Friday, September 15, 2017

The First Day of the Rest of Our Lives

This week, we legally became a family of 6! 
The boys we have considered our sons for the last 20 months gained our last name and we promised to love them for the rest of their lives in front of a courtroom packed with family and friends. 
We are forever thankful. 
Day to day life won't change much, but we are relieved and thrilled that our boys are staying forever! 
Thank you to all of those who supported us over the last 3 years of our adoption and foster care process! It is complete! 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

First Day Of Kindergarten!

All of my kids started school this past Wednesday! 

My little guys are heading to a mother's day out type program a couple mornings a week, and their first day was Wednesday! They did great and the teacher said they didn't cry or fuss at all. They had fun and were great helpers. I think they will continue loving it there!
After we dropped off the boys, we stopped for a little first day of school treat (I mean, we drove right past a coffee shop, so we pretty much HAD to stop...) and then got home and started on school. Since we stayed a little longer at the boys school and stopped for treats, we didn't get started until about 10:30.
The girls were eager to get started! They both enjoy learning and think school is really fun. So do I ;) 
We started with Math. We are using Math U See and there are sections A-G for each lesson. I assume this is meant to be broken up by day, or maybe a few per day to get each lesson done in a week, but since it was basically just counting and my girls have already mastered that, they just kept going and ended up doing all of the pages A-G in about 10 minutes. I just hope they don't expect math to always be that easy and fast ;) 
Then we moved onto Bible, which took the longest. The actual material isn't very long, but my girls are really into details while coloring and so on the lesson part (Joseph right now) it would tell part of the story and then say "color Joseph's coat" or whatever, so it took them awhile. I found out over the following days that they really retained the information, so apparently its working and I don't mind it taking awhile if they're learning it! 
I had decided to do Bible in the middle, right before Read Aloud because I knew my girls would want to color the main picture in each Bible lesson, and then they could color it while I read aloud to them from our book, and that ended up being a very wise decision because that's EXACTLY what they wanted to do! We started Pippi Longstocking and are loving it.
After Read Aloud we did language arts. They did very well with this, but man, learning and teaching handwriting is hard and frustrating for everyone! Later on in the week we switched up our schedule and started doing it first and math 3rd and that kept their frustration down a bit since they were just getting started for the day. Hopefully that will keep working! 
After language arts, we started on our Oceans unit. We won't do this every day, and I'm going to try to squeeze it in on days when the boys are at school since we have more quiet and focused time and can get things done a little faster. We made a chart labeling the ocean zones and will keep learning about the zones this coming week before we start on sea creatures. 

It took us right about 2 hours for the first day which seemed about right to me! 
Tomorrow our resource teacher from the school district is coming over to work with my daughters and so we can get to know her. I am looking forward to that! Then later this week, my oldest is going to her first day of enrichment classes at school. I am going to cry all day, but she is so excited (or "nervousited" as she cute) so I can't help but be excited for her. I will miss her so much all day, and let's be real-I'll probably be the first parent in the pick up line ;) We went to visit on Friday and meet her teachers and see her classrooms, locker and lunchroom.
We'll just be getting into the swing of our routine over the next few weeks! I was thinking about possibly doing a "day in the life" type insta story in a week or two to show what a morning of homeschooling is like. If you're interested in seeing that (whenever it happens) follow me @thenataliecook 
Here's to another great week! 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Summer 2017 Part 2

So, when I left off, we had just celebrated the fourth of July. Here's what we've been up to since then!

Playing at the lake...
Lots more park days...
Target trips with mom...
Haircuts for my straight haired babes...

2 more movie nights on the river (girls night to Sing with Mom in July, and Moana with Mom & Dad in August)
Swimming in the wading pool...
Entertaining babies during the girls' piano class...
The girls' first VBS...

Another girl's morning to the free summer movie & lunch at Noodles & Co...

Sweet Corn Festival with Grandma & Gramps (you know you live in the Midwest when....)
(Its a bummer I had to cover up the faces that were actually smiling!)
Feeding animals at the circus...

Watching Daddy's crossfit comp...
The girls' first piano recital...

Visit from the cousins! (Trampoline park, petting zoo, lots of time playing outside, first pedicures, sleepover, and more!) 

