Friday, October 8, 2010

Keeping the Blog Alive

So I read something recently that said to keep your blog alive you should post at least once every two weeks.

Well.

Ahem.

Anyway.

What's going on around here? Well, we spent the second week of September at the beach with my aunt and uncle. We stayed on the island of Ocracoke, which among other things, is fun to say.


Four days after we got back from the beach, my mom came out to help us celebrate Ethan's 3rd birthday. My first born is THREE!



While she was here we went to the Virginia State Fair and had a grand time. My boy, who doesn't like going down the "big slide" on the playground loved going on all the kiddie rides, even the roller coaster.





So now we are back from the beach and Grandma has gone home so we are settling back into regular life. It's never boring around here, though. My main activity over the next few weeks is to get into the habit of doing a teeny bit of pre-school using Sherry Early's book Picture Book Pre-School. It seems just about the right speed for us since Ethan is just three and already loves books and stories. I am getting excited because he is starting to sit and listen to longer stories that don't have a lot of pictures (like Winnie-the-Pooh stories), so I'm hoping we can start a family read aloud of The Chronicles of Narnia soon and he might actually enjoy it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One Minute with Matthew

As I watched this video play back before I posted it, I was struck by how different Matthew is from his older brother. At this age, Ethan was stacking blocks, but if they fell down or didn't stack how he wanted them he would get extremely frustrated to the point of tears. Matthew is happy just to stack and re-stack until he achieves his goal. Funnily enough, the goal is the same between the two boys -- to knock down whatever they build with great gusto!


video

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ladybugs

Sit back and relax while Ethan reads you Five Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth


video

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Puzzled...Or Not?

Ethan, Matthew and I ventured to the library today to see if we could find our favorite truck book. It's a relatively tiny library located in a strip mall down the street from our house. A great location for us, though it doesn't have a huge selection or big kid's corner, but big enough (especially with our county's great inter-library transfer system). While we were there today, a five- or six-year-old girl wandered back to the kid's section with her grandma in tow. The girl sat down at one of the tables and started flipping through books while her grandma looked around through the shelves and in the corners. I couldn't tell what she was looking for because she wasn't reading any of the book titles or pulling any off of the shelves, but she appeared to be really dismayed. She finally stopped looking around and we had a conversation:

Grandma: Excuse me, do you know if they have any puzzles here?

Me: No, I don't think so.

Grandma: What about games or puppets?

Me: No, I don't think so. They do have those stuffed animals up there for the kids to cuddle with while they read.

Grandma: So, nothing else?

Me: No, I think it's pretty much just the books mainly.

I wasn't being sarcastic or snarky with that last bit, I was just sort of put off kilter by her questions given our location. In the meantime, her grandaughter was contentedly reading to herself at one of the tables, but upon finding out that this library location didn't have anything for kids except the books, the lady said, "C'mon, Julie lets go. This library isn't as good as the other one, is it?"

...

I weep for the future.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Still Sewing

Yay for finished projects! Both babies are napping so I thought I'd do a quick write up about this quilt.


The front is obviously very basic patchwork. These are simple 8.5" squares made from some Kona Cotton solids (if you sew and quilt a lot a Kona color card is an amazing tool for picking out just the right color for your project) and a fat quarter bundle of Chirp! fabric by Katie Hennigar. I always take pictures of the layout of my quilts before I start to sew. Somehow it is just easier to see what would look better where when I see it on the computer screen instead of on the floor.




The back was a little more complicated. There was a really cute panel that came with the fat quarter bundle, but it was on a green background that seemed almost neon. It definitely didn't go with my quilt so I couldn't use it as is. After getting some input from a friend on what to do, I cut out the scenes from the panel, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance around each of them. Then I used some 2.5" strips of Kona Snow (white, but not bright white) to achieve the layout I wanted. At that point I still had to make the back of the quilt a tad bigger:


I decided to go with a thin brown border (the same brown from the patchwork on the front) and then a wider yellow border to finish things off. The small detail on the yellow border was the happy result of coming up just shy of enough yellow fabric to finish the whole thing off. One of my favorite quilters puts a similar detail into each of her bindings as a tag, and so I shamelessly stole her idea, mostly out of necessity.


Speaking of binding, normally I love to hand bind my quilts. I've found that it's a really soothing thing for me to sit and sew by hand, plus it helps keep me occupied while watching a movie on the couch (because I can't just sit and watch a movie). But being the procrastinator that I am I just did not have time to hand bind this, so I took a leap and did machine binding using this handy tutorial. I used invisible thread and I loved the finished look. Here's a picture of the folded quilt where you can see the binding on both the front and the back:


The front looks so professional (I'm not bragging about my skills here, it was really simple and a result of the tutorial!) and the back has some spots where the stitching wanders a bit, but it's invisible thread so it hardly shows up as a flaw. Plus it was so fast! I bound this quilt in probably a quarter of the time or less than it would take to do the same work by hand.

