Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shutter Love Tuesdays: Blue

This is one of my favorite shots from my daughter's first trip to the zoo. She has always loved fish, and it was fun to see her reaction to seeing them at the zoo!



Monday, September 27, 2010

Baby Brother

As of September 23rd, Ella's baby brother, Troy, is officially here!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Learning to fear the water and asking for help

Watching the learning and growing process of a child is an amazing experience. It is hard to believe that almost twenty months ago Ella was a tiny baby who could only cry to express her needs and couldn't even hold her head up. Now Ella is this little person, who can communicate with words (among other ways of communicating), and who is currently running in circles around our living room (well, at least she was when I started writing this post). She has learned so much in the past twenty months!

Something little that she has recently learned really intrigued me. Over the past few weeks there have been a couple of times that Ella has slipped in water on the floor (whether it was a drip of water or she walked where we had just mopped). She hasn't been hurt when she slipped, but these experiences have still been very traumatic to her, so much so that she has learned to fear the water. Now, when she walks in our kitchen she looks on the floor for spots of water, and if she sees one you can see the fear in her eyes - she doesn't want to fall. In fact, there are times she will not move once she sees the water. Instead she asks us for help - whether that be by crying, raising her arms up for us to carry her, grabbing our hands to hold when she walks, or even saying "help, help."

So, what is so interesting about the fact that she has learned to fear the water on the floor? For me, it has been interesting to see how many things she put together in the whole situation. First, she has figured out what caused the problem in the first place (the water). Secondly, she figured out that she needs to avoid it. Finally, although she hasn't quite figured out that she can walk around it, she has figured out that she can ask us for help - and that part absolutely melts my heart.

I love her so much, and I cannot wait to see what she will learn next!

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Heart Faces: Smirks

One of my favorite "smirks" from my daughter. I actually caught this look when I was trying to capture a photo for the "Over My Head" challenge (a photo that I never got, by the way!).


Be sure to check out all the smirks this week!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tot School

In my effort to find more things (aka "purposeful activities") to do with Ella (my "tot"), I came across something called Tot School (via the blog I mentioned before). There are tons of great ideas on this site, plus a weekly linky where other moms can share what they have been doing with their tots each week. I'm really excited to explore the activities that other moms are doing with their tots. I know it will be a great way to learn more about activities that I can do with Ella, and perhaps even spur my own creativity!

There are a couple key ideas behind tot school. First, the activities should be fun for your toddler. Secondly, allow things to go with the flow - things may not go exactly as planned (really, consider the fact you are working with a toddler!), but that doesn't mean it isn't time well-spent.

Tot school isn't school at all in the traditional sense, but rather it is all about having a purposeful playtime everyday with your toddler - using the playtime to expose your child to different learning opportunities. So, what exactly is purposeful playtime? At first thought you might think it requires specific materials or curriculum to complete - but it doesn't. The idea behind the purposeful playtime to think about how toys or other things you already have around the house can be used to expose your toddler to learning opportunities.

For example, consider this bucket of animals we have for Ella. Purposeful play with the animals could include the following activities:
  • Identifying the animals.
  • Identifying the noises the animals make.
  • Identifying the colors of the animals.
  • Identifying the body parts of the animals.
  • Counting the animals.
  • Practicing standing the animals up on their feet.
  • Lining the animals up.
  • Sorting the animals (by type (e.g., cows) or size or color, etc.).
  • Putting the animals back into the bucket, and dumping them back out (I think Ella's favorite thing to do with the animals!).

It isn't about following a strict "lesson" with the animals, but rather, as Ella plays and interacts with the toys, taking the opportunity to do things like asking her to identify the animal or counting aloud as she drops the animals back into the bucket.

Although I'm not sure when I'll officially start writing the posts (pending baby brother's arrival), I do plan to participate in the weekly linky at the 1+1+1=1 blog, and I look forward to checking out what other moms are doing with their toddlers!

Tot School

Wordless Wednesday: First Zoo Trip


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Proverbs 31:25

Far Above Rubies

(To read previous posts in this series first, click here!)

Proverbs 31:25: "Strength and honor are her clothing, She shall rejoice in the time to come."

This verse is a beautiful description of the worthy woman of Proverbs 31.  She is clothed, or covered, with strength and honor. What an amazing compliment to the life that she is leading!

Throughout this entire passage of scripture (Proverbs 31:10-31), the worthy woman's actions show her strength and honor. She is trustworthy (verse 11); she chooses good over evil (verse 12); she completes her work willingly (verse 13); she provides for her family and others (verse 15); she is wise with her finances (verse 16); she is prepared (verse 18); she is hardworking (verse 19); she is generous and charitable (verse 20); she clothes those of her household well (verse 21); she is wise with her speech (verse 26); and she fears the Lord (verse 30).

