Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What starts with the letter D?

We had lots of fun learning about the letter D.

Our Animal Alphabet friend for the week was a donkey. If you remember from Christmas, Cohen loves donkeys so he was super excited about learning more about them.

We read some about donkeys....and move on to ducks. Our neighbors have been feeding the neighborhood ducks for weeks now, so we just joined them. While feeding the ducks, I made sure to point out how ducks are birds, they have feathers, and a bill, and webbed feet. Cohen just really wanted them to eat the bread.

Things got a little violent...Cohen kept trying to hit the ducks with the bread. Not good.

After all that fun, we went inside for a little duck craft.

He's supposed to have eyes...but we never made it that far. I think he looks very cute!

The next day we learned about dogs. I did not take any pictures of our adventures this day, because we chose to take care of our dogs. We gave them a bath and clipped their fingernails. It was messy and there was never a right moment to pull out the camera. Take my word for it though, Cohen does very good at taking care of his puppies.

We also learned about the dentist and the doctor. We played doctor for a little while.

Everyone knows the first thing the doctor does is weigh you.

Whew...that's a big kid!

Next we practiced brushing teeth.

This actually was a great week to learn about doctors and dentists, because the following week Cohen visited both a doctor (on our way to the beach) and his dentist.

Here is a shot of Cohen in the dentist chair. Check out this to see how he did last year (fear not, we went in February as well, I just didn't take a picture then). He is such a big boy. They took x-rays of his teeth and then took him to clean his teeth. He was AMAZING! Of course his behavior could have been so good because they have TV's on the ceiling playing Monsters Inc.

After all that fun learning about the letter D, we did some practice with patterns using our unifix cubes.

As a special treat this week...I'm also going to give you a list of the books we read this week. Cohen loves books and I love reading to him, so we visit our local library once a week to stock up on all sorts of books.

This week we read the following...

No Dogs Allowed! by Sonia Manzano and Jon J. Muth
Dogs on the Bed by Elizabeth Bluemle
Duck on a Bike by David Shannon
One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root and Jane Chapman
How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Dogs? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
Lyle, Lyle Crocodile: Lyle Walks the Dogs by Bernard Waber and Paulis Waber
Dog and Bear: Two's Company by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Not Afraid of Dogs by Susanna Pitzer and Larry Day
The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen and Bernadette Watts (this is not the actual book we read...Cohen owns a Hans Christian Andersen collection, and we read it from there, but this book would work just as well).
Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Doctor Dan, the Bandage Man (Little Golden Book) by Helen Gaspard and Corinne Malvern
Little Critter: My Trip to the Hospital by Mercer Mayer
Just Going to the Dentist (Little Critter) (Golden Look-Look Books) by Mercer Mayer

Overall it was another great week! Have I mentioned how much I adore this child and LOVE spending my days with him!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Did Cohen ever get his ring pop?


Remember this post?

I've been forgetting to put this on the blog. A few weeks back, Cohen finally earned his last sticker on the obedience chart and got his yummy reward.

He is such a great kid!! I'm so blessed to be able to spend my days with him.

Monday, August 29, 2011

What is a "Celebrate Plate?"

A few weeks ago, my college roommates and I met for our annual girls trip in Shreveport, LA. We went to Shreveport because one of the girls in the group was very pregnant and we didn't want to take her far from home or her doctors.

Anyway, while we were on our trip, we were looking for fun things to do that took place inside (because this is Louisiana and it's HOT) and did not require much walking. We opted to paint some pottery.

Earlier this year, during a Bible study at church, the Bible study leader mentioned that they have a plate at their home that is only used for special days. I thought this was a great idea, because we have lots of days that we celebrate (with an adopted child, he has several special days....some kids only have a birthday, not Cohen....he has a "Meetcha Day," "Gotcha Day," "Welcome Home Day," as well as the usual birthdays and such). I decided that for our pottery painting I would paint our "Celebrate Plate."

I actually got the plate a month ago, but no one has had a special day yet, so Jace's birthday was our first chance to use it.

Jace turned 31 this year. In honor of his big day, Cohen and I baked a cake...not just any cake...we baked Jace's Favorite Cheesecake!

Cohen's favorite part of making sweets is tasting the yummy stuff along the way...

