Monday, December 17, 2012

Alphabet Hide and Seek


I have two great friends who started the "No Time for Flashcards" series with their children last year which inspired me to do it with Adelyn this year since she turned 2 1/2 in September.  We have made letters through H which are hanging in a line above our TV upstairs.  I have not yet taken the time to get a good photo of our fun letters but hopefully I'll get that done soon so I can post it as well.  A couple of weeks ago we decided to review the letters we learned by playing Alphabet Hide and Seek.  

Hide and Seek is one of Adelyn's very favorite games right now so this was very motivating for her (and actually I still LOVE playing hide and seek so I also had a blast.)  We picked a letter to hide and then we both took turns hiding and seeking the selected letter. I hid the letters in very simple and semi-obvious spots for my little toddler, to make the challenge achievable.  Adelyn still has not correctly recalled all of the names of the letters we have made, like many two year olds, so this easy set up was great for learning the names of one letter at a time.

For older kids you could probably hide several letters, make the hiding spots more challenging, or even try to hide it on something that starts with the same letter (that may be for 5-7 year olds).  

When you play just remember to set an alarm in case you lose track of the time :) haha. That did not really happen but we sure had fun!!




Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Home Made Stockings


I have been trying to finish my kids' stockings for the past...mmm 4 years. Guess what?! They are finished!! Every year they had one more thing on them. Last year Adelyn's did not have a cuff and Zachary's cuff was pinned on.  Every year I waited to work on them until advent started so that was part of my problem. I am definitely a very in-experienced seamstress and these stockings are far from perfect or professional looking!  I am hoping though that the kids will not mind and know that they were definitely made with a lot of love. The embroidery on Zachary's stocking that I tried did not exactly turn out. You can make out the word but I think I'll try painting it instead.  :) 

I'm not very good at explaining sewing and I didn't take pictures for each step but here's a quick review. 

  • I used Scott's stocking as a pattern and traced it onto foam which I them traced onto fabric 2x. I traced 2x onto a piece of white fabric also. 
  • Each piece of the stocking, the front and the back with the penguin, is sewed to a white piece, with batting in between the white piece and penguin piece. i them sewed those two pieces together with the white sides facing out.
  • I turned it right side out before sewing the cuff. I'm not even sure if I can explain how to sew the cuff on but I'm sure there are plenty of You Tube explanations out there. Not my forte, but I just wanted to share my success that took more years than I anticipated. 
There was a lot of learning that went with this project but it was fun knowing that this was something the kids would treasure.  I had spent a lot of time picking the fabric hoping they would like it. They were really excited when I finished them and were perfectly happy with the fabric. I think they were just so happy that I had made them a stocking.




As parents we know that we want to be the absolute best we can possibly be to our children and hope as a result of this, that we have given them everything they need to function in our society independently when the become adults.  We also want to love, nurture and enjoy them every day that we are with them and hope that when they look back at their childhood they are filled with positive .  To get to this result we search among friends, family, books, internet sites, speakers and more to improve ourselves and the way we parent so we can reach the ultimate family life we dream of. None of us reach perfection but hopefully we are building healthy family lives and a community that all are proud to be a part of. 

Many of us while growing up, were fortunate to get experience in observing adults raise their own kids through resources such as family, friends or babysitting.  I also feel so fortunate that I had the experience in researching and learning in college before I got married and became a mother.  Without that background I may have been completely over my head in reading materials trying to quickly learn to cope with all of the parenting behavior challenges. Please except my congratulations to all parents who walk into parenting with little understanding of how behavior works, yet learn to handle their own emotions and learn to use healthy discipline techniques.  Parenting is hard work (if you are a parent, you have figured this out!)  

Over these past 5+ years I have been compiling my own set of beliefs on parenting as all parents do. There are hundreds and hundreds of parenting books out there and we have to figure out which ones to trust and what we think is the most healthy.  

I have read some fantastic books about parenting but I have to say that the book that I have posted a picture of above, Parenting with Love and Logic along with the Optimistic Child by Dr. Martin Seligman which I have previously posted about, (click on emotional health resources)  are the closest to my set of core beliefs that I have developed about parenting and behavior modification. Thank you to my friend Becca for introducing me to the program which she heard about through her MOPS group. In my studies in music therapy at Sam Houston State University, we learned about all forms of therapy and we were encouraged to develop our own beliefs, however we focused on cognitive behavioral therapy.  Parenting with Love and Logic, I believe, has excellent examples of behavior modification and ideas on what makes successful children (or raises the odds of doing so).

