Monday, April 27, 2015

Recent Reads: #2

    Throughout the week, I'll come across articles online that will serve as an encouragement to me. I thought I might begin saving them in a weekly post so that I could reread them when a reminder is necessary. I also thought some of them may be of an encouragement to anyone who reads this blog. If so, enjoy! :)

A Three Letter Word for More Joyful Parenting
      A powerful difference exists between thinking or saying "I have to" and "I get to." It's truly remarkable the positive impact this simple change of word choice has on parenting. "I have to" implies drudgery, whereas "I get to" implies privilege. While there are many tasks that have to be completed in a day's work of caring for child(ren) and the home, those duties are ultimately a privilege. It is a privilege that I am able to be home with my child(ren) and invest myself in him (soon to be them) like I currently do. I don't "have to" live out this mama-life like I do; I get to. Thank you, Lord, for that!


Why Pursue Domestic Excellence?
       An excellent motivation piece on why a pursuit of excellence within the home and/or family is a worthy endeavor. I really liked how the writer included the following:
Let's make a conscious decision right here and now to stop what my mom calls "Stinkin' Thinkin'." This includes, but isn't limited to:
  • Comparing our weaknesses to someone else's strengths
  • Downplaying our accomplishments 
  • Giving up when we have a set-back
  • Scoffing at apparent excellence/perfection as fake or unattainable

Now that those are gone from our psyche, replace them with "Positive Perceptions."
  • Using mistakes as springboards for growth
  • Sharing our skills and talents freely and unabashedly
  • Seeking out excellence to emulate
  • Focusing on what is important to us as individuals
- See more at: http://somuchtomake.blogspot.com/2015/01/why-pursue-domestic-excellence.html#sthash.GDzEffw7.dpuf
       All together, a wonderful article that I feel needs to be read, reread and shared frequently!

The Blessing of Children: Part 1- A God-Sized Vision of Motherhood
      I always find the writing to Leslie Ludy to be superb. The pieces provide such encouragement to me personally and as a mama. In this particular piece, she begins by describing the often negative portrayal of motherhood and the impact it has on one's decision to have children or delay. She then provides several Biblical truths regarding children. Finally, she provides encouragement and suggestions for how to overcome feeling defeated and be a joyful mama. I particular enjoyed when she said:
He is ready and able to give me every bit of grace and strength I need to experience victory instead of defeat, and joy instead of chaos.

This doesn’t mean there will never be moments or even seasons when things feel chaotic and out of control. And it doesn’t mean there won’t be times when the house looks like a hurricane hit it. But rather than resigning myself to an attitude of defeat and a lifestyle of chaos, I’ve chosen to keep my eyes upon the promises of God and pursue something better for my motherhood, by His grace. When chaotic moments come, the way I choose to respond makes the difference between motherhood victory and motherhood defeat.

- See more at: https://www.setapartmotherhood.com/magazine/christ-centered-mothering/1

       The above two articles are similar in subject matter. I have been so dismayed by so much negative and defeatist talk of motherhood by mamas, as well as scoffing at the ideals of or individuals in pursuit of excellence in motherhood. Yes, there are challenges and set backs in parenting. However, motherhood and children are so precious, and absolutely worthy of the pursuit of excellence. I strongly believe that this role and children are blessings in life, not burdens. I pray the conversation will turn towards this perspective. We can do this!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Baby 2 Pregnancy Journal: Week 32!

Notice anything else that's different? ;)
*I'm actually at 33 weeks now. 32 weeks was 4/19/15.*

This baby deep inside of me, ever so small, is a child of God. A child that God gave to me to take care of whether for a day or for years. That care began at conception. Whether he or she lives or dies each day I am with him or her is a gift and has a purpose with eternal consequences. My baby is now a part of my life, my testimony. -Brenda Rodgers, "New Rules for Announcing a Pregnancy"

How far along: 32 weeks!
"In these past few weeks, it's all about practice, practice, practice as she hones the skills she'll need to thrive outside the womb — from swallowing and breathing to kicking and sucking. And speaking of sucking, your little one has been able to suck her thumb for a while now. Something else to note: As more and more fat accumulates under your baby's skin, she's becoming less transparent and more opaque.-What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition

Baby size:  "tipping the scales at almost four pounds and topping out at just about 19 inches.-What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition

Since Tennyson was born close to this time, it's been really neat to have a comparison of about how big she is to how big he was after he arrived. (Actually, she's probably bigger than he was at that point since he was 3 weeks growth restricted). When she moves, I can so perfectly picture her little head or hand or foot! The idea of her being so big and even getting bigger while still on the inside is a little mind-boggling for me. The fact that pregnancy goes beyond this point is in itself a little astonishing to me. I've never experienced such! haha
Gender: Girl!

Belly: Oh, this belly! It, and I, feel huge! We're going to be quite impressive by the time she arrives! haha!

Sleep: Sleep has become rather fitful. I seem to be having trouble getting into a deep sleep. I toss and turn most nights, and by the time morning arrives I am ready to be done even trying to sleep. Haha. As a result, I try to get in at least a 30 minute nap in during the day.


   I know that I better take advantage of resting when Tennyson does during the day because soon there will be another little one needing my attention. There probably won't be too many occasions in which their naps will align allowing me to get that daily rest.

Clothes: I picked up a few tops at the local consignment event recently. I don't want to buy too many more maternity pieces this late, but I do want to have sufficient warmer weather maternity clothes. (The majority of both my pregnancies have been in the winter).

Movement:  I think taking care of a toddler and housework each day counts as adequate exercise! It can be rather tough to keep up at times! haha.

Baby Movement- She's not doing quite as full of movements, but she can still get in some strong kicks, punches and wiggles. One afternoon we were watching her move and could see the definition of her little fist or forearm. It was pretty neat! I'm looking forward to her joining us, but I'm also really going to miss ever feeling a baby move within me. I love all those wiggles and kicks!

Food aversions: I don't think there are any anymore. Anything and everything sounds and tastes fantastic.

Food cravings: Absolutely everything! I'm always hungry and always eating something. I'd love to say that it's always healthy food, but this baby girl loves her sweets! hehe.

Symptoms: Heartburn and reflux have picked up big time. It's not uncommon for me to wake up feeling like a fire-breathing dragon. The Pepcid bottle has become a fixture on my nightstand! haha.

What I'm excited about: I love looking down at this growing baby belly and feeling her there! I keep flashing back to the fact that Tennyson was nearly here at this point. When I pulled up the 32 week entry from the pregnancy post I wrote with him to get the baby size and development information, I realized that that was the last update I had made. As I reread it I thought, "Oh, honey. If only you knew you'd be delivering that baby the next week!" Thus, my current anxiety for her arrival. This being the same time that he arrived has made me a little on edge. Although, I absolutely want her to remain in and develop as long as possible, I'm also getting ready to have her with us on the outside. We don't know when she'll arrive. We just know it could be anytime between now and 40 weeks. These may be some pretty long weeks!

     I'm down to the last few shots! I'm beyond thrilled to finally be finishing them. I've done all that I can to endure and give her the best chance. I really, really hope that we can consequently skip the NICU stay. I would really like to have the dream come true of us being able to bring her home immediately.

In Other News:
     Speaking of the shots, I'm grieved by the knowing that if I have to do them again, then she'll be our last baby. I tear up every single time I think or say that. I'm really struggling to accept that reality. :/

      We're down to having OB appts. every two weeks. At the last appointment, we had a little discussion regarding delivery options. If she is head down, then he's confident for me to attempt a VBAC. I had assumed a repeat c-section, but now I'm actually considering a VBAC. There are lots of factors that would determine that decision yet (one of which being where would Tennyson go at a moment's notice considering we don't have family anywhere close). However, a part of me wants to attempt it still. I don't know if we'll actually do it or not. I don't feel prepared in the slightest bit for a non C-section delivery. I don't even know where to start at this point! But, if she is my last baby then this is my only chance at it. I can't carry babies, and so I at least want this one part to be an "I can do it!" experience. Perhaps it's not the best rationale but the inability to carry and deliver babies has remained constant struggle for me. I'll never know if I was capable of non-surgical delivery unless I try, right?


