Sunday, January 14, 2018

2017 in Review

Wow! It has been a year since my last post. I am not at all surprised I didn't carve out time to keep up with this blog. 2017 was a crazy busy year for us. Every time I felt we were settling into a new routine and catching our breathes things changed again.

I think that's what the theme for 2017 was for our family- Change. We sold our home of 7 years in March. We had a 20 day time limit from acceptance of offer to signing and leaving. We did not find a home to purchase in those 20 days and so moved into a 2 bedroom apartment. We lived there for three months. The first month was fun. Almost all of our possessions were in storage so we were living very minimally. The kids thought this was awesome. The not only shared a room, but a bed as well. Being in such a small space we couldn't get away from one another and were always on top of each other. Like I said, the first month was fun. After that I was desperately house hunting at all hours of the day.

Our first home
The balcony was the kids' yard in which to
play at the apartment.

Due to the smallness of the apartment, we really got to know our new town's parks. We spent most of our afternoons at one of the surrounding parks and attending many of the Park and Rec events. Babycake's 5th birthday was at one these new parks. Her theme was superheroes. She was so lucky to have many family and friends attend. Buddyboy's 2nd birthday was held at Monkey Joe's. Due to the cost of such an event, and the fact we couldn't host in our apartment, we only had family attend. Both kids enjoyed both parties.

Checking out an emergency helicopter during our town's Safety Day!

Kids got to help paint Babycake's new room!
Now our 20 day house sale was crazy, but that seemed to be the way the market was last year. Every house that was listed seemed to sell within 24 hours of popping on the market. I was truly grateful I was home all day with the kids and only worked evenings at this time. I was able to continuously watch listings and meet our realtor at a house almost with in 2 hours of the house having been listed. I honestly lost count of the number of houses we saw. We made offers on 4. We were outbid on all four. Amazingly on the last house we made an offer the people who outbid us and were accepted backed out and we were next in line.

Yay! We finally had a home! I have to admit the kids were troopers through the whole selling/buying/ moving process. Babycake was excited to move and never had any fits about it. Buddyboy was too small to fully understand the life changes happening around him. We could not have asked for better kids. Love them!

The time line of finalizing the sale and our rent ending was pretty perfect. We had a week from buying the house to having to be out of the apartment. We got new floors installed (of course home improvement never goes as planned but I won't go into that.) We didn't think moving a second time in one year was easy enough, so we decided to go on a two week vacation for Hubby's 30th birthday the week after our move. Who cared that our house was a disaster of boxes and disarray? While the trip was nice, especially b/c we left the kiddos with Grandma and Grandpa, I was happy to come back and get our life into some kind of order. Then of course the dishwasher pooped out with in the first month of home ownership. Our AC froze over the second month, and on the third month Babycake started Kindergarten. What?!? How is my baby old enough to be in school?!

Frozen over AC creeping into the house

Waiting for the bus and Buddyboy thinks he's going with
Babycake is LOVING school. She could not wait to start school like many of her friends did last year. She gets to ride the bus, and there are three other kids in our new neighborhood who are in her class,  then a couple more kids are also in Kindergarten. We are very happy with our new neighborhood.

Babycake has made a lot of friends and her teacher is Amazing. I don't know how she heard about it, but within the first month of school Babycake was asking if she could be a Girl Scout. With all the changes and new things in our lives I really did not want to have her join any extra curricular activities. However, I went to the information meeting, and low and behold, I came home the Co-leader for Babycake's new Daisy troop. Needless to say she also loves Girl Scouts. She and her friends regularly ask when the next troop meeting is because they "CANNOT wait!" for the next one.

First GS Fun Badge!
During Fall Break the kids and I went on a road trip to visit friends in Ohio. They are homeschooled so it was wonderful we could go during the week and all of our schedules worked. Our friends moved there a couple years ago and I am truly grateful our friendship has been able to continue despite the distance and the crazy that is family life.

About half way through fall semester I got a promotion at my job at the YMCA. This of course comes with more hours than I was previously doing. Buddyboy does not like the amount of time we are at work. He is at a stage where he is big enough he can handle being in the big kid area and play well there, however he is not fully potty trained so he is not technically allowed out of the toddler area.

