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Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Very Long Break!

Wow! It's been over a year since I've posted on this blog.  A lot has gone on and changed in a year.   William's second birthday is quickly approaching and we've been busy preparing Minion themed decor.

Keelyn after a rough transition has settled into her role as a JK student.  She's been busy creating glittery Valentine's for all of her school buddies.

We've moved into a new home we are almost at the 6 month point.  I remember it seemed like moving here would never happen as we watched the build process but it did and here we are. Settling in, trying to get though the hiccups of a new build and enjoying getting to know our neighbours a lot better.

Anyway I think a year break is long enough and I'm ready to go on with this.  Funny enough I have been blogging but in a professional sense.  You can check out my teaching blog

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Welcome to Kindergarten

It's February which means we will be registering our little girl for Kindergarten. I cannot believe that Keelyn will be starting school this September.  Was she not just born?  Master her first words and steps?  How is that my baby is entering the big kid world?  While I am stunned I am also super excited for her to go to school.  She is going to love it and will thrive in the environment.  She is currently in preschool 3 mornings per week and it has been a good spot for her.  It's a play based environment and it has cured some of her shyness.  

Anyway with Kindergarten around the corner I've been thinking of some activities we could work on her readiness skills.  I'm not a big fan of sit down work book pencil and paper type activities.  Keelyn likely wouldn't mind doing those but I like learning to be more hands on and incidental.  Many skill building activities can be done just using things you have around the house.  For example if you want to work on fine motor than have your child try moving cotton balls from one bowl to another with tongs.  Simple math building activities could be count stairs while you are going up and down or have your child put away the utensils matching the pieces to the correct spot.  Have your child practice letters by rolling playdough snakes and forming the letters.  Display their names in at least 3 visible spots at their level.  

Anyway I've compiled a list of activities for Kindergarten readiness.  It's pretty comprehensive and don't expect that your child has to master these activities.  In fact many of these skills will continue to be built on during Kindergarten.  The activities are meant to be hands on and fun not to place stress on your child.  If they aren't  showing readiness skills then pick something that is developmentally appropriate for them.

Kindergarten Readiness Skills

·         Recognize/Identify first and last name. 
o    Have name displayed in at least 3 child visible spots in the house (fridge, placemat on table, bedroom door etc)
·         Spell first name
o    Use stamps, stickers, paint, fridge magnets, orally
·         Identify the letters and sounds in their first name
o    Point out letters in environment.  E.G. while at the grocery store, say, “hey there’s a K. You have a K in your name too!”
·         Print all or some of the letters in their name
o    Use white board, aquadoodle, paint, writing in sand, glitter, special pens/markers, playdough
o    Start with one letter and work on for a period of time and progress to the next letter once it is mastered.
·         Identify letter and letter sounds
o    To me, I find letter sounds are more important that recognition.  Knowing the names of the letters will  not teach you how to read.  You need to know the letter sounds in order to blend sounds.  However it’s a personal decision.  I teach them in combination.  So I say something like, “this is a K it makes the Kuh sound.  What sound does K make?  That’s right K makes the Kuh sound”
o    Letter factor and Phonics Farm are excellent DVD’s
o    Alphabet books, pointing out letters in your environment
o    Letter of the week.  I say start with the letter sounds in your child’s name
·         Reading
o    Understand that print contains a constant message. So their favourite book the words are always the same every time you read it
o    Hold the book right side up and properly turn pages
o    Identify front, back cover, title page, title, illustrations
o    Talk about author and illustrator and what they do
o    You can start finger tracking print while you read but a little advanced for them
o    Leave out predictable words and have them fill in, “e.g. Mama called the dr. And the dr. Said.... “
o    Talk about Beginning, Middle and End of stories.  So when you finish reading books say to them this happened first, then this next and finally this.  Eventually they will be able to recap stories too.
o    Ask questions when reading.  “E.G. why do you think the monkey has a sad look on his face?”
·         Repeat familiar Nursery Rhymes and songs
·         Provide lots of drawing materials even if all they appear to do is “random scribbles”.  Have them tell you what their picture is about and record in quotations.  Eventually have them do the writing.  Again their writing might just be random scribbles. 
·         If they are beginning to draw figures check out Mat Man on You Tube.  You can make your own mat man


