Thursday, March 31, 2011

Decorating for Easter

Here are a few different ideas for decorating your house for spring and Easter.

This is a craft I plan on making with Buddy over the next few weeks.  I think he'll enjoy shredding crayons and watching them melt.

I also plan on making this with Buddy and love that DLTK's Growing Together has the option of black and white or colored printables.  Buddy does not always want to color but if he is in the mood for coloring, I'll print black and white, if not, pre-colored it will be.
I personally think Peeps are gross but this is a cute wreath.  It is definitely an indoor wreath though otherwise those marshmallows will not last long.

This treat box is more for spring than for Easter but I love projects with googly eyes.  It would be a cute candy holder for a kitchen cabinet.

I will be posting different spring and Easter activities over the next few weeks but I couldn't wait to share these now!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Week 12 of Reading the Bible in 90 Days

The Bible in 90 Days Participant's Guide: An Extraordinary Experience with the Word of God
So this is my final post on reading the Bible in 90 days.  I have completed my reading!  After 85 days of hard, intensive reading, I have finally read every single word of God's special revelation!  This has been an incredible journey of learning new things and rediscovering favorite passages.  It doesn't mean that I stop reading though, in fact, this challenge has helped me to become more committed to longer devotional times. 

Some of you may have noticed that this post is on a Tuesday not on the normal Monday but we had a little adventure last night.  Sweetpea has been sick since Sunday morning and last night ran 105 degrees fever and was vomiting.  She and I spent the night at the emergency room with IV antibiotics and fluids to keep her hydrated and came home early this morning.  Now when we left for the ER, I was at the beginning of 2 Peter but after waiting in a room without seeing a doctor for over two hours, I finished my reading!  Sweetpea slept in my arms while God used Scripture to keep my focus on Him and His unchanging, unflinching Love and Grace instead of the scary unknown of being in the hospital.  I definitely felt more at peace about Sweetpea's illness even while reading through Revelation and the time felt like it passed quickly.  I am so glad that I reached across the desk and grabbed my Bible before heading out the door.

It is exciting to have completed this challenge and am looking forward to doing this again in the future.  Reading in book order has definitely been fun way to read Scripture.  If you are continuing to read, press on to the end!  It is worth every sacrifice that I have made to completely read my Bible.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

100 Posts

It is hard to comprehend that this is my 100th blog post!  I thought I would do something over the top creative like several activities with Buddy using 100 different items.  Instead, I just want to say thank you to all of the people who have read, commented, and encouraged me through this process! 
I have really enjoyed writing this blog and have pushed myself to try new activities myself and with Buddy and Sweetpea because of this.  God has used this site to show me and teach me things about myself, about my family, and about life in general.  My hope is that someone has also been changed or helped through this blog, or at the very least, discovered a few yummy recipes or simple crafts. 
I am excited to keep posting new (and sometimes old) ideas that I am going to be trying out around our house in the future.  Here's to the next 100!

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Can't

"I can't, I can't!" has been a too popular phrase around our house lately from Buddy.  I have to admit there are days that I get so frustrated with him when I hear it one too many times.  The hardest part for me is that he is saying "I can't" to things that I know he can do because he has done them in the past.  While I don't know how long this phase will last, I will be glad to see more independence bloom in Buddy.

God hit me over the head this morning as I was already sighing exasperatedly at Buddy's first "I can't" of the day.  I started to grumble to Jon about how I didn't like that phrase when I could almost hear God saying, "How many times have you told me 'I can't' lately?".  Talk about conviction. 

We as adults tell our Heavenly Father all the time some form of the "I can't" phrase:
"I can't witness to that person down the street; they'll never listen."
"I can't memorize long passages of Scripture; it is just too hard."
"I can't make it to church today to worship You, I'm just too tired."
"I can't read my Bible today; there is a really cool new episode on t.v."

But Philippians 4:13 tells another story..."I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  All things is so inclusive!  When we are called to do something for the Lord, He will strengthen us and enable us to perform the tasks that He has asked of us.  I'm going to start clinging to Philippians 4:13 with the hope that the next time God asks me to do something, I respond, "Yes Lord, I can!"

