Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Developing Stress Response in Infants

Who wants to see their child distressed?  No one does.  But isn't it inevitable and normal for all children to go through stress in life?  One way we can help develop a healthy stress response is to gradually give them space to safely explore their environment.
"Healthy stress regulation systems prepare children to meet a range of challenging and stressful events without becoming overwhelmed. Over a lifetime, emotionally healthy individuals draw on this internalized system to tolerate both normal daily stress and larger, more catastrophic stress. The ability to moderate stress to tolerable levels is key to emotional health and resiliency. The absence of healthy stress regulation results in individuals who are easily overwhelmed or who respond in maladaptive ways."  (by Heidi Holman)  
Loving your children and creating a secure attachment and bond is so important.  This will effect all the emotional relationships they make in life.  We should seek to make sure our children are well loved and cared for.  Holding, rocking, hugging, giving eye contact and give them the physical attention and fulfilling their emotional needs.  Could this be overdone to the child's detriment?  An interesting TV documentary, "Hyper Parents and Coddled Kids."addressed some of the issues of this parenting style.  This has been a highly controversial issue lately, I believe this type of parenting starts in infancy.  I think hovering or "helicopter parenting" is tough because parents are truly doing so much for their children but this is showing it's a little too much.
As you let your mobile infant move away from you, and try to figure out things on their own, their stress response is being developed.  If they are so dependent on mom or dad because they are always hovering over them, telling them what and what not to do, it may be more difficult for them to adjust when they are left with babysitters, nursery, or preschool.  If they are use being able to play without mom or dad right there they are more likely to be more comfortable in a new environment.  I have always been curious why some babies/toddlers are just fine going to a babysitter and other children scream and cry into hysterics no matter what the sitter does.  These are children who are well loved at home.  I took a class recently about child development and they mentioned that many children who get really upset when mom and dad drops them off to day care or to school have not developed a healthy stress response because parents have not given them the opportunity or space to do so.
I remember that most of my babies went through a stage where they would cry as soon as I walked out of the room and then when I would reappear they would stop crying.  This is a normal stage of development and we can help them through this by playing peek a boo games, and giving them a more contained area to play in. When they are very small, the safe contained space may be a playpen.  A playpen is a perfect place for them to be where you know they are safe and can play independently and explore without you.  Start with a few minutes a day if baby is not happy with this.  Gradually add minutes where they have some independent play time.  I incorporated "playpen" time in baby's routine once or twice a day.  I found it was a great time when I need some personal bathroom time or a much needed shower.  When they get older you may want to expand the area to a toy room or their own bedroom.  Even though it's so important for children to be able to explore safely in their environment on their own, we need not forget that we are their best playmate, let them lead out and then give them space when it's time to grow.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Developmental Concerns-Who can Help?

If you have any concerns about the development of you child in a certain area, it is so important to get it checked out early.  Early Intervention has shown to help so many children.  The earlier you recognize a developmental delay in your child the more you can do to help them reach their full potential.  Watch for signs as they play, learn, speech, and act.
There are many places to turn.  Here is some that I have found helpful, and please if you know of others, please share.
1.  I would start with your family physician or pediatrician.  Tell your doctor your concerns and see if they see the same thing and have suggestions or local places you can get help.  If they tell you to not worry, they will grow out of it, it may be true but if you are still concerned I would get a second opinion.  Mothers are with their child the most in a day and know what makes your child tick.  If your gut tells you there is a problem, find someone who can help.
2.  Up to 3 Early Intervention-This center is based at Utah State University but is only one of fifteen early intervention programs in Utah.  They offer families many services including, a full assessment of your child's health and developmental status, then they offer many classes, therapies, and strategies based on your child's needs.
3.  For Children over three years old go to your local public school.  Every school is different in what they do for preschool children who need extra services before kindergarten.  For example in the Logan School District they have a preschool devoted to children with developmental or speech delays.  They continually are testing and admitting students all through the year if they qualify.  The school is Riverside Preschool.  Cache County School district does it within the elementary schools.  Making a few phone calls to the local schools and the school district you could find what services and testing is offered in your area.

4.  Check out the CDC webpage.  It has so many resources and information at your fingertips for parents about developmental milestones and warning signs you should watch for.  This may answer many questions right at home.

5.  Head Start serves children 0-5 years old of low income families.  Eligibility is based on income level.  They even have a home visit program used to help pregnant women educate and then later bond with their baby.

I've been doing a preschool this year in my home and I've seen a few children who have shown signs that they need a little extra help. It's hard to tell a parent concerns but on the other hand it's doing the child a disservice if you choose to ignore signs.  You may have a child in your daycare or preschool, a neighbor, niece/nephew, or grandchild who you can see may have some developmental delays.  This is so hard because we are worried about offending someone.  But think about if no one ever says anything until they are a really problem in school, it's so much harder to address these issues.  Much care and tact should be used in approaching the parents, but if you do it with a pure love and concern for the child, it could really help the child and their family.  I feel strongly that if we address speech/language, physical motor skills, emotional, behavioral, or cognitive developmental delays early, the better chance the child has to be successful in life.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Doctor Shots

Today was not a fun day at the doctor's office.  First we waited an hour to be seen (so the girls were pretty tired), then each of my girls got shots.  Peanut got 4 shots and Pumpkin had 5.  It's a hard thing for me to see them cry especially when it's inflicted.  I prepared them by talking about what was going to happen and what it might feel like.  Peanut is still sore in both legs tonight.  I was grateful for a tip I learned last week and I think it helped.
A study was done with children and babies who were given shots in a doctor's office.  One group of the children were sitting on the table with their parents on the side and the other group of patients were being held by their parents.  The children who were being held by the parents cried just as long but their levels of cortisol were significantly lower. Cortisol is the stress hormone in our body.  I believe this indicates that children being held by their parents have a less stressful experience.  It made sense to me so we tried it.  I just sat up on the patients table and held them on my lap.  I held their arms in a hug and my legs helped keep their legs still.  It went pretty slick and we didn't have any kicking or screaming just the normal shock of "Owwie, that hurt and I can't believe you just poked me cry."  So next time your kids have shots you may want to try it.  If anything I felt like I was more part of the process and was helping, rather then just being a bystander watching.  

