Monday, December 20, 2010

Guest Post by Holly at Nap Time- Winter Family Fun

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This fall I have been enjoying an incredible series of posts done by Holly from Holly at Nap Time called Fall Family Challenge.  She has the best and most creative ideas of things for families to do together, activities that I would never think of.  So, with winter quickly approaching I asked Holly if she would be interested in doing a guest post on From Chalkboards to Strollers with some ideas of Winter Family Fun.  Lucky for me (and you), she agreed.  Yay!! 

Holly is the mother of an adorable 13 month old girl.  Her blog is about providing moms with the inspiration they need to survive the day, while focusing on children's products, recipes, and family entertainment ideas.  She's an average mom living the average life, but living every moment to the fullest.  Make sure to stop by Holly at Nap Time and take a look at her wonderful blog!

Winter Family Fun- By Holly at Nap Time

We’re coming into a day and age when families are spending less and less quality time together.  Jobs, sports, extracurricular activities and electronic devices keep us all busy, and often the time that we do spend together with our family leaves us staring blankly at one another in boredom.  I blame it on lack of creative thinking, or the mere fact that families just don’t spend enough time trying to come up with family focused activities.

Luckily for me, my daughter is still at an age where she has no choice but to hang out with mom and dad.  That’s not to say that I don’t realize these days are limited. I’m making it my goal to stockpile ideas for future outings and activities so that when boredom strikes I’m armed and ready. This Fall, I’ve been showcasing a “Fall Family Challenge” in which I’ve taken each letter of the alphabet and tied it to one (or in most cases, several) fun family centered ideas. The reception has been extraordinary, so when Liz asked me to do a spin-off and tie in Winter Family Fun in a guest spot, I was thrilled! Thank you for the opportunity, Liz!

Go See the Lights 
As a child I absolutely hated car rides, except for at Christmas time. I lived for those moments when after my mom finished cleaning up the dinner dishes, she and my dad would suggest going for a ride to see the lights. These days, even more people get into the holiday spirit with giant inflatables and walk-through wonderments. Remember what it was like to see the whole world light up around you as a child? Make sure to share those memories with your family! Many cities host a “tacky light tour” – meaning an area where lots of people have dressed up their homes for Christmas. Some offer rather expensive limousine tours or carriage rides, and a lot of botanical gardens also put on a show as a profitable way to stay open for business during the dormant season. We recently took our daughter, toted in wagon, to a festival of lights here in Virginia, and the “Wows” and “Whoas” that came out of her little 13 month old mouth just melted my heart with the holiday spirit. 

Play “Snowed In”
This idea is perfect for the growing family. The younger kids will eat up the imaginative play, and your older kids will secretly delight in it as well! The game is simple – pretend that your family is snowed in the house for a weekend. 12 feet of snow encompass your entire house, you’re stuck. Let your little ones show their survival skills in setting up a family “nest” of blankets in the living room; the place where for the next 48 hours you’ll watch movies together, play board games and share family memories. How about a pizza? No can do – the delivery man would never make it! In advance, stock up on supplies that will allow your kids to be creative in the kitchen and make their own special dishes.  A perfect family retreat without leaving your own home! You’ll be amazed at the bonding your family does in this short time. (Also a great idea for couples looking to reignite a relationship!)

Snow Treasure Island Hunt
Who doesn’t like a good mystery? Get the whole family involved in this chilly weathered treasure hunt. Bury a chest of goodies out in the snow and create a map with clues on how to find the prize. Argh, matey! No snow in your neck of the woods? Try an indoor hunt, with hidden spaces like inside the dryer or under the stairwell. Check out the full details over at Disney’s Family Fun

Create a Little Winter Wonderland
We have all seen them, in store windows across America, those little decorative towns with perfectly painted houses and people, lampposts with working lights and dainty little cobblestone walkways. As a child, I could stare at the little utopia for house, imagining what it would be like to be in it. 

If you’re like me, you know that you don’t have the time or money to create such a Christmas ambience in your home. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help your children create their own. Given a table top and some stuffing (to be used as snow, of course), help your little one come up with a world all their own, with recycled shoe boxes, empty cocoa tins, Lego men, block sets, dolls, and action figures. The holidays are a time of coming together, and toys should be no exception. You’ll be smiling on your child’s little utopia until the snow melts away in the spring. 

Mush! Mush! Be a Snow Guide
For toddlers, it can be hard getting around in a snowsuit! (Not to mention bending your arms and legs and learning what mittens are!) That doesn’t mean that they should be left out of the winter fun, though. Children of this age love to go for walks, and this is the perfect opportunity to pull them along in a sled and point out the different objects around you. Trees, pinecones, wreaths, cardinal – with most of the world around you dusted in white, it’ll be easy for your little one to point out the pops of colors they see. Don’t forget though! The sun can be bright for those little eyes when reflected off the snow. Pack along a pair of sunglasses and make sure to put some Vaseline on those cheeks to keep them from getting chapped!


