Still Playing School: September 2012

A Rainbow Pregnancy - 30 Weeks

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: , 1 Comment
This weekend, we'll be 30 weeks pregnant.

Someone asked me this past week if my pregnancy has been an anxious one.  In all honestly, it hasn't been too bad.

I know D doesn't have the same diagnosis that V did.  I know that if he had something else that concerned the Maternal Fetal Medicine doctors, we would have known.  The very best eyes who we trusted with both our girls (Yes, we had to go to MFM a few times for ultrasounds with E, too.  We have never had a stress free pregnancy.) have looked at our boy.  He is healthy.

At the same time, I expect the anxiety to come when we bring him home.  I will be scared of SIDS the same way that I'm scared that E will choke.  I know now that no matter how fiercely you love your kids and try to protect them, there are elements beyond your control as a parent.  That fear will never go away.  With postpartum hormones, I'm sure I'll be a really fun roller coaster of emotions.

Last night my husband worked late and E was in bed.  Alone, I was really missing V and wanting D to just be here already.  The waiting is getting a bit difficult, especially with V's birthday approaching.  At the same time, I am cherishing every day left where it's just me and my best buddy E.  She's so excited for her brother, too.  It will be such a beautiful transition to bring him home.

So that is where we are as we approach the final trimester of our rainbow pregnancy.  Not anxious yet, just hopeful, and ready to meet our little guy.

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Apple Theme Summary

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 1 Comment

My goals for our apple theme were for E to learn:
- Apples grow in trees.
- They can be red, yellow, or green.
- The names of some products we make from apples: apple pie, apple sauce, apple crisp, apple juice, apple cider.
- The properties of apples: how they taste, smell, feel, sound, look.

We started off at the apple orchard to pick apples then we journaled about our trip.

We read apple themed fiction and non-fiction books.  After reading Ten Apples Up On Top, E drew a self portrait with apples on her head!

We read Scholastic magazines about apples.

E practiced a lot of real life cooking skills by making apple cheddar biscuits and apple crisp with Nana and Gramps.  Please notice the sticker on Gramp's head.

We sorted apples that I made out of foam by color.  I also introduced patterns with these.

We did lots of pretend play with making apple pies.

We made apple print artwork with friends.

We made apple pie scented play dough in red and green.

We made an apple tree with her hands and feet.

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The Little Pink Peony Giveaway

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 9 Comments

I met Danielle from The Little Pink Peony when both of our daughters were attending the same Kindermusik program.  In her own words, "The Little Pink Peony is a handmade clothing boutique specializing in comfortable & modern fashions for girls. All garments sold are made with a high attention to detail and a lot of love! All clothing is 100% handmade with finished seams and quality construction for lasting wear."

After growing up watching her mother sew clothing for her and her brother and her dolls, Danielle now uses sewing as a way to carve some time for herself out of the busy life she leads raising her one-year-old daughter, Gracie.  She describes her style of clothing as comfy and cute, not frilly.

Perfect for E:

She LOVES the colors, of course!

I love the detail of the little bows on the sleeves!

And a blurry action shot!

Daielle generously gifted E this dress for us to write this review, but all opinions are completely my own. Also, I was not additionally compensated in any way for this review/giveaway.  After this photo shoot, E played outside in her dress, went for a walk, and drew with sidewalk chalk.  Not only is it comfortable and adorable, but she loves wearing it and I know the chalk will wash right out of it!  Thanks, Danielle!  This will be a wardrobe favorite this fall!

The Little Pink Peony welcomes custom orders.  E is tall and thin, so we did a 2T size with a 3T length.  It fits perfectly!

Danielle is offering one lucky reader a $20 store credit to her shop.  The winner can either use it towards a custom piece or purchase one of the items listed in The Little Pink Peony's etsy shop.  You can also check out her Facebook page for occasional coupon codes (Psst, there is one up now!) and LIKE the page for more entries in our giveaway!

