Mom Guilt + Social Media

Mom Guilt

Two words: Mom. Guilt. It is for real y’all. I do think I have an overly active Catholic guilt/conscience, but I also think mom guilt is something the majority of moms feel on a regular basis.

Thoughts Throughout the Day

I have so many internal thoughts and questions going through my head every day. The majority of them pertain to my children. With that, most of them are criticisms about myself as a mother.

It goes something like this: Did I read to my kids enough today? I don’t think I’ve brushed my kid’s teeth in the past 24 hours. When was the last time I washed their sheets? My child ate half a piece of string cheese for breakfast. Am I teaching my kids enough? I’m pretty sure I gave my kids too much screen time today – like all day screen time. My kids don’t like to play independently, have I made them too needy? My kid is asking for friends to play with. Am I getting them involved enough? I lost my patience and yelled too much today, again. My child just slept for two hours, and I wasn’t one bit productive. My house is still a mess.

Life is Hard

If you’re like me, you hold it in, you don’t want people to know your weaknesses, and you just try to make it through another day doing your best. Until you have a crazy, fleeting moment like me and think it’s a good idea to post for everyone to see. I’ll regret that. But you know you’ll have another day where your kids only eat junk, watch the tv too much, and you spend too much time on social media in their presence.

It’s life. Life is hard. Parenthood is hard. So, why do we make it even harder? The guilt makes it harder. The kind of guilt I’m talking about is internal guilt. No one is telling me I’m a bad mother. No one is telling me I’m doing it wrong. I am my toughest critic.

We have to stop making ourselves feel guilty and know that if we are doing our best, if our children’s needs are met, if they are happy and healthy, we are doing a good job. We all have bad days here and there where we could be better, but we have to focus on what we are doing right.

Social Media Comparison

I think it would be interesting to do a study on mom guilt throughout different generations. I wonder how our mothers and their mothers felt mom guilt? No doubt, I’m sure they had it from time to time, but I can’t help but wondering if the technology driven world we live in today aids in the guilt we feel as mom’s. If I were a betting woman, which sometimes I do like a little blackjack and horse race betting, I’d say it absolutely does.

How many times have you seen something on social media that another mother is doing that makes you feel like you just don’t stack up? I know I have. I’ve seen videos of kids walking at 9-10 months when my now 15 month old is just starting to walk. I’ve seen videos of kids talking in complete sentences well before two when my child didn’t start talking in complete sentences until a few months after he turned two. I have seen snapchats of all the amazing outings people are taking their kids on when my kids have been stuck at our house for three days in a row. I’ve seen amazing bento box lunches when my kids are eating processed food.

And I know, as our children get older, we will continue to feel mom guilt in new ways. I’ve seen pictures of report cards with straight A’s. What if my children struggle in school and a B or C is my child’s personal best? I’ve seen pictures posted of kids sweeping up awards at their awards programs. What if my child is one of the only ones in their class that didn’t get an award? What kind of guilt am I going to feel when I see the other children being more successful, or more well-rounded than mine? Is it my fault? What could I have done differently?

We Aren’t Great at Everything

Let me stop and say, I am not faulting anyone that has posted these things. I brag on my children as well. I love seeing pictures and hearing stories of everyone’s kids. I love seeing momma’s and daddy’s brag on their children. We are our children’s advocates and should be their biggest fans. That’s our job as parents.

Not everyone is good at everything, and that includes us parents. Except those people that are, and you want to just tell them to spread the wealth a little bit. Everyone can’t and shouldn’t get a trophy for everything.

Not only is it our job to be their biggest advocates and fans, but It is also our job as parents to raise strong, confident, hard working children that know their strengths and their weaknesses. Kids that know things won’t just be handed to them in life. Kids that know they have to work for what they want. They will learn that from us. Let us be confident in what we are doing. Let us work hard and do our best even if it looks like someone else is doing better than us. Let us know that we may be weak in one area compared to someone else, but we may outshine them in another area where they fail.

What is Portrayed is not Always the Whole Truth

I also think it’s vital to remember social media gives us the opportunity to only post the best. To only post our proudest moments. To only post the great and wonderful aspects of our lives. It gives us the opportunity to present our lives in the way that we want other people to view us.

We only see what is presented to us, what is portrayed to us how people want us to see it. We literally only see a snapshot of someone’s life. We don’t see the miscarriages and fertility struggles behind the couples’ trips to paradise. We don’t see the marital problems behind the family portraits. We don’t see the battles of eating disorders or addictions behind the fun night’s out. We don’t see the tears behind the rockstar single parent. We don’t see the financial struggles behind the Christmas morning presents. We don’t see the loneliness behind the family of six.

Life Isn’t Always Greener on the Other Side

We need to remember, life isn’t always greener on the other side. When I do my best, and you do your best, it is undoubtedly going to look different, and that is ok. You may have your child potty trained at 18 months while mine is potty trained at 3 (gosh we hope by then!), but maybe my child plays better with other children than yours.

I need to remember to ask myself these questions every day: Is my child learning? Yes. Is my child clothed and fed? Yes. Does my child have a roof over their head? Yes. Is my child healthy and happy? Yes. Is my child loved fiercely? Yes. Is my child throwing a tantrum in the middle of the floor. Yes, but it’s ok, I’m sure yours has today too.

