Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Audrey Catherine is 7 1/2!

Ugh, it's so hard to believe.

How is it that she'll be in second grade, the grade I taught for so many years? At one point it seemed like it would be FOREVER until she was in "my" grade level.

I'm very proud when it comes to Audrey- she is bright, outgoing, creative, responsible, caring, and kind. She thrives in school, academically and socially. She was identified for gifted last year and really loved working in Focus this year. She made so many new friends, the sweetest kids ever. I loved visiting her at lunch every day and seeing her laughing and talking with everyone.

She's very social- I admire that about her! When we went to the beach she had a blast hanging out with the boys (while Abby preferred to do her own thing- like organize their bedroom, lol.)

She convinced me to dye her hair back in April. She'd been wanting to dye it forever...but there was no way I was using real dye, so we did Kool-Aid instead (and we waited until after Picture Day, lol.) I can't believe it's still in there!

Her smile (although now with large, crooked teeth!) still lights up the room and is one of my most favorite things in the world. I just love that sweet face.

She and Abby are best buds- they play all day together. I have to smile when I hear the things they come up with. The other day Audrey was following Abby around with my old iPhone, taking videos. Audrey was singing a song she made up..."Oh she's in the spotlight...she's just so beautiful..." as Abby was twirling and dancing like a superstar...I died. She'll complain if Abby doesn't play with her.

She's still having a hard time being alone on the new house. She doesn't want to be on any level by herself, and she complains about her bedroom being so far from ours. She still loves snuggle time and falling asleep with momma :)

It seems like most things come easy to her, but she does work hard when she needs to. Whether it's learning to ride without training wheels, studying for a test, working on school work during the summer...she's very self-motivated. One day at the beach she taught herself how to ride the boogie board. She loves to read and write. I offered to get her a new Leap Pad game for when we traveled, but she asked for books instead :)

She claims to be done with skirts and dresses, although she'll wear them every once in awhile to appease me. She does not want to take dance class this year; she wants to try soccer and gymnastics.

She's a wonderful role model for her little sisters and the apple of our eyes. Before we know it, Little Miss Sunshine will be EIGHT!!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Kindergarten Year in Review

So, that was awesome!!

Deciding to take the leap of faith and try Kinder was the best decision of my entire career, no joke. I remember how nervous I was to hit the "send" button on my email to my principal. I'm so glad I did...I've found my happy place.

I could list hundreds of things I love about Kinder, but I'll stick to the highlights.

Yes, 2nd graders are sweet and cute, but 5 years olds? Oh my- they still have baby faces and baby voices and I could just squeeze their sweet cheeks every day!! This age just captures my heart for so many reasons.

The opportunity to work with beginning learners- even those who are above- is just awesome. There's something so incredible about starting on the ground floor and working up; their progress within a year is just astounding. Most of them came in knowing some of their letter sounds and now they are freaking READING. When it comes to math I love teaching them the basics (counting, writing numbers) versus double digit subtraction. When I taught upper grades it was so, so challenging to work with students who had been struggling years before they got to me. They made progress, but they were still behind their peers come end of year. It was discouraging. Know I know how vital their early learning is to their success in later grades.

I have HELP!! And she is amazing- she's there to support in every way-in any way- I need. For one, just having an extra body in the classroom is a GODSEND. Someone to tie shoes, answer questions, help with crafts, manage behavior...the list is seriously endless. I wish every elementary teacher could have a para. I share her with another Kinder teacher, and it just works beautifully.

Kinder still has testing, but it's very minimal. Grading is just a breeze compared to upper. A BREEZE.

NONE. I don't like homework. I hate how it encroaches on home time. In the upper grades I tried to make it easier on families by having weekly packets that weren't due until Friday. This year I only asked that they read 20 minutes each night. I only sent packets home for expected Snow Days (not required work, just for fun.) I also sent website links and made accounts for ABC Mouse so they could have the extra practice if they wanted. Next year I think I'll send home monthly homework packets, because I've realized that parents AND the kids actually like doing them (at their leisure.) The kids especially are so cute when they realize they can "do work," if that makes any sense? Just another reason I love this age.

