Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On Your Mark, Get Set, TALK!

The following blog is written by my mom, Karen Montgomery. She will be guest posting regularly. She has a passion for education and will offer both teachers and moms lots of helpful insight on education. Enjoy!

For 10 years I worked for a large publisher. I was in classrooms all across America and I saw some pretty amazing teachers and practices. I also had a unique opportunity to study under Dr. Carolyn Brown while promoting her program, Breakthrough to Literacy. Brown's areas of specialization are Child Development, Language Acquisition, and Reading. My experiences and studies have helped me form some strong opinions about how children learn. I hope you’ll join me each Tuesday as I “guest blog” and share some of my ideas and best practices. The ideas I plan to share are things that you’ll be able to do with your very own children! The late Whitney Houston sang, “…teach them well and let them lead the way.” I say, “Let’s do it!”
Simplistically speaking, comprehension is an understanding of what we hear (spoken sentences & words, etc.) and see (written sentences & words, symbols, gestures, etc.). There are other things that build intellectual capacity like smelling and touching but, I think you get the idea without going into too much detail. Comprehension begins very soon after a child is born and believe it or not, children receive and understand information long before they can express what they know in words. Wouldn’t you agree, when you call your child’s name, they know to look right at you, smile, and respond with kicking feet? Umm, they understand.
So, the first advice from me is to build their comprehension with dialogue. Children can take in a mountain of words, but they must also practice using the words and concepts that they’re learning. This practice happens in conversation. You will help your child make sense of their world by having “talks.” Don’t just read the book, ask some questions about it. Ask your child about their day and repeat the sequence back to them. Talk about what they’re building, playing, reading, etc. I know you’re thinking by now that your child talks nonstop and talking is not an issue in your home. But, what I want you to do is a bit different from what you’re thinking. I want you to have a purposeful conversation each day. I want you to laugh, cry, explain, listen, and enjoy this exchange of dialogue. Both of you will talk and both of you will listen. There is huge research that supports this idea and I’ll leave it up to you to look it up (Hart & Risley, Meaningful Differences). Let me know your observations after a few tries.
And, until next time…on your mark, get set, TALK!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sunday Recap

This Sunday we continued with our series UNSTOPPABLE. At WEC, we had an incredible day! Stuart entitled his sermon "Here's Your Sign". Ha! I like that! He talked about three things that hinder us from being UNSTOPPABLE. 1. Distractions 2. Self 3. Opposition.

God really spoke to me about allowing distractions to get in the way and keep me from being UNSTOPPABLE from the mission that God has set before me. I am the type of person that gets distracted in the little things and the big things. I may go into my bedroom to vacuum, but before you know it I am organizing drawers and cabinets. I get distracted from my mission! I am the type of person that runs situations and scenarios through my mind a thousand times which cause me to be distracted! Stuart said, "Distractions are a plot to harm us." I am determined this week to be UNSTOPPABLE, I want to be focused on the mission God has set before me!

We also had baptisms all day at WEC yesterday. It is so amazing to see lives being changed. And, Stuart announced the location of our 3rd Campus in Newport News. You really can't get any better than that. I really don't know how we fit all of than into a 55 minute service!

On a side note, Brayden's travel ball team played two games yesterday and we won both of them. This was huge because one of the teams we have played many times before and never won against them. GO RENEGADES!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tea Party

We had a tea party recently. My mom and I have been dying to have a tea party for years. Finally, my girls wanted one! I just wanted to show you some of the highlights of the party. My mom decorated the tables. They were beautiful. We had a "photo booth" for the girls to be able to take garden like photos. The girls had to dress fancy and have fancy hair. How fun is that! They also decorated picture frames. We will print out the photos and send them to the girls to put in their frames. What a day.

The tables were decorated with beautiful turquoise and purple fabric. My mom made the centerpieces that you see. I always love to use my little butterfly napkins when I can. We layered the table with small plates and tea cups!

We used real silver to serve the kids sweet tea and apple juice. We had yogurt with fruit on the side. I bought these little white plates that are divided down the middle from World Market. They worked perfectly for the yogurt and fruit. The pink and purple candies are peanut butter candies. My mom made them and I will let her post soon on how to make these! Lastly, that little flower is dessert! My mom made these...aren't they absolutely adorable? It is a layered dessert...cookies on the bottom, ice cream, whipped icing and then the beautiful flower is made of peeps that are cut up! Awesome, aren't they? I will have her post a step by step process soon!
The girls made a craft. They made picture frames for one of the pictures that I am going to print out for them. I covered the table with wrapping paper. It turned out really cute and made clean up really easy! The girls used pom poms, buttons, ribbon, and jewels to make some amazing picture frames that I bought from Michaels.

