The Beauty of Creativity and Imagination

Below are the experiences that ECE students, Melissa and Kelly, observed during the Igniting Inquiries Workshop.

On Tuesday, July 4, Fanshawe College ECE students demonstrated their ability to create various spaces that allowed children to feel empowered, creative and imaginative. Children were encouraged to explore the centres both inside and out.  Centres ranged from music, science, construction, dramatic play, sensory, and more!  Throughout the day, learning was evident as the children engaged in the centres that interested them.

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N (ch) explored the sensory table.  He immediately grabbed the cookie cutter and pushed it into the playdough.  (July 4, 2017 at Fanshawe College).

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N (ch) constructed this tower.  He was focused on painting it exactly how he wanted.  He then added googly eyes.  N (ch) said “I liked building my tower.  Look at what I did.  I painted one side blue and put polka dots on the other side!”. (July 4, 2017 at Fanshawe College).

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A (ch) grabbed the drum sticks and started banging on the pots on the music wall. A (ch) tried his drum sticks on the different sized pots and said “This ones sounds different because it’s smaller”.  D (ch) joined him with the stove covers and said “Look, cymbals.  I’m that monkey toy that bangs the cymbals together and walks around!”.  He then marched around the tree. (July 4, 2017 at Fanshawe College).

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T (ch) exclaimed “I’m looking for birds!” (July 4, 2017 at Fanshawe College).

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These 2 girls were exploring and identifying bugs.  They discovered ants and compared their findings to the chart provided. (July 4, 2017 at Fanshawe College).

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The children discovered an ant hill. Ms. Marie (t) said “Wow look at that!  Look how big that ant is!”.  The child put her magnifying glass above the ant hill. (July 4, 2017 at Fanshawe College).

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A (ch) took a small stick and tried to get the ant on the stick, showing her fine motor skills.  She had already placed an acorn and a rock in her bug catcher. (July 4, 2017 at Fanshawe College).

From Working Mom to Student Mom

For the past 9 months I’ve been a full time student in the ECE Accelerated program at Fanshawe.  I can’t even begin to tell you everything I’ve learned.  But stay tuned if you want to see some samples of what I’ve been up to!

Oh My Stars!

We have a problem. The boys are 5 and most days I feel like I’ve lost control.  The house is a disaster.  The laundry pile is never-ending. Someone forgot to tell me that having 5 year olds meant I wasn’t allowed to have liquid soap (*don’t worry Mommy, we refilled it using water!).  I repeat myself 12 times…to each child!  They fight.  They scream.  They argue.  They whine.  They cry.  They push each other’s buttons.  Everyone needs to be first, everyone needs to be right and everyone needs the “right” colour cup or the “right” spoon.  It’s always someone else’s fault.  Oh and apparently I always make them do ALL the work ALL the time!

I know you’re probably  thinking that this all sounds like normal 5 year old behaviour.  It is but with 3 of them in the house, every one of these behaviours seems magnified.  When there are children of different ages in the household, the result is different expectations based on age and understanding.  When all the children are the same age, things get more complicated.  I expect them to all be capable of the same things.  But you know what?  They’re all different.  They act out differently, they comprehend differently, they learn differently, they understand at different levels.  I have a new-found respect for Kindergarten teachers!  One difference between a kindergarten teacher and myself is that teachers are given a curriculum or guidelines to teach within.  I’m just winging it here, every day, flying by the seat of my pants!

The beginning of this post I stated that we have a problem.  If I had to narrow the list of behaviours down to 1 single problem, it’s this.  They don’t listen.  I repeat the same words over and over and over and over…It’s exhausting.  Be nice.  Be respectful.  Use your words.  Listen to each other when he’s talking.  Treat him the same way you want to be treated.  Stop running.  Stop fighting.  No hitting, no kicking, no pushing, no punching, no pinching.  Leave him alone.  Don’t touch him. Don’t take his toys.  I could easily say all of this in a span of a couple hours…several times.

