Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas in Florida

Driving to the beach:

Ty: pretending to snore. 

Za: I don't like that! I put you back home!


Za: Where we going? I can't remember. 

Me: Think about what we've said...

Za: The plane!

"In a quarter mile" according to Suri:

Za: I'm cold. Let's go home. 

Me: We can go back to Illinois. 

Za: No!

A few seconds later...

Za: Everyone be quiet!

Merry Christmas from the Moss Monsters.   

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I started writing this almost a month ago. Every time I start to finish it, I can't. On Christmas Eve, I am going to finish it, no matter what. 

Today is Thanksgiving. I have appreciation for my family, health, and food every year. This year I am especially thankful for my home.

Almost two weeks ago, my town and neighbors' town got hit by numerous tornadoes. Friends have picked through piles of wood, metal, glass, countertop pieces, and insulation (insulation everywhere, in every shred of fabric) for pictures and mementos. 

People sort through debris for baby footprint cards, first-cut locks of hair, baptismal gowns, and first birthday party invitations. 

Kind people on Facebook started a page for other kind people to post lost and found pictures, sometimes hundreds of miles away. That is one positive- when FEMA and Red Cross trucks arrive to your town, you will also witness that giving human spirit that's not always evident:

Good natured people will look for the humor, the slight juxtaposition of ruins and functionality. 


Every time I went to write this post, I kept thinking how I couldn't put into words the smallness I felt. I have a tiny blog, and it can't matter what I write. I felt inconsequential, knowing that I typed in a comfy chair  in my own house with safe belongings that the multicolors of insulation do not clutter, the hidden shards in beloved quilts and clothing, able to poke and remind owners that the tornado still affects them. 

It will take years for Central Illinois to rebuild from the November tornado, and the survivors may open a scrapbook page in fifty years, only to find a pink piece of insulation in the corner. 

My neighbors who survived the tornado will need to talk about their experiences to recover. Writing on my blog about the inconsequential events of life may not help a single one of them. 

This Christmas, I have learned that is fine, but noticing small, every day events in my home is a privilege not everyone has. So, I want to remember my four year old dancing by the tree, 

My six year old learning to cut a tree, 

and my baby riding a zebra. 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and here's hoping we notice the everyday events in our lives. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Disney Live: 3 Princess Tales

Disney holds the secret to magic. 

The kids and I saw Disney Live! this past weekend. Baby girl was only impressed with the fireworks and Ty only cared for the witches (so he says) , but four-year-old Za...

Well, she was inspired, giddy almost. 

Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy narrated the three tales of Snow White, Cinderella, and Belle. My kids have not seen those characters' movies, but have seen the first four's show. Even though the stories were not familiar, they had no problem following along. 

Of course, I got mom memories, like Za waving her toy Minnie Mouse at the Minnie on stage, or Ty grumbling because Lightening McQueen was not present. 

The kids had fun, and the show was just over an hour long- perfect for little ones. 

The Pageantry 

Anything Disney will be well done, and this was no exception. The characters had costume changes, and the famous princess dresses from the three stories were dazzling. 

My favorite part was the kick line during Beauty and the Beast's famous,  "Be Our Guest." The kids commented about the lights and matching wardrobe for the closing- shimmery gold and lights.

The Stories

I'm not a huge princess fan. Za has never had a princess birthday party and she has not seen many of the movies. I feel that the movies are from a different time period and do not apply to today's norms, expectations, and common sense. 

BUT I am aware that aside from the verbal animals, talking mirrors, and carriages via pumpkins, some people take these stories literally, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. 

Women say they want "a Prince Charming" or rescued as princesses are. While I don't believe Belle suffered from Stockholm syndrome, I cannot ignore that these Disney stories are meshed in our American culture and my children will learn about them - from somewhere. 

Like all forms of media learning, discussing ideas with children makes sense. 

Media Learning

Za wanted to know why the witch hated Snow White, the stepsisters enslaved Cinderella, and the Beast jailed Belle. 

Actually, those weren't her words, but she did climb on her dad's lap upset. 

We talked about every story needing a problem, and that in kid stories, really, really bad things wouldn't happen - especially since the characters couldn't exist, like a beast or talking mirror. 

We also discussed that the stories are silly, and that most of those events couldn't happen anyway, to which Za replied, "yeah, people don't like mouses, only Mickey Mouses."  

Which, is the perfect quote to lead onto the kids' Christmas present: Disney tickets!

They will be surprised in about a month with a Christmas trip to Disney. We are excited, and the trip to Disney Live! hopefully set the tone for more fun to come. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Writing and Drawing

Sometimes the best teaching happens when the child initiates the idea. 

That thought floated around in my head today, as well as the power of imitation. 

Someone in our house is always writing. My husband and I both write for a work (in different ways) and Ty and Za busy themselves with coloring or spelling throughout the day. 

