Easy Hot Glued Felt Book

This was a whole lot of fun! Caleb has been really into matching dice with numbers, spelling his name, and working on letters. The one problem is how much paper we were going through on activities like the ones below, so I wanted to create something more permanent that could be done over and over with him instead.

I had seen felt books many times, but here’s a little secret… I can NOT sew. At all. I have tried, but it’s just not one of my skills. Give me a hot glue gun though, and I’ll do my best! So I ordered a pack of small felt squares off of amazon (it was something like 40 squares for $10, but I would buy two packs in the future because I ran though most of it entirely too fast, especially big colors like red and yellow), bought some velcro and hot glue from my local hardware store, and went at it. 1

I really liked the idea of him starting at the beginning of the book by spelling his name and dressing himself up. I used a cookie cutter to get the pieces of the body and clothing. A little velcro on each piece, a sharpie face, and he was good to go.2

This was Caleb’s favorite page! He loved counting the dots to match with the numbers. Caleb is currently (haha, yeah it’s been at least a year) obsessed with dice, so this one was a big win. 3

Puzzles! Caleb’s been super into puzzles, and he loves trains, so I figured this would be a great activity for him. It’s also interesting with the circles to help him with spatial reasoning. Learning the difference between big, medium, and small works really well with shapes that are the same. 4

And finally, the alphabet. Caleb loves letters. He really wants to read, and he knows all of his letters, and we’re working on letter sounds. But, for some reason, he just has a real love for the individual letters. So I made him a matching game so he could match lower case to upper case letters. He loves it, and we can play with it by taking turns as well.

 

I hope you guys get ideas from this, and if you make anything like this or have ideas that I could make for Caleb (or Baby Jace!) please send them my way!

Thank you for reading… YOU ARE LOVED!

Toddler Science: Baking Soda and Vinegar

Best. Thing. Ever.

A plate of baking soda (I used about a quarter box) and four little containers of vinegar mixed with food dye. I gave Caleb an eye dropper, and he went crazy. He mixed colors, watched the reactions, saw how the parts that had already reacted didn’t react again, and then at the end, I let him dump it on our (messy) table and play in it. Not only did he enjoy the science part of it, and seeing what would happen (as well as talking about the colors and testing his own questions/hypothesis), but the feeling was almost like a sandy mud so tactile wise it was a great sensory activity. I don’t have a lot more to say, but I hope you guys try this super easy activity and enjoy how clean this mixture will also make whichever surface you use this on!

YOU ARE LOVED

Our Family is Growing!

1

That’s right! Baby number two is on his way. We found out back in October that I was pregnant, but we kept it under wraps for a long time. For many reasons. One reason being it had already taken us SO long to get pregnant in the first place. We didn’t want to tell people and have something go wrong. Another reason though is that we wanted to work on us. We had gone through a rough patch because we stopped communicating. We decided to work on us, get our relationship healthy, and then announce so we had a clear plan in mind of what we were doing with one another and our family. We are stronger than ever, and now I can focus on telling you all (now that I’m already eight months pregnant!!!) about this incredible little being I’m growing, how we all reacted, and how fantastically this pregnancy is treating me.2

This sweet little being, who looks just like his big brother Caleb, is a huge blessing in the eyes of all three of us. Caleb has been begging for a baby sister (oops lol) for the longest time, but he’s pretty excited for his baby brother as well. He has big plans of sharing his toys, helping his brother learn to play, and teaching him how to eat from the boob. He wants to be my big helper, and with the way he is around other babies, I know he’s going to be the best big brother ever. He’s just so gentle and loving to them, and he’s so pumped up about his sweet baby brother.

Corey is adorable. He lays in bed with me and rubs my belly gently. He’s nervous. He’s nervous because Caleb was so easy, it really didn’t prepare us for a not easy (read as normal) baby. But his excitement and love for this baby is clear. And the name. Oh my goodness. Naming boys is a HARD task. If this baby had been a girl, her name would have been Cora Copetta. It was a very easy decision for us. This baby though… we still don’t have a middle name chosen, but the first name is Jace. I had a list of six names I really loved, but I didn’t think Corey would. I didn’t even mention them to him, because we’d already talked about dozens of names and I didn’t want these names I loved so dearly to be shot down. However, he told me one night that a friend of his was joking with him and said this baby would grow up to be a Magic the Gathering prodigy. Corey is very into Magic, it’s his biggest hobby, and the one big thing outside of his family that brings him joy. As a joke, I googled baby names inspired by the game… and there it was. Jace. It was on my short list of names, so I goofily sent it to Corey… and low and behold, he fell in love. Asked Caleb what he thought of it, and he loved it too. It took me a little while to “LOVE” it, but once I started calling baby, Baby Jace, instead of just baby, it totally stuck.

