Sunday, December 27, 2015

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Christmas has been over for two days, but the kids are still wanting to celebrate Jesus's birthday. We did the last activity in the Mother Goose Time Experience God bible study. The "cupcake" was cut out of paper and tissue paper "frosting" was added. As we added the "ingredients" of love, kindness, peace, glory, joy, patience, and worship, we discussed their meanings and how they showed these things in their lives. It was a very sweet activity and they enjoyed it a lot.

Happy Birthday Jesus! 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Bible Study/The Christmas Story with Mother Goose Time

Oh blog readers, it has been a rough, rough week. One that has brought me to my knees, praying that God would help. I know that I don't share much about Tiny B here, as I just don't know what she wants "out there" and I want to respect that about her as she grows. On one hand, she could end up being a very transparent person like myself who wants to use her sufferings to show the power of God. On the other hand, she could be a very private person who likes to share in her own time. I do know this...if a future boss were to google her and find information about her, they'd see that she is a complete miracle and has the strength of a superhuman. She has the heart of gold and she is a determined little soul. Really, if I were to tell you her whole story you would be amazed. Someday I might go a little more in depth, but for now, I'll just share small bits.

She suffers from cyclical vomiting disorder and migraines. It happens every month on the dot and scares me so badly that I end up in a state that can only be described as despair. Prior to her feeding tube wean, we knew that she could still get the calories that she needed to grow. Now that we aren't using the tube, she has to supply it all by herself, and it's very scary.

Last night I texted a few friends begging them to pray for me. One stayed up very late into the night texting her prayers and encouraging me (and she's recently had a very rough loss in her life...It is in instances like this, where a person who is struggling prays for me relentlessly,  and I can see that God truly uses people to do His work). God is the only reason why I am okay and why I was able to function today. Another friend tells me repeatedly that no, I can't handle this by myself, but God can. I can't believe I've never thought of this before. She tells me to cry out to God and just repeatedly pray my worries and my fears...It's amazing the freedom that this has given me, to completely admit that I cannot do this without Him. It takes the pressure off of me and it like a huge weight lifting from my chest.

Two nights ago, Tiny B was still in her episode. We were all struggling. I knew that Strong B, Tiny B, myself, and my hubby all needed to focus on God and the real reason for Christmas, so I pulled out the first activity of the Mother Goose Time (MGT) curriculum for the month. They had me begin by reading the Christmas story on the story cards. They are big and beautiful cards with the text on one side and pictures on the other.

We discussed the story and read the memory verse, and we recorded the kids saying it. It was absolutely adorable. Tiny B's verse sounded like, "Let everything that has breath, save the Lord!" instead of "praise the Lord." It was adorable!

We then started our A is for Angel door hanger.

We traced the kids' hands and my husband immediatelly took Tiny B's current hand and compared it to her 5 month-old hand. It was beauful and an awesome visual/reminder that God has helped her to grow since the moment that she was in my womb. She's always been tiny and He has placed her in the palm of His hand (could be literally as she could fit in the palm of a hand when she was born).

The kids then cut out their hands. This part was difficult for them to cut the individual fingers, so we had them cut on a curved line that I drew around the entire hand. (I adore my husband's hands in these pictures. Doing our bible studies at night means that he gets to participate).

The kids punched out the letter "A" and glued everything to the door hanger. They used their pincer grasp with their fingers (a perfect occupational therapy exercise!) to pick up the glitter (which we used even though my husband begged me not to take it out. Seriously though, how can one do a craft without glitter??)

We hung their door hangers to dry on our line where we normally hang their art projects.

What a sweet project and a very welcome distraction to what was going on in Tiny B's little body. I thank God for these distractions/learning moments. It's one of the things He had planned all along through the hard times, I'm sure.

*I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest sharing of experiences, resulting from our personal use. All opinions/thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Stringed Instruments and a Little Help From Daddy with Mother Goose Time

We had the absolute sweetest lesson with Mother Goose Time (MGT) this week. The topic was stringed instruments. We made an adorable violin and played along with our MGT circle time CD. 

We also put rubber bands around a shoebox and the kiddos learned about vibration and how stringed instruments make their sounds. Tiny B said that "they wiggle." Soooo cute.