     My mind has been fixated on her arrival. Since we know that she could arrive any time between now and eight more weeks, I've been in constant prep mode. I keep thinking, "okay, if we were to need to suddenly head to the hospital right now: 1) are our bags close enough to being packed that finishing them would be quick? 2) do we have adequate food and/or meals in the house? (because I'm not going to want to do grocery shopping soon after returning home) and 3) will whoever that comes to help us following her delivery be seeing our home as tidy and well managed, or chaotic and messy? (This one may not be the most critical concern, but it does mean quite a bit to me). These concerns and more are ever present. It's tough having such a long period of anticipation!

32 weeks completed! How many more to go? :)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Preserving Family Memories

      My love language is completely "quality time." Moments mean so much to me! And so, naturally, I enjoy taking lots of pictures to capture those moments. I always enjoy going back and looking over the photos of such wonderful times in life.
The two pages pictured above are from my high school album.
I once really enjoyed creating handmade scrapbook pages!
 

      I used to preserve those captured memories in scrapbooks. I started scrapbooking when I was a young teen, and spent quite a few years as an avid scrapbooker. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the creativity and organization aspects of the scrapbooking process, the activity eventually fell to the side. I no longer had the kind of time, finances, or storage space required to create such lovely albums. The same problems applied to even printing so many photos. I needed a better solution.

 
     I've recently begun working on creating photobooks online and then having them printed. I still can have my fun photo albums, but not the hassle! I simply drag and drop the photos that are already uploaded into our family's ShareSite (Shutterfly) onto pre-designed pages. I can then arrange them however I wish. The pre-designed layouts maximize the number of photos I can include while still keeping the pages attractive. I don't have to make any trips to stores to buy expensive specialty scrapbooking supplies. I don't have to deal with a mess  mess of supplies strewn all over the dining table. Or, rush to clear the table leaving unfinished page projects accumulating. I also don't have to find storage space to store all those supplies, which is especially important in a small living space. Another advantage is that I save a lot of time creating the pages at the computer. I might decide to spend 10-15 minutes or just complete a page or two on the book when I have a little bit of time in the day. If I need to come back to it, then I easily can by just a quick computer log-in.  I love it!
 
     Of course, there are some drawbacks to creating these less handmade photo albums. You really lose a lot of the creativity element with the pre-designed pages and embellishments. Although, the selection is expansive it is still rather limited. For instance, when creating our family yearbooks it would be nice to have some seasonally themed pages, but those aren't necessarily available in every book style. The books can also be very expensive. I never order a book without at least one coupon code applied (sometimes two!). I used a 50% off coupon plus a free shipping coupon to order our 2014 Family Yearbook, and it was still $84! This is quite the stretch for someone who prefers to be much more frugal with finances, but I know that it's something I'll absolutely cherish forever and worth the expense.
 
I've created photobooks for the following purposes:
 
Grandparents' Gifts
      Photobooks make fantastic gifts! Grandparents love photos of their grandchildren, and photobooks make perfect means of sharing such. I used the our budgeted gift amount for each set of grandparents ($50) to create albums of our family from the previous year. (In order to include Christmas photos, they actually receive their gifts a few weeks after Christmas). I customize the albums to be suitable for each set of grandparents. They really enjoyed their books, and I really enjoyed a more simplified approach to gifting! Photobooks for Christmas gifts will definitely become a gift tradition.


Journals
        Photobooks also make a great place to preserve journals and/or blog posts. I occasionally enjoy reading through my old journals. It's fascinating to see where I was at that time in life. One of my favorite journal keepsakes has become my pregnancy journals. I have written bi-weekly updates with photos and posted them on my blog(s) for each of my pregnancies. I recently created an entire photobook with each pregnancy update entry from my pregnancy with Tennyson. I absolutely love having this book! Pregnancy is such an incredible time, and one that I won't experience but a couple times in life. I'm so glad I will have the book! I'm working on creating a book of my pregnancy with Annelise as well. I think it will be so neat for them to one day read of how excited and over-joyed we were to be expecting them!
 

