Sunday, April 28, 2013

Screen Free Week

Avoid this:

Join us for this:

We will be participating in Screen Free Week this upcoming week.  Now, in truth, this is more an exercise for me than for my children.  In an average week, my oldest two kids get roughly one hour of iPad time, and perhaps one or two half hour shows...less than a half hour a day.  My 19 month old gets almost none.  We don't own a television, so the only screen they really use is the iPad, or occasionally my laptop.

It is a different story for me...I have a smart phone, an iPad and a laptop.  I am on them WAY more than I would like to be.  Am I the only one who finds that every time I put down those devices, I find another reason I need to look at them again?  I need to find a recipe, a doctor's phone number, access my calendar, e-mail the preschool seems like everything I do nowadays involves a screen.

So this week I will be cutting back a LOT on my screen time.  I will still check my e-mail twice a day, access my calendar, use my phone GPS and I will probably have to communicate via texting with Safe Families, but I am going to try to leave it at that.  (oh, the book I am reading that is on my iPad Kindle app...oh technology, you are everywhere!  I suppose my book will wait)  So wish me luck- and if you need me, call me...the old fashioned way!  See you next week!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A (Thurs)Day in the Life

I am always fascinated by "Day in the Life" features where different people share how they spend their day.  I thought I would do one now and then, in case any of you also find it interesting.  Blogger friends- I hope you will think about posting one of your days sometime soon!

This was from a day, a while ago, shortly after we started hosting our first child, Little Man.  Not all our days are quite so hectic, but they all have their crazy moments for sure!

5:45- Awake to shrieks.  Lay in bed, considering if it they will actually do harm to each other, or if I can ignore them for a few more minutes.  The door (freshly painted) starts getting kicked, so I go in there.  I lay each down in bed, cover them up, tell them to lay quiet and go back to sleep, I will see them in the morning.  Close the door, three start crying, one is pleading with them to be quiet.  When will our carpet arrive so they don't all have to sleep in the same room?!  Tomorrow?  Not soon enough. 

6:00- I pull myself out of bed, put on my clothes, brush my teeth and check my faceboook and blog roll simultaneously.  Say a quick prayer, take a deep breath, and go to get them up.  I am rewarded with relatively happy faces, and four good hugs.  I nurse Little Bee and talk with Lego, who tells me he is sleeping the whole day away...and never getting up (thinking my introverted child has had about enough togetherness for a while...note to self...find him a place to be alone).

6:30- Scrambled eggs, toast, put in the laundry, empty the dishwasher, chat on the phone with our little man's mother, get four kids dressed, clean up breakfast, sweep floor, wipe off table.  Set Lego up with some Legos alone in my room.  Change another diaper.

8:00- Start homeschool for the day- feeling optimistic, I have planned a week of lessons that everyone can enjoy on their own level.  Little Man needs to learn his colors, so we are studying the rainbow, and Lego is learning about synonyms and starting our ABC geography book we just got.  We do "circle time" and sing a color song, and then get out plastic eggs I filled with different things.  We try to find which eggs contain the same thing by shaking them.  We play a few shake and shake and shake and stop games.  Little Man needs a lot of sensory and speech activities.  So far so good.

8:20- Try to sit down with Lego to work on synonyms.  He is loving it, the other three are climbing on us, helping themselves to water, spilling the water all over the floor.  Flower calls Little Man a mean name, heads to time out where I forget about her for 20 minutes.  Oops.

8:45- Get out some Fruit Loops and pipe cleaners.  We sort them by color into a muffin tin and then string them onto the pipe cleaners.  I string some on for Little Bee to take off, Flower and Lego use theirs to make patterns, I sit down with Little Man and name the colors he is choosing.  All is well, much sugar is consumed, many loops are crunched.  Sweep floor again.

9:00- Lego and Flower escape to my room together to play more Legos.  Younger two attempt to beat down the door to get in.  I collect them and sit down to play with our bin of red objects.  Bee finds an egg shaker I had missed, opens it up and dumps popcorn kernels all over the kitchen floor.  Sweep floor again.

