Thursday, April 21, 2011

Catch Up

Pin It Now! So once again I have been MIA for a while, not as long as last time but still not good!  Things have been busy here but going well.  We have taken a break from Tot School for the time being but want to get back to it soon.

Last week we had beautiful wether so we spent a lot of time outside; going on walks, playing in the yard, and going to the park.  Our favorite outdoor activities were blowing and popping bubbles, drawing with sidewalk chalk, and playing in the water table. 

We also had a couple playdates and went to our monthly Gourmet Gals luncheon.  This month's theme was "green" foods and could be either organic or locally grown products.  I decided to make organic hummus.  It's a really simple recipe but is always a big hit where ever I take it.  I don't really have too many measurements for it but here is the recipe incase you are interested:

1 can chickpeas 
Extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic

Put the can of chickpeas and garlic in a food processor with a bit of olive oil.  Begin to mix it and continue to add olive oil until desired consistency (it always seems like a lot of olive oil).  Add cumin, salt, and pepper to taste.

A lot of times I'll also add kalamata olives to it and that's really yummy, too.

Sunday we headed downtown to the Earth Day celebration but didn't stay too long.  Our city's Earth Day has turned pretty commercial, which is so disappointing, and the kid's activities are a bit old for Avery.  So instead we went to a park and played for a while.  

This week has been even busier than last week.  A good friend and neighbor went into labor on Tuesday morning, so another friend and I have been taking turns letting their dog out.  Plus I made her a basket full of snacks and things to help out when they get home.  Next week, once they are home and Easter is over, we are going to start making meals for them.  

Then on Tuesday night I get a call from one of my friends in my mom group.  She was suppose to host an Easter Egg decorating Party today but her son wasn't feeling well, so she asked me if I would be able to host it.  It sounded like too much fun to cancel so I agreed.  Which means I've spent the last day and a half cleaning, shopping, decorating, and getting organized for having 7 families over for a morning of chaos (so 7 moms and 10 kids- 2 of them too young to join in).  It ended up being a lot of fun and I'm glad I did it but I'm glad it's over now.  

We've also been spending our weekends getting ready for the new baby.  Since we did Avery's room in a gender neutral theme (which doesn't really matter now since we are having another girl), the new baby will get Avery's nursery and Avery will get a new big girl room.  However, in order to do that we have to move the office down to the basement.  We have a storage area that is partially finished (walls are done but not the floor), so we are going to move the office down there.  It's a huge area so half of it will stay storage and the other half will be office.  We are dividing it in the middle with bookshelves on the office side and storage shelves on the storage side.  But in order to do all of this we have had to get rid of a lot of stuff and do a major reorganizing.  We are now at the point where we can start moving the office down and then we can start on Avery's new room, which I am so excited about!!!  We are doing it in a fairy theme.  The inspiration for the room comes from these two pieces.


My parents are getting her the height chart for Easter and we are getting her the picture. Now I just have to decide on the color of the walls.  Not a big pink person so I'm leaning towards purple or green.  But still haven't decided.  The picture should get here tomorrow and maybe seeing it in person will help me decide.  

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Guest Post- Tips For Teaching Beginning Reading

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Guest post by Amy from Oh So Savvy Mom

Oh So Savvy Mom

Beginning to teach your child to read before they enter kindergarten (or before they are kindergarten age if you homeschool) can be fun and rewarding for both parent and child.  Most children begin showing signs of varying levels of reading readiness at about 3 1/2.  Some children are ready to read earlier, and some children are ready later.  During the time I taught preschool I found that about 80% children in my 4 year old classes were ready, after we gave them the tools, to begin reading at the beginning of the year.  The same 80% were reading at a beginning to mid-first grade level or higher by the end of the year.  If your child is not ready to read don't worry, in the long run whether your child learned to read months earlier or later than his peers is rarely going to have an impact on their overall education.

So where do you start?  We've all heard that reading readiness starts in infancy so let's just fast forward to the toddler and preschool years.

Age 1-2
  • Begin singing the alphabet song!  If you know an alphabet song that goes through both letters and sounds all the better.  If you don't know one, try googling, and see if you can find one that you like.  Or you can try this site:
  • Sing the alphabet song at breakfast or lunch when the child is in his or her high chair and not otherwise occupied.  For even more cognitive stimulation you can throw in some flash cards (not for the child to eat, mind you, but to show as you sing ;). Choose flash cards with pictures as this will help later with beginning letter sound recognition.
  • (For the 2 year olds) Get magnetic letters for the fridge.  These are so inexpensive and are such a great teaching tool.  Choose 3-5 letters to have on the fridge (at the child's level).  Play with them for a couple minutes each day and talk about the sounds they say and words that begin with that sound.

