Some More Eggucational Activities

Compiling the eggceptional list  of eggucational activities really got me brainstorming. Here are the descriptions of my personal additions!

Babies:

Pick an egg, say the animal sound and have the child choose the picture of the animal that says that sound.

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Toddlers:

Match the beginning letter sound with the picture.

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Preschoolers:

Match the geometric shape with the number of sides.

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Match the picture with the word.

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Work on division skills by sharing eggs equally amongst a specified number of people. Work on classification by sorting eggs by color and graphing the results.

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Find rhyming words and put them together. Extend this activity by asking them to add another rhyming word to the pair. IMG_2531

Primary Grades K-2

Match the shape with the correct name. Incorporate a variety of geometry terms such as acute angle, line, vertices, etc.

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Intermediate Grades 3-5

Match Equivalent Fractions

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Match a mixture of decimals, percentages and fractions. This is an incredibly valuable skill in the “real world”!

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Really challenge them by doing this mixed math activity. It can be adapted to any academic level and really gets them thinking in different ways.IMG_2570

Help reinforce memorization of states and capitals.  IMG_2522

Make big numbers by placing varying digits on each egg half. Have students grab any 2 halves and put the egg together to create a new number.  Have them write the number out, emphasizing proper comma placement and then read the number aloud. You can even make it into a game by seeing who can make the highest number.

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Middle And High School

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Here is a list of ideas for middle and high schoolers:

  • Balancing chemical equations
  • Inventors and inventions
  • Famous literary quotes
  • Bible Verses
  • Sports teams and mascots
  • metric conversions (cm, mm, dm)
  • foreign language vocabulary

Please add any other eggcellent ideas you come across. Be sure to #strollersavvy!

Why Children Should Color Outside the Lines

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A dear cousin gave Jake this beautiful piece of art when he was born. We promptly hung it in his room.

Fast forward 4 years to this St. Patrick’s Day craft we were doing.  Jake spent a lot of time working on his project, putting the colors in rainbow order. He would add a few dots in different spots “for creativity”, and I was cool with that.

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Then I ran upstairs to get the babies, came back down and found this:

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At first I was very upset.  His picture looked so good and now he had ruined it. (Shamefully, in the back of my mind I was thinking “ugggh, I was planning to post this picture on the blog!”)  I started to yell at him, then I looked at his face. Full of wide-eyed innocence he said “I was seeing what happens when I mixed it all up” with such pride in his voice.  After all, we do LOVE the book Mix It Up!

I took a step back and the words “color outside the lines” kept flashing in my mind.  I had a choice- berate him because his art didn’t look like the cookie-cutter example, while squashing his creativity, diminishing his confidence (he is a perfectionist, so this risk he took was HUGE), and quelling his curiosity OR smile, tell him I loved all of the colors he used and proceed with a science experiment on how long it will take to dry. (For the record, he immediately deduced that we should put it outside to dry faster. Furthermore, I neglected to put paper under it, left it in the rain, and now have a green-stained deck, but that’s beside the point.)

This simple project meant as a holiday decoration reminded me of all of the the things I want for my son.

I want him to take risks and be unafraid of failure.

I want him to to express his creativity and individuality without pressure to conform.

I want him to think outside the box without repercussion.

I want him to be spontaneous and have fun without holding back.

I want him to try new things without the constraints of perfectionism.

I want him to act with passion not restriction.

In the end, it was a lesson learned for all. He gained valuable art, science, fine motor, and personal growth experience, and I learned to let go of preconceived notions and just let him be.

Life doesn’t have to fit neatly between the lines. Color it any way you want!

P.S.   I still despise paint and did not enjoy the mess, but it is so very worth it.

The #1 Way to Turn Your Luck Around

In this picture you see the joy, the smiles, the love.

What you don’t see is the job loss, the financial troubles, the marital stress, the difficult decisions, the  grief, the day to day exhaustion, the anxiety, the guilt.