9:30- Put on some music and check facebook on my iPad.  Several friends have posted about the upcoming winter storm tomorrow.  Oh no...please do not delay my carpet delivery.  I don't care if they bring it by horse-drawn sleigh, I need that carpet.  

10:00- Bee loses it.  Put her down for nap.  Wonder if this will be the only nap she takes today?  How will I get Little Man to sleep while she is awake?  Hmmm.  Read Brown Bear and Hungry Caterpillar with Little Man, teach him 5 Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree...nice moment!

10:30- Sip some of my cold coffee, call a friend and catch up for a few minutes.  Aaahh.  Swap laundry over.  Doors slamming...investigate...big kids are opening the door but not letting Little Man in.  Leave Lego to play by himself, get out playdough for Little Man and Flower.  He LOVES playdough!  He makes me a bunch of "birfday caaasss."

11:00- Put a loaf of bread dough in the oven.  Swap laundry.  Clean up playdough, get out cups, dirt and grass seed to plant some seeds.  Head out to the shed to get the potting soil.  Found evidence of a lot of mice, but no soil.  Bummer...have to go to the store before we can plant our seeds and bulbs (we'll see how brave I am feeling this afternoon).  Scrapped that plan and got out cheese, crackers, yogurt and granola for lunch.  

11:45- Cleaned up lunch, swept floor again (yahoo), swapped laundry.  Promised Lego he could play on the iPad if he watched Bee while I got Little Man to sleep.  Held a near-hysterical boy for 30 minutes until he finally conked out.  Phew. Changed Bee's diaper, played DragonBox on the iPad with Lego for a while.  Folded some laundry.  Reheated my morning coffee.  Picked up some toys.

1:00- Whipped up a batch of salt dough while the girls colored.  Defrosted some soup for dinner. Read Lego's geography ABC book and made an archipelago and an atoll out of salt dough.  Microwaved the dough and then painted them blue and green.  This was a lot of fun!  And he is finally old enough that painting is not a full body experience!  Got Bee to lay down for a second nap/rest.

2:00- Chatted with Little Man's mother on the phone.  Read a few chapters of a Magic Treehouse book to Lego and Flower.  

2:30- Little ones woke up, changed diapers, got shoes on and headed to our local inflatable playplace to meet a friend.  They had a great time, and I got to chat a bit with my friend, in between running around looking for all the kids.  I knew they couldn't leave without me (the place tags you like some high security joint, and you have to prove ownership of your kids before you leave!).  One small peed-pants incident...rather funny actually.  Head home.

5:00- Four baths.  Lotioned and oiled up the little ones.  Put soup on the stove, meatballs in the oven.

6:00- Daddy is home!  Ate dinner, brushed teeth and shuttled them into bed.  Sat with Little Man while he cried himself to sleep.

7:30- Four sleeping kids.  Ahhh!  Did a few dishes, used the computer for a bit, played a board game with Hubby, folded a load of laundry and called it a day.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Arrivals

Look who has been building a nest on our window!  Funny enough, she chose to build the nest on TOP of the birdhouse we put out.  We are very excited, because it is against our window which means we can spy on her a bit.  Flower and I spent a long time running from window to window, watching mama bird pick up moss and grass in her beak, and then bring it back to the nest, sit on it and wiggle around to get it just right.  Here's hoping she lays eggs in there and we get to experience some baby robins up close- that would be so fun!

In other news, we have another child from Safe Families staying with us for a week or so...and possibly for the odd weekend now and then.  Another 2 year old, this time a little boy.  Once again he appears to be quite adorable, and we are looking forward to getting to know him, and his mother.

I had a phone call from Little Man's mom yesterday, out of the blue.  He was our first SFFC child, and she says that he is doing well, and that she'd love to get together sometime.  Not sure if that will happen for sure or not, but it was wonderful to hear that he is well, and so nice of her to think to call us.  We actually got this latest kiddo because I responded to a post for a "very sweet 2 year old boy in our city who had been placed with a safe family before" just to make sure that it was not our Little Man being placed again.  It was a different child, but I just had to be sure! I also heard that Little Miss and her mom are doing alright, too.  Good to hear- we think about them often! 