I'll admit that I was struggling with the second part of this verse. When will the worthy woman rejoice? In this lifetime or eternally or both? While I think she certainly will rejoice in this lifetime as well as eternally, after further study of the word that is translated "rejoice" in this passage, I found that it means "laugh." In fact, other versions, such as the American Standard Version and English Standard Version actually translate the word as "laughs." When I read this part of the verse as "and she laughs at the time to come," my thoughts go to the preparation of the worthy woman. She doesn't have to worry about the time ahead because she has properly prepared the things in her life. Oh, how I wish that I could always laugh at the time to come! I still have so much growing to do in my life!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Activities for Ella

For a few months now I've been wanting to start doing some different teaching activities with Ella. I've been looking for recommendations for websites or blogs that have activities for kids her age (she is almost 20 months old), and several friends recommended the blog Confessions of a Homeschooler. I haven't made it through all the material on the blog yet (there are tons of resources to look through!), but I've already taken advantage of some of her materials for Ella. Although most of her materials are for kids older than Ella, there are definitely some things on her blog that Ella can use now, and I've been very pleased with how much Ella already enjoys doing these different learning activities.

The first activity I made for Ella from her site is called the Shape Silhouette Match-Up. I printed the materials, laminated them, and created a folder game for Ella using velcro to match up the pieces.  I wasn't sure how well Ella would do with this activity (although I was optimistic she'd be able to at least work on it a bit), but she has done really well, and can get most of the shapes most of the time! I'm really surprised at how long she will sit and work on the activity.

The second activity I made for Ella is called Color Puzzles. I printed out the sheets, cut out the animals or shapes, laminated them, and then put magnets on the back of the pieces. You could use these puzzles without magnets, but I liked the idea of Ella being able to use them on the refrigerator or the back of a cookie sheet. I think these puzzles are a little bit harder for her than the shape matching, but if I ask her to find the apple pieces, for example, she can usually find both pieces even if she hasn't quite figured out the puzzle-putting-together part of the activity.

I'm excited to look for more activities to make for Ella to work on - it really is a joy watching her learn and work on these things!

Do you have any favorite websites or blogs for more toddler activities?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Checking Things Off the List

Just about a month ago, I wrote about the panic I felt creeping in around me as my due date was approaching. There were so many things that I felt like I needed to accomplish, and I felt like there was no time to do them. Now, a month later, I've gotten most of those things checked off my list, and it sure does feel good!

Although Ella and Troy's room isn't completely ready, it is very close to being finished. In fact, thanks for my dad and husband, Troy's crib was assembled today.

Last weekend I finally washed and cleaned Ella's old car seat that we will be using for Troy. I reassembled all the pieces of the car seat today so the car seat is ready to go. I've also got a few clothes washed for him.

I've pretty much got my hospital bag packed, but I'm still working to get Ella's bag together.

The house isn't perfect, but the house is in decent shape. It has certainly been a blessing to have family around to help out around the house, as well as with Ella. I just don't have much energy these days, and I'm so thankful for our wonderful families.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reeses to the Rescue

Ella was SO sad when I didn't grab her immediately out of her crib.
Then she sees Reeses, and she isn't quite so sad.
It is funny how suddenly life is just fine when Reeses is there to help out. (And, yes, Ella stuck her foot through the crib and said "toes, toes!")
I'm glad that Reeses can prevent meltdowns!

Wordless Wednesday: Getting Taller

Beginning of July 2010:
End of August 2010:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shutter Love Tuesdays: Bloopers

I love this photo of my husband and daughter. My husband was trying to help out when I was taking pictures by picking Ella up . . .and she did NOT want to be picked up for pictures (in case you can't tell!).

Be sure to check out all the bloopers at the Trendy Treehouse this week!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

One of Those Days . . . .Little Things

Do you ever have one of those days where it feels like things just aren't going your way? And while nothing in particular that happens during that day is all that bad, when all those different little things don't go your way it makes it feel like it was a bad day?

I kinda feel like today was one of those days. For instance, right now, I'm making homemade ice cream (something I love to do, even though I can only have a tiny bit on my gestational diabetes diet), and I go to check on its progress, only to find out that I have forgotten to put the mixing blade in the machine. Such a little thing, but it feels big when it shouldn't.

Aw, but sometimes it is also the little things that can really make you smile. For instance, I got a beautiful picture of Ella's eyes today. These days I don't feel like I'm able to take many good pictures of her because I physically can't chase after her because I'm too pregnant (and somehow, I think she knows that I can't really follow her too well!), so I am really pleased to get a photo like the one below.


I need to keep the "little things" in life in perspective, remembering the ones that make me smile and forgetting the ones that could bring me down.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Temptation and Pushing Limits

I thought the word "no" was a big part of my everyday vocabulary with Ella when she wasn't even a year old yet,  but the number of times I have to say "no" these days doesn't even compare to that time. Ella is still constantly exploring and learning. But now, she's doing more than just exploring and learning-she's testing us. She is trying to push the limits. She's seeing how far we'll let her go. Take, for instance, just a few days ago when we left some boxes of cokes out within her reach (ok, technically not "Cokes" but in our world sodas are cokes).

