Friday, December 31, 2010

Dino Days

The Little Guy is 3 years and 2 months old
It has happened.  The time has come.  It seems like most kids have phases of interest and one phase that is particularly strong for many boys are their Dino Days.  The Little Guy has started showing an interest in dinosaurs.  He received a set of dinos at a Christmas party. I must admit that I'm surprised it has taken him almost 2 weeks before starting the "why" and "how" questions!
We are starting the exploration of dinosaurs slowly by identifying the dinos he already has and learning a little bit about each one.  Have you seen the PBS (American Public TV - like NHK-E) show Dinosaur Train?  I downloaded a few episodes a while back on iTunes.  It is a starting point for little kids who know basically nothing of dinosaurs - or parents who remember very little from school!
Here are our dinosaur figures and flashcards that I printed, laminated and put on a ring.  The cards are from the Dinosaur Train Field Guide.  Over the next few weeks I plan to prepare the cards for the dinosaurs that we don't have and add them to the set.  We'll use them for identifying various dinosaurs in books, DVDs, posters, etc.
I'm also hunting for a few good dinosaur books.  There are so many to choose from but most that I've seen are too difficult for a 3 year old. I have ordered "What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs?" by John D. Morris and "The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible" by Paul S. Taylor from Amazon.  The DK Publishing dinosaur books look interesting too but I think they are a bit too difficult right now.
In my search for information I found some other good dino info on the Answers In Genesis page that you may be interested in too.

Biker Boy

Little Guy is 3 years and 2 months old
We have a biker boy!
I've been wondering when this day would come... the trike has been one of the most loved toys at our home but until yesterday the peddles were always neglected.

Learning to ride a bike is one of those things I tried to be patient about.  I knew the Little Guy would figure it out when the time was right.

I think we will need to get a bigger bike come spring as the Little Guy has rather long legs!

Monday, December 27, 2010

2 Good Questions

Angels fly so why do they have feet?

How to candles get shorter?

Who says that little kids don't pay attention in church...

The Christmas Story - Retold

Little Guy is 3 years and 2 months old
During the past month of Advent the Christmas story has been retold and acted out many different times and in many different ways. Perhaps one of the best renditions of the season is the one that happened after church on Christmas Eve.
 Here is what the set looked like during the church service.  

Baby Jesus and friends were just hanging out, minding their own business when... 

 The Little Guy decided to help the angels get closer to the action.

 He carefully flew each angel closer to the manger scene while blowing on their wings to make them flap so they could fly.

The gifts from the Wise Men were put within Baby Jesus reach so he could open them. 

After "fixing" the manger scene the Little Guy brought each person one-by-one to come and see what he had done.  He also spent a few minutes explaining the improvements.  His joy and excitement was overflowing!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Merry Christmas!

 Today and tomorrow are filled with Christmas celebrations at church.  We're having fun celebrating Christ's birth.  Above is the manger scene Advent calendar which was put together by the Bible Study students.  Below are trees the kids made at their party today.
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How Things Work

Little Guy is 3 years and 2 months old
For the past few weeks my days have been filled with "Why, Mommy, why?"
It is the answer to just about every question....
It is the question which drives me crazy!!!

The Little Guy is really into knowing everything about everything.
"How does the elevator work?"  "Why do we have to stand behind the yellow line?" "Why do we need a ticket?"  "Where does the money go?" "How does the train work?" "Why are you carrying my sister?" 
These are just a few of the questions from the 5 minutes we spent waiting to get on the train.  Can you imagine this going on all day long?!?!

Ok, I don't mind the questions most of the time and I try my best to give understandable answers... but there are some things I simply don't know.  Of course if I say that I don't know the answer the next question is "Why don't you know?" "Why don't you find the answer and tell me?"  "Why, Mommy, Why?"

So, I am on the search for books that will help a 3 yr. old to understand things.  I came across "How Things Work" by Conrad Mason on Amazon.  If you click on the link you can take a peek inside.  The lift-the-flap format works great for showing the inside of various machines.  Also, the explanations are simple yet detailed enough for even me to understand how an engine works.

If you have a curious preschooler this book may be just the thing to satisfy a bit of the curiosity!  (For a day at least...)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

All Aboard!

