Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tot School

Actual tot school has really been few and far between these last couple of weeks! We have had lots of Life School, at camp and at home, but not as many formal learning activities planned out! I have been focusing almost ALL of my 'free' time on planning for this fall, and I am getting SO excited about what I have planned - I'll share more about that at the end of this post!

So...what have we been learning about? How about septic tanks? We got to watch a big truck with a crane take an extra septic tank out of our yard one morning, so that was exciting.

I thought it was pretty cool, too - that thing must be really heavy!

Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie Beth came for a visit, and they did LOTS of reading! They brought us the book Tikki Tikki Tembo, which was a favorite of mine, and I love reading it to Zachary - he can say the whole name by himself now - so cute! :) Here's Grandpa reading to Z. :)

They also brought him a little golf set of his own, which he asks to play with every day, rain or shine. :)
We did make a craft this week - well, I should say I made a craft! Z's part was to glue the windows on, but he got so excited about driving his cars into the garage door I made on this building (made out of a quart-size milk carton) that he just wanted to skip the craft and play with the building. So we did. So it is windowless. It has a regular door on the other side, but that picture didn't turn out.

We also played the spoon game this week - but we spent more time using the spoons to eat imaginary ice cream than actually matching them with anything! Z has been loving using his tool sets this week, so we talked about hammering & using a screwdriver, and I taught him how to use the claw end of his plastic hammer. :)

Z also amused himself by taking pictures of himself. When I caught him with the camera, he had taken 20 pictures, all some variation of this:

One day, he decided that he had to wear his camo winter coat with his camo shorts. So here's a picture of that:

My Two Tots

Okay, so there's only one tot in this picture, but do you see what Natalie is so happily playing with? I was working on something for Z's preschool, probably cutting something out, and I asked him to help Sissy feel better. I turned around at her squeals of delight, and saw what he had given her & just had to take a picture! It's Z's favorite tractor- Johnny Tractor!

Z also loves to 'help' Natalie jump in her Johnny Jump-up! :) As you can see, she doesn't mind!

My Tiny Tot

Natalie is seven months old now - wow! She is such a big girl, and so sweet! She has had a cold this weekend, sadly, but still has smiles for everybody! :) She does occasionally cry, though (and isn't it cute???? Love this pouty face!).

She is eating jarred baby food like a champ, and starting to try different foods in her Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder - she has tried frozen banana (pictured), watermelon, and a strawberry fruit popsicle. She liked the popsicle the best, and hated the watermelon! :)

Tot School Planning

So, our curriculum this year is 28 weeks - 26 weeks with a letter assigned to each week, and 2 weeks of review. I originally thought it was going to be ALL about the letters, and letter -based activities. And then I started planning my A-Z Bible verses for each week. And I got SO excited about them, that I'm actually going to be focusing on my Bible verse, corresponding song, and Bible story for each week, with a few other letter, number, color, and shape activities thrown in.

I did make a file of my A-Z Bible verses that I will print and use in my daily calendar time - it is a Word file, and you can download it here for free if you want to! (Just click on the word here to go to the download.) I also have the lyrics for the corresponding songs typed up, and if you want, you can download them here, but a lot of the songs come from this CD set, so if you don't have that CD, many of the songs may not make sense. The songs are either the actual memory verse set to music, or a concept that fits in with the verse. I am working on picking out a Bible story or passage to study each week with Z that go along with the verse and song, and really enjoying making the Bible study the center of our curriculum! After all, that is the most important thing for him to learn, right?

Here is a picture of my planning notebook - isn't it cute and exciting? So organized... we'll see how long that lasts.... these pocket inserts have a pocket on each side, and I have one pocket for each letter, with the activities tucked inside. As far as our other activities go, we will definitely be doing these letter collages and these playdough mats each week, along with these active exercise cards. I printed out the Dolch sight word cards for primer and pre-primer as well, and I'm looking forward to starting those on an as-we-go-along basis this fall.

I have about a bazillion more little pieces to laminate and cut, so I will share those as I get them finished. :) But here is one game that I do have finished, and I'm looking forward to playing this in church with Zachary next Sunday morning. This is a file folder game called Paintbrush Color Matching, and I got the idea and the printables here.

I hope to soon sit down and write a post soon about all the blogs I get my ideas from, and I will share the rest of my planning as I go - I am spending a ton of time on this right now, but it is SO fun and exciting!!! I am really getting addicted to all of the planning, and I'm definitely using my elementary education degree! :)

To see what others are doing for Tot School this week, head on over to 1+1+1=1!