·         Have them set the dinner table making sure everyone has the same pieces
·         Put away cutlery and sort into correct spaces
·         Sort pasta, beans, buttons, money. You can use one of those fruit/veggie trays from the dollar store for sorting
·         Use the vocabulary “Small, medium, large”.  Identify common items around them e.g. This car is small, and this car is large.  You might want to leave out medium at first
·         Work on counting forwards and backwards to gain an understanding that numbers increase when you count forward and decrease when you count back
o    Count stairs, steps, forks, cups, fingers, toes, count back from 5 or 10 and “blast off”
·         Play with a variety of different sized containers in the sink and talk about which container holds more liquid or less and why they think that.  Test it out
·         Use magnet numbers on a cookie sheet 0-5 and place that many small objects under each number (e.g. beans, pennies, cars, candies, stickers)
·         Basic patterns like colour
o    Use stickers or Bingo Dabbers and create a red, yellow, red, yellow, red (abab pattern. Don’t be afraid to use the language you made an abab pattern)
Social Skills/Self-Help Skills

·         Independent dressing (socks, undies, pants, shirt) 
·         Opening up lunch pack and containers.  Repacking
·         Packing up school bag
·         Putting on outdoor clothing (coat, hat, mitts, shoes, boots, snowpants)
·         First try and then ask for help
·         Independently using the toilet (wiping, washing hands etc.)
·         Practice snaps, buttons, buckles, zippers, laces (if you plan on sending footwear with laces. I recommend that you do not do this)
Fine Motor

·         Cutting
o    Playdough, paper, newspaper, magazines
·         Gluing paper using a glue stick and white glue
·         Rolling playdough snakes, and balls in hand and using thumb and index finger
·         Clipping clothes pins onto a string or onto a piece of cardstock
·         Transferring pom poms or cotton balls from one bowl to another with tongs
·         Transferring beads with chop sticks or tweezers
·         Lacing beads or pasta on string
·         Sewing using a plastic or large needle yarn into Styrofoam trays
·         Use hole punches and paper
·         Put pennies into a slot (penny bank or container with cut out slot)
·         Press money into silly putty or playdough
·         Pick up coins
Gross Motor

·         Throwing and catching balls (over hand, underhand)
·         Bouncing a ball and kicking and stopping
·         Jumping two feet, one foot
·         Balance on one foot
·         Practice walking up the stairs and down alternate feet
·         Take a bean bag and toss and catch
·         Instruct to put bean bag “Under, over, on top of, beside, across, behind, in front of”
·         Hulla hoops (catch, jump in)
·         Catch a ball with a scoop

Friday, February 8, 2013

Snow Day!

It has been 3 years since my husband and I have had a snow day and on a Friday... Could a better gift have been given? We are both teachers and while I am still on leave for a week (sniff) we are very excited to have him home!

Right now Daddy and Keelyn are playing outside in the glorious snow while William and I are inside. Little buddy is finally napping and I am drinking coffee and searching banana cookie recipes. It is certainly an enjoyable moment!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Start 'Em Early!

My daughter and I love to make crafts.  We spend a lot of quality time together gluing and glittering, stamping and painting.  It's been my hope that by starting William in the crafts early that he will share this love with Keelyn and I.  Right now his favourite part of crafts is climbing up on the little chairs and sitting on the table or shoving Valentine's Day confetti in his mouth (yeah that was fun fishing out 30 tiny red hearts out of his mouth) but he's starting to get it.

He really seems to enjoy using markers and painting.  Both are easy to do with his level of fine motor. He can hold the tools easily because they are thick and he doesn't have to apply lot of pressure to see the marks on the paper.  He still puts everything in his mouth so I make paint for him using flour, warm water and food colouring. I also have him use heavier cardstock type paper.  When it dries the paper curls a little.  But I'm trying to flatten it out as I'm going to have it framed for Daddy for Father's Day!

Crafting with small children is very messy.  But it's also a lot of fun!

Making an 80th Birthday card for Nana :)

What does this do?

Painting time hooray! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Our Elf Sammy

I've recently discovered that you either love The Elf on the Shelf or you find him creepy and/or annoying.  Our family falls in the first camp.  We love our Elf and he has provided so much joy in such a short time.  Keelyn named the little guy Sammy and calls him Sammy, Sam or Silly Thing.  Even if she is grouchy in the morning she perks up as soon as she comes down the stairs and begins her search for Sammy.  When she finds him it's sheer excitement and giggles.  She also taken to talking to him periodically through the day, singing and telling him stories.  She will repeatedly tell us, "Sammy can't talk to us because Santa said so but he listens!"

My husband and I have have had as much fun moving Sammy around to his new locations.  It's kind of become a challenge to see who can find the funnier spot for him.  I have to admit some of the locations are bordering on inappropriate but Keelyn doesn't get that yet.  Some of my friends have their elves doing great mischievous things like bathing in bowls of marshmallows or making pancakes and leaving a mess.  I think we might try out one or two of those kind of things :)

 We haven't really used him as a discipline technique but it has been a lot of fun for all of us and a family tradition that will carry on!

A full-bodied red!