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It is so easy to judge others, to make assumptions. You wouldn’t know it from meeting me, but if we were in a “when bad things happen to good people” contest, I would be right up there on the podium. Suffice it to say that  I have been unlucky enough that at my Grandma’s funeral the man of God delivering the eulogy literally said “no offense, but if there is lightning outside at the burial, I will not stand next to you”. Awesome, right?

That negative man would be hard-pressed to believe that the smiling people in the picture are legitimately happy. We don’t hide our realities from anyone; we just don’t let them define us. Here’s the reality: Life is tough. Everyone has their burdens. But if you are blinded by the negativity, it is nearly impossible to see all of the incredible things that life really does have to offer.

Yes, last year was a very challenging year for us, but we were HAPPY!  How couldn’t we be? It was an amazing year!

Hubby’s company folded right after the twins were born…  and together we were able to witness all of the incredible stages the first year brings- first smiles, foods, rolling, crawling, walking, first words, bonding, wonder, amazement.

We struggled financially…but the kids didn’t know it! They loved spending time with us, they loved each other. They showed us what was most important. We tightened our already frugal budget and anytime we felt “too cramped” in our house all we had to do was look around and see how happy they were.

We were exhausted and stressed…  and our exuberant 3-year-old made us laugh every single day. He amazed us with his budding reading and math skills, his tender heart, and his relentless joy for life.

We mourned the loss of three close family members… we stepped back to soak in the positive memories, thankful that we at least had those. We were able to see many of our out-of-state relatives. We remembered to cherish the short time we have on earth.

We learned some harsh realities about who our true friends and family are… and we embraced those that mattered. Together we celebrated marriages and baby announcements and knew who we could count on.

Our marriage took a toll… and we pushed each other to seek out the good, recognize that it was a challenging time, and fight for our relationship.

We felt stuck and had wanted to move for years… and we accepted the challenge to move across the country ready for a fresh start and a blank slate.

We sold our house, we bought a new one.

It is easy to see how we could have thrown a pity party much of last year, but look at all that we would have missed out on!  Rather than feel sorry for ourselves or let it consume us, we chose to see the positives.  With the right mindset, we were able to keep faith that everything would work out how it was meant to.

Trust me, positivity didn’t always come easily to me. I used to be overly critical, judgmental, and downright negative. I envied people who let things slide off their backs and had faith that things would work out. I thought everyone else’s life was so much easier than mine.  One day I made the conscious decision to change that, and with practice it has now become who I am.

I am not going to get all “Law of Attraction” or “The Secret” on you, but I will say this: Once Hubby and I made the effort to seek out the positives, more and more good things shone through (we even won a trip!). Having a positive attitude gives you faith in life, in others, in yourself. It helps you see there is light at the end of the tunnel and to recognize that setbacks are just that- setbacks.

Having a positive attitude gives  you faith in life, in others, in yourself.

The #1 strategy that helped me turn my negative thinking around was this simple practice:

Each night, before going to sleep, name 5 things that you are thankful for. 

Initially, it may start out totally forced. You may be grasping for straws-  thankful for air to breathe, food to eat, a roof over your head. Soon it becomes second nature and you will find that you are able to see the positives in any situation.

You will gravitate towards other positive people and your whole outlook will change.

You will be motivated to chase your dreams and seek out what makes you happy.

You will quickly see how lucky you really are!

Right-side UP

Stroller Savvy I am

       Today is Theodor Seuss Geisel‘s Birthday. A beloved children’s author, celebrated by many, I thought we should join in on the fun. Having been sick all weekend, it was as basic and make-shift as could be. My childrens’ joy in this simple effort proved to me, yet again, that these gestures don’t have to be elaborate and can still be just as special.

       Last night, when I told my four-year-old that we were going to have a birthday party for Dr. Suess in the morning he got so excited. I explained that we were going to make green eggs for the celebration and since he loves to help, he asked how we were going to do that. After telling him we were going to use kale and spinach, a look of dismay came across his face. This angst was NOT because of the ingredients (we eat them all the time)-  rather it was because he couldn’t understand why we weren’t invited to the real party! (I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Dr. Suess passed away 24 years ago, or that even if he was living we most likely wouldn’t have been invited anyways.)