Holly, thank you so much for this wonderful guest post and all your incredible ideas, both in here and in your series Fall Family Challenge! 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It Finally Happened

Pin It Now! It's been over 2 years but it finally happened...I'm sick!  I have been so lucky that it's been that long.  I think I have some kind of super immunity from my days teaching.  But my luck has worn out and yesterday afternoon I started feeling kind of crummy.  One of my friends that I hadn't seen in a long time invited us to their Christmas Lighting Party and since I had just started feeling under the weather, not even sure I was sick yet, we went a head and went (now I feel so bad about going, I really hope no one else gets sick).  But by bedtime last night, I knew I was really sick.  Congested, coughing, sore throat, achy body, headache, but luckily no fever.  

Eric offered to stay home today but he missed work yesterday, he had a dentist appointment in the morning and I had a doctor's appointment in the afternoon (completely unrelated to this).  So I know missing another day would put him so far behind and I didn't want to do that to him, so I'm toughing it out.  So far it's not too bad, it amazing what a little medicine can do.  I don't feel great but much better than I did this morning when I woke up.  Hopefully I'll get over this soon and without anyone else in our family catching it.

On to more exciting (and interesting) things.  For the past 2 weeks or so, Avery and I have been working on learning different body parts.  She's still not always a fan of getting her diaper changed so I decided that teaching her body parts during that time would be perfect, a great distraction.  Now, she can show you where her nose, ears, eyes, mouth, head, feet, hands, arms, legs, knees, elbow, fingers, and belly button are.  She can also say nose, mouth, head, feet, belly button, and elbow.  Well, kind of say, as well as you would expect from a 14 month old!  Since she's doing so well at that, we have also started working on what animals say.  She can now tell you what a horse, cow, and sheep say.  It's so cute!  I just can't get over how much she has changed in the last few months.  It's so fun to watch her grow, learn, and change!

Avery has also gotten so much more interested in books lately.  Before she would listen to them if I started reading but she had a short attention span for most books and it always had to be me that initiated the reading.  Well, now she will bring me books through out that day.  She'll carry it over to me, say book, and then sign please.  After I read it once, she'll usually sign more please and we'll read it again (not uncommon for this pattern to happen up to 10 times).  She definitely has her favorite books, she loves Good Morning, Good Night, On the Move, Peek-a-Boo Kisses, The Petting Zoo, and Pat the Bunny.  I love seeing her develop a love for reading and books, makes me so happy!

On the Christmas front, I have finished all the shopping for our family and my family (and have for about a week now) but haven't started Eric's family at all.  It's not my fault though, Eric won't tell me what to get them!  I keep telling him that I am happy to go get everything, all he has to do is give me some ideas but he keeps procrastinating.  I really hope he comes up with something soon, I do not want to be stuck doing too much last minute shopping.  

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Pin It Now! What a crazy, long couple of weeks it has been!  I have missed doing personal posts but just have not been able to find the time with all the craziness.  It started when Avery got sick and it totally messed up her sleeping (which is when I do most of my blogging).  She started taking very short naps because she would wake herself up coughing and sneezing.  That lasted about a week and a half, a very long week and a half!  

Right after she got better, we were off to my sister and brother-in-laws for our first of 2 Thanksgivings.  We had a great time hanging out with my family and had an incredible meal.  Each Thanksgiving we have have the exact same meal because no one wants to mess up perfection.  : )  We have turkey, Grandma D's stuffing, Grandma P's Waldorf salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, and creamed corn.  This year for dessert my mom made an incredible chocolate bread pudding.  It was really easy and absolutely delicious!  

When we got back things didn't slow down a bit.  We had a couple playdates and my mom had to have oral surgery.  Since my dad had to work, she came over to our house each day so I could take care of her.  It was pretty rough at the beginning but she's doing much better now.  Eric also had to have some dental work done, he chipped a tooth and ended up having to have a crown put on.  Nothing to serious but still not fun.  

In more exciting news, Avery is now officially a walker!  Before this past Tuesday, she would take steps here and there but she would always fall down and then end up crawling the rest of the way.  Her most up until that point was about 10 steps or so.  However, Tuesday it just seemed to click and all of a sudden she walked from her bedroom, down the hall, through the living room, into the kitchen, and ended up in the dining room by the windows into the backyard, all without falling down.  Since that point she has been a walking machine!  She wants to walk everywhere!  It is so fun and exciting to watch but has definitely made life more interesting.  I am having to constantly chase her around the house, she doesn't want to sit still for long at all.  

Thursday we went to my in-laws and celebrated Thanksgiving with them.  It was a nice, relaxing time and I loved that I didn't have to do any of the cooking (except for the red velvet cake I made the day before for dessert, a special request from my sister-in-law for her birthday which was the 22nd).  Avery had a great time running all around Grammy and Grandpa's house!

