Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Baby J

Rachel here. I just got back from the hospital a little bit ago from visiting the sweetest little boy. Jameson was born Sunday night to our dear friends Stephen and Laura. He is perfect. Little man was 7 lbs 11 oz and 20 inches long.

Welcome to the world JJ!


Rachel here. This is mainly for grand parents and people who love to buy things for my girls... aka... grand parents. :) I've decided to create a Wish List of things that I'd like to start collecting for the girls. Everything has a dual purpose. They are each great for just playing with and for having fun with around the house, but they are also WONDERFUL for our preschool adventure and their education. If anything, I think they are great ideas for birthday/Christmas gifts for ANY toddler/preschool aged kid. With that being said, you can find the list over there to the right underneath the girls' monthly pictures. We'll constantly be adding and subtracting items as we collect them ourselves. :)

And what about Deuce?

Rachel here. During all of this preschool craziness there is my sweet sweet Emma Grace. What's she doing during all of this besides looking adorable? :) She's doing some of the same things Reese is doing. It's no secret that my kids have more toys than FAO Schwartz, however, I've hidden most of EG's. During the mornings she only has access to the Montessori type toys. Toys that help her to work on coordination, trial and error, and cause and effect.

She also has a small collection of kitchen goods that she uses to make an obscene amount of noise with. :)

Reese was even nice enough to let her string some beads. These beads spent more time in Emma Grace's mouth than they did anywhere near the string.
This is EASILY Emma Grace's SECOND favorite toy. She's really good at it too. She loves stacking the circles... just not in any particular order yet.
This toy, which we bought from Big Lots at Christmas time because it was cheap and she needed one more present to be equal with Reese, is her FAVORITE TOY IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. She loves putting the cookies in the milk and will have a panic attack if you don't open the lid and dump it fast enough, so she can do it all over again. :)
I included this picture because this expression made me laugh out loud. Ugh... I love my kids.

She also spends a great amount of time destroying my house, but I figure she's gotta be learning something while she's doing that too right? ;)

Day 2

Rachel here. Today went GREAT! I really think we're going to like doing this. Basically in the morning this is how our "schedule" has been going. The girls are up and at 'em anywhere from 7-8. In that time we: get dressed (not today!), make our bed, change diaper, eat breakfast, brush teeth, and finish up Sesame Street. Once 8 am rolls around we try to get started on the day's activities. The idea behind Montessori is for the child to be able to sprawl out on the floor, be comfortable, and complete their tasks. Having Emma Grace running around, it makes it difficult to have Reese on the floor. So, instead, I put all of her activities on the kitchen table in designated areas, and she can move about them at will. This morning we started with this beading exercise. It's by Melissa and Doug. I bought it yesterday at Barnes and Noble. Reese LOVED it!
I also had a dish tub full of 4 types of pastas and 3 types of beans. All different colors and shapes. There was also measuring cups and funnels made of both plastic and metal. She must have played with that thing for 30 minutes. It was really cute because she would tell me the colors of the different pieces, wanted to know if she could eat it, "can we have mac and cheese?". It was really sweet.

I found this idea from a personal website of a mother who does Montessori in her home with her little boy and girl... two different ages. She has them totally independent. They even do their own dishes throughout their day. I took another dish tub and filled it with water. She has plastic dishes that I scribbled on with dry erase markers to make dirty, we added a sponge to the mix, and she even had her own towel to dry them off after she washed them.
She had a blast. It cracks me up how serious she looks in all these pictures. :)
Her "clean" dishes. She, however, was NOT all about drying them, so they are currently air drying. ;)
I also purchased another "toy" from B&N yesterday that I planned on having Reese use later in the week, but it caught her eye this morning and she begged to play with it. I told her if she finished all the activities I had for her on the table, I would be more than happy to let her have it. :) Which gave me the idea of creating a chart with all of her "tasks" on it that she can mark off upon finishing CORRECTLY. Wouldn't you know she managed to matched all the nuts to the bolts from yesterday, and liked it so much she did it again?!
She also finished the matching color/object game with no problem at all.

Once she finished, she was allowed to "build."

She worked on all of these things until Sesame Street came on at 10. During which she continued working on some of the activities and worked on her puzzles. 11 am came around, and it was time for lunch. By 11:30 Reese was telling me she needed some rest time. This is humorous because I haven't been able to get the kid to nap for a solid week now... excluding 30 minutes here and there in the car. I took both her and Emma Grace up soon after. Reese and I read some alphabet books, and now she is dead silent in her room. :) I guess I'm keeping her busy.
While the girls are napping, I'm starting to work on making sandpaper letters to help with teaching Reese her letter sounds and eventually letter names. The idea is to teach sounds before letter name... that apparently comes in by default on it's own... and then naturally moving into putting letters together in order to sound words out. I've ordered a book that helps to explain some of the theories and has some great ideas on things you can make and do in your home. The one button mouse for computer time has been ordered as well. Bryan has allotted me a certain amount of money per month, and I'm pretty sure September's money is already gone! :)I'm really excited to see how this all unfolds!

Monday, August 30, 2010

And it begins...

