Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rough draft of Summer Bucket List

Our Summer bucket list... a rough draft version.

swim in the big pool at Heritage
play in the sprinkler
play at Heritage park

play with the sprinkler I got (for his birthday)
Play at the fountains
(he came back to say "Mom, I also want to swim at the pool.")

go in the sprinkler
build super duper big guns

Mmhmm..... there you have it people.  My boys, the like water, outside, and guns.  Oh and school.  What is that anyway??

For myself:
Take the kids to Pokagon for a fun day
Strawberry Fest
Apple Fest
Yard sale going
Go to the Ft Wayne zoo
See a parade
Go to the County Fair

And my mind has gone blank.  I know that there are tons of things the kids and I will want to do this summer.  Thank to pinterest and blogland there is no shortage of ideas.  This is just a very basic starter list.  I'm planning to create a kind of schedule similar to ones I've found on pinterest where we do the same thing on each Monday, the same thing on each Tuesday, etc.  I haven't really finalized it yet but I'm going to work on it this week.

We're currently pushing to finish 1st grade the last week of June.  If we can though I'd love to move that up a week or two.  This mama is ready for summer.

Have a great Wednesday friends.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Daddy and daughter sweetness

Every morning when we're getting ready to go somewhere out of the house I get my darling daughter all ready to go.  We pick out an adorable outfit (usually a dress - she and I both love them), we get her dressed up and do her hair all pretty in ponytails.  During the week she's happy to accept my words "So beautiful, what a pretty girl!" as confirmation that we've done well making her presentable to the world.

But when daddy is home on the weekend forget about it.  My word means nothing.  When I finish her hair by putting the bow in and say "all done, so pretty!" she takes that as her cue to hop off of her chair and run straight to her daddy.  Sometimes he sees her right away and sometimes I have to say "Daddy!" and then he looks down at her and he smiles and tells her how pretty and beautiful she is and she twists her little ponytail and sways side to side a little and glows at her daddy telling her she's pretty.

And it hit me yesterday as I watched this familiar ritual take place that this is one of my favorite moments of every weekend.  It never ever gets boring seeing my daughter revel in the love and adoration of her daddy.  Never.

And it hit me that she believes him.  She does not have one second of doubt that if her daddy is telling her she's pretty that it is truth.  I prayed that she would continue to believe him and continue to allow his opinion to matter above ALL others until her husband.  Because she will always be beautiful in her daddy's eyes and if she believes him always then she will know she is beautiful always.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Expect yourself to be YOU not me

I've been thinking all day about what I should blog about.  I have plenty I could say.  But I generally hold my tongue unless I absolutely feel something MUST be said.  So usually when I post about something it's because I feel especially passionate about it right that minute.

I don't feel terribly passionate about anything right this minute.  It's making it very hard to post.  I would normally do a wordless Wednesday but alas broken camera and all that jazz.

I was thinking earlier as I supervised outdoor play keeping my eyes on five small children and thought about how different it was to do it as a mother than it was to do it as a paid childless "teacher".

I made small mention yesterday that I used to do this for a living before I did it as a lifestyle.

When I worked as a head teacher in a daycare I was responsible for the daily care and teaching of 12 2yr olds.  I had an aide because of ratios and it was awesome.  We got along great.  I loved the children in my class.  I started out as an aide.  Then I moved to a newer recently opened branch of the daycare and became a lead teacher.  I started out with the 12-18 mo olds.  Then as they got older and that branch grew I moved up with my students to teach them in the 18-24 mo room.  And then I moved once more as they moved into the 24-36 mo room.  I was with these students day in and day out for about two years of their little lives and mine and I adored them.  I braided hair and tied shoes and wiped running noses.  I went all out decorating our classroom after hours for Halloween and Christmas.  Found fun and fantastic craft ideas and tried to keep our weekly lessons just plain fun while being educational.  I moved our classroom around on a regular basis to keep it fresh for everyone.  We followed a routine schedule that included snacks, lunch, potty times, outside times, and naps as well as play and learning.  It was exhausting but rewarding in so many ways.  And at the end of a long exhausting day I would go home and spend the evening alone or with my then boyfriend (now he's KOJ of course).

When I had my own children I think I had this idea that I could make it as routined and easy as corralling 12 toddlers all day long had been at the daycare.  I was so completely wrong.  I don't think there are even words to express how wrong I was. 

First - these are MY children.  Yes at the daycare I was expected to care for the kids properly and teach them colors, shapes, and abc's along with animal sounds etc.  But as a mom I'm responsible for the people they turn out to be!  That is HUGE!  Seriously.  It's a very daunting fact of motherhood.  Who my children are as adults will be a result of how I parented them.

Second - there is no aide.  My aide was great at helping care for the children but she was also great at adult interaction and conversation!  I am alone.  All day.  Every day.  With children.  No adults here.  If I could afford to pay another adult woman to come sit and just keep me company I would be sorely tempted most days.  I crave adult interaction and adult conversation and I wait eagerly for my husband to return home at night.

