Saturday, February 27, 2010

Both Hands

This morning, as I am busily tidying and preparing breakfast and trying to concentrate on planning for the day ahead, my little boy comes up to me.

"I need a hug, Mama."

I quickly lean down and give a half-hearted one-armed side hug, and hurry on my way.

He leans back, and with all the indignation his two-year-old voice can muster, he exclaims, "BOTH hands, Mama, BOTH hands!"

Am I truly so busy that I don't have three seconds to devote to hugging my boy with both of my arms?

If you'll excuse me...I'm going to start living with BOTH hands today.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tot School

These last two weeks have been busy & crazy, but most of all, FUN! :) Hubby's parents visited, along with a group of men who came to work on a project at camp, so we were busy making meals for them, and of course, hanging out with Hubby's mom, who stayed an extra few days so that Hubby and I could go away (by ourselves!) for a night! It was wonderful, and I came back refreshed and ready to re-commit myself to doing a better job with Z's discipline and Tot School planning.'s what we've been learning the last two weeks:

Here's Zachary making egg casserole for the work group with Grandma: (putting an egg in)

And stirring the mix:

We got this fun matching game for Christmas, and we have played it several times, and got another chance to this week:

Here are the halves of the matches, laying on the floor - Z holds the other half, and has to match them up- he loves the animal pictures & is getting pretty good at matching.

Here he is with one match:

And matching some lions:

Supposed to be showing me his match, but for some reason, we can't see it... :)

The backs of the matching cards make this giant floor puzzle, so I put it together, and then he stepped on the animals that I called out. :) He loved this. :)

Here's Zachary playing with Natalie...

And he is rewarded with a smile!

When Hubby and I were on our little getaway, we stopped by a store called Ollie's up in Buffalo. I've heard there's one in Erie, PA, and I don't know where else, but they had awesome deals on some preschool/tot school books & supplies, and I scored big! Here's everything that I got: (in case you can't see well, there are two sheets of foam bug stamps ($1 each), a 3-pack of kids worship CDs ($3), 4 foam stamps- two flowers, a truck, and a basketball (50 cents each), orange tempera paint (50 cents), an Eric Carle Numbers book ($2), a Wipe-Off Numbers book ($2), and a pack of 3 books that teach letters ($3), for a grand total of $14.50 for all these things!!!

Here is how the Eric Carle book works: You match up the top half of the page, that has the number on it, with the words and pictures of fruit on the bottom - Z doesn't 'get it' yet, but he likes to read it with me, and if I turn to 'six lemons' and tell him to find the 6 on the top page, he can, so we play that way for now. :)

Here's another page:

Here's the inside of the numbers book: For now, Z enjoys reading the book and counting the stuff, we haven't tried writing yet, but I am super excited to use this when we start working on writing, too!

Here is all that was included in the letters activity pack:

This is the coloring book:

This is the activity book, which comes with stickers:

And this is the part I was mostly excited about - the wipe-off letters book. Not as great as the one that goes with the Numbers book I showed above, but it has fun activities nonetheless.

And now I really really want the Letters book that is like the Numbers one...think Ollie's will get it soon??? :) Actually, they have it at Wal-Mart for $9, so that's not too bad. :) Sometime before fall, it will probably find it's way into our house.

Well, I know I promised to talk about the kids CDs we enjoy listening to, but I just haven't had a chance...I hesitate to say this, but...maybe next week??? Well...don't hold your breath! :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Good In The Bad

Well, today has been interesting. To say the least.

Hubby is in the middle of a big retreat at camp this weekend, one that he plans and runs the activities for, not just a rental group, so it requires a lot more time and energy from him both before and during the weekend.

Z has been having some minor digestive issues for a few weeks now, so after a quick doctor's appointment on Thursday morning, we were instructed to bring some, ah, 'samples' to the lab. :) You'll thank me for not being more specific, I'm sure. :)

So this morning, after eating breakfast at camp with the staff and greeting the youth leaders & kids that we knew, we headed to town to turn our samples in at the lab.

On the way in, our camp director called to ask if we could pick up some BBQ sauce they needed for lunch - it would be a tight trip, but maybe if we hurried we could be back by lunch...

So we ran to the lab (ran is relative, as it is a 5-minute debacle to get both kids unbuckled, inside, back out, and rebuckled), and then ran in to Sam's Club and grabbed a gallon of BBQ sauce (another 5-minute process, plus the time inside the store...). By the time we left the store, it was 12:15, and we were a half hour from camp, and lunch was at 12:30. Fail. :(

As we pulled out of Sam's, my car started lurching and refusing to go more than 5 I turned onto one of the busiest streets in town! I nearly started having a panic attack, I was actually crying and pretty much totally freaking out. I turned left right away, into a strip mall parking lot, and parked right in front of a tire store and called Hubby. Who, don't forget, is in the middle of one of his busiest retreats of the season!