Luckily things have started to settle down but I'm sure it won't be for long with Christmas right around the corner and barely any of my shopping done.  But I don't mind cause I love this time of year!  I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Friday, November 5, 2010


Pin It Now! Avery and I are slowly adjusting to the new nap schedule but boy has it been a long week!  I have been one tired mama!  I used to get up right before Avery in the morning, about 7:15, and then take my shower and get ready for the day during her first nap.  However, now I have to get up before her, about 6:45, to get everything done since I don't have that first nap anymore.  It's amazing how much a difference 30 minutes of sleep can make!  I have also been trying to find things to do in the morning to keep her busy so that she doesn't get too fussy.  We have gone to the library's Rhythm and Rhymes class, took a class at Little Gym, went to Little Swimmers, and went on a walk with some friends from my mom group, plus all the other usual errands and things.  

It's also been tough to adjust to only having one "break" a day instead of two.  It makes the day extra long and I am so ready for Eric to get home at about 5:15 or so.  It's nice to have someone else there to take a little of the pressure off me and give me a second to breath.  

I know it's going to get easier with each passing day and I love that we can now participate in so many of the infant/toddler classes that we couldn't before.  I am also thankful that she still takes a nap at all, I know when she drops that one (hopefully not for a couple years) it will be even tougher to adjust!  I can't imagine not having a "break" all day long!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Pin It Now! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  I loved it as a child and have found I love it as a mom, too!  We had a pretty busy Halloween weekend.  It started on Friday when some of my friends and I took our kids downtown for Halloweenie (Halloween for teenie weenies).  Most of the stores were open and handing out candy.  It was a mad house!  The sidewalks were packed and it was so tough getting in and out of the stores.  My friends all took strollers but I opted to carry Avery, that way we could practice our walking once we got into the store (I would hold her hand for support since she's not an independent walker yet).  She was so cute walking up with her trick or treat bag!

Saturday we carved our pumpkins.  Avery had so much fun helping me get all the gooey mess out of the pumpkins.  By the end of it she was covered, it's a good think we stripped her down to her diaper!

On Halloween evening (not really night since Avery starts bedtime routine at about 6:15 and is down at 7) we took our little bumble bee to both sets of grandparents houses and stopped by a couple neighbors.  We didn't want to do too much but knew we had couple places we had to go!

I love the shiny wings and stinger!  So cute!

One of Avery's favorite "toys" are those cards that play music.  She loves opening and closing them and dancing to the music.  So my mom got her a Scooby Doo Halloween card that she just loves.  It even has these little buttons that you can push and characters from the show will say something.  She had to best time playing with it!

Hope everyone had a great Halloween!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's Been Too Long!

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It feels like forever since I have done a post and I have so much to catch everyone up on.  I'm not ever sure where to start!  

Avery finally cut her first tooth!  Last Sunday I noticed her bottom gum was swollen and white so I knew it was coming.  Then on Tuesday it finally made it's way through.  You still can't really see it but you can definitely feel it!  Pretty exciting, first tooth at 13 months old (it took long enough)! 

During the 5 days leading up to us going out of town Avery skipped 3 of her afternoon naps and the other 2 were less then 30 minutes (after staying awake for 30 minutes to an hour).  I began wondering if maybe she was trying to tell me she was ready to drop a nap.  When I talked to my sister (a toddler teacher) she confirmed my suspicions.  So I did a little more reading up on it and found this at Just The Facts Baby:

Signs your child is ready to change to one daily nap
Your child is ready to switch from two naps to one if . . .
  • when you put him down for a nap, he plays or fusses for at least 30 minutes before falling asleep. Then, he takes only a short nap.
  • he can go for car rides early in the day without falling asleep.
  • he can miss a nap and remain cheerful and energetic until his next nap, or bedtime.
  • he naps well for one of his naps, but totally resists the other nap
Well, all of these are true for Avery.  On our 2 hour last week, she didn't sleep the entire trip even though it was during a nap time!  Even though she was skipping or not sleeping much at her afternoon nap, she was still in a great mood and you never would have guessed that she hadn't slept since 11:30 in the morning.  Her morning nap was completely unaffected.  She'd go right in for nap, fall asleep no problem, and sleep for about an hour and a half.  So, I knew it was time to make the big switch!  However, I did not want to do it while we were away.  Sleep is so messed up when away from home anyway and I didn't want to mess everything up more.  So while we were gone she continued with her crazy naps, great in the morning and short or nonexistent in the afternoon.  The day after we got back I sucked it up and we dropped the morning nap.  We ended up going to a local children's museum that morning (which she LOVED) to help keep her active and happy.  She did great but the nap wasn't as long as I would have liked, only an hour and a half.  Then on Saturday we went to the Budweiser Clydesdale Ranch (which was so cool, those horses are huge) in the morning with my mom group and she had an awesome nap, 2 hours and 50 minutes.  Today, we played at the house and then ran some family errands in the morning.  Her nap was once again short, only an hour and a half.  So I'm wondering if it will get take her sometime to get into a new nap routine and settle into a regular nap length.  What have you other mom's who have gone through this noticed?  Was there a learning curve to it?  However, overall, I am really happy with how it has gone.  She has been in a great mood, handled the transition so well, and is going down much faster at nap time and bedtime.

