Newborn Sleep Tips – Months 2-4

Terms to Know-

45 Minute Intruder- one sleep cycle; babies seem to miraculously wake up from naps right at the 45 minute mark. This is because they are transitioning from one sleep cycle to another. They are really not ready to wake up. They will be crying; a well-rested baby should wake up happy from a nap.

Dreamfeed- The very last feeding of the day. The baby is sleeping and you stick a boob/bottle in a sleeping baby’s mouth. Do this right before you go to bed for the night but not after 11pm (that would be considered a middle of the night feeding). This “buys” you time by topping off their stomachs. Turn on minimal lights. Do not change the diaper unless you smell you need to. No talking.

Loveya transitional object used to help the baby fall asleep

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Jules sleeping in my arms- swaddled but not wanting to be put down. Me looking very tired.

Sometime around four weeks, your little human will start to be awake more.

This is also the time when colic may begin and when you will start to see what type of baby you have. It is true- some babies are easier than others. There’s no way around it. And colic? It’s a bitch. Two of my three had it. You will be in survival mode and live on coffee, catnaps, and your baby’s smiles (even if they are far and few between). These are the things you cannot control. You will be working on the things you can.

First, you need to create a sleep haven, a delicious sleep environment. A black out shade is a must. Continue to use the sound machine and keep on swaddling your baby. When your baby outgrows the SwaddleMe swaddles,  I love these because they help with transitioning out of the swaddle after 4 months. Around 3-4 months, introduce a lovey. This is our favorite. Make sure to buy at least two so you always have an extra. If you have a baby that fights sleep, these are the weapons in your arsenal.

Optimal wake time is no longer than 1 hour and will most likely be in the 30-45 minute range, at least at the start of this time period. You will probably be on a 2-3 hour feeding schedule during the day and hopefully longer at night. EASY is still in play (and will continue to be through out the first year).

During these months, your first goal is to get the baby to sleep WHEN you want her to. You are beginning to put a schedule into place so the focus is on the time. The WHERE is secondary. So yes, sometimes the baby will sleep in your arms during the day. This is not to say the WHERE isn’t important! I highly recommend putting the baby to sleep for naps in her crib righty away for naps (see newborn sleep tips) but sometimes that’s just not possible.

Around this time I became frustrated because she was only napping for 45 minutes, not the two hours I was aiming for. I googled it (what else do we do these days?) and it’s a THING! The 45 Minute Intruder, otherwise known as a big pain to new moms. So 45 minutes comes and you have two choices- run in and give the paci and run right back out OR let your baby fuss and hope she goes back to sleep. I chose the former and this happened every day for a few weeks but the…YES! We got through it and arrived in the promised land of two hour naps (we are still there at 9 months). Do not give up! Remember anything less than an hour is a “CRAP NAP” so don’t just throw up your hands and say my baby doesn’t nap. All babies need sleep to grow and develop optimally.

Evicted!

Right around 10 weeks, I made the transition from the co-sleeper in my room to the crib in her room. This was mainly because I kept hearing every movement and getting her up when she didn’t need to get up. This was also the time when she began sleeping through the night. By night, I mean after the dreamfeed, she would sleep until around 6. For many, 6am does not feel like wake up time but anything more than six hours is considered sleeping through the night so embrace it! By 12 weeks, I would definitely recommend making the move.

You want them sleeping at three months

where you want them sleeping at three years.

Sample Schedule

6am- Eat/Activity

7am-9am SLEEP

9am- Eat/Activity

10am-12pm- SLEEP

12pm- Eat/Activity

1pm-3pm- SLEEP

3pm- Eat/Activity

4pm- 6pm- SLEEP

6pm- Eat/Activity

This is the long stretch; try to keep the baby up for longer at this point, aiming for 8pm. This is a good time to begin a bedtime routine that includes a bath, stories and other relaxation activities

8pm- Sleep for the night

Sometime between 10pm-11pm- DREAMFEED

During these months, if your baby is still taking middle of the night feedings, always wait to see if they are just “fussing” or really crying because they’re hungry. Keep feedings all business- no lights, no talking and only diaper changes when absolutely necessary.