Anyways...yesterday's gorgeous sunshine has given way to rain today, but we have the usual preschool morning run followed by an indoor playdate here today, so it should be a good one.  Have a wonderful day everyone!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Garden Journal #1

It is that time of year again!!  Despite the fact that we got measurable snow on April 19th, we've been working away in the gardens for weeks.  We have been busy prepping our beds, watching our bulbs pop up and starting seedlings to plant when it warms up.

Two weekends ago we made a big, exciting purchase...A ROTOTILLER!  Wahoo.  Hubby diligently tilled 30 bags of compost, plus some compost of our own, into our three backyard beds.  He has laid the watering pipes and things are looking good.  Last year the maple tree dropped thousands of seeds before we tilled and we had a very successful crop of maple seedlings.  Happily, we got the tilling in this year before the maple tree has even thought about seeds, so hopefully we will avoid so many maple weeds this year.

Last week the kids and I planted a few flowers of our own, refilled the sandbox and added some more stones to our patio.  They have been enjoying their "mud pie kitchen" every day that has been warm enough to be outside.  We kicked off the season by roasting hotdogs and marshmallows over a fire in the backyard.

This weekend we added two new areas to our garden!  First, we added a tiny little bed for rhubarb between our shed and garden bed.  It will take a year or two to establish, but I am already dreaming of rhubarb pie!

And speaking of pie...the other new addition is a berry patch!  Hubby got a wonderful, early birthday present of 6 blueberry bushes.  We made a new bed in the beautiful, sunny front yard.  We tilled in potting soil and pine mulch, as the soil needs to be very acidic for berries.  Our baby blueberries should be very happy in there, and we added 12 strawberry plants to keep them company.  High hopes for this one!

We have carrots, peas and garlic in the ground.  Our berry bushes and plants are in the ground as well as the rhubarb.  Our apple trees now in their third year, are looking beautiful- full of buds.  We fertilized them recently, so we are hoping for a good year of apples.  Lettuce and greens of all sorts are growing inside at the moment- should be able to plant them outside soon.  So things are rolling along and we are just waiting for Spring to come and stay.

Hubby and I are going to tend to our blisters and take it easy now...we put in a LOT of work today and we are going to sleep well tonight!

Thursday, April 18, 2013


One of my children (who shall remain nameless) is very resistant to going outside.  Once he gets out there, he usually has a decent time, but he would MUCH rather stay inside with his books and puzzles, especially when it is cold out.

Last year, however, I hit on an idea that had him racing to get his boots on so we could go outside.  We went on a drain hunt.  We walked up and down the street looking for street drains.  On this day, snow was piled in the gutters, melting and running to the drains.  The kids had a total blast watching leaves travel down the gutters to the drain, damming and un-damming the gutters with wet leaves, throwing chunks of snow into the drain.  It was a lot of fun.  I told them a story about my sister getting her shoe stuck in a drain once.  They loved the story and have retold it about 15 times (it gets more serious each time!)

Since then, we have gone on to find several more drains in our neighborhood (THREE at the park across the street), and the holy grail of drain enthusiasts...a three feet wide, trapezoidal drain that you can see into (you can even see the round concrete sewer junction inside).  They notice them when we are driving in the car as well.

With all the rain and flooding we've had this week, we all donned our wellies (rain boots) and headed out to play in the gutters today :)  We listened to the rushing water, rescued a few worms, watched some leaves travel down the road into the drain, and of course we did a lot of splashing.

Activities don't have to be fancy to be fun.  If you are looking for something to do on these VERY WET Spring days we are having, try searching out a drain or two and see where it takes you!

Linking Up:
Share it Saturday
Sunday FUNday
Imperfection Sunday

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mud Pie Kitchen

Do you have a mud-pie kitchen?  All you need is:

A few kids who love to cook and get muddy...dresses and bows optional.