The quilting is an all-over meander that is really fun to do now that I have a sewing machine that can handle free-motion quilting (and that is a shout-out for my ultra-generous hubby who encourages me in my hobby by providing all the fun tools of the trade).

This was a really fun project, and if you're in SLO and in the know I can tell you that this quilt is for a Baby Beaver. :)



*Please excuse the quality of the photos in this post, I usually sew at night when the kids are sleeping, so the light is not really great!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

32 Questions

Just to show you a contrast from the last post, we aren't always silly and indoctrination is happening in full force over here, this is Ethan reciting his catechism:


video


And if you don't speak Ethan's dialect of toddler, you can follow along with his answers here.

ETA: This is actually 33 questions. I forgot to count the question that Ethan adds in on his own "Who is God's son?"

Monday, June 7, 2010

Now I'm Not So Curious

Sometimes I'm really curious about what goes on in the minds of my kids. Then I have a conversation like this with my toddler:

Ethan: Don't pee-pee in my underpants.

Me: That's right, don't pee-pee in your underpants, that's a no-no.

Ethan: Eat pee-pees? (with a big grin on his face)

Me: No, we don't eat pee-pee, that's gross.

Ethan: Mama eat poop? (followed by copious amounts of giggling)

Me: No, Mama does not eat poop.

Ethan: Only eat beef.

Me: Yes, sometimes we eat beef. (???)

Ethan: Eat beef.

Me: ...

So there you have it: eat beef.


Friday, May 28, 2010

My Facebook Status This Weekend

10 years ago on Memorial Day Weekend, a girlfriend of mine convinced me (against my better judgement) to leave the confines of my barracks room in sleepy San Angelo, TX for a couple days of fun in Dallas with two USMC friends of hers. Three years and a couple months later, I married one of those Devil Dogs and we are currently living happily ever after. :)
This is our first photo together, taken that same weekend. A man with a Polaroid camera canvassing the bar trying to make a few bucks snapped it between rounds of pool. No, I don't believe I was old enough to be in a bar. Yes, my skirt is too short. God's grace (in abundance) is made clear to me looking at this 10 year old picture.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Family Worship

When Steve and I started attending a reformed church soon after we got married I remember thinking there was something different about the service that I couldn't put my finger on. Of course it was more liturgical than what I had grown up with, but that wasn't it. The pastor wore a formal robe, but that wasn't it either. I finally figured it out when we sat next to a family with three small children one Sunday and all of their children were sitting in the row with them! The simple difference was the noise of people having their children sit in church with them for the entire service. It wasn't loud and obvious (most of the time), but there was definitely more general noise.

Now that we have two small children of our own I can fully appreciate the benefits and the hard work of having our children in "big church" with us. I should disclaim this by saying that I'm not an ogre about this concept. Matthew, at one year old, currently goes to the nursery during worship for many practical reasons. Ethan, however, is 2.5 and sits through the whole service. Matthew will get there, and it will probably be before his second birthday, Lord willing. But why do we bother? Why should the church encourage us to bother bringing these little ones into worship with us?

Think of your dinner table. This is where your children learn basic manners. They learn how to converse and interact with others. They learn not to put their feet in their dinner plates (oh, yes). More than that, they are fed. They are sustained and grown with people who love them, with people who model the very behavior they are supposed to strive for. I know very few parents who would send their toddler to a room full of other two-year olds, tell them to play with their food, and then expect them to love sitting at the dinner table when they turn 12. It doesn't happen. Further, I know very few parents who send their children to eat in a separate room away from the main meal because they are messy or loud or an inconvenience to everyone else.

And I really believe worship is the same way. A friend of mine once told me that when you keep your children in church from a young age they don't learn to hate the service. They learn to get involved in it. I can tell you that when my son hears the opening notes of "Come Thou Fount" or when the offering plate is passed, or when the pastor asks us to stand and sing the Doxology he is excited, he is joyful! When we say "amen" he says "amen!" when we say "Praise the Lord!" he shouts "Praise the Lord!" It is a wonderful thing, and exciting to watch. Getting him to sit through the sermon is, of course, more of a challenge. And like every other day of his life involves constant, consistent discipline from his dad and I. I'll admit there are Sundays that I don't hear much of the sermon and we spend a lot of time in the ladies room. But I believe that God is honored in what we are doing with our children during worship and He doles out the appropriate levels of grace as we need it.

Ethan does go to Sunday School prior to the service and he has a wonderful time there. But Sunday School is not the meat of Sunday. It is not where the meal is served. When he was a young baby and I was visiting my parents while Steve was on deployment, I attended their church for a few Sundays. They have special notes in the bulletin about not bringing children under a certain age into the service, and ushers are there to escort you out if your child makes a peep. I didn't place much importance on it at the time, but thinking back it makes me sad. It makes me wonder if children ever ask themselves why they are not welcome during the "real" worship of their Most High. The fact of the matter is that we are all messy, loud, obnoxious sinners. We all put our feet in our dinner plate sometimes. And God has allowed us all, through his Son to come and worship. May we all have the joy of the two year old that says "Praise the Lord!" at the top of his lungs when we come.



