Monday, February 29, 2016

Churchin' It Up

I've been thinking about church a lot lately. Mostly because if The Husband has to work over, we don't get to go. And that's a bummer. 
I've noticed something about the church we've been visiting. They, unlike our previous church, seem to encourage (or at least they don't discourage) parents keeping their little ones in the service with them.  At our church in Houston, there was a separate area where toddlers and kids and teenagers went while the adults worshiped. They had their own lessons and songs to keep them occupied.
I didn't really think anything of it until we started our family.  I realized very early on, that unless my kids were being super disobedient or were causing a ruckus for some reason, I wanted them with us. I wanted them seeing us worship and singing the songs. I wanted them hearing God's word preached while they learned to sit and listen. I wanted them in and among the body of believers taking it all in. I read this article the other day, and it completely solidified my thinking. 
Yes, it's difficult keeping two kiddos under the age of three quiet and still. Yes, it means The Husband and I have to be on the same page and diligent with our efforts. Yes, it sometimes means we have to take one of them out to have a reminder of how we behave in church (or any setting that has us listening to a speaker). And yes, it obviously helps to have things to keep their little hands and minds busy. 

Because Sunday mornings are a bit busier around here than most, I have to make a plan before heading out the door. 

1. I pack a little backpack that Jack can (and loves to!) carry. 

2.  I prepare two baggies of apple chunks (that I keep in my purse) for them to munch on around 11am (usually right as the sermon starts) since they're used to eating an early lunch.  Because, like every parent has found out, hungry toddlers quickly become disobedient and disruptive. 

3.  I wait to open the backpack until they start to fidget. There's no point bringing out anything if they're enjoying participating. They are happy to greet those around us (Jack will reach out to shake hands if the other person doesn't initiate.  He's gotten so friendly!), listen and even hum and clap with the music, and close their eyes and pray when reminded to. 

4. We keep Jack between us and Ella in someone's lap. Sometimes Jack wants to sit on a lap, too, and that's fine with us. 

5.  We have them stand (or be carried) when we stand and sit when we sit. Walking/crawling around isn't an option, and we want them participating as much as they're able. 
The above is what I packed this past Sunday after we finished breakfast (I snapped the below shot as we listened to a little Frank Sinatra while they chowed down on their yogurt and bananas and Cheerios). 
I will leave the books in the bag for a month or so (they don't look at these during the week, so they're a special thing). I, also, draw pictures on a few of the pages in the notepad. Jack colored this tree this week, and I think for a 2 1/2 year old boy, he did a lovely job :) He sat on my lap while he colored, and he took such care in coloring it. I kept nudging The Husband with pride, haha!  
Anywho, our church experience isn't perfect. We miss things that are said or are distracted from worship by something cute or irritating. 
But we're all together, and it's worth it.   This last Sunday, as I raised my hand in worship as we sung about the greatness of our Father, I glanced down to see my daughter, who I held close to me, close her eyes and lift her hands high in the air. My heart was glad, and I will continue to pray fervently that she and her brother will know the goodness of God and have hearts for Jesus. 

**I'm posting this just for the pure sweetness. Sunday evening as I got dinner together, I heard Jack (in the other room) say, "Eya, seeet."  
I looked around the corner and saw them sitting together looking at books and at each other, and it made me happy all over again that they have each other. So thankful and happy. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The 2 1/2 Year Old Imagination

I have really taken such delight in watching Jack's imagination develop. In his little mind, anything can be something totally different, and I attribute his creativity to having room time every day.  He has learned to play on his own for an hour and fifteen minutes.  To build things.   To pretend to fix things.  To look at books.  To watch the world outside his window.  To race cars and use his ambulance/fire truck/police vehicles to help his animals.  And, to then clean up the mess that's inevitably been made.  :)

Research shows that playtime, without electronics to distract, is vital to the maturing toddler brain.   Technology is amazing, but the ability to imagine is what got us technology in the first place.
What will happen when all of the tech-savvy toddlers and children and teenagers (who were never "forced" to entertain themselves without iPads and iPhones and TVs) grow up? Where will the innovators be? The thinkers? The dreamers? The problem-solvers? The people who can wait and not expect instant gratification in everything they attempt (because we all know that electronic games and TV offer instant gratification, and therefore, the brain starts to desire that more and more, which makes things like reading and sitting still and simply focusing on one task at a time extremely difficult, especially for children)?  The good stewards of this world?

Yesterday afternoon, I witnessed this.
I could. not. stop. giggling afterward.  The video still cracks me up.

Then, this morning, when Jack requested the song, "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy" and went in search of a horn and came back with the ring holder, it got me thinking about the whole topic above.  Creativity isn't just cute.  It isn't just silly. It's vital to our world.
Go, big dreamers!  Think and dream and create.  We need you. Go toot your imaginary horn :)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Five Facts Friday (2/26)

1.  My sister and niece stopped by yesterday before dinner to drop off a belated birthday present. I snapped this sweet shot while I was getting food ready. 

2.  So this was added to Netflix today. I watched four episodes while folding laundry this afternoon during the kids' naps. It's cheesy and sweet, and it's absolutely wonderful to revisit my childhood :) And Uncle Jesse still looks as handsome as ever, haha! Have mercy!

3. These gorgeous weather days have been great for after-nap playtime, and a neat, cheap spray bottle is a perfect outside toy. 

