RSS

Category Archives: Kids

Tip of the Momma 2 U: Tired of Flash Cards?

I don’t know how some people do it, how they study for a test with flash cards. Kudos to those who can.

I am not one of those people. And I realize that my child is semi-responsive to that method of learning.

In my son’s third grade class they are starting to learn multiplication facts. Starting soon, those who miss two or less on their test each week will receive a pop. A little drink I still like to refer to as Soda.

My son will just DIE if he doesn’t get a Soda each week. At least that’s how he acts about it. But I’m happy to see that he’s motivated. He doesn’t get to drink soda at home and very rarely at restaurants, so I have no gripes about it, as long as he doesn’t have the opportunity to down it just before I pick him up from school.

So, back to the flash cards. Years ago, before my child was even a twinkle in my eye, I knew that a game of Jenga existed in which the blocks were modified with dares and tasks written on each block for a drinking game. Tsk, tsk, and shame on people for taking such an innocent game and turning it into a beverage consumption game. Heh.

Anyhow, taking that concept (which my children will never hear of… from me) I came up with a fun way to go over the multiplication facts and not lose my mind with the redundancy of flipping cards while my kid answers back dryly and then we shuffle and do it for four more minutes. By the way, bless his teacher’s heart for at least providing the flash cards for us. If I had to make them, I might cry.

Alright, enough whining from me. The bottom line is that, there are adults and children who do not learn well from flash cards.

So here’s my Tip of the Momma 2 U: Any brand of this tower game can be purchased and used as a teaching tool. Our particular tower was for Multiplication facts. Here’s how it works:

Take one tower containing 48 blocks. Write a multiplication question on each of the two widest sides of each block with a sharpie pen. I was able to write all facts of 1’s through 9’s multiplying by 1 – 10. With the remaining blank spots I wrote things such as “Count by 3’s to 30” or “0 X any number” (in which the child would reply “equals zero”).

Have a print up of the Multiplication Facts Table nearby in case there’s a discrepancy about the answer and also so your child can easily test him/herself.

You can play this game like a typical game of Jenga where you try not to topple the tower. My son decided to construct another tower with his correctly answered blocks.

Another idea: Place them in a bag or basket and randomly pick them out to answer.

If you have littler ones who are learning to read or spell, try one of these:

Write common sight word on the blocks

Write tasks such as “Say a word that starts with C” and put the whole alphabet in the game

That’s not all, right? Give me some more ideas!

Love,

Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Advertisements
 

A Classic Movie Night: I Still Have Stars In My Eyes

My son’s birthday is in December. This last year he turned 9. If there’s one thing I’ve felt since becoming a parent and and having left the 365 days of sun in California for more seasonal states, it’s that I might never host an outside birthday party for this child.

That’s alright, our other kid has his birthday in the other extreme: August. We usually let our December boy help out with the plans so he can get the best of both worlds.

Having his birthday parties in the past have been hit and miss. There were times where many had to cancel at the last minute due to contagious illness or weather conditions. So I’ve adapted and learned to watch the weather, invite many, and have a back up plan.

This post is not about the hardships of a winter birthday. It’s about STARS (insert mystically music).

This last December, I decided to host a “Classic Movie Night” themed birthday party. My son loved it! I didn’t have to think of any games (which I’m really bad at planning) and we got a chance to invite our grown-up neighbors and get to know them while the kids watched the movie.


This movie night had EVERYTHING. There was crying, shrieking, laughter, spilling, munching and lots of socializing.

We made nifty invitations in the fashion of a movie event gala. I sort of wanted it to have an Oscar Party feel about it. Being that it was a Classic Movie Night for 3 to 12 year olds, we offered these three choices for a feature presentation:

  • A Christmas Story
  • Home Alone
  • Jurassic Park

I don’t know how it happened but, in the midst of a Christmas season, “Jurassic Park” won.

Then it was time to get the party gear…

We chose the colors of Black, Gold, and Red for balloons, plates and platters.

To give it that “Red Carpet” feel we bought, well, a Red Carpet.

And what is a movie theater without a Concession Stand?

I printed up voucher tickets for the kids to turn in for their share of Popcorn (served in popcornesque boxes) and other treats.