My hubby heard us discussing the subject matter and just had to bring out his guitar. (He does not play guitar, much to his dismay. He has high hopes that someday he will...It's been in our closet for 20 years, ha ha!) Anyway, he let the kids play and reinforced what we had learned. It was so sweet, and another reason that I just adore homeschooling...The whole family can play a role in the education.

After the main lessons, Tiny B and I worked in her Literacy and More book, and it happened to be perfect timing as the subject was the letter "V" and a little Violin book!

Since it's such a busy month, I have a feeling that we won't get all of the days of MGT finished, which leaves me feeling a little guilty because I don't want them to miss any of the fun stuff. However, when I taught, December was not a very productive month anyway. I plan on picking out the most fun lessons for the remainder of the month. 

We are having a play-date over this week to do a few of the MGT bible lessons, because really, nothing is more important than learning about the birth of Jesus. We'll do the remainder of the bible study the next week. 

***Tiny B is no longer sick. I'm afraid to say that out loud, so this is me whispering it...

*I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest sharing of experiences, resulting from our personal use. All opinions/thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Winter and Instruments with Mother Goose Time

We started the Sights and Sounds of Winter theme for the month in our Mother Goose Time curriculum, and I think this is going to be my favorite so far. I realize that I might have said that about the Orchards theme, but I'm thinking this just might surpass that!

Tiny B is doing so much better this week, and I really can't describe how much better this makes me feel. Her little body is finally healing from her sickness and she is eating more since we've started her second phase of the tube-weaning program.

You should see my house...Everything is out of place and definitely NOT clean and you can tell just by looking that we've had a rough six weeks. This week I will finally be able to finish my Christmas shopping and cards and I'll start trying to wade through this mess.

It's always so wonderful to rip open that Mother Goose Time (MGT) box and pull out all of the goodies. I did that with both Tiny B and Strong B so they had the chance to preview what they were going to do this month. Since I use the curriculum for homeschooling and not a daycare or preschool environment, I can really tailor it to our needs. I had decided that for this month I would like to do one to two activities per day from the main curriculum and one page of the math and literacy workbooks per day. Well, that all went out the window when I saw the activities! It's so nice to be able to do what I want, as I didn't have this freedom when I taught public elementary school. So, instead of the one page a day of the math and literacy workbooks, and one activity per day, I've ended up doing almost every single activity for each day, and we did five pages of the workbooks in one day as we were sitting at the doctor's office forever. It's been perfect! Tiny B has such a long attention span, thankfully. I wouldn't normally advocate doing so many pages at one time, but it just happened to work wonderfully while waiting for such a long time.

We started Day 1 with learning about the drums. We made a drum and then we followed rhythm pattern cards to make music. You can see the cards in this picture. I had them follow different patterns as I changed it up. What a wonderful tool to help kids begin to understand that reading and writing goes from left to right.

On Day 2 we learned about woodwind instruments. We made a kazoo and practiced humming with hard and soft breaths. We rolled up a piece of paper into a tube and pretended it was a woodwind instrument and practiced holding our fingers on the different color "holes" according to whatever we rolled on our color cube.

My dog also participated in this activity as she later found food in the the rolled up paper (see, I told you my house was messy) and we caught her red-handed when we walked in the room. Guilty!

We took the theme poster (sooooo cute this month with kids inside a cozy room playing instruments and the snow and creatures outside) and looked through our "magnifying glass" trying to find things that make sounds and things that start with certain letters. We made a lot of observations and it was the perfect intro to discuss the things we will be learning about this month.

On Day 4 we learned about horns and started our writing journal for the month. We learned how to draw music notes. We listened to different instruments on a website that MGT gave us, and then played a game where we listened to the instruments and tried to guess which one was which.

We've also spent a lot of time listening to the CD for the month and marching around with our kazoo and drums. My husband will tell you that he now knows every song, and it's only been four days...Fortunately the music is just beautiful. I have the CD player accessible to the kiddos and believe me, they enjoy using it to listen to each song on repeat.

We culminated our first week by attending the Nutcracker with my mom today. (I didn't plan it this way, but I'll pretend that I did...). I took Tiny B down to the orchestra to watch them playing before the ballet started, and she was able to pick out the different instruments! I was amazed! I was also able to point out the music that the musicians were reading and she understood what it was. There is nothing better than connecting curriculum to real life. The kids see the connections and get so excited, and it cements what they are learning as well as letting them know that learning in school helps them in real life.