After baking the cheesecake and waiting for it to cool a bit, I took out our special "Celebrate Plate" for the birthday boy.

We had lots of fun blowing out the candles (4 candles because Jace is 31 and 3+1=4) and eating the cake! Cohen did a great job with his first cheesecake.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What is the biggest lifestyle change you've made since becoming a triathlete?

Yes. I do consider myself a triathlete. I'm a lot of things...and after successfully completing two triathlons I'm going to consider myself a triathlete!

Last weekend, Jace and I met some of our good friends, The Safley's and The Pourciau's, in Lafayette to compete in the MPCS Triathlon. Jace did this race last year and loved it, so we gathered a group of our closest friends to join us this year.

Our lives are so different now than they were a couple of years ago. I'm going to share some footage of the race, but first I wanted to share a little something that Jace wrote. In May 2011, USA Triathlon Magazine asked "What is the biggest lifestyle change you've made since becoming a triathlete?" and Jace submitted a response. He never heard anything back from them, so he just assumed he wasn't picked to be published, but a few days ago he got a call from a friend of his informing his that he read his comment in the magazine. We just so happen to subscribe to the magazine, so Jace pulled out his Summer 2011 edition, and sure enough, his comment was there.

Here is a picture of his comment in the magazine...


What a great comment! We are so very different. Jace and I used to spend our free time watching TV or whatever (to be honest, I don't even remember what we did in our free time....obviously it was super important). Now days, our free time is spent running, biking, swimming, training, playing, racing, and mostly just moving. And for most of these activities, Cohen is right there with us, so it's really a family thing.

I love being a triathlete.

Ok, now for some MPCS Triathlon stories. The 6 of us were supposed to do this race together (well, against each other, but together). Unfortunately, Damon injured himself a week prior to the race and was unable to use one of his arms (therefore unable to swim or bike) so he sat out and cheered for the rest of the group (he also caught some of the race on video).

Note...Damon's wife is Scarlett, so it would only be fair for him to video her and anyone else who may be around there is no footage of Jace running this race (because he's super fast and was no where near any of the rest of us). There is very little footage of me because I listed my swim time as shorter than Scarlett's and I started before she did. There is a little footage of me running near the end of this video.

This race was supposed to be 200 yd swim, 8 mile bike, 2 mile run. I'm pretty sure the run was about 1.5 miles....but we all ran the same distance, so I guess it doesn't matter that much.
Jace finished the race in 43:30 (in 2010 he finished in 49 minutes...what a great improvement!)
I finished in 53:30...and placed 5th in my age group (25-29)...Yay!

This is a great race. I saw lots of families doing this race together...what a great way to spend a weekend.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Did you know a timer could be this helpful?

Shortly after we brought Cohen home from Russia, I bought a very cheap, basic, kitchen timer.

Similar to this one....

I had read somewhere how parents use these timers to schedule play time, cleanup time, bath time, etc. This is one of my best investments! I wanted to quickly share with you some of this timers many uses.

Prior to our school day and after playtime, Cohen is responsible for picking up all the toys in the playroom. I set the timer for 5 minutes and he must clean up by himself until the timer goes off. If he did a good job cleaning up, then once the timer goes off, I will help him. This motivates him to clean up, because he ultimately wants my help. It works out great, because most of the times when the timer actually goes off, the room is clean, leaving me with nothing to help him clean.

Each day I try to schedule about 10-15 minutes of independent book reading time. This looks different each day. Sometimes I let him pick one or two books to read, sometimes I pick 7 or 8 books for him to read. Most of the time when we have book reading time, I lay a blanket out in the floor of the living room, I put the books and Cohen on the blanket, and he's not allowed to get up until the timer goes off. It encourages him to look at the books and he knows that there is an end in sight. It took some time to get to the point where he knows now not to get off the blanket until the timer goes if you want to start this Book Reading Time with your toddler, I'd suggest you start with 2-3 minutes. There have been a couple of times when we did this and the timer went off before Cohen finished reading all the books. He requested that we turn the timer back on and let him finish...sure thing kid!

Simple enough, I set the timer for the amount of time allowed in the tub, when it goes off, Cohen must get out. He LOVES his bath and he was getting to where he would pitch a fit when it was time to get out. Now he doesn't fuss as much. He knows he got plenty of time to play.