My son’s favorite snack to hand out is a little diddy I found in a Rachel Ray magazine year’s ago. They are sushi pieces consisting of the following ingredients:

Fruit Roll Ups (sugar)

Rice Krispies Square Mix (sugar)

&

Twizzlers (more sugar)

Now you know why I came up with vouchers: Management of Sugar

And of course you gotta have chopsticks for those.

We set up the living room as best we could to contain 10 kids as they watched the movie, chatted it up, and shuffled back and forth for goodies.

So why is this post about STARS???

Well, to enhance the magical, glittery feeling of going to a premiere of a classic movie, I purchased about a million little shiny gold and black STARS! And I sprinkled them all over the red carpet in our wood floored foyer for easy clean up later.

I can still remember what they look like… And that’s because I’m still finding them. EVERYWHERE.

On my socks

On my butt

In the couch


On the dog

On the kids

In the shower

In the Washing Machine

In the Dishwasher

In my Purse??

Upstairs

Downstairs

Under the Rug

In the Basement

Outside

In the Vaccuum (though I’ve emptied it numerous times since then)


So the moral of the story is, Do Not sprinkle cute little shiny stars all over your foyer unless you are prepared to be reminded that you did this for years to come.

It doesn’t bother me one bit, actually. It’s a pleasant reminder of the great time we had. Luckily we don’t have any babies, dogs or cats who like to nibble on the such.

Hey, there’s a party game we can play in August: Find the STARS.


Love,

Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

I GOTTA KNOW:

What are you finding here and there from long ago? Share it in a comment below!

 

A Reptile Obsession: Our Take on Lizards & Snakes at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

THE BLUES OF WINTER

Let’s pretend it never snowed on Groundhog’s Day in Colorado this year, on the very same day that Punxsutawney Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter, and that the weather forecasters of Denver never predicted a Winter Storm on the day that my family and I were supposed to preview the Lizards & Snakes Exhibition at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Yeah, let’s pretend that when we went on Saturday instead, Phil was chillin out in his hollowed out log over at Gobbler’s Knob granting us a redo since the weather kept us away from the preview event.

THE REDO

Getting right to it, we joined the awesome crowd at the Museum on Saturday for the newly anticipated Lizards & Snakes Exhibit and took along a friend of our boys to see what we could see. Packed in the Grocery Getter with clear roads before us, we headed for Denver. Since we invested in the Family Membership last Fall, we have used it four times, totally paying off. The T-Rex Encounter was a more-than-pleasant bonus for our money and now we were heading off to double our bonus on this new exhibit. The best part? My 9 year old LOVES all things reptiles. In case you didn’t know, we have two adorable Leopard Geckos.

We also used to have a Corn Snake and my son recently did a report on the Gila Monster.

FUELING UP

Arriving around noon, we brought our own packed lunches and ate first in the Museum’s Cafe’ dining area. Yeah, we’re pros. At their own table, the 9 year old debriefed his pal on a few facts, scarfed down lunch, got super pumped and jumped up ready to go straight to the third floor. He meant business.

GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS

After a bit of ooohing and ahhhhing upon entering, we immediately made our way over to the adorable Kim who was searching for her pal “Bo”. She quizzed the kids on some of the capabilities and hunting techniques of snakes and finally found “Bo”. Don’t worry, he’s just a virtual pal. No need to freak about snakes on the loose. And don’t think it didn’t cross my mind.

The number of live lizard and snake species was more than expected. I was impressed by their active behavior and the cleanliness of their habitats. My son is very sensitive when it comes to proper treatment of contained animals, so it’s a big deal when I “pay” to see animals in captivity.

As usual, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science offers a lovely crew of volunteers to give our kids hands on demonstrations and displays to enhance their learning experience. My personal favorite experience was finding that the Gila Monster’s skull has the same bumpy texture we intricately imitated for my son’s school report. (I assumed it was the skin that was bumpy.) I got my 4 year old to touch the skull since he was the trooper who went with me to four different stores in one day in search of the specific ingredient that gave our Gila Monster that perfect look (more on that in a future blog post).

The other impressive display/demonstration was that of the large replication of a snake’s skull. My 9 year old impressed us all by having all the right answers for the volunteer. The gentleman used the skull to simulate how a Burmese Python can fit a big ol’ deer into that seemingly smaller mouth. As our 6 year old guest stared straight into the open mouth of the skull, my husband assured him that he would easily fit in there.

