Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fall Fun List Update

Quick Fall Fun check in...  We've made some progress on our family list!

  hiking     GA football!     apple picking     saturday soup night     apple cider     pumpkin patch      Athens visit     
decorate pumpkins      s'mores in fire pit      pumpkin pancakes      leaf art      jump in leaves      make bird feeders      nature walk/ scavenger hunt       make a fall dessert       costumes!       family movie night       first fire    Zoo & Botanical Gardens      fall keepsake craft

Let's start with the obvious!  OF COURSE we've been cheering on the Dawgs!

We've kicked off Saturday soup night.

We took a break from BFiaR and had an "Autumn" week of activities, which included handprint leaves (our keepsake craft) and two leaf art "masterpieces." :)

We made our annual Athens visit, including a pumpkin patch stop.

This year we ate lunch with Uncle Zach and saw his awesome college house. We also stopped by our old campus ministry stomping ground and visited with our campus ministers Nathan and Franklin (<who married us!). We visited with Sanctuary Youth alum over afternoon froyo, a quick trip to the Athens zoo, and dinner at the weirdest Mexican restaurant I've ever encountered. :) Fun, full day!

Daddy made pumpkin pancakes. More of those in our near future, I'm sure!

We went on a beautiful fall hike at Kennesaw Mountain. Our super troopers made it about three miles... with some carrying thrown in there!

We wrapped up our first season of fall ball. (spoiler alert: to-die-for picture ahead)

Just this weekend, we visited a second pumpkin patch at a local family farm as a festive LifeGroup outing. It was a gorgeous day- we played on the hay barrel slides, zip line, and corn maze, and took a hay ride.

Our extra credit so far: Sanctuary's Hayes Fall Festival fun. We got to help celebrate fall and share Jesus' love with some family fun at a local elementary school. I think Reed and Molly "favorited" the petting zoo.

After a glorious burst of fall air to invite the start of autumn, we had some warmer temps return. :( Now that the cool fall fun is back it feels like we're just getting started! Bring it on! :)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

2 1/2

Happy 2 1/2 to Molly Bette!

Your sunday morning half birthday called for a cake pop stop on the way to church. :)

Here is a glimpse of Molly at 2 1/2... You love to "read" books to yourself. One of my favorite things to do is watch you quietly from the hallway as you narrate a pile of books in your sweet little way. Your current favorite is Fancy Nancy Tea for Two. You like to play "the baby game" with Reed where you say "goo ga ga" and he picks you up and carries you a few feet... at least that's all I can figure out about it. The two of you do lots of pretend play together. For some reason you think that putting your hands on your hips is a safe alternative to hand holding in the parking lot. It's so cute and we've spent so much time talking about it that I'm afraid we've encouraged it and your "hip walking" is now a signature move. You carry around my old pink ipod, and call it your "leappod."

And speaking of a "leappod," if ever your birthday is mentioned you quickly exclaim "my own leappad!" (Apparently Reed has promised to purchase you a leappad when you turn three). You pronounce many plural words with an extra syllable, like "wash clothses" and "ghostes." You are so, so cute and spirited. You make me smile even when you get angry. Last week Reed stole a piece of your snack out of your car seat cupholder. You crossed you arms, squinted your eyes, puckered your lips and yelled, "that was vewy wude, Weedy!! Oh my.

At your 30 month well check you were 35 inches and 24.2 pounds.

You are growing up so fast. I find myself constantly trying to keep up with you, and ever celebrating who you are becoming. It is the joy of my heart to laugh with you, steady you, comfort you, teach you, and point you to Jesus.

We love you, little love!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Soup Saturday

I put "Soup Saturday" on the fall fun list this year, hoping to motivate myself to find and prepare a soup recipe each fall weekend to enjoy. I missed one already (oops!), but so far we've had...

Taco Soup for the UGA v. Tenn game to share with our friends the Jennettes. I've made this soup since college and used a variety of recipes.  It is easy and flexible so you could google and use whatever version you find as a starting point.  This go round I stuck closest to this version, using ground turkey instead of beef and adding avocados to the garnish list.

And tonight we had this cheesy vegetable chowder... It kind of became a joke because it was 80 degrees in our house on "fall soup night" ...then it took me TWO HOURS to make the soup. It was good, but not two hours good. ;) (Disclaimer: Both the extended cooking time and the mediocre outcome were likely due to my questionable culinary talent and not the recipe, so feel free to give it a go). And I actually did enjoy the soup-- looking forward to having some for lunch tomorrow. :)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fall Fun List 2014

It's Fall, Y'all!