I think this is my favorite listing currently in the shop!  One way to enter our giveaway is to leave a comment here telling us which shop listing you love the most!

To enter, you will click below on all the ways you want to participate/enter. Then you MUST COMPLETE THESE ACTIONS (for example, if you click that you are going to get 3 entries for sharing this giveaway on Facebook, you must then go to your Facebook and share this link. If you are entering by leaving a blog comment as well, you must then return to this post and leave an actual comment on it.) The more actions you complete, the more entries you receive.

When a winner is drawn, I will VERIFY that the entry that won (for example, Judy won for liking Still Playing School on Facebook) is valid by checking (that Judy IS a fan of ours on Facebook). If she is not, I will select a new winner.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Fall Play & Learn Classes

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 1 Comment
Today we attended the fall version of the Play & Learn classes that I piloted last spring through Kindermusik with Carol Anne Friesen.  I handed the torch over to Miss Pam for the fall since we will be welcoming baby D before we know it.

The theme today was all about sponges, cleaning, and helping around the home.

We painted and stamped with chocolate pudding and sponges cut into shapes.

We made our own scrubbies and bathed our babies.  This was E's favorite center.  Watch out baby D, you'll be very clean!

We played in water seeing what would sink and what would float.  E enjoyed washing apples, a potato, and a gourd.

Miss Pam finished  by reading a Barefoot Book titled Bear at Home.

We are excited about the apple theme in October!

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Contemplating Beliefs

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 2 Comments
I don't have a lot of firm beliefs in where Violet may have gone but I feel she still exists in some way.  There are times when I feel closer to her than others.  I have also had the most profound spiritual experiences of my life since she's been a part of it, including this one here and one I plan to write about later this week, and one that I would love to share with you privately if you ask.

I guess I would put myself in the agnostic category, because I am very comfortable with not knowing.  I will experience whatever is next when I die and that's enough for me.  I don't believe we are capable of understanding what is waiting for us until we get there and that's okay.

I would also say that I identify with pantheism, which is less of a belief in an individual god and more of an idea that we are all one in some way.  Perhaps we'll be reunited, but I don't know whether I'll recognize Violet as an individual or if she will just be a part of me as she once was or if I will even be able to identify myself as separate from everything else at that point.

I can't ever watch this video without being moved, sometimes to tears:

It is empowering, necessary, and a bit scary to put this out there.  For the past several years I have been increasingly comfortable "coming out" in our predominantly Christian society.  I have found friends who have similar beliefs.  I have had the majority of my friends and family support my beliefs with an open mind regardless of theirs.  I've had wonderful and invigorating conversations.  I've also had some people question my beliefs and choices as a parent.  I realize this is done based on what they believe, but it still is hurtful.  All I want is the same respect you would give me if I chose one of the world's most popular religions: Chrsitian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish.

Just as I feel the need to talk about my grief not only because it is cathartic for me, but because it lets others know what one bereaved parent looks like, I also am driven to begin to speak more openly about my spirituality so that less people will assume that everyone around them holds the same beliefs.  I welcome conversations with those closest to me regarding this subject.
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Still Standing's Poetry Sunday

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: , 1 Comment
Today my poetry and a beautiful picture of my two girls is featured over at Still Standing's Poetry Sundays!

I'm honored to be a part of this amazing publication.
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Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: Be the first to comment!
I have great news!  I don't have gestational diabetes!  I had it with V, so they tested me 3 times this pregnancy and I am in the clear.  I can have fall desserts and birthday cake for several family birthdays in the next few months and lovely, lovely caffeine occasionally.  Starbuck's salted caramel mocha is a huge craving right now.

To celebrate, here is one of my favorite cookie recipes that my mother-in-law makes.  They are just crunchy enough and great with milk.

