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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: September 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Review: New Baby Signing Time

A few weeks ago I received an email from the people at Signing Time. It's good news. During the month of October, they are releasing two new Baby Signing Time DVDs and they wanted me to preview them and write a review. Of course I wasted no time... once I had My Beloved's blessing that is... in responding. What a special blessing for me. First of all, we love Signing Time at my house; secondly, what an honor for them to ask me!

And what perfect timing God arranged for. We had returned the Signing Time video we had to the library and didn't get another when Tornado became sick and was diagnosed with RAD. What do you do with a 21 month old who can't run around or get worked up? Monday morning the mail arrived, and with it, my previews of the new Baby Signing Time DVDs! Thank you Lord. Tornado was thrilled and Signing Time came to our rescue again! And we watched these new volumes many times that week!

So what do I think of them?? What is my review? I think Rachel and company did a great job yet again! Volume 3 introduced Tornado to weather and nature (among other things). Just this last week as it poured down on us at church, he said clear as day "rain". I'd never heard him say it before and didn't know he knew it. It wasn't until this week when we watched it together again that I realized where he'd learned it. Not only is he learning signs, but learning what things are called and how to say them as well.

Check out a quick sampling from Volume 3:

Volume 4 introduced him to basic emotions as well as a number of other things. I was most excited about the emotions. That can be a tricky thing to teach an almost 2 year old, but somehow with pictures, songs and signing, Rachel makes it look easy.

Check out a bit from volume 4:

Once again, fun animation, mixed with real children and Rachel, herself, come together to make a fun way for my little one to learn, not just sign language, but all the things our little ones learn at this age. Not only does he understand so much, but we also have the opportunity to communicate with one another, whether it is an animal he sees through the window or something he needs to tell me, like what he wants for lunch or that his sister is crying.

Signing Time gives my little one an entertaining way to learn new words and signs. Baby Signing Time brings these things to his level. I am so thankful for the opportunity to use these resources with my babies and I look forward to more from Signing Time.

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Toddler Menu... ok, and it doubles for the rest of us too

Well, I did as I promised (first time for everything right?) and have my menu for you. Here it is...

Things are looking up around here too. I got a load of laundry in the wash, the load that was in the washer is in the dryer and the load that was in the dryer is messily on my bed. Now there are only 2 other loads (at least partial loads) to go. The toys are cleaned up and the chest (before piled so high that I could only see out the top part of the window) is cleared off. WooHoo! Progress.

Add to that the bread in the bread machine (and the oven is preheating... that's a plus) and then of course there is lunch that I fed Tornado, putting him down for his nap and nursing Sweet Pea. I'd say things are going well for today. My Beloved just pulled in, but is finishing a help desk call from his car. We will enjoy a lunch together, then I have an hour or two to get business done before kids are up again. Sigh... what a blessing it is to feel productive! Hopefully I'll get all caught up with the little business things and be able to finish de-cluttering the house!

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Ground Zero

Have you ever looked around your house in amazement at just how bad it has gotten? Not really in a "bomb going off" kind of way, but in a "I can't believe we are living in this" kind of way. I did that last night just before being faced with a decision. My Beloved gave me a choice after our evening of errands and stores... watch part of a movie for a short bit before going to bed or recover the house so I wouldn't have to do it alone today. No contest... we watched the movie. I was just too tired to care. As I lay in bed later, sleepless, I hoped I would have the energy and drive necessary to do the job this morning. That remains to be seen. I'm certainly not awake enough yet, but hopefully after getting up and moving a bit inertia will take over. I've got to tell you though, having an almost 22 month old and almost 7 month old is not good for inertia!

I do have a meal plan for this week... I just need to put into my meal chart before I can get it to you. I've had it "ready" since Saturday when we did our shopping. I really thought I'd have it online earlier this week, but... oh well. Hopefully I'll post it later today with news of a nice de-laundried house. :) I do believe that is most of the problem... laundry everywhere!