Good Morning

I just realized I haven't blogged in a sweet forever, so I thought I would remedy that by pouring out my thoughts for a couple minutes this morning.

Yes, it's Sunday morning, but I'm not at church. :( Natalie has a cold, so I don't want to put her in the nursery, and I want her to get a good nap. We plan to go tonight and I will wear her and walk in the back of the evening service, since it's more informal (Hubby preaches!) :)

About 4:30 last night, I was texting with a friend and she mentioned that there was a tornado headed our way. We live in a trailer. I was concerned. I told Hubby, who checked the weather, and packed us all up, and we went to camp, and hung out in the downstairs hallway for a few minutes with the entire staff - we sang Mighty to Save, which was amazing. I guess there was a tornado about 10 miles from camp, and several of them were spotted in our area! Our friends who volunteer at the camp and live about 5 miles away had very strong winds and lots of trees down and a neighbor's barn torn up - scary stuff! But we were all safe.

The power was out for 7 hours last night. From 6 pm to 1 am. We all sleep with fans. Hubby was gone to a staff outing. It was not a fun 7 hours. Natalie refused to nap after we got home from our camp adventure, even though she was super-tired, and sick. So we switched to bath time (by candlelight), and then I put Z to bed - he kept asking me over and over to turn his fan on, and could not understand why I wouldn't! After I fed Natalie and put her down, I went outside and read a magazine on the porch swing for 45 minutes while they fell asleep, and came in at 8:45 and they slept soundly until the power came back on at 1 am. Actually Z didn't even wake up at 1, but Natalie did, and smiled at me, and went right back to sleep.

Both kids slept till 8 this morning - Natalie till 8:30! That is a rare treat from Zachary, but pretty normal for Natalie. She is 7 months old now! Precious girl - she is such a sweetie, always smiling & chattering, even when she's sick! She loves to say "ba!" at random intervals. :) She loves her baby food, and I've started giving her things like frozen banana, watermelon, and even a piece of a strawberry juice popsicle in her Fresh Food Feeder. She eats those little puff cereal things by Gerber, but she can't figure out how to get them in her mouth by herself - she picks them up in her fist, but then she can't get them from there to her mouth & she gets mad - it's so funny. :) She's still not crawling, but she did scoot herself backwards the other day, and she is trying very hard to get up on her knees & move! :)

Zachary is so funny - he says the most hilarious things & just picks up on everything. Hmmm...what has he said lately? He's really into saying, "Dis is my favorite _____." especially if he wants me to do something for him - for example, "Dis is my favorite book, Mama. Will you read dis to me? It's my favorite." :) He still loves reading books & we read a lot. Some friends at camp taught him to say, "Get it? Got it. Good." so he says that a lot, and asks me if I get it sometimes. :) At lunch the other day, a camper came over to admire my kiddos, and while she was looking at Natalie, Z said, "Natalie is 7 months old", so I thought that was pretty cute.

My parents and sister came for a visit, and it was really nice to see them. We had a good time watching the kids play, and hanging out. They bought Z a little golf set, which he loves. :) And lots of cute clothes, of course. And a Melissa & Doug block puzzle that has 6 puzzles in one - LOVE it! :)

I have been working a LOT on Tot school planning & making Tot School stuff for the fall, so I hope to get a post up for Tot School today or tomorrow! I've also been working at camp some still, and tomorrow is my LAST youth camp registration (at least for this year). Looking forward to having that off of my shoulders!

Well, sick Natalie is fussing, so I'd better go see what she needs - she's only been in bed for 40 minutes - yikes! :( Hope to update again soon! :)

Edited To Add: The whole reason I came to write this post!!! A friend of mine texted me this morning - she is between 7 and 11 weeks pregnant, and she is bleeding this morning & headed to the ER with her husband! I don't want to share any details, but if you think of my friend, please pray for her!!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

An Interview With...Moi! :)

Over on my friend Erin's blog, I saw a game where she had another reader submit five questions to her for an "interview" type of post. I thought it would be fun to do, so Erin sent me five questions to answer on my blog! If any of you would like to participate, you can see the "rules of the game" at the bottom of this post.

