Saturday, May 31, 2008

Date Night

Tonight my Hubby and I had a date night. We had planned on going to a MOPS parents picnic but decided instead that a night out by ourselves would be better. We already had a babysitter so it worked perfectly. Dinner and a bookstore...not too exciting but that is definitely our idea of a great night out without kiddos.
We went to the Olive garden and it was the first time that I have been there and not gotten a pasta dish. I tried their mixed grill and it was delicious. The meat tasted great but it was the sides that were to die for. The grilled veggies were yellow squash and zucchini. Mmmmm, so good. The perfect dish to have while waiting for all those summer veggies to grow. The other side was Tuscan Potatoes. I think that I could have just had the potatoes and I would have been happy. They were so-o-o-o-o delicious! I stepped outside of the box, I tried something new and boy, was it a good experience. Lesson learned, indeed!
Then I found a great book on the clearance shelves at the bookstore. It's called Storytime Craft Book by Kathy Ross Sir. It has a craft to go with each of the many familiar fairy tales, nursery rhymes, stories and songs that are included in the book. I am so excited to get going on this book. The illustrations and instructions seem to be very clear. The kiddos and I are going to have fun time discoving new crafts to go with our storytime favorites. I love finding a gem of a book that I've never heard of before. Such a pleasant surprise. Finding it for $5 is just icing on the cake!

Friday, May 30, 2008

More Freezer Paper Stencils

I already confessed that I have a new addiction. That addiction is only getting worse. If I see any piece of plain material, I envision a stencil on it. When I see a cute picture, I envision it in silhouette. Needless to say, I am really enjoying exploring what I can do with freezer paper stencils. Today we were to attend a birthday party for a special little girl. I decided that I had just enough time to make her a birthday shirt.

This is my first one using an X-acto knife. On the others, I have used my Fiskars cutting tool. It was incredibly easy to use and I am pleased with the result. I did the bird with the X-acto and the letters with the Fiskars tool.

Then, I used the left over bird scrap to make another shirt. This created the negative image of the original bird from the toddler shirt. I hadn't tried using the scaps for the negative image before but today I thought I would give it a try. It's a nice way to use the left over scraps. Blogger decided that this picture needed to be vertical. I've spent way too much time trying to get it horizontal...grrrr.

Not sure where this shirt is headed. Perhaps the mama of the birthday girl would like it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Visitors Flying In


Today we had a bunch of visitors fly into our yard for a visit. We normally have quite a few birds around our yard. We have two bird feeders that are visited quite frequently. The back half of our yard is wooded, so we check out the birds daily. On a typical day, we see Robins, Cardinals, Red-winged Blackbirds, Chickadees, and Blackbirds. Those are our daily visitors. They are my daughters friends. She loves looking for them.

Today, she spotted a Robin sitting on our fence. When it turned around, it had the biggest, puffed out belly I have ever seen on a bird. It's very hard for me to tell the difference between a male and female Robin. I would guess that it was a male because it's colors were really vibrant. My daughter is convinced that it was a mommy Robin with a baby in her tummy. I tried to research to figure it out and I learned a lot but I'm still not sure if it was a male or female. Here's a great site with information about Robins.

Last week, we put out our daughter's hummingbird feeder that she received in her Easter basket. We didn't buy the pre-made nectar from the store, we decided to try to make our own. We mixed 3 parts water with 1 part sugar. Well, it worked. Today we had a hummingbird at the feeder! Our daughter was so excited! Her bird books talk about how small they are and how they hover. She was so excited to see it in her own back yard. She called Daddy at work and both sets of grandparents to tell them about it! We learned that Hummingbirds like homemade nectar and they actually exist in our backyard! Here's the best picture I got...

Then, we saw a female Oriole trying to untie the twine on our nature tent. She sat up there pecking and pulling at that string while my daughter and I sat at the kitchen table and watched. She thought it was hilarious watching that Oriole tugging at her tent. It was fascinating to watch! Years ago, my father-in-law swore that he saw an Oriole in our yard. It kind of became a joke about the elusive Oriole. Both my husband and I have thought that we caught glimpses of one but we were never confident that it was truly what we saw. Well, today we saw it. Orioles exist in our backyard as well! I learned about the differences about male and female Orioles here.

