Tot School 27mo Twins – Floating Fireworks

I just love science!  Based on today, my twin boys like science too.  We’ll just have to wait and see if they have the same enthusiasm in high school.  On Friday we made paper fireworks and today we made exploding fireworks in water.  I got this idea from I Can Teach My Child.

The boys & I rummaged around until we found a big glass mason jar.  I filled it 3/4 way full with warm water and set it in the middle of the table.  I took a bowl and let the boys measure out approximately 4 Tbps of vegetable oil in it.  Then we took all four basic colors in the food coloring kit and I let each kid help me squeeze four drips of each color into the oil.  It doesn’t look like much, but when we do this again, I might only use 3 drops of each color.   I gave the boys a fork and let them mix away.  That was interesting in itself.  It was pretty with all the colors breaking up into tiny floating beads.  I wish I had taken a picture of it.

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I had the boys climb into the chairs so they could watch the fireworks show.  I poured the oil mixture into the jar.  At first nothing happened.  A few seconds later the oil rose to the top and a few strands of color started reaching for the bottom.   Then it just exploded out with color going everywhere.

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James was so excited he yelled “oh look” and just couldn’t hardly help himself from climbing onto the table to get a closer look.

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Lance was curious at the oil on top with its swirling tan bubbles.   The whole thing took only about 2 min before the colors had mixed so much that a was an inky dark mess.  I showed them how the oil separated from the water.  During the mixing we named the different colors and looked at how some of them blended to make other colors like purple or brown.  There little faces were sad when I said it was over and that once the colors mixed, they could never be separated again.  I’m going to put this little project in my back pocket for a rainy day and for when they are older so I can explain more of the science behind our floating, exploding fireworks.  So I am thanking God that my mercy for the day is science.  May we all keep learning and exploring.  Happy New Year!

Tot School 27mo Twins – Fireworks & Pianos

New Year’s Eve is a fun celebration, except for the fact that my boys are too young to stay up until midnight.  For that matter, it’s hard for me to do that now.  I wanted to do a few things that they could participate in now and during the day on Monday.  Yesterday we set out to make our own fireworks.  I taped two pieces of white copy paper down to the table.  Gave the twins Crayola washable markers and let them have fun coloring the page.  I cut out a medium-sized circle from each page.  Then I took the boys to the bathroom where there’s two stepstools so they can reach the sink.  I folded each circle twice to make little cone shapes.  I let each boy hold their cone from the tip end and let the water run down the paper cone.  We ran our fingers up and down the paper, holding it over the sink to catch color drops.  I took the paper over to a counter, unfolded them, laid them on kleenex to absorb any color drops and went back to help the boys wash off the marker.  When the pages where dry, I took a black marker and made a few more curved lines that look like fireworks exploding.  You do have to use your imagination but it does give you a sense of fireworks and my boys loved the project.

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On the weekend we don’t do crafts or tot school usually, but dad did a little impromptu lesson.  The three of them were sitting on the piano bench.  Phil was playing and the other two were banging right along.  It’s a joyful sound of racket!  I think Lance bent down to see under the front plate to where the keys are.  So my husband just lifted up the front panel and slid it off.  Wow, the boys seems to soak it all in.  We briefly talked about when we hit a key, it moves a lever and that lever strikes the strings on the back and the strings make the note.  Not very in-depth, but watching the mechanics of a piano was sure interesting to them.  I love to watch my husband with the boys because he shows them different things than I think of.  With both mom & dad, my boys are getting a great informal education about the world around them.

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Tot School 26.5mo Twins – Sensory Painting

I am christmased out, especially in the craft department.  So yesterday afternoon our craft wasn’t a tree or red and green.  I saw a great post about sensory painting on No Time For Flashcards.  I decided we would try it and the boys liked it.  They had the chance to use four of their senses which always adds to the learning.

I taped two white sheets of paper down to the table.  I pulled out cinnamon, sage and curry because of their colors.  I poured each spice into a separate bowl and added water.  If you try this, don’t worry if the spice doesn’t mix into the water very well and if you don’t have these three spices in your pantry, any of them will do.  Just try to get ones that have different colors to make the painting look better.  I really wanted to use paprika for the red, but my boys taste everything and I thought that might be a bit much for them.

Then the fun began.  I handed each boy a paint brush and I set the bowls in between them.  Before they dove into painting, I lifted the bowls, one at a time, so the boys could smell it.  Then I told them the name of the spice and had them repeat it back to me.  While they painted, the room smelled aromatic.  All three of my spices have a strong smell.  The cinnamon and the curry came out smooth while the sage clumped and add texture to the paintings.  I had the boys feel each spice to see if it felt smooth or grainy in the bowl and how it looked on the paper too.  The fifth sense, taste came in as the boys licked their hands and sometimes the brush.

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The boys were having a good time painting and my best friend called me on the phone.  It’s hard to connect sometimes so I thought I could have a little chat while they painted.   Oh no.  Was I ever wrong.  As soon as they realized that my attention wasn’t completely focused on them, they took their painting from a good time to a wildly great time.  James was painting the table with his hands as he grabbed handfuls of the spice paint and Lance was dipping his brush in the paint then flinging it in any direction that looked clean.

