Monday, January 31, 2011

Space theme gathering

Today was Lana's theme gathering.
This past month, they've been studying space,
and I have been astounded at how much Lana has learned.
She can name the planets in order,
tell their position from the sun,
list interesting facts about each planet,
explain the difference between revolving and rotating
and explain how that influences day and night.

It was really enjoyable this afternoon to sit with the rest of the parents
as their class showed up some of the learning games and songs they've been doing in class,
and each child got to share their favorite work from the month.

Love Lana's dear teacher.

Showing us what it means to rotate and revolve:

They showed us their Jumping Planets game.
I do have to point out that my girl has ups!

 One of the goals of the monthly theme gathering is for students to have a chance to practice standing in front of a group of adults and briefly talking.  They do this by choosing their favorite work from the month and telling us about it.
Lana chose a watercolor of some of the planets that she had done:

One of the benefits of having a monthly gathering like this is that I get to see my girl interacting with her peers.  This allows me the opportunity to authentically assess her strengths and weaknesses as they relate to her peers.  
Today I learned that one of her strengths is that she is very engaged with her teacher, and that she is motivated by competition.  I learned that one of her weaknesses is that she's bossy.  (I do believe that trait could be learned and/or inherited in her case.  Whoops.)  I am grateful for this because it gives me a way to talk to her about it.  I knew that she was probably kind of bossy in her class, but I can usually only talk to her about it in generalities.  Today I was able to talk to her about it specifically, gently giving her examples of when she was bossing her friends ("No, don't sit right there!"  "It's not time for that yet!"  "Oh, your work is over there, don't forget it."), and give her ideas for how that might make her friends feel, along with giving her ways to be a better friend.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Life with Lana today (4 years, 6 months)

Profile of a 4 and a half-year-old Lana
  • Enjoys: going to preschool, sweet treats, cooking with Mommy, playing outside, gymnastics
  • Turn Offs: naptime, oatmeal, Tucker taking her toys, something being "not fair"
  • Vices: wanting to discuss/argue/debate everything to death (I know my mom is laughing her head off reading that.  Yes, I realize this is payback, Mother.)
  • Strengths: eager to pitch in and help, very generous - will give everything away, a quick learner

    Favorites of a 4-year-old Lana
    • Foods: mac & cheese, brown rice, anything sweet
    • Songs: Jesus Loves Me....she's been singing this old favorite a lot lately.
    • Shows: A couple of months ago, she loved Dora, but then she discovered Diego, and she much prefers him.  She says that she's going to be animal rescuer like him, just as soon as she finds some animals that need rescuing.
    • Books: library books - she really enjoys picking out her own.   
    • Toys: her Tag reader is by far her favorite right now - she loves it!  We've got more books for her that she'll get in her spring basket.
    • Activities: playing family, making crafts, "writing" in her notebook, watching Disney movies
    How 4 and a half-year-old Lana is like her...
    mommy - she doesn't like to eat breakfast
    daddy - she gets distracted easily

