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Friday, August 31, 2012

Cotton Ball War

B Daddy thought up this little game the other night while I was making dinner to keep the restless troops occupied. I thought I'd share in case one of you ever needs a toddler distraction. Not that you ever would.

Sweet B was a pretty decent player as well once she got the concept of blowing out instead of sucking in. And yes I know the Bumbo is recalled and should not be used on an elevated surface. But I'll never give mine up.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Birds on a Wire

One of the most helpful and sanity-saving things I've done since becoming a mother has been joining a moms'  group here in Atlanta called Birds on a Wire.

I vaguely remember an evening 2 years ago when two of my girlfriends were talking about this Bible-studyesque class they went to on Monday mornings. Childcare was provided. My ears instantly perked up. At the time the Squirt was 18 months old; I was 8 months pregnant and feeling desperate and overwhelmed by life as a stay at home mom. Remember this post? And this one?? 

As soon as Sweet B was old enough to go to the nursery I joined this small group of women each Monday morning to sit at the feet of the amazing Karen Stubbs and learn. It was wonderful. Not quite a Bible study, not quite a lecture was mostly like listening to a long-time friend share all the nuggets of wisdom she'd gleaned from almost 20 years of parenting. I loved that I didn't have to do homework. I wasn't expected to speak. But if I had a question, Karen was all ears and jumped in with Biblical, practical and encouraging words. Now I affectionately refer to Birds on a Wire as "mommy therapy."

In the first few months I attended Karen walked us through The Five Love Languages of Children and Northpoint's HOPE Ministry curriculum. This past spring we learned about Personality Plus, which I've droned on and on about to any mama who's been unsuspecting enough to ask my opinions on child-rearing. 

Karen now teaches five classes across Atlanta and over 250 women will be coming together this fall to be encouraged in their calling as a mom. I'm thrilled because our fall class begins Monday and Karen has spent the past few months developing an entirely new curriculum. If you're looking for some encouragement from a veteran mom who has been-there/done-that in the world of parenting, you should check out Birds on a Wire. The talks are posted online a few days/weeks after they are given so you can have all the benefit of being in the class even if you're not in the Atlanta area. She also has a great devotional-style blog if you are looking for some daily encouragement in your mama life. 

I am so excited for Monday morning! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Feeling Grateful

I woke up this morning to the sight of my husband hand-washing all these dishes after his 5am trek to the gym.

Oh and he made my coffee- just the way I like it - too. 

I'm sure he's horrified that I've now publicly outed his good deeds (I on the other hand would have tweeted had I achieved a similar level of productivity and selflessness before 7am...#wifeoftheyear), sorry love. I think B Daddy served me in this way this morning because he knows I am a bit overwhelmed by house maintenance and childcare these days.

So now for the exciting news... we're getting a house cleaner again! The former love of my life cleaning lady up and moved away right before I had Little Brother and our home has been in a steady state of decline for the past 20 weeks. You don't want to know the last time I dusted. I'm allergic to dust and I still can't manage to dust.

Feeding the family, washing dishes and clothing and keeping Dakota's shed hair from blowing down the hall like a Tucson tumbleweed have been the only things I've managed to achieve household-wise lately. Minor things like bathing children, changing sheets and scrubbing that nasty black ring inside the toilet have been sorely neglected.

Starting Monday we'll have sparkly toilets and dust-free baseboards again. I'm wondering how much extra she'd charge to clean my children as well?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Summer Pics Round-Up

I for one am THRILLED that back to school is here and the long hot days of summer are (mostly?) behind us. Here are a few photos from the summer madness: you'll notice a distinct lack of swimming pics.

Related: I just signed up with Carbonite for a year's worth of automatic back-up and can't even describe my peace of mind this morning about the 11,000 pictures on this little laptop. Why did we wait so long to spend this $60/year?? I lost half a year's worth of pictures last year (including Sweet B's birth pics!!) and you'd have thought I would have figured out a back-up system right away after that debacle.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Art of Being

We don't need to review the fact that I'm not a super-mommy kind of mama. Generally speaking I don't like to hold children. I usually weasel out of pre-bed playtime with a mumbled excuse about dishes. If I'm invited to a "play date" I seriously evaluate the caliber of the other children attending and decide accordingly. I came into this stay-at-home mom life a bit reluctantly and the call to motherhood is something that continues to take me by surprise

Maybe that's why it took 3.5 years of mom life for this mommy first to happen.

I was sitting in the playroom/sunroom reading a book during nap time and got up to grab my 2pm drug of choice, Diet Coke. Mid-step over an abandoned truck I stopped in my tracks. The detrious of childhood was strewn across the floor in front of me. Primary-colored Legos, Hot Wheels, an armful of board books, a soft-bodied baby doll. Usually I make the kids clean up whatever plastic Playskool crap is covering the floor before naps, but the stress of the morning had caught up to me and I slacked on enforcement that afternoon.

