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The story of our precious little girl's 17 months of life with Trisomy 18 (July 4, 2010 - December 15, 2011) and of us, re-learning to live "after Lilly."
"I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ...." Psalm 139:14

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tabby's decorating with duct tape

When I was growing up, the only duct tape that was around was the boring dark grey colored kind.  Now there is an incredible variety of colors and patterns to choose from.  I probably like most of them, however there are some I think are ridiculous or just plain unappealing - like the pattern of cooked macaroni and cheese!

I know that decorating, embellishing, making things with duct tape is not new.  But Tabby has been on a kick using it lately and I really like the thing she's done with it.  I tend to reach for a can of spray paint, but I'm learning that duct tape can give interesting and colorful results too.

Tabby was given this old desk years ago, and decided to freshen it up with several different duct tapes.  Notice the metal part of her clipboard is covered in duct tape too.

We found the below cabinet being thrown out at an office building.  Tabby covered the dingy top and it works perfectly for music and storage.

This is Tabby's art table.  She has a storage bin underneath so she likes the material hanging around it to cover it up.  She used duct tape for the trim to hold the material on the table.

It is actually quite an old military table.  My dad used it for reloading bullets when I was little and if I remember correctly, it was used for a kitchen table before that.  I used it for a desk in college.  Then I used it for all sorts of things until Tabby took it over several years ago.

Probably my favorite duct taped thing in Tabby's room is her mirror and bulletin boards.  She used the tape to cover the boring colored frames.

there's duct tape around the a/c window unit too!
A couple years ago, Tabby checked out duct tape project books so many times from the library, that I eventually just bought her used copies for her own. (Just Duct Tape It! and Go Crazy with Duct Tape)

She followed instructions in one of the books for a pencil pouch - made with a ziplock baggie and duct tape - which she uses every day at school.  (I don't have a picture of that one!)  She took an empty can the other day, and plans to cover it with duct tape to use for pens/pencils.  I wonder which tape she will choose?

Tabby and I like to joke about how we have such a compulsion to embellish any thing.  I do believe that is a special trait that God gave to females.  (And yes I know some females don't care about it and some males do!  Just a generalized statement!)  My aunt Pam once told me:

"Embellish to your heart's content.  Remember, the JOY is in the creating!"

Yes.  :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Solomon's latest Montessori activies

We're now 7 weeks into our school term.  After morning school time, Hunter keeps busy making things.  What would we do without cardboard boxes?!  He recently got an old modem and was inspired to build an all-in-one computer:

For reading, I have a set (reprint) of McGuffey's Eclectic Readers.  These readers were originally published in the 1830s.  Though Hunter isn't totally fond of them, he prefers the stories in these because they are realistic, and not dumbed down like many of the modern readers.  I like the moral lessons and the rich vocabulary.  Hunter is a pretty advanced reader, but I still have him read to me because occasionally, he comes across words he can't pronounce correctly.  Twice a week we read McGuffey's lessons.  Then once a week, Hunter gets to pick what he wants to read to me.  It is usually one of his technical manuals.  Today was one on electricity and last week was a plumbing book.  By letting him choose books, this keeps his enthusiasm for reading out loud up.  And I usually end up learning about things I would never read about on my own.  ;)

I have a cart that I keep Solomon's current Montessori-type activities on. 

We push it into our living room each morning, so he can work in the same room where I am teaching Hunter.  I put activities on the cart that he can do on his own (after I show him how) and that are things he can do quietly so that he's not a distraction.  (That's the goal anyway - it doesn't always work!)

Here are some things he's worked on this month:

He's really into rainbows and the Noah's ark story.  So I printed out a rainbow and he matched little plastic bears onto the correct color.  (He added the "Lilly-colored bears" for decoration.)

We're working on numbers now.  Solomon can count to 10 and do several number chants (thanks to listening in on Hunter's lessons).  So I decided he was ready to start learning what the numbers looked like.  He talks a lot about Thomas the train being number 1.  So that gave me the idea of making Thomas the train cards and having him match the correct number to each card.  Many of the trains in Thomas have a number.  So I had Hunter tell me the trains that had numbers 1-10.  I then went to Google Images, copied train pictures, made number cards, then printed everything out.

After he was done, Solomon got out his Thomas the train engines and matched them too.

After a couple days, I gave Solomon some magnetic numbers I had, and he matched those.

I came across some "highway numbers" online and printed them onto cardstock. (See here.)  Solomon drives his cars through the numbers.  I give him a new number every few days, and we keep reviewing what he has.

We're having fun with Nursery Rhymes too.  I put our wooden nursery rhyme blocks on a tray along with Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever book.  Solomon likes to look at the book and match the blocks to the correct pages.  And of course build with them too.