One quick question... anyone else following wall street this week? Any thoughts? I'd love to know.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

A little request... (scroll down for more posts this week)

Ehem... I have a bit of an announcement to make. This Saturday, September 27th, I will be turning 30. Yes, that's right, 30. It's hard to believe on many levels, but it's true. So, in honor of my upcoming birthday, I have a request to make. Call it a birthday wish if you will...

I would love to know who's out there reading my blog. As a little birthday present to me, would you mind leaving me a comment on this post, whether you have ever left one or not. Let me know you are there, how long you've been reading and what your favorite part of my blog is. I just love getting comments and hearing that something I have put out here for everyone to see has blessed someone else. If you don't have a favorite part, or even if you do, and know of something you wish I would include in my blog (like the rest of my love story for instance), let me know that too. I'll see what I can do.

Thank you to all of you who have stuck around here, and to all of you who just stumbled over. I hope you will continue to stick around.

(I'll be leaving this post on top through the weekend... scroll down for new posts!)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Learning for Little Ones: Counting to Three

Welcome to Learning for Little Ones! Do you have an idea or activity you do with your little ones??? Please share it with us. I'd love it if you would write a post on it sometime in the next couple days and link up to our Mr. Linky. I would ask, though, that you include somewhere in your post a link back to this post so others can participate! Thanks!

Is it really Friday already? Looks like I completely missed Thursday...but no matter, I have a learning for little ones tip for you. Counting to three... and I'm not referring to discipline (for discipline we don't count to three in our home).

I've been including Tornado in a lot more of my cooking, which is to say he's helped with 3 dinners over the last week. While I'm hoping to make that a more regular thing (especially to stave off whinniness in the hour pre-dinner), I think you could apply this to lots of things.

We've been counting things like cups of flour, but where I've really seen progress is with 1-2-3 counting before we (yes we) dump something into the bowl. By the way... he then says "bye-bye to each thing that goes in... it's too cute. Sometimes (especially in the beginning) I have him say each number after me, other times I just count. More often than that though, I've found that after I say one, he'll say two, or after I say two, he'll say three. I wouldn't say he's anywhere close to counting on his own, but he is learning that two comes after one and three comes after two. Yesterday we added four as we counted each 1/2 cup of flour that went into the bowl.

Since then, we've started counting anything we can think of. Any of you do something similar???

What are you doing with your little ones? Write a post on your blog and link up here. Be sure to link directly to your Learning for Little Ones post and don't forget to link back here so others can participate too. Feel free to use my little Learning for Little Ones banner at the top. Don't have a blog??? Leave your ideas in the comments section. :) I'm so looking forward to visiting your blogs and learning from all of you!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Mouse!?!

I sat down to check my email just a few minutes ago, leaving Tornado at the window. I wish they were just a tiny bit lower, as he loves to look "a-sie" as he says. Still, he stands right up to it on his tip toes and looks out. He looked over to me saying something. I often don't know what he's saying, but I looked at him trying to figure it out just the same. Half the time it isn't any real word, but this time he was signing too. "Mouse," he said, moving his index finger down over his nose. I didn't even know he could sign that word, let alone say it. We've been watching Leah's Farm this week and he's picked up many new words (both spoken and signed). One new word is farm, and he can also point to a number of animals by the sound they make. I've tried mouse a few times in the last few days, but he just stares at me. Just goes to show you that we can't make them do anything they don't want to do.

Turns out there isn't a mouse outside, I decided to look even though I was pretty sure he wasn't seeing one. You know what was there??? A squirel. I corrected him and now he's signing squirel.

I have to say, Signing Time definately works for us!

Stay tuned, I have a review coming soon for the new and as yet unreleased (yet previewed by me) Baby Signing Time Volumes 3-4.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Toddler Meal Plan

Late again! Sorry. I may have to figure out a new way. My Beloved is working 4 day works weeks now, with Monday's off. It's very difficult to sit and do the normal Monday things now. But I'll see what I can do. For now though... here's our menu this week. The Chicken Kiev got bumped to this week... so I still don't know how it will go. The Salmon Stew did too... maybe I can get everything done right this time. :) Oh, and the tomato soup did too... we were doing errands last night and stopped at Chic-fil-a. Yum! And no more dishes that were already in my sink in the afternoon! Bonus! :)

For more meal ideas, visit Orgjunkie's Meal Plan Monday.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is this what you people do every day?

