Saturday, January 31, 2009

Our Pioneer Living Experiment--Toys #1

This whole "even-simpler-living" experiment got started because of my irritation with toys. I was tired of cleaning them up endlessly, tripping over them, and enforcing the clean-up of them day in and day out. I had sorted through them before moving and weeded out a lot, but with Jer's birthday and then Christmas a month later, the kids received scads of new ones. I remember reading a chapter in the book "Hints on Child Training" about how spoiled American children are and how they have way more than they need. And the funny thing is, this book (which is a great resource for parenting) was written in 1890!!! Imagine what the author would think today if he took a look around our homes!

While my kids do seem to play with tons of toys and enjoy all of the toys they have, I realize that they do not need lots of toys to be smart, creative, happy, and content. I am thankful for the nice toys they received as gifts from loved ones, but when you have 3 little ones and thus baby toys, toddler toys, educational toys, boy toys, and girl toys everywhere it gets to be too many to have out all at once.

Now, here is where some of you will tell me I need to rotate them. This is something I've always done and it's a wonderful way to keep toys fresh. But even with having a box or two of toys in the shed, we still had too many toys lying around. And yes, we had a special suitcase for doll clothes, a special cardboard box full of dress-ups, a tub for trucks, a toybox for miscellaneous toys, and a basket in the living room for Justus' toys, and it was still too much.

So....what was my solution? I decided to pack up ALL of the kids' toys, save for 5 toys a piece. Because we now live in a house and have a storage shed in the yard that is enormous and has plenty of space, it wasn't hard to put the toys in the shed. I hauled about 3 medium-sized rubbermaid tubs and a garbage bag out to the shed.

Ali Joy thought it was fun to choose 5 special toys but I had to pry some away from Jeremiah who routinely carries as many cars and trucks he can fit in his fists EVERYWHERE he goes. Ali wanted to "play pioneers" like the girls in the Little House book and try living with less. Jer ended up with his semi-truck and trailer and about 3 matchbox cars and one front loader. Ali ended up with her princess carriage, a stuffed puppy, a camera, and a baby bottle and pony.

Now, keep in mind, although we are cutting way down, we still have way more at our disposal than the pioneers had. I'm not trying to be a pioneer in every respect. We still have our kids' closet shelf full of games, puzzles, dupo blocks tub, stacking buckets, etc. We also have a shelf in the linen closet devoted to art project/crafty/educational things and they have a bucket of bath toys in the bathroom and a tub of outdoor toys in the yard.

In my next post, I'll talk about how this 5 toy system has worked out for us over the past couple of weeks!

To be continued......

Friday, January 30, 2009

Introducing.....Our Pioneer Living Experiment

Well folks, here is the experiment in simple living I mentioned that I would be sharing with you. I call it "Our Pioneer Living Experiment." Now relax, I'm not going to tell you how we bought a cow, started churning our own butter, and have a wood stove and outhouse now! When you think about it, we really aren't living at all like the pioneers and have never experienced such scarcity or hardship.
But, I continue to call it this for the sake of my kids. When we were simplifying things in their room, they wanted to know why so I told them we were going to live like the pioneers for a couple of weeks and they were excited. We've been reading Little House in the Big Woods everyday before naptime and they were thrilled to mimic Laura and Mary.
So....tomorrow I'll kick off the Pioneer Living posts by talking about how we simplified TOYS!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Activities for Older Kids?

Blogreader Sheila asked if I might have some ideas for activities to do indoors with older kids (preteen age). It got me thinking back to what my brothers and I used to do. Here is a list of things we did and if you have older kids, or ideas from your own childhood, please add them in the comments:

Balloon Volleyball--this is even fun for adults!

Board games

Beginner's sewing projects (fleece hats and mittens and socks)

Being involved in 4-H groups

Learn to play an instrument (Can't afford lessons? Get a book or video from the library and teach yourself the basics)

Drawing (How many thousands of hours did we spend tracing and drawing from different books we had on How to Draw?)

Fashion Plate Girls--I wish I could remember what this was called but someone gave me a kit where you traced different ladies and then you could choose what outfit to put on them and trace and then you could use different textures for the fabric of her outfit and use colored pencils to color her outfit and you could trace various accesories for her. My friends and I used this simple kit for YEARS on end, always designing new outfits with new colors and variations. Something like this is wonderful for preteen girls

Scrapbooking--Some of my preteen cousins make the most amazing albums and really enjoy this!

Write a newsletter for Grandparents (either and e-mail version or a snail-mail copy to mail out) Pretend to be a journalist and make it a "news"paper

Create a music video or write a play and film it

Make a movie about life at your house and the routines you have--This would be fun to look back on later!

Water balloon babies (My friend and I did the egg babies in 5th grade until one broke a few days later in my fanny pack and left a nasty rotten egg smell that wouldn't come out! From then on it was water balloon babies for us and we had endless fun mothering our little balloons. Not surprisingly, we both have 3 kids now!)

Build bridges out of toothpicks and glue (we did this in 5th and 6th grade at school and had competitions to see which team could build the strongest bridge)

Craft books from the library (learn origami, learn how to be a good photographer, learn to crochet, learn to decorate your room

Plan an adventure. My friend and I decided we wanted to live off the land in 5th grade like a girl in a book we read about (Naya Nuki, Girl Who Ran). So we planned a camping adventure in our pasture and lived in a tent for a week (age 11 or 12) and cooked our own Ramen over a fire and swam in the creek and we even made our own matching skirts out of an old sheet for the adventure. We even tried eating roasted grasshopper. Planning it together was half the fun! Of course my brother and his friend begged to join us on the adventure.

Start a club. In my preteen years, my friends and I started a club for girls who loved horses and we rode my horse, Rebel, all the time after school. We called ourselves "Rebel's Girls."

I recently posted on doing a treasure hunt for your kids. My husband says he and his sisters loved to do these even as teens and the clues their dad made them were very difficult to solve and took a lot of time to figure out.

Serve others--Go visit at a nursing home, volunteer as a mother's helper, take a homemade card to someone going through a tough time, bake bread for someone who is sick, etc. Kids love to do this sort of thing.

Etiquette classes--take time to teach your kids etiquette and proper grooming and how to be a lady or a gentleman. Kids this age are soaking it up and have fun "practicing" this kind of stuff. My mom had me go through the "Christian Girls Charm Course" at age 11 with a couple of my girl friends. My brothers went through a similar course for boys.

Make a scoot game--similar to air hockey without the air--a large wooden box and a little door on each end where a wooden puck can be knocked in--simple for most guys to create from wood, use a small board as your puck paddle to try to shoot the puck into the other person's door.

Look for table tennis, air hockey, or pool tables at yard sales

Bowl using plastic water bottles and any kind of ball or buy an inexpensive toy set at the local discount store

Read aloud together as a family--kids of all ages enjoy this

Listen to Family Radio Theatre broadcasts or podcasts of Adventures in Odyssey or other kids' programs

Anyone else have great ideas???

