Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hyper Halloween

My dad asked for a shot of all three girls together; and sadly, this is the best shot I could get. You cannot get children to stay still very long when it's time to get candy from their neighbors.

My cute little family.

Little Lamb was supposed to be Tinkerbell, but it's so cold here that we opted for her being a piggie.

Bluebird and Rabbit thought that their glowsticks made great light sabers...Bluebird was even humming the theme to "Star Wars" as she struck. This was the best shot I could get of Rabbit's Penguin costume...I didn't get to making the hood, but I thought it was pretty cute regardless.

Michael's pumpkin creation, Mumbles from "Happy Feet." (In case you haven't noticed, we like penguins in this house.) A teenaged boy told me that our pumpkin just made him "feel all happy inside." I don't know if that was a play on words, but it made me smile.

And we have survived another Halloween. Does anyone else feel like nothing is going right for the whole 30 minutes before you get the kids out the door to get started trick-or-treating? My girls were running around the house, bouncing off of each other and screaming with glee and I was trying to wrangle them into the bathroom for hair and "make-up" and it just was not working. And then I ate some candy when they left because I was so frazzled...hee hee.

They are now tucked away safely in their beds, each clutching their still-glowing glow stick (Bluebird is trying to read with hers) and twitching from sugar overload. (Glow-in-the-dark spazzed-out kids...it's a sight to behold.) I'm covering the door as the older kids finish up with their parties and begin with their own trick-or-treating because Michael is so proud of his pumpkin that he doesn't want to bring it inside. I'm going to call this one a success.

Weekly Report: October 26-30, 2009

Where in the world did this week go? Oh, that's right, we played in the snow and got ready for Halloween. That's enough to make any week fly by!

Frustration of the week that has been mounting for many weeks: Kumon, seriously, if you're going to make a workbook that requires the pages to be removed, how about perforating the pages? The pages in your Cutting book are incredibly difficult to remove from the binding and I am not going to cut them on that skinny little margin like you suggest. (Have you tried fitting scissors to that margin? I highly doubt that you have.)

General Observations:
How much is a laminator? I'm finding that there are all sorts of things that I wish were laminated in this house.

Don't expect a 20 month old and a 3 year old to share crayons or markers peacefully. Just get them each some of their own. (And a huge thank you to Crayola for creating triangle shaped markers and crayons for little ones...no more rolling off the table!)

I love Jen over at Wildflowers and Marbles. She has some awesome ideas, two of which I'm thinking of adopting here in our homeschool as well: the Morning Basket and the idea of Fine Arts Friday. Not so much "Fine Arts" at this point, but we've already dubbed Friday as "Fun Friday," so I'm thinking about placing more emphasis on art and creativity by exploring all the different artistic mediums and stuff like that.

Percolating on the subject of Charlotte Mason's Habits.

Bluebird:
Really, her name should be "Anxiety" or "Worrywart" or something like that. With the cutting workbook, she usually does two pages per day and her little sister does one. On Tuesday, Rabbit was really enjoying cutting time and asked to do another page. Bluebird froze in mid-cut, whipped her head around and screeched, "She's going to catch up to me!" And then she started cutting furiously and begged to do four pages instead of her regular two so she could stay ahead of Rabbit.

Now don't get me wrong, I totally understand the whole older child syndrome/sibling rivalry bit (BTDT), but this behavior seems a bit excessive in a five year old. I'm left pondering as to why she cares so ardently at such a young age already. The rest of the day she sped through all her work (with all the sloppiness that such rushing will produce) in order to get further ahead of her sister. The curse came true: I did have a child exactly like myself, just as my parents threatened. I'm trying to figure out how to help her through these quirks so she won't spend so much of her life being in a state of perpetual competition and anxiety.

She's getting through the cutting workbook really quickly (shocking) and I'm enjoying starting the morning with some fun workbook pages, so I'm going to look into acquiring Kumon's Pasting book and Easy Telling Time book. (She wants a watch for Christmas, but can only tell time to the hour...)

