7 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Full-Day Kindergarten

Nope, not going to happen” was my consistent response to my husband when he put homeschooling on the table. He always reminded me that I have a Masters of Science in Education, and I would remind him of my spastic organizational skills. Privatized education, at-home learning, and the public education system; we explored them all, landing on the path we both walked as kids, public school.

I have escorted three of my children through the doors of elementary school, and left them for hours. With my oldest two it was only for two hours and 45 minutes. But this year I sent my five-year-old darling away for the whole day. For the 2015-16 school year, Oregon joined a slew of other states implementing full-day kindergarten, and it touts a banquet of benefits. There is more routine, better opportunity for social development, and longer instruction time for to the newest generation entering academia.

Our children are still learning to brush their hair, but we are asked to send them away for the entire day. Are they ready? Here are some tips from the trenches, and some recommendations from the lovely woman who spends 6 hours a day, 5 days a week with my daughter; one of your very own Oregon full-day kindergarten teachers.

  1. Wean Your Would-be Kindergartner From NapsPrep for full-day Kindergarten

Trust me, I begrudgingly enforced this last summer, but I can’t imagine how my daughter would have done in full-day kindergarten if I hadn’t. She was falling asleep when she got home into October, and once she even fell asleep in class. I told her she doesn’t need to be embarrassed, but we need to stay awake to learn. I empathize, and tell her it used to happen to me all the time. I just don’t let her know I was in high school.

  1. Count All the Things! At least up to 20

1…2…3…apples, books, or people in line in front of us. You can practice this skill virtually anywhere. Equipping your emerging learner with the skill of counting to 20 will have them ready to take on the world of mathematics…Continue Reading @ The Portland Moms Blog.

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Heroes Among Us @Venn Magazine

Standing in hero headquarters at Disneyland, I was immersed in all things Avengers. We inspected Iron Man suits, and beheld the mighty weapons of Asgard. And there, surrounded by the fictitiously fantastic, I wondered: “What a world of heroes would really look like?”

More and more, prime time and the big screen are filled with superpowered (Superman, The Flash, or Thor) or super-gadgeted (Batman, Iron Man, Ant-Man) heroes. Maybe America is caught up in the superhero craze because we want a hero, but we only want those we can’t be compared to. Of course we can’t have Tony Stark’s suit, or transform from the featherweight Steve Rodgers to the noble Captain America. And we can’t be Superman, because…well, we’re not aliens.

One of the common themes in every superhero tale is that heroes are feared. The fictional worlds, just as our present world, are filled with evil and need the supernatural to step in and bring justice. Yet, the human characters are afraid of power they do not understand. So they try to limit it. It is clear that mankind struggles with the concept of power higher than their own…read more at Venn Magazine. 

The Burden and Beauty of a Sister @PDX Moms Blog

Hey, hey, HEY! What is going on in here? In this house we don’t fight with our sister, we fight for her.”

This seems to be a common refrain for me these days, as I seek to break through the chattering cacophony of little girl voices seeking to be the most strident, shrewdest, and scrupulous of them all. I have three daughters, and as their legs get longer so does there resolve to fight for their ground, their wants, and their rights.

But you know what? They are 10, 7, and 6, so their ideas of what this means are seriously flawed, and I blame it on their underdeveloped brains. Someday they will be adults and they will see that it didn’t really matter where Barbie slept in her dream house, they should have let it go when someone was wearing their socks, and it’s okay to sit up so that everyone can share the couch. But, alas, today is not that day…read more at The Portland Moms Blog.

The Cost of New Life @Venn

I have moved across the country twice. Both times with no job in sight. I just figured I would find one when I got there. I still look back and wonder “What was I thinking?!” Along with, “Well that was fun.” It is this type of living that often becomes the downfall for those of us prone to reckless optimism. I did always find a job and was able to make it. However, not without a bit of debt. Moving on, starting anew, and chasing the dream always costs something. The question is, what are we willing to pay?

There is a part of me that loves the thrill of leaving it all behind and beginning again. Bold faith, relentless love, and dangerous hopes are all things I am naturally drawn to. But I alsocrave comfort. It sings a siren song to my hustling heart like no other. Overindulging at the invitation of this come-hither melody usually means I am devoured by procrastination, convenience, and entitlement.

