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Thursday, August 10, 2017
Thursday, August 3, 2017
|We spent this particular morning outside pretending to ride on a train drawn in chalk.|
One resource that has really helped me along this past month has been the writings of Sally Clarkson. Sally Clarkson is one of my favorite authors/speakers. She writes and speaks extensively on motherhood, the home, and the family. I love how she encourages idealism and excellence, two ambitions which aren't always exalted in society but are fitting to my personality. She demonstrates a life lived in following Christ. Her books, blog posts and podcasts have been such strong motivators and encouragements to me. If you have not read or listened to her materials, then I highly recommend doing so.
In regards to the children, they seem to have grown by leaps and bound lately! We have long been working with Tennyson on how to properly respond when he's upset. If he react towards someone, then we have him say he's sorry and give him/her a hug (or otherwise make it right). Finally, those lessons seem to be clicking! Now, he catches himself making a poor choice in behavior and immediately follows up with the apology and hug. You can see that he genuinely slipped up and knew it. Interesting to look back and see how much behavior was genuinely due to immaturity from such a young age. First child teaches mama a whole lot in parenting! I've also noticed growth in his pretend play. It is so fun to enter his world and play along with him. He's also grown in size, or rather height. Every bit of size he gets goes straight towards height. He's now up to my waist! He's quite the long-legged boy.
3 1/2 years old!
He got to "meet" his favorite book character- Backhoe Joe*!
Tennyson and Huxley continue to be best buds. Tennyson loves to play with Huxley and make him laugh. That's not a difficult task as Mr. Huxley is such a happy little guy. He grins and laugh readily! He also happily plays when he wakes, even all through the night! With the effort of cutting more teeth, nighttime sleep has returned to being rather fitful. His front teeth gave him quite a bit of trouble coming through. Now that they're through (teeth count at 4 currently), it appears as though he'll soon be cutting four more very soon. Phew! He's nearly 20lbs and wears 9 month clothes. He's practicing getting up on his knees and working on crawling every chance he gets.
|5 months old! He's the happiest little guy!|
|2 years old and all spunk!|
Books We're Reading:
I ordinarily like to purchase a new book for each of the children each month. However, I purchased a huge box of used books back in June, and so we have plenty to keep us busy currently. We also check out fourteen books from the library for read-aloud/snack time. A complete list of books we've read can be found on our online Bookshelves. A few in particular this month:
- Devotions for Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas*
- I read aloud one devotional each Sunday on our way to church. It's been a really nice way to casually read together. Highly recommend!
- Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease*
- I love this book! It is so very well researched and written. I wish I could get a copy of it into every parent's hands. This topic is so important! Highly recommend!
- The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart for Eternity by Sally Clarkson*
- This book, along with most other Sally Clarkson material, makes my heart happy. I've enjoyed this book immensely. My copy has so many underlinings and marks in the margins. She is like the mentor I've longed for, but never found. Just lovely. Highly recommend!
- (Read to Tennyson) Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne*
- I wasn't sure how well he'd enjoy this particular type of book. To my delight, he seems to enjoy it! He'll ask for it at bedtime or during outside playtime (two of my favorite times for reading aloud). I checked out a copy from the library, but I'm fairly certain I'll be purchasing it for our bookshelves so that we might enjoy it again and again!
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
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*Note: This post is not intended to be in condemnation of the playroom. On the contrary, it is to simply demonstrate strategies for raising children without a playroom. We've now raised our children in two locations, and have encountered a playroom-less home to be a rarity. When seeking ideas and strategies for managing the children's day without such a resource, I've found very few. Therefore, I hope the following will be helpful for anyone in a similar position. These are ideas that I have sought out, implemented, and have worked well for our family.
For the first two years of our parenting journey, we lived in a small townhome. The two bedroom, tightly-configured space didn't leave any options for a play area. This home, however, provided inspiration to find alternatives for toy storage and play. For instance, we kept all toys in a hall closet upstairs. (It was previously a linen closet, but after some shifting of items to other locations of our home it provided a perfect space to store toys!). We would select a few toys to bring downstairs and stored them in a large basket that fit within our entertainment unit. Periodically, I would rotate the toys available in that basket. The children came to know this system as the only means for toys and play, and were perfectly content! When we would visit places with playrooms abounding with toy options, it was evident that they were intrigued but highly overwhelmed. (And, honestly, the sheer volume of mess overwhelmed me!). It can be difficult to fully explore an individual toy, learn to take proper care of the item or space, and be calm and content in such an environment. This, at least, has been our experience.
