suggesting that you go out and buy several pounds of rice, but having a few boxes of Minute Rice in the pantry is useful. The same goes for dried pasta and pasta sauces. They keep for an extended length of time and they are perfect staples for your dinner table. Include a few boxes of Stove Top Stuffing and whatever kind of potato products your family enjoys. You might even want to get a few boxes of cake mix or brownie mix. Muffin mixes are good to have on hand, too. Fresh, hot muffins are awesome. Oh, and don't forget the flour, corn meal, and Bisquick. Those are all important staples, too.
Fourth, canned fruits are yummy treats for everybody. You can keep a supply of various canned fruits on hand for creating desserts or just having a small treat. They are fairly inexpensive and if the time comes when money is really tight, you will still be able to give your family something special without feeling like you've over stepped the budget.
Fifth, everybody needs some sugar and spice - and I'm not talking adorable little girls here. You should have some sugar and your standard spices in your cabinet just in case. I would recommend you stock your sugar based on how much you use. I don't use much sugar unless I'm making tea. So if I expect I'll have to make tea, then I would stock about 5 pounds of sugar. Of course, if I think this is all getting seriously close to being a reality I will probably stock about 10 or 20 pounds of sugar. The same goes for the tea bags here, I'll probably be getting two or three boxes of tea bags to put in my pantry. Tea is a decent substitute for Coke and I can't really stockpile the Coke because it has a limited shelf life. (What would my world be without my Coke? I really hope I don't have to find out...) Powdered milk is also a good item to have. It is very useful for cooking and costs much less than fresh milk without losing any of the flavor.
Finally, stock some of your freezer essentials. You can freeze butter. You should also try to have a supply of inexpensive meats. Ground beef and chicken are usually the best options. If you happen to have a deep freezer, now is the time to fill it full. If not, just fill your regular freezer as efficiently if you can.
Biggest on my list of surviving these somewhat turbulent times --- Keep your sense of sanity and intelligence. While the conspirators may be claiming global destruction, this really is nothing new. For as long as I can recall the world has been coming to an end.
Posted by Mom at 8:56 PM
Posted by Mom at 12:04 PM
Saturday, April 26, 2008
How cool is this. I got an email this morning telling me that I won one of the give aways. I'm so excited and surprised. I never actually expected to win anything.
Here's a link to what I won and the site that is giving it away. Take some time to browse her site.
Posted by Mom at 12:04 PM
Posted by Mom at 9:04 AM
Friday, April 25, 2008
Kira has a new friend.
Our new neighbors moved in about a month ago and they happen to have a 4 year old daughter. Well, Kira and The Friend hit it off immediately. Now The Friend's mother and I wake up to our little girls begging to be together. It is really a lot of fun to see this new friendship and to watch the two girls play together. They spend hours a day with each other and rarely disagree. Yes, I know that will likely change when all this novelty wears off, but for now we both just love watching our girls enjoy each other's company.
The Friend and Kira, of course, have started excluding Marisa from their play because she's "too little" or "too young" to play with them. I struggle with this because Marisa really is too young to fully understand that she is not being included and is just being a pest when she's following the two girls around. My rule here is that nobody gets to be mean to anybody else, including Marisa, but I know that I will have to intervene eventually with some kind of exciting distractions for the baby.
Today I have invited The Friend and her mom to join us for a trip to the park. The two girls can play to their little hearts' content and dear Marisa will have plenty of distractions to keep her busy, too. I'm excited. The Friend and her family moved here from Maryland and know very little about the area, so our trip to the park is my chance to show my new friend around her new town. (Lucky me, I hit it off with The Friend's mom just as well as Kira hit it off with The Friend.
This whole excluding of the baby sister is new territory for me. I'm not sure exactly how to maneuver through all of this because I respect that Kira and her friend will want and need time away from Marisa. I also fee for Marisa as I know she will come to resent being excluded unless I make it something special for her when the other two are busy excluding. I also know that this is all a normal part of growing up and finding their own way and their own identities separate from each other.
Posted by Mom at 10:49 AM
Over the past few weeks, I've developed a few faithful visitors who come here nearly every day to see what is going on. You've posted links to me on your own blogs. You love me and I can tell.
I work hard to post daily and sometimes twice a day in order to provide fun and interesting content.
Now I want to ask something of you. If you truly enjoy my site and what you read here, would you kindly pass the word on to all your friends. If you are a member of a social networking site such as My Space or Cafe Mom then I would appreciate it if you would take the time to share my site.
I know I can use the ptc sites to increase the actual number of visits, but what I really want here is faithful readers. I want to reach those parents out there that might benefit from what I have to say (and might be interested in any of those lovely links all over the place...).
I want people to ask me questions so I can continue my Dear Mom posts. I want to entertain and amuse the parenting world.
Let's face it, I just want to be popular. I want to be well liked. I want to be the place where people go when they've had a hard day and need a short break from the rest of the world.
Face it, nobody can like me until they meet me. Please help them meet me. Tell the world...or at least tell everybody you can come into contact with.
Posted by Mom at 7:49 AM
I know who you REALLY want to meet. You want to meet the people who allow me to claim such a high level of expertise in the realm of parenting. After all, if you are going to follow any of my advice, you must be certain that I have some level of training for which to rely on when advising you. Right?
Well, meet experiment subject #2. (I'll get to #1 later. This one happens to be a bit more adorable in a cutesie way...) You should also be forewarned that this is going to be a bit of a bragging post. It happens to the best of us. Just roll your eyes and read on.
