Holy Week Activities for a Toddler

Below is an overview of my plan for observing Holy Week with my almost-two-year-old daughter. I’ll expand on each activity and reflect on it daily after we’ve completed it.

Palm Sunday
— church and decorate construction paper palm
Monday — picnic and Easter crafts with neighborhood friends
Tuesday — decorate construction paper crosses to send to relatives
Wednesday — bake pretzels, symbolizing arms folded in prayer and the Trinity
Maundy Thursday — have a snack of matzo and charoset
Good Friday — color picture of Lamb
Holy Saturday — Easter story told with Ressurection Eggs
Easter Sunday — Alleluia! He is Risen! — Easter basket of goodies; BIG family egg hunt and lunch
Easter Season — Since Caroline has an abundance of hand-me-downs, she has a fancy Easter-like dress to wear every Sunday of the Easter Season. We’ll also have our house decorated with spring flowers and some Easter decorations during the 50 days of Easter.

WFMW: Meaningful Gifts

Between my husband and me, we have quite a gaggle of Godchildren. We’ve made it our Easter tradition to honor our Godchildren each Easter with a donation to the Heifer Project. The kids are already getting a basketful of toys and candy, so this is something different. We hope that this shows them the importance of giving and inspires them to help those who need help.

For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

God’s Timing

My father-in-law passed away suddenly and unexpectedly last Sunday, March 18. While we are heartbroken and sad, I want to note the amazing blessings that somehow surrounded us in his last few days, blessings that will comfort us in the years to come.

John and I only get to Wichita Falls to visit his family a few times a year. Since Tony was the Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus at his church and also created their monthly newsletter, he always included pictures of each of the granddaughters in it. Parishners always joked with us about seeing our daughter every month in that newsletter. In the newsletter, I read about the weekly Lenten Fish Frys and felt a strong desire to go. John’s busy weekends left us two options — March 16-18 or March 23-25. My bookclub was scheduled to meet on March 17, but since that was Spring Break, I polled my bookclub members about changing the date, and the majority voted to move the meeting the March 24. So we planned our trip to Wichita Falls for the weekend of March 16-18. John took the day off Friday so we could be in town for the Fish Fry. We made it into Wichita Falls just as the fish was frying, so we went straight the the church. Tony wanted the girls to call him “Grandpa” but it became quickly evident that the two toddlers, Caroline and her 16-month-old cousin Kate, would be calling him “Pa Pa.” He had a wonderful time snapping pictures of the girls, bringing them food, holding them and following them around the parish hall. Someone even managed to snap a picture of Tony taking pictures of the two girls. (Steph, can I get a copy of that?)

Saturday afternoon, we video taped Tony reading a story to Caroline. I’ve been trying to tape different family members reading stories to Caroline, but I didn’t get to tape everyone in Wichita Falls as I had planned. I did get that tape of “Pa Pa,” though.

We were staying with my sister-in-law and had not planned to attend the church bbq and dance on Saturday night. I could tell that Tony had assumed otherwise, so we decided to go to the dance. Caroline and Kate had bbq with us in the parish hall, and Tony shared a bowl of ice cream with Caroline. Then we took the girls to the nursery and headed to the dance. We had a nice time. Tony and Mary danced. We talked and laughed. After heading home, we stayed up late visiting with Stephanie, so John, Caroline, and I slept in a bit Sunday morning. Tony had been there waiting for us for over an hour. We visited that morning; he played with the girls. Tony had also completed some sketches of Caroline (and Kate, too). Stephanie noticed that morning that he had not signed all of the pictures, so we made him sign them just before we left around noon. We were about an hour and a half from home, around 4:00, when we got the call. We turned around and went straight back to Wichita Falls.

I am thankful that plans worked out so that we were there for a wonderful weekend, that we got the video tape, that we had the pictures signed, that we went to the dance and dinner. I’m thankful for the time we had. God is good.

WFMW: Occupying a toddler (without TV)

To occupy my toddler (without plopping her in front of the television) while I take care of kitchen chores or prepare dinner, I like to use activities that will stimulate and entertain. I’ve found great ideas in Barbara Curtis‘s Small Beginnings and La Britta Gilbert’s I Can Do It! I Can Do It!

Some of these activities do require some minimal set-up on my part and some clean-up effort (for both of us) but I find the effort to be well worth it! The idea is to expose Caroline to different textures and develop her fine motor skills with these activities. Some things we’ve tried and found worth repeating: spooning beans, spooning colored water, finger painting, playing with playdough, scooping cotton balls (or rice or sand, etc), and the always easy, always available hit, playing in a sink of soapy water.

