Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tot School

After a few more camera issues (see previous post) I've finally gotten caught up with  school posts.  Because of said camera issues, I have only a few pictures to go with, but I do have a few things to share, never the less.

For Silas, in preschool, this week has been all about Farm Yard Tales Alphabet Lotto.  I believe I've mentioned before how OBSESSED he's been with letters, particularly sounds.  Not a morning or afternoon or evening goes by without him saying to me, "Mama! Mama!  Vvvv starts with Vest!".  He's so excited to have found a connection, it's cute and it's fun, and I love it.  We tried to play this game before, but I wasn't prepared (as in hadn't read the instructions first!) and he quickly lost interest.  A few weeks later I brought it out again, and now he requests playing the "Alphabet game" instead of reading a story before bed (usually we do both - quickly).

He's very familiar with Usborne's Farmyard Tales, we own the complete set.  I am an Usborne Books Consultant because I LOVE Usborne and this way I can earn free books with very little effort (two or so open houses a year).  He loves seeing familiar faces and objects from his books and he loves matching the pictures with their letters.  So far we've mostly just been using the cards, not so much the boards.  I think that's just cause when we match pairs together, we build roads out of them and stretch them out all over the floor or bed.

One other little share-worthy item I have is that our Tot School has moved.  Now that Oliver is sleeping in the same room as Silas, and I've created a family closet in our laundry room, I have more room in my bedroom.  I can have a more permanent location for tot/pre school things than on the kitchen table and I feel better organized.  I was really struggling trying to meet both my children's needs and I feel strongly that a major component of Tot School is one-on-one, focused time with mom and I was NOT getting that.  I see other moms doing Tot school together with their little ones, but I'm just not there.  I'm not sure if it's just the ages of my boys, or if it's something I'm doing, or just the way things are, but I decided that something needed to change so we could all enjoy it more.  
Now I stagger their naps on Tot School days (days we don't have any outside morning commitments) and it's been so much more peaceful and lovely.  Oliver goes to sleep shortly after noon and I spend 30-45 minutes with Silas in my bedroom.  Then I tuck him into bed and I have a bit of time to get supper prepped and a bit of time for tea and a book (I really whiz through supper lol!).  Then Ollie wakes up and we have Tot School until Silas wakes up.  It's been working really well, I'm so pleased!
Silas doesn't know it yet, but I'm creating a little "alone time" nook for him in our closet.  I'm not sure how or when I'm going to use it, just that I would like to start a bit of individual play time for the boys during our days.  It seems like the two of them get in ruts at certain times of the day and it would be beneficial for them both to have a few things to do separately for a half hour or so.  Silas would have access to his 'big boy toys' like his marble maze, library books or puzzles and Oliver would sit at the table and have a few age-appropriate activities of his own.  I may switch this up with a few toys in his crib and see how it goes.  In any case, once his little cubby is complete, I may post pictures as it will be intertwined with Tot School as well.
So that's been it for Tot School this week . . . please see this blog for some more specific, well-organized Tot School sessions!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Disorganized? Me?

I've been having more camera issues.

First a printer that broke down, so no disk slot for downloading pictures.  Then I couldn't find the cord that connects my camera to the usb for a more direct connection.  It's been sitting on this desk for the last bloomin' year and a half, of course I couldn't find it once I needed it.  Then I find a printer on sale, half price, with a disk slot, hurray!  Can't find the disk.  I know it wasn't in the old printer.  I put it on the kitchen shelf.  Scott pointed it out to me, then I decided that wasn't a safe place for it, so I moved it.  Somewhere it'd be safe.  I vaguely recall putting it in a slightly odd location, and there was wood there.  A shelf, or cupboard, or something.  I even remember having a notion that I probably should just leave it there, cause I've had it happen before where I couldn't find things once I'd moved them to a so-called safer location.  Yeah, that happened again. For the love of Pete, why didn't I just put it back in  my camera?  A few days of fruitless searching and off I go to the store to buy a disk.  I buy the wrong one.  Can you believe it?  I could have sworn I had an SD in my camera.  Turns out it's an XD.  Huh.  Too bad the XD is three times the price of an SD!

Anyhow, I think I finally have all my ducks in a row.  The way things have been going lately, you'd think I was a complete and total disorganized nut, but honestly, I'm generally on top of things.  Sort of.  Those of you who know me may disagree.  Let's just say that I'm better than many, better than I used to be, and I'm working on areas that need improvement!

