Gift Guide For 6-Year-Old Girls

My middle daughter’s birthday is this week, and I’ve been hunting on Amazon for a couple gifts. (100% Amazon Prime Mom)

My criteria are 1) it can’t have tiny pieces that I will find all over the house and 2) it can be used more than once.

Here are a few things I found and a couple at the bottom that my girls already have and love.

These are super cute and I know Brynlee would love dressing up in them:

Every little girl is obsessed with unicorns right now (or maybe just my girls?).

This lights up the whole room with multi-colored stars…

My kids love all things Play-Doh, Slime, and Kinetic Sand, and this falls right in that category!

Brynlee has been asking forever for a “tiny purse”. She loves to put things in bags, backpacks, and cases.

Drawing and coloring is a daily event in our house. This looks like a fun addition to all of our drawing supplies.

Unicorns and cotton candy…how can you go wrong?

The girls beg for these every time we see them in the store, and I always say no. Gift material!

The gifts below are items my girls have already received.

We have 3 mermaid tails, and this one has held up the best!

They love playing “salon” with these:

Both of my oldest girls have these. They like setting the alarm on it to wake up in the morning.

You can’t play “salon” without makeup!

 

Be sure to check out the gift guide for 8-year-old girls as well!

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Low Prep Math: Number Order

Skills

Number Order

Counting

Vocabulary: before, after

Materials

Deck of cards

First, I laid out the cards in order and she matched each card.

Next, I had her lay out the cards in order without laying them on top. She did use the previous line of card to help her.

She told me, “Let’s make it harder!” so I laid out 3 cards, and her job was to lay out the numbers that came before and after.

She did a really good job! 

Low-Prep Preschool: Letter Sounds

Since Breckyn is able to identify all of the letters, I thought it was time we moved on to sounds. She has been working on them at preschool, so she has a good head start on them already.

 

I had planned on writing the letters on the big white poster board. She was watching me make the boxes and asked if she could write them, so I thought why not??

I found that she is able to write all of her letters correctly except for a few.

That was enough work for one day, so the next we found things around the house that started with each letter.  Sometimes we searched for an object with a specific sound, and other times we found something and listened for the first sound.

This is all her attention span could handle the first day, so we left it up and worked on it the next.

Easy Burrito Bowls

I am always looking for meals that my kids will eat without complaining. Don’t get me wrong, they’re really good eaters and eat almost everything I cook.  But having 3 kids, the chances of at least one person not liking the meal are pretty high.

One of my girls doesn’t enjoy Mexican, so I was fully prepared for her to turn her nose up at these burrito bowls. Surprisingly, I was wrong…All 3 kids LOVED these! And they were super easy, so WIN-WIN for Mom!

Ingredients:

Brown Rice

Chicken Breasts

Seasoning of choice (I used cumin, chili powder, garlic salt, salt, and pepper)

Variety of mix-ins (avocado, black beans, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and sour cream)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in skillet. Season chicken. Place in skillet. Flip several times until cooked.
  2. Cook rice according to package directions.
  3. While chicken and rice are cooking, chop and prepare your mix-ins.
  4. Assemble bowl to liking.

My bowl:

The girls loved being able to choose their own ingredients.

Kid Approved!

They even asked for seconds!

How to Create A Workout Space At Home

You don’t need a gym membership, a fancy workout room, or a ton of equipment to work out at home. I had a gym membership once at Snap Fitness before I had kids, and again at a women’s only gym for about 6 months last year. Working out at home is so much more convenient for me for obvious reasons.  Below you will find my setup and the equipment that I use.

We have an unfinished basement, which is my workout space. I picked one of the rooms in the back of the basement. It has some toys in it, and it’s next to the room the girls play “school” in. The one next to that has a bunch of big furniture boxes they make forts with. These things keep them occupied while I work out!

Here is my little corner with all of my supplies….

These weights are my favorite Amazon purchase! They are the newest, updated version of the weights I used to have. I ordered them after one of the plates slipped out and broke my toe. More on that another time.  (Also: my yoga mat. However, I don’t use it much because we have carpet and rugs downstairs.)

Next to my weights is a small shelf. On top I keep the baby monitor and my weight progress sheet. I write down the exercise and how much I’m lifting so I make sure I’m trying to progress to a heavier weight. I will be sharing a downloadable version of it soon!

The next shelf has workout guides that I have purchased and printed off.

Below that is my bucket of extras – attachments for resistance bands and my loop bands. I use the loops bands to add difficulty to squats, side steps, etc.

