Monday, November 13, 2017

Poetry Teatime with Little Ones

  


  

 The concept of poetry teatime has emerged in popularity in recent years. I, too, have fallen in love with the idea of gathering around a lovely table to enjoy a book and treat. However, with three children three years old and under the idea seemed a little overly idealistic. And so, in order to incorporate this idea I knew I would need to adapt the idea a little to be better suited to our current season. The following is a few ways in which I'm learning to create a (fairly) successful teatime.

      First, before the tea and tablecloth must come this piece of advice- choose your timing well. I'd like for us to have an afternoon "tea" each Tuesday. However, if attitudes and behaviors aren't cooperating then I don't push it. I don't want it to be an occasion of fussing (me or them) because then the desire to participate and it be a good activity would be diminished. If we need to postpone the activity until the next day or even the next week, then that's precisely what we do. 

     Second, I simply don't fret and fuss over the details. Instead, I keep things as simple and child-friendly as possible. I want this to be an enjoyable occasion for us all, and in this season of all little ones simplicity is key. 

      And so, we don't lay out a delicate tablecloth. We don't lay out a tablecloth at all, in fact. The permission to eat and drink somewhere other than the kitchen table is in itself special. For a "teatime" we'll gather around our large living room table. The children really enjoy getting to pull a pillow down from the couch to use as  a seat. Perhaps in the future I may add a (vinyl- easy to clean!) tablecloth for the occasion, but for now a bare table is just fine!
Tennyson - 3 years old

     We also don't display a centerpiece on the table. Again, I want to keep things as simple as possible. Instead of a centerpiece, we simply place a tray with our tea pot and treats. Arranged well, the tray can be just as lovely as any other centerpiece!

      Finally, the main elements of a tea time- tea set, tea, food, and poetry. Again, we don't do any of these elements in a traditional manner. The most notable is that we don't even have a tea set (it's on my wish list)! But, even if we had such as that I'd probably be so nervous placing it in the hands of little ones. Again, I want us all to enjoy this time and me fretting of a dish getting broken and someone getting cut is not my idea of a good time. So, we currently use...oh yes, a play tea set! Green toys makes a gender-neutral tea set that can be used with real food and drinks. I really like how we can use the set for our tea time, and then the children can use it to continue having a tea time through their pretend play. It's a perfect size for little hands, and so this is our tea set of choice presently!
Annelise - 2 years old
   
      Inside the tea pot goes the tea...except, we don't drink tea. (I don't mind tea, but not for my little ones just yet). Instead, we have drinks that they don't normally get. We might have hot (well, warm) cocoa, apple cidar, a special juice etc. Just something out of the ordinary that signifies that this is, indeed, a special moment. The same idea applies to food served. This is the occasion in which we may enjoy a bite of dessert. If we've made a dessert recently such as cookies that morning, then we'll enjoy them during teatime that afternoon. Or, perhaps I'll purchase something we ordinarily don't such as mini cheesecakes, donut holes, Little Debbie cakes, bakery cookies or packaged cookies etc. Homemade mini muffins are also a favorite.  Sweets are "sometimes foods" and tea time becomes an excellent opportunity to be that "sometimes." (And if the children know that this is when they may have a sweet, then they're less likely to beg for at other times). Again, when it comes to food and drink my approach is to provide things that the children rarely get to have and make this time even more special. 
Huxley - 8 months old

      The final element of a poetry teatime is the poetry. The idea is to introduce children to poetry at a young age so they can develop the skills and enjoyment of poetry that will last for years to come. There are many, many resources for poetry books for little ones. I recently browsed the selection at the public library and was tempted to bring home a few more books. At such young ages, I find short and whimsical poems with lively illustrations to be the most attractive. Nursery rhymes are fantastic options. And while there are many resources for poetry for little ones, I don't believe the tea time material needs to be exclusive to a poetry book. I personally believe any rhyming or rhythmic book will suffice. Or, even a lengthier read-aloud book. I recently read portions of the original Winnie the Pooh to the children, and plan to read Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit stories soon. As always, my belief and encouragement is to simply read, read, read to children. Seize this moment to take hold of story and delight in it together. (Visit our online bookshelves to see what we've been reading)

Monday, November 6, 2017

October 2017 In Our Home

Welcome, fall!
8 months old!
         October was a difficult month. It was a month of illnesses. We've now gotten to experience what happens when illness goes through a family of five. Oh yes, it goes from one person to the next and back again. Our illnesses of choice- the norovirus (stomach virus) and a cold. As soon as one person seemed to be over the norovirus, another person would start. David had to take off work twice to fill in for me when I was unable to function enough to continue caring for the children. It's been absolutely delightful (sarcasm). We ended the month by passing along a nasty cold. I honestly can't think of a cold I've had that was that severe. I felt miserable, and so I can imagine how the children felt. On top of it all, Huxley is cutting tooth number seven (and perhaps eight) and Annelise is cutting her two year molars (she has never cut teeth too well). It's been a very messy (and..well, smelly too), very loud (so much screaming and crying from someone at all times), and all together exhausting time. I'm empathetic, but I'm also exasperated. If I ever begin to feel stretched thin and overwhelmed, I'm going to think back to this time. Haha. Hopefully, we won't encounter everyone being sick at the same time again for a while.

    Speaking of illness, and this puts ours into better perspective, things took a turn in regards to my father's caner battle this month. Options may be few, and difficult decisions on how to proceed will need to be made soon Of course, no one really knows an exact timeline when it comes to an illness like cancer. We may have many years with him... or, we may not. There are so many emotions to process in the meantime. One thing I know for certain- carpe diem. I intend for us to make a trip to visit soon.
  
