Lesson Learned

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sisters

Photo credit: Kristin Eldridge

I had one of those mom fail parenting moments the other night that made me feel awful. But I have to think it is these sorts of moments that teach us as parents. Or, maybe that is just making me feel better.

Let me explain the scenario.

By the time bedtime for my girls rolls around I DONE.

Mom’s not playing around. I want to keep the bedtime train moving with end destination being SLEEP for both girls, which means one hour of time to myself to finally get a chance to talk alone with my hubby or collapse on the couch with a book or show.

However, come bedtime they often get this second wind of energy and silliness, which actually makes me more grumpy, because again, I am not in the mood for silly, I am DONE.

Now, our bedtime routine is such that I put Morgan (5yrs) down first, alone. I read to her and then we do our prayer/snuggle and kiss good-night.

While I am putting Morgan down, Emma (8yrs), is supposed to be brushing her teeth or basically doing any of the steps she knows are needed to keep HER bedtime train moving and then is supposed to get into bed and read until I come in to put her down, alone.

Yet instead of driving the bedtime readiness train, she often departs to do head stands or bed frame gymnastics routines. Or, she will remember something VERY important that she forgot to tell me or Morgan, and will bust into Morgan’s room to interrupt our book time, de-railing our train and extending the process.

Lately Emma has been adding another stop on the bedtime train for Morgan, with a special “good night kiss” when I leave Morgan’s room.

I have asked her many times to please say good-night BEFORE Morgan goes down and before books commence but that is not flying. She now has to come in after our routine is over, jumps up into Morgan’s bed to kiss her, hug her and say “good night.” Again, from my point of view, just another antic to extend bedtime.

Emma plants so many kisses on Morgan’s head, they often end up laughing and giggling and again, grumpy mom is there to say, “Come on Emma! Morgan needs to go to sleep and you need to get ready! That’s enough. Time for bed.”

Here comes the lesson.

Last night Morgan’s Kindergarten teacher emailed me with the title, “Sister Love”, and shared with me the class was talking about “love” and the people that love them and Morgan shared with zero hesitation, “Emma because she hugs and kisses me before I go to bed.”

She wanted to share with me because it made her heart melt.

It made MY heart melt too, made me tear up it was so sweet. But then I realized how selfish I have been trying to cut this moment out, to what, save 1 minute?!

I was looking at it as an extension of the the process, not wanting Morgan to get “riled up” and really just wanting Emma to be reading.

But what I failed to see was the beauty in the gesture of what Emma was doing, and what it meant to Morgan.

Never again!!

Emma will be allowed to go in, kiss, hug and say good-night to her sister without a grumpy mom standing in the doorway. It’s okay to sometimes get off the train. Or, mom can adjust the timing to get to bed a little earlier. But, moments like this are to be treasured.

Lesson learned.

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WWYD?!

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Today’s WWYD?! post is on boys and violent words. Please comment below with your insight/experience/advice! Boys and Violent Words

Welcome to a new series we are starting called WWYD?! {“What Would You Do?!”} where moms write in with a real life parenting dilemma or issue  no matter how big or how small it may be.

I know I for one ALWAYS turn to my friends for help when I am at a loss for what to do in a certain parenting scenario, so I thought, how awesome would it be to pose these questions to our readers and have you chime in with your advice?!

Recently we got this question from a reader, so we are starting today’s series with a question on:

Boys and Violent Words

She writes,

“My 5 year old son has begun to pick up some very unsettling language since entering kindergarten.

Most notable are DIE, KILL, SHOOT, and also the potty words poop, fart, etc…

I correct him every time and tell him we don’t say those words, but it seriously falls on deaf ears!!  I’m horrified with the thought that he says these things around his other buddies and their moms.

Is his a phase? Should I punish? How do I get it across to him that it’s NOT OK to say these violent words???”

WWYD?! Please comment below and help a mama out! 

Do you have a current parenting issue you would be interested to hear what others would do in your situation?

Email jennifer@tinyoranges.com and it might be featured on an upcoming WWYD?! post (and don’t worry, it will be kept anonymous!!)

