Friday, October 29, 2010

Weekly Report: October 25-28, 2010


Four day school week.  We volunteered to drive a homesick college freshman to the airport today and I decided to make a day of it because we hardly get to hang out in good ol' Salt Lake City.

It was a weird week.  It felt like everyone and everything were trying to squash all my homeschooling self-discipline right out of me.  I don't like saying no to people, but I put my foot down this week and asserted that
I have a job that I cannot leave during the day.

If you need me for something, it has to be in the evening.  I'm not shortchanging my kids' educations anymore because I think people might get upset with me for saying no.

I'm not flexible.
I never have been.
Accept it.

Moving on...

Math:  Math manipulatives are so much fun.  Doesn't matter if you're two, four or six (or twenty-eight...); it's fun to play with manipulatives.


Phonics:  Bluebird's still chugging along.  I don't think I got any phonics work in with Penguin this week.  Whoops.

Penmanship:  Bluebird is one mercurial little creature.  Perhaps it was having to do her work at the park last week or perhaps she's just realizing that she just has to do it, but there was significantly less balking about writing this week.  Oh, thank you.

We picked the pumpkins in our garden during recess this week.
Grammar:  We started memorizing the "Work" poem in FLL.  Bluebird loves memorizing stuff.  LOVES IT.  She's pretty good at it, which makes it a whole lot more fun for everyone involved.

Spelling:  Check.

Literature:  Uh, I didn't make it to the library last week because I was sick, so we just read whatever I could happen upon for literature.  Whatever, like I was going to find something about Hammurabi? 

Junebug likes to shove her sisters down the slide.
History:  Shocking, we learned about Hammurabi.  We also forged ahead and learned about the Assyrians.  I thought the depiction of the decapitated rebels in our children's encyclopedia was a little much, but Bluebird didn't seem bothered by it...in fact, I think it helped her remember that the Assyrians were some cruel dudes.  I'm so pleased that she has been able to remember who Hammurabi and Shamsi-Adad are and also able to keep their ruling styles correctly in her mind.  I love SOTW.  We're also working on memorizing the Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs through the Conquest of Alexander the Great.  It's going slowly; it's a lot of big names for a little 'un to remember.

Bluebird drew a pumpkin she saw in our garden.
Science:  Really, I plan on teaching it this year.  I have an email notifying me of our curriculum's impending arrival this coming Monday.  We did extra history lessons to keep up the momentum.

Art:  We drew stuff from nature.  They weren't very excited about the lesson, as they had been hoping for painting.

Monkeyboy turns into a screaming baboon in the late afternoon, so I'm not trying too terribly hard to quench their appetites for more artistic pursuits at this point in time. 

Mommy must stay sane. 

Brother needs to grow up a little more, then we'll do more art.


Junebug loves her sketch pad!
She also takes after her namesake and draws with her left hand.

Penguin's drawing of a snow-capped mountain with a penguin on top.

The best part is licking the bowl!

 Baking:  I know, weird "subject," but it is part of our school schedule every Monday afternoon.  I figure it's something they need to know how to do, it's something they like to do and we need a treat for our Family Home Evening. 

Right now it's just making cakes and cupcakes from boxed mixes, but we still have to work together to measure, mix, pour and decorate.  (Remember, Mommy must stay sane.)

We made a yellow cake with chocolate frosting this week and it was gooooood.


Religion:  We don't do religion as a subject per se, but we have a little devotional each morning at the beginning of school where we say a family prayer, read a chapter from the children's edition of the scriptures and work on memorizing a scripture.  We're reading from the New Testament right now and working to memorize Omni 1:26 so Bluebird and Penguin can earn some special treat or prize in Primary.  Bluebird's just about got it down--all of it, not just the half portion that her age level has been asked to memorize.  She wanted to be a "big kid" and memorize the whole thing.  It's fun working on memorization with her.
Bluebird also gave the thought in Family Home Evening this week.  She read Matthew 25:40 aloud and then discussed what the verse meant.  She did a good job.  Proud Mommy moment.  :)

