November 2018
S M T W T F S
« Mar    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

Categories

Mommy Things I Wish I Had Known Earlier

Scissors are NOT suitable for left and right-handed use.

Somewhere between two and three, it became obvious that one of our daughters is right-handed, while the other is left-handed. When it came time for their first pair of scissors, I remember specifically looking for ones indicating they were for lefties. But all the ones I saw in the stores specifically stated they were “suitable for left and right-handed use.” I thought “that’s convenient”, got a couple of pairs, and thought no more about it. Around age five, Dan got her a pair of left handed scissors. It was then that I finally understood that it’s not just about how the grip is shaped; the blades themselves are reversed for left-handed scissors. Since our lefty had been cutting with right-handed scissors, she was rotating her hand 90 degrees towards her in order to see what she was cutting (so her hand was turned sideways, rather than straight up and down). After we got her the correct scissors, it took many weeks of reminding her not to tilt her had before she became consistent. But once she got that down, her cutting skills dramatically improved. She really just needed the right tool. I’ve already started looking for left-handed decorative cut scissors. I don’t think they’ll be easy to find…

[In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that Dan insists he told me repeatedly that left handed scissors are made differently. He was the one who actually tracked them down and ordered them. I feel like I’m usually a reasonable listener, so not sure where the breakdown occurred there.  At any rate, we finally got her set up with something she can use. I just wish it had been before she learned bad habits to cope with the wrong tool so she wouldn’t have had to unlearn those to use the right tool.]

Playdough is easy to make.

The girls love playdough. They can play quietly together for an hour or more. It’s a frequent “go to” thing when I needed to focus on something for a while. But it dries out. And I don’t like the smell. I had heard that people made their own and always thought I would try that someday. I finally did. It was easy. And doesn’t smell bad like the ones you buy.

IMG_2198

We must rescue the princesses from the cage!

Crayons

Don’t even think of trying to put those crayons back in the box. Once I finally gave up on the box, I started using plastic bags. That worked fine for storage, but we would end up with all the crayons on the table and the floor each time they used them. One day it occurred to me to put the crayons into a glass pie pan. The edges keep the crayons from rolling all over (like onto the floor) and it’s heavy enough it will stay put. When they’re done, we just put the whole pan onto the shelf. I don’t make pies often, so I don’t miss my pie pan and if I did I would buy another pan.

Paper Cutting

The girls love cutting! For a long time they would just snip away, literally making confetti — which got everywhere! And our dining area is carpeted so I can’t just sweep it up, it has to be picked up or vacuumed. But then I discovered that if I gave them a baking pan it would help contain the confetti and significantly reduce all that clean up.

Dyeing Easter Eggs

We always used the packaged Easter egg dyes when I was a kid. I didn’t even know there were other ways to color eggs. I used those the first time we dyed eggs with the girls. But then I discovered that you can use food coloring. I liked that better. A cooling rack in a baking pan is a great place to put them to dry. And we have better luck using tongs to remove the eggs from the dye, instead of that tiny little metal hook thing that comes with the dye kits.

IMG_3467

Look at the pretty colors!

Jack-O-Lanterns

The girls were 5½ before I was ready to consider carving jack-o-lanterns with them. But all those little fingers with those great big kitchen knives made me about ready to pass again. I decided to try some of those little plastic jack-o-lantern carving tools. They carved the pumpkin much better than I expected and seemed much safer for little hands than real knives. They’re inexpensive, so they’re not well made, but they worked for our purposes.

IMG_4119

Pumpkin carving.

Learning to write

Sometimes smaller is better. From a young age, the girls have enjoyed drawing. As they got older, they started making attempts at writing letters. One of the girls had an awkward grip and would hold the pencil or crayon in her fist. She would get frustrated when we tried to show her another way to hold it. When they started school, the teacher told us at open house that they use very small pieces of chalk to practice their writing. Smaller is lighter. It also helps force a more proper grip. You can’t hold a ½ inch piece of chalk in your fist.

IMG_0379

Early drawings.

 They’ll like it better if they get to help.

For their 5th birthday party, we went did a Dr. Seuss/Thing 1 & Thing 2 themed party.  I had visions of a cake with Thing 1 drawn on it in icing and Thing 2 on the other cake.  The girls wanted to help and it was their birthday, after all. So I did some rethinking and came up with a design they could do. I think the icing layer was thicker than the cake layer. They were so proud of themselves! And it was way easier on me.

