Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tot School - Letter F

We were able to squeeze in the letter F last week, even in the midst of all the work we've been doing up at our new house! I didn't take a lot of pictures, I've been trying to just enjoy the time one-on-one with Z, especially when the rest of life is so busy, but I did take a few just to show what we did (and so that I could remember....) :)

No picture of our morning board this week - sorry! But our verse was Matthew 4:19 - 'Follow me', Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.' And our song was Fishers of Men. (click on the title for lyrics). Z did a good job with his verse this week, and learned the song well, and he got a few new sight words on the wall! He is doing an awesome job starting to read his sight words in books, so that is really fun!

We introduced the letter F this week with our consonant cards. We started with F, and then Z matched up each object with the letter it started with - he did a great job! :)

He's proud of himself! :)

We did a farm maze (his first maze), and he did a great job of getting the bunny to his food! :)

Natalie had to come check out what we were working on!

We used our heart shape viewer this week, which he always enjoys.

Is Natalie's head a heart? Not really.

She did not appreciate this very much.

We did find some hearts in Mommy's bedroom!

We did a crayon relief painting - here is the drawing I drew on a piece of paper with a white crayon:

And we painted over it with orange tempera paint to find the message underneath - this didn't work too well - should I use a different kind of paper? I tried to write really hard with the white crayon - any tips???

Our letter collage this week was fingerprints. We used a couple of Mommy's ink pads to stamp our fingerprints on our F.


Zachary played with his Aqua Doodle mat.

We used wipe-off markers to trace on our playdough mat.

We made a farm animal 'parade' - he had to match up the animal halves to see what animal came next, then we taped it together. He's really enjoyed playing with this since we made it! This is from a little workbook I got at the thrift store (same book the maze above was in).

We had our first 'snow' last week- just a fourth of an inch, but snow nonetheless! :) Z & I went outside to check it out at 7 am! :)

Z has been 'helping' some as we've been working on our new house - here he is covering his ears from the sound of the loud saw cutting out part of our kitchen wall - good thing Daddy's there to hold him! :)
He also 'helped' with painting later that day when Mommy and Daddy weren't paying close enough attention...good thing this was the right paint for this wall, and the flooring's all being torn out!!! :) I did have him help me paint some Kilz primer on another wall, too, he thought that was really fun. :)

My Tiny Tot

Natalie is standing up with less and less assistance, here she is trying to work the microwave! She can stand up with just one hand barely holding on now, but she doesn't really try to walk much yet!
She likes to get our LeapFrog Fridge Phonics off the fridge & press the buttons so it sings the ABC song. :)

Natalie turned ten months this week, and is really curious & into everything, so we started some early Tot School activities!

We played with our Melissa & Doug musical instruments sound puzzle, and she liked hearing all the little songs it plays when you put the instruments in. :)


We also played with our stacking cups (from IKEA), she liked when I would stack a couple of them up, and then she would knock them down. :)


Tot School is so fun - I'm so thankful for the opportunity to play with my kids at home! :) The most awesome thing that happened this week, was that I got to share the gospel with Zachary! I am always talking about how Jesus died on the cross for us, and thanking Him for it in my prayers, etc. I hadn't introduced the topic of hell until it came up in a Bible story we were reading, so then we talked about it. Then one evening at supper, he said, "Can we go to Heaven, and not to Hell?" and I said, "Yes! We can, when we trust Jesus to be our Savior!" He doesn't fully understand, of course, and repentance is not his strong suit, but it is always exciting whenever I get to chat with him about spiritual things! :)

Well, we'll be taking a 2-week break from official tot school - but of course we'll all still be learning! :) My parents are here this week to help us work on the house (and my mom has been watching the kids so that I can paint & stuff, too, so that's really helpful!). My mom loves to read, and Z loves to sit and read with her and my dad, so that's a ton of learning going on right there - and a ton of fun! :) Then, next week, we'll be attending the NARBC Camp Conference at Skyview Ranch in Ohio, so we're excited about that, too! I'm looking forward to seeing friends from the other camps in our conference! :)

I hope to be back with Tot School for the letter G in early November, but we'll see how things go! To find out what everyone else is doing for Tot School this week, and for some great resources on doing tot school with your kids, pop over to 1+1+1=1!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tot School - Letter E

This week of Tot School, we studied the letter E. Actually, our Tot School was kind of haphazard this week, and I was very thankful for the planning I had done this summer, because....we are beginning the process of remodeling & moving into a new house! Our camp director is moving to a new house that the camp is building for his family, and we are moving into his old house! We have lots of painting, flooring, and other remodeling things that we're beginning to be busy doing at our new house, and so school is going to be taking a little bit of a backseat for a few weeks, I'm afraid! But we did do several activities that I had already planned, and I will go ahead and share them!

