Parenting

I love being a full time mom

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Another day, we were going to bed and Anastasia told me:

“Mommy, I wish you were my sister.”

“Why?”- I asked.

“Because we would be the same size and we would do everything together FOREVER!” I started to cry.

To get my self throughout college I worked as a nanny for many years. It is then, I decided that I would love to stay home and raise my own children.

I got my degree in physical chemistry, and I started working on my PhD when my oldest daughter was born. I knew, there was nothing more important to me than to witness her first smile, her first steps, to be her first friend, and to be the first and the last person who she sees before and after she go to sleep. I took a year off school, and when it was time to go back, my PhD started to seem so meaningless. I’ve chosen to stay home and raise my own children. Today, I am living my dream life with my adorable two little girls, thanks to my dearest husband George who allows me to do so.

Of course, I have good days and bad days, from my previous posts you saw, raising kids is a very hard work, and I enjoy every minute of it. Occasionally, I still get society pressure get to me, when I hear that I should be going to work because my kids are getting older. I go and apply for a couple positions secretly hoping that I won’t get selected, because all that I want to do is to stay home with my kids.
Ok, I don’t just stay home with them, I cook for them, I educate them (we do “home work” from some work books), I play puzzles, games, dolls, I take them to classes, sport activities, and parks. More importantly, I am being their mom: I am there when they are hurt, I am there when they have a question, I am there when they want to share some excitement with me, I am there when they are wrong and they need someone to tell them why, I am there when they just need some love…

I am not saying that we should shelter our children, no, both of my girls go to preschool, where they get positive interaction with other kids their age. Plus, I am a mom, for me my kids are the best, but I also want to hear it from other people. It is so rewarding to hear from teachers and other parents that your kids are caring, loving, smart, and well mannered.

When youngest three year old came to me and said: “Mommy you are my best friend,” I knew that I made the best decision of my life when I chose to stay home with my kids.

 

 

A day of my life with two toddlers (2.5 and 1 year old)

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Just when I think my life is too hard I revisit my past. Here is detailed description of how my life was when the girls were one and two and a half. If you still thinking about the illusion of how easy life is for stay at home moms READ THIS.

A day of my life/ 06/05/2012

3am Tatiana got up and I went to her room to sleep on the futon with her

5am Anastasia got up and wanted to drink some water and come to bed with Tatiana and me. I gave her water and bagged her to be quite just so Tatiana does not get up. 30 minutes later Anastasia was back to sleep.

6am Tatiana got up saying, “bottle-bottle”. I took her climbed over Anastasia and went to get her formula. Gave her formula went back to my bedroom where my husband was a sleep and tried to put Tatiana back to bed. Did not work. Put Tati on the flour. Hear “BUM” baby knock over the mirror.

7am I got up. Make coffee. Give Tatiana breakfast. Tried yogurt, she did not want it, then gave her a squizzy

7:30 went to wake Anastasia up. She did not want to get up.

7:45 told Anastasia it is time to go to school

8:20 Get Anastasia dresses for school. Anastasia decided she want to eat yogurt in her high chair while George stars to get ready to leave

8:25 I am getting Anastasia’s snack ready for school, Anastasia is eating breakfast George puts his shoes on

8:30 ready to leave, Tatiana needs a diaper change.

George takes Anastasia to the car, she screams she does not have her shoes on, I say her shoes are in the car. I change the baby

8:40 we are all in the car, Anastasia screams that she wants only mommy to put her seatbelt on while I am putting baby in her seat.

8:43 we are on the way to take George to the train station.

8:50 we barely made it. George got on the train

8:55 we got to Anastasia’s school, I had to fix her hair in the car before leaving.

8:57 in the classroom, sigh in Anastasia, date her snack, and play with Tatiana

9:15 done playing back in the car just with the baby.

9:20 got to the grocery store, got a latte, meats, coffee, plans for the garden

9:55 went to RadioShack to get a memory stick for Anastasia’s school photos.