4.  Jack's tricycle was "broken" and needed "fixing."  
Ta-da!

5. I had to run to the bathroom when we came inside and heard the sound of lots and lots of small plastic pieces being poured onto the floor. Two minutes later, I open the door to this. It definitely took them a while to clean it all up. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Springtime Sunday

It's the middle of February, and we're dressed in our springy Sunday best while we enjoy this overcast afternoon. 
Jack likes me to trace him with the chalk. We have several chalk outlines on our front porch, haha! 
Ella likes to shout with excitement when she sees birds :)
I think these will be their Easter outfits since they both looks so sweet!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Five Facts Friday (2/19)

1. These two enjoy being around each other so much. Even when one is (or both are) having a potty break. 

2. Ella's still doing well with getting used to the potty. When she's successful, she'll loudly say, "bye-bye, tee-tee!"
It's adorable. 

3.  They also enjoy sharing the backseat of the car. I snapped this when we got home from the library yesterday afternoon. 
We returned our books about boats and checked out six or seven books on trains. I think we'll check out books on animals next week. 

4.  The Husband and I went on a double date with The Bestie and her hubby last night. It was nice to get out and be with other adults :)

5.  Anyone else seriously sad to watch these coming last few episodes of Downton Abbey?! Also, I'm loving the return of The X-Files, even if it's only 6 episodes, and I'm super pumped to watch Fuller House on Netflix in a few days!!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thankful Thursday (2/18)

Today, I'm thankful for the few men and women in my life who are honorable. I'm thankful for those people who not only make promises but keep them. Who are men and women of their word. 
Because, when it boils down to it, people who talk big but don't follow through are dishonest. People who make promises and then don't come through affect others in ways they probably can't even imagine. 
I'm doing my best to teach Jack and Ella that following through on something they've said they'll do or not do is important. That being someone who thinks of others first is important. That being honorable and honest is important.
Thank you, reliable family and friends, for being people we can count on. You are setting an awesome example for these two little ones.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Another Year Older

Today's my birthday. 
Ella decided that my morning should begin around 5am (I was able to go back to sleep for about another hour), haha, but, really, the morning so far has been lovely. 
I found these gifts from The Husband on the table when I went to fix breakfast. 
My favorite is the iPad case (mine was falling apart), but the coloring book comes in a close second. 
Then, The Husband arrived with these. The roses are pretty, but I LOVE the hydrangeas!
He's pretty impressed with them, too ;)
He took me to an early lunch while my parents stayed with the kids, and we are now stuffed. Goodness.  But the food was sooooo good. 
And for the last part of my birthday, I get to go have a massage this afternoon while my mom stays with the kids while they nap. Thanks, Momma, for gifting me with that!

It's been a nice day :) 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day 2016

If you take only one thing away from reading this blog, I hope it's this:  
God loves you more than you can fathom. 
Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  


Friday, February 12, 2016

Five Facts Friday (2/12)

1. The kids and I have been enjoying going to the library to pick out books. The last time we went, we checked out 7 Eric Carle books that we didn't own ourselves. Today, we checked out 6 books about boats. Jack was very excited.
He LOVES boats. I'm currently searching for a boat or two that they can play with during bath time. 

2. Speaking of bath time, this gal likes to lie down for most of it. She'll still play with toys, but she prefers to lie on her belly while doing so. 

3.  The Husband works most evenings, so dinners were proving a challenge to prepare with two little people hovering nearby the entire time. So, I made a switch about a month ago. Our big meals happen at lunchtime now when he's here most days and can keep them distracted and away from the hot stove and oven, and our lighter, easier-to-make meals happen at dinner. 
Here's tonight's easy-peasy dinner. 
We usually have sandwiches or leftovers and rarely something from scratch. 

4.  Zebra Cakes. I. Can't. Quit. Them. Anyone else feel me?!  

5.  I introduced Jack to the music of The Chordettes, namely "Lollypop" and "Mr. Sandman," a few days ago, and he requests them both by name every single day. He really enjoys the music from that time period, and so do the rest of us; it's pretty great dancing-in-the-kitchen music :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Two Things Tuesday (2/9)

1. I saw this on Pinterest the other day and decided to try it out. Our learning activity for Tuesdays uses glue, so it was perfect for today.
I didn't have shaving cream, so I was sort of crossing my fingers that The Husband's shaving gel would work just as well. 
I mixed up equal parts of glue and shaving gel (I totally guesstimated amounts), and showed Jack what to do. 
He had fun making clouds. I suggested we add in a few drops of red food coloring, and it turned a nice shade of pink. 
Then, I added in some blue to make a pretty lavender. 
He really enjoyed the activity, and the dried puffy texture is pretty neat. I will say that it's more spongy than I thought it would be, but that may be because of the shave gel. :)

2. The weather has been so pretty the last few days. We've spent most afternoons after naps and before dinners playing on the porch. 
Sidewalk chalk has made a reappearance now that Ella is old enough to understand when I tell her to take the chalk out of her mouth. ;)

Friday, February 5, 2016

Five Facts Friday (2/5)

1. Ella is still doing well with potty training. I'm only focusing on bm's right now, which makes things easier. She applauds herself, and I make a big deal every time she's successful. 
2. She also has decided that sleeping at night is not for her. I'm so grateful that The Husband gives his two nights off to take care of any issues that may arise with them while I sleep (usually) interruption-free. She sure loves her daddy. And yes, he shaved his hair off. And no, I'm not thrilled.  I miss that gorgeous red hair :/ I am getting used to it though. 
3. I love my quiet moments of nursing her, but her ice-cold fingers in the morning sometimes are a shock! :)
4.  Jack is as sweet as ever. He really enjoys coloring pictures now, especially ones from his Batman book, and tells me they are pretty when he's finished. 
5. I love coloring, too.