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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Learning to Read!

Carolyn has just passed the 4.5 year mark and is taking off with reading.  I was looking online tonight at You Can Read, thinking about whether or not to print out some of the work pages.  I've been struggling a little with how to work with her on reading, since she's quite stubborn and has her own agenda generally.  She also is very shy about trying new things and often won't try to sound out any words.  We do a ton of reading to both children, so I know she's getting exposure that way.  But she came over wondering what I was looking at, so I decided to see if she'd be interested.  We started with going over the 4 sight words in the first lesson.  Then we paged through towards the end and she started reading!  The only prompting I gave her was pointing to the words on the screen, and she read the first sentence!   It was absolutely amazing and we spent a few minutes exchanging hi-fives all around.  She then asked to keep going, and we went through the words in the first 8 lessons.  Of the 32 words we looked at, I'd say she has at least 25 of them down already.  It was so cool to watch.

I then took a look at Reading Eggs.  There is a 14 day trial that I think we'll do for the next couple weeks.  But I think it's below Carolyn's level in that she has ALL her letter sounds already.  Her pefectionist learning style just doesn't seem to fit very well.  But since there's a free trial, we'll take a look and see how she likes it.  I'm just so excited that she really is learning how to read!  I would bet she'll be reading fairly easily by the time she starts kindergarten, just like I was.  So awesome to watch her develop.

While I was looking at the site with Carolyn, James was literally trying to push her out of the way saying "I read too!"  It was really cute, although we certainly don't appreciate the pushing.  He wants to be big so bad.  I honestly don't remember what he should be working on at his age though.  He'll be 2.5 in another month.  We've been working mostly on colors and he'll ask what letters are printed on shirts/sweatshirts that we're wearing.  I probably should start working on identifying letters with him (maybe?).  He's so interested in learning everything that Carolyn is.

I'm so glad that we chose to keep Carolyn home this year.  Not only will it make moving that much easier, but the bond these kids have formed is awesome.  Carolyn often helps translate James' words, which eliminates some of his frustration.  And they learn to take turns and sort things out between each other more than they would elsewhere.  This is a relationship that they will have for life as well.  I'm excited to get them into a community where their learning will be pushed so they can keep developing at this warpspeed.  I think that going to the children's museum in Glenview is going to be awesome once we're closer.

House is Sold!

Another crazy week here for us.  Spent the beginning of the week making phone calls and payments to various places to ensure we were ready to close on Wednesday.  Had to get the closing check on the way to closing.  The actual meeting only took about 45 minutes and went smoothly.  I have the new owners' phone number and we will arrange to transfer keys just before Thanksgiving.  Three weeks from tomorrow we will begin moving into the new house!  We are all very excited.

My 94yo grandfather had surgery this past week.  It was hoped to be minor, routine surgery to remove his gallbladder.  Unfortunately, the infection was much progressed.  He is stable now, but we are not sure how things will proceed.  As siblings we are keeping each other informed and I hope to hear good reports from my oldest brothers as the week progresses.  Our prayers are of course with my grandfather and all those caring for him at this time.

Stepping on the scale this morning, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  I haven't been feeling well the last few days, but I have stuck with my workouts as planned.  I was quite pleasantly surprised to find a 2.5lb loss from last week.  This has pushed me over the 20lb mark and I am now down 21.6lbs from where I started!  While I still have some more weight to lose, this is a fantastic mark for me as I've always struggled to lose more than 5lbs in any one try.  So while this has taken longer than I would have hoped, it makes me very happy.  I put on sweatpants from last winter today and they are very baggy.  I have to roll the waist so they don't drag on the floor or sag in the butt.  The knees even fit a little strangely.  Definitely weird to see, but when I stop to think that I've lost over 20lbs and many inches, it makes sense.  I'm glad I kept all my old clothes as now I should start fitting into some of them.  I think part of the recent weight loss is that I am officially done nursing.  So my body is now accepting of losing the weight because it doesn't need to store it to feed any child.  It is possible that I will get into the 160's by Christmas, would be awesome.  If I can get down to 155 by next summer, I'll be ecstatic.  That's where I was at my lightest in college.  For now, I'll just keep focusing on filling my body with good protein, plenty of fat, and medium carbs.  Increasing the fat defiintely helps me stay full longer and, I think, is what encourages my body to shed the extra weight.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