|The toy closet|
Each child has a wooden crate in their bedroom. The crate houses just a few of their favorite toys or some of the more gender-specific toys. They are welcome to play with those items anytime they are in their bedrooms but not sleeping. The limited quantity allows the clean-up to be quick and manageable for little ones.
|Annelise's crate in her bedroom|
|Bins in the school room|
|Play yard in the living room|
|The dirt pit!|
|Activities and toy storage in the shed|
*Note: I apologize if the formatting of this post is off. Our computer is still struggling to function properly. :(
Sunday, July 9, 2017
I will be taking a brief blogging break while our computer is being repaired. I will still be updating other pages:
Facebook page -www.facebook.com/ourhomemakingstory
Pinterest boards- www.pinterest.com/homemakingstory
Instagram page- www.instagram.com/ourhomemakingstory (send private message to follow).
Saturday, June 10, 2017
Clearly, blogging has not happened this month. I really wish I could post more but I simply don't have the time. I stay so busy during the day caring for the children and our home. My time for other pursuits is even more limited when David travels for work as much as he has this month. I'm not yet totally giving it up because this little space means so much to me and I so thoroughly enjoy the memories recorded. However, posting may continue to be very sporadic. Instagram and the Facebook page have become more preferable as they do not require quite as much time as writing full blog posts. Perhaps when all three children nap well during the day I can pick it up again. I do miss it, and greatly appreciate everyone who continues to follow!
At the beginning of last month I was ready to move on from breastfeeding. Little Huxley and I were continuing to experience lots of problems from the oversupply and fast/forceful letdown situation. I decided to give myself a break by simply pumping and bottle feeding for a while. Unfortunately, since a pump doesn't empty as well as a baby and I make so much milk I ended up with a bad case of mastitis within a few days. It was by far the worst case I've had yet with it, and having to continue as normal in caring for the home and children didn't help matters. A couple of days and multiple cabbage leaves (crazy remedy, but it works!) later, I finally got it to clear up. (phew!).
After that experience, I returned to breastfeeding and I think we'll be pushing through just a little while longer. I don't want to experience that again! So, despite some continued problems we've pressed on. And, somewhere along the way I fell in love with breastfeeding. It's always been so problematic for me with the oversupply issues that it's always been more of a pragmatic matter. However, this time is different. Perhaps it's the effect of not knowing if this will be our last baby and my last time to feed a baby myself. Whatever the case, I'm now delighting in holding him close and loving on him in a way that only I can at this moment.
Traveling Days & Parenting Solo
This month was a very busy time for David traveling. He was gone one week to PA, then home a week, then gone a week to CO, then home a week. To say I was nervous about having full-time care of the home and children while he was gone is an understatement. Three children three years old and under all day everyday is no small feat. The week flying solo started out a bit rough as we had a plumbing problem and an adjustment for the children, but by the end of the week we were making it through just fine. I learned a few valuable lessons during these times:
1. I'm stronger and more capable than I knew
2. It's okay to cut myself some slack (paper plates and semi-homemade meals are just
3. Prioritizing and letting go of nonessentials is a must. (So what if we don't do and go
like some other families?!)
4. I can keep my cool to be calm and joyful in any situation, even tantrums
5. I can get by on very little sleep (hello, night time "napping." It's not pretty but I made it)
Tennyson is in the middle of that "big emotions" time in life. I think I'm learning how to handle things just as much as he is! One thing I know for certain is that the more upset I get the more upset he gets. If I can remain calm and compassionate, then he can heed the lesson much better. Disappointment/disapproval from me and/or strong disciple are not effective at all with him. He's a sensitive soul and internalizes things so easily. It's a quality I'm needing to learn more about so that I can reach and encourage him to thrive in his own way.
On another note, I've observed a characteristic of Tennyson's learning style. He does not cooperate with Q & A. Casually reveals knowledge within conversation. It's really remarkable how much he knows (and how much has come from books!)! I think a literature-based homeschool approach will be very well suited for him in the future.
|23 months old!|
One big moment for her this month was getting a big girl bed! She has really enjoyed the extra freedom and is much calmer when she wakes. However, this has also meant that keeping her in bed has been a bit of a challenge. haha
|3 months old!|
Now that I've had multiple children, I'm more convinced that some things are more personality than training. Two have been poor sleepers and one..well, decent sleeper. Two have been belly sleepers and one is a back sleeper. Two have not taken a pacifier whatsoever and one absolutely loves it. So far, one is a picky eater and one eats everything offered. Two are of a calm personality and one is spirited.
|Colored water exploration bin to go|
with our tot school unit that features
the color yellow
New Books We're Enjoying This Month:
I like to purchase at least one new book for each of us each month. For an additional look into the books we've enjoyed in our home, click the "Bookshelves" tab at the top of the page and then follow the links to our various online bookshelves.
