Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In a recent "Mamasource" email, the subject line was..."When you stop yelling, you stop yelling."  It has stuck with me since the day that I read it.  Now, I can not say that I haven't yelled since that day...3 kids under 7 years old, recently cooped up...I do my fair share...but I'm trying to remind myself that my yelling will simply teach my kidlets to yell.  I have been noticing a great amount of yelling lately, and am trying out different ways to curb it.  In my opinion, yelling is sometimes necessary, but should be reserved for those emergency situations where it has more of an effect and stops my kidlets in their tracks - for example, running towards the street and needing them to stop immediately.
So, I took off my "stressed-out mama" hat and put on my "first grade teacher" hat and started up some new behavior plans.  First, I tried to figure out when all of the yelling really occurs. Parent yelling in our home is during the morning rush to get to school on time as well as clean up time before bed.   Sibling yelling is usually when there is competition and when there is no direction during playtime.  

First things first...let's try to get minimize the parent yelling...

I made up morning charts to help the kids direct themselves in getting ready for school.  These charts have worked throughout the school year and I am improving them by giving them each a clip to move down once each task is completed. Visuals are KEY to happy kids.  I have also set an alarm to go off five minutes before the bus is at our door. When the alarm sounds, we drop everything else and get on our shoes, coats and backpacks.  This eliminates my need to countdown (or yell) what time it is every five minutes throughout the morning.  This is a work in progress, but has cut down on the stressful mornings. 
(K only goes to a half day in the afternoon, which is why she and J have different charts)
I made sure to make picture cues in pencil on the sides of the words as well.

The second behavior chart that has been implemented was an idea I got from my son's teacher. They use a clip chart that the kids are all very excited to participate in.

At the beginning of the school year, I had J & K help me make our very own and it stays on our refrigerator. If they reach the top, they get a small jewel (stickers that are found at craft stores) and when they reach 5 jewels on their clip, they will get a trip to the dollar store.  L has a clip now too- we didn't want to leave her out, although she never moves hers down. They use this when they follow (or don't follow) the rules in our home...I encourage having a conversation about what is acceptable behavior and what is not acceptable behavior while you make the chart together.  It helps them feel that they are part of the decision making and makes them eager to participate in using the chart.  

Sibling yelling will be my next post...time to go read, play, and just "be" with my kidlets. 

Enjoy your time with your kids!


Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Staycation" Vacation

Even with pink eye and sinus/ear infections, we managed to make the best of our "staycation" vacation!  Many thanks to Pinterest posts for innovative ideas to help keep my kidlets engaged.  One successful project involved making "cloud dough" ( It was such an easy thing to make with 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of baby oil, and it kept my 6, 4, and almost 2 year old happy for about 45 minutes (that's pretty impressive).  As a former teacher, I am surprised I have never heard of this one before! It is a wonderful sensory activity for preschoolers and young elementary students. I shared the above link on both my Pinterest board and Facebook wall.
I had the kids help me measure, pour, and mix (working in some math challenges never hurt anyone) the ingredients. We used our sand/water table to mix it all together in our hands.  The cloud dough is moldable, so sand castles are possible without water and it smells like babies- an added bonus!  
J, K, &L  decided on a tea party theme and used cups, saucers, a tea pot, and spoons to build sand castles and have a tea party.  You could also bring out cookie cutters, water play or sand toys, etc, but I wanted to have enough room for all their little hands to be engaged.
*A few side notes about the "cloud dough" - watch kiddos carefully since the dough is not edible. Also, make sure you play in an area that isn't slippery.  The baby oil makes the floors, and kidlet feet, slippery if it spills on the floor.  We used our porch, but I would recommend outside, if possible.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Time and "Space"

My little guy turned six this year, and as a result, decided himself, that it was time to change to a "big boy" room.  He's had a big boy bed for quite awhile, but alas, "Winnie the Pooh" was still sticking to the walls.  He started removing the border himself (and without our knowledge) in order to get our process under way. 
After many attempts on picking a theme (the best was when he told us he wanted a 'Batman' train-dinosaur room- and I was fretting how I was going to pull that all together), we finally decided on Outer Space. Phew!  Now, that was something we could work with!  So, off came Winnie the Pooh and the gender neutral green walls, and up went the ocean blue paint with orange (yes, I said, orange) trim! 
Getting bed linens was the easy part, but surprisingly, I couldn't find many decor items that I wanted to bring the theme together.  This is still an ongoing process, but we are nearly done.  We did find a really great remote control moon that we hung on the wall and it lights up in stages (quarter, half, or full moon phases), and comes with an educational CD (the teacher in me LOVES this), and J loves the extra bit of light in his room at bedtime. 
Lastly, I was looking to find outlet and lightswitch covers (again, Winnie the Pooh was nixed by J).  After, not finding anything that I really liked, I decided to take some old wallpaper border that my mom had leftover from when my brother was roughly J's age, and I used it as a covering.  Here are the finished products!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Caution! Mommy rant...