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Fun Ways to Encourage Little Readers

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Fun Ways to Encourage Little Readers

Reading with your little one can be one of the best parts of your day (the snuggles, the relaxing quiet time!)…especially during that magical transition when they start reading words back to you (yes, it is totally normal for you to think, “my child is a genius!!”).  Then they hesitantly string a couple of words together.  And sooner or later, they want to read you their favorite book.  Today, I’d like to share some fun ways to encourage little readers.

Make it a special, make it consistent.

We try to make reading time special at our house.  Typically, we read after my kiddos are all clean and snuggly for bedtime – because my husband and I make reading part of their bedtime routine.  Every night.  With our first grader, she always wants to read to us (you know, because she’s practically 16).  My preschooler is getting into BOB books now (if you haven’t heard of this amazing learn-to-read series, check it out!).  Now, we read him a story (of his choice), and we work with him on letting him read a BOB book to us.  Reading is part of their cuddle time, and unless something out of the ordinary is happening, we keep this routine every night.  And we all look forward to it!

Take them to the library.

I try to take my kids to the library once a month (we go once a week during the summer).  They each come with their own fabric handle bags, and my rule is that you can pick as many books as you can carry.  They LOVE this!  It gives them control to pick what they want and read about what interests them.  And we all know (especially with little ones) that they are constantly vying for control.  This is a great way to engage them in the reading process.

And yes, I sneak in some books that I’d like them to read, too!

Give them their own book budget.

If you can, try giving them a book budget every week or month.  This is a “two-fer.” They get to pick books that they are interested in and excited about…and they get to practice counting and keeping track of their “budget.”  Even if it’s only $5!  There’s something exciting and special about getting to go shopping for your own books.

Make a reading reward chart.

Do you have a shy or hesitant reader?  Try creating a fun reading reward chart for them.  (You can read my blog about reward charts here, for some ideas.)  And, if your kids are anything like my daughter, she LOVES to keep tangible track of her accomplishments.  Which is probably why reward charts works so well for her.  She loves logging each and every book she reads.

You can pick what you feel most comfortable with in regards of earned “prizes,” and also pick how many books they have to read to earn them.  Stickers, “dollar spot” trinkets, earning a trip to their favorite place (like having an ice cream, going to their favorite restaurant, going to a favorite bouncy place, etc.), a toy, etc. – it all depends how you want to set it up, and what you feel will work best for your child.

Play games while you’re reading.

Oh my gosh, you can practically make a game out of anything when you’re reading!  When teaching my kiddos to read, I use my pointer finger and follow along with my finger as I’m reading.  Then, I have my preschooler do the same.  Here are just a few “game” ideas that might make reading a little more entertaining for little ones :

– Count how many _______ you can see! (Pick a simple word – “a,” “the,” “ball,” etc.).

– Have them point to a picture and then point to the corresponding word.  Or visa-versa.

– You read a sentence, they read a sentence – trade off.  I find that my preschooler loves when I read in funny voices.  Whatever works.

– Tell me all the words that start with ______. (pick a letter).

I could go on and on.  Creating these little games make it more interactive for your kids, and I’d like to think it helps them with their comprehension level.

Speaking of game, phonics, phonics, phonics.

I have personally found that the easiest way to teach my kids to read, is by starting them with phonics. I am a BIG proponent of phonics.

Now, there are a zillion programs out there to get your little one started on phonics.  My favorite?  A free app and website called “Starfall.”  If you haven’t heard of it, check it out.  My daughter did at least 15 minutes of Starfall a day for a full summer (in addition to our reading time together at night), and when it clicked, it clicked.  It is a great supplemental resource.  And the best part is, she thought mommy was just letting her play games!

Have your “big” read to your “little.”

This is the BEST!  If you have an older child, have them read a book to your little.  There is nothing more heartwarming to see…and honestly, it is great positive peer pressure.  Never underestimate the power of positive peer pressure!  If big sis thinks reading is cool, so do I! (And you are stealthily getting in more reading time for your big!).

Once your little starts reading more confidently, have them read to their big brother or sister!

What are some ways you make reading fun for your child?  And great tips you can share for encouraging little readers?

