Archive for the ‘Kid Stuff’ Category

Mid-Week Music: Getting the Kids Hooked on Classical

Instead of my standard intro + Youtube link, today’s mid-week music features a book review.

We bought Story of the Orchestra two weeks ago and my kids LOVE it. Especially my 5 year old Monkey.

The book includes a CD, and the book functions like a musical guided tour. First, chronologically through the composers – Vivaldi through Bernstein (I don’t agree with the omission of Chopin and Rimsky-Korsakov but am otherwise very happy). All but the most recent composers (perhaps due to publishing rights for Copland/Gershin/Berstein?) feature at least one song, and discuss the music they composed. Then you get to the instruments, and it goes through each instrument in the orchestra, and each instrument gets its own track on the CD.

This book has inspired Monkey to pick his own instrument – the violin. His favorite composer is now Vivaldi – a gifted violinist. We have an old violin that he “practices” at least once a day now.

So if you have a budding musician you want to inspire, I’d recommend picking up this book.

And now I have to find a jazz book – Monkey’s request.

Stitchin’ with the Kids

So, I had been saving this project for a rainy day – and boy howdy, has it been rainy in Tennessee! So after school I decided to let my antsy boys try a hand at some stitchin’:

Stitchin' Away

This is a really easy project to do at home, and pretty inexpensive. You will need: burlap, which has nice holes for easier stitchin’ (ours was purchased at Hobby Lobby, and was available in many colors); plastic yarn needles (keepin’ it safe); and some yarn (I bought the kind that you will find around the plastic canvas, right around the cross stitch – it was around the needles so I felt it would hold up better for this. If you’re a knitter, you could probably use some scrap yarn).

I didn’t draw a pattern on this, though you easily could. My boys both had a great time, though my oldest – he’s 5 – took to it better. He quickly picked up on “catching the tail” and was a lot less apt to lose his thread. He made a house and apple tree without a pattern – pretty good for his first go!

Here are their results. I loved these so much, they’re going in wood hoops to be framed and hung in my kitchen.

Lessons Learned from the Beach

Panama City 2009

So, we’re back from Panama City Beach. Rolled back in Monday night, to be exact. Lessons learned:

1. Visiting family at the halfway point (Montgomery) was a very good idea. Boys loved playing with their (second) cousins!
2. I hit the party section at Hobby Lobby and did not regret it. Pinwheels and kaleidoscopes were VERY inexpensive and kept the boys occupied for a bit. This was good, since Dothan, AL has about 25 red lights, and we hit them all.
3. Panama City was a great place to take kids. I was a little concerned due to its spring break “party” rep, but where we stayed (off Thomas Dr.) was quiet at night. If you want the party action, stay at one of the big hotels on Front Beach Dr., but for us, the little local two-story hotel was just right. There’s lots to do for the kids – putt putt golf, go-carts (BIG HIT with mine), family-friendly dining (Sharky’s gets a thumbs-up, while Hammerhead Fred’s gets a “Meh”). We didn’t hit Gulf World, which looked like fun.
4. Sand Castles never get old. Neither does looking for shells. The funky algae in the water was kinda gross though.
5. Bringing some projects with me to work on “at night while the boys are asleep” was a big wash. My boys, despite playing hard all day, would NOT go to bed! And we were wiped out too, so I didn’t actually do any embroidery during the trip, except for starting a cross-stitch kit in the car on the long ride home.

We had a blast, but it’s great to be home. Now time to prep for the Bear’s birthday this weekend, and school registration is Monday – Monkey starts kindergarten!

Tic Tac Toe

So, with this upcoming trip I am trying to think of everything I can take to keep my kiddos occupied in the car. And I decided to use a classic:

Tic Tac Toe

Monkey got so mad at me because he says it looks like he’s losing.

We have a lot of craft foam from the lacing project, and it dawned on me that I could embroider through those puppies – so I did. The boys had a total say in the floss colors. I pushed for the black background since we had a lot of that to use and it shows the lines and embroidery quite nicely. The space at the bottom was going to be cut off, but I am not entirely decided and might embroider a little something there, so for now at least the black space stays.

And why J’s and T’s? Well, Monkey can only have blue (so he says) and Bear only red (so he says), and Monkey was asking me which letter was “cooler” between X and O – so I decided on their initials, which will reduce X/O battles.

Makin’ your own Lacin’ Cards

So, the boys have been watching me stitch from time to time. The other day, Monkey takes the shoe strings out of his shoe (while we were in the car) and starts “stitching” them together with his “needle” (the lace).

When we got home, he wanted to get his other shoes and his brother’s shoes and do the same to them. This was not going to work, so I knew I had to figure out how to make some lacing cards. I found the tutorial here. In short, you just need some craft foam, scissors, a pen or pencil, a hole punch, markers if you want to decorate (I only had blue), shapes to trace (Microsoft clip art or kids’ coloring books work well for this, though I did some on my own), shoelaces, and some time. Here are some of our results:

Homemade Lacing Cards

I would like to note: craft foam will tear. This has not been a problem for Monkey, who is 5 and took his time and care lacing the cards. However, for the almost-3-year-old Bear, who was skipping holes and forcing the string, some of the holes tore. I partially solved this by teaching Bear to “find the neighbor” to try to keep him from skipping; I also, on his subsequent cards, spaced the holes further apart.

