That Agape Family

Live. Love. Learn.

Page 2 of 5

Two Peas in a Pod

I’m an only child. So, when we found out we were expecting another child, we were thrilled, but I was a little nervous, not having any personal experience with having a sibling. Would they get along? Would they like each other? Would Little Miss be jealous with another person in the house? Turns out, things are turning out just fine.

One of the reasons we have chosen to homeschool is so that we can spend more time together as a family. Sweet Pea recently turned one, and if Little Miss had gone off to school this year, as her age would dictate, then they would have missed out on hours (days!) of time together. This fun pic was taken a couple of nights ago, as we were trying to wind down for the night.

We are part of a few homeschooling groups, and I can honestly say that one of things that I have really noticed is the family dynamics of these families. The sibling relationships are so sweet! Of course, they do argue at times, but they truly look out for each other. They genuinely love each other, work together, learn together, and grow together.

We hope and pray that our daughters will become best friends over the years, or continue to be.

This, of course, is not to say that if your children are in school, then they will inevitably hate each other. No, I’m not saying that at all. However, this is just another one of the benefits we have found with homeschooling.

Blessings!

Liz

Joyride 150 Indoor Bike Park

Did you know that Markham has an AMAZING indoor bike park? We didn’t either until a friend of ours tipped us off. One fabulous feature of Joyride 150 is that it is FREE for children under 4, after the one time $5 registration fee. Yes, free and unlimited. Free bike rental, and day pass – remember to bring your own helmet, though. They do have them, but those are available for rent. Helmets are mandatory for all riders.

When you walk in, you are greeted with a blue planked beginner area with pump tracks, narrow bike paths, and a little see saw.  Little Miss used a balance bike for the first time, and after about an hour of figuring it out (and some frustration), she didn’t want to leave! We spent about 5 hours there our first time, and she had so much fun! It’s great exercise, too. There is also an area with picnic benches for eating and relaxing.

As you go farther back into the facility (which is HUGE), you find additional paths, ramps, and half pipes. For the more adventurous, they have ramps that lead into foam pits, so you can try out all those crazy BMX tricks. There is also an outdoor dirt ramp portion, but we have yet to be there in the summer, so I haven’t seen them – yet. Another favourite part is the X-Country trail which winds through the whole facility.

Which leads me to my proud mama brag – she rode a 2 wheeler yesterday! We have been to Joyride about 5 times, and each time she whipped around on the balance bike, growing more confident each time. Yesterday was our first time in about 2 months, and she asked about a pedal bike. Daddy had the day off, so I had been pumping her up that he could help her learn, as it’s a little tough to do while wearing a baby, which is my usual attire. Anyway, Sweet Pea fell asleep in on the way, so Daddy stayed with her while we went on in. She started off on the balance bike, but seemed a bit bored with it. Anyway, long story short, we tried out the pedal bike, and she caught on very quickly. The most beautiful part, to me, is that she really did it on her own. Yes, we held the bike a bit to get her going, but she did it. And the look of surprise when she realized how far she’d gone without us was magical.

If you ask her, she’s “still practicing”, but we’re confident she’s got the hang of it. And I genuinely believe it is because of the experience she got at Joyride 150. Thanks for operating an awesome place, guys!

Blessings,

Liz

P.S. Do you know of an awesome kids hot spot in or around the T Dot?

Pop Goes Perfection!

Does anyone else feel this way? With Sweet Pea toddling (hanging on to everything, but not quite walking yet), we’ve nicknamed her “Destructor”.

Have a wonderful Family Day!

Blessings,

Liz

She Spilled Her Drink and Then…

Today, Little Miss and I enjoyed a rare lunch date with just the two of us. Usually we have Sweet Pea in tow, so it was nice for it to be just the two of us. So, there we are, sitting in the middle of the food court munching away when she knocks over her drink, all over the floor.

Yes, this happens on a regular basis. And yes, it was precariously close to the edge to begin with. However, I reacted as I try to do – calmly. No use crying over spilled iced tea, right? I went and found someone to clean it up, and I went and got a refill for her. Then, we finished our meal. No fuss, no muss. (We did thank the person who mopped up the mess, for the record).

So we sat there, watching the people go by, enjoying our meal. I began to get a little antsy, because a 4 year old enjoys their meal, and I eat like it’s a race, so I took out the book that came with her Happy Meal (did you know you can get a book instead of an annoying toy? Score!), and began opening it. Can you guess what happened next? I spilled my drink, all over the floor. Actually, directly underneath the “wet floor” sign that was placed there after our last clean up. Boy, was my face red. She spilled her drink, and then I spilled mine!

