Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Building a Table

Today, my four-year-old taught me how to build a table.

First, you take the milk crate that Mom has filled with hats, scarves and mittens and you dump out the contents.

Then, you take four scraps of wood of similar lengths out of Daddy's workshop.

Place the wooden "legs" through the corner holes in the milk crate.

Borrow one of Mom's tin signs and place it on top of the four legs.

Finally, pull up a chair and enjoy your new table!

Today, I was inspired by her ingenuity. She was determined to build a table. She walked around with her tools looking for inspiration. Several attempts failed but she persisted. In the end, she was so proud of her table. Her little brother enjoyed it too... it's just the right size for him and she was willing to share. Everyone wins!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Beautifulest Christmas Tree Ever

We woke up this morning to this...

Yippee! I just love the snow! What a way to welcome December!!!

Last night, a branch had fallen out of our Cottonwood. So, our daughter, fresh off of our Christmas Tree hunt, decided that this fallen branch would work for a reenactment of our tree hunt. We dragged that branch all over our backyard, pretending that we were trekking through the Christmas Tree Farm. Then, she decided that the "Christmas Tree" needed to be decorated. We used bungee cords to attach the branch to our backyard bench. Then, she raided her outdoor toy box looking for anything that had a handle she could hang on the branches. The above picture is her finished product. I just love the big hippety-hop ball at the very top.

Here are some close-ups of her holiday work of art. I wonder what the neighbors are thinking!!!

When she was finished, she declared, "This is the Beautifulest Christmas Tree ever!" She was so proud of her backyard tree. I am proud of her creativity. I love to see her use her imagination so creatively!
On a different note, you may have noticed that I learned how to change the template of my blog to something other that what Blogger offers. I'm feelin' mighty festive here on my blog! I got the template from this site. It was super easy to do and free too. Gotta love that!

We started the rest of our Christmas countdown activities today. Along with lighting the Advent wreath, we are reading from The Advent book, a wonderfully illustrated book by Jack and Kathy Stockman. It mimics the advent calendars where you open a door each day to reveal a prize. Behind each of the 25 doors in the book, there is a picture and part of the Christmas story.

We're also removing links from a paper chain and then counting how many are left until Christmas.

The last two activities that we are doing nightly are ones that my daughter and I made together. My mom gave us a kit for a Christmas countdown calendar. We used all the supplies from the kit but we made our own design. We didn't like the original plan that came with the kit. I'm happy with how it turned out. Sometimes kits can be great because everything you need is right there.

Inside of each day's pocket is a piece of scrapbook paper. On it, I have (or soon will) write an activity to do for the night. Most of the activities will be things that we would be doing anyways. For instance, I am saving some of my Christmas decorating to put as an activity. One night, the kids will get to help put out the nativity. On another night, we'll decorate the tree. On another, we'll bring out the basket of Christmas books. I think that this will be an activity that we'll all enjoy. Hopefully, it will become a yearly tradition.
The last thing that we're doing each night is Christmas Countdown Blocks. I took two square blocks of wood and my daughter and I wrapped them in wrapping paper. Then we took green and red cards and put number stickers on them. Every night after counting how many links are left until Christmas, my daughter will have to find the digits that make up that number. This is a skill that she needs to work on anyways.

If you try this activity, there is a trick to it. Both blocks need the numbers 0, 1, and 2. This is necessary for making numbers like 22 or 10. Every number that you make will need at least one of these digits as you're counting down. The remaining numbers get divided between the two blocks. However, when I was doing it, I finished and had one number left off. I could not figure out what the problem was. I knew that I had seen these in the store, so I knew there was a way to do it. I scoured the Internet and finally figured it out. 9 and 6 are only one number... you just flip it upside down for the one you want. So, on one block we have 0, 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6(or 9). On the other, we have 0, 1, 2, 3, 7, and 8. That's the trick to figuring it out!

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Today marks the first Sunday of Advent. We follow the tradition of Advent in our home. My parents celebrated it with me and my sibling since we were really small. I appreciate it so much more as an adult. In this day and age of Christmas being such a commercialized holiday, Advent is a beautiful celebration that redirects our attention on the meaning behind Christmas.

