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 

 

Frustrations and Fun: Fine Motor Edition

So, real talk time. I wanted to share with you something different this week, as I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only parent that also is dealing with the same frustration as me: I get easily frustrated with my children and their fine motor skills development. There. I said it.

I can even remember when I first started to feel frustrated about this, and it was when my oldest son was an infant just learning how to pick up small bits of foods and Cheerios. For anyone following along or needing a refresher on Child Development, the Benchmarks and Developmental Continuum of Skills is a research-based tool that allows parents and educators to identify where their child is with their learning and meeting developmental milestones.

The thing about Physical Development, in specifics to Fine Motor Skills, is that there are so many factors that are involved in this major part of everyday living skills. Self-feeding, dressing and undressing, using writing materials properly, cutting with scissors, and printing legible letters are just a few of the essential skills that we want our children to master before they start their Primary Education. This is something that can be frustrating for both children and parents, whether or not a child does not have limited abilities in refining and mastery of these skills.

So, what is a parent to do when they’re trying to teach their child a new skill (like cutting with scissors) and not only is the parent feeling frustrated…but their child is too? The short answer is to continue to provide opportunities for your child and students to practice. I know this may seem easier said than done, as I’ve clearly been there before, and am still very much there today with my oldest who gives up tying his own shoes, and for my youngest who wants to cut with scissors so badly but doesn’t quite have the strength or dexterity to cut independently. It’s a frustrating process, but the lessons from Mother Goose Time overlap with so many developmental domains (Yay to research-based methods!) that a child thinks they’re just “designing” a t-shirt via their Creative Arts Lesson, when you as the parent-educator are able to gain a better understanding of how to manipulate materials to best help your child. This in turn becomes fun!

Let’s take a look at an example from this past week with my youngest.

Until just a few months ago, Theo was very hesitant to even hold a crayon or marker, let alone try to make a mark on a piece of paper. He wanted nothing to do with it, even though he frequently observed his older siblings coloring, drawing, and doodling. I even tried a few attempts with hand-over-hand instruction to see if he would open up more and try, after seeing the correlation that putting his crayon on the paper allows the color to appear on the paper. Nope. Not Theo. My stubborn child needed to be ready to do it when he felt like it, regardless of the number of attempts made by me or my husband. And, I’ve got to say that he’s doing pretty well with his grip of writing materials, considering this is an emerging skill for him. I’m excited to see his progress daily and his careful attention when he’s really concentrating on something too.

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After snack (see the evidence on his face?) we came back to the table to add the buttons to his shirt. I assisted him with coloring his buttons, as it’s hard to color an entire image or area when you’re still building up your strength to complete that task. Here too I also started the first threading of the button to the shirt, and after he was able to see that the thread went through the back to the front and back down again, he got the hang of it and pulled the thread through several times before he decided that he’d had enough.

When first looking at the lessons for this week, my defenses went up almost automatically. I knew that I was going to have to be cautious in my suggestions of how he could or should thread the button on the shirt, and I typically want my children to try something independently before automatically doing something for them.

This entire lesson became fun instead of frustrating! While he colored we talked about the types of shirts that he likes to wear, he identified his favorite pajamas “Which mama are and are not shirts…they’re like pajama shirts”, and we talked about buttons on the shirt he wore for family photos, and he remembered that his dada wears shirts with buttons to work every day. IMG_7489

I also wanted to share one more picture from this past week, because I love how versatile the Table Top Math resources are! Theo did better with this during this lesson by separating them out on his own without using the dice. He was able to announce what color each button was before matching it up, and correctly identified the colors on 11 of 13 attempts, which is progress from another observation I’d made earlier in the month. I know that he’s had an opportunity to explore and manipulate the buttons during this lesson, and we can come back again and use the strings that came with the buttons and practice lacing and stringing when he’s getting closer to the mastery of that skill.

