Thursday, February 2, 2017

Looking Back: Advent in Our Home

Advent and Christmas have long since come and gone, but I didn't want to let some of the memories go unrecorded here in our corner of the internet.  If nothing else, I'll probably enjoy looking back on this next December and remembering some of the things we did -- so that we can make sure to do the successful ones again!

We set up our Advent calendar, and as in previous years, I put a paper slip inside each little door with the day's special activity written on it.  The girls eagerly anticipated opening each door and seeing what we would do that day in our observance of Advent and preparations for Christmas.

Beside the Advent calendar, I set up our nativity scene, which remained mostly empty in the early weeks of Advent, save for a few animals.  But I set a bowl of straw beside it, and when I noticed either girl doing something particularly kind or sacrificial for someone else, they would get to go choose a piece of straw and put it into the manger scene to prepare a soft bed for the baby Jesus.  

One simple craft that we did that ended up being very fun and successful was our star garland.  The perfect craft for preschool ages, this one spanned several days as we first painted sheets of paper with Christmas colors (a perfect activity for both Nell and Ree), later traced star shapes onto the papers (I did this) and then cut them out (Nell did this; she enjoys cutting and is getting quite precise with scissors), and finally punched holes in the stars and used a blunt needle to thread them all onto gold twine (Nell did this as well).  

After wanting to do one for a couple of years, I finally got started on our own family Jesse tree this year, making my own ornaments out of felt.  I tried to stay a day or two ahead of our daily readings so I'd have the ornaments ready to hang.  I wish I could say I finished all of them, but I did manage to make a pretty good start and get about half of them made.  Next year I'm hoping to finish and have a complete set that we can use year after year!  I was mostly pleased with how they all came out.

{Except perhaps for the fact that when I finished the one for Moses and the Ten Commandments, Nathan took a look and said, "This probably isn't a good time to tell you that all ten of the commandments were inscribed on each tablet as that was the way a covenant worked..."  Well, whoops!  I should have asked his advice ahead of time!}

We celebrated St. Nicholas Day with oranges and chocolate coins in the girls' shoes, along with choosing some generous activities of our own for the day -- I always think St. Nicholas Day is a good day in Advent to take donations to a charity or food bank, or to give the kids additional chores to earn money for a Samaritan's Purse gift, or something of that nature.

We were all too pleased to find that the purple dresses from Aunt Emily last year still fit (albeit with slightly shorter sleeves and hem lengths, to be sure!), and were again the perfect dresses for Advent attire on more than one occasion.

We walked downtown for the town Christmas tree lighting, which ended up being way less fun for me than I might have anticipated as Nathan had to work late, I was running behind getting the girls ready and loaded into the stroller, and I ended up jogging a mile in non-running shoes in cold temperatures while quite pregnant to try to make it for the initial tree lighting.  Nonetheless, the girls loved seeing it, and on the walk back home, we stopped into a downtown bakery for gingerbread men!

What's December without some snow?  We had a few light snowfalls, and enjoyed playing in even the smallest dustings of snow.

As always, plenty of our special Advent activities involved music -- this is not only {hopefully} enjoyable for the kids, but also pretty much unavoidable since both of their parents are professional musicians kept quite busy with work during December.  A highlight of the season for us is always the service of Lessons and Carols Nathan puts on at the church where he is music director.  The whole family was there: Nathan conducting, myself playing in the orchestra, Ree in the nursery... and Nell was able to sit beside Nathan this year and have a front row seat to see and hear everything!  

St. Lucia Day makes for the perfect evening to drive around and see Christmas lights, which we like to do with the girls in pajamas.  I only have this one picture, and not a good one at that, but Ree's eyes were full of wonder at the arguably garish display of lights on one particular street in our neighborhood.

Another December activity that's become a favorite of mine is making gingerbread pancakes on at least one morning in December.  We use the Martha Stewart recipe online, and they are so delicious I'm tempted to make them year round!  It's nice to have two eager little helpers in the kitchen with me.

