Friday, September 23, 2011

It's my blog............

...............and I'll brag if I want to!  Warning: If you hate listening to parents gush about how smart they think their kids are SKIP THIS POST!

I guess before I start bragging, I should admit that I do not have a degree in child development, education or any related field so I actually do not know when certain skills should be learned.  Plus I have learned enough from parenting books, blogs, other parents and my own experience to know that children learn different things in very different ways and at very different times.  For example, when Isabel turned 2 she already knew most of her letters but was definitely not the most coordinated kid in the world.  There was a lot she could not do physically.  Will, on the other hand, knew about 3 letters and had no desire to even try to learn any more.  However, the kid could climb, jump and hit a ball thrown at him from across the room. 

I have tried (although not always successfully) to NOT be that mom that is constantly comparing her kids with each other or others.  I never want to force my kids to learn as much as possible simply to say they know it.  I just want to celebrate (and brag a little) my kids successes....which brings us back to the point of this blog.

Recently Isabel has become obsessed with learning to read.  She has known her letters and sounds for a while now and can write pretty much every letter pretty well.  I didn't force or really even encourage most of it.  She has just always been that child that loved learning.  I have never done flashcards or sat her down and said it was time to learn.  I just explained things as we went about our day.  I had no idea what to do next though.  I didn't want to teach her something wrong and make her kindergarten teacher hate me. 

About a week ago we were riding in the car and Isabel and Will were both playing with their mini-magna-doodles.  Isabel was writing letters and was proud that she could write Will on her own.  Without really thinking about it, I started telling her to write letters and then see if she could sound it out.  First I told her to write I-T and she very quickly figured out it was the word it.  I went through some 2 letter words and then moved to 3 letter words.  Again, I have no idea what is "normal" but I was proud of how quickly she picked it up and sounded out each word.  Plus I LOVED how much she loved it!  During our game, we had to stop by the house and I ran in to get something.  When I came back to the car 2 minutes later Isabel showed me her magna-doodle.  She wrote A-S-C and said, "look mommy, I wrote the word ask!"  I was so impressed that she figured out how to spell something phonetically without even needing instructions.  I told her she did a great job but then also reminded her that there are 2 letters that make the "ck" sound and ASK is actually spelled with a "K."  I was worried that my perfectionist daughter would not appreciate the help but she was fine with it and wanted to continue the game (and still wants to every second we are in the car!!)

I'll brag on Will a little too since it is the post for that.  Have I mentioned lately that Will is all boy?  Seriously, the kid would like to be running, jumping, throwing, hitting a ball or wrestling every second of the day if he could.  This means that he is not the kid to bring me letter workbooks and ask me to teach him his letters, sounds, etc.  I'll admit that even though I try not to compare them, I was worried because Will was not learning certain things at the same time as Isabel did.  Luckily I have people around me to remind me that I am being ridiculous and shouldn't worry.  Anyway, apparently I just needed to figure out how Will did like to learn.  The only time he is really still is when I let them watch a movie on long car trips.  On the advice of other mommys to boys, I showed him the Leapfrog Letter Factory DVD.  After watching it 2 or 3 times he knew almost all his letters and now even knows a lot of the sounds.  He can also count pretty much as high as he wants (as long as I help him after 29, 39, etc) just from hearing Isabel do it over and over. 

Again, I have no idea what is normal but I'm proud of my kids, like that they enjoying learning and want to to keep track of when they learn certain skills.  Plus it's my blog and I'll brag if I want to! :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

There are animals at the zoo?

We have been to the zoo about a million times in the past few months but I never remember to bring my camera...until today!  We love the zoo but sometimes I think my kids forget that there are actual animals to go see.  Our zoo has a huge play area that they love.  They do love seeing some animals too but I'm pretty sure they would be fine hanging out in the play area the majority of the time.  crazy kids!
We have really gotten our money out of this stroller!

We love these guys.  I think they are gibbons.  There are 3 of them that are constantly swinging from the trees and putting on a show.  They are also the loudest animals ever! You can hear them from every part of the zoo, including the parking lot!

Just recently Will has decided that he is too big to just sit in the front of the stroller.  He wants to stand too like his big sister.  This does not always go over so well.  

Silly girl!  The elephants were apparently too busy to come close and play today!

Will used to have this crazy fear of giraffes.  We all love them now though, especially since there is a baby giraffe to watch.

 What is there not to love about the play area?  You can do cartwheels.....

jump over and over..

and do some crazy flying forward rolls!

There are also tunnels to crawl through..

and fun slides!

Fun with close-ups

I am far from a photographer but sometimes I get some decent pictures of my kids' faces and I love them!  I feel like close-ups really show their personalities sometimes!

Goodbye Summer....

Hello Fall!! Ok so maybe it doesn't officially start for another week or so but close enough!!  I am not a huge fan of winter (admit can get pretty depressing after a while) but I LOVE FALL!  What is there not to love?  Cooler weather.  Football!  Playing outside without fear of heat stroke or hypothermia. Leaves changing color?  Football!

