Daddy-Son Time <3

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One of the benefits of Corey working at Lowe’s is that he gets to bring home the Build and Grow projects to do with Caleb. Soon as he walks in with one of those sets, Caleb just lights right up. I’m actually really impressed with Corey too. He could build the whole thing by himself in a few minutes, or be too worried he’d get hurt to let Caleb help. Instead, Corey involves Caleb in the whole thing.

First Caleb reads him the instructions. Then Corey kind of follows them, but usually has to pull a few parts apart as he goes. Then he has Caleb help him put in each nail before he hammers it in. Caleb has the option of using stickers, or not. He can put them on and rip them off later. It’s totally Caleb led. In general it’s just a blast watching them, and I know he’s learning just so many things! Putting the little nails in the holes? Totally fantastic fine motor skill practice. Following instructions? Puzzling pieces together? Great brain activities.

It’s also education for Corey. Patience, letting go, trust… It’s really beautiful watching them together.

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Puzzles Gallore: Day Five of Pre-school Home-schooling

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Today went better than every other day this week. The big problem I was having is that I hadn’t prepped the “class” before we started. I would set him up with a coloring sheet, and I’d sit besides him cutting and gluing. Of course what mama was doing was SO much more interesting. Frustration would ensue, and it would take a thousand times longer to get everything done, and Caleb would have a harder time getting interested.

The big difference today, is I made sure before we even tried to start that everything was ready to go, and we didn’t start at his desk. We sang Old McDonald, and I signed it for him. We went over what a cow was a few more times, and how they live on farms. Then we moved onto the Nursery Rhyme of the week. I made up a little fold book with the characters to “Hey Diddle Diddle.” As I recited the rhyme I pointed out the Cat, Fiddle, Cow, Moon, Dog, Smile/Laugh, Dish, and Spoon. Caleb loved that he had a book to identify the things from.

Once we had danced and sung, and he was calm, we moved over to the desk and I pulled out a cow puzzle I made for him. First he had a completed one where he matched the cut out spots to. Then he had a blank cow shape to “add the spots to.” I got the idea for it from a bus version our Families Read instructor made for him. This was a fantastic Fine Motor activity. Placing the pieces, matching sizes… Another thing, which you’ll probably notice is, rather than a normal or round cow, it’s square/rectangle based. I decided on that because of our focus on squares for the week.

Speaking of buses and our Families Read instructor… We also worked on this awesome name puzzle today. Caleb loves buses, and he’s a big fan of his own name. He liked mixing up the letters and putting them back together. He loves telling us that, “C is for Caleb!” I started by asking him what it said. Imagine my surprise when he said, “Caleb.” This is an awesome example of sight words. Then I pointed to each letter, said the name, and told him to please say it. It was kind of interested. For “A” he said Ah. For “B” he said AB. We repeated the activity a few times, but he kept saying them that way. C, L, and E he had no problem with. Then I mixed them up and just put C and B where they belonged. He took the reigns and put them back in order, though a ended up upside-down. All around it was a good activity for him though.

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Autumnal Paper Chain: Home-school Pre-school Day Four

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Caleb had a very productive day of learning. We were supposed to focus on the letter A and number 1, but he knows those pretty well. We did a coloring page of the letter A, and talked about “one crayon at a time,” but then we moved on to something way more fun, because I kept looking out the window and seeing the beautiful colors of Maine in fall.

I took him outside to go learn about, and pick, leaves. We talked about how they start on trees, and then fall to the ground as it gets cold. Then I showed him all the colors they come in. I asked him to pick a bunch for our craft. I wanted to grab some of the incredibly beautiful and bright leaves… but I’m short. So we ended up with some cool gradient leaves instead. Orange and yellow, green and yellow, and red and yellow are what we ended up with.

Before we went I cut up a sheet of green, yellow, red, and orange construction paper, then when we got home I showed him the papers and how they matched the leaves we collected. Next it was time to talk about patterns and practice our color recognition while building a cool autumn leaves paper chain. I had him hand me ONE green, one yellow, one orange, one red, etc, etc, until all the papers were gone. He would hand them to me sometimes, and other times he would slide it through the last chain. We clothes pinned it up, and Caleb chose which chains would have leaves hanging from them. So much fun!

Even though this wasn’t originally on the curriculum, figuring it’s cow week not seasons week, I decided I couldn’t pass the chance up. We still got to talk about green (the color of the week), read a few books, and the fine and gross motor skills used to identify and say colors, as well as threading the paper through the previous chain, was a great practice, and covered what was planned. Oh, and while we were reading I pointed to a piece of broccoli. I asked Caleb what it was, because he loves broccoli and can say the word, but instead of identifying it he said, “Green.” I was really pleased. It was a fun day of learning for the both of us, and really nice to bring nature into our learning.