Little Guy is 3 years and 2 months old
Little Lady is 4 months old
You are invited to ride on the Little Guy's train!
Little Lady gets to ride in the caboose.
The kids have been fighting the first colds of the seaon which means we are having more indoor time than normal.  The kitchen/dining room has been rearranged a number of times during the past week.  As you can see, a bit of creativity can keep them from getting bored!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Importance of Tummy Time

I read this article today about the importance of tummy time.  It does a good job of explaining things in a way that is easy to understand.

I have copied the article below for those of you who need the help of Google Translate to read it.
この以下はGoogle Translateという翻訳のページに入れると(ちょっと変な)日本語で読める。
Tummy Time
Why babies need more of it than they're getting.
By Brian Mossop
Posted Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, at 2:29 PM ET

In the early 1940s, Dr. Harold Abramson, a New York pediatrician, pored over heartrending reports of babies who accidentally suffocated while they slept. As he reviewed case after case, he noticed that a vast majority of the deaths occurred when babies slept on their stomachs. In a commentary in the Journal of Pediatrics, Abramson suggested that the many case reports of infant suffocation hinted that a newborn's sleeping position might contribute to so-called "crib death," later called SIDS. In the following decades, other researchers noticed that SIDS was less common in countries where infants typically slept on their backs. Fifty years after Abramson's study, the American Academy of Pediatrics formally launched a "Back to Sleep" campaign, instructing parents to put babies to sleep on their backs during their first year. The campaign has been hugely successful: Since it started in 1992, the SIDS rate in the United States has been cut in half.
There's a drawback, however: Telling parents not to put babies to sleep on their stomachs has scared them away from placing babies on their bellies altogether. And taking away "tummy time," it turns out, cuts off a pivotal avenue of development. The less time infants spend on their stomachs, the slower they generally are to acquire motor skills during their first year, which means the potential delay of simple feats like lifting their heads as well as more-complicated movements like rolling over, crawling, and pulling to stand. Doctors have hesitated to sound the alarm about this, since children usually walk shortly after their first birthday regardless of how much tummy time they've had. But a growing body of evidence now suggests that the timing of the motor-skill milestones that precede walking is crucial and can even factor into long-term health and cognitive ability.

Four years after the Back to Sleep campaign launched, its inadvertent effects started trickling into the clinic. Most notably, some infants had disfiguring flat spots on the back soft crowns of their heads. It took a few years for researchers and doctors to realize that the change in sleeping position also affected prewalking motor skills (whether or not a baby had a misshaped head). Then in 2004, a research team led by Bradley Thach at the Washington University School of Medicine studied the difference in head movements between stomach and back sleepers. Thach showed that babies who spent nights on their bellies quickly developed the brain connections and muscle strength to turn their heads from side to side—one of the first motor-skill hurdles. Babies who consistently slept on their backs, on the other hand, were less likely to have sufficient head mobility at 3 to 5 months.

Next a research group at McGill University, directed by Annette Majnemer, weighed in on the effect of sleeping position on development at six months. They found continuing motor setbacks. A larger fraction of the back sleepers than the tummy sleepers couldn't roll over, touch their toes, or sit upright with arm support.

Pediatricians have had mixed reactions to these clinical observations. Some have passed off the flat heads as a passing cosmetic issue and the lag in prewalking motor-skill development as inconsequential. Others, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, champion of the Back to Sleep campaign, have seen the head shapes and motor hang-ups as a harbinger of future problems and recommended supervised tummy time when a baby is awake.

Still, according to a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 90 percent of new mothers receive the proper instructions to put their newborns to sleep on their backs, but only 55 percent are counseled on the importance of having their children spend supervised playtime on their stomachs. Even when parents get the tummy-time instructions, they don't necessarily heed them. Instead, they complain that it's hard to get their babies to play on their tummies. That's understandable, because before a baby can pull himself up, lying face down often isn't much fun. Frustrated by their kids' frustration, parents often give up.

How do we know that the babies who miss out on tummy time are at a lasting as opposed to temporary disadvantage? Looking at data from thousands of people born in 1966 in Northern Finland, a research group led by Charlotte Ridgway at the Institute of Metabolic Sciences, Cambridge, has shown that a one-month delay in infant motor development had the same detrimental effect on how a 14-year-old performs in physical education class as a one-unit increase in the same child's body-mass index. Using the same Northern Finland cohort, Ridgway and her co-authors also mapped a one-to-one link between the age at which infants stand unaided in their first year—another critical prewalking milestone—and their muscle strength and endurance, as well as cardiovascular fitness, at age 31.