All days are different. Some days you’ll be lucky to get one solid 2 hour nap. As with anything in life, you need to have GOALS and that what any schedule is- a goal. It’s where you’d like them to be. Accept that it’s not always going to happen but don’t give up!

The first four months are the hardest. By putting solid sleep practices into place, you are helping both you and your baby get the sleep you both desperately need!

*ALWAYS PUT A BABY TO SLEEP ON THEIR BACK*

All advice above is solely my personal opinion based on my experience. Always consult a medical professional with any medical concerns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lets Eat! Starting Solids

It’s an exciting time. You and your baby are ready to explore the world of food together!

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Most doctors recommend starting between 4-6 months. Our doctor said Jules was ready at 5 months based on how she was sitting and her cues (beginning to show interest in what I was eating and trying to grab food from my plate). Back in the day, it was very common to begin with rice cereal because it is thought to be easy to digest. Nowadays, rice cereal is falling by the way side (did anyone see yesterday’s news report? Arsenic???) and most doctors will give the green light to begin with oatmeal or vegetables. Ask what your doctor recommends at their four month check up so you can put your plan in place.

First, will you be making some or all of your baby’s food? If the answer is yes, you may want to look at baby food makers and there are certainly plenty on the market. Since I knew I would be making some but not most of her food, I didn’t want to invest in yet another gadget. I have a Vitamix (which I highly recommend because it rocks) and a steamer and that is really all you need. I picked up a few freezer containers so that when I make a batch of food, I can freeze the rest in individual containers.

You will also need soft spoons, small bowls, and a ton of bibs of you don’t have already.

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I love this bowl and plate set and it’s currently on sale at Pottery Barn Kids

Next, if you’re buying foods, you’ll be starting with Stage 1. Baby foods come in stages based on the simplicity of the food, the amount it is pureed, and the size. For example, a Stage 1 food may simply be “carrots” while a Stage 2 may be “carrots, butternut squash and apples”. Stage 1 foods are typically 2 ounces while stage 2 are between 3.5-4 ounces. I did a lot of research on brands and I stick with Plum Organics and Happy Baby. Both are organic with non- GMO ingredients but what I think sets them apart is the variety of meals after stage 1 and less added ingredients. At most of my local stores, the stage 1 foods were in short supply (so annoying) so I did a big order from diapers.com and stocked up.

As per the doctor’s recommendation, we gave the same food for three days in a row to watch for allergies. We would try new foods either in the morning or around lunch time to allow for plenty of time to watch for any adverse reactions before bed.

With fruits or vegetables, you would begin by giving half the pouch and give the remaining half the next day (they are good refrigerated for 24 hours). If beginning with cereal, follow the directions on the box. If your baby is eating everything you are serving and wanting more, increase the amounts.

After we had a few foods under our belt, a typical schedule looked something like this.

7am- bottle

8am- oatmeal with fruit (we love this oatmeal that was recommended by a friend)

11am- bottle

12pm- a vegetable

You’ll then add dinner and eventually replace the afternoon bottle with a snack.

I felt strongly that I didn’t want to give her vegetables combined with fruit because I thought it would possibly turn her off to regular vegetables (I worried she would grow accustomed to the sweetness of the fruit) so I stuck with stage 1 for awhile.

Even now at 9 months, I still buy stage 1 fruits and buy only stage 2 vegetable meals, always with some type of protein.

Random Tip– Target makes these fruit pouches that we buy for the big kids which have exactly the same ingredients as the baby food pouches for a lot less $ so if you are a Target shopper, make sure to check them out

Jules did experience some constipation when we began solids, which is fairly common. Prunes and pears, as well as the probiotic oatmeal, worked wonders. We still stay away from bananas because they are so binding.

At our 8 month check up, we were given the green light for her to eat anything (with the exception of cow’s milk and honey which cannot be given until after the first birthday). Now the real fun begins!

All advice above is solely my personal opinion based on my experience. Always consult a medical professional with any medical concerns. 

 

 

Hush, Little Baby- Sleep Tips For The First Month

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First, my disclaimer- I am not a sleep expert by any means. However, I have had three babies who are all good sleepers and I do think it has to do with the sleep strategies I have put in place from day 1. So here is my wisdom, taken from experience and countless books and articles regarding sleep. Since it’s a lot to take in, I’m going to do it in multiple posts, broken down by months.

