Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October Preschool

We've been having a great time as we've started preschool at home. Here's a little of what we've been up to:
We went to the zoo. We pretty much had the place to ourselves, and it was so much fun observing the animals in the slightly cooler weather.
 We've been to lots of playgrounds, sometimes with friends, and sometimes just on our own.
 We've had lessons with our friends. One day we made these crafts to show where we live, and our place on the globe. Another day, we took a walk to collect leaves and we made leaf rubbings.
 We got to see where apples grow and bring home three big bags full. We still need to figure out what to do with them all...
Nora's been making great progress with reading. She's gone from knowing all her letters (and most of the sounds) to sounding out three-letter words. I made her a matching game that she loves to play.
 We went to the elementary school with some other future kindergarteners, where we listened to stories and made these autumn trees out of paper bags.
 We go to a weekly music class at a new friend's home, which has been a lot of fun. The kids all got to come in costume this week and we shared a potluck lunch.

We make frequent visits to the library, and find new topics to learn about. After our trip to the zoo, we wanted to learn a little more about bees.
It hasn't been all sunshine and roses. Peter still expects me to actively be his teacher all day long, and I'm still figuring out how to make a good schedule to follow. Lydia doesn't nap great these days, so a lot of my time is consumed just trying to get her to sleep. I've been looking into a home school swimming class at a local Y. I think that would be a lot of fun, and would be a great way to build new friendships. All in all, I've really been enjoying this time we have together. I love the flexibility, and that we can just do whatever we want.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Seven Months

This beautiful little lady turned seven months old yesterday. Time just does not slow down anymore, but I'm enjoying every squishy second I have with her.
 Lydia is really strong, and is getting pretty good at rocking on her hands and knees. She can also stand against a surface (like a couch) on her own for about a minute. She has a vice grip and a penchant for hair- especially Nora's. Poor Nora has lost several handfuls to these pudgy little fingers.
 Lydia is without a doubt a Mama's girl. Whenever I'm in the same room, she makes it clear that she wants nothing to do with anyone else. She loves her Daddy too, and especially enjoys sitting at his feet while he serenades her with his guitar. She has a funny bobble dance, and bounces whenever she hears music.
At her six month appointment (at which she measured 30% for height and 90% for weight), the doctor pointed out that she had unusually early stranger anxiety. So advanced. ;) Her sense of humor is emerging, and she thinks it's hilarious when she tries to feed me something gross.
I've heard her say "Mom" a few times, but it's usually when she's sad and wants me. She also says "Dada!" in a cute chirpy voice.
Lydia has an adoring fan club. Benjamin is so cute with her, and loves showing her off to his friends.
Peter is warming up to her more and more. He is really tolerant of her slobbery kisses, and enjoys performing for her to elicit a smile.
Lydia is a happy little girl, and such a delightful addition to our home. I had no problem turning 30 this month. I look at these four beauties and life feels full.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Peter is Five!

Five years ago today, I became a mother of two. It was a scary thing, wondering if I could love another child as much as I did my first, wondering how I could "divide" that love and show it equally to them both. I remember worrying about how Benjamin would handle having a brother mostly.
When Peter came into our home, most of my fears melted away almost instantly. He was calm, patient, and he took a pacifier (none of the other kids did)! I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a rough transition for Benjamin at the time, but the two are becoming better and better friends as the years go by. We are so lucky to have this special boy in our family!
Peter does not like sleeping in, ever. Last night, he wanted to negotiate the earliest time at which he could open his first present in the morning. Promptly at 7:10, he was by my bedside, ripping paper.
Peter is not afraid of challenging things. He told me his favorite present was his Perplexus ball. I don't have the patience to get the tiny ball through the maze, but he loves taking on hard things.
Peter continues to love all things Lego. He'll spend hours a day, just building and creating new contraptions to show me.
Grandma sent him an apron and chef hat that she made. He loves it! When I interviewed him this afternoon and asked him what he wanted to be when he grows up, he emphatically stated, "You know! A chef and a scientist!"
Peter wanted an ice cream cake "like Mommy's," so that is what Paul made for him. It was delicious.
Peter is pretty happy about not being four anymore. I asked him what he liked about this last year, and he couldn't come up with much. After some prompting, he mentioned that he learned how to ride a two wheeler uphill. "It's easy!" And the reason he's excited to be five is so that he can "do other things." He keeps asking if he can go to kindergarten now that he's five, to which I often have to explain our state's cutoff date. :)
Peter went through a tough phase at around 4 1/2, but has since come out of that funk and become a delight (most of the time- he can also be extremely contrary when he wants to be). When considering what to do for preschool this year, a big part of my decision to keep him home was to foster our great relationship. He loves to tell me all the time how beautiful I am and much he loves me, and really, who wouldn't want someone like that around all the time? ;) He has a generous, big heart, and is frequently the peacemaker whenever there's a conflict among the siblings.
And now, a few more Q&A's:

