A Year of Catch-Up

Recapping the past year in one post…

I will start with April, since I did happen to post up through last March.

April: Peanut turned 7 years old and wanted a “Rainbow Party”. Many friends came, and they all had a blast.

rainbowparty
Party Table

 

rainbow cake
Fondant and Buttercream Rainbow Cake

May: My twin sister and I had a quick three day trip back to San Diego to support our sister in the loss of her daughter at 30 weeks gestation.

June: Wonderful news, I was pregnant, and so thrilled.

July: My twin sister and I hosted a yard sale, Peanut had a very successful lemonade sale, and the next day I had some concerns, which resulted in an ultrasound. The test showed one healthy baby and one “non-viable egg sac”. One week later a follow up ultrasound at about 6 weeks, and both babies had not survived. Oh. And I turned 30.

August: Three weeks after the  devastating news, I finally miscarried. I was hospitalized due to blood loss. It took me three weeks to build my blood levels back I up to where I could stand for more than a few minutes, and clean my house. We also started second grade for Peanut. And I made a wedding cake for my neighbor. (Probably shouldn’t have done that- healthwise.)

wedding cake for neighbor
wedding cake for neighbor

September: I took on the role of co-teacher for our homeschool group.

October: Bubba turned 3; we celebrated with a Pirate Party. Bubba and his cousin dressed up as Jake and Captain Hook for Halloween.

Bubba's Birthday Cake
Bubba’s Birthday Cake

 

The Birthday Pirate
The Birthday Pirate
Trick or Treating
Trick or Treating

 

November: I announced to the Facebook world that I was 12 weeks pregnant! (yes, again! the pregnancy in the summer wasn’t announced nor was the miscarriage, other than to family and close friends at church)

Baby at 12 Weeks
Baby at 12 Weeks

December: I honestly can’t believe it’s over already, but we reflected on the gift of God’s Son, made over 20 dozen cookies and enjoyed family and friends.

So, 2013 was truly an eventful year. It was filled with grief and sorrow, but also with wonderful memories, beautiful family moments, and so much love. I learned, last year, that God is faithful, no matter our Earthly circumstances. That submitting to His will brings about peace I couldn’t even imagine. I learned many things about myself, about my faith, and about my limitations. And I can honestly say that it was a good year. Not because of what happened during the year, but because the year was given to me as a gracious gift. And because I am a different person than I was last January.

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Preschool??

 

ImageYou know, I’ve been driving myself crazy the past few weeks with what to do with my 2 year old and homeschool. I mean, he’s going to be three this calendar year, and he has to start school right? Right?

I can’t *not* put him in some kind of formal education. You know?! Everyone’s kids are doing preschool- it’s the social norm. I even sent Peanut to the Private School down the street for prek at 3 and 4 years of age. And if he’s not in a preschool, then I sure and heck better be teaching him something, right? I mean, I better get cracking on those lesson plans and curricula for his every waking hour. When I taught Child Care, I paid big bucks for a curriculum because that’s what all the parents wanted their kids to be exposed to. So, I have to find something to fill his little mind with all the information that he should be learning right now!

/ end sarcasm here

Sheesh. I can’t believe I almost got sucked in to believing this again. Don’t worry, I’ll probably get sucked in to the “my kid can recite the alphabet forwards and backwards and multiply through 10 before his third birthday” comparison again in Bubba’s toddlerhood.

But for right now, this moment, I’m going to enjoy his toddlerhood. I’m going to crack up whenever he asks me if his ramen noodle is “the biggest I’ve ever SEEN??” (just imagine a grover-like voice and wide eyes as he holds a noodle above his head) and I’m going to tell him he drew a wonderful boat on my gas and electric bill. I’m going to let him cut his coloring pages with scissors, and run around the house like a madman, almost crashing his dump truck into the kitchen cabinets. 

We are going to read stories, and sing songs, and play with puzzles. (By the way- my kid can put together a 24 piece puzzle faster than any other two year old I know!) We are going to play ball, and build blocks and pretend to blast off to outer space. I’m going to let him “help” with cleaning the bathroom, and he’s going to stick that darn stepstool on my foot AGAIN while I’m cooking because he needs “to see what mama’s doing”. 

