Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Recap

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Kelli at There's No Place Like Home is hosting a fun blogger's recap of 2008 - just post the first sentence of the first blog post from each month this past year. Here's my little sum-up of our year. Each title is a link to the actual post itself (and I only cheated on one...because the other one, well - I only cheated once. And if you need to know which one...well, you'd best start digging through my archives, 'cause I'm not tellin'!

January: Fritzy Computer

Our laptop is having issues again...and will hopefully get fixed this time for good.

February: Playing Games

Today's assignment is pretty straightforward. Play a game with your kiddos...or your hubby...or someone!!

March: Lockdown

A certain 3 year-old is all around, and he is into everything. And by everything, I mean EVERYTHING.

April: Don't Shoot

A note for the record: My children do not get any part of their personalities from me. At all. They are all mini-Ricks. Not one single ounce can be attributed to me. *grins*

May: Mostly Strange

Why is it that a vehicle can be annoyingly choosy as to who it "acts up" to? Can you explain that to me?

June: Just in Time

This arrived in our mailbox today - not the book, but the dvd set. (And just for the record, I've neither read nor watched it since June...sigh).

July: The Chicken and the Egg

I am so avoiding "that talk" with my kids.

August: Speaking With an Accent

Over the last month, I've been reading The Secret Garden to the girls. (This was a post for Tiny Talk Tuesday)

September: Ocean Animals That Amaze

If you haven't seen this video on ocean life with David Gallo, click and watch.

October: Nature Belongs Just There...In Nature

The other morning I woke up to the sound of crickets and snuggled deep under my covers, loving the sounds of nature.

November: Things I Never Thought I Would Hear

"Sorry, Mom. I didn't mean to glue the girl's bedspread to their bed."

December: The Things We Can't See

The devotional we're using for the girls has been talking about "the things we can't see".

Just Reminding You All...

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***I know. I know. It's a repost. But ladies. Seriously. JANUARY is tomorrow!! So this is a friendly reminder - because Tupperware Modular Mates are 40% off this month. And if you happen to live near me...well, you know it would probably thrill me to help you figure out your cupboards and make them all fit nice-like!***

Kitchen cupboards can be scary places, because sometimes you never know what might be lurking in the depths.

I speak this from experience and am referring to the time that I discovered all my leftover Easter candy (my hidden stash, mind you) was being devoured by a sneaky little "friend".

And he was rude enough to leave the wrappers behind to taunt me.

I had the opportunity to meet him face to face one evening when I opened up my cupboard. He didn't stick around for introductions and a few nights later he was evicted.

That incident, however, brought my cupboards to where I am today. The thought of little mouse feet scampering through my food and hard-earned candy pushed me into Tupperware Modular Mates. And before you click away, thinking "too EXPENSIVE!!" hear me out - cause I'm about to give you a lovely tip.

JANUARY means 40% off Modular Mates!! Specials galore - and it's definitely the time to buy them!! I've gotten mine in spurts over the years for both my cupboards and my freezer and LOVE them - because everything has a place (well, except the peanut butter and such).

To give you an idea of how the cupboards look, here are some pictures of my cupboards and my freezer (different containers in the freezer, but by Tupperware too).

Here's the nutshell of how they work: there are 5 sizes of containers, and they all work together in their sizes. For example, a #4 container is the same heighth as a #1 plus a #3 stacked on top of each other. That allows you to use different size containers based on the type of item you need to put inside. I have a few containers that contain a hodge-podge of things (chocolate chips, shortening, etcc) and have it labeled: Baking Things.

My freezer also has containers and it makes it SO much easier to find things (or direct others where to find them). My biggest suggestion would be - label everything you put into ziploc bags or containers. You might think you'll remember what it is, but a few months later you'll be staring at a mystery something-or-other and scratching your head. I've even gone so far as to label the shelves above my pull-out drawers in the freezer to remember what is in the drawers.

If you happen to live near me and want to take advantage of my sickness passion for organizing, let me know and I'll have fun measuring out your cupboards and will even find a labeler...I've done it before and I'd do it again!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I Don't Hab It!

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Kaleb has been chatting up a storm around these parts and although I know Mary isn't hosting Tiny Talk Tuesday this week (sigh) I am still going to post a little video clip, because this little man is just too.stinkin.cute to pass up!

Kaleb has suddenly started saying the funniest phrases and has little mannerisms that go along with the phrases make me laugh out loud every time he does them.

And now he KNOWS he's cute.