One of the highlights for families was the large hexagon tank in which you can observe 4 species of Geckos chilaxin in their resort-like surroundings with two big brother cameras. You do the driving as you control joysticks to focus, zoom and pan out on them.

But what ultimately caught the attention of these three boys was the interactive “Hunt Like a Rattlesnake” simulation. Each boy had a chance to be the rattlesnake, flicking the snake’s tongue to smell out a rat, viewing the rat through the snake’s eyes, striking at the rat, and then ultimately chowin’ down. We had to return to this one last time before leaving.

After taking a look at a real life Burmese Python, the boys ran over to try and lift the 15 foot, 100 pound Anaconda. This feat required assistance from dad, who lightly helped with the tail, allowing the boys to lift that sucker up off the ground.

Before heading back to “Hunt Like a Rattlesnake” I disassembled the 3-D snake and lizard puzzles before the kids came around to put them back together. In true fashion, my 9 year old and the husband looked for a system to putting the snake back together and found the convenient numbering system on the underside, putting “Bo” back together again. The 4 year old, a puzzle fanatic, insisted on doing the lizard all by himself.

By the end of the exhibit, about an hour later, the 4 year old was claiming to be hungry again, but we did not leave without first claiming his very own lizard wristband. And when we hit “Hunt Like a Rattlesnake” that one last time, the kids gave me the “aw-mans” and we headed out. 

Although there is a “no-photography” policy in this exhibit, you get a sweet little family photo-op at the end with the ever-friendly “Bo”. Your photo is accessible for free online to share with everyone you know.

NOT DONE YET

Be sure to check out the rest of the museum. We hit one of our favorites, Expedition Health, for another hour before calling it a day.

SEE FOR YOURSELF

The Lizards & Snakes Exhibition runs from February 3rd to July 8th.

Click here for more info and details on a membership. Like I said, we have been four times and we also received two free guest tickets with our membership. We still have yet to see everything. If you’re just visiting, you have many options in Denver to keep you busy. This is one not to be missed.

Love,

Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

THE RATING SYSTEM

The 9-year-old and 6-year-old (After about 50 minutes – 10 minutes before hunger set in again): 5

The Turkey Rating: A 5 during all his favorite parts. A 3 everytime we weren’t doing something he wanted to do.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Entertainment, Family, Kids, Motherhood, Travel

 

Confession of the Month: January

When I was little, while we were lazing around watching a movie, my mom and stepdad gave cute, 10 year old, me a couple foot nudges off the edge of a bed with no frame. I screamed for help and acted like falling was not an option. The more I screamed, the slower they pushed me to my impending doom. After they finally succeeded in pushing me off to the floor, I stood up and accused them with this line: “What if that had been a skyscraper? YOU would have probably STILL kicked me off.” I proceeded to bring myself to tears making it one of the most and worst dramatic performances of my life.

When my oldest son started this game at the age of 4, I didn’t hesitate and sent him to the floor in under 3 seconds.

Come to think of it, when my youngest was 3, I sent him to the floor in a record breaking 2 seconds.

Wow, I’m good.

20120127-080318.jpg

Love,
Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

P.S. No children were harmed in these events. My boys only proved what a drama queen I was when they each hopped up and asked me to do that again.

 

The Little Blogger That Could… And Will

I’m losing a little sleep tonite because I just volunteered for the opportunity to write my first review type blog entry!

The best part? I get to go to a really cool place. I’m welcome to take my children. I can even bring my husband!

I’ve never done this before…

There are no real rules, except that I get to go to this cool place and then all I have to do is write about it on my blog, twitter and/or facebook. That’s not a big deal, right?

In fact, it should be so easy because I KNOW I will love this place and what it has to offer on this occasion.

But here’s what was keeping me up:

I don’t want to ramble on about how much I really, really, really like this place. And how I really, really, really enjoyed what they had there.

I want to be helpful, real, and honest. Am I over-thinking this? YES. Might I write this and all of it fall on zero ears anyway? MAYBE. But what if it doesn’t?

So I had to dig deep to discover my method of determining how to write my review. And I found it!