And me… oh my goodness. It’s been an up and down thing for me. I LOVE this baby. I am so happy for our growing family. But oh gosh there was a mourning period. I went from pure bliss, to feeling so incredibly sad. I was holding Caleb on my lap one day and suddenly my heart broke. I wouldn’t have this one on one time with this perfect child I’ve gotten to know, and it terrified and devastated me. I felt awful, but thankfully have incredible friends of multiples that told me just how normal it all was to feel that way. Once I accepted it, I put my time into figuring out how it would work. Finding ways to envision life with this baby on top of my already amazing child, and it helped an incredible amount. I feel ready now, and I can’t wait for his birth so that he can finally join our little family. One of the things that helped most was a friend of mine sending me a moby baby wrap… and then I saw a woman in church wrap her baby in one. I went home that night and wrapped my belly and something clicked in me. I couldn’t wait to snuggle this little love of mine, and now I’m in full nesting mode. I’m so dang happy.

3

Now the pregnancy itself… I’m so excited to share how amazing it truly has been. This photo is only from a week ago. I feel amazing. With Caleb, I was either deadly ill or in extreme pain. I was swollen from early on and carrying around FIFTY POUNDS of fluid. It was horrible. This pregnancy… my goodness. I threw up twice. Once out of no where before I knew I was pregnant. I was in a car and just thought to myself, “Um, I think I’m going to throw up.” The second was because first trimester and hot coffee were not friends with one another. The rest of this pregnancy I’ve felt great. I had some round ligament pain, but 60 squats every day took care of that. My blood pressure has been perfect, literally NO swelling at all, and I’m only gaining one pound every 2-3 weeks. My doctor (best doctor ever, I fired the rest who treated me like being fat meant I would automatically not be healthy) is super impressed and only makes me come in every three weeks now that I’m at the end, and only once every month and a half before that. I’ve only even had one ultrasound! I have energy, I’ve been able to not only keep up with my three year old but I’ve been able to MOVE into a new home and getting rid of 9/10 of all the items we owned in our old place. It’s been amazing. *knock on wood* Less than a month left (lost my mucous plus, baby is way head down) and can feel that wonderful pelvic pain of the body getting ready for labor. I’d love to think this last month will be as wonderful as the rest of my pregnancy, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

17158871_10206453136766243_3095905895233137424_o

And a quick little bonus before I signed off… here are the goodies and the cake from our gender reveal party! It was a blast, lots of games were played, and I did a really good job pretending I wasn’t utterly shocked we weren’t having a girl. I was so sure. Because of how different the pregnancy was from Caleb’s, but also because my cravings had been the same as my mom’s with me. Peanut Butter and red meat.

Thank you all for reading about our family growing, and remember…

YOU ARE LOVED!

LIFE!

17991685_1371223432939959_7466952776634849536_o

Doesn’t that just about sum it up? Life. Life is full of twists, turns, and much like a roller coaster with no end, you never quite know where it’s leading or if it’s going up or down next. Well that’s a pretty accurate reflection of my life since the last post.

Quick List of Changes:

We moved!

I’m pregnant!

Caleb demands to go to school!

There are a billion changes and lots of information surrounding each of them, but it’s all too much to fill you all in with just one post. So, I’m going to be trying to post a new blog each day until I can talk about each of these things (and maybe lots of posts on the different topics because there are a lot of parts to them) as well as posts about the activities we’ve been doing, some new recipes, etc etc etc…

For anyone still following me, thank you so much!

For all of you:

YOU ARE LOVED!

Allergy Free Gingerbread House

15356747_1234967753232195_8619375735691653658_n

Caleb is SO excited for Christmas. SO EXCITED. All he talks about is Santa, Christmas, Snow, and everything that goes along with it all. Today I thought I’d love to make a Gingerbread House with him. He’s been very into houses (He saw the American Girl’s new doll house and now wants every house he sees), and I figured it would be a good way to combine his interests.

However, I had a list of reasons we couldn’t actually make a gingerbread house today. We don’t have any gingerbread on hand/a kit (nor the money to buy one). Now, we could always make our own… but gosh I hate the feeling of ginger bread dough. I love baking, I love making things from scratch, but I hate the feeling of that dough so much. I just can’t bring myself to make it from scratch anymore. Plus, Caleb and I have both been dealing with a lot of allergies and I didn’t want to jinx our progress by putting some sugar (or corn syrup, aka the thing I think we’ve been reacting to) into our bodies.

