Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Our Little Artist

Leah's favorites: Paul, Cindy, Tiffany, & Benji
Leah has always enjoyed coloring, drawing, painting, and nearly anything crafty. It's recently become clear that not only does she have a passionate interest in drawing, but she's really good at it. Her attention to detail astounds me. She will sit and draw movie, TV, or book characters completely from memory. She rarely ever refers to another picture or DVD cover; she knows the color of everyone's clothing or some random little detail that I never would've remembered had I tried to describe or draw the same characters. It's awesome to watch her create.

Our refrigerator has become a revolving door of Leah's artwork. Every so often, she changes out the pictures, putting up new ones that she especially likes or maybe ones that Dan or I have highly praised. Our dining room table has been covered in drawing paper and crayons. She's gone through most of the drawing paper that our homeschool curriculum sends us for the entire year! 

Care Bears
Last week, in an effort to uncover our table again, Leah & I made books of her pictures. Since there were so many, I ended up sorting them into categories: Benji (her current favorite movie/obsession), Clifford, Olivia, pictures she'd drawn specifically for Dan or myself, and pictures that I thought were her best work. There were still a ton left, so I placed the remaining drawings in an extra binder along with her homemade books. It's amazing how many she has amassed in just a couple months.

Another aspect that fascinates me is the fact that I engaged in the same behavior at her age. I would draw and draw and draw all of my favorite characters too: Annie, The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins. I drew specific scenes from those movies and when I saw Leah drawing scenes right out of "Benji", I nearly fell over. The similarity is mind-blowing.
End scene of "Benji"
I never told her I did that. It amazes me what is built into her genes, to see pieces of myself in her budding personality. For years, everyone in my family joked about how I would write, "Amanda, I am 5" on all my pictures. Leah hasn't done exactly that, though she does write her name and/or the name of whomever she intends to give the picture. If she starts writing "I am 5" or some variation, I don't think you'll be able to wipe my jaw off the floor! ;)

Some more examples of Leah's recent work:

The Wizard of Oz

Olivia & family

Rapunzel, Flynn Ryder, & Pascal

Minnie Mouse and her kitty Figaro

Pluto, Donald, & Daisy

The Tinkerbell fairies

Peter Pan, Tink, the kids, & the dog Nana

Superman & Supergirl

Leah laying with Hud & Dodge :)

Sunday, June 2, 2013


From earlier in May:
Leah: What's that?
Me: Sauerkraut. It tastes really good on hot dogs.
Leah: Ooh, I want some.
Me: Really?
Leah: Yeah. I'm 5 years old now, I have to try a lot of things.

(Yup, she did like it!)

Upon seeing a dead, headless lizard by the car:
Me: Maybe an animal ate his head?
Leah: I'm going to find that animal and eat HIS head!

And excuse this one but Dan & I found it hilarious:
Leah: My belly hurts.
Me: Maybe you need to poop.
Leah: I don't poop in the morning! I poop at dinner time.

Haha! So matter of fact... and she is correct!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Kids say funny things. And sweet things. I might remember something that Leah has said long enough to tell Dan over dinner, or to post it on Facebook if I'm near the computer... but often, I forget. I'll remember that there was something notable I wanted to share, but then my mind draws a complete blank later. Darn.

However, a friend of mine has inspired me. She created a blog simply to document the funny things her kids say. They're one or two line posts and they're hilarious. On top of that, she gave me a great tip: many blog programs have iPhone apps to make it quick & easy to post. I did a quick search and sure enough, Blogger has one! (By the way, I have a new iPhone, thanks to a free upgrade and my mom's family plan - it is awesome.) So, while I'll still compose longer posts on various happenings here, you may also see more quick, short posts with just a silly quote from Leah or maybe a photo of something she's drawn, etc. The goal is get more of the everyday moments documented, as those will be invaluable to look back on in the future. :)

Two of those items before I forget:
  • Earlier this month, when we had Leah's birthday party, we explained that she could put her blankie or any toys she did not want to share with friends in our bedroom. During the party, some of the kids were continually squeezing Dodge's favorite squeak toy (which of course got him all excited!). I noticed at some point that Leah picked up that squeak toy and put it in our bedroom, so Dodge didn't have to share his favorite thing either. ;)
  • Today is Leah's first dentist visit. When I reminded her last night, she complained that she didn't want to go. She's been with me before to observe and to see my teeth cleaned, and I explained that she'll get to watch me again before it's her turn. She said, "When it's my turn, I'm going to walk away!" Haha!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Leah is 5 years old! A whole hand. Like I mentioned last week, this age feels like a big milestone. She's officially leaving the baby/toddler years behind and becoming a big kid. In just a few months, she'll begin her Kindergarten curriculum. She'll start her first full year of dance, culminating in a recital next May. She just had her first birthday party with friends. This is such an exciting time in her life, one that fills us with pride and anticipation.

