Archive for June, 2011

Toddler Activities by Age (Indoor and Outdoor)

Thursday, June 30th, 2011 by by
This is a list of activities I’m compiling, not just for other parents or daycare providers out there, but for myself as well. It will be something that I continue to add to as I brainstorm more ideas, and refer to it when I need ideas. (Also, the ages on the list will increase as the kids at the daycare grow older and I learn what works for them.)
This list is a general guideline for the most appropriate time to introduce each activity. Thus, once I have mentioned an activity on the list, I do not repeat it, even though it can still be enjoyed (often even more so) at later ages. To reiterate, if you have come upon this site looking for activity ideas for your 2-year-old, check the entire list, as you may appreciate some of those listed under “6 months,” for example. Some children will vary; they will be more receptive to certain activities sooner or later than what I have suggested.   The activities on this list do not involve any specific toys, but do include general or common toys I consider to be essential, or maybe I should say optimal, for childhood learning. The only activities I have not included in this list are those pertaining to music and reading. I believe activities from these two categories should be integral to a child’s life from birth.



Big update – alternatively titled I’m not dead.

Thursday, June 30th, 2011 by by

I can’t believe I haven’t had the energy to post anything in 6 months.  Where do I start?

I’m 34 weeks, 5 days pregnant today.  4 or 5 more weeks (or less) and I’ll have a new baby boy.  Yes, boy!  We are very excited.  Neely and I are naming him Keelan (Gaelic, meaning small or slim) David (my brother’s middle name).  I expect him to arrive at the end of July, at the latest.  He’s giving me the run around right now.  We do not know if he’s head down or breech, but we should know within the next week, and we’ll make a decision on how to proceed.  The thought of a c-section is not something that I really want to consider, but I dislike the thought of a external version even more.
Gabby is now 6 and a half months old.  She’s crawling, sitting up on her own, and even starting to pull herself up to a standing position on her own.  She has one tooth on the bottom, and the second one is just starting to poke it’s way through.  She’s such a joy and is mostly a happy little thing.  Sarah is doing such a good job, and I really only have to nag at her once in a while.
James is good, too.  He recently moved to Kentucky to live with my parents and got a job as an HVAC apprentice.  He trained in HVAC in high school, so he’s got the skill, just no experience.  He’s liking it so far.  I’m missing him like crazy, but I really think this is a good move for him.  He was in an accident in April (alcohol related) and totaled his sister’s car, was flown to shock trauma, but miraculously only had a bump on his head.  Wish I could say the same for the telephone pole that he hit, but that stuff is replaceable.  I do think he learned a very valuable lesson, and I’m happy with the progress he’s made emotionally since the accident.
Will just finished 6th grade.  The last few weeks of school were difficult, to say the least.  He ended up in two fights, suspended twice, and kicked out of English class for insubordination.  He spent the last few weeks of the school year grounded.  We’re not sure why he was making such poor choices, but I think there were lots of contributing factors, not the least of which is relationship with his mom.  We are seeking out counseling services for him right now, because budget cuts have left the school without a counselor.  He has worked with this counselor for the last two years and was making really good progress with her.  I feel like this is a set back for him, but we’re going to do what we can to get him talking through his issues.  He’s a really good, smart kid, and I love him dearly. I just wish I knew how to help him better.
Clayton just finished 4th grade and is looking forward to 5th.  He has a girlfriend who lives around the corner and was in his class this year.  He told my dad that he had kissed her.  Of course, Dad teased him after that.  He’s a bundle of energy and always getting himself into trouble, because he can’t keep his hands from exploring everything, even things he knows he shouldn’t be touching.  He recently broke my netbook by twisting the top in the wrong direction, this just days after breaking the blinds on the back (deck) door.  It’s impossible to figure him out, because if you ask him if he knew he shouldn’t touch something he knows that he shouldn’t have, but he just can’t control his impulses.  All in all, he’s fun to have around though.
I’m feeling pretty frustrated with step-parenting right now.  I feel like I never get a chance to enjoy them because I am constantly on their case about their behavior.  I know a lot of it is not their fault, because they had so many bad habits before they moved here.  I know they don’t purposely do things that annoy me, but it’s still hard because lots of their behaviors baffle me.  I know this is something that I need to work on on a personal level though.
Daniel is super silly.  He’s about to turn 6 and will hopefully start 1st grade this year.  He’s a little behind on reading, and there was some concern that he wasn’t ready for first grade.  He was the second youngest child in the school this year, his birthday just 4 days before the cut off to be able to start school.  We had several meetings with his teacher and the principal about whether or not to have him repeat K or go ahead and move him up and just work with him closely this summer and over the next year to get him up to speed.  As is stands right now, we are not making a decision till after he attends a 3 week summer program in July.
So that’s my update.  I’m sure I left some stuff out, but I’ll be back to posting as usual.  Pinkie swear.

