Childhood Anxiety: Pookie’s Journey

Pookie is taking anxiety medication.

Pookie is five years old.  I feel some vague sense of horror that my five-year-old takes anxiety medication, but there it is.

Mental health issues run in my family.  There’s the story of my great-grandma, who was intensely angry about her last pregnancy and thus refused to touch her youngest or look at him for most of his first year of life, leaving her oldest daughters–young teens at the time–to mother their newborn brother while she locked herself in her room.  My grandfather (the older brother of the unwanted little guy) struggled with depression as an adult, and my dad has dealt with it off-and-on over the years.  My sister was depressed for a year or so recently, and I battled its shadow for several years from late-high school until about the time I had my oldest child.

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This is my child who was afraid to go in water deeper than his navel last year, the child who clung to my side even in said shallow water.  This year has brought an amazing transformation!

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20 books (by 11 authors) that you should read to your child before they turn six

About a year ago, I was looking at book lists for ideas of read-alouds.  As I was looking through lists for grades we’ve passed, it left me wondering what I would put on a must-read list.  Since that time, I’ve done a lot of pondering.  Here’s the first installment of my must-read lists–the preschool version–complete with 20 books by 11 authors divided into 0-2 and 3-5 age categories.

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Arches National Park (with kids!) in a Day — plus a glimpse of Canyonlands National Park

We recently took an epic, 4500+ mile road trip in a loop around some of the western United States, attempting to hit a number of requested stops on our way to and from a family reunion in Wyoming. Since our time was limited, we often managed only one day (generally 4-6 hours, to accommodate travel to and from each location) at each of our stops along the way. Despite the fact that ‘Love’s idea of a vacation is a three-hour drive to the cottage followed by a week of sedentary relaxation, I think we managed pretty well on our whirlwind trip. In case you have a similar time crunch and are wondering how to spend your precious hours at some of these same stops, here was our experience.

**Read about our stop at the Grand Canyon here.**

Since we were trekking up through Utah, ‘Love and I were determined to stop at one of the lovely national parks there.  After some research and agonization, we settled on Arches National Park (with a glimpse of nearby Canyonlands National Park).

We arrived in Moab, Utah in late afternoon, having driven from Flagstaff, Arizona with stops at Four Corners and Newspaper Rock–both of which were interesting, but rather brief and out-of-the-way.  Since we were not ready to lounge around the hotel that early in the day, we thought we’d take a jaunt over to Canyonlands National Park, since we just had a few short hikes we planned to do there. Continue reading

The Grand Canyon (with kids!) in a Day

We recently took an epic, 4500+ mile road trip in a loop around some of the western United States, attempting to hit a number of requested stops on our way to and from a family reunion in Wyoming.  Since our time was limited, we often managed only one day at each of our stops along the way.  Despite the fact that ‘Love’s idea of a vacation is a three-hour drive to the cottage followed by a week of sedentary relaxation, I think we managed pretty well on our whirlwind trip.  In case you have a similar time crunch and are wondering how to spend your precious hours at some of these same stops, here was our experience.

We drove to the Grand Canyon from our hotel in Gallup.  While this was a four-hour drive, we gained an hour en route because Gallup participates in Daylight Saving Time, while the Grand Canyon does not.  And since our bodies were still used to CST, we were able to easily be up, breakfasted, and out of the hotel by 7 am, bringing us to the Grand Canyon by 11 am–or 10 local time.  All this to say–if you can’t get a hotel close by, don’t despair! Continue reading

Experiential Science: Weather

My kids wanted to learn all about weather, so I cobbled together several resources to make a unit.  You may notice that we watch a lot of videos in this unit.  Not only are videos an engaging way of presenting some of the more abstract concepts related to weather (like air pressure and air currents), but my kids are thoroughly excited about watching videos related to anything at all lately, so any video I found was a win.  I tried to find a video or three (almost all short ones!) to go with each topic, but also a hands-on activity for every topic, as well.  Hopefully you’ll find plenty of fodder for exploring weather, whether you are a video-lover or not.

Much of my unit was based on this 3rd grade unit from the Williams College website, though I adapted the activities for home use.

We started our science unit by talking about water.  Since 71% of the earth is covered by water, it has a big impact on weather.  To emphasize just how much water there is on the earth, we used our big inflatable globe and tossed it from person to person, tallying how often the tip of our right thumb hit land and how often it was in water when we caught the globe.  Sure enough, we had seven “land” tallies and 18 “water” tallies. Continue reading

5 Ways Your Kids Are Learning While Playing Video Games

I married a gamer.  Since gaming is ‘Love’s hobby, it’s something the kids have always been interested in, and it’s been a natural activity for them to bond over.  Unfortunately, I feel as if I’m constantly apologizing for the fact that my kids spend an hour most days taking turns playing computer or console games with Daddy.

I’ve decided that the time for apologizing is over.  While there’s always a chance that they’re picking up negative habits or beliefs from slaying pixelated zombies or conglomerate monster-things (and we are pretty careful about the types of games we expose our kids to–though interestingly enough no one seems to think we should abandon Bible reading when the kids role play David killing Goliath or Solomon threatening to cut the head off the baby to determine its true mother), the more I’ve watched and listened to them gaming with Daddy, the more I’m convinced that gaming, like most other hobbies, has many benefits.

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9 Book Series for Your Fairy-Loving Kid

fairybooksHave a fairy-loving kid on your hands?  Since I have spent several months of near-constant scrambling, trying to find things my daughter would enjoy reading, I figured I’d log what I found in the hope that it helps someone else.  I found five fairy-themed chapter book series and four series that involved enough magic to make up for the lack of fairies.  These range from late-second to fourth grade reading level and include occasional pictures, since my visual kid loves illustrations.  Several of them also feature a nice, big font, for those intimidated by small, crowded type. Continue reading