This Crazy Kiddo

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Lydia turned six at the end of May. She had been counting down to her birthday for over three months. Several days each week she would update us on what she wanted to do for her birthday, who she wanted to have over, and what presents she wanted to receive. When the birthday weekend finally arrived, we had a lot of birthday and start-of-summer fun. We took her to a toy store to pick out a toy to buy with her birthday money, got ice cream and pizza, and spent much of her actual birthday at the playground. She constantly reminded us to sing and say “Happy Birthday” and begged me to make her a “birthday balloon” (a balloon with a smiley face drawn on it). She got pink roses from Dan and went on her second-ever Daddy-daughter-birthday date.

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Lydia has also been asking regularly if it’s warm enough to play in the sprinkler or go to a pool. Since the first day of spring, it’s been hard to keep socks or shoes on her feet, not to mention a coat. She loves playing “house” outside and is so proud that this year she’s big enough to climb into our tree house all by herself.

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Lydia loves to play pretend, dance, and snuggle. She is always dressing up as a bride or asking to “play princess” with Dan, which is not exactly his favorite game. 😉 She loves any hands-on activities and anything “special”. Bridal showers, weddings, holidays, birthdays, and get-togethers are sure to put her on her best behavior because she’s just so happy. When she learns it’s a significant day, for any reason, she’ll wonder why we aren’t celebrating more. For example, she asked why we weren’t having a fancy breakfast or a special dessert for groundhog’s day.

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Kindergarten was a breeze for Lydia. Thankfully (for me) she picks up on things really fast. Really, the best way to teach Lydia is to not teach her but let her watch others do the task. When she gets it in her head that she wants to try, she usually can succeed. This has worked well with laundry, cleaning up after meals, serving food, and even math lessons. I can get her to learn a lot more by doing a lesson half myself and letting her do the other half, than if I explain a concept to her and ask her to do the assignment alone.

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Gift-giving might be Lydia’s top love language. She loves to make “gifts” for people – homemade construction paper cards, simple cross-stitch pictures, cut out pieces of paper, and bouquets of flowers (dandelions or violets, usually) picked from our yard. She also loves receiving gifts. When she was struggling to do her reading lessons with a cheerful attitude, we discovered small prizes work wonders to get her motivated. And now that our library has started their summer reading program, Lydia has been reading at least a book a day to win her prizes, when it was always a struggle to do a page or two in her reading lesson book.

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She’s always been our most verbal child, so it’s no surprise that Lydia is almost always talking. If we had the patience and knowledge to answer all of her questions, she would be a genius. On ANY topic, Lydia can rattle off 5 questions without taking a break. Usually her trains of questions come to an halt whenever Mom or Dad have to ask for a break so we can focus on something or give attention to someone else. Lydia also has a very good memory. She has memorized over 100 Bible verses (with desserts as the most effective incentive). The other day we were listening to our daily news radio program during breakfast and one of their regular promo segments started playing. She recited the 30 second promo pretty well right on top of the program.

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This year is Lydia’s turn to accompany me to our church Ladies’ Retreat for a Mommy-Daugther date and she’s pretty thrilled. She’s been looking forward to her turn ever since I took Abby last year. Her memory is pretty incredible in that way too. For example, about nine months ago we took Lydia to a dentist appointment. They told her that she would earn a stuffed animal prize if she could stop sucking her thumb for 30 days. She stopped that very day. Last month I took her again and she got her prize. The next day I found her sucking her thumb after eight months without it! Dan and I had to explain that the point was to stop altogether, not just stop for eight months to earn her prize and then start again.

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Some of my most precious memories of Lydia lately have been our one-on-one times together. Sometimes Lydia will snuggle up next to me during nap time and play with my hair while she listens to an audio book. Occasionally Lydia helps me cook dinner, peeling carrots or stirring vegetables as they cook (that’s her favorite because she feels so grown up working at the stove). I try to remember to give her snuggles, hugs, and tickles whenever my hands are free because my hands are so often full, I’ll go days without a Lydia hug if I’m not intensional. (Don’t worry about her being deprived though, Dan picks up the slack. Lydia is quite gifted at sneaking into his lap whether he says it’s ok or not!)

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Kindergarten – Taylor Style

Several weeks ago, Lydia began her first “real” year of school. We handled preschool pretty casually, mostly teaching her the letters and some very beginner reading. This year we have a much more structured school day, and everybody is loving it.

