Saturday, August 24, 2013

Preschool Week 2: And God Made ...

Bible Story/lesson: Genesis 1: God created land and plants
Shape: Line
Letter: B
Number: 2
Color: blue
Book: If You Give A Pig A Pancake

Bible Lesson

First off, let me just say that I am impressed on a daily basis by this boy's brain. I truly underestimated his brain's capacity to learn, but he is proving me each wrong minute by minute. His recall ability is second to none, and he loves to talk about last week's lessons, particularly when it's dark around us. Cohen loves to tell us, "God said, 'Let there be light!' and He turned the light on!"

This week, we continued working on our Bible verse, Genesis 1:1. Somewhere along the lines, he got a little lazy and dropped In the beginning, so I am having to remind him that that is part of the verse, too. We focused on Creation Day 3 this week, talking about how God created dry land and plants.

On Tuesday, we used construction paper and glue to make the third page in our Creation Book. Cohen is showing a huge interest in using scissors, but he's also left handed and the only pair of safety scissors the Dollar Tree sells is for right handed kids. So that has been quite frustrating to him.

On Wednesday, we painted cupcake liners to represent the beautiful flowers that God created. Cohen really surprised me with this craft: he was completely independent. We used this as a lesson on our shape of the week: lines, and he took off with his little marker making lines for the flowers' stems. Then he drew circles for the leaves and glued on the flowers. This was the first all-Cohen activity he's done.


We worked on the letter B this week. First, we made the B  page of our alphabet book. We cut out the letter B and talked about how it makes the beh beh beh sound. Then we talked about words that start with the beh beh beh sound. Like beh beh beh bumble bee. And beh beh beh balloon. I cut out paper and he glued to turn his letter into a bumble bee.

I think this is going well. He gets the concept that letters make sounds, but he can't quite match them up yet. He'll say, "Ah ah ah apple. Ah ah ah ant. Ah ah ah bear." I just correct him and more on. I hope it'll click for him as we practice more and introduce more letters and sounds.

A few weeks ago, I bought a little alphabet workbook for us to work through. It may be for kids a bit older than him, but I think with my guidance, he can do well with it. I know his motor skills aren't there yet for him to actually write letters, but I don't see the harm in tracing and practicing, so that's what we do. For the B page, I showed him that a B is just a line with two circles and let him practice. Pretty good for a two year old!

We read If You Give A Pig A Pancake this week, and while the lack of story infuriated me more and more each time we read it, Cohen really liked this book. What I did like is how rich and detailed the illustrations were. They allowed Cohen to use his imagination and tell me what's going on in the story.

We used a variety of pink circles to create a pig of our own. Cohen really likes making characters of his own. It's fun to give him a shape and tell him what it is ("This is the pig's nose") and watch him figure out where it's supposed to go in the picture. And check out that circle work! This boy is becoming a circle pro.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Preschool, Week 1: Alligators and the Llama

Before I had Cohen, I was a teacher. And, dare I say it, I was a pretty great teacher at that. I loved my job. I loved coming up with creative lessons and watching my students enjoy them. I loved watching children learn and knowing that I did that.

After Cohen was born, teaching was no longer my passion; my child was. I quit teaching a few months after Cohen was born so that I could be a stay at home mom. And I have loved this new "job". I can't think of any better way to spend my days than loving on my children, raising them intentionally. But lately? Lately, I've been feeling an old familiar itch. I miss teaching, but there's no way I want to return to the classroom just yet.

A few weeks ago, it hit me: I want to teach, and I've got a 2.5 year old who is my captive all day long. Instead of sending him off to preschool, why don't I teach him? Why don't I use my talents and passions to create an early learner in my own child? Sounds like a win-win to me.

I am using the Year 2 Curriculum from ABC Jesus Loves Me and modifying it as I see fit. My goal this year is for Cohen to recognize every letter of the alphabet and every number as well was grow in his knowledge of the Bible and his love of reading, so that is what I am really focusing on with this curriculum.

Bible Story/lesson: Genesis 1: God created light and the sky
Shape: Circle
Letter: A
Number: 1
Color: red
Book: Llama Llama Red Pajama

Bible Lesson
We started at the beginning with Genesis. Over the weekend, I taught him the Bible verse in the form of a song (to the tune of "Are You Sleeping?")

In the beginning (in the beginning)
God created (God created)
the heavens and the Earth (the heavens and the Earth)
Genesis 1:1 (Genesis 1:1)

He really enjoyed having a new song to sing, and by the time we started our lesson on Tuesday, the words weren't foreign to him. I am using The Beginners Bible with our lessons, and I read the first three pages every day this week: God created the heavens and Earth, God separated the light from the darkness, and God separated the waters and the sky.

