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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: December 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Lesson Plan for Toddlers: A whole week of fun!

Here is my first attempt at lesson plans for Tornado. I had this whole post written and was so eloquent (ok, whatever) and all, but then lost it! Praise the Lord I had the lesson plan part in Word. At any rate, we've done very little "Christmas" this year, so I thought I'd take advantage of an extra set of hands this week (my mom will be here in an hour for the next couple weeks) and do our first ever homeschooling stuff. At 2, I'm mostly just planning some fun for us to do. I intend that he won't know he's "schooling" at all, but look forward to the deliberate quality time!
I thought I'd post now, before the week begins, in case any of you were interested in doing our Christmas theme lessons along with us! If anyone is interested (I'm sure we aren't the only ones with VERY mellow Christmas plans) in posting your version Christmas lessons on your blogs, let me know and I'll try to get Mr. Linky up as I share how our plans go. Merry Christmas!
Monday: Donkey Theme
Activities as they pertain to donkeys and their relationship to the Christmas Story.
1. Read Christmas stories with donkey in them.
2. Computer: look at picture of donkeys on Google Images, video of donkeys on youtube and find sounds of donkey.
3. Talk about what donkeys are good for (packing, sure footedness, etc)
4. Introduce color gray (hold up gray construction paper and/or gray crayon) Play color recognition game with gray and another color.
5. Color donkey color sheet.
6. Make donkey ears for him to wear and crawl around the house making donkey sounds. (I will have pre-cut pieces of gray and pink (inside of ears) and Tornado can glue everything together. His first experience with glue!)
7. Sing Donkey song. (Something I wrote: Donkey, donkey, soft and gray; carried His mother from far away; To Bethlehem all because; it was time for the birth of… Jesus!) You could say it as a rhyme too.
Tuesday: Stable/Barn Theme
Activities will focus on the place Jesus was born and what it is like (i.e. hay, animals, mostly outside, etc.) At this age, we will probably focus on the barn mostly because it is familiar to him and will give him a close idea.
1. Read Christmas stories and point out stables and mangers and such.
2. Talk about barns and hay and manger.
3. Make manger (popsicle/craft sticks?) and fill with hay (thin cut construction paper or raffia?) Talk about how animals eat from it. Leave it empty in anticipation.
4. Sing Away in a Manger.
Wednesday: Sheep Theme
Activities focus on sheep, the shepherds that watch them, and the meekness of Jesus birth.
1. Read Christmas books. Note sheep.
2. Explain shepherds in conjunction with books. (Take care of the sheep… we have a little board book about a little shepherd boy. )
3. Look at pictures and video clips online of sheep.
4. Sing sheep songs: BaBa Black Sheep (modified).
a. Ba Ba black sheep, have you any wool?
b. Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full
c. One for my mother,
d. One for a friend,
e. And the best for baby Jesus born in Bethlehem
f. Ba Ba black sheep, have you any wool?
g. Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full.
5. Talk about color black
6. Count to 3
7. Color sheep picture
Thursday: Jesus Theme
Activities focus on Jesus birth and the Christmas story. Also review other parts from Monday-Wednesday.
1. Read Christmas story from Luke 2 in adult Bible. Also read in toddler Bible, and read other books.
2. Play with cloth nativity dolls and place Jesus doll in our manger. (Talk about how Jesus was a baby, show animals around if possible.
3. Song time: Happy Birthday to Jesus, Jesus Loves Me, and others.
4. Color manger scene coloring sheet
Friday: Star Theme
Activities pertaining to the star.
1. Read Christmas books (toddlers need and love repetition!) point out star.
2. Intro 3 kings briefly and talk about gifts. Reference Christmas presents he got Thursday. Make present for Jesus and wrap it with yesterday’s wrapping paper. Bring it to Jesus in the manger later.
3. Color star sheet.
4. Count 5 points of star.
5. Game: Follow the star (follow the leader who is holding a star—End at Jesus and give present)


Friday, December 19, 2008


Isn't that a great word?! It's a very descriptive word, I think. No one ever lacks for some sort of picture in their head when someone chooses to use that word. Sure, maybe you are picturing that thick tarry mud in the lake by the reeds where you lost your favorite water shoe (oh wait, that was me) as a kid, when I mean the sludge (also called gunk) in your pipes on a real bad day.