Another team of researchers, led by Graham Murray at the University of Cambridge, has been looking into how early motor lags could affect other parts of the brain, like the areas responsible for cognitive functions. Using Northern Finland data as well as stats from a second group of Brits born in 1946, this group found that the sooner children passed their prewalking motor-development marks, the better the more-complicated areas of their brains performed in later life. Every month in advance of the group average that a child learned to stand on his or her own translated to a half an IQ point increase at age 8. By age 26, early motor developers had higher reading comprehension. And by the time they hit their 30s, they had achieved a higher level of education and scored better on executive-function tasks like categorization—how fast they could group objects of similar shape and color.

What's the best way to make sure that babies who sleep on their backs get their share of tummy time? Dr. John Graham, a pediatrician and director of the Dysmophology Program at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, suggests parents get started soon after they bring their babies home from the hospital. (The exceptions to the tummy-time rule, Graham notes, are babies with weak or stiff necks, an occasional side effect of birth.) With babies who are too young to support their own heads, parents can lie down and cradle them on their chest, introducing the stomach position in a comforting way. When infants get older and get the head-lifting thing down, regularly placing toys around their field of view encourages them to look around and stretch. It's pretty basic, really. And if babies cry because they're not used to the stomach position, stick with it for a bit anyway. The long-term benefit is worth the short-term fuss.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2 Wooden Toys

Today the kids each received a special gift from a friend of the family.  I think we were all equally excited.  I had actually wanted the second one but wasn't sure about the timing of getting it and the price.  I'm so pleased that we now have it!

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I have a strong preference for wooden toys.  I would rather buy one well-made wooden toy then 4 or 5 plastic ones (with the exception of Lego).  I also shy away from cartoon character toys, electronic toys and anything that only has one way to use it.  If a toy can not stimulate the imagination it won't be played with for long.  
 Today we had a fire brigade hard at work in the living room. The 森の消防隊 has little people that "climb" down the ladder on their own which is a real hit!
This is the 森のうんどう会. The original use is that of a car ramp.  As you can see even a baby can enjoy this - as long as big brother keeps the cars going!  They played together like this for about a half hour this morning.
Both of these toys come from エド・インター and can be found on  If you are looking for a toddler gift one of these might work.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kids Know...

In the wee hours of the morning Little Guy came to my bed.  He wanted to snuggle and after a bit he said "Mommy, please get me medicine and the white thermometer". 

The fact that he was asking for medicine was a pretty good clue to how unwell he felt.  Also, asking for the white thermometer - that is the "real" one  - meant he wanted to have his temperature taken and not just play doctor.

Little Guy spent the day on the couch.  He slept most of the morning and turned it into a boat in the afternoon/evening.  By bedtime he seemed to be getting back to normal.

I don't enjoy having sick kids but it is interesting to see how they handle sickness differently as they get older!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Nativity Preschool Pack

It's naptime for the kids, well at least one of them is actually sleeping... so I am getting a few Christmas activities ready.  Have you seen the Nativity Preschool Pack from 1+1+1=1 ?
You can downlaod it here...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Start of Advent

We are off to a bit of a slow start this year but we are preparing for Christmas.  I love the month (give or take) of Advent because it allows us to really take time to prepare for the 12 days of Christmas.  
The first thing we do is put up the tree.  This usually happens the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving so the tree is ready for the first Sunday of Advent.  If time allows I like to have a tree decorating party.  We will have cookies and hot cocoa with music to set the mood as we prepare the tree.  
 Once the tree is up we put out the manger scene.  The whole holiday is about the babe in the manger so we try to keep the focus on that.
 Here is our Advent Calendar.  The little sheep moves from pocket to pocket as we count the days until Christmas.  I like to start from the bottom and have the sheep move up as the days pass.
 I've collected a number of devotion books over the years but this is one of my favorites.  We have used it for Bible Studies at church as well as devotions at home.  Each day connects a symbol to the message of the season.  The symbols are ornaments which can be added to the tree.
Of course one thing that the kids really get into is the Advent Wreath.  This is the fabric one which has been well loved (used a lot).  There is a similar one here.  When the kids get bigger we'll have a wreath/arrangement with real candles to light at mealtimes but for now I'm happy with the fabric one.

There are more things that we do so I'll post again sometime soon with more ideas!