Earlier this week Judah drew the above image and told me it was "a motorcycle says vroom" - so I took a picture, labeled it and will be using that image for my own Greeting Cards. I am excited about getting them and think it will be fun to write notes on them.
Last Monday was Judah's first day of school and I don't think you can find a child more thrilled with the fact that he does school! He prays for his school at every meal and before bed, he proudly shows off his daily school work to Paul when he gets home and he asks to do school randomly throughout the day. I looooove his enthusiasm!!
We have settled into a comfortable routine for school right now. Right after breakfast we read a short Bible story and he gets asked questions based on what we just read. Then we settle into the learning portion, do a 'busy' activity and then I put on his Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD. I highly recommend the dvd. Judah learned all his letters and their sounds from an early age and Wesley will say some of them now.
This was our first week and so I mixed up several different things to see what direction to head in. This is what I learned about Judah:
He loves coloring and writing his letters - he can write "A" and "S" but thinks he can write them all :) He knows all his colors. At least all the colors in his crayon box. He doesn't care for cut and paste things. He likes to try to copy things that I write/draw for him. He can color inside the lines. Until he gets bored. Then he scribbles all over. He knows all his letter sounds and, when prompted, will 'read' something by sounding out each letter. He is no where close to connecting the sounds to make a word. He has a great memory! He has memorized the first half of John 3:16 this week.
I am going to take another couple weeks to really decide what direction to go in, but I think, for now, my main focus will be on putting together letter sounds, coloring and memorization.
A couple of months ago I was in the Dollar Tree and found these fantastic green bins. They had two other shades of green and a nice shade of blue, but this green called out to me and begged me to think of SOMETHING to do with them to rationalize buying them. I thought they were adorable then and I still think they are adorable!
Anyways, I bought four of them at the time. I thought they would work perfectly in our pantry but I didn't want to commit to the 18 I knew I would need in there just in case they didn't fit or work right. I brought them home and put them in and when I saw how perfectly they fit I went back and bought 14 more that evening.
The Dollar Tree occasionally carries amazing baskets/bins, but when they do they go FAST!! So if you see something you like don't think on it for long!
I have left the top shelf of the pantry for large size items - like our rice, extra flour, cereal boxes, etc. Each shelf follows a very basic theme and each bin holds more specific themed items. For example: The top shelf of bins is "Cooking" and one bin holds condiments, another holds cooking sprays/oils. The second shelf of bins is "Prepackaged foods." One bin has oatmeal, another has soups and another pasta. The third shelf is "Baking and Snacks." One bin has dips, another has chocolate chips. And the final shelf is all drinks - teas, drink mixes, etc.
I am thinking of adding tags to the front of each bin. Ya know, in case I die or something Paul will be able to quickly find the chocolate covered coffee beans or the Olive Oil.
The shelves that are on the door were left by the previous owners and I use it to hold our bags of beans.
I haven't figured out what to do on the floor of the pantry, so right now it is empty! My mum uses bins for her bulk flour and sugar so I am thinking of trying that too and the bins would fit perfectly on the floor of the pantry. It would just be super uncool if the boys discovered those bins!!
What role do your children play in hospitality to others in your home? Our boys have never met a stranger, and when we're having someone new over to our home we really like that our boys welcome everyone into our home like they've been coming over forever. The boys are great ice breakers and entertainment.
At age 1 and 2 there isn't a lot they can do to be involved with hospitality. Judah helps me set the table. They both greet people at the door. Wesley offers the guests his unwanted food - he's generous like that! And then when they head off to bed they give the company goodnight hugs and sometimes ask the guest to read them a story.
Sometimes it is easier to put the boys to bed before the guests show up - if they skipped nap and are a bit cranky or if we're planning on playing games - the evening goes smoother if we have our full bedtime routine with the boys and then the company comes over once the boys are asleep. Of course that then makes for a later evening, which can be tiring! But we often will go that route when we have planned a game night.
We want to raise our boys to be intentional with hospitality - but we're still figuring out what that means for us and our family.
I love the idea behind this simple phrase. The thought has really challenged me to not wait for big chunks of time to accomplish tasks but to take advantage of the small moments, the fragments, that are made available to me throughout my day.
It is easy as a young mother with two active and creative boys that think they can fly to feel like my time to do things are limited to when they nap or when they are in bed for the night. It is overwhelming to think about sitting down and spending the time studying God's Word or making a phone call to encourage a friend or cleaning the kitchen, bathrooms or bedrooms WHILE the boys are up. I love them to death, but they require a lot of attention.
