Monday, November 21, 2011

My Father's World--The Letter O (Octopus)

Last week's letter was O and we studied the octopus.  The key words were:
Even the octopus praises the Lord.
My friend Kristin, whose blog greatly inspires my lessons, had lots of good ideas for the letter O.

We began our school week by doing Operation Christmas Child boxes.  Perfect timing since Operation begins with O, and last week was collection week.  We invited some friends to do it with us so we all shopped together and then went back to my friend's home to assemble the boxes.
She whipped out craft supplies so the kids could design a card to go with their box. 

The 4 kids with their packed boxes and cards.  This was my 14th year doing a OCC box and I'm so excited to see my kids getting involved in it!  Ali chose things for a little girl, and the boys picked out things for 6-year-old boys.  (Justus copies EVERYTHING his brother does so they got identical items for their boys who they wanted to be the very mature age of 6.)  It was hard for lil' Justus to understand that we weren't buying toys for us.  When we first entered the store he said, when asked who he would like to buy toys for, "I want to buy toys for ME!!!" 

Odds and Ends
My mom brought these fun laminated games by our house and they loved matching the shapes, colors, animals, etc.  My mom teaches 1st and 2nd grade at the local Christian school and always has activities/papers/games/books to loan the kids.

Oatmeal apple muffins and "O" rings from apples were a yummy snack one day!  (My recipe is below for your enjoyment!)

Our kids LOVE olives!  Every year the boys request olive pizza for their birthdays.  So, getting to eat a whole can at one meal and getting to make their own Olive Pizza Bagels for dinner one night was oh, so fun!

Since Mommy doesn't like olives, she ate O-shaped Onion pizza!

We did some worksheets on the letter O...

...and our usual weekly binder page.  Justus' orange octopus was made by tracing around his fingers.

Every week we color one of these letters filled with plants and animals that begin with that letter.  (Another resource from my mom)
Jeremiah colored this one and said, "Look at all the colors!  I think it is just beautiful!"

I spoiled them with peach ring candies that are O-shaped because they spent a lot of time in the van running errands with me one day as we searched all over town for computer paper to print off school worksheets.  After hitting 4 stores and finding none, we returned home and had a friend get us some in a different town a few days later.  One of the drawbacks to living in Hickville is having the hardest time finding anything you need for projects.   

One other "O" thing we got to try was oroblancos.  Oroblancos are a green-colored slightly sweet grapefruit.  They came in our Bountiful Basket the week before, just in time for O week!

We read A House for Hermit Crab and some other books on the ocean.  We watched some youtube and National Geographic Kids videos on the octopus.  The boys, who love all things scary and dangerous, thought the deadly blue-ringed octopus was especially neat.  I found the video where the octopus nabs a shark and kills him to be the most amazing! 

Here is my self-tweaked recipe for the muffins:

Oat Apple Muffins

2 c. rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick will do)
2 c. buttermilk (or milk with some lemon juice added)
2 c. whole wheat flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 c. sucanat, rapadura, or brown sugar
1 c. applesauce
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. olive oil or melted butter
1/2 c. raisins (optional)
2 medium Granny Smith apples (don't peel but chop into tiny pieces)

Mix wet ingredients together.  Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix.  Put in muffin cup liners and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.  Makes 24 yummy muffins.

Cooking With Kate--A Recipe for Cute Pics

A Recipe for Cute Pictures

First you find your inspiration, whether it be a theme, a place, or a cute prop,
like this teeny tiny apron I found in our Closet Thrift Store in the basement. 
I don't know who gave it to us, but it is darling!


In advance lay out everything you need for the "recipe"
by brainstorming how you can piggyback off of the cute prop...

Add your cute little darling to the mix, and you will definitely have the most important part of your recipe!  Be sure your little one is well-rested and fed beforehand so the mood of the shoot is cheerful and not filled with tears.

Let your little one have fun!  Be less about posing her/him and more about watching him/her and catching her/his delight and exploration....

Put all these ingredients in a pan called SIMPLE.  You want to simplify your background and exclude anything that would be a distraction and take away from the photo instead of adding to it.

Add a dash of humor and a pinch of fun on top by being silly or singing their favorite song....

...and bake in an oven of LOVE!  Remember the camera looks both ways...a photo is never just about what is in the picture but about how you FEEL about what's in the picture.  These are not just pictures of Katrielle, they are pics of this Mama's heart too....

Ta-Da!  Follow this recipe for super-sweet pics of your little ones!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Eating My Frogs--7 Down, 3 to Go!

So, here is my list of 10 things I've been putting off, whether intentionally, or because I have so much going already that it's hard to prioritize them, that I want to get done before the crazy holiday season starts:

1. Mending (I have 5-10 things that have been sittting in a pile for......far too long...)

2. Paperwork--every year I have to fill out some paperwork that involves copying all of our SS cards and driver's licenses and answering tons of questions and photocopying our taxes, etc. I hate it and always put it off, but not this year!