So. We are also potty training. Buddyboy has shown interest in using the potty for a long time, and any time he requested to sit on the potty we helped him. At this point he is fine at home. He rarely has accidents. However, he does not wear underwear or diapers at home (except for naps and bedtime of course). He does have to wear pull-ups when at work, so he has a harder time telling he has to pee and honestly doesn't care if he does b/c he knows it doesn't make a mess. So, this whole process may take more time getting down pat when we are not home. Please keep your fingers crossed for us!

Potty training attire
Finally, we went south to visit family over the new year weekend. We came back to find our furnace not working and the house at a chilly 40*. We had come home Sat afternoon. A technician came within an hour of our calling, but would not be able to get the needed part until Tuesday due to it being a holiday weekend with the new year starting Monday and his supply garage being closed. We are so grateful to our friends that took us in for two nights. On the third night of no heat we camped out in the basement with space heaters. The kids had a great time and slept really well.

That's our year in a nut shell. I'm hoping 2018 is a little less busy and gives us time to breath.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Bright Beginngs Update

The holidays are over! Hooray! As fun as they are, I think everyone can agree the holiday season is also crazy busy and stressful. Now that it is over though I have a break to share some of the new things were trying and enjoying. I'm determined that we will have a more regular school schedule as well as daily routine. Obviously I have resolutions for the new year ;-)

There were a few months when it was difficult to find time to sit down with Babycake and go over our lessons. She was still regularly taking naps and they lined up with Buddyboy's. However, when they would both be awake, Buddyboy (who has no slow mode) couldn't be distracted in order to get in a 5-20 min lesson with Babycake. Now, Buddyboy still doesn't have a slow mode, but he can be content to sit and try painting, play-doh, stickers,or sorting shapes for 5-10 min giving Babycake and I enough time to go over together what the lesson for the day is and allows me to sit with them both and share in the excitement of discovery.

Babycake with her spelling puzzles
Buddyboy sorting shapes in no particular order
Babycake playing math game
Buddyboy with Play-Doh

As I've mentioned before in previous posts, Babycake became frustrated with furthering our Bob Books reading. So for x-mas she received some Leap Frog Tag books and a Tag pen. The pen will read the simple books to the child as well as define words and play games. This has been a real hit as she likes to be independent, and I get a break from needing to entertain while at the same time she's getting a little education. I wouldn't go so far as to say these books are teaching Babycake how to read, but they do show that to read you go from right to left, and she is able to recognize a few words after pointing to them and hearing  it read to her. 

I also received "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" as an x-mas gift which I hope will help in our reading goals. So far we've done the first two lessons and flew through them. Babycake was happy to do them because she received praise for doing well. Since they are the first to lessons, they are incredibly basic and she already knew the material. I'm hoping that as the lessons progress and build she won't realize the get slightly more difficult and she continues to enjoy them.

And finally Babycake received some games by The Learning Journey Company that we really enjoy. Last year she received the Math game and we've really enjoyed it for math lessons as well as a rainy or cold day activity. So she was very excited to receive more games. The games are simple enough that she can do them on her own yet she learns at the same time. I also like that they are games/puzzles so she will let me, or her dad play with her every once in a while.

So needless to say, I'm hoping that we can stick to our new routine and enjoy some new games, stories and education along the way. Wish us luck!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Why are we surprised?

This is not a hateful note, but a simple observation I made while drifting off to sleep this last week. So I ask that before you even begin, please keep an open mind and keep reading. Also, no, I did not vote for Trump.

So. Let's begin. When did you first hear about Trump? I think I must have been in high school when the show Apprentice first started. I can't imagine any other reason I would have heard about him as my parents didn't allow my sisters and I to watch Access Hollywood, or anything on MTV. Nor did my parents subscribe to any magazines so my knowledge of celebrities, or of the rich and the famous, was limited to the movies I saw in theaters with friends and the shows they talked about watching.

How old were you then when your first heard his name? Did you grow up watching MTV as so many kids in the 90's did? Did you love watching Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous? Did you gobble up the gossip in People, Cosmo, Seventeen, or US magazines? When did Donald Trump first hit your radar?

As we should all know by now, Donald Trump did not make his fortune, he inherited it. The American media and it's people however, don't really care how an individual gets rich, as long as the rich becomes famous and gives us all something, or someone, to watch. 'Please sir, show us around your yacht. What does your mansion look like? Who is your decorator? You just divorced your wife b/c you were unfaithful?! Amazing, tell us more.'

