Shoes to Fill

Today, Lexie napped.  She has been doing this more frequently in the last month than she has in the last 9 months.  So she got to stay up later (8pm, instead of 6:30pm).

Tonight, at about 7:30pm, we climbed into her bed with a pile of books and read.  We talked about all sorts of things and snuggled.  It is my absolute most favorite time.

We moved her to a big, big girl bed in June. She was just too big for the toddler bed. 

My favorite part about this?  Snuggling!  

We don’t co-sleep (if you do, that’s great!), but I love to snuggle my babies.  I love tip toeing into her room with her cup of milk after she wakes up in the mornings or from nap, and climbing in bed with her.

I love how full of life she is, and how everything is so fresh.  Everything is so new, and untainted.

I love her smile, her crazy facial expressions, those curls, and her beyond huge imagination; her obsession with trains and engines, which now also includes dinosaurs, and her ability to sing any song she hears almost on key.

She wants to hear “wagon wheel” by Darius Rucker over and over again.  She calls it “the rock me mama song.”

We have to stop the car now to let her engines in, because they didn’t get in when everyone else did …  They get eaten by dinosaurs and our pet dolphin “Fred the dolphin” quite frequently.

It “rains a lot” (not really…), so she needs her umbrella during independent play.  She can already quote all of Mary Poppins, and does so with perfection.

She may be a daddy’s girl, but she is my baby.

And who can ever love her like I do?  Who will ever be able to fill those shoes?  How can there possibly be someone out there, better suited for her than JTom or me?

It just doesn’t seem possible.

But then, as I ponder her future, I realize I have to get her to that point.  


How in the world am I supposed to fill those shoes?  She is so special, so different.  Brilliant.  Emotional. and Strong willed.  Oh, her strong willed personality may be the death of me.

How am I supposed to help her become a Godly young woman with a passion for something other than herself in this world where everything is me, me, me, now, now, now?  (and I am guilty of it, too…)

So I pray.  And I know she has free will and I can’t control everything she does when she becomes a young adult.  I don’t want to.  I want to mold and train a child that will use her free will and self control to become something amazing.  Whatever gift it is God has given her, I want her to use it.  

But we have to foster it.

So I pray.  I pray He protects her; her mind, her spirit, and her innocence.  I pray she seeks Him first, above all things.  And that she learns this world is not worth losing her soul over.

I know He gave us this tiny human for a reason.  She is meant to be ours; He knew exactly what He was doing when he formed her and blessed us as her parents.

I pray I can fill the shoes of being her mama.  And that I don’t let her down.

{BIG} Magnet Fun!

Oh the magnet fun has began! I remember in elementary school, the kids who took the circle magnets off the chalk tray were envied by all the good kids, too scared to do it themselves.

How the magnets attracted each other, rolled across the desk, how they felt in your hands. Aah. Magnets were. So. Cool. (or was it just me?)

My dad mailed us some magnets from his shop.

Saying Lexie (who will be 3 in September) is obsessed is an under statement! As she excitedly opened the box and unwrapped the magnets, she kept saying, “ooh, what is it? Its for Essie? What did Payne send, do you think?”

We spent 2 hours playing with these magnets the day she got them in the mail. They come out of truck parts (engines, transmissions, oil things, and what not? I don’t really remember all the things my dad said they come out of ..). But Payne is a mechanic, and a build-it fix-it guy to boot.

These magnets are so strong, even I have a hard time pulling them apart sometimes.  Seriously.

You can tell all those little plasticized, weak, kiddie magnets we won’t be buying them, because we have awesome magnets to play with!

We decided to set the bigger magnets up across her table and predict which one the smaller magnets would roll towards. Then she would flick the small, cylinder shaped magnets towards the row of bigger magnets and see where it went. 

Sometimes the magnetism just made them all crazily attract to each other, and we would suddenly have a huge clump of magnets!

I had as much fun as she did. Very cool. So thanks Payne. 🙂

Here is a video of her playing with them- she can’t get enough!   

How do you use magnets for learning fun with your children?  Let me know in the comments!

Learning this week: Winnie the Pooh, coloring, and playdough

I am starting a new weekly/bi weekly update series on what specifically we have done this week in our homeschool or learning in general. Fun crafts and things will usually have their own posts, depending on the time and energy I have to blog them.

This week, Lexie is 4 months away from her third birthday! Oh em gee. I really cant believe my baby, my brilliant, strong willed, determined first born is almost three. (Remind me of this when she is turning 13, and 23….).

Last week we started reading our first chapter book- none other than A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh!

How appropriate, seeing how as a child my Memaw video taped every. single. episode. of Winnie the pooh (the new adventures mind you, not these ridiculous computerized versions… And long before Tigger or piglet had their own movies! I had the real deal, let me tell you).

Lexie loves to read, and she absolutely loves to pretend to read serious, big word books. Her little (formerly my own) Precious Moments Bible is so worn, because she brings it to me and says, “what’s this say?” Then I will read it to her, and she goes off and “reads” it to her dolls or the engines. (Yes, the engines are part of our family now …)

Her devotional is literally falling apart.  The cover is falling off, the pages are creased and crinkled. She has most of the pages memorized up to this date.  It is by far her favorite book in the house. 

