Monday, March 14, 2016

Preschool: Target Dollar Spot Easter Literacy Centers

I found these adorable felt eggs and carrots at Target's Dollar Spot. I turned them into literacy centers. 

Egg and Chick Center:
I made mini chicks by shrinking chick coloring pages down and adding a photo to each one. Then I colored the chicks. I'm planning on using these during letter 'N' week. So my pictures are of things that start with the letter 'N' and a few that do not. Students will find an egg, pull out the chick and decide how to sort it: words that start with 'N' or words that do not start with 'N'. This is totally customizable to your units and themes. 

Bunny and Carrot Center
I made bunnies programmed with letters and numbers. Students will sort them. Is it a letter or is it a number? 

Happy Easter! 🐣🐣🐰🐰

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Repurposing Melissa and Doug Boxes

Who doesn't love Melissa and Doug toys? I know we are big fans both at home and at preschool. My one complaint is that the nice wooden boxes they come in don't have lids. 😕 I often toss toys into a container with lid and am faced with having to toss out a perfectly good little wooden box. But NO MORE! 

As I stood there today looking at the two I have been holding onto for three weeks, it hit me! Drawer organizers!

I love this little divided one! Its is gonna be keeping my kitchen junk drawer neat. 

Love being able to reuse things! 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Because Today My Heart Is Heavy

Occasionally my husband will walk into a room and find me bleary eyed, sniffling over my laptop. "Are you reading sad blog posts again?" He asks with a slightly agitated edge to his voice. It is not because he is mad at me, but he knows I am exposing myself to preventable pain by reading people's personal stories of loss, grief and pain. "Why do you do that to yourself?" he asks.

By reading people's stories and listening to their pain, I gain compassion, empathy and understanding.  I hate doing it, but I cannot rip myself away. Stories of loss, grief, addiction and pain pull me in. Sometimes I won't click into the shared post. My heart and head cannot always handle it. See, when you share in someone’s pain, even someone you have never met, you bear a teeny, tiny part of their burden. You carry a very small bit of hurt for them. A tiny amount that makes the grief just only bearable for them. Barely. It is the sharing and prayers and support that makes any loss or grief journey just that… a journey. Without the sharing, praying, sweet gestures and kind words, a journey becomes a dead end road. No where to go, No ability to get there. Just traveling in circles with no peace. Drowning in hurt and sorrow.

In June, my brother and his girlfriend lost their baby, Sweet Baby A, full term at 39 weeks. It was devastating. It is the most horrific thing that I have walked through and it wasn’t even my baby. I sat in the hospital and held hands, shed tears, gave hugs, whispered words of encouragement and walked with them as they embarked on a journey they never intended to be on. A journey I didn’t really know how to walk with them on. 

I was in a muddy strawberry patch with four kids picking berries and navigating the little ones through the vines and gently around ripening berries when I got the call that there was no heartbeat in my nephew at the routine prenatal visit. I immediately found my self facedown in the mud with delicate red berries and twisty vines around my head as I cried out to Jesus. Loudly. People looked, stared and the kids were afraid. But I was pleading with Jesus for a miracle. Pleading in words I could not understand. The pain was unbearable. But somehow I got in the car and drove home, and found my tiny bit of peace in my husband’s arms as I wondered how my brother and his girlfriend would get through this. Losing their precious son. How would my mom and dad and her parents get through losing a grandchild? When would I be able to breathe again? The one thing knew, we would never be the same. 

I pulled myself together and prayed and prayed and prayed. I went to the hospital the next day to be with them as they delivered Sweet Baby A. I was nervous and sad and confused and many other things. But mostly I was angry. The gripping pain was consuming. But it was much, much more so for his parents. Their pain radiated off them as they held each other under those bright hospital lights. 

Somehow together, we were going to make it through this. Words of encouragement and hugs from friends and family were a small, needed comfort. A sweet basket of remembrance items were delivered by a photographer who graciously donated her time and talent to photograph Sweet Baby A. She had lost a baby too. She knew. She was so much comfort for me. Her embrace when she walked into the waiting room lifted some pain. She was okay. My family would be okay too. 

I grieved, and still do, as a sister for her brother who lost his first child, his son. I grieved a daughter for her mom and dad who lost a grandchild.  I grieved as an aunt for her little nephew whom she already loved so much. I grieved as a friend, and a momma, and a woman. I grieved as a human being. 

Two months later and the hurt is still fresh and real. Painful. Gut wrenching at times when I see his picture or remember the call or drive past the withered up strawberry patch. But that hurt means that Sweet Baby A was so loved by so many. 

Sweet Baby A’s momma and I have grown close as we find ways to honor him. As I share in her pain and attempt to help her carry a teeny, tiny piece of her pain. I am proud of her and my brother for pushing forward when they thought they could not, for when they did not want to.  For making choices no one ever wants to make and for choosing to journey this painful road with family and friends. 

That is why we share. That is why I read sad stories. It's why I attend Sweet Grace Ministries Support Group. We pull together and feel the heaviness of each other's pain. It's why we pull tiny parts of heartache from one another, lugging it, bearing it, sustaining each other. 

