Sunday, February 28, 2010

What a Weekend and a Week to COME!!! UPDATED

Phew... have I not blogged since Wednesday???? Doesn't seem like that much time has passed!

Friday we had an exterminator come. To prepare we had to move all toys, bedding, and dishes/pans 3 feet up.... actually we probably didn't "have to" but I felt better and less to clean after;) What a task to get every toy 3 feet and my kitchen totally taken apart and then put back together that evening....


While we were "kicked out of the house" on Friday we went our 30 week check-up. Because it was during naptime, Brian hesitated to take the kids into the appt, but the kids pleaded to go in;) So we all got to hang out and hear Nathaniel's heartbeat.

Saturday was a work day for us!!! The kids and I used the morning to clean and "sneak" a school day in. Brian worked at church all morning and then spent the afternoon in the attic getting it all sorted and cleaned out... what a task!!!

Saturday night we went to a program at church for some community members put on my a group of active ladies in our community. Brian played the guitar and we had a nice evening!! They are always soo sweet to the kids, getting them little "door prizes" (my kids actually listened for their numbers to be called)! Anna was a little lady sitting at a table during the entertainment with a bunch of older ladies... I was a proud momma watching my little "grown" girl;)

We had a great Sunday morning at church... we really are blessed to have a sweet, loving and faithful congregation!

At home we had a quick lunch and then rested.... well most of us rested! Brian went back into the attic to finish sorting through our stuff to make room for the guys coming to begin work in attic at 8AM !!!

Sunday evening we pulled out some of our "memory boxes" to get rid of stuff that is just collecting dust and that's in cardboard (which we are trying to get rid of... just cleaner to have everything in plastic and keeps bugs out!!). We spend hours sorting through "memories".

I just HAD to share what my favorite finds were:

  • My father's kindergarten certificate stating that he completed kindergarten in 2 years;)
  • My father's baptism gown (he was baptized as an infant) and a note that he wrote me describing a challenging part of his life that he was ready to share with me.... so touching especially since he really did change after that AND that he's no longer with us!
  • Wallet pictures from high school.... LOL!! I couldn't believe how many of these people are now Facebook friends;)
  • All sorts of college pictures:)
  • The originial dress from my Cabbage Kid.... totally being washed for the girls to play with!!

Our storage items are now sorted... and I'm sure with the pile of trash/recycling outside of our house right now, there could be rumors of us moving.... LOL!!

Monday morning we have the construction beginning (or at least people in the house ready to start) at 8 AM!!!

The kids and I also have a field trip, so we'll be heading out the door not long after the guys get to the house!!! We'll have the trip, lunch and some basic grocery shopping!

Tuesday we have reading time and possibly some snow.....
what a start to the week!!!!

8:00 AM and the carpet is being pulled up on the back of the living room .... making room or stairs;)

The kids are in awe at all the cool tools and everything the guys are doing;)

Whoo-hoooo .... here we go;)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Construction CRazies has Begun... & Delay??

I mentioned last week that work was being done to the church parsonage (our home!!!).

The "official" construction begins Monday morning at 8am and is planning to last at least a month!!! Phew.... are we ready for this:) LOL!!!

But this week we had some heat/cooling guys putting new air return vents in some parts of the house. We knew were were "in trouble" when the men said," What kind of walls do you all have? [plaster].... oh, this is going to get really messy!" They weren't joking!! Plaster dust EVERYWHERE... curtains, bedding, dust UNDER the beds.... lets just say a couple of rooms got some MASSIVE "spring cleaning" a little early!!!

Today we have an electrician working on getting electricity up in the attic and how it will connect to the rest of the house! I'm new to "construction" so I don't really know what to expect.... but this time I have the rooms clean enough to throw blankets over beds and toys....

I'm a little more prepared this time..... Hopefully!

But in the midst of "construction Crazies" .... school must go on!! And we are doing the best we can:)

*** Update!!! The electrician took one look at the job and quicly decided that it was more than he could handle.... so we'll have to get another electrician to come in and do what needs to be done BEFORE stuff can start on Monday.... maybe some delay???

Almost 30 Weeks & Sleeping with a Preggo Woman

Almost 30 weeks and counting:) Just amazing that we're in the 3rd Trimester!!! Whooo Hoooo! I know Chris is getting anxious! Just the other day he asked impatiently,"When is MY brother going to get out of YOUR tummy???"

I actually feel soo much bigger this time around;) Maybe it was someone seriously asking me if I was preggo with TWINS when I told them I was due in May!!!!

I definitely started this pregnancy heavier than my others. Here are my GREAT excuses (LOL!!!!).... I wasn't nursing when I got pregnant, I sit on my bottom for a few hours each morning at the school table with the kids and it's been CRAZY COLD and WET this winter!!!

But I am eating what I need to and watching my snacks. I drink GALLONS of water a day (or at least I feel like it's that much)! And I'm trying to keep up my normal lifestyle with the kids and I CAN'T WAIT to get outside and really get MOVING again (oh, my garden need sooo much work!!!). But I'm healthy and the pregnancy is going great, so I am very thankful!