Day One, Two, and Three of Home-school Pre-school

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I’m so sorry for the lack of active pictures. It’s really hard to do school and get pictures without someone to work the camera. I’m also really sorry I didn’t post day one or two. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about this anyhow!

Monday was really simple, but a total blast. We started by introducing the learning board, and more specifically introducing the theme of the week. This week we are focusing on cows, the word calf, the color green, shape square, letter A, number 1, and nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle.”

I woke him up with this poem:

Little Calf by Katrina Lybbert

“Good morning, little calf,” gentle mother cow said.

“It’s time to get up from your sweet hay filled bed.”

Little calf jumped, stamped his feet, swished his tail,

And followed mama past a shiny milk pail.

Out into the barnyard, holding his head high,

Little calf look up to the blue, blue sky,

Birds flying past chirped a joyful song,

Little calf smiled, and felt happy all day long.

Then we watched a few YouTube videos about cows, and then we started talking about calves. We’re still breastfeeding occasionally, so I explained to Caleb that calves drink their mom’s milk the same way he drinks mine. As the day went on we sang “Old McDonald” over and over, but just talked about him having a cow. I had him get on all fours with me, and we moo’ed like a cow. It was a lot of singing and moving for the first day.

Tuesday was a little harder for us. Caleb wasn’t a huge fan of sitting. That’s okay with me though. The focus of the day was on green and squares. Because Caleb didn’t want to sit still, we decided to just walk around the house pointing out all the square and green things we could find. I figured we could just do the other activities on Wednesday…

Wednesday, today, was wonderful. We woke up with the Old McDonald song, and an awesome green outfit which to my surprise he could identify. After we got out of school we went to the library. I found a ton of great books today. The best was, “The Great Big Green” by Peggy Clifford. Everything is green until the end, and it ends up being the Earth. We also went through books about farms (to talk about cows), a letter book which we focuses on the A with, and a number book where we counted up to three, because Caleb can count to three and wouldn’t stop at one. When we got home I sat him down with a few worksheets I printed off. One had a tree dropping leaves with dotted lines showing the fall pattern. I showed him how to draw lines based on the dotted lines. He said, no. Instead he drew lines from the bottom of the paper to the top. Totally acceptable to me. A line is a line. Then we colored a square green. It’s part of a set of shape cards we’ll be working on through the weeks. He helped me glue the name (square) to the back of the card, and we moved on. I cut out the template for a cow cube, and he glued… some of the spots that we were instructed to. It came out really cute though. We talked about how there was only ONE cow cube, how a cube is made of squares, and that it was, obviously, a cow. Totally the perfect project for this week!

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Two Quick and Easy Fall Crafts

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Every other Friday Corey and I go to a parenting/parents financial/life skills class, and afterwards Caleb joins us for a play group. Today we read Brown Bear as a group, and then did a few activities the instructor had set out for us. My favorite, and one that Corey and Caleb spent a lot of time on, was painting with cinnamon! It was just a little water mixed with cinnamon. It looked really cool. The water turned the paper a light brown, and the cinnamon gave the bear’s fur some really great texture. The best part was how great it smelt. I have a ton of pumpkin spice in my pantry that I’ll be doing this with on a fairly regular bases.

The other activity only took a few minutes, but made Caleb very happy. I was working on his curriculum tonight, and that involved a ton of cutting and gluing. While I was working, he asked to help, but I had to say no. As soon as I was finished, however, I threw this second craft together. I ripped a piece of purple paper in half, cut out two pumpkins, two stems, then let Caleb make a few cute in the orange paper left over. While he was cutting, I glued my pumpkin down (the one on the left), and then asked him to do the same. He put glue onto the pumpkin and laid it in the corner. I smoothed it out, and then he glued down the stem. I grabbed us a couple of green markers, and he drew some scribble “vines” on his while I worked on my pumpkin’s vines.

Using a paint brush, gluing things down, placing the stem… these are all great motor skill practice. The more things you do, especially with little pieces, the better your kiddo will get at it all. I wouldn’t have thought to let him cut something a few months ago. Now, after watching how careful he is with everything else, I can totally trust him to be capable. I love watching this little man growing before my eyes.

The Importance of Friendship

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After high school I really drifted away from any friends I used to have. More than that, after Caleb came I realized how different my “friends” and I really were and decided that parting ways would be best for both Caleb and I. That’s okay. Eventually though, without even knowing it, I found myself very lonely. All the play groups and classes in the world couldn’t make up for just plain out not having friends. For Caleb, he has his cousins and what not but they are all bigger than him. They aren’t on the same level as him which made it hard for both of them to really play and interact properly. I was feeling pretty bad that my child was as alone as I was. We have each other of course, and that’s enough for me, but I knew that having friends would be better for us both.

