Move On Mom

Playdates are usually fun for the mom and the kids until someone cries, gets tired, or doesn’t share. It’s been a couple of months since an incident in a playdate happened to us. It has taken me a while to write about it because I wasn’t ready to sift through my feelings and swallow my pride. Micah clearly is way over it and I, on the other hand, took a while to digest it.
Some months ago, Micah had a playdate with a friend. He was still busy eating lunch, as we all were, when his friend said he wanted to play. My son knows the rule about getting up during meal time. It’s a big no..NO. There will be mishaps here and there but for the most part, Micah knows he is not allowed to run around during meal time until we are all done. That goes for everyone including mom, dad, and Titus.
His friend was getting agitated so he came over and flipped Micah’s plate and water cup. Luckily, he was about 2 bites away from finishing his meal. (If it was a whole plate, I probably would be even more irritated.) The food spilled all over his clothes and water dripped down from his body to the floor.
My eyes grew wide open, my heart started to pound and my temper, well it began to rise. I was in shock. I was more in shock that his mom laughed at the situation as Micah sat there wet to his socks. He whispered quietly, “Mama, I’m all wet.” (In my head, I was like…YEAH CLEARLY!) I saw him looking at me, watching my reaction to the situation. Knowing that my son’s thought bubbles would go like, “Mmmm Wonder what my mom will do?” I smiled (on the outside but definitely not on the inside) and in a very controlled voice, “It’s ok Micah, let’s clean it up. It’s just water. It will dry up.” As we wiped up the spill, his friend started to whine and fuss. He was still upset that Micah hadn’t gotten up to play with him. He cried and yelled for Micah to come over. His mom just laughed it off and said he was tired.
After I cleaned up the mess, I excused myself and went to the bathroom. I needed a time-out. I was sorting through my feelings of anger and confusion. I quickly texted my husband, “Please pick up your phone in 5 minutes. Thanks.” I knew I needed an outlet and my poor husband was in for it. I prayed quietly and asked God to change my heart and calm my voice as we prepared to say goodbye. I told Micah to say goodbye since everyone was probably tired from the day and needed some down time (I needed to get out of there or it will not be pleasant.). When we got to the car, Micah hesitated to sit down and buckle up. He told me, “Mama, I need to go down and say sorry to Michael. He is crying. It’s Micah’s fault.” Oh!!! The fumes burned inside me even more. I gently said, “No Micah, that wasn’t your fault. He spilled water and food on you. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s time to go home now, ok?”
As we drove off, I quickly called my husband. Thankfully, he picked up. I ranted on and on about the whole situation and expressed how irritated I was. As I shared my feelings, I realized I was upset because they never apologized for what happened. It made me even more upset that Micah felt blamed for the situation because it was the other child who ended up crying. I was upset because his mom made excuses for him. I was upset because there was no remorse or sense of urgency to remedy the situation. I know it wasn’t really that bad, but I was after the principle. I told my husband that I was trying so hard to teach Micah how to play nice, share, and apologize when he is wrong and now that he is wronged, he wasn’t apologized to. WAHHH!!! AARGGGHHH!!!
Praise God for my patient husband. After I chewed his ear out with my frustration, he calmly said, “Are you done? I’m glad you were able to express your feelings. Why don’t we talk about it when I get home. I have to go to the court now.” I was A LOT calmer at this point and I agreed and thanked him for listening to me.
A few minutes later, Micah said, “Mama, are you ok? I think you should pray.” (GRRRRR!!!!!! I DIDN’T REALLY FEEL LIKE PRAYING AT ALL!) “You are right Micah. Let’s pray and thank God for today, huh?” I really tried hard to sound happy and sincere but I was struggling. In the midst of our prayer he says, “Mama, pray for Michael and auntie *his mom*.” I was like…MMM NO WAY! But clearly the Holy Spirit was using my 2-year-old to convict my hardened heart. I asked the Lord to bless them and change my heart towards the situation. After we said Amen, Micah said, “Mama. It’s all done. Ok? All done.” As if he was telling to never ever bring it up again. MOVE ON MOM! Everything is fine now. Boy did I struggle even more! I wrestled with God because I wasn’t done yet.
When Chris got home that night, I quickly said, “Micah, tell daddy what happened today.” He looked at me blankly and said, “Mama, it’s all done right?” But continued on to tell his dad briefly, “Michael threw water at me but it’s all done now Papa, right Mama?” Again, as if telling me to drop the case of the spilled water. I knew God was speaking to me. He was dealing with my heart and asking me to forgive and forget. But I just couldn’t get past it.
I discussed it again with Chris that night as we lay in bed. I just needed to share how slighted I felt. I was definitely crying over spilled milk (but in this case, water). I didn’t want Micah to feel like a bully and that everything is always his fault when he plays with Michael. But Chris, in a kind and gentle way pointed out, “Babe. Micah’s already done with it. He even told you multiple times that it’s all done right? I learned that it takes genuine forgiveness to move past a situation when we feel wronged. Micah has been over it since you guys prayed and you are still dwelling in self-pity and pride.” He continued on to say, “Micah is showing a lot more maturity and godliness in this situation than you are.” MMMM YEAH HE IS! I agreed.
We didn’t see each other for a while because our schedule got crazy. It wasn’t till recently that they asked to meet up with us again. I struggled as I read the text. I called my husband (again, my favorite go-to person for wisdom). I told him about meeting up and he quickly encouraged me to go. I had come up with a text stating I was unavailable and had lots to do because of the busy weekend ahead. But the Holy Spirit nudged me to hold off sending it. Chris told me that Micah needs to learn to deal with different people and different situations. And that I had to grow in dealing with how other parents discipline and respond to our children as well. He said, “This would be a good practice and that it would be a great way for you to show Christ love. It would be a perfect place to practice and apply the message we heard from our pastor last Sunday. Maybe you can win them over to Christ with your love.”
I knew in my heart he was right. He knew my to-do-list was long and needed to get checked off but he said growing in character was more important. Praise God for a godly husband! I responded and met up with Michael and his family with a smile. With a changed heart, I can say that it went much better than I anticipated. My son had a great time and seeing him deal with conflict (as it arose once again) made me appreciate his sincere and genuine heart even more. He dealt with it with ease and handled it with grace. He used his kind words and won his friend over with kindness. I learned to be gracious and respond in love and let my child take charge of himself. At the end of the day, I was glad I went. We all need a lesson or two on love, no matter how old we get.
Today, I came to the conclusion that at this time of my life, motherhood is my ministry and our playdates well, you can call them my mission field, where the character of both my boys and mine will grow and get tested. I pray we will truly reflect Christ in every situation and show love even in the most difficult circumstances. I’m grateful that God’s love overlooks my faults and this prompts me to do the same even if it’s hard. I’m still a work in progress and I’m thankful that God’s love will never give up on me. 🙂

