Effing Four Year Olds, Kids' Activities, momlife, parenting, The Salties, Tips & Hacks

10 School Readiness Skills (That Have NOTHING to Do with Academics!)

 

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The school year is rapidly approaching, and for the very first time, I am preparing my own little girl for going “Back to School.” As a former teacher, there are soooo many things I want to teach her before school starts- and believe it or not, letters and numbers are the least of my concerns! Here’s ten things that you can teach your kids that your Kindergarten/TK/Pre-K teacher will LOVE you for.

1. How to Write Their Name
This is a really, really hard thing to teach whole group. Spend a little time having them trace their name before having them move on to writing it solo. And feel free to leave the paper and pencil approach until later- check out Practical Name Writing in 12 Fun Ways by Hands On As We Grow.

2. Cutting on a Line/Curve
Similar to the skill above, scissor skills are really tricky to teach when you’re no longer one-on-one. Show your kiddo how to hold the scissors, to use them safely, and to move the paper (not the scissors) as they cut. You can draw lines on paper for them to practice with, or buy this colorful activity book that gets progressively harder with each page.

3. Coloring Skills
Now listen, we LOVE a kid who colors outside of the lines. BUT, there are times when coloring inside is important, too. Help your child to learn the difference between coloring for fun and coloring on schoolwork. Help them to decide when to use “realistic colors” versus when they can go rogue. Any coloring book can be used for this, but this fun book really narrows in on these skills.

4. Glue Skills
Let’s save the poor teacher some mess, yeah? Can you imagine cleaning up after thirty kids with glue bottles? Let’s don’t do that to him or her. Work on squeezing the glue bottle just a little (we use the phrase “Dot, dot. Not a lot!”). This exclusive, Salty Mama printable can help your kiddo to practice this skill, along with a few others on the list. Also work on using gluesticks. Need more help with gluesticks? This cute little craft kit  will give your child plenty of practice- and they won’t even know they’re working on school readiness skills!

School Readiness Printable
You can work on several school skills at once with this fun printable craft! Get yours here!

5. Pencil Grip
I don’t want your child’s teacher to have to run around to each student and show them how to hold a pencil. Think of all the time wasted! Have your child practice using a functional grip (on or two fingers on top of the pencil, with the thumb underneath). Is your child struggling? Use shorter pencils or crayons, which eliminates some of the other, less useful grips. Need more tips on how to help with this? Head on over to Living for the Sunshine to read more about ways to practice.

6. Folding a Paper in Half
Okay, this is a weird one, but there are a LOT of school crafts that involve folding a paper in half. Practice folding length-wise and width-wise (like a “hot dog” or a “hamburger,” if you remember from your school days). You can have them practice their scissor skills on their folded paper by tracing a half-heart and letting them cut it out.

7. Workbook Skills
I am no fan of workbooks personally, but there are going to be plenty of them at school. Grab one from the dollar store or the Target Dollar spot, or order a fun one here. Kids can practice valuable school-skills like circling an object, drawing lines from one item to another, and finding the line where they should write their name (or writing on the top right-hand corner if there isn’t one).

8. Putting Things in and Out of Their Backpack
Can you imagine the first-day-chaos if none of the kids could do this? Practice opening and closing backpacks with your kids, and make sure they are able to open any containers/packages that you plan to send to lunch with them. There’s not a ton of time to eat, and you probably don’t want your kid waiting the whole lunch period for it to be their turn for the lunch aide to open their Pirate’s Booty or juice box.

9. Taking Off/Putting On Their Own Sweater (Shoes, Etc.)
Big kid school is not like little-kid-preschool or daycare- there just aren’t enough grown-up hands to assist with these tasks! Help your child to become independent with their own zips/ties/snaps. And avoid sending them to school in shoes with ties until they can retie them on their own!

10. Wiping Their Own Booty (TK and Up, at the Least)
I mean, I’m just saying.  I can almost guarantee that wiping booties was not a part of your child’s teacher’s credential program, and someone’s gotta get it done. It’s gonna have to be your kid, so get to work on this one- stat.