3. Painting--My kitchen still has a corner that I didn't finish because I ran out of paint. I now have the paint, but haven't made the time. I want to at least finish up the kitchen and hallway before winter.

4. Mail charitable contributions--Though it sounds horrible that I would procrastinate doing this, it all goes back to hating paying bills and paperwork. It's not intentional, and some things like our child sponsorship are automatic electronic transfer thankfully! The money is there and ready to be given, but before you know it, months have passed and I've forgotten to write and send the check. So people like my brother, who is a missionary with CEF, get 4 fat checks a year instead of a monthly small check.

5. Organize Photo Files---This task all by itself is incredibly daunting because of the volume of photos I shoot. So, I'm breaking it into 2 parts. #1: Delete unwanted photos.  Update:  I've started....just need to finish

6. Photo Files #2--Sort pics into folders. I'm 18  11 months behind in doing this. That may not sound like much, but that translates into about 200 folders behind and about 5,000 photos that need to be organized.

7. Go through the sock bin and match and fold socks.

8. Get my hair cut. I usually just have my hubby trim it, but even finding a time to do that seems hard since I have to actually get a shower first to wet my hair and do it during the time he is home and we aren't rushing off to church. I know some women are gasping at the thought of putting off something as important as their hair, but with 4 young kids and homeschooling, that's where I find myself!

9. Biking on the exercise bike for 20 minutes or more each day. With winter approaching, our frequent family bike rides and walks to the park, hikes, etc. are going to disappear. I'm not an exercise-person that gets a big rush out of exercising. For me, it always feels like work, and in a busy life, it's the first thing that gets cut out. But, it is a great way to continue healing from PPD and get back in shape after baby, so I need to do it. So, I'd like to stop putting it off!

10. Taking my fish oil vitamin daily. It smells weird and is huge, and with tons of vitamins to take each day, it's almost always "put off." But, I have noticed a huge difference when I am faithfully taking my evening primrose and fish oil vitamins. So, I want to get back on track with taking this one....gag... 

I have been "in the mood" to organize photo files lately so I think I'll start on that today and commit to deleting/organizing 10 files a day until it's done (which should take 20 days).  I'm making exercise my top priority, joining Crystal in her "21 Days to a More Disciplined Life" series on so hopefully I can start making it a habit.

This exercise has been really fun, and by doing these projects which I consider truly boring/painful/horrible I have been more motivated to get other things done too, like sending out thank-you's that are overdue, making things I've put off sewing for a long time, finishing craft projects I started, de-cluttering different rooms of the house, etc. etc.  Finishing one project definitely motivates you to finish another, and another, and another!  I'm anxious to hear if any of my readers here have finished projects too!  Please share in the comments how you are doing.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Father's World--The Letter D (Dinosaur)

We spent 2 weeks on Dinosaurs because they are such a popular subject with our boys.  And I still had tons of ideas I was going to do with them that we didn't get to!

As a special treat, we had donuts for snack one day!

I went to for some printables, including this dino math worksheet
on counting by 5's for Ali.  (Thanks to my friend Kristin for this tip!)

My bulk food order arrived just in time!  We have 10# of dinosaur nuggets in the freezer.  The kids enjoyed playing with/eating them for lunch a couple of times.  I won't tell you what they called the ketchup.....eeww!

One day we made these Little Foot crafts.  Our kids love to borrow The Land Before Time movies from the library, so they love Little Foot and all of his friends.  They went to the library with Daddy one evening and picked out "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Dora" because they both had D's in them!

We colored some pictures of their favorite dinosaurs and got their binder pages made.  This week's theme was "Big and small, God made them all."

Katri even got in on some of the action, playing dinosaurs with her bros.

This book, which we ordered a couple of months ago, used, on was an EXCELLENT read.  We read it through a couple of times and talked a lot about what happened to the dinosaurs and why they are extinct, questions my kids have often asked.  I found, like my friend Kristin, that most of the books in the library on dinosaurs stated a lot of things as fact that are mere theory.  For this reason, I think this is a great book to buy if you are doing this curriculum or have kids interested in dinosaurs and want a creationist perspective.

Justy doing a magnetic dinosaur puzzle we have.

The kids tacked a sign to the wall that said:  Reptile Gardens

They used their blankets to make various pens in which their animal pets could live in.  They had a dinosaur section, as well as bugs, lizards, a monkey play area, an elephant pen, etc.

The snow only lasted a couple of days but they sure had fun in it while it was here!  It was little K.K.'s first time to play in it!

