New York Times best-selling author, slow cooking expert, mom of three
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Totally Together

How to Keep Your Kids Healthy This School Year

August 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 


The most important thing you can do to prevent sickness is to wash your hands, and teach your children proper handwashing technique.

Back to School Time Brings Germs

It’s back to school season, which unfortunately (lots of times) means It’s Back To Being Sick season.

And that stinks.

I did some work with Lysol over the summer, and had the opportunity to sit down with a representative from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) a few weeks ago during the BlogHer conference.

And guess what?

Preventing sickness — the common cold, pink eye, hand-foot-mouth, the flu, and respiratory illness — is really easy to do.

You just need to WASH YOUR HANDS and regularly disinfect surfaces!

That’s it!

 

A TRILLION Germs live in One Gram of Poop. Gross. Free Printable for your bathroom, playroom, etc.

 

In case you weren’t sure of what number has that many zeros, it’s TRILLION.

There are A TRILLION GERMS IN ONE GRAM OF POOP.

Ew.

It’s a big deal. And I tell my kids that when they pick their nose, it’s “their nose’s poop.” Gross, yes, but it gets the point across. As far as I’m concerned you can’t ever really wash your hands too much.

Another thing that I learned from the CDC representative is that hand sanitizer is not a substitute for hand washing. It will do the job in a pinch, but the best thing is to always use running water and soap.

 

Free Printable Hand Washing Signs from the CDC

 

If you’d like some hand-washing signs to print out to hang in your home, your classroom, or at church, etc., this link has the PDFs.

They are in other languages, too!

 

War on Germs

As I said in my previous post for Lysol, I do try to keep our own home as germ-free as I can, and I do purposely wipe down the door knobs, light switches, remotes, and hand-held screens pretty often with Lysol Disinfecting Wipes.

I’m going to continue to do this, but I’m going to also really try to round up the kids as often as I can to wash their hands. I’m also going to make a very concerted effort to wash hands before we eat anything — this can be tricky on a busy Saturday afternoon when we are grabbing food on the run, or are hanging out at the mall.

But I’m convinced.

Hand washing is easy, and it’s cheap.

What about you? Do you have a plan of attack to keep the germs from invading your home this Back to School season?

 

Back to School, back to work

August 26, 2011 by · 9 Comments 


Photo inventory:

1 basket of clean laundry, unfolded and dumped on the living room floor

1 basket of clean laundry, folded and left on couch

2 “used” baby socks

2 brand-new shoes still bungee corded together

1 too-expensive rolling backpack

45 whole crayons; 3 broken

1 broken blue bead necklace (hanging from the couch cushion)

3 empty Target bags

and when I swivel away from the living space to look at the table:

Photo Inventory:

1 new lunchbox that is supposed to be used FOR SCHOOL ONLY

2 new BPA-free water bottles

1 water bottle ‘cozy’ that came with the lunchbox (completely unnecessary)

random leftover lunch stuff: sliced turkey meat, cut up apples, tortilla chips & hummus

1 abandoned laptop and 3 notebooks

1 very cheeky 19-month-old baby (helping herself to hummus)

106 new gray hairs

I mistakenly thought I could get some work done while the children played peacefully inside or frolicked in delight outside (isn’t that what children are supposed to do? Frolick?) . Yeah. I know.

delusional.

But you know what? This is real life. Not a glossy magazine. Stuff happens. Mistakes happen.

Life happens.

and it’s okay.

Give yourself a hug—- you’re doing a fantastic job. Already.

 

School begins for us on September 6th. I loved having everybody home with me for the summer, but I’m done.  How are things going with you?

I’m a Closet Homeschooler (teaching kids at home even if they go to school)

May 23, 2011 by · 29 Comments 

Beat Summer Brain-Drain with these "totally not boring" activities and workbooks.

Beat Summer Brain-Drain with these “totally not boring” activities and workbooks.

What is “Closet HomeSchooling”?

When I was pregnant with my first (10 years ago), I informed my husband, Adam, that I “reserved the right to homeschool.” He was (skeptically) agreeable, so I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about homeschooling in case the day ever came when I felt that I could do a better job teaching the kids than our local school.

We now have three little girls: 9 1/2, 6 1/2 and age sixteen months. We’ve moved a few times since I “staked my claim” to homeschool ten years ago, and now live in a very good school district.

so my kids go to public school (the baby is home, of course).

The children are happy, and are thriving. They continue to excel in class and are all naturally inquisitive and have a thirst for learning. I’m happy with a lot that the school provides, but continue to supplement at home as much as I can. I try to be “around” the school a lot, which allows me  opportunity to see firsthand behavior issues, and the time wasted moving from activities or lessons. I do not think this is necessarily a bad thing–it’s just something I’m very aware of. Adam says I’m keeping score. Maybe I am!

I’m greatly looking forward to having the kids home with me when school lets out (8 days!). No matter how involved I am in the school, during the school year, Adam and I are not in charge. The teacher is. I wish I could say this doesn’t bother me, but I’d be lying. The school calendar dominates our day to day life, and I’m looking forward to getting a more natural flow to our days.

