File this under: Things found while cleaning the house.

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Sometimes I’m cleaning up around the house and I find stuff like this lying around and I’m torn between “Geez, does anyone even clean up after themselves…” and “Wait? What? What even is this?” and sometimes “Are my children brilliant and way more funny and interesting than I am?” and then “Do you think I’m qualified to be a buffet taste tester? How much do you think it pays? Maybe I should call.

And then I find stuff like this:

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And I’m just wondering how long it will be until I’m posting bail for these two.

A Snapshot of the School Year So Far

The kids’ school pictures came in the other day and I cannot stop staring at them. When I was a kid, I feel like most school pictures looked pretty terrible and awkward. Or maybe that was just me? This is not the case these days, at least at my kids’ school. The photographer s so freaking talented and  had the genius idea of taking the pictures outside in natural lighting. Life changing stuff.

Anyway, I thought I’d share their pictures and tell you a little bit about what they are doing in school because I know you guys are deeply invested in the lives of my children like that.

My daughter, BB, started fourth grade this year. In a lot of ways, she’s still my little girly who loves cuddles and thinks I’m basically the coolest person ever. She still loves it when I walk to class with her and is always hoping I’ll be volunteering in the class that day.

She is getting more and more grown up though also.  She loves extra credit reports for fun. Sometimes she asks me to take her to the library to check out a handful of books about seahorses or otters so that she can make a report for her teacher for fun. I can’t wrap my mind around this but I’m not going to tell her no.

Some highlights from the school year so far: This month her class read Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink together. They took a field trip to a golf course where they learned how to play foot golf – a cross between soccer and golf. They did science experiments on paper towels to see which ones were the most absorbent. She’s continuing piano lessons this year and turning into a real piano Rockstar. Next month she will be joining the school’s Spirit Squad.

A letter from BB about her class’s paper towel experiments

MM started 7th grade this year which feels impossible basically. How are there only two years left until high school? Can someone check my math and confirm? Also how is my kid almost as tall as me now?

Seventh grade is very different from fourth. I basically never volunteer directly in his classroom and I think he’s probably good with that. Don’t get me wrong – we’re buddies at home. But he appreciates that separation between home life and class life. I’m mostly okay with this.

This month his class read Day of Tears by Julius Lester. They have been learning about the civil war and a bunch of other stuff that I don’t hear much about because he’s self sufficient in the homework department these days. He is participating in Forensics after school which has nothing to do with studying bones apparently and is more like public speaking. He’s working on reciting a passage from Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins, which is basically his favorite book. Add to this karate classes three times a week and piano lessons on Tuesdays and my kid is one busy bee!

Want to take a serious walk down memory lane? Here are some school pictures from years past.

 

Getting to Know BB, Age 8

And now, an interview with BB, age 8, after interrupting her YouTube video time.

One word to describe you would be creative.

What do you like to do for fun? Um… I like to do arts & crafts. I like painting and other messy arts.

Why do you like being a kid? It helps with my creative mind. As a kid, I get more time to explore & have fun & get ideas for new creative things.

Tell me about your favorite book? What are you reading right now? I have a book about a girl named Tenney. She’s twelve years old and has a family band. She loves to play the guitar.

If you had three wishes, what would they be? To have magic. To have a dress that’s kind of tight but not too tight…. And that’s all.

What would be your dream vacation? Going to California. I want to try new things like different foods and activities.

Do you have a favorite tv show or movie? There’s a YouTube series called Nerdy Nummies. A girl named Roseanna shows kids how to make fun themed foods.

What do you think you’d like to be when you grow up? Hmmm…. maybe a hair stylist? I’m really good with hair styles. I know a bunch.

Describe your dream meal. Pancakes with pieces of strawberry in it, with some strawberry syrup and a side of strawberries. And strawberry juice. And mint chocolate chip & strawberry swirled ice cream.

What kind of music do you like to listen to? Taylor Swift… and Rebecca Loebe who came to our house once! (true story)

What is your favorite thing to do with your friends? I mostly like to do art with them and play games with them. Gentle games like ‘house’!

What advice would you give your parents? Think how you really feel but also think about others.

If you could be any animal, which one would you be and why? A kitten because they are very cute. I’d try and find a way for you not to be allergic to me, mom, so that I could still be with you.

Then and Now: Deep Questions To Ask Your Kids.

So about this time four years ago I asked the kids a bunch of super deep questions about life and shared them with you. I thought I’d ask the kids the same questions today and see how their answers changed and share my findings.

2013 | 2017

Back in 2013 the kids were about 3 1/2 and 7. Those responses are on the left just like the picture above.


