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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Activity: Thankful Tree

Part One: I traced Eli's hand and arm to make the tree trunk.
I lightly drew a circle on the paper so Eli would know where to put leaves.I cut out 20 leaves for Eli to glue onto his tree.

I told Eli to smile for me and this is what he did. Silly boy.
That's better.
I tried very hard to just let him put the leaves on how he wanted and allow him to be creative. And here's his tree!
Part Two: Write on each leaf things we're thankful for.

Give thanks. Always.

"Give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

1 Thessalonians 5:18

My thankful list:

Beautiful fall weather. Safety in deer accident (we hit a deer Sunday night). Place to stay during this transition. Prospective job. Food. Family. Friends. Wonderful husband. Clothes. Dreams. Joy. Shoes. Warmth. Blogging friends. Wisdom through books. Hot tea. A good night's sleep. Cozy blankets. Sunshine. Quality time with kids. Quiet evenings. Dates with Kevin. Laughter....

It's easy to be thankful for the good things in life, but what about the not-so-good? Here is a list of things that have been challenging me lately and my reflections on how I can still be thankful.

* We REALLY want to get settled into a place of our own BUT God is teaching us to be patient and follow HIS plan.

* I'm anxious to get our things back--our clothes, shoes, and kitchen stuff--BUT God is reminding me that I don't need them.

* We are anxious to have an income especially around holiday time BUT God is reminding s that we can bless family and friends in other ways.

* I wish we could set up a Christmas tree and decorations, BUT this time is teaching us how to simplify.

* The deer accident is at a really inconvenient time in life when we're already busy with decisions BUT God was and is our mighty protector. And He is reminding us that we are not in control. HE is.

* I so miss high speed Internet BUT God is helping me finally learn to spend less time on the computer anyway.

* I very much miss my kitchen supplies like a mixer, whisk, and spices, BUT God is reminding me not to take little things like that for granted.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My favorite baby carrier

I've been wanting to do this review sometime, and then when I saw on my friend Sharon's blog today that it's International Babywearing Week (Nov. 12-18), I knew I just had to get this posted today!

We've tried a sling and an Infantino (Bjorn type) carrier. But I just could not figure out the sling--when Eli was a newborn, the sling seemed to swallow him up, and when he was older and I tried him sitting up facing out it seemed like his legs were completely squashed in there. The only way I could kind of get the sling to work was with him on my hip, but it never felt secure enough for me to let go. So most of the time we used the Infantino front pouch carrier, but it always seemed to slip on me so it wasn't snug, and it hurt my back. Not to mention that once Eli was 15 lbs or so, he was just too heavy to carry in it. So before Hannah was born we looked into other baby carriers, and we decided on the Ergo Baby Carrier.

It had great reviews and looked like it would really work for us all the way from infancy through toddlerhood. Instead of the weight pulling on your shoulders, there's a thick band around the waist, so the weight is support there instead of your shoulders and back. It's very comfortable to wear! There are only two buckles, so it's quick and easy to get baby in and out. And it adjusts so Hannah is snug and tight right against me. Newborns fit in this carrier sideways, and even then she was nice and snug. She was so tiny in there, most people didn't even know I was carrying a baby! Then when she was about 4 months old, she could then switch so she saddled up against me instead of sitting sideways. I'll admit, there were a couple months then where she didn't like it, but I guess she got over it because now she loves it. AND there's a sleeping hood for baby, or a shade if you have a newborn. And there are enough small pockets on it for me to fit my keys, wallet, and a burp cloth.

This carrier can be worn on your front, hip, or back. The hip position felt horrible on me, but it works well on either the front or back. And even Eli can ride in it! He can still be worn on both the front and back, even as a toddler. We don't do this often, because he is an independent toddler, but in a pinch we have used it as an option.

Take a look at the pictures...
testing it out when we first got it
This was a Boston trip in which the sleeping shade was great for while Hannah napped.
This was a zoo trip and we started off with Hannah in the carrier...
...but then we did a flip flop of the kids so Eli could be up to see the zoo exhibits
someone's getting sleepy
worn on our New Hampshire vacation for long hikes
For day trips it worked just fine to wear a backpack in addition to the carrier.
We don't just use a baby carrier for special occasions. I most frequently use it every week when I go grocery shopping and need Eli in the cart. Every week the same cashier guy tells me my back must be hurting me because I'm wearing Hannah around and she's 9 months old now, and every week I tell him, "Nope, not at all. It's a good carrier!"

