July 28, 2003

A weekend of preperations... This weekend was spent getting everything ready for the new baby. We washed baby clothes and diapers, set up a dresser with a changing pad in our room, got the bed rail out (instead of a crib) and sewed some cloth wipes to use for diaper changes. In addition Serona worked on finishing one of the bookshelves for the kids and we obtained a free dresser that needed to be refinished and so he spent almost all day Sunday sanding this dresser and getting it ready to be stained. He did a really great job on both the dresser and the shelves and we are excited to have them come inside sometime soon! He really is a great provider for our family in so many ways.

In addition the weekend was spent walking and doing other activities to try to encourage my puttering labor along. Sometime yesterday I finally gave up and realized she will come when she is ready and apparently was only contracting my body for three consecutive days to get ready for a later date. I have decided to take advantage of the time and just enjoy the few days or weeks we have as a family of four (five if you count our Aussie) and really try to give the kids some special time.

My nesting instinct finally kicked in this morning at about 5:30 am when I got up and had the incredible urge to wash our living room floor. It would not go away and I could not fall asleep - so up I got and washed our floor twice, moving whatever furniture I could and then I climbed back into bed for a few minutes until the rest of the family woke up and we began our day.

I realized this morning while lying in bed through contractions that the days I enjoy the most are the ones I spend with the kids - doing activites and things they enjoy. Not just passively letting them lead the day, but planning activities and then following through with them. Helping guide and be involved in their play and learning. As of lately I have often left them to their own devices as I get tired and I find we all get on each others nerves more that way. What my kids most want is me involved in their lives, in whatever way that takes.

So perhaps my blogging will decrease for a little while as I try to spend more time with them, understanding that soon my time will be even more divided. Hope you and yours are all doing well.


July 25, 2003

Late night laundry...After nearly three hours of consistent contractions (relax they are just Braxton-Hicks) and the reminder that I am already dialated I came home to discover Serona had made an attic trip to bring down much of our baby stuff. I wanted to leave it until tommorrow, but could not resist. I opened one of the boxes and started going through all the little baby clothes and decided to sort it and wash it tonight. It was so amazing to hold those little clothes and think about all that is too come and how soon it really is. The baby has dropped into position, I feel even lower than I did yesterday and the contractions are a bit longer and stronger, though still just puttering away, yet I know it won't be too long now.

Tommorrow I will try to find a place for all the baby's clothing and the ever present cloth diapers. While I love that we cloth diaper, sometimes the sheer amount of storage space needed for them is overwhelming to me! Think I will be clearing out the kids dresser and turning it into a diapering station tommorrow and washing and cleaning the carseat.

The kids and I had a good day today. My mother's helper came for two hours this morning and I just rested and even tried to nap for some of the time. I felt well rested and refreshed for the kids, it was a nice change of pace. We spent some time inside for lunch and cleanup and then headed outside. Our son played in the pool, of course and my daughter and I did some lacing cards together and then I colored some more file folder games for them. Bikes were ridden, balls were kicked and the yard received much running time before it all came to an abrupt end with a door slam on a little finger and many tears. After band-aids and washings and prayers we were better and then it was naptime. Everyone took a short nap today (my daughter and I about a half hour and my son about an hour). During his naptime we read several books and then played with Little People toys, going to the zoo and the amusement park and school and of course on the bus.

The dog barked incessentantly at the mail carrier and our son woke up. We all played together with the zoo for awhile longer and then the kids played some tunes on our feet piano. They took turns jumping and running around it in circles and playing music and songs on it for awhile while I sat and watched. Then it was cleanup and upstairs for a snack. Some more reading time and then some more outdoor play. Both asked specifically not to do "school stuff" today and as they very often ask to do it, I obliged and we just learned through our imaginary and physical play. Besides they had already learned quite a bit this morning with our mother's helper who plays all sorts of games with them and really works their imagination and reads to them as well.

Overall a fun day. A child is calling so I must go now.


July 23, 2003

Moving through the week...Lately I have not felt like the best mother or teacher, as the exhaustion of the last trimester kicks in - somedays it is all I can do to make it through the day awake! But we are all surviving here and still getting some stuff accomplished as well, and I try not to be so hard on myself - when yet another video goes into the machine, or we read Angelina Ballerina or the Wide Mouth Frog for the upteenth time this week. The kids try to keep me accountable as well as they are actually beginning to refuse to watch movies, the novelty has worn off for them and they suggest other quiet activities. My mother's helper is an amazing help as well, tommorrow when she is here I think I will just take a nap and hopefully have more energy for the kids in the afternoon.

