Tuesday, July 19, 2011

homemade fun

As Moriah has grown, I've really enjoyed providing opportunities for her to play in helpful and fun ways! As a former teacher, I'm always curious as I read about developmental stages and milestones, which I know isn't the case for everyone :) I've enjoyed reading a few books that give me ideas from time to time, and also enjoy browsing blogs and Pinterest for other suggestions. The following ideas have been Moriah's favorites, and were all easy and very frugal (if not free!) Maybe your little one would enjoy this sort of fun too...

Our most recent fun game involves an empty milk carton and clothespins (or "doll pins"... without a metal spring). I simply cut an opening in the side of the milk carton and removed the lid. I also covered the edges of the hole with masking tape so that they wouldn't scrape Moriah as she reached her hand in and out. The object of this game is for your little one to drop a clothespin in the top of the milk carton and then remove it at the bottom after it fall through from the hole in the side. Remember babies learn in simple ways!

This is a helpful activity for your little child's fine motor skills, and fitting the clothespin through the relatively small hard is easier said than done for tiny hands. I made this for Moriah about a month ago (or more) when she was 10 1/2 months old or so. I showed her how to do it a few times (for maybe 10 minutes or so?!), and helped her by tipping the carton so that it was easier for her. She didn't have much success with it then, independently or not, but LOVED to hold and carry around the clothespins. While we've had it within reach of her since, she hasn't noticed it much and maybe played with it one or two others time at the most. Then, we had friends babysit this weekend while Matt and I went on a lunch date. They told us that Moriah crawled over to the milk carton and dropped the clothespin in right away to show them! I was shocked and hadn't seen her "new trick" in person at that point. When our friends left, Moriah was very interested in her new found skill and played with the milk carton and clothespins over and over uninterrupted. She's been happy to play with them for the last couple of days as well, and works independently now. She likes it most when I cheer for her after the clothespin falls in, and concentrates to complete the task.

It's amazing to watch as she's just at the point of indepedence while still being challenged a bit. (If you're a current or former educator you'll recognize this as Vygotsky's "Zone of Proximal Development" which I just checked on wikipedia to make sure my memory hadn't failed me!) This is right when learning happens and mastery is being gained. Matt and I have both shared that we can almost see the wheels spinning in her mind as she plays with toys like this. I originally found this idea here, from The Imagination Tree blog.

Monday, July 18, 2011

battling anxiety

As Matt and I have discussed his recent anxiety, we've been graciously reminded that thankfulness to the Lord helps us combat anxious thoughts. Paul explains in Philippians 4:5-7...
5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Why thankfulness? In finding ourselves thankful to the Lord, we are recalling His past goodness to us. We are reminding ourselves that as He was faithful in the past, He is unchanging, and will be faithful even now in the midst of any circumstance that might otherwise be causing us to worry.

For Matt's belated birthday gift I made him the following gift which I hope will be helpful to our whole family. On each rock we are recording the small detailed ways that the Lord does indeed answer prayers all around us! Many times we are able to remember the ways the Lord worked in big things (meeting our spouse, providing a job, helping during a move, etc.) but we overlook His care in details that are easier to forget. My hope, is that we will write on our rocks His work and His answers in our midst. When our glass vase gets full, I'll transfer those answers into our journal and discard the rocks, buying more blank rocks to record more of the Lord's work. Sure, we could start with a journal and skip the rocks altogether, but a visual reminder is sometimes just what I need.

Here's the process:

the supplies I found at Hobby Lobby

some of the more "monumental" answered prayers of the past to start us out

I originally saw the idea for a Blessings Jar here, (at I Can Teach My Child) and thought it might be a great family tradition for the holidays. I hope to use this idea with Moriah and our children someday as well, in a more family worship way, in a living room etc. For now, Moriah would eat the rocks, throw the rocks, and break the vase so it will stay on the dresser in our bedroom instead :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

things I love about Moriah... right now :)

I've been reminded lately that there are many small and seemingly insignificant details about life with Moriah that I love! I don't want to forget these moments, and while they aren't huge developmental milestones they bring me such joy as her mom. I hope you don't mind my sharing. Again we praise the Lord that I'm with her and can enjoy each of these small things throughout the day. This is just what the Lord desired for us as a family, and we are thankful.

~her serious "ma-ma!" if she's restless as she falls asleep and thinks she needs me... this often follows the sound of her pacifier as it falls to the ground
~the click of her little tongue as she plays from time to time
~her sweet cuddles with her new tiny baby doll my mom gave her for her birthday (we're trying to capture a picture or video of her, it's SO adorable!)
~her enthusiastic grunts when she's ready to eat or sees something in particular that she'd like to taste... yesterday it was a peach smoothie, oftentimes lately it's been watermelon or at dinner cheese cubes or black olives (we're working on sign language and manners, but things are more urgent for her at the moment and she'll have none of it!)
~her love for dogs as we saw when she played with Grandma Nancy's Yorkie, Lucy and Grandma Theresa's German Shepherd, Pyper

~a mischievous sideways smile she flashes each time she's pulled up and wants us to notice her accomplishment!

~the funny thought process she must go through as she sees a bow lying around (because she's pulled it out) and tries to lay it on her head, knowing that's where it goes, but not sure how to make it stay

~her attempts to "learn" body parts with me as we name them and point... I think her favorite is "tongue" which she readily sticks out and grins

Monday, July 11, 2011

a book lover in the making...