I've been kind of snickering at how some of my recent changes has been making Brian loose sleep. He's a trooper:)

  • I'm constantly congested. You can't hear it in my voice, but at night the post-nasal drop is obnoxious and sometimes I SNORE!! LOL!!!
  • The ligaments holding my big 'ole baby belly can be soooo painful at night. So I have resorted to using pillows all the way around me, so not matter how I turn my belly is supported. This totally leaves inches for my sweet hubby!
  • Extra pillows and extra weight makes it impossible for me to "slip" in and out of bed without boucing him around some:) LOL.... he knows when I've been up LATE blogging;)
  • When the pillows don't support, the ligaments will shoot SHARP pains!! So there have been nights when I'm trying to get up and I can't because of the ligament pain. My poor hubby has woken up with me "breathing through" those pains and has even come around to help me get up:)
  • Since it takes me "forever" to get in and out of bed around and over all the pillows, Brian has been woken up by the kids for more water and other needs in the wee hours of the morning..... doing things I usually do:)

Nathaniel is starting to be soo much fun!! We are starting to feel actually elbows and knees and feet instead of just "bumps". And he's starting to "interact" more... like responding with a kick/elbow when we rub the "baby belly" or push in a spot. It's fun to guess what his personality is like based on our "interactions" with him:)

Well... I was obviously VERY wordy today!! But it is Wordless Wednesday!! We are giggling here because Brian was the photographer for me... hence the little watermark in the corners of the pics... LOL!!! He is a trooper:)

You can find some other picture posts at Wordless Wednesday, 5 Minutes for Mom and Go Graham Go!!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

WFMW: Limiting AM Computer Distractions

With all the changes coming in the next week (construction to the house), the beautiful weather beckonging outside and in the upcoming months (preparing for Nate!!!)......

I've decided that STARTING/COMPLETING school more efficiently in the morning has to be more of a priority!!

We are working on getting the kids to complete their chores in a more timely manner... always fun! And getting everyone fed and the kitchen area tided up;)

But even with those areas there was still one area that needed WORK.... it was Momma!! yes, me!! In the mornings, I like to get ready, eat and "compute"!! But I wasn't just spending a few minutes and it wasn't just those few minutes..... all morning I'd "quickly" check email, blogs, etc! But all those minutes of "Momma distractions" add up!

And then the kids started to get distracted while I wasn't FOCUSED on THEM! Or would see the computer being used and beg to play one of their favorite online games ( or are our favs)!

So for almost 2 weeks now, MY "computing" has changed to reflect this need to be FOCUSED!! I have quickly checked email or linked up my blog while I eat breakfast and then I turn it OFF (or at least on standby with NO sounds coming through)!!!!

I can NOT believe how much this has changed the productivity of our mornings!! I have been sooo excited the amount of work that Anna, Chris and Lydia have been able to do these last two weeks! And I really have had time to work with Lydia and Chris.... versus 10-20 minutes and sending them off to play for a bit. They have used more "stations" and I started doing some handwriting with them:) Lydia LOVES it.... asks when we're starting school and begs for more "letter sheets" or to work in her workbook:)

I've often been in the mental debate of how to balance all my Mommy/wife responsibilities with being on the computer..... that's another blog for another time. But I thought this was a simple solution to focus on the BIG priorities that demand my time right now... in this sweet schooling stage:)

Staying up late to watch the Olympics has given me the late-night opportunities... but now I have to figure out when to get in some "computing" time for Momma when the Olympics are over and as I need the extra rest with Nate coming in a little more than 2 months!!

Check out more Works For Me Wednesday at We are That Family:)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tiny Talk Tuesday

Yay!! Another Tuesday to share all the silly conversations in my house;) And don't forget to visit read others:)

I will never forget this conversation with Anna, I seriously thought my heart was about to be broken over her final answer!

I was getting ready for church one Sunday morning and Anna came into my room trying to get her shoes strapped on. And she told me,"Mommy, I really wished we had everything we needed."

Brian and I are careful about not friviously spending money on the kids and the night before we had taken Lydia to the store to choose her "prize". We had to tell Chris and Anna that if they saw something they liked we could help them save for it or wait until a birthday/holiday!!

So with that background I asked, "Like what? What do you think we need that we don't have?", knowing that her answer might break my heart.

She looks up at me and answers,"Like manners, we really need more manners." (There must have been a squabble around the shoe bin!!! LOL!!)

I HAVE to share Lydia's "toddler talk" that is still lingering:

*After eating her dinner she asks," Can I have a fweet now?"

*We had a neighbor playing with the kids and Lydia asks,"Can she come in we house?"

*We were talking about plans to meet up with a family. I mentioned that they had a little boy about Anna's age. Lydia pipes up, "I not like boys... [Brian and Chris reminding her that they are boys]... I just like gwirls!"

I love the extra "w"... just makes me want to kiss those lingering chubby cheeks:)
And Chris carried on his own conversation with Nathaniel this week. He hugged just my belly.... his hands on the top and his cheek pressed against my belly button.

