Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hugs and Kisses

Pin It Now! This week Avery has suddenly gotten so interested in giving hugs and kisses, and I am loving it!!  Randomly, she'll drop what she's doing, crawl over, and give a nice big hug and kiss.  It's so incredibly sweet and totally melts my heart!  I love this girl!
But it's not just us she loves to give hugs and kisses to, it's her stuffed animals, dolls, herself in mirrors, books (she loves giving kisses to the bear in Animal Kisses),  and pictures.  It's too cute!

On the walking front, we have had a couple more steps.  They only comes in 1s and 2s usually but that's fine by me, I'm in no rush to have a walker!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Focus on Literacy: An Overview

Pin It Now! I love reading!  When I was teaching, literacy was one of my passions and a huge focus in my room.  I have taken several master's classes on different literacy components and would love to one day have my master's in literacy. I have done tons of research and incorporated lot of the things I learned into my classroom.  I now use that knowledge in order to help develop Avery's pre-reading skills.

A little background information, current research has shown that effective literacy programs must contain 5 critical components that are referred to as The Big 5.  I thought this chart did a good job of explaining them:

What it is

How it’s taught
Phonemic Awareness
The ability to notice, think about, and work with the individual sounds in spoken words
·  Focus on sound
·  Identify & blend:
o   Onsets (initial consonant or consonant clusters)
o   Rimes (vowel and consonants that follow the onset)
·  Segment, blend and manipulate sounds
Phonics and word study (decoding strategies) involve the systematic instruction of letter-sound relations to read and spell words accurately and quickly.
· Practice knowledge of letter-sound correspondences
· Decode and read words
· Manipulate, categorize, and examine the similarities and differences in words
How children acquire an understanding of new words and concepts
· Provide key experiences
· Promote wide reading
· Lead discussions through questioning
Reading quickly, accurately, and with expression
· Practice reading words automatically (accurately and quickly with little attention or effort)
· Increase speed (or rate) of reading while maintaining accuracy
· Practice reading with expression

The process that enables readers to make meaning of text, and to communicate meaning about what was read
· Read text aloud
· Communicate to others about what they read
· Promote thinking and extended discourse through questioning and discussions

Although it is not included in The Big 5, print awareness (learning how to use a book, understanding that spoken words can be written, knowing that we read left to right) is another important early literacy skill.  

Although Avery is only 1 year old, it is never too young to begin working on The Big Five.  A lot of it at this age is just talking to her and modeling things but it still makes a big difference.  I don't want to make this post too long and it would if I went into too much depth on each one, so instead I am going to spend the next few weeks going over each one in more detailed posts.  If you have any specific questions let me know and I will try to address them.  Happy reading!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Social Butterflies

Pin It Now! It's a really good thing that we had the party last weekend and not this one because Avery and I have been so busy this week.  I wouldn't have had time to run all my errand and get everything ready in time.  But I love weeks when we are busy and have a lot to do, it makes the time go by faster and it's so good for Avery to get out and about, see new things, and interact with other kids.  Tuesday we went with our playgroup to a local farm.  It was so much fun to see all the animals, they had pigs, goats, emus, chickens, bumblebees, and peacocks.   My favorite were probably the piglets, but boy were they stinky!
  It also gave me a chance to practice some of our baby sign with the real, live animals right there, which was pretty cool.

We had a pretty good turn out for the playdate, we had 8 families, which totaled 11 kids and 19 people in all, not too bad.  As cool as the animals were, the kids favorite part was playing on this little tiny swing-set!  It was pretty funny!

Starting Thursday and going through this weekend my mom is babysitting for this boy (we'll call him C) who lives in her neighborhood while his parents go on a trip.  I call him a boy but he's not really a boy.  It's kind of a sad story but when C was 4 years old he was put on a medicine for his asthma and he ended up having a seizure due to the medicine and he has never been the same (so scary to think about as a mom).  He still has seizures and at age 27 he functions like a 3 year old.  He had progressed up to a 5 year old but the seizures that he continues to have have caused him to regress again.  Well, on Thursday my mom and C came over for lunch.  We had a great time, C held Avery and was so good with her.  He kept giving her little kisses on her head and telling her that he loved her.  So adorable!

That night I had a game night with some friends in the neighborhood.  We played Guesstures, it was so much fun and we laughed so much.  One of our friends even stopped by with her 6 day old baby.  She was so cute and tiny!  It was a wonderful evening of fantastic friends, great conversation, delicious food, and LOTS of laughs!  Gotta love evenings like that!