What she knows --- counting, colors, numbers, letters and their sounds, shapes, all the animal sounds, largest / smallest, shortest / tallest, simple mazes, matching, same / different, sets and what doesn't belong, sorting by color
She knows what a stop sign means and what red, yellow and green lights mean.
She knows to say Thank You when someone holds the door for us and then to tell them to have a nice day. She knows to greet the cashier at the store and tell her to have a nice day before we leave. (I'm a stickler for manners...if nothing else my children will be polite little monsters.)
-the difference between leopards, cheetahs, and lions / how they kill and how they eat / how they raise their babies
- what raids the turtle egg nests and eats the eggs
-lions and tigers are afraid of elephants
- bats eat bugs and sleep upside down. Some bats eat fruit. Bats use their ears to see.
-high sounds vibrate fast and low sounds vibrate slow. Vibration makes sounds. Sound echos by bouncing off walls.
- bacteria makes you sick. White blood cells eats the bacteria to help make you better.
- Bees make honey by finding nectar in flowers. Bees put nectar in the honey comb and then stir and fan the nectar to make honey. Bees eat honey and feed honey to their babies.
- Plants have roots and stems. Roots grow down and stems grow up. Roots get water for the plant. Leaves use sunlight to make food for the plant.
- Mercury is too close to the sun to live there.
- Evaporation of water and how clouds are formed. Then how clouds turn into rain and the process starts all over again.
- how words are made and that vowels glue all the words together
- She can read simple 3 letter words.
- She can do simple addition and subtraction. (1+1, 2+3, 3-1, 1-1, etc.)
- She knows that a penny is worth 1, a nickel is worth 5, a dime is worth 10, and a quarter is worth 25.
I did warn you that I would be bragging, now didn't I? Kira picks things up so quickly and, well, we watch a lot of videos. See, I don't have any TV reception here - by choice - so she only has her movies to watch. She watches her movies over and over and over and over and over and over and over - well, you get the idea. We've seen the Bee School Bus movie about 30 times and the Human Body School Bus movie about 50. We have several of the School Bus movies and she rotates through them, but she has her favorites, too. Right now her fave is the Creepy Crawly Fun movie about sound, bats, and spiders. I highly recommend the Magic School Bus for its educational and entertainment value.
We are currently working through the Pre-K Comprehensive Curriculum workbook as her schooling. She loves doing worksheets, but her attention span only lasts through about two of the sheets and then she gets just plain silly, but she still wants to do school. Hmmm....perhaps I need to have a few silly worksheets to add to the end of the lesson.
Posted by Mom at 7:49 AM
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Today's entertainment tip is just for the parents. I don't really recommend sharing this with your children unless they are old enough to truly appreciate the humor to be found in failure.
Randall introduced me to a new website last night. I spent at least an hour last night laughing myself into an asthma attack. This is so funny.
Fail Blog is this wonderful site that depicts photographs of failure. Yes, that's right. Somebody has compiled a unique and hilarious collection of photographs that show just how bad - and funny - failure can be.
You'll notice, too, that I have added Fail Blog to my Sites to See list so you (and I) can easily access this site whenever a good giggle is needed.
Be forewarned, though. You do not want to view this site from work or anywhere where uncontrolled laughter will be an issue. Oh, and some of the photos may be a bit offensive (though not inappropriate) - particularly if it happens to be you who failed....
Posted by Mom at 9:33 AM
Grandma Janet - She's another one who I won't be sharing her age. I don't need any Grandma Mutiny on my hands. This is Randall's stepmother and, as you can see, she just loves those girls.
Until recently, Janet made Friday such a special and exciting day because Friday meant that the girls would be leaving for at least a few hours to go to Janet's house unless they were already planning to go to Grandma Shari's house. Between the two Grandmas, weekends were hardly ever spent at home unless we, the parents, made an appointment to have our girls home. Since Janet retired, the girls tend to spend their weekends at home or with Grandma Shari. Now, they go off to Grandma Janet's during the week, so I still get some much needed free time.
Posted by Mom at 8:33 AM
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Today's educational tip also happens to be a little bit Earth friendly in nature, too. I didn't really plan it that way, but since it's that time of year when being Earth friendly is highly publicized, I figured I would include that little bit of information along with my educational tip.
My title says bottle caps and you're probably wondering what in the world bottle caps have to do with education.
Most of my readers are not aware of this, but I am a homeschooler. My (almost) 2 yr old and my 3 yr old will be exclusively home schooled. My 13 yr old is not, but he needs more structure than I could ever pretend to give him. I'm not terribly sure how I managed to spawn such a structured and schedule-oriented child, but that is exactly what he is.
As part of my homeschooling endeavor, I have opted to spend as little as possible on any actual curriculum that I choose to use for teaching my girls. To this end, spending hundreds of dollars on Math manipulatives is not something I was ever going to do. One day I was thinking about all the different Math lessons that would need to be taught and it dawned on me that I could find my own props for these lessons without spending any extra money.
I drink Cokes frequently. My brother drinks sodas. My mother-in-law drinks water. All around me are people who purchase, and toss, 20 oz bottles on a daily basis. I enlisted the crowds to my cause. I spread the word that I was on the lookout for bottle tops of every color possibly made. The crowds, of course, thought I was crazy (perhaps I should say crazier than they had already suspected...). They did not fully understand why I had developed this sudden obsession with bottle caps, yet they humored me and honored my request by providing me with several bottle tops. My dear brother even called me frequently to ask if I need this color or that before he bought his kids' drinks for the day. They all pitched in.
