Monday, May 31, 2010

Tot School - Last Two Weeks

Sorry I didn't post tot school last week - we have had a lot going on lately, so I just decided to wait and lump two weeks together! We have been doing a lot of playing outside lately, as the weather has been gorgeous and warm! But we've still managed to get some fun indoor activities done as well. :)

This week, we went swimming in the pond for the first time, and while we were there, we saw a transitional frog/tadpole guy swimming in the water. This prompted me to search for videos of the frog life cycle on YouTube, and Z and I watched several together - it was such a neat way to learn - there were videos that involved real frogs, cartoon frogs, and my favorite was this cute claymation - watching a variety of videos really added to the learning, I thought. There are lots of video projects on all kinds of subjects that kids have done for school and then put up on YouTube, so it's a great learning tool, and we will definitely be using it in the future!

Z always asks about these colored dots on the side of plastic containers. One day I was looking at a yogurt container and realized that these colored dots are all the colors on the packaging. So we used this yogurt container to have a color scavenger hunt, and find all the colors of the dots in the strawberry banana picture and in the words. :)

We also made paper plate sunflowers this week - I got the idea from Mama Jenn. First I cut the edges of two paper plates into petal-like shapes.

Then we painted the petals with yellow tempera paint.

Then we used a foam round brush and black tempera paint to stamp circles in black in the middle of the sunflower.

Then it was too black, so we stamped with brown tempera paint circles in the middle.

We let it dry, added green construction paper stems and leaves, and now we have a sunflower garden on our wall!

Z was using his cheese curls to 'make letters' one day - an L and a V, he says! :)

He didn't do his craft or his paper in children's church last week, so we did it together at home. It is so neat to hear him say his little verse - this month has been 'Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. - Acts 16:31'. :) He says, "Believe on the Lowd Jesus Chwist, and YOU will BE. SAVED!" :) The craft was a puppy paper bag puppet - say that ten times fast! :) And the paper was about kindness - how we could be kind to each person on the paper.

We tried to work on patterns this week - is he too young for patterns? Does anyone have any tips on teaching patterns? I tried to use food (Cheerios & raisins), but he got distracted by trying to eat the food. So this week, I made a sheet with colors, and we tried again, and he just didn't get it really at all. Here is the sheet I made:

And here is the result: most answers are right, because I told him what to write. Any tips would be appreciated. :)

We also worked on some puzzles in our jigsaw puzzle book:

Here is a completed puzzle. He still needs lots of help with jigsaws.

We went to the Buffalo Museum of Science last Monday, and visited the Sesame Street Body Exhibit, along with the dinosaurs and one ecology room where they had stuffed animals from the Buffalo area. Z enjoyed it a lot, especially the Sesame Street exhibit - here he is with Ernie:

And here he is playing the Count's Organ Organ - it tells you about your organs when you play the different keys. :)

Here he is playing with our camp dog, Sammy, at the pond - this night we didn't intend to go swimming, but we ended up splashing each other and getting soaked. :)

And he has been getting SO brave on the playground equipment - here he is going down the middle slide on his stomach! Last year he would only go on the smallest slide, and only facing forward. :) It is amazing how much he is growing up!

We found this baby bird at the camp playground, but we're waiting to see if it's mommy finds it, and if not, we may take care of him. He was so cute, and followed us around, peep-peeping pathetically the whole evening - he reminded me of the book 'Are You My Mother?'. :)

My Two Tots

It is so fun to see my two little ones interacting together! Z is typically so sweet and kind to Natalie, and is learning a lot about being gentle and caring for others through being her big brother.

My Tiny Tot

Natalie is not so tiny anymore...she is learning and growing SO MUCH every day!!! She is rolling over both ways now, and she likes to scoot with her heels when she's on her back, so she can scoot around in a circle or headfirst. :) She also got her first TWO teeth this week - both on Sunday! She was a little grouchy Sunday afternoon, but other than that, it hasn't seemed to bother her too much, and she has been sleeping through the night regularly, so that is really nice, too. :)

To find out what other people are doing for Tot School this week, visit 1+1+1=1!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Family Pictures

In case you're not friends with me on Facebook, and you haven't seen these pictures yet - we got our family pictures taken at Sears last week! If you're not my Facebook friend, you should be. :) Then you can see all the pictures. :)

So, without further ado, here is our current family picture:

My husband and I:

The kiddos!!! :) Z actually kissed Natalie on the head un-prompted, so the photographer asked him to do it again for the camera. :)

Zachary: (he was SO GOOD during the photo shoot!)