Sand, rocks, water, pans, scoops and a table or two.

Free time

A mud puddle 

A utility sink for cleanup

And a fire to warm up those toes when you come in.

Here is a post I wrote about Mud Pie Clean-Up!!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Yarn Along- Confession

I lose my knitting a lot.  If I had a dollar for every time I asked, "Where IS my knitting? Has anyone seen it?" I could afford REALLY nice yarn, and a set of those interchangeable needles I've been eyeing.  I am constantly carting my knitting around- in the diaper bag, on the shelf, in my purse, in the car.  Add in a child or four who ALSO like to carry it around and it is a wonder that I get ANYTHING knit without it being totally unravelled.  Am I the only one?  

In a laundry basket in the garage

Stashed on the shelf

Apparently used as a lead rope.  Have you ever tried to untangle yarn from a spring?! 
I have made some progress on my baby sweater, but not a ton.  Nice to have a project without a deadline.  As for reading, I have just started to dig into A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family. I hear that it is full of good advice, and best enjoyed with a mug of hot I have high hopes!  Happy knitting!  

Linking up with Ginny again this week over at her Yarn Along.

Monday, April 15, 2013

It Happens Everywhere

**I wrote this yesterday, before the bombs went off in Boston.  Perhaps this is even more appropriate now...and I certainly pray for everyone who is affected by violence today- whether in a big downtown, a sleepy suburb or a bad neighborhood.**

Following my lost purse, I have been thinking about ugly things.  Things like crime and violence and general ickiness.  And I have come to the conclusion that it happens everywhere.

Let me give you a bit of background.  I spent some time living in Scaryland.  We lived in the kind of neighborhood that a few people visit for the awesome ethnic restaurant, and a few more people visit for the interesting ethnic art museum...but for the most part they take taxis and don't stay long.  I worked in the kind of neighborhood that people don't even take taxis to.  In all our years there, we witnessed a few ugly things, heard of a few more ugly things that happened nearby, but for the most part we got along quite nicely.  Twice I had my (stupidly) lost wallet returned to me...once in person, and once through the mail.  In fact, the only thing that ever attacked me was a 100 year oak tree.

You've gotta watch yourself on the West side of Scaryland!
Then we moved out to the suburbs.  Places like Beautifultown and Lake Lovely and Happiness Heights.  And guess what?
What's that you say?  You'd like a closer look?
Why yes, that IS a bullet hole.
Our car got shot.  Right in downtown Happiness Heights, parked along Main Street.  Huh??  "Ours is a safe town," the very excited cop said, "but these things DO happen."  And now again, with my wallet (sob)...I think Happiness Heights has it in for me.

A lot of people assume that in our work with Safe Families we mainly get children from South Scaryland or Dangerville.  And we do get some from those places, but we also get kids from our own backyard.  Kids who are living in families in serious crisis minutes from our homes.

I am not trying to pick on Happiness Heights or Lake Lovely, nor am I saying I would chose to live on the South side of Scaryland rather than in my cozy burb.  I just want to make the point that bad things happen everywhere.  And likewise, you can find good people everywhere.  Mr Rogers was famous for saying that whenever a bad thing happens, you should look around the scene for all the good people who rush to help.  So maybe we should all worry a little bit less when we venture into Scaryland, and keep our eyes a bit more open when we're in Beautifultown...because you just never know.  Good and bad live side by side everywhere.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I'm a Loser

This is how I feel.

It is time to admit it.  I am a loser.  Of stuff.

Except that I am NOT the kind of person who loses stuff.  In all my early years I lost one thing- a watch in second grade, which I am sick about to this day.  I was a finder- I always knew where things were, and I even found my mother's missing earring that had been hiding on the bottom of her flip flop for months.  And then I had children and I am suddenly that person who loses things.  And I don't like it.  In fact, it DRIVES ME NUTS.

