Still Playing School: October 2013

Capture Your Grief 2013 - Signs

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 1 Comment
It takes a lot for me to see a sign from Violet.  I'm skeptical, but sometimes, she just makes it so obvious.  I joke about her rolling her eyes and saying to the other babies, "Sure, you can send your parents a butterfly or dragonfly and they know it's from you.  My momma, though, she needs a whole room covered in violets!"

Last spring, my husband poured his milk into his espresso next to a Violet Random Act of Kindness card and found this:

This summer, I poured E milk for breakfast and spilled some on the table and found this:

Mr. SPS said there must be something about the liquid that scientifically makes it fall into this shape often.  Sorry, Violet, you're going to have to be even more obvious to get through to your Daddy! 
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Recycled Packing Sheet Ghosts

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: Be the first to comment!
I had this crafty invitation set up for E to create and recycle with a white packing sheet.  She was thrilled to discover it!

She jumped right in to start drawing some of her own ghost shapes. 

This craft was the perfect way for E to practice her scissors skills on a sturdy material that wasn't too difficult to cut.  I cut around the ghosts for her while she trimmed off the excess.

The (washable) black marker came off on our hands so I'd recommend using a Sharpie.

Next E glued on eyes.  I love her scrunched up nose here!  The glue bottle worked her fingers and hand muscles!

To add variety, I had round label stickers out.  E drew feminine eyes for "ghosty mommas" and spooky, angry eyes, too!

 Here is the whole crew waiting to dry!  I strung clear, stretchy beading string through the tops so we could hang these as decorations throughout the house!

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Vacuuming Letter V

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 2 Comments

This post is part of 31 Days of Learning the ABCs organized by All Done Monkey.  Each day in October a different blogger has highlighted a letter of the alphabet with an activity or craft compiling a wonderful resource of early literacy!

We chose the letter V for obvious reasons!

We used painter's tape to make Vs of varying sizes on our rug.  E vacuumed them saying the V sound as she did.  Pushing a child size or toy vacuum is great for shoulder and upper arm muscle development which benefits handwriting.  "Vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv," goes the vacuum!

We talked a bit about the formation of the letter V as I asked her to start on the top left to vacuum down and back up.

We practiced size identification.  "Can you vacuum the largest V next?  Where is the smallest V?"

Some variations include using different colors of tape, spelling your child's name, or walking along the tape instead of vacuuming.

Next, E wanted to use parts of her body to make the letter V.  She used critical thinking to figure out the best ways to succeed at her task!

 "That's easier!"  Could we make Vs with our fingers, too?

 You may also want to check out the 31 Days of ABCs Pinterest board for even more great ABC ideas.  Please be sure to visit the other great blogs that participated in the 31 Days of ABCs series:

 If you have an educational activity or craft for the letter V, please link to it below!

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Capture Your Grief 2013 - Time

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: Be the first to comment!

She was born at 9:04 crying!
Karen took this picture when they came to tell my family the wonderful news.

She lived for 58 1/3 hours exactly.

She's been gone for 716 days.  An eternity and yet it seems like she was

Time has no meaning any longer.
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Capture Your Grief 2013 - Season

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This is one of the last outings we took as a family before Violet was born.  Fall will always, always, always remind me of my girl.
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Recycled Take Out Container Frankenstein

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We may be addicted to recycled crafts this autumn season.  Before we put anything in the trash or recycle bin, E and I both analyze it to think of what it could become!  

Our latest creation is a recycled take out container turned into a Frankenstein.  We have a running joke in our family that Mr. SPS is scared of Frankenstein.  E wanted to make a happy one to make him feel more brave around them!  

Start with a take out container, preferably after your lovely husband brings you home sesame chicken and white rice for dinner.

Turn the container upside down and paint it green.  Our paint didn't quite cover the text on the top of the container, but that's fine because Frank needs hair.

Glue on eyes.  After doing an image search for Frankenstein, E decided to draw on the nose, scar, and mouth with markers.  She drew him sticking his tongue out so he would be too silly for Daddy to be scared!

