The Crazy Life

I’m still sick. It’s really bumming me out. But oh well.

This week has been a good one for me and kids. On Wednesday we had Hula Girl’s dance class. It went so much better than the past few weeks because it snowed Wednesday morning and only four families braved the weather. The four girls in class were four of the ones who do quite well, so they got to do extra steps and learn new choreography! Hula Girl was excited about that for sure. She was mostly excited that her closest dance friend was also there. :)

Thursday was a bit of a full day for us. We went grocery shopping in the morning, which was new for us. I usually shop on Saturday mornings, but I don’t like having to be away from my family on weekends. So we tried Thursday morning and we liked it. I think we’ll start going grocery shopping on Wednesdays after dance from now on– dance is 3/4 of the way to the grocery store anyway. And the kids are finally old enough to behave decently well through two stores. It takes a lot of setting explicit expectations detailing consequences for poor behavior beforehand. My expectations:  1. Keep a hand on the shopping cart at all times, and 2. Only ask for something one time. If they remove a hand, they will ride in the cart the rest of the way. If they ask more than once for an item, they will not ride the mechanical horse at the end. If the behaviors continue after consequences have been given, we will leave our cart, go home, and come back for the groceries tomorrow. No one wants to shop two days in a row. We had a good time on Thursday.

That afternoon, we went to the Y to swim. Hula Girl is an awesome swimmer and Little Man loves to have me guide him all around while he “swims” after the balls he tosses. They had such a fun time at the pool! Hula Girl even asked a little girl to swim with her in the pirate pool and the two played hide and seek for about 30 minutes. Cute!

Today we hung out at home. I like to plan “home days” at least 4 days per week. Today we ate breakfast, got dressed, brushed teeth, and cleaned the kitchen. Then Little Man had some roomtime so Hula Girl and I could catch up on some preschool. She worked through a couple of place value worksheets and sketched her bean plants in her nature study sketchbook while I planned out next week’s activities. Then she got out her “Dick and Jane” book and read a few stories to me. After preschool, we did SSR together and then I read to the kids for half an hour. Then I kicked them out into the backyard to play while I started reading a book on raising chickens. Next up was lunch, which Little Man helped prepare, then naps, and then Jonathan came home. All in all, it was a good smooth day and the kids had plenty of reading time, free play time, learning time, and family time. Balance. That is why I like home days.

Tonight I plan to read my chicken book and work on my lesson for Sunday school. Woohoo– living the crazy life over here, folks!

My Little Dancers

My parents graciously came over and cared for the kidlets today. They had a fun day at Storytime, Chick-Fil-A, and at home. They read a “million billion books” and played with Play-Doh. Of course, Little Man was stoked to eat ice cream at CFA. Win-win.

While they were gone, I alternated between light housekeeping chores and resting. I vacuumed the house, did a load of laundry, Lysoled the heck outta this house, and opened the windows to the balmy 34-degree breeze to air out my sick germs.

I was excited to learn that I can take my sewing machine (a wonderful gift from Jonathan’s aunt) to a very long-standing local sewing machine shop to have it serviced. My dad is taking it for me next Monday, since he’s working right near the shop that day and I’ll pick it up the following week when we go for Jonathan’s pre-op appointment with the ophthalmologist. I can’t wait to get it back; I have missed sewing!

I also had a great talk with Hula Girl’s dance teacher, Miss K. Hula Girl joined a new dance studio this January because she really wanted to learn to tap. Since they had never seen her dance before, she was automatically grouped in with the other preschoolers. This has been a good thing but also a challenge. Positively, it has allowed her the opportunity to be what  Miss K called the “big fish” in that she is much older than the other girls (some just turned three in November; she will be five in June) and has much more dance experience. She has not had to worry about keeping up while she has navigated the social stuff. I let Miss K know her approach to engaging Hula Girl in the class was wonderful, too– she never cajoled Hula Girl to try to get her to join in. Instead, she offered one casual invitation and then ignored Hula Girl until she joined on her own. It worked like a charm. Hula Girl loves Miss K.

On the negative side, Hula Girl is BORED. The girls know choreography for exactly four eight-counts and it’s been two whole months. Some of the younger classmates just can’t pick up the choreography and Miss K is working so hard, but it’s like dragging wet donkeys through a murky quagmire. She is literally picking up their feet and moving them for the girls, but the little punkins just can’t seem to replicate the motions on their own. Poor things! Needless to say, Hula Girl came home last week discouraged as she said, “Mommy, I thought we were going to learn new parts today!” I encouraged her to just be patient and trust that her teacher will prepare her for the performance in May.

Anyway, I called her teacher to find out what will happen next session. Miss K told me she plans to assign Hula Girl to a class of students closer to Hula Girl’s age. This might mean Hula Girl will have less experience with tap than the other girls will have, but Miss K expressed full confidence that Hula Girl will be just fine and will catch up in no time.