10:10 got back home put Tatiana to sleep put all the groceries in the refrigerator

10:15 tear down the old garden, fertilize the ground, and planted tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberry

11:10 got Tatiana up gave her bottle put her on the bike and went to pick up Anastasia

11:35 got to school, circle time

11:50 tried to remember to leave the memory stick in Anastasia’s classroom

12:00 got everyone on the bike and went home. On the way home stopped at one of the parks.

1:00pm got home. Gave Tatiana a bottle, feed Anastasia tomatoes, carrots and sour cream.

1:15pm put Anastasia for a nap

1:20pm call my mom while playing with Tatiana on the back yard

1:45pm tried putting Tatiana to sleep, realize Anastasia needed a diaper change. Put Tati down, change Anastasia diaper, gave her another bottle of water.

2:00pm Sat down listening both girls crying trying to go to sleep

2:10pm realize I was starving. Started cooking. Cooked chicken liver pate, got chicken ready for dinner “chicken parmesan”, grilled meatballs, boiled rice.

3:50 Tatiana and Anastasia wake up. Gave them lunch, let them play while I was continuing cooking and cleaning.

4:35 called George to find out he was coming home around 7pm

4:45 done with cleaning

5:00 went to the park with the girls. Playing sand castles, swing, climbing

6:00 got back home put chicken in the over, and pasta to cook while girls are playing outside.

6:30 Anastasia wants to make cookies. Making dough, a mess, cleaning the mess.

7:00 George is coming home, seating down for dinner

7:50 George is giving the girls a bath while I am seating down to brows the Internet.

8:00 girls are done they want “mommy” to take them out

8:10 putting PJ on Tati and trying to watch a family show.

8:30 put Tati to sleep clean after the dinner. Get an argument with George that I am not too happy and grumpy; I am saying I just want to finish cleaning and relax

9:30 put Anastasia to sleep,

9:35 put all the toys a way, clean up a leaving room

9:40 seat down to write about my day

10:00 George is trying to watch a movie but it is too loud for me, we get in a fight he leaves angered, but I don’t care I am too tired

10:10pm I am done for today. I still have to fold laundry, but I will have to put it on hold till tomorrow

10:15 going to bed

 

A simple life of a stay at home mom of 4 and 2.5 year olds

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As kids get older life get simpler, there are no more diaper changes when you have to leave the house, there are no more nursing every three hours, but there are new events are being added to you life. It is not just a playmate at a park, it is driving from one place to another all day long with healthy snacks and meals in between.

Some of you might ask why do I have these detailed daily routine? The answer is simple, when my husband comes home and “Oh No” the house is not cleaners or put together there is always a look in his eyes: “What did you do all day?” So, to answer his question, I decided to document everything I did all day. Did it help with the look? For a little bid, but then it all copies back to the same:What did you do all day? Maybe you shouldn’t have so many playdates planed”. Maybe, but I think it is important to have our children to be exposed to as many things as possible. Plus when my daughter comes to me and as :”Mommy can I please do T-ball, all of my friends do it, ” I can’t say no, call me softy, but I just can’t. As long as we can afford it I can fit it in my schedule. It is my job. Ok, enough of prelude, here is the my daily routine from last spring.

