Friday, October 21, 2016

My kids are great

I typically don't like brag posts, but I do feel like I publicly complain about my kids enough that maybe I'm okay this time writing about their awesomeness. But feel free to skip it if you want. I'm going to attempt all positivity in this one. 

Abigail: when Abigail when into kindergarten last year, she only knew one letter. The letter A. Like the first letter of her name AND of the alphabet. She could maybe sometimes get the letter B or C, but it was less than 50% of the time. And even though she could recognize the letter A, she couldn't even tell you what sound it made. So yes, even though she went to preschool, when she entered kindergarten, she could recognize one letter and knew the sounds for zero letters. Right now though, just two months into first grade and she is an amazing reader. She's comfortably at an F or G level and I've had to start getting her a lot of level two books at the library because the level one books for most series are too easy now. She recognizes so many words and is really good at sounding out the ones she doesn't know. She's also very fluid and confident in her reading. Every single day, I am blown away at the transformation over this last year. It's just been especially in the last two months that thibgs have taken off. It's so great that she can read to brady now and that she can even read a lot of normal picture books (not "easy reading" books) like duck on a bike. Also, along with this, the kids in her class all get ten new sight words to practice each week. She's already mastered all of the first grade sight words and is now onto the list of second grade sight words like poison. Also, because she normally learns them after reading through them just one time, we've started to practice spelling them and writing them to make it more worthwhile. She's also great at math and worksheets that require answering questions or following directions. Writing is probably the hardest thing for her, and even that is improving with practice. 
Also, she must have gotten it from Christopher because I am not a competitive person, but she is ultra competitive, which is exhibited at school in the form of being the very best listener. The kids have start charts where they earn a certain number of stars on a color paper and then they move up to the next color level and fill that chart with stars. A month or so ago, Abigail told me about the two girls in her class that were already at the next level and how she wanted to beat them so she would be the first one to get to the new level... Well, she's passed one of them, so, according to the star charts, she's the second best listener in her class of 21 students. It makes me less of a hater about her competitiveness. 

Brady: a couple of weeks ago, Brady expressed a bit of interest in some letters. She knew the letter B because it was the first letter of his name. They he learned A for Abigail and E for Elizabeth. And then he started asking about a few more. I thought it was awesome when he knew five letters. And then he knew 9 and then 19 and then he knew all of them. I think the pack of flash cards we've been using was purchased from the dollar store years ago, but Abigail never used them (obviously... See above 👆🏼) and they were still in mint condition. Well, no more. They are well worn and the letter Z is lost (so we use the card for zoo instead). Brady uses them every day. Sometimes he just gets them out and tosses them in a pile as she lists off the name of the letter. Sometimes he looks at the picture on the back and goes them rough them all like "V is for vest, P is for pig, Q is for quilt." And the other day, he decided to put them in alphabetical order (which required a lot of singing on his part as he would have to sing the ABCs every time to know what came next) and did it almost entirely by himself. I think I only needed to help him three or four times. It's a small obsession for him. He truly has a love of letters. He reads letters to me a lot and asks what word it spells. When I was putting in a leap frog letter factory movie for him (because now he also only wants to watch letter shows... For the most part), he was all R E A D  D V D... And the screen flickered to the  previews before I could even look at it. But since he knows all of his letters I knew that it was the read DVD screen. He's just so quick and spontaneous about it. So, he can recognize ALL uppercase letters, most lowercase letters (especially depends on the font), can trace many of he letters correctly (he does this on the titles of books before we read them... traces the letters while he says them out loud), and he know what sounds they all make. So yesterday I started trying to teach him to sound out three letter words. He wasn't really getting it. He could make the sounds but couldn't hear/recognize a word from it.  But this evening I tried it with him again and it clicked! He was so excited (although not even half as excited as I was because I am through the moon about this) and Abigail is so excited too. So we did a TON of words with the flash cards. Mostly the CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words, but he even got STOP when I did that one (probably because he reads stop signs every time we drive somewhere). Yesterday he wanted to use my phone to write words. He wrote BRADY and DAD by himself. Probably because those are his two favorite things to spell. But he can also spell zoo and when I asked him to sound out and spell mom, he got it correct. He asked me how to spell "nuffin" and was talking himself through it all "nnnnnuffin... So the first letter is N. N for nuffin."  Someday I'm gonna have to tell him they're actually called muffins, but emotionally, I'm just not ready for that yet. So, the next step for us is getting those flip a word book from the library and just continuing the practice making short words with the flash cards. And maybe have him watch the non-letter factory phonics DVD that is better about stressing when letters can make more than one sound. He's so eager to learn more but I have a feeling we're gonna need to pace ourselves so he doesn't get overwhelmed. Like tonight when he read "kit" and then added and E and didn't understand why that made kite. We're not quite ready for "the silent E on the end makes the vowel say its name" or any other semi complicated rules. I'm just thrilled with where we're at and that he's so excited about it and eager to learn. 
Aside from his quick and eager love of learning, he is just such a mature kid. He is helpful and kind and just acts so much older than 3. Also, he's really into fashion and appearances and that's a lot of fun. Except that he's obsessed with tucking his shirt in. I didn't teach him that but he's noticed that baseball, soccer, and basketball players all do it. 