Ty and Za are learning the power of words, and Ty has spelling tests every week. Za asks me to spell approximately fifty words per day, so baby girl sees lots of writing. 

Baby C. J. wants nothing more than to be like big brother and sister, so when I outlined a project today for TpT, she reached for my pencil.  

I was mildly impressed that she tried to grasp her pencil correctly!

Then in true one-year-old form, she crumpled her paper...

made lots of noise...

and tried to eat it. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Parents at School

We had a fun event today - Donuts with Dad.

Our kids' elementary school alternates years; next year will be Muffins with Mom. 

Pretty cool? It's a simple - and somewhat inexpensive - way to encourage parental involvement at school. 

Ty had a blast showing his dad what he does at school every morning. Elementary students seem proud of what they accomplish every day, away from parents. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


In my living room - not the designated playroom - I have the following large toys:

* blue Cookie Monster singing thing
* pink pony
* bouncing zebra
* supermarket scanner (what one-year does not know how to scan groceries?)
* ball popping thing, ironically, with only one ball
* pink caterpillar singing thing
* LULU, the well worn and loved singing octopus
* a green box of books
* a 31 bag of smaller toys (you know those 31 parties? the biggest, stand-alone bag they sell? that one.)

Of all these toys, I purchased none, registered for none, and most certainly love none. (Maybe LULU and some of the books).

I don't think my kids love these toys. Why do I have these toys?

Here is one situation:

Baby C.J. plays with her zebra, bouncing up and down - giggling, really showing off.

Za wants to play but knows not to take her sister off the zebra. She asks, or whines until I suggest, to get another singing/riding/huge toy. She gets the pink pony from the playroom.

Ty comes along and even though he is older, wants a noisy toy of his own. He settles for the large Cookie Monster monstrosity.

In possible answers to such a situation, do I:

a. Make the kids take turns on the one zebra, even though they are all kinda baby-ish and then feel guilty because the older two want the "oos" and "ahhs" that accompany C.J. bouncing on her zebra.
b. Settle them with a book or smaller toy which they cannot hear because of the zebra.
c. Let them figure it out.

I'm sure all choices bring pros and cons to the parenting bit, but my main concern is this:

I am tired of these toys.

Yeah, I know "someday" I'll look at a clean floor and sigh, knowing my kids are no longer kids.

That day just isn't today, and I wonder if I'm the only one.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

What I Love About Communication Junction

For the past two months, baby C.J. and I attended the first Sign and Play class through Communication Junction. Official graduates (I have the certificate in the baby book!), we developed together the best parts of the class in a handy top-five list.

A bit of background: my baby is now one. The class had younger kids, and older ones. The class worked well for all the ages. Actually, my four year old has complained multiple times that her sister knows something she does not, and I've thought about taking her, and I don't think she would be out of place.

That's Abbey, with baby C.J. sucking her thumb in the back. 
Abbey teaches the class, and she is a licensed speech language pathologist. She does not always wear that striped hat, and she is very helpful and knowledgeable.

Onto the benefits...

1. An educational setting. I've written before about finding the balance between allowing children to explore, to have downtime, and to learn concepts. The class was 45 minutes long, and it had this balance. C.J. loves stories, toys, and songs. It was educational, and I never planned on introducing a new language to baby, but I am glad I did - she remembers these concepts.

2. One-on-one time. C.J. and I don't get tons of one-on-one time, poor third child. She gets lots of mom time with the other kids, but it isn't the same as what Ty (first baby) and even Za got. This was 45 minutes of snuggle time, our fun activity together, our happy memories. (I'm smiling at her as I type this, just saying).

3. Age-appropriate. I mentioned that C.J. is one year old. The kids pictured above are older and enjoyed playing dress up the day we learned signs for clothes. C.J. did too, from her mom's lap - and all of the activities worked on different levels. For instance, during the final class, we learned the sign for brushing teeth, and all the kids had a blast with new toothbrushes.

More bubbles! Every child knows the signs for this command. 
4. Support and encouragement. My entire blog is devoted to encouraging parents to teach their children at home (and everywhere) and empower them to become teachers. Learning sign language gave me another tool in my mom-toolkit, another activity to complete with my kids. Because parents attend the signing classes with their children, they are helping teach!

5. Multiple lessons. Children rarely learn one concept at a time. Part of brain-based learning tells parents that the brain is a parallel processor. C.J. remembers signs, but she was also paying attention to my face as I pronounced words, dancing and balancing as we sang, and socializing with other kids.

The kicker? C.J. already has a skill that she will use for life, a skill that is in high demand and expected to grow even more.

It was a wonderful opportunity, and C.J. and I had fun. We bonded together, and I never knew that this program was in Peoria. Please check out Communication Junction's webpage for more information, or contact me with any questions about my experience.

Special thanks to Blissful Images for the fabulous pictures!

I received compensation in the form of a class fee waiver. All opinions posted in my blog, in person, on social media and any other form of communication are my honest and personal ones.