Then he asks,"Hey! Nathaniel, when are you coming out?"

[he waits a second with his ear against my tummy now]

Chris: "Oh, when you are done growing, OK!!"

A Good Weekend= One Tired Momma:)

I am exhausted!!!! And it hasn't been ONLY because I've ben watching the Olympics until midnight every night! No, not me!!!

It's not that we had a very busy or exciting weekend... but it was a nice weekend! One we actually could enjoy being outside and I got some alone shopping time which doesn't happen much!! So BOTH were great TREATS!!

What did I do with my afternoon/early evening out.... I SHOPPED until I about dropped:) LOL!!! I needed a couple of nursing bras (for now and the hopefully 12 months of nursing!!). Right before I left, a friend emailed me a coupon, just out of the blue she had NO clue I was headed out to shop. So I got each of my bras for only $10!! Much better than the $27 on the price tag and they fit perfect which is amazing for me to find a bra on ONE trip!

Then I headed through the mall just browsing and walking! I did stop by Motherhood and got a nursing sweatshirt top... it's super cute!! I was excited that I could wear it NOW and while nursing:) And it was on sale,too!!

Before I left the "big town" I made a stop at Harris Teeter to shop the Super Doubles. I had my list ready (which I did until midnight or later on Friday night), but it was nice to flip through my other coupons and find "new" deals!! I even had my calculator out figuring out deals!! The kids are usually pretty good when I grocery shop, but I'm soo distracted by them, I HAVE to stick with the list and GET OUT:)

I did well at Harris Teeter!! I spent about $26 but saved $71!!! I brought home tons of pasta:) And some treats that I got SUPER, super cheap!! And I so didn't bring home 10 boxes of pasta... after bringing home 10 boxes of cereal last week.... No, Not Me!!

I also stopped by Food Lion to see what sales they had and was sooo excited that they still had some sales from last week up.... I thought I had missed them!! So I got the kids their "safe" semisweet chocolates (under $1) and some Hi-C juice boxes (for $1) (nice for shopping and field trips)!!Oh, and we STOCKED up on some grapes, they are only 88 cents:)

Lydia had fun unpacking all the "goods"!!

We had a great time of worship on Sunday morning... our super sweet college student took the kids up to nursery. She is soo compassionate... I know she enjoys the kids, but she also knows that it's such a nice break/treat for me:) So I got to listen to Brian's sermon AND participate in the Lord's Supper with the church!

After a yummy lunch I had waiting for us in the Crock-Pot (yes, I actually planned ahead this week!!) the kids laid down for a nap. I headed outside to tackle the gardens... I really had let them get too overgrown and it was really bothering me.

So I was outside climbing through the garden ripping out weeds and dead branches of my bushes for over 2.5 hours, instead of resting, no, not me!!!.... lotsa squats and exercise for this preggo momma! Brian came out to pull up a couple of dead bushes for me;) So maybe, maybe, maybe.... my garden might not get soo neglected with Nathaniel coming! And the kids were SOOOOO excited to be able to play outside without being all bundled up or getting cold.

We have a busy start to our week as well!!!

Today we have men coming to work on the heating ducts in the attic. They will be here early and plan to finish in one day!! This will be a good day of keeping the kids FOCUSED on their schoolwork with all the activity through the living room and attic.... makes me even more thankful we have the school room in working order (not finished enough to "show off" yet!!)!

And Tuesday I am hoping to head back into the "big town" for some more Super Doubles at Harris Teeter and run a few more errands:) And then getting our schooling done in the afternoon;)

So my preggo update is coming and in the works.... it's been sitting waiting for an updated photo of my baby belly! Can't believe I'm in the 3rd trimester already... we've got a LOT going on in these last months before Nathaniel arrives!!

I am linking up to MckMama at My Charming Kids for Not Me! Monday!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

i heart face - Hands

I love taking pictures of the kids' hands so I have plenty of my "ok" pics to submit this week at I heart Faces: Hands!!!

But instead of concentrating on all the sweet little baby pudgy hands and parenting hands loving on little Hannah Grace, I decided to share this special, generational picture:

I took this picture when we celebrated the January birthdays! Gran-Grandma was celebrating her 101st birthday and sitting at the table with her hand on her birthday cards. I didn't realize until I was looking through the pictures later in the evening that Gran-Grandma had her hand on the card that Anna had made for her!!!!

I am just sooo thankful that my kids have had the opportunity to get to know their GREAT grandma... not through pictures or visiting her at an old folks home. But they have been in Gran-Grandma's house and we've eaten meals together. And they have made her birthday cards!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Potty Words at School

This week the kids have accused ME of using potty words during school!!!! LOL!! NOT using potty words/talk has been a training point in our house for the last few months. So you can imagine my kids' SHOCK when I had to use the word "pee-pee" (to explain what urine was) during our science lesson this week!

