Monday, September 29, 2014

One Thousand Gifts, 45-54

45. hints of fall
46. the fun the kids and I had at our last splash pad adventure of the season
47. sweet friends who meet us for picnics at the park
48. watching my babies grow and learn
49. hearing JJ say, "Mama, I need to tell you something" over and over again
50. listening to Annie sing her little heart out
51. pumpkin spice candles
52. weeding the flower beds--cathartic
53. seeing my kids play with their great-grandparents
54. watching football and eating pizza with my hubby

Friday, September 26, 2014

Our First Foray into "School"

We started our home preschool earlier this month. So far it has been a smashing success. We do about 30 minutes of school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Though Annie asks to do school everyday. :) Annie and JJ are definitely in the little sponge stage--they soak up so many things and I wanted to help them focus on a few areas a bit more.

First, we look at our wall calendar (I ordered this one from Amazon). We go over the season, month, date, year, day of the week, and choose the weather for that day. Annie was particularly impressed by the first day of autumn (a fancy word for fall!) and wants to know when the leaves are going to change colors and fall of the trees.

Then we have Bible time, which we do every morning. I read them a few verses (we are reading Proverbs now) and talk about them a little bit, do our catechism (I am very pleased with My First Book of Questions and Answers, by Carine MacKenzie--and JJ and Annie love to ask and answer questions a this age), work on our memory verse, and sing a hymn. I'm teaching them a new one each week.

We do a few pages in our phonics book (Phonics Pathways). Right now we are doing short vowel sounds, and we are going very slowly. They haven't made the connection between letter sounds and reading yet, but I figure it won't hurt to start learning the sounds at least.

We also play some kind of math/shapes/colors/sorting game. Last week I used dinosaur manipulatives in different colors. One day we sorted them all by color and then counted them, one day we put them in groups of three, one day we played around with simple addition and subtraction. Annie is very, very good at this (unlike her math-challenged Mama!).

We have a theme that changes every couple of weeks. I just get lots of books from the library and we do an art project that ties in with it. It is mostly to do with seasons, holidays, or things I think they should learn (right now we are doing a Patriotism theme--I realized at the football game they don't know the National Anthem or Pledge of Allegiance; we are going to cover safety in a few weeks--what to do if there's a fire, how to handle strangers, that kind of thing).

On Mondays we go for a nature walk. JJ loves this and he usually finds a dead bug or worm while I try to encourage his curiosity and not freak out. On Wednesdays we focus on a gross or fine motor skill we are trying to master, like hopping on one foot. And on Fridays we do a simple art project. JJ is great at these--he has the hang of scissors and glue sticks, for sure!

That's it, pretty much. The kids enjoy it and it gives a little more structure to the learning we do all day long. But I keep it light and if something's not working we just move on.

I get lots of encouragement from Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer's book The Well-Trained Mind. I love the classical education method because it makes so much sense. But I also love their focus on teaching kids to love to learn, and not stressing over the details when they are so young. "The best early teaching you can give your child is to immerse her in language from birth" (p. 57). And that's what we do. We don't watch television. They have a few movies they watch occasionally, for about half an hour twice a week or so. I just never got into the habit of using the tv as a babysitter and so the kids don't see it as an option. They are pretty good at playing and entertaining themselves when Mama is busy. We read a lot of books of all kinds every day. And we talk all day long, about what we are doing, what is coming next, how we feel about that, why we did something that way, how many forks do we need to set the table, etc. It is rarely quiet around here!

Right now Annie and JJ are encountering new things all the time, and they are fascinated by so much that I gloss over. I stand back and see what they are interested in, and then find them new information about those things. I love this paragraph from Wise and Bauer: "We feel that there's little point in following a formal, academic K-4 or K-5 curriculum at home. Rather, the first four or five years of a child's life should be spent in informal teaching--preparing the child for first-grade work. In about thirty minutes per day, plus informal teaching as you go about your family life, you can easily teach your child beginning reading, writing, and math concepts, all without workbooks or teacher's manuals" (p. 60). "You should aim to teach reading and math in the same way that you taught the child to speak, to tie her shoes, to dress, to clean up after herself--by demonstrating the basic skills yourself, practicing them for a few minutes each day, and talking about them as you go through the routines of life" (p. 61).

That's all for now...I'm sure this will be an ever-changing road!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Our Happy Place

We spent a long weekend at the beach. Perfect farewell to summer! The weather was beautiful and the kids even slept some (a rarity when we are away from home). Also, the beach + college football = winning combination. Next time we make a beach trip we will have another little one in tow--yikes!

