Kids

ISLA’S ALPHABET WITH ELMER’S


Isla's Alphabet with Elmer'sOne of the best things about being a parent is watching my kids learn new things. Isla is three now and she’s constantly making us laugh and surprising us with random bits of knowledge.

Like that time we were at the doctor’s office and she picked an ocean book from the office library to take home. She was “reading” the book in the waiting area with me and suddenly she exclaimed, “It’s a manatee, Mama! Manatees have tails, and they eat seaweed.” I looked at the words on the page and it was as if she was reading it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. “My kid is a genius,” I thought. The same thing every mom thinks when her child does something amazing (every day). It turns out there’s an episode of Isla’s favorite show (“Diego”) that’s all about manatees, which means she knows more about them than I do!

One of the (many) hard parts of parenting is, for me, figuring out ways and finding time to teach our kids at home. Isla’s in preschool only part-time so it’s important for us to reinforce the things she’s learning. We found out early in the year that her class will focus on the alphabet and her teacher stressed to me that it’s important for kids to really understand, not just memorize. Just because a child can count to 10 or recite the alphabet, that doesn’t mean he or she truly understands what it means or can apply it in real life. This all led me to a fun, easy daily project we could do at home.

We call it “Letter of the Day.” You’ve heard of such a thing, I’m sure!

We started out by picking one letter every morning and then asking Isla to help us sound out words that begin with that letter. We’d write them all down for her and draw pictures and she’d color them. It was a fun way to focus on our letters and apply them to objects she already knows. But over time our letter pages got lost in the shuffle and I wasn’t certain she was retaining what she was learning from day-to-day, so the project faded away.

Then I got an opportunity to work with Elmer’s® brand here on the blog and I came up with a fun way to make our Letter of the Day project more productive. I ran to Target, and for less than $10 picked up a few Elmer’s products: a Foam Tri-Fold Display Board (currently available in store but not online), Disappearing Purple Glue Sticks and Board Mate Reusable Stencils.

Here’s how our new and improved Letter of the Day project works:

Every morning (that Isla doesn’t have school), we pick one letter. Then we find the big and small stencils for that letter and any shapes that begin with that letter. Together we trace the letters and shapes onto colored construction paper and I write down and draw words, animals and objects that start with our letter.

As we’re going along coloring and tracing, I’m constantly asking, “Now what’s the letter today? Do you remember?” And together we sound it out again and again and I try to reinforce the letter and the words. Her favorite part, though, is the gluing. Of course! Once I’ve cut everything out she glues the paper onto the tri-fold display board and then we go over the letters and words again and sound them out. When she’s had enough (after about 10 minutes) she closes up the tri-fold and says, “Okay, mama, I’m done. I need chocolate!” Because that one time I rewarded her with chocolate and she will not let me forget it! Not my best idea but I’m calling it a win anyway.

My favorite thing about the display board is that we get to go back and look at all of the letters from previous days. We did the letter “M” on our second day and Isla always goes back to the manatee picture I tried to draw. (Don’t judge me, I was an English major.) She loves that manatee and remembers that manatee begins with the letter M. We reinforce it every day and she is so proud of herself as she points to everything and identifies the letters and names of the objects or animals. She even shouts out little fun facts that I write on the board, like “Manatee has a tail!” or “S is for Sister, like Isla!” The other day she pointed to the words at the top of the board, which read, “Isla’s Alphabet” and said, “Isla! That’s me!” I love that seeing it every day has helped her recognize her own name!

After breakfast on the third day, Isla said to me, “Time for letter of the day, Mama!” That was music to my mama ears. To know Isla is not just learning, but enjoying the process is everything I had hoped. It’s a small, inexpensive idea with a potentially big impact, and it offers us a few uninterrupted minutes to spend together on a shared project. There is no greater joy as a parent than sharing these moments together and knowing my daughter is learning something valuable along the way.

Thanks, Elmer’s® brand, for sponsoring this blog post! (This idea and any thoughts expressed in this post are all mine. I promise.)