A new Tot School post tomorrow (hopefully!) with the one or two pictures I did manage to get together.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My morning

Okay, okay, I couldn't help myself.  I love routines, I love seeing the routines of others and I love sharing my own.  I was totally inspired to write down my own morning routine here by Steady Mom's post.  So here it goes!

6am  If I'm lucky, I'm just getting out of bed now.  Often my youngest, little Oll, will be awake before this hour.  If I'm really lucky, both little boys are still asleep and I get a bit of time to myself!  Once my baby's older, I believe I may have a "room time" for them.  Silas did at one time play quietly by himself, as long as I left him a little snack in a lunch box for him, but once the baby came along, that all went out the window.  Anyhow!

Let's say I'm really lucky and the boys are both sleeping.  I get dressed, do my hair and make up and wipe down the bathroom (just the sink, counter and sometimes toilet).  Usually at this point Silas is awake, finding his favorite toys from yesterday.  I'll start breakfast and run water in the sink for dishes, then put away last night's dishes from the rack.

645 This is the absolute latest Oliver wakes up (unless ill, off schedule or what have you - there are just no absolutes with kids, are there?).  It's a great day when breakfast is ready and I can just pop him into his seat and put some food in front of him.  If breakfast isn't quite ready, I'll make do with a bit of fruit.  Silas will sit and eat too while I wash up the supper dishes.  This is also when I become aware of Tawny stumbling around in the back ground getting ready for school.  Often she'll have a bit of whatever I've prepared for the boys.  If she opts for something else, I get it!

700 I start some laundry and get Oliver dressed.  While I'm in that area of the house, I make the beds and tidy the bedrooms, then pack the diaper bag for the day, if necessary.  I almost always have to convince Silas to get dressed at this point.  He knows I'll reserve a few minutes to help him and if he horses around too much, then he's got to stay in the laundry room until he's dressed himself.

730  By this time I try and be sitting at the computer with my own breakfast (tea and toast usually, with a piece of fruit).  I have a rule:  When my tea is done, computer time is done as well.  I turn the computer right off just to be sure!  Once it's done, I wipe the counters and table, then sweep the floor. A few days a week, I'll vacuum but only if I know we'll be home after taking my daughter to school because I often don't have time to finish before we have to go.

800 I get Silas and Oliver ready to go out.  This is easy in the summer, difficult in the winter and somewhere in between for spring and fall.  Ideally, I would have everything I need to bring with me waiting by the door, but once the boys are dressed, I remember that I need to grab the library books, or the recycling.  I should really set aside some time the evening before for this, because while I'm running around getting these things, Oliver's mad because I won't let him go outside by himself (he'll go play in the mud puddles, no question!).

815 All of us, including my teenage daughter Tawny, are in the car and heading for town. Tawny gets dropped off at the high school and we get on with our day.  Depending on what exact day it is, we either stay in town or head back home.  I just finished reading Steady Days and have fine tuned my daily/weekly routine to be more repetitive so I don' t have to refer to it constantly.  So now I know that at 830, our morning activity starts, be it Art on Mondays or Park Day on Fridays.

930 Snack time!  My boys LOVE to eat!  If I need to I prep the next activity.

945 Second morning activity, usually a continuation of what we were doing before the much needed nourishment break.  For example, more baking on Saturdays or more Strong Start on Tuesdays.

1130 Lunch time!  If we were in town for an activity or for errands, I try and be home about this time for lunch. Things go down hill quickly if we're still in town and I'm out of snacks!

1200 Book time.  We focus mostly on books Oliver would like, lots of look and say picture books without a lot of words.  If he's too tired, he'll just go straight to bed for a nap.

And that's it for mornings!  Things slow down a little for afternoons as I'm more of a morning person - and so are the little ones.  Maybe that'll be a post for next week's 30 Minute Challenge?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What I'm Reading

A whole month gone by!  I'be been through so many books this month, but here's what's on top of the pile right now:

In the bedroom:

My Opa gave this to me to read when I was about 15.  I don't remebmer if I got all the way through the book, I suspect not as it's quite hefty - although a really good read.  My Opa passed away this May and while visiting my Oma, I spotted in it on the shelf was inspired to reread it.  It's been well worth it so far!  This is such an interesting read.  Any time I go anywhere, be it around my ranch, to a neighbouring city or a whole other country, I always seem to catch myself looking around, wondering what it looked like while still inhabited by hunter/gatherer societies.  This book describes many, many aspects of that world and captures my imagination.  I love that it's a true story as well.

