Friday, September 19, 2014

Julia Rose at 8 Months Old

Oh Rose, this has been such a big month for you!  We have been watching you grow and develop and accomplish new things on a daily basis and it is amazing.  Just this past week you got really serious about getting up on your hands and knees all on your own and have started practicing it over and over, even rocking a little to try to build some momentum to get at a toy you want.  I would not be at all surprised if you are crawling by the time you are 9 months old.  The biggest problem is that you like to practice flopping over onto your belly and pushing up to hands and knees in the bathtub, which you find hilarious and I find frightening and exasperating.  You roll over and over and over to get across the floor and have entered the phase of squirming away from diaper changes. 

You are also really interested in this business of standing and have been practicing a lot lately at your little activity table.  You can't quite get yourself to standing position next to the couch on your own but again, its something I bet you will be doing in the next month given how much I can see you want it.  And you love when we hold you for balance and let you practice standing and even held your balance unassisted for 2 seconds yesterday.  This green and white dress is a hand-me-down from Clara and I just love it on you - its my favorite actually. 

Rose, you are such a solid girl and despite my aching arms I just love it so much.  Clara coos "oh Rose, you are SUCH a chunky baby!!" at you on an almost daily basis because we just love your round little tummy and roly-poly legs.

And your hair is getting long enough to do cute little piggy tails.  Which you sort of hate when I am trying to put them in but then are good about leaving them alone.  And I kind of have to do it because when I don't pull your hair back it is getting long enough to hang down into your eyes a little bit.  I'm hoping you get used to having your hair done, like Clara did, so that you are good about letting me braid it when you get a little bit older and your hair gets a little bit longer because I am dying to do matching hairstyles for you and your big sister. 

Speaking of your big sister, she sometimes acts like you are one of her dolls and tries to dress you up in one of her tutus.  You are a good sport about it most of the time and nobody can make you laugh the way Clara can.  Without question, you are more entertained by Clara than by anybody else and I can already see that you hero-worship her, even when she isn't being the nicest and is stealing toys from you (and ardently explaining to me that you "gave" it to her even after I just witnessed the yank that pulled it from your grasp).  Thankfully, Clara obviously adores you so the times when she gets a little grabby are few and usually she is very good about bringing you something to play with or even reading her books to you.  And Clara loves taking baths with you and sharing the rubber duckies, which might be one of your favorite toys.

You have the cutest little giraffe tongue that you stick out all the time, especially when you are happy and being vocal.   Leaves, acorns, twigs, grass and rocks are some of the things you have been trying to shove into your mouth lately as we have been outside more enjoying the cooler September temperatures at the park or in the backyard. 

I haven't been able to get a picture of them yet but your top two teeth have broken through the gums in the past week and a half, which has been a huge relief since you got really fussy when those things were cutting through.  So now you have four teeny white teeth, although the ones on top haven't come down very far yet even though they are totally visible.  And your little bite is sharp!  I know because you bit me yesterday at Lowe's when I didn't get your Blueberry Puff into your mouth fast enough without getting my finger back out.  And speaking of puffs, your coordination has improved loads too and you can pretty accurately move cheerios, puffs, and blueberries from your tray into your mouth on your own now.  I need to come up with some different snacking options for you though because you are getting a little bored with puffs. 

You sure are a fun little sprite, Rosie-girl, and we love you so.  In just two weeks we will finalize your adoption and we are so happy and excited about that.  It was supposed to happen this past month but the court overbooked and had to change finalization to October 1st.  Then over Thanksgiving when family can come visit we are going to go to the Oakland temple and be sealed as an eternal family.  We can hardly wait.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Circus Day at Preschool