The main pages include a baby belly photo and journal. It's so neat to go back and read these entries!
 
 
I included pictures of everything related to the pregnancy- ultrasound pictures, baby belly photos, shower photos, his hospital picture etc.

 
Family Yearbooks
         I simply don't have the capacity to print and store the volume of photos I take, especially now that I have child(ren). I may have a couple hundred photos taken in one month alone! Instead, I've begun to create a family yearbook. The book is organized by month with approximately nine pages per month of photos. My favorite photos from each month are so wonderfully organized in a single slim album! In the back of each book I have a memorabilia pocket with DVDs of all the photos and videos taken during the year. A single flashdrive would have held everything as well, but I like that the DVDs are flat and won't distort the pages when the book is closed. My intention is for all photos and videos to be kept in one place. Because the yearbooks max out the number of pages allowed per book, they can be quite expensive. As a result, I especially only order yearbooks with a coupon (or two!). It's a worthy expense though.

A couple of pages from our most recent family yearbook:
(My husband is in the book as well. He's just not in these particular pages. ;) )


 
Creating Photobooks
     I create my photobooks through Shutterfly. We already use the ShareSite portion of the site to share photos with friends and family, and so by using them for albums as well I only have to upload photos once. I don't have time to upload to multiple places (which is one reason I don't use Facebook for sharing photos). I aim to upload photos at the end of each month. Sometimes it takes me a few days to upload everything, depending on how much time I have to be at the computer and how many photos there are to upload. I may then spend ten minutes here and there during the next month organizing those photos into pages. It's definitely much easier to upload and create pages one month at a time than all at once at the end of the year when you're read to print. (I've learned this tip from experience! It took me months to get a yearbook put together at one time).
 
 
      Photobooks are a fantastic way to save those wonderful memories without all the fuss of hands-on scrapbooking and added clutter to the home. Memories and stories are preserved beautifully! I imagine my children enjoying looking through the pages of each book in the future! 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Focused Play: Shape Puzzle

Hape First Shapes Puzzle (link below) 
 
     Hape has become one of our favorite brands for quality toys. This particular shape puzzle by the company is fantastic. What makes this puzzle different is that the pieces can fit in any direction. This is perfect for early learners! It's also simplified with only four main shapes in distinct colors. It's one of Tennyson's favorites!
     The puzzle is not only fun to him, but also a great learning tool. There are several ways to encourage learning through play with this puzzle:
  • Name the colors
  • Name the shapes
  • Demonstrate the unique edges of each shape. For example, show child how the triangle has three sides.
  • Count the pieces
  • Help child place each piece in their proper slot on the board
  • Ask child to hand you a certain piece based on color or shape.
    He's pretty good about placing the pieces in the board. We can also ask for a piece of a certain color and he'll hand us a piece. He doesn't always get them correct, but he's learning! He has other puzzles, but this one is by far the best beginner puzzle. I highly recommend it!
 
Recommended Resource:

*Affiliate link*
I am personally an affiliate with Amazon.com. As such, I receive a small compensation for items purchased through links on this site. Thank you!

Thoughts on Easter



     I've thought considerably about Easter traditions this year. Why is Easter celebrated as it is? What do I wish for our family's Easter celebration to be?

Past and Present Celebrations

      Last year, I was an overwhelmed first-time Mama. The holiday had arrived before I even realized it, and I was unprepared. I was then made aware of the Easter celebration expectations that I had failed to meet- the new dressy Easter outfits, photo with the Easter Bunny, Easter egg hunts, and the Easter basket filled with treats.

