Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, January 28, 2013

Eye Droppers

One of our favorite fine motor activities is using eye droppers . We have a couple of different ways we use them.

Here you can see the kids have a few different colors of water and are dripping them onto coffee filters. Once these dry, they make pretty circles to hang up. 


  In addition to how great this is for building fine motor skills, this also offers the opportunity to experiment and talk about why the water spreads. The water spreads on the flat parts first, but slowly it will climb up the higher parts. I love when I can add in a little Science to an art project. We were also able to talk about what happens when the colors meet and start mixing.

Another fun activity that I borrowed from their Montessori school is moving all of the water from one small container to the other. These are small bowls and while at school they use glass, these are plastic. The kids may be great at taking care of their equipment, but Mommy is a klutz and tends to break or get hurt with glass. This takes a lot of patience and really builds those finger muscles that will later be important for writing, typing, playing piano, using chopsticks, and many other things in life.


These red trays are great. I got them at IKEA when they were on sale for 1/2 of their regular price. The kids can open and close them and they are the perfect height for doing art work over the tile. At the top they have two circles for cups (or for marker lids) and one long tray that we use for markers/crayons so they aren't rolling over the kids paper.

I also have visions of eating breakfast in bed on one of these trays, but since I refuse to get up and make breakfast before getting back in bed I don't think it will happen. haha

Friday, January 25, 2013

Winter Zoo Trip


Here's a great travel tip: The best time to visit the zoo is, of course, winter. The animals are out and active and the humans stay home so it's not crowded! This may not apply if you live in a really cold area, but visiting our zoo in the Summer when it's over 100F outside is awful and yet, that's when it's the most crowded.

Normally the giraffes only get this close if you have food. We are too cheap to buy the food, but without the crowds the animals are just happy to see people.

This animal is so cute we ended up taking him home. haha

We went walking along the giraffe area and they were following us. Sweet daughter was convinced it's because they wanted to play with her. She didn't understand why we wouldn't just set her on the other side of the fence.

Did I mention other people stay home when it's cold? It's wonderful! The kids can run in front of us without getting lost in a crowd, we can buy lunch without waiting in a line, and it's just more fun to feel like you are on a private tour of the zoo.

Yes, this is an elephant rump. If you hit it firmly you can hear different calls elephants make. Normally this attraction is so crowded my kids don't get a turn, but in the winter they can play for as long as they would like.

Monday, January 21, 2013


We went to the library and I checked out 3 books about Martin Luther King Jr. The first two are simple stories about his life and the holiday. The third book is an illustrated text of the "I have a dream" speech. I read all 3 to both kids. They happily listened to the first two and for the third sweet daughter sat by me while sweet son was wandering around the room, but still listening.

After I finished, I looked at them and ask, "Did you understand any of that?" Sweet son said, "I have a dream. Free at last." Sweet daughter said, "That man wants me to hold hands with E, but I like to hug him." (E is one of her friends from school who is black.)

Holy cow. I'm impressed.

 At school, sweet daughter's teacher was telling the kids it was MLK day. The teacher said, "Does anyone know who Martin Luther King is?" Sweet daughter spoke up and said, "No, it's Martin Luther King JUNIOR." Her teacher loved this but said she never expected to be corrected by a two year old white girl. haha

Friday, January 18, 2013

Calendar Songs

As I mentioned in my circle time post, we sing a lot of songs to teach concepts. Here are videos of my kids singing two of our calendar songs.

Here my kids are singing the Days of the Week.

Here my kids are singing about the months. In case you don't understand the words, I've posted them below.

"January is the first,
February's hear might burst,
March right on till April's here,
May and June you're half way there,
lots of swimming in July,
don't let August pass you by,
September sees the start of school,
October can be very cool,
then November comes our way,
in December we can say,
one whole year has come and gone,
now we know the 12 month song."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Lightning Fast Language Giveaway

I was given a copy of Lightning Fast Italian For Kids and Families.

After reading it and trying it with my family for a little over a week, I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised. The theory behind it is solid. Using the language as part of your daily life is much more effective than taking a class or trying to learn it through more traditional lessons.

My first impression of the book was mixed. I read the introduction which explains that, other than the review chapter, the rest can be done in any order you want. The chapters are easy to fit into your daily schedule with topics like "Getting Dressed" "What's for breakfast?" "My toys" and "A walk outside." I was excited to try it out immediately, but then my children reminded me they still expected dinner.

