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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Keeping Baby Clothes Organized

The summer is almost over.  For us this year, it means moving in with our dear friends, Amy and Anthony for a while.
Saving money, and what-not.

Unfortunately, that also means we aren't able to do a "Toddler Summer School" theme this week.  But I did want to share a little tid-bit on staying organized.

Before Aidan was born, I bought 6 Sterilite containers.  I made labels that said, "Newborn/0-3 Months", "6 Months", "9 Months", "12 Months" and "18 Months".  When people gave us baby clothes, I would wash them, roll them, and put them in the appropriate container.  When he got to that size, I simply pulled out the container, and voila! clean, ready-to-wear clothes.

Then, once he grew them out, I washed them, rolled them up again, and put them back in the container.  Ready for possible baby number two, or giving to someone down the road.

4 of those boxes fit perfectly in one medium sized Home Depot box.

Organization saved the day!  Woohoo!

Ready for moving day!

Hope you enjoyed the tip!  Feel free to leave a comment!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

3 Things I've Learned About The Nature of God Since Becoming a Mama

There are Mommy blogs out the wazoo.  All over the Internet.  There are suggestions on how to sleep-train, how to help a strong-willed child learn boundaries, meal ideas, etc.  I read enough of them, to know that some of them are helpful, some not so much, but regardless, the internet is full of them.
This is not a how-to.  This is not a step-by-step instructional.  This is the lamentation of someone who found a new love and understanding of her Heavenly Father, through the insurmountable blessing that is her sweet baby boy.

I gave my life to Christ when I was 3 years old.  Although I've made mistakes, and we all do, I have had a close relationship with Him for as long as I can remember.  I talk to Him about my day, thank Him for the little things (like the sweet smell of Aidan's head after a bath, his little gapped toothed smile, and his chubby hands), and am frequently moved to tears when I think about all His goodness.  Just like with any longterm relationship, even when you love a person, it may seem sometimes that you know most everything about them.  Not that you're bored, but you find yourself in a comfortable place, not really expecting to be surprised.

And then, in the middle of a battle of wills with a little blonde despot, God reveals himself in a new way.  And my eyes are opened, and I am surrounded by a fresh adoration and sense of wonder.

These are the 3 things I've learned about the nature of God since becoming a Mama.

1. The Cracker
Aidan is a very verbal little boy (wonder where he got that from?!).  He tells me "snack" when he's hungry, "all done" when he's done, "please" and "thank you", and of course the toddler war cry, "NO"! One day, Aidan came to me, and said "snack".  I gave him a cracker, which he happily munched on, until he dropped it, which would've been no big deal (we live by the 5 second rule at our house), but it was already soggy, and then he stepped on it.  I decided to give him a new cracker.  He was holding a toy in one hand - which of course he would not let go of, and the soggy, broken cracker in the other.  I asked him to give me the "yucky" cracker, so I could give him the nice, whole cracker.  He said, "no". I asked him again.  This time he said "NO".  I tried prying it out of his little hand, knowing that the whole cracker would be yummier, if he would just let go of the first cracker.  However, he is a determined little boy, and held on with all his might.  
This is when God reminded me that his plans are better than mine.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
God holds out amazing plans for us, but sometimes we are holding on to our own ideas so tightly, that we refuse to let go, and take from God what He so desires us to have - because He KNOWS it's better. Just like I knew the clean, whole cracker would be better.  He does not force them on us, and if we protest enough, He lets us have our way.  But He would rather we let him have our ratty things, and open our hands to His blessings.

2. The Mother's Day Card 
For Mother's Day this year, I helped Aidan make cards for his grandmothers, as well as one for myself.  While holding his hand making little handprint bouquets, it occurred to me that Aidan needed my help - even to make something for me!  Which lead me to the thought, that we are very similar to a toddler in that aspect.  Even when we do things for God (go into ministry, go on a missions trip, give our tithes and offering...), we still need His blessings and help along the way.  We can't dedicate our lives to God's service if He doesn't give us the grace to wake up in the morning.  We can't give our tithes and offering without the job God gave us first, which provides the funds.  1 Samuel 12:24 touches on this.  "But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you."  It is because of the great things that God has done for us, that we can then do things for the glory of God.

