Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Learning for Mae

I have been helping Ace with school now for a couple of months - helping him learn his alphabet, practical skills, and even some more adventurous subjects about outer space.    All the while M toddles around among us, snoozes in her swing, or tries to get in on the learning.     So while shopping for additional 'school supplies' for Ace,  I have been keeping my eye out for learning tools for Mae.  

While on Lakeshore Learning I went to the 'infant' section and found the Colorpillar.   I was a bit skeptical about the quality vs. price point - but I am 100% satisfied!   The colorpillar is made of a good quality and rolls up well.   Helping M learn her colors is one of the first task on my list of things 'to do' in her education.   This mat and the toys that come with it will allow us a variety of methods to help her learn her colors.  

We have removed the wooden toys for now - partially because I'm not convinced about their 'edible' qualities and partially to not overwhelm her with excess.   Her favorite activity with this mat is to start at one in and race down it - trampling all the toys on her way.

She loves to chew on all the the toys and carries the bean bags around in her mouth - which I love are in shapes all with different fabric selections for a fun texture element.

Mae approves of this toy and she's pretty darn adorable playing with it...  Ace enjoys it too. He likes to help his sister her her colors and find other objects around the house to match with the colors.  So while for Mae it is a tad early for her to have immediate application of the educational value - there is extreme value in repetition and so we will continue to show her, play with her, and explore her colors using her colorpillar.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

For Katie

It's been over a month now since a friend of mine had her world shaken to the core.  She went to the doctor thinking she might had a mild issue and came out with the understanding that instead she was about to face a major battle against stage four colon cancer; but that didn't defeat her.   It empowered her.    She took on this fight with postive forward attitude.  For her family, for her daughter, for her life.   

She's gone through two rounds of chemo thus far and has weathered it amazingly well and she begins another tomorrow. But tomorrow is another day.   Today is her birthday.  A day to celebrate and be happy and at her husband's request we as her friends and family have been asked to light a candle or two in her honor to help show her that we are here to light her way forward.   So for you today Katie the candle has been lit, but even if it isn't burning every day - we are praying for you every day.    To send your own encouragement to Katie you can follow her journey here.

A little tinting with what happens to be both Katie and my favorite color
on an already silly photo (of me) from our 20's NYE party in 2007

Moveable Alphabet

In trolling Pinterest and blogs I have come across the Montessori Moveable Alphabet over and over again and see the benefits of them, but they run anywhere between $40-$60.  That's too rich for my blood.   I then came across the idea of making your own on Pinterest, and that made the idea all that more enticing!

I recently purchased myself a laminating machine.   It's bizarrely addictive.  Who knew melting plastic could be so much fun?  hehe - but seriously - I've already 'paid for it' in the amount of laminating I do.  I found a Gold Box deal on Amazon and acquired the machine for $20 and 50 laminating sheets for $10 - so for $30 I was set to start laminating various things for Ace to use for school.  Considering laminating one sheet at Office Depot is $1.50, it didn't take me long to recoop the costs and start saving money (yes I've owned it less than a week and yes, I've already laminated over 20 sheets worth of stuff.)

I purchased Darice Jewlery Organizer that has 30 compartments at Michael's for $7, created my alphabet sheets (both upper and lower case) on my computer, and then printed three sets of each, laminated, and cut!

The entire project cost me less than $10 if you include, the cost of printing, paper, and laminating. Overall took me about an hour worth of nap time to do it.    After I had created the alphabet I created some word cards for Ace to start doing some general matching visually with. I laminated and cut those and then I ran into a problem.  No where to store them with the alphabet... so I really got into some plastic melting/cutting and retrofitting.  Since there are 30 full size compartments and I only needed 26 I merely cut out one of the dividers, melted away any sharp edges and wala a place to store some words.

So why use a moveable alphabet?   Well it prepares them for spelling, reading and writing.   You can help them learn the phonetic sounds of letters, here is a good link to describe the sounds.  The moveable alphabet gives them the freedom to explore the letters, to learn the difference between vowels and consonants, and to start to see how words form.

