27 May 2011

Helpful Tips.. Ideas for this Summer

Happy Birthday, my Marky, even covered in dirt you are a cutie patootie, darling boy.  What would we ever do without you!?  Can't wait to spend our day at the Turtle Back Zoo this Friday with Auntie Christy and Lizzy Lou, celebrating you (it's Wednesday evening as I type).

This past weekend my handy man (Green thumb, lord willing) decided to pull out 4 over grown bushes and plant a full fledged garden (we gave each herb/fruit/vegetable to my mom so she could grow them with us and then if our garden flopped we would have a go-to person! My mom is an amazing gardener, I'm secretly jealous).  My hubby decided to do this garden while Julia and I had a girl day at the Mall (she kept squealing, "Not Daddy, Not Marky, JUST GIRLS!") and even though she didn't last through the whole movie (an hour and a half for Julia in front of a screen just isn't happening yet, she is a bean! a jumping bean, but we DID have fun) we still got to have girl/alone time and just walking around hand in hand with your daughter is wonderful.

When I got back the garden was pretty much complete, and both boys were perfectly dirty and both needed a bath/shower!  But Mark is so proud of this garden, he has truly claimed it!  At the library we took out a book called Uno's Garden by Graeme Base...the pictures are AMAZING!  To be helpful there is a link to amazon, click on the title.

Another book I really liked and picked up is How a Seed Grows by Helene J. Jordan.  This is a Let's read and find out science book, and the pictures are so bright and happy and the children are multiracial...meaning not all the kids have blue eyes and blond hair, there's nothing wrong with blue eyes and blond hair, but I love books that showcase kids of all different cultures, colors, and shades!  To be helpful I enclosed an amazon link so you can see the book and purchase it if you'd like.  Click on the title.

Who would have thought that just planting an herb/vegetable garden would be so exciting for kids?  My kids remind us every day to water the plants and they are always checking on it to see what is growing. (We are growing red leaf lettuce, and romaine lettuce, cantaloupe, honeydew, zucchini, basil, sage, parsley, tomatoes, and green peppers.)  John really wants to plant an apple tree too so we can stop having to make two trips to the farmers market each week (we go through a bag of apples each week!)

More Circle Time Additions & Ideas

I am so excited that so many of you are doing circle time in your homes with your toddlers!  Isn't it super fun?  And the kids never want it to end!  I always have to have an art project, a craft, snack time, or an outing to entice them to move away from Circle Time.  For those of you who'd like to know what I do during Circle time with Julia (3 1/2) and Mark (2) click here.

One of you even shared with me at MOPs that you are teaching your 20 month old Bible verses!  That is so encouraging to me!  Isn't it neat to see what other moms are doing and draw ideas from each other?  I love it!  Here are some more things we've been doing:

The White Board/Chalk Board

Each night (most nights anyway) I write a message on our white board, and after we sing Pretzel Style and What's the weather, we read Mommy's message together.  Julia and Mark can site read their names of course, but now we are working on days of the week and the month.  I choose certain letters to underline and sound out...this week was the TH sound. 

And I always get to sneak in lots of "I love you" messages.  This is something I would do each morning for my third/fourth graders to get them settled in the morning with an assignment of course, but I always liked to add in a few encouraging words or things to look forward to throughout the day.  Sometimes I tell my kids (Julia and Mark) Today we are going to the park! Or Today is Library at 11:00.

Then we review our Bible verses, our letters and sounds, our numbers and counting, and our presidents! (Tune in on Memorial Day for some really cool patriotic ideas/books for your kids!!!)  Julia and Mark know all about George Washington, John Adams and Barrack Obama now!  In the car today Julia was singing a song about "George Washington (at first she called him George Washingmachine) and Barrack Obama" I guess the names are catchy!  I'm just glad I don't need to give my opinions about the Presidents because some of them would NOT be very positive.  I just give her the facts and tell her how important it is to pray for the leaders of our country that they make wise decisions, and that God will protect our country when they don't make such wise decisions.  Enough said.

Back Packs

A few weeks ago I saw these darling back packs at the store.  They are called Zoo Packs, finally I broke down and bought an Owl for my girl and Mark picked out a doggy for his birthday.

Here are some great reasons why back packs are great:

*Keeps your kid organized
*You can teach them responsiblity
*You can keep a spare outfit in there
*A favorite book/toy can go in there
*A covered snack (snack with a lid or in a zip lock)
*When traveling to park/library/car ride, etc bringing the back pack helps your kid remember what they'd like to bring (and mommy can ditch the diaper bag...this has to happen around 2 years old though or after potty training....although Mark couldn't help but want one since JuJu got one for gymnastics).

This week we had a lesson during Circle Time about our back packs (Circle Time is a great time to introduce rules or new concepts because the setting is light and fun and the children are sitting and looking at mommy's every move)  They were told that the back packs are their special bags, to be kept clean and neat, and we take good care of our zoo pet.  We make sure we zip it all the way up (demonstrate zipping, take turns, etc.) Then we named our back pack.  Julia names everything Amanda lately.  And Mark didn't know what to name it, but Doggy was just fine.

Now whenever we go on a trip (Friday we are going to the Turtle back zoo for Marky's birthday) back packs will be ready at the door, or in the car waiting, and during the trip each child will have all that they need (and they can hang easily on a stroller).

 Dollar Store Finds

Repeat after me, "The dollar store is my best friend!"  And it is!  I go at least once a month just to see what I can snatch up to spice up school time at home.  A few weeks ago I found these etch o sketches!  They fit in each kids lap and they are awesome!  The kids love to use them, they draw pictures, scribble scrabble, practice writing their names (mommy did the ones for the picture) and it works great in the car because there is no mess!  No marker or crayons to worry about!  Also great to use during circle time when introducing a new sound or letter or number.  Julia and I use her board during our reading lessons too, or a small white board is great too, but then you get messy marker fingers.

Hope these ideas helped!  Let me know what you got from this post today, or what you will try at home with your kids or family!  I love hearing from you!

Have a great weekend! We are off to the zoo!  This is our Marky-birthday tradition and yesterday when I told the kids my plans for today they squealed with delight, it's so cool when they really get where they are going and are so excited to go!  Pray for me as I take two walking toddlers this year!  I'm sure it will be great!

Another birthday tradition is the night before each child's birthday we each pray a blessing over that child.  And tonight when I prayed for Marky I prayed he would be the man of God described in Psalm 1: 1-3...firmly planted in the ground with strong roots and lots of fruit.  I pray that Mark will grow up to be the man of God that He has planned for Him.  Daddy prayed he would be as wise as Solomon and as humble as Paul.  Julia told him how much she loved him!  Pray a special blessing over your child tonight and cover them with kisses and hugs!

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