Week 3: Bill Martin Jr. {Virtual Book Club}

I had originally planned for this week to be about music (had everything planned out!), but about the middle of last week I was reminded about the Virtual Book Club hosted by The Educators Spin On It. I knew I wanted to get back to introducing the kids (and myself) to some wonderful authors (yes, my librarian side is showing!), so I pushed music back a couple of weeks and put together a fun week of activities themed around books by Bill Martin Jr.

If you are unfamiliar with Bill Martin Jr., he has several very popular children’s books that are great for reading aloud. The repetitive nature of books like Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do you See? and Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you Hear? and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? make it fun for children to join in as you read. My kids like to “read” these books themselves because they have memorized the pattern and can use the picture clues to fill in the rest. The rhyming aspect of books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 make them flow off your tongue like a song and the kids really enjoyed repeating the rhymes over and over again. Seriously, if you haven’t read anything by Bill Martin, Jr. please head to your nearest library and check him out!

Now, there were a few books that I was not familiar with, which I was able to check out from our local school library (while my kids are in speech I hang out with the librarian). I was not as fond of these books (Barn Dance, White Dynamite and Curly Kidd, and Little Granny Quarterback) for my kids, but can see great potential for using them with older children. There are also many more books that we were not able to get a look at this time around, but I definitely want to.

Okay, so now for the activities we did! I’m very excited about the things I found and came up with on my own, so forgive my enthusiasm as I type. 😉

Monday

When Monday arrived I had not had a chance to get any books from the library. However, we already had Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See in our home library and I also have a Scholastic DVD set that included a video reading of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, so we used those until we could get to the library on Tuesday. I actually think watching the DVD helped to enhance the story because it was sung rather than read. They really liked it.

After reading Brown Bear we went on a photo walk. Before we left I had the kids “read” the story to me so I could write down all the colors of the animals in the book (in the color of the word) so they would have a checklist of the colors they needed to look for. They each have a LeapPad2, which has a camera app, so they were able to use those to take their pictures. They had so much fun spotting colors all over our neighborhood and snapping pictures along the way (and got exercise too!).

Photo Walk

Photo Walk

In the afternoon we used a Rhyming Fun Freebie from Jennifer Drake on Teachers Pay Teachers. I worked with both of them to identify rhyming words in 4 word families. I think Kyla has started to really catch on to listening for the end sound, where Lucas is still trying to match beginning sounds. This is definitely something we will continue to work on. When we finished rhyming they requested to pull out our magnetic letters and put the ABCs in order. I chose the lower case letters because I know they need to work on those more than the upper case which they seem to have down pat. Then they wanted to work separately and “race” to put the letters in order. They really seem to be loving our homeschool activities!

Rhyming and the Alphabet

Rhyming and the Alphabet

Tuesday

They have speech Tuesdays and Thursdays this year, so we were able to check out several books by Bill Martin Jr. (I mentioned them above). They were so excited to see the actual book for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and discovering there was a 1, 2, 3 version was a thrill for them as well.

I knew that between speech and Kyla’s dance class we weren’t going to have a lot of time for our activities, so I only had one thing planned. I’d printed out a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Letter Book from Jessica Sheffield at Teachers Pay Teachers. They went through the real book to find out what colors to color their letters in the printed book. I liked that the letters were in lower case. I feel like we haven’t done enough with lower case letters, so I’ve been focusing on that lately.

We really didn’t have time for anything else that day!

Coloring the Alphabet

Coloring the Alphabet

Wednesday

Wednesday is one of our less busy days, so I made sure to save this more time consuming project for that day. I printed out all (okay, not all, but several) of the pictures the kids had taken on our photo walk from Monday and also put together a book template using Google Doc Presentation (equivalent to PowerPoint) so they could make a personalized What Do You See? book. I had them cut out the pictures for each color (which was written on the page and they had to decide which object of that color to use) and glue them onto their book. This worked on their cutting, gluing, color recognition, and reinforced seeing the written color words. I’m really proud of this activity and I know they enjoyed it as much as I did.