“How embarrassing!” I said to Little Miss. “That’s ok, Mommy.” What if I had blown up earlier? What if I had gotten frustrated over a simple accident? What would her reaction to my mishap have been then? It’s not often we get to see a reflection of ourselves so quickly, but today I did. And today I was glad I chose grace over chastising.

Blessings,

Liz

That’s Not a Rocket Ship!

Little Miss and I went to the pool today! We had a blast splashing around. We went to Agincourt Pool, which is a lovely, free pool in Scarborough. As we were playing around, a little boy, probably around 3, confidently commanded everyone around him to “get on the rocket ship!!!” No one really followed his directions, so he yelled it a couple more times, each time more convincing than before. A woman beside him (not his mom), said “that’s not a rocket ship, that’s a snake,” while giving me that knowing look.

Agincourt Pool

And yes, technically it was a snake. But to this child, it was his rocket ship, that was his to commandeer. To another child, it might have been a bus, that was taking them to school. He looked at me, and I told him “I like your rocket ship! I think it’s really cool!” And he went back to being his assertive self, trying to get everyone onto his ship before take off.

Let’s encourage imaginative play. As adults, sometimes it’s hard for us to get into the mood, or even to understand why they may create crazy stories. However, it is an integral part of play and development, one which needs to be nurtured, and not squelched.

Let’s “dive in” to imaginative play! (I’m so puny!)

Blessings,

Liz

The Grocery List – Early Literacy

Little Miss has recently turned 4. Naturally, some have started to wonder when will this child start to read? We’ve taken the approach that she will start to read when she’s ready. We’re not doing sight word flash cards, and we don’t quiz her on various letters of the alphabet (well, most of us don’t…).

However, we read a lot. We generally read about 5 books a day, sometimes significantly more, and sometimes less. We really want to encourage a love of reading, and studies have shown that forcing a child to read before they are ready can lead to a dislike of reading. In Finland, they don’t start to formally teach reading until 6 or 7, and they are no farther behind their peers within 2-3 years, and often excel later on.

We read books about the various letters of the alphabet, we point out letters when we’re walking and driving, and we talk about which names start with which letters (Grandma and Grandpa both start with “G”).

As we’re setting the groundwork for reading, one tool we’ve starting using is the Grocery List. I used to have our grocery list on the side of our fridge, so that I could add to it as we ran out of items. However, I often forgot it, so I starting using my phone to log our household needs. This is a screenshot of our grocery list using the app ColorNote:

Grocery List

It’s pretty handy, as the checklist mode will allow you to tap a line, and it strikes it out for you (Little Miss likes that part). As I was adding to our list a few weeks ago, I realized that when I entered “honey” my phone offered a cute little emoji option (see above). Although I like to think that we’ve moved past hieroglyphics as a form of communication, this generation seems to gravitate right back to them. All kidding aside, this has been a great tool to get Little Miss engaged in language, in a practical, experiential way. As we pick up the items on our list, I ask her to cross them out. “Do you see sugar on our list?”, and I emphasize the “s” sound for her. She’s gotten quite good at finding them, and the emoji items are also a confidence booster.

What type of casual learning do you experience in your day to day life?

Blessings,

Liz

P.S. Speaking of experiential (practical) learning, I learned how to take a screenshot for this blog post! I know, how could someone not know that in 2018? Well, that was me until this morning. Yay for continuing education!

Art Is Not My Forte – A Nature Journal

I love to look at art. I think it’s beautiful, and I marvel at how people can create such magnificent pieces. I enjoy looking at the children’s books we take out at the library, and I examine the various techniques the illustrators use. That being said, I suck at drawing, and most things related to the visual arts.

No, seriously. I’m not trying to be self-deprecating, nor am I fishing for compliments (what? No! You’re fantastic! – Liar). I’ve simply come to the realization that art (drawing, painting, etc.) is not something I’m good at. I’m OK with that. I have other strong points, and frankly, I’ve never had the patience or determination to work at it in order to get better at it. I would try to draw here and there, but I never put any true effort into it. I expected it to come naturally to me. If you’ve ever seen my drawing of Peppa Pig’s father, you would wholeheartedly agree.

But, because we are choosing to homeschool, I so desperately want to give our daughters a well rounded experience, which includes art. So, I’m giving it the good old college try – I’ve started a Nature Journal.