December is such a very busy time for both Nathan and myself, and I continue to struggle with staying on top of work obligations while also creating a meaningful season for my children and attempting to keep our home not only reasonably tidy but hopefully beautiful and cozy as well.  We did manage to get most of our decorations up, although this year the outdoor lights and porch garlands didn't happen, and neither did our usual stair garland.  But the girls did enjoy putting up our outdoor Christmas village scene atop the organ.

And we got a tree up, too, of course!  The girls scampered around eagerly while Daddy put the lights up, and then they got to help hang ornaments.

Each year I finish the task by myself after the girls are in bed, hanging the highest ornaments and putting on the finishing touches -- often while enjoying a glass of wine.  I'll admit that this year I felt inexplicably stressed and discontented, saying to Nathan, "It's just not bringing me joy!"  Nonetheless, it was objectively beautiful and we did enjoy it.  I have to work to suppress a bit of cynicism (or perhaps it's the realistic despair of an overwhelmed and tired mother?) in me that whispers, "You're just going to have to put all these decorations and ornaments away again in a month or so..."  Sigh.  Christmas is a lot of work.

I tried to get a few nice pictures, and had even hoped to manage Christmas cards, but that never quite materialized.

I was, however, tempted to just use this charming photo for Christmas cards: real life at our house sometimes, to be sure!

We pulled off our annual Christmas party and really enjoyed the time with friends, which included carol singing, instrument playing, lots of food and general merriment.

Possibly one of my favorite humorous December memories was the evening of the party, as Nathan put an image of a crackling yule log on our TV via YouTube.  The girls then proceeded to watch it with such fascination!  Nell declared to Marie, "Ree, this is a movie about a fire!"  And Ree responded, "Yeah!  I yove it!"

Finally, we spent the last few days before Christmas finishing up some handmade gifts, which included lotions and lip balms, and some hand-stitched Christmas trees Nell did with yarn and burlap which we framed for family and a few friends.

Then it was Christmas Eve!  I took the girls to church while Nathan was working all day at his own church services, Nell sang "Ding Dong Merrily on High" in the little cherubim choir, and I hurried back home to tuck tired girls in bed and make cardamom bread and other foods for Christmas feasting.

In all, looking back, it was a good Advent, I think.  In reality, while I was living it, I felt overwhelmed by the chaos of my home, frustrated that I couldn't keep the house cleaner or get more done, tired and overly busy, and as I always do that time of year, a little sad that Nathan works more in December and it's harder to find time to do things all together as a family.

But then, in the midst of my frustration, I'd hear Nell saying "Purple is for preparation...!" and I'd be grateful for the reminder from my four year old that Advent is not and never will be about already being ready enough.  Thank goodness for that.

{Maybe I'll share some photos of our Christmas season here next, despite the fact that it's already February!}

Thursday, November 10, 2016

some not-so-light reading

That I should come out of a blogging hiatus to post twice in two days about politics -- how strange!  And yet, here I sit.  

I followed this election cycle, from the primaries through Tuesday's election, with interest, but somehow I am perhaps even more intrigued now that it's all over than I was before.  Maybe the fact that I could have called it all so incorrectly is part of what now has me so very interested in understanding more.  (Maybe the fact that a lot of the time leading up to the election found me sleeping every moment I could, in the haze of the first trimester, and now I find myself with a little more energy, also factors into it!)

I posted yesterday some thoughts upon waking up the morning after the election to the news that Donald Trump would be our next president.  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  I thought I knew how this nation would vote; it turns out, I was within an echo chamber of sorts.  Having been against Donald Trump for his character (or lack thereof) and equally against Hillary, I voted third party and of course, read a lot of articles from others making the same choice.  I truly thought this was the year for third party votes to skyrocket, and I was excited about it!  (I wasn't the only one who thought this way.)  I also read a lot and heard a lot from my friends who were voting for Hillary.  In the meantime, I could count on my two hands the number of people I knew voting for Trump.  Was I foolish enough to think this was a representation of the entire nation?  No, but... maybe a little bit?