Elizabeth: she continues to be my angel. She is the happiest and smilest baby I've ever encountered. Even our babysitters make comments about how much she loves to clap about every little thing. She's my "unpacker" and loves to unpack drawers and cabinets and my purse and basically anything that contains anything else. To her credit though, she's very good at cleaning up when she's in the mood for it. Her favorites to unload are the cabinet by the fridge (with all the sippy cups and water bottles) and my bathroom cabinet under my sink that has nail polishes, lotions, and hair stuff. When she cleaned that one up the other day, I found a stuffed toy penguin standing nicely next to my lotion and hairspray. Kids are so fun. 
Elizabeth doesn't talk much but she can say please, all done, mommy, daddy, and cheese. Please and all done are adorable when she says and signs them, but cheese is probably my favorite because she can just be sitting somewhere, see me get my phone semi in position, and she looks directly at me, smiles, and says "CHEEEESE!"  She likes the food cheese, but hasn't had it enough to really understand that it's the same word. But when she see my phone in a position that I might take a picture, you better believe that half of the time, I don't have to say a single word. The girl is a ham. 
She's a master as going up and down stairs (she still hasn't fallen down the stairs yet but I don't think we're in the clear yet) and has been for a loooong time. She can steer her walking toy with expert skill. And just within the last three days, she's started to stand on her own. Just in the middle of the floor she uses her arms to push her up to standing. I know Abigail never did this because she walked first before she learned to stand in place and I honestly don't remember Brady doing this. So she's my first and it's really fun and exciting. Especially because she giggles and laughs and claps like crazy every time she does it. She knows that we all love it and go crazy for it and boy does she love to perform for us. She can maybe stand for two seconds at best, but she's improving really fast over the days that it's been happening so I expect her to have increased her time considerably by this time next week. 
Also, she eats like a pig and sleeps like a cat and cuddles like a baby monkey. I never have to worry if she's eating enough food or eating healthy enough food. She always sleeps when I want her to and more (although whoops that she sleeps with her binky 100% of the time now because I'm a softy about her molars) and her bedtime routine consists of drinking sips of water from a sippy and then putting her head on my chest for a minute before I plop her in the crib. And honestly, she's the most cuddly baby I've ever met. Abigail was about as cuddly as a fish and even when I would hold her on my hip, she would kean so far out that it was like she was harnessed like a rock climber that had to make sure they remained at a 90 degree angle while repelling from a cliff. But Elizabeth, oh my heavens. I don't even really carry her on my hip. When I hold her, it's typically on my belly and he head on my chest. It's as if she's in and ergo but without the ergo. When she's tired or sad, she'll put her cheek on anything she can find. She'll do it to Brady or Abigail or my calf if I'm standing up and she wants comfort. And the thing is, she's immediately comforted as soon as her cheek touches my calf or chest or anything. Sometimes I'll just offer her the palm of my hand and she'll use her two hands to pull it to her cheek so her face is resting in the palm of my hand. It is amazing. True story: when we were at sprouts on Wednesday, she was strapped in shopping cart and had twisted her body around semi backwards to watch best and me out outle food on the conveyor belt at the register. As I reached over the cart (from the opposit end from where she was sitting), to grab a head of cauliflower, she extended her had so that her cheek could make contact with my chest. It was the most awkward thing ever I'm sure to anyone that may have been watching, but I stayed for a few seconds to give her that moment. Because what other kid does that?! She extended her upper body as much as she could to meet my upper body that was reaching for cauliflower so that her cheek could make contact with my chest as we both leaned over a metal shopping cart. That is the sort of stuff that she does all the time. 95% of the time I pick her up, her head goes straight to my chest as her body and belly melt into mind and we just stay like that for at least five or ten seconds. It never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever gets old. I could try every minute of my life to express how much I love this and I would still die having failed. I can't never begin to explain the joy this brings me. I always thought Abigail was a perfect baby but we've all acknowledged that Elizabeth has taken that spot now. I didn't know this level of perfection existed in a baby. I know I didn't do anything to deserve this but believe me, I'm making up for it in gratitude. She is amazing. Also, I'm enjoying it now because Abigail is currently my most difficult child (by far) and if this trend continues, Elizabeth will be a nightmare on steroids. BUT we just don't know those things right now so I'm just loving my little baby. Also, did I mention she dances? That's adorable too. Like the other kids, she goes crazy for Bastille and she's been really liking the Andrew McMahon fire escape song. 

