Easter plans

Easter has become a bit of a controversial subject in some Christian circles. Well, not exactly with the concept of "Easter" itself. I don't think most Christians have a problem with rejoicing over the resurrection of Christ and the atonement for our sins that came with it. The issue comes with the how/when/way it is celebrated.

Last year, Neighbor J had spent some time researching Easter and the origins of its terms and traditions and urged me to do the same. While ultimately our families came to different conclusions, I am very glad that I spent the time trying to learn about it (FYI - I found the Answers in Genesis series on Easter to be a good place to start). I never want to be a lukewarm Christian, only doing what others do because I haven't thought about it.

The two main "problems" with Easter seem to be 1) the worries over its pagan roots and 2) the commercialization and loss of Christ-centered celebration.

It terms of paganism, we aren't particularly worried about it. I don't believe the term Easter itself has pagan originals (see a refutation of that here) so I personally have no problem calling it "Easter." I don't have an issue with calling it Resurrection Sunday or Pascha either and try to be sensitive to those around me and use the term they prefer, especially when talking to their children (just as I hope those who know our beliefs would not deliberately ask our child if they asked Santa Claus for anything). We are also comfortable using Easter eggs in our celebrations. There is a lot of wonderful symbolism that is present in the Easter egg that I don't think needs to be lost just because other (false) religions have used eggs as symbols as well.

The Easter bunny is a different story. That is where the commercialization issue enters the picture. I just don't see the point of Lucy believing that some random big rabbit is going to be delivering her candy and gifts. So we won't be doing a bunch of crafts making bunnies from cotton balls or anything like that and when Lucy gets a gift, she'll know it is from her mom and dad (or grandma, grandpa, etc).

So that's basically where we are when it comes to Easter. I really do believe this is a conscience issue and I would never want someone to encourage someone to celebrate in a way that made them feel like they were sinning. I'm glad we researched and Craig and I talked about it while Lucy was young. We are now both comfortable with where we stand and are excited to building our family traditions and start celebrating. But how?

Well, that's tricky since Lucy's not even two. And as brilliant as I obviously think she is, a lot of the really cool things I've been reading about (Resurrection egg sets, Easter garden, Resurrection cookies)  would probably leave at least one of us frustrated.

That doesn't mean I don't think she is ready for anything. Advent/Christmas was a big success and almost everything we did seemed to really stick with her. It just takes a bit of work to find things. Of course, with being sick and tired these last few months, Easter kinda snuck up on me so things will be pretty low key.

Seder supper/Passover Meal:

We've been doing this as a family for several years, I think this will be our fourth. You'd think by now I would somewhat of a routine by now. Nope, not really, each year I just kinda wing it. Although looking back on lasts years post, I guess I thought it would be better to make the foods (matza, charoset, hardboiled eggs, etc) and just read the story instead of trying to follow a script. Perhaps this year I will listen to myself?

Either way, the fun part for Lucy and I is preparing everything to ensure that the dinner is special, even if it ends up short and/or frequently interrupted. We clean, set a pretty table and put up our decorations. Well, decoration is more like it. All I have is our Easter banner. I'd love to do more though it seems like I always say "next year" - although I doubt I'll have more time next year with an almost two and a half year old plus a 6-7 month old. Growing up we had a neat little Easter tree with tiny eggs that I think were made of wood. I'd love to make or find something similar someday.

Resurrection Rolls: 

Less steps and less waiting (toddlers don't do waiting very well) than resurrection cookies, these involve rolling a marshmallow in butter and cinnamon sugar, wrapping it in a crescent roll and baking. They aren't a very healthy snack although I'll try to improve them a bit by using a homemade crescent roll dough. I could attempt to make my own marshmallows but that isn't going to happen, this year at least.

The marshmallow represent a pure white, sinless Christ.

The versions I've seen say to have the butter represent the anointing oil and the sugar mix represent spices but 1) that's a bit much for a toddler and 2) Jesus didn't get "spiced" did he? Wasn't that why the women were headed to the tomb on Easter morning? Instead, we'll talk about how Jesus took our sins and now looks dirty (succanot, cinammon and butter will be a perfect "dirt"). He did this because He loves us and because it was part of God's "rescue plan" ("rescue plan" is a term her Jesus Storybook Bible uses so she is familiar with it. I'll be trying to incorporate the stories we're read from there as much as possible).

Then we bury Jesus and our sins in a crescent roll tomb. After we bake them, the marshmallow Jesus disappears and we are left with a hollow tomb of a roll. Our sins are gone and Jesus is alive!

Easter Books:

Of course, what holiday is complete without some special books. No Twiddle Twaddle has a huge list of Easter themed books (here is her summary post). Lots of them are Easter bunny stories so we'll skip those but there are several books that tell the Easter story or talk about the traditions of Easter. I've already put The Bird's Gift and On That Easter Morning on hold at our library plus we'll be steering Lucy's bedtime bible story  selection towards the Passover and crucifiction/resurrection areas of The Jesus Storybook Bible as best we can.

Resurrection Eggs (simplified): 

I haven't decided if I'll be doing these or not. It probably depends on whether I can easily find a tiny cross :-) But my idea, gleaned and tweaked from the originals and other versions I've seen, would involve only 4 eggs and follows the stories emphasized in the Jesus Storybook Bible pretty closely.