Today was my first day teaching our co-op preschool.  This post is probably going to be boring and a little lengthy because I'm just going to recap everything we did, mostly so I have a record of it and it can help me remember what worked best and what didn't work as well.
Since this was only our second day of preschool I stuck with continuing the introduction to the alphabet theme of last week and started in on the circus curriculum from Mother Goose.  It worked out well for me since we actually already had quite a few things that were geared toward the circus anyway, like the little circus tent in the corner and a popcorn counting game with jumbo-sized popcorn and buckets in graduated sizes with numbers on the side indicating how many popcorn go in each bucket. 
Anyway, I just moved the couches around in the living room to free up a wall and then taped up the alphabet, color, number, shape, sight words, and calendar posters that came with the curriculum.  Then I pulled out our Eeboo alphabet letter cards that I bought a while back (they have a bunch of different sets that you can find on amazon but I loved the landscape ones - each card has a number of things on it that start with the letter). 
I also set out a bunch of our alphabet books along with shape and number puzzles so that there were things for the kids to play with and look at while everybody was showing up.  Of course we didn't get to everything on the wall but we touched on a lot of it as part of the class routine once we got started.  We started with welcoming everybody to preschool and introductions (one of the girls was new this week because she wasn't feeling well last Wednesday) and then said the Pledge of Allegiance.  Clara held the little flag and totally surprised me by reciting the ENTIRE THING along with me (and a couple of times going ahead of me to the next word or two).  I have been saying it to her randomnly over the last week trying to expose her to it and asking her to say it with me and she has completely refused so I sort of thought that maybe it was just going over her head (words like "indivisible" and "liberty and justice for all" just can't have any meaning to her yet) but apparently all she needed was an audience to perform in front of to bring it out of her.  It was a proud moment.
After reciting the pledge I pulled out a big magnetic wooden puzzle map of the USA and did a quick geography lesson and explained the part of the pledge where it talks about the United States of America and how the puzzle showed the country we live in.  Then I had them point to California and we talked about the pictures on our state's piece (grapes, the Golden Gate Bridge, redwood trees, the ocean).
Then it was the "Days of the Week" song and pointing at the day of the week on the calendar.  After that I talked to them about the color red, which was the color for the day and told them to find something red around the room and bring it to me.  I had scattered a bunch of random red objects around the room beforehand (a measuring cup, a little wagon, a hairbrush, some of Clara's toy fruit, a toy guitar, etc.) and the kids loved that game.  Then we counted things that had multiples while we talked about each of the red things. 

The next thing was introducing the circus theme more and reading books about it.  First we read a Clifford book about the circus that the kids seemed to really like (I don't know why but I sort of loathe Clifford books but apparently kids love the big red dog).  Then we read this amazing animal ABC book created by the American Museum of Natural History (Katydids for "K" and one sentence of a fascinating fact like dolphins are mammals, not fish, and can't breath underwater - the kids really grabbed onto that one and we talked a lot about mammals the rest of the time and how whales and dolphins are not fish, they are mammals just like us) and "Olivia Saves the Circus" (great humor). 

I interspersed some songs to get wiggles out along the way but after a couple of books the children were getting restless so we moved into snack time and had circus themed snacks of popcorn, celery with hummus, apple slices, and cheese cubes.  So I guess only the popcorn was circus themed, but it worked.  I'm pretty certain that Clara has a little crush on the boy in the red hat.  Last week she kept talking about him and this week she interacted with him quite a lot.  And after preschool was over Clara made sure to mention him in our prayer at lunchtime when she was blessing the food, lol.

While I cleaned up after snacks I let the kids have some independent play time with the circus tent and the toys.  Then I had them each carry over their art supply box and we did a craft where we painted red stripes on a white rectangle (to practice making vertical lines as sort of a pre-writing technique and continue with our "red" theme for the day), cut one straight line into the center of a circle (learning how to properly hold and manipulate scissors and develop those motor skills while talking about shapes), and used glue sticks to stick a pipe cleaner onto a green rectangle which we folded over to create a flag.  Then I folded the cut circles into cones and taped the circus tents together for each of the kids.  Honestly, it was a little bit complex but the kids were so focused and I could definitely see how challenged they were but also so determined.  It's sort of an amazing thing to watch.

While we worked on our craft one of the letters fell off our alphabet wall so I improvised and we transitioned back into more of a class setting by looking for the letter that had escaped (it was the "e" which makes the "eh" sound so escaped was perfect, right?  I didn't go into all that for them but I was thinking it to myself.)  I made a big deal about "oh no! a letter is missing! this is a really big problem!" and asked them to help me figure out which letter was missing by singing the alphabet with me.  We sing through it a couple of times, identified that it was "E" that was gone, then "found" it on the floor and stuck it back up and then sang the full song again.  Seriously, the kids LOVED it and as soon as everybody left Clara was immediately begging me to take a letter off the wall so we could find out which one was missing again and we have gone through practically half the alphabet repeating the game over and over already until I finally told her it was time for a break. 

Then it was a couple more books before dynamic play time where I pulled out our fabric tunnels and the kids pretended to be lions at the circus going through hoops.  The went around and around in circles until I (the lion tamer) called them into the circus tent where they giggled with each other while I told them that when I closed the tent flaps they needed to roar as loud as they could.  Which we repeated multiple times until the other moms showed up.

All in all, I felt like it was a success although man alive it was exhausting!  But fun.  The biggest problem is figuring out how to manage wiggly bums and keep them on their carpets.  I'm going to have to brainstorm techniques and would appreciate any suggestions.  The kids are so cute and Clara did great sharing her toys and helping and not getting jealous.  Which I was nervous about because she told me more than once yesterday that she did NOT want the other kids coming to her house and playing with her toys for preschool.  We had some talks yesterday and this morning and I am super thankful they seem to have sunk in.  And now I don't have to teach again until mid-October! 

