Thursday, January 31, 2019

My Top 5 Books on Parenting

As usual, it's been a while between my postings. I am currently seeing a trend of # sharing your top 7 books. Really??? Only 7??? Hmmmm. I can't even narrow it to 10. However, if I am allowed to narrow by category, this seems more achievable. So, here are my top 5 parenting books thus far in my almost 7 years of parenting. Enjoy!

Also, these are not in best to worst order, but in order of my finding and using based on my children's ages and stages. 😉

1. The Nursing Mother's Companion

This book was my first favorite parenting book. It reassured me while pregnant with my first child that I would be able to feed her once she arrived and help her to survive with substantial food I provided. This book provided multiple issues that can occur and multiple ways to help you and your child solve the problems. It didn't make me nervous, and while I was learning how to be a new parent through my exhausted and PPD state, this book never felt shaming but was always encouraging. Because of the easy with which I found nursing to be, I was able to nurse both my children until their first birthdays, after which I called it quits.

2. The Happiest Baby on the Block

This book was a life saver in my daughter's first year where everything is new in parenting no matter how experienced you are at nannying, babysitting, or from reading books and blogs. This book helped both my husband and I figure out how to answer the screaming or crying which was baby's only way to communicate. Again, this book was never shaming, but always encouraging and providing options on ways to make the parent-child relationship an enjoyable journey. Thankfully, once our second kiddo came along we were familiar with these methods, and it was a much quicker adjustment to life with a baby with only a few times needing to glance through this book.

3. The Happiest Toddler on the Block

This book was a life saver when our oldest began testing EVERYTHING. Limits, patience, boundaries, you name it. How do we deal with this?! What is this tantrum about?! Why won't she talk to us?! This book answered these questions. I think out of all the books that we've read together, this was my husband's favorite. "They are little cave-people!" He tells anyone who is willing to listen on his new philosophy on toddlers.

4. 1-2-3 Magic: 3-Step Discipline for Calm, Effective, Happy Parenting

This book was really helpful once we had both kids acting up and the older was no longer a toddler. It as helped us as a family get through the grocery without meltdowns and embarrassment. This book was really good to build on what had already learned from "The Happiest Toddler on the Block." Both kids know that when I start counting, I mean business and will typically get a move on.

5. Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting

This is the newest book that my husband and I are reading. While all the other books have been great, and have helped us feel more confident as parents, we are now entering a stage where our oldest is simply tuning us out. She doesn't seem to hear us when we ask her to do something, once, twice, three times. She doesn't hear us start to count until we are yelling, and we are only yelling because she is totally and completely ignoring us speaking to her. So far we've enjoyed this read and are very hopeful that this will be the next book to help us in our parenting journey of making a happy, healthy home for our family.

What are some of your favorite parenting books? Have you read these? Let me know your thoughts, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Litlle Helper

Today we did some serious cleaning in the house. We have lived in our new home for just over a year and I finally emptied that dreaded last box. The one that was shoved in a corner and hidden behind a chair to be kept out of sight when I was fed up with all the unpacking and cleaning that comes with moving. This was my home school box. It had all the extra "little things" that were helpful to have, but not a necessity. So it has sat there, for a year, having been open a handful of times, waiting to finally be unloaded.

When going through this box, I found our preschool calendar. I haven't felt an urge to break this out again since this year Babycake was away in Kindergarten, and Buddyboy didn't turn three until a couple months ago. Since Buddyboy is now working on many things preschool, I figured we might as well put up the calendar.

Babycake enjoyed going through all the old school things. She even helped organize, hang, and laminate the calendar for Buddyboy. I think she was more excited about the whole thing than Buddyboy was. She hunted for our special fourth of July date marker, and placed a Happy Birthday date marker for her cousin born just yesterday.
I'm very happy one of the kiddos is excited to use the calendar, I just wish it was the one who will be learning what a calendar is. ;-)

The new kid calendar station
Babycake's calendar set up at the old house.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

New Season of Letter of the Week

I tried, and failed, to start preschool with Buddyboy this year while Babycake was at school. He was vaguely interested in learning shapes and counting, would do a craft if I laid it all out for him, but really he was happy to just run rampant.

