Saturday, April 28, 2012


This week we had a very special appointment with our lovely midwives... or midlives, as Grace Louise often gets tongue-tied and calls them.  My cousin, Danna, and I are due within a month or so of each other and since we're both using Lakeland Midwifery Care, enjoyed a joint appointment on Wednesday! The kids were able to help out, checking for babies' heartbeats, measuring bellies, taking blood pressure... I am thrilled to get to share in this experience with Danna and see our toddlers loving the experience too!  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Earth Day

First of all, let me say that I'm a fan of the new blogger.  It's about time they updated some things!  Hopefully this will make blogging and posting pictures even easier!  

My mindset and methodology for preschool is PLaYiNg and natural learning... learning as we go.  In early spring we went on a bike ride and saw five gopher tortoises, setting the perfect stage for learning a bit about gophers!  We spent days talking about the difference between a turtle and a tortoise, burrows, the color green, and of course, doing great tortoise crafts!  

On a regular basis, we practice shapes and colors at the grocery store, almost always initiated by Grace Louise..."oh, there's a triangle!" (as she points to the aisle number sign above).  If we keep our eyes open to the learning opportunities around us in everyday life, our children will soak up useful knowledge and life skills like a sponge.  

I put Grace Louise on the waiting list for First Methodist Preschool when I was pregnant with her... just in case it was something we might want to do.  When I got the call to sign up for two day preschool for this coming August I just wasn't sure.  Jimmy and I ended up deciding against it, since Baby Boy will be arriving (sometime) in August.  Too many transitions for our family in one month.  Maybe next year.  

So, in the meantime, I'm going to try my hand at more topical lessons with Grace Louise.  After our really fun and effective Easter Week, I realized that learning by topic is perfect for Grace Louise AND for me.  The repetition in the daily topic makes for good retention, excitement/anticipation, and lots of connections for her... having a theme helps me come up with something simple for everyday (hello pinterest!)

Yesterday was Earth Day, so we spent last week on "earthy" concepts.  Very basic, mind you.  

We live on planet earth.
E is for earth.
The earth is round, like a circle.
God made the heavens and the earth and everything in it.
The water is blue (ocean) and the land is green (trees).
God wants us to be good stewards of the earth.  Recycle and No littering!

We found a few books on recycling, trees, various animals, and the Bible story of creation at the library.  Miss Kara, the librarian, was a huge help helping us navigate the children's library to find these books!

 First day, making our earth!  We finger and brush painted blue to represent water.  And then made green footprints for land.  We followed up the next day with a color matching activity, using the same earth.  She matched blue foam handprints and blue pompoms to the blue water and green handprints and pompoms to the land.  Of course, gluing was her favorite part!

Before we got started on our blue water, she drew this and said, "Look mom! It's a G!"  I had no idea she could draw a G!  (Well, backward).  I've seen her draw an "A", but this was a pleasant surprise!  She's got several tracing apps on the ipad, the best by far is My Name, an app that requires the child to trace the proper way and teaches them the alphabet, programmed names (like their own), and simple words.

Earth Man!!!  Just a fun way to continue emphasizing what the earth looks like... colors, shapes, motor skills... its so easy teaching preschool!

We combined recycling (reusing) and trees in this fun craft, creating a tree from tissue paper and a toilet paper roll.  Some of the books we got from the library were Early Reader/NonFiction that had great pictures of recycling and trees.  My favorite, though, was Our Tree Named Steve!

A few other Earth day crafts- the tree person compliments of pinterest.  The penguin compliments of Daddy's mad art skills.  We were watching Frozen Planet last night and Grace Louise said she wanted to make a penguin!  So daddy broke out the construction paper; she glued the two pieces together and added a googly-eye... walaa!

Baby Noble

Grace Louise and I finally got a chance to meet her new baby cousin, Noble Ann. This sweet little bundle took a nap on my pregnant belly, curled up like a kitty cat! Grace Louise spent most of the morning playing with cousin Lily, but finally started paying attention to the baby when she woke up, gently petting her and giving a few kisses on her head!

Monday, April 16, 2012

A quick little update on this sweet girl of mine.

Grace Louise is loving watching my belly grow and talks every day about her baby brother. She talks as much about her "baby sister", which has me constantly reviewing the ultrasound photo. She says she's just pretending...

"That's his nose!" she said the other day, pointing to my outie! She has even felt him (actually) kick once! The timing for a sibling could not be more perfect... most of the time on our way home from play dates with friends she cries, "But I don't have anybody to play with!"... and she's only two. She's gonna be awesome at this big sister business.

A few new things...

I recently started saying she's 2 1/2 years old... that's weird.

When she wants your attention she makes this funny (attempted whistle) sound, "wssshhhh". Not exactly the most polite gesture, but really cute! She's started a new habit at night of calling me from her bed... "uhhhh, mom? Can I have some water?" I answer and then she starts in again... "uhhhh, mom?"

