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With Z having an afternoon tutor starting, so I should have no excuse not to update. Another motivation should also just recently paid for my domain and hosting fees. Yikes! But at least you know I’ll be around for another year.
The weekend before Halloween, we went back to Penners Pumpkins and Scarecrow Forest. I wrote about this place last year(Click Here to Read). Now this place is actually more of a fall experience instead of a Halloween experience. There are no witches, ghost, or goblins. This is a wholesome, place for parents to take their children for fall fun. (I’m not against Halloween activities by any means, but I know they are not for some families, and that’s cool too.) I was extra excited because Hubby and my step daughter were able to join us this year.
I think what I love most about Penners Pumpkins and Scarecrow Forest is the homemade feel. The slides, the corn box, the zipline, it’s all homemade. Some very handy people, turned their farm into a fun place for kids to experience country style play.
Myself and the kids got to go on the zipline. Even little Z got a chance. I don’t think he knew what he was getting into, but he had fun flying down the line with me. I really liked that it’s affordable. As I’m sure everyone knows it is usually super expensive to Zip Line. Here it only cost 1 $2 ticket per person.
While the big kids were running through the corn maze, little Z got to go for a pony ride. He loved it, but I think he would have prefered not to wear the helmet. With all the cases of lice going around, I also wish the kids did not need to share helmets with strangers. So as soon as we got home I rubbed a special essential oil blend our herbalist/aromatherapist made for us that repels lice in our hair. All was good.
I want one of these in my backyard! Every year I can’t get over how cool the corn-box is, and how much fun it is to play in. Plus it’s not nearly as dirty as a regular sandbox.
Z was actually enjoying himself, just everytime I snapped a photo he looked like he was sad.
Also we can’t forget the mention the duck races. We each purchased a little rubber ducky for one ticket, then we were able to use him all day and race. Love these old fashioned water pumps.
All three kids loved the homemade play structures what were all over the farm. We were able to measure Little Z on the height chart compared to last year. All three kids had fun playing with the homemade horse tire swing. Little Z needed a bit of help this year climbing the hay bail pyramid, but I’m sure next year he will be tall enough.
Simple outdoor country fun. Just what my city kids need. I can’t wait to visit Penners Pumpkins and Scarecrow forest again next year.
That statements holds a lot of stigma.
If you have taught your toddler to read, you must have pressured them with hours and hours of lessons and drills. Right?
Nathan Meikle shared the journey of how his daughter learned how to read at the age of two in his book Little Miss: a father, his daughter & rocket science.
This book shares day by day accounts of not only how he got his child interested in learning how to read, and how he taught her. But also all the conversations about he had with his wife through the process, as well as his own doubts.
Overall I thought this was a very well written book. I couldn’t put it down and read it in a day. Even though it didn’t add to what I personally knew on teaching young children to read, (I only say this because I’m 7 or 8 years into this life style of parentings, first with Wes and then Little Z) I couldn’t help but think…
Imagine! This book on the book shelves at the local bookstore in the parenting section. A mother to be comes in looking for a book on how to parent her baby, what to expect the first year, etc. She stumbles upon it and reads the back, “Interesting…” she thinks and adds it to the pile to buy.
What I’m saying is I believe this book could be the gateway to early education. Parents read it and then start researching. Next thing you know they are on the BrillKids site, reading about Glenn Doman, Your Baby Can Read, etc. What an amazing gift these parents will be offering their children!
Ok! Ok Monique. So this little girl could read when she was 2. What good is that if she is just going to burn out? Well I’m happy to say she hasn’t burned out. She loves to read. Kyla is 5 though she hasn’t started kindergarten. She still LOVES to read, as long as her parents find the right books for her. Nathan told me that just a few days ago she picked out two different 60 page book and read them to herself. The other day she also typed out one of her favorite picture books–took her about 2 hours. He is guessing she’s at a 4th grade reading level. She even corrects him when they are reading together and his skips a word or mispronounces something.
They are also doing the same thing they did with their 2.5 year old son Bennett, only difference is they started a bit earlier than they did with Kyla.
It has been much harder with him because Kyla gets bored while listening to us try to teach Bennett to read. She often helps, we try to include her as much as we can, but inevitably, she is not happy when the YBCR DVD’s are on because she wants to watch something else. Bennett has always been a little behind where Kyla was in terms of language progressions, but he has memorized a handful of words from YBCR and knows all his letters and the sounds (he’s 2.5). There plan is to do memorization for another few months and then get started on phonics. Though the process is going slower with Bennett, the bright side is that both Kyla and Bennett are learning patience (hopefully) because at every mealtime we alternate books (e.g., Kyla chooses one, and then Bennett chooses one). In sum, the process is much easier with just one child, but it is also fun (though challenging) to teach Bennett to read as a family. Kyla will hopefully remember the days of teaching her little brother to read.
