Friday, December 30, 2011

Finger Paints

Asher has never been able to watch much television at home.  I tried to make it to the 2 year mark before he was allowed to watch any, but I am embarrassed to say I didn't make it.  I think it was a fussy-mom-is-going-crazy-day that did it.  I'm not even sure the age that this first occured.  So, we've made a compromise with a 1/2 hour TV limit with an attempt for no TV most days.  This is made much easier since we don't have cable and wouldn't you know that I can't find Seasame Street on Hulu?

Recently he had started to ask (and then get mad when I said "no") to watch more TV so I knew something was missing in our days. He seemed to me to need a few more structured activities/optoins in the afternoons so I started to look for things we could do at his relatively young age.  It seemed that he wasn't quite big enough for the toddler activities you can find everywhere.  I was willing to try the fingerpaints but I didn't want him putting the store-bought stuff in his mouth.  They have to use some ingredient that will keep that stuff stable on the shelf for years, right?

So I found this on a blog called Easie Peasie.

3 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup corn starch
2 cups water
Food coloring

Mix in a sucepan and heat (around medium) until mixture thickens to your desired consistency.  Cool, then add colors.

I wish I had a better camera and better camera skills, but alas, I do not.  

I got a bit anxious and after a few minutes increased the heat which caused the paint to thicken up too quickly.  I just added some more water until I was happy with the consistency.  Also, be aware that this stuff will in fact be very hot and it does take some time to cool. 

We put a drop cloth on the table but he made three pictures at this session without making a big mess OR attempting to taste it.  He must be getting to be a big boy!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

19 Months

I can't believe 19 months has passed, yet I say that at every age milestone.  I can't believe that we are at the point where I can remember last Christmas with a child, and that I'm looking forward to our next Christmas with two.

I like to say that every age is my favorite.  Yet this month has been an exceptional one.  This is due mainly to the explosion of words our Little Man is experiencing.  It seems that he will try to say anything that we say and new words are literally coming out every day.  I have been most impressed with Daddy teaching him the difference between "blue" and "brown".  My favorite word in his vocabulary is "Ash" which is his way of saying his name.  He will point to a present and ask "Ash?" or he will show you momma's milk and then point to his own, "Ash?".  I just can't believe we are here already. 

He is still in love with any type of car and really in love with trucks.  I brought one of his two hand-me-down plastic cars (normally known as Cozy Coupes) inside a couple of weeks ago to give him something else to do inside.  It doesn't look as big as I thought in our house and he gets a ton of use out of it.  I have been sensing that he is getting bored with his toys but knew Christmas was coming so I was trying to hold off finding him new ones.

Coloring with crayons is also a big activity.  He has seemed to finally "get it" and enjoy it this month.  The cardboard container that crayons come in lasted all of 2 seconds and we found a little open topped box he can access on his own.  I love that you can print out coloring book pages off the internet as the coloring books in major stores seem so expensive to me. 

My MIL showed us his "sticker book" last night and I had to fight back the proud mom tears (pregnancy does NOT help in this matter).  Looking throught the finished book he had placed every sticker on each available page.  He had put the apples in the trees, and on one page an upside down cow was grouped together with other animal friends.  So of course now I will need to buy at least a dozen of these said books and one day I will pull them out to show his not-very-impressed fiance. :) One day when they have kids of their own she will understand.

My favorite part of this season has been preparing for Christmas.  While he didn't enjoy it we got to make handprint ornaments this year.  Something I thought of last year but wasn't brave enough to attempt.  He DID greatly enjoy helping to make bird seed ornaments found here.  I made them in Christmas tree cookie cutters but my favorites are the lumps of birdseed on a string because Asher actually made them himself.  I came behind and smushed them together a bit so they wouldn't fall apart but they are actually his.  I also love our wrapping paper this year.  In an attempt to wrap while he was around I got out old paper shopping bags and wrapped gifts with that.  Then I handed over the gift with his bucket of crayons and let him go to work.  He loved it.

