Saturday, March 31, 2012

Running in the Rain


Hot Date Tonight...Scott and I are reviewing our training schedule by candle light tonight during Earth Hour. 

There are three months left before the 1/2 marathon, and we are officially beginning our training. Up until now, we were just running three times a week, ensuring that we had a comfortable base of about 6-8 miles a week. Now, things get a bit more serious, and we have to complete our training runs each week in order to reach our goal.

Today it was raining. It rains here all the time, especially in the Spring...and Fall...and Winter. HAHA!
I have never liked running in the rain...but my coach (Scott) says that we must be prepared for any type of weather, and we might as well get out there and run, because the day of the race it could be pouring. Highly unlikely, I think..since it is at the end of June.

He showed me this clip: "No Excuses"
Warhawk Matt Scott, for Nike, will tell you like it is.

I ran in the rain. I did not give an excuse, I just did it.
It actually felt reviatlizing to be soaking wet, and to keep on running.

I hope you all overcome that thing that is keeping you away from being a fit and healthy person. 

NO EXCUSES.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Robots

Spring Break Day 5: Robots (and Free Choice)

Despite my best efforts, today was not a day for teaching. I provided lots of ideas, but the boys wanted to create their own schedule today, with a mismatch of the things we have been doing all week. Giving them screen time when they wake up is always a bad idea...because they never want to leave the screen. Here is their list:

1. Painting - whatever they want on paper. This got them motivated for a while, but their paintings were mostly about computer games they were just playing. Actually, Fireboy and Watergirl is a cool 2 player game, so at least they were playing together. Check out twoplayergames.org for more.


2. Lego building...today they created starships, and star war figures. They are really into Star Wars!

3. Surprises - They get to do something nice for someone else in the family and surprise them. Zach started things off by making everyone's bed. How sweet! It was nice to see they wanted to be sneaky spies...doing good things for others.

4. Jumping - downstairs on the old matresses. We actually ended up playing "Dog", and all three of them pretended they were dogs being trained by me. We had a good discussion on pets and how to care for them properly during lunch time.

By the time these activities were done, the food disposal was plugged, I found a few spots on Luke (that look like chickenpox), the hallway light burnt out, and my hanging metal wire for art came out of the wall..and all before noon. Arggggg.

When Luke was napping, we went ahead and made robots out of recycled materials...


...watched some cool YouTube videos of robots playing music, and started to build robots with KNex, our solar power vehicle set, alien robots kit and snap circuits. These are all kits that we own, and it was nice to bring them out again and let the boys create robots that really move.


It was not the day I expected, but with three kids most days usually are not. My dear husband came home and saved the day. He fixed everything, and played with the boys for an hour so I could fold laundry. He makes things so much calmer, when I am feeling a bit exhausted or stressed out. Thank you Scott for being such a great partner. We make a good team.

Art and Nature

Spring Break Day 4: Art and Nature

Originally I had planned for a day just on nature, but since the weather would not cooperate, I had to improvise. Here are the activities we did today...and I have to say, that the kids woke up this morning and asked me what we were doing today, and what we were going to learn about.
I am so happy..this is why:
Best Comment: "You are the best mom ever!"

Paint a birdhouse - First experience using acrylic paint. It was a great lesson on using a different paintbrush for each colour, trying not to mix colours, having a plan of how they wanted to paint before they began, and taking their time. They all did really well.


More painting..a memory box for all their special treasures. If your kids are like mine, they like to collect everything, and everything that you think is garbage has a special meaning to them. Now they each have a place to store them. It makes me happy when we do handprints...to see how fast they grow up. The neat thing was talking about it while they painted their creations and relating our own growth to the growth of plants.


Make a suncatcher. Michael's has some really neat little kits for short art activities. These were tiny beads, that we placed in a metal frame and then heated it up in the oven. It took some patience with the tiny beads, but we were all successful. Too bad there wasn't much sun!


Lunch: Huge sub sandwich shaped like a caterpillar! Wish I took a picture.

Plant bean seeds - We had started sprouting them last weekend, with paper towel in a jar..so they wanted to plant them in the dirt. We had a good discussion on growing seeds, and what it takes to keep the plant healthy. Again, relating it back to their own bodies, and more reinforcement in healthy eating.

Cleaned out garden area (to get it ready for planting in April), and found all sorts of bugs to have as "pets". I think they discovered a total of 4 slugs, 2 snails, 5 rolypoly bugs, 8 worms and a large spider. They trapped them in jars for a few hours to see what they would do..asked it they could keep them inside...yeah right. They freed them in the dirt instead.

