Saturday, May 25, 2013

Preschool is for babies, kindergarten is for MEN!

Jackson is officially done with preschool!  St Luke's was wonderful and such a good experience for him and for me.  I loved his teacher, I loved the director, and the music teacher was delightful as well.  Such wonderful people!  I have so much appreciation for teachers of such little people.  I know I couldn't do it, but I'm so grateful for those who have a special gift for working with little ones.  LOVED St Luke's!

Jackson, what do you want to be when you grow up?  Daddy!
Who is your best friend at school?  Emily.
What's your favorite part of school?  Playing with Emily and singing time.
What's your favorite thing about Mrs. Kennedy?  She's always nice to me and loves me. (She really is absolutely wonderful!)

Speaking of Mrs. Kennedy, here she is with Jackson on his last day-

And ADORE this picture of the two of them, Jackson's grin is so cute and mischievous-
(Sorry, it's from a video I accidentally took, so it's a picture of a picture, but his smile is still adorable!)

From a letter that Mrs. Kennedy wrote to Jackson, I learned that Jackson always made sure his best bud, Emily, had a place in line, a seat at the table, and that there was always room for her where he was playing.  Such a sweet boy!  And I learned that when they were given bride and groom dress-up clothes to play with he thought the bride's dress was much more fun to play with than the groom's clothes.  He definitely loves to accessorize, so that makes perfect sense!

Now just a summer and a birthday away until KINDERGARTEN.  I laugh thinking about when I picked him up from school on his last day because he told me, "Next is kindergarten, so I'm almost a MAN, mama!".
Almost, my precious boy.  But there's no hurry.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Summer Camp: At home!

I am so so so excited about this summer.  I found a woman on Pinterest that created an at home summer camp for her children.  It's Genius!  I don't know why I never thought about it.  Last summer we followed the Monday make something day, Tuesday time to read day, Wednesday what's cooking day, Thursday Thanks day, and Friday fun day.  It was fun, but I felt like we were doing the same stuff over and over again.  The at home summer camp idea has a new theme for every week which means new stuff to do and see- no more repeating!  Well, we won't be repeating as much.  The Science Spectrum is the boys' favorite, so we often go there, plus, we have a yearly pass there.

I used this blog for the general weekly themes (though I added the Space week).  I also added my own crafts and field trips that are Lubbock friendly.  Every week I plan on going to the library and getting books that meet each theme as well and we'll add them to our nightly book reading routine.

Here's my 11 week Nuffer family AT HOME summer camp:  (Seriously, I am so stoked about this, I can't wait until summer camp starts!)

Week 1, June 3-7  SPACE
Monday-  Planets video; planets craft (one from this site), and make a rocket (this or this)
Tuesday-  Visit the Planetarium and the TTU museum (the planetarium doesn't do a star show, more a laser light show, so I put in a request to visit the TTU observatory one night instead)
Wednesday-  Make constellation cards and make a constellation craft
Thursday-  Make and play with galaxy dough
Friday-  Create moon phases with Oreos, and make macaroni moon craft
*We might look at the stars one night or make this rocket, create a space picture with shapes, and possibly watch Wall-E or some other space centered cartoon

Week 2, June 10-14  WILDLIFE EXPLORERS
Monday-  Watch Madagascar, make animal masks (I already have the mask kit), and make an elephant
Tuesday-  Visit prairie dog town and Pets Smart (SOOO frustrated that Lubbock still does not have a zoo)
Wednesday-  Do a Camouflage science experiment and play a wild animal activity on YouTube
Thursday-  Make bird seed feeders and hang them outside
Friday- Have an animal and nature scavenger hunt- you can use my list, let me know if you'd like a copy

Week 3, June 17-21  CASTLES AND DRAGONS
Monday-  Watch Tangled and make lanterns like the movie
Tuesday-  Play at Legacy Play Village because it's castle like
Wednesday-  Make magic wands (using straws and paper) and a swab bow and arrows
Thursday-  Build castles with Duplos, blocks, and foam shapes
Friday-  Build a tissue box castle with TP roll people

Week 4, June 24-28  PIRATES, AAARR, Matey!
Monday-  Make a pirate hate with newspaper and paint it with a telescope and eyepatch
Tuesday-  Look over a pirate picture dictionary of pirate words and make a marshmallow pirate ship
Wednesday-  Make a sailing boat and play with it in the bath
Thursday-  Make a treasure chest (get a paper or wooden box and let the boys paint and decorate it)
Friday-  Let the boys go on a real treasure hunt that I will create in the front yard.  (Jim is super excited to make the treasure map)
*Other activities:  play with their pirate water table, Little People pirate ship, and maybe watch Peter Pan

