Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fall



Cheesy smiles!!



This shows their personalities perfectly! Ava is always fascinated with Cade and can't stop watching him. Cade is such a sweetheart with Ava, always wanting to hold her hand or get her a toy.



A beautiful warm fall day playing in the leaves with our friend Isaiah Z. Look closely and you'll see Cade demonstrating his supernatural powers :)




Ava enjoying the outdoors. I'm not sure how much grass she ended up eating!!




Cade super pumped for his first organic lollipop!! (He dressed himself)



Daddy and his babies.



Grandma H, Great Grandpa H, Cade, and me (with the leave blower!! SO MUCH FUN!)



Great Grandpa burying Cade in the leaves.



Some kids never grow up :)



Yeah, he's really up there.




I really like this one.



This one just makes me laugh! She's actually trying to knock down a dead branch, but it sure looks like she's threatening Nick! "Get up there and don't come down until I tell you to!"



:) Just soaking it all in.



Too cute! My mother-in-law made Ava and I matching socks! (They were for my birthday and she brought the gift 12 days early. I couldn't wait to open the present, so I didn't!!!)



Matchy matchy!
This little girl won't sit still anymore! She's ready to move!







Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cade's Binder

Some days - some days I get really pumped up and motivated and think, hey, I should start something really awesome today or organize that closet or make a great craft with Cade today! It's wonderful when I have those days, rare though they are. And they are usually proceeded by large amounts of chocolate or sleep..hence why they have been pretty rare lately. (I am not eating dairy for Ava's sake and most of my favorite milk chocolate contains, well, milk!) However, yesterday, BEFORE I made the most delicious brownies (dairy free!) I had lots of motivation to get started on 'Cade's Binder'. The name for it will likely change, but that's the most obvious name for it at this point! It is in preparation for keeping records once we 'officially' start homeschooling him. The time is fast approaching when some fancy important person may want me to prove that I actually help my child learn. I've been reading a great homeschooling book with so many ideas and solutions for beginning to homeschool that my head starts to spin! She's really gotten me focused on starting to learn how to keep records now so I can use this as a trial and error period, since no one 'important' really cares if a 3 year old is being taught anything.

Another important reason that I wanted to start a folder, binder, book, whatever I decide to call it, is because I feel like I've forgotten so much that he has done! I had a calendar for him for about the first year and a half that I would record special events and milestones, what words he was saying that month, when he learned to count or say the alphabet. I was really good at printing out a calendar each month and even having a picture of him from that month on it. I also recorded things like when he would have a cold or how much he weighed. It is so nice now to be able to look back and see what he was doing and when. For some strange reason, I just stopped doing his calendar! I'm so upset that I didn't keep track of his developments. It was such a simple method to just jot things down on each month's page. I could probably blame my second pregnancy for my lack of brain, but I've always been rather forgetful. So, rather than going back to my calendar method, I've decided to utilize some of the ideas in Terri Lynn Bittner's book as well as some of my own ideas to keep track of what my little guy is learning and doing! I'm hoping that this will make for an easier transition into record keeping in a couple of years. Boy am I terrified of that part of homeschooling. (And figuring out a curriculum. And knowing what to teach. And knowing how to teach. And planning ahead. And... Whatever, it will be great!)

So, here is how it will work. As with the 'no rules journal' that I personally keep, there really aren't any strict rules, just guidelines and suggestions as to what to include! I started out by writing down examples of what he is doing at this point. How far he can count, what he has memorized, where he is at with reading and writing, physically what sorts of skills he can do. So even though I missed out on recording exactly when he started doing those things, I can at least look back and know he was doing them when he was 3. I plan to keep a loose journal of things going on. Every once in a while I will just jot down our normal routine or if we had any major events or big learning moments. I'm also going to include in his binder, book, whatever, Cade's own journal pages. We started yesterday and it was tough for him to get the concept of journaling, but hopefully he will get it and be able to tell me his thoughts or what he did during the day. For now I will be writing down what he tells me to write and he can include his own pictures or words. Eventually, once he learns to write, he will be able to continue the journal himself. I also plan to keep things that he makes in the binder. I'm going to punch holes in papers that he's practicing writing letters or coloring on and then put them in the book. Art projects that are smaller or odd shapes will go into a large ziplock bag or pouch that will hopefully fit into the binder as well (I'm going to get one of those huge ones!! They had a bunch at the co-op last time I was there.). If it's not something that is flat enough or small enough to keep in the book, I want to take pictures of it and even of the creating process so I can include that in his binder. I've just been kicking myself for the past year and a half that I haven't been protecting his drawings and creations! They usually get mixed in with his toys and torn or lost in the shuffle.

