Friday, June 29, 2012

My First Guest Post

I had the opportunity to write my first guest post this week! It's up now at Prettiful Designs. I'm thankful for the opportunity to share what Riley and I have been doing in our preschool adventures, as well as give 6 tips that have helped us accomplish lots of activities and learning over the past few months. Head over and check it out! 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Busy Little Bees

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That's what we've been lately. Last week, we were out of town on our annual girls' trip. What a blessing to have a group of young girls who know how to have good, clean fun. We went to Venice Beach and found tons of shark teeth, went snorkeling off the west coast of Florida, and spent the day at Busch Gardens. We came home with lots of great memories, blisters on our feet, and minimal sunburn.

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Besides not taking the best naps in the stroller, Caroline did great! I'm always nervous to take my babies on a trip where they'll be totally off-schedule. Thankfully, she went with the flow and didn't have a hard time at all. True to her norm, Caroline did shower several of the girls with huge smiles and puddles of spit up. I'm hoping she'll grow out of it soon as people are much more reluctant to hold her than they were Riley - can't say that I blame them!

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This sweet little girl stayed with my mom and dad while we were gone. It's the longest David and I have been away from her, and it was much harder on us than it was on Riley. She and my parents went to the beach, visited with my grandmother, and did as much playing and book reading as you can squeeze into three days. It was so good to get back home to our biggest girl. It was a little taste of what it will be like when we head to camp for a full week in July. I'm going to be one sad mommy to leave this sweet face behind. 



Saturday, June 23, 2012

Preschool at Home Weeks 9 & 10

Sensory Bin Fun

To be honest, we've been taking it easy in the preschool department lately. David was traveling last week; Caroline and I were away with him this week. Preparing for those trips didn't leave much time for our usual activities. While I had hoped to do some fun stuff, it is summer and we are going to have to be flexible. While David was out of town, we did at least shop for and make our first sensory bin.

Summer Sensory Bin

If you're not familiar with sensory bins, they're just what they sound like - a tub filled with items that appeal to a child's senses. In our case, Riley could hear the rice crunch as she moved items around; she could feel the textures of the rice, paper, and ribbon as she manipulated the items; and she could see the bright colors of the flowers and butterflies I placed in the bin. They also provide children with opportunities to use their fine motor skills, transfer items from one container to another, and sort items by color or category. For more information on their purpose, see this post on sensory bins at A Purpose Driven Home

In our Summery Sensory Bin, we included the following:
  • Rice dyed green (I put a couple cups of rice in a ziplock bag, added two squirts of hand sanitizer, and food coloring until I got the color I wanted)
  • Brown basket filler paper
  • Red and white polka dotted ribbon
  • Silk flowers and butterflies
  • Pieces of yarn
  • Rubber bugs
  • Leaves
  • Fake grass
Toddler Sensory Bin

I put all these items in a dollar store tub and let Riley go to town. I provided tweezers, spoons, and containers for her to use as she was playing. Riley's favorite part of the whole experience was playing with the green rice as if it were sand. She also liked to pretend she was eating it... a good reminder that you can't let kids play with this unattended.

Sensory Bin Fun
Mess from Sensory Bin

As I'm sure you can imagine, we had quite a bit of "deen rice" on our rug. Believe it or not, the noise of the rice being swept up by the vacuum cleaner did not appeal to Riley's senses. I'm still finding random pieces of green rice under toys and behind baskets. I'm thankful Caroline's not crawling around yet or I would have needed to be much more careful not to miss any pieces when we were cleaning up. 

PhotobucketLasso the Moon
 

Weekend Bloggy Reading


    Saturday Show and Tell at Cheerios & Lattes
Saturday Show and Share at I Can Teach My Child
Making the World Cuter Monday at Make the World Cuter

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Daddy Through Riley's Eyes

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In honor of Father's Day, I asked Riley some questions about David. I plan on doing this every year and comparing the answers.

How old is Daddy? 5.