Which is why the concept of "salvage the fragments" resonates so well with me - I have fragments of time. I have lots of fragments, scattered throughout my day.
There is the time that boys like to linger over breakfast, making bubbles in their milk. There is the time that Judah sits on the potty and Wesley sits in his bouncer watching. (That is a minimum of 10 minutes right there!) There is the time right before nap where I sit in their room hushing them. There is the time where they get so engaged in playing with each other they forget about trying to fly down the stairs.
Those fragments of time are maybe 5-15 minute stretches of time that have previously been wasted as I hadn't intentionally been thinking about salvaging the fragments of time. But now those precious moments are the chance for me to do a speed cleaning, read several verses, spend time in prayer, send a text message to a friend or even write a quick letter.
They are small fragments of time, but they are fragments God has given to me and it is my desire to glorify Him in even the simplest moments.
"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men." Colossians 3:23
Judah is all about playing games - daily he requests "Play a game with me mommy?" Of all the games we have I think Topple is my favorite. It's a great game for teaching him balance and coordination. And it's kind of fun to play it with him.
Our church is doing a financial course on Wednesday nights and the man that led it this past week used this expression "Mile by mile is a trial, Inch by inch is a cinch." Meeting goals doesn't happen in one giant leap - it really is an inch by inch thing, sometimes two inches forward one inch backwards! At the beginning of the year Paul and I sat down and made out a list of our financial goals for this year - if everything had gone according to plan we should have comfortably been able to meet our goals. But of course stuff happened. Doesn't stuff always happen?
We decided to buy a house. And then put in a wood floor. And then our car needed something fixed on it. And our idea of comfortably meeting our goals slowly fizzled away.
We are determined to meet the goals we set out for this year, they're just now requiring a bit more effort and sacrifice. Our grocery budget is now set in stone - while before I would make excuses as to why it was ok to spend $25 - $50 more each month (stock piling on diapers, having a special meal, having lots of company over, etc.) I now have cash only. And when it runs out, it's out. Right now we have $24 to buy food with for the rest of the month - which with the food I already have in the pantry and freezer it will be enough to make adequate and nutritious meals with for the next 8 days, albeit rather plain meals.
There are other areas in which we are sacrificing to meet our goals; we have unfurnished rooms, unpainted walls and second hand clothing. Paul's nice phone broke and he is currently using a cheap $20 flip phone someone gave him.
The other day I went to the mall to pick up a bathing suit for myself - they are currently 50% - 75% off regular price - and I found the coolest bedding ever for the boys room. It was $50 for each set down from $200 per set- and they had two sets! It was exactly what I had been envisioning for their room - but not only do they not need it right now (Wes is still in a crib and Judah doesn't sleep with any blankets at all, let alone a bulky comforter with a matching pillow!) but we had just reviewed our goals and it was forefront in my mind that we were trying to save every dollar to make our goals work. This bedding was a want that wouldn't be used for years down the road, but it was still hard to pass it up!! It was what I'd dreamed of for their room and not buying it was a sacrifice to our greater dream - that of meeting our financial goals for '09.
Having concrete financial goals for both short term and long term is so important for good financial communication in a marriage. Paul and I both know what it is we want at the end of this year, at the end of 5 years and at the end of 10 years with our money and knowing where it is that we want our money to go and what we want it to do helps us base our (financial) actions off of that and prioritize our purchases.
I love Judah's art work and have a few of his pieces displayed in our home - the one in the picture he told me is an airplane. I just love his imagination :)
My Sponsor company contacted me about their Custom Greetings Card and I only had to think three seconds about what I do to create my own Custom Greeting Card- use a photograph of Judah's art work to be turned into a greeting card - how cool would that be to have your child's art work turned into a greeting card that you could then share with the world? (As a side note, I am not going to use the above picture, it was behind glass in low light and it's horrible quality! It's all I had available at the moment though)
And thinking ahead to Christmas (because I always think about Christmas...) - you could tie a pretty ribbon around ten or fifteen of them and gift them to grandparents. I know my mum is very good about writing to people and I'd like to think she'd be thrilled to use a card with an abstract airplane on the front.
There are SO many options for printing pictures on the front of your very own Custom Greeting Cards- do you own your own business? How cute and professional would it look to have your logo, or something matching your logo, placed on the front of your very own Greeting Card or Custom Postcards?!
Do you have an upcoming wedding or large event? These would be perfect to personalize as thank you notes for wedding gifts or for an invitation to an event.
