Meet me in St. Louis

When my husband and I made the decision that I would be staying at home it made a significant cut in our income.  Luckily God was a few steps ahead of us and we had just signed up to take Dave Ramsey’s financial peace university where we would be introduced to a budget.  For the past few years we have been living on a pretty tight budget and working very diligently to pay off debt.  For us this has meant sacrificing some fun family trips.  Bummer.  We LOVE fun family trips.  I was thrilled when I found out that Clint had been planning a Mother’s Day weekend trip to St. Louis with my cousin and her family because we needed it.  A little vacay had been a long time coming for us and the weather was set to be beautiful.  We happen to adore this particular family we would be traveling with.  They are always a good time. Exhibit A: They show up at our door with walkie talkies; awesome right? They are the coolest aunt and uncle to my children ever. (Yes we realize that because this is my cousin, technically this couple wouldn’t qualify as an aunt and uncle but that’s how we have adopted them in our family and there they are staying in the hearts of my little ones.)  If you can’t all ride together you should definitely get walkie talkies.  We had so much fun with these.

* If you’re working on paying off debt one of my favorite parts of the vacation was that we were prepared financially.  In addition to our emergency fund, we have been saving a summer vacation fund.  So we had cash set aside for the trip.  This took so much anxiety away for me.  I wasn’t waking up each morning checking our bank account to be sure money was there. We don’t have a credit card anymore so there wasn’t even an option of using one so that temptation is gone which means there is no guilt afterward or paying for a weekend trip for 2 years.   Just know that you will get there if you keep at it! It was awesome!

Okay, I’m back…Along the way our little man got a nap in, we completed our final day of homeschool for the year (YAY!!!), we watched some Blaze and the Monster Machines and highlighted our route along the map. When we got to St. Louis it was so exciting to listen to our kids as they got their first glimpse of the Arch.  This was their first road trip to such a cool landmark.  Clint and I both looked at each other and instantly knew we made the right decision by coming.  “Mom, Dad I can’t believe my eyes!!!!!!! Give me the walkie talkie now!!!!!!”

Our first stop when we arrived in town was the St. Louis Zoo.  I had only been there once in high school and I remembered loving it.  We got there and were stuck in traffic for over an hour just to get into the zoo’s parking lot.  I decided that was the price we paid for visiting a free zoo on a Saturday…but none of us were excited or prepared  for the “opportunity” to practice our patience.  At one point we even had to take a potty break using a cup. (So is life with 3 little ones in a traffic jam) I read aloud to the girls for awhile from one of their chapter books until Clint finally decided we were good with walking a bit to the zoo.  He navigated a new route for us and we parked on a side road and found a path worth exploring.  We were all grateful to get out of the car, stretch our legs and be heading towards our destination. Once we got into the zoo we met up with our buddies and ventured out. It was the most gorgeous day, about 87 and sunny, and this zoo is landscaped and set up beautifully.  Our kids are all pretty close in age so we were able to stop and take breaks and of course get some air and cool off at the misters.  The majority of our day was spent there until a chance of severe weather forced us out.

After the zoo it was time to check into the hotel.  In my girls’ opinion, this is usually the most fun part of any trip.  As a matter of fact, if we solely spend time at a hotel, they are content.  Swimming and hanging out in a hotel room, they are cool with that.  Let it be known that earlier in the week when I was assessing my preschooler on her days of the week she told me: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, (with hands in the air) hotel party!!!  We knew that we were staying at a Drury Inn but weren’t positive which one, so we headed towards the Arch and followed the GPS on my phone but wouldn’t you know, as my hubby goes to check in and we are at the wrong one.  I’m telling you, the devil did everything in his power to attempt to ruin our trip….on the way down the van starting leaking some type of fluid…that hour wait for the zoo just about drove us nutso…we find out there are 8 Drury Inns in St. Louis…goodness!!!!!  But we hadn’t been away like I said in a few years, and we were determined to have a blast! So we found the correct address and headed for our “hotel party” 🙂 When we finally arrived, the hotel was great, our room included snacks which served as dinner for us; hot dogs, mac n cheese, nachos, salad, and free drinks, so we filled up those kiddos and headed right to the pool.  I appreciated that the pool was on the 8th floor so we didn’t have to be in the lobby in our swimming suits. I always feel awkward with my kids walking through hotel lobbies in wet swimsuits and bare feet when we are mixed amongst a wedding party or something. It just doesn’t feel appropriate. Children in wet swimmingsuits on the elevator with the maid of honor…anyway back to the point.  Also, the shallow end was 2 foot 6 inches so my girls could touch and “swim” on their own in a large section of it without floaties.  We didn’t have the chance to spend much time in them but there were 2 hot tubs! How cool is that?

We woke up the next morning, mommies and daddies drank their coffee, kids ate breakfast and got our little ladies and Coleman geared up for their first visit to the Arch!