So now the fun part!! I have 2 copies of this book to giveaway. If you would like to win a copy check out the Rafflecopter below.
This review is my honest opinion. I received a copy of the book to read and review, but otherwise was not compensated.
The weather got unseasonable warm a few weeks ago. So one Sunday when we had just Little Z we took him to the zoo.
I’m going to be honest. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Our zoo in the past was less than impressive. Lots of empty exhibits. They recently added the new Churchill exhibit where they take in orphaned polar bears. But since they added it the cost jumped 2.5x higher.
But I’m happy to report that we had a great time. While its not Calgary zoo, there has been some improvements.
The weather was perfect. The animals were so active and we seem to get to several of the exhibits just at feeding time. The zoo keepers that were feeding the polar bears told us about the polar bears and answered several of our questions.
All of the staff were so helpful. Since the zoo has recently been changed we nearly walked right by the tiger and lion exhibit. The staff taking care of the camels redirected us and guess what, good thing too! IT was feeding time for them too.
Now Little Z’s favorite exhibit was the seal area. If was like the seal knew too. As soon as we got there the seal started swimming and diving and putting on a little show. He was so happy to get to see his favorite animal in front of him.
Overall it was an awesome day! We enjoyed spending some time with just Little Z. The big kids have each had lots of time to spend with us alone, and while Little Z is usually with us alone on Sundays, we are usually just running errands.
We also took the time before we left to read about a few of the animals we might see at the zoo. And when we got home we read about others we didn’t know we would see. We used Firefly Encyclopedia of Animals to find what we wanted to know. I felt it had enough of select to find all the animals we needed to.
I think if you are able to visit a good quality zoo, that is respectful to the animals and supports conservation and research, it is enriching to your child’s life to go. It is so important to teach our children compassion for animals as well as respect. Its a lot harder to respect something you have never seen. But hands on experience at the zoo can help bridge this concept for your child.
So its been a few weeks since we had our NACD assessment (The National Association for Child Development). With the holidays and everything we have had a slow start. But I’m already seeing some positive changes in Little Z. So I’m hoping once we get the rest of the supplies needed, we will see even more changes. Right now The Listening Program and Wes’s comprehension books are sitting at the border, waiting for my cousin to pick them up on his way home back to Canada.
One program we are working on right now is what I call the Modified Encyclopedic Knowledge program. We flip through either an Kids Picture Encyclopedia or a Kids Picture Dictionary and read random facts. As soon as we got our programs I ran to the store and bought a copy of Firefly Encyclopedia of Animals.
The point of this program is not to read the dictionary or encyclopedia from cover to cover. But to flip around and read random facts. This will teach Little Z that we can learn from reading. That words have meaning and they are not just there for him to play with.
Before we went to the zoo a few weeks ago, I went through this book with him and we found animals that we might have the chance to see on our visit. Then when we got back, we found some others we had seen but hadn’t read about before leaving.
Thing is, we need to mix things up a bit. After a while going through the same Encyclopedia for a few weeks becomes a bit boring.
So we went to the library and picked out a few more Encyclopedias and picture dictionaries for use to flip through. Today we looked though these two. On the way home I realized I should have looked for an encyclopedia on vehicles. He would have loved that too. Note to self.
I have kids picture dictionary coming in the mail. But I plan on putting that away and continuing to use the assortment of library books. I want to have that one put away ready to go if we have to either a) go away on vacation and I don’t want to worry about losing a library books or b) if we can’t get to the library for some reason.
Another program we are working on is a simple one. We are doing a reading program. We have to sit down and read together 2 times a day. The only catch, it has to be new materials. Which can be a bit of a bother for Little Z. He has his favorite books and wants to keep reading them over and over again. But in his situations we need to keep offering him new materials.
So while at the library on Sunday, I went to the bin of suggested books of the month, and started flipping through.
I was looking for :
– books that had a story line
– books that were not too long or wordy
– books that were not too short or had no words
– books that were non-fiction and not too wordy
– books that were not simple phonics or sight words books, (This is a cat. This is a red apple. Etc)
We started with a book called Whoever You Are (Reading Rainbow Books). by Mem Fox and Illustrated by Leslie Staub.
It is a beautiful, yet simple story about how we are as cultures different in many ways, like:
– Different skin color
– Different homes
– Different Schools.
