6/23/09

June 29, 2009

The first thing we did on tuesday was go to the library. I actually managed to remember that our books were due back the 23rd. Yay me! (that’s a rare occurrence) So Adrian picked out about 10 books and I got an ASL video. He played on the computers for a bit and I ran into one of my friends, who has a little girl the same age as Adrian. And it turns out she moved in just down the street from me. So we are looking forward to hanging out. We ran to the store and got some things we needed, then headed home. Adrian watered his garden and then just played outside for a few hours until it got dark.

When we got inside, he asked to do some crafts (is there ever a time he doesn’t want to?). He saw that I had put some Styrofoam cups in his art bag and wanted to do something with those, so we made flowers in flower pots with foam sheets, googly eyes, easter grass, and popsicle sticks.

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Then he played with his g-tube teddy:

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I added the g-tube to the bear when I made his christmas gift…a complete doctor’s outfit. He played with it for a week and then it got put away. He just decided he’s interested in it again. He likes to give the bear meds and food through his g-tube and he also bandages up his arms and listens to him with the stethoscope.

Before bed we read some of his new books. We read a book called Otis, about a pig who doesn’t like mud, Splash Splash, about what animals do when they fall in the water, and a book about Dalmatians, which was actually really interesting. I learned a lot from that too. Did you know that Dalmatians are the only breed that work well with horses and because of this, they used to clear the way for the horse and buggy fire trucks and that is why they are now the fire house mascot? Sometimes they still work in fire stations, but that is why we associate Dalmatians with fire stations.

I sent in his pic with his bird bath to Family Fun. Cross your fingers….maybe he’ll get published!

Subjects covered: Reading, History. PE, Art.
Total time spent: About 3 hours.

Booster training…

June 21, 2009

So I’m a CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technician) and keeping kids safe in the car is important to me.  I’m putting this post on Adrian’s blog because it actually does fall into the “education” category.  This is real life education and quite important at that.  From the time kids are born, we put them in car seats.  When they outgrow their convertible seat rear-facing, we put them forward-facing.  The harness straps hold them in nice and snug and the buckle is quite hard for little fingers to undo (Adrian still can’t undo a harness).  But what happens when they get too big for the harness?  Well, you put them in a booster seat of course!  But a booster seat is very different from a harnessed seat because the child has the freedom to wiggle, move around, unbuckle themselves, pick up dropped items, ect.  But moving around too much and leaning out of the seatbelt is dangerous.  If the seatbelt isn’t properly positioned in an accident, it can’t do it’s job correctly.

So what do we do?  Well, I recommend “booster training” from an appropriate age and weight, usually at least 4 years old and 40 lbs.  The idea goes like this….if you wait until the child has outgrown their seat to put them in a booster, it’s a lot to learn at one time. “Don’t unbuckle!  Don’t put the shoulder belt behind you!  Don’t lean out of the belt!  Sit back!  Don’t try to pick up the toy you dropped on the floor!”  Kids have to have self-control to sit properly and this is not accomplished overnight (well, maybe for some kids).  So BEFORE they outgrow that seat (most seats go to a higher weight these days which can buy you some time for booster training), you can try short trips in the booster so they can start learning the rules.  By the time they outgrow their harnessed seat, they should be better prepared for riding in a booster full-time.

Here’s Adrian in a Graco Turbobooster:

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It fits quite nicely from 40 lbs.  I recommend a high back booster, not only for the side impact protection, but for the support the sides offer.  A child can rest comfortably (even fall asleep!) and not fall out of position.  The shoulder belt should fit across their chest and not slip off their shoulder or cut into their neck.  There are height adjustments on the seat to fit it to the child.  The lap belt should rest across the top of their thighs, not across their tummy.  Most highback boosters do a wonderful job of positioning the belt correctly.  Usually convertible or combo seats that convert to a booster let the lap belt ride too high on their tummy and have belt guides that allow slack in the shoulder belt.  The exceptions are the Graco Nautilus and Britax Frontier.  Both convert to excellent boosters.

Remember, keep those kiddos rear-facing!  The AAP has recommended for years to rear-face to the limits of the seat, but a lot of parents assume you should turn them around at 1 year and 20 lbs (this is the *minimum* recommendation!)  Studies from Sweden and now England show that it is very important to keep them rear-facing until at least age 4.  It is difficult to do that in the U.S. now because our seats have lower weight limits that won’t accommodate bigger children, but we are making advancements every year!  Just this year, Graco came out with a seat that rear-faces to 40 lbs!  It’s not going to get all kids to 40 lbs rear-facing because some will outgrow it by height first, but is certainly a wonderful option for most average to heavy kids.  Other great seats for rear-facing are the First Years True Fit, the Sunshine Kids Radian, The Evenflo Triumph Advance, and the higher weight Britax convertible seats.  Some lower cost options are the Cosco Scenera and the Safety First Uptown or Avenue.