My resulting collection consists of about 100 or more plastic bottle caps in just about every color available. I think pink is the only color I have not yet managed to acquire.
By now you are probably agreeing with my family that I have, indeed, entered the realm of questionable sanity. Yet these wonderful --- and relatively free --- objects are amazing for teaching children. Below are just a few of the lessons that I have already taught Kira using my bottle cap collection:
Colors - just from playing with the caps and talking about them
Sorting - I gave her several bowls and showed her how to separate the caps by color. She was nearly 3 yrs old at the time and when I came back to check on her she had sorted all the caps properly.
Counting - How many red caps are there, etc.
The following lessons will be taught later as the girls are old enough to comprehend:
Sequencing / Patterns
The possibilities are truly endless.
Now that you know how wonderful bottle caps can be, stop throwing them away. Even beyond the educational value, a small child will be fascinated by the box of caps for at least 20 minutes and that is worth every ounce of storage space required to keep all these caps.
Please note: I washed all my caps in the dishwasher by placing them inside by bottle top cleaning basket. I also run them through occasionally to eliminate some of those built up germs.
Posted by Mom at 9:14 AM
What a wonderful idea this is.
Go visit the site above to see the bloggy carnival participants.
I'm not quite ready to participate in this carnival, but I believe it is a quarterly event. Hopefully by the next event I will be in a position to participate.
Go have fun visiting all these sites and all their give aways.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I have thought a great deal about how some of you visit daily and others several times a week. It occurred to me that you might like to learn a bit more about me and my gang.
Posted by Mom at 11:14 PM
Monday, April 21, 2008
My preteen continually sucks her thumb when she is watching TV or trying to go to sleep. I've tried everything I know to get her to stop, but I can't seem to break this habit. What do I do?
Too old for the thumb
Dear Too Old,
Your daughter is likely indulging in her thumb sucking without actually being aware of what she is doing. You've likely already tried to constantly remind her not to suck her thumb, only to find that this tactic only builds resentment. Perhaps you have even tried those products that are made to create a bitter taste and deter thumb sucking only to find that your money was wasted.
You need to have a discussion with your child about this habit. Ask her how she feels about sucking her thumb. Find out if she is aware of the potential issues related to thumb sucking, including dental issues.
Ask her if she wants to break this habit. This is the most important part of your discussion. In order for any problem to be fixed, the person with the issue must recognize that there is a problem and must also be willing to invest the time and energy required to fix the problem.
If your daughter wants to break the habit, discuss all her options with her. There are gloves and other products available to make the thumb unavailable for sucking. There are products to make the thumb taste bad. You can easily search the Internet and find all these suggestions, so I'll provide you with a more practical approach.
First, create a code word with the help of your daughter. This code word is for you and other family members to use to draw her attention to sucking her thumb. You should avoid things like "stop that," "don't do that," or any other negative response. Try something creative like "thumbs up" or "thumper."
Second, offer incentives to sweeten the deal. Young girls love having their nails done. Offer weekly or bi-weekly trips to the nail salon for a manicure. Basic manicures are fairly inexpensive and having pretty nails will help motivate her to avoid sucking that thumb because she'll also suck off the nail polish. If the salon is out of your budget, then take her to the store and invest in all the necessary products. Let her choose a few favorite nail polishes. Then promise her weekly manicures given by yourself, complete with lotion and hand massage. For instructions on giving a hand massage, go here.
The most important thing for you to understand is that your child has to decide for herself to discontinue the habit. Sometimes we just have to overlook certain issues. Picking your battles comes in handy in this kind of situation. If you make a big deal out of little situation, then your child is likely to tune you out when the big situations arrive. This is probably not a battle that you want to pick.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
I'm too sick to do a proper post tonight. My next Sibling post will concern age difference between children. Look for that next Sunday.
Right now, I'm going back to bed - where I've been lucky enough to spend most of my day.
Thank you, dear Randall for keeping up with those little monsters today. (aka: adorable children)
Please note that I have added The Green Cheapskate to my Sites to See list. I stumbled onto this site through Cafe Mom and just love her energy and earth saving suggestions.
Take some time to visit and learn a few new techniques for reducing your energy usage.
I'm supposed to post a new craft idea today.
I suppose I could try to convince you that mixing various colors of sand is a very artistic experiment, but ultimately you just get a big box of mixed up sand.
Perhaps I could tell you that arranging toys in such a way as to convince passers by that they want to stop and buy them is an art, but you probably wouldn't believe me.
I really have a problem today because I am so tired and just not feeling very artsy. It is difficult to come up with a decent art project when you are so tired that the mere concept of art time with a small child is comparable to the terror one feels when faced with visiting Disney with small children and no other adult to help you out.
I think I'll just tell you about an interesting experiment instead, if I can get my thoughts together clearly enough to explain how to do it.
I got this project out of The Toddler Busy Book.
What you need:
Ice Cube Tray
Food coloring - yellow, blue, red
What you do:
Fill the ice tray with water and then use food coloring to color the cubes before you freeze them. You need to make sever cubes of each color, so you may need extra ice trays or just a couple of days to acquire all your ice cubes.
After you have your cubes, take a baggie and put one yellow cube and one blue cube inside. Let your child watch what happens as the cubes melt.
Do the same thing with yellow and red ice cubes, and blue and red ice cubes.
Let your child see that when you mix these colors together you get an entirely different color. You can also add more cubes to each new color to see how the color will change when you add something different.
What will happen if you add one red, one blue, and one yellow to one baggie? I don't know, but I think I'll have to find out --- when I'm not so darn tired.