We ended the party with a photo booth. I borrowed an arch for the girls and decorated it with flowers from the dollar store. I took fabric and hung it up as a backdrop. We provided some fun props for the girls and they loved it.
Isn't this last picture adorable....gotta love American Girl Dolls!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Emma is 9 today

Today is the day! Emma is 9 years old. I will never forget that day. I was laying on the bed watching Oprah Winfrey and we were getting ready to go to Stuart's mom's house to eat spaghetti. Stuart came upstairs right at 5:00 because he was working from home (he did not have an office because we were just 3 weeks away from having our first WEC service open to the public). I sat up and I said, "Um, I think that my water just broke." Since we had done the freak out thing during our first delivery, we were a bit more calm. We called our family and waited for someone to come take care of Brayden. We arrived at the hospital at 7:00. I wasn't even having contractions at that point! The doctor came in and said, "It looks like it is going to be awhile." Then all of a sudden I started feeling...pressure. The nurse came in and said, "Well, I had better get the doctor." One push and little Miss Emma was born.

Emma is such an amazing girl. She is, as my friend calls her "an old soul." I joke sometimes that she is more mature than I am. She is soooo much like her father in many, many ways. But, she also has some of my traits too. She is a Christ follower, she is very artistic, she is determined, she is kind, she is polite, she is responsible, she is beautiful, she is smart, she is patient, and she does everything with excellence. My list of the things that I love about her could go on and on. I love her so much and feel so blessed to be her mom. (tear) I love the young lady that she is becoming. I pray every day that she will love and serve God all the days of her life.

Thank you God for giving Emma to me!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Recap

This Sunday we started a new series at WEC. It is called UNSTOPPABLE! The theme verse for this se
ries is Acts 4:20,

"As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

When Stuart read this verse,instantly I got all fired up. At Waters Edge Church we have seen and heard so much that have no choice but to be UNSTOPPABLE. God has done so many amazing things in our church and in all of our lives individually. I was trying to think through why so many of us do not daily live out this verse. I think that often times we do not recognize all of the things that God has done. You know what I am talking about. Not just the biggies, but the little daily things. If we can always keep in the forefront of our mind his great and miraculous works in our church and in our lives it will propel us to be UNSTOPPABLE!

Stuart also announced that this week is Love Week. I am so excited that our family will have the opportunity to show our community Christ's love. My favorite quote of the day was, "People will not care that you believe until they believe that you care." This week, Waters Edge Church is about to rock the peninsula and show them that they care!

We are so blessed to be a part of this UNSTOPPABLE movement of God!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Batter Up!

My friend Lauren and I are planning a baseball themed baby shower. I am so excited. It reminded me of this meeting that I did for the ladies that I work with. It was a baseball themed staff meeting. The baby shower that we are going to do will be much more themed out, I promise and I can't wait to share it with you. But for now I wanted to share with you my first attempt at a baseball theme.
This was the table:

I went to a hardware store and bought that indoor/outdoor carpet. They make great placemats. I cut them into squares and hot glued the sides so that it wouldn't fray!

These were the desserts that I made. They are cakeball baseballs and then I made baseball bats out of pretzels, white chocolate and red hots. How cute are these!
There are so many things that you can do with this theme!

What party themes have you enjoyed throwing?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day!

Cupid has arrived at the Hodges house! I just love Valentine's Day. I know that a lot of people do not like it, but I love showing my love to others on this day. In our house we have a little tradition. Stuart and I always leave a trail of M & M's from the kids' bedrooms to our bedroom. The trail always leads to a little love gift from us. So, this year is our first Valentine's Day in our new house. We decided not to have the trail lead to our bedroom since it was too far! Last night at 11:00 there was Stuart making the sweetest path for the kids into the living room. You can see how he ended it with the M & M arrow in the corner of this picture. So creative, that husband of mine!

I love creating traditions for my kids. I read about another great one here. I might make this a tradition of my own sometime!

I really think that it is important for us as parents to be conscious about creating traditions with our kids. It builds great memories and in some small way, I think that it draws us together closer together as a family.

What traditions do you have?