Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Homeschool-ish

Bugga wearing her backpack around the
house because she is "going to school to
eat pizza and read books".
Since my daughter is on the back end of the calendar as far as school start dates go (she was born in November), she gets "extra" time before she officially needs to be enrolled in school. As it is, she has been a sponge for months and months now, and I feel I really need to start teaching her some school skills since she loves what we've done so far. And maybe along the way she will use her parrot act to regurgitate some cool facts, versus just something I said when I didn't think she was listening. Oops.

As I posted recently, we started surrounding Bugga with All Things Alphabet and she loves it. I want to take advantage of this while I can, so I have been researching ways of creating age-appropriate lessons for her to learn more about what each letter looks and sounds like, and how they work with words. She's not quite ready to start using a writing device to draw the letters, but I have found a way to modify the concept to her abilities and still make it fun and educational.

My thought is to focus on one letter per week, and have 7-8 approaches to learning all about that letter. Each week we then choose 5 or so lessons to learn, allowing for a variety. After a month or two, when we have covered several letters, I hope to have lessons that focus on the combination of the previous letters learned to work on word construction.

By doing it this way, I am able to create a lot of the materials in advance so I can just print out what I need or whatever and run with it. Parenting doesn't give you a lot of time to prep, so I needed the tools for the lessons to be quick and easy. This is also useful for short attention spans - my 2-year-old will only watch me setup a project for so long before she no longer cares and would rather play with her Legos.

With regards to creating the materials, I have gathered ideas from many resources, and then ultimately I decided to create my own version so it fits the idea I have in my head. I plan to share these materials as free downloads wherever applicable, so hopefully they can be of some use to other back-of-the-calendar toddlers. 

I'll post the links to the post with the printables as soon as I get them uploaded!

Happy learning!

Sometimes We Don't Relate I Guess

I remember when Bugga was about 7 months old and I was struggling with her sleep regression, waking up with her every night at random times, for 100 different reasons - she was practicing standing, her pacifier fell out of the crib, she had a stuffed up nose...anything. It always seemed to be something. I remember sharing my woes with a friend of mine whose son is about a year older. Her response, "Hmmm, oh well we never had that problem so I can't help. Sorry!" said with an inappropriately cavalier attitude. Guess how much I see this friend since this stellar understanding moment? Yeah, not much.

Was her son always an awesome sleeper? The odds are against it, but sure it's possible. Is that really the point though? The point, at least from my perspective, was to be just the teensiest bit understanding about my situation. I mean, we're both moms right? We've likely read a lot of the same books about parenting and know relatively the same general information about all there is to know about the possibility that our children might have some trouble sleeping at some point. And I was likely mentioning my strife for 30 lousy seconds of commiseration. Commiseration I didn't get.

We just finished a weekend of the initial move to potty train my 2.5 year old daughter. It was a long weekend of never leaving the house, with highs and (really gross) lows but we did make it out the other side. I am happy to say she spent the entire day at preschool today with ZERO accidents - and this is just Day 4.

Anyway, I was reminded of the situation above when I left the house for a lousy hour this past weekend to run some quick errands that included picking up more Frozen and Minnie Mouse underwear that have been helping to motivate my daughter, as well as restocking our supply of several small prizes for her successes. While at the checkout of one of the stores, I get into a conversation with the cashier regarding what I was in the midst of at home (nope, that stash of sequined $1 princess crowns are not for a party actually, but instead are poop rewards - hey you asked), making it pretty obvious that it's been exhausting. No joke, she says, "Ah yes...with my daughter she just put on her underwear one day and that was it. It was great!" Ughhhhhh, seriously?

So what is with the knee-jerk lack of empathy between moms? Is this normal? Has it happened to anyone else?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Alphabet Big AND Little

My older daughter is about 34 months old (we say 2 around here, don't worry, just perspective if you need it) and she is excellent at recognizing and naming her letters. Starting about a year ago we have been surrounding her with "all things alphabet" and she has just SOAKED it all up! Now that we are back in Houston we are spending a lot more time in the car with longer commutes, so we've started playing "find the letters" while we travel. From doing this, I noticed that while Bugga is EXCELLENT at recognizing her capital letters, not so much with the lower-case.

So I'm putting a lot more focus on the lower case now, simply by presenting the "little" letter next to the "big" version whenever we do things letter-related.

For example, recently we worked on a pre-writing skill by using both stickers and dot markers to make the big and small letters (this post coming soon).

I also made letter flash card packets that show pictures that start with a particular letter, presented with both big and little. These are also fantastic for our car rides - I just grab a letter each morning to bring with us. (this post coming soon too!)

