The Giving Season

I'd like to challenge you to give more this season. Find a way to give and put your heart into it. Volunteer, buy gifts for an angel tree, adopt a family, whatever you want to do. I know that this is a hard time of year for many people and that "money is tight." But I also believe that if I can fill my tree with presents, I can probably fill someone else's a bit, too. Finding a few items of clothing, an inexpensive toy or providing a meal costs little to us, but means the world to someone in need.

Not sure where to find someone in need? Look for an angel tree at your church, the mall or other stores in your area. Volunteer at a youth or adult homeless shelter. Adopt a family through a shelter. If you live in the Des Moines area here are a few resources for you:

I know this is a busy time of the year, but take a moment to thank God for blessing you and pass that blessing on to someone in need.

Muffin Tin Monday

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

I decided to Muffin Tin Monday it up today. We haven't used a muffin tin in a couple of weeks so I thought today would be a good day to bring it back out. She went to town so either she was really hungry or really excited to see that muffin tin. There was no theme at MTM today so we didn't really have one either, but if you look closely it looks like a white and orange theme!

Let me just "ughhhh" to the pictures. Can't wait to get the Nikon back.
Clockwise from top left row to right: plantain chips & dried coconut (doco according to her), white beans, tangerine, cheese.

The cheese was, as always, the first to go. She made short work of the doco and beans after the cheese and then gobbled up everything else! That's the best she's eaten in weeks! Here she is posing with her tin with a cheekful of cheese.

Tot School: Travel Edition

Tot School
Sweet P is almost 19 mos old!

We left town on Tuesday and returned on Friday so it was a quick week for us. And 18 hours of it were spent in the car. Not much was done in the car aside from reading and playing with stuffed animals (oh and snacks, snacks and more snacks). Since that's what Sweet P enjoys most in the car. I got her a new book for the trip and wondered if I might regret it because it played music. When I had a child, I swore I'd never own this type of book, but when I went to Sam's on Monday night in search of a new book to keep her occupied in the car...well, this one called out to me.

I was most excited that it had several songs about Jesus' birth and the important part of Christmas, not just a bunch of Santa Claus songs. And to tell you the truth, those midi songs don't bug me all that much. And it kept her super busy pushing all those buttons.

We drove to the Farmer's grandparents farm (the other farm in the family) in eastern Colorado. It's literally in the middle of nowhere and I would have loved to take Sweet P out and show her more of the farm, but it was cold, ya'll. Way too cold and WAY too windy to be out exploring. We did get to show her the horses and one came right up to us (for food I presume). After watching us pet her a few times, Sweet P promptly stuck her gloved finger up the horse's nose (not surprising considering how often it's up her own nose).

Turkey Stained Glass: Last week at the Winter Farmer's Market they had a coloring a stained glass turkey kid craft. There were way too many kids for Sweet P to actually partake in the activity so we took the turkey home and decided we'd do it there. She did a pretty good job, but liked coloring her hands just a little too much.

Great Grandma's House: GG's house was full of fun stuff for Sweet P to play with (and I'm not talking about toys!). She had tons of fun with balls of yarn GG has and loved getting to play with this measuring tape. We eventually attached the measuring tape to a ball of yarn and she dragged it around the house.
Make a joyful noise: What Thanksgiving is complete without playing with a turkey baster? Here she's playing the drums with the baster and this cooler, which was much better than beating mommy with it.

Teasers: GG has a box of Teaser games (think Cracker Barrel games). This was great for gross motor skills since she was putting the tees in the little holes. We also did a little color sorting with the tees.

Thanksgiving Coloring Page: I printed this coloring page from TLS Books for her to color after Thanksgiving dinner.

We did a lot of activities on Thanksgiving. We also played with flashcards that I got over the summer from the onespot at Target.

Alphabet Flash Cards: These cards were made by Auntie Rosita. Aren't they awesome!? They have pictures of Sweet P or people she loves on them and they are matched with a letter. Auntie Rosita is R, of course, Auntie Kannon is K, Gammie is G, Nana is N (you get the picture). She's been learning who her uncles are so it was really funny when she picked up both Uncle Will and Uncle Eric's (who is not yet an actual uncle) pictures and said "UNCA!" She also pointed at Uncle Rhett a lot over the week saying "Unca."
Playing outside! It's been nice enough to play outside the past few days. We helped the Farmer rake leaves and even took a walk yesterday.
And with all the fun she had during our trip to Colorado, I'm willing to bet she had the most fun with Nana.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm thankful for:
My faith, the love God has for us and his constant presence in our lives
The Farmer and his patience, humor and love for me
Sweet P for her love, laugh, hugs and everything else that comes with her toddler self
Our love
Our health
Our families
Our church
Our friends
Our house
The farm
Our jobs
Our freedom
Our troops

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours! Hope you are enjoying a day of yummy food, family and blessings. What are you thankful for?