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So I quickly got off the phone, washed the boys up and crawled around on  my hands and knees to wipe paint up from the floor and off the walls.  Had it not been for the last few minutes of chaos, this would have been a fantastic activity.  Well, I think because of the messy chaos, the boys would call this a fantastic activity.  They experienced something new and it’s not very often that we get to incorporate smell into our crafts.  If you try this, don’t expect a masterpiece either.  It’s more like modern impressionism of fall.DSC_0085

I am thankful for the small mercy of spices and am reminded that God has given us a creative and colorful world to discover.  I am so glad to share it with my twin boys.

Entitlement: Mom Is Not The Customer Service

Christmas is over and it’s the week before New Years.  People head out to the retailers to return gifts or buy discounted items.  When I go to a store I expect good customer service.  I’m giving the company money and they should be thankful I’m doing my part to keep them employed. 

While it’s normal to expect good customer service in retail, many kids have come to hold the same view with their parents.  Parents have become the customer service representative for their children.   Let’s take a look at what happens usually when parents assume the customer service roll.  The theory behind customer service is that the customer is always right.  You must, at all cost, not disappoint the customer.  From the kids’ side, they quickly learn to assume that “all roads lead to Rome.”  If something in life doesn’t benefit the kid, they have no reason to participate in it.  It leads to a very selfish existence.  A poll recently cited that a large majority of 20yr olds view themselves as their gift to the world.  If you are that great, everyone should comply with your wishes because you think you are always right.  On the other side, from the parent’s view, you could never measure up.  As a parent, when would know that your kids have received enough praise, enough things, enough of anything?  You wouldn’t know and an insecure parent doesn’t lead but is led by their children who hold the power of saying when it’s enough and when it’s right.

How did some parents shift into this customer service position?  Well our past great philosophers has sold us a story.  The foundation has been laid upon the assumption that children are born innocent.  Thanks to Adam and Eve, we inherited a sin nature and even Christians sometimes forget this basic element.  So according to current beliefs, if you provide a good environment, heap praise upon your child and reduce stress, a child will be great.  Where does any sense of personal responsibility come into play for the kid?  This model places all the work, blame or praise on everything else but the child.  Ironically, how maddening it seems to a child when everyone else takes the credit for good things.  Of-course there is fairness when placing the blame on others for their own failures.  What a crazy belief system and we are seeing it played out before our very eyes.  If the world does not wait on me, I’ll go out and make them do it!  I demand personal customer service or else!

Since I am not my boys’ customer service agent, what can I do differently?  I will try to allow my boys to experience natural consequences to their decisions.  I’m not going to throw my boys to the wolves, but I will allow age appropriate consequences to occur when my children try things on their own.  I will not rush to do all the thinking or planning for them.  For instance, my boys love to climb and jump.  If James was 5 feet off the ground and about to jump, I’d warn him that it was too high and I’d move over to catch if he jumped anyways.  But if James was a foot or two off the ground, I’d warn him and if he jumped anyways, it would hurt but not to the point of needing a doctor.  A good sore arm can leave a lasting effect on what smart behavior is.   Just ask any man what lessons he learned from childhood and most likely it will be some stupid stunt that hurt like the dickens and he’ll laugh as he tells the story and what he learned.  When I let my boys try, knowing that their core being is flawed and so in turn their actions will sometimes be flawed, they will start making the connections for themselves what the best action should be.  While they are young, I’ll be making more of the decisions and doing more sheltering from some consequences, but as each year passes I’ll be sheltering less and letting my kids make their own choices more.  I hope that my children will be able to look back at their accomplishments and be able to have pride because their character and success will have been dependant on what God has given them the ability to do.  My security as a parent will come from the fact that I directed my children to depend on what God has given them and how they used it.  My hope doesn’t come from my customer service,  but rather is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness living through us. 

So while you are waiting in that line to purchase or return, remember that your job as a parent isn’t to be their customer service representative.  Let children deal with disappointment and consequences now so that they can handle them when they get older.  They will soon learn that some roads lead to Rome and others lead to great places, outside themselves, like Hawaii.

Tot School 26.5mo Twins – And Picaso Wouldn’t Be Perfect Either

When I look at museum paintings, I see colorful, masterful, well thought out works of art.  That’s my thinking because I’m a planner.  When I start a project, I have an end in mind.  An artist friend of mine laughed at me one day as I told her this and she told me that many artists just start and see where it takes them, WITH OUT AN END IN MIND.  What???  Obviously I’m wired differently than the creative freeform artist but today’s craft reminded me to take a breath and let my boys be artists not perfectionists. 

