When Life Happens

When Life Happens

Sometimes life happens.
Sometimes life happens and its ok to admit that it’s hard.

I normally don’t write posts like the one in the picture. I know parenting is hard, and I know that YOU know that parenting is hard. MOST times social media is not the right outlet to complain. Maybe I should repeat that…

MOST TIMES, SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT THE RIGHT OUTLET TO COMPLAIN

Ok, Back to your regularly scheduled post…

As I said, I do not normally write posts like this, but the exuberant amount of unadulterated chaos happening at my house at that time was so overwhelming it was humorous! Seriously, here is the low down:

2 out of 3 of the kids were screaming
The baby was screaming to be held in between shoving amazing amounts of green beans in his mouth and promptly choking on them. (Or screaming because we wouldn’t let him shove more in) Before dinner he was screaming because he wanted dinner.
My 4 year old was throwing a fit, screaming that she is mad, running around the house (for the millionth time NO RUNNING IN THE HOUSE) and asking for more food (If you know her, this makes complete sense). Before dinner she was asking for food. EVERY.KIND. OF.FOOD.EVERY.BREATH.SHE.HAD.

The oldest is trying to be overly calm because he feels the chaos in the house. With his mini-notebook in hand, he has a million questions (which he asks VERY calmly) “Mommy, how do you spell AGAIN?” Mommy, will you teach me to crochet with a hook?” “Mommy, can I have my K’NEX back?” “Mommy, can I play with this toy that has tiny, microscopic pieces while the baby is right here?”

It always starts with “Mommy” and ends with me giving him this “Are you kidding?” look while holding a screaming baby and telling (yelling over the baby) the 4 year old to STOP RUNNING IN THE HOUSE!

Oh, did I mention that EVERY WINDOW IN THE HOUSE IS OPEN? Oh, yes, there’s that. While cooking dinner the hubby nearly smoked us out of the house. Seriously, we are talking open front door, red eyes, waving the smoke away from the fire alarm type of smoke. We were one step away from having to crawl around the house!

On top of that (oh yes! There’s more!) my husband had to leave for a meeting at the height of the chaos, smoke, screaming and dinner. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! The only thing I could muster was “Please don’t leave me!” He promised me he would be gone for not very long and would bring back some wine. SOLD!

As soon as he left, the chaos in which I had mistakenly thought had climaxed, indeed increased…three-fold (I can neither deny or confirm this relation to the amount of children in the house). About 30-minutes in, the chaos got too much for me to bear and I gave in and called the hubby to return pronto because, no. As I heard it start to ring, I noticed a ringing sound coming from the counter…

No. This is not just happening.
This is when I started writing my Captain’s…I mean Mommy’s… Log.

Mommy’s Log:

Stardate 69593.6
I have just lost communication with the co-pilot. I must now trust that he will return to the mother-ship and not abandon his crew.

Stardate 69593.7
The co-pilot has been gone for a suspiciously long time for what was supposed to be a “short excursion”. I can only assume he is acquiring provisions of wine and cookies.

Stardate 69593.8
The princess of the crew is finally in her quarters. After much convincing, a firm talking to and a lullaby, I think she has officially retired for the evening.

Stardate: 69593.8
I am growing suspicious of the youngest member of the crew. He seems out of sorts. I suspect mutiny! Or he might just need a nap.

Stardate 69593.9
The co-pilot has finally returned! There was much rejoicing until we took inventory of the acquired provisions. Mistakes were make and in this time of crisis, there is no room for error!

Stardate 69593.9
The entire crew has finally retired to their quarters for the night. The oldest of the crew was commended for his assistance and bravery in a time of crisis. I still have my suspicions about the youngest. I must keep a close watch overnight and the days to come.

and on top of that, we are out of wipes.

***These are actual stardates based on a stardate calculator from TrekGuide.com.

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Advent Week 1: Hope

Week 1 Hope

Advent sneaks up on me every single year, but especially this year because Thanksgiving was so late! I stuffed my face with turkey and pie and turn around and BAM! Advent is staring me in the face! Advent is my favorite season of the year. No, not the Christmas season, but ADVENT. Advent is the four Sundays prior to Christmas where we prepare our hearts for the coming birth of Christ.

The United Methodist Church (and other denominations) light candles on an Advent wreath each week prior to Christmas Eve and a white “Christ” candle in the middle on Christmas Eve. I know that not all traditions do an advent wreath, so I explain about the wreath and have some beautiful candle-lit pictures.
Celebrating Advent at Home: The Advent Wreath
The United Methodist Church puts out a Advent Worship at Home for families to light the candles and celebrate each week just as the church does, but I found myself needing to adjust it quite a bit for my family with such young kids. So I thought I would share my adaptation of the church’s home worship.