My para helped me with this- singing really helps them learn. It seems so simple, but honestly, we just never did it very much in 2nd grade. From phonics songs on YouTube, to chants and rhymes we use daily...singing is a huge part of Kinder and I loooooove that.

It was weird having Audrey be older than my students for once! Although she's still shorter than most of them, lol.

Coming from an end of the year 2nd grade mindset to beginning of the year Kinders was an eye opener. I expected them to be doing waaaaay more than they were capable of. Some of them couldn't even write their name. Culture shock for sure. I know I'll feel it again come September, especially given the growth they made this year alone.

While teaching is not easy, I definitely felt more at ease this year because it was overall more enjoyable. It always comes down to the kids- they are truly the reason I love my job! I'm looking forward to spending the rest of my teaching years in Kindergarten (maybe even looping up with a special class or two?) When you are blessed to spend your days with children, they become apart of your heart. This was an amazing year and I'm looking forward to many more!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Abigail Mae is FIVE!

Oh, that face...I am totally in love with this beauty!

She is beautiful inside and out. She melts our hearts with the kindness she shows her little sister. She's constantly trying to give Annie things, or trying to make her happy. I think she's very good with younger kids; she really likes being the role model/teacher.

She is quick and witty. So often I find myself repeating what she said to Chris because she's just so funny. I love how she uses large words.

I get one on one time with her in the morning...she's back to being the early riser and I love hearing her little footsteps making their way down the stairs. Other than that, Audrey usually steals her away the rest of the day, lol.

She and Audrey are best friends. They play together all the time. Recently Abby had a sleepover at Grandma's and Audrey didn't know what to do with herself, lol. They play school, dress up, and just have so many adventures together. I dread the day Audrey outgrows these things. It makes me feel better to know Abigail will have Annie to play with, but there is something so special about Audrey and Abigail's relationship. I hope they stay close as they grow older.


She's a great helper. She unloads the dishwasher and moves clothes from the washer to the dryer. She "cleans" her room.

She's SO ready for kindergarten. She knows & writes her letters and sounds and can count (but she CANNOT say 13! She says,"eleven, twelve, firteen, fourteen..."...that "th" digraph is impossible for her, lol!!) I was scoring my students' spelling assessment and she asked if she could do one. I called out the 5 words and watched in amazement as she carefully sounded out each word. The first 3 words she got the beginning and ending sounds...she spelled the last 2 words perfectly! In Kindergarten she will definitely need to be challenged while having opportunity to express her creativity.

She is so theatrical. She likes to act and sing. The world is her stage! I hope she keeps that confidence her entire life.

She's highly sensitive. We definitely have to take a different approach when disciplining her. She needs comfort and calmness, something I'm trying really hard to remember (when she loses her cool, I lose mine!) I just do not understand her rush to cry, whine, and complain the moment something displeases her. Chris is way more empathetic. I want to be better for her.

I am not trying to rush her to grow up, but I seriously cannot wait to see her in the halls at school so I can kiss that beautiful face every time I see it! I love that she has had her own time in preschool, with her own friends and teachers and experiences. That is so important. It's given her a sense of independence that she definitely needed. I like that we all do our own things during the day, then come together to talk and reflect and laugh...there's a lot of teachable moments that come out of those times. It's something I know will be vital as they get older and go through middle and high school.

She fascinates me every day. I still can't believe how much my heart expanded on the day she was born. She's our little buttercup!!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Anne Elizabeth is two and a half!

This baby may be in the middle of the Terrible Twos...but she's so terrifically wonderful at the same time! And so darn CUTE.

Terrific: Annie is very much the clown. She is SO silly and loves to make us laugh. She always has to announce, "I farted!"
Terrible: She thinks it's hilarious when she gets to flush the toilet- she looks at me and says, "Hahd, ha, I did it...nah nah nah boo boo!" What?! And sometimes, when she "apologizes", she says it very sarcastically: "Sor-ray!"

