October 31, 2014

oh and btw, happy halloween!


It's been a while, eh? Almost two months. Nothing much to report on truthfully.

School is going quite well for Lovie. She still loves it. We still love it. Her teacher is constantly telling us how smart she is and the other day she started compiling a list of kids she wants to invite to her FIFTH birthday party (in less than two months #omgholdme). She sat there and sounded out each name and wrote down the letters that corresponded with the sound. I was quite impressed. She's also been impressing me with her reading lately. In addition to sight words and other words she knows from memorization, most of her reading is still figuring out the words with the picture, but she totally gets sounding out the words when I tell her to LOOK at the word.

It's pretty awesome. She's pretty awesome. And pretty. ;)


***
We went on vacation last week. We drove from Chicago to (near) Clearwater Florida. The drive down wasn't so fun. Lovie got carsick twice on the first day. What should've taken us 11 hours, took us 17 that first day. But the second day went much smoother. And of course the time spent in Florida was nothing shy of fabulous. Really and truly.



Now I'm generally NOT a sun and hot weather person. In fact, I hate it. But if you can get me right. on. the. ocean. I'm game. And that's what we did. We found a condo to rent that was RIGHT on the water. The view, the price, it was all just too much to pass up. We laid around in the sun and swam in the ocean the majority of the time. We also went on a pirate cruise (which I'd recommend anyone to do- especially if you have kids). On the last day, we left the condo at 10AM (checkout time) and headed to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium... home of Winter the dolphin.




This place was really and truly fabulous, and a great way to spend our last day of vacation. I have never in all my life encountered a place where every single employee was SO nice. And if you've seen the Dolphin Tale movies, you absolutely MUST visit this place with your kids. Worth every penny.


***
Next up is preparing for the holidays and Lovie's birthday (in less than two months #omgholdme). We already know where it's going to be and what we'll be doing, but I do still need to book it. I'm actually super excited about this party as it's not a jumpy house. Not that anything is wrong with jumpy houses, Lovie LOVES them and had her last two parties at them. I just think what we have planned, if pulled off, will be super damn fun and cute and memorable. You only turn five once, right? Why not make it a memorable one?


September 22, 2014

girl.

I wasn’t supposed to be a mom to a girl.


But.

Not a day goes by that I’m not eternally grateful that not only am I a mom, but I’m a mom to a girl. 



When I found out Lovie was a girl, I honestly was a little disappointed. Not a lot. Not even enough to mention, truthfully; but if I’m honest, I would have to reveal that yes, there was a tinge of disappointment that she would not be a he. It’s just that, in the moment the ultrasound tech told us “it was a girl”, I had this vomit-inducing image of all kinds of pink crap. And high-pitched squeals. And dresses, painted nails, Barbie dolls, etc.

Like I said it was sincerely a fleeting moment that was over as soon as I realized that my baby was HEALTHY and that I was going to finally become a mom.


The first year of Lovie’s life was great. I mean, it’s always been great. Of course, there are always moments when it’s exhausting or whatnot but overall, being Lovie’s mom is the absolute greatest gift I’ve ever been given. I feel like I’m the luckiest person in the world having her as my child. And during that first year of her life when she wasn’t able talk much or have opinions of her own, it wasn’t too difficult to avoid the pink invasion I fretted over when I first learned she’d be a Girl.

Then she turned one.



And she got gifted her very first baby doll, which she toted around for months.




And it was the sweetest thing I had ever in all my life seen: My sweet little baby doll loving on her very own baby doll.

Soon it became clear that no matter how neutral we made Lovie’s surroundings, clothes, toys… she was all girl.

She is all girl.




My Lovie is absolutely every single thing I envisioned the moment I found out she was a girl.


Thank God.

September 12, 2014

under the stars and moon


The other day Lovie asked for help on her journal. Our journal. She asked me how to spell some words, how to write the date. She asked for suggestions on what else to write after she completed the first part: 

I love you Mama. 
I love you under the stars and moon.



Other than help her spell You and Under (and that there's an E at the end of Love), she did the rest. (The date in the upper right hand corner is my writing--I was writing upside down, which isn't so easy.)

After she was done writing and drawing pictures of the moon and stars, she asked what else she should write.

I suggested she draw a picture.

She then drew me (left) and her (center), then drew Daddy (right).

Originally she drew us without feet so when I asked about our feet, she added them-- including the toes, which made me chuckle as she deliberately counted out five toes for each of us. : )

I'm so glad I decided to do this journal.


