Saturday, May 23, 2015

Beach Time

Every week since February, Tater has been asking to go to the beach.  Today, her dreams became reality.

These angelic smiles belie the fact that their mama was losing her sanity, trying to pack meals, snacks, beverages, swimwear, water toys, sand toys, and shower supplies, and sun protection for 5, while trying to keep the excited children from playing in traffic and inviting the neighbors to join us.  Someone, tell me that leaving the house with three children gets easier. Lie if you must.

The boys worked together on a sandcastle peacefully for about 10 minutes, which sounds like I'm complaining, but it was an achievement in my book.

 So peaceful

 Matching pineapple swimsuits, and the kids are actually happy about it.  Squee!

Here, Tater channels her inner-baby.  I was not expecting the youngest child to go through a baby-like regression, but here we are!  It is pretty cute most of the time and somehow she is still under 30 pounds, so I can indulge her a bit in those baby cuddles.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

What to read to your 3 year old

Gotta make things fair, even if reading board books over and over is perhaps slightly less exciting than introducing a child to the world of chapter books!  Here are some wonderful books that Tater and Spork would like to endorse and are not painful for the adults to read.

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear and The Napping House by Don and Audrey Wood.  The illustrations are gorgeous and full of humor.  The Nugget still giggles and appreciates these stories.

Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola.  A wordless book, which is wonderful for the imagination.  This was the first book that the Nugget felt comfortable reading out loud to his little sibs.

Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg.  My co-teacher introduced me to this gem.  It features all sorts of fun flaps and textures, but best of all, celebrates the creativity in imperfections.  If I had a time machine, I'd go back and read this to my perfectionist 6 year old self to chill her out a bit.

The Toolbox by Anne Rockwell.  Simple yet incredibly fascinating.

Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  Tater demands humor in her reading materials, and this one has it in spades.  A pea who doesn't like to eat candy?!

Llama Llama series by Anna Dewdney.  We first bought a Llama Llama book at an independent bookstore before Dewdney hit it big and were enchanted.  I find the shorty board books nothing special, but the big books are pure magic.  Dewdney illustrates in oil paintings; so much love is on each page!

Charlie the Ranch Dog series by Ree Drummond.  I am a big Pioneer Woman fan, and I was kind of worried that I wouldn't love her children's books featuring her basset hound.  I needn't have worried, they are perfect!  Plus, I get to use a Southern drawl for Charlie's voice, so double bonus.

A Good Day by Kevin Henkes.  Perspective for preschoolers.

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle. A rollicking rhythm means that Daddy suggests this book often.

Happy reading!

What to read to your 1st grader

My very favorite pastime as a child was reading.  My mom had to come in my room and night and take away my flashlight, ask me about a hundred times to put down my novel and set the table, yet still she made sure I had ample money for our school book fair.  My dad spent a lot of his precious free time with me at the library.  I had a lovely elementary school librarian, Sister Marie de Lis, who encouraged and allowed me to "read ahead".  Ah, I can still remember the smell of the book trailer and those paint stirrers we used to mark the shelves when we removed a book.

I am really tickled the that Nugget has a similar appetite for books, and so far, the little sibs do too.  I have been meaning to kick off a book list, because some of the stuff marketed towards the elementary set (I'm looking at you, Junie B. with your horrid grammar and your awful attitude)...well, we can find better! 

One thing I would challenge you, dear reader, is not to refrain from reading books with strong female leads to your sons.  They can and will relate to heroines as well as heroes and will be better for it!  It's a double standard as Harry Potter is given to boys and girls alike while boys get deprived of Ramona, Eloise, and Madeline.  Not cool.

To Read Aloud:

A Cricket in Times Square and Tucker's Countryside by George Selden.  Any animal-loving kid will be just beside himself!

Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder:  a caveat - there is a lot of negative imagery about Native Americans in Little House on the Prairie. While I skipped over some of the scalping/massacre stories, we used the chapters as a platform to continue talking about prejudice, ignorance, tolerance, racism, and social justice.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, The BFG, George's Marvellous Medicine (yes, that's how Dahl spelled it), and James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.  Dahl mixes a dark side with playfulness, which is kind of irresistible!  My favorites are Matilda and The Witches, but they are a mite scarier because they have slightly more feasible plot lines, so they will wait awhile.

Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little by E.B. White.  The Nugget is very, "circle of life" oriented, but if you have a more sensitive child who's likely to become traumatized/vegetarian, you might want to save CW for a couple more years.

Ramona series by Beverly Cleary.  Kids will relate to Ramona so easily, and though the series was published in the 50's, it feels timeless.  As a side note, I found myself relating to Ramona's very realistically exhausted yet caring parents this time around!

Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner.  This series is awesome if you have some sibling rivalry going on in your house, because the children model such wonderful self-reliance and teamwork.

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series by Betty MacDonald.  So much fun, mischief, and delicious descriptions of food!

The Indian in the Cupboard series by Lynne Reid Banks.  Again, with the PC stuff, but when used as a jumping off point for discussion, go for it!  The Nugget listened breathlessly to every word.