IMG_3674

We made a birthday cake.

IMG_4469

Little helpers (yes, she’s wearing a princess dress).

Little Readers

The girls are nearing completion of kindergarten — their first year of formal education. When the school year started, they knew their letters and the sound each letter makes. They were just barely beginning to put those sounds together to sound out a few three letter words. In school, they began by learning “sight words” as well as significantly increasing their competency to figure out words — by sounding them out as well as context from pictures or illustrations. Now, they can pick up a book they’ve never seen before and begin reading it. It has been amazing to see how much they are absorbing. They’ve been able to figure out much more than I would have expected and I’m learning to be patient while they try. If I give them enough time before giving a hint, they can usually figure it out for themselves.

I enjoy reading and read voraciously as a child. We’ve been reading to the girls since they were infants. And even as infants they had some books that were on the low shelves in their room, available to them whenever they wanted. We had some books that had to be mended with tape, and some board books that got enough chewing they had to be discarded. But they’ve learned to be gentle. And they LOVE story time!  Honestly, I do too. Like I said, I like reading. But I also like the snuggles. And (I’ll admit it) the quiet time.

Carolyn & Elizabeth

The girls were three. It was one of those moments when I realized the girls were playing VERY quietly in their room. I went in to see what sort of trouble they were getting into and found them “reading” to each other.

In recent months, we have frequently told the girls that reading is one of the most important skills they can learn — because when they can read, they can learn about anything! They’re off to a great start and we’re very proud of them.

And just because, here’s a list of some of our favorite first books:

• Where is Baby’s Belly Button? (lift the flap book) – Karen Katz
• Good Morning, Good Night! – Teresa Imperato
• God Gave Us You – Lisa Tawn Bergren & Laura J Bryant
• Guess How Much I Love You – Sam McBratney & Anita Jeram
• Goodnight Little One – Margaret Brown Wise
• Fisher Price My Little People Farm (lift the flap book) – Doris Tomaselli
• The Going to Bed Book – Sandra Boynton
• The Foot Book – Dr. Seuss
• Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? – Dr. Seuss
• The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name – Sally Lloyd-Jones

Elizabeth & Carolyn

There are all sorts of ways to play with books. (Age 3.5)

Carolyn & Elizabeth

Reading with Grandpa

Carolyn & Elizabeth

Easter reading with Mommy

Carolyn & Elizabeth

Story time with Nana

Carolyn & Elizabeth

Read me a story Daddy!

Elizabeth & Carolyn

Reading with GGma.

Elizabeth & Carolyn

Independent reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to Kanarraville Falls

When we visited southern Utah last year with my parents, Janet and I had the opportunity to take the girls on an incredible creek-walk hike through the Kanarraville Falls slot canyon. The only reason I knew the place existed was because we were hunting a geocache, of course. Unfortunately, at that time the cache was missing (probably washed away in a flash flood), but it still ranked as one of my favorite day hikes ever. This year I was fortunate enough to vacation again in St. George, and I was thrilled to have another opportunity to hike through the Kanarraville Falls slot canyon, this time with my Dad, brother in law, and nephew. The cache had been replaced since my last visit, and I’m very pleased to say that this time there was no trouble finding it at all. Woo-hoo!

In the thinnest parts of the slot canyon, the walls rarely get narrower than 15-20 feet, but there are nice stretches where the walls are nearly vertical and parallel, towering 40 or 50 feet above your head, winding back and forth with the river, always making you wonder what’s around that next bend. There are a couple parts in the narrow slot where you need to ascend a makeshift ladder in order to advance further. The first ladder is pretty solid, if a bit awkward. The second one, however, is a bit sketchy (although it’s quite a bit better now than it was last year). It all adds up to high adventure! Frankly, it’s incredible, and pictures just can’t adequately convey the awesomeness because of the scale and tricky lighting. Nevertheless, here are some pictures to give you just a taste.

The entrance to the slot canyon

The entrance to the slot canyon

Not even a panoramic shot can adequately capture the awesomeness

Not even a panoramic shot can adequately capture the awesomeness

Climbing the first ladder

Climbing the first ladder

Looking back towards the first waterfall

Looking back towards the first waterfall

Entering the second stretch of slot canyon

Entering the second stretch of slot canyon

The "ladder" at the second waterfall

The “ladder” at the second waterfall

Scaling the second waterfall

Scaling the second waterfall

Not as narrow, but the cliff walls were very high here

Not as narrow, but the cliff walls were very high here

The shadows were getting longer, and we had to turn back

The shadows were getting longer, and we had to turn back

Heading for home

Heading for home

What a fantastic hike!

