Thursday, December 30, 2010

2 and a half

Dearest Piper,

Today, you are officially 2 and a half. This means that in exactly 6 months, you will be 3, the big girl that you proclaim yourself to be every single day.

You are right at 3 feet tall and 32 pounds, but you still are my pocket sized diva. You love all things girly, but are such an enigma, equally loving to play in the dirt and mud. You love to do anything that requires running, jumping, swinging, climbing and just being physical. We have caught you on top of various pieces of furniture without knowing how you go there. Your Daddy and I have to watch you like a hawk, lest you break your neck completing one of these daring adventures of yours.

You are still not potty trained yet, but you are working on it. You love to sit on said potty and have me read you books, but the actual act, on a regular basis, eludes you. I'm really in no hurry to get this task accomplished and you are pretty laid back about the whole thing too, so we'll just wait until you are possessed with the spirit of determination on this front.

Just a few months ago, we decided that you needed to give up your crib and move to a big girl bed. We set out to purchase a daybed that would grow with you, but you had other ideas. You, my dear, sweet, bold girl were afraid of the big beds, but managed to crawl into and cover yourself up in a toddler bed. You can probably guess what we left the store with and you sleep in now. You alternately love and hate that bed all at once and are still adjusting to the idea of not having your walls that they crib provided you. We're working on this.

You have the most fun, sweet and equally frustrating personality, all at the same time. You are most definitely a 2 year old, wanting to constantly do it yourself, but also wanting help and love when you try and fail. You love to run around in your high heels, princess dress and boa, while wielding your brother's Light Saber, trying to rid the universe of the bad guys.

Your most favorite color is pink and everything in your world has to be some version of this color. You know all your shapes, numbers up to 20 and then 10's, most of your letters and all your colors. You are well educated in all things girl and boy. I suppose that is the benefit of having a big brother to teach you.

Caleb and your Daddy are two of your most favorite people, but, truth be told, you are a Mama's girl. I cannot tell you the joy that that gives my heart. One of my dreams was to have a little girl and to have the same kind of relationship with her that I do with my Mama. We have that, little one.

I love you, my Pster! You are and always will be my most favorite girl in all the world!



Monday, December 20, 2010

Half Way Through

I've posted here many different times about our choice to homeschool, but it dawned on me this morning that I've not updated with Caleb's progress in the whole process.
One of the less academic, but needed things, that I was hoping for Caleb to learn during school, whether it was in a building or in my dining room, is that of self control. He is a very typical boy, busy, active, and yet super smart, but needed that ability to excel. During the past few months, we have watched our boy go from a kid who can't sit still for even a few moments or control his impulses to a boy who can sit through a whole church service quietly entertaining himself. I also just witnessed on Saturday Caleb holding a present in his lap upon my instructions to wait until we got all of them. He then opened one and waited me for my instructions to move on. This is a different, self-assured, controlled boy with an appropriate amount of confidence.
We are using My Father's World curriculum for K and supplementing with various other things based on his need and interest. The main curriculum provides 5 days worth of worksheets, with each week concentrating on a certain letter and topic. For example, last weeks letter was E and the study is over elephants, with the next few weeks contributing to this so that the whole month is study in non-farm animals (elephants, penguins, etc). It's really well organized and the work is very much on target for what it is written for (a kindergartner), so all in all we've been happy with it.
We only do school 3 (sometimes 4, at most) days a week and it only really takes us, at most, 2 hours to get through all the work that is assigned to him. At the beginning of the year I was pretty surprised at how fast we moved through his work, but we were able to ascertain that Caleb is quite ahead in some areas and we aren't dealing with 30 students here, so we can get done in a timely manner. I am firmly convinced that learning isn't all about sitting in the classroom at a desk, so we get out and make even ho-hum trips to Target a learning experience.
I usually combine Days 1 and 2 worksheets. Day 1 is introducing the letter and exploring the topic. The worksheet has the letters printed in both upper and lower case, prepping him for his handwriting lessons to come, as well as giving him some examples of other things that start with the letter of the week. These pictures are meant to be cut out, which gives him the practice he needs to master this task. When we first started, this was a big issue for us. Part of this was my fault because I wouldn't let him near scissors. Ever. Heh.
Day 2 worksheet is a handwriting practice on one side and a phonics practice on the other. Honestly, handwriting was one of the biggest things that I was worried about. Caleb wasn't even able to hold his pencil correctly before we started. After many frustrated mornings, many tears shed and me second guessing our choice, Caleb finally got it and is able to hold his pencil correctly and print well. Of all the things that he has accomplished thus far, this is the one that I'm the most happy about.
Phonics was a real issue, in my mind, as well when we started this whole process. Caleb started reading, by sight recognition, when he was 2 and would remember any word we told him from then on out. So, because of this, I was concerned that he would get a point where phonics would be lost on him. We've worked really hard just introducing the concepts of phonics that he needed to put it all together. It seems that he may have had a lot of the concepts needed for this all along, just needing someone to show him how to put it all together.
Day 3 and 5 worksheets are drawing, counting, and handwriting practice, while Day 4 is reading practice. All things he was doing well in (with the exception of handwriting) when we started this whole thing.
I have added some extra phonics and handwriting from Abeka that seems to be right up his alley. His most favorite, though, is math. I recently acquired a workbook from a friend of some 1st grade math concepts and we've been slowly working our way through that, ensuring that we don't get so far ahead that he's actually behind. As of now, we've made it all the way through addition and just started some simple subtraction.
This year, so I've been told, is more an exercise in learning what he needs and how he learns. I have to say that this is more true than I thought it would be. Caleb is doing really well and is enjoying the process, and I'm so happy and looking forward to the rest of the year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Conversations with Caleb- Disturbed Edition

