Thursday, September 19, 2019

365: Talk Like a Pirate Day

September 19 is Talk Like a Pirate Day. Arrrgg. It be one of the most popular odd holidays for ye. Before this year, if you were to ask me to name odd holidays, Talk Like a Pirate Day would probably come up first. To celebrate today, we pretended to be pirates at the playground and spoke like we were pirates protecting our ship.
We had a Tinkergarten trial today, so we were already at Story Woods Park in Delhi. They have a great play structure, and there were already a few kids playing "neighborhood". These children were happy to involve Jude and his pirate ship into their play. There's something truly magical about watching children pretend play, and seeing this children interact with Jude made me excited to watch Jude's play grow and evolve in the next few years.
Jude's pirate ship was near a small slide. He climbed and slid all while interacting with the other children. They would ask Jude if they could come to his ship. We told the kids that we were friendly pirates and that they were welcome aboard. They also invited Jude to sections of their neighborhood. They introduced themselves at the beginning, so I made sure to model using their name when I addressed them for Jude.
It was a nice bonus to be able to work on Jude's social skills while playing pirates! And, to really get in character, Jude was a messy, messy pirate. His hair was everywhere. He was sweaty. He had a red face. He had food all over him. Obviously this was because pirates don't care about their appearance and not because he was a mess to start. Jude really likes to dive into his character work by truly becoming the role.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

365: Respect Day

September 18 is Respect Day. Respect is a concept that is pretty hard to explain to a child, especially one under two, but we decided to tackle the concept today to celebrate.
I thought that the easiest thing to work on respecting was nature, so we went on our Nature Walk Wednesday trip to LaBoiteaux Woods surrounded by all sort of nature. Jude is full out walking now. This makes any time in nature, or public really, difficult. I used phrases like "let's be respectful of mama" and "let's be respectful of our boundaries" as I chased Jude down a literal hill and through a field. When I finally caught up to him, I took the time to explain that being respectful in this situation means to stay close to me.
Maybe it resonated with Jude, or maybe he was tired, because he stayed pretty close to me after that. We met some dogs, or as Jude calls them "moo's", and I modeled what respected a dog's boundaries looked like. We finished up by talking about how we respect plants by not tearing them out of the ground or damaging them in any way.
While I do feel like Jude is too young to truly grasp the idea of respect, it is a good conversation to start having. It is also never too early to model what respect looks like. I try to be respectful of Jude's time, concerns, bodily autonomy, and feelings each day.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

365: International Country Music Day
September 17 is International Country Music Day. Wedon’t play a lot of country music in the house, so I took the opportunity today to expose Jude to some country music. We listened to it while we cleaned (thank you, GoogleHome). There aren’t any pictures of it because we are working on expanding the playroom, so Jude played while I was working! 

Monday, September 16, 2019

365: Play-Doh Day

September 16 is Play-Doh Day. Play-doh was originally marketed to clean wallpaper. It wasn’t used for playfor nearly 20 years after it hit the markets. Play-Doh Day is a day to celebrate the fun childhood craft.
It seemed like another good day to use the Filsat table. The large bucket had three lumps of play-doh. One small bucket had tools: dough rolling pins, stampers, and Jude favorite cup (he put anything that will fit into it). The other small bucket had loose parts: rings, animals, wooden coins, and peg people. To bring it all together, Jude’s name was spelled out between the buckets. I try to expose Jude to the letters of his name as often as possible. 
Jude is at a very curious age (almost 16 months), so he always touches everything before starting. For the most part, I just let him play. I did model a few things for him, however. I modeled using the tools to make impressions. I also modeled creating different shapes like rolling it into a ball or a long snake. Other than that, I let him go crazy. I played with him when he seemed interested in doing that and worked on my own thing when he needed some independence. 
When I model for Jude, I do something I used to do when I taught. It’s the concept of “I do, we do, you do”. I’ll do it for Jude to see. We both do it together. Then, Jude does it! Because of his age and the importance of repetition, normally, the “I do” and the “we do” are done over and over. Honestly, there’s nothing as sweet as when Jude get to the “you do”! It's important to model, model, and model some more! 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

365: International Dot Day

September 15 is International Dot Day. International Dot Day is a holiday created to celebrate creativity. It encourages people to make your mark and see where it takes you. We took the idea of creativity and the idea of dots, mixed them together, and had a fun day full of celebration.
We started our day early with a dot inspired breakfast. Our dot inspired breakfast was made up of blueberries and miniature pancakes. The perfect roundness of each gave off some sweet polkadot vibes. In an added bonus, Jude made a polkadot mess all over his face with the blueberries.
Later in the day, I pulled out the Filsat table. Using regular and jumbo waterbeads and some tools, Jude, Jay, and I played for a couple hours outside. Jude enjoyed transferring the beads from one container to the other. Since they are so slippery, Jude got an extra workout for his fine motor skills.
We ended the day with a dot sticker counting activity. While Jude and Jay were doing bath, I took dot stickers and stuck them in lines 1-10. After, we counted them together. We have been trying to count as often as possible while pointing to physical representations of the numbers to help create the synapse Jude needs to truly understand numbers instead of just memorizing them.
Dot Day helped rekindle a little bit of my creativity for odd holidays, so stay tuned for more themed play ideas soon!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

365: Eat a Hoagie Day

September 14 is Eat a Hoagie Day. Jude helped me make his hoagie for dinner and then we enjoyed them. It was a good way to get him involved in the kitchen, and it let him enjoy the spoils of his labor!