I wish I could sleep at night but something (usually one child or another) seems to keep me awake even when I am most exhausted. Or I can fall asleep but then once I wake up it is impossible to fall back asleep again. Tonight it is contractions and heartburn - last night it was our four year old the night before our two year old and leg cramps. Someday I will know what it is like to sleep again. But atleast I need to understand (not excuse) why I am so dysfunctional during the days sometimes.

Well today is Wensday and we really only had one "school session" this week though we have accomplished more than that I know, sometimes our most effective times are in the moments when we are not trying to accomplish anything. We have worked on different skills this week, structured phonics lessons have been beyond my capabilities but we still do our informal word games and we've played with felt and sandpaper letters quite a few times this week. The file folder games are always on hand and our son in particular has shown quite a bit of interest in them, going over to the box and taking them out himself to work on. Our daughter has really been into reading this week, both with me and by herself. We finished another Narnia book last night reading four chapters as a family and tonight we started the next Prince Caspian and read two chapters before I realized I was no longer coherently reading the pages and fell asleep.

We have worked on more crafts and games this week, in followup to some of her birthday gifts. Today was play with clay day and they made some beautiful rainbows and other things. Yesterday was sewing cards (or lacing cards) and they worked on hand eye coordination and patterns. We have been playing board games quite a bit this week as well (Sorry, Chutes and Ladders, Yahtzee, a great german four in one game, tangram patterns, and yes I'll admit it Pretty, Pretty Princess) and they are learning alot through those games, especially about math, colors, logic and matching. They are learning to take turns and are more patient than I would have thought (especially my son) and they seem to really enjoy themselves playing and I enjoy it as well.

In addition we have been working on counting and sorting objects. Our two year old found a bag of foam frogs and lizards in different colors and enjoys sorting them by color and learning to count them by putting them in his felt number book. He traces the felt number with his hand and we say it together and then count out the frogs or lizards to go on the page. He really is a very hands on child. We've also been trying to do a few puzzles each day, still pretty simple ones - but they both really enjoy this one wooden puzzle where they use a magnetic net or fishing pole to catch fish or butterflies and other bugs, they both want to do that one all the time. They have also been enjoying a dress up puzzle where you dress up mother, father and baby bear in different outfits and then tell stories about them.

Of course their world of make believe seems to only grow stronger as I grow weaker (THANKFULLY). Today their object of choice was clothing hangars, they were a variety of things but they played with a half dozen hangars for about a half hour on my living room floor. And of course our daughter was a princess again today, headed to a ball, she had a crown, a magic mirror/wand and a little purse she carried around. I felt terrible when I didn't even have the energy to pretend with her and she was left to her own devices. Yet I remind myself these days are rare and are good for them as well as they build some independence, some dependence on each other and an understanding that I can not be their continual entertainment source. I'm just so glad they are in a stage where they mostly get along with one another and enjoy playing together.

We also spent some time outside each day, our son goes right for the pool and our daughter explores and pretends throughout the yard or swings in the hammock with me. today a pretty good game of Red Light, Green Light took place and they did manage to tire themselves out some I think. We took a family walk on Monday that was quite nice (bugs excepted) and have been trying to enjoy the glorious weather we have been blessed with as of late here. They are working on riding their bikes and learning to kick a soccer ball and enjoy our garden (which is also suffering from my pregnancy) and love spending time with our neighbors (especially performing for them) and we are all just trying to move through the days as best we can.

I am glad that I am keeping this log because it does help me to realize that even on days when I feel like we are not accomplishing a whole lot we are doing well enough and have accomplished more than I thought we did. This week our son has really made some progress on his colors and counting and our daughter has found some more independence and a new found love for playing games (though she needs work on losing skills) and a confidence that she can learn a new skill such as lacing or sewing. They have found new levels of patience and compassion as they try to help me when I am tired or dealing with contractions. They are learning that the world around them goes on and that they can not always be the center of attention, but that they are still blessed with lots of love and attention. They have learned to rely on each other and themselves for entertainment when I am unable to provide it. They have learned to make mature decisions about what they want to do (playing with clay or reading a book with mom instead of watching a video) and to ask for their desires more. I'm glad some of these lessons are coming now - as they will become important with the very near arrival of their new sibling.

