Thursday, September 29, 2016

Charts and Chores and Clothing Drawers

 I've always been a checklist person. Recently I don't have as much time to write things down. I used to write to-do's down - even after I did them - just so I could check things off... Yeah, I'm one of those people. ;) But now I just have a blank page I turn into a weekly meal plan along with jotting a few things down to remember along the way.

But when Ryan mentioned he would like something written down for when he's in charge of getting Hadassah to bed, I knew Pinterest probably had the answer. :) It's too easy sometimes to overlook a step in the process, and now that Hadassah is completely out of pull ups for night time (yay!), forgetting the "go potty" step could have wet consequences. ;) Ryan really liked having a checklist, but Hadassah liked it even more!

 Anytime she goes potty during the day or washes her hands, she wants to pull down the flap. But I make her wait 'til bedtime, to keep it special and exciting, as so far it's worked!

It used to be that she would drag out bedtime and always come up with things to do instead of what we were doing. Now she rushes around to do what she's on so she can pull down another flap. I know the newness will eventually die off, but it's been almost 2 weeks and she's still excited and the toys are even picked up (which makes my mom brain so happy!) so we're all enjoying it. I did add some sticky velcro dots to the top and flaps to make them stay up better, since they were starting to get hard to tuck inside. But overall this was easy to print and a lot of fun for us. You can get your copy here.

Dassah's also at the age where she can do a lot of things herself. Instead of making a lot of changes at once (and likely failing without making sure to practice them) I've tried to focus on one skill per week with our "preschool." C was for chores, though I only finally got her chore magnets printed and made by the END of that week. But better late than never, right?

 This free printable was exactly what I was looking for. Instead of using velcro dots, I used sticky-back magnets. Dassah was immediately intrigued the first morning she saw them on the fridge, and ran to do them as fast as she could. I actually had to make her stop, since I was still eating breakfast and couldn't help her with things requiring help. ;)

She moves the magnet to the side of the fridge when it's done. It's nice though, because sometimes she gets in a move-them-all mood even though they're  not done. It's not like something she would check off, as I can simply move them back. ;)

She definitely can't do everything yet, and I discovered after a few days she doesn't really care/understand about money yet, so the "paid" section will wait for another year or two. And she doesn't always even help with everything, but it serves as a visual for me to see what we have left to do in our morning chore time. I aim to get dishes done (and usually have her help, otherwise she gets into mischief it seems) before going outside, and sweeping, a quick bathroom clean and a load of laundry started just before/as Ellie goes down for her morning nap and we start Dassah's preschool time. It doesn't always happen, but having a routine and a visual for her helps! I try to have her help clean up toys and her room before naps, which helps me too. I don't know what it is about a clean floor that helps my brain relax so much!

This has been good for her. Somewhere along the way with Ellie being born I stopped having Hadassah help me as much. She went from saying "Mama, I want to help you!" every time she saw me in the kitchen to saying "no" whenever I asked her if she wanted to help me. This is helping me be more intentional about teaching her as she is way more capable these days, and giving her a sense of accomplishment and a helpful spirit. We've had plenty of obedience issues along the way too, but those too are important training opportunities.

A while back I read an article about a "loop system" to tackle chores that don't often get done. Basically, instead of assigning a day to each chore (and then getting behind or one never getting done when you don't have time that day), you do a cycle. When you have time, you do the next one in the cycle. I never got around to making a document for it though. But these magnets are now on the fridge for me. These four (plus cleaning out the fridge - I should make a magnet for that!) are my top "don't like" list of chores, and I must admit, hardly ever get done. But moving one to the bottom after I complete it and knowing I don't have to face it for a while again should give me motivation to do it, right? :) I days I know I really want/need to do one of these, I move it to Dassah's row, so she can help give me motivation for it. 

