Saturday, February 23, 2008

Weekly Unplugged Project : Alphabet Letters

This week's project was Alphabet Letters. I was so excited because a couple weeks ago I bought a bag of alphabet pasta at Trader Joes and figured we could do something with that.

I decided to have the kids sort the letters out so I wrote each of the letters out on paper. Both kids "helped" although my 2-year old was not as interested. I tried to come up with a variety of things to talk about and practice related to the project. I geared some toward each boy since they are at different levels.

We talked about:
identifying letters
sounds letters make
matching pairs of letters
ordinal numbers
It was a lot of fun. And of course, we still have the pasta to reuse so we are brainstorming other activities.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Joy Joy Joy !

My kids are outside playing in the backyard! Hooray! We have had such icky weather lately but today is beautiful and it makes me think Spring is on the way.

This is really the first time I have felt comfortable having my little one out there without being right with him. (He's 2.5) Of course, I am just right inside the door and can hear them and partially see them. We have an awfully small yard and it is fenced in so it should be a pretty safe place.

You can probably tell from reading that paragraph what kind of mom I am - did you guess paranoid? If so you are right. It is such a struggle to let them play and "be boys" and balance that with my overactive sense of danger and catastrophe.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How Exciting! I won an award!

Look at my adorable award!
I'd like to thank MomUnlpugged for passing this award on to me. I have had a lot of fun being her friend and our family has benefited from her creative ideas and motivation.
I was excited to see my name on the short list of participants in the first week of the Unplugged Project. I wish we had participated every week but we did miss two of them.
Thanks again!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Valentine's Mania

Aaaaagh! What happened to the on the ball mom who always had her son make the valentines a whole week in advance? Oh I know, she had another child and she can only juggle so many balls.

How did it turn out to be the night before my 5-year olds preschool valentine's party with NO valentines made. It was dinner time and my poor boy did not want to write his name any more times. I must admit I was a bit grumpier than necessary and forced the poor boy to finish.

And it was really my own fault. I should have started sooner and I should have realized that most things are easier said than done. - Our fingerprints didn't look much like hearts for some reason!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chores for Kids

We have been a bit on and of with the chores in our house. I am a huge proponent of unpaid unoptional chores for kids of all ages. I have gone through spells though where it was hard to consistently implement them. Mostly because I am a creature of habit and if I get out of the habit of asking the boys to help me with the dishwasher and just do it myself, I just don't think of it until I have already done it.

One of my goals for this year is to be more consistent with the chores and more clearly define our expectations for the kids. So my 5-year old and I sat down together in January and he helped me list their chores. (Funny thing - he kept trying to add more stuff - I think he just liked working with me on it - but I had to cut him off and suggest we add more later)

5-year old Chores
Cleaning his room daily at rest time
Put his dirty clothes in his basket
Putting away his clean laundry
Picking Up Toys around the house when asked
Unload dishes from dishwasher, placing on counter or in cabinet
Carry plate over to sink when finished eating
Setting the table with brother

2-year old Chores
Put his dirty clothes in his basket
Putting away his clean laundry (that he can reach)
Picking Up Toys around the house when asked
Unload silverware from dishwasher
Setting the table with brother

We are doing really well with this and all are being done consistently except the last 2 and that is because I have not really been consistent. The lists look long to me but they are actually quite small jobs. The only significant one is the room cleaning one and that has caused some conflict. Overall, I am happy with where we are now. Of course I will need to add more things as they get older.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Unplugged Project : More Collage

We had such a great time last time we made collages. In fact they are displayed in the kids rooms and they still enjoy looking at them. So when collages came around again on the Unplugged Project we were happy to make more. We were even all the ball this week - we did these on Tuesday. After my 5 year-old repeatedly asked me if it was time to do the "weekly project" yet I figured we would go ahead and break out the catalogs.

Mostly we used two catalogs - Pottery Barn Kids and Ballard Designs - with a little from a 3.5 year old Sunset magazine thrown in there.
My 2 year old just did whatever he wanted, although I ended up doing a fair bit of the cutting under his direction. I gave my 5-year old some ideas and tried to do something a little more directed with him. So he started looking for the letters of the alphabet. But after a while, he said "I think I'll only do through i" and then he moved on to add some things he thought were more fun. I think he thought his brother was having more fun than him - since he wasn't working near as hard.

These collages are also hanging in their rooms and my two-year old loves to look at and touch his creation.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Unplugged Project : Pipe Cleaners

We had a nice time with pipe cleaners this week for the unplugged project. My husband started by making letters with our 5-year old. He wanted to spell "train" - surprise, surprise - so that it what they did.

There were some remaining pipe cleaners and the next time I turned around, my son had made a hat. Once our 2-year old saw the hat, he wanted one too so I helped him make a hat as well. The hats have especially been a hit. They made them yesterday and have been wearing them off and on today too. In the photos, we have Clifford modeling the lovely hats.

The one on the left is the one I helped my 2-year old with and the elaborate one on the right (which used most our pipe cleaners!) is the creation of my 5-year old.

What I'm Reading

I've managed to find a bit of time lately to participate in one of my favorite activities. My reading had really dropped off but I have enjoyed getting back into it.

Here's what I've been reading. I really liked all of them.

The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

(This is definitely the best book on food allergies I have read. I would highly recommend it to anyone dealing with them!)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

My Television History

Participation in the Unplugged Project has got me thinking a lot about television and the lack of television in our lives. It also prompted me to do a little reading, at sites like Instead of TV. This has been a great encouragement to me, as I don't know anyone (besides my sisters) who impose many if any limits on their children's television viewing. Seeing that there are others who agree with me on television helps to boost my confidence that I am doing the right thing by my kids.

When I was a child, my mother limited our television viewing to 1 hour per day. It is funny to me now that that seemed like such a difficult and harsh restriction when now 1 hour seems more than generous. I have vivid members of how confining that was and how much my sisters and I hated the limits.

When I was in high school, I had an assignment to write a research paper and the topic I chose was the negative effects of television viewing on children. (If I sound like a nerd, that's because I am a nerd.) Anyway, it was pretty clear to me from that research I did that television viweing was not a good thing.

In college and for a year or so after college, I did not have a TV. This was mostly because I was too cheap to buy one and too busy to watch one. But there were several short periods during those years where I had a television (while interning in the summer and on business trips) and I found that I watched tons of TV. That box is totally addicting to me. Once I turn it on, I have such a struggle to ever turn it off, even watching things I barely liked. I would not get the things done that I needed (or wanted) to and I would always stay up way too late and have to drag myself out of bed in the morning.

Now, we have a television but we do not have cable and for some odd reason live in a little bubble that gets no broadcast television reception. So that actually makes it pretty easy. We have some videos and dvds that my children watch, although I limit them to 1 per day. (These are mostly 30 minutes long.) I don't miss watching at all. The only issue I have is how isolated I feel when I get together with others and they are talking about all the latest shows. And this issue bothers me for my children. My kids are still young but I worry about them feeling left out and ignorant at school because they don't know about all the characters and shows.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on watching television....