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arch

The Old Courthouse was just down the block and that was where we needed to purchase tickets as the area surrounding the Arch was under construction. (PS if you are heading there it will be under construction until 2017 so check online before you walk down to the Arch!) Downtown St. Louis was so lively compared to the small rural town we call home. Our children were able to see people walking all over, music playing, plenty of restaurants; horse drawn carriages along the streets and experience sights and sounds that were completely new to them.  We walked along the river, squeezed into the white tram to go up the Arch and were all in awe at the craftsmanship and the view from “2 statues of liberty” tall in the air as my oldest daughter recalls.

Then we took a carriage ride downtown for lunch at Sugarfire, a DELICIOUS BBQ smokehouse. Seriously, if you are in St. Louis, you should absolutely try it out. Between the ten of us we probably had everything on the menu and it was all fantastic. There were plans in the making of heading to the museum, but it was Sunday night and we all had reality to return to, so the grownups made the unpopular decision to head back home.  About an hour into the drive back we had 3 sleeping babies…because we call our kids all babies when they sleep, they look so precious then 🙂 And it felt like Clint and I were on a road trip by ourselves.  We were able to chat the entire way home and we loved it. I told him the perfect way to end the trip would be if we could find a little hidden bakery and get some lemon meringue pie.  And wouldn’t you know, he made that happen for me?  Good man.

Home

So yummy and a fun atmosphere for kids! It was nice that they had sauce for us to take home and to go containers and bags out and available for us so we didn’t have to wait on that when we were ready.  The cheesy cauliflower was delicious! Who am I kidding, it was ALL delicious!

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We didn’t ever find a little bakery on the way home, but my hubby did secretly call ahead and find a Bob Evans…which doesn’t carry Lemon Meringue anymore, but they do carry a lemon cheesecake pie which we all came home and ate together around our kitchen table.  Perfect ending to a sweet weekend.

I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day,, more importantly, I hope you are working towards being a better mommy each day and appreciating and honoring the mothers in your life and sharing the wisdom you have with those mothers around you that need it.

“Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also and he praises her.”

Proverbs 31:28

  • If you’d like to listen to an awesome sermon on what it’s like to be a good mama, one of my friends spoke about this at our church this past week. See what she has to say!

Streaming Live!

Get out there!

I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve posted a blog! I’ve missed it.  Something big has happened in our home since I was last on my site…my daughters helped me babysit a friend’s little girl who is just one day older than my little guy who is now about 13 months old.  She came over and was walking/running all over the place.  She’s a complete doll.  Coleman was not walking yet that day.  You could say he was toddling around, maybe taking a few steps here and there, who needs to walk when you have two big sisters to do everything for you? But then he woke up the next morning and apparently he realized something.  If she can walk…why can’t I?  So our days have been a bit overwhelming with homeschool, cooking, cleaning, extra curricular activities, volunteer activities, gearing up for the race we coordinate sprinkled with saving Coleman from climbing up the stairs, unlocking our baby gate, opening the doors, sticking things into the electrical sockets, throwing toys into the toilets, poking the dogs eyes, falling off the treadmill, and too much more to list!  Man…I have never been at home full time with a one year old and it is EXHAUSTING!

 

Anyway…that was not the point of this post. The point of this post is the gorgeous weather that has made its appearance that is the happiness of my year! I absolutely LOVE spring, summer, fall.  We won’t mention the other season of the year since it is so very far away at the moment.  I love that since I’m able to be home with my children all day we have no excuse not to get out each day, and it is a huge help in combatting the stress of being a busy mommy during this season of my life! Please don’t confuse overwhelming as negative when I use it in reference to my children.  I love homeschooling and being home with my babies! Training for the half marathon a few years ago was overwhelming but completely rewarding, as I was working towards an awesome goal, same thing here 😉

A few weeks ago our entire family spent the day outside and it was fantastic.  One of the best days ever.  We even took our dogs with us and I’m sure they would agree it was pretty fantastic.  A friend of ours let us go hiking in his woods and let the doggies go for a swim.  Watching my kids walk around and explore is one of my favorite things to do.  I love seeing how their different personalities observe and what they each notice.  One of them is completely detail oriented while the other takes in the whole picture and just wants to see as much as she can.  Then we’ve got this little guy who is just excited to be out of his car seat!

 

Our family does this often during the warm weather months.  We are really blessed to have friends that own property and they let us go on adventures to spend the day wandering through it!  My husband and I would love to own some of our own one day.  I think it would be awesome to be able to homeschool in the country.  The conversations that come about on these days are the best.  Mom, how do you make a fire?  What’s that in the pond? Dad, why do all the ducks stay together? My kids just think their daddy knows everything there is to know about the wilderness and he pretty much does.  It’s really cool to watch them follow him around in the woods and ask him all sorts of questions.  Some of the things my little ladies learned this day that were nowhere to be found on a lesson plan were:

  • Streams lead to the river
  • How to identify poison ivy
  • How to stack firewood for a fire
  • That toadstools were in super Mario brothers (VERY important )
  • What ducks can and can’t eat
  • Some items that float and sink in water
  • Identifying different animal tracks
  • The woods look very different in the spring than in the fall, less leaves on the ground, the grass is bright green, buds are on the trees
  • Identifying types of fish
  • Teamwork to cross streams or get through thickets
  • Directionality

As I was writing this post I was looking up some of the benefits of outdoor play for children.  When I taught first grade and kindergarten, I literally always had a print out of these in my desk just in case I was ever questioned for taking the kids out for recess or for allowing them to have free time.  Allowing for movement is so important for little minds.  Just in case you need a little justification to get outdoors here it is.  I promise you will never find as many benefits for watching TV on your couch.

