Now We Are Four!

KW joined us on November 10, 2010. Thanks for following our journey as a family!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Box

Isn't it true every year? After all the Santa booty is explored and all the gifts are open, there is one item that all the kids just can't ignore. The shape may change. The use may change. But the item never does. The Christmas Box.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Santa Success!

The third time's a charm, or so "they" say.

Our first visit with Claus, she opted to stay in her stroller, screaming that she did not want to go. She later would tell multiple people that she sat on his lap. Umm-mm, what?

Then, she spent an entire brunch pointing at him, talking excitedly about him, calling him over, then refusing to sit in his lap or even to talk to him.

Finally, Zoo Lights. Mrs. C was there, and I honestly think this made all the difference. After all, she had spent most of December reciting the line from Rudolph, "Eat, Santa. EAT!" and pointing out that no one else around town looked like the real Mrs. Claus.

KW visited with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and even had her picture made with them. She was so cute and sweet, and she made her one request in that cute little voice, "Presents for me."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hammer Time

One thing I tend to do with some regularity is to begin on a course that I know has serious obstacles to successful completion, but to start out anyway. I always think I can just deal with it as it comes. So, when we got to the last day of school before Christmas, and I had not yet made fudge with Lee for our Advent unit, I just went for it. The only obstacle was that the kids were really close to that moment where lunch has been delayed too long (read: meltdowns are imminent).

We made the fudge, and I put it in the freezer. I could have chosen the fridge. I could have left it sitting out while we ate, then stuck it in the freezer when we were close to finishing (I actually thought of that idea several days after the fact). But we put it in the freezer. After all, I needed to get lunch on the table.

And, it froze. When tried to put cookie cutters in it, nothing happened. After trying several kitchen tools, I sent Lee for the hammer that came in his tool bench. He returned from the playroom, and we got down to business. It took a long time, but he was so proud to unveil his dessert at the family Christmas a couple of days later.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Lee has really gotten into maps in the last six months. At the zoo, he hardly looks up when we arrive at an exhibit, because he is busy selecting our next location. So, it did not surprise me when he snagged the schedule of events at Stone Mountain Christmas. He announced our first activity was to visit the Snow Angel. Once he got up there, it took him a minute to warm up to her, but he was really happy about his visit when she gave him a Hershey Kiss at the end. (Needless to say, KW did NOT participate.)
Now, Santa was a completely different story. (KW still did not participate.)
He jumped right in and told what he wanted - a pair of gloves, a pair of mittens, and a candycane. Santa tried to get some others ideas out of him, and finally got him to say he would like some surprises.

This was a strangely freeing and scary request.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Family Project

How do you get your kids to sit inside on a beautiful day while you watch Game Day for the SEC Championship? A family project, of course! A couple of months ago, my sister delivered a bookshelf to me from Memphis, and we converted it for our school room. We converted another bookshelf the same way for KW's room a while back, and this one proved to be just as entertaining.
They are dying for me to play "Galloping Horse", but that is Daddy's special game.
Rudolph, making sure I am able to have as much room as possible to work. :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Clear Instructions

Several years ago, I went through a communications training at work. One of the exercises was to sit back-to-back with your partner. One person would look at a simple picture and give instructions to the other person on how to draw it without saying what any of the objects were in the picture. For example, I would say, "Draw a circle with lines coming out all around it in the upper left corner of the paper," to indicate my partner should draw the sun in the upper left corner. Except for a few cases, the exercise illustrated that we need to be much more clear in our communication to ensure that others know what we are really trying to ask them to do.

It did not surprise me, therefore, when I asked Lee to cut out the "e" and "i" the other day, and I turned around to find him very carefully cutting out each letter.

I had meant for him to cut the paper in half. It would have been helpful if I had said that.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Shoe Chaos

It seems no matter how many organizational elements I add to our shoe life, it remains chaotic.
Our most recent venture was to build a floating shoe rack. I thought ahead and we made two.
The goal was to empty B's nicer (work) shoes out of the basket, so they don't get beat up with the tennis shoes and my everyday shoes. Goal accomplished, but take a look at that basket.
We should have made three.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Leapin' Leaves

Bryan started the long fall of leaf maintenance last weekend, and he caught some great photos. The kids have been begging to get into the leaves, and I have been longing for something besides the ones in the street gutter for them to enjoy. It's a win-win!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

New Routine

She comes into the room just as I begin, without fail. Her face lights up. "Bible verses?"

"Yes, come sit with me," I reply. She breaks into a smile as she runs around the table and climbs into my lap. "Bible verses!"

I read to her from the passage. We take turns with my pen, scribbling notes on the page. And she sees what a daily time with the Lord can look like. I am thankful.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Math Games

Many of my math activities with Lee this year are games. I try to weave in whatever concept we are working on for the month. This week, I made a Lego board game. (I actually pinned it from somewhere, and I wanted to give credit, but I pinned it wrong, and can't for the life me find the blog.)