September 4, 2014

let's talk about ssss

...school. SCHOOL. 

Let’s talk about SCHOOL (I know there are some dirty birds out there who thought of a different word starting with the letter S, thanks to a certain super early 1990’s hit by Salt-n-Pepa), baby.

Lovie started the official school year on Tuesday. I say official because she’s been attending this (Montessori) school since early July, but she was in their summer programs which was much more relaxed than the regular school year. Purportedly.

I tried making a bigger deal out of the new school year than it was. Even Lovie was like, “I’m going to another new school?!”

No, kid. You just have a few days off (end of last week), then you start the new school year at the same school in a different class.

“Kindergarten!”

Nope. You’re too young still.

“But you said I’d be going to Kindergarten!”

I was wrong. I thought you were, but because your birthday is so late, you can’t.

“That’s not fair, I wanna go to Kindergarten!”

I want you to, too. And you will. Just not this year.

“But I’m not a napper anymore! And I’m not a baby so why do I have to go with the babies?”

You’re not going in with the babies, there will be others your age and some a year or two younger, but they’re not babies.

“They don’t know anything so they’re babies!”

This is your time to help them learn, honey. You’ll be able to show others how to do things and they’ll be so grateful for your help.




Inside, I was a bit pissed truth be told. We were emailed that children turning five before the end of the year had the option to go into Kindergarten or stay in preschool. At first I thought maybe we would be rushing it if we chose Kindergarten but the fact is that she spent the summer with all the “older kids” anyway. She was already doing all the work the Kindergarteners would be doing come Tuesday. So Taye and I were in agreement to go ahead and put her into Kindergarten. We even were sent a supply list of items for her to bring along on her first day of Kindergarten.

Then a week later, as I’m standing in the playground adjacent to the school building in which they play, waiting for Lovie to play a “few more minutes”, the head of the school comes to me and tells me that Lovie will be starting in Preschool because of her late birthday and because of the state law. Yes, I get the law business and all, but why tell us we have the option a couple weeks prior? (The school communicates primarily via email newsletter so I know the answer.) She went on to say that if Lovie had been attending their school for a year or more (opposed to the daycare/preschool she was in) instead of just two months, we would’ve had the option to put her into Kindergarten.

So, long story short: 

Lovie started the (pre)school year on Tuesday. And honestly, even though all her friends she made over the summer are in the other, older classroom, she still couldn’t be happier.

She’s still all smiles. Every single day.

She wasn’t a miserable child prior to Montessori, but honest to god, she’s a changed child since starting Montessori. She’s always smiling. She’s always happy. She’s always helpful. She’s always kind.

Yes, she has her 4-and-half-going-on-14-and-a-half-year-old moments, but it’s truly mind boggling to me how happy she generally is.




Kindergarten or not, Montessori is definitely the right path for Lovie. I feel so lucky to have discovered this path and blessed to be able to take the adventure alongside her.


August 22, 2014

images from last weekend



Sorting beads. I've been looking into ways to strengthen Lovie's grip so that writing may come a bit more easier to her and, in the meantime, discovered she LOVES beads. So we bought a ton the other week and last weekend, we sorted all of them by animals, "jewels", plain beads, teddy bears. This took some time to do and it was a lovely way to do something that didn't involve the damn television. Can't wait for her to start making necklaces, etc.

The infamous IKEA Kura bed. We've had it for a couple years now but just now finally turned it so that it's a loft bed and Lovie's in love with it! She says the area under her bed is her secret hiding spot. We (she and I) even have a secret password, just for the two of us, when it's time to go into the secret hide-out. :)

Probably my most favorite activity to date. I wrote and drew with white crayon on white paper and then Lovie painted with water colors over the paper to discover words and shapes, etc. Oh my was this a blast. So much fun. She couldn't get enough of it and I can't wait to do more. And again, another activity that didn't involve the TV. 

August 14, 2014

journal writing: the kid edition

While I'm trying super hard not to be too pushy about this, I'm super dang excited about Lovie learning to read and write. She knows how to spell several words and write them. For the most part. She can also figure out what a lot of easy words are by looking at the first letter of the word as well as the the image nearby. She's a smart cookie and I'm confident she'll be a reader and writer in no time...But I'm anxious.

