Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mercedes' 4th Birthday Letter

My Dear Sweet Mercedes,

Four years ago, I held you in my arms for the first time. Four years ago, I fell in love. A love deeper and stronger than I ever knew possible. Until you are a mom yourself, you will never understand how much I love you, Baby Girl. You mean the world to me and I would do anything for you. When you are happy, I'm happy. When you hurt, my heart hurts with you and I wish so badly I could take the pain away. Becoming your mom is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I know God loves me because He gave me YOU for a daughter. I am so proud of you, Love.

You really are the best kid any mom could ask for. You have such a kind heart. You are sweet, generous, tender, caring, compassionate, cooperative and helpful. You love princesses. And you act like one. In a good way. I always remind you that you are God's princess. Because He is the true King of the Universe and you are His daughter. You are already showing love for your King. You pray to Him throughout the day and thank Him for all He has blessed you with and all the wonderful things He has made for you to enjoy. You sing to Him throughout the day, too. I remind you that hearing from you makes God's heart happy. I tell you how much God loves you and what a good job He did creating you. I pray that you never lose sight of the fact that you are God's princess, and you always remember to find your worth in Him as His daughter. I pray that you would keep seeking Him and loving Him and praising Him and being thankful for all that He is and all He has blessed you with.

You are so creative and smart. You have such a long attention span, spending hours a day coloring in your coloring books and drawing pictures to hang around the house. It makes me so happy seeing our walls covered with pictures you've drawn. You want to be a heart doctor when you grow up and often request to watch videos of heart dissections and college lectures about heart anatomy. It fascinates you. I promise I will do whatever I can to make your dreams possible for you. Whatever your dreams are, I'll do my best to give you the tools and resources you need to make it happen. I will always help you and challenge you to learn as much as you want about whatever you are interested in. Your dreams, passions and interests will be the foundation of your homeschooling experience. I am so excited to start kindergarten with you this fall! I can't believe how fast you are growing and how smart you are. I love that you love to learn.

You love to sing and dance. Watching you dance and hearing you sing makes my heart happy. I hope you always feel like dancing and I hope you always have a song in your heart. Your joy and love for life is contagious and you make everyone around you happy too.

You are such a good friend to your sister. Emerald is finally old enough to play the games that you like to play, and to use her imagination with you. The two of you play together constantly and have so much fun. Sometimes I have to step in and intervene when you two have gotten into an argument, and that's okay. I totally understand the love hate sister relationship. But I know you love each other because after the problem has been solved you go right back to playing. When Emerald is sad, it makes your heart hurt. When you are sad or hurt or sick, Emerald wants to help you feel better. When you are sleeping, Emerald misses you. When Emerald is sleeping, you miss her. I hope you two stay best friends throughout your childhood and as you grow into adults. And don't worry, I'll always be here to referee when the two of you aren't getting along. Even into adulthood. Trust me. I get it.

You have such a sweet life. This summer has been so fun and amazing and I have loved spending every minute of it with you. Playing in our yard and at the playground by our house, visiting parks around Lawrence, the swimming pool and wading pool, trips to the library, the Toy Store and Pet World, going to the grocery store for a special breakfast on Thursday mornings,  ice cream or chocolate milk picnics in the shade, finding snails, baby birds, earth worms and neighborhood cats and dogs to make friends with, drawing with sidewalk chalk and blowing bubbles, cooling off with the hose and in our little wading pool, exploring by the river, our chats about God, listening to you sing and watching you dance, drawing and coloring with you, playing Barbies and doll house with you, teaching you how to make bread, tortillas and cookies by scratch, reading you stories from the Bible, cuddling with you and watching movies during our Mommy Daughter Date nights, playing games like Candy Land, Jenga and Blokus with you, and my favorite part, praying with you during the day and every night before bed. I love hearing your sweet prayers and God does too.

Thank you for being YOU. I'm so thankful that you are my daughter and I love every minute of it. I can't wait to keep watching you grow and seeing your little personality develop, listening to your ideas and seeing all your creations and artwork, and helping your dreams become a reality. Being your mom is such a joy and an adventure. I'm so incredibly proud of you and thrilled to be your mom. Happy Birthday, Baby Girl. I love you!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My Father's World Kindergarten Curriculum

I am sooo excited to homeschool Mercedes this fall. She has been doing preschool projects and activities since she was 19 months old. When she turned 3, I started more structured learning with letter of the week lessons, colors, shapes, and numbers of the day as well as counting lessons. I originally came up with a flexible lesson plan for this fall (she turns 4 on July 31). I have been creating my own curriculum and using library books and internet material because our budget has been so limited. I am beyond blessed to have stumbled across a full time babysitting opportunity which will add to our budget significantly, which means I get to order Mercedes an actual curriculum for this fall! I am thrilled about this because she deserves the absolute best learning opportunities available.

I searched extensively through all the Christian home school curriculum I could find, and finally settled on My Father's World. There are a few things I love about this. First, I am beyond excited for all of the fun activities this curriculum has, including an ant farm and butterfly garden. The daily lessons are very hands on and will definitely keep Mercedes interested. Since Emerald also loves to learn and I am not doing structured preschool with her yet, I love that this curriculum makes a point to include younger siblings in the lesson. They continue to do this all the way though elementary school so if we end up using this curriculum long term, the girls will get to continue to learn together which I think is wonderful. The best thing about this curriculum in my opinion is that it is completely God centered and all the lessons focus on Him. Amazing. I am so thrilled to try it!

I was planning on ordering Mercedes the 3-5 year old preschool package, but as I read through it I realized that the lessons are basically everything we have already covered this year. Intro to the alphabet, numbers 1-10, color sorting, etc. and I absolutely do NOT want her to get bored of learning. She challenges herself daily so while I don't want to push her into something she's not ready for, I DO want learning to be somewhat challenging and interesting for her. So I have decided to order Mercedes the deluxe kindergarten package, even though she will have just turned 4 right before the start of the school year. If she struggles through it, we will skip through the stuff she is not ready for and come back to it next year. If she flies through it which I anticipate she will, we will be able to start 1st grade next year and she will just be a year ahead in school, which is the beauty of homeschooling. Kids get to learn at their own pace! Emerald will get to participate in some of Mercedes' kindergarten lessons this year and next year, when she turns 3, I will order her the 3-5 year old program which I know she will be more than ready for by then. This is our first year of structured homeschool and I am SO excited to get started! Even though I am using a curriculum instead of making up my own, I'm sure we will have plenty of activities to blog about during the next few months and I'm excited to share our learning experiences with you!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Animal Lessons

This summer we have not done much structured preschool. We are too busy playing outside and involving ourselves in all the fun summer activities around Lawrence. We have been spending lots of time at the library this summer, and besides the ASL videos I've been renting each week, the girls have been helping me pick out books about all kinds of animals (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, bugs and fish). They both LOVE animals and they have been learning all kinds of fun facts about all of them in our books. Sometimes our reading time will lead to questions that I don't know the answer to, so it turns into an internet/youtube video search to learn more. This way even during our relaxing summer days, the girls are still learning and their brains are still being exercised, all while they're having fun and discovering new things about topics they are interested in.

We keep our library books on a designated shelf so the girls always have easy access to them.