What a fantastic hike!

A Pumpkin Patch Retrospective

Every year about this time, we’ve taken the girls to Joan’s Farm and Pumpkin Patch here in Livermore. They were only about 6 months old for their first visit, and Janet had to help them stay propped up against a few pumpkins. For the next couple years, the challenge in getting a good picture of them was mostly about getting them both to look up at the camera at the same time, preferably smiling. That’s still a challenge, but for the last few years the additional challenge has been just getting them to sit relatively still for more than a couple seconds. The pumpkin patch hasn’t changed much, although this year, thanks to the drought, we were struck by the lack of any green grass. Carolyn and Elizabeth, on the other hand, have changed wonderfully from year to year. See for yourself!

2009

2009

2010

2010

2011

2011

2012

2012

2013

2013

2014

2014

Turning A Page

Last Monday we began a new chapter in our lives — our little girls have started kindergarten! I took them shopping before school started and we picked out lunch boxes and thermoses. They wanted Angry Birds. I wanted the cute owl and cheetah lunch boxes. Barbie was something we could compromise on. I’m not sure they even really know who Barbie is, though. I think Elizabeth simply chose it because it was pink. And Carolyn chose it because her sister chose it.

Carolyn & Elizabeth

Ready for a new adventure!

I took a vacation day on that first Monday so that I could be there to send them off and pick them up again in the afternoon. Naturally, we have talked with them quite a bit over the last few months about what to expect, and they attended a five week long pre-kindergarten summer class. As a result, they were ready and confident, and could barely spare me a “goodbye” before entering the exciting new world that awaited them in their classrooms. We took a long time deciding whether we wanted them to be in the same class or separate classrooms… There are pros and cons on both sides. But if nothing else, that pre-kindergarten program was helpful for us in deciding that it would be best for our daughters in the long run if they started in separate classes, mostly so they could each practice making their own friends rather than rely exclusively on each other for their social interaction.

They were definitely hoping to be in the same class though, so there was some genuine disappointment — and even a few tears — when they learned that was not going to be the case. (Since Elizabeth came home from the hospital a week before Carolyn, this is truly the first time they’ve spent more than about half an hour apart from each other.) But, wonderfully and somewhat amazingly, they just accepted the disappointment and moved on very quickly. We are very proud of them for that, and we’ve told them so. And as it turns out, their classes are right next door to each other. Furthermore, the teachers work closely together and run on the same schedule, so they do recess and lunch at the same time, and the girls get to see other other at least a little bit during the course of the day.

Carolyn

Ready for Kindergarten!

Elizabeth

Kindergarten is fun!

Dan and I spent the morning together. Alone! We watched a movie during the day and didn’t have to worry about a babysitter. Dan commented that he was missing them particularly around lunchtime, when he would normally have been in the kitchen making their sandwiches. Even so, we enjoyed the small amount of time to ourselves. When it was time to pick the girls up at the end of the school day, we joined the crowd of other parents in the tiny courtyard and waited to collect our children. Carolyn was released from her class first, and then a few minutes later we had Elizabeth back as well. It was very crowded, and the courtyard was basically sheer pandemonium, so Dan and I tried to herd them out to a more open area where we could talk — but they weren’t ready yet! First, they had to celebrate their reunion with a BIG hug. And then another. And another. It was so incredibly cute to watch their happy reunion after being separated all day. Alas, I don’t have a picture or video of those reunion hugs, but here’s a before-school hug from that first day.

HUG

Hugs before school begins

When asked what their favorite part of that first day was, they both enthusiastically answered “Everything!” That seems like a pretty good start, although Dan suspects that answer is at least partially a deflection. They seem a bit reluctant to tell us much about their experience at school; I swear, you’d think they were tweens already! But perhaps it’s just that they are truly excited to finally have some room to learn and grow apart from Mommy and Daddy. They are rising to meet these new challenges and growing in confidence, and they’re just not sure yet how much they want to invite us parents into that. Maybe we’re reading too much it, but if there’s any truth there it’s actually sort of exciting. That’s a big part of what school is all about, right?

And as if to drive that point home, they each completed these special “First Day of Kindergarten” crafts. Very cute! (sniff, sniff)

Carolyn

Carolyn’s first day of kindergarten craft

Elizabeth

Elizabeth’s first day of kindergarten craft