We’ve had it since CHRISTMAS! It is 5 months old.

You must appreciate her passion for God and reading though…

So anyway, I thought with all these things combined, she would enjoy a chapter book read aloud.

Wow. To say the least.

I have to distract her bribe her so I can stop reading, or we would have the book read in a day. She likes to take the book and pretend she is reading it.  What she recites is a mixture of Winnie the Pooh, meets The Little Red Hen, meets the Bible… Quite eclectic, and entertaining.

Lexie has started coloring inside the lines! I know coloring books aren’t developmentally appropriate and hinder creativity. I know. I know.

But she refused to draw! She is my little perfectionist, type A, right brained baby, and drawing pictures is not her thing.  Two weeks ago she would shove a blank piece of paper across the table, crying and panicking, refusing to color! “No mommeeeeeee! You show me, you do it! Essie doesn’t know how!”

But give her a coloring sheet and she will color in the lines, draw pictures on top of it, make numbers and letters all over it … So maybe she has a blank paper phobia? (No, that’s not funny because it is a huge possibility.)  But I understand her thought process; she doesn’t know how to draw a picture like she sees in books, and therefore doesn’t want to do it.  Obviously I want to teacher her to do things out of her comfort zone, or things she doesn’t think she can do really well.  Slowly she has started coloring on some blank spots on her papers, so I am going to try blank paper again and see what happens.

Last week we played outside a lot, so I don’t have many pictures of learning activities…  But we did manage to squeeze in a little  bit of intentional inside learning fun.

We used playdoh to create letters.  Then we talked about the letter sounds, and different words that had that beginning and ending sound.  It was fun and she loved it.  We also cut out shapes with cookie cutters, and worked on her fine motor skills.  She had a lot of fun!

We decided Max needed some “playdoh,” but since he obviously puts everything in his mouth, we had to be creative.  Another mama online told me about shaving cream in a baggie.  I had a really hard time keeping the bag taped to his tray; and eventually he chewed a hole in it… but he had a lot of fun!  I added some non toxic paint in the baggie and let him squish it all around.

That has pretty much been our week.  We haven’t done any Before Five in a Row in a week or two.  I have ordered a printer and am waiting on it so we can do our lapbook/memory book activities to go with the books.  Today she found and picked up The Big Green Pocket Book off the shelf downstairs, so we read it.  Five times.  In a row.  Needless to say, that will be the next book we row!  haha

What have you been doing with your children this week?

34-36 Weeks Baby Summary

*I have been building this post all week, so “today” isn’t actually today ….*

Max has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 5 days! He suddenly went for a bitty baby to a big boy! He is almost crawling (edit: AAAAh!  He crawled 2 knees worth today!), waving hi, giving wide, slobbery, open mouthed kisses, and laughing more than ever. Tonight for bedtime was the first time he put his head on my shoulder and his arms around me while we sang for night night. I usually hold him like a baby while he sucks his thumb and winds down. He’s such a sweet bear.  Today, he also went from the crawling position to sitting position for the first time. 

…. see, lots of firsts!

He said Mama while we were playing downstairs, hiding out from the rain.  I was so excited.  He is trying really hard to talk.  A lot.  The past few days I have had the living room fan, he is mesmerized; and I know all babies love fans.  But this boy like instantly smiles and is hypnotized by the fan!  He likes to play games now, like throwing his head back so you will hold him upside down, and putting his chin up so you can tickle his neck.  It’s so funny.  These are all things Lexie was doing long before 8 months.  But it’s like he just decided, “Hey, I think I’m ready to move and have fun!”  Before, he was so lazy and laid back.  He is still laid back, just enjoys moving around now.

He gets so excited and is so proud that he can get up and rock on his knees, push up on his toes, and crawl backwards sometimes. He will be crawling more by the weekend, we are sure! Lexie gets very excited with him.  She likes to show him how to do it. 

He really enjoys playing in the grass. One of the great things about having a real lawn, is he can play and feel the grass without the fear of stickers.

I have him his first asparagus this week.  He loved it!  He also likes dill pickles (did I mention that last time?) and blueberries.

Lexie has been the sweetest most affectionate two year old ever this last two weeks. She is constantly telling me how much she loves me, hugging my neck tight, kissing me, playing and teasing, loving on her bubby even more, and just growing more kind and loving every day. Lexie has a tender heart; she doesn’t like for other people to be hurt or upset, but has had her share of not being so nice (like a typical two year old)… Pushing, chasing the dog, hitting Max … terrorizing the chickens comes to mind too. 

But lately she has been so affectionate. Last night we were doing bedtime routine, and she just wrapped her arms around my neck, hugged me and said, “i love you more than this much!”

I’m sure my monster toddler will return soon, but until then i will take all these loves i can get!  Her new favorite *obsessive* topics to talk about are the things that make God happy, and being grateful.  It’s wonderful to see Christ in your child’s life, even before they completely understand the implications of their relationship with Him.

sweet Mister Bear

reading her Bible outside

talking to her buddy

I can do it, I can do it!