PS: Real names weren’t used.

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Truth Be Told: A Toddler’s Confession

Today marked a milestone for me as a mom of a two. I never thought about dealing with honesty this way or this soon.

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Micah at 2.5 and Titus at 8 months old

I would often let Micah and Titus play together while I cook, clean or do the laundry. I would be around the area or within a short distance from the two of them just in case some mishaps happen. Titus is a pretty tough baby. He doesn’t get hurt very often and is usually quite tolerant of his brother when he starts playing a little rough. He would laugh when Micah would pretend to play or throw a football or swing his imaginary baseball bat. He loves hanging around his older brother and follow him around (in a much slower pace a.k.a crawling).

It’s fun watching them interact and be buddies. Micah is usually pretty good around Titus and is pretty careful when Titus is close by. There would be days when he would get frustrated with Titus when he chews on his toys or mess up his work during home school time but for the most part, I think he likes having his little brother around. The other night though, we had to remind him to be more gentle when he pretended to tackle and run around Titus. We told him that his baby brother isn’t big enough to play football yet, let alone be his football at the moment. 

This morning, as the boys were playing in the living room, I ran upstairs to grab my phone and my wallet as we prepared to leave for an errand. I told Micah to watch Titus for a second. He was busy playing with his big construction trucks while Titus was crawling around him. There were coos and laughter but as soon as I got my wallet, I heard Titus crying. I ran downstairs to see what had happened.

Micah had stepped a couple of feet away while Titus was on the floor (in a crawling position) with his hand outstretched with fingers apart. My initial thought was probably one of the wheels of the excavator must have ran over his tiny little fingers. Whether it’s on purpose or not, I don’t know and I really can’t tell. I decided to pick up Titus, wipe his tears, and calmly ask Micah what happened. He told me, “Mama, Titus just cry. I don’t know.” I asked him if he had anything to do with it, he said, “no mama” and started rolling his truck the other direction.

Titus was way over it at this point. It literally took him one loud “WAAHH” then some “sniff sniff” and then it was over. I debated whether I should pry some more or not. I was tempted to accuse Micah (gently) or present the “possible” scenario of what just happened. But I restrained myself and thought it was best to just end the situation with a calm reminder to be careful around his little brother and to make sure he paid attention to where he was going. 

