Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sonny Boy's Library Picks

I cannot be the only one...who realizes that they sway even the most simplest of their child's decisions, whether it be making a healthier snack choice, "Not the cookies, what about the carrots?" or while scrutinizing the latest Lego sets at the toy store, "Why not look at the smaller sets of Lego's, then you can get more for your money?" But once we send our precious tykes off to the salt mill, otherwise known as elementary school, they are given opportunities to make choices minus our best efforts to lead them in a good direction, and their freedom of choice gives us the opportunity to see reflections of our lessons of making good choices and their budding personalities all rolled into one.

This has been the case with Sonny Boy's trips to the school library, where the kids are allowed to choose a book they are interested in, some of his classmates choose picture books or comic books, but Sonny Boy has developed a theme....and it is alright with me.

Dinosaur: DK Eyewitness Books
This was such a great choice!  The pictures are so detailed and the information is presented in a way that holds my kindergartner's attention (not always easy to do, I've lost him on much more kid-friendly books in the past).

This book covers the dinosaurs from scaly head to lengthy tail, it discusses who coined the term dinosaur, what environmental conditions the dinosaurs thrived in, the theories about what happened to the dinosaurs, and of course fossils.

The DK Dinosaur book is the kind of book that you and your kids will return to over and over again, while still finding something new to read and learn about those enormous extinct creatures that were the dinosaurs.

Other recent choices hand picked by Sonny Boy

Tigers by Helen Frost 
This books was another good choice.  The pictures of these big cats are fantastic and the author gives the little ones a chance to understand where tigers live and what they do (hunt, take care of their babies, and swim of course...you know, the usual).

Ladybugs (Creepy Creatures) by Monica Hughes
Bugs...bugs...bugs. Not my choice of a little light reading, as I have a slightly huge fear of most creepy crawly critters, but still interesting all the same.  In this book, all about ladybugs, we learned about these little beauties hard and soft wings, how ladybugs eat other insects (later, aphids), and where baby ladybugs come from (don't get any big ideas about not having to breech this question again in the future...where ladybug babies come from is not similar enough to where human babies come from, sorry). 

That is a small glimpse into the literary world in our home thanks to the elementary school library's great selection of books for our young readers. For more information on any of the books on Sonny Boy's Library Picks list click the covers and you'll be linked to Amazon.com.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Character Not Awarded

I cannot be the only one…who has found their child's first year of public Kindergarten trying at the best of times and down right frustrating the rest of the time. I’ve discussed my dismay at the entirely satisfactory report card (literally, all satisfactory marks) and the abundance of fundraising being pushed on us monthly, but my latest annoyance is in response to the Character Awards.

The Character Awards are a school wide ceremony held on the playground in the morning before the kids head off to their classrooms. Each teacher chooses four students from their class to acknowledge with an award, such as most improved, good sportsmanship, etc., and then the award is presented to the students by the school principal.

Sure, this all sounds friendly and inane enough, but the way the school goes about the award
This boy's character is boundless!
ceremony and the reasons Sonny Boy’s teacher doles out the awards is where my issues comes into play.

First, only the parents of the children receiving an award are alerted of the ceremony. The rest of us parents find out the morning of the ceremony when the parking lot is overflowing and well-dressed families are flooding onto the playground with cameras hanging from their necks. Why not let all the parents know about the award ceremony?

Secondly, some of the awards that have been issued to Sonny Boy’s classmates have been to children with behavioral problems who receive the “Shows Improvement” award, or the student with the broken arm during the first semester who was awarded “Good Sportsmanship” (I guess he had to sit on the bench while the other children played, which constitutes good sportsmanship).  These awards have been based on extraneous circumstances, how could another child compete for good sportsmanship unless he had a broken arm to NOT complain about, or how could they show improvement unless their frequent visits to the principals office have decreased recently?

Thirdly, the children who have not received an award, but watched politely and cheered for their peers while they were being recognized and awarded, are confused about what it takes to become one of those special kids.  Sonny Boy actually said to me after the most recent Character Awards ceremony, “I have to start trying a lot harder if I am ever going to get one of those awards.” Obviously, breaking my heart and forcing me to make up for his feelings of inadequacy with an impromptu trip to the frozen yogurt shop (and letting him load on his own toppings, an expensive way to show that I think he has character).

I know not everyone can win an award, I don’t necessarily agree with the handing out of trophies just for participating, and I do think having our children learn to be graceful losers is an important life lesson, but at school it would be nice to level the playing field a little when acknowledging our little scholars for their displays of character.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Kids Love Camping & The Gear

I cannot be the only one...whose child is fond of accessories, the backpack, a pencil case, and when it comes to camping, forget it, he doesn't even know where to start with all the fun stuff. During our Spring Break we popped up the tent and camped for three days, giving Sonny Boy a chance to put all his camping accoutrements to use (he may have liked playing with the accessories more than he did roasting marshmallows or sleeping in a tent). Here is a list of a few of his favorite camping must haves:
photo credit: amazon.com

The Lantern: I mean, obviously the lantern is a necessity; a dark tent, stumbling around for pajama's, and making sure that stuffed rabbit that your kiddo just can't sleep without is somewhere in sight, are all reasons a lantern is a tent must have.

photo credit: amazon.com
The Sleeping Bag: Sleeping away from home is one thing, but sleeping in a nylon walled tent is another, and maximum comfort makes sleeping while camping a little easier.  A good, warm, and of course fun sleeping bag makes for a good siesta under the stars

photo credit: amazon.com
The Headlamp: It doesn't matter that you just took a trip down to the restroom before you zipped your family back up into the tent, that one last bathroom call will happen, and a headlamp is a cool hands free way to find your way back and forth from the bathroom once the stars are in the sky.

