Saturday, February 16, 2013

Get fit and get to the fair!

With the Kids

The Florida State Fair started last Saturday.  We took the girls for the first time last Sunday.  You would have thought I had told Jordan Santa Claus was coming for a personal visit.  “I just can’t believe I am finally going to get to ride a Ferris Wheel!” she squealed with excitement.

Luckily it was the first armband day because the girls wanted to ride all the kid rides which were between $3- $4 each.  Each ticket is a dollar.  It was a relief not to have to negotiate rides according to a budget. 

Saturday - February 16 - Open at 9 AM

Midway opens at 10 AM

4-H & FFA Day – FREE Admission for 4-H and FFA Members with identification or jacket.

Adult Admission - Ages 12 and over $12

Children Ages 6-11 $6

Children Ages 5 and under are FREE


Since there are only a couple days left…I suggest heading out there for some family fun!

Get Fit as a FamilyThere are many ways for you and your family to get out in the community and do something to be fit together.  And it can be fun.  Use your chidren’s natural interests to choose activities.  Our girls love the feeling of flying.  A bike ride is the perfect choice to get them that feeling and help them get some exercise.  We throw their little bikes in the back of the car, hit a local park, and let them ride while we walk along side.  I look forward to the day when we can all ride together. 


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What's That? Wedensdays

Gifted Girl

My six year old qualified for gifted services this year.  It's very weird to be a teacher of gifted students and have the added perspective now of having a gifted child.  What's weirder is that, for now, I am her teacher because she attends my school.  Once a week, on Wednesdays, she comes to my classroom with my first grade student (that's right I only have 2 on Wednesdays!).  The three of us have decided to study dinosaurs. They both have a natural curiosity and fascination with the giant lizards who lived millions of years ago.  Can you blame them?  I'm learning it's a great science fueled topic!

Gifted children ask questions.  All children ask questions but gifted children ask pointed questions in vast quantities.  They want to know how everything in the world works.  My husband and I have always encouraged this questioning spirit because we want our kids to love learning; and what is learning if not the constant seeking out of new information. 

Jordan and her classmate  wanted to become experts on the Stegosaurus.  We started out by figuring out what they already knew.  Next, I have the kids ask as many questions as they can about the Stegosaurus so that while we read books, watch videos, and look at pictures...we can answer our questions.  Some questions they came up with:
  • How did the Stegosaurus grow its plates and spikes?
  • What were the plates used for?
  • How did the Stegosaurus stay cool?
  • How big did the Stegosaurus grow?  How big was a girl? boy? babies? eggs?
  • What predators did the Stegosaurus have?
  • How did they defend themselves?
  • Why did they live in hot places?
  • What did they eat?  how much did they eat?
  • Where did they sleep?
  • Did they live in herds or alone?
  • Did they migrate?
These are straight from their mouths...a kindergartner and a first grader.  I was impressed.

As a parent, I'm excited that my daughter gets a chance to learn about a topic she is interested in.  A child's natural curiousity is a great place to start when you want to enrich your child's learning experiences.  They don't need to be in a special program to get this either.  If you notice your child has a special interest; race cars, horses, the Titanic, WWII, dinosaurs.  Start googling the topic with "for kids" afterwards.  Find kid-friendly documentaries on Netflix, go to a museum or exhibit, attend a race.

  • Keeps a kids mind active versus passive
  • Exposes kids to new ideas
  • Allows to kids to see multiple possibilities
  • Adds excitment to weekends and summers

Here are some tips on developing your child's curiosity:
  • Keep an open mind
  • Relentlessly as questions
  • Never label things boring
  • Develop the mantra that learning is fun
  • Find a new topic that you know nothing about

Wild Wonderment

My friends and family who know Emily, my 4 year old, know that she is a wonder to us all.  It's kind of hard to peg her behaviors down.  She loves My Little Pony...obsessively.  She loves to play with water.  She will disappear into her playroom and create these epic tales about her ponies; either re-enacting episodes of MLP or creating new ones where the story lines criss cross. 
She has a million different faces for a multitude of emotions.  She expresses complex emotions with a squish of her cheek, an upturn of a corner of her mouth, an arch of an eyebrow.  It's amazing to watch. 

She is still potty training. 

She asks questions too but not with the voracious appetite for answers as Jordan.  She asks more to create a conversation with you.  She enjoys one on one time much more than group activities.  After a short while in a group, loud noises begin to aggravate her.  I haven't figured out if she has auditory sensitivities or just a control freak.  LOL!