We all hopped in the car and I drove away. At one of the stoplights a couple blocks from home, Micah quietly said, “Mama, I gotta tell you something.” I glanced up and said, “Yes Micah?” He continued on with a remorseful and almost teary face and said, “Mama, I sorry. I hurt Titus and he cried. It was accident. I sorry Mama. I hurt Titus. Mama, I forgive you.” (which means “please forgive me,” he still can’t quite figure that one out yet.)

I pulled over after crossing the red light and asked him to look me in the eyes as I smiled and said, “Micah, thank you for telling mama the truth. I’m so glad you were honest. Mama wouldn’t be mad as long as you tell the truth. I’m so proud of you for being brave enough to tell mama what really happened. God is really happy about what you did, too. That was very mature and God-honoring. I forgive you. Please be more careful around Titus next time ok?” He smiled. I continued on, “How do you feel now?” He said, “Mama I say sorry to Titus.” Then he quickly turned towards Titus and said, “Titus, I sorry. I hurt you. I forgive you ok?” (again, it means, “please forgive me”) I chuckled in the front seat as I watched him in the rear view mirror. After his sincere apology, I noticed his whole demeanor changed. He was smiling, talking and bubbly once again. We prayed and I thanked God for giving him an honest heart. He quickly added “I sorry God for hurting Titus.” as we prepared to say Amen.

I praise God for giving me the wisdom to stay calm and restraining myself from accusing Micah of hurting Titus. I praise God for the sensitive heart that He has given him. I pray that he will always choose to obey Christ even when things get difficult.

As I shared this story with my husband, we were reminded of Proverbs 22:6 which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go. Even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We pray that both our boys will come to know Christ at a young age and have a personal relationship with Him. It is our desire to pass on a godly legacy that will always point them to our Creator. This incident also reminded us that we are accountable to the Lord to teach our children biblical principles and to be the godly example He wants us to be. But apart from Him, we cannot do it. We are blessed to have the Holy Spirit to help us through this journey of parenthood.

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Convicted by a Toddler

Today was not a good day. I had a bad attitude and I lost control of myself. I woke up late and rushed to get everyone dressed, fed and raced out the door to their swimming classes. I chose to snooze the alarm, check Facebook (uh-huh) after I finally woke up and dilly-dilly-dallied before I looked at the clock and panicked. I had to pump, get the boys fed, changed, and into the car all in 15 minutes! Uhhh no way that was possible! I quickly got up, pumped Titus’ milk, changed him and went to get Micah in his room. Micah was happy and energetic like he always is in the morning, but mommy’s agitated spirit caused his mood to change. I greeted him with a cheerful good morning but followed it up with a “Get up! Let’s go! We gotta go now! Hurry!” I could sense that he felt stressed because he wanted a morning hug but instead he was greeted with mommy’s bad attitude. I told him to hurry up or else he wouldn’t have any breakfast. I had packed his cereal to eat in the car but my empty threat had given him an anxious heart. I carried Titus and the swimming bag to car and yelled, (yes, yelled.) “Micah, I said let’s go! NOW!” in a mean and rude voice. Micah started crying. He started whining as he made his way down the stairs and out to the garage. His cheerful disposition had disappeared. It was replaced with apprehension and distress. He quickly got into the car with tears rolling down his eyes as he whined about wanting his cereal. In my stern and angry voice I told him to sit down and buckle up. The whole time I knew I was struggling and battling my flesh. I tried hard to control my temper but I lost it.

It was silent for a few minutes as we drove away. After a while, Micah quietly and humbly said, “Mama, I’m sorry for crying and whining. I’m sorry God. I had bad attitude.” I was taken aback and convicted. My heart sank. I realized that it wasn’t his fault at all that we were late. It was mine. I woke up late. I was slow. I chose to check Facebook over getting ready sooner. He was actually up earlier than I was and was just waiting for me to come inside his room. (because that’s the rule.) I pulled over, looked up at the rear-view mirror and in a gentle (much gentler) voice, I responded, “Micah, I am sorry. Mama is so sorry for yelling. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have yelled at you at home. I could have asked you nicely to get ready but I shouted at you instead. That was not kind or pleasing to God at all. Will you please forgive me?” He smiled as he looked back at me and said, “It’s okay Mama. I forgive you. Let’s pray and say sorry God.” We prayed together as I asked the Lord to forgive my rude and harsh behavior. I asked Him to teach me how to speak gently and control my temper. Micah quickly added that he was sorry for crying and whining.

My heart was blessed, convicted and touched by the Holy Spirit. My son not only showed humility, he showed me grace and forgiveness. He showed me how to quickly forgive and with a smile. He showed me how to apologize sincerely and how to receive apology graciously. He taught his mama how to turn to God in prayer after I offended our Heavenly Father. God truly touched my heart in a remarkable way today.