- *Devotions for Sacred Parenting: A Year of Weekly Devotions for Parents by Gary Thomas
- I love *Sacred Parenting and *Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. These two books alone have transformed my perspective and approach towards these entities. I highly, highly recommend either of these books. The devotional book has been a wonderful resource for daily/weekly doses of wisdom.
- *Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Laura Markham
- I read Positive Parenting by Rebecca Eanes last month and loved it. I wanted to read more of this approach to parenting! This book is far more comprehensive. So far, some of the concepts are very good and others are a little extreme. I feel like it's a "chew the meat, spit out the bones" kind of book. Those "meat" portions though have been very helpful. Calm and connection are two qualities that I greatly desire for our family.
- *Amazing Airplanes by Tony Mitton
- We have *Amazing Trains as a part of our tot school curriculum. Tennyson really enjoys this book and has become quite good at naming all the trains and train parts. This book is part of a series and I thought the airplane book in the series would be a good addition. It would also help excite and prepare the children for our upcoming plane rides.
- *Five Little Ducks by Annie Kubler
- This book is the fun little song in book form. Annelise really enjoys songs and their motions. Always fun when she can sit and sing the song as she flips through the pages.
- *Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
- This was the first book we got when Tennyson was a baby. We read it almost daily during his first year. Unfortunately, it didn't make it in our move to TX. I thought it only appropriate to purchase another copy of the book for the younger two children to enjoy as well.
Friday, May 12, 2017
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- "Tiny Tot School" refers to activities designed for Annelise's age (1-2 yrs old). This isn't a formal academic curriculum but more so just simple activities. For instance, this week we sang "I'm a Little Teapot," learned the sign for "no," read Llama, llama Red Pajama, stacked blocks and played "cushion crawl" (simply acting silly crawling over and around big cushions/pillows in the floor).
- "Tot School" refers to activities for Tennyson's age (2-3 yrs. old). We use the "All Aboard the Animal Train" curriculum from My Father's World. Again, this isn't a strict, formal academic curriculum but just simple activities. For example, this week we sang a song and played a corresponding game, read a story, sang "This Little Light of Mine" with the hand motions, worked on a puzzle, and then ended the week with a yellow water exploration bin outside.
- "Morning Jobs" refers to helping to unloading the dishwasher and to helping move laundry from the washing machine to the dryer. Both children are able to do these tasks. My desire is for them to begin to have a role in maintaining our home each day.
- "Personal interest" during naptime- If I don't designate or schedule such as this then it likely won't happen! It also likely won't happen if a little one takes a while to go to sleep or wakes early from sleep. I've learned to hold this time very loosely. Sometimes I get the opportunity, and sometimes I don't (okay, most of the time I don't but that's just the way it goes!).
- "Afternoon cleaning"- For me, the housework is manageable if I work on a little bit each day. So, I aim to have two rooms tidied and one deeper cleaning task completed each week. I haven't had the children join me in this effort just yet, but I'm going to try to begin incorporating them by assigning them one simple task as I work (such as picking up blocks if that particular room has toys strewn about). We may be successful in them helping, but we may not. They will at least witness that tidying up is a normal part of the day. haha
- Anything else?
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
One really nice aspect of home ownership is the ability to personalize the house or property. Being somewhat 'all or nothing' kind of people, we decided to tackle one room or area each year. We create a plan for the space, save up the funds, and then complete the project in it's entirety.
Last summer when we moved into the house, we promptly began converting the existing formal dining room into a school/office/guest room. We knew we would need this particular space to be set up and functional before any of the other areas of the house. This room has been so nice to have! All our books are stored there in the large bookshelf (that's not entirely true, we have books all over the house! haha), our desk is in there and easily accessible, and our guests have used the room during their stays. I certainly will always want a space like this in future homes!
This year's home project has been our backyard. I love spending time outside. Depending on the heat, I like for the children and I to be able to spend some time outside each morning and afternoon. I also thoroughly enjoy sitting on the patio talking to my husband. I think being outside when the weather is nice is far more preferable than sitting inside all the time! Fresh air is good for the soul, right? Right!
So, since we spend so much time outside we wanted to spruce it up a bit. David and I both enjoy gardening. We've attempted a container garden outside our apartments every year we've been married. We talked and dreamed quite a bit about the garden beds we would create since we purchased the house! We created three garden beds in our backyard:
1) Herb Garden
The border bricks were originally lining the side fence in a similar fashion. That garden bed, however, had long been neglected. We relocated the pavers to the side of the house and created an herb garden. In this garden we have: sweet mint, cinnamon basil, greek oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, fern-leaf dill, chives, chocolate mint, fennel, cilantro, mexican taragon, peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm, grapefruit mint, pineapple sage, and stevia. In front of the herb plants are marigold plants. This bed will really be quite nice when it fills out fully. We will also have an abundance of fresh herbs to use now or dry to use later!