We asked him the other day where his socks were (since he keeps taking them off) and he held his little hands up in the air and said, "I don't hab it". Later when he found a jacket we were looking for, he ran to Rick and yelled, "I gots it!"

Now the kids think it's hysterical so all day long they keep asking him questions they know he can't answer, just to hear him. Over and over again.

Here's a little clip of the bug hamming it up for the camera (along with all the loud and laughing children in the background).

And don't forget to stop by Mary's anyway!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Christmas to Remember

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Past Christmas celebrations have all been fun and filled with memories, but this year's time together has really been the most memorable to me.

Not because of all the gifts (although those were nice too), but all the little things. New traditions that will be around for years to come. The little things that made me laugh and even cry.

The week prior to Christmas Rick and I helped the kids write letters to each other and everyone else in the family. It came from a post I found last year from An Ordinary Mom on stocking stuffers. The letters were all "top secret" and I put them into everyone's stockings Christmas Eve after Rick and I sat down and wrote a letter to each of the kids also.

Christmas morning, after we had a yummy breakfast, read the last devotion from Jotham's Journey and read from Luke 2, the kids sat down to read all the notes and letters in their stockings.

And really it was the sweetest (and funniest) thing to read some of the notes they wrote to each other.

"Kaleb, I love you because you are cute, cute, cute!" Laurianna

"Thank you for hugging me when McKenna hits me." Zachary

Laurianna had worked especially hard on a gift for me (after we said we didn't want her spending money on gifts for us) and made me a special necklace one day. She made 6 paper beads and laced them onto a yarn necklace. Six beads since there were six of us in the family. And it was wrapped ever-so-sweetly too. A little necklace that now has a special place in my jewelry box.

But the one that just brought tears to my eyes was a handmade gift from Laurianna to McKenna. One that she had obviously put time and thought into and been planning for awhile. During her co-op time while learning how to sew and stitch, she made her first "cross stitch" for McKenna.

One that I will be keeping around for years to come.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Quick Christmas Recap

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Christmas Day has come and gone and along with it, there was...

...a whole lot of this...

...quite a few of these...

...a lot of energy released...

...a little bit of mischief....

...and the element of surprise!

A very fun day for everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On My Nightstand

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What's On Your Nightstand

Since the Fall Into Reading Challenge is over, I figured that I would try to keep myself a little motivated in the reading department.

Maybe shut the computer down a little earlier every night *gasp* and curl up under a nice warm blanket and read a book (or two).

5 Minutes for Books hosts a monthly meme called "What's on Your Nightstand?" so here's what is currently next to my bed...and more than likely I'll be changing it over every Saturday, since fiction seems to fly off it faster than it's counterpart.

And perhaps a visual might be a little more motivation for me to actually move some of the books. While I'm at it, I might as well post the view of inside my nightstand drawer. I have such high, high hopes. :)

But sitting on my nightstand here is the current stack.

And in case those eyes of yours are having a difficult time figuring out what is in the stack, here's the quick rundown:

  • In the Company of Cheerful Ladies - McCall Smith
  • Finding Favor with the King: Daily Inspirations- Tenney
  • Cranford - Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Finding Favor with the King - Tenney
  • Skydiving for Parents - Bullivant

Time to read!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What's in the Box?

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Laurianna was fascinated the other day with how matches burn. Usually we use the little "clicker" to light a candle.

Because matches + Zachary = Not a good plan.

The matches started a whole realm of questions on how the match lights, what makes it burn, etc...and I tried to explain it the best that I could.

The girls seemed to understand, but Zachary got this far-away look in his eyes and said, "Or maybe....a dragon lives in the box."

Yep. That'll do it every time.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fall Into Reading: The Results

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The Fall Into Reading Challenge is over and I'm posting my results today. Sadly, all my ambitions to read every parenting non-fiction book I own met a sad end. Fiction, well, that's always another story. Here is my original list of books that I wanted to read.

Did you finish reading all the books on your fall reading list? If not, why?

On my non-fiction list I did actually read and fully complete one book. One. Uno. And that book was wonderful! How to Be a God Chaser and a Kid Chaser by Tommy Tenney. It's because I liked the book so much that I became distracted from the rest of my non-fiction list and bought/swapped to get a few other books by Tenney which I am in the middle of reading and thoroughly enjoying: Finding Favor with the King. One is a daily devotional and the other a book based on the story of Queen Esther.

My fiction list fared extremely well and there were several books that were even added to the list. While I didn't finish reading one of the books (I did start it....) I found at least five other books (which I forgot to record) and then re-read several of my old one too. What can I say?

