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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: January 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

Saving on Diapers: A Potty Training Experiment, Day 2

I reported yesterday that already we'd had 3 accidents in 30 minutes, including a *messy* one. I felt as though the headway I thought we'd made the day before was unreal. I wasn't sure this was the time to do this. I wasn't sure I had it in me.

Turns out though, that those were the only "accidents" all day. I don't even know the final score, but it was 3 to something way higher. She basically pottied every 30ish minutes all day, including a dry naptime diaper! I'm tempted to leave her in underwear during nap time today, but we'll see!

Another exciting thing from yesterday was the one time in the late afternoon that she went running off toward the potty room by herself. I didn't expect anything much (she's done this before), but as soon as I got her on the potty, she went! And was very excited about it too! We'll see if it was a fluke or not.

This morning we haven't had any accidents (yet). I got her on the potty first thing when she woke up and she went! It's nice to have that baseline. During breakfast she stretched to 45 minutes before I saw her squirming in her chair. I thought perhaps she'd already made a big *mess* in her trainers, but nothing. I hurried her to the potty and she put her entire *mess* in the potty! This mommy is feeling pretty good today.

I'll let you know how it continues!

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Saving on Diapers: A Potty Training Experiment

Though things are rough this morning, yesterday didn't end too bad. Final score, 4-5. Four "losses" in the morning that almost drove me to quit, followed by 5 wonderful victories in the afternoon and evening. Add to that a dry nap time diaper and a dry "out shopping for an hour or so" diaper. That means that we only used one diaper yesterday... instead of 4-6. I think that's pretty great!

I'm close to giving up again today with 3 "accidents" in 30 minutes. But she did potty once this morning before the accidents began. We'll see what today's final score is. I'm taking some deep breaths and needing to lean heavily on God for patience today.

J's "method" calls for being done for the day if you get through all nine (though I don't think I have quite that many) pairs of trainers in a day. At that point I'm free to go back to diapers and rest my frazzled mind. We didn't get that far yesterday... so I'd say that's a good thing!

Anyone else trying to potty train right now???

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Saving Money on Diapers!

I mentioned briefly that we're crimping down our budget to save anything and everything we can these days (the reasons why still to come). We left the grocery store this last time at just over half of what we usually spend (it won't always be possible, but we were thrilled with that time!) I've avoided several "eat out because I don't have anything for dinner" expenses (which were becoming more common in the last month or so). I imagine that alone has saved us $50 or more dollars! We're making more budget friendly meals.

Well, today I'm trying to get one more budget buster reduced to it's minimum! Diapers. It's early... earlier that I was going to try this anyway, but worth the attempt! In the hopes of reducing diapers to nap and bed times for Sweet Pea (Tornado has been doing this almost a year now), I've put her in underwear this morning. I'm following a plan taught to me by my dear friend J. So far, one accident and now we're waiting... no successes, but think... I saved a diaper already!

I'll keep you posted on this money saving venture!

And yes, I'm ok with being the one trained at this stage... it's still cheaper!

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

15 Minute Tackle: Preping Quilt Blocks

Last week I decided to work 15 minutes a day at "decluttering"... another way to put it, straightening, my home. I'll be honest... I did it twice. That's right, only 2 of the seven days. Someone commented that they were impressed I was trying it with sick kids. What they didn't know is that my kids were starting to get better, my husband was very sick (didn't even go to work Wed or Thurs) and then I got sick Thursday. I'm still not at 100%, but I'm grateful that we are sleeping better (I've been coughing) and I'm feeling better with each new day. One of these days I'll just be well. (And then a kid will be sick again, but what can you do? It's winter!)

