Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Advent Crafts

Tis the season of decorations, family activities, gifts and so much more.

Around here we are beginning to come into our own traditions with our girls. Now that Nyla is two she's becoming more interested in Christmas trees, lights and the season itself. We've begun talking about baby Jesus and what He means to this season. I'm so excited to enter into this stage with her. I love crafting and haven't had much time for it but now she's really into it. She wakes up some days and says, "I need to do something." As in, she needs to do a craft. It's very funny that she loves diving into new things like that. I'm having the best time looking for fun things to engage her mind and motor skills. She's getting good with glitter glue, I'll tell you that!

Since Nyla is only two this Christmas and Naomi is only one we can still keep things minimal, but special, around here. I've been chatting with a friend I went to high school with about Advent crafts. She has a 4-year old boy (and another boy who's under 1) whom she's been doing fun, crafty things with for the last couple of years. A couple weeks ago she posted on Facebook that she was getting her list together for Advent activities for her boys and I commented that I'd love to see her list. I was looking for some ideas and a little structure on the holiday season. I want to do more with Nyla but I like to have some sort of guide to help lead me. Her list was exactly what I needed to help get me started! Thanks Kim!

As soon as I got her email I printed off what she had and began taking away and adding what I wanted, to personalize it for Nyla's needs. And wouldn't you know she had a Pinterest board specifically for the Advent crafts she wanted to do?! I loved I was able to pop over and see what she had and see if some of them would work for us. And some of them did.

My next order of business was to complete my list and get everything typed up for our Advent crafts. I started with Dec 1st and ended with Dec 25th. Not everyday includes a craft. Some days include going to look at Christmas lights in our jammies, baking for volunteers and neighbors, cleaning out toys to prepare for new ones, etc. Once it gets closer to Christmas and we have places to go and family to spend time with, that becomes the "to-do" of the day. I tried to make everything fit into our two year olds needs but I know that some days won't be a hit and that's okay. I'm not looking for perfection, I'm looking for extra opportunities to talk about Jesus and what this season means to us as Christians.

Here is a link to my plans for Advent crafts. If you scroll down the page a little you can follow me on Pinterest and see my "Christmas Crafts" board to see what we'll be doing this year and maybe just give you some ideas. I hope you find inspiration for making this Christmas season special for your little one(s).

Do you do anything special events or activities with your little one(s) during the Christmas season?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

29 Thanksgiving Thoughts

Every 5 or 6 years, my birthday happens to fall on Thanksgiving Day, and today this was the case. This will be my last year in the 20's. So in honor of that, and to be totally cliché, here are 29 reasons I am thankful this year... (in no particular order)