Indoor Activities for Kids--More Ideas

After a couple of weeks of showing you things you can do with your children, I realized that this series could go on forever so I decided to condense my remaining ideas in one last post. If I come across new and unique ideas I will feature them but for now, this is the end of this particular series.

Things we enjoy doing on a cold day that I haven't already featured in my posts:

Children's Puzzles

Reading Aloud (Extra fun if Mommy crawls in the tent to read to the kids)

Playing School or Church or Grocery Shopping (the kids are always playing things like this together)

Cutting and pasting

Making playdough/Playing with Playdough

Helping me bake new things or cook up interesting recipes (try making homemade crackers, mini-pizzas, Stone Soup, fruit pizza, colored pancakes, etc.)

Games! Memory, Candy Land, sorting foam alphabet letters, alphabet Bingo, regular Bingo, Don't Break the Ice, Ants in the Pants, Barrel of Monkeys, large dominoes, and that one where the Alligator bites you are all ones that come to mind as being good for young children.

Painting (I featured finger painting but my kids love all kinds of painting!)

Stamping (I've found washable paints work much better than trying to teach them to stamp using an ink pad. Ask me how I know this.............)

Sorting and matching games using everyday objects (buttons, coins, magnets, pencils and pens, socks, etc.)

Balloon volleyball (a favorite with my brothers and I growing up; use a piece of yarn stretched between two walls as the net and play for hours!)

Beach party (blow up an inflatable pool and some beach balls and floaties and let the kids have a dry swim party indoors)

Stacking canned goods or blocks

Magna-doodles--Ali received one from each of her Grandmas this year for Christmas so we have two and this toy has been the #1 most educational toy around our home and they are used throughout the day, every day and on car trips!

Designing roads and cities for matchbox cars on large rolls of newsprint (my kids won't get to do this much since they got a road and city rug for Christmas)

Lacing cards

Stringing beads on a shoestring

Exercise cards (my friend Heather gave us these last year and they are tons of fun for squirrely kids. My former neighbor girls begged to do these every day!)

Tub of beans (just like the tub of cornmeal, this keeps them entertained for a long time!)

Playing with pots and pans and kitchen utensils (I admit I do not do this much since I hate washing extra dishes but kids love to look at your kitchen tools)

Making picture books out of magazines and construction paper

Going to the Children's Museum or library

Singing together and learning to use musical instruments. If you don't have any, make some! An oatmeal container makes a nice drum!

Arts and Crafts (I could list dozens of projects, but instead I'll lump them together and just say that if things are really bad at your house, maybe it's time to whip out a quick project or start doing a collage or tile picture or learning how to make origami frogs and balloons)

Chores (My kids are still young enough to enjoy doing them! Yes, it takes a lot longer with them "helping" but it does keep them busy!)

Dancing to music

Having a tea party

Doing pilates together

Look through photo albums

Beanbag or hackey sack toss

Playing with Puppets

Making up a play to perform for Daddy or grandparents

Playing Garage Sale

Growing up, I enjoyed looking through this book for fun ideas:
365 TV-Free Activities You Can Do with Your Child

This is just a small sampling of all the fun you can have in spite of being home-bound! The more activities you plan for, the less likely the kids will be to make you bonkers!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's Ahead.....

I have so many posts I'm anxious to do! Here are some upcoming post ideas:

One more post on Indoor Activities for Kids (This week we have had a cold snap so I'm getting to test out all of those ideas that were mentioned even more so than usual!)

PETS for Kids--online prayer circle to remember our kids in prayer (PETS is short for petitions)

Temporary Scarcity Ideas--Learning to be even more frugal in a time of tight finances

Foods that Heal--I've been reading through a book I have called, "Kitchen Counter Cures" and it talks about foods that promote good health and healing.

My Big Experiment--I'm not going to spill the beans yet on it but in a day or two I will reveal a simple living strategy I've been implementing as a fun experiment.

So...Stay Tuned!!!

King Jo Responds

Check out the comments section on my post "I Had a Feeling..." from yesterday to see King Jo's response to a blogreader who says he should never snowboard again.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Had a Feeling....

Justus brings Daddy more cheer than a bouquet of flowers or balloons ever could!

Do you ever get the feeling that God is preparing you for something? Because I believe God is sovereign in everything and works all things in accordance with His purposes, I tend to overthink things and think, "God must be preparing me for _____." So, I was a bit scared when I read a couple of different books that talked about babies dying or having fatal diseases when I was pregnant with Justus.

Just a few posts ago, I wrote on how I want my faith in Christ to shine forth in trials as I've seen in my friend who had a recent loss. I also started listening to Mark Driscoll's newest preaching series on 1 and 2 Peter which is all about trials. I also know that all of life is full of trials and hardship, so I knew it wouldn't be long before another thing hit us that would cause us to fall on our knees, even though parenting 3 kids 3 and under already had us there!

This Saturday, my hubby went snowboarding at Red Lodge, in Montana, with some guys from the youth group and another adult from our church. King Jo planned the trip a long time ago and was eagerly counting down the days for a couple of months. Snowboarding is his favorite thing to do!

Unfortunately after only an hour and a half of boarding he hit a small jump wrong and came down on his wrist, snapping it. He ended up having to go to Billings and have a 3 hour surgery that evening to repair all the tendons that had snapped around his ball and socket. The other guys ended up leaving him to head home at his request and I went up the following morning bright and early and got him. Fetching him from Billings was no easy task. It meant finding childcare, packing for 3 kids, driving with a baby to care for, and traveling icy, dangerous roads, having to go extra slow most of the way and leaving my eyes completely fried. It's normally a little under 5 hours to get there but it took over 6 on the way up and over 8 on the way home.

We both know that our Father is good and nothing can touch us except what He allows. We know that He has a specific plan in this injury, and though we are walking through it feeling a little blind, we know that we will look back and see His hand in it. It's scary thinking about our family's provider having no use of one of his arms for at least 3 months, especially when he is a carpenter. It's hard for me to imagine being able to drive him to and from his appointments in Billings in the future (one coming up in a week) and sad to think that he gets cut open again in a couple of months to remove the pins. This trial is definitely just that: a trial!

But, already we can see some benefits from this time:

*More time together as a family

*Greater opportunities for closeness as a couple (having to work together, pray even more, support each other in physical pain and emotional burdens, etc.)

*Creative Frugality (If I was pinching pennies before, now I'll be making them scream! So watch for posts on Temporary Scarcity coming soon!)

*A reminder of Who really provides for us and the wonder of getting to see Him work in our lives again in visible, tangible ways to meet our needs

*Learning to accept help and be dependant (This is really harder than giving to others I think. It's easy to give to those in need but it's humbling to be on the receiving end sometimes.)