7 years later

I lost my mom 7 years ago, at 10pm last night.  Some days it feels like it was just yesterday.  And others it feels like much longer.  So much has happened since I lost her - getting married, buying a house, having 2 kids, and we're now onto selling the first house and buying another.  My kids are lucky to have a special guardian angel, and so am I.  I know my mom is smiling down upon our family and I hope that she appreciates all that I'm trying to do for my children.  I know she would like the preschool projects and cooking activities I do with the kids.  She would love this new house and how awesome the kitchen will be to cook in but yet still be involved in everything going on around the house.  I will always miss being able to share my kids with her and they will miss having a second grandmother.  But we look through pictures and talk about her a lot.  To help the kids differentiate, she's "Grandma Angel".  Carolyn doesn't have so many bad dreams anymore, but when she did we talked about asking her Grandma Angel for a hug.  She would tell us in the morning about the hugs she got, and it sounded like she honestly felt like she'd been hugged.  James broken the candle I had bought for my mom that had also survived a few moves a couple weeks ago.  I had to try to explain to Carolyn that the candle could never be replaced - too hard for a 4yo to grasp.  But I'm looking forward to finding a spot in the new home to display some of my memories of my mother.  There are some built-in bookcases and I think I'll take a shelf or 2 for my memory book, pictures, and angels.  It's still hard to believe that I was only 22 when my mom passed away, way too young to lose such an important person.  But also makes me realize how important it is to value every day and try to be with my kids as much as possible.  I just truly never know how much longer I have with all of them. 

I wasn't feeling great today, so we watched Tumblebooks online.  Pretty cool program really and Carolyn probably could have sat there all afternoon listening.  Yesterday neither child napped much, but Carolyn got in a little phonics work and some math.  I'm figuring tomorrow will be a better day and we'll get to some preschool lessons.  Saturday we're heading to Lambs' Farm so there will likely be no naps.  Might also pull out the mixer and bake a cake tomorrow in my mom's memory.  I'm looking forward to all of my usual holiday baking pretty soon in the new house.  We found out today our mortgage is actually going to be less than what we're currently paying, so we should have some wiggle room to buying baking stuff, yay!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Phonics, Weight Loss, Potty Training

The end of this has gone pretty well.  We've been relaxing a bit and both kids have had some breakthroughs in various things.  I've even had a breakthrough with my weight loss as well.  Seeing 175.0 on the scale this morning means that I have lost 10% of my starting weight!  If you had asked me at the beginning of this calendar year if I imagined weighing this amount, I would have said no.  But it's great and I can't wait to see even more weight come off.  I've recommited to getting fit by 30 and got in all 3 workouts this week.  I definitely lost strength in the month I took off, but after a week I feel I'm right back to where I was.  So nice to start to feel physically strong again!

On Thursday Carolyn chose to work on her phonics worksheets.  She really sails through them and can easily identify the sounds of all letters.  The one sheet she struggled with involved a lowercase q.  She had no idea what it should look like, but recognized when I wrote it down for her.  She enjoyed working through the sheets and finding the different sounds.  Yesterday was a tough day as James wasn't feeling well, so no preschool work happened.  We discussed Carolyn's desire to read this morning though as she asked Jon to read her an article from his magazine.  And I told her that the place we're going will give her a prize and take her picture with the first book she learns how to read.  She proceeded to pull out a book and "read" it.  She does an awesome job of using the pictures to tell a story.  But we had to tell her that the library wants her to actually read the words.  I'm thinking I may pull out the sight words a little more often with her and maybe make sentences together.

After breakfast this morning, as Jon went to shower James walked to the bathroom and anounced he needed to go potty.  He's being doing this from time to time now, but I try not to pay much attention because it usually just leads to him playing in the bathroom.  But today he went into the bathroom, took off his feetie pjs and diaper, and went pee in his potty!  He sat there for a while and seemed to be working out what it feels like to actually pee.  I could see him working with the muscles to sort it out.  Of course we made a big deal and gave him high fives.  Carolyn even gave him a "prize".  I'm wondering if this will be his way of potty training, which is fine by me.  We will see what ends up happening, but it's very exciting since he's not yet 2.5.