I've recently mentioned that we've transitioned into studying the human body. And with most of our science this year, it's been a GROUP thing which makes it that much FUN:) And this week we read about the kidneys and bladder! Of course we had to make them....

(Lydia has transitioned into wanting to color in the lines... you can see her concentration!)

and then the kids put them on their body "shadows"!! They have really liked their "bodies"... I really thought they would have been a little too young ! But they loved seeing where the organs go and making NEW organs for their bodies! They are soo proud of their "shadows"!

Mommy confession.... I sooooo have to look at the guide to see where these organs are going, especially in relation to the other organs that will be put in. I would have just clumped all together in the mid-section somewhere!! But my kids knowing now that the right kidney is a little higher than the left is just amazing to me;)

Besides reading from some of our resources and "making" our kidneys and bladder, the kids also have enjoyed some of the "experiments" that our books have described.

So today we used Grandma's coffee filters (thanks, Grandma!!) to be kidneys and to filter some water that we had put chalk dust in!!! Chris chose blue chalk and really watched his "kidney filter" to see if it would keep the chalk from getting into his "clean water/blood"!!!

It was pretty cool to see that the filters did keep the water semi-unpolluted with chalk coloring. And the kids will easily remember that we made "kidneys" with Grandma's coffee filters! And hopefully that will mean they remember that a kidney is like a filter;)

I laughed as they tried to explain the experiment to Brian at lunch!!! ha hahaaa!! But they did get it out and demonstrate that they did understand!

My favorite science quote this week was Anna this morning eating her breakfast! I had just given her bowl of oatmeal and she jumped up from the table. I asked her what she was doing. And she answered, "My bladder is full!!!!"

The real fun will be when we really get into the digestive system and the intestines.... I'm sure Mommy will have to use a couple more potty words:)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Last of Our Snow Pics.... I think

The snow was great for the kids to play in! And fun for me to take pictures of them playing in;) I'm still quite the beginner so I won't share all the ones I took:)

But I loved this pic of the girls playing on the slide. Sooo innocent! And sweet:)

But then the youngest "turned on me"!!

(I think it's funny that they are all trying to interact and play with Nathaniel! He won't be lacking any attention when he makes his debut! He has three siblings ready to help and playing with him!!! Such a lucky child!)

And here's her "I'm proud of myself" grin:)

The Biggest Snowball!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

WW: Nothing Like a Small Project....

... before we welcome our little one!!!

We are amazed, thankful and sooooo excited to have some renovations being done to our home- the church parsonage;) The church approved Sunday adding some new living space to our 3 bedroom home... including another room, living space and a FULL bath:)

More Wordless Wednesday at
Wordless Wednesday, 5 Minutes for Mom and Go Graham Go!!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

WFMW: Cut Them in Half

I've been joked plenty of my strange habits of cutting things in half... LOL!!

The "girls" have joked me for YEARS about ripping my wipes in half before using them... but I found I used HALF the amount of wipes... especially when they have such tiny little bottoms!!! When I was diapering 3 bottoms..... it was a HUGE savings:)

Well my family has been on me for YEARS about my next "confession"..... I cut my sponges in half, too!!

Maybe it started because of the size of my hands and half a sponge fits soo nicely in my petite hands;) Or maybe I realized that the sponge gets soo nasty sooo quickly, that by cutting them in half I could use each separately and doubling the "life" of ONE sponge;)

The funniest thing was that at Christmas when my family ate at my mom's, my brother groaned when he went to wash the dishes. I thought something had happened.... LOL!!! But he said in frustration, "What's with this sponge being soo small, it's like someone cut it in half!!!!"After all those years of being a joke, my momma now cuts hers in half too;) LOL!!!

Visit Works For Me Wednesday at We are That Family for other thrifty, helpful and fun tips:) I always learn soo much on Wednesdays:)

And I'm hoping to answer some of your questions from last week's WFMW soon:)

Diaper-free Girl:)

Lydia is my "potty training" wonder.... she wanted to potty train when I was working with Christopher. The month she turned two she had accompished being potty trained during the day!! Soon after she began asking to wear "big girl pants" (BGP) during naptime... oh, I dreaded her waking wet, but I went with it and we've had only s few accidents.

She's been dry at night for MONTHS... many months!! I would ask her to try BGP but she was always unwilling. Finally a few weeks ago, Lydia and I had a talk:) I encouraged her to "try" the BGP at night! Then we made a simple little chart tracing her hands and putting stickers on each fingernail for each morning she woke dry:)

She went 10 days (two hands... LOL!!) without ANY accidents at night!!! Sometimes NOT wanting to have BGP, but the security of a diaper....

but there was a prize!!! Like Anna, we told her that we'd bring her to the store to pick out a toy:) And for 10 days she talked about a Polly Pocket... LOL!! But when she got to the store, she changed her mind;)

You can see her pride;)

As a Momma expecting another little bottom to diaper, I am VERY excited to have one less kiddo in diapers:) And I was sooo proud of my little determined girl.... she has been the EASIEST with the potty by FAR!!

