Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Love Languages

A good rule of thumb: When you think you're doing a pretty good job at this parenting thing, that's when you are getting ready to learn something new or, in this case, re-learn something old. Such was the case with us Monday evening.

At bedtime, Ginny likes to ask our two big girls three questions: 1) What made you happy today? 2) What made you sad? 3) What did you learn? We could tell Nyla was feeling off Monday, just not the typical 5-year old she usually is. After some poking and prodding, Ginny was able to get a tearful Nyla to admit that she did not get enough hugs and kisses from Mommy. (Not what you want your child to tell you.) Nyla also tearfully told me that she wanted Mommy and Daddy to draw her pictures. You see, Nyla loves to draw. I mean, she enjoys it so much. I have at least a dozen pictures in my cubicle at work that she has drawn for me. And here she is, crying that we haven't drawn her any pictures.

We are proponents of the book The Five Love Languages. It's a great read and great way to find out how you feel loved and express love. For instance, my top 2 love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch. Ginny is quality time and acts of service. Nyla, we determined, was receiving gifts and probably acts of service. You see where I'm going with this, right? Her "love tank" was empty, because she didn't get any gifts! Here she was, drawing pictures for us, and we were ignoring that as a sign that she needs to get gifts, too! Thanking her for them and telling her how pretty they are weren't enough. Needless to say, Ginny and I felt terrible. I held Nyla at bedtime and told her that I was sorry for not drawing for her, because she draws many pretty pictures for us.

So naturally, I drew her a picture that night - a picture of Madeline (from the books) and three toys. I wrote a note telling Nyla I loved her and asking her what toy she thought Madeline should pick. As you can see from the picture, my drawing (and love) was well-received.

Yesterday, she was back to being our sweet, happy Nyla. Nyla, Naomi, and I sat down at the table last night and learned how to draw birds, a sailbot, a rocket, a bat, and an elephant. (Thanks, Pinterest!) The lesson here is to always, always, always be mindful of how your child (or spouse or family or friends) loves and feels loved.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Homeschool Digest #1

Nyla is reading!

Naomi is continuing to learn her letters. Letting her just play with them seems to help her.

Hello out there, it's been forever since we've blogged! I have tons of ideas rolling around in my head but alas I'm busy and never sit down to blog. 

This is our first official year of homeschooling and things are going about as I expected. It's taken us some time to get adjusted to sitting down and "doing" school. I expect things to continue to evolve and change every few weeks. Thankfully, I feel equipped to handle the changes that come our way. Since the girls are constantly growing and changing I have to be ready to embrace our changing days. And with a toddler underfoot, things are always interesting! 

As we find our groove the most important subjects I want covered daily are Bible/character study, math, reading and writing. I feel accomplished when we get those items done. We have numerous reading times throughout the day. We are not a TV watching family so reading and crafting just come natural to us. 

Speaking of crafts, I'm not overly crafty but the girls sure do enjoying hands-on activities each day. Thank goodness for Pinterest in finding EASY crafts. I like the type of crafts that I can just look at the picture and figure it out myself. I don't want to make time for reading a detailed instruction guide on how to do a 10 minute craft. We do more in-depth crafts occasionally but I want simple. We try and color once a week, but also use scissors, glue, watercolors and oil pastels. I always have googly eyes, construction paper and other crafty items on hand for the girls to choose. 

Busy girl toddler keeps things interesting. She's been walking about 3 weeks.

Naomi in her eagle mask.

Nyla in her eagle mask.

We enjoy staying home most days but we take a field trip every 2 to 3 weeks or so, more when the weather is nice. A few weeks ago we visited Priddy Farms pumpkin patch. We were there a couple hours and had a great time.

Field trip to Priddy Farms.

It's fun to watch our girls develop into their own person with each passing month. Naomi (our #2 girl) NEVER walks anywhere. She likes to dash, jump, twirl, tip toe, run, skip, prance, etc everywhere. I'm not sure she knows how to just walk. :) 
She enjoys flipping through books constantly. She has a BIG imagination and is constantly talking and figuring out life. She is full of questions, funny answers and sayings. This girl LOVES life! I hope she keeps that wonder of it all.
My ultimate book lover, Naomi!

Little Miss Muffet and spider craft with a proud Naomi. 