Today I'm just sharing a few links that I found fascinating as I think about all of this.

+ + +

From a Bernie supporter: Dear Democrats, Read This if You Do Not Understand Why Trump Won.
"I took it upon myself to understand Trump, and his supporters. What I found was millions of great Americans who had been disenfranchised, normal people like you and I, who did not recover from the Great Recession. They’re pissed off about Obama Care, endless wars, trade deals that have killed jobs, higher taxes, a rigged economy–and, they are not wrong."

+ + +

A really well-written piece, quite enjoyable to read: Millions of Americans Support Donald Trump.  Here's Why. by Thomas Frank
"This gold-plated buffoon has in turn drawn the enthusiastic endorsement of leading racists from across the spectrum of intolerance, a gorgeous mosaic of haters, each of them quivering excitedly at the prospect of getting a real, honest-to-god bigot in the White House.  All this stuff is so insane, so wildly outrageous, that the commentariat has deemed it to be the entirety of the Trump campaign. Trump appears to be a racist, so racism must be what motivates his armies of followers."
"But there is another way to interpret the Trump phenomenon. A map of his support may coordinate with racist Google searches, but it coordinates even better with deindustrialization and despair, with the zones of economic misery that 30 years of Washington’s free-market consensus have brought the rest of America."

+ + +

"The American white-collar class just spent the year rallying around a super-competent professional (who really wasn’t all that competent) and either insulting or silencing everyone who didn’t accept their assessment. And then they lost. Maybe it’s time to consider whether there’s something about shrill self-righteousness, shouted from a position of high social status, that turns people away."
+ + +

A really interesting piece by a Sanders supporter with facts on immigration, crime, and what Trump has actually said: The media needs to stop telling this lie about Donald Trump.

+ + +

An interesting perspective from David Bahnsen, a voice on the right: The Day After, What it All Means, and Where We Go From Here

"You cannot call every single person you disagree with on perfectly reasonable issues a racist, sexist, and homophobe, and them expect people to take you seriously when a real demagogue enters the fray.  The left’s hysteria and lack of charity with those they disagree with for years has led to a credibility deficit.  I find Trump’s behavior towards women and comments about Hispanics revolting, but when I see the left say to choose love not hate (in opposing Trump), I think they fail to see how utterly hateful they have been towards God-fearing non-hateful sincere Americans for years.  I don’t agree with the punishment, but the reality is that too many middle Americans were tired of being insulted so unfairly, and took it out on the other side by voting Trump."

+ + +

From the Washington Post, an article by an associate university professor: Trump Won Because College-Educated Americans Are Out of Touch

"The most important divide in this election was not between whites and non-whites. It was between those who are often referred to as “educated” voters and those who are described as “working class” voters.  The reality is that six in 10 Americans do not have a college degree, and they elected Donald Trump.  College-educated people didn't just fail to see this coming -- they have struggled to display even a rudimentary understanding of the worldview of those who voted for Trump.  This is an indictment of the monolithic, insulated political culture in the vast majority of our alleges and universities."

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Written back in January; read it now.  This ought to give every single one of us pause, I think: The 'Other Side' Is Not Dumb
"When someone communicates that they are not “on our side” our first reaction is to run away or dismiss them as stupid. To be sure, there are hateful, racist, people not worthy of the small amount of electricity it takes just one of your synapses to fire. I’m instead referencing those who actually believe in an opposing viewpoint of a complicated issue, and do so for genuine, considered reasons. Or at least, for reasons just as good as yours."

"Sharing links that mock a caricature of the Other Side isn’t signaling that we’re somehow more informed. It signals that we’d rather be smug assholes than consider alternative views. It signals that we’d much rather show our friends that we’re like them, than try to understand those who are not."

+ + +

And finally, a nice reminder that the world isn't ending from John Mark Reynolds: Wonderful to Be an American in 2016.   Yes.  Our elections are free and fair.  We have a system of checks and balances.  We have a peaceful transfer of power.  We should not take these things for granted!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

election ramblings


I'm trying to process what I watched unfolding last night, and finally, what I awakened to this morning -- that our country has elected Donald J. Trump to be the next President.