And by things?  I mean my wallet.  Always my wallet.  At first I blamed it on being a working mom- sometimes I needed a purse, sometimes I needed a diaper bag and I just couldn't seem to make that transition with my wallet in tow.  Debit cards were cancelled and replaced, the librarian started giving me the stink eye when I would come in to replace my card, and you'd think a trip or two to the DMV would be enough of a punishment to get my act together.  Apparently not.

Well, last night I struck again.  Hubby surprised me with a wonderful night out- much needed after a long week.  We had a great time, and as we pulled into the driveway, I realized I was purseless...aka wallet-less AND expensive-newish-phoneless.  We called the restaurant with no answer, and stupidly decided that they would find it and we would get it in the morning.  

Except that apparently my purse just grew legs and walked itself right out of that restaurant.  **Person who helped my purse walk away, you stink.  Just because I left it laying there doesn't give you the right to take it.  However, I promise I will call you all sorts of nice names and love you forever if you just return my stinking purse.  I lose it enough without you helping me, thank you very much.**

GAH.  Being mad at yourself is the worst...because you can't slam the door and walk out on yourself.  Hubby is the nicest guy ever- he drove all over creation looking for it, filing reports, canceling cards...and never once got angry (which would have totally been within his right to do).  He even bought a Starbucks peace offering for me to give to myself.  Sadly, I have not learned to give myself that much grace yet.  I am still residing in the moping, pouting, slamming things down a little too hard stage.  Soon I will move on to the crawling under the covers and crying stage, which should eventually be followed by the grim acceptance and moving on.  

Yes my friends, I am a loser.  And I don't like it one bit.
Sadly, this look is a LOT less cute on a 29 year old.

**On the bright side, I had TWO driver's licenses from the LAST time I lost my wallet, replaced my license and then found the wallet.  I'm pretty sure that's not legal, but at least I don't have to go to the DMV tomorrow.  Small victories.**

Friday, April 12, 2013

First CSA of the Year!

Yeeehaawwww!!!  Today we picked up our first CSA (community supported agriculture) share of the year from our wonderful farmer, Vicki.  This is a sure sign that Spring is here, even if we still have snow in the forecast.  Let the planting-growing-salad eating-sunning-beach-biking-playing season begin!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Taming the Toys

Here is a trick we use at our house to tame the amount of toys.  We've already cut down to mostly toys that we love, that our kids can use in multiple ways (aka building and make-believe toys rather than plastic button-mashers).  Still, even great toys still have a way of taking over.  This is a trick we use to manage the number of toys that our kids have out at any given time.  I will give the example using Legos, but we've used this trick with dress-ups, books, puzzles, dollhouse pieces and more.  This is not a punishment, it is merely a way to help the child take control of his space, and not suffer through marathon cleaning misery.

1) Sort through the Legos and decide which pieces the child is currently using, and which pieces are extras that can be put away in a bin.  These pieces are not gone forever, just put out of circulation for a while.  It is always possible to dig through the bin for a necessary piece!

2) Make sure there is easy storage for the toys- we LOVE the trofast bins from Ikea.  Then (and yes, this is a touch painful), dump every single Lego block onto the floor.

3) Set a timer for five minutes (or ten, depending on your child and your goal).  Cheer on the child while he picks up as many of the Legos as he can in five minutes (but let him do all the picking up).  When the timer beeps, stop picking up.

4) If all the Legos are picked up, you're done!  If there are still some on the floor, sort through the collection again and remove some more.  Do the five minute test again, until there are only as many toys in the room as the child can pick up in five minutes. have the appropriate number of toys!

5) Every now and then, test out the system by setting the timer again and making sure that the child can still pick up all the toys within the time limit.  If this is not possible, sort always seem to have a way of multiplying over time.

Linking up:
Tender Moments
House of Hepworths
Creative Time Out
Thriving on Thursday
For the Kids Friday
TGIF Linky Party
Show and Share Saturday
Share it Saturday
Milk and Cuddles

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Yarn Along- awww, so cute!