Benefits of getting outdoors for your children and yourself!

  1.  Vitamin D: So many people take Vitamin D supplements when they could simply get this naturally from the sunlight.  I have actually taken this in the winter and I do notice a difference.  But when the sunshine is there use it!  Vitamin D protects from bone diseases, diabetes and heart disease.
  2. Stress reduction: You know you need this.  Just getting outdoors for a few minutes helps reduce stress.  What’s sad is that there are so many studies showing that the busy lives parents lead really are affecting the stress levels of our children.  If we are going to take them along with us during our busy schedules the least we can do is take responsibility for their health and be sure to give them some time to de-stress.  De-stress and children just doesn’t seem like it should be in the same sentence does it?
  3. Collaborate: Do you remember playing outside as a child? Building sandcastles, working with your friends to make mud pies, playing a game of baseball in the backyard? These are the settings where kids naturally learn to problem solve.  We shouldn’t have to teach them how to do this they learn through play. This is why so many pre schools are play based.  When children play appropriately, they are amazing problem solvers.
  4. Increases attention span: Some studies have shown that children who spend more time in nature are able to focus longer and can spend time in self directed play for a longer amount of time.  They can spend more time observing and assessing situations.
  5. Sensory stimulation: It would make sense that children who play outside more often have more experience using their 5 senses than those who don’t.  They are hearing birds chirping, feeling different textures, beings exposed to different scents, and are seeing so much more than the same rooms and walls each day.  Because of this they are more aware than other children when it comes to noticing differences in these areas.

For us, this is all awesome, but honestly, we just enjoy it.  We all like to be outside and we love spending time together.  The old saying holds true, the family that plays together, stays together.  And we haven’t ever spent a day outside and wished we would have spent it sitting on the couch, it just doesn’t work that way in our home.  If it’s nice out today in your area and you have a house to clean or cooking to do, just take 20 minutes and get out there! You’ll be glad you did and your kids will be too!

Some info from :

https://www.care.com/a/5-health-benefits-of-playing-outside-131104115840

outside

If you put your mind to it…

One of my absolute favorite parts of being a stay at home mom is the amount of time I get to spend eating meals with my children.  If I’m being perfectly honest with you here, I usually don’t actually eat with my children. The truth is I’m a coffee for breakfast girl and by the time they wake up, I’ve been up for hours so I sit and chat while they eat and I feed little man, it works perfectly for us. Regardless, I’m present and in the kitchen during mealtimes.  And I love the conversations that go down during these special times of the day.  We play silly games like “Would you rather”, “What’s your favorite…anything” , “I spy”, and we are now experts at going around the table and putting all kinds of things in alphabetical order, foods, animals, names of friends, you name it.  But sometimes we just chat and I cherish that the most because you never know what is going to come up.

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The other day a topic came up that does frequently at our home, life in the country.  When we first got married, my husband and I bought a home in the country.  We genuinely loved it.  We put a lot of work into it and so did our friends and family.  We had campfires out there, hayrack rides and we talk about it often and fondly with our kids.  Our oldest daughter has quite a few memories of it and our youngest daughter (who was just 2 when we moved into town) shares along in them when we chat about our old house. Our oldest remembers going for walks down gravels roads to take our dogs swimming in the creek, our “neighbors” who lived about a mile over riding their horses down and being able to feed them apples.  I loved the sound of them coming down the road.  And all kinds of antics.  One day we came home late and there was a cow standing in the middle of our driveway that wouldn’t budge; it had gotten loose from a farm down the road, we could sit out on our porch and watch fireworks from all the surrounding rural towns, we once had a raccoon that couldn’t get down from the rafters in our building, you know normal country stuff, kids love that.  😉   The interesting part of lunch the other day wasn’t that the normal stories came up it was that I heard a new one.  The conversation went a little bit like this:

(M is my oldest, K was only 2 when we moved from our old house)

M: “Mom, remember how we used to play and hide in the pine trees at the old house?”

Me: “Yea, I loved that”

K: “Mom, remember how I was sick on my first birthday at the old house?”

Me: “Yea, that was so sad, your sister had to open your presents you were super sick”

M: “I just loved that old house when the horses would come visit us, didn’t you?”

Me: ” Yes, I did, you both loved to feed them apples, the dogs were so scared of the horses.”

K: ” I loved the old house, remember we could just put on our hunting clothes and walk out on the porch and shoot a big buck?”