A nature journal is where you record your experiences and discoveries in nature. I recently read I Love Dirt, and one of the suggestions for a winter activity was to sketch a slumbering tree. Here is the view from our backyard:

Winter Window

And here is my rendition:

Winter Window Sketch

On the left is one type of tree (which, after a quick Google search, would appear to be a Corkscrew Willow Tree) and on the right we have a Maple tree.

It was frigidly cold here in Toronto today (-18 Celcius, with a windchill somewhere around the -37 Celcius mark), so we opted to hunker down inside today.

I’m stepping out of my comfort zone by doing art in the first place. I’m also working on my Wreck This Journal. I got it shortly after having Little Miss. I wanted to stretch myself in terms of my creativity, and this has been an interesting outlet. I’m also demonstrating creating with Little Miss, in hopes that she will take an interest and enjoy partaking in the creating experience. Thankfully, Grandma loves art, and has significantly more talent, so she’ll likely be covering many of these art areas.

What do you feel is not your forte?

Blessings,

Liz

I Love Dirt! A New Year’s Resolution

Happy 2018 friends! I love New year’s. A time of review, and fresh beginnings. Up until just a few of years ago, we would celebrate with my grandparents, and my extended family, by having a family dinner on New Year’s day. I loved it – even the silly tinsel necklaces. My grandparents would go out dancing New Year’s Eve, with my Great Aunt (my Grandma’s sister) and her husband,  until 2 in the morning! I was always pleasantly surprised that they could out-party me. As with all good things, those too have come to an end, but I savour those memories.

With this time of reflection, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to spend more time outside. I like to think that we spend more time outside than the average family, but with a new baby in 2017, I have certainly come up with my fair share of excuses to dodge excursions, particularly in this frosty weather. This book, I Love Dirt (affiliate link) by Jennifer Ward, is a great quick read to get you in the mood to get outside.

i-love-dirt

With 52 simple suggestions for the varying seasons, this book inspires you to take your children outside, and connect with nature. I also really loved the science applications that are recommended to incorporate into your explorations.

What are your New Year resolutions?

Blessings,

Liz

Forget the Flashcards

To be completely honest, I’m not a fan of flashcards. Interestingly enough, this video came up on my Facebook newsfeed today, because I shared it a year ago (thank you Facebook memories). I find them an inauthentic way to learn, as they aren’t contextual. I truly feel that the best way to learn anything, is in a hands on situation, with real life examples.

We’ve got colour and sight words flashcards because I thought they’d be useful at some point. I was also concerned, at the time, that Little Miss didn’t yet know her colours (or at least many of them). I think she was about two and a half at the time. But you know what? She’s got them down pat now. And it wasn’t because I showed her cards with colours on them, but because we talked about the colours we saw around us on our daily walks. The trees, leaves, flowers, signs – everything. Don’t you think that’s more fun than sitting at the dinner table, discussing what colour the strawberry is that Scooby Doo is holding? (Yes, they were Scooby Doo flashcards…)

I tend to worry, from time to time, that Little Miss doesn’t know this or that. Yet, I tend to forget that she has a remarkable knowledge of animals (she knows what an ostrich is), flowers, and My Little Pony characters. They will learn. We want to learn. Our job to not squelch that curiosity, but to feed it and encourage it. Today, we discussed magnetization, and the difference between The North Pole and the pole firefighters slide down at their stations. Conversations will naturally ensue, as long as you’re open to them.

So, currently I’m watching Little Miss as she learns her letters and numbers. She’s just started learning to play Dutch Blitz with my mom, which I hear has been quite fun. Now, in order to play, she needs to recognize her numbers. She’s been able to count to 10 for a while, and can pretty much get to 20, except for that pesky 15 which doesn’t always make it in there. But, it will come. I just don’t think I need to show her a card with the number 5 on it, versus going to a friend’s house, and finding the 5th floor button. Context has meaning, and dare I say, longevity for learning.

Blessings!

Liz

P.S. Have you ever played Dutch Blitz? It’s a Vonderful Goot game.

Dutch Blitz

Go Big or Go Gnome

Here’s a little secret you may not know about me: I Love Gnomes. I think they are cute, and fun, and all around fantastic! So, when we were at the library this week, and I happened upon this book (affiliate link), I had to pick it up:

9781250111272

It is a cute story about Al, the gnome who could not grow a beard, and how he was recognized for what he could do, instead of what he couldn’t.

The illustrations are fantastic, and we’ve read it every night since we picked it up – at her request, to boot! We highly recommend you check it out.

Blessings,

Liz

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