GA football!
apple picking
saturday soup night
apple cider
pumpkin patch
Athens visit
decorate pumpkins
s'mores in fire pit
pumpkin pancakes
leaf art
jump in leaves
nature walk/ scavenger hunt
make a fall dessert
family movie night
make bird feeders
Zoo & Botanical Gardens
first fire
fall keepsake craft

Ready, Set, Go!

(*Reed's additions: Play at Grammy's, go to Disney World, go to Indiana, go to Eli's house and Josh and Jordan's house, and swing on our swings) ;)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

4 1/2

Happy 4 1/2, Reed!

We had a little impromptu candle-muffin-singing festivity at breakfast this morning.

I'm fairly certain you just turned four, but we'll go with it... Look how big and handsome you are!

You are growing so quickly, and changing every day. I wish I wrote down more things you say and ask and do, but here are a few of my favorite things about you at 4 1/2...

You are funny, and still love to make people laugh. And you really lay on the comedy act when you are supposed to be in trouble! ;)

One new development is that you've started to draw people lately. They have big eyes and ears, and big circles for bodies, and are usually sporting a pronounced belly button! :)

The other day you and Molly were huddled together looking out the window and I heard you tell her, "Ohhh, look at the cute chipmunks. A mommy and a baby one. ...I think it's a mommy... I can't tell if it has breastes." Ha! You and Molly have also been trying to "catch squirrels" in the back yard. I love what great buddies you are, even when you get in to mischief together (see contraband below). :)

You've been enjoying tee ball as well as watching football and playing football in the living room, working on your spin moves and such. :)

The other day you were riding in the back of the van with Grant and Mason, and you had requested to rock out loudly to some of the Tru Worship songs from Sanctuary Kids. A little while into the song you yelled for me to pause it. I did and you leaned over to G and M and exclaimed, "did you guys know that Jesus died on the cross for us and came back to life?!" May you always light up with the good news of Jesus, sweet Reed, and may it lead you to the cross!

I love your tender heart, your joy, your humor, your enthusiasm, your inquisitiveness, and your passion. It is such an honor, alongside your daddy, to get to nurture you and watch you grow into the special boy God created you to be.

We love you!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Before Five in a Row: Angus Lost

We completed our first full week of our new fall routine and of Before Five in a Row. Our first book was Angus Lost. The kids loved it!

Each morning, after our chore charts and breakfast and the morning board, we snuggled up on the couch and read the story. We crammed in all kinds of activities throughout the week for our first go! It still felt fun and relaxed. :)

Some things we did were simple, like tracing, helping Angus through a maze (I couldn't believe Reed got him out the first try), and some same and different puzzles. Molly colored up a storm.

On Tuesday, we discussed different types of dogs and looked up a pedigree chart. (Angus, a Scottish Terrier, gets outrun by a Collie in the book because he is built differently). Reed and Molly both got a kick out of the pictures of all of the different kinds of dogs. I thought it would be fun for them to identify familiar dogs, so we had some friends text of pictures of their canine pals. Reed identified Angus and the Collie pretty quickly, as well as Lisa's pug and "Pongo and Perdita" from 101 Dalmations. Some of the others were pretty tough, but we got close! We spread our ID-ing out through the week because it was intense work. :)

Mrs. Kristen sent us a picture of her Great Dane, Grace, and invited us over to eat dinner and dessert with the Larsons. Mrs. Kristen is so much fun, and the kids had a big time! Matt and I did too! :)

I found these awesome Monopoly gummies that have dogs that looks just like Angus, plus houses, and old-fashioned cars that match those in the story.

I decided we had to use them somehow! We put together our color puzzle and reviewed colors with Molly, then color sorted the gummies (and the milk bottles).

We pulled out the paint deck and talked about shades of colors too.

Last, we used the gummies for an experiment and to introduce the scientific process. I told R & M that scientists ask questions and make guesses. We asked what would happen to the gummy if we left it in water while we left for the evening.

