Sunday, February 24, 2013

dress up station

I had found this on pinterest and thought it would be great for the dress up clothes. They were being kept in my great-grandma's old suitcase. But it was running out of room and the kids weren't playing with the stuff very often because it was out of sight under Elle's bed. Chris made this for them and it is awesome! No color yet because we're still deciding, but that's no reason it can't be functional! I also decided since I hadn't really posted about Elle's kitchen I'd take a picture of it on the rare day that it's clean. Chris' dad made this for Elle awhile back and both kids spend lots of time here.
Elle couldn't wait to pick out a dress and an outfit for Todd. She posed like this and said, "This is how Cinderella does it!" Love her! Todd thought he was cute stuff in the cookie monster suit.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

no day like a snow day

We've had a snow day one day the last two weeks. For the first one, Todd was just getting over RSV and Elle was just getting over the stomach bug so we stayed inside. I moved Elle's toy box and put their stools by their window so they could look out any time they wanted. I found Todd at the window a lot throughout the day!

Elle wanted her puppy to see too!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

getting lovey-dovey

Valentine's Day has hit our house! I put up Elle's heart lights and this year found some for Todd. Elle told me one day hers are pretty and Todd's are cool because boys can't have pretty things. A 3 year old's mind!
I made one of these for my mom for Christmas and it was so easy and cute I had to make one for us! I may add some more burlap though to make it more full. This is our front door. Since the girls are so limited on what they can put up around the floor I like to have something out there that warms up the place a bit.

For the kids I've been able to keep up with making them a box for each month. Here's Elle's February craft box as we call it. Some things we already had and others I got from the Target dollar section. It has little pom poms, a red dice, heart stamp, different containers, heart measuring cups, a heart pencil and pad of paper, heart buttons, heart ice cube tray. She can get creative with these things, practice numbers, writing, and other skills.
We also have a sensory basket for Todd. This month I put in the big red, purple, pink, and white pom poms, foam hearts, some plastic heart containers left over from candy, velvet flowers left over from a box of candy, squeeze hearts, heart whistles, and red and purple foam cubes. Elle's firey alter from bible class also made it in there, because it's a bottle of water with oil and red glitter. I put the valentine bucket next to it so he can put things in and take them out.
This is our February book bucket. This is how we rotate books. In our bucket this month we have Groundhog's Day and Valentine's Day books.
I've always kept some smaller toys in the living room in this basket. This month I put red and pink toys, plus our Valentine toys.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Daddy Daughter Date Night 2013

When your a teacher your best way to get resources is to talk to other teachers and beg, borrow, steal, and copy what they do. When I first started working at Mayfair I quickly realized I was in new territory and called up other children's ministers in the area to see if they had any advice. After meeting with several other churches I noticed they all did events that involved one parent and their daughter(s) or son(s). I felt like we really needed to add some of these events at Mayfair for the families that currently attend there and as a way to provide opportunities for them to invite people into our building.

A couple of Saturdays ago we had our first parent/child event, which was Daddy Daughter Date Night. Brenda Gordon at Edmond CoC was so nice and gave me all the information from their event. The theme for the night was "In His Steps". I sent the dads and daughters a formal invitation for the dads to take their daughters out to eat and then meet at the church at 6:30. Katie helped me set up and stayed to take these great pictures! I couldn't have done it without her! Todd "helped" too.

We had a dad with a teenage daughter emcee the night. His daughter came with him and was also a huge help, especially with the little girls. We started out with an ice breaker game. Three dads (Chris and two other dads) volunteered to hide behind a board while the daughters guessed which feet belonged to their dad. The girls did a great job and guessed correctly.
Then the dads went to a separate room with our emcee to write letters to their daughters, which we mailed afterwards. Our emcee went with them so that they could ask him questions or they could all talk together as dads with daughters. The girls stayed to fill out surveys to see how well they knew their dads. This was so fun and cute! The girls were asked things like what's your dads favorite color, how old are they, etc. Next time we'll have to plan some extra activities for the girls because they didn't take as long as the dads for this portion and they got pretty restless.
After the dads were done we had them come back and help their daughters decorate cupcakes. While they did this we read off the daughters answers.

The last part of the evening involved a bible verse scavenger hunt around the building and a fun photo booth. The dads had to lead their daughters to each clue by looking up the verse in a bible. At the end the girls received a cute crazy straw to take home. It was such a fun evening and so touching to watch all the sweet daddies with their daughters. I can't wait for our next events like this!

Friday, February 8, 2013

our new normal

I've hesitated to post about my job out of respect for friends. I'm not sure if there's anyone that doesn't know about it, but I would like to post about it because it's a BIG part of our lives now. In June I started working at Mayfair CoC on a temporary basis heading up the children's ministry. It stuck and at the beginning of the fall I signed on indefinitely. I absolutely love working as a children's minister! I love that I get to use my education experience and feel like I'm being productive for God's kingdom. I'm glad I get to do something that directly benefits Elle and Todd. I've learned a lot, and I know I still have a long way to go. I've been so blessed to have to get out of my comfort zone. I am a complete introvert and having to ask people for help is a huge step for me. I love that I get to work with the kids. One of my favorite parts is singing and stories at MDO even if it does look chaotic at times. I even love getting lost in the messiness of the workroom! But, this has had a huge impact on our every day routines.