Friday was the beginning of Gourmet Gals.  It's a monthly luncheon that one of my friends (we'll call her D) is starting.  Once a month she'll come up with a theme (this month was kid friendly meals) and everyone brings a dish and the recipe for it.  Then we get to try out the foods.  D is starting a blog where she is going to put all the recipes with pictures so that we'll have a little online cookbook of everything we got to try.  Such a great, fun idea!!  The first one was wonderful.  The kids all played while we ate and talked!  Avery was kind of at this weird, in between age though.  The kids were either way older then her (3 or 4) or way younger then her (5 months and under).  So she got kind of frustrated, too little to play what the big kids were but the little ones didn't really do anything but lay there.  Oh well, she still had fun trying to play with them all.  D's son G was so sweet, he kept giving Avery hugs and telling her how much he liked her!  I'm so looking forward to the next one!

The week ended with a mom's night out with our playgroup.  Eric's on call this weekend so my dad came over and hung out so that if he got called in I didn't have to come rushing home.  Once again, we had great food and even better conversation.  I love this mom's group that I found, it has been such a great way to meet other moms and give Avery and I stuff to do during the week!

Phew!!  Now I'm ready for a nice, relaxing family weekend!  Hope you have a great one!

Monday, September 20, 2010

My First Award

Pin It Now!

I was so excited to see that I received my first blog award this week, and not only that but I got it from three different people!  Thank you so much to Jill from "Blessings of a Stay At Home Mom", Amber from "Nater Tot" and Samantha from "Have Sippy Will Travel".  It means so much to have gotten this award from three such wonderful bloggers.  Thanks again ladies!

On to the rules for accepting this award...

1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers that you have newly discovered.

3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen.

Now for the hard part, there are so many great blogs out there, it's hard to pick 15, but here it goes:

2) Jenn at Organic Mama
4) Shoni at Walk With Me
5) Lindsay at Our Ordinary Stories
7) Amy at Render Me Mama
10) Annette at Mommy Spirit
12) Julie at 1st Timer's Journey
13) Amy at Oh So Savy Mom
14) Whitney at Diary of a Preppy Mom
15) Cindy at Loving Life's Little Things (even though she also received this award from Jill, what can I say I love her blog too)

I hope you get a chance to go check out these great blogs!  Thanks again Jill, Amber, and Samantha!

Friday, September 17, 2010


Pin It Now! Since Avery was born it has amazed me how many complete strangers now stop and talk to me, or actually it's more like they talk to Avery and I'm just there : ).  It seems like every errand I run I have to plan for extra time cause of all the people who want to say hi and ask questions or tell stories about their own children or grandchildren.  I guess it actually started a little bit when I was pregnant.  People congratulating me, wanting to know how far along I was or if we were having a boy or a girl.  But man, once she got here  it was crazy how much I got stopped!

Well, yesterday it was Avery who wanted to stop and talk to everyone.  She was chatting up a storm.  Constant babble everywhere we went.  So of course I had even more people want to stop and talk with her.  At one point we were in an aisle that had a check out lane at the end of it.  There was a women standing in line and Avery really wanted her attention.  She'd start talking, rather loudly too, until the woman turned around.  Then Avery would smile really big and start waving.  The woman of course smiled and waved back and then turned around again.  Well, Avery wasn't done with her!  So she'd start talking again and again the woman would turn around and Avery would smile and wave.  This went on 5 or 6 times, by the end of it, the woman, the check out woman, the bagger, another person in line, and I were all laughing.  What a character she is, and such an attention hog!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Lot of Randomness

Pin It Now! Things are crazy here and I have all kinds of thoughts running through my head so I figured a totally random post was in order. However, I will divide it up into categories for you!

The Party
Doing well on that front.  Finished the cupcake stand and photo banner (even though I ran out of ribbon and had to go get more).  I didn't finish my other project with the polka dots and haven't decided if I'm going to or not.  Yesterday I deep cleaned the whole basement (playroom/family room, guest room, and bathroom) and today I plan on tackling the master bed and bath.  

Tomorrow I'm going to do a test run of the cupcakes for two reasons.  First, I want to see how the rainbow color thing works out.  Second, so many of my friends have had mixed reactions  from their kids the first time they are given cake (some are totally scared, others don't know what to do, etc) that I want to have Avery try it first without all the pressure of tons of people watching her!  Wednesday night is the evening my parents come over for dinner each week so I thought that would be the perfect time to give it a shot.  Hopefully then at her party she will know right what to do and we'll get some great photos...or not, who knows!

One thing that I forgot to mention in my last post was that I do have a great birthday outfit for Avery.  I wanted something custom made so I looked around Etsy but couldn't find exactly what I wanted.  So I got on and found the perfect fabric. It has polka dots in the exact colors of the decorations.  So then I got back on Etsy and did an alchemy.  Never did one of those before but you submit a request for anyone that would be willing to make you a custom item and you explain what you want.  I had a bunch of people respond, picked one out, and she made us the most darling outfit.  It is perfect and didn't cost as much as I thought it would.  So excited about it!