    Treasuring details of my 4 year old:
    • She had strep throat earlier this month, and got to watch several Disney movies....she's so into them now!  This is tentative territory for me.  I'm not overly excited about her spending too much time watching the princess/prince bit - I just want her mind and imagination focused on other things (like being an animal rescuer!).  However, I know better than to make a "never, none" rule, so we watch them together and talk about what's going on.  And then we get out straws and pretend like they're swords and she tells me "on guard!" and all is right with my world.  
    • She's started spending her rest/quiet time in the afternoons "writing," in addition to reading.  Her handwriting leaves something to be desired, but I haven't pushed that at all, so I'm happy to see her interested.  If the opportunity presents itself, maybe I'll work with her some on letter formation if she's interested.
    • Just this past week in the car and in the bath, I've started to work with her some on more advanced phonemic awareness skills, and she is BLAZING!  I really can't believe she's at this point, but it's so fun for this teacher/mama!  She has mastered phoneme deletion ("Say the word /star/ but leave off the /s/"), and phoneme substitution of initial sounds ("If I change the first sound in /hat/ to /m/, what word do I have?).  She is developing phoneme substitution of medial sounds ("Listen as I say the word /jet/.  If I change the /e/ to /u/, what new word do I have?").  
    • She's able to articulate her feelings more clearly these days, especially in regards to her independence.  She asked Dan last week, "Daddy, why do I always have to do what you tell me to do instead of just doing what I want to do?"  (By the way, I have no idea how he answered that one!)
    • She is trying out new behaviors that she's seeing other children do: for instance, a few nights ago, Dan told her that she couldn't have another cookie, and as he turned his head away, she stuck out her tongue at him.  It took everything I could do to not crack up.  I did hold it together enough to send her to my room and have a lengthy conversation with her about it.  She confessed to the friend she saw do it, and after the talk we had, I doubt she'll try that anymore!
    • On the weekends while Dan is working, Lana & I have a routine.  I feed the kids dinner, give them baths, and brush their teeth. While I am rocking Tucker and putting him down, Lana's job is to pick up all the toys in the living room, her room, and the playroom.  She knows that if she's done by the time I get done putting Tucker down, she & I will have more time to read books.  If I have to help her finish putting toys away, there's less time for books.  She does this really well, without complaining at all, and in fact, lately she's been going above and beyond!  One night I came out, and she had hung up all the bath towels, folded all the throw blankets, and put away all the shoes by the door.  I couldn't have been happier!  This started out as a way to make things easier at night, but I'm realizing there is great value in her learning that when we all pitch in to do the work, there's more time for fun and relaxing together.
    • The big lesson she's been learning this month is to tell Mommy & Daddy the whole truth, even when she thinks she's going to get in trouble.  A few nights ago, she broke a necklace and hid it.  She brought it to us later and told us she "couldn't remember what happened."  She's had to learn that even just being quiet and not telling what she knows is lying.  When I taught first grade, I always told my students that there were 3 ways to lie: they could lie with their words, they could lie with their silence, and they could lie with their actions.  She's learning that it's a lie to not tell the whole truth.  
    All in all, we feel so fortunate to get to watch our daughter turning into a real person.  She brings so much joy and laughter to our home.....she is adored by the rest of her family in every way.  

    One of her favorite things to do while Tucker takes his (rare) morning nap:

    She's just hanging out in the kitchen with me...
    look at how long those LEGS are.
    I can't believe how big-girl she looks here.

    She's so brave!
    Really, it astounds me the things she will try.

    The sight of this baby girl turning big girl while she's sleeping
    turns me to mush.  Angelic.

    Saturday, January 29, 2011

    Tucker loves me!

    Just a few days before he's 17 months old,
    Tucker has learned how to say "I love you."

    He doesn't do it unprompted yet, but I love hearing it even if I have to prompt him!

    Their first self-made game

    Tucker & Lana just recently made up their first game.
    By that,
    I mean that it's something that they do over and over (at least once a day),
    and Dan & I had no part in it.
    They made it up themselves in the living room, 
    and sometimes Lana initiates it,
    and somehow Tucker communicates to Lana when he wants to play.

    It's breathtaking to me to watch their relationship develop.
    They are each other's gift.

    Friday, January 28, 2011

    Art Show 2011

    This afternoon was the art show at our preschool!
    (I can't stop smiling at Lana's little hand on her hip just like mine.  I could eat that girl up.)

    I wish I would have taken a picture of the whole room - 
    every class in the school sets up a display.
    It is one of my very favorite things!

     Tucker's display

    Lana's display

    This is my favorite thing on her display - I'm framing it.

     Her class has been studying space,
    and she was excited to show me her space painting and book.

    Our music teacher Mrs. Nikki had a display set up, too!

    Lana was SO PROUD of her "Sing-a-ma-jig."  
    She told Mrs. Nikki that she made it to look like her Mommy.

    Our Discovery/Science teacher Mrs. Kelli had a display, also.