20120121-101931.jpg
When I go anywhere or do anything with my kids and I recommend it to my very best friend, I first tell her how much my kids did or did not like it. That’s all it takes to pass on a good recommendation to another parent: Pretend you’re telling your best friend. You wouldn’t steer your best friend wrong, right?

So when I tell my best friend what I thought of something, I first tell her from the perspective of each of my kids. My boys can be pretty complicated and mature about certain things, but when it comes to liking an activity, their thoughts are simple and to the point. If one of my boys wrote a review, it would likely be a brief rating, one they would remember the next time I told them they were going to go to or do it again.

I have two boys. Right now they are 9 and 4. Now, if you have, say girls, the opinion of boys might not be of help, but you could certainly use their opinion as a reference point. Let’s say you do have boys, but they are neither 9 nor 4, you can at least imagine how they were or will be at one of these ages. What I can give you straight is my opinion, as a parent, based on the reactions of my children to the event and how happy it made me.

Now take the word “Happy”. I still vow to only tell you how much I liked something. When it comes to posting about my opinion on the Internet, I abide by the motto of Thumper’s mommy: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. (Unless of course it’s dangerous or disgusting). That’s just me though. I still depend heavily on hardcore, no holds barred, opinions and reviews to make many decisions.

Below is the rating scale for each of my children which, in turn, determines my happiness as a parent. They are dubbed by each child’s nickname. On a scale of 5 to 1, 5 would be the best possible scenario this mother could ask for. Each rating is based on actual words my children have used to clue me in on their honest opinion.

The E.E. Muck Muck Rating (Our 9 year old son)

5 – Do we have to go home?

4 – I can’t wait to tell my friends!

3 – Where are we going next week?

2 – Can I play your phone?

1 – Can we leave now?

The Turkey Rating (Our 4 year old son)

5 – I don’t wanna go home!

4 – I can’t wait to tell Nite-Nite Puppy!

3 – Did you bring me a snack?

2 – Can I play your phone?

1 – This is BOOOOR-ing!

I, myself, do not have a rating system. My satisfaction with a place, item, or experience is cut and dry. I either lose my mind or I don’t. As long as my kids are happy, I don’t lose my mind. And as long as I don’t lose my mind, I will have something nice to say. Call me a Positive Percy, but I want readers to want a great experience. If necessary, I’ll even throw in a tip or two on how to make you’re experience better than mine.

My first review comes out next month and I hope you’ll check it out. If your child has a rating scale, I’d like to know what it is!

20120121-102058.jpg

Love,

Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

 

Martha Asks Martha: How do I live with a Bunk Bed?

If you’ve read my past blog on bunk beds then you know the daily battles my son and I engaged in with making this bed. Sure, bunk beds are fun for kids, but not fun for the person who has to make them. I told my 8 year old son it was his job to make the bed himself and I actually felt bad for him. He was getting just as hurt and frustrated as I was in this task, and he’s half my size!

Some of my readers (loving family and friends) suggested that I use a sleeping bag instead. This is a great idea! However, we have character comforters out the ying-yang and I’m way to stubborn to let them go. Plus, I dread the sound of zippers clancking around in my dryer. Yes, I’m a stubborn gal!

So if you aren’t as stubborn as I am, start with a sleeping bag. Because I’m so stubborn, I decided to try one more thing before giving in to retiring a brand new Star Wars: The Clone Wars comforter and sheet set.

IMPORTANT! Before reading this and possibly taking my advice, please remember that this solution, similar to a sleeping bag, was tested out on an 8-year-old capable of getting out of a sleeping bag in an emergency. Do not use this solution with a child that would not be able to do so. Thank You.

So, we have tested and approved this method ever since the first blog post of my whining and complaining came out. Since the test, we have kept the method and my son makes his bed every morning without an injury and I am about as happy as a domestic engineer can get each morning (please add coffee).

This is our “Method to Making the Lower Bunk of a Bunk Bed” (dun dun dun!):

What you’ll need –

  • The twin comforter of your choice!
  • The twin sheets of your choice!
  • Zip ties (YES! Zip Ties! Sometimes called Cable Ties)
  • Pair of tough scissors

That’s it! The best thing about zip ties is that they are CHEAP. I bought mine at an unnamed superstore for under $2.50 for a pack of 50. A pack of 50 could last you about 4 months if you change the bedding once a week. Imagine how much money you’ll save in bandaids, antiseptics, ice packs and therapy (from all the emotional damage the old fashioned way will cause you). I won’t disclose how often I change out ours. There’s no judging here!