UPDATE: Special offer for my readers: Get 10% off Elmer’s Board Mate display boards, foam core boards, and Board Mate board accessories, using the Target Cartwheel app!

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Life

WHY I MARCH

Women's March 2017People from every corner of the world joined together with one voice on Saturday to fight not just for women’s rights, but for human rights. It was a humbling, awe-inspiring, hopeful, yet sad and frustrating day. I find myself constantly wondering, “How the hell did we get here?” but for many, it’s really not that surprising.

I am a liberal, white, upper middle class, heterosexual woman. I work hard and feel passionately about a great many things, but my life has been relatively easy. I was raised by financially comfortable, progressive parents and had access to a good education.

I was born into privilege and it has followed me throughout my life.

My perspective is valuable and important, sure, but no more than anyone else’s. And it’s useless if it’s the only one I care about. I feel strongly, I’m loud with my opinions and I’m often certain I’m on the right side of history, but I live in a bubble. And I don’t mean that “coastal elite bubble” everyone on the news is blaming for the outcome of this election. I mean the separate bubble occupied by those of us who have never had to truly fight for basic human rights. I will never understand what it’s like to be a person of color and face racism every single day. Or how it feels to be told you’re an abomination because you fell in love with someone of the same gender, or felt like you were born in the wrong body. I hope I never have to worry about how I’m going to put food on my kids’ plates, keep the lights on, pay medical bills or get into a “good neighborhood” so my kids can receive a quality education.

Saturday’s march, for me, was about something bigger than one narcissist on his throne of ignorance. It was about stepping outside my bubble, gaining perspective, seeing the faces and hearing the voices of people who are both nothing like me and exactly like me. It was about showing my children I am willing to fight for what I believe. It was about human decency. The right to love freely, live without fear and have equal opportunity.

Marching was empowering, but it was easy, which means it wasn’t enough.

I am ready for what comes next because we are one beautifully diverse world, and the only way I can give my kids a better future is if you can, too.
Women's March 2017 Women's March 2017 Women's March 2017Women's March 2017 Women's March 2017Women's March 2017Women's March 2017Women's March 2017Women's March 2017 Women's March 2017Women's March 2017Women's March 2017Women's March 2017Women's March 2017Women's March 2017

Life

TWENTY SIXTEEN

Family Photos with Kate Leigh, Philadelphia{Family photos with Kate Leigh}

It’s hard to wax poetic about a year filled with so much negativity. But I want to focus on the good, which sometimes feels selfish but also may be the only path forward. So for the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to remember all the personally happy moments I can recall from 2016.

Such as ….

Isla began (and fell in love with) preschool and made a classroom full of new buddies. We threw Theo a first birthday party. My lovely friend Susie launched a new shop to bring us all a little good luck. Our kids are happy and healthy. My cousin got married! And our kids were Vanity Fair cover-worthy at her wedding. My other cousin moved to Philly! My sister-in-law gave birth to a healthy, perfect baby girl! I got dressed a lot. We spent just about every summer Friday at Happy Hour with our neighborhood friends (kids included). I vowed to stop body shaming myself and others. There is no better husband than mine. Chris and I made new adult friends and found time to connect with old ones. My 93-year-old Anya is alive and well. Chris and I took our kids with us to vote for Hillary Clinton, the first major party female candidate for president, and despite the outcome, I will, for eternity, remain incredibly proud of that vote and of the moment I shared in the booth with my daughter. And as a result of that election, I grew immensely close to a beautiful group of women and fellow moms from Isla’s school. I joined a bunch of women to learn how to brew beer. We donated about half  of our “things” to a couple of good causes.

There is a lot of uncertainty as we head into the new year. I am personally experiencing both excitement and fear. While I intend to remain vigilant, vocal and steadfast in my own beliefs, I also want to chart a positive course that affects not only myself and my family, but others both near and far. I have a lot of thoughts on how to move forward, some concrete, some a little more abstract. I’m not one for new year’s resolutions, but this seems like a good year to have a few positive goals to live by.