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Utah Upstart-At Home Preschool Program

My daughter was chosen to participate in this years Utah Upstart, At Home Preschool Program.  We have been using the software for about 3 weeks.  She absolutely loves it and is learning so much.  I think this program is amazing.  She is learning her ABC, pre-reading skills, how to spell her name, numbers, and science.  I would highly recommend anyone to it.  The program is designed to track the progress of the child and give specific activities that the child needs to learn all the letters and other kindergarten readiness skills.   The great thing is it's funded by grants so it cost nothing to participate.  Also there are some who were selected to participate who didn't have a computer who will get a computer to use while in the program.  It is hard to get in the program because the demand is high and the funds can't compete.  But it would be worth it to try so follow this link to pre-register.  Have you heard of this program before, or has any of your children used the program before?  What did you think?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Free Christmas Music

My husband has a hard time waiting till after Thanksgiving to play Christmas songs.  Especially if it starts snowing, he gets the tunes going. I love Christmas music so I can't really complain too much.  Yesterday, he was looking up something on and found a whole album of children's Christmas music for FREE!  The kids love Veggie Tales and this album was pretty funny.  The Album is called Singing Christmas Tree and it was really easy to download and it went right into our i-Tunes library of songs.  Here is the link.  We also found several other songs and albums for free as well.  Sometimes an artist will give one song for free to get a taste of their music.  I thought this was way cool!  Have a great holiday!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Traveling in the car ideas

Just coming home from a Disneyland trip I have been thinking about what helped keep the kids content for the long car journey.
1.  The best was the DVD player.  We didn't watch a lot of movies but when the movies were on, all was well.  We put all our kids movies and since we traveled on a Sunday we also brought a case of church movies.  The kids each took a turn to choose a movie.
2.  Homework.  The kids had a weeks worth of homework to do so we arranged with teachers to get their homework beforehand so they could do it in the car.  That took a lot of time.
3.  Coloring Books.  My mom got each of the kids a coloring/activity book from the dollar store.  They loved getting a new book to color in.  The crayons were a little messy so maybe a little container to keep them in would be a good idea.
4.  Library books on tape and Playaways.  The Librarian gave me this idea-thanks Shawn.  The playaways (these are digital books with their own output devise)  were really cool because each kid could have their own book and set of head phones and they thought that was really fun.
5.  Stopping to eat meals.  As much as it was a temptation to keep on driving to get their faster I think it really helped to all get out and eat meals out of the car.  We brought a cooler so we could make sandwiches and it gave the kids a chance to get the wiggles out.
6.  Leapsters or portable playing device.  We didn't bring any of these but with a long drive I think this would have been a good idea.  We did use a cell phone a few times that had some games the kids like to play.  "Angry Birds"
7.  Quick and non messy snacks we found-fruit roll ups, pretzles, twizzlers, work good.
8.  Musical Chairs-If possible I think changing up the seating is good just to give kids a new face to look at.  With car seats that might be too much of a pain but the others not in car seats could change it up.

Well that's not that many ideas and I wish I would have done a little more prep time so I was more prepared but we made it safe and sound without too many tears.  I would love some more ideas for future trips we have planned.  Please share when you get a minute.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Music Lessons

Numerous studies have shown that children how study music (learn an instrument) succeed better in school.  Here is three studies that demonstrate just that.
The University of Irvine conducted experiments testing music study against the benefits
of computer learning in preschoolers. Additionally, they tested students who studied
music against those who simply did not, and the results were astounding. Of the three
groups of tested preschoolers, those who studied piano lessons performed 34% higher
than their peers who had not had any musical training.
Other studies have shown that 2nd and 3rd grade music students, because of the
counting involved in musical rhythms, scored 100% higher in math than those who
learned mathematical counting in a traditional setting.
And college students who have studied music have typically scored 98 points higher
than their non-musical peers on their SATs. (
Most people I know understand all of this information but the hard thing is actually putting this into practice.  It's a lot of work, money, time, and frustration having your children learn an instrument.  But I'm here to tell you it's so worth everything you put into it.  It's like anything in life the more you put into it the more you get out of it.  You personally have to decide how important is it to you to have your children learn to play an instrument.  Here is some questions I have had from a few friends who were thinking of starting there kids on an instrument.  I'll try my best to answer them.  Please offer any of your own experiences and opinions.
How old should I start my child in private lessons?  I have a believe that your never too old and never too young.  But I will say I wouldn't start formal lessons until age 3 or 4.  I would lean toward 4 though unless you have a child who really wants to or they are just really quick at learning and very responsive to new things.  With that said, if you do want to start them that young, you really need to be involved with the lessons and every practice.  The Suzuki Method encourages young beginnings and a lot of other music methods are starting to make method books for young learners (pre-readers.)  You also want to find a very patient teacher who is great with kids. For this young age, playing the instrument with you everyday is so much fun, you make it a game and make it exciting and rewarding for them.
If you want to start your child later after they are more independent I think 8 years old is a good age.  They are a little more responsible and you would not need to be as involved with the process, but I would encourage you to still be as involved as your child will let you. (As long as you are positive) The more parent support and encouragement a child gets they will succeed more.  Even if you just pop in while they are practicing and say "Wow that sounded great, can I hear you do that again"  Or "It sounded like you were having trouble with that part, do you want some help?"

How much of a priority should it be?  This is a tough question, because it really is up to you.  For me it's a high priority.  It's something all our kids do, and that's what we tell them, "This is what we all do?"  Our kids play their instrument before they watch TV, or play with friends.  We know that if it doesn't get done before then, it just doesn't happen.  Homework and school work does come first.  We really try to have them do practicing before school and that is so nice.

If I know how to play an instrument, would it be ok for me to teach them?  I think it can work.  Depending on how well you get a long with your child it can work great!  But even though I do know how to play piano and the flute, I have decided to have my kids take from another teacher.  I practice with them but it's nice to have someone else to check with every week.  The best situation would be to find another teacher that you can swap lessons with.

It's just too much money to take lessons, we can't afford it.
I totally understand this.  Especially if you have three, four or even more taking lessons at the same time.  There are other ways they can learn an instrument.  Have them pick an instrument when it becomes an option at school.  School orchestra and band is a great way to learn.  You can get great deals on rentals and also buying a used instrument can be very affordable.  We got our son a violin on for only $60.  If you play an instrument you can teach them yourself, or work out some kind of swap.  Even if you don't play an instrument a lot of teachers would work with you if you wanted to take to swap with a skill you have.  If there is a will, there is always a way.  Get creative.

How far do we push them, or how long should they take lessons for?  I think to make lessons worth it for your child is they need to be able to play something on their instrument for fun.  That's when they can enjoy playing is being able to play the music they love to hear.  You could make a piece goal where after they can play a certain piece they can stop playing or once they get to a certain level they can stop.  It really necessary to set a goal so they have something in mind.  My goal for oldest son who is playing the piano is that he can play from the hymn book well enough to accompany a congregation.  You could also set an age goal, once you are 16 you can stop playing.  I really would discourage starting any instrument if your child is already asking how long do they have to play for before they even start taking, you are going to be in for a long battle.  But every child gets to a point where they want to quit.  That is so normal and then is when you need to have a discussion about why your doing this what this is helping that with and then set some goals.

What can I do to keep them motivated?
Buy them fun pieces of music or books for birthday's, Christmas, or after they play in a recital.
Take them to concerts where they will get excited about their instrument.  If you have a piano player, take them to a Jon Schmidt concert for sure!
Get recordings of music they are playing or other great classical music
Get them performing, play for Grandma and Grandpa, have weekly family recitals in your home, go to a rest home and play for residents there, play in church for prelude or a musical number, etc.
Give them lots of encouragement and don't let them say this is so hard, "It's not hard, it's just new."