Highlights of the Week
  • Bluebird almost being to recite the entire "Work" poem after only one reading of it. 
  • Our new schedule working out quite nicely...and it requires ME to embark on some free reading, something I've been missing for a long, long time.
 Lowlights of the Week
  • Having to put Bluebird in timeout four times on Monday because she was just being a stubborn stinker. 
 Funnies of the Week
  • I made the mistake of trying to take a picture of Monkeyboy during schooltime (Hello, Distraction!).  I needed to get down on his level, which prompted a massive "Hop on Mom" session.  I'll have to post the pictures later.
  • As part of our new schedule, I've implented a mandatory "reading time" during the afternoon.  Bluebird sits on one couch, I sit on the other and Penguin gets out our gymnastic mat and we read for thirty minutes.  Penguin was unusually wiggly during Wednesday's reading time and I watched as she made a pile of her blankets, crawled in underneath them and then promptly fell asleep.  (Actually, that's more endearing than funny, but I have to limit myself on the categories.)


Friday, October 22, 2010

Weekly Report: October 18-22, 2010


It was a somewhat difficult week, mostly due to me getting sick again and having to push through feeling rather tired and yucky, which lends to feeling a little impatient with young girls who do not want to do their work.  However, we did pull off three full days of school and a kind-of half day as well.


Math:  Not bad, not bad.  Bluebird got to do her favorite thing in the world for math:  play store.  We had to spread one of the lessons out in order to extend the fun.  I've also photocopied twenty extra pages of the receipt worksheet so she can play more in the future...she's very happy about it.  Penguin continued along in her math and is doing quite well.  She's surprised me with her eagerness to learn how to write the numbers, something Bluebird has vehemently avoided from the beginning.

Grammar:  Proper nouns.  Bluebird hates writing out the names of our family.  It has come to my attention this week that our grammar program has a sister writing program that you're also supposed to be doing.  Blast!  I've decided that I will introduce it after Christmas break because:  1--We're in a good groove at the moment, and 2--Bluebird hates writing and I just don't want to deal with the extra grumpiness right now.

Phonics:  Bluebird is motoring along.  I think she's realized that if she just keeps doing what I ask her, we'll eventually get to the end of this book and just be done with the subject.  (Which will play quite nicely into my intent to add Writing into our schedule.) 
In light of her recent fear of Dewey, I've laid off of the Phonics Pathways for Penguin and we just reviewed what sound each letter makes.  I did show her that we can "trap" Dewey with Post-It notes so he can't get her...she's considering it.

Spelling:  Did it.  It's easy for Bluebird, but she has to write out the words.  I'm sure you can deduce how well that goes each time.

Penmanship:  Bluebird hates writing.  But we get it done, eventually.  Even to the extent of having her bring it along when we're scheduled to be somewhere and she still hasn't completed her work.

Literature:  We've been reading Bible stories.  Bluebird really enjoyed the story of Jonah and the Big Fish.  However, she chose to do her narration for the story of Noah's Ark because "it's easier to draw."  This underachieving-gifted-student thing is a big challenge for me because I know what she's capable of doing and I'm not sure how hard I should push her to rise to her potential.

Even when I'm sick, we can still do school!
History:  We learned about Sargon "uniting" Mesopotamia, and the Israelites.  Since Sargon was a quick lesson, I decided to do two lessons in one week...trying to make up a little for being so far behind.
I discovered that there's more to the SOTW maps than just handing them to my child and asking them to color it; I'm so glad, as Bluebird was beginning to dislike map work...coloring isn't too far a step from writing, wouldn't you know?

Bluebird's watercolor crayon drawing
of her fantasy treehouse
Science:  I'm only able to order the new curriculum this week, so we're still waiting to resume our scientific studies.  I attempted to schedule a nature hike, but had to cancel it so I could go to the doctor.  (I'd have immensely prefered the hike.)

Art:  We drew pictures with watercolor crayons.  The girls thought I was crazy when I told them it would turn into paint once we added some water, but once I showed them that it was actually possible, they took to the medium with immense enthusiasm.
We also did a little autumn art project in which we cut out "naked" trees and affixed crumpled tissue paper squares to mimic the fall leaves.  I was so proud of Penguin, who did the project almost entirely by herself!


Music Appreciation:  We listened to some "ancient" Egyptian music while playing with Play-Doh.  I'm taking a "worldly" approach to our music appreciation and trying to listen to the music of the lands we're studying in history.  This month is Egypt.  And I know that we don't really have actual music to go off of until we reach our study of Greece, but whatever...I think it's important to expose my children to all cultural facets of music, not just European.


