Tuesday, September 30, 2014

16 Toddler Busy Bags

All the busy bags in their bags
This morning I met with 16 friends and acquaintances for a toddler busy bag swap. One of my homeschooling groups decided to do a swap for our little ones to help keep them busy while we focus on our bigger kids during school time. I participated in a 4/5 year old busy bag swap last year. These are so fun and you get a lot of neat things for your child to do.

The only rules for the swap were that you had to keep each bag under $2 and bring your activity in a plastic bag. It turned out to be a great swap! Here are the fun busy bags I got.

Animal Memory Game - this is what I brought

Make a rainbow with felt

Pool noodle lacing

I spy game

Colors and Shapes Cards

Lacing and puzzle game

Felt car track

Thread the button through different shapes

Thread pipe cleaners through balls with holes

Picture and number matching game

Spell the word

Pick up bugs

Color and number wheel

Felt Pizza

Butterfly Symmetry Busy Bag

Birthday party busy bag

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Losing an Unborn Child

My heart has been heavy with sorrow this past week. Our nephew and his wife tragically lost their first child. Our family is in shock and completely heartbroken as we mourn with them. Their baby was breech and the wife went in, per her doctor's recommendation, and had her baby turned. They were able to successfully turn him. However, two days later when she thought she was in labor, she went in and found out the baby had passed away. They told them that the cause of death cannot be determined. This leaves a lot of questions and most likely anger.

It's hard to write about these things. So many questions are left unanswered when a baby passes away, especially a baby who was completely healthy and due any day. Losing a baby at any time during pregnancy is hard. Losing a baby after giving birth is hard. Death is hard.

I really have no answers when tragedy like this happens. I think the only thing we can do is go to God in prayer and ask him. What is the purpose of allowing a woman to get pregnant, carry the baby to term, only to lose the baby before he's born? Sadly, one may never know the answer. I know I have questioned God after each of my miscarriages wondering why I was able to get pregnant only to lose the baby.

Life is not fair. It's hard. It's sad. It can be lonely and confusing. If you have lost a baby or child, whether born or unborn, I am deeply sorry. No words can heal your grief. No time can fully heal your heart. Death changes us. 

My mother died when she was 41. This was not fair. Most of my life I have been without her. My grandmother went into complete shock. She could not believe her child would die before her. I think it goes back to the fact that death is hard on those who survive. And my grandmother had 41 years with my mother and it was still very, very hard on her and all of us.

Where does that leave us? Some times you question, why I am left but my child is gone? Why did my child die? These are tough questions and you may never know the answer to them. During death we must lean on those who are still alive and reach out for comfort. Go to God in prayer. Question Him, ask him why. It's okay to wonder why. God is tough, He can handle it. But also ask for peace. Ask for healing. 

Many times a woman will ask herself if she should try again to have another baby. With all the heartbreak from losing the unborn child or alive child, she wonders is pregnancy worth it? This is a personal choice. For me, it was. I had my son then had 4 miscarriages. Finally, during my 6th pregnancy, I was pregnant with my daughter. If I would have stopped trying, she would not be here. You never know what the future holds. You never know if God will bless you with another child. It goes back to trusting him. I don't know why he made my body have a hard time getting pregnant with a healthy child. I don't know why God let me lose 4 unborn babies. But I do know that he has blessed me immensely with two precious healthy children. I don't take my two children for granted. I know they are blessings from God. All children are blessings from God. Whether you are a single mother, adopted a child, had an uneventful pregnancy and birth experience, or even lost your child. Even the unborn children are blessings from God. One day, I look forward to meeting my four babies in Heaven. Even if they never walked on this earth with me, I have the hope and peace of meeting them one day. 

This was one of my grandmother's favorite verses that she quoted to me often. I'm not sure why she quoted it to me so many times but it's what I thought of when writing this. She was one of the wisest and most spiritual persons I have ever known. May it give you peace as you pray to God. If you don't know Jesus, message me, I'll be happy to share with you what I know. Or pick up a Bible, find a church. You can get through this. You are left with a purpose. Never forget your loved one(s), but don't stop living or believing in God. 

“Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:6-8

The other verse that I hope will give you some encouragement is from Isaiah. God can give us strength. 

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Toddler Busy Bag Animal Memory Game

Sooner than I want, Princess will be a toddler. A friend in one of my mom's groups is coordinating a toddler busy bag exchange. I participated in a busy bag exchange for 4 and 5 year olds last year and it turned out great. Even though Princess is still a baby, I thought I would go ahead and participate in this exchange. It's always good to be prepared with fun activities for kids. If you don't know what a busy bag is, it's basically a quiet activity that fits in a bag that you can take with you for your child to enjoy.