This is Adrian sitting rear-facing on the test bench at Babies’r’us in the Graco My Ride.  He’s a bit too tall because his head is only a smidge under the seat shell (you must have a full inch to rear-face) and right at the weight limit, but he probably would have made it to 4 years old rear-facing in this seat.  The pic below is him in the Sunshine Kids Radian, a higher weight harnessed seat, just to show he’s not a petite kid.

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Usually a parent’s first concern is that their legs shouldn’t be touching the back seat. It’s not a problem…really! It’s not dangerous and usually not even uncomfortable. Adrian actually likes to sit cross-legged on longer trips anyway because his legs hurt when they dangle in front of him too long.

So Adrian is doing quite well with the booster training. He has tried to put the belt behind him once and I caught him chewing on it another time, but a good lecture on crash forces helped him understand why we have to keep the belt in place. He’s nowhere near ready for a booster full-time, but I’m confident he’ll be ready by the time he outgrows our other seats. 😀

Subjects covered: Staying safe in the car!
Time spent: As many hours as it takes to help him learn. 😉

6/16/09

June 18, 2009

Tuesday was a slow day.  Charlie has me up quite a bit at night and then I have trouble falling back asleep.  My head was hurting and I think I pulled a muscle in my back somehow.   So we chilled out a lot.  I took him back to Grandma’s for some more Starfall.  He played that for about 20 minutes.   We read a lot of books and played outside.  He watched the rest of the phonics video and covered the other “short” vowels.  We watered the garden.  Towards bedtime he asked to “do a fun project”.  We made a clock:

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Then he freaked out over something tiny so it was bedtime!

Subjects covered:  Reading, Writing, Math, PE, Art.

Total time spent:  About 2 hours.

6/15/09

June 18, 2009

On Monday we went shopping first thing.   Did I mention I love Family Dollar?  They have a whole aisle dedicated to teaching aids.  I found full-size laminated posters for $1! I got one with the map of the U.S., one with letters, and another about telling time.  They work with dry erase markers too.  We got some craft supplies and a travel chutes and ladders game.   We were in the toy aisle (which isn’t all that impressive) and he stopped dead in his tracks, looked at me with huge eyes and said, “Mom! I seriously need a dolphin!”  How can you say no to that?   So he got his dolphin.   I guess his rescue heroes at Grandma’s house needed a dolphin.  After that, we walked to the pet store just to visit the animals.   We saw lizards, frogs, tadpoles, birds, guinea pigs, bunnies, fish, snails, and a cat. He got to see a tadpole whose legs had just sprouted.

Then we went to Grandma’s house and I set him up on the computer at starfall.com.  Adrian has never used the computer much but someone recommended that site, so we tried it.   It is great! He played for 30 minutes and only stopped because his “butt hurt”.  LOL Starfall basically teaches reading and phonics.  Grandma also read to him for about 15 minutes.  He learned about farm animals. We hung his birdbath on Grandma’s front porch.

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Then we went home and he played with his dolphin in the bathroom sink.   I filled his little pool and smeared sunscreen on him.  He found a spider in his pool and caught it with his net.  The set I got him had a butterfly net, a container to keep bugs, tweezers, and a compass.   He pretends the compass is a clock.  He looks at it and says, “Yup, time to go catch bugs!”.  So he was catching everything.  He caught 2 spiders, a couple of ants, and a beetle.  Then he gave them grass and raisins to eat.  I made him put his shoes on when he was running through the yard because there were a ton of bees hanging out.  He said he wanted to step on all the bees and kill them so they wouldn’t be in our yard.  So I explained 1) Why they are important and 2) That they have an exoskeleton and stepping on them in the soft grass wouldn’t likely kill them anyway.

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We went inside for a bit and he made a door hanger with his foam sheets and stickers. Then he played with his calculator a bit. So far he knows how to add on it. We played chutes and ladders and I noticed there is one square that has a boy chasing a dog with a stick and it goes down to a picture of his mom beating him with the stick. What the hell?!