Here is our morning board for the week:

Zachary did very well with his verse and our song (Count Your Blessings) this week! He didn't get any new sight words, but did very well on reviewing the words already on the wall. He is also getting better at recognizing them in books, and when I get to a word we know, sometimes I'll stop and ask him what word it is, then he reads it & we go on. He likes that, but it can get tedious and he gets frustrated if I stop and do that too often - he has to be in the mood! :)

We used our oval shape viewer this week, which he really enjoyed. He said that his face was an oval (and mine, too, but no pictures of that)! :)

He was saying that the CD player was an oval:

I got this picture too late, but that yellow word-maker toy by the bookshelf is actually oval shaped, and he found it & was pointing to it!

on the head again... :)
his diaper pail...
and the hole in his potty seat! We found a lot of ovals, and he loved this activity! :)

We dot-painted with our bingo markers on these magnet pages from Making Learning Fun - working on the #2 page!



For our E collage, the original idea I had was elbow macaroni. But then I thought, he would just think those were noodles. So then I came up with the idea of painting with our elbows! So I told Z that we were going to do this, and he said, "Then my elbows will be dirty." I said, "Then we'll wipe them off!" but he still didn't want to - so funny! :) So we started out with an egg-shaped cookie cutter, some green paint (his choice), and a plate for the paint. And our E, of course. :)

We stamped..
got more paint...
stamped...!
and then he decided that it would be ok to use his elbows after all! :)


So, here's what we came up with: (it's the process, not the product, right???) :) Note the elbow smudges along the bottom. :)
We used our playdough mats again this week:

We also did this great craft: we made a gas pump out of a cereal box! Check out this post at No Time for Flashcards for directions! As we were getting ready to make this, I found the post online, showed it to Zachary, and said, "We can make this gas pump! Won't that be fun?" and he said that it would, but when it was time to make our craft, he said, "You can make the craft, and I will stand here and watch." So he did. :) He's enjoyed playing with it, though, until Natalie nearly ate one of the pieces of straw on the gas hose, so we had to put it up when she's awake!

My Tiny Tot

Natalie is getting so big! She is standing up holding onto everything - sometimes just standing there with one hand nonchalantly resting on the shelf! She likes to empty out the toybox & play with all the toys one at a time, then throw it down & move on to the next one. :) She was doing the same thing with our book basket this week...

She has been so active lately, and is just quite a charmer! She likes to shake her head no if she is full or doesn't want you to change her or make her eat something, but also if she's heading down the hall, and I come up behind her and say, "Natalie Grace!", she looks up at me, gets this devilish huge grin on her face, and turns around, crawling away at full speed, shaking her head no - it's so naughty but also adorable and hilarious - I love it! :) She is such a joy, and is in such a fun stage, I just love this age - so busy but so much fun! :)

To see what everyone else is doing for Tot School this week, head over to 1+1+1=1!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Road Trip!

How to survive an 11-hour road trip with a two-year-old and a nine-month-old nursing baby and even have fun along the way:

I have no idea.

Ha ha - just kidding! :) No, I actually did just drive across the country a few days ago with my son (2) and daughter (9 months) - an 11-hour drive which turned into 16 hours (each way)! Your first question is probably, "Are you insane?" to which I would answer, "Maybe." But let me tell you WHY I drove to Iowa! My grandpa celebrated his 90th birthday last week! 90 years, wow! That means he was born in 1920 - isn't that just crazy to think about? And, as my uncle said, "I can't think of any present that he and Grandma would like more than to see their great-grandchildren." And seeing the look on Grandma and Grandpa's faces as Zachary (and then Natalie and I) walked into the room was priceless. And totally worth the craziness of the road trip!

