Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Adventures in Preschool Homeschooling

Wow, I really stink at blogging. I really want to be better about it and spend time on it because I love looking back on old posts. Especially the ones of Lilly Belle.

Lots of changes are going on around here: I am 22 weeks pregnant with our daughter, Lucy. I am now a Stay at Home Mom. I am just teaching my dance classes 2 hours/week. We sold FIT4MOM - more specifically, are in the process of selling. We have decided to homeschool Lilly Belle for preschool this year. I created a preschool co-op called, Bloom that now has almost 50 moms signed up in our FB group. My PSD is so bad that I can't do very much physical activity, and by physical activity I mean I cannot move without lots of pain. We are moving in September to a town next door to where we currently live, into a 3 bedroom condo. We are still in our "Year of Savings", which is why we are moving. I haven't blogged about it, but we have been going strong!

THIS post is going to be about our newest adventure...homeschooling! We have not officially started yet, we are just doing things here and there this month and the beginning of next month until we officially begin mid-August. Most of it right now is just Lilly Belle and I doing activities together here at home that don't involve me moving around (or very little) and that she is learning while doing. I'm trying to avoid 4 months of movies and TV as each week that Lucy grows more and more, I can move less and less and am using my walker and wheelchair more and more.

I wanted to document some of the fun things that Lilly Belle and I have been working on together. It is fun for me to watch her grow and learn. I feel so lucky that I get to be here with her to watch her learn so many new things and discover her world.

This is one of her favorite games. She got it last year for Christmas. We found it in the dollar section at Target. You are suppose to use the spinner and put that color and number of underpants into the wash machine, but we make up our own rules.

This specific time, she went and got this game out and told me that SHE was going to tell me how to play. I asked her if she was putting all the purple underpants together. Then I saw her put down the yellow ones. I teased her and said, "Is that purple??". She said, "No, it's yellow. Look, they are the same KIND of underpants." ..... okay smarty pants!

She then sorted all the underpants by type as I sat next to her just watching without saying a word. I was pretty impressed. I'm always pretty impressed...

Lilly Belle has discovered she can draw faces now. She is slowly getting rid of naps. They are slowly becoming shorter and shorter. Her new thing now is that while she is trying to fall asleep, she brings in her magnet drawing board and will draw people as she gets tired. This specific drawing is of Daddy. He has a head, hair, a mouth, two eyes, AND two legs. The other day she drew a face with glasses as well!

Sometimes in the afternoons I am in a lot of pain, so I will end up putting a movie on. I can't handle the mommy guilt of her just sitting watching a movie even though I'm struggling to grow a human ;) so I will put her work table in the living room, give her a pile of worksheets and her cookie sheet and then she works on her worksheets while watching her movie. Then my mommy guilt goes away...

I found these oversized tweezers in the school section at the Dollar Store and she has really enjoyed playing with them. The first couple times we brought this out, it frustrated her with the little ones so she ended up picking them up with her hands. I'd ask her to use the tweezers, she would get frustrated and throw them ALL on the floor like a crazy person, I mean...2 year old. Now that she has gotten the hang of it, she likes to play with them, but NOT if I tell her how to sort them. She likes to just "free play" with them. I'm fine with that.

We only do worksheets if she's watching a movie or if she asks for them. Sometimes she will wake up from nap asking, "Can we do school activities?" and that means worksheets. I have found TONS online and have been printing them out for her to work on. Some of them I've also printed and laminated on cardstock for her to use over and over. Some, like this one, I've printed multiple copies of because I enjoy looking at her progress each time she does a new one.

THIS is gold. I have been spending hours and hours and hours putting together activities, file folder games, and small work games for her to do once Lucy is born. She has not gotten to play with ANY of these yet, even though she's been asking while she watches me print, cut and laminate them all day everyday. I'm laminating everything so that we can use it again with Lucy one day. And if I'm lucky, any future babies after her ;) This picture is only about 1/2 of what I have in the file box now. Once we move, I will have more space because we are using one of the bedrooms as our office / play / homeschool room, and I will organize this a bit differently. For!

Lilly Belle LOVED this activity. I cut it all out and wrote the letters on it for her. She did the gluing and spelling as much as she could. Anytime she gets to use glue, she's a happy girl. We have had this art hanging on our living room wall for over a week now and she can now recognize all the letters in her name. Prior to this project, she only knew "L" consistently. She likes to run over and shout out the letters. "L" is HER letter. We've told her she's going to have to share with Lucy, but she wasn't having it ;)

Watching her do her worksheets in sometimes under 30 seconds, hold a pen like she's been doing it for years, trace letters perfectly, and talk like she is 15, always makes me wonder, "what else can she do?" So I've been trying some more challenging activities with her this week. She is NOT a fan of patterns at the moment. This is her first introduction to them. I know she can do a simple AB Pattern, but when asked to do it on an activity like this, she flips out. "I can't! I don't like this! I will try tomorrow, okay!" She is used to things coming easily to her and numbers, counting, and patterns have been difficult for her so far. I feel bad for her because that is where I struggle as well and it made school so hard in high school. Thank goodness her daddy is so good at math!!