Lego building..of course. We do this everyday.

A trip to the BMX track..just to look. We were not able to bring our bikes, because of the rain, but the boys really wanted to see the track. Tyler wants to start BMX racing this year, so we thought we would find out where the closest track was. After seeing it, he says, "Mom, I totally want to do this!"

Jumping around in the basement with Dad - The boys love going downstairs for some rough play time with their Dad, and it gives Mom a chance to cook dinner and take a bit of a break. They shoot hoops, play tag, and generally jump around, make up games, and have a ton of fun. A good way to end this day!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Science

Spring Break Day 3: Science

Today, I started by writing the activities I wanted to do on the chalkboard. They got to choose the order in which we did things. We had another friend join us today, and they were excited to tell him we were going to learn about Science. Here are the activities we chose...and how things went:

Parachute Fun - Each boy got to choose a hero figure and tie it to a bandana. We dropped them in the stairwell to test which one was the fastest, which one dropped straight, and if it made a difference the length of the string/ribbon we used. They ran up and down the stairs, switched men and learned a little about gravity.

Eye on the Ball - We went downstairs to throw the ball around, and did a science experiment with senses. They each got 5 throws with both eyes open, then we blindfolded them on one eye and gave them 5 more throws. They found out just how hard it was to catch a ball with one eye open.

Lunch: Funny Faces..keeping with our healthy theme from yesterday, I gave them a ton of options, and they got to make funny faces with the things they love to eat. 




We took a break after lunch to build with Bionicles. They had fun creating their own hero and only fought over a few pieces. They showed immense patience with Luke who wanted to break apart their men, as soon as they built them.

Fishing for Treasure - Learning about magnets, I attached paper clips to small tickets, and they got to go fishing. I decided to give a quick lesson on "buying things". I opened up a treat shop, and they could use their tickets to buy treats. Big treats were worth more, so they had to learn quickly how to get more than one ticket on the fishing pole magnet. One of them figured out how to get 5 tickets in one turn. Afterwards, we took all the magnets and tried out some magic tricks with them.

Egg Float - We did a quick experiment on the density of salt water. We poured 6 tablespoons of salt into a half glass of water..then filled the cup up the rest of the way with tap water. The egg floats right in the middle of the glass. They couldn't believe it.

Blubber - 2 Tablespoons of Borax in 1 1/2 cups of water...mix well...let sit....add 2 Tablespoons of regular white glue and you get some really neat blubber. Stretch it, roll it into a ball and watch it bounce. The more times we put it into the borax solution, the harder it got. Adding more glue made it more gooey. Here is what it looks like after sitting out for a while.

Magic Mud - 5 tablespoons cornstarch and 3 tablespoons water can make a wonderful substance that is fun to play with for hours. I made a huge amount so each boy could bury plastic animals (they were sinking in quicksand), and let it "melt" over their hands. Here is what it looks like...he is about to grab some of the goo and bury this little man in the "ice". It is amazing to talk about liquids and solids when this stuff is all over your hands and you can feel the difference.






Friday, March 16, 2012

Food for Health

Spring Break Day 2: Food for Health
Resources: Local Museum, Local Market, Fresh for Kids, Super Healthy Kids, DLTK, Health Canada

W started the day with pancakes. My son Tyler loves pancakes, but we really think he is just in love with the syrup. We made a stack of whole wheat applesauce pancakes, and then talked about what could go on top, instead of syrup. I provided a few different toppings (yogurt, applesauce, sliced almonds, bananas, peanut butter), and let them choose. They were not sure at first...but Zach cut his up and dipped it in yogurt, while Tyler just didn't know what to do...he went for the fruit on the side and nothing on top. Little Luke is always cool with whatever I give him, as long as he can eat it.
After breakfast, we headed to the local museum which had an exhibit on food for health (hence the title of my day). On the way, we talked about red light food and green light food. Red light foods are things we should not eat, they make us stop. Green light foods are foods we can eat all the time, as much as we want, because they make us go. Yellow light foods are the things we can have once in a while, but use caution. They loved this game, so each of us took turns calling out a food, and the others had to say what colour it was. When we got to the museum, we had a quick snack before going in. We talked about whether fruit snack was red, yellow,or green. They decided it was yellow, because it was made from fruit, but it was super sticky. 
We toured the museum, travelling through time in a shopping cart, seeing ourselves as obese in a funny mirror, riding a bike to see how long it takes to burn off one potato chip, and other interactive displays.