We glued on felt hair.  Our Frankenstein was ALIVE!  I love how the handle of the take out container reminds me of his bolted on head!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links which just means if you click through to Amazon from this page and purchase anything, we will get a small profit  for referring you.

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Almost Two

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 1 Comment
I can't believe that it's only just under two weeks until her second birthday.  I can't believe it's been almost two years since I held my daughter, kissed her cheeks, stroked her super soft hair, and smelled her newborn smell.  I wish I could still smell her on her pink blanket, but it's lost her scent.

I miss her so much.  We miss her so much.  We're reading E We Were Gonna Have a Baby, But We Had an Angel Instead at bedtime.  More and more, I imagine Violet at the age that E was when she met Violet.

Alleviating the pain a bit this year is the way we've chosen to celebrate her second birthday.  We're asking anyone who would like to help us remember her to spell her name in a creative way and send us a picture of it.  Please feel free to share her story with someone and introduce them to our girl.

We've already had several beautiful submissions:

As a mother who rarely hears someone else speak her child's name, I can't even begin to tell you how much seeing her name this often means to us.  Knowing that someone took the time to think of her and intentionally spell out her name means that she isn't forgotten.  I think about her every minute of every day, but it's a huge fear that others have forgotten her.  This shows us that she is real in your hearts, too.

Plus it's just the perfect time for my emergent reader, E, to be able to identify her sister's name in these photos!  The collection will be cherished by Mr. SPS, me, E, and D forever.

You can join us at the Facebook event page or email us your pictures.  Feel free to invite and tell anyone you think may like to participate!

I can't wait to share all of the photos with you.  I also hope I'll be back before then to share another way that you can help us remember her as she turns two!
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DIY Doily Pumpkin Shirt

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: , , 1 Comment
Our DIY Pumpkin Doily Shirt is a fun and festive wearable craft for kids for the Fall! These shirts turned out super cute and they also have a story to go along with them that pretty much sums up our life.

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Capture Your Grief 2013 - Wave of Light

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Capture Your Grief 2013 - Family

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Always one short.
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Breaking Point

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 4 Comments
I have a confession to make.

I stopped cloth diapering.  For now.  I told myself that I wouldn't cloth diaper until the newborn haze had settled, but I started earlier than I thought I might.  It's not that he was an easy baby, no, not at all with the reflux, but I guess I was excited to try cloth.  I loved it.  I still do.  It's not the cloth's fault.  But the other day, I turned around and snapped at E while I was swishing out a poopy diaper in the toilet all while trying to keep D's chubby hands out of the dirty water and I thought of this.  I had to step back and breathe and reflect and apologize to E and I still had to rinse the damn poopy cloth diaper.

I'm going to take the three months that I thought I wouldn't cloth diaper in the beginning of D's life and trade them in for now.  October through December, man, every year.  So much emotion, so much family time, and so much pain.  I try to clear off my calendar a bit and retreat, but not too much.

Grieving is tough.  Being a parent isn't easy.  Being a person isn't easy.  No kidding, you say. 

If I owe you a phone call, a thank you, an apology, or a blog post, I'm sorry.  You cross my mind as I'm trying to do a zillion other things and even all the coffee in the world, my Google calendar, and all the help I get can't give me more hours in the day. 

Something had to give, guys.  It's the height of my grief season.  I overload my plate to try to keep the grief from seeping in, but then I still have to find time to visit with it regularly.  There is a (much wanted, always) needy baby, a preschooler who is growing up too fast, a husband who I adore but our private moments are all too few, and my dream to turn this blog and my writing into something larger.  These are all taking a space in my life and it's a balancing act, always.  When I step back to take inventory and evaluate what to cut, it's the cloth diapers.  Making sure the house is clean so that I can have guests over.  Making the kids' birthday party invitations myself.  90% of the things I have pinned on Pinterest.  DIY eco-friendly cleaning supplies, YOU WILL HAVE TO WAIT.  There are people in my life who are The Most Important Things.

What do you cut out when something's got to give?