This summer however, Babycake was provided some instruction to keep her counting, reading, and writing, sharp over summer, and suddenly Buddyboy is into learning as well! I wasn't too surprised to see him sit contentedly for 10 mins crafting and singing letter songs while across the table his sister is doing her own work. Whatever she does, he has to do as well.

So While I've been having Babycake work on her words and numbers each morning with breakfast, I've had Buddyboy practicing his letter sounds and making crafts to go with each letter. It has been such a success! So far Buddyboy knows most shapes at sight, can count on his own to 20 (mixing a number here or there), and knows A is for alligator and apple, and E is for elephant without any help. As far as colors go, everything is yellow, or blue. We're watching to see if he has some color blindness.

In the end, I couldn't be more pleased with his sudden interest in specified learning. We have read every day of his life, and we discuss how things do and don't work b/c he's asking, but I've not been able to sit down with him long enough to specifically point out a 'triangle has 3 sides.' I'm pumped and hope I have the stamina to keep this up once school starts back up and I switch back working mornings instead of evenings. I'd like to at least get 3 days in of preschool-esc education in a week, but wouldn't be surprised if it becomes once or twice a week. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Kindergarten Graduate

Well. Babycake did it! She made it through her first year of school. She LOVED it. I could not have asked for a better teacher. Mrs. B. was about as Montessori as you can get in a public school. Addison loved her, her class, the bus ride and driver... pretty much everything about school.

Not only did Babycake finish off her first year of school but she also finished her first year as a Girl Scout. One year of Daisies in the bag! Some how I got roped into helping lead the troop... Oh well. Babycake enjoyed the time I spent with her and her friends. That's what matters.

Month schedule of words and numbers for each day
Now we are half way through summer. Life is just flying past. Mrs. B. sent home a little practice binder with all of her 'Kinder friends' so the kiddos could continue their learning and stay fresh over break. Babycake and I are LOVING this! As we all know, Babycake is a bottomless pit when it comes to her desire to learn, so this was such a relief for me that we were provided a layout for education over the summer. The first week, Babycake was all about her dry erase binder work. Currently, she is all about Sciencefusion. She does it all, its just fun to see what each of her favorites are each week.
My schedule I adjusted for what was provided and fits in our schedule

Number of the Day
Word of the Day

Sunday, January 14, 2018

2017 in Review

Wow! It has been a year since my last post. I am not at all surprised I didn't carve out time to keep up with this blog. 2017 was a crazy busy year for us. Every time I felt we were settling into a new routine and catching our breathes things changed again.

I think that's what the theme for 2017 was for our family- Change. We sold our home of 7 years in March. We had a 20 day time limit from acceptance of offer to signing and leaving. We did not find a home to purchase in those 20 days and so moved into a 2 bedroom apartment. We lived there for three months. The first month was fun. Almost all of our possessions were in storage so we were living very minimally. The kids thought this was awesome. The not only shared a room, but a bed as well. Being in such a small space we couldn't get away from one another and were always on top of each other. Like I said, the first month was fun. After that I was desperately house hunting at all hours of the day.

Our first home
The balcony was the kids' yard in which to
play at the apartment.

Due to the smallness of the apartment, we really got to know our new town's parks. We spent most of our afternoons at one of the surrounding parks and attending many of the Park and Rec events. Babycake's 5th birthday was at one these new parks. Her theme was superheroes. She was so lucky to have many family and friends attend. Buddyboy's 2nd birthday was held at Monkey Joe's. Due to the cost of such an event, and the fact we couldn't host in our apartment, we only had family attend. Both kids enjoyed both parties.

Checking out an emergency helicopter during our town's Safety Day!

Kids got to help paint Babycake's new room!
Now our 20 day house sale was crazy, but that seemed to be the way the market was last year. Every house that was listed seemed to sell within 24 hours of popping on the market. I was truly grateful I was home all day with the kids and only worked evenings at this time. I was able to continuously watch listings and meet our realtor at a house almost with in 2 hours of the house having been listed. I honestly lost count of the number of houses we saw. We made offers on 4. We were outbid on all four. Amazingly on the last house we made an offer the people who outbid us and were accepted backed out and we were next in line.