So he said he would work on finding someone to come and rescue the three of us, and I offered to ask someone in the tire store to look at the car to make sure I wasn't overreacting. He said that might be good (does he know me that well or what?), so a man came out, and drove the car a little, and confirmed that there was indeed a problem with it, and told me not to try to drive it home. No problem there - I was too nervous to try to drive it anywhere at this point!

Also, I should mention that by this time, Natalie had had enough of being dragged in and out of her seat and the wrap and all, and was screaming her head off. So, after the man went back to the store, I sat down to feed her, and Z kept himself happy with goldfish crackers and a CD to sing to.

There just so happened to be a Subway in the strip mall we were stranded in, so as soon as Natalie filled her belly, Z & I went to Subway for lunch. Z was SO GOOD, as we stood in line, he did not throw himself on the ground even once (a real milestone), and he sat in the booth with me and ate his sandwich and apples SO well, not running away at all. In fact, he was perfectly behaved the entire time we were in town, and I am SO thankful for that. About as soon as we finished our lunch, some friends of ours showed up to help us, and were so helpful getting the car seats and all of our STUFF unloaded and loaded in their car, and then unloaded into our house... and we had a great time talking with them on the way home!

Actually, there are a lot of things to be very thankful for in this story, and when I really look at the way things happened, I can see God at work in every piece!

If we had gone to Sam's first, (instead of the lab and then Sam's) we may have been stranded by the hospital - not a very nice part of town, and not a lot of businesses there either.

If we hadn't had to go to Sam's at all, we may have been stranded halfway between town and our house- in the middle of nowhere. Sitting in a car with two fussy children for a half hour is NOT my idea of fun!

So the car broke down in pretty much the best spot as far as convenience for those stranded goes...and of course I'm very thankful for safety, since we were in the middle of a busy road, and yet no one hit us and we were able to turn off quickly!

And good behavior from Z in public is a HUGE answer to prayer, since he has been struggling in this area lately, yet he was a perfect angel in a less-than-perfect situation.

Our (only) car, however, is still stranded in the parking lot, about a 30-minute drive from our house, so we would appreciate your prayers in this situation!

Whew! It's so nice to be home, and to have both kids down for naps- think I'll lay MY head down for a few minutes as well!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tot School

This week, for Tot School, we played outside, and did one craft, and focused on puzzles! So here are some pictures of our week:

We made adorable, edible snowman crafts one day. (I got the idea from Confessions of a Homeschooler) This was our first one, and I didn't think about the marshmallows I chose, and they weren't flat, so this guy looked a little soggy...

Here is our 2nd guy, I think he turned out much better, don't you?

And here's Zachary enjoying the wonky snowman. :)

And here is Zachary drinking hot chocolate out of a real 'big boy' cup. :) I think he spilled it either three or four times. We'll stick with sippies most of the time for now. :)

This week, we focused on puzzles - I bought him a new Melissa & Doug puzzle that I was SO excited about - it is of musical instruments. I LOVE Melissa & Doug stuff, especially their sound puzzles! And this one is so well -done - each instrument plays a little tune in the appropriate tone as you put the instrument into the right spot. Each instrument plays the SAME song, just in a different tone, so that if you're teaching your child to recognize the instrument's sound, they don't get distracted/confused by different songs for each instrument - isn't that well thought-out?

Zachary really enjoys it. :) He has one more sound puzzle - of vehicles. It makes a coordinating sound for each vehicle, and Z loves this puzzle as well. (also Melissa & Doug)

Z also has this super unique puzzle that he got for Christmas (also Melissa & Doug)- it is a 'sea animals' puzzle, and you take the pieces out by using a magnetic fishing pole - each piece has a magnet on it. It is SO fun! :) My favorite part is hearing him say the animals' names - "quid", "tingway", and "otto-pus" are the best. :)

As a part of 'life school' this week, Zachary is still enjoying playtime with Natalie each day. Here he is sharing his car with her. :)

And here he is giving his kitty toy a drink from his sippy cup of juice. Learning to care for others is important. :)

Zachary loves music, and he has several CDs that are teaching him great songs about God, and I SO love to hear him sing! I hope to share about some of his favorite CDs in my next Tot School post, but we have a lot going on this week, so it may be two weeks before I get that all together. For more great Tot School ideas, visit 1+1+1=1!

Friday, February 5, 2010

My Legacy

Zachary and I were discussing something, and I made the comment that he had used a big word.

"Oh, my WORD!", he replied...and then went on...

"Oh, my WORD, Chi-YULD, my PA-tience!"

and it was like looking at myself in a mirror. A little mirror, chock full of my attitudes and words.

Not pretty. (Rather like looking at oneself in a mirror 6 weeks after giving birth, but we won't go there.)

I was instantly ashamed that my child has obviously heard this phrase enough times to learn and repeat it.

