Wednesday, August 31, 2011

activity time

I spent the whole summer trying to get the kids out of the house, on fun adventures, exploring. It didn't even cross my mind that there are some nifty little things they can do at home!

This post also comes after a weekend of feeling tired and hoping my kids would either play happily with their toys or take a nap. 

And it comes while I'm recently back to work and don't get to see my kids nearly enough!

I was feeling guilty. I google searched something like, "things to do with 18-month-olds,"

Somehow I ended up on one of those sites where someone posts a question (similar to my search) and a bunch of people answer.  I don't think I could find it again to link up to it right now.  But someone responded with this suggestion among many others:

~Give them large beads with large holes. Have them thread the beads onto a chopstick, then onto a pipe cleaner, then onto a shoe string.~

That didn't seem too difficult and what a neat way of working on fine motor skills using different levels of difficulty.

Here are the supplies I used for my modified version:
- wooden skewers. Cut the sharp tip off and place/glue a very tight fitting bead on one end.
- wooden beads
- pipe cleaners
- shoe strings

Tuesday after picking up the boys late again. 5:30. We headed straight to walmart to get our supplies. We had wooden skewers at home so I spent about $6 for the rest.

I set up shop at the kiddie table in the playroom while the boys turned on the DVD player in the living room and were busy dancing to their second cousin's band video. They get a little irritated if you try to stop them from doing something they are enjoying so I energetically told the kids to, "Come on!  Come help momma! Come look at this!" 

They joined me in the playroom and enthusiastically climbed into their chairs to see what was in store.
I gave each boy his own bowl of beads and his own stick.  They just started exploring the items so I demonstrated putting the bead on the stick. Then I helped each boy put a bead in one hand and the stick in the other and encouraged him to try. 

They got the idea. They really concentrated! But I thought for sure, this would be easy for them so I wanted to have the pipe cleaner and shoe string ready for levels 2 and 3.


I think my kids have been too busy running and jumping to bother with any fine motor skills.

Don't be fooled by the number of beads on the stick below.  They did some, but momma did some, too.
I loved seeing them so focused on something.  I traded them the pipe cleaners for the sticks but by this point they were no longer interested in threading the beads.  Of course their attention spans only last so long so after concentrating as long as they possibly could, they just had to start experimenting.

Take the beads off the stick.
Dump the beads on the table.
Put the beads back in the bowls.

Stir the bowl of beads with the stick.
Stand all the beads up on their sides.
Throw the beads.
Lick the beads.
(Please monitor this activity carefully so beads don't end up in their mouths!)

So I suddenly had a great idea!  We moved to the floor and I dumped all the beads in a pile.  I put a few beads of one color in one bowl and a few of the other color in the other bowl.  I showed them how to pick up a bead and put it in the bowl with the matching beads.  Totally thought I was so clever with my bead-matching idea. Yeah. No. They aren't quite ready for that one yet. They paid zero attention to colors! But they loved rushing to put all the beads back into the bowls!

My search also lead me to the Chasing Cheerios blog. This mom has so many awesome ideas for quick, easy, learning activities for a variety of ages. They are very montessori school inspired. She has a 1 year old and a 5 year old. 

My personality type makes me want to get all these ideas down, buy all the supplies immediately, do several of them in one sitting with the kids, you know, crazy talk.  And this would definitely lead to disappointment. So I'm going to try one a week.  That's my plan anyway!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

don't drink the water!

In July, during our beach vacation, the strangest thing happened.....

and I totally forgot about it until right now.

We were letting the boys play around in the zero entry pool.  The entrance is beach-like and there is a mushroom fountain for kids to splash around in.

So I'm on Carter duty. Brad's on Nolan duty. Ginger is on Ronan duty. Aaron is filling the gaps.

So this kid... I mean he had to be 7 years old... starts heading over to the entrance where our kids are playing and we are monitoring.   He lifts his shirt and starts to pull his swim trunks down.  I'm thinking in my head, "oh his mom must have told him to go get dressed and he must be showing her that he was following her request or something"  Later, when talking to Ginger, she was thinking something similar.