Nyla (our #1 girl) really enjoys writing. She's been able to write her name since she was 3 years old. She just figured it out on her own. I made letters and books available but she learned letter recognition pretty much on her own. She's VERY independent and wants to figure things out on her own. But she's not stubborn and will ask for help if she needs it, thankfully. She is constantly coloring and drawing pictures for people. I think Daniel comes home and always has something she's drawn him that day. She's taking an art class in a local homeschool enrichment program and she's really enjoying it. She comes home each Tuesday and draws for me what she learned in art that morning. She says she'll be able to bring her portfolio home before Christmas. I sure hope so because I'm ready to see what she's learned.

Nyla loves to write!

Natalie (our #3) girl is a budding toddler. She's been walking about 3 weeks and she is EVERYWHERE! She practically got up one day and walked across rooms, like she's known what she's doing all along. She enjoys playing outside with her sisters, she's saying a dozen or so words, enjoys flipping through books, stealing the big girls toys, coloring (I'm going to have to watch her and walls, I do believe), helping the girls with their puzzles and carrying her lovey around. Thankfully, she's an excellent sleeper (except when teething), a great eater and a fun girl. She is constantly smiling and we can tell her wheels are always turning in her little mind. She is such a ham and walks around just giggling about nothing, at least it's nothing to us. She's been the missing piece in our little family.

We're raising another bookworm!

Natalie enjoys writing on our chalkboard in the kitchen, just like her big sisters.

After our corn maze field trip with one of our homeschool groups, we checked out a local pumpkin patch.

So, that's a wrap up of the last few months. I hope to update more than every 4 months. :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Suburbia [Board Game Review]

Remember the computer game SimCity? Remember trying to build up your city and become a megalopolis? Or, if you're like me, remember building up your city only to unleash disaster after disaster on it? What if there were a board game that captured the city-building of SimCity? What if you could build a city and interact with the cities of other players? Good news, board game geeks, there is a game like that, and it is called Suburbia - a wonderful game released in 2012 by Ted Alspach and Bezier Games.

Suburbia is a game for 1-4 players (with 2 solo variants available) and should take roughly 90 minutes to play. In terms of complexity, this is definitely a step above games like Acquire and Ticket to Ride. I would not recommend starting an inexperienced strategy gamer with Suburbia. It is a game that you need to build up to before giving it a go.

At its core, Suburbia is a tile placement game, with each tile being a hexagon representing a building or landmark for your city/suburb. On the right, you see your starting suburb, and you purchase additional tiles to add to the suburb. The catch? All tiles interact with each other in different ways. At the top of the purple board are numbers representing reputation (i.e. do people want to move to your suburb?) and income. Different tiles will increase or decrease reputation and income, and the interaction of the tiles in your suburb (and in some cases, your opponents' suburbs) can affect your reputation and income even more. For instance, for obvious reasons, building a landfill next to houses decreases your reputation; or building a farm in your town increases your income as other players build restaurants in their suburbs. As you progress more into the game, the tiles become more expensive and more complex in terms of interaction. On your turn, you purchase a tile, place it in your suburb, and resolve all effects of that tile, the tiles adjacent to it, the tiles in your suburb, and the tiles in the other players' suburbs. Then you collect your income and add/subtract your population based on your reputation. As always, this is not meant to replace the rule book (as you know by now), so be sure to read through it a couple of times before you play. I should also mention that at the beginning of the game, end-game bonus discs are revealed, and one is selected in secret. These goals award bonus population at the end of the game if you have the most/least _____. For instance, you can earn bonus points for having the worst reputation. That one is my favorite, because it means I get to make the worst suburb possible. Once the bonus points are added in, the person with the most points (i.e. population) is the winner.

So what do I think? I feel like a broken record, but this is another game that we enjoy. Each game will be different because you do not use every tile, so there is variability in what tiles appear. There are 20 goals as well, so there will be many different combinations of goals. Plus, it really does feel like you are building up your suburb. The tiles interact thematically as you would expect. Building parks cost money but improves the look (and reputation) of your city. Too many factories and no one wants to live there. We're really that this one is part of our collection. It's not a game for newbies, but if you're a serious gamer, you should definitely get Suburbia.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Kingdom Builder [Board Game Review]

*Tumbleweeds roll across the wind swept plain, as a figure appears against the sun.*

Hello? Helllllloooooo? Is anyone here? (Squinting) Ah, yes, it looks like I've got a few of you here. I'm back to talk to you about a fun game recently added to our collection - Kingdom Builder. I'd like to thank Geek & Sundry, or more specifically, Table Top, for introducing me to this one. Similarly, Ginny would like to un-thank them. ;-)