His Easter basket included: bubbles,
Annie's Bunny crackers,
My Farm Friends board book,
 sleeved bib,
and Baby Einstein "Meet the Orchestra" DVD
 
     This year, moved by a desire to not disappoint I decided to put forth greater effort into preserving some of these traditions. I debated purchasing new Easter outfits, but ultimately didn't quite know what was suitable for the occasion and didn't favor spending the money for an outfit that wasn't practical for everyday wear. We also skipped the Easter egg hunt. I think the egg hunt would be more enjoyable when he's older and the primary participant versus Mama picking up eggs for him. We did assemble an Easter basket for him. I purchased a modest basket and some eggs. I then spent weeks trying to figure out what to put in that basket. I browsed the internet, and was amazed at the contents of Easter baskets nowadays! When did Easter gifting become as extravagant as Christmas?! I decided to limit the gifting to five items: 1- something he could read, 2- something he could wear, 3- something he needed, 4- something he wanted (ie a toy or activity), and 5- something he could eat. I didn't want to purchase junky toys or foods, but things that are worthwhile and searched for so long that the items barely arrived in time. Even though we did offer an Easter basket, we didn't make much mention of the Easter Bunny or the story of he bringing the basket. We also skipped the photo with the Easter Bunny. We simply left the basket's appearance as simply part of the Easter celebration. 

     Honestly, the basket was tough for me to put together. My love language is not gifts, but quality time. Therefore, my focus was more on Easter-themed activities we could do together in the time leading up to Easter than the basket of stuff on Easter morning. I personally find activities and quality time much more fulfilling than stuff. This aspect of celebrating Easter was an enjoyable one and one that I intend to include every year. (Our Easter activities this year included: Easter Egg Drop, Easter Egg Water Play, Footprint Art, and lots of play with Easter eggs in general).

     Somewhere along the line in going through these traditions, I began to seriously question their purpose and message. Honestly, I'm not certain if we'll continue them in the future.     
  

The Cross, the Bunny, or Both

     At the root of the dilemma is this- Do I wish for our family's celebration to be about the cross, the bunny or both? I was raised within these traditional Easter customs, and so was David. Yet, I find myself desiring to exclude those these from our family's celebration. I find myself desiring one thing alone and that is to make Easter a purely religious occasion.

      It's long been fascinating to me how Christians will stand and fight for "Jesus is the reason for the season" and "Keep Christ in Christmas" platforms. Some will abstain from the inclusion of the Santa Claus figure and story. Others may make a birthday cake for Jesus. This is a touchy subject for sure. Yet, there is wide acceptance of celebrating Easter with the Easter Bunny and baskets of gifts etc. If there was ever an occasion for "Jesus is the reason for the season" slogan, then Easter is it.

    The fact is there is no Biblical basis for either holiday. We are not instructed to celebrate either occasion. The difference lies in the whether the holiday was made to fit the religious event or the event for the holiday. Christmas is an occasion in which the religious event was made to fit the holiday. Easter, on the other hand, is an occasion in which the holiday was created to fit the religious event. 
 
     As a family, we have chosen to not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. We don't necessarily celebrate the Santa Claus or other seasonal stories either. Instead, we focus intensely on sharing moments together within the season. Togetherness moments like decorating the house, watching holiday movies, baking (and eating!) yummy holiday treats etc. It's the moments together that we hope create the magic of the Christmas season for our children.
 
     In regard to Easter, my heart is to also convey greater significance of the occasion. Easter is a bit different than Christmas in that it seems appropriate to me for it to be a religious holiday. How do I convey it to be such to our children, though?

     My experience with Easter lessons have been one or two ways: 1) overly graphic in the portrayal of the crucifixion and/or 2) overly simplified and "sweetened." In one of our former churches, the children were excluded from the Easter service due to the graphic imagery displayed on the screen (usually clips from videos depicting the crucifixion). I, being a very visual person, would try to look away and busy my mind, but would still leave feeling sick. I suppose some individuals may need a visual or other descriptive telling of human suffering to grasp the concept, but that has never been necessary for me. I hated Easter services.


