Category: Everyday Life

Gameschooling: Do you?

Gameschooling | www.oliverandtara.com

So ,what is Gameschooling?

Gameschooling is teaching school subjects through game play – board games, card games, etc. So teaching geography through Ticket to Ride, colors through Candyland… you get the idea!

Why would one Gameschool?

Games teach so many fantastic skills and, if selected carefully, can teach great educational subjects at the same time! In addition to the obvious skills of turn taking, sharing, cooperation, learning to win/lose… there are some additional developmental skills games can help! My favorite executive functioning skills of self-regulation, perspective taking, problem solving, working memory and planning are involved in almost every game out there. Games can also grow creativity, social skills and both verbal and non-verbal communication abilities! Plus, let’s be frank. As parents, we can often lose sight of having FUN with our kids. Life demands are no joke! Intentionally planning game play into your day can be a welcomed respite and time of connection.

Do you Gameschool?

There are some people who only gameschool, which fascinates me! While we aren’t 100% gameschoolers, it is an intricate part of our homeschooling. We’ve played games with Pip since he was very young, and Liv is already wanting to play Pip’s games with us during the school day!

Current Favorites…

Because I know the question would be asked… here are some of our current favorite games!

  • Robot Turtles (Pip)
    Early introduction to coding, but no technology involved! I’ve seen Pip’s ability to plan, problem solve and navigate increase exponentially since we began playing this game!
  • Cariboo Island (Pip) – discontinued
    Really, any of the cariboo versions are great, but all are discontinued. So check with local moms, thrift store and consignment sales! This fun “hidden treasure” game let’s you work on letters, numbers and shapes! It’s quick with a built in reward system.
  • Koala Capers (Pip)
    My mom found this one on Zuliliy, but even on Amazon it’s really decently priced! This one allows for a lot of adaptations to make it easier and harder. You are trying to find the most outfits for your koala by rolling the dice and matching the pattern and clothing item to one of the many combinations out! What is also fun is that all the outfits are from different areas of the world. So we get a lot of geography and occupation talk in too!
  • Shelby’s Snack Shack (Pip)
    Think of this as the modern day Hi Ho Cherry-O…. just with a dog and bones! Spin to try and dig up bones, then spin to see how many you can get. Watch out – you might lose a turn, lost your bones, or steal some from a neighbor. MOM NOTE: Don’t put all the bones out if only two of you are playing. It will NEVER END. We typically only put out 20!
  • Hidden items activities (Liv)
    Not a purchase-able game, but just the game she’s into currently. Hiding anything (even family members) gets her excited! And it’s doing a great job of teaching her waiting, turns, and stamina! Plus her giggles are infectious!
  • Hungry Pelican (Liv)
    Pip actually picked this game out as a Christmas present for his sister! It’s a lot of fun to drop the food into the pelican’s mouth and it appears in the stomach! We put all different things in the mouth, not just what came with the toy! It offers a lot of funny vocabulary, wh questions and surprises. Plus, it’s a game even Pip gets in on, so they are learning to play together too!

Want to read more?

Some great blog posts out there on gameschooling include…

❤ Tara

Another day in nature

Today was day two of Forest School/Nature School (we use the terms interchangably). Some cute photos and takeaways.

Liv is always so excited to arrive at Forest School! Especially when she also gets to wear brother’s hat.

For science, they learned about butterflies and then disolved sugar into water to make sugar plates.
We didn’t see any butterflies, but we did catch a praying mantis who stopped for a drink!

From being hesitant to climb anything week one, to trying everything week two!
He knows the rules to call out “climbing” and wait for an adult to respond “climb on!”

This increased confidence translated to the first tree he attempted to scale independently!
(He did need some help, but his height was a slight disadvantage!)

He wasn’t the only one scaling everything – though she be little….

Today we painted in our journals. For brushes, the children had to search nature!
Liv loved the flowers, her brother preferred his fingers! Haha!

She’s become fascinated with birds lately, and today we “dressed up” as one!

After observing a chipmunk eating these seeds, Pip decided to try some too!
I just love his curiosity… “I do not think they are very good!”

Always the little helper…

I just love how much growth I’ve seen in both kids after just two weeks. This is just a small snapshot of our three hours today! Each week their teacher adds a few more structured activities for them to “opt in or out”. This week we started journaling, next week we begin Yoga. Pip always opts in, Liv usually does as well. We are also soaking up the warm weather. Forest school is all weather, so we will be out here in the rain and snow soon!