The book focuses on building self confidence in our children by teaching them how to make healthy and effective choices.  This book encourages us to teach our children to look at situations with the perception that everything is a choice because that's how life is.  We make hundreds, possibly thousands of choices every day.  If children do not practice the skills of choice making every day while they are young, they will have more difficulty doing so when they get older (and the consequences of mistakes humans make in our teens are much more costly than when they are small children).  We change the perception of situations from "mommy put me in time out/calm down area" to "i chose to go to the time out/calm down area when I made the choice to hit my brother". Sometimes children get to choose between 2 things that are both good.  "Would you like the green shirt or the blue shirt today?"  Sometimes they must choose between following directions or facing the consequence (chosen by the parents).  We teach them that every choice we make has consequences.  

The book has a few analogies to Christian stories, however the meat of this book is very evidence- based and scientific and any religion can benefit from the ideas and techniques in this book. I really believe this can change family life for the best and minimize frustration for all members.  Enjoy!

"The most intimate form of community is family" -Fr. Stephen Payne

Friday, November 16, 2012

ABC Play Doh




We did the good old play doh with alphabet cookie cutters which was the perfect Friday activity for us.  We are reviewing the letters Adelyn has learned so far from our "No Time for Flashcards" art which I still need to post!  I love play doh time and it's so good for fine motor skills (including speech...not only talking about the things they make but also because speech is a fine motor skill and improving all types of fine motor skills assists with speech development in that frontal lobe of the brain)!  







Monday, November 12, 2012

Bar Graphs


Kids always seem to love playing these bar graph games which of course is great for teaching them about chance and what number the dots on the dice represent!  Zachary's class got these at school and we played it when he got home.  This picture was taken in the middle of it.  He was so excited to see which character "won" the game.  We used the dice from one of his board games and kept rolling until one character finally got to the top. 

Cat Paper Tearing


This cat is an art project that Zachary did in his kindergarten art class which was done by tearing the paper to make the shape of the cat.  They glued the poem below for a finishing Halloween touch for this special project. 


Pumpkin Plates


This is Adelyn's happy pumpkin.  She got to paint the bottom of the paper plate with orange and then glue on the pre-cut face!  I helped her during the process of painting by pointing to the whit spots that needed paint and then pointing to where she could put the glue for the face.  I also did the same for the stem and vine.  It makes for a nice happy Halloween decoration which is the type that I personally prefer :) 

Leaf Painting in Bags


We love autumn crafts!!  I found this one on Pinterest from Toddlersapproved.com.    It is very similar to the sun painting in bags we did with pretty much the same colors but this one is leaf shaped. A bunch of small leaves painted like this would make a nice place mat.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Forever You Book


Open publication - Free publishing - More kids

Get this Book at Pauline Books and Media

This book is a new one published through Pauline Books and Media.  It helps children to understand that they are special on the inside and that they have a soul. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rainbows Return


We had one of our favorite themes again! Rainbows!  I love finding the rainbow crafts. Gives me one more reason to hang out on Pinterest.  

We got this idea on Pinterest from Live Learn Love 226.  I cut everything and Adelyn practiced gluing them.   I put my finger on each spot to show her where to put the glue. 

This was the book we focused on, What Makes a Rainbow 


We got this idea from Child-Development-Guide.  Just tape 6 cue tips together and put paint for each color of the rainbow in a straight line. Dip and paint! 

We did rainbow cookies again! This idea we first saw from our great friend Mollie.  This one sure is a lot of work but we had fun.




Llama Llama Misses Mama- Going to School

Llama Llama Misses Mama


During the week that Adelyn began her new school year in September we read books about school and making new friends. Adelyn fell in love with Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama book about Llama feeling very uncomfortable about being in a new place.  The author also has a great website with activities, puppet characters and coloring pages at this address:  http://www.llamallamabook.com/

Adelyn and I decided to act out the book with her animals. We happen to have the Llama stuffed animal.  Our Hop on Pop character played Mama and Sylvester the cat was the school teacher. Adelyn loved repeating some of her favorite lines in the book while playing.  