We have to stop comparing ourselves to one another. We have to know that our best is good enough. We have to stop feeling guilty.

Pete the Cat Number Activity

The following post contains affiliate links.

Two Things I Love

Two things I love: Pete the Cat books and counting with James. It has been so fun to watch how his counting has developed over the past year and sometimes frustrating when he refuses to do it right when I know he knows how to do it.

Counting with James

We started teaching him numbers 1-10, and of course, it took practice, and he would skip several numbers. Then it turned into 8 being his favorite number, so it would go something like this: “1, 2, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8…”. That was fun for a hot minute until I couldn’t get him to really count for me even though I knew he knew how.

Then, it went something like this: “1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10…” Well kid, you’re a prodigy, you can pretty much count by two’s. Help me. He is so stubborn.

Then we moved on to this: “1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10” and he would skip five Every. Single. Time. Getting closer right?

Once he finally got the number 5 down pat, we started counting 1-20. Now, it goes something like this: “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 14, 14, 14, 14, 14, 20!” One day, we will count to 20. I’m pretty happy with this point because I think its pretty good he can count to 14 by himself. Just don’t tell me your less than 2 year old is counting to 30 or anything. Let me be proud of our counting to 14.

Bedtime Counting

Now that he will consistently count semi correctly for us, I try to do more number activities and books with him. Also, since he continues to play around in his big boy bed during naptime and bedtime, I often hear him counting and saying, “14, 14, 14, 14, 14.” That’s a great time to practice because if he continues talking out loud, who knows, he might actually go to sleep.

Last night, he was having full conversations with himself. In fact, he was repeating every conversation he had had with us throughout the day. Sponge. I hope his memory is always this good, however, I’m sure it won’t be, and soon are the days of misplaced shoes, homework, and book bags.

Pete the Cat

Because I love all Pete the Cat books, and so do my boys, I wanted to do something fun with one of the books we were reading. If you haven’t heard of these books, look them up. You won’t be sorry. James has really started loving Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons. I think it’s because he likes the song in the book. He dances on the couch while singing, “My buttons, my buttons, my buttons, my buttons…” It’s a sight!

This specific book is great because it focuses on numbers and subtracting those numbers. Now, given, we are nowhere close to being ready for subtraction, but it lets him see what happens when something is taken away and then you have less of that item. This book also shows the numbers largely printed in the book which is great for practicing number identification.

Number Activity

To begin, I read the book to the boys. Once we finished reading, I went to this website that is printed on all of their books. I love some free resources! There are all kinds of songs, videos, and printable activities on this website that you can use for your child.

The boys watched some of the songs and videos as an extension to the read aloud, while I prepared the activity.

I only needed four materials for this project: glue, construction paper, scissors, and a black sharpie. I looked at a picture of Pete the Cat using the book and drew his head, eyes, nose, neck, and shirt onto construction paper. They were fairly simple to draw, as I am certainly no artist.

Once they were drawn I cut them out, and I outlined them in black sharpie and drew the eyes in black sharpie as well. As I’ve said before, outlining in sharpie makes everything look better! After the pieces were cut out and outlined, I let James help me glue them together. This is a great time to help your little ones figure out where the different body pieces should go.

Next, I cut out 8 circles – 2 light blue, 2 dark blue, 2 green, 2 red. I used a medicine cup to trace the circles because heaven knows I absolutely cannot draw a circle that looks like a circle. I don’t know why that is so difficult for me.

I know there are only four buttons needed, hence the title of the book, but this is where the number part of the activity comes in. On four of the buttons, I wrote the number form of the numbers 1-4. On the corresponding color of the other four buttons, I drew dots to represent each number, i.e. 1 dot to represent the number 1, two dots to represent the number 2, 3 dots to represent the number 3, and 4 dots to represent the number 4.

We glued the buttons with the number form written on them down on the shirt first. I practiced the numbers with James, and he identified each one. Then, he had to count the dots on each of the other buttons. Make sure when they are counting the dots, you have them put their finger on the dot they’re counting.

He then had to match the buttons with the dots on them to the buttons with the numbers on them. It helped that the buttons also matched in color – the button with the number 1 written and the button with the 1 dot were both light blue and so forth.

Once he figured out which buttons matched in numbers, we glued them down. You want the dotted buttons to be on top, as the dots are what make them actually look like buttons, even if they each have a different amount of dots on them. Not only did this activity help him practice his number skills, but it also let him practice his fine motor skills by placing the buttons directly on top of each other.

The Results

Overall, this was a super fun, easy project, and James loved his finished results! I would even go as far to say as this is one of my favorite art projects I have done with him, and it had some of the best results. He keeps pulling it off the refrigerator to show everyone and in turn, ripped part of his head. Naturally. Nothing stays in one piece around here. I certainly plan on doing more Pete the Cat activities with him, and I’ll be sure to fill you in on how those go as well. Enjoy!

Remembering to be Grateful on the “Long Days”

One of Those “Long Days”

Today is one of those “long days.” The husband has to work a baseball game tonight, so he won’t be home until late. Normally, about dinner time and bath time I look at the clock and take a deep breath knowing that soon daddy will be home and it’s no longer zone defense but back to man to man – two on two; however, with a late game tonight, I will have to skip that deep breath and truck on along to bath time. A quick pause, can we seriously praise single parents!! They are certainly rock stars in my book, that’s for sure!

