Saturday, August 27, 2011

Toddler Activities for the Letter V

Sorry for the blurry picture...

I found inspiration for this idea from one of my favorite blogs No Time For Flashcards. It worked well for my two year old, who hasn't been too interested in crafts lately. She enjoyed making the flowers and using her glue stick to keep them in place.

construction paper
tissue paper
glue stick

Step One:
Draw a large capital "V" and ask your toddler or preschooler to help you cut it out.


Step Two:
Glue your "V" onto another piece of construction paper, leaving the very tops of the "V" open. I stapled the tops of the "V" for extra reinforcement for the straws. Trim the straws to their desired length and place in the tops of the "V." I used the bendy straws so the tops could hang over the top of the "vase."

Step Three:
Cut out a square of tissue paper and have your toddler or preschooler twist it lengthwise. Glue one end to the paper at the top of the straw and wrap the paper around itself until you have a circular "rose."

Step Four:
Glue roses to the tops of the rest of your straws and put up for display!


My four year old had her own idea; she wanted to glue her flowers upside down.
I asked, "Where will the water go? Won't it fall out?" She thought about that and decided to draw the water above the vase. Problem solved.

We also read some books about gardens and vegetables. I placed some zucchini, green beans, bell peppers, and a jalapeno in a paper bag and had the girls pull them out one at a time. We talked about which vegetables grow above the ground and which ones grow below the ground (using our book as a guide).
I drew some of the vegetables we talked about onto white paper and had my four year old cut them out and color them. Then she "planted" them in the ground (brown construction paper).
This was a great activity for her to work on by herself!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Priorities in Motherhood

Wow, this has been a difficult week for me. I've struggled with balance and my house has exploded. I literally turned away some friends of ours that wanted to peek in our house after a party, and I told them that they could not step beyond the living room. I'm so rude! But it was just too disastrous. I can't even tell you what was all over the floor, but there was a lot of it.

I recently attended a meeting with my Learning Circle where we discussed an article about setting your priorities and planning your day and week accordingly. We talked about the classic analogy of a jar full of rocks, pebbles, and sand. If you put the sand and pebbles first, the larger rocks don't fit. But if you put the rocks in first, then the rest fits perfectly. I need to redefine my "boulders" and put them first so that I don't feel frazzled, frustrated, or guilty at the end of the day. It's usually natural for me to put my kids first and make time in the morning to have our daily activity together, but I've found that I'm not really enjoying that time with my kids lately. I realized that it's because I'm not taking care of myself as well as I should be, thus I'm not feeling my best when I'm with my kids. I don't know why it took me so long to figure this out, but it's making so much sense and I'm excited to re-plan my day and make time for my own needs so that I can be a happy mom.

In fact, today I tried to limit my to-do list to three things: something for myself, something for my family (husband included!), and something for others. I planned our letter of the week activity for my girls in the morning and did my best to be patient as my two year old would NOT stop asking for food throughout the entire thing. Then during naps and quiet time, I cleaned my kitchen and dining room, because it makes me feel so much better when things are in order. I made a nice lunch for my husband, and here I am posting on my blog (my main "for others" priority). I pulled it off and while it wasn't easy, I didn't feel overwhelmed by ALL the things I'd love to accomplish throughout the day. It really worked and while I still have a large load of clean laundry on my couch, I feel accomplished and ready for bed (and at least it's clean right?).

One of the women in my group related this lesson on priorities to a buffet-style dinner. You're starving and all the dishes look delicious to you, so you load your plate until it's completely full. But because you're only one person, you can only eat so much at once. Eventually, certain servings get cold and you're too full to touch them, so you put them back. Some days you only want to fill your plate with one kind of dish and other days you try a variety, but you always have to match your appetite with your physical limitations. Some days you treat yourself to a dessert (okay, most days right?). Anyway, I LOVED this analogy because motherhood is like standing in front of that buffet where there are endless choices to make but you can only do so much.

There are stages within motherhood where your priorities are totally different from other mothers who are in a different stage. Right now, my top three goals are to 1) have personal scripture study every day, 2) Eat well and feed my kids well (ALL DAY LONG!), and 3) Sleep well. That seems so basic, but I'm in the toddler/preschooler stage where I can't bite off much more than SURVIVAL. I have my little outlets, like this blog, but in order to function well, I must focus on those large boulders first. And my name needs to be on one of those boulders. Don't wait until you're at your breaking point to take some time out for yourself. That was such a revelation for me last night. I'm going to try harder to make sure I'm healthy and happy first so that I can be the best wife and mother for my family.

This book, The Sacrificial Mother, was mentioned at our meeting and it sounds like a good one. I'll let you know when I read it!

P.S. You still have a few days to order The Entitlement Trap for a cheaper price and some nice perks. I can't wait for my copy to arrive.
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