From This Moment Forward

kindergarten-webiteIt’s happening.

My daughter starts Kindergarten in twenty-eight more days, and yes, I’m counting.

The thing is, since before she was born, I’ve been counting with her. In the beginning, it was just how many more days until I reached the next trimester of pregnancy, how many more days until Greyson was no longer an only child, and how many days could I possibly go past my due date before my Midwife gave her an eviction notice. Shortly after her birth, it was how many minutes she had nursed, how many hours we succeed in a certain brand of cloth diaper before a major leak, and how many hours I had left caring for two tiny humans before my husband got home from the day.

I can’t forget sleep-or the lack of. Charlotte did.not.sleep. Ever. A ten minute car nap between leaving the grocery store and home, was the equivalency of twelve hours of sleep on cold medicine. At her sixth month photo shoot, girlfriend was doing downward-dog poses, and by 8.5 months she was walking, closely followed by her running after her big brother, and her new obsession: our cat Marigold. How did one tiny person (as in only the 20th% for height and weight) have this much energy, curiosity, and pack more in a day as a tiny tyrant toddler of sleep smuggling? I counted the minutes it took to finally get her to sleep for the night, and enjoyed seeing when I got a full three hours and seven minutes of sleep before spending the next two hours and twelve minutes fighting with her to go to sleep again, as she sat on my lap touching my face as if she needed to memorize every fine line and worry wrinkle she was causing me.

And then, the unimaginable happened: we got pregnant again. My pregnancy with Theo is an entirely different story; one that I don’t like to talk about often, because it was miserable, intense, and full of fear. Instead of enjoying his pregnancy, I spent more time counting down the days when I would finally feel better again. We brought Theo home from the hospital, when Charlotte was 21 months old. And, guess what she did?

She slept through the night. From that moment forward, I knew that it would never be the same. Charlotte, unknowingly overnight accepted her title of not only being the middle child, but being the only sister; the small sister that we can all count on. The next morning is when I stopped counting with her.

Parents are told too many times that the years are short, and to enjoy every moment, and that it’s not okay to want to run away from your children. But, guess what? The years are too short. The years are full of enjoyable moments. It’s also okay to have too many demands to meet in the day in raising tiny humans that the thought of a true break seems fleeting, and guilty, and that it’s not okay to want to be away from the army of children that you’ve created. And, so to deal with the daily flow, we start counting again.

We count how many months until they are ready to potty train, and the months before they start Preschool, and the distance between older and younger siblings in school to consider the cost of their education and if, when, maybe, and how.

So, here we are. The days of counting on, planning for, and memorizing, have led to: your child is starting Kindergarten.

For those with children who are moving off to college, maybe you wish you could be sending your child off to Kindergarten all over again…I’m not sure. I’ve got years between now and then, and I’m not counting how long that time is. For now, I’m going to sit here with my baby girl next to me, as she erases and draws again the horn on the Unicorn she’s been working on all afternoon. We’ve got nothing but time.

 

 

 

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Tackling the Bully of the World

I’m sitting with my trio at the kitchen table, while they use their imaginations like typical UBAM kids, and share with buzzing excitement these out-of-print cards that I scored at the More Store at National Convention this past week. If you’re not familiar with National Convention, you’re either A. Not an Usborne Books & More Consultant (and are missing out!) or B. Are an Usborne Books & More Consultant and did not make it to Convention (you’ll want to plan for Convention 2019 NOW!) I sat down with the intention to review some notes from this past week, and opened up my portfolio where this beauty of a book tumbled out into my hands.

I flipped through it.

I started reading.

I read it some more…and more. And then I glanced up and my children had traced and drawn about ten animals a piece, and before I knew it, I was finished with this book and sat here with my breath held. I looked at my three beautiful and unassuming children and my heart was filled with a combination of both joy and sadness.

Bully on the Bus by Kathryn Apel is the one book that we need right now. It’s the one book that every parent and educator should read. It’s the one book that every child should read and have read to them. It’s the one book that should be in every child’s back-to-school bag given to them by school administrators or PTO groups. Now, this is saying a lot from me, because I believe in the power of books and feel that one book is never enough.

The title of the book is predictable. Yes, there is a bully on the bus. Leroy is picked on by a much older student named DJ. He’s tormented by her daily on the school bus. Leroy’s big sister Ruby tries to step in when she can, but it’s ineffective. The bus driver has tunnel-vision to get all of the children home safely, and his focus is: driving, stopping, and moving on until his bus is empty for the day.

She’s big.

She’s smart.

She’s mean.

She’s the bully on the bus.

She picks on me and I don’t like it.

But

I don’t know

how to make her

stop.

