Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tea Time

Miss Mega is 1 year 1 month old
Zilla is 3 years 10 months old
Last week we started adding a bit of more structure to our days.  While I wouldn't say we are homeschooling yet... Zilla is still 3 and our schedule is inconsistent... I think this is a first step.  With 2 kids I find that our days go much smoother if there are planned activities at regular times.
One of the greatest things about our new routine is having a morning tea time with Zilla.  I drink my "tea" (mint) hot but he takes his with ice cubes.  Sharing a snack gives him the chance to practice serving (pouring tea, cutting bread, etc.) as well as gives us some time to chat on-on-one.

Here is our goal for a typical day schedule:
7 AM - Wake-up, eat breafast, shower/bath and dress
9 AM - School Time:
Circle Time: Read a book on the theme of the week, Bible story for the day, sing some songs, talk...
Activity time: Zilla has a set of drawers, each with an activity (cutting, writing, art), and a shelf with various things to do.  Mega has some options on her shelf and often closely observes her brother's work.  We also try to do a science project each day so depending on the difficulty level it is included at a time when it seems the most likely to succeed.
10 / 10:30 AM - Mega usually takes a morning nap around this time.  Once she is asleep Zilla and I have Tea Time.  If Mega doesn't sleep then she joins us for tea and a snack.
10:30 - Activity or Play time
12 Noon - Lunch.  I am learning not to be late with lunch.  Lateness makes crabby kids!  Also, it helps to have a simple lunch (leftovers!) so that the precious "good mood" time of the morning isn't wasted.  Mega must join us for lunch otherwise her rythm for the day gets thrown off.
1 / 1:30 PM - Zilla lays down to read/nap.  Mega and I will play or hang out.  Some days she gets into Zilla's toys and could care less abotu where I am or what I'm doing!!!
3/4 PM - Zilla must wake up by 4, if he fell asleep.  When he doesn't sleep the goal is 1 hour of quiet rest time.  Mega will often be ready for a short nap at this point in the day.
4 PM - Signing Time - There is a lull at this point in our day so it turns out to be a grea time to watch a Signing Time (or similar educational) DVD.
5 PM - Back to the kitchen - I need to get supper ready and the kids are usually ready for more activities or role play.  When they are not crabby this is a wonderful / creative time of day.
6 PM - Supper
7 PM - Relax and cuddles.  Zilla can choose 3 books to read before heading to bed.  Mega will sometimes choose 1.  At the moment they are all Berenstein Bears books so it takes at least a half hour to read them all!
8 PM Bedtime!  :-) The kids get ready (PJs, potty, brush teeth, go upstairs, prayers and 1 goodnight book) for bed. We have just one room upstairs and all 4 of us sleep there, often with the kids ending up in the bed.  Not an ideal arrangement but with aftershocks / earthquakes, power saving efforts and steep stairs this is the way it is for now.
Zilla will go to sleep on his own and Mega comes back down with me to fall asleep.  Since the kids love to play together it is nearly impossible to get them both to fall asleep in the same room at the same time.  I hope that by Christmas this year we can get a bed for them (low bunk style) so that they each have their own comfortable place to sleep.  At that time I hope they will quickly learn to go to sleep in the same room at the same time.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Within Reach

One of the things that has really made it easier to have a 2nd baby is being mindful of the idea of "Prepared Environment".  One helpful thing we've done is move the kid's bath robes down to a place they can reach.  This is great after shower time as Zilla can get his own robe and Miss Mega is learning to take down hers.  When they are done they both know where to hang the robes up, even if they don't get hung up perfectly!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Just Because...

Just Because...
Miss Mega is napping and I have a few minutes to sort out some pictures on the computer...
Just because she choose this dress...
Just because she is enjoys dressing up any outfit with a hat and shoes (that are 2 sizes too big!)
Just because...

2nd Opinions can be Good

This week on top of fighting jet lag as we try to return to "normal" life in this time zone, we've also been dealing with intense heat outside and Mega having a high fever for a few days.
This morning we woke up to Mega's rash-covered face.  Throughout the morning the rash spread and darkened.  The first first doctor who saw her heard about the fever and suggested that she be seen by a specialist as the symptoms could be caused by Rubella, Measles or Roseola, among other viruses. So, today a 2nd opinion was a good thing.  The 2nd doctor nailed it down to Roseola (突発性発疹).  When asked about being contagious his response was to the tune of " All kids get it sometime so don't worry if she spreads it" - not exactly the information we were looking for!  But I am thankful that in a country where sicknesses are taken very seriously that the one my daughter has is one that the Dr. isn't very concerned about.
A quick search online has shown that she is most likely no longer contagious.