Avery is talking and signing up a storm.  It's so fun to see and hear her communicate her wants and needs.  What's really fun is how she is putting multiple signs together and even tying spoken words with the signs.  Today at dinner she signed "eat" "more" "please" and said "more" when she signed it, and it was all without prompting.  She also signs "up" "please" and says "up" and signs "down" "please" and says "down."  I just love it!

Being gone all last week and then losing a nap time have gotten me so far behind on everything!  My house is not as clean as I would like it to be, I am so far behind on some organizing stuff for my mom group, and I haven't been able to blog as much as I would like to.  It's been so crazy!   

But I think that's enough for tonight, I need to go spend some time with the hubs, he's probably feeling a bit neglected this evening (I spent a long time catching up on everyone's blogs and then started writing this so we have barely talked at all).  I'll do a post with Halloween stuff soon!  Until then here are some pics from the children's museum and the Clydesdale ranch.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wonderful, Busy Weekend

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What a wonderful, busy weekend we have had so far!  Yesterday my parents came over to help us out by watching Avery so we could get some things done around the house.  We needed to get some wall decals up in Avery's room, some wall decals up in the family room, and get the leaves in the yard raked (we have tons of trees which makes for tons of leaves).  

We started out with the decals in Avery's room.  I had ordered them from Etsy a while ago but we never found the time to get them up.  The decals include 4 big puffy clouds and 3 butterflies that I had custom made to match her bedding (Peek a Boo Friends from CoCaLo).  I have to say, I think it looks pretty good.  And what's even better is that Avery loves it!  Every time we go into her room she points at it and calls out "ohhh."  Now we just have to get her name in wooden letters hung up.   I have them painted and ready to go but just can't figure out how to hang them.  Unlike the wall decals, the wooden letters were a complete catastrophe.  I ordered them off Esty also, but was not happy with them at all when I got them.  They were so poorly made there was no way I was going to hang them up.  So I repainted them in solid colors to match her bedding.  Before they even reached us the saw tooth hanger on the back fell off.  The woman who made them simply hot glued them on the back.  So frustrating!  Anyone have any ideas on how to hang them?  They are too thin to drill into, that was Eric's idea.  I'm thinking that we might try to reattach the sawtooth hanger but I'm not sure what glue to use.  Obviously hot glue isn't strong enough!
 Avery's name will be in that blank space right in the middle of the 3 clouds

After that, we tackled the yard.  I have decided we have way too many trees!!!  It was never ending!  Every time I thought we were getting close, I'd turn around and see a ton more leaves.  My back and shoulders are so sore today.  Ugh!!  However, the yard looks great now and hopefully we will only have to do that one more time this season!

Our last big project of the day was putting up some wall decals in the family room. We got some really cool circles from Dali Wall Decals (be on the look out for my upcoming review and giveaway from Dali Wall Decals).  We started taping them all up on the wall but ran out of time and haven't gotten to finish it yet.  I think they are going to look great.  We have a chair (picture down below) and matching pillows with circles all over them and I think the wall will go perfectly with the decals!
 The circles are brown and off white/yellowish

We ended yesterday with a wonderful dinner that my dad and Eric cooked and then watching an incredible football game.  It was an exciting night for Mizzou football!  We were actually the ESPN Primetime Game, so it was a huge deal.  Not to mention that our team played great, and we beat Oklahoma.  GO TIGERS!!!  

Today has been another busy day.  We have to go out of town this week, we leave Monday and won't be back until Thursday.  So I have spent the day getting ready for the trip.  It is amazing how much stuff one little girl needs for 3 nights and 4 days away.  I feel like I'm packing half the house!  

By the way, since we are going to be gone, I don't think I'm going to have much time to do too much blogging.  I'm hoping to get some posts up but I probably won't be able to stop by many of your blogs and leave comments.  I'm sorry!  : (  But I hope to start making the rounds on Friday or the weekend at the latest! 

I hope everyone is having a great weekend and has a wonderful week!  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Eating and Drinking Like a Big Girl

Pin It Now! About a month ago my sister (C) and brother-in-law were in town and my sister mentioned letting Avery start drinking out of a cup by herself.  She has been using a sippy cup for quite a while but C said that in the infant room where she teaches, they start using regular glasses (child sized of course) well before the kids' first birthdays.  Avery was just about to turn 1 so I figured we would give it a try.  We have this little measuring glass that is just the right size for it so we started letting Avery practice, with our help, during meals.  She still uses a sippy cup at other times during the day but at meal time she always drinks out of a regular glass now.  It's so cute and she's getting really good at it, she can even do it by herself sometimes.  When she first started, she would do this crazy thing with her tongue that I can't even describe but it was hilarious!  She doesn't do it anymore but it used to crack Eric and I up.  The other thing that cracks me up about it is that the glass she uses, even though it is a measure glass, it actually looks kind of like a shot glass, same size and shape.  So it always looks like we are giving our 1 year old daughter shots of vodka!

