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Another Year of Annabelle

Annabelle2014For the fifth time, I have had the honor of welcoming a new year as a mom. I’m just letting that sink in for a second.

Five New Years full of surprise as I watch this girl discover and conquer the world. It’s really, really hard some days, but the rewards are great.

Here’s what Annabelle had to say during the last hours of 2014:

I am: 4 years old.

I like to: jump.

My favorite food is: apples.

My best friend is: C

My most special memory is: playing with C.

I saw: a cat.

I read: The Gingerbread Man

Mom note – Reading was huge for Annabelle this year, which I really saw when looking through the photos from 2014. One of the first pictures I have of A in January is the first one in this collage, where she is doing the first phonetic word building exercise from our language shelf. Just a couple of months later, there’s pictures of her writing, and later in the year, there she is again with the moveable alphabet, this time building a complete sentence without the tiniest bit of help or direction. She definitely loves language and it has been a thrill to watch her master it with such enthusiasm and independence. At this point, she is reading anything and everything and learning as much Spanish as she can, too.

I created: a house.

I sang or listened to: Mr. Blue Sky.

I learned: how an apple tree grows.

I went: to Cheese Park.

In 2015, she wants to:

go to Waterfront Park, and to Colorado to see her cousin and her Aunt.

learn how to ride a pedal bike.

try to climb a mountain in Colorado.

(do) drink champagne.

create a swimsuit.

I think it’s going to be a pretty great year with this girl by our side!

Elliot’s Year

Elliot2014Elliot is just weeks shy of turning two and a half, and one of the biggest changes we have noticed with him in recent weeks is a huge development in his language skills. What this means for today is that, for the first time, he was able to really participate in the tradition of New Year’s Eve interviews I started in Annabelle’s toddlerhood, that is until he decided he was tired of my questions.

Here’s what he had to say about 2014:

I am: 3 (see above, he isn’t, but he is fond of saying so lately).

I like to: play with C (a friend)

My favorite food is: yogurt.

My best friend is: Elliot.

My most special memory is: umm, I don’t know.

I read: The Gingerbread Man (really, though. I think I read it to him at least six times today.)

After this, he started answering every question with “I don’t know.” So I answered a few of the biggies with my view.

I created: a lot of artwork with crayon, pencil, marker, stamps, paints, and dough. Circles featured heavily.

I sang or listened to: “Where is Thumbkin,” “Old Betty Larkin,” “Jingle Bells,” “Twinkle, Twinkle,” and “You are my Sunshine.”

I learned: all of my body parts and a lot of other words in Spanish, and to brush my hair and teeth.

I went: to Houston to meet my GiGi.

to Montessori school.

to music class.

His answer to all of the questions about 2015 was, “I don’t know,” so I guess we will see. I’m sure he’ll surprise us in many ways with his accomplishments this year. My concept of time as a parent has been so weird, and this year that’s especially true as I look back on Elliot’s life over the past twelve months. Certain seasons can be such a challenge that they seem as though they’ll never end, and being in the midst of them can make time inch by. The eternity during which Elliot insisted on starting his day at 4:45 every morning is one such example from this year. Meanwhile, the constant activity associated with having three young children in the house can make the days race by and looking at this year’s photos is evidence of that. As much as I know intellectually that Elliot started the year as a one year old, looking back at the photos of him as a tiny toddler from last January, in his one piece snow suit and training pants, is so strange. It’s hard to picture him as anything but the kid he is today. Even so, I know that who he’ll be at this time next year is something I can’t anticipate even with all I know of him now. What an honor it is to watch these children become something new every day!

2014 in Nora

Nora2014As the year comes to a close, I’m enjoying my annual look through the photos we took. What better time to catch up a bit on the children’s lives, right? Last year, I started making collages with photos of the year’s highlights for each child, and I think I’ll continue that in the years to come. This is Nora’s.

She spent the first several months of the year in the womb and didn’t have any ultrasounds, so her year in photos begins on the day of her birth, which was naturally a very happy day. About ten days later, she had her first car ride, on her first visit to the pediatrcian’s office. Unfortunately, she had to make repeat visits a few times in the days that followed to monitor her bilirubin levels – see the hint of yellow in her skin in that second photo? In the third, she was enjoying a lovely playtime in the back yard and taking in a bit of sun to keep those bili levels down.

As spring gave way to summer, Nora was able to join us for her first trip to the neighborhood pool, which she slept away in the sling. She began to spend more time awake and alert, and was the first Kemendo baby to actually look at a mobile without crying, so she began to spend a bit of time in independent play on the floor. It was hard to find a good time to be outdoors in the summer, because it was intensely hot much of the time and it seemed that anytime we sat in the yard, she was rewarded with a heat rash. She did get to join the big kids at our neighborhood playground, and enjoy watching the leaves dance on the black gum tree in our yard, however. We just had to get out as early as we could!

When family was visiting, she took her very first boat ride, a quickie along the Anacostia River. Before long, fall was here, and school had begun. Nora spent her mornings with us in the classroom, often watching her siblings and their friends as they worked. She got to see the seasons change for the first time, and experience her first snowfall from the safety of the Moby wrap, with a bit of milk to warm her from the inside out. She has loved music from the get-go, both playing it herself, as she can be seen doing on our silly little toy piano, and watching and listening while others play. She joined me for several wonderful days of Montessori music training, and I won’t be surprised if she has perfect pitch thanks to all of her exposure to work with the Montessori Bells! She also joins us for our weekly Musikgarten class, where she loves to listen, dance, and sing along, so her life is already rich with music, really.

In the past several weeks, Nora has become much more active in play, has become a confident sitter and a surprisingly quick crawler, has begun to join us for family meals (though she eats only parts of each meal), and has become much more involved with her siblings. Last night, she had her first real bath with them and she could hardly contain herself. She seems to have enjoyed the sights, sounds, and smells of her first holiday season, too. She had quite a fun day at a Virginia Christmas tree farm, which is where we were in the first photo on the bottom row of her collage, and has loved looked at and feeling the tree we brought home from there. She took her first plane trip before Christmas, to Texas to visit with her daddy’s family, and met her oldest living relative, her precious GiGi (Great Grandmother), so there has been much excitement! I look forward to seeing what this girl does in 2015!

Our Classroom Infant

Some Montessori classrooms have pets which allow them to practice the care of animals in their Practical Life work. We have plenty of opportunities to practice Grace and Courtesy with Nora. Here she is sitting with Annabelle, who was sort of, almost thinking about doing the Hundred Board. More on this and much more, I hope, when it isn’t September!

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Our Classroom, v 2.0

How many classroom showcase posts have I written now? We’re still going strong in our little school on the bottom floor of our home. This past week was our first week back, and it was so fantastic. For most of the children, this is our third school year together and I can’t even find the words to describe how amazing it is to see the same bunch of children at four and five that we got things going with when most of them were two and a half.  They know what’s expected of them, they are really coming to feel like they own the classroom and the materials, and they have quite a repertoire of extension activities up their sleeves, too. I have seen a lot of the blindfold in these first five days, which the children are challenging one another with in the Sensorial area.

Anyway, the classroom: since we had a nice long summer, extended by a couple of weeks because of the birth of our chubby, cuddly, beautiful Nora, we took some time to make a few big improvements to our space before the new school year. It’s finally almost exactly as I’d like it, minus a couple of new tables and hopefully a new ceiling, one day. I’m so in love that I just have to share it with you. Now.

There are some affiliate links in this post, by the way. If you happen to see something you want to add to your own environment, purchasing it using one of my links gives me a small commission at no cost to you, and allows me to further improve our classroom – a win, win!

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