Friday, June 28, 2013

Fine Motor Friday: Modifications

This is my final Fine Motor Friday post so soak it up. I've basically shared everything I know about improving fine motor skills with you. Told ya I wasn't an OT :)

Today we're talking modifications, as in how to modify your child's pencil grasp so he's using a tripod grip if he isn't ready to use it on his own. That was a lot of words, let me try that again. I'm going to give you ideas on how to force a tripod grasp if it isn't the grasp of choice. If you have no clue what I'm yammering on about, check out last week's post here.

Let's get personal for a second.

Neither of my twins would pick up a crayon or any writing utensil until they were almost 4 years old. Not that I didn't try... or bribe... They were not interested and despite my best efforts, I couldn't make them. I knew we were heading down the path of fine motor concerns because one w-sitting and the other held his crayon in his fist to color: both big no-no's on the road to a "healthy" grasp. It made me CRAZY. I don't mean that it bothered me and I was troubled by it. I mean it make me a special kind of CRA-ZAY. I knew how this was supposed to go down & that wasn't happening for us.

Let's take a second here & evaluate my overreaction.  I was a 1st time mom to twins & I was preggo again by the time they were 18 months old. Sanity & I were not friends then. This was straight up survival mode. I had a problem & I needed to fix it. Yesterday.

 After speaking to various professionals about my concerns many, many times, one of my OT friends said to me (so patiently), "Look, I know you're concerned about the fist grip & about the core stability in the boys but it's not impacting their learning or their ability to draw & write. Let it go, it'll work itself out."

When she said that to me, it was like someone lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I think I just needed someone to tell me that it was all going to be fine. So, I let it go. And you know what? It did work itself out. By the end of kindergarten, we had gone away from the fist grip. Now that they're approaching 3rd grade, I can honestly say that I completely overreacted. The boys function normally in the classroom. Their handwriting isn't pretty but most of the time it's legible & they can get their thoughts down on paper so someone else can read it. Is writing a highly desired activity for them? Probably not, but they have no issues with drawing. In fact, I'd say art is at the top of their list of fun things to do. I anticipate them being awesome at texting :)

What's my point in sharing this? Basically, if your child is struggling with fine motor & you're doing all the right things, don't sweat it so much. I can't speak for all, but things generally work out when your child is ready. You can't rush a skill that isn't ready to be developed- not just motor skills but any skill for that matter. A child who isn't ready to read isn't going to read. A child who isn't ready to ride a bike isn't going to ride bike. Stop watching what everyone else's child is doing & know that your kiddo will get there too.

So, what can you do in the meantime? These tricks helped my little darlings until they were ready to go on their own.

Ways to Modify a Tripod Grasp

Break Your Crayons

Or pencils, or chalk- whatever your medium, make it small. This forces your little one into the pincher grasp and creates the web in the hand needed for the tripod grasp. 

photo from

Use a Pencil Grip

There are a ton out there but I liked this one the best.

It's a little tricky on the set up, but it forces the fingers into the right places. Click here to order from

Use a Modified Pencil

My son had a lot of luck using this pencil. It looks kind of funky but it forces the grasp & the hand web. I think its a little easier for little hands to hold on to as well. 

The biggest negative to these is that you have to keep refilling the lead to keep them working. Click here to order from

Pip-Squeaks Markers by Crayola

These itty-bitty markers are just right for developing hands. My boys loved coloring with markers more than crayons, so these were a staple at our house for a long time. Again, the smaller size forces the correct grip.

Click here to purchase from

That's it for fine motor Friday's! Hope you have found this series helpful & informative. 

 Have a happy weekend :)

**I was not compensated or asked to endorse any of these products. I've used ALL of these & found them extremely helpful in building towards a tripod grasp. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Workin It: Summer Edition

* side bar: this post has links to several of my previous posts. If you'd like to read more, just click on the post name & it should take you to where you want to be. You can also visit my archives to find the posts as well.

It's taken me only about 3 weeks, but I'm finally getting into the groove of summer. I like to kind of ease into things, feel it out & see how it's going to work for me. That's how I roll. Summer schedule kicked in this week, you can read about in my post The Line Up  (See, this is where you can just click on the post name to read more about our summer schedule. I'm getting techie ;) You know you're excited.). Kids are on board, we're all feeling the vibe. Life is good. Perfect time to introduce the new chore chart.

I started chore charts with my kiddos back in February and it has worked like a charm. You can read more about how I established habits instead of chores in my previous post Workin' It and Update: Workin' It, Still Workin'. My boys still follow through with their morning responsibilities with no hassle. They do need reminders to make sure their tasks are completed, but there is no battle, no fuss when it comes to actually doing it. Couldn't love it more. 

