One of the great thing about visiting Yaya and PawPaw is the wildlife they have nearby. Here are a few shots of Our tour of Wakulla Springs and a bird shot from this afternoon at the beach.
I know it's a little blurry, but this is an alligator checking us out. I wish I had a better zoom on my camera, because this is as close as I wanted to get to it. I think it was a young one, maybe 3-4 feet long. But it was plenty big for me.
This is a great blue heron looking for an afternoon snack.
This was the coolest thing I've seen in awhile. Manatees have migrated to Wakulla Springs for the winter. The water stays between 68 and 72 degrees year round. We were able to see ten or so. There was a pair of mommas and babies that were neat. This big guy was swimming right next to our boat. You can see the scar on his tail from a boat motor. They are curious creatures, and unfortunatly are often hurt by boat motors.
I love this shot of a seagull I took this afternoon. But it's always scary to take an overhead picture of a bird :)
As gift giving time approached, I have been thinking about what to give my children. I have made a practice that for every gift Eden or Josiah receives, we give one away to a charity. This fall, I gave bags of toys and stuffed animal to the toy store hosted by the ministerial association in our home town. I also love Toys for Tots. (run by the Marines) I hate thinking other children might not have a gift for for Christmas. It breaks my heart.
Another thing I have is a tote of rainy day toys. These only get brought out on days when for one reason or another, we can't play outside. It's like having new toys all over again. I switch these out every few months.
The other day my cousin Kelly blogged this list of children gift ideas. I loved it so much I copied it, changed a few, and added a few of my own. Thanks Kelly for the great idea. You are such a creative mom. I hope you liked my changes too.
Dress up box - Fill a plastic tub full of things for them to use to play dress up. Get Halloween costumes on clearance, a couple of uniforms, a cowboy outfit and some random things like hats, scarves, vests, accessories.This can be extravagant or thrift store sensible.
Musical Instruments - Ukuleles, triangle, drums, tambourines, xylophone, rhythm sticks, bells. Eden and Josiah love music! We dance and sings and make joyful (loud) noise to the Lord :)
Books and Bookson CD - My children love books. The cardboard books work best for little fingers and rough hands. I find books all the time a yard sales and sometimes the library gives away free books. Kelly's great idea- have grandma buy a book, read it into a tape and then give the tape with the book (DINGS inserted so the child knows when the turn the page).
Wooden Blocks, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs and Legos- the possibilities are endless and it helps with fine motor coordination. Don't think these are just boy toys either. Eden loves to build and tear down castles and building.
Little People - They are a great size for a shoe box to become a house, barn or gas station and they are chew, dirt and waterproof by being hard plastic. They also have a nativity set and a Thanksgiving set that make playing with the decorations easy.
Puzzles and Games - I love Melissa and Doug's Toy, especially their puzzles! I also love puzzles that have handles on the pieces. Josiah is already starting to pick them up, chew them and put them back. I have just gotten Eden a Memory game. Uncle Scott has given them Chutes and Ladders and High Ho Cheerio. Eden is still a little young for them, but it's good to get her to understand matching, counting and taking turns at this early age.
Art supplies- Paint, crayons, glue sticks, coloring books, paper, stickers, cookie cutters as patterns and play dough. Also, my children love doing crafts like simple, cheap odd and ends they can glue on a paper or a piece of foam. At Michael's for $1 they have the sets of wooden cut outs (they come with markers to color with or you can use your own paint). Simple projects or the material to do something is fun and sparks interesting creations is great.
Puppets - Our church has puppets and Eden loves them. I found a few really cute ones at the dollar store. It's fun to see how much Eden understand and talks when she plays with them. You can buy puppets or let your children make them (or make one for their sibling) out of socks or Popsicle sticks.
Educational Toys- I am a big fan of toys that run on imagination, not batteries. While we do have some toys that are the flashy light and sounds kinds of toys, for the most part, Our toys are old fashioned in natures. I also love toys that pair learning and playing together. Recently My Mother in law took me to a Kaplan's store. It was awesome! I went through their catalog and made a list of toys that I wanted to get for our children. You'll see that many of the items below are from the list above.
Here is the list and catalog numbers you can use on their website: http://www.kaplanco.com/ Kaplan's stuff tends to be a little expensive. But all of the things I have purchased have been high quality and will hold up to the rough playing of my children and will last for years.
Ladybug Letters 19-61253 Match Me Games – Letters 1939716 Numbers 19-39718 Pre –reading skill set 19-82212 Wooden Blocks- colored 19-46995 Musical Instruments: Click here Maracas, sleigh bells, rhythm sticks, triangles, Handle castanet, Sounder, Symbols Puzzles- letters and numbers 19-46835 Games- Alphabet, picture pairs, Dominoes, Numbers, 19-60375 Lacing and Tracing Jumbo Set 19-46899 Play food –wooden- 19-46892 ABC “Sweets”- Letter and laces 19 47356 Sprout and Grow Window 59-24260 The Giant Encyclopedia of Arts and Crafts The Giant Encyclopedia of Theme Activities for children 2 to 5
I'm trying to win a Beco Baby Carrier and if I blog about it I get an extra entry :) My friend Kelly writes for a great site called Simple. They are hosting a drawing forBaby Snazz. Kelly had the Beco at the park the other day. She and I both wore Josiah in it. He's the chubby baby she's referring to in the post. I loved the carrier. It felt great to wear him front and back. He fell asleep in it, which is always a great thing. Josiah weighs 22lbs. He's getting to heavy to wear for extended times in ring slings b/c it so much weight is on one shoulder. This carrier distributed his weight evenly and I was comfortable wearing him for over an hour. This is a great carrier. I would love to win it:) Feel free to check them out or ask me questions :)
I love taking walks during the fall. The colors are so amazing. I love the reds, greens, and golds. All the diversity in the colors reminds me of God's handy work. Here are a few shots that I thought were super cute :)
While reading about Orphan Sunday. I went to a friend's blog knowing she would have something posted. Jerry and Eileen have adopted 5 children in the past 5 years. They are just one of the families the Lord has used to teach us of the blessing of adoption. Please pray with me as we encourage Christians to "learn to do what is right, encouraged the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." Isaiah 1:17
Eileen wrote these words. I could not say it any better.
"Today in Baptist churches across the country, believers are coming together to stand up on behalf of the orphan. There are 145 million children around the world today who have no family, no one to protect them, love them or tell them how much Jesus loves them. 145 million. It is time to rebel against affluence and reach out to these children in love. "
One of my best friends came for a visit this weekend. Danielle is an amazing woman of God. We meet in seminary and thankfully have continued our friendship after graduation. I feel like her big sister. In fact, at her graduation, I stood up and was cheering for her. Everyone around assumed we were sister. They said we looked so much alike. Funny b/c she so much taller than me, I'm guessing she's around 5'10'' maybe5'11''. :)
It's always refreshing to be with her. She cracks me up with her questions about being a wife and mother. Her desire to be used by God is always an encouragement for me. Her friendship is a blessing. And my children LOVE Aunt Danielle! We took Eden and Josiah to the park and I got these photos Danielle and Josiah. They are two of my favorite redheads.