This is the first time Chris and I have both been working at all while we've been married. It's been an adjustment for all of us since Todd was so little when I started, but I think we're finally getting there. We've had to work around two dissertations, dorm duty, and four jobs (OSSM, Mayfair, Chris' class he's adjuncting at Rose State, and the kids). It's been a challenge to our marriage and family, but I think we're becoming better people because of it.

After I had Todd, Elle continued to go to Sonshine School two days a week and Todd and I would work on my dissertation at home. I also tried working on it here and there, but it has always had the kids, home, Chris' job and his dissertation to compete with. Since I started my job, Chris has been taking Elle to school (to save me some time driving back and forth) and then Todd and I pick her up. This has been good for their relationship as well, and Elle's picked up some German! They listen to German CDs on the trip and Elle has really gotten into it! Todd and I have been going to Mayfair the days Elle goes to school so that I'm at the building during the hours Mother's Day Out is running and this is my time to work on the things I can't do at home. Todd has slowly been adjusting to staying in his class the whole day, but that's one perk of me having this job that I can have him right there with me if I want.

I tried to work on dissertation, but it quickly became apparent as Chris was so close to finishing his that it was impossible for us both to work on one. Last fall, my work got put on the back burner until Chris was done in November. At that time we worked out a schedule for me to try and get some time in the mornings and weekends, but it was not very consistent so I wasn't being very productive. I was also starting to feel like we never saw Chris between his 8-5, Rose state, and dorm duty. This semester I started doing the dorm duty. This gives me an extended semi-uninterrupted time to work and gives Chris more time with the kids. So far it's been working out pretty well.

For awhile I tried going to staff meetings at Mayfair, which are Wednesday mornings. However, I started having anxiety about the time I was dragging the kids around or working, and for a little bit this was time I also needed for dissertation. So I asked to be excused from those hours for a while. As our schedules have adjusted, and as Todd has gotten older, I've decided I need to go to a couple of meetings a month and have a little extra time at the church by myself to work on things. I approached our neighbor Sara, who is a stay-at-home mom, about watching Elle and Todd for a couple of hours twice a month. We've arranged for Elle and Todd to go to the Walkers (first floor, boys side) to "play" with Sara and Lily their two month old daughter on the first and third Wednesdays. (Yes, she has taken on the challenge of Elle and Todd with a newborn!) The Walkers are so sweet! David is also an OSSM alum, who is now in med school at OU. Here's a link to Sara's blog if you want to know them a little bit better and see how precious Lily is: God has blessed us so much with putting them in our lives.

I know this is so long, but I just wanted to give everyone a glimpse into what we do now. If you read the whole thing, thanks for sticking with it!

Monday, February 4, 2013

elle and todd february 2013

Since Todd turned 1, I've decided to change how I do the monthly updates. I'm now going to just report on both Elle and Todd at the beginning of each month. There's little and big changes for both of them that I don't want to miss, and it seems simpler to do it this way.

Elle has basically given up her nap in the last month. We are now doing rest time when Todd goes down for a nap. She can read books, or do puzzles, or something quiet on her bed or our bed. The first day we officially did this she put herself to sleep after 10 minutes. She's just in the in between stage where she still gets tired some days, and others she does fine. Even with no nap, we have had a lot of issues at night with her lately.  She had gotten into a habit of waking Todd up on purpose and throwing a fit. Chris and I collaborated and came up with leaving a pillow and blanket on the couch for her. We told her if she woke up during the night she could ask help for the potty, or read her books. If she still couldn't sleep she could go to the couch to lay down, but she can't wake any of the rest of us up. So far, so good! Since we instituted this policy she's been on the couch most morning, but no fits during the night and no one has been woken up by her.

We are being more purposeful about working on letter sounds and doing something academic on the days she doesn't go to school. She has quickly learned how to ride her scooter and has adjusted well to letting Todd dominate the trike. She has developed an imaginary friend, who over Christmas embodied himself in one of the Christmas Beanie Babies. Toko is a mouse (imaginary and embodied form). Elle would talk about Toko doing things and showing up places. Toko seriously creeps me out sometimes! Elle even told me one time that he weirds her out sometimes, so now I'm really worried. Most of the time he seems to hide in funny places or do silly things. Chris says it's perfectly normal.

Todd's big accomplishment this month was walking! Just when I'd given up he decided he would do it. His favorite mode of transportation is still the trike, but he's getting better and better at keeping his balance and getting where he needs to go. He also got a mom haircut. He'll get the clippers next time or go to a professional because it's pretty bad, but it got the hair off his ears and neck. He also started using a fork! It's quite cute to watch him work to stab something and get it in his mouth. He loves playing with Elle and thinks he's big like her. He's been teething a lot this past month too so we have been going through the waffles like crazy and not sleeping well. He's responding to things we say or tell him to do, but he still hasn't actually said a word. He loves bath time, or really any water he can get into. He loves Bible class with Mr John and hanging with the big girls at MDO. He has also started dancing when he hears music, but he gets embarrassed easily. You can also frequently find him doing puzzles in the office or cooking at Elle's kitchen.