Enter the summer chore chart. My boys have basically 3 jobs this summer in addition to their regular morning chores (see Workin' It): sweep, dishes & tables. Watering the plants is spread throughout the week, mostly so I remember to actually water the plants! I'm great with plants at first but then...not so much. Hoping this holds me more accountable, we'll see :)

The Big 3

Like before, I chose 3 chores that I thought the boys could do easily, with little to no help from me. These all focus around mealtime, the biggest source of cleaning & clean up for me during the day. Feeding 4 boys three times a day is a process from start to finish. We use a LOT of dishes & we make a LOT of crumbs. So, any help I can get from them to going to make my life much, much easier & maybe free up some time to do other things, say...blogging? We'll see how it goes!


We have a Swiffer Sweeper Vac that I raved about in my post Be Awesome Today. The boys can use this easily so their job is to sweep under the table after every meal. 


This one is basically to wipe off the tables, chairs & island after every meal. This will hopefully be done before the sweeping & will hopefully cut down on the stickiness. Hopefully...


Dishes is turning out to be the most work. Their job is to help load the dishwasher & to dry the dishes I'm washing. Gotta say, I'm loving this because I always have a clean sink after each meal. I love a clean sink. I also like this one because the child is pinned in the kitchen with me 3x a day and I'm finding its a great time to chat :)

That's it! So far, so good; everybody's on board as of right now. I'm paying them $1.50 instead of a $1.00 since they're doing a little more work. This is just for the summer, when school rolls around we'll go back to our regular chore schedule and cut out the additional work; unless, of course, that I'm finding it's easy to manage. Then, we may keep both. I do love the extra help... 

Trying to raise good husbands, ladies! 

What chores do your kiddos do during the summer? Share with me! 
On Twitter @preschoolmomma

Monday, June 24, 2013

MB's Kitchen

Guest post today! My friend, Mary Beth, over at MB's Kitchen was gracious enough to share with me one of her favorite recipes for the preschool crowd. Check it out!

Preschool children or grade school kids will all love making S'more Brownies.  Find this delicious recipe by clicking here. Make learning FUN this summer by cooking with your children :)  Learning opportunities are hidden everywhere in recipes.  Let your child do the measuring, stirring and pouring.  Cooking with your child increases your child's knowledge in math, science, reading, health and  communication skills.  
Math: Help your child keep those math skills blooming this summer with some YUMMY math in the kitchen. Here are a couple Math Extension Activities for the S'more Brownie Recipe:
100's- Have your child group the marshmallows and chocolate chips into groups of 10.  Can you make 10 groups of 10?  WOW,  you just made 100!  Now add those 100 tasty treats to the top of your delicious brownies.  Be careful... the pan is HOT!
Fractions- Talk about fractions when making the toppings for the brownies. Hand your child 1 whole graham crackers. Then divide the graham cracker in half.  Then divide in half again... talk about 1/2 , 1/4 and 1/8 etc.  Keep breaking the graham cracker into pieces and continue talking fractions. Use these tasty graham cracker pieces for the brownie topping.  
Reading: Have your child read the recipe when baking. If your child is a pre- reader, write each ingredient with the measurement on an index card.  Attach a picture of each item to each word card.  Place the cards in order and ask your child, "What do we need to add next? " Whether they read the word or use the picture as a clue... your child will be a successful reader!
Science:  Cooking is the best science experiment EVER... you get to eat it!  In this recipe, your child can observe the scientific reaction between water and oil.  They learn science concepts such as temperature (hot /cold), floating, sinking, dissolving, and melting. Baking brownies is a great opportunity to discuss solid and liquid. Brownie batter is a liquid and after you bake them, it becomes a solid :)
Fine and Gross Motor Skills: These motor skills increase while cooking through stirring, pouring and breaking graham crackers into tiny pieces.  
Communication Skills: Talk with your child about textures, color and shapes.  Ask questions: What color is the brownie batter? Feel the brownie mix... how does it feel? Learn new vocabulary by adding adjectives to your child's description of their food.  
Health: It's always important to teach your child good habits when cooking.  Always was your hands before handling food and after touching meat, poultry and eggs.
Enjoy this time you and your child have together while cooking  :)
 For more recipes, please visit MB's Kitchen :)

Thanks, Mary Beth! You can check out more fabulous recipes on her website

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fine Motor Friday: Tripod Pencil Grasp

We're talking tripod's today & not the yoga kind, though I'll talk to you about that too if you want :)

The tripod pencil grasp is considered the most "efficient" way to hold a pencil according to those who know.

