Children, Creative Ideas, Family

Do You Remember Paper Dolls?

Paper dolls 1This past weekend, girl child and I did something so fun! Do you remember paper dolls? Did you ever play with them? I sure did and I had hours of fun making up stories, changing outfits and having fashion shows! Oh, the memories! And the idea just hit me to see if I could show girl child the fun of paper dolls.

Paper dolls 2Now since this was a very last minute idea and paper dolls aren’t readily available on shelves, we had to improvise! So I found a picture of a front-facing Barbie doll online and then hunted for dresses that would fit on the doll. Once we got those all printed, I started girl child on cutting out the dresses. I cut the doll out and then traced her onto a thick piece of cardboard. I cut the outline out and then glued the doll onto the cardboard so she was stable enough to stand upright without bending over!

Girl child was enamored with the dresses we found online. Most were from the seventies, eighties and we even found a few from the roaring twenties! Time just flew by as girl child concentrated on the outlines of each dress. She even made her own tabs on the few dresses we found that didn’t have them.

Paper dolls 4We found a beautiful wedding gown, which instantly got girl child’s attention. It was kind of a complicated dress to cut out because of the bouquet but it was worth the effort. She was pleased as punch that she was able to have a wedding gown doll! And I was pleased that she wanted to keep all of her paper doll stuff safe when she asked for a ziploc bag. In fact, girl child was so happy with these paper dolls. She went back the next day to continue cutting out her dresses and trying them on her Barbie doll figure.

Even though we are in a high-tech, fast-paced world, paper dolls are such a fun and slower way to enjoy time with your little girl.

I will say that cutting out the doll, the cardboard behind the doll and all the clothes might be a bit much. So let me suggest a little purchase instead. Now, if you decide to buy these, I’ll get a little payment but I still think these would be great for some paper doll fun! It’s called Fancy Nancy’s Perfectly Posh Paper Doll Book and it’s only $4.00!

Whichever way you go, be sure to introduce your daughter to paper dolls. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon in an imaginary world!

Children, Family, Uncategorized

8 prayers I pray for my children

8 prayers I pray for my childrenSo often I find myself wondering what kind of world we are leaving our children. It is in these moments that I find myself silently praying for my kids and most often it’s one of these 8 prayers I pray for my children. Mind you, these prayers aren’t lofty nor are they spoken aloud. These are the silent, constant prayers that mothers find themselves praying.

Whether it’s in specific thought, or during those times when sleep evades us…when tragedy strikes another family and we are counting our blessings while grieving with them. A mother’s prayer is constant. It’s a bath of protection and blessing and desires and hopes and faith…a jumbled mess we hand over to the Father. These are 8 prayers I pray for my children.

I pray for my children’s safety

Our world is so dangerous. Some may say it’s always been dangerous, but I see it creeping precariously close to the safety of the home. People are becoming more evil in how they would harm children or how they would harm random people, no matter the age. I pray for my children’s safety. I pray for God to protect them with warrior angels. Warriors. To fight the evil that exists around us at all times. So I pray for my children’s safety. As Girl Child has prayed for, “the strongest bubble that no one can break through!”.

I pray for my children to stay close to each other

This one sits in the back of my mind and I pray on it when it bubbles to the front. I pray my children remain close friends. Hopefully we will be around for a long time but when we are gone, my children will have each other. And I pray that they rely on each other and confide in each other. I pray that they look out for each other and keep up with each other. They can still irritate the mess out of each other because that is sibling right, but at the end of the day I pray that they always love each other. It’s simple but it’s important.

I pray for my children’s future spouses

Yep. And I know many other parents who do the same thing. I pray for my son’s wife and my daughters’ husbands. And I pray for their safety and I pray for God to guard their hearts and minds. That they are immersed in God’s Holy Word and I pray for their health. I pray that God helps them to make good decisions along the way as they are growing. It’s all important…from childhood to adulthood and these future spouses need to be bathed in prayer just as much as my own children are.

I pray for my children’s hearts

I pray that the seeds we plant in their hearts about their Heavenly Father are deep-rooted, healthy and strong. That they will judge everything they encounter with the knowledge they gain each day from studying the Bible and that the world is no match for God’s promises. I pray that they have joy in their hearts that cannot be taken away.