Monday-  Make 4th of July wind socks, 4th necklaces (made with stars instead of flowers), 4th streamers
Tuesday-  Firework crafts with Fruit Loops (similar to this)
Wednesday-  Make and decorate 4th cupcakes or sugar cookies
Thursday-  Fireworks show and sparklers in the backyard
Friday-  Make (with paint and stickers) a REAL flag (13 stripes, 50 stars for math skills)

Week 6, July 8-12  THE EARTH
Monday-  Watch Ice Age Continental drift and create a chart for the boys to graph the weather temps for the week
Tuesday-  Learn about recycling by separating our recycling, take this pledge, and make TP roll binoculars
Wednesday-  Watch The Lorax and plant something.
Thursday-  Make Earth sun-catchers with contact paper and tissue paper and go on a nature walk and make a collage with stuff we find outside
Friday-  Go to the Science Spectrum and check out all of their Earth displays

Week 7, July 15-19  TRAINS
Monday-  Watch a train show (Mr Rogers or Thomas) and play with some train math
Tuesday-  Make a TP roll train and make candy or cookie trains (nix the pink and red)
Wednesday-  Make an egg carton train
Thursday-  Make a giant train track set-up all over our house (we have A LOT of tracks)
Friday-  Go visit the train at the Ranching and Heritage center and maybe go see the miniature train village at the Science Spectrum

Week 8, July 22-26  UP IN THE AIR
Monday-  Make paper rockets and play!
Tuesday-  Make airplane magnets
Wednesday-  Make paper airplanes and play the airplane target game
Thursday-  Watch Up and play the balloon ping pong game
Friday-  Go visit the The Silent Wings Museum

Week 9, July 29- August 2  OCEAN WONDERS
Monday-  Watch the Little Mermaid and make some jellyfish
Tuesday-  Play a fishing math game and go swimming for ABC's in the bathtub (using a pole with a magnet and refrigerator magnets)
Wednesday-  Go swimming or play in the sprinkler and with water toys
Thursday-  Watch Nemo and make an Octapus
Friday-  Go to the Science Spectrum and visit the aquariums there.  Maybe Pets Plus as well.

Week 10, August 5-9  BUILDING AND CREATING
Monday-  Build the wooden car kits (that I already have on hand)
Tuesday-  Create and play with an obstacle course
Wednesday- Build with Duplos, blocks, and marshmallows with toothpicks, then ask the boys which they liked best and why
Thursday-  BOYS CHOICE!  Let the boys choose a craft they want to create
Friday-  Visit the preschool room at the Science Spectrum

Week 11, August 12-16  IT'S A SMALL WORLD
Monday-  Asia:  learn some origami and make candy sushi; also try real sushi
Tuesday-  Mexico:  make paper plate maracas and let the boys make their own tostadas
Wednesday-  Africa:  make Kwanzaa place mat and a rainstick, and make/eat an African fruit salad
Thursday-  Australia:  make an Aboriginal bolo tie and make/eat banana pops (an Australian treat)
Friday-  All about me and where I live/do:  fill out me worksheet and make a world craft (something like this or this)
*I will be using their globe all week as well to point out different countries.  This site has A TON of crafts from other countries that we might also do

Of course, everything is subject to change as stuff comes up or something, but I wanted to get our summer at-home camp up and ready before I started summer school- you know, one less thing to worry about during the semester.  I have almost everything I need at home already sitting in my craft closet, so supplies aren't a huge expense.  I am super excited to get started!  I will also be creating a scrapbook of their summer o'fun as we go on all our adventures.  I can't wait!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

My OTHER set of little helpers...

So today I was SUPER busy cleaning and organizing.  I did laundry, cleaned out the pantry, and organized my craft closet (this job was the most extensive and exhausting); and luckily, I had a couple of helpers to make my day of organizing a little easier.  Mr Potato Head 1 and 2!

The bottom of my craft closet is ALL of the boys' crafts and games so every time I open those closet doors my boys come running!  It makes cleaning that closet a super big chore- try organizing stickers, papers, ribbons, and other fun crafty with boys under your feet grabbing at whatever they can get their tiny little fingers on.  Well, today, by pure luck, I found Mr Potato Head 1 IN my craft closet.  We bought it for Jackson when he was tiny, but we put it away because he just wanted to eat all the pieces.  Then we bought one for Austin when he was tiny thinking we had thrown Jackson's away, but we didn't learn our lesson the first time, apparently, so we ended putting Austin's Mr Potato Head 2 away because he, too, was eating all the little pieces.  As soon as I found Mr Potato Head today Jackson grabbed him and started playing.  Immediately, of course, Austin saw the new toy and tried to take him away.  I, quickly, ransacked their closet to find Mr Potato Head 2 and gave him to Austin.  SUCCESS!  The boys quietly played with their potato heads while I finished organizing the craft closet (which wasn't a quick job).  It was so nice to clean and organize a closet full of stuff that screams to my children, "COME PLAY WITH ME!  COME PLAY WITH ME!" while they played nicely in another room.