As I shared my guilt and shame with my husband, I realized that I am such a recipient of grace and I too need to extend that to my son and others. I admitted that it was my fault because I was late but instead of owning up to it, I blamed Micah for it and rushed him so we can make up for loss time. My sweet husband encouraged me that this was a great reminder for me but also a great example to our son. He graciously said that I showed a great example by apologizing and acknowledging my mistake. I gotta admit, I’m usually the teacher but today, I learned a lesson or two from my toddler and it was good. He showed me how a  humble heart, a gracious smile and a sincere apology can turn an unpleasant morning upside down.

God allowed me to experience Him through my two and a half year old. In the midst of my chaos, I can have peace. IMG_3651

Instant Infant Fun!

       Different Ways to Engage Your Infant

Congratulations! By the ripe old age of three months, your baby is no longer a newborn. Your little one can now turn his head when he hears your voice, waves his hands, and kicks his feet when he feels excited. He has mastered the much-awaited grins, gurgles, and giggles. Not to mention the infamous cry to express joy or pain. Good bye passive newborn, hello active infant!

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Your buddy is now stronger, more active, and can use his body to reach, pull, and manipulate the world around him. How amazing it is to see all the creative ways they explore! These activities aren’t just a source of entertainment for our little one they are all learning experiences through which life skills are developed along with his sense of self. This is the time to usher in the new era of exploration! Sing songs with hand movements. Give him toys that shake, rattle, and roll. Get him to scream in laughter with high flying rides and tickle games that require the use of his whole body.

The reward of exploring with your baby and his body is the wonder of interaction. Seeing him enjoy it will bring a huge smile to your face, too. Bonds of love and trust are formed through early interaction and play. Spontaneity can make these interactions even more fun and rewarding, so find an opportunity at every turn! You can play peek-a-boo games during diaper change, tuck your baby in a sling while you vacuum the floor, throw in a little dance or two while you do the dishes while he watches you, and burst into song or whistle while you work can help turn a fussy infant into a giggly one.

Remember to build a relationship with your child by engaging in intimate activities that will help him master certain skills but also create a lasting and joyful bond. Here are 5 fun ways to keep our little ones—including ourselves—entertained! Who doesn’t love to see their baby smile back at them? 🙂

IMG_22181. This Coo is For You!

From 3-6 months, your baby is often a social being full of the cutest coos and irresistible smiles. Although he can’t say real words yet, the adorable sounds he utters are his way of exploring the world of communication. He learns from the responses you give to these vocalizations. To help boost language by understanding what he hears and saying his own words, keep talking (and talking and talking) to your little one. Speak slowly, clearly, and simply. By responding to your baby, you are showing him that you value what he has to say and will encourage him to communicate even more. A squeal or squirm is a great way to see that he realizes you are following his body movements and are interested in what he has to say.

Keep your baby interested by repeating his own sounds back to him. When he says “ga-ga-ga,” respond excitedly with your own “ga-ga-ga.” He’ll love the attention but will also get in the habit of imitating your real words too. By encouraging your baby to mimic, you will inspire him to try even more complex word patterns which eventually will result in his attempt to say words and phrases. Titus loves being talked to. He responds with his ear-to-ear grin and starts cooing back. It never fails to make us smile. (This a great way to get your older child involved too. T loves it when M talks and sings to him.)

cooing with grandpa!

Grandpa and Titus enjoying a fun conversation! 

2. Mirror Mirror in Front of Me, Who is that Cutie that I see?

Watching his own face and interacting with his own image in the mirror increases your baby’s budding awareness of himself as a separate person. This is very amusing to him. You gotta admit, I bet you can name some adults who can look at themselves for a pretty long time! Here’s what you can do.
a) Prop a mirror against a wall, (I usually use the coffee table) and lay your baby on his tummy (instant tummy time!)
b) Point to the baby in the mirror and introduce him to himself. You can name the parts of his face as you point and touch each part. The mirror helps your learn to track, focus and explore.

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It promotes upper body strength and visual stimulation. Follow his lead, he can quit if he has had enough but don’t be afraid to challenge him by going a little longer each time. Our little Titus used to dislike tummy time. We would put him in his tummy and he would fuss and fret for a while, when he realizes help isn’t on the way, he plops his head and goes to sleep! It happened every time! 

He tends to do this...haha

So I checked out Target but they ran out of mirrors and when I finally found one (I bought two because extra is always good!) Titus realized it wasn’t the worst thing in the world to be on his belly! By the way, I got those mirrors for five bucks only! Tummy time got longer and longer and now, he has finally learned to love it. 🙂

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I SEE ME!