I pray for my children’s sweet dreams

Sweet dreams. Sleep is the place for rest and recuperation from a busy day. I pray for sweet dreams for my children so that their sleep is truly restful. So that their bodies can rejuvenate and be ready for the next day of learning and excitement. Sweet dreams ensure peace whereas nightmares causes anxiousness. So I pray they are able to rest and that their imaginations will deliver wonderful stories to them throughout the night.

I pray for what my children will become when they are grown

I can only imagine now what each child will become or where their interests will take them. So I pray for what they will become because all of that starts now while they are young. What they’re exposed to, what captures their interest, what comes naturally to them…it starts now. I pray that they find something they are truly good at and something that grabs their interest. And I pray they love what they become.

I pray for my children’s happiness

Happiness is a luxury and I pray my children have an abundance of happiness in their young lives. I pray they see the happiness in their world. That they see the joy in the little things all around them. I pray that their happiness is infectious and that they share it with as many people as possible. And I pray that their happiness only grows and that they enjoy being happy.

I pray for my children’s childhood

Their childhood is so very important. So many children no longer get to have a real childhood because they are forced to grow up so quickly. Perhaps it is how fast our world is with technology. I pray my children are able to hold fast to their childhood and that they enjoy their time for as long as possible. I also pray that we are able to protect their childhood and we are able to shield them from whatever seeks to steal our children’s childhood away from them.

So I pray for them all the time. Sometimes with words, sometimes my prayer is simply the thoughts in my mind and on my heart. But I pray for my children. Every day.

Children

Just like that she was 8

And then she was 8I remember the day she was born like it was yesterday. She was a complete miracle. And just like that she was 8. People say “blink and you’ll miss it” and you never really understand how true that is until it happens.

We had struggled with infertility for over ten years before we were blessed with the birth of girl child. And do you know, after all that struggle we almost lost her. Actually “they” almost lost me, too. I had a placenta abruption before the emergency C-section that the doctor ordered because something didn’t look right to him. Little did he know I was hemorrhaging internally and Girl Child lost her supply of oxygen as a result of the abruption. We were both very bad off when she was born.

Fortunately, a flood of specialists swarmed the surgical suite, much to my husband’s concern and yet relief that so many came to help our baby. And thank God for my doctor and his skill in repairing me as well. Girl Child rebounded quickly and was whisked off to the NICU for a brief observation while I was sent to ICU to monitor my need for a transfusion since I had lost so much blood.

Once we finally met, I looked down at this warm, wiggly little being and tried to imagine what she would look like as a young girl.

And then she was eightAnd just like that she was 8.

Where did the time go? I remember being there for all of it. And it takes forever to get through a week, but here we are…8 years later.

She’s defining who she is to herself, who she is to her friends, who she is to her parents and who she is to her Lord and Savior. And as much as I want to just continue to keep her in the contained box of childhood, I know I have to open the lid and let her climb out to see what else the world has for her.

So we talk. And I let her do. By herself. Then I show her. I reenforce what she already knows.

When she finds them, I fill in the gaps. I ask and then I listen. I redirect and then I back up a step.

Back up a step…this is the hardest thing. But if she’s got wings to fly, I have to get out of the way so she can start using them.

Family

Top 10 things I’m usually worrying about right now

I’m a worrier. Big surprise to my family (no, it’s not). I find things to worry about if my worry plate isn’t currently full. I worry. A lot. About all kinds of things, the odds of which happening are probably slim to none. And yet, there I am…worrying about it. I’m really hoping there are other parents out there who feel at least some of these.

Ok, so here goes. Don’t laugh at me…I worry:

 

 

That most people don’t really like me. Oi-vey. Starting out with a doozy. My tough exterior says “who gives a crap if you don’t like me” but the inside says “but why? I haven’t done anything bad to you…what’s wrong with me?” and I hate, hate, hate that. I hate that I feel this way, but alas…there it is.

That I’ll die way earlier than I should and leave my family to fend for themselves. I know, this is just silly to invite this kind of worrying. See? I have an objective, logical side. But what if this happens?? Who will balance the checkbook?