 "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things endures all things. Love never ends. 
1 Corinthians 13:7/8

Friday, February 13, 2015

Preschool: Handprint Valentine!

Super simple cute craft that I saw done here! You just need some green paint, heart sticker or heart cutouts and glue!

Here is our version! 

Monday, January 12, 2015

We Are Finished

Baby Girl turned 17 months on Saturday. She has not nursed since Thursday. I think we are officially weaned. Breastfeeding her was the most challenging and most rewarding experience of my life.

It hurt in the beginning, and then again when she started teething. It hurt when she bit me a few times. It hurt when her latch changed after she got teeth.  It hurt when I had a clogged duct. It hurt when she felt like she was permanently attached to me for the first few months. And it hurts to know that she is done. Don't misunderstand. I am so done. I want my body back. It was the right time. She was ready and I was ready. But that does not mean it doesn't hurt.

I sustained her life. All by myself until she was a year old. No formula. Just Mommy's milk. I am so proud of meeting that goal. Then continued on as she was eating full meals and snacks. I kept on nursing her. Less and less. But I was still able to soothe her or put her down to rest by nursing her. It was our time together. It was beautiful. But now we are done and ready to bond in other ways.

I will miss her staring into my eyes like I was her whole world. Or the gentle touches on my face. There is a lot I will not miss and if you have ever nursed a baby, you know what I am talking about. The bites, the pumping, the niplash, the inability to just pop a cold medicine when you are miserably sick. Breastfeeding is hard. Am I glad to be done. I am glad to have done it. It is something that I am looking forward to doing again when the time comes. My breastfeeding journey started with tears and it ended with tears. Today, these tears are happy and sad. I am done. I have met my goals. I have provided for my child. I have persevered through the pain and the challenges. I have done it. We have done it. And we are finished.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Preschool: Watercolor Gingerbread Houses

For this simple Christmas craft you will need:
-copies of any gingerbread house coloring page or reproducible copied on thick paper or watercolor paper (found here)
Watercolor paints
Adhesive foam gingerbread men (I found mine at Michael's)

Kiddos paint the houses, cut them out (or adult can do it) and add a gingerbread man. Here's our ginger village! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Moment You Broke My Heart

From the first second you entered this world, you broke my heart. Your tiny little cry, your precious little face, your head full of dark swirly hair. It broke my heart. Your first latch, your first smiles, your bright blue eyes. My heart filled with so much love that I felt it start to crack. It was overwhelmed.

At two weeks old you took your first little bottle of pumped milk. My heart broke. Soon you started intentionally smiling, rolling over, staring into my eyes as you nursed. And my heart broke.

You would rub my face or arm as you nursed, clap your hands when you were happy and wave. And my heart broke.

It broke when you giggled and cooed and sat up on your own. When you played with your toys and  said "Da-da" the first time. It really broke when I cuddled you as you spent your first Christmas with a nasty cold.

My heart broke when you started to give kisses, wave bye, dance and be silly. When you started to intentionally play, chatter and show affection.

With each new word, each new triumph it broke. It still does. Your first steps, your first birthday. *sigh*

But today my heart nearly shattered in half. It wasn't because it was overfilled with joy and pride. Today it was because of my own mistake. I caused you pain. And my heart broke.

The first and only time you drank cow's milk, you got a bad diaper rash and bad tummy pains. Today as I poured a glass for the neighbor girl, I decided to take the doctor's suggestion to try it one last time. It was against my better judgement, what my heart felt. But I did it. Because you were begging for it. You were breaking my heart. You happily drank only an ounce or so, having more fun shaking it up and seeing the frothy bubbles it made. Shortly after, you were fussy and tired and chaos was ensuing around me. I needed to tend to the other daycare kids quickly and hoped that you would fall asleep if I put you in your crib for a few minutes. I laid you down and shut the door. I listened to your screams as I refilled cups, cleaned up messes and played referee. It was only five minutes, but I your heart breaking screams made it feel like hours. I picked you up, expecting you to stop screaming, happy that Mommy was holding you. But you didn't stop. You screamed and thrashed and wailed. And my heart broke. I thought it was because of me letting you unattended in your crib for a few minutes, that your heart was broken. For forty minutes I rocked you, tried to nurse you, rubbed your back, held you as you screamed. My heart broke. Again and again, over and over it broke. You have never acted like that. Never. Never have you been inconsolable. Tears welled in my eyes as I wished Daddy was home to help. I prayed with you. You finally fell asleep. As my hand was on your belly I could feel it rumble and rumble. The milk. The milk did this. My heart broke. When you woke up, again you were screaming in pain. Finally, you got the gas out and you were once again your happy little self. Running, squealing, smiling. And my heart broke.

You'll break my heart everyday. I know it. Sometimes from swells of happiness and sometimes rueful, sometimes painfully, like today. I'm so glad for a broken heart. I hope most are from the heaviness of happiness. I love that you break my heart.