The summer before our oldest was going into kindergarten, she expressed a BIG interest in reading. Never having taught someone to read before, we were at a loss as to what to do. Lucky for us, a college nearby was hosting a reading program for different age groups, beginning with 4yo and rising kindergarteners. And so we signed up.
It was a 5 or 6 week program. We spent maybe 2 hours on a Saturday morning there. They provided the materials and a cd. We showed up, paid attention, and practiced during the week. After the class and continued practice, she was reading before she ever went to kindergarten. She was 4 years old. Not only did the class help us work with her, but it sparked in her a love of reading that she continues to possess today.
I hope that if you, or someone you know, has a little one that wants to read – or even an older child that needs or wants help with reading and reading comprehension – you will check out the Institute of Reading Development website and find a class near you. No matter how hurried you may be, the few hours of work that this takes have a lifetime of positive results!
Hurried Homemaker was in no way compensated for this post.
I asked Michelle from doudou bebe, one of my favorite online baby boutiques, to write a guest post. She has amazing taste and some fabulous ideas. I love that she decided to write about birthday gifts. And not just any birthday gifts – she is right up my ally with this take on ideas/tips for the mom who is thinking about greeness, budget and ease of purchase, while still wanting to get something that the birthday child actually will enjoy.
Be sure to get more great ideas and advice from Michelle by following her on twitter (@doudoubebe), on her blog, and/or her fabulous website.
In the early years, I was always excited to get a birthday party invite for the kids: it meant a nice afternoon of playing and cake. For me and for them because back then their friends were exclusively the children of my friends. But as they’ve gone out into the world and acquired their own little circle of friends (humph!), brightly coloured envelopes come home in their backpacks and cheerful emails arrive with RSVP by dates that I will never actually meet.
One of the more difficult aspects of this has been selecting appropriate gifts for kids that I don’t know well whose parents I know even less (if at all). Until you’ve faced it, it seems like a minor thing, but the things we give our kids have says a lot about our values. With my friends, I know pretty well if a craft set will be well-appreciated or relegated to the back cupboard because it’s too messy (or too potentially toxic or too ‘feminine’ for their boy… the pitfalls are many).
I know well how frustrating it is to have gifts that contradict the values that I want to teach my kids – but that the kids inevitably love more than life itself. Recognizing too that our low-plastic, creative play focus isn’t what every family sees as ideal, I’m also trying to use these opportunities to teach the kids about kindness and generosity in the wider world. It’s not easy to balance, but it’s a big lesson so we keep at it.
It doesn’t help at all that asking a 5 or 6 year old what their little friend likes rarely elicits useful information. I once trekked out to the toy store to buy a Spider-Man doll that Isabelle was quite sure her friend really wanted for his birthday – only to find out that the way she knew he liked it was that he had brought the one he already had to show and tell. Sigh.
Nonetheless, with a few years of school under our belts now, birthday season has become much less stressful. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up:
Set a general budget based on the number of parties you’re likely to attend in the school year and stick to it
Have your children participate in the selection, wrapping and card-writing for the gift
Have one or two back-up gifts in case you find yourself remembering at the last moment that you have a party, at noon that day (not that this has ever happened to me, of course!)
For older kids, gift certificates can be a good option; for younger kids, the idea of a gift certificate is too abstract. Also, the gift preparation that’s so important to your kids largely gets lost with a gift card
If in doubt, be conservative: if it occurs to you that someone might object, then chances are someone will. If you go for it anyway, be sure to have a gift receipt.
If you find a cool neutral gift on sale, buy a couple of the same one to keep on hand (but remember that without the gift receipt, if it’s not a really cool universal gift, some of them may end up in the broom closet)
Take heart too – birthday parties are for the kids and they are supposed to be fun. Even if one or two (or even all) of the gifts you thoughtfully purchase and present are never really used, it really is the thought that counts.
In light of the fact that we said a year ago that we were moving, and still haven’t, I decided it was time to do something I almost never do … ask for help. So, I contacted Gigi at Vision Organizing to see what she could do. First impression: she is super-sweet and business-savvy!