A day in my life as stay at home mom of Anastasia is 4 and Tatiana 2.5

7am woke up

7:05 got milk

7:10 made coffee, breakfast, checked emails

8:00 had coffee, got everybody ready

9:00 took the girls to gymnastics and played with them there

10:00 went to the grocery store

11:00 made soup

11:30 taught Anastasia two-wheel bike

12:15pm eat lunch with girls

12:45 take Anastasia to school

1:10 got home made phone calls while Tati take naps

2:00 went on the run with Tati, washed the dishes, cleaned the kitchen

3:00 prepare snack for Anastasia after school

3:10 got Anastasia’s tball gear together

3:15 went to the store to pick up a gift for Anastasia’s teacher

3:45 pick up Anastasia

4:00 snack time at the preschool

4:10 got home, bathroom time change into tball gear

4:15-4:30 wash the floors, clean up

4:30 went to tball

4:30-5:30 play with Tati during Anastasia’s tball

5:35 vacuum

5:45 Anastasia’s playdate arrived at our house

6:00 cook dinner

6-7:30 dinner time with the friends

8:00 put girls to bed

8:30 wash the dishes, clean up the toys

9:30-10:30 watch TV

10:30 go to bed

Ok, I have to admit, that not all seven days a week are like that, but three or sometimes four is, and I am sure that it is not just my life, all the so called soccer moms who don’t get enough respect for staying home have life that is just as busy as mine.

 

Emotional First Days of Preschool

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My youngest daughter Tatiana, age 3, started her preschool yesterday. It is such an emotional process for both of us. It was so hard for me to leave her there yesterday and to see the sadness in her eyes, the silent question: “Mommy, why are you doing this to me, don’t you still love me?”

The preschool that my children go to, is a Early Childhood Laboratory Preschool for future educators. We have a great student-teacher ration 2:1, and Tatiana has known her head teachers, from previous years, since her sister has been in the same program. So, I felt comfortable leaving Tati there, especially knowing that she knows her teachers and the classroom. So, yesterday, I stayed with her for about 15 minutes, and then I thought that teachers can probably handle the separation, so I left for 2 hours.

When I came back, I didn’t recognize my child. My funny, happy, outgoing little girl, transformed into a sad child. She looked like a lost puppy, who gave up hope for life, she didn’t cry, no, she was just seating there without any emotions on her face. When she saw me coming back, she ran to me, hugged me very tight, as she never hugged before, and started to cry like she never cried before. It was so hard for me to keep my emotions under control.

When we came home, I gave her a present to celebrate her First Day of School, hoping that it will smooth out the experience. For the rest of the day, I was trying to be as positive about her first day of school as I could. I knew her school and the teachers were wonderful, but it was still so hard for me to see my baby go through such a drastic transformation.

Today, I decided to use a different approach and I stayed with my daughter for 2 hours, I showed her all the fun things that her classroom has, I played some games with her, I read some books with her, I engaged her in the classroom activities. While I was doing it, I realized, that yesterday, it was the very first time I ever left her without me, her sister or her father. Although her sister was in the different classroom and they did get to see each other outside for an hour, it was still a huge shock for her. The stress was so big that she couldn’t think about playing with toys or games, she probably didn’t even notice more than half of the things that were present in a classroom.
Today, I left her right before the outside time, because I knew Tatiana would see her sister there and they would be together.
When I came to pick her up today, she was visibly upset, but it wasn’t like yesterday. She was sitting with her teacher reading a book, while other kids were doing circle time. I was told, that she was sad leaving her sister, so one of her teachers pulled her aside, and read her a story to comfort her. She was fine.

I am sure couple more weeks and she will be loving her school and her new friends as much as her sister does, but those first days of school are so hard on me. To see how much my child is going through and to realize that it is for her own good it is hard.

I am sure, as our children get older they are going to have more and more of those moments where we, as parents, are going to witness them struggeling, often, there would be very little that we can do for them except provide our love and support. I am also sure, that there will be moment when we would have to see our children going through some rough times, and we will have to step a side and let them grow up.

Today, I choose to be there for my little one, to be with her when she needed me, to comfort her and to guide her because I am her mom, but I know that one day I might not be able to do it.

 

Adjusting to Preschool

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From reading my previous post about my three-year old daughter’s first emotional day of preschool, you know that it hasn’t been easy for us. It has been a long four weeks, but today, I just dropped her off, she waved goodbuy and went to play with her friends.

It was a long road for both of us, but I am so proud of her. I am thankful that I had an opportunity to take it slow and to allow her to get comfortable with this new part of her life. I wanted to share her journey because I know that not everyone has an opportunity to witness how our little ones get adjusted to a new environment.