Month 1

Terms to Know-

  1. E.A.S.Y- Eat, Awake/Activity, Sleep, You Time
  2. Swaddle- The way you wrap a baby to prevent the Moro Reflex that WILL wake them if they are not properly swaddled (up to months 4-5)

Items You Need-

  1. Swaddle blankets
  2. Sound Machine
  3. Pacifier, if you chose to use one

With a brand new baby, any type of schedule is difficult to put into place. My advice for the first month is to keep EASY in mind but don’t worry if the baby won’t stay awake after eating. The Optimal Sleep Time for the first month is no more than 40 minutes, and usually a lot less. Try for stimulation but babies need A LOT of sleep so let that baby sleep! *** It is important to realize there is a difference between real sleep and comfort sleep. Let me explain. A real sleep will happen anywhere. The baby is tired and needs sleep. A comfort sleep happens when the baby is comfortable, in your arms for example. They doze because they are content. When it’s awake time and the baby is sleeping in your arms, make sure to put the baby down and see if she stays asleep. That’s how you’ll know the difference.***

During the day– When you want the baby to sleep, I recommend a light swaddle such as the Aden and Anais blankets. I use the crib from the start for at least 1 to 2 naps which I think is helpful later on. For some reason, moms can be scared to use the crib so I recommend starting during the day when you’re awake so you start to feel more comfortable.

At night, from now until around week 10– Swaddle that baby tightly using the Summer Swaddles (I tried soooooo many and these were the best). I recommend putting the baby down for the night in a flat bassinet, pack and play or co-sleeper in your room. Then when she wakes for the middle of the night feedings, keep the lights very, very dim, change her, feed her (keep talking to a minimum) and put her back to bed. Yes, even if she’s still awake. You are starting right away to teach her to fall asleep drowsy.

Notice

It is not an easy month. You will be sleep deprived. And cranky. And more in love than you thought possible (even if it’s not your first!). If you take only one thing away from this article and by far the most important sleep advice for this month- DO NOT GIVE UP ON THE SWADDLE! The Moro Reflex is a very real thing and all babies have it. You must find a swaddle that works for you and your baby to extend a deep, restful sleep for you both.

*ALWAYS PUT A BABY TO SLEEP ON THEIR BACK*

All advice above is solely my personal opinion based on my experience. Always consult a medical professional with any medical concerns. 

