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Appetite vs. Hunger

I fear being hungry. I am not talking starving--just normal hunger that a normal person will feel when it is time for the next meal of the day. 

I didn't used to be that way, but pregnancy and nursing did something to me. In August of 2004, I got pregnant for the first time. That pregnancy was a very, very rough one. I threw up (sorry) several times each day and each night. I woke in the night to go throw up. For 8 months (started a bit into the pregnancy). The last time I threw up was two hours before Brayden was born. I learned during that pregnancy that hunger=puking.

Then the nursing began. If I didn't eat constantly, I began shaking uncontrollably. 

The cycle repeated with a pregnancy followed by a year of nursing until the end of March 2010.

It took me a few months after weaning McKenna to realize I feared hunger. Any sign of hunger sent me to the kitchen. I knew why, and I knew I was justified. But I also knew I had no reason to fear feeling a bit hungry anymore. I still have to fight myself on it and remind myself that being hungry an hour before dinner time is okay. 

Hunger in your children is also a fear of many parents. We worry and worry that the child is not getting enough to eat. We report to our husbands the number of bites our toddler took during the day while he was at work. We are concerned. Concerned enough that we modify menus and can find ourselves letting our kids eat throughout the day and eat things we wouldn't prefer them eat.

On Becoming Toddlerwise (affiliate link) talks about Appetite vs. Hunger (page 144). The authors define appetite basically as something you want and hunger as something you need.

The dictionary (Oxford American), doesn't make a clear distinction between the two. Appetite is defined as "a natural desire to satisfy a bodily need, esp. for food." Hunger is defined as "a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by a lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat."

No matter the semantics, I like the point made in Toddlerwise. Sometimes, people want food just because it looks good, tastes good, smells good, etc. Not because we need it--just because we want it. That is different from satisfying our need for nourishment. I always say I have a separate dessert stomach; no matter how full I am, I can somehow always fit that dessert in there.

In my experience, children are far better at eating to fulfill true hunger rather than simply desire than I am. They eat the amount they need to. No more, no less.

But that doesn't mean they always want to eat what is good for them or that they won't want to eat a cupcake halfway between normal mealtimes if they see one. 

The problem with satisfying the desire for foods (like a cookie at 10 AM) is that you lead your child down the road to picky eating. Even if you give healthy foods constantly, you will create a situation where your child isn't hungry at meal times and therefore won't be hungry enough to be willing to try what the family is eating. 

So  you have your normal meal times. You have snack times when you see your child needs it. But you don't give your child food 30 minutes before mealtime consistently. You know the phrase, "You will spoil your dinner!" 

Sometimes, kids get hungry before dinner is done. My kids get like that. With the older two, I tell them they can wait. 30 minutes is not a hard thing for a 5 or 3 year old. Although, I will say, Kaitlyn sometimes does not function well on low blood sugar, so sometimes she gets food if I see a need coming up. 

With McKenna, I first try to distract her with something fun to do to see if I can get her to wait until dinner is ready. If not, I give her fruits and veggies--food I know I am happy with her eating. Last night, for example, I gave her some frozen peas (she loves frozen peas). 

When my older kids randomly ask for food and it is not close to a meal, I ask them what they are interested in. It is usually some sort of cookie or sweet treat. I offer them something like a banana instead, and they usually decline that. They aren't hungry--they are just desiring to eat. 

So it is not about making children be hungry and you don't need to be stuck behind a rule of no eating unless it is a regularly scheduled mealtime. It is about making sure you don't spoil your children's appetites with snacks and making sure they are ready for a meal so they are willing to eat the meal. 

Next time we visit Toddlerwise, we will discuss picky eaters.

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Locks of Love

Every quarter, I like to talk about something we can do to give back to our communities or people in general. This quarter, I am talking about Locks of Love.

I really like my hair. My hair and my eyes have been my favorite features of myself for as long as I can remember having a favorite feature. My hair has its issues, but overall, it is thick, curls well, has natural curl, and great natural body. I even once got a "Great Hair Award" in college (Holla Natalie!).

I always had rather long hair--it makes sense right? If you like it, keep a lot of it! I remember when I first heard of Locks of Love and thought, essentially, "Wow, that is really nice. I could never do that." 