Yay!!! for Lydia:) Totally diaper-free:)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tiny Talk Tuesday

Yay!! Another Tuesday to share all the silly conversations in my house;) And don't forget to visit read others:)

So Anna had to write a few sentences last week on something she collects. She was kind of stumped on the idea of what items she has collected, so her and I (with Chris and Lydia in the room) start talking about her collections.

Me: You have some My Little Ponys, Barbies and Polly Pockets. You like stickers!

Anna (5 yrs old): Hmmm... ok.

Chris (4 yrs old): Well, Momma, you collect weeds. There are a lot in our garden!

LOL!!! Thanks for the reminder there, Buddy, that my gardens are all overgrown and desperately need Momma to get outside and get to work;) Here's to some dry and warmer days to get that done!!!!

We enjoyed playing out in the snow on Saturday!!! We had the kids all bundled up, but with the snow being packable and "wet" the kids' fingers got colder more quickly than a few weeks ago.

The kids called to Brian and I, who were standing across the yard at the church, one at a time:
Anna: Mommy!!! Daddy!!! I want to go inside my fingers are cold!
Lydia (3 yrs old): I want to go inside, too, me fingers are cold!
Chris: I want to go inside, my fingers are too cold!! And my bottom is cold, too!!

I do wonder what the neighbors think sometimes when they hear the kids!! LOL!!


We've been enjoying some leftover cake from Awana last week. It always takes me a minute to understand when Lydia asks for some.

Lydia: Mommy, can me have some of me cak-es?

And at lunch the other day she asked for some and I told she had to finish her carrots and apples first. But when she finished her meal she saw Anna getting a different treat and she wanted what Anna was having instead.

Brian(the Daddy): Lydia, if you don't eat that last piece of cake, I will.
Lydia: Daddy, you can have that piece of cake after you finish you food on you plate.

Brian responded: "Great, now I have another girl to tell me what to do." LOL!! Don't worry Daddy the boys will be equal in number to the girls soon enough:)


Last week we had a family in a neighboring community loose all they had in a house fire. As I was with the kids, I thought I'd take the opportunity to remind them what we should do if their was a fire in our house. I told them about having to crawl on the ground to the closest outside door if there was smoke in the house.

Anna relayed the discussion to Christopher a few moments later (he wasn't in the room at the time). She told him about looking or smoke and crawling on the ground. Then she added," And you should crawl on the ground even in jeans that you don't want holes in. Because you need to be safe and out of the smoke!" She thinks of everything:)


At lunch I fed the kids some leftover fruit salad. Bananas and strawberries NEVER look right the next day!! Anna looked down into the salad bowl and announced, "I think this salad looks a little sketchy."

Brian and I giggled a bit and then asked Anna what "sketchy" meant. And she admitted she didn't know!! LOL!! But I did think it was funny that she was using the word like I would have;)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

More Snow...

Ok... some of you are used to having a lot of snow.... not us! We are excited about a dusting or veen seeing some fall. So to have TWO snowfalls that we've actually been able to play in this year has been sooo much FUN!!

This snow was more fun to play in... lots of snowballs:) But since the kids could really "get into it" they got wetter/colder more quickly.

We are inside now... enjoying some Play-Doh before lunch!! They will be ready for lunch and naps earlier today... LOL!!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

So much better than TV...

I have to admit that we use the TV!

In the morning while Brian and I get ready the kids will watch a show or two (yes, and sometimes more if I have extra cleaning to do). Or in the afternoons as I prepare/clean up lunch. And sometimes in the late afternoon as they are waking from their naps and I'm working on a "project".

BUt I can't stand having the TV on all the time. First the kids have EXPECTED to watch the TV during these times and get cranky when we don't allow them. Second, many times they have fussy attitudes after they have watched for a little while- they'll balk at chores or cleaning up. Third, they are busy little kids that have soo much creativity built up in them that they DON'T need to watch a lot of TV!!

So yesterday as I prepared lunch, I asked them to pull out their library books and read/flip through them for 10 minutes. It took a couple of minutes for them to get settled, but library books were opening and little eyes were reading the words and pictures.

After the 10 minutes, Lydia approached Anna about reading a story to her from one of her favorite books. When I heard Anna reading aloud I came into the living room and saw this:

TV, more specfically PBSkids and videos (in my house), are fine and sometimes needed when MOmma and Daddy are busy. I love the programs they offer....

But they can't compare to the sweet moments of siblings snuggled together reading a book:)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Getting Creative with reading

I started out teaching Christopher to read using Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. I LOVE this book... it's very comprehensive and logical! And it's very SIMPLE.

It's the simplicity of it that doesn't fit my boy:) He's ACTIVE!! He likes everything to be hands-on and require movement!! So reading has been going SLOW... like maybe completing a lesson every few weeks!! Painfully slow for THIS Mommy.... but I had to step back and ask myself when did teaching Christopher to read became some type of "race"!!!