I am. I don't know why exactly, but the idea of her reading and writing excites me so much. I just can't wait for it all to click. I can't wait for her to start thumbing through books. I can't wait for her to write notes unprompted. I just can't wait.

That said, the kid is only 4 (and a half!).

I want her to really enjoy being 4 and 5 and 6 and....

I want her to play and dance and sing and color and paint and fart and giggle and make bubbles when drinking. I want her to retain that innocence as long as she can. I have no desire to rush anything... I'm just super excited about reading and writing.

Enter the Mama and Me journal.



I got the idea via this pin one day while wasting time on Pinterest, and while Lovie's not really a writer and reader quite yet, I thought why not start this? She could draw pictures or get help to write something. Or she could just let it sit until the day came when she could read and write on her own.

One day last week we were talking about letters or reading or something and I mentioned the idea of the journal and how I thought it could be fun to do-- write letters to one another in a journal, just for us, and put them under the other person's pillow when it's their turn. She seemed kind of excited about it, but not horribly so, so I didn't bring it up again. Instead I printed out a cover image for a notebook I already had and started thinking about what I wanted to write and how I wanted to approach it.

I finally wrote the letter yesterday and stuck it under her pillow while she was watching TV after school. My intention was for her to discover it on her own and figure it out but then, out of the blue, while we snuggled on the couch just before bed, she said, "Hey me-member you said you would get a journal to write in and put under my pillow?"

Oh the smile that washed over my face as I nodded and whispered, "Why don't you go look under your pillow now?"

She looked up at me with such glee and ran off to her bedroom where I could hear an exuberant shriek quickly followed by the sound of her feet running against the hardwood floor back toward the living room. I thought her face might break from smiling so much as she handed the book to me and asked me what it said.




I read it to her, of course, and when I was done she immediately demanded I tell her what to write.

I laughed and told her she didn't have to write anything if she didn't want to, that she could even draw a picture. I reiterated that the journal was for whatever we wanted to share with each other. Well, she continued to demand that I tell her how to spell certain words. And when she was all done, about twenty minutes later, she dashed off to my bedroom, demanding I keep my eyes closed (even though she wrote her letter directly on top of me and I already knew what it said: Hi Mama I Love You So Much).

After I put her to bed, I went in my bedroom and opened the book and looked at her writing more closely. Her big smiley happy faces and rounded hearts made my eyes well up. She ran out of room signing her name so she had to put the last letter in front of the first letter, which made me laugh out loud.

I wrote her a little note back and tucked it under her pillow this morning before I left for work. When it's my turn to journal again, I plan on taping this photo of us I took yesterday while watching TV:

(could she look any less interested/exhausted. oh but she's not tired, oh no!!)


I will cherish this book (and hopefully many more to come) for ever and always.




August 11, 2014

still Living La Vida Montessori

Last week was the first full week of Summer Session II, Lovie's 5th week at Montessori. Everything is still fabulous. It gets old writing all positives but hey, it sure beats all negative stuff, eh?

Lovie brought home her journal Friday before last and it was full of letters and numbers and pictures, including one page which kind of blew me away.



I've never heard of this.

Sure I've seen the design and I probably have heard "quatrefoil" in my life, but not enough to stick in my brain. So seeing this in my 4 year old's notebook... well, clearly I had to take a picture of it and post it on Facebook to let everyone know how I'm being schooled by my 4 year old.

Seriously though, this is truly how the past five weeks have been. All a fantastic, wonderful learning experience that I'm trying to bring into our home as well.

We still watch a lot of TV during our downtime, but I've cleared a lot of the clutter out of our home and made more hands-on toys (play-doh, markers, paints, scissors, glue) more accessible to Lovie at any time she wants. I've even bought some beads and pipe cleaners (love the Dollar Tree) to see if Lovie would be interested in doing some crafting (and strengthening of her fine motor skills to maybe help her write better) while TV watching, and, unsurprisingly, she gobbled it up and is now a maker of bead bracelets.


Yesterday we all stopped at Michael's and spent well over $100 on craft supplies including more beads, stickers, drawing paper, etc. When we got home, we watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (fun movie) and crafted. Lovie was quite upset because the first thing she wanted to buy--purple glitter glue--was forgotten at the store, but after she got over that, she went to town with stickering up an empty toilet paper roll which we then turned into a flower vase--complete with flowers made from pipe cleaners.

Who have we become?

August 1, 2014

Living La Vida Montessori

Yesterday was the last day of Summer Session I at Lovie's Montessori school. Today is the end of week four Living La Vida Loca Montessori.