Example of a Previous “Long Day” in our Household

During one of these long nights not too long along, one had a fever while the other one was throwing up in the bathtub, which meant our entire bath time routine was out of whack. Routines are our lifeline around here. With two little ones, I have to stick to them, or I’d be put in a home. Especially when both of your little ones appear to be a little, ok a lot OCD and Type A. Sorry boys, you get it from both of us. You had no hope.

Normally I have jammies and diapers in the bathroom so I can get one child out and dressed while the other one plays in the tub for a few more minutes. Heaven knows if I left my daredevil two year old in the tub for a few minutes without being in there, which I don’t recommend doing ever anyways, the bathroom would be a swimming pool with water everywhere, and he’d be jumping off the edge of the tub like it was a diving board. Better to just avoid any circumstance that could possibly include a trip to the ER.

Since I couldn’t follow our normal routine, that meant the older one sat naked in his rocking chair and rocked while I got the little one ready for bed. I put his jammies on and set him down on the floor, started dressing the other one, and then I heard the “baby” playing in water. Pause. I ran to the bathroom, and of course he had found the toilet. He was just standing there a splish splashing. Not only did he find the toilet, but there was a blood trail from the bedroom room to the toilet, so I’m asking myself what on Earth happened.

What Had Happened Was

Well what had happened was… his finger got stepped on and turned black and swollen from the blood underneath the nail awhile back. We had been waiting for the nail to fall off, but it just hadn’t gotten that far yet. Well, apparently the blood decided it was tired of being trapped under the nail and thought that night would be a great night to start oozing out. Hello blood trail. I got him a band aid and of course he chewed it off in under a minute flat. Someone in the medical field should really invent a way to stop a child’s finger from bleeding because band aids just aren’t a viable option with a one year old. Million dollar idea, someone run with it!

At this point, the older one also got to the toilet and pretended to smash his finger in there because he too had a “boo boo” and needed a band aid. I’ll give him points for associating that’s where the baby’s finger was bleeding, so he needed to go there too.

Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

Seriously though, I needed some wine. I always ask myself if it’s inappropriate to have a drink in the evening before the boys go to bed, but I always immediately feel guilty for that. It’s that Catholic conscience of mine. Thanks Dad. His favorite phrase to my sisters and me growing up was, “Let your conscience be your guide.”

It would go something like this:

Me: Dad, can I go to this party?
Dad: Let your conscience be your guide.

Me: Dad, can I stay at this house after prom?
Dad: Let your conscience be your guide.

Me: Dad, I don’t think I’m going to youth group tonight.
Dad: Let your conscience be your guide.

Oh how I hated when he said that, but don’t doubt for a second that I don’t plan on using it myself when my kiddos get older. Clearly it was effective.

Back to the Story

Anyways, back to the story, I got both kids settled down and dwindled a few more minutes off the clock until the baby just couldn’t hold it together another minute without some milk. I picked him up, he’s pretty darn heavy, so I kind of carried him by his stomach in one hand and the milk in the other. Why is that important? Well, he threw up again. Yes, really.

We cleaned up and went to his room for bedtime. On nights that Chad isn’t home, the older one comes with me to to the baby’s room and sits in the glider with us until I lay him down. Sounds sweet and all, but normally I’m telling him to stop screaming, whisper and to sit down. That night was no different, eventually I was telling him those things, but in the brief few moments before that, it made the whole #jesusandwine night worth it.

Be Still My Heart

I’m cradling one in my left arm while he was drinking his bottle, and the other was sitting in my right arm. My big boy said, “twinkle twinkle star.” This is his favorite song. I sing it to him most nights, so again, points for associating baby’s bedtime with his own bedtime song. So, together we sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. I looked down and baby boy was smiling up at us. Oh, be still my heart. Then, brother said, “happy birthday?!” Another top three favorite song of his, as this is the song sung while we brush his teeth. So naturally, we sang Happy Birthday as we tried to drift baby off to sleep, and again, he smiled. Doesn’t everyone sing Happy Birthday as a lullaby? That was about big brother’s limit of sitting and being sweet, so the loud talking and the standing in the glider began, which meant baby got tossed in bed quickly so I could get the screaming child away from him.

I put the two year old in his bed, and he said, “momma sit.” That’s the norm these days. He wants me to sit by his bed while he holds my thumb (this has been his comfort since he was born pretty much), so I do. While I’m sitting there, we said our prayers. As ready as I was to drink my wine and watch my shows, I knew deep down they wouldn’t always want to hold my hand and have me rock them, so I sat there just a bit longer than normal, and I quietly thanked God for choosing me to be their mom.

Bring It On

I know with another long night is ahead of us and me being outnumbered by the little ones, there will certainly be more #jesusandwine moments to document. Moments that will have me counting to five, or maybe ten so I don’t lose it; however whatever those moments may be, I know one thing for sure: I am certainly undeserving of those two, and oh so grateful they’re mine, so bring it on.

Runaway + Noah’s Ark

It’s too Quiet

It’s quiet in my house, and I don’t even know what to do with myself. Two mornings in a row where it is so quiet I could hear a pen drop. I’m not battling naptime, terrible two tantrums, 15 month old frustrations (this is new!), or sibling fighting. Oh, and did I mention my house is clean? I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. But really, it’s too quiet, and I don’t know how to act. Yesterday when it was this quiet, I text Chad telling him I didn’t know what to do, so I started cleaning the windows. Why would I spend my quiet time like that? It makes me a little appreciative of all of my #jesusandwine moments, but then I remember the moments, and I’m ok with the quiet.