My non-fiction list:

Professionalizing Motherhood by Jill Savage
Skydiving for Parents by Jane Bullivant (about 1/2 done)
Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
Rivers of Grace by Mark and Patti Virkler
Have a New Kid by Friday by Dr. Kevin Lehman (one chapter)
How to Be a God Chaser and a Kid Chaser by Tommy Tenny
Dreaming with God by Bill Johnson
Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver
The New Strong-Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson

My fiction list:

Sunset by Karen Kingsbury
The Shack by William Young
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (about 1/2 finished)
A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks
The Longing by Beverly Lewis
A Lady of Hidden Intent by Traci Peterson
A Daughter's Inheritance and An Unexpected Love by Judith Miller/Traci Peterson

Why didn't I finish all my books?

I mentioned in my first post that fiction books are very hard for me to read. I think it's mainly due to the fact that it requires my undivided attention. Something that is extremely difficult for me. Generally the non-fiction books I read have to be done in small chunks because they require processing and if I have to put a book down....well, I get sidetracked.

Did you stick to your original goals or did you change your list as you went along?

I printed off my list of goals, but I did add several books to my fiction list and definitely changed my non-fiction list. I still want to read the multitude of parenting books on my list. Someday.

And my goals of rewarding myself with a fiction book when I finished a non-fiction...well, let's just pretend I got sucked into the fiction realm and not that I lack self-discipline, k?

What was your favorite book that you read this fall? Least favorite? Why?

Favorite non-fiction is the one I still reading: Finding Favor with the King. I love the story of Queen Esther and how Tenney relates our lives as Christians to the life of Queen Esther.

Favorite fiction: The Shack by William Young, a book I'm going to have to re-read because it was chocked full of things that I am still processing. I have pages earmarked and places underlined because of some of the thoughts and ideas he presents in the book. Loved it!

My other favorites were the series I started by Judith Miller/Traci Peterson. Although that also leads me to frustration since there is still a third book in the series. They are historical fiction and I love period fiction. :)

My least favorite was Cranford. I am still reading this, so perhaps it will pick up a little, but I'm just having trouble finishing it up (and shhhh! I think I'll be watching the movie and be okay with this one).

Did you learn something new because of the Fall Into Reading challenge?—something about reading, or yourself, or a topic you read about?

Pushing myself and setting a goal for myself was great because I was determined to read something on that fiction list and through reading at least one, I found the two books that I am reading and loving now.

What was your favorite thing about the Fall Into Reading challenge?

Meeting new bloggers and seeing the books and suggestions on everyone else's blogs. I didn't end up reviewing any of the books (although I might do one in the future on some that I'm still reading). But...definitely reading other's blogs and meeting you all!

Check out how everyone else fared during the challenge by visiting Katrina's blog Callapidder Day's.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Kid's Winter Reading Challenge

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Winter starts tomorrow and so our fall reading challenge with the kids is wrapping up today. The kids still think they have 5 more books to read so they are scrambling around reading to each other.

Truthfully, they have probably read more than enough books and it's probably due to my lack of recording their reading - but I'm not complaining! They've been cuddling up on the couch with each other and reading books to anyone who will listen.

They asked what the winter reading chart is going to look like, so I pulled one together last night and it's posted below in case you are interested in using it with your kids.

I'm hoping to get my Fall Reading challenge list posted tonight or tomorrow and report in on my success (or lack thereof) in checking off books on my list.
Winter Reading Challenge

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Letter to My Husband

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Dear Rick,

Before I go any further I would like to say a HUGE thank you for being so willing to let me go out tonight and have a "girl's night out" with the group. I appreciate it ever so much. And even though I was not at home, I did try to remain available at all times (via cell phone) should any problems arise.

That said (and in my defense) I was only trying to be extra-conscientious when out and about in making sure my cell phone was handy at all times.

And after bearing you four beautiful children, my bladder can only take so many glasses of iced tea (and maybe a glass or two of wine) before certain things become...well, necessary.

The good news is the toilet had just been cleaned. The bad news is the cell phone didn't really care, it still just jumped in (ok, jumped may be a little strong, but I can say it definitely wasn't pushed).

The good news is I hadn't gone to the bathroom yet. The bad news is it still fell in the toilet.

The good news is I worked diligently for the rest of the night shaking out any excess water.
The bad news is EWWWWW!!

The good news is the phone still is powering up, dialing, and seems to be working (you might notice a call on your voice mail at work as a test run). The bad news is that certain numbers seem to want to dial themselves along with a few we may have to either get that fixed (or find friends with different phone numbers).

