Monday, December 28, 2009

Handmade Spinny Speller

After seeing this Spinny Speller over at Chasing Cheerios, I thought it would be perfect for my boys (ages 4 & 6). The younger one is learning to write and likes to watch his brother take his vocabulary tests. Now with the Spinny Speller they can both work on words together. This item can be purchased at a very cool store: Let's Explore and the owner, Amy, has provided a downloadable worksheet to write the words out. Since my Dad built a garage to house all his woodworking machinery, I thought this would be the perfect project for him! So while we were there at Thanksgiving I showed him the picture and he made them in one afternoon! Way to go Dad! I used different lowercase letters for each. If you want directions on how to make this, I found them at Little Hands, Big Work. My Dad said he used a 5/16th size dowel so adjusted the whole size to fit accordingly.

On Christmas morning I nestled them in the tree. I can't say that my boys passed up their new Star Wars legos to construct 3 letter words, but they have enjoyed using it since!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Down with Santa and other ponderings

I’ve pulled it together to get another entry on my blog. During the holidays, I really have to be careful about my time and I’m afraid blogging has taken a back seat.

This week started out on a much happier note (going to a birthday party). The previous Monday, my 4 yo son stood on the side of my shopping cart (which had his sister and a cart full of groceries) and tipped it over right on the floor. Thankfully all involved only suffered a few bruises. My emotions didn’t bounce back so quickly but I am so thankful to God that there were no injuries.

We finished making our Advent calendar and have been doing various activities such as making ornaments, baking cookies, eating snowman, and my favorite: picking a family member’s name and doing something special for them until Christmas without them knowing who did it.

We have also focused sometime each day to read passages about Jesus' birth and discuss why we celebrate Christmas. It is important to my husband and I to center the excitement about Christmas on the Savior and not on what kind of gifts they get. If you would like to read a helpful article discussing a Christian's perspective about Santa you can read Thabiti Anyabwile's article entitled: "Down with Santa." I would also love to hear any suggestions you have in teaching children how to respond with grace and kindness when asked "What is Santa bringing you?"

I’ve been encouraged by the various spiritual conversations I have had with our boys recently too. The other day my 4 yo said he wished he was a grown up and the older one said “I don’t because then you die.” When I explained only God knows how long we live and that’s why it’s important to accept Jesus in your heart so you can live with Him forever, he said “Mommy, can you pray that now for us?”

I’ve also been humbled and convicted. My husband graciously offered to put away all the dishes from the dishwasher. When I reached for a glass I realized they were totally all mixed up. Now instead of being grateful for his extra act of kindness, that night as I was putting away his socks and t-shirts, I decided to mix everything up. How would he like to dig under his t-shirts for his underwear or find his socks at the bottom of the drawer? Well this lasted for about 10 minutes until I was reminded of Prov. 31:12 and realized that I am certainly not doing my husband good. So I went back and re-arranged them correctly :)

I am grateful for God’s everlasting love for us and that He is patient with us. "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people." Luke 1:68

Head on over to Home Sanctuary for Company Girl Coffee and some great reading!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Little Helper

I love that Ready to Go (21 mo) enjoys helping me in the kitchen. Whenever I'm cooking, she grabs her little chair and brings it right next to me so she can stand and help. I was cutting up vegetables to place in the crock pot and she gently placed her hand on top of mine while I cut. Then she placed the items in the pot to cook. I had to cut a little slower but the opportunity to teach her in the moment was worth it!

Quiet play

I did two quiet activities that the kids really enjoyed.

First, I played "What's Moving" with Ready to Go. I got the idea for this at Chasing Cheerios.
I was surprised at how much she enjoyed playing this game and remembered it the next day! It's very simple- just tie a string around an object and hide it under the blanket and then slowly pull it out. She loved peaking under the blanket to see the object.

The next activity helps develop hand coordination, concentration and exploration. I had a jar of old unused beans so I let Eager to Help and Ready to Go have at them. They sat on a mat (for easy clean-up) and I gave them two small bowls with various spoons to carry the beans from the jar to their cups. They requested a large bowl to make soup in. Eager to Help was calling out measurements! They enjoyed this for at least 30 min. and then we used a fun slotted spoon to pick up the extra beans off the mat.