Well, the trunks go to the ground, out comes the wee wee and this kid (yes I kind of want to use mean names here) starts pissing the most perfectly arched fountain right into the pool where our  kids splash..AND get quite a few accidental gulps of the pool filth than I'd like to admit.

Are you f-ing kidding me?!?!  Ginger and I totally crossed right into mom-squad mode and practically made the kid cut the stream off. "Excuse me. DO NOT pee in the pool. People are swimming in here!  STOP IT RIGHT NOW!"  Yes, I stood up and was leaning over and shaking my pointing finger at him.  Got the visual?  Oh I had my mom-voice, teacher-really-not-happy-with-student voice, angry-wife voice all out.  Ginger was all over it, too.  The poor kid was pretty shocked! 

But his shock seemed it was as if he had never been told not to pee in a pool....not that two random women were yelling at him.

Someone came running over....grandma we think. She grabbed him and quietly told him not to do that. She was embarrassed. I would've been!

I will try not to discipline someone else's child but COME ON!  I could care less for this instance.  If his mom was there I would have let her have it, too!

All that said, I do realize swimming pools have a pretty high percentage of urine in them anyway. But I'd rather ignore that lovely fact and a child pissing in a pool for all to see does not help me do that very well!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

daycare aka school

Some call it school. I can't bring myself to call it school yet because it just isn't.

The other day I had a moment of clarity:  When my kids first started going to Virginia's house, all the kids seemed sooooo big and mine were just tiny little babies!  Well, those kids aren't so big! And mine aren't so small!  A few months in age difference is so much when they are babies but so little now!  Shocking to realize my babies are gettin' big.

diaper talk below: consider yourself warned

So, funny story:

Today, I picked the kids up from daycare. Virginia (who is completely awesome) said, "The rash Carter had on Monday may be from wearing the swim diapers too long or too much or maybe he pooped right when he got here Monday and we didn't catch it right away."  My two have sensitive bums so rashes are inevitable if the dirty isn't caught quickly!


I had no idea Carter had a diaper rash. It dawned on me that I haven't seen his booty since maybe Sunday night bath.  Well, it was Tuesday evening when I had this realization. That means I hadn't changed a diaper in like 48 hours.

How on earth does that happen, you ask?

Brad usually does the bedtime diaper while I brush their teeth, read to them, dress them, etc.
Brad also changes them on weekday mornings because I leave before the kids get up!
Monday I stayed at work way too long so was only home an hour before their bedtime, where Brad changes the dipes.

Yeah, so Brad has been doing all the changes.

Oops. Feeling a little guilty. And lucky! And not sure how Brad's going to take this when he reads this post! I might be on diaper duty for a while.

You are awesome and I love you, honey!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

this year.....

I want to encourage and motivate my students.
I want them to see my love of learning and to want the same.
I hope to be "there" each and every day.
I hope to get my classes to feel like a team.
I hope to make our lessons applicable.
I will not lose hope in any child's success, even the quitters.
I will "sell" the awesomeness of math.

I hope to remember to read this post in March when I'm tired, so are the students, and we both need to be re-inspired! =)

This year I'm teaching two different levels of Honors Pre Calculus. Yes this is our school's first time offering two levels of honors plus a regular pre cal. This year will also be the start of my 8th year of teaching (minus half a year during our move to Dallas). Uh...whoa....where did the time go? I do not feel like I've been teaching that long!

Whatever. Time must pass I guess.  Which reminds me: Brad always tells me about his Chemistry teacher in high school. He most remembers the sign above his clock.....which I totally copied for my new room this year.

Is that mean? These are Juniors and Seniors. They can handle it!  I put my favorite poster next to it. It reads, "If you want to succeed, get on your "try" cycle." And has an awesome little tricycle in the picture. Cheeseball-ness at its best.

So as bedtime approaches, I must say that I'm super excited to meet my new students tomorrow and to rock some awesome math lessons. Let's do this!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

hold on tight!

Off to walmart for more packages of swim diapers. I should have kept track of my swim diaper purchases this summer to see how much it cost us!  I'm so cheap I still buy size small because there are 4 more diapers in the package than mediums...for the same price.  They should probably be in mediums but smalls do the job fine. I'm going to buy in bulk online to try to get the best deal!

