Life on Cottage Hill: PAGES

Friday, January 31, 2014

america puzzle

Last night Jackson pulled out his "America Puzzle" as he does every day... sometimes multiple times a day. With the help of Daddy, he has completely mastered putting it together and knows most all states by name, recognizing them by shape. I think it's safe to say he knows his western geography better than I do at this point. I love watching his concentration and methodical ways of putting it together piece by piece with intention and patience. There are so many times during the day when I feel like I can practically see the wheels turning inside his head... those wheels that never rest for my little man, not for one second. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

celebrating the heat wave.

We broke out of the house today for Jackson's favorite treat- Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt. We've been in hibernation mode for the most part the past few days because of the "Polar Vortex" temperatures, but today felt like a heat wave with temps almost getting above freezing. PS: we are one week or less away from Jonah's arrival if anyone is keeping count... 

Monday, January 27, 2014

the much anticipated bliss of maternity leave.

Today was day #2 on maternity leave. Beautiful, glorious maternity leave. I can't explain the physical and mental relief that happened when I walked out my office door for the last time until next summer. I love my career, I am very blessed to have it, but I also know the strain it puts on me and more importantly my family and so these next 6 months are dedicated to them. To my (almost THREE!) babies and my husband and all things simple and pure and good. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Audrey "Big Girl" Engel

I realized that in the midst of Jonah prep I hadn't documented the Peanut's latest milestone- she is potty trained! There is one caveat- we still put her in a diaper during the night because I'm not sure if her little bladder can hold it that long since she is only 26 months old, but during the day, including naps, she's in big girl panties and rarely has an accident. The whole diaper at night thing will have to go soon because it actually hurts her feelings and she cries out from her bed "I don't want a diaper, give me my big girl panties" which breaks my heart because I'm so proud of her, but I think she needs just a few more weeks. And the best part of Peanut's potty training? My independent little woman goes all on her own- if you try to help her or follow her to the bathroom she yells "leave me alone, I do it myself" and she does... she goes, wipes and flushes all on her own. Her greatest motivation? The cute panties she gets to wear- the exact same thing that motivated me to potty train early back in the day. I love my little mini me. 

{Jonah Daniel} 36 weeks!

It's been an eventful past week with Jonah...
long story short, last Tuesday my back decided it was over carrying the weight of this pregnancy, paralyzing my body in pain and resulting in an ambulence ride from my office to the hospital, the day in the hospital and then a few days of bed rest at home. Thankfully, although I'm still living on a heating pad, I'm at least back to my normal routine and am able to walk somewhat normally. In other news, I had my weekly DR's appointment on Monday and learned that I'm already 2cm dilated and because of my back issues I will be induced on February 7th (a week early) if Jonah hasn't arrived by then. Which also means that my last day working is next Thursday... oh, sweet, sweet maternity leave, I can't wait to see you. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Assistant for hire.

Temperatures outside today are colder than they have been in decades- the wind chill is nearing negative 30. It's crazy cold. And so I decided that being almost 9 months pregnant I'd rather play it safe (and warm) and work from home. I also didn't want Amy to have to worry about getting here so I am attempting to work with 2 monsters running around. Below is my assistant. She is really cute. But, she is also very sassy and so far I'm not sure I would give her a glowing recommendation- she has my same fascination with office supplies so tends to get in the way more than she helps. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

mad little scientists

This morning we had our first "lab science" activity. I let the babies unleash their inner scientists by performing experiments with a variety of ingredients from around the house- baking soda, vinegar, flour, salt, sugar, snow, food coloring, lotion, etc. We set up our labs and I encouraged them to experiment with combining different ingredients to see what would happen- they loved it and observed that some things bubbled, some thickened, some thinned out, some melted (snow) and some changed colors. We learned that science is all about doing experiments to learn what happens when we try out new things- science is exploration and discovery. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Supplemental Homeschooling- The Plan

This past week we kicked off another one of my 2014 goals- to start a supplemental homeschooling program for Jackson and Audrey (and eventually Jonah). If you don't know what "supplemental homeschooling" is, that is because I made it up, but it means to supplement the education that is already taking place (in preschool)  with additional structured learning at home.

I am documenting this and will continue to post our monthly plans a week or so in advance of each new month mainly because this gives me a goal for getting the planning done in advance and by putting everything online, I can then come back and reference learning goals to reapply for my younger kids when the time is right, but if anyone is reading and wants to join in please do let me know and we can share ideas!

First, why are we doing this: the idea came to me because of a few reasons:

1. The fact is, brain development before the age of 5 is critical. 95% of kids' brains develop before this age and yet as a country we spend 95% of our dollars and energy on educating them after this age. If you know a child under 5 you know what sponges they are, they crave knowledge, they crave learning and their endless curiosity is an inspiration- I want to leverage that and feed that as much as possible. I am fortunate to be married to a man who never let that curiosity dim and it's my goal to keep that alive in my kids too. I really believe that curiosity + perseverance will take you anywhere, anywhere.
2. Jackson began preschool last fall and we're so blessed that he is in an environment that we feel really good about. For him, this school year is about stretching out of his comfort zone socially. It's about learning to learn from different people, interacting with new kids and simply being taken care of outside of a familiar place. He has only been taken care of inside of our house or at his nanna's house which has been perfect for us, but the time has come for him to stretch outside that. With that being said, while he is stretching socially, the actual material in preschool is not challenging for him, so it's my job to make that happen at home.
3. I want their minds to expand and learn on things beyond the basic reading, writing, counting and shapes... I want them to have access to a wide range of subjects that excite them and help them realize how amazing this world is, giving them an insatiable appetite for learning and exploring.
4. Lastly, simply put, I enjoy it. I love teaching them (so does Dan), but working full-time + raising an (almost) 4 year old, 2 year old and (soon-to-be) newborn means that if I don't plan things out with intention, they easily slip. In other words, if I don't prioritize what I want to teach them and when, then it may not happen or at least not consistently.

With all of that being said, I also realize that what I'm taking on may be too much some days (or some weeks). This is especially true as we're in the middle of (yet another) major home project and I'm about to give birth to baby #3, but I have made myself promise to give myself grace on those days when we simply have to let the schedule go and tend to other things. I will never push this on them when they're not open to it, my goal is for them to not realize they're learning, but to learn while having fun. 

The Overall Plan:
-Each month will revolve around a specific enrichment theme (a subject of learning that goes beyond the basics). We will do hands-on learning weekly and will go on at least one "adventure" or field trip to reinforce what we're learning about.
-To cover off on the basics as well, each month I will set specific learning goals for Jackson and for Audrey in the areas of writing, reading and math.
-Lastly, each month will include a bible verse to memorize. We had been doing weekly bible verses mainly for Jackson, but I realized he was also learning these in his Sunday church class and in preschool so I think a monthly rotation is more realistic and more on Audrey's level as well.
-We will use the following schedule each month: Sunday (writing), Monday (Reading), Tuesday (writing), Wednesday (Math), Thursday (Reading), Friday (break), Saturday (enrichment) and adventure days to be scheduled each month.

January's Goals:
-Enrichment Theme: Lab Science (adventure day will be to the COSI Science Center in Columbus and all the activities will be experiments to experience the fun in science)
-Reading Goals: Jackson: to be able to read his first Bob book on his own, Audrey: to recognize the letters A, B, C and D
-Writing Goals: Jackson: to write his name (he can already do this, but we're working on writing the letters in the correct proportion/order and on a straight line), Audrey: to write the letter A
-Math Goals: Jackson: adding above the number 10 (for example: 8+ 3), Audrey: counting to 20 (she does this sometimes, but inconsistently so our goal is consistency)
-Bible Verse: Proverbs 3:5
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