Turkey Treat

Gammie sent me this idea and I decided to try it for Sweet P's lunch on Monday. She, of course, devoured the avocado and the 2 tiny raisins and left the rest. I gave her the apples and pears later, they were received much better when not competing with avocado.

Gobble Gobble!
I used a pear for his body, avocado and apple slices for his feathers, a triangle apple piece for his nose, 1/4 raisin for each eye and a piece of dried fruit as his gobbler. I applied the face pieces with peanut butter.

Ya know, we don't eat turkey, so this is as good as it gets.

Bottled Turkey Craft

I really wanted to make a turkey for Sweet P and I had a bunch of Trader Joe's sparkling water bottles sitting around waiting to be recycled or taken in to get my 5cent deposit back. I finally came up with the idea to use the bottle as the body for the turkey.

The Craft: Bottled Turkey

What you need:
Construction paper (red, yellow, brown, light brown, black, orange, white)
Cardstock (red, yellow, brown, light brown, black, orange, white)
Plastic bottle (size of your choice)
Glue stick
Packing tape

I only took a picture of the first and last step because I spent the rest of the time making sure Sweet P didn't run off with the scissors. I will admit she picked them up a few times, but after I told her to please give them mama, she'd pick them up and hand them to me (phew).

Wrap a piece of brown cardstock (or construction paper) around the bottle for the body of the turkey. Depending on your bottle, you may need to cut the cardstock to avoid overlapping too much. Tape the cardstock to the bottle using packing tape (could also use regular tape).

Trace a large circle (I used the mouth of a cup) out of light brown cardstock (construction paper) for the turkey head. Then trace a larger circle (I used the top of a funnel) of black cardstock (construction paper) for the base of his hat and a smaller circle for the top of the hat.

Cut out feathers in red, yellow and orange. I freehanded these and just used the first one as a template. And cut feet and a triangle out of yellow. Cut a gobbler out of red paper. Make eyes out of white and black circles/ovals of cardstock/construction paper.

With a gluestick glue the gobbler, then the beak to the face. Glue the black part of the eyes to the white and apply to face.

Not gonna lie, the hat was a pain. After I cut out a black circle, I cut a small line in the circle from the edge to the center and cut out part of the center. I kept cutting until the circle fit around the bottle. I taped the circle back together to close it around the bottle and taped the circle to the bottle (the tall part of the hat covers that). Cut a piece of black cardstock to make the tall part of the hat and wrap it around the top of the bottle so it sits on the base of the hat. Secure with tape on the inside (is this making any sense?). The top of the hat was the worst part and if you look too closely at my turkey you'll see that it doesn't really fit. If I had it to do over again, I would have applied the top of the hat to the cylinder before I put it on. Anyway, use a small amount of tape to secure the top of the hat to the cylinder.

Use a gluestick to apply the turkey's face to his body, do the same with his feet. Tape the feathers in a fan shape to the back of the bottle.

And there ya have it. Bottle Turkey.

Hope these directions weren't too confusing and that you'll make your own! Let me know how it goes if you do.

Tot School: Week 4

Tot School

Sweet P is 18.5 months old
We were out of the house a lot and had a friend over one afternoon so our activities were here and there (and all around the square...yep, it's started) this week. I tried some new things with her that I've seen on other Tot School blogs. And we even attempted a craft (and by "we" I mean "me"). Photos may be lacking for the next few weeks as my Nikon headed to the shop on Friday. Thank goodness its still under warranty!

Her vocabulary has continued to explode this week. Here are a few of her new words:

birthmark (random, I know, but I have one on my arm she thought was an "owie")
hair tie
Hannah (a friend)
Lily (another friend, sounds like Wiwee or Biwee)
broken (after she tore the head off of a foam finger puppet)
Bita (you'll meet her soon)
up above (as in Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
more (now she yells and signs it!)
Mary (as in Jesus' mother)
pizza! (she's her mama's daughter for sure)
and her new animal sound is "gobble, gobble" for turkey. Appropriate for this week, right?

I know some of those are pretty random, but those are ones we encounter a lot during the day!

