24 Ways Kui Melts Our Hearts

Baby Kui turns two, today.

This little girl who is full of spunk and is confident and knows what she wants and doesn’t want to be left out of anything just because we insist on the word “baby” preceding her name.

There are so many little things unique to her and that make her adorably witty, but here are 24 ways she melts our hearts, for the 24 months that she has been in our lives.

1. Her cute, little hugs. I think it’s a baby thing. Their hands are so small and squishy and I love the way they go really tight around the neck.

2. The way she says, “I missed you!” OMG! It blows me away. She first said this to her dad and he told me how good it felt and then the other day she said it to me!

3. When she twirls because she feels her outfit is poppin’. She will walk into the room dramatically and then twirl, waiting to be complimented.

4. Her version of Mary Had a Little Lamb is out of this world adorable! I think it’s her favourite song and she will hum it when doing something or sing it out loud at the drop of a hat. She sings, “Mary had a tutue, tutue, tutue…” 😀

5. The way she narrates stories. Anyone that has visited us has heard her version of events in reference to a monkey that terrorized us for a couple of weeks. Her dad is the hero of the story and she will embellish it with every telling.

6. She does this thing where she points and instructs you to do something. Her dad will say that he’s going to the kitchen to make a cup of green tea and she’ll stop him mid sentence, stick out her index finger and say, “you make me tea, OK?”

7. Also, the way she asks for her food. “I want dinner.” Then she will go ahead and describe what she wants, “I want Ugali and fish and spuma.”

8. The way she animatedly operates a remote, believing that she’s playing a video game when we’re actually just watching a YouTube walk through. Kamau cheers her on and she gets really excited and wants to show everyone that she’s winning.

9. The way she defends Kamau. It doesn’t matter if he is in trouble because he wasn’t being nice to her. The moment you want to punish him she will point at you (that index finger of hers) and demand that you leave him be.

10. She has recently started reading out loud. She will pick a book and imitate Kamau as he practices his reading. Bedtime stories are also somewhat of a shouting match between she and I.

11. She is also now adding her own little prayers during our bedtime prayers. “I pray for daddy, Amau, and Lisa…”

12. When it’s her turn to count during hide and seek and she adds a jumbled, “ready or not here I come!” Also, the way she can’t stay quiet in her hiding spot. She just can’t stop giggling!

13. Her version of skipping! She moves the rope up and down and will count to ten. She can’t jump so that simple motion of the rope and the counting equates to her being able to skip.

14. The way she dramatically says, “I’m tired!” She even sighs for effect. She will say this after I have been killing myself pushing her on her tricycle. She’s the one who’s tired even though all she did was sit and get pushed around.

15. The way she runs everywhere with her little butt moving in a circular motion and the loud pitter-patter of her feet. It’s as if she has decided that if she’s going to do this thing called life, she’s going to do as much as she can.

16. The fact that you can send her and she will understand what you asked her to do and follow instructions. It’s really mind blowing at her age. The other day I realized we were out of salt and asked her to get some from her Mama’s house and she said, “OK!” took off running and returned with salt! It’s also super cute the way she delivers her messages. This morning she was asked to pick the dirty laundry from our room. “Mommy, Ambui wants dirty clothes for washin.”

17. The way she announces her arrival. “I here!” Like her walking into the room is worth celebrating every time! It’s usually preceded by a door banging on something because she will throw the door open just before her announcement.

18. When she laughs at videos of babies and animals.

19. The way she talks to her imaginary friends and gives them instructions to dress in outfits she picks out for them.

20. Speaking of talking, Baby Kui will talk from the moment she wakes up in the morning to the moment we tuck her in bed. She will talk about the birds that peck on the window by the staircase. She will talk about the sun and how hot it is. She will talk about Kamau and Lisa getting back home from school. She will talk about having homework just like Kamau. She will talk about what she’s having for dinner. I love it! We have conversations all day long. It’s like having a little best friend that is happy to be in your company and doesn’t get tired of telling you stuff.

21. The way she can’t resist a good beat and just wants to dance to all the songs on the radio. She sometimes asks us to stand up and dance with her. Also, she will belt out the few words that she can make out in the cutest off key notes!