Rachel here. So today began our official first day of Home Preschool. We decided I would homeschool Reese for Preschool after applying for a Preschool here in town. Our conclusion... why spend hundreds of dollars per month on something I could EASILY do with her myself? HA! Leading up to this point I had high expectations. My goals for this "year" were to learn to use the calendar, understand weather, learn to recognize the alphabet, write her alphabet, recognize/spell/write her name, recognize/understand digit to object/write numbers up to 30, all shapes and colors, and introduce her to nursery rhymes. I immediately became overwhelmed. I have my Master's degree in Early Childhood Education, and I was overwhelmed. I can teach 3rd grade with my eyes closed and my arms tied behind my back. Preschool... different story. I'm in charge of all the core knowledge... that's a lot of work, understanding, and stress. I was soon under serious freak out mode. Bryan told me I should talk to one of his coworkers whose wife homeschools ALL of their children. I got the opportunity to talk with her last week, and the best advice she gave me was to love Reese. Love and support Reese so much that she felt safe learning with me. She pointed me in the direction of the Montessori theory, some great articles/literature, and resources. The idea behind Montessori is to teach the child to do it themselves. Everything is hands-on. While it covers the arts, language, math, geography, science, music and movement, it also covers sensory learning and practical life skills. This coupled with other resources I found online like the ABC Home Preschool Curriculum, I hope to create something that Reese will love to do, and something I'll love watching her do.
Right now Reese is big on puzzles. She started with her simple Melissa and Doug color puzzle. She mastered it in just a few days and has moved onto her alphabet, shapes, and numbers puzzles. This is definitely a basket that will always be one of Reese's favorites. Basically anything that Melissa and Doug create is gold in this house.

The following ideas are ones that I got from this amazing blog I stumbled upon. As I'm still figuring this all out, I believe this activity falls under the sensory learning topic. The idea is to lay out the color cards and match the objects to the color cards.

Reese dug it for about 3 seconds. She got the gist, showed me should understood, and then decided she was done. :) This activity along with all the following ones will go out again tomorrow along with a few new ones.
This next one falls under the practical life portion of Montessori. It teaches them to do everyday things. The way this activity works is Reese takes the spoon and transfers the rice from one bowl to the other. Sounds boring, but she LOVED it and played with it ALL day.

She even had a blast sweeping the rice up that she spilled all over the floor. :)
All these nuts/bolts are different sizes and shapes. The goal is to match the correct nut with it's bolt.
Reese got 3/5 of them done before she was "done." :)
We went outside a handful of times (If you say the word outside in front of Emma Grace, she gets this goofy grin on her face, she runs to the back door, and beats on the glass. PRECIOUS.), had plenty of time for play doh, and even watching our "shows" on PBS.
We headed over to the library early this morning, where Reese tried out the computer for the first time. She just kind of goofed off, so we tried it again once we got home. Here is where I learned we need to purchase a one button mouse ASAP. She'll love the games and activities that I've found on NickJr.com... but first the perfect mouse must be found. :)
She'll continue to work on some of these skills and others, while I continue to research and learn how to implement some of the language activities and Montessori materials. This is such a great adventure, and I can't wait to continue down this long road with my girl. There is nothing more rewarding than teaching my children. :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

For those prepared to rock... er

Houston Rocker turned 2 last week. Oy... these kids and their growing up. ;) This is how we were greeted upon arriving to the big shindig.
We did lots of exploring.

And bubble blowing... and slip 'n sliding. It was SUPER FUN and a great way to spend a lovely Saturday afternoon.
Houston's cake was super cute and VERY tasty. He even made little deer tracks in the cake for his guests. He's adorable!
And he's quite the ladies man. He really knows how to woo them.
You can tell he means business.
Thank you so much for the great time Bear family! Reese continued to talk about falling in the hole and getting her leg stuck the ENTIRE way home. She's not traumatized at all. ;)

Hokie Kid's Club

Yesterday was my very first autograph session with the football team. Mommy and Daddy signed me up for the Hoke Kid's Club this year. I have my very own membership card and t-shirt... super official. :) They got me a little pee-wee football for the players to autograph. I was excited... can you tell?
Emma Grace was oozing with excitement as well.

We got to get our picture taken with the one and only. This is the picture Mommy took, but the professional photographer was able to put a cool scene of Lane Stadium behind us on the computer... hence the green screen.
Here I am right before the mayhem started.
My VERY FIRST autograph!!! David Wilson. VERRRRRRY NICE GUY. Daddy says he is so polite and amazing he wants to marry him. Well not really, but he does wear a tie to class EVERYDAY. VERY CLASSY.
JuJu! Mommy thinks he is just the cutest! He's one of our backup quarter backs.
The Man. Ryan Williams.
Tyrod Taylor (our starting quarter back) whoopin' it up in front of the lady's room.
I was a super ham during the whole thing.
Darren Evans was a super cool guy too and has crazy skills. Check out the video below... HYSTERICAL.

My last clients... there's Logan Thomas... another of our qbs.
I just love my little football. Mommy and Daddy are going to put it in a little case for me to keep in my room.

I think my favorite autograph of the entire day though was this guy: