Monday, April 30, 2012

How Stuff Works Week!

So, I'm trying something new to help me spend MORE time playing with my kids and less time thinking about how I should. Basically I decided to pick a weekly theme and come up with an activity about the theme to do with my kids each day, Monday through Thursday. Then on Friday they can watch TV and trash the playroom as long as they want while I get to have my project day to do crafts and things I usually never get around to. Anyway, here is how our first week went! 


MONDAY: Electricity

For our electricity day, we tried to make a "Squishy Circuit" which is a neat little play dough project I found on THIS website. We never did figure out how to get our LED lights to light up, but we had a BLAST with the play dough!

TUESDAY: Newton's Laws of Motion

My daughters are 2 and 4, so we kept it simple. I rolled a ball to show them that it would keep going unless something stopped it, like bumps in the sidewalk, the wind blowing against it, them picking it up, or good old gravity.
For the second law, we dropped 2 balls of different sizes at the same time to show that they would fall at the same speed despite their different masses.
For the third law, we blew up balloons and let them go to show that when the air pushed out one way, the balloon would fly the other way. They REALLY liked this one. And after each experiment I let them play with the balls and balloons for as long as they wanted. They were entertained for hours!


For our heat experiment day, I froze a bunch of toys in ice (the night before) and had the girls get them out by using the heat from friction as well as from hot water. Then we made chocolate covered strawberries to show how heat from the microwave, the stove, and our bodies can melt chocolate. BEST. EXPERIMENT. EVER!


On Thursday I bought the girls flashlights to help us learn about light. We spent the ENTIRE day playing in our closets, in boxes, and under the bed doing shadow puppet shows and having light saber wars. It was a very fun day!

FRIDAY: Mom's Day

On Friday, I plugged the girls into the TV, pulled out a few toys, and let them do their thing whilst I cleaned the house and packed my bags to drive my husband out to Champaign-Urbana so he could run a Marathon! It took the whole day to prepare and I'm glad I had that uninterrupted time to get things done!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Potty Training Story...

So last week, Kevin and I decided it was finally time to start potty training our daughter who just turned two in February. Her older sister was potty trained by 18 months (no thanks to us, she ASKED to be potty trained) so we thought 2 was a reasonable age for our second daughter.

For my older daughter I used the 1-week-naked-booty-boot-camp method where you let your kid go commando for a week whilst simultaneously flooding them with their favorite liquids and putting them on the toilet every 20 minutes. It only took one poop accident and 3 days of pee accidents for everything to click and she was diaper free after that. Unfortunately, I knew my two year old would be different. She is VERY stubborn and hates doing ANYTHING that is not her idea. So, forcing her onto the potty every 20 minutes seemed like a bad idea to me.

Instead, I used a 3 day system where you give a TON of positive reinforcement whilst reminding your child to tell you if they have to go potty throughout the day. In theory, I LOVED the idea and thought if anything could work, this would be it. But I may have underestimated how stubborn my two year old could really be...

Days 1-2: She is interested in this new game we are playing, gets to the potty on time twice, makes it through 2 three hour naps and a full night sleep without wetting the bed!

Day 3: Something snaps... She doesn't want me reminding her to tell me if she has to pee. She starts yelling "NO POTTY!" at me when I remind her, she has a nasty poop accident and decides she never wants that to happen again, she starts begging for her diaper, she cries her eyes out anytime we say potty!

Days 4-5: We bump up the positive reinforcement. A jelly bean every time she sits on the potty, an M&M whenever she pees, a Reese's peanut butter egg whenever she poops. She likes the new rewards and stops fighting us as much and actually makes it to the potty 3 times.

Day 6:  She LOVES candy! She starts sitting on the potty every 15 minutes to get another jelly bean. She cries wolf so many times I don't know if I should keep putting her on the potty. I don't want accidents all over my house so I eliminate the jelly bean and only reward her for pooping and peeing.

Day 7:  She sits on the potty and promptly asks for a jelly bean. I tell her she will get one as soon as she goes pee pee. She explodes. She starts screaming and crying, throws herself off the potty, picks up the potty seat, chucks it across the room, and starts yelling something at me in a language I do not understand. She pees on the floor 6 times before my husband even wakes up! I freak out, yell "FINE!" put a diaper back on her, then sit on the hallway floor next to a puddle of pee and cry until my husband wakes up...

Day 8-Current time: Now that it is no longer something I want ANYTHING to do with, she is asking to be put on the potty when she has to pee. She is making it about half the time. She still poops in her diaper but then comes and tells me that she is "NASTY" and poo poo should go to the potty. I feel like I should give it another try but worry that my brain might explode in the process...

Moral of the story:

No child is the same, no method is fail proof, no amount of patience will make it OK when your sofa gets peed on for the third time, and NO ONE likes potty training! So if you are feeling bad that your child just isn't getting it, or that you don't want to start potty training even though your child seems ready, just remember that you are not alone. There are literally millions of moms out there who are suffering through this nasty part of life right along side you.

So, I wish you all good luck in your potty training endeavors, and if you have a ridiculously stubborn child like mine who you magically managed to potty train, please share your success tips and stories in the comment section below!!! I really NEED to hear them right now :)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Outdoor Adventures: Geocaching for Easter Eggs by Erin Uda

This weekend, try a slight variation on the standard Easter egg hunt by adding GPS coordinates.

Geocaching is an outdoor activity where you use GPS coordinates to find hidden treasure.  You can use a website or an app on your smartphone to find lists of geocache locations.  Once you have found the hidden treasure box, using a GPS unit or the app on your phone, you can sign your name and take a treat from the box.  Remember if you want to take something from the cache, be sure to bring something to leave behind.

If you don’t want to find other people’s hidden boxes, you can create your own Easter egg hunt by using GPS to track the location of each egg or treasure you hide. 

Happy Hunting!!

About the Apps:

The best way to go geocaching is with a GPS system or your smartphone, via a GPS app. offers an introductory app that allows you to find 3 caches close to your home.  But if you want the full version of the app, you’ll need to fork out about $10; well worth it if you and your kids love this activity.  And it’s cheaper than a movie.

There is a free app from Garmin that includes a map with geocache pins in your proximity, plus a compass.  We tried it out on our own geocache adventure this weekend and my boys loved it.  It isn’t as comprehensive as, but since we’re beginners, this worked well for us.