Saturday, April 24, 2010

Garage Sale Finds!

This weekend, I had the opportunity to go to some garage sales in my MIL's area out here near Des Moines. Have you ever been to one of those city-wide garage sale weekends, where a lot of people have garage sales, so you can just walk around a neighborhood and go to a bunch of sales? Well, that's what my Hubby's parents' town was doing this weekend, so we walked around their neighborhood, and I found a lot of great deals! Some stuff I wanted, and some stuff I didn't even know I needed... :)

Like this Kidopotamus plastic bib - I've always wanted one of these. I paid 50 cents for this:

And a like-new swimsuit for me from Land's End for $1!

One garage sale had a bunch of these handmade signs - so cute! My MIL actually bought this for Natalie's room - all the pieces together cost about 2.25!

At the first garage sale, I bought this alphabet desk for $1. I felt bad because the lady gave me something for free, so I felt like I had to buy something... :)

At the last place we went, I got this programmable 12-cup coffeemaker for $3. And an insulated mug to go with it - 5 cents! :)

And I paid 50 cents for these adorable pink Nike sandals for Natalie - they're a little big, but hopefully they'll fit her by the time July or August rolls around!

This was one of the purchases I was most excited about - I paid two dollars for this, but it's so neat! You can use the letters to spell the words, as shown, and there are a bunch of cards on it - what a neat way to teach the concept that letters make words!

And we all know how Z loves his wipe-off books - I have been looking for a wipe-off letter writing book, and I found one for 50 cents!!!

One of the things I really wanted to find was a Little Tikes basketball hoop - and we did end up finding one - for $5! It was missing the net, but there was another little clip-on basketball hoop at the same sale for 50 cents, so we got them to throw that in, and Mom zip-tied the net onto the hoop, and it works perfectly!
We picked up this potty chair for FREE! I think you can put batteries in it and it will light up or sing or something when the child goes potty - I have no idea if it works, but hey, it was free. :)

The first garage sale we went to, I asked the lady if she'd take a dollar for this caterpillar ABC puzzle, and she said, "Oh, just take it, I don't even know if all the pieces are there." They are! So this awesome wood puzzle was FREE!

On Thursday morning, I ran out to a garage sale really quick, because they had Little Tikes toys advertised, and as I said, I was looking for the basketball hoop. Earlier that week, Z had been watching some neighborhood kids ride bikes, and seemed pretty excited about it. So when I saw this little trike for $5, I had to get it for him. :) It even has a little dump bed on the back, that really dumps! He loves it, as you can see. :)

Oh, and so much more... two crib/toddler bed mattress pads for $1.50 each, a Super Baby Food book for 50 cents, and a few kids clothing items, too. Garage sales are awesome!!! :) Now we just have to figure out how to fit everything in the car for the ride home tomorrow!!!

What great deals have you gotten lately?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dearest Natalie,

The calendar says that you're four months old today. But that's not it? Have I really only been able to look into your sweet blue eyes for four months? I guess it must be so. Before you came, time couldn't fly fast enough as we waited for you to make your appearance, but now it is passing all too quickly since you arrived.

You are such a sweetheart, so typically patient and calm, crying only when you are hungry or tired, or during your regularly scheduled fussy evening times. You eat wonderfully, and are old enough now to start eating cereal, which your brother thinks you will probably spit out. He's probably right. :) You're a great sleeper, too, even sleeping through the night about as often as not lately! And you nap flexibly, falling asleep in the car or in the wrap if we're out.

Your little hands are so busy now, you're working hard on mastering the art of grabbing things and then immediately stuffing them in your mouth. And when there's nothing else around to grab, your hands can be found in your mouth. Watching you suck your thumb as you fall asleep is totally adorable. :)

You like to play on the floor, especially when there is music to listen to. You are SO CLOSE to rolling from your back to your front, you roll alllllll the way over on your side, even crossing your top foot over your bottom foot...and then you stop short of rolling over. You hate to be on your tummy anyway, so I understand there's not much motivation to roll over that way. :)

You adore your brother. When I'm working on something and I need to occupy you both, I tell Z to come and talk to you. He says things like, "Hey, Nallie, awwwww...whatsa matter, Nallie?" as he lays down next to you (or occasionally on top of you, whoops!) and cuddles and kisses you. :) You love it - you smile at him with big grins and watch him all the time no matter what he's doing.

You are such a precious girl, and I am so thankful that you're my little girl. I can't wait until you get big enough to put bows in your hair, but more than that, I'm really looking forward to the day you're old enough to hear Daddy and I talk about Christ and His love, and the miraculous day that you accept Him as your very own Savior. I am so glad to have the privilege of being your mommy. I love you!

Love, Mommy.

Perfection in a Moment

You know how before you had kids, you pictured parenting in a certain way? Like, maybe, all of your eager children gathered around you in the middle of your sunshiny living room floor, listening intently as you read book after book and expounded deep Biblical truths to them? ...or maybe not every one enters parenting with these high hopes and dreams. Maybe I'm the only one who pictured parenting as endless moments of joy instead of being realistic about the struggles that are mixed in daily.