Me: ” Hmmmm”

M: Making crazy eyes at me ” What Mom? K, I don’t think we did that”

K: ” Remember  when we could just walk right out into the woods from our old house?”

M: ” We didn’t have woods at our old house”

Me: ” We didn’t babe, but we did go to the woods for walks all the time, and if we ever move back out into the country we’ll move to a house where we’ll be able to walk out into the woods.”

And mom saves the day! Ha.  Isn’t it funny how she had listened to us all talk about our wonderful memories of the country so many times that she had created some of her own? I know when my daughter is lying and she genuinely wasn’t.  She had created this little schema in her mind of what her life in the country had been like.  And some of it was true and some of it wasn’t.

I got to thinking about the various goals that my friends and family have ahead of them right now.  Some are trying to lose weight, some are facing illnesses and are just trying to get through today, some are an integral part of committees working to plan events with specific goals, some are looking to the future and applying for promotions or beginning new jobs, ending a school year, prepping for the next one.  Whatever your goal may be, consider the mental imagery techniques of my 5 year old.  She has obviously placed herself on that front porch, in her camo, with her daddy.  She can picture the old wooden planks that fit together to create a porch, she has worn her hunting gear before, she knows her daddy and has been to the woods with him, she knows exactly what to do, and she can picture what she would do in order to get a big buck as she’s heard him talk about it in detail with excitement many times before. Clearly, she pays close attention when he speaks.  Mental imagery is used to help professional athletes, patients with severe anxiety, pain management, stress reduction and people working towards just about any goal and it works.  What if we could all do the same thing to meet the goals we are working towards.  What if I stopped what I was doing today just for 5 minutes to pictures myself running the lake route that I’ll be doing this May? Or teaching 2 children at home full time successfully next year?  Try to carve out some time today to imagine yourself meeting your goal.  Imagine where you will be when you get there, who will be with you? What will your surroundings be?  How will you get there?  What steps will you have taken in order to get there?  What will it feel like, look like, smell like, taste like?

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And if it’s a new goal and you aren’t sure what it will look like, do what the 5 year olds do, talk to some people who have been there, and make it up! Maybe one day my little K will be able to walk off her porch into the woods and shoot a big buck, who knows?!

 

 

I’m not a morning person

Instinctively, I am much more of a night owl than a morning person.  I can stay up late and enjoy cleaning in peace and I generally don’t get too tired for awhile.  The problem with that is, whenever I reach the point of extreme fatigue, it’s too late to just lie down and it takes some time to get my mind to slow down.  When we got married, my husband insisted that we go to bed at the same time, which we didn’t do much until we had children. Growing up my parents usually worked opposite shifts so I hadn’t ever really even thought about that as an option.  I love ending my day by chatting with him and getting to bed early is more practical for us with 3 little ones.  Which means….now I am a morning person. My little man tends to get up at about 4am and it works perfectly for me.  I’m loving his longer stretches of sleep and the fact that I’m feeling back to myself and have energy to get going in the morning.  Today has been one of those mornings that went perfectly.  Rising before my family sets a peaceful tone for the day.  I’m not rushing around or feeling lethargic and frantic all morning.  I truly feel like I’ve created more hours in the day.  For me, staying up late, I don’t accomplish nearly as much as I do when I rise early.  And I have a lot to do! I thought I’d share with you what the mornings look like around here.

  Mind you….at least half of the time this schedule is interrupted with any of the following options; baby crying, dog puked somewhere in the house, dog got into the garbage, I’m super tired and need more sleep, we don’t hear the early alarm, getting cleaning or schoolwork completed takes priority, I need to take care of something I forgot to do yesterday, our day necessitates an early morning Walmart run, and there are many other options trust me!

3:52a.m. I’m only writing exact time on this one because I clearly remember glancing at the clock and it being just a tad earlier than normal.  I hear my little guy crying (which is more like making random noises until someone hears him) and sneak out of bed to get him.  He and I play downstairs with his wheels, I feed him, get some dishes and laundry put away, and before I know it it’s 4:45 and my phone alarm is going off upstairs.  I feel bad about waking my husband to ask if I can head to the gym this morning because I know he’s been super exhausted this week.  But he gets out of bed and takes his turn with our little man.

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I just LOVE my babies’ morning faces.  It’s my favorite time of the day, they are still a bit puffy from laying on their pillows all night. So cute!!!

4:57a.m. I head to the gym, thinking “Man I wish it opened at 4:30, when I worked at a gym, I used to have to open at 4:30, I would totally go then, I wonder if they would get enough people to go then?” See my mind wakes up busy! 🙂 I do some weights, run 3 miles and get ready to go home at about 6:00. I try to win a free coffee mug by texting a local Christian radio station, no luck. I was a little extra excited today because I finally got some new workout clothes.  I hate buying clothing post baby until I feel like I’m close to the size I want to be, so it’s been a long time since I purchased anything new.  But I am loving these new shorts and the shirt!

running

I just ordered this shirt from Carrie Underwood’s line, CALIA and it’s awesome.  I’ve worn it to the gym and on runs outdoors, it’s super thin and comfy and not too short!  I told my husband I want one in every color! I also got these Nike shorts which I was hesitant about b/c I have a favorite pair of Under Armour running shorts that I have worn for years but I loved the cheetah print on these.  They are great to run in, just like my other pair!  Thick headbands are best for me.  I think the tiny ones are so much cuter, but they are often so tight that I have a terrible headache after wearing them.  And of course the Brooks.  Love my running shoes.