Ace loves it and I look forward to helping him learn how to form more words.   This will be a useful tool that we will use over and over again and it was pretty easy to create.  :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

On the go!

Mae is busy busy and enjoying her mobility.  She got crawling down pat and is getting around throughout the house and following us around pretty quickly.  She does the traditional crawl a lot of the time, but then there are moment that she puts her own spin onto it. Like this...

Her latest efforts toward walking is the slowly increasing pulling herself up to things. She hasn't yet mastered pulling herself up to the couch, once she does that I think she'll be venturing into walking very shortly. However, for now she's practicing on smaller scales.

We've brought out the gates, but for the most part only use them on occassion to prevent her from venturing outside or to a particular area for a period of time.   For the most part she's free to roam.
Her brother has found it a bit more problematic these days to be on ground level.  He's started to have to retreat to higher ground (the couch or his table) to eat anything or do anything that he doesn't want help with.   For the most part he's been very gracious to his sister's curiousity.  We'll see if this love continues once she's able to reach him at his current safe havens. :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Food Fun

In addition to or as a part of 'school'  I have been having fun with Ace and helping him learn and 'play' with food.   No he doesn't just mess his fingers around with food but he does get to do some things that aren't your every day activities with them. 

After Ace learned how to pour 'in school'  we took that activity and put it to good use.   We poured some popcicle mix into the popcicle trays in the morning and then after naptime were able to enjoy them.

On another day I helped teach Ace where orange juice comes from and we made some of our very own.  I helped him learn where they grow, how they are picked, squeezed and bottled into orange juice. Then we squeezed and enjoyed ourselves about a 1/2 cup each of some fresh squeezed juice.    He really enjoyed this activity and really wishes to repeat it... daily.

The other days I let him help me make dirt cups and he got to smash the oreos!  He found that really exciting.  I dumped in some pudding and we mixed it all together... and he was very excited... but the pudding was gross!  I had to agree.  Ick!   No replacement for Jello brand that's for sure - we'll attempt some dirt cups again when we have the proper ingredients. 

So what to do with that leftover icky pudding? Feed it to the husband! (He didn't think it was icky)  But since I highy doubt he likes pudding THAT much - I put most of it into ziplock bag and we used it to make a resource to practice spelling, writing and drawing.  It was a short lived activity but it got a rating of "That's pretty cool!"

There are lots of ways to let kids explore their world and have fun and Ace has been loving all these food related activities.    Just wait until he gets to use food dye during his Dr. Seuss week activities!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Bottle

Don't let this post fool you.  Yes, Mae is holding a bottle.  Yes, Mae even appears to be enjoying the bottle.   But no, Mae won't take a bottle.   Just as her brother refused to take a bottle, so does his sister follow suit.    Siiigh. 

Yes my little girl just will not take a bottle.  Apparently mama milk should only come from one source.   Nothing else.   Absolutely no exceptions unless met with a several hour battle.   It was down right ridiculous at the stubborness of both my children when it comes to taking a bottle... and so I just found these pictures adorably ironic.  She is chewing on water, that was the only way Ace would take a bottle too.

Silly adorable kids.  :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Reinforcing Faith

As parents it is our duty and privilege to help them learn about God, to teach the to pray, read their Bible, to have a thirst to desire God. To find faith in God a joyous experience and not a confusing abstract concept.  Loving Husband and I try our best to find loving, instructive and meaningful ways to talk about our faith and share it with our kids.

For nearly two years now we have said prayers with every night before bed. A little over a year ago we introduced devotions before bedtime. As Ace and Mae grow older, I want them to have prayer throughout the day, not just at bedtime or after a timeout.

I came across the idea of the Prayer Pail, where you place people's names on wooden sticks and you leave it near the dining table and then at a meal you take one or two out and pray for those people.   We used Ace's art time during school to create these sticks.  We used some of the sticks to write things Ace was thankful for and put them into the jar as well. 