Since the weather is amazing, we have spent a lot of time outside recently. Isabel enjoys it but Will absolutely loves every second that he is outside. I took some pictures when we were out playing the other day...

First Will rode his scooter...

while Isabel blew some bubbles.

Then it was time for a lot of baseball!  Will is willing to hit the ball off of the tee about 3 times and then wants me to throw it to him the rest of the time.  He misses some but I'm always amazed at how many he hits and how far the ball goes.

Isabel usually wants to hit the ball about 2 times and then she is done.  Why play baseball when there are bubbles to blow, pictures to draw with chalk and dances to do? :)

After he gets tired of baseball, Will is ready for football.  This usually involves a lot of rolling in the grass.  He does not seem to care that his pants are getting very dirty!

Isabel loves to blow bubbles while Will runs around like a crazy person trying to pop them all.  It is pretty funny to watch!

Yep, I love Fall!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Josh's surprise

Josh celebrated his 31st birthday last Tuesday.  We celebrated as a family that day, but his big surprise came the next day at church.  The amazing students and their parents that we work with love Josh so much.  One of the students decided a while back that he wanted to get Josh a new TV for his birthday (calling ours "a huge old dinosaur of a TV" ha ha!).  Many of the students and their families gave so generously and actually bought him the TV.  I was told about it a week before and was in complete shock.  Not telling Josh for that week was so hard, but I wanted the students to really get to enjoy his reaction.
So Wednesday afternoon one dad and his sons in the youth group came to our house to set up the TV.  Then at church they brought out the box for Josh to unwrap.  They assumed that Josh would think something else was in the box and he did....until they showed him a picture of the TV all set up in our house.  Obviously he was shocked but also so excited. 

I wish I had gotten better pictures but I decided he would know something was up if I brought my real camera to church.  This is the best I got....

Josh opening the box

so shocked!!

showing him the picture of the TV already set up in our house

his cake that they put 31 candles on...trick candles :)

As if all of this wasn't enough, one of the moms made Josh his favorite dessert..a strawberry pie!

We are both blown away by the love and generosity of the students and families that God allows us to work with.  They are amazing people!!

I didn't tell Isabel and Will anything about the TV since they are not so great at keeping secrets until I picked them up from their class at church.  Their responses were hilarious:

me:  guess what...the youth group got daddy a new TV!!
Isabel:  does it have new TV shows on it?
Will: Is it at a new house??
Isabel: Will it look different from our old TV?  Does it have polka dots on it??

The best was when we actually got home and they saw it.  I had explained that it was a bigger TV so Isabel immediately went to examine it when she got home.  I watched her look at it and then look behind it.  Then she said, "It doesn't look bigger to me!"  I guess she is right if you only compare the flat screen to the huge box TV we had before. :)

Annual Girls Weekend

Once you do things twice you can start saying "annual" right?? 

Like last year, last weekend I spent 3 days at the beach with 2 of my best friends from college.  It was perfect! (well, except that one of us couldn't make it this year. We missed you Ashley!) What could be bad about 3 days away from responsibilities, enjoying perfect weather at the beach, eating seafood and shopping at outlet malls all with 2 of the people that know me best in the world??  It was so much fun!  We literally talked all weekend.  We never turned on a radio or a TV (ok I may have turned it on for just a second to check the score of the AL game..ROLL TIDE!) or opened a book.  It is so nice to have uninterrupted conversation with 2 people that know me so well, share my desire to make God a top priority in my life and family, and who are in the same life stage as I am in.  I am so thankful for amazing friendships that have lasted well over 10 years and for the time to spend with them. 

I am also very thankful that all 3 of us are blessed with amazing husbands who have no problem playing super-daddy all weekend so we can have this time away.

And just because I never put any pictures on the blog last year, here is a picture of all 4 of us last year:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bama cousins

The kids and I headed to Alabama for labor day weekend to spend time with family. I was pretty terrible about taking pictures most of the time we were there. We got there on Saturday, the day of Alabama's first football game of the season and all the kids were dressed to cheer on their team. Luckily I did at least try to get a picture of them.

Isabel and Will LOVE Ansley. Actually I think she is pretty great too....such a precious baby!

How cute is this Alabama tutu? A friend of my mom's made it and Isabel loves it!

3 out of 4 cousins is pretty good right?
  Avery was there too but she had too much to do to sit for a picture.

This is the best I got of that busy girl. She is so fun!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

More funnies...

before I forget...............

**After a long in-depth question and answer session with Isabel about people coloring their hair:
Isabel: I don't think I will ever paint my hair.  My hair is pretty how it is......AND it matches every one of my shirts!!

**Tonight Will wanted to pray about some boo-boos on his knee (that only he could see).  He prayed they would go away and then immediately pulled up his pants leg to check his knee.  I had to explain that it may take a little longer than that for God to answer his prayer.

**Isabel's night-time prayers have gotten longer and longer recently as she prays for everyone she has ever known....twice!  Here was part of here prayer the other night:
"and be with mommy and daddy and Will and Isabel.....well, that's me......but you knew that.....just like Santa" 

**Will's new favorite "insult"
"You're a possum!!"
no, I have no idea why...he is just weird :)