Advent Week 1: Hope

First Reader: This is the first Sunday in Advent. Today, we light one purple candle. This is the candle of hope. Advent is a time of waiting and hoping. We wait for the day when we celebrate again the birth of Jesus. We hope that everyone will come to know and worship God.

(Light the first purple candle)

Second Reader:  When we look at the first candle, we remember God’s promise.  God promised to send a someone to save the people. God fulfills his promises and takes care of his people. God brings peace and all of this gives us hope. Again we wait excitedly for the birth of baby Jesus.

Sing: Oh Come Let us Adore Him
Matt Redman- Oh Come Let us Adore Him (video with lyrics from youtube)

Read Jeremiah 33:14-16
The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill my gracious promise with the people of Israel and Judah. 15 In those days and at that time, I will raise up a righteous branch from David’s line, who will do what is just and right in the land. 16 In those days, Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is what he will be called: The Lord Is Our Righteousness.

Prayer: Dear God: Thank you for your son, Jesus. Thank you for the words of Jeremiah, the prophet, that remind us that you are the source of our hope. Help us to live each day with hope and to share hope with everyone around us. AMEN.

Most of this comes straight from the Advent Home Worship. I re-worded and re-wrote a few things so that my smaller kids could understand it better. I also left out the discussion and shortened a few other parts. Definitely check out the one made by the United Methodist Church!
Advent Worship at Home

Don’t feel bad if you don’t get to this on Sundays. Just try and do it sometime during that week. My parents did this with us every year growing up and it is one of my most powerful memories. I hope that these help you and your family enjoy the Advent season together and keep Christ in the center!

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Learning From Yes and Saying No

Where have I disappeared to lately!? Oh goodness, where do I even begin?

Our growing family has always had some dreams, things we are striving toward, things we would love for our children to experience. Our biggest of these dreams is to own some land out somewhere, build a house and start what we have claimed as a “mini-farm” with chickens, goats, and a garden larger than I can dream up right now. (I am seriously swooning over my previous sentence! Oh, I cannot wait!)

We are currently in a “suburban country” situation; landlocked and restricted by a LOVELY HOA (Grrrr!) and feeling cramped. About two months ago this prompted some serious conversations that led to searching around for land, that lead to a call to our realtor to see what was even possible. Don’t get me wrong! We absolutely LOVE our house, our community and the people in it, but we know that ultimately our goal is to move out on some land. We decided to look knowing we were not running FROM something but running TOWARD a goal and at any time things did not seem right, we would stop.

WELL…..We found some land. Yes, we found some land and we fell hard. It was EXACTLY what we wanted. It was well within budget, had a home on the property, and was the perfect situation where we could eventually build our dream home on. It had a chicken coop that was OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD! Seriously, the chicken coop in my dreams was not even close to this beauty! Everything was perfect. We talked and decided to put an offer on the property.
Things just got real!
Were we really about to achieve our dream situation this early in life?!
Was this really happening?!

We filled out and signed the offer and we felt like this was right.

We look at the market analysis for our house and felt excited.

We made a fix-it list for our house and still felt excited.

We started getting the house ready to sell and panicked.
No, seriously! We panicked! My gut was screaming at me to slow down, but I didn’t want to! This was a dream we have had for so long, we were being responsible with our money, the market is great for selling our house, so why are we panicking?

We were so excited, but we stopped. We re-evaluated. We prayed. We talked. We listened. I cried (I really want a chicken coop).

Ultimately we had to listen to our gut.

We called our realtor and told her our situation and she agreed with us completely. We retracted our offer, paused our house prep and just took a deep breath. We both felt more at peace in that moment than we did at any other moment in this process. So why did it not feel right? Why did we say no to what looked like our dream? Honestly, I’m not sure! I have no doubt we did the right thing, I just don’t know why! I am still processing the whole 2+ weeks that happened. People have been asking us why and our answer keeps coming out as “It’s just not the right time” I am not even sure I understand that answer.

So now, I am mourning my dream, but am HAPPY with where I am. We learned a few things and will see what the future holds. “Someday” is what I say to my dream, not no.

Thanks for letting me share our little journey.

 

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Not New Just Better

I’m not a big New Years Resolution type of person, but the start of a new year is a great time to reflect on how far you have come in the past year and set goals to reach in the coming year. The reflecting time is fun, but now the hard work starts; setting goals and mapping out a successful route to reach them.

So what is my plan for 2015? Well, I’m glad you asked (wink wink!) I did a LOT of thinking about this. Last year was focused on kids (well, every year is) I was pregnant for most of the year and we spend much of the year figuring out food allergies and changing our diets to accommodate them. These were two HUGE aspects of our lives last year. Now that baby has come and we have this “no grain” diet down (for the most part) I can slow down and take a breath. Then as I finally got to slow down and take a breath, I realized that I need more than a breath. I am TIRED, I am WORN DOWN. I am NOT unhappy, just really tired.

