One of my favorite sounds in the world is when all of my kids are laughing together. They've been doing that a lot lately. They all get each other going and then the belly laughing begins. Oh, how that makes my heart glad!
Zekey is our more quiet of the three and sometimes its easy to just breeze right along with him. Its not that he doesn't desire our attention, its just that he's not as vocal and pushy about getting it from us. Lately, however, we've been having to deal with some heart/attitude issues with him and we've re-concentrated our efforts on paying more attention to him and spending more one-on-one time with him. One of the sweetest times during the day with him is when he first wakes up. He's my early riser and he'll come and literally hop into bed with me, whether I'm ready to wake up or not. Ah, my own little alarm clock. ;) I get to rub his back and ask him how he slept and what he's thinking about (usually rocket ships or some sort of mechanical something or other....Braden's influence reaches deep at this stage :) and he eats it up! I don't honestly know how its going to work when our newest member makes his/her appearance, but I want to try and keep this little routine intact for as long as possible! He's also become quite animated when he talks. He gets his hands involved in the process and he has very expressive eyes. He's also in the stage where he thinks lots of silly things are funny and he'll talk about something and then just get himself laughing. I love that. Right now, he's learning how to be a good big brother, which at times, I'm sure he considers a painful learning process. He and Ailey can be so very sweet with each other, but man can they fuss with each other, too! Oh, well....growing pains. :) He and Braden can spend HOURS playing with blocks that they've made into some sort of space ship or flying contraption. The cool thing is that instead of always following Braden's lead, Zekey is now asserting his imaginative ideas and they will go back and forth making it up as they go along.
He's also really been such a big helper. He always wants to help me or Sam with whatever we are doing. He's getting to the point where he's actually helping instead of "helping", if you know what I mean. Its fun to see that he has a very generous heart.
This semester, once a week, we have been attending our homeschool group's co-op. Its where the kids get to go to classes with other kiddos from the co-op. Its such a neat thing and I am so grateful and blessed by this. Zekey has three classes, too. He gets to go to art, story time and music and movement. Before this, Braden was the one who mostly got to do projects and things at home. It takes me a while to want to mess with paints with younger kiddos, but Zekey is all into it! He gets to use glue and paints and other art paraphernalia and he really enjoys it. I've started to let him do more of that stuff at home on the days he doesn't nap. He has also learned several songs and he's been singing non-stop around the house and in the car. Among his favorites are Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, Itsy, Bitsy Spider and the monkeys and crocodile song....don't know the actual name of that one.... Anyway, we have started to sing those before he goes to bed (its part of Ailey's bedtime routine and I think he wanted that attention, too :) and he really loves it. The best part is when the whole family is in the boys' room after we pray together and we all sing the songs complete with Daddy singing harmony. Oh, how the kids eat that up! Fun times. Anyway, my little guy is not so little and we really are just enjoying him so much!
Braden. Braden is growing up so fast. Sometimes I forget he's just 6 and sometimes I remember that and he's so much more than just 6. He has a tendency to be very silly, can't imagine where he gets that from.... yet can be so very serious. He's learning about how to tell the difference when we are "getting his goat". We actually had to try and explain that saying not too long ago and I really don't know if we actually made it any clearer than mud for him. Haha!
This year has been interesting because I didn't get to do the homeschool curriculum I wanted to with him. I really wanted him to do Sonlight, but because I was so sick at the beginning of this pregnancy, I couldn't do that. So, when I was finally able to do something with him, I went with Hooked on Phonics again and now Hooked on Math. He's doing such a good job! A couple of things I really like about Hooked on Phonics is that a) it can be faster paced, so we can catch up more easily and b) it teaches him to self-correct. He is reading very well and is actually reading pretty much anything he sees. Challenges will come with that, but its exciting to see him really getting more complicated concepts. Its the same with the math. He's just really taking off and getting it. I'm glad for the guidance of the curriculum because the way I learned math was very backward and I don't want him to go through the same maze to try and figure stuff out. :)
Braden is truly my mini-me. He has the same issues with attitude and he has a fairness complex, just like yours truly. I am grateful that God has brought me through so very much where both of those areas are concerned because I am able to help Braden work through all of this gunk at such a young age. Hopefully, he will be much better equipped and way more open to God working in his heart right away throughout his life than I ever was or have been. Shepherding a child's heart is difficult and frustrating and overwhelming at times, but when you push through and really stick with it, the rewards are GREAT! The growth and change it produces is truly amazing! Braden has been continually growing in this and I am just so proud of him!!!
