Tag Archives: bellevue

New classes start in January

Bellevue College Parent Education program

For readers in the Puget Sound area: all our local community colleges have parent education programs which offer fabulous, developmentally appropriate, play-based learning for kids and support and education for parents.

Although most are school-year-long programs, some will add new sessions in January. And almost all will add more kids to existing programs IF there’s space available. So, if you’re interested, call the program registrar and see what your options are!

I know in the Bellevue College system, in January we will add:

  • Tuesday evening class for Infants and Wobblers
  • Wednesday afternoon class for Infants
  • Friday morning class for toddlers (age 15 months – 27 months on January 1). I’ll be the parent educator for this one.

I also know I will have a small handful of spaces in each of my other classes:

Come join us!

Creative Development Lab

I am excited that this year my son has the chance to participate in the Creative Development Lab offered by Bellevue College Parent Education. It’s a weekly arts enrichment program for ages 3 – 5. Kids attend every week. Parents work in the classroom 6 times a year and also attend a monthly parent education session.

Check out the video at the top of this post to see all the great activities we did in ONE DAY this fall.(If you want to try out any of the arts activities with your child at home, you can learn how on our Pinterest page: www.pinterest.com/bcparented/)

And there were even more great activities at CDL that day that the video doesn’t show!

  • The kids made their own applesauce by squashing up a baked apple with a potato masher and sprinkling on cinnamon sugar.
  • There was a free collage station, where they could gather their own cool materials from lots of baskets of goodies and glue them together any way they wanted to.
  • There were blocks, and puzzles, and books in the center room. They also do imaginative play and circle time.
  • At the end of class, they go outside for riding trikes, pulling wagons, bouncing balls, and playing in the sandbox.
  • This was also parent education day, so the parents were in the other room discussing temperament with our parent educator.

I’m loving this program!

Some parents choose it because their child is an art-focused kid who just can’t get enough of the art projects they do at home. I actually choose it because I have a really outdoorsy, active boy. At home he has a hard time settling in to art projects, and I also don’t offer them as much as I should because… well, no good reason really…. I just don’t always think of it. So I love having this dedicated time in his week for him to explore art and the joy of creating things.

Changing my blog name: Why “More Good Days”

I’ve changed the name of my blog, from Bellevue Toddlers to More Good Days. The new address is:  www.gooddayswithkids.com

Why change from Bellevue Toddlers? Because:

  • my blog is appropriate for parents everywhere, not just Bellevue
  • I write about more than toddlers – although my strongest focus is on age 1 – 4, the content is appropriate for parents of children birth to 5.

Why change to More Good Days? Because it’s a theme that weaves throughout my teaching in various ways:

  • When working with pregnant women and discussing nutrition, exercise, and so on, I say “I’m going to tell you all the ideas I know of for increasing your chances of a healthy pregnancy and birth, but I’m not telling you that you have to do every one of these things! I’m giving ideas, and you’ll do as many of them as you can make work in your life. And some days you’ll eat perfectly, and other days you’ll grab beef jerky and raisins at the 7-11 because that’s the only way you can get “lunch” that day. It’s OK. Babies are resilient – they won’t suffer for a few bad days here and there. We just shoot for more good days than bad… the more healthy choices the better.”
  • When teaching breastfeeding, if people raise concerns about not “succeeding” at breastfeeding, I say “I’m going to give you all the ideas I can to help increase your chance of reaching your goals, and I’m going to give you lots of resources for where you can go for help, and you’re going to do the best you can. Hopefully you reach or exceed your goals for how long you nurse baby. But sometimes life happens, and women don’t nurse as long as they had hoped. I want you to remember that even a few days of breastmilk has health benefits for baby, and the more days of breastfeeding they get, the better for them and for mom. So focus on those good days and how much good you did for baby on those days.
  • When teaching newborn care or teaching parents of babies and toddlers, I tell parents “You’re not going to be a perfect parents. None of us are. There will be days (or at least moments each day) when you feel like a fabulous parent – like you’re really succeeding at this whole parenting gig! And there will be days when you’re a crappy parent. Days when you find yourself saying or doing something that you never thought you’d say or do. Days when you just really feel like you screwed up. When you have those days – or those moments each and every day – keep moving on. Seek out advice and new ideas on how to do better, seek out support for yourself on this path, and learn about what resources there are for you and your child. You’ll continue trying to do the best you can every day, and you hope that in the long run, when you look back, you’ll say that there have been more good days than bad.”

