Tot School 30mo Twins – S is for Swamp & Sea

The letter S has been really good.  The activities have grabbed the boys’ attention and they have been saying the sound of the letter S this week.  Early this morning we spent a good chunk of time just relaxing in our pjs and reading books about the sea and the swamp.  Picture a comfy two person chair and ottoman with big fluffy  pillows.  Now imagine me sitting indian style in the middle of this chair with a boy on each knee.  Lance has his rabbit and his mattress pad cuddled with him and James is snuggled up against my shoulder.  This was the best hour of reading that I’ve had in a long time and I usually don’t get but 10min of reading in before they are off again.  In fact, after I stopped reading, James took the books,  looked at the pictures and stacked the booked neatly on the table.   He is so into alligators and crocodiles that he leapt in joy and screamed every time we saw a picture of one.  I know, he’s weird.  He was even fascinated by the albino alligator at the aquarium.  He loved when it snapped its jaws.  I can picture him being the next crocodile hunter or something equally as risky.  Anyways, I’ve digressed.  Here are the top four books that we liked this morning.  I substituted sea anytime ocean was used.

thOcean!Over in the Ocean 











Later this morning I made a big sensory play area.  I put down a shower curtain, put water in one bin then added two drops of blue food coloring to look like the sea, used another bin and put green jello in it to look like a swamp.    I threw in some plastic animals that would live in each habitat and let the boys loose.


They felt of everything at first and then they got to playing.  They were taking the animals and moving them back and forth between the two bins.  Lance would move the snake and say “He goes in the sea” then James would pull him out and say “He goes in the swamp.”  At some point all the animals went for a swim together in the sea.  DSC_0209DSC_0208






The boys made plopping, slurping and squishing noises to go along with the swamp theme.  They got a kick out of that.

As expected, since the swamp was made from food, if you call jello food, some eating happened along the way.



After 30min or so, the boys were up on their feet slinging the animals around and splashing water.  All of this was ok until Lance grabbed the swamp bin and threw it across the kitchen.  It happened so fast that I didn’t even have time to tell him to put the bin back down on the ground.  Here’s my orange rhino toot!  I didn’t yell.  I stood there for a few minutes looking at what seemed to be a pound of green jello on my floor, then I calmly told the boys to go to their room so I could clean up.  It made me laugh to hear them in their room saying spankings were coming, they knew it was wrong.  So after I picked it all up I let the boys come back out.  I grabbed my mop and got the sticky stuff up before it dried.  That left the floor wet and wouldn’t you know, another s word, it was slippery.  So we all laughed as we slipped and slided out of the kitchen and off to our nap.


Tot School 30mo Twins – S is for Sidewalk Graffiti & Other Things Too

Boy oh boy, did we ever work on the letter S today with a whole host of play activities.  Early this morning Lance found the stringed bead necklace that we made back in December.  Sadly we only have one necklace so I bet you can guess what happens when that one necklace does come out.  Today I became a smart mommy.  I went to my husband’s garage and got some cotton twine, some beads from our craft box and I sat down with the boys to string a new necklace.  We worked on saying string and stringing and James started picking up the beads to give to Lance so we threw in the word sharing too.  Now each boy has a necklace to wear and the balance of peace is temporarily restored.







Then we had some friends come over for a playdate.  Since there were going to multiple kids, we went outside on the back patio to do some sidewalk graffiti.  For this, I took three bowls, divided one box of cornstarch among them, added ten drops of food coloring to each and enough water to make a milk like consistency.  I gave each kid a tennis ball and let them roll it in the paint.  They bounced, rolled, skipped and threw down the balls to make all sorts of paint patterns.  It quickly moved to hand print making then driving a truck threw the paint.  It was such a beautiful day to do messy, creative, large-scale painting.  The great thing about this is that with a quick spray from the water hose, the art was washed away.









After our friends left we stayed outside for a while and played.  James discovered some snail shells.  Lance came over to watch as James laid them on the edge of the dog house and they both patiently waited for the snails to come out.  Sadly they never came.  Hearing two-year olds try to say snail shells is very funny.


We came inside for lunch and while they were still sitting at the table, I read them a silly, spider book.Fly book  I got the boys to make the corresponding animal sound for each page.  They think this book is hilarious and just great.  Whenever I read it, they always say again when I get to the end.  After three, long readings of this book we looked carefully at the spider web drawing in the book.  Yesterday I took Elmer’s glue and made two spider webs on plain paper.  I taped these pages down and we felt on top of the paper for the web and talked about the design.