I hope to post more quiet activities as I find them. I love finding things for them to do that helps them focus and slow down once and a while! If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them!


In an effort to spruce up our front entrance my son and I put together this pumpkin display. I was afraid the pumpkins would begin to rot before I actually had time to do this. Fortunately we had some warm weather and I finally found all the right size pumpkins. So we went to work!

The idea and tutorial came from one of my favorite blogs girltalk.

I must say the hardest thing about this project was tracking down the various pumpkins! Once I had all my material, Eager to Help and I put it together in about 20 minutes while waiting for Mr. Active to come home from school. My son really had fun helping to saw off the stem, find the little nails and help stack the pumpkins.
Here is the full picture with our friendly scarecrows. I must admit, I'm ready to say goodbye to the scarecrows but it's so fun to see my little girl bend down and say "hi" to them everytime we enter the house! (Note to self- remember to carve our extra pumpkin before doing this project so Eager to Help doesn't remove that stem too!)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Do I need to repeat myself?

How many times did I say that this week?

I've been paying a lot of attention to my words lately. Psalm 19:14 says "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." I also read a great post here and added to my list Ephesians 4:29 "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."

Some of the questions that have come to mind as a result are:

How often do I try and communicate with someone in the other room?
Ask a question while looking in the other direction?
Apologize to someone without even facing him/her?
Carry on conversations in my own mind?
Bring up a hot topic conversation at the wrong time?
Choose words that I know will hurt the other person?
Talk more than I need to?

I have been guilty of all of these not just this week, but sadly more often then I care to count.

Some examples:
I’m trying to teach my 4 yo to listen to others.
Me: Sweetie, you just interrupted me.
4 yo: MOM, that’s because I was still talking!
Me- thinking to myself- well, he never stops!

Me: I’m telling my son something I think is very important.
Son: MOM, can you please be quiet because I’m trying to think!

Now shift gears- two conversations this week with hubby, right before going to bed.
Hubby- where do we stand on our finances? Did we pay that bill? How much do we have left?
Me: what? I’m falling asleep. Can we talk about this when I’m coherent?

So the next day we reviewed the bedtime guidelines- especially the rule- NO talking finances while in bed trying to sleep! (Well, we don’t have any bedtime guidelines, but if we did this rule would be right up there!)

NEXT night while lying in bed trying to sleep
Hubby: One thing we need to get together for taxes this year are those Home Depot receipts. Do you know where they are?
Me: What? Didn’t we just agree NO talking finances?
Hubby: Yeah, but this is tax related.
Me: Ok, no talking finances or TAXES while lying in bed.

Now, I had a few of those timely conversations with him too. He calls and lets me know he's leaving work to come home and I decide this is the best time to unload the "do you know what happened today?" or "guess what our son did?" Now I don't have time to give him a full story but just enough to raise his blood pressure all the ride home. How helpful!

I’ve also noticed how much time I waste rehearsing, thinking and retelling scenarios in my mind. I play out whole conversations thinking I can predict how the other person will respond.

It's no wonder the Bible tells us to "take every thought captive" 2 Cor. 10:5. So, first we must equip ourselves with God's word and meditate on it. Then we must guard our hearts and minds on what we think and say. And, finally, be intentional about saying things that will build up and give grace.

What better way to head into Thanksgiving than by building others up, saying encouraging words, and giving thanks!

Check out Company Girl Coffee over at Rachel Anne's Home Sanctuary. Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Week in Review

Hello Company Girls and good afternoon!

We had an early start this morning with Mr. Active waking up at 6 am ready to eat breakfast. He must be going through a growth spurt because he is constantly hungry! I gave him 1/2 pb sandwich to take back to his room while I finished my quiet time. Our new routines have helped out a lot with our early morning risers and reminding them when they can come for breakfast. Today was the first time that he has come out THAT early. I think he was excited to prepare his hair for "whacky hair day" at school. Hopefully I can post pictures later.