I must admit I was a bit scared of our first in-home visit. I was a ball of nerves – my house is never organized or spotless. I am just not the kind of person that is uber-concerned with keeping the house perfect. I’d rather spend the little free time I do have with my husband and kids, not cleaning. So, there is usually a stack of mail on the counter, dishes in the sink, crafts on the table, laundry on the floor, and dust somewhere.
Neat freaks – you still with me?
Gigi arrives only to remain calm, cool, collected, and (best part) non-judgemental about the whole house! I love her already! She talks me through her process, what her recommendations are, and a plan of attack. Yes! Sanity is somewhere in my future!
The future is here, friends. Tomorrow I will be in it with Gigi – knee -high in papers to sort, shred, and organize. And you will all be my witnesses. Aren’t I lucky? I have Gigi, my husband, and all of you to hold me accountable to cleaning up, clearing out, organizing, and prepping this house so that we can live in peace until (and after) we move. The best part? Well, we have a fabulous giveaway coming up …
There has been so much going on here. First the kids and I were sick. Then Christmas. Then my birthday. The hubs got sick – really sick. The baby turned 1.My sister asked me to help plan her wedding.
Amidst all this craziness, I have been taking every free moment I can find (which have been few & far between) to update the blog. Behind the scenes I am laying out a whole new format and designing a new header (with the help of my handsome hubby).
I was hoping to launch the new site January 1, but that just didn’t happen. As of right now, it looks like the new HurriedHomemaker.com will launch this week! (insert applause here)
I have some great things coming to you besides the new layout: I have some great giveaways, useful tips, and some deliciously healthy recipes.
I am admittedly the WORST when it comes to greeting cards. I always remember at the last minute that I need to get one, rush to the store, and rush through picking out a paper card. This is not my idea of proper card giving, mind you, but after 2 children my mind isn’t what it once was. I have trouble remembering everything!
I pride myself on picking the perfect gift, but I always fall short on the card. Where are all those fantastic cards that perfectly complement that perfect gift? Where is that perfect card to send during tough times to a friend, graduation to a cousin, etc? Well, we can all look no further than a click away:
It is so simple! Create an account (for FREE). Upload your contacts. Pick your cards.
The cards to choose from are incredible! I was amazed at the selection and quality online. Then I wondered – would the cards look as nice in person? So, I chose this cute card for my little darling’s upcoming 1st Birthday:
It was actually far more beautiful in person than on the computer screen – thick paper, rich colors, glossy finish. And enclosed with the card is a lovely sheet of paper including who the card is for and the address to send it to (or they will address it for you)! The only downside? (A) I thought they used too much paper to protect the card – luckily my oldest is using it for art; and (B) I haven’t noticed a place on the site that saves the cards previously chosen.
Tuesday is usually all about the projects I’m tackling. Instead, I am sharing with you today what I tackle on a daily basis.
Toys are everywhere during the day. I put them away time and time again, but they end up all over the floor once again. I am trying to teach the baby the “Clean Up” song (and action). One of these days it will catch on.
We have a little routine every morning: We take our time waking up, hanging out in bed chatting to one another. Usually we go through the “Where is your hair? Where is Mommy’s hair? Where is your nose? …” (you get the point) routine. It is seemingly never tiring for her to point to her parts and mine. After this, we get out of bed, wash our faces (it is really cute to watch her mimic me with her own washcloth), and head downstairs. She plays quietly while I make coffee and her breakfast. I catch up on email while sipping coffee sitting at the table next to her.
After breakfast we head to the floor for playtime. Really, this is learning time for both of us. I get to observe my smart little baby – to try to figure out how her little mind is processing everything. She learns shapes, colors, hand-eye coordination, and of course nursery rhymes. We do this for over an hour. By this time, a temper tantrum ensues from fatigue and I’ve learned the best way to deal with it is to just stand up and walk away. She is learning that her behavior isn’t ok. She settles down and gets ready for a nap.
At 11 months old, my little one hums “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and claps during the appropriate time. She does the motions to “Itsy Bitsy Spider”. She dances. She can sort colors. She can place a triangle block in a triangle hole, a circle in a circle, and so on. Is she a genius? No. Smart? Yes.