Trump has been in our newspapers, magazines, TVs, computers, and now phones for decades. He has been making headlines about his money, multiple marriages, failed and corrupt businesses, and mistreatment of women for DECADES. Yet this country has been eating up this gossip with glee. Our country loves watching scandals.

So why are we surprised that Trump ran for president? Why are we surprised no one stopped him? Why are we surprised he is now President-elect? Yes, most of us in this country didn't vote for him. Yes, many are scared. No it's not a third party's fault. There really should be more parties represented and given options to run for president than just two. Seriously, let's be practical. Donald Trump is President-elect because he has been invading our homes for years. This country has been showering him with attention for, well honestly, for about as long as I've been alive. His name has been common and known by most people for longer than most of the country has known who Barrack Obama is. (Shocking right? Let's pause and let that one sink in a bit)

Hmmm. Wow, it's like 20 years ago Trump was famous and followed like Kim Kardashian is now.....

OK, now consider everything I've just said. Are you still really surprised? I'm not. I'm saddened. I personally am not pleased with the outcome of the election. I wasn't really too hot about the year leading up to it either. I'm not thrilled with the process of our government. Many parts of our government are out of date including the Electoral vote. If, my vote was to count, and my voice was important, why then was it not given to the individual I voted for? It was ignored and cast aside because a majority of those in my state/area voted for Trump. This is one of the many issues I've been pondering lately. These are the types of things infuriating many. I've been trying to not get down and out about it. I've been trying to keep my head cool. It doesn't always work, especially when I think about my kids and how their futures may be affected. Sitting around doing nothing though does no good. What's the use of moping, whining, complaining, fuming? There is no point. It only fuels the flame of pain and anger. That's not what we need. We need peace and love. We need patience and understanding. So what am I going to do to make the world a better place? What do you care about? What are you going to do?

"You can be anything!"

The other day I was cleaning the play room and I was stopped by Babycake's dress-up clothes. A super-girl cape, princess dress, a construction worker's hat, and a doctor's outfit. Since the day Babycake was born we've told her she can be anything she wants. I was so touched by the realization that we not only tell her she can be anything, but we encourage it in play and life. At the age of two, she came up with a little song, all her own, about being anything you want. "You can be anything! You can be anything! You can be a doctor, or a nurse, or a teacher, or a prince or princess! You can fly in space like an astronaut too! You can be anything you want to be!" The occupations may change every other rendition, but the message is always the same.

My husband and I are not the type of parents who sugar coat the idea that simply because our child wants something, she will get it. We tell her that if you want something you must work for it, and sometime it can be hard. Of course this concept of working for want you want means very little at the moment when she can simply imagine flying, and to her, she is.

In a time when so many more parents are worried about the futures of their children due to recent events I will not mention more than say elections, I've found myself drawn into the worry as well. Will our daughters be told that they are not worthy of being great, that they should be in the kitchen, that they will never be anything but a pretty face?

No, our daughters will be fine. We parents are worried about these things because we care. Because we care, we will make sure to give our children every opportunity possible to achieve more than we. My dream for my children is that they become better people than me. I myself am a good person, but I want them to be great. I want them to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit. I want them to have the serenity to accept the things they can not change, the courage to change the things they can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I wish this for myself everyday but do not always succeed, I hope my children will be able to do this with ease.

My child's life in play- she can be anything.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pre-K Here We Come

In the beginning of August we began working on reading skills with our Bob Books set. Babycake really took off with it and enjoyed it. We flew through the first five books, but then they became more and more difficult, as each new book built on top of previously learned words and sounds. By the time we were to start book eight, Babycake was finished. She has a hard time not "getting" it right away. She understands that learning means practice, but she thinks practice means going over something once, maybe twice, and then you're a master. She doesn't like to repeat something 10 times in order to fully comprehend the lesson. So. We have taken a hiatus from reading, though she did just read "Bears on Wheels" last night, because, you know, she wanted to so she did. (insert eye roll here) Babycake has always loved learning, so I don't want to force her to read if she doesn't want to. She's smart and will get it in her own time. Plus she's only four.