22. The way she gets excited when she poops in the toilet. We’re going through potty training and every time we make it to the toilet, she will run back to her dad hands in the air and shout, “I pooped toilet! A big one!”

23. When she runs to the car when we get home. She mostly does it cos she’s hoping you brought her “chew mum,” but the look on her face as she runs to meet us is everything.

24. I think the sweetest thing about her right now, is just the fact that she is learning to talk and she learns a new word every day and is constructing longer sentences with each passing day. I love it when I tell her to do something and she says, “OK, let me sit a little then I go.” Just the fact that she can talk makes my heart swell with so much emotion every time she tells me something.

Here’s something else about her we find super interesting: she hides stuff. She will pick something when she thinks you aren’t looking and will hide it. If you happen not to have seen her pick something, then you’re in for some trouble because she is REALLY good at hiding things! This always happens with my spectacles. The more interesting thing is that, if you ask her where the item you’re searching for is, she remembers exactly where she hid it. It’s unbelievable. It could be the cover of my perfume bottle and she will run to a random room and then bring it back. You just need to hope that you ask about the item you’re searching within a reasonable amount of time from the moment she hid it because if not she will tell you, “I non know!” and shrug her shoulders.

Happy birthday to our sweet, little girl. You have brought such joy into each of our lives. We love you!

xoxo!

The Girl and the Boy on the Train

Happy New Year guys! I hope you all had an amazing holiday season.

We went on a family vacation- the first in two years- and it was AMAZING! It was our first time going on holiday with two kids and I was a little apprehensive about it, but it went pretty well. The kids were super excited with Kui feeding off of Lisa and Kamau’s excitement. We spent Christmas day at home unwrapping gifts and we had a family mbuzi- what’s Christmas without some nyama choma?

R, the kids and I missed our flight on the 26th. Blame it on too much mbuzi the previous day and perhaps fatigue from having guests over the day before a flight. Whatever. We’re blaming anything but poor planning. It was a rough day. We decided to attempt driving down to the Coast, went a little past Mlolongo only to drive back to the airport cos the airline (after initially acting like they couldn’t help us) said they’d try and put us on another flight. Then we had to split up. Kui and I went ahead and I wanted to cry my eyes out leaving Kamau behind. He was incredible and really kept it together especially given how excited he was about our trip when we left home that morning. We were all so excited when they finally arrived in Vipingo that evening.

Given the trouble it took us to get there, our week in Vipingo was absolutely worth it!

Baby Kui really enjoyed her first time by the seaside 🙂

We took the train back to Nairobi. The original plan was to drive back but because of car trouble, we ended up taking the train. I was actually pretty excited about the train having never been on one, but was nervous about having two kids on an 18 hour trip (we had to briefly lend our engine to another train so it actually ended up being a 20 hour trip). R and I have some pretty chill kids is what this whole vacation experience has taught me. From Kamau who takes things in stride to Kui who doesn’t fuss. I am very grateful for them.

So our ancient train system is still an adventure worth taking, if you ask me. You can leave the kids behind and just do it with your friends or spouse, but before you go on the SGR train you need to get on this old one.

Here are a few things to pack for your trip:

1. Tissue. I had to start with this one. There’s a lady that walks around with cut up tissue in a polythene bag. As in, no complete rolls. I don’t know how she estimates how much everyone needs for their business in the lavatory, but she has it neatly cut up and folded. Bring your own tissue folks. Seriously! You don’t want to be standing one hand akimbo, the other held out hoping the line moves fast enough and you get to the tissue lady in time!

2. A power bank. You can’t charge your phone or other devices in your compartment. Only at the dining area and for a limited amount of time so charge them beforehand and if possible, bring your power banks.

3. A book. There’s only so much screen time I can stand. Pack a book. It’s also a great way to save your phone battery.

PS: Don’t bring a book about a serial killer who preys on women. About ten hours of the train ride is in the night. The lights in the cabin flicker like those in a movie on a train just before something terrifying happens. Every time I heard a noise, I thought the murderous villain in my book had found me! Maybe pack a book about lilies and unicorns.

4. Snacks. Dinner is served at around 8 pm and Breakfast at around 7 am. You can keep yourselves or the kids distracted with a little comfort food.

5. Water. Please bring water. It isn’t provided for you and if you are travelling from Mombasa about two hours of the ride is stifling!

