Botanical gardens field trip

This past week I went with A on his final field trip of the year. His class visited our local botanical gardens, which has been magnificently updated since the last time we’ve been! We had a scavenger hunt in the butterfly area, saw the new dinosaur exhibit, and the kids ran about in the play area.


I had a blast spending the day with A!

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Fall ball

Fall BallThe transition to coach pitch is not easy. First, you get them settled into hitting a ball off a tee. Then, they transition to having a ball fly at their face that they have to swing and hit. It’s difficult, and a little scary. When A first started this season, we were constantly telling him to stand up out in the field, and when he came up to hit, to watch the ball and wait to swing. I kept shaking my head thinking it was too much. B and A spent evening after evening practicing in the back yard.

fall ballThen, a change. He was standing constantly in the field. He was vying to play catcher. He was cheering on his teammates and tapping his bat on the plate. Then he hit the ball. And he hit it again. And again. And we cheered. And his coaches were almost in tears. And I was thankful that he again had the best coaches. Coaches that supported him and rooted for him.

Fall ballTonight, after he finished his celebratory mini sonic blast (with Oreo’s and M&Ms), I asked him if he wanted to play baseball in the spring. He looked at me incredulously and said “of course!” Followed by “Do you think I’ll be able to get the same team and the same coaches?” Such a testament to a great season. Here’s hoping for that for A, and hoping for a great spring season. We have a lot of practicing to keep up all these good habits between now and then!

fall ball fall ballAnd of course, we cannot forget that this was the very first time that our own Statler and Waldrof got to be on a team together:

Fall ball fall ballThese two. I can’t even. They got to spend approximately one game standing next to each other, and then they were separated because they spent more time dancing and sassing each other than actually paying attention. They make us laugh and shake our heads. Every day.

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The week so far…

Our week has been filled with work, school, homework, and baseball practice. And with that jumbledness comes a hodgepodge post of the latest…

Starting with…you know you’re a Mom whose kid loves Minecraft when you are totally pumped to find this guy:

Minecraft Happyas the guy in the “random Minecraft hanger bags”. And you send your husband a text saying “oooohhhh snap!” and he responds with “sweeeeet!” Cause you get each other and why that’s a sound find. By the way, sitting on the floor of a Barnes and Noble trying to decipher if the bag I’m picking out is one A doesn’t have is not something I thought I’d ever be doing. It’s almost as fun as trying to figure out what Lego figure is in the Lego figure bags. One time we got THREE unicorns. Seriously. Now you understand my excitement.

This weekend A and I spent some time counting by 2s using mini M&Ms:

Counting by 2sA declared it “a delicious choice for math work!”

And after completely taking apart J’s room:

J's Room Re-doElmo looks panicked by the disorganization.

Calm down, Elmo. I finally got it put back together and re-did the wall by his bed:

J Room Re-doIf your thinking “oh how nice she lined up the peeps for the picture”, you’d be wrong. J did that. Yes, seriously. He even patted each one when they were done and said “now you’re nice and neat”. If only he’d use that commitment to orderliness in other aspects of his life. Like his shirt at dinner time.

On a side note, you’ll notice there is no headboard, and indeed I talked about getting a headboard a few weeks ago. While we were initially considering several different headboards (one was an inherited one and the other was the Pottery Barn one we were looking at), we decided to wait. Our inherited one was to small for the height of the bed, and I couldn’t decide if the Pottery Barn one would be too dark in his room. For all of our on-line shopping capabilities, I still have a need to actually go to the store to see stuff like that. And it’s not like he’s saying “hey, where’s my headboard?” HA!

However, my biggest victory was that I was patching some spots and needed a quart of paint. I could remember every other paint color name in the house, but J’s room. Finally B said “hey maybe it’s on your blog”. And sure enough it was. Pretty sweet.

And finally I’ll leave you with this kid:

Silly ASometimes I sit at night hoping that one day, A will have a little more personality. HA! Silly boy!

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Summer Fun 2015

Summer Fun 2015I revamped one of the frames in our kitchen and prepped it for a summer fun list. I went with simple ideas and plans that we could actually accomplish (and that the boys had mentioned).