Anyway, since completing her Preschool workbooks, Babycake has really enjoyed working on her Kindergarten workbook and talking all about how ready she will be for Kindergarten next year. As with most workbooks, each page builds on the content learned on the previous page. She is enjoying the Math and Games sections of the workbook, but so far is finding the Language Arts section boring as it has her tracing letters. Babycake already knows her letters by sight, and can write most of them without aid. However, I still have her doing these pages as her letters are not perfect and half the time they are backwards. So far its been a good experience and she's enjoying it.

 Here we are enjoying some learning outside, tracing letters and doing a word search.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Preschool: Mission Completion!

Well I would say that as far as Preschool/Pre-K preparedness, we're finished! Last year when the new school year was beginning, and all the new school supplies came out for sale, I scooped up a couple Pre-K workbooks to use with Babycake. Buddyboy was only about 3 months old so we had been lacking in our learning time and I wanted an easy fix to that. As I've shared in other posts, Babycake LOVED these books. She thought it was so cool to do "school work" like big kids and would be happy to complete 20 pages a day if I let her.

Unfortunately for Babycake we never seemed to have a rhythm or schedule that lasted for a significant period of time during Buddyboy's first year so her education was sporadic at best. For a while we focused on learning a lot of safety topics- safety near water, safety around town, safety at home, where do we go when there's a fire?, where's the safe spot for a tornado?, etc. Babycake learned her whole name and address. Another span of time we were reading one Magic Tree House book per month and creating lessons to go with it. (this actually lasted 4.5 months) Thankfully she's such a curious child that we could turn anything into a lesson when there's no routine or schedule.

Our workbooks were the lessons I'd turn to after realizing we'd done nothing for a week or two. Thankfully Babycake's daddy was happy to help his little girl perfect her Pre-K maths and language arts if all he had to do was sit next to her and read directions. So.... After a year of on and off  working, we've finished! Babycake knows all her letters by sight, upper and lower case, as well as the sounds they make. She can count to 30 on her own and can continue to 100 with occasional assistance. She loves patterns, learning how to spell and write words, and enjoys walking around the house with a notebook and pencil "taking notes" on everything.

Babycake was so excited to finish one book that we had to immediately go to the next and get through the 10 pages that were left. Then she declared that she's ready for Kindergarten and I needed to get a Kindergarten workbook for us to start on. Most of Babycake's friends are 5 and started Kindergarten this year so she has been pretty bummed she didn't get to start school like them. The fact that she now has a Kindergarten book and is "learning the same things as all my friends" has helped ease that bit of resentment she had. (thank goodness! :D )

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Rainy Day Learning

Rain rain go away! It seems to be monsoon season here in the Midwest. With all the rain, we have been stuck in doors and I'm finding it harder and harder to come up with distractions for the kids to keep them from driving each other, and me, crazy. When it's not raining, it's crazy hot and humid, and we only last about an hour before we're all drenched in sweat and happy to return indoors to air conditioning.

With this weather we have been getting plenty of time to work on Babycake's learning to read. Babycake has been doing really well. She has already progressed to reading Book 7, Jig and Mag, in our Bob Books. Like I've said multiple times, she is a self driven learner. She gets so excited after reading a whole book and it's so fun to celebrate her accomplishment with her. The downside to this self determination however is that she is easily flustered and frustrated if she can't read a word on the first or second try. I have to remind her that she is learning and that means you don't know everything right away and that means practice which means you have to go over it again and again and that's OK. I let her know that I am not frustrated that she doesn't know everything and that we have to practice. I will admit that there are days when we sit down to read and she goofs off, doesn't read, and I get frustrated. We are not perfect by any means in our learning system.

For more indoor activities, we pulled out her workbooks which I had honestly forgotten about. Babycake flew through about 10 pages in her Letters workbook. It was so fun to see how well she knows her letters, can write them, and spout off the sound each makes.

To keep Buddyboy occupied while I assisted Babycake with her workbook, I got out a scrap paper and some old stickers. Only in the last month has Buddyboy not instantly put everything he touches into his mouth so I figured this would be safe to do now. It was a great way for him to work on some motor skills picking up the stickers, unsticking them from his fingers, and getting them onto the paper. What a hit! He really enjoyed it and was happily occupied for about 20 mins.