6. A Camera. Once the sun rises, there are some camera-worthy moments. Like zebras casually grazing, or a giraffe trip trapping by majestically or a town that you have never seen that looks like it belongs in a movie about a train.

7. Patience. Don’t forget to bring your patience. There are times you feel like if you got off and walked, you may actually get to Nairobi at the same time as the train, if not earlier.

If you’re going to brave the train, just go prepared for an adventure. There was a section of the train, between cabins, where the metal plate that links the cabins had fallen off. Have you watched those Cowboy movies where the bad guy attempts to throw the good guy on the railway track? How scary that space between cabins on a moving train looks? Now, imagine having to jump over it. I shudder at the thought. Kamau loved it. I was terrified. But, here I am. Safe in my house, telling you all about it.

Have you been on the train? What was your experience?

To trying new things and visiting new places in 2017!

xoxo!

Our Christmas Tree Lighting

Last night we lit up the Christmas tree. In R’s words, it now really feels like Christmas! We put up the tree about two weekends ago but hadn’t added the lights.

Kamau was in charge of turning on the switch and Kui, Lisa and I were pretty much the cheering squad cum choir.

Here’s a short video 🙂

Our Spirit Week Photo Diary

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Today is the last day of Spirit week and I have been putting together a photo diary that we can someday look back on. We had a different theme for each day and Kamau has had lots of fun playing dress up (and I have ENJOYED putting his outfits together!).

Monday was Mismatched Shoes Day. Kamau actually laughed out loud when I told him he was going to school in mismatched shoes. I think it’s one of those things you wouldn’t imagine your mom would have you do- let you leave the house in a mismatched pair of shoes.

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On Tuesday he went as Spiderman, who is still his favourite superhero, for Dress Like A Superhero Day.

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He also carried his Avengers school and lunch bags to complete the look.

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We had Fancy Hat Day on Wednesday and he went to school in a horned Vikings hat. I had explained who the Vikings were and showed him a few pictures online so that if anyone asked he had an idea of the History behind his hat.

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Thursday was Dress Like An Animal Day and Kamau was ready to have everyone hear him ROAR!

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He went as a fierce Tiger.

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We tried to go with the theme of the outfit by accessorizing with his faux fur boots.

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Today was Black and White Day and he was excited about wearing his sunglasses.

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Today’s theme was also pretty exciting for him because he has been looking forward to wearing his Angry Birds shoes which are his favourite pair.

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I think you can tell that we have had a fun week 🙂

xoxo!

My 10 Commandments Of Birthday Invite Etiquette

Party invitations for Kamau's 5th Birthday, earlier this year.

Party invitations for Kamau’s 5th Birthday, earlier this year.

Kamau will be attending a birthday for one of his classmates tomorrow and it got me thinking about a few etiquette rules I go by when we’re invited for a party.

1. RSVP This is the first thing you need to do once your child receives that invitation to another child’s party. Besides being good manners, it also goes a long way in helping that other mom with her preparation for the day. How else would she know how many guests to expect? It’s also REALLY important because our kids get excited about their birthdays and keep asking us whether so and so will be attending and if you didn’t RSVP we don’t know what to tell them and it breaks our hearts.

2. The Plus One(s) If you’re going to bring other kids, let the host know. This is, in my opinion, something you mention as you RSVP. Here’s the thing, some of us have four kids and can’t take one to a party and leave three behind. But, the host not knowing this only prepared for one. It’s only fair to inform the host in advance so that she isn’t in an awkward position when she has to improvise because she has two extra guests because she only prepared for one just-in-case.

3. TRY and keep time Ever invited guests to a shindig that was supposed to start at 12 pm only for guests to arrive at 4 pm? We know that weekends are busy and that, sometimes, getting kids ready to leave the house takes longer than expected but please try and keep time. If the plan was to cut cake at 4 pm so that the kids can go home in good time and also because party vendors start packing up their stuff at 5 pm, and you (and just about everyone else) arrive at 3.30 pm, see the kind of pickle you put the hosts in? We’re not sure whether to first serve you the entree or quickly shuffle you around the cake so we can prepare to break into the ‘Happy Birthday’ song.