While searching online, I found a site called Following the Star. It is an online devotional for Advent. Each day's reading includes 5 parts:

  1. Presence of God
  2. The Word of God
  3. Devotion
  4. Conversation with God
  5. Benediction

Each section is really small so a huge amount of time does not need to be invested in it. I am going to try to follow this every day of Advent. It is not age-appropriate for my small children but for me, it will be a time of redirecting my focus so I don't get caught up in the hustle and bustle of December. (Yikes, I can't believe December starts tomorrow!)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Oh, Christmas Tree!

We have a family tradition of going to the Christmas Tree Farm with some dear friends of ours. We have several local tree farms to choose from so the location isn't the tradition but the friends and tree are. We have been doing this for nearly 10 years.

In years past, we haven't planned ahead very well and both families end up scrambling to clear schedules to find a mutual time that works. Not this year. We set this tree excursion up weeks ago. It was so nice to have it already planned and on the calendar.

We have never gone in November before but that's what worked, so we went with it. I'm glad we did. The weather was glorious! Usually, we trek through mud and slush with the wind blowing through our layers of clothing and chilling us to our bones. Not this year. The weather was perfect. The kids were well behaved...all 5 of them from the two families combined. Because we had planned ahead, we also planned enough time afterwards to go out to lunch together and try a new restaurant.

Oh, what a lesson to learn from this. A little planning truly does go a long way!

Good times! Now the Christmas season has truly begun.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday!

Today, I learned all about Black Friday. I don't have much experience in this area. As much as I love a good deal, I hate crowds even more. Unfortunately, we had to take our vehicle in to Sears. So while we were there, waiting for it to be fixed, we thought we would check out the sales. It was impossible to move the cart through the store. I felt like I was in some sort of demented department store scavenger hunt. We left with nothing but a fixed car.
On the way home, I decided to stop with my daughter at Kohl's. I had seen their ad and there were a couple of items that were amazing prices for things that I was already looking for. Well, that was a bad idea. Their sale ended at 1:00 PM and we were there shortly after noon. The lines were unbelievable as people tried to get in line to make sure their purchase was rung up before the sale ended. The people that were waiting to check out had to be there for hours! The lines at both check-out areas meandered all the way from the front of the store to the back! I looked at the line and thought, "you have got to be kidding me!" Needless to say, we left with nothing. After we got home, I hopped online and found that most of Kohl's "door buster" sales were available through their website. While they only lasted until 1:00 PM in the stores, they lasted until 4:00 PM online. I got everything but one thing that I had hoped to get in the store. And, I did it all in the comfort of my own home...that's my kind of Black Friday!!!
Never again will I venture out on the day that should be spent with family relaxing and digesting all the delicious food from yesterday.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am so thankful! I have so many things in my life for which I am grateful. Today is the official day to declare that greatfulness. What a great holiday... a holiday of thanks!

Our family has been keeping a "Thankful Tree." It is filled with statements of what we are thankful for. It has been a constant reminder for our family to keep an attitude of gratitude. One of the best effects of having this tree on our kitchen table has been the fact that it is a visual reminder for our daughter. On numerous occasions, the tree would catch her attention and she would turn to me and say, "Mom, what are you thankful for today?" Now, that's a lesson to learn every day!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Time Crafts

We had a craft marathon today. I had only planned to do one craft today but my daughter was up and wide awake at 6:30 this morning. I figured we'd take the opportunity to do a messy craft while her brother was still sleeping.

Hands and feet were dipped in paints and turkeys were made. She had three of these turkeys made before we had even eaten breakfast!!! I learned a little about being flexible with my "schedule" of how I think our day should go.

Now, both sets of grandparents get their own footprint/fingerprint turkey for Thanksgiving. One, of course, is going to stay here with us. When the baby woke up, he was enthralled with the turkeys. His big sister has tried for weeks to get him to say, "gobble, gobble, gobble" and he finally did it! Her turkey craft was what he would point to each time he made the sound. His big sister was really proud!