*Prayer support from many friends.

*Safety on the dangerous drives (I'm very uncomfortable driving on ice and have really bad night blindness. It's absolutely God's hand that kept us safe driving for 14 hours (about 11 of those hours on sheer ice, on winding, curvy, mountain roads). We had actually planned to drive back in the evening after he was released but through a series of events God led us to stay with my aunt and uncle in Billings and I'm so glad He did, because I believe we would have faced certain death had I tried to drive in the dark. At one point I was sandwiched between two semi-trucks and was on snowy roads on the interstate heading into Billings. I'm not very accustomed to city driving and I was starting to panick because the semis stirred up so much snow I couldn't see in front of me and was sure that I'd become a semi sandwich. I cried out to God for help and immediately the cloud of snow blew away to the side and both semis turned off to a weigh station exit at that moment! The drive to and from Billings felt like eternity...and not eternity in Heaven!

*God's preparation (We have an emergency fund in place and a good start on our 3-month's of living expenses. We are pretty sure our health sharing plan will cover the medical bills. King Jo has two weeks of paid vacation saved up and we're considering options for what to do in the next couple of weeks when that is gone.)

*Help from loved ones. My mom watched the kids for the entire day on her birthday and then took off the next morning from work so she could watch them longer for us! Our friend Shiloh watched our kids for a couple of hours too! My Aunt and Uncle let us crash at their place at a moment's notice.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Kid Funnies This Week

Ali took her brothers for Show N' Tell last week on her special day at preschool.

One of the little boys told the class that his grandma was going to have a baby too. Apparently his grandma has a baby dog in her tummy that is going to come out soon. The teacher replied, "I'm going to be rich when I sell this story to the Enquirer!"

Overheard, "You are the Dad, I'm the Grammy, Mom is the Mom, and Justus is the kid." (Playing house. I guess being the Grammy is more exciting than being the mom or the sister these days!)

"Mom can we watch Winnie the Poo-Poo?" (How many times do I have to tell you kids it's Pooh! What is a Pooh bear anyway and who came up with calling him that?)

Jer stumbled on a toy and began crying when he hurt his foot. Ali immediately burst into song, "Oh be careful little feet where you walk....."

Daddy told Ali she was a beautiful little princess one night when he was tucking her in. She said, "Thank you Daddy. And you are a very manly man."

Jer put his face in the water in the bathtub and swallowed some water. He choked and sputtered a couple of times. Nothing major at all. Ali said, "Are you okay?" He replied, "Yeah. I dwounded."

She said, "Oh, you drowned?"

"Yep, I dwounded. I'm okay now."

Ali's new favorite phrase is, "Here's the deal..." I wonder if I say this a lot? It sounds awfully funny coming from a small person saying it so matter-of-factly.

Not sure where Ali got this, but she's always running up to Justus and saying, "Hey Best Friend! We're forever friends! You love your sister, don't you? It's okay, don't cry Best Friend! You're my bestest friend in the whole world!" (Good thing Jer is still too young to care and realize his feelings should be hurt.)

Ali prayed today for Justus at breakfast since it's "his" day. She said, "Thank You for the Little Cutie." This is one of her nicknames for him.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Three 3 and Under---The Ups and Downs

Wow, in less than a month I'm going to have to change my series to Three 4 and Under! Ali's birthday is coming up!
If there's anything I've learned in the last couple of months of parenting three little ones 3 and under it's that there are ups and downs and it's truly hard to define what it's like to be in this stage of parenting life. I will say that having three 3 and under is ENDLESS....ENDLESS...ENDLESS.... (get the idea yet?) work. Now to those of you, and there are always some, who are rolling your eyes and thinking to yourself, or saying out loud to me (yes, I've been asked this) "You do know how it happens, right?" I want to say that this post is not for you. I'm sharing in honesty with fellow mothers in the trenches who believe that children are blessings from the Lord but also need to hear the whole story. I'm not trying to be a complainer or a whiner and I don't at all regret having 3 or even regret having them all 21 months apart! In fact, my hubby and I want at least one more and we love the 21 month spacing and watching our kids be best friends and play together.
Sometimes, because of the comments we get, we mothers of 3 or more little ones tend to gloss over the hard days or put up a brave front with people around us because we are afraid of hearing "You made your bed, now you're going to lie in it." We don't feel like we have the right to talk about our hard days because we chose to have all of these children. But it would be unfair to my mommy friends out there for me to cover over the rough days. Anyone who has even one baby knows that it is life-changing and an incredible amount of work. Triple that and your hands are very full! So, I'm not going to pretend in this series that it's always been a piece of cake for me!
Having Three 3 and Under is incredibly easy some days. Some days, and I'm guessing a lot of it has to do with how much sleep Mommy and kids got last night, how long baby naps, and what's planned for the day, everything seems rosy and you bask in the wonder of watching all these little people around you, running around, filling your home with toys and with joy and giggly smiles. A lot of days we have a nice, home-cooked supper on the table when Daddy comes home from work or soon after. A lot of days we go for walks and get out to playdates. A lot of days I have a whole evening free to read, sew, surf the web, relax, etc.
Yet, some days, the little girl is screaming for you to wipe her while you are changing a nasty poopy diaper and the baby cries for food and the phone is ringing with an important call and you have a headache and feel more than a little overwhelmed. When you've spent all day trying desperately to get the house clean and the dishes done and you survey the mess at the end of the day and feel like a complete failure as a homemaker. When your kids seem to fight and cry and whine non-stop all day, requiring countless discipline sessions. When you're peeling your eyes open in the morning because the baby kept you up half the night and you know there will be no chance to rest for another 15 hours. When you work, day after day, after day at your job, realizing that you are a workaholic of sorts and will never get a day off, and probably not a night off anytime soon, even though you love your job more than any other. When you are sick or upset or hormonal and you realize that the kids are still needing and demanding from you and will never stop (at least not for several years). Days when the kids throw toys at other kids, have an accident in the store, or days when one kid dumps a gallon of flour all over the kitchen while you are nursing the baby and another kid tries to clean it up with a bucket of water and makes paste (this happened to my friend, not me!) Some days the enormity of the tasks that loom before you threaten to crash over you and you feel like you are drowning and just trying to survive and stay afloat.
The good news is that we have a loving Father who has gifted us with these precious little ones and will sustain us in caring for them. One verse God brought to my mind this week is, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28
These feelings and trials go up and down. So, if I'm having a horrible day with fussy kids, I know that naptime or bedtime is coming and things will look brighter after they sleep and after Mommy has some quiet time. I have a husband who is always willing to pitch in and help with feedings, bedtime routine, and who gives me nice massages =). I have friends I can call or e-mail to share my tough days with who totally understand. Kids get over their sicknesses and their crankies before you know it and even though it may seem like an eternity when you are trying to get dinner ready and all 3 are demanding food NOW, they are learning patience right along with you. Once their bellies are full, they are back to being little giggle-boxes.
Most of the time, I love being a Mommy of Three 3 and Under and wouldn't trade it for anything on earth. But there are definitely days of feeling trapped and feeling overwhelmed with the continual needs. I could give you the "typical" practical advice for preventing some of the hard days:
Having a regular quiet time
Getting your rest
Keeping a good routine
Being prepared and organized
Not planning too much in your day
Being flexible
Getting rid of perfectionism
Finding support-A Bible Study, Accountability Partner or a Mother's Helper
However, in giving you these basic ideas, I have to say that you WILL have hard days. There will always be trials of various kinds. It's not IF, but WHEN they come. Even if you try to follow the tips in the list above, your kids will be cranky, sick, disobedient at times and things will come up that threaten to overwhelm you. Combine this with the fact that mommies of babies don't get a lot of sleep and have a hard time with the other things on the list when they are in a haze of fatigue and you have a recipe for some rough days as a Mama. But know that this hard season, is just that: a season. Before you know it, they'll be grown and won't need us nearly as much and we will miss these days. It is an incredible blessing to have these little ones and they are worth every minute of the hard work. So, be thankful for every moment with them and ride out the hard days by God's grace.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hope in Loss