6:10a.m. Get in the truck to head home. Hear on the radio station they are giving away a coffee mug if you text and say what you have done this morning.  I decide to wait until I get home.  When I get home I text my morning activities so far, and receive a text back that I didn’t win (should’ve texted while driving lol) but it said God bless you for waking up with your little boy.  I thought that was nice!

6:25a.m. When I return home, my husband and son are resting on the couch.  Baby asleep, Daddy almost asleep.  I quickly make some breakfast for the hubby, put little guy back into his crib and get to take a bath! Usually this is a quick shower but I felt ambitious and wanted to attempt taking a bath.  My older girls usually wake up between 6 and 7 so I wasn’t sure if I had enough time.

Indigo Wild’s Zum line is one of my favorite items to keep in my house.  Their room sprays are awesome and a friend of mine just started working at a wellness center/spa nearby and they had these bath salts.  Perfect way to get refreshed after a workout!

http://www.indigowild.com

6:45 a.m. Just as I got out of the shower and got dressed for the day, my oldest woke up and I let her know I was working on a blog but was almost done.  By the time she came down her sister was awake and they went to check on our ducklings.  (the ducklings are for another post, ha!) By 7:00 my son is awake and they are all playing in the living room.

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Blogging time. Coffee and computer at the kitchen table. I considered cleaning this off before I took the picture but thought, nah, let’s be realistic here.  We played the ninja turtle version of “Trouble” last night and it stayed there all night. Yes, there is dirt on the table from my girls watering their live resurrection garden.  I”ll clean it up when I’m done. 🙂

7:15 a.m.I thought that would be the end of my post and I would let you know what my day would entail but nope, couldn’t be that easy.  Right about where I was adding the workout clothing pic, my little man came up to me for a hug.  I stood up and held him for a minute and realized his leg was wet.  Weird, because I had changed him before I went to the gym so I knew he hadn’t peed through his diaper in that short amount of time.  Then I smelled my arm….a blowout.  ALL down his pj’s and now on my arm.  See? I told you, it’s ALWAYS something!  So took a break from the blog for a bath for the baby while I did my hair and makeup and returned. None of us are stinky and we have our new clothes on for the day. This is why it is now 7:51a.m. and I am just finishing!

We have a busy day ahead of homeschool, a trip to a museum and visiting some family members.  I’m so thankful I woke up early and got a jumpstart on my day.  I’d love to hear any tips you have for getting yourself going in the morning or manage your time throughout the day.  Have a fantastic day, poopy diapers and all!

Lost sheep

We were fortunate to receive a 6 week Bible study to complete with our children from their Sunday School class and I’m loving the focus on following Jesus as the shepherd. ( Can I just say that the children’s ministry team at my church is FANTASTIC!)  One of my favorite verses in the Bible is John 10:27. It gives me goose bumps to read the part that says “neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand.” That’s a pretty confident statement.

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I just think it’s so profound to imagine living in this world and being able to decipher what is God’s voice. That’s a skill that needs practicing. We are being thrown messages from SO many other places.  People at work, friends, magazines, the radio, television, the internet, Facebook, blogs ;), and not many of them go along with what I think Jesus wants us to believe about ourselves or how we should live our lives.  One of the activities we have completed with this study was to blindfold the girls and see if they could follow each other’s voices in order to get to safety.  They did this pretty easily without a problem, but as I was watching them I thought about the way adults try to get through life and all the background noise that accompanies that.  Stress, physical illness, financial hardships, temptations with money, food, or anything else.

My youngest little lady is also working on the nursery rhyme “Little Bo Peep”  in homeschool.  One of her activities for the week will be creating a poster for lost sheep.  As we were working on her craft for the day, I was preparing some materials for her poster that she will be creating tomorrow and I was trying to plan some descriptive vocabulary I could give her to add to the poster to distinguish her missing sheep from one another.

sheep

Using reinforcement stickers for sheep wool

This made me start to think about how well the One who created each and every one of us would be able to create a poster for us if we were missing.  Not only could He literally add the numbers of hairs on our head and describe us using physical characteristics, He knows our hearts.  He could describe us perfectly …..