Have Baby, Will Travel- traveling with an infant under 6 months

First post in awhile! Life’s been pretty busy with five kids, go figure 😉
I’ve actually written a few travel posts previously because I love traveling and we frequently travel with our kids but, let me tell you, I was quite stressed about traveling with a five month old! We had a trip to Florida planned when Jules was about five months and then a trip to Puerto Rico planned a few weeks after that, just shy of her turning six months. What did I really need? How would I keep her on any type of schedule? Would it be enjoyable for any of us?
Well, after the two previously mentioned trips, I’m here with exactly what you need and what worked for us.
The Gear, Specifically For Babies 6 Months and Under~
Infant car seat and base
Snap and go (or similar)
Large bag to gate check car seat and base
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Travel Sound Machine- a lifesaver!
Packing for the Baby
I packed each “day” outfit, complete with socks and a headband (of course), as well as pajamas, separately, each in large ziplock bags. At this point I didn’t see a need for “night” outfits for her.
I also packed in 4 separate ziplocks—
1. Three extra complete outfits
2. Swimsuits, swim diapers (two for each day), her sunscreen, and her bug spray
3. Bibs (two bibs for each day)
4. Medicine (thermometer, teething tablets, gas drops, cough syrup, vapor rub, saline spray)
Ziplock full of medication- none of which we needed, thankfully!
In our checked bag, I packed an entire, unopened can of powered formula, her daily food (not much at this point), extra spoons, an entire unopened pack of diapers and wipes, the mat that she loves to lay on, and quite a few toys. I picked up this mat for our PR trip and I can’t say enough about it! It was perfect for her at six months because she was rolling all over the place and it’s huge. I can see us using it later at the park and beach as well.
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Jules on her favorite mat in Florida, before she was rolling over
Traveling
First, check everything you can. We checked our own bags, including a suitcase packed exclusively with the baby’s stuff mentioned above and her travel crib (I highly recommend the Lotus crib- super light weight and very easy to put up and take down). We carried on a very well-stocked diaper bag, plus a backpack with extra bottles, formula and the ziplocks with the medicines (all under 3.5 ounces) and the extra clothes just in case we were delayed or our bags were lost.
We elected not to buy her her own seat. I figured at this point she’d be in my arms regardless. I was lucky enough to have a friend who had a spare infant car seat and snap and go so I borrowed that instead of bringing our own. Most people will need to bring their regular car seat and base and snap and go, which would still work beautifully. We used this throughout the airport and gate checked it right before we boarded the plane. We put the car seat and base in the travel bag to keep it clean and prevent damage.
On the plane, she was pretty good. We timed the flights to coincide with her nap time so I fed her during take off and she fell asleep shortly after. Normally she sleeps for two hours but she slept for about 45 min both times (one sleep cycle) and then was up. I don’t normally use pacifier clips but they are so necessary when traveling so the damn pacifier doesn’t keep falling on the floor. I definitely had to walk her back and forth a bit when the crankiness began but overall all she did great.
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I’m in love with this travel crib!
Schedules
I am the first to admit I can be a bit neurotic when it comes to schedules (this is what works for us; no judgement whatsoever to all the non-scheduled babies and mamas!). Jules is a great napper and sleeper and I attribute that to her consistent daily schedule so I wanted to keep to it as much as possible without sacrificing our vacation. Here’s what worked for us~
  • 7:30am- Wake up at normal time. Because there was an hour difference in PR, that meant an hour later- score!
  • 7:30-9am- After her morning bottle, I’d get her dressed and take her down for a walk around the hotel while I grabbed coffee and breakfast. We’d check out the beach and pool area and it was nice and quiet. This was actually one of my favorite times of each day.
  • 9am- Time for her morning nap. I’d put her down, then quietly sneak out for my alone time by the pool/beach (leaving my hubby sleeping- must be nice!)
  • 10:30- she’d typically wake around 11 so I would come back up at this time. By now, my husband was up and ready to go down to the pool. He’d leave, I’d get her up and fed and then bring her down to hang with the family at the pool/beach. We’d all have lunch and by the time she was ready for her afternoon nap around 1, I was ready for a break from the sun too. I’d put her down and read my book or take a nap, depending upon how many cocktails I enjoyed by the pool 😉
  • 3pm- She’d wake up, have her bottle, and then we’d do our afternoon activity (we checked out the rainforest and Old San Juan in PR and visited family in FL)
  • 7pm- Dinner for all of us. I’d already have her in PJs and feed her her bottle at dinner. She’d typically fall asleep during our dinner but transitioning her to her crib wasn’t an issue.

DSC_0381Exploring the rainforest

Bottles
This was the part I had the most difficulty wrapping my head around before the trip for some reason but it really wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be. I picked up this great travel bottle washing kit and drying rack and these microwaveable sterilizing bags and packed enough bottles for a full day, plus one, which meant we had to wash/sterilize bottles every day. I designated my husband in charge of this and he did great. He set up a nice area on the counter (bathroom in FL/small kitchen in PR), using lysol wipes to wipe everything down, and made space for clean/dirty bottles. Then, every night, he’d wash the bottles in the sink and then sterilize them in the microwave using the bags. It worked perfectly. We stocked up on bottled water upon arrival and filled the bottles with water so they were ready to go for each feeding. She is ok with taking bottles at room temperature so we didn’t have to worry about heating them.
Fun?
My final concern was would these trips even be enjoyable. Admittedly, traveling with a young baby is definitely more work and not as relaxing. However, what can compare with your baby’s first time going into a pool or watching their expression as waves touch their feet for the first time? Nothing! The older kids had a blast and we created some very special family memories, which to us is the point of family trips. It was fun and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
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First time on the beach
I hope these tips help if you are planning a trip with a young baby.
xo,
Tanya

Pregnant after 11 years!

Hi everyone!

So it’s been quite awhile and in case you’ve missed it, I’m pregnant! This will be baby #3 but since my youngest is 11, it quite honestly feels like baby #1.