He has gone from not being able to stay in his MOPPETs room at MOPs to almost not crying when I leave and not crying at all when I pick him up.  His favorite toy there? The slide!

I am learning more and more that structure and routine DO go a long way and I am excited to be able to incorporate this more when I start staying home.

I love our non-stop, busy, inquisitive little man!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My New Calendar!

So I know YOU might not be excited about this, but I sure am!  Just in time for the old calendar to hit the trash can my new one has arrived.  Well, my new one was created and I will never have to toss this one in the trash.  Even better.

I was inspired at the beginning of the month by my creative friend Laura.  You can read her blogs here and here.  She has a giant dry erase board with not one, but TWO months of family calendar.  I fell in love.  I warned her I was going to have to steal her idea.  Well Laura, I did.

I found the boards at Hobby Lobby. Actually, it was the 2nd Hobby Lobby I had gone to in my quest to make this Christmas gift.  (Side note: this never came to fruition as I NEVER found the vinyl decals!!! Sigh)

Anywho, I found two seperate boards which I was stoked to find as I loved Laura's idea but I like to be able to schedule the month ahead as well and with one board I knew that wouldn't be possible every other month.  I could switch the boards out somehow so I could always be rotating them.

After on failed evening of trying to create calendar lines with a dry erase marker and a too-short ruler the hubby took over (yes!). He even did CALCULATIONS to make the squares super even.  I was impressed!  He was even smart enough to do it in permanent marker so that I wouldn't have to redo this every month.  He's the brains of this operation.

And he left enough space at the bottom so that I could include notes and we decided to start a monthly memory verse, so that will go there also.

To attach to the wall Brad brought home some industrial velcro from work.  I'm sure that there is similar stuff at the craft or hardware store.  I just put two pieces on the top of both boards so I could easily switch them out and not have to find the hooks like you do when hanging a picture.  I hate that!

And we are all set for January (minus the memory verse, I have been looking for a good one!)  Leave it to me to be so excited about a calendar.  I was so happy to find a solution to our yearly calendar and so tickled by the awesome help from Brad that I had to share!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A December Whirlwind

I'm not normally a crazy Christmas Season person.  I like to order 99% of my gifts online, and normally all the weekend of Thanksgiving.  I like to wrap them throughout the month and have my Christmas cards out the 1st week of December. 

Not this year.

Even with the cancellation of two Christmas parties this weekend due to a child with a cold (who is doing quite well actually and sleeping pretty well considering) I feel like I've been hit by a truck.  This weird pregnancy is not helping.  I think this is God's way of giving me empathy towards other pregnant moms.  I now understnad headaches, nasuea, and exhaustion.  I can't seem to drink enough water, get to the gym, or stop eating candy.  Sigh. It could always be worse, right? Yes, yes it most definitely could be worse!

What has drained all three of us this week has been such a BLESSING from God!! Brad, who has been diligently searching, applying, and interviewing received and accepted an amazing job offer this week! We got word on Monday that they would be offering him the job, but paperwork needed "approved".  I was dubious. Was this like the interview to Boston needed "approved"? Because as we all know that didn't work out too well.  So after no word Tuesday, then Wednesday I felt that little stab of disspointment creep in. 

However, God is good and not only did he recieve that wonderful offer on Thursday, they offered more than he asked for and already has over 3 weeks of vacation next year! As Brad would say: "What the what??".  Ready for more awesome news? He already had a week of vacation approved for Christmas, and he starts the new job on the 3rd, so you can do the math.

We are oh so thankful and we know who orchestrated all of this.  We also made the decision that starting in April, I will return to be a stay-at-home mom (even though I am nervous) and Brad will continue to commute for now.  The job is still in Columbus but father north than his old job so we will see how that effects the drive.

We continue to go back and forth on moving back to Columbus.  The pros and cons list seem to be 50/50.  The biggest thing we would miss would be the sense of community here in Mansfield.  We will continue to pray and see where God takes us.  If someone shows up on our doorstop and offers twice what we paid for the house, that might be a good indication.  That could happen, right?

Friday, December 9, 2011

To work or not to work.

