Ohh, Betsy!

Hello, again. August 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anna @ 2:25 pm

I took an unexplained hiatus from this blog. The reason why it was unexplained was simple enough – I couldn’t explain it. Deep, right? That and I was busy gestating two beautiful girls. Truth was that blogging kind of took a back seat to life. I began my first blog when I had Grant. I needed a project to keep my free time occupied while on maternity leave. And now, although I am not technically on maternity leave because I don’t work out of the home, I am returning to blogging. You may wonder how I have time to blog considering I have a four-year old and newborn twins. I’m not so sure I do have the time. But, something I know for sure is that when I spend my days (and nights) feeding babies, wrangling my preschooler, changing diapers and cleaning bottles, I need some outlet to the world. The world is foreign to me now. My world is contained inside my house and I am not predicting a lot of mobility in the coming months. I’m pretty sure it took me 20 minutes just to get all three kids in the car last Saturday – and that was with the help of my husband. Hello again internet, it’s me, Anna.

{Photo by Casey Mullins Photography}

 

Steve Colt! February 7, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anna @ 6:29 pm

I think I might be allergic to Indiana. It’s too bad because I really like it here. Every time I’ve walked out of my house the past three days, I am immediately struck with a sinus headache that knocks me out for the rest of the day. Right now is no exception. I should be making dinner for my husband but instead, he’s doing it (he’s cool like that). Of course, dinner might end up being a big plate of nachos. He keeps telling me that he’s going to make us nachos so we can watch the Superbowl.

Watch the Superbowl? Us? Yes,, we’re planning on it (except for an hour devoted to Masterpiece Theater’s conclusion of Emma). It’s kind of unavoidable  living here in Indiana. We’re bound to be Colts fans. We’ve watched more professional football this season that ever before. But I still giggle when I hear people say, “Go, Colts!” because I just say in my head, “Steve Holt!” and want to lift up my arms.

So anyway, if any of you are browsing the internet instead of watching the Superbowl today, might I recommend my featured Valentine’s playlist on Today’s Mama? You’ll find it here.

 

EAT YOUR CHICKENS! January 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anna @ 11:39 pm

Before moving to Indiana, my exposure to Chick-fil-A was limited. I can only think of one in the greater Salt Lake area which might not currently exist since it was in the food court of a mall that was gutted. That all changed when we moved here and I beheld a Chick-fil-A within minutes of our neighborhood.

Given my little experience with Chick-fil-A, I wasn’t in any hurry to go there. Particularly since we don’t usually eat fast food unless we’re on the road. Then came the promise of free food. Sorry, but I’m a sucker for free food.  Chick-fil-A is always giving away free food. Free breakfast week. Kids night. Oh, and then there’s the lucky 100 who get free food for a year when they wait in line before a new restaurant opens. Plus there are always coupons being sent out for more free food. How can one resist?

The free food got me to go in but there are oodles of reasons why I keep going. They have a great play place. They have these little plastic placemats that stick to the table so your kids don’t put their food and fingers all over the table of questionable cleanliness. They actually have an amazingly tasty sandwich that is low in fat and calories. And their workers don’t glare at me and look eternally pissed off. Okay, so I’ll stop gushing now.

Although I had heard of kids’ night, I never went out of my way to go. Sure, there is the promise of a free kid’s meal and a balloon artist on site but I usually use Chick-fil-A as a lunch spot, not dinner. But one fateful evening, we were out getting flu shots as a family and it was getting late. I made the command decision to have dinner at Chick-fil-A. It happened to be kids’ night.

The place was insane. Kids were going wild in the play place. G sat at the table staring wide-eyed at the guy next to us who was slapping the table with his hand and shouting to his children, “EAT YOUR CHICKENS! EAT YOUR CHICKENS!” A creepy five year-old kept invading my personal space, touching me unnecessarily and saying strangely invasive things about how he had looked in our windows last night. It’s not like I was surprised. I had just heard a piece on This American Life about the people that stay out all night in line waiting for free sandwiches. Some odd people come out of the cracks. I knew that there were bound to be a few eccentric people lured in by free food.

As we stood in line for a balloon animal, G was particularly grateful for this special mid-week treat.  G is always willing to give me a kiss. Big kisses. He likes to give me a really long kiss on the cheek accompanied with a loud “mmmmwaaah” or many small kisses all over my face or both. And that night, he was particularly affectionate because every minute or so, he pulled me down to give me a big kiss.  I was sure everyone in the place was thinking we were just like the kissing family on Saturday Night Live.  It was then that I realized, we fit right in with the “free food crowd”.