1. If you could acquire any talent that you lack, what would it be and why?
Hmmm...probably a talent for speed-cleaning! :) No, really, I would actually LOVE to be a good photographer! I love to take pictures of my kids, and I love the editing part, but when I get my photos to my computer, I'm like, "Oh, what was I thinking? The dirty laundry is right behind Natalie's cute head, and you can see that every toy we own is on the floor -crop that out!"....etc. :) So, to be a good photographer, that would be the talent I would choose. :)

2. What is the most rewarding part of being a mom?
This was a hard question for me, because with my kids being so young, I'm in the thick of the discipline and hard work, and not necessarily seeing a ton of rewards right now, but occasionally when Z actually stops & thinks & then chooses to obey instead of disobeying, that feels pretty amazing. And I don't mean that being a mom isn't rewarding in this stage, I just think that the biggest rewards of good, consistent parenting when your children are toddlers will probably show up later rather than sooner. I also love hearing my son speak truth about God, and speak of/to God lovingly - it is so awesome to hear his little voice saying things like, "Jesus is God. God is Jesus' Daddy. Jesus' Daddy made the sunshine. Jesus died on the cwoss for that we can go to Heaven with Him. We love God." Those are the little gems that shine when I sit down after bedtime & look back over my days. :)

3. If you weren’t married with kids, what would be your dream job?
This is so hard, because I've always, always wanted to just stay home with my kids...I chose teaching as my major so I could work with kids, and I loved teaching preschool. So probably teaching preschool...but I also REALLY enjoyed working in the office at camp - I love typing & office work, and I love working with people. I don't know. I think my true and totally unrealistic 'dream' job would be an ice-cream tester for Perry's ice cream. Mmmmmmm. :) Actually, I'm not picky, I'd test ice cream for any old company! :)

4. What is the best part of living at camp for your family?
Wow, I think there are just so many great parts - this summer I am really starting to see how I can minister to the staff & campers just by being here with my kids & by sharing my kids with them (and through prayer), and also it is amazing to see how the staff especially ministers to my family, and is such a blessing to me. I think it's great that my children are able to interact with all ages of people, and I am thankful that I get to be a stay-at-home mom, but at the same time be involved in ministry on a daily basis! Also, if you want to learn to be more flexible, go work at a camp - you HAVE to become more flexible each day that you work at camp!!! :)

5. What is the greatest sound in the world?
This question is the easiest - the sound of my kids laughing, especially when they're playing together and making each other laugh - so sweet!!! There is just something therapeutic about children's laughter! :)

Want to play along???
1 - Leave a comment with your blog URL, saying you want to be interviewed.
2 - I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.
3 - You'll update your blog with my five questions, and your five answers.
4 - You'll include this explanation.
5 - You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tot School (sort of)

Z is 31 months old!

Sooooo...Tot it really that time again already? Well, I don't have much in the way of pictures to post this week - sorry! :( My camera was out of batteries part of the week, and we were just super busy around the house and at camp this week!

I do have one picture to share that represents our family mealtimes at camp:

That is my face on the right side of the picture in the blue shirt. Notice that one person is taking our picture, one person (the speaker's wife from this week, SWEET lady!) is talking to Natalie (who is focused on the picture being taken), and one person (one of our awesome staffers, who babysits my kids on a regular basis) is sitting by and talking to Z. This is pretty much representative of how a camp mealtime goes - we love being surrounded by our friends, and though parenting 'in a bubble' can be difficult (and embarrassing!) at times, it is always a blessing to have friends who are willing to help out - so many of our staff friends are constantly offering to hold my kids so that I can get food for Z and myself, or hold Natalie so that I can finish my meal when she's fussy! I think being surrounded by friends of all ages is an excellent atmosphere for my children to grow up in - they are already learning how to interact socially with all ages and all kinds of people, not just their own peer group.

So. This week was family camp, and we spent time at camp, eating meals, swimming, going on a wagon ride, and, of course, playing on the playground. It was a beautiful (HOT!) week, so we were outside quite a bit. We did manage to squeeze in a few inside activities such as writing on a wipe-off board, playing Play-Doh with cookie cutters and a rolling pin, and a fun activity called The Tupperware Matchup. I wanted to see if I had a bunch of useless Tupperware lids in my drawer, so we got out all my plastic containers & matched them up with the lids. Then I shut my packrat side in a closet, and threw away the lids that didn't have matches. :) (but what if I someday FIND the container and then I don't have the lid, my packrat side is screaming...) :) Anyway...Z had fun with this - he liked that the Rubbermaid containers had numbers that matched on the lid and container, and he did a really good job matching them up! It was fun. :) He also sat in the drawer when it was empty. :) This was a fun and useful learning activity! :)