What Do You See book

What Do You See book

Thursday

Thursday is now our REALLY busy day. Speech in the morning and Zoo School in the afternoon, then I had a night out with a friend planned. So I really knew we wouldn’t have time for much. Plus, I’m getting ready for a garage sale this weekend, which really made us strapped for time. All we did was an apple dot-to-dot from Making Learning Fun.

Dot-to-dot

Dot-to-dot

“Friday”

We didn’t actually do our “Friday” activities ON Friday. We didn’t do them until Sunday because I spent all day Friday and Saturday trying to sell our crap excess stuff. Unfortunately, all I have to show for all that effort is $73.50 and a sunburn. :-/

Anyway, we finally got to our Friday activities on Sunday after dinner. Friday is generally “computer day” so I had Lucas set up to work on the computer while Kyla did these cute Brown Bear Counting Practice pages from Teachers Pay Teachers. And then they switched.

They had the opportunity to practice cutting and gluing as well as identifying numbers and counting. Lucas was much faster at this than Kyla. I’m pretty sure it’s because Kyla is a perfectionist and was very precise about cutting out her numbers while Lucas is a bit more relaxed about the final product. Kyla is also not quite as quick to identify the written number, though she can count just fine.

Counting and Computers

Counting and Computers

I didn’t look for a specific Bill Martin Jr. themed computer game for the kids to do, so I just put them on PBSKids again. This time I had them do Clifford games (I figured at least it was a character from a book, even if it’s not a book by our featured author! 😉 ). Come to find out, the game they both chose to play was great because it involved following directions. Each “turn” of the game they would be given 2 step instructions and then they used the mouse to click on an object, then click an arrow for left or right. Lucas did great with this game and I was impressed that he was able to determine left or right so easily. It might be because I always tell them that “Lucas and Left start with L, so Lucas is on the Left,” when we’re in the car. Kyla was able to follow the directions, but had a lot of trouble with the mouse. I switched from using the PC mouse we had to an old MAC mouse that only has the one button because Lucas had such a hard time lining up his fingers so that he would push the correct button. Well for some reason Kyla kept getting the mouse turned around so that it was upside down and couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t going where she wanted it to go! This is definitely something she needs to continue working on, regardless of what game is in play.

Overall

Even though we sort of had a pause in our homeschool plans for the garage sale and we’ve gotten a lot busier as our schedule is getting more full I think we did some great stuff. I actually had more ideas that we just didn’t have time for. However, I’m particularly proud of the What Do You See? books that we made and plan to hang onto the lesson for when I’m back in a library. I can see it as a great way to integrate technology into an author study!

This post is linking to the Virtual Book Club Bloghop hosted by The Educators’ Spin On It.

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Week 2 of Homeschool: Family

Week 2 of homeschool went relatively well. Ha! That’s kind of a funny way of phrasing it, since this week we focused on Family. 🙂 Okay, I have a weird sense of humor. Sorry.

As I was saying, things went well. I didn’t do everything I had planned, but we did manage to do something every day, so that’s a win in my book! Here’s the low down of what we did. I am sorry for not having pictures of everything, but it was difficult to work with them and snap pictures at the same time!

Monday

To introduce the theme of the week I found a video on Youtube of the song In a Family that I had originally seen on Nick Jr. a long time ago. We revisited the song several times throughout the week and they really loved to try to sing it (or ask me to sing it). After the song I pulled out the pictures I printed of our entire family (extended included). There were 36 pictures all together. We talked about who each person was (some they’ve only seen once or twice) and how they were related to us.

Then came the biggest hit of the day (perhaps even the week!). Finger puppets!

Finger Puppets!

Finger Puppets!

I found them super cheap on Amazon. There is a Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Grandfather, and Grandmother. The three of us acted out all sorts of scenes with the puppets all over the house, even reenacting our trip to Disney. It was lots of fun. I left the puppets out the whole week and they frequently picked them up to play with them. But I also noticed them playing “Family” even more than they used to on their own. I even heard Kyla tell Lucas “You be N and ask me to marry you.” Too cute!

Tuesday

Tuesday was a VERY busy day for us. It was the first day back at Speech, Kyla had dance class, and I had a massage I had scheduled a few days earlier (trying to combat a headache I’ve had over a week). So we didn’t get to school stuff until after dinner! But we did manage to squeeze it in. I don’t have pictures, though. I printed off some handwriting practice pages with Mom, Dad, Kyla, Lucas, Grandma, Mom-Mom, Mimi, Jan, Gramps, Papa, and Grandaddy written out for them. They traced the names and talked about their grandparents and why they are special.