I remain grateful for the 15 minute tackle, and I'm giving it another shot! Instead of replacing last week's with this week's, though, I've decided to add on. I know this isn't the point behind it all, but I'm doing it anyway. I found (the couple days I did it last week) that it's amazing how much you can accomplish in 15 minutes... especially if your house isn't a total wreck (just a minor one). So, my plan is to keep 15 minutes set aside for each morning (at least week day mornings when My Beloved is at work) devoted to household tasks. Notice, I'm not saying "decluttering"... it's not just that. This morning it included clearing the non breakfast related things (breakfast was already cleaned up) off the kitchen table, folding laundry, and putting away a handful of out of place things. Tomorrow it may include sweeping the kitchen floor, wiping down a mess somewhere, organizing a pile by my computer or any number of other things.

In addition to this, I have a special task to tackle this week, 15 minutes at a time. I want to get 60-90 squares of fabric cut out for a springy throw quilt I have planned for our couch. I finally finished the snowman quilt I'd been working on (off and on) for nearly 7-8 years, and it has been so nice to have it available for cuddling under. However, it's snowmen, and as hard as I tried to avoid any Christmas reference when picking out the fabric, it's there (it sneaked in when I wasn't looking). So, I really don't want a snowman quilt to cuddle under through March, April and May. I need something springy!

So, this weeks 15 minute tackle is dedicated to cutting out a LOT of 6 1/2 inch squares. We'll see how it goes!

(Note: The reason I was trying to avoid "Christmas" on the snowman quilt was to make it a winter thing, thus being able to keep it out for January and February also... not to avoid Christmas! We love Christmas... and cherish opportunities to celebrate and worship Jesus Christ!)

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Homeschooling Preschool: Week 2

Sweet Pea drawing with us at the table during "school time"

Ok, so I stretched week 2 across 2 weeks. Sickness and lack of preparation won out and it happened. Actually, my big plan when I dropped the ball the week it was scheduled was to double up the next week and actually get week 3 done too, but then I got sick... and it was just too much!

So, we are rearranging some things mentally. And I may not finish this week either because I'm still waiting for a couple library books to arrive at my library. Who knew there would be such a learning curve on this homeschooling organization thing. (Anyone?)

I'm trying not to stress out about it though. It is kinda a big deal because we're sorta on a tight schedule. My abridged 28 week plan is already a tight fit before baby comes. If we have anymore set backs though, I'm pitching the squeezed in abridged version and just doing what we can when we can. If we have to do the last 3 or 4 (or 8) letters of the alphabet after a "baby was born" break, then so be it!

So... what did we do? We learned about the second half of Creation week. We learned numbers 4-6 (what they look like anyway, he already counts past that), several colors (which he already knows anyway), talked about "God created" all over the place (i.e. the yellow sun pictured above), did some crafty papers (again, reference sun above) to help drive home the ideas, and generally enjoyed ourselves. Sweet Pea pretty much loves "calendar time". I bought one of those big bulletin board preschool calendars last year (though we'll see if I'm sorry I went to all that work and expense in lieu of other options I didn't know about at the time, but it's cute). Of course, she's not even 2 yet, so she just likes velcro-ing numbers on the board. Someday I'll finish setting it all up and we'll start talking about weather during this time too, but for now we don't.

Being sick, I didn't worry much if I didn't have everything it called for and only did the things we did have. Tornado enjoyed it. I love when he tells Daddy everything we did at the end of the day. It tells me he likes it. Both kids ask to "do school". **smile**

We start the "regular" routine with a letter a week and such this week (as soon as I get my books). We'll be learning about the Fall, focusing on obedience and what rules are, and learning a lot about fruit trees and, specifically, apples. A is for "Apple" after all. Have I mentioned how this lady has come up with something for each letter that correlates with the Bible story taught that week? Amazing! Have I mentioned how much I love that???


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

15 Minute Tackle: Decluttering

The Domestic Contessa is starting something new... and I so need in on this! I know about the power of the 15 minute timer, but still I just don't always do it. And I desperately need it. She's starting a weekly feature called the 15 Minute Tackle on Tuesdays and (though I'm a little late) this week at least, I'm totally in.