Near the end, we did a scavenger hunt and as a prize each boy got a licorice candy stick...not a regular piece of licorice, but a hard piece of candy that they sucked on the whole way home...saying,
 "This is totally a red light food, but it tastes so good" 


On the way home, we stopped at the local market. Each boy got to choose 4 items that were green light foods. They each got their own basket, and I just let them decide what fruits and veggies they liked the best. I did not scold them on price, or tell them, "just one"..I let them go crazy filling their basket with good food.  
We went home and feasted on our green light food for lunch. Afterwards, the boys got really creative. They made Mr. Potato Head with real potatoes, carved faces into real potatoes, and made all sorts of neat scenes from leftover pieces and peelings, while we talked about composting.


During Luke's naptime, we did some soap carving. I wanted to make sure they knew some of the techinque, so we checked out YouTube videos on soap carving. It was fun to look together at the neat artwork some people have made. This gave them motivation to try, and I got out some carving tools and let them use their imagination to create a work of art.

We also printed off their own food pyramid chart. They got to pick the foods and activities they liked, and personalize the chart. We talked about the importance of all the categories, especially the fruit and veggie category, which is always the largest...which means we should eat the most from this category.
During quiet time, we read the story, There is a crocodile in our pickle jar, which gave us lots to talk about. We did a word search with the words, and while I did a spelling test with Zach, Tyler made his own chart of red and green light foods. We had pickles for a snack of course....and they helped me to plan dinner afterwards, by using their food guide.

Best lesson today....learned by mom...after teaching them all about healthy foods...during some screen time before dinner I gave them a red light snack...which made them all cranky and no one wanted to eat dinner. Opps!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Space

Spring Break Day 1: Space
Resources: Nasa's Space Place, and Kaboose

Make it a total of four boys, since things aren't as fun without a buddy to join in.

When our friend arrived, we started with making a Starfinder. They did this activity for all of 10 minutes before moving on. Not much learning there.
Next, we did a mosaic space robot puzzle, that can be put together 200+ different ways...all of them the wrong way, except one! This kept their interest for a while, but after not being able to complete the puzzle, they gave up. Strike two.
We moved onto making aliens from playdough, which was a huge success, especially for my one year old who adores playdough, and anyone who will sit beside him and create with him. All four boys were able to create some neat looking creatures.
After wash up, I let them have some free time. They wanted so badly to play the Wii, but I reminded them it was Space Day. Instead of playing Star Wars on the Wii, they became the Jedi warriors and had their own light saber fight in the basement. Each one had a flashlight, and a blanket for a cape...they turned off the lights and all I heard were light saber noises for the next 30 minutes. That gave me time to clean up the playdough mess, and prep for lunch.
For lunch, we made our own asteroids to eat out of mashed potatoes. It was fun making them (and looking at all the pictures of real asteroids), but the kids were not interested in actually eating them, so we also made personal pizza pockets (they thought it was the perfect astronaut food, so while they were in space, the food would not fly around) and strawberry milkshakes, with a lid and straw of course..comment of the day...
"My mom makes the best milkshakes. They are healthy and we don't even care."
After lunch...and since the chalkboard wall is right beside the table...the boys started creating a space mural. We have different coloured chalk which came in very handy, and so I traced each boy on the wall, and they drew themselves as...what else...a star wars character...I think all of them were Darth Vader! They did a great job, and even added some of the planets, not the ones from our solar system, but Naboo, Tatooine, Cameno and Mustafar...the really important ones.


I told the boys that all astronauts need to be in good physical shape for missions. This gave them an opportunity for some screen time...Sports Resort, of course. They did an incredible job playing together, while I put the little one down for a nap.
During nap time, I showed them why stars twinkle, and we talked about what stars really look like (the sun). The older boys already knew this information, but it was new to the 5 year old..so I let them teach him a thing or two about our solar system. I was so proud of all the facts they actually knew.
Time flew by, and it was time to say goodbye to our friend.
Once he was gone, we got to some more lessons. We read some books about space, and then I quizzed Zach on some of the words, while Tyler worked on his alphabet. Once they were done writing, I challenged them to make the words look like things they would see in space. I read some more books, since they seemed to need some quiet time, and then they worked on building Lego space stations while I cleaned up.
We were going to build a rocket, but never got around to it. Oh well, we can use all that cardboard for something later on....