For our D week in preschool, our skill was "dressing yourself." In order to help Dassah know where to find clothes - and because Ryan was almost never able to find things he needed when he was helping Dassah - I downloaded, printed, and colored (with some help from Dassah!) these labels. Kind of fitting that they're from a Dad blog, because Ryan was super enthused when he saw them. In fact, he said, "Can I have some for myself?" ;)

Dassah is doing really well dressing herself these days. She likes picking out underwear the best (what can I say, they make kids underwear have so many cute patterns!) and sometimes picks out interesting combinations of other things, but I love her initiative. She can do bottoms if she tries at it, but still needs help with tops as her arms get stuck. But while the "I can do it myself!" cry does make things slower at time, I am excited at the steps she's taking toward more independence and it definitely helps me when she can do something herself.

My first baby is getting so grown up...

Friday, September 23, 2016

C for Color and Caterpillars!

Here's a peek into our C week. :) I plan out the days, but sometimes the activities get switched around or ditched depending on whatever else is going on. But this week, with more sickness for Hadassah keeping us home from church on Sunday, it was really nice having activities we hadn't gotten to during the week (especially with Ryan off two days) to fill the time without Daddy on the weekend.

 C is for cut! Over the weekend I happened to decide to cut both of our hair. We're loving the shorter do's and less tangles!

 C is for cake! We used a mat to make a cake and decorate it. She was more interested in cutting it into shapes though, which is totally fine!

 C is for Candyland! For this very special time (I emphasized that, as I didn't want her asking every time!) we played her favorite game with some candy to eat once we reached the Candy Castle!

C is for color hunt! We used this printable and went for a stroller ride. I had to laugh that our intended hunt for colors in "nature" yielded a purple bike, a red car, yellow signs... Yeah, we definitely live in an apartment complex! But it did make her notice more color around here and she got very excited as she pointed various ones out.

 C is for curtain - and Ellie love playing curtain peek-a-boo for our play with baby time!

 C is for color maze on c's, cow and cloud (made with cotton), caterpillar finger painting (printable here), and a cute chick!

 C is for color! I cut out colorful circles, intending to make them into a numbered caterpillar hop for Dassah and her friends, but I didn't get that far. I did number them and taped them to the floor for kids to get some energy out before Bible study, as they hoped on the colored circles and then crawled through a tunnel. But while I was getting ready for the day, Dassah found the leftover pieces of paper and lined them up on her own. So C is for creativity too!

 C is for Christ is Risen! We read Matthew 28 and acted out the story. Hadassah was the angel so we had a white pinafore and I told her to choose something for her head. She chose the butterfly and said "this is a beautiful butterfly! It's good for an angel, right?" Of course I said yes. :)

 We had to dance to her absolutely favorite song too, "Christ is Risen!" by Keith and Kristyn Getty. It's been her favorite since she was just over a year...

 C is for cookies! As I cleaned for Bible study, this Cookie jar number match kept Dassah occupied for a bit. I made the cookies out of felt to make them last longer.

 C is for Cars! I painted her name as a car track for her while she did her caterpillar fingerprint sheet. She's never been huge into cars, so this didn't last her as long as some on kid blogs suggested. ;) But it was a fun idea! By the end of it, she decided to have her dolls walk on it instead of using cars.

 C is for clown! These printables are great, and kept her occupied through four sheets as I ironed. It wasn't too hard to stick magnets to pom poms, and it helps them work for activities like these so much better, as before when we've done stuff with pom poms they're always rolling away. ;)

 C is for cupcake! We did this activity for some mommy-Dassah time while Daddy had some Ellie time. She was very serious about getting the right amount of candles on each cupcake according to the number I'd put on it. She's getting great at counting since starting these activities, counting things she sees randomly during the day.

 Ryan enjoyed extra time to kiss Ellie - I mean, who can resist her baby skin?

 Then as I got Ellie ready for bed, she was excited to show Daddy her car track. It lasted longer when she had someone to talk to and do it with her!

 On Wednesday we got to watch the sweet 2 year old of a friend while she had a prenatal appointment. It was easy to watch someone extra when I already had fun activities planned to keep them busy!

Are you sensing a theme? I feel I'm not very good at spur-of-the-moment play, as I easily get distracted by all the chores and things that could be done instead. Planning activities has been so good for us both, as I love accomplishing plans and it makes me more intentional about doing fun activities, which in turn speaks love to Dassah as she gets mommy time!