2015 is going to be the year of me! I am going to take 2015 to focus on myself. I’m going to start taking care of myself better; start eating better, getting back into shape, do more of the things I love. This doesn’t mean I am going to neglect my kids at all. I am just going to make a special effort to take care of me this year.

I mentioned this to my husband and he thought this was a great goal for 2015. He even suggested more manicures and pedicures and more girls night outs! No, seriously, that’s exact;y what he said! You know those moments that remind you that you married the most wonderful man on Earth? Yeah, that was one of them.

So there are a few specific things I want to do in 2015.

1. Photo a day….well sort of. I did a photo a day in 2012 and did a blog post for each picture. I did it, but it was a beating and became a burden more than a fun thing. So this year, i am doing 7 pictures a week. It may not be one picture per each day of the week, but I will be doing a weekly post with 7 pictures from the week.

2. Memory jar. Lots of things happen throughout the year, and I want to remember it. I have suggested doing this for years and when I suggested it to my husband this year, he was like “That’s a cool idea! Let’s do it!” Yeah, makes me wonder if he was listening when I suggested it before!

3. Cherish the moments. This one is big. My babies are little, but yet my oldest will turn 5 this year already. I am realizing that if I wait until life “gets back to normal” to try and do stuff with my kids then I am going to wake up one day and they will be gone, adults doing their own thing. Childhood is fleeting for both the kids and the parents. I want to cherish every moment. I don’t want to just survive until nap time. I don’t want to wish they were older so they could understand. I want to cherish the moments my 2 month old has a nursing marathon and I’m stuck in a chair nursing him all day. I want to cherish the moments when I get to see a glimpse of what amazing things go on inside my 4 year old’s brain. I want to cherish the moments my daughter shows me how big her heart is and how willing she is to help people. I want to cherish the moments when my kids are playing and imagining wonderful worlds together. I want to cherish the moments when the only thing that will stop the baby from crying is if big brother talks to him. I want to slow down and love life. I want to love life RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. I want to love life in the craziness of having three small kids. I do love my life. I have a wonderful husband, three wonderful, beautiful, healthy kids, a great house, and a supportive community and church and it is time I cherish it and start acting like I love it. Too many times I have thought “I will love life when….” When the kids are older, when we get more land, when my blog gets bigger, when my husband doesn’t have to work as long. I am done wishing away life and I will be cherishing it.

So this year I claiming a better me. I am not claiming a “new me”, but an improved “me” that not only takes care of her family and the pregnant women she is a doula for, but takes care of herself as well. At the end of 2015 I hope to be not new, just better version of who I already am.

In addition to my posts about baby products and pregnancy advice I will be writing posts throughout the year documenting my progress in these areas. Hopefully this will keep me accountable. I would love to hear your goals or resolutions for 2015. What is going to make your year great?

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Not Top 10 of 2014

I can say just how wonderful 2014 was, but I would be lying if I said there were no bumps in the road in the past year. So, lets just look back at the times with things weren’t so “Leave it to Beaver”-esque in our house. Here is my not top 10:

1. That time I decided to potty train our 2 year old, by myself, while battling morning sickness and managing a 4 year old. Yeah, brilliant parenting move on my part. Good news, she’s potty trained and I am still alive!

Potty Training

2. That time I said, “Yeah, sure I’ll print ALL 100+ VBS shirts” while also being a coordinator…..oh and I was also like 25 weeks pregnant too. And it was summer, in Texas. Good news, I’m still alive!

VBS shirts

3. That time I attempted a gluten/rice/corn/oat free all natural birthday cake and everyone was super nice and pretended to like it. (Thanks guys! I can’t believe we are still alive after that cake!)birthday cake

4. That time Jeff and I decided to eat HALF of a birthday cake in one sitting. I felt SUPER weird the next day, but guess what?! STILL ALIVE!

Jeffs Birthday cake

5. That time I stripped my cloth diapers, put them in the washer with “a little extra detergent” and thought the washer was going to explode from bubble overload. Yeah, the washer still works! (And yes, still alive and actually not in danger that time)

bubbly washer

6. That time we went and ate dinner with friends and when we hopped back in the car, Woody was waiting for us in Ian’s car seat all creepy-like. Yeah, we all made it through that one alive, but Jeff and I were a little freaked out.