      There was a time when in order to make green eggs and ham I would have busted out the food coloring in order to dye them the correct hue. However, with our healthy eating lifestyle, I knew there had to be a better option. Thanks to one of my favorite blogs by Lisa Leake, I came across this easy nutritious recipe.  Fortunately we always have spinach or kale in our fridge and freezer (a daily staple in our smoothies). I didn’t have an onion so I subbed in garlic and omitted the butter. It was so incredibly simple- took no longer than it would have  to make our usual smoothie or scrambled eggs- and it was delicious!

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         As for the rest of the party, I quickly thawed out some frozen strawberries, sliced up a banana, and stacked them to make Dr. Suess hats. My son and I gathered some of our favorite Dr. Seuss books and together we read aloud as we ate our yummy, wholesome breakfast.

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          Never has a party been that simple and nutritious!

So in summary:                  

                                                           It’s Dr. Suess’s Birthday, so you say.                                                                                                              We weren’t invited, but had a party anyway!

                                                       We keep fresh produce in the house.                                                                We do not welcome any mouse.

                                                               We did not have any ham.                                                                          Certainly not Spam in a can.

                                                      So we made green eggs and party hats.                                                                                                          We read his books and laughed and laughed.

                                                          We read, we ate, we had fun.                                                                                                                                  A great healthy party for everyone.

                                                   We do so love green eggs and ham,                                                                                                                     Time to clean up- Stroller Savvy, I am 🙂

Even the most discerning firefighter loved it!

Even the most discerning firefighter loved it!

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The babies even joined in on the fun!

Tons of Fun

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We completed our first DIY project in our new house, proving that even the unartistically inclined can create something pretty sweet. Since our babies didn’t have their own room in our old house, we decided to start our home improvements with making their nursery a priority. We broke the project into multiple steps over several days. It was a ton of work, but it didn’t feel like it because it was a ton of fun.

I searched Pinterest for inspiration, but in the end we designed this one ourselves. Since we didn’t copy another pin and had no instructions to follow, it counts as 3 points on the challenge.  (For more information, click here.) Here I will share the steps we took so that you can personalize and adapt your own dressers for any room in your house!

We started off with an old dresser that we received from somebody for FREE! It was in decent condition, but as you can see, it needed some work.

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Step 1: Remove the dresser handles. IMG_0593

Step 2: Clean it! We scrubbed and wiped down every nook and cranny to ensure a clean slate both literally and figuratively.

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Step 3: Paint the entire dresser one color. We chose a very light gray- it looks more white, but we decided we were okay with that. We used a rolling brush on the large flat surfaces and a regular rectangular paintbrush to get inside the divots, sides, and harder to reach areas. IMG_0599

Step 4: Paint all of the handles to match. You can skip this step if you plan to replace the handles with new ones (hardware store, Amazon, etc.) IMG_0855

 

Step 5: As everything dried over night, we focused on our design. This is a multi-step process:

  1. Choose an image. We used Google Images to find one that we liked.
  2. Download the image to your computer.
  3. Open a new canvas in photo shop. We made ours 20 x 20.
  4. Create a “new layer” in Photoshop and paste the image. Your image will appear very small. Transform/cut/adjust the image to fill the entire canvas.
  5. Save your new image as a pdf.
  6. Open your pdf. in Adobe reader.
  7. Click on File, Print, and select “poster size”. This will print the image over multiple pages out of your printer.
  8. Cut out the individual pieces and tape them together to create a large 20 x 20 image.
  9. Tape this large image to the dresser and use it as a stencil to trace your image.

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Step 6: Reattach the handles.

Step 7: Paint the images. We chose to do pink and blue for our girl/boy twins’ nursery. Be sure to paint the handles as they fit into the image. As you can see, some of our handles are half white, half pink. Do two coats.

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Step 8: Add the details. Since this design was very basic, all we added was an eye. Our giraffe (coming soon) is more in-depth.

