Tuesday, July 26, 2011

creating "normal"

My days are not well ordered or scheduled. I will probably always do school in the summer with my kids when they are young because we'll take so many random breaks in the year, but... perhaps I'm getting old enough to realize that our family doesn't have to look like others and our "schedule" doesn't need to be according to someone elses standards. Maybe we wake up a little more slowly than some, but the rhythm of our life is falling into place and starting to roll into what everyone needs.

Lily plays with Grace for me when I need to finish something in the kitchen and is a big help in that way. I'm sure as Grace gets older this will get even better!
I made GF bread the other day after Lily had placed all her alphabet pieces on the floor. They are actually quite comfortable to walk on.
I often listen to sermons here while I do dishes or clean or scrapbook, or I'll listen to a midday connection depending on what's on that day.
The girls LOVE to paint. They paint with watercolors or acrylics or with water like this picture shows. I like to get coloring books and other art supplies for them at dollar stores.

Sometimes we'll take a break to paint fingernails and toenails!
Grace often sleeps in her bouncer (I usually put her to sleep and then lay her in it.) She's very used to listening to sermons and the girls noise while she sleeps. I try to have her asleep before I start school with Lily.
With school right now I've just been starting with reading her one of the Bible stories (that have questions at the end.) Lily really enjoys it and Renna listens in too. My favorite moment was when we'd read the story of when God gave the Israelites the ten commandments and at the end one of the questions was "Who are we supposed to love the most" (or worded close to that) and Renna says, "JESUS!" That's RIGHT! I loved how she knew that even though the story didn't say Jesus (it said The Lord God) because we'd been talking about these things throughout the days previously. If nothing else, I'm glad she gets that part. :}

Lily colors while I read her the Bible story (And practices writing the capitol and lowercase of the letter she's coloring. She's gone through one whole set of print outs and now is onto these,) and I'll usually read a story from another book as well. We are in the fairytale book right now, but have gone through two other compilation type books like "A treasury for four year olds"
It always seems like Grace wakes up while we are in the middle of things and likes to grunt in her little baby fashion to distract us from the next part of sounding out the letters.
Lily has the sounds of the letters down really well, but it's just a matter of being confident to take that knowledge and sound out a word. I started using the flash cards to spell the word out first (since she was already so good at the flashcards and liked them!) and once she'd say the sounds individually (in order) it was easier for her to feel confident enough at reading the short "a" sound words and spelling them. She is SUCH a little wiggle worm that she almost drives me crazy with her fiddling. We have to sit at the kid size table to help some with this so the writing height is easier for her penmenship. I was using a sticky note to go under the word she was doing to help her focus and she'd constantly try to scribble on it or bend it or fiddle with it in SOME way! It was driving me a little crazy so after every five to seven words that she'd sound out and comprehend and then write, I'd help her work on a puzzle.

Lily absolutely loves puzzles and she's really VERY good at them! I think it helps her to think of reading like a puzzle. She knows all the pieces and just needs to put them together when she reads. I help her do the edge pieces after she works on some of her words and back and forth till she had 20 words done for the day and then she gets to finish her puzzle.
I don't have a set time for these activities yet, but I'd *like* to do her school earlier in the morning. It hasn't happened like that much though depending on how the baby is and how tired I am in the mornings. Grace loves to kick and kick! My other two weren't like this and I had a toy for them that they didn't like... I think Grace would have really liked it though! Something or anything that she could kick would be right up her alley. No wonder I felt her move so soon! She was doing some major swimming. ;]
I've been trying to do a story time with the girls each day as well. Planning to read at least three books in the afternoon. We've got LOTS of books! And have been going to the library every week, so it's not hard to pick some out. Lily is SUCH a little mover that she likes to climb up behind me on the couch to see the books. I'm thinking of getting her some play dough so she has something to do with her hands when we are going to read. She really does love to listen though, and I'm the same way... I really like having something to do when I listen and can listen much better if my hands are busy knitting or sewing or something. (If my hands aren't doing anything my mind wanders.)
Often our afternoons might look like this as well. We made a "look out" that turned into an enchanted castle (notice the stacked blocks and the pink? That makes it a castle)
This last picture was at dinner time. We were all sitting at the table (that is now almost always set nicely!) and the Daddy gets to enjoy the little baby! He and I have been listening to a sermon together while he comes home from work and I'm making dinner at the same time. Then when he's here we finish listening to it while we eat. After dinner comes more girl time with the Daddy while I clean up or take care of the babe. We sort of switch off holding or putting Grace to sleep while the other helps the girls do something. They like to play video games with Daddy (especially a princess Wii game!) or go swimming together.

None of this is exactly in order too much because the order often changes each day, but I see improvements in how our "normal" is getting to be how we want it to be. If we go somewhere every day OR take Lily swimming then she seems to be more content for the day since she's "gotten out"... right now it feels like far too much to do for me. I'd rather stay in and read or do something quiet, but it's important to give Lily enough activity since she is such an active kid and putting up with being in a tiny apartment. I'm not used to the morning being the time to get out and swim or shop though! Mornings in WA were chilly and I'd always wait till afternoon, but here it's much better to plan on getting out around 9 and back by 11. I'm still working on that.

I get discouraged sometimes when I see our days not being what I'd fully like them to be. Or be a day like today where a bunch of little things went wrong that just added unnecessary work and time. I broke a glass at one point, I spilled a bunch of milk two other times today, and over all was just tired and short on patience. But... we got school done and I managed to get the grocery shopping in for the week. I was upset to have gone over budget by 9 dollars (because it could have been easily prevented if I'd been paying better attention,) yet I need to look at how things are improving and not be discouraged that I'm not totally there yet. Cleaning the toilet was my one "scheduled" cleaning thing to do for today. I thought I could remember "toilet Tuesday" well enough.. and I did... all day.. but never got around to actually cleaning them. But I need to remind myself (again) to just keep going forward. I was reading "Anne of Avonlea" today (while nursing the baby) and read this---

"Oh, I don't know. I've come so far short in so
many things. I haven't done what I meant to do when
I began to teach last fall... I haven't lived up to my ideals."

"None of us ever do." said Mrs. Allan with a sigh. "But then,
Anne, you know what Lowell says, 'Not failure but low aim is
the crime.' We must have ideals and try to live up to them, even
if we never quite succeed. Life would be a sorry business without
them. With them it's grand and great. Hold fast to your ideals, Anne."

I often don't live up to my ideals, but perhaps that isn't the point. And at least we did the major stuff.. we did do school and other important things (like make chocolate chip cookies!) ... I'm pretty sure my kids are going to appreciate having me read to them more than if I actually cleaned the toilet consistently every week. I at least made sure Renna flushed it so the cat had clean water to drink from. That's something right?! :}

(In case you are wondering... yes, we just have a really weird cat that likes to drink from the toilet. And yes, he has a really expensive 'fountain' water dish... but he prefers the toilet over it. Don't ask me why.) ;]


Anonymous said...

I love reading this! It's wonderful to see what a great mom you are to your children, Lynne'! It sounds like the important things are happening! And, yes, our cats prefer the toilet, too....although Sunshine likes drinking from my water glass more (if I let her!)

Jessica said...

I love that we're reading the "Anne" series at the same time! I'm on "Anne's House of Dreams" right now.

lenorediviney said...

that's a good normal if you ask me. =)