3. Movement Motivation: Just a little out of reach

This encourages your baby to make early efforts to grab things and move his body towards something or someone he wants like a ball, a colorful toy or you! Creeping forward, rolling over, or just s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g as far as he can go will help him develop those little muscles. Be careful not to tease him. Make sure to build success into the activity. If you see him getting frustrated, move it a little closer or give him a break, sing a song or two then try again.

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These were taken when he was about 2.5 months. 

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These were taken when he was about 4.5 months. He got the concept pretty quick! He even pulls   on the blanket so Sophie gets closer. Good problem solving skills there bud! 

4. Bathtub Ballet

Make bath time fun and exciting is a great way to encourage motor skills. Sitting and splashing in the bathtub is a thrill for both my boys. With the tub filled with lukewarm water and your baby seated on a non-slip mat, encourage your little one to kick and splash and play! When he starts kicking, you can start chanting, “Kick, kick, kick!” This will encourage him to continue kicking. Kicking helps strengthen his leg and abdominal muscles which is important for crawling and then eventually walking. This activity also helps develop his confidence in water which helps when he starts swim lessons.  Titus absolutely loves this! He can stay and kick in the tub for a really long time.  

5. Toe-Knee-Chest-Nut

Kicking feet and waving hands are generally the signs that your baby is beginning to understand that he can somewhat control the movements in his body. Reinforce this by drawing attention to the major body parts for him. Place him on a bed or changing table or the floor then touch his face and say “face.” Hold his hands and make him feel your face, too. Repeat with each body part and make him feel both his own and yours. This provides tactile stimulation and helps him become aware of his body parameters. The song Tony Chestnut is a fun one to sing while pointing to each body part. Tony Chestnut knows I love you. (Toe-Knee-Chest-Nut, Nose, eye love you!) I didn’t get it the first time but now I’ve discovered what a fun song it is! Accompanying these exercises with playful interactions help build a close relationship between you and your child and sows the seeds for a healthy self-esteem, too.

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Micah loves doing this with Titus.

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Micah likes blowing on his tummy while singing songs with him.

IMG_4370 Fun moments with daddy!

Your newborn has surpassed the eat-sleep-poop routine and is now a responsive infant. Take advantage of this stage by keeping your little one engaged with these fun and simple activities. I’m sure you’ll have a blast, too! 🙂 

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Fine Motor Skill Activities that Your Kids Will Enjoy

Fine Motor Skill Activities that Your Kids Will Enjoy

Almost every parent feels the pressure to make their children write right now. But teaching your child how to write isn’t as easy as putting a pencil in his hand and showing him the alphabet. Children greatly benefit from experiences that support the development of fine motor skills in their hands and fingers.

They should have strength and dexterity before being asked to manipulate a pencil on paper. Working on this first can eliminate the development of an inappropriate pencil grasp. This happens when children get engaged in writing experiences before their hands are really ready. The following activities involve the use of practical life materials that will support your child’s fine motor development and help build the strength and dexterity necessary to hold a pencil appropriately in the future.

All these items can be found either at home or purchase from the dollar store or at Ikea. They have child-size items that will make it easier for the child to handle. These simple practical life activities may seem “easy” for us but it goes a long way with your child. These are indirect preparations that help in the coordination of your child’s movements and development of concentration.

Friendly Reminders:

1. Demonstrate how to do these activities next to your child so they can see what you are doing. Usually, you have your child sit first and you sit to the child’s right.

2. Name the objects you will use before you start.

3. Try to use as minimal words as you can and let your movements do the talking.

4. Make sure he/she is watching how you manipulate the items you are using.

5. Your goal is to demonstrate these actions clearly so the child can repeat the activity successfully and independently.

6. These activities aim to develop his/her coordination, concentration, gracefulness, and independence.

7. Repetition is important. If your child wants to do it over and over, encourage him/her to do so. It helps your child master the skill involved and allows your little one to gain more confidence in himself/herself as well.

8. Make sure to watch out for these important skills: concentration, hand-eye coordination, patience, and hand control.

9. Don’t forget to have your child clean up!

10. HAVE FUN!

Now let’s look at some easy activities:

SPOONING GRAINS:

Materials: Tray, 2 identical bowls, spoon/ scooper, grains (in this case, I used expired popcorn)

STEPS:

a. Wrap your three right fingers around the handle and firmly grip the handle.

b. Make sure the child sees you positioning the oval mouth of the spoon in the center of the bowl, so the grains fall into the bowl and not onto the tray.

c. If the grain falls, show the child how to remove the bowls and pinch the grains one at a time and replace into the bowl.

Variation: You can use jars to practice pouring grains, too.