4. Bring A Gift I think this one is just speaks to proper manners. You can’t show up to a party without some form of gift (You actually shouldn’t show up to people’s homes empty handed on any occasion, period.). It doesn’t need to be fancy and doesn’t require major preparation. Showing up empty handed is actually just rude.

5. Take Some Time To Engage The Host There are lots of instances where we receive invites from parents we haven’t met before simply because our kids are friends. We know how exciting it is to have a weekend plan for your child where you can drop off the child at said party and take off to go adulting elsewhere. Before you leave, take a few minutes to thank the host for inviting you and just to introduce yourself. It’s unlikely that you will need to have an extensive discussion seeing as she/he is busy making sure every other person at the party is OK so spare a little time for a quick chat.

6. Respect The Guest List Please don’t start asking the host if so and so was invited or why they weren’t. I think it’s even worse if you start calling up common friends after you receive your invitation to find out if they were also invited. You don’t want to put people in awkward situations.

7. Pick Up Your Child At The Agreed Time If you dropped your child at the party and left, please pick them up at the time you told the host you would. You really shouldn’t put the host in a position where they have to call you to find out where you are. Also, birthday parties are NOT automatic sleepovers for kids. Unless you had previously agreed that your child would be spending the night, don’t drop them off with an overnight bag!

8. Hang Around For Cake I think the reverse of the parent we can’t find when the party is over, is the one who can’t wait to leave the party. Please hang around for cake. It really is the most important part of the event and pulling your child out earlier has them missing out on the part of the party they were probably most excited about.

9. A Thank You Note This can be an actual ‘Thank You’ note or a simple text message or phone call the next day just to say thank you to the host for having you. It’s also a way of reassuring the host that you had a good time. If you’ve hosted anything, you know the kind of anxiety that comes with wanting to make sure your guests had a good time. I usually write something small the evening after the party, also just to let the host know we got home safe. I am big on people I had over at my house letting me know they got back home safe so tend to do it when people have me over at their place as well.

10. Invite Them To YOUR Child’s party. I mean, it’s only proper. We can’t invite you to our parties year in, year out yet only hear about you hosting parties never having received an invite in return. I get that as our kids grow older they decide who they want at their parties and that you’re not under any obligation to invite us, but I feel that at some point it’s only polite to return the favour.

xoxo!

My 3 Step Guide To A Great Playdate

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As a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom, playdates are a crucial part of my survival. They mean a break from our usual monotony. You know, the one where I shout things and the kids pretend to listen for about a minute then get right back to doing the things that made me shout in the first place. They mean rainbows and roses, because the kids are excited- either about having friends over or visiting friends. They mean I am a superhero because, on that day, I made rainbows and roses happen.

Still, any parent that has planned a playdate will tell you that careful consideration goes into its planning. Here is my current, very simple, guide to what I consider a great playdate :

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1. My Kids rapport with the kids we’re having a playdate with. If I’m being honest, there are two types of playdates that I plan. One with kids Kamau wants to hang out with and one with friends I want to hang out with who have kids around Kamau or Kui’s age. At the end of the day, however, the most important thing is how well my kids and your kids get along. No matter how much I like you, personally, I am unlikely to suggest a playdate if our kids may end up in a wrestling match.

2. Simplicity. As much as I am big on preparation before a playdate, I don’t mean the kind where it feels as if I am planning a mini cocktail party. The best kind of playdates are those where the other mom and I are just so happy to see our kids happy to see each other that we’re happy to simply sit and watch them. The kind where the kids can have pasta or hot dogs and whomever one of us that’s hosting doesn’t feel the pressure to prep a three course meal.

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3. A whole lot of stepping back and letting the kids just be. Here’s one way to ruin what would otherwise be a great momcation- scheduled activities on a playdate. Now, I know that some parents prefer to plan activities (and I respect this), but I just let the kids be. They’re usually excited to get together and show off their rooms or favourite toys or this or the other that I feel a schedule simply puts unwanted pressure on the hosting parent. Leaving the kids to run around or play in a room where they won’t break anything, with the occasional checking in on them, leaves us moms with a chance to just chill.

Bonus: The mom playdate. My kids are still too young to be dropped off on a playdate and picked later so I have to go with them on their playdates. Also, except on the few occassions where a mom drops the kids off at my house and leaves because she has to work or run errands, I end up hosting the moms too. You will be surprised how many friendships are forged on playdates between moms who otherwise wouldn’t have thought they had anything in common beyond having kids in the same class.