For those who are curious, I’m primarily using a book called Learning at Home. This is a day-by-day curriculum that includes Bible, Reading, Math, Art, Gym, Story-time, Music, God’s World (science, geography, community), Health/Manners, Character Building, and Field Trips. The lessons are set up in a casual “talk to your child” sort of format, also using a lot of library books as resources. It’s an older book (1988), so last year I “previewed” all of the library books and made my own substitutions where books were out or print, they were unavailable from the library, or I didn’t approve of them for some reason or another. I had also started Lydia with An Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading last year, so I’m subbing that for the reading lessons.

We have spent so much time talking about, researching, and getting Lydia pumped up for Kindergarten, that everyone was really excited on the first day of school.

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Because we want our children to learn how to spend time alone reading the Bible and praying each day, Lydia starts her school day by listening to ten minutes or so of her Word and Song Bible (This is our favorite audio story Bible, but it’s sadly out of print, so you have to find it used. The books are cheap on Amazon or Ebay and the sound files are available on iTunes.)

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Then we plunge right in. I printed off these daily Calendar pages from Confessionsofahomeschooler.com and the girls love filling them out. It’s totally extra and lately we haven’t even been doing them, but the girls love it when we do.

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I love how hands-on the activities are. Every day Lydia is excited to see what she gets to do.

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Since math is my favorite subject, I’ve found myself tailoring that subject to fit Lydia’s speed and interests a little better.

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Once a week I have Lydia draw a picture and narrate for her journal and once a week I have her do a few pages in a handwriting workbook.

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Paul and Abby just kind of tag along with whatever Lydia is doing.

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Our field trips have certainly made for some fun weekends. So far we’ve visited the zoo, a harvest festival, the Ann Arbor children’s hands-on museum, and an apple orchard to pick apples. Most of the pictures are still on my camera, but here’s a fun one of the closest hippo encounter we’ve ever had. 🙂

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Birthday Princess (Lydia’s Fifth Birthday Celebration)

Five years ago on Memorial Day, Lydia Hope was born unexpectedly. Unexpectedly because, after a completely routine and healthy pregnancy, my water broke at only 30 weeks. Several hours later we had a baby. This year, Lydia’s birthday fell on Memorial Day again. It was her fifth birthday. And, for several reasons, this one felt like a big one. Since Dan had the day off and Lydia knew exactly what she wanted to do for her birthday, and since Dan and I knew exactly what Lydia would love for her birthday, we made the day a pretty epic celebration.

Dan greeted Lydia in the morning with a birthday tiara and a bouquet of orange roses, her current favorite flower. Dan has a tradition of getting his girls birthday flowers and he puts a lot of thought into getting them flowers that they will love.

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Then Dan and Lydia took off on their own for Lydia’s first Daddy-daughter date. They went to Leo’s, a coney island just down the road from us, and Lydia got to pick whatever she wanted from the menu. Now Lydia had been fighting this plan for weeks because she likes us all to be together and just couldn’t understand why Daddy had to take just her. Afterward she told Dan, “I didn’t think it was going to be fun, but it was.”

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When they got back, we surprised Lydia with a couple of small gifts. Gum, and nail polish. She’s been drooling over both for the past several months with no idea she could ever actually chew gum or wear nail polish. “Maybe when I’m sixteen?”, she would ask. Lydia’s not usually a good “reaction” girl. She takes in surprises slowly and gets excited a day or so later. The gum and nail polish must have been pretty good surprises then, because her reactions were priceless.

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After lunch and a quick (failed) attempt at naps, we packed up and headed to the splash pad for some more fun. I didn’t bring my camera with me, so you’ll have to use your imagination on this part. Abby was beside herself with excitement. She loves playing in water. Paul was uncertain and spent much of the time watching the kids play but keeping away from the water himself. Lydia was in and out of the water, torn between relaxing on her towel and running around getting wet.

Then we fulfilled Lydia’s requests for dinner: pizza and ice cream from restaurants. The first pizza place we tried was closed for Memorial Day, but we yelped “best pizza” in the area and found a winner. We got our meal to go and ate outside at our favorite ice cream place, a locally owned Dairy King in Plymouth. Paul was a trooper and didn’t complain once about his steamed broccoli and bananas while the other kids got pizza and ice cream.

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There’s a picture of me when I was about Lydia’s age, eating some sort of blue ice cream out of a cone while standing on a beach. I wish I had it to post along with this one. Ice cream all over my face. Like Mother, Like Daughter.