     Children certainly can't be exposed to such content, yet are still expected to grasp the same message. Their lesson may include very abbreviated and edited versions of the crucifixion story, sweet treats like resurrection rolls, crafts depicting a cross or tomb with a cheery-looking Jesus standing nearby, Resurrection Eggs etc. I recall several of these activities when I worked for a Christian preschool. I wondered if the children were merely picking up on it being just another story and another set of activities. How does one possibly balance these two lesson styles and really impress upon children the meaning of this occasion? (I'm not condemning these activities in any means and feel that they do compliment the holiday well, and we'll probably use them as part of our own holiday activities at some point.)

       As with most faith-related instances, I believe the greatest way to teach is not through what is said but what is seen. In other words, for my children to grasp the significance of this occasion they need to observe it having a significant impact and influence on me. How do I approach Easter personally? Am I personally in celebration of the message of the event? I want my children to see that this event, this holiday, isn't just about fun activities/traditions and going to church. This occasion is deeply personal. It's an occasion that I wish to talk about at it approaches, not because I feel a need to teach them but because I'm so personally moved by it.

     And so, next year we may celebrate Easter in a different way that we've done in the past. We may do away with the bunny and basket. We may, instead, focus on preparing our hearts for the coming day in which Jesus, our Savior, removes our sins forever and rises. We will, of course, continue to also include simple seasonal activities that we can enjoy together. But may our greatest joy of this season be found in the message of redemption.

     That is what my heart longs to see my children grasp from this holiday.



A resource* we may incorporate into our family's Easter celebration next year:


 
(*Note: I am a personal affiliate with Amazon.com. As such, I receive a small compensation for any purchases made through links on this site. Thank you!)
 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Baby 2 Pregnancy Journal: Week 30!

This baby deep inside of me, ever so small, is a child of God. A child that God gave to me to take care of whether for a day or for years. That care began at conception. Whether he or she lives or dies each day I am with him or her is a gift and has a purpose with eternal consequences. My baby is now a part of my life, my testimony. -Brenda Rodgers, "New Rules for Announcing a Pregnancy"

How far along: 30 weeks!

"growing daily is his brain, which is actually starting to look like the real thing with those characteristic grooves and wrinkles. And now that your little genius can regulate his own body temperature and turn up the heat, he'll start shedding lanugo, the downy body hair that's been keeping him warm up until now." -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition

Baby size:  "... weighing in at over three pounds now (he'll be packing on the weight at a rate of half a pound per week for the next seven weeks). ." -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition

*According to the ultrasound this week, she is 3lb 4oz. She doesn't appear to be experiencing any growth restriction at this point. Hooray!

Gender: Girl!

Belly: Oh, this belly! It, and I, feel huge! We're going to be quite impressive by the time she arrives! haha!

Sleep: Sleep varies. Some nights are great. Others, though, are less than ideal and will rather wear on me. these nights I typically can't get comfortable and will ache. Eventually, my body will demand rest and I'll sleep soundly. David has been wonderful getting up with Tennyson during the night so I can sleep. He has also encouraged me to rest when I can. He has done so much to lighten my load so that I can rest when an opportunity presents itself. I'm so grateful for such a caring husband!


Clothes: Tennyson and I made an impromptu trip to the store for some cooler clothing. It has warmed up quickly this year, and I was finding that it was time to replace some of my winter maternity clothes with some spring/summer ones. Ah, short sleeves and thinner material is so much nicer! There may be a few more shopping trips in the future!

Movement:  I think taking care of a toddler and housework each day counts as adequate exercise! It can be rather tough to keep up at times! haha.

I recently sold our single stroller with the intention of purchasing a double stroller. Until it arrives, I'm really missing having a stroller for walks around the neighborhood. I hate to miss an opportunity for us to get outside and go for a walk when the weather is nice. I'm really looking forward to sharing the walk with both children in a few months. (And then I'll really be getting my exercising pushing a stroller with two children!)

Baby Movement- It is amazing how much she moves and how hard she can punch or kick! She'll be quiet and resting until I lay down to rest and then she's quite the wiggle worm! I love every move she makes!

Food aversions: I don't think there are any anymore. Anything and everything sounds and tastes fantastic.