And just to satisfy that secret guilt and the wanna-be teacher inside of me, I found http://www.abcjesuslovesme.com for a free toddler curriculum that I’m going to be selectively picking and choosing from. Mainly just the Bible Curriculum. Because I need a reminder sometimes that he’s not too young to learn about what really matters.

And he’s going to watch Sissy do school every day most days. And one day, when he’s ready, he’s going to want to do it, too. 

Image

Sick Day

Ugh.

There is a bug in our house, and I have caught the brunt of it. My head aches, my chest feels full, my sinuses are loaded with pressure, and right now I feel like I’m on a commercial, talking to a smiling pharmacist in their white lab coat and fake smile. You know which commercial I’m talking about, right? The one where they point us viewers to aisle five.

Except I don’t like to take medicine. I can’t wrap my mind around taking a pill to stop a symptom my body obviously needed to create. I don’t know why I think my body wants every sinus in my head to be filled with mucus that’s just stuck there not moving, but I do. It goes along with the thinking that medicating a fever is a no-no. Or maybe it goes way, way past that thinking.

I did take that Emergen-C stuff that tastes like chalky, fizzy, raspberry chalk-water. A few times in the past few days. And I got worse.

But, I will count my blessings. Jeff came home today and told me that he was sick with a stomach bug. All I can say is, I’m glad I’m not puking. And I will only baby him if he stays home from work. (Which he said he won’t do.)

During this sick day, I didn’t get any chores done. But the sheets I ordered for my bed came from Amazon today (yay for two sets of sheets now!), so I managed to throw those in the washer.

I took the kids to the library for Preschool Story Time. It was a nice 1/2 hour where I didn’t have to think about anything.

Peanut just took a math test, copy work, and Bible Devotion, so it really didn’t take any effort from me.

Bubba played with the Fisher Price Farmhouse I dug out of the closet the other day (I still think it’s hilarious that he tells me it’s our new toy. It’s older than he is.) and he played with that most of the day. I put my bucket of animals with it. So there were lions and sharks and cows and elephants and snakes in the farm. We did, however, have a very educational discussion about what animals belong on the farm.

Lunch was macaroni with shredded cheese. When Jeff got home, we watched The Lorax, and then we fed the kids leftover pizza and put them to bed.

I really wish I didn’t feel so crummy. I missed a really great Bible Study with the girls from church tonight. We are studying Lies Women Believe, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Perhaps I will feel refreshed and renewed tomorrow and I can get my chores done, buy AAA batteries, do some cooking, and finish up Peanut’s school week with time to spare.

The Process in Childhood Activities

I had grand last minute plans for this afternoon. Peanut went with her dad for some “snow-caching” (her term for geocaching with snow on the ground), and it was just me and Bubba. After their spur of the moment departure, I quickly decided I was going to make up for the guilt I had been feeling for not putting my two year old through a more substantial “early learning regime”. Peanut had a much more structured toddlerhood.

While I was doing in-home child care, I either ordered a toddler curriculum, or wrote one for the small group I had. I haven’t done any of that with my little guy. My child care enrollment slowly dwindled down after he became a toddler, and I didn’t seek to add to the attendance. My desire to do group activities was also dwindling. I was thinking about this the past couple days, and I felt as though Bubba was missing out on more targeted learning activities.

Our together time today started when I broke out my playdough bucket, and found that there was maybe half an ounce of usable playdough left! I gave him what I had, then got out what I thought was my playdough recipe and started making more.

saltdough 009

After I mixed all the ingredients together, I realized this was my aunt’s Salt Dough recipe that is baked so it can harden. Oops! I changed our plans again. I finished making the salt dough an I decided I was going to incorporate some learning into this two year old’s time!

I sat down with him and began making letters for him, placing them on a cookie sheet. He wasn’t too happy with me. Before things got out of hand, I broke out my Christmas cutters, and started having him make shapes. We got two shapes on the cookie sheet, and those went into the oven before I realized that he didn’t want to bake them at all. How boring!

saltdough 001

It was at this moment that I realized what I had been doing wrong. I was trying so hard to give him a lesson to learn, a project to complete, and a tangible outcome. I had to remind myself that HE IS TWO YEARS OLD. The poor child does not care about the outcome. He doesn’t look at something and see a project to complete.