The first week was the hardest for both of us. Tatiana couldn’t understand why I was taking her to preschool and why she had to be there. She wasn’t having any fun, she wasn’t playing with anyone. I stayed there the whole three hours, and she was holding on to me the whole three hours. On the last day of week one, she started expressing some interest in puzzles, but she was still refusing to participate in any class activities.

The second week, I decide to stay for the first hour and a half, until she had to go outside to see her sister. I wanted her to start getting used to the idea that mommy leaves but she always comes back. During that week she started to get to know the classroom, her teachers, some kids. On the last day of week two, she even participated in the circle time. She was getting familiar with the routine and I could see that she was starting to get more comfortable around other kids.

On week three, I decided to stay for the first 20-30 minutes and then read her a book and leave. The book was the key. We read the same book everyday before I had to leave. It was a great book called Lama Lama Misses Mama. The story was about a little Lama’s first day of school and all the emotions and feeling Lama was going through during its first day of school. It talks about how sad and uncomfortable one can feel when it just starting a new preschool. The book recognizes the feelings and labels them and it seemed to help my daughter. At the end of the story, Tatiana would go to the window and wave to me. After I left, she would crying for a little bit, but then she go and play.

This week, week four, we came in the classroom and Tatiana just went to her teacher, and started to play. I was waiting to read her the story, but our book wasn’t there, so I just said: “Do you want to go and wave to me?” She said: “Yes”. That was it. She waved to me, took her new friend’s hand and went to play. It was amazing!

I am glad that I took a time to make her feel comfortable, I am glad that I was able witness the transformation week by week. Surprisingly, it was easy for me to let her go today, I think it is because I was there every step of the way. Today, I saw that she wanted to be there, she had fun there, she had friends there and that made me feel good.

 

 

How to handle a melt down at a swim meet

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While it is still on my mind… Yesterday, Anastasia (my oldest daughter, age 4.5) had her swim meet. It was her fourth or fifth one, so by now, I was thinking we are used to it, we are over the exiety, the scare, we know what to expect. Oh my, I was wrong, very wrong…

Most swimmers know that you have to do a warm up before the meet, so did my daughter. We ( me, Anastasia and her 3 year old sister Tatiana) showed up early, just so Anastasia can take her time to get used to the place, do her warm ups and get comfortable. I got her into the suit, cap, and google we got to her lane, and all of the sudden she refuses to get into the pool.
My first tactic was to encourage her; “Go in it will be so much fun, you need to warm up your body, so you can swim very fast during the meet!” This lasted for about 5 minutes, then I thought maybe I should leave and have her coach deal with it. So I took me 3 year old and went the bench. i don’t know what the coach was telling her, but 5 minutes in, Anastasia was still on the deck clinging to her coach. I felt bad for the lady, she had a lot going on with all other swimmers, so I came to take over Anastasia. At that time, she started crying and screaming that she doesn’t want to do warm ups, she just wanted to do the meet.
Ok, some of you might says, just let her be and let her do just the events that she is interested. But we are already 15 minutes in it, at this point, I just want her to get in the water just to teach her that you don’t get what you want just by screaming and crying. So, I go to my next tactic, Bribing. If you get in the water, I will buy you ice-cream, etc. This lasted another 10 minutes. Don’t forget, this is all happening in front of the pool where hundreds of people are watching me and probably think “Thank God this is not me”. Another 10 minutes in I realize that 10 more minutes and they will close the pool and I will loose that battle, so I go on to my last reserve: “It is your choice, if you don’t want to get in the pool you don’t have to, but then I will make my choice and not let you go to the birthday party tomorrow.” I know it was so low, but I was running out of ideas, and 40 minute of crying and creaming was getting the best of me. When they announce that the pool is closing she agreed to get in the water but not to swim.

Ok, I take it, it was not a win, but she had to over come her melt down and did what needed to be done. Once she got into the pool coaches let us go to the small pool where she agreed to do couple of laps of freestyle. She refused to do anything else, and I left her have that battle. “Good job, Anastasia, you did it, I am so proud you”- I said. “Good job, Dina, I am so proud of you, you didn’t kill your child in front of a 100 people and stayed COOL.”