Kingdom Builder is a game for 2-4 players and should take no more than 45 minutes. In terms of complexity, this is a fantastic gateway game - a game that you could introduce to board game newbies. The goal of the game is to score the most gold/victory points as you place your settlements across a board of various terrain types - fields, forests, deserts, canyons, and flowers. On your turn, you reveal your face-down card with a terrain type on it and then place 3 settlements on hexes of that terrain type as well as adjacent to any existing settlements you have on the board. The board is setup by choosing 4 of 8 smaller modules and combining into one larger board. This is great for replay ability. Each board contains at least 1 palace/castle hex, and 1 or 2 hexes of a different building. Building next to palaces scores you end game points, and building next to the other building hexes allows you to bend the rules in different ways. As I always say, please refer to the rule book for the full rules description. The end game condition is met when one player runs out of houses to place, at which point everyone gets one more turn (except for the start player). Points are awarded based on 3 cards drawn from a set of 10 scoring cards, each of which awards points for different scenarios (i.e. houses next to water or mountains). Each player then scores 3 points per palace to which they are adjacent. Most points wins!

What do I think of this game? It's easy, and it's fun. The modular boards and end game scoring cards ensure each game will be different. Nyla, now 5, and Naomi, closer to 4 than 3, both really like playing this game. They understand that building next to a palace is good. We haven't explained the 3 scoring cards as of yet - there's only so much they can grasp. Even still, they have a good understanding of the game and look forward to flipping over their card. Some serious gamers will find this one too light and too luck-driven (the terrain cards), and that's certainly understandable. For me, however, I have found myself enjoying these lighter games recently. The girls enjoy it; I enjoy it; Ginny enjoys it. This is a game that I think should be in your collection.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Birth Story of Natalie Grace

Obviously, this is a touch late. I worked on this just a couple weeks after the birth of our third daughter, Natalie Grace, but life got me so I never finished it. But here it is. I hope you enjoy!

It's 4:30 a.m. and our alarm is going off. It's time to get up, shower, get dressed and get our things in the car. It's baby having day!

The ride to the hospital only takes us fifteen minutes and it's just after 5:00 a.m. so there's very little traffic on the roads. Daniel and I chat about the process we'll be going through for the morning. Since Naomi's birth was a scheduled c-section we know what to expect this time. We'll be separated for a good hour or more while they prep me in triage.

We arrive at the hospital right at 5:30 a.m. We take the elevator up to floor number two and I'm asked to fill out a little card and told by the woman up front to have a seat and I'll be called back in a few minutes. As we sit in the waiting room I update my status on Facebook because I know everyone wants to know that we're at the hospital. :) About fifteen minutes later we get called back for our insurance cards and chat with the woman in records. She sends me back to the front where another woman tells me she'll take me back to my triage room and Daniel has to go sit up front. They'll bring him back when it's closer to time. We part ways which is always hard. I don't want to go about any of this process alone. The hospital is cold and sterile. While the faces are friendly it's not somewhere I want to spend a lot of my time.

I get to my room and the woman hands me a bag and tells me to remove all my clothing and any jewelry and put it in the bag.
"A nurse will be with you shortly." she says.
"Thank you so much, "I tell her.
Even as uncomfortable as this process is I still put a smile on my face and am friendly to everyone I encounter.

I undress, place my stuff in the bag, lie on the bed and patiently wait. Thankfully, I don't wait long before a nurse comes.
"Good morning," she says.
I reply, "Good morning."
"Who's here with you today?"
"My husband is."
"Before we start, is there anything you need to tell me in confidence?"
"No ma'am."
"Do you feel safe going home? Do you feel safe taking your baby home with you?"
"Yes and yes."
She hooks up the baby heart monitor. These are the last few moments I'll hear Natalie Grace's sweet little heartbeat from my insides. It's been such a joy being able to carry another little person in my belly. While I've been very uncomfortable for the last 10 weeks or so and the weather turned hot on me, it's truly been a joy carrying this precious life inside of me. I know there are so many who can't or won't ever be able to experience what I've experienced in carrying 3 healthy children. This is never far from my mind as I know a few woman personally who have struggled with getting pregnant or never could get pregnant. I am thankful.

Next, what seems like one hundred questions, begins. It's everything from, "Do you have a religion preference?" to "Do you have a living will?"

Dr. Li comes in and asks how I'm doing. I tell her, "I'm good and ready."
"Do you have any questions for me?" she asks.
"Nope, just take care of me." I say.
"I will," she says.
And I believe her. I'm thankful for my doctor and know that she will take care of me. This is our third c-section together so I have every confidence in her.

