Friday, November 30, 2012

Celebrating Advent

This weekend marks the start of Advent.  Prior years, we've been lighting our Advent candles on evenings we have suppers as a family.  I've struggled, though, to find devotions that worked well for our little boy.  This is the first year that it seems less daunting.

In order to be even more intentional about family time and keeping Christ in Christmas, we're going to try adding an advent calendar to our tradition.  Looking on pinterest for ideas was completely overwhelming, but I found enough simple ideas and free printables to make ours relatively quickly.

The advent calendar by Simple Mom was my primary inspiration (her site also has a great list of possible activities to include in the calendar)
-- I used an old cork board, scrapbook paper, ribbon and paper clips.
-- The numbers printable was found at Green Owl Crafts. 
-- Inside each card is one of the cute daily scripture cards from Happy Home Fairy and a festive sticky note with a fun activity to do together. 

It was good to sit down with my husband and discuss what activities we wanted to include and which ones to put on the weekends so he could sure he would be home to participate.  Our list includes things like reading a Christmas book, local holiday events, baking cookies, and making crafts that will be gifts. 

The beauty of the sticky note is that if I need to rearrange activities based on our schedule, weather, or something else, I can.  For example, we included "have a snowball fight" as an activity mid-month but if we wake up to new fallen snow before that I can make a quick switch before breakfast (oh so sneaky).  (Activities that include snow though also have an indoor or non-snow alternative just in case, for example an indoor snowball fight with socks)

No, my calendar isn't all that original or beautiful, but it is functional and looks nice enough to hang up.  It was great that I had almost all the supplies on hand.  The only thing I ended up buying was the curly paperclips holding the cards onto the ribbon, though I could have just used thumbtacks (I had visions of the thumbtacks falling out and sitting on the floor waiting for a barefoot).  I originally wanted the small clothespins but it would have required an extra stop on errands day :)

Our schedule was pretty light this week so it only took part of two afternoons to finish.  My little boy "helped" cutting extra paper, gluing, played number games with the cards while I worked on other parts, used extra pieces of folded paper to make tents for cars, and had a Veggie Tales dance party (in a cowboy hat of course).

Honestly though, my pre-stay-at-home-self would be rolling eyes at all the work to put this together so if you're looking for something simpler...
  • Activities and/or scriptures in envelopes work just fine and there's lots you can do just between supper and bedtime (Christmas color sheets, wrapping presents, fun books, simple crafts, etc)
  • Create a countdown paper chain (I've seen some nice printables for this on pinterest)
  • A bowl with activities on small slips of paper to choose from each day.

Blessings to your family as you prepare for Christmas, remembering to celebrate the waiting along the way, keeping Christ at the center of the whirlwind month ahead.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Is it really more important than making a rocket?

The other day my to-do list was a mile long, lots of cleaning to get done and I felt behind.  I had just put a batch of granola in the oven (because cooking is always more fun than cleaning) and was about to put the empty oatmeal container in the recycling...  and I paused.  This would make a great rocket, I thought.

So I put my to-do list aside and asked my son if he wanted to make a rocket.  Of course he said yes.  While I rounded up supplies, I sent him on a mission to decide which toys would be riding in the rocket.  Buzz Lightyear and a few friends of course.

I had him find the tallest and widest of his passengers to make sure we made a big enough door.  Then we used part of another box to make the top.  He and I started decorating with paper, glue, stickers and foil.  We  had a fun time!
For anyone who knows him, I'm sure its not surprising that his pretend play for the rest of the day was all about space missions and astronauts.  All because of a split second decision.  This is why I'm treasure being home with him.  I'm so blessed to be able to encourage him, to create memories together, and to build rockets for imaginary space missions. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

First Visit to the Dentist

Yesterday my little boy visted the dentist.  The office suggested that he just tag along to my appointment so that his part of the exam was at the end of mine.  At first this made me nervous since the dentist is one of my least favorite places and I hadn't been to this one before.  Because it was so close to Thanksgiving, I was worried that we hadn't prepped or talked about it enough in advance but it worked out great.