That I’ll lose my job and won’t be able to provide for my family? ugh…I can’t even piece this one together. I spend a lot of time worrying and game-planning a worst-case scenario for this one.

That I don’t pay good enough attention to my kids. I don’t. I know I don’t. There’s just not enough time in the day to give them what they want and deserve from me. And the real kicker is that I give work my best and my kids get the crap left over. How backwards is that?! And I know they’re only young for so long, so time’s ticking on this worry.

That I don’t pay good enough attention to my husband. Again…I know I don’t. Fortunately for me, he’s very, very understanding and patient. He’s such a good friend to me. I know he deserves better and I think “soon I’ll have more time” but you know what? That doesn’t ever happen. Stink! I have to figure out a way to fix this. Append this worry to have a subcategory: 5a) I worry that I’ll never free up enough time to give to my sweet husband.

That I keep having to throw away perfectly good meat I bought at the store because I was too tired/ lazy to cook dinner during the week. Ugh…this drives me nuts and makes me feel like I’m throwing away money. Because I am!! Dangit. This worry is simply a confirmation of the lack of time, giving the best of me to the wrong places worry set I’ve mentioned earlier. I hate when this happens. I plan, I budget, I find good deals. And then I throw it all away because I’m just tired. So tired.

That someone might break into our house. Ah, yes…my go-to worry when everything else in the day went right somehow. Yes…this worry pops up when I have just entered drowsiness in my comfy bed. In the dark, coolness of my bedroom I hear something. What was that? The house settling? But it sounded a little different…maybe someone is downstairs. Nonsense. But…what if?? I should go check the kids. Of course, it’s nothing. But now I’m really awake and my senses hyper-focus on Every. Little. Sound.

That our house will burn down. ugh…this one drives me nuts because it usually invites itself on vacation with us. Although at least I can temper this worry with the fact that our house alarm will go off and we will receive a phone call from the alarm company advising us of a fire alarm at the house. So…I wait for the call.

That our refrigerator will break at the same time as the dishwasher and oven. I know, this seems like really inviting worry, but each of these appliances have been giving us little hints about their future plans. And with my luck, they’re at home this very minute in the planning stages of a coordinated attack on our budget.

That I will never reach my goal. I am worrying about it a bit…but I keep plugging away at it.

 

So there you have it. And while I’m by no means a master of my worrying, I do keep this handy and it calms me when my worry starts to pounce on my sanity:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

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Children, Family

She’s kidding right? I’m sure she’s kidding…

Each one of our kids have wild imaginations. And wildly different imaginations. Girl child is all over creativity and storylines, fairytales and fashion. Boy child is an engineer at heart…he’s methodical and precise. He designs and invents things, and his attention to detail on his drawings is something to behold. And then there’s baby girl. Now she has a great imagination as well…she lines up her stuffed animals for class, she prepares dinners in her kitchen to serve at her restaurant and she’s the only child to have an imaginary friend.

Baby girl’s friend’s name is Sweetie and she’s a puppy dog. Now this puppy dog shouldn’t be confused with her stuffed animals who are dogs: Belle, Puppy, Frankie, Spots, etc. Sweetie is a dog we have never met. And she doesn’t live with us. She lives at baby girl’s “other house”. We’ve heard about Sweetie for awhile and baby girl has big plans for her playdates withSweetie when she comes over. We’ve heard about Sweetie’s likes and dislikes. We’ve heard about the time Sweetie was sick, when she was injured and when she ran away.

Lots of exciting stories surrounding Sweetie.

But a few months ago, Baby girl said something to us that kind of caught us off guard.

“Tomorrow I’m leaving to go to my home with Sweetie.”

Um…excuse me, what?

“Yes, I’m leaving. But I’ll come back and visit you.”

Now, most of me thinks this is part of her elaborate imagination at work so I leave it. But then she mentioned it again later. And again even later.

“Tomorrow I’m leaving to go to my home with Sweetie.”

So I ask her where her home is. “It’s about ten minutes away.” Of course it is…she can’t tell time. I ask her what her home looks like. “It’s all brown with big windows and a door and there are no stairs.” (For the record, not at all what our house looks like) I ask what Sweetie looks like. “All black with a few white spots on her front.” So I ask her why she’s leaving her family. “Because Sweetie needs me.”