On the bottom, I keep 2 extra plates from the old weight set and my kettlebell. Right now, I only have an 8 pounder, but I may upgrade soon! This one is good for swings, but it’s too light for rows, extensions, upright rows, etc.

A must for working out at home is resistance bands. You can do so many more exercises that are normally gym-based moves if you have a set of resistance bands. I have an attachment that I can put through the door to hold it, but I just loop it around one of the boards.

As for cardio – we DO have a 9-year-old elliptical – that has been broken for 4 years, so that’s not helping much. What I do is walk/run whenever it’s nice enough out and I have John home with the girls. I also do a lot of HIIT training – jumping jacks, high knees, burpees, plank jacks, and so on.

There you have it!  All of this equipment together cost about $350 – a year gym membership costs much more than that! It’s so worth it to me because I don’t have to drive there and back, leave my house when it’s cold, work around a group class schedule, or pay extra for child care. I can work out with the baby napping or playing near me. I can use this equipment anywhere that the kids are – I’ve taken it upstairs, outside, and the garage.

Don’t let not having a gym membership be an excuse for not working out!

14 Weird Things About PostPartum Recovery

When you’re pregnant, everyone tells you horror stories about pregnancy and labor. There isn’t much conversation about postpartum recovery, though. Sure, your best friend might mention a few things but not many people openly talk about the strange things that happen to your body after the baby is home with you.

You can get shingles.  I know you’re probably thinking Only old people get shingles, Megan, get real.”  Yeah, I thought that too.  I had shingles after not only one, but TWO of my children.

Breastfeeding can cause neck, back, and shoulder pain.  All that time stuck in the same position several times a day leads to some weird kinks and aches.

You might have to sit on a pillow. Tears and stitches, need I say more?

You will cry over stupid stuff.  My mom stayed with us for a few days after my firstborn, and they day she left I took a bath and bawled like a baby.  After my 4th child, my husband and I had a tiff about something small (I don’t even remember now), and I sat on the toilet and sobbed.

You will get very little sleep.  People definitely tell you this, but you don’t realize how little you get until you are feeding a baby around the clock.  Amazingly, you can be awake in an instant and be pretty functional the next day.

You will be leaky, very leaky.  Who knew your body could excrete fluids just from thinking about your baby??

You may wake up soaked in sweat the first couple of days after birth. After all 4 babies, I had night sweats and even had to change the sheets in the middle of the night!

You will still look pregnant. It varies per woman and number of pregnancies. After my fourth, I looked 5 months pregnant for a week and gradually less pregnant as the weeks went on.

Your ab muscles can separate. It’s called Diastatis Recti and you will need to do exercises to close the gap.

You will have a line down your stomach for a very long time. I’m 5 months postpartum and still have that dang brown line.

Your hair will fall out in clumps. This started for me right around 4 months postpartum. My hair was so full and didn’t shed much during pregnancy, but the handfuls of hair that I’m pulling out daily (okay, morning and night!) is disgusting!

You will be super hungry from breastfeeding….like, ravenous. I may have traveled to the kitchen several times after a 2am feeding to eat banana bread, Pop Tarts, monster cookies, and granola bars.

Most likely, the weight won’t “fall right off” from nursing.  You hear it all the time – women who weigh less than they did pre-pregnancy because of nursing. Or moms who shed the weight extremely fast and say it was due to breastfeeding.  Don’t be surprised if this doesn’t happen to you! With my first 3, I held on to the last 5 pounds until I quit nursing. With #4, the weight is holding on a looooot longer.

You’ll probably pee yourself. Avoid trampolines, jumping jacks, and sneezing at all costs.

Low-Prep Learning: Letter Dotting

Last week, we picked up a Bingo Dotter from the Dollar Tree.

I didn’t know what we would do with it at the time, but Breckyn picked it out of her learning box today so I had to come up with something quickly. Luckily, I have the best ideas when I’m forced to think of something last minute or spontaneously.

The first thing that came to mind was alphabet recognition.  I am not organized enough to print out those cute worksheets seen on Pinterest, so we went with handwritten letters.

All I did was tell her a letter and she dotted it.  Super simple, but she LOVED it! Look at that smile!

I chose lowercase letters because she’s got her capital letters down.

She wanted to do it again, but this time I wrote capital letters and had her dot the letters in her name, MOM, and DAD.

I was also thinking to do shapes with her and sight words with my Kindergartner.  How have you used bingo dotters with your little learner?

“What should I be doing to get my child ready for Kindergarten?”

Teachers are a lot like doctors and nurses.

When you have a weird rash or you feel like maybe you’re dying but don’t want to go into the doctor’s office, you ask your nurse/doctor friend for advice or put out a facebook post saying “Doctor and Nurse friends…?”