First, she is carefully inspecting them from a distance.

She gets closer, and I tell her not to touch them.

She runs off for a bit.

But then the temptation is too much. I can even tell she knows she isn't supposed to be touching the boxes (that is why she is only using one finger . . .testing me to see if perhaps using just one finger would be OK).

I have to make sure that I don't let her get the best of me, and by that I mean, I need to be consistent, and not let her wear me down. If I tell her "no" there is a reason I've told her "no" (or at least there should be) and she needs to respect that I told her "no." Sure, touching the coke cans is little in the scheme of things, but she needs to understand that "no" means "no." After all, what if I'm telling her "no" because she is about to do something that will hurt her whether that be physically, emotionally, or spiritually? I firmly believe it is important for us to train her from the beginning, and my consistency with her is an important part of that training.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Building Her First Fort

I bought a bean bag with the purpose of using it for newborn pictures, thinking that an added bonus would be that Ella would enjoy sitting on it as well. Turns out she also enjoys using the bean bag, plus the box it came in, plus some couch pillows to build her first "fort." She drug the box, bean bag, and pillows all around - it was so cute!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy 19 Months Ella!

Happy 19 Months Ella!

You are growing up so fast! I'm honestly having a hard time believing that you are 19 months old (and that baby brother is due in less than a month, but that's a different story!).  I am absolutely floored by how much you are learning every day. I'm amazed at the new ways you make me smile every day. I'm also amazed at the ways you can test my patience, but I know that testing my patience is helping me to grow as a parent, and I hope that I have the patience I need to handle the different situations you throw my way - especially when I consider that these situations are only going to get more complicated as you grow up. I love the challenge you bring to my life!

You really are very sweet, and you melt my heart often. We always give you a goodnight kiss (and a kiss when we lay you down for a nap), and if we don't give it to you quick enough, you'll say "kiss, kiss." It is so absolutely precious!

I've also been amazed at how you have learned to "pretend" this month. You'll use a spoon and bowl to "mix" or you'll feed your monkey or you'll put lipstick on me, daddy, Ali, or Reeses (thankfully, we have some patient dogs!).

We've had a Mr. Potato Head toy sitting around our house for a while, waiting for you to be old enough to have (although I think you could have used him a while ago, I just really thought about it!). You absolutely love playing with him - especially his glasses! You also have a book called "I Love You Stinky Face" and when we get to the part with the skunk, you pinch your noise. Too cute!

New words or words with a special meaning this month . . .

  • "Maymen" aka "Amen": We've been really working on learning to be quiet when we pray and putting our hands together to be still. You figured out that when the phrase "In Jesus Name" is said that "Amen" follows, and you often shout out "maymen!" Sometimes, if the prayer is long, or perhaps there is a pause, you'll even voice your "maymen" early which we think is quite funny.
  • "Stuck": After getting in your old Bumbo chair at our friends' house and getting "stuck" you learned the meaning of this word. It has become a favorite over the past few days - you'll say that you are stuck if you get your rocking chair pushed up against something or if you are buckled in your carseat  and want out of your high chair.
  • "Rock": You may have been saying this at the end of last month - I'm not 100% sure - but you love to get in your rocking chair and say "rock, rock." You'll also sit in my lap (or even get in my chair on your own) and say "rock, rock." You also enjoy getting on your rocking horse and saying "rock, rock." You even put your monkey in your rocking chair and said to him "rock, rock."
  • "Ice, Ice, Baby": Ok, technically you've been able to say "ice" and "baby" for a while, but your dad has taught you to say "Ice, Ice, Baby!" when you see someone with ice or you want some. It is pretty funny!
  • "Bubbles": You love the bubbles in your bath, but you also love the bubbles game on our phones! You'll come over and ask to play by saying "bubbles, bubbles!"
  • "Train": We live in a town full of trains, and there is a track right by my favorite store, Target (we joke it is Ella's second or third home), and you love to see the train go by there.
Signs you do:thank you, please, milk, bath, thirsty, hungry (eat), more, finished (I honestly haven't tried to teach you anymore lately - I really should!)

Words you say:I can't even attempt to name all the words you say!

Animal noises you can make:owl, cow, sheep, puppy/dog, horse, bee, cat, frog

Body parts you identify:head, hair, nose, ears, eyes (and now you can "close" your eyes by squinting them together), tongue, feet, toes, cheeks, belly, belly button, hands, teeth, knees, fingers

Favorite foods:peaches, banana, guacamole, tortilla, eggs, broccoli, noodles with meat and red sauce, chicken nuggets