Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Weekend Update in iPhone Pics {9.28.13}

Last Friday we started off our weekend by taking a family visit to a park in Keller. This was a new park for us to check out and let me tell you, as a professional park connoisseur, this was an awesome park! Ryan and I were even talking about how lucky we are to live in an area with so many fun parks. There are at least 5 parks within 5 minutes of our house, and probably another 15 good ones if we are willing to drive a little bit. What did kids do back before they had amazing parks? I love seeing Eva climb and use the strong little kid body God has blessed her with.
This park also had a beautiful walking trail so we "hiked" just a bit (translation: we strolled slowly for maybe 10 minutes). 
Shoe love! I found Eva some tiny converse all-stars at a local consignment sale. Do I hate that they happen to match mine. No, I do not hate it at all. I love it!!!! 

Friday night was the Byron Nelson HS homecoming game so we dressed up our mini bobcat and cheered for our team!
With one of our favorite cheerleaders! Eva seriously adores so many of the cheerleaders and tries to cheer and jump right along with them.
Saturday morning we went apple picking at the Henrietta Creek Orchard. Ryan picked her up to reach some of the ones higher off the ground, which tended to be in better condition that the ones within her reach. 
A beautiful green apple! She really liked twisting them off the tree. It was the last weekend the orchard was open so I'm glad we made ourselves get up and go.
Ah, I love this photo. The daddy. The little girl. The trees. The apples. The sky.
After all our apple picking fun we went home and turned a few of them into mini apple pies. Yum! I can't say that I could tell a taste difference in picking my own versus the grocery store but it was a good experience. 
Then we headed to a softball game to cheer on Lillie, one of our youth girls! Lillie is doing a great job as catcher for her team this year.
Tiny friends holding hands. Lillie's little siblings playing with Eva. They are so funny together. 
Saturday afternoon we went for one last swim before our neighborhood pool closed. The reason you only see her putting her toes in is because it was FREEZING! We have gone to the pool often this month and this was the first time the water really felt too cold! Goodbye, summer, we enjoyed swimming while we could!
Saturday night we had a family movie night and watched Brave. I wasn't so sure I would love this, but it is a pixar film which usually means it is pretty good. It maybe wasn't as amazing as Frozen, but we did really like it. My favorite thing about it was that the princess is so strong and bold. Since my own princess isn't quite so "princess-y" I liked that it showed that a different type of girl hero. It also had bears in it which made it awesome to her. Eva liked the movie enough to watch the whole thing Saturday night and then again on Sunday before we had to give it back so I would say that it was a hit.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Blog Award

I was recently nominated for a blog award by Kati over at The Ivey League. Thanks, Kati! As an "award winner" I get to share 7 random facts about myself. I'm not nominating anybody else only because those I would probably nominate have already posted, so feel free to join in if you want to and say I awarded you.

1. I was never really scared of snakes or spiders until we moved into our new home. I love our house but there is still a lot of undeveloped land right around us and we get quite a few uninvited visitors. A week ago we had a snake in our garage. No thank you!

2. Most people who get rid of cable say that once you get rid of it you don't really miss it. Umm, false. I am not even a huge TV watcher, but I do miss it. I mostly miss the convenience of DVR. We do Hulu Plus now and it's just not the same. I do like saving the money we would have paid for a cable bill.

3. We find out on Monday if we are having a boy or girl. Probably by the time this is posted I will already know, but we aren't telling our family until the weekend. I honestly go back and forth so much about what I think the baby might be. If you look at all the old wives' tales my symptoms are generally split 50/50 between boy or girl. What if it's twins? I'm pretty sure there is only one baby in there....

4. We've started playing the game Tensie at our house lately. We don't have the official set, we just took every set of dice we could find around the house. It's funny how entertaining it is to roll dice over and over again.

5. When I was about ten years old I ate some gerbil food and my throat closed up. My friends did it because it had sunflower seeds, but I guess whatever part I ate wasn't made for humans? I had to go to the hospital and everything. So now under allergies I can always list, "gerbil food." Just kidding. I don't write that on forms.

6. Last week Eva and I started watching The Sound of Music together. We mostly like to watch the scenes where the kids are singing, but even then it is still a long movie. I can act out every part of the gazebo scene between Rolph and Liesl. Eva thinks this is awesome, I'm not sure if Ryan enjoys it or slightly judges me for pretending to be 16 again.