A while back I had asked for advice on ministering to grieving friends. Well, in reality, one of these gals is actually always ministering to me. Her attitude and faith in the midst of such a painful trial, the loss of her prematurely born baby girl, has been so beautiful to me. Whenever I talk to her I feel like I want to know Jesus more. Whenever she shares her pain and struggle and yet her desire to see God glorified in this, I marvel. When she shares her fatigue and difficulties I want to pray for her and help her as much as I can.

One day she told me that even though she would have never chosen to have lost a child, that this trial and this pain is worth it to know God's presence in such an incredible way. She said that during this tough time she feels like she is being carried in God's arms. She has a lot of unsaved family that may come to know Christ through watching her and her husband get through this loss and she would love to see this happen.

Being around this friend of mine has made me question in my own life whether or not everything I do and say points to Christ in such a way. I want to know Christ so deeply that just by being around me, others get thirsty for Him. Suffering is never easy, but when trials of various kinds come, I want to embrace them as opportunities to make much of God and be a lamp on a hill to a world in darkness. Easier said than done, right?

Please pray for my friend that God would bless her with another baby in His perfect timing and that her health and the pregnancy would go smoothly and the baby would be born safe and healthy at the proper time.

Indoor Activities for Kids #10--Treasure Hunt

Beware! This activity will definitely be a favorite with your kids and will be constantly requested! It's a favorite game I used to do with the kids I babysat. Make clues (older kids can have clues written with words and can have harder clues, little kids need picture clues and lots of help) and hide them around the house in order, with the last one being the place where the treasure is hidden.

These chocolate gold coins were on Christmas Clearance at K-Mart and are perfect for the treasure! I wish I had gotten a picture of the delight on their faces when they found the clues and figured them out!

Indoor Activities for Kids #9

We've made a lot of tents to play in this week. The quickest way to make a nice tent is to take two chairs, suspend a mop or broom across them and put a large sheet over it, pulling out the sides so that it looks like a real camping tent.

Indoor Activities for Kids #8

While Ali was at preschool and Mama was baking bread, Jeremiah played in cornmeal for over an hour. He loved it and the mess and clean-up really wasn't bad at all! Next time I may use a shallow cardboard box so he has more room to drive his vehicles around in it. He loves hats and wore this goofy summer hat that is too small for him now.

Someone Else

Today, in the midst of my exhaustion and feelings of being overwhelmed by the never ending tasks for a mom of little ones, I was reminded of what a blessing it is to be home with my children. I realize not everyone has that choice and that many of you who work are able to have a spouse or grandparent to watch your child, which is a blessing. These are just some letters to my kids, in thankfullness for being able to be with them. If you do work, I'm sure a lot of these thoughts have rambled through your head throughout the day as you hope your sitter is taking the best possible care of your kids when you aren't able to be with them.

My dear little boy,

As I lay on the ground, tickling you, watching your eyes dance with delight as you clutch your ever-present fistful of monster trucks and racecars, I can't help but wonder, If someone else was watching you today, would they marvel at your giggles? Would they take the time to answer your pleas for tickling? Would you be begging them for a hug and if you did, would they comply fifty times a day? What if I had missed you "reading" your favorite book and singing "Skid-a-ma-rinky-dink-a-dink" in your funny little way of talking without pronouncing your R's? Would the sitter have the instinct to see what you were up to when there was a minute of silence? Would they be as diligent or as worried about you getting into the street or drowning? Would a sitter realize how adorable you are?

My darling baby boy,

If you were not in my arms today, would you be tenderly cuddled? Would anyone kiss your triple chin or share a hundred smiles with you? Would you be endlessly entertained by older siblings who adore you or stuck in a room full of only infants? Would you miss the adoring gaze of a mommy who is utterly in love with you? Would anyone have the time to sing you your favorite songs or play peek-a-boo? Would anyone notice you grabbing your toes or that you rolled over? Would you miss your mama's milk and looking into my eyes as you drink your bottle?

My precious little lady,

If you were in another's care all day, would you be afraid to be yourself or would you be chattering about your day like you do with me? Would anyone understand the little quirks you have and how you like things "just so?" I loved your beautiful smiles as you took pride in making pretty pictures with paints today and the way you always help with your brothers! Would anyone notice the funny way you throw birthday parties every day, all day, with your brother and sing in a lovely, little voice? Would someone care enough to see that you got assistance wiping in the bathroom, or see that you ate your lunch before being allowed to have a treat? Would your caretaker review your verses with you, know who's prayer day it was, play princesses with you or be able to fix your hair? Would anyone notice if other kids were teaching you naughty things or hurting you or vice versa? Would anyone take the time to teach you right and wrong and train you in character?

Some folks wonder if I'm throwing away my dreams and goals to be at home. What they don't realize is that my wildest dreams came true in all of you. Even if someone else took care of your little needs throughout the day, my heart would be crying to do those things for you and I would miss you infinitely. And no matter how wonderful or sweet a person might be who would take care of you, no one loves you like I do.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Advice please?

Sewing for little boys is hard. I'm always making these lovely little skirts and hair bow-type things and I feel bad because the boys don't get as many handmade things from me. So, when I saw this adorable fabric on clearance, I snagged it for my boys. Now what do I make with it? All I can think of is a pillowcase (when they are older and start using pillows) or a tote bag (and my hubby firmly ruled out this idea even though I think it would save me a lot of frustration with Jer carrying fistfuls of cars everywhere and dropping them and crying; He thinks it's majorly non-manly and Jer already has a big enough "feminine side" thanks to having a big sis.)

