Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve: Organizing life after Christmas

I love Christmas time but I also love cleaning up after Christmas.  Some of you out there are thinking that I am crazy but while putting away Christmas decorations and finding new places for all the new gadgets and toys, Jon and I tend to re-organize our house.  Sometimes this means completely rearranging furniture in rooms or just cleaning out various spaces around the house.
I love the way organizing our house gives us a clean start into the New Year.  A clean start is also the reason we all make New Year's resolutions.  We want to organize our entire life for a clean start this coming year as well.  Jon and I have been reflecting as we clean house about what we want to change in ourselves this coming year.  Our resolutions are made and we are excited to greet the year.  2012 will bring new additions to our family in the form of a new brother in law and a new baby in our house.  In whatever happens this year, I wish you the happiest of New Years!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Homemade Marshmallows

Yesterday Buddy, Sweetpea, and I made homemade marshmallows for the first time.  We had a great time making them though Buddy and Sweetpea primarily measured ingredients.  I laughed at the idea of homemade marshmallows at first but they really do taste so much better.  It takes time to set up but they enjoyed licking the marshmallow creme off the beaters while they were waiting.
We used the star cookie cutter to cut out our marshmallows and they were awesome in hot chocolate!  I think these marshmallows would be fun as a small gift for people or even just as a treat for your family to munch on.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Making Christmas Memories

One of my favorite things about Christmas are the traditions and memories that are made!  One of our family traditions has been to make and decorate sugar cookies.  Buddy and Sweetpea had a blast this year and enjoyed every step.  Sweetpea's favorite part though had to be adding sprinkles to the cookies and I'm still sweeping up the little ball sprinkles!

  Buddy's finished cookies
 Sweetpea's finished cookies

Tonight, we tried a new Christmas activity and made a family gingerbread train!  Buddy and Sweetpea were enthralled through the whole process and, I have to admit, they snuck a lot of candy to eat.  It was a lot of fun and they are proud of their train!

 Gotta love the gingerbread conductor!

This is one of the reasons that Christmas is a favorite season!  I love all the memories that we take time to make and the joy of my children.  I hope Buddy and Sweetpea remember these days as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Crafts

The Amazing Mess has great ideas for Christmas crafts to do with young children.  This is the beginning to her series 12 Days of Christmas Carols and Crafts from last year.  I saved several of the ideas to use this year with Buddy and Sweetpea. 

2 Teaching Mommies posted a Christmas Tree preschool pack.  There are really fun learning activities with a Christmas focus.

Little Blots of Faith has a sensory Baby in the Manger craft.  I hope to be able to make this with Sweetpea since she'll have to handle things like sandpaper as we work. 

I hope you have fun making Christmas crafts with your children!   I know Buddy and Sweetpea are going to have fun as well.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Enjoying Life

Today I had a list of errands I wanted to run and things I wanted to accomplish.  Then it began to snow, which for where we live is really awesome!  Instead of staying out running around, Sweetpea, Buddy, and I came home.  During nap time, I was beginning to stress about all the things that need to be done this Christmas season and made list after list. 
I promised Buddy we would play in the snow when he woke up so we all bundled up and went outside.  That's when I started to relax and enjoy that moment!  We ended up having a great rest of the evening as a family.  Jon surprised Buddy and Sweetpea with new fleece blankets and we had hot chocolate stirred with candy canes and s'mores for dessert.  Suddenly, my list of things to accomplish didn't seem so important and I soaked in the smiles and laughter.  Even spilled hot chocolate was okay because everyone was having a good time!  I hope we have lots more time this Christmas season to have moments like this.

Hot chocolate and candy canes...yummy!


Enjoying every last drop!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent Calendars

I've been wanting an advent calendar for our family but have not been able to find exactly what I was looking for in stores.  So I finally made our own out of felt.  Overall, I was ultimately pleased with the way it turned out.  It isn't perfect but it is ours and I'm looking forward to putting it to use.  Inside each pocket is the daily reading from I Can Teach My Child and scattered throughout on selected days, I've added special things to do like "Bake Christmas Cookies" and "Drink Hot Chocolate". 
I hope this helps keep our focus on the true meaning of Christmas!