Creepy Woody

7. That time Jeff grew a beard (Yes, he is still alive….for now).

The Beard

8. Those times I tried to take a cute picture of the kids together. Come on kids, I just wanted ONE cute picture of you two together! Is that too much to ask?! The answer is “Yes, Mom! Yes it is!”

bad pictures

9. That time I got so obsessed with getting FOX via our antenna I made Jeff stand in the middle of the room with the antenna over his head to get it. No, you just don’t get it! The Cowboys were playing on FOX on Thanksgiving and it’s not Thanksgiving without football! Thanks to my complaining (or maybe just to shut me up) a friend from church gave us an extra antenna that’s stronger. I was way too excited.

Must have FOX

10. That time we went to the family Christmas celebration and our 2 month old screamed the ENTIRE TIME! (Yes, we are still alive, but our ears are still ringing)

Christmas party

May you remember the good with the bad and may you laugh at some of the things you have been through in the past year knowing you made it through. God Bless and Happy New Year!

 

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Timeless Baby Toys

So it’s been a few days since I have been able to write a post! My life just got crazy busy (with a one year old and another on the way, when is my life never crazy!)


Today I wanted to talk about toys that are great and will last. I don’t exactly mean toys that have been around forever when I say “timeless”. I mean toys that will keep the interest of your baby for more than a few months. Whether the toy says 0-3months or 6-18months, some toys will keep your baby’s interest months longer than others. Here is what I have found that last long past what the label suggests.

Blocks- My son received two sets of “squishy” blocks that he loved from the moment they were opened and still is an all-time favorite! When he was younger he liked being able to pick it up and he liked the texture of the block. (It is like a rubber duck bath toy) You could also squish it and air would come out of a little hole on one side (again, like a bath toy) and he loved feeling the air. As he has gotten older we love to build and stack with the blocks. He loves putting them in the back of his trucks and pushing them around. They are also wonderful for teaching colors!

Ball- If you can find a “baby-size” ball it will be a toy worth keeping until adulthood (my husband plays with the ones my son got for Christmas and birthday all the time!) It is great to help your baby learn coordination because he/she has to hold it with both hands. Before my son was able to hold/push/throw the ball he loved to watch us roll it to him. He would giggle and giggle! He was then able to hold it and drop it which was fun too! Then we were able to sit on the floor together and roll it back and forth! Now we are learning how to throw (outside) and kick (outside also) the ball, but he still loves to roll the ball back and forth. BALL is often one of the first words that babies can say so it is always fun to play with a toy that your baby knows by name!

Peek-A-Boo Books- I know this is not exactly a “toy”, but my son reminded me today of how ageless these books can be. We have 3 “Peek-a boo touch and feel” books that my son just loves! Each page has a little flap with a baby dressed up underneath the flap. Each page also has a “touch and feel” spot where there is a type of fabric or something with texture for your baby to feel. When my son was a little baby it was good to have these books because they were short and really did not have a story. The flaps were surprising an kept him interested….sort of. We usually only made it to page 2 or 3, but it was good to get him familiar with book and mommy or daddy reading to him. Now he likes to “read” them by himself! He loves picking up the flaps to see what is underneath and loves touching the “touch and feel” parts.

Hammer- I about strangled my dad because when Christmas presents were all said and done, my son ended up with THREE new hammers! One in particular that makes hammer noises! But what I found out is that they were not as annoying as I thought (not really annoying at all) and they were a toy my son loved and still loves. When he was a little baby the hammer was great because he could hold onto it. It was the perfect size for his little hand and it helped him with his grasp (but I do not think he needed help, he had a death grip at birth!) When he shook it, it was like a rattle and made noise. He was very excited to be able to create that noise on his own. It was helpful in introducing the concept of cause-and-effect to him. As he got a little older he learned (again, thanks to my dad) that it was fun to bang on things with the hammer. This helped with hand-eye coordination (which we are still working on!) and it makes loud noises which are always fun! Now he is learning what the hammer is actually used for and how to hold it properly. He plays with his hammer on his tool table and it is so cute to see him use it like it is actually supposed to be used!

Bubbles- Bubbles are great for any age really. I am not sure if this is really considered a “toy” or not, but it is a great thing to have around. You can buy a container of bubbles for under $1 or you can make your own! For the really little ones, they just like to watch the bubbles as the float up and pop! This is great for little baby’s sight development. When they get a little bit older and become more interactive they might start popping the bubbles or trying to touch them (or avoid them). This helps with hand-eye coordination. And when they get even older they will chase them, jump high to catch them and blow them around. This is a great way to distract a fussy baby or toddler, or to get more than one child paying attention to the same thing.


These are all simple and cheap things to get, and I know there are more things that could be added to this list (and I might add more as time goes on) Let me tell you, it was a struggle to take these pictures because as soon as I pulled out all these toys, my son was right in the middle of it (as you can tell by the first picture) He is a testimony that these are truly timeless toys! Happy playing and as always, God bless you and your family!


Until the Whole World Hears,
Katie
grace.faith.dirt@gmail.com

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Not For Free Fun at One!