Well, one day I went to the crochet group I started and I met Amy. She brought her daughter Alyara with her and in the middle of our meet up had to nurse. It was an insta-connection. Alyara was only a month younger than Caleb and super cute. Amy’s friend Brittney ended up booking a Thirty-One party through me a few weeks later and all of the kiddos were invited. Caleb and Alyara met that night and oh my goodness they were adorable. He would hold her hand and snuggle up to her… and she’d put her hand out and push him right away from her. Oh yeah, we know who wears the pants in that relationship!

That night there was another kiddo present. Sharlett, Brittney’s daughter, who is only a couple of weeks younger than Caleb. They didn’t bond much that night but… the story doesn’t end there! The three of us started hanging out and our little ones did as well. Watching them play makes my heart sing. The way we feel says a lot as well. Caleb and I are both a lot happier and less lethargic having something to look forward to, aka our play dates. Sharlett and Caleb have found a special bond though. Both are charismatic kiddos who love the park and food. They play so well together and I can’t get over just how cute they really are. I mean… just look at this!

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So go make some friends mommies! You will feel so much better, you will not have as much stress, and your little ones will have someone to spend time with as well. I mean, hopefully at least. Just, don’t be alone. Loneliness can over take you and turn you into someone you don’t want to be. Friendship is important. It’s important to show your kids how to be a good friend. FRIENDSHIP.

Indulging Interests

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I can remember as a child I had two main passions: Scooby Doo and Pokemon. My dad would take me to Pokemon tournaments and my whole family really supported my Scooby obsession with toys, VHS, and everything in between. Of course as time went on those passions changed. I went into my preteen, omg every celebrity is so hot, phase. Then I went into my “dark” high school phase. Now, I’m still in what my other half likes to call a rotating phase where one day I’ll be obsessed with this show, this song, this actor, this singer, this writer, this kind of product, this cause, etc etc…
Because phases change so fast, parents have been driven into this fear of wasting money. Caleb has really loved Mickey Mouse since a week or two before last Easter. At first we would just let him watch a little bit of the show or get him a little something here and there but now that he’s walking, talking, and really a competent toddler we have decided to indulge his interest. This doesn’t mean we spend a lot of money on it, we can’t, but we find ways all the same. We will put on the Hot Dog dance and all dance as a family. We read Mickey Mouse books with him and talk about the characters. We will download coloring pages of Mickey and Minnie. May I add, he loves Minnie just as much as Mickey so has many Minnie Mouse things as well. We went to the dollar tree and got him Minnie Mouse markers to color his Mickey Mouse coloring book. I’ve begun decorating his bedroom with more and more Mickey so that it is really a space just for him. And I know, in another few months he might not like Mickey anymore. I know that someday he will find a new passion and interests and this phase will be gone. That isn’t a reason to push his interests to the back burner though. It excites him, it makes him be very thoughtful, and the present is the most important thing to us.
Somewhat near us, not walking distance but walking distance from the bus route at least, there is a car dealership. One day we were on the bus and somehow I looked at just the right moment to see inside, and noticed a giant Mickey Mouse statue. We have been talking about it for a couple months now, going to check it out, but haven’t had the time to go down and make it back to the bus in time or money to take a taxi home. We came across that extra $12 for a taxi last week though and decided to take him down there to meet his Idol, Mickey Mouse. He was in awe. He said in the quietest voice, “I love you.” Mind you, it was his I love you that only I understand but he’s working on that. He would reach out to almost touch him and pull back. Such a simple, nearly free, thing gave him all the joy in the world and made me smile like crazy.

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So! The point of all this? When your child shows a strong interest in something, ignore that nagging thought, “It’s just a phase.” It is just a phase, but does it really mater? No. Because today is what you live for, tomorrow is not guaranteed, and your child’s happiness shouldn’t be put on hold for a what if.

Three 6-10 Month Activities-Affordable, Easy, and Motor Skill Focused

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Before I go over these great activities, I want to say that the age group I am focusing on is something I debated on. These activities can be used for any age. Don’t say, oh my kid is too young or too old so these wont help. Working on motor skills always help. Some kids are ahead, some are behind, and no matter what these are easy things that can really help children learn.

With all of these activities, remember that these are supposed to be games. These are supposed to be fun. If your kiddo doesn’t respond to them, change tactics. Most importantly, reward them! No one wants to work hard and not be told they are doing good. They will react so much better if you excitedly tell them they are doing well. My son gets all giddy when he does one of these and I say, Good job baby boy! Big smiles are important as well.

Alrighty then… Onto the activities!