Dr. Li leaves and the questions continue by one nurse and the other is poking me with a needle to get my IV going and apparently I'm a "bleeder" because out shoots a good amount of blood. I look but quickly turn away. Blood doesn't make me queasy but it was quite a lot and it's just after six in the morning and I've not eaten anything. I think it best to not look at what's going on. And she got it all over my hand, the bed and the floor. So, yeah it was quite a bit.

Finally, my IV is in, some fluids and medicines are starting and the questions are over. I ask when my husband can come back and not long after Daniel arrives in the room. Finally! I have his smiling face next to me and we can chat to pass the time.

Waiting in triage

I can't imagine going through this with any other person. I thank God for him and that he's next to me. We talk about our last guesses of how much and how long Natalie Grace will be. He's sticking with under Nyla's birth weight (she was 9 pounds 8 ounces) and I say she'll be a bit bigger but not ten pounds, though I did dream a couple weeks ago that she was 10 pounds 5 ounces. A nurse comes in and tells us it's almost time. She leaves and I ask Daniel to pray for us, just as I did with the other girls. Tears roll down my face as he's praying. I am so thankful for the spiritual leader of our family and thankful for his words during this time. Tears of anxiousness and excitement. Tears to say goodbye to being a family of 4 and hello to being a family of 5. Life as we know it is about to change. As the time has passed today, the more nervous I've gotten. I know what to expect this time and while knowing ahead of time usually makes me feel more comfortable (I'm an introvert after all), this time it has not. I'm not looking forward to the spinal or the surgery. I'm ready to get it over with and praying I don't have a similar recovery to Naomi's.

It's just before 7:30 a.m. and the time has come. It's time to move into the surgery room. I know Daniel and I have to part ways for another few minutes and this makes me more nervous but I know he'll be by my side before long.

The room is very cold and sterile. I move to a thin, hard table for the surgery. I have to sit back and hunched over to get the spinal. I'm nervous. The anesthesiologist talks with me about what to expect, what I'll feel and the order it all goes in. He's really nice and comforting. It helps a little to have him tell me each step. His assistant does the actual spinal and he keeps talking to me. She presses on my back to find the right spot and this is fairly uncomfortable. The shot to numb the area comes next and it hurts. My nurse, Lindsey, is there next to me. I'm hunched over holding a pillow saying, "ouch ouch ouch." I have a very low tolerance for pain yet I take pregnancy and all that comes with it like a champ. At least I think I do. Next comes the actual spinal. I'm glad I don't see the needle because I expect it's fairly large. I feel quite a bit of pressure from the needle and I'm thankful when it's over. Now I have to lay down and my legs are going numb. It's such an odd sensation. I remember with Naomi I went numb almost instantly and I don't this time and it worries me. I don't want to feel anything and I don't want to get incubated because the spinal doesn't work. Thankfully, it starts to kick in as they're prepping me. The next thing I know the sheet is coming up in front of me, my chest feels heavy and it's hard to take deep breaths. It feels like I have an elephant sitting on top of me. The assistant anesthesiologist pricks me here and there and asks if I can feel anything on different areas of my body. Most importantly, I don't feel below my chest so I know I'm good to go!

He's ready!

Daniel comes in and sits down next to me. I'm thankful for his calming presence. We are ready to meet our baby girl.

Anxiously waiting

I don't hear too much around me. Well, really, I'm blocking it out and trying to talk to Daniel. I want him to distract me so I don't hear anything that scares me or freaks me out. I feel quite a lot of tugging and pulling for a few minutes. I keep thinking Natalie Grace should be here, I don't remember it taking so long with Naomi. Dr. Li says I have a good bit of scar tissue and that's why it's taking a bit longer. Well, that explains it. But soon enough I feel tons of pressure on my chest. It's almost as if someone is sitting on me to pull her out. "You'll feel lots of pressure," someone calls out. I definitely do. Then I hear, "That's a big baby!" And then I hear her cry. There is nothing quite like hearing your baby's first cry. As I did the two times before, I cry tears of joy. Natalie Grace is here. Each girls cry are so very different and I just love that. I know I won't ever really remember exactly what it sounds like, just that it's one of the most beautiful sounds in all the world. Thankful. Grateful. Full. Joyful. Loved. All my emotions hit me at once. This pregnancy is finally over. Natalie Grace is finally here. Praise God for this little life.

She's here and she's beautiful!

Yes, you're reading this right. 11 pounds 9 oz.
We had so many comments on her weight. I would proudly tell people she's not my first 11 pound baby. Naomi was 11 pounds 4 oz. :)

Big girl!