She is crazy about her umbrella! 

Mmmm Blueberries!

Yes, I like them!

monkey girl

Mama, look where I can climb!

I’m doing it!

Did you see me?!?!

Mommy and Lexie

water play!

Musings and Ramblings: Unexpectedly Blessed

(originally written Thursday, April 26, 2013) 

The days.  They are so short, go by so quickly.  Somehow Max is over halfway to his first birthday, and my baby bug is going to be 3 years old in 4 short months.  What?!  How did this happen?

I try to absorb each day; each blessed day I get to be with them, to play with them, clean up their messes, and help them reach new goals.  Many days are calm, fun, and messy.  Others are hectic, tear filled, and more than messy.  That’s what it’s about though, right?  I mean, whether you are home all day with your children or you work outside the home, life is all about the messy moments- whether they are controlled chaos or full blown out of control, whirlwinds.

It’s hard.  I’ve never done something that was so challenging in my life. except maybe learn how to drive a stick, at which I was never successful ..  There are days I need more control than I have, and others that I let go and just let it happen.  Those days, I have learned, are the easiest.  This morning J.Tom, Lexie, and I sat on the bed.  I handed her milk and declared today a NO housework day.  No laundry, no vacuuming, no house work day.  I’ve cleaned up the crumbs, and picked up toys after we played with them.  The rest of the time all my attention was with the kids.  I say my attention was “with” them, not on them because though I was there watching and interacting I wasn’t hovering.

Sometimes I wonder if stay at home moms are misunderstood?  Not that it matters, we all know why we are home with our babies, no matter the reason.  But sometimes comments from others makes me wonder, what do they think we do all day?  What kind of person do they think I am?!  We don’t lay on the couch all day watching tv.  It’s not so I can micro manage their lives and create a perfect specimen.  On the contrary, for our family being home is about soaking in all the mistakes and character flaws, then turning them into lessons later.  Not to mention just the time we absorb together, as a family, learning about the each other, Christ, the world.  But you know, being a parent is somewhat about controlling what your children are exposed to, how they’re exposed to it, and at what age.  If I am going to take full responsibility for my children, I think JTom and I probably need to take control of the paths we lead them down.  I never wanted a family; my dream at 15 was to become a forensic pathologist and move to California where I would live in a house by myself, or with my best friend at the time, and live a lavish lifestyle.  None of those things happened… my best friend went to medical school.  I graduated highschool early, partied until I absolutely burned myself out, started college, met and totally unexpectedly fell in love with Jtom.  And then everything else just happened.  Nine years later we are married and have two children.  Nine years of blessings and growing together.

Blessings abound all around our family; we have been talking more and more about those blessings to Lexie. When she is refusing to eat her favorite food, simply because she is being defiant not because she isn’t hungry, I explain that not every girl and boy get lunch every day.  Or even food every day. The same goes for braiding her hair- not every girl has a mama to braid her hair, or give her a warm, clean bath.  Those seem like silly examples, but she understands them.  She’s 2.5 but she knows there is a world outside our four walls, and that some of that world isn’t as nice as hers.  She will smile and say, “Jesus gave me a mommy and daddy and max and lunch!”  *warm tingly feeling*  (insert an edit: we went to the library this morning for story time.  She told a mom there that “Jesus gave me a beautiful daddy.”  The mom responded with, that’s right.  Not every girl and boy have a daddy.  You are so blessed.”)

Then there are moments when I feel completely overwhelmed, asking myself what am I doing?!  How am I supposed to fit God, meals, play, learning, cleaning, and serving my husband- joyfully- all in 24 short hours?  7 of which need to be filled with sleep, so that I am able to serve my family.  This morning I was in the pantry deciding which lunch bag to take on our picnic play date with J.Tom this afternoon.  As a million plastic cups fell out of the lunch bag I’d chosen, I took a deep breath and looked around.  I was standing in a pantry the size of a bathroom, filled to the brim with food for our family and craft supplies for Lexie.  I’m not sure what we have done to deserve the blessings we have been given.  We have a home big enough for the family we hope to continue growing.  It’s warm in the winter and (hopefully) cool in the summer.  You can’t feel the cold air blowing from the cracks in the doors and windows.  The floors are safe and comfortable for the babies to play on.  We have clean, running water, toilets that work (hallelujah!), and silent pipes! (meaning no clanging and banging in the walls that wakes up sleeping babes!  We can flush the toilet after 7pm woo hoo)

Our old home wasn’t bad, it was a blessing as well; just a blessing that needed many hours and dollars worth of fixing up.  We now live in a neighborhood with other young families.  Our home is one street from the disc hockey park and community pool (which is more like a mini water park) so there are many places to run and play during these beautiful warm days.  The people in Nebraska- beyond kind.  I’ve not met one rude person, everyone waves and stops to talk.  Blessings.  They seem simple, but at the end of the day that went all too quickly, when my clothes are stained with spit up, and my hair is falling out of it’s messy pony tail,  this is what it’s about.  It’s not about excess.  It isn’t about more than we need (though we do have more than we need in many ways).  It isn’t about which group of friends you are a part of, or how many vacations you go on a year.  It’s about how we spend our days, day in and day out, with each other.  It’s about our kind words, soft smiles, and oh. em. gee.  the hugs and kisses.  It’s about Max finally learning to fall onto his booty from standing up or almost saying “mama,” but it comes out “na-na.”  It’s about Lexie learning to write an M on her paper, reciting Bible stories to her brother, and showing him the “Moses’s river” she made at the park.