Jedi Camp: Day 2

Thursday, June 30th, 2011 by by

“Mom? Our master, Obi Wan, has a cell phone.”


“Do you think that means he’s not the real Obi Wan?”

“I think it means everyone has a cell phone.”

“I don’t know…”

“It’s probably because he’s in the future.”

“Oh, yeah! You’re right, Mom. This is the future!”


Thursday, June 30th, 2011 by by

This has been a very challenging few days – not for me personally, but tragedies affect me differently now that I am a parent, and I feel sick and heartbroken when people I barely know or have never even met are going through tough times. I am truly feeling at a loss this week because of 2 horrendous tragedies that have happened, both dealing with very young children. A 9 month old died from head trauma after a fall from a low height. It’s impossible to imagine what the parents went through immediately after as they try to understand what caused a very common incident with young children to become fatal. In the other, a young child around 3 drowned in a pool on a family vacation. I do not know the details, so I cannot share any more than that, but it is something I cannot stop thinking about.

I cannot stop picturing either accident in my head. I cannot stop feeling sick for these parents and the grief they are feeling. The other thing is that I cannot stop the anger. I have written about this before (see My Faith and Healing), and I honestly still struggle at times. I could feel it all bubbling again today when I woke up. I just started the day angry, short fused, no patience, everything bothered me and quite frankly, I was very grouchy. I just couldn’t stop it. In my heart, I knew that I should be grateful and so thankful for any and all time – good and bad – I get with my children and should enjoy every minute, but I was struggling. And it’s all because this is how I deal with sadness. I cry when I am alone, but when anyone else is around, I get angry – not at them, but because I feel so completely and utterly helpless. I can’t do a thing to help these people. I can’t change the situation. I can’t comfort them with just the right words. I just can’t do anything, and I hate it. I wish I could stop the anger. I wish that I could say that I fully trust God’s plan, and in a way I do, but I just don’t like it. I don’t understand it, and I would love to know why these things happen, but like I said in a previous blog, I *have* to believe that there’s a reason. I have to, because if I don’t, I am totally helpless. At least now I can do one thing, and that is pray for comfort and peace for the families that are devastated with grief right now.

Psalm 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit
Lamentations 3:31-33
For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.
Matthew 5:4
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.


Cultivate My Plate

Thursday, June 30th, 2011 by by

(Okay, so that only half makes sense.  Mostly, it just rhymes.  And I like rhymes.  They’re catchy!)

So, Memorial Day weekend was quite the plethora of celebratory activities. Namely, barbecues.  At one of those barbecues, Dustin saw our neighbor’s watermelon plant and began to have lust in his heart.  Maybe even his soul!  He needed a watermelon plant.  That next weekend, he was off to Lowes for a watermelon plant of his own.  Indeed, he got one.  He also got two varieties of tomatoes, summer squash, and jalapenos.  He then went back for a more tomatoes and also came home with a mandarin orange tree.  Then, after a week or two, there was concern billowing within him that there just was not enough pollination taking place.  After a morning spent observing and attempting to pollinate the plants himself, we were off to Lowes once more for brightly colored flowers that would attract the pollinators.  Normal people would call these bees…but not Dustin.  This is serious business.  They are pollinators. But I digress.  While at Lowes, I decided to get in on this planting business and picked up some basil and dill plants.  All in all, that’s a lot of plants, and a lot of goodness to enjoy once it’s time to harvest!!!  Got to love a man who lands his jet and comes home to tend his garden.  Here are a few photos of our burgeoning bounty!