We have had this jar for a few weeks now - and while we don't do it every meal, or even every day it still is a nice additional reminder to take the time and pray for someone.   Helping reinforce talking to Jesus, praying for others, and being faithful to God.   I won't lie, it's a good reminder for mom too.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Birthday Themed Sensory Box

I was very excited to put together this months' sensory box for Ace.    The weather box didn't go over as well as I had hoped.  Mostly because of the staining your hands blue upon touching the rocks issue.   He didn't like that he couldn't do it, walk away, and return to it - hand washing had to be involved.     Since his birthday is in August, I wanted to do a birthday themed sensory box.  

Inside this box is: 2 bags of shredded crinkle paper as the base, sparkly pom poms, 2 bows, 1 curly ribbon bow, 2 different sets of candles, Happy Birthday confetti, noise makers, foil presents, two random octopus dive toys (they just looked fun!),  a #3 birthday candle, a balloon, and tweezers to pick through everything! It's a bit busier than his other two boxes, but that's ok - good to experiment with if more is better than less, etc. 

I put it out the Monday before his birthday and he was so excited to be able to open it and explore.  It now being Thursday he has already explored this sensory box more than the weather one in total.   He loves it.  Although he does want to light fire to the candles, which makes me a bit nervous... hopefully my explanation as to why that's not an option will suffice.  :)

He has enjoyed exploring, counting, tweezing, sorting and even digging, this week through all his festivities and when we're all done he'll get the octopus dive toys and the balloon as 'presents' - where as his other sensory boxes the contents of those disappear in the night and he always wonders what happend to them. :)

Tub Time!

Splish Splash, she was taking a bath

 A rub dub, just relaxing in the tub

There was a-splishing

and a-splashing!

Bias Tape

I love premade bias tape!  It's great to have a package ready to go and just pin and sew - but it's expensive when you really think of what you're getting.  Not a lot of fabric for $1-$2.    There are other limitations as most packaged bias tape is simply one color.     Trust me though, it is quicker to just buy the package, pin and sew - but making your own really isn't hard at all.  

I needed some red and white striped bias tape to create the pirate vests and make them 'pop' and scream 'pirate' and my hunt for pre-made striped bias tape failed and so I gave up and decided to make my own. 

To make double wide bias tape all you need to do is the following:  

Step One:   Take your fabric and cut your fabric in 2" strips - if you want a little extra 'wiggle room' make it ever slightly more than 2" but I found that the 2" exactly works just fine.    The width of your fabric is unlikely to be suffient for your needs so you'll need to cut multiple strips.  

Step Two:  Sew those strips together.  I find it works best to do this first before you begin ironing so you don't have to go back and unfold and piece together and re-iron. (sorry I forgot to take a picture of this step)  but sew them together like you would sew most things - using a 1/4" seam and then press the ends flat.

Step Three:  Lay the fabric right side down and fold over the fabric by about 1/2" and press. Steam is your friend, use it liberally to really get the fabric to have the crisp lines.  
Step Four:  Repeat with the other side, leaving a tiny bit of space in the middle so that you can fold the bias tape in half.

Step Five:   Fold the bias tape in half and press once once more and you're ready to pin it to your project!

Step Six:  To pin your bias tape to your project, simply open up one side of the bias tape and pin it all the way around and get to sewing.   *TIP*  look at your bias tape, unless you're super exact (which I don't find is necessary) there will be one side of the folded in fabric that is shorter than the other, pin that side first. It will help prevent if you're doing a top stitch to finish attaching the bias tape from that stitch showing.   Although if you're planning on hand sewing the bias tape to finish attaching this does not matter as much.  :)

Step Seven:  Fold over the bias tape and pin it down and either top stitch for finish or do a blind blanket stitch to finish by hand.  (I am a huge fan of the top stitch!)

And wala!  Your project has a nice finished look to it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Year Three in Film

Ace born 8lbs and 21" long.

Three Years old 29lbs and 37" tall

What an adventure so far! 

Three Years Old

"It's my birthday!"  Ace screamed with excitement this morning.  Yes it is dear one!  You are three today.  It is a special day!  All of your third year of life was special.   There's so much to review.

Newness in the last six months since our last update:  a move to Mississippi, a couple of inches, knowing the alphabet, singing on his own, playing music on his instruments, school with mom, and a love for pirates!