Today, like I mentioned, we met JTom at the park for lunch.  He ate with us, played with Lexie and then headed back to work.  We hung around for an hour longer; Lexie played with a little girl.  Her mama was with her, and being followed by a court appointed supervisor.  The supervisor was wearing a badge, and mama wasn’t wearing much of anything.  Much to my first impression-ed surprise, she was amazing with the kids. She was down in the sand, building a mote and castle with them (which encouraged me to do the same).  She had Lexie and her daughter sharing toys, helping each other.  I probably seemed like a terrible mom, because I just sorta sat back in awe.  This woman, in her skinny jeans and barely there top that matched her platinum blonde hair, seemed educated, funny, and in general like a good mom (not that any of those things would make her a bad mom-don’t misunderstand me.  I was thrown off mostly by the supervisor needing to be there).  She invited us to play with them and their chalk, she made pictures with the girls, and even started acting out Lexie’s favorite story on the playground bridge- The Three Billy Goats Gruff…  I’m not sure where her life  has been or where it is going, but today from 12:00-12:45pm I am pretty sure it was meant to cross paths with ours.  On a day when Lexie and I were both feeling a little lonely, wanting a friend to play with at the park (Dayla and Ryker- we miss you!), she and her girl were a blessing.  Looking back, I am not sure I had quite the same impact on her as she did on me.  But I do pray that whatever her situation is, she can find more joy in park play dates with Kera, than she does in whatever got her supervised visitations.

We have had a beautiful, fun day today.  I cannot wait to see what other blessings are in store for our family in the days to come.  The great thing about blessings, you can’t just sit back and wait for them; you have to put yourself out there, serve others, and get uncomfortable sometimes.  This introvert has learned a lot about that in the last 2.5 years.  (I know this post was rambly.  I warned you in the title!)

How have you been unexpectedly blessed this week?  

Max Week 32/33 Summary.. and a huge photo bomb!

I wrote this entire post, and then it somehow was replaced with a duplicate of another post?!  And now I am feeling very frustrated.  So it’s going to be an abbreviated version of the original.

Max has just finished his 33rd week of life, and will be 34 weeks old (almost 8 months old) on Sunday.

He is eating better; I got his medicine flavored differently, and he takes it no problem now.  He is eating everything except bananas.  They still bother his tummy

Max is standing better, sometimes without holding onto anything, and has become brave enough to take a few steps in the same spot he is standing (in other words, he doesn’t move, just picks up his feet).  He has learned to fall onto his booty instead of his back, so there is a lot less crying going on now!  Woo hoo

He says dada and has started trying to say mama.  But it comes out na-na.  He does this especially when he is hungry/while I’m making his bottle or food.  Since he has started talking, he has stopped all that screeching.  YAY  He is still signing for milk, and has not picked up the sign for “more” or “please” yet, but I haven’t been very consistent.

We are in wonder week 37 territory.  Naps have been short, but he isn’t too terribly cranky… it could be worse.  This is supposedly a tough wonder week, so we will see.  After this mental leap he will be able to categorize things in his environment, like milk and oatmeal are foods, jtom, lexie and I are his family at home vs people he doesn’t recognize, etc.  He will start practicing crawling sometime after this leap (*edit* during the cat nap he refused this afternoon, he was up on his hands and knees rocking… so I guess the urge to start trying has begun).

It’s funny how different he and Lexie are; at this age she was raring to go, 24/7!  She wanted to move, was loud, and wanted to talk to/get attention from everyone she saw.  I remember my friend Whitney saying how determined Lexie was, and that’s true to this day.  Max is more timid, laid back..  and you could say he is lazy.  =)  He is getting more and more excited about standing though; it’s really cute when he starts flapping his arms, smiling, and cheering for himself.  He’s just a really sweet baby and is sensitive; but I do remember Lexie being sensitive too.  She was scared easily by certain toys, noises, or faces.  Max is the same in that aspect.

Lexie Raye
I had so many updates on her before I lost the original post, and now I can’t remember any of them!  Ugh!

We still have engine friends, though the dinosaurs haven’t been back.  She has been showing more interest in dinosaurs, so we may do a unit study on them this summer just for fun.  Oh yea- she has finally stopped fighting baths.  No more screaming or crying hysteria; and I was able, after many weeks, to convince her washing her hair in the sink would be fun!  So now she will lay on the counter and let me wash her hair in the kitchen sink- I told her how my memaw washed my hair like that when I was a little girl.  She really liked that and mentions it every time we wash her hair.  She also enjoys bath time now; I plugged the hole in all her bath toys with hot glue (pinterest is useful, sometimes!)  The black mold that came out of them freaked her out (uh … it would freak me out, too.  but there was no way to keep them cleaned out).  So, that is no longer a problem.

