Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Matthew Starts Preschool

And so it begins... open houses, new teachers, classmates, volunteering, programs, papers to return, and getting out of the house (sort of) on time. Matthew is attending preschool 2 days a week at Sprouts Learning Center. He has been so excited about going to school ever since we went there a few months ago and he saw the playground. Priorities, right? Then the excitement grew when we visited his classroom for the first time during a playdate. He discovered cars, trains, and most importantly, 3 dump trucks to play with. I think he may have said three words to his teacher, he was so engrossed in playing with the trucks. After the playdate when I asked him what he liked best about school, he said "I played with the dump truck, and it went around in a circle and then made a dump." And he repeated this phrase each time some asked him about school. In fact, a week into school and he still talks about the dump trucks. At least the boy knows what he likes!

Last year I struggled a lot with the decision to send him to school or not. Most people I knew with kids his age were going, I had a newborn at home and could have used the break from two kids, but I just wasn't ready to give him up. Now a year later he is much more independent, (not to mention a bit stubborn, bossy, and particular about things) and we are both ready. I know that if I had taken him last year he would have cried, I would have cried, it would have been rough. This year, he was completely excited and not at all concerned about me leaving him. And me? I cried the morning he went to school, but not because I was sad about him going. I cried because I had just experienced a VERY rough few days with him, and I was at the end of my rope after a morning filled with crying about the collar on his shirt touching him, having milk instead of juice in his cup, not wanting to wear shoes that weren't his crocs, wanting to pull not wear his backpack, you name it he was upset about it. So when 9:00 came we were both ready. In fact, this picture was taken in the parking lot at school because there wasn't a time all morning where he wasn't upset about something! I'm so glad I waited another year.

In light of the fact that this starts a new chapter in our lives, I wanted to take a minute and paint a picture of our little guy. While it's true, he does have his moments (and a lot of them came last week), most of the time he's sweet, funny, and full of entertainment.

He's really into imaginative play right now. Most of this play involves cars, trucks, or trains, and he likes to make them crash, play on a playground, or chase each other. There are also quite a few conversations about his cars going to chick-fil-a. It's really funny when I hear him reenacting a conversation that we had earlier that day, or using phrases that I know I repeat to him quite often. Pretty much anything also becomes either a mommy, a daddy, or a sister. Another favorite is to pretend that something is food and bring it to me to eat. Caroline gets involved in this one too, and I end up with a pile of random objects next to me that I "ate".

Matthew is really starting to figure out how things work. When we drive somewhere he likes to ask where it is, and where our house is, and if it's a place we go to a lot he tells me where to turn. He asks lots of questions. He's always curious to know more and why. He also wants to know what words say in the books we read, so I've had to start pointing to each word as I read it. If he missed part of a conversation (that of course didn't involve him) he's quick to ask what we said and will keep asking until we tell him something!

I love his negotiating skills. Pretty much everything is negotiable, according to him. Not so much according to his parents, which does not make him happy. However, he doesn't quite understand quanity and number relations, so when I tell him that he needs to take 2 more bites of something he says, how about 4. Sounds great to me!

He loves his sister (most of the time). He likes to keep tabs on her, and when she gets upset or cries he'll say "Mommy, Caroline wants ____. That will make her feel better." He likes to sing songs to her when she's sad, and recently discovered how much positive attention he gets from giving her hugs! They spend a lot of time chasing each other around the house and climbing on and off furniture together. Matthew still isn't great about sharing with her, but we're working on it. Hey, maybe preschool will help!

He is still cautious, a little OCD, and definitely on the shy side in large groups. But that is nicely balanced with his affinity for running through the house at breakneck speed, talking my ear off, and leaving the playroom in a constant state of disarray.

I am amazed at how in-depth his conversations are, how strong and athletic he's become, the compassion he's starting to show, his ability to memorize books and random information, and the fact that he's developing his own opinions. I love how his smile lights up a room, how his hair is always sticking up somewhere, how he wants to snuggle with me at bedtime every night, and how much joy he has brought to our family.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ordinary Mercy

Something that God has really put on my heart lately is the fact that there are children all over the world without parents. I look into the faces of my sweet babies, and can't imagine that there are so many adorable faces who don't have anyone to look back at them. I'm not ok with this, and I need to do something to help. Hosea 14:3 says "In you the orphan finds mercy." How can I, an ordinary stay-at-home mom in Florida, make a difference? How can I show mercy?

