Tot School

Petra and Jasper, 35 months and 25 months respectively, sitting outside in the morning to wave me goodbye as I head off to work

 It’s been another busy week in our home, filled with tot activities, high school football, gymnastics, school, work, friends, play dates, timeouts, visitations, doctor visits, Crossfit and putting together some shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. As I’m writing this, I’m realizing I’m probably too tired to tackle this post. To make matters worse, I have no great photos for this week. I’ve been using my Iphone for photos for the last month, and honestly, I need to take out the real camera to get some better shots.

As far as tot activities go, I saw some neat advances with the children this week.

PUZZLES – Petra is much, much better with puzzles. She completed the last half of this fire truck puzzle together by herself. I had to give her clues, but my clues were only words, I didn’t actually touch the pieces. I was amazed she did so well. It seems like it just happened overnight.

BIKE RIDING – Jasper improved a lot on his strider bike. He is now picking up his feet and gliding for several seconds at a time – balancing on his bike and turning without problems – with his feet off the ground.

BALLOON BATTING – I blew up some balloons one day for a very simple motor skill exercise. They tossed them up in the air and volleyed them back up with their hands. It doesn’t take much to impress me – I was thrilled to see Jasper keeping it up in the air for 4-5 hits at a time.

OHTER ACTIVITES – included more Kumon mazes, painting, building with blocks, and lots of bike riding for Jasper. Petra hasn’t shown much interest in Jasper’s bike, but the seat is way too low for her. Her birthday is this week and she will be getting one of her own – in her favorite color: pink — so it will be interesting to see how much she enjoys it.

SHOEBOX PACKING – We also packed 10 boxes this year for Operation Christmas Child. I was hoping to get the children’s help packing shoeboxes but concluded they are still too young. Jasper was best at unpacking them. If they were accessible, meaning not behind locked doors, he was taking toys out of them.

GYMNASTICS – The children have been enjoying gymnastics. We have been focusing on helping them learn to listen and follow directions! No small feat for any child, but especially for these two little ones. Petra’s skill level is improving. She just started this past September in a 2 and3 year old class (without mommy or daddy) and is now moving up a level to the 3 and 4 year old class. I’m hoping this will also help her listen and obey. She does better around older children who are setting a good example for her. Jasper is also moving up from the mommy and me class (which should really be called the daddy and me class for us) to the 2 and 3 year old class without parents! And they are both starting to go 2 times a week!

And don’t forget to head on over to 1+1+1=1 and check-in on the rest of the mommies that are tot school blogging.

Tot School

Eating corn dogs at the fair!

(Jasper is 25 months; Petra is 35 months)

I saw the following comment from Carisa at 1+1+1=1 and laughed because it describes me so well these days. She said “So, not only is this post up WAY late, but I have been really off of my Tot School Momma game lately.  Especially in the photo department. But as we all know-tots are learning whether I am super intentional about it or not and certainly even if I don’t take photos!  ha ha!”

And that is how my days continue. Luckily, my children are always learning. Even if I don’t have perfectly coordinated activities for them to do each day or photographs of what took place.

We are continuing with lots of simple activities.

Petra continued working on her mazes this week. She has successfully completed the first 14 pages of her Kumon book – which includes 28 mazes. They are beginning to get more complicated … and most times she can do them perfectly on the first try. I realized she is holding the pen up high so that she can see the maze better; when she holds it normal her hand blocks the picture and she has to draw blindly.

We also did simple things like playing with play dough, puzzles, and this flarp.

Grandma bought the children some Eboo Read To Me Puzzle Pairs. Petra has really enjoyed these. The first time we used them I put out about 6 pairs at once – placing the words on one side of the table and the pictures on the other side. I read the words to her and she had to find the matching picture. Some of them were super easy. For instance it would say “the banana is yellow” and she had to find the picture of the banana to go with it. Others were difficult. One pair said “these turn colors in the autumn” and she was suppose to find the leaves. She didn’t get this one. In fact she missed maybe two out of the entire box of pairs.

The weather is finally pleasant outside. Most days the high is around 78-81 degrees. So we’ve been outside more riding bikes and walking. In the last two weeks we have also been to our church’s fall festival and also to the North Florida Fair. I’ll try to post photos of this soon!

One day I took Petra and Jasper outside to find some roly-polys – also known as pill bugs. We made a nice pill bug palace which consisted of a plastic container holding dirt, decaying leaves, bark, rocks and other items, and then went on a hunt for some small roly-polys that could use a good home. We never found any! I couldn’t believe it. The directions I had even said the fall was a good time to find them. I uncovered so many rocks, and dug around and still nothing. Finally I recruited dad into the hunt – and we still came up empty handed. The only bugs we saw were ants, millipedes, grubs, and this earthworm. Jasper was thrilled to hold it; and of course Petra wouldn’t touch it.

Other simple things we have done include: playing with Connect Four peices – I encourage the children to drop them in the contraption – and have tried to get them to learn to put all red in one slot and all black in another. Petra can handle this without a problem – Jasper doesn’t quite grasp the concept yet – or maybe doesn’t care.