Thank you, Mr Potato Head 1 & 2!

It's the little things...

It's the little things in life that make me happy...

Like when Big Poppa wakes up early and crawls into bed with me in the morning.  It's our special time after daddy has left for work and Jackson is still sleeping.  He's such a snuggler.

Like this little owl I found at Hobby Lobby.  He just makes this little space work.  And this little space makes me my heart sing a little.

Like when I catch a glimpse of Jackson and in the same moment I see his infant baby face and the little boy face he's grown into, and memories of his life just wash over me.

Like this picture of Big Poppa just relaxing with Jackson's monkey in the car.  (Blogger is wigging out right now and this picture is all stretched out.  Oy.)

LIKE when Jim brings home flowers for me as I write a blog about the little things that I love so much!  A dozen red roses BEFORE my Mother's Day flowers have died.  I love that man!

I love the little things.

Mother's Day

I had such a wonderful Mother's Day this year!  The boys helped me make a gift for myself- some times you have to take matters into your own hands, ladies.  Daddy helped them make me breakfast in bed, they picked out flowers for me and a card that they both signed.  AND they actually picked out gifts that I wanted and needed!  It was really nice to be appreciated and loved all day long.

The boys with the cake they made for me.  I love Austin's face- I can't tell if he's proud of what he accomplished or if he just wants to take that cake down!  I'm not sure what Jackson is doing in the background, but he makes me laugh.

They picked out a few hair related items that I LOVED!  Including a comb that I have been looking for since before they were born- such little smarty pants.  

Here is the wall that the boys helped me redecorate for Mother's day- I hated this wall.  I hated everything about this wall.  BEFORE:

Sad, right?  BUT here is the wall AFTER:

STOP reading now if you're a mom in my life and have NOT received a gift from me yet.  Here is what we made for the all the moms that we're blessed with-

I hope my mom friends were celebrated this year, and if you weren't told already, 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Behavior chart

So my mom's wish came true and I now have a child that is just as crazy as I was.  Jackson is my little mini me in every way, shape, and form.  The poor baby looks just like I did at his age (but with gorgeous blond hair), he's a super picky eater just like I was (but way worse than I was- even my mom agrees that he's even picker than I was), and he has more attitude than a room full of teenagers.  BUT he also has my good stuff too- he's very neat and orderly, he's very independent  he's VERY smart, and he's a fantastic little helper.  I recently attended his end of the year parent/teacher conference with Mrs. Kennedy, his preschool teacher.  The first thing she said to me (as all teachers do, I'm sure) was how much she enjoys Jackson because he's the sweetest little boy.  I was a little taken back, thinking she got us mixed up with some other little boy's parents because Jackson has had to talk to the school's director about his attitude problem on a few occasions, he's yelled at an aide, and he's not been a great listener, so I said, "Jackson?".  She laughed and assured me she was talking about Jackson and then she said, "Listen, mom, Jackson's personality is very strong, but when he's older no one will convince him to do anything he doesn't want to.  He's not a follower, he's a leader, and in the end he wins".  Her perspective was wise and very enlightening to me.  He is a leader.  He is not easily convinced to do something he doesn't want to.  All traits that will be extremely beneficial to him later in life.  How grateful I am for this new perspective on his strong-willed personality because this mama is tired.  Tired of fighting parenting my strong-willed boy who is just like me.

Jackson responds REALLY well to the chore chart.  I have had some criticism about the chore chart.  Mostly, other parents wonder why things like getting dressed and brushing teeth is on a chore chart.  Why would I pay my children to do things that are necessary?  Well, it's because Jackson used to take 30 minutes to get dressed in the morning while crying and whining the whole time and I was losing my mind!  I saw a few ideas for chore charts on Pinterest and I wondered if making a chart of daily chores or goals would help him be a little faster.  Plus, I wanted to teach him about tithing and such so that's why I pay them for chores at this age.  I don't know that they'll be paid later for daily chores, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.  So, yeah, I pay my children to get dressed and brush their teeth, but guess what?  They make their beds (Jackson does it by himself), get dressed, and brush their teeth in 10 minutes every. single. morning.  And then they proudly run to the chore chart and move their magnets to the "done" spot.  No fighting.  They do it cheerfully.  And my sanity is saved.