So I shared with everyone in a earlier post great things to do with your one year old toddlers that are free, the post was Free Fun At One! I originally only had one post called “Fun at One” until I decided that I had left quite a few fun things out and it was just TOO BIG for one post. So I decided to split my post into two! One for free activities and one for not so free activities (but way fun activities) for you to do with the family or just as a Mommy-toddler date!


Go to an Aquarium
This is a great family outing where everyone will have lots of fun! (and it is a lot cooler than being outside during these 100+ degree days) Your little one will love to see all the different types of creatures that live in the water and how they move and react with one another. Be sure to tell your little one what the creatures are called, and it is also fun to imitate the animals. Your little one will get a kick out of your imitations and have fun trying to do them! Lots of aquariums also have “touch and feel” section of the aquarium that you and your little one can experience what different types of creatures feel like.

Lake Cookout
This is one of our favorite things to do as a family. There are tons of free places to go to the lake where we live (and I bet there are places where you live too) So I only put this activity in the “not so free” post because of having to buy the hot dogs (all beef are much healthier, we like Hebrew National the best) charcoal, ice, drinks, plates, cups etc.. It is still quite cheap to do a cookout. We head out in the early evening to our usual shaded, not very well known location and cookout first. I put a blanket down on the grass by the picnic table and let my son sit on it and eat cheerios and watch us cook. We eat dinner together, pack up the dinner stuff and head right into the lake. We play in the sand, we splash in the water, and my son loves for Daddy to take him out deeper and play (very carefully) out there.

Go to the Zoo
My son loves the zoo, but we do not go as often as I would like because it is not free, but going to the zoo is always super exciting for toddlers (and this mommy usually gets pretty excited too) Most zoos have annual passes you can by that pay for themselves in two or three trips. Also, our zoo has half price Wednesday! You might want to look to see if your zoo has discount days as well. Plan your zoo trip out before you go. Mix inside exhibits with outside exhibits (especially if it is as hot as it is here in TEXAS!!) For example, we would go do the African animals, then the penguins, then maybe the bears and the reptile house. Make sure you bring lots of water and snacks. Take lots of breaks inside or at a shaded/covered picnic area. Always share with your toddler the names of all the animals and the sounds each animal makes. It also is a great idea to bring a book or flash cards he/she is familiar with that has animals in it and show your little one the picture and then the real animal. This will help your little one be able to recognize the animal better and understand that there is more than just one (the one in the book) of that animal.

Science Discovery Center or Childrens’ Museum
Some of you may have a science center that is attached to a national park or other attraction or some may have a Childrens Museum of some sort. These are great family outings where you and your little one can experience things that you would not normally be able to. these places are great to learn about science, or just simply how things work. There are usually “touch and feel” stations and sound stations for your little one to use more than one of his/her senses. Your little one will be fascinated to see new things and excited to see things he/she recognizes. Make sure to explain things that are new and ask questions to your toddler about thinks he/she is familiar with.

A New Way to Travel
Experience with your little one a new way to travel. Depending on where you live head downtown to ride the trolley around the downtown area, or take a train to the next city to eat lunch and ride the train back. Be creative. Before you leave, tell your little one what you will be riding on that day. Show him/her a picture and tell your little one how it works. They may not look like they understand, but those little wheels are turning a lot faster than we think. Traveling in a different type of vehicle other than a car can be very exciting. The new perspective on things will have your little one glued to the window or outside. Make sure to follow the safety guidelines for children your little one’s age on whatever transportation you decide on. 

Hope you like these suggestions for fun things to do with your little one OR as a whole family! These may not be free, but are wonderful ideas for special occasions. (and can you really put a price on your child’s education?) I tried to include places that the whole family would enjoy (including Dad and older siblings) and things that are educational. Enjoy your family outings and as always, God bless you and your family!

Until the Whole World Hears,
Katie
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Free Fun at One!

Your little one is growing into a toddler and the days of saying “my baby” are turning into “my toddler”. Now that your baby…I mean TODDLER is a little more grown up there are lots of things that you can do as a family or as a Mommy-toddler date! So what types of activities are good for your little one to keep his/her interest plus help them grow creatively, intellectually or physically? I  have created a list of activities perfect for you and your little one.


Create Art
This is not only fun for both of you guys, but also helps them learn colors, shapes, and hand-eye coordination.
Coloring With Shapes-I like taking a black marker and drawing three big shapes in the middle of a piece of computer paper. I explain to my son what each of the shapes are and then let him color them. I got him the fat Crayola crayons for him to color with and he loves them! It is good to limit the choice of colors to three or four. I have found that if he is offered too many colors its a little overwhelming and there is more time spent looking at all the different choices than actually coloring.
Fingerpainting-Take a deep breath, grab a table cloth, a paint smock (and maybe a few hundred wipes) and remember that children are washable! Crayola and other brands make wonderful non-toxic finger paints for your toddler to have fun with. You can trace their hands with a black marker and them let them paint. Fingerpainting is lots of fun for the little ones, and it is easy because they do not have to hold anything in their hands like they do when they color with crayons. This piece of artwork will make a wonderful gift for Daddy or Grandma!


