Monday, January 27, 2014

The Schwartz's vs Sarah's Tinkerbell Party

I was not on top of Sarah's birthday party this year.  For a couple of different reasons.  One, she kept changing her mind about what she wanted.  Two, I kept changing my mind about what I wanted.  And three, I kept hoping she'd give up and forget about having a party.  I mean, we already did 2 other birthday celebrations for her!  We did her annual movie outing with her Aunts and we did our family dinner with her cake.  That should be enough, right!  But considering how every day she and Cody would talk about her Tinkerbell birthday party I gave up on thinking she'd let it go.

So I gave in and started planning it.  But with her constantly changing mind, I really didn't do my normal party etiquette.  I was actually quite ashamed!  Instead of sending out proper paper invitations 2 weeks out, people got a text message the day I finally picked a date.  Even my sister made fun of this very out of character move!  I can't stand last minute text invitations to birthday parties.  I never really understood them because, come on, you know your kid's birthday is coming and what you are going to do before a week out.  Except apparently sometimes you don't.  Ha!  Literally over breakfast Saturday morning I caved to her party requests, looked at the calendar we had one Saturday available the one 7 days away, and started planning it.

When Sarah started naming all the people she wanted at her party I decided to change from just taking her and Jessie to Sweet and Sassy and I found a face painter on facebook.  I sent them a message to get a price quote and as soon as they confirmed they were free for the date I sent out the text messages inviting people to the party.  Classy.  The one good thing about such a short turn around to the actual party is I kept it pretty low key.  No crazy decorations.  No personalized water bottles.  I spent about $5 on decorations at Walmart and while I was there I bought fairy wings for the girls and ordered pirate swords for the boys online.  Done and done.   With the late notice on the party we had a small turn out which was fine since we don't have a home conducive to throwing parties.

The facepainter, Ms. Janine did a fabulous job!  I sent her a message saying it was a fairy/pirate party so she could bring examples of that for the kids and she even came in costume.  I was impressed.  She was very talented and great with the kids.  Even Cody let her paint his face and he normally doesn't go for that.

Painting Sarah

Butterfly Princess Tinkerbell Sarah

Painting Cody

Pirate Cody!  Arrrg. 
Cody was so funny, after everyone got their faces painted he referred to them by their face paint and their name.  Pirate Wy-Wy.  Spiderman Jack.

Jessie, Sarah's best friend.  She was waiting on her nails to dry.  I put pixie spray in the girls hair and painted their nails for them with the princess nail polish Sarah got for her birthday from Susan and Steffanie.

Fairy Sophia with Addie Beth in the back.

Spiderman Jack.  

Unfortunately, the date of Sarah's party conflicted with the H's pinewood derby so they weren't able to make it.  Grandpa Schwartz also had to miss for that same reason.  And that left us with some extra time with Ms. Janine so I teased Chris that he needed to participate and that Sarah got to pick.  

Sarah picking out Chris's face paint.

He's such a good sport.

Sarah and Chris

The whole rest of the party every time I looked at Chris, I laughed and then felt a little sorry for him.  I probably should have talked Sarah into letting Chris get the pirate face like the other boys.  Oh well.

Then while we waiting on our last guest to arrive Em got her face painted.  After the party we went to CFA to get lunch and as she walked past a table she heard a girl tell her mom, "I want face tattoos like that lady!"  Ha!

Best attempt at a group shot.

Singing Happy Birthday to Sarah.

Blowing out the candles.

New record for how many kids we crammed around the picnic table. 

Cupcakes and Kool Aid pouches, yum.  
It's what Sarah wanted to serve.  
She was very specific that she wanted the Tinkerbell cake from Wal-mart. 

Then it was time to open some presents!

Magic Clip princesses from the movie Frozen.  Sarah's current favorite.
I like these new magic clip princesses way better than the rubber dress ones because she can actually change their clothes herself.  

Addie Beth and Jack gave her a flying Tinkerbell doll.  Thankfully she's not strong enough yet to pull the zip chord hard enough to get Tink to fly.  Otherwise she would have already been hit in the face multiple times.  She can only get Tink to spin on the base. 

a baby Ana doll.  She LOVES this thing.  It is her current must carry every where with her toy.

Cody checking out Ana.

Opening all the new cute clothes from Grandma and Grandpa Schwartz.

