Wednesday, November 15, 2017

FREE Alphabet Bundle

 I love making new homeschool activities! I've got a free one for you and all you have to do is enter your email in the ol' subscribe box there on the right side of the screen. Not only will you get the five page alphabet bundle but you'll receive updates on new blog posts. Now who wouldn't want that!?

Now lets take a look at these super cute printables. The alphabet bundle includes a two page beginning sounds activity and three pages of alphabet tracing (uppercase, lowercase, and a combination of the two). Since these are sent directly to your email (be sure to check your spam folder and add Arrows & Applesauce to your contact list) you can print as many as you'd like. Or, if you're into saving a few trees, use these super cool clear pockets and a dry erase marker to help them last longer.

Squeaks is just starting to make the connection between letters and the sounds they make. I think these are going to be a hit with her. She's catching on so quick. I see lots of fun alphabet activities in our future. Yay!


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Our Homeschool Day: Calendar Time

I take a very relaxed approach to how we homeschool. I really don't want to rush anything and squash any natural desire to learn. We have been focusing more on learning through playing rather than using structured activities. Lately though Squeaks has been asking for some activities more than others, so I thought I'd share what homeschool looks like for us these days. Most weeks we only do school maybe two days. Other weeks we do maybe half an hour a day. I leave it up to her and try not to push her to do more than she can focus on. If she starts getting impatient, I know it's time to stop for the day. It is only preschool after all and she's only three so there's no need to push it. I also try to structure most "lessons" around an interest she has. For example, one week I asked her what she wanted to learn about and she said octopuses so we did a lot of ocean themed activities that week. She's more likely to retain information if she's interested in the subject.

Aside from the themed activities we do, there are three learning tools that have been consistent hits that I'd like to share. I'll share each one in it's own post because each one is so fun and full of great activities.

Most homeschool days start out with calendar time. Both Squeaks and Little Dude love calendar time. Although I think LD mostly likes it because I sit on the floor with them and he can crawl on me. I try to include him as much as possible though even if his little two-year-old brain has the attention span of a gnat. I made our calendar board from a foam presentation board I got at Walmart. The Calendar itself was from Target and the activities on the board are a mix of Pinterest finds and my own creations. I laminated everything and attached it to the board with TackNStick so it can be easy reconfigured.  In addition to the links listed below, I include a number and letter we focus on for the week and the current weeks Awana Bible verse. (She just started Awana a few weeks ago and shes loving it. Plus she looks crazy cute in her little vest.)
 I'll start at the top and work my way clockwise down the sides first.
Months of the year banner -I attached each month directly to the board instead of hanging it as a  banner. We use a clothes pin to mark the current month.
Days of the week wheel- Squeaks loves turning this wheel while we sing our days of the week song. (See my songs board here.)
"Today's weather" wheel- We sing a weather song for this too. We live in California so we don't get a huge variety of weather, but if we visit the mountains this winter we'll use the "snow" option. 
"What Season" Wheel- Yet another song for this one. 
Our letter, number, and Bible verse for the week are behind Little Dudes head.
Rainbow Colors- I literally just Googled "rainbow", found an image I liked, opened it to PicMonkey and typed in the color names. Easy-peasy.
Shapes- I cropped it to fit everything on the board, but aren't these little shape people cute!?
Numbers 1-10 poster- I offer this one free on my Teachers Pay Teachers site. Enjoy!
ABCs chart- Squeaks loves pointing to each letter and singing her ABCs.
A closer look at the sides, although I've rearranged a bit since then.
The kids love adding the new day to the calendar (each day attaches with a velcro dot), turning all the wheels, and singing our songs. I also use a mini white board (Target dollar spot) to let them practice writing the letter and number of the week. I don't get to strict with penmanship yet though. We always end saying the Bible verse and praying together for the day. Altogether, calendar time takes about 20-30 minutes depending on how many times we sing each song (there could be multiple encores of the ABCs) or how much time we spend with the white board. So fun!

Up next in our homeschool routine: Busy Binders!! You're going to love these!

How about you? What's your favorite way to start your homeschool day?

   

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Flash

I realized while scrolling through recent posts that I haven't been sharing Flash's monthly pictures. Have you felt deprived? My deepest apologies.

I told Josh after attending a baby shower recently that I now know why moms of multiple kids give unsolicited advice to new mothers. Because it's dang hard to keep your mouth shut! With three kids under four I feel like I have a very specific and refined skill set and I just want to share the wealth. I kept my mouth shut though. Not that this particular new mom needed my advice I just had an itch to give it. New moms need to feel like they know what they're doing I think. I know I did. Too much lecturing or "advice" and they loose their mojo. Parenting takes some guts. You don't want to take their confidence down right out of the gate.

By the third kid you really do develop a more relaxed approach to parenting. I remember when Squeaks was a baby (feels like it was yesterday) and I took these monthly chalkboard pictures with her. I'd spend a good hour picking out a cute outfit, making her chalkboard perfect, and taking at least 50 pictures before choosing my favorite. By the third kid, you check for drool and just go with it. I still really wanted him to have his monthly pictures like Squeaks and Little Dude, but his are definitely more relaxed than theirs were. Yet I'm still totally in love with each months picture.