So, it's just a start, but at least I will have a landing place for papers, updates, pictures, and other things that I've never quite known where to put. I know it sounds pretty simple, but the simple ideas are usually the ones I can actually stick with!

Here are some pictures of the other project we did on my super motivated day. The laundry did not get done, the house was not cleaned, but we sure had fun!



Working on a fun leaf craft!




Cade was very particular about the colors for each body. He made one for each member of our family and one for each of his grandparents according to their favorite color.



The happy couple - Nick and I :)


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Knitted Baby




Sure is cold in here. But don't worry, the kids hardly notice because I keep them bundled up. I'm thinking of submitting these to some knitting magazine. Maybe Ava could become famous...at least among the knitting population.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I'm Baack!

Back online, that is! We are forever grateful to those who have made it possible for us to have the internet for the remainder of the school year. I'm sure I could have survived without it, but I'm glad we don't have to test that theory :)

So, we live in a giant old house that has 43 windows (thanks for counting, Dad. I never would have gotten around to it). We love the space but we're now realizing that we have to HEAT all
that space! And since our bedrooms and bathroom are upstairs and the laundry is in the basement, I get a pretty decent workout everyday, especially if Ava is strapped to me. It takes a lot of calculating, balance, and strength to get a baby and an overflowing basket of laundry from the upstairs to the basement without any injuries. That being said, we really need to find a good chiropractor here.

So Nick is pretty much gone all day. He leaves before we get up (about 7am) and gets home in time for dinner (about 6pm). [I have no idea what he does all day. :D I've heard he goes to classes for a few hours, eats his packed lunch, more classes, studies, plays a little soccer a couple times a week, goes to chapel a few times a day, meetings, co-op shopping.] After dinner he usually has school work, then he and Cade have their nightly routine of reading and praying and singing. Usually I'm putting Ava to sleep so I miss out on it, but sometime soon I'll sneak in and get some pictures. After Cade is in bed, Nick typically sits in Cade's room reading until Cade is asleep. Once Cade's asleep, Nick ventures downstairs to, yup, read some more. Though we don't get to spend much time together, I'm really proud of his focus and scheduling. We just got the timeline and paperwork to start going through to prepare for call this spring. I'm trying not to think about it..it's too nerve-racking!

THE KIDS

They have changed so much in the past month. Here they are passed out on the couch together on move-in day. Cade actually fell asleep eating dinner before we laid him on the couch. Ava passed out shortly after.
Notice he still has a cracker in his hand!

Cade had his 3rd birthday the week after we moved in. We had a great day. It was a Sunday so after church, lunch, and nap the festivities began. He awoke to balloons and streamers in the dining room. You would have thought it was decorated with gold and diamonds the way he went on and on about how beautiful it looked. Then we went and played putt putt golf with surprise visitors Grandma H and Aunt Hannah.
He usually had a good first putt and then on his next turn, he'd place the ball right next to the hole and tap it in. :D


After golfing we headed home for dinner of Annie's mac n cheese with tomatoes (his favorite) and cake! It was my first attempt at decorating a cake and it turned out well! He was so excited to sing happy birthday..to himself :) After dinner he opened presents and we all had a great time!

He's getting so big!

There have been so many new things going on since we moved just one month ago. Not only did he turn 3, but he's been learning and doing many new things. We have a library that is pretty close and we've been getting books on tape for him to listen to. Plugging headphones into the stereo turn it into a great opportunity for quiet time :)
Most days, Ava takes a nap in the morning and Cade and I are usually able to do something together. He had a lot of fun playing with pretend food at Grandma V's so I got the idea to make some out of cardboard. I'm not sure who was having more fun. Actually, I KNOW it was me! I cut pieces of bread, lettuce, cheese, eggs, avocado, veggies, etc. out of empty cardboard boxed. Also plates, a tray, silverware, and lots more. We even made an oven out of a box with knobs that turn. Fruits and popcorn were made out of 'magic nuudles' (basically packing peanuts). We keep adding to his 'kitchen' with empty single serving juice bottles, little cups, and whatever else we find and can recycle. He loves making people meals. I'll set up everything we made and post pictures sometime. Free, easy, fun, educational!! Painting his playfood (wearing a Minnie Mouse bib!)