The time is coming soon when I will have three children's activities to report on here, though for the first few months the baby will spend most of her days in my arms or a sling, nursing, sleeping and taking in the world around her. We went to the doctor today, the kids were so good there and on short notice. Everything about our doctor routine was thrown out of whack, we went to a different office and got called in at the last minute to come an hour early, the midwife was rushed (as she was delivering a baby today) and we had to perform some different tests. The kids really showed compassion when I had to have a painful internal exam today. My son who was standing next to me with a big smile on his face from hearing the baby's heartbeat, suddenly looked torn between pain and a desire to comfort me and anger and a desire to be very unhappy with my doctor when he heard and saw me be in pain during my exam. As the tears welled up in his eyes - I hugged him and the midwife hugged me to show him that she wasn't trying to hurt me and that everything was okay. We had talked about it ahead of time, but it was too much for him. Guess it does reassure me that we are making the right choice to not have the kids at the delivery this time.

Our eldest was present for the birth of her brother but she was only 20 months old and did very well. It was powerful to have her there and she was able to be distracted from my sounds and pain. However I don't think our son would be able to - he is so sensitive and compassionate. And our daughter would be asking a million inquistive and not easy questions. As sad as I will be to have them not be a part of that experience I think wisdom is speaking when it says not this time.

I am wondering when the time will be, while I am not due for another three plus weeks I am beginning to feel like things are starting to get moving and we are preparing to be ready to go sometime next week if need be, but trying not to get our hopes up and be prepared for the baby to hold on for another month or so. Though to be honest another month of pregnancy seems real long to me right now! Well thanks for reading.


July 22, 2003

Earth Facts & Fun Learning     I came across these today and, as my (not-so) little one has been asking questions about the earth's core, I though I'd share.

This is a list of 101 "Amazing Earth Facts", including, for my princess, facts about the earth's crust, mantle, core, and other fun stuff.

Check it out!
101 Amazing Earth Facts

July 20, 2003

Journaling (and blogging) our history... Tonight I was asleep by 9pm but I awoke around 1 am to Serona coming into bed, finally waking up from our son's bed I suppose and then the contractions, heartburn, late night insomnia struck. I laid in bed for over an hour and then gave up and came into the living room.

I decided to journal to each of the kids. I spent one complete run through of Norah Jones' CD on the journal for my son and another complete run of the albulm for the baby's journal. I had just written our daughter on her birthday and decided I would try to sleep. No such luck, so I read some news, and decided to update you all on our week. I am still not feeling tired, but knowing tommorrow will be a fun day and I need to be in good spirits for her party I really hope I can fall asleep soon (As I am pretty grumpy) when I don't sleep. I guess I am ahead of the game as I already got nearly 4 hours uninterupted sleep (more than I get total some nights) before my little insomnia break and in reality the kids will be up in about 2- 21/2 hours anyway!

I really enjoy journaling to the kids and writing this blog. Some people are so good about scrapbooking and keeping either photo or video records of their kids lives and while I have managed to get my pictures taken and somewhat organized (sorry I never remember to send them out before they've changed so much again) and we have tried to take video of atleast the major events in their lives I am not talented in either area and they are struggles for me. I do not think I will ever be a "Creative Memories" guru like so many of the women out here. Atleast I took some pictures and maybe I can put a few in an albulm some day when I have time again and the kids are older (will that day ever come?) Yet I realize I am a very oral person, I love to talk, to write, to listen and to read. I love history and hearing people's stories, birth stories, college stories, love stories, any kind of story - so that is how I think I will pass our history on to our children - through words (some pictures) but mostly words.

When I was pregnant with our first padawan my mother bought me a journal to write to the baby, I will most likely finish that first journal's last page tommorrow after our daughter's 4th birthday party. I wrote alot in the beginning, when I was pregnant and had no other kids. Granted I was still busy (completing my MA in Communications, teaching public speaking at the college level, interning for the university's public affairs department and coaching the debate team - which still took up much of my life) but it was a different kind of busy and I always seemed to find time to write - about the excitments, challenges, fears and joys of pregnancy and upcoming motherhood.

I continued to fill those pages throughout the days of her early childhood, documenting some of her milestones in those pages as I saw them, not merely date and event, but the story of how it unfolded and I how I felt and how I thought she might have felt by what she was expressing or doing at the time. Through those pages I also shared my history, her father's history, some family hsitory and our dreams. I shared some of our decisions and why we made them even when they were so different from others (extended nursing, attachment parenting, cloth diapering, vegetarianism, selective vaccination, co-sleeping, sling wearing, non-seperation, no T.V, homeschooling and the list of our "weirdness" goes on) and the reasons behind them and the confidence that her father and I had that we were making the right choices for the family. I shared our faith and the importance of a relationship with Jesus Christ and how that informs so many other aspects of our lives. These are the sorts of things I fill their journals with, each of them individually and some day when the time is right I will pass these on to each of them and they will have a small record of our family's history, beliefs, values and choices. They will have a glimpse at their lives and how they were raised and why they were raised that way and they will know their story and mine. This is exciting to me and each time I start to write to one of them the pages unfold in a way I never anticipated.