 

Special Quality Time with Your Kids

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As a stay at home mom, I spend all of my time with my children, but between cooking, cleaning, laundry, and drop offs how much quality time do I really spend with them. We are so busy with everyday life and we think, that since we stay home with our children that is enough, however, I think we should dedicate special quality time with them.

I came up with an idea for setting up a timer for myself for 30 minutes each day to spend quality time with each of my kids. During that time, I am not allowed to cook, clean, look at the phone, computer, or TV. Instead, I do something special with each of my girls, we color, play dollhouse, bake, do some projects, anything that they want to do.

Once a month I take one of my girls on a (NO cell phone) date. This is a different way to spend one-on-one time with them. We only do it once a month for each child, but during that time, each of the parents take one child for something special. Last month, I took my five year old for a real High Tea, while my husband took our three year old to the movies. It was a great opportunity to catch up on their interests, friends, and things that she liked to do. People don’t think that small children are capable of having a real conversation, but you should try. Ask you child questions about what they like, what are their favorite things in preschool, what books they like, what is their favorite color or activity to do. I promise you will be surprised of some of the things that kids say, at the same time you will make your children feel very special by making the date all about them.

If you want to build a strong relationship with your kids you have to invest in it, and just being around them is not always enough.

 

Sibling Rivalry First Thing in the Morning

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This morning my kids got up very early, 5:30am. As you know, if they are up, I am up. They were both tired then they added Halloween candy into their system and that caused the explosion of sibling rivalry. I was trying to reason them to stop fighting but at 5:30am, my brain as much as the majority of my body was still sleeping. So, after 30 minutes of fighting I have had enough, it was time for action.
I separated both girls into their rooms, with the words: “If it is too hard for you to play together you have to be separated.” Usually I put them in time out for 3 or 5 minutes, according to their age. However, I was so tired that I put them in their rooms for 45 minutes. During that time they were not allowed to talk to each other or anyone, they had to stay inside and clean their room. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how it was going to work, but it did! I had 45 minutes (ok, 40 minutes, the first 5 was the cry) of quiet morning time for my coffee and as a bonus, surprisingly, they both did a good job cleaning their rooms. In addition, they were so miserable by themselves, that they couldn’t wait to be together – they were each others best friends again. It was a trifecta!

When life gives you lemons just add a little bit of sugar and make a lemonade.

Teach Your Children to Play

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My girls love to play together. They play mommies, school, gymnastics, grocery stores and other pretend play with each other and their dolls. They come up with different games all the time, and I am so proud, that they have such a great imagination.

It wasn’t always like that. For a while I could see that they want to play a dollhouse but they don’t know how, I could see that they like dolls but they don’t know how to play with them besides taking their cloths off. One can say, how hard is it to play with a toy, but I believe we have to show our children how to play with those basic toys like a dollhouse, a doll, or even a ball or those toys are just going to be a one-second excitement and they will end up laying around the house unused.

Kids can probably undress a doll by themselves as well as kick a ball, but there is so many other ways to play with a toy, using it differently and we, as parents, need to demonstrate our children how to use their imagination while playing with a toy.
The best way to teach kids play is to play with them. Yes, get down on a floor, take one doll or a dinosaur give another one to your child and play with him/her. I know, I keep repeating PLAY, but what does it mean? It means that you have to pretend that you are that doll that lives in a dollhouse that wants to go to a store, a park, or a ball and you want your friend to come with you, and both of your dolls have to dress up for the occasion, eat dinner get in a car and go there. It sounds strange and it will feel weird, but if you don’t show children that toys can be used to create different worlds with imagination, they will never know.

While playing with your kids you will notice that those times create a very stronger bond between you and your children and they will remember those playtime for a long time.