Please give me some ideas!

Indoor Activities for Kids #7

We put all 50 of the Christmas cards we received this year in this cute shoebox and we are going to pull one out and pray for the family each day at supper. A variation on this idea would be making a giant poster to hang on the wall above the table with each family's pic trimmed into a circle and glued onto the poster and you could draw a line from the one you prayed for to the one you are going to pray for, creating a big spider web of sorts!

With blueberries being on such a good sale this week, we made blueberry pancakes and Daddy read the kids our story about blueberry pancakes, "Curious George Makes Pancakes."

This Week's Meal Plan

It's been a while since I've posted on our weekly menu. Lately, it seems my kids are just ravenous and it feels like no matter how much I shop, we always are running low on groceries. (Of course my husband eats the same amount as 3 teenage boys so that doesn't help). I am toying with the idea of shopping twice a month instead of weekly just because I'm tired of having to use one of my evenings or my Saturday morning to hit the two grocery stores in town. But, I'm not so sure we can go two weeks without shopping since things come up all the time (preschool snacks, inviting people over after church, snacks for a snowboarding trip, etc.) that require us to visit the store at least weekly. (Not to mention we have a fairly small fridge and freezer).

My meals are very simple and very cheap, but that doesn't mean we skimp on nutrition.

Suppers This Week:

Salmon fillets, quinoa, battered zuchinni sauted in butter

Spaghetti Pasta (whole wheat pasta, sweet potatoes "snuck in" sauce, elk hamburger)
Homemade breadsticks, salad

Power Pizza, Salad

Tuna Noodle Casserole (chickpea puree "snuck in"), green beans, peaches

Elk roast, mashed potatoes, brocolli with cheese on top (Yay for a dad who is obsessed with elk hunting and doesn't mind sharing!)

Turkey, Stuffing (whole wheat box mix with sweet potato puree "snuck in"), Vegetables (Yay for frozen turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving turkey deals!)

Bean Burritos (wheat tortillas made from scratch), black beans (cooked in my pressure cooker to a soupy consistency) salsa, and cheddar cheese, served with fruit and salad


Mac N' Cheese
Nachos made with leftover burrito ingredients


Blueberry Pancakes one morning


Trail Mix
Hard boiled Eggs
Granola Bars
Goldfish Crackers
Carrots and Ranch

Monday, January 19, 2009

Indoor Activities for Kids #6

Some frosting Sister flung landed on my head!

Ali and Jer did most of the decorating and had so much fun! We got to eat one of the walls later, after supper.

Remember when I mentioned getting some Christmas clearance stuff at K-Mart for 75% off? It was a gingerbread house kit! I had been planning to buy one before Christmas and make one with Ali at the cabin, but totally forgot about it in my busy month. I'm so glad I didn't! Instead of paying $12 for a kit here in town, I got two kits for only $2.50 each! The one kit we did provided tons of fun for the kids and minimal work for Mommy. Of course if you're feeling really ambitious you could make one from scratch like my friend Heather.

Recent Sewing Projects

What's a Mama to do when a little boy's special "duckie" blankie gets dropped in Wal-Mart and it doesn't turn up when you retrace your steps and check Lost and Found? When we got home I pulled out some cute boyish fleece I had in my stash and made a mini fleece tie-quilt, which serves as the new security blankie. It only took 20 minutes.

I saw these skirts in a giveaway by Biblical Womanhood and wanted one for my daughter but knew I probably wouldn't win (I didn't) and they are too expensive to buy. So, I made a couple of them! Where there is a will, there is a way! However, I wasn't pleased with how the skirt above didn't have quite enough gathers to the layers, so I took it apart, and re-did it into a patchwork peasant skirt.

Ali loves it and it's so cute with little leggings!

This ruffle skirt was a total experiment too. Instead of hemming and making it fancy, I used flannel cloth and snipped ragged edges to make a rag skirt (similar to the rag baby blankets I've made in the past).

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Power Pizza

My Power Pizza recipe is loosely adapted from the Power Pizza recipe in the book "The Sneaky Chef" by Missy Chase Lapine. I love this cookbook and it has inspired me in recent months to beef up our regular food and make it even healthier! It's so much fun to "sneak things in" especially things that kids don't readily eat or that my hubby doesn't care for plain.
Dough: I make this in my bread machine
11/3 C. warm water
3/4 t. sea salt
3 T. olive oil
2 C. whole wheat flour
2 C. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3-1/2 C. white bean puree (made from cooked navy beans blended with a little water--freeze these ahead of time in baby food jars and you can just nuke one to add to the pizza dough).
2 t. yeast
I pull it out of my machine after an hour and a half and lightly spray two cookie sheets with oil. I sprinkle a little garlic salt on the pans before rolling the dough out. I usually use whatever spaghetti sauce we have on hand (or blend up a can of diced tomatoes with some salt) and mix 1/3 of sweet potato puree in with the sauce before spreading over the pizza. We almost always make mushroom pizza (not pictured here) so I saute mushrooms in a little butter with garlic salt and add them to pizza. I also like sauted onions and green peppers on my pizza (pictured above). The kids like olives! Daddy likes olives or mushrooms and onions.
Next we put a mix of shredded mozarella and cheddar on top of the pizza and bake on the top rack for about 15 minutes. The crust gets perfectly done, not too brown, not to doughy, and this pizza tastes finer than any in any restaurant! The beans make the crust so tasty; I'm not sure how, but they really do!
Other tasty variations: Use parmesan or asiago cheese on top
Veggie Pizza: Grill thin zuchinni and yellow squash slices with onions and mushrooms and peppers.
Hawaiin: Chopped pineapples and tiny chunks/slices of ham
Mexican Pizza: Use refried beans, cooked hamburger, or both and spread over uncooked crust. Spread a layer of salsa, a layer of shredded cheddar, and some olives, if desired. Top with crushed tortilla chips and bake. After baking you can add shredded lettuce on top if you desire.
Other sneaky variation:
I've used spinach puree in the pizza sauce but it turns the sauce a blackish color. The cheese and mushrooms cover it up and the color didn't bother me, but kids probably wouldn't eat it!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Odds and Ends

Instead of several, little random posts, I wanted to mention some odds and ends from our life:

*I FEEL LIKE A MILLION BUCKS! I got a solid 7.5 hours of sleep last night. I don't think that has ever happened since Justus was born. I've been trying to nurse exclusively at night and in the night since that's when I often have the most milk. But last night Justus didn't want to nurse so I gave him a bottle and he slept 9 hours straight! I went to bed about an hour and a half after his bottle feeding. After 3 months of continually getting up every couple of hours in the night, it is undescribably awesome to get a good night of sleep! The first two months he was only getting up once a night but then he started needing more milk and so it's been rough from October on! If I can, I'd like to get him nursing more in the daytime and taking formula at night so I can feel this good more often!