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Effing Four Year Olds, momlife, Terrible Twos, The Salties, Why We're Salty

Terror at Trader Joe’s

Apparently I was feeling brave. Apparently I was feeling confident. Apparently I was a fool.

Because for some reason, I thought it was a good idea to load up my kids and go to the grocery store. But not just any grocery store, Trader Joes. Now, let me be clear. I LOVE Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have on near you it’s a wonderful neighborhood grocery store with amazing food and drink from around the globe and around the corner. When my kids were little – wait, they’re still little, but like, really little, cart bound “little” – TJ’s was the best. We’d walk into the store and there was always a beautiful buffet of bananas welcoming us. We’d toss a half dozen or so in the cart and then I’d hand each of my kids one. I mean, I always paid for the bananas later, but I think the produce lady at Ralph’s doesn’t trust that I’m actually going to pay….No such problem at Trader Joe’s. No one there threw us shade for sampling the product as we strolled through the produce section.

The banana usually lasted through produce and fresh meat, and then we rounded the corner and it was time to start looking for the Bixby Beagle. Now, I won’t tell you how long it took me to realize that the Bixby Beagle isn’t a fixture at all locations, despite it being named after my neighborhood, so I don’t know what the dog is called where you live – or if it even IS a dog – because I just learned it could be any animal, but I love that dog. Because it gives my kids something to DO for the next little bit. As I meander through the frozen foods, my kids have their eyes peeled for that beagle. Because when we find it? They get a lollipop! A nice fresh, not-covered-in-lint-because-I-found-it-at-the-bottom-of-my-purse-while-hunting-for-something-to-calm-the-storm-brewing-in-my-cart lollipop.

We can usually make the lolly last until checkout at which point my kids get to try to entertain the checker, who then HANDS THEM A MILLION STICKERS. It’s like Willy Wonka’s factory over here when they start unraveling the giant roll of seasonal stickers. Sometimes, they’re even scratch ‘n’ sniff. My kids think every day is Christmas at Trader Joe’s.

But then my kids got older. And they got wise to the fact that there are ADORABLE tiny little carts that are just their size! First the bananas, then the lollipops, then stickers – clearly Trader Joe’s was catering to their VERY specific needs. So it should have come as no surprise to me when Cole told me that “Uncle Robert” got him his very own cart too! This will teach me to pretend that the manager of the grocery store is related to us.

For a while, things were okay. Cole was the biggest and somehow Evie just accepted that she still had to ride in the cart and Cole was allowed to push his own. And he did surprisingly well. He took his new responsibility seriously and I think he could smell the fear on me and knew he was one bruised shin away from having his rights revoked.

Then I started getting wise. I started getting organized. And for the love of God I started going to the store while Cole was in preschool. Going to a store with a 2 year old and a baby only feels easy when you’re used to having a 4 year old there too. I had gotten so used to the chaos of all three that two felt like a breeze! It was like old times! And that’s when you start to make mistakes. You get sloppy. You decide to let the two year old give this whole tiny cart thing a try. You think this is your new normal, not remembering that there will come a time when you will have to go to the store again with all three kids, but by then, it’s too late. By then, you’ve created monsters.

Which is how I ended up as the caboose in a crazy choo choo train of tiny cart insanity. To those we ran down, I apologize. To those that looked at me like I’m crazy, yeah, you’re probably right. To those that muttered something under your breath like I couldn’t hear you, I could. I’m not even saying I disagree with what you said, but I heard you bitches, okay? To those that seemed entertained by us, thank you. And to those that gave me a look of, “Hell yeah, mama, you got this!,” a huge, huge, thank you. It was because of you that we made it. Because of you that I didn’t give up in the pasta aisle, just lay down on the floor and cry, and just GIVE. UP.