Right now the kids are 7 1/2 and 11. Their responses today are on the right hand side, again, like the picture above. Got it?

What is the meaning of life?

BB: um, a sun.
MM: I don’t know, I really don’t know, ok?

BB: hmmm let’s see… god created us and wants us to be saved.
MM: What? I don’t know.

MM still has no idea and no desire to pretend he knows. He’s a realist. BB wanted to tell you GOODDDDD for just about every question but after like the fourth question I told her she needed more variety in life.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

BB: Cinderella
MM: an actor of Doctor Who

BB: I want to be a jewelry maker.
MM: um a video game tester

I’m not sure either kid has career aspirations that will allow me to live in the comfort that I’d like to become accustomed to. Oh well.

What brings you the most happiness?

BB: my brother
MM: well, my favorite thing is Doctor Who, so that’s what I would say.

BB: you (while hugging me)
MM: Skyrim

These answers pretty much sum up my life right now.

When do you feel the most loved?

BB: Sunday
MM: when I’m with everybody.

BB: Really, I ALWAYS feel the most loved.
MM: when you hug me

I’m happy to hear that my daughter feels loved on ALL the days of the week now. Also awww.

What are you afraid of?

BB: those scary birds, the scary ones and they were black…
MM: nothing really. At least I don’t think I’m afraid of anything.

BB: The dark
MM: a world without books

MM is a boy after my own heart. BB has forgotten all about the birds.

If you had one wish, what would you wish for?

BB: um, a telephone.
MM: Doctor Who to be real.

BB: That the pool in swimming lessons would be much warmer than it is.
MM: longer days

We leave for swim lessons like any minute now and clearly BB is hoping for warmer water. MM just wants a later bed time or more time to play video games. Priorities.

What is the funniest word?

BB: button… button.
MM: I don’t know…. plethora – it means a lot of something.

BB: The word “who” because sometimes it’s “who” and sometimes it’s “hoo”
MM: abdomen, I think it’s kind of funny

My kids still have no idea what funny means.

What is the hardest/easiest thing to do?

BB: a present giving up / getting excited.
MM: to make a tent upstairs / to read a chapter book

BB: swim / use my kindle
MM: social studies / creative mode minecraft

These answers are boring but accurate.

What is the best/worst thing in the world?

BB: a present with a doll in it / um… a ring.
MM: The best thing in the world? Wow – sun. / I think that is rain.

BB: my BFFs / my enemies I guess?
MM: YOU! / I don’t know.

I have no idea who my daughters enemies are but apparently they are the worst thing in the world. MM has never encountered the worst thing in the world but I guess it isn’t rain anymore.

What makes you mad?

BB: a computer (I swear she’s just looking around the office and naming things)
MM: sometimes when I don’t get my way, that’s one thing.

BB: when something is really hard and frustrating
MM: sometimes my sister storms out of the room.

I think my kids only understand anger when they are feeling it. They were totally at a loss here.

What is the meaning of love?

BB: a heart
MM: well, it means that you really like something.

BB: hope
MM: happiness

This. All of this.

If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it?

BB: I would… buy something.
MM: Huh… I would buy a lot of things…

BB: I would buy jewelry and a bunch of dress up clothes that I love.
MM: Like infinite money?? I would buy a lot of stuff, I would buy a mansion and a dog that does not bark. I would become Tony Stark and I would have a lot of nice food.

Neither of them offered to buy me anything. I don’t know how I feel about that.

Let me know if you and your kids play along!

5 Science Experiments and Videos to share with your kids!

My kids are officially on summer vacation and to prevent screen time overload brain mushiness, I nerded my heart out last month and concocted a summer plan of learning. It’s more of an outline than an actual concrete plan. Because each day and week of our summer will look different than the one before, I simply came up with a list of themes that will shape each week.

To decide on the themes that would most interest the kids, I had them write down things they wanted to learn more about on the whiteboard in our dining room. I noticed a lot of countries and landmarks written down with a few other topics like science experiments and astronomy. So the majority of our weeks will revolve around the wanderlust my kids seemed to inherit from me but THIS week we are learning about SCIENCE.

What does that actually mean? Well first I went to Pinterest and rounded up a handful of science experiments that I can do with the kids that are basically free and not so messy or complicated that it will end with me crying into a pile of paper towels. Things like:

mixing oil and water, making gummy worms dance, the disappearing egg shell, turning milk into plastic and making a fidget spinner using cardboard and pennies

Next I went to youtube and searched for videos of cool science experiments, creating my own playlist so that I could easily keep all my good finds organized. You can find my entire playlist here. Some of my kids’ favorites were:

My seven year old is officially hooked on the SciShow Kids video series. This video about cleaning a penny with things like ketchup or soda fascinated her.

