Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Off to school she goes.....

All grown up.....
Today, I was a basket case. I cried in front of a complete stranger. It was Kaitlyn's first day of Kindergarten. She was just fine....walzed right into her classroom and sat down, waiting for something to start. I managed to keep it together until I was walking to the car after leaving Kaitlyn behind.....and the tears just flowed. A nice lady (who had translated for me the night of the teacher-parent meeting) named Stacey gave me a big hug and told me that she felt the same way when her little guy first went to school....that made me feel a little less weird for crying. I was under the impression that we were going to be able to be in the classroom for the morning, to ease Kaitlyn into her 'all french' class, but just after we showed her where to hang her bag up and put her 'outside shoes' away, she slipped into the classroom and the teacher was at the door saying that parents weren't allowed in because it would be too chaotic.....I didn't even get to say goodbye to Kaitlyn or tell her that we would be back at lunch.....I was leaving Kaitlyn with a bunch of strangers who only spoke french and she didn't know a soul or where to go to the bathroom or even how to ask if she could go to the bathroom.......
I felt like I had abandoned her.....I know, I know....dramatic....but my mother's heart was grieving when we drove away from her school.....I just wanted her to be okay, to make friends, to have fun, to not be scared because she doesn't understand what anyone is saying or what she is sopposed to do.....I wanted to be there to help her out at first.....but I just had to leave her in God's hands as my husband said to me. Easier said then done, but in my heart of hearts, I know he is right.....
We came back around lunch time (I had regained my composure by then) and had a nice lunch with her class outside.....she seemed to be having a good was good to see her still smiling and wanting to go back (without us) to her classroom after lunch. She waved and I blew a kiss and watched her walk confidently and excitedly back into her school......she is more brave than me, that's for sure.
We picked her up at 3:25 and she was full of stories about her day......tired but excited to go back to school. Thank God for an adventurous, confident, courageous, trusting little girl......I know she will do well at school.....and I think I'll make it too.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Alphabet Fun- Reading 101

When I set out to teach Kaitlyn how to read, I wondered what would be the best way to help her learn this important skill while keeping it fun and creative and challenging.  My sister was using 'The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading' and she highly recommended that resource as the main resource for teaching your child how to read. I have not been disappointed. It lays out each lesson clearly, separating the vowels from the consonants, and teaching the child each phonetic sound through repetition and memorizing. It also outlines what you (the instructor) should say and how to teach the new letter. For example, for the letter B, it prompts the Instructor to show the letter (upper and lower case), then say the sound 5 times, then the child says the sound with you 5 times, then the instructor says three words that begin with B, and then the child repeats those words after the instructor. "B stands for b in b, b bat" (the first line in the "Consonant Poem" they will memorize). Some lessons have activities outlined for further phonetic practise, but in general, each lesson is short, easy to teach, effective and fun.
In addition to learning phonics, Kaitlyn completes a trace and copy work sheet that coincides with the letter of the day. These upper and lowercase 'alphabet tracing' sheets are readily available online for free and often include a picture to color (ie: Bb to practise writing and a picture of a butterfly to color).
We finish our lesson with an alphabet craft, for the letter B, I drew the letter on a piece of construction paper and Kaitlyn (and Lily) glued on a variety of buttons. Simple, creative, fun, and reinforcing the letter of the day.
The beauty of these activities is that my toddler Lily (2.5 years old when we started back in October 2011) has loved 'school' as well......I always print out an extra copy of whatever sheet Kaitlyn is working on so Lily can scribble color as well, and her little ears have picked up sounds of letters too, just by being at the table with us, learning. Lily can write her name (you may need me to interpret what letter is what) and she knows some of the "Consonant Rhyme Poem" which is a bonus. 
Below are pictures of each of the alphabet crafts we have done....all of them are simple, mostly mess-free and cheap to do.
A is for Apple pie
Letter A - Apple stamping/Apple Picking/Apple Pie Making
Letter B - Glue buttons onto the letter B
Letter C - Decorated the letter C with markers, glitter, stamps etc.
Letter D - Bingo dots on the letter D
Letter E - Glue Crushed eggshells onto the letter E
Letter F - Glue feathers onto the letter F
Letter G - Decorated the letter G with glitter glue
Letter H - Attached squiggly pipe cleaners with styrofoam balls on top to a head band
Letter I - Glued cotton balls onto a picture of an Igloo
Letter J - Coloured the letter J
Letter K - Made kites out of construction paper and a wire hanger
Letter L - Made lolli-pops out of construction paper and popsicle sticks (decorated the paper)
M is for mask
Letter M - Made masks out of construction paper, elastic bands to go behind the ears
Letter N - Made necklaces and bracelets with beads and pipe cleaners
Letter O - Coloured the letter O
Letter P - Made a popsicle stick basket and a popsicle stick pencil holder
Letter Q - Punched holes with toothpick around a picture of a duck and hung it up in the window
Letter R - Glued fruit loops on a picture of a rainbow
Letter S - Coloured the letter S
Letter T - Made tissue paper flowers
Letter U - Made construction paper umbrella mobiles
R is for rainbow
Letter V - Made a vegetable collage
Letter W - Weather collage
Letter X - Treasure hunt "X marks the spot"
Letter Y - Wrapped a vase with yarn (looks cooler than it sounds)
Letter Z - Coloured the letter Z