1) Bread (leftover matza?)
2) Grass/leaves (represent garden)
3) Cross
4) Empty egg/tomb

Easter basket:

Just as food and decorations are important elements of celebrations, I think gifts can have their place too, as long as they aren't the focus. I recently bought a bunch of art supplies for Lucy but kept out a few to put in her basket. I also want to make sure there is something to help grow her faith. Last year she received her Jesus Storybook Bible which she now loves (and I highly recommend as you can probably tell from the multiple references to it in the post) and I think this year she'll be getting a scripture CD. I'm torn between Steve Green's Hide 'Em in Your Heart and Hidden in My Heart: A Lullaby Journey through Scripture. I suppose I should decide soon so I get it in time to actually put it in her basket.

For now, she won't be getting candy - except a chocolate bunny/lamb (I'd rather have a lamb but probably won't be able to find one) so she can share it with mom and if he is lucky (and quick) dad, too. When she is old enough to miss it, we'll probably find something suitable to put in there (this post has a couple good ideas)

I can't really say how well these will work out, but that's the plan at least. So what are you planning for this special week?

*Quick sidenote: I pretty much missed Lent altogether this year but I started a Beth Moore study in January that is turning out to be a perfect prelude to Easter.  I should have finished it a while ago but I've had to take the slow (but steady!) approach and will be finishing it up right about Easter. Neither the study nor the timing was intentional but God must have known :-)


Toddler Tuesday: Cheater Sensory Bin

I never intended that froggy sensory bin to last for months but it did. Partly because we kept leaving for a few weeks at a time and it would seem brand new to her each time we returned and partly because I had too much going on to update it. But finally, in January, I replaced it. But I cheated. I didn't do a cute theme with fun little toys and knick-knacks. Nope. This bin had one thing in it - water beads.

Water beads are those transparent polymer beads that hold water for flower arrangements. I wouldn't have ever considered using them as a toy but I saw the idea on several blogs (that I have sadly lost track of since or I would be a nice blogger and link to them). They are made from the same stuff as contact lenses so the material is perfect safe for handling. Ours were fully expanded when we got them although sometimes you have to hydrate them initially.  If left out to dry, they will shrink slightly. But they'll return to their fun smooshy selves once you rehydrate them.

I got two bottles from the dollar store and I don't think you can get much cheaper than a $2 sensory bin. The package will probably say they aren't toys though, just keep in mind they are small and slippery so use common sense - keep an eye on your kid and don't use if you have a mouther. They come in lots of colors but our dollar store only had clear and I'm cheap plus I was concerned about staining. I've since learned that with the possible exception of red, they are not a big stain concern so next time we might search out a few different colors for extra fun.

But even with just clear ones, she had a blast. She played with these daily for over a month. She started by just feeling them with her hands and making them dance by shaking the box. They do feel pretty neat, even Craig and I had to try them out. Then she tried smooshing them with her feet although that resulted in a few bead casualties. My one tip would be to place the bin on a towel. Lucy was good about trying to keep them in the bin but being slippery, some would fly out and land on the carpet. It didn't hurt the carpet but they would bring along cat hair and dirt on their return and that ended up being pretty yucky - although a quick rinse in a colander fixed that. I guess you could also have cleaner floors than me but a towel seemed like an easier solution.

By the end of the month I had also given her a spoon and a few plastic items I had laying around in addition to the empty bottles and lids and she did lots of spooning and pouring. I don't have very many pictures because I used this as a "I feel really really awful so here, play with this while I lay on the floor next to you" activity. These picture are actually from when I tried to secretly clean up the bin while I thought she was distracted. Sshe saw me and insisted on playing some more and if you look closely, there are only a few beads left because I had removed most of them already. After the month, I picked out about a containers worth of good (intact) ones, rinsed them and saved them for next time. She's just playing with the broken leftovers but even those kept her busy for a while.

This is a really fun, easy and cheap activity. Have you tried water beads? If not, what are you waiting for? If so, did you do anything different that we should try next time?


I'm really really never leaving her again.

Warning: I've tried to be as polite as possible in my descriptions but if you are particularly squeamish, you might want to skip this post. 

Y'all know how my last big planned absence from Lucy went - not well. And besides a quick trip to the grocery story or library, or a girls' night at Neighbor J's where I was less than 5 minutes away, I haven't really left her since. More so because I haven't felt up to leaving the house than anything else but this week, it was time.

Neighbor J and I were planning on going to a homeschooling conference. It is a little less odd that Neighbor J would want to go since she is actually homeschooling her older child but I love all things schoolish so I couldn't help but want to tag along. Craig was coming home early on Thursday to watch Lucy and we would take off, having enough time to browse the vendors before hitting a seminar. But a couple hours before I was set to leave, I noticed something very odd when I was helping Lucy with her pottying. I started to panic but then decided to call a good friend of mine who happens to be a nurse. She told me to text her a picture but when I went to take one, the "oddness" was gone. Because of my background, I have a fair amount of knowledge in the medical field so between my description and her real medical knowledge, we were pretty sure we knew what had happened. It wasn't a great thing but since it had quickly remedied itself, we thought we were in the clear. Craig came home, I gave him an update with the info I had from my friend and google and told him to keep me updated. I had called our doctor and she was supposed to be getting back to me soon but still hadn't. Then Neighbor J and I left.