This is interesting and just a teeny bit concerning. I ask why Sweetie can’t live with us. “Because Sweetie likes it at my other house.”

So I try to call her bluff. I mean, how in the world can she say she’s leaving us for a fake dog!

“Ok, well, I’ll help you pack in the morning. I hate to see you go and I’ve really enjoyed having you live with us. We’ll be so sad when you go, but I guess since Sweetie needs you, you have to go.”

I see the thought work its way through baby girl’s brain. She’s starting to realize what leaving to go to her other home will mean. I see these wheels spinning so I drive it home.

“I guess we’ll give your bed and toys to another little child who can use these things since we won’t need them anymore.”

And then I see the crocodile tears welling up in baby girl’s eyes. uh-oh…too far. Reel it back in. Quickly.

“Of course…if you would like to stay with us, that would make us so happy because we don’t want you to go. How about you stay with us and Sweetie can come stay with you. She can even sleep in your bed with you so she won’t be scared. how does that sound?”

Suddenly a huge grin appears on baby girl’s face and she is relieved. “Yes, yes, yes!!! Sweetie will love to live here!” I tell her that her other home will be great when she’s grown up because she’ll have a place to live that’ll still be close to Momma and Daddy. This is the best idea in the whole world and baby girl is once again happy and off to something else.

So, yeah, baby girl’s imagination? We need to watch out for the colossal stories coming out of that brain or I’ll end up with a hole in my roof to fit the imaginary dragon she befriends!

 

Children, Family, Family Finances

Fun Doesn’t Have To Cost Much!

Kids toys are expensive. And on top of being expensive, my favorite part of kid toys is that the kids usually get bored of them relatively quickly considering the price. So, what you end up having is a bunch of toys the kids ignore until you go through with the donate bag, at which point those toys become a most prized possession.

What I think we sometimes forget is how important the imagination is and I’m guilty as well. There’s so much available and for some reason we’ve put this thing on us to have to entertain our kids every waking moment. Again, guilty. The times I see my kids “miserable” with boredom, my first instinct is to create magic for them. But the times I held strong and said “go figure it out” to my kids when they present me with their boredom? Magic happens.

Case in point: sweet husband had a character building class with younger boys that he taught at our church. One of the group games he had them play was a cup stacking game- which team could create the highest tower of cups without it falling over. So, he bought cups at the dollar store. A ton of cups! And at the end of the program, we were then the proud owners of these cups. We had them in a milk carton box and put them in the kitchen when we returned home from church. No sooner had we put the box down, the kids had grabbed the box and had begun to play with the cups.

They played and played and played. They played the next day. They built forts. They stacked them. They knocked them over. They were in fits of giggles and laughter. They played bowling with the cups.

The only down side was the reluctancy the kids had in cleaning up…that part is a work in progress, I guess. But this generally got me thinking about what makes a great toy for kids.

Empty boxes, paper towel rolls, empty milk containers, plastic (or paper) cups, small wooden blocks, jump ropes, blankets, clothes pins…I know some of these sound like the kitchen trash, but these objects open up so many possibilities to let kids figure out on their own what to do with the objects. What to make from them. How to use them together. Inventing things with them. Designing things with them.

I know this isn’t brand new information and I know it’s not cutting edge advice, but I’ve seen more success in playtime and boredom busters with these type of objects over complicated gadgety toys. Granted the mess is big so be forewarned about that. But I will say I can deal with this kind of mess over lots of little pieces of toy crap laying all over the place.

Give it try if you don’t already…give your kids some generic objects and see what they do with them.

PS…You’ll be a long-time hero if you have a refrigerator box!

Children

In Case You Didn’t Know How to Care for a 4 year-Old

Attention to our friends and family!! We moved our blog so please be sure to “Follow Us” (even though you already had done it before) so you’ll get the newest posts!

So recently it was time for baby girl’s annual check up at the doctor. Firstly, I did not realize how modest my littlest little has become! But she certainly let me know when it was time to strip down to her undies (the usual protocol at the doctor’s office).