  • Tara

A year ago

OliviaJane-24 (1)-ANIMATION

A year ago your heart rate dropped a few times and scared everyone…

A year ago I’d been worrying about you for 6 days straight, in labor 4.5.

A year ago I pushed for over 3 hours. And saw your beautiful dark hair….

A year ago I was wheeled back into surgery.

A year ago I watched you “be born” – what an amazing sight!

A year ago your daddy turned to me and said “She’s an Olivia… Olivia Jane!”

A year ago I “met” you. And it was true love.

Happy Birthday to our tenacious and sweet baby girl.

You are so so so loved.

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I’ve got you, babe… 

I've Got You, Babe... | originally posted on www.oliverandtara.com

Pip was born in the main OR of a hospital in San Jose, California. It was sterile. It was cold. It was terrifying.

I remember reading up on c-sections when we learned we had no other choice. One thing I read stuck with me – Pay attention to the details. Remember the little things.

As they prepped me for surgery, before O was let in, there was music playing over the speakers. “Put the lime in the coconut. ” I remember thinking “they wouldn’t be playing this on the maternity floor.”And that made me even more sad.

When I finally could hold Pip, I insisted on pulling back his cap. I wanted to see the details.  Did he have hair? [yes.]  How long were his fingers? [they looked so long on the ultrasound!].

Then, I spoke to him. And he stopped screaming. He turned and looked at me. Eyes wide open. And over the speakers I heard “I’ve got you babe…”

And all I could think was “well, that was perfect.”

❤️ Tara

Running Disney… or not.

Running Disney... or not. | Originally posted at http://www.oliverandtara.com

I ran in high school. Really just to keep up (and beat) some of the boys.
Once I did? I quit.

I ran in college because I feared the freshmen 15.
When I realized it wasn’t happening? I quit.

Getting pregnant was taking a long time (again), so I started running.
Then I got pregnant. And quit.

Then I saw a post about the Disney World Half Marathon… so I started again.

And I didn’t quit.

I ran outside until the cold hives got too bad. Then O got me a treadmill and I started running inside. We traveled and I found ways to run.

I didn’t quit.

So unbelievably excited!!!

A photo posted by Oliver and Tara +2 (@oliverandtara) on

Flash forward 7+ months and it was  January 6th, the night before the race. I was excited. I was scared. I was packed. I’d put in the miles.

I wasn’t quitting.

As I crawled into bed I checked the weather and the official Facebook page for the race. They called it. It was cancelled.

And I quit.

Yep, just like that I quit. I called Oliver and cried.

(more…)

Running Like Grandma

Not many people know this, but my grandma was a runner. I actually forgot this myself until we were preparing for our recent trip.

They live in the hills outside San Diego, so needless to say I was NOT training there! Heck, I don’t even enjoy driving those hills!

So, after I arrived, I asked grandma for some running spot recommendations. With a twinkle in her eye, she told me about her favorite spot.

Each day I ran, I’d return back to their house and grandma would ask about the trail. Did I see any animals? Did I beat any of the boys? I diligently reported on the friendly old men who cheered me on, the hawk that swooped my head, and how many people I “beat” to the corner.

I loved “her” trail. It smelled of eucalyptus and went around a quiet golf course. It took me past a few horse stables, and kept my mind sharp dodging puddles.

It would be crazy to grow eucalyptus in my basement to make treadmill running easier, right?

In Love With Foam

As I prepare for a holiday season of travel, I picked the brains of my favorite running coaches (my PT and Chiropractor) as to what was going to be the biggest help for me to keep my training up, chance of injury down and get me through my first half marathon.

My PT’s recommendation was love at first roll…

(I have a large one at home, but a travel one was PERFECT!!!)

Maps Galore!

Maps Galore! | originally posted at www.oliverandtara.com

I don’t quite remember when Pip first became interested in maps. He would ask to stop and look at the map in malls, the zoo, museums, etc sometime in the past year.

But I remember when it reached a new level…

We were about to go on his first ever camping trip. I had loaded up on camping themed books at the library and we read up on what to expect. One book in particular struck Pip’s fancy. It was Camping: A Mr. and Mrs. Green Adventure by Keith Baker. On one page there is a map that Mrs. Green makes for Mr. Green to help them find their camping spot.

Multiple times a day this book was brought to me so we could read the story and talk (at great lengths) about the map. That’s when his interest in maps became a full on fascination.