There are still lots of variables to take into accout yet, and we are still 4 (okay, 4.5) months away from baby #2, but I am in a dilema whether to go back to work or not.

Yes, I know, don't get upset.  I know so many women who would give there right fingerpainting finger to stay at home.  There are some days that I would too. 

I DID stay home.  The first nine months of our little man's existence I spent at home.  I didn't do so well, as you can read about in this post.  I also explained how I have changed my circumstances and I'm not so set up for failure with this one. And while I found a job to try to get out of the house a bit, it turns out that at the moment the income sure is nice for my family.

The  problem here is that I LIKE my job, borderline love but I'm not saying that.  If you've ever worked the 1st or 3rd at a bank you too would understand this. I like my coworkers, my boss, the actual entire company.  I don't make a lot of money but I make enough to help my family.

I work three days a week.  My MIL watches Asher and I even get to see him on my lunch hour since she is so close.  How awesome is that?

The problem is that three days a week often feels like a lot.  I know, I know, my mom worked full time, my MIL worked full time- I'm not saying anything is wrong with that.  However in our case I have never become fully comfortable with that much time away.  Everytime I am dropping things (not the child) trying to get out the door I think "why am I doing this?".  When we have to miss our monthly playdate I enjoyed attending, or when I have to go to work on Moday after a busy weekend, or when I am so exhausted after working the drive-through Thursday AND Friday on the 1st AND the 3rd that I can't fix dinner or even play with my child, I feel like something is wrong. 

Then my two days off during the week are spent trying to catch-up on housework with play breaks and driving everywhere to keep appointments.  I wanted to go visit a friend in Columbus next week, but I have appoinments scheduled on both days, how's that going to work?

I don't want to make this seem like I am complaining, I know I have it pretty darn good.  I am just in a dilema and somedays the answer to this is clearer than others.  I pray that God would let me see the solution clearly and I would prefer that answer to come before maternity leave.  In the meantime I will enjoy being at work and home and thank God for that time at both.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Now serving...

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to have dinner out with my husband (Thanks, Mom!).  Over dinner I was telling him a story of how Asher tried to help me with "Kitty" (a stray cat we have taken in temporarily trying to find her owner/a new owner) by taking her water dish from the floor and moving it to the counter.  Luckily my mom saw that one while my back was turned and we avoided a soaked toddler.

My husband laughed and mentioned how much our child likes to help, and man, does he ever.  One of the most fun things about this age is that I get to see bits of his personality come through and helping is a big part of his.  I have wondered many times if this heart for service is something that is a part of his personality that will continue to be there throughout the years.  I hope so.  I also hope I can help nuture that.

Which brings me to the topic of service.  I am a huge believer that when raising children I have to be the example.  If I want them to be reading the Bible on a daily basis, I have to be in the Word on a daily basis.  If I want them to treat others in a kind, loving manner they have to see it in me first.  If I don't want their lives to revolve around television, they can't see that mine does.  You get the point.

Then we get to serving others.  I can see God in Asher's desire to serve because I don't serve.  I think that by wanting to nuture this in Asher, I am going to have to go out of my comfort zone and grow as well.  Sure I do a few volunteer days throughout the year when one is offered through work or church, we take part in the Operation Christmas Child (the shoeboxes), we give at church.  But I am persoanlly convivted that I do not do enough.  And more importantly, I think I do these things out of obligation only, not out of a heart's desire to show God's love to others. 

This is painful to admit because if you've read any of those "red" words in the Bible, (you know, those places where Jesus speaks?) you will not read long before you are being instructed to help the poor, the hungry, the needy.  Man, that hurts.  Jesus is telling me what he wants me to do and I am ignoring it.  Double ouch.

So, the decision has been made to serve.  Now I am praying for God to use me and man is it scary. I'm afraid I won't have time to commit(you know, more time away from Asher), that it will make me uncomfortable, that I have made this desire public and that I won't follow through with it.  I am also afraid that if we don't follow through that this wonderful heart for service in Asher will be lost.

Now to just find out where to begin...