Actually, let me back up a smidgen and say the girl is brave! When it was time to get the finger prick to check for anemia, she as awesome! Now, I can get myself worked up to the point of almost blacking out if I am left to sit and wait knowing a finger prick is coming. I can handle blood draws and shots in the butt, but a finger prick? Let the cold sweats begin…no idea why.

But baby girl? No big deal. In fact, not only was she brave, but they gave her a zebra striped band-aid. Totally worth the inconvenience of the finger prick in her eyes!

Fast forward to the room and preparing for the visit with the doctor.

The look on baby girl’s face upon finding out that she had to take her shirt and shorts off? Um, excuse, me, what? She was not on board with this request. At all. Until I showed her the special “doctor blanket”. This was enough to convince her to go against her modest tendencies and strip down to her underthings.

But once I got her bundled up in her “doctor blanket”, she was good.

Uneventful check up…all looks good. And then it was time for shots. I was dreading this part because I knew it would not go well. But holy cow, it did. It went fabulous. It was something to behold. Baby girl laid down and the nurse prepped her legs for the injections and baby girl looked up at me, exhaled and held my hand and then…nothing. It was over.

Can you even imagine this? Her big sister would be on the ceiling with fear and objection. Baby girl? No big deal. Satisfactory payment received with a Bugs Bunny band-aid and Daffy Duck band-aid (one on each leg).

Now…how does this relate to my catchy blog post title? Here it comes…

The doctor, upon wrapping up a positive exam, confirming that baby girl is in excellent health and has established great habits of eating, activity and learning,,,proceeds to hand me this: ( I usually scale down pics for the blog but I left this one big so you can also bask in the community over-reach into how to interact with and generally raise a child at the 4 year old stage)

I get the intent is to be informative and helpful but seriously, I don’t need to be told to respect my child or to ask her about her day. It’s not my first day on the job with my kid. I mean, thank goodness the American Academy of Pediatrics has given me this fact sheet so I know not to let my kid cross the street alone.

Here’s the thing…there are definitely situations where this information is completely valid to hand to a parent. Going through a full examination with my kid and the kind of invasive inquisition I was subjected to in regards to baby girl’s general livelihood? Doc, you should know not to give me this piece of paper. Nothing says “Mom, you’re doing a great job!” like an spec sheet on how to care for a 4 year old like she’s the new family pet.

So…to the American Academy of Pediatrics: please refrain from fire hosing all parents with information if they already are demonstrating that they know it. Maybe offer the information on a case-by-case basis as needed? Just a thought.

Children, Family

Hangman

IMG_4314.JPGI recently played a game of Hangman with four-year-old Baby Girl. Now before you faint from her ability as a four-year-old to not only think of a word, but spell it out mentally and provide the corresponding tick marks where each letter goes please know that this is not how this game works for her.

I love her dearly and think she’s a smart little cookie but she cannot spell. Well, that’s not true…she can spell her family’s names and her own name. Outside of that…don’t bet on it.

So, we played Hangman on the back of a paper kids menu while waiting for our dinner at a restaurant.

I went into this game the way I go into a hearty game of checkers with Baby Girl…there are no rules, but try to keep the game “looking” somewhat like it’s supposed to. She’s good with that. And also, when you play these games with her…really play them. She can spot a phony opponent a mile away.

So here we are…playing Hangman. Her rules are basically this:

She draws the Hangman noose apparatus thing? Then she draws out a bunch of tick marks where the letters go. She’s a fan of big words (read: a lot of tick marks). Sometimes it looks like I’m guessing the letters that make up a sentence. Now we are ready for the game to begin… well, a few snide remarks from Girl and/ or Boy Child about her inability to spell words followed by a quick admonishment from a parent and now we are ready to begin.

Occasionally, I do something outside of the rules and boy, she calls me on it…the little stickler! But, rules are rules so what are ya gonna do?! I say “oops, I forgot!” and we keep moving along.

Her sparkly eyes, her impish smile and her little elbows on the table…one hand holding up her head, the other hand playing impatiently with the crayon she has methodically chosen…

“Pick a letter, Mommy!” she says.

So I do…I pick a letter she loves to write. Lately, it’s the letter ‘R’. And without fail, that was a correct letter. Imagine that!