Or...since you just got a new phone perhaps you might consider one for your lovely wife. Because you know that everytime you need to use it from now on you might want to remember where it has been.

I'm just sayin'.

I love you!

I Love You As Much As...

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Yesterday Zachary climbed up in my lap and put his little face right in front of mine and asked me, "Mom, do you love me when I toot?"

That, dear friends, is a loaded question.

"Yes. I love you even when you toot."

"Good. Because I just tooted." And - yes, he did.

And then McKenna pipes up from the other side of the room, "Zachary, I love you as much as you toot and stink - and that is A LOT!."


Monday, December 15, 2008

Please Check Under Your Chairs

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Yesterday morning as I was driving Zachary and a friend's son to preschool and listening in on their conversation, I was scrambling for paper to record their words.

Because 4 year old's get deep like that.

They started off with a rousing round of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" (complete with wild and crazy hand motions) and then were quick to let me know "We're not singing our special song for the Christmas program (wink, wink)."

Then the banter started back and forth innocently enough - quickly becoming a "I can one-up" you deal.

Although I don't think I'm all that proud of all my son can do.

Silas: I can buckle my own seatbelt.

Zachary: Remember, I kill spiders at home.

Silas: (in a hushed voice) I know where boogies come from...your NOSE!

Zachary: I pick my nose and put my boogies under chairs. Or on windows sometimes.

Just in case we've been over your house recently, you might want to check under your chairs. You know I will be at our house.

Be sure to head over to Mary's at Not Before 7 for some more (less-gross) Tiny Talk Tuesday.

If Your Kids Still Believe in Santa...

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Zachary might not be the best one to let your kids hang out with, specifically if you are trying to keep the whole "Santa" thing alive and well with your kids.

And my heartfelt apologies to any of the parents in his preschool class if he sent your child home in tears last week, shattering their Christmas dreams of Santa.

The teachers sat down with the kids to make Christmas cards for the parents and asked the kids what they wanted to write inside the card. This was mine:
Thanks Mom for all the presents. I know that there isn't a Santa. Love, Zachary

Thursday, December 11, 2008

One Man's Trash...

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***A preface to this post. If you are in my small group and you were not with me while shopping for these gifts, it is time to shut your internet browser down or spend time visiting some other sites. Otherwise, I will not be held responsible for completely spoiling the surprise of which gifts are mine. ***

This is one of my favorite times of the year. Parties, cookies, little plates crammed with too much food and white elephant gift exchanges. The time I can give completely useless and bizarre gifts and not feel one iota of guilt. And listen to all the laughter as all the other pitiful gifts are opened too. It's a sweet sound, it is.

This Saturday kicks off the first (of hopefully many) parties where we have to sneak in with our wonderfully-thought-out, tacky, tacky, tacky gifts.

And pray that no one is offended because they have the same item at home on their mantle.

I took a trip to the capital of the white elephant gift kingdom (my local Salvation Army) a few days ago and happened upon some lovely items. One of the ladies (who is going to the same party) was also there and we talked a little about that fine line between tacky gifts and "This is the most beautiful thing I've seen!" gifts.

We both took a little tour around the store and got in line to pay for our gifts, admiring each other's choices.

Then we got to the cashier and so began what seemed like a 5 minute period of the sheer loveliness of one of the items. Well, at least that's what it felt like since I was getting kicked in the shin while my friend held one of the best poker faces I've seen. She held it all together amazingly when the cashier held the item in front of her, looked at it with adoration and said, "I just think their faces are so beautiful!"

And I tried not to pee my pants holding in the laughter.

I made my purchases and laughed all the way out to my van thinking of the phrase "One man's trash is another man's treasure." A point which was even further hit home the moment I walked in the door carrying this little beauty.

I was met with SQUEALS of delight from my children and my mom's comment, "Oh - I had one of those too, except mine was a little smaller!"

It will not be staying in my house though. Sorry kids. And neither will this precious little bunny, despite it's fluffy, little cotton tail and basket full of babies.

Apparently someone finally decided that these little blue eyes just weren't for them anymore...and now they will be gracing the house of some other unfortunate person.

Courtesy of moi!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Some Prayer Needed

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My friend Crystal and her family would really appreciate your prayers right now. Her dad had surgery right after Thanksgiving and has been having some problems since. Today they found out that he has an infection in his blood and tests are still out to see what is causing all the problems/infection.