If you've ever been to our home, you have no doubt that Matt and I both LOVE books :) While we own many books that we haven't read yet (not for lack of interest I assure you), I think it's safe to say that either he or I have read most books on our shelves. There are even a precious few that we've both enjoyed :) Oftentimes one of us will try to "sell" our most recent favorite read to the other, but we've come to terms with our differing tastes lately and instead concede to read lines, paragraphs, or pages out loud to satisfy the desire to share a good thing! As a result of our love of books, Ms. Moriah can't help but find herself to be a book lover too, right?! I know it's never good to force interests, but a love of reading can be tailored to any age or personality so while we wait to discover what she'll enjoy on her own we're having fun finding our own favorites as we read to her. These are her most loved reads lately...

All Asleep... I picked this up a Half Price Books soon after Moriah was born and loved the rhyming text (I am a former Kindergarten teacher who could talk for awhile about the pre-reading benefits of rhyme!), and whimsical illustrations. This is the perfect bedtime story which we read nearly every night. Moriah's favorite parts? When I read "Whisper softly, take one last peek the babies are all fast asleep" in a whisper voice!

Big Red Barn... a classic! We don't own this book as a board book (it is stashed away in our storage unit with my farm animal books in a bin), but did enjoy it from the library. I renewed it many, many times as it was the longest book Moriah has been engaged by to date.

Am I Big or Little? I found this book in my early days of teaching at Tuesday Morning while browsing with my mom. I think I was initially attracted by the red headed little girl. Now I love reading this sweet story to my own little red head :) The little girl in this book is asking "Am I big or little?" to her mom who explains that while she's big enough to do some things, she's still little enough for others. So sweet! It reminds me as I read to enjoy the moments now with Moriah as my baby before she's all grown up and these days are behind us.

Teddy Bear Teddy Bear... another Half Price Books find :) Moriah likes the rhyme I think, and also seems to enjoy the illustrations (she's even giggled while reading with me). I remember singing this song and jump roping... the final pages of the book explain the motions to the jump rope chant which we'll enjoy in a few years I'm sure!

A Good Day... we spend a lot of time at Half Price Books and before Moriah was born I was very concerned that I didn't have a board book library for her, so I started buying them frequently! This book caught my eye because it was written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes who is a favorite children's book author and illustrator (look him up... Chrysanthemum, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Owen, Julius Baby of the World, etc.). This story is simple and sweet and the illustrations remind me a lot of wood carvings which enchant me.

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes came from a Scholastic Book Order (which is miss from my teaching days!) before Moriah was born. What a sweet book it is full of baby illustrations portraying children all over the world. In spite of their different homes and clothing each baby has "ten little fingers and ten little toes"... at the end enjoy reading about the next baby born "who was mine all mine"

As I started this post, the list of favorite read alouds grew and grew. I'll have to add another follow up post in the days to come with more of our most loved books. I'm so thankful that Moriah enjoys reading and hope that she will continue to be a reader throughout her life. Happy reading!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

learning lessons

Most recently Matt and I have found ourselves in the middle of hard lessons that the Lord is kind and patient to teach. Our prayer is that we are learning as the Lord teaches, even if our learning is slower than we'd wish. Since moving to Louisville we've found ourselves enjoying life "on our own". We've been able to live comfortably in our own apartment decorating it and enjoying it just the way we've chosen. We've been thankful for many blessings from the Lord during our time in Louisville, including stable jobs which have provided for us to be living debt free. We've been diligent in the ways we're able, and have been proud of ourselves. And that is problematic. While we do acknowledge the Lord's providence and goodness, we've also remained proud of our hard work and accomplishments, as if we've done these things on our own. This is most certainly NOT the case! The Lord is the giver of all good things, and nothing has come to us if not from his hand. Such an attitude also causes great pressure... that we must keep up and maintain these things. Matt especially has been overwhelmed by this pressure lately. While he may have been a worrier for much of his life, these days have been much harder. Anxiety had consumed him in some ways (the Lord however keeps us all in his care), and he had not been sleeping many nights. His weight loss over the last few months is also obvious, though I didn't realize it since it was a gradual process. After a night without sleep things became very difficult. The Lord was good and protected us all, no one was never in any physical danger though emotionally speaking it seemed terrifying. Many good and godly friends supported us with prayer, phone calls, and company. Currently Matt is doing well. After our week of vacation with family in Kansas City, we returned to Louisville well rested. Matt has been talking with our family practitioner who is pursuing testing to determine high levels of calcium in Matt's blood. This physical problem exacerbates emotional ones, the doctor explained. In the meantime we're learning...

Independence and making it "on our own" is not all it's cracked up to be. When difficulty comes we're also "on our own" in a sense as we're distant from family who know and love us most. (We are so thankful to the Lord for the many good friends who are with us here in Louisville and offer endless support. He is good at all times and has shown Himself though them most recently.) While everyone has difficulties of one nature or another, we should never assume the rough parts of others are enough to keep us at a distance. No one has it all figured out! We realize that to rely on anything more than the Lord is idolatry. The Lord does provide family for us all, these people have known us longer than anyone else (even our spouse if you're recently married like us!). They have known us longer, and in some ways DO in fact know us better. They support they offer is indeed unconditional and comes graciously. How arrogant we were to think that being "on our own" would in some ways be better. Sacrificing autonomy (which can be selfish autonomy for me many times) may pay big dividends in sweet love and support in the most difficult days.

We're thinking about these things and the wise words we've heard from Wendell Berry while discussing these issues with him. The Lord has the wisdom and freedom to calling us as He sees fit in the future. We are more open than ever to humbly considering what it may look like to return to a place that is more familiar than new. We are thankful that the Lord teaches us every day.