Tot School 23.5mo twins – Counting & Fish

I laughed again today as I read “Hey guys, follow me!” and I even said it with a Chicago accent that made it all the more funny.  The fishing from the pool yesterday was a hit.  They were wet, I was wet, James fished and Lance bailed water out everywhere.  This morning after reading our bible story, we worked on some counting.  I pulled out 5 spoons, five pennies and five cars for the twins to count.  I have to say the cars were the biggest winners.  James had to touch each one separately as he counted while Lance looked at them and giggled in between each number.  I don’t know, maybe counting is funny to an almost 2 yr old boy?

We headed out with some friends on a grand fish adventure at nearby Lake Lavon.  I stopped and bought six little minnows in a bag of beautiful blue water.  We went to a park and made our way over some rocks down to the shoreline.  The kids looked at the fish in the bag first.  I reminded them that they were little fish just like the fishermen caught in our story this week.  I caught a minnow and let them hold it.  I think those poor little fish were so frightened because every one of us managed to drop the minnow on the ground trying to get it to the water.  Lance threw his one fish in and didn’t act like he was interested after that.  He was more preoccupied with the fabulous rocks he was finding and throwing those in the water.  James on the other hand was wild about the little fish.  He dove his hand right in the bag and tried to catch them.  He wasn’t afraid to hold it and fling it as far as he could into the water, which was just barely far  enough into the water for the minnow to swim away.  Of course, there was muddy shoes on all the kids.

There was a playground back up the road so we jumped out to run off some energy.  As we got out of the car, I spotted some horse apples.  We’ve looked at them before but each time seems to be new and fun.  The kids enjoyed rolling it down the slide and carrying it around with them.  Then before we got in the car to come back home the boys took off across the field for a little run.  There’s nothing’ better than a big open space of grass for them to run through.

We ended our morning of fish adventures by eating fish tacos.  Not my favorite, but the boys love seafood in any form.  What a great way to visually connect the bible stories to something they can understand.  When we were at the lake, I poured out some water into a puddle.  We talked about jumping in puddles and that it was a small amount of water.  Then I reminded them about the bigger water they see in a pond.  Finally I  said that a sea was even bigger, just like the lake.  Dad has seen the Sea of Galilee and even swam in it.  Maybe someday the twins will be to see it for themselves.  For now though, I count it a mercy that we can see and feel little fish to help us understand a little more about the fishermen of the bible.

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Tot School 23.5mo twins – When It Doesn’t Work

As moms, we plan and prepare to help our kids learn through play.  We have to follow the cues of our children though to be effective.  That means that some days tot school the way you planned doesn’t happen.  Yesterday Lance and James had their own ideas on what they wanted to do.  After breakfast I read the new bible story for the week.  We are reading about Jesus calling his 12 disciples.  I love the way one of our bibles tells it: and Jesus said “Hey guys, follow me!”   I laugh because I don’t think they talked that way back then, but it makes me laugh and the boys don’t get the humor.  If you don’t know the story, some of these men where fishermen on the Sea of Galilee.  So much of this week will  have a fishing theme.  Sadly, no nets, because I can’t think of a great way to make a net for fishing.  After reading the story, we were supposed to trace lines and this is what actually happened.  I tapped down Lance’s paper in front of him.  While I was taping James’ page, Lance tore his page in two.  I went to tape his back down and James did the same thing.  I told them to quit, but it went another round and I decided that wasn’t working so we ended tracing/color time without a single mark being made on the papers.  Next we were going to clap out rhythms but the boys jumped on their push cars and ignored me all together.  Not one clap was made.  I decided to scrap any official learning that I had planned rather than get upset and try to force it.  As I’ve heard from Carrissa at 1+1+1=1 blog, you have to follow the child’s lead to keep it fun.

However, we did do learning yesterday.  Dad had brought home some of the big bubble wrap and the boys went nuts.  I laid the sheets out on the ground and the boys stomped up and down the sheets.  I showed them the little holes that they had blown into the plastic and said that they had popped the air out of them.  Oh the giggles as they ran across barefooted.