Isn't it amazing that those toys your child never seems to be interested in are suddenly the most amazing toys in the world the very moment that you set them out in your driveway with a for sale sign nearby?
I am currently in the midst of a decluttering event that we all know very well. The ensuing yard sale has actually made me quite a profit, to which I'm highly unaccustomed. Yard sales for me typically result in a few dollars and some happy soul who gets to haul my junk away for free. Not this time, though. I've been lucky. Though I have had some very happy customers who were delighted at my willingness to make them some outstanding deals, particularly that big pile of clothes that walked away for $40.00. Even Randall was surprised that I allowed them to leave with all those clothes for so little money. Me, I was happy to see them go.
The interesting side affect of my venture is that my two wonderful babies spent hours playing in the yard yesterday with toys that they won't even cast a second glance at here in the house. Miss Kira arrived home from her Grandma's house and quickly began laying claim to certain items and removing them from my sale piles.
The toddler bed that my brother donated to the cause became Kira and Marisa's fort. There's no mattress in the bed, so they were able to sit in the bed with their little legs hanging down in the middle. It was really cute watching them.
Today, I will be continuing my sale in hopes to eliminate what remains of my junk - ahem, wonderful items that I no longer need. In an effort to make today go by easier with two restless little girls, I skipped off to Wal-Mart alone last night and managed to get me a bag of green Crayola sand. I plan to pour the sand directly onto the ground in our yard for Kira and Marisa to play in today.
I chose green to ensure that the sand can be blended into the yard without my dear Randall ever even noticing that the sand was here.
One must always have a plan for eliminating the evidence!
Friday, April 18, 2008
1)"How on earth can you see the TV sitting so far back?"
2)"Yeah, I used to skip school a lot, too"
3)"Just leave all the lights on ... it makes the house look more cheery"
4)"Let me smell that shirt -- Yeah, it's good for another week"
5)"Go ahead and keep that stray dog, honey. I'll be glad to feed and walk him every day"
6)"Well, if Timmy's mom says it's OK, that's good enough for me."
7)"The curfew is just a general time to shoot for. It's not like I'm running a prison around here."
8)"I don't have a tissue with me ... just use your sleeve"
9)"Don't bother wearing a jacket - the wind-chill is bound to improve"
For more amusement, visit Aha!Jokes.
Posted by Mom at 8:39 PM
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Just don't watch while they are eating it.
There are few children who dislike playing in the dirt. Sandboxes are a standard for many homes with small children and a major marketing point for many companies. I recently noticed that Crayola now sells colored sand for your sandbox. The bag of sand is a little over $6.00 per bag and comes in pastel purple, pink, blue and green. I can't help but envy the child whose parents spring for this glorious colored sand because I know in my heart of hearts that even if this ingenious invention had come to pass back in my day, there is no way my parents would have shelled out money to provide me with colored sand, regardless of how pitifully I surely would have begged for that wonderful sand.
Alas, sand is the perfect entertainer for small children. They love to roll in it, dig in it, bury themselves and their toys, and, indeed, some even eat it. While I may not be rushing out to buy my own stash of colored sand (though the jury is still out on that one - just got to get to the store without Randall in tow to tell me no...) I do provide my girls with ample opportunity to dig.
Kira has her own little patch in my flower garden where she is allowed to dig to her heart's content even when the ground is overly saturated by the rain which seems to be so abundant around these drought stricken parts of Georgia. She has her own shovel and her own wagon and sand toys that she uses to dig holes in the yard and play with the resulting mounds of dirt. She's most happy when there is some amount of water around for turning her dirt into mud, so after it rained and we turned her lose last weekend she spent over an hour digging in the mud. Granted, she stripped off every bit of her clothes before she was allowed to enter the house, but she had so much fun getting muddy.
If you're searching for an inexpensive way to entertain your child, let them play in the dirt. To make it even more entertaining for them, provide them with a few flowers to plant while they are playing. Kids love to watch their own plants grow.
For an extra special treat, spring for a bag of that colored sand. You are not even required to have a sandbox because you can pour the sand in your yard and your child will be just as content with that. The colored sand will blend with your grass or eventually wash away, so there is no concern about the leftover mess, either.
Oh, one last thought. If your child happens to be an eater of the sand, check the label before you purchase that amazing colored sand just to be sure that it is non-toxic. I imagine it is since it is made by Crayola but Randall won't let me get anywhere near the bags to read and find out.
Posted by Mom at 8:54 PM
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I found this post last week that Lisa had made about FreeRice.com. Then I came across the same information at Soccermom's site a few days later. So I went for a visit to play the vocabulary game and had a surprisingly good time playing. I even learned a few new words. Do I remember those words right now? Um, NO! I may remember them the next time I see them, though, maybe... seriously.... OK, probably not. But the game was lots of fun to play. I had so much fun watching my bowl fill up with rice each time I got a word right.
So, what does this have to do with you? Well, that depends. If you have older children, they would benefit from spending time playing the vocabulary game and learning new words. They will also be old enough to understand the concept of giving rice to the hungry so they will learn about doing good deeds.
This site is also perfect for homeschoolers because it is a great teaching opportunity for spelling, vocabulary, and community service projects.
Take some time and visit Free Rice and learn a few new words. Have fun and feed somebody.
Posted by Mom at 6:41 PM
Monday, April 14, 2008
I would love your views on separation/divorce and the reason I say that is ~ I have a girlfriend that is going through it and she is dragging the kids into it and the more I tell her to stop the more she seems to ignore my advice.