On Thursday, we talked about Angus getting lost. We remembered that God is always with us and reviewed what to do if we ever get lost. (By the way, I love this: I read somewhere a couple of years ago to teach your young children that if they ever cannot find you, the they are to find a mommy with kids and tell her you're lost. That's a pretty good bet in pointing your kids toward a safe person to help!) We also practiced our personal information... We'll need to revisit that often, but we're getting there.

We did some cutting-- always a hit!

And Reed counted houses and worked with numbers 1-20, while Molly moved on to some light reading. :)

We made puppy chow together, and the kiddos wanted to eat it like doggies. :)

At the end of the week, Reed and Molly each summarized the story in their own words, and cited their favorite part. :)

Reed's favorite part: "the cave"
Reed's summary: "He starts chasing the dog, and he runs around the corner and then when Angus runs around the corner the dog is gone. ...the goat runs until he stops... He founds the car and then the car runs away.  And... he... finds a owl and then he runs runs to find his house but snow comes...came, and then he went in a cave.  Then he got out and then he followed the milk man... and then door to door until he finds his house."

Molly's favorite part: "owl"
Molly's summary: (looking through book) "Angus... snow... the goat stop... rattle clink clink!  it dark... this doggie's house... rattle clink clink rattle clink clink HONK..." (continues...) :)

*Many of the printed materials pictured can be found free at homeschoolcreations.com. :)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A New Year - Fall 2014

Reed, Molly, and I are all going to be at home together again this year.

In the last couple of years we've done some intentional learning at home, but nothing very full or formal. When Reed was two and Molly was a baby, we incorporated R's Big God Story lessons and remember verses from Sundays into our weeks and had a rotating "special" shape, letter, number and color. Reed did a gymnastics class (and Molly learned to crawl during the open play after each class!)  Mostly, we just played, met up with pals, visited the zoo and the children's museum and other interesting places, and we lived life.

Last year, we were even more laid back. We still did lots of playing, playdates, parks, and visits to our pass places. We added in a monthly art group and a music co-op turned craft and play and whatever (which was, more importantly, a mom's morning out rotation with a few of our pals!). Both kiddos had their Sanctuary Kids classes on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, and Reed played his first season of soccer in the spring.

I wrestled a little bit over what to do this year, but landed with us all here at home together. I'm sure there are days when I'll be going crazy, and I'm already feeling the free time crunch, but in the end I remind myself that I will look back one day and long to bask in these precious little years once again, being thankful for each and every one. (Partly, probably, because I won't remember the boogers on the walls and the mealtime meltdown parts as clearly as the laughter and learning and hugs, but that's okay too.) :)

Once I decided we were hanging at home, I clicked into my creating/planning mode and had a lot of fun thinking through what this year would look like, not just for "preschool" really, but more in a general sense of what do we want to focus on as a family at this unique stage of Molly being two and Reed being four. Below are some of the big ideas we came up with that we plan to highlight and implement this fall.

Sanctuary Kids- This year Reed will be in the PreK class at church and Molly will start the 2's class. Our church uses a great children's curriculum (wonder what good-looking guy picked it out!) that encourages parents to be the primary spiritual nurturers of their children.  Each Saturday we'll continue to use the Homefront tools to introduce our kids' lessons, and we'll try to highlight the remember verses throughout the week. We want the Gospel to undergird everything we learn and do, so we'll incorporate "The Big God Story" and seek to experience Jesus in all of our adventures. Our favorite Bible so far has been the Jesus Storybook Bible (see why here), but we've been through it several times with Reed already, plus he has started to study stories that aren't included. I'm in the market for a more complete children's Bible.

Before Five in a Row- This will be our main "curriculum" for the fall. It was recommended to me by a couple of friends, and I love that it is simple, relational, and the perfect age range for both Reed and Molly. Basically, we'll be reading some children's classics (one book each week, read five days in a row) and pairing various learning activities with each day of each story. I'm excited. The prepping side allows me to be creative and use my brain, plus there is limitless flexibility so our "plan" can be fun and fluid and whatever we need it to be. I'm hoping to document some of our days here, so check back!