The mornings are getting earlier and earlier around here. Last night I made a point to feed Sweet Pea at 9, hoping she'd go back to sleeping until at least 8. Nope. Tuesday it was 7:30, yesterday it was 7. This morning she woke me up 15 minutes before the 6:30 alarm. Oh, and she must have woken Tornado too, though his saturated diaper, jammie and sheets could have done it too. So there we were... two should be sleeping babies and a wanting to be sleeping mommy on the couch. It was a special time with Tornado, even though I was also nursing. Tornado and I cuddled up on the couch together. I didn't have new clothes for him with me, so we just cuddled under a blanket.

I am thankful that he seems to have gone back down. Though he isn't asleep yet, when I suggested going back to bed, he said "bed" and was all for it. We found him something new to wear and I laid him down with his blanket (on new sheets), and left the room. I am pleasantly surprised it went so well. Hopefully he will fall back asleep... it's not looking good.

Unless today goes surprisingly well, with early rising and all, we are taking this week off from Learning for Little Ones. Let me know if you've already posted yours and I'll be happy to link up.

Have a great day!


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reactive Airway Disease

Anyone ever heard of that? I hadn't... not until Monday evening, anyway, when My Beloved returned home from the doctor's office with Tornado. Yep, that's the diagnosis. Apparently it's what they call asthma like symptoms in little ones too young to participate in the asthma diagnostic testing, and it is said to be set off by something else: environmental stimulus, minor cold, etc. We have the minor cold thing going on in our home. My Beloved and I are even wondering if the "pneumonia" he had several months ago was really pneumonia, or if perhaps it was another episode of this Reactive Airway Disease (RAD) triggered by a cold or something.

Regardless, you should have been me Monday night. My head was spinning as My Beloved lay out for me all the treatment details I would be implementing over the next few days. Now, two days later, it all seems so simple, but Monday night I was wondering if I would need a written chart. Really, it isn't so bad, but when you first hear it all, it can be a bit overwhelming.

First of all, by the time they got to the appointment at 4:40 pm Monday afternoon, his O2 Sats were 91 (instead of 98-100) and his resperations were pretty high. Two breathing treatments and a dose of steroids later, things were looking much better.

Home treatment isn't much different. Every 3 hours while he is awake he gets a breathing treatment with a nebulizer. In addition to that, he is on a steroid twice per day. We are supposed to be giving him Singulair also, but we are not happy with the reports on that drug, so we are opting out... again. Oh, and I'm not supposed to let him get worked up. Not supposed to let a 21 month old named Tornado get worked up... nothing that could get him wheezing. Once the wheezing starts, it's pretty much irreversable without medicine. And all this until Friday morning at our follow up appointment... where, evidently, they will be putting together an Asthma care plan for us. Sigh. And you should have seen the bill!

Anyone with entertainment ideas for a 21 month old? I would really appreciate it. We've been watching way more Signing Time than I usually let him watch in a day (we try to keep it to no more than 1 half hour a day).


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Toddler Menu... a sample from my 21 month old

Today's kitchen tip was a special blessing to me. I was signing on to put up a toddler menu (finally) and just looked at the post that was at the top of my blog. "Where did that come from?" I asked myself, eyebrows pinching in a bit. After a moment, I remembered. As you read it, you should know that I wrote it last week and scheduled it for today. And boy am I glad! Now if only I'd gotten my menu done yesterday when I was supposed to....

Alas, here it is! The first menu since... July? Is that right? Time flies... and not in a good way either. I am so sorry to abandon you all. But I'm back... I think. My babies are sick... but I'm back... sort of. I've changed a few things on it. More on that next week though... Sweet Pea has a fever and is crying in my lap right now, so I must cut this short. Enjoy the menu... and let me know you're still with me!
Want it printable??? Email me!
More meal ideas here.


