Throw Back Thursday

A few weeks ago we spent a Saturday morning downtown. I didn’t carry my big camera with me but when we walked past a place where I had taken the kids pictures before we did a sort of re-create picture. It didn’t turn out nearly as good as some other recreations we’ve done but it was still fun to try and squish them into the same little spot they had all fit into before.

I am going to assume by the lack of coordination in clothing that we hadn’t planned on taking pictures that day.

Obviously we hadn’t planned to do pictures this Saturday either.

My goodness, how they have grown! Pardon me while I go have a good cry.

The Second Day of Christmas

For our family the Christmas season is just getting started. We’ll celebrate for a full twelve days, until Epiphany, with small gifts or special activities. We have two families that also mark the season the same way and it’s always fun to plan stuff together.

This year we did a gingerbread house decorating contest and oh, my the sugar and creativity flowed freely!

Some of us made our ginger bread from scratch and some of us (me!) used the store bought kits. But we all had to have some gingerbread people to complete our cookie scene.

Fruit roll ups make for excellent roofing trim!

The ginger bread train was loaded with gumdrops and other candies!

The final houses…

It was a fun afternoon with dear friends and a possible new tradition for our annual celebration.

The Wrong Way To Do A Gender Reveal

I love shooting for the same family over the years, capturing various major events in their lives like weddings and gender reveals, and newborn pictures.

It helps to have a strong lengthy bond with the family when you stick your foot in your mouth and accidentally tell the mama to be what sex the baby is before doing the actual reveal. And you do it in front of two friends that you’ve gloated to that you knew what the baby was and and they didn’t. Pride, indeed, goes before the fall. And man that landing is hard!

Thankfully the mama is one of the most laid back and gracious people I am blessed to be friends with so all was forgiven and much laughter was had. (Agh, you have no idea how mortified I was…I am, though!) But we still got some really sweet pictures of Daddy and big sister finding out so all’s well that ends well.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Psalm 127:3

Play Is Work ~ Another Simple Toddler Activity

Although I didn’t get a lot of comments on the blog post itself, the activity I shared here a few weeks back generated a lot of interest on facebook and pinterest. Easy busy work with a purpose for little people is apparently something people are curious about I guess.

Remember my friend Gabriel that I mentioned? He needed something to do that offered a bit more of a challenge. More than likely you probably already have everything on hand that you need for this activity ~ you simply need a plastic bowl and some clothes pins. But there are other ways to make this appealing to children and now that school supplies are on sale it’s a good time to stock up on various types of clips. You can also use squares made from either cardboard or heavy card stock instead of a bowl for your child to clip the pins to.
I like the bowl since it doubles as a holder.

Again, this is a simple activity that will help develop small muscle control and that all important pincer grasp. The regular clothes pins were easy for Gabriel but the metal clips presented more of a challenge since they were harder to squeeze open. A variety of clips in different styles, colors and sizes will keep the activity fun.

Remember that clipping the clips to something is only half of the task…taking them off and cleaning up is part of the process.

You can also easily turn this into a math activity by writing numbers on index cards and having the child clip that number of pins to each card. Or instead of numbers make it a color matching game by matching your clips to colored squares.

Play Is Work ~ Something For The Little People In My World

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I taught in a Montessori preschool. There are some things that I really enjoy about the Montessori method especially for those younger preschool years. Those first five years are just chalk full of so much happening in their little lives and world. It’s such a fun and active time.
I learned a lot during my Montessori certification and used it extensively when my kids were little but with Claire about to turn eight (where did my baby go?!) I haven’t given much thought to all of that. But I’ve got some friends with preschool age kids so lately I’ve been thinking about simple activities that can be done easily. Because I am blessed to have a lot of these little people in and out of my house on a regular basis I started pulling together some things for them to do when they come over. I have a large basket on my washing machine where I am adding and keeping stuff as I make/assemble the activities. 
I thought I’d share them here too because it’s nice to have ideas of things for them to do while you’re cooking dinner or paying bills and whatever.
The great thing about most of the things you do with children this age is how developmentally helpful the activities are and the kids are clueless and just know they’re having fun. They really couldn’t care less that you are working to strengthen their small muscle control or eye hand coordination, both of which will be helpful down the road with reading and writing. For them work is play and play is work.
Another great thing about these type of things is that they can be put together on the cheap or you may have stuff already on hand. The first thing I put together required a sugar shaker (the Dollar Tree) and some wooden skewers I already had. This activity can be done by children as young as two and as old as five with some modification.
My friend Bobby is two and he played happily with this for almost 45 minutes. I showed him the pointy end of the skewer and we talked about it being sharp and how we needed to be careful with it so no one got hurt. And then I showed him how to poke it through the holes of the sugar shaker lid. This kind of activity works their small muscles, specifically their pincer grasp, and their eye hand coordination. It also helps develop their ability to concentrate and their ability to follow directions. 
small muscle development, montessori inspired, preschool activities
A few days later my little friend Gabriel, who is three, came over and he wasn’t interested in this game at all. It was too easy for him which got me thinking how it could be modified to suit older kiddos. 
Changing out the skewers for pipe cleaners makes it more difficult to get in the holes since they are more 