(This is a second marriage for both myself and my husband. He has two sons from his first marriage; I have two daughters from my first marriage)

We found out in early November and shared the happy news over the holidays. We opted not to do a gender reveal party but still wanted to share the news with our family in a fun and exciting way. We did a reveal cake and it was great!

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It’s a GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The first trimester was tough and I didn’t really start to feel better until about 15 weeks. Ginger ale (Whole Foods makes a good “natural” one), saltines, popsicles, and Preggie Pop Drops helped but honestly I was nauseous from the moment I woke up until I went to sleep at night 😦

Currently I’m 21 weeks and feeling great. I’m trying to work out 3x a week and am still doing The Bar Method. I gained a lot of weight with my last two pregnancies so I’m trying to be really conscious as to not gain as much but I’m also not stressing myself out over it. In the first trimester, all I wanted was carbs and I certainly wasn’t going to fight it.

I just bought some maternity clothes and I must say the fashion has improved greatly since I was pregnant last. I remember searching high and low for a good pair of maternity jeans and now all the great designers make a version- yay!

Here are some pics from 14 weeks and 17 weeks.

14weeks

17weeks

 

 

xo,

Tanya

 

 

 

Dinnertime Organization

When I first got divorced, I vowed to continue to have sit down family dinners every night. This was a staple in my home growing up and I wanted my girls to have the same great memories of sitting around the table and discussing their days, while enjoying a good, home-cooked meal. This was no easy task given I was a single mom to two young children while working full-time and tutoring most afternoons until 5pm. I would then rush to pick my little one up from pre-school and get home around 6, just in time to face the ever-stressful dinnertime dilemma. Necessity is always the mother of invention so I developed a process of meal planning that helped me considerably. Even though I now have more time on my hands, I still use this system because hey, it works!

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On a Saturday or Sunday morning, I sit with my cup of coffee, my folder full of recipes I’ve torn out from magazines, my personal cookbook (more on that in a minute), and my computer so I can pull up recipes I’ve pinned on pinterest (follow me here!) and plan my meals for the week. I make a quick list- M, T, W, T, F and plan full meals (usually adding one or two desserts for the week) for each of the five days. For each meal, I list all of the ingredients I’ll need on my running grocery list which I keep on my phone.

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Recently, I’ve taken this one step further by listing all the meals on this great chalkboard I found at Home Goods. I also add a quote of the week that we spend some time discussing (it works great for discussing literal meanings versus the deeper meaning most quotes have). We also do something called “high/low” where each of  us talks about the high of our day and the low of our day (the lows are always interesting…I have found that here you’ll hear things that wouldn’t normally get brought up).

Now about that personal cookbook- it’s really important in my house! This blank cookbook was given to me by my grandmother when I first moved to college. She told me to fill it with the best recipes I could find and I take that task very seriously. Since I enjoy cooking and like to try new recipes, I scour recipes online, on pinterest and in magazines and try them out on my family. If the comments are “it’s ok” or “it’s good but it’s not great” we toss it. If everyone loves it, it goes into the book. The book is now filled with my family’s favorite recipes and both girls have asked numerous times about getting the book when they move out. I figure I’ll convert it into a hardcover book when the time comes and I already know how much they’ll cherish it. Find something similar here.

I usually make two to three recipes from the book that are tried and true and two to three new recipes each week. This way the girls always have a few dishes to look forward to and new dishes and foods to try.

So that’s how I do it and I have to say, dinner is one thing I don’t stress about. 15 minutes on a weekend morning and a few minutes here and there looking for recipes is all it takes to have 5 well-planned dinners throughout the week.

xo,

Tanya

Plan a Trip With Your Children to Somplace You’ve Never Been

I didn’t get to experience family vacations as a child. Money was tight and, understandably, traveling didn’t rank as high on the priority list as making sure the bills were paid. I’m not quite sure where I got the travel bug from but, for me, there’s nothing better than traveling to an unfamiliar place and experiencing new sights. I made this a priority and planned for it, using my yearly income tax return to pay for a family vacation. You can’t put a price on memories and experiences and I feel that money spent in this area is money well spent.