Fast forward a little over an hour and I got a text. It had happened again and wasn't fixing itself. Neighbor J was a good sport and since I think we had both been maxed out by curriculum and textbooks, we called it an early night. By then, our doctor had called back and said that she could see us first thing in the morning which, at the time I talked to her (before text), seemed soon enough. This time, we got a better view and a picture and yep, just as we suspected - rectal prolapse. It is what it sounds like and it is as incredible horrifying as you would imagine. High fevers - scary. Dog bites on your child's face - really scary. Seeing your child's insides on the outside - really really scary.

After some panicking, calling and texting our friend the nurse and Craig's sister (also a nurse) we were just about to pack up and head into the ER when it finally fixed itself again. By then, Lucy was upset so even though it was already past her bedtime, we snuggled and watched a Caillou before finally putting her to bed. The whole thing wore her out and she slept really well; me - not so much. I think I got 10 minutes of sleep the whole night. Not quite the evening I had planned.

And instead of spending Friday shopping with a friend and her kiddos then finishing up the closets, we spent the day going from one doctor appointment to another. First we saw our doctor who immediately passed us on to a pediatric surgeon. I started having heart palpitations at the word "surgeon" but "nurse friend" (I think she needs a better blog name :-) said that was pretty common for a consult so don't panic, it doesn't mean she needs surgery. We had a few hours to kill in the city since it didn't make sense to drive home just to drive back so we decided to let Lucy have a little fun at the zoo. I'm so sad I didn't bring a camera with us (although who takes a camera to the doctors :-) because Lucy loved the zoo and has been talking about it since. She normally tells me she is swimming like a fish when she takes a bath, but tonight she said she was swimming like a penguin - how cute is that! It was also a nice way for mommy to calm down a bit.

The pediatric surgeon turned out to be great. The office was fun and Lucy actually played while we waited.  She didn't care for the more invasive parts of the exam but he was great with her and us.The whole thing was so much different from our last unplanned visit with medical personal. I left feeling much better about the situation and Lucy waving goodbye to the doctor and jabbering about her new puppy stickers. Of course, I was still worried about her but we know had a plan and information on how to deal with it in the future.

The plan is to monitor her and hope it improves on its own.Since she didn't have a normal presentation (if it happens in little kids, it is most often due to constipation but if anything, she had the opposite problem) the best suggestion for why it was happening seemed to be that the stomach bug she had last week upset her system and since her young muscles are still forming, they were just overtaxed. At least, that is the hope. They also want to run a test for another cause that is more serious but the likelihood of that is pretty slim. The test is non-invasive so we will do it just to be extra cautious, but I'm not really worried about it.

Of course, it didn't happen all day but we had two more episodes in the few hours between when we got home and when she went to bed. Having a idea of what was happening and what we were supposed to do about it helped, but not that much. Doing anything in that area with a toddler who doesn't really understand what is happening but is surprisingly strong is not fun and each episode is a bit traumatic for mommy and baby. Craig seems to do better about staying calm and keeping it all in perspective so I'm glad he has been around for the bad ones.

Of course, I am more determined than before never to leave my child again. Last time I tried she got mauled by a dog, this time - her bowels start to fall out. Seriously! I couldn't even make this stuff up.

Current Update: Saturday and Sunday were problem free and I was just about to let my guard down and think it was over but Monday night brought another episode. I do think the changes we have made are helping as is the fact that her system seems to be "better." Hopefully, these oh-so-unpleasant episodes will get more and more rare until it isn't an issue. Then we still have to deal with Lucy's (very legitimate) fear of going to the bathroom.  Parenting certainly isn't for sissies. 


15 Weeks!

I thought I would do a pregnancy update. Here is where I would put a belly picture except I don't have one. In fact, I don't seem to have a single picture that shows that I am pregnant. I keep meaning to get around to it, especially after I noticed a big gap in pictures from 6 weeks to 15-16 weeks during my last pregnancy. Hmm, I wonder if there is a reason for that?

But I could do a belly picture. I've got one already. In fact, I started putting away clothes at 7 weeks and am totally in maternity pants now with only a few non-maternity shirts that work. I guess that is what happens when you combine a second pregnancy with actual weight gain instead of weight loss like last time around.

This is a problem considering its been really warm here lately and I was not pregnant during the summer last time. But maternity outfits look so cute on pinterest but when I look at actual items they are all hideous. Why are all the maternity t-shirts I see so thin? Its hot and I'm pregnant, I don't want to wear multiple layers people! Of course, there is cute stuff out there if you are willing to pay a ridiculous amount. How adorable is this tunic from Boden! But there is no way I'm paying almost $90 for a shirt that Lucy would probably spill something on within 10 minutes.

I finally just gave up and ordered some reasonable priced and hopefully non-hideous stuff from Old Navy and Gap and am relying on some items I borrowed from a friend to get me through until my order arrives.

I am beginning to feel like myself again. I've had a few periods of three or four good days before but they were always followed by a couple bad days which are even worse because I thought I was done. But I've felt pretty good for almost a week now. I still get queasy if I'm not diligent about eating enough but totally manageable.

And I'm getting more cravings although I'm not sure if I can call them cravings as much as my allowing myself to splurge on foods I normally like but don't get. Like guacamole. Traders Joe's avacados number guac is so so so good. Unfortunately Lucy loves "green dip" as much as I do so I have to be willing to share (and clean up a mess) or wait until after bedtime. Another splurge - Kix. I justify that nutritionally by saying I eat them with milk and milk has protein but yah, that's all I got. But I ate a serving of vegetables with dinner for the first time in months this week which means I should probably start up with the Brewer diet and supplements again sometime soon. It really wasn't that bad once I got into the routine last time but looking at the chart stresses me out.

