Thursday, February 24, 2011

Changing and Adapting

As your kids get older, your relationship and interaction changes. My kids are starting to learn to entertain themselves as they explore their own interests and identities. This means adjustment for you and them.

My younger daughter likes to play her DS while her big sister is in dance class. Sometimes she likes to sit on her own, but sometimes she likes to curl up beside me. I balance my book in one hand and wrap my other arm around her.

My older daughter likes to draw or color before bed. Again, I balance a book in one hand while I rub her neck or shoulders with my other.

In each of these instances, we are able to preserve the contact of cuddling while pursuing individual interests. I communicate to my daughters that I love, encourage and support them. If they need to talk, even if I need to tell them to wait a moment while I finish a sentence, I will put my book down and give them my full attention. They also learn that I have interests aside from being a maid, chauffeur and zookeeper.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I am so embarrased

The Monster at the end of this book was one of my favorites as a kid. If you’ve never read the story, Grover doesn’t want the reader to turn the pages and keep reading because he’ll have to deal with the monster at the end of the book. The thing is, the end of the book reveals that Grover is the monster. I think the last line on the last page is “Oh, I am so embarrassed.”

If you’re alive, you’ve probably been embarrassed. For me, it is in those moments when my self-esteem can waver and falter. We don’t want others to think less of us because we make a mistake. Some people can become so preoccupied with what others might think of them that they won’t try—anything. Been there, done that and I don’t think it’s a good way to go through life. Yeah, if you never try you can’t really fail, but if you never try, you can’t succeed either, right? IF you try, you MIGHT say something funny that makes someone laugh, say something intelligent and someone is impressed, you MIGHT even have the answer someone is looking for. If you don’t try, you’ll never know.

But say you did try, and it, uh, didn’t go so well. You are getting embarrassed. Instead of asking yourself “Why did I do that? Why did I say that? Why did I try?”, ask yourself if it was really a big deal, or was it a simple mistake that anyone could make? If your goof really was a big deal (you forgot something important) figure out what you can learn and avoid making the same mistake again. If it wasn’t a big deal, learn to shrug it off and try something different next time.

Something I try to remember and tell myself is I am probably not the only person in the world or history of time who has done this, made this mistake, had this embarrassing moment. I probably wouldn’t let them beat themselves up about it, so why should I make myself miserable over it. And is it really going to matter over the course of time?

Apologize when necessary, laugh as much as possible, and keep moving.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Stuck inside with my kids part 2

We are stuck inside, snowed in, and it is day #4. So here is another list of ideas:

Scavenger hunt: you can easily tailor this to the ages of your kids whether you focus on colors, numbers, shapes, ABCs, or more abstract items.

Paper airplanes or origami: fold some different designs and then have a contest to see which flies the furthest, highest, or turns the most. Look up other paper folding activities.

Cat’s cradle: Remember this string game from your childhood? Have you ever taught it to your kids? I think I’m going to give it a try this afternoon.

Movement/exercise die: Use a square-ish Kleenex box. Cover each side with a different color of construction paper. Draw or write different movements and or exercises on each side such as jumping jacks, frog jumps, stretches, arm circles, push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, jumping rope, etc. If you also have a numbered die, you can roll the two die together to see which movement to perform and how many times.

Tupperware matching: If your “tupperware” cabinet is also neatly organized, then give yourself a pat on the back. Otherwise, have your kids help you sort the sizes and shapes and match lids.

Cotton ball races: Similar to tabletop soccer (one of the links I shared Wednesday) but give each participant (no reason to restrict it to just the little ones) a cotton ball and a straw. Designate a starting line and a finish line. Just be careful or you may find out who passes out first, too.

Kids websites

Many of my friends are stuck inside with their kids for yet another snow/ice day. So here is a list of kids websites I have collected. Some girly, some boyish, some educational, some preschool, some older--but this is not an indication that my kids play on the internet all day long, lol. Rather it is because I don't see a reason to spend money on computer games for my kids when there are some many websites. I am not opposed to using the internet to supplement my kids learning experience. The more different ways that learning is reinforced, the longer and better the information will stick.

Homemade Phone Book

When my older daughter was in Kinder or first grade, she was having a little trouble with her writing. I came across this idea in the November 2003 issue of Parents magazine and thought it would be a fun way for her to practice writing her numbers and letters without doing yet another worksheet. I created a book out of construction paper, wrote down names and phone numbers (such as grandparents, home phone, cell phones, work phones), and she copied them down and I corrected when necessary (when she wrote a letter or number backwards). She still uses her own phonebook when she wants to call her grandparents.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Stuck with my kids!

I’m going to get the electricity related activities out of the way first. They are a legitimate way to pass the time, even if they are not the best choice when trying to conserve energy (in the hottest or coldest part of the year).

Video games (DS, PS3, Wii, Xbox)


TV (on demand, DVR, rentals)

Music (turn on a CD, MP3 and “move it, move it”)

Now for some more “green” options. As I’m pulling things out of cabinets, my kids are rediscovering toys and activities they had forgotten. Guess this will be a good day to clean out cabinets and closets.

Puzzles – I have plastic baby puzzles, wooden preschool puzzles, and puzzles ranging from 24 piece to 100 piece as well as large floor puzzles.

Card games/board games

Read – read together, read separately. If you don’t have books all over the place like I do, write a story together. Let your imaginations run wild, just be sure to write it down then you can read it again.

Coloring – we have tons of coloring books, but you can create pictures with construction paper or printer paper. Use markers, colored pencils, crayons—have you ever really noticed the different textures that these media produce?

Build a fort – use sheets, blankets, table cloths, couch cushions, dining chairs, tables—then crawl inside.

Paint – I always have water colors around, sometimes from old school supplies. I’ve even heard of people who allow their kids to paint the fiberglass walls of the bathtub. If you have construction paper but no paint, try making designs with plain water.


Beads and lacing – with two girls, we have pony beads to chunky wooden beads. Shoelaces are easy to use (if you’re stuck at home anyway, just swipe the laces from your tennis). If you don’t have beads, or your kids are too little for that, but you have cardboard, old cereal boxes or even paper plates, punch some holes and show them how to “sew”

Crayon rubbings – Did you ever make crayon rubbings out of fall leaves? Go on a hunt for things that a fairly flat and will fit under a piece of paper. Now rub over the sheet of paper with the side of the crayon. Compare the different textures and designs.

Magnifying glass – If you have a magnifying glass (or two) then go on an expedition through your house. Have you ever looked at your fingers, carpet, or toys with a magnifying glass. If you don’t have one, maybe you should look for one (in the office supply section) next time you’re out shopping 

Go through their toys – If your kids are complaining they are bored, ask them if they have played with their own toys in their room. If they only played for a short while or haven’t played at all, ask them which toys they are bored with and would like to give to someone else. They will either quickly go play (like mine) or will start getting rid of things.

Well, there’s the first installment. I’ll let you know if I find anymore treasures as we explore other cabinets and closets ;)