After a streak of calling every election outcome correctly since '96 (just luck, I suppose!), I was totally wrong this time.  I believed that Hillary would win by a landslide.  I believed that she was a horrible candidate, but believed Trump was even worse and had spent his campaign continuing to sabotage himself in ways from which he could not recover.  Obviously, I was wrong.

Maybe I was just living in the echo chamber of my own demographic, despite the fact that I tried to learn and understand more about the voters who were rallying around Trump.  

I am one of the relatively small percentage of voters that voted third party.  I truly hoped that third party candidates would receive significantly more support this year; that all the #nevertrump and #neverhillary voters would put their money where their mouths were and send a strong message that we could and should demand better candidates of the two major parties.  I knew that by voting third party (despite the fact that I live in such a decidedly blue state that I knew my third party vote was not going to change the outcome of MA's electoral votes) opened myself up to criticism from both sides: to a Hillary supporter, "a third party vote is a vote for Trump," and, of course, vice-versa.  Still, after carefully considering all the factors, I felt compelled to vote my conscience in this way.  I even naively hoped (although not expected) to see both candidates fall short of the 270 electoral votes required, and to see the election thrown to the House.  If ever it could happen, it could have happened this year, I thought, when so many voters from both major parties felt disenfranchised and un-represented by their party's candidate.

I have no doubt that most of my friends - college educated people who hold one or more degree, many of whom live in Boston or California - will claim that Trump won the election because America is, at heart, a racist, sexist, misogynistic country.  I am certainly disheartened that Trump will be our president, but I am not convinced by this form of anti-Trump rhetoric.   I am not willing to say that "deplorables" elected this man solely because they are ill-educated, racist xenophobes.  Perhaps I will be proved wrong in the coming months and years, but I do not believe that 50% of our nation consists of these kinds of citizens.  Perhaps a saddening 10% or so of people really stood behind Trump and loved all that he stood for and did, but I think a majority of voters who elected Trump fell into different categories.

It seems to me that - if the admittedly few Trump supporters I know personally are representative at least - that the reasons people had for voting for him were one of the following:

1) Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate.  So was Donald Trump, but the Democratic party overestimated Hillary's ability to outperform him nevertheless.  Hillary was corrupt; so was Trump, and voters felt they had to decide between "the lesser of two evils" - a phrase we all heard a lot during this election cycle.

2) Policies and party platforms.  Despite the fact that we had little reason to believe either candidate would deliver on the platform promises they made, voters who had traditionally voted for conservative government values fell in line and voted for the candidate promising at least some of the values they held dear.

3) SCOTUS.   The election ended up being unusual in that it became not about two major figureheads and personalities, but ultimately about the Supreme Court nominations each candidate promised.  I read many articles by conservatives advocating that their readers vote for Trump for this reason and this reason alone, even if they had to "hold their noses" to do so.

4) A desire to "see the government turned upside down."  Get the career politicians out.   Mix things up in the White House.  Hillary, with all her experience in politics, represented "the system," and the Trump campaign somehow managed to turn his lack of experience to his advantage.

5) And possibly most of all - and this goes outside my own circle of friends - millions of people with whom we share a country were feeling disregarded.  They felt the need for Hope and Change all over again, but of a different sort.  The promises the Democratic party put forward were not what at least half the country was looking for, at the end of the day.  We can sneer at these people, marginalize them on social media and in our conversations, or we can seek to understand them and pursue unity as a nation.   They represent half of the American experience, for better or for worse.  Where they are wrong we should hope for them to grow.  Where their experiences are valid, we should listen and expand our own narrow experiences and worldviews.