 

Benefits of Gardening With Kids

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A couple of years ago, I was watching a documentary about young children who didn’t know what vegetables and fruits were and where they came from. It was then, I decided that my kids are going to know all of their fruits and vegetables, and the path of how they get from a garden to a plate.

We are so lucky that we live in California and we can garden all year long.
Yesterday, we finally went to a local nursery and each of the girls picked different vegetables that they wanted to plant. We bought carrots, different variations of peas, cabbage, and kale.

In addition, we bought a couple more fruit trees and now we have an orange tree, two peach trees, a fig tree, a tangerine tree, a plum tree and an apple tree. I know it sounds like a lot, but it actually looks good and soon the girls can just go outside and pick their own fruits and vegetables.

My children love gardening, but I have to admit this was the first year when they knew what they were doing, they planted and did not pull everything out. Kids love playing in the dirt, being outside and seeing the immediate result to their hard work. Gardening also teaches them the hard work of maintaining the garden and the harvest. In addition, planting different vegetables and fruits and seeing them grow makes them want to eat fruits and vegetable more. My children always ate a lot of fruits and vegetables, but there are certain foods like kale they started to eat only after we started to plant it.

I am proud to say, that today they know a lot about the hard work of growing fruits and vegetables and cooking them. Having that knowledge taught them how hard one has to work to prepare a meal that they eat. It also taught them to appreciate and respect the food that they eat. Besides teaching the children the hard work of growing vegetables, it is so beneficial to eat home-grown fruits and vegetable.

There are so many other benefits to gardening with your kids that I have not mentioned, if you have an opportunity to grow your own garden and you haven’t done it yet, you should give it a try as a fun family activity.

 

Teach Your Kids Money

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When my girls were about three and a half and two, going to any store with them was a nightmare. “I want this!” “Mommy, buy me that!” How many times can you say “NO”. I was tied of being a bad guy. It was getting worse by the day. I knew something had to be changed. I decided to expose them to the reality- everything cost money, and to get money you have to work. Too early, you might say, may be…

One day, we were riding our bike and my girls saw a homeless man, sleeping under a bridge. “Mommy why is this man laying here?” “Honey, he lives here, this is his home.” “Why?” “Because he didn’t have money to pay his mortgage, so people took his house away and now he has to live here.” Was it too much of harsh information, may be, but now, when I say I don’t have money to buy a toy, because I have to pay mortgage they don’t ask.

The best way to teach my kids that everything cost money and how much money, I make them earn their own money. They do chores: cleaning their rooms, put the toys away, do their “homework”, fold their own laundry, clean and set up a table, for each of those, they get 10 cents. They have a chore chart, where we mark what they did, and at the end of the week, get their cash.

At first, as soon as they got their money they wanted to go to Target. Soon, they realized they can’t really buy much for 5 dollars in Target. However, if they go to a Dollar store they can have five things with their five dollars. The comparisson between two stores taught them that some things are more expensive and some are less.

When we go somewhere, where I know I will have to buy them something, I give each of them a sum that I would want them to spend. I tell them that this is all the money they have and they can do what ever they want with it. When they have an actual money in their hand and they pay for their stuff, they physically know, when money are gone they can’t buy anything more. In the same time, if you tell them that they are allowed to spend, let’s say twenty dollars, but they can’t physically see it, it is harder for small children to understand the idea that there is no more money left.

Now when we go to the store it is fun. We turned our shopping nightmare into shopping math game, where they try to subtract from their original sum different items cost to see how much money they are going to have left.

My husband and I also tried to introduce the concept of saving to them. This summer, my older daughter (she was 4.5) really wanted some toy that cost $35. We told her that she has to do her chores for almost 2 months. She said that it was too long and she wanted to come up with a different way to make money. She had a lemonade stand. She also drew some pictures and wanted to sell them to the people who were buying lemonade. Two weeks of saving plus the lemonade stand, provided her enough money to buy her thirty five dollar toy.