 They made some cute paper cupcakes in our cupcake factory! It was cute watching them choose colors and of course the sprinkles were the hugest hit (and mess!) ;)

 C is for more cookies too! These cookie play dough mats were fun to give focus. Dassah doesn't play with playdough on her own very long, but she enjoyed making cookies with me and working on counting 5-8. I also managed to snap green beans for lunch around supervising cookie cutting for two kids. It was a little more tiring having an extra around as I was always on call to one of the three, but it was also a lot of fun! He was a sweetie, too, saying "thank you" every time I gave him something.

 C is for choo choo! They loved this simple game. They took turns wearing the "train driver hat" and choosing where we went when we said the last choo choo and arrived. And yes, he's wearing a dress. His big sister LOVES dress up so he just follows in her footsteps and chooses a dress to dress up in almost every time he's over. ;)

 Even Ellie got to be the train driver, which was pretty much the most adorable thing ever.

 Per Dassah's request, we had to play Candyland again!

 C is for caterpillars, out of circle stickers! The idea I saw was to glue pompoms on popsicle sticks, but stickers allowed them to do it themselves which helped me with lunch prep.

 C is for coloring! Dassah has gotten much more attentive to what she's coloring with the different sheets we've done in the last few weeks. I was excited to see her carefully coloring each foot, drawing glasses on the face, and filling in the words! And yes, a princess headband and ballet leotard is definitely necessary for the activity. ;)

 C is for circle painting! Dassah wasn't too into it for long. But I thought it was fun and plan to use my flower and collage for stationary ;)

Dassah had more fun making handprints and getting messy - totally appropriate for a not-yet-3-year-old!

 C is for climb! Not that this is new though. She's been doing this daily for a few months now!

This one can't wait to take after her!

 It's fun having all the color around as we change out crafts and sheets completed during the week. She also loves to tell everyone who comes over, "look what I made in preschool!" I bought a pretty cheap notebook with page protectors to slide the crafts into when they're taken down. Saves me having to figure out what we'll throw away for now. I know we can't keep it all, but it's hard to think about getting rid of anything yet. ;)

 C is for chalk! We drew Cs of varying sizes and then erased them with water as a tracing activity. She drew some of them - backwards and horizontal mostly, but she had the shape down. :) I love her excitement when she does something too - she's the best student in my opinion, but of course I'm a bit biased. ;)

 C is for cat! She is not as into puzzles as she used to be (when she'd do them over and over around age 2) but putting some away for a while and then bringing them out for preschool makes them seem new (and allowing me to get some lunch prep done!).

 As an active number activity, I spread out her number puzzle pieces on a path and asked her different questions (how many people are in our family? How many fingers are on your hand? How many eyes do you have?) and she ran and picked up the right number and brought it back for Ellie to play with. She had a lot of fun!

 It was great for a outside break and a new activity to give motivation to move.

We also did a chalk color hop. I'd tell her which color to hop on, sometimes giving a pattern (do blue, pink, blue). Sudden rain gave the excuse to go back inside for lunch.

It was a fun week! I am thankful for the ideas gleaned online and in the Toddler's Busy Book I picked up at a bargain. Being intentional with playing with Hadassah is a blessing to us both. I am realizing that sometimes she gets too reliant on me, though - at times saying "give me an activity, mommy!" so I am trying to emphasize that at times other than "preschool" time she sometimes has to find something to play by herself! But overall, it's been positive thus far!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ten Months with our Ellie Girl

No... she's not almost one is she? Can't be... But at 10 months, while quickly growing and maturing, we are still fully relishing the babyness of our sweet Eliana Grace!

Cute, sweet, and a great sense of humor. But don't let that cute pose fool you...