So there ya have it! My lovely review of the Ergo Baby Carrier.

Letter of the day: B

Last week I was thinking about all the crafts I had been doing with Eli and knew that we wouldn't always have so many activities to do every day. But I was just so excited about all we could do for Fall that I crammed 'em all in. Now that we've done most of them (except for our Thanksgiving projects next week) I sat down with my planner and came up with a "schedule" I'm going to try to follow to offer Eli variety in his activities and learning:

Monday--educational activity
Tuesday--kitchen project (bake something or help me prepare dinner)
Wednesday--creative craft (play dough, coloring, painting, etc)
Thursday--library day (storytime/pick out books)
Friday--structured craft (like the sunflower, scarecrow, and fall wreath)

Of course if there's something else going on that day, that's totally fine, but this gives us structure on days that we're just home with nothing to do.

So for our first day of "educational activity" I did a project with the letter B. I looked through my baggie of magazine cutouts and found more pictures for the letter B than any other letter, so we just started with that one. I found a few more pictures in the weekly circular and other ads, and the project was ready to begin!

picture cutouts: ball, boots, birthday/balloon, banana, baby, bear, bike, bacon
which picture next...?sticking to paper. next to each picture I wrote the corresponding word.
Once Eli had all the pictures glued on, then I had him find the letter B in each of the following papers. Then we cut them out and added them to our collage. Letter search #1.
Letter search #2Letter search #3just wants to go show daddy!All done! Now I'd like to keep them and put them together in a little book as we continue to go through each letter of the alphabet.

Activity: Fingerprint Tree

After doing several crafts with Eli I realized that I need to have a good balance between activities that allow a good amount of freedom and creativity (i.e. painting) and activities that require specific instructions (i.e. gluing paper crafts). I had remembered seeing this project online and decided it would be a good one for Eli. So this was last week's craft.

Fingerprint Tree--for an autumn tree use orange, yellow, and/or red paint instead of green

I really thought Eli would just smear the paint all around instead of doing single fingerprints, but after just a couple demonstrations, he caught right on and did fingerprints! However, the perfectionist in me had to help as I tried to show him how create a tree shape by adding fingerprints in a concentrated area. So we worked together on this, though afterward I realized I could have drawn lightly a big oval area and told him to fill it with fingerprints. Just another idea. We used yellow and orange paints and then halfway through mixed them together to make some brown. I think it turned out really nice, and as always he had loads of fun!

ready to start!
This is when he realized his fingers were messy and wanted to be done.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Burn some energy indoors...

...with a DANCE PARTY!!! Now that we're back in Iowa, we have use of my old keyboard that I left behind when I left for college and moved on with life. I don't have any sheet music and I can't play without notes to look at but boy, have we been having fun with it! It has all kinds of rhythms (wow, that is THE hardest word to spell, took a lot of tries for spell checker to accept) and songs on it, so we just push PLAY and away we go DANCING around the house! We do waltzes, marches, slow songs, mostly fast songs, and even bluegrass. It is soo much fun, we all get into it, even Kevin! Here are some pictures, though after awhile I decided we just needed some video for this one!

Mr. DJ
dancing with Bear
Hannah's in on the action too!
one of Eli's favorite things in life right now is to run around with his pants off!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Activity: Sunflower

Yesterday's "project" (have to call it that instead of "craft" because Eli pronounces it "crap", haha): Sunflower Paper Plate Craft

Preparation: cut out 10 flower petals (actually, I ended up needing 3 more), 2 eyes, a nose, and a mouth. For this project instead of using sunflower seeds because we didn't have any, I just cut out a large brown circle.

cutting the petals, 8 at once
supplies laid out (plus one petal glued so I could see how well it would stick)
the face is ready
in progress...someone's being silly
all done!

another one of our favorite parts, showing daddy the creation!