Moonday! (This year in homeschool preschool…)

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Last school year I was a little obsessed with educating my child. I felt like I needed to spend every moment of his life educating him, but not always on the important things. I was working so hard to “make” him learn his letters, colors, etc… Yeah, I was terrible. Totally not age appropriate first of all, and planning things for him to learn truly bored him. He’d be interested in something else, so the things I wanted to teach him… well he couldn’t stay focused, and got very frustrated with me, which makes total sense. This year, I wiped that crazy board clean and decided to 100% follow his lead.

The first thing I decided to do was set up a “classroom” so that he would have a place to go to focus, and we could still do normal preschool activities like go over the calendar, read books, sit for puzzles, and go over our letters and numbers. These aren’t going to be forced things, but they are available, and if he chooses to do them himself, great! He often does. He loves puzzles, he loves matching games, and he is actually really interested in putting letters together and finding different letters out of a set. Part of the problem last year was that our schedule was always set, I would force him through the activities, and we would be in the living room or kitchen which was set up for other things as well. This year he will have a learning sanctuary that is his choice. It’s also a good way to keep all of his craft supplies, sensory buckets, and blocks in one place.

Now the next thing I did was realize that he had to already be interested in what I wanted to teach, so I decided that every Saturday we’d talk about the things he likes. Trees, weather, space, the ocean, firemen… whatever it may be, is what we will focus. Which leads me to…

Moonday! Last week Caleb let me know that he thought the moon was really awesome. I turned that into a whole week of learning about the solar system, but all he really wanted to learn about/play about was the moon and stars, which is completely understandable since he can actually see and somewhat understand them. At the daycare I work at, I did Moonday (Monday) with all of them, and want to share how it went with you all.

We started when I got there learning about gravity and the difference between gravity on Earth and the moon. We did this in a very simple way. I brought a bunch of Styrofoam balls and asked the kids to each grab a regular rock. We talked about how those rocks, Earth rocks, were heavy. Then I explained that on the Moon they would feel more like the Styrofoam balls and be very light. We played “moon rock toss” and tried to get the balls into a bucket.

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Next was snack time! Let me just add, this was delicious, and it’s my new favorite snack… We started with a rice cake base, smeared with cream cheese, layered with banana pennies and some little pieces of kix. One of our kiddos couldn’t have the cheese, so we used sun butter on her’s instead of the cream cheese, but it still looked really great.

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Then, I had each of the kiddos make their own telescope. I had prepped this activity so that the kids would each have a different color telescope, and wouldn’t have to spend the time painting. Instead they just each got a sticker sheet of stars to decorate the way they would like to.

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From there we went over to the rug and had a blast with this sensory bucket I set up for them. First of all, the bucket itself has a spot for each of the kids to set their wrist so they aren’t fighting for a spot or pushing one another, which I thought was great and a super bonus. Then I stuck on some star stickers, poured two bags of black beans in, added some of the white beans, about 15 glow in the dark stars, clear stones (because space is cold and full of ice!), and these awesome astronaut, ufo, spaceships, and jet erasers that I got at the Dollar Tree. Each child was assigned a different thing to find, and then they were able to just explore freely. They were so wonderfully focused on this bucket, it was a great time to call them over one by one for the big craft of the day…

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These were so much fun, and showed the personality of all of the kiddos. Just looking at them the other teacher and I knew exactly who made what. First each kiddo painted the back ground with their chosen combo of blue and purple. One little girl’s favorite color is blue, and only used blue. Caleb loved mixing colors, so used more purple than the others, because he likes swirling the two paints together. Then they each picked a glitter to sprinkle over the paint before it dried. After it all was dry, they got to glue on five of the glow in the dark stars and a cardboard moon however they wanted. I had painted the moons in an attempt to save time. We have such a limited amount of time the kids can stay sitting, that sometimes we just can’t let them do every part of a craft alone, sadly. Lastly I trimmed up to edges, and these lovely crafts were finished!

Along with these activities we used the sunlight to show how the moon rotates to make different phases, goes around the sun, and the size with little models of the Earth and moon I painted. We sang songs, pretended to be astronauts, and learned the sign for moon and stars. It was an excellent day of learning, play, and creativity, and it was all influenced by Caleb’s love for the moon and stars.

Trust your kids. They will learn if we follow their lead. I’m so incredibly sure of that. You can learn the alphabet during fun activities, you can help them learn their name using sensory boards, themed puzzles, and songs… Children learn through play. When you take the play away is when the learning stops. Trust your kids.

You Are Loved!

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The Trap of Social Media

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When Caleb was first born, I realized quickly that making friends became a thousand times harder as a parent. I didn’t have consistent transportation to meet up with people, and couldn’t always drag my little infant out of the house with me. I made the best of it for a while, but soon felt lonely despite having my best friends and favorite person in the entire world be with me 24/7. That’s when I made the mistake of turning to Facebook for my social life.