Lucy is doing pretty well with the concept of a baby.  If I have to remind her not to kick me (when I'm laying next to her, she doesn't just come up and kick me, that would be odd), she'll say "baby" and pats my tummy or wants to give it a kiss. And she talks a lot about how we went driving with daddy to listen to the baby. Of course, she doesn't really have a clue what she is in for, but I probably don't either :-)

That's about all the baby news I have. But hopefully I'll have the energy not only to post but to do fun stuff to post about soon!


Sandbox Step-by-Step

I'm told that MacKenzie already mentioned our new sandbox, but I thought I'd discuss the construction process a little bit. We decided to make a 6' x 6' box (enough room to hold multiple children) based somewhat on this design, so I bought four 2" x 6" x 12' cedar boards, and cut them all in half, to make a box with 12" tall sides. First I put four half-boards together with 2.5" deck screws to make a square. Then I primed and painted the square (I elevated the square on paint cans and did this now so I wouldn't have to paint it when it is sitting on the ground).

I also attached weed-control fabric to the bottom of the square with staples. My raised garden beds have had some issues with grass growing in them, and I don't want that in the sandbox, so I did this. The tutorial at the link above actually involved making a wooden bottom, but I thought that was excessive, especially since it rains a lot here, and I want the water to be able to drain.

I dug out the grass where the sandbox was to be placed, to further reduce the likelihood of grass issues.

Then I put the square in place, and pounded an 18" wooden stake into the ground, inside the square, at each corner. I left 5.5" of stake protruding above the square, and screwed each stake to the square with 1.5" screws. Then I put built another square atop the existing one, attaching the boards to each other at the corners, and then to the stake. Then I painted everything (all boards got one coat of primer and two of high-gloss paint).

After this was done, I added 24 bags of sand to the box (1200 lbs. worth, to make it 4" deep), with a bit of guidance.

Finally, I added seats in two of the corners, so mom and dad have a place to sit while Lucy plays in the sand.

MacKenzie would like a cover over this, to keep cats out. I want to allow rain to get in the box, to keep the sand moist, so I'll make a cover with hardware cloth and a frame of 1" x 2" x 6' wood strips, or something like that.

If you love this sandbox, feel free to stick it up on Pinterest. No really, I insist.

Update: I made a cover for the sandbox, something that will keep out critters but allow rain and sunshine to enter. I used 1" x 4" cedar boards, poultry wire, and staples. I just lay it on the box, and set it aside when it is playtime.


A Legacy

But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children - with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

Psalm 103:17-18 

March 21st. My parent's anniversary. It  is would have been is the 36th anniversary of their wedding day. I was about to write that 36 year is longer than I've been alive but then I realized "duh!" But 36 years is a long time and I know to them, it wasn't long enough.

I'm sure every bride has heard some variation of the phrase, "It's the marriage, not the wedding, that matters." My parents exemplified this. Their wedding was not a grand affair that would have been featured in any bridal magazine or tlc special. It was really small. I think my mom wore a yellow dress. I hadn't seen any pictures of their wedding or them on their wedding day until we found a few while searching for pictures for her funeral slideshow (and by few, I mean 2-3). Their honeymoon was at a local zoo. Nothing special.

But their marriage was special. The vow they made of "as long as we both shall live," the covenant they entered into - they kept it. And I don't mean that they just didn't get a divorce. They lived out their vows every day and I feel so blessed that I got to see that and experience as a child what growing up in a loving, Godly home is like.

I look at my own marriage and my and Craig's growing family and I know that it wouldn't be what it is if I didn't have that example to look to. I miss my mom so much but when I see what we have, I know she is with me. And I pray that someday Lucy  (and Dewey) will be able to say the same thing about Craig and I. To know that we have passed on that legacy. Then I will know that we have succeeded.

Happy Anniversary Dad (and Mom).

Picture taken January 2009


If you give a cat a closet...

Yikes, what happened to my living room?

Well, you see...

It all started last month when we moved Lucy into her own room (at least to start off the night :-) The cat box has always been in that closet but with her sleeping in there, I didn't really like that. It isn't that she would bother it, we even got a baby gate for that reason when she started crawling and never even needed to use it because she was so good about leaving it alone and even giving Zeeba her privacy (at least someone in this house gets some). But I just didn't feel like a good mom knowing she was sleeping with that smell around. So for a few weeks, we kept mentioning moving it, but never did.

Fast forward to last Saturday, after Craig spent the morning helping a friend move we drove into the city to have linner with my dad who was in town for the weekend, I had decided enough was enough. Of course, it was a hour before her bed time, she still needed a bath and we were all tired - perfect timing, right?

I figured it would be quick. Ha! We decided to move it into the hall closet which meant finding a new home for the shelving unit there. But once we emptied the closet, we realized that it was the "perfect" time to paint it.

Then we realized if we were going to get all the painting supplies out to paint the hall closet, we should go ahead and paint the living room closet, too.

So 45 minutes later, we had a cat box and the contents of two closets spread all over our living room. And did I mention I keep the "Lucy materials" that I don't want her to have access to in that closet - like the sensory bin items, extra craft supplies and tray work I don't think she is quite ready for (pouring tray!) She was in heaven.

But the closets are painted and everything is almost back to normal. I didn't take before shots because this wasn't a planned thing, but I'll try to post "afters" when its all rearranged.


Spring Break!

