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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Strong Like Mom

I come from a line of strong women; all in their own way.  I have a great-grandmother who was a nurse, a Gran who was a teacher, and raised 3 boys, a Grandma who raised a family on a farm, an "adopted" Grandma (Mary), who lost her mother and oldest sister to war, raised her siblings, was a career woman, and had to hide under a set of stairs during the Hungarian 1956 revolution.
And then there is my mom, who has had every reason - loss, death, cancer, illnesses - to let bitterness set in, and yet is full of life and joy.
Strong like mom.

A few months ago, Target caused a buzz, because their exclusive line Cat and Jack introduced this T-shirt that had "Strong Like Mom" written on it.  The initial shirt was for boys, then they also came out with one for girls.  The reason this is such a big deal, is because moms aren't usually portrayed as strong, especially not in reference to their sons.  I love the trend of portraying women in more strong roles (cue Wonder Woman)!

As soon as I saw this shirt, I knew I wanted one for Aidan.

If he's wearing this shirt, whenever I ask him what it says, he shouts "Strong Like Mom!"  (He has even been known to say, "Strong like mom, pee like dad!", LOL!!)

At first I wondered if it was maybe a little vain of me to get him the shirt in the first place.  Or if I really am strong.

I have fears and anxieties.  Am I really strong?

Remember my mom, the strongest woman I know?  She can't swim.  Scared of swimming pools, actually.  But do you know what?  When we were kids, she would get in the pool with us, and although we all knew it wasn't her favorite thing, none of us knew the extent of that fear until years later.

Being a mom makes you strong.  You have a reason to be strong.  Someone to be strong for.

So, yesterday, when I had to fly alone with Aidan, then drive home - as it turns out in the rain - basically everything that unnerves me, I had Aidan wear his "Strong Like Mom" shirt.  Mostly as a reminder to myself.

Being strong doesn't mean you don't have fears.  It means that you are willing to overcome them.  I'm going to go one step further.  I think it is important for our kids to know that there are things we fear, or are uncomfortable with, BUT that we are willing to face them.

During one of our airport potty breaks, my sweet, squirmy boy looked at me and said, "mommy, you're my hero", without any prompting.  I could soar!!!  I never ever want to forget that moment.  He will probably never know how much his little 3-year-old self encouraged me.

So yesterday, I felt STRONG!  I felt like I could conquer anything, and I did!  We had a wonderful trip, and I drove in the rain like a boss.

My favorite verse last year was Joshua 1:9, and Aidan knows it by heart: "Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you, wherever you go."

I am strong, and it's not vain to say it.  I am strong because God makes me strong, and because my son needs me to be.  I am strong.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Preschool Number Practice

Aidan has been doing wonderfully with his letters, but not very sure about his numbers.  So, before we move on, we wanted to review them!  We focused a number a day, and with the exception of the game, we did the same activities.  Not to create monotony  but rather give Aidan the confidence that he knew how to "master" each task.  So, here's each day:

Day 1

1. Game
 I found this egg matching game, which was perfect for Spring!  We counted the dots, put them in order, talked about the numbers, and matched them!
Obviously, this was a fun game, and he liked it!

2. Play-Doh
 I found some play-doh mats (I can't find the originals, but if you just google that, you'll find plenty).  I wish I had a laminator, it would make them reusable. This is a great pre-writing exercise.  Take little pinches of play-doh, and place them within the lines of the number.  
Then fill in the number grid!

3. Q-tip Painting
I found some Q-tip painting sheets.  I thought it would be more fun than it apparently was... 

4. Worksheet
I'm not huge on worksheets, but this one was fun, and the truth is, kids do need to learn how to write, and these were very manageable.  Also, ironically this was one of Aidan's favorite activities each day.  I found them here

5. Lunch
Cheese, carrots, strawberries, and a sandwich, all cut into the shape of the number 1.  Yummm!

Day 2

1.  Game
For this game, you'll need 5 green shapes that look like tree crowns, 15 blossoms, and 5 clothespins with the numbers 1-5 written on them.
 We clipped the clothespins to each of the trees, and then counted out that many blossoms.  Again, perfect for Spring!
This activity practices fine motor skills, counting, putting the numbers in order, and number recognition.

2. Play-Doh
 Aidan loves the play-doh part of each day!

3. Q-tip Painting
But not so much the Q-tip painting.  I can't even be upset, look at that face!!!

4. Worksheet
He did so well on this one!!

5. Lunch
I used a dolphin shaped sandwich cutter, clementines, and a slice of mango.  Yum, yum, yum!

Day 3

1. Game
 I took flashcards, and clothespins, and then we put the correct number of clothespins on the card.  Easy peasy, and fun!
We take counting very seriously!

2. Play-Doh
Getting better each day!

3. Q-tip
At least he did it, haha!

4. Worksheet
He does so well at circling the 3-s!

5. Lunch
I used sandwich for the aquarium, carrots for the net, and fruit leather for the three.  I'll let you guess which part he ate first!

Day 4

1. Game
I wish I cotton balls or pompoms, but I didn't.  So, I used fruit snacks.  So, I took cupcake liners, wrote the numbers 1-5 on the bottom, gave Aidan some tongs, and we counted out the fruit snacks to each cups.  It was really funny!