Since Eric got back from SF, Avery's sleep has been great (knock on wood).  Three nights she has slept until 6:30 or 6:45, I give her a quick 10-15 minute feeding and then put her back in her crib until 7:15/7:20.  She usually doesn't fall back asleep but plays quietly.  Well, this morning she slept until 7:10, which is almost her wake up time anyway.  I was so excited!  Now, if only I could sleep through the night!  Haha!  I find myself starting to wake up at about 4:30 or so (which is when she usually wakes up for a feeding) and then sleep restlessly, waking every 30 minutes or so, until it's time to get up.  This morning I couldn't fall back asleep after 6:30 and finally gave up at 7:00.  Oh well, that too will come!

However, as much sleep as she got last night, she was one grumpy girl this morning, which is not like her at all.  She was whiny, cried a lot, and very clingy.  Not sure what was going on there, as I sit here while she's at nap, I'm wondering if she might be teething.  She almost 1 and still doesn't have a single tooth so it could very well be that.  When she gets up I'll see how she is doing and might give her a teething tablet if she's still cranky.  

A Great Loss
Yesterday morning Eric's former boss and the father of his best friend past away (we'll call him J for this post).  He'd been living on machines for the the past month after having multiple strokes.  He was an incredible man and will be greatly missed.  

Eric and I owe so much to him!  Eric got his degree in finance but has always had a passion for computers.  J knew this and when he started looking for an IT person for his company, he hired Eric even though he had no experience.  It was a small company and Eric was the only IT person there so he got to have complete control over everything.  J let him do a lot and he experimented with some very cutting edge concepts.  Due to all the experience J gave him, Eric was offered another job that paid twice what he was making and as hard as it was to leave, Eric knew it was what was best for our family.  J completely supported Eric and was so happy for him. They even gave him a PS3 for a going away present.  If it hadn't of been for J, Eric never would have gotten his job and I never would have been able to stay home with Avery.  Like I said, we owe him so much!  He was such a wonderful man!

I have many more things running through my head but I won't bore you anymore and plus I think I hear Avery starting to wake from her nap.  Off to make lunch and then run some errands.  Hope you have a great week!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Big Day Approaches

Pin It Now! I can't believe Avery is going to turn 1 in less than 2 weeks and her birthday party is just 1 week and 1 day away!  Ahhhh!!  We are having the party the week before her birthday because there is a Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Walk here in town on the 19th, so my sister and her husband will be in town for that and we didn't want to make them come over 2 weekends in a row.  Plus my mom is watching one of the neighbors kids the weekends after her birthday.  So the 18th seemed to be the best day for it.  The past few weeks I have been busily getting ready and now I have shifted into high gear.  I am not the super creative type but I am trying to make a couple of the things myself.  Here is my to do list for the party:

- decide on theme, polka dots

- decide on food, we will be serving a small lunch with sandwiches, veggies and a couple other sides plus of course the birthday goodies, cupcakes and ice cream

- decide on cupcake/smashcake recipe, Colorburst Cupcakes made with the colors from the polka dots

- buy some of the polka dot decorations, bought the front door sign, birthday banner, high chair banner, birthday hat and cupcake toppers, I ordered them from Stylish Celebrations on Etsy and LOVE them

- make and send out invitations, my mom made them (they turned out great) and I mailed them a couple weeks ago

- buy tableware, each item is a different color, the big plates are blue, the little plates are red, the silverware is orange, the napkins are green, and the cups are yellow

- buy the birthday cake candle, got a cute one that is a 1 with polka dots on it

- make photo banner, I have started this but haven't finished quite yet, so far I have picked out the pictures, printed them and cut them, cut out the cardstock to go mount them on, and glued the pictures on the cardstock, all I have left is to string them on the ribbon

- make cupcake stand, started this one too but not finished, covered the cardboard cake rectangle with paper and trimmed with ribbon, now I just have to make the pieces that the layers stands on, here are the directions I followed

- make polka dots from the leftover cardstock (these will be used for confetti on the tablecloth and to make the next item on the list), I have started this but not done yet

- make paper chains to hang, working on the polka dots but haven't started otherwise (this one might get nixed if I run out of time)

My goal is to have all the craft/DIY stuff made by the end of this weekend so that next week I can focus on getting the house deep cleaned and the cupcakes and smash cake made.

