Thursday, September 27, 2012

Favorite Photos -- Q3 2012

As much work as it is to slow down and go back through photos to find favorites, I think its a worthwhile exercise.  So even though I have about a million other things to do, I decided to put this post together quick for Click. Pray. Love's "Quarterly Top 5 Photos" :)  I'm not sure these are my absolute top 5, but here are five of my favorites from the last 3 months.  It was so hard to pick with a vacation, 4th of July, camping, start of school, etc.

This is my current favorite pic of our family from this quarter.  Yes I'm in it so I only sort of took it -- a lucky timer photo. 

I can't look at this photo from his first day of preschool without both smiling and sighing.  He's growing up so fast.  So excited!

We love bubbles at our house.  I remember it took a while to get any pictures that worked as I was blowing the bubbles for him to chase and taking pictures at the same time :)

My little boy super hero (who also loves his mud boots)!

My little boy's favorite part of the trip to the cabin and summer in general, is fun in the water -- sprinklers, boating, swimming, he loves them all.  Here's my favorite swimming one from our trip to the cabin.  His goggles were a prized possession this summer.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Entertainment Center "Remodel"

We've had the piece of furniture that used to be our entertainment center for years.  Our last home had a built-in entertainment center in the family room though and we eventually ended up getting a larger tv that no longer fits in this one (how does that happen?).  So at some point an old tv sat in this entertainment center in the living room and mostly just the stereo was used.

When we moved, I still didn't want to get rid of it.  I love that it matches the rest of our furniture set.  Plus the lower storage cabinets in it works well for games and crafts.  So, this fall my wonderful and talented husband did a mini-remodel of our entertainment center to make it a bit more useful.

Before (picture taken by my son -- I had to dig to find a "before" picture as my husband started the project when I wasn't home):
See how the tv had become the craft display area :)


A back was attached to cover the TV hole, in-cabinet lighting added and new shelves installed.  I love it!  Now I just have to figure out what exactly I want to keep on the shelves -- I keep changing my mind :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Kitchen Helper

Cooking with my Mom in the kitchen is something I remember doing as a child.  In fact, when we were school-aged my sister and I were in charge of a few suppers a month.  I know its an important skill to give my son, but its not always easy to have a 3 year old kitchen helper.  Often times it means something takes longer and creates much, much more mess.

As winter approaches (say it isn't so), I know I won't be able to sent my son outside to play while I cook in the kitchen like I've tended to do this summer.  (Love that I can see his sandbox from my kitchen window).  So I've been trying to be intentional about having him help while I cook.

The other day I was making a big batch of lasagna for the freezer and we had a blast working on it together.  Besides the normal stirring and measuring help, he really enjoyed helping assemble the lasagnas.  Pattern practice (meat sauce, noodles, cheese mixture).  Counting rows of noodles.  Two yummy pans of lasagna as the result.  What a great activity!

(He also really liked that we had to break the noodles to fit in my 8x8 pans which is why each row as so many pieces.  Tastes the same, right?)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Reflections on a Year at Home

One year ago today was my last day of work at my job as a Systems Analyst.  A few days later we finished packing up all our stuff and moved a few hours away into our house on the gravelly road.  I've been thinking a lot about the reasons we moved, what the transition was like, remembering the stress of life before, and through it all seeing the hands of God working.

While the move away from the suburbs and my transition to staying home full time was something we had talked about and later planned for quite a while, the timing was completely in God's hands.  We saw what would be our new house for the first time almost two years ago.  Closed on it more than a year and half ago.  Closed on the sale of our old home in the suburbs 4 months later.  We'd worried about how long we'd have two mortgages, manage two properties, deal with a home on the market with a toddler (read: keeping the house clean and being away from home from supper time until bedtime several times a week).  God had it all under control.  Looking back, the timing worked out just right.  We had a summer to work on improvements on the new place.  Several occurrences at my son's daycare during that time (thankfully all little things) reminded us that he needed something else.  I had more than enough time to finish up what I could at work to have some closure (documentation anyone?).  We were ready for a change.