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pajama Party

Last night our family had a pizza and pajama party!  It is Family Week at church which meant no activities last night so we decided to make it a special Family night.  I made a batch of the pizza dough yesterday morning then we all created personalized pizzas that night.  Buddy was able to choose his ingredients and helped to make the pizza too.  No surprise that he wanted olives (blech!) and he asked to make a smiley face.  I provided direction but Buddy placed the olive pieces where he wanted them which included a row of hair for his "pizza man".  Sweetpea also had a special small pizza made for her.  She helped pat down the dough a little but Mommy did most of the work.  Here are our finished creations!

We ate in the living room, another special treat, while watching Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.  Buddy was quite engrossed into the movie which was a different take on the classic children's book.  It was a really cute movie and made both Jon and I laugh out loud several times.

Sweetpea was not interested in the movie at all and played on the floor after dinner.  She even tried to cruise her way to Buddy's leftover pizza!

It is the fun nights like this that are my favorite evenings.  Everyone was relaxed (how can you not relax in pjs?) and we all had a great time.  Mommy wasn't fussing over vegetables uneaten, no rush to go to bed, and Buddy and Sweetpea had lots of snuggle time.  Every family should stop once and a while and have pajama parties.  I love how such a simple thing can bring us closer together as a family!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Learning about Money

Buddy has a fascination with money and recently found my money set from when I taught school.  He has asked to play with it several times and I've let him just explore the different pieces.  Today, I decided to be a little more structured.  Buddy is still learning to identify the different coins and so we did a sorting activity.  I put a handful of the coins on the coffee table and pulled out one coin of each variety to make a row. 

I then asked Buddy to sort the coins and group them together.  I would name each coin that he would pick up, quarter, dime, etc.  After about three coins of each type, he was able to identify them correctly most of the time.  Obviously, pennies are the easiest and were his first choice.  In hindsight, I would have not used the dollar coins and half-dollar coins since they are not as prevalent in circulation and would have stuck with the basic coins.

 Buddy had a fun morning of sorting the coins several different times. 

After Buddy said he was done sorting the money, I grabbed his hundreds chart and explained that there are 100 pennies in a dollar.  We found a paper dollar and put that at the top of the chart.  After I showed Buddy how, he would place a penny on each number as he counted.  He made it all the way to 100 even though the pennies were sliding all over the place.
If you are interested in play money sets, there are several options.  I have the Eureka Tub of Money and I liked how easy it is to store. 
Eureka Tub Of Money, 318 Pieces in 3 3/4" x 5 1/2" x 3 3/4" Tub

Melissa and Doug Play Money set looks like a cash register drawer which could also be used for imaginative play. 
\Melissa & Doug Play Money Set

The Learning Journey Kids Bank Play Money Set

Enjoy teaching your children not only how to count and recognize money, but I encourage you to take it even one step further and teach them how to be good stewards of the money God has given them!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rag Wreath

Ever since I first saw the Valentine's Wreath from Beautiful Feet, Beautiful Me, I have been wanting to make a rag wreath for our door.  I finally sat down this weekend and started it.  Now those of you who know me, know that I am NOT the craftiest person in the world.  I started making a circle and realized how incredibly hard it is to draw a perfect circle so instead I made an oval.  It still isn't perfect but I'm okay with that. 
Thanks to the scrap bin at the store, I was able to find three cute fabrics and cut them into strips.  Again, notice that I'm not the world's best crafter as my lines are definitely not straight.  That is why I loved this is very forgiving of mistakes!

After tying all of the fabric onto the cardboard oval, this was the final result!

A close up of the knots...I like the way they look braided.

Or you can flip the wreath over for a different look.

If I were to do anything over again, I would buy fabric with the design on both sides.  All in all, I was really pleased with the look of my completed wreath!  The best part is, this kind of wreath can be made with any type of fabric for any holiday.  This is a very easy, versatile, and cheap way to make your house a little more colorful!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Week 11 of Reading the Bible in 90 Days

The Bible in 90 Days Participant's Guide: An Extraordinary Experience with the Word of God
Wow!  During week 11 of reading the Bible in 90 days, I finished all four gospels and began in Acts yesterday.  It was so exciting to read each Gospel and to hear the different viewpoints of the same event.  I am actually about half a day ahead in my readings because I can't seem to make myself stop, which is a very good thing!
In church yesterday, our pastor's message was out of John 17, which I had just read on Saturday so it was neat to hear a great message from where I was currently reading.