Sunday, October 17, 2010

We've Been Booed!

We got booed this week and the kids just thought that was so cool.  Someone from the neighborhood left a treat, a Boo Ghost, and a poem on our door step secretly.  Then we are to make or buy a treat and do the same for two more neighbors.  You should find a door that doesn't have a ghost on it that say's "We've Been Booed!"  The kids wanted to go around the neighborhood and see who hasn't been booed.  The thing I liked about this one is you can print it off the internet so you don't have to run to the copy center to copy the ghost and poem.  There is still two weeks until Halloween, I'm sure you have time to get it started in your neighborhood.  Here is the link for the poem and ghost.  Happy Booing!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wishing only wounds the heart

Don't dream too far, Don't lose sight of who you are...(Words from "I'm Not that Girl")
This really sad song from "Wicked" has a very melancholy melody and theme.  The message I take from it may be a bit unconventional.  Sometimes I find myself wishing today away.

Oh I wish I had my degree already and wasn't in school, it's just so hard.  Or, I wish my baby would sleep through the night, I'm so tired.  I'm so bored, I've already cleaned my house today, my baby is sleeping, I'm so lonely.  Or I wish we didn't have to buy diapers anymore.  
All of these things I know I have said before, and maybe you are saying them now. But we all someday will get to a place where we look back and want those times back or wish we would have treasured that time more.  I think of my brother who is out of state and wishing he was closer to family, just like I wish he was closer to us, but how could we both enjoy these times we are in right now! I think there are several things we can do:
1. Count you blessing: Look at today, and find everything you can that is great. This really helps me realize I do have many things to smile about, (well someday's it maybe only one, but finding one is important!)
2.  Journaling:  Put your thoughts and feelings in writing and take time to remember yesterday--this helps me keep life in perspective
3.  Take one day at a time:  Don't get caught up in getting so busy that we can't enjoy today--(I'm preaching to myself on this one!)
4.  Serve--However busy you are or how much you really don't feel like serving anyone, it will change you for the better in every case.  As you serve your life is lifted to new heights and not just you but others around you are changed.  Your children will catch it.  I know my mom serving others has made me look outside of myself because she did the same.
5.  Take time to meditate--A quiet minute might be all you have but take time to mediate or pray.  Don't lose sight of who you really are.  You are so much more.

I would love to hear your ideas of things you do to keep today beautiful and not just wish it away.

Friday, October 8, 2010


So my husband and I have heard from four different people we respect that sleepovers are not a good idea for kids.  Most of the reasons why have been very similar.  Two policeman we know said that they have seen many kids 1.  got in trouble with the law for the first time at a sleepover; 2.  experimented with drugs or alcohol  3.  were molested by other kids their age, an older sibling, or an adult, 4.  saw inappropriate movies or pornographic images.
That was enough for me to decide our kids are not going to do sleepovers.  If a friend has a sleepover party we will let them do a later night and then come home at curfew.  Growing up we had a saying, "Nothing Good happens after midnight"  I think you could put any curfew time in that phrase.
One parent we talked with said that their kids had the hardest time with the no sleepover rule when they were younger like 8-10 years old and then it became a no issue because the kids got use to the rule.  I really enjoyed a talk given by Elder Larry R. Lawrence last week during General Conference.  His talk was entitled "Courageous Parenting"  Wow, what powerful examples and words he used! Here is what he said about sleepovers.

May I express my personal warning about a practice that is common in many cultures. I am referring to sleepovers, or spending the night at the home of a friend. As a bishop I discovered that too many youth violated the Word of Wisdom or the law of chastity for the first time as part of a sleepover. Too often their first exposure to pornography and even their first encounter with the police occurred when they were spending the night away from home.
Peer pressure becomes more powerful when our children are away from our influence and when their defenses are weakened late at night. If you have ever felt uneasy about an overnight activity, don’t be afraid to respond to that warning voice inside. Always be prayerful when it comes to protecting your precious children.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Couldn't even see the floor!

Is your kids room this messy?  I really don't think my kids have had it messier.  We had so many clothes and toys on the floor I could barely get in the doorway.  I ignored it this week and then today I said "Enough! We have to do something about this!"  So we (I helped) set a timer for 30 minutes and started cleaning.  We even cleaned out drawers because they were all disorganized.  When the time rang we only had a little bit left on the floor and it was so great.  I knew if I didn't help them it wouldn't get done, or it would take them all afternoon, and we had soccer practice to get to.  
Any ideas to teach cleanliness without you being the one to always do it?  I don't want to raise a slob.  I hope my boys will be a blessing to their wives by being clean and already in the habit of cleaning up after themselves.  One idea I heard from my boys friend is he doesn't get breakfast until his room is clean.  I'm thinking that would be a good idea.  My boys are very into food so that may work.  It's so much easier to get it done in the morning too and then just keep it clean.  Any other things that have worked for you?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Encourage Individual Spirituality

One thing our schools do not teach our children is spirituality.  We can't rely on anyone else to teach this to our children.  I know that once a week in church is not nearly enough to help our children be strong and spiritual giants.  Because of this we as parents need to attend daily to this aspect of our children's life.  Just like feeding their bodies, their spirits are hungry and waiting to be fed.
Each of our children are so different and learn in such different ways that I want I help each by doing many things that will touch their spirits and help them recognize where those feelings come from.  My children are still fairly young but we are trying to set up some spiritual traditions that will hopefully spiritually fortify them and they will want to continue this throughout their life.  I liked this quote that was in this months Visiting Teaching Message:  
“What can we do to better prepare our children spiritually for their eternal roles?” asked ElderM. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Perhaps the most inclusive answer is: Teach them how to live the principles of the gospel.” This teaching comes through daily prayer, scripture study, and family mealtimes as well as weekly family home evening and Church attendance. Elder Ballard explains: “We prepare each day, right now, for eternal life. If we are not preparing for eternal life, we are preparing for something less, perhaps something far less.”2
Here is five traditions we are working to establish in our home:  
1. Personal Prayers:  This hasn't been something I have been great at.  We took a Marriage and Family Relationship class recently that confirmed to me that I need to be better at this and help my children in the same way.  So this summer I started kneeling down with each of my children before they go to bed and say a personal prayer.  My two older boys have lately been telling me they want to do it on their own, which is wonderful.  My two girls will now not go to bed until I say prayers with them.  This just makes me tickled to think they are remembering and want to do it.
2.  Mormon Messages:  We have recently been watching one or two Mormon messages on Sunday afternoons.  Wow, these have been such a blessing.  The messages have all been so powerful and spiritual.  Last week I was crying as we watched one about the power of the priesthood.  One of the kids said when it was done, "Mom I can tell you were crying"  And I took the opportunity to explain that this is one of the ways the holy ghost speaks to me.  It was a special time.  You can find Mormon messages on
3.  The Friend Magazine:  I'm way excited that my children are at a point that they are fighting over who gets to look at the new Friend Magazine first.  I don't like the fighting but you know what I mean.  =) They devour those stories.  During quiet time on Sunday instead of a regular story book I read their choice of magazine article. I've done this with the boys for a long time and now they are old enough that they are reading them on their own.  
4.  Scripture Study:  In the morning we have decided to gather before breakfast to read scriptures.  We have a goal of starting every morning at the same time.  We even wake up the little ones if they are still sleeping.  We don't read a lot but those that can read have their own set of scriptures they read from and the girls read one or two verses with help from mom or dad.  We are getting more out of our reading then we were when we were doing it while eating breakfast.  My challenge is to have breakfast and lunches ready before scripture study so I can be more a part of the activity.  At night we read a few pages of the Illustrated scriptures you can get at church distribution.  This really helps the children "see" and understand the stories.  
5.  Family Meals:  I believe the tradition of sitting together as a family during meals will help a child in many ways. At dinner we give each person an opportunity to say their best and worst thing of the day.  They love their turn and giving them a highlight during dinner I think really strengthens them as an individual to know they are important in this family.  
I'm grateful for the spiritual traditions my parents gave to me that I can pass on to my own children, just as I hope my children can pass on to theirs.  I would love to hear some of your traditions that are working in your home.  Please leave a comment!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Family Minute