Building Together
Whether your little one is Ms. Organized or Mr. Destructo your little one will enjoy building with you! Get some Mega Block (they are like really big Legos) or some wooden blocks and sit on the floor with your little one and have fun! Some toddlers like to help build/stack the blocks, others love to knock the blocks down while others like to put them away and take them back out. Any way your little one likes to play is great! It is helping him/her learn hand eye coordination and cause and effect. Let your little one lead the play time, and make sure when it is time to stop building, you make sure your little one helps you clean the blocks up.


Homemade Obstacle Course 
fill the room with pillows, rolled up blankets, stuffed animals, hula hoops and anything else you can think of that your little one can step over, climb over, crawl through etc. My son loves climbing over and through stuff and this is a great way to do it in a safe, controlled environment (instead of climbing up the TV stand) This is also a great way for your little toddler to build up muscles that he/she may not use very often, and (of course) helps with hand-eye coordination (actually all types of coordination!)


The Floating Game
Get a kiddie pool and fill it with water in your back yard. Grab some random household items (some that will float and some that will sink) Let your little one drop each item into the pool and watch what happens together. Tell him/her what happened to each item. Did it float or sink? Do each item again. Did it float or sink this time? This is so much fun because it involves water, but also helps your little one learn about water (and the concepts of sinking and floating of course!) Great items to use are: a cup, a plastic toy, clothespin, a rock, a ball, a big coin, or a diving stick.


ABC Magnets
My son is fascinated with magnets and how they work. So I went to the dollar store and bought a set of magnet letters and we play with them together on the fridge or the side of the bathtub. Grab some ABC magnets and have some fun learning letters and how they sound, and maybe even some words. Make sure and tell your little one what each of the letters are and what sound it makes. When my son has a letter in his hand I say something like, “What letter do you have? Is that a D? A D makes a DUH-DUH sound, can you make the DUH sound?” He almost never does make the sound, but I know he is listening. Playing with ABC magnets not only makes for fun mommy-toddler time, but it also helps with learning their ABC’s and learning about magnets! 


House Tent
Who did not build a fort or a tent out of the couch cushions and blankets when they were little? Just because your little one cannot build an inside fort by himself/herself does not mean your little one will not enjoy it! Grab some cushions, blankets, pillows and think back to your childhood tents and have fun! Have your little one help (as much as they can) in building your tent/fort. When it is all completed grab a flashlight and maybe a snack. Have your afternoon snack inside the tent, or play your favorite game together. When you get done playing in your tent/fort make sure and have your little one help you put things away. This helps your little one learn that things must be put back where they go when we are finished using them and that Mommy or Daddy are not going to do it for them all the time. 


Toddle Size Walk
Whether your little one is taking off on his/her own, or still holds on to your finger to walk, go outside and take a walk. No, actually take a walk where you BOTH walk. Grab your little one’s hand and walk to the corner, or just past the next house and back. This encourages your almost walker to take the next step on her own. It is also a great way to break up a boring afternoon (especially with a cranky little one) It is quick and easy, and your toddler will enjoy the difference in scenery.


Library Story Time
Call or get online to check out the calendar of your favorite public library for events for your little one. Most have story times and other fun educational activities (puppets, skits, etc.) around once a week for you and your little one to participate in. This great for your toddler to be around other kids for social interaction and just to get out of the house (for the both of you!) and it is normally free. And even though we read to our little ones, it is always great for them to hear stories from other grown ups too! This really reinforces to our toddlers how important reading is!


Pet Store Fun

My son and I were out running errands one day and we had some time to kill before heading home. He was getting a little fussy and bored (and so was I) There was a pet store nearby and I decided to kill some time in there. Best decision of the day! Toddlers love pet stores. My son and I walked around and looked at all the reptiles first. I told him about the snakes, frogs and turtles. We looked at the birds next. He loved the birds because of their bright colors and they moved a lot. He kept pointing at different ones. I would tell him what each kind of bird was called as he pointed to them. We then moved to the fish section which was probably our favorite. He was fascinated by the little creatures that lived under the water. Again, as he pointed to each fish I would tell him what it was called. Pet stores are great for learning about animals, where they live and what noises they make. When looking at the animals, make sure and tell your toddler what they are called and what noise they make. Then try and see if your toddler can imitate the noise! Fun Fun! 
 