Getting dishes done with a toddler

Those of you who have been around a while will think this kitchen tip is nothing new, but with everything that is going on these days, this overwhelmed mommy started evaluating some "new" ideas for my schedule. There are many things I could share I'm sure, but today's post has to do with how I'm squeezing more time in for Tornado.

Business has gotten out of control, and it really is time to simplify. Part of our problem is that we are working really hard right now to make it so that we are never this busy again... only way to do that is with a new business model... and this one has a deadline. More on this later.

I've been finding that with all this work to do, spending time with Tornado and keeping up on at least some of the house things was virtually impossible. So what's a woman to do. I can't skip laundry and dishes completely! And though My Beloved has volunteered to step in everywhere needed, I hate the idea that he has to work a long day and then do all the housework, so I only take him up on that in the really tough spots. He is a better house keeper than I am after all.

So what to do, what to do? I've gone back to combining the two, time with Tornado and housework. It's been a while since I've really done much house keeping with Tornado. Generally he just plays nearby. Beginning last week however, I've reintroduced dragging a chair over to the sink to have him "help me" wash dishes. Really the way it goes is that I wash a plastic cup and bowl or two and he plays in the water in one side of the sink and I wash dishes in the other. Hey, we are together, he is having fun, and I'm getting those dishes done each morning. I've learned (mostly) not to worry about the cup full of water that gets spilled down the front of him or poured on the floor. Water wipes up easy enough. Plus, I tell myself it's like mopping that little place on the floor in front of my sink... soon to be the cleanest place in my kitchen.

That's it for my kitchen tip. From there we head to the back of the house and do laundry together... but that's for another day!

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Sunday, September 14, 2008


Well, it's done. For better or worse, for clients or not, it's done. Sweet Pea is in bed, My Beloved has literally crashed on the couch and as Tornado says, "Daddy..." (then he signs sleep), it's pretty cute.

I can't stay long, Tornado is here with me, and without doggies on the screen, his computer attention span is short. We've been reading, singing and making dinner together. Just him and me. What a special afternoon!

Hope your Sunday afternoon is as special as mine!


Saturday, September 13, 2008

"No!" (Picture me screaming and pulling out my hair)

Ok, so maybe it isn't quite that bad, but I do believe I may go crazy over here. Tornado has hit that place where "no" is the answer for everything. Sometimes he means it, and gets disciplined, and other times it's just what he says. I'll show you...

Me: Do you want to ride your car?
Tornado: no (climbing on the car)

Me: Do you want breakfast?
Tornado: no (though he obviously does and would eat a horse if I put it in front of him)

Me: Time to put your shoes on.
Tornado: no

Tornado: (patting my legs) Lap, lap, lap.
Me: Do you want to sit on my lap?
Tornado? no (walking away)

Tornado: (to just about anything)

Sometimes it's appropriate, but until we get a handle on when and how to use this word, it's hard to know when he really means it and when it just comes out in response to just about anything I could say.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Life is messy!

Have you ever stepped back to look at how messy life can be? I'm not talking about when your pre-schooler dumps cereal all over the kitchen table or when your toddler takes off his poopy diaper in the crib and smears it everywhere. No, those things are messy too, but they clean up easy. I'm talking about the messy you can't just clean up. I'm talking people, relationships, hurts... messes that seem impossible to clean.

Wouldn't I just love to brush my mess under the rug and have it disappear, or better yet... just walk away from it and start somewhere new. (I feel the same way about my house right now by the way... I looked around the house the other day and thought to myself, "Let's just move.") After all, this isn't my mess. I didn't cause it, so it wouldn't just follow me like so many other messes that we try to run from. This is one of those messes that we get in the middle of by being part of relationships, and there's nothing that can be done to avoid them.