Then a couple weeks ago, Amber at Nater Tot wrote a post on Toddler Tip: Learning How to Use a Spoon so I figured since we were using a glass we might as well start using a spoon too.  She had some great tips, like use two bowls and two spoons and use a suction bowl.  We've been doing it for about a week now and although she's not perfect at it, she is getting much better.  She still has a hard time scooping the food out by herself and she's always wanting to put the spoon in her mouth upside down but she has come a long way.

Since we started, I have been using scaffolding to help her learn how to feed herself.  At first I helped her through the whole thing; holding the spoon with her, helping her scoop, guiding it to her mouth, and then repeating.  She always held the spoon with me but I helped her learn how the process and steps.  As time went on I gradually pulled back support, letting her do more and more of it on her own.  It worked really well and has really helped her learn to eat on her own.  We try to practice at least once a day and she gets so excited when she sees those bowls and spoons come out!

 Look at that smile, so proud of herself!  : )

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mmmm, Mmmm, Mmmm

Pin It Now! As you may know, I love chocolate.  Well, I also love peanut butter, and the only thing better then each of those separately, is chocolate and peanut butter together.  Yesterday I ran to the grocery store to grab a couple of things for dinner and while walking by the freezer section I found something that I couldn't pass up, Edy's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream.  Oh my gosh is it incredible!  The chocolate is so rich and creamy and the chunks of peanut butter cups are huge.  I think I have a new favorite ice cream!  I am so looking forward to another bowl tonight!  This could be bad, very bad!  : )

Thursday, October 14, 2010

But I Signed "Please!"

Pin It Now! In the last week or two Avery has gotten very good at signing the word "please", which makes me so happy, I love good manners!  At dinner she will sign "more please" when she wants more food, or "drink please" when she is thirsty.  When she wants a toy down from the top shelf she'll sign "please" and point, or when she wants us to pick her up she'll sign "up please."  It's going really well and when a new situation arises where "please" is appropriate she's catching on quickly.  It's wonderful (next up... thank you)!

However, she has also decided that if she signs "please," it means she gets it no matter what.  Sorry, Avery, just because you sign "please" it doesn't mean you can have a sip of my coffee, play with the kitchen knife, eat my flip flop, hold the glass jar of pickles at the grocery store, chew on the dogs' toy, or tear up the credit card bill.  And when I tell her no, she, of course, acts like it's the end of the world and I am the meanest mom in the world. She gets big tears in her eyes and her chin begins to quiver.  Such a drama queen!  When I taught, I had students that had that sense of entitlement attitude quite often when they would say please (not usually to the extreme that Avery takes it to) but I had no idea it started this early.  I mean really, Avery has known this sign for 2 weeks tops and she already thinks it can get her ANYTHING she wants.  It crazy how quickly they pick up on things and how they interpret the meaning!

Monday, October 11, 2010

More Blog Awards!!

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I have to send a big thank you to Cheeky Momma at Being Frugal and Making It Work who has given me not one but THREE blog awards.  Wow, what an honor!!  If you haven't checked out her blog, you should definitely stop by!

Rules for accepting:

1.  Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award

2.  Share 7 things about yourself

3.  Pass this on to 13 other great bloggers

4.  Contact the selected bloggers and tell them about their awards

7 Things About Me
1. I feel so lucky to be the mother of such an incredible little girl and wife to such an amazing husband
2. I love traveling but don't get to do it as much as I would like to, my dream vacation would be a big trip to Europe
3. I love anything chocolate
4. Every summer we go to Sanibel Island with my husband's family for a week
5. I have the best family anyone could ask for, we love spending time together and always have to much fun
6. My favorite holiday is Christmas with Thanksgiving a close second
7. I hate cold weather, I'm a warm weather kind of girl (which doesn't work well living in Missouri)

Here are the 12 wonderful bloggers I would like to pass these blogs on to:

I hope you get a chance to go check out these wonderful blogs!  Thanks again to  Cheeky Momma!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Our Bookshelf: Peekaboo, Baby!

Pin It Now! For Avery's birthday her great grandmother, who we call GG, gave her a book called Peekaboo, Baby! written by Susan Amerikaner and illustrated by Nadeem Zaidi.  It quickly became one of her new favorite books!
Peekaboo Baby! is an adorable interactive book that not only has a lift-the-flap on each spread, but also has a cute stuffed animal monkey which has tiny magnets in the paws and eyes.  The magnets make it possible for babies/kids to actually play peek-a-boo with the monkey.  Follow Mimi as she spies a frog behind a tree, the cat underneath her chair, her brother in the tub, and Mama beside her bed.