Monday, September 10, 2012

Zachary's First Kinder Project!


This past Thursday Zachary brought home an assignment that needed to be completed by Monday. We really enjoyed working on it! I promise I mostly watched. There were a few corners I had to cut.  Since the picture is a bit blurry I'll clarify a few things.  

The title says "All About Me".  The next line says, "This is my family", the middle line says, "These are things I like to do" and the last one says, "This is my Favorite".  We found most of our stuff in magazines. I also had some stickers, an old birthday card and a couple come from Google.  He also decided to add color to just one sleeve.  

I hope he feels special seeing it in the hallway at school and knowing that he is unique. 

School Bus


Time for us to get back into our school routine! With Zachary starting kindergarten it has been a new type of routine but we are all liking it a lot. I have been looking forward to Adelyn getting the one on one time with me for our themed activities. This was the first lesson Adelyn and I did since Zachary started school.  I found the bus image from printables on google images. We printed extra wheels and put a brad through them so that the wheels would go "round and round".  

I think I would like to make another bus but make it raised off of the construction paper with something like cotton balls. The next steps would be to use an exacto knife and slit the door so it opens, find coloring pictures of children which would be cut out and then have them go through the door of the bus. That might be a fun trial craft for myself! 

It's a good set up craft for The Wheels on the Bus song.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hands on Faith Manipulatives

The Mass I attend with my two children on Sundays is anywhere from 1 hour to an hour and 15 minutes.  Parents of any faith or denomination bring their children to church and hope that they will not be disruptive and learn about our faith.  I love to bring my own because not only do I feel like we are participating as a family together but they also taking in information through all of their senses.  They see the colors, artwork, and progression of our Mass.  They hear the sounds of the music and our prayers.  The smell the incense.  We also use our taste when we receive communion.

The hard part of course...is that it lasts for over an hour.  Portraying this special celebration as important and not boring can be difficult and it can take hard work on our part to have our little ones interested even with their level of curiosity.  

The first part of our Mass, the Liturgy of the Word can be the most difficult for us as parents to hear and take in information.  Older reading children can follow along but our version of the readings can be complicated to understand.Little toddlers and pre-schoolers can focus well on a single activity for roughly 10 minutes give or take a little (Early Intervention Support). So this requires bringing six different activities/books/items or getting them interested in the parts of the Mass that they can. We know that children learn best from hands on activities so I have been constantly searching for ideas to incorporate into our Sunday Mass. It takes work to prepare some of the things ahead of time but it has been so worth it in seeing them learn and having my own peace during Sunday worship.

I have learned through this that Noah's Ark is SOOO overdone in the toy industry.  Animals are cute and great to learn about and Noah is a story but our center at church is not Noah, it's Christ. I would love to see more toys that have to do with the Gospel stories. I would love to see a Wedding Feast of Cana set. My aunt also suggested Zaccheus in the tree. So many options!  My mother in law is making us felt characters to go along with some of those stories that will be posted in the future!

Below are things we use during Mass and also some things I look forward to getting. I have a lot of books and pictures currently but I really want to get more manipulative type items.

Order of the Mass 
Order of the Mass coloring book.
The Mass Coloring Book: (Pack of 10) [Book]
This has been wonderful in helping the kids to know what is coming next and get a grasp on the structure of the Mass.

Readings:

To teach the story being heard on a particular Sunday I look for the story on Google images.  I paste them into word and print them for church. Crayons spilling can be a problem but bringing just a few crayons helps with that.

For older kids their is the option of bringing their age appropriate bible and finding the story for them to read if it is in there.

We also bring books associated with the particular season we are currently celebrating such as The Easter Story and The Three Trees during Lent and Easter.

Creed
Apostle's Creed
This book has pictures that go along with the Apostles creed so we use this during our creed to help them follow along.

Prayers of the Faithful

I ask Zachary to pick at least two things he wants to pray for. Also as the prayers are being read I explain them to him.  

Liturgy of the Eucharist
To prepare for this part we play with an olive wood paten and chalice at home.  We sit very close to the front each week and I point out the paten and chalice used during the Mass.  Sitting close makes a HUGE difference.  They love to be able to see also. 



