Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Preschool Options

There are so many options for preschool. I thought I would tell you about some I've tried and have checked into. You may know of others that you prefer. Please share and let me know. I've got a 3 year old that I'm looking to start preschool next fall. You may think-why worry about it now? Some preschools have long waiting lists so it is time to at least start thinking. Preschool can be expensive, but I've found that there is affordable and free options as well.

1. Your local university or college may be a good place to look. We have an amazing preschool. The toys, materials, and playground equipment is just awesome. You have to register for this particular one basically at birth to get in. We had our oldest enrolled here for a year. He loved it. The teachers were great, they did parent teacher conferences and I could tell they loved all those kids. They had a unstructured learning discovery philosophy which I think was really neat but some children don't do as well in this environment. Knowing your child's learning style could be helpful in determining what preschool would be the most beneficial.

2. One year I joined a neighborhood preschool where four or five mothers rotated having the school at our homes. This is a very affordable way and you can really tailor it to what you want the children to learn. We chose to focus on one letter per week. This gave us a focus but also allowed for creativity and for each parent to do what they do best, (i.e. music, arts and crafts, reading). The group put together a preschool kit that traveled from house to house with things like paper, scissors, crayons, paints, music activities, and a calendar to do the date and weather.
3. I just heard of a new preschool option which is for Utah children. It's called Utah UPSTART. It is a free on-line program for any 4 and 5 year olds that are not in kindergarten. You musts commit to spend 15 minutes a day on the program 5 days a week. Pre-registration for next year has begun. (I just signed up today!) Everything is done on-line from what I could tell. Check it out here.
4. There is a free preschool every week at the Family Information and Resources Center in Logan. This is very open to anyone 3-5 years old. A parent must attend with the child. They also have a free lending library which is really fun. For more information on that click here. You may have something like this in your area. It's worth checking into.
5. The last idea is to just do it on your own. Your public library has a wealth of information that can help you tailor a preschool for your child. You can do your own field trips that your child will like. I really like the Ready! Set! School! resource that will help with lesson plans. There is also so much available online. Coloring pages, handwriting worksheets and much more. If you choose this option you may want to have regular play dates where your child gets to interact with children her/his age to get socially ready for school.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Protecing children's innocence

My kids are still very young. One thing I love about children is their innocence and purity. When I first hold my newborn babies I can't help think of where they came from. They are so sweet and pure. I treasure that because unfortunately we don't remain as innocent throughout our life. It seems like the world wants our children to grow up way too fast. Children in grade school are walking around with cell phones, watching adult shows, talking with attitude and vulgarity, and much more. It worries me. I think children need to develop some maturity before being introduced to certain things. I don't want to put blinders on and pretend my children aren't going to be exposed to things. So we definitely need talk about things to help them avoid and recognize evil. But I want my home to be a place they can be protected from the garbage that is out there.
One really simple thing we have consciously done is to be careful about the movies and television show the kids watch. Have you noticed that once a child starts watching more mature shows, they aren't satisfied in watching Sesame Street (our older cousins call them baby shows) anymore. I say let them watch those "baby shows" as long as they will!
Rating can be difficult. I found this online which was really interesting: A PG-rated motion picture should be investigated by parents before they let their younger children attend. The PG rating indicates, in the view of the Rating Board, that parents may consider some material unsuitable for their children, and parents should make that decision.
The more mature themes in some PG-rated motion pictures may call for parental guidance. There may be some profanity and some depictions of violence or brief nudity. But these elements are not deemed so intense as to require that parents be strongly cautioned beyond the suggestion of parental guidance. There is no drug use content in a PG-rated motion picture. I don't think we can just assume that PG's are going to be fine. There is a great website called: This website will rate a movie in the categories of Sex and Nudity, violence and gore, and profanity. This has been so helpful in determining if we want to watch a certain movie.
My husband had a really great idea, he told the kids if a PG movie is made from a book they have to read the book before they watch the movie.
This can be difficult especially if they watch a movie at a friends house. After some learning lessons we learned to tell our kids they have to check with us first before they watch a movie at a friends house if it is PG.
I know how sensitive those little minds are. Those scary, violent, or bad words in a movie can effect them for a long time.
My brother shared with me a time when we was invited over to babysit for a neighbor when he was 12. He turned on a movie they had after the kids went to bed that he can still remember a bad image he saw from that movie.
That made me really think about the things that I have in my house that my babysitters, and kids could get access to when I'm not home and I would have no idea. For that reason we have put a security password to get onto our computer and really are careful about the movies we own on DVD.
I have really struggled with the wording of this. I hope this makes sense and does not offend. If anyone has any ideas of what they have done that has helped with protecting their children please share.
I found this short article that I thought was enlightening.

Music, movies, and magazines have a lot in common with mushrooms. For example, they come in countless varieties. Just as some mushrooms are edible and desirable and nutritious, certain kinds of music, movies, and magazines provide nutrition for the soul as they edify, entertain, and uplift.