1) Animal Magnet Identification- When you first start this, line up all the magnets and just let your child play with them. Let them be interested before you try to force the knowledge. Once your little one has played a while take one off and show them it. Make that animal’s sound and name it. When you name things, whether it’s part of this game or in day to day life, point. It has been proven that pointing connects things for children. Do this with only one or two of the animals at a time till your child gets used to the game. Once you’ve done that, place the magnet back on the fridge and say, Alright (insert little one’s name here) where is the (insert animal’s name here). If they get the right one, tell them good job! If not, say, good try. Show them the right one and just keep working on it until they get bored or overstimulated. For older kids, you can start asking them, Which animal says (insert sound here). So far my son knows what a tiger says. It’s completely adorable seeing him roar right back at me!

2) Baby Ring Toss- This one we started working on a few nights ago and I laughed so hard. My son was being a perfectionist. If he didn’t get it quite perfect and I told him good job, he’d look at me like I was crazy till he did get it perfect. Well, we have this ring that a block will fit into perfectly. We were playing with each piece so I tried to show him he could put the block into it. I showed each piece and placed the ring on the floor, put the block in it, and went ooooo that’s so cool. Getting any item into another item takes some serious motor skills from babies. After showing him how to do it a few times, I offered the block to Caleb and pointed at the ring. Right away he tried to drop it in, got it on the hole at least, and told him good job. Like I said, he wasn’t happy with himself till he got it in perfectly but… This is an activity that you can only do a few times before baby gets bored.

3) Pass- The last one seems like something very simple, but it takes a lot for babies! Hand-Eye coordination, moving your hands just the right way, just the right push… We use balls from a ball pit because it’s a nice light ball that is easy to work with. Sit across from baby and show him to spread his legs and you do as well. Push the ball to baby. Help baby pass it back and forth. When they catch or pass the ball, say yayyyyy good job! It seems so simple but it’s a major thing for little ones to be able to do this.

So good luck you guys! I hope you and the kiddos really enjoy these as much as we do. Remember to make it fun.

Feel free to tell me how it goes for you!

Thanks for reading!

Embrace the Milestones! (Six Month Area)

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As all parents know, up until about six months the little ones are pretty dormant. You can play but it’s not as though they are sitting or really playing by them selves or you know… biting things with their teeth! At six months though, everything changes. Like anyone, I was a bit panicked… then I saw how happy my little man was to gain so much independence. So here it is, how to embrace the milestones!

Sitting Up Solo- When Caleb suddenly sat by himself (his Grandpa sat him on the ground and that’s the way he stayed) my instant reaction was to cry! Then, to grab the camera and watch as he got to really play. Of course before he could roll around a little and grab at things and what not, but now that he sits, he can reach for far away toys, he can pick things up and examine them with his eyes, not just mouth. He’s become able to play with others as well. He’ll be face to face with his friends and I can tell how thrilled he is. Things that can help with the sitting practice is getting a wobble ball. Something that when touched will wobble away from them a little bit gives them something to reach for, improves balance, and helps strengthen stomach muscles that will in turn help with the soon coming crawling.

Ouch, he Bit Me- Teeth. Oh my goodness teeth. As a nursing mother, it’s a fairly tragic time for the nipple when teeth start to sprout. I’ve been fighting through it though and although I’ve been bitten plenty, Caleb’s been pretty good about not biting while he nurses… just when he wants to switch boobs or is full. There have been a lot of benefits though. With his two little teeth, my son is able to chew food. Yes, I’m all for breastfeeding full term. Food is fun though. He’s been able to sit at the table with us and eat squares of cheese and chicken. Caleb is so excited to be able to eat with us instead of before or after. It’s a real bonding experience to share a meal with your whole little family and it does give you a break from having to nurse and try to eat. The food doesn’t seem to get cold as easily anymore.

Bababababble- Oh my goodness, he’s found out that his tongue is the key to different sounds. It’s amazingly endearing to hear how much he wants to have a conversation… so do! You can talk back or you can babble right along with him. Either way, it’s a time for teaching. Teaching sounds, words, meanings, and how conversations work. A back and forth reaction from you inspires a long lived ability to communicate properly. You will be amazed at how well babies are at knowing when to respond.

Oh no, mobile- That’s right. Once they start sitting, the almost crawling and tons of rolling will make your life hectic, terrifying, and thrilling! Can’t leave them alone for even a minute once this starts or you risk them bashing into things, you could miss their first real crawl, or you could let them choke on that random penny the thoughtless guest dropped this morning. Either way, your super human powers emerge and you now have the ability to hear even the slightest movement. It’s okay though. It’s just one more step toward independence. Your little miracle is growing and the only one who can help them, is you. You’re doing good mama. Or dada. Or other parental figure. Keep it up!