The other day I hit a wall.  After dumping the bucket of lego and using said bucket to whack his brother over the head, I’d had enough.  I marched up to their bedroom and told them to all get out before someone got hurt.  They left and I proceeded to gather up all the lego.
Alex, standing in the doorway, says “what are you doing Mommy?”.
“I’m putting your lego far far way so you can’t play with it anymore!”.
“for how long?”
“I don’t know.”
“how about until Easter”.  This last statement was said with a little bit too much enthusiasm.  Did he really understand what he was saying?  That Easter was a month away?  I replied with a simple “maybe”.  I then told them to all go downstairs and sit at the table until I told them to get up.  In the meantime Eric came home and was thrust into the middle of this whole process.  I put the lego up on the highest shelf and said to Eric.  “I don’t know what do anymore”.  We talked about them not listening, about punishments not working etc.  We went downstairs and told them to all stand in a corner until we figured out what to do with them.  In the end, they spent probably a half hour at the table & in the corner and Eric had a chat with them about listening.  Unfortunately the following day we were dealing with much of the same behaviour.  Bed time in particular was getting out of control.  Remember when you were a kid and you’d have a sleep over with a friend.  Talking after your mom put you to bed was a must!  Every night is like a sleep over.  Nothing was working to get them to understand that lights out meant it was time to sleep.  Often times 45 minutes to an hour would pass before they’d finally quiet down and fall asleep.  And we would march up to their room countless times, every night.

So by now you’re probably wondering where this is all headed.  This is not a blog post to simply complain.  We’ve had a chore chart up for a while, which worked at first but had lost it’s appeal and became something we all over-looked.  Out with the old and in with the new.  Instead of a chore chart, I’ve created a chart that will earn them stars.  Each day there are certain things I expect them to do.  In the morning I want them to: put their pj’s away, clear their cereal bowl, and brush their teeth.  In the afternoon/evening I want them to: hang up their coats & backpacks, clear the supper dishes, tidy their toys before bed, put dirty laundry away, and brush their teeth.  Each day they can choose 1 chore to earn an extra star.  And they’ll get a star for being quiet at bed time.   By earning stars they’ll get simple rewards.  10 stars means I’ll include cookies in their school lunch (I don’t put cookies in their lunch ever because we’re encouraged to only send healthy options).  Earning 4 stars for 4 days will result in a special 1-on-1 outing with either Mom or Dad.  And that’s it.  That’s what they’re working towards and they’re super excited about it.   They can also lose their stars.  Behaviours that lose a star are: fighting, screaming, not listening, mis-behaving in public, and lying.
Fingers crossed that this is a behaviour-changing time for us.  This whole parenting of siblings is new to us and we’re still figuring it out!

Treading Water

When the kids outnumber the adults by 2 to 1, it’s only a matter of time before we begin to feel like we’re treading water.  Between work schedules (I’ve been working part time for 8 months now), sports schedule, school schedule, church schedule, cleaning schedule, laundry schedule, grocery and menu schedules…I’m on schedule-overload!!!

Time to call in the troops.  Just over a month ago I began a chore chart for the boys.  I figured it was best to ease into something like this.  The little boys, who are 4, are in the eager-to-help stage, the 11 year old wonders why he has to do it all.  Balance was going to be key here.  Having 3 of them the same age and coming up with enough chores for them in order to be helpful was challenging.

I began with simple chores for the little ones.  These included things like making their beds, putting their lunch box on the counter after school and putting their dirty laundry in the hamper.  While these are not big things, they are now things I do not have to do.   They are also required to pick up the toy room and clear the table.  These are things they do together.  As individuals they all take turns tidying up specific items; for example: legos, colouring stuff, and books.  These last 3 chores are things that I find they make the most mess with on any given day.  I used a simple spreadsheet and clip art to design and print the charts so that I could easily adapt them as the boys became more capable.

For the oldest boy.  I knew I’d get some resistance.  He’s a good kid and usually does whatever I ask him to do without complaint (usually).  My thoughts behind the chore chart (and this had to be explained to him a couple times) was that I wouldn’t have to ask specifically or randomly any more.  His chores include a lot of expected things like: shower every day, brush your teeth and do your homework.  He’s also responsible for doing the supper dishes every day in addition to watering the plants, a little bit of vacuuming, and emptying the recycle bin.  I also expect him to keep his bedroom tidy.  There’s room for improvement here but I believe progress is being made.

I’d be lying if I said that everything got done every day.  We’re still working on consistency but overall I call the chore chart a success.  I may have let some things slide for too long with my oldest son but the younger ones will grow up knowing that we all participate in the mess so we all participate in the clean up.Mom is NOT the Maid Chore Chart

Seeing the light

The end of an era is near.  We’ve been totally consumed by the task of raising multiples for the past 44 months or the past 1,341 days (minus the very few that we managed to get away without the children)!!!  In 29 hours they will walk to school for their first day of Junior Kindergarten.  I am both ecstatic and saddened by this very fact.  There is much I’m looking forward to.  I know there are many people out there that will assure me that some day I’ll miss the noise, the toys, the commotion etc.  I am not naive.  I know that these days go by too quickly and that before I know it I’ll be dropping them off at university.  But for now, while I’m in the midst of chaos and seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, there are certain things that I haven’t experienced in quite a while.