I could roll my eyes at this surly short lived fascination. Or I could embrace it. Being a homeschooling family, we embraced it!

We’ve borrowed a plethora of map themed books from the library. Our top five favorites are:

I’ve printed off maps of some of our favorite places and laminated maps from some of our favorite local stops (museums, zoos, etc).

And guess what? I’ve learned more about Pip in the process…

He knows many common map symbols without me ever directly teaching it. “Look mommy! Potty!”

He loves knowing where his cousins all live and being able to point to Virginia and Florida on the map.

He enjoys “planning trips”. Especially with the Disney World maps. He shows everyone who will look where his favorite places are in WDW.

It’s awesome ♥

Why I run…

Why I run | article originally posted at www.oliverandtara.com

Well, I’ve officially been cleared to start running! Yep, you read that right. I’m running again.

Before I get too much further, let me set the record straight… this is not in an effort to get skinny, fit into size 4 jeans, lose my mom pooch, have a bikini bod, etc.

This is 100% for me. I used to run and I loved it. I want to run to be the healthiest mom I can be for my littles. I want to run to get 30 minutes in my own head, uninturrupted. I want to be an example for Pip and Liv. Period.

The way my body looks because of the running is simply a side effect.

I’m a goal orientated girl, so I need something to work towards. That thing is the WDW Half Marathon in January.

Crazy, right?! Well, my amazing friend Traci joined me in my crazy moment and we signed up together.

I’ve never raced before. Ever. Go big or go home!

So, expect running updates along with kiddo and homeschool updates in the months to come. Here we go!

-Tara ♥

Bible Reading + Focus

Knowing your learning style(s), and ways to help yourself learn, is SO important. I cannot stress this enough. It took until college for me to learn some aspects of how I learn best. And I find I’m continuing to learn new strategies to help improve my ability to learn all the time! For example…

I am a slow reader. Like, REALLY slow. My brain insists I read every.single.word. The idea of “scanning” a book makes my skin crawl. Many times, over just as many years, I have tried to read the bible all the way through. But my slow reading, and distractible brain, usually had me throwing in the towel by the end of January. Last year I tried to set up accountability partners and use an awesome reading app. But again, for a variety of reasons including my slow reading, it didn’t last long.

However, this year has the potential for a very different outcome!

A lovely lady from our church, who I just “friended” on social media recently, shared about an app. This one caught my attention immediately… it was a “read through the bible in a year” as usual. But this one is an AUDIO bible.

Using the Daily Audio Bible | read more at: www.oliverandtara.com

I am 100% an auditory learner. Anything I need to learn/memorize needs to be auditorily inputted into my noggin. In college, grad school and now with all the trainings and speaking engagements I do – it’s all auditory based. You’ll always see me with headphones in the week(s) leading up to the presentation, as I listen to the material over and over again. So an audio bible through the year? YES!

 

I also love it because it means Pip is hearing it too! Some days I’ll play it while I make breakfast or while we eat lunch. If it is a really busy day, we listen in the car as we drive between social engagements and appointments. I read a lot, but mostly on devices. Which means Pip doesn’t see me holding a physical book… for all he knows, I am back on social media again. (insert mom guilt here) So listening together to an audio book is really great for the both of us. And really, what better book could we be listening to?!

The narrator is dynamic, there is background music… overall it is REALLY well put together. Which my brain truly appreciates. I can’t recommend it enough. However, I realized I needed something to do with my hands when listening in the early morning or late in the evening all by myself. I fidget – I do not sit still very well AT ALL. So sitting and just listening wasn’t working. I found myself mentally “checking out” – which isn’t what I wanted when reading the bible! So, I was talking to a friend over the weekend about what to do. I love the new “grown-up coloring books” and have a very nice one, with beautiful pencils gifted by the hubby. I’ll often color in the evenings after Pip is in bed. But carrying those with me at all times wasn’t really realistic. But, as the saying goes, there must be an “app for that!”

Using coloring apps to stay focused! | read more at: www.oliverandtara.com

Sure enough, I found some great apps for adults to “color”! I gave one a try today and it worked wonderfully! I filled in a nice simple mandala while truly listening to readings in Genesis, Proverbs and more. This specific app is Colorfy, but there are many available!

So overall my message is this – there are some great apps to help you obtain some new goals this year. For me, it’s reading my bible more with even more focus. And these are what work for me right now. Saying a prayer I last longer than January for a change. And if not? Then I will give myself an extra helping of forgiveness and grace… then try again!

-Tara