I really enjoy the Family Minutes on the Radio with Mark Merrill.  My friend sent this to me and I really like it.  Its a tool you can use when your child has done something wrong (this could only be used for children old enough to read and write).  After I have found that that have done something wrong, often, my child gets really upset and angry.  This worksheet really helps the child identify the problem and the feelings they are having.  They take it to their bedroom and work on this worksheet.  When they are done then they bring it to you and you can discuss it together.  I have used it a few times and it really helped.  By the time my boy brought me the paper, he wasn't upset anymore and he was ready to discuss the problem.  Not to mention I was ready as well.  Try it and let me know if it worked for you.  You may have a technique that already works well for you, please share.  Here is the link if you want to be able to print this out to use.   Thanks Lisa for sharing this with me!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Be specific in your Praise

Another tip from our experienced parents, and newly empty-nesters.  When you praise your children, be very specific.  Also be careful about the kind of praise you give.  If you are constantly saying to your "cute" little girl.  You are so cute.  What message are you really sending.   Is being cute all that is important to you?  Is that her talent?   The example was given of a girl who was told this constantly by friends and family and at the young age of 2 or 3 she was spending much too long in front of the mirror getting ready in the morning because she wanted to make sure she was cute.  Praise that would be more beneficial to your child could be, "Wow, look at your drawing, you worked hard on that."  or "Thank you for helping today in the kitchen, you are a great helper."
The wife cited a study about the difference praise from others can really effect a child's thinking and then behavior.  I found an article that references the study, I'll do a quick summary and then you can follow the article link and read more if you are interested (it is very well written).  
Basically a study was done on two different fifth-grade classrooms.  Both equally smart children.  After performing a test out in hallway half the children were praised with "You must be smart at this", and the other half were praised with "you must have worked really hard."  Those who were praised fro the intelligence in the end of the study always chose the easy questions and opted out of the hard problems.  The opposite group were not afraid of trying harder problems and were not afraid of getting the answers wrong.  
I know I can really work on this, with all of my own children.  Being specific in what they do and how I appreciate them.  

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Love your children and your husband the way they want to be loved

I've been mulling over this idea for a while since we had a great evening of dinner, fun and games and then a couple spoke about things that they felt really helped them raising their family.  They are recently empty nesters and had some wonderful thoughts.
Love your children and your husband the way they want to be loved.
Basically it is to truly take an interest and not only an interest but learn to love to do the things your children love.  He gave the example that when he got married his wife just loved horses.  He hoped that she would get over it and move on to other things they enjoyed together.  He got her a couple horses and he helped take care of it.  At first he hated and despised taking care and cleaning up after the horses. She just loved these horses and loved riding them.  One day he had a moment where he realized that she was not going to get over horses and so he decided that day that he would start loving horses as well and find enjoyment in it because it meant so much to his wife.  He even prayed for help to find the joy in it.  Now he loves every part of having horses.  It's a great thing they enjoy together.  It's brought them closer together.
This can be applied to your children just as easily.  Is there something that your child loves that you could really love them the way they want to be loved and take an interest in it?  It really has made me evaluate my own relationship with each of my children and my husband.  How can I better love my family.  It can be really simple things like back scratches, foot rubs, or just listening to them when they come home from school and work.  Don't we all want to be loved the way we want to be loved?  I know by doing this it will come back to us in love ten fold.  I think it''s definitely something to consider and mull over.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Scary Automatic Flushers

Our youngest is potty training and it's going much better then the older kids.  We have only hit one problem.  Going to the bathroom in public.  Just last week we went to a public bathroom with automatic flushers and while she was sitting on the toilet it flushed and it was really loud.  It scared her so bad she refused to even sit on the toilet.  Now going anywhere besides our own toilet is really scary for her.  Dilemma!
Well I talked with a friend who gave me really great advise.  She actually sits on the toilet with them so the toilet won't flush while their on it.  We tried it and it worked.  Now I don't think I want to be doing this for a really long time but for now while she is getting use to the whole toilet thing, it's better then pee all over the supermarket floor.  Anyone else found anything that helps with going to the bathroom in public?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Summer Blues

We are encroaching school very soon and my kids are getting blue.  There just seems to be a little more whining about doing their jobs and a little more fighting.  I wish I had a simple solution to keep spirits up but I'm lacking for ideas.  Please post your ideas in comments to keep summer fun until school starts.  Here is a few that I've found that have helped.
1.  Make a daily plan with your kids.  This works well in the morning to talk about the things they want to do that day.  If its play with friends, go to the park, have a picnic, go on a bike ride, do sprinklers in the backyard, or make cookies together.  I have also tried this when the kids have had play dates with friends.  I tell them I want them to be able to do a variety of fun things.  One day my oldest and his friend made this plan.
--Play Lego Star Wars (on the Wii)  for 1 hour
--Make a treat and eat it
--Play outside
--Play Lego's in my room

It worked so well, no fighting with the boys, they had a great time and they enjoyed doing a variety of things.

2.  Work on Scout Requirements.  If your boys are 8 years or older they had so many scout requirements that work well to do in the summer.  You could have them choose one thing to do a day for the rest of the summer.

3.  Do a little bit of school readiness everyday.  Math facts, spelling, handwriting are all going to be a part of their day all day in just a few weeks so help them prepare by doing a few worksheets everyday.  I have a new favorite website for homework help.  It's called  Make a parent account and you can make your own spelling lists for the kids and it saves them for you.  The kids can play games with those words and later get quizzed on them.  I'm totally going to use this during the year with their spelling lists.

4.  Make a family goal to accomplish something before school starts.  It could be a book you read together as a family, have a family walk every night, a work-yard project, not use your car as much as you can, getting every ones teeth brushed everyday, whatever it is.   And then you can have a reward for the family for accomplishing it.