If you child isn't there yet, get on the phone & call the nearest occupational therapy center immediately! Kidding ;) Like most things with children, this develops over time when it is ready to develop. We here in the good ole USofA try to rush this by throwing crayons & other utensils in our children's hands before they functionally ready; hate to tell you, but if your little darling isn't ready to hold a pencil like this it isn't gonna happen.

Here's a diagram I found that shows how a pencil grasp typically develops:

If you'd like to read more about a tripod grasp & it's development, click here. I am not an OT & will not attempt to explain the science behind this. If there's an OT out there reading this that would like to guest post & explain it in detail, shoot me an email. I'd love to hear from you. What I am going to do for you is give you some quick & easy things to do to promote hand/finger strength that will help your child build towards the tripod grasp.


Today, we're focusing on the thumb & 1st finger that you'd use to pinch the base of the pencil or writing utensil. These activities will strengthen these fingers & train them to work together. 


For this one, you need a pipe cleaner & some beads. Have your child use her thumb & pointer finger to grasp the bead & slide it onto the pipe cleaner. 

Lacing cards can also be used, just make sure your child is pinching the end of the string with his thumb & pointer finger.

Pinching Play Doh

We've been over my love for Play Doh & it's learning potential (click here for a recap). Play Doh is great for developing hand strength in general & this activity is no exception. All you do is give your little one a chunk of Play Doh & have her pinch off little pieces using her thumb & pointer finger. This is one that you can incorporate very easily into play so your child has no idea she's practicing anything.

Digging in Clay

Grab some clay (not Play Doh- you want something with more resistance for this one) and sink something small into like beads or coins. Then, have your child dig for those objects using those pincher fingers. This one isn't easy, make sure you soften the clay before giving it to your child otherwise this activity will be super frustrating.You can soften clay by rolling it around in your hands for a few minutes. That's your freebie ;)


Find some child-sized tweezers (mine came in our Play Doh kit) and some of those fluffy pompom balls. Have your child use the tweezers to pinch the pompoms & transfer them into a container. 

Paper Shredding

This one is a little messy but is a double feature: save that old mail that you're going to tear up & let your little one go to town! Have your child maintain that pincher grasp while he shreds. Fun & efficient :)

There you go! Five ways to train those fingers to work together using things you probably already have at home. Next Friday, we're talking grip modifications- come back!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What We're Reading, June Edition

It's camp week at my house, which means we're off our schedule & I'm elbows deep in some home improvement projects while I'm down a few kids! I wanted to squeeze out a quick post for y'all to let you know I'm still thinking about you ;)

I'm always looking for new reading material for myself & the fam so I thought I'd return the favor & share what we're currently reading with you! So without further ado...

What We're Reading, June Edition


I currently have my nose buried in this book:

This is a freebie from my father, from whom I learned all of my book-wormy-ness. It's international spy-thriller, quick & easy to read & it totally sucks you in. I give it a B+.


The Hubs isn't a big reader but he'll tune in when something is worthwhile, like The Hunger Games. Didn't see him for a week when he read through that! Got a tiny glimpse of what it must be like to be married to me- kinda felt sorry for him... kind of... 

We gave him this book for Father's Day & it seems to be a hit:

You know it's funny when he reads it aloud to me. Any book with a side hug on the front cover is worth opening, in my opinion :) I think he'd give it an A but he's not here for me to ask.


This travels in the car with us & generally keeps the peace. Thumbs up from me!

He gives it a B. That's all the info I can get from him while he plays Wii. You'll have to check that one out yourself.


My darling child has blessed us with the plethora of potty jokes from this book:

It's exactly what it looks like. I'm sure he'd give it an A+ but I'm not asking.


Quinn loves Bad Kitty, but I think he loves Uncle Murray more. This is the latest:

These are pretty funny to read aloud & a fairly quick read. He gives it an A but then again, he gives everything an A. 


The baby likes this one:

It's pretty sweet to listen to him "read" it to himself. These books always reminded me of a tamer Garbage Pail Kids* so I stayed away from them at first but then I discovered that kids LOVE THEM! Mills & I give this one an A+.

Tune in tomorrow for more Fine Motor Friday! 

*There's a blast from the past! Did you know they still make them? We got them for our boys & they were totally grossed out. Kids are soft these days.

I'd loooooooveeeee a good book recommendation. Share with me what you're reading!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cheers & Jeers: Father's Day Edition

It's been a while & I'm in need of some celebrating!

Cheers & Jeers: Father's Day Edition

Cheers to Dad's!