I'm so glad I did.

Scanning the room, I was struck by how fleeting it all is. What a small window exists for play with blocks and dolls and crayons. I'm in such a hurry for these needy ones to tie their own shoes, to sit quietly in the car, to entertain themselves without me. When that day arrives will I long for this day when they just want to play with me? To BE with me.

I literally fell to my knees in gratitude for the hours upon hours I get to spend with these tiny people. Folks can tell you a thousand times how quickly it all flies by, but I don't think that's something you can grasp but through experience. At least not for me.

When the kids got up a few short hours later, they found me in the playroom. Sitting on the floor, ready to BE with them. A mommy-first.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Airplane Busy Bags for Toddlers

If you're a first-time visitor to Crazy Joy - thanks for stopping by. I write about homeschooling, our three accidental pregnancies, our four (very young) kiddos, and why I hate going to the pool.   Pull up a chair and spend some time looking around, if you like what you read, consider subscribing for updates straight to your inbox! 

We got home from our trip up to Michigan late Sunday night. Which means this week has been busy with unpacking, laundry, re-stocking the pantry, doling out discipline (do your kids entirely forget how to behave at home after a trip like mine do?!) and generally going insane.

While I wait for relatives to send me their pictures (we didn't take our big camera and my iPhone memory was FULL of course) I thought I'd share the busy bags I prepped for Squirt and Sweet B to take on the plane with them.

For the Squirt (3 1/2 years old) I packed:
  • Small books
  • Brown Bear matching activity
  • Numbers matching cards
  • Toy cars (McQueen and Mater obviously)
  • Small coloring book and crayons
  • Stickers
  • Happy Tot fruit/veggie blend pouch
  • Raisins
  • Granola bar (aka store bought sugary treat)
  • Lollipop and hard candy (for helping little ears adjust to the changes in air pressure)

Packing a bag he could easily carry all by himself was helpful. We get compliments on this bag ALL the time. It's adorable, super functional and the perfect size once you no longer need a big diaper bag. This exact bag is no longer available, but The North Face Sprout (Big Kid) Backpack is similar and I love the color.

I found the Brown Bear Brown Bear matching activity here...Sweet B has enjoyed playing with these cards too. Oh and I love having all the little card activities organized into these clear zippered pouches. When we're not traveling I keep them all clipped into a 3-ring binder so they stay organized (AKA off the floor) I found the zippered pouches at Staples, but Amazon sells these Transparent Binder Pouch (and offers free shipping with Prime - no brainer!)

Numbers 1-10 matching set of cards. (It's convenient to have an elementary school teacher for a mother...I get old classroom hand-me-downs like these all the time.)

For Sweet B (18 months) I packed:
  • 2 small board books 
  • Mini Magna Doodle (thanks Mom!)
  • Pipe cleaners 
  • Pom Pom push game
  • Button snake
  • Color matching clothespins
  • Stickers
  • Toy car
  • Raisins
  • Granola bar
  • Happy Tots fruit/veggie pouch
  • Lollipop and hard candy 

She, of course, needed a matching bag like her brother's. I, of course, want to eat her up when she's wearing it. Again, this exact bag is no longer made, but check out The North Face Unisex Sprout Backpack for something similar. 

For this matching game I painted the tops of small clothespins and went through my Sherwin-Williams paint deck to find matching paint chips. Great for hand-eye coordination and learning colors. 

I've seen this button snake activity all over Pinterest. Sew a button on to the end of a piece of ribbon and cut shapes out of felt with a slit in the middle. I knew Sweet B would stay entertained just putting the pieces on and off, but you could adjust this for older children by making different shapes and colors to teach patterns. 

Pom pom push game. I cut an (embarrassingly rough) hole in the lid of food container and put 10 pom poms inside. Sweet B stayed very focused taking everything out and pushing them back in one by one. 

My gracious mother in law took Squirt up a day ahead of us with her, so B Daddy and I only had to worry about one child, one carry-on, one personal item and one car seat each. Piece of cake, right?! We were a sight to see rolling through the airport. I had Blue Eyes in the Moby Wrap, Sweet B was riding on top of the stroller perched in her carseat and both B Daddy and I were trailing carry-ons, a backpack and diaper bag. My mom gave me the best advice I've gotten yet for traveling with tots... maintain your sense of humor!

Sweet B did great on the plane. And I was much calmer knowing we were as prepared as possible with activities and bribes snacks. Oh and sweet baby Blue Eyes? He slept the whole way. Both there and back. Love this stage.

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