As I read through the Gospels and the beginning of Acts, I have realized how many prophecies are fulfilled and how many times the Old Testament is quoted by Jesus and the disciples.  Jesus' life, ministry, death, and resurrection is powerful every time I would read each passage.  It just saddened me how few people understood who Jesus was and how the religious rulers completely missed the boat.  Even the disciples at times were completely dense, which I have to admit, makes me feel better about myself.  Although, I do have the advantage of knowing the entire story as it unfolds while they were living out each moment.  If I were to finish with the schedule, there is only one and a half weeks of reading left but I hope to finish by the end of this week!  It would be awesome to finish early.  If you are reading as well, even if you got a late start, let me know how you are doing.  Stay strong and keep reading!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Banana Nut Bread

I recently discovered the wonderful substitution of applesauce for butter and have been wanting to try it out in different recipes.  Today, Sweetpea and I (yes, Sweetpea) made Banana Nut Bread.  I held her and talked her through each step as we made the bread together.  She was completely fascinated!  After dinner, we all tried a piece and I could not tell a difference between my normal banana bread and this recipe.  Sweetpea ate her entire piece and wanted some more.  Here is the awesome recipe:

Banana Nut Bread
2 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
3 ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Lightly whisk eggs in bowl then add in the applesauce, bananas, and vanilla.  Blend together until bananas are mushed.  Combine flour, sugar, and baking soda in another bowl.  Fold in the dry ingredients until batter is completely mixed.  Do not over-mix.  Stir in nuts.  Pour batter into a greased and floured loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Loosen the edges with a knife and let completely cool on a wire rack.  (Bread may be frozen for up to 2 months)

I love banana bread and by using the applesauce instead of butter, the bread becomes just a little bit healthier to eat.  I hope y'all enjoy as much as our family has!

Friday, March 18, 2011


Frugal -- economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful (as defined by  In order to be a stay at home mom, frugality has to be a huge part in our family's life and, if I was honest, is probably my natural instinct.  My parents love to tell the story of how they sent me, a freshman, on a week long choir trip with spending money and I came home with more money than I was sent with and had souvenirs and receipts for everything.  Now the choir tour was one of those trips that had the food budgeted into the cost.  The chaperons would give us $5 to $10 depending on the restaurant and I never needed all of my money for food, hence the reason I had extra left over.  But as I've grown up, I've still gravitated towards being a saver and, especially now that I am a parent, being frugal tends to be an automatic reaction.
Today, we took a spontaneous family shopping trip because Buddy and Sweetpea needed clothes for spring and summer.  We were able to hit a few sales and clearance racks for their play clothes but then it was time to shop for Easter outfits.  I love to have new outfits for all of the family for holidays because it makes times like Easter and Christmas even more special in my mind.  This will be Sweetpea's second Easter but her first "real" one since last year she was still in the NICU and was only wearing diapers.  I've really been looking forward to buying her an Easter dress and having cute family photos taken so I was excited to shop.  After looking through all of the store, I chose an adorable dress and looked at the price tag and almost choked at how expensive it was.  I decided to put it back and try another store.  The next store had an even more adorable dress but I still felt like it was out of my price range.  Jon noticed what I was doing and quickly pulled me aside.  He then reminded me that we didn't have to be stingy but could afford to buy an outfit that was not on sale especially for church.  We bought the dress and a cute suit for Buddy to wear as well.
Stingy -- reluctant to give or spend; not generous (  Ouch, what a difference in definitions.  I had taken frugality a little too far and was acting stingy.  There is a fine balance between being frugal, a good steward of money, and stingy, hoarding money.  While I do think there is a time and place to saving money on food or clothes, I think it all comes down towards my attitude.  Examining my heart response to parting with money is essential in determining the difference and I had to admit, today, I was being stingy. 
Frugality is clipping a coupon for an item I will purchase, eating meals at home, and making home cleaning supplies.  Frugality isn't hating to pay full price for something or driving myself crazy to find a bargain.  While I do still want to be frugal, I do not want to be stingy. 
As adults, let us all examine our hearts and determine if we are being stingy with the money God has blessed us with or if we are being frugal.  Are there times that you've noticed yourself being stingy and how are you frugal with your money?  I'd love to know that I'm not alone in this struggle!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hundreds Chart

