Monday, January 27, 2014

Who said girls aren't good at math?

This is what has been cute around here lately...



JACOB so excited when he hears Jack listening to The Allman Brothers on our iPad...only to hear Jack run up the stairs with the iPad saying, "Mom, how do I get the Raffi songs on?"

JACK saying "Mom I don't think you were saying a lie when you said the sucker was strawberry, I just think you were mistaken."

CORA dancing, CORA clapping whenever I pee, CORA saying "No-no-no" with a wagging finger, CORA always reaching her hands out to the rest of us at the table to remind us to hold hands and say the blessing.

CORA's obsession with the #8.  We have a wooden set of numbers and a fabric set of numbers and I noticed she always seemed to be running around with the 8s.  Then the other day, she had the wooden 8 and had pulled the 8 out of our clock puzzle, convincing me it wasn't random.

My proof of her 8-affection and her cuteness:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Letter Walks and other at-home-learning

I love structure; I'm creative; I like kids; I love to read; I love to learn.  This makes me well-suited to teaching.

I never planned to teach as a child or in college.  After college (and my failed attempt at becoming Miss South Carolina - yes that is a true fact), I had a degree in Political Science, minor in French, and no clear path.  I applied to work at the non-profit Teach for America's national headquarters and, on a road trip to New York City, I accepted my first job there.

I learned a lot about the organization and, within the year, applied to become a Teach for America teacher.  I convinced Jacob to join me last minute (he submitted his application about 30 minutes before the deadline) and we were accepted and placed together in the new Hawaii region.
On my last day teaching in Hawaii with my teary-eyed students :(
We spent two years teaching elementary school in Hawaii, one year recruiting for the organization in Washington and Oregon, and I spent another year working for Teach For America New Orleans supporting early elementary school teachers.  In 2010, I joined ReNEW Charter Schools and have worked there ever since, leading or now working part-time on the literacy team.

And now I have a four year old.  And I'm in heaven.  Jack loves to play school.  So I've worked all kinds of lessons into our play.  For Christmas we got an art easel which has given us the perfect spot for our "school."

On Thursdays, I'm home all day with both Jack and Cora, so we create a Landry Home School for the day.  Jack loves the concept of a schedule so that's how we get started. 

 Here are some activities we love:

  • Letter Play - we usually pick a letter of the day, talk about it, pick it out of our letter bag, look for it around our house, write it and talk about its sound.  Cora likes when we sing the ABCs.
  • Letter Walks - we go on a short walk and look for the letter around the neighborhood.  Jack is the searcher and I'm the photographer. (Cora comes along in the stroller).  I use my iCloud to grab the pictures, drop them in Word, and print them out. 
  • Number Games - my aunt gave Jack a set of handmade wooden numbers and we use them to count and label groups.  I make piles of various items (books, dried beans, etc.) and Jack labels them with the correct number.  

We also have made collages like this #1-#10 collage.  (Cora put on all the stickers; Jack oversaw the counting.)

  • Our Values Book - this idea came to me from feeling I needed to be more intentional on teaching values and building character.  I've just started it, but I have a list of values I want to cover (including Kindness, Patience, Gratitude, etc.)  I do a Google image search to find pictures that capture the value.  Jack and I start by looking at and discussing these pictures.  Then we use his books to further understand the value.  For kindness, we looked through his Berenstain Bear books for examples of being kind.  We've not done this yet, but my plan is to bring our big book out at dinner and use it to think about times we saw kindness during the day and to talk about ways we can show kindness the next day.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Will I Remember?

As of yesterday, Cora is 19 months old!  

Having two children, I now know that YOU FORGET so much!  If you asked me what Jack was like at 19 months, I'd have to try to pull up events from that month to give me a reference point...and still I'm not coming up with much.  I certainly have lots of memories, but it makes me sad that I can't pull up more.

I started this blog when Jack was nearing 2 and prior to that, I wrote in a journal every month.  Each month, I pull this journal out to remind myself about Jack at Cora's age.  I AM SO THANKFUL FOR THIS JOURNAL!

Which makes me wonder - will I remember all the things that are CORA at this moment in her life?  Since it's likely these memories will be crowded out by whatever our present is at the time, let me record what I hope I remember.

At 19 months...

- Cora has sort of a precious mute thing going on.  Rather than talk, she lets you talk and then she just nods or shakes her head.  For example, "Cora, say book.  Do you want to read a book?  Say book"  And rather than say book (a word she knows) she just nods emphatically and smiles at you.

- With that same sweet innocent look, if you tell her not to do something, she's likely to keep looking at you sweetly and do that thing again, i.e. dropping her dinner on the floor, piece by piece, when she feels she's had enough.

- When she sits down to dinner in her high chair if her water hasn't arrived yet, she'll immediately say "Where wa-wa" with arms extended and hands upturned and an exaggerated turning of her head

- She hightails it to the door whenever Jacob gets home and gives him a bear hug.  He absolutely loves this and I'd say it makes his day, every day.

At Celebration in the Oaks
- When I pick her up from school, she bursts into a smile, clenches her hands, and squeals "Mama!!"

- She goes ballistic when I won't give her my car keys.  It is hard for me to remember she is a baby when she does this.  I HAVE TO START THE CAR CORA!  I used to be a real softie and would give her my keys while I got her and Jack settled...until the time that I had shut both car doors and she pressed LOCK with her and Jack inside.  She just smiled at me through the window compulsively hitting the lock button. Sadly, Jack was strapped in and couldn't reach her.  He was trying but she was yanking the keys away and making her "Ehh" offended sound.  Luckily she finally hit the unlock button and I got back in.  And then she was pissed again when I took the keys...