Embrace the Camera

Thursday, June 30th, 2011 by by

Emily’s blog is up and running again, which means she’s back to embracing the camera. Hopefully she is feeling much, much better these days. Or, at the very least, feeling human again. Sometimes making beautiful babies is hard work, you guys!

There is a tiny little community center in our neighborhood. It was built in the early 1960′s and had been increasingly neglected over the past 10-20 years. Luckily, it seems that recently the neighborhood has had a renewed interest, and the community center has been undergoing some sort of beautification process. The center includes a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a picnic area, and it is located right next to a boat dock and park. Oh, and it overlooks the St. John’s river. It could be quite beautiful, and I’m so glad that the neighborhood is putting for the effort to make it that way.

I recently had an old friend move into a house a couple of streets over. She told me that she and her husband and their baby had been going to the pool every other night. It’s open from 7-8pm for free swim. I’m sure it’s also open during the day, but since we work, the 7-8 time frame is perfect for wearing our little ones out right before bedtime! Haeden has spent a lot of time in the pool the past few weeks, and he really seems to be enjoying the water. He is a little apprehensive at times, but I’m sure that by the end of the season he will be completely comfortable. We’re already working on teaching him how to swim, something I think is very important – especially living in the state of Florida.

The only problem is that Haeden doesn’t want to wear his bathing suit. (more…)

We live in TEXAS!!

Thursday, June 30th, 2011 by by

FYI… 2 week break for Texas Summer Giveaway Bash. I will be posting all about summer these two weeks and what us Texans do during the summer, besides having a blast at the beach! lol

This past week, I went to check out Dollar General. Usually I only visit to pick up tape or maybe when they have a sale on soft drinks.

Since they started accepting Manufacturer Coupons, I thought I’d check to see what kind of deals I could get, not to mention their Dollar General Rhythm and Race! You get points for purchasing specific products (labeled in store) and then get to redeem them for awesome prizes!

I also wanted to point out that, in Texas, we are always getting ready for severe weather…. Hurricanes! Dollar General has an awesome “Severe Weather Survival List,” and it’s an awesome list…. I keep it in my coupon binder and have checked off items that I have stocked up for Hurricane Season!



I can you hear in my head now.

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011 by by

…and for the record, getting on to me never does any good.

I totally never posted my Sunday Scrapbooking. I kept thinking, “Dangit! I only made 2 pages, and I’m actually not crazy about either one, so I’m just not wasting my time.” But, um, I made three pages last week, and I kinda really like 2 of them. lol So… I’m not sure what I was thinking yesterday. I think my brain was too eager for the start of True Blood Season 4 yesterday to make much sense of anything else. As it is now Monday, and we did discuss this some Saturday, I am too much a creature of habit to actually do my Sunday Scrapbooking on Monday. That would just be… wrong. lol But I will post small clickable versions of the layouts, so if you want to see them you can.

Next, I got some pretty awesome news this weekend, but I’m not sure if I can share it yet. It has to do with scrapbooking, and no, I still (more…)

The Weekend in Photos

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011 by by

Today, I want to tell you about my weekend. More specifically, Sunday, because Saturday was spent watching movies, sweating my butt off at a zumba class, and driving all over NE Florida looking for a place to eat dinner (we settled for Hooters, go figure). I’m feeling a little lazy today though, so I’m going to go ahead and let the pictures tell the story…


Fairy Fun with Friends

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011 by by

My friend Melissa had a charming idea to make a fairy house with her daughter. They covered a box with some leftover hot pink contact paper and various decorations and put it outside for the night. A real fairy came overnight and left “pixie dust” behind. The excitement was contagious, as her daughter called mine and the two of them talked all about fairies. (Much reference to the movie, “Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue.”)

We went over to her house that day, hauling along extra crafts and a baby wipes box. The girls had a great time building fairy houses together, then watching the movie with a snack.
With plastic rose petal curtains, felt beds, and pom-pom ball pillows, I’m sure the fairies that have been visiting each night have been hospitably comfortable. Furthermore, the look of pure joy expressed each morning as the girls discover the magical glitter pixie dust left behind is priceless!