Cody had a mini melt down during presents.  Thankfully, this isn't Grandma's first rodeo and she brought something for Cody to open too.  They found the other 2 pieces that go with the wall ramp we bought Cody for Christmas.  It took Chris 2 tries, but he finally got the whole thing put together and it's glorious.  The kids love it!   I'll try to video it later to show it off in all it's glory.  But the little meltdown is why his face paint got smudged up.

Sarah and Cody

Happy Birthday Sarah!  Now can we quite talking about birthdays for the next 6 months at least?  

The answer to that is no, no we cannot because sure enough at breakfast Sarah started helping Cody plan his next birthday.  Ahhhhhh!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Schwartz's vs Breaking Cody

We decided that when we got home from our trip to TX that Chris would take the last 2 days off work and potty train Cody.

It took all of one day for him to give up.  Ha!  Potty training is not for the weak or faint of heart.
Proud of his big boy undies.

So that night at dinner, while Cody's pee cascaded down his chair and he didn't say anything and we decided that clearly it's not time to potty train.  I jokingly said to Chris, "well, let's at least take his paci away and feel like we've accomplished something."  Chris took me seriously and took Cody's paci!

I have a weird relationship with the paci.  I don't know why I'm so obsessed with the idea that you have to take them away at a certain age or whatever.  I looked back on the blog and Sarah was a little younger than this when we took hers.  But she also bit hers and understood what she did and so it was easier to take it away.

Cody cherishes his paci.  He takes good care of it.  He is always careful to leave it on his pillow in his crib.  He gets excited for nap time cause he gets his paci.  

But Chris took it and that's that.  And I have felt so much guilt about it.  It took about 3 days for him to stop crying over it at nap time and bed time.  And each time he'd cry my heart would break.  I felt like a bully.  He didn't do anything wrong and I took away his beloved paci.  It'd be like taking away Sarah's Roar or my bunny when I was a kid. 

I didn't cave though cause once you make a decision like this you have to push forward.  If you cave and give it back then you just have to go through the whole process again at some point and it'll probably be worse. 

"Mom. Mom. Mommy!  Take a picture of my airplane."

On day 3 with a horrible screaming/crying fit during nap time I went in there and picked him up and held him.  I asked him if he was upset because paci was gone and he did his whole body wave which is how he shakes his head yes.  I told him paci got lost in TX and if I could I'd go back and get it but it's gone.  He cried some more.  Then I reminded him that he still had his blankie and his puppy.  

He's done a little better since then but it's still not the same.  My happy little boy who loved taking naps and going to bed is now belligerent at nap time.  My great sleeper who would consistently give me 3 hour naps and wouldn't make a peep in the mornings is now screaming at 6 am.  I am not a fan of this.  

Look mom, I did the pig puzzle all by myself.

I'm letting the 3rd kid keep their paci until they move out.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Schwartz's vs "Preschool"

I have NO interest what so ever in homeschooling my children.  I have never had an interest in it.  The thought hasn't so much as crossed my mind for even a second.

I am so overwhelmed by the concept of how to teach such important skills like letters and reading that I never even planned to do preschool work with my kids.  My plan has always been to send them to mother's day out.  And I have a lot of reasons why I thought that was going to be best way to get my kids ready for kindergarten.  However, my bubble got a little burst at Sarah's 4 year check up, and my plans needed to change.

As Sarah was being her normally crazy self in her check up I jokingly asked Dr. Catherine if she wanted to go ahead and stick the ADHD label on Sarah and give me the drugs or if we really had to wait until all the teacher notes started coming home in a couple of years.  I also lamented that while Sarah is incredibly verbal, she has no interest in learning her letters or learning how to read.  

I was shocked when Dr. Catherine told me the problem was a lack of structure.  Then I thought, duh.  Of course.  It was funny at first because if you know me I seem very structured and disciplined.  But, we really aren't.  We are very regulated and we have strict routines, but I really don't have any structured time set up where I ask Sarah to sit down and focus on something.  And routines and structured focused activities are 2 different things.  Sarah needs to sit down and be taught how to focus and finish a learning task.

So, it was either time to cough up the dough for Mother's Day out, or it was time to add some structure to our day.  Being cheap, I'm surprisingly going with the do it myself approach.  We are only in week 2 and every time I sit down with her to do something I really regret this decision.  I just don't have the patience for this.  I hope that this will be a learning experience for both of us.