We have an old crib mattress that has holes in it that we don’t use.  What a great jumping and crash pad that has turned out to be.  When my twins jump, they don’t actually get both feet off the ground at the same time.  That takes some practice so we jumped our way across the mattress.  Lance still isn’t getting both feet at the same time, but James had a few turns where he truly jumped with both feet off the ground.  We all especially love when the boys lay across the end together and mom plops across the mattress and pops the boys up in the air.  I have to be careful, too much plopping made Lance bounce completely off a foot or so.

This morning the boys went to bible study at our church with me and then came home for a nap so we didn’t have time for tot school.  When they wake up, I’m ready with a few planned things and hopefully they will be in the mood for playful learning.  I have the tracing sheets to work on with crayons and we are going fishing!  I have a baby pool in the backyard that I filled with water and placed their bathtub animals in the pool.  I’ll give them a kitchen strainer to scoop out the animals.  If you look closely, you will see that there is a dinosaur head floating with all the other animals.  I know, dinosaurs do not swim in the sea, nor were there dinosaurs in the Sea of Galilee when the men were fishing.  Sometimes you go with the big picture of the story and the little details aren’t as important.  Here’s to hoping we have a great time of splashing our way through the calling of the 12 disciples.

Tot School 23.5mo twins – Red Sea, Playdo, & Squares

Lance has been running a low-grade fever all week so he’s been cranky and we’ve been cooped up in the house.  That means that today their energy just spilled over and they went nuts.  I’ve declared the followed the theme for the day, “Let the wild rumpus begin!” from Where the Wild Things Are.  So this morning was nonstop activity.  Yesterday we set out to make white squares to help with the color of the month and the shape.  I poured just bit of white paint out onto a small plate and cut up a sponge in the shape of squares.  We looked at the shapes first then I showed them how to dab the sponges in the paint and make squares on their construction paper.  Lance did well with his squares and James took the more artistic path and smeared his squares around.  I would have liked to put them up on the refrigerator to review the color/shape with them, but they decided that ripping the taped paper off the table would be a better idea.  Sometimes it just doesn’t go like you planned.  Just like the constant need to tell the boys not to lick the paint and not to eat the sponges.

Today we tried our hand at play do art.  I’m really into the art thing lately.  I put one color out in front of each boy at a time.  I worked with each one to roll out the dough until it was mostly smooth & flat.  Then I pressed their hand into the dough and showed them their hand print.  James loved it and Lance was content to ball it up and stick it on his finger so he could twirl it around in the air for all to see.  We eventually used four different colors.  The boys could identify the yellow and orange color pretty well, but the pink never quite stuck.  The other fun thing that they enjoyed was pushing the dough into the cup and dumping it back out again and again and again.

Yesterday I made a path through two walls of the Red Sea to go along with the story of the week.  I pushed their climber over near the rocking chair by the couch.  I then put a sheet over them to make a wall.  I showed the boys how the Israelites walked between two walls of water on dry land.  I thought this was pretty good, but after two walk throughs, the boys decided that it was way more fun to play on the climber under the sheet.  I have to say it did look like fun when they slid down the slide and popped out from under the sheet halfway down.  So this illustration wasn’t the best and today while we were at the table we tried another illustration.  I put out a small bowl of water.  I said small because the bigger the bowl, the bigger the spill because you know it’s going to happen.  I took a straw and blew into it to part the water slightly.  I reminded them about God blowing wind to part the Red Sea.  So I held onto the water bowl while the boys blew through the straw to part the water.  After we did that a few times, we just blew bubbles in the bowls.  Amazingly, no water was spilled.

In between all the structured tot school time was running, yelling, laughing, crying, pushing, hitting and all out chaos.   So much chaos that mom was about to loose it by the time dad came home each night.   But in all this wild rumpus, my boys have had fun, learned a little too and we have gotten through a tough week of being sick.  All thanks to the mercies raining down from God.