Later in the afternoon, we decided to do an art project that both kiddos could do. We finger painted. This one is the 4 year old's...

Blogger turned the picture but if you tip your head, it says "MOM" and "DAD." Here is the 17 month old's...

I think he had more paint on his face than there was on the paper. I learned today that my little guy likes the taste of finger paint!!! He also loves taking the globs of finger paint and flinging them around the room...fun!

After the little guy went down for his nap, his sister said that she didn't think the hand print feathers really look like feathers. So, we got out some feathers and made another turkey. For this one's body, she traced her shoe on brown paper and I cut it out. Then she drew feet on it and glued feathers all around. I love how it turned out.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Art with Pattern Blocks

I had to work this morning and my mom came over and watched the kids for me. I had a couple of errands to run and she was willing to spend a little more time with the grand kids so that I could get a few things done after work. One thing I had to do was stop at a store. This store happens to be right next to the thrift store, so she suggested that I stop in there. (She knows how difficult it is to peruse the thrift store with kids along.)

I bought nothing but things for the kids. I got some brand new teacher's supplies. One of the things I got was a set of wooden pattern blocks. We did a few matching activities and shape activities with them. However, my 4 year old LOVED building with them.

Here is a picture of my favorite. It's called me and my brother in the forest...

This one is a funny person...

What is the triangle in the center of his body, I ask. A bellybutton, of course! I am so proud of her. She did these completely on her own. I love how she worked so diligently on them turning each shape until it created a picture.

As we were working with the pattern blocks, we talked a lot about the shapes. For the life of me, I could not remember the name of the red one that looks like a triangle with it's top cut off. My hubby figured out what it was... a trapezoid! Yep, I remember now. Geometry was a LONG time ago.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Stuffed Pumpkins

This evening I went over to my Mother-in-Law's home so that she could teach me how to make these adorable pumpkins. She had learned how to make them in a quilting group that she's a part of. She offered to teach me how to make them as well. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy they are to make. I whipped these two up in about an hour. Amazingly fast for such a cute end product. I am so blessed to have a Mother-in-Law that I get along with and who has interests similar to my own. I know many who are not so fortunate with their in-laws.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Green Tomatoes

There was frost in the forecast for last night, so we picked all the veggies still in the garden. We have a total of 86 tomatoes and have to do something with them all. I found this link and this recipe and another recipe so I could find a way to use all of these green tomatoes. Tonight I made fried green tomatoes. This is amazing since I HATE tomatoes!!! It was super easy to do...slice the tomato, dip in cornmeal, then fry in veggie oil until brown. Before I tell you the verdict, I must tell you about the tastes in our family. We are a family where the males enjoy the taste of tomatoes while us females detest the taste especially the texture. Well, I was the only one that liked them! I shocked myself! I was surprised to find out that green tomatoes are very tart. My hubby even asked me numerous times if I put lemon juice on them. Both kiddos made sourpuss faces after their first (and final) bite. I actually enjoyed the tart taste. I think that this would be a good side dish in the middle of the hot summer. The tartness would be very refreshing. Who'd a thunk?!?!? I like fried green tomatoes!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ironed Leaves

I was talking with a friend recently and she mentioned a craft involving a way to incorporate the beautiful fall leaves. She told me how to do it and my response was skeptical. (Sorry, Deanna!) My response was, "Seriously, you iron them?" and "Are you sure you use wax paper?" She assured me that this was the correct process and so I gave it a try.

We gathered all the necessary supplies.

We folded a leave between the wax paper.

We put a towel over the wax paper and ironed it.

Then, I cut out a construction paper frame and we glued it over the wax paper. Then, I had my daughter write each member of our family under one of the leaves with a white crayon.