I am constantly confronted with the fact that what makes me come alive requires discipline I am not always willing to give…(Read more at Venn Magazine)

The Mom’s Road Trip Survival Guide for Portland Moms Blog

I know just the title of this piece sounds like a bad idea. However, our family has taken many long road trips, and it’s worth it (especially, when you look at the price of flying a large family). We bond as our little clan journeys together, exploring new places, and building wonder-filled memories in the minds of our young kiddos. However, taking a 10+ hour drive hasn’t always been beautiful. In fact there are times it has felt like flat-out torture. Nursing babies, exploding diapers, and incessant bickering have led to many clenched jaws and yearning to escape the four-wheeled pressure cooker. But I have picked up some knowledge along the way, and here are my top ten survival tips for a family road trip:

Practical

  1. Make Sure There are TWO Adults in the Car

    This will give you someone to laugh with when the crazy hits. I know this is not always an option for everyone, but it really helps keep the other adult sane, awake, and off their phone.

  2. Prepare for the Unforeseen

    Are your kids prone to carsickness? Mine aren’t, but there was that one time on that one road trip where someone lost their lunch all over the backseat in the exact middle point of our trip. Here’s what would’ve been handy, and now we never travel without:

    1. Gallon-sized Ziploc bags. These fold up small and will hold a gallon’s worth of stomach contents, AND can also contain the smell of any soiled clothing until it can be washed.
    2. Paper towels
    3. A small spray bottle of odor-destroyer. You will really wish you had this should your kiddos get a tummy bug while stuck in the car.
    4. A first-aid kit
    5. Multiple sets of easy-to-grab clothes in the trunk of the car should you need them…See more at the Portland Moms Blog.
I know just the title of this piece sounds like a bad idea. However, our family has taken many long road trips, and it’s worth it (especially, when you look at the price of flying a large family). We bond as our little clan journeys together, exploring new places, and building wonder-filled memories in the minds of our young kiddos. However, taking a 10+ hour drive hasn’t always been beautiful. In fact there are times it has felt like flat-out torture. Nursing babies, exploding diapers, and incessant bickering have led to many clenched jaws and yearning to escape the four-wheeled pressure cooker. But I have picked up some knowledge along the way, and here are my top ten survival tips for a family road trip:

Road Trip Survival (1)
Practical

  1. Make Sure There are TWO Adults in the Car

    This will give you someone to laugh with when the crazy hits. I know this is not always an option for everyone, but it really helps keep the other adult sane, awake, and off their phone.

  2. Prepare for the Unforeseen

    Are your kids prone to carsickness? Mine aren’t, but there was that one time on that one road trip where someone lost their lunch all over the backseat in the exact middle point of our trip. Here’s what would’ve been handy, and now we never travel without:

    1. Gallon-sized Ziploc bags. These fold up small and will hold a gallon’s worth of stomach contents, AND can also contain the smell of any soiled clothing until it can be washed.
    2. Paper towels
    3. A small spray bottle of odor-destroyer. You will really wish you had this should your kiddos get a tummy bug while stuck in the car.
    4. A first-aid kit
    5. Multiple sets of easy-to-grab clothes in the trunk of the car should you need them
  1. Pack Some Food

    Traveling for over ten hours means you will likely need to eat two or more meals, not to mention snacks. IF you are going to eat fast food, ONLY do it once, and choose the least greasy options. Twice can cause stomach problems, and they will be more grumpy and whiny because they feel uncomfortable.

  2. Kill the “Are We There Yet?” QuestionSay Goodbye to-Are We There Yet-- (1)

    This question always starts about 15 minutes into the road trip. If your child can tell time say to them, “You can ask me that question again at (an overestimated time of when you think you’ll arrive o’clock).” If they can’t yet tell time or forget to wait for the official checkpoint, I usethis trick: Print out a picture of your car, glue a piece of a straw on the back, and run a ribbon through it. Now the car can move back and forth on the ribbon. Pin each end of the ribbon to one side of the car and move the car once an hour, telling them when the car reaches the end of the ribbon you will be at your destination. 

  3. Limit Fluid Intake

    If you’re traveling with at least three kiddos you know they don’t really need water every time they ask. Sometimes they are just bored and looking for something, anything to do. Just be careful to keep a close eye on how much they are drinking, or you will be making extra stops. When we know one of our planned stops is approximately 30 minutes away, we hand our kids juice boxes and let them have at it; but back in the car, sips are far and few between until the next stop nears.