Ace continues to love the outdoors.  He loves to play in water, run around, go to the park, take walks with his dad and collect a rock walk each time, and get the mail.   He also loves to hear the music play (the national anthem play during the retreat of the flag every weekday at 5pm) and run outside and put his hand over his heart and patiently stand there thru the end of the song. 

Smarts! First let me say that he just really is extremely intelligent.  I know all parents say so, but we are truly amazed out how well he retains information, observes and processes things on his own, and retains details from ages ago and recalls them without prompting.  He can identify almost anything we point to and we are so proud of him. 

Lots of absorption of information, language, and education has taken place these last six months.  He rarely says something not in a full sentence.  He still says "I'm are" which I cling to as his toddlerhood slips quickly away... and he has the funniest accent for the word 'world' - I hope I can get it on video.  He can say the whole alphabet song,  he can recognize all the capital letters and a few of the lower case ones.  Shapes and colors are second nature to him and he's doing great to teach his sister now.  :)    He knows the days of the week and is working on the months of the year.    He's growing up so fast. Ace has started to enjoy 'school' as taught by mom.  He gets so excited to learn new things and loves to have the 1 on 1 time of just the two of us learning... although he doesn't mind if his sister is around to explore with him.   

He is a great big brother!   He loves to hold her when allowed, is happy to help calm her down and asks us to put Kokomo on for her.   He didn't revert too much upon her arrival, he does get very happy to 'recall'  "When I was a baby I..."   and it isn't meant as a desire to return, just as a relating to his sister.    He does still occasionally get hyper and act out if Dad is providing more attention to Mae than him, but in general those moments are rare.

Ace still takes his tiger where ever we go (mostly at mommy's behest) and it sleeps in his bed every night, but he rarely acknowledges unless I hand it to him when he's scared in his bed.  Other toys that are favorites right now include: duplos, his kitchen, swords of any variety,   Favorite movies right now are The Incredibles  and Shrek movies.   He also rotates in the Toy Story movies, Tangled, and Cars... and every now and again Mary Poppins.  :)   TV wise he's really enjoying Super Why on PBS.    His favorite book for most of his third year was 'Cuddle'  in the last couple of months he moved onto 'Don't Let the Pidgeon Drive the Bus' and most recently he has a special place in his heart for the David and Goliath story.   We have a book and if we don't read that, he wants us to tell him the story - every night.     Ace's imagination has also really started to get off to a great start - from pretending back in April to let elephants into the house through the front door and leading them to his room to the other day playing in the park with his dad and crushing aliens with his bare hands (his dad was merely shooting them at a safe distance.)

Illness wise it wasn't such a bad year - I'd say pretty average.   He managed to overcome the C. Diff with that medication and then in September had a week off/on with a stomach bug, another in November and then only a few sniffles in February.   March was the worst of his 3rd year of life and he got pneumonia.  He was pretty sick for a week, but after some antibiotics was back to his spunky self and was happy as can be.   Injury wise he did very well considering how fast of a runner and busy boy he is.     He injured his ear by spinning in circles and then running...straight into the coffee table... and Ace suffered his first (and second) skinned knee upon arrival to Mississippi.   No ER trips required and we consider that a success!  :)

Nap wise - we are still going on about 90 minute stretches sometime around 1pm (which is exactly what we were doing this time last year.)  I only pray that it continues for a while longer!   Sleeping at night has improved leaps and bounds from where we were a year ago and even six months ago.  He sleeps in his own bed exclusively.   Does not wake us up in the middle of the night hardly at all (if he does it requires no intervention on our part)  and while night terrors do still happen on occasion (as they did last night)  they usually are for a short cycle for a few hours in the night and then he drifts into a deeper sleep.   He is waking earlier and we implemented the rule of not getting out of bed before there is a 7 on his clock, but he's gotten smart and simply wanders quietly around the house and waits for me to wake up on my own.  Often he'll come and sit in the bedroom hallway and will make just enough rustling noise that I awake.    It's cute most of the time. ;)