Incredible Science is a good bet for older kids. We watched several of his videos and they have the shock and awe factor down and plenty of cool things to learn, too. My kids were particularly impressed with the shaving cream / food coloring rainstorm in a bottle.

I love the SloMo Guys – gorgeous videos that will appeal to fans of science, fans of filmography or even just fans of things blowing up in slow motion i.e. all of us. Watching a CD shatter at 170,000FPS was enjoyed by all.

So we love watching things spin and explode and since we have two young kids in the house we know all about the fidget spinner craze. What could be more cathartic than watching fidget spinners explode? This was a fun video although we had a tough time understanding their awesome accents sometimes, the video speaks for itself.

Maybe you’ve already seen this awesome video of Station Commander Chris Hadfield sharing science in space. If you haven’t, it’s definitely worth a watch. Hadfield is a pretty awesome guy and his videos are always amusing. Plus now we get to combine science and space in one video! Extra credit, right?

So how else will we round out our week of science fun? Well we’re looking for science books, tv shows and movies when we indulge in some R&R and just generally being inquisitive as we go about our days. I think you’ll find that anytime you spend a good amount of time thinking about any topic, you will find that it pops up everywhere you go.

Any other favorite science videos or experiments that we should add to our list?

Here’s What 1st & 2nd Graders Are Reading.

1st2ndreadingSomething you might not know about me: I’ve been volunteering at my kids’ school this year as the 1st / 2nd Grade Librarian. Woah, I know. That sounds like a big job. Don’t worry, it’s a tiny private school so we’re talking about 16 children.

Something you probably do know about me: I love reading and I have a tendency to recommend books to everyone. It breaks my heart when my kids ignore a book recommendation because “Ew, mom recommended it. It’s probably lame.” When everyone knows I have excellent taste in books and I put a lot of thought into my recommendations.

But I get it. I was a kid once, too. I ignored book recommendations all the time because I was terribly busy consuming every Babysitter’s Club book ever written (and boy were there a lot of them!)

Anyway, every Monday I read the kids a story and then help them find a book to bring home. Sometimes they want my help, sometimes they don’t. After about a year of hanging out in the school library, I’ve gotten to notice some trends – a lot of the same series of books pop up over and over. I thought I’d take note and share my findings with you in case you have a 1st or 2nd grader of your own that needs a good book to read.

These are the books that consistently get checked out and devoured by the 1st and 2nd graders at our school:

51dXn5iTpvLThe Unofficial Gamer’s Adventure Series (i.e. THEY HAVE MINECRAFT BOOKS!?!?): We just got these in this year and the kids are obsessed with them. These are a good bet for any kid reading small chapter books – and older kids that love Minecraft will probably enjoy them, too. These aren’t the Minecraft tutorial books, but actual stories written within the Minecraft universe. And there are several variations on this idea – go into any book store or book aisle and you’ll find some.

61dDfZUlpuL._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_Geronimo Stilton: You’ve probably heard of these books, at least in passing. It’s a cute series great for kids just getting into chapter books. The kids I read to love books about animals – some other great options include the Animal Ark series, The Puppy Place series and the Mercy Watson books.

51ttDHumHHL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_The Rainbow Magic series is massive and insanely popular at our school. There are a bazillion different types of fairies and the girls love looking for a fairy with their name or a name of someone they know. It’s a very time consuming search. These are great for your kids just dipping their toe into the chapter book universe.

61JEW68FtyL._SX346_BO1,204,203,200_When your kiddo is ready to try something a little longer, check out the American Girl books and The Babysitter’s Club which is making a comeback thanks to the Graphic Novel versions of some of the first few books in the series. (If your kiddo is interested in these books but having a hard time with the size, try the BSC Little Sister series or the new Wellie Wishers American Girl series.)

51se0cN2C4LFor the kids that are really into the graphic novel / lots of illustrations book life: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate and Captain Underpants continue to be a force to be reckoned with. They also love pouring over old Calvin and Hobbes books.

51N7ZWBubnLSome other oldies but goodies that go over well are the Magic Tree House (for the earlier chapter book kids) and Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events (for the big readers).

61X+b-tbMpL._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_The Eyewitness Books by DK are also extremely popular. No matter what your kid is interested in, DK seems to have a giant book all about it. The kids I read to spend a lot of time pouring over these books. They are an especially nice choice for kids who have kind of outgrown picture books but don’t have the patience for chapter books yet.

What are your kids reading these days?