Washington Cookies (We aren't sure why they are called that.) or Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup margarine
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups oats
1 pkg. chocolate chips

Whisk flour, soda and salt together. Cream margarine and sugar in mixer. Add vanilla, then eggs and mix well. Stir in dry ingredients. Add oats. You might want to mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts by hand at the end so they don't get broken up. Drop by tablespoon onto cookie sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes at 350.

Makes about 6 dozen.
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What We Want

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: , 3 Comments
This is a very hard post to write.  In our culture, we are expected to deal with many things without asking for help.  That makes it awkward when someone you care about is facing a trial in life. Should you jump in and do the things you think they want?  Should you stay quiet and hope they know you're there for them?  Should you give the well meaning but often unanswered, "Call me if/when you need anything?"

So I am doing what I want you to do when you need me.  Because everyone grieves differently I am asking, specifically, for what our family would like leading up to Violet's first birthday, as we add baby D to our family, and in the future.

Most of all, we want her to be remembered.

We want to talk about her.  We love when you bring her up just as you would E or D.

We want to celebrate her.  We plan to have a special day together, just the 3 of us, on her birthday, but we welcome your love in remembering her, too.  We will have a cake and make it a "typical" birthday celebration in E's eyes, but we will also be celebrating the fact that we've survived the year.  We are stronger and more in love because she lived.

We had Random Act of Kindness cards made up with Violet's picture on them.  The idea (from another grieving mom and friend of mine) is that anyone who would like to participate can do something kind for someone else on Violet's birthday (November 2nd) and give them the card which hopefully they will pass on to someone else with more kindness and love.  Then we are going to track all the love that was passed on in honor of our sweet girl here at my blog.

We want to know if you cry, laugh, smile thinking about her.  We love when you send us pictures, texts, and messages letting us know what reminded you of her.

We want pictures and mementos of her in our home.  We welcome your additions to this and we would love if you'd like to remember her in these ways, too.

We want you to feel free to continue to tell us any memories you may have of our time with her, including the pregnancy or your thoughts when she was born whether you met her or not.  We cherish the letters some of you have written about her because we can always read them.  Our memories are sometimes foggy because of the shock of what we were experiencing.  We can pass these letters on to E and D.

We want you to include her when you talk about our family.  We do every day.  E draws her in pictures.  She talks about her new brother AND her sister.   We have three children, not two.

We want you to understand that E is processing this as she grows and D will, too.  E is learning what dying means which is painful but necessary in her little world right now.  We are trying to support her and make this as healthy as possible by seeking the advice of professionals as we walk this journey with her (and D, eventually, too).

I know this isn't always easy, but every day we are missing her.  All of these things are ways you can make that hurt less for our family.  Please don't be afraid of making us sad.  We are much more sad when we feel like we can only talk about her privately.
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Update on Our Apple Theme

September is flying by (If the rest of the fall is like this baby D will be here before we know it!) and we are studying apples.  I have found that a monthly theme (rather than biweekly) is working out best.  We have also started library story time and dance class so we are busy!

A few weeks ago, I participated in a Scholastic Magazine focus group and in exchange, we got subscriptions to Clifford and Let's Find Out magazines along with some other goodies!

I loved using the Let's Find Out magazine when I taught kindergarten, so I jumped right in to using the Scholastic Magazines with E.  This month, they covered apples, which was perfect for our homeschool preschool theme!

We learned about apple trees and how they change through the seasons. 

We have also been using Handwriting Without Tears techniques to correct E's pencil grip.  It's working so well!

I am not being asked to write about these products by HWT or Scholastic.  I am choosing to do so because I love them as a teacher and a mom!  

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Perfection in Paint

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 3 Comments
My brother (who is also one of my best friends) and parents came out to see us today.  A few weeks ago, he had told me that he had commissioned a painting for us in memory of Violet from the talented Samantha Shannon, an artist he knows.