Spooning Kernels with a Scooper

Spooning Kernels with a Scooper

Spooning Grains with a Spoon

Spooning Grains with a Spoon

POURING WATER:

Materials: Tray, 2 identical glass cups, sponge/towel to wipe off the spills, apron

STEPS:

a. Pouring water from the right hand jug into the left-hand jug then from left jug into right jug.

b. A cloth is to be used to wipe the spills.

Pouring Water Variation: You can have different size jars, some may even need a funnel.

Pouting Water

Pouting Water

SQUEEZING WATER FROM A BASTER:

STEPS:

a. Show your child how to hold the baster by the bulb to draw up the water by squeezing it and releasing the pressure on the bulb.

b. Move the full baster over to the second container and squeeze the water out.

c. REPEAT!

This was a little tricky especially with learning how to manipulate the baster so it took him a few rounds of spills and practice before getting the concept of releasing it after he puts it over the other jar. Micah also realized that it was easier for him after he held the bottle in place by moving it to edge so it wouldn’t move while he squeezed the water out. A towel close by is very handy because this takes a while to get used to. You can use a medicine dropper too. But because of the size of the baster, it makes it easier for their little hands to start with.

Squeeze me Baster!

Squeeze me Baster!

SPONGING:

(See the smile? He loved this!)

Materials: 2 buckets or 2 different containers (mixing bowls are good for these too)

STEPS:

a. Take the sponge and dip it in the water.

b. WAIT a few seconds for the sponge to absorb the water.

c. Pick it up and move your hands with the sponge over the other container.

d. Squeeze the sponge with both hands over the other container.

SPONGING!

SPONGING!

PLAY DOUGH:

We made homemade Jello Play Dough! They smelled so good and I wasn’t too worried if he tried to eat it. (Thank God he didn’t! haha) Squishing, squeezing, stretching and moulding play dough helps to build muscle strength in the fingers and hands.

Providing small items like buttons, sequins, pasta, pebbles and shells with the play dough will also encourage the child to use his/her hands when picking up and placing these objects in the dough. Put out some shape cutters, a grater, blunt plastic knives and tweezers which can all be used to mould and transform the play dough.

In our picture, we used the Melissa and Doug set I found at Ross for $5. Rolling pins foster the development of the precision muscles of the hands. The precision muscles of the hands are the muscles that support the pencil grasp and teaches the child how to adjust the amount of pressure when holding a pencil.

Mold & Make Me Something!

Mold & Make Me Something!

These are just some of the many things that your toddler can do to exercise his/her fine motor skills. Show excitement and delight when your child accomplishes these tasks! Encourage them to continue doing it. As parents, be in the moment and pay full attention to your child. Developing motor skills is the first step to writing without stressing your child and yourself, too!

The Sorry Story

I came home one Saturday from brunch with one of my girlfriends and I found my husband watching TV on the couch with my newborn. I greeted him with a smile and asked him how the morning went with the boys. I asked him where Micah was and he said he was napping already. I looked at the clock and realized he put him to sleep a little earlier than usual. I also noticed that my husband had a frustrated look on his face. He told me that he put him down early because Micah didn’t want to eat and was throwing a fit about it.

Our little boy is typically a good eater and has no problems finishing his meals on his own. I was surprised because he was served peanut butter and jelly, which was a huge treat for him, yet he barely ate a bite. I could see that Chris was clearly frustrated about the situation. After an hour or so, Micah woke up crying. I went to his bedroom to check on him and found out that he had thrown up. He looked weak and sick. He called out to mommy for comfort. My heart sank when I saw him looking helpless and miserable. His eyes were watery and he did not look well. He said, “Look…I’m sorry, Mama.” while pointing down at the yucky stuff on his bed). I said, “It’s okay honey. Mama will clean you up and take care of this.”

I quickly cleaned him up and brought him to Chris so I can change his sheets and throw them in the wash. When Micah saw his dad, he knew Papa was still upset. He said, “Sorry papa, no eat lunch.” Chris said, “Yes, Micah did not eat lunch. Not okay, Micah. You can have it for snack.” in a stern voice. I looked at my husband and signalled him to drop the issue. I knew Micah didn’t eat not because he was trying to be disobedient but because he wasn’t feeling well. However, Chris didn’t acknowledge this.