Mommy and “wittle Baby Essie”

Now I know how my parents felt when I sent my water back 7 times at a restaurant because there were “floaties in it.”  She is the same way about anything she deems should not have dirt on/in it.  But playing in or throwing dirt outside, laying down in mud, and eating bird seed are all A-Okay!  

Suddenly, the crying at bedtime every night stopped.  The first night we waited a few hours then went and checked on her.  She had climbed into her rocking chair to sleep.  We always put her down in her bed, but then she moves to the rocking chair.  At bout 8:30 every night I go move her to the bed.  I don’t care if she sleeps in the floor, as long as she stays in her room, off the couch, and out of our bed!  Anyway, so that’s how she has been falling asleep for the last 2 weeks.  Hopefully it is a phase that ends soon, and she will be comfortable falling asleep in her bed again.  We don’t know what freaked her out about her bed, suddenly.  She has started talking about things getting her.  We have prayed with her about it, and emphasize that in our home she is safe; nothing is going to get her and that most of the things she is talking

about are pretend, not real.  I’m sure it is part of a developmental phase; she is starting to realize there are real dangers in the world, but doesn’t know how to rationalize that idea yet.

Spring is finally here!  YAY!  Yesterday we went to the park for a lunch and play date with JTom. After nap we walked to the school and played on the playground there.  This morning we went to the library for story time, then after lunch we went for a run.  It is the first time I have ran since I was pregnant with Max, so it’s been about 16 months…?  Yea.  So, my calves were sore 10 minutes after we got back home!  But a good sore and I enjoyed every minute of my run.  I pushed them in the double jogger.  We went to the disc golf park across from the house.  There is a wide, paved track that goes all around; it’s very wind-y and has lots of inclines and hills.  It was a good workout.  We ran/walked 2 miles.  My goal is to run 6-8 miles a week, more if weather permits.  I love running and it makes me feel good.

proud Mister Bear

Yea, what’s up?

Hey, what’re yooou doing?

Hrm, I landed on my booty … what do I think of this?

Hey, Na-Na… what just happened?


Oh well, I’ll just rest my eyes a bit

Ha- just kidding!

putting her engines to night-night in their “hallway bed Tidmouth Sheds”

patting them and tucking them in to bed

night night engine!

“are you still in there?”

oh there you are!

Are you ready for wake up time?

upside down- washing her hair in the sink

Tomorrow we are going fishing!  Woo Hoo!  As much as JTom and I LOVE to fish, we have never taken Lexie.  So tomorrow is the day!  There is a really nice lake on the west side of town, so that’s where we are headed tomorrow.  This next week we are going to keep tweaking our routine until we find something that really works best.  I’m trying to get up earlier in the mornings to start my day, and be sure everything is picked up and in order before bed (which I’ve always done, but I’ve been slacking lately).

Here are a ton more pictures of our last week or two.


this is a different day than all the other red diaper pics.  This was the first day he stood with the activity table

April 26, 2013

Before Five in A Row: The Little Rabbit

You can find all the printables we used this week at Homeschool Creations.

We had a great week this week!  We really rowed The Little Rabbit for two weeks, like we did the other books we have done.  We really enjoy taking our time.  =)  The great thing is, this is all for fun for us at this age, so there is NO need to hurry.

Lexie really enjoyed doing our activities for The Little Rabbit; later in the week when I told her it was time for activities, her table in the living room suddenly looked like this:

That’s how much she enjoys it!  At the beginning of the week, we began with the tracing sheets.

tracing the word “rabbit”

(I showed her how to trace on the first one, then she did the rest)

so serious!

 We do the tracing sheets for fine motor practice.  At 2.5 years old, I don’t expect anything we are doing to be perfect.  But I do expect her to try, and always do her best.  Here is my favorite activity we do with each book:

Beginning letter sounds.  She got the ALL this time.  I was really impressed; I said I don’t expect the things we are doing to be perfect or correct … but that’s kinda not true.  I do expect the things she has already mastered to be done correctly, or close to it since I know she can.  We all have moments we forget things, or confuse things.  (especially me!)  Anyhow, she got all the beginning letter sounds correctly on the capital sheet, and on the lower case I think she confused the letters b and d.  I have a picture, but I can’t find it anywhere… I may have lost it when I moved it from the phone to the computer.

 This is the matching game… the printables come with several different pictures from the book, some have the name under them, some do not.  They have different activities to go along with each set.  We don’t always use the sheets for their main purpose, simply because she may not be ready for that skill.  But we do use them, even if it is just for identifying the letter, etc.

Add caption

 This was a sorting sheet.  I cut the squares, she glued them in place, either under “flowers” or “animals.”  We talked about each one along the way, and where/if they were in the story.