When the kids get sick with something like this that "everyone gets" (in Japan, remember that I didn't grow up here) it make me wonder if I've had the sickness, or had a strain which is similar enough to prevent me from catching it from them!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Travel Bag Activities

Zilla is 3 years old
Miss Mega is 12 months old

We just returned from our summer vacation.  As I unpack and navigate the fun we call "jet lag" I want to make notes for next time.  The general guideline I use is 1 activity per child per hour of the longest flight.  Each activity should be in an individual bag as opening the bag can be part of the fun/challenge.  This meant having 20 activity bags packed in a carry-on suitcase for our trip.
When we had shorter trips by car or long dinners out it was really easy to grab just a few activities to take along. 
Here is the carry-on bag which was filled with activities for the kids to do on the plane:

A unique feature of this bag is the bottom side pocket.  It turned out to be just the right size for the back-up diapers and towels!  I bring a towel for each kid to use as a blanket/cover-up or in the worst case scenario, to help clean up a mess.
The other outer pockets had a couple of extra tote bags (for when we only wanted a few activities to take along to dinner, etc.) and one had extra hand wipes.
Here are four of Zilla's activities.  Two of them Mega enjoyed as well.
 ☆ BrainQuest Flashcards - While Mega is not quite ready for them Zilla can easily pass an hour with these.  I like that they encourage parent/child interaction in a natural way.
☆ Stickers and a note pad - Simple things can bring such joy!  Zilla was making up all kinds of stories as he set up the scenes on the notepad. This is one activity that both kids can do as Mega loves pealing stickers off and putting them on too.
☆ A Thomas book with magnetic pieces - This was a special treat for Zilla as he loves Thomas.  Magnetic pieces stick to the book making them less likely to get lost.
☆ A spiral book with dry erase markers - This is another thing that both kids enjoyed. 
For even the smallest trips each child has a backpack to wear.  Most of the time they are each allowed to pack 3 items (toys, books etc.) of their choice.  We limit it to 3 so we can keep track of what we are taking along.  Somehow on the way home though Miss Mega went way over the 3 item guideline!
When we left home she had the cloth book "Colors", Signing Time flashcards and the Hopkins doll.  During the 10 day journey she picked up 2 pairs of sunglasses, a dog in an igloo, a purse and a car. 
Here are some of Miss Mega's activities. 
☆ Animals - The top bag has 3 zipper pockets so the big pocket held a animal-themed board book while each of the smaller pockets became the home of animal finger puppets from Ikea.  Mega had as much fun trying to figure out how to open the various pockets as she did playing with the puppets/book!
☆ The glove with animals on each finger also is a book for the song "Old McDonald". 
☆ Stickers and notepad -For Mega I put in some old, large stickers and a blank notepad on a small clipboard (for support).  She enjoyed this activity the most.
☆ Cloth book with pictures - Since the main purpose of our trip was to see family we brought along a cloth picture book with family pics in it.  It was good to look at them before we saw everyone so the kids could get a handle on names / faces and great to look at again on the way home as we talked about who we had seen and the time we spent together.
☆ The two sets on the right are reusable sticker books.  Zilla loves the train one. 
☆ A mini magnadoodle
☆ Work set - Zilla loves to pretend to be a worker so I put this together just for him.  It includes a note pad (the school bus), tape measure (smiley face), calculator (which he thinks can double as a phone) and a pen which lights up.  After opening this set he got really excited about measuring anything on the plane he could reach.  The light-up pen on a dark plane was great fun for Mega to play with too!

Here is our plane set - "Lisa's Plane Trip" talks about what the ride on the plane is like while "A Day at the Airport" can help to answer all the questions about what goes on outside the plane.  A little plane toy made a nice touch as the kids could fly along as we read.

☆ Coloring book and pencils in a tin
☆ Magnet backdrop with magnetic vehicles to drive around town (There are similar sets with a house or zoo theme too)
☆ Little wooden train set - a favorite for both kids

☆ A little coin purse with rubber bracelets inside - I don't know why but they both love this one too.
☆ Alaska Animals - Special for this trip, a few flashcards with their matching animal model and a field guide of animal tracks.  This came in handy on the days we were seeing the wildlife up close!

Here are the links to my other posts with travel activities:
Travel Activities
Plane Entertainment Toddler Style