3. The Free "I Love You"
I can't be the only mama in the world, who was dreaming of the day her little nugget would look at her and say "I love you".  So, from the minute he started talking, I would try to coax an "I love you" out of him.  FINALLY, the day came.  I said "I love you", and he said "I you"!  I didn't know I could feel such joy!  Imagine my emotional state, when the next day as we're playing, Aidan comes up to me, gives my knee a kiss, and says "I you"!  I could've flown!  And in that moment, I understood why God gave us free will.  It feels so much better to receive a "free I love you", rather than a "coaxed I love you".  As our Heavenly Father, God wants us to want Him.  He wants us to WANT to spend time with Him, to choose Him over all others - just like we mamas want our babies to love us.  Not because they have to, but because they want to.
Romans 8:38-39 puts it so passionately.  "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is Christ Jesus our Lord."  That kind of love deserves to be loved back.  And to be loved freely, just as freely as it is given.

I thank God for blessing us with Aidan.  Not only because he brings so much joy to our family, or because he is so sweet-natured.  I thank Him because it has brought me closer to God, has made our relationship deeper, and made me want to serve God even more faithfully than before.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Toddler Summer School: Things That Go Week

Jacksonville is a very unique city - it's on the coast, but it's also "the River City", and has an extensive downtown area.  For little boys who are always on the move, it provides the perfect backdrop for a "Things That Go" themed week of summer fun!

On the first day of our week, we went on a Jacksonville transportation exploration (say THAT 5 times, really fast!).  We started off by taking the Jacksonville Ferry.  It's only $6/car, so totally affordable, and loads of fun!


Next, we drove downtown, and picked up the Skyway - a monorail that is free and part of the city's public transportation.  We were totally a suburban family excited to be on/taking pictures of public transportation, but whatever!  So much fun!

While we were out and about, he also got to push the button for the crosswalk, and check out a map!


Riding public transportation in your own city is a wonderful way to have new experiences and make some fun discoveries!  You'll be surprised by all the fun things you'll find!

For example, a fun Willy Wonka-esque candy shop called Sweet Pete's, Hemming park had these wonderful, gigantic foam building blocks, and the main library downtown has the nicest Children's Library I've ever seen!

Which leads me to my first section: books.

We love The Little Blue Truck books!  They are perfect for teaching the sounds vehicles as well as animals make!
I also enjoy Richard Scarry's books, you can find them on  And, of course no week about transportation is complete without "The Wheels On The Bus".  We also found a sweet book titled Choo Choo by Petr Horacek at our favorite little book shop on the beach, The BookMark.

All that reading makes a little boy hungry!  It must be snack time!

I've seen a few ideas for traffic light snacks, but most of them used M&Ms for the red, yellow and green lights.  I was trying to think of a healthier alternative, and came up with this:

I toasted some oatmeal bread, cut it into a rectangle, spread Nutella on top, and placed a half of a cherry, a slice of banana and had a grape on top.  (Don't forget to cut round fruits in half to avoid choking - note next picture.)


Needless to say, it was a HIT!

Now that our bellies are full, we can move on to activities!

I found a great recipe for a kid-friendly and edible play dirt recipe at  It calls for 1 large packet of instant pudding mix, one cup of baking soda, 1/4 cup of water and 3 tbsp oil.  It turned out perfectly, and was great for our construction themed sensory box!  (As her blog says, while it's edible, it is not meant to be a snack.  Just not harmful for those, like Aidan who still put everything in their mouths!)

A couple days later, after we'd had our fill of fun, I emptied out the box, saved the dirt for later, poured in some baby shampoo, water, added some bottle brushes and turned it into a car wash sensory box!
This ended up being THE MOST fun Aidan had all week, AND he washed his toys, which was an added bonus!


I also made Aidan a traffic light matching game out of felt.


I already had felt and car ribbon, and just had to buy the velcro.  All-in-all, a very fun and educational activity!

Staying with them traffic light idea, I gathered up some of Aidan's plates - red, yellow and green, and some red, yellow and green toys.  Then, I let the sorting by color begin!



Of course, Aidan is blessed beyond measure, and has a plethora of transportation-themed toys too!


Aidan has this adorable tug boat, train and Melissa and Doug chinky puzzle!  

On to craft time!!!

I cut some rectangles, squares and circles, and had Aidan glue them  on paper to make a train.  Then, I gave him stickers which spelled out his name, and made it a "name train"!


Another day, I put a piece of paper in a ziplock bag, squirted some paint in it, put one of Aidan's trucks inside, with the idea that he would "drive" it around, and make track marks.
This actually majorly stressed him out, because he couldn't get to his truck, haha! But, the end result was pretty cool!


Let's close out with media:

We watched one of my all-time favorites, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! (On Netflix, if you want to watch it.)  That Chitty is the trifecta!  She is a car that can float and fly, so all modes are covered!