**There's a great post on the practicalities of having your children in church with you here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Belated Greetings

One!


A little late, but Happy Birthday to my sweet boy on March 24th, and Happy Easter to all of you!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Household Management Nirvana

I want to be totally honest with you all (all three of you who are still reading my blog, that is):

I have a lot of trouble keeping house. The problem with that statement is that keeping house is #2 on the list of my full time jobs (#1 being child minding). So when I'm falling down on the job and it is one of my main responsibilities, things around here get a little hairy. Or a lot hairy since we have a long-haired dog, I am long-haired, and another member of this household is just plain hirsute. So the lack of housekeeping was resulting in the kind of tumbleweeds normally seen in the Southwestern United States, among other problems.

I looked at many, many printable chore charts and came away at a loss. I don't need a chart to fill in because I could look at a blank chart all day and just feel overwhelmed at filling in the first blank. It was the same way with actually doing chores. I would get the kids down for a nap, know that there were a lot of tasks waiting for me, couldn't pin point just one that was most urgent, so resorted to tossing in some laundry, picking up some toys and throwing up my hands. Not so productive really. Which chores should be done weekly? Monthly? What jobs should I give to my children? It was all too overwhelming for my little pea-brain. I finally realized I needed a chore chart that was already filled in. Someone needed to tell me what to do. I finally found one over at Motivated Moms.

The nice thing about their chore charts is that the daily tasks are all lined up on the left, and listed on the right there are a few manageable bigger jobs on the right. If you don't manage to check a box one week, the chore comes up again later. Getting even some of those little boxes checked off is, well, motivating. I can manage to keep my house clean and not spend all day cleaning house!

It does cost $8 (or $7 with the discount code giveaways). I would pay the $7 again knowing now how well this system works for me.

I have been using Motivated Moms with Managers of Their Homes for about 3 weeks now and things around here aren't perfect, but they are much better than they used to be. I still fall down on the job a lot. But something that has been key with each of these systems is that when I do fall down I have a place to start back up. I can look at my schedule or my list and gather up the kids and myself and head off again. It's really very encouraging!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Connections Made

Background:

a) Sometimes Steve works the night shift so there is some shushing around here if he is asleep during the day.

b) Ethan has been getting a dime every time he does his jobs around the house (putting away the silverware, Tupperware and pots).

So onto today:

Ethan: :being loud:
Me: Ethan, that is too loud for inside.
Ethan: Shh, Dad's seeping.
Me: No, Dad's not sleeping it is just too loud.
Ethan: Dad's seeping.
Me: No, Dad's at work. Dad's doing his job.
Ethan: Dad gets dimes. Dad's getting dimes.
Me: ...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010

I remember when I was a kid thinking that 2010 was the future. I mean, of course it was the future, but I mean The Future. Like we'd all be wearing silver jumpsuits and eating our meals in pill form and living in space. Fortunately none of those things have yet to be realized by the human race, unless you are on some crazy diet plan.

I don't make New Year's resolutions. I know that I can't keep resolutions, so I don't make them! Real disciplined of me, huh? But I do have some goals for myself and the kids this year, and here they are:

Me:
--more self-discipline. This one covers pretty much everything else in my life. But, specifically:
--get up before the kids. This is so hard for me, I love love love my sleep. But I think I need the time to wake up before they do so I can respond to their needs better in the morning.
--go to bed earlier. I'm a night owl. I love how quiet it is around here when everyone goes to sleep and I tend to binge on my quiet time to the detriment of the next day.
--be able to do three pull-ups. Steve got a pull-up bar for Christmas. I'm using it sporadically.


Ethan:
--prompt, cheerful obedience. We're in the thick of this. It is going to get harder before it gets easier, but he is showing promise.
--saying, "Yes, Mama" or "Yes, Dad" when he is asked to do something. He does say it now. He can say it. Sometimes he just doesn't want to say it.
--potty training. ugh.
--recognizing all of his numbers, letters, and shapes.
--memorizing the following: Psalm 23, the Lord's Prayer, 20 catechism questions, and the Apostles Creed. This probably seems like a lot, but he's already got some of Psalm 23 and a few catechism questions down (it is just a children's catechism, like "Who made you?" that sort of thing). I'm finding that little toddler brains are just ripe for memorization. I had a hard time believing i when I saw my friends posting YouTube videos of their kids reciting stuff at 2 and 3 years old, but here we are and it is amazing what they can absorb. And it is a whole year, after all.

The most important things are the first two on the list. All of the others (with maybe the exception of potty training) I'm okay with him not doing if he's not there yet.

Matthew:
--growing out of babyhood into toddlerhood. :'(
--not thwarting any of my plans with Ethan.
--sleeping through the whole night reliably. He is one finicky sleeper, this one.
--learning where he is and isn't allowed to go.
--learning how to play with his big brother.

I think that's it for us for 2010.

Happy New Year!