Another topic we discussed is the topic of Little Man. Previously, when Hula Girl was having a rough time adjusting to dance class, Miss K allowed Little Man to dance with Hula Girl for one class session. Miss K told me today that after that session, she talked to the owner of the studio about him because she has never met a two-year-old who was capable of dancing so well or staying focused for the entire hour! She is amazed by him every week as he does what she asks the girls in the class to do (over by me; unfortunately, he is not allowed to dance with Hula Girl anymore) and she let me know she thinks we must be doing something good at home because both our kids are so focused and well-behaved. That was so nice to hear! Miss K has been teaching dance for a long time, and she thinks that highly of my kiddos? Wow.

We discussed the idea of putting Little Man in a creative movement class and she also mentioned this summer’s dance camp in July. I am starting to see why families struggle financially to keep their kids involved in extra-curricular activities. It is expensive for a preschooler to dance! This is something Jonathan and I need to talk and pray about for sure!

Here’s hope that I’ll wake up with a healthy body tomorrow!! I’m ready to talk and not be exhausted again. Dance class is also tomorrow! All of us are excited; we love dance days. :)

A Collection of my Random Thoughts on Unschooling, Free Play, and Reading

Well, I have spent the last two days in bed. Being sick is not my forte. Alas! I have used my time wisely, though–  I have been doing a bit of research this morning on unschooling and I’m drawn to it for my Little Man.

Whereas Hula Girl has always been drawn to facts, memorization, and asking, “Why,” Little Man is much more likely to be interested in experimenting, observing, and asking, “How?” He is an independent person, and he thrives on problem solving. He is rarely interested in the things and activities I present to him, but he is annoyingly persistent when he wants me to join him in something he comes up with on his own. He is clever and creative, and he loves to figure things out. Hand the boy anything with buttons, screws, or wires, and he will be focused for a good long while.

I think all those qualities are excellent and necessary for a lifetime of unschooling. Unschooling flows naturally when one considers my main goal for my kiddos right now: to give them as much opportunity for free play as possible. Unschooling, like free play, allows children to ask questions and pursue the answers on their own. It allows them to use their imaginations. It gives them plenty of time to ponder and consider and daydream. You betcha I want my kids freely playing as much as possible. And unschooling seems like such a fit for Little Man.

I also want to focus on my kids’ social and emotional development, and some of the things I’ve come across this morning have reminded me what my goals in these areas need to be. Socially, I want to get the kids engaged with people around our neighborhood. I texted our across-the-street neighbor this morning. I asked if she would be willing to allow her son, who is just a year older than Hula Girl, to play outside with Hula Girl, relatively unsupervised, this summer. The kids will be five and six, and I told her I would like to set limits on how far the kids can roam. One positive is that we know (and like!) all the neighbors within those limits. I think this freedom to roam is good for children, and I’m excited that Hula Girl will have the opportunity to play and interact with neighbors without me being right there the whole time.

Another way I want to engage the neighbors socially is by having the kids help me bake goodies and share them. I plan to send the kids next door to the neighbors on either side of our house, who are both retired guys, with plates of cookies or baskets of muffins. I want to have them help me prepare for afternoon get-togethers with other moms and kids who will be invited over just because.

Regardless of our methods of schooling or the ways we spend our days, one activity will not cease: daily reading. Both children enjoy reading tremendously. Hula Girl can read simple stories on her own, but I think we will continue reading out loud to her untik she begs us to stop. :) Little Man asks me to read him books at least seven times a day, and I do! I was thinking about how glad I am to have married Jonathan, as he is a guy who loves to read! Our kids see the example we set and reading is not ever a chore for them; rather, reading is a fun bonding experience and they get to learn about characters and topics they find interesting! I had a discussion with Jonathan’s aunt, who is a teacher, the other night. She has first graders and she said she can always tell which kids are frequently read to and which kids aren’t. The kids who are read to just have such an advantage over the kids who aren’t! I’m just glad we have created a home environment in which reading is normal, everyday, and fun!

Preschool and Homeschool Plans

We’ve been able to just jump right in to school this year. Hula Girl is such an eager student; memorization and absorption of new material comes so naturally to her. I’m always a bit wary of doing too much too soon with her; after all, she is only four years old and I know that at this point in her life, free play should be her #1 daily activity. However, she just adores preschool time and asks for it even on weekends. Little Man even gets to participate, and he so enjoys it! Soon he will have his own curriculum to work through. I’m so excited to teach both of them every day.