 

My thoughts on a mommy run preschool January 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anna @ 9:23 pm

I’ve had several friends ask me about the mommy run preschool that I am a part of so I’ve decided to make a post about how we work. I thought I would try to pass on the nuggets of wisdom I’ve gathered over the past year and a half. And when I say, “nuggets of wisdom”, I mean “stuff I’ve learned”. It just sounds so much more impressive when using the word “wisdom”, right? (But maybe less impressive when I say “nuggets”?)

The story began with my friend Alli. Alli is the one who I can always count on to come up with really great ideas to get people together to do something fun and rewarding. She was the one who really got things going for us. At first, the thought of teaching a group of kids and coming up with ideas to teach was way too much for my little brain to handle. But, following her like the little duckling I am, I agreed. We started in 2008 with what we called a “junior preschool”. When we began, the kids were 2 1/2 to 3 years old. G was the youngest of the bunch so I was a bit worried but he held his own. The group consisted of 5 kids with their respective mothers. Each mom took a turn teaching. We taught once a week for two hours and at the end of each 5 week session we would have a field trip on the sixth week as a group.

I think we only did two or three sessions the first year. The kids were still just learning to sit still. It was more a matter of keeping the kids engaged than really teaching them anything. Craft time was a little advanced for them. We had to really keep the crafts simple or help them one-on-one while letting the others have free time.

So how did we come up with lesson plans? Since we only did three rounds, we pretty much just picked our own topics. You know, the generic type of topics – Nature, Dinosaurs, Things that Go, The City, Farm Animals, etc.  All the kids knew the alphabet well so instead of doing a letter a week, we focused on numbers. Each mom had a number to incorporate into their lesson. As for the schedule for the day, we came up with a few things we wanted to include like show and tell and “table time” (coloring, puzzles, etc. done at the table all together). We had the freedom to mix things up but still had a bit of a schedule so the kids could be familiar with a little routine.

Our routine basically included table time, “opening exercises” (welcome song, prayer, show and tell, weather chart, alphabet review), the lesson, snack time, craft time, music time, free time (we set out learning books for them to choose and look through). Click here to see my lesson plan template for 2-3 year old preschool. We usually kept the opening all the same but the rest of the time could be planned however each mom wanted.

The first year wasn’t all roses for me. I had a great time teaching but G misbehaved when I taught at our house. I heard from other mothers that this was common. Just throwing that out as a warning – your kid might be really difficult to handle when you are the teacher even if they are an angel at the other homes. He got better after I gave him a lot of warning that I was teaching and that he needed to behave.

Fall 2009 was the start of our second year. Since the kids were at this time were 3 1/2 to 4 years old, we thought we would be able to do a bit more. We decided to teach twice a week for 2 1/2 hours. We used the same rotation of each mom teaching for a week and at the end of the 5 week rotation, we would do a field trip during the sixth week.

This year, we bumped up the schedule by incorporating hands-on type activities. Each mom came up with a couple of activities (sorting, matching, etc.). We keep all the activities together in a box and we pass on the box every week to the mom who is teaching. The activities are placed in one central spot so the kids start the morning by picking an activity to do by themselves. Once they complete one activity, they clean it up, bring it back and pick another activity. In order to keep the kids attention and interest, we have to rotate the activities. Usually, we put one or two new activities in with the bunch at the beginning of the new session.

We sat down at the end of summer and set up our calendar. As for topics for this year, we came up with general ideas for units. Once we had an idea for the units, each mom came up with a theme for a week in the unit. Sometimes the themes overlapped a little and sometimes we had to go a little outside of the unit theme but we all felt like it worked out well. This is a breakdown of our themes for this year (my lessons are in red font):

Body: All About Me, My Body, Hygiene, Diet/Nutrition, Exercise

Earth: Reduce-Reuse-Recycle, Garden, Seasons, Weather, Nature

Winter: Thanksgiving, Cultural Celebrations, Winter Fun, Christmas, America

Animals: Forest Animals, Ocean Animals, Desert Animals, Cold Climate Animals, Jungle Animals

Community: Grocery Store, Librarian, Firefighters, Hospital, Police

Art: Colors and Shapes, Photography, Music/Dance, Symphony, Art Appreciation

In addition to the theme for the week, we assigned a letter and a number for the week. Each mom had the freedom to incorporate the theme with the letter and number or to teach them on separate days. For example, when my theme was “Recycle” I taught all about recycling on the first day and on the second day since I had the letter “F” I taught about frogs and the number six.