For example, a quiet house during the day.  We caught a glimpse last May & June when the little boys were in daycare and the oldest was still in school.  It’s eerie and wonderful.  Also, tidying a room and when returning finding it exactly like I left it!!  My boys make me feel like I live in a whirlwind.  My own schedule.  Aside from getting them out the door for school and watching the clock for the end of the school day, the 7 hours in between will be mine.  I won’t need to think about snack time, I can eat lunch when I’m ready, run out for errands at any time etc.  The opportunity to simply Go for a Walk.  I think the idea of going for a walk, whether it’s up town to get the mail or simply around the neighbourhood, sounds simply luxurious!!  I remember what it’s like and I’ve missed it.  Making phone calls without instant screaming.  I seriously think that kids come with a built in trigger that flips when they hear the sound of the phone either ringing or being dialed!!  I am ready for a break.  A break from whining, crying, complaining, questioning, teaching, and fulfilling needs 24/7.  I LOVE my boys, of course I do!  I just need a break.  I need to know someone else is looking after them for a while and teaching them important lessons for life.  I can’t wait to hear what they “learned today” at school!  I give a LOT of credit to their teachers for taking on 20 students between the age of 3 1/2-5.  But guess what?  They get to go home at the end of the day, they get to have a break and recoup to get ready for the next 7 hours stretch that they’ll submerse themselves in the world of preschoolers.  So for all of those reasons I’m ecstatic.  I’m eagerly counting down the days, the hours.  It helps that they’re excited for school!!

But I’m also saddened by the thought that they’re even old enough for school.  They’re not, are they?!  School is for big kids.  They think they’re big, and they are in many ways.  We’ve spent the last 3 1/2 years getting them to this point.  Teaching them how to be independent, how to think & do things for themselves.  But they’re my babies and I’m overwhelmed by the fact that this is the last time we’ll have a very 1st Day of School.  I want to push them through the door and close it so they can’t follow me out and I want to hug them so tight and never let them go.  They’re excited and ready and I know on Friday I’ll hear “Bye Mom!” as they run to make new friends.  I would rather have that than the alternative (crying & clinging and not letting go).  But they’re my babies, they need me and they can’t possibly be old enough or big enough for school.  I love them so much and thank God for giving them to us.  I’m also grateful to God for carrying us through and giving us the strength to make it this far.

Onward and upwards for the next chapter!!  Every stage is an adventure!  The excitement and apprehension will soon diminish and this will simply be what life is like and we’ll look forward to the next stage.  All the while looking back at what we’ve accomplished and wondering how in the world we did that day after day!!

From Babies to Little People

Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed a transformation happening right before my very eyes.  My Babies turned into Little People.  Ever since we declared our victory over the diaper-era, I’ve noticed how BIG the boys are getting.

Here are a few examples.

1)  When we leave the house we say things like “get your shoes on”…and they do (for the most part, sometimes they act like they need help).  And then they all walk out to the van and climb in their carseats.  AND all I carry out is my purse, no diaper bag!!!

2)  “Mom” (not Mommy) “Can I go play outside?” The resounding answer is “YES”!!!  I may leave the door open so I can hear what’s going on but I don’t need to sit out there and watch their every move.  It’s a little taste of freedom.  They’re happy because they’re outside and I’m happy because I’m still getting inside things done!!  Along with this one is me calling out from the kitchen window “Boys, it’s time for dinner”.  How many times will I call out the window like this in the years to come?

3)  The boys are learning that there are different days of the week and that each day could mean something different.  So now I get questioned “What day is tomorrow? What does that mean?”.  They’re looking for whether it’s a home day, a daycare day, church day, daddy’s at work or at home etc.

4)  There’s more “I can do it” and less “I can’t” when it comes to getting dressed, putting shoes on & off, putting backpacks on & off, etc.

5) “Mom, watch me”, “Mom check this out”, “Did you see that Mom?”  Hearing these phrases still blow me away, how did they get this big?

Of course not every phase they are in is pleasant.  For example

6) “He’s touching me”…I’ve been dreading this one.  Along the same lines is the full blown wrestling that I’ve seen on occasion.