Tonight I wrote to my son about how wonderful he is (of course) and about his language development and passion for artistic things, but I also wrote about how challenging his temperament can be for me when he goes through temper tantrums and talked about learning to communicate with one another. I was honest and open and loving and surprised even myself with what I wrote. I ended up writing a long piece on the joys and passion of reading and how important and wonderful it is and what a part of my life it is.

I started to write the baby inside me about the anticipation of her arrival and all our preperations and ended up writing about some of the ways we choose to parent and why and how much I love the early days of motherhood that so many people dread (the sleepless nights, the continuous neediness of a newborn) and why. I wrote about my mixed emotions about pregnancy (being ready for it to be over now and wanting to wait until she is readY). I wrote about motherhood and some of my approaches and feelings towards it and about siblings and preparing children to accept that a babies needs often have to come first.

I am always amazed at all the things that pour out of me when I start writing. Like tonight - you thought you were just going to read about our homeschool events of the past few days and instead you got so much more. Perhaps more than you bargained for or wanted, but there it is, you could always choose not to read. But I am glad that you are. I write this blog to share our stories, to share our days and our history with you and to keep a record of it for ourselves. Thanks for taking the time to read it.

Love and Peace,
I get knocked down, but I get up again...Well despite my best efforts, I too received the children's illness and it knocked me out for almost two days. Serona had to work from home and play daddy on Thursday while I spent the day in bed. The kids did pretty well and I believe he was even able to accomplish some work! Of course they were fed an unhealthy diet of videos on Thursday and Friday, i'm trying to comfort myself with the fact that they don't watch that many in a normal week and the fact that they were enjoying themselves. Our daughter of course did not let us go without doing some school activites and reading of course. I managed to spend some time with her in my bed going over her letters and phonics. She would pick up either a felt or sandpaper letter out of the box, make the sound and name some words that started with that letter. We also made pictures and shapes with tangrams and did some simple math equations with some frog foam pieces. And of course we all read some books throughout the day, her new favorite is Quick as a Cricket and I quite enjoy reading that one as well. She also drew me pictures to try to help me feel better and worked on being a helper quite a bit, especially on Friday when Serona went back to work.

Our son must be going through a developmental milestone again, perhaps moving to using full sentences more frequently (he does have a few he uses regularaly) or else was just fed up with the week's captivity and had a rough day on Friday. He was an emotional ball of energy and had several rough temper tantrums. One of the only things that calmed him down was water. One time we just filled the sink and he did the dishes, or tried anyway and he seemed to enjoy himself and calm down again. Another time we went outside (had to drag the oldest outside) and he put his Little Tykes scooter car in the wading pool and drove and bounced around on it, this kept him entertained and calm for nearly a half hour as I swayed in the hammock and listened to our daughter talk about what I can not remember right now.

Serona came home that night and took the kids and the dog on a long bike ride which everyone seemed to enjoy (though it may have been too long for our poor dog's paw) and they came back in a relatively good mood to eat dinner and get ready for bed. Serona headed out into the garage to work on the bookshelves again (he has one nearly finished and the wood cut and sanded for the other two) and I took on the challenge of getting the kids to sleep and then kept Serona company in our garage as he sanded wood.

Today was a very busy day as we played catch up and tried to get things ready for the big birthday bash tommorrow. The kids kind of moved back and forth between us as they fancied, I was inside all day and Serona was outside nearly all day so they had options. I spent the day cleaning and organizing the house, cleaning and catching up from the lost week of illness and getting ready for tommorrow. Organizing as I try to get things in order before padawan number three arrives and throws our lives out of whack again!

Serona was working on the bookshelves and the yard, mowing, cleaning, scooping poop, setting things nice for tommorrow 's(assuming it doesn't pour - which sadly it might) butterfly birthday pool party. The kids alternated back and forth between us - running around outside and playing with their bikes and toys and "helping" daddy and chalking the sidewalk. When inside they helped me clean some, but mostly the two of them played together in their own imaginary world. They got out a pop up tent that grandma sent that has a hospital/fire department/police station/grocery store on each side and played a variety of games in it. When they became bored with that - they headed for their staples, empty laundry baskets, mom's bathrobe tie and some cloth napkins (I am forever amazed at all the different things these three things can become in the course of a day - much less a week) and they were off again.