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It was late by the time we got home, but we finally let Lydia open her “official” present from us, a new (bigger) ballet leotard and tights. The girls danced around in their dress up clothes before finally getting ready for bed

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As Dan was tucking Lydia in, I heard her crying, “Today was the best day in the woooorrrlllddd. I don’t want it to end everrrr.” Good thing we’re Taylors. “It’s not just a birthday, it’s a celebration” is what we like to say, and the celebration continued over the next two days.

Tuesday Lydia got her presents from my mom and Dan’s Gramma. Abby had trouble understanding why they weren’t for her and Paul was disgusted at the amount of clothes Lydia was opening.

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And, finally, Wednesday tapered off the celebration with a visit from Dan’s parents, more presents, and sharing the news with Lydia that Grandma got a job in Ann Arbor and is moving down here!

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The birthday was a complete success, way too much fun for me to handle in a day, and a meaningful way for us to show Lydia how very thankful we are that God has given her to us, even it she was unexpectedly early.

Easter According to Lydia

Our family had a wonderful day celebrating Easter this weekend.  In fact, we had such a nice day, I didn’t even think to take pictures.  Sorry!

But, I do have something to share with you all today.  🙂

A couple of years ago, I used a picture book to teach Lydia about Easter.  We looked at it every day for about a week and in the end, Lydia was able to use the book to tell me about Easter.  Well, since Abby is now two and I thought it would be a good tradition to keep, we pulled out the same book and learned Easter again this year.  I was hoping to capture Abby’s version, but it turns out she isn’t quite as eager to be videotaped or to share anything on demand.  So instead, I have for you all, four-year-old Lydia’s version of Easter.  And, just for fun, I’m posting her two-year-old version here too.  Her voice was so high and cute!

Happy belated Easter everyone.  He is risen!

The Necklace

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For Christmas my sister and brother-in-law gave Lydia some beads and stretchy string to make jewelry. After we got back from our trip up North, I spent a couple of days helping her make necklaces and bracelets. She made some for herself, some for Abby, and I made one for Lydia too. I was soon all beaded out.

One day Dan sat down with Lydia and she decided to make a necklace for me. Dan helped and soon I was presented with a small collection of mismatched beads on a string. Of course, I wore it all day and then left it sitting on my dresser when I went to sleep that night.

Fast forward a day or two. Our morning was not going well. Lydia was being difficult and I was getting frustrated. After yet another episode with lots of whining and crying and poor behavior (on both sides), I stomped upstairs to give myself a time out. I was near-tears-frustrated and knew I needed to cool down before having a talk with Lydia. As I sat on my bed and fumed, I started to pray, but I just couldn’t seem to calm myself down.

I glanced up and decided to get ready for the rest of the day, but something on my dresser caught my eye.

“Oh great”, I thought to myself, “the girls got into my stuff and broke one of my necklaces”. I, still angry, stood up and walked over to the dresser to assess the damage. There, lying on the wooden dresser was my necklace from Lydia.

Tears came to my eyes (again) and sentimental music started playing in my head as I slowly picked up the necklace and stared at it in my hand.

My anger was gone and the day was saved. My sweet baby girl, who is still far too young to control herself of her emotions the way I should be able to, loved me enough to want to make this for me. Even though I blow it. Even though I get angry.

Just then I heard my Little Munchkin, my Gooselett, my daughter, climbing the stairs cheerfully, fully recovered from <her meltdown. I put the necklace on and resolved to do my best to make the day a good one, a memorable one. For her.

Little Treats

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Lydia is getting old enough now to have discussions with us. We had one recently at breakfast about “treats”. She has come to associate treats with dessert and I was trying to explain to her that a treat doesn’t have to be a small, sweet, edible snack.

A treat is anything that you enjoy, that you don’t get very often.

We listed some examples of treats and went on with our day. Since it’s November, I thought the conversation was pretty fitting. It’s fun to focus and watch other people focus on things for which we are thankful.

Of course, one of the things I’m grateful for, well three of the things that I’m thankful for are my kids. Today for your own little treat, I’m going to share some of the cute things the girls have been saying.

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Abby doesn’t say much yet. At least, not enough to get a quote from. But she does have one quoteable moment from the past week. After breakfast we were having our daily “Bible time”. I asked the girls, as I always do, what they were thankful for that day. Lydia has a handful of items she often repeats: bubbles, bread, seeing friends, and Grandma. Abby always says the same thing: Pizza (which sounds more like “Pita”). But one morning Abby surprised me with a new one, “Anju”. I asked her if she meant her friend from church and she nodded.

“Aww, Abby, that’s so sweet”. And she added “and Jesus.”