We also made the advent chain from Spell Out Loud.  Buddy and Sweetpea had a blast helping me glue the chain together.  This is a little simpler for Sweetpea to take apart and is more of a visual countdown for both of them.    The Scripture verses are a little longer but that is okay since we are working on.
getting Sweetpea to sit still through longer readings.

If you are looking for another advent chain Spell Out Loud also has a Names of Jesus chain that I hope to use one year in the future. 

No matter what your family does this month, I hope that as we enter into December, that our focus remains on Jesus as the reason that we celebrate!  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It is not as bad as it seems

I took my two lovely children to the grocery store yesterday and things did not go so well.  It all started when I decided to get gas before going inside.  Buddy had a huge meltdown because I pumped gas at the number six pump instead of the number three (his favorite number).  This just set the whiny stage all the way through the store for both he and Sweetpea. 

After getting everything on our list, I arrived at the checkout line fairly flustered.  Sweetpea was trying to climb out of cart while buckled to reach the M&Ms and Cheetos, Buddy was trying to pull away from me to run across the aisle and look at toys, and I just tried to keep them in line.  I really think God gave me an extra measure of grace for them and I was able to reprimand both in a calm voice.  And for the most part, they decided to obey.

A grandmother-y looking woman was in front of us waiting her turn and all I could think to myself was, "She is going to think I am a horrible mom for having such ill-behaved children".  It was almost the woman's turn to check out and she turned to me to give what I thought would be advice on how she would handle my situation.

She completely flabbergasted me when she stated, "You have such well behaved children."  My response was a very surprised, "Really?"  To which she smiled and continued, "They are normal children wanting the yummy treats at the checkout but they obeyed when you said no.  You are a good mom to set boundaries and reinforce obedience and you will have to do this over and over while they grow up."  All I could do was thank her and breathe a little easier as we waited our turn. 

Yes, Buddy and Sweetpea have their whiny moments.  Yes, I get tired of having to set the same boundaries over and over.  Yes, they push hard against the boundaries.  But Yes, I have great children who, for the most part, are obedient. 

I can get so caught up in each little act of defiance or disobedience that I lose sight of the larger picture of the truly amazing gift that it is to be Mommy to Buddy and Sweetpea.  I took time that afternoon to thank God for the woman in the store who reminded me that it is not as bad as it seems.

**Edit:  Sorry this was supposed to be auto-posted yesterday.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Shirts

Again, while surfing Pinterest, I saw the cutest idea for a turkey shirt but the link didn't work.  So I used the picture and created my own version.  Although I'm a beginner at sewing, I thought this would be fairly easy.  I was right and it turned out to be a lot of fun until Buddy announced that he didn't want to be a turkey, he wanted a lion.  Maybe next project!  : ) 
Here's how I made our turkey shirts. 

I started by making a pattern on Word using the shapes tool.  Sweetpea's pattern is smaller than Buddy's since her shirt is smaller and I didn't want the turkey to overwhelm her. 

Brown fabric and at least two colored fabric pieces are needed for the turkey.  Using the pattern, I traced out all pieces and cut them out.

After arranging the turkey the way I wanted on their shirts, I used an iron-on adhesive to keep the pieces in place.  I mainly did this since I am new at sewing and don't trust my pinning skills yet.  I sewed around the body and all the pieces and then added a face as well.  Attaching the wiggly eyes turned out to be the conundrum.  All the glue I had at home would not hold up to washing in the washing machine until I found Liquid Stitch.  Now the eyes are attached and the shirts are ready to go!

Overall, I am very happy with the way they turned out.  Neither turkey is perfect but I know the kiddos will look cute!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Bow

Thanks to Pinterest, I found this adorable turkey bow for Sweetpea and decided it couldn't be that hard to make.  After reading the tutorial, I gathered my material and got to work.  In the end, instead of sewing it all closed, I just used craft glue.  Sweetpea's bow is pretty small and it would have been hard for me, a beginner at sewing, to make it look right.  I love the googly eyes too!  The greatest thing about this bow is that it took about 20 minutes to complete...and then time for the glue to dry.