Though he sometimes makes wrong decisions in his capacity as big brother, for the most part he is a most amazing big brother. He really helps both his brother and sister out a ton! He watches out for them and tries to keep them out of trouble, for the most part. He really cracks me up sometimes because he'll tell me he's decided to be nice and kind to his siblings and then when he does something nice for them, he'll say, "I'm doing such a good job because I'm being so nice and kind." He self-appreciates..;p
At co-op, he is in Incredible Animals, Cooking and Pioneering the Planets. He's learning a bunch. He's the youngest in the cooking class and it took him a while to come out of his shell. Normally, he's super social and there's not a shy bone in his body. Sometimes, though, when he's in a situation where the kids are mostly older than him, his dominant tendencies take a back seat. It good for him to be on the other side of the coin at times. :) Anyway, I got to talk to his teacher about it because she was wondering if he was shy and I told her about all that and the next week she came up to me and said he had apparently gotten over that because he was raising his hand first and answering all the questions. Just gotta give him a bit of time.....
Something else of interest has come out of his planets class. This is right up his alley because he is all into space right now. The interesting part is the bond he has with a little girl in his class. Her mom is the teacher and we've gotten to talk about it a bit as its funny and sweet to both of us. Braden and this little girl are really fond of each other. He says she's his best friend that's a girl. He's been categorizing lately. ;p He will save some of his goodies that he's made in cooking class just for her. He will also draw her pictures and talk about her quite a bit after co-op has ended for the day. There's nothing going on that isn't just completely innocent care and sweetness. I'm glad Braden has that kind of a heart.
***TANGENT*** Now, just so you know, we don't do the whole encouraging anything girlfriend-boyfriend. As a matter of fact, we are going to always aim in the direction of God-directed courtship as we train our kids. I don't believe anything else is healthy. As a matter of fact, I think pretty much anything else is extremely harmful, leads to physical actions outside of marriage and causes wounds and scarring that usually takes a lifetime to heal/deal with. I'd rather my kiddos not have to go through any of that type of thing. The great thing is they don't have to if they make wise choices. ***
Little Miss Ailey Grace is quite a different being altogether. She has amazing will-power. Right now we are NOT exactly loving that, but we do recognize that God put that in her and He's got a purpose for it. We are just supposed to guide it in the right direction. :) She's really been funny lately as she has been exerting her independence. She is a very specific little girl. Whether its the food she wants to eat, the toys she wants to play with or the clothing/shoes she wears, she has a definite opinion. For instance, I'll get out a couple of dresses and hold them up in front of her and she will get the one she wants. If none of them are satisfactory, she will say, "NO, not that one!" and then point out which one she wants. Most of the time she doesn't get a choice like that because I'm really NOT going to be raising a little miss diva. Given a chance, I think she could very much head in that direction. Yeah, NO!
One of the other things I've noticed about her is that if its not comfortable, its not worth wearing. I must admit, she comes by this most honestly. I don't believe cute has to be painful, either. :) There are some shoes she won't wear because they rub her feet wrong or she has an owie and they are causing more pain to it. Today, I put socks on her feet and she kept saying they were too tight. Haha! I pulled them out away from her toes so she could wiggle them and that made the difference. See what I mean?
She's also a mother hen. She tries to do everything I do. She will get on to Zekey and Braden and already tells on them when they have forgotten how to be good big brothers. ;) She tries to help me clean, though at this point lots of patience on my part is required in that process. I think eventually, she's going to be a power house and I'm going to LOVE it! She has also incorporated kind words into her vocabulary and kept them there. The boys need to be reminded to say please, thank you and you're welcome on a regular basis. She does it automatically.
One of the funny things she's been doing lately involves the wipey box. We have a few that have Buzz, Woody and Jesse from Toy Story on them. She will get the box, put it on the floor and talk to Buzz. She will have long and drawn out conversations with him. Very funny. She will also request to speak to Granny or Memaw and Peepaw on the phone. Whether or not they are actually on the phone, she will jibber-jabber with only a few coherent words in the whole of the conversation because she's trying to sound like I do by talking continuously. Definitely a girl trait!:)
She almost knows all the words to Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Its one of the songs on the music machine on her crib and she like to sing it every night. We'll say its time to go to bed and she will come and say, "Sing, sing, Twinkle, Twinkle." I thinks right now she's trying to be a baritone. She makes her voice unnaturally deep just to sing the song. Its pretty funny.
Anyway, that's it for now. My hands are tired from typing and the dreaded dishes are waiting on me......