And Petra did more math counting and matching. Yes, that her in her PJs….first thing in the morning is when I have the most focused time to do tot activities.

Also, if any of you feel like giving helpful advice – I’d like some suggestions on how to cover/paint the children’s red table. We NEVER intended to get this color. It was an accident. We thought we picked out the white table from Ikea. But I am so TIRED of it and the awful color it brings to the photos. Any suggestions??

And don’t forget to head on over to 1+1+1=1 and check-in on the rest of the mommies that are tot school blogging

Sweet & Salty Breakfast … Introducing Veggies in the Morning

My husband LOVES eggs and bacon for breakfast. He never tires of it. But the rest of the family could use a change now and then. In fact, Jasper has gotten to the point where all he wants for breakfast is fruit, which I am fine with. It is a perfect raw breakfast and healthy. But sometimes I wish he had more sustenance.

This morning I was craving oven baked broccoli, a recipe I found at Elana’s Pantry. We had it a few nights ago and I gobbled it up then. So I decided to make a large bowlful this morning thinking that I would bring it to work for lunch. Alas, there is none left to bring to work.

A lot of folks that eat raw, like to have green salads for breakfast. We often drink green smoothies, but I don’t usually serve up veggies at breakfast.

Completely unplanned I decided to go ahead and give the children some with their breakfast. It was a hit with Jasper. He had strawberries, red grapes, and baked broccoli for breakfast. And honestly it was a good mix. I cooked the broccoli longer than the recipe called for – until it was dark and CRUNCHY.  It had a salty and tangy flavor…kindof like salt and vinegar chips. And then the fruit brought a nice juicy sweetness to the mixture.

Jasper gobbled up about 10-15 small pieces of broccoli this morning. Petra already had oatmeal and fruit, so she only ate a few pieces of broccoli.

Overall, I would give this breakfast an A in customer satisfaction. It was the best breakfast I have seen Jasper eat in weeks. But not something I would recommend for every day.

But with that said, I’m honestly looking forward to having it again in a few days. If you aren’t willing to dig into the little trees for breakfast, then consider it for a snack. This would make a great snack for young children.

Fitness Friday – Staying Positive

There are so many things in life I love right now. One of those things continues to be Crossfit. I have a love/hate relationship with it to be honest. As one of my fellow Crossfitters said yesterday, Crossfit is the hardest thing (or most horrible thing) I love doing every day. It does have a tendency to test you each and every time.

I walked in yesterday complaining. Our warm-up every day usually starts with a quarter mile jog. “I don’t like running,” I said. My dear husband suggested I row instead. In seconds the words, “I don’t like rowing either” popped out of my mouth. And just as I correct my children at home and remind them to speak positively and to find the blessings in life, there was my trainer giving me the same reprimand. It’s funny how I try to be so careful in other areas in my life and at home, and so quickly slipped into this rotten behavior at the gym—A place that I am blessed to be able to even go to.

The new rule at the gym is that you are required to follow any negative comment with a positive comment. I love this rule! So I thought about it…and thought about it. What do I love about Crossfit, I thought? And honestly I was having a hard time because I did not feel like working out. Finally, I said “But I am glad that I have the opportunity to see my husband during lunch here at the gym.” Indeed, this is my most favorite part about Crossfit these days.

Here’s the article on staying positive at CrossFit by CrossFit Fire. The bottom line: “CrossFit is about making you do the things you would otherwise choose not to do. It’s about pushing yourself to get uncomfortable, and keep going. CrossFit is about constantly varied, and highly functional movements, and that makes it hard. Hard is good, because it also makes it effective.”

Yesterday’s workout was as grueling as ever:

5 rounds of:

  • 1 min rowing (count the calories)
  • 1 min 55 lb push press overhead (count the # of reps) (men had 75lbs)
  • 1 min 20” box jumps (count the # of reps) (men had 24” jump)
  • 1 min rest

Both Thomas and I scored 219 points. I was happy with this score. Thomas beat me in the rowing by a lot, and by three in the push presses. And I beat him by a lot in the box jumps. Just to give you an idea of how this broke out -because doing just 1 minute at a time might be deceiving without actually experiencing it – during this workout I did 90 push presses with a 55 lb bar over my head. That means I pushed a total of 4,950 lbs over my head. And that was just 1/3 of the workout.

Our gym is hosting a Thanksgiving paleo picnic next Saturday! Everyone has to bring a paleo dish.  I’m so excited about this opportunity to go and try some new foods. I have really been struggling with finding paleo dishes we all like. And I have seriously thought about ordering a cookbook this month but haven’t decided on which one. In the meantime, my trainers recommend this website – elana’s pantry – and I love it. Check it out.

Oh, and I do have some new goals:

  • Be able to do 1 pullup without bands
  • Be able to do 10 men’s pushups – chest to ground without stopping
  • No eating after 7pm
  • Exercise 4 times a week
  • And I need to make healthier choices with my food, especially when I eat out

And don’t forget to head on over to Fit Mommy Friday and check-in on the rest of the mommies in the challenge.