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I saw on a blog, awhile back, a beautiful Christmas tree made out of using cut up toilet paper roll pieces for the stamping.  So I taped two pieces of white copy paper on the table, poured out some green Crayola washable paint onto a saucer, cut a small round end off a toilet paper roll and cut that piece in half.  I drew a basic triangle on the paper as a Christmas tree.  Then I showed the boys how to dip the cardboard’s edge in the paint and stamp a half-moon curve onto the paper.  Being twins, they each had their own way of interpreting my instructions.  Lance did really well for most of the time while James prefered to drag his piece on the page and by the end, he was also dragging his whole arm through the green paint.  I really had to fight not correcting James.   This is 2-year-old art, it will not be hanging anywhere except on my refrigerator door so who cares if he paints differently.  Then I took the cap of the red bottle and I helped the boys put their thumb in the cap then put thumbprints on the page for the ornaments.  After a quick hand wash, they dipped their index finger in the yellow paint bottle and made the star at the top.  I was just telling Lance how great he did following my instructions and that his tree was perfect.  Then….He tore the page off the table, smeared the paint in doing so and ripped the page in two.

Oh the frustration!  I had just praised him then this happened.  I wanted to throw it in the trash, but a thought occurred to me.  I wonder if this is how Picasso’s parents felt when he was little.  His paintings are wild, vibrant and very different.  I imagine him sitting on the floor playing with other children.  The kids drawing a flower with pencils and there sits Picasso drawing what looks like crazy scribble.  I don’t know what he was like when young, but I can imagine his mother having a hard time containing him, just like I’m doing today.  I bet that Picasso started with paint and let his imagination go.  I bet he didn’t consider his work to be perfect until he stepped back and felt the sence of I’m done, it’s completed.  Had someone given him strict guidelines in his painting, he wouldn’t be perfect either.  In fact, if I were to judge Picasso’s work without knowing who was the artist, I’d say his work wasn’t perfect either.

  So I let the paint dry and mounted the pages onto a green background and hung them up on the fridge.  I do have to say I like them, I like them a lot.  They are not the least bit like the ones on the blog that I saw, but my boys’ paintings are what I imagine Picasso’s young art to look like.  Lance’s art work is unique because he put texture down the middle to make it beautiful.  I will try to remember that none of us are perfect, but each of us is beautiful because Our Creator has said so.

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Tot School 26.5mo Twins – Reindeer

We have only five days left to do magical and fun Christmas crafts!  This month has flown by and in January we will still be doing crafts, but just  at a much slower pace because we’ll be getting back to focusing on Bible stories, counting, shapes and color kinds of things.  Yesterday afternoon I took a brave step with my boys.  We made footprint reindeer.  It’s a craft that can go smoothly or end up very messy.  My boys surprised me and it went smoothly and easily.  I taped a white piece of cardstock onto the kitchen floor.  Squeezed out some brown tempera paint onto a dinner plate and filled a plastic tub with water.  I took off the boys’ shoes and socks.  Then I worked with one boy at a time.  I rolled up James’ pant,dipped his foot in paint & held it for him as we placed it down on the paper.  His foot slid just a little so his foot looks huge.  A quick wash and dry.  In the meantime, my heart just knew his brother was going to get into the paint plate or start to finger paint with the taped down and now stamped paper.  He showed some restraint and just watched curiously.  I moved James’ footprint onto the counter and repeated the same thing with Lance.  It was fun to lightly tickle their feet as I washed them & then play this little piggy since their toes were out on display.

After the paint had dried I took a black sharpie and made antlers, eyes & a nose.  I thought it turned out cute.  My husband on the other hand said it was cute but it looked like we made aliens instead of reindeer.

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What Do Manners Have To Do With Entitlement?

If I were to take a poll of parents that are over the age of 50, and ask them why they taught their kids manners, many of them would say because they wanted polite children.  If you ask them why being polite was important, most would say that’s just how everyone was raised.  Why was this how everyone was raised?  Because America was a moral country for many years, whether you were Christian or not.  Manners and morals ruled our society.  The behaviors that we are seeing today has a lot to do with a shift away from Christian influenced general morals and manners.

You may be asking what do manners have to do with entitlement?  Well manners are the first introduction into respect for others.  Entitlement is respect for only yourself.  So therefore manners are the opposite.  When parents teach their children to display manners, it is not just the wording that we are seeking, it’s the thoughts and heart behind the words.   The wording of manners makes you stop what you are doing and consider the people around you.  Let’s take for instance burping.  When one of my boys burps, it makes him feel better because he relieved the pressure.  For those who hear him, it’s not a pleasant sound, unless you are his twin brother who happens to think it’s wildly funny.  By saying excuse me, it reminds us that others may not appreciate what is comforting to ourselves and it acknowledges their feelings and desires.   It doesn’t change what we do, but it does make us think about others.  Thinking kindly towards others helps us take a step closer to respecting other people.

So while I’m insisting on my two-year old twin boys to say thank you, you’re welcome, I’m sorry and excuse me, I’ll be reminding myself why it’s so important to fight the manners battle.  I’m raising my boys to be different from the world that says I deserve it and Your are not enough.  It brings to mind that as followers of Christ, we are in the world but not of it.  Knowing why you are doing something and the long-term outcome can make the hassle of today seem a bit more bearable.  I’ll leave you with a great quote:

Most people want to be respected and yet have not learned to be respectful.  Being held in a position of respect can feed an ego, but the humility and grace learned through being respectful feeds a soul.

May our children grow in stature, with God and man, with a humbleness that shines in this dark world.