So, really “more good days” is about finding a balance. Doing the best you can. Finding more information, support and resources to help you do better. And forgiving yourself for the bad days.

I also think that part of what determines whether something is a ‘good day’ or a ‘bad day’ is our attitude. Some days feel like there’s problem after problem, and every little thing pushes us closer to the edge, and we find ourselves saying “what a crappy day! Why does this keep happening? I hate my life!!” Other days, everything feels easy and fine, and all those little annoyances slide right off.

Yesterday morning with my son, I was relaxed and mellow and all was fine with the world, and then… he pooped in the bathtub. (I think that’s the first time for him… so it’s been many years since I last had to deal with this.) But, it was OK. I cleaned him up, I cleaned up the bathtub, and then he pooped in the potty, which is always worthy of celebration. It was all fine – it was a good day.
But then yesterday afternoon, it was so hot in the house that he couldn’t go down for his nap in his room upstairs (we live in Seattle – we have no air conditioning because we only need it five days a year – but yesterday was one of those days!!). So, he’s “napping” on the couch. But he’s not. And I’m trying to work. But I’m not. And he’s making a mess with all his toys, and I’m asking him to clean it up. And he’s not. And I should be calm and reasonable in asking him to clean it up and go back to his couch. But I’m not. And now, it is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.
And really, it was all about my attitude. But even knowing that, it’s hard to shift out of it in the moment.
But, we did shift out of it – we had a fabulous evening in the splash park and watching outdoor Shakespeare with the whole family.
And it was so joyful for me to watch my three year old in the water, trying out all his new skills from swimming class and laughing and playing with all the other toddlers. And it was so joyful for me to watch my 20 year old – my theater major daughter – enjoying the show – laughing at some beautiful moments of physical comedy.
In the end, it was a very good day.

Every day, parents have experiences like these. The good moments, the bad moments. Parenting can definitely be “all joy, and no fun.” In the hard moments, we wonder why we put ourselves through it. And then in the joyful moments, we realize that there’s really nothing better than watching a child learn and grow.
We had our two girls, and thought for years (13 years!) that we were done. Then we decided that we loved parenting enough that we wanted to do it again. Before getting pregnant, my husband and I had lots of long conversations about what we were getting into, and all the non-fun parts of parenting that were ahead. But we decided it was worth it for the joy. And what a joy our little boy is.
And every day, I work to find the same balance I encourage in my students. Doing the best I can. Finding more information, support and resources to help me do better. Forgiving myself for the bad days. And hoping that in the long run, there are more good days than bad.

Cheap Dates with Toddlers: Nature’s Playgrounds


Peter Kirk Park, Kirkland, WA. Click to enlarge photos

Sometimes, parks have to take out trees – they’re old, they’re damaged by insects or lightning or whatever. That’s always sad. But, when you’re really lucky, the park does this! At Peter Kirk Park in downtown Kirkland, when they took out a tree (or cluster of trees?) recently, they left the stumps behind, in a perfect toddler and kid playground adventure!

My three year old loves playing on these, but so do kids of all ages. Unlike modern playgrounds, they’re not standardized sizes and shapes, with the exact measured distance between objects and a scientifically designed surface beneath. They’re just four stumps, of different heights that you can climb up, perch on, jump off. Fabulous!

If you live in the area, come check them out (but be sure to park on the street or at the library – the shopping center says they’ll tow park users). If you’re not local look for similar lucky finds in your neighborhood!