Okay, I don't "work" and Lucy isn't in school so spring break is technically not an accurate term but it was similar to a spring break in that I tried to make it extra special. Craig was gone all week for work and luckily, I was feeling pretty good and completely ready to do something other than sit around the house. Of course, we both still need our naps so I didn't go crazy but I think I hit a good balance between our regular rhythm and enough excitement that the days didn't stretch on forever without even the relief of Craig's arrival in the evenings.

Monday we had a play date with Neighbor J and her two kids plus our mutual friend "N" and her baby.  Finding time to talk with other adults this week was pretty important since Lucy is good company but not quite a great conversationalist yet.

 Tuesday was library day. Lucy loves the library and this time we were in no hurry. We read books then joined in for storytime where we have our little routine. She likes storytime but their book selection isn't normally very good and she loses interest. About half way through she'll say she is all done. I'll then remind her if we leave now, we'll miss the craft. She loves the craft so instead she'll grab one of the books from our bag and sit quietly on her carpet square "reading" to herself until the librarian is done. I might feel bad but she is one of the youngest and other than her lack of attention, she's still one of best behaved kids. (The little girl next to us this week kept running around and bumping into us and the only way her mother could would get her to stop (after her idle threats didn't work) was to hold her feet while she did a head stand.)

I'm glad we put up with headstand girl and stayed this week because the craft was a big hit with Lucy. She made a green St. Patrick's day hat with foam shamrock stickers and a rainbow over the top. I made the mistake of saying it was a party hat and she thought I said potty hat so she insisted on wearing it to the potty for the next several days. Now I'm waiting for her to forget about it so I can throw it away :-)

On the way home, we went grocery shopping and picked up the ingredients for homemade ice cream (and other healthy stuff too :-) I followed this recipe and it worked pretty well. Lucy helped me measure everything and then we took it outside to shake it.

 Shake, shake, shake...
 and enjoy!

She actually put in quite the effort but I switched our bags every few minutes just to make sure that both would be edible. The recipe is not very sweet which was perfect for her but I might add a bit more sugar (I used succanat), a few drops of stevia or even a tablespoon of chocolate syrup) to my bag next time. But it was still a hit and since it was so soft, she could eat it without help which meant I could eat mine in peace too. Then she had fun playing with the ice on the driveway and then the sand. By the evening, she was dirty and exhausted which was perfect because we were still working out some daylight savings kinks and a nice warm bath and early bed time was the perfect remedy to all those issues.

Wednesday was supposed to be our fun shopping trip day. But the maternity selection at Old Navy was really picked over so we left empty handed and then we ended up getting berated and cursed at in the parking lot by some psycho lady which left me shook up and Lucy in tears. I'd get into the details but I don't want to get worked up again so I'll just say it took the fun out of the trip. I tried to redeem the day by going to Target but I had to return something and when the target lady said hi to me and Lucy, she freaked out and climbed onto my head/back and then I forgot the bubbles which I had promised her. We headed home for more backyard time. Backyards are fun and safe and nobody yells at your there. We played in the sandbox and then we looked for worms. We found a giant worm while digging for the sandbox and she is now obsessed with them. Luckily she doesn't seem to notice the all the ones she finds are shrivel up and dead.

Thursday was another play date, this time at a friends house. Lucy was a bit clingy but it was a low key morning and we all had fun. Then one the way home, she started vomiting. And she didn't stop all afternoon. Right before she got sick, I had picked up some chick-fil-a and even though she didn't actually want to eat it, Lucy insisted on holding her chicken for several hours until she fell asleep and I pried it from her hands. After her nap, she seemed to feel pretty good as long as she didn't eat. She wanted to play but then would get tired and just fall over and lay on the floor looking up at me. Finally I said we needed to get into bed and watch Caillou and she agreed. So we spent the afternoon snuggled up and it wasn't really that bad - other than her lack of "bucket skills" and the fact that we now need to wash every queen sized blanket/duvet/comforter we own. I guess a trip to the laundromat is on this weeks agenda.

Friday was supposed to be park day but a day at home turned out to be alright. She was ready for some toast and bananas in the morning and everything stayed down - both her food and her fever. She helped me do some basic cleaning so things were decent for Craig's return then colored while I made brownies.
 I swear I'm not a cruel making my sick kid clean, she wanted to and she really doesn't look sick here, but wait 20 minutes...

All that fun must have really worn her out because she fell asleep on my lap at 10:30 - right after I put the brownies in the oven! She was so tired that when I woke her up so I could take them out of the oven, she just said "no, sleep" and then went right back to sleep on my shoulder. I must say that while I hate having a sick kid, a happy but sleepy sick kid really is the best kind to have. Then it was just a few hours until daddy came home!

So things didn't all work out like I planned but even so, we had a pretty fun week. Now that I feel like I'm pretty close to my old self again, I'm really looking forward to doing more things with Lucy. I feel like I'm always saying "this age is my favorite" but really, I mean it this time. She is just so much fun now!


21 month tidbits

 My goal with scrapbooking has always been to be within the year and I got 2010 done a few days before the new year so I made it. But I really want to get to within 6 months, its just so much easier to remember things. My progress since pregnancy has been slow but I'm almost to Lucy's first birthday and the rest of the year should go faster since I didn't take nearly as many picture as I did that first year. But I don't want to forget things that are happening now  - hence the completely random 21.5 month update.

