Advent plans

I love advent. I'm pretty sure I've talked about it at least half a dozen times on the old blog already but I just do. The waiting, the anticipation...it just makes Christmas, Christmas.

This year, I'm going all out and I'm really excited about it. Last year we did quite a few things and enjoyed all of them so those will be sticking around. And since there is no official Joyful Learning curriculum for December (although she does have some ideas), I'm adding in other things for Lucy. I thought I would share my ideas at the beginning of the month instead of the end so you could get some last minute ideas of your own...and feel free to share any neat things you've found. Only about half of my things are set in stone so if i find something better, I'm all for switching out things.

This is the most organized I've been before Advent starts since we got married. I'm not sure how it will go, but it does feel nice to be slightly ahead of the game instead of routing around our storage on the first Sunday looking for our wreath and pretending there is a candle in it.

I'll be reusing our advent bags from last year so I want to have something for everyday. Don't misinterpret that -"something" can just mean unwrapping a "new to us" Christmas book so we won't be doing a huge craft or activity everytime.

Some of my favorite ideas are
  • Learning some carols. For day one our activity will be learning about carols and making our own little carol booklet for the rest of the month. 
  • Making a prayer box to hold our Christmas cards. So if you send us a Christmas card, we'll be praying for your family this December!
  • St. Lucia's day again. One day for prepping and one for celebrating. It falls on Craig's day off this year so we will celebrate it one the right day this year.
  • This Reasons for the Season advent devotional. We aren't using it as our advent study but I'll be pulling out several of the "days" to do with corresponding activities (talking about cookies when we take cookies to the librarians, Christmas trees when we got pick up our Christmas tree, etc). I'll probably have to paraphrase for Lucy but I'm really excited about learning some of this stuff myself.
  • Peppermint playdough (with corresponding candy cane activites) I'm really enjoying the themed playdoughs each month. Lucy always wants me to play playdough with her but I can never think of things to make before she comes up with her own, normally very difficult, suggestions. Scented playdoughs make it easy - I am horrible at making moose and my cows and horses tend to look the same as my bears and dogs but I happen to be awesome at making cookies and cakes :-)
  • These nativity scene cards. Lucy doesn't mind getting paint on her hands anymore and hopefully I can get Jonah to relax his hand enough to give me a baby Jesus thumbprint. I hope they turn out as cute as the pin.
  • Making ornaments with salt dough. I love unpacking the ornaments my brothers and I made when we were kids - the uglier the better. Now I'm so excited that Lucy is finally big enough to make some of her own. 
  • Taking cookies to our librarians. I read an idea about taking treats to the local firemen and paramedics and loved the idea of bring a blessing to others but wanted to stick with something a little more in Lucy's comfort zone. She loves our librarians. Next year we may try real strangers :-)
As for our daily routine:
  •  We'll check the bag during the day which will have a clue ( a piece or picture related to the activity) although when we do each activity will vary since several are evening events such as driving to see some Christmas lights and visiting the living nativity down the road. 
  • At lunchtime, we will be trying our first bible memory passage (so far we've only done individual verses but she has ~12 she reviews every day so I think she can handle something longer). I'm thinking Luke 2:6-12. It might take us more than the month but that's okay. 
  • In the evenings, we'll do our family advent devotional reading, sing a carol and add a piece of straw to baby Jesus's manger then end by saying the Come Lord Jesus prayer (if you don't remember it, it goes "Come Lord Jesus, Amen"). 
Ah, Advent. I can't wait to start waiting!


Thanksgiving thoughts

Craig's sister and brother flew in to join us for Thanksgiving this year. It was my first year hosting Thanksgiving. Of course, I've always cooked at least part of the meal and last year I planned it with my SIL and aunt although due to the circumstances it was very low key. But this year, it was my thing. It made me feel like a real grown up.

I stared preparing early by starting a fall cleaning. I wasn't planning anything really major but I did want to go room by room to clean those areas I never get around to - cleaning the kitchen sink cabinet, dusting the bathroom (I never think to get the bathroom when I'm dusting but our house is dusty and it needs it) and that sort of thing. The kitchen cleaning went really well. I felt so accomplished that I jumped right into the bathroom jobs the next day. My cleaning mojo was a bit damped when 30 minutes after I finished , Lucy started throwing up and I spent the next 48 hrs with a feverish kid. The end result was a bathroom dirtier than before I cleaned. Things didn't exactly get easier the rest of the week and last week at least one of the four of us sick every day.

We managed to get things relatively clean but by Thursday my energy reserve was up and I was not feeling good. Craig took Lucy to pick up Chad and Steph and Jonah and I napped. Since they didn't come in until Thursday afternoon, we had our big Thanksgiving feast on Friday. I took lots of breaks but everyone pitched in and we had a nice meal.