Things to Do Next Week:
- order the food trays (sandwich lunchmeat and cheese, condiments, and veggies)
- buy the rest of the food
- get balloons
- pick-up flowers
- clean
- make smash cake and cupcakes

I'm sure there are some things that I'm forgetting but it's a pretty good list.  I'm so excited and hope that it all comes together the way I envision!  Gotta go get some work done!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This Time of Year

Pin It Now! As I sit in the living room drinking my coffee and playing with Avery, I hear the rumble of the school buses drive by and it signals the start of another school year.  This past year has been so different for me.  No cleaning and setting up a classroom, no back-to-school meetings and meet the teacher nights, no seating charts and lesson plans, no butterflies in my stomach that first day of school (yes, teachers get those too) and going home exhausted but excited each night.  It all still feels a little surreal, like I have something big to do but I just keep forgetting to do it.  It's amazing how much my life has changed in one short year!

One of the most common questions I get these days is "Are you going back to work?"  And although I never say it and I know exactly what they mean, I think to myself "I do work, and it's one tough job."  But I realize they mean will I go back to teaching.  I miss teaching greatly but Eric and I are just starting out our family and I have a bigger, more important job to do right now.  Not that teaching isn't important, but this job, my job as mommy, is one of the most important jobs I will ever do in my life.  

So will I ever go back to teaching?  The short answer, yes!  I can't imagine never teaching again.  It became a part of who I am and I loved it.  The long answer, we would like to have two children, and if everything works out as we would like, I will return when the youngest enters kindergarten.  

Teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs a person can do, you not only feel like you make a difference, but you know you do.  And although I loved my job as a teacher, I love my new job so much more and find it more rewarding and fulfilling then I could have imagined.  It's a job of tickles and raspberries, hugs and kisses, cuddles and kissing boo-boos, feeding and baths, storybooks and songs, cleaning and cooking, play-dates and errands, peek-a-boo and horsy rides, I could go on and on.  But most importantly, I am still a teacher, I am the most important teacher in one little girl's life!

Teaching is a job that I can always return to (or leave if need be) but being a mother is the job I will do everyday for the rest of my life.  

**Yay, check out my new signature!  I did it myself and it was so easy!  Want one of your own, go to and make it for free!**

Monday, September 6, 2010

Baby Steps

Pin It Now! Literally...we have baby steps!!  Saturday night we went over to our friends house for dinner.  They have a son (we'll call him L) who is 3 and a daughter (we'll call her A) who is 5.  A was sitting in a little chair and Avery was standing holding on to a table really close by.  A had this little make-up kit shaped like a heart and as soon as Avery saw it, she wanted it.  So she reached out with both hands (thus letting go of the table) and took two steps to reach A and, of course, the make-up kit.  Now, I'm still not considering her a walker but we are getting closer.  So excited...and a little scared!  : )

Friday, September 3, 2010

What a Week

Pin It Now! Avery and I have had a great week (for the most part) while Eric has been gone, though we have missed him a ton.  We've actually stayed pretty busy which has helped it to go by quickly.  Monday we ran the errands for the week, grocery store and Target.  Tuesday we went shopping for some new clothes for Avery, she's about to start wearing 12 to 18 month clothing and didn't have too many.  From all the baby showers we were pretty well taken care of until this point so I got her quiet a few things.  We went to Children's Orchard, which I love.  In case you don't know what it is, it's a used clothing store for kids (they also have some toys).  I got her 3 outfits, 2 jeans, and 4 shirts all for about $50, way less then I would have paid in a regular store and I got great brands in wonderful condition.  Love a good deal! Wednesday we went to a friends house for lunch and Thursday we had a play date with our playgroup.  However, I am not looking forward to today's errand, heading to the DMV to get our new car licensed and the tax paid!  UGH!!  I waited until after the end of the month for this one so hopefully it won't be too bad.

I said we had a great week for the most part because the nights haven't been going as well as they usually do.  Avery goes to bed at about 7:45 and usually only gets up once a night for a quick feeding around 4 or 5 in the morning and then goes back to sleep until 7:15 or so.  Not sure what is going on this week (Eric gone, approaching a new milestone, sleep regression, etc.) but it has not been going that smoothly.  She goes down great but 3 of the 5 nights she has gotten up at 1 am and has not wanted to get back to sleep.  Sunday she stayed up for 1 hr and 50 min, Tuesday she was up for 1 hrs, and Wednesday she was up for 1 hr and 10 min.  UGH!!!  Eric being gone has made it especially hard since I have to do it all by myself.  Needless to say I've been a little tired this week!  Luckily it hasn't effected naps or her mood at all, which has been nice.  I really hope that once Eric gets back today things will go back to normal.  We'll have to wait and see how it goes tonight!