- Her sleep, I remember.  2-7 months: perfect sleeper!  Would wake once around 4 or 5.  Then months of rough patches and lots of night nursing.  Then back to the sustainable rhythm of waking to nurse between 5 and 6 and then going back to sleep.  And then at 18 months, a few beautiful weeks of sleeping from 7 to 7!  And then Christmas vacation.  And now she is waking 2-3 times a night and howling for mama.  At Jacob's mom's house, where we were all in one room, she just stood in the crib and screamed, reaching for me and saying "Mih, Mih, Mih."  That was last week.  We're working on it!

- Nursing: Despite the fact that I seem to be her only antidote in the middle of the night, I love nursing Cora.  And she does love her "mih."  Nursing a toddler has its own unique quirks and rewards: Cora has side preferences which she expresses strongly and which change depending on the day.  She thinks milk is yummy and there is no quicker way to break her heart than to tell her no.  She nurses 3-4 times a day at this point.

- She likes to carry random things around the house.  At my parents' house, it was a wooden knife.

- Speaking of security items, she loves her "dankie."  Luckily there are three identical ones.  One stays at school and we rotate the other two through the wash.

- This month she changed her brother's name from "Dja-Dja" to just "DJAH!"

I feel like Cora is making us work harder than Jack was at 19 months.  But then again, maybe that's because I can't really remember Jack at 19 months!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

2013 Christmas: In pictures and links

December 20th
- We drive halfway to our destination of Florence, SC (Grammy and Big Papa-land)
- Kids do great for first 6 hours.  Last 30 minutes was a little rough...
- Favorite memory: watching tired and cranky Jack and Cora light up like little explorers as we walk down the hotel hallway.  I love how for a child everything is an adventure!

December 21st
- We spend the morning at Atlanta's Imagine It! Children's Museum before driving the last 4.5 hours.

December 22nd
- "Jack, in SC you go to church twice on Sundays" :)  I was able to go to my childhood church for regular services and also for the community lessons & carols service.
- Favorite memory: Jacob and Jack baking bread together for dinner.  Ahh...vacation!

Icing Cookies

A Jack Creation
December 23rd
- Family Christmas with my dad's family
- Favorite memory: Jack pulling my 89 year old grandfather out of his chair in a game of hide and seek!  I love how he saw past his age and frailty and pulled him into the fun.

December 24th
- My mom is the consummate host. 

 We happily ate off this meal for days.

December 25th
- Santa is generous!
- Our family trains (one of which dates to the early 1950s) are a HUGE hit!
- Favorite memory: seeing Saving Mr. Banks with Jacob, my sister, and brother-in-law and my sister and I crying in sync throughout the movie :)

December 26th
- Made Jacob play the favorite family card game of Nertz.  He absolutely hates it.
- Favorite memory: playing Old Maid with Jack.  Has no bluffing skills as of yet.

Another new game to play: Pallina
December 27th
- Bye-bye babies!  Jacob and I kick off a four day brewery-restaurant tour of upstate SC/NC.

- Soby's in Greenville for dinner

December 28th
- Jacob tours breweries; I relax at coffee houses.  I tour Highland Brewing Co. with him in Asheville.
- This was a hit day for eating: Southern Culture for brunch in Greenville and Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder for dinner in Asheville.
- Asheville is just too cool.  On our last trip we went contra-dancing.  This time we just watched the clogging at Feed & Seed's FREE Saturday night gospel and bluegrass concert.

December 29th
- We are in a nice vacation rhythm: sleep in till 7:30, work out in hotel gym, late morning brunch, WHATEVER WE FEEL LIKE DOING, late evening dinner
- Dinner was another big hit: Cucina 24 in Asheville

December 30th
- After more eating (Early Girl Eatery in Asheville and Hunter Gatherer in Columbia with my aunt and uncle) we come home to our babies.  The red-head hasn't really missed us; the curly-head has, but both have had a blast.

Jack and Cora got to spend lots of time with their new cousin Billy
December 31st
- Spend most of the day trying to pack our greatly expanded belongings into our Toyota Prius
- Early birthday dinner with my family
- Favorite memory: Jack "keeping a secret" all day about the "carrot pie" he has made me for dinner.  Best line was at dinner after he'd spilled the secret in every way possible throughout the day: he leaned in front of me to "whisper" to my sister that "it's not really a carrot pie, it's a cake."

January 1st
- 12.5 hours from Florence, SC to New Orleans, LA (11 hours of that driving) - best possible day to drive - no one on the roads, kids do pretty well

January 2nd
- My Birthday!  Lunch with friends; bowling with Jack and Jacob at Rock n Bowl; dinner out with Jacob; free babysitting by Tante Sara....NICE

January 3rd
- Load up kids again to drive to Jennings, LA for Landry Christmas

January 4th
- Christmas in January with Jacob's side of the family - lots of good food and presents and a big New Orleans Saints victory at the end of the day

January 5th
- Cora has held us hostage for the last time on our holiday travels!!  This particular night included 3 extensive night wakings and up for good at 4:30 a.m.  We are SO ready to get her back to good sleep habits in her own room!  3 more hours of driving and the Landrys are ready for some quiet weeks at home after wonderful, but tiring, weeks of travel!