The biggest change this week has been establishing our evening routines. I love that God is faithful to answer our prayers and we can have confidence in His watchfulness over our lives. For about 4 months, little Ms. Ready to Go (19 months) has had her own way when it came to bedtime. Whenever I put her in the crib she would say "ssss" for potty. So I would take her out and she would sit, then get up & play and occasionally go. Finally I just let her sit until I finished with the boys and then addressed her issues. But it was getting later each night until it was 9:30 pm and my hubby and I said "this has got to change!" So we have implemented a much more structured evening time infused with grace :) and have seen an amazing difference. She is no longer screaming for 45 min. and goes down within 10 min. by 7:30! Hallelujah! I'm glad that even in the trivial things we serve a BIG God who cares for us!

The other exciting thing happened yesterday and you can read about here. I have not investigated whether the snake is still in the bucket this morning- we will see!

I hope you all have a great weekend. We don't celebrate Halloween but will be joining friends for fun & fellowship at Chuck E Cheese! I don't imagine it will be too busy :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Twas the Night Before another Day of Raking Leaves!

The leaves continue falling on the ground below
our endless efforts raking- when will they go?
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a little tan snake, all coiled up in fear.

I thought, “Oh, it’s dead!” poking it with a stick,
Then before I could blink it was gone oh so quick,
When my boys heard what happened, running they came,
with a bucket and shovel, a new pet to tame!

Searching the leaves we tossed them to the sky.
It was like trying to play a game of “I Spy.”
Not knowing where this little snake withdrew,
I suddenly saw him looking frightful again too!

One scoop of the shovel he was finally caught,
I ran for my camera to get a good shot.
Now the question remains do we put him back?
What if he is poisonous and soon would attack?

Lying under a leaf, in his bucket he will rest
We’ll call the Nature Center, they know what’s best!
As for me, I’ll think twice before jumping in leaves,
Or catching a snake for boys, just to appease!

This little incident happened this afternoon. It is the second snake we have seen around in less than a month after discovering a long, dead, skin in our garage! Hopefully we will find some remedy soon. Any suggestions? We will keep you posted as the saga continues!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Start Small, Think BIG!

Our new family theme: Start Small, Think Big

This week we are focusing on the little tasks that can become habits that fit into our daily routine.

I must admit, I always think Big and then try to accomplish the end goal all at once. The end result? An unfinished task and an overwhelmed and frustrated Mama!

So I have thought about some of my goals and have broken them down into smaller ones.

For example: I am trying to manage my home better and not be the only one who does everything for everyone. The latter may produce the results that I want but it is not helpful in equipping my kids or helping me focus on other things that interest me.

So my goal: to equip the kids & hubby to be responsible for various jobs around the home

Smaller goals: identifying specific areas that need attention
1. Entrance: keep shoes orderly, pick-up clutter, sort incoming mail
2. Dining Room- meal prep- silverware, plates, napkins, drinks, meal, sweep floor
3. Hallway Bathroom- wash around the toilet, wash down the sink, straigthen towels
4. Kitchen- dishes loaded & unloaded, sweep floor, mop floor
5. Living Room- pick up clutter
6. Boys Bedroom- clean up, maintaining individual routines

Now that I have narrowed down some main problem areas, I pick one area to focus on and assign jobs to various people. They own that job and I teach them if necessary how to do it. Then I follow through with the most important part: Inspection. They have to know I'm serious and that consequences will follow.

So for this week:
6. Boys Bedroom-
7:30 am- the boys understand that they need to be dressed w/bedroom picked-up for breakfast. If they do this everyday they get 1 minute added on to their 10 min. video game playing on Friday.
7:30 pm - the boys understand that they need to have brushed teeth, use potty & in pjs for a story before bed. If they do this everyday they get 10 minutes added on to their 30 min. video watching on Saturday.

Now if they are not ready or they get out of bed after saying goodnight (except maybe to use the potty), then the consequence is subtracting the appropriate amount to their overall time.

Bedtimes have been such a struggle since school started we are focusing on this one first in terms of applying consequences.

2. Dining Room- we are also giving each child a little job to help prepare dinner. There are no consequences at this point since we are teaching this idea (although I did share the story about a mom who served food directly on the table since the child responsible for plate setting was watching TV and the other kids quickly got his attention and made him do his job!) The kids loved this!

The tasks:
Ready to Go (almost 2) - puts her plastic plate and her brothers on the table
Eager to Help (four) - puts the napkins out
Mr. Active (six) - sets the table with silverware
Hubby- gets drinks & side dish
Me- all things food related

It has been so helpful just to think through this! I must admit it requires me to let go of the "control" factor that I like to depend on but it is SO freeing knowing that I can delegate and expect results. We will see how this week goes!