Wednesday

This day was the main reason I chose to do Family for this week’s theme. I wanted to make something to send to their grandparents for Grandparents’ Day. We decided to make hugs to send to them. In the morning I had them make handprints with finger paint (I spread the paint onto their hands and they placed them onto the paper. Worked beautifully!). Then they got to get into the bathtub to wash it off with a little shaving cream! Later in the day we measured their arms and made paper strips to glue the hands onto. They wrote “messages” on the arms before gluing. I had to let go of my idea of what the final product should look like. Especially when they started gluing two left (or right) hands to the same strip of paper.

Making hugs

Making hugs

Unfortunately, I’m a slacker and didn’t get them to the mail in time for them to arrive for Grandparents’ Day. I hope to get them in the mail tomorrow.

We also had the opportunity to go to story time at the library with friends. It’s so fun seeing how far they’ve come from when we first started taking them to story time. They were totally involved and loved the stories the librarian shared.

storytime

storytime

Thursday

N insisted that I go to the doctor about my headaches. So I went while N took the kids to speech. The meds my doctor prescribed knocked me out all afternoon. It was bad. 😦 So bad that we didn’t get to do all of that day’s activities. But I did somehow manage to get one done (no pictures, though). We used the pictures of our family members and placed them under their familial title (mom, dad, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, or cousin). We also counted how many of each there were. LOTS of cousins (I included cousins once removed and their kids!). It was interesting to how confused they were by the titles. But they sure knew who their first cousins are (I love that they are all so close in age and love playing together)!

Friday

We continued to use the pictures to sort into categories. We started out grouping by boy/girl and counted how many of each there were and which number was “more” or “less.”

boys vs girls

boys vs girls

Next we grouped them by household (who lives together) and counted those as well. We talked about patterns we could make, but we didn’t actually do any patterns.

Then it was computer time! I had them start with Red’s Rhyme n’ Roll on PBS Kids, simply because Red is on her way to Grandma’s house. Weak link, I know, but it was better than nothing!

While their sibling was getting some computer time, the other child got to identify some family traits. Well, sort of. I had them do a worksheet that described their physical attributes and then draw a picture of themselves. We then discussed what traits we had in common and what ones were different. I don’t think they really got this, but I tried.

Friday

Friday

Overall

Overall I’d say the week was successful. I’m going to have to figure out how to fit activities in when we have a busy schedule (that seems to be getting busier by the minute!). Next week I’m planning more activities for the days we will be home and simple things for the days I know we’ll be out and about quite a lot. Hopefully it will work out.

Oh, and to cap off our Family week, we got to spend some time with Papa and Mimi at their house swimming in their pool!

My little fishies!

My little fishies!

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First Week of Homeschool (age 4)

I decided I needed to step back into my role as teacher for the kids and take a more planned approach again. I’d really fallen off the planning wagon when the kids went into speech (maybe a little after) and I want to get back on. When I mentioned doing “homeschool” to the kids they were all for it. Of course, they had no idea what it meant, but I’ll take the enthusiasm where I can get it! 😉

Since it was the first day of school for everyone in our community, I picked August 24th as our first day of Homeschool. I planned around the theme of “school” just because it seemed to make the most sense to me. I’ve got themes planned out from now until the end of October right now, though they aren’t set in stone. I’m hoping to have at least 2 activities planned per day. One will be more of a “sit at your table” type activity and the other will be more hands on. They will take turns with most activities, rather than doing things at the same time because I don’t want them comparing themselves with each other or doing things for each other. Here is how our first week went.

Monday

We started out slowly. We started by watching the Leapfrog Video “Let’s Go to School.” This gave them a better idea of what “school” is, since they really don’t have any reference. We then read D.W.s Guide to Preschool by Marc Brown and The Kissing Hand by Audree Penn. (To be honest, the reason I chose the second book is because I found a set of centers printables using the book and I already own it.) We talked about the different kinds of school they will have this year: Homeschool, speech, and zoo school (more about that later). We talked about what would be the same and what would be different from the stories we’d read (or saw) and what we would experience. We also played “school” with new school supplies (spiral notebooks, colored pens, pencils, etc.) and their dolls as students. Like I said, it was a pretty simple day.