I'm reading this book in conjunction with Family Virtues Guide.  While I'd love to join a Unitarian Universalist congregation, as I've explained before, I'm just not up for the hour or more drive with two little ones.  So for now, I'm trying to intentionally go about instilling great morals, build up emotional knowledge and expose my boys to many, many different ways of caring and believing.  This two books will be my jumping off point.  I'm busy taking notes each evening as I don't own Building Moral Intelligence and I'll have to return it soon.  The suggestions seem very doable, and his reasoning makes sense to me.

I've recently finished reading Happy Housewives, a book I picked up on a whim at the library.  While I agree with the basic principle of "quit whining and enjoy this period in your life" and the question "Since when has caring for your home and children something to be less than proud of?" I felt like I was well out of her target audience.  I have never hired a housekeeper, chef, and nanny and spent the day shopping or at the spa nor does my clothing have to meet the "cute and tight" requirements.  I guess what I'm saying about this book is that I agree with what she's saying, I'm just in a whole different world than she is.  I like a lot of what she says, it just applies to me a little differently.  She has a real no-nonsense attitude that's just a little hard to take sometimes, and she makes a lot of assumptions about money availability, but underneath it all, there was some good advice that I've since applied to my own life.

And finally, the last book I'm reading (the one in the cook book rack by my sink!) is this one:

We've already pretty much decided on homeschooling, in fact, really we've started already, but I enjoy reading up on homeschooling and getting a bit more information from a new angle.  This book is really just confirming what I've learned and decided already.  Some really good, general information from a definite pro-homeschooling point of view.

And that's it!  I'll be back in few weeks or so with some more!

The Blue Blankie and Other Friends

The blue blankie.  Is there anything greater?  Later to join the lovey scene is the stuffed teddy bear.  Not pictured here is the stuffed border collie given to him at birth by my mom.  Believe it or not, only days before this photo was taken, Silas generously let Oliver sleep with it in his crib.  Up until then, all three were in the bed each and every nap and bed time.  But the blankie was first.  And probably most important.  

Some parents seem to be against security objects, be they stuffies, blankets or some old t-shirt or sock.  I'm all for them!  Yes, they get dirty, torn, stained and unsightly, but really - that's why we have washing machines and mothers (I don't sew, haha, but my mom does!).  The amount of comfort he gets from these objects has saved me a lot of sleep, given him a lot of security and created a lot of conversations.  And when he first went to sleep at  Gramma and Bucca's house (when Oliver was born) he and I knew it was going to be just fine, cause he had his blue blankie and his teddy.  Before bed each night I go and check on my boys and it's always so sweet to see him clutching his blankie somehow, whether it be thrown over his neck like in the photo above, tucked in next to his body or grasped in his hand.  

It's done a lot of traveling too, interprovincial even!  There have been a few minor heart attack moments when we thought for a moment the blankie has been misplaced or forgotten, but so far (knock knock) it's always turned up.  And luckily for us, if it was left at grami's house or in a vehicle no longer here, he'll reluctantly accept a substitute.  It's the best of both worlds, really.

And some day, this special little blue blankie and scruffy, worn out teddy will be tucked away in a box somewhere, all but forgotten.  My little boy will be all grown up, doing his own thing.  I'll get a full night's sleep, hours to myself, mornings to spend at leisure and no more rushing home for lunch and a nap. No more "I wuv you, mama" s or sticky, puckered kisses, handfuls of weeds and grass presented at the door or silly face-making in the mirror.  So let him have his blue blankie, let him cuddle a bear while in the car or falling asleep - it's only a matter of time before it's all just memories. 

This post is part of  Mom's 30 minute blog challenge.

Tot School Catch Up

The last Tot School post I completed was September 5th.  Goodness!  That was a while ago . . . we have been completing many tot school activities over here!  So without further ado, here's a quick catch-you-up: some of my favorite photos over the last month.