Next I tore the paper off two crayons, just happened to grab two orange crayons, it wasn’t planned.  I taped down another white paper over the web page.  I showed the boys how to rub and roll the crayon over the page to make the spider web pattern appear.  They really liked doing this.  I had tried doing rubbings in the past and the boys didn’t get it.  This just goes to show that occasionally you should try some of the things again  that previously had failed when your kids are a month or two older.















We did so many fun things today that I can’t pick just one thing for my mercy today.  So I’ll praise God that for two days in a row I have kept my yelling in check.  It may not seem praiseworthy to some of you, but for us moms that have a tendency to yell, two days without yelling is glorious and step in the right direction.  Go Orange Rhino!  Toot, toot!!

Mom School – There’s Just Something About That Name

Phil 2:9-11

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NIV)

The human soul was created by God to recognize its creator and to rely on His strength.  Last night I couldn’t sleep and my mind kept thinking about this scripture.  This morning I opened up the book “Unglued” and started reading where I had left off.  I’m reading this book in conjunction to the Orange Rhino Challenge to not yell.  Wouldn’t you know the chapter dealt with the power of Jesus’ name.  One paragraph stood out to me and it just captured my heart:

When I am in an unglued place, I can invite a power beyond my own into the situation by simply speaking His name.  I don’t have to know what to do.  I don’t have to have all the answers.  I don’t have to remember everything I learned in Bible study last week.  I just have to remember one thing, one name – Jesus.

I thought, well isn’t that the easiest thing (sarcasm), but as I thought about it more I realized that while I’m in a tirade I can’t think about all the great things people suggest for me to do or say.  I’m so angry my thoughts can’t seem to go anywhere else.  This doesn’t take any thought.  Just one word.  That’s all.  No thinking.  So what would it hurt to try just saying His name when I get angry?

With my twins, when one gets whiney. the other, who hasn’t a care in the world at the time, has to whine too.  What is up with that?  So when the whining started and kept going and going, I could feel me getting irritated and my blood pressure rising.  I said out loud “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”  At one point today I started singing the song “Jesus, There’s Just Something About That Name” and my boys came running over to quietly listen. It was a miracle and I’m not just being being silly, it worked.  I could feel my blood pressure going down and a slight peace coming.  Now it didn’t make my kids stop whining and I still had to deal with the kids’ behaviors, but it got me to a place where I could think.  That my friend is called the beginning of self-control. 

Why does this work, because it’s not just a quirky little gimmick?  I believe in the power of God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  I have a relationship with God and we talk.  Have you ever had a friend so close that when times get hard you call them and just talking with them makes you feel better?  That’s what this is.  God knows me so well that all I have to do is call on Him and I feel Him there.  He doesn’t take the hard work out of the situation but He gives me the calm that I need to handle it.  I wish that I had thought about this simple thing long before now.  I’ve tried to remember to pray, quote scripture, take deep breaths and the list goes on but in the heat of the moment all that I’ve learned to do can’t be recalled on short notice.  His name is so familiar that I don’t have to think about it.  It’s easy.  It works.  It’s what I’ve needed for such a long time.  I’ll still be struggling to not yell but now I’ve taken a giant step to being able to have self-control over my anger.

Quotes To Start 30 Day Challenge

These are two great quotes to start off my 30 day challenge.  Hope they inspire you too.  May this beginning be my finest hour as a mom.



“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy (or gal) who’ll decide where to go.”

~ Dr. Seuss


Quote from the movie Apollo 13:
NASA Director: “This could be the worst disaster NASA’s ever faced.”

Gene Kranz: “With all due respect, sir, I believe this is gonna be our finest hour.”


Mom School – Orange Polish

I started on my 365 day no yelling challenge the day after Valentines.  So far I’ve managed to not yell on only 5 out of the 10 days.  Sigh!!!  The good news is that I’ve met my goal 50% of the days and on the days that I did yell, it was only one short yelling episode.  That in itself should make me feel better, but I don’t like to fail so I don’t feel better, yet.  Tomorrow I’m joining up with the official Orange Rhino 30 day challenge.  I’m so excited.  This is a mom who has been and still is working on being yell free.  She will be emailing daily tips on how to manage anger and yelling.  I can’t wait to see all the tips, read other’s stories so I’m reminded that I’m not alone in this and to better understand myself. 