Highlights of the Week:  How easy it was for Bluebird to figure out adding double digits while playing store.  Penguin knowing almost all the sounds of the alphabet.  Junebug knowing quite a few of the sounds as well.

Lowlights of the Week:  Making Bluebird do her penmanship and spelling at the park on Tuesday, after she stubbornly refused to do it at home.  I didn't want to punish her sisters for her behavior, so they got to play at the park while she finished her work at a picnic table.  I felt like such a meanie, but I figured that it was a natural consequence for her actions.
Me being sick AGAIN.  Seriously, what is up?!?!  The anti-biotics they gave me this time are horse pills and they make me even more sick on top of the original sickness.

Penmanship in the Park
Funnies of the Week: Bluebird trying to convince me that looking through her recently-arrived American Girl doll catalog was actually a lesson in history.  Bluebird saying that she needed to learn sign language so that she could keep talking even when her mouth was full.  (Not happening, if that's the reason!)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lip Smackin'

We went to the zoo while we were in Seattle and I took a couple of pictures of the giraffe licking his lips. His tongue grosses me out.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I Am a Pizza


Oh, memories. I was cleaning out my digital videos and came across this one from two years ago and just had to post it.

It's my little Bluebird, making her ward talent show debut. So cute!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Weekly Report: October 11-15, 2010


It was an awesome week.  After last week's post about my disappointments with the school year, I suspect that some of you may have sent some prayers my way...there is no other way to explain how totally great this week went.  FINALLY!

Math:  In addition to having a great week, I also started Penguin on some preschool work.  (Yes, adding another child into the homeschool mix and it was still a great week...seriously, divine intervention had to be at play.)  She is loving Saxon K, which I wasn't too sure how she would react to doing "real" school work.  I love the Saxon K program.  So many people advocate not using and just skipping ahead to Saxon 1 instead, but Saxon K is just this fun, hands-on curriculum that is so unlike Saxon 1 and my kids love it.  (Unfortunately, this causes some problems when we transition into Saxon 1 and its worksheets, but my Bluebird had adapted...eventually.)

Over the course of last weekend I made the decision that I was going to help Bluebird out with the writing portion of her worksheets because it seemed as though she liked Math, but absolutely detested writing...which was killing her love of Math.  However, I'd start schooling Penguin when Bluebird started her worksheets and, for some reason, Bluebird just settled into her work.  I guess she just realized that I can't hold her hand through everything because I have another person to teach.  Weird, but I'll take it.  :)  Her favorite lesson this week was about how to use a ruler.  It was super fun!



Reading:  Bluebird reached the milestone of reading 90 books by herself this week.  We celebrated with a lunch out at a restaurant of her choosing.  As expected, she chose Noodles & Company and ordered plain ol' buttered noodles with parmesan cheese.  Penguin and Junebug were only too happy to join their big sister in her accomplishment, and Penguin has announced to me that when she reads her first ten books and gets to choose lunch, that it will be at "a pizza restaurant that only serves pizza.  No noodles."  Penguin has surprised me with repeated requests to do phonics lessons ever since the celebratory lunch.  Whatever works, right?

Unfortunately, I've run into a wee bit of a snag in regards to Penguin's phonics instruction:  She's terrified of Dewey the Caterpillar in Phonics Pathways.  She's convinced that he's a huge, hairy spider and she will NOT come anywhere near the book.  I'll either have to get a different curriculum or use the Phonics Pathways activities in ways that won't show Dewey.  Just another testament to how great homeschooling is for personally adapting the curriculum to the individual, eh?  Ha ha.

Writing:  Meh.  Bluebird doesn't like it, but she'll do what she's asked to complete with minimal balking.

History:  Mummies and pyramids.  Fun stuff.  Weirdly enough, we haven't done any cool projects to go with it.  Bluebird loves to learn about Ancient Egypt and emphatically proclaims that Egypt is her favorite country to learn about.

ScienceHomeschool Fail.  I'm going to abandon my previous intent to just check out books at the library.  Michael has been interested in a particular curriculum called Real Science 4 Kids since he saw it at last year's homeschool convention and has suggested we switch over to that.  He's impressed with a Chemistry and Physics curriculum that's geared towards the K-3 crowd, and has pointed out that Bluebird and Penguin know tons about animals and plants from our years of checking out books about animals and plants.  So I'm going to switch into Chemistry for the year, with lots of bubbling and oozing experiments that are sure to thrill my budding scientists.

