Advent : week 3 (or, the week that didn't happen)


You know when you have some wonderful plan for something like an Advent calendar? And then circumstances totally mess with your plan?

That's where I'm at this week.

Last week, my children both came down with a stomach virus of some kind. Not much sleep, lots and lots of terrible diapers. So. Much. Poop.

So I spent most of last week's writing time doing laundry (because we had poop on sheets, poopy blow outs on jammies, poop on Evert's stuffed teddy bear named Tigey...), bathing a poop-covered toddler, and comforting sick children.

And then, of course, I got the same virus. So I'm out of commission this week. No Advent posts for week 3 - I'm sorry.

I got such a good response from readers, though, that I'll definitely do it again next year, and I'm still hoping to be able to do the few days of week 4 this year.

Thanks for the grace, friends.

I'm off to take a nap.

Don't miss new posts! Sign up here to get new posts delivered to your inbox.
Or, get the weekly newsletter via e-mail by signing up here!

DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging habit, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. You may see a full disclosure by clicking on my "About" page. I will only promote products that I use, enjoy, or take a shine to. All opinions and reviews are my own and are not influenced by any compensation I may receive.


Advent : preparing our hearts, preparing our homes {Week Two}

We're continuing on our Advent journey of preparing our hearts as we prepare our homes.

This season can be so focused on making sure everything gets done, and when our to do lists take precedence over everything else, our souls suffer and we burn out quickly. I want to spend this Advent building up my relationships with other people, being intentional about preparing my home for the holidays, treasuring the gift of Jesus come to us, and preparing my heart to receive him once again this Christmas.

So here's the plan for week two!


Advent : preparing our hearts, preparing our homes {Week One}

December is often a very, very full month. Between preparing for Christmas, all the celebrations and parties, keeping everyone fed and clean, and trying to keep up with just the regular things that keep my house running, I feel like things fall through the cracks.

Like preparation.

There's usually a huge (often not very cheerful) rush to clean all the things when we have company coming. I never feel like my house is really all that prepared. And honestly, my heart is even less so. I often find myself with a bad attitude, or unconfessed sin, or relationship conflicts that really stem from my own heart issues. I need to get my heart prepared so that I can fully engage, fully experience, and fully worship during this very special season. That's really what Advent is all about- preparing our hearts.

So this year, I came up with a little "Advent calendar" to help me prepare my heart as well as my home. I figured I'd share what I'm planning! Here's the first week!


Bubbles! a toddler invitation to play

We started exploring the letter "B" this week with our first "B" theme-- Bubbles!!

Of course, the weather didn't cooperate with my planning (whoops) and we started our Bubbles invitation to play riiiiiight as the weather turned cold and dreary. Ah well. I was kind of hoping to spend more of our time outside with these activities, but they ended up being great ways to keep my two year old busy indoors, as well.

Here's how we played with bubbles this week!!


Seven Delayed Quick Takes : IBW, voiceless parenting tips, and a big bruise

Well, it certainly has been a couple busy weeks.... although I could have done without some of it.

I got sick. I picked up Evert's cold. And the truly unfair thing is that he got over it quick, but I'm still (still!) coughing up a storm. And he's got all the energy again, but me? Not so much. And the most unfair thing of all?? I lost my voice. Completely gone for two full days. Evert has been making monster truck noises and asking "What's that?" nine million times a day, and his voice is totally fine. What.

So my first three "takes" this week? The three things I would bring with me on a desert island, if that desert island was actually two days with two children under two and no voice.


Their Eyes Were Watching Mama

It was nearly the end of the church service.

I spent most of it standing. Well, standing and bouncing and rocking. Because my little one is getting to that age where he really doesn't nap well in a wrap, anymore, and the more I can move, the more likely he is to fall asleep. So I stood by the stained glass window, the light carrying the colors and painting them across my back, and swayed and rocked and rocked and swayed.

And finally the baby did fall asleep, and I cautiously sat back down next to my husband while the pastor finished his message with the baby's soft breath on my collarbone.


Apples! a toddler invitation to play

I love early Autumn, before the leaves start to fall, when the days are still warm and the mornings have just the smallest hint of the crisp, cool weather that's to come. Makes me want apple crisp along with my coffee for breakfast.

Fortunately for me, my in-laws have a couple apple trees that have been busy producing tons of apples, so apple crisp (and lots of it!) is definitely in my future!

With all the apples starting to ripen, it was the perfect time to explore and experience apples with my two year old!

While this isn't a formal "unit," and this definitely isn't "school," I have found that having themed invitations to play helps me to come up with creative activities to help my toddler learn through play and hands on experiences.

Here's what we did!


Seven Quick Takes : two year old woes, apple crisp, slide rafts, and a house plant

Just seven little things about our week!
...   .1.   ...

We've been getting to the little public library in town about once a week or so lately, and this week was no exception.


Busy Bin : Apple Pie

This week, my 24-month old and I have been focusing on apples!