Ages 3-4
  • If you have already been singing the alphabet song with letter sounds for a while you'll be surprised at your child's ability to volunteer the beginning sounds of words they come across during the day.  For example, my little guy used to love telling me things like, (while playing with his animal figures) "T-T-Tiger, Hey, Mom, did you know tiger starts with t-t-tiger?" Me, "Wow, you know that tiger starts with t-t! Do you know what letter makes the t-t sound?" Him, "T!!!"
  • When your child is ready to have individual letters introduced begin with LOWERCASE.  In order to begin reading children need to know the lowercase letters.
  • It isn't necessary to teach the letters in order.  Some of the easiest letters for children to remember and make the sounds for are: m, p, a, s, t, b
  • Avoid introducing similar letters like p, b, and d together.  Remember that a lot of children have difficulty with these letters.  If your child does have trouble with these letters don't hesitate to help.
  •  Don't feel like you need to teach the entire alphabet before your child can begin reading.  You can make quite a few words out of the letters: m, a, p, s, t, b, g, h (these are some of the easily recognizable letters).  Lets look at some of the words you can make: has, bag, hat, pam, sat, sam, a, pat, bat.  You can make little storybooks with simple words. 
  • Use only short vowels first until your child has mastered reading simple words with short vowels.
  • Avoid beginning reading books that mix sight words with simple phonetic words. (Two exceptions to this rule are "the" and "have") Sight words are great, but they are a little too cognitively advanced for 3 and 4 year olds.
  • Teach children to sound out words like there is a motor in their mouth (aren't most kids motor mouths anyway!). Put your finger under the letter and make the letter sound with the child.  Keep making that sound until your finger gets to the next letter and you begin making the next sound.  Sounding out words with this kind of fluidity helps children to hear the complete word.
  • Keep it upbeat, praising your child's successes (effort is great success!).  Keep reading sessions very short...unless your child is begging for more!
And remember, the most important thing is to have FUN!

Amy is a stay-at-home mom to two darling boys, age 3 and 1.  Her husband is finishing up his 4th of five years of a PhD program in Clinical Psychology and getting ready to start his year-long residency in San Antonio.  She loves finding deals, living frugally, cloth diapering, finding new and great products, and hosting giveaways.  Her blog is about her adventures in mommy-hood and to get the word out about products she's recently discovered.  Make sure you stop by and visit her at Oh So Savvy Mom!

      Sunday, April 10, 2011

      Tot School- 18.5 months

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      Avery is 18.5 months old
      Tot School

      Well, spring is finally here, rainy weather and all.  But I will take rain over snow any day (or at least right now, so done with snow and cold weather).  We had our fair share of sun and we got outside to enjoy it when we could.  

      We started off the week with our new sensory tub, which is spring/Easter themed.  To learn more about it, check out this post.  Avery absolutely loves it, we have played with it numerous times this week.  

      We used our dot markers again this week.  First we did our blue dot picture to go along with the pink one we did last week.  Two pages of our color book down, now I just have to start putting it together.  

      When we were done with the blue picture, Avery did not want to stop so we decided to do a bubble gum machine picture.  As you can tell, we just used blue and pink since those are the two colors we have been working on.  When she wanted to switch colors I had her tell me what color she wanted.  She definitely has blue down but sometimes still struggles with pink.  If you are interested in Do-A-Dot activity sheets, I did this post where I share links to the ones that I have found online.  

      Avery wanted to get in her Learning Tower so we did a little scooping work using rice.  It was nothing fancy and impromptu but she loved it.  She also practiced picking up the rice by pinching it and pouring it from one bowl to the other.  

      I made a ramp out of old boxes, paper towel rolls, and toilet paper rolls and gave Avery a basket of balls, cars, and cylinders.  She had so much fun rolling things down the ramp and through the tubes.  This has hands down been her favorite activity of the week, the first day we got it out, she played with it for over 45 minutes straight.  We left it out in the living room and she is constantly playing with it!

      We also played outside, it was a beautiful, sunny day.  She loves the slide and sandbox!

      Our city's parks and rec puts on an event each year called Tons of Trucks.  They bring together every kind of truck imaginable and the kids get to go around and sit in them.  It's a huge event and lots of fun!  We didn't go last year but decided to give it a try this year.  Avery was so excited to see all the trucks.  She kept saying "tru" and "beep, beep" as we walked around.  She loved seeing them but she wasn't so sure about sitting in them.  She asked me "tru sit?" so I asked "you want to sit in the truck?" and she answered "please."  But this is what happened when I tried to put her in a truck.

      Poor thing, she was not a fan of it!  We tried 2 different trucks but got the same reaction both times so we decided to move to the smaller trucks and she did a little better.  She was still slow to warm up to them and I had to be right there but at least she would sit in them.