But then the author goes on to explain that we are also very similar for example:
– We all have hearts
– We all smile
– We all cry
I was quite happy that this book was able to explain to young children common humanity and diversity.
Then we read the story called Cat and Mouse in the Rain by Tomek Bogacki.
This is a cute story about a cat and a mouse who get stuck in the rain. Then they meet their new friend frog, who helps get them out of the comfort zone to try something new… playing in the puddles.
After we were introduced to a little mouse named George in George, the Dragon and the Princess.
This book would be perfect for a young child that feels like they are small and not good at very many things. George learns in this story that everyone is good at something. We just might not have found our special talent yet.
Market Day by Lois Ehlert is a simple story about a family going to down to buy items they need and sell their wares. They tell the story using folk art.
What are you reading with your child today?
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We’ve all been there. Its just after dinner and your kiddo just can’t keep it together. There is home reading and homework to do. Maybe swimming lessons, or piano practice. But everything is a problem for your child.
What is a parent to do?
Well the technique we use at home, when my 4th grader is losing his cool is quite simple. I say these 4 magic words.
“Its time for bed.”
Maybe we miss piano, or don’t get those last math problems done. But thats ok, doing so will not cause your child to be a high school drop out, or suddenly not able to play piano.
What it will do is help your child learn to regulate their emotions, and to know when they are tired.
Just to clarify myself, I’m not telling you to be cruel about this. What you should tell your child is:
“Sally, I can see your having a hard time controlling your emotions. You seem quite tired. Its time for bed.”
If your children are anything like mine, they will argue that they are not. But gently telling them that their actions are telling you they are tired. I let them know, that going to bed early will help make sure tomorrow they will feel better.
My oldest needs to be in bed for 8pm, 8:30 the absolute latest. But for a few weeks, I think he was growing and he was melting down right after dinner. We started sending him to bed at 7. Which meant we didn’t get all our NACD homework done one night, and we missed piano lessons another night. But he needed it.
You know what the kicker is? Now he recognizes when he is having trouble controlling his emotions due to being tired and will ask to go to bed early.
As a parent I always felt guilty by the thought of sending my child to bed right after dinner. I mean come on, I’m sure I can get him to cooperate. Sending him to bed at 6 or 7 would be just plain lazy. Right?
If your child is that overtired, things are not going to get better by keeping him up even later. You need to help set them up for success. If they are overtired and cranky, and you know they have school the next day, that extra hour or two will help them feel more rested and ready to have a wonderful productive day. Chances are it is just a growth spurt and they will get back to their regular bedtime.
If possible make sure to still go through your regular bedtime routine. Storytime, snuggles, bedtime prayers, whatever you and your child usually do. This will help them realize that this is not a punishment. Because it shouldn’t be. However, if my child was overly protesting early bedtime, I will ask them if they are too tired for bedtime activities(bedtime story and such.) Usually my son will stop protesting. There has been a time or two where is actions made the decision for him to go straight to bed. However I try to avoid this if possible.
The goal is to help your child learn to self regulate their emotions. I know as an adult if I’ve been pulling too many late nighters, I sometimes become short with my hubby or boys. So you know what I do? I go to bed early so I’m fresh in the morning. It might also help to share this with your child. That way they know this is what adults do too.
For now, do not strain your parent/child relationship. No one wants to go to bed angry at their child’s behavior, when you know they were just over tired.
Just say “It’s time for bed.”
I do well when I set goals with powerful start dates. I’m not talking New Years Resolutions. I’m talking about solid written down goals or a bucket list. I also don’t do well when my house is disorganized. After Christmas, my house was Chaos. I was nearly having anxiety attacks over it. So when you see goals that involve organizing my house, its because it is really important to my mental health. This is why they are on my list.
52 week check list. No particular order. Basically pick whatever I feel like doing that week.
I don’t want to let 2015 slip away. Hopefully with this I will get 52 projects or experiences done with my family. Wish me luck!
1) Clean and organize my bedroom closet and drawers.
2) Clean front entry closet and Linen Closet
3) Clean and organize all the kitchen cupboards
4) Create a clutter free kitchen.
5) Clean and organize laundry room and basement bathroom
6) Read 12 books. Children’s chapter books with my son does not count.
7) Clean out garage so we can park both cars in.
8) Donate 30 garbage bags worth of items to the Canadian Diabetes Clothesline.
9) Throw out or recycle 50 grocery bags worth of junk. (Day to day kitchen and bathroom waste do not count)
10) Organize all my bills and paperwork into binders
11) Finish my shutterfly photo book for 2014 and create as many books necessary to organize 2012 and 2013.