So that's when I decided that him becoming a SOLID reader (a probably an excited learner) was going to require me to get a little creative and spend the necessary time to let him ENJOY learning. And that it was going to take some time but if he emerges out of "school" with a SOLID foundation, a joy for learning and a "happy heart"... then "school" has been successful:)

LOL.... let me tell you that I have a 100% little boy on my hands:) When I first picked up our workbook for him I cringed at the monster theme throughout the book.... hmm, my son LOVES it!!! He loves counting the fangs or horns. He asks to draw monsters like the book when he is finished a couple of pages. He ASKS to do his workbook... I can now handle the monsters:)

On top of his workbook and Ordinary Parents, we also use sight words... it's not uncommon to hear him SHOUTING his sight words.... yes, we play the little "say it loud, say it like a mouse, etc"... it's noisy, but he thinks it's FUN and he does it!!!! They also love flipping over the cards and then having to say the words... of course, Mommy always has to take a turn too:)

Another gem for reading has been "acting it out"!! Once he reads some words he's ready to draw a picture, make a story or build it!! I studied how to teach highschoolers math in college... not how to get my son to learn to read!!! LOL!!! So these little fun activities are totally NOT me... but honestly if he can re-read the words and remembers that the "u" says /uh/ like in "hut"!! Then count me IN!!! (Yes, I did build a hut in my living room, that Chris and Lydia played in for almost an hour!! And then Anna got a turn!!)

I'm going to be honest, even though some may whole-heartedly disagree, but I also offer a piece of candy for reading work completed with "willing hearts". I like it when they don't ask.... but when they are needing that extra motivation to read their words, I'm glad it's there. You'd think the kids would "go through" candy... but I seriously have candy from last Easter and Halloween still in my cabinets... so they obviously don't get much:)

Christopher has just finished a major section of Ordinary Parents. And the book even suggests to have a time to reveiw if they are not solid then to repeat or wait a few months. Instead of just reviewing the lessons or dropping reading, we have used a few other resources during this "break".... one is Starfall-they have a great Learn to Read section divided up by concepts!!

The other is BOB books!! I like the simplicity, how small they are (don't intimidate the kids), that they incorporate one/two concepts at a time and require kids to know sight words. The BEST news is that Chris likes these two resources, too!!!

The other day as we practiced the words for a new Bob book (keeps him from getting too frustrated when trying to read a new book for the first time), I pulled out the wipeboard to write all the words from that book. And he loved being able to pick which words he could read and wiping them off himself.... who knew, it could be soo much fun:)

The next time we did it, I pulled out the camera and actually got him doing it... gotta love the "real life" with him erasing words without reading them correctly.

I'm sure my Chris is much like other little boys! I am challenged to make his "school time" enjoyable while encouraging him to make progress!! So this video was great for me to see later and really see what he's doing (kind of like the coaches re-watching previous games... LOL!!!). And I rejoice in some of the subjects that he has taken off in... he loves science, he's got an amazing memory for facts about animals and stories, he's great at building and drawing, and he knows sooo many dinosaurs by name and what they eat..... there's a BOY for you:)

I never imagined schooling my kids at home would require soo much of my time, energy or stretch me to be creative. But it has!! And I wouldn't trade it for the world;)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

WW - Another note from Anna

A little sweeter than the one before.

And a great reminder to me to take the time to encourage my kids in the Lord, even while they are little, because they are listening and their little hearts are sensitive to Him.

More Wordless Wednesday at
Wordless Wednesday, 5 Minutes for Mom and Go Graham Go!!!

WFMW: Homeschooling with Smaller Ones

I wish when people asked how I homeschool Anna with Chris and Lydia, I had a plan for them to follow. Or I could invite them over to my well-structured house and let them watch a homeschooling pro at work!!!! But that's not the way it works.... at least for us.

While Anna's schoolwork takes up the majority of our schooltime, Lydia and Christopher also get a taste of "structure" each day. And I can honestly say that it's getting easier.... maybe I'm learning, or they're starting to catch the idea of routine??? But we're enjoying our mornings together... no matter how frazzled and exhausted I am at 2pm:)

So here I humbly present what I have learned during my year homeschooling, especially with preschoolers running around:

1. Be realistic! While we have worked through what we have set out to accomplish this year, there are some things that we have had to tweak due to LIFE (younger siblings, 1st year schooling, preggo momma). One is our history, we have fallen way behind, but the greatest news that we HOMESCHOOL and we'll have the summer to finish up and enjoy our readings and maybe get to more projects:) Also be realistic with EXPECTATIONS of the younger ones, they aren't going to be quiet and play independently (without messes) for 2-3 hours alone (maybe yours will but mine won't)!! And my 5 yr old isn't going to do her work independently while I tend to the younger ones... she's young herself;)

2. Use Naptime!! Lydia and Chris have times where they know to be quiet while Anna and I work on reading assignments, grammer and her math lesson. But Anna and I really use naptimes to work on history and reading aloud.

3. Include the whole group when possible! We have enjoyed doing our Bible stories, Awana verse practice, science and some history and reading aloud together. Lydia and Chris love to be included in some of Anna's fun projects or interesting reading. For example, they'll color the history pages along side her.... it's actually really nice because Anna doesn't feel like she's the only one working and the little ones like doing "big kid" school with Anna.