We go through this process many times and I pick the letters she loves to write…K, X, S, R, L, M (she knows this is Mommy’s favorite letter because, well, “MOMMY! That’s your letter!”)

Every once in a while, for the letters that aren’t in her current favorites list, she’ll say, “nope!” and start to draw the cutest hangman in the hanging thingy. And she’s giddy with delight!

Now for those of you who are sticklers to rules and playing by them, this game will kill you. Literally. Because what you have at the end of this fun game of Hangman is a bunch of letters that don’t spell anything. Although Baby Girl will tell you what it says…something like “Mommy is my best buddy” or “I love to eat yogurt”.

If you ever get the chance to play a game like this with a little one, put your OCD away for a bit and watch the magic unfold! It’s a beautiful thing to watch a little mind work.

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Children

Where did we go wrong?

Rise and Shine, Beautiful!Today started out like any other day. The alarm spoke, I resisted, it spoke again, and I begrudgingly listened to it.

I stumbled to the bathroom to get my day started and that’s when I called my own parenting into question. How could I have let this happen? How did this just slip by all these years with no guidance from me? I can’t believe I became “that person” and I knew I had messed up my child(ren) forever because of my own carelessness.

You think you have all the time in the world to nail down all the principles and base standards before the world comes along and tries to negate those teachings and infect the kids with alternative beliefs. In reality, time is so very short and I feel like I missed an opportunity I may not ever get back.

My mind began to spin on the damage control I can do…heck I don’t even know at this point who my “problem child” is! All I know is I HAVE to fix this…now!! Some may even say this isn’t a big deal, but it starts with the little things and just snowballs. I have to get my kids back on track before its too late…

So this is my new parenting goal…I have to solidify deep within the bellies of my children, nay, in their DNA.

IMG_4230.JPG

Toilet paper goes on the roll with the paper going OVER the roll, not under it for heaven’s sake. Seriously, I contemplated taking a personal day from work over this. You just can’t be too careful with these things!

 

 

Children

The “thinking place” of the tongue

18033545_10213179852878882_2872415697946636224_nIt’s so funny how kids work out things…like how to hop on one foot or how to skip.

The mental obstacle course is visible in the physical action that is taking place and it is hilarious to watch. Recently, girl child and baby girl had their ballet recitals and they both did awesome!

Girl child is in her fourth year of doing ballet so she’s learning new moves but overall has a good sense of her body and how to move her arms and legs in such a way that the general sense of grace and beauty is evident. Time and practice will smooth out the “childishness” of her dance.

Baby girl? Oh sweet mercy this is another story. This is her first year in ballet and it’s more a creative movement class that introduces the classroom setting, simple ballet steps, how to point your toes, etc.  There is nothing more adorable than tiny little ballerinas who have all the grace and delicacy of a bull in a china shop!

Actually, the girls were precious and adorable in everything they did. The hops and jumps were a little “stompy” instead of gentle and light-footed, but that’s to be expected. The real gem was when the teacher had each little girl show off a feat unique to this particular class of dancers.

You see, the girls learned something that isn’t usually learned in such a young class of dancers. Each little girl actually learned how to skip frontwards AND backwards! Can you picture it now? Skipping forward is complicated enough for such young little girls and you could really see the wheels in their brains spinning as they each had a chance to skip all the way across the stage. But backwards? Oh, the mental confusion! But just like the teacher said, every little girl could do it and every little girl was going to show us!

So on baby girl’s turn, she stood up and focused on the other end of the stage then waited for the signal to start. Skip one foot, skip the other, skip, skip, skip…she was doing it!! Hands on her adorable little sequined waist and she skipped gracefully (well, mostly) all the way across. And now…backwards.

DSC_0456Baby girl stopped to reorient herself and seemingly reprogrammed her mind to reverse everything she had just done. You could see the mental checklist as she prepared to start her backwards skip but something was missing.

Ah yes…her tongue. Her tongue was missing from it’s “thinking place”. So out it came and off she went.

Doing this thing that went against everything her little body told her she should be doing, she skipped backwards across the entire stage with her little arms spread open and her little toes pointed as they came up.

Never underestimate the power of the tongue in its “thinking place”!