Art:  We did the first lesson in ARTistic Pursuits.  The girls loved their sketch books and their "special" Ebony pencils made just for drawing.  I think they did a great job on their first assignment, which was to draw something they had seen in the past day:
Penguin's Drawing:  A truck carrying logs.

Bluebird's Drawing:  A car on the freeway, driving past a billboard with animals on it.

Penguin drew some extra pictures.  This is a portrait of the elephant we saw at the zoo while we were in Seattle.
Highlights of the Week:  Bluebird telling me (as we left the Noodle Restaurant) that we needed to move to Italy because she loved noodles so much.  Penguin refusing to speak English this morning and naming all the colors in her math lesson by their Spanish names.  (And no, I don't know where she picked that up...Dora or Diego?)

Homeschool Sweet Homeschool, how great you make my days!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Blog Design

Thanks for all the positive comments about Brooketopia's new look.  I've loved overhauling its look and getting to know various folks on the web who have so generously shared their knowledge with me.  I figure it's only fair to post who they are and how they helped.

Carrie from Live, Learn, and Love Together--the original inspiration that my blog needed a new look.  I emailed her and she was super nice and super helpful in pointing me to the places and products she used to make her blog look so cute.

The CoffeeShop Blog--seriously, you need to read her tutorials.  Just go do it.  Now.  Amazing.

kevinandamanda.com--also very awesome, and cute free fonts!  (I've used "Pea Leslie's Happy Font" here on the blog.)

Weeds & Wildflowers--where I bought the graphics that are now in use here on the blog.  (I used various "Sweet & Simple #7" Kits and my trusty Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.)

A big thank you to everyone who has helped me with their advice or products!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Weekly Report(s): September 13-October 8, 2010


Yeah, you read that right...September 13th through October 8th.  That's a whole lotta weeks.  With not a whole lotta school going on.  I don't know what's going on, but I think I may just be getting a big, fat lesson in "learn how to be flexible with your plans."

Ugh, this school year is the stuff of...geez.  We were supposed to start school on August 16th, but Michael's stepfather passed away and we decided to spend that time in Idaho with family...no regrets there; in fact, I'm glad we had the flexibility that homeschool afforded us to partake of that opportunity.

Week #2--I was sick with whatever it was that Michael brought home from Belgium
Week #3--One week of school
Week #4--Labor Day messed with our plans a bit
Week #5--Sagebrush pollen made it almost impossible for me to function
Week #6--Still suffering through my sagebrush allergies, and then we left for Seattle
Week #7--We did some school, despite being 890 miles away from home.
Week #8--Still some more school in Seattle, despite the stress of my grandfather being diagnosed with congestive heart and chronic lung failure while we there.
Week #9--We travelled home, and since it was a scheduled school break, I decided to take the break rather than try to catch up and stress us out even more.

Next year, I'm just writing a big fat question mark over the month of September.  The sagebrush pollen is just nasty here and I'm wickedly allergic to it.  I might just schedule our school year to begin in October.

So we'll hop back onto the homeschool wagon this coming Monday.  I'm trying to decide if I'm going to try to catch up or if I'll just go along at regular speed and finish when we finish.  Any veteran homeschoolers want to weigh in with their opinions?  Sprint vs. marathon?  Relax, it all gets covered...etc.?

Craziness.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Day in the Life:
Thursday, September 16, 2010

(I know, I'm really late in posting this; but we went out of town for two weeks and, as some of you noticed, my posting went down to almost zero during that time.  However, I'm getting back to my regular routine and have found time to type this up.)

The thing I was looking for when setting up this "Day in the Life" series of posts was to really get an accurate snapshot of our lives, which is why I set them up to re-occur at regular intervals (101 days), instead of when it was convenient.  Unfortunately (for my "I love order" self), those days can fall on days where everything is completely chaotic because, well, life tends to be chaotic.  The following was such a day, because we were leaving the next morning to drive up to Seattle and live at my granny's house for two weeks while Michael fulfilled some work obligations at their Seattle office.

Bluebird: 6 years, Penguin: 4 years, Junebug: 2 years, Monkeyboy: 5 months
1:10 AM:  I wake up because I "need" to feed Monkeyboy.  (One of the uncomfortable truths of breastfeeding.)  Unfortunately, Monkeyboy has decided to sleep through this feeding.  I try to go back to sleep, which is difficult with engorged mammaries.