We're sick over here... myself included now, and things are pretty miserable. Especially during the night time sleeping hours. As far as kids are concerned, it's miserable whenever they aren't sleeping. So truly, 15 minutes might just be what this tired mama needs this week. So I have plans to use it decluttering the house... 15 minutes at a time!

Wanna join us??? This week she's giving a $25 Visa Gift Card to one of the very excited participants. Head on over! Actually, now that I think about it... don't participate. I want the gift card! :) My Beloved and I are on an intense "save up as much money as possible in as little time as possible" thing right now. More on that later!

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Monday, January 18, 2010

A confession

I am a terrible house keeper. It's not for lack of desire... I would love to do better at it. I think what it comes down to is multi-faceted.

1. I would rather do something else (i.e. laziness, selfishness, undisciplined, etc.).
2. I'm unorganized, therefore the straightening that comes before cleaning makes cleaning happen less often.
3. I'm out of practice.
4. I'm overwhelmed by the enormity of all that I've let build up for so long.
5. I lack routine (though I think this one may fall in with number 3 or vice versa).
6. I have a toddler.
7. I have a preschooler.
8. I'm pregnant.
9. I all too often forget that Jesus came to be a servant to all, not served by all.
10. I have yet to truly learn to die to self!

There... aren't lists of 10 nice and "complete"? Ok, so 2-8 are really just excuses (regardless of whether or not they could contribute to the problem). And the first one is my real confession. It's #9 and #10 that are the real root of the problem! But let me tell you how it started... because I didn't used to have this problem.

When My Beloved and I were newly married (5 years ago now), I jumped right in to being a homemaker. It was all I really ever wanted to be. And finally, at 26 years of age, I was it. I found great tools to help me form a routine and I took off. I kept up and things weren't hard at all. I had meal plans and meals made regularly. I had a weekly cleaning day and the house stayed nice. I can remember being with my husband one evening as he was fixing a computer in someone's home. There was a ton of dust on the desk behind the computer. I remember thinking to myself how terrible that was and "didn't she know that it really doesn't take that long to clean the house if she just does it?" I shutter at that whole thought now... as I turn my eyes from the cobwebs everywhere!

Nine months into our marriage I took a teaching job to help pay off school loans before the "one day" when we would have children. I had never taught before, let alone 10th and 12th grade English! As it turns out, I was only there one semester, but I did little else during that semester than plan, grade, read papers and try to stay afloat. My sweet husband did pretty much everything else... and I do mean everything!

When my job ended the following January (for which I was both sad and grateful!) I found myself without a routine and struggling to find one. Three weeks into my (again) housewife role, and I was still floundering, feeling defeated, and seeing the house fall apart around me. That is when we found out I was pregnant with our first and the 24/7 morning sickness started. I did very little over the next 5-6 months until the sickness changed to every once and a while and I could be off the couch for more than a few minutes without running to the bathroom. Again, My Beloved stepped up. I had a month or so of some energy to plan ahead meals and such before Tornado was born. After that was 4 weeks of back and forth to work with a lactation consultant and another 2 weeks after that before I was recovered completely. And you all know how hard it is to get back into routine after baby comes... try not being in routine in the first place!

When Tornado was 3 months old, we discovered he was not gaining weight and was only 1 pound heavier than his birth weight. I began pumping everything so I could add cereal to his bottles (in the hopes the extra weight would help him keep it down and the extra calories would plump him up!) This started an endless cycle of pump, wash pumping things, prep bottle, bottle feed, wash bottle, start pumping again, and so on. I did this (and little else but keep us fed) for the next 3 months before switching (begrudgingly and thankfully) to formula. Within 2 months of stopping, I learned that I was pregnant again, and just about in my 2nd trimester (which I was very sick for the entire 3 months). We were now officially passing into the 3rd year in which I had not had a regular house cleaning routine!

By the time Sweet pea was born in March 08, Tornado was 15 months. Two babies is enough reason to barely be hanging on!!