Instead we pushed on. Ate a banana. Found the beagle. Got our lollipops. Grabbed some stickers for the road. And got the F OUT OF TRADER JOES.   trader joes

Effing Four Year Olds, koefoe party of 5, Terrible Twos, vacation, Why We're Salty

How to Have a Successful Day at Disneyland

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As I sit here in our staycation suite, thanking the little baby Jesus that I somehow – finally – MIRACULOUSLY got all three of my spawn to nap at the same time I can’t help but reflect on the past couple of days…and how freaking good they went. Sorry, this is going to be a straight up BRAGFEST up in here. Because my husband and I just spend three days at “The Happiest Place on Earth” and it was actually the Happiest Place on Earth. At least most of the time. Which got me thinking – why???

What did we do to deserve this? Was karma just on our side? Had we had enough shit shows at Disneyland that we were simply due? I felt like I HAD to pin down the reason – hopefully to replicate it! As I reflected on our day, it came down to three things:

  1. Attitude
  2. Parenting
  3. LUCK

Attitude. Yesterday we were in line to meet Mickey and behind us was the grumpiest 20624061_10214214203175362_318810456_nperson in Disneyland. Yes, Grumpier than Grumpy himself. She grumbled all through the line to see the Mouse about how terrible the day had been. Someone asked her if it was the people? The crowds? No, it was EVERYTHING. Well listen, we go to Disneyland a lot. And yes, it was hot as hell and it was crowded and I’ll give you that it ain’t cheap. But it surely couldn’t be that everything is terrible. Take a minute to enjoy something. That place is CLEAN. Like, a first time Mom that’s a germaphobe could probably let a baby eat a cracker off the floor kind of clean. And there is such a meticulous attention to detail there’s lots for your eyes to enjoy everywhere you go. Chad could spend hours just checking out the plantlife – but he’s a nerd like that, so I cede that isn’t everyone’s jam. I just don’t know how someone could HATE absolutely EVERYTHING about Disneyland. So I’ve got to assume this chick needed an attitude adjustment. If you’re grumpy and miserable, nothing’s going to make you happy – not even a corn dog or a pineapple Dole whip!

Parenting. Okay, this may be controversial. But YES, parenting CAN have an influence on how your kids behave. It would be lovely to think that it was all a crapshoot and we were never responsible for our kids bad behavior, but tragically, it’s not true.

Side story: My husband does storytime with the Bigs before bed while I’m dressing/diapering/feeding the baby for her bedtime. Recently, I’ve overheard him reading “The Berenstein Bears Get the Gimmies” and talking to them about the Gimmies (“gimme this toy” and “gimme that candy” type of stuff). I was always like, “Hell yeah! Teach the kids to knock it off with the Gimmies!” Then one day my kids asked me to read the book. And, spoiler alert, it’s totally the parents fault that Brother and Sister Bear have the Gimmies in the first place! SO, moral of the story: Parenting. Dang it.

Back to Disneyland…The most commonly used four words to end a sentence at Disneyland? “….Or we’re going home!” As in, “knock it of or….” and “stay in the stroller or…” and “stop licking your sister or…..” And guess what? The kids know that it’s all BS! Cause you’re not gonna do it. So your threats mean nothing. Find a threat you can stick to. There with multiple adults? How about “….or you can’t go on X ride.” Yep, cause let me tell you, you only need to make Evie sit aside and NOT ride The Little Mermaid about once before she realizes you’re not playing. My kids will never remember where they left their shoes, but they will never forget that time their siblings got to ride without them.

Luck. Look, it may have seemed like I talk a big game back there in the ol’ “Parenting” section. But let’s be clear. I don’t actually know what the F I’m doing.  I also know that you can be a black belt ninja in parenting and still have the world go against you. Good parenting cannot make sure you get the exact color Teacup your son will die without getting. Good parenting does not prevent your daughter from spilling her brand new popcorn all over the place. Good parenting does not help when your 2 year old is to small to go on all the “good rides” her 4 year old brother is going on and the ONLY thing in the world that will make it better is riding on The Little Mermaid ride – again – and it breaks right before she gets on. In that case? You’re just screwed.

Use all your tricks, bribes, food, distractions and pray you can turn that juju around, because luck is definitely the most critical component for success.