Yay! We finally had a home! I have to admit the kids were troopers through the whole selling/buying/ moving process. Babycake was excited to move and never had any fits about it. Buddyboy was too small to fully understand the life changes happening around him. We could not have asked for better kids. Love them!

The time line of finalizing the sale and our rent ending was pretty perfect. We had a week from buying the house to having to be out of the apartment. We got new floors installed (of course home improvement never goes as planned but I won't go into that.) We didn't think moving a second time in one year was easy enough, so we decided to go on a two week vacation for Hubby's 30th birthday the week after our move. Who cared that our house was a disaster of boxes and disarray? While the trip was nice, especially b/c we left the kiddos with Grandma and Grandpa, I was happy to come back and get our life into some kind of order. Then of course the dishwasher pooped out with in the first month of home ownership. Our AC froze over the second month, and on the third month Babycake started Kindergarten. What?!? How is my baby old enough to be in school?!

Frozen over AC creeping into the house

Waiting for the bus and Buddyboy thinks he's going with
Babycake is LOVING school. She could not wait to start school like many of her friends did last year. She gets to ride the bus, and there are three other kids in our new neighborhood who are in her class,  then a couple more kids are also in Kindergarten. We are very happy with our new neighborhood.

Babycake has made a lot of friends and her teacher is Amazing. I don't know how she heard about it, but within the first month of school Babycake was asking if she could be a Girl Scout. With all the changes and new things in our lives I really did not want to have her join any extra curricular activities. However, I went to the information meeting, and low and behold, I came home the Co-leader for Babycake's new Daisy troop. Needless to say she also loves Girl Scouts. She and her friends regularly ask when the next troop meeting is because they "CANNOT wait!" for the next one.

First GS Fun Badge!
During Fall Break the kids and I went on a road trip to visit friends in Ohio. They are homeschooled so it was wonderful we could go during the week and all of our schedules worked. Our friends moved there a couple years ago and I am truly grateful our friendship has been able to continue despite the distance and the crazy that is family life.

About half way through fall semester I got a promotion at my job at the YMCA. This of course comes with more hours than I was previously doing. Buddyboy does not like the amount of time we are at work. He is at a stage where he is big enough he can handle being in the big kid area and play well there, however he is not fully potty trained so he is not technically allowed out of the toddler area.

So. We are also potty training. Buddyboy has shown interest in using the potty for a long time, and any time he requested to sit on the potty we helped him. At this point he is fine at home. He rarely has accidents. However, he does not wear underwear or diapers at home (except for naps and bedtime of course). He does have to wear pull-ups when at work, so he has a harder time telling he has to pee and honestly doesn't care if he does b/c he knows it doesn't make a mess. So, this whole process may take more time getting down pat when we are not home. Please keep your fingers crossed for us!

Potty training attire
Finally, we went south to visit family over the new year weekend. We came back to find our furnace not working and the house at a chilly 40*. We had come home Sat afternoon. A technician came within an hour of our calling, but would not be able to get the needed part until Tuesday due to it being a holiday weekend with the new year starting Monday and his supply garage being closed. We are so grateful to our friends that took us in for two nights. On the third night of no heat we camped out in the basement with space heaters. The kids had a great time and slept really well.

That's our year in a nut shell. I'm hoping 2018 is a little less busy and gives us time to breath.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Bright Beginngs Update

The holidays are over! Hooray! As fun as they are, I think everyone can agree the holiday season is also crazy busy and stressful. Now that it is over though I have a break to share some of the new things were trying and enjoying. I'm determined that we will have a more regular school schedule as well as daily routine. Obviously I have resolutions for the new year ;-)

There were a few months when it was difficult to find time to sit down with Babycake and go over our lessons. She was still regularly taking naps and they lined up with Buddyboy's. However, when they would both be awake, Buddyboy (who has no slow mode) couldn't be distracted in order to get in a 5-20 min lesson with Babycake. Now, Buddyboy still doesn't have a slow mode, but he can be content to sit and try painting, play-doh, stickers,or sorting shapes for 5-10 min giving Babycake and I enough time to go over together what the lesson for the day is and allows me to sit with them both and share in the excitement of discovery.