 This activity was labeling the parts of a turtle.  So, I was really proud of this- I had cut each part out, and laid them out neatly.  Then I touched each one and read aloud what it said.  SO like, I would say “head” and point to the word head.  Then, we looked at the turtle and I asked her what part of the body I was pointing to.  She replied with the correct answer… but then I asked which label we needed and SHE ALWAYS CHOSE THE CORRECT ONE! And after she picked it up, she would say, “/h/ /h/ This one says “head!”  Shut. up.  I was so proud of her.  Some she remembered from me pointing to them, but she identified the ones she didn’t remember by sounding out the first letter and matching it to the body part with the same beginning letter sound.

We also practiced cutting this week.  She got scissors in her spring basket, so we decided to put them to some (more) use.  While getting my B.S.E in early childhood education, we were taught you always put the pencil, crayon, scissors, etc in front of the center of the child’s body.  This way they can grab the object with the hand they prefer to use, versus you putting it in their right or left hand, when that may not be the one they are naturally inclined to use.  Lexie is still on showing a hand dominance.  Looking at the pages above, you may think she is obviously right handed.  But often times she uses her left hand for things, and gets a much better result than when she uses her right.  The pictures below are from her cutting paper using her left hand.  When she used her right, she couldn’t quite get the feel of opening and closing the scissors, and her cuts were short and choppy.  When she used her left, this was the result:

I tried to get a picture of her mouth (but couldn’t)  When she opened the scissors, she opened her mouth as wide as she could, too.  Very cute.

Usually by 2 or 3 children start showing signs of hand dominance.  I am still unsure which Lexie will use.  When handing her a crayon or scissors, I always put them either on the table in front of her, or hand them to her at the center of her body.  Sometimes I even have her put her hands by her side, then take the object from me, to see which she will use.  Sometimes she uses her right, sometimes her left… and sometimes she will grab something with her right, but then move it to her left.  So we will see.  Handedness is an important part of formal writing, which isn’t a stage we are remotely close to. But before a child can be expected to write correctly, or neatly (which is required in kindergarten in public school), they need to have established consistent handedness.  We have quite sometime before she has to be ready for all that.

The book itself was a wonderful little book about a girl who gets a pet rabbit.  She names her buttercup.  Buttercup has seven baby bunnies (which are oh. so. cute) and the little girl names them after the days of the week.  Lexie and I thought this was very creative- we love the days of the week and months of the year!  What’s different about the book, is it’s all done in real photographs instead of hand or computer illustration.  For a little over $2 brand new on Amazon, it is a good addition to your library, we definitely recommend it!

Light Table Fun and Magna Tiles

Well, there was a big day in our house a few weeks ago.  It took J.Tom several nights, and a couple of weekends to complete, but he built the kids (well, just Lexie for now…) a light table!  I had seen them over at Play At Home Mom.  We used several of her tips for building your own light table, found on her site here.

For months I drooled over the light table and all the fun activities it provided.  I couldn’t wait for JTom to get some free time to make her one.  As you probably know, we try to keep the house free of toys that don’t encourage learning or using the imagination.  The light table was a definite YES item!  It is awesome.  A light table can be used to learn about shadow, light, contrast, color, size, shape, and many sensory activities can be done using it.  So, after much hard work and me splurging on a few things to use with the table, here it is


The box, with hardwire outlet for lights
J.Tom working
laying out the lights.  He lined the bottom inside of the table with foil to reflect more light

the table top, upside down.  The bottom is hinged, so the bulbs can be changed 
(for when they go out AND to black lights!  FUN!)


Building with Magnatiles- GREAT investment!

Let’s line them up!


“I will build you a house mommy!”
Her church and coins

The transparent Magna Tiles are a must have, whether you have a light table or not!  They really are so much fun, but I think they are one of those things- either a kid has the personality that loves them, or they could care less.  I would (but probably shouldn’t) say that most boys are going to love them, and some girls may not be very interested in them.  Lexie happens to really enjoy playing with them; she has a huge imagination, can focus on one thing for quite some time, and loves to build.  They are a learning tool (which is the only reason I was okay with spending so much money on them) I was going to put away and only pull out at certain times, but she enjoys them so much, we keep them out at all times!  J.Tom and I both play with them at least once a day with her.  And we all share with Max; at 7.5 months old he is learning about shapes too!  =)

Right now, Amazon has the 100 piece set for 20 free shipping!  I really wish when I’d bought her 38 piece set that they’d had this deal!  Apparently, they sell very quickly, and since they are such a hot item, the price sky rockets when you purchase from anyone other than Valtech (through Amazon) because they aren’t always available through them (yes… I did that much research on them before I purchased  haha).  I paid $50 for the 38 piece set, and would have gotten the 100 piece for $120 if it had been offered at the time; you really need more than 38 pieces to construct really fun, elaborate shapes and “buildings.”  

Valtech, the company that makes and sells Magna-Tiles , is also having a promotion through Amazon right now.  When you buy the 100 piece set above, you get the Magna Tiles Manipulative Guide free!  Just be sure to follow the instructions on how to get it.  Rather than show the Guide as “free” and $0 in your cart, it will take a few dollars off everything in your cart until it totals $10 off (which is the cost of the book).  The book is a great resource, because there are so many ways to use and create with the Magna-Tiles, you couldn’t possibly think of them all.  So the guide helps you be even more creative and intentional during learning.