We’ve made more since this picture was taken. Add to our tally some T-rexes, sail boats, a gecko, turtles, and hot air balloons. We have a large car trip coming up (VACATION!), so I am hoping this will keep the boys occupied.

Commitment to Parody

Found this little gem at the end of the Veggie Tales’ Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything. Enjoy.

Paper Flowers

Happy Halloween, ya’ll! I hope everyone is having a good one. We hit a local trick-or-treat today and the boys already have a lot of candy loot.

For Spanish class this week I had big plans; unfortunately, Monkey had a 104F fever that thwarted – or postponed – my plans. In Mexico, instead of celebrating Halloween (though our culture has spread so that some in Mexico do celebrate Halloween) – a different holiday is celebrated (November 1st and 2nd) – The Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos. The timing could not be better for our class as we are discussing “Familia” – family. Raise your hand if that seems weird. Let me tell you why it’s not.

Although many of the symbols of Dia de los Muertos – graves, spirits, calaveras (skulls) – appear in our traditional Halloween celebrations, the Day of the Dead is not about ghosts and goblins or trick-or-treating at all. Instead, it’s about honoring your relatives that have passed on. Altars are created with the dead relatives favorite things and food, pan de muerto (bread of the dead) and flowers – real and paper. So the plan for the class, following a brief discussion of the holiday? To make paper flowers:

Paper Flowers

They were really easy to do, and fun for my boys. I still plan to do this next week for the classes. I cut out 160 pieces of 8″x8″ tissue paper, ya’ll. The instructions are:

1. Layer four or five pieces of 8″x8″ tissue paper.
2. Accordian-fold the tissue paper (for the preschool class, I pre-folded 15 of them as this was hard for Monkey to do, and I did not want to turn class into a discussion on the techniques of accordian-folding).
3. In the middle of the folded paper, cut a small V on both sides.
4. Twist pipe cleaner around the Vs, and leaving the “stem” down, pull out the tissue paper until it appears like a flower.

More information on Dia de los Muertos can be found all over the ‘net. Start here.

It all started out so simple…

Last month signups for fall soccer began in our small town. We asked Monkey if he wanted to play – a big “YES” was the reply – so we got him signed up. BHE did the signup and at the time, signed up to assist. He did this as much to be involved as to ease himself into learning about the game, because maybe, if Monkey got super-involved in it, MAYBE he would coach one year.

But mainly, BHE signed up to be sure the coach wasn’t a big psycho. Heh.

So, I get a call from BHE while in the Walmart picking up Spiderman PJs for the Monkey (on clearance for $7, ya’ll).

BHE: “I got a call from [local soccer bureau]?”

Me: “OK.”

BHE: “They said they don’t have enough coaches for next year, and they need me to coach.”

Me: “Did you tell them that you know nothing about soccer?”

BHE: “Yeah.”

Me: “Well, what did they say?”

BHE: “They paused. Then they said they just really needed coaches.”

Me: “So you’re coaching.”

BHE: “Yes.”

Now, ya’ll should know that, despite his total inexperience in the area (BHE has never even played soccer, much less coached it before), I am sure BHE will rock as a coach because he can do anything he sets his mind to. However, just in case, we ordered this book today, and about died when we read the inside flap description: “You thought you were just going to sign up your child for the youth league. Now here you are, a newly annointed coach. You didn’t ask for it, but it happened anyway. Now you need help.”

Boy, does he need help. Ya’ll, he’s teaching 4 year olds soccer, and at this point knows about as much as they do about the game. Plus, he’s going to be Monkey’s coach – and after my last round teaching his class for Sunday School, we kinda swore that this was the last time until he was a bit older.

They’ll have fun. But is it mean that I giggle my way through the rest of my Wally World run?

I had a date tonight…

with the Monkey. We went to see Wall*E. I don’t know if you’ve read any of the reviews, but ya’ll it’s really good. Really really good. It’s funny for the kids (and adults) but really has a heart to it. Pixar outdid themselves this time. I can always count on Pixar to deliver an awesome movie and they did. Don’t feel like you have to be a parent to see it – it’s really a good film. Don’t believe me? Here’s a review.

Accentuate the Positive

I say the above not so much as advice to you, my dear reader (how many of you are there, anyway? Two?), but as advice to myself.

Today was one of those days with the boys. You say up, they say down. You say “Please don’t dump out all the crayons”, they look you straight in the eye and…dump out all the crayons. Especially Monkey, ‘cuz he’s four and has ‘tude.

Stuff that separately isn’t so much a big deal, but wears you down as it goes on through the day.

I was thinking, as I was stewing about the day, about how I rarely remember the “bad days” but can easily recall good moments. The good moments not only outweigh the bad ones in value, but also in quantity. I have good kids. They say “Thank you” generally without prompting – even almost-2 year old Bear! They give out hugs and kisses like you wouldn’t believe, and it’s so heartwarming to watch them bond as brothers, and watch as they laugh and giggle and jump and play (and roughhouse)  their way through boyhood.

I’m very blessed, and should remember it more often. Right now they’re sleeping like angels, in the room they’ll share more often as time passes, and tomorrow will be a new day.