OK this is all I have, I'm needed some other ideas for my own sanity, please... anything has got to help!  =)
Happy August to all and enjoy the rest of this time with your children.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Why do my kids go to a Charter School?

With the school year approaching I have been reflecting on why I am choosing to send my children to a Charter school when a brand new school will be opening up that they can walk or ride their bike to.  My oldest child has been going to the same charter school for 4 years. Here is why I like our charter school:

  • I really love the consistency and continuity of the curriculum.  Each teacher at the school teaches the same math, spelling, and reading program.  When my kids go to another teacher for the next grade all the kids are on the same level and they are not trying to relearn because the new teacher has a different approach.  This consistency is so comforting.  Parents are also encouraged to take a class so we can better help our children at home with homework.  This class has helped me so much.
  • I love the small feeling of the charter school.  We feel like part of the Thomas Edison Charter School family
  • My kids have had an amazing academic experience every year and I see them progressing and challenged.  I've never heard them complain that they are bored.  
  • The positive environment the teachers and aides teach with (They are all trained by the Glenn Latham's positive approach to learning)
  • The arts play a big role in the education.  Every grade attends PE taught by a PE teacher, music by a Music specialist, Art by an artist (a kiln has been installed in the new addition of the school so the students can preserve their artwork), Computer, Science, and Library are all taught by specialists.  They also have an orchestra, band, and choir.  
  • I love love the dress code.  I never have to worry about what my kids where to school because I know and they know the standards, (solid colored shirt, solid colored pants or long shorts, no logos)  We don't have to worry getting the name brand jeans or the "in" t-shirts.  We never have battles about clothes for school and I really appreciate that
  • Parent Involvement is an essential part of the school.  All parents are required to volunteer in some way at the school.  It could be as simple as helping correct papers, reading with children, or serving on the parent board.  The more parents that are involved is always a better situation for the students and teachers.  With parents involved and helping the school can be a great place to be and the teachers can focus on the students more.  
  • I feel welcome and wanted at the school.  When my oldest was ready to go to Kindergarten.  I wanted to make an educated decision about where to send him to Elementary school.  So I went to both school, the charter school and the local school.  I went to our local school first because I actually was working as a music therapy supervisor in the special education classroom.  I asked the secretary if I could see a Kindergarten class.  She looked at me like I was crazy.  She told me I would need to schedule an appointment to come so the teacher would be prepared that I was coming.  But I was introduced to the principal who took me to the library and answered some questions I had.  He then let me go visit one of the kindergarten classes.  They were watching an educational cartoon.  I'm sure it was just an off day but I wasn't impressed with the environment.  I then went to Thomas Edison Charter School and asked the same thing and they took me to a kindergarten class and I stayed for a half hour and just watched the teaching.  I was so impressed.  The kids were at their desks doing Phonographs and then they did some math.  They had two aides that went around to the children that needed assistance while the teacher was teaching.  The teacher was very positive encouraged participation.  The kids were not bored they were sitting tall in their chairs and were actively listening.  I knew this is where my son would learn and get the most from his education.  
  • I love our principal, Eldon Budge.  He knows me and my children by name and always says hi and is open to feedback and questions.
  • It's a public School and is FREE-  Most people I have talked to about charter schools don't know that it is a public school and is free to everyone that goes.  
  • Starting this year the school grades offered are K-8th grade.  If my children choose, which I will encourage they can stay at TECS until they go to high school.  The Jr High and Middle School drama and teasing is much lessened.  I helped with the middle school end of year party and was very impressed with how well behaved these kids were.  They dress modestly and in turn their behavior is appropriate.

My advise if you are even curious about a charter school is go visit and ask questions.  If you don't set foot in the school and the classroom it's hard to know if it's right for you and your children.  My oldest will start fourth grade this year and I'm excited to begin another school year of learning.  It's worth the driving back and forth to drop and pick them up from school, and even worth not having all their neighborhood friends in the same school.
Here is the website to our school if you want to check it out.  Thomas Edison Charter School

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Keeping Busy

So I haven't been posting as regularly because I've been working on my new project.  I have started a new preschool called Music Train Preschool.  This has been really fun but has taken quite a bit of my time organizing. I started a Music Train Preschool Blog which I will help me communicate with parents throughout the school year.  I will feature our weekly theme and give ideas that will help them reinforce the skills we learn in preschool.  I am really excited because I just filled my Tuesday and Thursday Class with the cutest kids.  I will only take six children per class.  This will help me give more individual attention to each student.  Music will be an integral part of our Preschool.  I will use music (singing, instrument playing, dancing, rhythm, and rhyme) to reinforce all the learning. It is something I know I will enjoy.  Most children I have interacted connect so fully with music.  The music helps engage and provide a whole learning experience.  Even though music will be a central part of the preschool experience I am planning a very well-rounded environment filled with, arts and crafts, reading, math, snacks, outside play, show and tell, field trips, free-play, and more.  My personal philosophy is Preschools primary importance is to prepare children for Kindergarten by providing an opportunity for children to interact nicely with other children their age, and learn how to be away from mom and dad and listen to another adult.  If they learn more then that then off course that is wonderful.  If you have any question or are interested in learning more please visit my blog at:  Even if you aren't signed up for Preschool you may find some of the posts interesting if you have a preschooler at home.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Encouraging Summer Reading

My kids are excited about a couple of reading programs this summer.  

1st -- Library Summer Reading program.  I'm sure all Libraries have some program that encourages reading.  We get coupons, and this is for even the adults, each week if we read so many hours.  It's so great.  At the end of the summer there is a fun party.  My kids look forward to it every year.  

2nd --I've had several e-mails about the the Borders Books.  Here is the link to the form:

After your child reads 10 books - they get a FREE book from Borders! On the bottom of the form there is specific books that you child can choose from.  This is for children 12 and under.  Most of the books are chapter books but hey it's a free book to work towards!

3rd --The Read and Win Program
For Children 6-12 years old.  Deadline is July 22nd.  Read 10 books and receive a free ticket to the Utah State Fair in SLC.  For a form you can e-mail Jamie at   The state fair is Sept. 9-19.