2. Play-Doh
He was doing so well with making little balls!

3. Q-Tip
There's a slight smile... haha!

4. Worksheet
He's been doing so much better with the worksheets than I thought he would!

5. Lunch
For this yummy lunch, I cut a sandwich into 4 little hearts, to make a four-leafed clover.  I used round slice of mango in the center, cucumber for the stem and leaves, and cherry tomato and olives for the ladybug.  Oh! And fruit leather for the number!

Day 5

1. Game
 I found this Five Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed Activity.  I just so happened to have the book!  It was so fun, I read the book, and Aidan would take a monkey off the bed each time, and change the number on the corner.
 He enjoyed it so much more than I though he might!
The concentration in is face, melts my heart!

2. Play-Doh
He's doing such a good job!

3. Q-Tip
He finally did it all by himself!  Wahoo!

4. Worksheet
Circling the numbers is his favorite part!

5. Snack
I used gummy frogs, fruit leather for the tongues, and raisins for the flies and number 5.  As you can imagine, it was a huge success!

And that, my friends, has been our week of numbers!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Love Affair With Books - New Edition

Every once in a while, I like to give you the titles of some kids' books that I love!  If reading children's books was a viable career, I'd be all over that!

So, here are my latest suggestions:

Aidan got this book for his birthday from my best friend.  This book is amazing!  I love this dynamic duo writing illustrating team, that brought you classics, like "Today I Feel Silly".  This book is about a teacher who gives her students an assignment - her great-grandmother came over to America from an unnamed far distant place.  All she could take with her was what she could fit in a small suitcase.  The teacher then produces that small bag, and each student takes turns taking it home, and deciding what they would take with them.  This is a PERFECT book for us right now, because we are going through something similar, and in a few months, Aidan will be having to make some similar decisions.  Thankfully, we're able to take more than one small suitcase, but there will be some tough choices coming up, especially if you're 3 years old.

Louis Slobodkin was a prolific writer in the 50's and 60's.  This was one of my books when I was little, and I love it!  It's about a grandma who babysits her twin grandsons for a week.  One of them loses a mitten, and the whole town ends up finding lost mittens everywhere, and brings them to the boys' house.  Grandma and the boys decide to make a clothesline for all the extra "missing mittens", so that anyone who lost a red mitten can go there and find it.  Then, mom and dad come back from vacation, and brought back everyone a little something, and the boys got...
The link to this book is actually a single volume edition of three of their books, one of them being "A Good Place To Hide", which is another wonderful story!

This is one of those sweet, bedtime, love-affirming books.  The words, although gentle and well-written, aren't the reason this book made the list.  It's the illustrations.  The reason I love the illustrations, is because the "parent" figure is a bear, and the "child" figure is a bunny.  Of course, it's never pointed out or mentioned.  I think this would a wonderful addition for families with adopted children, or even foster children - showing that you don't have to look alike, for the love to be real, unconditional and unwavering.

I am a BIG Patricia Polacco fan!  Her book the Keeping Quilt will always be a Top 3 of mine!  My principal at the school I worked at introduced me to this one, and I love it too!  It's about a little old lady, Babushka, who paints beautiful eggs to sell every year in Moscow.  One day, she sees an injured goose, and takes her in, to nurse her back to health.  They become very close, but one day, the goose (Rechenka) gets startled and accidentally knocks over all of Babushka's painted eggs, and they all break.  Babushka is devastated, as she won't have anything to sell at market.  But the next day, Rechenka starts to lay beautifully painted eggs...

This book gets me emotional every time.  It's about a Little Seed and a Little Fox, who both have to overcome their fears when life changes.  The seed loves living in a cozy seed packet in the Farmer's shed, but one day the Farmer tells him, that he has a plan for him, and plants him in the dirt.  The seed doesn't understand why he's in a dark, messy place, but decides to trust the Farmer.  There's a recurring line in it, that says "The Farmer was good, and the Farmer was kind, and the Farmer was always watching over them.  Even when they didn't know it."  

We had the great pleasure of driving through Nashville last year, and visited the Johnny Cash Museum.  We found this book there!  The author has written poems about Johnny Cash's life, and used Johnny Cash's song titles as the names for each one.  The illustrations are very beautiful!  We're big Johnny Cash fans, so for us this was a great find!  

I added this one for Aidan, haha!  This is a fun flight of imagination for a boy who is bored on a road trip.  This one may appeal to me because of all the itinerating we've been doing, but it really is full of all-boy fun!

So there you have it!  Those are my latest children's book recommendations!  Do you have any you think I should check out for next time?  What's your favorite children's book?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

DIY Toddler Alphabet Book

If you're been following my blog, you know that for the past 26(ish) weeks, we've been making our way through the alphabet.  Each week as one of our crafts, we've been making a craft, revolving around whatever we've been learning about.

As we just wrapped up our last week, I was finally able to put it all together.  I punched two holes in the side, put them in order, made a cover, laced some ribbon through it, and tied it all up!  Here are the pictures of each page, to give you ideas for your own book!

And there you have it!  If you decide to make something similar, I would LOVE to see pictures of it1