I know that, for many Americans, a Trump victory is quite painful.  It feels like betrayal.  It feels like betrayal to women who have ever been subjected to unwanted advances by a man.  It feels like betrayal to legal immigrants who nonetheless have never felt quite fully welcomed by all of America.  It feels like betrayal to women who (while I may disagree with their choice of particular woman to be candidate) wanted to see that so-called "glass ceiling" shattered once and for all with a woman in the White House.  It feels like betrayal to people of color who were rightly horrified by comments Donald Trump made and endorsements he received.  It feels like betrayal to those in the LGBTQ+ community who fear being further marginalized and targeted if the hateful speech of some Trump supporters is allowed to continue.  

A Trump victory feels like, "How could people vote for that man unless they hate me and disregard my experiences?"  We need to listen to these people and love them.  They are not crazy to feel this way.  You cannot expect to separate politics and platforms from people and their experiences and feelings.

I believe that evangelicals of my age group also feel somewhat alienated from the older generations within their churches, in many cases.  Even as Christians in their 20's and 30's decried Donald Trump for his morally reprehensible comments and behaviors, older Christians, while not embracing him, chose to vote for him.  Perhaps they are older and wiser and more practical than the young, idealistic among us, but it was disappointing to many of my Christian friends to see evangelicals eventually come to endorse Donald Trump, rather than decrying his deplorable morals and holding ethics above party and power.  Both major candidates were far beyond just "morally flawed," yet in the end, people fell into line to vote for one or the other, for the most part.

I finally girded up my loins to watch Trump's speech from last night, and had to make a concession of my own: it was the least horrifying speech I've heard him make.  He almost sounded like he could be - somewhat - presidential.  I can only hope that he might continue in this fashion; perhaps against all odds he will surprise us all and govern wisely.  I pray that he will protect, preserve, and defend the republic and the constitution.

As much as I'm looking forward to finally having this wretched election cycle behind us, I realize that as long as voters are hurt by one another and find the other side incomprehensible at best, the years ahead will be challenging.  I can't even bring myself to look at social media this morning, because I know it will be all yelling, mud-slinging, name-calling.  If we can't treat one another with love, even when we disagree, how can we work together?  When we create boxes for other people and force them into them ("anyone who voted for Trump is a racist or is tacitly endorsing his remarks" / "anyone who voted for Hillary is a criminal or is tacitly endorsing her criminal behavior") without listening, we are just further dividing our nation.  The issues are complex.  Let's love and serve one another; let's commit to getting more involved on a local level with causes we support and doing small things to help humanity.  We can keep yelling at each other, or we can get to work to make our country and the world a better and safer place regardless of the election outcome.

At the end of it all, the question on my mind now is how to navigate these days with grace, how to seek to understand more than to be understood, how to move forward and seek unity, and perhaps most of all, how to pray for a man I disdain and abhor, who is to be my president.

I have known for many months now that, whoever had won the vote on the morning of November 9th, I would not be happy about the outcome either way.  Today, I am more surprised than I thought I would be, and I don't know what the next four years will hold for my country.  The future feels uncertain.  I am only certain of this:

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

Monday, October 24, 2016


Now that this little two-year-old is running around talking so much, I think she's ready for a spotlight of her own when it comes to recording the things she says.  Maybe not so much with the funny, full, complex sentences yet, but still plenty of sweet things to remember.

And actually, it's amazing that she's jumped from piecing together two or three words at the beginning of the summer to the full sentences she uses now.  She didn't talk as much earlier on as Nell did, but now it seems as if she was just biding her time until she felt like she had the whole language thing figured out.

She hates going to sleep at night {and staying asleep is a concept foreign to her, it would seem... yes, we are losing our minds slightly, thank you for asking}, hates the Big Bad Wolf and other frightening fairy tale characters, and will often leave simple carbs behind on her plate in favor of gobbling up brussels sprouts, broccoli, peas, grapes, strawberries, or clementines.  {And she can eat five or six clementines in one sitting for a snack!}

She loves spinning and dancing around, whether indoors or out, and is quite fond of "doing bayey" (ballet) in the living room along with her big sister.