Honestly they had him won over as soon as we walked in -- a small table with duplos/legos in the waiting area!  During my exam he brought a bag of toys and the hygenist brought in a kid sized chair from the waiting room.  He colored and played with his dinosaurs.  The dinos even went on a vacation to the hallway while they did my ex-rays.  And oh my did they have a roaring good time out there.  It was hard for me not to laugh!

While we waited for his turn, they brought in a new book for him, Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist, which we read together in the exam chair.  Perfect!  I think the chair made him nervous so I'm glad he was able to spend time on my lap reading, just the two of us.  I have a suspicion that it reminded him of the exam chair in the procedures room where he got his staples...

At first he wouldn't even look at the dentist, but after introductions we talked about how he went to school to learn all about teeth.  Then the dentist told him how many teeth he should have (10 on top, 10 on bottom) and asked if he could count that high.  That was the right question :)  He did great from there on out during the exam.  Of course the fact that they had a tv mounted on the ceiling playing cartoons helped too.

He so excited to get a new Diego toothbrush ("How did they know Diego is my favorite?") and to pick out a prize from the "No Cavity Club" box.  When we got home he rushed to show Dad all his new treasures and informed he got a special toothbrush, but "Mom just got a plain one". 

Showing off his new book, toy, and how he opened his mouth wide for the dentist :)
So thankful to have a positive first experience at the dentist :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Appreciating the Now

We've had a string of pretty good weeks here on the Gravelly Road.  Dad's travel schedule has slowed a bit.  We've found a really good groove at home (of course as soon as I post something will change).

I am so thankful for the stage we are at right now.  As much as I'm looking forward to holiday family fun, praying for some news about adoption, longing for a baby in my arms, the "now" is amazing.  A number of times in the last few weeks I've caught myself thinking, if I was also mothering a newborn right now this might not be happening.  Chasing each other back to the house after a walk in the sunset.  Having time to do 3 craft projects in one day (as he requested).  Writing down 2 very silly stories my kiddo made up so he could add pictures to make two books (one about a train crash, the other about a snake). 

Waiting is always hard for me but I don't want to get so consumed with the waiting and worrying that I miss the blessedness of today.  I am forever thankful to be the mom to my amazing little boy.  Sometimes that job itself seems so big.  We are blessed.  Thank you Lord!

In His Time

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fall or Winter?

Earlier this week we woke up to a dusting of snow outside.  An excited little boy declared "Its winter today!!  Will it still be winter tomorrow?"

In celebration of this "in between" season we are in right now, we did this craft project.  The same tree.  Two different seasons.  We had some great conversation about the differences between fall and winter, even that sometimes winter isn't so snowy. 

Before we started, I cut the trees and ground out of construction paper.  My son glued them down.  Then he started painting.  He used mostly Q-tips, which he thought was fun once he got used to them (he kept wanting to use the other end after painting for a while, making a mess on his hands).  He used a cork for the snowman.

He decided the tree in the pictures was next to a house with lots of kids -- which is why there are piles of leaves in one picture and a snowman in the other :)  I personally love the fact that a snowball/snowflake fell from the tree to hit the snowman in the head. 

So happy kinda fall, almost winter to you!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Our Weekend

An sunset stroll with my little boy. 
I mentioned that the sun was setting and he said,  "Mom, lets walk into the sunset". 
So we did.  (Well, really he ran into the sunset).
One last family campfire in the backyard.
Making fun cut out cookies.
Why wait for December to do all the fun baking?  Love that Dad is in the window reflection.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A future big brother...

My little boy has been interested in all things baby lately.  Maybe its our family prayers for a baby to join our family through adoption.  Maybe its that I've moved most of the baby "stuff" from the basement closet into the future nursery.  Maybe its just the age he's at.

Sometimes its Pooh Bear, other times its his lion or monkey, but he'll bring me a toy that he wants to put to bed, or feed, or put in the swing, or change a diaper.