We also read lots of dinosaur books, which the boys were thrilled about!  I would have liked to have them do a dinosaur puppet play, use their dinosaur ink stamps to make dino cards, make dinosaur stompers (I've been saving kleenex boxes for months so that we could paint them, glue claws on, and use them as dino shoes), dig for pretend dinosaur bones, make dinosaur bone pictures out of pasta, etc. but alas, it was not to be!  In this two-week span we had our first big snow, Halloween/Harvest Party activities, Jer's 5th birthday, a Beth Moore conference I attended, my first-ever wedding photographer job, the AWANA talent show, our weekly Truth Project Bible Study, Pray and Play, a birthday luncheon I hosted for my brother, a family dinner, etc. etc. 
Next year I plan to use this same curriculum for the boys since we are all loving it.  This year I'm just using it as a pre-school curriculum, and next year we will go through it as Jeremiah's formal Kindergarten curriculum.  So, next year, hopefully we will get to do some of the activities we didn't get to this year!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Beth Moore Weekend

I have only been in one Beth Moore study, which was 5 years ago, and don't know much about Beth Moore except that women flock to her in droves and seem to adore her.  I wasn't planning to go to the conference in my state but then my sis-in-law invited me to go away for a girls' weekend with her and I decided it sounded fun.  My mom ended up joining us last minute too!  We had a wonderful day and a half together.  Beth's messages were touching and encouraging, we got time to shop at an actual mall (a big deal here in Wyoming), I got to love on my baby nephew who came along, we ate at the Olive Garden, visited with some missionary friends who hosted us for the night, and had good conversation.  I'm so glad we went!  I had been feeling spiritually dry and overwhelmed and exhausted and this short conference was EXACTLY what I needed.  A shot in the arm to give me fresh energy, vision, and desire to grow closer to God.

Here were Beth's main points:

1.  We are all begging for something
(My name is Beggar Lindsey)

2.  Sometimes we beg for the lesser thing we need
(the beggar in Acts 3 was asking for money instead of healing)
I often beg for peace, quiet, ease, comfort, praise, instead of asking for God's presence and strength in the midst of the chaos of living

3.  Sometimes what we need from a person is just a a hand
(Just listening to someone can sometimes give them a handful of faith)
I'm so thankful for the people in my life who encourage me, over and over, no matter how imperfect I am.  My hubby is one of them!

4.  Nothing will leave us as lame as trying to make gods of people
(In our innermost person, the strongest drive we have is to have a god we can see.  However, when people are worshipped they become a freak show.  Only God can handle our worship.  We tend to either idolize or demonize people, but they are just people.)
It's easy to idolize a famous Christian we respect, or an author, or a friend or family member whose approval we seek.

5.  To experience the true magnitude of our healing, we to stop clinging to people and cling only to Jesus (Col. 2:19) and start WALKING

6.  Those who learned to walk are also called to talk
(Psalm 45:1  Never confuse boldness with meanness, share the Gospel with joy)
We may not all be called to get on a stage, but we need to be willing to share our story and study the Word that we might become teachers of it someday

7.  We can't force healing on people
(We want to make a formula out of our experience, but the more you force healing on someone, the more they will reject it)
How easy it is to "make a formula" out of everything, especially when you are a blogger!  We have to wait on God's timing and His plan for that person in our lives.  Taking them through a book, or circumstance, or to a conference that changed us won't work on them, because it's God, not a formula, that heals.

8.  God can use our healing to make others want theirs.
Being authentic with people and avoiding "Christianese" when talking to them will make them crave the healing we have found in Jesus.

Our homework was to fill in the blanks:

I have no_______________

But what I do have is____________________
(every Christian should have Jesus at the top of this list!)

This was a great exercise for me because so often I feel like I don't have any free time, energy, money, etc. to give.  But it was good to focus on the things I do have....things that God has given me to share, like faith, prayer, encouragement, etc.  Peter and John didn't have silver and gold to give the beggar, but they did have the Gospel and God's healing to give and they did.  God is not asking me to give all kinds of things to others that I don't have, but to take the things He has given me and use them for His glory.  Realizing this is incredibly freeing, especially since I regularly get asked to take on and do more things in a week than I can possibly do. 

I also appreciated how she emphasized that the Greek word in the Acts 3 passage is a continuous action verb:  BE WALKING.  The lame man was a clear miracle of rehabilitation.  We, too, are beggars in need of rehab.  When Jesus heals us, we need to BE WALKING.  Lately I've felt more like I've been sitting down spiritually.  It was a good message for me, that I need to "walk out continually" the healing I've received from my sin.

