3 on the 3 of November

octkids

 

Photos by our good friend, Katie Carrington

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3 years on our Favorite Rock

3 years on rock collageI am with my kids every single day and sometimes it’s hard to see their growth and their change from day to day. But when I step back and look past the days and into the years it becomes startlingly clear–

the days go slow but the years fly by.

How’s Homeschool?

We are in the midst of our sixth week of first grade at home for Ladybug. I definitely have photo (42)moments of both What the heck are we doing? and This is amazing, I’m so glad we are doing this! 

One thing I have appreciated so much about home school is the flexibility. Last week I had a couple of funky days and a few things didn’t get done, but it was no problem to draw a little arrow on my calendar and get them done this week instead. This past Tuesday (the first day of public school for first graders here), we took off for the beach for the day and it was awesome to have the place to ourselves since everyone else was in school. One day a few weeks ago we packed up our school books and did our work at Starbucks– so we are definitely enjoying (and taking advantage of!) the flexibility!

photo (40)We started out with some poor attitude and eye-rolling from Ladybug, but we have worked through that (I hope…) and have pretty much established a good now-I-am-the-teacher and now-I-am-the-mom routine.

It has hit me more than once, that as soon as Stinkbug starts Kindergarten at home next year things will be much different than they are now with just one at home. It’s kinda like that panic you have when you’re pregnant with your second child and realize you have NO CLUE what to do with two kids at the same time. We’ll figure it out, but I am soaking in the calm before the multiple-kids-in-home-school storm.

The boys are attending a local preschool three mornings a week, so that is when the bulk of our home schooling takes place. On Monday mornings, Hubby hangs out with the boys while we do school. We are aiming for four days of home school a week, and the fifth day has been for any “spill over” work that we didn’t get to finish. I really like having this buffer day to finish things up.

Ladybug is taking private Turkish lessons once a week, and she will begin ballet (also once a week) in October. She would like to play soccer on a team, but we are still looking into photo (43)the possibility of this.

I have been pleased with all our curriculum choices so far this year. RightStart Math is very non-traditional, using manipulatives and games to teach and review concepts. I really like it and so does Ladybug. Our science choice, R.E.A.L Science Odyssey has also been very hands-on, and I am a fan. The boys usually do science with us, and they have also joined in for some of the history from Story of the World.

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I cannot say enough good things about Explode the Code, which I wasn’t sure about and bought on a whim. It has really strengthened Lady in phonics and carefully reading whole words (she was a big word-guesser before). It really shows the importance of every letter– stall and small are very different words with only one little difference! Our spelling curriculum, All About Spelling is also really helping her grow and I have been amazed at how involved it is. I just realized they also have a reading program, and I am planning to order it for after Christmas (when we should be done with Explode the Code and Beyond the Code.)

I see a definite interest forming in reading– it’s not as much of a chore anymore. She is really enjoying Cam Jansen books and we have family members on the hunt for them at secondhand book stores!

One of my favorite parts of our home school day is the time set aside for Bible reading andphoto (44) prayer at the beginning of the day. Ladybug is reading Jesus Calling for Kids (I read it to her usually, and then she looks up the verses in the Bible, journals, and prays for the people she has listed on prayer cards.) It is just sweet to see her finding things in the Bible, asking questions about what words and verses mean. Truly, it has been a blessing to start each school day with the emphasis in the right place.

Overall, our first grade home school experience is going really well. I am pleased with Ladybug’s progress and we are actually having a lot of fun together!

If you’re a home schooling mom in need of encouragement, check out my friend Jess’ post Letter to a Homeschool Mom.

My Baby Girl is Six Today

Dear Ladybug,

Happy Mother's Day+ Two Days

What in the world…?! I can hardly fathom that you were placed in my arms six years ago today! I have so much I want to tell you, so much my heart wants you to know.

I want to tell you how beautiful you are. You have your own sense of style that just knocks me out. I miss picking your clothes out for you, but I love watching you try out your own combinations of outfits, rock cowboy boots with everything, add jewelry and accessories as you see fit. I love it. Keep rocking it girl, don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t have style.

witholivia

I want you to know I know how smart you are. I have been amazed as I’ve heard the vocabulary you’ve chosen to use sometimes! Your diligent persistence at reading this year has paid off and you’re doing amazingly! I love hearing you talk about and explain the world to your brothers and your knowledge about spiritual things is stunning. You have a big beautiful brain and you’re doing a great job exercising it, stretching it, and learning all you can about the world– you go girl!

It's only cosmetic...I love your sensitive heart. You sense needs in others that I’m not sure they realize themselves. I appreciate your willingness to help and serve.

I adore your smile, your laugh, your quickness to make a joke.

I think you are an awesome friend. You are fiercely loyal and very generous with those you hold dear.