...she was just taking off her headband for the 5th time in a row. "Here, Mommy, YOU can have it!" ;)

A bitty bow for this photo shoot seemed better, since she combed her hair to get it multiple times yet it escaped her grasp. ;)

I remember first time around I heard so many moms ahead of me on this parenting journey reminisce about how much they loved nursing their babies. I enjoyed it with Hadassah, but I didn't really get it. This time, I relish each time I sit down to snuggle with Ellie's smooth, chubby skin, give her the nutrition she needs, and just SIT for 5-10 minutes with my feet up. Nursing is God's gifts to moms I've decided. :)

It also makes me laugh to see what Ellie chooses to hold while she nurses. I discovered a while ago that she was less distracted (and pulled on my face/hair less!) if I gave her a toy to hold while she nurses. I keep a few stuffed animals on the bed for the purpose, and sometimes she'll stop mid-way, sit up, switch toys, and lay back to nurse more. She has a lamb blanket, dolly, and big lamb, but sometimes her favorite is an old, empty lotion bottle. Gotta love babies!

She's a girl always on the go...

...I blink, and she's already there! Kind of how she's growing up. Time flies so much faster the second time around it seems!

Ellie at 10 months:

*nurses 4 times/day * will hardly eat anything pureed - wants whatever I'm eating! * sleeps well at night, though up every now and then with sickness or random wake-ups (that thankfully don't usually last past one night at a time!) * two regular naps of 1 1/2 hours each * ten teeth total * has the best "chipmunk" face * gives the funniest look of disdain if she doesn't want some food I'm offering * says "Ha-dath-a!" and squirms with joy when she first sees her in the morning or after a nap * leans back and offers Daddy her neck to be tickle kissed * stands alone for 30 seconds or more steadily * cruises furniture, the wall, doors... * pulls up on her walker and goes! * walks steadily holding one hand * bends to pick up leaves and sticks * loves to crawl on the playground * goes down slides on her tummy (while I steady her some) * says "Mama" and "Dada" a lot * says "grr" (bear), "aah" (sheep) and "maow!" (cat) - and randomly assigns them to any animal she sees * gets SO excited to see (and sometimes pet) cats and dogs * claps for songs * has the cutest bobbing dance * beams at any praise and raises her eyebrows in sweet delight * waves her hand and shakes her head when I say "no no!" - but often does it anyway! * says "uh oh" adorably and all the time * loves to drop things * wears 18 month and 2T clothes * an adorable, refreshing, joy-bringing gift from God. * 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Mid Autumn Festival Fun

Thursday began the Mid-Autumn Festival. We enjoyed Ryan having two weekday days off, though the way the government arranges things, he was supposed to head back to work on Sunday, to make up for the holiday missing work. Thankfully his boss allowed him to work on Saturday instead, as we don't want to miss church, especially when Ryan is leading worship. But workday traffic on a Sunday means we would need to take subway (1 hour, 30 minutes) instead of taxi (45 minutes). We've been blessed to be a part of a new church plant, but despite moving closer to our area of this huge city, the way roads and subway transfers are, it's exactly the same amount of transit time from our place. But it has been neat to get more connected to a smaller group, and we're trying to make it a priority to stay downtown during the day at friends' apartments so we can also go to the evening service. But not tomorrow, not with work day traffic delays. Then to top it all off, Dassah woke up with a cold (no - not another sickness!!) so it looks like the girls and I won't have to fight the office commute tomorrow...

But I digress.

Thursday we met up with some good friends for lunch. We thought since it wasn't a work day, traffic would be a breeze, right? Well, not when everyone else is off too and driving to meet friends and family. We got stuck in traffic for 1 1/2 hours, with squirmy hungry girls, arriving an hour after we'd planned. After just an hour with the friends (but a wonderful hour and a yummy lunch!) we headed back home, on the predictable hour-long subway instead. 

 It was late. The girls were an hour past their usual nap time. I was tired, getting a headache, and annoyed at all the time it spent just to have lunch with friends in our same (though huge!) city.

Yet Dassah sang. Sure, there were many moments of tired disobedience along that trip. But as we finally got closer to home, she stood at the window and sang praise to God as she watched the city go by. She's learned some hymns and children's songs, and often mixes bits and pieces of them to make her own songs. The pure beauty of praise from a child is so refreshing.

