Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Blog's-a-movin!

So. Because I'm not great at frequent updates, I've decided to make a change. Since I was a child, journaling has been so important to me because it provides a way for me to be thankful for what God is doing in my life along with remembering the details of it! If you know me but at all, you'll know my personal memory isn't too sharp. =P So while this space has provided me a place to keep journaling, it's a little more space than I currently need in my currently faster paced life. In comes my love of instagram, where I've been inspired by many an instagrammer.

Instagram is so easy for me to use, i find it fun, and it's an app already on my phone where I can document the little, day to day moments which make up this little life of mine. Call it... my Instablontery (Instagram+blog+documentary). Just made up a new word. Yep! I did. So yes, my (2, maybe 3) friends (but really mama), come and check out my "instablontery!"

You don't have to follow me, although you are completely welcome to! If you are so inclined, you can search for me: My username is yingwilliams. See you there!

A parting picture in honor of our little one who is 3 months today:
Isn't she lovely?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Photoshoot: Aila's First!

Here are just a few shots from Aila's first official photo shoot! 
I took these pictures for Aila's birth announcement. I ended up choosing the one below and I am more than happy with how it turned out. She is such a beautiful subject to shoot!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Plan THIS!

Right after I literally wrote "that's the plan!" in response to my friend who told me to come back to Hawaii on facebook, I opened a book I'm currently reading (which is taking me forever) called "Experiencing God." And in this book, this is what I read/was reminded ever so blatantly:
Yep! God told ME! But isn't that the truth and something to ponder... having plans will make you lose focus on what's really important, which is to trust and serve Him alone. When you have a plan, you get so busy working on ensuring you stay on track, or saving money for it that your mind gets twisted in the details or you may become less generous...  all things that don't expand the Kingdom. All things that don't reveal a Gospel centered heart. 

Of course, God wants us to be wise and have goals as we lead our families, but we must hold these loosely, every day looking to Him for his daily mission which may alter or support our existing plans and goals. Needless to say, who knows what's going to happen about Hawaii? I know that anything could happen as God has complete control over our lives-- but I'm reminded to trust him first because as the chapter is titled, it's all about "Being God's Servant."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Schooled by my Genius.

So. I had to write this post because I was utterly shocked by my 21 month old tonight (oK, so I wrote this post weeks ago- always late, I am! ). And as a proud mom, I give myself the right not only to document my child's amazingness, but also to relish in it.  =P Hehe! God keeps me pretty humble--but in my heart, I know He encourages this healthy pride in us moms (to you moms out there)!  
When Kaliko was just born, my friend Amylynn came over one day and shared that she had this vivid dream about Kaliko. She shared that her dream was about how he became a child genius! From what I remember, I think she said that he walked early (which he did), and that he was overall super smart. At the time, I sarcastically replied with, "Well, of course, he's gonna be a genius!"  Looks like I'm discovering that Amylynn is prophetic! =P

Kaliko surprises me on the daily and I have a million stories about how, but tonight's (and there is another pretty amazing one from the other day) was just jaw-dropping. Here's my current top two:

1. ONE TIME, I talked to Kaliko about how we were planning to visit where Daddy's from-- Hawaii. I told him that we were planning to go to Hawaii and that there were beaches there and that's where Grandma lived. ONCE. Tonight, I noticed Kaliko was looking at his dedication picture which was taken at the church Kahea and I met in.  He pointed at the picture and said, "mommy! daddy!" And I said, "right! and Baby Liko."  Then I proceeded to push further and asked, "Do you know where we were when we took that picture? We took it where daddy is from. Do you know where Daddy is from?" I was fully ready to answer the question for him, when he nonchalantly replied with, "Waii." 

My jaw dropped. I screamed, "YESS!" and kissed my genius pretty fervently. How could this little boy, who heard me say that "Daddy is from Hawaii" ONCE recall that kind of information? Told Kahea about it later on, and he asked again (where is Daddy from?) to double check... and sure enough, Kaliko responded with "HWaii."

2.  Brace yourself for this story. It's a little creepy. So my friend Yvette sent a children's bible to Kaliko and Aila. When we opened the package, I simply said, "Wow, Kaliko! You have a new book!" Nothing else. He proceeded to look through it as my mother and I, ooh'd and ahh'd. The next day, I took the book out to start reading it to him. Before I opened it, I pointed to the picture on the front of the bible (which I simply called a book).  I asked, "Do you know who this is?" Excitedly, Kaliko replied with, "Jesus!!" 