bendy.You could also throw in some color matching skills by adding pony beads to the process. Once they’ve placed the pipe cleaners in the holes you can have a bowl of  beads ready for them to thread onto the matching pipe cleaner. Have them count the beads and now you have them doing math 🙂 

One thing I want to add about these kinds of activities is that when I was using them with my kids clean up was part of the process. I wanted to reinforce the idea that they were not completely done with the task until everything had been returned to its proper order. I Corinthians 14:40 reminds us that everything should be done decently and in order and it is in simple little ways like this that we can instill that concept into our children so that it becomes their way.
Next time I’ll show what I came up with for Gabriel that kept him busy for a little while and was more challenging for him.

Sometimes

Parenting is hard and sometimes it can be really hard.

You have to make difficult decisions and then follow through with them. And sometimes you can explain the reasons behind your decision and then sometimes you can’t.

Everything we do should be done for the benefit of our children…for their good. Even when they don’t think it is.

Our goal with every decision, with every act and moment of discipline is to strengthen our children in their faith, in righteousness and obedience.

And sometimes we screw it up.

Sometimes you realize that all the correction hasn’t been a lifting up but rather putting down; oppressive instead of liberating.

Those are interesting words aren’t they? In relation to sin and correcting I mean. I haven’t thought about it that way, not really. But Scripture is full of the imagery of God lifting His people up, of raising them up out of the pit.

Our correcting, not just as parents but as brothers and sisters in Christ, should be done with that same idea in mind. We correct, not so that we can defeat the sin in our children’s hearts, but so that we can lift them up out of the pit of their sinfulness.

It is a battle to be sure and sin is the enemy and we do want to defeat it. But if we are so intent on defeating the foe, on waging war against the sin itself, it is quite easy to forget the personhood of the one that we seek to liberate.

I’m not saying that we should not correct ~ far from it actually. But our correcting needs to be focused on the redemptive work in the mind and soul and heart of our child and not just the big black ugly sin.

Why? Because we want to shape and form a heart that not only hears correction but loves it. Because sometimes we want obedience in little things because there will come a day when He will want obedience in big things.

Titus2Tuesday

Party Favors

That’s a rather enigmatic title isn’t it? But I really wasn’t sure what to call this post. Photo-shaped-like-those-sour-cream-thingies-candy-holder?

Bit of a mouthful isn’t it?

Call them what you will but I think these little things are so cute and pretty unique. They are also rather versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. The first time I made them it was for an end of the year class party. I had taken photos of each of the children in the class already for another project so it was easy to personalize them so that each student got one.

This time my daughter used them as her Christmas gift/favor for her classmates and we used a picture my other daughter took of her. I added the message and had them locally printed in 4×6 size.

Choose one short side of the photograph and run a stripe of hot glue down the edge. (I’m not a huge fan of hot glue but I’ve tried every other permanent tape on the market and none of them hold together.) Next fold the picture into a tube shape over lapping the edges so they’re glued together.

Run another stripe of glue along one side of the bottom of the tube. Press it together without creasing the picture to seal.

Drop some candy inside. We used a mix of miniature candy bars and kisses. Be careful not to add too many because you still need to seal the open end. I added about 4 pieces in each.

Going in the opposite direction of the bottom edge, add another stripe of hot glue to one side and press to seal shut. It’s important that you not seal both ends the same way as this is what gives the holder it’s shape.

And voil`a you have a cute little thingamajig!

Things to know, really only one thing that you need to keep in mind, is that hot glue is called hot glue for a reason. If you’re a seasoned crafter you probably already have a system for how to press and close off what you’re gluing but I still ended up with a small blister that hurt like all get out. Hold each gluing step for 10 seconds or so to ensure your bond is set before moving to the next step.

So, how adorable would these be as a favor for a wedding shower using a picture of the couple? Or a tummy picture for a baby shower? They’d also make great valentines too.

What do you think? How else could you use them?

Sharing my craftiness with the No Rules Blog Party, Sparkle and Shine, Show and Tell Friday, and last but not least Rae Gun Ramblings.