{photos from back in late August}

Over the summer she said "nummies" when she wanted food, and coughed with a particular sort of desperation anytime she wanted water.  (Dramatic?  Yes.)  There was something particularly cute about seeing her walk around the house wearing my "fip fops" on her feet, a grin always on her face.  And sometimes when I would ask her to do something, she'd look at me impishly and declare, "No obey!"  And when she was impressed by something big, her attempt at saying "Big big big," her eyes always wide, would be "buh buh buh!!!"

Her language skills have grown by leaps and bounds in the past couple of months, though, and now she will utter sentences like, "Mommy, I hungee!  I want food!  I want water!  Can I have a snack please?"

She loves dressing herself in anything and everything available (nothing is off limits, not even dirty laundry!), but shows a particular affinity for shoes.

She loves joining Nell and me on the couch for a good book, some nursery rhymes, or best of all, a songbook, but is sometimes apt to decide to "read" or sing it all by herself, turning to me with her finger on her lips and saying, "No, no, shhh shhh Mama.  Mine!"  To her credit, she's has a good repertoire of songs, with a few favorites of mine being "Oh my dahin Tementine" and "Tendew fwephew, tendew fwephew, yet me hep you count youw sheep..."

When she saw me enjoying the treat of a root beer float one summer afternoon:
"Mommy!  Ice cream soup!"

She refers to all bugs as "bumblebees," and is usually terrified of them.

Roosters are "cockadoos," and monkeys are still "hoohoohahas," even though she's perfectly capable of saying rooster and monkey at this point.  She is particularly excited by cows, but says "moo" anytime she sees a picture of a horse, too.

Ree counts to ten with great enthusiasm, will proudly tell anyone who asks that she is "Two!" -- and has asked me several times if we can name the new baby "Two."  She talks with great excitement about the "new baby! new baby!" Only time will tell if she remains as enthusiastic when life turns upside-down come mid-March.

If you ask her when the new baby will be born, she'll usually reply, "Ummm, in twenty minutes."

We had a slightly traumatic encounter with heavy machinery unexpectedly clearing trees near our house one morning in preparation for a new development going in behind us (sigh), and Ree brings this up every couple of days, quivering a bit, a frightened look on her face: "Big big digger!  I scared!  A big big digger!  Cut down frees!"  Then she rallies, smiles, and reassures herself, "All done cut da free!"  And life goes on.  But if you ask her what she's scared of, diggers and bumblebees will probably top the list.  Although at bedtime she's been known to mention sharks and whales as fearsome creatures likely to be lurking in the shadows, as well.

During a brief bout with a stomach bug, after what was probably the first puking episode she remembers having, she looked at me with surprise and declared, "My tummy was coughing!"

A few of my absolute favorites of her words:
"Yook!" (Look!  Uttered approximately five hundred times a day, of course.)
"Otay!" (Okay!)
"I weddy!" (I'm ready!)
"A yibidit more?" ({Can I have} a little bit more?)
"Pea-unts" (Peanuts)
"Heyyo!" (Hello!)

Her L's are mostly Y's, but while she'll shout "Heyyo!" to her little friend "Yucy," Lucy's sister is, inexplicably, "Lili," with both L's clearly pronounced, which I find fascinating.

And to finish up with a bit of evidence of her ever-expanding language abilities...

When I put on a flannel shirt one morning:
"Oh Mommy!  Peedy! (pretty) I like your dess (dress) so much Mommy!"
{I guess I keep the standards low around here...?}

While I was helping Nell with one of her Bible verses for AWANA:
Nell: "Can you say it too, Mawie?"
Ree: "No.  I'm just a little baby.  A teeny tiny baby."

Barging in one morning for that oh-so-necessary hello while I was showering:
"Mommy!" (Eyes wide, clearly impressed.)  "Wow!  You have a big big bum!"
{Two things one can apparently not have as a mother of young children: privacy, and self esteem!}

As I was putting on my black heels -- a clear sign that I was going to play a concert:
"No Mama!  Don't go! Tay here!  Why are you wearing concert shoes?  Tay here!"

Walking up to me while I was making dinner:
"I just need a hug wight now."