There are so many fun apple play activities, and we've had a great time learning through play together this week! To see more of what we did, check out our apple themed activities here!

One thing we've really enjoyed this week has been our busy bin! I debated just not doing a busy bin at all this week and focusing on more real-life sensory activities (like apple picking and making apple crisp together), but then I saw this fun Apple Pie sensory bin and thought I'd give it a try!


Acorns! toddler play experience

Acorns, acorns everywhere!

We had a great time playing and learning about acorns this week!

Acorns were the perfect focus for this week for several reasons. Here in the Midwest, Fall is upon us already this year, but the weather has remained just beautiful.

And, I just happen to know an area with huge old oak trees. Jackpot. And they just happened to be falling in earnest this week (thanks for the inside scoop, Kristin!)

Busy Bin : Acorns

Acorns are a great Fall theme for directed play, and here in the Midwest, it's acorn season!

My toddler (he's just about 24 months old) and I had a great time learning about and playing with acorns this week. To see more about the activities, books, and resources we used, check out my page about our acorn activities!


How to Dip Dye a Woven Wrap

1) Washing Soda Soak

Washing soda is a fixative that makes the dye react with the fibers, so this step is really important.

Using a 1 cup to 1 gallon ratio, I made a bucket of my soaking solution.

I needed three gallons total to cover the fabric. I mixed the washing soda with hot water, and stirred with a big yard stick.

Then I added my fabric and stirred.

To make sure that all the fabric was soaking, I poked the material down into the bucket using my yardstick, covering the whole wrap under water. Every 15-20 minutes or so, I stirred with the stick to make sure to get a good even soak. It's recommended to leave the fabric to soak for at least a half hour-- I got busy and left mine for about an hour and fifteen minutes or so.

While the fabric soaked, I did a little math and set up my tension rod. So, I wanted about three inches or so of the fabric to be dyed, and I calculated how high my tension rod needed to be so that only three inches or so would be in the dye bath.

Also, I totally hate tension rods-- I can't ever get them to work. I had two potential rods to use... and I ended up not getting either to work and pulled down the shower curtain tension rod in the end. I hate those things.

After letting the fabric soak, I gave it a spin in the washer to get out the excess moisture. NO rinse.

2) Hang Fabric

Using the same hanger set up I used for my gradient dye a couple weeks back, I hung my fabric in an accordion pattern.

It wasn't perfect, but the bottom of the fabric was pretty even, so the chances were good that I'd get a nice even line of dye.

3) Mix the Dye Bath

According to the Dharma Dye's website, to make three gallons of dye bath, I needed three cups of salt, two tablespoons of dye, and one cup of soda ash.

Using an gallon sized ice cream container, I mixed hot water with salt, stirring to dissolve the salt. I made two gallons and a half gallons of the salt mixture and poured it into my dye container.

I then mixed my dye. I measured the dye into a glass measuring cup, then added a little warm water and stirred well. Then I added a little more warm water and stirred again until I didn't see any clumps at all.

I mixed the last cup of salt into a half gallon of warm water, and poured the dye from the measuring cup into the dye container, rinsing all the dye from the measuring cup with the salt-water mixture.

Finally, I mixed one cup of washing soda with the last half gallon of hot water, and poured that into the dye container, mixing everything in the dye container with my yardstick.

4) Start the Dye!

Carefully, I put the hanging fabric into the dye container, and then used my hand to spread a little between each layer.

And then we wait!

I didn't time it (should have...), but in between taking care of the baby, I would go in and spread the layers a little with my hand every once in a while. All in all, I think the wrap was in the dye bath for about an hour and a half. Maybe.

5) Rinse

I carefully lifted the hangers with the wrap out of the dye bath, and then moved the dye container out of the way.

Using my shower head sprayer, I sprayed cold water on the wrap, going from the top to the bottom, to rinse out the excess dye.

I did this for.... too long. Haha. Like, twenty minutes, and then let the wrap drip for a while. I squeezed out the excess water so it wouldn't drip on the way to the washer, and then did a couple rinse cycles to get out the remaining dye. When the water started coming out clear, I finally, I washed the wrap with a little detergent, and dried it in my dryer.

6) Wrap!

Here's the finished product!

I ended up with a little bleeding - the dye crept up the wrap a little bit above where the dye line was. I actually really like the way that looks! I got about 3.5 inches of dye along one rail of the wrap-- EXACTLY what I wanted. I love the color of this and how nicely it contrasts with the natural osnaburg color!

The wrap is a little crunchy after dyeing, but braiding and steam ironing will help it to break in. Mostly, though, the more I wrap with it, the softer it will get!

DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging habit, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. You may see a full disclosure by clicking on my "About" page. I will only promote products that I use, enjoy, or take a shine to. All opinions and reviews are my own and are not influenced by any compensation I may receive.


Seven Quick Takes : Black Hills 2019

Well, our annual Black Hills trip has come and gone already. I'm not sure how August is almost over, already, but there it is. Here are seven quick takes from our trip!