A and I got to work this weekend with making one of our homemade ice creams. As we make each one we are coming up with a special name for it (I’ll feature the recipe of our first one soon!). A helped me make it and took the step from me measuring and handing him the items to dump in, to actually measuring on his own:

MeasuringIt was messier, but worth it to watch his excitement as he was getting to do the work on his own! I can’t wait to one day when the boys are grown and they are able to make their own ice creams, breads, and pizzas!

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A’s favorite snacks

Snack IdeasThe other day A asked me to refill his thermos with water and I told him I needed a minute to finish switching the laundry. When I walked back into the kitchen he had gotten his stool out, got a plastic glass from the cabinet and was busy getting water for himself and for J. And at that moment a light bulb went off in my head. Of course he can do that himself! Why has he not been doing that himself? Being the first born, there are so many things I just do for A without really thinking that he is old enough to do those things independently.

I have a drawer for the boys in our pantry (and a door container…as displayed here) for non-refrigerated snacks, but if they want anything from the fridge I have to prep it for them (get it out of a container, wash an apple, etc.). For A at least (J is a little young for that) he needs to be able to get veggie and fruit snacks himself.

Seeing lots of ideas on Pinterest (as one usually does nowadays), I decided to get a little snack box going on the bottom shelf of the fridge. I filled it with individual snack bags of veggies, and then cut-up individual sections of grapes, washed all the apples, etc.

A has a non-refrigerated allergy friendly snack at school (in addition to lunch), but he usually asks for another snack when he gets home. He can now pick something out himself, that is already prepped. Even though it’s only a few extra minutes of prep work each time, it’s incredibly helpful for him to be able to get these things on his own. And again I think, why didn’t I do this sooner?

Snack IdeasHere’s our little snack line-up in action. Nothing fancy, but effective.

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Creating Umbrellaphants

A few weeks ago, J picked up this book of poems:

The Bold Umbrellaphant It is a terrific collection of silly poems that each combine an animal with an inanimate object. After reading through the poems together, I decided to do an activity with the boys on one sunny afternoon:

The Bold UmbrellaphantWe headed out back with our borrowed book of poems, heavy weight paper, markers, old magazines, and glue sticks. I separated the activity out in two different ways to make it age appropriate for each boy (a tricky process, but one I’m getting better at):

For J (who is 3): I gave him a glue stick and a stack of travel magazines (that we are in no short supply of since my parents kindly give us theirs) and told him to find pictures of animals that we found in the book. He looked for elephants and penguins, and then I helped him tear them out and he glued them to the paper.

Umbrellaphant Activity Umbrellaphant Umbrellaphant UmbrellaphantJ also made the creative decision to draw interpretations of the animals, which also works.

For A (who is 6): He first created his own animal/object hybrid and then I helped him put together his own poem for each one. Helping a six year old create a poem is not easy, so I kept my strategy simple. I had him say a sentence about his animal/object, and then wrote it down. Then I had him read it with me and we picked a second sentence. I told him the last words in each sentence had to rhyme. Then we did two additional sentence following the same pattern. I wrote for him because I knew combining trying to think of rhyming words with sentences and writing them all down would get tiresome for him very quickly.

Animal/Object Hybrid Animal/Object HybridHis first creation was a moonhorse, and he loved it so much he wanted to make another:

Animal/Object PoetrySo he made a treion. And after he was done (and J had soaked a marker hole through his own paper), the boys played outside while I cleaned up. A simple after school activity perfect for both boys. If you have an older child you can kick up the activity a notch by adding an adjective to each animal as the book does.

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A tale of two pandas…

It was all about pandas at J’s story time and it was too cute not to share:

Panda ActivityJ typically calls every bear a polar bear, so it was really helpful to have two books and an activity to help reinforce the idea of what a panda bear is.

It got me thinking of how I could do a similar activity, but re-work it for A’s age:

Panda ActivityWith slightly more complex books and a Haiku activity worksheet, it expands the simpler craft for J’s age and makes it appropriate for a K-2 grader. While A is a little busy right now with school, this will be the perfect activity to put on our learning list for the summer.