Any other ideas?  I would love them in the comments!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Eating more Veggies

Have you heard of  having a rabbit bowl in your fridge?  A rabbit bowl is a bowl or container that has veggies ready to eat at all times just like rabbits. My friend Alison has a rabbit bowl and my kids started telling me about it so I had to ask her about it.  Alison heard it from Hannah Keely.  It's been a hit, as long as I keep it stocked.
So now when the kids are hungry they can get in the rabbit bowl anytime.  I even use it when they want a cookie or treat in between meals.  I tell them they can have a cookie after they have a couple veggies from the rabbit bowl.  They also love when I put fruit in there too.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Love and Logic Quick tips

I've been wanted to put up a post about a class I took a while back.  It was a Love and Logic Basic Class.  I'm just going to put some of my favorite tips I got that night.
1.  Set a good example by stopping yourself before you show anger or frustration, yell, threaten, lecture, use sarcasm, criticize, blame, etc.  These are traps that let the child focus on our emotions rather than their bad decisions.  (I found this is true in our marriage relationships as well.)
2.  When our kids make bad choices let experience and natural consequences do the teaching.  Don't rob or rescue them from these teaching moments.
3.  When toddlers do something you don't like, use the "Uh-oh" Song.  The "Uh-oh" song is actually sung while you take your toddler for a little away time.  This allows you not to get angry and the toddler away from the situation.  Example, The child hits dog with a toy hammer, or toddler is throwing food (or spitting) from high chair, throwing dirt from your potted plants in the house, they are screaming and crying for no apparent reason while you are having dinner, story time, or company is over.  This down time is short, just enough time for them and you to calm down.  This is what I sing, "Uh-oh, time for a little play-pen time" and then I as nicely as I can sing this while I carry them to their play-pen.  And yes I think you can start this as early as 1 year old.  Kids are smart, why let them get away with something now and try to back track latter when they are older.
4.  When kids whine or argue use a "brain dead" statement by saying in a calm voice, "I know" or what did I say?"
Grandparents can use these same strategies when watching their grandchildren.  Grandchildren respect their grandparents when they know where the limits are while visiting.

Examples of situations where you can use love and logic.

Kid is begging for a toy in the store (Empathy and choices you can live with)
"I can see why a kid would love a toy like that."   (wait and stay quiet for a minute)  "Do you have the money to buy that?"   "No?  Some kids put toys like that on a wish list for birthdays or Christmas.  How would that work for you?  and   "No?  Some kids do extra chores to earn the money.  How would that work for you?"

Kids won't eat what you cooked.  (Consequences)
"Dinner is on the table for ten more minutes, get what you need to hold you over until breakfast"

Kid won't pick up the toys he played with.  (Enforceable statement)
"Whoa, I see toys on the floor.  Grandma might trip on those.  Grandpa will tell you a favorite story as soon as those toys are back in the box.  Ready, set, go...!"

Friday, April 9, 2010

Online School Helpers

I've discovered a couple websites that my kids have enjoyed to help them with their Math and Spelling.

Spelling:  We do a word search each week with their spelling words.  If we have time, I have them enter their own words by typing them into the computer.  This really helps them memorize the words.  This is the word search website we like.  I usually just type in word search maker in my Google search to find it.  It even saves your past word searchs.  I like that you can select what directions up, down, backwards, forwards, diagonals to fit the age of your child.

Math:  Are you kids tired of their flash cards?  This is an online math game to test speed and accuracy.  You can make it as easy or as hard as you like.  Click here for the math game.  We have used this during spring break to keep their minds active.

Have you found any websites that are helpful for your kids in reinforcing school concepts?  Please share in comments.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Setting up rules in your home

I've been contemplating an issue I keep running into that I'm going to try to write out.  My thoughts are still developing.
Here is a couple scenario I've had with my own kids lately to preface my thoughts.
A school choir concert is happening where my child will be performing with the rest of his class.  My child doesn't "feel" like going.
My child is playing with his friends at our home and cub scouts is going to start in 15 minutes and all the boys say they don't want to go this one time.

Wouldn't it be so much easier to just stay home, I think to myself.  I'm tired, or I'm in the middle of making dinner we all could just stay home.  But then I awaken and think, he has teachers, leaders and peers waiting on him, counting on him to do his part.  If he doesn't go today how much easier will it be for him to say the same thing next week or next time?

What if the same child says, I don't "feel" like going to church today?  When does his agency come into effect?  Doesn't he get to "choose" to do what he wants to?  This has probably happened or will happen for school as well.

So here is my thoughts in this matter because I think this will only be the beginning of battles that I have to decide if I am going to fight or not.  First of all I have to decide what do I value.  Because what I think is most important and want to instill in my own children is worth fighting for.  If I want to my children to know that church is very important, then I'm going to insist that my children come to church with me.  To me music lessons are important enough that I will insist they keep playing until they reach a certain age or level of playing.  That's what every parent needs to decide for themselves, what is important enough.  Another thing I think is really important is to support each other by attending their activities.  This shows that we care and love each other, even though their part may be small.  My parents were so excellent in teaching this to me.  They still do everything they can to come to any of our performances or activities.

I am developing my mantra that I say, "In our home we, ________________, and you can decide what attitude you will have doing it."   I think when your children live in your home their are certain rules that you can set for them to obey.  After they move out of the house they may choose to live by certain rules and that is their choose but when they are in your home, they abide by your rules.
I wanted to end with a part of an article I found that I really like.

Family Rules

Firm and unwavering family rules help these youth stay on course. A group of teenagers from the Atlanta Georgia Stake admit that they appreciate the rules their parents set. “I’d never tell my parents this,” one young man says, “but I don’t mind the rules we have at our home. Sometimes I’ll ask my parents to let me do something I know I shouldn’t, and I complain when they say no, but I’d be really disappointed if they gave in to me.”
Jennie Busker appreciates rules because they provide an excuse to give her friends when they want to do something she feels uncomfortable about. “Once my friend wanted me to go with her to her boyfriend’s house after work,” she relates. “I didn’t want to go and said I didn’t think my mom would let me. She kept pushing me to go, and I’m afraid I would have if my parents hadn’t said no.” Other youth agree. “Sometimes it’s hard to tell your friends no. You don’t want to hurt their feelings, so you need to have your parents as a backup.”
In order for rules to be really effective, they should be fair and consistent. Some family rules, many Atlanta teens say, are non-negotiable—no dating before sixteen, and church attendance, for example. Others are more open. Families often use family councils or family home evenings to discuss such rules. After hearing the input of their teens, some families have established a curfew. Others have a variable curfew and ask only that their children let them know where they are at all times. Within these broad guidelines, the youth are generally allowed to plan their own activities.
Consistency is another must in establishing rules. Once a rule is set and a consequence decided upon, both parents need to follow through. “Next times” do not always work. “If I hear ‘next time you do this’ too often,” one girl says, “I know nothing will ever happen. I know I can go out and break the rule.” When parents do not remain firm (unless circumstances suggest otherwise), their children feel the rules and the values they represent are really not very important.
Sometimes following through on the consequences may seem harsh. Laura Busker tells of one experience she had. “My mother had told me that I could not go out one Saturday night until I finished my seminary homework. (My mother is the teacher.) Well, I put it off and put it off and when my date came, I had not started. I wanted to leave, but Mom stood firm. I had to do my work while my date waited. That may seem silly or mean to some people, and I wasn’t too excited about it at the time, but that experience taught me how important seminary and learning the gospel were to my mother. And you can be sure I never put it off again. I learned my lesson.”
Although follow-through is important, circumstances also need to be considered. In some situations, consequences might be more effective if they are a little more lenient. Kim Kotter of the Tucker Georgia Stake had gone to a stake dance with some friends from her ward. When it was time to come home, they could not find one of their group. By the time they found her and arrived home, Kim was much later than she should have been. Kim’s father recognized the difficulty of her situation and, instead of becoming angry, picked up the phone and said, “Phone, may I introduce you to Kim. Kim, this is the phone.” In this humorous and calm response, he let Kim know that her curfew was still important and that he would have liked a phone call telling him of the problem, but that he also understood what had happened.
When parents remain firm in their standards and guidelines, children also learn to stand firm. Jane Danneman, a counselor in the Young Women presidency of the Marietta Georgia Stake, says that teens do not bend to peer pressure unless their parents do. If parents give in to the repeated requests of their children, their children are more likely to give in to the repeated requests of their peers. Teenagers are quick to notice any form of hypocrisy. If they see that their parents are not truly committed to the gospel and to living its standards, they feel no need to be committed themselves. But when parents are unwavering in the rules they set and the lives they live, their children are more likely to stand firm, too.
Guidelines and rules are important in the lives of these Atlanta youth, but most who are doing well do not think of their parents primarily as law-givers. A common feeling among these teenagers is that their parents are friends—people they can talk to about anything.
Friendly Rules by Anesen, Ensign Jan. 1985