Today my kids know that daddy has to go to work to make money, because we need to pay for the mortgage, the car, all of their activities and food. They also don’t ask me to buy them things all the time, because they know what money is.

How to have a full body work out while playing with your kids outside

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As a full time mom, I know how difficult it is to fit in those work outs. I found a way to have a full body work out while playing with my kids outside. All what I need is a jogging stroller, a playground and my kids.

I start with my warm up, jogging to a playground that is about 1 mile (10-15 minutes) away from our house. Once I get to the park, I start playing game with my girls: an animal game (monkey bars), wheels on the bus game (squads on a carousel or a swing), a counting game( holding my legs up while hanging on a ladder). We also play “who can jump the fastest to the other side go the playground” (since I am bigger I have to jump on one leg), or “who is the fastest crab” (get in the squad position and try to walk without getting up), or some other silly game that my girls come up with every time.

If a park has a monkey bar, we love to play Guess Who Am I. I usually go first, making funny noises while I try to get myself across. My girls have to guess what animal I am. When it is their turn, they try to do the same, everyone laughs and I get my upper body work out.

Most playground structures have a ladder, where kids can climb to get to the top. I use the ladder for stretching my back and to get a good lower abdominal workout. We call it a Counting Game. I have to hang on the highest bar and raise my straight legs as high as I can, while my girls are counting. It sound very easy, but I can’t keep hanging with my legs at 90 degree for longer than 15 second. My preschoolers love this game, especially my 3 year old, who is just learning to count. Sometimes, my older daughter says she is too old for counting game, so I have her hang next to me to see who can stay on the bar the longest

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Our playground also has a carousel, our absolute favorite Wheel On a Bus Game. I like to do my squads on it while it is in motion. I know it sounds tricky, but it is not. I get my kids on a carousel, put on leg on the edge while holding with two hand to the bar. I use my other leg to push off. While I am on the ground I am in a squad position, then I release, then I get back to squad, then I release again, etc. It is very effective exercise for my legs and thighs, and kids love it. I usually do 15-20 on each side.

If we are at a playground without a carousel, I do my squads while pushing a swing. One push equals one squad, easy. Carousel or swing, to make it more fun for kids, I always sing some kids songs.

When my girls are done with my games and they just want to play by themselves, I get down and do my plain pushups (15-20 repetitions), some leg kicks (15-20 each leg), and plain old sit ups. Most of the time during those exercises my girls will come and try to mimic me or just make fun of me.

Usually, the playground takes about 30 minutes. When we are done, I get my girls back to the stroller or their bikes and we run home,the same one mile back.

When I look at the result: I run 2 miles, had full body work out, and my girls had fun quality time with their mommy at a park.

 

Striving to Give my Kids a Head Start

I am a big believer in educating my children. Some people think that I am excessive when it comes to it, but I believe that if you want your child to succeed in life you have to start early. If I want them to get into an Ivy League school, they have to succeed in High School, to succeed in High School they have to be on top in middle school. To know what your are doing in middle school, you have to have your ducks in a row in elementary school. You cannot understand what is going on in elementary school, if you have not learned the basics in kindergarten and preschool. So, my children’s education started the second I found out that I was expecting.

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When I was pregnant the first time, I would listen to classical music and put the headset to my belly, so my baby could listen to it, because I read that it could support fetal brain development. When my first daughter was born, at six weeks I signed her in Gymboree classes. I bought all kids of black and white baby monitors and hanging things to put on the stroller to stimulate my baby’s brain activity. We did baby yoga and massage since she was born. We started baby swim lessons when she was six months old. I read to her every day. I bought teach my baby math. I downloaded different baby apps on my ipad and iphone to help her with vocabulary and language learning.

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I don’t know if it really advanced her in her developing, she was just like every other baby. When I read a baby book on what I was supposed to expect, my daughter was a baby by the book. She didn’t do anything sooner or later than it was expected.