She's doing so well with her sleeping and napping. I lay down with her every day for a nap. Maybe that will change when the baby gets here...I'm not sure. She puts herself to sleep for night time, however, and is such a big girl about it. A few weeks ago we had an episode of her getting out of her bed and coming down the stairs many times a night, saying she was hungry or scared of the dark. She was coming down each time with (big) baby Sophie in tow... and I know she couldn't see a lick! We ended up putting a gate up at her door... the risk of her falling down the stairs in the pitch dark just wasn't worth it.

She's insanely optimistic, always saying, "It's okay! It's okay! Right, mom? It's okay?" She says this when she drops something, breaks something, or senses that I'm stressed. I mean, what are you gonna say to that!? Of course, it's okay!!! She helps me keep perspective :-) What a gift!

She's still nursing, usually twice a day, and is noticing and commenting on the change in my milk taste and quantity. If I'm tender and happen to wince while she's having ninny, she takes a break to assure me that she is not biting or hurting me. Again... "it's okay, mom!" Nursing a toddler keeps things interesting, for sure!

Our first trip to the dentist was a little earlier than expected. Grace Louise had antibiotics for a lingering sinus infection that we couldn't seem to tackle with natural remedies, which unfortunately stained her teeth with a strange yellow resin. (Another great reason to say NO to antibiotics unless absolutely necessary!) She did great for Dr. Bopp, got a balloon, a new toothbrush, and a clean bill of dental health! Thankfully the stain went away over time. We don't play when it comes to those big white teeth!

If you haven't noticed, Grace Louise is sporting a new hairstyle these days. Her hair is finally long enough to make a little Pebbles ponytail, accented with a matching bow, of course! It's neat to "fix" her hair in the morning. Not something I've ever had the pleasure of doing until now!
We are totally geared up for summer, already swimming as much as we can... a little disappointed in the lack of retention from our expensive and (very) time consuming swimming lessons last summer. :-( I think we'll sign up for a couple weeks of refresher lessons and go from there. Until then, practice makes perfect... just trying to log lots of water hours!

I took her to lunch with BeBe and Pops after church on Sunday and snapped these cute pics. Then we went swimming at Granny Wise's pool.

BeBe has Grace Louise outfitted for the summer... I'm in love with these little Lands End swim suits that protect her from the sun. We're down at the lake beach almost every day and the sun is already brutal. Her skin is so brown, even with religious sunscreen applications!

Saturday, April 14, 2012


So, this post has been hanging out in my edit folder for a while... I was originally waiting for a picture of our finished chicken tractor, but after a series of unfortunate events (and unfortunate chickens) I guess I was too discouraged to go here. More on that sad story later...

I love the country, nature, working with my hands, the satisfaction and experience of growing (some of) my own food... I've just lacked the setting and motivation for so long.

I had a final surge of motivation when the fatigue and nausea of this pregnancy was replaced by nesting energy. Recently, The Truth Project Bible study, provided me fresh revelation regarding labor in general- seeing the opportunity to work and be creative as a gift and joy rather than a burden or curse... and of course keeping the perspective, doing all things as unto the Lord.

My primary place of work happens to be my home, my family. In my short two years of motherhood, I've been learning the balance of home/away from home activities, and ultimately have realized the rewards of building a fun, healthy, joyful, and productive homestead.

Homesteading at the Hurst Castle... keeping an effective and organized home, making the most of our outdoor space, promoting peace by being present and proactive in homemaking, creating a place where learning and fun take place daily, and being resourceful in general.

Keeping things manageable is really important for me to be successful... if I can't/won't manage it, I will fail, be discouraged, waste money/resources, and be less likely to try again in the future.

So, no huge garden for us this summer season. Lots of potted herbs, some lettuce, spinach, okra, and peppers. And Grace Louise is learning and helping... with a happy heart! Very manageable for both of us!

No animals were harmed in the making of this post, at least not by me... however, these chickens exist only in our memory now... thanks, Mr. Raccoon.

Our second attempt to produce healthy home-grown eggs was a bust. These chickens were special... my breed of choice, Barred Rocks, and I paid a whopping $40 for three hens and drove to Lakeland to get them. Jimmy lovingly helped me create a more free range-friendly pen. You're getting an idea of the investment, here... very discouraging to have these ladies taken from us so soon, but hopefully we'll recover and try again (after varmint-proofing our chicken tractor).

Grace Louise was proud of her new pets. I caught her outside watching them while having a snack! She really took ownership this time, always helping me care for chickens, filling up the water bucket, carrying out the scraps, and spreading the scratch grain. This was sort of our biggest homesteading adventure and challenge... we will try again!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Resurrection Sunday!!!

