Abby’s 5th Birthday

This month we celebrated Abby’s fifth birthday. (For the record, she has officially told us that she prefers “Abby” over her other names like “Abigail”, “Abs”, “Abster”). Abby chose to celebrate with pizza and ice cream (with Grandma and Grandpa) after a day at the hands-on museum, and then homemade pizza bagels for the “day of” celebration. It was fun to watch Abby take “center stage”, as she usually is shy and quiet and content to sit out of the spot light.

First of all, you all must know that Abby, sweet and quiet as she is, is strongly opinionated. She loves what she loves and lives with zeal. And one of her biggest loves right now is pigs. Real pigs, cartoon pigs, stuffed pigs…pigs. For her birthday, we got her a pig backpack and a big stuffed pig to sleep with. (She already sleeps with her special Christmas doll, her little pig stuffed animal, and her stuffed Elmo – all previous gifts from all different people). Anytime we have any kind of pig sighting, Abby is sure to look over and Dan me with a great big grin. It’s adorable.

Abby is sweet. She has a gift for playing with Little Kids and is my go-to-girl when I need someone to “keep Elijah back while I open the oven” or “see if you can get Elijah to stop crying”. Just last week we were at a baseball game and she came up to me and said, “Mom, you don’t need to watch Elijah. I will watch him so that you can just watch the game”. (She is five, though, so that really only lasted a few minutes, but it was sweet all the same).

Abby is also my little helper. She loves to help me do…anything. Often on days when she naps, she’ll ask me, “When I get up, can I help you do whatever you’re doing?”. And she does! She’ll bring me ingredients from the fridge, put things away for me, or does whatever little job I ask her to do. She also has a daily chore of wiping down the dining room table, which she almost always does quickly and cheerfully.

This year, Abby is tackling kindergarten. She’s technically a little young for kindergarten (by 10 days), but we’re plowing right along. She shocked me last year by starting to sound out words at a younger age than Lydia, so this year she’s learning to read, doing a little handwriting, and beginning some organized math. She LOVES school work, especially workbooks, and begs me to do more and more pages, often more than I can say “yes” to. (On the second day of school, she finished my allotted first three weeks of handwriting!)

Abby is not picky when it comes to having fun. She loves surprises and she loves any outing. Any little gift makes her smile and she keeps her treasures all together somewhere (currently in her new pig backpack) and guards them with zeal. Some of her favorite treasures right now are new sunglasses (in a case), a spiral bound notebook and pencil with an eraser cap, and a couple of toy necklaces she got with her birthday money.

One of the sweetest things, though, that I see Abby do, is play with her siblings. She has a little bit of a peace-making ability, and will usually be the first to give up something to make someone else happy (sharing some of her meal with Elijah after he finishes, sharing stickers with Lydia, and even giving up some ice cream after a birthday-date with Daddy so everyone could have a taste). During the boys (and my) nap time, she loves to play with Lydia, and together they plan weddings and parties, dress up, and pretend travel, school, and restaurant. Sometimes Lydia reads to Abby and sometimes Abby pretends to read to her brothers.

We’ve lately noticed that she’s a little peanut gallery, making hilarious (although, not necessarily on purpose) comments to some of Lydia’s more dramatic episodes. One day Lydia was trying hard not to cry in the car, but she just couldn’t control herself. Abby was sitting quietly, sucking her thumb. She popped the thumb out and piped in, “Try sucking your thumb. That’s what I do.” Then she popped her thumb right back in as Dan and I tried not to laugh (for Lydia’s sake).

Abby has always been a smiler, and she lives her life passionately. When she’s happy, she beams. When she’s tired, she sleeps hard. When she’s excited, she can’t contain herself. It has been so fun to watch Abby grow and learn in the past years, transitioning from a baby who couldn’t eat, to a toddler who couldn’t talk, and now to a spirited five-year-old who is eating, talking, and learning to read!

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.

 photo IMG_1209_zps0ilydzzy.jpg

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.)

 photo IMG_1210_zpsjrhxwo3l.jpg

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.

 photo IMG_1211_zpswxgfyush.jpg
 photo IMG_1212_zpsuhd9ajuq.jpg
 photo IMG_1213_zpsldialh53.jpg

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

 photo IMG_1214_zps60xstvj0.jpg
 photo IMG_1256_zpsihhlh8st.jpg
 photo IMG_1257_zps60gwaa72.jpg
 photo IMG_1258_zps9avoupii.jpg
 photo IMG_1262_zps0g4p2izs.jpg

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

 photo IMG_1249_zpso1g0nik4.jpg
 photo IMG_1250_zps8qevwa8u.jpg
 photo IMG_1260_zpsupkcucds.jpg

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.

 photo IMG_1215_zpslwrwb6vd.jpg

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

 photo IMG_1251_zpsrgw1lz27.jpg
 photo IMG_1263_zpseogt5jxr.jpg
 photo IMG_1264_zpsnyl7yt0e.jpg
 photo IMG_1265_zpsvzsfrut0.jpg

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. 🙂

 photo IMG_1227_zpsbuiycfsd.jpg