Next week we are learning about animal tracks, ice, owls, bells, and winter birds. I can't wait and neither can the kiddos.

*I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest sharing of experiences, resulting from our personal use. All opinions/thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Dough with Mother Goose Time! (and Setting Priorities)

Happy Thanksgiving! We've had quite a week here. (Didn't I say that last week??) Tiny B still has her cough and it's taken a lot out of her. We've had to do some re-evaluating of several things in her life due to her five weeks of illness and lack of weight gain.

Tonight I went to coffee with a friend who also has a child with special needs, and we talked about how the worry over your child feels like a heavy weight on your chest. It can feel like the wind is knocked out of you. Strong B exhausts me in typical physical ways, but the worry that I have for Tiny B just can't be put into words.

We've decided that she needs to stay away from closed, tight spaces with other children as much as possible right now. In particular, this means church and the one half day of transitional kindergarten that she attends once a week. There is so much illness going around, and it seems that she is one illness away from having to start tube-feeding again. 

We enrolled her in phase two of the amazing tube-weaning program where she was weaned, and started that three days ago. (She's already improving by leaps and bounds!) We decorated the house for Christmas and made it beautiful knowing that we will be spending a lot of time here. When I came home from coffee this evening, my husband had put up every Christmas light that we own, stringing them through the hallway and over the doors. He knew this would be a wonderful surprise for my weary heart.

The Mother Goose Time curriculum for December is absolutely perfect: The Sights and Sounds of Winter. We plan to emerge ourselves in this and the bible study portion this month. I am amazed at seeing God's hand at work...He absolutely knew that we would be spending a lot of time inside and He knew that Tiny B and Strong B would need this. Little did I know when I signed up to be a blog ambassador, that it would serve as such an incredible blessing. 

I wanted to give you a highlight of our week before I sign off. I have been loving the special kits that come in the Mother  Goose Time (MGT) curriculum for the holidays. 

There was an adorable kit for Thanksgiving which included the recipe for pumpkin scented dough. 

It was so much fun! And smelled delightful! The three of us sat at the table and took turns spooning pumpkin out of the can. Then I slowly poured cornstarch into the bowls as the kiddos mixed it with the spoons. That took some muscle and patience--all excellent things to work on in preschool! We then sprinkled pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon into the dough, and began playing. I brought out the rolling pins and various toys we use with dough, and they played for about an hour, uninterrupted! I even got the chance to work on prepping my freezer meals in the kitchen (my latest hobby). 

I could list about a million ways in which time playing with dough is effective, but I'll just highlight a few things that really stick out to me and my particular kiddos. Tiny B lived most of her five years on a feeding tube and therefore had some sensory issues with touch, smell, and taste. It's very common. It's also because she was a micropreemie. In the NICU, she lived in a glass box with loud beeping noises and bright lights. It's a recipe for having difficulty with some sensory things. Ever since she was a baby her therapists have been making her touch dough and goo and shaving cream. It was so important to keep her touching things and getting used to things. We always gave her licks of lollipops and Popsicles for the same desensitize her. She doesn't like her hands to get dirty but she has improved so much! You wouldn't even know this about her if you see to spend time with her. Playing with scented dough is crucial to her development. She loved it. She even asked to eat it! (I shockingly said no). Her hands were covered with sticky dough and she was kneading it and giving those fingers some much needed exercise. Her occupational therapist would very much approve!

Strong B is your typical three year-old boy who often has the attention span of a flea. The fact that he engaged in this activity for an hour was so good for him. He's developing the skill of focus. It also is so good for his imagination. I could hear him playing with his different little voices. He also practiced turn-taking and sharing with his sister as they navigated the rolling pins, cookie cutters, and various tools. 

I didn't even plan it this way, but right at the end of their playing, the MGT box was delivered, which is always a total treat!

It was very symbolic of what what we're choosing to focus on this month. God has very clearly told me to hunker down inside (within reason), spend time learning and playing, build Tiny B's strength back up, and just enjoy each other and the love of God for the holidays. The timing couldn't be better.

And now I must sign off, as I've written too much (as usual) and the lights strung all over my house are begging to be enjoyed. 

*I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest sharing of experiences, resulting from our personal use. All opinions/thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Dance N' Beats: Cars, Planes, and Trains with MGT!