When you make a purchase following the links in this post, I earn a small amount of money back on your purchase (sometimes only pennies); but this is much appreciated and helps support this blog.
I got the counters (little transparent circles) here.
She enjoys using these with the Magna Tiles.  She sorts them by color, puts them inside the boxes and buildings she makes, etc.

I plan on doing many more posts on our fun with the light table.  So stay tuned!  Also, what kind of fun would you like to see using the light table?


Max Baby Summary: Week 31

Max has been very clingy this week.  His second tooth is here, and he is chewing like crazy with his side gums, so I am wondering if he is getting more teeth?!  But I’m not sure.  For the most part this last week was good.  Minus the screaming.  Oh my!  The screaming.  And it isn’t screaming like, “Oh, I’m mad so I’m screaming.”  Or “feed me now!” (though he does that sometimes while I get a bottle ready.) No, it is just screaming.  For FUN.  A high pitched “Wheeee!” sounding scream.  He was doing this while we ate lunch the other day.  Lexie leaned over, put her hand on my forearm and said, “Mama.  I do not like that sound.”  Oh sweet girl, neither do I!  Hopefully he will grow out of it before long.

He is signing milk all the time now.  While I make his bottle, that little hand is just going to town signing for “milk.”  It’s so sweet.  He has been eating okay, but not great.  Since the first tooth broke through he has good days and bad; he usually is only taking 4-5ounces, but will finish the rest mixed into cereal.  However, because his new meds are working for his reflux, he is able to eat lots of real foods he couldn’t eat before, and now protests plain oatmeal!  The boy wants real food.  haha  So we have been doing lots of avacado, carrots, peas, green beans, pears, apples and blueberries, etc.

His sleep has been better this past week, with only a few short naps.  This weekend he had *perfect* sleep. All. Weekend. Long.  It was amazing, really.  I also found the activity table; it was hidden in the garage.  We started using it this past weekend, and he did really well.  For a baby who doesn’t seem the least bit interested in crawling or moving around at all, really, he stood up on his own for a long time playing at the table.  He hasn’t mastered the art of bending his legs when he falls; so rather than fall onto his bottom … he just topples over like a stiff log.  haha  He doesn’t think it’s very funny, and usually gets really scared when it happens, so I try to avoid it… but the boy needs to learn how to fall onto his booty.  So we are working on bending his knees and bouncing while standing, but those feet are firmly planted; I just don’t think he’s ready for all that yet really.

Considering Mister has been having such good sleep as of late, it is fitting that Lexie has been a little hit or miss.  A few weeks ago, she went from not wanting to go to bed at night (read: saying she is tired, wanting to sleep, but also wanting us to pat her or rock her, which we don’t do because she has always gone right to sleep) to sleeping in her rocking chair.  For some strange reason she has decided she wants to fall asleep in her rocking chair; and despite our attempts at keeping her in the bed, she gets up.  But we have been going in and putting her back in the bed.  The craziest part about all of this is she has been NAPPING.  Consistently.  For an entire week!  I think this is partially because she is done teething.  All her two year molars are in, and now she is back to eating and sleeping well.  We considered taking the rocking chair out of the room, but I think we will just wait and see how long this phase lasts.  Maybe she is just ready for a big bed… I am not sure.  The 2.5 year mark usually is a developmental milestone for children when you generally see added clinginess, sleep disruptions, and new fears develop.  She is definitely more clingy to both JTom and me, and has mentioned being afraid a few different story characters were going to “get me.”  We have reassured her nothing is going to get her; she doesn’t mention this at bed time or anything, just sometimes while playing alone in her room.

Moni, Shelby, and Lilly watching us play doll house

Her imagination is wild!  We still have engines that are beyond wearing out their welcome.  haha  I think I tell them things 200 times a day. “Will you tell me engines what I am eating?  Will you tell my engines they need to sleep at nap time?  Will you tell my engines they need to stay on the swing set and leave Scarlet alone?…..”  Oh my.  Then, the other night we had dinosaurs.  On the ceiling.  The engines go everywhere with us; she even includes them in her stories during stretching at gymnastics.  They really like the museum.  As long as I don’t have to feed them, I guess they can stay.  😉

Right now, Lexie is really into reading her devotional and Bible.  I mean … like they are attached at her hip.  As a matter of fact, the devotional is falling apart, and she can read every day, word for word, from January until today.  Not kidding.  That’s what we read for every nap and bedtime.  It is her favorite.  She is now acting like a little Mama to Max and her dolls.  When Max cries she says, “Oh!  Let me go see what is wrong to Max.  Max, what is wrong to you?  Tell me why.”  haha  I am not sure why she says “to” instead of “what,” but I’m sure she will figure it out soon enough.  Her new favorite words are “fantastic!” and “earlier.”  Hearing her say earlier is hilarious.