Tuesday

The next day was much more structured. We read The Kissing Hand again, and then I introduced the day’s activities, which I got from Kinderbabies on Teachers Pay Teachers.

I started Kyla with the “Chester loves…” book. She was to trace the words and color the pages.

While she did that, I took Lucas to the entryway to spread out the alphabet matching cards. His task was to match the upper and lower case letters. I quickly figured out that he needed a little organizational assistance, so I sat with him and helped him get the upper case letters in order on the floor (he told me where everything went, I just helped keep it organized), then I left him to match the lower case letters to their upper case counterparts. I was actually super impressed with how he did!

Later we switched and Lucas did his “Chester loves…” book while Kyla matched upper and lower case letters. Again, I was super impressed. She only missed 2 letters (g and q) and it was a totally understandable switch! I had no idea they were already able to do this. I truly figured this would be my way of discovering which letters they didn’t know so we could focus on them a few at a time!

The last thing we did was work together to match words to pictures of school supplies. These were the same words that were in their “Chester loves…” book, but I still had to give a lot of verbal cues to help them. They seem to want to guess rather than look for the clues that will help them decode the words. Not to worry, the activity gave me some insight into what we need to work on!

Hard workers!

Hard workers!

Wednesday

Daddy was home Wednesday, so I wasn’t sure how homeschool would go. But surprisingly, it continued without a hitch! We started off the day letting N sleep in, so we went for donuts as soon as they woke up.

This day was probably their second favorite day of activities. We practiced gluing techniques! I found this “Top Secret Gluing Techniques for Beginning Gluers” from Miss Miner’s Monkey Business on Teachers Pay Teachers. I printed the practice pages for the kids to use and we sang the song together. They really enjoyed dabbing the glue over and over again and then getting the chance to make globs on purpose. They also practiced making frames and cutting on the dotted line. They impressed me, since I’ve never really let them use liquid glue before (just glue sticks). I know they’ve used it at Sunday School and Zoo School, but still didn’t know what to expect.

After they got the hang of dabbing the glue, I gave them each the Pattern practice from the Kissing Hand centers packet. They had a good time cutting and gluing. The abab pattern was no problem whatsoever for them. Looks like I’ll need to start giving them more challenging patterns to work with.

They still are pretty rough when it comes to their cutting skills. At one point Lucas even wanted to quit because he was having so much trouble. Come to find out, his scissors suck. I gave him some adult scissors and he did much better.

I also had to have them work at separate tables. Otherwise they pick at each other instead of doing their work.

Don't let this picture deceive you.  They didn't work nicely together for long!

Don’t let this picture deceive you. They didn’t work nicely together for long!

Thursday

Thursday was Math day. Again, I used centers from the Kissing Hand packet. I had one child match the 1-10 number cards with the number of Chesters (easy-peasy for both of them) while the other child traced their numbers and colored Chesters in a book. Unfortunately, they just don’t have the attention span to go through 10 numbers at a time. They did manage to get through #7 by the end of the day, but I can now see where I need to change my expectations.

We also spent a lot of the day counting. I now know without a doubt that they can count to 12, but “something happens in the teens” (if you’ve ever heard the CD that comes with Boogie Legs by Josie Bissett, you know what song was in my head all day!). I know what we’ll be working on next!

Math Day!

Math Day!

Friday

Friday was the day Lucas was looking forward to ALL week. I had realized last week that their computer skills are severely lacking because I never let them use the computer. They have experience with their LeapPads and my Kindle and phone, but all of those are touch screens. They do not have any experience with using a mouse or touch pad. So I’ve decided this is a skill we need to work on. I’ve told them that if they do all their work throughout the week they will get to spend time on the computer playing games (things like PBSKids and that sort of thing). This was the only way I could get Lucas to concentrate on his work at times. He woke up in the morning saying “We get to use the computer today! I did all my work!”