Tarzan Sammy

Sammy on the Rocks

Sam, the ladies man!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Happy 3rd Birthday Keelyn!

Today was my daughter's 3rd Birthday.  I cannot believe she has been part of our lives for 3 years.  In some way it feels like just yesterday she was born and in other ways it seems like she has always been here.  I have big plans for a play by play of the day but I'm exhausted from today's events so I'll be back.  In the mean time Happy Birthday Baby Girl!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

I Am Thankful!

I have a pretty fortunate life.  I pretty well want for nothing (minus a few pairs of designer heels and maybe some handbags and of course a vitamix blender), I have a great husband, adorable children and loving family and friends.  I'm feeling pretty sentimental and mushy right now so if you aren't in that kind of mood you may want to skip this read.  I'm still on a high from Thanksgiving weekend where I had 3 fabulous suppers with family and it's the eve of my beautiful daughter Keelyn's 3rd birthday.  I cannot believe she is turning 3, honestly where has the time gone?  Anyway these are my top  things that I am feeling thankful for.  I hope all of you had a lovely Thanksgiving!

1. Awesome family - I'm so lucky to have an immediate family and inlaws that are caring and supportive.  Even when they don't necessarily agree with my decisions they are there backing me up anyway.  My extended family and my husband's are the same way.  My husband and I rely on our family for a lot, especially now that we have children.  We live in one city and commute for work to another and while the commute is taxing I can't imagine living even an hour away from family.

2. Amazing friends - Old, new, just beginning I am totally blessed in the friend area!  It wasn't always this way.  Growing up I was painfully shy and awkward around people and making and maintaining friendships was really difficult for me.  But I've overcome that and I'm so happy I have because my friends are so important to me.

3. Good neighbours - I don't care how lovely your home is.  It can be totally pinterest worthy but if you don't have good neighbours then none of that matters.  We are lucky to have good neighbours.  They are the kind that you can call (or text) to borrow a cup of sugar, watch your kids, have a barbque with or just sit and drink tea.  We are moving in the Summer and while I'm excited for the new house I'm totally bummed to leave our neighbours :(  I

4. Being able to breastfeed - This might seem silly as breastfeeding is suppose to be natural.  Wrong, for me it has been nothing but.  With both my children I have battled quite successfully low supply issues.  It has been a long, hard journey with lots of tears, medication and pain.  However with support from good friends, family and an awesome Lactation Consultant I am doing it!  William is 7 months old and we are going strong. I made it to 18 months with Keelyn.  I'm so proud of my efforts.

5. Overcoming Post Partum Depression - I haven't talked about this on here at all. I don't know why, I guess putting it out here seems a little scary to me.  But I do openly talk about it in real life.  I struggled when William was born.  I developed major anxiety and my frustration level was at an all time high.  I could not make decisions without it sending me into a major anxiety attack.  I remember I would be sitting on the couch my stomach in absolute knots trying to decide if Keelyn should wear a sweater or not.  I would lose my cool really easily and felt angry, lost, sad and alone.  I started having harmful thoughts toward my self and the children.  William did not sleep well and I slept worse.  It would get to the point where I would try to sleep and nap but it just wouldn't come. Every night I would tell myself in my head over and over that all I had to do was just feel better.  That tomorrow I would try harder and it would be okay.  About 3 months in I realized that it wasn't just and adjustment that needed to happen. That it was something more.  With the help of my husband, friends, family and doctor I was able to pull through it.  I'm doing okay now.  I smile and enjoy my children and I'm so thankful for that!

6. Facebook - okay this might seem ridiculous but yes I am thankful for Facebook.  It has allowed me to stay connected to old time acquaintances  family members and their children.  I feel that friendships have become deeper and stronger because it's just so easy to stay in contact with them.  I'm not a talk on the phone girl but it's just so easy to shoot of a quick hello :)

7. My husband - What can I say usually he's a pretty great guy.  He is a whizz in the kitchen, great with a hammer and a paint brush.  Wrestles around with the kids and can whip up a great omelette! Now if he would only tuck in his chair after dinner or pick up his socks he might possibly be the perfect husband :)

8.  My kids - This is probably the one or should I say two things that I am most thankful for.  They are pretty amazing little beings.  Keelyn is spunky, sassy, silly and really smart!  She uses words like "gingerly" in the right context and tells silly stories.  She's tough as nails and a delicate little flower all in one.  William is the "ham" of the family.  You can tell already that he's going to be the life of the party.  He always has the biggest smiles for us and for anyone really.  He laughs and squeals at all moments of the day. He's has a bit of mischievous streak too and gets into everything.  In the last two weeks alone I've fished out a stamp, bread tag, piece of wrapping paper and a cat toy from his mouth. I love my two babies!