The Princess In Black

The kids’ school had a literacy spirit week this week, and on the last day they were supposed to dress up as their favorite book character.  As expected, Jax dressed up as Harry Potter, just like he did last Halloween, but Em totally surprised me! I thought for sure she’d love a chance to dress up as Fancy Nancy, but instead, she chose another favorite female character–and one I love!–The Princess in Black!

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The Princess In Black is girly, frilly, and covered in pink from head-to-toe when she is Princess Magnolia, but when the monster alarm rings, she becomes The Princess In Black!  Em owns all three of the books in the series, and let me just say that when she chose to be a badass princess who doesn’t need protecting rather than some lame Disney princess, I couldn’t have been happier!

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Plus, the costume is way cooler.

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So proud of you, Em, for doing something different and for wanting to be like somebody that doesn’t need rescuing.  The world is yours, little girl!  Nobody’s going to stop in your way!

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Love my brave and strong (and silly!) Princess In Black!

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An ABC Egg Hunt

I would say one of the hardest things about being a parent to more than one kid is the need to remember that your third kid needs just as much of your time, energy, attention, and patience as your first one (or second, or third…).  Because there are so many people around to entertain her–her days spent with me, afternoons with brother and sister or friends, bedtime with Em–she isn’t the best at playing independently, but she’ll get there.  Her constant need for attention sometimes has the undesired effect of me just throwing up my hands and saying, “Can’t you just go play!?” instead of encouraging me to dream up some fun activity for the two of us.  I have been working on renewing my teaching credential–a process which has kept the blog low on my totem pole of priorities–so I have been even busier than usual, fielding emails and requesting transcripts during time that I used to spend perusing Pinterest for fun literacy activities like I did for Jax or Em (cue the Mommy guilt).  I could have just as easily spent this morning encouraging Little H to keep herself occupied, but with the recognition that both she and my blog were being grossly neglected, I pulled out an old favorite to meet the ever-increasing needs of my very bright three-year-old.

Alphabet Egg Hunt Matching Game @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I have come up with many upcycling uses for last week’s plastic Easter eggs that help my kids with various needs–spelling, counting, rhyming.  Little H already knows her letters, upper case and lower case, but I thought this would be a good exercise in letter sounds.  First I wrote all the upper case and lower case letters on egg halves, like so, and spread them all over our front deck.  Hooray for a warm spring day!

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Then she and I hung out, matching letters, matching colors, talking and smiling.  Since she does already know her letters, we focused on the sounds they make.  She would find a letter, I’d point out what color it is so she could find the match, then we should brought it to me she’d tell me what sound the letter makes.

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For a three-year-old, she’s one smart cookie, my Hannah Hummingbird.

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Last kids deserve all the love and enrichment and attention as the first ones.  I’m lucky enough to be home with her, and I need to make every day matter, in big ways or small.

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 It’s good for both of us.

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Book Worms

With summer here and vacation half over, our schedules are way more lax than I have allowed in summers past.  I now realize Little H can skip her nap and all hell will not break loose, and am confident that if the big kids watch an extra half hour of TV while I get some work done, it will all come out in the wash when we have one of those bustling days when they don’t watch TV at all.  Also, as I am looking over my photos from the past month, I realize that I see a pattern emerging.  My house in infested with Book Worms, even the less common paternal version, Daddy Book Worm.  It’s clear that although I am being less stringent about our exact allocation of reading every day, I needn’t worry.  Everyone in this house loves a good book.

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 Note: not pictured, Mommy Book Worm, Patient Zero with the book-loving bug.  No need to worry; she is enjoying many good reads this summer as well!  She just loves photographing her little family and their love of books!

I love a carefree summer where, although there are MANY things I must nag my family about, reading is not one of them!

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Rich

As a mom of three young kids, most of the time, quiet can be a bad thing.  My mommy senses go into overdrive and I wonder, What are they up to that they don’t want to bring to my attention?  I sneak around the corner, peek into their room, prepared to see every Lego and their carefully organized bins strewn across the floor (which is often the case), but on lucky days, I am greeted with quiet sweetness in the form of my kids reading quietly, totally absorbed in their own little world.

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Every literacy book I have read praises the importance of having a print-rich environment at home, and that definitely describes us!  For a family of five in a pretty small house, we certainly have books stacked up in every nook and cranny.  It guess it’s easier to get motivated to read when you can’t take two steps without stumbling across Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, or Mo Willems!

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Reading in bed is a big part of our day, too.  Even JDubbs and I like to unwind this way.

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It sure makes my heart happy to see my kids loving to read as much as I do!  I guess that old saying is true–“Children are made readers in the laps of their parents.”  Probably the greatest gift we ever gave them, and one I plan to share with them for the rest of our lives.

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Light Reading

Because it’s never too early for the classics.

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Hey, there’s a reason Em’s middle name is Jane and I lobbied hard for Little H to be Eliza!  Such is life when your mom is an English teacher on hiatus!  There’s no doubt she’s my girl!

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Coin Sorting Fun

One of my fondest memories as a child on Easter was the chaotic egg hunts we used to have in my Nana’s backyard.  There were usually at least ten cousins on hand, and it was a cross between good-natured fun and survival of the fittest.  Picture the Cornucopia scene in the Hunger Games with Easter bonnets and you get the idea.  Why was it such a competition?  Because those eggs were not full of chocolate–they were full of money: spare change, really, but there was one egg with at least a five dollar bill, if not more.  So while we understood Easter was about Jesus rising from the dead, we also knew that we better scuff up those brand new white mary janes so that we wouldn’t have a disadvantage against our cousins on Easter morning for a chance to have the most cash for penny candy.

As dysfunctional as all that sounds, it was FUN and thus I pass along this quirky tradition to my kids every year.  There is nothing that they love more than sorting coins and putting them in their piggy bank.  My dad and Jax have a game they like to play where they check out the dates of coins and sort them by year, giving certain ones “birthday parties.”  Jax eats it up and it’s one of his favorite parts about visiting Grammy and Grampy’s.  Sometimes he brings the change home with him, and on those occasions, we have to pull out everyone’s piggy banks to add to them, but really they just want to pull all their change out and sort them by size and color.  Is that weird?

Coin Sorting Math Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It

So all you need to do is, using a big piece of paper, draw big circles where kids can put their dimes, quarters, pennies, and nickels separately.  I wrote the symbol and word above each circle so that could get used to recognizing both.  I started them off by putting one of each different coins in the circles so they could compare the colors and sizes as they went along, but really, they were content to do this on their own quietly and for a really long time, figuring out what belonged where and helping each other out.

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Little H woke up and joined the fun, and before my mom has a heart attack about the baby swallowing pennies, I promise she was only allowed to stay as long as she had her binkie in her mouth!

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She loves the sound of the change clanging inside the piggy bank as much as the others!

The kids noticed some cool things while doing this–like how some quarters have eagles and some have states.  They found a bunch of random “special” coins (money from other countries, pennies that have been flattened in those tourist machines) and they decided those needed a circle of their own.

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And finally we talked about what would be the fastest way to count all the money.  I gave a quick explanation of multiplication, and although they definitely didn’t get it, they were at least impressed with how quickly I could figure out the totals!

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Rainbow Scavenger Hunt

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Little H happened to have a lot of rainbow-colored blocks and toys handy so it wasn’t exactly challenging, but they liked it all the same.

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Colors, shapes, counting (which pile has most? which pile has least? why do we have so many purple and red things?) and reading all rolled into one activity.

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