Today I printed a Hundreds Chart for Buddy and as you can see from this photo, he is really excited.  And yes, I just realized the chart is upside down but his enthusiasm counts!  I love using a hundreds chart for many different activities but this chart is going to be used to help Buddy with his counting.  Currently he can count to 29 but he wants to say "twenty-ten" instead of 30.  I know that a hundreds chart will help him better understand the concept of groups of tens and learn his numbers. 
Together we counted to 30 and I pointed out 30, 40, 50, etc. on the chart.  Buddy then counted all the way to 50 without a mistake!  I had hoped to have him color each line a different color to help the different groups of ten stand out but he was not interested in coloring.  We'll try the coloring again tomorrow.  I know that hundreds charts are going to be prevalent in our home as Buddy and Sweetpea learn their numbers and basic math skills in the future.
This same chart can be used to help children understand many math concepts from skip counting, addition and subtraction, to patterns, and more.  Here are a few websites with ideas for using a hundreds chart with all age levels. 

Counting to 100: Math Activities for First Graders 

Interactive 100's Chart  (a fun online game)

20+ Things to Do with a Hundreds Chart 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Deuteronomy 6:5

For the past two weeks, Buddy's memory verse has been Deuteronomy 6:5, You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."  He has had a little trouble with the repeating words of "with all" because he'd rather just list everything at one time.  Also surprisingly, when I went to search for activities to go along with this verse, there were very few.  So I kept our weeks fairly simple. 
To help Buddy keep the order of heart, soul, and strength, we would do motions of pointing at our heart, drawing a cross on our chest, and then making muscles with our arms while saying the verse.  He loves doing these motions, especially the muscles!
I also surprised him one morning and on his easel I drew a heart, a cross, and my interpretation of a stick figure flexing muscles...I am not an artist so Buddy had to use his imagination for the last one and hence the reason for no demonstration photo.  He used different color dry erase markers to color in each shape while we repeated the verse together.  We've mainly just repeated the verse to one another and Buddy thinks that it is funny to cheer for Mommy when I say the verse correctly. 
I tried to have Buddy say this verse on video but right now he is refusing and I don't want to make saying Scripture too forced so maybe in the future I'll upload a video. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Week 10 of Reading the Bible in 90 Days

The Bible in 90 Days Participant's Guide: An Extraordinary Experience with the Word of God
I am officially into the New Testament this week and completely caught up on my readings.  This week started out a little tough with the Old Testament prophets but ended with the completion of Matthew.  The reading schedule put into perspective how much of the Bible is actually Old Testament.  I know too many Christians tend to ignore the Old and just focus on the New Testament but every word is in our Bible for a reason.  I do have to admit that I was glad to read through the prophets because that is a section I've tended to avoid.  After reading through them, I have decided that when this challenge is completed, I would like to do a more in-depth study of the prophecies and of the history of Israel. 
As I crossed into the New Testament on Friday, I couldn't help but inwardly cheer because I had completed the "harder" sections for me.  While reading in Matthew, it was exciting to see the prophecies that I had just read earlier in the week be fulfilled by the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  There are 2 1/2 weeks left on the reading schedule and I am looking forward to finally being able to say that I have read every single word in God's Word!  If you are just starting out, or had a later start, stay strong and read to the end!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Melissa and Doug Clock