One day, about four years ago, an 8 or 9 year old girl came to church with her hair super short. I found out she had donated her hair to Locks of Love. It got me thinking. If she can do it, I should do it. I should be less selfish than an 8 year old. 

And I did it! I chopped my hair off when Kaitlyn was six months old. I packaged it up and sent it off to Locks of Love. The photo above is actually me. How did I feel? Of course I felt happy! How did my hair fair? Well, guess what, it grew back! Then when McKenna was two months old, I chopped it off and did it all over again. I imagine I will continue that cycle. 

So what is Locks of Love? You can check it out at their website: for full details. In short, they are a non-profit organization that has no political or religious affiliations. They give hair prosthetics to children under the age of 21 who have long-term hair loss for whatever reason.

There are several ways you can help Locks of Love. The first and most obvious is donate hair. Guidelines:
  • Hair can be color treated
  • Hair can be permed
  • Hair can have been cut off years ago so long as it has been stored in a ponytail or braid
  • Hair can NOT be bleached
  • Hair can be layered so long as the longest layer is 10 inches
  • Hair needs to be measured at least 10 inches from tip to tip--curly hair can be pulled straight to measure
  • Hair needs to be in a pony tail or braid. It cannot be swept off the floor or shaved off the head. It needs to be in a pony tail and cut above the elastic

You know what is sweet? Locks of Love estimates that 80% of the donations they receive are from children who want to help other children. 

You can also volunteer. If you live in Florida, you can donate time to the facility. If not, you can become a participating salon or host a Locks of Love event. See the website for more details on volunteering.

You can also contribute financially. 

You can see cute donor photos here:

And cute recipient photos here:

Locks of Love is a great organization helping kids to have hair! They are giving me nothing for writing this and don't even know I am writing it. 

Another hair-donating group I know about is Pantene Beautiful Lengths. These donations go to making wigs for women with cancer. Requirements are similar, though the length is 8 inches instead of 10. See their website for more information.

And please, share your stories and photos of your own hair-donating experiences! Also, if you know of any other reputable hair-donating groups for great causes, please share that as well!

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CSN Gift Card Winner!

The winner of the $65 gift card is...

McKinsey Family!


You have one week to email me at or another winner will be chosen.

Brayden Child Summary: 5.75 Years Old

This is a summary for Brayden from ages 5.5-5.75 years old.

Every so often, Brayden goes through this sleep battle at night. This is when he thinks he needs to get out of bed several times each night before going to sleep. We encountered that battle during January.

It was frustrating and he had no good reasons for getting out of bed. He just did--over and over. He would do it so that he was still awake around 9 PM on a school night, then be tired in the morning when it was time to get up.

We tried taking things away, and finally decided that rather than focus on negative consequences, we needed to focus on positive consequences. So, like Kaitlyn, we did a chart for staying in bed. Each morning, he put a sticker on the chart if he stayed in his bed. After five nights in a row, he could go out for ice cream.

It took him two weeks to get there, but he did it. He would have four days in a row, then get up. Since then, he has been great, but if past behavior is any indication of future behavior, I am sure we will encounter this issue again.

He does great for rest time. Every so often, he will sleep, must 95% of the time, it is simply rest time. We do it daily with the rare exception of missing it.

Eating is good with no new developments.

Things are going well with siblings. McKenna adores him and says his name "Baduh"--which sounds like she is saying "brother." He is really good with her. 

I decided Brayden and Kaitlyn are twins separated by birth. They just love each other and get along so well. Yes, they have their bickering moments, but so far, the things they say when mad are only as bad as "I am going to write your name down and cross it off."

School is going well. He is learning a lot and is a good kid. He is still doing really well academically.

School can be a great place for the child to really learn things you try to explain, especially on a social level. Brayden still thinks he knows everything, which is common for a Kindergartener and also common for an oldest child. 

One morning, I told him he was having issue with telling people they were "wrong." Most of the time, he thought someone was wrong because he wasn't fully listening. As soon as he "knew" what they were saying, he turned his listening off and started his talking (I know, most adults are that way, too :) ). I explained it to him and that people don't like to be around people who are always telling them they are wrong.