Don't they look fantastic hanging in our front window?!?!? Here are the individual shots of each of the leaves...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tuscani Pasta

Today we celebrated Pastor Appreciation Sunday by sharing lunch together. The meal was from Pizza Hut. They have new Tuscani Pastas and they are delicious. They have three kinds...Bacon Mac ‘N Cheese, Meaty Marinara or Creamy Chicken Alfredo. I tried all three and they were all really good. I was impressed that pasta from Pizza Hut could taste so good. I would definitely order this again.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Tonight I went to a Michael W. Smith and Stephen Curtis Chapman concert. They are on tour together. It's called The United Tour. It was an amazing concert! I have seen both artists separately on several occasions. I even met Michael W. Smith a few years back...but that's another story!
Being a PK, I've been to a lot of Christian concerts and this was like none that I have ever been to before! First of all, seeing two pioneers in contemporary Christian Music together on the same stage was amazing. They both exhibited such respect for each other. Secondly, both of them had a son playing in the band. The son of MWS was playing keyboards and SCC's son was playing guitar. How cool is it that they have passed on their talent and love of music to their children. Finally, I have never cried so much at a concert. Chapman spent a great deal of time sharing his personal struggle after the loss of his daughter earlier this year. He was very open and honest. I don't think there was a dry eye in the audience.
I find it hard to write reviews. However, I found this review online and it really captures the essence of the concert.
The most memorable moment of the concert was when Stephen Curtis Chapman sang "Cinderella." If you haven't heard this song, go now and listen to it. It is life changing. It makes me want to strive to hold my little ones just a little tighter and let those moments linger just a little longer.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Chicken in Spaghetti Sauce

Today, I made up my own recipe. I took some chicken breasts and put them in my crock pot. Then I took a jar of spaghetti sauce and covered the chicken with it. I cooked them on low for the entire day. Shortly before serving, I removed the breasts and added water to the spaghetti sauce left in the crock pot. I brought it to a boil and added pasta. After the pasta was cooked, I drained it and served it alongside the chicken. It was delicious and so-o-o easy. All four of us loved this meal!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I learned today that a man that I serve on a committee with is receiving schooling to be a Cicerone. I had never heard of that term before so I was completely ignorant when he started talking about it. It turns out that a Cicerone is to beer what a Sommelier is to wine. I had no idea that such a position existed. An old friend of my husband's is a Sommelier, so I was aware of what that was but I had never heard of a Cicerone. Here is a link to more info on what a Cicerone is.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

DIY Door Stop

Recently, I saw a doorstop at a friend's house that I thought would be a good idea for our little door slammer. He is fascinated with opening and closing doors. I am so worried about him slamming his little fingers in the door.

Today, I was throwing away some foam packaging material and I got an idea. I decided to try to make my own door stop. I used a knife and chopped away at that packing foam and now, I have a removable doorstop. I must admit, it is pretty ugly. But, hey, it's a lot prettier than fingers slammed in the door!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Unique Gourd

Yesterday, at the craft fair that we went to, I ran into a friend that I haven't seen since before I had children. We used to work together and I miss the friendship that we once had. I was so pleased to be able to introduce my children to her. They were enamored with some pumpkins and gourds that she had decorated her craft booth with. Since it was nearly time for her to take down her booth, she let both of the kids pick one out to take home.

My daughter picked out a "princess pumpkin." One that looks like the pumpkin that turned into Cinderella's coach.

My son picked out this one...

I thought it was a beautiful gourd and I was curious to learn what kind it was. My friend did not know so I came home and looked it up. I got my answer here. It's called a Turks Turban (Cucurbita maxima) and although we only plan on using it as a decoration, we learned that it's edible too!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Reading the Fine Print

I received this tin as a gift recently. It had the cute little spatula, cookie cutters, and a sugar cookie mix included with it. I failed to read the packaging! Today I read it and found out that it included a card for a free subscription to Better Homes and Gardens. Whoo - Hoo, what a surprize! I learned that it pays to pay attention to the packaging...I didn't realize what it said until I glanced at it as I tossed it into the garbage can! So glad I read it, that card is in the mail now!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Harvest Party

Today, we went to a church sponsored harvest party at a member's farm. We had great fun! We had pot-luck lunch in the barn, horseback riding, a hayride and a candy toss.