I don't think anyone thinks of good and happy things when they hear the word sludge (sledge, maybe, but not sludge). No one thinks "mmm... Christmas Sludge... I like mine with a cup of Cocoa! Anyone have a peppermint stick?" So when I title this post "Sludge", I'm sure most of you are asking yourselves, "Wow, do I really want to read this?"... while the rest of you are thinking, "Ok, maybe I can get a laugh at her expense before I go clean the poop out of all the crevices of the crib." Either way, I'm sharing it... all are welcome.

Not only do I have sludge... I have sludge x2! Both, yes both, of my children have sludge coming out of their noses... just about all the time. It isn't as bad as it will be tomorrow (we are just getting into it), but it's still pretty sticky and gross! This whole long post is simply to say that! Thank you... now I don't feel so alone.

Can I go back to the other day when it was just clear runniness we couldn't keep up with???

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Who's counting?

I am! That's for sure. 5 mice in almost as many days. And yesterday morning there were 2!

Have you ever seen Ratatouille? **spoiler alert** That scene where they get caught in the kitchen and she shoots up her ceiling only to have it fall down on her. And ALL those rats are in there (it's a bit disturbing if you think about it)... that's what I am picturing somewhere in my home... a crazy huge nest of mice that come to my pantry to steal my egg noodles.

We caught what we thought was the culprit last week. We had found something chewed through, so we brought the traps back out. Then the other night I was finishing up an email on the computer while My Beloved headed to bed. It was mostly dark out here, as we were just about done for the night, when I heard crumpling in the pantry. Then it was louder... like scampering, but loud. I did some scampering of my own (more like scurrying) to get My Beloved to check it out... without contacts in and very blind. He found a 1/2 bag of egg noodles in there. That explained the loud scampering... he must have been in the bag. So we set the trap closer to that spot and put the remaining bags of egg noodles in the fridge for the time being (like I have room for that!) The next morning, mouse number 2 in the trap.

We left the traps out... just because. I was not expecting another mouse the next morning... let alone 2! Then I was really not expecting another this morning. Forgive me as I put a mouse count on my side bar! 5... can you believe it! 5!

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

A 2 Year Old Look at Nutrition and Serving Sizes

Now that Tornado is 2, I find myself wondering what, if any, changes I need to make in his diet. We've taken some time to look at nutrition for young toddlers (though not as much as I intended), but what about now? I found the following at Wholesome Toddler Food. Check out their site... it's full of info!

What is Considered a Serving Size for a Toddler?

A good rule for serving sizes for toddlers is the following::

1 tablespoon per year of age or

1/4 of an adult serving per year of age!

At the next meal, use these measurements exactly and see for yourself how little food a Toddler should actually be eating. We bet you will be quite surprised!

How Much Should I Try to Have my Toddler Eat per Day?

Daily Toddler Food Requirements

When planning and serving meals to your toddler, try to have him/or her consume the following on a daily basis

  • 2 to 3 cups of calcium - milk (or yogurt, cheese or other calcium rich foods).

  • 4 servings of fruits and vegetables. (Serving size: one tablespoon per year of age.) One serving should be high in vitamin C and another in vitamin A.

  • 4 servings of grains - bread and cereal. One should be an iron-fortified baby cereal. A serving is about 1/4 to 1/3 an adult portion (1/4 slice toast, 1/4 cup pasta).

  • 2 servings of proteins - meat, beans, eggs, tofu, or peanut butter. A good serving of protein should be served at every meal. One serving equals 1/2 ounce. Courtesy of Parent'sPlace Nutritionist Q&A.

Hope this is helpful! Now I guess we're doing 2 tablespoons for each serving! :)

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Monday, December 8, 2008 the least of these, you do to me...