This morning I deposited my savings bonds into our checking account.  It was a bittersweet moment, as this was one of our safety nets.  However, we're using the money for the downpayment on our forever home.  So how exciting is that!  I still have 1 left since I haven't gotten around to getting the death certificate for my great grandmother.  She'd be about 120 if she was alive today!  But with all of this house stuff, we have had that doing things the right way does have its rewards.  Jon has 1 of his credit scores over 800, the other two very high 700.  All 3 of my credit scores are over 800!  Because of this, we qualify for some breaks with our mortgage including a super low rate and a lower down payment.  We will continue to be good stewards of what God has blessed us with and I pray that we will be able to hand down our financial knowledge as well as a good start to our children.  Because of the fantastic start we have, we will have no mortgage by the time we're 60 and we should be able to save amply for our retirement and the kids' college.  God is definitely a great provider.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Painting Pumpkins, Leaf Rubbings

Yesterday was creativity day in our house.  We had nowhere to go, but 2 very energetic children.  So after breakfast and listening to both kids begging to go outside, we got dressed and I threw some old tshirts on them for painting.  We took the pie pumpkins they got at the pumkin farm on Sunday and I brought out their sidewalk paint.  I figured that way when they missed and inevitably painted on the driveway, it would just wash away.  They had fun painting, but it was fairly cold out so they complained about that as well.  Afterwards they rode their bikes until they were too cold.  We went into the basement and they played while I cleaned out the toy box.  Designated some things for donation and others for garbage.  Created some extra space in there for the move!

In the afternoon Carolyn fell off her bike.  After cleaning up a scrape and having snack, she did venture back outside.  It was quite windy so I suggested they gather some leaves to make an art project.  They loved this idea and ran around a bit finding leaves.  We brought them inside and sandwhiched them between 2 pieces of paper and then did rubbings.  They turned out as though you would expect from a 2 and 4 year old.  But they loved it, and Carolyn added extra things to her drawing.  She was very proud and told Jon about it when he came home.  Overall, a great crafty day in our house.

The pumpkin didn't turn out so well, as once the paint dried it flaked off.  That just means we might be able to paint them again.  Carolyn is really hoping to make a Jack O Lantern this year, so we will head to our usual family pumpkin farm to pick up a bigger pumpkin.  The kids tried to push the plastic face pieces we have into their pumpkins, but they were just too hard.

Our buyers have their financing!  After all the stress induced by our realtor, everything is good.  We have a letter confirming the financing pending paperwork we submitted yesterday and the typical employment verification 10 days prior to closing.  We go tonight to hand in paperwork to our lender for our purchase.  We printed everything last night and father W2, 1099, and paycheck stubs.  Looking forward to getting this part over with.  We will be moved in by Thanksgiving and can fully make this home ours.  No more saving random amounts of money for a new down payment - just for repairs.  No more repairing/replacing things we know will really only benefit new owners.  No more living the "when we get to..." part of life.  Just loving every minute of a great town in a great area.  Our sellers want to move the closing date up to 11/16 so they have the weekend to move out, I expect to okay that with Fred today.  This will also give us an extra day to go check out the house empty as well.  So excited to move!

I'm wondering this morning where my kids are.  It's 7:30 and neither one is awake.  Enjoying the morning calm though before what will be a very busy day.  I'm ready for snuggles though!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Letting Go

I've had a realization over the weekend that my kids don't need me as much anymore.  Yes, they're only 2 and 4 and they still need me quite a bit.  James often won't let Jon get him out of his crib in the morning.  And when he gets hurt generally only a hug from Mom will do.  When Carolyn fell yesterday she turned to me for comfort instead of the others around.  But they're getting older and I don't need to be around all the time.  I've been taking on more tutoring clients lately, which takes me away from the house.  At $50/hr, it's kind of hard to say no.  Plus I love helping high school students understand their work better and know they appreciate the help.  And so I've realized I'm not as needed.