  •  I can't even count them all her words let alone list them but her most random word is probably 'mingo (flamingo).  
  • She has trouble with "k" and "l" which  which means she loves our "ditty" and her favorite show is "ailloo." 
  • She calls herself "you." I'm not sure if that is how she pronounces Lucy without the "l" sound or if she thinks that is another name for her since we are always asking her "Do you want to do this?" or "Do you want that?"
  • She doesn't like to try to say words she can't say. I love giving her choices instead of yes/no questions because most of the time she will try to say one of them, even if it isn't a word she has said before. 
  • to count things. On her own she can only count to 2 but that still means she can count lots of things like eyes, ears, and, the often used to my advantage, sleeves and pant legs. With my help adding in three, six and seven, she can get all the way to 10.  I'm not sure if she doesn't know the others or she just can't say them.
  •  to color and play with play dough. Mostly she makes faces, telling me exactly what she is drawing/making each step. First she starts with a circle, then adds two eyes, a mouth and sometimes a nose. Sometimes the eyes and mouth make it into the circle and it almost looks like a person, sometimes its a bit more abstract. 
  • blue. She knows most of her colors but blue was the first she could say so it is her favorite. She always wants her blue straw and her blue barette. Makes me feel better about my decision to paint her room blue. 
  • to say no. I keep thinking we must be at the peak of the no phase but it just keeps going. A week or two ago, we were playing nicely in the living room, her sans clothing as is the norm, when out of nowhere, she gets up and goes to her dresser, opens a drawer and takes out a shirt. She brings it right up to me, says "No," then puts it back in her drawer and comes back to play. I was left wondering what the proper response to that was. It wasn't like I told her and she was disobeying me...that kid!  
  • Her dad! Our attempts at turning her into a daddy's girl are working! She not only gives him hugs now but kisses and snuggles well. It can be quite an ordeal to get him out the door in the morning, as she has to give him a hug, then a kiss, then maybe another hug. And even if she says bye, as soon as the door closes, she will suddenly decide he needs one more hug so we rush after him. I don't think he minds though :-) She still doesn't want him to take her potty if I'm around, which also doesn't bother him, especially when she wakes up at 6am on Saturday morning and needs to go. 
  • her "girl and daddy" edtime story which isn't so much a story as a list of things "a girl" likes to do with her daddy like fill the birdfeeder, color and drive to the library. But if we slip up and say Lucy instead of girl, she gets upset and insists we correct ourselves.
  • to be tickled. She laugsh and laughs while crawling away. But as soon as we stop, she crawls back saying "more, more." Craig has already learned that it is a good idea if she goes potty before tickle time begins. 
  •  medical personal. Our last check-up was pretty bad, even our doctor commented on how she was a bit young for PTSD but it seemed like she had it anyway. The doctor didn't even try to touch her and she was shaking which was so disheartening since she previously quite friendly with our doctor.  I didn't  think the midwife would be an issue since she was wearing regular clothes and her office isn't a typical medical office. There is an exam table to the side but we mostly sit on the couch and the most medical thing Lucy saw her do to me was take my temperature.Lucy was not fooled. Her clinging to my chest with her arms blocking my airway was impeding the appointment so Craig took her outside to look at the birds until it was heartbeat time.  I tried to tell her that this was the same women from her birth story book. I mean, this was the first person in the entire world to lay eyes on her, and she gave her the evil eye the entire visit. But on the bright side, we now have a monthly opportunity for her to work on her fears. 
  • dogs. Well, she loves dogs until they get within a foot or two of her then she wants them to go away, right away. Even our neighbors dog Sophie, who she previously loved, has been put on the naughty list. If I try to tell her puppies are nice, she just tells me no. 
  • my choice of songs. She wants to listen to music but says no to every song I put on and if I don't change it, she sticks her fingers in her ears and says no, no, no. But if I turn it off, she gets upset. So most of the time I don't even offer unless I'm willing to take on a "mommy's decision" battle. 


Toddler Tuesday: The big red monster

I've been pinning sandboxes since last fall and was really hoping Craig wouldn't mind building Lucy one so when he mentioned buying lumber for one more raised bed, I saw my opportunity. I think he saw through my "its just the same as a raised bed but a little bigger...with seats... and painted" pleas but he went with it anyway because who doesn't love a sandbox?

We basically came up with our own "plan" and Craig might chime in later with the deets on the build but I'll skip to the fun part. He finished it Sunday afternoon and it has already gotten hours of use. Of course, just as Murphy would have predicted, Saturday while he was finishing building it the weather was gorgeous and sunny but by the time the paint has dried and it was filled on Sunday, it was cloudy and gloomy. Lucy didn't mind though.

We took a gamble since she has only ever played in a sandbox one time last fall. And she started out a bit timid, only playing playing from the outside, a little afraid to get messy but I was able to convince her to give it a try.

Now I'm not kidding when I call this thing a monster. It's 6x6 and currently holds over 1000 lbs of sand - that's pretty big for a kid that is barely 2 ft tall. But we had the space and I figured we will have at least 2 kids and Neighbor J has two already so even if it is just the four of us, each kid will need space to build without sitting on someone else's castle. But it does look a bit massive when it is just her standing in there.

Yesterday we played outside in the morning for about an hour with friends and then another hour after nap time. By the afternoon, she was even willing to take off her shoes and put her toes in. Once she gave that a try, she loved it so much she made me try too. Not that I minded. Elaine commented on my last post about playing with your kids and I agree, playing with Lucy doesn't come as naturally to me as I thought it would. And frankly, some of her "games" are boring. But I might be enjoying the sandbox as much as she is. Hmmm, maybe that's the real reason I insisted Craig make it so big. Either way, thanks Superdad for another job well done!