Your friend is traveling down a rocky path that leads to resentment and discord between herself and her children. Regardless of the cause of the divorce, unless the other party was abusive to the children, the relationship with the other parent should be maintained and nurtured.
It is not an easy task to watch your child maintain a relationship with the other parent when you yourself feel like you were mistreated and injured in some way. However, your issues with your spouse are exactly that: YOURS!
Children love their mothers. Children also love their fathers. This love is not likely to change and trying to force a child to choose one over the other causes undue stress. The only result of this form of manipulation is anger and frustration from your child.
While it is understandable that a parent wants validation and acceptance of a divorce, a child is not the person to seek that validation from. Children often are too young to fully understand the causes and justifications for divorce. More often than not, children feel as if they were the cause of the divorce and are encumbered with a great deal of guilt from the day you tell them about the impending changes.
So, what can be done to change the errant ways of your dear friend? Perhaps nothing.
Some people simply refuse to override their own needs for the sake of their children. Many divorced parents go through life hating each other so much and recognizing that the only real ammunition they have against each other is the affection of their children. They view that affection as the ultimate goal because to be the favored parent means that they are not viewed as the guilty parent. Yet divorces are rarely caused by one event or even one spouse. While there may have been a final event, there are usually a series of occurrences that build up to the divorce. Recognizing the role one played in the demise of the marriage means taking some level of responsibility for the fatal end. People rarely enjoy accepting blame or acknowledging fault, particularly where divorce is involved.
It is my opinion that your friend needs to embark on family counseling to learn successful and healthy techniques for interacting with her children and her ex-spouse. Co-parenting is vital to the well being of these children who have unwillingly been encumbered in the midst of a angry and messy divorce. It is not an easy lesson to learn, but one that is better learned now before any more damage is done.
In lieu of counseling, your friend should begin reading about how her actions affect her children. Perhaps if she realizes just how hurtful this type of behavior is for her children then she will be willing to make vital changes. Mothers generally prefer to have happy children and usually avoid intentionally inflicting pain on their own kids so this may work for her.
Below are a few resources that you may find helpful. Provide this information to your friend and then understand that she has to take responsibility for her own actions. You can not change her, nor can you direct her decisions. Some people simply have to learn hard lessons the hard way. Years from now when her children resent her for her manipulations, refrain from telling her that you warned her.
Your local library will also have books on helping a child deal with divorce.
Posted by Mom at 6:17 PM
Sunday, April 13, 2008
"Mom, she's touching me!"
"Mom, he's picking on me."
"MMOOOOMMMM - She won't share."
Arguments and complaints. It's enough to drive even the best mother to the point of screaming. It seems like no matter how hard you try to prevent these spats, your children still find a reason to argue. Then they want you, the all knowing mom, to referee and decide who is the injured party in the argument. Of course, this is a no-win situation because no matter how you view the situation somebody will be upset with you for siding with the other child.
You know you can't win if you get involved in the argument, so what do you do to end the fighting without entangling yourself in the midst of the storm?
One of the best solutions I have seen was printed in one of the parenting magazines recently. I can't really recall which magazine it was in, but I remember this because I plan to actively incorporate this tactic when my girls get older. It is particularly useful for those days when you have been out with the children and they have continually argued throughout the day. When you return home, tell your children that they are to go directly to their room. It matters not if they share a room or have separate rooms. Let them know that you will be in to talk to them in a few minutes. After you have had some time to calm down, go into their room and explain how the rest of the day will go. Tell your child that she is not to leave her room for any reason except to use the bathroom. She will spend the rest of the evening in her room. Explain that her dinner will be brought to her and she will eat in her room. This goes for all children who were involved in the day long arguing. As you leave, tell your child that you have now solved your own problem and it is up to them to solve their problems between the two of them.
If you recall, the very popular movie "The Parent Trap" incorporated this same technique when the two twins exhibited such a vast amount of hostility that the entire camp was disturbed by their antics. The camp mother sentenced them to life together in their own cabin away from the general population of the camp. When you are forced to stop and consider your own actions, perhaps you will be able to change them.
If you happen to have a tried and true method of ending the sibling wars, please share them as I expect I will need all the ammunition I can possibly get as my precious babies get older. Even the most experienced mothers know that one can never acquire too many retaliation methods.
Posted by Mom at 6:13 PM
Randall was walking across our bedroom and lost his balance. Kira, upon observing this, asked her Dad if he had lost his balance. Randall told her that he had indeed lost his balance. Kira followed this by asking him if he had found his balance. He told her that he had, so Kira asked him where his balance was. Randall told her that his balance was in his ears because that is where balance lives.
Kira pondered this for a moment and then told Daddy that sometimes her balance falls out of her ears and she catches it with her feet.
Posted by Mom at 1:04 PM
I've added a couple of sites to my Sites to See list. Particularly the Funny Pictures site is worth your time.
I've also added some new articles to my list. Please help support me and visit my articles. I love feedback. You can comment on my articles here or at the bottom of the article page. If you like the article, spread the word. The more people who view my articles, the more I will be published (and paid...).
Posted by Mom at 12:40 PM
Saturday, April 12, 2008
I am copying this post from It's a Woman's World in order to pass it on.
I was visiting the Soccer Mom's blog and reading about her getting ripped off at a dress shop. I have no idea where this is, but I thought some of you may know and want to unite in the dress fight.
We moms have to stick together, you know?