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In the evening one of my friends came over with her 2 little boys. One is not quite 2 and the other is 8 months. We connected quickly partly because her older one has a birth injury too. Not a brain injury like Charlie’s, but a brachial plexus injury. He’s had surgery on his left arm and lots of therapy. It’s taped up and splinted most of the time. So they ran around the yard for a couple of hours while we at and talked.

After they left we watered the garden and then went inside. We read a book about the American Flag and realized that the day before was Flag Day! So we made a flag to celebrate.

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We looked at our new posters. Adrian drew on the telling time poster and showed what time it was. He knows “o’clock” and he’s starting to figure out “half past”. He was able to draw the hands to show it was 8:30. Then he pulled out his letters poster and said “Let’s do this!” but it’s really just a visual aid, not like a game. Hmmm….how do we “do” that poster? I laid it down on the floor and had him toss a bean bag at it. Whatever letter it landed on, we had to make the sounds that letter makes. Well, that works as well as any game. He got out the map poster and asked about Ohio, Michigan, Washington, New Mexico, and Florida. I just told him what I knew from looking at the map. “Washington is by the Pacific ocean.” “Ohio has a long river under it called the Ohio River.” Stuff like that. He asked about the lakes around Michigan. I told him those were the Great Lakes and showed him which beach he visited while he was there. Then he got his globe and showed me where the lakes were on it. Smart boy!

After it was good and dark, we went outside to catch lightning bugs. We caught 2 and went back inside. We learned that they are small enough (and smart enough) to find their way out of the bug container. Oops!

We went to bed and I read him a book about underwater creatures. It reads like a story, but has lots of info about the fish. He couldn’t fall asleep yet, and begged for a video, so I put in one we got from the library about phonics. Man it was boring! I don’t know who thinks kids will like this. But it was perfect because he got tired quickly. We only got through the “short a” sound.

Subjects covered:  Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Geography, PE, Art.

Total time spent:  About 8 hours.

6/14/09

June 18, 2009

Adrian tried to sleep in Sunday morning because he was up so late the night before.  I got him up eventually and he went right for the workbooks.  LOL  He did pages on the letters “O and “P”.   He did a beginning sounds page and another addition page.   Then he got his seashells out and started sorting them.   He started scooping them up with his butterfly net so I told him I’d hide them and he could find them with his net.  That was a lot of fun. 🙂   Like an easter egg hunt.  I showed him the calendar I got.  It was a $1 at Big Lots and you put the month stickers on each page and write in the dates.   So you can start it at any time during the year.  So we labeled June and he wrote in the numbers through 14 (with help).  He played with his inflatable globe and I showed him how it compares to the pictures in his book about space.   We’d looked through the book before, but he didn’t seem to understand what a planet was exactly, so that’s why I got the globe.   To make it more real to him that we actually live on something round!

Subjects covered:  Reading, Writing, Math, Science.

Total time spent:  About 1 1/2 hours

6/13/09

June 18, 2009

Well, we’ve had a crazy month!  First Charlie ended up in the hospital twice.  The second time we decided to bring her home on hospice.  She really wasn’t doing well and the doctors thought she had about a week.  That kid is a stubborn one though and she pulled through.  She still doing very poorly and we don’t know how long she has, but it’s not as touch and go as it was before.

Adrian is handling it pretty well.  We did tell him she might die.   He doesn’t quite understand how permanent death is, but he’ll have to find out eventually.  That’s one of life’s harsher lessons.  Even though Charlie wasn’t doing all that well, I told Adrian’s dad to go ahead and take him on the trip they had planned.  They would only be 5 hours away if anything happened.  So Adrian got to enjoy Michigan for a week and a half.  I’m so glad I told them to go.  Adrian needed a break from the stress and I needed to focus on Charlie.

So when they got back I got Adrian late on Saturday and was only able to keep him until 1 or so on Sunday.  But I missed him so much I couldn’t wait until Monday!  The first thing he did was dug through the stuff I bought for him.  The Dollar Tree is an awesome place to shop. 😉  I got him 4 disney workbooks.  He grabbed those first.  Now, he’s not one of those rare kids who likes to sit for hours just doing workbooks.  He likes them because I try to make them fun.  If we are learning about money, I dig out real money.  If it’s math, I get out his abacus, or anything to count with (pennies, goldfish crackers, ect).  For reading, I get out the fridge magnets.   For writing, we’ll draw on the magna doodle, or paint, or shape pipe cleaners into letters.  Workbooks, alone, he couldn’t care less about.  So we did pages on seasons and time.  He got out his clock board and it helped him figure out some of the stuff.   He did a page on the letter “H”.  We counted money out of my yard sale cash box and did a page on that.  We did an addition page and used the abacus and beans for counters.