So back to walmart. 

We don't get very far before the boys start fussing.  By fussing I mean screeching.  You can really tell when people see the twins and they want to be like, "oh look how cute!" but instead just keep walking and give me the pity look.   When they do this screeching (I know I've posted a lot about bad behavior lately but I swear they are good more often than not!) I usually just ignore them.  Once....maybe this same trip, a lady came up and started dancing and singing for them. They were shocked into silence.  I sincerely thanked her and made the boys say "thank you" and wave bye bye. 

Well, this trip, I didn't bring anything in but my phone, wallet and entertainment props.  Finally we make it to the baby section. I grab the swim diapers and hand them each a package. I said, "Please hold on tight to these swim diapers. Don't drop them!"

Um......can I just say this is the best idea I've ever had for an on-the-spot-toddler-tantrum-ender!

They carried those diapers through the store while I got everything else on the list.
It doesn't end there!

They handed them to me so the cashier could ring them up. I gave them back to the boys and they carried them all the way to the car. I loaded everything and everyone into the van, strapped the boys in and gave them the packages again. They held them all the way home.  At home, they carried them into the house, to their room and handed them to me to put in the closet. WHAT?

Hello new activity!!!!  - help mom carry things. yes!!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

and that'll do it

Kids are down. We'll be down soon........

since I have to work tomorrow!!! Boooooo!!!!!

No, seriously. Since I have to work at all, I feel very lucky to be in a career (ignoring pathetic pay here) where I get two months to spend with my little koalas.  It has been such a fun summer. Way better than last year when I was nursing, scared to leave the house with the two, getting spit up on, and still trying to hold on to my summer ideas pre-mom (mostly lots of failed attempts to lay out while they were napping.  Yep, gave that up....and it is better for my skin!!)

This summer, these boys experienced so much!  How much of it will they remember? None. But they are always learning and most of this business was fun for me, especially getting to see them so happy.

Birthday parties.

One crappy night of camping but with some fun during the day!

Two trips to the Children's Aquarium.

One trip to the zoo.
 Way too many trips to Fuzzy's Taco Shop.
Many visits to the sprayground.
Mom-free for a whole weekend.
Shameless enjoyment of fast food and ice cream.
Tie Dye party
Ranger's baseball game
 First fireworks show
 Swimming nearly every day.

 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th times on an airplane (we had a connection).
 First time at the beach.
First time on a bike.
One book reading at the public library (yeah, we got in trouble because my kids wouldn't sit down).
One trip to the Children's Museum.
Summer was officially 59 days long for me since I took a job writing curriculum for the week after school was out.   If you do the math there are many more days where we did a bunch of nothing like: breakfast, playroom time (i.e. mommy-drink-coffee-and-check-email time), nap, lunch, errands, snack, nap, outside play, dinner, bed.  You simply cannot do that every day!

I will miss spending the days with you two sweet boys but am grateful that I could.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Okay, my kids are pretty much angels most of the time. =) 

and I'm obviously kidding.  But they aren't bad kids either. Regardless, discipline is something that simply has to happen and isn't just for bad behavior....... and I feel like blabbing about it today.

I'll confess: Once when Nolan hit Carter, I grabbed Nolan, told him "no!" then smacked his hand. What? That was dumb. What a crappy lesson.

This is why parents should discuss their discipline strategies so they are on the same page and don't attempt strategies that don't make any sense! Brad and I discussed our dicipline thoughts the other night over nearly 10 a couple of beers by the pool.

Our conclusion:

Some discipline is to correct purposefully bad behavior (toy taking, pushing, etc). Some is to teach them what is okay and what is not (throwing dirt out of a potted plant, holding hands in a parking lot, throwing food at meals, etc.)  I want them to know how to behave when we are out of our house and that has to start with what we accept in our house! It is tough! We could do nothing and say, "they're just babies." But they aren't! They know what's going on and they test and they can learn!

Right now, we have three different consequences. The first two happen either after he deliberately repeatedly misbehaves or does something he already knows is wrong

1.  Mom or dad restrains his hands for about 30 seconds while he stirs and fusses.  We say our mantra, "do not ________!"

