Monday, November 30, 2009

Give this Christmas Away

What if December looked different this year? What if we all just give this Christmas away?

There's a song on the new Veggie Tales movie, Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving that is inspiring our family this Christmas season. I pray that it too may "spur [you] on toward love and good deeds".

'A' is for Advent

For the month of December our "school" time is going to take on a different look and center on teaching the girls about the true reason for Christmas, Jesus. Each day we will be using our advent calendar to review the letters of the alphabet and learn more about the Christmas story. For example, we'll start with A. With the letter 'A' we'll be learning more about the angels in the Christmas story such as Gabriel. We'll be making an angel craft and adding the angel to our nativity set. We will also talk a little about advent. Next we'll review the letter 'M' and talk about Mary, the manger, and the phrase 'Merry Christmas'. 'C' is for City of Bethlehem and of course Christmas cookies! Etc. etc.

My prayer is that as the girls grow up they will appreciate the traditions of Christmas but realize we do it to celebrate God's perfect Gift to us.

A few resources I found helpful:

A is for Angel, a Christmas alphabet book.

The Adventure of Christmas: Helping Children Find Jesus in our Family Traditions by Lisa Whelchel

Printable Christmas activities by First-School

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Growing Girls

The girls had their checkups yesterday, Maddie 18 months and Anna 3 year. Everything went well and the girls are growing fast.

Weight: 36.5 pounds
Height: 38 inches

Weight: 26 pounds (75%)
Height: 33.75 inches (83%)

A new screening for us was Anna's eye exam. Anna had to stand 20 feet away from a sign and tell the nurse what symbols she saw. There were a few problems with this: 1) Anna didn't know what all of the symbols were 2) Anna doesn't talk to people she doesn't know. Eventually we made it through and Anna passed but I could tell the nurse was getting frustrated with Anna and with Maddie who was naked, in my arms, fussing. Needless to say it was a fun doctor appointment :).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hands On

I am really into handprints these days and they are showing up in a lot of my "projects". Here is our family center with our whiteboard and our family handprints.

Our family handprints and whiteboard

And here is the Thanksgiving card for the grandparents. I used the same craft paint from above.

Thanksgiving Card

Thursday, November 19, 2009

CBS, CBS, What we do at CBS...

... we learn about God's love, God's love, we learn about God's love every day!

This morning Anna and her friends came onstage during our CBS (Community Bible Study) lesson to sing for us the songs they had been learning about God.

Every Thursday I am blessed to have time to go to church to study the book of Luke with other ladies and to know that my children are being well cared for and are learning about God. Each week the girls bring home a coloring paper with their memory verse and information about the bible story they are learning about to put on the refrigerator. Anna's age also does a craft. Here she is with her lion mask to remind her of the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den and how "nothing is impossible with God".

Anna's Lion Mask

I highly recommend checking it out!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Our Mountain Getaway

This fall we decided to take a trip to the mountains with some wonderful friends. We rented a house, packed up the car and off we went. (Yes, there was more planning involved including a planning meeting, but you get the idea). The house we rented was up on a mountain in Boone which was a little over 3 hour drive from Raleigh (perfect!). I was pleasantly surprised by all of the nice grocery stores and "stuff" everywhere that we could get to from our house in about 15 minutes (note to self, I didn't need to pack so much stuff in the car for fear of never seeing civilization). The first night, Thursday, we spent with just our family to have some time together and get a lay of the land.

Anna must have been super excited to be on vacation for she woke up every morning with the sun. Here are a few pictures of her and her daddy's time on the porch watching the sun come up.

Anna at sunrise in the NC Mountains - just woke up Sunrise in the NC Mountains

On Friday we went to Blowing Rock and found a great playground for the girls to play on. They were decorating for Christmas and it made the little town seem so perfect. Two other great spots we found in Blowing Rock were Kojay's Cafe and Kilwin's Chocolates and Ice Cream (yum!)

IMG_1104 Anna at the playground in Blowing Rock

Friday night our friends arrived and we enjoyed a spaghetti dinner together. Saturday we headed to Grandfather Mountain and spent some time at the little zoo (bears, cougars, deer, eagles) and then went up to the Mile High Bridge.

IMG_1191 Anna on the Grandfather Mtn swinging bridge

On Sunday we feasted over breakfast at Dan'l Boone Inn and then went to another fabulous playground in Boone.