How much does Daddy weigh? 1.

Who is Daddy's favorite person? Me.

Who does Daddy love? Mama.

What is Daddy good at? Church.

What is Daddy's favorite food? Oatmeal. Like me.

What is Daddy's favorite color? Pink. And it's mine.

What is the best thing about Daddy? I love him so much.


Riley definitely does love her daddy so much. Every morning when she wakes up she happily says, "You not go to work today, right Daddy?" She wants him to stay home and play with her. Every time she hears a car pull into our driveway or a neighbor's, she can be found running to the door yelling, "Daddy's home!" The smile that lights up her face when it really is him is beautiful (and far more natural than the one pictured above). 

Caroline is full of smiles and coos for her daddy, too. I don't have any recent photos of Caroline and David, but I'm planning on snapping some tomorrow when they're all decked out in their Sunday finest. 

I'm so blessed. I can't imagine a finer husband or father to our girls. He prays for us faithfully, provides for our every need, and loves us unconditionally. He puts up with our shortcomings graciously and wants to help us become who God would have us to be. David and I met when we were fifteen and I can honestly say he has positively impacted my relationship with my Savior each of those years. From his zeal as a young teenager to his knowledge of the Bible as an adult, he has set a wonderful example of a Christian. 

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I can't let a Father's Day post go without mentioning my own dad. The men who have had the biggest impact on my life have certainly been godly. Besides David and my mom, there's no one on this earth that I respect as much as I do my dad. I'm thankful for a father who loves the Lord and stands up for Jesus; for a dad who loves his children and would do anything for us; and for a dad who loves his granddaughters "just as much as their parents do" (or so he says). 

My dad wasn't one of those guys who thought his kids were the best thing since sliced bread. He loved us and thought we were good kids, but he knew we were sinners and needed help being molded into the people God would have us to be. I didn't always appreciate it in the moment, but I'm so thankful for the time and energy he put into disciplining and training me so that I can be a productive adult and a decent parent (and mom's effort, too). It's awfully nice to be past that stage of life, though. I'm glad his goal wasn't to be my friend when I was a kid and a teenager, but it certainly is nice to be at the point in my life where my dad is my friend. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Caroline's Three Month Update

3 Month Smile

Our smiley baby turned three months old Monday. I won't bore you again with my thoughts on time flying by. These photos were taken today, so only 4 days late. I'm doing better this time than I did with Riley. 
  • Caroline is still sleeping well, thankfully. She typically goes to bed about 8:30 and wakes up around 7:15 to eat. After that, she goes back down until I wake her up at 9:30. We will definitely take it. She would probably go back to sleep if I gave her the paci, but I would rather just feed her at that point. I don't think she's ready to go 13 hours without eating. 
  • She's still eating every 3 hours. I'm not sure when we'll make the switch to a 3.5 or 4 hour schedule. Since she spits up so much, I don't want to make her go too long. She never screams for food, but she's definitely willing to eat at the three hour mark. 
  • Sometimes I think the spit up is getting better overall. We still have eruptions after every feeding, but I'm noticing they're not as massive as they have been in the past. Either that or I just am used to them. I'm finally over worrying about it, I think. She's obviously growing just fine. 
  • Speaking of growing, we had a doctor's appointment on Wednesday and she weighs 12 lbs, 10 oz. Caroline doesn't look chubby, but she's definitely more substantial than Riley was at this age. Riley weighed 12 lbs. on the dot at her four month appointment. It will be interesting to see how much Caroline weighs at hers. 
  • We're still getting giggles out of our girl. Just a little while ago as I was putting her down for her nap, she was laughing at me. I don't remember Riley laughing as a baby, but I'm sure she did. Either way, we have two happy girls and for that we're quite thankful.
I'll leave you with a few of my favorites from our 3 month photo shoot. This wasn't our best, but we managed to get a couple keepers. 