To be fair it's not all roses all the times - in the last six months Ace really has started to exhibit some of the classic signs of 'terrible twos/threes'  and while the moments are rarer than the good ones, they are still battles of control, independence and frustration.   He seems to like to do a revolving fashion show just for him after we say good night - this latest round resulted in the removing all of his pjs from his room.  What he does is wait until we say good night and then he starts the show of changing his pjs over and over.    He's done this off and on for over a year, but it was getting to a point of nightly disobedience and staying awake for well over an hour after we said good night just being spastic and changing his outfits... so one day we might return the pjs to his room - but not any time soon.    Back talk also has arrived and it isn't so much of a  simple "no" as it is just opposition and explanation on why he doesn't need to be doing that or why he thinks he won't be doing it.   It doesn't often work out well for him and usually still has to comply with our wishes.   He SIIIIGHS - what three year old does that?     He'll comply but he'll sigh.   It would be funny if he wasn't mine.     He also puts his hand up in your face when he wants you to stop talking... um no.   All of these things we are obviously on top of and working to help him change his attitude, and overall he is a very respectful and loving kid.   But I didn't want to skew the blog post that he was a complete angel.  He's not, he's normal.  ;-)

Ace's stats aren't exactly known - he is about 37" tall and last weighing was 29lbs.   He has all twenty of his teeth in - two of which are fused together, he has a chip on two of them, and there is ZERO room for anything else... so he will be a cash-cow to orthodontics down the road.    He's doing great and is growing and developing so well.

Overall, this has been a great year with a lot of changes for Ace.   He did experience a lot of growing pains and change from his dad being away for six weeks of training, a brand new sister, a brand new state and home to live in and through all of that he did tremendously well for a little guy his age.   I'm very proud of all he accomplished, learned, and experienced this last year and I can't wait to see what he'll do in this next one.   Happy Birthday, Bear!  Mom and Dad love you so much and are so thankful you're growing up so well!

And now that he is three (I probably could have started this last year, but I forgot, so I'll start now.) I plan to ask him these questions every year (yes I'm swiping the idea and questions from my friend Lori.)

1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE T. V. SHOW? I don't know... um Seasame Street (that's what's on tv at the moment... turning off the tv) umm I think Super Why.

2. WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR BREAKFAST? I think I ate... the first time mom? When you were sleeping mom?  (um sure) umm... cheese! (That is what he's eating during this interview.)

3. WHAT IS YOUR MIDDLE NAME? You could spell it.  (Um close!, but no.)
4. FAVORITE FOOD? Um well... let me see what I like to eat...I think... I think... but why cannot I turn on the tv right now? (FOCUS!) Cheez its!

5. WHAT FOOD DO YOU DISLIKE? Food that is spicey

6. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR? Blue (same answer he gave when I asked a couple hours ago, it must be true)

7. FAVORITE LUNCH? Nuggets!  (this is the first answer he answered quickly, without question!)

8. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO? Help sister (sweet, but she was starting to fuss in the moment, so I think that influenced his answer)


10. FAVORITE SPORT? Soccer, I like playing with dad.

11. WHEN IS YOUR BIRTHDAY? Today, its my birthday! (ok, fair enough.)

12. ARE YOU A MORNING PERSON OR A NIGHT PERSON? A morning person. (sadly true.)

13. PETS: Nope.  I think we had two kitties, why can't they live here? (Sad, why did I ask this question... he was quickly distracted.)

14. ANY NEW AND EXCITING NEWS YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH US? Um... I don't... (stuffing cheese into his mouth) know.  (Asking again) No.

15. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP ? I want to be nothing. I don't know what to be.  I just want to be a person.   (Well that's fair.  I've attempted this question before and he always says 'nothing'  I am hoping his aspirations increase over time.)

16. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CANDY? Do we have any candy?! 

17. WHERE IS THE FURTHEST YOU'VE EVER BEEN FROM HOME? A little bit away... all the way.  Sometimes the movers come here and it took a long time.   (Yes, I suppose 'home' is a bit confusing right now to him.)

18. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK? The Velveteen Rabbit (It is true that he does like that one read to him a lot during the day, but since it was the one on the floor and he's over this interview I'd like to answer for him and say David and Goliath.)

19. WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF? I think I'm proud of...well... books and well... knowing the whole alphabet.  (Neat me too!)

20. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE? The Incredibles!  (In the last 3 weeks I'd have to agree.)

21. WHICH CAME FIRST, THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG? The Chicken (there was a massive struggle in that little mind of his, you could see it in his mind...then he asked...)  What chicken, mom?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Eve of Three...

Three years ago today my life was still seven hours away from changing forever.  Seven hours left until my first born was to enter this world.   Now I am seven hours away from my eldest turning three.  For some reason this is life changing to me.  I watch as this boy gets older and taller daily. I look at him and can remember him squirming and kicking my right ribs in an attempt to get out the last six weeks of pregnancy.  When did he get to be 37" tall?  When did I stop counting his haircuts?   When did I stop counting how many days old he was?   In seven hours he will be 1,095 days old.  

Around 12 hours old...
I think the impact is greater because starting Thursday, I will no longer count Ace in 'months old.'   To be honest when people asked me how old he was I haven't used 'months' to describe that age since he reached about 18 months, but I have kept track with my pictures based on months.  There are 36 folders of Ace, one for each month that he's been alive filled with growing Ace pictures - want to see? (only 35 pictures fit nicely in the collage so that's 1-35 ;-))

It's hard to believe that this much time has past.  He's far from my baby anymore.  He still loves to give hugs, but I rarely get snuggles anymore. He's too busy and on the go - and that's something to cherish in a different way - but I can't say I don't miss my baby boy.    It really seems like yesterday that we were snuggling for the first time, he was asleep for the first time on my chest and I was staring at him in awe.   Gone are those days, but the memories are cemented.

So on the eve of his third birthday - Ace's 36th month of life - when this mommy ceases to count in months, I just am happy to take a moment to relish in this time and in this upcoming year ahead.   What will year four bring us?  Only time will tell, but if it's anything like the last three years it's certain to be a joyous ride.   Happy Birthday Eve, Bear!

Money: Thanks and Tithing

Last night, Ace opened his birthday card from Grandma Carol and out popped TWO $5 bills.  He was SO excited.  This morning he was still excited and wanted to SPEND his money and he wanted to buy a toy.  What kid wouldn't?  :)    I briefly reminded him of past 'lessons' I had tried to teach him regarding the concept of saving... since most adults fail to find the benefit or strength to do this I can hardly have any faith that my little (gasp) three year old will, so instead we moved onto other lessons:  thank you cards and tithing.

When I was younger my mother always was quick to have me write a thank you card to my great aunt whenever she would send us money or around Christmas time an ornament.   Before we could spend the money we had to write a thank you.   I remember as I got a little older that it was funny that we wrote my great aunt a thank you, but never my grandparents and they always gave us a lot too.   As I got a little older I began to understand that I thanked them in person, whereas my great aunt I wasn't able to thank in person and thus the thank you note was a polite way to say thank you from afar.  

I want my kids to have a similar understanding of the complexities of the 'Thank You' as they grow up too.  To at least have a written a thank you or two in their existence.    In today's day and age there are even more mediums by which to thank people and for Ace's birthday gifts he has now used them all: in person, digital format, and the written word.  Grammie (and others) gave him his present in person and so he said thank you to her directly.  Gran and Pop Pop mailed him his present and he thanked them digitally on Skype.  Grandma Carol mailed him his card with his birthday money and Ace 'wrote' her a thank you card.

I talked to him about the importance of being grateful for the people in his life and if they give him things, thankful for those too.   I further pressed upon his the concept that he is not entitled to anything.  He is not owed anything.   It's possible all of these concepts went over his head, but repetition and the questions of 'why' will help it to eventually sink in and hopefully help prevent him from becoming a spoiled brat.  No one likes those kids and I don't want to raise one certainly.    It isn't his nature and so I think we'll be fine, but a little explanation and understanding never hurt anyone.  :)

The next thing we discussed regarding his money was about tithing.  In our household we hold to the truth that everything is from God and that because of that we should without question 'give back' to God with what He has provided us. This is summed up in short with the word 'tithe' and today I introduced Ace to that concept.   It's kind of a big concept to press upon a three year old, but I think starting early on generosity and Godly giving is key to raising a Godly man and therefore whenever the opportunity presents itself Loving Husband and I will happily bring it back to that.