Here’s a general rundown of what our preschool time looks like each day:

  • 15 minutes- Reading and dancing or doing finger plays or clapping along to children’s songs and nursery rhymes from What your Preschooler Needs to Know (Little Man joins us for this part, because it’s fun and he’s going to start the activity book in August!)
  • 5 minutes- Copywork- Hula Girl copies down short passages from our morning’s devotion or the week’s nonfiction reading in her copywork notebook
  • 15 minutes- Math- We are using the Math-U-See Primer Level to introduce math concepts. We do about 5 minutes of direct instruction on the day’s topic, and then she takes 10 or so minutes to complete the accompanying worksheet.
  • 5 minutes- Core Knowledge Activity Book 2- This book is full of short, fun activities to reinforce literacy, writing, math, and other subject areas appropriate for preschoolers. Hula Girl already completed the first book last year.
  • 10 minutes- Reading- Hula Girl is currently teaching herself to read the Dick and Jane books. We sit down for a few minutes at the end of preschool and she attempts to read one chapter. I help her sound out words she’s unfamiliar with and then she reads through the story two or three more times, until she feels confident that she can read it well. She takes several breaks to practice reading that story throughout the day, and when Jonathan comes home, she reads the new chapter to him- always flawlessly.
  • *10 minutes- Nature Study- Hula Girl observes her science projects or something out in nature (like a bird sitting on top of our truck) and sketches her observations in her sketchbook. I help her with labeling and write the date, her title, and what observations she wishes to include. Little Man sketches in his notebook as well; however, his sketches tend to resemble Morse code. ;)
  • *10 minutes- History, Science, Music, or Art- We read a short excerpt, listen to a song, or view a piece of art and discuss. Oftentimes we will then take the next thirty minutes or so to create something inspired by the historical event, scientific information, composition, or artwork. These things might include hats like Abraham Lincoln wore, diagrams of our vascular system, choreography to complement the music, or simple art projects which resemble the inspiration.

*Nature study, history, science, music, and art do not happen daily. When we drop “reading” as a subject (when she’s fluently reading without much assistance), she will be using reading to access all her history, science, music, and art information on a daily basis.

So far, this system is really working well for us. Hula Girl’s favorites are math and nature study, and she really enjoys reading (I’m not sure how she couldn’t like reading as we’ve spent approximately 25% of her life snuggled up together reading books). Next week, I plan to move Little Man’s roomtime to the mornings right after breakfast, so Hula Girl and I can work on preschool uninterrupted. It’s difficult and a bit silly to try to plan extra activities to keep him occupied during this time as he only wants to be doing exactly what his big sister is doing. She, being the perfectionist she is, can’t handle his stray pencil marks on the corners of her papers and it’s really hard to explain place value when every other word out of my mouth is “Stop!”

We have an opportunity coming up for next year to place Hula Girl in a homeschool program at a charter school in Colorado Springs. She would attend school once a week and they would focus more on the art/music/PE stuff while also emphasizing basic literacy skills. Honestly, I feel like her greatest benefit would be improving her social skills. She has been really outgoing lately and has wanted to talk to and play with every single child she meets. I am still trying to work through whether or not it’s justified to commit to driving an hour one way every single week just so she can “do school” when our intention all along has been to homeschool. I feel like we can probably find her some groups of friends around here with less of a commute.

Another issue is that she will be a new five at the start of the school year and although she is quite mature for her age intellectually, she is just developing some social skills other children developed a while ago. Her very shy nature kept her quite isolated from other children for several years. Her recent outgoing behavior has been wonderful but also illuminating in some areas. We discuss many interactions I observe and I am working to teach her to act graciously and sensitively to other children. She catches on quickly, which is a relief!

And so we will see how things go over the next few months. Regardless of whether we do the charter school program, we will definitely be starting the Core Knowledge Kindergarten Sequence with Hula Girl and the Core Knowledge Preschool Activity Book 1 with Little Man this summer. I love Core Knowledge as a teacher because it allows me to draw from many outside sources to create lessons uniquely meaningful to my children while giving me a general understanding of what material to cover in each year. I plan to marry the Core Knowledge curriculum and the Charlotte Mason method. With this in mind, I plan to read all the books from the Ambleside Online Curriculum each year just because we have plenty of time and my kids love to read!

Keeping Boredom at Bay

It’s been snowing for three days straight, and our forecast calls for snow for the next four days as well! I’m a person who loves the snow, and this recent streak of snow upon snow upon snow (I mean, for Pete’s sake! It’s snowing right now even though the sun’s out!) has been so fun to see. Every time I look out, it’s snowing! Jonathan and I have been talking about someday relocating to New England so we can get EVEN MORE snow. But for now, I think we’re good.

Thing is, when it snows, the kids get a bit… stir crazy. I’m not a wimp about getting them all gussied up in their finest snow attire- layers upon layers of fleece and mittens and ski goggles and thermal underwear and socks- but there’s really a limit to the amount of time they can spend outdoors with their faces planted in the snow (they graze on it like horses put out to pasture) in freezing cold temperatures. That limit is around 10 minutes for Little Man and 30 for Hula Girl. We repeat the ritual of dressing up, trekking outdoors, and peeling off the snow-covered garments at least twice daily. Fortunately we have a separate entrance to the garage from the backyard so the kids can drop all the snow in there rather than in my kitchen. But seriously. 15 minutes to dress them, 10 minutes (or less!) outside, 5 minutes of them whining and crying while undressing them, and WHEW, I am wiped out. And then they want hot chocolate.