365: Full Moon Friday the 13th

September 13 is both a full moon and Friday the 13th. As a former teacher, I believe in the power of both days to disturb the fragile balance of humanity, specifically in children. 

We never intended on celebrating this holiday. I mean, who truly plans on everything going awry? Alas, we were forced into this being our celebrated holiday of the day. 

The morning was filled with bad news. The place we wanted to go this afternoon was closed for no reason we could find. Jude walked around like a wild bear in a forest of meat. It was a lot. So, this is how we celebrated, on accident. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

365: Video Game Day
September 12 is Video Game Day. Jay loves to play video games, and Jude loves the sound of keys clicking on a keyboard.
To merge these two interests, Jay and Jude played World of Warcraft for a little while. In this short time, Jude managed to change a few of Jay’s settings. But Jude loved clicking the bottons and moving the character around, so it was a successful holiday!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

365: Kindness Day
September 11 is Kindness Day. Kindness Day began as a holiday in 2017. While it’s still pretty small scale, I started the holiday at the high school I was working at. 9/11/17, other than being the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, was also the 1 year anniversary of one of my student’s deaths. That first anniversary to tip my hat to his short but powerful time on this earth, I instituted kindness day. Kindness Day started as an activity where students were instructed to write a letterto someone  unexpected that made a difference in their lite. It could be a teacher, staff member, or other student. Since then, the holiday exists just to show kindness in any form.
Today, the recipients of Jude and my kindness were Katie and Quinn. Katie has done a lot for me in the last year. She has held me up when I haven’t had the strength to do it on my own. She has supported me in all my endeavors. And most importantly, she has loved Jude like he was her own. Words cannot express my gratitude toward her. Since we wanted to be kind, we took Katie and Quinn out to lunch. It felt good to be kind.
We at Chicka Chicka Mama hope that this day and everyday, you take the time to appreciate the unsung heroes in your life. Tell them you appreciate them. Showthem kindness. Kindness can change the world. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

365: Alpaca Day

September 9 is Alpaca Day. Our natural course of action to celebrate was to visit alpacas. In preparation for the day, I struggled harder than I imagined to find an alpaca. The Cincinnati Zoo has one, but it is locked up. Parky’s Farm has one, but I couldn’t find any definitive information about petting that alpaca. There are alpaca farms that were closed all around the area, as tours seem to be mostly a weekend thing. But then, I found my saving grace, Anne, at Alpaca Paradise Farm in Goshen. I read that I could text her, so I shot her a quick text about what I was looking to do. Anne responsed quickly, and we made plans to meet today.
Alpaca Paradise is in Goshen, Ohio about 30 or so minutes from downtown Cincinnati. It was a little bit of a hike, but it was well worth the drive. Katie and Q drove with us. When we got there, we were greeted by a small house with green pastures behind it. Anne greeted us and the babies, and she took us back to meet her alpacas.
The alpacas were breathtaking creatures. They were docile and kind in their interactions, and it was obvious that Anne loves them and that they love Anne back. Anne gave us carrots to feed the alpacas. I was worried at first about Jude feeding them, but I modeled how to do it one time and then him and Quinn zipped around the barn feeding carrots to excited alpacas.
I was also concerned that Jude and Quinn would be afraid of the alpacas because they were big and different. It turned out to be quite the opposite. The kids loved the alpacas, and so did the adults. While I did keep a watchful eye on the kids, the alpacas never gave me a reason to feel any concern. They gave the kids kisses on their heads. They sniffed their hands. They walked around them if they were standing in the way. The alpacas loved the babies.
Anne was incredibly knowledgable about alpacas and cheerily talked about them and answered any question we had about them. I will list some of my favorite alpaca facts:

1. Alpacas didn't come to the US until the late 80s.
2. Alpacas don't have top teeth.
3. Alpacas gestation is around a year.
4. Alpacas' coat is called 'fleece'.
Something I found quite beautiful about Alpaca Paradise is that there were generations of the same lines of alpacas there. My favorite pair,  Little Brown and Indy, were a mom and son duo. Indy had the biggest personality, but he ultimately stuck pretty close to his mom. He also still nurses (at 16 months when the average nursing period is 6 months). I feel like Little Brown and Indy are the Jude and Mama of the alpaca world.
We got to watch the alpacas get hosed down after we fed them. Alpacas love to get hosed down, and when Anne called for them and showed them the hose, they all came out one by one running toward it to get a hose down.
The tour is free, but there is a gift shop that you won't be able to pass up and it's a great way to support Anne and her gang. The items range from higher prices alpaca fleece creations all the way down to $2 finger puppets. If gift shops aren't your thing, donations are also accepted.
While it doesn't seem like the first thing that you would bring a toddler or small child to do, it is a truly unique experience that I feel confident that all children (and adults!) will love. Anne runs tours on Fridays and Saturdays, but if those days do not work out, you can contact her to see if she can fit you in another time. You can also rent out an alpaca for a wedding reception, graduation party, or birthday party. For more information about tours, booking, or the farm, you can visit their website or contact Anne at