Saturday, January 28, 2012

Simple Pleasures

We were walking out of our local club warehouse store with the kiddos. J got the receipt and looked frantically for the smiley face on it.

The receipt-checker lady pointed it out on the back and all was well.

Contrary to a few weeks ago on a similar shopping trip where the receipt-checker forgot to draw a smiley face and the world ended.

Seriously! How hard is it to just draw a smiley face on a receipt!

But then, I guess I could teach my kids that it's okay not to have what you want all the time...

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sometimes the TV is the best choice

Not all the time, and really, not very often.

But today is an unusual day. Today is the day my almost 3 year old found a pill box that belonged to a friend who was living with us until a few weeks ago.

The pill box had 3 clorazapan pills. After J found it, it had 1. I called poison control right away. Well, after I got through panicking. We don't ever have prescription pills and if we do they are hidden away and out of reach (and locked up).

Poison control wasn't too worried - they told me what to keep an eye out for, and said they would check back in an hour. They have actually called twice.

We're pretty sure she is going to be fine, but we're watching her very carefully just to make sure.

YouTube Video

And until then, miss drugged-cranky-pants is snuggling with me while we watch Pingu.

What are your sick-baby fallbacks? Do you watch too much tv when the kids are sick?

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Building Blocks... er, cups

You can have all the toys in the world, and the dishes in the kitchen are still the most entertaining.

Apparently this one below is the "Eiffel tower of winona." I have no clue where he gets this stuff.

But hey, imagination, motor skills, stacking, he's even learning a little 1-1 correspondence here stacking the cups with their openings together.

Even J wanted to get in on the action, even though her creations weren't quite as sophisticated.

What do your kids play with in the kitchen? Do you let your kids play with dishes? Are there "off limits" cupboards, and then some that are free-for-all?

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Play Food

V has been feeding me play "food" and bringing it to me in a cardboard "magic box".

This is ice cream. Mint maybe? Or cotton candy?

Donuts and "square apples" - I am unfamiliar with that type of apple. Now Braeburn, Gala, Fuji - I know those. But square apples are completely new to me.

Pretend play is really important for kids. It is linked to the development of a lot of cognitive skills in children, including self-regulation (which any mother of a tantrum-throwing two-year-old would agree is a very important skill).

A number of researchers have focused on the relationship of play to specific cognitive strategies such as self-regulation, narrative recall, divergent problem solving, and rule understanding. Following Vygotsky (1978), who theorized that young children use private speech in play to regulate their behavior, eventually transforming this private speech into self-regulation through internal thought, Krafft and Berk (1998) compared the private speech of preschool children in Montessori and traditional play-oriented programs and found that more private speech occurred in the play-oriented setting, especially during pretend play with fantasy characters

How often do your kids engage in pretend play? Do you ever join in?

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I grew up on the Suzuki Method of teaching (teaching music, sure, but in general, just teaching).

Shinichi Suzuki's method of teaching children how to play the violin was a "mother tongue" approach - children learn how to play the violin by hearing/seeing the violin played, and then mimicking what they hear.

Another important part of his philosophy is "talent education" - Dr Suzuki believed that you aren't just born with musical talent, but that musical talent could be taught and that teaching children how to play music would make them better citizens.

I am in the process of observing some Suzuki violin teachers so we can get V taking lessons. We bought him a violin for Christmas but it is slightly too big so we are going to exchange it. In the meantime, we have been listening to a lot of the "Twinkles".

This morning while V was at preschool, J asked to listen to "Tahka-Tahka-tah-ka" (also known as "mississippi hot dog", "huckleberry hello", "everybody down up" among others) - which is "Twinkle A" in the Suzuki books.

Here she is enjoying her Twinkle A music...

Have you heard of the Suzuki Method? Do your children take music lessons? What benefits have you seen from music lessons with your children?

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sam I Am

I don't know about your kids, but one of mine is a picky eater. The pickiest eater I have ever known. If he hasn't eaten it before and loved it, he will have a meltdown at the thought of even putting a "foreign" substance in his mouth.

Meltdown. Complete meltdown. I need to get it on tape one of these days.

My awesome parents give my children books for birthdays and Christmas (thanks, mom and dad!) and this book was added to our collection this Christmas.

So far it hasn't had a major life-changing effect on V's feelings toward new food, but today I think I had a minor breakthrough.

I fell in love with starfish when I was in Puerto Rico with my husband (yum yum fresh fruit) and the other day when I saw some at the grocery store at an affordable cost I had to buy one. We tried it for lunch today. The kids got a kick out of the fact that the slices looked like stars, and J was more than happy to devour her share of star fruit - but the cool star shapes didn't fool V. "I don't like it!!!" waaaaaah!!!

I had used the "Remember green eggs and ham, how the guy tried them and then he liked them?" before, but it wasn't working this time.

Then I said, "You can't say you don't like it, because you haven't tried it."

Of course, that kid is too smart for me... "Then I don't want any."

Definitely more accurate than not liking it, but I still wanted him to try it. I told him it was kind of like an apple (which still didn't sway him) and that he could have some fruit snacks if he would try the star fruit (that did the trick).

He told me after he tried it that it tasted like a pear. My bad.

And of course, J loved it and wanted more.

I'd say we did pretty well.

How do you get your kids to try new foods? Are some of your kids picky eaters, while others would eat anything?

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Play and Sort

I am a big fan of sorting.

And a little obsessive.

Of course, like any good obsessive mother, I have to make sure the kids are obsessive, too. And then, there is the fact that sorting is good for kids cognitive development. You don't need fancy games or worksheets or projects to teach kids about sorting. In fact, all you need to be slightly neurotic about the playroom being organized, and then you will have an opportunity every day to sort with your kids!

I made these toy bags for Christmas one year when V was getting too old for just baby toys and I felt like the toys were taking over the family room. There was an animal one, too (with an elephant on it!) but our animal collection quickly outgrew the size of the bag.

I also realized that the bags are only really good for toys that are better to play with in a set (train tracks, blocks, dishes) where these plastic drawers work better for "categories" of toys (robots/people/machines, building blocks, animals, etc). If the kids are looking for a lion, they just pull out the animal drawer and get a lion, instead of dumping out the whole bag.

And when it's time for clean up? Sorting practice!

I made signs from pictures I took of the kids' actual toys for the front of each drawer - to make it a little more personal, and to help them with sorting. I was thinking of printing them in color, but I think the black and white is less distracting. I am pretty happy with our system for now, but I want to build a toy shelf/cupboard that I can lock up (when the kids don't clean up their toys or when we don't want them out all over the place). However, I think I will keep a lot of our current system when I build the cupboard.

How do you organize toys? Do you have to convince yourself that having all those little toys everywhere is actually good for your kids? How do you get your kids to clean up their toys? Do you play games with them?

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