We had Parent Teacher Conferences this week and so I went on Thursday (after having to re-schedule when my babysitter forgot that she was going to babysit the girls and went on a hayride instead...). We talked about her academic abilities for fifteen seconds, which are great; and spent a whole lot of the rest of the time discussing her coloring skills. Really, if I had known it was this big of a deal, I'd have spent some serious efforts on coloring with her as a toddler. Who knew? Argh. There's the part of me that says, "Oh my goodness, it's just coloring! She'll figure it out!" and then there's the side of me that says, "Break out the coloring books, we need to catch up!" I really believe she's just one of those kids whose muscle coordination in her hands is just a little slow in developing and I don't think it's a good idea to stress her out about it...it will come when it comes, I've yet to meet a ten year old who couldn't color. I really want to just bring her home.

Rabbit:
I'm amazed at how her scissor skills are progressing! My hands would literally start to sweat at the thought of helping her hold her paper for cutting, but now she's started telling me that she's going to do it by herself and her cuts are definitely evolving from the crazy jagged splinters into almost smooth lines. She finishes a page and then proudly declares, "And when I'm a big girl I'll get a glue stick!" (?) Alright...

Little Lamb:
Has forgotten how to stick stickers and now just brings the sheet to one of her sisters and waits patiently for them to remove some for her to use. Is crazy jealous of Bluebird and Rabbit's scissors. Enjoys her own crayons and markers immensely.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

First Snow!







It doesn't matter how old you get, there's just something about the first snow of the season.
We heard about its impending arrival last night and both I and the girls woke up in eager anticipation this morning...but no snow. Then, at little after 8:00, it started to rain. About ten minutes later I noticed that the rain was starting to look a little plump, and about ten minutes after that we had full-fledged snowflakes. I wanted to cancel school for the snow day, but Little Lamb takes a nap from 9-11 so going outside wasn't even an option until after lunch. We did school, taking plenty of time to run to the window to check on the snow, and then ate a hearty lunch before heading outside.

A good day. We heart snow.

This Morning...

I have two very excited girls who are taking forever to eat their pancakes because they keep running to the window to look at the falling snow. They're certain we are in the midst of a blizzard and that we'll soon have ten foot drifts of snow to make amazing snowmen. (Expected accumulation: 1-6 inches)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Random Thought

If Baby #4 turns out to be a boy, I will have to change the name of the blog.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pictures in No Organized Order

Sometimes I have pictures that I really like that I don't have any particular mind to blog about and they sit on my hard drive, unshared and abandoned. Here's a few random photos that I happen to like, but have no particular stories to tell in connection to them.

Watching the "Splash Dog" competition at the Soldier Hollow Sheepdog Festival:

Rabbit flying a kite at the Spanish Fork WindFest:

Flying kites together at WindFest:

Michael on the zipline at WindFest:

I just like this picture of her...I'm inordinatey fond of the color of her shirt and so happy to have found it (it has a penguin on it). I love little girls in pigtails and she just looks like such a three year old in this picture:

St. George Temple

While we were in St. George this last week, we also visited the St. George Temple:





Saturday, October 24, 2009

Weekly Report: October 19-23, 2009


We had no school whatsoever this week. (Bluebird went to Kindergarten on Thursday and Friday only.)

We spent a good deal of the week down in St. George, and then the remainder of the week unpacking and cleaning up the house. I've started teaching Bluebird how to fold clothes and she is now responsible for her own clothing in regards to folding and putting away. She struggled against it the first few times, but now she's resigned herself to her fate and follows through with minimal verbal reminders, which is awesome for a five year old. It's nice to reduce my folding load by 20%.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sand Dune Princess

Michael had some work to attend to down in St. George, so we packed up the whole family and drove on down for a few days. While we were there, we visited Snow Canyon National State Park and made our way over to the sand dune "sandbox." Little Lamb loved playing in the sand and I got some really cute shots of her!







Friday, October 16, 2009

Weekly Report: October 12-16, 2009


I know you've missed these. :)

With the return of my good health, came the return of homeschooling to our home. We had a very good week--Bluebird thoroughly enjoyed doing school, Rabbit is showing signs of school readiness and has started asking to do more school, and Little Lamb is content to color her little heart out while her sisters work on their projects. I don't feel like everything is quite organized yet, but that's to be expected...it will work itself out eventually.