For the past couple of days, I have been fighting off some sort of mutant allergy attack that hit in full force last night. This morning, I made it very clear to the kids that we needed to take it easy today because mama didn't feel well.
We did venture out to grab lunch at Sonic because, really, what is better when you are sick but a bit of Sonic... After we got home, Caleb and I were talking during lunch and had the following coversation:

Caleb: Mama? Are you still sick?
Me: Yes
Caleb: *crying*
Me: Caleb! What is wrong?
Caleb: *still crying* I'm sad because you're sick. Are you going to have surgery again and go to the hospital again?

Hm. Maybe the events of this past summer affected him more than I thought.
I'm thinking we may need a therapist here...

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Boy Wonder (and his Mother) Needs Your Prayers **Updated**

UPDATED: So our visit with the doctor was this afternoon and he did a very (and I mean very) thorough exam on Caleb. With all our visits with medical practitioners through the years, Caleb has never had an exam where everything was looked at, all at once, with regard to his overall health, so this was refreshing and calming to a mama's nervous heart. It also gave the doctor the opportunity to evaluate Caleb in all aspects of his life, not just his basic health.
The overall result was that, yes, there seems to be some issues with the fact that Caleb's joints, most all of them, are overly flexible, but he has no other issues that would really form the diagnosis of anything super serious.
What we do have, for now, is a diagnosis of hyperflexibility. Basically, what this means is that his joints can dislocate much easier and he may have some real pain during growth. Frankly, I had significant pain during my formative years, especially those when I was growing large amounts at a time. One summer, I added 4-6 inches to my height and I remember that summer well because of the unrelenting pain that never seemed to end. I'm thinking that this was something, once again, that he got from me. Poor kid.
While I hate this for Caleb and I certainly don't want him to suffer at all, at least this way we will know what is going on. Since he has a diagnosis on the books too, we will have a fabulous doctor who will be evaluating him at every visit for problems and issues so that we can head them off at the pass.
Our doctor is going to consult with an orthopedist, just to make sure, but he was very confident that this was the issue.
I'll update if there is anything different that comes up in the coming days.
Thank you all for your well wishes and prayers.

About a year ago, I noticed Caleb had a popping sound coming from, what I thought, was his hip area. When he was in the NICU, one of his more minor issues that we were watching was the fact that one of his hip joints was "loose". It wasn't a huge issue, completely overshadowed by the more serious things, and seemed to resolve on its own. That's why when I heard that, I intially didn't think much of it.
Back in August, I realized that the popping noise was actually coming from his knee, and seemed to be getting louder. Now, I have one knee that has been looked at by more than one orthopedist and they all said that my ligaments are loose, so I was thinking that the same thing would be said of his. I took him to the doctor last week, partially to get it looked at before the end of the year and also because my mommy gut kept telling me to do it.
Well, during the work up, our wonderful nurse practitioner noticed that Caleb is super flexible and wondered outloud if this could be something more. Needless to say, knowing what I know about the human body and what can go wrong, my mind has since jumped from bad to worse.
The NP told me that she would discuss with our normal doc and call me back and he wants to see him.
We are going today.
I'm a nervous wreck.
This could be nothing or something completely life changing and life threatening. I'm seriously praying for the former.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Pumpkin Bread Recipe

I am well known in my family and close, close friends as being good at many things, but baking is something that I, historically, have been terrible at. Jes makes fun of me and calls me his cardboard queen. He also will just shake his head when the kids ask me to make cookies and run to the freezer to pull out the break apart cookie dough.
This Thanksgiving, however, I was aiming high and decided to try my hand at 2 different pie recipes and a batch of cake balls. Other than opening too many cans of pumpkin, it all went off without a hitch and each of my desserts was a huge hit! My mom even remarked that I should be in charge of desserts every year and my dad is already putting in orders for the next batch of cake balls.
Needless to say, I have had a huge confidence boost and decided to use up said opened cans of pumpkin and make pumpkin bread.
I'm recording this here, partially to share with all you guys, but more so to have to written in one place before I forget it. Please note that this recipe was taken from, but altered to my liking. So, without further ado, pumpkin bread:

1 cup butter (can use margarine, but I'm against the stuff)- which is 2 sticks, softened
3 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 (16 ounce) can pumpkin

Feel free to add in all types of things. I had chocolate chips, so I put a small amount of that in there (my kids will eat anything with chocolate in it). I also had part of a medium sized bag of pecans left from one of my pies, so I put those in there too!

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Combine dry ingredients and stir into creamed mixture until moistened (I call this step my bicep workout!) Stir in can of pumpkin (I had a whole can and another 1/3 of one, so I just added it all). Pour in 2 greased 9 X 5 X 3 in loaf pans and bake at 350 for one hour. I wanted to have serving sizes for the kids and myself, so I baked mine in cupcake form, filling up the cupcake papers to almost full. If you are making the cupcake version, you will need to bake them for 25-30 minutes, or until cooked through. I had a yield of just under 3 dozen, so we had plenty to freeze for a quick, healthy breakfast!
The kids tried these out as their sweet with lunch and they just loved them! Next time, I'll put in a bit of flax seed too to boost the omega-3s! I hope you all enjoy!