Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tot School - C is for Cars and Cookies

This is actually my third week of Tot School at home, but the first time that I was finally able to take pictures and document everything that we did.  I am very happy with all of the things my trio of tots learned this week.  I do need to add my disclaimer: I snag most of my ideas from Hand Over The Cookies and 1+1+1=1

We took our first trip to the library last weekend.  Ant was working that morning, so I ventured into our local library with three children under the age of four who had never been to a library before.  Oh, and I wouldn't want to forget to mention that it took FOR-FREAKING-EVER because the picture books for small children aren't in order on shelves.  That would make entirely too much sense.  Instead, they are in about twenty different child-high bins so that small children can get them out and put them back as they please.  So not only did I have to try to keep an eye on three toddlers and encourage them to be quiet the entire time, but I also had to search through several bins of unorganized books just to find a few that fit our category.

On the bright side, these books were a hit.  My plan was to read just one book each day, but instead we reach each book every night.  I doubt we'll ever have to try hard to encourage our children to enjoy books.

What I count as "writing" is really more letter-recognition than writing.  But this really is the toddler version of what writing would be.  We traced "C" and "c", found all of the C's in a giant letter "C", and outlined our Cc sheet with Play-Doh--by far their favorite activity.  They like to poke the Play-Doh, and they don't even realize that while they're poking and making fingerprints, they are also outlining the letter "C".

We attempted to draw lines on the worksheets below.  Ace is really good at this concept.  The younger two, could use some work.

Our first art project was a combination of two ideas I saw on other blogs.  I taped off the letter "C" on a sheet of paper, and let them drive toy cars through paint to make car tracks all over the page.  After the pages had dried, I lifted off the tape and we had very decorative letter C's that went along with our car theme.  We do one of these "tape-off" projects for each letter and hang the results in the kids' rooms.
(Although one would think that the pink and purple art would be Jellybean's... it's actually Dango's project.  Yes, I let them pick their own colors.  Dango loves the color pink, and since his daddy won't let him actually wear pink, he uses his art to express his passion for the color.)

I thought of the other art project all on my own, and the kids really like it.  Especially because it involved glue.  Each child colored two cookies and then we glued them onto a plate that I printed from Google Images. 
We also did some color-matching, trying to match crayons to the colored cookies below.  Ace (3 years) got about 8/10 right.  Dango (2.5 years) only got about 2/10 right without my help.  And Jellybean (23 months) got exactly zero right, and just tried to scribble all over the page, then threw a fit when I took the page away.  Ah, yes, Terrible Two's, I can hear you coming.

Toddler math mostly involves counting and a little number recognition.  This week, I taped paper cookies on the wall and we counted all 15 of them.  We even counted in French!  Dango loves counting in French.  Ace and Jellybean are usually annoyed with it, giving me looks like, "what're we in Canada?!"

Not that these kids need any help being active... they always have more energy than I do, that's for sure.  But sometimes a little guidance with their physical activities helps.  This week, we tried to play "Red Light Green Light" to go along with our cars theme.  It didn't go over so well.  Dango and Jellybean, being only 2.5 and almost 2, pretty much just ran around no matter what light I said.  Ace got the giggles every time I said "green light" and couldn't go anywhere.  But it did give us a chance to talk about traffic lights and which colors mean what.

This week I tried to get them to play along with the musical game "Who Took The Cookies From The Cookie Jar" in which I pretty much recited the whole thing and they just giggled a lot when I said their name.  A for effort, right?

Our big "science project" was to bake some cookies.  That's a pretty big deal when you're a little kid.  Just adding an egg or stirring the batter makes those cookies taste so much sweeter to them.  We even baked some C shaped cookies.

At the end of our week, our completed work looks something like this:

Everyone is doing something fun!
Tot School

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

On Being A Step-Parent

The thing about being a step-parent is... well, it's pretty much bullshit. 

A step-parent holds all of the shared responsibilities as the other parent--financial, moral, as well as putting up with eye rolls and backtalk--but does not have any real parental decision-making powers.  At the end of the day, if I think Ace needs to attend Preschool A over Preschool B, my opinion is only a small part of Ant's decision-making process.  Being the biological parent and legal custodian, these are his decisions to make.  I'm not saying this is wrong... it's just how it is.

So, although a step-parent has played an active role in potty training, spent beaucoup dollars on birthday parties and rushed a fevered toddler to the ER... there are many cases in which it is evident that you are not actually the parent, regardless of what parental roles you have taken on. 

So in the midst of various situations in which you are constantly reminded that "your children" aren't really yours, you are expected to love and treat them as your own.  (And you absolutely should.) Especially if you have your own biological child in the household.  Because if you treat any of them differently or unfairly or in a way that could be misconstrued as unfair in any way, shape or form, not only will the children feel it and probably feel sad or awkward, but your spouse is likely to fly off the handle in defense of his/her children.

Even if your family is significantly less dysfunctional than the rest of us and you've managed to create a completely equal atmosphere for all children in the household, you still aren't their "real parent" and the kids know that.  It doesn't matter that their biological mother (or egg donor) has never paid a dime to support them, supplied with with food or clothing, picked them up for visitation on a regular basis or even attended their last birthday party... she is still Mommy when she does get around to giving a shit about them and she is going to be held in a very special place in their hearts.  (And she absolutely should be.)

As a very involved step-mom, I know that I too will have a special place in the boys' hearts.  And when they're 22 and 23, they will likely have a better grasp of the situation and love me in the same way they would love a biological mother.  But for now, at the ages of 2 and 3, Mommy is the superhero who shows up once a month to whisk them away for a weekend at her house, and Amie is their evil step-mother who makes them follow the rules again when they come home.  And it would be an evil thing of me to point out otherwise.  So I won't.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

At Home Toddler Photo Session

It was a boring Monday afternoon with nothing to do... so I dressed the kiddos in the dorkiest clothing I could find and took them outside for a DIY toddler photo session.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Cost of a Custody Battle

I can finally kiss good-bye the stress and anxiety of the custody/visitation case.  But I still have a stack of bills to pay, so I won't be forgetting this experience anytime soon.  For those of you who are curious about the financial side of a custody/visitation case, below is a breakdown of everything this has cost me.

Lawyer fees:                          $3,422.83
Guardian Ad Litem Fees:          $445.00
Startup Fee with Safe House:      $15.00
TOTAL:                                 $3,912.83

*Also, a $10 parking ticket that I received when my parking meter ran out while I was waiting for W. to show up to court.  (Which he never did.)

**Also, some of my dignity. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

You Capture - White

Beth assigned us white for the topic of this week's You Capture, so I decided to dedicate this post to our man Dango--our little toe-head. 

Most of the time, we just call him blonde.  But this boy's hair is white.
And his cowlicks are nearly impossible to control.  Dango's hair has an agenda of it's own, and no amount of spray or mousse is going to change it's mind.
To see the white in everyone else's lives, check out You Capture.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Did You Find Me?

I transferred my best posts over from Dirty Diapers, Pureed Peas and Other Joys of Motherhood.  I hope my followers will continue following me here.

Leave a comment and let me know that you've found me!