Monday, December 29, 2014

Tablets + Limits = Okay by us

After doing some research to on various tablets and selecting a set that made the most sense, our kids now own Kindles (actually purchased as Christmas gift by my parents).  We are still aware that reading actual books with the kids and playing outside and building and creating are all better activities for our family than playing on electronic devices.  We have read various articles on both sides of the issue and have discussed the points they raise.  We came to the conclusion that raising our kids in a healthy manner involves an exposure to variety of experiences in moderation, including electronics.


Leading up to this choice we have seen Michael and Sophie take a stronger interest in our phones and computers over the last year or so.  At their child care center they have a classroom tablet on which they practice writing letters and watch short videos as part of different lessons.  We have downloaded similar apps and some that are mostly for fun, like a Lightning McQueen racing game, and have found our phones to be pretty harmless and admittedly convenient distractions at times.  We have rules for ourselves (no phones at the table, for example) and believe with similar limits and guidance, these electronics will be useful tools for our kids.

The tablets we chose are the Kindle Fire Kids Edition which means they include kid-proof cases, a two-year worry free plan, and thousands of kids' books, games, apps, and videos already loaded as part of one year of Freetime Unlimited.  Of course "kid appropriate" is a pretty subjective concept, and our rules for the tablets include letting us know what they are doing on their tablets and asking to change apps.  Daniel Tiger?  Sure, Buddy.  Spongebob?  Pick another, Sweetheart.

The Kindles also have parental controls including time limits for Freetime.  Right now Michael and Sophie get 30 minutes of tablet time a day, and only 15 minutes of that can be videos.  When that time is up, or when 6:30 PM rolls around, the Kindles lock them out.  The time limits are working out pretty well with minor frustration for the kids, which I believe is an important part of the learning experience. We haven't had the Kindles long enough to say that we are certainly thrilled with them, but I believe we will be.

Now, I  must get off this laptop.  Better set a good example!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cookie Day

The first thing Sophie said today was, "Is today cookie day?"  When I told her it was, she said in a soft, whimsical voice, "Oh, it's finally here!"

Clearly she (and Michael) had been looking forward to this time to bake cookies here at home with my mom and me.  My mom made some traditional cookies over the last few days at her house, ones that aren't super fun for kids to make.  Today we made gingerbread and sugar cookies.

Cookie Day-2

Back on Thanksgiving the kids enjoyed making whipped cream with their Grammie using our Kitchen Aid mixer, "startling" Grammie every time they turned it on and off, a game that led to serious belly laughs for everyone.  The next day they said it was one of the best parts of that day.

Cookie Day-3

Cookie Day-4

Cookie Day-5

Maybe next year we'll try the traditional cookies as well, but this time around I knew frosting and sprinkles were what these two had in mind.

Cookie Day-6

I hope Santa is in the mood for sugar when he drops by tomorrow night!

We would all love to make this day before Christmas Eve cookie day every year.  Now that my mom is retired, she has a little more free time around the holidays, and it was nice to take advantage of that.

Mike, the kids, and I ended the day by taking some treats (not the cookies that are pictured--some that look less like Christmas shaped kiddo germs) to our neighbors and going for a walk on a balmy 40 degree evening.  That also felt like a tradition in the making and hopefully a bridge to getting to know our neighbors better.

Friday, December 12, 2014


I took a day off today partly because Sophie had a rockin' fever yesterday (she's good today).  I also just needed one of those days with the kiddos when we hang out in pajamas while the rest of the world goes on out there.  We'll have more of these over Christmas, of course, but there's nothing quite like playing hooky.  With kindergarten coming next year, I know these opportunities are numbered.

This morning we watched Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, made and played with peppermint play dough, and right now the kids are practicing writing letters in some dollar store Disney workbooks.  They're really into that kind of thing lately.

Before all of that, however, we had a rocky start to the morning.  Long story short, we were all up at 5 A.M.  In order to drink my coffee in relative peace and get over the fact that I would not be sleeping in at all, I gladly obliged when the kids asked to go take pictures with my phone.  They haven't really taken pictures before, so I was pretty impressed with what they captured.

December 12, 5:17 A.M.

PicMonkey Collage

Don't you love the one from behind Ginger?  Who's scouting whom now, little elf?  And kitty's ear (at least he got to snooze a bit).  And the feet.  And the portraits of each other.  All that cuteness really helped the coffee kick in quickly.

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