Sunday, June 26, 2011

Just Talking

I mentioned to Zachary that when the baby comes out, that's the day that he's 'born' - his 'birthday'. Zachary said, "His birthday? We can have a cake!" When I explained that the baby won't be able to eat cake (only milk), Zachary said, "That's okay - I can eat the cake! And I will share the cake with all the other big people who can eat it!" :)

Whenever Z doesn't want to eat something I give him, he has started saying he's allergic to it. This week he's been 'allergic' to chicken, banana muffins, and vegetables. :)

Natalie & Zachary's favorite ways to play together lately involve spitting & screaming. They will sit in their car seats, and one will spit, then the other. We try to talk them out of this. So then they get to screaming - Zachary screams, then Natalie screams, and they just laugh hilariously. It is loud but very funny. :)

My friend's 3-year-old daughter loves to comment on my belly, usually with a comment like, "Ohh, your baby is growing!" Sunday morning was no exception - her statement this week was, "Wow, your baby's getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger!" :)

Zachary is always excited when he gets to sit in the grocery cart - he likes Sam's Club because their carts all have two seats. On the way to Sam's Club, he mentioned that all the carts have two seats, so two people can sit in them! "Yes!", I said, "and who do you think should sit in them? Should I sit in the cart?" He responded, "Oh, no, you should not sit in the cart. You might break it. Natalie and I will sit in the cart, and you will stand and push the cart. There is a handle for you to hold while you push the cart." :) A few seconds later he said...."Were you just kidding?" :)

Natalie isn't a big talker yet, but she is starting - her newest words are 'mine' (which she uses frequently and always in the correct context) and 'dir-ty' (when she is about to eat something off of the floor...or just ate something off the floor...) She also makes several animal noises "ah-ah" for a monkey noise, "oof-oof" for a dog, a squealing "oowwwww" sound for a cat, a growl for a monster or Cookie Monster, and today Zachary taught her "neigh" for a horse, which she imitated several times & was encouraged by Zachary's & my giggling at her while she practiced. :) She is very good at following directions - you can give her a toy or pair of shoes & tell her to go put them in her room or Zachary's room, and she usually will, or she will throw her diapers in the garbage for you. She also will go find her Crocs & put them on herself (not always on the right feet) if you tell her to. :)

Zachary can pretty much dress & undress himself, though he is convinced that he can't take off his own shirt, and sometimes has trouble putting his arms into his shirt. But he can even put on his own socks! And he always asks "Do socks matter?" meaning, 'does it matter which sock goes on which foot?' :) This week we worked on the concept of 'tag goes in the back', so that has been helping him to get his clothes on more independently, too. :)

And he is doing really great with potty training (well, still no progress at all on #2, but doing great with #1). He wore undies to church all day Sunday & to town this morning with NO accidents! After I typed this, I took him to camp in undies & took him to go potty, while in the bathroom he pinched his finger in the stall door & by the time I kissed his owie, it was too late & he had an accident on the bathroom floor - sadness! :( But, really, he's doing pretty well overall, I think. :) Any tips on how to motivate him to go #2 in the potty are STILL appreciated. :)

Tot School

Just a few pictures today of some things we've been up to this week! I am working feverishly on planning preschool & making the activities that we'll use this fall for Z's curriculum. Here is the first one I finished, and I was so excited for him to try this - it is a Numbers Handwriting Practice book - I laminated the pages & cut them into strips, then punched them & put them on a book ring. I got the idea and pattern here.

Zachary was being contrary this day, and did not want to write. He said it 'was not a school day'. Anyhow, I wrote on the cards & he wiped off what I wrote, and he thought that was fun. :) Notice Natalie playing Potato Heads in the background. :)

cutie :)

On a hike this week, we saw a dragonfly and he just sat still for about five minutes to let Z look at and pet him!

I am working on a new system to organize my school games - I put each one in a page protector to keep the pieces separate & organized - I hope it will work well! Here is the Rocket Size Sort I made a few months ago - found here:

And the Butterfly Size Sort Game, also from COAH:

The COAH curriculum also has these adorable M&M color matching puzzles - you cut them apart into two pieces & the kids match them up by color. :) I think Z will really like these - I cut them out & laminated them. :)

So that's about all the learning we've been up to - along with reading. :) Our library's summer reading program starts this week with a kickoff tomorrow night & a story hour on Thursday, so I'll hopefully share more about that next week!!! Check out more Tot School over at 1+1+1=1!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tot School: Summer Fun Edition

Well, summer has officially begun here in the Hart household. We kicked off our summer camp season tonight with a dinner for our counseling staff at camp, which means my Hubby will be busy serving at camp for the next nine weeks, and I'll be hanging out with the kiddos (at home and at camp each day). Baby #3 is due in about 5 weeks, so everything will change then for sure, but for now, we're enjoying summer fun & excited to see our staff friends (old and new!) and be involved as we can at camp!