Go People Watching
Grab the stroller and maybe a snack for the both of you and head out to a mall or somewhere you two can watch people. My son loves to just watch people and things, and loves to point out things he finds interesting. Tell your little one about the people passing by and the stores near where you are sitting, stuff like, “That man is taller than Daddy!” “Did you see that baby?” “Look! That boy has a cookie! Do you like cookies?” My husband and I used to go get pretzels at the mall (there are always interesting characters at the mall) and just sit and watch people. So I guess I should not be surprised that our son loves to also. 


I hope you have found these activities fun and helpful! I love doing activities with my son that are not only fun, but educational. These activities are mainly things that my son and I love to do together. My mother gave me a great book that is full of age appropriate activities for any age group. It breaks it up by age and has literally thousands of things to do with your little one no matter their age! I do not think very many, if any of my activities are in this book (I tried to include ones that are not in the book) It is called Gymboree Play and Learn and I have attached a link to more information about the book (just click on the title!) Happy playing and as always, God bless you and your family!


Until the Whole World Hears,
Katie
grace.faith.dirt@gmail.com
grace.faith.dirt website

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Baby Water Fun!

I want to apologize for not putting a post up yesterday. It was a really tough day with the little one and I was just not able to take the time to put a post up. I have dubbed Tuesdays “Top 10 Tuesdays” where I will share my top 10 of something. Next Tuesday will be Top 10 Baby Products 6-12mo (as promised on the current Top 10 Baby Products post which covers newborns-6mo-ish)

Well, it is summer time and it is hot outside (and by hot I mean HOT if you are like me and live in Texas with 11+ days over 100 degrees!!). You want to get your little one out of the house, but it’s just too hot to do anything outside (did I mention Texas was 100+ degrees for 11+ days? Just making sure!) What better way to spend some time outside than in the POOL! But before you pack up the beach bag with towels and floaties and run out the door, here are some things to thing about being poolside with your baby:

Some of these things might seem like common sense, but it is always a good idea to state the obvious if it means it will save a life! I was a lifeguard during my college years so I have a lot of experience in water safety. My husband even says I might be a little too cautious.
  • Know your own limits in the pool. Recognize whether or not you are a strong swimmer, and what you can and cannot do. Being in the pool with your little one is not the time to test your swimming limits! The goal is to keep you both safe and having fun!
  • Make sure your baby has the proper attire on. Swim diaper and swim trunks/swimsuit and maybe a hat if your little one will tolerate it. We use a cloth swim diaper for our son. It is cheaper and more and more public pools are banning disposable swim diapers. For little ones under 18months or so, I am not a fan of the swim tops that are like a life vest. They tend to float up onto the neck/face and could cause choking and I find it harder to control my little one in the water. 
  • Baby floaties are GREAT! (NOT the inflatable arm floaties, those are dangerous!) Pick out one that you like and are comfortable putting your little one in. We have one made of mainly a mesh material and it has a shade on the top. My husband and I love it because it feels very safe and secure and my son likes not having the sun in his eyes! Plus it folds up and fits right into the tote bag provided. Here is a link to the float we have: Baby Spring Float Sun Canopy
  • Take it slow and follow your baby’s lead when introducing them to the pool. Yes, they have taken baths, but this is TOTALLY different than that. Introduce them slowly by letting them check out the pool, splash a little bit with their hands, then their feet. Then move into the water yourself holding them. My husband started by standing on the first step and occasionally dunking our sons feet until he felt comfortable. Then we got him a little more wet. My son being an older baby (around a year) we stood him up on the first step (with mommy or daddy holding on very tightly) just so he could get more wet. Then we stuck him in his float and swam around with him.
  • Don’t stay too long in the pool the first time. My son freaked out in the water. He was very unsure of what to think or if he was for sure safe. We let him experience the pool long enough to start feeling a little more comfortable, but not for very long because we did not want him to get too tired and grumpy. I would say to limit your first pool visit to around 20 minutes. (I know this is way short, but you don’t want to introduce them to too much too fast)
  • Make sure and protect you and your baby. If your baby is over six months old, make sure and apply sunscreen. It is best to put it on before you get out to the pool as it is absorbed and works better. If your baby is less than six months old you will have to decide whether you think you should put sunscreen on your little one. Babies under six months have thinner skin and therefore more of the sunscreen is absorbed by the baby and we do not know of the long term affects of this. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that they cannot find any long term affects of sunscreen used on babies younger than six months they recommend using small doses when unable to be protected in other ways. Here is a link to an article about this very topic on iVillage: Sunscreen Safe for Babies?
  • Never take your eyes off your baby, not even for an instant! This is hopefully a “DUH!! Why did you even include this?” BUT this is probably the single most important thing about being at the pool with your baby. Although it is fun, the pool is also a VERY DANGEROUS place. A full grown adult only needs a few inches of water to drown, imagine how easy it is for your baby. I don’t mean for this to scare you out of the pool, but just be very cautious while out at the pool. 
  • Have fun! The point of  going to the pool with your little one is to get out of the house and have some fun! So go do it! Splash around, get wet and have lots of fun in the water!
In addition to this list, here is a list of beach bag musts. Not sure what to pack or afraid you will forget something? Here is a list to help moms out when packing for the pool:
  • Beach towels (my son and I usually share one, but you can always bring one for each)
  • Sunscreen for you both
  • Baby floatie
  • Hat for sun protection
  • Sunglasses for both you and your little one 
  • Extra diapers to change your little one out of his/her wet one after swimming
  • Extra change of clothes if you want to change your little one out of their wet swimsuit
  • Shirt or cover-up for going to and from the pool
  • Pool toys for your little one to play with. (we usually bring some ducks that float and squirt water)
  • A snack for both of you. If your little one is old enough for finger foods, bring some cheerios and some water to drink. If not, bring some formula to mix up or if you are nursing, just bring yourself! (and a cover if you use one)
Hope everyone has a wonderful summer and a great time with their little ones at the pool. Be safe and have LOTS of fun! As always, God Bless you and your family!
Until the Whole World Hears,

