Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Do-it-Yourselfer

My two year old has decided that he is now capable of doing things all by himself.

A couple weeks ago, he finally figured out how to open his bedroom door, and now he opens every door in the house that isn’t locked. I have no privacy! At six in the morning, he’ll barge into our bedroom and demand milk. If I’m in the bathroom or changing, he’ll barge right in because he can’t find me. I could lock the doors, I guess, but I always seem to forget. And sometimes it just not safe. I’ll just have to teach him the good old fashion way--tell him to get out.

A couple of days ago, he saw Daddy getting a boiled egg from the fridge, peeling it, and eating it before heading out. Blake figured he could do that too, so he went to the fridge, got himself an egg, went to our front window where he saw Daddy drive off, and cracked the egg all over the window. Ooh, fun! So he smeared it all over until he remembered that he was hungry. Back to the fridge for another egg. Nope, that one wasn’t boiled either. Or the next. Or the next. He was about to start on his second carton of eggs when Bailey ran in and told me what he was up to. Busted! I had him help me clean it up. Ewe. Not fun.

Then, this morning, he decided not to wake us up but to feed himself. He got out the bread, got out the spreadable margarine, and, using a butter knife, made himself some buttered bread. When Daddy got up, he found Blake with a heavily buttered piece of bread in one hand, a butter knife in his other, butter all over his pajamas, butter on the floor, the tub of butter in front of him, and a huge, satisfied grin on his face. Daddy got to clean it up this time.

It’s not all bad though. Blake has also started to put his dishes in the sink when he’s done with them. He’ll throw away his apple cores and other leftovers. And he can put on his snow boots himself (too bad winter is almost over).

My big little boy. Sniff, sniff. He’s all grown up.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Music My Kids Love

My kids and I like to listen to music in our car as we drive places. Nothing unusual. We’ve listened to Disney’s Greatest, Disney’s Princess, and Disney’s Children’s Favorites a number of times. We all know the songs and order by heart. Recently, however, we’ve taken a bit of a different direction.

After Halloween last year, my husband put The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack into our car CD player, where it happily stayed for weeks. The kids were enchanted! It was something very different from what they were used to, a little sinister, a lot of drama and depth, and a few purely instrumental tracks.

After Christmas, we switched to The Lion King Broadway Musical, which we’ve been listening to ever since. I thought that we would have been tired of it a long time ago, but when I tried to change the CD to something else, none of us were happy. It has familiar songs, lots of new ones (some utilizing acoustic guitars), a distinctly African flavor, and more fantastic instrumentals. Oh, and the singers are absolutely wonderful!

I’ve been seriously toying with the idea of putting on Joseph and His Technicolor Dream Coat next. Les Mis is fun too, but the content is a little over their heads right now. Same with Phantom of the Opera, though we have put it on for them before, and they did like it.

At home, my kids have more favorites that they like to dance to. Again, Disney is prominent, but they really like some others as well. One of the more notable is the Nutcracker Sweat. They like to be the fairies, flowers, and mushrooms in Fantasia, or Clara from the Nutcracker.

Another favorite is called Kameo. Believe it or not, it’s a videogame soundtrack, and it’s really good. There are the brave, hero songs, the soft, background world music, a plucky bassoon number, and lots more. My kids have dubbed the bassoon song the “duck” song. It’s their particular favorite, and they always jump around and dance when it’s on.

If we feel like Japanese music, we put in a compellation of songs from Hayao Miyazaki’s movies. These include such titles as Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky, Porco Roso, and Naussica. Miyazaki is Japan’s equivalent of Walt Disney, and his works are absolutely wonderful!

My kids also like to play Christmas music all year round, and their favorite (until they left it out and it got broken) was Manheim Steamroller Christmas Extraordinaire. It uses a lot of synthesizers and almost no vocals to play a number of Christmas favorites.

My oldest, who loves drama, also likes Rachmaninoff; very intense, dramatic, emotional, and complex piano music.

Anyway, those are some of the CDs we like to listen to. I like the idea of introducing a lot of different kinds of music to my kids, and why not make it good music that I enjoy as well?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I Hate School!!!

It’s the dreaded phrase of any homeschooling parent. Nothing is worse then knowing that your kids hate what you are working so hard to provide for them. It’s demoralizing. It’s depressing. It’s like a slap in the face. Can it be avoided? No. Can it be the end of your homeschooling career? Only if you let it!