I can't wait for her to wear it to our church Thanksgiving dinner and on Thanksgiving Day. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Handprint Turkeys

Yesterday, Buddy, Sweetpea, and I made our version of the Handprint Turkeys at Meet the Dubiens.  I've used paint to make their handprints before but it always makes me very nervous.  Instead we decided to trace hands on construction paper to make the turkey feathers.  A lesson learned for me was to not just make up crafts on the spot and to take time to do a little prep work.  Buddy and Sweetpea were not very patient as I cut out their hands though they did draw a bit on their background paper.  Then even after we had glued down the feathers and body, they had to wait again while I cut out the shapes for the face.  Older children would be better able to cut out their own shapes but Buddy is not quite there yet with his scissor skills.

Here are our finished turkeys.  This is Sweetpea's and obviously I helped her place the face pieces and draw legs.  She had fun holding onto the colored pencils and pushing down the shapes.

Buddy was able to add his turkey's face by himself.  He didn't like the idea of a waddle so he drew a mouth.  Then he added eyelashes to the turkey as well.  I love how his turned out!

These cute turkeys are now hanging on our dining room wall and I'm getting more and more excited for Thanksgiving day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving Projects

Today I was thinking about various Thanksgiving crafts and I wanted to post some of the ideas I've found either through Pinterest (anyone else as addicted as I am?) or through searching blogs.
I hope to make these Pilgrim hat cookies soon because I love all the things they are made from!   They would make an adorable treat to take to a school Thanksgiving party or just for an office surprise.

This turkey craft is a great way to get children to think about things they are thankful and write onto the feathers.  Depending on the age of the children, more parental guidance may be needed.  Buddy has been thankful for his Buzz Lightyear toy so this craft is a great way to capture the age of your child!

I love handprint activities for my children and this handprint turkey would look cute on the wall year after year.

2 Teaching Mommies has a Turkey unit with lots of fun activities.  They also have a Thanksgiving unit too that would be great as well. 

Happy Thanksgiving crafting!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Cookies

Yesterday, Buddy and I made cookies for his turn to bring snacks to school.  After they cooled, I decorated them and was pleasantly surprised at how cute they turned out.  Best of all, they were simple and easy. 
I used our Sugar Cookie recipe to make the cookies with Buddy and he helped use our turkey and leaf cookie cutters for the shapes. 
During nap time I whipped up the icing and the cookies were completely decorated in twenty minutes.  The eyes were made using those tiny ball sprinkles which was the most difficult part because they were hard to hold onto and place in the icing. 
Overall, this was a simple Thanksgiving treat and a fun snack for Buddy's class.  If I were to make more, I'd add orange colored icing for the leaves and more colors on the turkey but these were nice and simple treats.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Intentional Acts of Kindness Week 1 Wrap-up

ICanTeachMyChild.comWeek one of Acts of Intentional Kindness was an interesting way to start the month.  I am realizing how selfish I tend to be and have decided that even if my children aren't around that I am going to be more kind.  Here is a wrap-up of what Buddy and Sweetpea and I did or, at least, tried to do. 
As I mentioned last Tuesday, we started the month off by writing our World Vision child a letter.  Buddy has wanted to pray for Emous each day since he drew the picture to mail. 
Wednesday: We brought Daddy a Sonic drink to enjoy before he had youth group. 
Thursday: I was able to be a nice driver since part of one of the main streets in town is under construction.  It was sort of sweet as the lady in the other car almost didn't believe that I was waving her into the lane.
Friday: I tried to let someone go in front of me at Walmart but I'm realizing that no one wants to pass "the pregnant lady".  I tried this again in Hastings while waiting for coffee on Monday but again, no takers. 
Saturday: Jon took all of us shopping for our Operation Christmas Child box items.  Buddy and Sweetpea had a blast choosing small toys to pack. 
Sunday: This turned out to be a harder day to be intentionally kind and I didn't have anything that we did together.  But I'll try to be more prepared for next week. 
Monday:  While we were at the library for story time, Buddy shared his puzzle with a younger child.  He even helped this little girl complete the puzzle when she started to have trouble.  Because of this, he and I had a really great discussion about other ways he can show kindness without a Mommy prompt. 