We first worked on board game etiquette and rules. He wanted to skip all the colored spaces where "nothing happened". He also thought we were racing to the end, so I had to explain - again and again - that we were only ending the game when someone reached the finish; it was the height of the towers that would determine the winner. Finally, Lee incorporated a policeman-taking-you-to-jail component. No worries, though - I always got to return to my space after he acted out the scene.

And the math? We counted the number of blocks in our towers and determined whose was greater than / less than the other's in order to declare our winner.

PS - I may have mentioned this before, but Lee has access to plenty of clothes - he just prefers not to wear them!

Sunday, October 7, 2012


It amuses me to think about how skittish and scared we were to let Lee try anything. It has not been the same way for KW. It can't be. She has an older brother whom she watches. She is on top of things before I know it - the swing set, the bathroom counter, the top of the stairs. To think that we were nervous about Lee when we moved in this house a year ago!

Letting him "go" has helped me let her go. She gets to try things on average one and a half years earlier than he did. Like the bouncy place.

We got rained out of our field trip with the homeschool group last week, so we met up at the bouncy place. The first time KW did the slide, I went with her. The second time, Lee went behind her to make sure she didn't fall. Then, she was off and running. She went splat on her face almost every time, and loved it!

This is a fun group. I am thankful for the beautiful families.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Do Not Deviate

One great thing about homeschooling these days is that many have gone before me. They have written entire books describing activities and experiments, what steps to follow, and what materials to use. So I don't have to learn the hard way. Right?

Last week, we were doing a simple pouring activity with KW. A couple of plastic bottles, a funnel, and some rice. Well, the book said to use rice. Little Miss Smartie Pants (that's me) thought she would change it up a bit and use something else I had on hand. I didn't think I would use it in a meal, but I will definitely use my rice. Save money and clean out the pantry cabinets. Badda-bing, badda-boom.

My grain of choice? Millet.

Did you know?  Millet somehow channels a lot of static electricity. I remembered as soon as I opened the canister and the little pellets started climbing the wall. No matter. I was still thinking of how I would be able to use this millet again and again. I am SO smart!

Did you also know? Millet is round. As in, it rolls. As in, when you do a pouring lesson on a hard wood floor with millet, you will end up with millet in the far reaches of your kitchen.
Which leads to a practical life training in... vacuuming!

Friday, September 14, 2012

All Up In Her Business

The Tot School I have going for KW is really very simple - we are doing activities from Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready by J. Oberlander. There is one activity a week for every week between birth and five years. Since we fell behind last year, I just skim through where we left off until I see something I am not sure if KW has mastered yet.

The hardest lesson I am having to teach during this time is to Lee. It is to please stay out of the activity. Don't encourage her to do it any other way then I have showed her. Don't introduce new elements to the activity. You already know how to do this; this is just playing for you. I have an activity for you next. Need I go on?

She loves having him there. She certainly loves to follow his direction more than mine (much more fun). He is getting better at staying quiet and being patient each week, but - wow! - he is happy when he can complete the activity. I let him do it in the spirit of "showing her how it's done".

Here we are stacking spools. The goal was to stack them by two's. To begin to understand the concept of 1-2. Then we tapped them to the rhythm on 1-2. She really got into this and danced a jig around the kitchen. Then we built tall towers and knocked them down - much more fun.

Finally, we (Lee) brought an old favorite, "Where is the spool?" She continues to love this game and squeal each time we reveal the spool. Remember when learning was so much fun?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

First Day

We started school about two and a half weeks ago, which is why I am not posting much lately. Definitely no time for deep thoughts until later. I know some probably think I have started schooling early, but I am learning some good things about myself during these "test" years.

The first is how I like to schedule our days, weeks, and year. I haven't fully decided on this, but I do know I don't want to go into the summer, if possible. We can do something light upon request, but wen everyone else gets out, I want to get out, too! This year, I started the week before Labor Day, and I am just going to see how long it takes to hit 180 days. Or, how many days we have completed by Memorial Day. This should help me lay things out more easily next year, I think.

The second is when to start thinking about and planning what I want to include in our year. (FYI, that would be earlier than July if you are me.) So, as we have begun, I am teaching, planning, and making school stuff. I really do enjoy it, but I am a little tired.

You may ask, "Why are you working on things you won't need for months?" Because I learned that lesson last year - I really don't like to be continually preparing materials through the year. Why do tomorrow what you can finish up today?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Her First

If you are from Memphis, then you understand the Pronto Pup (it's NOT a corn dog). If you are from my family, you grew up with Pronto Pups all around. Somewhere along the way, my great-uncle or cousin or someone bought the exclusive rights to Pronto Pups east of the Mississippi. So sorry to everyone outside the mid-south; they don't sell them there. All I can say is, we need a food truck.

Lee doesn't like Pronto Pups (!). Cannot figure out why, for the life of me. He is missing out.

So, when Chloe found me snapping one picture after another in the backyard on our last trip home, I did not think it at all odd when she said, "Yea, I took a lot of pictures of Arden's first, too."