*My nursing vacation didn't end up being much of a vacation (surprise...surprise!) Lots of things came up and life continued on at a busy pace as usual. I have been really trying to nurse as much as possible and I came to these conclusions:
-Pumping doesn't help increase my supply. When I pumped, I had no milk for him to get by nursing and when I nursed, I had nothing come out when pumping. They say supply keeps up with demand, but my body feels broken. It just feels like it will only give out so much and it's too tired to give out any more. So, I stopped pumping since it's a lot of extra time and work and now I just nurse him regularly as much as I can. My letdown, which has always been strong to the point of painful, feels broken too.
-I've accepted that my body doesn't produce enough for our little Chunk-a-Monk and so I'm okay with bottle-feeding half the time. Our little guy drinks about 4-6 4 oz. bottles of formula in a day and nurses 6-8 times a day, as well as taking about 1/3 C. of rice cereal a day in two different feedings.

*Has anyone else tried the eSaver program on your Safeway or Smith's card? I just got an e-mail about them today and signed up. Now I don't have to worry about clipping and organizing coupons (for Safeway anyway) because you load the coupons you want onto your card and when you go in and use your Safeway card, it not only takes off the Safeway discount, but also the Proctor and Gamble coupon amount too! Yeah! I'll have to see how it works out. This will help make things faster at the checkout.

*Justus is my easiest baby, hands down! I wish everyone could have a baby this easy. None of my babies have been really hard or difficult or had health issues or ear infections, but they've all always needed to eat frequently around the clock for about a year, which is the hardest part. Jer used to always cry before every nap and bedtime even though we tried to get him not to. He just needed to cry himself to sleep, I guess. He was also always really clingy and attached to Mama, and only Mama but a very happy, easygoing baby. Ali was a pretty good girl, but seemed to demand more than Justus does or maybe it just seemed that way since she was my first and I wasn't used to the demands of being a mom. Justus hardly ever cries now that he's getting enough to eat and smiles a lot, is content to play with toys for a long time in his bouncy chair or exersaucer, likes to cuddle but doesn't need it, will take a pacifier but is fine without one, and happily endured a 5-hour shopping trip to Wal-Mart the other day! He's always been a great napper and goes down instantly without a fuss. I realize he could change and he does seem more opinionated than Jer was, but so far he is our easiest kid yet, which is what we expected during the pregnancy since he was the least-active in the womb!

Indoor Activities for Kids #5

Check out how my friends living in -30 temps in MN are keeping their kids entertained on winter days.

Lesley's girls play with dolls in a pan of water.

Madison has a blast at an indoor picnic.

Thanks for sharing ladies!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Indoor Activities for Kids #4

I made a tunnel out of some baby contraptions we have and a blanket!

The kiddoes loved it!

Handprint painting! It takes a little guts on the part of the mom, especially when one of the kids is two, but they love it and I use the pictures they make for wrapping paper. (Grandparents really like it!)

Grammy got the kids some colorful sticker books for Christmas.

Ali 's is Baby Animals and Jer's is trucks and tractors. I helped them and we discussed where each sticker went and talked about the pictures. They can only use these with supervision. Hmmm, I wonder why?

Indoor Activities for Kids #3--Snow in the Bathtub

I was hoping to show you all a pic of my kids playing with snow in our bathtub as both Meredith and Thia suggested to me for this Kid's Activities Series. However, we've had such amazingly warm days here recently, there isn't enough snow to collect and put in my bathtub! So, gather up a bunch of scoops, and measuring cups and/or toys and put some mittens on them and have some fun!
A variation on this idea that I got from is putting snow in a large roasting pan with towels or tablecloth under it and letting them sit at the table and make little snowmen in the pan out of snow and carrots and raisins, etc.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Indoor Activities for Kids #2

Sorry, no pics today, but lots of ideas thanks to Momma Bear aka Beth! She did a giveaway recently on her blog and each person who entered had to share some of the activities they do with their kids. You can read it here if you'd like, but I've compiled them all here in my post for your benefit. Thanks Momma Bear!

Melissa said...
I keep my 2 year old twins busy by setting up a fake tent in the living room and having fun in the dark with flashlights and light up toys!

Elizabeth said...
Reading books...lots and lots of books! :D

Anonymous said...
We actually have an indoor play area in our local mall, which my two year old loves.

Mercedes said...
My 3 and a half year old likes to play computer games on the Nick Jr website.

jpkittie said...
We love to play board games! dd is 5 & is addicted to candyland, guess who, operation... so much fun (I remember begging my parents to play them with me!)

Diane said...
The 2 older boys love to play with their Thomas and Cars play tents or "forts" as they call them. We also enjoy making homemade play doh to play with as well as baking cookies. We will sometimes go out to the children's museum or the Imax theater.

Stephanie said...
I keep my little guys busy helping me in the kitchen. They love to measure things out and dump them in the bowl.

Jay said...
Turning on the radio for a dance fest.

Kristina said...
My kids like to use the computer to play games and they color and draw lots and lots of pictures.

SarahJo said...
Well, I have trouble with coming up with ideas on cold days since my kids LOVE to play outside, but today we set up a train set, did puzzles, and put alvin and the chipmunks christmas song on repeat and danced around.

Shauna said...
It helps to have an occasional craft to do..... somewhat productive busy-work!

Anonymous said...
Some days when the girls have too much energy and it's too cold for outside we take off all the couch and chair cushions. I let the girls go nuts making obstacle courses and doing flips. They have so much fun, I love seeing their games, and my cushions get fluffed as well. :)

Anonymous said...
We play board games together.

Anonymous said...
We bring in some of our big toys from outside-- cars to ride on, big balls, etc. and we drive in our unfinished basement all winter!!

Kara said...
Projects are always a fun thing to do.

Heather Summerford said...
We read lots of books and play puzzles. We have a mall close by so we hit the play area at least once a week!!

Susan said...
My girls loved to play with blocks. My husband make them about 200 wooden blocks in various rectangular and square sizes, and they would play for hours creating buildings, etc. Then they loved to have little people and other figurines to live in their creations. I think this is great for kids' brain development also. Thanks for a wonderful giveaway. Hang in there - it's hard with lots of little ones at home. Mine are now in grades 2,4,6 - it's SO much easier!

Anonymous said...
We drink hot chocolate by the fire and take long, hot bubble baths!

Billliegirl said...
My two kids love water, so I put plastic bags and towels down and put a small amount of water in a large bowl. They let their Little People swim in it, make "tea" for mom and float small boats in there. It keeps them busy for hours.

Natalia said...
My son loves to play with trains and I read books to him.

erin fry said...
- i throw them on the couch- i chase them- play go fish- play i spy- play paper rock scissors- color- playdoh- reading books

justusseven said...
My kids love to play outside. We live near a public sled hill - it's huge. So they are there several times a week!