I think half of my illness was due to catching Craig and Lucy's cold and the other half was emotional. For those of you who don't know, this weekend is the one year anniversary of my mom's death. She died the Saturday after Thanksgiving last year so even though the dates aren't the same, I was pretty sure Saturday would be the worst. It ended up being the best day of the weekend - mostly because we headed out to the mall and did some shopping. Not that it didn't have it's moments. I made a last ditch attempt to get a certain American Girl item that is sold out online (and yes, the store did have it!) but being there was sad. AG was such a big part of my childhood and I know if my mom was around this year, she would have been there picking stuff out with me. And holding Jonah. And playing with Lucy. And helping me salvages the pie crusts (I can make good tasting pies but my pie crusts are the ugliest things you've ever seen).

But getting out of the house was nice. The rest of the weekend, I was really tired and felt like being "alone" a lot so Jonah and I hung out in my room, nursing and cuddling. A baby is a nice balm to the soul. I did try and share him with the others some too though. Hopefully everyone forgives my  party pooper attitude because I'm really glad we had guests. I don't think it would have felt very festival at all without them and Lucy certainly enjoyed the extra attention. And overall the weekend was better than I was expecting.

Actually, I guess the same thing could be said about the past year. When she passed away, I kept telling myself that it was the worst. We'd been fighting her cancer for 18 months and while there were many wonderful moments in that time, it was also 18 months of sorrow and grieving so I just kept thinking that every day after she passed away would be easier than the last. It wasn't true at all - but it kept me going. That first week was a blur and I didn't have much feeling at all. And to be honest, I spent most of the last holiday season in a fog, just going through the motions. And then it was okay for a day, bad for a good, bad the next...repeat. But overall, I've been okay. I'm not sure if that is because I did so much grieving before hand or because God is good and will only give me as much emotion as I can deal with while also being functional as a mother. Sometimes I worry that I've only gotten through this year by just shutting out my feelings and memories of her but I don't really think that's true. It was hard at first because most of the memories I seemed to have were the recent ones and those weren't the ones I wanted but now that more time has passed, I'm able to remember more than just the struggle with cancer. I've moved from that raw grief and anger/frustration and the situation, and God as well, to just missing her. But I like missing her, mostly because the parts I miss are the good parts, not the cancer parts. I miss the conversations and phone calls every day, the advice, the shared experiences, her teaching me...the friendship. And I always will.


Jonah @ 2 months

  2 months!
 Now a close up of that smirk. 


You're just getting so big! I moved you into 3-6 month clothes last week. You have lots of chub. I love this pictures - not just wrist and elbow rolls but a random forearm roll too! I forgot to weigh you when I had access to a baby scale but I'd guess over 12lbs. (Update: Official 2 month check up stats at 10 weeks - 13.5lbs, 23.4 in long and 15 in head)

You are fitting right into our family. You've been cooing for a little while now but last week learned to be louder. It's so funny. You'll just start making noises but  if no one seems to be paying attention or if other noises (read - Lucy) are around you'll try a bit louder then a bit louder. They are still happy noises but with a bit of "excuse me, I'm here" attitude thrown in.

But you like to be in amongst the noise and action. You love to "sit" on my lap and watch Lucy play.

And despite what she says, she is becoming a fan of you too. She loves to help change your diaper, snap your snaps and yesterday, held you for the first time so she could read you a book. She's also becoming an expert on you - your daddy was holding you one evening and you started to fuss when she turned to him and said "you should try walking around" and guess what, it worked! When you start to get sleepy/fussy in the afternoon, she'll tell me to "try wearing him" and will even hand me the moby. I guess she has you figured out!

It's not hard though, you have settled into quite a nice little routine. You take your first nap in your co-sleeper 1.5 hrs after you wake up, then depending on how long that nap is, you might take another short one in the morning. At 1, when Lucy takes her nap, you lay down with me and we rest/sleep/nurse for about 2 hours. Then more playtime before your afternoon nap/dance time in the moby while I cook dinner. More playtime then lots of cluster nursing before bedtime. You consistently sleep 5 hours at night but often make it 6-7 and a few nights ago slept 8 hours in a row!

You often put your arms down when you sleep. I think it looks like you've just faceplanted so I move your arms up again, I can't help it.

When you're awake you are pretty content no matter where I put you. You like your baby seat a lot as well as resting back on my legs but will tolerate the swing or the floor time on either your tummy or back. You don't mind the car either, it doesn't really put you to sleep but you are happy sitting there looking around on 30-45 minute trips. We didn't think you liked baths but we tried giving you one this way and now you love them - even when Lucy insists on getting a washcloth and "helping." Now we stand at lots of likes, zero dislikes.

