Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Light Box for Children



I added a new light table work to Henry's art shelf. I bought this relatively inexpensive light box and then printed clipart that I thought would be easy to trace. I figured it would be a good way to improve his handwriting! 



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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How to Teach a Child to Swim Properly


Henry and Tate are such little water babies. We swim in our backyard nearly every single day after school and definitely every weekend (basically from March through October). I want to continue to support Henry's growth as a swimmer (as long as he wants to; there's no reason to push him during his free time). 

I did a little research to figure out how to best teach young children the freestyle stroke. I wasn't able to find one amazing, comprehensive resource, but was able to piece together a few things, and this will be my approach:

  1. Use a child-size kick board to teach him how to properly kick: long, extended legs and loose with fast kicks (being carefully not to bend his legs too much). Chin should be kept in the water. Here's a more thorough description. I can say things like "fast kicks" and "small and fast" to cue him about proper form. 
  2. Then I'll teach him the "arrow" pose for swimming across the width of the pool without taking a breath: hands extended above the head with arms over the ears.
  3. Then I'll teach "catch-up" arms. 
  4. Then add in the breathing! 
During my research, I came across the most amazing website that has free step-by-step lessons with videos and lesson plans. I highly recommend it! http://uswim.com



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Monday, May 22, 2017

My New Favorite Sunscreen


Considering that my children are pretty much naked nearly all of the time while at home, we invest in a lot of sunscreen. 

I use the Environmental Working Group database to analyze how toxic sunscreens are because it has never made sense to me to try to protect your skin from cancer by slathering on known-carcinogens. 

And yet the more natural the sunscreen, the more impractical it tends to be. The healthiest kinds (those with a rating of 1) are so thick, so pasty, and so frustrating. Then you don't want to put on the sunscreen at all. And then you are back to the original cancer. 

So I've finally landed on a compromise. I use Sun Bum, which has an okay rating at 5. It's so light and easy to put on. It rubs in fairly well for less toxic kinds of sunscreen. Heads-up: It does smell of coconut, which may not appeal to some people. I tend to get put off by strong smells, but this one is really light to me. 

We feel ready for the summer! 



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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My Summer Hobbies


As I mentioned in my summer planning post, I want to do less running around this summer. I want the boys to have open, unstructured time to run around, invent things, build things, and just calm their little souls through play. 

But being the Type-A person that I am, I need something to do while they are playing around the house in a relaxed way. Here's what's on my docket:

  1. I am going to cross-stitch three microbes: Mono, ebola, and salmonella
  2. I'm going to crochet a pair of slippers for myself (like these, but using gray yarn for the base and sea foam green for the edging)
  3. I'm going to work through logic problems just for fun
  4. I'm going to finish making scarves and hats for the boys (I started this project years ago and only finished a scarf for Henry)
  5. I might try my hand at making little succulent planters from the directions in this book
I want the boys to be able to engage in craft projects if they are also interested:
  • I can set up felt, embroidery thread, buttons, and needles for Henry and Tate to use while I'm doing cross-stitch. 
  • I can get them each one of these knitting forks while I'm knitting or crocheting. 
  • I might buy some of this clay for the boys to play around with!



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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Summer Is Around the Corner


Have you all watched Capitan Fantastic? It's my new favorite movie and my parenting inspiration. Unfortunately, Matt thought the dad was too strict (I thought he was awesome). Not sure what to make of that.

Anyway, I'm preparing to have a lot more time with my boys this summer, and I want to make sure I'm intentional with it. I'm self-conscious when I talk about being an "intentional" parent because I see that our generation of mothers is driving ourselves crazy with unrealistic and unhealthy expectations about how to "do mothering," and the worst part is that things like scheduled activities, doting, formulaic crafts from Pinterest, constant supervision, and anxiety over inane details related to clothes or party planning actual undermine the things I want to develop in my children: resilience, self-direction, independence, creativity, joy, a growth mindset, self-confidence, and contentment.

But because of the pressures we face culturally around doing motherhood right, it does seem like we have to be even more intentional about where we put our energy and how we spend our time (even if it means we end up deciding to put less energy and less time into it).

The ironic part is that I have to make a plan for open, unstructured time or else I feel unsettled. I'll have to write another post detailing what I'll do with my open, unstructured time while the boys are playing. 

In terms of what the boys and I are going to do, I took this list and calendared it out. I'm feeling ready and excited! 



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Monday, May 15, 2017

Operation: Visit All the Parks in Austin


On a recent weekend, Matt was out of town, so the boys and I came up with a fun idea: make a goal to visit all the parks in Austin (over time, not all in one weekend).

Here's how it has worked so far:

  • We were picking up food from a drive-through salad restaurant. We did a google search for the closest park and ended up eating our lunch at Wooten Park. Henry met an older girl to play with and reports that this was his favorite park yet. 
  • We ate Easter brunch at a restaurant and then did a google search for the closest park. It looked so tiny on the map that I wasn't sure it was going to have a playscape. It turns out it has the most amazing playscape with web-like things to climb! 
  • We drove to our favorite vegan bakery to pick up a treat for the boys because they had gone to a birthday party the day before and weren't able to eat the cupcakes. We searched for the closest park and tried it out. 
Once we return home, we pull out the map, fine the park we visited, and put a circle around it. It's fun to have a real map in our lives (we've found our house and our school), and I love the adventure of trying out places we've never been. 



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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Gardening in the Front Yard


I apologize in advance for writing this post every year. Sometimes two times a year. It's just so fun to have a front-yard garden!

We planted our Spring/Summer garden over Spring Break. Here's what we have growing:

  • Cucumbers
  • Mint
  • Watermelon
  • Artichoke
  • Bell peppers
  • Beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Cantaloupe
  • Pomegranates
  • Figs
A front-yard garden is a lazy gardener's dream. I am forced to walk past it at least two times a day. It's very easy to weed when you are walking by and spot something. 

Walking by the garden at least twice a day ensures that we notice things as they progress. It's so fun to stop briefly to notice the tendrils of the bean plant reaching to climb up the cage or the tiniest bell pepper that's starting to form or the bean that's ready to be plucked. 

Having it in the front yard keeps it away from our dog (and chickens, when we have them). We don't seem to have a problem with other animals attacking it in the front. 

The trick to making the garden manageable is the automatic irrigation. It makes it possible to have a full-time job, a full family, and a garden. 

I love that our children get to experience the cycle of life through the garden. So fun! 



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