And just as there are different kinds of poisonous mushrooms, so are there different kinds of music, movies, and magazines that poison the spirits of men and women. Some of these poisons are very much like jack-o’-lantern mushrooms because their impact is so repulsive and objectionable that we immediately reject them.

But there are other kinds of music, movies, and magazines that work very much like the “destroying angel”; that is, at first we have no idea that what we are listening to or watching or reading is slowly and surely poisoning our very souls.

Often we hear people comment on different entertainments, and we will hear something like, “This tape by the Dirty Gym Sox has ten good songs and only two bad ones.” Or, “It was a great movie (or video), with only two or three bad scenes.” Or, “Most of the articles in this magazine are very interesting and insightful.” But in 1988, only a few toxic mushrooms in a whole dishful put five Oregon people in the hospital on the verge of death Just as mushroom hunters develop safety checklists regarding the color, size, and shape of edible and poisonous mushrooms, our loving and protective Heavenly Father has provided us with several checklists to determine whether the things we view, listen to, and read are poisonous or wholesome.

1. The thirteenth article of faith [A of F 1:13]. Just ask yourself, Is this virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy? If so, “seek after these things.”

2. In Doctrine and Covenants 45:32 the Lord says: “But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved” [D&C 45:32] (emphasis added). With the music you play, the videos and TV programs you watch, and the magazines you have lying around, is your home a holy place? Would you feel comfortable if the bishop or stake president were to walk into your family room while you were listening to music or watching TV or a video? Would they feel comfortable in your home?

3. In his Sermon on the Mount, the Savior admonishes us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matt. 6:33). He did not suggest that we just keep the gospel in the “top ten.” He lovingly encourages us to make the gospel the top priority in our lives.

4. In the very closing verses of the Book of Mormon, Moroni extends the invitation to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness” (Moro. 10:32; emphasis added). The real question is not whether heavy metal is worse than hard rock or whether certain TV programs are worse than certain movies. If we wish to avoid being poisoned spiritually, we must ask: Is this music, movie, TV show, or literature ungodly? For example, does it leave me feeling unworthy to approach my Heavenly Father in sincere prayer?

5. The Apostle Paul gave the Thessalonians some great counsel that would protect them, and us, from the poisons of the world. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thes. 5:21–22

By: Elder Spencer J. Condie of the Second Quorum of the Seventy

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Toy Rotation and storage

Do you have too many toys in the house? Well you may have too many or maybe they just need to be organized so their not out all the time. We have found that if all of the kids toys are always accessible to them, they don't seem to play with them as much. So we decided to organized all of our toys in Rubbermaid containers and label them (see pictures below). Some toys are just hard to store because they are so big. So we just did what we could to have some order.

The thing I love about this, is my kids know they only can have one box of toys down at a time. Before we get another box down the other one has to be cleaned up. Even the friends kids are great about choosing a box and then picking it up. The other thing I love about this is they get so excited about a toy they have forgotten about, and one box can entertain for a long time.

We do have some toys that always stay down. These toys get rotated as well within the other toys. The other thing I also don't like is a lot of toys in the kids room. I love to have them play in their room but I have them take a box a toys and play in their room and then when their done it gets put away. They have a hard enough time keeping their clothes picked up. If they always had a lot of toys stored in their room, I'm not sure I would want that battle. Plus I don't like them playing with toys when they are having quiet time/nap time.
When birthdays and Christmas come and we get more toys, I go through and organize again. If I can't find a place for toy, we have a toy donation day when my kids find some toys they don't play with anymore and we give them to charity or our church nursery. I am always surprised at what toys they pick and that it's not a big deal for them. I just snapped these so you can get an visual idea of what I'm talking about. Do you have a way you keep your toys that you and your kids love? Please share! This is only one idea.
This is the area that always has toys in it. It's down low so the kids can get them at all times. Some of these toys get rotated with others when I think the kids have lost interest in them.
These cupboards are in our laundry room. The buckets fit perfectly on the shelves. We have a box with just baby toys, and one with cars and trucks, we also have a character bucket with a lot of McDonald's toys, dinosaurs, animals, and such.
More buckets with labels, little people farm, play dough, marbles, games, magna cars.

P.S. If you haven't voted on last weeks post, do it now you still have time.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tooth Fairy Poll Results: new poll

How much does your child's tooth fairy bring?
Total votes 13
25 cents or less 1 vote 7%
between 25 and 50 cents 2 votes 15%
Between 50 cents and $1 7 votes 53%
More then $1 1 vote 7%
We don't believe in the tooth fairy 2 votes 15%

I thought this would be a fun survey because it seems like our tooth fairy is visiting quite regularly and I wondered how much other tooth fairy's give. Very interesting. After putting in the results though I can see how the categories are pretty confusing-sorry about that. I'll work being more clear. I wonder what you do with the teeth if you don't believe in the tooth fairy?

