independent steps

You've been asking for and taking on some new responsibilities these days.

You are making friends of the bartenders at Applebee's
as you confidently belly up to order your kiddy-cocktails 
during our Wednesday lunches. 

You've been asking to do more things to help out at home, too.

In the past you've joined me in emptying the dishwasher, 
but this time you asked me to step aside completely
as you confidently climbed atop counters, handled glasses,
and even put away all the knives yourself! 

With all the added effort  you have been putting in around the house 
your Dad and I thought it was time you start getting a weekly allowance.

On Friday (allowance day) you asked how soon 
we might be able to make a stop at Walmart.

You were thrilled to handle your own purchase choices
and to make the matchbox car buying transition on your own. 

You totally made the cashier woman's day.

You and I went sledding this weekend with my girlfriend, Erica.
It was the first time you and I had been to this particular sledding hill.

When I saw that the other sledders were quite a bit older than you, 
and then learned that they do not let people go down the hill in pairs,
I was a little worried that you would not be ready for this monster hill!

Much to my surprise you were FEARLESS on that hill.

Once you took a rolling tumble halfway down the hill
that sent this mama FLYING to your rescue
sure to find you in pieces at the bottom.
Instead, you were laughing hysterically at me for nearly
killing myself to get to you as fast as I could.
You even insisted on handling the tow-rope all on your own!



best girl

"You know mom, if I could just own her... like, to keep her forever, that would make me the happiest."

Oh, don't we know it!

She has, hands down, always been your favorite play pal,
number one sleep-over comrade, the shiniest glimmer in your eye,
 most talked about, asked begged for, BEST friend/sister in the whole universe. 
And she kinda likes you, too. ;)

During one of her most recent visits, 
the two of you geared up to head outside to play in the snow.

I just stood out of the way and watched the two of you fill hours with fun.

I remembered how much Uncle Tony and I loved playing in the snow 
together when were were kids.

Finally, we had some good snowman making snow!
I thought you would need my help, but all you needed was supplies.
You two are both getting SO big!!!

I was a little perplexed when I saw you stick what appeared to be horns
in the forehead of your snowman's face...

until I heard you yell,
"Mom! Look at our triceratops!!!"


link love

I don't keep this blog with an audience analysis for anyone but my little guy, so I don't give much thought to explaining how we did a craft, or sharing a great new recipe, or posting inspirations or encouragement for todays Mama readers. I'm sorry for that, because I know you are here - checking in now and then - leaving me sweet e-mail messages. But there is a good reason for the direction I've taken here, and I need to stay the course. 

One thing I do miss as I look back at this blog versus babyzeek.com is my old favorite links. I love when I stumble across those links in my reading and I can revisit some of the places, people, brilliant ideas I once loved.  So here they are... my current favorites:

Of course Ann, who I've probably linked 1,000 times already.  

My good long time girlfriend Jamie, who's back at blogging again after the birth of her second little one. 

My (I won't dare say "oldest") longest friend Emily sharing tidbits of her hectic life with three (well, four if you count her husband) boys.   

My open hearted, fearless friend Katherine with beautiful photography, adorable weekly learning and play themes for kids, and awesome ideas for giving. 

Courtney with an inspiring gift combination of boldness, submission and self-control. 

Enchanted Learning: our favorite printable membership for homeschool and fun.

Our favorite banana bread

Our FAVORITE sugar cookies, with or without the ice cream.

My favorite modern decor website.

My favorite homeschool resource blogger, Mama Jen, using our same curriculum and giving away her ideas and PDFs like a mad woman! Love her! 

The Nichols, my favorite photography team EVER!

My current favorite single photographer.

And an amazing nutritional idea that if I'm not still implementing in 10 years, I need to remember to get back to! 


zeek talk:

you: i only like to go into the basement alone if i am playing xbox.
your dad: and why do you think that is?
you: because my thoughts are on "hot wheels beat that" instead of the scary things.
your dad: what are the scary things?
you: well, all kinds of things... like t-rex, spinosaurus, meat eaters...'cuz you know i'm meat, right!

*********************************** Organic Pug ************************************

You squirrel around in the kitchen, readying your bowl of breakfast. I push the button to shut the garage door and return to the kitchen from where Yuki's food is stored. She jumps all around sure I will feed her if she flops about enough.

You start with your sing song jazz talk,
"Mom, you're riling her up, that pug, that freshly baked, organic puuuug."