Or for the un-professional with no events in the near future person like myself - turn your favorite photograph or a photograph of your child's art into a greeting card for personalized and stylish stationary!
WHAT YOU WIN My sponsor is very generously offering TWO winners the opportunity to win 250 7x5 Greeting Cards.
That is T.W.O.H.U.N.D.R.E.D. and fifty. Wowzers!! That is a lot of cards. Remember my idea of gifting them to the grandparents?! You could be gifting to the aunts and uncles too - maybe even the mail man. Just kidding. For the professional or event planner this is an awesome giveaway and it could really go far to help you promote your product or be used in your event planning in some way.
For those that would use this for personal use the volume of cards sounds overwhelming, but I think it would be so precious to be writing notes to people years down the road on a Custom Greeting card that my 2 year old son had drawn. Or using a meaningful photograph from a favorite vacation. I am just stoked about this giveaway and that they are offering it to me too!
In the comments tell me how would YOU use this prize? You may blog, FB and tweet about this - for a total of three extra entries. Please leave a seperate comment for each additional entry letting me know where you mentioned this giveaway.
US Addresses only.
Shipping must be paid by winner - from what I gathered shipping will be about $10. Not a bad price for 250 cards, but before you enter I want to make sure you understand that you are responsible for shipping costs!
Girl Talk is one of my favorite inspirational blogs to read and for the last little while they have had most of their posts focus on hospitality. I have really been encouraged and challenged to be more intentional with hospitality.
We face rather unique circumstances with Paul's work - he works almost every weekend and we rarely know much ahead of time which days off he will have any given week. And when he gets days off they are rarely back to back. He works long hours so the one or two days he does get off each week is usually him recovering from work. It isn't the most ideal situation for opening our home up to people, but we both enjoy having people in our home and desire to do so. I particularly enjoyed this post on Girl Talk entitled Hospitality Demands:
"All Christians are to practice hospitality but not all in the same way. “As each has received a gift” we are to serve one another, “as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pet. 4:7-10)."
We rarely plan much in advance when we are going to have people over. In fact the greater majority of our company we invite a matter of hours before dinner. It is what works best for us at this stage in life - if Paul is rested, the house is in order, the boys and I have had quality time with him, etc. Paul will often say "What do you think about me inviting so and so over for dinner tonight?"
It is neat how God has orchestrated it as the friends we most often have over for dinner are single working men or single students - with no family obligations - and most of the time they are available with only a few hours warning to come over for dinner.
Unless there is extreme circumstances - the boys or I are sick or an event Paul didn't know about, I am all for the extra company coming over.
I learned early in our marriage that Paul enjoys the freedom to invite people over at the last minute, and the Lord really worked on my heart to make me make that possible for Paul. For the last couple years every dinner I make for us is planned out with enough food for an extra person or two to easily join us at the very last minute without it looking like we are scraping together a plate of food for them. It hasn't happened often, but maybe a handful of times someone has come over unexpectedly right before supper has been served and Paul has invited them to join us for dinner. Making sure there is an serving of food doesn't take much extra effort, and if no one unexpected shows up the food is used for lunch for myself and the boys the next day. But on those few days when people show up at dinner time to drop something off or to ask Paul a question or whatever other reason they may coming knocking at that hour it makes it easy to be hospitable and gracious because of the preplanning of dinner portions.
What about you? Is hospitality something you enjoy? Something that is hard work? Have you found a way to make it work into your schedule?
After Wesley was born the ladies at church hosted a baby shower for us and the group gift was this double stroller. Paul and I spent some time researching double strollers and testing them out in the store - it was important to find one with high enough handles for Paul to comfortably push and one with plenty of storage space.
This Tandem stroller met the bill and beyond. We have had this stroller for over a year now and still love it.
Highlights: *The seats can be positioned in 4 different positions. I LOVE this feature so much. 99% of the time I keep the boys facing each other. They chatter to each other, make faces at each other and entertain themselves (and me!). But anytime they get ornery and start picking on each other I flip one of them around so they can't look at each other. When they are facing each other their feet are all over each other as there isn't a lot of space for them to both be facing the same way, for some reason my boys don't mind this. It also comes with an infant car seat bar that you can put on and then just put the car seat on top of.
*There is lots of storage space! There are two deep cup holders and a key holder built into the handle bar. The key holder is quite spacious and can hold my keys and phone and cash. The basket underneath the stroller is as long as the stroller frame. It is easily assessable from the back (where the handle bar is) and from the front end, but it is a little more challenging to get anything that ends up in the middle of the stroller basket - which really isn't a big deal since it is a perfect spot for things like shopping bags or beach towels that aren't immediately needed.