(ignore the baby head of the well's roof, not sure what that's about)

Although now the little well looks so shabby sitting next to the bright sandbox. Perhaps it needs a cute of coat of pretty geranium red too? We still have paint left over!


Not that different after all

I wrote this back in January with the idea that I would leave it sitting for a day or two then go back and edit it. Two months later and I still don't have the energy to edit. But I don't have anything else to post so just ignore whatever errors you find. But let me know if anything is unclear. Sometimes I ramble and the point gets lost. 

I've talked a lot about the Montessori concepts of education but I actually love to read about lots of educational theories. Of course I do - I'm the kid who's highlight of the summer during my middle school and high school years was sitting down with my mom and a stack of curriculum catalogs (most likely sunlight and rainbow resource as well as others) and picking out what I would be using the next year. No need to bring it up, I know I was weird kid.

But I love to research all kids of methods since one of the benefits about being a mom and not a teacher at a specific school is that I can pick and choose what I like best about each*. Two of my other favorite methods to read about include Charlotte Mason and Waldorf (although I must add in here that I do throw out a lot of chaff with that last one but I still think the Waldorf wheat is worth it).

On the surface, those three methods may appear really different and in many ways they are. But not altogether. There are several main philosophies that seem to tie those theories together. The way they may  implement those ideas are different, but the concepts are similar - and often times very different from the way mainstream education works**

Parents/Teachers are facilitators of learning.

My job as Lucy's "teacher" is not to cram knowledge into her head. It's to present her with opportunities to learn.  Learning involves making connections and seeing how things work and fit together. Without that, facts are just facts, not knowledge. But it isn't my job to make those connections for Lucy, at least not all of them. I present her with opportunities for learning and the equipment that she needs, but she has to do the work of putting it all together if she is to truly learn.

You see this with CM is the rejection of textbooks in favor of living books. Textbooks put together in one or two paragraphs the facts that you might glean from several living books, but which method will allow for greater comprehension? I've heard Mason's method described as carefully and orderly preparing a feast, but letting the child decide what they are ready to eat.

Similarly, Montessori activities are set out and the child is free to choose what he/she will work on and for how long. I've made sensory items for Lucy that she has used over and over again and ones that shes used once and is done with. I trust her brain to know what it needs to now.

And of course, Waldorf takes this pretty far at times, maybe too far, especially with younger children. One might even be encouraged not to answer a child's many questions but instead respond with a "Hmm, Sometimes I wonder why the sky is blue too." I'm pretty sure I'll never go that far, but the basic idea that we aren't there to supply every bit of information and form every connection for the child makes sense.

Better late than early.

In Waldorf education, early education shouldn't begin until at least 6.5 to 7 years old. Charlotte Mason also advocates for a "late" start of formal lessons at age 6. I remember Marilla telling Anne (in Anne of Avonlea) that she didn't think it right to send Davy to school before he was older (7?). In modern times, that would be considered tantamount to child abuse. Kindergarten has gone from half day to almost always full day and now we not only have preschool for 4 years old but for children toddlers as young as 2! I really don't think it will be long before we join Israel with compulsory education beginning at age 3. That is just ridiculous. Frankly, children have too much learning to do at home, learning to be a part of a family, learning to play and imagine, learning to be loved and protected. School just gets in the way of that.

Many people might think that Montessori disagrees with the better late than early principle, and I think the way people put it into action could do that, but one of the most important Montessori principles is "Follow The Child." As a parent/teacher, I need to be always observing Lucy so I know where she is developmentally (this is what a Montessori teacher should be doing since she isn't keeping herself busy leading students in lots of group activities and circle times). I don't push Lucy into things she isn't ready for (as should be obvious by the fact that she still isn't sleeping through the night, haha!)

Maria talks extensively about sensitive periods but those need to be individualized. And because I am presenting materials to her, but letting her choose what to do, if she isn't ready for something, she won't choose it; or if she does but can't use it correctly, I'll take it away and try again later.

Actually, I think this is one of the reasons I'm so drawn to Montessori is that it gives me something to do, something to prepare, without having to push her into schooling before she is ready. As much as I think it is best to leave children alone when they are young, to let them play and learn and develop at home, it can be really hard to leave things alone. At this point in time, I don't think I want to start really homeschooling Lucy until she is 6, but if I didn't have something to keep me and her occupied, I'm positive I would cave and start earlier. And Waldorf materials do a great job reminding me of the importance of creative and imaginative play. But while Montessori and Waldorf are a good fit for us in the early years, I'm guessing that we will transition to more of a CM style as Lucy gets older. Of course, this is all theoretical, but its fun to think about.

What kids sense (see/hear/experience) around them is important

 I am super particular about what I expose Lucy too.This one is probably the one that makes me seem like a nazi parent to many but I know that it isn't just about now, I know that I am teaching her standards. What she gets used to now is what she will consider normal and I just as I don't want her getting accustomed to cheez- whiz or sunny-D, I don't want her getting used to cheap plastic crap. I want to expose her to quality music, art, and toys and experiences.

Both Waldorf and Montessori emphasis quality, open-ended toys, hopefully wooden. And all three methods believe that art and music should be a part of even young children's lives. I put their emphasis on spending time in Nature in this category too because what is more beautiful and quality than God's original creation?