Third - my children are already at home.  They aren't going anywhere.  The children at the daycare went home for the night and so did I.  Once I left work I was done for the day.  Here I'm always on call at the very least, even at 3am.  There is always a chance that one (or more) children will wake me in the night for a drink or help using the potty or just because they felt like crawling into our bed and jabbing their knees into my spine.  The kids at the daycare NEVER did that.  Ever.  Amazing. hahahaha

Fourth - and I think this one is huge - the expectations are completely different and that was hard to reconcile. My expectations of myself were completely ridiculous. Prior to having children I expected myself to work my hours and I expected myself to do basic housework. I wasn't terribly good at that second expectation but it was kinda there. Once I had Kayd and was no longer working I expected that our home should always be clean and our life should somehow be rosier. I was just so wrong. First of all Kayd was a hard baby. He didn't want to nap unless he was on me and at the time I had not yet found the amazingness of a mei tei baby wrap (and I have never since had a baby who always wanted to be held, go figure). I also didn't realize how physically exhausted and demanding merely mothering a baby would be. I think it had a lot to do with the third point above and that constantly on call thing. Regardless though even after baby #2 came I thought I should be able to keep a completely clean house and care for my two precious babies. I think when #3 came along I gave up even though I still felt like it was something that I should be able to do I was simply a failure. But in the last two years I've prayed, I've read articles, and blog posts by other Christian mamas out there and I have come to realize that this expectation I had for myself was completely errant. I realized that I am only one person and some women are amazing and some women can keep a spotless house and lovingly care for their babies all in the same day. But I am not one of them no matter how much I wish I were. God has gifted me differently. Now I expect myself to keep our dishes clean, laundry clean, make sure our children get bathed, try to vacuum the living room at least once a week, and everything else housework wise is complete gravy. KOJ and I have agreed that the schooling our children is priority over a spotless house. 

Sometimes though I still find myself slipping into my old expectations and it is then that I have to remind myself that I am not the mother who is capable of doing everything with complete amazingness and a spotless house.  I am not that woman.  I have wanted to be that woman so long but I end up realizing that I am not her, I am me.  I am gifted differently.  I am that mom that even though I'm exhausted at the end of every day cannot think of one thing to say the mother-to-one that I run into at the park who looks at my four children and says "wow, I barely stay sane with one, I can't imagine four!" because frankly four has it's challenges but I cannot imagine only having one.  One was harder than four.  There is some kind of strange easiness that comes with having multiple children (and I'm sure it helps that mine are so close in age) where they play together, they help each other, they teach each other, they do half of my job for me.  I am that woman who will melt crayons with my children.  I am that woman who gets carnations from her children for Mother's day and her first thought is "YAY! We can stick them in colored water and do science with them."  I am and always will be that teacher who always wants to make things fun and hands on and never let things get dull and boring.  And while routine might work in a day to day daycare setting almost 7yrs in I still have yet to make it work for our family.  There are simply so many more freedoms involved in being the mom of the children in my care than there were in being the care provider only, that allow for more spontaneous and less routine fun.

And so if there were something I feel passionate about and felt should absolutely be said it is this:

Regardless of who you were or thought you were before children and regardless of who you thought you would be after children, be who GOD made YOU to be.  Don't look at my blog posts and think somehow that you are less than.  Don't look at someone else's blog posts and think that you are less than.  Melting crayons does NOT make me better than anyone.  I only post the pictures I WANT people to see here on my blog.  The ones with my kids running around naked are never seen.  The ones where my children spilled water or milk all over the place and I freaked out yeah, that doesn't make a great blog post.  If YOU are spending time with God, and striving your very best to be the person, the wife, the mother, that He created YOU to be then you are an amazing person.  Life would be so boring if we were all the same.

Proof that I only share what I want the world to see.

moment I would never ordinarily share - my son, wearing underwear on his head.  I sure hope they were clean!
And so that apparently is what I wanted to say today.

I'm linking this post up here:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tot School Tuesday: Photo free edition

Please find it in your hearts to forgive the lack of personal pictures.  I dropped my camera at Colton's birthday party and it hasn't worked since.  So I have no pictures for our tot school post this week.

I do however have some thoughts on tot school I still would love to share.  There will be amazon links in this post.  They are NOT affiliate links.  I do not get anything if you click and purchase something or anything like that.  I'm not cool enough to figure that sort of thing out so these links are just "here go check out these awesome things and then buy or borrow them if you like them" links.

One thing Sierra and I did in her tot school this last week was read a fun "action" book.  Calling All Toddlers

Sierra LOVED this.  She loved doing the movements that the first poem in the book calls for.  To be honest we only did the first one in the book and I've only skimmed over the rest.  I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this here on the blog but prior to having children teaching 2yr olds on a daily basis was actually my paid job.  Shame nobody pays me for it now. lol  So in my three years of doing that I came across lots of great books that included movement to get the kids more involved in things.  Going on a Bear Hunt is great, Monkeys jumping on a bed is always a classic.