At first it was frustrating because the internet was acting super slow and there was a LOT of waiting for things to load. And he is still struggling with using a mouse (I decided that would be easier for him to use), but he’s getting better. He got to play games from Super Why on PBSKids and was very happy.

While Lucas was on the computer, Kyla and I matched colors to their words. This was another center from the Kissing Hand packet. It was designed to start of easy, with the word being the color it said, so matching it to the colored Chesters was easy. But I took it a step further, having the matched cards in front of her while she went through the Color book (all words were written in black) and figuring out what color to use for each page. It only took showing her how to look for the words with the same letters before she had the hang of it and was able to color every page.

When she finished her color book, they switched. Kyla struggled with the computer as well, but I expected that. Lucas did great with the colors and even completed his work just in time for us to go to a movie as a family (we saw Turbo, which they loved!).

Fun Friday!

Fun Friday!

Overall I think we had a very successful first week of Homeschool. Lucas may be in for a rude awakening on Monday when we start a new theme (family), though. He kept telling me that Friday was the “last day of homeschool” no matter how often I tried to correct him. Hope he likes the activities I’ve got planned!

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Quick Summer Summary

Yes, we’ve been busy. Which might be part of the reason I haven’t posted practically all summer. Or it could be that I just was too tired to post when I did have the time. Either way, you’re going to get the quick version of our summer so that I don’t feel bad. Then tomorrow I can post about our first week of Homeschool!

June
June is always super busy because of birthdays. The first weekend of the month we went down to Houston for their cousin’s 6th birthday party (at a dinosaur museum! Coolness!). Then the following weekend the family all came here to celebrate Kyla & Lucas’ 4th birthday. I believe I did write that one up, so I won’t go into detail.

N and I actually got to go out of town for our anniversary (12th) this year. We went to Fredricksburg. We were only there 2 nights, so we didn’t have a lot of time, but enjoyed it nonetheless. Before you ask, no we did not do any wine tours. Instead we got gypped by the main street shops! LOL We bought way too much wine and the real kicker was when N found almost everything we bought there for WAY cheaper here at home. Ugh! Oh, well. Fun was had anyway, so that’s the main point.

The kids and I then went to San Antonio with my sister and her 3 kids (ages 6, 22 months, and 22 months at the time). We stayed in a cabin and did a day at Sea World, rode a train through a petting zoo, rode a glass bottom boat, went swimming, and just spent time together. Overall it was a lot of fun and I know the kids enjoyed it. My sister and I were, of course, ready for a vacation from our vacation, but we knew it would probably be like that going in. I love how close in age our kids are and that they get to see their cousins frequently. The best part, though, was that after all that time spent together, her twins and I bonded. 😉 They used to be kind of afraid of me, but now the immediately recognize me and play our own little secret games. I love those little guys!

To cap off the month we got to celebrate my father-in-law’s birthday swimming in his new pool! The kids have become amazing swimmers now that they have Papa’s pool to play in! They are such fish!

July
July started out with a fun 4th of July celebration with N’s cousins and their families. We don’t get to see them very often, but N was close to his cousins all through growing up and feels like they are his brothers more than cousins. The kids got to see fireworks on the way home and still talk about it!

Kyla started taking a ballet/tap class at an actual dance studio and really enjoyed it. She says she really wants to be on stage. Part of me would love for her to try it, but at the same time I’m pretty sure she’d freak out when it came time to preform.

The kids had their first ever dentist appointment. Our insurance makes us use a primary dentist (who won’t see them until they are 4 unless there are problems) and if we want to take them to a pediatric dentist we have to get a referral. Thankfully, they seemed fine with the regular dentist, so unless there are problems later we’ll just stick with them. Neither of them had any cavities! Woohoo! They took them both at the same time, which was great for neither getting bored waiting on the other one, but meant that I was in the hallway between the two rooms trying to catch what was going on in both at the same time. I felt like I must have missed something, but the kids did great, so that’s the important thing.