Sorry about the grainy pictures. My little camera is fine for daily pictures but it definitely isn't for capturing pictures of birds from a distance.

I am so happy that we had all of these visitors today. I only hope that they return often. That would definitely make my little girl's day!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Paper Problems

Have you ever gone to the closet to get a new roll of toilet paper only to find out that it's all gone? That happened to me. Not wanting to make the trek to the store, I asked my hubby to pick some up. He was already headed to Aldi and figured he could buy some there. They only had their off brand...not the brand we would normally buy. He picked some up anyways thinking it was better than nothing. Honestly, it's the worst stuff I have ever used. Gas stations have better toilet paper in their bathrooms. Heck, even outhouses have better! It's like using the tissue paper used for gift bags. It's bad. I learned today that some things are fine to buy generic but TP is not one of those things.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My Little Drummer Boy

Oh, man, do I wish I had pictures!!!

My hubby had the day off today and we took a trip to my favorite restaurant. It was yummy and good but that's not what I learned.

On to the good stuff...

I learned that I've got myself a little drummer boy! Didn't know it but he loves drums! We went to Guitar Center after lunch to drool a little and spend some time in wishful thinking land. While my hubby was engulfed in trying out effects pedals for his guitar, the kids and I wandered over to the drum section. There was a fantastic employee who gave both kids a set of drumsticks and encouraged them to bang away. Truthfully, she did this. I asked her repeatedly if it was OK and her response was that all the things in that section were meant to be banged on. Well, you don't have to tell my kiddos twice! We banged and banged and banged! I knew my daughter would love this...she's done it before. But I wasn't sure about the baby. He LOVED it! Anything that came within arms reach became a drum for him. He got the concept right away and I think he could have stayed there all afternoon. After today, we are definitely going to try to have a Sound Box made for him by his birthday...he'll love it!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day!

We took our children to a local memorial to those who have given their lives for our country. The VFW does a fantastic display of American flags along with the flags from each of the states.

As we walked through the flags and up to the memorial, our little ones were full of wonder at the flags flying in the breeze. As we stood at the memorial and looked at the names that were enscribed, we shared with them that these people gave all they had so that we could have freedom. We then tried to explain to them (particularly our daughter) what freedom is and why it is so grand. She must have understood because her questions, comments, and the sincerity in her voice reflected the honor that we hope to instill in both of our children.

Sometimes, holidays become all about the day off of work, the picnic, the fun times. We often forget that holidays, such as today, should be days of reflection along with all the excitement. I feel that way about the "Buddy Poppy." You see, today I learned about the origins of the "Buddy Poppy." You know, the little red flowers from the VFW...

I have always associated them with the VFW and I knew that they were used to raise funds for veterans but I never realized that those poppies have an interesting history and a touching poem from which they were inspired...

In Flander's Field
by John McCrae

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead.
Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved and now we lie,
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw,
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us, who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow,
In Flanders Fields.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Natural Tent

(Blogger decided that this picture needed to be sideways...I cannot figure out how to switch it back the right way)

A long time ago, I read about using climbing beans to make a natural tent. Basically, you create a structure in the shape of a tent for the beans to climb up. You run twine between the supports creating a ladder on which the plant will climb as it grows. You also leave an opening for the door and when the beans start climbing, they create the walls of the tent. It was one of those ideas that I always wanted to try and figured I would once I had kids. Then, I recently saw the idea pop up here. I love the way that one looks and decided to create one in our tire garden.