Photo credit: Flickr;
Copyright All rights reserved by Nozomu Okabe

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Love Inspired

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All links to the love inspired gifts below  (with the exception of Mantraband) are affiliate links. 

Love inspired gifts for Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and while browsing around online the other day I spotted some very sweet love inspired gifts to share with you.

Love Inspired Gifts for Valentine’s Day

From top, left to right:

1. Little Girls’ Valentine Cotton PJs

2. Love Serving Tray

I think this is a super cute way to serve your breakfast in bed, plus it’s from Zazzle, meaning there are lots of customizing options.

3. Heart Rain Boots

4. Watercolor Hearts

Customize this special print with photos of the ones you love.

5. Pink Heart Giraffe

6. Love You! Print

So sweet for a child’s room. You can also customize colors.

7. Splendid Love iPhone Case

8.  L O V E hat

Another fun find on Zazzle. You can customize your colors and they also have this print available for t-shirts, baby shirts and onesies.

9. Acrylic Photo Block

This is a great gift for a grandparent to sweetheart for the office, or really, anywhere really!

10. What I Love About You

Came across this daring journal where you are prompted on each page to fill in all the reasons why you love that person so very much.

11. Infinite Love Bracelet

Obsessed with these bracelets from Mantraband. Lots of wording options.

12. I Love You to the Moon and Back Pillow

Again, from Zazzle, you can pick the size you want, fabric and color choice.

13. Llama Llama I Love You

14. Barbie Valentines Day Doll

15. Lovely Butterflies Personalized Stationery

16. Melissa & Doug Jumbo Brown Teddy Bear

Because what child wouldn’t love a life size teddy bear?!

17. Heart Sweater Dress

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Silly Simple Kid Snack or Meal

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Kid-friendly burrito recipes

I am cracking up that I am sharing my famous kid-friendly burrito / quesadilla “recipe” today because it’s really not that special, but there is something about this combination that kids literally go CRAZY for.

This is my go-to after school snack or meal when we have play dates and my girls’ friends love them so much that they ask for them every time.

In fact, on a few occasions I have heard a friend express to my daughter in private, and I am not joking, “You are SO lucky to have a mom that makes such good quesadillas.”

I am laughing right now as I type this, because if you know me, I am a really bad cook. But to the 5 – 9 year old crowd, I am a culinary hit.

Kid-friendly Burrito Recipes (or Quesadillas)

Ingredients:

Tortillas (I use flour for the burritos and 2 corn for the quesadillas)
Shredded mexican cheese
Butter (I use the vegan Earth Balance buttery spread – we fell in love with this product when my daughter used to be allergic to milk and eggs and still buy it)
Organic black beans (I use Trader Joe’s)
Organic brown rice (I use Trader Joe’s)

Steps:

1. Hit a skillet to medium heat, a little hotter if your kids like the outside more on the crispy side, a little cooler if your kids like them softer.

2. Butter the outside of the tortilla. I believe this is one of the secrets that make them yummier. If doing a quesadilla, butter the bottom side of the corn tortilla, and then butter the outside top of the 2nd corn tortilla so when you flip both sides get brown.

burrito 3. Add beans, rice and cheese in the tortilla and let it melt together.

For the burrito, fold over the edges with two spatulas to make it into a burrito and turn over to “seal” it with the flap side down.

Or, you can roll it up to make it more like a rolled taco (left).

For the quesadillas, I let the cheese adhere to the top tortilla, then flip the whole thing over until brown on both sides.

4. I then cut the quesadillas into triangles, and the burrito into two pieces to make it cooler for eating.

For play dates, doing the quesadillas like with just cheese also work, and are even easier to throw together. Plus, the triangles make for easy serving.  Just don’t put away your materials until the kids are done. I have been known to have to make additional batches!

School Lunches and Sports Snacks 

These also make great school lunches because they keep well in aluminum foil AND my oldest daughter often eats these before her long gymnastics workout (and sometimes I will send for a mid-workout snack too.) I think it’s a good sport snack for the mix of carbs (rice + tortilla) and protein (black beans + cheese).

There you go friends, that is the secret to my magic burritos and quesadillas. Please try this with your kids and tell me if they love them!

quesadilla

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