I love books too that allow me to point out shapes, colors, animal names and sounds.  This past week completely by coincidence I worked on animal names and sounds with Sierra.  She is now fantastic at mooing, meowing, and as always ruffing.  We practiced these sounds while reading What Shall We Do With The Boo-Hoo Baby?  This book was super cute and both Sierra and Sawyer LOVED it.  I'm a little tired of it now.  We also read Duck on a Bike by David Shannon (we love his books - No David! is practically my life with Sawyer and Sawyer's favorite book).
In the past I've shied away from reading with my toddlers.  Not because it wasn't enjoyable but because it wasn't enjoyable. lol  No, really, the fact of the matter is that having 2 and 3 and 4 kids clambering all over you, digging their elbows and knees into parts of your body you'd rather have left alone but are now covered in bruises just never did come off as enjoyable to me.  We're doing things a bit differently around here the past couple of weeks so school time with Sierra is school time with just her (and likewise with the boys).  One child sitting calmly on my lap or in front of me with nobody getting in their way of seeing the pictures makes for a MUCH more enjoyable reading aloud experience.  I think reading with our children is important.  I think it's even fun if you pick good books.

For my tot another favorite of her books are touch and feel books.  She's not terribly picky about brand name on the book but we have and love several of the Usborne books from the "That's not my..." series.  These things hold up well.  The truck one we have is from when Kayd was about 1.  So it's held up 5yrs and it is still in excellent shape.  

*I want to pause here and say that I am an independent consultant for Usborne books and if you click on that link there above it will take you directly to MY Usborne books sales site so any orders you would place through that link would earn me a commission.  Interest of full disclosure and all that blog jazz I see all over blog land (I'm so not a techy, really, I'm not!)

Sierra will often bring me one of those, I'll read it to her, she'll hold out her hand so I can "help" her feel the thing on the page.  It's very cute and makes me chuckle because she's very capable of just touching the things herself (and often does before holding her hand up to me).  When we finish the book she's happy to take it and "read" it to herself a second time.

So basically this past week of tot school consisted of reading.  We also colored.  She colors daily.  She loves to color and "write".  It's also very cute.

And just for the sake of adding at least one picture of the cutie here is what she studied during Colton's birthday party:

She discovered dandelions.  She looks so sweet sitting in this "field" of them playing and experimenting with them.

As with last week I am linking up to the linky party at Confessions of a Homeschooler so do go check out the other great tot posts.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Colton turned 5 last week.  So bittersweet.

as is family tradition - a hand shaped cake.  I still remember my hand shaped cake.

A very proud and happy 5yr old.

The train cake for the party the next day.

I have linked this post up with Mama to 4 blessings Wordless Wednesday linky party.  Head over and check out the other great wordless Wednesday posts.

Tot School Tuesday:

I'm running a week or so behind on blogging.  I am aware.  But life has been crazy busy.  My second born monkey turned 5 this past Friday and five in our house means a big, huge party.  I didn't have much time or energy to even think about blogging.  No worries though because I will certainly post all about the party and the crafts we made for it.

But today is Tuesday and so I will share a few things that our tot Princess has been up to lately.

 The do a dot markers are one of her favorite things to do.  I found these bingo markers at the dollar store and stocked up.  I put a towel bib on her because as we saw the last time I posted a tot school post she can sure make those things splatter.

 I put some pegs and peg bases (transportation shapes) in one of her bins.  She spent most of the time though trying to put the lid back on by herself.

 Not to be outdone by her brothers (regardless of the fact that writing is actually age appropriate for them and not for her) she had to have her own writing page.

 Then she played with her chunky shape puzzle.  I love these.  She has this shape one and a zoo animal one.  I love that the pieces are actually thick enough to play with standing up as well as in the puzzle.  

 Then we got out her lacing beads.  She didn't so much get the lacing part but she had a blast dumping the beads out into the bin from the jar they were in. 

And of course we read a book together.  She loves to read.  (We have actually read several books together in the past couple of weeks this was just the only one I snapped a pic of.)
 Stealing and eating a brothers apple.  She's such a doll.
 She LOVES to color, I don't think a single day goes by that she does not color.  She is very diligent about it and we actually found that she can make very nice circles.  Not bad for 22 months old.

 She also enjoys dumping the crayons out once in a while.  She's usually pretty good about helping clean them up though too.

 Playing with her new little shape and letter computer from Grandpa Richard.  Her favorite feature is the "space bar" which makes it play music that she bobs around to.

And she plays dress up.  My little Iron Girl.  She's so cute.

And those are just a few of the things that my little tot Sierra has been up to for the past two or so weeks.  There will most likely not be a tot post next week as my camera is broken.  Again.  So until I get it fixed or replaced the blog will be sorely lacking in picture posts.

I'm linking this post up with the tot school link up at Confessions of a Homeschooler so head over and check out the other great tot activities in blog land.  I'm also linking up with the Tot School linky party over at the fabulous 1+1+1=1 blog so go over there to see even more great tot school blog posts!  I actually got the inspiration to start tot school with Sierra from both of those blogs.