Ahhhhhhh, summertime. Lazy days of sun and fun while your kids seem to forget every. single. thing. they've learned in school.
If you're anything like I am and absolutely love math, (ahem) you struggle with ways to keep your little ones up to par in the wonderful world of arithmetic while they splash their days away.
Have we got a treat for you.
There's an app called, "Zap Zap Math" your kids are going to love. It's bright, colorful and easy to use so it's truly a fun way for your children to learn - A far cry from the days of car rides with flashcards - to say the least.
Once our eight and nine year olds tried it, they were instantly hooked, making us happy they were learning, rather than simply playing meaningless games.
So go outside and play, have the best summer ever...but when it's time for your kids to brush up on those fabulous math skills...give this app a try. You'll be glad you did.
It never fails. Your kids jump in the car after school or practice and the same "conversation" begins.
"How was your day?"
Um, yeah. Even though some days they might be chatty Cathy's, most of the time it can be hard to get them to complete a sentence. Don't even get me started on once the electronics/devices come out.
Being a speech therapist, I wanted to think of a way to get them to not only respond with more than a one to two word answer, but to actually communicate. I came up with something that began as a way to start a conversation in the car, but turned into more than I'd planned.
It happened one day at a red light when the series of grunts and monosyllabic utterances had made their rounds from my three boys, when it hit me. I said, "Okay, red light, yellow light, green light". The boys looked up, while our little girl sat straight with a smile of curiosity.
"What do you mean?" One of them squinted.
"Red light. Tell me something bad about your day. Something you wish wouldn't have happened or could've gone a different way."
The kids looked somewhat confused, but a little interested.
"Yellow light. Tell me some news. It doesn't have to be good or bad, just news. It can be about anything."
Getting the idea, they added, "And green means good?"
"Yep. Green light is anything you're happy about. Good news. Friends, grades, any news you're excited about and want to share."
And so it began. Each day we had the routine of "Red light, yellow light, green light", starting with the bad and ending with the good.
It's made the biggest difference due to a very simple reason. Not only does it present an open ended style that requires more than a one to two word response, it provides a guide for them to follow. It allows them to know not only do I want to hear about their news, (the yellow) papers I need to sign, deadlines or projects coming up, but more importantly, I want to know the good and bad of their days. What made them happy or mad no matter how great or small. Everyday will have its ups and downs and it's okay to know even though you always hope for the good, some days will have more red than green. It provides a way to categorize and open up about not only what occurred, but how it made them feel.
So next time you're in the car and sitting at a red light, give it a try and see how it goes. You've got nothing to lose and who knows, it might get your kids to open up to more than you could've imagined.
Growing up, both my mom and dad came from Navy families. My grandfathers fought in WWII and I was raised in a home of blue and gold.
You can imagine their surprise then, when I met and fell in love with a cute boy from an Air Force family. I thought my parents and grandparents would disown me, but once they met him - that was all it took.
Today, Adam and I were fortunate enough to take our kids to see the two worlds combine in a magnificent airshow here in North Carolina. The power and speed of the demonstrations were enough to make your pulse pound and I couldn't help but think - it was something both sides of the family would've been more than happy to have seen...
There's a Magical land with hidden Fairies in every nook. Children who experience this place, will be given a dream that will burn in their hearts and memories for all time.
Winterthur is tucked away on an unassuming Delaware road that leads to wonder and adventure. It features a magnificent 175 room home which once belonged to Henry Francis du Pont of the DuPont Company. Upon our visit, we ventured on the 'Once Upon a Family' tour, given by the best guide on earth. She took us back in time to become visitors of the home, while the kids were treated as guests, learning about the traditions and expectations of the time period.
The American treasure is amazing in and of itself, but what truly captivated our visit, lied beyond the walls.
1,000 acres of land waited to be discovered with breathtaking gardens and woodlands so beautiful, it was at times difficult to believe. Finding a Faerie Cottage nestled in an Enchanted Garden, we were led to a troll bridge which tested our bravery to cross.
Watching the children run through the fairytale fragranced in perfumed lilacs, brought amazement and joy to their hearts and in turn, was impossible not to take into our own as well.
Maybe it was because we'd come from the rush and excitement of the city, I don't know. Spending the day in Washington D.C. was...well, a very long day to put it mildly.