Chore Knob Charts- Structure and routine are important to preschoolers, and Reed is no exception. We have been wanting to introduce some consistent responsibilities for some time, so this little Pinterest inspired gem is our effort in that direction. (And I found the printable graphics here). The "chores" are mostly morning and evening routine prompts, and have a few extra responsibilities included. I pretty much walk Molly through hers, but we will go ahead and celebrate that she gets some fine motor practice moving the clothespins. ;) Reed, though... you would think we got him a new puppy to take care of. If he is out of sight, we can usually find him in his room enthusiastically "working ahead" on his chart. It seriously cracks us up. Some of the extra jobs we decided on are watering plants, helping to empty the dishwasher (usually sorting the silverware), and helping Daddy on trash days. I love that all of the icons are interchangeable; most days I order them before I go to bed (for the morning) and during naps (for the afternoon/evening). Speaking of naps, that particular ritual is no longer part of Reed's days so we are also establishing a rest time/room time routine for the fall.

Morning Board- Along the same lines of order and routine, I also wanted to start a morning calendar time. We talked about the days and dates and weather last year, but I wanted something visual and hands on. After hours searching through ideas and products for classroom circle time, I had drafted a whole collage wall for the playroom that would include a pocket calendar, a weather wheel, color and shape posters, seasons, months etc. Then the heavens opened up and I found this Melissa and Doug Magnetic Calendar, breathed a sigh of relief, and hit "place order." It is simple and includes pretty much everything I want, including the seasons, months, days of the week, dates, holidays, activities, weather. We usually do it together during breakfast. It even has an emotions section where the kids can put up a yellow face that expresses how they are feeling. Yesterday Molly was having a meltdown, and Reed dashed into the kitchen and then came back to announce that he put up both the sad and angry faces for Molly. :) Ha! Later in the year when we introduce money a bit more, I also want to add a magnetic strip where we can "make the date" out of coins each day.

Other Activities- In addition to their Sunday morning and Wednesday evening Sanctuary Kids classes, Molly and Reed are both delightfully enrolled in gymnastics. Molly takes a morning GymTots class with four of her gal pals-- they are so funny, like herding cats! Reed takes an evening boys class and now uses the legit equipment in the back of the gym.  Reed is also pumped about playing his first season of Tee Ball!

Read Alouds- Another goal this year was to start reading some chapter books with Reed. We are especially excited about exposing him to Chronicles of Narnia, but have started with Charlotte's Web. So far, he loves it! There are a lot of good book lists out there with suggestions-- Here is one with fifty titles. On deck, we have Winnie the PoohMr. Popper's Penguins, and Junie B. Jones. I read a chapter with Reed at the beginning of rest time, and before bed. Usually he gets out of room time early and convinces me to read another chapter or two before Molly wakes up. :)

Joke Book and Family Jar- I read about both of these dinnertime ideas some time ago. First, share a joke from a joke book each night at dinner... what a simple way to laugh together and explore the nuances of language! :) The other idea is a jar of questions and conversation starters. We haven't made this (yet?), but we've been trying to model intentionality and reciprocity in our conversation. A current favorite is the question game, where each person chooses a question for the whole table to answer. It could be anything from "what was something that made you sad (or laugh) today" to "what is everyone's favorite zoo animal." :)

The Story of Me- We have a series of books by Stan and Brenna Jones that start as early as the toddler years to introduce kids to God's design for their bodies and for sex in a spiritual context.  Right now we're starting with The Story of Me, and I guess the goal will be to revisit it maybe once a quarter.  As crazy as it sounds, I feel like I'm already playing catchup because we haven't started with this type of resource.

Serving- I have been reading a great book that suggests that Reed (at almost five) is ready to be helped to focus outward, and that now is a great time to lay a foundation of service in his world. We've been wanting to sponsor a child through our friends Because of Kennedy, and this fall will be a great time to allow Molly and Reed to be involved in that process. I'm hoping to set aside intentional time monthly to let them help with projects, gifts, and correspondence with our sponsored child.

Other- We also plan to listen to lots of music throughout our days, get messy with creative art projects, and play a lot. Reed is always begging for a game on the phone or to watch a show, so I finally loaded up our extra tablet with a list of the best preschool apps I've found for (limited!) screen time for him. He also loves to do preK and K summer bridge books and flash cards every now and then. Potty training for Molly will be on the docket this fall. We'll get out of the house for plenty of library visits and to get good use out of our zoo and botanical gardens memberships. We also want to be intentional about individual time with our kids, so we've set a goal of special 1-on-1 and 2-on-1 time with each of our children at least once per semester (fall, spring, and summer).

I compiled most of these ideas from inspiration from other families shared in person or across the web. I hope some of them prove helpful and fun for you and your family too!

I'm super excited about a new year with my little loves! Here we go!