It took so long to make this for her. I LOVE doing it, but I love doing it because I'm always so excited to get to watch her play with the activity I've created for her. This time, she played with this for maybe 3 minutes before deciding it would be a lot more fun to just decorate the refrigerator with these new magnets. It took a couple deep breaths from me, and then I was fine with it. We moved on and I'll try it again with her in a couple weeks. It's all laminated, filed and ready to go for next time! 

Here was another pattern activity we tried. I created the pattern cards in a program called Canva. Then printed them on cardstock, cut them and will be laminating them for her. I found her Velcro popsicle sticks I made for her last year so we got those out. I thought she would love this, but I should have known... patterns. These pictures were literally about as long as she did this activity. I started with a regular approach. Did an example for her and then told her she could try. She immediately said, "NO." So I asked her if maybe she could try to do it super fast and we could race! That was this photo...

I saw she hated it so I pointed out that one of them was a rainbow. She was interested but was frustrated that the sticks did not fit under the card under the appropriate color. She wanted them to all fit underneath the card. She also did NOT want to put them in order from left to right. I think she was doing it to piss me off though ;) No, for real. I'm pretty sure that's why she was putting them down randomly. She was whining this entire 5 minutes we had this activity out lol. I didn't make her try any more after this. I put it away, gave her a hug and asked her if she wanted to color...

Life with my "Threenager" these days...

Lilly Belle can do her Do a Dot worksheets like this spot and dot one, in under 30 seconds. It's kind of crazy. I have to have like 15 printed out for her and she just flies through them. I get these out for her sometimes when she's in a bad mood or frustrated with something. It makes her feel good when she's so good at them :)

I found these awesome story pages at the Dollar Store in packs of 5. I am going to copy them and print them out for her in stacks because she LOVES it. It makes me so happy because when I was little and in preschool and kindergarten, I always chose the Writing Center when we got to choose. She loves to draw and write and then have me write on the back what she wrote so she can show Daddy. This story was about her best friend Lucas, his house, and his family.

She was drawing a "roof" and "stairs" that belong on his house.

We made sun catchers the other day and she did so well with it. I wish I would have just let her finish when she was really done and then made another in a few months to see the change in her attention span. I might actually have her make another one so I can check that. She filled it about 3/4 way and then said she was done and only ended up filling it because I made it a game with her.

These I am so excited about! We don't work on numbers much. I don't like them. She doesn't like them. But, they're important and it is really important to Matt that she start to know her numbers a bit more. As of today, she only recognizes the numbers 1, 8, and 10. She can count to 10 correctly. She can count to 20 by making numbers up, like "eleventeen" and then mixing all the teen numbers up and saying them as fast as she can and then shouting "TWENTY!" She doesn't like to slow down. She likes to do things FAST. (sounds like someone I know..... oops!)
 Found these printables at:

This was the first time I got these out for her. I just want her to start becoming familiar with how the numbers look, and hearing them all. She's never really heard anyone count past 20, so I'm going to start with this very... very slowly. I had her count to 10 and point to the numbers. She has a hard time with one to one counting. She counts faster than her finger or points faster than her words. She helped me count and point to 10. Then, for the teens, I had her search through the pile for each number to add. I helped her when needed, which was for most. Then she got to put it on and I'd read the number to her. Then we counted and pointed to 20. Then we did the same with the twenties excepted even more assisted by me. She just likes putting the numbers on the card. I am hoping that she can count to 20 by the time she is 3 1/2.  I know that once she is mentally ready to memorize numbers, it will happen quickly, so I'm not pushing it, but I am going to continue to make it a part of our day for her to be hearing the numbers aloud and to be seeing them as well. Repetition!!!

I've always dreamt of being a teacher and our hope is that one day I can be one. I am really enjoying teaching Lilly Belle. Her and I are having so much fun together and really learning a lot from one another. Today we bought a magnifying glass at Toys R Us so next on my list is for her and Matt to go on some nature walks and find bugs!! :) I'll get to go along soon enough... and it will be even better because Lucy can come along with her big sister too!

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Year Of Savings Update - Week #1

Budget Update Week #1

We are coming to the end of our first week with our newly tightened budget in effort to pay off all of our debt and save for our first home! I am pretty pleased with how we are doing this week.

Spending Update
We spent some extra money this week and decided to sign Lilly Belle up for horseback riding lessons. Her 60-minute lessons are $35.00. We like that it gives her a lifetime hobby and is something that will teach her a lot of responsibility. It's an investment for her future and makes her really happy. We also failed a bit and ate out for lunch at Culver's. We did not know Culver's existed here in FL and it is our fav-or-ite. We saw one in our new favorite little town here after Lilly Belle's horseback riding lessons and couldn't resist. I was so angry afterwards because it was $30. So between her riding lesson $35 + a $15 tip because her sweet 15 year old instructor was working so hard and kept our baby safe, and then $30 at Culver's cost us $80 we weren't planning on at the beginning of the week. That was all we spent this week.