There is good news. Every kid will eventually say that they hate something when it interferes with their beloved playtime. It’s almost never personal; so don’t take it that way. Do try to find out though if there is a reason why they don’t like it other then that it is work.

Two personal examples:

This morning, my four year old announced that she didn’t want to go to preschool. She didn’t like it. I couldn’t fathom why. She has one of the best teachers I know. Marilyn is wonderful! She’s the doting grandma who does art projects, reads to them, takes them on field trips, and sings songs. What kid wouldn’t like that? On top of that, Bailey has a handful of friends that she likes to play with there too. So I asked her why she didn’t want to go. “Because I was playing”, came her answer. She didn’t want to have to get dressed, put her shoes on, and stop what she was doing. Go figure. I made her go anyway, and she had lots of fun.

A couple weeks ago, my oldest informed me that she hated history. It was the worst subject ever, in her mind. I asked her why. It didn’t come out immediately, but we figured out that it was because I wasn’t using very many visual aids, and she couldn’t get her mind around the subject because of it. Since then, I’ve been using more pictures and books, and she’s enjoying history a lot more.

My point . . . don’t take it personally, and don’t be afraid to ask you kid “Why?”

Saturday, February 7, 2009

If the Shoe Fits

My husband and I have decided to do a triathlon this summer. I am a swimmer. My husband is a biker. Neither of us are runners.

Well, today we went on the adventure of finding running shoes for our poor feet. We knew that we needed to get good shoes. (Everyone who has done serious running says so, and we believe them.) So, we took a trip down to Boulder to a shoe store that we've noticed before. It's at the corner of 28th and Pearl Street and is called Boulder Running Company.

We got there a bit later then we expected to, and found ourselves entering the door right as a guy was running over to turn off the OPEN sign. Oops. We felt a bit sheepish, and when they asked if there was anything we could do, we told them we were interested in running shoes, but that we didn't want to make them stay open late. No need to worry. The guy just smiled at us, said "No problem", and ushered us over to some benches. Another guy came over to help.

I must say, I've never had better service. They asked us what we were planning on using the shoes for, how often we planned to use them, our experience level, and what type of surface we'd be running on. (They git a lot of triathletes, and we had some fun conversation about it.) With shoes off, they had us stand on the floor with our feet shoulder width apart, squat down, and stand up again a couple times. Then we stood on one foot at a time. They were checking how our feel were aligned with our legs and ankles. Turns out we are both have overpronation (our feet roll inward). After that, they measured our feet and were in the back finding some shoes for us.

My first pair was a bit tight. I have wide feet. That was soon remedied, and we were taken over to the treadmills to see how we ran in the shoes. While we ran, they videotaped our feet to check that they were in proper alignment. They would pause the video on each foot and make a mental line from the heal through the ankle, explaining what they were doing all the while. All in all, I tried on about six pairs, ran in four, and found a perfect fit. My husband also found a pair that fit well (the first ones they had him try on, actually). All this took about 20 minutes, without feeling rushed. (I have spent hours before trying to find a good walking shoe at chain sporting good stores, and the fit was never this good).

Wonderful experience! The only problem was that the shoes were rather expensive (about $100 a pair), but when we thought about the service and the injuries the shoes would likely prevent, it seemed quite reasonable.

Friday, February 6, 2009

How Many Calories Does it Take . . .

For all of you calorie counters out there, I found a website that should interest you. For all of you that aren't counters, this might be fun to check out anyway.

Fitness Jumpsite has a calorie calculator that will calculate how many calories you use in a certain amount of time during a vast number of activities. All you have to do is enter your weight and the desired time allotment, and it will give you a huge graph of over 200 activities and the calories you would expend on each.

Want to know how many calories it takes to sleep for an hour? It tells you. Reading, mowing the lawn, driving your car, grocery shopping? Yup. All there. Oh, and they haven't forgotten exercise either. It tells you how many calories you would use running at 5 mph, 6 mph, 7 mph, 8.6 mph, and 10 mph. For biking you get indoor training at 150 W and 200 W. Outdoor biking comes in 12 mph, 14 mph, 16 mph, and >20 mph. In swimming, they break it down not only by speed but by stroke as well. (Did you know that breast stroke is more calorically expensive then back stroke? I didn't.) Walking has six different speeds. They also have things like fencing, volleyball, step aerobics, canoeing, hiking, whitewater rafting, calisthenics, bowling, etc.

Check it out. I bet you'll be surprised by some of the things you find.