I'm looking forward to seeing what this next week holds and encouraging kindness with my children!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

30 Days of Intentional Acts of Kindness

Today is the beginning of 30 Days of Intentional Acts of Kindness with your Kids.  I've been thinking for a few days about how we would start this new project with Buddy and Sweetpea.  My original plan for today had to be changed so instead I had Buddy and Sweetpea draw pictures for our child that we sponsor through World Vision. 
I have a list of about 12 ideas to start and I hope to have the chance to be spontaneous as well throughout the month.   I don't want to do our ideas in any specific order but I didn't want to have to scramble each day to come up with something new.  Here are a few of the ideas that I have for us to do this month.
  1. Write our World Vision child a letter.
  2. Pack an Operation Christmas Child box.
  3. Take a plate of goodies to our librarians.
  4. Pay for some one's fast food in the line behind us.
  5. Take mini loaves of banana bread to our neighbors.  (We still haven't met them)
  6. Be a friendlier driver.
  7. Let someone go in front of us in line at Walmart.
Buddy and Sweetpea had a great time today drawing and "writing" letters and I hope they enjoy tomorrow's idea as well.  There is still time to join in the 30 Days of Intentional Kindness with I Can Teach My Child.  If you are looking for ideas, you can check out the links at I Can Teach My Child

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ideas for November

November is right around the corner...hard to believe!  Here are a few ideas for personal growth and gratitude during the month of November. 

gratitude journalMotherhood Your Way has a Printable Gratitude Journal and several ideas on how to use it during November.  I plan on printing this out and working on having a grateful attitude.  If I can look for the things I am thankful for instead of frustrated with, then everyone in my household will be happier!  Maybe after 30 days, this will become a new habit. 

ICanTeachMyChild.comI Can Teach My Child is hosting 30 Days of Intentional Acts of Kindness With your Kids.  It is a take off the Acts of Random Kindness and, as the title states, tries to become more intentional and purposeful.  I like that these Acts of Intentional Kindness should include your children because it teaches them about how to treat others.  I hope Buddy and Sweetpea already see Jon and I being intentionally kind to others but for the 30 days of November, they will be involved as well.  Plus it will tag right back into a review of the Fruit of the Spirit for Buddy.

Since November 1st is Tuesday, I thought I would post these ideas early so that if you and your family are interested, you have a little time to prepare and plan.  Happy Early November!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Letter Recognition

Sweetpea and I are currently working on her letter recognition skills through several different activities.  The most simple and her favorite is our letter wall.  I typed up the alphabet in a pattern of colors, four letters to a sheet.  After they were printed and cut, I covered them in contact paper to hopefully make them more durable.  Sweetpea helped to hang them in our classroom area as I told her each letter. 
Today we sang the Alphabet Song several times while pointing to each letter as we sang.  Then Sweetpea pushed my hand away and proceeded to point on her own. 

 For the most part, she would point to the right letter as I sang fairly slowly.  But she was so proud of herself when we finished.

Here is a picture of our ABC wall.  It is underneath Buddy's sight words because Sweetpea has loved to pull his words off the wall in the past.  This caused lots of fussing in our household so having her own letters on the wall has actually kept her from touching Buddy's words as much. 

Our ABC wall may be simple but it is effective.  I'm confident that this will help Sweetpea begin to recognize letters quickly.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

I recently made pumpkin bread with the leftover pumpkin puree from the pumpkin scones.  I love how this bread tastes and so do Buddy and Sweetpea.  Since the pumpkin bread isn't covered in icing like the scones, I wasn't sure if they would enjoy it but they ate the slice I gave and promptly asked for more!
 I only made a half a batch of the recipe but it still made six mini loaves.  We brought some to my parents and I put the rest in the freezer to enjoy with Buddy and Sweetpea in the next few weeks. 