When Tabby was about Hunter's age, she really enjoyed the book and CD set Can You Hear It?  I recently began introducing songs from this to Hunter and Solomon.  We listen to a new one each week.  The CD has a number of great works of music on it and the accompanying book has a picture for each and things to listen for.  We like to act the songs out when we listen.

For picture study, we are studying Leonardo da Vinci.  I am using Simply Charlotte Mason's picture portfolio for da Vinci.  I made Solomon his own set of cards of the da Vinci prints we are studying.  I printed 2 sets so he could match them.  I also gave him a book on da Vinci that we have. 

Whew!  Gotta wiggle around after all that!
Solomon is also learning to spell "Solomon" - or at least recognize the letters.  I got this neat idea off Pinterest.  I printed a picture of Solomon and two sets of the letters in his name.  I used velcro dots to attached them to a file folder.

One more activity, that had to be done in the kitchen, that Solomon really liked was when I filled a bowl with some water, put in some little plastic bears, and handed him some little sugar tongs.  He had to "catch" the bear and lift it out with the tongs, and then drop it into an ice tray.  This proved to be tricky!  He worked at it for awhile then when he was tired, he finished up by using a spoon to scoop out the bears.  This was a nice long project for him that allowed me to get several kitchen chores done while he was working.  ;)

Solomon enjoys taking structured activities, such as the above, then adding his own twists to them.  This is important.  Good for his brain!  He also really enjoys helping me do various chores and helping care for the animals.  He and Hunter play outside some of each afternoon too.  Also important - on many levels!

Play is important for kids.  (Though too much play can lead to trouble.  Parents of multiple kids probably know what I mean!)  Here is an article I read recently, that I found interesting:  "The Decline of Play in Preschoolers - and the Rise of Sensory Issues." 

Well this post is long enough.  I hope I've been able to give you some ideas to do things with your little ones, if you're in a similar place in life as I am.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Eye of Tabby - photography for the week of September 13

Here are Tabby's photos for the week.  I am amazed at how she even makes a weed look interesting!  Seeing our every day surroundings through her eyes - via her camera - help me to see things in a different way.  It makes me even more amazed with God's creation.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Another school year

First off - happy birthday to my rainbow baby!  Solomon is now 3 years old.  Here he is wearing his annual birthday shirt and a mischievous grin:

(I bought pack of XL men's T-shirts years ago.  I have one for each of my kids.  I take a picture of them wearing their T-shirt each year on their b'day, and then print the picture and put it into a little photo album.  I have a b'day album for each of them.  It's fun to see how much they grow each year by how much smaller the T-shirt gets.)

Our new school year is full of changes this year.  In the past, I was adamant that we would NOT begin before the day after Labor Day.  Because that is what the law was where I grew up, in Northern Virginia, and that was what I was used to.  But this year we started the second week of August.

Why?  Because the boys and I are following Tabby's new school schedule.

What's up with Tabby's new schedule?

Well ... this year, for the first time, she is attending the small private Christian school that my husband works at.  She is going part-time and in the 9th grade.  Why?  Because she had several big issues come up in the last year, that I simply could not meet for her at home.  I admit, I rather selfishly felt rather sad and disappointed that homeschooling wasn't going to work this year for Tabby.  But so far - 6 weeks into this - I am relieved and pleased that things are going quite well and those needs are now being met.

Tabby is going to the school part-time and is in the 9th grade.  She has 4 classes and an elective each day.  We are still working on math at home, and she is continuing her weekly piano lessons.  After school, she is running on the cross country team.  Running with the team is proving to be an enormous blessing for her.  And at her last meet, she can in 7th place for girls in the 5K!

Tabby is 5'1" but has a long stride and tons of energy which makes her fast
Official school pictures was something new for my kids this year.  In the past, on our first official day of homeschool, we went outside and I took a few pictures of everyone.  This year Tabby had "picture day" and wore her dress uniform.  Here's my girl:

Since Tabby had a real picture day, I felt obliged to step it up for my boys with their annual school picture.  I came up with a "Pinterest-worthy" set up which I was rather proud of.  However, I had not thought of how it would turn out with boys.  Ha!

Even though the day was overcast, I found that Hunter's eyes seemed to be almost as sensitive as Lilly's were.  He needs sunglasses like she did!  It was hard to get him to open his eyes normally.  So here are a couple of my squinty-eyed missing-some-teeth engineer-in-the-making:

Here is Solomon with the expression that most people see him with:

However, when I asked him to smile, he got goofy:

Funny boy.

Hunter is in 2nd grade this year and I am following much of the Ambleside Online curriculum schedule.  We did this last year and it went great!  I feel like we're getting in so much good reading in books that are not dumbed down.  (This a Charlotte Mason type curriculum.)  I supplement with a couple other things too.

I'm continuing to use Montessori type activities with Solomon.  I will be back in a few days to share some of those.

"Understanding is a wellspring of life to him who has it." - Proverbs 16:22a