I even updated Bug's room design to include the little letters. The way her room is positioned she can stare at her wall alphabet whenever she is awake in her bed (more often than I prefer, but so be it).

This is the "before" room when we still lived in Calgary.

This is the "after" in our Houston home - both letter sizes!

What have you done to help your toddler/preschooler associate both sizes of letters?


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Baby Labels: What Do You Name the Kid?

I'm sure you've done it. I know I have. A lot. You meet someone, get introduced, and their name is just...weird. And obviously that is only your opinion, because apparently SOMEONE liked that name in order for this person to own it.

When you are a kid and you name your dolls or your stuffed animals or your Someday Kids, you try on a lot of names to see what you like. By the time you are an adult, you likely have an idea of what your top monikers for babies would be should you get to that point.

Then you meet your future spouse and start to procreate and now have to merge these finalists into just ONE name you agree on (or two or three or however many kids you end up having). Needless to say, it can be near impossible to land on the one word in the world that you both love enough to label your precious offspring.

With our first baby, my husband and I didn't know what gender we were having, so we prepared two lists over the months, deciding in month 9 on first the Girl Name, and then the Boy Name. Although it was harder to agree on names for boys, in hindsight it seemed like it was relatively easy to agree in general.

Baby number two was different for some reason. I don't know if it was the added pressure of having a second child (the sibling names "have to" "go together"), having a second daughter (we can't use our previous boy name list and just be done with it), or what, but I was already past my due date by the time we agreed on a name we both like.

This is literally the list of preferences I put on a name candidate:
* First name 2 syllables, middle name 3 syllables (just like our first child)
* One "girlie" name, the other "not so girlie" (just like the first kid)
* Can't end in "R" (our last name starts with "R")
* First name cannot end with the same letter that which the middle name begins
* Can't end in any variation of "-ley", "ly", "lie", etc. - basically cannot rhyme with our last name (never mind I love all names that end like this)

And this was before we even eliminated names of all of our exes, living family
Seriously? OK, maybe I'm still
scoffing at some names...
 names, and obvious seasonal names (I really wanted Noelle for a middle name for this December 21st baby but husband vetoed it).

I downloaded several name picker apps to my phone and we spent hours going through them. We poured through the cast lists on IMDB looking for something we both loved. We wore out the internet looking up all the First Female Anythings to find a name with history. 

This is where it dawned on me. All the names I had ever thought were "weird" when I first heard them? Not so much! I surprised myself by considering names I might have - and DID - scoff at all those years ago because hearing them now categorized them as "unique" and "modern" and not so bad...maybe. And then you read all the Top Unique and Modern Baby Names lists and see them on there again and then really wonder how unique they can possibly be anyway if they're on a list like that in the first place!

Then there's the realization that everyone having a baby around the same time as us was also looking for a baby name that is something people have heard of, but not well enough that the kid is one of seven in their Kindergarten class. It's a vicious cycle.

At least we decided before the baby appeared. You hear these stories of babies that were in the hospital for days before their parents figured it out. Or they took another few months even, where special paperwork has to be filed! Yikes!

We are probably done having kids, but I'm sure we'll have some pets to name in the future...and one of them might be the perfect candidate for "Coco", "Apple" or "Rocket".


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Nursery Room Reveal

I recently posted the ideas I used for inspiration when putting together my second daughter's nursery. Well, here is how it all turned out!

I ended up using a turquoise, white and silver palette with a baroque/damask (uhhhhyeahhhh to be honest, I don't know the difference!) and butterfly theme (I was unable to choose one or the other so just went with BOTH!). I tried to tie in the design across the different details so it ended up flowing pretty well.

Let me give you a tour!

Starting from the left of the door I put Bella's changing table and the glider that I have had since pregnant with Bugga. The glider doesn't exactly match, but I was not about to buy another glider just to get it to match the room. I toss baby blankets on it all the time anyway. 

Do you know what drove the color? The curtains. I wanted (NEEDED) some quality blackout curtains, and I found an Etsy designer that offered an excessive amount of fabric patterns. This one I found is perfect for what I was looking for. Then, I spray-painted an IKEA mirror to match the turquoise color in the curtains. I also ordered a matching changing table cover and boppy cover from another Etsy store. In between the mirror and the curtains is my burst of butterflies. 



Here is another view that includes the boppy cover - the fabric is super soft.



And perhaps a slightly closer view of my butterfly installation. I like calling it an installation, you know, because I'm a museum-level arteest and all.

I was going for a "just released" effect and love the multiple dimensions of the butterflies since the wings come out from the wall, and they are scattered all over multiple walls and the ceiling.