In the meantime, let me say this: 2016 is behind us, but it’s just a number. The ceremonial dropping of the ball changes nothing unless we want it to. As we approach 2017, let us do it together, with one eye on a bright, inclusive, prosperous future filled with kindness and generosity, and the other eye on the lookout, ready to fight injustice, speak up against hate and lend a hand to those who need it most.

Happy New Year, my dear friends. May 2017 bring you peace, love, kindness, comfort and positive change.

Here’s just a sampling of a few of my favorite 2016 moments as documented on these pages.

#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party cake by Vanilya Bakery, East Passyunk {Theo’s first birthday party}Kid bridal party{My cousin’s wedding}theo_is_one_12{Theo’s first birthday}Ice skating at Delaware River Waterfront Riverrink{Ice skating for Isla’s second birthday}Eight Month Photo Shoot in Nursery{Theo’s eight-month photo shoot}
Rabbit Rabbit Top by Letter19Design Etsy {Rabbit Rabbit}Monthly baby photo shoot: Theo is Five Months{Theo’s five-month photo shoot}Easter 2016{Easter}Hers and Mine Tulle Skirts{Hers and mine}Isla sining Adele in nursery{Singing to Adele and Ellie}Madewell Silk Cutout Jumpsuit{Pantsuit … Nation}{Documenting Isla’s first year with Artifact Uprising}Theo Three Months{Theo’s three-month photo shoot}Franklin Fountain hot chocolate at Delaware River Waterfront Blue Cross RiverRink{Isla’s first hot cocoa}Cape May, NJ Beach{The beach with buddies}Theo Six Months | Little Lovely Company lightbox{Theo’s six-month photo shoot} Bat Boy and Cat Girl Halloween Costumes 2016{Halloween}Seven-Month Baby Photos{Theo’s seven-month photo shoot}Isla Bee{Theo’s 11-month photo shoot}10 Month Baby Photo Shoot in Nursery with lightbox{Theo’s 10-month photo shoot}Family Photos with Kate Leigh, Philadelphia{Family photos with Kate Leigh}Family Photos with Kate Leigh, Philadelphia{Family photos with Kate Leigh}{I regret my silence}Bat Boy and Cat Girl Halloween Costumes 2016{Halloween catwalk}
Memorial Day Weekend{Memorial Day Weekend}

Life

CHRISTMAS DAY

Christmas 2016I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! We spent Christmas morning at home with the kids and it was everything I had hoped it would be, despite all four of us being sick. Isla sweetly helped Theo open all of his presents and they played nicely all morning. They giggled and oohed and aahed as they opened every gift. Theo kept picking up all the unopened presents (some were bigger than he was) and handing them to us so we could help him open them. We kept the presents to a minimum again this year because I’ve found they find one they like and carry it around and sleep with it and love it so much they forget about all the others anyway. Isla asked Santa to bring Theo a scooter for Christmas and boy does she know her little brother well. He loved it! Now they both have one and as soon as his helmet arrives we’ll go cruising through the neighborhood. My parents bought Isla a Peppa Pig doll house and she carries that thing everywhere now. She even slept with it on Christmas night. She’s at the age when she can spend hours playing make-believe with all her cats and dolls and kiddie kitchen. It’s the sweetest thing. Theo also got a drum (our little musician), a pair of sunglasses to match his daddy’s Ray-Bans and he was pretty obsessed with the Paw Patrol underpants Isla found in her stocking. It was a Christmas for the books.

Happy Holidays!Christmas 2016Christmas 2016Christmas 2016Christmas 2016 Christmas 2016Christmas 2016Christmas 2016Christmas 2016Christmas 2016 Christmas 2016 Christmas 2016 Christmas 2016

Life

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Merry Christmas 2016A very Merry Christmas, from Santa and her reindeer. 

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