 Your smiles are normally small, I've only seen a big grin a handful of times, but you rarely fuss unless you need something either. You're just very even keeled, unlike your on/off sister. Apparenly, your looks are one of the few things the two of you share!


Video dump

Title explains it all :-)

Lucy telling us about 8 day old Jonah

Lucy "shooting" things. I'm not anti-gun by any means so I don't really care but I am curious to know where Lucy learning what a gun was and why she DIDN'T learn what shooting actually means.

Jonah, at 5 weeks, enjoy his octahedron mobile

Jonah getting ready for his bath last night.



I wrote this post about a month before Jonah was born but held off on posting it because I was afraid it would seem too negative and that wasn't really my intent. But at the point in time, I knew I had to trust what I knew over what I felt.  Jonah is 8 weeks old today and I can say that I was right, God did provide. This has definitely not been the easiest 8 weeks of my life, but it has been a very peaceful 8 weeks and I wouldn't change it for a million cups of tea.

I'm very much a homebody. Going out, especially to very busy people filled places, just wears me out. This is true all the time, but even more so when I'm pregnant.  Yet, I'm definitely classify myself as more of a martha than a mary. I like to be busy, to do, to create. Then I repent and try to become a Mary and get frustrated with myself because I just can't seem to get the hang of sitting down in the afternoon with a cup of tea and my bible...of course, that isn't exactly what Mary did either, but its the Mary of my head, you see.

I forget that Martha wasn't sinning because she was filling up someone's water or because she wanted to make sure the toilet wasn't gross before someone came over any more than Mary's "better" was sitting in a calm peaceful front porch in front of a field of flowers while enjoying tea from her beautiful vintage cup - found for a very reasonable price at a thrift store of course. Mary's "better" was "better" because she was striving for the best, she placed her relationship with Jesus at the top of her to-do.

Right now, life is good. Most days, I feel like I can handle what I've got and that we are almost at the point where I could at least hypotheticaly get to that tea on the front porch vision I have of what it means to live a "peaceful life." And I sigh a sigh of relief. And then reality hits me and I realize shortly I will have a newborn and our whole family will change and - gasp - what have I done!

Because unlike last time, I know what I'm getting into. Newborns are hard. They are cute and cuddly and loveable and overall wonderful blessings from God. But they are hard. And they come with messes and noise and they take away free time and the ability to shower consistently. And honestly, if my goal of peace is that front porch, I'm only getting farther away from it with every child we add to our family.

But that isn't my goal. My goal has to be Jesus. I want to do His will, I want to receive His blessings, but mostly I want Him. And having a baby will bring me closer to Him because 1) it's accepting another blessing from him and 2) it's another reminder that I can't do it all, I can't be everywhere, I have to trust. I have to lean on Him. And he'll bring the peace, I know he will.

 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27



Almost there

What a week. I'm glad it's almost over. What's that you say? It's Monday. Well, technically, but y'alls Monday is my Friday because Craig is working another odd schedule this month. He works Friday through Monday then has three days off and those three days are almost here and boy do I need the break. Lucy was super super cranky on Friday, spent Saturday sick and feverish, didn't sleep Saturday night and spent Sunday releasing whatever energy she apparently saved up from being lethargic on Saturday. So, I don't have anything much to say but the best part of having a mommy blog is that I don't always have to. I have a great plan B - pictures of my cute kids! Enjoy!

All ready for bed!

On our way to vote.
Lucy loves to vote, mostly for the stickers. 

She just had to bring baby rubber ducky and mommy rubber ducky with her. 

The end of a smile. Those smiles are so hard to catch on camera but I'm trying. 

Holding his head up. It's hard work. 


Montessori Baby: Octahedron Mobile

Jonah got a new mobile a few days ago after the last one met it's unfortunate demise during a tantrum thrown by a certain toddler. She's still asking for daddy to try and fix it and it should be pretty easy for him to do so but I'm debating whether or not to actual try. If we do, we'd keep rotating them every week or two to keep things fresh but I might want to to let natural consequences serve a purpose. She was pretty upset that she ruined Jonah's mobile but he wasn't - he loved this one! 

He really seemed to like the blue one. These pictures were taken around 7pm which is normally the time of day when he has to be nursing, worn in a wrap or constantly bounced or he is fussy which is how I knew how big of a hit it was.

This was also one of the cheapest and easiest to make using the template and tutorial from Little Red Farm. I already had the dowel and clear string so it only cost $1.50 for three pieces of scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby. Definitely worth the effort!