These are just a few of the items that made our family pilgrimage out into the wild (okay, so it wasn't so wild in the heart of San Diego) a smidgen more comfortable and fun.  Before you head out on your next camping trip double check your accessories (or gear, as my boys prefer call it) and make sure you have those little comforts that make for a happy trip.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Law of Spring Break

I cannot be the only one....who has been with a group of people when your child decides to show a less than polite side of their personality, leaving you laying down the law in a little tougher of fashion than usual, much to your chagrin.  This is exactly what happened while we were on our big family Spring Breakin' vacation.

The tent popped-up for three.
Allow me to set the stage for you, camping in San Diego, our little family of three hunkered down in a tent staked out next to the Grandparents RV. A noisy street and a flock of cawing crows making it difficult to sleep past four am, if there was any sleeping happening up to that point anyways, for three consecutive nights.  Tack no sleep up with sore backs from laying on air mattresses, the derailment from any semblance of our usual routine, and you get grumpy adults towing around a feisty kid.  

We took this lovely combo, of over tired adults and off kilter child, and decided to take a trip to the USS Midway Museum. The air craft carrier turned museum entails small spaces, narrow stairwells, and a few unfortunate mannequins, all of which caused Sonny Boy to decide he was finished with the museum and he didn't care who knew it. Sonny Boy stopped on the massive air craft carrier in an under sea level hallway, and told me, "I am done with this tour and I want out of here!" I looked ahead of us and saw no daylight breaking through anytime soon, I looked behind us and saw a long line of brightly dressed tourist holding cameras and audio tour devices, and I bent down to eye level with Sonny Boy and said, in my best impersonation of a mother not on the brink, "To bad, because you are finishing this tour."  This didn't go over well, Sonny Boy dug his heels in against the tide of well-traveled visitors to the USS Midway, making it clear he had no plans of moving, his visit was done, and that was it for him.
USS Midway...and a tourist.

As a Mama stuck between museum goers breathing down my neck and a stubborn six year old, I knew I had to put an end to this situation and do it fast.  I looked into Sonny Boys baby blue eyes and told him quietly, but sternly, that he would be moving his feet, he would stop being stubborn, and that people (including ourselves) had paid money to walk around inside this metal wonder docked off the coast of San Diego and he would NOT be ruining it for anyone, so buck up and start walking.

Surprisingly, it worked.  We kept the flow of tourism moving and eventually made it back to the flight deck and the glorious, glorious sunshine, at which point the Sonny Boy's interest was renewed with the wonder of the enormous ship and we lived the rest of the tour happily ever after.

I know there is a lot of parenting talk about not shaming or yelling at our children, but there are times when I have to shut down the behavior before it gets into full swing terror mode.  I don't like being "that" parent, I'd prefer to be fair, even tempered, and handle childhood with a fashionable flair, but sometimes sleep deprived, at the end of her patience, not-so tolerant-Mama has to step in and get the job done.

Sonny Boy back in the tour game.
I think there are times for rationalizing and making lemonade life lessons out of our children's lemon behavior, but I have to admit there are other times that "Because I say so" is the best way to handle my little person in the making.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

It's Still Relevant...

I cannot be the only one...who is off Spring Breakin' this week! We've packed every belonging that would fit in the back of the Hubs car and are hitting the road for some sunshine, lots of are we there yets, and plenty of over priced souvenirs.  I'll be taking notes and return with a few "I cannot be the only one" moments: vacation edition.

While I am off slathering on the SPF, I offer you a post from a couple of months ago that is about a common occurrence in our house, the decision of whether or not we should eat the meal that I prepared because of...well, you'll see.

So, enjoy the post, leave me your "should we eat this" moments in the comments, and enjoy your week!

Click here for post: Should We Eat This?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Anthropologie Style Inspirations

I cannot be the only one...who is in enamored with the styling of the store Anthropologie, but disappointed when I look at the price tags of their fabulous wares. Then I started seeing a trend on my social networks of Anthropologie inspired crafty projects and thought, "Once again, I know I am not alone." Other Mama's love the panache of this mall anchored store and are also put off by the expensive costs, so they decided to DIY it, and do a fantastic job at it.