It's been quite the month! As I mentioned before, Tiny B suffers from severe migraines. After three weeks of those she got sick with the flu, as did I, and her little micropreemie body suffers badly when that happens. I've changed my homeschooling direction in the past month because of these things...and that is one of the things that I just LOVE about homeschooling.

I was very stressed out about her writing skills and the fact that I haven't had her practice much this last month, because really, who can practice writing when your head feels like it's being hit like a drum? But do you know what happened? Her writing actually showed a little improvement. I have to believe that it is because her brain is still growing and learning so much during this time...The fact that I am honoring her body's need during this last month is helping her, I believe. I also know without a doubt that having her not do kindergarten until next year is also honoring her body.

Anyway, during this last month of illness, I've been focusing on reading aloud to them from the books that go with our Mother Goose Time curriculum subject of transportation. I've also been talking a lot about the subject, showing them examples while we are in the car driving, and watching some transportation themed movies.

We haven't been able to do our Dance N' Beats as much this month because of how sick she has been, but today we got to break it out for the second time this month. My hubby and I went to the mall by ourselves on a date (soooooo romantic, I know). I had my mom put Dance N' Beats on , and the kids had a blast as usual. Something that I love about Mother Goose Time is how simple it is to assign another adult do a lesson. Many homeschooling families (including mine) see the importance of having all of the adults in the child's life be a teacher. I love that I can say, "Here's the DVD mom. The kids will love it." Meanwhile, grandma gets to catch her breath and have a break and the kids get to do something that has a million benefits.

Dance N' Beats is like an exercise DVD but for children. This month included thirteen songs with coordinated dance moves. The dancer demonstrates the moves and the kids simply follow her.  In their words, "Dance n' Beats is a research-based movement program that helps children learn 21 movements that increase muscle control, encourage physical fitness, and foster a joy for learning." If you desire, you can do the lessons they provide before you do the DVD, or you can simply skip those lessons and pop in the DVD and watch the magic happen!

I wish so badly that I could share with you the exact challenges that Tiny B encounters takes on with a huge amount of gusto, but it is important to me that she tell the details of her story, and she is simply not old enough for this yet. What I can tell you is that she is an amazing miracle of a little girl and you would not believe how much she has successfully beaten what the doctors expected of her! They didn't know if she was every going to walk! Let's just say that she runs everywhere, jumps on all things, and you would never know that she didn't start walking until she was two and a half!

In my vague way, I'll just say that Tiny B has gross motor issues that many micropreemies deal with. We have spent the last five years in physical therapy, and she has graduated from the weekly appointments! In its place, she sometimes does gymnastics or dance class, and she always does Dance n' Beats. It helps her strengthen her muscles, works both sides of her brain, helps her with her motor planning, makes her hungry from all of the exercise (remember that she just got weaned off of her feeding tube), makes her love dance and movement, and countless other blessings.

Strong B also gets the same benefits, and he also gets his wiggles out. He is a three year-old boy, and anything that is a positive way to release energy gets an A+ in my book!

They both love that each DVD goes along with the monthly theme. For example, this month they were in a car, airplane, rowboat, etc. They LOVE seeing what they are learning about it different aspects of their lives.

I'm sorry the pictures are so dark. I wasn't there while they did this tonight, and my mom's family room is very dark. I know I'll be blogging about Dance n' Beats again, and I promise to take pictures in the daylight!

I'm signing off now...the kids went right to sleep tonight (most likely do to doing the entire DVD this evening!) and I'm ready to hit the hay as well. Do you ever count down the minutes until bedtime? Oh, me neither...just kidding :) 

*I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest sharing of experiences, resulting from our personal use. All opinions/thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Homeschooling While Sick

Tiny B has quite a story behind her, but I've chosen to not talk much about it here. I do feel comfortable in sharing that she suffers from severe migraines, and that's a scary thing to battle when weaning from a feeding tube. She's doing transitional kindergarten this year because it's her year to learn to love eating and just to enjoy life. This year is a "gift" and her educational specialist (the person who I answer to in her charter homeschool) and I repeatedly talk about how crucial it is that she just learns to love learning this year, in a relaxed setting.