I love that you love our family. You enjoy every moment with your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousin. You are quick to point out how lovely it is to all be together. You love game nights, movie nights, hiking and all sorts of adventures with your dad, your brothers and me.

There are so many things I cherish about you, Ladybug. Thanks for being my daughter, myDSC_0133 sweet first gift from the Lord.

Love always and forever,

Mommy

But I am like a green olive tree
    in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
    forever and ever. (Psalm 52:8)

On Due Dates and Growing Up

Dearest Ladybug,

IMG_0434Today was your “due date” six years ago. (Let’s all notice that your sixth birthday is not for 13 more days making me a very uncomfortable, impatient lady six years ago…) As I reflect on the past six years I am blown away by how much you have changed. And how much I have changed as well.

Two days ago you got your ears pierced and as I watched you pinch your face up in IMG_1612anticipation of the moment, my heart ached. You looked so big and yet so small in that chair all by yourself. My eyes leaked a little (maybe it was slightly more than a little) because I was so proud and so sad all at once.

Motherhood is this whole big jumble of juxtaposition. I love having babies, and I want them to transition well to full-sized humanhood, but then I miss holding my sweet milk-breathed, soft skinned, fuzzy-headed, smelling-like-baby-wash little ones. I want you to grow up well and I’m so proud when you do things like write your name, share with your brothers without being asked, and graduate from Kindergarten. But then my heart breaks a little because it’s all too fast, too quick, too much without warning.

IMG_0617I’ll go ahead and apologize for crying in public in Claire’s. I’m sorry, sweet girl, if that embarrassed you. And here’s a few more since I’m sure it won’t be the last time: I’m sorry I can’t control these emotions sometimes about your growing up and getting big, I’m sorry I’ll probably cry again next time you reach some milestone, I’m sorry I can’t keep my junk together and keep my tears inside. Motherhood is just like that. It wrecks me. In such a good, beautiful way.

Maybe one day you’ll have a little red-headed girl who’ll pick out her own clothes, start wearing lip gloss and painting her nails, and pick out her own earrings for getting her ears done, and you’ll know why I cried. Because you’ll reach up and feel tears wet on your own smiling cheeks.

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What Great Dads Do

Great dads teach their boys how to pee outside. They drink tea from little cups alongside stuffed animals and dolls. They take their daughters on witholiviadates and strap on backpacks to camp with their sons. They tear up when handed a fresh bundle of newborn baby, understanding the great magnitude and responsibility of this title, Daddy.atzoo

They read books until their voices are gone and have tough conversations with their children when necessary. They sit and eat dinner with their families, even if the game’s on, even if there’s a ton of unfinished work at the office, even if they have a better offer to be out with friends.

They give piggy backs and horsey rides and shoulder rides and any other torturous form of ride that their kids create. They hold the back of the bike and run behind until confidence soars and they can let go.

They are firm, gentle, loving, disciplined, strong, compassionate, playful,  and hardworking.

superheroThey are superheroes.

Great dads are seen at recitals, competitions, ceremonies, games of all kinds. They will be smiling big and sporting a video camera in their dominant hand. They cheer the loudest and clap the hardest.

Great dads play games. Lots of games. And they never win. But cheer heartily when sparkling young eyes ask,

sledding

“Did I win daddy?” Great daddies change diapers and attempt pigtails. They accept hand-drawn scribbles as if they are worthy of a museum. Their desks are full of framed pictures of their families. They can fix anything with duct tape or super glue.

Great dads wrestle their boys and teach them how to strike out withbaseball honor. They help perfect techniques for jump shots and scoring goals and dribbling toward the end of the soccer field. They pitch, catch, pass, teach, coach, assist, and help with unmatched perseverance.

Great dads serve cupcakes at birthday parties, squirt ketchup on hot cupcakesdogs, and sometimes dress up to make the party more fun. They are  on ice cream cone duty, cleaning up the drips and finishing the soggy bites no one else will eat.

Great daddies carry the heaviest load, they drive in the darkest hours when everyone else is asleep. They keep the closets clean from monsters and the cars running with oil changes and steering fluids (and honestly I don’t know what else is involved with the upkeep of a vehicle…)

readingGreat dads read the Bible to their family. And lead them in worship songs and pray for them every day. They quote verses after scary dreams and they patiently teach and exhort their kids to love the Lord.

They hold hands and kiss boo boos and horse ridegive band aids and dry tears. They listen. They love. They pack diaper bags and push strollers and tell bedtime stories and build sand castles and wear babies.

They’re always there helping and serving and loving and enjoying their families in so many small and big ways.

Great dads do.going camping

Last Day of Kindergarten

oliviakinder first + lastMy girl has done so awesome this year! Because of our transitions between countries, she has done local school in Turkey, home school, and American public school all in her Kindergarten year! She has done so well and handled each school situation with ease and grace. She is totally awesome.

I am so proud of you, Ladybug!