Happy Father's Day week to all the dads out there & all the dads-to-be! Thank you for being an awesome influence on your little one's life. My boys have been blessed with the best dad out there & we decided to honor him by making this little video! Enjoy :)

Cheers to Looney Ballooney!

Father's Day evening, we headed out to the Old Bag of Nails Pub for a Dad celebration. If you haven't been there, I totally recommend. The food is fantastic! While we were there, we made 2 awesome discoveries: 1. Kids eat free on Sundays- bonus!  and 2. Amy Holmes, balloon artist.

When I say balloon artist, I don't use that term lightly. I've seen my fair share of balloon animals & no one compares to this lady. She is unbelievable. Check out her work:


If you are in need of a balloon artist, I encourage you to check her out! Here's a link to her website: Looney Ballooney

Cheers to Trader Joe's & this stuff:


I love so many things about Trader Joe's that it's hard to list them all. Great prices, usual selections, all the healthy stuff; what's not to like? Then, I discovered the Chunky Guacamole. This stuff is Fan.Tas.Tic. And it's good for you. Your belly wins all around. 


Jeers to Lookey-Loos

That's right, I'm talking to you people who crane your neck to watch me drag my screaming toddler out of the restaurant. I have a few things to say to you:

1. Don't judge us, your child will embarrass the crap out of you at some point. You can count on it.

2. I will continue to go out to eat with my family. I do not particularly enjoy cooking & I will avoid it if possible. 

3. My other 3 children have excellent restaurant manners & this one will too. How do you think the other's got that way? If I want them to learn how to behave in a restaurant, I must take them to one. 

4. I'm avoiding eye-contact with you because a) I don't really care to see your disapproving look and b) I'm terrified my toddler is going to grab a hold of my shirt mid-rage & flash all of you. I'd like to be able to face people again & I can't do that if I can identify you. It's not personal. 

Happy week everyone! My boys are in camp this week, can you say "aaahhh??" 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fine Motor Friday: Core

Happy Friday!

This is the 1st in a series I hope to do about improving your child's fine motor skills. Today we're talking about core strength.

What does core strength have to with fine motor skills? Everything. If you lack stability in your core, you have to make up for it somewhere else: usually by using your hands & arms. It's pretty hard to balance yourself & draw at the same time.

I found a great article that gives a ton of detail on what fine motor should look like from birth up to age 6. If you have a child struggling with fine motor skills (like mine!) its worth the 10 minute read. Here's the link: Fine Motor Development

Everything I know about fine motor skills comes from the awesome training I had when I was a kindergarten teacher. The building OT's (that's Occupational Therapists for those of you who don't speak teacher) would sit down with us yearly & give suggestions on how to support the child in our classroom who struggled with fine motor issues. The info they have me was invaluable, not only for my classroom, but also for my own children.

My twins have had some mild fine motor issues since they could pick up a crayon; so, this hits home for me. We avoided private therapy only because I had all of these knowledgeable people to turn to in my work place that could give me advice on how to work on this at home. In hindsight, I could kind of go either way- maybe outside therapy would've helped & maybe they would've just told me what I already knew. You can't go back.

One of the biggest indicators of core strength for my boys was when I noticed they were w-sitting. A w-sit is where the child is sitting on his knees, with his feet turned out.

No adult could ever sit like this. He was sitting like this because he needed his feet to provide the stability that his core couldn't. Here's a great link to explain w-sitting & why you shouldn't let your kids do it: w-sitting

So what can you do about all of this? I'm hoping this series of posts can help. Let's start with some core exercises that you can quickly incorporate into your day.

Core Strengthing Exercises


Plank is all the rage right now & that's because it is the ultimate core workout. Straighten your arms like at the top of a push-up, without moving your arms lower your booty so your back is a straight line- like a plank- and then hold it. This one isn't easy & if you have a weak core, it's going to seem impossible at 1st. Keep at it, it get easier with time.

Forearm Plank

Just like plank but on your forearms. 


Lie on your belly, face down. Then, at the same time, lift both your arms & legs while keeping your torso on the ground. Then hold as long as you can. This one works your low back- also part of your core :)


This is the reverse of Superman. Lie (is it lie or lay?) on your back and then lift both your arms & legs into a banana shape while keeping your low back on the ground. Hold. 


Yep, you used to do this one when you were a kid. Grab a hold of your child's legs & have her walk on her hands around the house. You could even do a race. This one is upper body & core- bonus!

Crunches & Sit-ups

Good old-fashioned crunches & sit-ups work for this too. 