I did take some breaks with each of them to work with them one on one. Our eldest practiced writing her letters, numbers and a story that I stamped out with dotted letters for her. She also spent a good portion of her time reading quietly by herself or to her dolls. Today she was a princess and carried around a cell phone, two headbands, a ribbon, a wand and of course a cloth napkin. I'm still not sure what it all signified. Our son and I worked on his letters with a toy he enjoys that you roll the letter across the top and it tells you the letter, the sound and some words. He also tried to play with his siser's leap pad and kinderbot. We read together and then he was back outside with daddy. He did actually help me clean, he really is a big helper and enjoys it, especially sweeping, doing dishes and throwing things in the garbage!

We got a lot accomplished but by 8pm we were all exhausted. The kids got a quick bath and then went to sleep with Serona reading to them (I think he feel asleep in our son's bed first) but I went into our bedroom intending to do laundry, laid down and it was all over before 9pm for me.


July 15, 2003

A full birthday...Today was a wonderful, though exhausting day, and it is still not over yet! Our daughter turned four today and we pretty much gave her control of the day - which started just before 7am this morning. We began the day with some special storytime - just mommy and her (while her brother still slept), then it was time to make some breakfast (she requested hard boiled eggs). We opened her first present of the day, from one set of grandparents - chompo bar (this makes sense to anyone who has read A Birthday for Frances , some tights and a check for upcoming dance lessons. She immediately asked for a bite of the chompo (candy bar) and even though it was before breakfast I conceded. Then her uncle who is here visiting woke up as did her brother and we headed out for a breakfast treat up at the local bakery - so far we have had a cupcake and bite of candy bar (is this my child? - well it is her birthday) she decided against finishing the cupcake and asked for her eggs instead (now that sounds more like her!) and a pile of presents from her three uncles and grandparents came out of a bag and were set on the table - where she worked through them throughout the day, opening one and then playing for awhile with that. Her uncle worked with our son on a new bunch of flash cards including identifying sea creatures, colors, numbers, shapes and other miscellaneous items. We sat and worked together on another quiet activity that is escaping me right now.

A change of pace came around 10am when some friends came over to play, a family from our homeschool group - with children similar ages and the same gender, they are also due a few weeks behind me. We played in our basement until the kids could no longer use inside voices - then we were outside to burn some energy and play in the pool (while dodging the bugs). They did this until shortly before the family had to leave - at which point more gifts were opened (including a handpainted wrapping paper one that contained paint supplies - hooray!) and snacks were had (tofu and pretzels with juice) and then goodbyes. I think the girls were sad to go, but the boys were probably ready to be apart - our son was quite ready for a nap.

Lunchtime, really an extension of snack time, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were added to the tofu and pretzels remaining on the plate. Then it was off for our sons nap - while our daughter finished her lunch and decided to have some quiet time with God, she sat in my bed and prayed after she finished while she waited for me to be done. This was the first time she has done something like this and it was amazing and beautiful to me. Once he fell asleep I went to her and asked what she wanted to do. She asked for school time, I let her pick what she wanted to do. We began with a felt set in progress on "Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You Hear?" She would pick up the pieces one by one and recite the story from memory (not sure if it was in order - but that really did not matter). Then we talked about the life cycle of a butterfly (butterflies are the theme for her birthday this year) and she put some flash cards in the proper order of the life cycle. Then we moved on to file folder games - we worked on rhyming words and then sounding out words to match to the pictures. We did three sets and then called it a lesson.

We moved out to the living room where we proceeded to read about 10 stories quietly together on the couch. Then it was time to open another present in her mind. She received a Cinderella doll (NOT a barbie) birthday set and she wanted me to play pretend with her and cinderella. We did this until her brother woke up. Then all of us made a cake together - they were very excited to get to use the measuring cups and electric mixer (though they were disappointed I would not let them crack the eggs) while the cake cooked we went back into the living room and worked on a wooden puzzle together. A dress up the bears puzzle with a family of bears (mother, father and son) we would each dress one up and then take turns telling stories about the bears and what they were doing now. It was a lot of fun. The kids played quiely together while I cleaned up from lunch and baking and then we had some more storytime all together.

Another present was opened, this time a Disney version of the boardgame "Sorry" and we had to immediately play. Though it is much more challenging to play this game with a two year old and four year old than I would have thought. Our two year old eventually just had run of the pieces and soon became interested in some other flash cards and a magna doodle type thing that allowed us to finish the game - I lost of course. I suddenly ran out of energy completely and we all climbed into bed with a big stack of alphabet books that our son received today and worked our way through the alphabet - reading the uppercase letter, the four pictures and the lower case letter for each. Then we began to play flash card games, I was playing two at the same time, one was a version of the card game war, with Dinosaur pictures - which she really enjoyed. The other was simply helping our son name each thing on the cards as he flew through them and of course preventing him from ripping the boxes apart or bending and eating the cards! They did amazingly well staying in bed with me for awhile.