2.  We rush him off to his crib while saying the "do not _______" mantra, clear out toys and blankets, close the door and walk out. After about 1-2 minutes of crying, we go back in, remind him why he was there and then forgive and forget!

We got very tired of saying "no." I swear we were saying it ALL THE TIME for several months. It lost its meaning. Now it is reserved for very serious things. That and the boys say it lots now. Awesome.
3.  Ignore bad behavior or take things away.  We do this when he looks at us, throws his sippy cup on the floor, and smiles.  We used to tell him "no!" and make him set it on his tray gently.  Finally we realized they just want attention. They don't care if it is good or bad attention. So you don't get any for that behavior and the sippy cup may just stay on the floor for the rest of the meal.

It is important to us that we don't get angry, take things personally or hold grudges.  Besides punishing when they've done something wrong, we try to remember to acknowledge them when they've done something right. And it is possibly most important that we show by example. But hopefully that goes without being said!

I'm sure we have lots more challenges ahead with the discipline category and our plans will change as they change.

There's my take. Anyone have some techniques that have worked? We all want to be good parents and send good people out into the world so let's share the good stuff!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Their car seats sit side by side in our twinivan.  There are a few chuckles in the back seat nearly every car ride.   As soon as I can, I turn around to see Nolan sneakily putting his hand on Carter's seat just below the armrest.  He reaches and taps Carter's leg. Carter pulls his leg away and they both laugh and laugh!

Mommy says, "hold your brother's hand!"  They stop what they are doing and get that hand like it is their life's mission.  Once they start walking, they sometimes lose the grip then one becomes more dedicated to the hand holding while the other is over it.  It is funny but definitely helps me! It distracts them from running off because they get so focused on getting a good grip of brother's hand.
They are also learning twempathy. When one is upset, the other always comes to see what's up and often pats his head or tries hug him or something. It is so sweet, but the tantrum-throwing child often wants none of it!

When it comes to toys, they still try to take each other's toys but it has gotten better than it was. Often there is a tug-of-war. I never know what to do. I either twignore it (to a degree), give the toy back to the child that had it or if I don't know who had it, I sometimes just take it away completely (while they both scream at me). We repeatedly say, "do not take toys!" and they definitely end up in time-out if they can't listen!
They don't really hit that much anymore but there is a little shoving going on here and there. Sometimes it is just mean! Sometimes it is to hurry the other one along or to get him out of the way. Regardless, it is no good! See my take on twicipline in a later post.

Okay, let's get back to the good stuff.

They sit in their high chairs across from each other and wave and laugh about it.  They also twave bye bye to the pool, the store, the toy, etc.  Anything we have to put down or leave, we say, "all done, bye bye thing."  I'm not kidding I really think it helps avoid a possible tantrum!

Just recently, the boys started smiling on command. Mostly Carter right now but Nolan definitely likes to share the cheese. "Show your teeth! Smile!  See mommy smile? See dada smile?"  From carter, we get a little shoulder lift, eye blink and smile. 

My favorite: They give hugs and kisses! Both of them make the sound, "mmmm-maaahh" and lean in for the smooch from mommy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

18 Months!

Much of today's post is basically a baby-book entry for me to remember things! And....I'm desperate for my out-of-town family to feel like they know all the little joys about these two!


33.75 inches tall, 90th percentile
25 pounds, 40th percentile

32 inches tall, 50th percentile
21.5 pounds, 5th percentile

Hello Carter growth spurt! He grew 2.5 inches in only 3 months! Nolan grew an inch and did not gain any weight! Yep...that made me a little worried!  They actually weighed him a second time to double check!  I have to say though.....I remember our 15 month appointment, they said one number on the scale but wrote down a different number on the paper they always give us.  It has happened a couple of times and I don't think it is a big deal so I don't say anything. I think he actually gained a half a pound. Still, obviously, not much!  Nolan seriously runs everywhere and is very busy but he typically eats the same amount as Carter!  The doctor told us to butter up his foods but otherwise was not super concerned.  I wish someone would tell me to butter up my food!