Moving to the other side of the room, you can see the crib and bookshelf. This will be the second baby to sleep in this crib that I love. I continued the butterfly theme with the butterfly mobile over the crib, and the butterfly framed rhinestone piece on the bookshelf. I found some ornate frames to match the feel of the curtains and the mirror, spray-painting them to match the room, and lucked out finding drawers/doors to work with the IKEA bookshelf, as well as some turquoise toy bins. I also purchased some silver damask decals that run up the wall over the bookshelf, as well as up the wall right next to the door. I made Bugga a pink striped pillow poof so she'd have some place to sit and play while I nurse her little sister in the glider during the day when it's just the three of us at home.

Here's a closer look at the butterfly mobile I made.


And a closer (yet blurry, sorry) picture so you can see the rhinestone detail of the framed butterfly. 


Here's a straight-on view of the bookshelf and the coordinating decor. I painted the frames, and the mats, and modified some prints to fit my vision after seeing a variety all over the internet.


I forgot to take pictures of the closet and door wall, but all that's interesting from that view is the silver damask decal that is slightly different than the one over the bookshelf.

I really enjoyed decorating this room, and I truly enjoy just being in it now - it is so relaxing. I'm also proud of how everything turned out! After all is said and done, I made/customized so much of it myself:
  • the mirror
  • the butterfly installation
  • the striped pillow poof
  • the butterfly mobile
  • the frames, mats and prints
  • the butterfly framed rhinestone art

I hope to post additional details on how I made each of my crafts and will link from here as they become available. And now that we have moved 4 months into Bella's life and I've had to recreate this room in an entirely new house, I will also post updated photos on the variation of the design once I get all of it set back up (and reordered where applicable - darn non-reusable decals!). I hope you enjoyed your tour!

Also, if you want to check out Bugga's 2-year-old room, click here!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Need More? Now You Can Stalk Us on Instagram

I'm late to the party, I know, but I am finally on the Instagram train. What I find great about it is I don't have to bombard all my Facebook friends with seven million photos of my kids when I can instead bombard all the Instagram strangers who WANT to see pictures from my life if they choose to follow me.

Anyway, if you are curious about our visual life, please check it out! I can promise you endless photos of cute and quirky kids, and the occasional random philosophical thought. But less of the latter. I'm too busy parenting.

Just click here and then click the "Follow" button!

Instagram

Nursery Inspiration

Like my toddler's room, my newborn's nursery was put together based on a lot of ideas I consolidated over time. Now that my daughter is here, and her gender is public knowledge, I can now share the results of the nursery. But first - the inspiration!

With Bugga, we were also in a rental (and very small) house. I knew we'd likely move shortly after she was born so I decorated one side of our guest room using some basic details. We chose to be surprised on the boy/girl topic, so I went with a green and white beach-y theme with surfing monkeys (of course) and various sea creatures.

Since we knew Bella would be a girl, somehow I started heading down the path of a very girlie design. If anyone knows me at all, you know that this isn't typically my style, but I just couldn't help being drawn to it. I'm not sure if it's because I was limited with the first nursery or not.

So here is where I started:

Color Pallette:

I was really gravitating toward white and a metallic/mirrored silver.  And perhaps a pop of something else but I wasn't sure right away. I'm going to toss out the idea of pink, but I doubt I'll go that stereotypical.


 





Overall Look & Feel:

Classic. Warm. Feminine. I just love all of these examples and really wanted to go in this direction.





Wall Design:

I almost went with more stripes like I ended up doing in Bugga's room. I swear, stripes call to me. You should see my closet.



Wall Decor / Curtains:

I love the Baroque style of the frames and mirror.
I would love to add a whimsical "installation"-style detail like a group of butterflies.
A custom-made mobile over the crib would be adorable.
I love the style and color of this mirror.

I like the pop of color in the curtains, but I also like the pattern on the wall as an accent.

I always seem to sing this to my daughter...so sweet!

Girl power! And a little Shakespeare.

Furniture / Accessories:

The new nursery will use the same crib I had in Bugga's room, and I will order another white dresser. I'll also move the glider from Bugga's room to the nursery and probably add a bookshelf to display little details and store books and toys.
These are super sweet and would be a nice detail in a nursery.
I guess basically I'm going for a classic feel for the room and I am surprised how I excited I am to go this route. The room itself has a tan carpet and off-white walls, so the all-white look won't be happening, and my glider (which I am not recovering) is a tan color.

Again, I am limited with what I can order in Canada, and I hope to make a lot of the little details myself.

Click here to see how everything turned out!