  • this sheep struggles with reading my Word
  • this sheep isn’t always completely content with what I have given them
  • this sheep doesn’t quite have their priorities straight
  • when these sheep get together, they make very bad choices
  • this sheep acts differently depending on what flock it is with
  • this sheep doesn’t even know their shepherd or care to
  • this sheep is about to leave their spouse
  • this sheep is an alcoholic
  • this sheep is looking for attention in all the wrong places from all the wrong people
  • this sheep is holding grudges

The list could go on and on.  The cool thing about it is, that He NEVER stops pursuing His sheep, no matter how far they have gone.   I can’t begin to wrap my mind around God’s grace. How frustrating is it to keep warning your child to not run on the wet floor over and over only to see them wipe out and get hurt.  We know what’s best for them if they’d only listen.  I know we don’t love thinking about our weaknesses and struggles or talking about them but as it’s the week before Easter, I encourage you to at least think about what your missing poster would look like.  Do you need to add something to your life or take some things away to make room for goals or priorities you have set?  Then, understand that regardless of what your poster says, someone is looking for you and has never stopped.  That’s pretty awesome.

lamb

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful Easter.  I’d love to hear any stories of how grace has impacted your life! I know I’m seriously working on learning my shepherd’s voice!

Time for insects!

 

Homeschool has been a bit overwhelming lately around here.  Our home is a tri-level and I have a little man who is crawling like a maniac and working on his walking skills.  His favorite past times are….crawling up the stairs and attempting to go down, emptying out all the drawers in the kitchen then taking off like a bandit, attempting to climb up onto the couch so that he can look out the window, eating dirt, poking the dogs’ eyes and also touching their teeth, loving the fact that he is just able to reach the piano keys and play then pulling the piano bench over on top of himself, and the list goes on and on.  This week he’s mastered waking up every hour to scream as his new teeth are coming in.  Needless to say, I am currently living in a busy season of mommyhood. Finally on Thursday I slept in his crib with him so I could get some sleep.  Yes, I actually did that, good thing I’m barely 5 foot 3!

coffee

 

Back to the point.  I have been blessed with 2 daughters who LOVE the outdoors and critters.  My oldest is especially interested in bugs.  (I’m not being sarcastic here, I truly find them a blessing, I wouldn’t know what to do with ladies that were disgusted by all things outside!) We have reached the point in our 1st grade Abeka curriculum for science that contains a unit on insects.  Knowing my children, I couldn’t only use the content contained in our book.  So we now find ourselves in the middle of a full blown unit on insects.  This was one of my favorite things to do as a Kindergarten teacher, follow the childrens’ interests and do somewhat of a project approach unit for as long as they wanted.  I loved integrating the theme into math, reading, science, writing, social studies, and all parts of our day.  It’s even better with homeschool as I can integrate the unit into our life when we are getting groceries, out on a walk, or just about anywhere!  This led me to Amazon to order a butterfly kit.  (You can order the same one here ) I knew my girls would be excited but had no idea how much!  Their excitement as our package arrived really made my week and made me so thankful that my family is able to explore education at home.  I’m planning on updating you on our unit but here is what we have done so far with insects!

 

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We are on week 2 of creating this map.  My 4 year old likes to made additions to it herself as you can see she wrote “SMALL”. 🙂 Each color represents a new date, blue sections contain the information we knew before beginning the unit.

I absolutely love the book “Ten Little Caterpillars” by Bill Martin Jr.  It’s a bit of an easier read than I usually would choose for first grade but the content is excellent.  The book shows several different butterflies and what they look like as caterpillars.  It also gives information on what they eat. And I just love how Lois Ehlert illustrates books and uses labels.

 

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The caterpillars we ordered should turn into painted lady butterflies.
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Containing the beast in his high chair!

And here it is the excitement! My girls love when we get packages delivered to our home and this is the one we had been waiting for.  A whole week is a long time when you are 4 and 6!  I loved that when it came the box had a tiny butterfly printed on it and a sticker letting us know we had to open it right away which was cool for the girls to read.

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The kit was well worth the money to me! It contained:

  • Spray bottle to fill with water
  • Live painted lady caterpillars
  • A hanging habitat for the live butterflies
  • An eyedropper to feed butterflies
  • 2 sugar packets
  • A brochure with a ton of info on our specific caterpillars/butterflies and directions
  • Coupon to order more butterflies
  • A worksheet on the life cycle of a butterfly

 

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My ladies got right to work on their page about the life cycle of a butterfly.  They worked together to color and I added the time frames for each stage. 

I have also been using a bug unit bundle from a blog I LOVE www.teachertothecore.blogspot.com

If you are interested in checking it out visit her site here.

I”ll try to add some updates as we move along into this unit, please share any ideas you have or activities you have used that focus on insects.  We are really enjoying the sunshine and what seems like an early spring around here. Perfect timing for this unit.  Have a fantastic weekend and thanks for reading!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here…

Here in the Midwest we seem to be having one of the mildest winters I’ve experienced in my whopping 30 years of life and I’m loving it. I am thankful we have been able to play outside longer, I can go for a run and not return with tears running down my face from the frigid wind hitting it and I’m not completely dreading every instance I have to load my 3 littles into and out of the car.  Of course my blissful winter was destroyed this week.