Cade has suddenly started figuring out how to spell words. It started with him saying words and asking what it started with. Then we would help him sound out the first letter. Eventually he was just doing it on his own. I don't think we've ever even really worked on what the letters sound like other than using Starfall.com in the past. It seems to be working well that he is interested in this so young because at this age, they just accept things as fact and move on. There are so many tricky words that sound like they start with 's' but really start with 'c' or sound like 'k' but start with 'c'. He just askes what it starts with and doesn't seem to mind that it's confusing! Then one day he started hearing other letter sounds in words, usually the last letter. "Cccc, cccc, cat, cat, tttt, tttt...T!!" So then he was trying to figure out the other sounds and very quickly after that he was looking at a word and making each sound. The first word I remember him sounding out and then saying all by himself was 'milk'. I was so excited for him! He was (and still is) basically figuring it out all by himself. He's just using the nearest grownup as a resource :) Again, being young and just accepting things as they are, the silent 'e' isn't even causing a problem. When he sees a word he'll just ask "Is that 'e' quiet or does it make a sound?" IT'S SO CUTE!! He's even started asking if other letters are 'silent or quiet' (usually the letters he's asking about aren't silent, but it sure will make it easier when he finds words that do have other letters that are silent). A week ago he started asking me to spell words to him. He would look around and say "How do you spell book? How do you spell floor? How do you spell baby?". That caused me to remember something I had read in a book about teaching kids to read. We spent the rest of the morning labeling things in his bedroom! He was so excited and jumping around. I would write the word and sound it out as I wrote it or I would just hand the word to him and he would sound it out. A few he figured out all on his own. If it was tricky or he wasn't pronouncing it right, I would just sound it out and say the word without making a big deal. Then he would run to the right object and put the label on it. It was so much fun! Now he will go to a word and either just say it (because the he remembers that the label we put on his tractor says 'tractor') or he will sound out the letters to figure out the word. It's great because he has the added help of seeing them everyday and memorizing what the words look like. It was so much fun that the next day we put labels in the bathroom. And Nick used it as a 'learning opportunity' when he and Cade discovered that I had spelled 'toilet' wrong. Twice.















I hear him in his room running around to each label reading it or sometimes just sounding out the letters. It's so much fun and the labeling was free, easy, fun, and educational! Just like the playfood! And I didn't even plan it. He basically tells me what he is interested in and we find a way to make it work.



So another awesome thing that he has taught himself is coloring inside the lines. I have always struggled with watching him color! I would try to hide my frustration, but he would just scribble on the page or when we went to Toddler Time at the library, he was more concerned with making a few marks with EVERY crayon. Even at home he would ask me to color with him and he just wanted to scribble on several pages even though I wanted to work on a picture until it was complete! I don't think it was a matter of dexterity because he has been able to draw a few shapes and letters for a while. This was just one of those examples that every kid learns at his own pace and in his own way. And in Cade's case, he just kind of does it on his own! Today I wandered into his room where he was sitting very quietly at his table with a math book and crayon. He asked me what he was supposed to do on the page he had open in the book. "Color the object in each row that is the smallest." I stood there watching him carefully color a small butterfly. He completely filled in each tiny section of the wings with his crayon. At first I thought maybe it was just a one time thing, but then he moved onto the next row and again, carefully filled in the picture. I was shocked!! I couldn't get over it. I kept complimenting him and telling him how amazing he was doing. He really didn't seem to think it was a big deal, but I certainly did! So I did what any proud mama would do and I ran to get the camera!





Miss Ava. She always has a smile on her face. Even when she's fussing and cranky I can get her to give a big grin. She celebrated her 1/2 birthday last week. A few weeks ago she decided she could sit up all by herself! She still tips over sometimes, but she doesn't seem to mind because she rolls right onto her belly and starts swimming. I'm excited for her to start crawling. I know I'll probably regret saying that because that means we might have to learn how to baby proof! Cade was much older when he started moving around and he was able to understand 'no'. Plus we have 2 staircases here!














It's really fun having a little girl. I HATED wearing tights when I was little (heck, I still hate it) and vowed I would never do that to MY child. Yeah, every Sunday she wears them with a DRESS! Look at her, though. Clearly she doesn't mind. And they are nice and soft, not like the scratchy horrid things I had to wear :)



She loves chewing on EVERYTHING and seems to have exceptionally long arms. I call her my little clepto because she will swipe things off the table or counter and have it in her mouth before I even realize she can reach it.