Both of the kids got to ride on the horse. They thought that was the greatest thing!!! Our daughter got to ride on the horse by herself with Daddy walking beside her. She was so proud sitting up there all by herself. She looked so-o-o little up on that big old horse!

I rode with our son in the saddle with me. He LOVED it! Every time we would make our way around the arena and come close to the gate were others waited, he would frantically sign, "more!" Most of the people watching interpreted his signing as clapping and thought that he kept clapping his hands with glee. Although that wasn't what he meant, he was indeed a happy boy!

The hayride was fun, too. Daddy and daughter got to get up into the cab of the tractor and drive the hayride for a while. It was like a dream come true for our daughter. She loves vehicles...cars, trains, construction trucks, tractors, etc. So, to be able to drive one was an amazing experience for her!

So, what did I learn? Believe it or not, I had never heard of a candy toss. They made the assumption that everyone knew what it was. I did not. As we were gathered around waiting for the candy toss to start, I realized that they were almost ready to begin and there were no instructions going to be given. I quickly asked someone nearby to explain and she briefly did. It turns out that a candy toss is just that. People toss candy down on you and you scoop it up and keep what you gather. The kids loved it. I was a nervous wreck. Lollipop sticks flying at my kiddos and big kids diving for candy had my heart pumping. Fortunately, the kids eyes were averted downward looking for candy on the ground avoiding the flying lollipop sticks. And, the big kids were kept in check by vigilant adults. We had quite a bag of loot to take home with us.

The little guy fell asleep while we were driving home, so his big sister suggested that we take a drive down to the beach so he could sleep longer. We agreed and took a detour. Daddy and the sleeping beauty stayed in the car while the two of us took a walk down by the water. When I told her it was too cold to get in, she wanted to take her notebook and fuzzy, purple, feather pen with her.

After exploring a bit and picking out some rocks to take home, she plopped herself down in the sand and started writing. She drew everything that she had seen...

She wrote about the waves and the sailboat that sailed by and the tiny hole that she discovered in the sand. Beauty through her eyes... a joy to me!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fun Fall Day

Whew! Today was a busy, fun-filled day. Where do I start? How about a list of things I learned or tried today and a picture for each one...
  1. I learned from a hard-core fisherman that fish in the pond behind our house are biting on "Rooster Tails." Despite all the stuff in there, we don't have "Rooster Tails" in our tackle box.

  2. I learned that both kiddos tire of fishing when there are no fish being caught and the wild outdoors bid them to play.
  3. I learned (while the hubby tried to fish and we went exploring) that my daughter can climb a tree. Yep, all. by. herself!

  4. I learned that wandering aimlessly through a corn maze with a sleeping 16 month old on your back is REALLY tiring. Wandering through with some friends and their family makes up for it though.

  5. I learned that when there is nothing to look at but corn at your sides and wood chips at your feet...look up! The clouds were magnificent today!

  6. I learned that some hens and roosters like to perch on evergreen tree branches. Now that's an interesting site.

  7. I've never seen a hen with her chicks tucked under wings except for in pictures. It was the cutest thing! The chicks didn't peek out from underneath her, they poked their heads right up through her feathers.

  8. I got to meet this little guy. Can you guess the name? This is Tina Turner...
  9. We met Grandma and Grandpa at a festival in a local park. From the moment we arrived, our daughter noticed the big blow up bouncy things. She really wanted to play in them. However, there were just too many kids trying to play in them. And, they were big kids who were being really rough. Instead of crying or throwing a fit, she simply said, "Could we go play at the park instead?" Once we were at the park, she looked at me and said, "This is much more peaceful, isn't it?" I sure do love that girl!!!

  10. I learned from a crafter at the craft fair who was willing to share tips on how to properly cut gourds. This is a skill I have tried but never mastered. I have so many dried out gourds around here that I hang onto in hopes that I will figure it out. This talented lady inspired me to try again. Here are some pictures of the ones I bought from her...

Wow, it was a busy day... fishing, the pumpkin farm, and the community festival. I feel exhausted but content. I love my family and days like these are so much fun to spend together.