     

Tot School 23.5mo twins – Red Sea, Flat James & Lizards

We have a new bible story that we are working through this week.  We read the story of the Israelites fleeing from Egypt and how God parted the Red Sea so the Israelites could walk across to safety into the desert.  I’m thinking of several different ways to act out the story during the week.  We began with the easiest one to set up.  We have a blue tube that the boys love to crawl through.  I printed out several fish, cut them out and taped them onto the tube.  Then the boys & I crawled through the tube and looked at all the fish swimming in the sea.  I know that the Israelites walked across while we crawled across and God blew up two walls with a dry path in between while our tube surrounded us, but the boys got the jist of the story.  After a few times through, we went fishing and pulled off the fish.  Lance took it one step farther by eating the fish too, tape and all.  Mom wasn’t too happy about that.

 

The boys still need to work on body parts.  If you ask them to point out a body part on themselves they get it no problem.  Most of the time if you point to a part on them or yourself they can name it.  But when we drew the outline of a body and hung it up on the wall, they were a little bit unsure where to point when I asked them to touch a specific body part.  We tried this last week & we did it again.  I had the boys lay on the floor and  I traced their bodies onto butcher paper with a Sharpie.  I taped one of the outlines up on a door in our living room and I called him Flat James, which the boys think is really funny.  I ask them to point out the body part on themselves then I help them point it out on Flat James so I can label it.  Don’t laugh too hard at my free hand areas of the hands and feet.  Don’t your hands and feet look just like that?

 

It’s nice and cool outside because fall has arrived.  That means that outdoor play is pleasant and lasts much longer.  Our backyard never fails to amaze the twins.  We are fortunate to have several geckos around and one big chameleon.  We found the chameleon the other day and surprise, we found him again.  He was on the basketball hoop rim again.  He was a nice green color and posed looking just as dignified as the Geiko gecko.  We chased him around the yard for a while.  Lance and James both love to try to touch them.  The other day James picked one up and it just about scared the death out of him when it jumped.  It made me laugh so hard that I couldn’t get myself composed enough to comfort the poor boy and daddy had to go over to settle him down. We talked today about how it turned dark brown when it was in the dirt, light brown when it climbed on the tree trunk and shades of green while in the grass.  I love biology and I sure hope that their curiosity of life continues to grow because I do enjoy watching them have fun while learning about God’s creation.

God has provided me several mercies to enjoy today but my heart holds closely to the boys’ love of nature and life.  Thank you Lord for this sweet mercy to share with my boys.

Tot School 23mo twins –

This morning’s tot school was rocking even though I’m feeling the effects of allergies.  The boys had an abundance of energy again.  I decided that now would be a good time to let them learn about chores.  I pulled out the vacuum cleaner and vacuumed most of the living room and then I asked both of the boys to try their hand at it.   They did great together.  The key is together, without their brother, each one wasn’t strong enough to push the vacuum by himself.  So I gave a little teamwork talk as they worked happily around the room.  Note, keep an eye on your little one so they don’t run over the cord.

 

This week we’ve been reading the story of Joshua and Jericho.   They’ve quit saying Ah Oh Jericho and they’ve learned to say Joshua & Jericho.  So we did a little impromptu acting of the story.  I found a left over roll of butcher paper, spiraled it out and taped it to make our trumpet.  Then I got the boys to march around the kitchen island just like the Israelites.  I made up a silly song about marching around Jericho to keep the beat.  We, well I, did a lively jig when we got back to our starting point each round.  The boys just laughed at me but I know it kept them interested.  When we got back to the start after the seventh time, I stopped, pulled out my trumpet and blew it as loud as I could yell.   I gave it to each boy and had him yell.  Then I fell down and declared the walls were tumbling down.  Lance thought I was so funny and decided he would fall down too.  James is not my follower so he just smiled and walked away.  It was a fun way to get the boys to understand the story better and I think they enjoyed it.

 

We used a different method today to work on counting.  We have those obnoxious hand clappers and the boys were going to town clapping them.  I decided that if I had to listen to that racket then I would at-least get some usefulness out of it.  I took them and wrote 1-5 on the fingers.  We all counted them out loud, then we pointed to each finger as we counted and then I let the boys go.  The noise was still just as annoying but it makes it better when you hear the counting with the claps.