This is so different from modern classrooms. I cringe when I think of the multiple kindergarten and early education classrooms I've spent time in (as a volunteer and a substitute teacher). Its posterboard overload, everywhere you look are posters and pictures, colorful bins and buckets, but nothing is quality and there isn't any place for your eyes (and brain) to rest. The very worst example of this I've seen is whole brain/power teaching. Here is a video if you must subject yourself to it.

If I was in a college lecture and the professor started doing this, I wouldn't even make it through the lecture before I got up and left to go drop the class. But those poor kindergartners don't have a choice. We subject them to an overload of sounds, colors, words, without giving his a chance to think then call poor little Johns parents in to tell him he has ADHD and needs medicine. Many of the comments on the video say that it is a great classroom management tool because it keeps the children engaged. Reading between the lines, I think they mean, it keeps the kids busy so they can't get in trouble, but are they truly engaged and learning or just busy being loud?

* Of course, this only works to a certain extent. If you throw out too much, you really aren't following the method anymore. Lots of mom's follow the CM method with the exception of using a textbook for math. That makes sense. I recently read a comment on a CM blog from a women who said she loves CM and they follow it except for dication/narration. Now she might have a great system for her family but if you don't do either of those things, I'm not sure you can call yourself a CM follower any more than I could say I follow Montessori but we do it with worksheets instead of sensory work. Just sayin'.

**I haven't been formally trained in any of these methods so this is just my take from reading about them.  I like to read from the main source when possible. I will admit that is often not the most interesting way to gather the information (for interesting and fun, find blogs) but they are comprehensive if you can deal with the dryness. Here are my "sources"

Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series 
Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook by Maria Montessori
Spontaneous Activity in Education by Maria Montessori
(Another great Montessori book is How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way)
Beyond the Rainbow Bridge (Waldorf)
Heaven on Earth (Waldorf)


Dewey and I are still here

We had our first midwife appointment on Friday and everything was just as it should be. My iron, which was a problem last pregnancy, was actually really good considering my diet has consisted of 50% bagels and cream cheese lately. Emotionally I'm doing a little better now that I've heard the heartbeat and know that Dewey is still with us, a fact that I do not take for granted.

 I've also realized that many of my negative emotions really don't have anything to do with the baby but are more grief related issues that are just being brought to the surface because of the pregnancy, both situationally and hormonally. Acknowledging that has allowed me to feel those negative emotions without the guilt. I hate being sad about occasions that are supposed to be joyful but I can hardly even think about the actual birth because I know my mom won't be there and I always assumed she would be. Or calling everyone but her to tell them he/she is born when I remember how she was waiting and waiting and as soon as she heard Lucy was Lucy, she rushed out to buy as many pink things as she could find. But I have time, to get used to the idea and to go through more of the grief process that I know has to happen.

It is odd to think that is has only been a little more than 3 months since my mom passed away. It seems so much longer. Not in a "time heals all wounds" sort of way. It's more like I miss her so much and so many things have happened that I want to talk to her about but can't that it is hard to think about how I'm supposed to make it through the next 3, 13 or even 30 years without her. And my hormones are already such that a diaper commercial can make me cry (and I don't even like disposables!) so what chance do I have when I think about real hard stuff. At least if I start crying at the grocery store, I can just tell the cashier I'm pregnant and hopefully she won't think I'm that weird.

*Yes, we went with the poll results. That was my favorite too!


St. Louis Civil War

This post about a Congressional race here in Missourah may not have any relevance to most of you, but I want to write about it because it is so delicious. We will be able to watch two liberal legacy Democratic politicians go after each other with everything they've got in a primary showdown.

My Congressmen, Russ Carnahan, member of a prominent Missouri political family (read: he got elected based on his name), lost his district through the post-Census redistricting process,* so he had to find another district to run in. He chose the district that encompasses the city of St. Louis, long represented by William Lacy Clay, whose father also held the seat (read: he got elected based on his name).

It is widely believed that this race will be bitter and racially-tinged (Clay is black). Some of the bitterness is because Carnahan thinks Clay didn't fight hard enough to save Carnahan's seat when redistricting occurred, which is a typically petty reason for a political snit.

Here are some bullet points from early coverage of this race that illustrate its entertainment value:

  • Clay speaking of Carnahan: "He doesn't have a chance." That's rather cocky.
  • "Clay noted that a recent National Journal ranking put him as tied for the most liberal member of Congress, compared to 139th for Carnahan." It is not often that someone would brag about something like this. Only in our run-down urban centers.
  • Some filing-for-the-ballot day bitterness from Clay to Carnahan, delivered face to face:  “Couldn’t wait for the Supreme Court to rule?”
  • Carnahan has so far avoided any attacks on Clay, but "Clay predicted that the August primary “will be ugly.”" That sounds like a threat to me. Clay also said Carnahan's decision to run “was a selfish act." That is true, no doubt.
  • Carnahan is "making good on his promise to seek another term in Congress." What a bold promise - quite possibly the only one he has kept recently.

With this much cattiness on the first day of the race, this contest should provide a wealth of train-wreck goodness all summer long. Stay tuned.

*This all assumes that the Missouri Supreme Court doesn't throw out the redistricting plan, which I don't think it will.


Winner Is...

It looks like Dewey is the winner of our little fetus name poll, with about 2/3 of the vote. Thanks for your input. Stay tuned to see if we do anything with this result.