Speaking of hot chocolate, I can’t have any right now. And that’s okay. Jonathan and I are doing the Daniel Fast for Lent and it’s amazing to see how quickly our bodies have broken the habit of eating sugar and other non-fruit, non-veggie, non-whole grain foods. The first week was pretty hard, and cravings were abundant. I would have paid $20 for a Twix, and I don’t even eat Twix normally. My current craving is for anything coconut, which I can actually eat a lot of in the form of unsweetened dried coconut and coconut oil. So that’s perfectly fine with me! The Daniel Fast isn’t too much of a departure from our typical whole-foods, plant-based, organic diet. The only differences for us are the inability to eat anything with sweeteners like sugar, honey (which is technically not vegan but we eat it anyway), maple syrup, xylitol, etc.; and the inability to drink anything besides water. I’d sure like a coffee or hot cocoa. I think I’ll have hot cocoa in my coffee on Easter morning.

Easter morning is going to be very exciting for our entire family. Not only will Jonathan and I get to (slowly and carefully) reintegrate foods we’re not eating right now, but we will be getting some little chicks for the kiddos. We’re planning to get chickens that will lay blue/green eggs and chickens that will lay chocolate brown eggs. Of course, we know we won’t have eggs for several months after we get our little chickies, but it will still be fun to care for our little flock in the meantime. Hula Girl is so excited to be able to be the one who feeds and waters the chickens, and Little Man can hardly wait to check for eggs.

Jonathan and I have a lot of work to do between now and May in order to prepare for our new little pets. We plan to keep 8-10 chickens, so we’ll need to build a sizable coop and run. We do intend to let the chickens roam freely in the backyard when we’re home, but we want their run to be large enough that they don’t NEED to be let out to roam daily in case we can’t spend time outside for any reason. We have a ton of scrap wood kindly donated by our neighbor, who works at the steel mill. The folks who manufacture steel goods there lay the products on top of 2x4s, 4x4s, railroad ties, etc., to let them cool. So all the wood has scorch marks on it, but for a chicken coop, it’s great! We have to paint the wood and seal it anyway; we may as well get it for free!

We’re also planning to use some of that wood to expand our garden (again) for this summer. Last year’s garden wasn’t nearly as productive and exciting for us as our gardens have been in the past. We really didn’t have time to work with it and we didn’t grow much food. This year we are planning to grow pretty much every veggie we eat, and lots of each kind, so we can store up food for next winter. It has been getting pretty expensive to feed our family lately, and any little dent we can make in our grocery budget through canning and freezing next fall will be very helpful. I have gotten several books on “homesteading” and food preservation, so I guess I’d better get started on my reading!

Some other things I’m learning about these days include sewing, piano, and calculus. It’s been a rough go for me the past few months as I’ve found myself absolutely bored out of my mind. I’m the type of person who likes to be engaged in learning all the time. When that’s not happening, I get crabby. Like, I want to drive to Mexico JUST BECAUSE I CAN kind of crabby. It’s really not pretty and it makes me feel STUCK. So I’m working to improve my sewing skillz (which is pretty easy to do as I’m just terrible to begin with!), learning to play piano (I can play a scale! yay me!), and learning calculus through a free online class. I guess I just don’t understand it when people say they don’t think they can do something. Like, “Wow, I could never learn XYZ!” I always think, “Why not?” I hope to instill this value in my kids, as it really does leave every opportunity open.

I will tell you my ONE limitation, in case you think I’m just pig-headed and boastful: I will never succeed at anything requiring me to physically look good. Like, I’ll never be a model (I’m 5’3″). I’ll never proudly show off my Jamberry nail wraps (my fingers are cracked and dry from doing housework and even the best lotion just doesn’t heal them completely). I’ll never post an instagram shot of my feet in flip-flops overlooking the ocean (my feet look like hairless hobbit feet; my toes are short and curl over weirdly and my feet are wide and high-arched- a very unattractive combination). Plus, I’m kind of a klutz. Sure, I will dance, but not well. So now you know my limitations, lest you think I’m arrogant.

But seriously, why can’t I learn calculus? Why not?

Also, to keep boredom at bay, I’m gonna blog again. :)

Rainy Days

Yesterday and today have been cold, rainy days around here. What a nice change for us! We’re all glad the weather is finally cooling off! The kids and I have been soaking in the quiet togetherness that rainy days create.

Yesterday the kidlets played with Play-Doh after breakfast while I put dinner in the crock pot. Then we went for a walk in the drizzle. Our neighbor’s dog came with us and Hula Girl spent the entire walk throwing the dog’s ball. Gelato spent the entire walk alternating between crying because his hood was on and crying because his hood was off. :) Afterward, we came home and the kiddos had some hot chocolate. In the afternoon we cleaned the house and baked biscuits, and then the kids played with shaving cream paint in the tub. They had an early dinner of chili and biscuits and then we welcomed our small group. The kids played quietly during the first few minutes of small group, and then it was time for Jonathan to put them to bed. Hula Girl, of course, did not fall asleep right away; she stood looking out her window to watch our guests leave, as she always does when we have company.