Let me just tell you a recent one to make you feel better about your parenting and to remind you that I’m holding on to my Mom of the Year title, so you can’t have it.

Mail Time

One thing James has loved since we’ve moved to Houston is getting the mail. Our mailman, Mr. Jason, brings the mail to the door every day with a smile on his face, and makes my boys feel oh so special. We love Mr. Jason! I love it too because selfishly, Mr. Jason is my only interaction with another adult until Chad gets home. James watches out the window in the afternoons to see if he is here yet so he can go outside and get the mail. Mr. Jason always gives them a high five and comes back two or three times on the days James asks for “one more”.

Well, the other day, Mr. Jason came to deliver the mail. I was holding Weston, the kid is HEAVY, and James was refusing to take the mail that day. Who knows the reasoning in that child’s head as to why he wouldn’t take it. While I’m taking the mail, Mr. Jason says, “uh oh”. James had run halfway down the street, on the sidewalk thankfully, and had no intentions of stopping. He does this from time to time. Run away. That’s why we only play in the front yard when we get the mail.

I sat Weston down in the grass, one time I’m thankful he still refuses to regularly walk, and ran to get my runaway child. Might I add, James is looking back and laughing at me like it’s all some fun game. I yank him up, walk back to the house where I left my other child sitting in the grass with the mailman, and try to parent in public which we all know looks quiet different than parenting in private. I know Mr. Jason thought I was crazy since I plopped my child down in front of him and chased after the one that I didn’t even know was running away until he mentioned it. JESUS.AND.WINE

In the Midst

In the midst of all our craziness, I am still trying to get in some devotion time with the boys, even though I’m falling a little short in this area lately, but hey, it’s real life, and this happens.

We did get to finish a fun one yesterday that I wanted to share with you! We started by reading the story of Noah’s Ark from this sweet book. My boys love this book because they get to lift all the flaps, but they still don’t quiet understand the word “easy”, so needless to say, not all of the flaps are still in tact. Surprise, surprise.

Don’t’ Forget to Discuss

Don’t forget to discuss the story with your child. Even if you think they don’t understand it, they’re taking in some of what you say. I would ask James questions and explain the story to him in toddler words, and in his sweet little voice, he would say “yeah!” We’re still working on a consistent “yes ma’am” around here.

Once we finished reading the story, we sang this song on the Apple TV. I love me some Apple TV. YouTube and Netflix at my fingertips. A reason in the pro column for technology.

The Project

After our music time, we began our craft. I cut a paper plate in half. The top of the paper plate would be the rainbow, and the bottom of the plate would be the ark. James colored the bottom piece brown with crayon. You could use marker or paint for this as well, but we all know my kids aren’t trustworthy enough for all that.

We then painted the rainbow (top half of the plate) with our beloved DO-A-DOT art paint. I started the colors for James and helped him place them in line. You can see where he got a little happy with the dots in some places and didn’t want to go in line, but I think that makes it all the better, as it shows a two year old did it.

Once both halves of the plate were finished, I glued the rainbow portion to the top of a blue piece of construction paper, and the ark portion of the plate to the bottom of the construction paper. Each piece of the plate will hang over the edges a little bit so that the animals can fit between the rainbow and the ark.

After the plate halves were glued down, we glued cotton balls to the ends of the rainbow. James liked this part. I would put a dot of glue on the paper, and then he would put the cotton balls on the glue.

Now, it was time for the animals, however, Mom of the Year over here didn’t have what she needed to finish the project, so I jumped on Amazon and ordered these animal foam stickers. My mistake: telling James we had animals to put in the ark. This was a mistake because every day until the animals came in the mail, he asked about them. One day, he seriously asked me every thirty minutes. He wouldn’t even nap that day because every time I went in his room to tell him to lay down, he asked me if the animals were here yet. Never again will I tell him something is coming in the mail until Mr. Jason puts it in the child’s hands.

So a couple of days later, when the animals finally made their long awaited arrival, it was time to finish our project. By this point, daddy was home mowing the grass and that became much more interesting than the animals he had been asking for two whole days, so Weston got to finish the project by sticking the animals between the rainbow and the ark which made it look like the animals were in the ark.

The Results

Overall, this was an easy and quick craft to do with your little one, and I thought it turned out pretty cute for a two year old. As always, use what you have and what works for your child. You could make the rainbow out of Froot Loops, paint, Skittles, pom pom balls, etc., and you could use these or these for the animals. I hope y’all enjoy this fun craft and devotion!

Transportation Shapes

Houston Living

Since our move to Houston, one thing I have come to love about living here is all the cool things to do. There are amazing parks for the kids, a great zoo, a children’s museum, and tons of events throughout every week and weekend, just to name a few.

One of the cool things we are getting to experience for the first time is the Houston Rodeo. How fun! Chad and I had the opportunity to attend the rodeo cookout last weekend, and it was great. With all of the music, food, lights, and drinks, I told Chad I kind of felt like I was walking down Bourbon Street, of course with less promiscuity and more flannel, hats and boots.