Sorting straws: I saw this several times last week and decided we'd try it out. I started with it in a large cup with a lid, but that cup is also our bathtub cup so I moved it into a water bottle that has a spout with a small hole. She likes this activity for awhile, then wants you to dump all the straws out on the floor for her. Her friend Lily liked this one, too

Dominos: Seriously, how cool is this picture?! No, she didn't set them up, but she did knock them down!
Timber Tumble: This is actually generic Jenga. I forgot we had it until I was moving games out of the basement (since its under construction) and thought she'd have some fun with it. She won't stack, but she LOVES to Godzilla anything you stack! Notice the rogue piece in motion!
Sensory bucket: The sensory bucket stayed the same this week and got dumped out time and time again. I finally put everything up on Friday and we'll start a Christmas bucket when we get back from our trip after Thanksgiving.
Mini magnadoodle: Now that she's got this figured out, she loves to write with it. I'll draw her a P and then ask her to draw one. She'll scribble and then point and say, P. Too funny. She does the same thing if I ask her to draw a cat or a dog. Scribble, scribble "meow", scribble, scribble "Oof oof!" and points to the scribbles.
Stickers: Suddenly a favorite. She figured out they were in an envelope of schooling resources and now yells "Ticka!" and points at the envelope. So we'll be playing with these more often.

Matching puzzles from COAH: These are still somewhat of a challenge for her, but if she can get them in the right hands, she's got it down!
Turkey craft: We (err I) made a turkey this week out of a finished bottle of Trader Joe's sparkling water. I'm slightly addicted and it made me happy to see that I'd found at least one craft I could make to reuse the bottles. This was incredibly difficult to do with Sweet P, but she loved the finished product. I created the turkey from scratch. Used the top of a funnel to draw circles and freehanded the rest of the cut out shapes. I'll post the rest of the materials in another post.

Fisher Price My Little People Farm Lift-the-Flap book (can you tell we love these books?). This one teaches numbers, shapes and colors as you lift the flap.
The Little Drummer Boy by David Mead. It plays a song when you push the button. We hear this song A LOT, but I really don't mind the tune. And it tells the story of the birth of Jesus through the eyes of the drummer boy.
Her new favorite activity: Walking around with her eyes closed (and falling).
Dancing and clapping to our new favorite song by Florence and the Machine: Dog Days are Over and thinking she was a big girl for getting to sit with the computer in front of her.

That was our week. How was yours?

DIY Christmas Wreath

Way back when I admitted that I wasn't very crafty (err creative). And I'm still not a super crafter, but I think I do okay (and I'm getting better). I was super proud of this project. Auntie Rosita has a Halloween wreath similar to this so one day while perusing Hobby Lobby (ya know, with their Christmas decor out before Halloween) I saw these berry stems. I picked them up in gold and then saw the green and decided, Yep, those are the ones. And I'm going to make a wreath. So I did. I should also mention I chipped my tooth in the process. Don't laugh! It's true.

The instructions aren't very good because, well, I just sorta went with it and I think that's probably what you'll have to do too. I did have a plate out to help me make sure the shape I thought was round really was round (I doubt myself sometimes).

What you need:
6-8 berry stems (wired)

Take 2 stems and place the wire sides together. Wrap the wired ends around each other, curving them as you go. The wire will hold the stems in place. As you add more stems, it gets trickier. Especially because the berries will get in the way, but carefully wind the wire around the berry stems. Continue to wrap the wired stems around one another or winded through the berries until you've formed a circle. Your last stem will be the most difficult (at least I thought so). Once your wreath is complete (and staying together), pull apart the stems until they are "fluffed" to your liking (kinda like the way you fluff your Christmas tree branches after they've been packed away for a year). You can add other do-dads such as a bird or ornament. Once I actually get out my Christmas decor, I'll add a JOY ornament.

Total cost: $4 because the stems were half off. A whole lot less than I'd spend on a pre-made wreath.

Try it out. Really, if I can do it, you can too. Let me know how it goes.

I'm linking up to:

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful for the roof over my head. So many times I find myself thinking it'd be nice to have a bigger house (or more than one bathroom). Then I think about all the people who have something that doesn't even resemble a house and I'm thankful for what we have. I love to read this psalm as I shouldn't want for anything more than what God has given me. He has given me EVERYTHING.

"The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want." Psalm 23:1

Operation Christmas Child

Today starts National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child. This is our first year to participate in OCC and I can't wait until Sweet P is old enough to really participate in this.