This morning, Hula Girl didn’t wake up until 8:00, so Gelato and I made breakfast together before we got her up. They had banana bread and milk for breakfast. While they ate, I read them the story of Noah’s Ark from Genesis. Hula Girl was surprised and said, “Mommy, I’m amazed that the story in the Bible is just like the story in our Jesus Storybook Bible! God is sure awesome! And he made rainbows to make a promise!”

Then we cleaned up and the kids stayed in their jammies while they played with the Lite Brite and Cootie. After we got that craziness cleaned up, we decided it was time to start making Christmas gifts and decorations. (Nay-Nay and Auntie Joanna, something’s coming your way soon!) Gelato surprised me with his dexterity! We were stringing Christmas beads (not pony beads- the star-shaped things that have small holes in the middle) on pipe cleaners to make “icicles” to hang in the tree. He could do it! I was amazed. Hula Girl has discovered a passion for stringing beads, and she will be making many many many more of these for friends and family alike. :)

Around 10:00, I got the kids bundled up in sweat pants, rain coats, and boots, and I sent them out in the backyard so I could read my Bible while watching them play. They got SOAKED. And they loved it. At 10:45, I called them back in and welcomed them with a hair dryer, big towels, and fleece footie jammies. Hula Girl thought it was great fun to have me blow dry her entire body; both of them loved it when I pulled their jammies out from their bodies and blew warm air down their backs. Ah, to be a preschooler again! Then we snuggled up on the couch and read several books under a cozy blanket.

After lunch, Gelato started his nap and Hula Girl and I finished Peter Pan. This is the fourth movie she’s ever seen. I am not a super big fan of it for her- there are lots of names called, Indians are portrayed in a terrible light, and there is just a lot of violence in general. I had to keep reminding her that it’s all a big game the Lost Boys play with the other inhabitants of Neverland, and that since it’s all pretend, none of these things actually happen. She is much more partial to Frozen. I have to agree with her! She has also seen Cinderella and The Aristocats. I like Frozen and Cinderella best.

When the kids wake up from naps, I plan to take them to Walmart, just to get out of the house for a while. We need to get a few pull-ups for Gelato (he sleeps in a pull-up but is potty-trained otherwise), and I believe they carry a non-GMO cornmeal there, which would be great for cornbread. (You’ll notice I said we baked biscuits to eat with our chili yesterday… yup, we are out of cornmeal.) I’m hoping Jonathan will light our fireplace after dinner so we can bring the kids down and read them a bedtime story in front of the fire tonight.

 

I Want to Blog Again.

This morning, my very favorite bloggers, whose blog I’ve followed for the past five years, announced they’re calling it quits on their blog. At least for now. I was pretty sad about it. After five years of almost daily updates, it’s a shock, to say the least. It feels like I’m losing touch with part of my family!

Somehow that experience awakened the beast in my heart again. I want to write about our life. I miss being able to document cute things the kids do, random thoughts, family updates, and my feelings about everything. I know I don’t have a huge following, and likely never will because I don’t plan to specialize in anything outside my own personal interests (i.e., my family). But it was nice to know at least a couple friends and family members could keep up with us.

So. Here we are. Hula Girl is four years and four months old. Gelato is two years and two months old. Jonathan is turning 32 this month, and I’m turning 29 in a few days. We’ve been living in our first house for a year and two months. Riley, our cat, is six years old. Jonathan is working at the same place, but his job is changing in January. I am staying at home with the kids and teaching Sunday school. So much is the same as the last time I posted. And yet so much is different!

Jonathan’s upcoming job is the biggest change in our situation. He’ll still be working for the same company. However, he has recently been trained as a horticultural therapist. Since he has received that training (to be completed in November), the decision-makers at his company have decided to purchase a house for him to use as the location to provide horticultural therapy services. They are remodeling the house right now to include office space, seed storage space, a greenhouse, indoor and outdoor garden areas, storage sheds, etc. Jonathan will be creating the entire program for his company and will serve as the therapist on-site. There will be a recreational therapist on-site as well.

To say Jonathan is excited would be an understatement for sure. Yes, it’s a large undertaking. Oh my, is it. Coordinating with his loan repayment program, current supervisors, the health department, his horticultural therapy instructors, the business office, administrators, and so forth, is a huge endeavor. On top of that, he’s building an entire program! But this is totally up his alley. It’s funny because he never had any gardening inclinations until we were married and I introduced him to it. Better half? You’d better believe it. ;) I’m just so proud of all he’s learning, and the attitude with which he’s facing this challenge. He just keeps putting one foot in front of the other, without getting overly anxious about things.

The kids are great. Challenging, but great.