It’s Pretty Much “After-School” Homeschooling

I have gotten a few emails in the past week or so asking what activities I do with my children during the summer. My oldest is going to attend a 2-week enrichment program (3 hours a day), [updated, 6/1: just got an email that the program has been canceled due to lack of funds/enrollment. NOT HAPPY. ] and my 6 year old will attend a gymnastics class twice a week. I’ll probably throw in a week of swim lessons, and we’re hoping to get a sponsor for a late-summer book tour to Albuquerque, and will visit the Grand Canyon.

Otherwise, our days will be pretty loose— park trips, library visits, and playdates. The television will be turned off for the day by 10am, and the kids will have free range of the art supplies, books, games, and the back yard.

will they fight?

A.B.S.O.L.U.T.E.L.Y.

will I lose my temper (more than I should)?

Y.O.U. B.E.T.C.H.A.

will they complain that they’re bored?

W.I.T.H.O.U.T. A. D.O.U.B.T.

I can not wait.

Resources shown above, and what I use in our (closet) homeschooling curriculum:

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons — I taught my big kids to read with this book. It’s actually not shown in the above picture because I lent it to our neighbor to use with her 3-year-old. I do not use the writing exercises at all. At the end of the 100 lessons, your child will be reading on a 2nd grade level. I started just for fun at around age 3 1/2 with my girls. I followed the lessons in order, but didn’t have a set time frame. If the kids wanted to sit with me and practice, we did. We would go months without even opening the book, but sometimes we’d do 4 lessons in a day. They each finished the book in it’s entirety before entering first grade.

BOB Books. — I’ve put these books away until the baby is ready. Warning: they tear easily! These are fun, whimsical books that teach reading both through phonics and memorization. I actually think it’s mostly from memorization, but many disagree. Empowers young children that they can read an “entire book.”

Brain Quest decks — we have at least a dozen of these decks. I love giving them as gifts, and love receiving them! I toss a deck into the diaper bag to pull out at restaurants when we anticipate a long wait, I use them in waiting rooms, in the car when waiting for music lessons to dismiss, etc. I keep a basket on the shelf on the end table and the kids pull them out when they’ve got some time to kill.

Brain Quest Workbooks — we were given a few of these, and the kids use them, but there’s definitely a workbook feel. I keep them “out” and sometimes they’ll do a page or two on their own, but mostly they are used for playing school with playdates.

Summer Bridge — I bought a set of these a few summers ago mostly to pacify myself that the kids were on the right track and their brains weren’t turning to mush. I’ve since relaxed a bit on worksheets, but if you are a person who likes order and want the confidence of knowing the kids are *actually* learning or your kids like completing worksheets this is a good summer project.

Never Bored books — Mazes, word searches, brain teasers, coloring pages, etc. My kids like these better than traditional workbooks. I would recommend buying up an age group for a bit of a challenge. Some of the activities require scissors and glue.

The Story of the World series, by Susan Wise Bauer — This series of books is written by the same author of The Well-Trained Mind. We only have the first book and are only a third of the way through. It starts with Ancient Times: Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor. The book is written in story form, and is written from a secular perspective.

The Daring Book for Girls and The Dangerous Book for Boys — We have both of these books. Practical guide to pretty much anything: letter writing, fire building, camping, tying a variety of knots, how to be a good friend, proper restaurant manners. These aren’t books to be read cover to cover, but used as a reference guide. I like to give these as gifts.

The Little House on the Prairie books — I have girls, so I’m not sure how well this series would fare in a house full of boys. I read this series outloud to my big girls, starting when my oldest was 6 (I skipped over some of the Laura and Alfonso stuff). Reading this series outloud was hands-down the best history lesson my kids have ever had (thus far. they are still quite young!). We refer to “Laura and Mary” quite often in our house, and apply the knowledge of this time period to other history lessons to provide perspective. I plan on rereading the series in a year or so to refresh all of our memories.

I Can Draw books and Pocket Doodle books — My first grader loves to draw and doodle, and will happily work for hours creating and recreating animal or people pictures. These are the easiest-to-understand for little kids drawing guides I’ve found.

Soduku Unifex game — If you’ve never played soduku, or are intimidated by it, this is a FANTASTIC way to learn the game– for little kids and for grown ups! This is a one-player game, and once the fundamentals are learned, soduku is a solitary game enjoyed throughout your whole life. Math, reasoning, strategy, and spacial awareness are all key aspects of this game. The box says ages 7 and up. My kids enjoyed playing (with help) at age five.

We play a lot of board games! I’ll be back next week with a board game round-up. Happy Memorial Day!

Tuesday, November 23

November 23, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

327

Hello! Good morning! How are you today?

I’m helping the first grade make Stone Soup today, and I’m going to take the baby.

WHO IS WALKING.

at ten and a half months.

My hope is that she’ll just stay in the books/blocks area and I can still help the bigger kids with the cutting boards and knives. If not, I’m going to strap her in the stroller and continuously feed her pirate’s booty.

BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT GOOD MOMS DO!

bwhahahahaha!!

Today:

do the stuff you have to do

daily 7

print out copies of Albuquerque the Turkey to sing at the table

find a few moments to yourself to chill

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