What's your favorite thing to do?    Riding bikes!
What is your favorite food?     Carrots. (I thought this was funny, but then he repeated it a few minutes later, so it must be true.)
What is your favorite book?     I don't have a favorite book. I like the Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass and the Pigeon books (by Mo Willems).
What is your favorite movie?     All of them. Except for girl ones.
What is your favorite computer game?     Friv.
What is your favorite scripture story?     I like all of them...I like Moroni. He's strong.
What is your favorite color?     Red, white and blue!
Where is your favorite place to go?     Disneyland!
Who is your best friend?     Jack Fischer (now in kindergarten) and Keira (from his preschool class that we dropped out of...and the main reason I sometimes feel torn about the decision). And Mason too.
What is your favorite song? Down by the Bay (We sing this every night in his bed, and I have to come up with a few new endings each time. I'm really brushing up on my rhyming skills!)

For a while, Peter has been referring to himself as my "Four-almost-five-year-old-baby." Now I guess he's just going to have to be my "five-year-old-baby." I'll take it for as long as I can! We sure love this boy.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Frankenora and The Legend of Chubbs

There once was a fair young maiden who loved to paint her fingernails. One bright and sunny afternoon, the maiden lopped a good part of her delicate pointer finger off as she was fending off dragons. She was exceedingly brave, and allowed the mad doctor to stitch and mummify her, understanding that her precious fingernail might never be the same. All was right in the land (despite the King's three days wanderings off to far distant lands), until that fateful day when the Queen ordered the wrappings be removed from the fair maiden's finger. The sight of the stitched finger terrified the maid, and she resisted with all her power to avoid facing the ugly truth. Not one week later, a kind doctor did the deed for the Queen, wrapping the finger expertly and assuring everyone that all would be well.
But it was that same doctor that raised the alarm for the fair maiden's rotund baby sister. When it was discovered that the babe's thigh rolls were not evenly matched, the doctor sent her straightway to be x-rayed. Twas hoped that her tiny hips were correctly formed underneath the extra padding. 
The x-rays were thoroughly examined, and the babe was pronounced well - abnormally fluffy legs and all. And the kingdom rejoiced.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fresh Eyes

We got our family pictures taken this weekend, which was a real highlight! I always like to wait until my babies are over six months to add them to family photos. That way, I feel like they look like themselves - at least for a little while.
 We found an itty-bitty frog during our shoot, which made for some fun pictures. The poor thing had a gimpy leg though, so we probably didn't help it out too much. :)
 The couple samples we got were great, although we have better ones that I can't download here yet. Ones where you can actually see Paul's face. :) Love everything else about this one though...
 Lydia, who is usually silly and smiley would not crack. We tried everything we could think of, but she remained stoic almost the entire time.
 Almost exactly twenty four hours after those pictures were taken, Nora burst in the house screaming. She had been playing outside with Benjamin and Peter, so I figured she must be tattling on them, that they probably sprayed her with the hose or something.