We also found a great set of stumps at Bridle Trails Park in Bellevue, next to the arena.

Bridle Trails State Park, Bellevue, WA

Bridle Trails State Park, Bellevue, WA

To learn more about kids and nature, just click on ‘nature activities’ in the right hand side bar.


Cheap Dates: Swimming!

Peter Kirk, Bellevue, Renton pools

Peter Kirk, Bellevue, Renton pools

It’s summer time! (Well, some days it is – yesterday during my son’s swim lesson it was 55 degrees and pouring rain… but better weather is coming, right?) So it’s time to check out your local swimming pool!

Here are some great games to play in the water with your child and some recommended local pools (for those of my readers who live on the Eastside of Seattle).

Some games to play in the water:

Motor boat: In a shallow pool, you can have your child sit on the bottom of the pool and kick their legs. In a deeper pool, you can hold your child, or have her put her back to the wall and hang on with her hands, then kick her legs. As she kicks, chant:”Motor boat, motor boat, go so slow. Motor boat, motor boat, go so fast. Motor boat, motor boat, run out of gas.”

Bubble, bubble, pop. Sing “All the fish are swimming in the water” (click here for video and lyrics)  When you’re singing about fish swimming, move your child around in the water, when you sing about ducks paddling, paddle your hands, then frogs jump and children splash. When you get to the part about “bubble, bubble splash”, raise your child in the air as you sing bubble… then splash down on the word splash.

Trot, Trot: Sing Trot Trot to Boston, bouncing your child on the trotting part, and splashing down on “watch out baby or you might fall IN.”

Practice blowing bubbles in the water. Bring something that floats (rubber duck, ball, etc.), throw it, chase it, catch it floating in the water and throw it again. Bring a plastic cup or watering can in the pool with you, scoop and pour.

Why swim?

Well, first and foremost, water safety is an essential skill to teach your child! We can’t count on swim lessons to “drown proof” a child, but certainly the more familiar they are with water, the better!

Second, research shows the following benefits for swimming for kids: swimmers outperform non-swimmers in balance, movement, grasping skills, higher IQ’s, strengthened all their muscles, were more self-confident, etc.

Finally, its fun. Most kids love playing in the water! It’s also fun and engaging for the parent – at a playground I may sit on the sidelines and check out Facebook on my phone, but at the pool, I have to be fully aware of and involved with my child – it’s good for me to give him my full focus. And, my kids always sleep better at naptimes and at night on days when they were in the pool.

Some great local pools:

Peter Kirk Pool – in downtown Kirkland. Outdoor pool, open only in the summertime. Check their schedule here. They’ve got a big pool, of course, but I love them for the wading pool – it’s shallow enough for my short 3 year old to walk in, but nice and big so plenty of kids can play. $4 per person.

Bellevue Aquatic Center. It’s indoors, so not as much fun in the summer. BUT it’s the best pool for babies and young toddlers, because they have the Warm Springs pool, which is kept at 91 degrees – not quite the temperature of a warm bath, but almost! The ramp and stairs into the pool are great shallow places for toddlers to explore (just make sure you stay out of the way of people coming in!), there’s a shallow end of the pool and a 5′ deep end of the pool. It’s used as a therapy pool so there are usually elderly people and people who are in rehab for a physical injury there as well as parents and babies. Check the schedule here. Fee is around $6.75 per person.

Henry Moses Aquatic Center in Renton. We’re planning to try this one soon! It’s a little more Theme Park like, with big slides and a lazy river. They say it has a toddler play area. Costs are $4 for Renton kids 1-4, $8 for non-resident toddlers; adults are $8 resident, $14 non-resident.

Do you have a favorite local pool? Or favorite game to play in the pool with little ones?

[Note: this post is part of a series called “Cheap Dates with Toddlers” about fun, cheap activities that kids age one to five (and their parents) can enjoy. Many include recommendations that are specific to Seattle/the Eastside, but hopefully most of the core ideas apply to all parents everywhere….]