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Step 9: Line the drawers. I bought sticky shelf liner on Amazon. It proved much harder to get it to stay flat than I imagined! IMG_0903

Step 10: The piece de’ resistance if you have young children- INSTALL DRAWER LOCKS so the kids stop pulling all of their finally organized clothes out of the drawer!

BONUS: This dresser also doubles as a great changing station for the babies. Attach a changing pad, organize a basket with diapering supplies and you are good to go!

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Stay tuned for the rest of our twins’ nursery DIY projects!

 

If you love them, ask.

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It is no surprise that in light of current events, news feeds are abuzz with articles, debates, strong opinions, and controversies. (Let me be INFINITELY clear that I do not plan to touch those subjects, nor will I allow commentary to turn accusatory or demeaning.) As a firm believer that everyone has a right to their opinions paired with a strong dislike for controversy, I never thought I would even come close to tiptoeing near some of these subjects, but a topic came up in one of my mommy circles that I felt needed to be addressed.

The discussion essentially revolved around the question of how to protect our children from less visible but extremely harmful things without seeming invasive or neurotic? We have all read heart-wrenching stories of children who accidentally shot themselves with unprotected firearms, or kids at a sleepover who died from a carbon-monoxide leak. Of course the measles outbreak is terrifying. Life IS scary. As much as we would like to keep our children in a bubble, we cannot protect them from everything. We can’t control the rest of the world, but there are measures we can take to protect our loved ones just a little bit more.

My response to the initial question is this: what is more important, your pride or having the unimaginable happen because you were too afraid to ask?

But asking is hard. It is awkward, and yes, people might take offense. However, if someone doesn’t want to be friends with my children or me because I asked if their firearms are secured, then I don’t really need to be their friend. Quite frankly, those people probably don’t want to be your friend either because they will find you “annoying” and “over-protective”.

There is a line, and only you as a parent can know where to draw it.

One suggestion was to make a questionnaire. It started with these two questions: 1) Are your children fully vaccinated? 2) Do you have guns in your house? If so, are they locked up?

The more I thought about it, more and more potential dangers popped in my head.

3) Do you lock your medicine cabinet? 4) Do you lock your liquor cabinet? 5) Are your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors working? 6) When kids are playing in the house, do you lock all of the exterior doors?

And then I got really carried away. 7) Do you dumpster dive and is that cake you are serving my child weeks old? There is a line, and only you as a parent can know where to draw it.

You are more than welcome to use these questions as a springboard for a survey or discussion to hold with your child’s friends’ parents (sister’s great uncle three times removed.) Pick and choose what is important to you. Now here’s the truly hard part: what are you going to do with the answers? Keep in mind, they may not be what you personally want to hear. It becomes your responsibility to decide what to do with that information. If your friend doesn’t vaccinate, will you still allow your kids to play with her kids? Will you avoid all public places? For me, there are certain things I am adamant about and others on which I am more flexible. It is truly a personal decision that only you can answer.

Yes, this is still awkward, but hopefully it will soon become the norm. I assure you, parents of children with life-threatening allergies will make their concerns infinitely clear to you and hand you an epi-pen without hesitation. Parents of children with peanut allergies rallied so far as to instigate peanut-free zones, and even entire schools. They have no shame because they are protecting their child. Well guess what? Everyone’s kid has an “allergy” to a misfired bullet. By asking whether their firearms are locked up you are not judging them for having them, but just ensuring your children, and theirs, are protected.

There are so many unknowns in life and as much as we want to, we cannot protect our children from everything.

God Grant Me the
Serenity
To accept the things
I cannot change
the
Courage
to change
the things I can
and the
Wisdom
to know the difference.
-Reinhold Niebuhr

While we cannot force change on other people’s viewpoints, we CAN control who our kids hang out with at a young age with the hopes of guiding them to make good choices when they are older. We CAN begin to normalize the act of asking the questions that are important to us with the hopes of it becoming more commonplace without repercussion or stigma. Above all, YOU can listen to your gut and heart; trust your instincts. When you do both, you are usually doing what is right for you and your family.

What suggestions do you have to help make it acceptable and less intimidating to ask these important questions? What are some other questions we should be asking?