Katie <><
grace.faith.dirt@gmail.com

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Baby’s First Foods

So your little one is nearing the six month mark and you are wondering how and what exactly to do to start feeding your baby food! As exciting as this time may be, it is also probably the start of many questions and worries. What’s best to give my baby first? What if he is allergic to something? How do I introduce baby food and the spoon? This post will helpfully help you get going on how to start this exciting milestone and make it successful for yourself and your baby!
 Here are some important things to keep in mind when starting your baby on food:
  • Always consult with your pediatrician about your baby’s diet.
  • Starting your baby on food too early can result in food allergies and more. Until six months of age your baby does not need anything but breastmilk or formula. 
  • After your baby starts foods, the breastmilk/formula is still the most important thing your baby needs. Until your baby really gets the hang of it, the food is just for practice anyways.
  • Make the consistency of your baby’s first meal VERY thin, fine and smooth; basically liquid. Mix it with breastmilk/formula so that there is a familiar taste.
  • Be patient while starting baby food. This is new for both of you. It may not be successful the first few times. It’s ok, try again every day and eventually, when your baby is ready, he/she will start eating it.
  • When introducing a new food always do it one at a time and give the same food every day for at least 4 days. This is to make sure that your baby is not allergic to it.
  • If you decide to make your own baby oatmeal, talk with your doctor about iron supplements because your baby might not get enough from your oatmeal and breastmilk.
  • Find a good time to give your baby his/her daily baby food meal (usually around lunch time or the third feeding time)
  • During your daily baby food meal, give a partial feeding of breastmilk/formula, then baby food, then finish with the second half of breastmilk/formula
  • Your baby only needs around 3-4 tablespoons of baby food per day when starting.
  • It is a myth that your baby will not eat vegetables if you start him/her off with a sweet fruit. Breastmilk is sweet so do not worry.
  • Wait until your baby is around a year to give him/her any foods that you or your spouse are allergic to.
Making your own baby food is SO easy, a lot cheaper and healthier than commercial baby foods. Here are some great first foods to introduce to your little one:
  • Ripe Banana- puree bananas until very smooth. Add water to make the bananas thinner. Make sure that the strings from pealing the banana does not get in the food. Bananas are very healthy and have potassium.
  • Ripe Avocado- Just scoop out the avocado and puree just like the bananas. Avocados are high in the good fats that your baby needs
  • Sweet Potatoes- Cook like you would normally cook a sweet potatoe, scoop out and puree with water to make it a thin, smooth consistency. 
  • Baby Cereal-the most popular ones are rice and oatmeal. If you decide to get the instant baby cereal, make sure it is single grain. My personal favorites are Earth’s Best Oatmeal or Gerber Organic Oatmeal. (I am allergic to rice so we went with oatmeal instead) 
**This information was gained from several sources including Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron, and my local pediatrician.

We started our son out on Earth’s Best Oatmeal and he did pretty good. We did just oatmeal for around two weeks so he could get used to eating off a spoon. Then we tried to move to fruits and vegetables and he refused to eat anything and cried for the oatmeal. We tried for a few days without success and finally went back to just oatmeal. We waited a few more weeks and tried bananas again and he did just fine. We just had to be patient and wait for our son to be ready.

I hope this has helped you prepare yourself for a successful solid food transition! Good luck and as always, God bless you and your family!

Until the Whole World Hears,
Katie <><

https://sites.google.com/site/gracefaithdirt/

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