7. There is still a box of brown moving/wrapping paper on top of our refrigerator. I'm sure it just got placed there on move in day (3 months ago....) and every time I realize it's still there I am not sure what else to do with it. I could probably give it away to somebody that is moving, or at least stick it in the attic..but what if the snakes take over our home and we need to pack and move quickly? It could happen. I better leave it there. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

For those in need of grace

 I blog a lot about all of the great things we do as a family, and I absolutely love sharing ideas for learning and the awesome things I get to do at home with Eva. I try really, really, REALLY hard to be an active involved mom. When I picture my years at home with Eva, I want to see lots of doing and laughing and creating. But some days....I am just in need of some grace.

This past summer was filled with lots of change and good moments, but it was also so very hard. I am not hear to complain about being pregnant, but to be honest this pregnancy has been rough on me. I have been in so much physical pain and been struggling through so many awful days of "morning sickness," the kind that somehow can last until late at night.

It has been really hard for me to learn to let go of some of the vision I see for myself as a mom. I want a clean house. I want healthy, home cooked meals. I want way more playing than TV watching. And to be honest, I haven't been able to live up to my own expectations for myself. I've had to accept that the house may not be as spotless as I would like. We aren't living in filth and my home probably looks like a realistic picture of most homes, with crumbs on the table, spots on the floor, and bathrooms that could use a good wipe down. I buy more frozen meals and we eat off paper plates more often than I would want to admit. And the TV....I feel like I'm in a constant inner battle with that darn TV. Truly, though, there are moments when standing up to put in a DVD is the most active thing I can do when I am battling sickness. The other day I was even feeling so awful that I drank a Coke. I do not like soda at all, I am trying to limit my caffeine in general, and I can already imagine how it is deteriorating my insides. But I had such a terrible headache that Eva and I were literally just having to sit quietly in the dark and watch a movie. That was all I could handle. I even made her read me a bed time story instead of me reading to her. I had tried every single natural, more healthy remedy but nothing was helping. Finally I resorted to a suggestion to try 2 Tylenol with some Coke. And it worked.

In the midst of all these seemingly long months of feeling sick and exhausted, I am trying to learn to give myself some grace. Above all else, I am pretty sure that my daughter and my husband still feel loved and taken care of. Ryan usually has clean clothes to wear and Eva would be content wearing the same pajamas for a week straight. Most nights I can still get dinner on the table, even if it looks like reheated pizza with a salad or apples to make it seem healthier. Eva's brain will probably not be completely melted from the amount of times she has watched Finding Nemo or The Lion King. And it is just for a season of life. Sometimes on the hard days you have to look at the give and take of the bigger picture...drinking 4 oz of Coke and being able to function is probably worth it.

Why am I sharing all this? For the others mamas out there who are in the same place I am. For moms who for whatever reason need encouragement that sometimes "good enough" really is good enough. I read an awesome blog post that shared that one of the most important thing you can do for your small kids (and probably your husband) is to share lots of snuggles and personal time. {I wish I could link to it but of course I can't find it anywhere now. Oh well, at least I remembered the main point.} I would agree that my husband would rather a happy wife who can greet him with a smile than spotless floors. My family benefits more from me sitting down to eat with them off a paper plate than from me exhausting myself to cook an amazing dinner. And Eva feels perfectly loved snuggled up in my arms watching her favorite movies. One of the sweetest moments came the other night when I was terribly, awful sick, had given up on getting her to go to sleep in her room, and let her come lie down with me in my bed. I had a washcloth on my forehead and had basically bargained with her that she could lie down next to me until Ryan got home if she was very quiet and did not move the bed at all. With tears in my eyes I whispered, "Eva, I'm sorry that I feel sick a lot." Her response? She sang me the sweetest Jesus Love Me I've ever heard and then asked me if that helped me feel better. Yep.
So go ahead. Serve pizza one more night if you need to. Let those crumbs under the kitchen table wait until tomorrow. Watch Nemo one more time on those days when you are trying your best and just need some grace. Love your family. No judgement here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Family Game Time