To Read on His Own:

Penny series by Kevin Henkes

Arthur series by Marc Brown

Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel

Amelia Bedelia series by Peggy Parish

On Our To-Read List:

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry

***Add your favorites in the comments, please! Summer is coming, and I want a long list for the library!***

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Easter 2015

We have been staying home the past few Easters and really love it!  For the second year in a row, Grammy and Grandpa AND Grandma and Papa came to visit, making it a very special holiday for the children.

We started a week early, with the downtown Eggstravaganza.  We have never gone before, and to be honest, I will need to block out the memory a bit if we want to go many people in so little space kind of freaks me a out a bit.  The Nugget and Tater happily endured a long line to meet E.B. though.  And Spork, who clearly stated that he wanted to sneak past the E.B. and go play was thrilled that little sister snagged him an extra egg and immediately put her in what I refer to as, "the headlock of gratitude". 

For the first time in forever, our friends couldn't get together for an candy egg hunt (sniffle), but we made do with our own family hunt on campus after swim lessons on Palm Sunday.  We kept it a surprise and while the children were finishing up lunch, I snuck to South Quad to hide eggs.  Several college kids eyed the colorful eggs wistfully, and I promised myself that next year, I would bring extra for our kids to hide for them.

On Good Friday, both Daddy and the Nugget had the day off, so we dyed eggs.  Or more accurately, I started the egg dyeing process with the children, set the oven timer to remind the Nugget to check on the eggs, then left to go help organize the preschool while Hubby (who hates messy art projects) probably cursed my name.

No worries though, I returned before the children got out the confetti, sequins, glue, hair dryer, and shrink wrap. 

Grandma and Papa's plane was delayed, which was about the worst thing that ever happened to the Nugget, by the amount of moaning heard.  I distracted him by baking bunny sugar cookies with pink frosting.  We saved a couple for Spork and Tater to decorate/inhale the next day. 

On Sunday, the children happily awoke to full baskets.  No pictures here because people may or may not have been wearing pants at the time.  We went to the Easter brunch on campus where the kids looked adorable, and Spork consumed a personal record amount of ham.  Tater was really excited that instead of a plate of fancy Easter food the she would have to push away in disgust, I was able to get her some fruit salad and a dry bowl of Life from the student cereal bar.  It's the little things.

After a rest, Grammy hid eggs for my family's traditional money egg hunt.  I have to say that inflation has really hit hard, because in my childhood, the coins were quarters (and we felt super rich to have

$2 in quarters!), and now they are gold dollars! 

It was such a gorgeous day, we finished it off with a trip to the zoo and playground before coming home for dinner and meltdowns.  All worth it, because the three children can now look towards the camera and smile simultaneously, an Easter miracle!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Hot chocolate style

The Nugget came sliding into the family room on this turtle, struck a pose and stated cooly, "Hot chocolate style."

The Nugget got to read to a therapy dog at a local library this weekend.  Earlier that morning, he muttered, "Gotta find the perfect book," and scampered upstairs.  He emerged triumphantly a half hour later, clutching, Dog Parade.  With a big grin on his face, he announced, "The dog will really love this one!"  When the time came, the Nugget got so nervous, he said his stomach hurt and his voice went down to a whisper.  But his dimples came right out when he got to pet Chance the therapy dog, who very happily and calmly listened to Dog Parade.

The Nugget's flair for the dramatic only grows as he does. This weekend, he suddenly started shrieking hysterically, "Ouch! I'm bleeding, I'm bleeding! I can taste the blood!" I calmly responded, "Let me see where you're bleeding." He perked up considerably and chirped, "Oh! Am I really bleeding?"

And after all this, the other night, the Nugget asked, "Mommy, am I interesting?  I just really want to be interesting." I don't think this kid has to worry about THAT!

Tater always tags along with me to Spork's speech therapy sessions at the preschool. He only gets a 30 minute session, which is just enough time for Tater to eat her breakfast, read a few books, make a leisurely trip to "the little potties", and get her coat back on before Spork comes bursting out of the teacher's lounge bearing his newest masterpiece dripping with glue! After many questions and conversations with Miss K and me, Tater finally understands that the point of it is is to help Spork learn how to talk. Because she is fluent in Sporkish, she probably still doesn't get why we just don't all become bilingual, but she accepts the plan. Anyway, yesterday, Spork and Tater were having yet another nonsensical conversation in the car about going to a fair, and Spork correctly blurted out something about a carousel. Immediately, Tater squealed and praised him, "You said carousel, Spork! You really said it! Yay for you! Mommy, Spork said carousel!" Spork has indeed made great progress, but speech therapy will continue for at least another academic year, for which we are incredibly thankful.

An updated Sporkish to English guide
Huskers....walrus tusks
Pie-ya...please may I have a 

When Spork was in the throes of a meltdown, I attempted to change the subject with silliness.  I asked him, "Where are your huskers?!" He snapped to attention that I used one of his words and immediately started giggling.  I got really into it, checking his pockets and under the couch, then threw my hands up and said, "Oh no, you must have left them at the zoo!"  Tater was giggling hysterically at this point, so I handed her a toy phone and jokingly asked her to call the zoo and check.  She chirped into the phone, "Hello, zoo?  You got Spork's huskers?  Ok, bye!"