I've also realized that everyone benefits from me being gone at times.  Jon needs alone time with the kids.  They are just very different people when only one of us is home.  And he needs time with them that isn't at church or the store.  He's enjoying that time as he gets it as well.  Plus I seem to get extra hugs and snuggles when I get home.  Time away from me at this age seems to allow the kids time to miss me.  That sounds weird, but it is true.  Of course, knowing that I'm providing for our family's financial security and not out spending money makes it much easier to go.  Yet I still struggle with some sort of mommy guilt.

As the kids have grown up I've been worried I would miss some major milestone by being gone a short time.  Of course, as they get older the major milestones are fewer and farther between.  I was home for Carolyn learning to ride a bike.  I get to work with her on writing her letters and numbers, memorizing our phone number and address (that will change in 6 weeks).  I will get to work with James on potty training.  Right now I really, truly get the best of both worlds.  So in the last few days I've begun to make a peace of being gone a little more often.  I am very blessed to have a wonderful husband that is a terrific daddy to my children.  And it's time to let them have more time without mom nearby, so that we can grow as a family. 

I'm looking forward to what the next couple years bring us in our new home before anyone is in school full time.  And who knows, there always is a chance that we'll still be homeschooling because that's what the kids need.  For now, I'm going to look forward to tomorrow and a chance to just enjoy my kids with nowhere to go.  That's going to be nice.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Math and self-esteem

Today we worked on a few different math concepts.  Carolyn took a great nap and was ready to go when she woke up.  We pulled out her folder and she was excited to see the math worksheets I printed earlier today.  We started with a counting sheet (1-20).  She filled in the numbers that were missing from the boxes.  We're still working on how to write some of the numbers, so after she told me what was next I did some dash marks for her to trace.  Then she did a color by number.  She needs to work on coloring in shorter strokes, but I also think we need to sharpen her crayons a little.  It can be hard to make small marks with dull crayons.  She loved her ice cream cone picture when she was done though.   Then we did a patterns sheet.  There were 3 lines with shapes and she had to fill in what came next.  She did awesome, just asked for help drawing a triangle.  So after she drew one line, I dashed the two others for her to trace.  My little perfectionist.  Then she did another color by number, with smaller spaces.  A little trouble staying in the lines, but she's 4.  Next we did some work on reading a clock.  I know this can be a very hard skill.  But she was able to determine the hour and whether it was on the hour of half hour with slight prompting.  She's been interested in clocks a bit lately, so I thought this was a great opportunity.  She seemed to enjoy it. I wrote the numbers in for her since I wanted her to be able to focus on the clock aspect.  We finished up with working on addition.  She is starting to memorize some of the problems, or she's super fast at counting up the objects.  Not sure which, but 1+2=3 and 2+2=4 came out super fast.  She had to count for 3+4=7 and 1+3=4.  But she was liking these as well.  Such a smart little girl! 

We spend a lot of time telling our kids how great they are and encouraging them whenever they do something well.  We give out a lot of hi-fives and of course tons of hugs.  Our kids also often hear from strangers about how well behaved they are.  They hear this just yesterday from both of the guys here to give moving estimates.  It is nice for them to hear this affirmation from strangers, since we know it's genuine.  But it is great to see when the kids affirm we are building up their self esteem.  I was lucky enough to have such an experience today with Carolyn.  As we were doing the worksheet she noticed the name line at the top.  Here's the conversation that took place:

C:  Is that the name line?
Me:  Yes, but since we're at home you don't have to fill it out.  When you go to school you'll need to.
C: Why?
Me:  So everyone can know that it's your work.
C:  But won't they know just because it's awesome?
Me:  (Smiling)  All the kids will do awesome work, so you need to identify it was yours.
C:  But they'll know it's mine because it will be more awesome.
Me:  (Stifling a giggle at the cuteness)  Just in case they don't, you'll need to write your name.