chewing on a pear
dyeing Easter eggs … a week late  =/
painting her fingernails

We visited a church this past Sunday.  It was really nice; it reminded me of my church growing up, which was a Full Gospel church.  This is a non denominational church, it is small but has many young families.  I am excited to maybe visit it again this coming Sunday.  J.Tom was raised Presbyterian, so it is different than he is used to.  But I actually felt like I was in church.  For the past 5 years in Hot Springs I just didn’t get what I needed from our church; provided I didn’t give much back to them in way of serving.  I never felt like it was home.  The sermons were more like the new school way of thinking-motivational sermons or get people involved in serving the church, but let’s not talk about sin, salvation, the devil, or how to grow in Christ.  That’s how I felt, anyway.  The church we visited Sunday had an amazing sermon, though a little long, and a great worship service.  Lexie walked into children’s church like she owned the place.  haha  She enjoyed herself (although she was supposed to be in the nursery since she isn’t 3 yet..)  I don’t know if we will visit a different church this week or try this one again.  We will just pray about it and see. We just hope to find a church that gives us what we both need, and that we can be a serve as well.

How did you find your church home? Is it one you grew up in or one you found after marriage, college, children…?


Dear Lexie

It has been a while since I did a Dear Lexie post.  Looks like now I need to add Dear Max posts, too.  Tonight was a fitting night for this selection on my list of topics to blog.  It turns out today was national siblings day, so that created a bit of a somber night for me.  J.Tom is out of town until tomorrow, and the kids are in bed asleep.  All I want to do is go hold them (but Lexie has been feeling insecure the past few nights, crying a bed time, so i def think going in to hold her would make that situation much worse.  Tonight she didn’t cry, and went right to sleep).  My thoughts of my brother always bring me to a sad place.  I just miss him so much, and I feel like I forget more of him every day.  I’ve tried to write things down that I’ve remembered over the past 3.5 years, but I know I can’t remember it all.  Anyhow, on top of those feelings and just the need to write something down, I decided it was a good night for a Dear Lexie post.

Dear Lexie,
Tonight, as I was working on some Bible scriptures for us to talk about in the coming weeks, I came across a verse that stopped me in my tracks.  The minute I read it, I thought to myself  “If there were only one thing I could say to her for the rest of her life, this is it.”

The section was titled “Shining as Stars

Therefore my dear friends, as you have always obeyed- continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.  Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.

In which you shine like stars in the universe.

Please don’t be afraid to be different.  Please don’t be afraid to shine like a star.  Not a movie star, or a music star, or any star of the flesh, but a star in which God crafted every prism of light, every twinkle and every color for a purpose.  His purpose.  Don’t let anyone ever make you feel less than good enough; God created you piece by piece in His image so that you may one day live in His kingdom.  When you are judged (and you will be) or talked down to (and you will be) for your faith, your convictions, or your kindness, remember you are a shining star, and that despite what others may say or think, there are people who love you for you.  And one day, you will find someone, like your daddy and I found each other, that loves you for your love of Christ.  For the love that pours out of your every pore.  For the funny personality, the smart mind, the beautiful spirit that you share every day.

As your mama, I am going to do everything I can to mold your character into a Christ loving and following young lady.  Never be afraid to go against society.  Society is full of evil, malice, and selfishness; and you my sweet girl are non of those things.  Don’t hide in a closet, of course, but arm yourself with the Word of God, and ask that he arm your heart and mind that you might live the life he has envisioned for you, to do His work.  Your daddy and I are trying to build that foundation now, and I pray that we take more right steps than we do wrong; that we may hide His Word in your heart so you have the protection you need in life.

Grow.  Grow every day.  When your life feels stagnant, open your Bible and read.  Do something good for another person in need.  Make cookies for your neighbor.  Volunteer to work with small children who may not get love at home.  And in everything you do, seek Him and He will fill your life full of blessings.  He loves you for who you are, but despite this He wants you to be like Jesus.  Kind, compassionate,  patient, loving.  Those are big shoes to fill, I know.  But today, when you put on your new “summer play, pool shoes,” you looked down and said, “Oh! I have shoes like Jesus’s shoes!”  And my sweet Lou, you were made to fill those shoes.

I can’t protect you from every evil, every hurt, every harsh word. But I can prepare you for it. I can show you how to love, and I can lead by example.   I wish I had always had a love for reading the Bible as I have now.   I was blessed enough to fall in love with your daddy, who had a strong Christian faith and lead me to wanting an even stronger relationship with Christ. But not everyone is so fortunate. Some people settle for less, because they think they will never find someone who shares the same beliefs, the same convictions.  Just know this- you were created by the Master Creator, and in His plan for you there lies happiness and love; if you strive to live close to his heart and in the light of his Grace, you will be blessed on earth beyond your comprehension, and have an everlasting life in Heaven.

“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.”
― Max Lucado

This is so true. Don’t chase boys or men or love. There is no need to go searching for love; when you establish the foundation for love through a relationship with Christ, a love on earth will come.  The same goes with friends. Not everyone will be kind, or understand who you are. A nd that is okay. You don’t need everyone to like you, life is not a popularity contest. Try not to fall into the ways of the world, for the world is corrupt and unkind.  Instead, surround yourself with Godly people, show them the bright, shining star you are. Set the example so that others might want to follow. And above all, give glory to God; for without him we would all have and be nothing.

I love you Lou,

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