So I had to get creative. I looked up and saw a bag hanging from our window. Yeah, I know that’s weird, but it’s up there to be out of reach. The bag contained pompoms, and this idea popped into my head. I grabbed some cardboard and cut out a house pattern. Hot glued it together, and called Caleb in. He was so excited to make a house. I had him pick each pompom and where it would go, then I hot glued it. He asked for a door, and boom we had a “gingerbread” house that he could actually play with.

Once he got it down and was playing with it, he kept saying, “I’m so excited!” It’s been an hour now and he is STILL playing with the house. Nothing better than DIYing a toy your kid really likes/wanted.

Happy Holidays!
You are Loved!

Moonday! (This year in homeschool preschool…)

14225629_1145440972184874_568906866667910916_n

Last school year I was a little obsessed with educating my child. I felt like I needed to spend every moment of his life educating him, but not always on the important things. I was working so hard to “make” him learn his letters, colors, etc… Yeah, I was terrible. Totally not age appropriate first of all, and planning things for him to learn truly bored him. He’d be interested in something else, so the things I wanted to teach him… well he couldn’t stay focused, and got very frustrated with me, which makes total sense. This year, I wiped that crazy board clean and decided to 100% follow his lead.

The first thing I decided to do was set up a “classroom” so that he would have a place to go to focus, and we could still do normal preschool activities like go over the calendar, read books, sit for puzzles, and go over our letters and numbers. These aren’t going to be forced things, but they are available, and if he chooses to do them himself, great! He often does. He loves puzzles, he loves matching games, and he is actually really interested in putting letters together and finding different letters out of a set. Part of the problem last year was that our schedule was always set, I would force him through the activities, and we would be in the living room or kitchen which was set up for other things as well. This year he will have a learning sanctuary that is his choice. It’s also a good way to keep all of his craft supplies, sensory buckets, and blocks in one place.

Now the next thing I did was realize that he had to already be interested in what I wanted to teach, so I decided that every Saturday we’d talk about the things he likes. Trees, weather, space, the ocean, firemen… whatever it may be, is what we will focus. Which leads me to…

Moonday! Last week Caleb let me know that he thought the moon was really awesome. I turned that into a whole week of learning about the solar system, but all he really wanted to learn about/play about was the moon and stars, which is completely understandable since he can actually see and somewhat understand them. At the daycare I work at, I did Moonday (Monday) with all of them, and want to share how it went with you all.

We started when I got there learning about gravity and the difference between gravity on Earth and the moon. We did this in a very simple way. I brought a bunch of Styrofoam balls and asked the kids to each grab a regular rock. We talked about how those rocks, Earth rocks, were heavy. Then I explained that on the Moon they would feel more like the Styrofoam balls and be very light. We played “moon rock toss” and tried to get the balls into a bucket.

snack

Next was snack time! Let me just add, this was delicious, and it’s my new favorite snack… We started with a rice cake base, smeared with cream cheese, layered with banana pennies and some little pieces of kix. One of our kiddos couldn’t have the cheese, so we used sun butter on her’s instead of the cream cheese, but it still looked really great.

unnamed

Then, I had each of the kiddos make their own telescope. I had prepped this activity so that the kids would each have a different color telescope, and wouldn’t have to spend the time painting. Instead they just each got a sticker sheet of stars to decorate the way they would like to.

2

From there we went over to the rug and had a blast with this sensory bucket I set up for them. First of all, the bucket itself has a spot for each of the kids to set their wrist so they aren’t fighting for a spot or pushing one another, which I thought was great and a super bonus. Then I stuck on some star stickers, poured two bags of black beans in, added some of the white beans, about 15 glow in the dark stars, clear stones (because space is cold and full of ice!), and these awesome astronaut, ufo, spaceships, and jet erasers that I got at the Dollar Tree. Each child was assigned a different thing to find, and then they were able to just explore freely. They were so wonderfully focused on this bucket, it was a great time to call them over one by one for the big craft of the day…

unnamed.jpg

 

 

These were so much fun, and showed the personality of all of the kiddos. Just looking at them the other teacher and I knew exactly who made what. First each kiddo painted the back ground with their chosen combo of blue and purple. One little girl’s favorite color is blue, and only used blue. Caleb loved mixing colors, so used more purple than the others, because he likes swirling the two paints together. Then they each picked a glitter to sprinkle over the paint before it dried. After it all was dry, they got to glue on five of the glow in the dark stars and a cardboard moon however they wanted. I had painted the moons in an attempt to save time. We have such a limited amount of time the kids can stay sitting, that sometimes we just can’t let them do every part of a craft alone, sadly. Lastly I trimmed up to edges, and these lovely crafts were finished!