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Conference Games

I'm looking forward to conference this weekend.  There are things we can do before conference to help make this special weekend a good experience for the whole family.  Here is some ideas:

  • Have some quiet activities ready that will help keep interested.  

Some I thought of...Puzzles, play dough, coloring, The Friend Magazine,
Just keeping your kids quiet while you try to hear conference can be a chore.  My mom just told me the website has a resource for parents for conference games and activities. Visit this website at:  I think this is new.  I really like the conference bingo because it has seven different bingo sheets so everyone doesn't get bingo at the same time.  There is also some online matching games to familiar your children to the prophets and apostles.

  • One thing our extended family has done for years that helps everyone is to share with each other our favorite talk, or thought that you got out of conference.  Many tears has been shed as we share with each other our testimonies and things that touched us.  
  • Taking a break in between conference to help get wiggles out is really important.  Go for a walk, stretch, anything that helps change the scenery will help.  In Logan we might be shoveling snow in between conference, who knows.  

I would love some more ideas.  What do you do to help make conference special in your homes?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Let your Babysitting worries vanish away!

Picture of our coupons (the date night coupons are red but I'm out so I couldn't take a picture of one--tilt your head and you can read it! =)

Who doesn't ever have to go to the doctor, dentist, hair appointment, volunteer at the Elementary school, go to a craft store, or go on a date with your spouse. We love our kids and love to spend time with them, but there are times when we can't take them with us. For me it seemed like I was always using the same neighbor, or family member and I hated using them especially if they didn't ask me back to return the favor. And if I always hire a sitter for everything, I would go broke!
Here is an idea that may work for you... So I'm all about cooperation and her is an idea that I am loving! My friend Alison told me about her cousin who started a Babysitting Co-op in her neighborhood and she wanted to start one where we live. So we did and it has been great. Let me tell you about it and you may want to start your own of if you live in my neighborhood, you may want to join!
Here is how it works:
1. We will have a group of girls/families that will be a part of the co-op that you can swap babysitting with. You will be given a list of their names with contact information on it.
When you need a babysitter, you simply e-mail or call someone on the list to see if they are available. You can also send a group e-mail out to the whole group and say you need a babysitter at this time and date. Then anyone who is available and willing can get back with you. You may also choose only to ask a few people that you know really well to watch your kids. That is completely up to you.

2. You "pay" your babysitter with co-op coupons. You "earn" coupons by babysitting

3. Everyone gets 10 babysitting coupons to start out with and 1 date night coupon.
Babysitting coupons = 1 hour per child (example: 3 kids & 1 hour = 3 coupons or 2 kids- 2 hours=4 coupons)
Date Night = 4 hours for all your kids so you can go on a date

4. You can be as involved as much or as little as you want or need.

Everyone starts out with 10 regular coupons and 1 date night coupon with a list of those who would like to do. We made these coupons different colors so it would be easy to find them.
We thought we would start out with 15 girls and see how it works. This is not a click or club, we don't want to make people feel excluded.

Side note: There may be somewhere you need to go that you would like to keep private. I think it would be a good idea to have a policy that you don't need to say where your going or what your doing. (what if your pregnant and don't want to share with everyone quite yet, or you just don't want to have to tell everyone you are doing a secret service, whatever it is) Privacy will be respected.

Also with the flu season in full force, please be cautious in sending your kids if they are sick.

So we have been doing this since December and I think it's working very well. I really like that if I need to go somewhere I can send a quick e-mail to the whole group and whoever can and wants to babysit for me replies back to me and says they can. It saves a bunch of time and you don't feel like your asking someone and they really don't want to but they can't say no so they say yes. I also like to make sure I'm watching enough of other people kids so I have coupons for when I need them. If I run out of coupons I know I need to babysit some more. Alison made really cute coupons and then we laminated them so they would last for a while. Let me know if you have any questions about it.
If you want to start a group my first suggestion is to find a friend you really like to help you start it. Then work together to create a list of people who would potentially use the co-op. Then contact each of them by phone or e-mail to explain how the co-op works. Then make enough coupons for the whole group. Pass out the coupons and give each family the list of everyone in the group with their e-mail, phone and address. You may also want to include a list of rules so everyone would remember how it works. One of the rules is if someone decides to not be in the group anymore they simple return their 11 coupons to the group leader. Easy right, well it did take a bit of time at first but now that it's running it is smooth sailing just as long as people use and earn coupons. It just may be the solution to your babysitter worries.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Homework Helps

These are pictures of the homework tote I won yesterday at a class. Look below how I'm going to use this to help make homework a breeze!

I went to a very helpful class last night that focused on ideas to make Homework a little easier for both parents and children. Here are the things I'm going to try to do:
Set a regular time-- For us this will be a different time everyday depending on the schedule. But it made a lot of sense to me when they said if everyone in the family is doing "homework" you will have less contention about doing it. Sometimes my younger children will be watching a cartoon while the older children are doing their homework and it is such a distraction for them. Early grades spend about 10-20 minutes plus 20 minutes reading time. 3rd-6th grade spend about 30-60 minutes and Higher grades spend 1-3 hours a night. So now we will all participate in some type of homework based on their age level. I'll get more into that later.
Have a regular place-- Not every home has space for a special homework place but you can convert the kitchen table, bar, The child's room at a desk or in the front room about the sofa table to a regular homework place very easily.
Have supplies handy--Keep school supplies in a tote or old shoe box so all the materials needed can be placed at the regular homework place. I really liked this idea. Half the time at our house the kids are running around looking for a sharp pencil, and then some crayons, and them some paper. I was lucky enough to win the homework tote the presenter gave out last night. Here is a list of items that could be in here:
Crayons, pencils, markers, pencil sharpener, erasers, glue or paste, tape, writing paper, construction paper, hole punch, stapler, scissors, dictionary, paper clips. I'm going to add some board books, flash cards (index cards), and coloring book or pages for my younger ones not in school.
Check Homework--After homework is complete it's important to look over it. Make sure it's their best work. Is the handwriting legible? Did they understand the concepts? Compliment them on a good job. Ask them questions about their work.
Reading Practice--This is a good time to hear them read after they complete their written homework.

