Sunday, January 6, 2013

Happy New Year!

Whew!  I'm not sure how, but the month of December has flown past and it's already 2013...  The last month of 2012 was a busy but good one here at the House of Cockrell.  We had a lot of  Christmas prep to do, Mark worked a lot of overtime, I was able to slip away for a girls' day out, we added a new puppy, Rosie the pug, to the household, the kids and I had a horrific stomach virus and apparently gave it to almost everyone except Mark, we took her royal highness, the crowned princess of the House of Cockrell for her first haircut at the beauty shop, and of course, Christmas!!!  So here we are now on the other side of New Year's Eve.  I'm looking at the calendar and wondering at how the princess's second birthday is just two months away and her knight in shining armor big brother's fifth is just two weeks after!  I could reflect and look back at how it's amazing that Mark and I have come this far in the nearly eight years we've been married, but I did enough of that last time and I don't want to bore you again...  Instead, I'm going to focus on what I'm looking forward to this year.  Mark and I don't make resolutions, but we are excited and ready for what this year will bring here at the House of Cockrell, Arkansas Division.  First off, we are looking forward to a much anticipated vacation in less than two weeks! (Not that we're counting...)  We have never actually taken a full-on family vacation, unless you count the year we went to Florida but Mark was only able to stay three days and then flew back home by himself because he had to work, and frankly, we don't because that was just depressing.  Lol!  Anyway, we haven't ever taken a vacation together and we are extremely excited to get to do so with the kids.  We'd like to say a special thanks to MaMa and PaPa for making it possible!  We are planning to see a few Florida sights and do some special things with the kids, but most of all, we are looking forward to the time together and with our extended family, Florida Division!  I will definitely be posting again to give everyone the highlights; MaMa and PaPa's house, the beach, manatees, Disney, and the T-Rex restaurant!  That's our knight in shining armor's mantra every night.  He can't wait!

Another thing I'm really excited about this year is the knight's school work.  We have been working since August on a home school Kindergarten curriculum.  We've used it as a preschool, and he picked up on it super fast and has been making leaps and bounds!  We've covered nearly half the alphabet and we've done some really cool things.  For example, we made leaf rubbings and painted leaf outlines, which are now part of our living room decoration.  We have done science experiments like turning grapes into raisins using the sun's energy, charted the phases of the moon, made our own applesauce, studied various types of birds' nests, and most recently we are working on a chart listing liquids, solids, and gases while we study forms of water and the water cycle.  We also have a bulletin board in the living room that we change periodically.  It has been a weather chart, a pictograph of apple types, an ocean mural complete with star fish and a blue-ringed octopus, a web diagram of animal homes, and is currently stripped down and getting ready to be a chart of the water cycle.  The knight has written multiple stories that he has made into books, my personal favorites being, "Apatosaurus Nature" and "Dinosaur History of What Dinosaurs Eat," when our weekly unit was, what else - Dinosaur!  (I was actually the student that week, because this kid knows more about dinosaurs than anyone else I know.)  He loves doing his work and has several "papers" to complete each week, his favorite being his math page.  Oh yeah, and did I mention he can READ!!!!!!  He is now reading CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words like sun, nut, mom, dad, mad, doll, sat... You get the picture.  We've covered all the short vowel sounds except i and e, which are coming up soon.  He was hesitant to learn at first because he was convinced if he learned to read, Mark and I would stop reading to him.  Once we explained we would still read to him, he was a little more enthusiastic and I've overheard him several times sounding out words in his books and coloring books on his own when he thinks no one can hear.  Anyway, back to my point, I am really excited about where school is going to take us this spring and Mark and I are already looking at curriculum for next year when he will really be school age.  I'm really excited to get more in-depth with some things and for his growing love of learning things, but I have to admit I'm a little nervous that he will actually be in Kindergarten this fall!  Luckily, I'm keeping a portfolio this year, so maybe the record keeping won't be too daunting next year.  While the knight is working, the princess spends her time drawing, painting, or playing PlayDoh.  She is actually really good with water colors and will spend a good half hour keeping busy on her own with PlayDoh, which is amazing for her!  She is already showing musical potential and loves to sing and play on the piano.  She sings several songs and while she doesn't have all the words, she has the tunes down perfectly!  I'm thinking that music lessons are definitely on the horizon!  Her favorite things to listen to range from her first loves, Adele and Joni Mitchell, to Simon and Garfunkel, who, when Mark pulls them up on YouTube, she calls "the guys."  They both love listening to music and while the princess is more appreciative of the actual music and rhythm, the knight loves to sing and picks up lyrics very quickly.  His favorite is the ever legendary Bob Dylan, who he loves to accompany with his own harmonica (thanks again Pops)!  He also loves Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Fun, and always asks me to sing Don McLean to him at night.  (Not American Pie, the one about Vincent Van Gogh, even though I never remember all the words...)  Anyway, in a nutshell, we're looking forward to watching the kids grow, their shoes get bigger, their independence get stronger, their insights expand, and we're ready and glad to be surprised at what they know, feel, think, and comprehend every day.  Despite the sleepless nights, the occasional or sometimes frequent whining, the sibling arguments and squabbles, the constantly messy house, and the lack of "alone" time, the best thing about the coming year is that we get to spend it together with the kids.  There are a lot of other things we're looking forward to this year; spring, flower planting, hiking, visiting the river and creeks, bike riding, and some more grown up things like paying off our second car, paying off Mark's final student loan, having the kids' birthday parties, celebrating our eighth wedding anniversary, and other exciting landmarks and good things.  Overall, we're ready for a good year and we're glad we're able to share it with all of you!!  From all of us to you, we hope your year is as good as we hope ours will be!  Keep an eye on your inbox and we'll send you an update of our vacation highlights and I am also going to try to fit in a post of more school related things.  In the meantime, sunshine state, here we come!