Checking out the waves with Poppa
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Sophie, her tongue, and baby!
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JJ learned how to fill and carry his own bucket. Success!
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Annie loves the beach as much as her Mama does.
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Peanut and Daddy
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Peanut and Mama
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These cuties. Love them so much.
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Getting sandy with Honey
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Kite-flying with Daddy
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Monday, September 22, 2014

One Thousand Gifts, 39-44

39. children who are loving their first introduction to "school"
40. seeing more of Sophie's personality emerge
41. spending quiet time with my husband
42. a long weekend at the happy place
43. the joy on Annie and JJ's faces as we explore God's earth on our nature walks
44. the insights the Lord is showing me as I study Moses through Bible Study Fellowship

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

First Family Meeting

The Gent and I had our first family meeting with Annie and JJ a couple of weeks ago. As parents, we had slipped up on making our kids obey the first time we asked them to do something. I kept finding myself repeating requests multiple times before following through on compliance. Summer traveling and pregnancy derailed us some, but let's be honest, "get off your rear" parenting is exhausting (but effective)! I also felt like discipline was somewhat erratic and the kids weren't clear on the consequences of their misbehavior. So we all sat down together and went over the foundation for authority in our home, laid out our expectations, and what Annie and JJ's responsibilities are. The meeting went well and the past few weeks have gone more smoothly, after we won a few rounds with our strong-willed daughter. Trying to be consistent in all's hard but worth it!

Family Meeting Agenda

What do you think the word “authority” means?

Right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience

Do you know what the Bible says about authority?

God’s Word tells us that God loves us and He wants us to obey Him. Mommies and daddies are under God’s authority, and God puts boys and girls under their mommy’s and daddy’s authority. It is our job to teach you how to obey God.

In Ephesians 6, God says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Lately Mommy and Daddy have been slipping up on making you obey. That is probably confusing for you. We are sorry and we are going to do a better job.

From now on, when Mommy or Daddy ask you to do something, you will do it right away.

Like when Mommy says, “please clean up your toys” you will immediately start to put the toys away. If you don’t obey the first time you are asked to do something, you will be disciplined to help you remember that you are under God’s authority and you must obey.

Discipline means you will be sent to time-out, where you will sit quietly until your timer goes off and Mommy or Daddy come to get you. Or you will lose a privilege, like eating dessert or having a favorite toy taken away for a day.

If you are in the middle of something that you would like to finish, like doing a puzzle or building a block tower, you may respectfully ask Mommy or Daddy if you may finish before cleaning up.

How could you ask respectfully?

“Mommy, before I clean up my toys, may I finish my puzzle?” Sometimes Mommy will say yes and sometimes she will say no. Your job is to immediately follow-through on what Mommy asks you to do.

Do you understand what we just talked about?

When Mommy or Daddy tell you to do something, what should you do? (do it right away)

Why? (because God tells us to honor and obey our parents)

Monday, September 15, 2014

One Thousand Gifts, 33-38

It was a challenging week around here, dealing with lots of fostering stuff (lots of twists and turns in JJ's case lately) and sickness. But thankful for our supportive family and friends and our faithful, risen Lord!

33. Praying friends and family
34. Wise counsel
35. Our sovereign God
36. A Saturday morning off for Mama
37. Tiny hints of fall weather
38. A great beginning to home “preschool”

Friday, September 12, 2014

Munchkin: Five Months

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Five months along and here we are! Baby girl is growing quickly and her movements are getting stronger everyday. I am feeling great and enjoying being pregnant. Excited to be past the halfway point!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Munchkin at 20 Weeks!

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Baby girl looks healthy and is a wiggler! The Gent and I enjoyed watching her dance around on the screen. Her name is decided but won't be announced until she's born. Have to have some element of surprise! Annie and JJ are excited about another baby sister and Sophie smiles a lot but doesn't really understand yet. The placenta is a little low but the doctor doesn't think it will cause any problems. Praying it moves up a bit as baby grows. I'll have another ultrasound at 28 weeks to make sure. Yay baby pictures!

Monday, September 8, 2014

One Thousand Gifts, 23-32

23. a family walk
24. big kids figuring out their tricycles
25. a restful afternoon for all
26. seeing the kids with their great-grandparents
27. 15 minutes for prenatal yoga
28. prepping for preschool for Annie and JJ
29. an afternoon with no work that I can spend reading
30. finding out Munchkin is a girl!
31. washing machines
32. a new year for our growth group

Friday, September 5, 2014

Munchkin Gender Reveal!

In case you missed it on Instagram: Munchkin is a . . .

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Also, for the record, the Gent and I were right. :) Everyone else thought this baby was a boy, but her Daddy and I knew another precious girl would be joining our family!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sophie: 15 Months

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This little cutie pie is just getting more and more fun every day! This month she has taken a few steps, but still prefers crawling. She pushes up from the floor and stands on her own. She understands a lot of what we say--I've been underestimating her comprehension. She says about a dozen words. Some new ones this month are ball and banana. Sophie loves to brush her teeth, pretend to talk on my phone, and make messes in the play kitchen. She is mostly wearing 12-18 month clothes, though the pajamas are still a bit big. She weighs 18 lbs, 8 oz (16th percentile) and is 29.5 inches tall (19th percentile). In other news, Sophie adores her sippy cup and throws temper tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants. She makes the funniest expressions and she still loves to snuggle when she's in the mood for it. She is almost weaned, down to just her morning nursing. Our sweet little-big girl, we love watching her grow!

Monday, September 1, 2014

One Thousand Gifts, 17-22

17. the Gent for staying up all night with JJ and his stomach bug
18. that even if JJ is sick, he's here with us
19. an eventful weekend to celebrate my mom's birthday
20. Tyler and Kayla's baby girl on the way
21. some reassurance and a plan for the current parenting stage
22. a holiday from work