In closing, I’d like to say that it’s fine to admit that teaching fine motor skills to children is frustrating. Continue to make the lessons fun, unique, scaffold the material, and don’t give up. Break lessons down into smaller portions if needed, and assist after your child has let you know that they now need some assistance.

With practice, I know my oldest son will tie his shoes on the first attempt. I also know that soon enough, the scissors will all need to be hidden so my youngest son does not cut his hair, clothes, or the bin of My Little Ponies…of the Ponies that Charlotte missed, of course when she went through that faze.

Keep Reading!

Beth

19510309_1588341684509993_3025539560496814781_nAs 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 opinions and thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

Why I Chose the Book Lady Life

As a parent of a children still very much in the “why” stage, I thought it might be fun to share with you my personal “why” I joined with Usborne Books & More. It’s hard to believe that I’m approaching my three year anniversary as a Book Lady!

I still identify as a SAHM, but I also run two businesses: my book business, and my childbirth education and doula business. I’m a mom first, and a business owner second. But, just three short years ago, my youngest child was born. Life was totally upside down just three years ago.

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It’s hard to believe, but this kid is now three! 

You see, I have rough pregnancies. Each pregnancy the Hyperemesis gravidarum had gotten worse, and my pregnancy with Theo was brutal: ER trips, ten days in the hospital, a feeding tube and a Zofran pump. I’m not going to go into full details now, as its still emotional to dig around and talk about it, let alone put it into writing. I’ll save that for another blog post. 🙂

Raising kids is hard. If anyone says differently they’re either A. Lying or B. Have never raised children. The challenges of raising children is a major part of my “why” I joined with Usborne Books & More. When Theo was born, we had a 5 year old and a 21 month old. We had three kids five and under, my husband started a brand new job the same day that Theo was born, and I was struggling managing it all.

  • I needed support.
  • I needed to have something other than being a wife and mother.
  • I needed something that I could put my creative energy into.
  • I needed something that I could carve out of nothing and make into whatever I wanted it to be.

And, I found that with books.

I attended a Facebook party, and was already familiar with the books. The party was so much fun! When the consultant posted about the opportunity selling these books just like her, I felt a little flutter of something inside. The logical part of me tried talking the spontaneous part of me out of even considering starting a new business with a 6 week old baby, but spontaneity and logic starting working together, and I started researching more about Usborne Books & More. Everything that I found excited and energized me, and I knew that I needed to give it a try.

I loved that there were (and still are!)

  • No monthly quotas
  • Low-cost start up (under $100)
  • Training was done at my own pace via Facebook team pages and in resources provided by UBAM
  • Multiple avenues for income streams
  • Option to work with the school and library market
  • Book Fairs! (I flipping LOVED Book Fairs as a child, and I still do as an adult!)
  • Being around like-minded individuals who are passionate about literacy and books
  • Discount on everything Usborne Books & More sells
  • Amazing incentive trips I could earn for FREE
  • First to know about new titles being released
  • Networking with my community

…..and most importantly building an awesome home library for my children

I had nothing to lose. And, if I decided (or decide at any time) that this is not the right fit for me, I’ve met amazing people along the way, and it all started with buying a box of books. I’m pretty confident when I say that I’ll continue to live the “Book Lady Life”, and each day there is a new opportunity to share these books. Books change lives, and these books are so important.

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If you’re curious to hear more about the opportunity with Usborne Books & More, or if any of my “whys” are resonating with some personal “whys” of your own, let’s start a conversation. Together, we’re making a difference, one book at a time.

Keep Reading!

Beth

 

 

 

 

Heights Happiness

Welcome to the official launch of this blog! I’ve written many ideas down since the beginning of 2017, and it’s time to get this started.

I have so many ideas to share about motherhood, raising three children, how I incorporate my Usborne Books & More business into my daily life, activity and curriculum ideas for your home or classroom, and exploring the vibrant city of Cleveland while showing how I found my happiness in the Heights.

I’ll be gradually adding more to this blog, so stay tuned!

Keep Reading!-Beth