Posted by Mom at 9:40 PM
One of the best investments you can make for your child's entertainment is chalk. Chalk is relatively inexpensive and very versatile. You should buy basic white chalk, colored chalk, and sidewalk chalk to keep on hand for those times when you need some quick entertainment. I would also like to note that their are recipes available to make your own homemade chalk, but I find that to be far too time consuming to be of any real value beyond the educational level.
White chalk and colored chalk can be used on any kind of paper. If you take construction paper and show your child how to draw on the paper and then blend the chalk with a paper towel or sponge, your child will spend plenty of time experimenting with the different patterns that can be made using chalk. Your child can try a variety of different blending materials including a slightly damp cloth, soft fabric, rough fabric, paper towels, and fingers.
Sidewalk chalk is the perfect outdoor tool. Roads and driveways are quickly transformed into canvases and covered with priceless artwork that can never be sold when you hand your child a colorful bucket of chunky sidewalk chalk. Woe be unto the parent who attempts to fore go sidewalk chalk in favor of the regular chalk that they just happen to have in the cupboard for they will soon learn that regular chalk does not work on sidewalks and roads because it is far too soft and crumbles the moment it touches the ground leaving the child in a puddle of screaming tears when they realize that all their chalk has vanished into dust. Just give in and buy the hard, chunky sidewalk chalk. You and your child will be much happier when you do.
Be prepared for the extreme level of creativity exhibited by children when they are provided with sidewalk chalk. The clever child will also experiment with tracing their siblings and friends and showing you where the "bodies" were found when the police came. This is especially true if you ever let Daddy out to play with them as daddies are well known for the somewhat devious influence they have on their children. You should be ready to respond with shock that bodies were found in your driveway and ask your kids if they have solved the 'crime' and made an arrest, yet.
For the child who desperately needs to draw on walls (like my Marisa aka. Picasso), a wooden fence with some chalk is a good alternative because the child can draw on the 'wall' to her heart's content and then when it rains the chalk will wash away along with any evidence that anybody had ever drawn on the fence. Of course if your child happens to be like my Picasso, nothing will ever satisfy the insatiable need to draw on the walls - NOTHING! Sometimes a parent must know when she has been defeated by the inclinations of the child and just give in for the sake of sanity. (That would be me, by the way. You should see my walls....)
Posted by Mom at 9:40 PM
Friday, April 11, 2008
Marisa stood at the top of the hill gazing down and contemplating the likelihood that she could scale the hill without being hurt. I could see in her eyes that she had doubts about her ability, yet she knew that it was probably safe enough because she had watched Kira slide down this very same hill just moments before. She finally decided to attempt the hill herself. Instead of sliding down, though, she opted for crawling down the hill on her tummy. When she reached the bottom, she looked up at me, obviously quite pleased that she had safely tackled the hill. Then she realized that she would need to climb back up a seemingly insurmountable mountain to get back to me. Slowly, she began crawling back up the hill, watching me the whole time. When she made it to the top she turned and went back down again.
This hill that I speak of was about 5 feet tall with a fairly decent incline just perfect for sliding down on a piece of cardboard - if you happen to weigh less than 50 pounds. To me, the hill was insignificant. To Marisa, this hill was the largest mountain she had ever seen.
Watching her as she became increasingly confident about her ability to master this mountain, I began to recall how big the hills used to seem to me back when I was younger. It is often difficult to see the world through your child' s a eyes.
Perspective is such an interesting concept because the perspective we have of our daily lives affects everything we do. Marisa is frequently fascinated by the simplest things. The ants crawling on the sidewalk are good for about 20 minutes of observation and amusement. The fly coming to visit our picnic is the perfect friend to hold a complete conversation with while he sits patiently waiting for some crumb to fall to the ground. The trees growing beside the park are a deep forest, perfect for exploring and hiding.
When I remember to slow down and view the world through Marisa's eyes, I find that the wonder is still there. I can see the forest. I can be amused and transfixed by a few tiny ants going about their business. I can even find the joy in talking to a fly because, after all, the fly came to see me and keeps coming back no matter how often I shoo him away. I remember what life was like before bills and responsibilities. It makes me love her so much more to know that she can teach me to slow down.
Posted by Mom at 10:49 AM
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Hello dear readers. I have recently joined a freelance writing group. I would like to direct your attention to my newest addition here at The Art and Science of Parenting. To the left you will find a list of other articles that I have written. As I have new articles published, I will be adding them to this link.
Under the terms of my publishing agreement I can not directly publish the content on this site. Most of the articles are not directly related to parenting, either, so they do not really fit the requirements for my parenting site. However, I did want to make them available to be read.
If you are interested in the topic, please take some time to visit the articles.
Mom (aka: Shaunalynn)
Posted by Mom at 10:51 AM
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
One of the best methods of teaching a child about nature is to be out in the natural world. For most of us, however, traveling to exotic locations in order to teach our child about various animals just is not an option. Instead, we have to rely on books and videos to give our child exposure to those exotic animals.
The Natural Killers series is a marvelous set of narrated videos that depict the habitats and lifestyles of a wide range of creatures. The focus of the videos, of course, is the killers that live in the wild. These videos are fairly graphic in their depiction in nature. They show the world as it really is, including the deaths of some animals and the births of others, yet the presentation is such that the graphic nature of the videos is reasonable and acceptable even for small children.
To get these videos, you must subscribe and then you will receive two new videos about every three weeks. Each package costs about $40.00, but considering that your child will watch these videos for several years to come, it is a good investment. As with any subscription, you can always cancel your shipments at any time and choose to return any specific shipment that you don't really want to keep.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Monday is supposed to be a Dear Mom day. Unfortunately, I have not received any questions to address this week. In lieu of Dear Mom, I'm opting to tell you about the date I had tonight.