Anyhow, I actually had one of those moments of perfection earlier this week (at Hubby's parents house). Z was sitting at the kitchen table, eating his chicken nuggets and salad (which he had requested, by the way), Natalie was sitting contentedly in her car seat next to us, and I sat down to play the piano. Z made some requests, so I played some different songs for him, including Onward, Christian Soldiers and Jesus Loves Me. Finally, it was time to get ready for church, so I told Z that we could sing Jesus Loves Me one more time, but only if he sang with me. I didn't expect much, as he's not usually keen on singing when someone else wants him to.

But I played the song, and Z sang along to all the words! It was perfect and beautiful - one of those elusive and wonderful parenting moments I've always dreamed of! :)

Then the next morning, Z somehow got a hold of a permanent marker and drew all over the piano keys! Thankfully, nail polish remover got it all off! So, back to real life with it's joys and struggles, right? :)


SO - I know I've been MIA from my blog for quite a while now! First, we had my BIL & SIL at our house for a super fun-filled week, and then we headed to IA to visit our families. But I hadn't had enough vacation yet, so when Hubby headed back to NY today, I decided to stay with his parents (and the kids) for another week. :) They're heading to our house in NY next week, so the kids and I will ride out with them then, and hopefully this will give me a chance to see even MORE friends and family during this week!

Speaking of seeing friends, I had TWO chances this week to get together with two of my bloggy friends who I often see on the internet, but don't often (ever) get a chance to see in real life! (In case you were wondering, MIRL means Meeting in Real Life).

The night we arrived at Hubby's parents house, his parents were helping with a conference at a nearby church, so we stopped by to let them see the kids before they went to bed (totally random and unplanned). When I walked in, I saw Sarah's husband, and even though everyone else was wearing dresses and suits, I just had to go into the fellowship hall in my jeans & t-shirt to find her! We were able to chat for a few minutes, and it was delightful! If you aren't reading her blog, you should be! She and her husband have just gone through a great crisis of faith, and I have been amazed at how she has praised God even through this time of pain. Her faithfulness is such an encouragement to me!

Then, on Saturday, Erin was able to work me into her busy schedule, and we got together for some delicious coffee at Panera, and some wonderfully delightful conversation! :) She's even sweeter and funnier in person than she is on her blog! :) We had a great time talking, and laughing together, and it was such an encouragement to me to be able to get together and just hang out for a little while! :) We actually got a picture of us together, too, which I shamelessly stole from Erin. :) If only my eyes were open... :)

You definitely need to be reading her blog, too - she is an amazing writer, hilarious at times, but perfectly serious when she needs to be - she always either makes me laugh or draws me closer to Christ - sometimes both. :)

I'm so thankful for these opportunities I've had to meet some of my internet friends in real life - what a blessing!!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tot School - Easter Fun!

We celebrated Easter this week by getting ready for some of our family to come, and by talking about Jesus' resurrection! Let me just say that it is very difficult to discuss resurrection with someone who doesn't understand what death is. But we read Bible stories & discussed it anyway, since planting the seed is always important.

We did an 'empty tomb' craft this week that I saw somewhere, but don't have the link for, and kind of embellished myself. We started by using yellow (tempera) paint to paint a sun (or 2) in the sky.

Then we used a round spongy brush to sponge paint white clouds on our paper. We talked about what a beautiful, happy day Easter is because of the Resurrection during this painting.

(checking to make sure there's paint on his brush)

I guess I didn't get any more pictures of the process, but next we used brown paint to paint our big tomb rock and our stone that was rolled in front of the tomb. We let our paint dry for a couple of hours, and then we glued the tomb together (with a black circle for the empty tomb), and glued the tomb & some grass on our sky, and then added the stone with a brad, so that Z could roll it away.
Here is the finished product:

We also dyed eggs this week. My friend told me that she had seen a tip to use a whisk to dye eggs with young kids, and it worked so well! I made my own homemade egg dye with 1 cup of hot water, 1/2 tsp. white vinegar, and several drops of food coloring. Here is Z dyeing a purple egg.

Here he's saying, "We can't even SEE it!" since it was in the dark purple water. :)
Here are our dyed eggs:

And I let him color the eggs with markers also. :) The markers went through to the eggs, so they looked weird but tasted fine. Egg salad, mmmm. :)

Here is our finished product: (minus one egg which fell on the ground & cracked, and we promptly ate it). :)

Whoever invented wipe-off books deserves a medal. They are amazing. Z LOVES his wipe off books. And they keep him busy for many minutes at a time, while I do dishes...or blog... :) Here he is enjoying his letter wipe off book, with no pants on. :) The pants were a casualty to the mud, I believe. (The weather was GORGEOUS, shorts weather even, so we were outside a LOT.)

Speaking of messes, Z got into my mascara this week and smeared it all over his face. I was surprised at how much of it made it onto his actual lashes - see the top lashes on his right eye? I think being scrubbed at by a wet washcloth until the mascara came off cured him of doing this again. :) So maybe it's a good thing I couldn't find my eye makeup remover. :)

And here's a free cute picture to close with. :) Wipe off book, check. Pantsless, check. Smile, check. :)

For more tot school ideas, check out 1+1+1=1!