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Now that it’s harder to sneak treats without sharing with Lydia, our family has learned that she also has inherited our sweet tooth. One night when we had finished dinner and were getting ready for Bible study, Lydia informed us that she wanted a “sweet treat” and when she didn’t think we had understood her, she insisted she wanted “a little somethin’ somethin’.”

After our vacation last month, we had some leftover apple cider sitting in our fridge. Lydia consistently asked for some hot cider every single day. One evening when it looked like she wasn’t going to get any she walked up to Dan, who was sitting in the living room. She very gently put her hand on his arm, lay her head on his shoulder and looked up at him with the biggest eyes imaginable as she cooed, “I love you Daddy…” She probably did get some hot apple cider that night.

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Several weeks ago I was sitting in the living room. Lydia was on the floor playing with a doll when she looked up at me and asked, “Mom, did God, like, put glue on my head and put my hair on?”

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The other day I was having a comical conversation with Lydia trying to ask her to do something and she was not following. “Lydia,” I insisted, “use your brain.” She responded cheerfully, “Ok, but I don’t know where my brain is.”

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Lydia’s Top Twelve

A few years ago, my Grandpa sent out an email to his grandchildren including his version of the 12 most important verses in the Bible. Of course, all verses are important, but based on the ones that have influenced him the most, he made this list. Since Lydia has been working through memorizing Bible verses over the past couple of years, I decided to work out way through my Grandpa’s “top twelve”. As of last week, she has memorized them all. I share this post and encourage you to watch the videos for three reasons.

1. To celebrate Lydia’s Bible memory accomplishments.

2. To be encouraged by the verses themselves and inspired to read and memorize Scripture on your own.

3. Abby makes an appearance in several of these videos. It’s cute.

(Some of these verses actually include more than just one verse to maintain the context of the passage. The Bible didn’t even have verses or chapters when it was written, so don’t let this bother you).

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Matthew 28:19-20

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

John 1:1-2

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness

Romans 8:28-29

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

These Little Munchkins

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Remember these little munchkins? It’s been a while since I’ve shared any of their adorable antics. One of the favorite activities in our house is, believe it or not, wrestling with Daddy. Often in the evenings Dan will “tackle” Abby and throw her into a fit of giggles. Then Lydia will come running in yelling, “I think I’m tough! I think I’m tough!” So Dan will “tackle” her as well asking, “You think you’re tough?” It’s a great time all around. And if the girls turn on Mommy (as they sometimes do), Daddy takes them both on at once.

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Lydia has been practically begging me to teach her to read for months. She’ll point to letters and ask, “What makes this one?” (meaning, what sound does this make?) So we’ve finally started learning letters and making some fun crafts to go with them. Crafters, as Lydia used to call them, are one of Lydia’s favorite activities. She also loves riding her tricycle, playing in the sprinkler, and blowing bubbles.

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Abby is at a really fun age, learning new words almost every day. Some words are only decipherable by me, but other words are quite clear, “No”, “Ball”, and “Daddy”. Some of our favorites are “Diapah!” (diaper), and “Ah Boo!” (I love you).

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Lydia says some pretty cute things herself. She is terrified of fireworks and thunder, so, as you might imagine, the Fourth of July was a rough night at our house. For the next several nights there were all sorts of loud sounds coming from the neighborhood. One night, Lydia asked me if there would be anymore fireworks and I told her there wouldn’t be. There weren’t any, so the next morning she came downstairs pretty happy.

“Mom, you said there wouldn’t be any fireworks and there weren’t any fireworks.”

I smiled at her and she exclaimed, “And God said, ‘Let there be quiet!’ and there was quiet!”

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As for Abby’s favorite activities lately, she loves to eat. We can plop her down anywhere with a plate of food and she will sit there and eat until the food is gone, no matter what else is going on around her. The down side is, she’ll eat anything: grass, rocks, trash, plum pits…you name it, she’ll eat it.

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These girls usually get along pretty well, although they have their rough moments. Abby is tougher than Lydia, so there have been times when I couldn’t come right away and I’ve had to tell Lydia, “Just run away from Abby and she won’t hurt you!” They love playing outside in the sand where our pool used to be and they love pretending to be mommies. I just have to make sure we have two baby dolls so they’re not fighting over the baby! Neither of these girls like going to bed at night but it is sweet to snuggle up with Lydia and ask them both about their days. Abby lays in her crib and watches as she sucks her thumb and Lydia holds my hair. They really are little munchkins and they really are very sweet.

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