I got to spend time with many of my pre-kid friends in July, which was great. I don’t see any of them nearly enough (maybe once a year if we’re lucky). I feel like such a bore, though, because all I have to talk about is my kids. LOL Thankfully, they all like hearing about them (or at least, they pretend they do), so it’s not too bad. 😉

August
The first day of August was very different for me this year (compared to the last 4). I went to work. Sort of. I had substitute orientation. I’m still waiting to get the go ahead to set up my SubFinder account, but in theory I’ll be subbing for the local school district this year. I should be able to work at least 2 days a week. More if I can find a sitter on days N works. Of course, if I never get that darn email…

The kids and I all had VBS the second week of August. This year was very different for us. I was asked to do the preschool story time this year (I did the K-3 story time last year) and the kids were finally old enough to be in the actual VBS classes and not just the nursery! Of course, with me doing the preschool groups, that meant they came to me every day. I was nervous about that at first, but it worked out fine and I enjoyed seeing how they behave in that sort of setting. The other part that made it different is the fact that we now have friends at the church that we hang out with outside of church! We actually went out to lunch with a huge group of moms and kids 3 out of 5 days. I know we all loved that.

Right after the last day of VBS we got in the car and drove down to Houston for the “little twins” birthday. We got to spend Saturday with my mom, sister, and her 3 boys, then Sunday we celebrated the birthday at Chuck E. Cheese and got to see my brother, his wife, and their two girls. I’m not generally a baby holder, but I did enjoy spending time with my littlest niece (5 months old). Big sister (2 years old) had never been to CEC before and absolutely LOVED dancing with the mouse! It was adorable. And the even better part is that she’s finally warming up to other people and not clinging to her parents like she used to. She came up to me! 🙂

We had to head back home right after the party because Lucas was signed up for sports camp the following day. He spent 3 hours playing games and learning various sports Monday-Thursday. He loved it. Kyla, on the other hand, was not so fond of being away from her brother for that long. I tried to come up with fun things for us to do while he was busy, but even sitting in a movie she whispered to me “Can we go get Lucas now?” And while we were at their friends’ birthday party she cried for her brother rather than going to play with the other kids at the party. The one day that she didn’t ask about him was when we went to get a mini/pedi (her first) and then had a tea party with N’s grandmother and aunt. Can we say girly-girl?!

We got to go see a children’s theatre performance of Alice in Wonderland, which both kids thoroughly enjoyed. For days afterward they pretended to put on a show (usually Alice in Wonderland) and have both said they want to be on stage. As thrilled as I am, I think they may need to wait a few years.

Things looked like they were going to wind down, but we still seemed to find ourselves with something do do almost every day. Play dates, trips to the movies, family visits, and more! Is it sad that on the few days we didn’t have anything to do my kids asked “Where are we going today?” and when my response was “nowhere” they cried? They love to be out and about. But sometimes Mommy just needs a PJ day!

Coming up
Kyla ended up deciding she didn’t want to continue in the ballet/tap class she was taking. I’m pretty sure it was because she is so shy. But I let her try out the ballet/jazz class one of her friends is in and she decided she liked it, so she’ll be doing that this year.

Lucas wanted to be in soccer with his friend (the twin of Kyla’s dance friend), but the teams were already full. So instead he’ll be playing soccer through the church.

They start speech again September 3rd (2 days/week) and are enrolled in the whole series of Zoo School this Fall which starts September 12th (I’ll have to fill you in on that in a later post).

Because we still can’t afford to put the kids into preschool I decided I should buckle down and get more serious about our homeschool efforts. I’m trying to plan literacy, math, dramatic play, art, science, and social studies activities each week around a theme. I’ll try to post at the end of each week what we did and how it went. We’ve already completed our first week (which I’ll post about tomorrow) and I’ve got weeks 2 and 3 pretty much planned as well as themes through the end of October. I’m really hoping I can stay on top of this and that the kids will stay as interested as they have been this week. They keep saying that today is the “last day” of homeschool, even though I’ve told them it’s just the last day of this theme. Hopefully they won’t be too upset when we start up again on Monday! LOL

This “quick” update has ended up really long. Sorry about that. But at least now you know I wasn’t lying about being busy! 😉 As we fall into our school year rhythm I hope to be better about posting again. Thanks for sticking with me through the dry spells!