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We’re really not fussy. We’re happy you agreed to join us for a playdate and hope that you enjoy your time with us enough to want to have us over. Right now, a playdate is as simple as calling up a mom whose child Kamau wants to hang out with or a friend I have missed who has kids that enjoy spending time with my kids. The best part about playdates, in my opinion, is that break from our regular schedule which can be like a breath of fresh air for us moms.

xoxo!

Things Kui Is Saying

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When she wakes up, “hep me! hep me!” Because she still can’t climb out of bed. Also, whenever she needs help with anything. Sometimes when she falls and needs help getting up.

Isa and Mamau. Her partners in crime.

“I here!” When she forgets that she was supposed to be hiding during a game of hide and seek. Lisa and Kamau know that calling her name is the easiest way to find her.

“Here.” When she wants to sit on the couch and is pointing to the area she wants to sit on. Or when she hurts herself and is pointing out where it hurts.

“I dowant.” If she doesn’t want it, she doesn’t want it. That goes for me begging her to give me a kiss or asking her to finish a snack.

“Ankyu!” She will thank you when you give her a glass of water. She will thank you when you change her diaper. She will thank you when you help her up a step. It’s the sweetest thing.

“Soii.” She will apologize even when she is owed the apology.

“Hi daddy.” When she sees her father. Any time of the day. Even if she had seen him just three minutes before. It’s always, “hi daddy” when she sees him.

Chew mum. Chewing gum. Every piece of paper she finds in the house could have been a chewing gum wrapper. The phrase often comes with an accusatory stare. Who had chew mum and didn’t share with me?

Come. When she wants to go somewhere and you MUST take her.

Go. When she’s done with you. She has a bad habit of clicking. So you’ll know she’s REALLY done with you when she clicks after the “go!”

“I comin!” When you call out her name and she answers, “yesh!” and then runs your way as she declares, “I comin!”

Prips. Crisps. Pips. Chips. You need to know the difference so you know what she’s hollering for, when she’s hollering for it.

“Hand!” She wants you to take her hand as she walks.

“Wok! Wok!” When you’re carrying her and she wants to be put down to walk.

“Carr me!” With an accent. Possibly Kuinese. When she remembers that she can still cash in her getting carried around priviledge.

Oter. Water.

Ik. Milk.

“Bite!” When she wants a bite of your food. Which sometimes ends in her eating half the food on your plate.

Biper. When we’re changing her diaper. Sometimes when she’s done a poop and wants her diaper changed. Also, “toilet” whose purpose she now fully understand. She will prep her little potty which I have placed next to the commode in our bathroom. We are definitely ready for potty training. (Which I am DREADING!)

Baby. Every person her size or smaller is a baby, but not her. She is Kui or Ku-Kui and will tell you as much if you ask her what her name is.

“They fit!” She shouts this whenever she puts on a pair of shoes. Hers or Kamau’s. Or mine. Whether they fit or not.

“There!” When she does something she feels is worthy of praise. Sometimes followed by, “I did it!” and that expectant look where she waits for you to applaud what she has done.

“Gunait.” Usually how we end our day. And if I hover too long at the door, “go!”

xoxo!

My Feature On The Xander Blog

I am pretty excited to have been featured on the Xander Blog as a Xander mom. We are really enjoying their Swahili apps which I spoke about here and when they reached out to me to answer a few questions for the feature I was super excited.

Here’s the interview as featured on their website:

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Xander Mom: Wangari

This week and we have awesome working mom and blogger, Wangari, all the way from Nairobi, Kenya. She took some time out to talk to us about her lovely family, parenting and her blog.

Tell us about yourself?

My name is Wangari and I am a wife, mother, entrepreneur as well as a family blogger at inmamaswords.com.

Tell us about your blog?

My blog is a place where moms can be honest about their journey through motherhood. I had my first child at 23 which is why I started writing the blog. I was young and afraid and thought of all the women in my situation and just wanted them to have a place where they could feel less alone and where we could all learn together. It’s a place where we don’t know it all and aren’t afraid to talk about feeling overwhelmed. It’s a place where we learn from each other.

How do you feel about using technology as part of learning?