Like any kind of exercise (or really anything), your child is going to be a more willing participant if it's fun. Don't be afraid to make it a game, we had timers to see who could hold the poses the longest. We also got down on the floor & did it with the boys. They thought it was super fun if they could beat us. Who couldn't use a little more core work? Especially if you've had as many babies as I have. It is bathing suit season. Oy.

Happy planking!

Tune in next Friday, we're talking tripods :)

Share your fine motor fun with me! @preschoolmomma

Thursday, June 13, 2013

It's All About the Benjamin's

A few weeks ago, before my boys were home for summer break, I settled in for an afternoon of watching E! while I folded my mountain of laundry that only a family of 6 can bring. The E! channel is a bit of a guilty-pleasure of mine. I have been known to tune in an afternoon or two while the big kids are at school & the baby is napping. I look at it as responsible parenting because a) my boys are at school &/or asleep and 2. I'm being productive while I watch (cleaning, laundry, etc).

For the sake of being honest, I will admit that enjoy a little Fashion Police and I sometimes laugh at Joan River's bad jokes...sometimes you just have to laugh. For example, when my darling child rattled off about 15 potty jokes at lunch the other day. Why did Tigger stick his head in the toilet? Because he was looking for his friend Pooh. That stuff is funny. I properly scolded him afterwards, not to worry. But I did have a pretty big smile on his face so I'm sure it did the trick.

Now, I know watching tv like E! probably isn't the best for my moral hygiene. There are probably many other things that I could tune into that would better my mind, but sometimes you gotta let go. I'd like to believe God has a sense of humor; after all, He did create the baboon. And the Pug.


By the way, that is not a knock on the Pug. I think they're awesome, please no hate mail. They have the best expressions :)

Anyway, this particular afternoon on E! I decided to watch Blinging Up Baby, where they're going to show us the latest & greatest that celeb's are purchasing for their babies. Awesome. I have a baby. Let's see how the other half lives; maybe I can find the middle-class version at Target. 

They dove right in with pregnancy & how celeb's stay fit while sporting a baby bump. Can you say personal chef? Trainer? They're flashing pictures up of these girls in their designer maternity wear and then flipped to a Victoria's Secret model, you know, what every mom-to-be wants to see. They ask her if she has any cravings & she says (and I'm not being mean when I quote her, this is what she really said): 

Oh my gosh! One time, in the middle of the night, I had the worst craving. All I wanted was pineapple. I couldn't get enough.


Only a Victoria's Secret model would crave pineapple. The rest of us want cake.

Britney Spears caught a lot of flak for her pregnancy diet but at least she was being honest. Nothing wrong with a Cheeto or 10. Not that I would know anything about that...

That should've been my clue to turn it off but I kept on watching.

The next segment was on celebrity nurseries & how they're getting only the best for their babies. They showed these luxurious cribs & bedding. Cashmere blankets for the baby to poop on (can't quite shake the potty humor!). And finally, a $1,000 giraffe to complete the look. Pretty sure I'm not finding that at Target.

This went on & on & on: designer clothes & burp cloths, a shopping trip for one little darling where she got to pick out a $700 dress. I finally had to just turn it off. You know you're getting old & responsible when all you can think about is how many kids that kind of cash could feed.

Something about that show just kept staying with the me the rest of the afternoon. Finally, I figured out why it bothered me so much. The point of the show seemed to be to be a good parent you've gotta have only the biggest & best for your kid. You don't have to be a celebrity to try to achieve that. Look around; it's happening all around me here in middle-class USA. We're constantly throwing stuff at our kids: electronics, toys, state-of-the-art sports equipment, all in the name of good parenting. I'm as guilty as everyone else on this one. You don't want your child to feel like you can't provide.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: kids definitely want stuff, no doubt about it. But do you know what they want more? You. They want to have a relationship with you: they want your attention, they want your approval and most of all, they want your time. That's it. Plain & simple.

Let's invest in our kids & not in their playrooms. Let's take the time to build compassionate individuals who care more about the people in their lives than their possessions. In the end, it's just stuff. Your relationships & influences are what leave a legacy, not a $1000 giraffe or a $15 DS game.

Put your phone down, step away from Facebook, email & all the distractions of life & play with your kid. Time is fleeting, haven't we all read the articles? Things can wait, your kids can't.

Make it about the Benjamin's and the Maya's and the Ethan's and the Lily's...

Invest in your people, the rewards are priceless.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Line Up

As much as I love my "unscheduled" time in the summer, I tend to crave the structure that a schedule brings. I've found that I'm a major time-waster. I can kill a day doing absolutely nothing: checking twitter/facebook, shopping online, "researching" (aka: finding the best places to shop online), moving things from one counter to another... you get the idea. I do better with a little structure around my day.  I'm more focused if I have a task to complete, a goal to achieve; I've found that my boys are the same way.