Our first Easter as a family!
2010- 5 months

Easter 2011- 17 months

Easter 2012- 2 years

Aunt Lindsey is down visiting from Kentucky and our church was showing the Passion of the Christ late Saturday night, so Grace Louise stayed with her BeBe and Pops and woke up Easter morning away from home. A little sad but necessary. She loves her grandparents to pieces, plus I brought her Easter basket of goodies over in the morning before church, so all was not lost. I found two new books, only one specifically about the Resurrection, called What is Easter? The other was a cute book of Bible stories shaped like a purse, which she broke the first time she read it. Oh well. Other goodies: a cross craft, craft supplies (y'all know she likes to craft...), butterfly wings, a plush duck that she gets every year and never remembers (muhahaha), pink toenail polish (painting her toenails is her new fetish), toothpaste (she has eaten her last two tubes- sucked them dry- so she has been facing the consequence of no toothpaste tooth brushing for quite some time), raspberries, and plums.

Eating a plum and hanging out with cousin Autumn by the pool.

Supervising by the pool...

"I found one!"

This right here is a girl on a mission. She was best little Easter egg hunter ever!

And I'm her biggest fan!

Look at those eggs! She got some plastic candy-filled eggs (which we donated to the Children's Church prize bag) and many "salt and pepper" eggs. Egg salad sandwhich, anyone?

All of the Wise/Dubose/Hurst Grandkids after the egg hunt...
bustin' a gut to get in that swimming pool!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Week Thoughts...

So, no big Easter activities for us today... Grace Louise and I headed to the would-be Farmer's Market in town this morning, except that it wasn't today... it's next week. (I knew that!) Instead, we painted a darling caterpillar at the Beans and Brushes Cafe before heading to join Pops, BeBe, and Aunt Lindsey, our much anticipated guest this week!!! Grace Louise spent the day and night with them, while Jimmy and I joined our CrossRidge Church family for a viewing of the Passion of the Christ movie downtown at the youth coffee shop.

I've seen this amazing movie before, and am still overwhelmed at the enormity of all that Jesus did for me. This time, however, I walked away with my mind pondering a few other messages...

First of all, Jesus was all God AND all human. In the movie, as in the scripture, Jesus asks for "this cup" to be taken from Him. Jesus did not want to die on the cross, as He faced the prospect of this torture with much grief and torment. It wasn't as though because He was God, he didn't experience the pain as any human would while enduring beatings and crucifixion. Jesus knew the pain He would have to bear and did it for the joy that would follow.

Seeing the character of Mary in the movie and her response to Christ's suffering reminded me that Jesus, though conceived of God, was born of a woman who loved him dearly as her own. He was someone's son! Someone who surely pained at just the thought of him hurting. Oh how her heart must have broken seeing her baby boy taking on the sin of the world. Pure agony is all I can imagine.

I was driving home from the movie tonight, so full of thought, gazing at the Full Passover Moon. My sweet baby boy leaping inside of my womb over and over. (He is SO very active!!) I cradled my belly thinking, though not the Messiah, my own son will have to be brave, courageous, strong... an adventurer, a leader. For this is the image of God men bear. I felt this mama bear pride swelling up in me and I realized, I am proud to have a son, and I already love him so much!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Week Day 5!!!

So much fun in one little post?... I think so!!!

First time coloring Easter eggs! Grace Louise has been eyeing the egg dying kit in the cabinet since I bought it a week ago. She was super helpful getting everything ready, watching the little color tabs dissolve in the vinegar and then dropping the eggs in the pretty colors. Waiting was the hard part! We tried to make crosses on each of the eggs using a white crayon, but few turned out :-/ Still lovely and so much fun!

Enjoying her Easter eggs...except the yoke.

Decorating the eggs with stickers might have been her favorite part... she loves stickers!

Continuing with our Resurrection Scene that we worked on Wednesday and Thursday... today, Good Friday, we put Jesus on the cross.

We took him down a few hours later...

and laid his body in the tomb.

We went through our Resurrection Eggs again, with the scene, and talked about the leather whip, the spear, the crown of thorns, the linen cloth, the nails in the cross... I could really see her making the connections using the pieces of the scene. Then again, she offered Jesus a fake hotdog that she found on the floor by her play kitchen and insisted it would make him feel better... :-/

Jesus will remain in the tomb until Sunday when we'll roll the "stone" away to find only grave clothes. In the meantime, she's been narrating other parts of the story, like the guard who keeps saying, "You can't take Jesus body!" in a really low, mean voice. Not exactly sure where she got that from!

We spent our afternoon with Miss Cindy and Grace Louise's new friend, Emily, playing in their (awesome, amazing, refreshing, beautiful) pool. These girls had a blast!

After swimming, Daddy called us to hurry home for a surprise... as if the day could hold anymore fun! She brainstormed the few blocks back to our house... What was the surprise? An airplane in the backyard? Could it be? A new teddy bear?


And they think they've found their mama!