Hi, I’m Autumn.  Welcome to Mom School!  I’m always looking for ideas to help my children succeed and to help me be a better mom.  Mom School is a place where I share tips and ideas about handling homework, preparing a kids to read, and improving math skills.  I’ve also got a few thoughts on getting kids to exercise and helping them develop creativity and imagination.

For the most part, the tips are in the videos.  My success or (lack thereof) in applying my own advice is chronicled in my blog.  There you’ll read my real life stories about how it doesn’t always work the way I thought it would with Dylan and Anya.


If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

Last Saturday, I decided I had to change the kids sheets since I hadn’t done it in two weeks. On the way to the washing machine, I noticed the Christmas tree and decided that was my next project. In went the sheets and on to cleaning up the Christmas decorations.

The kids wanted to “help,” so the family gathered in the living room. Nate showed the kids pictures and home movies of themselves when they were young. I took down the Christmas tree. An hour later, I was ready to put all the boxes boxes back into storage.

That’s when I noticed the file boxes containing records from past years. It occurred to me that I needed to shred the 2005 files. I left the Christmas boxes sitting in the middle of the room and started unloading the file boxes out of the storage closet. Finally, I found two boxes of 2005 folders.

I went downstairs to the office and started shredding paper. Four huge garbage bags, a lot of confetti on the floor, and nearly two hours later, I finished. That’s when I noticed the filing cabinet and realized that I might as well make the new folders for 2009 and box up 2008.

I ran upstairs and grabbed a file box and some folders. I spent the next hour making new folders for 2009, cleaning up the 2008 files, and boxing them. That’s when I decided the office looked totally trashed. I took all the garbage upstairs, cleaned up the shredder and vacuumed.

Then, I returned to the forsaken storage closet. I pulled everything out so I could get it “organized.” That’s when I started the pile of stuff I should sell on eBay or Craigslist, like the iSub speaker that’s really old and the PacknPlay for my baby who is turning five this week. I did manage to restack all the file boxes.

Of course, I had to notice the 72-hour kits that haven’t been updated in 18-months. Naturally, I pulled those out and opened them up. My kids and Nate discovered clothes they haven’t seen in ages and have really been missing. Nate took back his “favorite” flannel shirt, and Anya put on a pair of 2T shorts that look like bright pink Daisy Dukes now. And she won’t take them off, even though it’s January, and the snow won’t stop. And don’t ask why Nate had a flannel shirt in the kit, and Anya had shorts. I don’t know.

Obviously things needed to get updated, so I sorted through everything. Good thing too, because, while there was PLENTY of water, there was no food in any of the kits. Apparently, it’ll be a 72-hour water cleanse for us in case of an emergency. I also decided it would be ok to remove the Pull-Ups from the kits since both Dylan (age 7) and Anya (5 on Thursday) have been toilet trained for quite some time. This is when I started the pile for my neighbor who can use the Pull-Ups and the cast-off Halloween costumes.

After sorting through the closet and stacking back most of the boxes, I called my friend to tell her about my pile for her. A few minutes later she came over to collect her inheritance from my storage closet. I told her how I needed to make some posters for a church activity by the next morning, and how I was procrastinating it, because I’m really not crafty like that. She offered to help me out.

That’s how I ended up at her house 20 minutes later stenciling out a poster. Turns out that can take a really obscene amount of time. (But they turned out SUPER cute!) Nate fed the kids dinner and put them to bed while I was gone. When I came home at 9:30 p.m. this is what I found:

1. Kids asleep in sleeping bags on their sheet-less beds
2. Christmas boxes still stacked beside the storage closet
3. A Craigslist and eBay pile all over the floor
4. 72-hour kits on my bed
5. Four bags of garbage in the kitchen

This is when I went in to the kitchen, ate four chocolate truffles, and went to bed (after shoving the 72-hours kits on to the floor). Remind me not to be productive next Saturday.

(If you have not read the book that inspires this post, you’ll enjoy a quick summary.)


Book Review: Gingerbread Baby

This week’s featured book is Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett. I love Jan Brett’s detailed and intricate illustrations. In contrast, her stories are typically fairly straightforward and simple. My kids have always been delighted with her books and tend to ask for them to be read again and again.

So, we need a few activities to go along with Gingerbread Baby. For the real moms among us, who want to do something fun, but feel a little pressed for time or energy this is the activity for you:

Storytime with Grandma
One of our grandmas doesn’t live very close, but she can still read stories to my kids. Jan Brett’s books are popular enough that grandma or grandpa or another special person could easily check this book out from the library. Then arrange a convenient time with Grandma and make a phone call. Put her on speaker phone, hand your child his copy of the book and let Grandma read the story to your child. You may need to remind Grandma to tell your child when to turn the page. Maybe Grandma is tech-savvy enough to make a recording of the book on a CD or as a sound file on the computer. You might be able to get a digital video recording or even do a teleconference on Skype. However you manage to connect across the miles, this is definitely a book worth sharing with a special family member, no matter what the distance.

More real mom activities can be found by visiting Jan Brett’s homepage. There you can can design and print your own Gingerbread Baby and your own Gingerbread Baby House. I should let you know that I had problems using this website on a Mac with both Safari and Firefox. It works if you’re on a PC with Internet Explorer.

For the super moms among us, you can find instructions, recipes and patterns for gingerbread houses online in many places. If you need to simplify this activity a little bit, you might consider using graham crackers to build the house.

Also, you might find that simply making gingerbread babies is plenty of fun for most kids. For this you don’t need to do the cutting the pattern and building the house stages. Arm yourself with a person-shaped cookie-cutter and move right on to the icing and candy decorating parts!

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I’m Coming Back

So we’ve got the grandparents settled down, I’ve made it through the holidays and I’m coming back.

You may notice that most of the videos have very ugly stills. (It’s kind of hard not to, but you’re kind not to say anything.) This is due to a transition away from Podango and to Blip.tv. My podcasts have been hosted by Podango, which has been a great site. Most sadly, they are closing down as of today. This is sad for two reasons. First, I’ve got to get all my content moved somewhere else and fast. Second, my husband has been employed by Podango, so he’s got to get a new job and (hopefully) fast.

So, I am in the process of moving all my content to Blip.tv, and until I get the stills uploaded, the movies look a little weird before you hit play. A few things might not work for a bit while I get things straightened out. If you notice anything broken, I’d appreciate you letting me know, so I can get it working again.

And by next week, we should have new content up. Yay!

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