I prayed about how I could break it to my husband lovingly that he was wrong about how he spoke to Micah. I knew in my heart that he was aware of it but needed a kind reminder of the truth. God prompted me to speak to him privately as Micah played in the other room. I reminded him of the verse, “Fathers do not exasperate your children” from Ephesians 6:4. I told him I knew that he just wanted Micah to eat his lunch and obey Daddy. His intentions were right but his delivery was wrong. Praise God my husband was sensitive to the Spirit and acknowledged his fault. He knew he had to apologize to his 22-month-old son. He called Micah, put him on his lap and said “Micah, Papa is sorry for getting mad at you during lunch today. Please forgive Papa.” Micah said, “Okay papa” and gave him a hug. Chris wondered if Micah actually got the point because that was all he said and it was over. I reassured him that even if we couldn’t really tell if Micah understood it, there will be a benefit to his act of humility. If we want to teach our boys to be humble and admit if they are wrong, we need to model it ourselves and this includes apologizing to them, too.

A few days later, Micah got really frustrated and started hitting Chris in the face. Chris quickly looked Micah in the eyes and told him, “Micah, you need to stop. This is not okay. You are hurting Papa.” Micah immediately stopped but we could tell he was still pretty upset. Chris asked him to calm down and apologize but Micah was hesitant. He didn’t want to say sorry initially but eventually he did. As they talked about the situation, Micah admitted that he was sorry he hit his papa. He knew what he did was wrong. His dad hugged him and told him that he still loves him but does not approve of his actions.

As I prayed with Micah before bed that night, he mentioned all the people he was thankful for. I prayed for him but right before we said amen, he said, “Mama, I sorry I hit Papa. Micah sorry Jesus.” My heart melted. I knew God was working in his little precious heart. I told him that daddy forgave him but that Jesus did too.

This incident made me realize that our boys are watching our every move and if we want to teach them humility and forgiveness, we need to model these ourselves. We want them to know that no matter what they do, we will always love and forgive them. As much as they are accountable to us and to the Lord, we are also accountable to God for how we are raising our children. It is our hearts’ desire to raise them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Therefore, we need to walk the talk and practice what we preach. We pray that we will live out God’s desire for our children. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We believe that every parent should live by this truth if we want our children to grow up in a way that honors God. ☺

Father & Son moment: praying and studying God’s word together.

I am so blessed to raise my boys along side a man who loves and fears the Lord. What a great privilege it is to watch him model God’s character to them everyday. He is not perfect but seeing him grow in faithfulness, wisdom and godliness makes me feel so proud to call him the father of my children.

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Happy Father’s Day to my dear husband and also to all the fathers out there. May your children see the love of Christ through you everyday.

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Toddler Tasks: These little hands can do big things!

When you live a busy life, sometimes it’s easier to do things yourself. You get things done quicker and just the way you want it. Juggling between nursing and caring for a newborn and running around after a toddler, it’s easier for me to finish the chores, put away the dishes, fold the clothes and clean up the toys while the kids are napping instead of waiting for my 22 month old to wake up and help me. But by doing everything myself, what am I teaching him?
What if I actually waited for him to do it? It shows him that mommy trusts him to do big tasks. That she believes that I can do it by myself and that I am able! Oftentimes, I’m tempted to put away the dishes from the dishwasher so when my son wakes up, we can read a book or play or do something else. But I am reminded that doing so would deprive him of learning the valuable lessons of taking responsibility, caring for the household and allowing him to build confidence in his abilities. This encourages independence and allows us to share the joy of seeing him accomplish various tasks with big thank you’s, double high fives and big bear hugs – making us both feel like a million bucks! There are lots of ways your toddler can help you. It may take extra time in the beginning especially when you initially teach him, but when he/she gets it, it’s all worth it!

Here are some suggestions:
Bedroom:
Show your toddler how to:
1. Fold his own blanket or fix his bed after he wakes up in the morning or at nap time.

2. Put his dirty clothes in the hamper.

3. Pick out his own clothes and even put them on (shoes included).
Micah has a pair of “home shoes” that he can practice putting on around the house so when we need him to put on his “outside shoes”, he can do so quickly.

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5. Put away the folded clothes in the drawers or closet.
Warning: your perfectly folded clothes may not be so perfect once your little one carries them to the drawer and shoves it in.
*Micah told me after I folded his clothes, “Mama, Micah help.” I said “OK!” But before I could help him carry them to his room, he picked up the pile and brought it to his room. He placed them (it felt more like dropped them) on the floor, opened the drawer and put them in. By the time I got to the room, he said, “Mama all done” with a huge smile of his face; he proudly moved out of the way to show me the clothes in the drawer. I had to remind myself to say thank you and acknowledge the helpful spirit of my little boy instead of the sleeves that were hanging out and the shirts that were unfolded. He did put them away in the correct drawers and I had to applaud him for helping. I wanted to rearrange it so they would look neat, but I knew it would break his confidence. I had to let it go because the bottom line is my 20 month old helped me with the laundry. On the bright side, it was one person’s clothes I didn’t have to put away. 🙂

Bathroom:
1. Ask him to remove his clothes, socks and get ready to shower.