So I thought, maybe, just maybe a behavior chart would work for Jackson as well.  Maybe it would give him something to work toward, like his chores.  I was hesitant to use a behavior chart because the consequences aren't related to the behavior.  I realize real discipline teaches corrected behavior in the moment.  For instance, if they decided not to do their chores and I have to do them then they have to pay me TWO nickels.  The consequence has a direct relationship to the behavior.  Ideally, that is the best way to discipline.  I agree.  However, realistically, I am not that creative and I am TERRIBLE at thinking of discipline that fits the behavior so I often just get super frustrated and end up sending him to his room for a time-out anyway.  So I decided, why not??  I realized I am yelling.  A lot.  I don't yell.  I don't like yelling.  And I don't want to be that kind of mom, so I needed to try something.  Here's my newest plan-

The Behavior Chart

I wanted there to be just as many rewards as there were consequences.  And, frankly, we have 8,364,574,546,547 stickers in this house that need a purpose.

Most of the charts we saw online were for the classroom or they said something like "Daddy's Choice" or "Mommy's Choice" for punishment, but we always send them to time out, so that didn't work for us.  I made a custom chart to fit our needs.

The boys can move up and down the chart all day long, so all day long I hear, "I'm making good decisions!  Can I move up my chart?" or "If I do (such and such) then I'll have to move down my chart".  Moving down the chart is more of a punishment for Jackson than anything else we use.  He does NOT want to go down his chart and will often beg us to not make him move his name down.  I strongly believe seeing where his behavior gets him throughout the day and physically moving himself up and down the chart allows him to understand the cause and effect of his behavior; and I wasn't able to do that for him.  Austin is on the chart because Jackson is on the chart and what you do for one child you must do for the other child.  He doesn't really get it, so we usually just move him up and down with his brother because usually they're making the same choices (good or bad) together.

IF they end their day at the top of the behavior chart then they get a grab bag ticket.  5 grab bag tickets wins you a grab bag toy.  I just went to the dollar store and bought a few toys to put in the grab bag.  The boys have already earned 2 grab bag toys each!  Here's the grab bag ticket chart-

And this is what our fridge looks like with our charts.  They are wonderful additions to the running of our home.  And they help Jackson and me to not lose our minds out of frustration with one another.  Win/win!


My grandma's memorial was in California so we got to go on an impromptu trip to my home state!  Nearly ALL of my extended family lives in California and it was sooo nice to see everyone and to spend time with everyone.  We stayed with my cousin, Kelly, and her family.  Kelly is much more like a sister than my cousin- she was my very first friend, after all- and my very closest friend still to this day (outside of Jim, of course).  So indulge me just a moment while I embarrass Kelly and myself with a few pictures- this is what happens when you're history toting grandmother passes away, you get LOTS of pictures you have never seen before.  ;)

We are exactly 4 weeks apart and we often celebrated our birthdays together the first few years of our lives.  Here's our first birthday!   I'm the giant child that looks like she's about to eat the other child- just in case that wasn't as obvious as it looks to me.

Kelly and me with our grandma- It's pretty appropriate for the trip.

This is Kelly and me when we were 5ish.  Best friends!

And this is from our recent California trip.  I love this lady!

And we let the boys in this one...

So Kelly has the most wonderful teenage girls ever, Autumn and Courtney.  Seriously, these girls are sooo wonderful AND they're teenagers!  I know, those two words shouldn't be in the same sentence, but seriously, these are the sweetest girls you've ever met.  Sadly, I didn't get pictures of them because we hardly took pictures AT ALL.  Kelly also has a little guy that is Austin's age, Jason, and we told each other that we were going to take so many pictures of the boys playing together just like we used to, but we didn't.  Thank goodness Courtney picked up a little of our slack and she took most of the pictures I have from the trip, but consequently, the girls aren't in most of the pictures.  Sorry girls!!  So here are some memories of the kids playing together.  They were instant friends just like their moms!

Bath time!  Three men in a tub...

Here's one of Courtney!  And Jackson.

Jay and Jackson playing store.

We're not sure what Jay was doing, but Jackson's so used to Austin climbing all over him he was totally at home.

Courtney again!  And a cousins sandwich.

Just hangin with the boys watchin a little Wreck It Ralph.

It was gorgeous weather while we were there, so we spent a little time in the water.  This brought back a lot of memories of our own childhood growing up.

One of my family's favorite restaurants in California is The Northwoods Inn.  Some of us got together to eat right before we headed back to Texas.  Literally, we had a big family dinner and then started the long trip home.

My dad and Vivian joined us.  It was so good to see them again.  
It was starting to get dark so these pictures are kind of dark.

My Uncle Glenn and family.

Kelly and Jason.

I wish my grandma was in all of these pictures, and I hate the reason for the trip, but the trip was so wonderful!  I miss my family so badly and I wish Kelly and I still lived next door to each other like it was when we were growing up.  I'm so so grateful that I got to see so much family- we say A LOT more family than was pictured, but I, regrettably, didn't get pictures of everyone.  Next time!