4. Find time to work with each individually!! This is soo important. Lydia loves school and asks daily to work in her workbook or do letters. And I think since she's asking, it's the right time to start her on the school path. Also Chris is in the early stages of reading, he NEEDS me to work next to him and spend time daily encouraging his efforts and pushing him forward!! So I have attempted to work with them for a little bit each day.... sometimes it's 15 minutes, other days Chris is really into his reading and it's 30 or 40 (a really, really good day).

5. Be creative and flexible. With preschoolers or those starting structured mommy-teacher time, I've had to learn to be flexible and creative with how to help them get through the task. Sometimes it's drawing a picture with the reading or making a game out of it. I'll do another post on this one SOON!!

6. Have special school toys ready (STATIONS)! I have toys that are used during schooltimes (or special occassions) only. And when Anna and I need the "quiet" time I pull out the "secret weapons". We have started calling these times STATIONS! So they each play with something different that they have choosen or that I have laid out for them. When they are done at their STATION, they have to clean it up and then they can trade or move to another STATION. Occassionally they can work together at one STATION... depending on what Anna and I are doing because they can get kind of loud and the mess is usually bigger:)
**** I actually would like to get a little more structured with this idea. One idea is to have a jar where they could pick the STATIONS for that morning/week. It could also blend in nicely with the workboxes/files idea for more educationally structured activities for Lydia or Chris next year!!****

7. Be patient and encouraging!! I think that is one of my motto and themes this year! I've really been trying to find ways to praise the kids during the day and especially during schooltime when I'm focused on the specific tasks that I feel like need to be completed;) But the kids THRIVE on me being patient and encouraging.... providing them with a loving and postive environment.

8. Don't forget the basics:) Part of our school day is the kids completing their "morning chores". While most don't consider this part of schooling, for preschoolers it is:) They have to learn to do basic chores: dress themselves, tidy up their rooms, pottying alone, etc!! And I think giving them a structure at beginning of their day helps them come to the school table with a heart that is ready to follow directions sweetly... which makes ANY school day very pleasant:)


9. Play/Free time is needed. At first I felt really guilty if Chris and Lydia didn't have the hours of school time that Anna was getting.... instead they'd be in their rooms playing. But at 2,3,4 yrs old, they need that time to learn how to play alone and together. So once I was giving each the individual time that they could handle (LOL), I no longer felt bad when they are busy catching dinosaurs or caring for babies while Anna and I finish up math and language arts;)

I sound like I have it all together..... that's not the case. There are always things I'd love to incorporate or do differently. But right now I'm thankful for the little bit of structure we do get to enjoy during "school mornings".

Come next August, it will be a whole, NEW game as Nathaniel and his routine will definitely affect our routine:) Any advice about homeschooling with an infant???

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tiny Talk Tuesday

You can join in Tiny Talk Tuesday, too!! It's fun to record the silly conversations throughout the week and share them. Visit Not Before 7 to join in:)

Chris was watching the morning news with Brian. A commercial for Kay Jewelers came on... you know the mushy love type. The man gave the woman a beautiful sparkling ring and they start to snuggle/kiss.

Christopher gets this "that's gross face" and says, "what's that ring for??"

Guess he's not the romantic type..... at least not yet:)


Chris spent the better part of one evening drawing pictures.... he had a ton of them:) So as were transition into bedtime he decided to hand out his works of art:)

He gave Brian a jet plane, a monster truck, and a super fast race car. Then he hands me a picture, telling me," And I drew this broken down car for you, Mom!" LOL... I graciously accepted it as Daddy teased me about his super cool pictures. Oh, I also got a fire truck... that was neat:)

In Science we have moved from animals to the Human Body. I have been collecting books and such but saw a fun book on a homeschooling blog( wish I remembered whose)!! It's called My Body and you trace your child's body on paper and then glue in the body organs as you study them... soo much fun!

So last week we did "the brain". And I was a slacker and didn't get the outlines of the kids up on the doors until Monday morning. Anna finally got to glue her brain on her body outline this morning.

Chris looked up at me and asked, "Where is my brain?"

In context it was part of the conversation. But it sounded soo funny coming from him, especially since it was such a sincere question!!


I have gotten a few opportunities to escape the house these last few days. One to attend Andrea's baby shower for a few moments and the next to attend the homeschool mom's Bible study Monday night (such a sweet blessing every month).

My belly has received the sweetest "good-byes" during these times!! Each child will run over and kiss my belly through my shirt and say, "Bye, Nathaniel!" I know it's kind of fun and silly for them right now....

but my heart is soo touched by their acts of love towards their little brother. Makes me wish for May to come a little sooner, so we can all meet him face-to-face. But for now it's "belly love" and some little kicks!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Season of Training

It seems like every couple of months we go through a "season of training or correction". Either we see things that aren't being done or the kids are becoming "less obedient" or there are things that we want to be done differently.... this "season" is a combo of all of those... LOL!!