Leroy faces what many other children who are victims of bullying face. He feels like he can’t tell anyone what is happening, he loses interest in school, he creates excuses to avoid his his regular activities and schedule, and he feels lost and even hopeless. He fears telling his parents, and is misunderstood until Ruby speaks up to help explain what it is that her younger brother has been dealing with.

Together with his parents, teacher, and school bus driver, Leroy spends his bus ride immersed in a book of Fairy Tales given to him by his teacher. She tells him that he has a Secret Weapon,  but Leroy doesn’t know what the secret is. Daily, on the bus he gets lost in his book. One single book, where he builds confidence, learns to read better, and learns that he has a voice with the power and knowledge from reading. He learns to speak up to DJ, channeling the inner wisdom gained from reading his Fairy Tales. He finds his voice.

Change

occurs.

Leroy stands up to DJ using his words. He doesn’t use his fists, his body, or a physical weapon. He uses his mind, and his voice. He uses his strength that was gained from within the pages of a book.

We’ve had too many tragedies and senseless acts in the past year, dare I even say in the past week? I find myself becoming desensitized to the school shootings, reports of suicide, and while mass shootings and high-profile suicides are yes, tragic, and yes something that is hard to grasp; what is happening closer to home?

What is happening

in

your home?

It starts at home. You and I? We are our child’s first teacher. Our memories are first created on the laps of our parents. We dive into feedings, and diaper changes, and snuggles and rocking. And, hopefully sooner than later, you introduce a book to your child for the first time. Will it be a classic children’s book? Is it a book gifted to you at your baby shower? Was it a similar title on your bedroom shelf next to a dusty trophy or baseball?

I’m going to let you in on a secret. Are you ready?

Continue to love your child more today than the first day that they were placed in your arms. Your child needs you more today than they did as a brand new baby. That may seem absolutely ridiculous, comparing your completely helpless newborn baby to a walking-talking-have-their-own-opinions child. Just because they no longer need you for all of their care, they do need you more now to be able to learn how to handle the tough parts of life, that whether we want to face them or not, we need to face.

I firmly believe that if we can start tackling life like Leroy, his family, his bus driver, and his teacher, we can start building the lives again of our children-all of our children who are so lost and confused in the world that we live in. Parenting is tough. There are days that I feel that I’m not sure how much longer I can keep wiping up the same spills, mending the same holes in the knees of uniform pants, or tying the same shoes, wishing my children would grow and learn; mature to be able to do more of these things on their own without my assistance. And you know what? It will happen. Someday. Sooner in fact, than I realize. But, somewhere along the way-we’re losing children. We’re losing families. We’re losing the grace and beauty of the day that is mundane with a carelessness that just makes me shake my head in disbelief and embarrassment that so many of us are raising the next generation of children who are not being shown and given to them the tools to find their voice and speak up. To not be afraid. To not share their good days with their bad days. To try to find ways to make our children happy and temporarily satisfied with more technology, less time outdoors, and less time getting lost

In the pages

of

a book.

Yes. This is the one book that your family needs. It is also the one small change that you can make, right now to create for your child and your family a home filled with hope, and love. Commit to helping your child find their voice.

 

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This book is now available for purchase! At the original time of this publication, the book was not yet listed on my website. To order, please visit: 

https://e4209.myubam.com/p/7127/bully-on-the-bus

If you are a teacher, educator, counselor, or therapist in the Greater Cleveland area and would like several copies for your school or organization, please let me know and I can assist you with adding this book to the homes of the amazing children in your care. 

For more titles from Usborne Books & More, please visit: E4209.myubam.com 

 

Tuesdays in Tremont!

Strawberry Recipes

Please join me on Tuesdays starting at 4:00 p.m. for my very first Weekly Event at the Tremont Farmers’ Market!

Each week I’ll have a variety of Usborne and Kane Miller books to choose from, a Book of the Week and a corresponding FREE craft, and the opportunity to support other small businesses and stock your fridge and pantry with local produce, baked goods, and more.

Tremont Farmers’ Market is one of the largest week-day Farmers Markets in the Greater Cleveland area.

Shop Local.

Buy Local.

Heights Reads.

Keeping the Magic of Christmas

My eight year still believes in Santa Claus. In fact, I’m confident in saying that he also believes in the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. If I had any doubt earlier this year as we started decorating for Christmas if he still believed, it was quickly squashed this morning at the breakfast table.

Yesterday, my daughter knocked our Elf, Snowball, from his watchful place on a rogue decoration still hanging up from her birthday party in October. The paper globe hung in the arched doorway leading upstairs, and two nights ago, my husband moved Snowball to hang off of the decoration. If you’ve got the visual (or the song) of Wrecking Ball going through your mind, you’re spot on in how Snowball was hanging off the paper lantern.

According to my friend who was watching the kids, chaos ensued. Charlotte was traumatized, Greyson started crying, and Theo stood there stunned all watching this lifeless Elf fall quite ungracefully to the floor. And, this is why:

My children, including my eight year old, still believe in the Magic of Christmas. It’s that simple.