This recipe was given to me by a friend and I am so glad she shared it with us.  I hope you enjoy too!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Almost Christian

I recently finished reading Almost Christian:  What the Faith of our Teenagers is Telling the American Church.  I picked up this book on a whim while in our church library and then was drawn into the break down and reflection of the National Study of Youth and Religion.  Kenda Creasy Dean is the author of this book and she expounds upon the finding of the NSYR.  Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is rampant in our churches and is affecting how teenagers are growing, or rather, not growing in their faith.  Almost Christian shows us that according to this national study, our teenagers are very positive about faith in general but very apathetic when it comes to growing their own personal faith.  Dean makes the argument that this apathy is the result of the American church and the self absorbed spirituality that is rampant. 
Almost Christian contains several interesting and several very scary excerpts from the NSYR's interviews with teens.  These interviews are scary in the fact that the students interviewed can articulate their views on political and cultural issues but are very inarticulate when it comes to matters of their spiritual beliefs.  Dean lists four main traits of devoted Christian teens and they are as follows:  1) they have a personal and powerful God-story that they can articulate; (2) they belong to a community of faith; (3) they have a sense of call to live for a larger purpose; and (4) they have hope for the future promised by their faith.
This book was a very good read and a reminder to make sure that as Jon and I work with our youth that we are helping them grow and become more articulate about what they believe and why.  In the end, it is up to each student to transform their faith into a solid and growing life giving relationship with Jesus Christ.  I found Appendix B to be most interesting as this is a summary of the findings from the Nations Study of Youth and Religion.  Number Six was "The single most important influence on the religious and spiritual lives of adolescents is their parents."  So if you are raising a teenager or plan on raising a teenager solid in their faith, take a look at your own relationship with God and challenge yourself to grow!  I hope to see more parents diving into God's Word and deeper into their relationship with Christ and see how this changes the future teenagers!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

ABC Coloring Sheets

Sweetpea and I are currently focusing on letter recognition in our times while Buddy is at preschool.  Since she has a shorter attention span, I've been looking for various alphabet activities and came across Pondered in My Heart's Alphabet Coloring Pages

While the virtue words are above Sweetpea's head, she loves to color and I thought these would be perfect.  I love that the pictures focus in on a virtue and give a concrete example of how to live out that virtue.  Both Buddy and Sweetpea are coloring these pages and I plan to put them together into a construction paper book for each of them for letter review. 
I think even older children will enjoy these coloring pages and it is a great way to introduce vocabulary about various virtuous character traits.  I hope y'all enjoy these as much as we will! 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

ABC Scripture Memory Cards

I Can Teach My Child has created an ABC Printable Scripture Memory Cards set.  I printed out ours this week and love it.

It isn't really for Buddy or Sweetpea at this point but for me.  Currently, Buddy has his own list of scriptures to memorize and when he finishes those, we'll begin this set.  I love how cute the cards are and how easy it is to place in my kitchen.  By placing them in sight, I know that I'll walk past often and stop and work on my personal memorization. 
Stop by I Can Teach My Child and print your own set of ABC Scripture Cards for your family today!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pumpkin Scones

Today Buddy, Sweetpea, and I made a new recipe of pumpkin scones.  I've eyed this recipe for a week and finally took the time to make them.  I mixed together the dough during naptime and, while the scones were baking, Buddy and Sweetpea helped me make the two icings.  Yes, you read correctly, two icings! 

I gave them both a plate and they began to "paint" the scones.  Buddy enjoyed this part even though the icing wasn't green, his favorite color.

Sweetpea had a blast working by herself and she sampled every bit that landed on her hands.

I helped them drizzle the spiced icing since I made it a little too runny and these are the finished products.
Look at that happy face!

We each enjoyed a scone as dessert after supper.  I plan to make another batch and freeze the scones for easy breakfasts.  If you are looking for a yummy fall recipe, try out The Shoebox Kitchen's pumpkin scones!