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Plum Salon & Spa with Makes Scents

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 4 Comments
What mom doesn't wish occasionally daily for a few several hours away to be pampered and relax in silence?  Though Central PA Bloggers, I was overjoyed to have the opportunity to spend a Saturday at Plum Salon & Spa sampling their services.   Located at Urban Place in historic downtown Lancaster, PA, Plum Salon & Spa is a full service salon and day spa.  It is the perfect place to escape with a few friends (or alone, as I did) to completely de-stress. 

Pictures are dim due to relaxing, low lighting!
Meeting with owner Ryan Benner was a pleasure.  Easy to talk to and professional, he set the tone for my whole visit by telling me about the salon.  One of the most interesting details was their dedication to sustainability.  Together with his wife, Lani, Ryan has created an elegant and modern business with a strong, moral foundation.

On the day that I visited, Plum was buzzing with the excitement of several bridal parties, yet the atmosphere remained relaxed.  I was never once overlooked as the staff checked in with me regularly while still allowing for the leisurely opportunity to enjoy the day spa to its fullest.  I started by changing into a robe before my massage in the private changing area complete with shower and any products needed freshen up before or after your services.


During my massage, Danielle was extra talented at working out knots (of which I had several).  I felt like I was melting as I relaxed.  I completely zoned out which is a rare treat for me as my mind almost never stops!  Danielle used Makes Scents Champagne Mimosa Body Scrub and Body Butter which smelled divine!  They felt even better being luxurious, handmade, and all natural!

Between my massage and my manicure, Plum provided me with brunch from The Baker's Table next door.  

Next up was my deluxe manicure with Nia.  I made sure to tell Ryan on the way out that she was a delight!  My nails looked great plus she was so fun and easy to talk to during the treatment.  She also used Makes Scents Body Scrub and Body Butter.  Makes Scents gifted me with my own jars of each product to take home along with my personal favorite, a Champagne Mimosa bath ball bon bon!

You can learn a bit more about Makes Scents founders, Heather and Nathan, another entrepreneurial and their products in this short video:

I loved their display at Plum and their products so much that I asked Heather if she would give one lucky reader the body scrub and body butter to try themselves.  She generously agreed, so you can enter to win below!

My day with Plum Salon & Spa and Makes Scents couldn't have been more indulgent.  I thank both of these local, family run companies for their generosity and for allowing me to share their unique stories! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received Plum's services and the Makes Scents products at a discounted price in exchange for this review. 
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Capture Your Grief 2013 - Book

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: Be the first to comment!

A Gift of Time: Continuing Your Pregnancy When Your Baby's Life if Expected to be Brief is a book that covers such a small (yet growing) group of us, but if it is your situation, oh does it speak to all the possibilities!  I can't recommend it enough!

If you or someone you know is currently pregnant with a baby who will be making a quick hello/goodbye and you are the first person to comment telling me so, I will send you/them my copy in memory of my sweet girl.  National shipping only please (within the United States).  

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links which just means if you click through to Amazon from this page and purchase anything, we will get a small profit  for referring you.
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Cookie Decorating for Fine Motor Practice

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 1 Comment

Cowie continues to be having adventures while E is at preschool.  E comes home to find Cowie in a different invitation to play each day!  This week it was cookie decorating.  

The night before we had made pumpkin sugar cookies.  I am glad that I am in this photo even if I do look so tired, courtesy of baby D the night before!  

We made the letter E with our leftover sugar cookie dough.  We are always looking for ways to work literacy into everything we do together! 

The sneaky fine motor practice for E involved squeezing a small tube of icing.   By using containers of sprinkles instead of shakers, she had to pinch the tiny sprinkles to place them exactly where she wanted them.


Both will improve the muscles in her hands to help her correct her pencil grasp

We worked on impulse control which is an ongoing skill for preschoolers to practice!  If E had a taste of the icing on her fingers, she had to stop decorating to go wash her hands.  If you have an impulsive little one, I recommend asking him/her to wait to have a taste after one cookie is decorated.  With E, I asked her to wait until we decorated six before she sampled them.  You can extend the work before the reward as your child's patience grows.

The face on this guy makes me laugh every time I see him! 

Do you make seasonal cookies with your kids?  What cookie cutters are your favorites?
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