I love this new sign.  My mom sent it to me the other week with a note of encouragement.  The sign reminds me of how I felt about being a stay at home mom.  I really wasn't sure I could do it.  Why?  I'm not sure.  I think I was just scared of change.  Scared of the unstructured-ness of staying home.  Scared of .... well all sorts of things.  I really approached staying home in a "I think I can" sort of way.  My husband on the other hand was confident in my ability, sure it would work out great.  Often, I tend to be a "I think I can" person, willing to try my best but tentative.  "I think I can major in computer science, but I'll take extra math and business just in case".  "I think I can go back to work after the baby is born, but if it doesn't work out then maybe I'll stay home".  "I think I can stay home full time, but..."  So often I would forget to celebrate the "I knew I could" and take the confidence gained from the experience.

Well, I knew I could.

Do I miss working?  I hear this question a lot.  Yes and no.  I  miss my friends at work.  I miss adult conversations that were part of my work day.  I miss the validation and sense of accomplishment from a project well done (so few "mommy projects" are ever done).  I don't miss the stress, the 2 hrs of commuting, the stress, changing project requirements, the stress, only getting 6.5 hrs of sleep, and the frustrations that had become common place in my job.

I am confident I am where I need to be right now.  Before I know it, my son will be spending the "best" of his day at school.  Right now I am so thankful to be spending it with him.  I don't want to miss this time.  So we'll read books, play silly games, explore outside, play pretend, and leave the dishes in the sink, the dust to collect, and the laundry waiting to be put away on the sofa.  I'm no longer paid with a paycheck, but the extra hugs, giggles and smiles are well worth it.

While the blog isn't a year old yet (a few more months), thank you for being part of the journey of Life on the Gravelly Road.  Being able to have an outlet, something to "do" to help me stay accountable during my days, and to record special memories of this time has been such a blessing.

Monday, September 17, 2012

When it doesn't work...

I am not a crafty person.  Many times crafts and projects don't turn out how I expect.  And other times they don't work at all.  Sometimes its because we don't have the right supplies (read: I didn't plan ahead), other times I don't follow the directions, and sometimes my little helper helps a bit more than anticipated :)  While I could just not post about those crafts, not take any pictures, or pretend they didn't happen, I don't want to do that.  I don't want to attempt to appear like a "perfect Mom" because I am so far from it.  I fail.  Plans fail.  Sometimes we have no plans at all :)

A recent example:  I saw this great activity in the September Family Fun magazine -- a marble coaster made from the edges of paper plates and toilet paper rolls.  Seemed simple and straight forward.

We started out cutting the plates for the coaster on the patio table since it was a beautiful day.  My son really enjoyed cutting up the parts of the plates.  It started so well, but as we attempted to put it together, it started falling apart, literally.  I didn't have glue dots as the instructions specified and was substituting tape... bad idea.  We were trying to assemble it in the sandbox (thinking it would be easier to adjust the heights of the supports) but the sand + tape + three year old was a terrible combination. 

I was quickly getting frustrated.  Then I took a deep breath.

"I'm not sure we'll be able to get this to work today" I said.
"But this is fun!" my son replied.

I was confused, the coaster track was not staying together.  The marbles and small cars we were using were either falling off or getting stuck on the way down, and the whole thing kept tipping over.

"What part is fun?"  I asked.
"You and me in the sandbox!  I like you to be in the sandbox."

My son doesn't care if the projects turn out or if they are picture-worthy.  He wants me, my time, my undivided attention, next to him, with him, together in the sandbox.  That I can do.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fun with the Letter "T"

T is for Turtle

Of course, we could have done trucks, trains or tractors (all pretty exciting to my son) but we decided to do Turtle since we've been talking about turtles a lot recently.   I love that my son helps pick out what the theme should be.
We had so much fun finding turtle activities to do this week: books, snacks, crafts and a story-play game. 

The best part though has been the real turtles we encountered.  We've been finding young turtles crossing our yard several times a week, heading to the pond, and this week was no different.  Then we saw a big snapping turtle on our gravelly road.  We took the picture on the lower right on my phone and then came home to identify the type of turtle using one of the library books.

We had fun looking for turtle books from the library.  Here's the ones we read:

He worked on a T worksheet from  He requested to use his watercolors instead of crayons or markers.

We also practiced the letter T on the whiteboard, but we've been spending more time on writing his name as its something they try to do each day at preschool -- so I'm trying to help him practice on days he doesn't have preschool :)

We made Fruit Turtles for snack out of apples, grapes, and mini chocolate chips.

And a quick turtle craft out of an egg carton.  The trick to helping them stay together is to glue a second egg carton "bump" inside the one your child colors after you've glued on the head, legs and tail.