The 12 Apostles!
http://www.bibletoys.com/Figurine-Playsets-s/1.htm


I just saw that these action figures are coming out!
http://www.bibletoys.com/Talking-Toys-s/2.htm


Friday, August 31, 2012

Nautical Themes!


My mother made this for a special friend's baby shower! 


Many have asked how I feel about Zachary going to school.  I will miss him in so many ways . We have developed so many cherished memories and learning experiences.  At the same time I know that if we did not let our sweet babies go this year we would be looking for extra help to stimulate them as they move towards a need for new learning experiences. I would definitely need to learn more about home school curriculum. I feel like we are definitely to the point where he needs more than what we have been doing so I would either step it up or send him to school! 

We chose school for many reasons.  He is enjoying new little responsibilities that allow him to be a little more independent such as the take home folder and being somewhere on his own yet still loves to share experiences after school.  I'm happy that he is learning to socialize with a variety of children. This school has opportunities in the school that I cannot provide him myself such as the fabulous art teacher and a music room FULL of Orff instruments. I love his teacher who is very gentle and has a classroom full of great visuals and hands on learning items. She put up a picture and description of herself on her website which was so helpful to Zachary before we officially met her. It really helped to ease any anxiety he had. We have seen him full of energy and enthusiasm since he arrived on the first day. I'm so glad this has been a positive experience so far. 

My mother n law sent us this poem from the eyes of a teacher before Zachary started school and I thought I'd share.  I am unsure of who the author is.  

The First DAY

I gave you a little smile
As you dropped off your child today
For I know how hard it is to leave
And know your child must stay.

You've been with him for several years now
And have been her loving guide
But now, alas, the time has come
to leave him at my side

Just know that as you walk away
And tears down your cheek may flow
I'll love him as I would my own
And help her to learn and grow.

For as a parent, I too know
how quickly the years do pass
And I remember the day it was my turn
to take my child to class.

So please put your mind at ease
and cry those tears no more
For I will love him and take her in
When you leave him at my door.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

More Thoughts on The Optimistic Child


I've continued my read through the book The Optimistic Child by Martin E.P. Seligman, PhD.  I have felt excitement and motivation as I have read and sometimes re-read the content of this book.  I have found it as an extremely helpful guide in encouraging healthy thinking and perception in situations that occur for our children. I know this upcoming year for us with Zachary in kindergarten will provide even more practice of the activities/discussion situations. The information shared from his research makes very logical sense when I look back on my own life and think about what has given me confidence in my own development.  Most of the activities in the book involve listening to example situations and discussing appropriate perceptions or responses to each.  It may possibly be something to start introducing in early elementary but for some maybe late elementary.

The last couple of chapters of the book discuss helpful ways to begin healthy thinking with babies.  These techniques are obviously very different from the techniques given for older children because "very young children do not yet have the cognitive skills to recognize and dispute their own thoughts" (Seligman, 278). He also explains that there are three crucial principles for giving very young children the skills for optimism and these principles come from research on learned helplessness.  The principles are mastery, positivity and explanatory style.  Today's post will focus on Mastery

Mastery 

Dr. Seligman explains that babies can learn the skill of mastery by experiencing control or outcomes that are contingent on their actions. Babies that shake a rattle laugh maybe because they like the sound but even more so because they are the ones making the sound happen.  They realize when they shake it makes a noise and when they stop it stops also.  This is mastery of an object and is the first building block to self confidence.

On the contrary, "helplessness results from noncontingency, a situation in which the probability of an outcome is the same whether or not a response is made" (Seligman).  Dr. Seligman gives an example of an early experiment with rats.  If a rat gets an electric shock and there is nothing the rat can do to make it stop the rat becomes helpless.  If a rattle or some type of electronic toy made a sound intermittently on its own with no response to the baby pressing a button or shaking it, the baby is helpless over what the rattle does.

It is also important to set the children up for success.  Dr. Seligman suggests this but this is also something that was ingrained in us during our therapy training classes.  If you are helping the child master a fear of the sandbox it would not be suggested to plop them in the middle of a sand pile.  Let them feel a few pieces in their hand.  If you are working towards modifying a behavior work towards a goal that is achievable such as giving a reward to a child for using gentle hands 3 times in a morning rather than requiring that the reward be given only if there have been no mistakes all day.