So...she is my What's That? Wednesday.  Emily is my puzzle because she keeps her thoughts to herself.  Jordan just tells you exactly what she is thinking all the time.  Emily rarely answers a question directly asked to her and avoids confrontations at all costs.  It will be interesting to see how this manifests as she gets older.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

It's really been too long since I've posted.  Life has been busy.  My first year as a gifted/math teacher is wrapping up.  It was a crazy adventure and I am still learning a lot about these strange and wonderful kids.

Jordan will start kindergarten in the fall.  I'm sad and very excited for her.   Emily will go to preschool three days a week or half days.  She is very excited. 

But here is what is weighing heavily on my mind this beautiful May Saturday.  I start cleaning up the kids playroom this morning.  I'm getting lightheaded as I bend over to pick up what seems like thousands of lego and velvet playset peices...when I realize...we have too much stuff.  When did they get so much stuff?!  I look around and realize I didn't buy most of it.  Most of it has come from birthdays and Christmases.  Now I'm thinking this is a double edged sword.  On one side, I'm grateful that my girls have people in their lives who love them and are generous with them.  On the other, I seem to be the only one cleaning these things up. 

I also realize...I'm a horrible example for how an organized person should be.  I pile things.  I know what is in all my piles but these are hap-hazard and all over the house.  I look at pictures of IKEA catalogues where everything is labels and neat...I grow frustrated and envious that there are people out there who are so naturally good at organization. 

I have attempted in the past to get organzied and to downsize.  How many Nora Roberts novels does a girl really need to have on hand?  Why am I holding on to a pair of jeans that fit before I had kids (those will never fit me again)? 

I lack the motivation to get started and cringe at the thought of trying to get my head-strong, heels-dug-in five and three year old daughters to lend a helping hand.  If they don't comply and I really do have to pitch their princess dresses....will I really be able to do that?  Am I so materialistic that I wouldn't see it through?  I hope that I have the resolve.

Parenting is so much more complex than anyone could ever warn you.  Especially when you have a five year old who really should become some kind of FBI negotiator. I find myself staring at her and asking myself if I'm smart enough to outwit her.  Then I shake it off and remind myself I am the Mommy and if I am strong...mean what I say, say what I mean...she will be a strong, independent, disciplined woman.  I want that more than I want to be lazy.  I just need to be reminded periodically.

Mommia we go again...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Freedom Fridays

Gonna fill this one with funny quotes from my kids and other kids:

Emily and her Nini were singing the 'Monkeys jumpin' on the bed' song.  They were trading lines back and forth. 
Nini: One little monkey jumpin' on the bed
Emily: She fell off and bumped her head
Nini: Momma called the doctor and the doctor said
Emily: Emmy's gettin' stitches in her head!

Emily clearly remembers her stitches ordeal and is now incorporating the experience into her play songs.  This kid is too funny!

I got these from that Bill Cosby show 'Kids Say the Darndest Things':

Advice about love:
"Spend most of your time loving instead of going to work." -- Dick, age 7

"Be a good kisser. It might make your wife forget that you never take out the trash." -- Erin, age 8
A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to "honor" thy Father and thy Mother, she asked, "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?" Without missing a beat, one little boy answered, "Thou shall not kill."

A little boy was in a relative's wedding. As he was coming down the aisle he would take two steps, stop, and turn to the crowd (alternating between bride's side and groom's side), put his hands up like claws, and roar. Step, step, ROAR, step step, ROAR, all the
way down the aisle. The crowd was near tears from laughing so hard by the time he reached the pulpit. The little boy, however, was getting more and more distressed from all the laughing and was almost crying by the time he reached the pulpit. When asked what he was doing, the child sniffed and said, "I was being the Ring Bear."


When I ran a search for videos, I was amazing by how many videos parents make of their kids swearing!  Let's keep it clean people! 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Two-Step Thursday

I never thought I'd be into dance.  I never had dance lessons as a child.  There wasn't time or money for that in a single-parent home.  I'm a bit of a klutz anyway so... it never really occurred to me to enroll my daughter into dance classes.

My wonderful mother-in-law danced her whole life and enrolled Jordan when she was three.  I wasn't sure at first that I wanted her to do it but she seemed to love it.  She saw all the trophies in the waiting area and wanted one for herself so badly that it kept her motivated throughout the year.  She also loves wearing the tights, leotards, and shoes.  She enjoys being with her fellow dancers.

Two dance seasons later and I believe dance is one of the great things we have ever tried.  Not only does Jordan get some great exercise but she also socializes with girls her own age and gets to express herself in a positive way.  She isn't the most graceful dancer in her class but she loves it and is having fun so we'll let her keep it up as long as she loves it.