    Discovery lessons this month have been about space, too - 
    what a neat coincidence that it overlapped with what Lana's teachers were doing in her classroom.

     This painting is made from the fingerprints of every child in the preschool.

    Mrs. Kelli had out some of her fun space things from class.

    The annual Art Show is just another reason we love Little Lambs!

    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    Happy Half Birthday, Lana!

    Lana has a summer birthday,
    and last year, she realized that nearly everyone in her preschool class besides her celebrated their birthdays at school.
    Thus, when she was 3, we began celebrating her 1/2 Birthdays at school.

    Today was the day we celebrated her being 4 and 1/2.  
    We marked it on the calendar,
    and she's been counting down the days!

    Lana asked for chocolate chip cookies and Capri Suns to share with her class for snack.
    Her very favorite part was getting to pass out the cookies.
    (She washed her hands first....promise!)

     Her class made her a birthday book - 
    they each drew a picture of what they'd like to give her for her birthday.

     It was so precious to watch her listen to her teacher read the book to the class.

    Most of the drawings included a cat, a jewelry box, or the colors pink and purple.
    Her friends know her well!

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    One shoe off, one shoe on

    This is a common sight in our car,
    and by common - I mean that this is what I see every single time
    I open the door to get Tucker out of the van.

    Without fail, 2 or 3 minutes into every car ride,
    I hear Tucker say from the backseat 
    "Uh-oh!  Shoe!  Sock!"
    That means that he's taken off his right shoe and sock and dropped them on the floor.

    The funniest thing of all is that it's only his RIGHT shoe/shock.
    He does it so often that I just expect it now,
    and allot an extra minute or two into our time to put them back on.

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    Homemade Krystals

    We miss Krystal!
    I mean, we miss our family and friends and the beaches.
    But we miss picking up a sackful of Krystals on the way home from church, too.

    We stumbled across a recipe for a homemade version, and gave it a try Friday night.
    They turned out really well!

    We'll make one adjustment next time, but more on that at the end.**
    Here's the recipe for everyone craving a Krystal (or White Castle).

    1/2 cup dried onion flakes
    2 lbs ground chuck (80/20 ground beef)
    1/2 tsp seasoned salt
    6 slices cheddar cheese
    24 small party rolls - Martin's Potato Bread Party rolls are the best!
    24 dill pickle slices

    Evenly spread the onions on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.

    Gently press the ground beef on top of the onion flakes, making one giant patty.
    Sprinkle with seasoned salt.

     Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.
    Using a paper towel, pat the excess grease from the top of the patty.  

    Top with cheddar cheese, return to oven for 2 more minutes.

    Remove from the oven.
    Let stand for 5 minutes, then cut into 24 patties.

    Slice open and separate each party roll.
    Put a patty with onion layer onto each roll.
    Top each slider with a pickle slice and then the bun lid.
    Serve immediately.

    They were delicious, but we would have preferred the patties to be thinner.
    **Next time we'll use 1 lb of ground beef instead of 2 lbs.  
    Alternately, if you have a large family or have guests,
    you could use 2 pounds and spread it on a cookie sheet.

    In any event, we thought they tasted quite like a Krystal and will make these again soon!

    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    First birthdays

    I was looking through old pictures last night and came across birthday cake pictures for both of my babies on their first birthdays:

    First of all, please excuse the fact that the quality of Tucker's picture far exceeds Lana's.
    It isn't that we love her any less - 
    it's that we hadn't met Kaitlin yet.

    I always think they look so similar, and they do....
    but looking at these pictures side-by-side, it's fun to see how they each have their own distinct looks, too.

    These pictures make me smile so big.
    I ADORE this age.
    That itty-bitty baby stage just doesn't do it for me....
    but oh, give me toddlers any day of the week!
    It's probably a good thing babies don't come out like this,
    or I would have dozens.
    A house full of one year olds.
    And oh TWO year olds....that's just even better!
    Oh, give me a two year old temper tantrum over an infant's cry anytime!

    I digress.
    Back to looking at my edible one year olds.