2. Get his towel.

3. Wash himself with soap and put shampoo on his head.
*TIP: Put some shampoo in a smaller container (put those hotel shampoo containers you take home to use!) so if it spills, you won’t waste a lot. Give him a small bar of soap so he can hold it in his hands. Micah loves holding the shower head and washing himself when he takes a shower.

4. Clean up wet spots on the floor.

5. If you are potty training, ask him/her to dump out the pee in the toilet. Remember to remind him/her to wash his/her hands after!

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1. Pick up and put away his books and toys after he uses them.
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2. Straighten up the pillows or rugs.

Kitchen:
1. Assist you in food preparations.
a. Rinse fruits or vegetables (while you do this, talk to him about the colors, names and importance of each one).

b. Slice bananas if he wants to have it for snack or dessert.
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c. Bake with him!
Show him how to mash bananas, or crush crackers to make them crumbs. I had pre-measured the ingredients and placed them in different colored bowls and had him put them into the mixing bowl. Mixing is so much fun!

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4. Show them how to scoop and drop!
Micah loved it! He got upset at me when I took the tray away to bake it in the oven because he wanted to keep doing it! He was pretty mad -while I thought it was pretty funny. I told him I had to bake it or we couldn’t eat it.

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5. Breakfast anyone? Slice the bread and spread the jelly! Who wouldn’t want to do that?!

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6. Empty out the plates and bowls from the dishwasher and sort out the utensils.
REMINDER: SAFETY FIRST! I remove all the knives and sharp objects or anything that can potentially injure him before I call him to help me.
With Micah, I had him put the plates and bowls on the floor because the shelf was too high for him to reach. I placed one of each on the ground so he would know where to put what item. I found it interesting that he made another pile for the 2 plates that had a design on them from the plain plates pile.

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7. Setting up the table.
Ask him to get the utensils one at a time for each member of the family. He can help put the plate on the table or give each person a napkin.

8. Clean up!
They generally enjoy doing this. Micah likes using the sponge to wipe down the table or the counter. He likes tossing trash in the garbage and sweeping the floor.

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Laundry Room:

1. He/ She can help load and unload the washer and dryer.

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With a newborn around and countless diapers to change, Micah has been officially the diaper & wipes helper! He is in charge of getting us a diaper and the pack of wipes while throwing out the yucky ones. He also our little errand boy and helps with getting the blanket, the milk bottles and sometimes the TV remote. I sometimes purposely leave the dirty diapers on the floor or the table because he loves finding them and saying, “Mama, Micah tapon sura.” (translation: Tapon: “throw away” and sura (basura) “trash” in Tagalog) and he happily runs off to dump them. (I didnt teach him this but he started started stepping on his footstool so he can push the diapers down the chute. In the last picture, he returns it to his room.)

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With a little help and a lot of patience, teach your tot to participate in keeping your home clean and tidy. While they may often leave a whirlwind of chaos in their footsteps, they actually need order as much as you do. So take the time to teach your little learner and it will benefit you too!

1. Keep his physical limitations in mind.
Micah struggled with putting away the plates because reaching for the counter that was too high made him feel frustrated, thus I let him lay them out on the floor instead. I also took out the baskets of utensils and placed them on the table with the tray so he can easily see and place the spoons and forks properly into their proper compartments.

2. Keep your instructions simple.
Instead of telling your child to clean up his toys or tidy up this mess, you can say, “Honey, why don’t we put all your balls into the basket.” Or, arrange your books on the shelf. Giving him a specific instruction makes it easier for him to comprehend what you are asking him to do. You don’t want him to feel discouraged because his inability to meet your expectations.

3. Model the behavior.
In the beginning, demonstrate how to properly put away the toys or arrange the books and work with him. Describe the steps you are taking such as picking up the balls one at a time (because realistically we can pick up 3 balls at a time and they probably can only pick one up at a time.) Eventually, you can slowly fade away and help only when necessary. It will get to a point when you don’t have to help because he knows the routine.

4. Make it fun!
Sing a song, google one or make one up if you don’t know any clean up song. Whistle while you work just like how Snow White and the 7 dwarves did it! Putting away the toys with a song can transform this dreadful task to a fun game.

5. Turn helping into a habit.
This takes time and patience. Gentle reminders help your child establish the habit of helping out. Praise their efforts especially when they remember to it on their own initiative. Some people use a chores chart to remind the child on what he has to do.

6. Be realistic!
This will not happen overnight and it will not be perfect. Building character takes time but investing in teaching your child how to be a good helper is well worth the wait!

Now go have fun with your little helper!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Philippians 4:13