Then daddy returned home with some beautiful flowers for the birthday girl and we all were reenergized to have him home. Daddy and daughter headed to the store for some last minute treats and neccessities while we made dinner and then played some computer games (working on shapes, letters and mouse coordination) and of course spent some time at the Bob the Builder website. It is always nice to get some one on one time with him. Then it was dinner, presents and cake. Serona actually cut a sheet cake into the shape of a beautiful butterfly and decorated it wonderfully. While he was doing all the hardwork I was playing with her new gifts with her. We read another book (can't even count how many today) called Quick as a Cricket that we gave her today and then worked through her new My First Spanish Picture Dictionary care of her aunt, uncle and cousin in California. Then we did a puzzle of the life cycle of a butterfly - four seperate puzzles that you put together in stages to form the whole lifecycle. She wanted to do it again and we did. Then the cake was done and we sang Happy Birthday and enjoyed cake. Then it was outside for some Fireworks!!!! Serona put on a wonderful show for her big day (leftovers we put aside at the 4th for the occasion) and we braved the bugs (which truly were terrible - but worth it) and then in for baths, bedtime routine and a chapter from A Horse and His Boy. I think they have finally fallen asleep while I write this. I am off the finish laundry, take a shower and get to bed.


July 14, 2003

A day of recovery...Well today was spent recovering from last nights illnesses and mommy trying to prevent herself and baby from getting sick. It was a day of stories, movies, books and quiet activities. We camped out in the basement for most of the day cuddled under blankets watching videos and reading stories. We took a two hour nap in the afternoon and just rested throughout the day. Our daughter still wanted to do some school stuff, she wanted to practice writing. So she practiced her lower case letters (followed the dots for the whole alphabet) and then her numbers 1-10 by dots again. We made her number practice into a little handheld book, by finding an online resource that allowed me to print out a book template that she just needed to trace and then I cut and stapled into a book of butterflies (her upcoming birthday theme). A very low key day.


July 13, 2003

A weekend of outdoor activities... Well the weather here has been beautiful and we have tried to take advantage of it in as many ways as possible. Saturday morning the kids headed right outside with daddy as he mowed the lawn and took care of the yard (I got to sleep in, hooray!) then we were off for lunch at an outdoor cafe in our neighborhood. After breakfast it was off to the park for a walk, we found a stage and the kids put on some shows for us and ran around having a good time. They really can be hams just like Serona when they want to. Then it was off to a friends house for a very fun outdoor birthday party - froggie theme. All the kids ran around the yard and kept sliding into a little blowup pool, they also had a very small baby pool that they all insisted on piling in for a "hottub". There were quite a few kids there ages ranging from 10 months to 4 years old. The 2-4 year olds played very well together and the parents were all amazed that they were very good about lining up and taking turns and there were no real squabbles. Then cupcakes and ice cream and presents and hitting the pinata and it was quite a good day. We headed home and let them run around the yard for a bit more before dinner (until the bugs overtook us) and then dinner, a bath and bed.

Today we started the outdoors again this morning with a trip to the bagel shop and a hike in the forest, a picnic lunch in the park, some playground time and then flying a kite - a good family day. We headed home and took naps and then headed back outside for a little while to play with the neighborhood children. The bugs once again led us back inside for dinner, a bath and bedtime. Tonight as I type however the children are still awake and watching a movie (after falling asleep), both seem to have come down with something and have been taking turns being sick (lucky us) so they are cuddled up together under a blanket, laying on our futon watching Little Bear (A video series I even enjoy watching with them). Serona is outside building bookshelves (isn't he awesome?) in our garage for our basement.

Even though we spent so much time outside they still managed to fit some "schooltime" in - by their own choices. Both asked to do some file folder games each day. Our son worked on his shapes, colors, pattern matching and family groupings and our daughter worked on addition, subtraction and sounding out words to match to pictures. They both had some special quiet time with me to work on their subjects and both worked on puzzles individually and together as well. We worked on a sticker book with our son and our daughter reread some of the books she made herself. They both had some art time both on their easel and on the sidewalk with chalk! And I'm sure there were many other things I am forgetting about. And I'm not even going into detail about all the "teachable moments" and lessons we had spontaneously throughout our outdoor weekend.