I'm thinking this is gonna work out just great.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Preschool, Gizdich Ranch, and Saturday Projects


Clara had her first day of preschool this past Wednesday (Sep. 3).  We are doing a co-op with four other moms/kids I have met through church so her first day was at her friend Molly's house.  They did an introduction to the alphabet, went on a number hunt, and read "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom".  We decided to start out at just 1 day a week from 9:00-11:30 a.m. for the month of September and then up it to 2 days a week for the rest of the year.  We ordered a curriculum called "Mother Goose" and are supplementing with "Confessions of a Homeschooler" materials and whatever else we find on Pinterest or that we think of on our own.  Two of the other moms were first grade teachers and one has a master's in education, so I feel a little intimidated (especially since this Wednesday is my first day as teacher) but grateful that we have support and experience on our side without having to spend tons of money for preschool. 

Clara was very excited about preschool and she did great her first day.  She woke up late actually (sleeping in until 8:00 a.m. is pretty much unheard of for my girls) so we kind of hustled to get out the door but made sure to take a few pictures first.  Then once I dropped her off, Rose and I went to the gym where Rose was one of the only kids in the kids club area since almost all the kids are in school in the mornings now.  After my class, Rose and I hung out in the car waiting for Clara to get done (since it didn't make any sense to go home and pull Rose out of the carseat just to get back in the car 10 minutes later for pick-up) and Rose took a nice little snooze.

The night before Paul gave Clara her first ever beginning-of-the-school-year priesthood blessing and Clara was so grown-up and proper about it, folding her arms and bowing her head reverently while listening closely to the words that were spoken.  We are so proud of her and the big girl she is becoming.

Gizdich Ranch

Last year Paul didn't get to go apple picking with Clara and me so this year we definitely wanted to find a Saturday to go together as a family.  And luckily our friends Johannes & Christine wanted to go too, which was extra fun because it meant Clara got to see her friends Silas & Liesel and Paul and I got to catch up and commiserate with Johannes & Christine about remodeling projects (they have been kitchenless for almost 2 months now because of their kitchen/living room/dining room remodel).  One of the hardest things about this move (and any move, frankly) has been missing our old friends so it is always fun to get together. 

Anyway, we didn't realize they had a strawberry patch by the apple orchards that were still bearing fruit and since the Fischlis were running late, Paul, Clara, Rose and I had fun picking strawberries while we waited.  They were AMAZINGLY good - sooooo sweet and juicy - and Clara loves picking strawberries and is good about only picking the biggest, reddest strawberries and leaving the ones that aren't quite ripe on the plants.  And Rose was content to just hang out and look around and enjoy chewing on the straps of the carrier. 

For some reason there weren't as many low-hanging apples this year as I remember there being last year but there was still enough that we filled a bucket with Pippins and Galas.  Paul helped Clara reach some from the higher branches but frankly, Clara was just antsy to be given permission to finally EAT one of the apples rather than keep picking them.  I'm thinking about making applesauce, applesauce snacking cake (so yummy - it is an America's Test Kitchen recipe and basically just a muffin recipe that you cook in a square pan and dust with spiced sugar), and apple fritter bread with our haul.  Apple picking is pretty much the perfect start-of-fall tradition and I'm so glad we went again this year even though the drive to Watsonville was a little long.

Bathroom Remodel

After we got home from apple picking everybody sort of crashed for a bit before we regrouped and got back in the car to go look at tile for the master bathroom.  Paul demo-ed part of the shower wall last week so that we could have a plumber come adjust the plumbing for the shower and vanity areas.  So now Paul has to finish the demo work on the rest of the shower enclosure, raise the ceiling height, and drywall it off with cement board or whatever that waterproof barrier stuff is.  Then we are hiring out the tilework. 

We found these two tiles that were pretty much just what I was looking for.  The hexagonal marble tile is for the shower floor area and the large greyish tile will be the shower surround and also the floor of the bathroom (we had picked out a different tile for the flooring but when we got the samples home and laid things out we decided that in the end it will just look best to go with just one tile design since the bathroom is still really small).  It still isn't going to be done for a long while but hopefully before Thanksgiving we will have a fully functioning, totally remodeled master bath. 

We also found a kitchen table that we think we like but didn't buy/order it because (1) we are trying to avoid impulse buys (although this is the second weekend we have spent looking for a table and probably the 6th home furnishings store we went to), (2) we wanted to come back home and remeasure to make sure it fit well in our dining space, and (3) the sales lady wouldn't negotiate on price which kind of bugs when making a big purchase like a dining table.  It is on sale through the month of September though and honestly it is pretty much exactly what we were hoping to find (and not completely horribly priced) so we will probably end up doing it so that we can (hopefully) have a real table for Thanksgiving and not just a cardtable like we have been using since moving into this house.

And that was our week!