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Preschool at Home Week 8 - Noah's Ark Toddler Activities

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For the next few weeks, Riley and I are going to be using Bible stories as our springboard into activities, books, and crafts. For week eight, we focused on Noah's Ark. We actually didn't work on a specific letter or shape this week; we just stuck to the Bible story and crafts. It was pretty rainy this past week, so Noah's Ark ended up being a good choice. 

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For starters, we read the account of Noah in several different Bible story books. I was disappointed that none of them mentioned the fact that God closed the door to the ark (Genesis 7:16). Almost all of them were written in such a way that the reader would assume that Noah shut them in. We changed that part of the story to match God's word. They all did talk about the promise God made and that the rainbow was given to remind Noah that God would keep his promise. How thankful I am to be able to tell my kids that God does indeed keep his word. I look forward to giving them examples of how God has kept his promises in my life.

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After reading and discussing the story, we made this ark and rainbow mobile. I cut the shapes out of paper plates, and Riley sponge painted the ark portion brown. I helped her finger paint the rainbow. We didn't quite have room to fit all the colors but I think you get the idea. For the animals, I googled elephant and giraffe clipart and printed them out. Riley painted the back of the paper with sponges and then I cut them out once the paint dried. I know elephants aren't blue, but I don't have any gray craft paint (or black to mix with white, for that matter). 

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Another activity was a dove print. We used white paint to create our "dove" and used green paint to make a fingerprint olive branch. Super simple, but it turned out cute. The problems with this picture were definitely my fault... I accidentally drew the wing backwards and put the olive branch through the middle of the bird's head rather than in his beak. Again, you get the idea we were going for.

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I was very happy to remember that we had rainbow sprinkles in the house this week. We halved this recipe to make our batch of cookies (next time I would add a little more butter). The only thing we did differently was to add a handful of sprinkles to the dough. We're actually pretty convinced that Noah and his family ate rainbow sprinkle sugar cookies during those long nights of rain. 


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Our last craft was this cotton ball and yarn rainbow. It was super simple to make, and it was a fantastic way to use up some of my scraps. Here's how you can make your own. 

Materials:
  • paper plate
  • cotton balls
  • school glue
  • small piece of ribbon
  • yarn in the colors of the rainbow
Depending on the age of the artist, you might want to have your yarn pieces cut out ahead of time. I used six 15 inch pieces of each color. You can change the size and quantity of the pieces to suit your fancy. 


Sketch a cloud shape on the paper plate and cut it out. Spread glue all over the cloud template and let your toddler go to town pushing the cotton balls on. When that has dried, glue a ribbon to the middle of the cloud. This will let you hang it up easily. After this, glue your yarn pieces on. This part takes quite a bit of glue. We put a layer of glue on the cloud, stuck the yarn on, and then put another layer of glue on top of the yarn to guarantee it was secure, but you could probably omit this step and be good to go. 

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FYI, this craft doubles as a mask or hairpiece. Riley stuck it on top of her head and said, "Where is me?" We might have to add grammar to our weekly studies. 

On a side note, our little sidekick turned three months old today! Look for that update later this week.

PhotobucketLasso the Moon
 

Weekend Bloggy Reading

    Saturday Show and Tell at Cheerios & Lattes
Saturday Show and Share at I Can Teach My Child
Making the World Cuter Monday at Make the World Cuter

21 Things to Do with Your Toddler This Summer

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We did do "preschool" last week, I promise. I was just a slacker when it came to taking pictures this weekend, so I had to delay the post. The adorable pictures of Riley showing off her crafts are definitely the best part. She's napping right now and I have big plans to do our little photo shoot when she wakes up. On a side note, my husband's out of town and both girls are crabby. I'm hoping for a nice, long nap.