One day we also did some story play with the Tortoise and the Hare story.  First we read the story outside and then acted it out.  Below he's pretending to be the tortoise in the race, with a laundry basket shell :)
Slow and Steady wins the race!

It seems to work pretty well to just have a list of possible activities in the back of my mind and fit them in as we are looking for something to do during the week -- not scheduled in any way. My son has a lot more fun if he's decided its a good time to work on a color sheet or a craft, instead of it being my idea :)  Another great week on the Gravelly Road.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Too Many Girls....

Yesterday  morning we went to the Sunday School Kickoff at church.  Basically everyone was in the gym - parents getting schedules and filling out forms, kids playing games or doing crafts.  The room was full and loud.  My little boy stood nicely next to me while I went through line to get all the paperwork, but then when we walked around to try to decide what game or craft he wanted to try while I filled out the registration form he started acting out.  So I knelt next to him to try to figure out what was going on.

"Can you tell me what's the matter?  Are you nervous?  Is it too loud and busy in here for you?"
First he just nods. 
Then he says in my ear,
"Mom, but there are just too many girls in here.  Can you make them go away?"

It took everything in me not to laugh.  I hugged him and reminded him I loved him.  Then we went in the hallway and sat for a while.  In ten minutes, he was ready to join the fun -- as long at the activity didn't have too many girls!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Another Garden Update

gardening photo

I'm enjoying the "harvesting" phase of my garden:  tomatoes are still doing great, a zucchini or two or week, enough cucumbers for a side of Creamy Cucumbers with at least one supper a week, and peppers to go with the tomatoes in salsa.  We've picked a few carrots as "someone" found them in the garden and ate off the foliage of a few -- the rest seem to be ok.  We even have a small pumpkin and a growing squash now.  Our sunflowers have bloomed and are just beautiful -- I love seeing them when I look into the backyard.  My garden is telling me that fall is really here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Day Prayer

Dear Lord,
Thank you again and again for allowing me to the mom of this precious boy.  He is growing up so fast, I can barely believe it! 
I ask that you watch over my son during his new preschool adventure.  Be there for him when I'm not.  Guide his words, actions and interactions as he starts to figure out how preschool works.  May it be a year of learning and growing for him.  Bless his teachers with patience, leadership and a faith that is seen by the students.  Bless the other students, may there be among them new friends, new challenges as they learn to get along, and fun memories.
Grow him into the boy (and young man) you created him to be for your purposes, and help me to be the parent I need to be for him for your glory. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fun with the Letter "F"

We had fun with letter F all week last week!  It was nice to spread our activities out over an entire week instead of trying to fit in all in one day.  As you can see, our themes were firetrucks/firefighters and frogs.

Letter Practice
We did several fun things to practice what the letter F looks like: making the uppercase and lower case letter F out of play-doh, using the whiteboard and dry erase crayons using the "wet, dry, now you try" method (basically having my son "trace" the letters I wrote with a wet q-tip, a dry q-tip and then a dry erase crayon) and sidewalk chalk on the driveway.

F is for Firetrucks

My son is always excited about firefighters and firetrucks.  Last Halloween, he dressed as a firefighter (and at least weekly all fall).  We had fun with firetruck books, a firetruck snack, a firetruck craft, and we even got to visit a real firetruck at a community even this week!

There are so many choices for firetruck/firefighter books, but here's the ones we read:
Snack time!

Making a firetruck out of the top of an egg carton (found here):
It was a fun and easy craft.  He painted the lid red.  I helped him make the ladder out of a pipe cleaner and cut out the black wheels.  When I went to copy a picture of him for the driver, I realized his picture from Halloween in his firefighter costume was still on the fridge which was perfect!

F is for Frogs

Finding frogs and toads in the backyard seems to happen several times a week, so the activities below were extra fun.

Here's some of the frog books we read -

Snack time!

A Hungry Frog Craft
1) I cut a toilet paper roll in half and my son covered it with green construction paper.
2) We traced a drinking glass and then around the googly eyes to create the face piece.
3)  Attached the eyes, cut the "mouth" out (leaving pieces to tape inside of the paper roll) and attached the face to the already green toilet paper roll.
4)  Glued on the "tongue" (a cut rubber band) and the "fly" (pom pom).  I did use a hot glue gun for this step since I knew my son would be playing with this craft.  We also made feet for the frog (which are hard to see) as it seemed strange for the frog not to have any.

Playing with his new Hungry Frog
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