HE WILL LEARN THROUGH THE PROCESS.

I look back on that hour we spent at the dining table, and AFTER I learned my lesson, I can see so many lessons that Bubba learned.

Instead of making shapes to bake, I rolled the rest of the dough out for him to do with what he pleased. As he was picking out shapes, he started telling me the story of how we made cookies for Santa. He remembered this wonderful time with family and fun!

saltdough 002

I cut out a circle with him, and he said it looked like a snowman. So we built a snowman. And talked about all the pieces to a snowman. I added eyes and a mouth, and he suggested a nose. I added arms and a hat and he said it looked like the snowman from the book The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. He said it needed “the boy” from the book. Yay for literacy! I love incorporating books into activities, and he did it for me!

saltdough 005

I stepped in to the kitchen for a minute, and when I came back, Bubba had tried to pick up the snowman. He had pinched some of the dough and deformed the shape. He started whining, “Fix it Mommy! I can’t do it! Fix it!” I gave him a gentle nudge to fix it himself, and he replied back with, “I can’t! I’m just a boy! I’m just a Bubba! I can’t do it.” Eventually, he did whatever it was he was trying to do. (Sometimes I just have no idea.) He is working on understanding what he is capable of, and trying new things. 

saltdough 007

He tried to make a turtle with the playdough mold, and the sticky dough didn’t work. When he got upset about it, I asked him if he could make one himself. He wouldn’t, and I made a ball and called it “my” turtle. I pinched out a little piece and called that its head. I added two little nubs and called that its legs. I tried very hard to keep the shape as vague as possible, to see if he would accept it as a turtle, and he did. He made food for the turtle and added a longer tail for it. He was broadening his creativity, and stretching his imagination.

saltdough 006

It was only an hour, and I had planned on a nice, structured lesson for my son. It was in that hour that I was reminded of the most important lesson when it comes to teaching our young ones. It is the process of learning that teaches the most. I found, also, that once my perspective changed in this respect, my patience for him grew. Clean up time went much more smoothly. Not because he didn’t whine and refuse (he did), but because I was reminded that clean up time is PART of the process. And my response was much more calm.

saltdough 003

Math Project- Addition Facts

math 001
Ella is getting a little frustrated that she’s not catching on to her addition and subtraction facts as well as she could. Drilling her with flashcards is SO. BORING. I don’t blame her. It is. Let me tell you a little secret: I’m glad I’m not the one needing to memorize it. It would bore me to tears also. And, well, it’s the tears I’d like to avoid.

I have to say, I love the Internet. It would have taken me a minimum of three hours to open up Microsoft Word and create a Fact Family lapbook for Ella if it weren’t for the lovely search engines on the World Wide Web. The wonderful people over at Homeschoolshare.com already made one and posted for private use. I printed that .pdf out and spread it all over the living room floor.

What a mess

I started cutting out the pieces, and, of course, Bubba wanted to join in. So I ran over to my over-stocked craft closet, got out a pair of plastic scissors from my child care days, and handed it to him.

Bubba and scissors

I cut away, and Ella was bouncing with excitement. She actually started glueing and working on her addition facts before I even finished cutting out all the pieces.

Working Hard

I was pretty excited, as I was cutting, to glance over and see Bubba actually doing a wonderful job at cutting! He was so proud of himself, too! (Yay for fine motor skill practice!)

Bubba

Finding the pieces

Ella kept at it with the Number Families from 1 through about 6.

Happy Ella

Then she and her dad got into some kind of tickle/wrestling match on the couch while Bubba started having a Monster Truck Rally with his loud plastic firetruck and his wooden train next to me, and I just kept on cutting. Then I broke out my $15 laminator (from Aldi’s) and laminated the last pieces and it was done! That’s one set of flashcards we don’t have to break out again! This will be much more fun and engaging for her to work on.

To find the lapbook, go to: http://www.homeschoolshare.com/addition_facts_lapbook.php