Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Preschool

Aurora turned 3 back in December.  The week after her birthday she started preschool.  Rather than pay someone to teach her, or do a co-op where I went along with the program that they were using, I started my own.  She has two friends that come over once a week for 90 minutes.  We start with circle time, morph into our sound then do an activity (I try to stick with either physical or more time consuming crafts.) After we finish that then it's snack time followed by a number game.  Usually we have 10-15 minutes of playtime at the end.  It's short, its sweet and she loves it. 
I'm basing the reading off of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book!  Rora isn't quite old enough (or ready - recommend starting at 4-4 1/2)to do the program outlined in the book so I am using the principles in it and incorporating that into more of a letter of the week style.
*I'm outlining it here since I've had a few questions on what I do... 
So here goes:

We started with the 'm' sound.  Had the kids write it down, and then we went through a maze (I used random objects and then threw a blanket over them to make it a fort so they couldn't see what came next.) We did marshmallow art (bite half a mini marshmallow and stick the rest on your picture) and ate muffins. 
'S' came next.  We went on a spacewalk. (pillows on the floor covered with a blanket.  The kids put on my boots and oven mitts and walked through picking up space rocks. (Ella's toy rings covered in foil.))
'a' was next (the short a sound as in APPLE)  We did acrobatics and apple art( cut the apple into different sizes and different ways and stamp it into paint and on the page.
'e' was a bit challenging.  (Long E sound as in EAT) Even though it was January, we had an Easter egg hunt, decorated paper Easter eggs, and moved like an 'emu, eel and eagle.'
't' comes next although I can't remember what exactly we did...but you could make a train out of shapes (emphasizing the triangle) talk on the telephone, tap dance, now that my brain is sort of working I think we tried to guess what we were touching while blindfolded.
The next sound introduced in the book is 'r'. It was Valentines day so we skipped ahead and had a Valentines party.  Made crafts and talked about how we show love.
Then 'r'.  We growled like a pirate. 'rrrr' not 'aaarrrrrr' to emphasize the difference.  They made a hook with their hand when saying it and the hook looks like an r.  We also had running races.
For 'd' we Danced and made a duck out of a D. (Cut out a capitol D then put a googly eye, a beak, feet and glue feathers on it.) We ate homemade donuts.
'i' came next. (short i as in insect.)  For 'i' week we read a book about insects and made ants on a log and grasshoppers for snack (ants-celery, peanut butter and raisins. grasshoppers-carrot, raisin eyes and stick pretzels cut in half for legs - stuck on with ranch) and learned about sound vibration and what makes INSTRUMENTS sound lower or higher.  They each made their own instrument.
'th' was our next sound.  We made a collage of 13 things, and ate three things for snack.  I know it's not very th, but we made puppets and had them be our thank you puppets.  We played the thank you song and the puppets danced around and said thank you.
We skipped 'c' (as in CARROT) because I wasn't being the sharpest crayon and completely overlooked it.  BUT we are doing it this week.  We're setting up the tent after were done so they can go camping.  And creating individual carrot cupcake that they will get to decorate. 
'o' As in octopus comes next.  We did an obstacle course - walking from stool to stool-3 stools that were touching- down the slide, in and out of boxes, under the trampoline that was propped next to the couch, over the bench, under the table and over the bench, walk along the 'tightrope' - jump rope on the ground, around the bucket, do a somersault and under the rope.  The kids ate octopus's for snack (I didn't make them, Mom of one of the kids did...they were pancakes with raisin eyes.)

After this week we are taking a couple weeks off for vacations, then we just have 3 weeks left until the end of the year.  Were going to spend them reviewing and doing more games and crafts that involve multiple sounds. 
We also play a homemade matching game with the sounds.  My goal is to have Rora know most of the sounds by the end of summer so when we start back up with preschool in the fall they will be ready to really start the 100 days book and do a lesson each class (so 2 lessons a week)  and we will do a craft or game with each lesson but mostly focus on the reading and comprehension of each lesson. 
My favorite websites are
letteroftheweek.com and
http://www.first-school.ws
For the alphabet printables:
http://www.first-school.ws/theme/alphabet.htm
For number printables:
http://www.first-school.ws/theme/printables/number-worksheet-jar.htm

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Last week was Hell

I know, what a weird title for this post, but I couldn't think of a better one.  Let me explain.