This past fall, for the first time in nearly more than 3 years, I felt completely myself! Full energy. So this is what I used to feel like when I wasn't pregnant or nursing! Yet still, lack of routine (or worse, in routine for not taking care of our house) is hard to break. I found it easier to waste time online reading blogs that encouraged me to do better than to get up and do it. Add to that our incredibly busy photography season.

December was rough with the new pregnancy and I am still having morning sickness.

All this to tell you that I'm very motivated to break this deadly cycle... even though I'm pregnant and have a toddler and a preschooler (whom I am homeschooling). Some of the struggle I have with it all is that I really wasn't ever taught how to do things. Though we had chores growing up, they were pretty minimal considering all the things that need to happen in a household. I find myself floundering with where to begin.

I was so excited when I found the book Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House at the book store a couple weeks ago. I haven't read much of it yet (it's a huge book) and it's not written from a Christian perspective, but it focuses a lot on keeping house for the reasons of yesteryear. When they really used to do it. So far, it is very practical. I hope to be highlighting it as I learn throughout the months/year.

So the real point of this post! I cleaned the bathroom today. Sure, I do that somewhat regularly (though not often enough), but today I did the sink/counter/mirror and toilet area like usual. But I also did the shower/bathtub, floors, walls, door, switch plate, cupboard doors, etc. It took me 3 hours! But it's clean. And if felt so good to watch it get there!! Why don't I enjoy cleaning more? It's so gratifying!! (And hopefully it won't take as long next week!)

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Homeschooling Preschool: Week 1

I officially love preschooling my boy. He's 3. And I've been noticing these past few months that he was on the verge of ready, so when he turned 3 in December and then I stumbled on what I think is the very perfect preschool curriculum for our family and it was free online... I decided it was time to start! So I started making plans to start with the new year.

Why am I starting now instead of with a traditional school year? There are a few reasons... first, because he's ready now and I hated the idea of waiting 8 or 9 months just to be "standard". Second, because I'm having our third child in August and I'm pretty sure this will be easier now than later. And finally, because I don't care about the "traditional" school year. I'm thinking we will eventually school year around anyway, so why does it matter? Especially since our state won't start caring about my children's education for a number of years still.

I've mentioned our curriculum before. I just love it. She's done all the work I've always wanted to do, but with more creativity and experience than I ever could have. I'm hoping to share some of the highlights with you as we travel through the next 30ish weeks of preschool (sometimes I may even have pictures).

Week 1 and 2 are in large part an introduction, but are crutial to the overall story of Scripture as they begin at the beginning, and she says they are the most labor intensive of all the parent planning. The projects are very cute and easy though and she includes pictures from when her kids did them. These first two weeks don't include a letter of the alphabet, but focus on other things. Once I saw the big picture, I understood completely. She has outlined all the Bible stories to match with letters of the alphabet, therefore "A" for "apple" doesn't come in until we learn about "the Fall" in week 3. So what are these first two weeks about? Creation. Each of the first 6 days of creation are matched up with the first 6 numbers and each of the colors is worked in too. So over the first 2 weeks of curriculum we cover numbers 1-6, the week of creation, a number of sciency topics as they relate and colors! Also included is phonetic awareness, calendar time, and other preschooly topics. Take a look.

So this week, being week 1, we learned about God creating night and day, the sea and sky, and the land, trees, flowers and grass. We got to make a page for our creation book each day giving opportunity to use glue! Very exciting in this house. We read books on colors we were discussing each day and learned numbers 1-3, including how to recognize them and form them. I think Tornado's favorite number activity was making the number 1 with his finger in a tray of black beans (black and white were the colors for day 1 when we learned night and day and the number "1" was for the first day of creation). I just love how it all works together.

Overall, Tornado loves "school". Sweet Pea seems to enjoy it too. I keep her right with us (except for the day we did school during her nap time) and give her something similar to do at the table. She reads books with us (she really picked up on the color blue during reading time... now everything is blue!) takes turns at the calendar with Tornado and sings her noises during song time.