(Zachary is behind the camera in the last picture). :)

On this 11-hour trip which took 16 hours, I learned that in the future I could probably stay patient with my kids for about a 9-hour drive. :) I did lose my patience at about nightfall both days - I just turned the music up, and drove the rest of the way, ignoring any noises that may have been coming from the backseat! :) But we made it, and the time with family and friends in Iowa was wonderful! We drove out on a Thursday, and stopped in Illinois at my hubby's aunt's house, where we have an annual 'Girls Weekend' with the ladies on Hubby's mom's side of the family - it was a wonderful, relaxing time of shopping & talking, and I was so encouraged by chatting with other young moms who are having the SAME struggles with discipline & parenting that I am - isn't it always such a blessing to know others have the same struggles as you???

Then on Saturday the kids and I drove a (relatively) quick 3 hours (which took 4, of course), up to my grandparents' apartment building, where we surprised them and my sister - I heard her voice first, exclaiming, "Are you kidding me?" from inside the apartment as Zachary walked in with my dad (who was in on it)! :) After the kids went to bed, we two sisters stayed up late chatting, which we don't often get to do anymore, so that was awesome, too! My grandparents were excited and very pleased and surprised, and they had a great time with the kids, as did my aunt & uncle & cousin from Kansas (all pictured above)!

On Sunday afternoon, we drove to my parents house (in another part of Iowa), where we stayed until Wednesday morning, when we took off early for home. Natalie was teething and didn't sleep well, and on Monday, I was just so tired from traveling and being up with her that I did not think I was going to be able to do the big road trip home - I was planning on coming home Tuesday, and I just knew I couldn't handle it, so I called my hubby & we talked about different options, but then Monday night I got a full night of sleep, and on Tuesday I felt much better and spent an extra day relaxing with my kids & my parents, and then we came home all the way on Wednesday.

Whew! It was quite the trip! It's especially crazy that I did this by myself with the kids, considering that I don't even like to go grocery shopping with the kids - our trips to town consistently end in tears (sometimes it's not just me crying, either!) So how did I do this?

First, I didn't go alone. "What? Were you lying to us earlier?", you might be asking. No, I was the only adult in the car, but I wasn't alone - I spent a lot of time before and during the trip praying over our trip, asking God to renew my patience (and even asking for His forgiveness a couple of times....). So no matter where you go, don't go alone!!!

Second, I planned ahead. I had a big bag full of individually baggied snacks handy next to me in the front seat, so whenever Zachary got hungry I could hand him a snack baggie. (snacks are your friend when you're traveling - I bought things I don't usually buy like the frosted animal crackers & Teddy Grahams & fruit snacks for special treats) I also had several sippy cups full of water, since he tends to drop or throw them, and then be thirsty a half hour later. :) We put Zachary's car seat in the middle seat in the back, and Natalie's behind the driver's seat. That way I could easily hand things to Zachary while driving. I had a separate bag full of toys that Natalie loves, so that if she started crying, I could hand a toy to Zachary and have him hand it to her. This worked pretty well, he was usually willing to hand the toys to her after a reasonable amount of time playing with it himself. :)

Third, we used a car DVD player! This was awesome - we watched a KidSongs video from the library about animals NINE times on the drive out - I pretty much have the words to "Jeepers Creepers" memorized now, thank you! :) KidSongs DVDs play over and over, which is really nice when you're traveling & can't press 'play' every time the 30-minute video ends - we'll definitely be renting these again (or buying some if we see them)! ;)

Fourth, if you have a non-walker (or a little walker who likes to get into everything), wear them! I wore my stretchy wrap all day in the car, and popped Natalie in it when we stopped to use the bathroom & get food - that way she didn't have to sit on any nasty bathroom floors or anything!

Fifth, if you'll be nursing on your trip, try to find a nice area for your toddler to play while you feed your baby instead of sitting in the car - those travel plazas/rest stops often have picnic areas, sometimes even little playgrounds where your toddler can run & climb on the picnic tables/chairs while your baby eats - this worked well for us, and God provided a nice (or nice enough) place each and every time Natalie had to eat.