I want so desperately to pack up My Beloved and our babies and walk away from the mess. Leave ground zero behind us and let someone else clean it up. Only I've found some problems with this plan. First, it's a LOT to leave behind, and I'm not sure there's any going back. Second, God calls us to, not only stay around the mess, but to walk through the mess with one another.
And third, someone else's mess would just be waiting where ever we go.

I know I have to do it, to stick around and walk through the mess over the next few years, but I really don't know how, and I really don't want to do it.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Learning for Little Ones: ABC Puzzle

Welcome to Learning for Little Ones! Do you have an idea or activity you do with your little ones??? Please share it with us. I'd love it if you would write a post on it sometime in the next couple days and link up to our Mr. Linky. I would ask, though, that you include somewhere in your post a link back to this post so others can participate! Thanks!

Many of the things we have for the kids are hand me downs from someone. Just after Tornado turned one, friends from church gave us a few puzzles for him that her oldest had grown out of or didn't like or something. One of them was the ABCs and way to advanced, as most puzzles still were. Well, a couple months ago, I pulled out his short stack of puzzles. He couldn't do any of them by himself, of course, but he especially couldn't do this one. That didn't stop him from wanting to, however, and even enjoying it. So this became something we did together. He would pick up a letter from the pile on the floor, then I would show him where it should, making the sound of the letter all the while. 26 letters later he would dump it out and we start again. Just one more way to put the letter sounds in front of him.

What are you doing with your little ones? Write a post on your blog and link up here. Be sure to link directly to your Learning for Little Ones post and don't forget to link back here so others can participate too. Feel free to use my little Learning for Little Ones banner at the top. Don't have a blog??? Leave your ideas in the comments section. :) I'm so looking forward to visiting your blogs and learning from all of you!


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

So why are you so busy anyway?

I imagine that is a question many of you would ask if you didn't have busy lives of your own and more important things to think about. What makes these last days and weeks so much more busy than normal? Well, I'll tell you.

I am not just a stay at home mom (like I always wanted to be.) Nope... I'm a full fledged WAHM (work at home mom). Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad thing. The Proverbs 31 woman was a WAHM too. And I really do love my "job". My Beloved and I have our own photography business. It's ours, though if you look at the sole proprietor paper work, it says it's mine. When we started up, My Beloved already had his own entrepreneurial endeavor, so he gave me this one. Besides, I do most of the behind the scenes stuff. Still, it's ours, and we both get to share in it's successes and failures.

We've been in business a little more than 3 years now, doing mostly high school seniors with other portraits and a few weddings on the side. By about the end of August/beginning of September each year I'm ready, not only to throw in the towel on the business, but to torch the whole thing. The business, not the fabulous equipment that we actually started this business to justify. Things just get to busy, too overwhelming, and I don't like it. I don't like it when there is no time to do the things I am supposed to do as a wife, mommy and home maker. My sweet husband is wonderful and constantly tells me that he would rather I sit at the computer and work on portraits etc and pay someone to clean our house, but I actually miss doing it (not something you will find me saying when I do have time to do it.)

Well, we're done with all that. In order to decrease my busy-ness next year, we've completely changed our business model. First of all, we are raising our prices. If I'm s overwhelmed with work next summer, we will at least be able to afford to have someone else come in and clean the house. Secondly, we are shifting our business focus to weddings. We do enjoy shooting portraits together, but what we really love to do together is weddings! So... now enters why I have been so busy these last weeks. This Sunday is a bridal expo in our area and we've paid $400 for a booth to display our business. In addition to the booth fee, we have been designing and hefting out money for samples and informational pieces gallor. I think there is close to $2000 sitting on this Sunday... and I believe we've decided that we need at least one bride to book us as their wedding photographer to pay it all back. We don't go into debt for anything in this business. If we don't have it, we don't do it until we do. But it would be nice to get this money back. :)

So there you have it. We are in a crunch time, and we've been there since the middle of August. Add to that crunch time the fact that we did a wedding in July and another in August (both of which I've been processing this whole time) and that family reunion/vacation had to fall right in the middle of it all. The count down is truly on... and we are looking forward with anticipation to Sunday night... whether the whole things flops or not, at least we'll be done!... for now.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Potty Training Freebie

This isn't a comprehensive post on potty training... but I'm sure there will be a number of them in the coming months. Today I just want to mention something I found... and think some of you may be interested in. A Potty Training Video from Pull-ups... FREE! Go here and fill out the order form... only available while supplies last!