Yes, we have an Elf. Yes, he joins us shortly after Thanksgiving. No, we don’t dress him up, arrange him in elaborate displays at midnight (looking at you, those with a Pinterest board devoted to Elf Shenanigans). No, the children are not allowed to touch him once he’s joined our family until Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve, the kids can play with Snowball all day long, because they understand that Santa picks Snowball up when he delivers their Santa Present on Christmas Eve night. Santa scoops him up, places him carefully in a bag with other Elves who have been picked up on our street and all over the WORLD and then he hangs out at the North Pole until Santa decides when he needs to arrive to our home again next year. Wait. What did I just read?

You read correctly. Together with my husband, we create the Magic of Christmas. Our budget is not extensive, our time is quite limited, and my patience is usually over by 7 p.m. every single day. And still, I’m proud of the fact that at 8 years and 4 months old my oldest son still believes in Santa Claus. Want to know the secret?

We have been authentic each and every year what Christmas is all about. First and foremost, it is in celebration of Jesus’ birth. We give gifts to others to celebrate Jesus’ life. My oldest son was 3 before he met Santa Claus for the first time. We’ve been fortunate to be able to go on the Polar Express for the past several years, and take part in that magical part of Christmas while the kids get to talk to Santa while on the trip. Each year I hold my breath, waiting for my children who are now reading to read the familiar signs to prove that we otherwise are not physically at the North Pole. Fingers crossed for this year too!

It’s hard to keep the magic and the “secret” of Santa alive. But this morning, when I sat across the table from Greyson, he had legit big kid tears streaming down his cheeks. He was concerned that Snowball was permanently damaged; that his magic was gone because Charlotte had touched him making his magic go away. So, I don’t need to question whether or not he believes. What I have to do, no-what I need to do is to keep the magic alive for him this year.

Tomorrow marks nineteen years that my grandparents have been gone. Maybe I’m nostalgic thinking of all that has happened in nineteen years, and that I wish they had been a physical part of. I know that they would love these children to pieces if they were still here and in good health.

So, to all of you who are questioning if you tell your child the truth, or if you’re looking for ways to make Christmas more Magical this year-keep it authentic. This season will be over before we know it, and so will the chances that next year at this time will Greyson will still believe. And, when we get to that point with him and his siblings, we’ll figure out how to tell the truth of the story behind Santa Claus. But, the thing is: Christmas is still magical. Embrace it while you can.

Now to figure out what to do with our Elf.

Beth

Hanging Out: Sloth Flow

I love sloths. I think that they’re magical, and my husband recently told me about this program in California (correct me if I’m wrong!) where you can have an overnight with a sloth. Let me repeat that: YOU CAN HAVE AN OVERNIGHT WITH A SLOTH. So, I’ve clearly added to my bucket list to have an overnight sleepover with these nocturnal magical creatures to feed them and watch them hang out, while the rest of the world is sleeping. In the meantime, I’ll gladly participate in activity with my children which requires them to mimic like a sloth, just like this upside-down artwork from our Mother Goose Time Curriculum this week.

While we were setting up their art station, I showed them some supplemental videos that I found on YouTube about DiVinci and his paintings, and together the kids and I discussed what they thought it must have felt like for DiVinci to complete so many of his paintings lying on his stomach and his back. The kids sat down in their chairs and then asked how they were going to draw. When I told them “On your backs. Like a sloth. Like DiVinci”…they were definitely not too excited about completing this task. You can even tell in the first two pictures below that Charlotte was not thrilled with being unable to draw the way in which she’s most familiar.

Creative Development

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Trying new things isn’t always fun!

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Charlotte’s expression tells us all exactly how frustrating this was for her!

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See? Keep trying! Getting better the longer she drew upside down.

Charlotte was more than happy to be done with her upside-down art project. Charlotte will confidently be reading before she starts Kindergarten this coming Fall, and she’s building her confidence even more with the I Can Read books provided each month with our curriculum. The sight words each month are already pre-cut and I need to get around to laminating them so I can put all of them together on a binder clip. I think that this will be ideal for our busy life, and for Charlotte and Theo to both have easy on-the-go access to a variety of site words.

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I had Charlotte circle the words that were the same on the arrow site word cards.

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Theo preferred coloring over the words, which was a win in my book! He’s slowly starting to like writing with intention and purpose!

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Theo started circling the first word on this passage, and then quickly changed his mind and decided to color the pages.

Thank you for joining us and reading about some of the things we did this past week with our Mother Goose Time curriculum! See you next week!