Natalie: (she smiled so well, too, even on her stomach which she normally hates)
We had so much fun - we got the CD so that I can edit and re-edit and order a million different pictures - it was my Mother's Day and early birthday present. :) I am so happy with how they turned out!

God Is Never Late

I have been learning something about God lately- about how He 'typically' works.

Of course we know that God is never late. When it seems that He's 'too late' in his provision or His intervention in our lives, we must not have a sense of what He's doing in His perfect timing.

But I am also beginning to learn that God is rarely early.

And wouldn't we love him to be? Don't we love those times when God provides something before we even know that we need it? And He does, occasionally. But often his provisions happen just in the nick of time. If He was always early, we would never have to trust Him. We would never be required to live by faith, believing wholeheartedly that, though I don't have the money/clothes/food/etc now, by the time I need them, even if it's tomorrow morning, they will be supplied.

The camp is fund-raising for a new staff house, and a few weeks ago I was talking with our financial secretary about the state of the funds for the project, and she was commenting on how much we still need. Sometimes it can seem daunting to say "we need this many thousand dollars to finish this project we've started". However, we've never come to a point where we as a staff are ready to begin the next stage of work, or ready to buy the supplies we need to do that day's work, and been short on the money. I commented to my friend that it would be 'just like God' to have the money trickle in, little by little, just as we need it. That way we will be sure to remember that it came from Him, and we did not do it on our own.

On Sunday morning, Z ripped his good church shirt. He was climbing in his sister's crib, and refused to get out when I asked him to. After I walked out of the room, he tried to climb out on his own, and caught his shirt on the edge, scratched his stomach, and ripped a BIG hole in his nice shirt. This isn't a huge deal, but Z only has three nice short-sleeve shirts in this summer's size, and he is about to outgrow one of them. So now, after the ripping incident, he has two short-sleeve church shirts.

Yesterday I got an email from Freecycle about a church clothing bank, which offers free children's and adult clothing. It happens once a month - and it was happening this morning! The church was located only 15 minutes from my house! So, guess where we spent our morning?

Not only did I find TWO free church shirts for Zachary in the exact size he needed, but I also found about SEVEN free summer shirts for myself! God is so good, isn't He?

Right on time.

I try to keep these blessings at the forefront of my mind, especially when I am in the middle of situations that make me FEEL like God is running late - like He could and should have done something long ago to prevent the current situation.

He is never late. Rarely early, but truly never late.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Summer Goals - 2010

Well, I don't often write a ton about camp here, and I'm not sure why. But I thought that some of my readers might like to hear a little more about our summer and all that we do at camp, and also be able to pray for us as we minister to the campers God brings to us this year!

I am a little less involved in camp this summer than I have been in the past, since I don't officially 'work' at camp anymore, as I did last summer and the two summers before that. Last year, I worked in the office part time, taking Z with me to work each day. It was a dream situation in some ways - being able to work part-time without leaving Z with a babysitter was amazing. But last summer was hard, too - for sweet Z especially - imagine being 18 or 19 months old, and every single day you have to walk past a pond where kids or families are swimming and a playground with kids playing all over it...but you have to bypass the beautiful sunny outdoors for... the office. In this one room, you do have some toys to play with, but your mom has to basically ignore you while she answers the phone and types important stuff in the computer for a couple of hours each day. Sounds like fun for Z, right? I think since I've quit my job, camp has been a lot more fun for both of us. :)

Right now, I'm able to help a little bit from home - sometimes Hubby will bring home something for me to type in (registrations, mostly) or a mailing that needs organized, or books to be stapled, so I'm able to help that way. Just because I don't have a 'job' at the camp doesn't mean I'm not a part of the staff, either. I am a 'staff wife', and in that way, I'm an ambassador for the camp - to the campers and other staff, and when I go off camp.

So, as I look into my 2010 Camp Crystal Ball, I see this summer filled with pond time, playground fun, chatting with campers, encouraging staff, lots of meals in the dining hall, and hopefully a good many wagon rides. I know I will probably feel like I should be doing more ministry-related things around the camp, and I'll probably wish I was more involved in some more helpful way than just being there. But it's so important to remember that my main ministry right now is to the two babies God has entrusted to me (so far!), and as a friend at MOPS reminded me yesterday, this is only a season - someday, in another life season, I'll be more available to minister in those kinds of ways, but I won't have the opportunity to minister to my 5-month-old Natalie or my nearly-2-and-a-half-year-old Zachary EVER again - I'll never have THIS summer again.