And if you find that your kids are thrilled with learning all about pandas and you want to take the learning a little further…

Panda ActivityYou can go to the National Zoo’s panda cam and see what the pandas are up to throughout the day. You can extend their learning about ancient China (and pandas) through an eyewitness book (this one is slightly out of print, but is available used, or at your local library). Finally, you can read more about pandas and their habitat by buying a single edition of Zoobooks (I LOVED these magazines as a kid, they are something I wished I had kept over the years to give to the boys).

Happy Learning!

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Learning Letters

I was thinking back the other day on all of my past posts from when I used to do learning projects with A when he was around J’s age. Working with J on letters, shapes, numbers, and colors recognition has been successful at times and not so successful at other times. J very much likes to do things himself, so I have to choose things that he can do most of the work. For example, he doesn’t like me to trace his hand…he wants to trace his hand. And he definitely doesn’t want me to help him trace his hand. In addition to that, his attention span to doing “sit down” learning is much shorter than A’s used to be, so I have to use my time wisely and switch up activities.

Based on this idea, I have started a “learning hour” with him several times throughout the week where we dedicate that one hour to learning about one of the recognition items I listed above. So this week we talked about the letter C…

Letter C Letter CSo in keeping with the ideas above I first drew a big letter C on a piece of easel paper, then J glued construction paper cookies to. While I was getting the supplies together and cutting out the cookies, I found a stack of post it note type letters that I let J search through to find the letter C. Once he found his post it note letters he glued that to his paper as well. Then we flipped through magazines together (which he loves to do) and found pictures of items that started with the letter C. Then he glued those to the paper. J loves to glue items, so that was the main plan I had with our project.

After he started to get restless with pasting items, we moved on. We found different items around the house that started with the letter C, and then we ate a cookie and cantaloupe…snack time is always J’s favorite. After his picture dried we hung it on the wall so that he could see his letter Cs all week. And admired it. And counted the Cs on it. We also read “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie” and “Click Clack Crocodile’s Back”…two books that focus on a word that begins with the letter C.

J loved each of the different activities, especially singing C is for cookie, and gluing the letters on the easel paper. Next week we are going to work on recognizing the number 1 and I’ve got some plans with stickers (another J favorite). Oh and the best part? How proud J was to show off his letter C picture to B and A. A happy boy….who now knows the letter C (most of the time). 🙂

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Just a little bit of nonsense…

A has been working on nonsense words at school and this past week he came home with a brand new nonsense list:

Nonsense WordsBesides going through the list together, we have been reading some of our classic Dr. Seuss favorites for nonsense word practice. One of our favorites is this one:

bookAnd a new favorite I found at the library that works on the “oo” sound as well:

FroodleIt’s fun to see A advance in his reading. Being our resident planner, every time he makes a new stride in reading he has big plans of what he will be able to accomplish next. Right now he is working on reading basic chapter books (like Fly Guy), but he can’t wait to be able to read The Hardy Boys (influenced by his cousin for sure), and write an 87 chapter book by himself. Seriously. Hope we are able to keep up!

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Hundred Days of School Project

A had to come up with a hundred days of school project, and knowing my nephews project from his kindergarten year I had visions of trying to fold a hundred paper airplanes in my head. After a lot of brainstorming together, A went from 100 ninja turtles (not happening) to 100 Legos (too breakable) to finally 100 robot erasers in the shape of a robot. We couldn’t find 100 robot erasers, so then A decided on 100 animal erasers in the shape of an animal (elephant). He liked the idea of gluing them on a canvas, so a trip to Hobby Lobby and a borrowed bottle of craft glue later, we were ready to start. I drew an elephant for him and then he first laid out all the erasers and then went back and glued them. This allowed him to do the project in spurts, he glued a few each day. While I think he got a bit bored gluing all those erasers, it was a great project for his age!

Here is the process in picture form…enjoy!

1. Trace animal on canvas.

IMG_7424-0012. Count out hundred erasers and then place them around tracing.

IMG_74223. Completed setting of animals.

IMG_7427

4. Use craft glue and apply it to the backs of each eraser and set (we use a bit in a bowl with a small paintbrush).

IMG_74305. Make sure all pieces are dry and secure and then you’re all done!

Hundred Days of School

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