It's probably also because we are gearing up for Nathaniel!! Before we had each of our kids we realized that in order to mantain "order" our kids, even though they were little (see the pic!!), were going to have to be obedient and helpful. They have HAD to!!! It's not possible to grocery shop or go to the park when I have a child not obeying, running off, crying when they don't want to leave, etc!!

OK, sooooo we still have to do some work;) But we have time! And these are the things that we are working on:)

*We have tried to teach the kids that "we're a TEAM!!" It's not just us bossing the kids around, but all of us working together! It warms my heart to hear Anna tell one of her siblings that she will help them with a chore/task..... then she goes into the room singing "teamwork, teamwork, what's going to work? teamwork" !!!

*We are having the kids complete "morning chores" which consists of getting dressed, brushing their teeth, and tidying up their rooms. These are basic I know... but it teaches them responsibility and they are ready for the day; whether it's schooling, going outside or grocery shopping;) And the kids have different jobs depending on their ages.... one nice thing is that Lydia is following the routine and doing more chores than I really had planned just because she sees Anna doing them. NICE!!!

*We are also trying to have the kids help during mealtimes. The kids help us tidy the eating area, set the table, put utensils away, put their plates/utensils/cups in the sink after eating, and clean up the table after the meal. Obviously, all of these tasks require us to "train" them... show them how, teach them how, encourage them to do the task correctly and then expect them to complete them each time we ask.

*Two more fun training opportunities are to play with "one toy at a time" and "putting items away where they were found"!! WOW, these have been a hard for us. The kids understand both, but excitement over the next activity and laziness with cleaning up have been a challenge to overcome. But these are becoming MUCH needed disciplines as I get bigger and clumsier... LOL! But seriously, being sleep-deprived with a newborn on my arms, a toy car or baby left in the middle of the hallway is just asking for trouble!!! (imagine how uncluttered my house could stay if all of us tried to follow these two goals???)

*And we are also going through the "obedience basics"! Those who have read Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp remember the 3 steps to obedience...

  1. Obeying All the Way

  2. Obeying Right Away

  3. Obeying with a Happy Heart

So, if the blog gets a little "quiet" OR I only post pics.... you now know that our "season of training" is in session. And those moms out there know that actually training our kids to do what is right can be time-consuming and energy-consuming!

*** I have a little more that I've been learning and challenged by in my correction/training/disciplining.... I'm hoping to get my thought together soon to share what I have learned in order to encourage:)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Quiet Days

Yesterday Nathaniel was QUIET.... not that he makes noises yet... LOL!!

But he wasn't moving like normal. Just a few times during the day I would feel him turn or whatever he does in there... but no kicks or elbows! Since he's been such a predictable "mover", I was a little more attentive to his movements, or lack of movements.

I'm sure all pregnant moms go through "worried moments"... that's just the role of motherhood (at each stage). But it really got me to think what a blessing every child is and how Nathaniel has already changed our family life. Praying and hoping for a pregnancy for over a year, and then finally hearing his sweet heart beat and feeling his tiny kicks!! It truly brings me to a place of thankfulness to the Lord for each day with each of my 4 kids.

And having the "worried moments" makes me even more aware of my reliance on the Lord for each breath..... each that I have, each that Brian or the kids breathe and each heart beat of Nathaniel's.

Today, Nathaniel has been back to normal. In fact, he's been a little more active today. Even with me walking around a children's museum with the kids this morning, climbing through a McD's playground to "rescue" scared kids and grocery shopping with my three:) He's definitely been trying to participate in all the fun:)

So maybe the "quiet days" and "worried moments" are meant for me .... to reflect again on being thankful for each moment and recognizing WHO is really caring for us all!!

*** Blue picture above was a picture Lydia took of "baby brother" today... LOL!! Actually it's a picture of my preggo belly shirt! But I thought it was fun to share... they LOVE talking about and to their "baby brother"!

Tomorrow afternoon we are off to another prenatal check-up. I think the whole crew is coming along... so that will be fun for all of us to hear his heart beating again. It's also my glucose testing day.... yipppeee!!

She Can DO it!!!!!!

Anna has been wating to learn to tie her shoes.... she's been practicing for MONTHS. I've tried all the little rhymes and stories. But nothing has really helped.

Last week when we were visiting my parents, my mom sat down with her and showed her. I'm not sure how Grammies know sooo much (maybe it's from having the experience of already teaching a crew how to do it)!!

Anna came into the office the other day saying that she needed ehr shoes tied. I leaned down to tie them and she pulled away and said that she could "do it herself". And I let her, thinking she'd try a couple o times and then I'd help her!

But she surprised me! And when she started to work on the other shoe I pulled out the camera... I had to capture this MAJOR milestone;)

Way to go, Anna!!!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Snow Angel....

More Sledding....

Just Plain CUTE!!

More Wordless Wednesday at
Wordless Wednesday, 5 Minutes for Mom and Go Graham Go!!!