Later that day, at school, his friend told him he wasn't going to sit by him anymore. I am good friends with that child's mom, and we were talking and I told her. She is so great at teaching her kids to be nice, and later that day she had him over at our house with a picture and an apology. It was cute to see these little boys apologizing and accepting apologies--in a boy sort of way.

I suspected that Brayden had probably told his friend he was doing his math wrong. It was such perfect timing for his friend to say something like that to him if (like I suspect) Brayden was in deed telling him he was wrong. I explained that Brayden doesn't need to tell people they are right or wrong unless they ask if him. He has been better since that day, but I know (as an oldest child) this will be a challenge for him in the future. Sometimes, only our peers can put us in our place.

There is always some social lesson we are learning through school :)

Piano is still going really well. He is great about practicing and still loves it. He has graduated from his first level books and is now on the second level. 

We decided to do ice skating lessons this winter to both get physical exercise and to have something to look forward to about winter. Brayden started out very nervous and used a walker the first day. The second day, he was off the walker and moving better than I can! Kids are amazing; they learn things so quickly. By the end, he was gliding, jumping (slightly), and quite confident. 

Brayden is loving chapter books. We read quite a few Magic Treehouse books, then moved to the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series and are currently reading book one in Harry Potter.

Here is our weekday schedule:

7:00--get up. Read scripture stories. Shower. Get ready. Eat breakfast.
9:00--at school.
12:30--eat lunch. Then play with Kaitlyn.
2:00--Rest time.
3:00--independent playtime.
4:00--Piano Practice (sometimes we do piano before independent play)
4:20ish--Kaitlyn gets up and they play until dinner.
5:30--dinner. Then family time.
8:00--in bed

A few times a week, he will play with friends in the afternoon sometime. Other things we do include learning activities, SSR, and chores. I am sure there are others.

The Ever-Changing Child

The Parenting Breakthrough: Real-Life Plan to Teach Kids to Work, Save Money, and Be Truly Independent

"...not only am I coping with different kids, but they change every year and even minute by minute sometimes. It's like waking up every day and finding a new computer on your desk. How are you supposed to keep up with that?" The Parenting Breakthrough, page 7.

Chapter two in The Parenting Breakthrough is all about the importance of "why" and not just "how." I loved the way she put that: it's like waking up to find a new computer on your desk each day. 

Change is hard, right? Whenever a website redesigns, you will find people upset about it. This is especially true of social networking sites. The other day, I rearranged my living room, and while the kids were excited, my husband and neighbors were all resistant to it, and only accepting once I assured them it was a short-term change (I needed a change of scenery for winter). Change can be hard.

So no wonder we find the change in our children hard. Like the Baby Whisperer said, Just when you've got it, everything changes. That isn't easy, especially because A) The child, unlike a redesigned website or rearranged living room, doesn't stand still for several months. She will change again tomorrow and B) You are responsible for the well-being of this child. It isn't a matter of "accepting" the change--you need to work with the change. 

And this, my friends, is what brings us to my favorite point to reinforce to you over and over again.

Why, why, why.

You must learn why. You must figure out why you do things and what your ultimate goals are. You must learn the why and understand the theory behind what you are doing. Some say why is more important than how (I am with them). Others say why is as important as how (sometimes, how is important, but not always). But never does anyone say how is more important than why. 

You can't spend your time memorizing scenarios from parenting books. You just can't. The book can't cover it all for you, and you can't remember it all even if it did.

Understand the why.

Why, why, why.

*Note: I did realize, AFTER writing this post, that I wrote a post inspired by the first quote back in December--but it is a totally different post, so I decided to continue forward with this one.

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Work and Responsibility

Work, work, work. Does it seem like that is what you do most of the time? Yeah, I know it. Life is full of various kinds of work. Work to earn a living. Work for food. Work at raising children. Work at keeping a home. Work at I said, work, work, work.

But work is necessary, and work is good for us. Anyone religious likely has a belief in work; the commandment of "six days shalt thou labor" is a point for keeping the Sabbath holy, but also for laboring--for six days. Looking to examples in the scriptures, we see people who worked. 

Before I delve too deeply--I feel the need to first recognize that life isn't all about work--there should be play and leisure, also. Yes, we need to relax. Yes, we should recreate. But we shouldn't be idle. 