   It all started Monday night.  Ella nursed and nursed and nursed some more.  By Tuesday morning I felt as if I hadn't slept at all, I was cranky and my back hurt from the positions I 'tried' to sleep in.  My day didn't get any better.  I was exhausted, the girls were fighting and fighting and Ella didn't take a long enough nap so I wasn't able to get one.  The week continued in the same fashion.  By Friday I felt like a horrible Mom.  4 nights no sleep, my back was out, the house was a mess, I had to push Kira to get her school done and the girls weren't getting along. 
   I missed my Mom, my friends back in Alabama, even myself.  I was in a total downward spiral, self pity party, woe is me kind of day.  I did the only thing I could.  I walked away.  I went into my room and started to cry. 
   But there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.  And I saw the light.  My dear, sweet friend Sue stopped by and saw the mess I was.  She scooped up the kids and took them to the park.  Isn't it amazing how one act can change your whole outlook.  I went and got a power nap, my aunt called and I had uplifting conversation, my living room and kitchen got picked up and I had time to get dinner in the oven. 
   By the time the girls came home I had a renewed sense of self.  It wasn't chance that brought my friend to the door, it was inspiration.  It was a hug from the Lord telling me that it was ok, that I was ok and everything else would be ok.  Because I knew the Lord was watching me and loves me enough to send help.
   This week has been amazing.  I woke up Saturday morning after a good nights sleep, I watched conference and accomplished a huge task (updating our 72 hour kits) in just a few hours, and felt energized.  That energy has continued and so far this week has been wonderful.  My kids haven't been perfect, but I have been a better Mom.  I have remained calm and haven't gotten frustrated as easily and the girls have gone to bed with a smile every night.
   I know that it won't always be this way.  There will be more down weeks in the future.  Life will still be hard.  But sometimes all it takes is the inspiration of a friend acting as an instrument for the Lord to remind me that I am loved and it's ok that I'm not perfect. 

Thanks for being the vessel of my reminder Sue!  When I grow up I want to be like you!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Easter Fun!

Easter this year was WONDERFUL! 
Easter is such a spiritually charged time.  I love the feel in the air.  We don't 'do' the Easter Bunny, finding that it takes away from Easter.  And since I've been trying to slowly wean myself and everyone off all processed foods, we didn't give the girls baskets either.

All week we had talks about the true meaning of Easter.  Kira is at such a great age for understanding.  I love the faith of a child, the knowledge that it's truth simply because she feels it in her heart.  The world has yet to crowd in and instill any doubt. 

Saturday we had our ward Easter party.  Breakfast and an egg hunt.  Of course, the hunt was over in less than 3 minutes but the girls had fun and as an added bonus decided to give all but a small handful of their candy to their aunt Lizzie since she had watched them the night before.

I had fun taking pictures of the girls and love the way they turned out!







Ella is so funny,
every time she gets set on the grass she lifts one leg up,
 she doesn't like the feel!


 
Easter morning brought Resurrection rolls for breakfast followed by 8:30 church.
 
Rora was such a doll with the Resurrection rolls, she couldn't wrap her head around where the marshmallow went, trying to figure out if it came back to life like Jesus.  After a few minutes of both Kira and I trying to explain Kira blurted out, "It just melted.  It's a reminder, that's all!"  Rora still is talking about the rolls and how the marshmallow just melted, BUT Jesus really did come back to life! 

*If  you've never heard of Resurrection rolls, here is  a good explanation
http://teachmama.com/how-to-teach-the-easter-story-to-kids-resurrection-rolls/

After church Josh's family came over for dinner.

We gave each of the girls a silver coin as a great reminder of the true meaning of Easter 


They each got a small chocolate bunny as well...

I think Ella liked the chocolate :)

Great Grandpa George and Grandma Robbie came a little early.
It was wonderful to have some extra time just to visit with them. 
Robbie was so wonderful and got each of my girls  an Easter dress!

Uncle Joe was such a good sport! 


Easter was wonderful and focused around the things that matter most.  Christ and family!                                                        
 
*Note: Even what I thought would be a small amount of sugar was enough to make Kira sick.  She at 2 marshmallows in her rolls for breakfast (along with fresh fruit,) a 3oz chocolate bunny (eaten over the course of the day), a small piece of pie and half a scoop of ice cream...not what I would consider enough to make you sick, but it goes to show that when your body isn't used to sweets and doesn't get enough sleep, overload happens!!
 



Botanical Gardens

We went to the Botanical gardens last week, two weeks ago...time is mushing together, I think it has to be the fact that Ella still nurses at night...a lot!

Anyways, our membership to the gardens in Alabama expired at the end of March so we FINALLY went to the gardens.  Overall I was glad that I hadn't made the hour trip earlier.  It was extremely disappointing.  I think mostly because Huntsville's (HSV) Botanical Gardens are so awesome!  In HSV the gardens have a kids section, many water rocks/features, trains, tree houses throughout the gardens and many, many more 'kid friendly' activities.  We could (and did) spend all day there and barely get through one section of the garden.
Here, the gardens were much larger but they had almost nothing for kids to do/see.  Even I was bored.  Sorry, but the four different desert types isn't very interesting and the cactus's looked pretty similar in each...