To me it feels like Christmas, we are snowed in (more from the cold temps than actual snow) the hubby is working plowing the roads, which has meant single mommy week for me.  You can’t take your kids out to play and nobody wants to drive in this to come help you nor would you dare asking.  “Hello, please, come drive in the blizzard so that I can have a bath without being interrupted 20 times while a little baby splashes water all over himself and cries because I won’t let him in.” Sounds kinda silly when you say it that way.

getting some good use out of our snow gear and a good friend’s fire place

I made sure I took advantage of the week and we had some fun with it. We did school laid back this week and upstairs.  Our home is a tri-level and we use our lower level for a school room, which is a bit chilly this week so we opted to stay in cozies and do school in the kitchen.  My girls cooked, we played games, and did the kinds of things we didn’t really do over our winter break….because it was more like spring.  So, I thought I’d share some of our activities and the yummy foods we made mostly for my hubby to take to work but of course he and the girls had to taste test everything! My little ladies love surprising daddy with his favorite foods when he gets home and I do too.  I’ve always loved cooking for others, and the process has become more entertaining and meaningful as I have the opportunity to share it with my daughters.

 Before you judge me based on this picture….let it be known that we completed all of our school work this day and that the public school kids had a snow day 😀 So when my girls asked to stay in pj’s all day, I absolutely answered with a yes! My ladies love using salt/sugar/sand or anything in trays to write.  I love this activity because it’s so easily modified for whatever age you are working with.  My oldest did her spelling words while my little lady practiced her shapes.  We LOVE movement in our house, so those cards on the floor are letters and special sounds from our Abeka reading curriculum.  I spread them out on the floor, called out a letter and sound and little red had to tell me the letter and sound and her big sissy did her special sounds. Then they ran them back and dropped them in our cooler. (no cute box for this activity, we used what I had available in the kitchen, and so is life with 3 kids!) Added bonus, little man practiced his crawling and dumping everything out skills.

 I can’t describe to you how much I love cooking especially with my youngest.  She’s a busy body and doesn’t slow down for much but she loves cooking and she’s good at it! She enjoys measuring and following a recipe. This week we made potato soup, a delicious cheesecake from my stepmom and monkey bread.  She looks forward to spending this time with me and I love it! 

PS- I got the monkey bread recipe from http://selfproclaimedfoodie.com/grannys-monkey-bread/ I love her site and the story behind the monkey bread, sounds pretty wonderful!

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I just had to add this picture, my husband worked 30 plus hours straight between drill and his plowing and my son is recovering from an ear infection so we both began the weekend lacking some serious sleep.  I looked over into my messy living room the other day and saw this.  I sent a text to my friend and said….”Hubby is working OT like crazy, I’m cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and trying to run a house for 5 people and then I look into my living room and see this”  Glad everyone in our family was able to relax inside during this  wintry weather!

A peek into our homeschool

I thought I’d share some pictures of what homeschool looks like for us.  Fortunately, we have a tri-level home so I’m able to use pretty much the entire basement area for our homeschool.  Being a past public school teacher, I love setting up my classroom at home 🙂  This is only our second year of homeschool and we began last year using this area as well, but the further along I progressed into my pregnancy, the more exhausting it was for me to continuously go up and down the stairs.  So we ended the year by doing school on our main level at the kitchen table.  I’m a fan of having a separate room because when I’m upstairs I tend to want to unload the dishwasher, pick up around the living room, clean the floors, or do any of the million other things I do in a day…we all can focus better in a room dedicated to school, plus it’s more fun! So here are some pictures of how I organize our school room/den.

Just imagine that horrible wood paneling is clean and white 🙂 That’s one of those projects we planned on doing a few years ago and haven’t gotten to yet!  Last year we had desks in our school room but the table is serving our purpose much better.  This way I can sit easily with the girls and they have room for their school supplies.

We keep our rules posted in the calendar area with the poems each lady is working on.  On the white board I try to keep info from whatever science/history unit we are doing.  This day I had my girls tell me what they knew about baby animals. And of course we have a seat for our little man if he needs a nap!

On my desk area I keep my lesson plans, portfolios for each of the girls and some manipulatives.  I also have a big container filled with crayons and markers if we need them.  (Each of my girls has their own pencil case as well) I gave each of my girls a cubbie area in that buffet to keep their materials in.  I keep teacher’s manuals and books in the center cubbie.  Of course there’s always coffee on the desk and nail polish remover to erase any permanent marker as needed!

One of my favorite ways to keep my little guy busy is with magnets.  His sisters love to take breaks to entertain him whenever I allow it! One of the things I love about homeschool is the activities my girls can do together like calendar time.  Each binder is differentiated for what they need but they are still able to collaborate on their weather and tally mark pages.  It’s so neat to watch my oldest teach her sister.