We are often looking for ways to make our work easier on ourselves, and I don't think that is inherently bad. Because of such thought, we have things like dishwashers, washing machines, and roombas. We can definitely become more efficient in our work. But not in order to turn to the television more often.

My feeling is that you readers are okay with and accepting of work in general, so I won't spend this time convincing you to be hard working. I think you already are. You are the type of people who accept your personal responsibility and are willing to put the work in to accomplish it. You don't expect anyone other than you to do things like raise your children. 

But I am sure many of you struggle with loving your work. Yes--loving. I am someone who is a bit odd and loves work, and I know I struggle with loving certain jobs. Jobs like folding laundry...oh folding laundry. I do not love doing that at all. What is a job you dislike greatly? Sweeping? Bathrooms? Poopy diapers? Dishes? Running errands?

How do we change our attitude so that we learn to love our work--even the monotonous and the mundane? I have five ideas, and perhaps you have some you can share of your own. I think this is something that will take time to accomplish, but hopefully we can make great improvements quickly and work toward loving our work.

1-Make it fun
"Work" is not another word for "boring." I think a trick to enjoying work is to making it fun for yourself. There are lots of ways to make it fun. Challenge yourself. Maybe you could time yourself to see how long it takes you or maybe you could challenge yourself to be done with a certain chore by 10 AM. 

Many of the tasks we so dread really don't take that long to do--when we put it off and think about how much we will dislike it, we really drag out the misery for longer than we need to :) But this post is not about shortening misery, it is about learning to love it, so let's keep thinking of that.

Something I love is music. When I put on music while I work, it makes it even that much more enjoyable for me. So think of something you enjoy and add that. Maybe you love to talk to your Mom. You could make doing the dishes time a time to call your mom. 

2-Be grateful
One friend I have said that when she feels like complaining about doing the dishes, she thinks about how grateful she is she has food to eat. That is a great perspective--rather than complaining I have so much laundry to fold, I should be grateful we have clothes to wear!

3-Keep end goal in mind
Sometimes having a goal can make you excited to do the work. Think about how nice it will be to have all of it clean and done. Keep the goal in mind and be excited for what you are going to accomplish.

4-Share the load
Even the heaviest load is lighter when two people share it rather than one. Enlist the help of people as appropriate. Spouse, children, friends...all depending on the "work" you are doing. 

5-Focus on the serving
Ultimately, I think number five is the thing that will get me to the point of loving the work I hate. There I said it. Hate. I have a story to illustrate:
"A traveler passed a stone quarry and saw three men working. He asked each man what he was doing. Each man's answer revealed a different attitude about the same job. "I am cutting stone," the first man answered. The second replied, "I am earning three gold pieces per day." The third man smiled and said, "I am helping to build a house of God."
Now, is folding laundry as grand as building a house of God? Definitely not in the eyes of the world. But I honestly think it can be in the eyes of God. The point of this story is the attitude of service when doing work. The third man viewed his work as a service to God. When I serve my family by folding laundry for them, I am serving God. "Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

No matter your spiritual beliefs, if you view your work as a service and display of love to your family, you will view it differently. Rather than a "chore" it is something to show love. Does the job change? No. Get easier? Not physically. But the chore was never hard physically in the first place. It is a mental issue, so that is where the change really needs to happen. Sure, a "folding laundry robot" would make that job easier, but the most realistic way for me to improve on that chore is to look at it as service and a way to show love.

So whether you are potty training, vacuuming, changing a diaper, balancing the budget, planning out your meals, weeding, cooking, wiping noses, etc.....view it as a display of love and an act of service, and hopefully some day, you can grow to love and cherish it rather than procrastinate and/or dread it.

Now I need to go fold laundry. Yay! (that was fake, but maybe in a few months, it will be sincere).

See also work ethic.

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Exercising With Kids

The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything

Charlotte and I met while I was in college. Since that time, she has gone on to do many wonderful things, including creating a popular exercise blog (The Great Fitness Experiment), writing parenting columns for Redbook and Yahoo!, and writing a book--among other things. 

Char is mother to five and wife to one. She is very witty and fun to read. To give you a taste of her writing, she wrote this post just for you on exercising as a parent. If you love it, be sure to check out her blog and her book, The Great Fitness Experiment. Ohh...psst...and at the end of the post, you might find a giveaway.