Discipline

  1. Talking Time Out

    This works surprisingly well. If our kids start bickering or speaking words that tear down their siblings, we declare a talking time-out. Any and all offending children are not allowed to speak for 5, 10, maybe even 15 minutes depending on the severity of their offence.

  2. Clips of Self-ControlClips of Self-Control

    When you are all buckled in, discipline can get tricky. I found this system on Pinterest. The gist: each child gets a clothes pin with cut-out character on the sun visor. If their clip is still up at the next stop, they get a treat of some sort. Buy the treats ahead of time and have them in the car. Waiting for a bunch of kids to decide what they want at the truck stop might take more time than you would like. Bonus: avoid the potential sugar rush and inevitable crash by making their favorite activity the treat (coloring book, road trip game, or the power to pick the next song).

Boredom Killers

  1. Audio Books

    This is probably one of my favorite traditions we have picked up. We always check out an audio book from the library that the whole family can listen to, and preferably covers the whole trip. Some of our faves are The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Giver by Lois Lowery, and The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins.

  2. Technology Helps

    While I do think it is good to limit screen time for everyday use, I allow a brief break in that rule for extended road trips. Many family vehicles have built-in ways to watch movies and if yours (like ours) doesn’t, a laptop, a digital download on a tablet, or a portable DVD player of any variety is a Godsend. These also tend to make it easier for naps as they often lay their heads down on the one pillow we allowed them to bring, and drift off to sleep. For the first three hours of our trip, we say no movies. We promote books, car games, and discussion, but after that initial three-hour leg, it becomes more about maintaining the peace. We take breaks for an audio book, but I am grateful for this technology. I seriously wonder sometimes how my single mom did not LOSE HER MIND when she took my siblings and me on road trips.

  3. Adult Sustainment

    1. Headphones. When you are not driving and your driving partner is awake enough that you can take a brief time-out, these little beauties are your ticket to temporary escape.
    2. Plenty of pre-drive sleep!
    3. Coffee and/or energy drinks. In other words, DO NOT get sleepy; when roads are windy and children are sleeping make sure YOU are wide awake. Pull over if you have to or switch drivers. Your cargo and the others you share the road with are too precious.

road trip kid

What road trip tips do you have? Please add them in the comments.

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Thank You, Poison Control @ PDX Moms Blog

Thank You, Poison Control

“I didn’t have the number for the Poison Control Center in my phone the first time I needed it. The deadly substance that threatened my littles? Baby powder. I had it high on a shelf, seemingly safe out of reach for my three-year-old who had just begun to share a room with her one-year-old sister.The next morning they slept in, and I was feeling quite smug about the successful transition from my husband’s and my room, into sibling cohabitation. Then I heard laughing. They hadn’t been sleeping! I opened their door with a wave of anticipation. There they were; little, white dust-covered cherubs; one with a guilty look on her face, and the other with a look of pure joy.

The older of the two had scaled the dresser and laid hold of the prize. Then, with her chubby little hands, she sprinkled the baby powder ALL OVER the crib mattress. By the time I walked in they were both covered in the perfumed white talc, enveloped by a cloud of their own creation. They had been holding onto the crib railing, vaulting themselves into the air, and hammering their little legs into the now toxic crib sheet…” Continue reading at Portland Moms Blog.

UNAFFILIATED…CONFESSIONS OF A CHRISTIAN MILLENNIAL VOTER @ Venn Magazine

“As I watch the primaries for the 2016 presidential election, my preference is becoming all the more cemented: I choose NEITHER corrupted political party. I prefer to remain unaffiliated. 

I don’t believe in promoting policy for a political party’s sake. It’s a safe bet that I will not vote for someone just because they are sporting red or blue. I am even quite the skeptic when a candidate quotes the Bible to support their point. I always wonder if they’re using something I love to manipulate me.

I thought the first Clinton was cool when he played the saxophone on late-night television back in the 90’s, and had my optimism about the office crushed when Monica Lewinsky became a household name. I listened to my parent rant and rave about George W .Bush and his awkwardly dangling chads, and wondered how he might implement or veto legislation to help protect me from school shootings and terrorists.

I watched the West Wing and came close to choosing cynicism over hope when it was time to vote for change. I was thrilled to see an African-American take office, but I had yet to find a politician I felt I could fully support. I too wanted hope and change. But was this the right change?”… Continue reading at Venn Magazine.