One of our family's favorite toys is the Melissa and Doug Wooden Shape Sorting Clock that was given to Buddy when he was about 19 months old.  I've used this clock to help teach colors, numbers, shapes, and now how to tell time.  Recently, Buddy and I have been working on how to identify the hours of the day.  We've been working on learning that the minute hand goes on 12 and the hour hand goes on the number of the hour.  Buddy announced this afternoon that it was 7 o'clock and he had positioned the hands correctly.  I cheered for him then announced "7 o'clock means time to get ready for bed!"  He quickly moved the hands and then proclaimed, "Oh wait, it is only 6 o'clock!".  Buddy's quick wit amazes me most days. 
Sweetpea also loves playing with the clock but we're still focusing on color and shape recognition.  Her favorite thing to do right now is to pull the number pieces out of the clock and spread them around the house.  But that is okay and we still talk about what color and shape piece is in her hands.  While playing with the clock, I also tell her the numbers for the pieces, if they are facing her, as well because you never know what a child is learning.  Buddy was able to recognize the difference between octagons and hexagons by 21 months thanks to this shape clock!  All in all, I love this Melissa & Doug toy and the Shape Sorting Clock will stay in our toy box for a long time. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

My Children are not an Excuse

I was thinking the other day about how many times I have observed parents using their children as an excuse to not do something or how many times I've done the same exact thing with Buddy or Sweetpea.  I couldn't help but think, "my children are not an excuse!". 
Our goal as parents should be to fit our children into our lives and the ministry that God has called us to, not to revolve our lives around our children and their activities.  One of the most frustrating "excuses" I hear for someone not coming to Wednesday night or Sunday night church is, "It ends too late for my children".  I am a pretty stern stickler for bedtimes most nights but on Sunday and Wednesday nights, Sweetpea and Buddy's bedtimes are a little later.  I will not, cannot, and should not let bedtime interfere with going to church.  Even though sleep is important for children, learning that worshiping God comes first and foremost, regardless of the cost, is a much greater lesson in life.  Buddy knows that Sundays and Wednesdays are "church days" and we prepare accordingly.  I try to have our laundry finished for the week by Saturday night because it makes Sunday a day of rest (or Sabbath ~ A commandment, not suggestion!) even more so.  We also plan quick and easy meals for those days, that way the kids can go to bed quickly when we get home.
I may be stepping on some toes but I think that as parents raising children in a culture that prides itself on being busy, overworked and under-appreciated, we need to be even more involved in our local churches and start serving as an example of Matthew 6:33 or seek first God's kingdom and righteousness and He will set your life straight (Jon's paraphrased translation).  Instead of using young children as a reason not to serve, our children can serve right along with us and learn valuable lessons in the process.  For example, in the past, Jon and I both served on the praise team and there were early morning practices that Buddy attended with us.  Yes, it meant waking him up early and bringing breakfast and lots of toys to play with; but he now sings dozens of hymns and praise songs (from memory) that I know he first heard us sing in rehearsal.  I also know that there were blessings that I would have missed out on (Moses anyone?!?!) if I had chosen the "easier" route and stayed home with Buddy. 
As parents, let us set the example for our children of Godly priorities and stop using them as a reason to not be involved in our local churches!  Ephesians 4 reminds us that we need to be found worthy of the holy call that God has placed on our life.  Maybe our worthy walk should start with this.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Redeeming Love

Redeeming LoveRedeeming Love by Francine Rivers is one of the best fiction books that I have ever read and re-read.  Since first reading this book while in high school, I think I've read it about six times and could hardly put it down each time.  The book is somewhat of the story of Hosea from the Bible and deals with serious content and God's great love for us.
The book revolves around Michael Hosea, a sold-out Christian, and Angel, a prostitute.  Michael hears God's voice in that Angel is the one to be his wife and follows God's leading.  Even as Angel feels herself falling in love with Michael, she pushes him away for fear that she will completely fall apart.  Even though she tries several different tactics to push him away, Michael shows her nothing but true love.  I'm not going to give away the entire storyline so I'll stop here but this is an awesome book to read. 
I am struck each time I read this of how God loves us even when we feel we don't deserve love or when we try to earn love.  The emotions that Francine Rivers is able to portray through her characters are so real and transparent and I cannot think of a better fictional portrayal of God's constant love.  Even the love that Michael Hosea demonstrates as a husband, is a great example of how marriage is for better or worse.  In a culture of divorce, people forget that as husbands and wives, we are called to love our spouse now matter what.  "1 Corinthians 13" love is demonstrated in the way that Michael treats Angel.   Redeeming Love challenges me to rethink about my relationship with God and how I desire to be completely faithful to Him.