What Avery Like
- the lift-the-flaps
- the monkey
- the bright, colorful pictures
- playing peek-a-boo (one of her favorite games)

What mom likes
- Repetitive text (good for children because it allow them to grasp the content of the story more easily, makes it easier for children to guess what comes next, and makes it easier for children to recall the story and join in the reading of it or even pretend read on their own)
- Position vocabulary words, they are even in italics to draw attention to them (the book utilizes position words like behind, underneath, in, and beside, which can be tricky vocabulary words for kids to learn and more exposure to these words in context will help them to learn the words' meanings)
- Pictures that give a hint as to what is hiding and thus allows kids to guess what is coming (this helps to develop children's early prediction skills by teaching them to look for and use context clues)

***  Check out Organic-Mama's giveaway for a pair of  adorable baby booties!  ***

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Who Is This Child?

Pin It Now! It all started Friday night.  Avery did not want to go to bed.  She fussed during her feeding and when we put her in her crib she did not want to go to sleep.  Luckily, she didn't cry or anything, just kind of laid in her crib, talked to herself, and played with her seahorse and lamb.  It took her almost a half an hour to fall asleep.  Very unusual for her, she's usually asleep within 10 minutes or so.  However, that night she slept great and didn't wake up the next morning until about 7:10 (yep, that's right she dropped her night time feed almost 2 weeks ago, I didn't say anything cause I didn't want to jinx it).  The next day the same thing happened at her naps.  She's not always the best napper and it sometimes takes her longer to fall asleep for naps then bedtime, but it was worse then usual.  One nap it took her an hour to fall asleep!  But once again, no crying or fussing, just laying there, playing and talking.  I didn't worry too much about it, especially since she was still in a great mood when she was awake.  Things continued like this all weekend, having trouble falling asleep but sleeping well when she finally did.

Then Monday rolled around.  Naps continued as they had all weekend but then suddenly she got grouchy. Very grouchy!  Nothing I could do made her happy, she whined and cried all. the. time!  Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration but she whined and cried a lot.  She could go from being a happy baby to being a miserable one in the blink of an eye.  If I told her not to do something or took something away, you'd think it was the end of the world the way she cried.  And going out in public was the worst!  She usually loves going out and running errand with me.  Everyone always comments on what a happy baby she is.  Well, not this week.

And to make it worse, she has started waking up during the night again.  Ugh!  Monday night she woke up once about 4 am, not too bad but I was so enjoying being able to sleep all night.  Then Tuesday she woke up 3 times; 1 am, 3 am, and 6 am.  Made for a long night!  Last night Eric was such a sweetheart and slept out on the couch with the monitor so I could get some sleep (God I love that man!).  It was so nice!  However, she woke up 2 times last night, 1 am and 5 am.  I really hope this doesn't last too long!

I'm not sure what is going on with her.  Maybe teething, a growth spurt, close to walking, or there could be no reason at all, just typical baby crankiness.  Needless to say I am exhausted from it all.  Let's just say I have eaten a lot of chocolate!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Focus on Literacy: Phonemic Awarness

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Sorry, this post took me so much longer to write than I had planned.  Phonemic Awareness is such a broad topic, it's hard to narrow it down into a concise post yet also have it be helpful.  Hope you get something out of it!  : )

In case you missed the first one, check out Focus on Literacy: An Overview.

Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate phonemes or sounds.  In phonemic awareness activities there is no discussion of letter names or written words, it is all oral.  It is one of the most important of the Big Five for young children (not that the others aren't important but it is more developmentally appropriate for younger children and is the building block for many of the Big Five), and it is one of the easiest to work on with young children.  Furthermore, it is an early predictor of later reading success and research has shown that weaknesses in phonemic awareness can lead to problems with reading development.  There is a wide range of skills that encompass phonemic awareness, some being easier than others.  

- Phoneme/sound isolation- the ability to isolate individual phonemes/sounds in a word
For example, knowing that /d/ (the little lines on either side of the letter represent the sound the letter makes) is the first sound in dog or /t/ is the last sound in cat (beginning sounds are much easier than ending sounds to identify and the middle vowel sound is the hardest).

- Phoneme/sound identity- the ability to identify sounds that words have in common
For example, knowing that dog and dad both have a /d/.

- Phoneme/sound substitution- the ability to substitute a sound in a word for a new sound
For example, being able to change the /f/ in fall for /t/ to make tall.

- Segmenting- the ability to break a word down into it's individual phonemes/sounds
For example, being able to break the word cat down into /c/, /a/, /t/

- Blending- the ability to take individual sounds and blend them to make a word (it's the opposite of segmenting)
For example, being able to take the sounds /c/, /a/, /t/ and know that they make the word cat

- Phoneme/sound deletion- the ability to take a sound away from a word and know what it left
For example, being asked to take the /c/ out of cat and having at left

- Onset- Rime manipulation- the ability to isolate, identify, substitute, segment, blend, and delete onsets (the beginning consonant or consonants in a word, like the /b/ in bat or /br/ in braid) and rime (also called the word family, like /aid/ in braid or /og/ in dog)

- Phonemic Awareness also includes rhymingsyllabification (breaking words into syllables or putting syllables together to make words), and assonance (also called vowel rhyme, when successive words have the same vowel sound, like "I made my way to the lake")

Most of the phonemic awareness activities that I do with Avery right now involve talking to her, reading to her, singing, and modeling.  Two phonemic awareness skills that I focus on a lot right now are rhyming and alliteration (words that begin with the same sound).