Terrific: She's the best sleeper. Goes to bed around 7, wakes around 6. Takes a great 2+ hour nap. I put her down wide awake and she slowly puts herself to sleep. I've gone into her room to check on her and many times she'll just be laying there, smiling and dozing off.
No terribles here! #sleeptrainingftw

Terrific: she has so much of her baby squishiness left. She gets countless kisses and squeezes every day!
Terrible: She gets awful eczema flare ups. I'm ready for warmer weather where she can wear dresses that don't constantly rub the sensitive spots on her skin.

Terrific: She is potty trained except at night and during naps.
Terrible: She waits for these times to do #2, so almost every time we get her out of bed she's stinky :)

Terrific: Her favorite song is Roar by Katy Perry. She wants it played again and again in the van. It's hysterical to watch her sing with such passion. I love listening to her sing it when she's waiting for us to get her out of bed in the morning.
Terrible: She cries if I don't play it back to back to back (ugh.)

Terrific: She's saying too many words to list. She talks ALL the time! My favorite is when you say, "I love you!" and she replies, "I love you SO much!" I die when she says, "Pick up me!" LOL
Terrible: "I don't want/like it!" and she definitely yells when she's mad, even when you can't understand her. I'll look at her and say, "You talk nicely, do not yell," THAT really upsets her.

Terrific: She likes to act like a puppy or a kitten. She'll crawl around making sounds and rubbing or pawing against my leg.

Terrible: When she gets mad she'll hit her sisters and yell. When she gets in trouble she'll cry uncontrollably, her feelings are SO hurt, you can just see it in her eyes. She's very sensitive about getting in trouble. I can see some stubborness in her.

Terrific: She's like Audrey in so many ways, her sensitivity and silliness especially. Her little body is holding a crazy big personality...just sit and have a conversation with her :)

Terrific: She is so polite, she says, "Thank you!" all the time. It sounds like "shay shoo," LOL!!
Terrible: On the flip side, if something irritates her she'll yell, "Stop it!" I can usually get her to say, "Please, stop."

Terrific: She is SUPER independent and wants to do everything by herself. She is so good at taking off her own shirts and nightgowns. She gets the proudest look on her face as she wiggles out of them! I can tell her to go put her shoes on...and she DOES. I'm still trying to get the big girls to do that, lol.
Terrible: She is SUPER independent and wants to do EVERYTHING by herself. Which takes forever sometimes. She wants to do her own car seat buckle. She wants to brush her own teeth after I do.

I swear. I look at her and my heart swells. I SO want to keep her this age for much, much longer. The teriffics outshine the terribles for sure. As much as I don't want her to grow so fast, I cannot wait to see how her little personality develops. We love our sweet Annie baby.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sweet Valentines

These girls make my heart so happy.

We had an awesome 4 day weekend thanks to President's Day AND a snow day. It was great to be holed up at home with zero plans.

Audrey earned a wonderful report card. So proud of that girl, I really love seeing her thrive. She still loves snuggle time with her momma :) She's doing much better sleeping in her own room and we've been letting her stay up later (8:00.) She says she feels much better when I'm upstairs as she's falling asleep. A couple times a week she'll fall asleep in bed with me and then Chris moves her when he comes to bed. I love that I get special one-on-one time with her every night when the littlest girls are fast asleep...

Abigail is my earliest riser and she comes down to snuggle with me on the couch every morning. I LOVE this one-on-one time with HER. I could just eat her up! She loves to read and write. She reads familiar books to me at bedtime, and to her baby dolls as well. She writes notes for Audrey's lunch box and asks me to bring home papers from Kindergarten for her to work on. She and Audrey "do work" when they play together, which consists of Audrey teaching Abby math, reading, and writing. Those girls!! When I pick her up from school, her teachers say, "She is SOOO fun to hang out with!" And she really has been amazing to see her thrive socially. I watch her hug her friends as she leaves (she especially loves Lyla and Jason!) and it makes me so happy :)

Anne is such a clown. She is just so goofy! She can also be sassy if her older sisters are getting on her nerves, which is 90% of the time. She's very independent; when her big sisters are "working", she is completely fine doing her own thing. This is when I get my alone time with her, as well as before bed (she's the first one down and the last one up!)