So, there's my brag post about my three kids. In the day in and day outs of things, it's sometimes easy for me to forget their awesomeness (except Elizabeth... We all remember hers because it's impossible to forget or ignore) and I needed to make sure I got this exciting stuff down. Because seriously, it's so exciting and we've been doing a lot of celebrating around here as a result of it. 

Sleeping in

I know, I suck at blogging. It's hard to keep up on everything so then I end up doing nothing. 

So, here's my short little post instead. 

I lock my bedroom door at night to keep out my children. But then Chris leaves for work early in the morning and unlocks it so it still frequently wake up with a sleeping Brady next to me. But Chris is out of town in Utah right now, so this morning I woke up around 7:30, so the sound of Brady shaking my bedroom door, confused that it was still locked. I unlocked it and we climbed in my bed. He was instantly out and I dozed in and out of sleep til 8 when my alarm was going off and I heard Abigail coming down the stairs. She did some stickers in the kitchen before I got her at 8:15 and had her get dressed and eat breakfast. Then I packed her lunch and did her hair and we even did some stickers together.i had her to school shortly after 9 (after a stretch of barely making it on time) and when I got home, both kids were still sound asleep so I read on my phone in the red chair until Brady woke up at 10:30. We got back in bed to read out of our big Disney stories book and I saw Elizabeth sit up in her crib. It's almost 11 now and she still hasn't made a noise but we'll go get her soon. This was probably the most perfect morning I could have hoped for. 


I lied, I didn't go get her soon. She stayed sitting up in her crib for an hour and then put her head back down at 11:30. And then popped her head back up by 12:30. I guess we all needed a lazy morning. 

So I got her out at 12:45 and was thinking that maybe I'd just have her skip a nap and then go to bed early. Except that at 2:30, she was sensitive. Like even if I gave her a binky, she wouldn't just crawl around and play (even though I was watching Janel's two youngest so she had plenty of kids to entertain her)... she wanted to be held. So I thought to myself that maybe I would just put her in her crib for 30 minutes or so for her to have some peaceful resting downtime. She fussed a bit but eventually fell asleep. For about four hours. I'm blaming her two right molars. She's just not herself and I'm glad I didn't try to get her out of bed earlier this morning. So, even though I didn't get her out of her crib til 6:45 or something, I put her to bed at 8:45. This baby just needed to sleep things off today. Bless her precious little heart. 