Since the time we told my family we were moving out here, last March (wow, that was a year ago??), my five year old nephew has been telling us he was going to the rodeo. Every time he has seen us since we moved he brings up the rodeo. He’s been walking around in his cowboy hat and just got some new boots, so you know as soon as those tickets went on sale, we grabbed a few!

Cleaning with Toddlers

With all that being said, my whole family is coming out here for the long awaited rodeo, and we are SO EXCITED. Whether they’re family or not, we all know that when people are coming to your house you like to clean up a little and at least make it semi presentable, but with toddlers, that’s nearly impossible.

What takes me all day to clean, they can destroy within minutes, so I must wait until the very last minute to thoroughly clean the house. Does anyone else feel like this? Yesterday, they pulled out all of the cookie sheets and muffin pans. As one of my friends told me one time, sometimes, it’s just worth the mess. That was one of those times. I was trying to get something else finished, so I figured I’d just let them go to town.

Later, I went to clean up the cookie sheets. Imagine how long that took, ok? Seriously, under a minute. Would you like to know where I found them when I finished? Pulling out every drawer of our desk and every item in the each drawer. Jesus and wine y’all. I can’t get ahead of them. I clean up one mess, they make a bigger mess. How on Earth am I supposed to get an entire house cleaned with a one year old and a two year old hurricane coming behind me? I figure it’s probably just easier to apologize for the mess, so I’m sorry family, welcome to the circus!

Internal Motors

In the midst of the “cleaning”, we paused to work on some shapes this morning. If we are working on something, that means they aren’t destroying something else. I wanted to do a new shapes activity with my two year old that would keep him engaged and from running all around the house for at least a few minutes. To see my previous blog about other shape activities we have completed, click here.

I think boys are seriously born with internal motors. When I was teaching, there were always the boys that couldn’t simply walk to get in line, but pretended they were cars, trucks, etc. My two year old doesn’t ever walk, he runs. Needless to say, they love anything with wheels and anything that goes.

Shapes that Go

I started thinking back to when I was student teaching in a Kindergarten classroom. I had such a great supervising teacher to work with, and I still think she was probably the most patient teacher I have ever seen. She never showed frustration, never raised her voice, and always had the calmest demeanor. Anyone that has ever taught in a classroom knows that even if you love your job and have a great  class, remaining patient 100% of the time is a tough thing to do. Not only do parents think about #jesusandwine moments, but I’m sure there are some teachers out there thinking of their own #jesusandwine moments, especially as we approach Spring Break.

While I was working in her classroom, the students were working on a transportation unit. In one of the centers, the students got to make a mode of transportation out of pre-cut construction paper pieces. They turned out so cute, and I started thinking that I could piggy back off that idea a little bit. So, this morning I started cutting out shapes to make these modes of transportation. James loves anything that goes, and it would be an activity to help him learn his shapes – win, win!

The Project

This is a very easy activity, and it didn’t take long to complete. The longest part of the activity is the prep work you need to do, which simply involved cutting out the shapes for each mode of transportation that you choose to create. We created a fire truck, a car, a sailboat, and a train.

Materials you will need: 
Construction Paper
Scissors
Glue
Sharpie

  1. Firetruck – To create the fire truck, I used one red rectangular piece for the long part of the truck, a smaller, white rectangular piece for the ladder, a red square piece for the front of the truck, a black square piece for the window, and five black circle pieces for the tires. I drew black lines with a Sharpie on the ladder to add a little bit of detail. You can see the picture below to see how I put the fire truck together.
  2. Sailboat – To create the sailboat, I used one brown rectangular piece for the bottom of the boat (you could do a half circle of half oval if your child is able to understand that), a skinny white rectangular piece for the pole, and a green triangular piece for the sail. We simply glued it on blue paper to make it look like it was in water, but you could have your older children draw waves, a sun, birds in the air, etc. You can see the picture below to see how I put the sailboat together.
  3. Car – This one was a little more difficult, as the shape of the car isn’t really a normal shape, however, you could change that up if you wanted to. I used a long, black rectangular piece to create a street at the bottom of the paper, small, yellow rectangular pieces for the lines in the middle of the street, a red piece for the car, a white piece for the window, and two black circles for the tires. You can see the picture below to see how I put the car together.
  4. Train – To create the train, I cut a black piece out to make the engine. This isn’t a normal shape, and honestly, mine looks more like a shoe than a train engine, but I’m sure you’re more artistic that I am! I cut out five different colored rectangles for the train cars, five small, black rectangles for the pieces that connect the train cars together, and twelve black circles for the train wheels. I made a train with five train cars because “James” has five letters. I wrote one letter of his name on each train car in black Sharpie so that we could practice the letters in his name. This was just an added learning activity that I chose to do along with the shapes, you certainly don’t have to do that. You can see the picture below to see how I put the train together.

Results

James loved this activity, and he kept asking to do more and to see his car. He also continuously told me that he wanted to drive his car, which I informed him he could not do. That kid. He has a daily breakdown when I put him in his car seat because I won’t let him drive – #jesusandwine.

 

St. Patrick’s Day Crafts

The following post does contain affiliate links.

Integrate the Arts

Does anyone else love Saint Patrick’s Day? I love a Saint, and I love the color green, so what’s not to like?

One fun thing about teaching was always the art projects you get to do for the various holidays throughout the school year. I always felt bad for the dad’s since Father’s Day doesn’t fall during the school year. I know they probably don’t think twice about it, but they don’t get the fun art pieces their kids create like the mom’s do for Mother’s Day.

