Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Baby B at 4 Months

A perfect three-quarter roll!

This month hasn't brought too many changes for you. You're still sleeping well. You're still only able to stay awake for an hour at a time. You're still eating every 2-2.5 hours. You're still a mellow and happy girl! 

You did have two milestones (or maybe one and three-quarters). You laughed for the first time this month, when I was simultaneously making raspberry sounds and tickling you. You really made me work for that laugh! Now I'm guaranteed to get a giggle if I tickle your neck. Oh, the joy of baby giggles! You also started rolling over from back to tummy. I'm not sure if it counts though, since you haven't exactly made a full roll. You always get stuck on your shoulder. If I nudge you a bit, you'll finish the roll. I think I'm counting it. 

In the past few days you started doing this high-pitch yelling, screeching thing. It's seems to me like you're practicing your voice just for fun and you really like listening to yourself. It's really cute for the first ten minutes. Then around the twenty minute mark, my ears are ringing, and after thirty minutes, I've got a headache. But make no mistake, it is very cute!


For those praying for our family and for Baby B, would you please pray for God to give wisdom to those who are in charge of making decisions on Baby's behalf? While we're not able to give details online, we can say that things are getting a bit complicated. There is a greater chance that she will move to another adoptive family sometime in the next few months. Of course, this is foster care and we've seen that just about anything can happen at any time. But our hearts are growing quite attached to her and she is becoming a daughter to Mark and I and a little sister to the boys. Please pray for our hearts, that we would continue to give our love freely to this little girl, and that we would trust in God's goodness and in his perfect plan, no matter what happens.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Preschool 2012 Wrap-Up

Our preschool year is done! I am pleasantly surprised at how well the year went. There were so many times I felt guilty that I was wasn't doing 'enough' with the boys, at least compared to what I imagined their brick-and-mortar preschool peers were doing. Last summer I made a list of what I wanted each boy to have learned or accomplished by the end of the year. Just the other day I looked at that list for the first time in many months. To my amazement, they hit each one. In many cases they far exceeded my expectations. 

Some of my goals for Tommy were: learn basic addition/subtraction up to 10, count to 100, get through Bob Books series, learn to empty the dishwasher, do laundry, and clean his bathroom. Ben's goals were to learn all his letters and numbers and to work on coloring and drawing (a year ago he wanted nothing to do with drawing and coloring). He also learned the same household tasks that Tommy did.    

It's amazing to me that the boys learned so much without me trying very hard to push a set plan on them. I just read them a lot of books, we had conversations about anything and everything, worked together with them in the house, and mostly just followed their interests. At times it felt like we weren't doing very much. But now that I look back at where the boys were a year ago, I can see that we did a lot. I'm so glad I heeded the advice of experienced homeschool moms to just take it easy and read. It really works!

Even though we are "done" for the summer, not much has actually changed. Since we were doing just the basics every day - Bible, catechism, reading lessons, and read-alouds - I can't really stop doing anything. We are still doing our reading lessons because Tommy is progressing really well with learning to read and I don't want him to take a break from it and forget everything. We're also still having our Bible time. But for my own sanity, I want to make a way to distinguish 'school-year' from 'summer break'. So what's different?

For one thing, I'm trying to get out of the house with all the kids a lot more. I'm a homebody and love the comfort of being home and having nowhere to go. So it takes a lot of mental energy to get me and three kids out of the house, even for a few hours. So we all made a list of fun places to go, and I hope to hit them all this summer. The best part is that all of them are free and within 15-45 minutes  away from our house. Some of our future outings include going hiking at local parks, visiting some awesome out-of-town playgrounds, and maybe even a beach outing (though the thought of taking three kids to the beach by myself is still daunting!)

I'm also trying to be more relaxed with our schedule. Normally we would have School Time right after breakfast. But now I'm letting the kids play whenever the mood catches them, even it if means playing in the sandbox at 8 o'clock in the morning or wandering next door and playing with cousins for a few hours after breakfast. I try to fit our learning in later in the day, whenever we get a chance.

I used this preschool year as a practice run for "real school" so I could test out different ways of doing things and get a feel for how I'd like to conduct school for our next year. I've learned that we all do best when we get everything done right after breakfast, and then the boys are free to play the rest of the morning until lunch, or we are free to run errands and get home in time for lunch. I've also realized that nap/quiet time is still non-negotiable. I experimented for a few weeks by letting the boys skip quiet time a few days a week. It wasn't pretty. They got pretty cranky and wild by 5pm. They need that time to just  be quiet and look at books to give their minds and bodies a rest. I don't think that will change anytime soon!

I'm already getting excited about planning for next year, and I'm having fun figuring out how to turn our dining room into a school room. I see a trip to Ikea in our future. :)
Check out these handsome students. The picture on the left is from September 2011, the right one is from June 2012. It's funny to me that Ben happens to be wearing the same shorts in both pictures!