My eyebrows lifted as I tried to recall if I mentioned it, which I was sure I didn't.  I texted my mom right then and there and asked if she talked to Kaliko about the book, in which she said she didn't! I mean, what?! Crazy!! How had he associated this thick book, with a cartoon picture of a man to be Jesus?! Genius.

Now I'm gonna be super proud mom and just list how amazed I am at this little boy's brain at 21 mos:
  • He knows his colors and can count to 10.
  • He knows a shocking number of animals (and their sounds) and the word animals itself: definitely all the farm animals. He even knows insects like ants, fly, bee, butterfly, firefly, etc
  • Fruits? Yep! Even mango, which he pronounces with a soft "g" (so cute!)
  • Names of family and close friends like (Auntie Nikki, Auntie Belle, Stella, Uncle Mike, Abby, etc).  He's even started to learn names of my friends in pictures (Camille, Jess). If he doesn't know your name, he affectionally calls you Auntie, Uncle, or boy. He even says hi and waves to the people walking past our house. I hear him say, "Hi, boy!" pretty often. And he also knows his first and middle name: Judah "Katito!"
  • Character names, mostly the trains from Thomas the Train. From counting off the top of my head, he knows over 20. He also knows Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Pooh, Piglet, and Bob the Builder. 
  • He's learned the difference between boy and girl! He goes through the list of people he knows and we talk about if it's a girl or a boy, and somehow he's figured out the difference! Amazing.
  • Basic vocabulary. He can pretty much point to everyday items and tell you what it is-including but not limited to: chair, clothes, shirt, pants, shoes, flowers, trees, birds, book, out, water, snacks, cookies, cake, rice, chicken, beans, popcorn, berry, etc. 
  • For words he doesn't know, he uses words to associate.  For example, he'll pick up my random bobby pins laying around and say, "mommy. hair." 
  • Many verbs: sit, clean, drive, run, dance, sleeping, cooking. He even goes further to use the verbs as imperative commands... like, "Sit, mommy! or Dance, Bubba! or Move, Oliver!"
  • He understands pretty much everything you say to him, as displayed by his ability to follow directions. He even seems to understand directional words like "behind you, or next to Oliver, or under the couch." 
  • We can read a book once, and the next time we read it (given that it's repetitive like The Very Busy Spider), he knows how each sentence ends.
  • He can sing many songs completely on tune, like Baa Baa Black Sheep and Jesus Loves Me.
  • He's now using 2-3 word sentences: "I did it!" or "Come back, mommy" or "wake up, daddy"
  • Lastly, he knows who gives us everything we have and who we give thanks to (Jesus).
We've been told by several different friends how smart Kaliko is and I've been asked a few times what I do with him. So here's a quick lowdown on how we do "school." 

As an educator, it's ingrained in my mind how a child who comes from a literacy-rich environment will succeed and excel in all subjects at school. Research shows that a child who enters school with a certain number of words (I think it was upwards 2000) and the ability to attend to language both oral and written will better comprehend all given material. Armed with that knowledge and seeing first-hand the differences of kids who come from those homes and their overall well-roundedness caused me to start building my children's library at a pretty early age. Literacy is so important. (Disclaimer-that's not to say that there are exceptions. Of course there are.. but research is pretty clear on the majority).  
[pretty much how his bed looks every night]