General Observations:
It was a mistake to buy Bluebird the 50 pack of pencil crayons for school this year. It's simply too many color choices for one little person. In her math lessons she gets to color squares and she takes forever to complete it because it takes her 1-2 minutes per square just to decide what color to use! She's also enormously fond of teal, and tries to use it interchangeably as blue and green. I've had to outlaw teal, saying that it is neither blue nor green and that it's just simply teal. In the future, Kindergarteners in this house will get the basic eight color set of crayons.

After hearing concerns from Bluebird's Kindergarten teacher about her lack of scissor skills, I invested in the Kumon "My First Book of Cutting" workbook for her to practice. Seeing on the front cover that the book is aimed at 3-5 year olds, I also bought one for Rabbit. She's enjoying "cutting time" immensely, but is not grasping the idea so well. I think three may be too young for the cutting workbook...but then, she's loving it, so is it too terribly bad? Perhaps we'll buy another one when she's technically in Kindergarten and she can do it over.

Bluebird:
Has done gloriously well with reading. We finished up with "-ch" and "-tch" endings and are starting to move onto "-ng" endings. She repeatedly has a hard time with words ending in "-itch" and always throws an N into the word, pronouncing it "-inch." Odd. Practice will fix it.

At what age are children expected to completely color in an object and stay within the lines? She's now trying to stay in the lines instead of just scribbling in the general vicinity of whatever object she's coloring, and has no interest in completely filling whatever she's coloring. A large part of me doesn't care too terribly much because I figure it will just come to her as she gets older, but I've heard concerns from Kindergarten about this "issue." I'm thinking I'm going to leave it alone...or should I address it?

This girl is a visual learner. If she sees it, she'll most likely remember it. Auditory is practically worthless to attempt with her. Chore time was a nightmare until I made up charts and now she'll easily read down her list and complete her tasks without me having to remind her seven times about what she's supposed to be doing. (I'm the same way...seriously, this child is an exact replica of yours truly...it's really eery.) But in one of her math lessons this week, she had to answer orally what we were doing and I could tell that it was difficult for her to voice her answers. Give her a piece of paper and she'll write it, no problem. Ask her to answer you verbally and she struggles. Should I push for more verbal answers or just let her go along as we've been going along? I figure, even though she doesn't like the verbal/auditory route, it's a heavily-used method in daily life alone, so we should probably practice.

Rabbit:
She's going to cut off my fingers. But we're having a lovely time.

My philosophy in regards to early childhood education is mellowing out. With Bluebird, I was so eager to start teaching her as soon as I thought she could possibly handle it, and she did really well. But I feel like I was focusing too much on academics throughout her toddler and preschool days. Rabbit is now at the age where I was really starting to do actual school stuff with Bluebird, but it was so much work and it moved so very slow because of the young age. I'm thinking that we'll just leave academics until she's actual Kindergarten or Pre-K age...what will we lose? She'll pick it up faster then and I'm realizing more each day that it really doesn't matter how ahead of the game they get.

However, she is asking for more school. I need to figure something out to appease her request.

Little Lamb:
Turns out she can color. And stick stickers. I'm amazed by little people.

All in all, a good week. I need to think up things to do in the afternoon after rest time because they're running around the house screaming and driving me crazy. Bluebird and Rabbit have both been begging to do art and crafts, so I guess I need to come up with some ideas a few times a week. It's funny, I loved arts and crafts as a child and was so frustrated with adults who wouldn't indulge my crafting desires, and now I'm making the same half-hearted excuses to not do arts and crafts with my own children. Ugh, it's just such a big mess! But really, contained mess or hyper screaming combined with tearing the house apart? Tough decision, right?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Afterschooling

I'm feeling monstrously better now and can even get up and get ready in the morning. This has led to the re-instatement of our homeschooling endeavors, despite the fact that Bluebird still warms a seat in her afternoon Kindergarten class. I do not like having a foot in both worlds and have repeatedly asked my husband if he's OK with me pulling her out of Kindergarten come Christmas break, but he remains sympathetic to the public Kindergarten cause. (And who could blame him? I could suddenly get sick all over again, pregnancy is so annoyingly unpredictable.)