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Mother of the Year? {Letters to our Children}

Another month has gone by?! Time for {Letters to our Children}

Okay, so I’ll admit I’ve not been that great a mom lately. Not that I’ve become a neglectful, abusive hag or anything, but I have been taking the easy way out a lot of the time. I use the excuse that we’ve been really busy lately (and we have) but I sometimes think I take you out and about just so I don’t have to come up with something to entertain you.

Today you asked to paint. My initial reaction was “NO!” I’ve learned that I’m a huge perfectionist and the mess that results from painting with you two can really make me twitch. But I know that making messes is just a part of being a kid. And I’m trying, REALLY trying, to get over my own personality quirks to let you two explore your own.

So I took the plunge and brought out the finger paints. I could tell that you have been a student of Mommy’s “don’t make a mess” school of thought by the way you were very timid about getting the paint on you.

One finger at a time.

One finger at a time.

Can't get too messy!

Can’t get too messy!

You only used one finger on each hand until I told you to put some paint on your nose so I could take a picture to send to your aunt.

On my nose?!

On my nose?!

You mean we can be messy?

You mean we can be messy?

Then you went to town! LOL. I was cringing inside, but could see how much you were loving every moment.

Now we're talkin'!

Now we’re talkin’!

I has a beard!

I has a beard!

Look at us!

Look at us!

Then I made the mistake of going to the bathroom. The next thing I knew, you were both in the bathroom trying to wash your hands and faces. Your motivation was admirable, but the counter and sinks were quickly becoming blue! Rather than get upset, as I might have on other occasions, I suggested we get into the bath. And because your paint shirts were covered in paint as well, I said to get in with your shirts on! I even added shaving cream to the sides of the bath for you to play in!

Washa-washa-washa!

Washa-washa-washa!

Look!  I clean!

Look! I clean!

The look on your faces as you played was pure joy! I’m so glad I didn’t miss that moment because of my twitchiness about mess. You two continue to teach me more and more every day. I’m still not getting it exactly right, but I think I’ve come a long way!

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Some of my friends in my moms group and I have decided to create a blog circle where we will share monthly letters to our children. Please check out my friend, Carolyn’s, beautiful letter to her children here and then follow our circle around until you get back to me.

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A Year in Review {Letters to our Children}

Since another birthday has passed, I thought I’d focus this month’s letter on how far you two have come in the last year. Here you are on your third birthday:

Happy Birthday, Pirate and Princess!

Happy Birthday, Pirate and Princess!

And here you are on your fourth birthday:

You Wrecked it!

You Wrecked it!


Everyone loves an adorable winner

Everyone loves an adorable winner

Not only have you grown physically (we’ll know how much when we go to your four year check up June 27th), but you’ve come leaps in your language, motor, socialization, and cognitive development!

Language
You started speech two days a week in November. At that time I had to translate just about everything you said for people, including your dad a lot of the time. I found it interesting that you had such different problems with articulation. Kyla, you put all of your consonants in the front of your mouth (example, /t/ for /k/) and Lucas, you put yours in the back of your mouth (example, /k/ for /s/). In the 6 months you attended speech with Miss Nitchy you have worked so hard and mastered ALL of your goals!! You both are self correcting more often and everyone says you are getting easier to understand (ignore Aunt Erin. I think she just doesn’t listen. 😉 ). I am so proud of you.

Fine Motor
You are both able to write your names (you kind of have to know what you’re looking for, but I totally see it) and have written lots of other things when I tell you how to spell them. You’re working on scissors skills (you love to use them, but I haven’t really worked with you on control just yet) and have come a long way in your coloring and drawing. You still don’t stay in the lines necessarily, but I see more control than you used to. And you’re suddenly starting to actually draw things that are recognizable, not just scribbles! You are both starting to draw your own versions of people.

Gross Motor
Lucas, you’ve started showing an interest in baseball, so we’ve been playing “catch” with lots of different sized balls. You’re getting pretty good at both throwing and catching, though I wouldn’t say you’re a star athlete in the making just yet. I think you’re pretty much average with other 4 year olds (though I don’t really have anything to compare you to). I asked you the other day if you’d rather do t-ball or a class with lots of sports and you said “lots of sports.” Then I asked if you wanted to do lots of sports or gymnastics and you said gymnastics. So now I need to get you signed up for that when I figure out our July schedule.