You stop dead in your dancing tracks to give a quick think and then seriously note,

"You know her meat is organic, Mom?"

Then you're back to the dance and the ad-lib song. You wrestle your hands in the dogs face for effect, and she gnaws on your fingers.

You sing silly,
"Ahhhhh! she's bitting me... bitting me!!! She thinks I'm organic!!!"

**************************************** The Way They Start Out *****************************************

You lay in the hallway, half on the stairs, moping about how bored you are without someone to play with. As always, I remind you that we could have always had another child (this usually gets you off my case, since most days a sibling is the last thing you'd ever want). 
This day you reply smugly, "yeeeaaahhh, but I can't stand the way they start out."

I probe for more, knowing this aught to be good... "what do you mean, the way they start out?"

You throw in, "you know, with the crying baby stuff, and then the whining, then fighting..."

****************************************** The "Waiting" Pool *************************************

We drive by a great park that I used to go to with Aunt Pam and Co. before you were born. You mention to me how cool the park looks and I tell you we can go in the summer, adding, "they even have a wading pool." 
You sit quiet for a second then pipe up, "Oh, so like you don't have to wait to go on the playground...?"
Sometimes I let you think things that are just a hair off, because it's cute and will be fun when you figure them out. This one I had to explain to you. :)

************************************* Bowling 'Tude *************************************


borrowing your clothes, already!

The other morning I woke up early and snuck out of our (again) family bed. 
Not wanting to wake you or your Dad opening closet doors to get a sweatshirt 
I went to your closet to borrow one of yours for the time. 
I was surprised it fit quite comfortably!

When you woke up and saw Mama in your sweatshirt you thought I was crazy.
You said, "stay right here... i have to get a picture of this!"


your little world: part four


Right now you play in rotation of Hot Wheels (both the cars and the video games), board games, dominos, and card games. Your favorite video game is XBox "Hot Wheels Beat That!" And we love the way you say it. Your cards of choice are rummy and go fish. :)

You are always combining your race car video games with your toy cars. 
You will call certain cars "locked" and make us do certain things in order to "unlock" them,
i.e. "hit the green ninja monster truck with the datson bluebird", 
"zoom this dirt car up the hall into the sun spot in the entrance way" etc...   

You get bored not having someone little to play with. We play with you a lot. Even I have found a fondness for playing toys with you more often now that you are a little older. I loved playing cars with your uncle Tony when we were kids, so it only makes sense. 

We also make sure to have a friend of yours over now and then for the day. Jaymee will come over for the day, or a couple hours while her mom is running with uncle Jeff up the road, and now and then we will pick up cousin Zach for a play day. 
With a friend in tow you are scarce and content as can be. 

You are great at playing on your own as well. You love your fun cards and fun files. They are index cards and files folders we made up with little ideas of fun things to do. 
The files each have their own game, art project, cutouts, coloring and activity pages, or scavenger hunts in them.
The fun cards are similar but not ready-to-go in a file for you. Things like, write a letter to someone, collect a basket of natural toys from outside to play with, make a fort, play hide and seek...

We all love hide and seek in the dark with flashlights lately. It's becoming a part of our nightly routine.  

You love to read and listen to books on CD. 
Your all time favorite book on CD is Ribsy, followed by Black Beauty. 
Right now, you love the "Dear Dragon" series of easy readers. 
I can hardly get you out of the library with new ones before you've read them already! :)

Saturday mornings are "cartoon mornings", but for the most part you still earn most of your media time. You earn a "30 Media Minutes" ticket anytime you have made the choice on your own to produce rather than consume. We have all been working on this concept, making changes in our habits and reaping great benefits from it. 

Your favorite show right now is "Busy Town", 
and you always like to remind me that it teaches kids a lot! ;) 
Your favorite movie is How to Train Your Dragon, 
and you insist on wearing your dragon pajamas with wings as often as we will let you. 

You love the dragons "toothless" and "the nader" the most, and you've been a dragon 90% of what used to be your "cat" time. Although, you are far less often anything besides Zeek, THANK GOD. I guess it was just a (long) phase after all. :) 

Speaking of cats, you are currently at the count of 10 stuffed cats. I still feel terrible that we can't get you a real cat, but your stuffed ones are SO special and important to you.
You have;
*Anxious (Angry's twin)
Sweet Cat
Wiskers baby
and Mew-Mew
*hands down favorites

Your cats even go to work once in awhile with your Dad. 

