Thursday, October 22, 2015

Using The Teachers Classroom Language at Home

The Babywise Friendly Blog Network ladies are all talking about various facets of reading and learning today on their blogs! Go check them out on our pinterest page!

reading one of my favorite childrens books to 2 month old Anslee

This is my 2nd year to have a child in school full time, and I am continuing to learn so much about what the best ways are to support my children in their learning. I am excited to come alongside my girls as much as I can as they learn. I like to think that I will always be their first teacher, and so even though I am not homeschooling, I want to be actively teaching them as best as I can.

One way I really try to make helping with homework after school a positive experience is to find out how the teacher teaches, and use the lingo and language that she uses in the classroom. It was a real game changer for the ease at which homework time went over.

I had a parent/teacher conference with Anslee's kindergarten teacher and as conversation happened, she clued me into certain phrases she would use when teaching the kids how to read. Specifically, I would have trouble explaining to Anslee how sometimes some letters make a different sound in some words than what they "sound out" to say. Her teacher told me that she said some words were "naughty, because they simply didn't follow the rules". This may have been something I should have known myself, but I didn't, and being able to r
epeat this back to her at home helps her to see the word for what it is, memorize it, and move right on - because sometimes this is just how the English language works.

During that same parent/teacher conference I picked up on some phrases she used during math lessons. It was a way she reminded the kids of the instructions without having actually give them the instructions all over again. I use that this year as well. I also would really pay attention to completed work that came home. I would see how things were done and talk with Anslee about how she came to her answers. I needed to do this because the methods that they use are different than the ones we used, so its been different - and I want to make sure she is following the methods being taught in the classroom.

This year, Anslee has been able to communicate to me herself what they are doing and how they go about their day. I can see how her teacher teaches blending consonants and I watch how Anslee uses symbols to help her make sense of it all. When I have a conference with her teacher this year, I plan to ask her about some of her usual phrases or fun tricks/sayings/rhymes she uses with the kids during the day. (Her teachers have both been the next closest thing to angels that a human can be. We are blessed beyond measure here).

On the first day of kindergarten, and again, on the first day of 1st grade Anslee came home with a print out very similar to this one:

photo credit: free download from under research
Seeing the difference in this perspective was eye opening to me, and I love that the information can be presented to parents in this way. I always knew reading to your child was important and clearly beneficial, but to see it laid out like helped me to know the depth of its value.

I feel overly blessed to be able to partner with amazing teachers and administration in helping my daughter grow academically. I feel like we all are setting her up for success, and that is just a gift that a price tag could not be set on. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Weekly Check-In with your Husband {Guest Post: A BFBN post}

 The Babywise Friendly Blog Network ladies are all guest posting on each others blogs this week!

Today I have the honor of having Stephanie from Giving It Grace speaking on the importance of having intentional time set aside with your husband each week. This is time used to dig deeper and move past the mundane everyday conversation and interaction that busy married couples can easily fall into. She talks about how it is especially helpful with small children running around to re-group with your spouse each week.

photo credit: Clane Glessel from 
My husband and I started doing a weekly check-in each Sunday shortly after we got married. I'm all about intentionality and this seemed like a great way to ensure he and I were having purposeful conversations on the regular. After a while of doing the weekly check-ins they became less like an interview and more just a framework for a conversation we have about how our week went and what our upcoming week looks like. 

Doing a weekly check-in with your spouse is a great way to get past the "How was your day? Good" conversation. We've also found a weekly check-in is especially helpful if you have tiny humans in your house dominating the topic your conversations. Having this chat every Sunday encourages my husband and I to push pause and just spend some time face to face before we start a new week. 

Here are the questions we ask and answer to each other each Sunday evening:
  • What is your high and low from past week?
    • I really try to listen to his answer on this question, as often things going on at his job are either his high or his low. I find it worth noting if he's stressed at work so that I can be mindful of that when he's at home.
  • How did you feel loved this past week?
    • I love this question. I am easily susceptible to putting standards on myself as a wife that mean nothing to my husband. I've learned over the years that my husband does not feel loved by a fancy Pinterest dinner or the fact that I make the bed every morning (which apparently I just do for me as he could care less). He almost always answers this question by saying he feels loved by how well I take care of our kids. As taking care of the kids often takes up my entire day, it's such a relief to know that really the only thing I can offer him right is the very thing that makes him feel loved during this season in our lives.
  • Anything I need to be called to repent of?
    • I also love this question, as it prevents me from being a nit-picky wife (most of the time!). If Kyle does something during the week that rubs me the wrong way I make note of it to talk about at the weekly check-in. If it's still bothering me on Sunday night, I tell him about it. If I forget come Sunday, clearly it wasn't worth mentioning in the first place. Obviously if it's something huge we address it in the moment, but most of the time it can wait. I also like this question because Kyle knows it's coming and his heart is in a good place to receive whatever I have to say. And vice versa; when Kyle has things he wants to bring to my attention I'm expecting it and am willing to listen to him more so during this time than I would be in the heat of the moment. 
  • How would you best feel pursued this week?
    • Some might find this question weird because it's aimed at our sex life, but in this season of our lives (having little kids) we find it's imperative to talk openly and often about the most sacred part of our marriage: our intimacy.
  • What does your upcoming week look like?
    • Walking through the upcoming week on the calendar together helps prevent scheduling oopsies. It also helps set expectations so we both know what's going on and there's no "you never told me about that" or "I didn't realize you'd be home so late", etc.
  • How can I support you logistically this week?
    • This question is probably unnecessary to most but we find it's useful to be extra clear about what would be helpful to each of us so that we aren't making assumptions.
  • How can I pray for you this week?
    • Another question I really try to listen to his answer on - and then actually pray for what he asks for. As his friend, I really like to know what's weighing on his heart or what he is rejoicing over and coming alongside him for either. 