A couple weeks ago we hung up what we call the jumper seat. She loves the freedom! And, as you can see, she's gotten pretty good at it. It's so hilarious to see such a tiny person hopping up and down.
video



Ava's spitting up problem has gotten MUCH better since I stopped eating dairy. She still spits up, but it's a normal amount and not so often now. So, hopefully she outgrows it because I really miss my chocolate and cheese.

As you can see in the picture waaay up at the top of the post, Ava loves her mei tai baby carrier. I got it for Cade 3 years ago on Ebay and it's been worth MORE than the $20 I paid for it. 85% of Ava's naps and bedtimes start in the mei tai. Maybe it's a bad habit that has started since she struggles to fall asleep if she's not in it, but it's also quite handy when I have things to do and can't spend much time trying to 'convince' her to go to sleep. It's fantastic; it takes the weight off my arms and spreads it across my back and hips so I can carry her much easier and for much longer!

No teeth yet, though I'm pretty sure she's been working on them for about 4 months now! Always chewing and slobbering.

Cade and Ava absolutely love each other. Cade loves 'watching her' for me and hugging her and making her laugh. Ava thinks he's the coolest thing. She always smiles at him and gets so excited when we see him after she's been sleeping.


So, I'm aware that this should have been like 5 separate posts, but I figured I'd take the whole day and update on the past few months! And if you really made it this far, geesh, you must actually be interested in my family, so I'll throw in a little about me! I'm really enjoying the scheduled life that Nick has, though I know it will soon be over and I'll never know when he's coming or going. I've started having somewhat of a schedule, too (gasp!) and I usually have dinner ready and waiting, or at least started by the time Nick gets home (double gasp!!!). I really used to just fly by the seat of my pants :) before. Typically it would be 7 pm and we'd all be hungry so then I'd start to come up with an idea for dinner. Not smart. Maybe someday I'll even start getting up before the kids so I can get things done. And then maaaaaybe even have a bedtime! Naawww.. I'm taking a seminary wives' class on Tuesday nights for 2 hours. It's been interesting and also a challenge because I bring Ava with me. We live about 25 minutes from the seminary, so it's a huge event, especially because it's dark when we come back and she doesn't appreciate riding in the dark. In my free time (read: time I should be doing housework or sleeping) I've jumped back into making polymer clay animals for my Etsy site. It's really enjoyable and I'll have to blog just about that sometime! Here's my newest group.
And here's a photo of my office. The picture really doesn't do it justice. It feels very open and when the blinds are up on a sunny day, fabulous. It's on the second story of our house so I like to sit and look out over the houses and people on our street. It's really a work in progress that may get finished right about the time we are ready to move out! My actual art desk is still in pieces and there is only one outlet in the room that has to be shared by my toaster oven, 2 lamps, and computer. I love it and hope I can have one just like it when we move again.

Well, thanks for reading all the way to the bottom, because I am SURE you did :) I'll be posting again soon and more often from now on. Promise.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Movin on out



Well, we did it. Nick officially completed his vicarage and rounded out the year + 6 weeks with Vacation Bible School. He put a lot of time and effort into VBS week and it truly was a memorable experience for everyone! No one will ever forget Diver Dan.


With the wonderful help of Nick's mom and grandpa, we were able to pack up our entire condo. Then with the help of about 12 church members we were able to jam it all into a 17 foot UHaul truck with no room to spare. We left Lowden, Iowa on Thursday morning after hours of running around cleaning and packing up the odds and ends.
Last breakfast in Lowden

We made it to a hotel in Fort Wayne by 9:30pm. Thankfully we allowed lots of time since we were traveling with kids. Friday morning Nick and my dad unloaded our truck (with the help of 2 others) into a temporary storage unit. Then we all headed over to our house that we will be renting for this coming school year. We met our landlord and lady and even our neighbors. The house has 3 bedrooms and lots of space. It is fully furnished, so we are still trying to decide what to do with all of our belongings. It's really beautiful with lots of windows, some stained glass.

Dining room with amazing stained glass window and awesome table.