After each unit, we tried to do field trips that related somehow. After our earth unit we visited a nature center. After the animal unit we plan to go to the zoo. You get the idea.

Our routine this year included activity stations, “opening exercises” (welcome song, pray, show and tell), job chart (each child gets to lead one of the following: pledge, calendar, clock, weather chart, alphabet/number review), exercise time,  snack time, worksheets,  journals (we have a journal that goes home with them each time) and lunch. Click here to see my  lesson plan template for 3-4 year old preschool. Just remember, it’s just a basic template – we usually keep the beginning the same but are free to mix things up!

Okay so my thoughts about a mommy run preschool:

  • Pick a theme that interests you or pick one that you might want to learn more about. I picked Cultural Celebrations because I wanted to learn (and teach) about Kwanzaa.  I thought it would be good for the kids to learn about other cultural celebrations but I thought I could use a little education myself.
  • I put a lot of work into my lessons but I realize that I need to be flexible. Sometimes the kids aren’t as excited to be there or they are too excited to be there. I love to plan out everything but I never hesitate to go with the flow, mix things up, throw in something on the spur of the moment. It will make for happier kids. If the kids are all lying down saying how tired they are, turn it into a game by telling them everyone is going to take a nap.
  • I like to use good books as part of my lesson. But I’ve also discovered that non-fiction children’s books are sometimes just as intriguing to kids as story books. And it’s always good to have back-up books.
  • I sometimes need to try out my crafts before I teach my lesson. I don’t do it for all my crafts but if it is more involved or a little complicated or even something I made up myself, I like to do a test run. I’ve dropped several crafts after trying them out with G the week before because they were too complicated, messy or didn’t turn out the way I wanted.
  • I like constructing my lessons. At first, I wanted to find entire lessons on the internet. Now I like to have the freedom to put it all together myself. I pick my theme, break it down into two separate days, find books, throw in some activities and figure out the crafts.
  • It’s important to have all the moms on the same page. I have a great group of moms that I work with. They all amaze me each time they teach. They all have different talents and I love to see what G comes home with and what he learns. I think we all work well together and all have the same goals for preschool even if we teach differently.
 

Mood Adjustment January 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anna @ 4:52 pm

My child loves the snow. He isn’t phased by the cold. He plays and plays until I get too cold to stay outside any longer and we have to go in.

He also loves his dad (more than snow!). When he doesn’t get to see his dad, he acts out. It’s subtle but his mood and overall behavior takes a hit. The last round of finals left me a teeny bit battered because G was a teeny bit off. I totally understand. Brandon gives full attention to G the moment he walks in the door. They play games that are not as fun with a mommy stand-in. It’s tough on G.

The remedy? Winter break with unlimited dad time.  Plenty of snow to play in. Plenty of dad to play with.

 

If he could, he would December 14, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anna @ 10:14 am

Early this morning, Brandon dutifully got out of bed and jumped into the shower. A minute or two later, G shuffled in to my room and took over Brandon’s empty spot in the bed. He was tired though and went straight back to sleep without missing a beat.

About an hour and a half later, his eyes opened, he put his arms around my neck and said, “I could do everything for you.” A big smile covered his face. Sometimes G’s statements require a little interpretation. Like when he first said “I finished than you”, it actually meant “I finished before you”. So I thought to myself, what does “I could do everything for you” mean? I quickly reviewed the usual sources – is this from a movie? is this something I said? I remembered that I had said, “I would do anything for you.” I say such things when I’m overwhelmed by how amazing my child is and I just blurt out sentimental tidbits. So, I’m thinking what he meant this morning when he said, “I could do everything for you” was really his way of saying he would do anything for me.

And that is a good way to wake up.

 

…to the United States of America November 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anna @ 12:30 pm

I am very grateful to all the veterans who have served America.  I remember when I was young, I thought of veterans of being “old”. I probably had that mindset because 1) I was a kid and 2) my grandfather was a veteran and therefore, I thought veterans were all grandfathers.  I remember being in high school when Desert Storm began. Since that time, my view of veterans changed dramatically. It is difficult for me to fathom, to try and comprehend all the sacrifices made on our behalf by these men and women (and their families) who serve our country. What can I say except, thank you.

 

 
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