This is what I have been doing.

The funny thing is that I have seven kids, and before this week I had never dyed pasta with food coloring before.  But it’s “N” week for my co-op preschool class and we are going to string necklaces.  I debated calling the noodles “macaroni” and using them for “M” week, but noodle necklaces have the double “N” and I think that really works better.

This homeschool co-op and my little preschool class have really taken over my brain and much of my time since we began last fall.  In almost eight years of homeschooling, we’ve never participated in something like this and it’s been quite an adjustment.  I am hoping that eventually the getting prepared, going to, and then recovering from co-op, will stop feeling like quite such an ordeal at some point.  But then, it might not.  On co-op day we have to be up a couple of hours earlier than usual, not to mention out the door with books, pencils, snacks, lunches, decent clothing, and tidy hair.

And then there are my preschool supplies, mainly art supplies and Montessori inspired activities that I tote in bins to and from co-op each week.  To give myself some structure I am following, or rather creating, a letter of the week plan.  I make this slightly funny bulletin board up each week to support that.  Each week I print up coloring pages, and then I color them.  (Yes, I realize that there is something a little ridiculous about that.)  Next up they get laminated and pinned to my cork board.  There was a novelty to all that coloring at first, but it quickly wore off.  But what am I going to do?  I don’t have a color printer, and the kids really like my boards!  It’s the same every week: the letter itself, a letter themed coloring page from this site, a Jan Brett letter tracing page, a seek and find (the kids LOVE these), and a saint whose name begins with the letter.  I started out very ambitious, coloring one of the beautiful iconic style saints from this amazing stained glass saint coloring book each week. That took awhile though, and I’ve started laminating pages from this Alphabet of Catholic Saints instead, because our copy is falling apart anyway.

I try to find an open ended or process based art activity for each week that begins with our letter.  It hasn’t totally worked out though because I can’t always think of something.  For instance, letters “J” and “K” were combined in one week and while I have some ideas now for next year, I couldn’t think of anything at the time.  A friend told me that we should just do “Jrawing with Kulors” and I’d be fine.  I think that’s about what we did.  Thankfully, the kids love it when I supply them with simple blank notecards, scissors, tape, stickers, and some sort of crayons or colored pencil, often crayon rocks,which they love.  (Look-there’s a special Valentine’s day box of them!)

Anyway, this is what I have been doing:  coloring, making play dough, choosing books to read to the kids, and all sorts of preschool-y things while wondering just how to fit it all in along with everything else that makes up our days.  It’s good though; I think this is all very good, and just what I am supposed to be doing right now.

One Year Old

Job does not like his birthday crown (what one year old does?) nor does he like pumpkin pie.  Of course I baked fresh pumpkins and borrowed a secret family recipe from a friend.  He’s a November baby!  I also spent a ridiculous amount of time creating that crown, knowing full well that Job would cast it off his head as quickly as he could.  Actually, I wanted to do a bunch of decorating too, but there just wasn’t time.  It was all I could do to make our house “company ready.”  Jonny questioned why I was wanting everything to be so perfect.  Well, Job might be our last baby (though you never know.)  This may have been our last time celebrating the first birthday of one of our children.  I built it up a little too much in my head.  But thank goodness for reality.  Birthdays are a celebration of life.  And that is what we did.

What I really wanted most, more than a clean house and pretty decorations, was to celebrate Job’s birthday with our family and his godparents.  His godmother is my friend, and the midwife who attended his birth.  His birth was such a traumatic experience for both of us, and to celebrate his first year together, I think we needed that.  And that is the part of the day that Job enjoyed most, being the center of attention, though at times he almost didn’t know what to think.  The look on his face as we all sang, “Happy Birthday” was kind of hilarious.  He almost looked alarmed!  “Why are you all staring at me and singing?  Aaaah!”  But mostly he had such a great time, even though we partied past his bedtime.

I came across some copies the boys must have made of Job’s hands and feet.  Despite the fact that my kids have made numerous copies of their hands over the years, there is something special about these.  I guess it’s remembering the intensity of those early days with Job.  Jonny and I were a little shocked, and we never got around to making tiny newborn prints of his hands and feet like we have with all of our other babies.  For Job, I will tuck these copies in his file.  His hands and feet at age 1.  Still small and precious.  Always a miracle.

p.s.  Do you want to know about the gifts?  I got rid of most of our toys a few years ago and have hardly anything for older babies/toddlers, and I am so picky now about what we buy.  At first I was only going to make a sweater, ball, and quilt.  Well, the sweater and ball were finished, but not the quilt!  I’ll work on it soon.  I did end up buying a few gifts, and his godparents, Parveen and Andy, bought Job a couple of wonderful things as well!  Job really enjoys music so I bought him wooden shaker eggs and a little xylophone.  Both were a hit.  I also bought a “forest friends” wooden book and he likes it, but really I bought that kind of for myself.  I wouldn’t have been upset if he didn’t give it a second glance.  It’s so pretty! From Parveen and Andy, Job received this crazy adorable hedgehog wheely toy.  I have never seen anything like it and Job LOVES it!  He also loves the pop-up toy they gave him.  He had such a fun time playing with his toys and being doted upon by those who love him!
Oh–and the crown. I like the simple pattern in The Creative Family and always (mostly) follow it for birthday crowns.