On the rare occasion that the time is available, I try to take one of my children out for a special date. Tonight, Gibson was my date. On date night with the kids, the restaurant and activities are dictated by the desires of the child. This gives each child an opportunity to spend some special time with me and do exactly what they want to do. Gibson chose to eat at the local Japanese restaurant with the hibachi tables. He loves to watch his food being cooked and the flare of the chef's display.
These date nights are fairly regular, though not nearly often enough. With four kids, it can be difficult and expensive to accomplish a date night with each child every month. Instead, we alternate. One month will be a date with Dad and one child. The next month may be a different child out with Dad, or perhaps Mom is the guest for the evening. Sometimes, one child goes out with both Mom and Dad while the others stay with Grandma. In any case, each child is a regular recipient of special one-on-one time.
Date nights with your children are just as important as date nights with your partner. During these dates, you have the opportunity to connect with your child and talk about what is going on in his life. The date night is not typically the place to address the serious issues. However, these special dates lay an important foundation for communication when the time comes to discuss those issues. Your child will be far more comfortable talking to you about sex and drugs if you have also spent time talking about his hobbies and interests.
For me, I enjoy date nights with my children because it allows me the opportunity to be near them even when they think they are too old or too cool to be spending time with Mom. Even the most hardened teenager enjoys being the focus of the day and choosing all the details of the date.
Plan a date with your child. If money is an issue, as it often is when you have children, provide a few acceptable options for your child to choose from. Most kids are content to go to the park and picnic with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as long as they are alone with you.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Fair does not necessarily mean equal.
I read this statement in a magazine article a while back. I have found that being equal is often far easier than being fair. Being equal avoids quite a lot of sibling conflict.
With two girls who are 20 months apart in age, I struggle with this whole concept of equal. Invariably, I buy two pairs of matching shoes in appropriate sizes or two matching toys because Kira wants what Marisa has and Marisa wants what Kira has. On the rare occasion that one gets something different, the other immediately proclaims a desire for her own matching piece of the puzzle. This is particularly true with shoes. As you all know, girls adore shoes. By the age of 2, every girl absolutely must have at least 20 pairs of shoes to pick and choose from. In my house, we have two sets of pink crocs and two sets of orange crocs. We have matching sandals and matching tennis shoes. However, we also have sets of shoes that are not duplicated. Kira has shoes that were given to her by our neighbor. Marisa has shoes that Kira used to wear.
Marisa recently received her very own set of purple crocs because the pink and orange crocs were a bit too big for her. Kira, upon seeing these new purple crocs, determined that she needed purple crocs, too. Imagine her surprise and dismay when I informed her that she would not be getting any purple crocs because she did not actually NEED them. She was very disappointed, to say the least, yet she quickly overcame her disappointment at learning that she had just been gifted with two full bags of "new" clothes from our new neighbors who have a daughter just a year older than Kira. Kira was overjoyed by the process of sorting through all these new and wonderful presents and quickly forgot that she had been denied a shiny, new pair of purple crocs.
The day will soon come when I will have to deviate from duplicates even more, as my children already display very different talents. I expect Marisa will be into those sports that include throwing balls and running, while Kira shows a tendency to dance and artistic expression. Their schooling interests will also take different directions at times, so their lives will not always be equal.
The key to parenting siblings with different interests and needs is to understand that you, as a parent, are not required to be strictly equal in order to be fair to each child. You simply need to supply each child with an equal opportunity to fulfill her potential. Be aware that equal opportunity does not guarantee equal results, though. While you strive to provide each child with the appropriate opportunities, it is up to your child to succeed or fail. In this matter, you must also provide equal encouragement and equal support. If you find that your children's events present you with conflicts, find a way to compromise so that you can fully support each child in a fair way.
Perhaps someday my girls will outgrow the desire to dress alike and follow each other around. Until then, I hope my neighbor continues to supply me with bribery material for those times when one child needs something that the other does not.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Children are delighted by crayons and paper. One simple project that you can teach your child how to do with paper and crayons is rubbings. Once your child knows how to do rubbings, she will happily entertain herself trying different surfaces and different color combinations.
What you need:
Various crayons without the paper wrappers (colored pencils are good, also)
Several pieces of paper
Several surfaces with designs (kitchen and bathroom floors are usually good for this)
**You can also purchase plastic surfaces at any art store for this project.**
What you do:
Lay a piece of paper over the surface. Use the side of the crayon to color the paper while pressing down slightly to rub the surface design into the coloring. Experiment with different colors and different surfaces.
You can use flowers, leaves, sandpaper or any object with an interesting design. Lay the object under the paper and use the side of the crayon to color the paper as stated above.
Gravestones, building signs, and other places with raised lettering can provide new and unique surfaces for your project. Use your imagination.
Let your child practice with every surface in your home and with different levels of pressure applied to the crayon. Then, if you feel particularly motivated, you can use this art project as an introduction to a lesson on textures. If not, you've at least managed to entertain your kids for a while.
Friday, April 4, 2008
So I trapped Gibson and asked him his favorites. Here is his answers, though given somewhat grudgingly. He is 13, after all...
Color - green
Shirt - none
Shoes - none
Book - Wheel of Time Series
Song - If Everyone Cared
Movie - The Incredible Journey
Food - Everything
Drink - Dr. Pepper
Toy - Tobygator (Stuffed alligator he got when he was a year and a half old during the only vacation I ever took with his father.)