*It folds up easily and compactly - or at least I think so. We have an Aztec and it fits very easily in the back of our vehicle with plenty of room to spare. The seats need to be taken off each time you fold the stroller up, but they snap off and on quite easily that it really isn't a big deal.
*Because it is long, and not wide, it easily fits anywhere. There have been a few situations where the length of it has required us to back it up in a tight situation rather than be able to turn it around, but it pushes quite easily and fits almost everywhere.
*The seats recline for the kids to nap - not that my kids nap in public. But if my kids DID sleep in public the seats do recline quite nicely and it's a nice feature. And the shade covers cover up quite a bit - all but their toes get covered.
The Not So Great: *It is a bit on the heavy side. I quickly checked out a few other double strollers and their weights ranged from 34-45lbs. This one is 53lbs! In the early days after I had given birth it was HARD to pick this up and put it in the back of our car. It's definitely not a lightweight stroller and takes some effort to move. But on the bright side, you can count it as an arm workout when you load/unload it - right?!!?
*The wheels seem cheap. The wheels snap into place and while we haven't really had issues with them, they just seem cheap and like they could have been better constructed.
*The seats are lined with a felt type fabric and it seems like a really hot/sweaty fabric to have on a stroller behind their heads and necks. There is a neck pillow that comes with it made of the same fabric and I removed it since they were just sweating with it in place.
*There is a safety bar that snaps into place in front of them (the seats have a 5 point harness) - if you mindlessly snap the safety bar in place it is VERY EASY to pinch your finger. And it would be easy for little ones fingers to be pinched too.
I have put off reviewing this stroller as I wanted to see how much I liked it after we'd had it for awhile - and after one year of use I can honestly say that I am very pleased with our choice and grateful for this gift!! I would highly recommend this stroller to anyone else looking for a double stroller.
Random.org picked #5 which is Leah - my cousin-in-law - as the winner of the Seed's Family Worship cd - congrats Leah!! I'll get that off to you soon. I wish I had enough copies to send everyone one of the cds!
The cd has been played every day here for the past several days and we truly LOVE it. Judah has even started to pick up some of the lines and it is wonderful knowing that he is learning Bible verses. I would highly encourage anyone interested in this to purchase it for themself. It is available on iTunes as well as at www.seedsfamilyworship.net and Christianbook.com - which is where I bought mine from.
We are off to the beach again tomorrow, we're all excited! Judah especially. Here he is last week at the beach:
And one my brother took of me - I just wish Paul and the boys had been in the picture too, it is such a beautiful background for a family picture!
I just read about this intriguing new website called Book Swim - it is the Netflix of books. In other words, for those unfamiliar with Netflix, you can rent and return books for a flat, one month fee - postage paid and no late fees.
I think the fee is a tad bit high for me right now - $25/month being the most reasonable package. But I can see myself possibly using this in the future - if I could find books that would be resourceful for homeschooling is my main interest at this point. It would also work well if there were some books I really wanted to read and knew I would have an opportunity that month to read, I would probably buy just a one month plan. Our local library has a pretty bad selection of books and is a pretty run down building and I think I'd rather pay $25/month for books to be sent to my mailbox than to go to the library.
Like I said earlier, the plan is too much money for me right now- I barely finish one book a month and at that rate it's cheaper to just buy the book itself :)
But I am curious - does this idea of renting books online appeal to you? Would you use it now? In special circumstances? Or do you think it's silly?
My bloggy friend Tammy first introduced me to these wonderful cds by Seeds Family Worship - catchy songs, sung by grown ups, with the lyrics taken straight from scripture. I bought the Seeds of Faith cd (click on the above image to get more details about it) and won one of their other ones from Tammy. And I am just SO excited about this cd! The cds come 2 to a pack - one for you and one for you to give away. Why?
"We want the seeds of God's Word to be spread far and wide in the hearts of families" - quote from the case
How awesome is that? Even Paul, who is not a fan of "kiddy songs" said that he likes these songs and would listen to them. In fact, the boys have been in bed for 2 hours now and I have had these songs playing for just our enjoyment.
Inspired by Tammy and her giveaway I am going to hold my own. This giveaway will remain open until Monday evening at which time I will use random.org to pick a winner.
Just leave a comment telling me when you play music for your kids (bedtime, in the car, etc.) If you don't have kids you are more than welcome to enter for your future children or to regift - just. um. Make up something.
You can tweet, FB or blog about the giveaway. Each shoutout will get you one more entry in the giveaway. Just make sure to leave a seperate comment for each entry.
This giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere. No postage restrictions. The winner will be announced Monday night or Tuesday morning. Whenever I remember.
Check out the video for an example of their style. And sorry it squishes over so far. I couldn't fix it.
Click on the image to check out all the cool giveaways they are going to be giving away this week! Keep checking back for more opportunities to sign up for other giveaways. And if you've never poked around 5 Minutes for Mom make sure you do! They have a wonderful, upbeat blog and I love reading their posts!
While we were leaving Charleston we stopped at a gas station and a young boy, about 12, asked me if I would like to buy a flower from him. He'd made the flowers from palm leaves. I had seen many other people selling these flowers, but something about this boy compelled me to say yes, and so I bought three of his hand made flowers. At three for $5 you can't really beat that for a hand made souvenir. I'm hoping that it'll maintain its shape as it dries out.
That little boy has been on my heart and mind since we saw him. Even Paul, who doesn't generally speculate too much on strangers lives, thought there was something off about that young boy.
The boy seemed dejected. Overwhelmed. Timid. And yet he was so polite. And absolutely beautiful.
He didn't appear or speak like he was born and raised in America. And while this is totally our imaginations, we both thought that he was being forced to sell those flowers.
I have thought about that boy so much this week. Was he kidnapped? A run away? An actor? Was he being threatened? Or was he simply trying to do honest work to help provide for his own family?
I hope my flowers don't dry up and lose their shape. I like having them out in the open where I can look at them and remember that little boy.
And aren't these just the coolest looking flowers?!
After four delightful weeks my brother flew out this morning. It was suppose to of been last evening, but we live in a relatively small city with a very small airport and stuff happens. So after he spent a few hours at the airport they told him he couldn't fly and he got to spend one last evening with us. Playing Settlers of Catan. In the four weeks he was here we played that game about twice a day. I loved it. And am going to miss that. And, of course, him.
There's nothing like having someone seven years younger than you, at the height of the latest technology, movies and artists, to make you feel old. I won't miss that part. The feeling old part.
One day we were talking about AIM - the instant messenger Paul and I primarily used to keep in touch with each other before we got married and the one that pretty much all of our friends had at that time too. Caleb said "I've heard of it before. I think. But I've never used it."
He talked about AIM the way I would talk about an 8 Track. And that makes me feel funny. And old.
Last week a friend of mine told me that she had sat down separately with her daughter and son and asked them this question "How do you know your sibling loves you?"
Her daughter had a specific answer about what her brother did that made her know he loves her - things like hugging her and spending time with her. Her answers let her mother glean a little bit of insight to how she feels love - physical touch and quality time.
When she asked her son, who is 4, his response wasn't quite so insightful. He said something along the lines of "Because I JUST KNOW she does."
My boys are too young for that question to lead anywhere, but I loved her idea of using that question to dig deeper into the thoughts of her children as to how they saw love.
The other night I overheard Judah tell Wesley "Mommy is SO fun Wezzy." It melted my heart to hear him, from out of the blue, make that comment. But beyond him giving me the warm fuzzies it gave me a bit of insight into his thoughts: to him the best thing about me that he wanted to share with his baby brother was that I am fun. My son likes me being fun.
Last night we all went to the racetrack as one of Paul's co-workers races his street car occasionally and I wanted to go watch.
Judah was a bit frightened of the loud engines, but Paul helped him overcome his fear of that and by the end of the evening Judah was very bravely sitting on his own, beside Paul. I admire Paul's compassionate and loving approach with the boys - he doesn't coddle them. He just has this great way of making the boys feel safe with him and then turns around and makes them feel safe on their own.
In fact, when I was asking Judah about our time at the race tracks the first thing he said to me was: "Judah sat by himself beside daddy." Turns out, it was a pretty big deal to that little boy to be able to sit by himself while the noisy vehicles whizzed by.
The second thing was: "The motorcycles were noisy. Vrooooom."
And the third thing was: "I gave Unca Caleb my garbage and he threw it out."
Mmm, yes. My environmentally friendly two year old. The THIRD most exciting thing about his two hours watching motorcycles, cars and trucks doing cool stunts and racing was that his Uncle threw out his garbage - I can't help but wonder, why do parents stress themselves out trying to find "cool" activities to do for their young children?
Or maybe it is just my children that are so easily amused by things like someone throwing out their garbage.
I hope not.
Please tell me, what simple things amuse your young children? Or, even better, what simple things at cool places (like garbage at the race track) amuse your children?