Although its hard to imagine how this: 

Can become this:
I wont lie.  I don't know that I believe Jordan will become a "proper ballerina" (her words) as she seems to want to these days.  But I will be happy if she is able to do something she enjoys. 

I LOVE seeing her dance at the recitals and getting her all dressed up.  It's worth all the stress across those few days to see how excited she is afterwards.  How proud of herself she is.  Dance provides a place for self-expression, building self-confidence, and opportunity to become fit. 

I'm still learning what it means to be a "dance mom" but I'm enjoying it.  I'm actually really looking forward to next season when we enroll Emily in her first dance class.

To close this one out I will add this song:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teacher Tip Tuesday

I just realized I didn't create a Tuesday theme.  So here is is...Teacher Tip Tuesday.  My reflective prompt while preparing this was: What tip could a teacher give a parent to help them out?

Millions of things come to mind.  Read with your child every night.  Talk about money and making change while at the store.  Make observations while at the park.  These are all pretty run in the mill stuff you can catch in any good teacher's monthly newletter.  So what teacher tip could I offer that would be different?

I'm just wrapping up my first month as a gifted education teacher.  After attending many meetings and learning a lot about forms and deadlines.  And how important it is that parents come to their child's IEP or EP meetings...let alone teacher conferences...My tip is this:

ADVOCATE FOR YOUR CHILDREN!  You are your child's best chance at having a successful school experience.  It is so true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.  I would love to tell you that every school is an amazing learning environment filled to the brim with highly effective teachers who have all the time in the world to give each child all the attention they deserve but that's just not the case. 

The reality is that schools do the best they can.  We are continually seeing budget cuts.  Teachers are underpaid and don't always receive the supports needed to service each child's needed...especially when the need is unidentified.  It's a sad cruel reality.  Compassion and empathy are needed.  As a parent and a teacher, I find myself hunting for those two skills often.

I found an article about how to advocate for your child from the National Center for Learning Disabilities.  However, I think these suggestions are good for any and all students.

1. Know the rules.
2. Get to know the people who make decisions about your child's education.
3. Keep records.
4. Gather information.
5. Communicate effectively.
6. Know your child's strengths and interests and share them with educators.
7. Emphasize solutions.
8. Focus on the big picture.
9. Involve your child in decision making as early as you can.

I know that it can be hard not to turn in to big bad mama bear when you feel your child isn't getting what they need.  Arming yourself with research, information, and solution suggestions is the perfect way to help make sure your child gets what they need.  Ask questions.  Tons of them.  If you don't get new experts.  But know that your child's teacher is probably doing the very best they can in a very complicated system full of red tape, deadlines, and paperwork.

This post is dedicated to all my friends and family members who have children with special needs.  Keeping fighting for your babies.  You will reap all the rewards!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sabbatical Saturday

Today is Sabbatical Saturyday, I’ve spent some time researching some events and activities that are happening this weekend in our area. Our family is like so many other families in this economy. All our income is eaten up by mortgage payments, insurance, utility bills, and anything left over seems to get goggled by unexpected car and air conditioning repairs. Finding free or extremely cheap activities to do is really important to me.

Clearwater Marine Acquarium

Winter (from Clearwater Marine Acquarium's website)
We have a local dolphin celebrity here in Clearwater. Winter the dolphin is known for her prosthetic tail. Hollywood recently made a movie about her and yesterday was opening day for the movie! So this family outing is twofold. Head out to your local theater to catch Winter’s movie, Dolphin Tale. Then head over to the Clearwater Aquarium to see the star herself. It’s about $10 per kid and $15 per adult. Not exactly cheap. BUT if you are an educator you get in for free. Although the price is somewhat high for a relatively small aquarium. Most of the employees are volunteers, they are a rescue center, and they have to feed all those animals. So you know your admission is going towards the animals.

Artsalive/Free Museum Day

All of St. Pete’s amazing museums are open to the public for FREE today (9/24/11) from 10am to 3pm. If you have been wanting to check out one these museums and have been putting it off. Today is the day people! It also includes the Downtown Walk Tour (10am and noon).

Glazer Children's Museum
This is one of Jordan and Emily's favorite places.  We've only been once or twice but we love it.  Each area is designed to stimulate problem solving, creative thinking, and role play.  Regular admission is about $10 for kids and $15 for adults.  But they have special events and coupons out there.  The first Tuesday of every month is $2 Tuesdays.  But this weekend they are celebrating their birthday!  There will be a huge event 9/25/11 at noon at the museum. With prizes, radio Disney, a marching band...and all for free! Admission to the Museum is just $5 until September 30th!

Now all we need to do is decide who we will spend out weekend together!