MOVE IT:  Both boys run lots. I think Carter actually prefers to walk and has become a bit of a toe-walker....great. We keep telling him to stop because you know how those toe-walker people are! (kidding!) They both jump up and down, love jumping into the pool, off our ottoman onto the floor, and out of the van.  They don't exactly land on two feet though! Nolan has successfully done a somersault one time and not again since then. They kick balls and throw balls. Nolan still throws lots of other things, though he's toned it down quite a bit from several months ago.  They both definitely love to dance.
CHOW:  Carter and Nolan eat try to eat with spoons and forks though I think they still prefer their hands. Usually half way through every meal, they dump their bowls or plates out on their high chair trays and say "all done!"  I try to explain that they are not all done but I have to tell them, "thank you" for handing me the plate! They also still throw food from their high chairs.  Soooo annoying! Rarely, it is an accident; sometimes they are trying to feed Mallie; Most times they don't want what they are given or they really are all done.  Our only strategy here is to clear their tray of food for a few minutes...kind of like a food time-out.  When Nolan is so darn skinny, I hate the idea of ending his meal completely! They'll grow out of it soon I hope. 

Eating bananas with a fork is difficult!
At this point, my kids still like veggies most days. I'm thankful for that and am dreading the day they decide not to like them. That doesn't have t-o happen, right? Once I offered a piece of broccoli next to an animal cracker, I'm not lying, they both chose the broccoli!  Months ago, we started feeding veggies first (when they were nice and hungry) then added the rest of the meal to the tray. Eventually we started giving them the full plate of food for them to pick at and the veggies are usually all eaten. That's not to say we don't have any rough nights!  But they don't get to pick a different meal, that's for sure and if the veggies aren't eaten, they get the leftovers for their afternoon snack.  Hungry boys will devour some veggies for an afternoon snack!

DRESS:  They can both take their shoes off and their pants off if I pull them down a bit.  Carter has started trying to take his diaper off. He pushes the back down until a butt cheek starts to show. I mean, how cute is that?'s not cute at all.  What if he decides to take a poopy diaper off while in his crib? Awesome.
definitely a little more than a butt cheek here!
READING: Carter looooooves books. He picks out a book and motions for you to get in the rocking chair and pull him up to read.  Often he'll open a book and babble like he is reading it on his own.  Nolan will sit on my lap and listen to me reading a book for a bit then slide his way down out of the chair, then come back to hear some more, then he's off again and so on. I can get him to sit through a book if there are lots of hands on things within the book.  And lately he is sitting through this zoo book.  We really only read at bed time when Nolan is practically begging to be put in his crib. Maybe he is too tired and I need to read more during the day.  I've read that even having books in your house can make a difference in encouraging a love of reading!
TV:  They watch only a bit of TV. We just started putting shows on in preparation to see if they'd watch DVDs on their recent flight (never used the DVD player on the flights anyway!).  Both boys check out whatever is going on with the show then they play some, then watch a bit then back to playing. They aren't so into it yet.  I guess that's good?

CHATTER:  We are finally starting to expand our word bank from da-da and dog.  Those two were it for way too long!

Both boys use these words:
no (my personal favorite!)
mallie dog (daahh dog)
all done (ahh daa)
hot (surprised? that's what happens when you have record breaking triple digit heat!)
da da,
please (tease)
thank you
banana (na na)

They also repeat many more words.  Nolan works on mimicking the tone rather than the letter sounds. For example, if I say, "Nolan, can you say trees?"  He might say "eee" using the same tone I did.  Carter works more on the letter sounds like bah, dah, cah, etc and pays no attention to the tone.

Carter loves trying to communicate. He will babble long stories to you. Nolan is more stubborn about talking. He has to be in the mood for it. They feel like such big boys when they follow instructions: Go get your shoes. Put the balls in the basket. Put your sippy cups in the fridge and close the door.  They love to go get the mail from the mailbox then help me throw most of it in the trash. =) And they love helping make a mess of the laundry!

They have finally started to know their body parts. They've got the ears, nose and tummy down. They haven't liked participating in that pointing game so once when they were not wanting me to clean their faces with a wet wipe, I instead gave them each a wipe and said, "clean your mouth, clean your nose, clean your ears, clean your tummy, clean your feet, clean your hair." They loved it and got most of them!

And here are a few random things these two boys do that just crack me up!