One of the easiest ways to work on both rhyme and alliteration is through the use of books (yes, this is still phonemic awareness even though you are using written text because the focus is on the sounds not on the written words, the book is simply the tool to help you come up with the rhyme or alliteration).  

As we read I'm sure to tell Avery the words that have the same sound and what sound that is.  Like "Oh Avery, cat and car both start with a /c/.  Can you hear the /c/ in cat and car?  /c/ cat.../c/ car.  They start the same!  What else starts with /c/?"  I do the same thing with rhyming words.  "Stop and hop rhyme, Avery.  Listen, stop...hop.  What else rhymes with stop and hop? about pop, cop, top, drop, mop, shop, flop.  They all rhyme."  

Rhyming books we like:
Nursery Rhymes are of course great (such as Mother Goose by Long- that's the one we have)
Baby Beluga by Raffi
Down By the Bay by Raffi
Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bone
Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton
Hugs and Kisses by Roberta Grobel Intrater
Fluffy Chick and Friends (no author given)
Fuzzy Bee and Friends (no author given)
Night-Night, Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
The Noisy Egg by Judith Nicholls
Good Morning, Good Night by Melanie Mitchell
Ten Chirpy Chicks by Debbie Tarbett

Alliteration books we like (these are a lot harder to find then rhyming books but ABC books are usually pretty good): 
Click, Clack ABC by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin 
My First ABC Book (no author given)
Chicken Little by Steven Kellogg
ABC book by Dr. Suess
A My Name Is Alice by Bayer
Six Sleepy Sheep by Jeffie Ross Gordon
Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
Alligators All Around: An Alphabet by Maurice Sendak
Sheep on a Ship by Nancy Shaw
How Do I Love You? by Marion Dane Bauer

Most, but not all, of the books I have mentioned are board books and geared towards children around Avery's age, if you are interested in books for older children, look here for rhyming books and here for alliteration books.

Another great way to work on rhyme is by singing songs.  This one is easy too, you can do it anywhere and kids love it. Even as young as Avery is, she'll start dancing when we start singing to her.  Here are some of our favorite rhyming songs: 
"The Animal Fair"
"Five Little Ducks"
"I've Been Working on the Railroad"
"Down By the Bay"
"Baby Beluga"
"Five Green and Speckled Frogs"
"I'm a Little Teapot"
"Hush Little, Baby"
"Baa, Baa, Black Sheep"
"Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"
"The Name Game"

The list could go on and on, there are so many great children's songs with rhymes.  I'm sure you have some of your own favorites!

I often do phonemic awareness work when we play with her alphabet blocks, great for alliteration

Other than songs and books, most of the phonemic awareness work that I do with Avery is simply playing with words.  I will take random words that I see, hear, or think of and use them to isolate sounds, identify sounds, substitute sounds, segment words, blend words, delete sounds, or manipulate the onset/rime.  I also do a lot of clapping syllables.  When Avery gets older, my goal is for her to join me in these word games.  

Looking for phonemic awareness activities to do with older kids, take a look at this link.  Many of these are games and activities that I did in my classroom.  I love the block activity, I used that one a lot in reading groups.  

One thing to be aware of when working with phonemic awareness is that you want to be sure you are pronouncing the sounds correctly.  It is quite common for people to put a /u/ on the end of consonant sounds.  For example saying /zuh/ instead of /zzzz/ or /fuh/ instead of /ffff/.  You want to be sure that you are isolating the consonant.  

If you have any specific questions, just let me know and I will do my best to answer them!

I'll start working on the Focus on Literacy: Phonics post soon.  Keep a look out for it!

Phonemic Awareness - From WETA (DC) Public Television's Reading Rockets
Phonemic Awareness- Wikipedia

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wonderful Weekend

Pin It Now! The last few weekends Eric has either been on call or we have had family visiting.  Weekends where Eric is on call we are really limited on what we can do.  He's not a doctor but works on computers in a hospital, so he has to be ready to go in if needed or at least have a computer with him so he can log into the network and try to fix things remotely.  If we want to go anywhere we have to to take 2 cars, pack up his computer and all his equipment, and run the risk of him having to leave.  We usually end up just having a nice quiet weekend at home, which is nice but I also love getting out and about and doing things as a family.  I also love having family visit.  It's great having loved ones near but it also takes a lot of work and energy to be the hostess.