Ours isn't as pretty because we re-used some old PVC pipes that we already had. The wooden supports would look much better but I figure that if this works, the plants will cover it up anyways. Per the suggestion of the lady at the greenhouse, we used Pole Beans and Sweet Peas. I am excited that it will be edible and beautiful to smell as well. We'll have the beans to pick and eat and the Sweet Peas are supposed to be a very sweet smelling flower. I have high hopes for this project turning out well. C'mon, Mother Nature, help us out on this one, will ya?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

10 Things I Learned Today...

  1. I love the smell inside a greenhouse...

  2. The Baby LOVES flowers (particularly those in hanging baskets that are easy to reach while Mama holds him.)...

3. The best flowers are found under the table where adults haven't seen them but almost 4-year-olds do...

4. The boats are finally all coming into the docks at the marina for us to check out...

5. My little girl is loving holding her Daddy's hands (and Mama's lovin' it!)...

6. Onions come packaged in one great big clump...

7. But, that clump of onions must be separated prior to planting...

8. Not so fun to learn, we have grubs in our yard...

9. It feels SOOOO good to have the garden planted...

10. Even when I realize that our guitar garden looks more like a footprint garden...

Friday, May 23, 2008


I know a little boy who just recently started receiving help through Theraplay. I had heard about it before but never knew too much about it. His mom and I talk about it alot and she has been very helpful to me in understanding what it is. However, I was still a little unclear in my understanding of this modality of instruction. She sent me this link to find out more information. I hate to admit it but she sent me the link a month ago. I have looked at the site numerous times since then and I am just now starting to grasp the theory behind Theraplay.
I found this article by Janet Mullen to be very helpful in helping me gain more understanding. One specific quote from the article was particularly interesting...
"...simplicity is necessary so that the child does not focus on learning a complex new game -- it is not about cognitive learning. Rather, the simplicity allows the full impact of the process to be felt by the child. Theraplay activities aim at creating a feeling of closeness between the child and parent, which is attained through activities in which the child experiences the adult as creating the structure (the rules, etc.) and also nurturing the child. The goal of therapy is that the child be more at ease with adults and other children, have less of a need to stay in charge, and be more spontaneously able to experience and express her feelings."
Another article, How Theraplay® Differs from Non-Directive,or Child-Centered, Play Therapy, really made the concept more concrete in my mind. Being able to read about how Theraplay differs from other therapies was incredibly helpful. It states that theraplay is at a pre-verbal and pre-symbolic level. I found this very interesting. Instead of focusing on the child communicating needs or the child understanding the therapist, it focuses on creating an environment which encourages the child "to engage more actively with the world around him or respond more appropriately to structured situations." This type of approach must be such a blessing to those children who have had unsuccessful experiences with more traditional forms of therapy.
I am happy that I now have a greater understanding of Theraplay. There is still so much more to learn but I am happy that I had the time today to sit down and sort out all the information in my own brain. I know that when the day comes that I return to teaching, I will be cognisant of this modality of instruction because I know that there are a lot of kids who could benefit from the nurturing environment found within this type of program.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Nature Bracelets

Packing tape + nature items found on a walk = NATURE BRACELETS!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Yummy and Healthy Snack

Last night, a friend stopped by with a gift. I love dried apricots and she knew this. She brought me a tub of Just Apricots by Just Tomatoes,ETC. She had told me about them before but I had never tried them. Mmmm, they are delicious! What a great surprise! My hubby doesn't like apricots in any form, so that leaves more for the rest of us. My daughter and son both LOVE these. They are really, really good. My daughter is fascinated by the fact that if you hold a piece in your mouth for a little while, it rehydrates. She is convinced that they are magical dried apricots that turn into real apricots when you suck on them!

Another thing I learned today...early bedtimes for stuffy-nosed kids and hubby means time to catch up on blogging. Yeah!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I am Addicted!

Yes, I am addicted...addicted to freezer stencils. I know that sound crazy, but I am. They are so-o-o-o easy to do. And fun too!

I've seen freezer paper stencils tutorials in several places on the internet. I believe that I saw the idea first on Martha Stewart's website. Then, I saw it on Amanda Soule's blog and in her book, The Creative Family. Then, I recently saw it on The Artful Parent blog.