Kyla, you love to dance and you like to show us how you can spin around on one foot. You’ve asked to take ballet again, which I’m happy to do if we can find a class that will work for us. You both took swim lessons in the spring and it amazes me what a little fish you’ve become. Lucas has come a long way as well, but it’s clear to me that you really love it. Lucas hesitates a little, but you have no fear when it comes to water!

Social
You both surprised me when we went to Disney in January and you had no problems going up to every character we met to give them a hug and get an autograph. Yet, when we came back home, your usual personalities came back.

Kyla, you still shut down around new people, hiding behind anything that is convenient. I wish I knew how to help you. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure you get it from me. Yes, I’ve gotten better as an adult, but I usually have to call upon my theatre background to get through it.

Lucas, you don’t necessarily walk up to total strangers and strike up a conversation, but you’re definitely more comfortable around new people. You love to make people laugh and have even started telling jokes. If you get even one laugh, you will tell it over and over and over again. You have also started trying to learn songs so you can sing them on your own. So cute!

Cognitive
You both are SO smart! A year ago you were still working on the alphabet song, recognizing letters, and counting to 10. Now, you’ve got the alphabet song down, you know all of your letters and can even write most of them, you’re starting to tell me what letters words you hear start with and can sound out words with help, can count to 15 consistently (still working on higher than that), and can even do simple addition and subtraction! I’ve stopped doing focused lessons with you and just let learning happen naturally, which doesn’t seem to have slowed you down any! Of course, you’ve got speech class, which exposes you to letter sounds and hearing the individual sounds in a word. You’ve also attended Zoo School, which has developed your knowledge and love of animals. So the formal learning is still there, just not being done by me.

Every day you both amaze me. I can’t believe that I got so lucky to be the mom of such great kids. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year brings. Though, to be honest, I’d like it to go by a little slower so we can enjoy every moment. I love you both so much!

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Some of my friends in my moms group and I have decided to create a blog circle where we will share monthly letters to our children. Please check out my friend, Carolyn’s, beautiful letter to her children here and then follow our circle around until you get back to me.

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Filed under Communication, growth and development, Letters to our Children, Parenting, preschoolers, progress, socializing

Four Year Olds

Really? I have four year olds? How did that happen?

This past month has been busy busy as we’ve finished up the school year in speech and zoo school, played with visiting family, traveled to Houston for W’s 6th birthday, and prepared for K & L’s Sugar Run birthday party. Things won’t slow down for a few more weeks, but I wanted to at least post something about their birthday.

Back in March the twins decided they wanted a Wreck it Ralph birthday party. They’ve been seeing Daddy run in obstacle races, so we thought it would be fun to have a race for the kids at the party. It fit well with the theme, since Vanelope von Schweets is a racer. Granted, she has a car, but close enough. 😉 We decided to host the party at a park. I handed the task of race planning to N and he really ran with it. I’ll admit to thinking he might be going overboard, but in the end I think he did an excellent job and the kids really had a blast.

We're gonna Wreck it!

We’re gonna Wreck it!

Candy Cane wickets

Candy Cane wickets

Kit Kat bridge

Kit Kat bridge

Candy Slolam

Candy Slolam

Jaw Breaker toss

Jaw Breaker toss

Life Saver Shake

Life Saver Shake

Gum Drop Cross

Gum Drop Cross

King Candy attack

King Candy attack

Cybug egg stomp

Cybug egg stomp

Ooh!  Water balloons!

Ooh! Water balloons!

Everyone loves an adorable winner

Everyone loves an adorable winner

You Wrecked it!

You Wrecked it!

Cupcakes by Aunt D

Cupcakes by Aunt D

After the race: ring fun

After the race: ring fun

Present time!

Present time!

Thanks for all the presents!

Thanks for all the presents!

Diet Coke and Mentos Beacon

Diet Coke and Mentos Beacon

The whole party was a success and much less stressful (for me) than previous years. This is the first year that we’ve had organized activities for the kids and they did really well. The ages ranged from 2 years to 6 years old. I think we’re going to have to set up the race in our back yard to continue the fun!

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Filed under family, friends, fun, Parenting, preschoolers, socializing