Really everything about Flash is more relaxed. He's such a quiet peaceful little guy. You could set him down and forget he's there if you get too busy. Of course he's too cute to forget though. He's just as content as could be to lay on his play mat or DockATot (mine was made by my mom and I LOVE it). He's also a big laugher though. He smiles very easily and Squeaks can get him laughing better than anyone. I got this video the other day of him playing in his exersaucer and Squeaks, for some reason, started saying "chicken" to him (kids are strange sometimes). Anyway, he thought it was hilarious. Enjoy!


I'm excited to see this little man grow. Excited to see his relationship with his siblings grow. They crack me up and I'm beyond proud to be their mom.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Don't Lick That!

Little Dude has always had massive amounts of energy. Even when I was pregnant ultrasounds were difficult because he would never sit still long enough to get a clear picture.This is just his personality.

From the moment he was mobile he was testing the limits. He started climbing things very early and still climbs anything he can. The other day I walked out of the bathroom and found him standing on the back of his rocking horse reaching on his tiptoes for something on the kitchen counter. If the horse hadn't started to slide on the tile floor causing me to lunge to catch his, I might have stopped to take a picture. This kind of thing is a daily occurrence though, multiple times a day in fact, so I have plenty of pictures. I've developed a calm (exterior) approach when reacting to his dare-devil ways. If I say "no!" too much or too emphatically he tests it further. "Oh mom is excited about something! Let me see how excited I can make her!" So I try with all my might to calmly say "please get down", "please don't touch" (unless he's in danger of course). Sometimes I have to let him touch and let him test though. I have to pick my battles. If I didn't he'd constantly be hearing the word no, and I really do want him to explore and learn his limits. So if he wants to slide a dining chair around the house and use it to climb up and test all the light switches, then go for it Dude. If he can run instead of walk, he does. If he can jump instead of sit, he does. Constant motion.
This is his personality in a picture.
He saw an opportunity and took it. He was half way to the roof before I got to him. This was at 18 months old.
It's only recently that I started noticing some of his behaviors were a little more extreme than others. He would put everything, EVERYTHING, in his mouth. He started licking things too. That might make you giggle a little, but the things I've had to say lately are super strange. "Stop licking the dog gate!" "Stop licking the window!" I tried to remember when Squeaks outgrew the baby-everything-in-the-mouth stage and realized he is way past it. 

In my homeschool preparation reading I've come across sensory activities on many occasions. "Sensory" is a real buzz word in the preschool community these days. Sensory play, sensory development, and sensory disorders. Then one day I came across this article and it ticked a lot of boxes. I believe Little Dude may have a very mild sensory disorder, more specifically he is a sensory seeker. The input he's getting from his surroundings isn't enough for him. He needs more. 

I'm at the very beginning of learning about what this may mean for him, but like I said, I believe he has a very mild case. I've already made a few changes that have been helpful for him.

1. More outdoor time.
Outside play is important for kids anyway but even more so for a sensory seeker. The variety of landscapes, textures, sounds, smells, it just doesn't compare. Since we live in California, heat is generally the main thing that keeps us from being outside. But lately, I've started just opening up the back door and letting him loose anyway. If he looks hot I make him drink water and ask if he wants to come in, but if he's happy I just let him do his thing. As a bonus this has also improved his independent play. Sometimes Squeaks would rather be inside while he's out, so if he wants to play outside he's on his own (well, with me anyway). 

2. Chew-lry
Chewable jewelry. This was a suggestion from a friend whose son has a pretty severe sensory disorder. He also had issues with everything going in his mouth, chewing on weird stuff, licking, etc. This I think is Little Dude's main sensory need. If his paci isn't in his mouth something else is and it drives me crazy. So I went in search of a safe alternative and found this ridiculously cute silicone shark tooth. It's made specifically for toddlers to chew on. Score! And he loves it.
Diggin' on his chewlry while watching a movie.

3. No more artificial food dyes.
This one was easy and something we were actually going to do even if LD hadn't had sensory issues. I've read so much about how artificial dyes affect kids behavior it's crazy. Did you know they're even illegal or at least require a warning label in Europe!? New info to me. About a month ago Little Dude had a particularly rough few days. In addition to his normal bouncing off the walls, he was whiny. Super whiny. Like I was tempted to lock him in a closet just to get away from the whining. Then I came across an article about how artificial food dye is basically poison and has a huge list of side effects. Asthma, sleeplessness, mood changes, it goes on and on. So I went digging through our cabinets in search of food dyes. I found very little because we shop at Trader Joe's for 99% of our groceries and they don't use artificial dyes in their products. But much to my surprise I found red 40 in the children's Tylenol I had been giving him when he was cutting molars. Ugh!! So we stopped using it and the whining subsided. I mean, he is still two years old, so there's still whining, but it improved greatly. No more artificial dyes for us!