Does she really think she's better than everyone else?  I don't think so.  But it's great to see that she thinks she does awesome work and that she believes her work is special because she does it.  She's a bit of a perfectionist so I battle with trying to remind her that making mistakes is okay.  I'll work on getting her comfortable academically this year so that she can adapt to a school environment where the teacher won't give her dashed lines for new letters/numbers.  And hopefully with experiencing more new things at home she'll realize it's okay to make mistakes.  For now, it's great to see how excited she gets about doing her "schoolwork" and to see her learning.

I, J and starting to pack

Carolyn continues to be really enjoying working on her letters.  She does a perfect job tracing and finding the letters.  And the craft projects keep her wanting to do more.  The second half of this week we did Itsy Bitsy Spider and Jack and Jill.  She got to make a spider and drew a picture of Jack and Jill.  I love her imagination and her pictures of people actually look like people!  We haven't done much else because she's been so into the letters.  Although yesterday we did bake brownies and the kids helped stirring the batter for that.  They love to cook.  Once we're in the new house it will be awesome to work together at the new counter.  We should all be able to stand around it and reach everything.  Much better than the cramped counter space we have now.  I'm going to pull out the recipes from the class my mom taught to preschoolers and give them a try!  I spent part of this morning working on new materials for Carolyn's preschool.  I printed out come math pages, phonics pages, and some more books to work on sight words.  I also put together some new projects so we're good through the letter P.  There's a chance I won't have to put anything new together next week!

I got started with sorting on Thursday and started packing today.  I have a mountain of things to donate and the pile is only growing.  It will be nice to not have to move a large portion of the things we have.  I need to take pictures of some things and try to sell them.  Anyone looking for an extra TV or TV stand?  We should be good with just 2 TVs for a while, until the kids are older and the living room becomes another hang out area instead of toy room.  Plus there still some toys I am thinking we won't take with - like the stride to ride lion.  It's hard to get rid of because both kids LOVED it, but they are too big for it now.  So in search of a new home for it.  It feels good to get started with packing, even if only 4-5 boxes are done.  I also unpacked 1 container into the dresser in the basement.  A few less boxes to move if we pack up the dresser and nightstand that are down there.  I can't decide whether to take James' dresser or not.  We'll be getting a different one for him from Jon's parents (it was his as a boy) and it's coming apart.  But we'll have to pack all the clothes if we don't move it.  We'll see how things are looking I guess.

Feeling pretty good about the move though, with about 6 weeks until closing.  I plan to pack a little more each week so that come a week or two before moving day we'll just have the daily use things left to pack.  And I figure we'll live for a day or two using paper plates so those can be packed up.  Ready to get to Glenview!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

G, H, potions, and paint

We've had an exciting week so far!  Since I had time to prepare crafts for Carolyn over the weekend, she's taken advantage of that.  Yesterday she completed both G and H - Gregory Gibbs and Humpty Dumpty.  She enjoyed the poems and creating the projects.  After the 2 projects she did some "worksheets" that she found.  I need to print some more of those this weekend because she was asking about them.  She started on I today with the tracing and we started on the rhyming but she was struggling.  James was up, so we moved on. 

We did some science today, stolen from another blog.  We took a bunch of cups and filled them with water and vinegar, varying amounts of each.  Some had all water and one had all vinegar.  We put food coloring into each cup.  Then took baking soda and I spooned a little into each cup.  The first one bubbled up and over, so they thought it was super cool.  We then went through the rest of the cups one by one and talked about how much vinegar was in each cup.  James thought it was great fun to watch, Carolyn was able to talk about what she was seeing - potions!  Once we'd gone through them, I handed over the baking soda and spoons for them to play.  They put the rest of the baking soda in and then I said they could mix cups.  As they were playing with that I put together some our homemade sidewalk paint (water, cornstarch, food coloring).  They ended up mixing everything together towards the end.  But they had a lot of fun and I like to think they're learning about sizes as they pour water between cups. 

Tomorrow Carolyn will go to story hour and learn some more Spanish.  She's really enjoying the class and this will be something we truly miss when we move.  But she's definitely learned some words in Spanish, which I think is great!  In the afternoon we'll finish I and Itsy Bitsy Spider with a spider craft.  I'm also thinking we'll do some leaf rubbing some day this week.