I Help?

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I stand at the sink washing the hundredth dish of the night, when this sweet boy comes in. “What you do mama?” he asks me. “I’m cleaning up baby,” I tell him. He walks around for a few minutes, comes and watches me wash a few dishes, and then he takes a few steps back. He asks me, “I help?”

Way to melt a mama’s heart. I told him that he could pick things up from the floor and put them in the trash if he wanted. He did just that, and he did it happily. I thanked him for helping me clean our home. We finished up our work together, and went into the living room to snuggle a while.

I’ve never made him clean up. I will almost always ask him to pick up his toys, and often he will, but if he doesn’t I do it for him. Usually if he sees me cleaning up his toys, he comes to help me. When I do my own household duties, I try my best to do them cheerfully, because I have little eyes watching. He sees me happy to do these things, willing to do all of these jobs to help our home, and he picks up on it. He will now happily help without asking, because we always made it just another part of the day for our family instead of a chore, a pain in the butt, that just had to get done, because I said so.

Our family works together to make a home, and he is part of this wonderful home. And… I am so grateful.

You Are Loved!

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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.

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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Craft Time: Cow Tube Kites

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This week, for our home-school preschool curriculum, our theme is cow. I don’t have specific things written up for weekend activities, but figured we could do a random craft involving cows anyway. I put on a few cow videos to introduce Caleb to cows, and I prepped this while he watched. Super easy project:

White Paper Cut to Fit Around a Toilet Paper Roll

Black Paper for the Legs (cut into strips and accordion folded)

Black Paper Cut for the Spots (or washi tape!)

Marker for the Face

Glue Sticks

To start, I had Caleb put the glue on the white paper, and I wrapped it around the toilet paper tubes. Then I ran out of glue! I ran around trying to find more, but instead found some black washi tape. I drew a quick cow face on each of these, and then cut a bunch of washi tape squares. I helped Caleb glue his tail on, then we each went to town putting on the spots. I showed him how to fold the legs, we cut them out, and we both taped the legs on together. I have seen these with some other animals, and I figured it would be cute with a cow as well.

Right now they are handing on our “project line.” Later we will tie a little yarn to the top, and bring them outside to blow in the wind! This is a very easy project, but it has a lot of steps. By the time we got half way through the spots, Caleb was pretty done. We got up and danced to Old McDonald for a few minutes, and he was ready to go back to the craft. It’s okay to take breaks!

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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.

SO COLD: Swimming?

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To say the least, everyone thinks that we’re crazy. This is just barely the beginning of warm, way too warm and humid, weather in Maine. That means that the water wont be warm enough for probably at least another month. Yesterday was 80 degrees out though and I was pretty determined to go swimming. Covered in sweat, not even owning a bathing suit, I told Corey I wanted to go down to the Rec. and secretly gathered Caleb’s swim stuff and towels.

We walked the fifteen minutes down to our local Recreational Park. I walked right past the play ground Corey wanted to stay on and straight into the water. Heck yes. It was cold; frigid even. Did it feel amazing though? Absolutely. Caleb, my little water baby, was so ready to dive right in after me so I had Corey put his swimmy diaper on him and his bathing suit. He ran right in, fell over, swam a little (which was pretty impressive; he kept his head up), and then ran right out. A few breaths later he walked right back in up to his thighs and smiled.

He was only really in the water a few minutes total and then stood just up to his ankles and splashed around. He wasn’t in any danger, I was right there with him and knew that even though it was cold it wasn’t TOO cold. If he had turned blue or had been shivering uncontrollably I totally would have taken him out. He had a total blast. I mean look at that smile! He was just about to run back in and was so pleased with himself and where we were.

Once again, this all comes down to trust. I trusted that if it was too cold for him, Caleb would have gotten out of the water. I trusted that he wouldn’t let himself get hurt by the water. I stood back and let him do his thing. Corey was at the ready with a towel and dry clothes just in case. Sure enough though, he had the time of his life in the “big puddle.” I’m so glad our little family got the chance to go out and have fun like that with one another.

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Outside the Box

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Kids are awesome. Dani is my niece that I put on the bus half the time. Usually Caleb is still sleeping by then (and Corey is sleeping right next to him) so he gets to stay home. Today though he got up with me at 6:30 so I decided to get him dressed and have him come with me. Goodness I’m so glad I did.

Dani and I always stand in front of these stairs/this ramp while we wait for the bus. While their was snow I’d throw her on top of the snow and chase her around a little but mostly it was just cold and we would just stand there and shiver. This morning though, these kids had an absolute blast. They were playing “tag” and the side walk was safe. They had to keep running up the ramp though and the stairs were off limits because they were too dangerous to run on.

The kids set all the rules, Caleb didn’t even try to run into the street, and for the whole ten minutes we were out there neither got bored. It was their imagination that fueled the fun. I could have said, “No, no, kids. That’s not our stairs. Stay down.” I could have said, “I don’t think so Caleb, those stairs are too dangerous for you.” I could have said, “It’s too dangerous being near the road, come stand with me.” I mean, Caleb’s only one. Trusting him to run around near a road makes me incredibly nervous.

I trust them though. I trust them to make good choices. I trust that Dani wont let Caleb get hurt. I trust that they wont be too loud in front of someone’s house. I trust that they are capable little people who aren’t going to get hurt from running around on a few stairs and a ramp. That trust allows their creativity to shine, for them to learn important things such as boundaries, and to grow as people in general.

I just wanted to share this happy little moment in my day. These kiddos make me so happy and proud to be a part of their lives.

Caleb Outside

Touched Out

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Around a year old Caleb weaned himself at night. I have had some fabulous nights of sleep. Even better, he sleeps from about 11pm till at least 8am the next morning usually. Two naps during the day, nursing intermittently… it works really well for both of us. Yesterday though…

Caleb decided he needed a nap at nine last night, didn’t wake up when his daddy got home, and went straight from the nap to bed with me. Five this morning I was regretting that terribly. He was WIDE awake and wanted nothing more than to nurse, snuggle, play, and kick me out of bed so that we could go play in the living room. Once we got into the living room, the little man was a total boob hound. Finally…

I turned Doc McStuffins on the TV and I took a shower. I was feeling frazzled, angry, exhausted. I was mad at him for wanting to meet his basic needs. I was mad at myself for thinking how mad I was at him and I realized that being mad at him was ridiculous and horrible but I couldn’t help it. All I could think was how touched out I was. I didn’t get enough sleep, I didn’t get woken up nicely like usual, and I needed a break.

Hours later I’ve come to the conclusion that all of those feelings are okay. I didn’t act on them in any way that could hurt my child. I didn’t scream at him or say things that would hurt his feelings. I just went and took a shower. I took the time to walk away from the situation, calm down, and move on. When I got out of the shower I took him in my arms, nursed him peacefully, and funny enough he fell asleep for a nap. I’m absolutely convinced that the reason he was acting out was because he could feel my frustration and the energy was hurting him.

When you’re this frustrated, when you feel like you’re going to break, take a step back. Go do something for you. Put your kiddo in a safe and entertaining place first of course, but the best thing you can do for the both of you is to take the time you need.