I feel that in today’s world, technology is a major part of a child’s development. Keeping them away from it is like locking them out of a world that offers so much more than human interaction alone can offer.

What are your kids favourite apps?

They are currently into the Pinkfong App, the Xander Swahili apps and Endless Reader.

What do you love about living and raising your children in Kenya?

My entire family is here. On both sides. That knowledge that I have them as a support system is very comforting.

Suppertime tips for parents with young children?

Serve dinner early so that they make it through the meal before fatigue checks in.

TV “Yes” or “No”?

Yes, with a mix of other indoor and outdoor activities.

What is in the lunchbox?

A cheese sandwich and an apple. This is our picky eater staple.

How do you balance it all – in one sentence?

I run my business from home.

Do your children do chores at home, if so what and how do you manage it?

My oldest is five and he just started making his bed in the morning and is now helping clear the table after meals. He is also learning to sweep the kitchen floor after I prepare a meal.

What is your favourite holiday plans/ activities with kids?

We love the outdoors. Anything that gets us out of the house like football practice or swimming on a warm afternoon or a vacation at a place where these activities are offered is always a winner.

You can check out Wangari’s blog In Mamas Words here and catch up with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you haven’t tried their apps, be sure to. They are a fun way for our kids to learn Swahili (they also offer Afrikaan, Xhosa, Zulu, Tswana and English) especially for kids in schools where Swahili (or other mother tongue languages) isn’t offered as part of the school curriculum.

xoxo!

Our Top 3 Kids Apps

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Last year, for Christmas we (or should I say Santa) got Kamau the Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition tablet. As parents we all struggle with how much screen time our kids should have and whether or not TV, phones, tablets and iPads are good for kids. I feel this is one of those things that vary from family to family and for which we all need to respect each other’s decisions on. (Hopes to avert a mommy war on the topic.)

I have mentioned, here , before that we allow gadgets in our house. They are great for keeping the kids occupied especially, truth be told, when you need some quiet time around the house. And when you are driving around with kids in the backseat of your car. One of the things that was most attractive to us about the Amazon tablet is the fact that you can set a total screen time limit. This means that after the set time your child isn’t able to use the tablet. This helps us limit how much time he spends on the tablet each day.

We also use goal limits which I found was especially great with Lisa, as an older child. The goal was that every time she wanted a new game, she’d have to read a book first. (There’s quite a selection of books available for free.) You can set up parental controls so that the kids cannot download any games without a password from you. You can go a step further, as we have done, and set it up based on their age so that they have no access to any games or activity considered to be outside their age bracket.

There are so many interactive apps out there, but we have three that are currently our favourites.

1. The PinkFong App

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We first discovered PinkFong when Kui and I stumbled upon the Baby Shark song on YouTube. It was our door into a whole other world. PinkFong has all kinds of apps. From nursery rhymes that Kui loves to sing along to (she will sing “doo doo doo doo doo doo” when she wants to watch some rhymes) to educational apps for Kamau. They have numbers and ABC Phonics and a Dino World app that Kamau loves because they had a school project on dinosaurs. He is currently into teaching anyone that will listen about the difference between a bulldozer and an excavator. Something he learned on this app. He gets excited when he spots them on the side of the road and will go on and on about which does what. We recently bought him a Lego that can be constructed into a bulldozer, excavator and dump truck based on this new found fascination.

2. Xander Swahili Apps

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These I personally love and have incorporated them as a part of our at-home studying. Kiswahili isn’t a part of Kamau’s school curriculum and when the guys at Xander asked if I knew about their Swahili apps I was pretty excited! We started out with Swahili 123 which helps the kids learn their numbers in Kiswahili. He got so into it and it became a fun way for him and Lisa to learn Swahili. I give him a few minutes to go over a section on his own and then I quiz him on what he has learned after. The 123 app also offers us a chance to work on our numeracy skills as they have this section where kids can hone their skills by counting beads and animal characters. I love that the app has a narrator whom I tell Kamau is his Kiswahili teacher. She has a soothing voice that walks the kids through each activity. They also have Swahili shapes and colours and Swahili wardrobe. I, honestly, wasn’t great at Kiswahili in school and still won’t speak it voluntarily (I have a Nyeri accent like our former president) so I am also enjoying learning things with Kamau. PS: To find the Xander apps on Amazon, you need to search for “Ever Africa Group.”