That night we went swimming - best decision ever! It was rainy, but inside we could all get some energy out. The pool was almost empty (almost unheard of!) and BOTH girls absolutely loved it. We felt we made up for all the commute time we put them through earlier that day. ;)

Speaking of rain, Dassah got to go puddle splashing three mornings in a row because it rained so much! Yes she gets wet and there's more laundry, but she gets energy out, and childhood is too short to miss out on opportunities like this, right? While searching for puddles we also noticed some yummy looking treats in front of a small store. We tried one (for all of 15 cents!) and discovered they indeed DID taste like a cross between a donut and a funnel cake. Not sure if it's a good thing that we discovered such a cheap goodie within walking distance! ;)

On Friday morning while Ellie napped and Ryan rested, Dassah went out for some mommy/big girl time. I told her we were going to do "girly" things with some friends, and after that she kept telling people we did "curly" things. :) She was pretty excited to dress up and go off with just mommy, and our friends were only a five minute walk away. Pretty perfect!

 Dassah has talked about getting nails painted ever since Grammy did it in May, so it was fun to do it with her. :) She picked out red first, but then wanted a different color for every finger! I am far from skilled at painting nails, but with two girls I'm going to get lots of practice I can tell. :)

 When did my girly get so grown up? She enjoyed playing dress up with her friend's things, which to Dassah means she puts something on only to immediately take it off and try something else on. Her four year old friend didn't quite understand that approach. ;)
 It's fun to have friends that Dassah knows and loves so well living so close by! It was refreshing for me too, to be able to talk some with my friend while our children played. We moms only get conversation in snatches, but those tidbits are sweet.

 For lunch on Friday, our good friend and former neighbor, recently back from time in the US, had us over for lunch. They always bless us so much with food and fellowship! Dassah loved her first experience with lima beans in a (hairy) shell. She peeled and ate over half of the bowl intended for everyone!

Miss Ellie is growing so fast, and so tall. Dresses longer on Hadassah at an older age are already getting too short! And her "look what I did!" face is the absolute best.

 When there was a break in the rain, we biked to Zoo Coffee after naps, Dassah's choice for her shoe celebration. She had always resisted putting her own shoes on, insisting that "I can't!" and I'd give in and do it because we were always already late getting out the door... But I knew she was old enough, so I gave her a challenge: put your shoes on yourself every day for a week, and we'll go out for ice cream. It's pretty amazing how she learned how almost instantly (though not without effort!) and so she earned her sweet reward. And I am so enjoying not having to bend down to put her shoes on multiple times a day!

She can also turn anything into a play thing these days, like the water bottles we get delivered. (Yes, delivered to our door and Ryan can even just call the guy when we run out now. No more filling up bottles and hauling them home!).

 We went to the Secret Garden after naps on Saturday since Ryan was working - he works so hard for us! This is actually from a few days prior, when we discovered it was finally open again after about 6 weeks of being closed. It's on campus and the students were on break so I guess it makes sense that it was closed, but we'd still gone at least once a week just to check, since it's such a retreat for Dassah and me. No risk of cars, just the ability to wander (as long as she doesn't go too close to the water everywhere!) and beauty all around.

There isn't as many flowers in the fall, but they make up for it with beautiful fall plants!

 Now that Ellie can steadily walk holding on to one hand, she is enjoying it a ton too. She wiggles to get down whenever she can (when I'm not trying to keep up with Dassah!) and picks up leaves and even huge sticks just like big sister. She also loves bobbing up and down in her special dance while holding on to (and trying to climb) this gate. :)

 After supper though, for some family fun we went out to the shopping mall just a short taxi ride where they've set up some fun carnival type rides. The trampoline with a harness that lets her fly is by far Dassah's favorite.

Ellie was in a great mood, wandering around and watching Dassah's joy and the bright lights!

But seriously, how did Hadassah get big enough to go on rides like these by herself? They grow so fast... And she's hardly scared of anything!

 Ellie kept wanting to walk over to the Merry Go Round and would giggle every time, so we decided to take her too. They kindly let them both ride for the price of one. It's memories like this that will last.

Especially when afterwards we joined the crowd of people dancing in the square. I figured out a little of the Chinese line dances while Dassah did her own thing much to other's delight. We also got a few looks when we pulled out a few swing dance moves of our own, while each of us held a girl on our hip. Evenings like these hold so much joy.