Grocery Update
I went grocery shopping for the first time using my new plan with minimal (or no) meat for dinner and am super proud that I came in at $116 for the week when my goal was $100. Now that I've shopped at Aldi, I am more prepared for next week's shopping trip and know now that I can't get everything I need there. I will also be prepared that when I need to go to Publix that I don't go while I'm hungry or thirsty (bought a bunch of Smart Water, chocolate milk, and a $1 snack sized container of Vanilla Oreos). Dropping those items which weren't necessary, I could have easily saved another $8-$10.

Every. Dollar. Counts.

Budget Adjustments
Matt and I found a new storage unit that will bring the cost from $75.00/month to just $28.00/month and in a safer neighborhood. I'm excited about this. That is another $564.00 savings for the year. I also have an amazing friend who gave me some incredible budget tips. She told me about Coke Rewards (we don't drink it but friends do and I like bottled water so I'll start just buying Dasani), Starbucks Rewards, couponing, and more! Another thing on my list is to head to our storage unit when we move it over and see if there is anything in there that we can sell. I want to do a big purge. We have so-much-stuff. All it does is add clutter and more for me to clean. We're going to start simplifying. Hopefully we can make some extra money by doing that to pay off some of those doctor bills I have from our miscarriage.

Debt Update
Nothing able to get paid off yet. Still in the process of making our adjustments and we are hoping that next month we can start to make a chunk in our debt.

Goals for Week #2
I am doing a huge marketing push for both dance and FIT4MOM and I hope that will help us a ton this month. My goal is to work 2 hours on FIT4MOM (in addition to teaching), 30 minutes for dance, and 1 hour on my blog each day. I also want to spend 1 hour/week on bettering myself for my businesses. That means waking up a bit earlier and pre-scheduling more posts on social media. We are also looking into an additional form of income for our family that I would really enjoy and I don't think would add too much time. I am also doing some major delegating with FIT4MOM in hopes of less time and more growth.

Overall, great week. It's feeling exciting to be doing this and to be going for it. It's been awesome to be EVEN more conscious of our spending. Since moving here we have HAD to be aware and careful, but now I'm taking it to the extreme and it's awesome. Matt's been so supportive and on board, even with the new foods I've been making. I think next week I'll surprise him with a pork chops, brown rice & broccoli night instead of a full vegetarian week (he'll be so happy)!

Stay tuned...
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Monday, May 2, 2016

Lilly Belle Goes Horseback Riding!

We had the most wonderful weekend. Lilly Belle got to have her first horseback riding lesson, and we are certain that this is going to be something she enjoys for a really long time, if not forever. Going into it, we thought that maybe she would be nervous and possibly cry going by the horses for the first time. We were very wrong. Girlfriend practically ran to the horses in her little cowgirl boots. We had to remind her time and time again to move slowly and talk calmly with them.

We have signed her up to go every other week. She'll only go once this month because of Mother's Day and our upcoming trip to Seattle, but beginning in June she will go continuously every other Saturday.

It was pretty much the cutest thing we've ever seen her do...She's getting so big.

We let her do everything on her own with Miss Rachel. She had to help prep and groom her horse and had to help Miss Rachel go back and forth into the shed to get everything they needed. There were picnic tables there that Matt and I sat at for the majority of the time. I could feel her bursting with pride and independence.

She has been telling everyone that she has seen today about her lesson. I can't wait until we can take her back!

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ratatouille: Dinner Not the Movie

As part of our new savings plan, we have been making more vegetarian meals and it's been fun to try some new foods! I was so proud of both Matt and Lilly Belle with our latest dining adventure...Ratatouille.

The original plan was to have Lilly Belle watch the movie and then help me make the dish so that she would be more excited to try it. I thought we owned the movie, but I was wrong...and then I got a little bit more nervous about making it for dinner.

We have been working really hard at dinner time with having Lilly Belle try new foods and having her eat what we're eating. To help with this, she helps me make dinner. It has been a lot of fun and a bit of a transition for our family. Usually Matt cooks and makes us dinner. With his current job, it just isn't realistic anymore with Lilly Belle's 7pm bedtime. She gets so excited to help me with dinner and it has been helping with having her try new food.


It was the perfect dish to have her help me with. Different textures of food, colors, and we made lots of circles!

Here is the recipe we followed: Ratatouille

It was our first time trying Eggplant so I let Lilly Belle hold it and ask questions for a bit before I sliced it. 

It was a great recipe for her to help with. I let her put them all in. It taught her patterns too: eggplant, onion, tomato, zucchini, eggplant, onion, tomato, zucchini...

It was a delicious meal. Matt ate most of his and Lilly Belle ate all of her zucchini and even some of her onions. We also made a Caesar Salad and she ate some of that as well. I was proud of Matt for eating the eggplant (he doesn't like it) and Lilly Belle has never tried zucchini before and she gobbled it up. We will be making this again. Yum and so fresh!

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