I really love how having a weekly topic and activities to go along with it help keep Riley occupied during the day. Free play is great and Riley enjoys it, but I know she needs some direction even at this young age. While trying to think of some fun things Riley and I could in the hot months ahead, I figured I'd join in the "      (insert a random number) Free Things to Do With Your Toddler This Summer" fun and list what I hope to do with Riley in the upcoming weeks. When I think of summer, I think of 9 weeks, so we'll try to do about 2 a week.
  • play in the sprinklers
  • pick wild flowers
  • feed the ducks in the neighborhood pond
  • climb a tree
  • do a color scavenger hunt outside and inside
  • go look at cows in a local pasture
  • fly a kite
  • walk on the beach and collect shells
  • blow bubbles
  • draw with sidewalk chalk
  • practice church at church
  • go on a picnic
  • bake cookies for a friend and surprise them by dropping them off
  • have a dress up tea party
  • swing at the park
  • wash the cars
  • play at a splash park
  • make and play in a sensory bin like this one
  • walk around our little downtown area
  • catch bugs or butterflies
  • play dress up

Some of these things we have done (sidewalk chalk, blowing bubbles), but we've slacked off a little bit from doing them since we've started our preschool crafts and activities.


If you have older kids or need more ideas for things to do with your kids this summer, check out this great post from Digital Reflections listing 100 free things you can do with your kids this summer.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

What's the Goal Here?

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As I've mentioned before, sometimes deep conversations spring up during the walks I take with my friends. Recently, this discussion came up and has had me thinking. In parenting, is our goal having happy children? I think any good parent wants her child to be happy. We don't want to see our children sad, hurting, or angry. Adorable smiles and laughs of joy are definitely preferable.

While that's the desire of most, I don't think that should be the goal. When I think of a happy kid, I think of a momentary emotion. Happy generally deals with the right now, especially with a toddler or young child. I just ate a cookie, I'm happy! I just played with my favorite baby doll, I'm very happy. I get to go to church and play with my friends, life is wonderful. You don't very often hear of a little person being happy because he helped a friend get through a life crisis or was able to spend 3 hours reading her favorite book of the Bible. 

IMG_1378Similarly, when you're working on correcting your children and trying to help form them into the person God would have them to be (and what a daunting task that is), often you have to sacrifice momentary happiness for the good of their future. When Riley and I have to "discuss" (she's 2, discussions are very simple) an issue, sometimes it's evident that she's not exactly happy. She doesn't want to have to stop what she's doing and obey mommy. She doesn't want to eat her green beans or pick up her toys. Sometimes, due to the fact that I'm willing to sacrifice her temporary happiness, there is sadness and tears on Riley's part. Just like the happiness, though, these tears pass.

While I'm definitely not saying I've got it all right, a trend that seems to be going on in the world around us is sacrificing the long-term goals we should have for our kiddos for happiness right now. Parents are catering to their children's every want and wish because they feel that they score high on the good parent scale when their kids are happy. It's a little bit scary to ponder what these young people will be like as adults. 

The Bible is definitely all about things that last. We're supposed to value the eternal. If we give in to every desire of our children and allow them to constantly be happy in the moment, will they be well-prepared to give their best for Jesus or will they stop when the first sign of trouble arises along the way? 


For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, 
worketh for us a far more exceeding 
and eternal weight of glory.
2 Corinthians 4:17

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Not So Wordless Wednesday

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My sweet Riley is learning to share. I'm not sure how impressed Caroline is with her sister's newly acquired hobby of piling items upon her; Riley should be thankful that she has an understanding sibling.

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Someone also decided to take a few self-portraits with Mommy's phone. I have my phone password protected because this little booger is so good at working it. She can even figure out how to open the camera when the phone is locked. She may be a good hacker, but she definitely needs to work on her photography skills. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

And We Have a Laugh

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This little cutie decided she would make her mommy's day. After I changed her diaper this afternoon, I was playing with her and tickled her side. I could tell she was ticklish when a huge smile appeared on her face. Seeing if I could see her adorable grin a second time, I tickled Caroline again and was rewarded with her first giggle! It put the biggest smile on my face as I ran to get my phone so I could take a video to show David.