4. Probiotics.
This is not new information for anybody. There are endless blog posts and articles about the benefits of probiotics for every aspect of life. Improved sleep, digestion, mood. So I did some research and found a good children's probiotic. This is the kind of thing you really have to stick with to see results. It's not an overnight improvement. LD has been taking them with breakfast for a few weeks now though and I believe I'm beginning to see benefits. He slept through the night five nights in a row! Before this I could count on one hand how many times he had slept through the night since he had been born! Woohoo!

So do you have experience with sensory disorders? How has it affected your daily life and what steps have you taken to overcome it?

Friday, November 3, 2017

New Ways to Follow Along

A few of my links haven't worked in awhile and I'm just now getting around to updating a few details. You may have noticed (if you're OCD like me)  that my domain name finally matches to title of my blog. Yay! The same with my Facebook page, Twitter account, and Pinterest page. But wait! There's more! In addition to those classic social media favorites you can now my blog with Bloglovin AND I have added an Instagram account. If that wasn't enough, you may have noticed a new button on my side bar. I'm an Etsy seller! Homeschool printables and more fun stuff to come. For goodness sake, I'm practically an empire! So pick your favorite platform and keep in touch.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

3 Things To Keep After Adopting

 If you've been reading my blog long enough you'll know Halloween is my least favorite holiday. After having kids it has gotten much more fun, but I'm still not a huge fan. This years Halloween was full of good memories though so I'll ignore the ghosts and spiders and focus on my happy kiddos.
Dory, Nemo, and the hungry caterpillar (or if you're using your imagination "Shark bait". wink wink.)
Now that Halloween is over, November begins a period of celebration I can really get behind. Like Easter, I have come to feel that this time of year is a special gift just for our family. For some reason God has decided to group life events in clusters for me and November holds a few that are dear to my heart. It's my mom's birthday month, Thanksgiving, Evelyn's birthday (I have come to a place where I can celebrate her!), and all month long we get to celebrate National Adoption Month!

I'm the kind of person that loves keepsakes. I get sentimental about the littlest things. For example, Josh and I have a shoe box full of little memories from our highschool years. Movie ticket stubs, a deflated balloon from our first Valentines day, a menu Josh made from the first dinner he cooked me. Theses are things I'll never throw away. My keepsake hording only increased once I had kids. Squeaks specifically has childhood memorabilia coming out the wazoo. 

In honor of Nation Adoption Month, I wanted to share a list of keepsakes you might not think of keeping for your adopted child. These are things I am super glad I have for Squeaks and I'm positive she will be thankful I kept them too.
1. Original birth certificate.
This might seem like a no-brainer once you think of it, but a lot of people don't do this. I don't know if this is the case in every state, but in California, once an adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents are put onto a new birth certificate with the childs new name (if they have chosen to change it). Squeaks' birth parents named her a completely different name and I wanted her to have that connection. I wanted her to see their names and the name they had chosen for her. It isn't  a legal document anymore but I have it. You may need to ask for the original like I did. Once it's changed it usually doesn't end up in the final paperwork.

2. Clothes.
Although we did get to go to the hospital and spend time with Squeaks birth family, due to extenuating circumstances she spent her first week out of the hospital with a foster family. We didn't get to put her in her leaving-the-hospital outfit. The whole thing was a hard pill to swallow at the time. But, just like most of our trials, we can look back now and see that God meant it for good. The night Squeaks came home she was dressed in pajamas the foster family had put on her. Pink long pajamas with monkeys all over them. Something I would have never purchased. But after texting some homecoming pictures to Squeaks birth mother, she was thrilled to see that Squeaks was wearing the same pjs her biological older sister had. Those monkey pajamas are now snugly folded into Squeaks keepsake box.
Squeaks in her monkey jammies.
3. Text messages.
I LOVE reading through the text messages from the day of and days after Squeaks was born. God's fingerprints are all over the place! These are the conversations that led us to her with the people who worked hard to bring her home. The first text messages I received from Squeaks birth mother make me cry even now. The strength and love is overwhelming. Text messages from our adoption coordinator, lawyer, and home study case worker are full of Gods amazing attention to detail. The majority of them have private detail that aren't mine to share. This one however is a favorite because it just goes to show how quickly life can change and how much God loves showing his perfect timing. Our homestudy had been delayed due to some misplaced paperwork. Not just for a few days or weeks, but delayed for months. It was driving me crazy and of course I thought it was all up to me to fix, it was going to derail everything, it was going to keep us from getting a child! I completely let my head run away with itself and forgot my God is bigger than paperwork. Then I got this text message the morning of January 8th completely unaware that Squeaks birth mother was in labor with her at that very moment. We got the call that night. That's the kind of thing that makes you all giddy inside. Knowing God had a plan all along and that every detail is in his hands. So ya, keep those text messages.
What about you? Did you keep anything out of the ordinary from your adoption journey?


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