I read an article a couple months ago, which was part of a series entitled, "This is Childhood". In the five-year-old piece, the author writes, "After the slow, rickety, listen-to-every-click-of-the-wheels climb to the top of the rollercoaster that is the first four years of parenting, five lets you pause for just a moment at the apex. In the brief stillness, you suck your breath in as you look back on the journey that brought you there, anticipating the free fall and the loop-de-loops beneath you that will carry you toward adolescence and teenagerland and the great beyond. Five is both an end and a beginning."  This perfectly captures how I feel about 5. There were times, especially during the first year or two, where time seemed to crawl, where we eagerly waited for Leah to learn to talk, to walk, to sleep through the night, and so on and so on.
With each milestone, with each month and year in her development, we found something to love, to appreciate, to hold onto. Now, we look back and we look at the little girl she's become and it's pretty awesome. There were challenges, struggles, and tantrums to overcome. There are different challenges and struggles (and maybe tantrums?) that await us in the future. Still, this feels like a sweet spot of childhood. I don't feel sadness that we've closed the chapter on the first five years, that Leah is growing and changing. I am thrilled for her, for the experiences that await her, for the skills she'll soon learn, and to be able to observe it all.

At 5 years old, Leah is smart, curious, and creative. She loves to draw, to color, to paint, to use scissors and glue and puffballs and any type of craft supply you put in front of her. Leah adores animals. She seeks out every dog and cat she comes across, wanting to befriend them all. She enjoys watching the birds that come to our feeder and wants to learn and talk about wild animals. Leah appreciates nature and being outdoors. She plays on swings and slides, likes taking walks, collects varieties of flowers and leaves, and practices archery with her dad.
Leah is a dancer. She looks forward to her ballet classes and loves choosing a different tutu each week. She comes home and demonstrates the positions she's learned. She is attentive in class, looks up to older dancers and is a role model for younger ones.  Leah is finishing up Pre-Kindergarten. She knows her letters and numbers 1-10, she is learning letter sounds, and she is aware and curious about what things say: street signs, word bubbles, posters. She enjoys matching, figuring out which item doesn't belong to a group, and navigating mazes. She appears to be a visual, tactile learner.

Leah is silly, thoughtful, and energetic. Leah knows what she likes and what she wants. Leah can be shy and cautious at times, or independent and friendly at others. Leah has an active imagination, which she exercises daily. Leah is the best little girl I know. Certainly, I am biased, yes. Still, I look at her, 5 years old, and I cannot help but beam with pride. She impresses me and teaches me regularly. Her future is bright. To the moon and back, my lovebug. xoxo

Monday, April 8, 2013

5th Birthday Party

On Saturday, Leah had her very first birthday party with friends. She was soooo excited all week long; on Saturday morning, she kept asking, "Are my friends driving yet? What time is it?"

Months ago, she chose a Mickey & Minnie Mouse party theme for her 5th birthday. I found and ordered the custom-made dress Leah is wearing in the photo, which we gave her on Saturday morning. Last summer, Leah had a red and white polka-dotted dress that she referred to as her "Minnie dress". Suspecting that it probably wouldn't fit this year, and knowing how much she loved it, I couldn't resist ordering a new Minnie-inspired dress not only for the party, but for the rest of the season. A friend of mine makes hair bows, so I also ordered some Minnie sequin clips to match!

Leah & I had a lot of fun with the Mickey & Minnie theme. We were thrilled to find red & white polka-dotted streamers at Hobby Lobby and we spent probably a good hour or more in Party City gathering items for goody bags, a pinata, Mickey Mouse party hats, and other coordinating party supplies. We also displayed her plush Mickey & Minnie as well as a matching cookie jar I've had for years.