Yes... we are sort of starting. Tornado is comfortable on the potty (we have a little one for him) and likes to "go potty". We haven't had a successful "catch" in a long while though. As soon as our life quiets a little more (next week or so) we will be starting full swing. I'll let you know how it goes.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Learning for Little Ones: More ABC fun!

Welcome to Learning for Little Ones! Do you have an idea or activity you do with your little ones??? Please share it with us. I'd love it if you would write a post on it sometime in the next couple days and link up to our Mr. Linky. I would ask, though, that you include somewhere in your post a link back to this post so others can participate! Thanks!

Another thing we do with letters... for many months now, Tornado has noticed the words and designs on t-shirts and sweatshirts. Right from the beginning, whenever he points to a letter on my shirt, I always make the sound of that letter. When we started this, I don't think he knew what was coming, but since, he knows I will make the sound when he points. He even tries himself from time to time. For a while now I've been convinced he knows the sound for M... and all because of some quiet time together.

What are you doing with your little ones? Write a post on your blog and link up here. Be sure to link directly to your Learning for Little Ones post and don't forget to link back here so others can participate too. Feel free to use my little Learning for Little Ones banner at the top. Don't have a blog??? Leave your ideas in the comments section. :) I'm so looking forward to visiting your blogs and learning from all of you!


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Some Big Milestones

My little ones are growing up. Of course we know they are growing every day, and of course we know they are always changing, but there are some big milestones that always make me stop and wonder at my children and their new abilities. And what a fun time to hit milestones... with grandparents watching. :)

First, Tornado... he's officially started talking now. Says a bunch of words and tries to copy just about everything we say to him. It's pretty fun!

And Sweet Pea? She started crawling while we were away. She's not zooming around or anything, but she's figured out the motions and those days of leisurely hanging around in one spot are long gone.

Sure, my babies are still babies... but they're growing up.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Home Sweet Home

If you've ever wondered whether or not absence truly makes the heart grow fonder, I'm here to tell you it is true! Though we really enjoyed our time away, those last days I was looking forward to returning home. I suppose you can tell the mark of a "long enough" vacation by whether or not you are ready to return home. Now I just wish I hadn't gone "tubing" up at the lake. I have all this desire to do things around the house, but I'm still very sore from the waist up! Today it's moved into my arms and I find most chores painful. Is this the mark of an old lady?... I just don't heal as fast as I used to. That may have been my last attempt at water sports of that kind. I'm just glad now that I didn't water ski... my whole body would ache!

We've been trying to pull the house back together. My Beloved and I made out a quicky menu last night before our (2 hour) run to Wal-mart. Things were a little bare around here. I jokingly made a comment to My Beloved as I was making our list (menu on one side and grocery list on the other), that I was making my lists on the same sheet of paper so that I could promptly throw it away when we got home. Hahaha, very funny... and then I did it. I haven't found it yet. I'll see if I can get the gist of it down here before forgetting it all. I don't remember the order much... I'll just have to figure something out.

Crab Salad, bread
Grilled chicken, yellow squash and zucchini (also grilled)
Chicken Kiev (trying a new recipe... I've never tried this before)
Pork Kabobs
White Enchiladas
Baked Ziti
Pancakes and eggs
Chicken and Rice (Campbell's recipe with Cream of Mushroom)

(more menu ideas here)

Well... that is a start. It will get me through more than this week at least. Maybe I'll still find my menu. I just hate wasting time... and hate it even more when it's my own fault.

Now on to the other "finally home" tasks... laundry for one. Play time for two!

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