Do you have any helpful routines or tips on including the kids in getting the job done? I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Routine Catch-up

Hello Company Girls and anyone else who has stopped by my blog. Two months in and I am really having fun with this blog even though I'm still trying to figure things out- like where do I enter the code for the Company Girl button to show up on my site?

Week in review: we are finally back on track after all the kids' colds. My oldest had some strange fever with terrible aches for 2 days, then it was gone, leaving behind a barking cough. Although this morning my hubby has a temp, aches and nausea (oh no!). I'm thankful that I was able to attend Bible study after missing it two weeks in a row. How refreshing to study God's word and be encouraged and spurred on by others!

My husband and I have been motivated this week to clear out the clutter, organize and work on our family routine. When school started for my oldest, I stuck an acronym to help with his morning routine on his door. It went: GUM & GO = Get up, Use potty, wash hands, brush teeth, Make bed, Get dressed, Out for breakfast. He followed it ok but it was new and a bit much to get used to all at once. So this week we dropped making the bed and brushing teeth before breakfast and explained that breakfast was served at 7:30 then he must brush teeth and be ready for the bus. Having a set time is the biggest help because that gives my morning structure. I know that my responsibilities must be completed before that time in order for breakfast to run smoothly.

My husband and I are also tackling our basement with its mountain of boxes that have accumulated over the years. It's amazing how we weigh ourselves down with stuff we don't even remember having! I love the recent challenge that Amy gave herself to Reduce Clutter in Your Home and it has inspired us to take a brutal look at all our stuff!

Now I'm going to relax with some fresh molasses cookies and a glass of cold milk (sorry, no coffee since it has been enabling me to stay up too late) and wait for my hubby to call so I can pick him up from work early- he still had to go in :( Have a great weekend!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Saturday Super Cleaning Fun

I came across a great idea to encourage kids to clean from organizer Sandra Felton. I combined two of her suggestions: using a timer and categorizing, we looked for all the white things we could pick up within 15 minutes. If the job was done before the buzzer, we would enjoy a white treat (ice cream) afterwards. Bonus: any other items needing to be picked up would earn sprinkles on top! We all pitched in and I was surprised just how many white things they found and the other items were picked up too!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fake it Home Baking

The crisp fall weather brings back memories of homemade apple pie and hot apple cider. I love how the aroma fills the air and makes the house feel warm and inviting. Now I usually don't have the luxury to bake apple pies everyday but I have found one quick and easy way to make it seem like I did.
Fill a pot halfway with water, add a cinnamon stick, 1 tbsp whole cloves, 2 tsp whole allspice and let simmer on the stove. You can also throw in orange peel or lemon peel for a bit of a twist!

Hall Closet Redo

Inspired and motivated by this week's challenge over at Home Sanctuary, I tackled my hall closet. It was turning into a junk drawer gone wild and needed some serious attention! Since my original gift center was simply a small drawer with wrapping paper somewhere else waiting to be found, I was excited to see Rachel's closet idea and that got me thinking. I cleaned everything out, covered the shelves, and put the gift center on the top shelf. I was amazed at what had found its way into this closet and SO glad to have organized it. I made a shelf for household tools, all the light bulbs and flashlights, and paper towels & toilet paper. I even have a shelf leftover!

The best thing, after having this completed, was handling the unexpected power outrage that we woke up to the next day. I was able to go into the closet, press the newly installed battery powered light I put on the wall and find my flashlight and extra lights we needed to function in the dark! I am still figuring out what to do with the extra long wrapping paper that didn't fit up on top. Any suggestions would be welcomed! Thanks Rachel and hello to any Company Girls that have stopped over to check out my blog!



Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fall Nature Table

I've seen this idea on several blogs and have wanted to do something with my playroom table instead of collecting junk. So, I'm even offering my before and after pictures. Brace yourselves!

Before: a cluttered mess where items get dropped.

