Monday, September 15, 2014

Wiggle Out Loud

One of the joys in Charlotte's life... is music. When we first met her, in the orphanage... a little over 3 years ago... she didn't speak one word.. no Russian, no Ukrainian... nothing. The only sound that came out of her mouth, was a hum of some sort of tune. Her room in the orphanage was in the same hallway that the music room was... so, it all makes sense. The only sounds she heard, she recreated... it was the sweetest little hum ever. Even now, the girl can REALLY carry a tune... it's truly impressive... music is her life. I joke around a lot, and say that her life is a musical... and obviously she's the star in it. She sings EVERYWHERE she goes... and I'm okay with that... there's worse she could be doing (whining, crying, melting down, etc.)

I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Sunday morning, during one of Finn's feedings... seriously, that's all there is to do, when the little man is eating... and came across an advertisement for a Kid's Music Festival in the city... Even though the hubby was leaving to head out of state for the week for work, I knew I needed to take the kids. There's no way, I could have missed it, with Charlotte as my daughter. We kissed the hubby/Daddy goodbye a few hours before his plane was heading out... and made our way to the festival. It's called, "Wiggle Out Loud"... and that is exactly what she did. There were musicians geared towards children, totally family friendly performances... fun vendors... yummy food trucks... and tents filled with fun activities (making music with garbage-like bottles, cans, etc.) It was a great way to distract the kids from the fact that Daddy would be gone for the week... you know, anything to kill time, and make the hours fly by faster until he returns back to us.

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

... To The Zoo

I can't even count how many times I've written about our Zoo on this blog... I probably have done it about once a month... because the Zoo... it has our hearts. Who knew it'd be our favorite place? When people come to town, we take them to the zoo... when we are bored, we head to the zoo... when we have to get school done but don't want to stay inside, we head to the zoo...

After we created our little Zoo Book the other day, of course we needed to go to the zoo and have a lesson on fact finding/gathering. Typically we get all of our basic subjects (Math, Reading/Writing and Phonics) done in the morning, and by 11:30 am, we're ready to head out of the house. Once we're at the zoo, we hit up the playground, which typically is one of our first stops... the kids can get all of their energies out... and my dear friend and I, can get some adult conversation in. It's a win win for all of us, not to mention we eat our lunches or snack a bit.

After that, it's animal time. We walk around and see some of our favorites... each visit, they're doing something new, so we never get bored. The larakeets, are among our favorites...

We also manage to squeeze in our lesson for the day.  We let the kids decide on which animal to write about. Thursday's pick, was the Samatran Tiger... we observed the tiger, read it's informational signs, and got to work in our Zoo Book... and within a few minutes, our lesson was done. It was super fun, and interesting... and the best part, is probably the drawing. I love seeing how different everyone's tigers turn out... and what facts are summarized.

More animal sightings happen after that lesson... and before we know it, 4 hours have passed.

The Zoo never gets old. I'm super impressed by how each visit is so unique... sometimes there are different animals out and about... sometimes animals have babies... sometimes we go to the Zoo with different friends, or just ourselves... sometimes the seasons are changing, which means a different "view" to take in... and sometimes just using a different potty makes the trip different from the time before.
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Friday, September 12, 2014

Fact Vs. Fiction (and a little DIY)

Schooling, has surprisingly gone super well over the last 2 weeks. Sometimes we're not on a schedule... other times, we're spot on... all depends on the day. I'm okay with this... because at least the schoolwork/learning/teaching is getting done. Allowing myself some grace, has made a world of difference in how I'm approaching life these days. If we're still in our jammies at 3 pm... that's okay... If we don't get to Math one day... that's okay... If we have to eat takeout food because dinner couldn't get prepped or cooked because Finn needed to be fed... that's okay too.... grace.

One of the things I want to teach Charlotte this year, is fact vs. fiction. It's still hard for her little mind to comprehend a lot of things, but I always want her to seek the truth... a skill for her to take along her way, especially when she's older. She questions a ton of our reasoning, these days... so I always give her a truthful explanation, instead of "well, just because..."

When walking around at the store the other day, we heard a little child ask their Mommy, "Why can't we buy this?" and the Mom answered, "Because." ... "But why?", asked the child... and the Mom completely ignored her child the second time she asked... so over Charlotte goes... and states, "Because it's what your Mommy said... because we can't have everything... that would be having the gimmies." 

So, this isn't the BEST example... I'm sure I have other great ones, but my mind is completely fried these days from the lack of sleep... but I think you get the picture. Kids want to KNOW why... a generic response isn't good anymore after a certain age... and rightfully so. We wouldn't want our kids to NOT challenge things that are unfair/unjust/etc. later on in life... "just because". I'm definitely guilty of answering Charlotte with a "Because I said so..." but, I'm trying my darndest to add a fact/reason to that statement. Most of the time, it squashes other "Why" questions from forming on that topic... sometimes she doesn't quite understand, so she asks "Why" again... which means I usually have to change my wording, and then she gets it.

So we're practicing gathering facts/data in school, through our Zoo Days. Since the weather is cooling off... the zoo is where we head at least once a week. At the Zoo, Charlotte is free to run around and play for most of the time, except during the exercise. During the exercise, Charlotte must choose an animal to listen to facts about, summarize those facts, and then draw the animal... Well, we needed a a quick little book for her to write these in... so off to creating we went.