First thing you want to do is lay out your kid’s bedding on the floor UPSIDE DOWN, preferably next to the bed itself. Lay the Comforter down first, then any extra winter blankets, then your flat sheet (remember, ALL upside down).

Now fold the foot of the bedding sandwich over, only to the length of the twin mattress. This helps preserve the character theme of your comforter, the whole reason you spend $29.99+, right?!

We severed Obi Wan and Anakin's head's off when we did it the old way...

Everytime you do this, you will need only 3 zip ties. Yes, just three. This allows for the child to throw off unwanted layers on warmer nights.

Zip tie the two bottom corners nice and tight so that the blankets never pull free. Yes, this will leave a thicker mound at the foot of the bedding, but your elbows will thank you in the end.

Now the last zip tie goes on the top corner that is used the least for entering the bed. Remember that your bedding is upside down right now, so think about which upper corner will end up on the entrance side. My son’s bed is against the wall and he is forced to enter on the left side. Easy-peasy!

Here’s an important thing to note: Once the ties are pulled tight, you’ll may feel the desire to cut off the excess tie. If you do so (which we do) be sure to cut as close as possible to avoid sharp plastic edges that can scratch. So far, my son has not been scratched whatsoever. Also, turn them in toward the bed and not facing out, if you’re extra worried about little scratches. And please make sure your bedding is out of the cutting zone! I say this because I came close to cutting the bedding fabric. Whoa!

Now you have to teach your kid to make the bed, because now it’s so easy, you no longer need to do it for them! Leave enough space between the bed and the wall so your kid can throw the far ends over the bed and tuck them down. My kid sleeps in a tornado fashion. If yours does too, he or she may need to tuck under and smooth out that bumpy foot of the bed sometimes. The rest is just smoothing the top so mommy and daddy can say “oooh” and “ahhh” when they walk in.

Oh hi, Obi Wan and Anakin! There you are!

To clean your blankets, simply cut off and discard the zip ties and repeat the whole method again with new ties. Be sure not to cut your blankets when removing the ties!

I hope this helps! My kid loves it. I love it! My 4 year old has a regular twin bed, but if he follows in his brother’s tornado steps, I’ll use the same method to help him keep the blankets in line.

Love,

Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

 

All I want for Christmas… Are some cards

The thing I love about the months of November and December, which make up the Holiday Season, is checking the mail.

If you love getting holiday cards, you know what I’m talking about. This is that time of year that I have more than a 50% chance of getting something other than bills, ads, and one of the two magazine subscriptions that I never read. (Yes, I donate or recycle)

So, if I expect to look forward to all of these envelopes of joy at the end of each year, I had better reciprocate.

There are so many cute cards out there! I love them all. The sincere. The giggle. The prayer. Santa with his head stuck in the chimney. The family photo. The photo collage. Once in a while I get The cashola!

But it’s that feeling I get on my way to the mailbox that keeps me sending out our own cards out each year. It took a while, but I finally have a system for sending out cards. I always purchase our photo collage cards from Walgreens when they bust out a great online coupon code. I usually try to include a photo that shows each of my boys in his individuality, whether it be goofy or sweet. Then I find a picture or two that shows my boys not strangling each other. And finally, we include a family portrait that shows the children have not taken over and the grown-ups are still in control. When I bring the cards home, I use my nifty Christmas card address database to fill out all the envelopes. Then I line the envelopes up with my little assembly line of stamps, photo collage cards, and school pictures (for the grandparents, aunts and uncles).

This organized approach makes it easy for me to complete the task of sending out Christmas cards and then I can run to the mailbox each day as the cards to us start pouring in.

Only, there was a problem this year. Although we have tons of photos of all the places we have been this year, we somehow managed to take zero pictures that contain all four of us. And we sure as heck didn’t get a chance to have professional portraits taken. I tell you, it’s been a crazy-busy year.

So what was I to do? Just let it go, right? Suck it up and work with what I have right?

Right.

And

that’s

exactly

what

I did.

20111215-064008.jpg

My 9 year old decided he would have been unruly during family photos this year. Nice touch!

Love,
Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Should I show the outtakes from this photo shoot?