7) A constant whine & crying when things don’t go their way, which seems like all the time b/c there are 3 of them.  I’m quite tired of the whining and have started saying “I can’t hear you when you whine”.  Surprisingly they  know how to change their voice tone and talk nicely.

8) They’ve begun helping themselves to snacks.  Which means they are constantly eating.  I don’t even want to think about when they’re all teenagers and are always hungry.  Right now at least they’re helping themselves to apples or bananas, sometimes granola bars.  The problem is that my food is disappearing which means my carefully planned out menu/grocery bill isn’t making the cut any longer.

We’re getting ready to send the boys to school full time in September.  I have mixed feelings.  I’ve submersed myself into the constant chaos of raising triplets plus one for the last 3 1/2 years so I’m ready for a break.  But they’re my babies and they’re still so little yet, how can they be going to school?

Potty Training Multiples 101: Mission Complete!!!

It is with great excitement and a huge sigh of relief to be able to say that this household is “OFFICIALLY DONE DIAPERS”.  We’ve kicked the diaper habit to the curb!!!  I gave away my change table.  It’s gone and my hallway feels so spacious!  It’s been 6 months since we began this potty training adventure!

We did it!  We survived potty training triplet boys!!  We begin a whole new adventure of “sword wars” and “mom I peed on the floor”.  I better stock up on paper towels now!

Near the end of March my parents came to visit for a week.  While on the phone with my mom before they came she announced she was going to potty train Darren.  Umm, OKAY!!  Go for it!!!  So she did.  She threw cheerios in the toilet and he took aim!  It worked.  By the time they left Darren was well on his way to being daytime trained.  But when they went home, he regressed.  After a couple frustrating days I did the unthinkable and put him back in diapers.  2 days later I tried the underwear/peeing in the toilet thing again–this time he got it and we haven’t looked back!  Unfortunately he was only getting #1 in the toilet and #2 in his underwear.  This went on for 2 months!!!  We told him that as soon as he pooped in the toilet he could wear underwear to bed.

At the end of May my ‘hands on husband’ says “I feel like we’re waiting for Darren to finish before we even start with Mark”.  He was right.  Ugh.  I hate potty training and just did 2 kids, back to back!!  This is one of those time where having multiples truly is a LOT different than singletons (even close together).  Most people get like a year break in between potty training their kids!  Okay, fine we’ll give it a shot.  The next day was Sunday so after church we put Mark in underwear.  He peed his pants all afternoon.  By the end of the day he was quite distraught by the immediate wet feeling.  Progress.  Diaper to bed.  Monday: daycare day.  I packed 10 pairs of pants & underwear and several plastic bags.  At drop off I told his teacher, “we’re potty training”.  She says “okay, cool”.  You know what?  Mark did not have 1 SINGLE ACCIDENT all day at daycare!!!  My jaw hit the floor when his teacher told me.  Tuesday, no accidents.  Wednesday, no accidents.  WHAT?  Whoa, wait a minute, did this kid just train in a day???  YUP!  Apparently he was just waiting for us to decide to give it a shot.  What a good boy!  AND he’s dry at night too.

Okay, back to Darren.  What’s gonna work?  Bribery.  I’ll give you chocolate chips if you poop in the toilet.  He liked the idea but not enough to make it happen.  What happens if I make it unpleasant?  Darren came to me, with poopy underwear, so I sat him on a chair for a couple minutes before cleaning him up.  We had a conversation that goes like this:

Me: Darren do you like pooping in your underwear?
Darren: yes
Me: Do you like sitting in poopy underwear?
Darren: yes
Me: (muddled under my breath) Crap.
Well that backfired!  So I took him up to a cool bath & washed his bum with cold water.  He screamed and told me he did not like the cold.  Light bulb moment.  Over the course of probably a couple weeks he went back & forth between success & cool baths to wash the “yucky” off.  And then one day it happened.  He did it.  And the next day, and the next…Umm, YAY!!  1 accident in a whole week.  Now he wears underwear to bed and tells everyone he sees that he “poops in the toilet”!!  We even ran out of chocolate chips and he stopped asking after a couple days.

So there you have it.  How do you potty train multiples?  Start with one.  Use bribery.  Wait long enough.  Wash with cold water.  Pretty much every thing you’d do with one, you’ll do with multiples because deep down they don’t know what it means to be multiples.  They are simply individual kids with individual needs and timelines for learning.