Archive for Parenting

Tuesdays With Mooch & Fuss: The Power of Ten

Last week, Fuss focused on the number ten. We didn’t do it in a Sesame Street “Let’s count to ten” fashion, because that would have made us both fall into a math-induced coma. In a rich conceptual way, we explored addends that equal ten (2+8, 4+6, 9+1, 5+5, etc.). We also reviewed counting by tens, counting to ten in Spanish, and playing with tens in money. She spotted tens everywhere — the air conditioner, the clock, the oven timer.

Making Tens on the Montessori Addition Strip Board

Adding up to Ten

Art in Tens

In Language Arts, Fuss is learning about possessive pronouns, possessive proper nouns, and when to use apostrophes. Science-wise, she’s been interested in why and how water boils, how fish know when to stop eating, and how long it takes cars to slow down from various speeds.

Mooch reviewed expository writing last week. She wrote a paper on parents being some of the most tired people. There were three revisions and one typed final. She is loving Saxon math more than Singapore but is starting to feel like it repeats a lot. I think she needs the repeating. We’ll see how it pans out. Singapore moved much more quickly, it was at least challenging. Now she feels like she learned all the stuff she’s doing now last year. To stave off boredom, I purchased an Algebra curriculum on the side. It should be here next week.

Mooch decided to randomly make a doll this week

Mooch learning to draw manga characters in her free time

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Tuesdays With Mooch & Fuss: The Authentic Dad

When some of us think of daddies, we envision a motionless lump on the sofa, yelling at the television screen, with four fingers jammed into the waistline of a pair of slacks, while the other hand nurses a beer. As the mother tends to the children, he waves his hand demanding more from her — a sandwich or a flame thrower (true story). For others, the image is a bit different and includes bumbling babas brushing barbecue sauce on baguettes to nourish hungry babies. Fortunately, there is finally some gradient to the scale of fatherhood. While the tuned out corporate pops and the struggling newbie do exist, there are those dads who dive in authenticity first and give their kids all they have to offer. These are the fathers, who use what they know and do the best they possibly can. They listen to their kids, and they share all of themselves with their families.

Children, up until a certain age, are usually interested in what their parents are passionate about. Keeping up with the Thompsons doesn’t apply in a child’s eyes. A dad who hates Jessie and Curious George but loves Doctor Who, should watch that with his child. Explain it. Use the show to build vocabulary. Ask the little geekling what time period they’d want to travel to, and what they think they’d see there. Kids have the best bullshit radar, and they can tell when we don’t want to be coloring Strawberry Shortcake. The good news is that if it involves daddy putting away his phone/iPad, getting down on the rug, speaking enthusiastically, and laughing, Lil’ Bit doesn’t mind if the coloring book is filled with Transformers or hot wings!

Many moms and Chris Rock argue that a father, who is doing the things he is “supposed to be” doing should not be placed on a pedestal. Trust me, there are no medals being passed out here. Fathers don’t “babysit” their own kids or do chores to “help the woman out.” That would imply that dishwashing and laundry is “women’s work.” That doesn’t fit the Myshell Tabu format. When I watch my kids, I’m not babysitting, so neither is he. The dad, who truly shows up and commits to the moment, however, should be celebrated as much as a mother who does the same.

This article is about the padres who know they aren’t master chefs, but they light a fire under the skillet and make sure there is greenery on the plate. It’s the running-late-for-work-but-stop-to-read-you-a-story dads, who really make an impression. This is for the dad who spends forty-five minutes putting his daughter’s hair in a ponytail, because he remembers that time he told her “can’t” was not an option. He is a model.

Lastly, this is regarding the father who listens with the goal of true understanding. When his son says he’s hurt, he shows compassion instead of telling him to suck it up. The never-ending speech his daughter spat about her wonderful day at school goes in one ear and lands on his heart.

The dad who lies somewhere on the spectrum between idiot and apathy represents balance. He is going hard in the finger paint for his kids, and that deserves some acknowledgement. If everyone in the house is contributing their best, the kids can’t lose. In fact, everyone wins.

The outside of Fort Awesome

Hannibal and Mooch honor the fort before tearing it down.

Fuss made the sign for Fort Awesome

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Tuesdays With Mooch & Fuss: Decade Dioramas (1960s)

Last week, a question Mooch had about Weight Watchers sparked a full on study of the sixties. The decade is rich with international history as well, but we always start at “home” to see what was going on here at the time. We decided to dive in with an art project to keep the toddler interested. Creating dioramas allowed us to cover a broad range of topics from sports to segregation. Fuss seemed to be most interested in pop culture, including clothing, hairstyles, musicals and dolls.

