Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Announcement Part II

Raising Ty and Za... and...

Baby #3, a few hours old.

Introducing C.J., our third child. She is precious and we are in love.

I'll be on here blogging and updating, but posts will probably be sporadic for some time. I do have some guest bloggers lined up and plan on revisiting some old ideas by adding new ones.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kindergarten Preparation Activities

Ty started kindergarten on Monday. He has a very organized classroom and a teacher that I am excited to work with this year. 

I thought our school and the parent club did a wonderful job getting the class of 2025 (crazy, right?) ready for kindergarten. We had plenty of activities to ease kids into this first year:

* The school hosted a "meet the teacher" night. The kids played outside with the principal while parents met with the classroom teacher.

* The Sunday before school began, parents and students were free to meet on the playground for socialization. Ty's teacher was even there, which was a bonus. Ty also played tag with a group of classmates - and he went to school the next day knowing a few kids in his class.

* The first week of school, the school has invited parents to help with lunch. When I first heard this, I almost dismissed this opportunity. It is a nice one though and I am glad I went Monday - Ty's dad went Tuesday. The kids needed help opening packages, learning where to take empty trays, dump extra milk... every parent who was there had an opportunity to work!

I am lucky we have a school and parent club working to make a smooth transition to kindergarten. Did your school offer such opportunities, or different ones?  

 Intelligences Addressed : bodily- kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Announcement Part I

Today is the last Friday I will ever be pregnant. 

Pretty much the only maternity picture you're going to see.
This third pregnancy has been a countdown for me, in regards to "the final time." (And no, you did not miss a blog announcement. This is it. I'm behind). Growing up, I was surrounded by babies. I am the oldest of ten children, and I remember my mother being pregnant every other year or so. It was such a common part of life that I wondered frequently what pregnancy and newborn-ness would be like: labor, nursing, feeling a baby kick? I knew I would be pregnant some day, but what would it be like? Babies everywhere or not, I think most little girls wonder.

Now I know. And I am tired. I have never enjoyed pregnancy like some women do. Those moms who glow, who have little basketball bellies, they are so cute, so happy.

I'm just not one of them. By the end of my pregnancies, I cannot wear normal shoes and my extra-large maternity clothes get too tight. I drink tons of water, which I'm pretty sure my body stores in my feet and hands, and can't sleep let alone type well. With Ty and Za, I would look at darling pregos and sigh. Even this time, I'm miserable.

I'm also thankful. I know so many women who would do anything (have done everything) to get to this point in pregnancy and have healthy children. I try to look at that perspective. I don't complain on Facebook or my blog because honestly, no one wants to hear it, and I chose this situation. I do appreciate the miracle, the cute little kicks and the heartbeat at the doctor's office. I love my growing child. My hurting body? No.

This time has been different as far as my approach. Unless miracle trumps science, this will absolutely be my final pregnancy. Because I dislike pregnancy, I previously stormed through them. People would ask how far along I was, and I would round up. I was 11 weeks and 1 day?  Sounds like the second trimester. I wanted to speed the process.

My husband's Christmas present. He thought I got him a fancy pen for work. Not quite.
I tried to savor this pregnancy though, even as my ankles turned to cankles. I would pause and think, this is the final time I will take a positive pregnancy test, the final time I get to tell my husband the news, the final time of telling my kids. This is the final time of feeling kicks for the first time, having that first sonogram where you see the blinking heart, texting all your friends that you are pregnant. The final time of having the gender sonogram (where I was dead wrong, for the first time, this final time), and again, sharing that fun news. I've even tried to enjoy lousy finals: last ob appointment, last time laying on my side trying to lower my high blood pressure, peeing in the middle of the night, avoiding raw mushrooms and onions - and my beloved sushi, for - the - final - time. I've counted down the weeks, the days - prepped my house with baby gear, all knowing this was it. I'm ready. This is my final Friday, and when people ask when the baby is coming, I can simply say, "Thursday." I've known this was it for a long time now.

I'm not ready for the finals that are to come, though. That final time I'll feel a baby kick inside me. The final time I'll hold my newborn for the first time. The final lullaby the hospital will play. The final first ride home, and then tons of first finals. To me, the fun finals are coming, and that is sad, in a weird way.

Maybe that's why I procrastinated announcing this baby on my blog - I wanted to save one last fun "final." I'm grateful I am granted these finals, this baby. Three babies to love, to grow, to teach. And that can be my final mindset for this time in my life.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Activities for Building Fine Motor Skills

Working fine motor skills

I have mentioned before that I am NOT an elementary teacher, right? Some of the activities I do with Ty and Za may seem simple, but to someone new to teaching young kids at home, I am learning as I go. Here is a simple list of ways we develop fine motor skills, or small movements that work small muscles.

Easy (and Inexpensive) Ways to Work Fine Motor Skills

 1. Stickers. Peeling them, placing them, working tiny fingers.

2. Cutting. Very messy, but this does occupy my kiddos for hours. Plus, I think I work my muscles when I am cutting Christmas paper for presents.