Ace and I discussed that everything belongs to God (a concept we talk about in terms of sharing and his toys often) and that includes money and that we should give some of that money back to God and be obedient to what He asks of us.   Ace did ask why and we continued to talk about it, but he never hesitated with a 'no' just more a curious understanding.    I asked him how much did he think he should give to God out of his $10 (me holding up 10 fingers to make the impact of how much he really did have) and he said a 'tiny bit'  I asked him what a 'tiny bit' looked like to him (still holding up my fingers) and he said $1.   Well considering that's 10% and often a very standard # many Christians choose to give I said that would be a good idea.      Then he remembered he had another $1 in his room and he ran upstairs to get that one and excited to say "Let's give this one to Jesus!"  and I asked the clarifying question you want to give $2 to Jesus?  And he said "No just the one, THIS one."     Well ok... $1 out of $11 when that's all the money in the world and to give it without hesitation is still a pretty good amount. In fact, to Ace's credit - he had been saving that ONE dollar for a long time, so to give it up to God is pretty huge.    And so with that $1 set aside to take to church on Sunday we headed to the store to buy something!

We went to Michael's.  Weird place to buy toys, you say?  Maybe, but they do have an entire aisle of Melissa and Doug toys and I had a 40% off coupon to use.  So I knew that he'd have several choices of things that he'd love.   He decided on a guitar!  $14.99 with a 40% off coupon, + tax and Ace left the store with a guitar and $0.38 - which when the lady handed him the change he squealed with elation "I get MORE MONEY!"   Yes, I suppose you do, son.   :)    It was a good morning.

Monday, August 22, 2011

In honor...

It's been a long time since I've blogged anything about my grandfather, he's been gone now almost six years - it doesn't seem possible!  Today would have been his 89th birthday.   He was a very special man and I miss him.   This is one of the last pictures I have with him at my wedding in 2004, it is also one of my favorite.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Our family ventured to Pensacola on Friday and headed to the beach.   This was the second adventure at the beach for Mae, but the first with her being mobile.   We all had a blast. 

We forgot Mae's hat and so I repurposed her swim bottoms into a bandanna of sorts.  It worked well and kept the sun off her head when she'd wander away from the shade or while out in the ocean.   She loved the water and she especially loved licking her face and tasting all the salt (she is her mother's daughter!)  

Ace once again had a GREAT time running around, chasing birds, running away from the waves, splashing in the water.    And both Loving Husband and I took turns playing with the kids in the ocean and splashing in the waves.   

After about two hours worth of fun we headed to get cleaned up and checked into a hotel which upon arrival we saw would be totally sub par for our needs... 1 queen bed with a family of 4, while some might be able to do it - we can't.  We tried once with just the three of us in a queen and it was a no go.  So LH did some priceline research while I showered and got the kids cleaned up and then we left that hotel and headed back toward the beaches to check into the Holiday Inn.   Which was an amazing hotel!   The rooms were nice, the view spectacular, and the restaurant inside the hotel excellent.     We had dinner and finally got the kids in bed VERY late. 

The next morning we woke up, had some breakfast and then got ready to use the pool.   Loaded up the car and then headed to the pool.   They had a lazy river at this pool and so after some initial splashing around both Loving Husband and I got into our respective inner tubes and each put a kid on our lap and floated down the river.   Ace and LH got out of their tube and went to find his floaties and Mae and I continued to circle the river and she eventually fell asleep.   We probably floated for 20 minutes while she had a nice snooze while I shielded her from the sun.   It was sweet and there was a lot of 'aww's from the other pool guests.  

After Mae woke up we played and splashed in the water - Ace spent a good amount of time swimming all over the pool wearing his floaties and he had a great and tiring time.  Overall about 2 hours of playtime in the pool.    We dried off and changed the kids and then headed to lunch.   Afterwards we dropped of LH at a friend's house and me and the kids headed home for a silent car ride, as they were both out for 90% of the 2 hour drive home.  It was a great family weekend at the beach.  Lots of sun and fun.