And then I decided to lighten the mood by turning on some music, so I flipped my iPod to Nichole Nordeman. But God wasn't going to let me off that easy.

I immediately heard this song, about the legacy we leave. Here are the specific words that made me cry and turn to God in prayer:

I want to leave a legacy

How will they remember me?

Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough

To make a mark on things?

or did I talk constantly about my patience, and how thin it was?

Lord, help me to turn to You in times of frustration, and lean on You for patience and strength as I love my babies. Help me to be Christ to them, and to represent You in the way You would want to be represented. Remind me that through my attitude, each dirty dish and every dirty diaper can be a ministry to my family, and an opportunity to help my children know You more intimately.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wearing Natalie

As the mom of one child, I enjoyed babywearing. I learned about babywearing when Zachary was 9 or 10 months old, and I won a ring sling. I wore Zachary in a frame backpack carrier, until he got to be about 20 pounds and it was too uncomfortable on my shoulders, and then I bought a Patapum soft-structured carrier, and wore him constantly and comfortably in that. Until I was about 5 months pregnant, and then nothing was comfortable anymore, so I had to take a break from babywearing, but I waited and planned and looked forward to wearing my new baby girl. I also made my own stretchy wrap, which I wore Zachary in just a few times, for fun.

Now, as a mom to two children, babywearing is an ESSENTIAL part of every day. Natalie loves hanging out in the stretchy wrap as I make breakfast for Z & I and then eat, and then I run around the house & get my housework done while she naps in the wrap. She is not a fussy baby, by any stretch of the imagination, but she's only six weeks old, and prefers being held to being by herself - so this helps our house be much more peaceful and joyful during the mornings. And the evenings are her fussy time, and she is NOT happy to sit by herself, and even to be held sometimes - but in the wrap, she quiets and even sleeps a little while I make dinner and eat - I get a lot of extra exercise, too, because she likes to be in motion even when I'm sitting still, so I wiggle while I sit (or bounce while I stand). :)

Natalie is also rather easily overstimulated, especially when we're out in public, though she is getting a little better as the weeks go on. So I find that wearing her in public settings also helps her to relax and not be as fussy as if she were being passed from person to person. Here is the first time I wore her - she was about 10 days old, and I was going to camp for a staff reunion. She was warm and comfy and slept the whole time:

The best part is, here's what I get to see attached to my front the whole time I'm doing mundane chores:

I also have used my ring sling on several occasions - my husband has been doing ALL of our family's grocery shopping, so that I don't have to get both kids out to the grocery store, so I haven't had THAT pleasant experience yet, but I do run into a little local store each Wednesday morning to grab a few items that are better bought there, and wearing Natalie in the sling keeps my hands free to shop and wrangle Z. :)

I also wrapped Natalie at the dr.'s office when she had her one-month appt, and it really helped keep my hands free, again, to wrangle Z. Who is 2, so he requires a lot of wrangling in public places. :) The wrap takes me 2-3 minutes to get on, and then a minute or two to get her settled in, but when we are going from home to the doctor's office or store, I will put the wrap on at home, and just wear it empty to town, and when we get there, I pop her in it straight from the car - when it's cold out, I can wear her under my coat or put a blanket over her to keep her warm as we go into the building. The sling is super fast to put on, like 30 seconds, and only takes a minute to pop her in, so I don't bother putting that on before I arrive at the store.

I guess my point is this: As a new mom of two, I honestly do not know HOW anyone does it withOUT babywearing!!! And also? I love it - it's SO fun, and so sweet. :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tot School (last two weeks)

We've been trying to fit in some Tot School fun these last two weeks...between the stomach flu, and taking care of both kids and all. :) Here's what we've been up to!

Zachary started working on this coloring workbook - I think we've accomplished one page so far - it focuses on following directions & on colors:

Here he is coloring red ketchup onto an omelet:

We fingerpainted. He loved getting the paint all over his hands and making handprints.

and all over his face...

I let him hang his finished painting on his wall in his room, which he was super excited about. When I, or my hubby, put him to bed, he points it out- "I painted."

We also made snowmen this week, out of cotton balls. He loves using glue, so here he is gluing on the cotton balls:

And gluing on the hat:

And here is our finished product:

Zachary also practiced mopping this week:

And he has started eating his meals at the big table instead of in his highchair. It hasn't been TOO much more messy so far... :)

Here he is helping with Natalie's playtime - showing her a glowworm doll & making it sing to her.

And here he is pretending to be a baby having his OWN playtime on Natalie's pillow. Pretending to be a baby is a big thing right now - he loves to be 'burped' and lets out a pretty cute 'hicCUP'. :)

This week, we have a Valentine's craft that we're planning to do, and I'm hoping we can get outside to play in the snow some, too. I'll close with a completely free and adorable picture of Natalie, for your viewing enjoyment. :)

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