Have you ever really thought about that lesson? Jesus tells his followers through a parable that whatever they do "unto the least of these" they are doing to him (Matthew 25:40). I've always thought of it as a lesson in serving others... we serve others because it shows love to the Lord. And it is. But this weekend I saw this truth from a different perspective... the perspective of the Father.

With Tornado's birthday being last week, I was reminded again how much fun it is when the kids get presents. My mom always used to say that she loved it when it was my sister's or my birthday, she felt like it was hers too. I feel exactly the same way. Our mail lady said something when delivering one of Tornado's packages last week... she brought it up to the door and said, "sorry, it's not for you." My response? It might as well be. I get just as excited about packages for the kids as I do my own stuff.

Well this weekend that same concept became a spiritual lesson for me. We did a high school senior session at the train station for a family from church. While we usually get a sitter for the kids, when we do free sessions for church people, we ask them to watch over them to save the money. While I wore Sweet Pea in her sling, Tornado played with the senior's mom at the station. Apparently they went into the gift shop to pick up a newspaper and while they were in there, Tornado found a train book (he loves trains right now). Our friend replied with, "yes, what a fun train book," took it from him and put it away. After she had it back on the shelf, the store clerk walked over, picked it up, looked at the back and called Tornado over to a bin full of toy trains. "Pick one," he said. And with that he put the book and the train into a bag and gave them to Tornado.

When our friend told me this story I was beside myself. That man blessed my heart so much with that gift to my son. I took Tornado back into the store to say an extra thank you... and now, I would like to say again... Frank, if you are out there, thank you for the special gifts you gave my boy!

The spiritual lesson? I can't even explain what a special thing it was for me that someone showed such random love to my little one. And if it touches me so deeply, how much it make God feel when we bless one another, his children, his created ones.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Happy Birthday Tornado... and the "Genius" syndrome

Yep, today my little guy is 2 years old! What fun. It's hard to believe it's only been two years sometimes. He has grown and learned so much. He is constantly blowing my mind. Which is what brings me to the "genius" syndrome part of today's programming.

Many of us have had the opportunity to sit in the presence of a mother whose little Johnny is so smart. We sit and listen because things like "so?", or "that's not all that special", or "all kids can do that" are just rude to say at that moment. Despite how we want to. Well, as we've been inching closer to this 2nd birthday for a few weeks, I've had an insight into this whole "Genius" syndrome some families seem to have. And I believe the insight came in direct response to my own realization that my boy is, indeed, brilliant!

How many times in this last, oh, 6 months, have I just watched... or listened... or whatever, in shock over how smart Tornado is. He can say most of Genesis 1:1 with me, he knows the motions to tons of songs, he can sing parts of them himself, he counts to 8 alone (and to 10 if I remind him of 9), he puts diapers in the diaper pail for me, laundry on the washer for me, and can clean up his own toys. He recognizes several letters and knows their sounds, can do the 3 peg puzzles we have all alone, knows most all the farm animals and their sounds and tons of other animals. I could go on... but then I know you will just be thinking all those things I mentioned above.

So what? Lots of kids can do most of those things. But listen... we aren't suppose to be comparing our kids to others... and I don't! I do think Tornado is excelling in a number of things, but that really doesn't matter. You see... I knew Tornado when all he could do was lay there. He didn't do anything... not smile, not laugh, not look where I wanted him too, not anything. Then one day... he could. There was a time he couldn't wave or walk or clap his hands, then one day... he could. So you see... I'm remembering my little boy, who just 3 months ago wasn't talking at all, and it's hard not to be impressed with my genius toddler who can sing songs by himself or yell "bye" out the window to the mail lady. It's hard not to watch in wonder and joy as he guides his sister around the room while she pushes her walking toy around. It's impossible not to rejoice a bit when he actually tells me he has to go potty... then does. Doesn't matter how far ahead or behind a kid is compared to the other kids, to the mommies... we only see the accomplishment! And that is why there is celebration!