 

AS A MOTHER GOOSE TIME BLOG AMBASSADOR, I RECEIVE MOTHER GOOSE TIME CURRICULUM IN EXCHANGE FOR MY HONEST AND AUTHENTIC STORIES RESULTING FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCES IN IMPLEMENTING THIS CURRICULUM WITH MY CHILDREN. ALL OPINIONSAND THOUGHTS ARE MY OWN AND ARE IN NO WAY INFLUENCED BY OTHERS.

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Rainforest Week Two

This is our second week in exploring the Rainforest Adventure with our Mother Goose Time Curriculum. Here’s a glance at some of the activities we did this week!

Mathematics and Reasoning

I fondly remember singing the song “Five Little Monkeys” with my Preschoolers when I was teaching in a brick and mortar school. It’s always easier for me to engage in a lesson with my own children when it’s something that I’ve done in the past. It’s always been easier for me personally, to teach other children than my own children.

In this particular lesson, the instructions said to tie the string between two chairs, or the wall and the chair. We tried a couple of different times to secure the string to the wall, and I couldn’t find my trusty 3M hooks, so my oldest had the brilliant idea of hanging the string from the cup-hooks that are always on the underside of our mantel for our Christmas stockings-genius! The kids insisted on hanging the poster right next to the string, so I had a label nearby from an earlier project.

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Five Little Monkeys. I love that the provided materials with the lessons are so colorful but simple at the same time!

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The trio quietly sang the part of Mr. Jaguar, quiet as can be to snap the monkey out of the tree!

I love that this lesson was great for both Math and Reasoning, but also for Language and Literacy and Social and Emotional Development. Theo’s been struggling with number correspondence, so this was a huge improvement for him to show me that there were two monkeys left, after counting out “One…two…” monkeys that were left on the string. This may not seem like a lot, but this was one of the more recent activities where he’s not lost all of his confidence in not getting the answer correct the first time.

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Creative Development

I was really excited to work on this Aboriginal Dot Art project with the trio! Whenever I get my monthly curriculum, I quickly glance over the necessary materials that I may need to get if I don’t currently have a specific supply on hand. I had recently purchased some bolder colored paints (per request by Charlotte). As I anticipated, she did choose to use some of the brighter and bolder colors for this project. How beautiful is the example to show what Aboriginal Dot Art looks like?

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Carefully making small dots on their geckos.

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Theo decided that he needed a series of lines and dots.

 

 

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My attention-to-detail kid, needed to make sure that the gecko had fingernails.

Looking forward to our lessons next week! Thanks for reading about our week!

 

 

AS A MOTHER GOOSE TIME BLOG AMBASSADOR, I RECEIVE MOTHER GOOSE TIME CURRICULUM IN EXCHANGE FOR MY HONEST AND AUTHENTIC STORIES RESULTING FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCES IN IMPLEMENTING THIS CURRICULUM WITH MY CHILDREN. ALL OPINIONSAND THOUGHTS ARE MY OWN AND ARE IN NO WAY INFLUENCED BY OTHERS.

 

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Rainforest: Week One!

If you have any kiddos in your home who love science as much as mine do, you’re going to LOVE this week’s lesson with Mother Goose Time. We took a glance at what we were doing this week in our STEAM Stations, and the kids were all so excited and wanted to jump in right then and start learning!

Here’s a glance into how we incorporated some of our lessons from this past week!

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Taking turns with the dropper to add water to our bread for our experiment with mold growth.

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My youngest is still building strength with those important fine motor skills that are a precursor for writing. This was also a great lesson with the theme this month of Family and Togetherness. His sister carefully talked him through how to “capture” the water and then how to squeeze it again to release the water.

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Nothing to see here. Totally normal to have three pieces of bread hanging in my kitchen window. I labeled these as Bread with Water, Control: No Change, and Toasted Bread.

After our discussion of how mold grows, we got sidetracked talking about fermented foods. The things these kids come up with! The next day, we carefully followed the directions with our potato and root experience.

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Theo and I had quite the conversation at the grocery store while picking out our potato. After handling pretty much all of the potatoes (sorry, Wal-Mart in South Euclid, Ohio), Theo decided that this was the potato we should get. This one was already sprouting buds, which he thought was pretty cool, and I agreed would help to show the growth process!

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Ta-da! Our potato are ready to get some sunlight!

 

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I quickly drew  these little cups (I’m no artist!) and had the kids draw what they saw as part of their observation. I love seeing the difference of their observations!

Check back next week to see how our mold growth experiment and root experiment are going!

 

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AS A MOTHER GOOSE TIME BLOG AMBASSADOR, I RECEIVE MOTHER GOOSE TIME CURRICULUM IN EXCHANGE FOR MY HONEST AND AUTHENTIC STORIES RESULTING FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCES IN IMPLEMENTING THIS CURRICULUM WITH MY CHILDREN. ALL OPINIONSAND THOUGHTS ARE MY OWN AND ARE IN NO WAY INFLUENCED BY OTHERS.