Hula Girl is taking dance again, and she’s loving it. She has such beautiful straight legs and pointy pointy toes. She picks things up quickly, and she’s still extremely obedient. Dance is one of her favorite things. She also loves playing with her Elsa and Anna dolls, jumping and skipping around, climbing really high up on play structures, and swimming. She can read, but we don’t push it. She’s a baker at heart- she is awesome at measuring out ingredients and mixing them up. She is still not very interested in sitting still and coloring or doing any kids of crafty activities. Therefore, writing is not something we’re stressing at this time in her life. She HAS grown out of putting everything in her mouth. Oh my goodness, people, when she was three and a half, I thought she was going to die because she was putting anything and everything she could find in her mouth. Soap, lotion, toothpicks, rocks, sticks, leaves, bugs, hair ties, etc. You name it, she mouthed it. And then… she stopped. Whew.

Gelato is… two. :) He is the exact age now that Hula Girl was when he was born. Man, I am so glad Gelato is my SECOND child. He is into everything, but not in a destructive way. I frequently find him pulling a chair over to the fridge so he can get himself a glass of ice water or standing up on a chair near the stove so he can see what’s boiling in the pot. He is always so careful not to spill his water or touch the hot stove. I am so glad we’ve followed the RIE principles with him; he knows that I trust him to know his body’s limits, and he rarely tests them except in safe situations. Other than these situations, though, he is really quite rambunctious. He’s the kid tumbling pell-mell to plant his face into the couch cushions. He’s the kid climbing into the swings and trying to pump his own legs (at two). He’s the kid splashing and screaming in the pirate pool… just because he can. He’s also the kid who is mischievous and will try to get away with… everything. He knows the limits, and he tests them. Not the same ones over and over again. Just all of them.

Both children are snuggle bugs. They enjoy sitting on my lap for hours listening to me read. They’ve recently convinced the cat, Riley, that he should actually like them and sit on their laps. He tolerates them well enough, and hasn’t tried to scratch or bite them at all in months! Hula Girl keeps trying to convince us to keep her door open at night so she can cuddle with Riley in her bed. Santa may or may not be bringing her a kitten this year. (Seriously, may or may not. Jury is out. But it is highly likely that Santa will be bringing a kitten.)

I still attend my ladies’ Bible study group on Monday nights. It’s been so much fun to get to know the ladies in my group. One of the ladies even has two little girls and we trade babysitting services every now and then. We tried to get all scheduled about it last month, but then there was sickness and life, and this month I forgot. So we’ll see how that goes. :)

We’ve also joined a Bible study with a group of older people from our church. They are all into the grandparent days, so they are willing to travel to our house on Thursday nights. This saves us the hassle (and $$$) of having to hire a babysitter, and we so appreciate it! It also means my house has to be spotless at least one day a week. You win some, you lose some.

So that’s that. Hi. I hope to reconnect with some friends and family, so leave me a comment to let me know you were here! :)

He Loves Me!!! (I think)

Today when I was laying Gelato down for his afternoon nap (which he hasn’t started yet…half an hour later… grrr…), I covered him with his blanket, and put his owl next to him. Then he said, “Bunny?” so I laid his bunny next to him as well. Then I said, “I love you!” And he said… wait for it… “Wow-voo!”

Now, “Wow-voo” could mean owl. He might have been wanting me to show him his owl. But since he usually says, “Ow-wool,” and since I had already shown him his owl, I am choosing to think he parroted my “I love you.”

And yes, I know he was just parroting and that a 15-month-old doesn’t really LOVE me yet, in the way that he can express with words. But I know that he loves me, and it’s so sweet to hear him tell me he loves me. Sweet boy.

Wow-voo!

Gelato- 15 Months

We went to Gelato’s 15 month appointment this morning.

He has stayed small: he weighs 22 lbs 2 oz, which puts him in the 25th percentile for weight; he is 30.5 inches tall, which puts him in the 25th percentile for height; and his head circumference is in the 10th percentile.

I find it interesting that he has not gained weight in the past two months. We’ve been a couple times for an ear infection and then another suspected ear infection, and his weight has hovered right around 22 pounds. I know that he eats a lot, but he’s also a very active little guy. He burns it off quickly!

According to the (very accurate, I’m sure) development assessment that I complete each well check, he’s on par with a typical 21-month-old as far as cognitive, language, and physical skills are concerned. I found it funny that there was a question related to how many words he can say outside of family members’ names; if he could say more than 3, I was to circle Yes. This would have been indicative of a typical 20-month-old’s language ability. Knowing I was to fill out one of these questionnaires today, I laid in bed this morning counting the words I can think of off-hand that Gelato already uses on his own, and I got over 100 before I stopped counting. He even uses 2-3 word phrases frequently, like “What’s that?” or “Get it!” or “Wear it!” or “Up there!”