The last tooth that our son lost he put his tooth under his pillow and the tooth fairy didn't come. He was so upset. We told him maybe he needed to put it in an envelope so the fairy could find it more easily. Well the second night still the tooth fairy didn't come. So we suggested he label the envelope with "Traedens Tooth" It worked! The tooth fairy found it. (Devin and I had such a busy week and were so exhausted that we had forgotten!) Do you have similar experiences?
side note: We have been reading Fablehaven to the family and their are great stories of Fairy's in there. I think fairy's are pretty cool. If you have older children I would highly recommend this as a family read.
This next poll is inspired by the numerous choices of lessons and activities your children can be involved in. We have only just begun with our children being involved with extra curricular activities for our kids. What activities do you feel is the most important in developing talents and life skills. You can vote for two on this poll. Swimming lessons, music lessons, sports, scouts, dancing, 4-H. What activities do you think will help your children the most in life. Are there some that are better done at home? Time and money constrains us to pick and choose. And when you have two activities in one day what do you choose? I'm still formulating my opinions and would love your input via comments and voting.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Breakfast-Most important meal of the day

So I really am not obsessed with food but it seems like a lot of my posts lately have been about mealtime and eating. Here is one more. A while ago I was tired of thinking so early in the morning.....What should we have for breakfast. The kids unceasingly choose cold cereal. I can only handle so much cold cereal, plus I don't really it's that great nutritionally. I was also tired of complaining from the kids so Devin and I decided to make a breakfast schedule. Now we don't have any morning meal crisis because everyone knows what we are having and yes they will get their sugar cereal every Saturday morning. Here is our breakfast schedule:

Monday: Hot Cereal (oatmeal, cream of wheat, cracked wheat, or rice pudding)
Tuesday: Eggs (we vary from scrambled with toast, ostrich eggs, and fried)
Wed: Cold Cereal
Thursday: Hot Cereal
Friday: Pancakes/waffles/ or french toast
Saturday: Sugar Cereal
Sunday: Family Choice
(With every breakfast everyone gets one glass of juice with their daily vitamin-this is the only time in the day we allow a glass of juice so this is really special! =))

This has really helped us get up and my kids set the table in the morning so they look up to see what is for breakfast and they set the table accordingly. The morning is still crazy but this is one less thing to worry about.
Do you have any fun breakfasts you kids just love? Please share!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Baby Products I love

What baby products could you not live without? Well we really could do without a lot but I find a few items so helpful. Here is a list of ones I love and why. If you click on the links you can see a picture of it.

Baby Backpack- Graco brand. This particular brand has been perfect. We have used it once they are about 6 months till about 3 years old. I use this to mow the lawn with my baby, we take hikes and walks with it. I've also used it in the store when I have more kids then I can handle in the shopping carts.

Jogging Stroller/Bike Trailer- We got a trek brand from a local bike shop. We have been really happy with it, that we bought a second used one. I love the versatility of both. We go biking as a family and we can put two kids in it. When they are newborn's we put them in it all by themselves with their car seat. After four kids and 8 years its still going strong, we love it!

Diaper Bag from JJ Coles- I have used two different ones from this same company and have loved both. The small one was perfect for just a few diapers plus everything I normally have in my purse. This was the only thing I used for my purse and I loved it. The larger one I loved for when I had two in diapers and needed to carry more around.

Bundle Me from JJ Coles--If you have a baby in the winter months this is a must. I just loved knowing they were comfortable. It is so easy to use too.

Advent Bottles--These bottles are wonderful. I love that you can get different flow nipples for the different ages. These are great for nursing babies. They last forever! Worth every penny!

Breast Pump Medela- I got the electric breast pump for my third baby because I was going to be working. It is so nice because it doesn't take very long to pump. The company support is wonderful as well. I had a part break after having it for two years (I was using it with my fourth baby) and they sent me replacement parts for free with no questions.

Pack-N Play--We have gotten so much use out of our portable crib. We take it camping, to grandma's. and even use it everyday for naps and "playpen playtime." We just have a very basic one that also converts to a higher bed bassinet which is great for newborns.

What products do you love? do share in comments!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Helping your local schools

My sister-in-law, Brittany just gave me a stack of Box Tops for my kids to take to school. I think that is so neat that she would take the time to save these for a school her kids won't even go to. Before my kids were in school I used to give my box tops and Campbell soup labels to my piano students. It really doesn't take hardly any time. My piano students thought that was really fun to get some extra to take to school. These little things really do help the schools. At our last Parent Organization meeting there was a report of the money we received from each company. I was amazed! So just a little plug to help out a school and start collecting.
Our school collects:
Box Tops, Campbell's Soup labels, Capri sun packages, Macey's Grocery Store receipts, Cream of Weber lids. Does your school collect others? Do you know of any cool things your school was able to purchase because of the extra money?
It's been a while since I've done a post. I'm trying to get back into the swing of things now that school is underway. I thought I was busy in the summer =). I hope to post something at least once a week.
PS. There is only two more days for the latest poll on the Tooth Fairy. Check it out and vote on the homepage of childrenareworthit.