Babycake with her spelling puzzles
Buddyboy sorting shapes in no particular order
Babycake playing math game
Buddyboy with Play-Doh

As I've mentioned before in previous posts, Babycake became frustrated with furthering our Bob Books reading. So for x-mas she received some Leap Frog Tag books and a Tag pen. The pen will read the simple books to the child as well as define words and play games. This has been a real hit as she likes to be independent, and I get a break from needing to entertain while at the same time she's getting a little education. I wouldn't go so far as to say these books are teaching Babycake how to read, but they do show that to read you go from right to left, and she is able to recognize a few words after pointing to them and hearing  it read to her. 

I also received "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" as an x-mas gift which I hope will help in our reading goals. So far we've done the first two lessons and flew through them. Babycake was happy to do them because she received praise for doing well. Since they are the first to lessons, they are incredibly basic and she already knew the material. I'm hoping that as the lessons progress and build she won't realize the get slightly more difficult and she continues to enjoy them.

And finally Babycake received some games by The Learning Journey Company that we really enjoy. Last year she received the Math game and we've really enjoyed it for math lessons as well as a rainy or cold day activity. So she was very excited to receive more games. The games are simple enough that she can do them on her own yet she learns at the same time. I also like that they are games/puzzles so she will let me, or her dad play with her every once in a while.

So needless to say, I'm hoping that we can stick to our new routine and enjoy some new games, stories and education along the way. Wish us luck!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Why are we surprised?

This is not a hateful note, but a simple observation I made while drifting off to sleep this last week. So I ask that before you even begin, please keep an open mind and keep reading. Also, no, I did not vote for Trump.

So. Let's begin. When did you first hear about Trump? I think I must have been in high school when the show Apprentice first started. I can't imagine any other reason I would have heard about him as my parents didn't allow my sisters and I to watch Access Hollywood, or anything on MTV. Nor did my parents subscribe to any magazines so my knowledge of celebrities, or of the rich and the famous, was limited to the movies I saw in theaters with friends and the shows they talked about watching.

How old were you then when your first heard his name? Did you grow up watching MTV as so many kids in the 90's did? Did you love watching Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous? Did you gobble up the gossip in People, Cosmo, Seventeen, or US magazines? When did Donald Trump first hit your radar?

As we should all know by now, Donald Trump did not make his fortune, he inherited it. The American media and it's people however, don't really care how an individual gets rich, as long as the rich becomes famous and gives us all something, or someone, to watch. 'Please sir, show us around your yacht. What does your mansion look like? Who is your decorator? You just divorced your wife b/c you were unfaithful?! Amazing, tell us more.'

Trump has been in our newspapers, magazines, TVs, computers, and now phones for decades. He has been making headlines about his money, multiple marriages, failed and corrupt businesses, and mistreatment of women for DECADES. Yet this country has been eating up this gossip with glee. Our country loves watching scandals.

So why are we surprised that Trump ran for president? Why are we surprised no one stopped him? Why are we surprised he is now President-elect? Yes, most of us in this country didn't vote for him. Yes, many are scared. No it's not a third party's fault. There really should be more parties represented and given options to run for president than just two. Seriously, let's be practical. Donald Trump is President-elect because he has been invading our homes for years. This country has been showering him with attention for, well honestly, for about as long as I've been alive. His name has been common and known by most people for longer than most of the country has known who Barrack Obama is. (Shocking right? Let's pause and let that one sink in a bit)

Hmmm. Wow, it's like 20 years ago Trump was famous and followed like Kim Kardashian is now.....

OK, now consider everything I've just said. Are you still really surprised? I'm not. I'm saddened. I personally am not pleased with the outcome of the election. I wasn't really too hot about the year leading up to it either. I'm not thrilled with the process of our government. Many parts of our government are out of date including the Electoral vote. If, my vote was to count, and my voice was important, why then was it not given to the individual I voted for? It was ignored and cast aside because a majority of those in my state/area voted for Trump. This is one of the many issues I've been pondering lately. These are the types of things infuriating many. I've been trying to not get down and out about it. I've been trying to keep my head cool. It doesn't always work, especially when I think about my kids and how their futures may be affected. Sitting around doing nothing though does no good. What's the use of moping, whining, complaining, fuming? There is no point. It only fuels the flame of pain and anger. That's not what we need. We need peace and love. We need patience and understanding. So what am I going to do to make the world a better place? What do you care about? What are you going to do?