This is time when Cohen is responsible for entertaining himself without the help of me, games, tv, or books. I like to use this time to clean house, wash dishes, fold laundry. He likes to use this time to make a mess in the playroom (which is fine with me because I'm going to set the timer later for clean up time).

This one is new to us. I'm finding that Cohen really loves to delay his nap by talking to all of his stuffed animals. At first, I decided to remove all animals from the bedroom, but that really didn't work well because he loves to sleep with Hugsy, his beloved penguin. Instead of removing all animals, I now give him 5 minutes of talk time. After I tuck him in for his nap, I load up the bed with all his favorites, then set the timer and leave the room. The rule is that he must stay on his bed, but he may talk and play for 5 minutes after I leave, then when the timer goes off, he must be quiet and rest. We've been doing this for a couple of weeks now, and it works great! He plays for 5 minutes, then he's quiet. Nap time is actually something he looks forward to now, because he knows he gets to play.

I do not have a set end time for our school each day. I usually start around 9am, and we just go until we are finished (usually about 1.5 hours). I have started using the timer to schedule certain areas of our school work. We used it today to time the rainbow letter tracing (where he uses crayons to go over a letter a bunch of times). Cohen's started to complain about certain parts of school work, and tracing letters and shapes is one of those areas he's not crazy about. Today I set the timer for 5 minutes, told him to trace the letter during that time, and when the timer went off we would read a book together. Worked like a charm! He stayed focused and finished his work.

Can you think of other good uses for my kitchen timer (other than cooking)? Feel free to share! I'm always look for some good suggestions.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Do you have a mighty mind?

My son is just getting smarter and smarter each day. A couple of months ago, Cohen's Nan and Pops gave him this really neat game called Mighty Minds. This is a magnet game where you put shapes together to make a larger shape, or picture.

Cohen and I took it out shortly after we got it, and Cohen could barely get through the first puzzle without getting frustrated. Not today. We've played with it several times since that day, and he's getting really good. We made it to the 7th puzzle! I'm so proud of him!

I love this game because it encourages him to think about things for himself and solve problems. It's difficult for me to just sit back and let him try...I want to help him so bad....but I have to remember that I'm not always going to be there to help, so he needs to learn to figure things out on his own. Today it is magnetic shapes, tomorrow, who knows?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Do you remember my independent child?

The other day I posted a blog about Cohen being more independent. I mentioned that each morning (and most evenings) he feeds Lucy and Ella.

I wanted to share a few pictures of him doing such a great job! ( in the bottom picture, you can see all the dog food spilled out on the floor, but fear not, Lucy and Ella clean up Cohen's mess).

A year ago these two dogs were pretty much just annoyed with this kid. Now they are all just best friends. I think all little boys need a dog! There is a strange bond between him and Lucy and Ella.

Sometimes in the middle of the day, I will find them all in my room, Lucy laid out on my bed, Ella hiding under my bed, and Cohen right there with them. Talking to them, petting them, hiding with them, or just loving those two spoiled dogs. I love it!

Friday, August 12, 2011

What starts with the letter C?

Yes, another blog about school and Cohen learning his letters.

I have to be honest...I wasn't sure how this homeschooling thing would go for us. This week is our 6th week at school, and so far, so good. Cohen actually asks when school is going to start each morning (I make him wait until 9am). I think he's enjoying himself and I love spending the days with him!

This week we are learning about the letter "C." Again, this is a special letter, because Cohen's name starts with C.

Our alphabet animal this week is after learning all about cows, we did a little cow craft. I think Cohen's little thumb prints make really cute cows!

From 2011

Next, we learned about cars by reading an Eyewittness Book about Cars. I strongly recommend these Eyewittness books. They have a book on almost any subject and the pictures are wonderful! They showed pictures of all different types of cars, engine parts, headlights through the years, etc.

 We learned to write the letter C. I read about doing this online. I write a really big "C" on a paper and Cohen goes over my "C" with every color in the color cup. He has to go over it about 10 times. After he's done we have a beautiful rainbow letter C.

The next craft we did was painting with cars. Cohen was totally thrown off when I put the car in the paint, but he loved this craft.

The finished project. Next time I do this I will limit the painting to two colors, so that it doesn't turn out brown.

The second day of school this week, Cohen and I got a special treat! Our friend Mattie Anne came to spend the day with us. I debated as to whether or not to do school with her here. I was thinking we may just play all day, but then I decided to just go with it and have school while she was here. I think she enjoyed her day in the Raney school.

I printed out a paper, from Word, with lots of letters and had the kids use bingo markers to mark the C's. Mattie Anne did a great job! Cohen got off a little and managed to mark a few extra letters, but he did get all the C's.

The next exercise was drawing. I've done this with Cohen before, and it worked out about the same with this attempt. I use the chalkboard to draw out a picture, using simple shapes, and slow steps, and have the kids follow what I do on their own paper.

This is the cat I drew on the board.

Here is Mattie Anne's cat.

And Cohen's cat.

Next we read one of my favorite books, The Cat in the Hat. After reading that book, we had to do a Cat in the Hat craft. I saw this one online, and they used it to work on patterns. I tried that with Cohen and Mattie Anne. They may have got the pattern, or maybe not, but the cats turned out really cute!

Mattie Anne's Cat in the Hat.

Cohen's Cat in the Hat.

Do you know what else starts with the letter C? COOKIES! Yes, Cohen's favorite food (um, maybe cake is his favorite, but they are bascially the same thing...sugar and more sugar).

We made some yummy Peanut Butter Cookies!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How was Jace's triathlon in Shreveport?

Last weekend Jace competed in the River Cities Triathlon in Shreveport, LA. The three of us drove up to Shreveport on Saturday morning, the race would take place on Sunday. I decided to contact our college friends, Keith and Lisa McGee, and see if they would have dinner with us. I was super excited when they agreed, because I had not yet met their newest addition, Levi, and I really wanted to see their 3 year old, Liam (as well as these adorable boys parents). It was a great dinner, if you could get past the hour long wait in the Chili's entryway.

As a blogger, I should have known better than to not bring my camera to this event. I have no pictures to share, only stories. Liam is an angel. He shared his toys with Cohen (even when Cohen was being totally shy and wouldn't talk to him). Levi slept most of the evening, but he managed to sleep while looking like a total doll. Such cute kids! Now, Cohen....he was not the most social child. Well that is until he got his sweet tea. (I can see you moms right now, rolling your eyes at me for serving my 3 year old sweet tea. Stop that now! He was given sweet tea in a bottle in Russia and I have no plans of forcing him to kick that habit now. He loves the stuff!). Anyway, he drank the entire glass of sweet tea in about .2 seconds, then turned into the Cohen we all know and love. While waiting for our food, he sang songs, played air guitar, talked, and talked and talked. Oh yes, my boy totally came out of his shell that night!

I hated to leave our friends that night, but I knew that we needed to get back to our hotel room and get some sleep. We all had a busy day the next day.

Our 5am alarm was WAY to early (especially since Cohen usually doesn't get up until 8am). We got to the park in plenty of time to enjoy our cherry pop tarts and chocolate milk in the parking lot. Jace went ahead and took his bike and gear to setup his transition area for the race. Cohen and I stayed behind to get the chairs, ice chest and stroller. I put the ice chest and chairs in the stroller, and Cohen walked beside, in front, or behind me and all the gear (I ran over him several times because he just wouldn't pick a place to walk....geez.). Anyway, halfway to the transition area, Cohen got stung! My poor baby got stung on the nose by what I believe was a yellow jacket. He screamed, I dropped chairs, ice chest, stroller, and ran toward him. I saw him swatting at his face and I immediately knew what had happened. 

After I had him somewhat composed, I abandoned my stuff, put him in the stroller and went to find Jace. Since this was the first time he's been stung, I had no idea whether he was allergic or not. My plan was to tell Jace what happened, load up my stuff, and head to the emergency room. Once I found Jace, he calmed me down. We went to the medical tent, but they were no help. If Cohen had fallen and busted his head open, they had exactly what we would have needed. But they had nothing for a sting. The kind medical attendant gave us some antibacterial stuff, and a band aid (which fell off about 30 seconds later).

Here is Cohen, about 10 minutes after the bug got to him. His nose is already swelling, but that face. Oh don't you just want to cry. I did, then I took a picture.

Jace told me to watch him and if it got to swelling big, to leave immediately and take him to the hospital. I watched closely, but that was not necessary. Cohen is not allergic to whatever stung him. He is however a huge baby. He proceeded to scream for the next 1.5 hours. No I'm not kidding. I was very sympathetic for about 30 minutes, but when I saw no end in sight, I had to give up and find other ways to help him. I offered drink, snack, and ice with no luck. Cohen wanted nothing to do with any of that. I offered to hold him (so long as he didn't scream in my ear), no luck. I finally just put him in the stroller and covered him with a beach towel. See the problem wasn't so much the pain, it was the fear of being stung again. The towel helped a bit.

We watched Jace start the race, from a distance so that we wouldn't scare the racers with Cohen's constant screaming. After the race started, I headed back to the place when I left all my stuff. Just my luck, it was all covered in ants. See, Shreveport (and all of North Louisiana) is having some major drought issues and the bugs were terrible. The ants were everywhere. I dusted off the chairs as best I could, but the ice chest was a lost cause. Once the ants got inside, they died, so I just left them in there. They couldn't get inside our water, and I wasn't about to toss my ice chest and the only water I brought with me that day (did I mention that it was like 110 degrees outside!). I actually dusted ants off a couple bottles and shoved the cold bottles in the stroller with Cohen in hopes that he wouldn't get too hot under the towel.

Our friend Damon Pourciau came out to watch the race. He took a few pictures of Jace starting the swim, and then my camera battery died. Yes, this day just got worse. HA! So I have no pictures of Jace on the bike or running...but take my word for it, he looked GREAT! He did a wonderful job and finished in great time.

Jace is in the picture below...can you find him?

Now that the day is over, I can look back and say I learned a lot that day. I need to carry something to help with stings with me at all times...or have a good backup plan.

At the end of the race, Cohen was out! He got up at 5am, cried for 1.5 hours, and was scared for his life for about 4 hours out at the park. I was so happy to finally see him peaceful!

Damon was gracious to take some video of Jace on race day. Please excuse my screaming...I had no idea how annoying my voice could be. Jace did an AMAZING job at the race! Also notice how Cohen did manage to get out of his chair at the end of the race to offer Jace some of his trail mix.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How can I create a more independent child?

I've been working with Cohen over the past few weeks so that he can be more independent. I'm trying to teach him to be more responsible and to take care of his things.

Beginning this week, his job every morning is to feed Lucy and Ella. They may not be too happy about this, because it takes him a little longer than it takes me, but he's still responsible for making sure it gets done.

Each day he's also responsible for putting away all his toys, dirty clothes, and dishes. This week I also started letting him help unload this dishwasher. I noticed that he was having to use the chair to reach every one of the cabinets that had his dishes in them, so we moved them this week.

I cleaned out one of my bottom kitchen cabinets and loaded it full of sippy cups, plastic bowls, plastic plates and our craft trays. All the things in this cabinet are "Cohen friendly" so after loading it with his things, I removed the child lock from that one cabinet.

Here is Cohen with his new cabinet. (Please excuse his outfit, it was still early in the day, and when we stay home all day, there are some days we just don't get dressed until noon...maybe this was one of them).

Now, not only can Cohen unload all his dishes from the dishwasher, he can also help set the table, fix himself a drink, or get his craft trays out during craft time.

My little boy is growing up!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

What is a Unifix Cube?

For Cohen's birthday, his Aunt gave him a set of Unifix Cubes. I had heard of these before, but I had never actually seen them in action. These cubes are 1 inch square, and they come in all colors. We are currently using them to learn to count, recognize colors, sort colors, and they are also useful for teaching addition/subtraction/multiplication/division, but we are no where near that in our PreK3 curriculum. Maybe he'll learn that next year [sarcasm]. We will use them later this year to learn patterns, grouping, and measurment (largest/smallest).

Anyway, here are a couple pictures of Cohen playing with his Unifix Cubes. In this exercise, he was instructed to put a yellow block on top of a blue block (we are working on counting - 2 blocks - and working on understanding top/bottom). This also works on motor skills, because he has to actually put the blocks together.

If you have a child, you need these! Cohen's Aunt also got him a workbook that goes with it to help him learn. It is a very useful tool to have and it gives great ideas for other learning exercises. There are fun workbooks for kids of all ages, and it's a great hands on, visual learning tool.