4:07 AM:  Oh thank goodness, Monkeyboy starts waking up!  I yank him out of his bassinet and settle him in to eat and I breathe a sigh of relief.  I switch on some Nick at Nite and cringe to realize that "Home Improvement" is on...I watched that as a child, come on!  While I'm deeply stewing over the fact that I might actually be getting old, I experience a surge of adrenaline when something moves under the blankets in my bed.  It's Penguin.


4:44 AM:  I wrap Monkeyboy up and lay him down to go back to sleep, turn off my alarm clock because I'm starting to feel kind of yucky and then go out into the kitchen to wander about while waiting for Monkeyboy to truly fall back asleep.  Out of curiosity, I take down the calendar to figure out what the date for the next installment of "Day in the Life" will be and groan when I calculate it to be December 26th.  So much for another shot at capturing a "normal" day for us.

4:50 AM:  Monkeyboy is out.  I climb back into my bed, cover up Penguin with a blanket and then roll over to get some shut-eye.

6:52 AM:  I roll out of bed as quietly as possible so I can sneak in a shower before anyone else wakes up.

7:32 AM:  I am ready for the day.  I stop Michael from leaving for work in order to talk about our "feeding the family" strategy for the car trip up to Seattle.


7:44 AM:  Junebug wakes up in her usual grumpy state.  Really, if she wasn't so darn cute, some days I would just send her back.


7:48 AM:  Michael heads on out to work.

7:55 AM:  Monkeyboy starts to stir.  I'm working on making some toast for Junebug, so I leave him alone.

8:00 AM:  Yeah, he's not going to wait any longer.  Time to spend some time on the couch with my Monkeyboy.

8:30 AM:  I finish feeding Monkeyboy while listening to Junebug sing through eating her toast.  Good times, good times.  I change his diaper and then start making the rounds to wake up Bluebird and Penguin.

8:38 AM:  I've dragged them all out of bed and start walking them through the process of getting dressed, making their beds and brushing their hair while simultaneously monitoring a mass production of toast in the kitchen.

8:58 AM:  Bluebird and Penguin sit down to eat a lot of toast.  Monkeyboy starts getting grumpy.

9:00 AM:  I sit down on the couch again to feed Monkeyboy.

9:17 AM:  I wrap Monkeyboy up and put him down for a nap and then go make some toast for myself.  I eat it in front of the computer while updating the little photos of the family in the blog's sidebar.

10:50 AM:  I am shaken from my computer-induced fog when Penguin gallops by with the most unruly head of hair.  I glance up at the clock, am shocked by how much time has passed and then bolt out of my chair to herd Penguin into the bathroom to tackle her hair.

11:00 AM:  I wake up Monkeyboy from his nap and sit down to feed him, but he's so not interested in food.  Weird.  Oh well, saves me some time.  I yell out that we're going to the homeschool store and for everyone to get their shoes on.  There's a mad scramble downstairs for shoes while I buckle Monkeyboy into his carrier and I am then subjected to repeated requests for help with tying shoelaces and fastening sandal straps.  It takes about fifteen minutes to get everyone ready and strapped into their carseats before we leave the driveway.  We head off to LDFR to buy some activities and books for the girls to enjoy on the fourteen hour drive to Seattle.

12:10  PM:  We arrive home.  I check the mail on the way and allow Bluebird and Penguin the "big girl" freedom of walking home from the mailbox by themselves.  (The mailboxes are about three doors down from our house.)  Junebug gets to switch out of her toddler "harness" carseat and ride the three doors' worth of street home in one of her sisters' booster seats.  It is enormously amusing to me to see how huge these small feats of independence are to them.

12:20 PM:  All inside the house, time to start making lunch, which, I just can't remember anymore at the time of writing this up.

12:30 PM:  We sit down for lunch.  Must not have been too terribly memorable to begin with if it only took me ten minutes to get it together.

12:35 PM:  I try to write some birthday cards while I eat so I can have them on me as we travel and I can mail them at the right time.  Monkeyboy isn't liking it.  He makes his disapproval known.  I abandon my lunch so I can feed him.

12:55 PM:  I wrestle Junebug down for a nap and tuck in Monkeyboy.  Bluebird and Penguin go to their respective "quiet time" stations--no school today, so they can indulge in some electronics...Penguin goes with computer games and Bluebird chooses quality time with the Netflix Instant Queue.

