Saturday, September 24, 2016

I had "a moment"

I'll call it "a moment", but we all know what it really was. A meltdown, an episode, a momma-is-gonna-lose-her-mind-soon-if-you-don't-stop-screaming...thingy.

We are in a time of transition. Little Dude is big enough and able to balance well enough to join sister in the bath in the evenings now. Up till now Josh and I were separating bath time. He'd take Squeaks and do bath time in our guest bathroom and I'd take little Dude to our master bath. A divide and conquer kind of scenario. This past week though, we've tried combining them. Both kids in one tub with one parent while the other parent gets PJs, pacifiers, diapers, and bedrooms ready for bed time. It looks great on paper. Josh and I get to alternate nights spent bent over the tub wrestling slippery toddlers and get a little extra cleaning up done around the house while the kids are in the tub with the other parent on watch. 

Kids are funny little creatures. They just love routine! So far on the nights where I do bath, Squeaks has flipped out because she's use to dad doing bath, and on the nights when Josh has done bath, Little Dude has totally lost it 'cause he's use to me always doing it. It has not gone smoothly to say the least.

This last Thursday night was the worst to-date. It was my night for bath and Squeaks immediately made her grievances known. Loudly. Little Dude was so tired (he's phasing out morning nap. Yay!) and just couldn't take it. He started to feed off his sisters unhappiness and before both kids were barely in the water we had full on meltdowns. 

I decided to join them. 

Total mom-fail.

They're screaming. I'm screaming. Our tiny guest bathroom was transformed into a tiny box of torture. Josh came to my rescue just in time to find me bent over the tub, Little Dude clutching at me, Squeaks clambering to get out of the water as I held her in with my free arm, all three of us in tears. Being the level-headed man that he is, Josh quickly formed a plan. He scooped LD up wrapped in a towel and told us to get out. Fine by me. Josh finished Squeaks' bath and I calmed LD and got him dressed. 

Deep breath.

Not much has improved over the last few nights. One child or the other is unhappy at bath time, but we plug away at it, and everyone eventually ends up clean. 

All of this reminds me of a conversation I recently had with another mom. When describing recent mothering difficulties the only way she could think to explain it was "it feels like being alone in a crowded room." 

I will be the first to admit, I want people to think I'm an awesome mom. I care. I care what people think of me. Plus, I actually DO want to be an awesome mom, not just look like one. Pressure from all sides! Why do I do this to myself? I am NOT alone. I know lots of other moms. Why must we all act like we've got it together? 

Raise your hand if you've had "a moment". 
Most days I feel like I just barely make it by the skin of my teeth. I wouldn't give it up for anything. Wouldn't change a single thing about either one of them. This job is no joke though. I know I'm not alone.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Let's Learn Together!

We've formed a posse. A tiny learning posse.

It all started at music class. 

Practicing her rhythm at music class.
Squeaks and I began attending a small music class every Monday when I was still pregnant with Little Dude. It's super fun to get out of the house, watch her jump around and sing with other kids (or sometimes cling to my leg, depending on her mood) and make tons of noise playing a variety of instruments (she always loves that part). Over time we have made friends with the other kids and moms who attend each week and have enjoyed play dates, outings, and birthday parties as a group.

Recently we have added learning activities to our repertoire of mom skills. I've been semi-homeschooling Squeaks for a few weeks, just taking it slow, maybe 30-40 min a day. The last few weeks we've gotten to add some friends! Squeaks best friend, we'll call her Tinkerbell (maybe Tink for short) has joined us for a few fun letter C and E activities (her mamma was out of town for D, but that's the awesome flexibility of homeschool!). We made "Very Hungry Caterpillars" from egg cartons, read the book together, and "fed" our caterpillars all while counting, learning colors, and building listening skills. (I got the idea here.)
Squeaks and Tink making their caterpillars. It was fun to watch them paint and then "feed" their caterpillars just like in the book.
This last week we had two more friends join us and we played an exciting game of Eye Spy (a mini lesson on the five senses to go with the letter E). They loved it! It was a bit of a twist on the traditional version of the game where someone has to guess the specific object you're looking at. Instead we asked the littles to find any object in the room that matched certain criteria; soft, round, red, etc. It was a blast! 
Here's a link to the game sheet I made. We put a little star sticker in the box when each kiddo found an object matching the description.