Left alone, I have no doubt my boys would choose to play video games all day. I'm sure they'd eventually get tired of it, but I think we're looking at August before that happens. I set limits & am acutely aware of their screen time mostly because they can't/won't curb themselves.

It makes my life significantly easier when everyone knows what's happening throughout our day. Guidelines also help my wandering mind stay on track and actually accomplish something. So, I channeled my inner kindergarten teacher & made this:

Can you tell my ink cartridge is on its last legs? Add that to the list!

I wowed you with my technology skills, didn't I?

I purposely left the times off of the list. I don't want to feel like we have to stick firmly to the schedule; rather, I want it to be a guideline for the day. I also don't want to limit things like, learning, to just an hour long window. If we're in the throws of a project, I don't want them to look at the clock & say, "Hey! It's time for video games." 

Why does this help me? It's really easy- this is predictable, everyone knows what is going to happen & when it's going to happen. Chores are right after breakfast so they can't be overlooked or ignored. They must be completed before anything else. We still have an afternoon napper, so any outings for the day are going to occur before lunch. We're going to learn something before we dive into technology/video games.  The learning time is also when we're going to read for the summer reading programs. The rest of the day is kind of open to whatever comes our way.

By putting this down on paper, it holds me accountable to making sure that they get in those important things like learning & outside activities. It also answers the question of "when can I...?" so I don't have to answer it a bazillion times. Am I going to stick to it like glue? Nope, it's just a framework to guide our day, especially those that are more unstructured.

While we were at it, I had each kiddo fill out this:

The quality on this one is super crappy, don't you think I need a new phone? wink, wink
And yes, that does say 28 stories. Guess I'd better add paper to that list!

Based on past experience, my life with four kids seems to race before my eyes. To quote Ferris Bueller (my all time favorite movie) "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop & look around once in a while, you might miss it." This is my opportunity to look around & see what my kids want. Where do they want to go? Who do they want to see? What do they want to accomplish? I want to be purposeful in my planning & scheduling of our time because I'm going to blink my eyes & school will be starting again. And we've already been over how I can waste time...

So, that's my plan. I'm getting organized & getting things lined up so this can be the summer of fun :)

How do you organize your summer?

tweet to me @preschoolmomma 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Hey, I Can Use That: Brown Baggin' It

Here it is: part 4 of things you can use to make summer easier!

I love the beach. It's quite possibly my favorite place on the earth. As soon as I dig my toes in the sand, I can feel all the tension of life wash away. Give me a second here...

Back to reality! Since Cincinnati has no beach, (not counting The Beach here, people. That's not a real beach no matter how they market it) we make the yearly pilgrimage to hot & sunny, South Carolina. For those of you not up your geography, it's not a quick trip. We're talking 10-12 hours in the car, depending on traffic, # of stops, etc. With four kids in tow, it's not exactly a quiet & peaceful trip. Is the image of the tension washing away clearer now? Exactly.

Last year, with the help of Pinterest & my brain-giving the credit where credit is due- I decided I was going to be proactive & make this road trip more fun.

Enter this:

Now, I know what you're thinking. This girl has some interesting ideas about fun. Stay with me.

I took 10 of these bags & numbered them 1-10. Then, I went shopping. See? I am fun.

The idea is that we, as a family, open one bag each hour of the trip. So, once we've been in the car one hour, we opened bag one; 2nd hour: bag two, etc. 

How did it work? It was a beautiful thing, if I say so myself. We rotated so each child knew when it would be his turn- no fighting over bags. The boys were very excited to see what was in each bag; it really did make the trip go faster for them. 

So, what did I put in the bags? 
 Here's my list:
1. Car game: License Plate Game
2. books
3. candy
4. new movie from the $5 bin at Target/Walmart
5. beach toys from the $1 bin at Target
6. Car game: Road Trip Bingo
7. new DS games from Game Stop- mostly used (this one, each kid had his own bag to open)
8. fun snacks
9. easy art project from $1 bin at Michaels
10. Car game: Road Trip Scavenger Hunt

*if you roll over the car games it should link to site where you can find the printables
**Side note: I did spend some money ($50ish) but it was well worth it. I don't buy my kids a lot toys unless there's a reason: birthday, holidays, etc; so, I felt justified in spending the cash. You could probably do it under $10 if you were super thrifty & subbed out the DS games. It would also help if you don't have a boatload of kids :)

 I only did this for trip to SC, not for the ride home. We got to our destination before we opened every bag so we did save a couple for the return trip. I'm not made of money ;) 

This road trip was easy-peasy and a lot of fun for everyone! I am planning on doing this again this year. 