We also managed to find time to do one craft this week - I saw this craft in Mom Sense Magazine, the MOPS magazine that comes with your MOPS membership. This turtle is made of a paper (well, foam, really) bowl, which we sponge painted blue and green on. The directions called for blue and green tissue paper, but I could only find white and pink in my closet. So we changed the craft up. After we let the bowl dry, we taped on the turtle's head, tail, and legs, made of green construction paper, and then glued on wiggle eyes- a must for any animal craft! :) Z loves him, though I did not anticipate the turtle's flimsiness - the first day Z played with him, he got stepped on and crushed. :( I taped him back together, but he is cracked. :( Poor turtle.

My Tiny Tot

No pictures of the two together this week, but they are still pretty cute. :) Natalie can roll around the room now, and today as Z was eating lunch in his booster seat on the living room floor, she rolled over by his tray and tried to grab his pizza. He kept saying, "No, Nallie, can't have my supper! Mama, Nallie can't have my supper!" :) Natalie had a 6-month dr. appt. this week, and she weighed 17 lbs 6 oz! She is at the 60th percentile for height and weight, so just about perfect. :) She is such a happy girl, and is sleeping well for me. :) I FINALLY managed to get a little clippie bow to stay in her little tufty hairs this week for the FIRST time - so here is a picture of that momentous occasion! :)

The biggest thing I did for Tot School this week was to work on my planning for the fall - I have planned out my school 'schedule' - we are doing 28 weeks, with 26 weeks that are assigned a letter focus, and then the last two weeks will be review. This week I assigned a memory verse for each week, that has something to do with the letter of the week, and I am working on assigning a song for each week, to go along with the verse. When I am finished, I will share my list, in case anyone else wants to use it! I also made a list of all of the teaching tools that I won, and all of the teaching tools that I would like to make in order to use for this fall's school - and, um, the list of printables that I would like to make? Is TWENTY-FIVE things long! I may have to revise that... :) Anyway, so the next step is to start working on the printables, so that I'll know what I have available and can use for my curriculum. Then I'll plan what activities to do on each day and hopefully have all of my planning done before we move (hopefully late August/early September - to a different house here on the camp, don't worry, we're not leaving!) :)

I'll close with a totally random picture of Z in Natalie's laundry basket! :)

To see what others are doing for Tot School this week, head on over to 1+1+1=1!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Please Pray With Me

I am finally able to share a prayer request that has been on my mind and heart for a few weeks now, but has just been made public. Please pray for my husband's cousin, Cory - he went through a battle with cancer in 2007 and 2008, as a young, newly married man. He was pronounced clean, and had a year or so without any symptoms, and we all rejoiced.

Unfortunately, he has been diagnosed with cancer again. He has had back pain for a while, and was finally diagnosed with cancer on June 18th. He is now on chemo and waiting for his cancer to go down enough that he can have a stem cell transplant. Cory has also been having occasional seizures, which may be related to the cancer or the medication he is on. For more details on how to pray for Cory and his family, you can visit them at their CaringBridge site.

I can't imagine being a young married couple and dealing with cancer as a part of your everyday life, can you? Cory and his wife Callie have been on my heart and in my prayers so much lately - I am so thankful that they are allowing God to be glorified during this difficult trial - what an amazing example to me and my little trials!


I also wanted to ask you to continue to pray for Sophia. She is still receiving chemotherapy, and it makes her very sick. As you can imagine, her parents are having a difficult time watching their sweet baby daughter go through this disease, as well as the way she suffers from the chemo. You can read their Caring Bridge updates here.

I am so thankful that I have a place where I know that when I post something like this, there will be people I have never met (and people that I have!) praying around the country for my family and friends - the internet is such a blessing, isn't it?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tot School

Tot School was fun this week - we definitely had a lot of Life School - I worked Monday and Tuesday mornings, so the kids stayed with a staffer then. We went up to camp every day (except Saturday and Sunday) for lunch and dinner, and played on the playground a few times. Senior high week was a success - we had the most campers we’ve had in any year on record (we have records back to 1990) and I think everyone had a great time!

One day last week, they were working on our road, using a scraper to scrape up the weeds and dirt on the side of the road, and a loader to scoop up the dirt and put it in a dump truck, so we stood outside and watched that for a while. Z especially liked the scraper, because there is a toy Tonka scraper up in the camp sandbox that he likes to play with, so he made the connection there.