This Friday, for the letter F, we have plans to visit a local farm! 
Our learning posse, before the posse formed, at story time at the library this last February.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The End Of An Era

We have taken our last monthly chalkboard picture. I am sad...ever so slightly relieved...but mostly sad. I have loved doing these, and I am so glad our kids have them to look back on!
All displayed in our living room. My heart is full!


It came and went so fast I have a little whiplash! Our Little Dude is ONE!! *stands mouth gaping open in pure astonishment*

We had an absolutely lovely day at Disneyland on his actual birth day. We went on rides, we people-watched (a favorite pastime of mine), and we even got to spend quite a bit of time with a few characters! We happened to be in the right place at the right time when Chip, Dale, and Goofy came out. They literally walked right up to the kids and started playing together! It was so fun!! Squeaks loved it and gave lots of hugs. Little Dude even got to play a little peekaboo with Dale!
Yesterday was LD's party and it went great. I was a bit hard on myself at first because I had grand plans for the decorations, but time just didn't allow for about half of it to happen. Oh well. I still think it turned out perfect and everyone seemed to have a great time. I know I did! The kids loved the bounce house, Little Dude had a blast ripping open presents and smashing his little cake, and I couldn't have asked for more heart warming blessing letters from the grandparents. Good memories, good food, amazing friends and family, and a sweet, wonderful, happy little birthday boy!  
 A few of the decorations I made. Love his monthly picture display!
 I used this recipe for his cake and this one for the frosting. He smeared it around more than he ate it, but he enjoyed what he did eat.  I tried it and it was super yummy!
He went straight from cake-smashing into a quick bath. He loved ripping wrapping paper and Squeaks helped too. Squeaks with Punkin' (so grown up!).
 Bounce house fun with dad, Uncle Caleb, and Squeaks' best friend. (I'll call her Tinkerbell. Her mamma knows why *wink*)
The worlds' best Nana even got in the bounce house with Squeaks! Little Dude was so tired at the end of the party.
Our sweet boy is growing so fast!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Little Man

Mini Man

Little Dude

I am convinced that this little boy was born with full mental knowledge of what he's capable of, just not the physical ability to carry it out yet. He is so determined. So motivated. Never. Stops. Moving.

Tomorrow he turns one. It feels like he went from birth to unstoppable-force-of-nature in no time flat. He is...THE Little Dude.

For his actual birth day we will follow tradition and celebrate at Disneyland just like we did for Squeaks' first birthday. His party will be on Saturday. Planes, trains, and automobiles theme for the Mini Man in constant motion. There will be family, friends, food, and fun. I am especially looking forward to the blessing letters read by Josh, myself, and the grandparents. Another tradition from Squeaks' first as well. Can't wait! Now excuse me while I go cry.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Grandparents Day

I have no doubt in my mind that my kids have the best grandparents in the world. Go ahead, challenge me. I dare you. 

Now that truth has been established, I can begin to properly brag. 

While my parents and Josh's parents have extremely different grandparenting styles, both are equally loved, needed, and effective. 

My parents have a laid-back mellow vibe, preferring music, conversation, arts and crafts, and theological foundation-laying. I value their contributions to our kids' growth. I can count on them to be both engaging and effective in their interactions with our kids. In a way I feel their time spent together is a kind of training. Not to say my parents aren't fun because they most definitely are. We all had a blast together in Tahoe in July and Gaga gives one heck of a "horsey ride" (Gaga being the horsey as Squeaks spurs her on). And just like her book-lovin' mamma, Squeaks can count on Gaga to read endless numbers of stories. I think though my parents would describe themselves as more future-focused. I love that they encourage character-building. They help me focus on my children as more than tiny humans, but as contributing members of our society. The day my mom, Squeaks, and I can sit and discuss C.S. Lewis or textual criticism will be a happy one. With the way Squeaks soaks up information I doubt it will be too long. 