Spring Break

Two weeks with no school, three boys to keep away from the screen (because I just set the goal to decrease screen time in our family...ouch...should have planned that one better!), and the weather is forecast for rain, rain, rain. No biking, no hiking, no playgrounds...yikes.
No problem, my days of running a summer program for kids is all coming back to me..and the teacher personality is ready to take on this challenge. Keep them busy, have some fun and teach them something. I can do this!
I am actually quite excited to plan this out for them, and enjoy my time at home with them for once.

Here are my themes for the Week 1:

Day 1 - Space
Day 2 - Food for Health
Day 3 - Science
Day 4 - Art and Nature
Day 5 - Robots

Check back to see how things went...
I should also warn you, I am not the best at remembering to take pictures. I will try my hardest to take a few shots, but when I get involved with teaching something, I don't think to pick up the camera!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Screen Time

"Screen Time"...that is what we call it in our home. The kids come home from school, have a quick snack, do homework, practice piano, and the next question is, "Can I have screen time?" This involves time on the computer, watching TV, playing video games...anything in front of the screen.
They are drawn to it, they crave it, and when their time is up and mom asks them to turn it off...there can be so much drama and even tears.

I saw this clip and thought I would share.

Media and Children by Dimitri Christakis

Very interesting, if you have the time to listen. It is about 16 minutes, but well worth the information, especially if you have a small child who watches lots of TV.
I was not shocked to see that the more TV a child watches before 3, the more inattention they have by age 7. He encourages cognitive learning...such as reading to your child, and taking them to a museum.
The clip is old..but the knowledge is the same..and it is something individuals have been warning against for some time.

Stop letting your kids have so much screen time!

We have tried many different things to control screen time, but in the end, it was easier to set down some hard rules. For ex. No screen time before school.

We really believe that kids can do some amazing things, and build some incredible things when given a chance to create and be away from the screen. We want them to build relationships, fight over toys, and beg us to go outside.

If only I could be strong enough on the days when it is just easier to turn on the screen to babysit them while I cook dinner, or get a chore completed.

For things to change, I have to change...that is my new motto!

Try these strategies, if you are trying to cut back the amount of screen time your kids watch.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Running a Half Marathon

Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon Series
Scott and I signed up to run a half marathon on June 23rd in Seattle, Washington.
We feel with a goal to pursue, we are more likely to keep running, keep eating right, and stay in great shape to keep up with our three boys as they grow.
Scott has already run a half before, as well a two full marathons over the past three years. He is my coach and personal trainer in this endeavor.
I ran a 10km race last year, and thought I didn't need to run any further than that. I actually did not think I would want to run more than that. I was wrong.
I know that I need a goal to stay in shape. I need something to drive for, something as a reward to keep me motivated. Just knowing that I will be running with (and in front of) so many people will keep me motivated to keep up with the training.
It is kind of nice to do this together, and to be able to support each other in this goal.
What a romantic weekend we have to look forward to...pigging out Friday night at the all you can eat pasta place, waking up extra early on Saturday to get into our spots, running 13 miles, hugging each other at the end..(actually, Scott will be finished well before me...so he will be waiting there)...then trying to help each other back to the hotel room because we won't be able to walk and crashing for a nap before going to eat lunch. Hmmm...yes...romantic! HAHAHAHA!


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Forks Over Knives


This picture tells it all. 
At first, I thought it was going to be a book about eating only foods that you can with a fork, and not foods that you need to cut with a knife. My second thought was that I was going to read a vegetarian diet telling us not to kill animals for food. But when you take a closer look at the picture, you can see it is not a regular knife used for eating food, it is a scalpel.

Ahhhh, now I see...the fork is food, and the knife is medicine and surgery. 

The book focused a lot on the importance of a plant based diet, and reminded me very much of a documentary I watched with Scott called Food Inc. I really believe this message to be true, although they did not talk a lot about exercise, which is just as equally important as food to our bodies. We really should be eating plant based whole foods, and animal protein only sparingly.

I did feel guilty after reading this book. I feel badly about the sugar and fast food that my kids have consumed, because I know those are my decision as their parent. Well, enough guilt...it is time to move on and create healthier options all the time. I know that it is pure laziness on my part if we eat already prepared meals, or have to go out for fast food because I don't feel like cooking. Granted, there are days like this, but maybe the option can be to do something simple from home, where we know what is going in the food!

All in all, an eye opening read, and there were a ton of recipes at the back. I tried a few, and was inspired to really take a look at our weekly menu. The largest challenge is finding food ideas that the kids will love, and getting them to "just try it".