So adorable.

He also talks about what it will be like to be a big brother.  The other day he asked if it takes lots of baby wipes to change a diaper.  I told him that yes sometimes it does :)  He replied, "I think I could learn to change a diaper Mom.  I could do that when I'm a big brother."

(If you read my facebook posts, you've heard this one but I have to include it here too).  A little over a week ago he said to me, "Mom, I prayed to God to send our family more boys. Is it ok to have seven boys? I asked for seven!"  I laughed.  Then a few days later he brought it up again, seven boys.  Then I told him I would have a hard time naming seven boys.  "I can name them Mom!" and he starts listing names.  So I grabbed a paper and pen and started scribbling (because it was too cute not to record).  He came up with more than seven, but here's his list: Jack, Matt, Sleepy, Circus, Daniel, Lion, Rote, Joseph, Pancakes, Oranges, Jim, Ron, Shawn, Strawberry, Rick, Bam, Rain, Kid, and Otter.  The next day he declared, "I changed my mind Mom... I think a sister would be good".

I pray for that day when he becomes a big brother.  Its so hard to prepare him for the changes that will come through an adoption, with its undefined timeline.  And so we take it a little at a time - waiting, praying, and preparing as best we can. 

All in God's Time.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Last of the Pumpkin Fun

Our pumpkins are on their last days, headed to the dumpster soon.  So today we went outside to look at their mushy spots, examine the lovely mold, and talk about decay (thank you Sid the Science Kid).

Then he pounded in golf tees with his toy hammers because.... well, it was just fun!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fun Canvas Painting

It was a dreary day yesterday and we didn't have anywhere to go.  Since our schedule this fall involves being away from home at least part of the day most days, we decided to "seize the day" and do a messy project.  The alternative was some messy baking, but that would have involved a trip to the grocery store :) 

I still had a 11x13 canvas on hand from the photo canvas project I did last month.  I decided we could try a variation of something I saw on pinterest.  I really didn't have much of a plan and we just had fun creating.  I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out.

I used painters tape and foam letter stickers to create a message on the canvas.  The heart took a few tries.  What worked best was to lay enough strips of tape on the table, draw the heart, peel each strip off the table and cut.  While I was working with the tape, my little boy was acting as my photographer.  I couldn't resist including the one he took of himself.  (The messy kitchen pictures plus all the ones of just the table or ceiling, we giggled at and then deleted).

Then we both painted :)  He used mostly brushes (he's in an anti-messy-hands stage so finger painting was out of the question).  I did have sponges and corks out as well.  I let him pick the colors we used.  I considered picking only colors that looked good with our decor but decided that wasn't nearly as fun. 

After it dried, I carefully peeled off the tape and stickers.  Some of the foam letter stickers left a little residue but it still looks ok.  I also added a layer of mod podge (only because it seemed like a good idea, not sure if it actually makes a difference).

He's already asking when we can do another so I guess this project was a hit.  (He wants to do his name for in his bedroom and one that looks like moose poop -- don't ask).  I'm not sure where this one will end up -- the hallway and the nursery have both been discussed.  So glad we tried this one!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fun with the Letter "S"

We've spent a few weeks on "S is for Snake", mostly because we've been so busy it was hard to fit any extra activities in :)


1) He had fun making snakes that look like the letter "s" from pipe cleaners and beads.  (Since he enjoyed it so much, I also incorporated some pattern practice)  I drew an "S" on the whiteboard to help him bend his snake into the right shape.  He later used his snakes to trace the letter "s".

2)  Together we made a snake collage using pieces of contruction paper he cut up (loves scissors practice).

3) Using painter's tape, we created a "S" road for his cars.  They had lots of fun racing on such a curvy road.
4) We talked about making springy snakes again, but ran out of time.
We also ended up with some other "S" fun here on the Gravelly Road -- our first snowfall last week (which thankfully melted the same day) and dressing up like a spider for Halloween.  
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