The instructions are simple (and if your church participates, they may even have a box for you, we found 2 at a local shoe store. Not all shoe stores keep their boxes so you may have to search a bit if you don't have any at home).

All you have to do is:
1) Pack a shoe box.
2) Download and print a label.
and 3) Drop off the box.

There's also a can follow the box to find out where it ends up if you use the EZ give option. We didn't, but I like it better this way.

We chose to do 2 boxes a boy and a girl and we spent last Wednesday packing them. Well, I packed them while Sweet P and the Farmer played in the same room. Even though she didn't quite understand that those toys weren't for her, she definitely had a good time playing with them and I think the children who receive them will have a good time, too.

So what are you waiting for? Go find a box! Sunday (Nov 21) is the last day to drop off your box at participating drop off areas. Find a drop-off location near you.

Here is a picture of our boxes and the list of ideas can be found here:

Tot School: Week 3

Tot School

Let me start by saying this poor post will lack pictures because I did a very dumb thing to the setting on my camera. I turned it to "raw" and that was a dumb idea. Because now our pictures from the 2nd half of the week are just that, raw. And pixelly and yeah, just bad all around. The Farmer is super sad, too, because he got some hilarious shots of Sweet P on Thursday night when she was running around in her diaper before bedtime. Sigh. Here we go anyway:

We spent most of last Monday running errands all around town. Sweet P had tons of fun helping me pick out little gifts for Operation Christmas Child (more on that tomorrow). I have a video of her riding an electronic horse at the grocery store, but sadly I can never get my videos to load on blogger. Anyway, Monday is also lacking pictures due to our crazy day of errand running.

Library story time: I won't name the library, but the story time last week was NOT our (or should I say my) cup of tea. I'm not a fan of people who lead children's activities who act as if they were forced to do so against their will. Needless to say, we won't be going back to that story time. A shame too, because I really enjoy that library.

Mega Bloks: These stay in Sweet P's closet so I decided to bring them downstairs to see what we could do with them. This was the first time I've seen her stack them on top of one another, usually she just pulls them apart.

Rocks: Monday, during our errand running, we stopped and picked up a box of rocks (I had shoe boxes). We brought them home, I washed them off and she had a great time playing with them.

Sensory Bowl/Container/Bucket: The sensory bowl has moved locations several times this week. It started in a bowl, then got moved to a spinach bin waiting to be recycled and now it sits in a large pumpkin-like container that had Halloween pretzels I bought for all those trick-or-treaters I never saw. She has been loving it this week. Contents: Tiles from the game, Bananagrams, a pack of jingle bells, soccer ball magnets, clear decorative stones and an acorn or two she's found outside during the week. It has been dumped out more times than I can count, but she's great at helping me pick them up.

Paper towel tube/pom pons: I saw this activity several times this week. I can't remember everywhere I saw it, but I did see it here. She really liked it until she realized she could bypass the tube and just stick them in the cup.

PomPon sorting: This was MY favorite activity this week. And I think Sweet P liked it, too. I separated the pompons by color in a muffin tin because I'd already tried asking her to pick up the "green" and "yellow" and "blue" pompons with no success. So I sorted them for her and then took out 3 at a time. She'd pick one out and put it back with the appropriate color. I'm pretty sure I clapped with delight when she did this several times. We've had trouble with colors so I was really excited to see she could sort them by color.

Kitchen toys: I was making muffins in the kitchen and had given her the strainers to play with in the living room. I checked on her and this is what I saw:

Helping make muffins: I let her stir and tried to let her help scoop the batter into the muffin tins. Uhhhh, I'll let you imagine how that went. In the process, she licked some batter and kept signing more (there was nothing eggs) so I let her taste it again. I tasted it to see what it was like. Um, gross, but to each their own.

The rest of the week went like this:
Coloring and stickers with daddy: Sweet P still hasn't quite gotten the concept of coloring. She'll doodle for a bit, but like I said last week (or was it the week before?) she'd rather put the crayons back in the box.

ABC's: The Farmer and I prompted Sweet P on Saturday and she said her entire ABC's! Can't wait to get that on video. Some of them are indistinguishable, the rest are almost exact!

Books: Despite the story time, we picked up some great books from the library. Here are our favorites from the pile we took home.

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Suess
Once Upon a Potty-Girl by Alona Frankel (the Farmer was not particularly fond of this book)
Snow Family by Daniel Kirk
Think Happy! by Nancy L Carlson (I loved this book)