April the Giraffe, I Can Relate

Poor April.

Millions of people are watching as webcams stream the pregnant giraffe around the clock. The obsession has been going on for more than a month. Everyone from animal experts to the average Joe is analyzing April’s every move, including all of the movement in her belly, and speculating on when she’ll give birth. You can even place bets on when the little giraffe will make its debut. You’ve got 14-1 odds the baby will be born Sunday. I’ll give you even odds April the Giraffe is tired of the attention.

Any pregnant woman who’s gone past her due date can relate to April’s situation. Strangers think it’s perfectly acceptable to make comments like, “Woah! You’re as big as a house! You could pop at any minute!” Forget personal privacy. Everyone wants to know about your dilation and contractions, and they have no reservations about asking you.

The same way people are incredulous when they log on the live webcam and find April is still pregnant, they seem frustrated and annoyed when a pregnant woman hasn’t found a way to birth her baby (as if it’s up to us!) They’ll offer the same advice you’ve heard everywhere else. They’ll tell you to eat spicy foods, go for walks or have sex. It worked for them, they’ll say. Why hasn’t it worked for you?

Some of the latest headlines declare April is “cranky” and “agitated.” What female isn’t at this stage of pregnancy?! Talking to a woman who is nine months pregnant is like playing roulette. You hold your breath and hope you’re catching her at a good moment (which, let’s be honest, are few and far between.)

The good news for women is our pregnancies almost seem easy, compared to a giraffe’s. Their gestation is 15 months. (See, nine months isn’t so bad!) But here’s the kicker (pun intended!), a baby giraffe is born six-feet-tall and weighing 150 pounds. Kinda makes a 10-pound baby not seem so bad!

 
From one mama to another, best wishes to April. I hope you get to meet your not-so-little one soon!

Bracket Challenge: Preschool Edition

It’s time for the tournament. March Madness. The Big Dance.

This year, you can get the kids in on the fun with their own March Madness bracket challenge! I designed it with toddlers and preschoolers in mind.

Here’s how it works:

There are 4 categories: Physical, Literacy, Math & Art. Kids can do each activity in the Sweet 16, and their favorite activity in each matchup moves forward in the “tournament.” The winners then go head to head with other winners, and eventually the kids will determine their favorite activity of the whole March Madness.

You can download the bracket for free, and I’ve got links to letter and number tracing sheets, pattern sheets and an upper & lowercase letter matching game as well.

 
It’s a great chance for kids to get a little exercise, practice their motor and math skills and have some fun. And just like many of us, they don’t need to know a thing about basketball to join in!

Kids March Madness Bracket

Tracing ABCs

Tracing Numbers

Pattern Sheet

Matching Upper & Lower Case Letters

Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Kids around the country are celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss. The famous children’s author would have turned 113 this year. You can do more than read Dr. Seuss books – you can make the pages come alive with some fun crafts and activities!
Check out the pictures below for inspiration, and click here to watch my interview with WCCO on ways to get kids engaged in reading.

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Let it snow… Let it snow… Let it snow?

If you’re like most Minnesotans, you knew this stretch of unseasonably beautiful February weather wasn’t going to last. What we didn’t know is it would come to a crashing halt, in the form of multiple inches of snow within 24 hours.

If there’s one thing I know about snow, it’s that while it’s frustrating for adults, it’s magical for kids. Instead of grumbling about all the shoveling and the slow commutes, kiddos see snow as an adventure and an opportunity to play!

Of course, the traditional snow fun never goes out of style: snowmen, snow angels, sledding, skating, slipping and sliding. But kids also love the unexpected. Nothing makes them giggle and get excited like breaking the rules and doing something new! So, consider some new ways to get outside and play:snow-fun

Bulk Up Supplies

Here’s the benefit of a snowstorm in late February: stores have already moved on from winter and started filling shelves with clothes and toys for spring and summer. Check the clearance section and you’ll probably find some good deals on snow supplies. Try some snow fort builders, snow paint or even a snow scooter!

Think Spring

There’s no reason you need to pack up the hoola hoops and t-ball gear. Playing with summer equipment in the snow can be a blast! Try pulling out the bubbles, too! You’ll find a new way to play with them by getting them to freeze to the wand.