After: a collection of our Fall and Apple Themes

Books about Johnny Appleseed
and 10 Apples Up on Top
Cut & Paste Apple Tree
Fall tree using colored egg shells

Another fall collage using colored egg shells

Display of pumpkins from farm field trip

Items collected from nature walk, corn milled at Farm Day, books on the Harvest Moon

It was hard to get a full picture where you could visualize everything. The kids were very excited to see the transformation! Much nicer than the cluttered table. I'm hoping to change it regularly depending on the season- so check back later!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Natural Girl

I love watching my girl grow and learn. I'm amazed at how naturally she cares for her babies (any stuffed animal). She wraps them, lays them down for naps, feeds them in her high chair,
teaches them to use the potty, gives them her bottle and takes them for rides on her ice-cream truck. This is certainly a girl thing and it's so fun! My boys NEVER did this. They were not even interested! Here are some pictures of her laying the baby down for a nap.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fall Foliage Collage

I found this great idea for our fall theme theme at Ten kids and a Dog. We had some white egg shells just ready to use so we put them in vinegar and food coloring in the morning. At lunch the boys and I set them out to dry and in the afternoon, when little Ready to Go was sleeping, we went to work. At first we did a leaf print but then I thought it would be perfect on a large tree. Here are the results.

Mr. Active's fall tree.

Eager to Help's tree with leaves
falling down.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Menu Plan Sunday

Colder weather = homemade soups! Here are the meals I'm going to try:

Breakfast: - Bacon, cheese & egg biscuit cups

Sunday: Loaded Baked Potato Soup, homemade bread
Monday: Cheese-Stuffed Meatloaf, egg noodles, corn
Tuesday: Crock-pot Vietnemese Pho Soup w/ bean sprouts, basil and cilantro
Wed: Salmon Cakes, carrot sticks and Parmesan Couscous
Thursday: Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup, buttermilk biscuits

Friday: Homemade Pizza (kids-plain cheese, adults-spinach, fresh tomato, garlic)
Saturday: Apple Smoked Chicken Sauage with Zuchini, Red peppers and Orzo

Egg biscuits-makes a quick breakfast for kids and nice snack too. I used sausage and found that it burned when I cooked it in the oven. Next time I'll try it with bacon.

Baked Potato Soup- my picky eater's new favorite! The second time I made this I substituted a sweet potato for one white and it still tasted delicious.

Stuffed meatloaf- I also stuffed mine with spinach and the chopped onion. My husband would have preferred it served with mashed potatoes instead of egg noodles.

Crock-pot Vietnemese Pho Soup- I didn't have time to get it into the crock-pot but the stove worked fine and was faster. I used Chinese 5 spice since I didn't have any of the seasonings. The only problem was the broth was not clear but had all the spices floating in it. I also had to add some red pepper flakes to jazz it up a bit.

Rustic Tortellini Italian Soup- my picky eater's next new favorite. Very simple and hearty.
Apple, smoked chicken sauage- not a repeat

Thursday, October 1, 2009


I have been doing EC with my girl, "Ready to Go", beginning around 6 months. At first I put her on the potty occasionally and would make a "ssss" sound encouraging her to go. She did once and a while and we just continued from there. When she was 12 months I found the book Diaper Free Baby at the library, read it, and decided we would start doing this more seriously.

Once she was weaned around 13 months I discovered that the main reason she was waking up during the night was because she was wet and not because she wanted to be fed. I just assumed she was always hungry and never considered that she was only uncomfortable. So I began letting her use the potty when she woke at night and then put her right back to bed.

During the summer I let her run around in undies and so I could track her routine. I primarily wanted her to learn for herself when she had to go. The interesting trend I noticed was that if she had a poo she may start to pee a little, but then indicate right away and would then poo on the potty. I also paid close attention to her body movements and facial expressions. I could tell while she was sitting in the high chair and focused her attention on something, getting a bit flushed that she was about to go. I quickly took her and she was much happier eating after that!

One challenging thing that has been happening since around 16 months is her manipulating her signal for pee "ssss". She would use it to get down from the high chair or the more clever tactic of delaying going to bed. If I put her in her crib she would say "ssss" and I would take her out and sit her on the potty, read books or do a puzzle. After a while she may pass a drip or two and then say "all done!" I'd put her in the crib and the same thing would happen all over again.