1. My awesome wife - She wears many hats and wears them well. We will celebrate 5 years of marriage next year, and I am thankful for her.
2. Tubes - Both girls had tubes put in their ears this year, and in both cases they made immediate impacts. Both girls became much happier and more like themselves.
3. My job - The company I work for was acquired this spring. With that came the usual questions about job security. I am thankful that I still have a job and enjoy what I do.
4. Naomi's gap-toothed, goofy grin - Seriously, that girl's smiles could make even the worst day better. When she crinkles that nose and shows all of her teeth, there's nothing better.
5. Nyla's smile - Our serious toddler is not one who freely gives out smiles to everyone like Naomi does, so when I get her to smile, it is great.
6. Both girls' laughs - Is there anything better than baby laughs?
7. My wife's cooking - I am the envy of my co-workers whenever I heat up a delicious plate of leftovers in the break room. Ginny can cook, ya'll!
8. Board games - I know I am a nerd, but I have many, many fond memories of playing board games with my family. Plus, Ginny likes to play them with me, something many husbands don't have.
9. My mom - Gigi as she's affectionately known as now, is a terrific mother and now grandmother. Nyla and Naomi now fuss over who's going to be held first. I am thankful she lives nearby and can give us a break every now and then!
10. A tall glass of water - I am a water-aholic. Our water is the best in the world, and I know others aren't as fortunate.
11. Our pediatrician - We've seen her way more than I would have liked, but she is great with the girls and takes time to talk with us about whatever we're there for.
12. Chocolate milk - I think coffee is terrible. Chocolate milk, on the other hand, is the best. Only now I'm having to share it with a couple of little people. (I'm not sure how I feel about that.)
13. The smell and sound of rain - One of my favorite smells is when it has just started or is about to start raining. The sound of rain is one of my favorite sounds. Refreshing and relaxing.
14. Nyla's vocabulary - We are at the point now where Nyla can carry on a conversation with us. Some of the things that come out of her mouth are hilarious.
15. Books - If Ginny or I say, "Bring a book to read," both girls will bring their own books. Right now, Nyla is into "Corderee" (Corduroy), while Naomi enjoys, "It's Time for Bed" and "Pat the Bunny."
16. Proverbs 11:2 - "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." My favorite verse in the Bible.
17. My dad - January 2013 will mark 14 years since his passing, but I am forever thankful for the memories and lessons I have. If I had one wish that could be granted, it would be for him to hold my girls one time. (Sorry, I know you need a tissue now.)
18. Fresh sheets - The smell and feel of fresh, clean sheets on the bed makes me happy. It's the little things we should remember to be thankful for.
19. Family - As Ginny can attest to, my family is unique, but we are close-knit and (generally) have a good time whenever we get together.
20. No cable - Some will gasp, but we don't have cable TV. We had it, got rid of it, and haven't missed it. There's not a whole lot worth watching right now anyway.
21. Nyla hugs and kisses - She gives the sweetest hugs and kisses. I know every day when I get home from work that there's a hug waiting for me!
22. Good sleepers - Our girls can get to sleep on their own and usually sleep great all night. We taught them to go to sleep on their own and self-soothe with lovies (blankies) and fingers (Nyla - index finger; Naomi - thumb).
23. America - The greatest country in the world.
24. The Memphis Zoo - Our zoo is one of the best in the world. Our girls love going to see all the animals. Thanks to Cookie (Ginny's mom) for getting us a membership package for Christmas every year!
25. Amazing Grace - Both the song and grace itself. How sweet the sound indeed.
26. Nyla's singing - Hearing her sing "Jesus Loves Me" makes me smile every time.
27. Naomi's kisses - Most of the time she will shake her head when I ask for one, but she gives me one, they are the best open-mouthed, drooly kisses ever.
28. Being surrounded by 3 beautiful girls for the rest of my life. What could be better?
29. I'm thankful I decided to write this post when I turned 29 and not 39!

I hope everything had a great Thanksgiving and enjoys the rest of the holiday weekend!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Surviving the Stomach Sickness Successfully

(Alliteration is fun, ain't it?)

In any event, we have had an adventurous time the last week and a half in our house. It all began last Wednesday night, when we heard our dear Nyla whimpering at about 8:30pm, after having been asleep since 7:00. When Ginny walked in, the smell was undeniable - she had gotten sick. Change of clothes. Change of sheets. Some lovin'. Back in bed. 15 minutes later, yep, again. Another 20 minutes later, well, you get the idea. Thankfully, three times was it for her, and we thought that maybe she had just eaten too much for dinner that night...

(Cut to scene Saturday night.) At 11:30, I hear our dear, sweet Naomi crying in her crib. Being the first one to hear her, I walked in her, and, much like Ginny Wednesday night, was greeted by the smell. That began a night where she got sick about every 30 minutes. The only way she could comfortably sleep and not gag herself was to lay on one of us in her rocker. Ginny handled the first shift for an hour and a half. I handled the 2:30am to 5:00am shift. Fortunately, she seemed to be doing as well as she could, only throwing up on me twice.