2) Flower Garden
This is one of my favorites! The border bricks were orginally just stacked beside the shed building. We wanted to create a garden in this particular garden bed for a couple of reasons. One, in considering the potential for snakes and the likelihood of them residing between the shed and fence, we wanted to block off access for the children. We didn't see any snakes last year, but have heard about snakes in Texas. I'd rather be cautious and not encounter one if at all possible, and I certainly don't want the children coming upon one while playing in that area. A second reason for this garden bed is to attempt to naturally repel mosquitoes. The mosquito population is greater here than anywhere else we've ever lived. Annelise and I are particularly tasty to them. So, within this bed are several mosquito-repellent plants. Hopefully, they will be helpful and we'll not fight with the mosquitoes quite as much this year! Beyond those reasons, I'm enjoying this garden bed for it's simply beauty. I really love the finished look!
3) Vegetable Garden
This is the main focus of our gardening! David spent several weekends creating four 4x8ft. and one 4x4ft raised bed gardens. We then determined the vegetables we wanted to grow and created a plan according to the principles of square foot gardening. We were able to plant and grow a lot in these beds! We're excited to grow and preserve some of our own food! We're also delighted to be able to raise the children with an experience of where food comes from (beyond the store)!
|The large beds line the fence to make the most use of our small backyard.|
|brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, collard greens, curly-leaf kale, red swiss chard, sweet potatoes|
|red onions, scallions, yellow onions, romain lettuce, lima beans, crook-neck squash, zucchini squash, corn, green beans|
|purple hull peas, zipper cream peas, okra, japanese eggplant, butternut squash|
(The hangers were already on the fence. We thought we'd make use of them by growing strawberries in baskets. Plus, they should also attract some pollinators to the garden beds)
Outside Activities/Toys Organization
I cleared out half of the shed for use in storing the children's outside activities and toys. We can now easily choose activities and then put them back away.
|Activity/Toy bins include: gardening, chalk, bubbles, water, sand (shovels, molds etc), construction trucks, and sports (balls). Tools used in the exploration bins are stored within those bins.|
|The gardening activity bin|
Monday, April 24, 2017
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This has been one of our least successful activities. First, the tip of the string was more difficult than expected for them to string through the beads. I think they would have been more successful if the end of the string wasn't so floppy. Or, simply wait until an older age than when I had introduced it to them. Second, if you notice there are bites taken out of the bead pieces. This was the main reason this activity isn't brought out very often and if it is there must be close supervision. I don't care to pick up dozens if small foam bits from the floor or have the activity itself destroyed!
4) Scent Bottles
The children really enjoyed these! These are simply a set of travel bottles within which I added a scented element inside (essential oils, extracts, pieces of herbs or other aromatic plants). The children have enjoyed squeezing the bottles and smelling the various scents!
5) Velcro Sticks
The children call these "sticky sticks." They are simply the largest colored craft sticks and pieces of velcro. These are fantastic for creative play, and we've often brought them in an activity bag for church. We've also used them to create various shapes (triangle, square, rectangle, pentagon etc.). They will hold the shapes up to their faces like frames and giggle.
I'm not sure what you'd call this activity. It consists of an empty container (formerly filled with peppercorns) and cut pieces of pipe cleaners. The idea is to insert the pipe cleaners into the small holes of the lid. It's a great fine motor skill activity!
7) Pom-Pom Drop
This activity is similar to the Coin Drop activity, but easier for younger ones to complete. It's created from an old dairy container. I purchased a value bag of various sized pom-poms from the craft store to accompany it. The nice thing about the container being something ordinary is that I can always get another lid and cut smaller holes for smaller pom-poms. So, it can increase in required fine motor skill as they do.
8) Ribbon Pull Box
This is also a favorite! I simply poked holes in a small box and inserted stripes of fabric (could do ribbon, but fabric strips were what I had on hand). The fabric piece are strung through two holes on different sides of the box. When one side is pulled the other goes in, and vise versa. We have played with this activity so many times. The children really enjoy when I add silly sound effects when they pull on one end causing the other end to move as well.
Like I said, these were created over the course of the last three years. I don't have near as much opportunity to create activities these days. It's nice that once created, we have them to play with for the next few years. Although slower, I still enjoy adding to our collection. It's so fun to offer the children activities that promote skill building and exploration (not to mention, free reused materials!). This sort of thing satisfies my creative spirit.
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