He takes pictures of them doing crazy things and sends them to you, all throughout the day.
He's such a good Daddy. 


your little world: part three


Our socialization has been scant these past couple of months. In part, we just suck at it, lately. It's so cold and miserable outside. I want to be a lover of all seasons, but by February, when it's still dipping into negative degrees everyday, we are waiting like hibernating bears to see any signs of a coming spring. PLEASE GOD!!! 

I don't care how much vitamin D we consume in pill form, with sun comes a higher tolerance from and for all mankind. :)

Having written that, something big has changed in you over the past couple of months. Where you have always been very seemingly "shy", unsure, and to yourself in public, lately you have been completely different. 

I don't know what happened that might have changed this about you. Maybe you're just growing into your own... but you have been SO wonderful with people/strangers. You've been responding to them, looking them in the eye, confident, and even witty and charming. Not that it surprises me that you are witty and charming, but with any and everyone is a HUGE shock for me. 
I love it! And so does everyone else.

It's so nice to see you presenting your little wonderful-ness to people instead of keeping it a secret for only your closest people. 
And I've really enjoyed not having to explain that you don't have autism and it's really not that you're homeschooling parents have kept you completely unsocialized. 

We have started you in a new class at the Little Gym. It's a combined sports class that lasts six months. It teaches you a number of different sports but mostly builds on skill level and confidence. 

My favorite thing about it is the staff. They are SO wonderful. They really make you feel like you're a part of something special. They treat you like a strong capable learner. They never doubt or wonder what you can do. They just know you can do it!!! And so, you have. :)  

Oddly enough, we are finding that you are best at and enjoy gymnastics the most. Not just the tumbling stuff, but the balance beams and parallel bars too! 
Who would have thought?
We usually go out to lunch at after your gym class, and last week you saw a bar in the restaurant we were in. You remembered when Uncle Ron snuck you off to buy you kiddy cocktails at the bar at Oneida, and you asked me if you could have one. 
I told you that you could if you went to the bar and ordered it yourself (absolutely sure you would never). Without skipping a beat you left my side, marched right up to the bar, waited for the bartender (who I winked an "okay" to), and ordered your drink!!! 
You even waited for him to bring it to you.
I didn't hear any of it, but you came back with a kiddy cocktail, so you did something right! :)  



your little world: part two


With 1/2 the school year behind us we have evaluated your progress and decided to step things up a little.
Rather than moving on to the first grade curriculum itself we have taken out some of the kindergarden redundancy and supplemented with materials that support the next level in each subject.


While there isn't much of a science requirement at the kindergarden level we have added it to your schedule these past few weeks. We are currently learning about weather and weather related topics. You've been working with graphs and charts, both making and reading them. You have fallen in love with thermometers and want to take the temperature of everything and every space you can find. 

For the worksheet in the photo above your directions were to brainstorm eight things that are warm in temperature, and write a sentence using each word. I wrote your sentences down for you as you spoke them to me. It was the first time you have had to do that, and your sentences were a RIOT! I wrote the first (nice and innocent) sentence to give you an example. The following serious somewhat morbid sentences were all you! :) Too funny.

Reading and Writing

As for reading and writing, you are blowing us away! You have amazing comprehension.  
You have an incredible ability to retain information after only hearing it once (even when sometimes I'm completely sure you are not listening to me at all). That makes teaching you very easy for mama! 

A couple of new things we've added to your schedule are spelling and journal writing. 

You are so cute at spelling! I love hearing you say the word, spell it, then repeat the word. :)

I don't check or proof read your journal entries. That is for you to do how you'd like. But your Daddy and I do love to sneak a peek at it now and then to see what you've added. I never tell you what to write about. I only explained to you in the beginning that it is for you to look back on at who you were when you were five, and that you can write all about yourself. It is so sweet!

When I taught Jaymee how to read I never got to experience her growing past those beginning sound-it-out stages. Of course, she since has... I just don't get to see it like I do with you. 
You LOVE to read. Not so much as your cousin Nick, yet. But every night you lay in bed with BILLIONS of books at your side, reading and reading until you fall asleep with a book on your head. Just like I did when I was little. 

We've also made it a higher priority to learn the Spanish language, stepping away from your rosseta stone program and into reading, writing, and speaking it as part of your lessons everyday.