We did have fun and I'm glad we went, if only to check it off our list. 
*On a random side note, I got fried on my upper arms (missed a section with the sunscreen.)  I was told to try lavender oil and by morning the lobster colored burn was gone!  I still find it amazing! 

Proof that even the desert holds some beauty

This cactus was beautiful!

Grinding beans - the ONLY kid friendly activity
*we spent 45 minutes here :)




I want this sundial in my backyard! 
It was really fun for Kira to figure out what time it was. 
My girl is super smart and after a little explanation of why and how it works could read them :)





 
The butterfly tent was fun, except that they were hard core not wanting you to try to let them land on you.
Very grumpy about it...made me miss AL and all our fun trips to the gardens there!

Crazy Kids!

Every night before either Josh or I go to bed, we take Rora to the restroom...this is how I found the girls passed out the other night.  Crazy Kids!

*Usually they are tangled up in each other....my guess is Rora was wanting to snuggle and Kira didn't so she put the 'wall' up between them :)


Happy Birthday Dr Seuss

A few weeks ago Josh took Rora on a date while Kira had dance.  They went to the library for special activities centering around Dr. Seuss.  I just have to say, that I am completely in love with Dr. Seuss!  Having a child learn how to read I got so sick of the stupid easy readers that either were to easy or had way to many 'exception to the rule' words.  It was really hard and frustrating for both Kira and I.  BUT she could read Dr. Seuss' books and now has a couple of them memorized and "reads" them to Rora all the time.  She puts so much inflection in her voice when she reads them.  His books are pure genius!

Anyways, Josh took Rora to the library.  She really wanted to have Dr. Seuss hair, so we went with a nod to the Who's with her hair.  I am rather proud of it, I used no wires, gel and only a bit of hairspray. 


Rora had a blast playing the games, doing the crafts, but mostly just having special time with her Daddy :)

Our Last Day in Disneyland :(

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and our last day came way to fast.  Everyone told me we were crazy for spending 5 days in DL.  There wasn't enough to do, we would get bored, etc, etc.  I am happy to report that wasn't the case.  We didn't get to ride every ride and even though we tried to slow down and enjoy every minute, one more day would have been nice.  There were a few rides that we intentionally skipped on our previous days because of long lines.  We tried to hit most of these, although we didn't succeed. 
Josh ran to get fastpasses for space mountain while I took the girls and got in line for dumbo.  The girls loved it and were only a little disappointed that they couldn't ride alone together. (Kids under 7 have to be accompanied by someone over 14...) 
 
 



Read to ride the circus train...they were in the monkey car :)

The next few pictures are from the Storybook Land Canal Boats. 
They were miniatures and totally awesome!




 


 
We had planned on staying until around 2-3pm, but ended up leaving around 1pm since Rora was exhausted from all the days of fun.  It was a great trip and I can't wait until we can do it again!

Disneyland Trip - Day 4


This was the day we had been gearing up for.  Kira was dancing!  We took the morning to 'sleep in' (it means an entirely different thing with 3 kids that aren't used to their surroundings...we were at the park by about 9:30, not 9 when they open...)  We went to California Adventure since that was where Kira would be dancing.  We braved the lines and went to Car's Land to ride the kiddie rides, even though they had longer waits.  *Yes, we have become snobbish since our trips to DW have been in the off season so there are rarely lines and skipped many rides because of the wait times...
 
*Blogger is having issues, NON-user error related ;) and I can't get the pictures back in order...


Josh and I enjoy SNL and recently they have 'The Californians' skits.
 Every mirror we passed we had to make our Californian's faces.
 It made us laugh, and those around us stare uncomfortably :)
Josh and the girls were waiting in line for Luigi's Flying Tires when he captured this picture :)
 
 
 






Posing just before her performance with Frozone

Excited to perform!


Heading backstage to perform

Hi Mickey!



Cinderella was just coming out as were were enter Disneyland after Kira performed. 
Kira told her all about her dancing :)

Even Ella liked her...from a distance :)
*Rora was napping so no pics of her....


Pinocchio loved Ella and was the only costumed character that got her to smile :)




Group dinner - adult conversation is so nice!


All the kids sat at the other table.  Grace was wonderful to have Rora sit by her.
 I didn't have to do anything the entire meal.  Bliss!

Ceylan her dance teacher with most of the girls

 
 
 
As a Mom of course, my favorite portion of the day was watching Kira dance.  This may sound boastful, I'm not perfect and I think it's part of the job description of being a Mom, but she was the best of the 6-7 year olds out there.  She worked so hard on her dancing and did great on the stage.  She just needed to smile more! 
 
Josh's favorite was watching her dance, and dinner at PCH Grill - no surprise, he loves to eat!