This week I picked up this super soft skein of yarn that has itty bitty baby written all over it.  I am making it into an In Threes Baby Cardigan.  I don't know what baby girl will end up with this one- though I am in a stage of life where I cannot have too many baby gifts at the ready.  And since we never know what Safe Families child will land in our house next, I think that gives me an excuse to knit baby clothes at all time.  Bummer!  But no baby in mind right now, I was just in the mood for a pattern that knits up cute and quick, something I've knit before, and something I could knit on the porch swing while the kids play in the sandbox.  So it may need a bit of sand dusted off before it is all finished...I think it will still be snuggly.

As for what I am reading- mostly blogs this week!  I have ordered a new book, but somehow Amazon Prime failed me (for the first time in a very long time- still love me some Amazon Prime!)  So I'll have to dig into that when it finally arrives.  As for now, I'll just knit on!

Linking up with Ginny at the Yarn Along this week!

Geography ABCs

After deep thoughts yesterday, I thought I would just share a little something fun today.  Lego is a HUGE fan of maps and geography.  Recently we got this Geography from A to Z book, and we are working our way through it.  We thought that it would be fun to create some of the landforms in the book.  We decided to make an archipelago and an atoll out of salt dough.  We made a batch of salt dough, dried it in the microwave, and then painted an ocean to place our islands in.  Once the islands were dry, we put them in the ocean and painted them green.  It turned out really cool looking, and he will definitely remember them for a long time.  And no, Lego is not the only one learning some of these if you had to think about what an atoll is, don't feel bad!

Linking up:

Monday, April 8, 2013

Is It Fair To Our Kids?

After being asked about how hard it will be to say goodbye to a foster child, the second question people ask when they find out we are fostering is often about our own biological kids.  "But what about your kids?  Will fostering be hard on them?  Is it fair to them to take in another child?  How do you handle all of their needs?"

I totally understand these questions, because they are the same questions we asked ourselves many times before we committed to becoming a host family through Safe Families for Children.  I thought I'd share a few of my thoughts on this issue.  I am having a hard time forming them into a cohesive post, because I am still wrestling with the answer myself.  I'm sure years from now I will look back at this post and smile at how much I had to learn, but I am going to share with you where we are at right now.  I would like to retain the right to eat my words later :)

FAIRNESS- "Fair" is the f-word around here.  "Fair doesn't mean that everyone gets the same thing, fair means that everyone gets what they need." I don't know who first said this, but I love it.  I quoted it when I was a teacher, and I quote it as a mother.  And when I think of it, I always harken back to the same memory.  

I was sitting around the dining room table with my sister and a crisis foster child who had just arrived at my parents' house.  She was sticking her pacifier in her mouth in between bites of her sandwich, looking quite timid and upset.  Then my mother did something I had never seen her do (and to this day, have never seen her do again)...she CUT THE CRUST OFF THE LITTLE GIRL'S SANDWICH.  My six-year-old self was puzzled and quite self-righteous over this.  I asked for my crusts to be cut off and my mother refused.  WHAT?!  Then my mother sat down with me and explained some of the many traumatic things happening to the girl- she was away from her home, away from her family, she didn't know us, she didn't know where she would be going next...and didn't I think that maybe, just maybe, if cutting HER crust off made her feel better, that it was an okay thing to do?  At that moment, I was the picture of a resilient child- I had everything I could ever need and more.  I could handle the crusts on my bread, but she could not.  "Fair doesn't mean that everyone gets the same thing, fair means that everyone gets what they need."

I'll admit that just last night, I was feeling a bit guilty about asking my kids to share with our new child. Flower had really tried to share all her toys graciously, but it is hard for her three year old self.  Little Bee was laying in her crib screaming for me to rock HER while I rocked Little Miss to sleep.  But then I thought about it, and I realized that I was rocking the right child.  Little Bee had been snuggled and prayed with and kissed and laid down with her special blankie in her bed in her room in her house and could see her mother sitting four feet away in the rocking chair.  She was the more resilient child.  She may not have liked sharing me, but she handled it.  And while I cannot explain that to her at 18 months, she will come to understand that as she gets older.  