3. Endless Reader

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My friend Nancy told me about this app and we love it! It’s great for readers like Kamau that are just starting out. I love that on top of helping him learn to read new words, it encourages him to learn how to spell. This is great since they have dictation tests every week in school. This app makes reading, something I feel is a sensitive issue for early learners, fun. The way the characters appear from time to time to engage with the kids and the funny noises the app makes as the kids try to spell out words (Kamau is particularly into ‘f’). From my experience with Kamau, kids can easily feel intimidated based on their environment as they learn how to read. You need to be patient and make the child see how exciting learning to read on their own can be. I like reminding him that if he learns to read on his own, he can read his favourite bedtime stories whenever he wants to, and not just at bedtime. Endless reader brings fun into reading which I feel is a wonderful way to nurture reading in our young ones.

I think technology if used in moderation and with supervision can be a great learning tool for kids. If we can find a balance between screen time and human interaction, then our kids are constantly learning new things form different sources.

Let me know what kids apps you and your young ones are into. We’d love to give them a try.

xoxo!

Summer Break Hacks For The SAHM

Image Credit: Village Family Mag

Image Credit: Village Family Mag

Let’s be honest. Summer break has got to be one of the most difficult times for any SAHM. It can turn into one long, (seemingly) never ending nightmare if not properly planned for. I should know. Last year was my first year as a SAHM and Summer break hit me with a needy pre-schooler at my feet and an attached-to-the-boob five month old on my bosom.

The first thing you think of when you wake up is, “I need this day to go by as fast as possible.” This, I have realized, is pretty much the trick to surviving the two months at home with my kids. Anything that keeps them busy and makes the day go by faster is a win.

I am better prepared this year. Mostly psychologically. Also, the kids have grown quite a bit since last year which also makes managing them that much easier. Here are a few of my Summer Break hacks.

1. Summer Camp

If you plan this just right, and the kids start Summer Camp at the right time, you can actually pretend school never closed to begin with. The schools almost always offer some school sponsored programs that go on til noon. These are great because the kids get to hang out with their school friends. Karen Country Club have this even better schedule that has the kids away til 4 pm! Tennis, Golf, Crafts and lots of other fun activities. Summer Camp is great for keeping the kids occupied and I love that you don’t need to do it everyday- from a cost perspective. I feel like you get both- days where you can hang and bond with the kids and days where you get to take a break for the sake of your sanity.

2. Play Dates

This has to be the mother of all hacks. Honestly, what would moms do without play dates? The best are those with friends that have kids your kids age. The ones that you can sit with and compare Summer Break hacks with as the kids play. Even better, the ones that understand something pressing you need to do (such as sitting in a quiet house so you don’t lose your mind) and are OK with you leaving your kids with them for an hour or two.

3. Schedules

Planning is everything. Whether you do it every evening after you tuck the kids in bed, on a weekly basis or have a sophisticated schedule like Claire Dunphy from Modern Family. You cannot survive two months at home with children without some sort of planning. Schedules come as simple as knowing what time the kids wake up, what time they eat, when they sleep and how to plan your day around these times. It is about having some semblance of structured time so you don’t have little people hollering, “mommy!” every minute of the day. I have incorporated little chores for Kamau. Spreading his bed, cleaning up after himself, watching his sister, sweeping the kitchen. Like I said, anything that keeps the kids busy is good for you.

4. Taking Them Along For Errands

I bring Kamau along with me during my shoe deliveries. He is fast becoming an essential part of ShoestruckKe 🙂 If he is in the house on one of my delivery days, I will take him with me. It fills his day and also gives us a chance to spend some one on one time together. I also think that car drives are great in the way that kids cannot seem to stay awake while on them.

5. Early Bedtime

I don’t change my kids bedtime because we’re on school break. Nuh uh. 8 pm is quite likely my most favourite time of the day. It is only after 8 pm that I get to watch uninterrupted TV, eat a meal while it’s still hot and not worry about getting asked to find a toy. I love that early bedtimes during school breaks still, somehow, go hand in hand with late mornings. With Kui now out of our room and sleeping through the night, I am now getting in some much earned sleep.

44 Days to go!

xoxo!