(Cut to scene Monday night.) My stomach had not felt that great all day Monday, but I chalked it up to a lack of sleep over the weekend and golf on Sunday afternoon (on 2 hours of sleep... it was my first full 18 holes of the year... I couldn't pass up the chance). That evening, while Ginny and Nyla lovingly ran to get me some Sprite, yep, you guessed it. Our daughters passed their fun onto me. Thankfully, by Tuesday afternoon, I was feeling better. Even more thankfully, Ginny never got it.

I don't have some 3- or 5-step list to surviving, but merely to share this thought - When Naomi was laying on me Saturday night/Sunday morning, the only thing she wanted was comfort and snuggles. What mattered more to her than getting sick was getting snuggled. She buried her head into my chest and fell right asleep. As for me, I didn't really care if I got thrown up on (which I did). I just wanted my girl to be comfortable. We parents will go to great lengths to take care of kids, won't we?


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stationery card

Let Peace Sing Holiday Card
holiday party invitations and thank you cards by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Menu Plan-November 12

November 12-18

Hi y'all! I haven't shared my menu in a few weeks so I figured I would. I've still been planning I just haven't told you about it. :) We've been sticking to the plan of plan one week and eat it for two weeks in a row. But I think I'm tired of that. Each week goes by so quick and I feel like we're eating the same things all the time. So I think I'll stick to the idea of plan once and eat twice here and there but plan different things in between so I don't get burned out on spaghetti and jambalaya because I definitely am!

Monday- smothered "aussie" chicken, brown rice, vegetable

Tuesday- lasagna and homemade breadsticks

Wednesday- Thanksgiving at church (I'm bringing a corn casserole {new} and a chocolate chip pie)

Thursday- penne alla vodka with italian sausage

Friday- bbq chicken pizza

Saturday- Callie's chicken soft taco's {new}

Sunday- pepperoni pizza

Have y'all tried anything new I need to check out? I'm looking for some new recipes!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sensory Box: Water

In the past couple of weeks I've found one of my new favorite sites, No Time For Flash Cards. It's packed full of craft ideas for babies, toddlers and older kids, sensory boxes, book recommendations and much more. I doubt I've even scratched the surface of this incredible site! Since I found it we've been crafting everyday. 

Last week Naomi and I went to Hobby Lobby and Target and picked up a bunch of craft supplies. I now have a giant box of craft supplies that is getting opened 2 to 3 times a day. Nyla climbs up in her chair at 6:30 in the morning and says, "Need to do something." Haha! She'll settle for markers or paint until I can get my craft supplies together for a specific project I have planned. She's my little craft girl and I love it!

I haven't been brave enough to give Naomi more than a crayon. She tends to eat those, still, and I haven't wanted to do much more. There are lots of crafty things for babies her age to do (she just turned 1 last week) but I'm nervous about paint and such. I guess I need to get over that. :)

Sensory boxes are something I see a lot of online these days. Because we have limited funds I'm trying to be super creative in the way we play and learn. These girls LOVE water so I thought our first sensory box could be water with bubbles, along with cups to pour and squirt toys. It's similar to their bath but I figured I'd see how they do with the water but not sitting in it.

My supplies for this sensory box are a storage bin filled with a couple inches of cold water, some shampoo for bubbles, a cup, little cups and squirt toys. Oh and beach towels to cover the floor. 

I laid the beach towels down, filled up the bin, mixed in some bubbles and threw in the toys. We rolled up sleeves and got to playing. I found their differences in how they played to be very funny and interesting. They're 15 months apart and while that won't be much later in life it's HUGE right now.

Naomi splashed and stuck in hands and arms in frequently. She also made a mess with her cups.
 Nyla is obsessed with bottles and tops so she went right for the empty shampoo bottle to open it, fill it, close it and squirt it.

You can see here that I've taken Nyla's clothes off because she was getting soaked. It didn't take long for them to both start splashing, a lot. I tried to keep that to a minimum since this isn't the bathtub.

Nyla started rubbing the bubbles all over her hands and arms, as you can somewhat see in this picture.