I love them more than words can say.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Our House: Living Room

Oh how I love this room!!

When we were going over our options, Chris was dead set against having a fireplace (for several reasons.) I was bummed- I grew up with a fireplace and I loved laying next to it after a long day of sledding and playing in the snow. I also wanted a mantel I could decorate!

He wouldn't budge and so no fireplace for us :( However, I am completely in love with our credenza! Originally we had planned to hang the tv but we really like the way it looks now (and I don't have to decorate the top!) As much as I thought I'd want a mantel to decorate, I'm kind of glad we don't have one...I'm way too indecisive and it would probably just be bare.

I had been staring at the blank wall across from the couch for weeks. I couldn't decide what to hang, and for me it was between two choices...a gallery wall or a 3x3 array of large white picture frames. I had already started gathering items for a gallery wall and I had another space in mind for the photo frame idea, so one morning I just picked up a hammer and started. I absolutely LOVE how it turned out! In the old house our tv wall stayed bare because I could not decide on how to decorate it. This time I was determined to NOT wait years to decide on something!

To do:

-style the credenza shelves

-hang more curtains on the big windows (the guys left out 2 panels for some reason?!)

-purchase the chair and a half for in front of the gallery wall

-buy a floor lamp or a small table & lamp to go with the chair and a half

-should we hang something above the tv?

-drill a hole in the small table and feed the lamp cord through

-possibly put a console table or something under the two mirrors

View from the kitchen

I love sitting here early in the morning with my coffee until Miss Abby comes down to snuggle with me. We can see the beautiful sunrise out of the side windows. The large picture window is my favorite! There is so much natural light that comes through, even on cloudy days I have to close the curtains, lol.

This room quickly came together and I really love it. It's so colorful- a complete switch from the boring beige of the old house. I'm hoping to carry out the colorful scheme throughout the first floor.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Our Home: Kitchen

When I first walked into the Emerson model last December, I fell in love with how open the kitchen was. It doesn't feel separate from the living area at all.

There's plenty of room to move around and tons of counter space for food prep. It gets SO much light from the door and windows. I am so, so happy we went with the white/gray combination. It's so airy and cheerful and bright. It always looks so clean and fresh.

This space is really functional. Coffee mugs are above the coffee maker. The girls have the far right top cabinet for their snacks and the bottom cabinet for their plates/bowls/cups and containers, so I use this space to pack their lunches.

We like to keep the countertops as clear as possible. In the old house we had everything out and it not only limited our work space, but it just looked so busy and cramped, even when the kitchen was all cleaned up. We still have a toaster but after we use it and empty it, we put it away. We have plenty of drawers now, so there's no need for a canister of large utensils. Now we only leave out the essentials- coffee maker and knife block. We do leave the mixer out too, because it's pretty :)

Originally Chris was against having a drying rack. He said, "We'll wash them, dry them, and put them right away." HA. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Needless to say, we also leave out the drying rack.

With all the time we gained from moving closer, we can keep it much more tidy. And since it is so open to the main living area, it really needs to be kept that way. It also helps that we have a separate pantry and a ton of cabinets and drawers for storage space. It feels like we filled them all up pretty quickly!

Eating area:

Usually the girls eat at the island since they tend to be messy and sweeping the floor is much easier than busting out the vacuum. Even though we have a pocket office, I still like to work at the table because I have so many things to spread I like being in the middle of all the action :)

To do:
-Decorate the wall between the window and the door. Also, do something with the wall between the eating area and living room. I welcome any advice/suggestions!

-Build a deck...oh that will be so lovely!!

-Get a centerpiece for the kitchen table.

One of my favorite things about the kitchen is the island. I love to see all three girls sitting there, enjoying meals and each other. I sure do love these faces and the new memories we're making in this house!