12) 52 week money challenge.
13) Banana island for one week.
14) Pay off $5000 on my line of credit
15) Get back on the Dave Ramsey Budget
16) Take my kids camping or to a cabin
17) Potty Train Z
18) Pay off and cancel my Sears Mastercard, after cashing out the points.
19) Crazy glue the tracks to the train table downstairs in my daycare area to an elaborate town.
20) Clear all the NAET autism kit for both boys.
21) Exercise 160 time in 2015 for 20-30mins.
22) Lose 20lbs
23) Take an online course about blogging. (Started Jan 6th)
24) Blog 160 times in 2015
25) Create 100 YouTube Videos.
26) Read 12 Chapter books WITH Wesley.
27) Get 150 Facebook Likes on Early Learning Mom Page
28) Get 200 Twitter followers
29) Give up fast food for 6 months. (Hopefully forever) Subway and Pita Pit are OK.
30) Try the one photo a day challenge
31) Get Wesley back on the allowance system and teach him how to handle money.
32) Make it out to Hawaii to visit my Online Bestie.
33) Learn to cook 20 new dishes.
34) Babysit one night for my local Bestie so her and her hubby can go out.
35) Organize and clean out the laundry room.
36) Attend the Hi Neighbor Parade and check out the strip.
37) Take the kids Strawberry Picking
38) Visit Penners Pumpkins and Scarecrow Forest
39) Take a ride on the Steam Train at Assiniboine Park
40) Learn how to make my own blog banners
41) Take the kids to the Snake Pits
42) Visit the Steinbach Aquatic Centre
43) Take the kids bowling
44) Visit the Farmers Market at Birds Hill
45) Set up the window bird box
46) Donate Blood
47) Help the kids create Christmas Shoeboxes for the needy
48) Get a Family Photo taken
49) Take Wes to Skyzone
50) Take Wes to do Archery
51) Take Wes for Ice Cream for the first time at Dairy Queen
52) Visit the International Peace Garden
What is on your 2015 bucket list?
Watch for blog updates on how I’m doing!
I know many of you are still in Christmas mode, and the thought of making New Years Eve plans are on the back burner. Especially once you become a parent. New Years partying is over now that the little ones are in the picture.
Well I’m here to say you can still have a wonderful evening! Kids and all!
On New Years Eve my hubby bartends every year, so its just me and the boys. So I decided to plan ahead and come up with some ideas to do with the kids to make the evening more fun!
1) Movie Night!
I plan on looking for some old classic movies I use to watch as a child. Beethoven, the Original Home Alone, Little Rascals, Camp Nowhere, Halloween Town, Mrs. Doubtfire. I’ll let the kids pick, but I want them to experience some of the movies that were big when I was a child.
2) Buy discounted Christmas candies and bake goods:
So what is movie without awesome yummy movie treats,
Ok so I’m not much of a baker. I’m not going to lie, the kitchen is not really my forte. I land up under cooking, overcooking, or messing up the recipe. Wasting baking supplies, and messing up the kitchen.
So this year, I’m going to the grocery store right after Christmas and buying a bunch of Christmas baked good that are discounted and freeing them. Then in the morning on Dec 31th, I’ll pull them out of the freezer. Presto! Yummy snacks and a cup of hot chocolate on the side. Perfection! I mean I guess I could do popcorn and chips, but how is that any different from any other movie night.
3) Drink out plastic wine glasses, use sparklers, & wear party hats.
I noticed the local dollar store here sells all sorts of New Years Eve party gear. So I decided to go buy New Year Eve party hats, some glow sticks, sparklers and fun things to ring in the New Year with. I’m also going to look for some “fancy” plastic wine glasses to drink apple juice out of.
4) Balloon Count Down:
So my 9 year old has really enjoyed his chocolate advent calendar this year. This was an annual thing for me as a child. However since up until this year Wes had a dairy and gluten allergy, he was not able to enjoy this tradition until now.
Since he enjoys the countdown so much, I’m planning on setting up balloons from 6pm till midnight. Every hour on the hour we will pop a balloon to celebrate the last hours of 2014. Pausing the movie or whatever we happen to be doing at the time and popping the balloon.
If the sound of popping balloons is too scary for your child, may be set up paper bags with activities to do every hour on the hour. Be creative!
5) Time Capsule:
This year I’m going to do something new. I’m going to sit down with my 9 year old and we are going to write about our favorite things that happened this year, and some goals for next year. We will then open it up New Years Eve 2015.
6) Board games:
What a perfect time to pull out those new board games your children might have gotten for Christmas and try them out. If they didn’t get any, pull out an old favorite. Young children love playing board games with mom and dad.
These are just some fun ideas I plan to do with my kids this year. Remember its suppose to be fun, so keep it that way. If your little one cannot stay up till midnight, plan to celebrate at a different time. Set up your count down till 10pm instead(or as early as you need to.) Sometimes you can PVR fireworks from other time zones, or find some on youtube.
What are your ideas for a child friendly New Years Eve 2014.
So I had a date this past weekend with my favorite little boys. Its been a long time since I took them on my own somewheres to do something fun, just me and them.
I’m not sure about you, but I love Halloween and Fall festivities! Ever since I was a kid it was one of my favorite time of the year. I loved dressing up, Halloween parties, Boo at the Zoo, and local haunted houses, corn mazes, pumpkin carving, and of course making pumpkin pies.
Back when my big kids were little, I took them to a nearby corn maze. We had fun, but over the years it has gotten pretty big, and in my opinion less little kid friendly. So I started to look for something different.
Well I found it!
Penner Pumpkins & The Scarecrow Forest
Penner’s is located on a farm northeast of Steinbach, Manitoba. What I loved about it is it is totally kid oriented. If you have a more sensitive child, I could find nothing really scary about this place.
I think even families who do not celebrate Halloween could enjoy this farm. There were no ghost, monsters, witches, werewolves, zombies, vampires, or any other scary creatures. Just farm animals, pumpkins and scarecrows.
The first thing Wes ran to do when we arrived was to start playing on one of the huge homemade play structures. He enjoyed the crazy slippery slides, and exploring the tunnels.
Make sure to make lots of time to spend at Penner Pumpkins and Scarecrow forest. There were so many fun homemade play structures, your kids are going to want to keep running around playing. You won’t find ANYTHING like this in the city.
Then came the paintball target range. Well as you can image, Wes was all over this! Imagine, being 9 years old and being ALLOWED to shoot a car and its passengers(scarecrows mind you) with a paintball gun? Yep, he was in his glory. Apparently he has good aim too! He was able to peg the scarecrow driver in the head several times. This summer at camp he apparently got a Bulls Eye his first shoot during archery and several throughout the day.
Next came the Duck Races. One ticket got you a cute little rubber ducky to race. You put your rubber ducky in a race track and at the sound of “Ready, Set, Go!” you start pumping the water pump as fast as you can.
But the best part was, we got to keep the ducky and we could go back and race with it as often as we wanted. Then at the end of the day, the boys got to bring them home.
Wes and I found 2 GIANT homemade Connect Four games. There was also a picnic table, converted to a giant Checkers board.
Instead of a sandbox they had a Corn Box. Yes it was a giant sandbox filled with unpopped popcorn. Z loved playing in this. Ok I’m not going to lie, I love playing in the corn box too! All though I would recommend if you are wearing flip flop sandals to take them off before going in the corn box. It kind of reminds me of quicksand and it almost ate my sandals a few times before I took them off.
Afterwards it was 2:30pm. Every hour there is a train ride the loads up and takes sightseers around the farm .
The driver introduced us to several of his animals, and took us through the Scarecrow Forest.
Wes also got to experience ziplining for the first time! He was so excited when he saw it. The two best things about this for me as a parent was : a) It only cost me $1.75 for him to experience this, and b) if Zakari hadn’t fallen asleep while we were standing in line(in my new Toddler Tula carrier, in case anyone was wondering LOL) him and I could have put on a harness and ziplined together. The attraction is open to people 2-86 years old.
Wes also got to shoot what they call the Corn Cannon. They load it up with tennis balls and then you get to fire them at a farm target range. Sadly I didn’t get any pictures of this because my camera died 🙁
I should mention, these are just the attractions we hit. There were a few more, but we ran out of time and Little Z fell asleep.
At the end of the day I was so happy with our visit. The owners and staff are amazing. Everytime I saw the owner, he was greeting guest and welcoming them to his farm. This is was not a money grab attraction. I felt everything was fairly priced, and well worth the price of admission. One thing you will notice is this not a corporate and professionally made attraction. This is a down to earth, made with love, blood, sweat and tears operation. The owners are obviously very creative, and know what kids love. It has a homemade feeling, and that is what I love about it. I felt like I was having a fun day on the farm with my family, not a day at the amusement park being nickeled and dimed.
Penner’s Pumpkins and Scarecrow Forest, we will be back next year!