Then we went up to bed and he saw the bag with the craft supplies.  So we made the bird bath I saw in the Family Fun magazine I subscribed to.  And then we counted seashells, sorted them by size and color, and talked about what types of animals live in the shells and what you can use the shells for after the animals leave them.   After all that he didn’t need a bedtime story.  LOL

Subjects covered:  Science, Math, Reading, Writing, Art.

Total time spent:  About 2 hours.

5/25/09

May 26, 2009

We were at a barbecue/birthday party for most of the day, but before we went, we picked up some fun stuff from Michael’s, the craft store.  The little girl next door came over and they played while I made a magnetic tangram set for Adrian (it was such a hit, I thought he needed something sturdier than paper).  His friend loved the tangrams too, so I made her a set.  When you do this, you have to make an extra, backwards parallelogram because the magnet makes it one-sided.  So even I got a little math lesson today. LOL  Adrian’s favorite puzzle so far is the cat:

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They worked on these little animal and dinosaur models (and we looked up one of the dinosaurs in his library book):

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I got Adrian this peg puzzle.  It took him a little while to understand the concept, but then he was off playing it with no help from me:

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And they played hopscotch:

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And we spent 4 1/2 hours at the party.  I was soooo exhausted by bedtime!  STILL Adrian wasn’t done.  We measured stuff with a tape measure and he did a couple of pages in a kindergarden workbook.

Subjects covered: Math, Reading, Writing, PE.

Total time spent:  About 2 hours.

5/24/09

May 26, 2009

Today was a fun day!  I very much want for my house to be a fun place for Adrian.  With everything going on with Charlie, plus the divorce, I sometimes feel like he’d rather be anywhere but here. 😦  So I bought  an under-the-bed storage container and some play sand.  It’s great for our small space and I can push it under the swing to get it out of the way.  And I got a kiddie pool.  And a jump rope and squirt guns and more bubbles.  $20 and we’re set for the summer!  We had a little issue filling the pool.  My hose isn’t long enough to reach around the side of the house.  I ended up putting the pool under the kitchen window and filling a pot and pouring it out the window. LOL  So here’s the kids having fun…this was Charlie’s first time ever in a pool!

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When Charlie’s nurse got there, we went to Grandma Linda’s house where he played “cornhole”.  Awful name for a game if you ask me, but he had fun.  He’s pretty good at it too!  When it started raining, we went on the porch and Adrian “painted” with water.

The storm was short-lived and it quit raining by the time we got home.  We checked on our garden…no need to water it!  The rain filled up the giant puddle in front of our apartment.  I don’t know why they don’t fill it in.  It attracts kids like bees to honey.  Anyway, we found a big, fat frog living there and Adrian ran back and forth trying to catch glimpses of him for a while.  Then we went upstairs for a nap.  Read a bunch of books first.  He’s still big into learning about our bodies.  I never know how to explain things to him in an age-appropriate way.  Sometimes I think I’m using too-big words, but he soaks it all up.  We bent all the parts of our body we could and found all of our joints, even our itty-bitty finger joints.  I tried to explain what a cell is and how they work and grow and die.  I just have a hard time imagining a 4 year old can understand something like this that he can’t SEE.  But if he doesn’t understand, he doesn’t let on.  He wanted to know *specifically* what the different parts of the cell were.  Oy.  We also talked about reflexes and how they usually a body’s defense mechanism kicking in.  Which brought us back to the frog.  Who jumped about a mile high when he saw us and made a funny yelping sound.  I told Adrian this is like a reflex for a frog.  He saw us as a danger.  To which Adrian replied he was not going to be dangerous when he grew up…he was going to save people from fires!  Well at least I don’t have to worry that I have a future serial killer on my hands. LOL

I printed out a tangram set and some puzzles to go with it.  He really likes this.  I remember doing these in about 2nd grade.  When I was that age, I did the puzzles that were just a silhouette.  Because Adrian is younger, I printed off the “key” pages so he could see how the pieces fit together.  He struggles a little with how to flip the pieces around so they fit, but he’s getting better.  He learned what a “parallelogram” is and even used it in a sentence…”Hey mom, the parallelogram is the duck’s neck!”  Yup, sure enough, it is.