The girls learned about Jim Crow, The Shirelles, Mary Poppins, Muhammad Ali, John F. Kennedy, and more. The chit chat that took place over a simple afternoon of cutting and pasting was unbelievable. I’m certain that it created a lasting memory.

This was just the beginning. As a result, we’ll be watching Panther, Mary Poppins, Soul Train, and clips of The Beach Boys and The Shirelles. Also on our list is a read aloud of James and the Giant Peach, which was published in 1961 (Mooch has already read it, of course, but she doesn’t mind hearing it again). We’re going to look for Lobo (the first comic book featuring an African-American lead), and we’re going to memorize some Amiri Baraka. I’m sure all of this will spin off into many more conversations and active learning. I’m excited to share it all with you.

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Tuesdays With Mooch & Fuss: Teaching Toddlers To Cut With Scissors


Stickers (feel free to choose a theme that corresponds to the season or lesson plan)

Paper (construction paper is easier for them to cut, but any paper works)


Preschool Scissors

Small lightweight bowl or cup

A toddler (roughly age 2-5)

Wide Masking Tape

Set Up:

Place a strip of masking tape on the floor (if you don’t have hardwood floors, do it in the kitchen)

Cut the paper into 1 1/2 inch wide strips (it’s not an exact science) the long way

Draw lines 1 1/2 apart on each strip

Place a fun sticker in between each set of parallel lines

Put strips and scissors on a tray with a small lightweight bowl or cup

STEP ONE (Exploring Scissors):

Get the toddler (Well, invite them over nicely)

Pick up the scissors and explain that they can hurt someone really badly

Touch the tip gently

Let the child touch the tip

Tell them it’s sharp

Show them how to put their fingers in, and let them practice opening and closing

STEP TWO (Walking with Scissors):

YOU carry the scissors, holding the blade end in your fist

Explain to your toddler that this is the way we carry scissors

Walk your toddler to the masking tape, while noting aloud how carefully you’re carrying the scissors

When you get to the tape ask “Do you think you can carry the scissors like I did, while walking on this piece of tape?”

Let the child do it, and give them a simple “Great job” or high five

STEP THREE (Cutting):

Let the child practice carrying the scissors carefully back to the table or mat

Take one of the strips and cut off a square
Note how you open the scissors, place the strip in side and close the scissors completely

Place the fallen square into the little cup/bowl

Do it once more, asking the child what you should do first

If they don’t remember, help them by saying, “Open”

Ask the next step

If they don’t remember, help them by saying, “Close”

Ask the next step

They should respond, “Put it in the cup!” or they may point to the cup (depending on age and language skills)

Hand your child the scissors and let them try

Don’t pressure, yell, or rush. Be patient. Younger children may need more opening and closing practice. If they are frustrated, you may guide them with your hand around theirs or transition to another activity and try again another day.

They should only complete one or two strips each time they do the activity. Don’t ask them to finish cutting all the strips you made (you don’t want to have to make new sticker strips everyday). They should stop the second they’re tired.

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Team Tabu Updates: January is Almost Over *wipes head*

The flurry of festivities has finally finished, and I’m over here sleeping like a pregnant woman. Yes, I took a nap yesterday. What? I need some down time before the next emergency, production, or unexpected change strikes.

Mooch is ten now. Fuss is four, and by Monday, Hannibal will have completed another trek around the sun. It was truly a fun season. The milestone birthdays always are. I can’t believe Mooch is a whole decade old. She had a fun party, with the majority of our community present, followed by a sleepover and paintballing.

Legoland had fireworks for Fuss’ birthday. Well, sort of. Her birthday is New Year’s Eve, so the fireworks were probably for that, but who’s asking? We’re skipping our usual hotel getaway for Hannibal’s birthday, because we’re hosting a marriage retreat the second weekend in February.

“Homeschooling” is back in full swing, with Fuss writing a lot more and Mooch delving deeper into science. She’s been programming her rover, creating hurricanes, and creating circuits. We finished The Giver as a family (well 3/4 of us), and while she plows through the third Harry Potter, her sister is flying through her second set of BOB Books.

There is nothing much new to report. I’ve been working (designing) a lot, which explains my inability to blog. Aaaaaghhh!! Enjoy these pictures from the holidays and birthdays over the past couple of months. Marital Mondays will be back Monday.

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