3. Gluing. We especially like to glue small pieces of paper.

4. Syringing. Pulling the end out, and then managing where the liquid goes - sometimes it's a struggle for me.

5. Stringing.We use craft wire or yarn, and when we are out, we use dental floss.


What are other easy and inexpensive ways to get kids to build their fine motor skills?

We Addressed the 8 Intelligences! 

Bodily- kinesthetic, interpersonal.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sports Are Not Important

Of all the nastiness the Sandusky scandal has exposed about our American society's misdriven values, this may be the slightest: sports are not important. 

Penn State's disregard for human safety or cover-up for a skilled football coach emphasizes that winning at a game trumps education, or heck, human ethics.

Relying on sports for income or fame rots educational institutions and eventually society. It happened on a large scale at Penn State, but don't disillusion yourself: it trickles down into our nation's high schools. The worship of sports goes beyond college football, especially now as the Olympics play out.

My congressman, Aaron Schock, introduced The Olympic Tax Elimination Act. Why? Because these athletes (whose training is their job, who are heavily rewarded, and who voluntarily chose a profession where the risks outweigh the possible reward) deserve it? Who deserves such a break? Surely in our society with lagging test scores and busting prisons, surely - the answer cannot be athletes.

Just as Penn State's administrators and Congressman Aaron Schock know, Americans will pay big bucks for entertainment, and this shows what a country values. The idea that entertainment, that having fun is the main goal in life, will not sustain us. At one point, hard work was the only way to survive. Without impending starvation or death, people now take it easy - relax - sit back, for a continual and passive flow of entertainment. The price for valuing sports above education and safety is evident, and heavily documented.

Before heading to the comment section and accusing me of "not getting it" - let me assure you I do. I have sat in the stands as a proud teacher and sister, and many years ago, stood close to the action as a pep band member and cheerleader. I understand the power of a crowd, the rush and connectedness when your team triumphs. I have never failed to stop and watch when my country's anthem plays while an athlete stands atop the podium. Honoring people who set records in their fields - whose work has paid off - is a nice aspect of American culture.

I have also listened to students give speeches about coaches who taught them never to give up. I've seen the same students apply strong work ethics to class work. Young children learn valuable social skills and healthy exercise behaviors. Sports have benefits. They are not meant to be the big picture, however, but rather a small part of the development of children - who ultimately shape our society.

Athletes are not paid to be role models. They are paid to run fast, throw a ball into a hoop, or twirl. Giving them statues or tax breaks emphasizes the message that sports are what our culture values. A small tribute is appropriate; what athletes actually receive is inappropriate.

I can't imagine placing the success of a football team ahead of young men's physical and mental health. I also can't explain to my children why our congressman wants to emphasize the importance of athletes over real role models. Adults should look past Sunday nights and the fleeting thrill of record breaking events to find what will better their children. Valuing the cheap and veneer shapes landfills, not futures.

Sports are extra - not the purpose in education. We hold such potential to teach our youth values - values in education, kindness, giving, God, clean living - anything that betters their lives and our society. Placing athletes above real role models, giving them passes, providing tax breaks is dangerous. The evidence is in our youth.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Back To School Writing

'My Favorite' Back To School Writing Activity

One of my most successful writing activities is done at the beginning of the school year. My students and I make portfolios about ourselves, explaining our favorite things - food, restaurants, movies, books, people, pets - anything! "My Favorite" Back to School Writing Activity is a compilation of everything I use to implement this in my classroom.

I have finally aligned the project with common core standards and put it on my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I hope others find it as rewarding to make with students as I do!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Toliet Paper Tube People: Putting on a Show

We're having tons of imaginative fun with crafts as the summer winds down, and we have a few rainy days. I'm finding ways to address Ty and Za's different ages and abilities, while working on their fine motor skills while letting their creativity come out. 

"People" - complete with a bridge to cross.

I have saved toilet paper tubes (and one paper towel tube, because we don't use many of those) for a month or so. The other day I got the tubes and art supplies out to see what we could make.

The kids and I started wrapping yarn and ribbons around the tubes, adding glue when necessary.

Preschoolers seem to think that more glue = more fun.

As our people began to take shape, we made up stories about them. For instance, our first person had a bridge, and since he didn't have legs, he didn't know how to cross it. He kept falling in the water.

We added legs so he could cross the fiery bridge.
As we worked, we found more unused things from around the house to use, like small hair clips. After I took pictures, the kids had fun giving them "haircuts."

Finished people.
The best part? Aside from creativity, Za and I had a sweet exchange. I was making the yellow person above, and she was making the one all the way to the left - the one with mismatched eyes. I asked her if her person was wearing different clothes and she told me, no - she's naked. It's just that all people are different colors and hers is striped. Warmed my heart.

This was an inexpensive project, used with stuff we had around the house or had collected from clearance bins.


Paper towel or toliet paper tube rolls
Eyes - buttons, packaged eyes
Pipe cleaners


What would I do differently? Nothing, except that maybe the next time we do this, I would perhaps read a story first and then make the characters. That would help us retell the story, which is wonderful for reading comprehension. We could also have them dance to music!

We Addressed the 8 Intelligences:

Bodily- kinesthetic, spatial.