For this exchange, I made an Animal Memory Game. This activity literally came to me in my sleep. I put 4 different animals on each 4x6 picture. Then I glued the pictures to the back of construction paper, laminated it, and then cut them out. There are 12 cards, six animals: pairs of birds, dogs, cats, horses, ducks, and rabbits. The child will try and match like animals. They will match a baby animal with its parent.

I made 23 busy bags and will get 23 different busy bags at the exchange next week. I love these exchanges because you get so many neat activities by just coming up with and making one. The budget for our exchange is no more than $2 per bag. For this project I spent less than $20, which is great! It took more time than money to prepare. Finding and printing the pictures, then assembling them took about 2 hours, which isn't bad. This doesn't include the time it took to pick up the pictures or take them to laminate them. I printed 75 pictures because I went ahead and made 25 busy bags. I love how they turned out and I really hope the kids like them. Each set fit on one piece of construction paper so this made them easy to cut and bag.

You can really personalize this game with different themes. I think I'm going to make a family memory game for Princess for Christmas basically doing this same thing.

Pictures in stacks to glue on the construction paper

Laminating the pictures for durability

Ready to cut them

Putting the game in the bags

What the game will look like when played

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

First 4 weeks of Kindergarten!

We are enjoying our kindergarten year. I have to be honest, the first day was HARD. I was almost ready to throw in the towel. However, I changed my attitude and found a good rhythm for us and things have been going much better since. I had to remind myself of the reasons why we wanted to homeschool in the first place. Mainly so that we can be more involved in our children's raising, be able to teach them about God, and to allow them to build close relationships with one another. In addition, we want the best education possible for each of them! With homeschooling there is so more flexibility and more time to hone in on skills we want to teach them and allow them time to explore things they are interested in.

We are really enjoying Sonlight Core A. We use it for language arts, most of our history, part of Bible, read-alouds, and science. We use Singapore for our math. Some of the crafts we do come from our curriculum, some come from the internet, and some I come up with. The other history book we're going through is called History for Little Pilgrims. It takes a child through history, starting with Creation and ends with today. Our Sonlight history this year explores World Cultures so we're getting to learn some things about the different cultures and people around the world. Our family loves to travel and I hope by studying so many cultures and places we'll be able to one day visit many of them and they'll have more meaning when we do. For handwriting we're using A Reason for Handwriting. So far our curriculum choices have been a good fit for us.

This year is plenty busy. Blue Rock has built a lot of things, he's had lots of time to paint, including painting with string and other mediums. He's learned how to make a paper boat and paper balloons and even taught his Sunday school class how to make paper boats! He figured out how to make a ball out of toilet paper and has created several and painted them and given them to various teachers as gifts. We've taken him on several field trips, the American Airlines Center, a self sufficient farm, and he has taken a lot of wood building classes. He has started his classes at his part-time school where he takes science, art, and Spanish, he's involved in two co-ops, is playing tennis, taking karate/gymnastics, and is going to start music classes next week with a good friend of his. We also planted a garden, which I'll do a separate post as it grows. Here is an overview of pictures from this year of some of the things he's done and places we've explored. 

He made a model coracle (round boat) out of a plastic bag and pipe cleaners

Learning to count by 5s

One of the few pictures of him doing his school work

He came up with this on his own, he stacked groups of 5 Jenga blocks

He made up a fishing game

He's very creative!

Making snow

Showing Dad how to make snow

He built a wooden snail!

Science page on how rain works and he colored the rainbow.


He built a 3D family tree

He built a bird's nest

Made an extension bridge with his train tracks

Making an Egyptian Collar

I put it on him but he didn't wear it long

American Airlines Center

American Airlines Center

American Airlines Center

American Airlines Center

American Airlines Center

Digging in the sand

Sewing like ancient people

Getting ready to swim

He loved Humpty Dumpty and made his own!

Neat picture he drew
Baby sister's first time to swing

First day of co-op

I'm teaching one of his classes, they made a friendship web

Making a pinch pot at the farm

Making a pinch pot at the farm

Making a pinch pot at the farm

Making a pinch pot at the farm

The farm we visited

Feeding a sheep

Daddy wearing two kids. The pavement was hot!

Learning how they made Sorghum Syrup

First day at his part-time school

Picture with his science teacher

In Spanish class

Getting ready to learn about hydroponics at home

Tennis lessons

Making the parts of a flower and putting them together

Building a bird house

Building a bird house

Painting his birdhouse

Building a bird house

Sweet girl!

Painting with string

Grocery shopping, he fit in the front of the tiny basket at Sprouts!

Hydroponics kit

We're watching to see which way a seed grows best


Painting rocks

Playing together in their hut

He made a pyramid but turned it into a hat

Watching brother play tennis

Tennis lessons

Standing in her crib

Co-op class

I'm so cute!

Roman dinner party in our living room

Dress like a Roman

Playing an egg sight word game

Egg sight word game

Building wooden binoculars

This was something special just mom and son went to

Planting our Fall garden

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