I mentioned recently that we have been playing lots of games in our home. A couple of months ago we started teaching Eva a few easy board games and then she built up her collection at her birthday party.Games are awesome for a lot of reasons. They teach skills like matching, counting, number and letter recognition, colors, sharing, taking turns, and listening. They also allow for lots of conversation between family members.
1. Candy Land: This is a great first game! It reinforces colors and taking turns. Some versions have cards, ours has a spinner. This was the first game we taught Eva after Christmas last year. Honestly the hardest part was teaching her to be still enough not to knock over the board!
2. Memory: A great game to learn in steps. About 6 months ago we used this to practice matching up a few cards at a time. I would lay out 3 sets at a time and Eva would find the ones that were the same. After she got the hang of deciding which ones were the same or different we would flip them over and try to make matches. A lot of times I still let her see where I put each card before flipping them over and interestingly, she still doesn't always realize that the same card will be there when she turns it over. We do 6-8 cards at a time for now. Upside, this game comes with a ton of cards, so you can have lots of variety. Downside, this game comes with a ton of cards and it is a hassle when your child accidentally drops the box and spills them everywhere.
3. Cupcake Party: I will be honest, I am not thrilled with the "game" part of this. The game comes with 3 sets of cards and then you are supposed to time how long it takes you to get each piece to make a complete cupcake, or something like that. Eva has much more fun just building the cupcakes that match each card. We went through a couple of weeks where Eva would literally spend HOURS a day building these little cupcakes. Warning, there are many tiny pieces in this game, so it would NOT be safe for a child who still puts pieces in their mouth, especially pieces that look like food.
4. Go Fish: This game works really well for us when Ryan and I (or another adult) can be on Eva's "team" to help her remember what to do each turn. She LOVES asking for cards and LOVES yelling "Go Fish!"
5. Crazy Eights: We haven't played this one much. I think we need to practice what to do a bunch more. I didn't really remember playing this as a kid so I had to learn it first.
6. Old Maid: Eva is so intrigued by the old maid. I like this game and I am wondering if it would be easier if I take out a few sets of cards. When we play with 2 or 3 of us there are too many cards for her little hands to hold and I think it makes looking for a pair too difficult. But she LOVES finding the Old Maid. Technically whoever has the Old Maid at the end is the loser for the game, but Eva has it in her mind that she wants the Old Maid. She is so happy when she gets that card.

7. Hungry Hungry Hippos: I remember my parents saying this game was too noisy when I was a kid. They were right, it is a bit noisy but it is also very fun! It's good for working on counting and I really do like playing this with Eva. It does have tiny pieces so keep this away from little kids.
8. Let's Go Fishin': Okay, is it just me or is this game tricky? I figured it would be an easy one but I struggle as much as Eva to catch a fish on those silly fishing poles! Ryan is amazing at it, so maybe it's just my hand eye coordination. Eva still really likes it and I guess it's good for her to see that some games are tricky even for me. We just laugh about it being hard and try our best.
9. Twister: When my mom told me she wanted to give this to Eva I was excited. Reinforcing colors, being silly, falling over - sounds great. I didn't consider that my pregnant body might not be able to keep up with this one very well! Eva likes that it has the huge game board. She can't tell her right and left foot, so she kind of just hops around the board like a happy little frog. We make up our own rules. When Ryan is home I get to be the spinner and that is much easier. I think this game is targeted for kids that are a bit older, but when played as a family there is still a lot of fun and learning involved.
10. Hi, Ho Cherry-O: This one is a HUGE hit. Great for counting, number recognition, taking turns, and fine motor grasping. We play it every single day. It also has very tiny pieces, so be careful with young kids.
11. Chutes and Ladders: I'm throwing this one in my list, even though we don't own it. I've played this with Eva at my mom's and it is still too hard for her. I remember liking this a lot as a kid, so I'm sure Eva will enjoy it eventurally. Right now I think the bigger numbers and direction of the game board is just too confusing. She likes to get out the board and look at it but she isn't really ready for this one quite yet.
12. Kinetic Sand: Okay so this isn't actually a game, but Eva got lots of it for her birthday and it is a huge hit. Ryan and I first saw this product out at Brookstone way back in February and I can't believe we never bought it for her. It is awesome! It molds like sand, but has a more magnetic property so it doesn't make a big mess. We have ours in a huge box with some sand molds so that Eva can smush it all out and build with it however she likes. I do make her use it at the table instead of on the living room floor because it doesn't clean up quite as easily from carpet, although you can vacuum it up. When its on the table or tile it will stick to a bigger clump so it doesn't get messy. We used this for home school last week to practice letters and numbers. Eva gets this out several times a day. This is a PERFECT gift idea for preschoolers, and probably older kids too! 

That's my list of game reviews! What games would YOU recommend for playing with a little one? Our family is big on competitive games so I am so excited for Eva to join the fun!