Anonymous said...
We love crafts and coloring. Hide and seek. Making a fort in the living room.

retrodeb said...
Both of my kids love crafts, so when they were younger there were always supplies around for them to use. My son especially seemed to love doing things with foil(!) so I would get a cheap roll from the dollar store for him! Now that they are old enough to figure out how to entertain themselves, we make regular trips to the library, and I look for fun (and cheap) events at local craft stores.

TX Poppet said...
Well, why are you indoors during the winter? Bundle those babies up and play outside!No? Hrm... well there is always story time, field trips to farms and children's museums and ...No? Well you just hunker down with those babes, a nice warm bath and plenty of water toys and splash away! The best part? The warm snuggly relaxed babies that come of that tub!

linda said...
we play hide and seek. We watch movies and bake. We also like to try science experiments.

Rhonda said...
Right now it's pretty easy to keep everyone busy with all the decorating, baking, watching of Christmas movies, and sitting around playing with their new baby brother!

Robyn said...
We play lots of games, or play in the garage with the door open. It doesn't get that cold here in CA.

Maria said...
I can just put on music and my 2 year old daughter will dance forever.

Cheryl said...
Well, since we live in So. California we're able to play outside year round. When it does rain we like to play with play-doh or dolls.

Malaika said...
I have four little ones and keeping them all happy indoors is always a challenge. I try to get them interested in playing together and then they keep each other happy. Legos and blocks always work well for the boys. Tea parties with real tea and tiny cookies will keep my girls happy for hours. They all love dress up and will play that forever.

Barbara said...
I take them to my brothers house to play with his kids since they aren't in school.

Briana Almengor said...
I have a mini ball pit that helps and the tunnels that fold down quickly. that helps with releasing energy. If it's above 50 degrees, we go outside at some point. I try to keep some semblance of a schedule with them, too. Move them from one activity or room to the next in 30-45 min. incriments. That has to be longer or shorter depending on the ages of your kids.Coloring, puzzles, books on CD, dance jams, videos, baking, making special things for others and delivering. If all else fails, we load up and hit chick fil a where they have an indoor play place. :)

Chicago Saver said...
I don't have my own kids yet, but I nanny and I love to do arts and crafts. We read lots of books, color, make carft projects and play in the snow.

Miss Mommy said...
I love to keep the kiddies busy with Playdoh, making forts out of blankets, playing board games as a family, playing hide n go seek, doing crafts....and the list goes on!!

Jinxy and Me said...
No cook/bake recipes are always fun. I posted an edible playdough recipe a few weeks ago that is a lot of fun (and tasty)!!

Also, check out my post today on Time-blocking your priorities (the post before this one) to see how I balance chores and time with the kids.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Time Blocks

Let's face it, we moms have a lot to juggle! We always fall short of what we want to get accomplished in a day and feel like there is more work to be done than we can possibly do. If we get our closet cleaned out, we realize there are still a few other closets to clean out. If our laundry is all done and folded, and put away, we have no time to get dishes done. If we do tons of dishes and get the kitchen looking perfectly clean, the living room looks like a tornado of toys hit. If we spend too much time reading to our kids and playing games with them, supper ends up being PB & J. If we cook a gourmet dinner, we are constantly frustrated with the kids and shooing them out of the kitchen and unable to sit down all day.

We can't do it all. If we try to, we will burn out. We can't compare ourselves to others because they have different lifestyles, circumstances, and talents. I am not as brilliantly crafty as Monica, don't cook from scratch as much as Tammy, don't live as organically as Lindsay, don't snag as many freebies as Crystal, and don't think as much as Jess. We are all gifted in different ways!

If I focus on keeping the house immaculate, my kids will be neglected. If I focus only on the kids, we won't have anything to wear, any clean dishes to eat off of, or any food in the house and thus my hubby will be neglected. How can we moms balance out all of our responsibilites?

I'm not an expert, but I have found this method to be helpful for me at this season of my life and therefore I want to share it with my fellow mommy friends out there:

Time block! Don't neglect the kids or the house but jump back and forth between the two all day long in little blocks of time. I call it time-blocking but you could call it whatever you want to. Most of you probably do this instinctively and have never put a name to it.

(Now obviously if you are sick, or have a sick child or have a newborn, you are going to do the least amount of housework possible, so these tips aren't across the board for every situation)

What does time-blocking look like in our household? I'll give you an example, even though I'm no expert on homekeeping or mothering. There are different things that come up each day and so this is just an idea of how time-blocking can work on an average day. Notice how our day jumps back and forth between time with kids and household responsibilities.

Kids eat breakfast with Daddy before he goes to work
Mommy gets up and does breakfast clean-up (since I still get up a few times a night with a baby I get to be lazy!)
Kids play together while Mommy feeds the baby and maybe squeaks in a bite to eat herself
Mommy and kids read/sing/pray/work on verses or Questions and Answers book
Kids play together while Mommy straightens up the house, throwing a load of laundry in, de-cluttering, putting baby down for a nap etc.
Mommy pays bills, checks e-mail or gets a chore done while the kids again play on their own
Mommy reads the kids a story and feeds baby
Mommy gets the kids a snack and then the kids play
Mommy and kids do an activity, whether going somewhere like library storytime or swimming, or working on a deep cleaning of their room
Mommy reads some Bible chapters to herself while the kids play together
Mommy gets out art supplies and the kids do some coloring while Mommy cleans up the kitchen or prepares lunch
Lunch and feeding baby

After lunch:

Boys nap and Ali has quiet time in her room while Mommy has an hour of "free time" to blog or read
Ali comes out and needs a quiet activity while boys nap an hour longer
Mommy fixes a snack for everyone and feeds baby
Kids play together (in the yard if it's a nice day) while Mommy tries to do dishes
Mommy does an activity with the kids (story, art project, etc.)
Mommy feeds and holds the baby
Kids watch their 30 minute video while Mommy makes supper
Daddy tickles the kids and reads to them while Mommy cleans up supper
Mommy and Daddy both ready kids for bed
Mommy feeds baby
Daddy reads a story. Mommy reads aloud from her Bible chapters for the day (reading through the Bible in one year).
Mommy feeds baby
All kids go to bed
Mommy and Daddy have "free time" to catch up on chores that need to be finished, talk, watch a movie, be online, read, sew, go grocery shopping, or go to Bible Study or Youth Group
Mommy feeds baby
Mommy and Daddy go to bed
Mommy feeds baby
Mommy sleeps a bit
Mommy feeds baby
Mommy sleeps

Another day begins....