** This was a post that I wrote several months ago but didn't post.....I kinda forgot about it.....but I think now is a good time to share these ideas as there are stay-at-home moms with toddlers who may be thinking about homeschooling this fall. (One month away---time to start planning!!) I hope these simple crafts and resources can help you as much as they did me.....and that you have just as much fun learning as we did! We are still working our way through the "Ordinary Parent's Guide to Reading" which is now beginning to introduce short words and sight words. Kaitlyn still enjoys reading the Bob Books which offer challenge and reward at the same time. I'd love to hear your ideas......

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Adventures in the Kitchen # 6: Good Old fashion Pancakes

Okay, so maybe I am cheating a bit on this one.....pancakes are nothing new around our house.....but since my cookbooks are all packed away, I didn't have my usual go-to pancake recipe to use for a low key sunday night I searched online for a simple, quick pancake recipe and voila! I found one! If you can't tell from the title of this recipe......this ones a keeper.....
Enjoy a low-key Sunday night dinner......add some fresh blueberries and strawberries on top, or for those daring enough.....add some chocolate chips.....each topped with melted butter and real maple syrup.
YUM! A bonus for the kids.....make pancake people, letters, shapes......

Adventures in the Kitchen # 6: Good Old Fashion Pancakes
A whole stack of yumminess

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10-15 minutes
Serves: 4-6 

1.5 Cups flour
1 Tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg beaten
1 1/4 Cups of milk
3 Tablespoons melted butter

Preheat griddle/frying pan over low/medium heat.
Combine dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.
Stir in milk, eggs and butter. 
Stir until lumps are gone.
Create pancake masterpieces.

**Preheat oven to 175 to keep pancakes warm until the batter is all used up. Put pancakes in a covered oven-safe dish to keep them moist. 

Recipe found on

My kids LOVE this meal......they pile on the blueberries and also really enjoy when we make pancake people for them, complete with pancake clothes they can dress them in (make a pancake skirt or some pants to put on the pancake people). I usually serve this meal with scrambled eggs and if we're lucky, some bacon too. Easy meal, fun for the kids and yummy for everyone. Lots of thumbs up in our house for this one. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

You're only 5 years old once.....

I am kind of still in disbelief that my sweet Kaitlyn is now 5 years old! It all happened so fast. Some parts a blur, other parts are so vivid in my mind. Pictures help me to remember moments that I might've forgotten (we are so blessed to have digital camera's!) and convince me that yes, Kaitlyn really was 7lbs 6oz at one time in her life.  She has grown into a little (big) girl now, and it is an awesome privilege to see her just beginning to piece together this crazy journey called life. She has been a blessing to us and so many others....her contact list is almost as long as mine....she is a friend to so many. Lily thinks Kaitlyn is the best big sister and she is Lily's closest friend. I am so thankful that God gave me two little girls who can walk this life, adventures and new experiences, giggles, house, tea parties, dress-up, bike rides, running, sharing, fighting, forgiving, sharing a bed, singing out loud, and encouraging each other to live lives that are pleasing to Him.