A total of 10 children, including Leah, attended the party. We invited a couple homeschooling families that we've become friends with over the past year as well as a couple girls she met through dance class. Everyone seemed to play really well together and enjoyed a good time! Even Dodge made us proud and behaved very well around all the kids. He especially loved the one-year-old brother of one of Leah's friends, whom he "kissed" many times. ;)

During the party, each child colored a bow for Minnie, which we later used in a blindfolded "Stick the Bow on Minnie" game. Shortly thereafter, we handed out cupcakes - Minnie was the hands-down favorite among the mostly female crowd!
Then, we rounded up the kids to take a whack at the unicorn pinata. Yes, despite the Micky & Minnie theme, Leah was adamant about a unicorn pinata. Haha. We lined the kids up by height, allowing the youngest to go first, figuring the older ones would be able to take down the pinata. The unicorn was successfully beheaded by Averlin, age 6! The unicorn itself didn't break open so I ripped it and showered the candy on the ground for the kids to collect. Great fun!

All in all, the party was a success! We are grateful that we've met some awesome families with such sweet kids over the past year. Leah truly loved that everyone came to celebrate with her.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Big Girl Bedroom Makeover

Finally managed to take some photos of Leah's updated bedroom yesterday! When it was initially complete last month, I held off on taking pictures figuring I would take some once we hung things on the walls. Haha. Though we have ideas of what we'd like to put on the walls, our room budget has been spent... so, we'll get around to it eventually!  For now, we still have the letters to her name (that Dan repainted to match and will probably re-hang this weekend) and the bow holder I made. Leah adores her new room, whether it has wall decor or not, so there is no rush.

Truly, Dan deserves all the credit for this room. Not only did he complete all the painting as well as install the chair rail & crown molding, he came up with the inspiration for the color scheme: Sleeping Beauty's dress.
Leah told us she wanted pink, so Dan suggested the two tones separated by a chair rail, which is painted silver (with added silver paint crystals that sparkle!). We gathered a TON of pink paint samples from Home Depot and the three of us sat in Leah's bedroom to narrow down which ones looked best. The darker tone is called "Ballerina Pink", which seems so appropriate for our little dancer! Dan also suggested bamboo flooring, which we all ended up loving (so smooth!), and he found the furniture on Raymour & Flanigan's website. I found the bedding from Macy's and the curtains (which have white polka dots) & hardware from Pottery Barn Kids. Leah is completely in love with her room and her new full-size bed. She plays or lounges in there far more often than before.

I think one of the things Leah enjoys the most is having the larger bed to share with her favorite stuffed dogs and cats. There is a certain group of them that are almost always there. Even if she plays with them elsewhere during the day, she always returns them to the bed at night. I love how much she loves and feels comforted by her animals. :)

Another nice feature is the addition of the nightstand. It's a great spot to place her cup of water that she likes to have at night, as well as the remote control to her new ceiling fan/light.  The bottom shelf fits a ton of her favorite books, more than I thought it would, which is great for bedtime too. Leah says she'd like a clock, which we hope to eventually add along with a bedside lamp. She also claims to want her own telephone so she can call her grandparents whenever she wants. HA!

Next week, Leah turns 5 and she's finally got her big girl room to match what feels like an important milestone. No longer a baby or toddler by any means, but truly in the midst of childhood and blossoming into an awesome little girl. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Homeschool Update

We're roughly 75% through our Pre-K lessons, so I thought I'd update a little about our first school year. Leah often grumbles when I say it's time to do school, yet once we're in the middle of things she seems to really enjoy herself. When I tell her we're done for the day, she then grumbles that we're finished and asks for more. I'll take that as a good sign!

I've learned that she's very much a visual and hands-on type of learner. Auditory, not so much. She has to be able to see a picture of whatever we're talking about, or do a crafty project, or manipulate an object in some way. This is especially noticeable when I read a story or poem aloud. If there aren't any illustrations to go along, she zones out and can rarely tell me what the story was about. When there are pictures to match, she comprehends much better. Or, sometimes I wonder if she simply needs a few days to let something sink in. Awhile back, we talked about rhyming words. At the time, I thought she wasn't paying attention but a few days later, something triggered in her mind and she said, "Dog and frog, they rhyme! And cat and fat, they rhyme!" Just the other night, we were reading "Green Eggs and Ham" and she was pointing out the rhyming words without any prompting. Amazing.

Leah loves, loves, loves to draw, color, paint, and complete any sort of art project. So, I've incorporated crafts into the curriculum where there may not have been any assigned. For instance, the curriculum instructed her to work on a mural of wild animals each day for a week, as we discussed various types. She loved that project so much that I chose to do the same for a unit we did on farms. It wasn't part of the curriculum, but it completely enhanced her learning experience that week. I also added in those paper plate farm animals (thank you, Pinterest!) that are pictured above.