I've wanted to try these for so long, but today I finally did it and I'm addicted. My mind is racing with all the possibilities...shirts, bags, gifts, my kid's silhouettes, birthday shirts. OOOH, the possibilities are endless!

The onsies are for a friend's new baby boy and the shirt is for me. I went out and bought plain t-shirts for all 4 of us and I raided our closets for anything plain that could be stenciled. If this keeps up, the entire house will be stenciled soon!

By the way, any opinions on the placement of the leaves on the grey shirt? I never even considered putting the stencil any other way but my hubby suggested trying it with the leaves upward. The more I look at it, the more I think he might be right. I don't know how much it really matters. Leaves up or down...any opinions?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Making Laundry Tolerable

OK, I have to admit it. I HATE laundry. I don't mind the washing and the drying so much...the machines do that part for me fairly simply. I don't like the sorting. Piles of dirty clothes scattered across the hallway outside of my laundry room are annoying to me. But, the worst part, is folding. I HATE IT!!! I just seems so pointless to fold everything just to have it unfolded, dirtied and in need of laundering once again. Yes, we need clean clothing but do we really need it folded?!?!?

I know some people find joy in laundry. There are even those who find the concept of line drying clothing to be romantic. I don't. I find it nostalgic in a not so positive way. I disliked helping my mom hang the laundry on the line as a child and I'm certainly not going to add another step to my laundering day. Anyways, I digress...

Today, I learned a way to make the folding part a little more enjoyable. Normally, I fold in our basement...dark and not so cheery. Today, I brought the laundry basket out onto the deck and folded it on the picnic table. It was actually enjoyable. Well, maybe not enjoyable but tolerable. I'd rather be sitting on the deck sipping a long island iced tea while relaxing with a good book but things do need to get done around here. So, while I'm getting things done, I might as well enjoy the sunshine a little. Today I did and I'm gonna do it more.

Look, my laundry actually looks kinda pretty setting there on the deck with the flowers brought to momma by her precious little flower child...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Deliberate Kids

Today, our worship at church was led by Phil Joel. He is a former member of the band Newsboys. He now tours and produces albums as a solo artist. Our daughter loves guitars so we pulled her out of children's church to join us for worship. She really enjoyed it and we did too. We learned that he just released a children's album for the first time. It's called Deliberate Kids. This is a follow up to his latest regular album, Deliberate People.

Later in the evening, he had a concert that I attended with my mom. She has been a really big fan of his for years. In fact, she took me to my first Newsboys concert years ago before they hit it big. We had a lot of fun, it was a great show.

A few years back, I went though a really rough time. There was one song that was sort of my theme song for that time in my life. It was his song, God is Watching Over You. The lyrics were perfect for what we were going through and really ministered to my spirit. Every time I have heard the song since, it brings me joy. It's amazing that a song can impact you so much but it can. This song is from his 2000 album and he has released three other albums since then and is working on a fourth. I knew that the likelihood of him doing this song was really slim...but a girl can hope, right? Guess what? He ended the concert with that very song. I couldn't believe it!

Afterward, we got to meet him and take pictures with him. I had him sign the Deliberate Kids album that I bought for my kiddos.

I would highly recommend the Deliberate Kids album. It is fun, upbeat, and different from other more annoying kid's albums. It has several songs that are great for memorization. One of them lists the books of the New Testament and the other lists the Fruits of the Spirit. Both kids love the album. It is going to be the most requested music around here for quite some time. Our daughter is requesting the song, "Boom-chaka-laka." She LOVES this song and keeps telling me, "Mommy, I got Boom-chaka-laka stuck in my head but I like it!" Our son instantly starts dancing to the music as soon as it starts. He's so cute. He kinda reminds me of Bill Cosby when he dances...he's an expert at head bopping to the music.

Another good thing about the album is the story behind it. Phil Joel and his wife have two kids and after their personal journey to be more deliberate in their faith, they turned their attention to helping develop that same passion in their kids. That focus also turned to their work with the children in their church. He said this morning that when he started talking about doing a kids' album, many people told him that it would kill his career and he replied, Let's do it then! I like that it because it's right no matter the consequences!