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I got a melissa and doug abacus.  Again, this is something from my childhood that I thought would come in handy through the years.  We praticed addition and subtraction on it.  Just the small numbers.  It might be awhile before he can truly use the abacus as it was intended. 😉

And read more books.  We played a game about likes and dislikes.  We’d pick a person we know and tell each other things they like and don’t like.  It got a little silly when Adrian would say things that were completely untrue.  I tried to teach him to play a game I found in “Family Fun” magazine called “Mrs. Mumbles”.  You wrap your lips around your teeth and say “Excuse me, is Mrs. Mumbles home?”  You look and sound hilarious and the object of the game is to be the last person to smile and show your teeth.  Adrian couldn’t figure out how to get his lips around his teeth though, but he had a blast watching me make a fool of myself.

As we got ready for bed, he started pestering me.  Sometimes when I’m done for the day, he’s just NOT.  He just keeps going and going.  THIS is where worksheets come in handy.  Now I’m not a fan of worksheets.  I really think they are the least productive way to learn, for most people.  But when your kid is begging to be taught and you can’t even keep your eyes open….hand them a worksheet.  So he did one on “beginning sounds”.

And FINALLY went to bed!

Subjects covered:  Science, Math, Reading, Writing, PE.

Total time spent:  About 4 hours.

5/23/09

May 26, 2009

I didn’t get Adrian until 8 pm again today. There was just a little daylight left and with Charlie fast asleep in her crib, we headed outside to play. I think Adrian is starting to expect all this educational stuff from me because as soon as he walked in the house, he tackled me and said, “Come on mama, we have to find something cool to do!” And by that, he meant a fun project. He was excited to see his plants were sprouting. So we counted and identified them and looked at them through a magnifying glass.. He tells *everyone* we have plants growing. He’s very proud. 🙂 We watered and weeded the garden. I’m hoping this teaches him a little responsibility. Of course, I take care of it when he’s at his dad’s, but when he’s here, I want him to see it as HIS garden.  This is much better than a goldfish I think.  There’s nothing to flush if he messes up. LOL   This is his very first bean plant.  We have a total of 8 now:

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So for our first “cool” thing to do…I saved an egg carton and figured we’d plant something in it.  I had planned to start tomatoes or something, but I hadn’t bought the seeds.  Not to disappoint him though, I let him pick a dry dandelion and plant those seeds.  Yes, we planted WEEDS. LOL  I asked him how many we should have once they grow (12) and I asked him how many days he thought it would be before they sprouted.  He said 5.  We shall see.

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We read a bunch of books, as usual.  One was the “Money and Sense” Berenstein Bears book.  We’ve read it like 15 times already.  I’m getting soooo bored with some of these things!  So the whole time I’m reading I’m trying to find a way to make it interesting.  Halfway through we stopped and I taught him to play “heads or tails” with a coin, like the bears in the book did.  It’s funny watching him because he lacks the coordination to catch the coin so he throws it, watches it roll across the floor, runs to catch it, then flips it onto the back of his hand. LOL

I bought him a calendar board.  It has a clock with the minute and hour hands labeled, days of the week, months of the years, 1-31 for the days, seasons, and weather.  This is *perfect* for him.  He wants so badly to learn to tell time.  And he’s fascinated with weather.  Anyway, it has little pegs and arrows.  You put them in place to show the date.  It’s really cool.  I don’t have a pic because it BROKE and I took it to my mom’s so she could fix it.  She has the tiny screwdrivers necessary.  I love wooden toys for the kids.  They seem…sturdy.  Well, just not the generic brand from Meijer, apparently.

Subjects covered:  Science, Math, Reading.

Total time spent: About 1 1/2 hours.

5/16/09

May 17, 2009

We started our day by reading books, as usual. We re-read all the books from yesterday. Today he understood the telling time book a bit more. He can tell the difference between the minute hand and hour hand at least. He knows when the minute hand is on the 12, it’s something “o’clock”. We made grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch and he told me he has a lot of fun cooking with me. I’ll have to make more of an effort to include him in that. By about 1:00 he was driving me crazy so I set him on the floor with old sales ads, some scissors, construction paper, and a glue stick. I told him to cut out pictures of veggies and paste them to the sheet. He had a blast with it. Not too shabby for a last-minute activity. I’m going to eventually have him do one for each food group. He wrote “VEGGIES” on the top all by himself!

In the afternoon, he played with his friend again and when it started to rain, she came in and I gave them the sales papers again. Poor little girl cried when she had to go home! It’s so funny the things kids find interesting. LOL I told her we could finish up the next time she came over.

Here’s Adrian’s veggies….he’s pointing to his favorite. 🙂

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Subjects covered: Reading, Writing, Math, Health and Nutrition, Art.
Total time spent: About 2 hours