We finished our school year about 3 weeks ago, and moved on to summer fun! We've been doing a lot of learning these last 3 weeks, though we haven't 'had school'. And I've been spending a lot of time planning for our fall preschool curriculum - I'd like to have it all done before Baby arrives! I have up through letter G's activities planned, and all the games and activities that need to be laminated or cut are printed out, so I am working on those as time allows.

And here's what the kids have been up to! We had a few hot days, and so to keep the kids cool (until I could get to the store to buy a new kiddie pool, since our old one had a hole in it), I set up a water table - this is an under-the-bed storage box resting on 3 chairs and filled with water. Hey, it works in a pinch! :) I was definitely feeling the heat and enjoyed having them splash me as they played. :)

Then I got to buy a kiddie pool, and we have enjoyed that several days. :)

Here they were working together to fill up this bucket with water & then dump it out - so cute. :)

One morning I caught them both sitting next to each other on the living room floor, reading books. But Nat saw me coming & is starting to get up in this picture. :(

Zachary is reading the board book version of Go Dog Go. Another book that we have LOVED lately is a treasury of 7 original Curious George books - 400 pages of Curious George - we have read a story from it almost every day since we checked it out from the library 5 or so weeks ago! Z will be disappointed when we've reached our limit of renewals on that one. :)

We have taken lots of walks outside, too! Here are the kids walking down the driveway (I just love this one for some reason):

Zachary is using a stick to draw in the dirt:

So Natalie is drawing with a stick too:

We got some new toys from the consignment store, which the kids have been loving! Zachary's 'treat' for being good while I was shopping for Baby Boy's 'coming home from the hospital' outfit was this Barney Banjo (only $1.50, with batteries!)- it is very cool - it has a red 'laser' light & sensor inside the circle & only plays the tune when your hand or other body part or object is in the way of the light. Z is playing it with his face, while Natalie waits a little grumpily for her turn. :)

I also got these blocks - the whole set for $2, because I remembered playing with some as a child, and thought they were cool. I didn't even realize that they were educational, other than a small motor skills activity, but they came with these little green pieces & I realized that each block has a picture & corresponding letter on it & each one has a little green piece that goes along with the picture to teach what starts with the letters! Here is the lion piece with the lion block:

The lion piece with the L side of the block:

The blocks open up, so the lion can go inside!

And you can build cool things like this:

or this:

They've really enjoyed this set! :)

A friend gave us some gifts for the kids & included was this book about shapes - the pages are magnetic & the little shapes are magnets - so fun! It is by Priddy books, I think (I love their stuff!)

Natalie is doing awesome eating with a spoon - she is definitely ahead of where Z was at this age with small motor skills, though she's slightly behind him verbally, I think. Here she is eating some yogurt with a spoon all by herself!

And we took a family outing to the zoo! The kids enjoyed seeing the animals - Z more than Natalie of course, he said his favorite was the gorilla, but he talked a lot about the giraffe, too. :) Here he is with Daddy riding on the carousel. Of course my 'daring' boy is riding on the bench instead of any of the animals. :) :)

Here's Natalie watching them go around:

And here's Daddy, Natalie & Zachary all ready to ride the train around! We had a great time together. :)

Zachary and I sometimes play games together while Nat falls asleep at naptime (otherwise we read books for about a half hour and then he lays down for his nap and they usually wake up about the same time). We picked up a great educational game that I've wanted for a while - $2 at the consignment store - it is called Hi Ho Cherry Oh. You have to count the cherries, but there are only ten for each person and you never have to count higher than four, so it didn't really challenge him in the counting area. But where it did challenge him is in the 'following directions' area - and I wouldn't let him cheat & pick '4 cherries' every time with the spinner, so that was a challenge, too. :)

We have had a lot of fun playing this! :)

I also taught him how to play Uno - I wasn't sure if he was thrilled with it, but he said later that he had a good time, so maybe we'll try it again soon. :)

I love this picture because the expression on his face is so perfect - he is disappointed that he can't 'match' anything! :)

So that's what we've been up to - oh, and potty training!!!! #1 is still going pretty well, most days he can stay dry even when we're at camp or church, even if he's in a pull up, so I'm really proud of the progress he's made in that. #2, however.....oh, boy. This has been a rough weekend in that area, I was actually in tears at one point. He just does not WANT to go #2 in the potty, so he just refuses. Any tips would be appreciated, and I just want to say I really appreciate all the advice & help everyone's been sending my way - SO encouraging to hear stories from friends & moms who have been here (and aren't anymore)! :)

As far as Natalie, she'll be 18 months on Wednesday, and she is definitely quite the little personality. :) I love this age, but she is definitely starting to show a stubborn streak at times. She's still a little sweetheart, though, happy most of the time, and loves cuddling & being tickled. And she loves my belly button. She just thinks my belly button is hilarious. :) She and Zachary have started this thing where they scream back and forth at each other for fun and while it's loud, it's also really funny to watch, because they're screaming & laughing hilariously. :) It's great. :)

Well, if you want to see any more creative ideas about what to do with your tot, head on over to the Tot School homepage at 1+1+1=1! :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

How It's Going

It's going well! I'm so happy! :) We have tried several times to potty train, unsuccessfully, but this time, I think Z is finally ready! Today is Day #8 of training, and we have not had any accidents for several days - I am so thankful!