Well, this weekend Eric was not on call and we didn't have any house guests.  It was great!  We were able to do whatever we wanted!  Saturday we decided to head to the park between naps.  The weather was gorgeous and we want to take advantage of it all we can before it turns cold.  Avery loves the sandbox and going down the slide in our laps.  Since she's still not walking she's a little limited in what she can do but still has fun.  We also took a stroll around the pond in the park and looked at the fish and geese.

At the park, Avery discovered she loves pinecones (you can see her holding one in the bottom picture).  She was great with it too!  I figured she would try to put it in her mouth but nope she just wanted to look at it and feel it.  So cute!

That night, Eric's parents watched Avery and we were able to have a date night!  YAY!!  It had been way to long since we were able to spend some time by ourselves.  We went to one of our favorite restaurants and had an incredible, leisurely meal.  It was so nice!

Sunday we were suppose to have Avery's one year pictures taken.  However, there was a miscommunication with the photographer and we weren't able to do it.  The worst part was that we got up early that morning, got all of us cleaned up, fed, and dressed only to wait around for 30 minutes and not have her show.  She apologized profusely but it's not easy to get all of that done before 7 in the morning.  Now we are going to have to do it again next weekend.  Ugh!

Sunday was another perfect day weather wise so we played out in the yard for a while, took a walk with some neighbor friends and their kids, and then grilled that evening.  Nothing too exciting but it was nice to just relax and not worry about Eric getting called into work.

I hope you all had a great weekend, too!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Official First Word!!

Pin It Now! For awhile now Avery has been saying "mama" and "dada", then not too long ago she started saying "nana" and "papa" (all with meaning, saying them when someone walks into a room or when she wants someone).  She's even said "hi" a couple of times.  But I have been waiting for that true first word, a word with more than one consonant sound.  Well, Monday she started saying "dog".  I wasn't sure at first, she said it during the day so I was the only one home to hear it.  But I swore I heard her say "dog" (sounds like "dag", but definitely has the /g/ at the end) and point when she saw the dogs after nap.  That evening when Eric was home she said it again and he thought it was dog also.  But what finally sealed the deal was when my parents were over on Wednesday night and my dad let the dogs in from outside, as they ran past, Avery pointed and said "dog".  My dad looked at me and asked, "Did she just say dog?"  Then when mom got there she did it again and mom asked the same thing.

So it's official, we have a first word and what a good one it is!  We are such dog people that her saying dog for her first word is perfect!  Before I know it she'll be talking me ear off!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hugs and Kisses

Pin It Now! This week Avery has suddenly gotten so interested in giving hugs and kisses, and I am loving it!!  Randomly, she'll drop what she's doing, crawl over, and give a nice big hug and kiss.  It's so incredibly sweet and totally melts my heart!  I love this girl!
But it's not just us she loves to give hugs and kisses to, it's her stuffed animals, dolls, herself in mirrors, books (she loves giving kisses to the bear in Animal Kisses),  and pictures.  It's too cute!

On the walking front, we have had a couple more steps.  They only comes in 1s and 2s usually but that's fine by me, I'm in no rush to have a walker!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Focus on Literacy: An Overview

Pin It Now! I love reading!  When I was teaching, literacy was one of my passions and a huge focus in my room.  I have taken several master's classes on different literacy components and would love to one day have my master's in literacy. I have done tons of research and incorporated lot of the things I learned into my classroom.  I now use that knowledge in order to help develop Avery's pre-reading skills.

A little background information, current research has shown that effective literacy programs must contain 5 critical components that are referred to as The Big 5.  I thought this chart did a good job of explaining them:

What it is

How it’s taught
Phonemic Awareness
The ability to notice, think about, and work with the individual sounds in spoken words
·  Focus on sound
·  Identify & blend:
o   Onsets (initial consonant or consonant clusters)
o   Rimes (vowel and consonants that follow the onset)
·  Segment, blend and manipulate sounds
Phonics and word study (decoding strategies) involve the systematic instruction of letter-sound relations to read and spell words accurately and quickly.
· Practice knowledge of letter-sound correspondences
· Decode and read words
· Manipulate, categorize, and examine the similarities and differences in words
How children acquire an understanding of new words and concepts
· Provide key experiences
· Promote wide reading
· Lead discussions through questioning
Reading quickly, accurately, and with expression
· Practice reading words automatically (accurately and quickly with little attention or effort)
· Increase speed (or rate) of reading while maintaining accuracy
· Practice reading with expression

The process that enables readers to make meaning of text, and to communicate meaning about what was read
· Read text aloud
· Communicate to others about what they read
· Promote thinking and extended discourse through questioning and discussions

Although it is not included in The Big 5, print awareness (learning how to use a book, understanding that spoken words can be written, knowing that we read left to right) is another important early literacy skill.  

Although Avery is only 1 year old, it is never too young to begin working on The Big Five.  A lot of it at this age is just talking to her and modeling things but it still makes a big difference.  I don't want to make this post too long and it would if I went into too much depth on each one, so instead I am going to spend the next few weeks going over each one in more detailed posts.  If you have any specific questions let me know and I will try to address them.  Happy reading!!