I love that Gelato still has a passion for accessorizing. He wears Hula Girl’s necklaces, headbands, bracelets, belts, and purses all around the house. He puts on my shoes, Jonathan’s slippers, and Hula Girl’s boots all the time. He tries to put on his own shoes but since they’re shoes that actually fit him, it’s too hard for him to wrangle them onto his feet.

Gelato loves to talk on the phone. He will carry around the toy phones (he no longer uses the dollhouse sink/mirror as a phone, much to my chagrin!) and talk all day long. He says, “Heddo, doing? Dood!” (Hello, what are you doing? Good!) Then he tells the person on the other end what he’s doing- sliding, climbing on the chairs, eating play fruit, reading a book, throwing a ball, etc. It’s pretty funny.

He still loves to climb. Lately this has taken him on top of the table in the playroom and on the dining room chairs. I don’t like him up on the dining room chairs since the floor in there is tile, so now I have a strict push-in-your-chairs rule at the end of every meal. He also climbs outside, and has gotten really good at climbing up and down the ladders on the playset. He doesn’t let go mid-ladder anymore, which saves me a bit of my sanity.

He has also discovered the joy of sliding. Since the slide from the playset is pretty steep and a bumpy slide, I make sure to be right there slowing his descent. He really enjoys the slide in the playroom and will slide down it over and over all day long.

He is not afraid of anything, which scares me to death. Moms of boys, I totally get you now. He does things that make my heart stop. Literally, I feel it stop momentarily when he does some of the things he does. WHY are boys so daring?!

Gelato certainly has his own opinions about… everything. I am thinking we might be investing in Dr. Dobson’s The New Strong Willed Child somewhere here in our future. I’m not trying to imply he’s a naughty boy; he’s just very determined. This is a great characteristic when he’s trying to learn how to take off his shoes. But when he’s trying to run after the neighbor’s dog and it’s time for us to go inside for dinner, it can be quite ear-splitting. :)

Gelato has some loveys that sleep in his crib with him now. He has his blanket with an owl on it, a stuffed owl, and a bunny that’s larger than he is. The bunny was a gift from the Easter bunny, who brought Hula Girl her giant sheep that she slept with for months as well. He will ask for his “Nanket” while I sing to him, then when I lay him down, he says, “Owl? Bunny?” Then he squeezes his little arms around his blanket over his chest and laughs.

Oh, he laughs, and the boy’s laugh is absolutely the best sound in the world. He laughs all day long. He finds delight in what he does and in what his family members do. Hula Girl will be sitting in her chair kicking her feet and he will notice and burst out in a huge belly laugh. Or Jonathan will peek around the corner and he’ll grin and giggle until Daddy pops out, then the chortle ensues. He loves when I say “Alligator, alligator, chomp, chomp, chomp,” and tickle his little collarbone super gently. He just laughs and laughs. He laughs when he succeeds in doing what he wanted to do. He laughs when he’s surprised, like when a ball rolls off the table. He just laughs SO much.

And he sings. All the time. If he’s not talking on the phone or laughing, he’s singing. And dancing. His current favorite is the same as Hula Girl’s was at his age- Abiyoyo. It’s a song from a book based on a South African folk tale about a giant. A boy tames the giant with his ukelele and then the boy’s father makes the giant disappear with his magic wand. Then all the townspeople join the boy in his song, “Abiyoyo, Abiyoyo, Abiyoyo, Abiyoyo…” Pete Seeger wrote it, in case you care. ;)

Gelato decided to try something out this past week- not napping in the afternoon. It’s kind of a bummer deal for him, because then he has to go to bed super early, like 5:30 early. Today is the first day in over a week that he’s actually taken an afternoon nap. I think he got overtired from the time change and then he just hasn’t been able to figure out what to do. I put him down super early this morning for his nap, and he fell asleep quickly, but I wasn’t sure today’s nap would work… yay, it did! I think we’ll stick to slightly early nap times in the next few days to see if he self-corrects. I remember Hula Girl went through a non-afternoon-napping phase at 15 months as well, but then she went back to sleeping twice daily until 17.5 months old. I am holding out hope. Gelato doesn’t get cranky with just one nap, but he DOES sleep really restlessly at night and we are wakened several times per night by him crying out or flopping around. I could do with a good solid night’s sleep again.

And you guys, Gelato is so smart. I have said this before about him, but it is more and more apparent to us every day. He learns so quickly, he speaks so clearly (and so abundantly!), and he is so independent! We are so blessed to have two amazingly bright children who love to learn and who pursue knowledge and skills on their own, without me having to direct them at all. It is such a joy to see their little eyes light up and the looks of consternation on their faces while they’re trying to figure something out. The two of them share a look that says, “I’m thinking really hard about this right now!” It’s so cute.

Oh, I should mention that he is fully weaned now, as of a week and a half ago. It’s nice, but bittersweet. Good thing he drinks well from a sippy cup now.

I love my little man.

