Saturday, June 21, 2014

Emerald's "When I'm Mad" List

For the past two years (shortly after Mercedes' second birthday) our house has had some sort of space for the girls to go when they need to chill out or calm down. For Mercedes, it is a pouty sort of spot (we call it her Chill Spot) where she goes to think about making a better choice, or coming up with a solution, or just be angry for a while before she's ready to talk about what happened or apologize. For Emerald, it's more of a Tantrum Spot. She's allowed to scream all she wants but it has to be in her spot. This girl is intense. When she gets angry, she is like a volcano bursting with fury and exploding all over the house. She has been known to scream for as long as 3 1/2 hours over not getting her way. No exaggeration. My mom has been a witness to this. She could not believe it and was sure I was making it up until she saw it for herself. I'm sure that Emerald is going to grow up and be able to accomplish amazing things with her strong will, determination, dedication to whatever cause she is fighting for and her ability to never give up. Ever. No matter what. However, the screaming is getting on everyone's nerves, and it has become clear that once the screaming begins she has no intention of stopping. Ever. And has no ability to calm herself down. 

So one day when she was NOT angry, the two of us had a talk and came up with a few things for her to do when she got mad. I wrote them on some pretty paper and hung the list over her Chill Spot rug. We practiced them and practiced them. Then the first time she started throwing a fit, I told her, "Quick! Run to your chill spot and let's do your mad list!" And we went through the whole thing. By the time we got to the jumping jacks she was laughing hysterically and could not remember why she was mad in the first place. This has worked wonders for her tantrums. Sometimes we have to go through the list multiple times. But the end result is always smiles and giggles and hugs and kisses. Usually in less than 5 minutes. No more 3 hour long fits over here! We are all so relieved.   

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Numbers (Recognition and Counting) Review Activities

I have spent the past couple of months really focusing on teaching Mercedes to recognize numbers 0-10 and count to 20. Here are some activities we have been using to practice.

Playing The Counting Rocks Game

Reading numbers books.

Working in numbers activity books.

Reviewing with flashcards.

Practicing writing numbers.

Playing Numbers Lotto.

Playing the Easter Egg Number Practice game.

Playing the Puzzle Piece Number Recognition Game.

Dialing numbers on the toy phone.

Doing our number of the day crafts.

Practicing counting 1-20.

Mercedes has been much slower learning numbers than she has been at letters and their sounds (she's like her Mommy...loves reading, foreign languages, photography, music and art but slightly allergic to math and numbers) so we will keep using these games and activities to practice throughout the summer and into the fall until she is confident and knows them well.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Puzzle Piece Number Recognition Practice

Mercedes has been working on recognizing numbers 1-10. I made shape puzzles for her to practice with. I cut each shape in half, with the number on one side and the correct number of dots on the other side. She loves matching the numbers together.

Counting 1-20

Mercedes has been working on counting to 20. To do this, I've incorporated counting into our normal play and activities. Here are some of the items we have found to count during play time.

Doll house people.





Pom poms.

Wooden beads.

Flat marbles.

Round marbles.


Puzzle pieces.



And water beads.

This practice during play turned out to be a success. Mercedes can count to 20!

Number of the Day (0-10)

Mercedes is working on recognizing numbers 0-10. To help her remember, we focused on one letter each day and did a craft to hang on our kitchen wall. We review these several times a day.

Zero pennies.

One bead.

Two pom poms.

Three marbles.

Four beans.

Five puzzle pieces.

Six jewels.

Seven stickers.

Eight cotton balls.

Nine foam animals.

And ten pieces of confetti.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sign Language (ASL and Baby Sign)

Both my girls LOVE sign language. They always have, ever since they were tiny babies. I've rented a few videos for them in the past, and they've always enjoyed watching baby sign videos on youtube . This summer, I've really stepped it up and been intentional about making sure there are always sign videos in the house. We rent new ones from the library every week. The girls adore them. They beg to watch them. I love it! They use sign language in addition to their verbal language on a daily basis. When Mercedes doesn't know the sign for something, she'll ask me what it is and we'll look it up on the Internet. As long as it's something they enjoy doing, I am happy to provide them with resources to learn it. Sign language is something that has always interested me so I'm thrilled that it's something my girls love to learn!

Their favorite videos are called Signing Time by Two Little Hands Productions. It teaches American Sign Language using songs and acting with different themes on each video.

Two Little Hands Productions also makes baby sign videos called Baby Signing Time. Baby Sign is a slightly simpler version of American Sign Language which allows smaller toddlers to be able to use it with limited motor skills. It is not a complete language like ASL, it is just a handful of words that babies can use to learn to communicate with their hands. The girls watched these and My Baby Can Talk videos by Baby Hands Productions when they were a little younger. is a great resource for looking up common signs, especially for toddlers. It has a video dictionary which not only shows the sign but gives simple ways to remember it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Library Shelf

We recently just moved to a new house, about 5 minutes from our town's library. The girls and I have been making frequent trips there and loving it! I dedicated a full shelf on one of our bookshelves just for library books and movies, and we have been keeping it full! The girls love having their little shelf of borrowed books and several times a day they'll pick some books out for me to read to them. Friday is our library day when we swap out our old books for new ones. The girls count down the days until library day. I love that they love to read and learn, and I'm excited for this coming school year. I plan on keeping this shelf full of different topics of books for Mercedes.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sweet and Creamy One Ingredient Ice Cream (Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Paleo)

I am always looking for ways to cut out sugar and processed food from our diet. At the same time, I have to put up with my unrelenting sweet tooth. My husband is as bad as I am, and our girls have inherited it as well. So when I found a recipe for Paleo ice cream with a single ingredient, I had to give it a try. 

All you need is a few bananas! No joke. Just chop them up and stick them in the freezer for an hour.

Blend them in a food processor until you get the smooth, creamy texture of soft serve ice cream.

This frozen treat is actually incredibly delicious and is really close to the texture of soft serve ice cream. For extra flavor, use super ripe bananas. You could also add peanut butter or nutella to it, or a little yogurt. If you want firmer ice cream, just stick it back in the freezer for a while after you blend it and it will be more like regular ice cream instead of soft serve.

This ice cream is so easy, cheap and delicious there is no reason for us not to make it over and over again. Like...every day. :) We love it!