Dr. Seligman also gives examples of what kinds of toys or activities encourage mastery.  Choices in general encourage mastery because it gives the child a sense of control and accomplishment.


  • Echoing babies actions such as banging a cup on a table.  This reinforces their motor skill development as well as mastery of being able to do so. 
  • Echoing babies sounds/speech.  This reinforces the idea that you think their sounds are good and encourages them to continue the sounds.  These sounds are the first steps to speech. 
  • Blocks, mobiles within reach, tricycles, walkers, crayons and paper, pull pencils, dress up dolls, boxes, baby gyms, books, toys that make sounds when buttons are pressed, trucks, musical instruments, etc.  
An example of something that is NOT a building block for mastery is TV.  In once sense TV is good because it can have very educational lessons.  There is no mastery unless the child practices what the TV has taught.  Excessive TV all day long means no practice for mastery.  Dr. Seligman states that stuffed animals are not a mastery item however I do remember as a kid coming up with many pretend stories with stuffed animals. Perhaps his thoughts are on babies and not the older children in this example. 

Of course this does not mean that we give our kids unlimited options and no structure. Sometimes picking from 1 or 2 things is appropriate and other times when something is unsafe we obviously need to say "no".  

We also know that sometimes we fail and our children will too. This may cause less interest in exploration and an unwillingness to try again.  Our job comes in again here perhaps with assistance and always with positive feedback. 

I hope this has been insightful on giving young children opportunities to build self confidence or mastery.  I will be learning right along with everyone else.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Assumption of Mary Dessert


When August hits every year I hear a few particular associations expressed by people who surround me from day to day.  Most of them have to do with August being miserably hot but there are also quite a few about having so much to do in transition from vacation mode to school year mode.  Smack in the middle of our agitating August on the 15th, our church has an important day of celebration which at first we think, "oh no I forgot that I need to squeeze church into the day too"  but then for me personally as I get in the mindset of this beautiful day I realize that it is nice to take a break from any August frustrations being experienced and enjoy the beauty of our celebration.

On this day of August 15 we celebrate the Assumption of Mary into Heaven.  We believe in our church that God made Mary sinless because she was going to hold his perfect son within her (as the new arc of the covenant) and therefore when she died as sinless she was assumed into heaven, body and soul.  To me she is also a wonderful role model and example of a mother and women.  I look up to her faith, strength through hard times, and overall beauty.  

To give the kids a fun activity for this day I found this dessert on the blog Catholic Icing which is a fantastic blog with a wide variety of hands on activities to help kids learn about faith. It was quite easy and very tasty too!

Heavenly Jello

Follow directions on a box of blue gellatin.  
Allow it to harden halfway in the fridge. 
Scoop cool whip into a glass to make a few clouds.
Add more jello.
Add more clouds.
Repeat
Put back in the fridge.
Eat!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Our New System that Works for Us


So chaos has a tendency to visit homes of families especially those with small children learning about the rights and wrongs/dos and don'ts of our society. I can't think of any parent who hasn't yet said, "We had a few moments today" or "we had an awful morning today" at some time or another. We had some tantrums this morning actually, venti sized for those of you who speak Starbucks. 

We began using just a sticker chart when Zachary turned 3 to help minimize the frustrations.  This worked well for Zachary because he could earn stickers for positive behavior in about 3-5 different areas.  After he earned 20 stickers he could get a prize from the prize box.  For some kids it may have needed to be less.  If he broke any rules he lost stickers and again we generally focused on about 3 rules at a time which he needed practice on. 

Now that he's aging though we needed something new.  We needed something that would incorporate his chores, his stretches that he has to do for his leg muscles (b/c this is NOT a favorite activity even if we do stretches with him), and also respect which encompasses quite a bit (pushing, tone of voice, yelling, following directions.  This chart idea comes from my mother who has been an elementary teacher for...I think 30 years. Thanks to her we have this new system that works so well for us.  Here is how it works.

