This Crazy Kiddo

 photo IMG_2254_zpskj5owtsy.jpg

Lydia turned six at the end of May. She had been counting down to her birthday for over three months. Several days each week she would update us on what she wanted to do for her birthday, who she wanted to have over, and what presents she wanted to receive. When the birthday weekend finally arrived, we had a lot of birthday and start-of-summer fun. We took her to a toy store to pick out a toy to buy with her birthday money, got ice cream and pizza, and spent much of her actual birthday at the playground. She constantly reminded us to sing and say “Happy Birthday” and begged me to make her a “birthday balloon” (a balloon with a smiley face drawn on it). She got pink roses from Dan and went on her second-ever Daddy-daughter-birthday date.

 photo IMG_2262_zps4fnlv3nm.jpg
 photo IMG_2259_zpsc1gbu1qu.jpg
 photo IMG_2239_zpstpeshnyn.jpg

Lydia has also been asking regularly if it’s warm enough to play in the sprinkler or go to a pool. Since the first day of spring, it’s been hard to keep socks or shoes on her feet, not to mention a coat. She loves playing “house” outside and is so proud that this year she’s big enough to climb into our tree house all by herself.

 photo IMG_2252_zpssj431t9t.jpg

Lydia loves to play pretend, dance, and snuggle. She is always dressing up as a bride or asking to “play princess” with Dan, which is not exactly his favorite game. 😉 She loves any hands-on activities and anything “special”. Bridal showers, weddings, holidays, birthdays, and get-togethers are sure to put her on her best behavior because she’s just so happy. When she learns it’s a significant day, for any reason, she’ll wonder why we aren’t celebrating more. For example, she asked why we weren’t having a fancy breakfast or a special dessert for groundhog’s day.

 photo jumping_zpsytmq9r2t.jpg

Kindergarten was a breeze for Lydia. Thankfully (for me) she picks up on things really fast. Really, the best way to teach Lydia is to not teach her but let her watch others do the task. When she gets it in her head that she wants to try, she usually can succeed. This has worked well with laundry, cleaning up after meals, serving food, and even math lessons. I can get her to learn a lot more by doing a lesson half myself and letting her do the other half, than if I explain a concept to her and ask her to do the assignment alone.

 photo IMG_2217_zpsn4gswuwq.jpg

Gift-giving might be Lydia’s top love language. She loves to make “gifts” for people – homemade construction paper cards, simple cross-stitch pictures, cut out pieces of paper, and bouquets of flowers (dandelions or violets, usually) picked from our yard. She also loves receiving gifts. When she was struggling to do her reading lessons with a cheerful attitude, we discovered small prizes work wonders to get her motivated. And now that our library has started their summer reading program, Lydia has been reading at least a book a day to win her prizes, when it was always a struggle to do a page or two in her reading lesson book.

 photo IMG_2164_zpsw1ygzxbk.jpg
 photo IMG_2157_zpsevjd6n5r.jpg

She’s always been our most verbal child, so it’s no surprise that Lydia is almost always talking. If we had the patience and knowledge to answer all of her questions, she would be a genius. On ANY topic, Lydia can rattle off 5 questions without taking a break. Usually her trains of questions come to an halt whenever Mom or Dad have to ask for a break so we can focus on something or give attention to someone else. Lydia also has a very good memory. She has memorized over 100 Bible verses (with desserts as the most effective incentive). The other day we were listening to our daily news radio program during breakfast and one of their regular promo segments started playing. She recited the 30 second promo pretty well right on top of the program.

 photo IMG_2249_zpshudcdzud.jpg

This year is Lydia’s turn to accompany me to our church Ladies’ Retreat for a Mommy-Daugther date and she’s pretty thrilled. She’s been looking forward to her turn ever since I took Abby last year. Her memory is pretty incredible in that way too. For example, about nine months ago we took Lydia to a dentist appointment. They told her that she would earn a stuffed animal prize if she could stop sucking her thumb for 30 days. She stopped that very day. Last month I took her again and she got her prize. The next day I found her sucking her thumb after eight months without it! Dan and I had to explain that the point was to stop altogether, not just stop for eight months to earn her prize and then start again.