These activities keep Caroline busy while I unload the dishwasher, get dinner ready, organize cabinets, etc. To make these activities and other kitchen-helping/observing easier, I highly recommend the Learning Tower, a wooden platform that puts the child at counter level. It *is* quite pricey, but I talked to several families who have one before buying this and they all gushed about how worth it it is. I totally agree. This will hold up for multiple kids (resale!!), and I have friends who say their kids use it until four or five years old. (My 5-year-old niece certainly enjoys it when she is here.)

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, visit Rocks in my Dryer.

My New Collection

I’m not a saver. I hate clutter. Therefore, I have never really collected anything. And since I hate clutter, I’ve avoided putting anything on top of or over my kitchen cabinets. I always admire what other people do to decorate that space, but I just didn’t know what to put there and didn’t want to collect junk.

Now that I have found that I enjoy thrift shopping (so far, just for toys) I thought it would be fun to have a mission (in addition to toys) for my thrift stops. My kitchen is accessorised with black iron. I bought a set of iron trivets from a Southern Living at Home party recently and was inspired to have iron trivets become my over-the-cabinet display collection. I’ve won three auctions on ebay to add to the set of three I started with, and those are hanging now. I have a few more spaces to add more as I find treasures at thrift shops and garage sales and such.

So here is my first (and probably will be my only) collection as an adult.

Blogging: helping or hindering IRL friendships

I keep two blogs — one of my thoughts and another of my daughter’s day-to-day experiences. I have several friends who blog, and I keep track of their blogs on a daily basis. Blogs are a great way to keep up with my friends. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

I had dinner with a friend last week. Even though we hadn’t gotten together in months, we knew most of what was going on in each others’ lives because we read the blogs. We don’t see each other daily as we used to; we don’t chat on the phone regularly anymore; we don’t email much. We read the blogs. Still, we were able to have a great time visiting at dinner. Today, another friend called on the phone. Again, we haven’t talked, emailed, or seen each other recently, but we know what is going on in each others’ lives. Another friend has moved across the country, but I feel like our kids are growing up together because we read each others’ blogs, and I get lots of ideas from her since her kids are a year older than mine.

I am probably more aware of my friends’ lives through these blogs, especially since I don’t see my pre-mom friends on a daily basis anymore. Is it OK that we don’t need to chat as often to “catch up”?

There are also a few people that I *think* I “know” because I read their blogs that are linked to on friends’ sites. I feel somewhat like a stalker that I know so much about people I’ve met briefly, if ever at all. And then, of course, there are the women in the blog-o-shere that I do not know and will never meet that I read about and find inspiration from.

How will blogging affect the future of friendships? Oh Brave New World that has such technology in it!

WFMW: Kitchen Edition

For years, my shopping list has been scribbled on a post-it note that meandered its way around my kitchen. I often forgot it when I went shopping anyway. With a child, grocery shopping time is precious, though, so I needed a new system. And I found that I bought certain items at certain stores — SWheat Scoop kitty litter is at Target; Jarlsberg cheese is at Costco; Veggie Booty and organic apple cereal bars are at Whole Foods; most other groceries are at HEB. Of course, there are *always* other items I NEED at Target and Costco. 🙂 I wanted a way to keep track of all of my lists and keep things organized. I bought a small chalk board at Michael’s, got a pack of post-it notes, adhesive magnet strips, and self adhesive squares. Dividing the chalk board into fourths, I created a section for each store, stuck a pack of sticky notes to it, put the magnets on the back, and hung it on my refrigerator. Now I can easily keep track of what I need from each store, and I just grab that list when I’m headed to that store.

For more kitchen ideas, visit Rocks in My Dryer‘s Works for Me Wednesday.

Abandoning books

When I taught 8th grade English, I encouraged my grade-level students to abandon their “choice novels” if they weren’t enjoying them. (My honors and Pre-AP kids could NOT abandon the assigned literature we were analyzing.) I wanted my students to enjoy reading, not trudge through a book they hated. I have decided to take my own advice and abandon Reading Lolita in Tehran. I may enjoy it at another time, but I just can’t get in to it, and I have many, many other books on my bedside table.

Barack in Austin

I had tickets (it was a free event, but preregistration was requested) but decided not to fight the crowds. I’m so proud to live in this little blue dot in the center of a red state. 🙂