My sister spent some time working in an orphanage in South Africa right after Flower had been born.  I remember her saying how crazy and unfair it seemed to her that all around her were orphans who had NOBODY to care for them, and yet, halfway around the world, my children had adults lining up, literally taking turns holding and loving on them.  If something were to happen to us, my kids are blessed beyond measure with adults who would take them in without a second thought- grandparents, aunts and uncles, god parents and friends.  

As a family, we are equally blessed.  I know I referenced it in an earlier post, but part of our Safe Families training asked the question, "if you were to lose everything you had, how long would it take you to secure a meal?  housing for the night?  housing for a month?"  Less than a minute.  We are blessed beyond measure, and very, very resilient.  What is a crisis for many is an inconvenience for us.  We might bend, but we won't break.  We can handle it...not alone, but surrounded by our friends, family and faith.

And so even if bending is a little uncomfortable at times, we think that allowing ourselves to bend a bit so that someone else doesn't break is worth it.  We have margin in our lives not to make ourselves more comfortable, but so that we can share it with others.  This is exactly the lesson that we hope to teach our children.  I hope that they will come to understand it as these little sweethearts come in and out of our lives.  

Fair is overrated.

Linking up:
Mama Moments
Inspire Me Monday
Titus Tuesdays
Domestically Divine
Family Fun Friday
Pin My Post Friday
Hearts for Home
Mommy Moments

Saturday, April 6, 2013

New Arrival

We have a new little sweetie at our house!  She is two and a half, adorable, and will probably be with us for a few weeks.  We'll call her Little Miss. She and Flower are shaping up to be the best of friends and the worst of friends...when they are playing nicely, they are SO happy, but Little Miss' favorite word is "mine" and Flower is quick to point out that no, in fact, it is hers.  Unlike when Little Man was here and mostly left Flower's toys alone, Little Miss looks a lot like Flower and really loves her ponies and dress-ups and dolls.  Competition!  This is Little Miss' first experience with siblings near her age, so I expect that she will quickly get the hang of this sharing thing.  And Flower stands to learn a lot from this as well.  May I have the grace to play referee without getting frustrated!  I really do think we will all have a lot of fun between the inevitable squabbles.  It is SO fun to get to know a new little one, and also to see them bring out sides of your own little ones that you never knew.  Here we go again!!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Within Arm's Reach

Look at these beautiful birch letter blocks we just got!  I have wanted a set of these for a long time.  My grandparents live up in the North woods surrounded by birch trees, so birch trees are special to me.  On our drives up to see them, we would know we were getting close when we would see the birches.  

One of my favorite bloggers, Tonya, at Plain and Joyful Living, has an Etsy shop called The Vermont Branch Company.  She and her husband and some of her kids are all involved in the business.  I contacted her to see if she would be able to make these for me, and what she sent far exceeded my expectations.  I put in a close-up shot hoping you ca see just how soft and appealing these are.  My kids are stacking them, writing words, laying them out in alphabetical order, and just enjoying how nice they feel.  You should pop over to her shop to see the other cool things that they sell!

These will live in the family room on a low shelf, just inviting little hands to explore.  We don't keep many toys out all the time, we tend to tuck them away and get them out as needed, but there are a few  toys that always live within arm's reach of our little ones:
Wooden elements stackers 
Crocheted balls and bowls

Natural wooden blocks

A basket of instruments

And of course, a basket of books
These toys get played with every single day.  There is something about the feel of the natural materials that draws the kids in...much more than plastic toys.  Hey, even I find myself picking them up now and then.  And while there are days when I do have to stash the wooden kazoo away for an hour or two to save my sanity, I LOVE that my kids find so much joy in these simple toys.  

What toys do you have out that your children just cannot resist?

*I have linked to several shops in this post.  I do not own these shops, nor am I compensated for linking to them.  I have simply bought items from these places that I love, and would love to see others support these little family businesses.  So go get some for yourself!*

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