Along with these activities we used the sunlight to show how the moon rotates to make different phases, goes around the sun, and the size with little models of the Earth and moon I painted. We sang songs, pretended to be astronauts, and learned the sign for moon and stars. It was an excellent day of learning, play, and creativity, and it was all influenced by Caleb’s love for the moon and stars.

Trust your kids. They will learn if we follow their lead. I’m so incredibly sure of that. You can learn the alphabet during fun activities, you can help them learn their name using sensory boards, themed puzzles, and songs… Children learn through play. When you take the play away is when the learning stops. Trust your kids.

You Are Loved!

Quality Screen Time: Is Not Bad, Good Enough?

tiger cake

Alrighty y’all… I’ve got a confession to make. When I get home from a long day of work, I love to enjoy some television. However, with an almost three year old our viewing pleasure is met with something made for, you guessed it, almost three year olds. Let’s be clear, I do not object to this one bit. As a teenager I would watch these shows while I did homework or crocheted, because it’s a relaxing thing to watch and great background noise for a cool down time. The problem, is I’ve become lax on putting quality of these shows over how much my child enjoys them.

Don’t get me wrong, Caleb hasn’t been watching anything “bad.” Jake and the Neverland Pirates, PJ Masks, and some other “kid” shows… nothing really bad right? Well, sadly he’s picked up some less than desirable behaviors from them. From Jake he’s learned about stabbing people and that it hurts, but still has been stabbing me with things, because that’s what a pirate does. From other shows he’s learning to tease other kids, aka he’s got a serious case of nana nana boo… Now are these things the end of the world? No, not really. But, with so many quality shows out there that teach him to treat his friends kindly and educate him when I’m taking a five second break from doing so, why not just lead him to those shows instead?

Which is what led me to putting a ban on all shows besides Signing Time/The Tree Schoolers, Daniel Tiger, Curious George, and the occasional (because he LOVES it) episode of Paw Patrol. Daniel Tiger shows both him and I how to deal with different emotions and his friends. It gives me songs and saying to help him through big emotions, and because he’s seen how they work in the show, they work in real life too. “Grown Ups Come Back” saved us when he started preschool last year. “When you’re feeling mad, like you want to roar…” saves us on a daily bases when he’s getting frustrated. It might take a few rounds but he settles right down. Signing time has helped him learn all of his letters, 140+ signs, colors, and so much more. Curious George helps children learn to be scientists and question everything around them in order to learn about life. Paw Patrol at the very least teaches new words, teamwork, and how people (or pups) are all different.

Caleb is a big fan of the shows I’m letting him watch, in fact when I put on Tigers last night for the first time in probably six months, he was so beyond excited. He kept cheering and thanking me for Tigers. It was as though he was getting to see a friend. This morning, while we were on the bus to my work/his daycare, I asked what he would like for dinner. He told me he wanted a, “Tiger Cake!” So, that’s what he got tonight (see picture above). I’m happy to see him remembering the things that he learned from this incredible show, and hope to see an improvement in his behavior with a lack of negative role models in his life.

What shows do you like for your littles to watch, and why?

Remember, YOU ARE LOVED!

Expectations Bring Disappointment

13827334_1224274674283506_1815827477_n

Today Caleb and I had a play group to go to. It’s one we used to go to every other week, but it usually wasn’t at the park with an entire daycare full of kids running around playing. For a split second, my expectation for him was to sit with the group on that parachute you see in the background. What on Earth was I thinking!? My child LOVES other kids, he loves the park, and he’s never been a fan of circle time. That split second was over, and him and I went off to play on the play equipment.

Sitting in the circle he started to cry. I can only imagine what was going through his sweet little head. “Why is mama punishing me? I just want to play!?” “But mama, why can all those other kids play, and I can’t?” “Mom, I just want to go play with these new friends!”

Well of course! How on Earth could I expect my two year old to sit, listen to instructions, and ignore that all the other kids are playing at a place he usually loves. My expectation ruined the fun for him, even if only for a minute. My expectation made me, just for a split second, frustrated that he wouldn’t conform to my will. No way. That’s madness.

This kind of thing happens a lot though. We go to the grocery store, it takes me an hour to shop, and I expect him to sit in the stroller quietly… HAHA! That’s hilarious right? I have to change my expectations and prepare for the realities. I bring snacks and toys, we sing silly songs, I get him involved… BECAUSE HE IS TWO AND THIS IS NORMAL CHILDHOOD BEHAVIOR! We go for a walk longer than five minutes. Do I expect him to hold my hand and comply to where I want to go the whole time at my exact speed? No way! I slow it down, I let him point out all the things around him, and sometimes I even let him walk a few steps ahead of me, because I trust him to not run off, and know I’ll be able to run with him even if he does.