But, if you have a great attitude and you find your inner parenting blackbelt and karma is on your side, maybe just maybe you can get a great day at Disneyland.

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Bouncing Babies, Effing Four Year Olds, koefoe party of 5, momlife, Terrible Twos, The Salties

Introducing The Salties! Part Two

Yesterday you got to meet Jaymi’s little ones, and I know what you’re thinking: mic drop stuff. Trust me, I know. I love that little sassafras and my meatball like they were my own. It’s one of the many benefits of knowing someone’s kids basically since they were covered in vernix. (Too far? Sorry. But true). But ladies and gentledads, don’t write off the rest of the Salties just yet. Mine are kinda badass too.

So, without further adieu, I’d like you to meet my three: Cole, Evie and Izzie.

cole

Cole. Holy moly, where to start with Cole? Honestly, I’m not even sure.

Here’s the thing…I was actually supposed to be the one to post yesterday, but for the life of me I COULD NOT FIGURE OUT HOW TO DESCRIBE COLE. So you know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? Here’s a picture that might help: C4 remix edition

This wasn’t something special. This was just like a Tuesday. He’s a performer that just wants to entertain and make people laugh. And damned if he doesn’t succeed every time. He loves to play in the dirt with toy dinosaurs and touches ALL the bugs, building them habitats and taking care of them like beloved pets. He also likes to wear costumes, sing, dance and get his nails painted. When you think you have him figured out, he will throw you a fastball. Oh yeah, he’s also like REALLY good at ball sports despite my great desire to never attend a little league baseball game. He’s also a really, REALLY good big brother, which is probably one of my favorite things about him. Also, dimples.

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Evie. My little Grumpy Cat. This girl was born with a scowl on her face and a naughty twinkle in her eye. Sometimes I feel like I’m in physical pain because of how cute she is and the rest of the time she is driving me nuts. I’m pretty sure she’s the former out of necessity of the latter. She’s very particular and knows what she wants. I have high hopes that this will serve her well as a young woman, despite being utter hell for her Mama during the toddler years. She loves to play in the dirt while wearing a dress and “farkle jelly shoes.” (See picture above). She’s lightened up considerably in her short two years, and now spends most of her time striving to be as silly as her brother. And she’s giving him a run for his money.

Izzie

Izzie. My little Love Nugget. She is leaps and bounds more snuggly than any of my other kids. I had high hopes that she was also going to be my most well-behaved child, but then she stared at me in the eyes and took two steps. The week she turned 9 months. So I’m pretty sure she’s decided to defect and join the Bigs in their attempts at mutiny.  At least after playing she always wants to come back to snuggle with Mama. She pretends to be shy, but loves anyone and everyone. She has stinky little feet, an ear piercing squeal, and thinks sleeping more than two hours at a time is for losers. But we love her anyway.

If you’d like to see more of our Salties, make sure you’re following us on Instagram @thesaltyamas and like us on Facebook!

Effing Four Year Olds, momlife, The Salties, The Wonderful Ones

Introducing the Salties (Part One)

I know every mom thinks their kids are the coolest, and I’m no exception. Mine are pretty awesome.  I mean, most days anyways. Other days I threaten to throw them both in the trashcan twice before 8 am. But that’s for another post. This post is for introducing you to my two little salties, the little cuties that made me a mama and the reason I drink have so much to say on this blog.

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Lila, Age Four- Lila is something.  That little girl started acting up in the womb, pressing her little booty against my tummy and shaking it for all the world to see. We promptly had to change her name from the sweet, demure Caroline we had planned to the takes-on-the-world-and-makes-no-apologies name Lila.  And she has not disappointed. Lila is petite, has this tiny voice, and has an incredible spark. My daughter is smart and fierce, she catches attention everywhere she goes, and is incredibly bossy shows amazing leadership skills. She loves making new friends, and can play with them for hours. She loves fashion and makeup, has five boyfriends at any given time, and loves nothing more than putting on a show for people.  She was born a diva, and she’s still going strong.