When you have a question like “Should my kid know how to add yet?” or “What’s with this Common Core crap?” (Yes, I have been asked that.) or “How can I get my child to read more?” you probably ask a teacher friend.

A few months ago, my friend asked me how she should be preparing her son for Kindergarten.

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Disclaimer: Kindergarten is an entirely different world from the rest of elementary and I do NOT and will not teach it!  God bless our K teachers and a big THANK YOU for preparing them for 1st grade so well!! However, I’ve had 2 Kindergarten daughters and have taught 1st/2nd grade for 12 years along with 4 years of college experience + 6 years of summer/after school jobs working with children. (That’s 22 years if you’re keeping track.)

After she asked, she said my blog needed to be up ASAP and I needed to address this.  She totally freaked me out because who am I to tell her what her child needs to know by Kindergarten??? Then I remembered the doctor/nurse thing.

So after much thought, I will be doing two things.

  1. Providing the list of pre-Kindergarten skills my 5-year-old’s teacher gave us.
  2. Start a blog series of what I’m doing with my 4-year-old this year before she starts Kindergarten – labeled Kindergarten Prep.

Pre-Kindergarten Skills:

*Number Recognition: counting to 30 and recognizing 0-10 randomly

*Letter Recognition: Identify both upper and lower case

*Write their name: First and last with correct capitalization and clear handwriting

*Belts & Buttons: Practice these things so they can be independent at school

*Listening to stories: Sit still and listen to a story, and be able to talk about the story

Remember: You can do these things (and more) in a natural way. 

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I never planned “lessons” for my kids because I’m not that organized. Their learning has been through natural, every day ways. We counted steps or objects when we were out and about, drew shapes while coloring, talked about the colors of Play-doh, rhymed silly words, thought of words that started with certain letters, play with dice, learn letters in fun ways, and do workbooks for fun. Most importantly, we read to them every night and talk about the pictures and story.

Also rememberEvery child is so different!

My oldest daughter could read sentences before Kindergarten, and my current Kindergartener can read a few 3-letter words.  The most important thing, in my opinion, is to instill a love of learning and school. As long as my kids are happy at school and enjoying learning, I am not concerned with them being above average learners.

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And, last thing to rememberSocial Skills

What’s more important than what your child knows is how he or she treats the teacher and classmates. Teach your child social skills of showing respect, listening, taking turns, accepting “no” for an answer, being polite, and taking responsibility for things and actions.

To see how I am preparing my 4-year-old for Kindergarten, look for the tag “Kindergarten Prep”.

Low-Prep Math: Dice and Chalk

I have to be honest. Many of the learning activities my kids do are usually thought up by them. This one was totally the 4-year-old’s idea!  She found some dice in the garage and said she wanted to roll it and write her numbers.

So that’s what we did!

My Kindergartener joined right in, and it was fun to see her teaching her little sister. They are 17 months apart so they are often learning very similar things.

Number 5 was difficult, so biggest sister had to get in there to help.

Breckyn had no idea how to make a few of the numbers, so I would write the number for her to trace.

What are some ways you use chalk for learning? We draw shapes, write letters, play hopscotch, and just draw!

Dollar Tree Halloween Finds

Can you believe it’s October already! My kids have been itching to decorate for Halloween since Walmart put out their costumes.  We have collected some decorations over the years, but I like to add a couple things each year.  Without breaking the bank or dipping into other areas of our budget.

So where does a Mom go who wants her kids to have memorable holidays but doesn’t want to spend a whole lot of money??

Dollar Tree, of course!! Everything is $1 so you already go in knowing how many things you can get.  While their stuff probably isn’t the BEST quality in the world, it will certainly do in a pinch.

Take a look at a few things my 4-year-old and I found….

We bought this banner to hang in our kitchen window.

These went in our basket, too!

Breckyn picked out Frankenstein to hang in the kitchen. 

 

There were some great options for a quick, cheap costume, too! Last year, it was snowing and they were covered up with winter coats. We may go the Dollar Tree route this Halloween!

They have a couple options for non-candy treats. We can’t give out candy/food at school, so I picked up pencils and erasers for my class.

I’m not sure how excellent that knife will work, but you can’t go wrong with a big spoon for scooping the guts out of a pumpkin.

Halloween cards for $.50!  I am trying to get better at sending notes/cards to people so we picked up a couple to send to friends and family. 

There you have it!!  I forgot to take a picture of the tablecloth and spooky garland we picked out, too. Our kitchen area is now set for Halloween!