I see parents at restaurants that spend the whole time yelling at their kids for one reason or another… “Well kids never learn if you don’t make them.” But what if what you’re expecting them to learn is just plain unrealistic? Sitting still is not something kids are meant to do till they are seven or older. Kids are meant to run around, stretch, and play! One moment parents are telling their kids to get out and move, the next they expect silence and still bodies. How did we get to these crazy expectations being normal to everyone around? Why is it that if kids don’t comply to these insane ideals they are labeled bad? Labeled as less than the kids who somehow do indeed comply? What a shame that all is…

Just take a deep breath parents. Your kids aren’t bad, they are just kids! Change your expectations and you’ll see that too soon enough.

YOU ARE LOVED

 

Still a Good Mom…

29e80813-b1a9-489b-af61-442b7ce7dbd5

When I started this blog, I was so sure I’d be a perfect mom. I mean really, the original name of the blog was something like, “Becoming a Young Mom, and How I Did it Right.” Barf! Am I right? It quickly became “How I Did it Peacefully,” because right is a very subjective word, and I mess up all the time. ALL THE TIME. I tried for a long time to still put on a facade. I wanted the world to think I was a super mom. Perfect house, perfect kid, perfect put together life… Well I’m here to tell you, it just isn’t so.

I get angry sometimes. Caleb will be extra clingy for one reason or another, and every hair on my body stands on end. I might even yell. I might even lock myself in the bathroom for five minutes while he cries, because I need five minutes where no one is touching me; poking, prodding, squeezing… But, most of the time I’m not. Most of the time I feel like having this small little boy around me 24/7 is the most awesome blessing that has ever been given to me. Sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I put the TV on all day long and I just lay on the couch, because the idea of doing a craft or having a conversation exhausts me past my breaking point. TV all day or a mean mom? I’ll go for the TV every time. But, most of the time I’m so happy to take Caleb to the park, play dates, do the newest cool kid craft, or play make believe. Most of the time I don’t ever want him to leave my side.

This is one of the hardest things in the world for me to admit. 99% of the time I honestly don’t feel like I need a break. 99% of the time I really think I’m doing okay. Then that 1% where my nerves are just fried, I wish someone, well someone like his Mimi because I’m neurotic and really don’t trust many people with him, would come get him just for a night. He’s spent maybe five nights away from me since he was born. Maybe ten times he’s gone with her for a day. That 1% of me isn’t a regular thing, and yet I still feel so much guilt about it… but why?

Don’t even get me started on the house. This week we had kind of an inspection. Not on our house from our landlord, but he’s trying to sell the house so the state inspection people had to come and measure stuff. I took three days cleaning the house. Twenty loads of laundry, seven loads of dishes, a full bottle of Windex, and an emptying of the vacuum five times later, our home was presentable. While I was putting away the clothes I ask Corey in exasperation, “How is it that I did all of these things AND went to school when I was younger?” He looked at me and laughed then responded, “You didn’t have Caleb.” I mean, I get the kitchen clean, and every toy is pulled out in the living room. I fold the clothes, turn my back, and the pile has become something to play in. I’m honestly not even mad, in fact I’ve accepted it, but when my house is a disaster (think dishes from a week ago and mysterious sticky spot on the kitchen floor), I’ve been home all day, and I’m still exhausted at the end of the night I do feel really guilty… but why?

This morning I woke up and my house was essentially still clean. The living room has some toys on it. I asked myself if I wanted to pick them up and decided to sit down and watch a movie while Caleb was still sleeping instead. I started to think about all of the things I’m doing wrong. I though about how I lose my patience, or I don’t always make the healthiest foods, or how when his doctor asked us how much milk he drinks, I had no freaking clue. But, I looked around at the fun art on the walls. I looked at the pictures of us together. I looked at his toys and thought about how much I love watching his imagination at work. I walked in and watched him sleeping next to his daddy. He is strong, healthy, and loved. He doesn’t go without. He has at least one close friend, and he has all the family he’ll ever need. He isn’t afraid when I life my hand that he’ll be hit, because we never hit him. He doesn’t have to worry about eating quickly or hoarding food, because we never let him go without. His body is respected. I do everything in my power to raise him peacefully. 99% of the time I succeed, so why do I fixate on that 1%?

… I’m still a good mom.

YOU ARE LOVED