We crafted the book with simple materials, Kraft paper, white drawing paper and writing paper... 

Before we got started, little fingers played with the markers... needless to say, someone wasn't too happy when they were gathered, and put away from reach from her... 

But handing her a little "washi tape" solved all cries... and we were able to continue with our project. 

I had Charlotte alternate between blank pages and writing pages... fold them... and then we hole punched. 

After the holes were punched, we strung baker's twine and tied little bows through the holes, so we could always undo it. Just in case we need to add extra pages. 

Next... I let Charlotte take complete creative control over the book... let her color the way she wanted to color it, put tape (and I have a lot of tape) all over it... however she wanted to do it... this is my favorite part... to see what colors she picks... and what she comes up with. 

You can totally use a composition notebook, or a little notebook that's all theirs to write down the facts, but as Charlotte stated, "It's way more fun to make our own... it's different from all the others."... yes little one... fact gathering is super fun now.  

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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Davis' Never Give Up...

When Charlotte gets her mind stuck on something... there's no taking her mind off of it. Some call it determination... others call it stubborn... but to Charlotte, she'll tell you, "Davis' never give up!" We have no idea where she gets that line from (wink wink)...

At the beginning of the summer, she set a goal: Climb the swinging rope. You see, her friend climbed it once... and got higher than her... and so she set a goal in her mind, that she needed to beat him. You know the whole "Anything you can do, I can do better" complex. Well, she got straight to work... each day, getting a little bit higher, or lasting just a little bit longer on the rope. She started getting a sweet little callous build up... and FINALLY has nearly reached the top...

... pretty sure she'll reach that goal... after all, "Davis' never give up..."

also, I'm a firm believer that EVERY child needs a rope swing of some sorts, in order to actually enjoy their childhood.... no really, I'm dead serious... To see her smile, and let go of all fears while swinging... best thing to witness... brings me back to my own childhood, and our tire swing... and the feeling of flying free...

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Friday, September 05, 2014

Dear Finn Mostyn { 1 month }

Dear Finn Mostyn,

Today we celebrate your 1st month of life... wow, it feels like just yesterday we brought you home... and it's already been a few weeks... a very very very sleepy first few weeks. Even though it wasn't too long ago that we brought home your sister Marley and had sleepless nights, it's amazing how our bodies became used to full nights of sleep... and now, we don't know what that is again. You are up about 3x a night for feedings... about every 3-4 hours on a good night, and 1.5-2 on bad nights. There seem to be more bad nights than good at this point. You are a growing boy, who loves nursing... so we can't really blame you for waking so often. Just hoping that you'll realize soon how awesome sleeping is as well.

You are adored in this house... not only by Mommy and Daddy, but by your sisters. Oh do they love you so much. The first month, has had a lot of hiccups with your relationship with Marley... not on your end, but more so on hers. She was pretty jealous this month... and had to figure out how to "share" Mommy and Daddy with you. She finally caught on, after about 2 weeks... that you weren't going anywhere, and has since decided to LOVE on you instead. By LOVE, she enjoys tickling your toes, petting you, and giving you "air" kisses. It's sweet, and we know that you two are going to be inseparable by the time your big enough to interact... you always look up at her and Charlotte in such an endearing way... you recognize their voices instantly when they talk to you. Must be because it's all you heard 24/7 while you were in Mommy's belly. Either way, it's cute to see how your eyes sort of peep open if you're sleeping, the moment you hear one nearby... or how focused you are on their faces while you're awake and they're talking to you.  Charlotte loves watching all your silly faces, especially when you stick out your tongue.

Finn, you are a pretty laid back little guy... except when diaper changes are involved. When that happens, you turn into a bright red little firecracker... The only sure way to get you to NOT turn into a firecracker during a diaper changing is to have fed you beforehand. A fully tummy, makes it all okay. Otherwise, you love stroller rides, something Marley hated... and you love your car seat, something Marley hated... which makes you a lot easier to "handle".... a complete blessing.

You were 2.5 weeks early, when you made your arrival, so you were quite a little peanut. Slowly, you're gaining weight... and it's so nice to see you "fill in" a bit... to see some of those adorable folds start to appear on your arms and your legs. You've already grown over two inches since birth... something tells me, you're going to be tall like Daddy when you get older... You're such a handsome little boy, Finn...truly, when we look at you, we say, "You look like a boy"... there's no way, you could be confused for a girl, like some babies.

You love to be swaddled, but need to have at least 1 arm sticking out, and your feet typically need to be exposed as well... It's funny watching Daddy wrap you up nice and tightly... and you wiggle until one of those arms makes its way out...

Mr. Finn... the transition from 2-3 kids, has been a bit rough for Daddy and Mommy... but you make it completely worth it. We are so excited to see as your personality comes out like a shining light over the next few weeks... these first few weeks were sleepy... but something tells us, you are starting to wake up... and we are so excited to "play" with you...

You are so loved... so so loved,

Daddy, Mommy, Charlotte and Marley
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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

First Grader

Technically, we were supposed to start school yesterday... but we took the day off yesterday, to pick up school supplies and books for Charlotte this year. So we started today... and it couldn't have gone better.

She's in first grade for homeschool this year, and although I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea of her being in something other than Kindergarten... I couldn't be more excited for her... for us. I get to be her teacher again... what a privilege. I can't wait to witness all that she'll pick up this year with that brain of hers... it's going to be great, and I get a front row seat.

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