Screaming inconsolably in the middle of the night:
Me: "Ree, can you tell me what's wrong?"
Ree: "I just yove you and I just want you and I just need you."

Aww.  What a sweetie.  Still, I'd prefer if she'd sleep at night and give me loving affirmations during the daylight hours.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

It's a ...

It's been a busy and fun Fall for us so far, but Friday was a particularly exciting day.

It was the long-awaited ultrasound to see the newest member of our family, expected to arrive in mid-March!

My sister-in-law Hannah had a fun idea to do a little gender reveal family dinner night, so the ultrasound technician slipped the pertinent info into a sealed envelope, which we gave to Hannah.  

I had mostly been thinking how fun and exciting this would be for our girls - Nell talked very excitedly about cutting the cake and seeing what color frosting was inside for days leading up to the event.  I didn't fully anticipate how exciting the day would feel for me, though!  By about 4:00 in the afternoon, I was going crazy to think that Hannah knew and I didn't!

Finally dinner time arrived, and we headed over to Hannah and Andrew's house.  

Over pizza, salad, and wine, we discussed our predictions and guesses.

Nell made a sudden change from Team Pink to Team Blue... and was so excited about the pink and blue balloons I had bought that she couldn't stand still:

Ree continued to say "girl," whenever asked:

Then we were finally ready to cut the cake!

Nell helped me hold the knife and cut a slice.

There it was ... definitely pink icing!

Hannah gave me the card that had been inside the envelope.

We are all really excited at the prospect of having a gang of girls on our hands come March!

Nathan declared, "Good!  I am pleased!  I don't like change!"

Thank you, Hannah and Andrew, for planning such a fun and celebratory evening with us!  

I can now say that with each of our babies, we've done things slightly differently.  With Nell, we waited until she was born to find out that she was a girl.  With Ree, we found out right at the 20 week ultrasound.  And this time, we let Hannah know first and plan a fun evening for us!  I think each way has been fun and special, but there was something so wonderful about having a whole evening to celebrate this baby; when you're still feeling queasy about half the time at 19 weeks pregnant, sometimes you just need a mid-pregnancy pick-me-up.   This was just perfect!

We are so excited to meet our third daughter in March.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

First Day of Home Preschool

Despite the fact that I tend to believe in the "better late than early" approach to academics for young children, I have a four-year-old who is dying to "do school" like some of her little friends who are in preschool these days.  So, today was our first day of home preschool!

We started the day off with a brand new book for the occasion:

During the course of the morning, we read several books, made bread, used perler beads, and worked on learning to play the game of Mancala.  She wanted to do more, more, more, and is eager to keep working on her handwriting, and asks me reading-related questions all day long.

I asked Nell a few questions in the days leading up to beginning preschool with her, and enjoyed hearing {and recording} her answers.

Q: What do you think people learn in school?
A: Reading.  Doing flips.  Doing all sorts of things.  Painting toenails yourself.  Learn how to not be naughty.  Learn how to drive a car.  Learn how to take care of plants.  Getting a new wheel for your car if you have a flat wheel.  Learn to crack eggs!

Q: What do you most want to learn in preschool?
A: Learning flips.  Doing ballerina things.  Ballet.  I want to go to a ballet dance class like Sadie and Nora do.  I want to learn like the number twenty and eight and forty all sorts of numbers.  Art, like painting leaves like we did today.  Gluing and cutting things.  And read books like about Nancy who lost her memory.  And learn to read by myself.  I don't know how to draw a dump truck; do you think you could teach me that?

Q: What are your favorite things to do?
A: Everything.  I love to go to my swimming lesson.  Play my violin.  Dance.  Play outside.  Read books.   Play!

So many things about our home environment are already things I consider valuable "preschool activities" -- like our morning basket time, the many books we read, the violin practice we do, folk songs and hymns we sing, cooking and baking, outdoor play, art, and small chores about the house.  But this eager girlie wants "preschool," and the usual daily activities are not quite enough to convince her... so I'm off to keep working on my list of new things to do in the coming weeks!