Now I will admit, Nora has been sort of going through a rough patch lately. It seems that immediately following her third birthday, she turned into a different creature. Instead of having a mild, sunny disposition all the time, she often throws wild fits if she can't have her way. And there is no talking her down or reasoning. So I love her, but admittedly often through gritted teeth. I'm working on it.
Anyways, I was sort of rolling my eyes as she came through the door. She likes to pick fights with them to elicit any sort of reaction. Paul came to her side and immediately called me over. I was not at all prepared for what I saw (Warning: if you have issues with blood, you should probably stop reading...).

She had smashed her finger in the old wooden front door as she was closing it on her way in. Her right pointer finger was severed below the nail bed, hanging by only a third of the finger's width. I don't even do well with loose teeth, so this was way beyond my ability to handle calmly. I think I screamed (Paul said he'd never heard that noise come out of me before), and after Paul put her finger back in place we rushed off to the emergency room. All the while, I was thinking my poor Nora would have a short pointer finger forever. I didn't think there was any way they could repair it. She was crying, but calmed down completely as I held her in the car. 
I stayed with her all four hours in the emergency room, holding her, rocking her, seeing her again with fresh eyes. My little girl who wants nothing more than to just cuddle and be held.
Paul headed back home with the boys when it looked like help wasn't coming right away, and my belated 30th birthday celebration was put on hold.
Mostly I could not get over how tough this girl was. She was calm the entire time we sat in that little emergency room, giggling at the sparkly x-ray gown I wore (her finger was in fact fractured at the tip), delighted by the stickers she got to have, patient as she sat through all of Toy Story and The Little Mermaid. I think she only cried when Lydia grabbed her finger, reopening the wound. I could have died...
The procedure was also hard for me to watch.  She had some agitated moments when her usually bright eyes went dull.  But she also had some playful moments thanks to the laughing gas. She kept saying "Hiiiii!" really slowly with a big grin on her face and once pointed at the plastic surgeon who was stitching her up and joked, "YOU smashed my finger." It was nice that she didn't have to be aware during it. I don't think she would have handled that part very well.

It turns out we knew our plastic surgeon from church. He walked in, and we both did a double take and laughed.

It's funny, for all the thought I put into our beautiful family pictures, these other pictures of Nora will always mean just as much to me, if not more. As hard as it is to go through these things as parents, it's probably also a blessing. We come away with deeper love and empathy, and we see what our kids are made of. In Nora's case, it's sugar and spice with a hint of nails. She's just that tough.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Come Listen to a Prophet's Voice!

 One of my favorite memories as a kid were General Conference weekends. I think my parents did a great job building traditions and memories, making the eight hours of viewing time a lot more enjoyable for us!  Thankfully, because of modern technology, we can now watch it at home on our TV- even without cable! So cool.
Since our kids are getting a little older and are starting to make their own associations about what we "always do" (Peter mentioned powdered donuts as our standard "Conference" fare), I decided to make a few more purposeful traditions this year. I saw an idea on Pinterest for a General Conference board, and decided to make my own version.
 Ours has a stand and 15 chairs, each with a velcro dot. The kids can find the General Authority speaking, and move him to the podium, then add him to one of the chairs once he's finished speaking. It has three wheels to turn, with the month, the weekday, and the starting time that you can see through the display windows.  One side I intentionally left blank to use as note taking space, and we added sticky notes with phrases we wanted to remember. I Modge Podged the board so we can bring it out and use it every six months. Visually, I'm not quite satisfied with it so I'm sure I'll be making some tweaks, but I want it to get lots of use!
I set up part of the room for "Conference Basketball," also courtesy of Pinterest. :) I put four tape lines on the floor with a few key words (we chose words relevant to Benjamin since he'll be getting baptized this year- Faith, Repentance, Baptism and Holy Ghost), and the kids could shoot a soft stuffed ball from one of the lines if they heard that word used. If they got a basket, they got a treat.
 I also got some Perler beads for the kids to make designs while they listened. Since this was a novelty to them and kept their hands busy, it worked really well.
 The fort was set up under the Perler bead station for more comfortable viewing.
For dinner we had pizza, which the kids always look forward to. I love listening to our living prophets and apostles and I hope I can transfer that love - even if just in small ways - to our kids.