At 19 months she is still doing this and it has become a very big obstacle in getting our two other boys in bed. She is really manipulating the situation. Two EC gals recommended having a strict bedtime routine where she uses the potty, reads 2 books, sings a song, brushes teeth and is offered potty again before getting dressed and put to bed. Lately, we have been doing this for her naps and bedtime routines. At first she resisted trying to pull the same act but after a few days she is going to bed closer to her normal time and with less fuss.

It's amazing to me how much little ones can control the situation if you let them. She was determined to go to bed when she felt like it. She would even go pee in her diaper while I was putting it on if she didn't want to go to bed. I hesistate putting her to sleep without one since she hasn't made it through the night dry and would probably wet herself just to avoid going to sleep.

So I'm excited that we seem to be making marked progress and I feel a lot less stress over the situation because I have a plan!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Family Fun Day

Yeah, it's Friday!

Around here, Fridays are a big deal. Well, at least to my boys. They know that sometime during the day we will have fun since it is officially known as Friday Fun Day! However, I have been dragging myself along all morning since Eager to Help fell out of bed at 3:30 this morning and I didn't return back to sleep. I did, however, get up, have a good quiet time, prepare the breakfast table, clean the dishes I didn't get to, load the dishwasher, exercised and took a shower all before the kids heard me moving around 6:40. Whew!

No wonder the room or maybe I was spinning by 10:00 am! Thankfully my little girl was exhausted too so I gave her an early nap and let her brother play with legos while I slept an hour! Wow- do I feel great! Could this be the start of a new routine? I don't think so! But I am glad to have a some things done and didn't just sit in bed letting the hours go by wishing I were asleep.

The week did fly by and we are gradually getting used to a new school routine. My oldest is in first grade and has a full day, which was very hard for him the first week. Now his system is adjusting and I am realizing my own mornig schedule needs rethinking too in order for the mornings to go smoothly (but that will have to be another post!).

So, tonight's fun will be homemade pizza which the boys are eager to help make and a game of Sequence. My husband plays this game with them and I keep little Ready to Go out of the way in the process, usually playing with extra game pieces. Since they are usually exhausted by the end of the week, we keep bed routines pretty similar so they can get some extra sleep on Saturday.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Whose who

I thought it would be fun to describe the crew whom I'm blessed to be around. I've thought of fun titles that seem to fit their personalities (so far!).

Hubby- (Go to Man) whenever kids/I have questions or problems we go directly to him. He has the level head and usually sees through whatever is manipulating or confusing. I love his diverse interests- sports, travel, good literature, food and politics. Age- undisclosed! If he were a book he would probably be an Encyclopedia!

My oldest son, (Mr. Active) loves anything sports related. He brings the energy to our house and fills it with action. When he is not around he is noticeably missed. He is 6. If he were a book he would be an Adventure Story.

My middle son, (Eager to Help) whenever I'm cooking I hear "Mom, I can help with that." He enjoys quiet activites but has a sneaky side which keeps you on your toes. He is 4. If he were a book he would be a Mystery Novel/DIY handbook.

My youngest girl, (Ready to Go) bubbles with personality and a quick "hi" to everyone. She has a daring side to her that makes my heart skip a beat. She is 18 months. She would be a Thriller!

Week 1 All about Me

General week's schedule:
Songs: Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes, BINGO w/ child's name
Key Verse: Ps. 139:14 I am fearfully and wonderfully made
Books: A House for Birdie by Stuart Murphy, Hands, Hands, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins and The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss

Favorite Things: discussed favorite: toy, book, snack, color, sport, game and ask what they want to be when they grow up. Record answers to save for later activity.
Review letters in his name and talk about other things that begin with each letter.

Preschool Day Activities:
Songs: Head, Shoulder, knees and toes and BINGO using child's name:

There was a mom who had a boy
and Evan was his name-o
and Evan was his name-o

What's in a Name: write child's name in large block letters on cardstock. Have them glue beans, pasta and rice inside.
Outlines: child lays down on butcher paper and is outlined. Then he gets to decorate it using whatever materials you have around the house.
Favorite things: discussed above answers
Family Tree: draw a picture of a tree with branches signifying each member of the family. Cut out apples for each family member labeling each with the first letter of their name and glue them onto the tree. Have the child glue pictures next to the correct apples.