We've picked up where we've left off and it is so nice to do school with my girls again. Bluebird loves the attention and is an intense learner, so I always feel good about giving her more opportunities to learn new things. Rabbit is hastening to drop her routine of watching Playhouse Disney so that she can "be a big girl" and do school with her older sister.

There is one major thing I don't like--I think Kindergarten is teaching Bluebird to "read" using the sight word method, and since we're using the phonics method the two worlds are starting to butt heads. (If I had a nickel for every time I've heard Bluebird say, "But Kindergarten says...") We've had to step up our phonics instruction and having her read aloud to me because she was really starting to muddle things up. As of this week, I think phonics is winning again and she's able to sound out words correctly as before.

I must extend a hearty expression of gratitude for Kindergarten's emphasis on teachings kids to write, as my previous attempts had been completely in vain. She still doesn't like to write, but she'll do it because she knows she has to do it. Not exactly the best case scenario, but...well, I don't know, she's writing now and I'm relieved about it.

So technically, we're "Afterschoolers" instead of homeschoolers and I'm just going to be OK with that for now. (Although, technically TECHNICALLY, we're "Beforeschoolers.")

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Problem with having a Penguin for a Daughter

So Rabbit really likes penguins. We had a penguin birthday party for her, she owns multiple pairs of penguin pajamas and has numerous stuffed penguin toys that she carries about with her. There are days where she will not answer to her given name, stating simply that she's a baby penguin. Some other days, she will only answer questions with an enthusiastic "Squawk!" If I ask her to do something she doesn't want to do, she tells me that "Baby penguins can't clear their plates/put their shoes on/take a nap." She also prefers to not wear her shoes so that she can go "penguin feet" outside.

This morning at breakfast, we were asking Little Lamb to name things. I would point at various members of our family and ask "Who is that?" She can correctly identify everyone but Rabbit, whom she calls "Squawk." This pleases Rabbit to no end.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wee Witches, etc.

Michael took the day off from work today to help me take the girls up to Gardner Village for "Wee Witches Weekend" which began today. We had Breakfast with the Witches and saw all sorts of fun Halloween stuff, which is such a lovely way to spend the first day of October. Bluebird was indulged in her desire for a witch costume, while Rabbit held firm to her desire to be a penguin for Halloween. One costume obligation thrown out the window, the other stubbornly remains alive. And I forgot my camera, so no pictures of the girls enjoying all the witchiness.

We were finished in time to get Bluebird back to school, but some mosquito bites that she got at one of her soccer games two weeks ago were swelling up and we thought she might have an infection, so we kept her home and took her to the doctor. Apparently, she has this random thing about her that if she gets a new bite, it triggers all the old, healing bites and everything swells up again just like they were brand new (and then some). No infection, just itching all over again. And now we have to check the girls' room for spiders because the bite obviously happened during the night, seeing how she was perfectly fine when she went to bed last night and woke up with the former bites looking noticeably puffier. Joy.

Thanks for all your comments on my homebirth vs. hospital birth post. I'm still on the fence. Today I'm leaning towards hospital. Last night I was leaning towards home. Who knows what I'll eventually decide upon?

Michael's cleaning out the garden after yesterday's cold snap. He's already come in with two admirably-sized pumpkins, a plastic grocery bag 25% filled with all the different peppers (such colors!) and another bag completely filled with popcorn corn. Exciting. We have a ton of tomatoes as well, but pregnancy makes it impossible for me to eat anything with tomatoes in them without receiving a massive case of heartburn. And my wonderful sensitivity to smell makes it rather impossible to can it up as anything. The original intent was to make lots of spaghetti sauce. Any of my neighbors who would like some tomatoes, give me a call--we've got grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and Roma tomatoes. Same goes for the herbs in my front yard--three types of basil, sage, mint, parsley, thyme. Blasted sensitive nose. Next year, next year...Baby #4 will have some very nice homemade spaghetti sauce.

And now I'm hungry...