I was truly blessed to work at an arts integrated school, and it made teaching SO MUCH FUN. Seriously, if you are a teacher and don’t teach at an arts integrated school, I encourage you to integrate the arts in your own classroom curriculum. The students love it, and you will too!

With that being said, although my boys are still a little young to get the full lesson of it all, there are so many ways to integrate the arts into a history/religion lesson for St. Patrick’s Day. Subscribe to my blog to make sure you don’t miss the post coming about a Saint Patrick’s Day devotion for toddlers.

St. Patrick’s Day Crafts

As always, if your kids are older or even younger than mine, simply tweak these projects a little to meet your individual needs. You can always extend and enrich the projects for older children. If you need help coming up with ways to do this, please feel free to contact me, and I’d be glad to help!

Below I have listed five St. Patrick’s Day crafts that I did with either one or both of my boys. They are all super simple (just how I like it), and don’t take very long. Heaven knows if I try to do a craft that takes too long with my boys I will certainly be asking for #jesusandwine before naptime.

  1. Shamrock Handprint – This one seriously took longer to prep for than it did to complete. I love anything using my kids’ handprints as art! Eventually I know their hands will be too big to do these things, so I am doing all I can now. There will be a post in the future on creating the alphabet with those sweet little handprints, so stay tuned.If you struggle to even draw a stick person, fear not, I have a total cheat system for you here. Simply Google a picture of a shamrock, find one you like, print it out, and trace it onto the background of your choice. I chose green construction paper because shocker, that’s what I had on hand. Also, you’ll what a solid colored background for this one, as you want your child’s handprints to show up.Once I traced the shamrock onto the construction paper, I pulled out my handy dandy sharpie and outlined it. Trust me, sharpie makes everything look better. I always had my students outline their projects in sharpie. It makes it pop and definitely looks cleaner.Last, I used some green finger paint to coat my boy’s hands and pushed their handprint down into each leaf of the shamrock. I did a three-leafed clover, but you could certainly choose to do a four-leafed clover. I used some green finger paint from Target that I do not recommend – it dried sticky, however, I have had great luck in the past using this finger paint, and it is what I will use in the future.

    This is the kit I bought, and it is great because it has large white sheets of art paper you can use for projects as well. The only problem with this specific kit is that it does not have a green tube of paint.

    Quick tip: I couldn’t find our paint brush, and you know I didn’t get out just to buy a paint brush, so I used a cotton ball to dip in the paint and coat their hands. It worked perfectly!

  1. Rainbow with a Pot of Gold – Ok, I am a little biased, but I thought this turned out cute. This is also a great example of a project I simplified for my kids since they’re young, but you could make it even cuter if your kids are a little better with paint than mine. I’ll let you know how you can do that!Remember those white art sheets of paper I was talking about in the previous craft? That is exactly what I used for this one. I simply cut out a black pot out of black construction paper and glued it on to one of the large, white piece of paper. I then used some DO-A-DOT paint that we had in our craft box. James loves this, and it is great for little ones. I highly recommend getting some if you don’t have some already!Guilty, I had to look up a picture of a rainbow to see the order of the colors for this next part. Once I figured out the order, I put one dot of each color starting closest to the pot. James and I then started with the bottom color (purple) and began making our rainbow. I did it in this order to make sure there would be enough room for all of the colors. I definitely had to help him with this, as he likes to dot EVERYWHERE, i.e., the table, his hands, etc. However, it was a great way to continue helping him learn his colors.Once the rainbow was created, I looked in my craft box, aka an old wooden basket that is overflowing, and looked to see what I had for the gold. Mardi Gras beads! That’s what I had, so that’s what I used. Originally, I was going to cut out yellow circles of construction paper, but after about three odd shaped circles, I gave up on that. This was a time I needed a dye cutter at home! If you have any of those plastic, gold, play coins, that would be super cute with this. You could also use some gold glitter, just be forewarned, glitter always makes a huge mess, so go outside or prepare to reconnect with Jesus for some patience with the mess that is to come.

    I’ve seen this project done with different colored handprints for each color of the rainbow as well, and that turned out cute, but I knew my boys weren’t quite ready for that. You could also use something like Froot Loops or Skittles.

  1. Patricks Day Hats – Ok, so my boys destroyed these in under a minute flat, shocking I know, but if your child can handle them, they’d be cute for them to wear. Tip: Don’t estimate the size of your child’s hand. Measure it with a strip of construction paper. I did measure for one child but not the other. You can see in the picture below that it was way too big and just feel over his head – mom fail.I cut out the pieces for this project and then had my two year old help me glue them together. I started by cutting two green strips of construction paper, glued them together, wrapped them around his head to see where I needed to connect them so it would fit like a band around his head. I then glued them together to make a circle.Next, I cut out a rectangular shaped piece of green construction paper. This will be the hat. I chose to make my edges round and the sides not perfectly straight. This is simply a choice you can make.Then, I cut out a black strip of construction paper that was the same length as the bottom of the green hat portion. Glue the black strip onto the bottom of the hat.

    Last, cut out a yellow rectangle. Cut the center of the rectangle out so that it will look like a buckle, and glue this in the center of the black construction paper. You’re hat is then finished! This was really quick, which is good since it took longer to make than it did to destroy.