Another thing I've noticed over the past month or so is that Leah really enjoys unit studies - meaning she likes to talk about a particular subject for several days in a row. Since the New Year, our curriculum has given us, in addition to wild animals and farms, units on transportation, weather, and community helpers. We made a book for that particular unit, which Leah was SO proud of once it was put together. Each day, we discussed and colored pictures of two helpers, people such as doctors, lifeguards, librarians, repairmen, postal workers, and of course, policemen and firemen.

Leah has an eye for detail, or maybe it's simply an inherited OCD tendency, because she was always asking me what color the uniforms were. I told her or pulled up an image from Google, though I mentioned a couple times, "But this is your book and you can make them whatever color you like." Nope. Not Leah. It had to be realistic. Haha.

Overall, I really like our curriculum. We already ordered their Kindergarten level, since they had a decent sale for current families back in January. It's on the expensive side, though still substantially less than we might have paid had we sent Leah to private school. Mostly, I love that everything is laid out for me. Sure, I can include additional arts & crafts or skip over something that feels redundant, but all in all, I am very comfortable with it. I appreciate how gradual it is too. This year felt very relaxed, casual, and like an introduction to learning. While there are already many more activity and instruction books included in our Kindergarten box, none of it seems overwhelming or rushed. It appears to be a gradual extension of what we did this year. It's exciting!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Yes, we're still here!

It's nearly the end of January (already!), so let's play catch-up! The blog often slips my mind in the day-to-day routine... add in the holidays and it was completely forgotten. Oops!

Leah had another wonderful Christmas. I probably say this every year, but each year does get more fun. She remembers more about the previous holiday season and looks forward to so many of the traditions. She loved decorating the Christmas trees, especially the artificial one with all of her character ornaments. We even got to play my extended family's annual game "I'm Thinking of an Ornament" for the first time this year. :)  Leah looked forward to making and decorating cookies, especially spritz. She did a beautiful job, as always! Leah also experienced a first this holiday season - she chose to meet and sit with Santa.

Additionally, a new tradition began with the Elf on the Shelf this year. Leah was a bit apprehensive at first when she discovered that the elf seemed to enjoy playing with her toys. Still, she grew to love the elf, looking for her everyday, and becoming sad when Dorothy had to leave for the North Pole on Christmas Eve. Leah asks about her from time to time and looks forward to seeing her again next December. Anything that adds to the magic of the season is alright by me!

Santa, of course, visited our house yet chose to change things up a bit this year... rather than leave the gifts by the tree in the living room, they were placed by the tree in the family room. It made sense since the Fraser Fir always has family gifts around it, yet the artificial tree gets ignored. I don't think Santa wanted to risk waking Leah either. ;)

Leah's big gift was a dress-up rack for all her princess and fairy outfits, along with some new ones! Leah changed her dress so many times on Christmas Day, you'd think she was hosting an awards show. Haha! I think, by far, her favorite dress was the Dorothy one that her great-aunt Donna sent. Between that, the stuffed Toto & basket that Santa left, and the red sparkly shoes Grammy had given her awhile back, she looked the part and spent the day on cloud nine.

In other news, homeschooling is going well. We recently finished up two units that Leah really enjoyed: transportation and wild animals. Last week, she worked on a wild animal mural a little bit each day. All week long, she was SO excited to "do school" so that she could spend time on her picture. Leah loves drawing, coloring, painting, gluing - pretty much anything crafty - and she very much loves anything to do with animals. So, the project was like homeschool gold for her. You know she's proud of her work when she willingly poses for a photo with it!

Leah is thriving in her dance class as well. She did a 6 week class in the fall and we're currently in the midst of another 6 week class. These classes have been without parent participation and it's amazing to see how much she's grown up. When we tried this a year ago, she bawled her eyes out and wouldn't separate from neither Dan nor I. Now, she's like a pro. I am so glad we didn't push her, we just waited, did another round of the parent/child class, and let her show us when she was ready. Watching her now through the one-way mirror, Leah impresses me with her maturity, how well she listens and follows directions, and how much she clearly enjoys herself. She's made a couple friends too, and has introduced herself to every other little girl in the class. What a big girl!

Speaking of which, we're working on a "big girl" room in time for Leah's 5th birthday. It's time to say goodbye to Winnie the Pooh and the toddler bed that Leah is very close to outgrowing! Dan began earlier this week by tearing out the closets and patching up the walls. The room is getting a complete makeover from top to bottom - paint, floors, furniture, you name it. Exciting stuff for the new year!