Talk about who is in our family
Name game: write family members' names on index cards two times and then make an additional card with just the first letter of each name (could be upper or lowercase). Have child pick a single letter and then find names that begin with that letter. You could also do it reverse and match names first then find the correct beginning letter.

Make hand prints with poem - see All about Me theme from
Favorite Books: find pictures of favorite items and glue them onto white paper, staple them together to create a small book. Have the child color his self-portrait on front.

Label body parts
Computer: complete facial jig-saw puzzles found at: Great exercise and you can adjust the puzzle difficulty

Play Balloon Tap by calling out certain body parts (ex. elbow, finger, head) to hit the balloon without letting it fall on the ground


This week we are starting a co-op preschool in which two other moms and myself will alternate teaching, helping, and caring for younger siblings. The book we are working from is Kitchen Table Play & Learn by Tara Copley & Andrea Custer.

The units are based on various themes with lots of hands on activities and a bit of preparation for the teacher. It will be great for "Eager to Help" to have some other boys his age to work and play with. I will also supplement throughout the week with various activities related to that week's theme. This is another reason I was eager to set-up this website so that I can keep track of all the things we do.

Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any other fun ideas related to the theme of the week.

Friday, September 11, 2009

remembering 9/11

At the time of 9/11 I lived in Arlington, not too far from the Pentagon. I remember teaching an adult piano student in my home that morning and hearing a distant but strange sound from outside. We looked out and seeing nothing, resumed the lesson. Then we started to hear a lot of commotion (sirens and police) more than usual and turned on the TV. We couldn't believe our eyes. It was unthinkable. My heart ached as we watched the horror unfold on TV. We both tried to reach our husbands who worked in downtown DC. No chance. The phones were busy.

We stopped watching the TV and began praying together for all those involved. My student then left for home so she could be there for her son. I resumed watch over the situation on TV.

I was so relieved when my husband came home. We embraced and he shared how downtown was just a nightmare. Traffic jams and police everywhere- it was chaos. We continued to pray and found it very hard to function without knowing what was happening on TV. In a very real way I remember sensing for the first time that our time here on earth is truly in God's hands.

We are here for a short time to live for Him, to glorify Him and honor Him with our lives. We are not to live in fear of what man will do to us, what others' will think of us or how others will judge us. I pray that each day I grow more and more in awe and fear of the Almighty God who orders my steps and fills me with joy and hope even in the most difficult circumstances. May you also find His peace that passes all understanding, give you strength for whatever you are facing.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sunshine Pancakes

I came across this idea from Skip to My Lou and loved it! It gets the kids smiling, even in the morning!

First I put the faces on the grill, flip them, and then add the remaining batter around it to create the face. Then I flip the whole pancake once more to cook it through.

This way they eyes and mouth "pop" and it looks like a carved pumpkin. The kids also enjoy adding blueberry or chocolate chip eyes and a strawberry nose.

From the Beginning

Hello! I'm glad you've stopped by. As you can tell, I've just started this blog and honestly have no idea what I'm doing, so you'll see me learn through the process. When I read blogs out in the cyberworld, I am very impressed with how folks put it all together and hopefully I'll pick up some tips.

The reason for this blog:
The beginning of summer, 2009, I was so excited. My kindergartner was going to be home during the day to enjoy time with his two younger siblings. I had ordered Hooked on Phonics to keep him motivated in reading for the summer, the teacher sent home workbooks to complete, he had his journal to write in and Math U See blocks ready. By the end of July he was soaring with HOP, however, completing the workbooks was like pulling teeth, the journal was thought of occasionally and his younger brother decided to use the blocks for building things.

One day was particularly hard. They were overtired from going to bed later than usual and I had my “agenda” to complete with them. As I thought over the day and browsed various blogs for ideas, I stumbled across Skip to My Lou blogspot and saw “Start your day off with a smile! Pancakes”. It dawned on me that what was missing was planned fun. I plan the essentials (discussed above) and let the rest of the day fall as it may, praying they just get along. I was focused on him completing the workbook, learning to read, counting by 10’s that I missed the joy of them having fun together. I needed to plan and think of creative things to do!

I do come up with fun, creative ideas and crafts with a bit of effort, but more often I find what really gets me motivated is seeing what others have done and then I get inspired to go from there. Hopefully this website will do the same for you!