Check in with all the ladies at:

Giving It Grace (I am guest posting here this week)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Wynn is 16 months, and why its more than just another month.

This post and all the emotion surrounding its content has been swirling around in my head since May 28, 2014 - the day she was born. She is 16 months old now. She is walking (well, when she chooses) and has 12 teeth, and talks/jabbers non-stop. She plays with her sisters happily everyday. She still takes two solid naps. She is smart. So smart. Understands so much. Mostly, she is happy. She has been a dream baby, and is easing her way nicely into toddlerhood. We love her with ever fiber of our being. But really, this post isn't at all about what she is up to now, or milestones or anything. Her turning 16 months old is hard different for me.

I have never had a 16 month old in my home without also growing a new baby growing inside of me at the same time.

When Anslee turned 16 months old, I had just come to know that Kensington was on the way. She was no bigger than a jelly bean, but I knew she was coming! When I learned of this one's impending arrival, I was scared to death because I could not imagine it being possible to love another the way I loved her. (If only I could tell my "mom of 1" self what I know now to be fully possible, and that for me, love deepens with each child) Little did I know, that from this point on, until I was done having children, would be longest time I would ever go between pregnancies!

Anslee, 22 months old. 1 month later Kensington joined our family

Anslee 25 months old, and Kensington 1 month

When Kensington turned 16 months old I was putting off moving her into Anslee's bedroom so that we could prepare the nursery for our 3rd daughter who would be arriving 2.5 months later. She had a name, Laynee Blair, but not a bedroom. This time I had no fear of not being able to love her the way I loved her sisters. In fact, what I knew was that this baby would make me love my other two even more. We didn't plan for her, but we are so thankful to God that he knew better. When Kensington was a little over 18 months old, we welcomed Laynee to our family.

Announcing our pregnancy with Laynee. Anslee had just turned 3, Kensington had just turned 1.

Laynee's newborn pictures. She was 3 weeks old, Asnlee was 3.5 years and Kensington was not quite 19 months old yet.

When Laynee was 16 months old I was battling the flu. It was awful and I found myself in the emergency room because I couldn't sleep because I felt like I was having trouble breathing, and I was worried about the 16 week old tiny baby I was carrying at the time. I needed reassurance that my having the flu was not harming her/him in any way. We had sent the 3 big girls to their grandparents house because Tyler caught the flu from me, and neither one of us were able to take care of small children.  Two days later we celebrated the last Christmas we would have as just a family of 5. One month later, we learned another sister would join the tribe.

We found out our baby would be a GIRL! Anslee 5, Kensington 3, Laynee 17 months

The last picture I took of these 3 before Wynn was born. She came to us less than a week later.
Anslee was almost 5.5, Kensington almost 3.5, Laynee just turned 22 months

One of their first pictures together as a sister set of 4. Wynn was maybe 2 weeks old here.

Now Wynn is 16 months, and it feels like the end of a really great story. Instead of dreaming up a nursery or scheduling prenatal doctor office visits, I am making sure Anslee is prepared each Friday for her spelling test. Tyler and I are both working hard with Kensington to make sure she is prepared to be a big school girl next year. We are being stretched and humbled in how we need to discipline Laynee. Tyler leaves for 9 days each month to go secure our state national border.  I am coordinating a Mop's group and going to PTO meetings. Our family is happily moving into the next season of life, and so far, it is sweet. Our life is full.

Here she is, 16 months old. No news to share - my only girl who will never be a big sister.

I know I will re-visit these feelings many more times down the road. Like when we celebrate Wynn's 2nd birthday and their isn't a newborn there to celebrate with us. That has never happened here! It will be so nice to actually potty train Wynn without also having to coordinate an infants sleep schedule in the mix of it. The diaper bag will almost be useless.  I better get used to it. For the rest of our life, our family's seasons will shift and I will need to learn to savor the moment we are in, and move confidently forward to what will be. One day we will send Wynn off to college, and I will be left at home - hopefully still knowing I have purpose and gifts to share and use.

This is really the first of all the many season changes that will occur during my period of time where I am parenting.  Just the first small taste of it all, and it has already made me understand more clearly that the time really does go by quickly.  I am still so early in game, with so much more experience to gain in the future.

My hope is to really be able to treasure the sweet times during years, and not to feel bad about forgetting the not-so-fun times that are sure to come in each new chapter of our family's story.

The final four Fall 2015