abra

Abram, Age One- Abe is still a baby, MY baby, but that doesn’t stop him from taking on the world. He’s a fully grown man trapped in a baby’s body. We call him The Meatball, and I am obsessed with his chubby little cheeks. He is bright and athletic, and is the boyishest boy the world has ever seen. He loves puppies, basketball, and cars. He wants to run, climb, and explore. He is easygoing, but adventurous.  Thank goodness he balances all that male energy with a soft, cuddly side that keeps him within mama’s reach most of the time.  He plays hard and with abandon, and then wants to snuggle in for some hugs and kisses before he’s off again.  He’s as quick with a smile as he is a pout, so Abram is sure to keep you on your toes.

 

So those are my two little Salties, but there’s more where that came from. There’ll be a whole other set of Salties to learn about tomorrow! In the meantime, we’d love to hear more about YOUR little Salties. Drop a comment to tell us about your babies below!

salties

Effing Four Year Olds, Kids' Activities, koefoe party of 5, momlife, parenting, Terrible Twos

When Dance Parties Go Bad

The morning started out in our usual way. Mommy makes coffee for herself, breakfast for all the kids, makes Cole’s lunch while the kids eat, and then once the kids are done/too restless to eat without making a bigger mess than I’m prepared to handle we move to the living room for a dance party led by DJ Alexa.

IMG_20170718_074937287[281]Alexa Dance Party is usually a complete and total highlight of the day. It’s fun Mom shit. My kids think I’m cool and not all rigid and full of rules. I lipsync to Trolls and Moana and put on a performance reminiscent of Britney in her heyday. I’m a pretty big deal for a few minutes each morning. The kids giggle and clap and dance and sing along and we all just have FUN.

Sometimes, when the party is really rockin’ and rollin’ I sneak out to go to the bathroom in peace. Inevitably this is when the party gets REAL real fast.  Usually it’s something I know how to handle: “Evie ate my banana.” “Cole knocked me over because he was dancing too much.” “Evie won’t dance with me.” “Cole is singing too loud.”

Here’s another banana, say you’re sorry, try dancing with Izzie, sing louder too.

I can field those all day long. I was not prepared for this mornings fight. I ran out of the bathroom to INCONSOLABLE SCREAMS from 2/3 of the children. I breathed a sigh of relief upon realizing at least the baby was happy. One point for Mommy. The other two were simultaneously screaming something about Trolls.

Mommy: Kids, kids, kids, what’s the problem?

Evie: Cole wants to listen to Trolls!

Cole: But EVIE wants to listen to Trolls!

Mommy: Okay, I don’t understand, you both want to listen to Trolls?

Evie: YES! But it’s MY TURN to pick!

Mommy: Okay, so pick Trolls.

Evie: But COLE wants to listen to Trolls.

Mommy: Okay, Alexa, play music from Trolls soundrack.

Cole: NOOOOO I want to listen to Trolls!

Evie: NO! It’s MY turn, I want to listen to Trolls!

Mommy: I’m so lost. You both want to listen to Trolls, but you won’t listen to Trolls because the other one ALSO wants to listen to Trolls?

Both kids (wailing): YEEEEEESSSSSSSSSS

What. The. Fuck?

I, of course, sent my Salty Mama Jaymi a play by play of this insanity that was my 20182465_10214046646946561_1450931712_o (2)morning to which she calmly and rationally responded: “Kids literally just want to make us crazy.”

And somehow, that made it better. My stubborn side came out, I dug in my heels, and played freaking Trolls. They screamed louder because they HATED that the other one was happy, even when it was really what they wanted. They threw themselves on the ground and then they decided to – yes, I’m going to go there – get back up again.

IMG_20170717_074305750[278]They just couldn’t help themselves. As quickly as it all went to hell, it went back again. In a few minutes, we were back to normal: I was painting my sons nails while breastfeeding Izzie…but that, my friends, is a post for another day.

Probably a day where the kids fight over who gets to tell Alexa they want to listen to Shiny from Moana. Because Lord knows they’ll both want to.