Saturday, May 30, 2015


 Bike to school week 2015

Tidbits from the Nugget:

(out of the blue) "I haven't been on very many simulators."

Me:  We have a new Netflix show that I think you will like.
Nugget: Is it (Bill Nye the Science Guy) non-fiction?
Me:  Yes
N:  Yeessss!! (fist pump)

We went to a college dance exhibition this spring, which inspired and delighted the Nugget.  Their flyer included the catchy phrase, "100% chance of dance," which the Nugget has been throwing around like candy at a parade.  "100% chance of yogurt for breakfast.  100% chance of me watching Magic School Bus today. 100% chance of me not brushing my teeth."

 Tater was originally posing for this shot spread-eagle cheerleader style but since Dora panties are not appropriate blog fodder, I requested that she cross her ankles.  Spork daintily demonstrated.

Spork is doing his change of season meltdown thang.  SPD makes it hard for children to accept minor changes; it makes them uneasy and puts them more apt to go into "flight or fight" response.  I am super thankful to have found a sensory parent support group as my own personal game-changer.  It is so encouraging to hear tips and stories from other parents who have been there, plus best of all, tales from parents who slogged through the toddler/preschool years and came out the other side with healthy, happy older children who can manage and verbalize their own sensory needs. 

In the meantime, the plus side of this seasonal change for Spork is that summer makes OT easy as pie.  Spork helped Daddy move bags of sand to the garage, we spend a lot of time at the playground, and water play is de rigueur in our backyard. Spork is full of silliness, stomping feet, and questions galore.
Tater first day of school Sept '14

Tater last day of school May '14

Tater is very musical.  She really wants to sing with the Nugget's choir, but she will have to wait 3 years.  In the meantime, she belts out "Uptown Funk" (possibly the cutest thing ever), has made up her very own song about a garbage truck (her new fear to replace 'panzees), and to my dismay, she loves the song "Somebody" and eagerly shouts out, "Shots, shots, shots!" when it's on the radio. Proud mama moment when the 3yo is yelling for shots, oops!

Tater is super attached, extra-sticky velcro style to me lately.  I love the cuddles, but I can't say that I won't be glad when she trades in this stage for the next thing.  It's hard to be so in demand sometimes ;)

Tater has also discovered the joy of art.  She used to just do run-by scribbles, and art time was really just an excuse to nibble play-doh and chomp on markers.  Now she proudly scrawls in a rainbow of hues and declares who the picture is for.  "This one is going to be beautiful.  I'm going to give it to Daddy."

We've finally figured out how to redirect Tater.  She has a big sense of humor and requires a lot of silliness to pull her out of foul moods.  I have some silly activities for her next airplane trip and will be honing my fake accents so her lovies, seat belt, and tray table can talk to her.  She often commands, "Fork/book/car, talk!" when she wants me to give it a silly voice.  She then proceeds to ask it what it would like to eat and where is it going to poop.  Priorities, man.

And what is this mama doing now that school is out?  My friend/co-teacher L and I will be offering some enrichment babysitting days.  I will be working on curriculum planning and student recruitment for our preschool next year.  I will be lugging our cooler to the playground on sunny days and will be covered in paint, playdoh and Pinterest projects on rainy days.  I will be holding down the fort while Hubby goes to work conferences.  I will be packing tons of suitcases for summer travel.  I will be teaching the Nugget the art of catching fireflies. I will be drinking too many iced coffees.  Here's to a balmy, magical, lazy summer!

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!***