It rained! That is certainly reason enough to get out and enjoy it!
         In the midst of it all this month, one aspect I've come to realize is that my introverted soul must have a moment in thought and solidarity to thrive. Without it, I feel like I'm attempting to function at a less than optimal level because I'm just plain depleted. These are the moments in which the mama I don't desire to be surfaces. You know, the impatient, distracted, and less than fully loving version. I believe this need of solidarity ranks fairly equivalent to rest for me (and I'm an extremely rest-dependent person). David wonderfully took all the children to the zoo one morning so that I could have some time to myself. I initially drew up a "to do" list and arranged it according to the time I had available. After all, do you know how much housework I could get accomplished on my own?! But, no. I decided to do something that would feed my soul. I prepared a cup of coffee in my favorite mug, sat on the back patio, and then read my current book and devotional for a couple hours. My friends, this moment was my happy place. Allowing my introversion some introspection was precisely the medicine needed. I may need to be a little more forward in asking for this kind of "me moment" at least once a month! I'm not very good at focusing on myself (clearly). hah

Brothers :)
    I believe I finally have a good system in place for incorporating greater Bible study and reading. These activities are so very important to my soul thriving, but yet so difficult to include in a day with three children three years old and under and constant housework needs. I've been going through the Be Mature (James): Growing Up In Christ study by Warren Wiersbe. So far, I've enjoyed the commentary and study. It's highly informative, but not so much that meaning is lost. I try to first read the passage in my Bible. Then, in my notebook I'll write down anything noteable from the commentary section of my Bible. Afterwards, I'll read Wiersbe's commentary book and makes notes in my notebook. This has taken me many days to weeks to accomplish a single chapeter as time is often short. And so, as frequently as possible I'll reread the passage in the Bible, review my notes, and then read and write notes on a page or two from the commentary. This way the passage and previous content covered remains fresh on my mind.  Eventually, I get through a chapter. The slow pace is fine with me, though, because it allows plenty of time for me to learn the material and it stick with me. Apparently, there are quite a few study books in "The BE Series Commentary," and so I'll likely stick with them for a while.
Exploration bins filled with oats is always an afternoon favorite!

     In regards to other reading, I'm continuing to aim for reading just ten pages a day. Again, time to sit and focus on reading is in short supply currently. (I also tend to fall asleep if I attempt anything but brief moments! haha). But, at just 10 pages a day I should technically be able to finish a 300 page book in a month! (Although, realistically it generally takes me two months to read just 200 pages! But, that's okay because at least I'm reading, right? Right!). This demonstrates to me that there is little reason to not pursue reading. Honestly, it's such a wonderfully beneficial aspect in my life (hello, education...stress relief...etc). I wish I could encourage everyone enough to realize that reading is possible, even with a busy schedule. You just might have to adjust expectations, and that's okay. As always, you can find a complete list of books read by myself and the children by following the "bookshelves" tab at the top of the page.

Me: 
Children:
  • I haven't purchased new books for the children in a while. Instead, we've used the public library. I log those books within Goodreads, which you can find by following the "bookshelves" tab at the top of the page.

*Note: I am a personal affiliate with Amazon.com. As such, I receive a compensation for items purchased through the provided links. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced or sponsored. 

      In other news, one long awaited moment arrived- we paid off one of our vehicles! This is not intended to be boastful, but encouraging in demonstrating that it can be done. Ever since the medical bills began rolling in during and after my first rather complicated pregnancy, we set out on a debt-limited plan for our family. (We don't intend to be 100% debt free, as a house is an acceptable debt in our option. Our intention is to eliminate all other debt besides the house.). We began with a tiny snowball with a $2 medical bill three years ago. Each time a debt was paid we snowballed the amount into the next bill. We've been working towards owning our Yaris for a couple of years now, and we've reached our goal! Unlike previous snowballing actions, the car payment will not be incorporated into snowball for the next debt. Why? Because we'll need another vehicle at some point soon (all five of us in one vehicle with three fullsize carseats and a double stroller often in the back is super cramped). And so, the plan is to continue to apply to same snowball amount to the next debt and deposit what would have been the car payment into the savings. That savings can build while we look for another vehicle (hello, minivan!). Little by little we'll get there! It's always exciting to set a goal, work towards it and then finally see the end result achieved!     
   All in all, most things took a backseat to illnesses this month. Homemaking slid. Blogging slid. Homeschooling slid. It has been survival mode. I'm very much so looking forward to things getting back to normal soon. But, things won't be totally "normal" next month because the holiday season will have arrived. I'm excited to do a few of our Season of Thanksgiving activities together, celebrate Thanksgiving with that delicious meal, and have Papa & Nana (David's parents) come for a visit next month! Let's hope we can all stay well to then. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Menu Plan: Fall (Oct. 29-Nov. 4)

  
This week's menu plan:

Breakfasts
- pancakes
- eggs, biscuits, fruit

- yogurt, bagel with pumpkin spice cream cheese
- cereal
repeat 

Lunches
- leftovers or sandwiches


Snacks
- crackers & cheese slices
- popcorn (Friday night movie night)
- Little Debbie snack and apple cider (Tuesday Teatime)
- popsicles (Greens juice frozen into popsicle molds. Anything made into a popsicle is always a hit with the children!)
- graham crackers with peanut butter and mini chocolate chips
- trail mix
- apple and cheese slices

Dinners
- (freezer) chicken and spinach quesadillas, chips and salsa
- pesto tortellini
- minestrone soup
- Oktoberfest pork roast, sauerkraut with apples, green beans 
(source: Taste of Home Dinner on a Dime, 2009 ed. Similar cookbook*) 
- sweet potato fritters, pinto beans, collard greens
- homemade supreme pizza

Dessert
- ??? 

*Note: I am a personal affiliate of Amazon.com. As such, I receive a compensation for products purchased through the included links. All opinions are my own. 
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