 photo IMG_2209_zps8gw9et8o.jpg

Some of my most precious memories of Lydia lately have been our one-on-one times together. Sometimes Lydia will snuggle up next to me during nap time and play with my hair while she listens to an audio book. Occasionally Lydia helps me cook dinner, peeling carrots or stirring vegetables as they cook (that’s her favorite because she feels so grown up working at the stove). I try to remember to give her snuggles, hugs, and tickles whenever my hands are free because my hands are so often full, I’ll go days without a Lydia hug if I’m not intensional. (Don’t worry about her being deprived though, Dan picks up the slack. Lydia is quite gifted at sneaking into his lap whether he says it’s ok or not!)

 photo IMG_2145_zps4wolkpvo.jpg

Kindergarten – Taylor Style

Several weeks ago, Lydia began her first “real” year of school. We handled preschool pretty casually, mostly teaching her the letters and some very beginner reading. This year we have a much more structured school day, and everybody is loving it.

For those who are curious, I’m primarily using a book called Learning at Home. This is a day-by-day curriculum that includes Bible, Reading, Math, Art, Gym, Story-time, Music, God’s World (science, geography, community), Health/Manners, Character Building, and Field Trips. The lessons are set up in a casual “talk to your child” sort of format, also using a lot of library books as resources. It’s an older book (1988), so last year I “previewed” all of the library books and made my own substitutions where books were out or print, they were unavailable from the library, or I didn’t approve of them for some reason or another. I had also started Lydia with An Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading last year, so I’m subbing that for the reading lessons.

We have spent so much time talking about, researching, and getting Lydia pumped up for Kindergarten, that everyone was really excited on the first day of school.

 photo IMG_1209_zps0ilydzzy.jpg

Because we want our children to learn how to spend time alone reading the Bible and praying each day, Lydia starts her school day by listening to ten minutes or so of her Word and Song Bible (This is our favorite audio story Bible, but it’s sadly out of print, so you have to find it used. The books are cheap on Amazon or Ebay and the sound files are available on iTunes.)

 photo IMG_1210_zpsjrhxwo3l.jpg

Then we plunge right in. I printed off these daily Calendar pages from Confessionsofahomeschooler.com and the girls love filling them out. It’s totally extra and lately we haven’t even been doing them, but the girls love it when we do.

 photo IMG_1211_zpswxgfyush.jpg
 photo IMG_1212_zpsuhd9ajuq.jpg
 photo IMG_1213_zpsldialh53.jpg

I love how hands-on the activities are. Every day Lydia is excited to see what she gets to do.

 photo IMG_1214_zps60xstvj0.jpg
 photo IMG_1256_zpsihhlh8st.jpg
 photo IMG_1257_zps60gwaa72.jpg
 photo IMG_1258_zps9avoupii.jpg
 photo IMG_1262_zps0g4p2izs.jpg

Since math is my favorite subject, I’ve found myself tailoring that subject to fit Lydia’s speed and interests a little better.

 photo IMG_1249_zpso1g0nik4.jpg
 photo IMG_1250_zps8qevwa8u.jpg
 photo IMG_1260_zpsupkcucds.jpg

Once a week I have Lydia draw a picture and narrate for her journal and once a week I have her do a few pages in a handwriting workbook.

 photo IMG_1215_zpslwrwb6vd.jpg

Paul and Abby just kind of tag along with whatever Lydia is doing.

 photo IMG_1251_zpsrgw1lz27.jpg
 photo IMG_1263_zpseogt5jxr.jpg
 photo IMG_1264_zpsnyl7yt0e.jpg
 photo IMG_1265_zpsvzsfrut0.jpg

Our field trips have certainly made for some fun weekends. So far we’ve visited the zoo, a harvest festival, the Ann Arbor children’s hands-on museum, and an apple orchard to pick apples. Most of the pictures are still on my camera, but here’s a fun one of the closest hippo encounter we’ve ever had. 🙂

 photo IMG_1227_zpsbuiycfsd.jpg

Birthday Princess (Lydia’s Fifth Birthday Celebration)

Five years ago on Memorial Day, Lydia Hope was born unexpectedly. Unexpectedly because, after a completely routine and healthy pregnancy, my water broke at only 30 weeks. Several hours later we had a baby. This year, Lydia’s birthday fell on Memorial Day again. It was her fifth birthday. And, for several reasons, this one felt like a big one. Since Dan had the day off and Lydia knew exactly what she wanted to do for her birthday, and since Dan and I knew exactly what Lydia would love for her birthday, we made the day a pretty epic celebration.