Here are my favorite Anthropologie inspired crafts, please visit these artistic geniuses and dress yourself and home in dazzling style for less:

DIY Rope Bracelets (Anthropologie inspired) by Made in a Day
These rope bracelets are so simple with so much style.  What a great way to add interest to an outfit, not to mention that conversation piece accessories are always a personal favorite. Check out this DIY Rope Bracelets craft and tons of other inspiring ideas at: Made in a Day.
photo credit: http://madeinaday.com

Atom Art Bowls (Anthropologie inspired) by Lolly Jane
I am a fan of festive bowls, bowls with character, and I love these hand decorated bowls by Lolly Jane. Imagine how much more cheerful your next scoop of chocolate ice cream will be when you are spooning it out of one of these lovely bowls.  For all the down-low on these bowls, please visit Lolly Jane.
photo credit: http://lollyjane.com

Inventors Bell Jar Lamp (Anthropologie inspired) by Made in Crafts
This is no joke, this industrial style lamp looks so cool, and the how-to tutorial is very comprehensive, even I may give this a try.  I think this lamp would great on a side table next to a plant, what an awesome juxtaposition of nature and industry.  Check out all (and I mean all the instructions) at Made in Crafts.

photo credit: http://madeincrafts.com

We are officially off on Spring Break...maybe I'll give one of these Anthropologie inspired crafts a try during our mini vacation...please be sure to visit one or all of these artisan bloggers and save yourself a buck by crafting your own style.

Until next time....

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

5 Things Kids Do Too Long

I cannot be the only one...who has suffered through one day too many of their child's whining and began to wonder, how long is this whining phase going to last? Some of the things my six year old does seem to never change, perpetuating for what feels like forever.  With this in mind, I decided to list the 5 changes Sonny Boy has been reluctant to make, and, in the name optimism, the changes that happened so fast, I missed them while they were happening.  I am sure you will be able to relate, so here we go:

5 Things Kids Do Too Long

1. Throwing tantrums. 
Do I really need to say anything about the horror of the extended shelf life of tantrums? Sure, the tantrum changes from laying on the floor, kicking their feet, and screaming, to outright refusal to comply, snarky attitude or sulking, but no matter how the tantrum manifest itself, it's really all the same.

2. Picky eating.
The pure look of disgust on Sonny Boy's face when I bring anything to the table, with the exception of Dino-nuggets or grilled cheese sandwiches, has been happening since the day the highchair hit the donation center. I keep waiting for his taste to mature a little, I am not talking reduction wine sauces, but at least a cheeseburger would be change in the right direction.

3. Wiping of the nose on the back of the hand or sleeve.
What is this disgusting habit? This is not a habit learned by watching the parents (at least I hope not). I keep tissue at the ready at all times, but there is something about that back of the hand or sleeve that is just to tempting to resist for our youngsters.

4. Babbling to them self.
Half the time I am not sure if Sonny Boy is even talking to me, and if he is talking to me, is he speaking a different language? The constant noise making that comes out of my child's mouth is exhausting, and the babbling has not changed since the blessed day of my child's birth.

5. Needing Mama to do everything for them.
Changing diapers and feeding your little bundle if joy is completely understandable, but there comes a point when your kindergartner is still calling to you from the bathroom in need of bottom wiping, that something has got to give.

In honor of being the type of Mama that likes to say the juice box is half full, I now offer you the following: 

5 Changes Our Kids Make Too Soon

1. No longer calling you Mama or Mommy.
The sad day comes, ready or not, that your sweet baby will start referring to you as Mom in place of the endearing Mommy or Mama you've grown so fond of hearing.  Sometimes the "Mom" will be in the form of a whine, others it will be a frustrated grump, but either way it's not the Mama you've loved hearing.

 Laughter, I just stubbed my toe.
2. Stop thinking your funny.
Those days when crossing your eyes and puffing up your cheeks is all it took to elicit unsurpassed laughter, quickly come to an end sadly. It becomes harder to get that kiddo to squirt milk through their nose, and, if by some chance you do get a hearty laugh out of Junior, well, it will most likely be at your expense (you trip, spill something, or say a bad word under your breath after stubbing your toe will always crack a kid up).

3. Hugging and kissing you goodbye are no more.
The days when your darling clung to your leg and kept you coming back for one more smooch goodbye, those days that you would wonder how long am I going to have pry these sweaty hands off my pant leg, come to end faster than you will like. Dropping off at kindergarten was a stressful event for the first month, the goodbyes were overflowing and endless, now I am lucky if Sonny Boy even remembers to wave to me as he follows his classmates into their classroom.

4. Taking naps go the way of the dodo.
The one luxury of motherhood is nap time. That hour, half an hour, heck even just ten minutes, whatever the length, that peaceful time when your head hits the cool pillowcase, you close your hot and heavy eyelids, and fall into a peaceful midday nap is glorious. This beautiful rest time is a short lived indulgence. Nap time stops becoming guaranteed daily and eventually peters out to a maybe, if your lucky, sort of thing. Naps stop happening too soon!

5. Stop needing Mama for everything.
One day you offer to pour the sweet child a juice and they tell you, "I can do it." They can do it? This is just the beginning, the next thing you know they can magically wash their own hair and pick out their own clothes (and not just stripped shorts in the middle of winter or a hockey jersey in the dog days of summer), their sweet dimpled faces stop needing you for everything and that is a bitter sweet day for Mama.