All in all, a very good conference, though it was far too short!  A few hours in the evening and 4 hours in the morning just felt like too little time to process all the teaching and spend time meditating and reflecting on it.  I think we moms could use a 4-7 day spiritual conference or retreat every now and then!  But, I realize this is unrealistic because of how busy everyone's lives are.  I have to say, I have NEVER seen more women gathered together in my life!  Just goes to show you what a hick I am, but 2,400 women seemed like a sea of people!  And surprisingly, Beth said that 20 different states were represented in the audience!  The most amazing thing, was that 10 women went forward during the altar call and prayed with the volunteers to receive Jesus!  When I saw people going forward, I actually had to avert my eyes.  I was overcome by what a sacred moment it was and was starting to bawl watching lots of women go forward for prayer or for salvation.  I felt like it was too holy to look upon in that moment.  Awesome!

As we returned home, I thought about the conference and wondered, "Why is it that I feel such a need to go to a conference or retreat once or twice a year?  Why doesn't the teaching/encouragement seem to last?"  Then I was reminded that just as we continually need to eat, we continually need to feed on God's Word.  In the same way, if we read the Word once a month, it's like eating once a month, and we need DAILY food.  It's wonderful to have a full-blown feast a few times a year, on our birthday, anniversary, or Thanksgiving, etc.  And conferences are like the equivalent of Thanksgiving.  It's so good to sit down to a feast of God's Word and to be filled with so many good things that we take home leftovers that can sustain us for a while.

Have you ever done a Beth Moore study or been to one of her events?  I'm curious to see what you all think of her?

Yesterday Jer Bear celebrated 5 years!  We ate Lucky Charms, blueberry muffins, Ramen noodles, fruit snacks, and olive pizza at his request for our meals.  He got the Lightning McQueen umbrella he's been wanting for a year, as well as some Cars 2 toys, a Cars scooter, a Bobcat (machine) toy, a huge stuffed alligator, and a few other things.  We took the day off of school and watched Cars 2 together.  It was an exciting and fun day, and it was especially nice that we didn't have the stomach flu, as we've had 4 other years on or close to his birthday!  It's hard to believe 5 years have gone by!  We love our sweet, tender-hearted little guy and it's exciting to see him growing and becoming more mature.

Jeremiah wanted a snowmobile cake.  I couldn't find a snowmobile toy, after checking in at least 7 stores, so I made him one from duplo blocks, and he still loved it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Two Weeks of Dinosaurs

If you are wondering why I haven't put up last week's dinosaur-themed school pics it's because we are taking a second week to study dinosaurs since my boy's love them soooo much!  Next Monday I'll have a post up with all of our "D" activities.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Baby Katrielle is One!

Last Friday, our tiny girl had a birthday!

I'm so thankful God has blessed our family with this little one! 
She is such a delight to us.

She LOVES the song "I'm a Little Teapot" so I ended up decorating her room with that theme.  We also decided to do a teapot birthday for her.  I found a darling cloth teapot set at the thrift store and washed it really well for her.  I also found a musical tea seat (new-in-box) this summer at a yard sale for $1 which I gave her. 

I stuck two cupcakes together and made this cake.

Opening gifts chosen and wrapped by her brothers!  Yay!

Alathia chose this crown and jewels toy for Katri because her name means "God is My Crown."

Having 3 big siblings is a ready-made party!

My brother Grant, who works in the oil industry in Pennsylvania, just came home for a visit and was able to come to her party.  But Kate is going through a timid stage, especially with Grandpas and Uncles, so she was not happy about him holding her!

And even though she's seen a lot of Uncle Colter recently, she didn't want him to hold her either!

My mom got her a little tea set that makes pouring sounds and says "Please" and "Thank You"
She loved it soooo much she wouldn't put the tea cups down, not even to drink her bottle!

At lunchtime, we ended up going to the Mexican restaurant to see my brother and had a great time, as my entire family was together.  Since it was her birthday, the waitresses brought out the birthday sombrero and sang to Katrielle and gave her a free birthday dessert of fried ice-cream....

....which everyone was happy to eat for her since she's too little for sweets!
(These pics are from my mom's old camera--so they're not the best quality!)

Someone gave us this brand-new dress for Katri and I thought it would be perfect if it had a little teapot on it.  My friend Amanda found some darling teacup fabric at the thrift store for me, and I used it to sew an applique on the dress and teacup sleeve cuffs.  I even made a little hair band to match.  I love having little girls to dress up!

All in all, I think it was a pretty wonderful day for our little Kay-kay!  We are excited to see how she learns and grows this coming year.  She is our "mystery girl" whom we haven't quite figured out yet.  She is sometimes compliant and mellow, sometimes stubborn and strong-willed, sometimes a go-getter, sometimes a cuddler, sometimes quiet and shy, sometimes outgoing and loud, but always very curious!  (The kids and I sometimes call her "Curious Kate" instead of Curious George.)  She has had a rough month, with a bad cold that lasted 3 weeks, pink eye, roseola, an ear infection, and cutting her eye teeth, but on her birthday she was perfectly healthy and happy, go figure!  October and November are rough months in our town as far as sickness goes, so not having to cancel her party felt like a miracle!
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