On to Ohio. We left our rental house and headed to mom and dad's. Unfortunately, mom got sick right before she was supposed to get on the plane with dad to come out to Iowa. So, we stopped in to visit a little bit but we stayed outside so her germs wouldn't get us :) We spent the night at Matt and Heather's. They had a campfire and grilled vegetables straight from the garden. It was fabulous. Finished it off with s'mores, of course. Saturday morning we returned our UHaul truck and kept heading east to Wellington. We will be on this side of the state for 1 1/2 weeks and then we'll head back to mom and dad's for a few weeks.
In the car, again.


It's been quite the week. So much change and stress. It's nice to see family and have help with the kids, but it's also difficult not having a home to be settled into. We will move into the house the end of August and Nick will start school the 2nd week of September. I've heard the last year of seminary flies by and I'm already looking forward to spring.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Camp IoDisECa


Nick was asked last week to come and be 'Vicar of the Week' at summer camp - Iowa District East Camp. The whole family was invited, so we left Sunday after church and will be here until Friday afternoon. It's been quite the experience with 2 small children, but hopefully we've been a positive influence on the 50ish teenagers here this week. Their days are scheduled very well and it seems like such an awesome place to meet new friends and have fun. Morning prayers start at 7:30 (which Nick leads) and the campfire ends the day at 9:30. I've spent a lot of time in our room because Ava is sleeping a ton. Cade is having a blast running around doing things and hanging out with the big kids. Hopefully Ava and I can go with Nick and Cade the next time they visit the horses and ride canoes so we can get pictures! I'm also trying to sneak a picture of Nick leading the prayer services at the Amphitheater. I've only made it to about half of the services because of Ava's sleeping 'schedule' (she sleeps when she's tired!). While it's been stressful (I'm learning that most everything in life is once you have children), it's been such a neat opportunity to be here and meet wonderful people and see the time they invest in putting together a great program for these kids. It's also been nice to have 3 square meals a day prepared for us and no dishes to wash!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Shh, don't wake mom...

'What's that?' you ask.





'Has Cade started going gray??'










Juuuust taking care of making breakfast while Mom is still asleep. "Mom, that sugar powder and those chocolate things taste really yummy."

And now I shall no longer sleep soundly.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sponge Boy Square Parents

Here we are, one month from leaving our vicarage in Iowa, trying not to panic at the amount of packing that will be taking place soon. I have been so preoccupied with learning to balance meeting the very different needs of two children that all of a sudden we are preparing to leave. Today I also realized that my son has changed so very much in the past few months. Physically, he looks like a young boy, rather than the toddler that is in all the pictures we took of him before Ava was born. Emotionally, he seems to be trying to learn how to deal with the roller coaster that takes place in children from time to time. He's no longer the center of attention and he had to learn real patience overnight when Ava was born. He's so independent now it scares me. I never used to worry much when we went to public places because he always wanted to be right by us. Two days ago at Walmart, he showed me just how much he has changed. He wandered up and down aisles and walked out in front of other people's carts. He played on an abandoned clothes rack for several minutes, never once looking to see where we were (out of his view, about 15 feet away). He would run down the aisle so far ahead of us that people would look at him, wondering to whom he belonged. I found myself wondering the same thing. The questions he asks leave me googling for answers. He started asking 'what time is it?' a few months ago. As confusing as it is to say 'It's 12:35' on a clock that only has the numbers from 1-12, he still seems to be figuring out the minutes. A few days ago I counted a couple of times by fives up to 60, hoping to prepare him for learning how the minutes work on the clock. Today I randomly started counting "5, 10, 15, 20" and he jumped in "25, 40!". Hey, close enough for me! Nick said it's probably best for him to be able to count past 20 before teaching counting by 5's, but some may also say it's best for a child to be able to read before teaching them about verbs and nouns. Yeah, he just 'gets' those, too. Last week at the library I picked up a book called 'To toot, to root, to parachute'. I didn't even look through it, the title made it a must-have for me :) Anyhow, it turned out to be a fun rhyming book of all verbs. After reading it once, he understood verbs. Nick then gave a few examples of nouns and he was able to differentiate between a verb and a noun. Luckily 'A mink, a fink, a skating rink' was available at the library today. They also have pronoun, adverb, adjective, and synonym books. I had no intention of teaching him these advanced concepts (for a 2 year old, ok, advanced for ME!) but it just happened! He totally takes it in stride and thinks nothing of it. Because it's just completely normal to tell me "It's quarter til 5 mom" and then go and make a diamond and a trapezoid on the floor with golf balls. God has truly blessed him with a wonderful mind and I can't wait to see what our little sponge will absorb next.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Family

Sunny Sunday afternoon