  1. Shamrock Sun Catcher – If you read my post about creating Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors, we used the same technique to create this shamrock sun catcher. We used our same DO-A-Dot paint that we used to create our rainbow in the first craft, but this time, you will only need the green paint. If you don’t have these markers, or your child is old enough to handle markers, you can use a green marker instead. You will also need three coffee filters.Simply have your child use these paint pens or a green marker to cover the three coffee filters. You want very little white to be showing. I then took a medicine syringe, as that’s what we have plenty of around here, and filled a small cup with a little bit of water. You could also use a toothbrush or a medicine dropper to sprinkle the water. It does not take much water at all. You don’t want it soaked, you just want enough water for the colors to start to bleed together, so just start putting little drops of water all over the coffee filter. Fill in those small white spots! Be sure to put something under your filter while you’re doing this. I put it on a piece of construction paper and then put a cookie sheet under the paper. Now, it’s time to sit back and let it dry! It really doesn’t take too long, but I’m sure you could set it outside to dry quicker or use a hair dryer.Once all three pieces were dry, I cut them into wide heart shapes so that when they were put together they would look like a shamrock. Again, I chose to do a three-leafed clover, but you could do a four-leafed clover. I laid out how I wanted to pieces to be put together, and used tape to connect them. You could also use glue, but I would make sure to use as little as possible.

    For the stem, I glued a lime green straw to the back of the shamrock. You could also use a pipe cleaner or just some green construction paper. I then taped it to the door because I didn’t have any string, but it would be cute to connect some string to the top of the shamrock and hang it in the window that way.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

I hope you and your little ones have a fun time making these crafts for St. Patrick’s Day. Let me know about the crafts you are making as well! Also, here is a fun book to read to your child for St. Patrick’s Day. We love this one and think you will too!

Fine Motor Skill Activities

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Looking for the Positive

Well, the little one, almost 15 months, who is actually the bigger one, has officially found the toilet. He really enjoys splashing in it, and let’s not even begin to discuss that he likes to lick the water off his fingers. Ew.

As gross as this, and as much as it is a #jesusandwine moment, I have to say, it takes some motor skills to accomplish this disgusting task. He had to use those little fingers and arms of his to get that far, so that’s a plus. It shows me that he’s continuing to develop, and that my friends, is a blessing.

Fine Motor Skills

Since I’ve had to the opportunity to work in the classroom with students of various ages, I know just how important those fine motor skills are when it comes to academics. It is important that your child learns to write, draw, cut, and glue, and if their fine motor skills aren’t developed, these can be very daunting tasks for a young child.

Developing fine motor skills starts at a very young, and if you work with your child on these skills, you can set them up to be successful in the future, and you’ll also be able to place some checkmarks on those dreaded well baby checklists. Those things always make me nervous. I feel like it reflects me as a parent.

Let’s Get Started

Today, I am going to list some ways for you to do that at home with objects you have around your house. As always, if you don’t have the exact items I used, be creative and adapt the activities to fit your needs.

  1. You will need a colander and some type of skinny stick like object that is small enough to fit through the colander holes. My two year old loves this one! I have been using kabob sticks, but WARNING, there is a pointy end, and if your child is like mine, he will find it and think of ways to use it. You could substitute toothpicks, or spaghetti noodles. Spaghetti noodles of course are fragile, but if you have a gentle child, this could work. Simply have your child put the sticks through the small colander holes.

  1. You will need a creamer bottle and golf tees. Again, this is what I used because it was I had at home. There are SO many ways you could change this activity. I simply had my younger toddler drop the tees through the creamer bottle opening at the top. I know this sounds simple, but they really have to focus on this activity and practice maneuvering thir fingers and hands in order to put it through the opening.

  1. You will need straws and a plastic carafe. Ok y’all, so my mom found this plastic carafe at Kroger, and it’s awesome. Not only can I use it for activities with my kids, but I can also use it should I ever need some mimosas to go somewhere. At one end of the carafe, there’s a hole that you can stick objects through. I have been having my kids put straws and pom pom balls through the opening. They will sit there and do this activity over and over. This is not the carafe I have, but it would work for this activity!

  1. You will need an old diaper wipes box and some pom pom balls. Simply have your child push the pom pom balls through the opening. Now I will say, my 14 month old still likes to put everything in his mouth, so he does try to eat the smaller pom pom balls. The bigger pom poms are better because he can’t swallow them, and they have to use their fingers to actually push the pom poms through the hole.

  1. You will need a muffin tin and some type of small ball. I use these plastic balls for so many activities! Have your child place the balls into the round sections of the muffin tins. This activity, just like the others, takes some hand eye coordination. If your child is like mine, they will have way more fun throwing all of the balls than actually putting them in the muffin tin, but hey, it was worth a shot.

  1. You will need blocks. Have your child practice stacking blocks. You can start the tower of blocks for them to show them what to do, and then have them stack as many blocks as they can on top of one another. We used these blocks, but any kind of blocks will work. They blocks that don’t connect can actually make this a more challenging activity for your toddler.

  1. You will need puzzles. Ok, so I really love activities that serve multiple purposes. I love puzzles that not only are working on our fine motor skills, but also are teaching my children numbers, shapes, colors, animals, etc; therefore, working on puzzles are great for cognitive development as well. Melissa and Doug have great educational puzzles!