 

While I may be feeling groggy from my allergy meds today, God has rained down the mercies by giving me strength to have fun marching, blowing, playing and teaching my twins.  May God be your strength when you’re not at your best as a mom.

Tot School Twins 23mo – Balls, Balloons & Clapping

This was a morning were I was tired and the boys had more energy than I have ever seen.  Like bouncing off the walls energy.  I knew I needed a good game plan to make it through this morning without losing it.  By God’s mercy & grace, I held it together and we all had fun.  So here’s today’s tot school.

Two days ago we started a craft project of making cotton ball rocks.  Go to http://www.playcreateexplore.com/search?q=Baked+cotton+balls for the how to make this project yourself.  While dad was home, we took off all the kid’s clothes, to make cleanup easier and put them in high chairs up at the table.  I mixed the concoction of yellow up and poured it into two bowls, one for each kid and put out enough cotton balls to make the alphabet.  I have to say that my husband and I did most of the dipping.  Then we popped them into the oven to bake while the kid’s took a bath.  I let the cotton balls cool, wrote the alphabet letters on each ball and I put them into a ziplock bag for today’s tot school.  This morning, I put the boys in their high chairs again, but this time I gave each one of them a toy hammer to smash to balls as we said each letter.  We were almost set, I got the balls out and sadly, they had turned mushy.  So we hit each letter with the hammer anyways, but without the great pop and crunching sounds.  Never fear I said because while they ate lunch today, I made another batch and we will pound on them this afternoon and hopefully get that nice pop.  We will also get another chance to practice our alphabet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then worked on our color recognition.  The primary color this week is still white and we added the color yellow today since the cotton ball rocks were yellow.  We have this silly hat that has white, yellow and green big stripes.  We took turns putting on the hat and naming the three colors.  I don’t know what it is about this hat, but the boys sure do think it’s funny.

 

Then I turned on some music and we just had ourselves a little dance party.  To make it more useful, although wasting energy is very useful, we tried clapping to the beat.  James quickly found out that it was easier to clap when sitting down but Lance decided it was much more fun to clap and twirl around at the same time and so he fell down a lot and loved it.

 

Our final activity in tot school today was learning about balloons and boy did this get them worn out.  Be forwarned, with multiple kids, this gets a little crazy.  I showed each kid a balloon , let them touch it and feel what rubber feels like.  Then I helped them stretch out the rubber and I told them that it could stretch because of elasticity.  Then they watched as mommy blew up the balloons.  Mommy got to watch their eyes grow big as the balloons inflated.  Then I hit the balloons out over their heads.  They hit, bounced, kicked,  threw and chaced them all around the room.  We talked about how different balloons were from balls and that air made them briefly float.  They laughed and had the best time playing for about 30min with them.  When they started to show signs of being tired, I looked up and it was time for a nap.

 

I am so thankful for just a few simple things to keep my kiddos busy and learning at the same time.  Everyday play is so important for kid’s to learn about the world they live in.  Do you have any great activities that you do with your toddlers?  I would love to hear about them.

The Revealing of My Heart

I have just spent two wonderful days at the FaithLife Women’s Conference.  Wow, it’s been a long time since a speaker, let alone several speakers, directly spoke to my heart and caused immediate change.  Sadly I have acquired some knowledge of God’s Word, but the applications sometimes stay on the surface of my life.  Today I went to a workshop on biblical counseling thinking that I might be called upon to do a little counseling in my ministry, but it was I who needed the counseling today and I didn’t even realized it until right in the middle of the class.  So let me take you on this very honest journey of 45min during my day.