Sometimes when a man and a woman love each other, they make a baby. (I know you were confused; you're welcome.) Unfortunately that may be the last thing you do that actually makes sense. Babies, even before they make their grand entrance, turn every part of your life upside down. At no time is this more true than during that first year. Between the sleepless nights, extra trips to the pediatrician "and baby makes three" ...times the laundry, hitting the gym often falls to the bottom of the priority list. But you don't need a gym, fancy equipment or even a lot of time to get in a good sweat so here are some moves you can do at home with your little one.

The New Mommy (Or Daddy) Workout

1. The Pick-Up-The-Baby Squat. Being unable to hold himself up, your little bean lays around just like, yes, a sack of beans. But a sack of beans that gets heavier every single day. To prepare for this, do goblet squats. First pick a weight resembling your baby (in weight, not looks - if you have a baby that looks like a dumbbell you have bigger problems than stomach flab.) Then double it. (Do twins run in your family too?) Squat down, pick up weight gently off the floor and slooowwwly stand up. Squat back down, returning weight to floor. Once you've mastered that, swap out the dumbbell for your baby. That's one rep. Repeat 12-15 times, for 3 sets. Be sure to keep your weight in your heels and BOTH hands on the baby/weight. To add difficulty try to pick up dirty burp cloths off the floor with your toes.

2. The non-dominant arm curl. Are you right handed? Then your left bicep is probably bulked out like the Incredible Hulk in the episode where he candy stripes at the hospital nursery (they did that one, right?) because you are constantly holding your mini-me in your left arm so that you can get stuff done with your right arm. To prevent looking as lopsided as an Iranian election, start doing bicep curls on your non-dominant arm. Pick a weight as heavy as you can manage for 8-12 reps, 3 sets. To make it as realistic as possible, hold a carton of eggs in your other arm at the same time. If you end up with quiche, call CPS.

3. The colic lunge. New babies cry. Some of them cry a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Thankfully you can make lemonade out of your little lemon. Not only can you get quads of steel doing this move but you'll earn extra bonus points with your spouse for letting him or her get some sleep. First, plant your feet just wider than hip width apart in a sumo squat. Then holding your swaddled (the swaddle is key!) dumbbell/baby very tightly, lunge vigorously from side to side. This is not the time to be namby-pamby. When I say vigorously, I mean there is no such thing as too much motion to your baby. (Not to be confused with shaking your baby. For the love of Tiger Woods, never ever shake a baby.) Repeat for hours, any time anywhere. Ignore the evil looks from people who think you shouldn't be taking your newborn to the movies, much less lunging like a maniac in the aisle. You may be a parent but you're still a person and are therefore allowed by law to leave your house.

4. The chest press to throw up. Babies are masters of physics. They come out of the womb knowing that what goes up must come down and therefore anytime you hoist your little petard above your head, vomit is going to come raining down. Into your open mouth if you're really lucky. To prepare yourself for this eventuality, lay on your back holding a dumbbell in each hand. Press straight up. At the top of the movement have someone jump on your stomach and then drop a couple spoonfuls of cottage cheese on your face. Surprise is the key to honing your reflexes along with toning your pectorals. Repeat 8-12 reps for 3 sets.

5. Running away from your responsibilities cardio. At some point after your wee one is born, it will hit you how much work, time, money and sleep you are losing in this deal. You will want to pull a John Edwards. This is a bad plan. So the next best thing to running away is to simply run. For added resistance, put the baby in a jogging stroller and take him or her with you. Just make sure your music isn't turned up so loud you can't hear him or her cry. Start with 30 minutes a day 4 days a week, working up to daily sweat fests by the time the kid is old enough to make you have to stop and hold him over the biffy seat in the park for 20 minutes before he decides he's too cold to poop (hey it's a great move for your shoulders!).


You can win a copy of The Great Fitness Experiment! Leave a comment about how you work exercise into your day now that you are a parent. 

The winner will be chosen Saturday, March have until I pick the winner (via to enter!