Sixth, getting out of the car for meals may take longer, but it will give the kids a nice break from their car seats - we ate lunch & dinner each day in travel plazas or restaurants & the kids enjoyed it - we even stopped at a PlayPlace and let the kids run/crawl at suppertime around on the way out, which was fun but it did take a LOT of time, even though I let Z run around the whole time and then eat in the car after we left.

Finally, just plan to take forever. If you have a deadline that you HAVE to be there by, leave a couple of hours earlier than you think you'll need to, otherwise you will just get frustrated - I discovered that to get the kids out of their carseats, go to the bathroom, buy food, and get the kids buckled back in, food passed out, and a DVD started took me THIRTY minutes!!!! And a lunch stop where we got out of the car, changed diapers, used the bathroom (usually twice), ate lunch, and got the kids back in the car, took an hour! So, just plan to take a really really long time, and you'll be less frustrated with the fact that traveling with kids takes forever! :)

Although this wasn't an experience that I would readily repeat for little or no reason, I learned that with God's help, I can take even a long road trip with my kids! After getting home, I told my hubby's mom that trips to the grocery store didn't seem so daunting any more. Then I took the kids to the grocery store & we all ended up in tears again, so there goes that theory. :) But it really does SEEM less daunting, anyway. :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tot School - Letter D

Well, it's time for a Tot School post once again! Our 4th week of school took us two weeks to complete, because we took a week off in the middle to travel to Illinois and Iowa for a quick trip to visit family, and to surprise my Grandpa for his 90th birthday! Here are a few pictures from our trip:

Zachary walking with his Grandpa (my dad): I think we went to a different park every day, Z loved it. :)

Natalie with her Great-Grandpa, eating crackers on his lap - Happy 90th birthday, Great-Grandpa, Surprise!!! :)

Zachary playing the piano at Grandma's house:

Zachary and Natalie playing the piano together with Grandma (my mom):

Grandma and Grandpa bought Zachary a Thomas train set after he saw one at a toy store & would not walk away from it long enough to pick out any other toy! :)

Also, I forgot to post a finished picture of our puffy paint clouds last week, so I thought I'd share those: They actually didn't turn out that great, I think we used too much shaving cream! :(

So....our letter this week(s) was D. Here is our morning board: Z learned his verse well, and by the end of the week, he could sing along with the hymns of the week a little bit, too!

Zachary got several new sight words this week, and identified the word 'to' on the front of a book!

He played with a new wipe-off book and markers from a friend:


He built a big tower with our new stacking cups from Ikea:


And used a maraca to knock it down!

Here he demonstrates how the cups stack :)

we made the letter D with playdough-

We put together our A-Z caterpillar floor puzzle:


We used these A-Z uppercase/lowercase letter matching puzzles - a great tool - with letters A-D, which we've studied so far.



For our letter collage, we made a 'dirty' D. With dirt. In the yard. He LOVED this. :)


adding lots more dirt...
putting dirt on Mommy's foot...
he's supposed to be showing off the final product, but he's distracted by the dirt still. :)

We also made a dinosaur out of shapes this week - directions here. Zachary colored the dinosaur's 'habitat' with markers, then I cut out the shapes and made shapes on the page with glue and had him choose which shape matched the glue shape I drew, and then we glued them on - it was fun. :)

Just for fun - I don't know why Zachary is making this face, but I think it's funny. :)
He is so fun, he has started saying, 'thank you' spontaneously, which makes my day! Today he said, "Thank you for covering me up", when I finished tucking him in for his nap! :)

My Two Tots

Here's my two little ones playing with each other in Kohl's in their carts - so cute! :) They enjoy playing together, but are definitely starting to have issues with sharing toys, personal space, etc! :)

and a hug for Natalie, after a few minutes of playing nicely together! :)

My Tiny Tot

Natalie's new accomplishments this week include crawling on all fours on a regular basis, pulling up and standing in many new places around the house, and growling repeatedly (super adorable!) :) Here she is working hard to crawl:

And standing at the fridge! :) SO BIG! :)

Well, if you want to read what other people are doing for Tot School this week, head on over to 1+1+1=1! :)