      She sat in a couple other small ones but I didn't manage to get any good pictures.  

      We did a fine motor work this week using a plastic basket and small clothespins (the kind that don't open and close).  She really liked this work.  It was challenging and she had to concentrate really hard but was very proud of herself when she got them on.  

      We checked out a fruit cutting toy from the L and L Library that Avery loved.  Once again, she wanted to stand in her Learning Tower at the kitchen island.  This kept her busy for quite a while.  Later in the evening when I was cooking dinner, she asked to "cu tow?" (cut in her tower), which was great because it kept her busy while I cooked.  Man I am loving this Learning Tower, we use is almost daily!

      The local university's vet school had it's annual open house so we headed over there on Saturday.  We watched a Purina Dog Show where the dogs did amazing tricks.  Avery loves dog and kept saying "dog, woof, woof"  the whole time.  We also got to see and pet tons of animals; sheep, pigs, cows, goats, mules, horses, llamas, and more.  Avery tended to like the smaller animals better.

      On Saturday afternoon we went with my mom group to take a tour of a fire house.  It was really fun and it was great that the dads got to go with us.  The kids were all a little scared when one of the firefighters got dressed in all his gear.  Avery's favorite part was checking out the hoses.  She thought they were pretty cool!

      My Favorite Photo of the Week
      This was right when Avery started playing with the new sensory tub.  She was a little excited and surprised!

      Head over to 1+1+1=1 to see what everyone else did for tot school this week!

      This week I'm also linking up to...

      Thursday, April 7, 2011

      It's a....

      Pin It Now! We had our big doctor's appointment yesterday!  Up until the past week it hadn't really bothered me not knowing the sex of the baby, but the last week it has been driving me nuts, not sure why but it has.  I didn't really care whether it was a boy or a girl.  I saw perks to both.  A boy... it would be great to have one of each.  A girl... it would be great for Avery to have a sister (my sister and I are really close and I know what a special bond it is).  

      So we get into the ultrasound and she starts taking all the measurements, checking out the head area first.  We eventually move down and what do you know, the baby is not cooperating, legs crossed and can't get a perk no matter the direction.   Of course!!  We proceed to take the rest of the measurements and hope that it eventually changes positions so we can get a look.  We finish up and, yes the baby has moved.  But no, we still can't get a clear look.  I have to roll back and forth, still nothing.  I get up and walk around the room.  Nope, no good.  I get up and move again, this time jumping up and down a little and kind of poking my belly.  This time it finally moves and we get a nice clear view...

      Yep, Avery is going to have a baby sister!!!  We are so excited!  Luckily Avery's birthday and this baby's birthday's are pretty close together so hopefully we won't have to buy too many new clothes.  Yay!  Of course that didn't stop my mom from already buying her a brand new outfit.  : )

      The rest of the appointment went great.  All the measurements were perfect and she had a nice strong heart beat of about 155 (I never get tired of getting to hear it).  They said the baby is about 15 ounces right now, so just under a pound.  I can't believe she's already that big!  We have about 19 weeks left and so much to do (thankfully not as much as the first time around though).  Can't wait to finally meet her!

      Tuesday, April 5, 2011

      Spring/Easter Sensory Tub

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      It's a new month so it's time for a new sensory tub.  For this month I decided to go with spring and Easter.  

      The window gel clings are on the outside of the tub (I know I saw this on another blog but I can't remember where it was.  Sorry for not linking to you but if it was you and you let me know, I'd be happy to link it back)

      green, pink, and purple easter grass (Dollar Store)
      stuffed animal bunny (Dollar Store)
      bendy bunnies (Dollar Store)
      Easter cup (Target)
      fake flowers (Hobby Lobby)
      faceted Easter eggs (Target dollar section)
      chick Easter egg (Target dollar section)
      egg shaped spiny balls (Target dollar section)
      jewel flowers and flattened marbles (came in a set from Hobby Lobby)
      erasers (Dollar Store)
      fluffy chicks (Hobby Lobby)
      spring window gel clings (Dollar Store)

      This has been a huge hit in our house, Avery loves it!  I'm thinking it might evolve over the month but I'm not sure yet.  If it does I will let you know what I take away and/or add to it.  It's only my second one so I'm still just figuring it out.  
      Sorting out the flowers and dropping them in the cup
      Opening and closing the egg and putting things inside it
      Checking out the grass
      I put the little balls inside the blue egg, erasers inside the yellow, and some flower jewels and flattened marbles inside the pink.  Avery had the best time shaking them and listening to the different sounds they made.
      Shake, shake, shake!!!

      It took her a while to notice the window gel clings but when she did they became her favorite thing!  She decided to take them all around the house and figure out what else they could stick too.