Joyful Learning in October

Back in September Lucy and I started doing the Hubbard's Cupboard curriculum - Joyful Learning. I hesitate to even call it a "curriculum" because for us it consists of a monthly playdough, a bible verse, songs and fingerplays, books and a few art projects.  (We skip a lot of the projects and the sensory bin and I add in other theme things I find). I also add in more bible stories/songs that relate to the theme. 

I've been thinking a lot about preschool type stuff lately and have a whole lot of thoughts on topics that I would love to talk about someday but right now I'm not only still processing how of things will actually work (as opposed to theories and concepts) and because I don't have the brain power to do that. Craig thinks "Mommy brain" is just an excuse but I am positive I lose at least 10 IQ points with each kid. Actual, my lack of brain power is why we are doing Joyful Learning. I don't have to think up anything unless I want to. And sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't.

My goal is not to even have her learn any of this stuff, although I'm assuming she will because she's not a rock, but to spend some one-on-one time with her. We do this during Jonah's naps - and yes, he naps like a champ in his co-sleeper which still amazes me every single day. Maybe someday I will get used to it and it won't seem like a big deal but I kinda like experiencing mini-miracles one to two times a day. We are really enjoying.the time together (I started calling it school because I didn't know what else to call it but as soon as I start getting Jonah ready for his nap Lucy will come up to me and telling me "I want to do fun stuff with you." Unlike a lot of the other "preschool curriculums" (FIAR, rock star, tot school)  I've heard about, I can't really find much documented about this program online so I thought I would put up summary posts every month. I also have a Joyful Learning Pinterest board that I'm using to hold all the theme-y things I find. 

There are one or two themes per month. September's were home and family which worked nicely as we were about increase ours (family, not house :-) I didn't get around to posting the pictures of those activities because of said increase in family size but here is what we did for October with its fall/pumpkins themes.

Pumpkin pie playdough!

Make a nature tote (decorate the bottom of a cereal box with fall colored construction paper)

Trying out our nature tote

For the first eight, I put the glue where she told me to then she stuck on the correct number of leaves but for number 9 and 10 she did it all herself so her trees look more like bushes.

I already documented our trip to the pumpkin patch but when I told Lucy she might find some non-orange pumpkins there, she got really excited about having a blue pumpkin. I tried to warn her that green and white might be the only other colors she would but she insisted there would be blue. Obviously, there were not really any blue pumpkins but not one to settle for a second best color, she asked if we could paint it blue.

I love her expression in this picture. She was very meticulous in her painting. 

We watched a video about how pumpkins grow as well as read a story about a hamster that grows a pumpkin then had fun with this Montessori pumpkin life cycle activity free from Montessori for Everyone.
Demonstrating how little the seeds are.

I hung up our art work as we went. Clockwise from top we have:

  • Leaf rubbing banner.
  • Pumpkin patch painting. Fists in orange paint where pumpkins, thumbs in green paint were leaves
  • Orange pumpkin "book" This was one pinterest find that I wanted to do but we didn't have time for but then the next week we did it at storytime anyway. Kismet!
  • An "acorn surprise" painting. Paint an acorn then put it in a plastic container lined with paper. Shake then reveal the surprise!
  • Painting with fall colors 
  • Counting tree shown above

I don't have any pictures but she really loved the songs this month and was often heard singing "The leaves fall from the trees!" Our library is hit and miss when it comes to their book selection so we didn't get to read all of the listed books but it was easy enough to find fall and pumpkin books. I also took some good ones from this list.

Also not shown was the fall tree snack Craig made for her. A lot of the theme snack options, both in JL and on pinterest, are not healthy so I was really excited to find a real food treat that was fun. She was also my helper in many of my pumpkin cooking endeavours  At first she didn't believe me when I told her the stuff in the can was pumpkin but eventually she came around. I just don't think you can do preschool without snacks, am I right?

So that was October.  I can't wait to share with you all the fun stuff we have planned for next month and from the look on her face, neither can Lucy!


Election Optimism/Pessimism

As you can imagine, this blog will be voting, and pulling, for Mitt Romney tomorrow. As we head into election day, I really don't know how to feel. I have reasons for strong optimism, and reasons for dark pessimism. Let me recount some of these reasons.