After making dinner, we were sitting around the table and I opened the book to the "Time for Dinner!" chapter. The preparation for this conversation tells us we should have prepared a dinner with several choices including pizza and pasta al pomodoro. I looked around our table and realized this wasn't going to work.

The next day I started over and decided to try some of the other conversations. Asking my kids in Italian if they had brushed their teeth, were wearing pants, and if they played outside at school, initially caused confusion and concerned looks from my children. By the next day, they were catching on and answering my questions correctly. By the end of the week, I had stopped using any sign language with the Italian and they still understood. We increased our vocabulary and even my husband got in on it - though he preferred words that are the same in English and Italian.

The pros: It really is fast and easy to use in daily life. It is a very natural way to learn a language. I like how well it it arranged and that I don't feel pressure to prep for each lesson (we still haven't made pasta al pomodoro for dinner). Every word is listed phonetically every time, so I'm not expected to remember it from previous conversations.

The cons: I want more pictures in the book. It doesn't change the content, but would make it more fun. There are a few errors ("yeelllow"), but they don't take away from your understanding. My biggest complaint is that it doesn't say where the emphasis goes on each word. I don't speak Italian, though we have a few CDs that are in Italian, so for most of it I had no context for how it should sound.

Would you like to try learning a language the Lightning Fast way? Just enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 14, 2013

Quality Time

 Everyone knows the importance of spending quality time with your kids. Time when you are enjoying their company and not just doing chores/errands/boring adult stuff. I've heard many parents complain that it's difficult to schedule quality time because of everything they have to do. We try to involve the kids in everything we do, from cooking to car repair.

Here my husband is working on his car. In order to make this a family activity, we got out the kids tool box and their cars. You can see both kids diligently fixing their cars near Daddy. They would often trade for a new tool when he did as well. 

We also alter our schedules to get in quality time. Each child attends a Montessori program 3 mornings a week. Sweet daughter goes M,T,W and sweet son goes T,W,Th. This means on Mondays sweet son gets a "Mommy Day" and the same goes for sweet daughter on Thursdays. This is a morning they get to choose what we do and get my undivided attention. Something that doesn't happen very often for twins. Usually sweet son wants to "play with toys, no share Sister" while sweet daughter wants to go shopping (grocery). 

Sweet son informed me one day of what he wants to do on his next Mommy day. He wants to ride in a passenger car, go over a trestle that's high in the air, go through a tunnel that is dark inside, and see a locomotive that's black. um... Specific much? No, I didn't find a way to make that happen on a Monday morning, but we did make that happen a few months later in a much more exciting way.

Friday, January 11, 2013


We spend a lot of time working on puzzles around here and it's good to have variety. In addition to the more traditional puzzles, here are some of our favorites.


These are called pattern blocks. We have a couple of different sets. The set you see abovehas foam pieces and many different pattern cards. My favorite setis magnetic, but comes with fewer pattern cards. We also use the pieces from each set for sorting by color, shape, and size.

Not a typical puzzle, but with different types of locksit keeps sweet son entertained for long periods of time. If you have a child who likes to open child locks this is a puzzle they will love, but it will only increase their skill, so be warned.

This is a Montessori inspired puzzle. The pieces fit in multiple places and the child tries to arrange them by height. This is one of sweet daughter's favorite puzzles. You can see in this picture and the one before it that the kids are doing puzzles on their "work mats" which is another Montessori concept. When they are doing work on their mats they must put it away before they get something else because otherwise there isn't room. It has helped keep our playroom much cleaner and everyone is happier.

I know I've posted this puzzle together and in the process of being assembled. Floor puzzles are always more fun and this is sweet son's favorite. We do have a few other floor puzzles - a farm and the Lorax - that get used regularly, but still not as often as this one.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Sweet daughter singing in the back seat, "You are my sunshine. My only sunshine. I make you frustrated because I scream inside. You'll never know dear how much I LOVE YOU Mama. Please don't take my toys away." She actually made it all fit exactly in the phrasing of the song. I can't say the melody fit because her range is all of 2-3 notes so no song sounds right, but you get the idea.

Sweet Son brushing my hair

Sweet Son in the living room, "I put my feet on the couch so I can fall on my head. It's ok. I'll be careful, only hurt Sister, not me."

I made a deal with the kids. If they take a good nap then we cook in the afternoons. So far this week we have made homemade granola bars (yum) and egg salad. They like the egg salad the best. I'm just happy they slept 2/5 days so far this week! Hopefully this continues to work.