Take the Inside Out

While there are countless toys intended to go outside, there’s nothing sillier than taking inside toys outside. Your kids will feel like they’re on an adventure if they get to take a toy from their bedroom to the back yard! Superheros, princesses, arctic animals would all be great for romping in the snow.

Bring the Outside In

If you don’t feel like strapping on snow pants and zipping up coats, bring some of the snow inside! Kids can bury rocks, small toys and other objects in a bucket of snow and have fun shoveling it out. You can also give a lesson on freezing and melting by putting some snow on the counter, in the fridge and freezer and seeing which lasts the longest.
The morale of the story: winter is back. And there’s snow time like the present to embrace it!

I Love You… You Love You

Valentine’s Day is more than paper cards and candy hearts. It’s an opportunity to show our love to our friends and family. While we’re spreading that love, it’s also a good time to teach our kids how to point Cupid’s arrow at their own hearts!

Helping kids learn to love and accept themselves is our responsibility as parents. It’s an important lesson that will help build their self esteem and set them up for success in many social settings, including school and sports.

What are some ways we can teach our kids to love themselves?

Lead by Example

We as parents can model what it means to love ourselves. Do not put yourself down in front of your kids, but rather keep your comments about yourself positive. And make sure you take time for yourself. This can be hard when you feel like you only have time to take care of your family, but it will send an important message about self-fulfillment.

love-yourself-picture-for-mvc-blog

Take an Interest

Show your kids what they do is important to you by talking with them about their interests and activities. I understand how busy parents are, but try to attend their games, parents’ day at school, plays and award ceremonies. If you can’t make it, be sure to explain why. By showing interest in your kids, you’ll help build their sense of pride.

Give Them Responsibility

In my house, the kids help with setting up lunch time, cleaning up our toys, etc. Kids like to feel useful and valued. When children do a good job- tell them! You can also reward a job well done by letting your kids do something special or giving them more responsibility. This helps build their self-confidence.

Celebrate Differences

By helping children develop acceptance for those with different cultures, backgrounds and physical and mental abilities, you’re also helping them accept themselves. It can be as simple as watching movies, reading books or spending time with a variety of people. Be sure to point out other people’s strengths and not just their differences.

Real Men Play With Dolls

What’s manlier than a husband who loves watching football on Sundays? A man who’s not afraid to roll up his sleeves for an afternoon of playing with dolls!

That’s the message from an adorable new campaign by Mattel. The #DadsWhoPlayBarbie ads debuted during the NFL Playoffs. They show manly men describing their love of football and then sharing their secret: they also love to play Barbies with their daughters.

Let’s take a moment to celebrate these dads! Whether it’s  dressing up Barbies, doing arts and crafts or anything else, spending time with Dad can play a huge factor in a child’s life. Studies have shown a dad’s presence in a baby’s life can benefit areas including emotional security, social skills, problem solving and academic performance.

But if Barbies aren’t your thing, there are many more ways for dads to bond with their kids.

dadtie

Crack a Book

You don’t even need to wait for the baby to be born for this one! There are several great books designed for future dads to read to future moms’ bellies. It doesn’t matter what you read to a baby inside or outside of the womb. What matters is that you’re exposing the baby to your voice. You could read the newspaper or an online product review. Of course, once the baby starts understanding words, you may want to switch to a more traditional children’s book.

Be a Goofball

Moms may cringe when they see dads tossing their little ones in the air or hanging them by their ankles, but a father’s goofball antics can actually be very important to child’s development. By roughhousing with your kids, you’re helping them with physical development, coordination and also teaching them the boundaries of healthy risk-taking.

Start Gabbing

This may be the easiest way to bond with your baby, but dads aren’t doing it! A fascinating study recorded moms & dads’ interaction with their kiddos at home. It found when a toddler made noise, moms responded to them about 90% of the time. Dads, on the other hand, only talked back about 30% of the time. It’s important for a child’s language development to hear from both parents. So, get chatty!

Take a Hike

It doesn’t matter how old your little one is, a walk is always a fun bonding experience. You can take a baby in a stroller; you can take a toddler in a wagon; older kids can either hoof it or ride a bike. Not to mention the added benefits of getting a little fresh air and exercise.

“Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad.” -Anne Geddes