I'll close this post with a scripture. When Phil Joel signed the CD for the kids, he wrote both of their names and under his signature, he wrote Jeremiah 33:3...'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'

Saturday, May 17, 2008

An Unusual Garden

Today I learned about negotiations, the price of landscaping rocks, and finding pleasure even when compromising.

We've had our seedlings waiting patiently in their peat pots for a while. They were ready to go in the ground before now, but until today, they have had no where to go.

I had grand plans of my hubby and I making raised garden boxes. I thought they would be perfect for little hands to do their gardening in. I thought I had my husband on board with this idea. Apparently, we miscommunicated. The majority of this morning was spent discussing, drawing plans, discussing, drawing edited plans, more discussing, and ultimately ending with compromise.

We both compromised and now, we are both happy with what we came up with. Our daughter is tickled pink to have her own garden, our son thinks the dirt is fantastic, and the plants are very pleased to now have a permanent home.

And to think, this morning I was arguing my case for a raised garden boxes. I got a guitar garden... it just don't get much better than that! And...every time I see it from up above at our bedroom window, I smile from ear to ear. It was purely accidental that it turned out this way but just the thought of a guitar garden makes me giddy. Hmmm, perhaps guitars will spring out of it!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Growing Up But Still My Baby

Today was my husband's first softball game of the season. We have many weeks ahead of dust, mosquitoes, and America's favorite pastime. Well, almost, it's just the soft version of America's favorite pastime. Actually, despite the dust and mosquitoes, it is a lot of fun. The kids and I love watching their Daddy play and afterwards, we have ice-cream. I look forward to the softball's a sign that summer is here.

To get to the field where he was playing, we had to pass by the playground. It's a tough momma who can walk by a park and not let the kiddos stop and play. In fact, the sidewalk to his softball field led right though the center of the playground. So, what did we do? We stopped and played. We could see the game from the playground, so we got to watch Daddy's game and play at the same time!

I learned that my daughter can play on so many more playground activities than she could last summer. I know that this fact is only obvious since she is indeed a year older. But, my goodness, I didn't expect her to be so fearless! She wanted to try everything. Things that were intimidating to her last year were challenges to be conquered today. I was inspired by her bravery and frightened by her lack of fear! My baby girl is growing up! Look what she can do this year...

And this...

After playing for a sufficient amount of time, we walked over to the game to watch Daddy's game up close. We sat down on the bottom seat of the bleachers. I hate bleachers. They are so dangerous and make me a very nervous Momma. Since these are elevated bleachers, (I learned what they are called today) the lowest seat on these bleachers is off of the ground so there is no safe seat. During the game, my daughter was standing and talking to me and took a step back. She stepped right off of the bleachers. I reached out to her and grabbed her arm as she went down. There she was, dangling off the bleachers, hanging onto my hand for dear life. I was holding the baby in the other hand and couldn't get her up while holding onto him. Luckily, a man behind us jumped over me and pulled her back up. She was hysterical! This caused the baby to start crying too. You should have heard the noise we made, two children just howling! A woman from church offered to hold the baby while I checked for injuries. That little girl is gonna have some pretty nasty bruises on her arms and legs but other than that, she is fine. Thank goodness!

As I sat there holding her in my arms as she cried and cried, the reality hit me. Yes, she's growing up. She's getting big. She getting brave. She can climb the big kid stuff at the playground. But, she is still my baby girl. She still needs comfort and the best source of comfort for her, at that moment, was in my arms. I can only pray that my arms will always be the source of comfort that my children need no matter where life takes them and the bumps and bruises that they encounter.

After we were home from the game and the kids were in bed, I allowed myself to let go of the fear that her fall had stirred in me. I cried. I was strong for her but once she was out of earshot and the adrenalin rush was over, my body could no longer hold in the emotion. Her fall scared the living crap out of me! Tonight could have turned out so badly. It didn't. I am so grateful for that.