Special treats are fun for everyone, especially if they serve a dual purpose: sanity is everything. 

Happy Road Trip!

What do you do to survive your long car rides? Share with me! 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hey, I Can Use That: Elmer's School Glue Naturals

Party 3 today of things that'll help you get through the summer with your little darlings.

I love a good project. I consider myself fairly crafty & am at my happiest when I'm creating something. So, when Elmer's asked me to try their new product I said, "Yes, please."

Elmer's has gone green and created a new line of products that are all natural with recyclable packaging. Yay Elmer's! My family tries to be green with reusing & recycling. I try to use all natural products in cleaning, skin care, etc. so I was excited to try this! Gotta say that I never thought I'd be pumped about glue, but I am. Teacher friends, take note.

Elmer's School Glue Naturals


Here are the deets per the Elmer's press release:
"Reinforcing its commitment to innovation and to supporting consumer demand Elmer’s® Products, Inc., makers of America’s favorite school glue, is proud to introduce Elmer’s®School Glue Naturals™— the first and only school glue made with naturally occurring ingredients and available in recycled packaging.
Elmer’s pourable School Glue Naturals consists of 99 percent natural ingredients. The primary ingredient in the adhesive is plants, specifically American-grown corn—a rapidly renewable resource. The bottle is made from 25 percent post-consumer recycled materials and the label contains 20 percent recycled paper, is printed with soy-based ink and is applied with a natural rubber adhesive. Also made primarily from corn, Elmer’s Naturals Glue Stick formula consists of more than 88 percent natural ingredients. The sticks are made of 25 percent post-industrial recycled plastic. The labels are printed with soy ink on FSC-certified paper and the card is made from 100 percent recycled paper board.
Elmer’s School Glue Naturals is just as strong, safe, non-toxic and washable as Elmer’s traditional School Glue and can be used for any project for which Elmer’s School Glue would normally be used. Further,empty Elmer’s School Glue bottles – both natural and traditional – can be recycled at home by consumers. In schools, the glue bottles and sticks can be recycled through the Elmer’s Glue Crew® Brigade® with TerraCycle, an easy way for teachers and students to recycle and earn money and other rewards for participating in eco-friendly efforts."
See? You thought I was being a nerd, didn't you? Now, you're excited too. It's okay to get excited about the earth & your child's well being. I won't tell anyone.

Sounds great in theory, right? But does it work? In my experience, things sometimes lose their quality when they switch to all natural. As Kermit said, it's not easy being green. So we tried it, and guess what? This is easy.

I put the experts on the case to find out if this stuff is all its cracked up to be. They decided to make Star Wars puppets since they're on a reoccurring Star Wars Kick.


What They Noticed

  • the strong gluey smell is gone, this new product is nearly odorless
  • the consistency (my word, not their's :) of the pourable glue is thicker & less gooey than regular Elmer's; this makes it a little harder to squeeze the bottle but it's also more controllable since it doesn't come pouring out
  • it's super sticky & works just like regular Elmer's, maybe even a little better...

What I Liked

That it's natural, not messy & still non-toxic, especially as I watched my toddler bite a chunk out of one of the glue sticks. :)


Loved it, would buy it & stock it in our house for our future creations. We give it two Wookies up! (and a Yoda & Darth Vadar)



Pricing & purchase locations for Elmer's School Glue Naturals (per the press release)
"Elmer’s School Glue Naturals come in a single-4 oz. pourable bottle, single-22g glue stick or 6g glue sticks sold in two- and four-packs, and in a 30-pack case. Suggested pricing for the pourable glue and 2-pack glue sticks is $3.29. The 30-pack of glue sticks retails for $16.99 for educators. Elmer’s School Glue Naturals will be available nationwide in Jo-Ann Fabric stores beginning March 2013 and at Michaels starting this May. The line is currently sold in United and School Specialty catalogs."

Thanks, Elmer's for sharing this new product with us!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hey, I Can Use That: Conversation Journals

Part two of useful things for summer! This post is aimed toward the older kids, since they are home with us for the summer. It can also be modified for the little ones. Enjoy!

It went like this:

Last year, when my boys were in 1st grade, I was having a convo with my friend, Melissa. She was talking about her daughter and how she was trying to incorporate writing into their home practice. She was asking my opinion about how to encourage writing while keeping it meaningful, purposeful & fun. I was giving her my ideas- my boys have struggled with writing & fine motor for years so this was right up my alley- when she gave me the best idea that I'd heard in a long time.