1:40 PM:  I steal a couple of winks for myself.

2:42 PM:  I wake up and start gathering the necessaries to do some laundry and discover that Junebug snuck out of her bed and is now quietly watching TV with Bluebird on the couch.  I weigh the consequences of punishing her for this behavior and go with a "Hey, you're supposed to be in bed, get a move on."  She pushes out her lower lip, but gets up and drags her blankie behind her as she returns to her bed.

2:55 PM:  My day is so totally shot.  I should be packed by now, ready to load up the van when Michael gets home and I'm only just starting on the laudnry.  I decide to just write down all the things I need to do so I can focus on one thing at a time...I get bogged down horrendously when I have a lot of things to do outside of my normal routine.


...and the second page with my notes on it has magically disappeared between when I wrote it and this three weeks later write-up.  All I can remember is that I did lots and lots of laundry and folded a lot of clothes and packed two suitcases, a duffel bag, three laundry baskets and a plethora of various bags, which Michael artfully arranged in the van.  We finished around 10:30 PM and then went to sleep to get ready for our 5 AM wake-up call. 
two

Although, as I searched through the photos from the day, I was reminded that we had a spirited discussion about Junebugs while eating dinner.  Neither Michael nor myself really knew what they were, so the discussion ended in the living room, where everyone gathered 'round to find out what Junebugs actually looked like:

Next Day in the LifeSunday, December 26, 2010
Previous Day in the LifeMonday, June 14, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Blind Penguin No More

My dear, sweet second daughter displayed an "off-axis" right eye as early as her two-month check-up. At that time it was thought that she would require surgery to repair the muscles in that eye, but after much prayer, fasting and a special blessing, her eye was deemed strong enough to not require the surgery. I breathed a sigh of relief, and gratefully accepted the warning from our pediatric opthamologist that she would probably require prescription eyeglasses before her third birthday. 

Here she is, displaying (with pride) that she can make her weaker eye turn inwards. She made it past her third birthday without glasses, but it became apparent not too long afterwards that she was indeed speeding towards the world of presciption eyewear.

Our optometrist, who is completely awesome, has played the glasses card very cautiously and only agreed to put her in them when it became very obvious that she needed them.  I'd been watching her closely, noting whether or not she was squinting at distant objects.  The first big tip-off was about six months ago, when I held up a great big picture of something in the kitchen and, despite an impressive amount of squinting, she declared that she couldn't see it.  The next incident happened about a month later, when I came downstairs and found her standing four inches away from the television.  Penguin informed me that she was standing that close because she wasn't able to see it from the couch.  I frowned, made a mental note and promised myself that if I caught her doing something like that again, that I'd make an appointment with the optometrist. 


She definitely upped the ante with her next "something like that"--I was talking to her by the table and when she started walking toward me she walked full-on into the chair in front of her...the look on her face when the two of them collided told me that she had not seen it at all, despite it being within her line of sight the entire time she was walking towards me.  I made the appointment the next day.  The optometrist confirmed that she was definitely in need of glasses.  She picked out a cute little pair of pink frames ("Because they look like Mama's, but in pink!") and eagerly awaited the day when we could return to pick them up.  As expected, she chattered away on the car ride home, exclaiming over all the little things she could see, now that her "glasses make the windows stop being blurry." 

I knew that Penguin would be pleased with being able to see her world in detail.  I expected that; remembered what it was like to put on my first pair of glasses for the first time...what a happy moment it is to see the world clearly again!  What I didn't expect was how much being able to see clearly would change Penguin.  Pre-glasses, I would have described her as cautious and a bit of an apron-string holder.  However, within hours of putting those little pink glasses on her face, she started taking risks and insisting on doing things herself.  Funny that you don't notice things like that before they happen, but I realized that Penguin never went through that "I do it by myself!" phase (which we're actually experiencing the pleasure of going through right now with her younger sister Junebug).  But don't worry, she's making up for lost time--she's figured out how to dress herself easily and can now be seen attempting some rather death defying moves at the local playgrounds...things that were definitely not part of Penguin's former routine.

It's amazing how one little adjustment can set someone's life in the right direction.  She's gone from a timid little thing and turned into an adventurous four year old girl...it's been great to watch the transformation.  What will she do next, now that she can see where she's going?