This year was the first Black Hills trip for two newbies-- little Koben, and our new-to-us camper. We purchased this camper in late April. It's exactly what we've been looking for over the past few years -- it's a toy hauler (the bed raises up to the ceiling, the back wall doubles as a ramp, and it has tie downs for small vehicles or motorcycles), it has a large bathroom and lots of storage space, and it's only 17 feet long.

It was in rough shape on the inside, and needed lots of scrubbing and TLC (thanks, Mom!) before it was ready to go.

Overall, we really like it.


Sorta-Montessori : Toddler Water Play Skills Bin (a sensory bin alternative)

We have been (imperfectly, sort of) following a Montessori-style philosophy with our toddler for almost a year now.

While we don't follow all the "rules," (our toddler sleeps in a pak n play, not a floor bed; we have many plastic toys; he uses a high chair for meals...), some Montessori principles are practical, helpful for our family, and fit with our parenting style. So we use those, and toss the ideas that don't work for us.

One thing that is technically not a Montessori activity is sensory bins.

If you're not familiar, a sensory bin is a container with a base material like sand, corn, slime, water... and then some objects or manipulatives for a child to use to interact with the base material. They're super popular, often very engaging for kiddos, and can range from simple to very, very elaborate.

There are millions of ideas out there for really awesome sensory bins.

But generally, they're not really Montessori.


Sorta-Montessori : Baking with a Toddler

For the past year or so, I've been working to incorporate some Montessori principles into our home life. Sort of. In all honesty, we're pretty far from a full-out Montessori home. We don't follow all the "rules," but we fit the philosophy to our lifestyle and the needs of our own family. And so far, it's working for us.

One of the things we've been enjoying this spring and summer are our baking days! We usually try to do some baking every other week or so -- my goal was to bake every week, but our schedule this summer just hasn't allowed for that. (Most of the time, my hands are pretty full and I don't take any pictures, so most of these pictures are from when we made Daddy's birthday cake!)

We started working together in the kitchen when Evert was 18 months old, and I was a little hesitant to get started at first (the mess! the fingers in everything! the time it takes! the eating of raw batter!). And yes, all of those things happen. It takes three times as long to include Evert as it would if I just did it myself, and there's always lots of clean up - of the child and of the kitchen.

However, the simple activity of doing a little baking includes so many learning experiences that it totally makes it worth all the time and mess. Little Evert loves it, but even more than that, there are so, so many things he's learning on our baking days!

Here's a look at a couple of the "lessons" he's learning.


Seven Quick Takes : Mr. Rogers, weddings, diapers, and cows

So much has happened over the past two weeks that it feels like it's been much longer since I've been in this space.

Camping trips, family "Christmas" parties (my side of the family celebrates Christmas in July!), a birthday, a wedding... a lot has happened! And of course, my boys just keep growing up on me. But here's a couple quick "takes" about what's been going on lately!

...   .1.   ...


Seven Quick Takes : a bulldozing Daniel Boone, a dinosaur named Melanie, and love of a vacuum

Oh, what a week!

...   .1.   ...

I am just loving Evert's toddler antics this week. He's such a hoot.

This weekend, he insisted on wearing a coonskin cap, so I had the pleasure of following a young Daniel Boone as he bulldozed my driveway.


Seven Quick Takes : in which I discuss cute diapers, risky endeavors, coffee, and my toddler makes book recommendations

Hello everyone- how was your week?

...   .1.   ...

We had a couple rainy days this week, but still managed to get outside for a while between rain showers.



To be honest, when I found out we were expecting our second baby, I was soooo excited, but also a little bit nervous.

Evert was a couple of days from his first birthday when we found out about little Koben's existence. Evert was still such a baby himself - and I really wondered how he'd do with a sibling, especially a sibling so close in age.

We read big brother books. We watched videos on Youtube of babies- laughing babies, crying babies, sneezing babies (Evert's favorite) - talking all the time about how we need to be so gentle with babies, how we can make a baby feel happy by singing a song, how Mama will hold the baby sometimes. I read articles about the best ways to help a toddler adjust. I tried to prep Evert as much as possible for the big changes about to take place, all the while cringing  in my heart about how he'd transition. I worried that he'd resent the new baby, that he'd resent the attention given to his new brother, that he'd lash out at us. Despite all the preparations, I worried.


Rocking Chair Revisited

It's almost seven thirty when I rush upstairs to the drawer full of pajamas. I'm behind. It's late. Bath time, then a story and a song, hugs and sloppy toddler kisses, and then I'll clean up the kitchen quick and hopefully the baby won't need to nurse just yet...

And in the middle of the routine checklist of my thoughts, I notice it.

It's covered, at the moment; several toddler sized button up shirts that I need to hang and put in the closet are draped over the back, and there's a toy tractor tossed on the seat. Wedged up against an armrest is a book - "Big Bulldozer!" embossed across the front. (I've got that bulldozer book memorized.)

It's the rocking chair.