July 10, 2003

A Day of Choices...Today we had a midwife appointment and the kids usually do not do so well on those days, so I decided to try something different. From the time they woke up today I let the kids pick what we would do and when, I resisted my urge to say no or not now (the only inflexibility was the doctor's appointment). I must admit I was worried they would pick videos all day, and they did ask to watch one, but not all day long - they truly surprised me. We began the day by snuggling back in bed (how lucky am I) and cuddling together and telling stories. Mostly our daughter took the lead as storyteller, though sometimes my son would give her an idea for a story (he asked for pooh, marshmallows and walk) and she worked with it! She told some fabulous stories about Benkin (the mouse that lives in a tree in our yard - from Daddy stories) and about Polly and Peter (the kids from the Narnia series) and about Winne the Pooh and piglet. Of course her and her brother and the dog were in all the stories as well (I was hardly involved) it was so amazing to hear her tell stories, this went on for well over a half hour, close to an hour actually. Then we were up and they had breakfast - unlimited cheerios with berries and soymilk (amazing how much they can eat when those choose it) then we read some stories and finally got out of pajamas.

Then I was told to sit on the couch and watch their performances and shows. They did wonderful ballet, spinnig, dancing and falling - it was so cute to watch our 2 year old imitating his big sister. After much applause and bravos and encores they were finished. Then they continued into their imaginary land - today a band from my robe and a laundry basket were the primary props. Then it was time for more reading, about a half hour or so. Then they finally caved and asked to watch a movie, since the point was to let them pick I resisted the temptation to say no and downstairs we went. I snoozed on the couch while they watched Stuart Little 2 and part of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (I really only let them watch some of the songs and not any of the second half). Then upstairs for lunch, they chose more Cheerios and again I resisted the urge to say no. It was time to get ready for the midwife appointment and I let them pick out some toys they wanted to bring to keep themselves entertained, again I was surprised. They each picked two file folder games, an abacus, The Wide Mouth Frog book with their puppets, some wooden cars to drive around and a wooden fashion plates (similar to paper dolls) and their new baby dolls they made yesterday, and each got a book for the car and I let them pick the music (A Down on the Farm tape) with lots of animal sounds! The car ride was fun singing down on the farm and so on - until they feel asleep.

They actually did fairly well at the dr's even and enjoyed hearing the baby's heartbeat and being helpers. Then we went grocery shopping at Whole Foods and they enjoyed driving the car that is under the cart. Headed home, put away groceries and started dinner. Then on with routines from there. Thanks for reading.


July 9, 2003

Sock Dolls and Toucans... Today we worked on our arts and crafts skills and our creativity. Our homeschool group sponsored a sock doll workshop - which is exactly what it sounds like, making a doll out of socks. They came out really cute, our son made a blue and red striped doll and our daughter and bright yellow and pink one. They cut the socks and stuffed a body and a head and then sewed them together, drew faces (I was not brave enough to sew faces) and then sewed on a hat and some ribbons. Okay so I did most of the sewing (all of our two year olds) but she tried and did a pretty good job with help, but lost patience, the proccess probably took about an hour to an hour and a half. But they are very happy with the end result and have been playing with them. They were much easier than I had anticipated and I had fun as well. After the workshop the kids all played together and had a good time. This family had a wonderful loft with lots of fun toys to encourage use of imagination and creative play. They also had many natural and wooden toys and it was wonderful for the kids.

We also had some free drawing time here (one of my son's new favorites) and colored pictures of toucans because our daughter picked up her "Big Book of Tell Me Why" and pointed to the page about toucans. So we read that, found color pictures of toucans online, listened to some live toucan sounds (individual and groups) and found coloring pages and information pages about toucans. So we had an impromptu lesson about toucans. Maybe tommorrow we can get a book out of the library and see if they have a toucan puppet.

Earlier today we had a playdate with one of our son's friends and they enjoyed doing several file folder games together (shape match, color match, butterfly patterns) and playing with our plastic farm animal toys and some matchbox cars they lined up and drove around the mat. Our son also took my laundry basket while I was folding clothes and decided to make it a boat and rode around the house, it tipped and sank and went really fast according to him. Then he let his sister pull him around in it and I think they were pretending it was a horse. They also took an airplane again today (a daily occurence for them) and went to the "office" and took care of "business". I am just about to set out the playdoh while i finish up dinner preperations and last minute cleanup.

It was a very busy and fun filled day but somehow I seem less tired today than I did yesterday - when it seems as if we did so much less. I guess keeping ourselves busy requires less energy in some ways!