Tot School – Starting Again

Over the last week, tot school activities have picked up again. Thank goodness. At one point Thomas and I decided a reason the children weren’t behaving as well was because their minds weren’t as active. And we are finally getting back on track.

In the past two weeks we have done lots of activities that are EASY on mom, since I didn’t have a lot of planning time. It is sad in a way because I have so many activities and themed ideas that I have purchased, and really just not enough time to do it. So now I have a pile of unused activities and I was starting to get overwhelmed. I need to get it organized and get it started. I used to only have unfinished quilting projects, now I have unfinished tot school activities stacking up!! Arrgh!

Here are some of the simple things we have done this week.

Big Sis (this is what I’ve decided to call our older daughter since I’m not allowed to use her name) has math homework most nights, so Petra wanted some math homework also. The simplest thing I could come up with on the spot was to draw some shapes and have her count the shapes and match it to the appropriate number. She did great on this! This is something she could do with little to no help very easily if she just did it more often. My plan is to have her do this about twice a week and see how far she comes. I’d like to see some perfection on this soon. It takes very little time to set up this activity and complete so I have no excuses.

Kumon workbooks make for more simple activities. This week I took 10 minutes to cut out the first 10-15 pages of the My Book of Easy Mazes and inserted them into sheet protectors. I have them stored in a large 3-ring binder that provides a lot more room for more mazes when this book is finished. I like the idea of just adding in the next level behind it when this one is completed. But even better is how well this works for the children. Using a dry-erase marker they can try the same maze over and over again until it’s perfect. This is SO much better than just doing it once. I love that they can practice until its right. Petra is learning the “rules” for using this book. She has to get a maze perfect before moving on to the next maze – which means no touching the walls. She has to do both the front and back of the page before moving to the next page. And she can’t color on the page until she has completed and perfected the maze. And of course she is learning to wipe the page clean before moving on to the next. And these pages are so easy to wipe that it isn’t a problem. We have spent almost every day on one or two mazes, and some days Petra has completed 3-4 pages. Jasper is also enjoying them a little – but he isn’t quite ready for them. He has attempted the first one or two mazes, but it is obvious we probably need to wait a month or more before doing much more with him on this.

Letter Identification was another quick and easy activity. I had about 5-10 minutes in the morning before the nanny arrived, the kitchen was clean, and I wanted to do an activity with the children before heading to work. This poster is easy to access as it is right beside the children’s little table. So I moved the table out of the way and we read through the big and little letters. Then I had the children find the letters I called out. I called out both little letters and big letters and they had to find them. They both do equally well at this; sometimes I actually think Jasper does better because he is more patient to look for the letters.

We also spent some time on puzzles this week. Some mornings I get one-on-one time with the little ones. Jasper will wake up early and Petra will sleep in, or reverse. One morning Jasper and I had an hour together alone. During that time we worked on this fire truck floor puzzle. I am OVERWHELMED when I try to do these floor puzzles with both of them so I try to save them for when I can spend time with just one of them. This puzzle is too advanced for him, but he did help. He found all the pieces with the wheels on them. And found pieces with the ladder and rope, and so forth. And then I had him put some of it together, with help. The finished puzzle was great and we left it for Petra to see.
I also took out some new puzzles for Petra to work on. The animal puzzle you see below in the picture is also too advanced for her. So I took off just the heads of the animals and had her add them back. She did this twice this week and really enjoyed it. Next I’ll probably take off the bodies. And before long I hope she can do it all on her own. The puzzle says for ages three and up – and she will be three in 18 days – so I hope it’s not long before she can tackle this on her own.

The children have both been screaming more than I care for. But Jasper’s screams are and have always been ear peircing. This week I decided why to encourage it in a better place – maybe if I take them some place and let them get it all out of their system then it will solve the problem. The best acoustics in our house is in the bathroom. So I toted them both up to the bathroom and told them to scream as loud as they could, over and over.  Jasper decided that since I was telling him to scream, that he would spit instead. =) of course he is not going to do what I ask. Did I mention that he just turned 2 and you can tell! But here is a photo of them screaming, for the 3 seconds that they did.

We try not to let the children watch many movies or videos. Usually, if they watch them while I’m home it’s because I want about 20 minutes to cook in the kitchen. But I’ve noticed that they aren’t helping me in the kitchen as much, which I’m not happy about. So I think I’ll be stopping this. But I wanted to mention this because I thought it was interesting..even though its not tot school related. I let them watch Pooh’s Heffalump movie this week. The end result was pretty tramautic. Petra spent quite a bit of the movie worried about the baby Heffalump losing his mommy and then burst into tears at the end of the movie when she saw me – completely freaked out about it. I learned my lesson…I’ll have to be more careful.

So you can see, not much going on here. But we are gearing things back up. Hopefully more activities will equal less screaming.

And don’t forget to head on over to 1+1+1=1 and check-in on the rest of the mommies that are tot school blogging.