Pet - Cats
Place - Home
Person - Grandma --- BAD GIBSON, BAD BAD BAD!!!
Bug - All bugs are nasty.
Flower - Daisy
Cat - Daisy
Subject in school - Science (His first response was sex-ed, but he refused to let me post that here. Well, he went away when we were finished....hahaha! I'm an EVIL mom. He should have said I was his favorite person, now shouldn't he.)
Best friend - Anna
Vacation spot - Anything beyond Mars or Jupiter
I would ask Marisa her favorites, but she isn't quite 2 years old yet, so I doubt she would give me any decent answers.
Please note that I have added a new list to my journal. On the left you will see a "Sites to See" addition. This is a list of journals and websites that I feel you, as a parent, would enjoy visiting.
If you happen to have a site that you feel is worth my endorsement, leave me a comment and I will review the site, tho' I make no promises about adding it to my list.
Posted by Mom at 11:41 AM
I finally got around to asking Kira what her favorites are. All her answers have changed from that first discussion about favorites. Here are her answers.
Color - red, pink, and yellow
Shirt - Alphabet shirt (She just happens to be wearing this one right now.)
Shoes - Purple Crocs (Her sister got a pair of purple Crocs and she didn't. So now that has to be her favorite until she gets her own pair - which just isn't going to happen unless some random Grandma is manipulated into buying them.)
Book - Curious George
Song - Herman the Worm
Movie - The Magic School Bus (Right now, the fave is Creepy Crawly Fun. She loves them all, though.)
Food - Pop Tart (Guess what she was eating when I asked this question.)
Drink - Chocolate milk
Toy - Baby Glow Worm (Kira wouldn't have anything to do with that worm until Marisa decided she loved the worm. Now Kira loves the worm, too.)
Pet - Guinea pigs
Place - Sleepy Town (I don't think she fully understands what that means...she hates to go to sleep.)
Person - Me...good answer, Kira, good answer.
Bug - Lady Bugs (Grandma just bought a few thousand lady bugs and set them free on her rose bushes.)
Flower - Roses
Cat - Talia (We have three cats and Talia is the only one that tolerates being petted by little people.)
As you can see, I expanded my list. Kira kept asking me to do "more" questions. Far be it from me to discourage open communication. She wants to answer questions, I'll keep asking as long as my imagination can keep up. Too soon the day will come when my questions will be met with "nothing" or "I dunno" or just a shrug.
So now I have to go find more questions to ask and hope for more answers to cherish.
I have found that talking about the silly things with the children when they are young will lead to discussions about the serious things when they are older. In my house, I have a policy of being open to discuss any topic. By this I mean ANY topic. My older children know that if they want an answer they can ask me and I will answer them regardless of how difficult or embarrassing the answer may be for either of us. This is a good policy to have. I have been blessed with open discussions about sex, drugs, cheating, stealing, smoking, and several other topics that teens generally refuse to talk about with their parents.
Talk early and talk often. That is the best way to be. Be willing and ready to talk about anything and everything. If you don't tell them, somebody will. And do you really want your child to learn the important lessons from kids their own age?
Thursday, April 3, 2008
We took Marisa out to the park last night for a picnic dinner. She was far too busy watching kites and frisbees to be bothered with eating. While we were there, a mom just a few feet away from us broke out the bubbles. As any seasoned mom knows, bubbles are magical objects that can entertain children for hours at a time.
We don't do bubbles here very often because I have asthma and blowing bubbles is not an easy feat for me. Two or three puffs of bubbles and I'm done, while the kids are still begging for more. Well, this wonderful mom had this amazing battery operated contraption that used a small fan to blow bubbles by the hundreds. It was the coolest little toy. She would dip the front into the bubble solution and then push a button. The fan would turn on and the world was covered with hundreds and hundreds of bubbles, much to the delight of every child within 50 feet of her, including my own. She was quickly the most popular parent in the area.
Turns out this nifty little bubble maker can be found at Wal-Mart. She was nice enough to share her information with me, much to my husband's dismay. See, after we left the park, I insisted on going to the store to get my very own bubble maker. Indeed, I ended up with FOUR bubble makers of various sizes. Today at Grandma's house we were able to experiment with my new bubble makers. The girls absolutely loved these new toys of mine. They were even able to operate the bubble makers themselves. I was surprised that my (almost) 2 yr old was able to make her very own bubbles. She, of course, was thrilled to no end by this whole process of creating her very own bubbles.
I highly recommend these new machines. You can find them in the toy section of your local store. I would give you the manufacturer's name, but I never noticed and now the packages are gone.
Be sure to buy lots of extra bubble solution. You will go through the solution that is included in the pack within just a few minutes.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
This is a set of questions I asked Kira when she was two years old. At the time, she insisted she was not tired and did not want to go to sleep. Being creative and wanting to distract her from the fact that she was in her bed, I started asking her some questions. Here are her answers.
color --- red
shirt --- purple (I don't remember any purple shirt that she has, but hey, what do I know....)
shoes --- the pink ones (they are tennis shoes)
book --- about the birds (not sure what the title is...it was a dollar store book)
song --- twinkle little star
movie --- care bears
food --- snack food
drink --- juice
toy --- doors (she loves to open and close doors)
I think if we have time today I will ask her these same questions and post her answers here. Granny's funeral is today so I am not sure how our day is going to be.
Take time to talk with your child. You may be surprised what you learn just from having a conversation. In a few years, you will enjoy reviewing what your child had to say when she was too young to consider her words before saying them.