Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Chit-Chat with Ben + Claire

Me: Do you want to take a bath?
C: Yeah, but a short bath. Not a long bath.
Me: Why not a long bath?
C: Because my fingers will get lines on them.

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B: [Sigh] OH. That guy is smoking.
Me: Where? In that truck?
B: Yeah. But it's okay, because he's a grandpa.

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C: Um, hey Mommy. When I'm four, I can, um... drive the car.
Me: Silence {and big eye emoji}

Saturday, March 4, 2017

National Reading Month with Nat Geo Kids

March is a fun month for reading. The kids had a great time exploring literature when Dr. Seuss came to their school on Thursday to kick off Read Across America and National Reading Month. Claire was a little frightened of the hat-wearing creature, but equally excited.

Speaking of National Reading Month, Benjamin is starting to read some leveled readers and is doing an awesome job sounding out words and using sight words and context clues to guide him. I'm so proud of him. We even went for froyo this week when Gawbee was in town because he mastered his ninth sight word list of the year and received another certificate.
We received a package from National Geographic Kids full of a variety of their kid readers that range in levels. Sticking to Nat Geo's name, they have incredible graphics and are non-fiction reads which are essential to develop critical thinking and increase vocabulary. My kids love fiction the most, like most kids, so it's nice to have more non-fiction readers for us to stick into our rotation.
One of the new ones is a Level 1 reader with a page on the left for the parent to read and a page on the right for the new reader (like Benjamin). It gives the kids a break to be a listener and then opens up the floor for them to practice their skills.
We even received a Spanish reader, which is awesome because we're heavily considering a bilingual preschool and kindergarten program for the kids starting in August.

These aren't our first Nat Geo Kid readers. Benjamin was excited to point out all of the others we own as they are highlighted in the back covers of the readers we received. We're kind of leveled reader junkies right now because they're so easy to transport (thin! lightweight!) and they have a fewer words per page, which allow my kids to focus on both the content and the pictures. Leveled readers like these also often focus on high frequency sight words, which we're kind of obsessed with over here.

There are also tons of non-fiction games, videos and additional readers available online to connect the learning and add the technology component to build on understanding. I may or may not have played a few games myself over the last few days...

Nat Geo Kids is on Instagram, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest. We're digging our new reading material and love that even older kids who come to visit will have something interesting to read. Benjamin's rocking the pre-reader Hop, Bunny! and can read about 75% on his own, but the Level 1 and Level 3 books we received will be used as an adult read aloud for awhile. Because the content is so great, I don't mind one bit.

I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com), May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my honest opinion on my blog. The opinions posted are my own.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Parenting Hack: Mystery Books

It's not earth-shattering or anything, but my kids love it.

In order to break away from the same repeat favorites and delve into some more buried titles in our enormous collection of children's books, I've implemented "mystery reading" books before bedtime a few times a week.

Our routine is much like most families, I presume.

Dinner is followed by bath/shower, pajamas, teeth brushing, bathroom use and books before getting tucked into bed for prayers and negotiations (because it's not always high on their list to lay in bed).

I usually grab out up to 10 books before bed, depending on the amount of time we have before the 7:30 bedtime. I hide them and one-by-one, grab one out and read. They have no say in the order, no say in the book choice and it eliminates fights over whose selection is first, last or in between.

Parenting is something else. I spend at least the majority of my time bribing, convincing, and pulling negotiations with the small people to get them to perform (more efficiently/better/at all). But this little trick is one of my favorites, because then I get to read the books I love more often, too. #winwin

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Five and {very} ALIVE

If you would've told me that in 2017 I'd have a five-year-old almost kindergartner when I was drowning in my own tears circa 2010, I wouldn't have believed you. Okay, I would have wanted to believe you.

I truly cannot believe we've made it to five years with our rainbow. Some days (okay, months), I wanted time to speed forward because my rainbow wasn't always so cheerful. He's a bit of a handful if I'm being honest. As time progressed, he definitely developed and thankfully progressed beyond only challenging. He's actually quite fun most days. He's my adventure buddy to the fullest.

He's learning a ton, swimming like a fish, skiing very well and showing me who's boss with his early reading skills. He is totally digging U.S. state geography and can tell you the five border states of Nevada (and a few other states-- thanks for the puzzle that spurred his interest, Gramie & Grandpa!). He's a junkie for travel and we sure hope he keeps that spark for adventure.

He's an introvert. Perhaps even a loner, he wants to please and is challenged by his own emotions sometimes. Anxiety can get the best of him and the unknown and uncertain and new both excites him and makes him nervous. He truly does want to please, but expresses this in a much more subtle way than his sister, who will flat out ask you about your emotions and if you're pleased with her.

His own person for sure, he's a pink-loving, princess-adoring, hotel-exploring, movie and Disney-obsessed kiddo. Life is going to throw this one some curveballs because of his tough exterior and difficulty expressing himself sometimes, but I sure hope it's kind to him. After all, this one saved us. I tell him all the time, but I will love him, forever and always. He saved us, literally speaking, from our emotional turmoil after his big brother died.

We've made it five years with a living child. With hope. Because before he was born, the hope was looking pretty bleak in the family growing department. This day five years ago gave us that second chance at parenthood. It started off rough but was worth it all. In some ways, this is also a grief birthday. Even five years and one day ago, we were fearful, anxious and unhappy. Then all of a sudden, our worlds were brightened.
He picked out his own fabulous cake-- round with chocolate in the middle and pink flowers on top with sprinkles, to be exact. We really couldn't be more different, this boy and I. But man do I love him. And here he is. All five and glorious (and sometimes exhausting) years of rainbow love.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Interactive Play + Preschooler Talk

I was sitting there enjoying my new hilarious library book, You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein, relishing in the fact that both of my children were engaging in interactive play with an another kid during our stay-and-play time at the library. Just after storytime ends, the librarian lets the kids loose with coloring sheets relating to the book theme and pulls out some LEGO and STEM toys for kids to play with for the next hour, if interested.

A nanny and the two kids she brings each week were sticking around along with a bunch of other kids. My kids colored pictures of unicorns as the theme from one of the books we read, Not Quite Narwhal (which is adorable, by the way). We laced boards and they moved onto building a DUPLO fortress with another boy Benjamin's age. That's when I grabbed my new book from our book bag and started in.

I kept reading, finishing up the first chapter, feeling grateful for the free reading time and the break from all the education books I've checked out lately. And then I heard something that caught my attention. Having no idea how this conversation was spurred, I just kept listening...

Friend: "...and then we will die and not go to heaven." (maybe he was talking about their fortress and someone capturing and killing them? Death is a hot topic with my kids, so I wasn't the least bit alarmed.)
Benjamin: "My brother is there. He is in heaven."
Friend: "Your brother died? When?"
Benjamin: "When he was a baby."
Friend: "He killed his self?"
Benjamin: "I think so."
Friend: "What age was he?"
Benjamin: "I think like 5." (because everyone is 5 when you're turning 5 this week.)
Friend: {yells to nanny} "My friend's brother died when he was a kid."
Nanny: "Sometimes that happens."
Friend: "Why does that happen?"
Benjamin: "I don't know."
Friend: "I don't know why your brother died. You tell me."

{Librarian enters to end our stay-and-play time, thus ending their engagement and my free reading time.}

Just a little light conversation between preschoolers to cap off the storytime about unicorns, penguins, narwhals and pigs. None of this made me uncomfortable. If anything, it made me delighted to hear Benjamin talking about Andrew and connecting his understanding of death and heaven to his brother, who we talk about regularly. I didn't interject, even when the nanny was involved.