Venturing Out on her Own

I recently had a friend remind me that she sends her kids out every day to play alone in their backyard. I got to thinking about it, and I realized that I played out in my backyard alone while I was growing up. And so did pretty much everyone I know. I did a poll on Facebook and within the first few minutes, I had several responses; everyone said they let their kids (Hula Girl’s age and even younger) go out in the backyard alone to play. I got to thinking- why haven’t I done this!??!

I guess I’m some kind of crazy overprotective mom. I know I am, actually. I don’t let my kids watch TV (although that’s mainly because of all the research that says it’s bad for kids). I don’t let them do Halloween. I never used the word “scared” or “afraid” until Hula Girl needed that word to describe how she personally felt because I didn’t want to plant ideas in her head. I edit books as I read out loud so that the characters say much nicer things to each other than the author really intended. I keep my kids at home with me 99% of the time, because I am terribly distrustful of the big bad world and I want our schedule and routine to be carefully observed.

Don’t get me wrong- I have a pretty solid plan for how I’m going to loosen up and grant more freedoms and expose my children to the not-so-nice aspects of life. But for now, I have decided that coccooning them away and keeping things positive is the best I can do to give them a strong foundation of security, love, and self-confidence. They are free to have big emotions in their small challenges without a lot of influences from the world around them telling them they’re not good enough, smart enough, big enough, loved enough, or brave enough.

Back to the backyard. I have never let Hula Girl go outside alone. Ever. Any time she’s gone out, I have been there. Part of this is that we have lived in houses with no privacy fence. This especially bothered me at our old house, where the man who lived across the utility easement behind our house was on the registered sex offenders list. We have no registered folks around our new house, but we still have just a wire fence- our neighbors to the right and left and anyone passing on the street behind our house has a full view of everything that’s going on in our yard. On top of that, we live in rattlesnake, tarantula, scorpion, black widow, brown recluse, and wolf spider territory. Oh, and our area does not require dogs to be fenced- we have several neighbors whose dogs roam free. Can you see why I have been worried about sending her out there? That means she’s never gotten to explore completely on her own. She has never been able to just tune completely in to whatever drives her fancy because I have been there talking to her. And I have never been able to just get a bunch of housework done without a “helper.”

My friend Katie sends her kids outside in the backyard, alone, a couple of times each day. And do you know what?! I have always been amazed at Katie’s seemingly remarkable ability to balance so many aspects of her life without DYING of exhaustion. How does she do it!?!?! She sends her kids outside!

Now, you guys all know me, and you know I’m a huge fan of involving the kids in whatever I’m doing in order to instill a good work ethic and to teach them how to do stuff. But I can never find the time to REALLY clean the house or get all the laundry washed, dried, folded, and put away. There are always a million other things to attend to, like helping a certain princess put on her costume or keeping a certain little wild man from destroying his sister’s block tower, all accompanied by higher-pitched-than-you’d-ever-imagined-possible shrieks and whines- some gleeful, others complaining, but always super loud and wow-that-popped-my-eardrums-high. So, I got brave.

Yesterday afternoon and evening, I spent about 45 minutes walking the perimeter of the fence and canvassing the rest of the backyard looking for potential issues with snakes, dogs, or spiders. I kicked away spider webs, I got rid of the giant tumbleweeds in the play area, and I looked for holes in the ground (there were none, thankfully). I also looked for any other kinds of hazards and cleared out some sharp metal things (the people who lived here before us had two little boys who littered the ground with their broken, discarded Matchbox cars).

Then this morning I told Hula Girl that I was going to let her play outside all by herself like a big girl and that she had to stay out five minutes. I brought out her chalk, her shovels and pails, and her bike helmet. I told her she was allowed to do whatever she liked, as long as she stayed in the backyard (like she could even open the fences anyway, but you never know). I reminded her that if she needed me, she needed to come to the patio door and knock. I opened the kitchen window so I could hear her. I set a timer for five minutes.

I thought she’d whine and call for me and ask me to come out. She did. For about thirty seconds.

I thought she’d stay right on the patio and maybe pull out her chalk. She did. For about thirty seconds.

She PLAYED like I have never seen her play. I did dishes as I watched her explore, drag her toys around, bury things in the dirt, and fling rocks all around. When five minutes was up, I opened the door and asked her if she was ready to come in or if she wanted to stay out. She wanted to stay out. 10 minutes later, she wanted to stay out longer. 10 more minutes… 10 more minutes… 10 more minutes… She ended up staying out 45 minutes before I told her we needed to come in so I could read to her before room time. I ended up doing dishes, sweeping the kitchen, planning preschool for the week, calling a friend, and drinking a cup of coffee!

We are planning on putting up a privacy fence around about half of the backyard. We’ll dig it down about a foot so hopefully that will keep most snakes out. Until then, I won’t let Gelato out on his own (especially not with the giant playset he loves to climb) and will be super cautious about letting Hula Girl out. But I do think this will be a wonderful new addition to our daily routine.

Thank you Katie for helping me see the value of outside alone time! :)

 

 

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 195 other followers

%d bloggers like this: