scenes from summer

7/18/14


A few scenes from our days lately... we've been enjoying the sunny weather with evenings on the beach and fresh berries and vegan doughnuts (my fave!). The kids are sporting summer tans and sandy feet and I have to say they are pretty happy living outdoors. 

Being on bed rest during the summer has definitely been rough on me this year, even though I'm in my last few weeks and the end is in sight (thank goodness!) it's so hard missing out on so much with the other kids sometimes. My mama heart breaks a little when they are so excited to do things with me and I have to sit out. They may be growing up, but they're still my babies! Henry's first overnights on the sailboat, or Naomi learning how to swim underwater, or seeing Akemi's delight at the new art exhibit... I just love going through life with them and I want to be there! I just keep telling myself this is a season in our lives. The past 8 months have been hard, but years from now, I know it will seem so momentary. So we do what we can to get through. The little things make such a difference... like friends dropping off dinner, or Kenji taking us all to the beach so I can sit on the sand and watch the kids running in and out of the surf and not feel completely left out... little reminders that life is pretty wonderful even though the days are sometimes a struggle right now. I know we will get through this. And I know it will be worth it in the end!


homeschooling with toddlers

7/9/14




We always seem to have this combination of toddler plus preschooler plus older kids in our house and sometimes keeping everyone occupied can be quite the task! Living in a small space at the moment certainly presents extra challenges, especially since the older kids are officially homeschooled and need a little peace and quiet while getting their book work done. How we homeschool with babies in the house is probably the main question I get asked so I thought I'd share a few tips! 

First off, it's not as hard as it sounds. One of the nice things about homeschooling is being able to set up our day around our own schedule... if there are times when the little ones are napping, that's a great part of the day to get in some lessons with the big kids. If there's a time where everyone is kind of rowdy, we plan to be outside then. Of course, there are always days that throw us off and if someone is sick or the baby is fussy we might postpone lessons and the big kids will work on their own or grab some nature books and go read in the yard. Or we'll all hop into bed and watch a nature documentary together. We can be flexible! This also teaches the kids some great life skills... things like patience and nurturing. They learn the world doesn't revolve around them. because it doesn't!

All of our babies have also been pretty happy playing on their own, which means it's not unusual for us to be working at the table while the little ones roll around and play on the floor. I'm a big proponent of independent play in childhood and make sure our kids get a lot of it. Just free, unstructured time to play however they want. We sort of begin this at birth, by not having a lot of baby "gadgets" like activity gyms or light up mobiles or musical bouncers... basically if it takes batteries, I think long and hard about it. By not being constantly stimulated, they learn to engage in their surroundings more and be imaginative in their play. Watching the leaves blow in the wind, or listening to the other kids laughing, or shaking a toy around and hearing it rattle. It's all so interesting at that young age!

It also helps that homeschooling is sort of a frame of mind here, so we always have "homeschool" activities for the little ones to do as well and they feel included. If we're at the table, we can set them up with play dough or coloring. Or they can sit on the floor and play with cards or puzzles. And when we go on outings, the little ones almost always come along. There are some field trips that are geared more for the big kids and that's a little more challenging, but I just make a point of scheduling those when I can leave the baby at home (she's a little young to be holding a 6 foot albino python after all) or send the kids along with their friends. 

Really, my biggest trick is, when I'm about to sit down with the older kids and get into some bookwork, I pull out a few activities for the little ones and set them in our living area. We joke and call it "setting up the baby zone"! Even the kids are good at it by now, going to the cabinet and pulling out a couple puzzles, a few books or set of cards and putting them in a circle on the rug... its like a little baby trap and before we know it, they've been lured in and are happily playing. After going through this toddler stage with 4 kids, I thought I'd also share some of my favorite activities and toys to keep the little ones occupied while we homeschool...



1. STACKING CUPS - we love these ones! and we can even play with them in the bath or with play dough too. 

2. DVDs - I am not above putting on a movie for our little ones to get a little uninterrupted time! But I am selective about what they watch... two of our favorites are Baby Einstein First Signs and the Little Pim language series. If they're going to watch television they might as well know sign language and French afterwards, right?

3. ALPHABET PUZZLE - this is my favorite! Violet will do this puzzle over and over and over. 

4. PLAYDOUGH - possibly the best past time for kids. ever. Eventually I got tired of all the colors being smushed into ugly brown so now I just buy bulk buckets of it and we play with ONE color at a time. We use this brand. Playdough plus a few wooden rolling pins, little measuring cups, and birthday candles and the girls are occupied for hours making playdough cakes.

5. MONTESSORI COLOR PEGS - all of our kids have loved these! They're great for hand eye coordination and they learn to identify a range of colors at an early age. The pegs are small so I always make sure the little ones play with them when I'm nearby.

6. LOTTO CARD GAME - these older style lotto card games are hard to find, but we love them! We've had two sets both made by Ravensburger. I love that they feature real pictures which is great for toddlers learning to identify objects, food, and animals in the world around them.

7. MEMORY GAME - classic wooden matching game but with abstract animal pictures!

8. GEM CRAYONS - gem shaped crayons for the little ones, I even catch the big kids using them because they're so fun! available at Target stores.

9. PAPER - a must have! I love rolling out a huge sheet of paper on the table and letting the kids loose with crayons and stickers. 

10. FLASHCARDS - a great past time for the little ones to flip through! I love these ones because we don't end up losing any :)

11. WOODEN MONTESSORI BLOCKS - we love all wooden blocks and this pink stacking tower... my kids could spend hours stacking and building!



linking up with hip homeschool moms this week!

june

7/1/14





I feel like I've been saying this a lot this year, but I can't believe another month has already come and gone! I've been decidedly absent from so many things these days (including, but not limited to: blogging) and just kind of struggling to stay afloat amidst this pregnancy. But June! June had so many wonderful things and it kind of flew by so here is somewhat of a recap post...

We celebrated our two June birthday girls with cupcakes and hum bows and a piƱata in the park (our kids are now officially ages 2, 4, 6, and 8, how did that happen?!). They have grown up so much this year and I'm loving these ages. Naomi and I have a great deal of fun together, whether it's shopping or crafting or staying up late and watching Les Mis, I really do love having an older daughter. 






 △ sundays are for waffles with fresh blackberry syrup and sweet sleeping babes!

Akemi and I were on our way home one night and she pointed to the sky and said "look mama! the sky is cotton candy!" her little face just beaming. Then she spotted the moon peeking out and said "the moon is following us, it wants to be friends with me!" melt my heart. She is so in awe of everything these days and it's such a great reminder of how precious this life is. It's easy enough to get carried away in the stress of day to day things and forget to look around and breathe it all in, but with her around, everything is exciting and beautiful and amazing. No matter what we are doing, she comes up to us a million times a day and says "guess what my surprise is??" and proceeds to show us something completely ordinary she found around the house (like her stuffed pig or a pair of Violet's socks...). She is such a sweetheart.

△  8 month baby bump... can't wait to meet this little girl!



The kids have been tending to our little container garden, although it's kind of sad compared to our abundance of last year... I haven't been able to do as much with them and was totally late getting things planted. We had ONE zucchini so far and I was watching it grow bigger and so looking forward to making some zucchini bread and then some critter took it in the night! Is it ok to cry about things like this when you're 8 months pregnant? Because I was pretty heartbroken! And suddenly jealous of everyone with overflowing zucchini plants like "why can't that be me?" It's such a silly thing, I know. So we are back to waiting. Hopefully we will have somewhat of a harvest by the end of the summer, but I also recognize that this season in our lives is just different and we might not be doing as much this summer. Baby this year, garden the next :)

And speaking of babies, the way Henry just adores little Violet is pretty much the cutest thing on earth. He "gets" babies in a way other kids don't and is so gentle and sweet and loving. In fact he says he wishes he was still a baby because being a baby is awesome and you don't have to do chores and people worship you. (I guess we must love babies in this house?) These two play together every morning and she calls him in by yelling "oh henry!" and giggles when he runs to her. He is teaching her all sorts of animal names and her vocab for a 2 year old is PRETTY AMAZING. Although I do love how she calls her blanket YANKET. Let's just keep doing that for a while because it is sooooo cute when we tuck her in and she says "yanket pease!"



△  our days have been full of fresh fruit and rainy afternoon crafts and little lollipop eating girls!

father's day fish and chips and veggie burgers with our man     ... and also, pregnancy cravings! △ 

△  Violet had a little virus for a week, but we made sure to get lots of cuddle time in.

△ oh summer... how I love your hydrangeas and fresh watermelons and breezy sunny evenings


△ also, this baby! she's the cutest and she totally cracks us up. though we really are trying not to call her a baby anymore since will soon be a big sister! ah she's growing up too fast!