As far as organization goes I need to be careful to stay on top of things in the prep department. I think we are going to push today's schooling off till tomorrow so that I can prep during nap time today. Overall though, I think it's going pretty well.

Are you doing anything with your toddlers or preschoolers? Have you used Hubbard's Cupboards Bible and Rhyme curriculum?

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

What about MY attitude?

We've been having some attitude problem's in our house today (and perhaps for a little longer than that). Today it started with Tornado's disobedience first thing this morning and has continued throughout the day. And it's contagious! I hate that. It's hard to be a mommy with a good attitude when I'm frustrated and annoyed by the kids. I hate that too. I want to be a joyful mommy... and I'm not!

I found a couple bits of encouragement online this afternoon and wanted to share them with you.

First was this wonderful article about bad attitudes in the house! Read it... I think you'll be surprised at the solution! While you're there, look around. They are my favorites these days in the area of marriage and child raising!

The other is a post by Kristin that also touches on our attitudes and reminds us what they are to be.

I hope you are as encouraged as I... now I need to put some feet to what I've been challenged with!

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Monday, January 4, 2010

My First Meal Plan

... in a long time. Seriously, this is not just the first of the new year. It's the first in a long time. Because of this, I'm keeping it simple here on the blog. Oh, and just dinners too.

Monday: Spinach Manicotti (we used a recipe from one of my books, but upon looking around, it's almost the same as this one from Tammy's Recipes.)

Tuesday: Burritos (These are a lot like Neato Burrito if you have one near you)

Wednesday: Tomato Soup (we're trying homemade) and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Thursday: Beef Stroganoff, rice, asparagus

Friday: Chili and Cornbread (we're trying this recipe for the first time)

Saturday is our anniversary and Sunday is dinner at friends', so no plans to cook those days. If something changes, I'm sure there will be left overs.


A New Year

It seems I have taken a bit of a sabbatical from blogging this past month. It wasn't my intention, or I surely would have let you know. I do believe I even told you all I was planning to be around a bit more... then I disappeared from everywhere. On the tail end of November's busy-ness, a deep tiredness overtook me in December, only to be enhanced by a very strong nausea.

I'm pregnant!

Those of you who know me, or have been around a while know that I get pretty sick when I'm pregnant. But in light of the last time, when I wasn't sick at all, I'm thrilled to be seeing the tangable effects of pregnancy hormones. Though I sometimes need to be reminded that I'm so thrilled!

In addition to all that, Christmas came. And with it a 2 week visit from my mom. I just gave up even trying to want to keep up with things and chose to just roll with it all. My mom came and did all the dishes and kitchen clean up for 2 whole weeks! She also helped with the house in a number of other areas as well as playing with the kids and getting up with them in the morning so that I could sleep in. It was so helpful... especially on the many days I curled up with a blanket on the couch to decrease "morning" sickness. Lots of game playing and shopping filled the rest of the time.

But now, decorations are away, the house is in some form of recovery, and the new year is here. With it comes a new household schedule, new found hope for staying up with the house and kids and... preschool!

That's right... before learning we were expecting, I already had big plans to begin Tornado with preschool this month. I'll be using Hubbard's Cupboard curriculum for 3s. I've looked all over at it and it is wonderful. It's just exactly what I would have wanted to create for us if I had all the creativity and resources and experience she has. Tornado turned 3 last month and he is so ready for preschool. I'll be adapting the 38 weeks down to 28 so that I can fit it into the 30ish weeks I have left before baby arrives. I'll be trying to share our experiences along the way (we started today and had a lot of fun!)

So what will the new year look like for my blog??? Honestly, I could tell you, but I'd probably fail to follow through. I'd love to get some menus up now and again, share some pregnancy stuff, and chronicle this first time homeschooling mom's journey through preschool. Of course that is in addition to all the other randomness that happens around here. I'll try to stick around!

Happy New Year!