It all began with high hopes and good spirits, but after hours spent walking from monument to monument, we became tired and grumpy.
The history and richness of our country's founding fathers was fantastic, don't get me wrong...but it was definitely an endless sea of "mall" that went on forever, and ever, and ever...
What can I say? Taking four kids to the grocery store is sometimes an act in futility. Packing them up to go into New York City made me question our level of sanity altogether.
Grabbing Adam's hand, we gave each other a quick squeeze with raised eyebrows and an expression of, "Let's do this" before letting go and hoping for the best.
We had a game plan. He would guide the pack through the busy streets while the kids stayed like ducks in a row between us so I could anchor the back, keeping them together.
The very. first. person. we came across was a man who spoke little to no English. I began a quick conversation with him in Spanish to ask for brief instruction for parking while the kids lowered their jaws one by one. They'd never heard me communicate in Spanish. They'd never seen or heard a number of things and we immediately realized this was either going to be one of the coolest days of their lives...or a complete and total nightmare.
Adam sometimes goes into NYC for work, so he thought about how the day should go. Figuring it'd be best to start off with a slower pace by exploring Central Park, then the American Museum of Natural History (the kids love the movie, 'Night at the Museum') we'd finally venture to the Granddaddy of them all - the hustle and bustle of the streets of New York, including Times Square and all its glory.
I can honestly say looking back on the day, it was probably one of the most amazing of all times. They say there's an energy there, a feeling like no other - and it's true. The sights, sounds, smells of pizza on one side of you with perfume from an open store door on the other, it all floods your senses with a magic that only the city can do.
I'm glad we took the chance to go. To see the day through their eyes filled with wonder made everything complete and I can only hope one day to return.
I love to travel. I guess it started as a child when my grandparents ventured around the world. It was before the time of the internet, (gasp) so other than reading a book or watching a show about other countries, we would rely on their pictures and tales of adventure in the Outback or the Great Wall of China.
My parents have taken their place and spend their retirement in more fascinating lands than I can imagine.
We, on the other hand...have four kids.
The closest thing we'll have to a window of the world is a loop around Epcot Center at Disney.
This year however, we decided to give it a try (a little closer to home), so when we had Spring Break, instead of going south to bask in the sun, we took the kids north to introduce them to the history and sights of Philadelphia, New York City and Washington D.C. There was even an enchanted day at a place called Winterthur with Fairy Gardens and magical lands.
I'm excited to post pictures over the next few days and will enjoy looking back on our scrapbook of sorts until we can go further in destination while chasing four cats.
Philadelphia was our first stop, holding more childhood dreams for my husband than anything else. He's waited his entire life to run up the stairs of 'Rocky', only to throw his arms up at the top. I swear the music was playing in the air and you're welcome, because I know it's in your head now, too.
It was a beautiful day, complete with checked off bucket lists, history lessons of our country - complete with Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, only to top things off with nothing but the greatest American cheesesteaks. Hooooooly moly the cheesesteak. (Thank You to our most Awesome Friends who recommended the Best places to find one.) Pat's King of Steaks was so good, it could make a grown man cry while the entire staff was beyond a Beautiful first impression to the heart of Philadelphia.
So even if you're like us and traveling distant lands isn't really an option, this trip showed me there's a whole world waiting for you right outside your door...even if it's yelling, "Yo, Adrian!" while holding a cheesesteak...and that sometimes, is the greatest adventure of all.
Love to Philly.
My husband's Grandmother from generations back was a full blooded Seneca Indian. It's pretty amazing to consider and I often wonder how that history was passed on to him and our kids as a result.
When my Mom said there was a Native American gathering nearby, I figured what could be better than to see a tiny piece of their history - firsthand.
It was a beautiful day with awe inspiring, brilliant colors dancing with beats of song and drum.
Any chance there is to look into one's past no matter how great or small, usually turns out to be an opportunity of a lifetime.
We were lucky to spend the day at Mom and Dad's for Easter. Love and Chocolate were in full supply as we enjoyed watching the kids color eggs, then hunt for them in the back yard, then at church, while ending the day with a boat ride and a visit with some friends.
We hope you had a Happy Easter for You and Yours! Hallelujah, Amen!
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Adam and Bea live in North Carolina with their three boys and a girl, Christian 14, Ethan 12, Preston 10 and Lauren Elizabeth 8 years old.