Every morning and every afternoon Zachary can earn 3 baseballs so 6 in total each day.  If he does his chores he gets a sticker or a check on the baseball for his "chores" ball, etc. If he chooses not to do them he gets an X on the ball. By the end of the week he has to have 80% of the balls in order to earn his prize.  As time goes on we can increase it to 85%.  Timeouts can still be used at any time we feel necessary as well as taking away privileges.  I give 1 warning for most things before he loses the ball or gets something take except for hitting/being physical.  That's just automatic loss or timeout. Earning stickers on the ball or a check is usually motivating enough for him thus far. 

Some disagree with earning prizes but I do have to argue that everything we do as humans we do for some type of payoff.  Children do not think abstractly or long term the way we do.  They need concrete payoffs and visual aids to help them remember. The payoffs will change as they get older as they learn to appreciate the little rewards of doing things such as enjoying a clean room (hopefully that's one of them).  My hope is always that parents find something healthy that works for their family.  Love to hear about new ideas.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Gabby's Voice through MT




I was browsing through Youtube music therapy videos for my own continuing education and ideas when I came across a 3 part segment of Gabby Giffords in speech therapy and music therapy at The Institute for Research and Rehabilitation in Houston. I had the privilege of observing Meagan Morrow, MT-BC, NMT for the day during the time I was studying music therapy at Sam Houston State University. She is, by the way a phenomenal music therapist. She has a great understanding of how the rehabilitation works, has great rapport with her clients and is a great musician as well. 


This second video shows Mrs. Giffords first during speech therapy and the frustration that comes with having to re-learn speech especially when she is aware of her loss (expressive aphasia which is where she understands language but cannot express it). It then shows the speech pathologist encouraging her to sing a familiar song which follows with Mrs. Giffords singing an entire verse (whereas before she struggled to say one word). It also shows the music therapist and speech pathologist working together to help her succeed. This is a fantastic example of the benefits of music therapy in the area of rehabilitation.  


"Why is it that someone who can't speak, can sing?" 


"Because music is accessed in many areas of the brain, that aren't designated for language", Meagan responded. "We're retreving pitch, melody,rhythm, through all of these different areas and those are working to get your language back".


Language is generally held in the left hemisphere of the brain however music is in both hemispheres as stated in the video.  Therefore music therapy can re route or re-build language through different pathways such as those on the right side of the brain.

Meagan also gives a great analogy of being on the freeway when you are stuck in traffic/at a road block.  If you cannot go that way you can go around and still get to your destination.


Music therapy is not only limited to this type of setting and benefits. Music therapy can enhance motor skills, cognition/memory, communication, and social/emotional skills as well.


Please visit my page "Music Therapy" which is found on the toolbar just below the header to learn more about this amazing service.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ideas for Family Time




Activities we do as a family listed below

How many times over do you find yourself saying, "my kids are growing up so fast" or "I can't believe my child is already (fill in the blank)?  I look at my kids, excited about watching them grow, yet I just want to stay in some moments forever.  I think about how I always want them to run to me with hugs or be excited to see me after I've been gone or come up to me and say "will you play with me?"  Although every mom needs a break at times, I love being so important to my little ones now.  I almost never (almost) want to be apart from them.  It's nice to be loved.  How can we make this last forever...

My mom and dad are both great examples when it comes to making efforts to stay close to the family.  They both call their parents often.  My mom and her 5 siblings all call each other and seem to feel very comfortable sharing thoughts and feelings with each other.  My dad's family has always lived very near each other.  My husband's family is also a great example.  Every year they gather at the family lake house and do tubing, skiing, cooking, and talking with very little media use. They also eat all the meals together and pray together.  They are so close. Not that either of our families are perfect or don't have issues...but there is definitely a connection.  Now I am trying to do the same for my family.  

We have thousands of responsibilities, interests, goals, and tasks to do in our lifetime.  If anyone reads my Pinterest description they will find that I admit to being interested in having "more hobbies than I can handle".  Fortunately for my family, one of my hobbies IS family itself.  We are all learning how difficult it can be to juggle schedules whether a family is new or old. When we WANT to be close and hang out with each other it's easier to make time since you look forward to it.  So now I'm doing my best to build the bond so we get to that point.

I want my kids to feel like they belong and that they are secure.  I hope that they will feel like they can trust us.  I want them to feel comfortable coming to us when they need to talk.  I want them to know that we love them unconditionally.  So here is to family time and developing strong bonds. 