On Tuesday, we focused on God creating the heavens and the Earth. I showed him a picture of the Earth and told him that's where we live. We decided that the blue on the Earth is water and the green is land. Then we each got a coffee filter and a blue and green marker. We colored green land on our coffee filters, and we colored blue water on our filters. Next, we took a spray bottle and sprayed our filters and watched the colors blend together.

On Wednesday, we focused on God creating light. I gave Cohen a little flashlight and took him into the bathroom where it would be completely dark. I told him this is what the Earth looked like before God created light. He didn't like it -- darkness reminds him of bedtime. Then I said, "God said, 'Let there be light!'" while at the same time turning on the flashlight. Cohen really enjoyed this, and we made a game of it for a little while. I'd turn off the light, and he'd say "Let there be light!" and shine his flashlight.

On Thursday, we read our Bible again, only this time, Cohen could "read" to me -- he could tell me all about creation days 1&2. After we read, he made a picture illustrating Day 2 by gluing cotton balls to the sky and painting the water blue. He likes all these crafts, but it really bothers him when his fingers get dirty.

Also, by the end of the week, he can recite Genesis 1:1 to me when I ask him. That's a pretty huge victory.

Shape and Color
Cohen already knows most of his colors and shapes already, but I want to formally teach him to give him a solid foundation. On Tuesday, I gave him a piece of construction paper with a large circle already drawn on it. I asked him what shape it was, and then we practiced tracing it with our index finger "round and round and round". Then I gave him a red crayon and let him trace the circle with his crayon, then later color it.

On Wednesday, we took our flashlight and went on a circle hunt around the room, shining our flashlight on all the circles we could find. He really liked this game and will frequently pick up his flash light and play the game by himself even when we're not having preschool. He's my new Circle Detective.

Thursday, I gave him some paint and a plastic cup and taught him how to "stamp" circles onto paper. After he grew tired of the cup, I gave him a straw to make smaller circles, but the straw was too flimsy and just caused him to become frustrated.

Letter and Number
I introduced the letter A to Cohen. I had cut out a large A out of green construction paper. We talked about the sound that A makes (ah ah ah). We created an alligator out of the letter based on these instructions. Cohen had a lot of fun with his alligator. We spent the rest of the week reviewing A and the sound it makes.

We went to the library for Toddler Time on Tuesday and afterwards I taught Cohen how we find books and let him check out his own book, Llama Llama Red Pajama. When we got home, he was so excited about his book. 

We investigated the cover and decided that the creature on the cover was a llama since he was wearing red pajamas just like the title said (Cohen originally thought it was a rabbit because it has long ears). We made a paper bag puppet according to the directions on this website. Cohen liked coloring the llama's jammies and gluing it all to the paper bag. It blew his mind when he learned he could put his hand in there and make the llama talk.

Cohen really loved the book and he giggled all the way through it. We read it three times on Tuesday. When we read it again on Wednesday, he impressed me with all the ways he could make text-to-self connections (yay, teacher lingo!).

Thursday, we read the book again, and just like with the Bible, he could retell the story all by himself. Since he loves his Llama Llama puppet so much, I thought he'd enjoy an activity that would help his llama go to bed. I found this quilt activity on Toddler Approved, and it was a hit. Cohen really enjoyed the freedom he had in choosing the color squares to make his quilt for llama. My original plan was for him to do this activity multiple times with a different rule each time, but he was adamant that I let him glue the squares on the first time. I choose my battles, so we got out the glue. 

Overall, we had a very successful first week of homeschool preschool. Cohen thoroughly enjoyed himself and asked to do preschool at least every hour of the day. I am impressed with what he's learned already in just 3 days of deliberate teaching, and I am looking forward to seeing his progress in the months to come.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

In Celebration

In case you aren't lactating and therefore pay very little attention to what's going on in the breastfeeding "community", you probably didn't know that last week, we celebrated World Breastfeeding Week. 

Exciting, yes? I accept presents of all kind. 

Breastfeeding is not something I like to talk about outside of my close circle of family and friends (however those people hear a lot about it since it's a huge part of my life right now). I don't know why that is. I guess it's just a practice and a topic that we are uncomfortable with and prefer not think and talk about much. Actually, typing the word "breast" so much in this post is giving me a severe case of red cheeks, and if I made eye contact with anyone right now, I'd probably break out in nervous giggles. 

When Cohen was a baby, I was super uncomfortable with breastfeeding. I knew about the benefits, so I forced myself to breastfeed for a few weeks, quickly giving up and coming up with a lot of excuses for why I did. But as Cohen grew and thrived on formula, I began to develop a lot of guilt over the fact that I didn't breastfeed him for all that long. I knew I was missing out on something. 