In preparation for this coming month I’ve done two things so far.  I’ve been thinking about what triggers my anger and yelling.  You can’t fix what you don’t understand or know.  I know I’ll discover other triggers, but for now I know that not getting enough sleep is the number one trigger.  Before my children came along I could sleep in and catch up on my sleep.  Now that  isn’t an option.  I need a lot of sleep.  More than the average person.  I need to be asleep by 9:30PM.  No fudging reading just one more chapter of a good book or another few questions in my bible study.  There needs to be no excuses on this one.  I can’t look at my kids and say mommy  was irresponsible and stayed up too late so please ignore my bad mood and yelling.  I’m an adult so I need to practice more self-control at night.  Another trigger is whining.  Oh my, does constant whining get to me.  I don’t know how to manage this one yet, but I’m searching for solutions.  My other big trigger is disrespect.  Basically I’m a very prideful person.  I didn’t realize just how much until my boys turned 8mo old and discipline started when they started exerting their own wills.  Nothing gets me riled up like one of my children blatantly disregarding my commands and smiling or telling me the no command while they disobey.  It raises my blood pressure just thinking about it to write this down.  This will be a two-phase problem; one, working on my reaction and pride and two, working on the boys’ obedience.

While looking on the Orange Rhino site, I came across a great little gimmick to remind me to control my emotions.  I’ve painted my finger nails orange.  Orange is not my favorite color.  It clashes with most of my wardrobe.  But my orange nails go everywhere with me, I use my hands all the time and it will be a great reminder to hold my tongue, take a few deep breaths and to control my anger.  It’s a goofy little thing, but what a constant reminder.  So when you see me friends, don’t laugh too hard at my ugly polish because this strange color represents my love for my children, by reminding me not to yell.


Motherhood Challenge

I am an orange rhino.  I am taking the Orange Rhino Challenge.  Not the 30 day but the 365 day challenge.

Yesterday’s focus on Valentine’s love really got me thinking about what could I do to say I love you to my kids?  Not yelling at them was my answer.

I’m here to admit that I’m a yeller, no screamer, at my kiddos.  It’s not what I want to do.  It’s not what I ever expected to do as a mom.  But there it is.  Judge me, identify with me or pray with me.  Whatever you decide, I’ve decided that anger towards my children will not rule this household.  I happened upon a great website about three weeks ago, it’s the site.  This is a mom who challenged herself to no yelling at her kids for 365 days.  She posts daily about her tactics and what she’s learning.  Sometimes she does a group 30 day challenge and I’ve been waiting to join one if she does another one.  Yesterday, after waiting every day for 3 weeks to see if she announces a new challenge group, I decided to just do it.  I’m not going to change my whole way of dealing with the kids in just 30 days.  It would be a start but not enough.  I’m not expecting to be perfect.  I’ve got to remember that when I do mess up, to keep going because any amount of less yelling is better than none.  Orange Rhino has posted alternatives to yelling.  I have printed that list and it’s now on my fridge so I can run to it when the urge to yell is overwhelming.  During this next year, friends might laugh when I’m out and they see me beat my chest like a gorilla or another goofy anger diffuser.  So if you live in the Dallas area, watch out, a crazy acting momma is about to be let loose.  Why is this called orange rhino?  Orange is a warm color.  A rhinosaurus is a usually calm and tranquil animal but is highly agitated when something bothers her young.  That describes me.  I didn’t yell before I had kids.  I’m basically a calm person but my children bring out the triggers that get me going.  I am realizing slowly that my children are not out to get me.  Most of the time when they are acting out they are struggling with how to get control of their emotions.  Sounds just like me in this yelling area!  I have a wonderful relationship with God.  He is very patient with me.  When I act out and are struggling with controlling my anger, envy, excitement and whatnot, He doesn’t yell, He doesn’t punish.  He uses the Holy Spirit to guide me back and He says “You’re forgiven,” time after time after time.  More times than I should need.  So this journey of showing my kids the love of God’s forgiveness starts today.  I hope to look at my life in one year and see how I’ve grown, see my kiddos reactions and see how my marriage improves all by changing one thing about me.  A very hard thing to change, but still it’s only one thing to work on.

So my new  identity, like many other women who have embarked on this road of change, is to be an orange rhino.  Let the year of change and hard work begin.  I’m looking forward to a great celebration next year!

The Orange Rhino