Tater has very little fear, but one thing she does dread is the chimpanzee at the zoo.  For some reason, the chimp has twice now run right up to her and smacked on the window when she comes to see it.  It has been months since her last encounter, but she talks about 'panzees every day.  "Do 'panzees bite? What do 'panzees eat?  Baby 'panzees wear diapers?  Baby 'panzees use binkies?"  And when we do go to the zoo, she insists on trying to see them.  It is fascinating to see the way little Tater deals with her fears head on.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine Treats

The tiny mailboxes are out this morning, and I am actually up before the kids with my contacts in my eyes, hot coffee in my cup, and camera at hand.

The bounty this year, everything below retail, including the books with my Barnes and Noble membership.  I felt extra justified in the books since B&N ran a book fair for the Nugget's school fundraiser.  As always, this is not a sponsored post, just sharing gift ideas!

The Hug Machine by Scott Campbell
Teddy bear Lindt chocolate from a four pack on Christmas clearance at CVS
Annie's bunny fruit snacks, purchased with Target coupon
Micro pack of bubble gum (I buy the bags of Orbit brand micro packs when they go on clearance at Target).
Die cast airplane from Christmas clearance at Barnes and Noble

Olivia and the Perfect Valentine by Natalie Shaw
Fruit snacks and chocolate
Stickers from last year's Valentine's clearance
Die cast bulldozer, also on Christmas clearance

I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa Mccourt.
Fruit snacks and chocolate
Self-inking stampers from the seasonal section of CVS.

Bargain hunters, be sure to head out tomorrow to snatch up some Valentine's clearance for next year!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

I love you more than breakfast

A gem from the Nugget:  "I really love breakfast.  But even more than breakfast, I love you!"

The Nugget recently hosted the salamanders from his classroom in his bedroom for an sleepover (we had volunteered to bring them to a library event on a Saturday).  I was fearful that the sleepover might end in salamanders loose in our house but decided to put my trust in the boy, with about 10 reminders that the lid must stay on all night long, no exceptions.  He did well, but I was very relieved to turn the amphibians over to a teacher the following day.  Here he is at the library, his first animal ambassador moment.  My zookeeper heart is so proud!

Hubby says he also gave little sibs a "presentation" (Montessori lingo) on the salamanders, including their diet, habitat, and how to gently touch them. Tater was thrilled.  Spork cried upon learning that the salamanders would be in their room.  Then he cried again when we didn't bring them home from the library.  Spork also insisted on calling them "ants." "I 'fraid of dose ants.  I no want dem in my room."  "Where ants go?  Ants no come home?  Want ants!"

When I go into teach at Extended Day, I never know if Tater is going to be welcomed and coddled by the big kids or shooed away in exasperation.  Obviously she loves the former and if shooed away more than thrice in one day, she becomes sad, clingy Tater Tot or Beast Mode Tater.  But even the kids who find her as annoying as their own little sibs have been marveling at her continual verbal prowess.  She can now hold a semi-lucid conversation with them around the craft table.
Kid: Tater, can I have the sponge brush when you are done?
Tater: Sure!  Here you go.  It a Sponge Bob!
K: You know Sponge Bob?
T:  Yeah, I see Sponge Bob at the car wash.
Me: (clarifying) There is a stuffed Sponge Bob at the Drive-n-Shine.
T:  Yes, I see him in car wash.  I want to grab him and eat him!  Nom, nom!
K:  Eat him?!
M: What would he taste like?
T: He tastes like yogurt.  Yum!
M: Oh, because there is a picture of Sponge Bob on the GoGurt box?
T: Yeah, it's an ad.  I don't like ads on my food.  I don't like ads on TV.  I don't like that Elmo ad.
K:  Wow, she is getting really good at rambling.

Hubby is a Seahawks fan, so while the game was on, Grammy taught Tater to say, "Russell (Wussell) Wilson!"

Here is Tater at the preschool open house.  She is so ready to join Spork at the big preschool next year, and I am excited that she will have a classroom that she doesn't have to share with Mommy or big brother.  About five minutes into the open house, she turned to me and said, "Mommy leave now?  Daddy pick me up?"

Spork is very into pirates nowadays.  He loves to put on all the dress up garb and stomp around shouting, "Arrgh! Ahoy mateys!"

The cast cannot come off soon enough.  I am so thankful it is waterproof, so he can at least bathe normally and play outside. We cannot give him a lot of his OT work because of the physical limitations of healing bones, so we have had some backsliding this past month.  I am really eager to get him bouncing, climbing, dancing, and running again soon; it will make for a much happier Spork and Mama too!  We've had to get pretty creative with weekend entertainment.  Last weekend, we braved taking the littles to paint their own pottery while big brother was at a birthday party.  Spork was very into his work, and miraculously, no pottery was broken nor jars of glaze dumped.  Definitely a 1:1 parent/preschooler ratio required though!