Naomi's little arms were getting drenched so now she's without a shirt. She's my splashy girl!

Okay, so I went to grab another towel, literally 15 steps away and when I got back they were both in the tub. Naomi still had her pants and diaper on and Nyla was in her panties. As you can see in this picture Naomi is without pants as I took them off immediately!

Since they were soaked from all the fun we just headed to the bath to rinse all the soap off of them. They're so silly!

Overall, I think they'll end up enjoying sensory boxes we do. While this one didn't last as long as I would've liked, they were too busy splashing and climbing in, they thought it was just like the bath so I'm not surprised. If I do water next time I may put in different toys from their bath toys to show them this is play and not bath time.

Do you have any sensory box ideas?

Seriously, check out No Time For Flash Cards. It's an awesome site with loads of craft ideas. I'm in craft heaven! And since I have a hard time coming up with crafty things, this is a great site for guidance.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Take it 6 weeks at a time

I don't know about you but I have a hard time committing to working out, even though I know I need to. I start out pumped up and ready to go. But the weeks drag on and then I get out of the habit. I need to take care of myself and my family and working out helps me feel better and gives me a lot of energy during the day.

Since July I've made more of a commitment to working out. I started running (read my journey here) with my sister and completed my first 5k last Saturday. I ran/walked it in 43 minutes. I was shooting for under 40 minutes but I walked too much, but that's okay. It was really warm for a 5k and for November. I finished the 5k and that was my biggest goal. I did it!

Since running has ended, I've decided to take it 6 weeks at a time. Six weeks of consistently working out is what I can give full out until I become burnt out from working out. My plan is doing 6 weeks on and 1-2 weeks off, but no more than 2 weeks off. I don't want to get out of the good habits I've started!

This next 6 weeks I've committed to doing a cardio/weights routine 3 times a week. Three times a week isn't much but it's what I can do right now. I have some dvd's, called Core Secrets, that are weights with cardio worked into them. I keep moving, get stronger and strengthen my core all in 30-45 minutes. I love them. I can keep up with the tempo and I'm sore the next day, meaning I'm getting something out of it.

This is my first week of my 6 week program and I've completed 2 days of Core Secrets. I'm sore too, which I like! I'll keep you posted on my progress.

How do your workouts work for you?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Happy Birthday, Naomi!

Sweet Naomi, you are 1 year old today. Where has the year gone?!?!

I was floored at how I loved you instantly. Unfortunately, it was hours before I got to hold you! But it was as if I'd known you forever when I finally did get to hold you. It was such a natural feeling. Since you were baby number two, I was much more confident in my mothering skills. Your wild and busy sister prepared me for that! :) And since you're a much more sensitive child I was glad you were baby number two. Being more relaxed help me cope with your sensitivities. 

With all 11 pounds 4 ounces of you, there was a lot to love! And I couldn't get enough of your chubby cheeks and big round belly; I still can't. You are so beautiful and we love our "Chunkster."

I'm thankful God entrusted us to be your parents. Wow, that floors me just typing that out! I still can't wrap my brain around God's unconditional love for us. Until your sister and you came along I didn't get it at all, at least now I understand a very small piece of it. I don't think you'll ever understand how I love you or how much I love you, until you have children of your own. I don't think anyone gets it until then. 

I'm so thankful I get to be your Mama. Through the good days and the rough days I am always here for you and for Nyla. Life would look so different without you in it. You are a constant joy in our lives. You smile ALL the time, giggle at everything Nyla does and give big, wet kisses. I didn't think my heart had room for another baby but I was so wrong. There's always room!

Happy Birthday to you, sweet Naomi. We love you so much!!!

Naomi around 5 hours old. Her sugar was low and my recovery wasn't going great
so she went to the nursery while I went to recovery for what lasted forever!

Taken just a couple of weeks ago. This about sums her up: BIG smile,
lots of teeth and wild hair. She is busy like her big sister!