Monday, October 30, 2006

God feels the same way

I've been struggling lately with encouraging a positive attitude in my dear daughter when it comes to cleaning. Occasionally, when I ask her to pick up some toys or her room, she is cheerful and just says, "Ok, mom!" Occasionally. Most of the time there is sighing, sometimes crying, and always some comment about her legs cracking/breaking/crumbling or her being "too tired". She does end up doing what I ask, but not with a joyful spirit. Tonight, after Rick put her to bed, he said, "I just don't know what to do with THAT one. I mean, that BEHAVIOR. It's almost driving me nuts!" And I replied by saying, "I bet sometimes God feels the same way about us." (If you reread his words from God's perspective, you'll see what I mean.) Good to remember when dealing with our little blessings!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Saugatuck & Lemonade

I've been meaning to post for a few days now, but just have been enjoying the family, keeping the home in order, and yesterday I think the blogger server was down. So I'm finally getting a chance to do it now!

Our anniversary trip to Saugatuck, MI turned out to be enjoyable. After dropping the kids off in Chicago to stay with my dad & step-mom, we fought several hours of traffic to leave the city. It didn't help that many streets were closed due to set-up for the Chicago Marathon. Plus side was I did nap a bit on the way up. Kudos to my wunderbar hubby for driving there (& back)! So we get to our "cottage" & that is when the lemonade making begins. The proverbial kind. Our cottage was NOT like the other ones pictured on their business website. I'm beginning to think they don't have photos posted of this particular unit for a reason. I would NOT have made a reservation for this unit if I would've seen what it looked like. I just assumed it would look similar to the other ones pictured. I was so disappointed. Of course being the perfectionist that I am, I wanted the weekend to be...well...perfect. Our cottage had carpet, the others had hardwood. Ours had a 70's kitchen & furniture, the others did not. Our bedrooms had floral "grandma-like" bedspreads (no offense meant to my grandma readers), the others did not. Hey, at least the bathrooms had been updated. And it did have a fireplace like I was promised. So, I made lemonade out of my lemons. Not easy for a type-A personality to do.

The town was great! We walked around the entire town on Saturday morning & drove north to Holland and walked around their awesome downtown as well! Lots of little quirky shops & restaurants. I came across two (2!) spice shops & several specialty food shops. If you're local to me, it was kinda like Lake Geneva, only bigger & better. We hit several coffee shops throughout the weekend & spent lots of time relaxing in front of our cottage fireplace. It was very refreshing & great to escape the mundane household tasks & get a change of scenery. Photos from our trip:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

8 years and counting

On Sunday night, I could not fall asleep. I tossed and turned for awhile & then stayed up using the internet til 2 am. It reminded me of exactly 8 years ago on October 15, 1998. I couldn't sleep that night but for a very different reason. It was the night before my wedding and my mom, brother and I all slept in the same room together for my last night at home. I tossed & turned and actually thought I might have to send my mom to the store for sleeping pills...

Fast forward to today. I am still telling Rick that I'm so glad he picked me. I didn't know then that he would be such a good fit for me. There were people who thought we probably wouldn't stay married this long. Guess we proved them wrong. There is still no one who I would rather discuss things with, laugh with, raise kids with, love. We are going away this weekend to Saugatuck, MI to celebrate. I am so looking forward to time away with my dear hubby, no kids, no housework, nothing pulling me in a million different directions. Just me & the one I love!

Here's to you, babe! Can't wait to see what is in store for the next 8!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Planning Overload!

Anyone else out there tired of planning like I am? I have been planning new cleaning lists for better household management, planning my cooking sessions, homeschool planning (although I *do* have a new PLAN for my planning *rolls eyes*), planning the family's social calendar, AND now, holiday planning. Who's house we'll go to for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas day, who to shop for, how much $$ to spend on gifts, planning how many Christmas cards I'll need, oh, and MENUS! This is one thing that I never tire of PLANNING! All this planning has me wondering: do I ever really enjoy the events or I am just busy planning the next item on my list? The dear husband requested that I not do any *planning* on Sundays so I can better enjoy our family time, so now I have to plan when to do my PLANNING. All this planning is driving me nuts! {Have you ever said a word over and over and over again, until it sounds weird & you're not even sure that's really how the word is supposed to sound? After this post, the word planning is sounding totally unnatural.} I do realize that the planning does help, A LOT. The more things I can write down or have in lists, the less things I have to remember. Tatiana seems like a real planner to me. I have never known another child this young to have picked a birthday theme (in August '05) and not changed her mind and had said birthday theme in July 2006. She has been telling me all day about the different themes of birthdays she is considering, all the way up until she turns twelve. Although, I'm not sure when she is 11 she will still want a Toy Story 2 birthday (complete with Jesse, Woody, the Prospector & all the "toys"). Maybe planning is genetic. I guess only my mom & dad can confirm that one for sure.....

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Raising a reader

I wasn't planning on teaching Tatiana to read at the tender age of 5. I thought that children learned to read when they were a bit older, like 8. Isn't she still supposed to be learning her ABC's? When did all this growing up happen? We went to Lowe's one day about 4 months ago. She asked me what a word on a sign read. I told her "authentic", then she proceeded to read, "Authentic colors for today's lifestyle." I mean, without help. Just matter of factly. Um, ok. I figured it was time for "formal" reading instruction. Several people have recently inquired/questioned/marveled at her reading ability and asked me what my magic reading formula is. No magic here! After some thought, however, I realized that there may be some things that I have done to set her up for success, which I thought I would share. Whether you are schooling at home or not, your child may greatly benefit from some of these suggestions.

1. Reading out loud. A LOT.
We have always had books available since Tatiana was born, even before that, actually. {Rick read The Chronicles of Narnia to Tatiana while she was still in the womb.} Cloth books, board books, lift-the-flap books, textured books. Store signs, menus, sales flyers. Anything! I will pretty much stop whatever it is I'm doing if one of my children wants to read. I value reading that highly. We have made reading stories part of our bedtime routine since T was a toddler. And we still read them today. Anytime of day. Over and over if necessary. And although this is sometimes irritating to the parent, having the books memorized comes in handy for those seasons of sleep deprivation...

2. Talking about letters/words/sounds
We discuss letters and sounds often, at home, out shopping, riding in the car. When she was first learning the letters, we would look for specific letters wherever we were. "Let's look for the letter A!" You could start with helping your child recognize the letters in his name. Then we progressed to discussing words that start with the same sound, like "b". Now we talk about rhyming words, opposites, etc.

3. Tactile letters
Having your child feel the letters reinforces their shape. The famous letter magnets are perfect for this. How about wooden letter puzzles? We also used to have foam letters for the bathtub. Other ideas include having your child trace letters in a pan filled with cornmeal, sand, or pudding (if you're really daring). I also came across this idea recently: write a large upper/lowercase letter on an index card, then laminate the card. Using playdough, have your child roll the dough into a rope then lay it out on top of the card in the shape of the letter. I can't wait til Sienna is old enough for this one. Sounds like fun!

4. LeapFrog Products
I really think LeapFrog products are wonderful! I have personally seen the DVDs, The Talking Letter Factory & The Talking Words Factory, make letters and the sounds they make come to life for Tatiana. I recommended The Talking Letter Factory to another mother and her daughter learned all to recognize all the letters of the alphabet quickly as well. These educational videos really make learning fun & use lots of "word pictures" to make letters and their sounds easy to remember. We have since moved on to the Storybook Factory....

5. Remember that reading is not natural and builds concept upon concept.
Reading is not like talking. You can't just hear someone do it over and over and then pick it up yourself. It takes work. To some children it comes easily, to others it proves to be more difficult. Also, it happens in steps (at least from what I have seen). First your child must be comfortable with recognizing the letters themselves before they can move on to what sounds the letters make. Once familiar with the sounds, they'll be able to start putting one or more sounds together.

6. Computer games
Sometimes animation and games makes learning all the more fun! Two websites I especially like are this one and this one. The second one has activities for all levels of readers.

Remember to relax and be patient. Children will learn to read when they are ready. Don't make them feel bad if they are not as fast to read as their peers or as fast as YOU would like them to be. Give them plenty of opportunities to learn, however, and most of all, make it fun! ;-)

Friday, October 06, 2006


We have a new pet. Tatiana named him Dot. He is the perfect pet for our family.

He does not shed.

He does not make any loud noises.

He does not require any special food or vaccinations.

He does not take up much room or require much upkeep.

Here he is:

I'm amazed that the picture came out as well as it did through the magnification of the top glass.
Overnight he did spin a bunch of web in the jar. We unexpectedly stopped by a garage sale on our morning walk & found a book with this exact spider on the cover, titled "Amazing Spiders", for a quarter. What a find! I don't think, however, that we will keep him for very long because, quite frankly, he creeps me out. Rick even more so than I!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Coming Soon to a School District Near You...

I'm sure some of you don't believe me when I mention things that are going on in today's government school arena. Here is an article I came across this morning that I thought you may find interesting. It details how the Philadelphia school district is including Gay & Lesbian History Month slated for celebration this October of the 2006-2007 school year. I'm sure the contributions of homosexuals will be portrayed in a positive light and I'm willing to bet the negative effects of this lifestyle will be excluded. Despite strong reactions from upset parents, the school district will press on. Another good reason to protect our little ones' hearts and minds!