Things are still going quite smoothly. There has been a definite change in our home. Things weren't bad before, but they are just really awesome now.


Goodbye playroom overrun with abundance of annoying toys

It was during her first week at Montessori, that I went home right after work instead of picking her up right away, and loaded up almost all of her toys that she doesn't play with. Three, industrial sized black plastic bags and two tubs later, her playroom was transformed into ... tranquility.



All of these removed toys still are in the house- and in her bedroom's closet, as a matter of fact. She hasn't asked for ONE item. It's been four weeks and it's like she has no idea the toys are missing! HIZZAH! Soon I can start sneaking out bags to Goodwill.


Goodbye long drawn-out bedtimes

It was during her second week at Montessori, when she officially moved into the room where nobody naps, that bedtimes became... unbelievably... dream-like... easy. She's just so exhausted from all the work she does at school and not napping, that she's been falling asleep within minutes of laying down and me telling her a story. And there's never any kind of stalling for some water or going to the bathroom or hugging the cat or or or.


Hello beautiful, relaxing endings to our days

It's not that things weren't always like this-- where we just hung out after work and school. But it's just so super different now. So much more calming.


Maybe it's because she's really tired. Maybe it's because I lost a couple hours time being with her every day since she's no longer in the car with me commuting (school is two minutes from home now instead of 40-60), so I'm really trying to soak up every moment of our time together, but honestly, every day after work and school is so awesome and chill.






July 25, 2014

week three of Montessori

Here we are closing out week three of Montessori and, yet again, we're all smiles around here.


Lovie's still in the bigger kid class (4-6 year old) and it only makes sense. I think they had her in with the under 4's that first week because she was brand new to Montessori, but once they discovered how much she knows, they moved her on up. In fact she told me just yesterday that they have a new student in her class but he's just new from the other class... and he's four, too. (That's why I'm guessing they start new-to-Montessori kids in with the younger kids.)

This week she's been doing a lot of punching activity.

No, they don't have her practicing to become Layla Ali. They're having her pin-punch to strengthen her grip to hold a pencil and write.

I'd never heard of this before this week so I did some researching into it and it's quite badass, really. The other day when I picked her up, she forgot something in her room, so we went in and she pointed to a picture on a wall, "That's one of the toys in the room!"  It's was a pin-punching of the Pink Tower that a student did! I read somewhere else during my discovery of pin-punching, that one student (not sure where or when) was so fascinated with pin-punching States that she spent weeks on a project of pin-punching out every single State of the US- and glue each of them onto a map!

Most of what Lovie punched this week were shapes like rectangles and squares but then one day she came home with a punched shape of South Africa! And I guess they sing some Continent song that she really wants me to learn so we can sing it together. And did I know that Australia was a continent?

All the reports I get back tell me she's a great listener and especially loves to help out at lunch. And when I ask Lovie about that she gets all excited telling me about how she's able to set out real plates and real cups and help cut with a real knife and serve real food.

Anyway, week three has been fantastic-- just like the other two. Probably even more so actually, because now when I pick her up, she's playing with several children instead of just the one 6-year-old she had befriended. In fact, she hasn't mentioned much about said 6-year-old.

And bedtimes are still a freaking unbelievable dream. Every single night, she's snoring away within minutes of me starting to tell her a story. And absolutely NO arguments at when bedtime is.

July 21, 2014

DGMETT Blueberry Cobbler: YUM!

Trust me on this. Really.



I followed this recipe along with the advice from one of the reviewers and it's just so so so easy and SO DAMN TASTY. Really.

Ingredients
• 6 tablespoons butter
• 3/4 cup + 1 Tb. all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 cup milk

• 3 cups frozen blueberries
• 1 Tb. sugar

Directions
• Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position, and heat oven to 350 degrees.
• Put butter in an 8-inch square or 9-inch round pan; set in oven to melt. When butter has melted and browned a little, remove pan from oven.
• Whisk flour, 3/4 cup of sugar, baking powder and salt in small bowl. 
• Add milk; whisk to form a smooth batter.
• Add blueberries to butter in pan. 
• Pour batter atop berries.
• Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tb. of sugar.
• Bake until batter browns and fruit bubbles, 50 to 60 minutes.

Let cool a bit before diving in. I ate this without any ice cream but holy cannoli I can imagine how awesome a scoop of vanilla would be atop this warmed cobbler!