Mt. Rushmore


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Free day in South Dakota

After our kind of late arrival in rapid city, South Dakota, somehow every member in our family quietly and independently woke up by 7:06. 

Honey got ready and left for work while we got ready and went down for breakfast.  Our waiter was really nice, it was really good, and we had a whole table of food. It was annoying not having a buffet though. The kids kept wondering where the food was. I guess there are pros and cons to everything. 

By 9:41, we were ready for the pool. They walked there exactly like you see here. 

This is my body that thinks Luke warm food feels burning like fire... Hovering his feet over a hot tub. Kind of like how we gather around a campfire. 

What happens when she sees herself in the camera on my phone. 

Hot tubbing. 

I gave her the binky because it's not super fun to sit in a stroller and watch your siblings swim for a few hours. It's hard for her to suck on s binky without her check finding something to snuggle. 

She's so good at smiling for the camera. 

And then we had been there a couple hours and I had just a few more visiting teaching emails to send out so I told the kids just a few more minutes. And when I looked down next, she was out. 

She only slept for 30 minutes and then couldn't get settled again. But by the time we left, we'd been there for just under four hours. In an indoor pool. With no friends, toys, or treats. That still blows my mind. And Elizabeth stayed in her stroller the whole time with no complaints at all. The girl is an angel. Also, my other kids know she's my favorite and they don't even blame me. Probably because she's their favorite too. Also, I love that Brady loves pushing her in the stroller or shopping cart or whatever. He's so good at that and I love the extra help. 
To the playground. 


Find the three kids. 

And to the playground again. 

Who knew South Dakota could be so pretty and enjoyable? This is just a great trip so far especially considering that day stranded at the hotel without a car was suppose to be our most difficult. 

Blaze pizza

I know I'm late to the game (because I've had at least ten people tell me that), but tonight was my first time trying one of those build your own pizza restaurants and it was delicious! All of my friends have told me about how amazing mod pizza is, but we're in South Dakota right now and so it wasn't mod pizza, it was blaze pizza. 

I went through the line (the concept is just like subway but for pizzas and the inside environment is nearly identical to Costa Vida) and built my pizza and then of course doubted if it would be any good. But holy cow it was amazing. So then tonight I looked up the topping menu options for mod pizza (because now I actually want to go there) and was sad to see that while they have just as many options as blaze, they aren't the ones I would choose. So sad but I'm sure I'll live. 

Tonight I chose the regular crust with mostly white sauce but a little red sauce. Shredded mozzarella, balls of fresh mozzarella, Parmesan, and dollops of ricotta. For meats I chose applewood bacon and grilled chicken. Then artichokes, sautéed onions, lots of pineapple, and cherry tomatoes. And a sprinkle of oregano. Then they fired it and I asked for a drizzling of olive oil. Right now I'm literally singing "these are a few of my favorite things!!!" in my head right now. 

It was so good. Sadly, mod pizza doesn't have the ovalini mozzarella, ricotta, sautéed onions or drizzle of olive oil. And minus the sautéed onions, those things really influence the pizza! 

Anyway, the door has been opened for me and I think I'm hooked. Just had to document it. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A more manageable Monday

We did chick fil a breakfast (calendar card egg white grill! Thanks mom!) and play place with honey. He met us there and it was the saddest thing ever when we had to say goodbye. 

We hit up the library and Safeway on our way home. 

I played flaws for the kids in the car and they loved it. Five times later and I was all "I should get this cd from the library so I don't keep using data for this." I walked past the cd shelf and this caught my eye. Didn't even have to go digging for it or put it on hold! The kids were pumped. 

She's not crazy into puzzles... Can you tell? 

This made my day that I didn't have to hold Elizabeth while helping Brady go potty. 

Brady had a picnic when we got home. 

The kids plays outside with the neighbors  and then watched a letter factory. 

We had Costco orange chicken, rice, and broccoli for dinner. I felt like honey deserved something good after doing a bunch of dishes this morning before going to work. 

And then we put kids to bed and I unsuccessfully tried to fix our upstairs running toilet. 

It was a better day than anticipated!