Some things I don't want to forget about Kaitlyn are:
The Rapunzel Party Crew

-You are currently obsessed with Rapunzel (hence the birthday party theme-if you could wear that long braid made out of yarn everyday and everywhere, you would)
-The faster your bike goes, the better (and you swerve a lot which freaks me out!!!)
-You have been patiently waiting for some new friends, and we are both praying for some new friends for you at your new school
-Your sole reason for wanting to learn french is so you can make "french friends'
-You are a morning person (so opposite of me!) and often wake us up to show us what outfit you have chosen to wear for the day and how you have done your pony tail all by yourself
-You wear skirts and dresses 95% of the time.....and a wardrobe change is to be expected at least one other time during the day
-You are friendly, approachable and considerate of others (most of the time)
-You are the best big sister to Lily, patient, inclusive, encouraging, and protective
-You are brave......waltzing into a new sunday school class and just giving a little wave before entering into a place where you know no one but so excited to meet some new 'friends' (you need to rub off on Lily a bit in this department)
Sizing up the cake
-You desire in your heart of hearts to please God, to live as He wants you to and to follow His Word. I love to see you learn and grow and am looking forward to watching you mold into who He wants you to be.
-You have a wicked memory.....hence I always lose at memory game....and I try.....seriously, I do!
-You are into drawing from scratch....houses, people, bikes, trees, the sun and clouds, mom (who always has a pregnant belly.....I think you are sending me subliminal messages!) and Lily and Daddy
-You like to 'read' chapter books with pictures in them
-You are very pleased with yourself when you finish reading a BOB book on your will be reading chapter books soon Kaitlyn!
-Your favorite foods are juice boxes and homemade macaroni and cheese with steamed broccoli (with shredded cheese on it)
-You host a tea party daily....complete with water (tea), princess dresses and a table cloth
-Your favorite song is the God song by Starfield, as well as songs from Psalty and Music Machine
A game of 'hot and cold' brought you to the fridge to
find one of your gifts
-After watching much of the Olympics (where you said "I think we are watching too much TV"), whenever you are at the park you beeline for the jungle gym section and proceed to complete a full routine, concluded with your arms up and feet together. I give you 10's all the time.

I could go on and on......I just want you to know how much we love you and how proud we are of who you are becoming. I couldn't have asked for a better oldest daughter and I am so excited to watch you over the coming years.....the sky is the limit.
As you enter into full time school.....yes Mon-Fri all day.....I am not impressed with that schedule....but we want you to learn french and since we can't teach you at this point, I know this is the best way. God has given us a Christian school for you to attend, where I know the teachers and students will help you as much as you need. I pray for friends, and good friendships that can surpass the language barrier and encourage you as you learn a whole new language.
You have been such a trooper this past year as there have been so many transitions and goodbyes......I wish I could say there won't be any more, but the life that God has chosen for us is going to be one full of major life transitions and lots of hellos and goodbyes. A life rich in so many ways, but very challenging in other ways. Just know I will always be there for you, I pray we do this right, and stay  close emotionally throughout the years to come.....My arms will always be open for a hug, my ears always open to listen, my heart open to love and forgive, my hands teaching you the skills you need as you grow, and my with my mouth, I will be giving You to the One who made you and has a purpose and a plan for your life. May you grow up to know Him and serve Him with your whole heart and life.

Kaitlyn and Me
"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Slow Down Summer!!

Time is flying by.....just where exactly did July go? I didn't even get around to posting June here is a combo post highlighting some of what we did in the first part of this beautiful summer....

6am.... that's why i am still sleeping in the background! :)

Rainy day Activities in the Camper

Date with Daddy.....test driving a Fiat 500....
just for fun.