My in-laws have an embrace-the-moment, Disneylandesque vibe to their grandparenting style. They fill my kids' childhood with play and adventure. I can count on them for random trips to the store where handfuls of books and knickknacks are purchased because they were at Squeaks' eye level. They are unfailingly generous and supportive. They keep our wishes at heart (no sugar, as little TV as possible, manners always necessary) and are still able to make "Nana and Papa's house" a magical place. Because I am my parents' child, the "play and pretend" style of my in-laws reminds me to play and pretend too. A necessity. This is not to say my in-laws are all fun and no structure. I know they will never steer my children down the wrong path. Prayers are said, Bible stories are read, and the blessing of wisdom is imparted. When all is said and done, it's an awesome thing to watch a grown woman in her fifties lay on the living room floor and make faces with my eleven-month old or silly sounds with my two year old. 

Very different styles, both absolutely needed. They are two halves to our grandparenting whole. Valued and loved. I have no doubt in my mind that any one of them would do anything for our kids. ANYTHING! We are blessed.
Squeaks held by Papa, Nana, Nana Sue (great-grandma), Little Dude held by Gaga, and Grampy

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Our Calendar Wall: Learning The Weather

I've added the last finishing touches to our homeschool wall and I LOVE IT!! I'm super happy with how this turned out and I think it's going to be a great tool for helping Squeaks learn.
In my ideal world I'd have a designated homeschool room, but you work with what you've got. I think this little corner of our hallway wall is so cute and fun!

The last finishing touches include a weather wheel  and a cork board to display the letter and number we're learning about. If I had to pick one last thing to add it would be a little poster showing the different shapes. I've run out of wall space though, and I'd rather not have my entire kitchen/dining area/hallway taken over with kid related items. It's spreading everyday! That's another post though, cause I have thoughts on kid/adult friendly spaces and keeping them separate. But I digress. 

Click here for a link to the weather wheel. Living in Southern California means we probably won't get to use the "snowy" spot often, but maybe we can go visit the snow and use it on those days. I actually made the cork board too. My crafty self has leftover supplies from previous projects just coming out my ears! I already had a roll of cork and the perfect size little wood plaque to glue it to. Didn't have to buy a thing! I get my craft-hoarding tendencies from my mother (love you mom!).

Now excuse me while I go stare proudly at the corner of my hallway wall.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Our Calendar Wall: The Seasons

Once I get started it's hard to stop!! The creative juices are flowing and I'm on a total crafty/homeschool high. But really, if you're gonna do something, do it all the way! 

Another fun learning tool for you! A fun little "seasons" chart! I laminated mine, cause...why not!? It also makes the little arrow nice and sturdy for little two-year-old fingers to spin. It also makes it easier to stick to the wall.

We have a cute little "Seasons" song to go with it too (find it on my Pinterest board). Just wish we had more difference between the seasons here in CA. It will still be just to talk about the holidays in each season. I think this is going to help Squeaks understand parts of the year a lot better.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Our Calendar Wall: Learning Months

Squeaks and I have started a morning tradition of talking about the calendar. We discuss the days of the week, the date, the month, seasons, weather, and the current letter we're learning about (this week is the letter c). 

I was noticing that she was starting to grasp the days of the week thanks to this awesome days-of-the-week wheel I found (FREE! I opened mine in good-ol' "paint" to add color). When I would ask her what month we are in though, she'd give me a bit of a "what the heck are you talking about?" look. So to Pinterest I went!
There are TONS of months-of-the-year printables on Pinterest, and I actually found one I really liked, but it cost more money than I was willing to spend. I will be the first to admit that my OCD, hyper-organized self is totally geeking-out on school supplies so I've spent my max. DIY it is!! 

No biggie cause I love making school supplies even MORE than I love buying them. And now I will share the fruits of my labor with you! Enjoy this super cute (in my humble opinion) months-of-the-year banner!

The top part of the banner folds over the string and gets taped down. I just used twine and a couple of 3M hooks to hang mine. It's a bit longer than I intended it to be. I wanted it to fit on a small piece of wall at the front of our hallway. I'm happy with how it turned out though. I wrote "What month is it?" on a large clothes pin to clip to our current month. I think this is going to be a great tool to help Squeaks learn!

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