Of course, when I tried to capture her laugh, she really wouldn't do it and kind of started to fuss. Figures. I think babies and toddlers have a secret plan to make all parents look like liars. I can't tell you how many times I've said, "Riley, do such-and-such for Eebee." only to be answered with a blank stare that says, I have no clue what you're talking about, Mother. Thankfully, I was able to get a small laugh on video. It wasn't like the first, but I'm sure we'll hear it much more in the weeks to come.


Proverbs 17:22 says, ... a merry heart doeth good like a medicine. That merry heart doesn't always have to be your own. Even when I'm in the foulest of moods, seeing my children happy and carefree has a way of cheering me up. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Preschool at Home - Week 7

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Riley and I had a lot of fun this week! There are so many things to learn about plants and just as many activities to reinforce the concepts. In case you didn't catch last week's post, our theme is plants for the second week in a row. We repeated the topic because I accidentally forgot to discuss our shape last week. This week wasn't much better, but we did talk about rectangles here and there. We also did a rectangle lighthouse craft made form construction paper, but I totally forgot to snap a picture of that when we were taking our pictures today. It didn't go with our theme anyway so it wouldn't have gone with the post. Riley has the letter of the week down, but she still says "P for Papa!!" Every time she sees one. Since Riley thought she was the vine last week, we switched our verse to Matthew 13:37: ... He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man.

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We have definitely enjoyed watching our "grass heads" grow their luscious locks. If only my hair (and Riley's, for that matter) would grow as fast we'd be in business. These pictures were taken today and we planted the grass seeds two weeks ago this coming Monday. The seeds were barely sprouting when I posted last week, but look at the grass now! On a side note, Riley thinks it's the funniest thing in the world to pretend that she's eating the blades of grass. I'm thinking she takes after her daddy.

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We talked about insects and animals living in plants again this week. We did this handprint/fingerprint picture one day after our discussion. Riley really enjoyed this one. Since our garage is overflowing with junk a little bit cluttered, Riley and I have been doing crafts like this one on the kitchen counter. Let me tell you, I'm very glad that Crayola paints are as washable as they advertise. My counter and dishcloths would be rainbow colored by now if that weren't the case. 

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After talking about the fact that many of the things that we eat grow on plants, Riley and I did this apple tree craft. We made the "leaves" of the tree by printing Riley's hand in the correct shape. The trunk is just a print of Riley's arm. For the apples, Riley used pencil eraser dipped in red paint and stamped it on the tree. 

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This was probably Riley's favorite craft this week. Handprints, a flower, a dragonfly, and pink? It simply doesn't get much better than that in this two year old's eyes. We made the center of the flower by gluing poppy seeds to the paper. Sprinkling poppy seeds (or anything, for that matter) is right up there with handprints in Riley's book. Messy things seem to score big points with this girl. 

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Since we have discussed plants' need for water and sunshine, we had to include sunshine in at least one of this week's projects. This was simple, but turned out really cute. We just used scrunchy basket filler from the dollar store and tissue paper to create a 3-D masterpiece. I've read that ripping and crinkling paper is good for a child's mind. If that's true, this craft definitely helped the brain cells. 

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What would one of these preschool posts be without a couple bloopers from our photo shoot? I think the pictures this week definitely show Riley's personality to a T. Keeping up with this blog definitely help me take more pictures of Riley. I also snap a bunch of Caroline each weekend since she turns a new week old each Sunday. Going back and seeing these pictures and reading about what we did will be so much fun in years to come.


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All in all, we had a great two weeks looking at plants. It's a topic that has a plethora of great children's books to read, lots of fun activities to do, and plenty to observe right outside your own front door. I encourage you to find some books on the topic, plant some seeds, and do some crafts that will put a smile this big on your toddler's face.





PhotobucketLasso the Moon
 
Weekend Bloggy Reading
    Saturday Show and Tell at Cheerios & Lattes
Saturday Show and Share at I Can Teach My Child
Making the World Cuter Monday at Make the World Cuter