A great quote from my college priest which is one of my all time favorites- "The most intimate form of community is family" -- Fr. Stephen Payne

So what kinds of things do you like to do with your family? Especially the things that are cheap?




Here is a list of some things that we enjoy doing. 


  1. Family Dinner and telling what we are thankful for
  2. Family game night on Sundays (especially helps when the weekend coming to an end feels like a downer!)
  3. Family music time (dancing, singing or playing instruments)
  4. Family walks or hikes around the city
  5. Picnic lunch
  6. Baking or making new snacks
  7. Playing sports
  8. Gardening
  9. Craft time (whether it's the same craft or we all do different ones. We just walk around Hobby Lobby and get thousands of ideas)
  10. See plays 
  11. Act out stories
  12. Reading a story or chapter book together (maybe add some hot chocolate during the winter)
  13. Go to the library
  14. Family movie night
  15. Camping- (for real, for dinner in the backyard, under the dining room table)
  16. Bowling (Kids bowl free program is available during the summers nationwide)
  17. Family Wii time
  18. House projects (early intervention for young children!)
Here are Things I want to do in the Future
  1. Attend random highschool band, choir, orchestra concerts. Many are probably reasonable or free
  2. Planetarium 
  3. Fruit picking



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Making Toddler Movie Choices Easy


Movie choice list for my toddler!

A few weeks ago I decided that making this list would be extremely helpful to myself and my daughter. Being a toddler, Adelyn remembers a few shows at a time and forgets about some of her favorite shows, those of which I also really like for her.  This helps her to pick from all of her favorites and also eliminates me having to quickly skip over all of the extra shows on Netflix that are not the most educational or on her level while she is looking with me.  While it can turn into a teachable moment of me explaining to her why we are not watching those shows yet, she enjoys the ease of picking her own show as well with them being in a central location. 

This has "afternoon" on it because shows like Sesame street are easier to play in the afternoon because they are almost an hour long.  In the morning I encourage them to go outside while it is still cool.  Most shows are on both lists though (morning and afternoon). 

I really love several shows on this particular list!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

4th of July

Happy Forth of July! 

We are so thankful for the people who put their heart into obtaining freedom for all of us and that we now can make our own choices here in the USA.

Forth of July Crafts


Fireworks Glitter
Used glitter glue pens


Adelyn's


Zachary's Chalk Fireworks

Forth of July Songs

Stars and Stripes Forever by John Phillip Sousa


This Is July sung to Frere Jacques


4th of July! 4th of July!
Independence Day! Independence Day!
Hear the bands playing.
See our flag waving.
4th of July! 4th of July



Forth of July Baking

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cool Whip
  • Flat angel food cake
  1. Lay angel food cake in a pan/on a plate
  2. Spread cool whip
  3. Cut fruit and place on cake.
  4. You're finished!




Adelyn had a hard time helping with fruit placement so she decorated her own cupcake!














Friday, June 29, 2012

Jello Shapes


We decided to make jello with an astronomy theme. We picked blue because it's a favorite flavor in this house which also worked out well for learning which color stars are the hottest. We had a few stars and a few planets. Zachary of course made Jupiter because it's his favorite and you can see him pointing to it below. They definitely go fast! Recipe below!

Jello Jigglers

  • 9 oz of flavored Gellatin
  • 4 packs of unflavored Knox Gellatin (or store brand)
  • 4 oz of boiling water
  1. Boil water
  2. Stir in all packs of Gellatin
  3. Refridgerate for 2 hours.





Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sun Craft


We got this super fun and easy sun painting idea from a blog I just found the other day called Mrs Karens class.  She had some great ideas for a hands on astronomy lesson.  Her blog post on this craft can be found here.  Mrs Karens class.

Sun Painting:
  1. Trace a circle onto white paper.
  2. Cut out.
  3. Put a blob of red, yellow, and orange paint on the circle (less red than yellow).
  4. Put plastic wrap over the circle.  Taping plastic down temporarily is optional which can  
  5. Smear paint together all over the circle!  
  6. Let dry!
  7. Glue to black piece of paper.
  8. Add suns rays with small paintbrush or cue tips.


Adelyn's sun (I helped with the rays a tad. And the tracing...and the cutting)