So when I became pregnant with Reid, I knew breastfeeding was something I wanted to make a priority. For Reid and for me. Luckily, breastfeeding has been relatively easy from the start: Reid never had any latch issues and I never had any supply issues. It's been a journey that's hopefully only just beginning. I have come to love breastfeeding, and in celebration of this week, I wanted to share why:

1. I absolutely love the snuggles that breastfeeding supplies. Especially at night and nap time. We nurse lying down in bed a lot, and I just adore the way he drapes his arm and leg across my body as he eats. 

2. I love how much Reid seems to love breastfeeding. I can usually catch him smiling as he nurses. Whenever we cuddle together, he'll snuggle into my chest, and I can feel his whole body relax. 

3.  I love the bond it's created. I am the most important person in his life because I am the one with the milk. I'm fully aware of how selfish that sounds, but I'm allowing myself to be a little selfish. 

4. Reid is weighing over 12 pounds now. He's getting some serious chunk on him. And you know what? I did that. I'm proud of his chub. 

5. Reid might be gaining weight, but I'm losing it. Breastfeeding is allowing me to shave off those last few stubborn pregnancy pounds. And I still get to eat ice cream. 

6. Every 2 hours, Reid wants to eat. That means that every 2 hours , I have an excuse to sneak away with my baby for a few minutes. 

7. I don't have to pack a diaper bag every time I leave the house. I just grab my baby and go. No bottles, no formula. Easy. 

8. I also don't have to buy formula. That's just money that stays in my wallet. 

9. I love that whenever Reid seems inconsolable, all I have to do is nurse him to help him calm down. 

10. I like the confidence I've gained from breastfeeding my son. This is something that only I can do for my son, and I'm doing it well. That feels pretty great. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Reid is 2 months old

Dear Reid,

Yesterday you turned 2 months old. How has that happened? It literally feels like I was just in the hospital with you brand new and in my arms. You are growing at light-speed, little boy. I've heard people say that second babies grow faster than first babies, and I can totally agree. Some days I just want to beg you to slow down and just be my tiny baby forever, and then some days I recognize how wonderfully you are growing and developing, and I am proud.

This month was a tough one, both for you and for me. We are both trying to figure out how you fit into this life, and it's both exhilarating and exhausting. You are very much a momma's boy, and you want nothing less than to be in my arms or pressed against my body at all hours of the day and night. I really don't mind because I know how quickly you are growing and that soon you won't let me hold you, but right now you're making it pretty hard to get anything accomplished. This seems to be the month of wonder weeks-- I think we've gone through 3 of them this month. These weeks are proof that you are growing by leaps and bounds, but they also cause you to be more fussy and clingy than normal. So we've done a lot of cuddling together. 

When you turned 6 weeks old, you had a doctor's appointment. You weighed 10 pounds, 10 ounces (that means you gained 2 pounds and 3 ounces since birth). You also grew an inch in height, making  your official height 21.5 inches. I credit all that growth to your expert nursing skills. You are seriously a pro at nursing. You eat every 2 hours, like clockwork. You even eat every 2 hours at night with the rare occasion that you'll sometimes sleep through a feeding. One night, you slept from 9:30 PM to 4 AM! It was only a one-time thing, but it was nice. You're still sleeping by my side at night, and you're not showing any signs that you're ready to move to your crib yet. I tried to have you nap in your crib yesterday and you would not have any part of that. You cried like your heart was broken for 15 minutes after I picked you up. We'll try again in a week or two.

You are starting to give smiles a little more freely now, even smiling at people you are not familiar with. You smile the most in the mornings, and sometimes you'll wake me up early in the morning just to look in my eyes and smile and coo. You're finding your voice, and it's just too adorable. I love to hear you coo. Another thing you've found this month is your fist: you have started sucking on it when a pacifier is not avaailable. Those sucking noises are adorable. You are also learning how to track things with your eyes, and you really seem to enjoy watching your big brother play. When you are awake, you are only happy if you're in a sitting position -- forget trying to get you to lie down for more than a few minutes.

I am seeing you start to come into your own. You are developing your own likes and dislikes, and it's really neat to watch you become your own person. You are starting to love bathtime (you hated baths before). I bought you a new bath seat that sits you right in the big bathtub, and you are perfectly content relaxing in the water while Cohen plays next to you. You are starting to enjoy play time, too. You typically don't like to leave my arms for any amount of time, but you'll make an exception when I lay you in your crib and surround you with some of your toys. You like to bat at the toys and coo at them.

You really are just the most precious little boy. You are sweet and cuddily and loving and you have stolen my heart. Even though you've only been here for two months, it feels like you've been a part of our lives forever. You complete our family in a way I could have never imagined. How did we ever  feel like a family without you in it? We are blessed, for sure.