Gwen Smith was on stage singing a new blues sounding song about God being The God through all generations.  She had the whole auditorium stepping to the right then stepping to the left and I was just clapping and singing my heart out.  It was the kind of worship were women were feeling free to raise their hands and not just the timid half raise that you sometimes see.  These women were lovin on their savior.  Who doesn’t feel their spirit lifted up and feel full of life during those moments and those moments carry us throughout the following days?  The worship time had ended and I was looking over my next options for a workshop.  I glanced over the counselling class because frankly I’m not good at quickly pulling the best scripture out of my head at a moment’s notice to help someone who is looking for relief from their struggles.   If God puts someone in my path that needs an ear, I’m there listening.  I don’t shrug off people’s problems, I go find someone else that I feel could serve them better than me.  So the counseling topic wasn’t jumping out at me, but neither were the other topics.  I got up to start walking down the hallway and I found myself standing before this counseling class and I thought well, I might learn a few pointers to be of some help to someone.  Some help from me is better than no help, right?  I had just sat down when the speaker started so I didn’t even have a chance to decide to go to another class.  The speaker got right down to business quickly.  She said every person that comes in to talk with her has behavior issues, but it’s the heart that really has the issue and that issue is a specific sin.  She unfolds a method of counseling that she uses to get to the sinful heart issues.  I was thinking that this would be a good pattern to learn so I started to pay attention really well.  She took this water bottle that looked normal and shook it.  It turned dirty and she reminded us that the dirt was always at the bottom and the agitation just revealed what was always there in the bottle but not plainly seen.  Then she dived into the following scripture from Matthew: 

12:33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad  and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is known by its fruit. 12:34 Offspring of vipers! How are you able to say anything good, since you are evil? For the mouth speaks from what fills the heart. 12:35 The good person  brings good things out of his  good treasury,  and the evil person brings evil things out of his evil treasury. 12:36 I  tell you that on the day of judgment, people will give an account for every worthless word they speak. 12:37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

She gave an example of a man who verbally abused his wife and he said that his wife was the one who caused him to be angry.  She reminded us of the top three things that most of us “worship” and this man worshiped control.  It’s not that control or planning is necessarily bad, it’s what you do when that control is lost that is important.  When control is stripped out of your hands, what comes out of your mouth is what is lying there in your heart.  So his wife was not the main problem, the problem was his pride over having control.  His wife was the agitator that showed his dirt.

My heart was crushed.  It took everything within me not to burst out crying.  I’m just like that man.  Other people look at me and may see the good things that I do for God or they may see me struggle some when things get really hard.  But I just had my heart revealed today and it contains evil.  Not what I thought I would learn from this class.  You see, I like control too.  I generally temper it with the understanding that ultimately God is in control and I don’t freak out when God does things different in most areas of my life.  However, I do seem to freak out when I lose control over my children.  I don’t exercise that wonderful, long suffering ability to be abundantly gracious with my children.  I yell at them to just stop and obey when I’ve had it.  I have said to myself and to my husband that my kids make me mad and are disobedient.  Now, discipline is needed, but I have the chance to discipline in love rather than anger.  I could be the example of Christ to my children.  My boys could be see how a goodly mom and wife responds.  Rather I have shown to them the unforgiving side of sinful, prideful control.   They have not caused me to be mad, they have been used by God to be the agitator of my life right now that is revealing an ugly sin.

I held it together until later, when broke down, alone in my car on the drive home, and cried to God for forgiveness.  Isn’t that what our Heavenly Father wants?  Isn’t that what I want from my boys?  Repentance?  How amazing to know that because of Christ’s blood, I’m already forgiven of this sinful heart.  Now that I’ve given this over to God, I can partner with him to heal this evil in my heart.  I can’t wait to see the difference in how I react to my children, what words come forth from my heart and mouth and to know I’m teaching my boys the righteous ways of a godly woman. 

I know someone out there will read this and rush in to say, please give yourself grace and you are being to harsh on yourself.  My reply is that sin is sin and sin is evil.  There’s no way around it biblically.  I don’t leave it just there, the grace comes through the repentance and being restored. 

So my mercy today was a class that I wasn’t expecting that much out of.  Thankfully I heard the holy spirit and I faced what my children have revealed of my heart.  Is there something that your children do that “makes” you mad?  Is there a different agitator in your life that is revealing your heart?  Take a look, like me, you might be surprise to see what’s there.