Kaliko is not aware that we are learning all the time. He has no idea that he's being schooled on the daily.. that all his fun toys are turned into learning games and comprehension builders. Here's what I do:
  • I intentionally dedicate some time in the day to reteaching/teaching something, whether it be his shapes or numbers, or colors. We'll use whatever he's playing with, or I'll create something to use.
  • We pick out at least 3 books to read before bed. We've done this since he was a newborn. I now choose picture books in addition to reading his simple board books to expose him to more and to ask some harder comprehension questions. He often asks to read the same book twice or three times and can now attend to a Dr. Suess book that has more than 57 pages! This has become a special time for us, and part of our bedtime routine. I reccommend instilling a love of reading in your little ones at an early age. Not only does it help with vocabulary, but it also helps with comprehension, which later on (from research as an educator) allows them to generalize which is an important overall skill in life.
  • We talk to him A LOT. Yes, it's important for him to have his independent play time, too.. but oral language is so important. It helps him to understand that words carry meaning which aids in communication. Obviously, it's better for everyone when your child learns how to communicate his wants and needs, right?
  • We actually do stuff, leave the house, and interact with people. His social development is just as important as his language development. He needs to practice using his language socially to understand the importance. So, we plan play dates, we go to the library, we take him to the store and to the zoo to make sure he's gleaning vocabulary and practicing skills in his social environment. 
Being a teacher has helped me to know and understand the standards that need to be met for each grade level, namely kindergarten, as I prepare my little ones. We are going to start doing more arts and crafts-based activities soon, as we've started drawing and naming simple landscapes (trees, sun, grass, car, etc). His fine motor skills are improving which will help him hold markers and paintbrushes well.
 [ I tried to make a fun numbers toy here where he had to find matching car numbers to parking spaces but he didn't love it so much. He preferred Lolo's game of using it as a ramp for his cars!]
[Building his fine motor skills and independence]

I know he's not like his cousin, Stella Dumapias, M.D. at 2 years old =P, but I think he's pretty special in his acquisition of language and comprehension, not to mention his courageous spirit and awesome physical coordination (boy can kick and throw the ball like no ones business). And don't get me wrong here-- I know that education is not the ultimate measure of success, but I do know that those who are educated and exposed have the tendency to be well-rounded people who may be more enlightened in their thinking with larger perspectives.. which obviously lends to having a higher capacity to be a leader, to be generous, and to understand empathy within the larger scheme of our world. Social development needs to be fostered in these kids as well as "e.q." is becoming more of an intelligence measure than i.q. 
I am obviously one proud mama!

*Wierd Update: So as I was about to "publish" this post (finally), Kahea barged into the room just now and said, "Your son is giving me chills!" He has told me before how he feels like Kaliko is clairvoyant or something because he seems to know all these Thomas characters we don't know about before we know who they are ourselves (he watches all these "guess who" videos.  Anyways, apparently tonight, Kaliko named 5 or 6 of the most obscure, hardly ever mentioned trains in the Thomas and Friends collection-- way before their full faces were even shown. Needless to say, Kahea was blown away! This. is what we're dealing with, guys.  A clairvoyant genius. We are the ones being schooled. =P *

Monday, July 14, 2014

More Freecycled Goodies

All for the kiddies: water table, easel, play structure, and a boatload of cars! 
Lots of savings for me and plenty of fun for the littles. :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Less is More

It's been a while since I've shared any updates on one of my favorite hobbies: designing and styling our home. Because our family was growing, and because Kaliko lost a tooth (already) on the once existing coffee table, and because Kaliko would jump from chair to chair, and... well, you get the picture... I decided to restyle our living room.

In my Aila-nesting days, I did the rehaul. I wanted to turn a vintage-cozy feel of a room into a more modern, spacious kind of room. I wanted less furniture, for the above reasons, but more storage. I still however, wanted the same amount of seating. Soooo, Kahea got his wish of having a sectional in the living room. Although it slightly minimizes the space by blocking off a small area in front of our bay window, I've come to love it's functionality and comfort. Kahea and I can both lay down on each side of the sectional and when my family comes over, we can all fit. Not to mention the covers come off for easy machine washing. Yay! I also got a HUGE mid-century credenza to hide and store all the millions of randomness that may be floating around. Right now, I've got some of Kaliko's toys in there, diapers, wires, blankets, and books. All hidden. Yay! Lastly, I've gotten rid of a coffee table. The more space, the better. 

Here it was before:

[The bottom two are from Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2013]

And here it is now [Summer 2014]:

It's obviously much more spacious, which is really much needed for our very active little man who literally runs in circles almost every day in the center of the livingroom, and for his dad who throws him up in the air and wrestles him to the ground. It's definitely more functional for us and I had so much fun rethinking the design of it all. Here's to family living!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Photoshoot: Fearless Foursome

One of our first outings as a foursome deserves to be captured on 'film', especially as it shows our little man being the fearless boy that he is-- ready to jump on a boat in a big pool of water! Was a nice little outing and one that bonded father and son that much more-- although Kaliko got tired of the boat pretty quickly. =P Happy and excited to be the foursome that we now are!

[West Orange Boat Park]