Today we are celebrating Tornado... we are celebrating his accomplishments. He has soooo far to go. I'm looking forward to celebrating the accomplishment of obedience someday. But it doesn't matter how far he has to go... I can look back and see how far he's come and know that each of those steps I'm still waiting for is just around the corner.

All this reflecting has given me a glimpse of what it must be like for our Father. He is the Daddy and we are the little ones. He knew us when we could do nothing for ourselves... he knew us when we were in darkness. What joy and celebration he must feel each time we "master" something new. I know he celebrates with us as well!

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Monday, December 1, 2008

A rough "one, two" (and a bit of a rabbit trail to start off)

My Beloved and I are doing family portraits for our church's directory. We've never done anything quite like it before (mass portraits, setting up and doing family after family after family). It's very different from the specialized on location photography we usually do, but when the time came to look at doing a new church directory, we couldn't help ourselves. No one was happy with the company (I'm not naming names here) who did our last directory and portraits. While the directory was fine, the portraits were only so so (My Beloved and I didn't even take the free 8x10 allowed us... it was that bad!) and the sales pressure was too high. With that and the knowledge that we have the ability and equipment to do something like this ourselves, we set in motion to figure out the details.

It's been a lot of fun! There are probably 100 families in our church, and though we did know a lot of them before, it was nice to put faces with names on many of the new families to join us these past couple years. We always try to be low pressure when it comes time to sales, so that wasn't going to be a problem, but in addition to that, we decided to do things a bit differently than normal. I drew up a new pricing sheet, with prices different than normal. We wanted to be a blessing and ministry to the families in our church. We don't usually charge normal prices when photographing people from our church anyway. Then in addition to that, My Beloved decided he wanted any profit (over and above the costs of printing portraits and buying the directories) to go back to the church, toward our Faith Promise (paying our loan for the new building).

I'll have to keep you posted on how that one goes. We were thinking that it would sure be nice to be able to put a big hunk of change toward that. Maybe $1000 or something. We should know in the next few weeks what it will be.

Anyway... on to the "one, two" part of this post. Saturday, we finished up several hours of picture taking and had just begun tearing down our whole set up when I started feeling a bit light headed. Not quite dizzy... not quite head spinning... but weak and... well, like I needed to sit down. So I did just that. I saw no reason why it wouldn't pass after a moment, but when it didn't and I started feeling more tired, I told My Beloved I wasn't feeling well. I didn't want him thinking I was shirking my responsibility and leaving all the clean up work for him. By the time all the gear was loaded up, I didn't even feel like I could carry Sweet Pea out to the car. I was pretty hungry and thirsty... we were hoping maybe that was the cause... maybe a low blood sugar thing.

I'll spare you a few details... by the afternoon I had a fever of 102.7 and was freezing cold. By evening I was burning up... through the night I was aware of myself every moment waking all the way up periodically for a drink of water (yeah... I hate nights like that... no rest there) and very sweaty! Sunday morning My Beloved (who also got no sleep because I got no sleep) slept on the couch opposite where I was "watching" the children play with my eyes closed. Thankfully My Beloved was back to himself by afternoon, so there was someone to take care of us. By evening my fever was almost gone and I felt only mildly better. Around this time abdominal pains and some other ickiness started. (that's the "two" in the "one, two" punch I got this weekend.)

Well... this morning my fever was gone, though I still have many of the sensations of a fever... my stomach hurts (though I'm hoping that eating something will help that, I haven't eaten much in the last 48 hours) and I could lay down and never get up again!

So why am I not napping??? It's easier to police naptime (another matter for another day) when I don't have to talk myself into leaving the comfort of my warm cozy couch to walk back and make sure Tornado is still in his toddler bed... again!

Something to be thankful for in all this? My children are really very good about entertaining themselves. Sunday morning, while My Beloved and I collapsed on the couch wondering who was going to come take care of us, Tornado and Sweet Pea played wonderfully... needing only a couple guiding suggestions. Couldn't have done it without them! OH... and Tornado cleaned up all by himself... all I had to do was sit there and tell him what to "go get". Wonderful!