This is the bin I keep for my 4 year old.  My oldest is in first grade which requires a lot of diligence and one on one time with me so I try to keep activities available for miss Kealy.  I also try to make sure each day she and I have some alone time to read together. Some things I like to keep in these drawers are:

  • magnatiles
  • lacing cards
  • ABC puzzles
  • construction paper
  • glitter glue
  • wikki stix
  • play doh
  • do a dot markers
  • magnetic letters and animals
  • stamps
  • brain flakes

For my little one I absolutely cannot keep that all of these items out at once so I try to rotate every few weeks.  The top container has books that I know my first grader can read independently.  She loves adding books to this container since she is keeping a reading log for the year.

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Our little man is loving to jump right now which is fantastic during school time.  Just this week he began crawling pretty quickly so he’s becoming a bit frustrated when he’s not free to explore.  I’ve been spending A LOT of time cleaning our floors!

That’s just a peek into our daily life as homeschoolers.  However, with a little guy who is changing almost daily, you never know what it will look like!

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are children of one’s youth.  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127:3-5

Can we go to heaven today?

Yesterday was one of those days where I just woke up wanting to relax for the day; no school, no cleaning, no cooking, just sit around and watch TV (I can’t remember the last time I did that).  I had been battling this nasty sinus/cough whatever it is for a few weeks and I was exhausted, I even contemplated taking the day off from school, but I was prepared for the day and we had a test that I didn’t want to put off until Monday.  So, I decided we would start school a bit later.  I had been feeling rushed in the mornings as I was letting myself sleep in to try and heal from this cold, which led each day to begin a bit more frantically than I like it to.  I enjoy my peaceful morning time before the house is awake, and that just wasn’t my reality this week. I slowly made breakfast, had my morning coffee, put some serenity oil in my diffuser and read my Bible.  I tried to implement that peaceful time for a bit since my girls were playing wonderfully together and my little man was content cuddling me.  After I finished reading, I chatted on the phone with one of my very best friends for awhile which was well overdue.

Finally around 10:00am, we began school for the day, an hour and a half late.  We started working on a page my oldest daughter had from church that  focused on the new heaven.  The specific Bible verse this page referred to was Revelation 21:4.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning, or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Rev. 21:4

As we read this, my sweet girls thought of several people in our life right now that this would be wonderful for.  I thought of how silly this little cold I had was in the grand scheme of things. We discussed family and friends who are currently struggling with illness or sadness. And in the midst of our conversation, one of my girls said something that shocked me.  She looked right at me, with excitement in her eyes and said “Mom, can I go to heaven today?!” What innocence….if there is a place better than this, why wouldn’t we go there? Duh.  After I explained to her that she would have to pass away for that to happen (which would break Mommy’s heart) unless Jesus returned today, I thought about the hope she had and how simple she made Christianity.  To her, there is a heaven, it’s better than Earth, therefore our desire should be to make that home.  If only we all lived every day like that, going about our lives in a way that would ensure we were in heaven and all those around us were as well when the time came.  I love how this verse gives hope no matter what situation you are in, if you believe in your Creator and live the way He designed you to, all of your struggles, frustrations, heart breaks, will be over one day and you will be somewhere better.

Fall fun

One of my favorite things to do as a public school teacher was to celebrate holidays with my students.  I loved seeing their faces light up as we held a Thanksgiving Feast, had Veterans into the classroom and of course carved pumpkins.  Fall is full of holidays that are so much fun and important for children.  So of course we had to have some fun with homeschool.  We called over some of our fave ladies and had a blast!

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We started with a fun experiment using food coloring, baking soda and vinegar.  My little Kealy and I had pre-made the bags (excellent time for her to practice her shape recognition) so that we could just add the ingredients when the ladies came over.  At first the bags weren’t too exciting as we threw them in the yard, but as soon as we added more baking soda and vinegar one popped when we were least expecting it and I know the girls loved watching their mommies be as surprised as they were!

Next, pumpkin carving time! I really wanted to be sure that my Maia got some science and math activities out of this as well, so we weighed the pumpkin, measured it and discussed it a lot the next day.  I always love watching little ones’ faces when they dig into a pumpkin! We spent the rest of the afternoon preparing Halloween costumes, roasting pumpkin seeds, cuddling and laughing. It was one of those days that I knew was filled with great memories.

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Saturday morning we woke up and made some yummy jack-o-lantern pancakes.  My girls love anytime they get to use food coloring to see something change so that alone was exciting. Anytime I’m cooking my little Kealy isn’t far from me, which I love.  Cooking is something I’ve really grown fond of and I enjoy the conversations that develop when you are cooking together.  Plus, it’s awesome to work together towards a common goal and to see (and taste!) the finished product.  We made a yummy frosting with heavy whipping cream and orange zest but of course the little ladies weren’t patient enough to let it thicken which is why our jack-o-lantern’s stripes are a little runny 😉

We spent the rest of the day cleaning and decorating for our yearly Halloween get together with family.  The girls really enjoyed doing make-up as I don’t normally let them wear it so they wanted to go all out! Miss Kealy did hers almost all on her own! Pretty much what followed for the next 8 hours was candy, laughing, candy, face painting again, candy, candy, candy…..