Writing, math and file folders...This weekend and the beginning of the week we have been very loose in our schooling. Each day our daughter has spent some time with her file folders, doing some basic math equations with her abacus, and practicing writing her letters. She loves to ask us to "dot" her some letters to practice writing and really enjoys challenge words like grandma and The United States of America, both which she practiced this weekend. We of course are reading quite a bit, some recent books include "A Birthday for Frances", "My Bible Storybook", "Little Bear and his friends", "Sailor Moo", "hugh can do", and a big point and say book that our son enjoys for saying words and learning colors. They also finished "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" and began "The Horse and his boy" this week. The books we read are too numerous to post here as we read many each day, storytime is one of their favorites. I just thought I would give you a flavor, those are the books we read during a quiet storytime yesterday afternoon. We've also been utilizing Lincoln Logs and Lego's lately and my son has a wooden workbench he is enjoying pounding on. Their imaginary play is of course in full swing, yesterday they were playing with the dolls from the Toy Story series (Jessie, Woody and Buzz) and a bunch of cloth napkins, pillows and baby blankets and it was a blast for them. It is good they are able to entertain themselves for periods of time as I fill my energy dropping and disapperaing as the days go by.


July 3, 2003

Real School Time...Today our daughter wanted some real school time during her brother's nap. So we went downstairs and worked at her desk, we did some punch and pull self-correcting math cards that helped her practice and learn addition. We worked together for about 10 minutes while I showed her how it worked and how to use her abacus to help her with the problem and then we put a stack of 10 problems ranging from 0+5 to 9+8 in the card holder and let her work by herself. She got every one right the first time! Of course she was using the abacus to visually do them, but I was still so proud of her and she was really enjoying it. Then we did some basic phonics work on the short vowel A, teaching her the sound and several words that started with it, having her trace with her finger and then practice writing it by herself and then we sounded out several three letter short a words. Then it was reading time, I read to her for about 20 minutes and then she had some free play time and a snack and then practiced some music on her keyboard and then practiced cutting with ribbon and yarn. All in all we probably worked together for about an hour and a half and she was so excited. Then we cleaned up and her brother woke up, perfect timing. In addition both kids practiced riding their bicycles in the street (with parents and helmets of course) - I still can't believe she is riding a two wheeler already!!!! The rest of the day was dedicated to free play and trying to stay cool in this heat. They really enjoyed our little pool and being chased by each other with buckets of water and having me spray them down with the hose.

I also got some more materials development done, laminating the file folders and working on sandpaper letters for our son to trace. I am tracing punch out letters onto sandpaper and then glueing them onto wood to make nice tacticle letters for the kids to work with. We also have some felt ones. I also made some more progress on our felt learning kits. Will probably be quiet here for the next few days as we have a bunch of out of town guests (again) and the holiday weekend. Hope all is well with you and your families!


July 2, 2003

Materials Development...Today was a pretty hard day for me physically, I was very limited in my movements and therefore spent most of the day laying or sitting down, limiting our options some. I decided to take advantage of the time though and double task - with materials development for the kids. Today I actually accomplished quite a bit, I put together 11 file folder games and 8 felt kits. They are not fully complete but most of the way there. It really gave me a sense of accomplishment. During this time the kids mostly played around me, it was a day of imaginative play and running around the house mostly. Though our son spent quite a bit of time with PlayDoh and our daughter managed to create two books of art. Our daughter spent her quiet time with file folder games, teaching her stuffed animals class, and working on art projects with me. Our son spent his time travelling in the car practicing his ABC's and counting to 10. We read a few books, relaxed and they ran out some energy outside while I lazed in the hammock. All in all a good day despite the limitation of barely being able to walk today!

A Day in the Strawberry Patch... We went to an organic strawberry farm with our homeschool group yesterday. The farm was a wonderful organic farm that has strawberry, raspberry, and apple picking as well as fresh produce. While I must admit I questioned my sanity taking a 4 year old and 2 year old strawberry picking while 8 months pregnant on a hot summer day, it was worth it! Our daughter had a grand time picking them and was able to pick properly. Our son just enjoyed picking them off and eating them immediately or eating all the ones I had already put in the box. Somehow we still managed to pick about 4 pounds, though he probably ate nearly another pound along the way. We also picked up some fresh spinach, red leaf lettuce, kale, squash, basil and snow peas! The kids enjoyed seeing the garden and picking the strawberries and then playing on the swing set and climber afterwards. Later that afternoon we watched the ocean life science video we had from last week and talked about ocean animals and things we saw on the farm. I was really too tired to do much of anything else after the activity of the day. Atleast they were able to proccess the fact that their food does not truly grow in the grocery store (or in our case the truck that delivers our groceries) and to connect with the amount of work it takes to obtain our food. I'll tell you after the day I appreciate why they cost so much per pound! I also really enjoyed being able to support local organic farmers (though these ones were in Wisconsin) and the fact that the kids spent the day in two seperate states, which is always fun.