Pre-Toddler Mealtime Expectations

The pre-toddler age range is typically the beginning of a stressful stretch of time when it comes to food and your child. Your little one has been eating finger foods at the table for several months and will basically try anything you put in front of her. You congratulate youself on a job well-done on creating such a good eater.

Then she turns one.

One day, your little one declares she is "all done" after taking fewer than five bites at a meal. You worry she is sick! You also might be facing sippy cup battles, worrying about milk intake, spoons, a sudden dislike of certain foods...

Fun right?

A huge relief can come if you know what to expect, so let's remind ourselves of some things to expect. If you know what's coming, you can better handle the changes that are coming.

Slower Growth Rate
Right around a year, most pre-toddlers slow their food intake significantly. Enough to scare you. Your baby was growing super fast, and at one year, that rate slows, as such, the food intake slows. What to Expect the Toddler Years (affiliate link) says, "If if your toddler continued consuming calories and gaining weight at the same rate sh did in her first year...she'd weigh as much as a fifth grader before reaching her second birthday" (page 14). This book also points out that in your child's first year of life, she gains as much weight as she does in the next four years combined.

That is why you can have children two years apart who are very close to the same size so far as weight and height go (like me).

So don't stress--a major decrease in food intake is all normal.

Another normal thing is for your toddler to not eat much at some meals and then eat more than you think should fit in the tummy at another meal. Sometimes they get on a "breakfast" kick, switch to a "lunch" kick...and sometimes they are random. They can go days living off of 10 bites per day, then suddenly eat a whole lot. 

One thing is for sure--do not expect your toddler to eat an equal portion at each meal of the day. 

Keep in mind nutrition is about averages (On Becoming Pre-Toddlerwise page 57--affiliate link). You might get all of your fruit servings for the day in one meal. I have even heard a nutritionist say you can think of it on a weekly basis rather than a daily basis. So you could get three days worth in one day.

See also:

CSN Store Giftcard Giveaway!

Spring is in the air! Okay, well, it is close to 60 degrees outside, but the weather man is muttering some hullabaloo about snow or something...

Even so, spring is in the air! And when spring is in the air, I get thinking about outside toys for the kids to play with. So when I was looking through the CSN stores, the backyard swing sets and other outdoor toys caught my interest. 

But if you are the winner of this week's giveaway of a $65.00 gift card from CSN stores, you can use it at any store you like! They seem to have a store for everything. Furniture, toys, home decor, baby, home improvement, shoes, office supplies...lots and lots of options!

I am sure you could use a free $65.00 right? 

So, let's enter!

For Your First Entry:

Become a follower of this blog. Then leave a comment. If you are already a follower (the thing where your cute face pops up with all the other cute faces of people following), comment telling me so.

Sample Entry
I am a follower!

For Your Second Entry:

"Like" this blog on Facebook. Once you have done so, come back and leave a comment saying you did so.

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I "like" Chronicles on Facebook!

For Your Third Entry:

"Like" CSN Stores on Facebook. Once you "like" it, comment saying so.

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I like it!

For Your Fourth Entry:
Follow CSN Stores on Twitter. Once you have done so, comment. Include your twitter ID.

Sample Entry
I am a follower! @valplowman

For Your Fifth Entry:
Go look around the CSN Stores sites. Comment on what you think you will get if you win.

Sample Entry
I think I will get a Radio Flyer Wagon! It is free shipping and 90.00--so it would only cost me 25!

For Your Sixth Entry:
Free entry just for reading entry long as you comment.

Sample Entry
I read entry six!

For Your Seventh Entry:
Follow me on Twitter. Once you have done so, come back and comment and include your Twitter ID. Already do? Comment saying so.

Sample Entry
I follow on Twitter! @valplowman

Entry Rules
  • Open to US and Canadian residents only.
  • You must leave a comment in order to have an entry.
  • You must leave a separate comment for each entry. This is not so I can get lots of comments--it is because it makes it a million times easier to choose a winner. It takes less time, and less time is good. Plus, it makes sure I don't miss an entry.
  • You don't have to do all seven entries...for example, if you just want to follow this blog, you can just do entry one.
  • One entry per comment.
  • Up to seven entries per person.
  • You must fulfill the rules of each entry for each entry to count. If I see the entry is not valid (did not meet entry requirements), I will disqualify your entry. Trust me, I check.
  • Entries will be accepted until 11:59 PM Friday, February 25 Mountain Standard Time.
  • The winner will be randomly selected at
  • The winner will be announced Saturday, February 26.
  • If you would like, you can add your email address to your entry. If you are the winner, I will email you to let you know. You do not need to add your email address in order to win. I understand not everyone wants to share their email addresses with the world. I will announce the winner on the blog, so you can check the blog Saturday to find out if you won.
  • Once the winner is announced, you will have one week to contact me or another winner will be chosen. Be sure to check back. The only thing worse than not winning is to win but not realize it in time!