If you folllow me on facebook, you will already know my views, but I feel the need to express this further.  It is something I feel very strongly about and am having a hard time trying to make the right "mommy" decision here.  Luckily, I have an extremely supportive husband by my side, willing to back me up on what I want.  The subject....vaccinations.  Let me just say, I am not anti-vaccinations.  I completely understand that our children need them to stay healthy and to ward off horrible, terrible, deadly diseases.  I remind myself of this every time I watch the doctors stick my kids with needles.  However, I think, we, as parents, should have the right to decide on non life-threatening disease vaccinations...such as, the flu vaccine, chicken pox vaccine, etc. 
As a personal choice, I do a delayed vaccination regime.  It can be more "inconvenient" because you need to schedule extra appointments, but in my opinion, I'd rather make two or three trips to the doctor's office than have my precious little ones stuck with 3 or 4 vaccines at a time.  And, now, with the "combo" shots, they can have up to 5 or 6 viruses at one time!  No way, no thank-you. 
These are my kidlets, we get one shot (pardon the pun) to do this right...once it's done, there is no turning back.  So, here's my dilemma....
Our state, as of this year, is requiring all children in Pre-K between the ages of 24-59 months to have 2 rounds of the flu vaccination, if not previously vaccinated against influenza, and one round if they have had it previously.  The state is saying those who do not receive the vaccine, will need to be excluded from school for the entire flu season (January 1-March 31). 
My little missy is a peer model in a wonderful integrated pre-k program.  I have looked into exemption, (medical or religious) and she doesn't "qualify" for it. So, now I'm left with the decision of taking her out for the duration of the flu season.  This is a decision I really didn't want to make.  Part of me feels, that by taking her out, I'm doing what I need to do to keep my right as a parent to make these vaccination decisions.  I will be contacting my Congressperson and the Department of Health to see what, if any, options we may have, but I'm thinking I better start dusting off my old lesson plan books for an at-home pre-school this winter!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Autumn Daze

Okay, so I'm not sure what I was thinking trying to make this a "daily" blog, it's going to be more of a "weekly" blog.  I'm too darn tired at night to think creatively (or at all for that matter), and my munchkins don't leave me much downtime during the days.  I'm sitting here typing away as I try with all my might not to go pick up the tiredly crying little L.  All mommies and daddies know exactly what I'm talking about...that "I'm too tired to actually give it my all cry."  I'm tellin' ya, my kidlets would rebel against naptime to the very end of time. However, they have a stubborn mommy that will go to great lengths to get them the sleep they need.

On to other things...since, time is precious!  We are working on our "fall fun tree" and have had two leaves fall.  We  attended a fall fair (The Big E, of course!), and the kidlets had a fantastic time (as did Corey and I). Little L rode her first carousel and loved every second!  J and K wanted to go on the more daring rides, and it was great fun to see them so excited.  We had lots of cotton candy, pie, and fried dough.  All of the things that go along with a traditional Big E experience.  I am looking forward to many more memories that that one. 

We also made a dinner involving acorn squash from our local farmstand...which was super yummy.  J is eager to make the leaves fall, he loves to take it off the tree and tape it to the bottom. He is a hands-on learner for sure! 

We will be adding more leaves to the ground this coming Columbus Day weekend.  With an extra day to play, there is no telling what may happen at our house! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Falling Leaves

Here's our "Fall Fun" tree.  J, K, and I thought up some fall fun ideas together. I wrote them down on leaves, color coding them by food, trips, and crafts.
When we do one of the things on the leaves, it will "fall" to the bottom.  J and K helped make the tree and colored in the branches and trunk! 
We are looking forward to our falling leaves :) 
P.S. It's even promoting nutrition!  J asked if we could have squash with our dinner tonight so we could have that leaf come down! 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Autumn, Happy Fall!

Happy autumn to all!  Even with the pouring rain and dismal sky, we can begin to celebrate the vibrant colors of the maple trees turning all around us. As I sit here, finishing my pumpkin coffee (decaf, of course), I am ready to embrace our new season!  With a little detour trip to the pediatrician's office (conveniently next to the "donut shop," as my kid's so nicely call it), I figured we could begin our celebration with Pumpkin Munchkins' and a discussion about the season changing.  Yesterday, we made a list of all the things we'd like to do during this season, and I will share with you when we are done! I got an idea for how to display our hopes for the season from another mom's website I stumbled upon...   I will be cutting out various colored leaves this evening...