The Negatives

  • The polls are a bit on the negative side in all the wrong states.
  • Nate Silver's site (*shakes fist)

These negatives are data-based so, while I only listed two bullet points, they are significant. My positives are more intangible, but there are more of them:

The Positives

  • Romney seems to be ahead big with independents, which would suggest Obama needs big Democrat turnout to overcome this, turnout he got in '08 but seems less likely this time around.
  • Romney is getting huge crowds at events; some of Obama's crowds are rather meh.
  • While I would expect folks like Karl Rove and Dick Morris to predict a big Romney win, when people like Michael Barone and George Will do it, I take notice. While they lean right, it does not benefit them at all, and it does hurt them, to be way wrong. So they might be on to something. (Yeah, there are probably similar people on the other side saying the opposite, but I pooh-pooh them) 
  • Early voting numbers seem to have declined for Obama compared to last time.
  • The Redskins Rule
All told, I have to say I'm leaning pessimistic for tomorrow. But I still hold out hope for change.

A cheerful heart is good medicine

Today is my Mom's birthday. For the first time in 57 years, nobody is celebrating the fact that they got to spend another wonderful year with my mom in their life. I have a lot of thoughts going through my head/heart right now but I'm not ready to share. But since laughter is good medicine and I know several people, myself included, who will need a bit of a pick me up today, I thought I would share more "Lucy-isms."

We've been trying to take advantage of the wonderful fall weather by spending lots of time outside. Lucy loves collecting things in her nature tote on our adventures but Craig, unwisely, pointed out dog poop on one such adventure. Now Lucy likes to look for acorns, berries, flowers, rocks - and poop. But she made up a little song to help her remember one important point:

When you find a rock, pick it up and put it in your tote.
When you find a acorn, put it in your tote.
When you find a leaf, put it in your tote.
When you find poop, don't put it in your tote - because poop is YUCKY!

 (You'll have to imagine the flourish she adds to that last word, but as much as I try not to laugh in my attempt to subtlety discourage bathroom humor, I just can't hear it without laughing.)

Me: That was a long day, I'm pooped.
Lucy: Mommy, we're the same - I'm pooping!
Me:: No, that's not the same! Run to the potty! (We made it)

She's very motherly with her baby and all of her stuffed animals but don't try and tell her she is their mother unless you want to be corrected because "I'm not a mommy, I don't have a ponytail" - I guess I haven't done a good job lately wearing my hair down :-)

Yesterday while we were playing with her barn toy, she picked up the green felt square that is supposed to represent grass, put it on my head and told me I was a nun and to sing. Now she expects a full rendition of "How do you solve a problem like Maria" anytime she puts it on my head, or her head, or baby's head - but not Jonah, I asked but she laughed because "boys aren't nuns."

Her newest mis-lyric: My God is so strong, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing his mom can not do - for you! Perhaps I should be worried about her wanting to convert to Catholicism.

She loves dips. She used to call them by their color: red dip = ketchup, white dip = sour cream or ranch, green dip = guacamole. Now she calls them by their real names but that is a tad dangerous when it comes to ranch. Her pronunciation of "ran" sounds very similar to "bit" so hopefully she doesn't need to request any ranch dressing in public for a while.

This morning as I was making oatmeal, Lucy helped me crack the egg into a bowl. I turned around, grabbed a fork to scrambled the egg but when I started mixing, Lucy started to cry. Apparently in those 15 seconds, she had befriended the egg and now that "egg friend" was all scrambled and she couldn't talk to him anymore. I tried to convince her that you can talk to a scrambled egg just the same as a whole egg yolk but she wasn't buying it.


Grandma Comes to Town

Craig's mom came to visit last weekend. Lucy was so excited and she got some much needed extra attention. 

Tea party time! 
And yes,we are hoosiers with our tv on a random side table. Craig brought it up to watch the Cardinals play  lose and it will stay until the election. 

We had a pretty low key weekend but we did head over to the Apple Butter Festival for a little while. It was cold and really busy but we had fun walking around. Lucy even got to stir the historical apple butter in the big  black crock. (We got a really cute picture but my MIL's camera's card isn't compatible with our computer so I can't share it yet). We also saw this mascot dog that ended up being from our vet. Lucy got all excited when she saw but I was sure would get nervous when he started to walk towards us. Nope, she ran up and gave him a big hug. Where did my shy baby go? I'm so proud of how social she is becoming.

Lucy did occasionally let Grandma take a break and hold Jonah. 

On Monday night, they went to storytime and she got to do a bit of trick-or-treating around the library. 

That's all we are doing for halloween so I threw together her "farmer" costume with some stuff we already had.
 Enjoying one of the three pieces of candy we let her have.

 (Sidenote: I wasn't being a scrooge mom but the library did not consider choking hazards and the average storytime goers age when they selected their candy. Skittles! Really? She eats nuts on a regular basis and I already documented her first experience with popcorn but I didn't think she could handle skittles. It's entirely coincidental that I happen to like skittles, I promise. I would much rather have taken my candy tax in chocolate.)