So we are going to try this new idea of Family Homework Power Hour. Everyone will get to spend time during this homework hour doing reading, worksheets, flashcards, coloring at the kitchen table. I'll put the homework tote up and set the timer and off we go. I will also make myself available to help. Tonight is the first night we will try it. Cross your fingers and hope for the best. (Whenever I start something new, I usually have one child kicking and screaming because it's a change) I'm going to try to involve even my 18 month old. She loves to color and be read to. I know she won't last the full hour but it will good for what she can do. I think I will have some quiet toys she can play with after she has had her full of homework.
School is your child's job.
Make sure they understand that you expect them to do their best work and to finish their homework.
If the homework is consistently too difficult talk with the teacher.
Using rewards can be helpful but shouldn't be over used. Some non-material things can work as great rewards like: Getting five extra minutes playing video games, Picking the book you read at bedtime. Do what works for your child.
What you do at home to support your child's learning is very important.
Parent Involvement=Student Success
I'm so excited to start using the homework tote and the family power hour.
FYI: This Presentation was done by Claudia who represents The Family Information and Resource Center. Find them online at or read their blog at

Monday, February 1, 2010

A toy I can make!

I am not the most creative person, and I rarely make things but I have found an easy toy that my babies have enjoyed, and I actually can make it. I have made one for each of my kids and now I've made a few for neighbors and family for presents. Here are the simple steps.
Materals needed: empty can with lid (I use a hot cocoa container or a formula can)
used canning lids
colorful stickers
razor blade or knife
Step 1: Clean out the can with a damp paper towel (don't get too wet because the container is cardboard
Step 2: Make a opening on the top with your razor blade or knife. The opening should be just big enough for a canning lid to slid through the opening. (pictured below)

Step 3- Decorate outside of can and each lid with stickers. I like to write the child's name on the can somewhere with a permanent marker or with stickers
Step 4: Your done! Now try it out. This is Peanut playing with her new toy. She will put all of the lids in by herself and then she brings it to me to open again and again. It's a fun game for her. She likes the praise I give her after she puts them all in.
This is the finished product. Very simple as you can see but my kids loved it between the ages of 9 months to about 2 1/2 years. Great for hand-eye coordination and fine motor skill development. It's a precursor activity to doing simple puzzles.
The toy doesn't last forever so that is why I made one for each of my kids. But hey it cost near to nothing to make and you recycle garbage! Win Win!
Let me know if any of you try it and like it. Have you made any toys you can share with us. If it's too complicated I may not be able to do it, but I'll try! =)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Reading great books to our children

I was so grateful for many other mom's who told me when I was expecting to build in reading to my first baby from day one. I took it to heart and I would read out loud to my baby when I was nursing. I also got some really fun board books as baby gifts that I would read while he sat on my lap. Somedays we could read one page, and other days we could read the whole book. But I found that if I didn't include it in the regular schedule it didn't happen. So I started reading a book before every nap and before going to bed at night. It became and still is one of my favorite time of the day. When I have more then one child who is getting ready for bed or nap time I like to let each one choose a story to read.
We don't own a ton of books but they sure get used. Part of the fun is reading a book over and over. Repetition is so good. It's fun to stop reading and have them fill in the blank, I'm surprised how much they remember.
The other thing I think is really important is having a routine of going to the library. It not only saves you money by not paying any late fees but it also is something your child will look forward to. I don't think you have to have a huge library to experience benefits from going to the library. Just by allowing your children to have the choice to pick a number of books give them some control over their environment. They are so use to having us tell them when to go to bed, what to eat, where we are going, etc. it's so healthy to give them opportunities where they get to chose.
I like to look for books that emphasis things I'm trying to teach my children. When they are learning to potty train we get books about going potty, and when we are learning about respecting others or obeying I find books that will help discuss this.
I'm sure you all know that reading has so many proven benefits to children. Without making it a priority it's sure easier said then done. Benefits I have seen from reading to my children:
1. Providing physical closeness and cuddling
2. Gives them opportunity for healthy choices
3. Develops the love of reading
4. Helps them to start recognizing words, letter for reading readiness
5. Provides learning opportunities
What ways have you noticed reading helps your kids? I'm sure we could get a top ten list.
Also where and when do you like to read to your kids?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Playlists for cleaning!

So with the new year I thought I would share a fun cleaning tip I started using a few months ago. This goes nicely with a new years resolution of keeping my house clean. This is a challenge for me so I wanted to make it fun. So being a music lover and also a wannabe fly baby I always clean to music. I also like to set a goal of getting so much done in an allotted amount of time. So I started making playlists on my I-tunes. It is awesome. I have a Blessing your home playlist, Kitchen clean up playlist, a 10 kid pickup list, a Zone clean up list. I fill the lists with my favorite music that will help energize and inspire me. This year I'm going to add a e-mail/blog read playlist. When the music is done, I need to do something else. What this does for me is it keeps me focused and doesn't let me get carried away on something so long that I forget other aspects of the day. Call me crazy but it's music therapy for me. So I'm going to fly away now and start my hourly dream clean! Happy new year goals for you.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Food Co-op

Do you enjoy having fresh fruits and veggies for your family? By providing a variety of foods to my kids I hope it is helping their diet to be well rounded and nutritious. Good habits can start young.
It can get expensive to provide a variety of fruits and veggies year round. I have found a way to save money through two Food Co-ops. One I have already blogged about (Community of Food Co-op of Utah) and I discovered a new one called Bountiful Baskets. Bountiful Baskets is in four states: Utah, Arizona, Washington, and Idaho. You get a ton of variety wonderful fresh quality. It's run by volunteers and the food is purchased in bulk so you the benefit of great prices.
Last week we got, green lettuce, radishes, celery, onions, pineapple, bananas, oranges, pears, mini watermelon, apples, and Brussels sprouts. I might have missed something. So it filled a cooler and we couldn't put the lid on it was so full. We paid 19.50 for all that. I have a friend who for several months priced it out and she always came out ahead. I don't even bother to count-it's a great deal. Anyway don't take my word for it. Check out their website. They do this every other week. I have a membership to Costco and my complaint of getting fruit and veggies their is you get a ton of one item. It wasn't working because a lot of the produce would go bad before we could use it all. The amount you get with the co-op is a reasonable amount for one family to eat without getting sick of it before its gone.
I had been doing another food-coop which I still also love but their isn't a pickup site close to my home so it makes it more difficult. The Community of Food Coop of Utah is done once a month and includes not only fruits and vegetables but grains and meats. They even take food stamps. It's worth checking into as well!