We also did several learning activities, including chalk, play-doh, coloring, bath letters and numbers, another color scavenger hunt (purple, yellow, and orange this time) and I Spy. I got four well-worn I Spy books at the thrift store (for free!) a few weeks ago, taped them all back together with packing tape, and decided to try them with Z - he LOVES looking for things in them, and there is just so much to look at in those books! They are a big hit! Eventually, we'll have to invest in some that aren't held together with tape! :)

We also started the adventure of having Z sit in the church service with us, since our church has given the PreK church staff a break during the months of July and August - it went alright, he never really yelled or got too upset, but he wasn’t overly quiet either. We sat in the back row, played I Spy, read books quietly, played with flash cards, and Z played with a small foam alphabet puzzle in the floor by his seat. I have been planning to try to help him learn to sit, but just haven’t found the time, so I was glad it went so well!

To start out the pictures, here is a shot of Z in his 'Coat of Many Colors'. It is made of butcher paper and colored with crayons, taped down the sides - Z made this at a church where Hubby spoke during their Sunday school class. I thought it was cute, so I thought I'd share! :)

We made 'fireworks' out of coffee filters this week, to celebrate Independence Day. I had this craft all planned, and then I realized that Z did not know what fireworks were, since he's never been to them! So we had to watch a YouTube video of a fireworks display before we made our fireworks! :) Didn't get any pics of the process, but we basically colored on coffee filters with markers, and then cut 'fringies' - Z's word - around the edges so they looked like fireworks. Here they are on display in our living room:

I did get time to make a simple alphabet matching game for Z this week, using some white and some clear plastic spoons. I found the idea here. This game is super affordable (about $4 for all the spoons, and I have some left over in case one breaks...or gets bitten in two...more on that later...), and really easy and quick to make - I just wrote each letter of the alphabet on each set of spoons - one set lowercase, and one set uppercase. Then we matched them to our alphabet flash cards - to make it more difficult for an older preschooler, you could put out cards with just pictures on them, and have them match the spoons to the picture that starts with that letter, or just match the two sets of spoons to each other!

He had fun with the matching for about three minutes, and then he just had fun playing with the spoons. We pretended to eat ice cream (thus the spoon that got bit in half), and threw them around, and threw the cards around, and matched the spoon to the wrong was fun. :)

Finally, Z took a picture of the spoons for me - isn't he kind? :) Also, his feet, and the camera lens cap & strap. :)

Z is really into cutting lately!!! He loves to cut anything at all, and is getting better at using only one hand. He spent about ten minutes cutting a magazine in church, until he said his hand hurt, and he stopped. Here he is cutting a cardboard piece from a pop box.

He was using this measuring tape to measure around the house - everything is either 'two ounches' or 'three ounches' long. :)

And playing golf on the porch with an old golf club of Daddy's and a ping-pong ball. :)

I love this picture because he's trying so hard!!! :)
wearing Daddy's tennis shoes and of course, when you wear TENNIS shoes, you play tennis. So he has Daddy's tennis racket and tennis balls. :)

My Two Tots

Natalie was having so much fun watching Zachary play with his puzzle this week - she kept reaching out for the pieces and just loved watching him fish! She seems to be growing up SO fast, I think because she watches her big brother and learns so much from him! :)

My Tiny Tot

She is just growing up before our eyes!!! Natalie is six months old now, and eating all kinds of baby food - she loves it! Anytime I get a spoon for anything, her food, my own food, she gets all excited & bounces around because she thinks she's getting fed! :) She loves her exersaucer, and she has figured out that if she's in the right position, she can look at herself in the oven door like a mirror! :)

She can sit up for about ten minutes, in the Boppy, without any help!
And she can roll over, and over, and over, across the room - she chewed up her first book this week - sadness!!! I keep telling Z that we're going to have to start being careful about what we leave laying around! But she's pretty happy, so I think we'll keep her. :)

We had such a great week, and really enjoyed our times together! I am working on planning for the fall, I'm going to try to do a letter of the week theme, with monthly unit studies, so I've been working on that - I'm almost to the part where I plan each week in an excel file, and I'm getting super excited about that part! :) I'm trying not to let myself stress out about it, too, and reminding myself, "This IS still tot school - he's only turning 3 this year, he doesn't have to learn everything and do every fun activity I see THIS year!!!" :)

To see what others did for Tot School this week, head on over to 1+1+1=1!