“5-4-3-2-1…New York, Here We Come!” I can still hear my oldest, then five years old, shout as we made our way through the mid-town tunnel. Our first trip was to New York. We left the little one at home because she was just a few months old. To this day, this remains the best trip I’ve ever taken. Seeing New York City for the first time and sharing that experience with my daughter, so young and curious about the world around her, has now become a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my days. Over the next few years we took a cruise, rented a beach house in Ft. Myers, and went skiing in Vermont (my first time seeing snow and getting on skis was another amazing experience I got to share with the girls), and took quite a few trips to Disney. Nowadays we are blessed to be in a situation where we do a whole lot of traveling sometimes more than we’d like. Even so, throughout the past year I felt I was missing out on that special bonding and excitement that the girls and I had shared so I decided to plan a weekend girls trip to Washington, D.C.

When planning a trip to an area I’ve never been, I make sure to do my homework. First and foremost, I ask my friends for advice on visiting the area and jot down their recommendations. I then check tripadvisor.com and look for travel blogs about the city that I’m visiting. I then take my list and think about my children. What will keep them engaged? What will be meaningful and what will they enjoy?

For this trip to D.C, I decided upon the Monuments by Moonlight tour which was amazing and served as a great way to see the monuments and memorials without a whole lot of walking. With so many museums to choose from, I had to really do my research and narrow it down to three that would be interesting for all and unique to Washington. I chose the American History Museum (The Spark Lab keep them busy for an hour+), the Holocaust Museum (the children’s exhibit only), and the Spy Museum (so, so cool!) We walked the streets of Georgetown and grabbed dinner and cupcakes (Sprinkles, not D.C Cupcakes~ the line was ri-dic-u-lous!) to enjoy later in our hotel room.

We were just there for the weekend and although I could have fit more in, I make it a point to leave a little down time on our trips. Day-to-day, the girls don’t spend a ton of time together and on these trips they just have each other. One of the highlights for me was when my younger one decided to take a bath in the “sick” tub (as in uber cool) and my older one went in to help her wash her hair. Hearing them talk about their life plans and their bucket lists at ages 12 and 7 put a smile on my lips as wide as the Potomac River.

Stop procrastinating and plan the trip you’ve always wanted to take with your children. Each stage passes with the blink of an eye so now is the time. If finances won’t allow for something this year, begin planning for next year. Enjoy the process~ the anticipation is to be cherished and appreciated as well!

Start a “Home Learning” Project With Your Kids This Summer

So far this blog as been a little bit of everything that makes up my crazy life but it’s real objective is to motivate myself and possibly inspire others. Each summer I have the idea to start a Home Learning project with the girls but can’t seem to follow through. I’m making a commitment now, for the world to see! Read about our first project below.

It’s time to break out the colored pencils and watercolors! One of the things that saddens me about the state of education these days is the lack of time available to teach some of really interesting and important things such as history and art. To help close the gap in my daughters’ education as well as expand my own, I’ve decided to begin what I’m calling our “Home Learning” projects.

First up, Art!

I decided we would begin in the renaissance period, studying Michelangelo and Da Vinci. For the Michelangelo portion of the project, I had both girls work together on a PowerPoint presentation. My older one found the information and the younger one chose the pictures. My older one scoffed at first but quickly got into it and was very eager to share the completed project. To introduce Da Vinci, I found a cartoon video on youtube. We watched it together and then googled his most famous works of art.

Now mind you, the girls wouldn’t be happy about doing this if there wasn’t real art involved. After checking out the Crayola website, I found a really cool project that manages to encompass both artists. I also wanted to have the girls try sculpting because both artists did that as well. I made a trip to the art supply store and stocked up on clay, new colored pencils, small canvases, Crayola Texture It!, and watercolors. The first day we all tried sculpting and the girls quickly grew frustrated and bored. That’s ok~ at least they gave it a go! Yesterday, we worked on the second project and although my older one lost interest fairly quickly, my seven year old and I spent two hours drawing and painting together. Quality time like that is priceless.

To “cement” what they’ve learned, I bought them both composition books and they’re summarizing what their newly acquired knowledge. Nothing intensive~ just a few sentences. I think music during the renaissance period will be up next, following our upcoming weekend trip to D.C. (government/politics).

xo,

Tanya