  1. You will need plastic cups. This one is great because I can change the activity up a little bit to meet the needs of both my children. I simply let my younger toddler stack the cups back together, and I let my older toddler stack them in a more difficult way, such as the way milk jugs would be stacked at a carnival.

  1. You will need a book like this one. You know I wasn’t going to list activities without including a book! Learning to clap your hands is a developmental milestone, so why not use a little song and story to encourage it. I think all little ones are so proud of themselves when they learn how to do this! My younger one loves to sing, If You’re Happy and You Know It, so incorporating it through story time and song time is extra fun.

Older Toddler Fine Motor Activities

So the above activities were things that both my 2.5 year old and 14 month old could participate in. Below, I am going to list some tasks that I am having my 2.5 year old work on that are focusing on his fine motor skills and the basic life skills that will help him to be independent. Keep in mind, I completely understand sometimes you’re in a hurry and don’t have the time to let your little one take their precious time to perform these tasks or you’ll be shouting for some #jessuandwine by 8:30 every morning; however, when you do have the time, let them practice.

  1. Let them practice zipping their jackets and/or pants. Obviously, you will have to start their jackets for them, but once it is started it is great for them to practice zipping it up and down.
  1. Also, let them practice putting their socks on. Now, my very OCD James struggles with this one if it is not on exactly right, so I usually have to help him, but I at least let him get started. He tells me his socks hurt his feet. Insert eye roll. My mom says I use to do this too. Payback.
  1. My son loves to buckle the top part of his car seat belt! This drives me crazy sometimes, as I just want to hurry up and do it for him, but he is strong willed and will not allow me to do so. On the bright side, this is great development for his fine motor skills, and now he asks everyone in the car if they have their seatbelt on, so an added bonus, it teaches safety.
  1. Have them wash their hands. Ok, if I’m being honest, which I clearly don’t hide our circus we call life, I don’t really let mine do this one that often because we like to get water everywhere, and it becomes one more mess I have to clean up, but letting them learn to wash their hands is a great fine motor skill to work on, and it teaches them hygiene, which I know we all want our kiddos to learn!

Enjoy

As always, I hope you and your little ones enjoy these activities! They are fun, can knock a few minutes off the clock during a long day, simple, and all around great for their development.

Turning those “Moments” into Something Productive

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“Child Proofing”

So last night while I was vacuuming the den, my curious boys decided to get into the “child-proofed” drawer and pull out my brand new roll of aluminum foil. Seriously, I don’t know about the things you’ve child proofed in your house, but my kiddos can completely get through anything we have attempted to keep them out of. Cabinets, drawers, doors, plugs – they’ve figured it all out.

I knew something was going on when they had been behind the counter longer than they can stay still. Instead of getting too frustrated, I wondered how I could turn my #jesusandwine moment into something productive without wasting all of the foil I could no longer use. That’s when the brainstorming began!

Fun with Foil

Our fun with foil began this morning after breakfast. I made each of the boys a quick King’s crown. You can imagine how long those lasted – less than a minute. So then, I made them each a superhero cape. Again, less than a minute. So much for my great ideas. Boys are so destructive. With that being said, what is every boy’s favorite toy? Around here, it’s a ball! We crumbled the crowns and capes and made some foil balls and tried to throw them in the empty diaper boxes, that is until Weston started eating the foil. Everything goes in that kids mouth, which I know, is just typical. Our pediatrician told us they would stop getting sick when they stop licking the world. How accurate is that?? Toddlers literally seem to lick the world.

Rainbow Fish

Since all of those ideas took maybe a total of five minutes and were pretty much fails, I decided to make my last attempt with a little foil project. We read The Rainbow Fish, one of my favorites! This would be a great book for some kids that are a little bit older to talk about some life lessons on being kind, being a good friend, and it’s what’s on the inside that truly matters. Mine aren’t quite ready for that lesson yet.

I decided we would use some foil to make our very own rainbow fish. When I first started, I thought I would cut some scales out of the foil and we would glue them on construction paper. Take my advice, DON’T DO THIS. It didn’t take me long to figure out cutting scales out of foil wasn’t an easy task. Instead, It was much easier to draw the entire fish in sharpie on the foil, cut the entire fish shape out, and glue colored construction paper scales onto the foil. This way, the fish still had the rainbow colors, but the shiny scales also showed through.

Steps for Rainbow Fish

  1. Draw a fish shape in sharpie on piece of foil and cut fish out.
  2. Glue the foil fish onto blue construction paper (water). You could really choose any color background you like.
  3. I cut out a small, orange heart to use as the fish lips and glued it onto the fish.
  4. Draw an eye in sharpie on fish so that you don’t cover up this part of the fish when you are doing the scales later. If you have any wiggly eyes, that would be cute too. I really miss my teaching crafts closet!
  5. Cut out small scales out of different colors of construction paper.
  6. Start gluing the scales on the fish in any pattern you want.
  7. I chose to then cut the blue construction paper around the fish so it was just framed in blue. That’s a personal choice – you make it look however you want from here!

This was a project that I had to help my two year old with, but he could definitely help create it. I had to help him with the glue and placing the scales in a line because I’m controlling like that, however, you could just let your child put the scales wherever they wanted. He picked out which colors he wanted where, and I made him tell me the colors as we were gluing them on.

I hope you have a chance to try this project with your little one, enjoy!