The first step into the rabbit hole was to search “mom groups” and join every single one of them that I could find. It was an instant connection between parents, and a rush for me. I didn’t have to leave my couch to have a conversation, and these were the things I wanted to talk about anyway. All was well at first…

Not to long after I entered this crazy Underland did I realize the drama encompassed by it. Mommy wars, people putting each other down for their ignorance, and the bonds made and broken through it all. I was swept up, and felt like if there were people out there who didn’t know what I know, I had to be the one to inform them, and if not I would be the one to tell them they were wrong.

It became this cycle of logging on, finding a fight, and spending far too much time upsetting myself over things that I had no pull on.¬†Corey would come home from work, I’d be all roweled up from the day, and he’d have to talk me down. “Hun, they live across the states, you’re wasting your time.” Gosh he was right. I didn’t want to hear it at first. I really thought that somehow I was doing the right thing, and at least I wasn’t lonely.

Till one day where my private online world began to enter my all too public life. Someone I had fought with went to my personal Facebook page, and they found out I owned a business. It was just a little crochet business, and I haven’t done much with it in the last year because of my carpal tunnel, but it was my source of income at the time. This person posted a review to the page calling me many nasty names, and insulting my business as well (although, she didn’t seem to know what the business was, because she kept mentioning cupcakes…). A few days later, someone sent me a link to a Craig’s List personal ad this Troll had posted of me, and it was just plain disgusting.

What I had considered innocent banter in private groups, really bit me in the real world. That is when I realized just how important it is to keep all social media clean. You never know how someone is going to take something, or who will see it. You might think you’re sharing something to get your friend’s thoughts and support, but if it’s posted publicly then anyone has the ability to take it and twist it around on you.

That was the day I crawled out of the Rabbit Hole. I left all of the groups (besides one unschooling group that was the opposite: no drama, lots of support, etc) I was in, and it was like a weight had been lifted. I wasn’t going to see anymore car seat pictures where kids weren’t strapped in properly, people trying to make their kids cry it out, or people giving their children food too early. I was just going to see my friends, and people I cared about. I felt like without the temptation seeing those things gave me to fight back constantly, I could take my time and help people educate themselves in a more gentle and kind way.

What happened to me happens to many people, even if on a smaller scale. Posting private conversations, your hatred for this and that, vulgar language, etc… They can all have an affect on your lives. Employers are checking social media before hiring, college admissions as well. Never post anything that could come back to haunt you or make anyone important think differently about you. Go to your friends, complain to them, show them things that make you angry, but only if you can trust them to keep it between the two of you.

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.

Fluff Bums are so Dang Cute

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Disposable diapers… Who’s seen the video going around about the uses for what’s IN a disposable diaper? It’s crazy and just a little be terrifying. All the more reason to love this Fluff Bum journey we’ve begun.

Caleb had been getting terrible rashes from leaks and what looked like chemical burns. Seeing him in pain I said, “No more!” Cloth is an investment. You can use them for more than one child, they have less leaks (ruining less clothes), and lets be frank here… they can be absolutely adorable! Never doing or even really looking into cloth before, I was sure I wanted to start using them but had no idea where to start. Luckily Caleb’s best friends’ mum’s, also my friends, are total masters of the cloth bumming.

These lovely ladies took me down to our local Cloth Diapering store, Eco Baby Boutique in Sanford, ME, and the owner Stacey helped me get a good start. I ended up purchasing three diaper covers and six prefolds as well as some diaper safe laundry detergent. She showed how to set the prefold up in the cover and we went on our way. The first 24 hours using these diapers was awesome but completely chaotic. I was doing laundry every few hours to keep him in cloth and I learned that his normal outfit, a onsie and size 12 month pants, were NOT going to work over his fluff bum. The solution? Maxaloones for pants (or size 18 overalls) and either ditching the onsie for a regular shirt or a onsie extender.

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A few days later Amy, one of my friends, beyond kindly gave me six pocket diapers and I ordered charcoal bamboo inserts (which are apparently a great insert and really well priced on Amazon!). These diapers (with inserts) hold SO much pee and keep all of the moisture off of Caleb thanks to the fleece layer. Adding these extra six that don’t need to be changed quite as often helped a ton.

THEN my friend Brittney and I split an order from Sun Baby for their diapers… SO CUTE. I wasn’t a huge fan of their inserts so I really need to order more, but they are certainly cute and adding those three as well as one more cover has rounded it out so we only need to do one load a day.

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So what did I learn that might help you? For an 18 month old you need about ten-fifteen diapers and a washing machine available, covers with two prefolds work pretty well for over night but a fleece layer would make it even better, and gosh baby poop is nasty.