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When Anastasia was 9 months I found out that I was pregnant, I was still trying to concentrate on her development, but I wasn’t so over the top crazy anymore. We were still doing swimming, local library classes, Gymboree and a music class. When Anastasia turned one I signed her up for gymnastics. I was still buying all the educational toys, games and puzzles. We had tons of kids books that she would love to read.

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Soon after my younger daughter was born, at the age of two, Anastasia started her preschool. From her preschool I was turned on where to buy good supplies on what kids were learning at what age. Probably at the age of 2.5 I started to introduce workbooks, from which we would learn colors, letters, shapes and numbers. I called it homework books. I tried to make it fun and interactive. Our homework time is a special time when we sit together coloring, learning, talking, it is a very special one-on-one time.

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When my daughter turned three, she already knew all of the shapes, colors and letters, she could count and recognize the numbers up to 15.
At three, I started to develop some other math skills like pattern making, addition and subtraction. In terms of language we were working on sequencing, opposites and rhymes.

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At four, she could sound all the words and understood the concept of multiplication. She started dancing, tee-ball and competitive swimming. This past summer, I singed her up for ceramic classes and Anastasia loves art.

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She just turned five, we missed the California cut off for kindergarten, so she is not in kindergarten until next year. This year, I started working with her on sight words. I also try to come up with some fun scientific experiments for her, to cover the science education.

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With all that said, she started Pre-K this year, and I volunteer there every Monday. I can see that all the work that I have done with my daughter, helps her a lot. She doesn’t have to stress out about the academic part of school and she can just concentrate on developing her social skills.

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With my youngest daughter, I wasn’t as active, just because I already had Anastasia I could only do half of the things with the baby. We still did the library and the music class, gymnastics and swimming. Because my girls are only 18 months apart, they can be doing a lot of things together at the same time.

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Today my little one is 3.5, she can count till 30, she recognizes numbers to 10, she knows all of her shapes and colors, she knows her patterns, opposites, rhymes and sequencing. We are working on letters and phonics.

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I started doing the workbooks with her too, and she loves it. After we drop her sister to Pre-K, Tatiana runs home and says we have to do homework. We usually last for about 20 minutes. When I go for a run, I put her in a jogging stroller, give her the ipad with educational games and she does math and language for another 30 minutes.

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I don’t know if all the prep work I have done with my girls will make them more advanced in one area or another, but I know that I did everything I could to set them up for success.

 

Gardening with Children

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A couple of years ago, I was watching a documentary about young children who didn’t know what vegetables and fruits were and where they came from. It was then, I decided that my kids are going to know all of their fruits and vegetables, and the path of how they get from a garden to a plate.

We are so lucky that we live in California and we can garden all year long.
Yesterday, we finally went to a local nursery and each of the girls picked different vegetables that they wanted to plant. We bought carrots, different variations of peas, cabbage, and kale.

In addition, we bought a couple more fruit trees and now we have an orange tree, two peach trees, a fig tree, a tangerine tree, a plum tree and an apple tree. I know it sounds like a lot, but it actually looks good and soon the girls can just go outside and pick their own fruits and vegetables.

My children love gardening, but I have to admit this was the first year when they knew what they were doing, they planted and did not pull everything out. Kids love playing in the dirt, being outside and seeing the immediate result to their hard work. Gardening also teaches them the hard work of maintaining the garden and the harvest. In addition, planting different vegetables and fruits and seeing them grow makes them want to eat fruits and vegetable more. My children always ate a lot of fruits and vegetables, but there are certain foods like kale they started to eat only after we started to plant it.

I am proud to say, that today they know a lot about the hard work of growing fruits and vegetables and cooking them. Having that knowledge taught them how hard one has to work to prepare a meal that they eat. It also taught them to appreciate and respect the food that they eat. Besides teaching the children the hard work of growing vegetables, it is so beneficial to eat home-grown fruits and vegetable.

There are so many other benefits to gardening with your kids that I have not mentioned, if you have an opportunity to grow your own garden and you haven’t done it yet, you should give it a try as a fun family activity.

 

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