My game plan right now is to do 3 days a week for about 15-20 minutes each day.  Right now we're just working on letter names and recognition and we are doing 1 letter a week.  I'm hoping this will get her use to sitting and focusing and then we can add more skills and perhaps switch to themed units.  Not sure.  I'm really taking it one day at a time right now.

I bought a preschool workbook at Costco for $8, and am looking for ideas on pinterest.  I know I need to incorporate some crafts to keep her interested.  The first day as I was flipping through the workbook I found lots of tracing sheets they called "prewriting skills" but no tracing the letters worksheets.  So I decided to make my own while Sarah worked on the prewriting skills sheets.  Because I am cheap and want to be able to reuse the worksheets I slip them in a plastic page protector and let the kids use dry erase markers to write on them.

Here's Sarah working on her As.  

The first 2 lines she just has to trace the letter.  The 3rd line I had her trace and say what the letter was.  Then the bottom 2 lines she traced an example letter and wrote the rest by herself.

Cody working on his As.

Cody was so cute and excited the first day.  He had his own sleeve with a prewriting skill sheet.  He basically colored all over it.  But I only made one letter sheet.  So as soon as Sarah finished it he said, "Cody turn to do letter A!"  As you can see he still just basically colored on it.  But he was focused and happy about it.

The next day we traced our letters again and worked on finding them.  She had a page for big A and a different page for little a.  

This was when I started to get real frustrated real fast.  She was fine at finding the letters but she would not follow directions and just circle it.  She'd trace it.  She'd color over it.  At first I was just going to ignore it but part of this is to teach her how to listen, comprehend, and follow directions.  So I made her erase it and try again until she just drew a circle around the letter.

Today we started on the letter B.  I made another letter tracing sheet and also made a bubble B for them to color and we can hang up.  However Sarah took so long on her letter sheet that we didn't get to color today.  And I was ready to pull my hair out. 

But thankfully she was smiling through it so as frustrated as I was getting at her difficulty with the big B, I at least wasn't letting it show enough to upset her. 

Done with B's time for a fun pattern game.

I noticed in the Costco workbook that there is a huge section on pattern recognition.  So I thought it might be fun to do a little hands on manipulative activity for patterns today.  Plus I have an excess of M&Ms since we failed to potty train Cody recently.  So I made some quick pattern sheets for each of the kids and got a bowl of red, green, and blue M&Ms.  

First I had them sort the M&Ms by color making 3 different piles.
Cody sorting the last blue.

I shared this picture on FB with the caption "teaching my kids OCD by having them sort M&Ms by color."  I think one person took me seriously.  I was just kidding.  You can see my high tech pattern sheet I made in the bottom right hand corner. 

After they sorted their candies I explained NO EATING THE M&Ms until you are completely done and I say it's ok.  You will get to eat them but NO SNACKING during the game!

Matching the M&Ms trying to find the pattern.

Filling in the blanks at the end of the line.

I really worked with Sarah on reading the pattern line and trying to logically decide what would come next.  She is 4 so her logic is lacking, we'll be doing more of these activities.  But probably not with M&Ms every time.  That was way too much candy!

Since I was focused on Sarah doing it right Cody was doing his own thing.  But when I looked over I was impressed.  Rather than working on the patterns per say he just worked on matching colors.  He did all the blues first, then all the reds, then all the greens.  Whatever, works for me.

As soon as he was done and had me "check his work" he also started shoving M&Ms in his mouth for fear I might change my mind and take away all the glorious candy.  I reassured him that they were his and he didn't need to chipmunk shovel them into his mouth. 

All done!

So that's where were are so far.  It's way harder then I thought it was going to be.  It's probably going to teach me a lot about patience or drive me to drink.  It has reaffirmed that I am not an elementary teacher.  But I love how excited both the kids are when its time to work on letters.  I love how proud Sarah is when she finishes a letter sheet and how Cody doesn't want to be left out.  We didn't have time this Monday (i.e. I didn't want to do it) and they were both disappointed at bed time when Sarah pointed out that we never did our letters.  

I'm hoping their enthusiasm will propel this forward and we'll all enjoy doing this.  Because heaven knows we have to do it.