No TV. No DVD. No bouncy seat. No swing. No activity center. The entire morning is consumed by one-on-one contact with me. My face. My ears. My voice. My hands. I have learned more about my baby and she about me because of this wonderful time together. We have strengthened our bond. This time is precious to me, and I try not to take it for granted. Don’t get me wrong, I have days where I think, “If this kid has 1 more temper tantrum, I’m going to cry”, but I still wouldn’t trade this time for the world.
I worked a “real” job for almost 10 years. It wasn’t what I’d call “fun”. I quit my job in November to start my new job – being a mommy. At the time, our oldest was 7 and I was in the final weeks of pregnancy. Little did I know that I was about to work harder than I ever have.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being a SAHM! But the last few days, my “job” has SUCKED! The baby is teething and I think that something she (or I) ate upset her tummy. So, my 20lb almost 9mo has been fussy, whiny, and clingy. I haven’t been able to put her down without her fussing or crying. Every little thing has upset her. And I am worn out!
Today it seems a little bit better. But for those who don’t think that being a SAHM is work, man I wish I had a video of my last 48 hours. It would change your mind!
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know by now that we have an 8 year old and an 8 month old. We were young when we had our first, but as we neared our 30s we knew we better get to gettin’ if we were going to have another. Then, on my 30th birthday, I went into labor. (Nice way to spend your 30th right?)
We had many fears about spacing the kids so far apart. After all, what do kids that are 7 1/2 years apart have in common? Not much, except their love and adoration for one another. We are constantly amazed at how well these 2 girls get on. They are both in awe of each other and the love between them shows in everything they do together.
We still think we want to add 1 more to the mix. My last pregnancy wasn’t as easy as the first, and labor was about 100 times harder. So, we know that if we are going to try, it shouldn’t be too long. But the idea of being pregnant again? Well, that isn’t so appealing (I’m not one of those that just looooooooooooves being prego). And the baby is beginning her attempts at walking. I can’t imagine chasing a beginning walker around in between bouts of morning sickness.
So the question I pose to you: How far apart do you recommend spacing lil’ ones and why? What worked for you? What didn’t?
I have been trying for a while now to get it all figured out. I thought I could easily blog, sew, knit, crochet, cook, clean, shop, etc. Well, I can’t – at least not to the level that I had hoped. Somehow it all gets screwy! I have still not finished those napkins, that sundress, the baby clothes, the wrap, or the scarf. I haven’t even picked up that crochet ball project. Nor have I done my diaper clutch or the tutorial for this blog! To top it off? Today I decided to try an outdoor farmer’s market that I read about online – I was there, but there was no market! Then I remembered I had to pick up Hubby’s boots from the cobbler. So with fussy baby in tow, I picked the oldest up from school and rushed to the cobbler. I had to get the boots to Hub, so I decided to delay the shopping.
I realize that I have a particularly high-maintenance baby, but how do all you wonderful women get it all done?
Allow me to be perfectly candid with you … last Tuesday, I never got those napkins done. I told myself that I had to, especially since I put it out there for the world-wide-web to hold me accountable. But I still didn’t! I got a little flighty and forgot about the napkins, but I did get something else crossed off my outstanding projects list so I feel like I did get something “tackled”.
What did I actually get accomplished? Well, if you’re following me on Twitter, then you’ve already seen that I finished the pillows (pillow and zippered pillowcase) for my living room chairs. I’ve been meaning to get those done for quite a while now. So, my husband and I are both thrilled to see a project Xed off the long list!
Today I may or may not get anything tackled. There’s a teething baby here wanting to be held or paid attention to 24/7. I’m hoping to get some blinds hung, but I’m pretty sure that this little monkey is not about to let that happen. So the actual goal for this Tackle-it Tuesday? Tackle being a good mom while attempting to keep up with the daily house duties. After that, we will see what gets accomplished. But I’m learning that its ok not to set lofty goals all the time – sometimes you just have to say to yourself “I’m going to bust my ass at being the best mom I can be and that is enough of a goal for today.”