My summer goals include: Swimming at the pond twice a week, eating lunch and dinner at camp each day, going on a wagon ride whenever possible in our schedule, writing encouraging notes/cards to each of our staffers throughout the summer, spending time each day praying for our staff and campers, attending evening chapel singing with the kids a time or two per week, and (eek, do I even dare to type this???) .........potty training Z (cringe!). (Remind me of my above statement about never having this summer again when I'm embroiled in potty training, will you, please???) :)

We will continue to do a tot school activity or two each day throughout the summer as well, as time allows. As long as Hubby is still gone at work all day every day, I would rather keep doing school, and then take a break in August when Hubby has time off. And after the kids go to bed, I will have some time to myself (Hubby will have to work from the time he gets up until he falls into bed each day, that's just how our summer is), so I'm planning to use that time to organize Z's pre-preschool curriculum plan for the fall - I want to start calendar time as well as focus on a letter a week and maybe some more organized unit activities with lapbooks and file folder games.

Camp is a huge part of our family's lives, and it's a rather unique ministry, so I hope you enjoy hearing about it!

So, my question for you today is, Has there been a camp that has had a spiritual impact in your life? I would love to hear your camp stories!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tot School

We were able to do a lot for Tot School this week, and I actually took lots of pictures! We had a pretty rainy week, but the weekend was nice, so we took advantage of those days to spend time outside! Zachary loves to draw with his sidewalk chalk!

He also has been making words on the fridge. Here he made the number 10, and he said that the top word was 'Mommy', and he was working on making a 'Daddy' word. :)

He got a coloring book from the phone company when Daddy had to go there on an errand, so we colored in that. He liked that it had trucks in it.

We practiced sweeping this week. I've wanted to try this for a while, but just hadn't gotten it together. I put a square of tape on the floor, and told him to use his little broom to sweep the crumbs into the square. He couldn't do much with it, but he tried, and had fun with it.

Here's all that we swept up, and he always loves to hold the dustpan for me!

We did two crafts this week! First of all, we made a drum from a 'recycled' oatmeal container!

Zachary colored with markers on two pieces of construction paper that I had taped together and trimmed to fit the drum.

Here he is enjoying his drum! While he colored, I used my Sharpie markers to color a 'stained-glass' pattern on the inside of the clear-ish lid. Just for fun. :) It does look kind of cool, though my pattern could have been more imaginative.

We also played with shaving cream this week. Here is how it started out: (peering at it)

spreading it around:
We had fun playing in it and writing letters in it.

We put some in a bag to start out with, since it's supposed to be less messy that way, and wrote letters in that, but it didn't work as well as I'd hoped, it was hard to make the letters and get them to stay written in the bag.

So we got messy. :)

REALLY messy! :)
We also made a snake this week! Here is my snake, drawn on a piece of white cardstock, along with googly eyes, a red piece of paper to make a tongue out of, and some markers.
We started out coloring our snake with markers, and then we used some green paint - all I had in green was puffy fabric paint, but we smeared it around with brushes anyway - it turned out kind of cool - shiny and textured all over our snake!

Then we glued his googly eyes on. :) And waited for him to dry.

Here he is - I just cut around him in a spiral & cut his tail in a point in the middle.

He spirals around like this - Z loves to play with him & leave him on my chair, so then I pretend to scream & be scared- "Oh, no, there's a snake on my chair!" :)

"ssssssss" :)

Z decided to plan and execute his own sensory experience this week by dumping coffee grounds (unused) on the floor and playing in it with a grilling brush and a few other kitchen utensils. I was sitting in the living room doing something, and I thought, "Hmmm..Z is quiet..." and then I realized "It kind of smells like coffee in here..." so, yeah - this is what I found.

And he went #2 in the potty for the first time this week - yay! We read a long book (Danny and the Dinosaur) while he sat there & he was rather surprised when it happened. :) Afterwards, we tried to put his shorts back on, but he kept saying, "They too small, Mama, they too small". When I looked over, I realized we had put both legs in the same hole...too funny. Sorry for the blurry picture, I only had my cell phone on me. :)

My Two Tots

Zachary is soooooo sweet to Natalie - I love to hear him talk to her and comfort her! One morning I had to run over and take a picture because I heard him say, "Oh, Nallie, you lost your sock! Here you go, fweetie..." :) Notice the sock laying on her chest... :) Also, in the car this week, she was crying, and he reached over, took her hand and said, "It's okay, Nallie. I love you."
Then he went on to tell me that "Nallie is my family." :) So cute!!!

My Tiny Tot getting bigger every day! She is eating cereal better this week, and I have found a rattle that she really enjoys holding - she will actually wave it around to hear it rattle. And of course she chews on it, too. :) She can't sit up yet, obviously, but she LOVES to practice, with me holding her hands. I can't believe she'll be 5 months old next week!!!

For more Tot School fun, head over to 1+1+1=1!