I was dreading potty training, picturing myself following Z around with the mop all day long, cleaning up accident after accident, for weeks on end. But thankfully it has gone so much better than that! So I'll share (so far) what's worked for us, and then we'll talk about the struggles we're still having...because we're not anywhere near 'there' yet.

We started last Wednesday, putting Zachary in big-boy underwear when he got up, setting a timer for every 10 minutes, and checking at each 10 minutes to see if he was clean and dry. If he was, he would get an m&m. Every other time I checked (so, every 20 minutes), we did the m&m thing, then I set the timer for 2 or 3 minutes, and had him sit on the potty. If he went #1, he got a Teddy Graham, and if he went #2, he got a Golden Oreo. (We had gone to the store together the day before to pick out his special treats together, so they were his choice.) The first couple of days were completely exhausting, checking the timer & resetting it, and going into the bathroom every 20 minutes, just a constant interruption to our schedule...but it was worth it. We had about 3 accidents in the first two days, but he really did very well! By the end of the 2nd day, he was saying without my asking, "I have to go potty!", running in the bathroom by himself, and going #1. I was so pleased!

Since then, we have not had any accidents at home when he's been in his underwear, except for one time. We aren't using the timer anymore, but I try to keep my eye on him & if it's been about 30-40 minutes, I have him go 'try' and that usually works. Lots of times he'll say he has to go & then go on his own. So I am very proud & pleased with how it's going! We use a pull-up at naptime, and a diaper at bedtime, just so he doesn't have to worry about it at sleeping times (and so I don't have to worry about changing sheets either).

So, here are the next steps we need to take: we need to conquer the big #2. We have only had one half-success with this so far, on the first day, I think. Since then, he has only gone #2 at nap or bedtime or when we were out & had a pull-up on him. I have tried making him sit for a long time when I knew he was getting close to ready, but it just hasn't worked. He is scared to go #2 in the potty, i think. So I guess we'll just keep trying & wait till he's ready for that.

We also need to conquer a nervousness about public potties. He has not used a public potty yet. So far, I've let him wear a pull-up everywhere we've gone in public, but I think he would do better with underwear instead, since being wet in undies is more bothersome than a wet pull-up, so we may try that on our library trip tomorrow. And I may have a story about shampooing the library's children's room carpet. But maybe I wont. :) I guess we'll see! :) Overall, I am very thankful for how we're coming, considering our previous attempts were measured in hours and accidents (and those numbers were always about the same...) :) Thanks to all who have given advice & encouragement as we have started this process! Any more advice is always appreciated! :)

As far as everything else in life is going...well, Natalie is 17 months old now, and Zachary will be 3 1/2 on Sunday. So time is flying by! We are enjoying the nice weather, and getting outside as much as we can. Natalie is definitely starting to enter the stage of toddlerhood that requires some discipline & she is starting to willfully disobey lately, and throwing a few more tantrums than she was previously, so that is becoming interesting - balancing discipline between 2 kids! But this stage is so much fun, and although Natalie still isn't talking much (at what point should I be concerned? is 5-8 words at 17 months normal?) she understands a LOT of things that surprise me sometimes. :) The other day I was trying to get her to SAY "All done" with her words, and she kept signing it instead (she throws her arms out wide to the sides to sign all done). I said, "Natalie, say 'all done' with your mouth." Frustrated, she stuck her hand in her mouth for a second, pulled it out, and threw her arms out to the sides, signing all done! I had to laugh! :) And of course the speech lesson was over. :)

Staff training (which begins our busy summer camp season) starts in less than three weeks, so Hubby is busy trying to prepare for that! And our littlest guy is due in less than 8 weeks (though who knows when he'll actually make his appearance)! It is getting SO close!!! I feel like I should have his room a little closer to ready, but that means moving Natalie into the room she'll share with Z...and I'm not nearly ready for that transition yet - let's get potty training & the transition to the summer camp season under our belts first!! :) Little Guy is healthy, always with a high heartbeat at my appointments, and more active in the womb than either of my other two were - body parts always sticking out all over & my belly bouncing like you wouldn't believe (I love it!). :) My hips are a little sore but I'm not too overly uncomfortable yet, so I'm thankful for that. :)

Well, just a quick update to let you know how we're doing! Hope everyone is doing great & enjoying nicer weather as the summer is here (or at least close!). :)