At the time, I was touched that he would think to do something like this for us.  I also welcomed the anticipation of receiving the gift, much like I did when Jamie's Butterfly Kisses was working on our quilt for Violet. It's hard to explain, but knowing something representing our girl is in the works or on its way to us is comforting to me.

When I opened it, tears came immediately because I can't quite put into words the perfection of it.  The rainbow, the flower, the silver and font of her name, the fact that her birthday is represented because she lived.  She was born.  If I was talented enough to paint, I couldn't have designed this better myself as her mother.  It encompasses all of her being in a way I can't explain.  When I look at it, I just see her.

Perhaps part of what makes it so special is that these unique gifts are pieces of her that continue to fill our home and hearts.  A bit of her to add, to see as we go about our daily lives without her.  We can't take any more pictures or form any more memories with her so these representations replace those in a way.

When someone else thinks to make or find or get one for us because they miss and love her, too, well that's just the best gift of all.  Thank you, Uncle Andy, Nana, and Gramps.
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Journal Writing - An Introduction

Today we went apple picking to start off our apple unit!  We wrote about our trip in our journal.  This was our first time journal writing together.

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Strasen Designs Giveaway

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: , 8 Comments
Not only did Bekah generously make Violet's Random Act of Kindness cards to help us celebrate her first birthday, but now her Etsy shop, Strasen Designs, is back with a giveaway for my readers!

Bekah is a fellow baby loss momma, which is how we "met."  She is also a talented graphic designer and artist with an impressive resume.  She loves to do custom work in order for you to get exactly what you want/need!  Her shop features monograms, invitations (I especially love the zombie and the rainbow ones!), logos, party decorations, and these birth stats wall art pieces:

One lucky reader will win a a printable JPEG image with their child's birth stats on it, complete with custom colors of your choosing.  You can check out this listing to see what colors and styles are available.  

Just to clear up some confusion that we had last time we did a giveaway with Rafflecopter:
To enter, you will click below on all the ways you want to participate/enter.  Then you MUST COMPLETE THESE ACTIONS (for example, if you click that you are going to get 3 entries for sharing this giveaway on Facebook, you must then go to your Facebook and share this link.  If you are entering by leaving a blog comment as well, you must then return to this post and leave an actual comment on it.)  The more actions you complete, the more entries you receive.

When a winner is drawn, I will VERIFY that the entry that won (for example, Judy won for liking Still Playing School on Facebook) is valid by checking (that Judy IS a fan of ours on Facebook).  If she is not, I will select a new winner.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Berks Kids Closet Consignment Sale

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: Be the first to comment!
Just a reminder that the Berks Kids Closet Consignment sale is THIS Saturday, September 8th from 8 - 2 at the Lebanon Expo Center.  

They are still in NEED of volunteers for the day of the sale.  If you volunteer on Saturday, you may shop at the pre-sale Friday night from 5:30-9pm!  To volunteer, email Judy!

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Farm Theme Summary

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 2 Comments

My intention for each homeschool preschool theme that we study is to have a science/social studies starting point.  I will weave literacy and math into each concept.

My goals for our farm theme were for E to learn:
- Animals that live on a farm
- Some tasks that take place on a farm
- The names of some baby farm animals (piglet, chick, duckling, calf)
- What products we get from some specific farm animals (milk, eggs, wool)  She also added that she thinks we get candy from the bunnies we saw at the fair! (Relating this to the Easter Bunny, I imagine.)

We started  off with a trip to the county fair.  From this visit, we made a predictable text book.

We found farm themed computer games to play and farm videos to watch together.

We made a farm sensory bin with coffee grounds.  Farmers get up early, right?

We read farm themed fiction and non-fiction books.

We played our This Little Piggy board game, learning to take turns and win and lose.

We tried to make these adorable Cheerio snack sheep, but it was a fail of Pinstrosity proportions.  Luckily, my girl is not yet a food critic and we still had fun making them!  

We sorted animals by size and did a worksheet where we colored baby animals to match their mommas.

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