Obviously, it is our goal that the kids help us with the household chores and cleaning and so time with them and homemaking will overlap many times, especially as they get older. While they help with picking up and putting away laundry (and light dishwashing), there is still a lot they cannot do, like paying bills, making menu plans, organizing papers, make phone calls, etc. and so it's a necessity that I have time blocks for these chores in the home in between times of playing with the kiddoes. I have a feeling time-blocking will be a way of life once homeschooling begins, as I will have many things to teach Alathia, but also household chores to work on, as well as having other children to take care of and entertain. And keep in mind that while I'm doing chores, I'm constantly being interrupted by kids needing attention, forcing me out of a time-block of cleaning, and into a time-block with them. How long are my time blocks? It varies.
15-20 minutes is pretty standard and this coincides with my kids' current attention spans. However, if the kids are playing well together in their room and I get wrapped up in deep cleaning the bathroom, or kitchen, it could end up being an hour. Some time blocks may last 5 minutes, (when the kids go outside to play and come in after 5 minutes, etc.)

Time-blocking your priorities is not the answer to getting it ALL done. Remember how I said that you just can't do it all? You can't! Try it for one day and when you fall into bed after working a 18-hour day with no breaks and areas of your house are still not perfectly organized you will realize that you just can't live like that every single day. Instead of getting it ALL done, time-blocking allows you to give priority to the people and tasks in your life that are most important. I don't feel guilty taking some free time at night to relax knowing that there are dozens of chores I could be doing because those chores will ALWAYS be there and if I can't sit down to rest, I'm going to be an irate, overwhelmed, unhappy Mama to live with! I time-block in order to get most of my chores done, not all. One of my friends once told me, "Only God gets His to-do list done each day."

Before you can time-block, you have to recognize what your priorities are with your kids and your home and learn to let some stuff go. In order to spend more time on activities with the kids you may have to vacuum twice a week instead of every day, or mop twice a month instead of once a week, use paper plates, shop bi-weekly instead of weekly, or simplify the meals you cook, etc. Training my kids in the Lord and spending time with them is a priority, as is keeping them fed, healthy, and as clean as toddlers can be. Having good food for my hubby to come home to is a priority as well as making sure we have clean spoons and clean baby bottles (even if no other dishes happen to get done that day). A lot can slide when you have 3 kids 3 and under. Someday in the future my house may be cleaner and less toy-infested, but right now I need to enjoy the little ones God has given me because it goes all too fast.

How do you balance the responsibilites of children and your chores in your household? I'd love to hear your tips!

Indoor Activities for Kids #1

Some of my ideas in this series will be very common and ordinary and some will be more involved or creative. I wish, like Julie, that there were things we moms could fall back on during the cold winter time that allowed us to lounge around on the couch and take a bit of a break while the kids did their thing. Unfortunately for us moms of really little ones, unless you park them in front of the TV or computer, this probably won't happen! Not all of the ideas will be hard, and when you have homebound kids that are bouncing off the walls, you may come to agree that a little planning and a little mess or clean-up are infinitely better than the constant fighting and screaming that ensues when there are no activities planned for the day

Bubble baths keeps my kids occupied for a while. Try using food coloring in the water or allowing the kids to take some new things into the tub, such as your potato masher, whisk, turkey baster, funnel, etc.

Ali glues felt letters on some paper, trying to find all the letters in her name.

I put some shaving cream in a ziploc bag along with some colored, foam stars. I double-bagged it just to ensure that the bag wouldn't break. The kids had lots of fun kneading their bags and searching for the stars, which took a lot of effort to find in the goo!

This idea really wasn't that smart. Don't use washable markers to decorate a balloon because the markers will just rub right off on hands, arms, clothes, the table, etc. It did work wonderfully to draw faces on the balloons with a permanent marker (Mommy doing the drawing) and the kids enjoyed their "people" balloons.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Winter Activities for Kids!

We had a wonderfully warm 55-degree day a couple of days ago (we were all outside without coats, enjoying the sunshine) but most days this month have been really cold! And my friends in the artic land are really suffering right now. So...I'm going to do a series for a couple of weeks on activities and projects for kids to inspire you all (and myself too) to find ways to make these winter days fun instead of becoming insane or shipping your kids off to boarding school.
If you want to post your own ideas on this subject on your blog, please let me know and I will link to you and point my readers to your post/posts.

What do Minnesotans Do For Fun?

Jer watched this with me and said, "Dat's funny, on da 'puter."

And if you thought there is no way I could quote John Piper on yet another post, especially of this nature, don't know me very well!

Kid Funnies

King Jo and I used to always compete to get our kids to say Dada or Mama first. Now there's someone else in the running! Ali was saying, "Justus, can you say Sister?"

I was telling my hubby how porky Justus is getting and he started calling him Pork N' Beans. The kids heard it and started yelling, "Fork and Beans." The funny thing is that Jer can't pronounce r's and so it sounds really bad. Not a nickname we hope sticks!

Today Ali looked at me and said, "You are my enemy. I love my enemies." (Mmmm. Wonder what she learned in Sunday School yesterday?)

One day I overheard Ali telling Jer that they were going to get married. She made him hold her hands and they danced around, hugged, kissed on the lips and said they were married. It was very funny and cute. She always says she is going to marry Jer when she grows up.

Jer was putting food on his racecar placemat and I asked him what he was doing. He said, "Feeding my wace-cah."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pics from Our Week

I love having a gas stove! I never thought I'd like it more than an electric, but when I set my loaves of bread on the top, they rise sky-high! It cooks faster too! I bought a 2# bag of yeast a year and two months ago and keep it in the freezer, taking out a little to thaw every couple of weeks. That $7 bag has gone a long way and will probably last a few more months even though I bake a lot!

Playing outside on a warm Sunday afternoon. We love having our own yard! Jer even tried riding the fourwheeler by himself. He used to always say "I kared" (I'm scared) but he enjoys it now!

The moon on January 10th at sunset was supposed to be the biggest moon of 2009.

One of Ali's friends got a huge, blow-up jumping pit for Christmas so we went to her house to try it out. (It's set up indoors)

This gorgeous blanket was made by my roomie in college, Ashley Parker. She's made all of the kids one and they are amazing!

Justus got to go swimming for the first time this week. He's our only non-water-loving kid so far and he usually only takes a one or two minute bath and cries, but he didn't seem to mind the pool too much. He's trying to figure out who's holding him. (Photo cropped since I don't want any friends mad at me for putting pics of them in their swimsuits up on my blog!)

My kids sure love to swim!

Playing outside on a 55 degree day

Always wrestling around together! Yes, Jer has a hair thing in his hair. He enjoys trying out having a pigtail now and then!

The beautiful, real gold locket my hubby surprised me with as a Christmas gift. It has space for 4 photos.

Lovin' his exersaucer these days!

Our little darling

A tortilla basket Colter and Anna gave me for Christmas (from Honduras)

Homemade tortillas

Justus tries rice cereal. He didn't make as many funny faces as our other kids. He is such an eater! He scarfs it down twice a day now!
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