Chiquita Banana Mom {WINNERS}

Our five winners are...

Kristin and Adam Salvia

Please email me at Include your mailing address. You have one week or another winner will be chosen. Congrats!

VAKT: Multisensory Method for Teaching

Here is another post from our literacy specialist, Sue. I found this post very interesting and helpful! I am sure you will love it, too!


VAKT stands for visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile. Visual is something we can see. For instance, we can see a visual image of the letter A written on a piece of paper. Auditory is something we can hear. An example of something auditory, is when we hear the sound that A produces when we say /a/ as in apple. Kinesthetic is anything that requires movement. Kinesthetic can be jumping jacks, turning the page of a book,
or writing the letter A on paper. Tactile is something we feel. We can feel with our fingers rough sand paper or we can feel the texture of the sidewalk as we write on it with sidewalk chalk.

When we introduce a new concept, letter sound, math number or fact, or sight word, it is best to do so using the VAKT method. The reason for this is that children will commit the new thing they are learning to their longer term memory fast and more efficiently if it is presented to them using several sensory avenues- visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile. Research has also shown that using a multisensory method with children who
have learning disorders will help develop literacy skills in reading, spelling, and writing more efficiently.

So how can you use the VAKT method with your child at home? I will give an example of what VAKT looks like when are you are teaching phonics.

You will want to use a method called Model, Trace, Copy, Memory. You will write the letter large. It is best to do this on a large piece of paper, chalk board, or white board.

MODEL: As your write the letter (visual) large, you will also say the sound of the letter at the same time (auditory). This is known as SOS, simultaneous oral sounding.

When I say large, what I mean is, large enough that you have to actively use your shoulder (rotater cuff) to move your arm up and down as you write the letter. This action is a gross motor activity.  I would say that if you wrote the letter at least two feet high, that should suffice. But don't feel limited to only writing something two feet high, feel free to write it even larger if you want. Get a large drawing pad or butter block paper for this activity if you want to use paper. Otherwise, chalkboard and white board do really well too.

TRACE: Have your child copy over top of your letter (kinesthetic & visual) while saying the sound at the same time (auditory), SOS. You may have to guide your child’s hand large.

COPY: During this step, your child has to write the letter on his or her own without tracing. You may still leave the model and trace letter visible for your child to see.

The child is to use SOS while writing and saying the letter orally (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile). If your child incorrectly writes the letter or produces the sound incorrectly, return to the model and trace steps. Continue to keep return to these steps until your child can produce the sound and written letter on his or her properly.

MEMORY: Cover or hide the letter from the model, trace, and copy step. Your child is asked to write the letter large from his own memory. He or she must use SOS while writing the letter (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile). If you child does not say the correct phonics sound or write the correct letter from, return to the model/ trace step again.

HANDWRITING SKILLS: The neat thing about this method of teaching phonics is that you are also addressing handwriting skills at the same time. Young children under the age of 5 may do better with using writing utensils such as their finger, paint brushes, chunky sidewalk chalk, and chunk crayons. Formal pencil holding and grip is usually not taught until 4-5 years of age.

Be creative. You don’t have to just teach on paper, white boards, or chalk boards. Think of doing it in sand, on the side walk, with paint brushes, in the bath tub, in clay, or any medium you can think of. Flash Light writing can be fun to. Try doing some SOS on a wall in the dark. Kids like variety, but don’t we all. The more modalities and mediums you use, the more senses you will utile and help to commit the skill to memory. But just remember, please write it LARGE!!!

The same can be done with learning the numbers and sight words. I have also used this method to teach basic math facts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.The best part of this method is, it works!


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