Lilly got to stay up late last night - until almost 11! We did a "countdown" to "midnight" at 10:30, and Lilly, Jon and I all had sparkling cider in champagne glasses. Lilly was so excited to be a "grown up."
Today, Lilly and I celebrated the first day of 2011 by... doing absolutely nothing. Jon's on call all weekend, and he had do operate most of the day today. So Lilly and I just hung out. She didn't even leave the house. But it was so nice to just spend time together, me and my girl. Mostly she wanted to watch Muppets Take Manhattan. She loves "the pig." And I absolutely love her rendition of "Somebody's Getting Married."
But in between the playing and hanging out and doing nothing-ness, I got to actually think of ways to teach my girl. The issue is, Lilly hates feeling like someone is "teaching" her. Because it means that she doesn't know something, and she doesn't want to feel like that. (She's a teenager, at the age of 4 - she knows everything.) So I have to get creative when teaching her new things.
We were coloring, and I decided to make new flashcards for her - which I do often for various things she needs to learn. We've made a gazillion color cards by now, and she's finally learning them! And we focus on the ABC's a ton as well, and she knows all her upper cases almost perfectly. But today, I made shape cards. I haven't really focused a lot on shapes - except she knows circles really well and can draw them. Lilly loves playing with all kinds of "cards" but the problem with ones we buy (although she loves them) are that they are too distracting. For example, we have shape cards where the circle is blue, the square is orange, etc. Or Elmo is holding the circle, Grover is holding the square, etc. The issue is that there are too many things to identify - I can show her the circle and she will want to tell me it's blue or tell me Elmo is on the card. But, today with the cards I made myself, I did every shape in the same color. That way, all she has to do is look at the shape itself. I also write the shape name under the shape itself - Lilly is getting good at sight reading/identification, and it's an extra help to teach her what she's looking at. Finally, I make two of every card - because when we're doing something for the first time, it's easier to match than to just identify it (and it takes the pressure off Lilly a little, which makes her want to do the activity more). Even as she matches them, I say the name and she repeats it so that she's getting it somehow and it becomes more familiar.
So I made cards for circle, square, diamond, oval, triangle, rectangle, and star. She actually did these really well, so she must have picked these up when we've done other shape things along the way. I was actually surprised when I was organizing the cards and she picked up the oval and said "oval." And knew the others easily as well.
Then when we went through all the cards for awhile, I made number cards, 1 through 10. Again, she knows these kind-of, but not totally accurately so it was nice to have duplicate cards for matching, and she can definitely count to 10 (actually, 20 now). She is so good at her alphabet letters, so it's good for her to focus on recognizing the numbers as well.
Anyways, that's probably all boring for anyone who is not directly interested but I'm definitely proud of Lilly and I for putting our day to good use for some learning, and glad now that I actually have time to think about more ways to encourage and motivate her. I'm always so impressed by how she picks up things.
And along the lines of kind-of-boring-but-I'm-proud-of-myself-ness, I made vegetarian Shepherd's pie tonight from scratch. It was so super delicious, even though I used every pot and pan we own, and it took 2 hours. Timing actually worked out because Lilly went to bed before it was ready (after eating her own dinner of organic fish nuggets, actually - not from scratch - but proud again because it's only her second time ever eating fish) because she hadn't napped, so Jon and I actually got to enjoy a meal without Muppets or Princess Tiana (not that I'm complaining...).
And, I'm really impressed that when cooking from scratch I save so much money in groceries, I know exactly what is in the food we're eating, and it's all (relatively) healthy.
Happy first day of 2011. I think this is going to be a good year for us.