Playground Playground

On Monday, we made one final stop in Blowing Rock to play on the playground before heading home.

It was a wonderful trip with so many memories created that I will remember forever. I am so thankful for good (and fun!!) friends.

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Tot Clock

It is been almost a year now since Anna stopped napping. There were a variety of factors involved including a move to a big girl bed from the crib and taking away the pacifier which Anna used heavily to lull herself to sleep. The other factor was my doing - when Anna napped, she wasn't able to fall asleep until 10ish. The rule in our house has always been that during naptime, Anna has to go into her room and play. Anna's time in her room usually lasted about 20-40 minutes depending on how interested she was in a particular toy that day. Inevitably though she would get bored and start fussing or call out that she had to go potty and naptime was over for fear of her waking Maddie. A month and a half ago Anna was down to 20 minutes in her room and Maddie was sleeping 45 minutes a day and our naptime "schedule" was starting to take a toll on me. Enter My Tot Clock...

This clock has many features, but the appeal to me was that I could set a nap duration time and in theory Anna had to stay in her room that entire duration. The clock uses colors to cue her whether it is time for "sleep" or to be awake. It took a few days, but Anna will now stay in her room and play until her clock turns yellow (I have even extending the duration a little :-/). It really helps me to know how long Anna will be in her room.

I bought the clock for naptime, so I was surprised when the first night that we had the clock and the clock turned blue to signal sleep time, Anna ushered us out of her room because she was ready to go to bed. She understood the colors and what they meant and did her best to comply. Anna also enjoys the stories and music that play to help her fall asleep (there is also white noise as well). We have stopped listening to the story before bed - it was a little to fairyish for us but there are other stories that can be ordered.

I also feel like Anna is sleeping in a little later since when she wakes up, she knows if she should go back to sleep or stay awake. Anna doesn't always wait until her clock is yellow to call out to us but if the clock is still blue she will usually play for awhile until the clock turns yellow. It is a little like brainwashing - Anna says things in normal conversation like "daddy's clock is yellow?" but the clock has helped our family. The clock traveled with us on vacation and was even a comfort to a little friend of ours who was having trouble going to sleep in a strange room; she liked the bedtime music and seeing the blue light on the clock.

A few other features of the clock that we have not used yet is a discipline duration (programmable time for timeouts) and a positive duration (which you might said to have them read books for a period of time, etc).

I have been asked by several friends if I would recommend them purchasing it. If the price was lower, I was say definitely but when you are talking about a $50 + S&H clock that may or may not work for your child, it is a gamble. I am also a little hesitant to recommend it to Anna's friends who are 3+ because they aren't as enchanted by it. For example this morning Anna woke up before her clock turned blue and when I told her she needed to stay in her room until it turned yellow she said "mommy push it to turn it yellow". I'm guessing some friends would even turn it yellow themselves, though Anna hasn't quite caught on to that yet. So, in summary, this clock is a great tool but I think the biggest key to extending kid's sleep times is parent consistency.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Festivities

This year with Halloween falling on a Saturday, we had a weekend fun of festivities. On Friday the girls and I joined some friends at the local library for Halloween Hoot. This is similar to Rhyme Time at the library except all of the songs and books are about Halloween. The kids then parade through the library in their costumes and receive treats.

Halloween Hoot

On Friday night, our family went to the Bay Leaf Baptist Fall Festival. I was not prepared for how big of an event this would be. I heard one guy compare it to the State Fair. They had bouncy houses, a huge slide, hotdogs, fried funnel cake dipped in chocolate on a stick (oh yeah!), nachos, cotton candy, hayrides, bible-story themed games..... and it was free to the public. Just as many free events though, the gym was packed. Here's Maddie taking a break from the action on a giant pumpkin.

Bayleaf Fall Festival

On Saturday night we went to a friend's house for some pre-treating snacks and then Anna and I went with our friends to neighbors' houses while Erik and Maddie returned home to give out candy. It was absolutely adorable watching the girls go up to the houses and get their candy. It was such a change from last year - they have grown so much.

Getting Ready Trick or Treating

And finally, here's a trip down Halloween memory lane:

2008 Halloween Night
2007 Happy Halloween
2006 Anna wide awake!