And that wraps up our summer! School and activities start this week and we're ready for fall and routine! Summer 2017, you were very good to us! 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Kindergarten Read Aloud List

I love read alouds! They were always one of my favorite parts of school as a kid, and one of my favorite parts of teaching! My girls and I have been reading books aloud now for quite awhile now, but I am really looking forward to getting into some great books this year!

 I compiled a list of "to read" books for our Kindergarten year, and we can't wait to get started! I tried to stick with mostly classics, rather than doing books based on TV characters or the like. Here is our list for the 2017-2018 year, in no particular order! 

Charlotte's Web
Pippi Longstocking

A Bear Called Paddington
James & The Giant Peach
McBroom's Wonderful One Acre Farm
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain
Mr. Popper's Penguins

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory
Freckle Juice
The Last Of The Really Great Whangdoodles
Mary Poppins
Peter Pan
Dr. Doolittle

If we have time, I may also start some Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and Winnie the Pooh. 
I am not sure how much time we will allot to reading aloud every day, so we will see if we make it through the whole list! Can you think of any other great pieces of children's literature good for 4-6 years old or so that I missed? Give me all your recommendations for great read alouds in the early grades! 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Prepping for Kindergarten

Summer is quickly coming to a close. My facebook and instagram feeds are filling up with cute back to school pictures, and my to-do list is filled with many school related items! I have taken a very relaxed approach to planning, and getting ready for the school year this summer. Not sure I really meant for it to be that way, but it has been really nice to slowly ease our way into things! So, here is a random mish mash of what we've been doing to get ready for our school year to start soon!

The girls and I went school supply shopping in July, which is always my very favorite thing. I don't know why it is so fun, but it really is! Being homeschooled, and kindergarten age, they really didn't need a lot. I had a semi small list of things I wanted them to have (dry erase markers, colored pencils, pencils, a folder, etc.) but let them pick out a few fun things, as well. 

My little guys are going to a mother's day out type program 2 mornings a week. There were many factors that went into deciding to do this, which I won't get into here, but I think it is going to be really good for all of us! We have open house coming up for that at the end of August. I am excited to meet their teachers and get settled into that routine! They also had a small supply list + optional donation list and I still need to pick up a few things to add to that (disinfecting wipes, snacks, ziplocks, etc.) and then they will be set for the year!

Speaking of sending my boys there-between them doing that 2 mornings a week and my daughter attending a homeschool program one day a week, I decided to go all in and get the kids each a Yumbox for the year. They are so much fun, and my kids love them SO much! I know we will get tons of use out of these over the years! They each got to pick out a new lunchbox as well. It's the little things :) 

I spent a few hours a couple of weeks ago cleaning out part of our school room. I cleared out all of the preschool work, threw a bunch of old stuff out, and made room for our Kinder curriculum. I still have some more organization and tidying I need to do in there before we start. The girls' desks are in great shape and ready to go, though! 

I got our math curriculum in last week, and after going through it, I decided to order another workbook for my younger daughter. She was going to be doing pretty much everything with us besides math this year, simply because she is more than ready, wants to, and long run it'll be really nice for me to mostly be teaching them the same things. Well, after going over a bunch of the math lessons, I decided she is just going to do that as well. She completely did one of the lessons in week 17 or something, with no assistance and no prepping, so I know she's more than ready for math, too. SO, I guess I will technically, but not officially (right?) have 2 kindergartners this year. If it turns out she is super not ready, that is just fine and we will save everything for next year, but based on how things went last year and the way she learns, I am really confident she will excel this year. She will not get to go to the class this year since she is not officially of Kinder age, but that is fine with me. I think maturity wise she can use another year before heading to that :) To eliminate confusion, I think I'll still classify her as whatever grade she is officially in, but assume we stick with this, she will always be a grade above that in curriculum. I think I'm calling this year Kinder-ish. ;) 

I think we will officially start school September 6, which gives us 2 weeks to finish getting everything ready. We have family coming into town next week, so I didn't want to start this week (when the local school district starts), only to take a break the following week. Plus, the boys don't start school until after labor day, so that will make it a little easier on us to start when we have more focused time as we are getting to know the curriculum at first.