She said (I love to quote people, can you tell?), "My daughter has grown tired of her conversation journal so I need some new ideas."

That's how she said it, very matter-of-factly, like everyone has a conversation journal at home.

I had to know what a conversation journal was, as I'm racking my brain trying to figure out if this is something I missed. Sometimes I miss things. Happens.

She said, "Oh, it's something that we started a few months ago. She writes in her journal things she wants to share with me or things that she wants to keep private but wants me to know about. She leaves in my room & then, I read it & write her back."


So, I ran to Target & immediately picked up these little babies:


And the rest, they say, is history. The boys write anything they want to share or tell us. It's mostly "I love you's" or "can I do/have____" but every now & then something goes in there that wouldn't have come out another way. Sometimes it's an apology, sometimes it's something bigger. But it's always there, always a choice & always confidential. It's fun to see what they think is worth sharing. And they wake up eager to see what we said back to them. 

Writing to us is an option any time during the day but they tend to write to us at night. Sometimes, I'm sure it's a stall tactic for bedtime; I'm okay with that. A little extra reading & writing is worth it.

We did pick up another notebook for my son when he started kindergarten & he loves it too. If you have a younger child who isn't ready for writing words, encourage him to draw pictures. Pictures are extremely effective communicators. And you get to draw and/or write back- fun!

There it is: a quick, easy, purposeful way to incorporate more writing in your child's day while providing another method of communication for all of you. 

Encourage open conversations with your kids. You'll be surprised what you find out :)

I'd love to know that you're doing to encourage communication with your children! Please share!
Twitter @preschoolmomma

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hey, I Can Use That: Kiddy Timer

Welcome to Summer!

Summer is my favorite time of year. I love the sun, the lack of schedule, not having to pack lunch everyday... can I get an AMEN?

Summer can also be a challenge, especially with the kiddos so I decided to bring you a week of things that you can actually use to make your life... wait for it... Easier! I'm calling this week, "Hey, I Can Use That" and yes, my goal is to give you a post daily this week. I'm attacking summer head-on. Here we go!

The folks over at LimeFuse asked me to take a look at a couple of apps they've developed to help parents. I LOVE a good app & these didn't disappoint.

Kiddy Timer

This app is a timer that helps you keep track of time-outs & tooth brushing. I am guilty of "forgetting" that I put a child in time-out and this app helps keep you in check.  You can customize it for each child & set the timers accordingly. 


When you're ready to go, hit the check-mark & it'll take you to this screen. 


Here, you can chose either time-out or toothbrush. Pick a side & then the timer starts counting down for you. The time-out timer is silent, chirping when it's finished, but the toothbrush side plays fun music while it counts down. I love the thought that's gone into this- you don't want fun music with a time-out :)

Now, if I could only get them to stop biting their toothbrushes...

This app is free for both the App Store (ipad & iphone) & Google Play . You can upgrade to add more kids or to get rid of the adds that scroll along the bottom. If you do add more children, you can view & run timers for up to 4 children at once; pretty nice for bedtime.

This app seems to be mostly for the preschool crowd. I don't really send my big kids to time-out anymore, though everyone could use a reminder with tooth brushing for sure. I'd love to see other features added to this app, like a timer you can customize & use for video games. Or TV time or really anything you'd want to set limits... 

Overall? Like it, would use it, worth the upgrade if you have multiple little ones. 
*side note: I noticed that you have to press the buttons longer than I anticipated to change the settings. That's a freebie ;) Just didn't want you to think that it wasn't working! 

Foot Rules

The other app LimeFuse asked me to take a look at was Foot Rules. This one is designed to measure your child's feet so you know what size shoe to purchase without having to take your little darling to the store with you! You basically line up your child's foot with the foot on the screen and then move to bar to end of your child's toe. The app then tells you what size shoe to purchase.

This app is also designed for the preschool & under crowd, since an ipad is only so long. I felt like it was pretty accurate for my toddler's little foot. It has a $.99 price tag- steep, right? (ha, ha) This app is for ipad & ipad2 only.

 I could have used this a few years ago when I was dragging 2 toddlers & an infant over to Stride Right. (shudder)
*side note: there's a big warning sign but I felt like it was worth mentioning as well. Do Not let your child stand on your ipad, it will break & this app works just fine when sitting. Yikes.

Thanks, LimeFuse for letting me try out your fun stuff & kick off my "Hey, I Can Use That" week of posts!

Welcome Summer!


tweeting, tweeting @preschoolmomma