Making two batches of granola bars

My kids now drink out of cups without lids (other than overnight). This afternoon Sweet Son spilled his water. He looked down and said, "I need paper towel to clean it up, Mama." I'm so happy he didn't even think it was an option for me to clean up his mess.

Sweet Son asked for a baby like Jake's. Jake is a friend from his class and has an 11 month old baby sister. After a short pause he added, "or an alligator." hahahahahaha

 Just being cute

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Tale of 2 Beds - Part 5

In case you missed them, go back and read the Tale of 2 Beds Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

You would think after giving very specific directions (part 2), removing all of the furniture (including bed frames in part 3) and duct taping their diapers (part 4), my kids would run out of ways to get in trouble. Did I mention my kids have amazing problem solving skills? UGH!

Here my kids have stacked their mattresses and are sitting on them. In the corner of the photo you can see the closet door with the child proof lock on it. This will be important for later.

Here I opened the door to take a photo without warning. That's why sweet daughter is flying through the air onto her mattress (which isn't supposed to go by the window). This does give you a good idea of just how high the window is, which will come into play in a future Tale of 2 Beds.

This is what happened when the kids finally figured out how to open the childproof lock on the closet door. Inside the closet we had a set of cheap white shelves with blankets, extra sheets, other bedding type things on them.

Above the shelves is the bar for hanging clothes with a permanent shelf above that. I'm not tall enough to reach things on that shelf for perspective. On that shelf we were storing a couple of empty boxes, the blinds we took down from their room, and other random hardware (from their bed frames for example). 

I'm guessing they climbed up the shelves to get everything else down, but I'm not sure how the shelves held the kids up. These are not sturdy shelves and were positioned so if they fell they would fall out of the closet. After this mess, which I made the kids clean up by themselves, we removed the shelves and almost everything from the closet. Now in addition to the empty room, they have an empty closet.
A Tale of Two Beds - Part 6

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Best Toy Ever

Take one box, cut a door and a window. Let the kids go wild!

The box lasted for just over a month before it was completely ruined and recycled.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Ok, this may require a few words of explanation. There are no kids in the post, but there is a very clear map explaining how to view this exhibit in Birmingham. If you look closely you will see that the instructions say to start with wall 1, then walk to wall 2, continuing on to wall 3, and finishing at wall 4. This room was maybe 6ft by 8ft, so not exactly a huge room. Without these instructions and the map of how to proceed you might get lost. I am a rule follower and always check the map.

Travel Tip: Maps aren't just for driving. hahahaha

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Review

I started this blog in January 2011, so this is the perfect time to see how far I've come in the last two years.

In 2011 my monthly page views ranged from 196-579.
In 2012 my monthly page views ranged from 436-2,653.

Seems like a huge improvement to me. Welcome to all the "new" readers of my blog.

While most of my readers come from the United States (where I'm based), I'm thrilled to have large numbers of readers from United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Russia, France, India, Germany, China, and South Africa. I even have a few visitors from Israel, Sweden, Netherlands, Malaysia, New Zealand, Cayman Islands, and many other countries.

While most of the searches that lead to my page are about twins, parenting, or pregnancy, I'm amused that my 4th highest referral search is for a homemade zamboni. I am nothing if not a zamboni expert... um, not.

I had 47 blog posts in 2011 and an amazing 103 in 2012. This has gotten the blog some attention from advertisers and people wanting to do giveaways. Most I have rejected because they aren't a good fit for me or the blog. A few I have agreed to, which explains the giveaway for a DVD, different Activision video games, and a couple of books. I'm already working on more giveaways in 2013. I have yet to make money on this blog - I also haven't spent any money on this blog. That should change in 2013 with a few deals I'm working on. You might see more advertising on here and/or on the facebook page, but I promise that will be in addition to the normal content, not replacing it. I love being a stay at home mom, but I get paid in hugs. It's really awkward to try buying things at the store with hugs, so I hope you will stick with me as I work on finding a balance.

There will be some big stories coming up on this blog in 2013. The Tale of Two Beds will continue (ugh, I'm ready for this to end). Remember the post about our 7 trips in the kids 1st year? Everyone thought we were crazy. Just wait till you read about us taking twin two year olds to Italy, Poland, and Germany. That trip includes planes, trains, boats, cars, buses, trolleys, and more. We now know all the tricks to traveling with two year olds.

Here's to a great 2013 for all of my readers. I hope this year you smile more. I will have more posts with strange and funny things my kids say to help you meet this goal.