A few months ago two things happened. First, I decided to start donating all the money that I made from my crafting business to an orphanage. I have no idea how this thought came about, so it must have been from God. Then, my cousin Shannon was getting married, and asked me if I would make a bar sign for her wedding. So I did, and decided to post it on Etsy* as well. All of a sudden, sales took off! And not only has the bar sign been selling, people have been asking me to create all sorts of other signs as well. In the past few months I have found my bar sign featured on several wedding websites, discovered it pinned and repinned on Pinterest, and was recently contacted by a wedding subscription site about setting up an event and being featured there. I am completely amazed at how much God has blessed this small contribution of mine. It makes no sense to me, and to be honest there have been several times where I wanted to just stop. (There are lots of crazy brides out there!) But then I remember those faces, the faces of the fatherless, and I know that my small sacrifice is more than worth it. In fact, it's not even close to enough. But God has been faithful. He has met me where I am and allowed this ordinary, stay-at-home mom, to make a small difference.

This past month when I was crunching numbers and preparing to make my monthly donation to the New Day Foster Home**, I realized that I had more than doubled any profits from any of the past three months. And when adding all 4 months together, I passed the $1,000 mark. Seriously?! $1,000 in four months for spending some time on the computer? Wow. God is good.

*My Etsy store is cupcakesnjellybeans if you have any interest in checking it out. I also have my own website, Cupcakes and Jellybeans

**The New Day Foster Home is located in Beijing, China and cares for children with medical needs. They raise money for their surgeries, as well as for basic supplies and care. For more information on this ministry, visit

Friday, August 3, 2012

Caroline at 15 months

Caroline just went for her 15 month well visit yesterday, so I thought I would write a little update on our precious baby girl.

It seems that the word most people use to describe you is tough. I guess you have to be, with your brother constantly beating up on you (sometimes accidentally). Even your pediatrician called you brave, and said you definitely weren't a shrinking violet! I must say I like that about you, maybe because I'm not that way. I like that you get knocked down and aren't phased by it, that you're confident enough to walk up to people and "tell" them what you want, and that you climb and conquer any piece of furniture. I love that God has given you these characteristics and I'm excited to see how he uses them as you grow.

You are at that great stage where you like to laugh, and are figuring out how to make other people laugh too. No one can make you laugh more than your brother! You love it when he plays peek-a-boo with you, when you jump on his bed together, and when he chases you around the house. My favorite smile is when you're running away from me and get this twinkle in your eye and a high pitched squeal. I don't love this squeal when it happens in your brother's room during his nap, but other times it's pretty cute.

I'm pretty sure you're going to be a bookworm, because you are obsessed with books! Your favorite thing to do is sit on your little pink chair and turn the pages of books. You carry them out of your room (sometimes a whole stack at once!), bring them to me, then point at your room and lead me back in there to read to you. Although most of the time there's not much reading because as soon as I read the first page or two you start pointing at another book that you want to look at. Then another. And another. Actually, I'm usually just holding a book open while you turn the pages.

You are actually a pretty good communicator already. Your first word was thank you, and you use it every time we hand you something! You also say cajun, dada, ball, boo, bird, woof woof (for dog), this, what's this, there you go, and a few more sounds like yum and shhh. Even though you don't have words for most things you need, I still can figure out what you want pretty easily. I'm not sure if that's because you point enthusiastically, or because you generally want one of two things - milk or a graham cracker. You must have taken a lesson from Cajun on finding hidden food, because somehow you seem to know every time I have graham crackers in my purse, in the car, or when I have a new box in the pantry.

Some other super cute things that I love right now are your facial expressions. You figured out how to raise your eyebrows, and you do it when you're surprised, excited, or sometimes just for fun it seems. You have this great face where you stick out your lower jaw and teeth and look like a grizzly bear with an underbite. I also love it when you give kisses! To do this you suck on your lower lip and lean in for a headbutt. I'm also a fan of how you cover your face and say "boo" to do peek-a-boo. It might have something to do with the fact that you like to do it while I change your diaper, which is a vast improvement over the houdini escape acts you used to do while I changed you.

Other things you love: food, getting messy while you eat, the water, being outside, your daddy, baby dolls, running away, copying your brother, making a monkey sound, wearing my shoes, dogs, and babies.