This is where Mother Goose Time (MGT) comes in. I've chosen to not do the curriculum given to me by the school, and to do MGT instead. There are so many reasons for this, but mainly because I can tailor it to Tiny B and Strong B's needs in an educationally fantastic way. 

We've been dealing with an on and off migraine episode for three weeks now. It's been hard on all of us. Then she got the flu. You can imagine how this has affected her educational experience. Fortunately with MGT I'm able to pull from it exactly what I need. I don't need to do every.single.activity in order for me to teach the pre-k standards. I've been choosing 1-3 activities a day and on some days, we've done nothing but read books about transportation (our monthly theme) from the library. 

Admittedly, I've been so worried that her skills would suffer. In her usual way, Tiny B has amazed me with what she can accomplish. 

Tonight she finally felt better after suffering with a fever for three days, so I pulled out MGT and we got to work on Day 3 which was about maps. We don't have much light in our living room at night, so you'll have to forgive the pictures. 

My husband lit a fire in the fireplace, and I read the MGT book "A Ride for Duck." Yes, I'm in my pajamas again. It was a hilarious book and was a great way to talk about rhyming. It was hilarious because there was a fish head on a motorcycle. We couldn't stop laughing.

We did our usual discussion after reading, in which I asked green, yellow, and red questions. 

Then we discussed maps and looked at maps and then made a few. This first one was her creation, and I wanted it to look like a map, but it didn't. 

I didn't think that she quite understood the concept of making a map, so I helped to guide her in her next one. I walked her through making the roads and asking her about special places on her map, and then I could see that she understood. 

We then drove our busses on the map. We received these a few months ago from MGT and I just love them. Driving the busses on the map really helped her to make the concept more concrete.

I then did a few pages of Math and More and Literacy and More pages in her MGT workbooks. She did not want to stop learning and neither did Strong B, so they insisted that we start Day 4, which is Bridges. 

They built bridges using cellophane noodles. I thought this would be over quickly as we had already been doing school for a long time, but this activity actually lasted a long time! Their fingers were getting their fine motor practice and their brains were busy thinking of ways in which to build their bridges. We took out their manipulatives from this month, and they drove trains and flew planes over and around their bridges.

It's been a rough few weeks. I'm praying that health will be restored to our home very soon so that this mama's heart can experience some calm.

*I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest sharing of experiences, resulting from our personal use. All opinions/thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

On The Go with Mother Goose Time!

I'm finding that the beginning of the month always brings excitement while using Mother Goose Time curriculum! We finished our Orchards theme and we began the On The Go theme for the month, in which we'll learn about streets, maps, road signs, bridges, and methods of transportation. I must admit that I wasn't completely excited about this month until I opened our box. As I pulled out each day's curriculum, I saw the amazing projects and games, and my mind quickly changed.

This month I'll be doing things a bit differently, as my three year-old son is very interested in all things transportation, so I will be focusing on the Math and More and Literacy and More workbooks (from Mother Goose Time) during mine and Tiny B's alone homeschool time, and I'll do the main curriculum with both Tiny B and Strong B. 

Day 1 was all about streets. I pulled out my sand and did the first activity, where we discussed how streets are made, made our own streets in the sand, and then made streets and road signs on our own map. Tiny B was so inspired that she did make believe scenarios with her streets and the bus manipulatives that we received from Mother Goose Time (MGT) two months ago. 

We finished Day 1 the next day because we had chosen to extend our project on Day 1. This is something that I love about homeschool...Getting to choose my own hours! Anyway, this weekend I went to the library and found TONS of books on transportation and matched them up to each day's topic, so every day I can open up with a book. This brings me back to my days teaching 3rd grade...and oh, how I loved that! (Homeschooling in pajamas is a necessity at times I think...)

"Go! Go! Go! Stop!" by Charise Mericle Harper was a great book to get us started. The repeating of words gave Tiny B the confidence to "read" the book. I just love it when she feels empowered like this. She even read it to grandma.

We then played a road traffic game which was so much fun and great for their gross motor skills. The house became a street and they became the cars, and they took turns flipping over the game cards and doing what the card told them, such as driving fast or getting in a traffic jam. 

The kiddos had a blast and it was definitely a fantastic start to our new theme! I can't wait to see what the month brings. 

This picture definitely shows the joy of learning in one's pajamas and doing it in a totally fun way.

*I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest sharing of experiences, resulting from our personal use. All opinions/thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.