She is on her way to the hospital with all of her kids and will be traveling the next two days. Please pray for safe travel for them and a FULL healing of her Dad. You can read more on her blog, Birth of a Midwife.

Wordless Wednesday: Decorating the Tree

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Little Man in the Map: Teaching the States

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If I had to name and place all 50 states I could do an ok job at it...those midwest and northwestern states sometimes throw me for a loop, and I am determined that my kids will do better where I am lacking.

We've been using a book called The Little Man in the Map published by Schoolside Press with our girls to help us along with this project...and I'm hoping that I will pick up a few tips along the way.

The Little Man in the Map uses rhymed verses to help teach the kids the various states. There are handy little "memory clues" throughout the book to help recall how the various states are located. The map is broken up into five sections: Northeastern, Southeastern, Midwestern, South Central, and Western States, starting with the Midwestern and the Little Man. Grouping the states into sections really helps the kids - essentially putting the information into bite-sized pieces their little brains can process.

Here's a look at how the illustrations help the kids (and me, ahem) place the states and their locations:

And he has a fun little rhyme to go along with him:

"A little man is standing there with boots, pants, shirt, and face. See how the hat upon his head is perfectly in place?"

The memory clues are already helping me remember how the states are positioned (because there are some places that get a little fuzzy, especially if you didn't grow up in those parts!). UCAN is the acronym clue for where the four states touch: Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada.

Right now, we're reading the book every few days and just reviewing the rhymes and the kids are definitely picking up how the states relate to each other and are having fun learning them in the process. They enjoy the pictures and the rhymes in the book (and letting me know when they hear a rhyme).

From the word of MIM (the man in the map)

"Imagination is the magic key...To help unlock the clues you need ...To learn geography."

You can view a video about the book here and also purchase the book on Amazon or an autographed copy from Schoolside Press. There is also an illustrated wall map that goes along with the book available. The author of the book, E. Andrew Martonyi, has started a blog also where you can ask questions and find out about other books he has in the works.

Just wanted to share a little something that is working for us in our house. Be sure to check out other Works for Me Wednesday posts over at Rocks in My Dryer.

Teaching Kids the Reason for the Season

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For the last few years we've been celebrating the Advent season with the kids to help focus on the REAL reason of Christmas, and truth be told, it helps keep the adults in the right frame of mind too! There have been various books that we've used together over the years, but this year we borrowed a book from a friend (that has recently been republished) to read to the kids.

Jotham's Journey by Arnold Ytreeide follows a 10 year old boy across Israel as he travels to find his family - ultimately finding the Savior in Bethlehem. There are 2 other books in the series (also in the process of being republished) that can be used in upcoming years and follow the same story line, but with different characters. Our kids are really enjoying the story so far. We're playing "catch-up" since we just got ahold of it, but each day there is a section of the story shared and then an application section for the story. Recommended ages are from 9-12 but our oldest three (4-7) have really been enjoying it too. Kaleb just thinks fire on the candles is pretty. *grins*

Our Advent wreath is fairly simple - I used a basket that we had in our house and added some fake greenery and advent candles in green floral foam. Really, not so much of a wreath as it is an Advent basket, but it works! The lovely thing is, I can use it from year to year without having to put it all together each time. Every night after dinner we try to sit down as a family around the table, light the different candles (we're up to two now) and enjoy the story and celebrate together as a family. And trying to do a little something to help keep Christ in the Christmas season.

If You Don't Know the Words

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Christmas tunes are playing day and night in this house and the kids are doing their best to sing (or hum) along with them.

Zachary was walking around singing "Jingle Bells" the other day, and his version goes a little something like this:

"Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, Oh what fun it is to ride in a soapin', soapin' say - HEY!"

"Yeah, well, I can't remember the words, Mom, so I just sing 'soapin' soapin' instead."

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Need to Loosen Up

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I'm thinking that perhaps I should just relax a little when it comes to my kids and the craft department.

Maybe stop rationing out craft supplies like we may never find them again. If you were listening in, a conversation on craft supply usage between one of my children and I might go a little something like this:

Child: Mom. Could I have some popsicle sticks.
Me: Sure. But you can only have 5. Five, ok?
Child: But, Mom - I would like to make a life-sized replica of Abe Lincoln's cabin.
Me: Fine (huff). Then you can take 10.

A good indicator of this craft hoarding rationing would be the layer of dust coating one of our many craft boxes, containing somewhere in the vicinity of 482 popsicle sticks.

Dust that was thick enough my children could use it as a craft project of their own.

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