Food cravings: Absolutely everything! I'm always hungry and always eating something. I'd love to say that it's always healthy food, but this baby girl loves her sweets! hehe.

What I'm excited about: I love looking down this growing baby belly and feeling her there! I can hardly believe that we're already at the 30 week mark, and it won't be too much longer until she arrives. I am still just so excited to watch her grow and discover the person she will be!

 I'm absolutely thrilled with so much positive news from the latest ultrasound- proper position, proper growth, and no signs of preterm labor! Perhaps we'll have a newborn instead of a preemie. I unpacked and washed her newborn clothes just in case. It would be a dream to be able to hold her and bring her home instead of having a NICU stay. We'll do whatever we need to do, though, to get her home safely. I'm so excited for her to join our family!

Last, I'm down to only five more weekly shots! I feel empowered and strengthened by the fact that I've endured fifteen of them already. Nonetheless, I've been mentally struggling with them lately. They're a real doozy for sure. But after seeing her on the ultrasound and hearing of her great growth, I'm feeling encouraged to push on in getting these last five. She's absolutely worth it!

In Other News: Nesting is at a high. I'm feeling an intense need to organize everything in sight! With that motivation, I'm getting quite a lot accomplished. Haha.

Focused Play: Easter Water Play


      Easter has already passed, but I hadn't gotten to post our last Easter activity. I thought it would be fun to do a little water play with some Easter eggs and measuring cups. I also added a few drops of food coloring to the water so that he could better see depth.

Materials:
  • large container (I found an empty storage tote in our garage and washed it up for use)
  • assorted Easter eggs
  • measuring cups, scoops, spoons etc. 
  • optional: food coloring or bath colors for tinting water

To Play:
      Demonstrate concepts such as scooping the eggs with the measuring cups, and pouring water from cup to cup or cup to container.

       Allow child plenty of opportunity for free play and simple exploration.


     Tennyson was less than thrilled with this activity. He wasn't keen on playing in the water in the least. Perhaps it would have been more appealing if he were older and showing more interest in water play, or it was a cool and refreshing activity for a hot day outside. Perhaps better luck next year! :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A New Way to Read

      I have a bit of a weak spot for books. I really enjoy the growth potential that resides between the pages. With a little one, however, I rarely find the opportunity to just sit and read a book. Presently, a book may take me months to finish as I typically achieve only a few pages a day. Life is busy as a Mama!

     I've consequently turned to a new way to "read"- with my ears. Audio books are a perfect solution to reading in this current season of life. I frequently will turn on some music or something else for us to listen to during the day so why not a book? Audiobooks have also been wonderful travel companions on our weekly trips to my appointments (1 hr. drive each week provides ample opportunity for progress through a book on cd).

     Of course, I miss having a hands-on copy of the books. I'm the kind of reader that loves to take her time through a physical book highlighting, underlining, and writing comments in the margins. Later, I can flip through the pages easily to find a passage. (Thus, I've never converted to eReaders). I also prefer physical books for financial reasons. I typically purchase used books when they're $0.01 (+$3.99 shipping) on Amazon. Even used audiobooks (on cd) are more expensive. (I'm not sure if there is another resource for used audiobook cds or not).

     Despite a few drawbacks, though, I've been thoroughly enjoying finally getting to partake of the content of books that have been sitting on my bookshelf. For instance, this past month I've been listening to Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than Make Us Happy by Gary Thomas. This book is phenomenal, and has really transformed my perspective and approach to marriage. Had it not been for listening to it each week during our doctor office trips, then it would probably still be sitting on the shelf waiting to be read. Up next will be, Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst. I'm eager to begin this book (because sometimes you need a little insight into gaining greater emotional self-control).

     I don't intent to rely on audiobooks long term. Soon, Tennyson will drop his morning nap and Annelise will be taking hers. During that time, he and I will be able to have our focused playtime together, and then he will have quiet (independent) play in the pack n' play while I read. I feel he witnessing me reading will encourage a love of reading in his own life. We're not quite to that point yet, and so until then I'll continue to enjoy "reading" with my ears!
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