Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cars!

Last week we had fun with cars (and trucks!). "Truck" is one of Aiden's newest words and he points them out everywhere! If he hears anything loud outside drive by, he stops, listens, and says, "Truck!". Here are some of the books we read this week. I loved Red, Stop! Green, Go! It was another one of my thrift store finds and is a companion book to Go, Dog. Go! It has flaps to lift, wheels to turn, and tabs to pull. A very fun book! What's a week about cars without a trip to the car wash? Aiden was a little enthralled at first...
Then he wasn't so keen on the idea! I let him get out of seat and he calmed down a little, but I don't think we'll make a return trip anytime soon!
I can't get over how much he loves play-doh. He loves to squish it and pull it apart. Then he wants me to flatten it out so he can push his cookie cutters in it.

He has lots of "little kid" cars that he enjoys playing with. For our week of car fun I pulled out the "real" cars and the car play mat. He had a ball! Now he likes them better than his Tonka cars! We practiced "stop" and "go" while he was driving the cars. Well, mostly he watched Mommy stop and go. He's pretty much just a go, go, go kinda kid! lol
And then there was the painting! Oh the painting ...... !!! He made a mess and tried to eat the paint at first, but once he realized he could put color on the plate, he was a very focused artist!


Here is our final product! It hangs on the fridge and we talk about the words and the colors every day.

We also rolled cars in paint and painted the letter C and had lots of races on the Tonka race tracks. I have a playlist of songs on the ipod for each week. A lot stay the same, but I change others each week. Aiden loves listening to music and now asks for me to turn it on. He's just so much fun!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Brown Bear, Brown Bear

Last week we talked about bears and the color brown. One of Aiden's favorite books is Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? so I knew he would love reading it over and over (and over and over!). I found this copy of the book at a local thrift store for $0.75! The really cool thing is that is has sliding "windows" on each page that reveal the next animal. It is a great book for learning animals and colors. I try to read an ABC book each day too. Aiden's current favorites are Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Dr. Suess' ABCs. He'll bring me one of them and say, "A, B, C!". We also tried our hand at coloring. He did a pretty good job!
We made bear sandwiches for lunch one day!
One thing I love about toddlers is how they learn so much through play. You don't have to have a lot of scheduled activities or projects. They love to explore objects, textures, books, etc. He is really into putting objects into containers and taking them out again.
We made brown bears by dipping teddy bear snacks in chocolate pudding. I knew he would end up just playing in the pudding and that's exactly what happened! :) Who knew pudding would keep him entertained for 30 minutes?!?

Needless to say, a shower was our next stop!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A is for Apple

It's back to school time!! I've always loved getting ready to go back to school and buying new school supplies. As a teacher I loved planning out a new school year, decorating my classroom, and welcoming new students. Every year when Walmart puts out the school supplies, I get a little excited. This year was no different. So, I decided that I would plan out a year of fun (and learning) for Aiden! Every week we'll focus on a different letter and color. Aiden LOVES to read, so I've found books to go with each week's theme. This week we read:
Aiden loved fingerpainting outside. The first thing he did was taste it (it was made of flour and water) and then he played in it.

Foam letters for the bathtub were a big hit. Right now we're learning 1-4. Each week I'll put new letters in to play with.

Play-doh fun with circle and "A" cookie cutters.


Practicing self-feeding skills while eating applesauce.


Making apple crisp with yummy homemade apple pie filling from Grammy's apple trees.




We're having lots of fun learning every day!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Count Your Blessings

We have had several unexpected expenses lately! It is taking a little bit out of our savings account, but it has reminded me of how blessed we are to have that little bit of money tucked away "just in case". I want our kids to learn early on how to be good stewards of the money God has given them.
Our journey together began four years ago. When Monty and I got married we agreed that we would do the best we could to stay out of debt. We both had good jobs and so there was no reason why we had to rack up a bunch of bills just so we could have more stuff.
Monty had done a great job saving during the two years he lived here before we got married. I have to give him lots of praise for that. Most grads get their first job and immediately go out and buy a nice, new, shiny car. Not Monty! He still drove his 1989 Mercry Grand Marquis. Was it pretty? Not really. Did it run? Yes. Did it cause Monty to have a car payment? NO! That was the most important thing. So .... he saved money (while living in a small apartment) and was able to purchase a 2005 Impala four months after we got married. Was it pretty? Oh yes! Did we have a car payment? NO!
I had bought a car during college in order to have a reliable vehicle to take me from Florida to Arkansas several times a year. We paid that car off the first week we were married! In 2008 we paid cash for my new (used) car.
From the time we got married we knew we wanted kids and we knew that I would quit my job to take care of them. So, we set out on a course to get our remaining debt taken care of. That included my student loan (thanks Harding!) and the second mortgage on the house. We would still have the remaining mortgage, but we would work on that later. Within a year we knocked out the second mortgage. Then we saved some more in order to pay the student loan. We waited a little while to pay that off for two reasons. 1) The government would pay $5,000 of my loan after I worked in a low-income school for 5 years. That happened in 2008. 2) For a while we were making over 5% in interest in our money market account and the student loan only had an interest rate of 2%. It made more sense to leave the money in the bank. Our money was actually working for us until the recession came.
That being said, we felt that God ws helping us prepare to be a single income household. We lived off Monty's income for well over a year before Aiden was born. We had 3-6 months income saved and we were ready to take the leap of faith.
In spring 2009 we were blessed to take the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University through our church. We learned to so much more about how to prepare for our future. It help affirm the fact that God has blessed us and that we are stewards of HIS money. There were no second thoughts as I quit my job because we knew that God would provide - and He has. In ways we never would have thought. Now, even when we have emergencies (big doctor bills, a new water line for the house, fixing the car) we have the resources to take care of it - STRESS FREE! Plus, we have gotten so many discounts because we've been able to pay CASH!
We have learned to be content with what we have. Sure, we dream about a bigger house and a roomier vehicle. But in that dreaming we are also planning and saving toward that end. We have no desire to have a car payment or a huge mortgage payment. We live on a budget and only spend after we give back to God, invest, buy stock, put in 401K, put in savings, pay extra on our mortgage, and pay what few utility bills we have. We have basic cable and internet, we don't pay for a land line, we don't have data or texting plans (GASP!). What we do have is a happy house with little stress. Aiden and I play all day. That is reward enough for me. I may not have all of what my friends have, but I have been blessed! Being with my baby every day is worth more than all the money in the world!
"We are living like no one else so that later we can live like no one else!" -- Dave Ramsey