Happy new school year to you all! :) 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Day in the Life: Summer 2017

I wanted to get a Day in the Life written down for summer before we start back into our school routine and everything changes! This year will be different than ever before with my girls starting kindergarten and boys going to a preschool program a few days per week, so I'll have to do another one in a few months when we get settled into our routine! 

Tuesday, August 22. 2017
7:00-alarm goes off and I'm quick to snooze. Way too tired this morning.

7:40- my husband and I both finally get up. I hop in the shower and he leaves for work. My oldest wakes up and comes into the bathroom while I'm in the shower. I am really slow moving this morning. 

8:30-I finally get my little ones up (they have been talking {read: screaming and jumping so loud!} for a little while already) and start a load of laundry. 

8:45- I get the kids an easy breakfast and go to dry my hair while they are occupied. 

9:15-Everyone is done with breakfast and I have gone through our super long hair routine and come out successful for the day! Every morning I contemplate chopping all their hair off because it takes so long, but it's all so beautiful that I can't.
 The girls head to their room to start playing make believe and the boys are playing in the living room. 

9:30-I finally get my breakfast. I am having bread with cashew butter and banana.
After I eat, I unload the dishwasher which takes me a little longer than normal because I washed all the kids cups and water bottles and have to put all the lids and straws and pieces back together. 
I do a little picking up and getting ready. My oldest really wants to go to the park before the boys have speech therapy so...

10:00-We leave for the park. It's a short and sweet time at the park, but everyone has fun!
 10:40-Leave the park and head to speech. I have one little melting down at this point. 

11:00-12:00-Speech. The boys are having their annual testing done, so the girls and I stay in the waiting room and she takes one boy back at a time. We recently got this drawing book from Usborne and the girls have been enjoying it, so we do that for awhile and then they watch a show on their tablets for the last little bit. 
12:15-We get home and I quickly fix lunch for everyone. The kids are having "snacky" lunch where I basically just give them random things from different food groups and call it good. I had a pita pocket with tuna mixed w/ avocado mayo, garlic mustard aioli and pickles, and a handful of salt and vinegar chips. 

12:45-I get the boys down for a nap. 

1:00-I start on reading my Bible and having some quiet time. The girls are playing quietly in their room. 
1:30-One of the boys is still awake so I head in their room once again to try to get him to sleep, and also grab the laundry out of the dryer. 
I fold the laundry while I watch a quick YouTube video. 

1:45-My mom calls, so I talk to her for about 15 minutes or so. 

2:00-I get started on this post. 

2:30-3:30-I take care of some busy work. Paying bills, schedule appointments, mailing things, etc. Boring. The girls finish up their quiet time around 3 and are allowed to watch a show on their tablets.

3:30-Baby #1 is awake so I grab him in hopes his brother can sleep a little longer. 

3:45-Baby #2 is awake, so I get him as well, get them changed and ready for the afternoon. 

4:00-Girls finish up on their tablets and the babies get a snack while I practice piano with the girls. Their recital is in 2 days, so we are practicing multiple times a day right now to get their songs down pat. 
4:35- My husband gets home! Yay! We finish up practicing piano and everyone does the "daddy is home" crazy time for a bit. 

5:00-My husband starts grilling burgers for dinner, and 3/4 of the kids play out back while he does. 

5:20-Dinner! Keeping it simple tonight and having burgers on a sweet hawaiian bun (delicious), chips and fruit. 
5:45-Finish up with dinner and get the kitchen cleaned up, leftovers put away, and dishes started.

6:00-We decide to head to the neighborhood school to let the kids ride their bikes and play. It is SO nice outside! Almost chilly even, in the shade. We thought about riding bikes to the library, but my husband is tired tonight so we decide on this instead. We play for a little over an hour. 
7:15-Get home and get all of the kids a snack. 

7:30-My husband gets the boys ready for bed, while I practice piano with the girls again. We trade off and I do piano with one girl while the other brushes teeth and gets pajamas on. 

7:45-My husband is reading The Littles books to the girls, so they read a few chapters before bed and...

8:05-Girls are in bed and I am working on this post! My husband is making himself a snack and his breakfast for tomorrow. When he finishes up, we will probably watch Netflix for awhile and head to bed around 10-10:30. We've both been really drained lately, so we've been trying to get to bed earlier. 

That's a typical summer weekday for us this year! 
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