To start with, this was the original Tot School arrangement.  It worked best with both of them sitting at the table involved in there own activities. Occasionally Oliver would want down and I'd introduce him to some other floor activity  (like the fridge magnets below).  I would have liked to combine their activities for simplicity, but it seemed like half the things Silas would like to do, Oliver would just eat, you know?  On the other hand, trying to coordinate two different activities at the same time, and still stay true to the spirit of Tot School (spending some focused time with your child), was a huge challenge.  

Although, now that I'm looking through the pictures, there are an awful lot of Oliver activities on the floor, aren't there?  But I felt like I was cheating by having Oliver doing his own thing on the floor while I focused on Silas's less "do what you will" activities that involved following directions or at least obeying basic rules such as "Baby Alligators are NOT allowed to paint".  

 Oliver has enjoyed this farm set all month.  He's especially into the chickens right now!  It helps that our toy rotations always include trucks, tractors and/or trailers so he can haul them around the house too.


Silas knows all the letters in his name, which really surprised me!  Carisa of 1+1+1=1 was right!  Leap Frog's Letter Factory DVD really does work!  I had know idea he was aware of anything other than the S's in his name.  That's his "t" he added at the bottom by the way. That's got to be his all time favorite letter.  And, as you can see below, we drew a lot of them!  He's so into letters, which I love.  I've always adored reading, taught myself to read at the age of four, and I cannot wait until Silas is ready to move on past letter recognition, "I made a T!" and "Sssss starts with song, mom!" comments that I hear all day long (which always make me smile, too!).  By the way, the "T" that he made below came out of nowhere on the 6th of September.  I took his picture because he was soooo proud of himself - and because he's darn cute that way!

Here's one way I try to cater to Oliver's love of eating the activity!  Banana coins to insert into the container.  It was a little tricky for him, but non-frustrating because he could always eat them if they wouldn't go down!  The popsicle sticks were better - he inserted and removed them for quite some time about three days in a row.
Here's Silas reading his beloved, well worn teddy a story, I belive it was Baby Beluga by Raffi.  It was neat listening to him read the story - another first for Silas, he's never 'read' a book to anyone or anything that I know of.  Since this photo was taken he's also started to 'read' favorite books to Oliver now and then.

Here's something else that really occupied the two boys:  a masking tape road all over the house, with box bridges, tunnels and "crashes" (no ramp on one side of the bridge) complete with fisher price houses, airport and garage.  They loved this game!  Silas in particular played all afternoon!  This was, of course, my mother's doing.  She has the boys for a full day while I work on Wednesdays.  You can see why they love it there!

There have been quite a few road trips this month what with trying to get all of our passports organized, a cousin's wedding, a family apple picking day and some geocaching with dad.  But our boys are getting to be quite the travellers, as you can plainly see:

This is Silas giving us directions as he follows the map from the back seat.  The directions went something like this: "You go past the trees, and down the hill, over the bridge, then drive for a long, long time.  Then turn left and drive some more, past the town and into the hotel.  And that's how we get there!"  It was very enlightening.  He's been really interested in maps lately, and globes.  I wouldn't be surprised if a globe showed up under the Christmas tree this year!

After apple picking - an exhausting adventure to be sure!

Geocaching (or "treasuring" as Silas calls it) with dad.  We got started on this through Scott's parents.  Scott is definitely hooked, I like being able to stop at neat places around the province rather than drive past them all so we can see how far we get in one day (yawn!).  Silas loves the little toys left in the boxes that we trade for by leaving our own little toys in the boxes.  And Oliver?  He's happy just to be let out of the car seat!

Just last week there was a Rivers Day in town, celebrating and raising awareness around the rivers in our valley, both of which are salmon habitat.  Silas loves to fish, they both love anything to do with fishes, so it goes without saying that they enjoyed this day!  I love the expression on Silas's face as he watched a salmon dissection!  

And that's a very brief summary of our month together.  Coming up soon is our new way to do Tot School.  I've completely rearranged the schedule over the last week and it seems to be working out really well for us all.  Hope you come back soon to check it out!  For more really great tot school posts, please see this link.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I'm back!

Hello!  I'm still here!  I've had an eventful month of colds, fall adjustments, computer viruses and flat out refusals to cooperate, but I think that I'm finally healthy, as organized as I'll ever be and I've paid someone else to force my computer into submission.  So far so good!  So stay tuned, a catch up Tot School post is coming up!