Math is still your favorite easiest subject. You are in the third lesson of your second math-u-see book, Alpha. It is still a lot of review for you having just finished the Primer, but you enjoy it. I think the confidence boost of knowing the subjects as they come is good for you, too. 
You have mastered skip counting by 2s, 5s, 10s, and 100s, place values to the hundreds including reading numbers to 1,000, basic adding and subtracting, and telling time.

You have recently started to multiply on your own without ANY introduction or preparation for it. You will say things like, "what is three plus three plus three" and when I answer "nine" you will ask, so three three times is nine!

This is one of my favorite things about homeschooling. Being able to watch your learning appetite and feed you what you are ready for in your time.    

We recently looked into your random backwards writing (as seen at the bottom of the first page above with 12:30) to be sure it is still age appropriate and not signs of dyslexia. I knew that when four and five year olds write their numbers and letters backwards it is normal, but it's hard to believe that would be the case for you who has been writing for over two years now. Thankfully, it is about brain development and not where you are in your learning curve. 


Your free art is wild and sweet and all you, but you haven't quite grasped and run with the program we are using (Monart) the way I expected. It is a little more structured and bossy than you like, but you pull it off. 
As always, it is like mommy therapy letting you have your very own creative little way in how you do things. :) I just have to walk away and let you be. I'm always amazed at the result. 
You have definitely taught me far more in art and creativity than I've taught you.


Of course, we have "Bible study", devotions, prayer, worship, our gratitude journals, "walking with HIm"... but most impacting for all of us has been just living out our life in Christ together. Always talking to Him out loud, teaching about waiting on God's will, learning to listen to and obey Him, sharing our spiritual ups and downs, encouraging and helping each other to stay alert and aware of His constant presence and desire for us to love and serve Him with all we are. And when we mess it up, which we do all the time, you get to learn how gracious and forgiving our God is and always will be. 

We are proud of your schooling and the progress you've made. We love to page through your binders full of your work in each subject and see all that you've accomplished, and HOW YOU'VE GROWN! 

It's true that you are a smart guy, but it's your open and real approach to learning that makes it so much fun to work with you. I don't know if that's just an untainted age thing, a homeschooler thing, or your personality, but I love it! 

We are grateful everyday (even the tough ones) that we have this opportunity to be a homeschooling family. 
God is good! :)


your little world: part one

It's time for an updated "all about you" segment. 
Over the next week or so I'm going to compile tidbits of you-facts 
giving a little glimpse into what your life is like right now. 

First things first, let's start with the most obvious and pressing current event... 

The Pox:

We are currently taking the week off of school. 
We are free to do this for up to two weeks during the corse of each quarter, 
and since you have THE CHICKEN POX we thought this might be a good week to take! 

Your chicken pox are nothing short of adorable, and very very mild. 
I was SO excited when they started showing up mid last week. 
Once I calmed your Daddy down and guaranteed him you did not need an incubator 
and quarantine at the nearest NICU, I called Auntie Pam and Gra squealing with delight! 
It felt like such a precious moment. A milestone! 
Like having a first period (not you of course) or losing a first tooth! 

We did not have you vaccinated for the chicken pox because 
we wanted you to get them the good old fashioned way like we did. 
And now that you have them you won't ever have to worry about booster shots 
or contracting them later in life when it's less safe.  

We have tallied a total of 12 cute little pox. 
Mostly on your chest a tummy. 
You have had no other symptoms, except a little stomach ache, yesterday. 
Although we were prepared for the whole sha-bang, 
we are grateful that it turned out to be such a gentle (cute) case.


go pack go!!!

Last night the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Stealers 
in the Super Bowl!!!!!
The celebration was amazing! 
And so were the streets of Green Bay after our victory. 
This is a video your Daddy recorded on his phone:

The sounds of laughter and joy from Daddy and Uncle Levi
brings tears to my eyes.
SO proud and happy. 

Yeah, baby!!!!


door county jan '11

We can't getaway enough this cold cold winter.

As much as we appreciated the accommodations at High Point last month, 
we were so much more comfortable and cozy tucked into 
our family's condo, where we have stored up year after year of memories.

We had a fantastic four days away, together, 
basking in our usual dc winter activities and favorites. 

As always, you loved Al's and PC Junction with its meals, deserts, 
and bubble blowing delivery on their adorable electric train.

We busted through A LOT of books, again, including a new-to-us novel.

And hands down, the thing we did THE MOST of was playing games. 
You are definitely Mama's (and Gra's) boy. 
You could play games all day, every day. 
Finally, your Daddy is being sucked in to the game madness after-all.

i love it