Dan greeted Lydia in the morning with a birthday tiara and a bouquet of orange roses, her current favorite flower. Dan has a tradition of getting his girls birthday flowers and he puts a lot of thought into getting them flowers that they will love.

 photo IMG_0823_zpshv4qjajf.jpg

Then Dan and Lydia took off on their own for Lydia’s first Daddy-daughter date. They went to Leo’s, a coney island just down the road from us, and Lydia got to pick whatever she wanted from the menu. Now Lydia had been fighting this plan for weeks because she likes us all to be together and just couldn’t understand why Daddy had to take just her. Afterward she told Dan, “I didn’t think it was going to be fun, but it was.”

 photo IMG_0828_zpsmlksoyqr.jpg
 photo IMG_0831_zpspqugwtq5.jpg

When they got back, we surprised Lydia with a couple of small gifts. Gum, and nail polish. She’s been drooling over both for the past several months with no idea she could ever actually chew gum or wear nail polish. “Maybe when I’m sixteen?”, she would ask. Lydia’s not usually a good “reaction” girl. She takes in surprises slowly and gets excited a day or so later. The gum and nail polish must have been pretty good surprises then, because her reactions were priceless.

 photo IMG_0836_zpsboumgbav.jpg
 photo IMG_0838_zpswcdccta2.jpg
 photo IMG_0839_zpszvaakisy.jpg
 photo IMG_0843_zpsjlg2feui.jpg

After lunch and a quick (failed) attempt at naps, we packed up and headed to the splash pad for some more fun. I didn’t bring my camera with me, so you’ll have to use your imagination on this part. Abby was beside herself with excitement. She loves playing in water. Paul was uncertain and spent much of the time watching the kids play but keeping away from the water himself. Lydia was in and out of the water, torn between relaxing on her towel and running around getting wet.

Then we fulfilled Lydia’s requests for dinner: pizza and ice cream from restaurants. The first pizza place we tried was closed for Memorial Day, but we yelped “best pizza” in the area and found a winner. We got our meal to go and ate outside at our favorite ice cream place, a locally owned Dairy King in Plymouth. Paul was a trooper and didn’t complain once about his steamed broccoli and bananas while the other kids got pizza and ice cream.

 photo IMG_0850_zpsghrv7hcz.jpg
 photo IMG_0849_zpszt52sb90.jpg

There’s a picture of me when I was about Lydia’s age, eating some sort of blue ice cream out of a cone while standing on a beach. I wish I had it to post along with this one. Ice cream all over my face. Like Mother, Like Daughter.

 photo IMG_0854_zpsavcvb9jm.jpg

It was late by the time we got home, but we finally let Lydia open her “official” present from us, a new (bigger) ballet leotard and tights. The girls danced around in their dress up clothes before finally getting ready for bed

 photo IMG_0859_zpsz8mb5lvx.jpg

As Dan was tucking Lydia in, I heard her crying, “Today was the best day in the woooorrrlllddd. I don’t want it to end everrrr.” Good thing we’re Taylors. “It’s not just a birthday, it’s a celebration” is what we like to say, and the celebration continued over the next two days.

Tuesday Lydia got her presents from my mom and Dan’s Gramma. Abby had trouble understanding why they weren’t for her and Paul was disgusted at the amount of clothes Lydia was opening.

 photo IMG_0863_zpschlg4h5j.jpg
 photo IMG_0864_zpsh2boy2bt.jpg
 photo IMG_0866_zpsxnpyjv2e.jpg
 photo IMG_0867_zpswdsnhpol.jpg

And, finally, Wednesday tapered off the celebration with a visit from Dan’s parents, more presents, and sharing the news with Lydia that Grandma got a job in Ann Arbor and is moving down here!

 photo IMG_0871_zpsyrilhg6h.jpg

The birthday was a complete success, way too much fun for me to handle in a day, and a meaningful way for us to show Lydia how very thankful we are that God has given her to us, even it she was unexpectedly early.