Thursday, January 31, 2013

Joy Dare :: January

1. Five happy children playing outside in the cold.
2. Oatmeal whoopie pie (that Brandi made)
3. Time spent holding each of my children today
4. Heard: I love you Grandma (Karen)! I'll miss you!!
5. Aliza and Josiah conversing in the back seat--the whole trip home from WV
6. Anna singing Jesus Loves Me and Dorothy the Dinosaur
7. Overheard: When will Josiah wake up? We are like two vegetables in a pot.
8. Overheard: Great Gramma telling Aliza how they used to pile 4 high on a sled and fly down the hill when she was a little girl.
9. Overheard: Grandma and Aliza having a conversation in the tent.
10. Blue sky on a cold day
11. A new toy that entertains all
12. Our old house
13. Seeing an organized "catch all" spot.
14. Making reminders
15. Reading on my kindle paperwhite
16. In my bag. Just enough.
17. In the fridge. Crisp, sweet, juicy grapes
18. In my heart. Celebrating Dad's 60th birthday with family.
19. Husband comes home with chai and a hug--grace.
20. Daughter says I played the pretend game perfectly--my attitude was terrible. Grace.
21. A friend texts to tell me that I'm a good Mama. She doesn't know what my day has been like. Grace.
22. A shadow means the sun is out!
23. Dusky light streaming in the window.
24. A winter walk.
25. Color in winter
26. Holding my children who are getting big but still was hugs and cuddles.
27. Sitting with Aliza while she reads and learns.
28. The last homemade sticky bun. Warm and dunked in milk.
29. A car temper tantrum handled calmly.
30. Laying with children while they fall asleep.
31. Vegetable and fruit concoction lovingly prepared (by Josiah).
32. A day to sit and read books with sick children.
33. Husband says, "I'll do dishes. Go upstairs and scrapbook." I love him.
34. Fog at dusk
35. Sitting beside husband on the couch
36. Family bonding over a football game
37.Grateful about me: my hair is growing
38. Grateful about me: I learned that our parents are the wisest people on the planet
39. Grateful about me: I make the choice to be confident and secure about where I am in life
40. Determination to keep the screen time low
41. Watching the children have a Praise Parade in the rain
42.Josiah passionately and enthusiastically preparing salads for supper.
43. Upon arriving home, Aliza points out the cardinal eating at the bird feeder. We sit in the car, listen to the rain on the roof and watch the cardinal.
44. School hard drive broke. Did school differently. In the living room. Mommy as teacher. Josiah joined us.
45. Family dance party
46. Blessing witnessed: Aliza taking her younger cousin under her wing to play
47. Blessing witnessed: Aliza working out a relationship problem with her Daddy
48. Washing dishes with a messy helper
49. Wearing a Gap shirt that I bought for $1.26
50. Silence
51. He gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11
52. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Isaiah 1:18
53. My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians12:9
54. A few moments alone
55. Peaceful sleep
 56. A wild game of London Bridges
57. A flock of small birds pecking in the grass
58. Eye contact with Jeremy across the room
59. Endless blue sky
60. Clean water
61. Looking through old scrapbooks and remembering
62. Red glittery shoes that make little girls feel like princesses
63. A three seat cart at the grocery store
64. Endurance
65. A new start every morning
66. Received a phone call from a neighbor just to check on us
67. Having Mom and Dad over for supper
68. Tutti Frutti with Aliza
69. Anna asking Josiah to scratch her back at bedtime
70. A warm welcome after a long drive to WV
71. Music, sleeping children and wet (not snowy or icy) roads
72. Before dawn. Sleep.
73. At noon. Uncles playing in the snow
74. After dark. Conversation with special ladies
75. Sunday pot roast dinner
76. Fruit salad
77. Full moon peeking over the clouds
78. Friends who broaden my perspective.
79. Friends who keep me grounded.
80. Friends who grace me with understanding, listening, advice and direction
81. Heard Beautiful by MercyMe while driving. Reminded me of Lydia's miracle
82. Anna's sweet 2 year old voice
83. Light first seen each morning
84. Mudtastic fun!
85. Crystal's whoopie pies
86. A couple who opened their home to our family
87. "Ah, Mom, the sky is so pretty! It's light blue. Like cotton candy. God is an amazing artist." Aliza
88. Giving a gift to a friend
89. Josiah's Bible study teachers care enough to "figure him out."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


 The wind is blowing so I better write about our warm days before I wake up cold tomorrow! When we went on a walk yesterday it never crossed my mind that there would be mud and puddles. I was just taken with the sun and warmish temperatures.

The puddles did not escape the children's notice. All 3 of them were filthy when we got home. Josiah from head to toe.

Anna came to tell me she was dirty and wanted to be picked up. If you are big enough to splash in the mud, you are big enough to walk!
 Aliza said, "Mom, this is mudtastic!!"
 Josiah is ready to speed across the cul-de-sac into the mud puddle. He just sat there and spun in the puddle he started in.
Oh sweet children. Enjoy your childhood!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Family Time

We spent an extended weekend with Jeremy's family. Josh and Sarah were here from Texas and we enjoyed some long overdue (as in, hasn't happened in 6 years!!) family time. It was good. This is one very happy Mama with her three boys.

 And the family.
 And the girls.
 We stayed with Joel and Brandi in their new home. How fun! They have a music room. Aliza particularly enjoyed the xylophone. Josiah wanted very badly to play the guitar. He told me and then waited and waited (at the top of the steps) for Joel to take a shower. Then he had to work up the nerve to ask Joel. I helped and Joel said yes. They sat there together and played.
 Josh had a lego set to give Josiah and then helped him put it together. I asked Josiah tonight if he had a good time with Josh and Joel. He said yes...I love Josh. When will I see Josh again? When can Josh come to our house? I want Josh to bring his best friend to our house.

Josh gave Aliza a Lalaloopsy mini set that I had never seen. I'm doomed. There is always some new Lalaloopsy collection! Aliza thought it was awesome.
 Now, you have to understand, Sarah is from Texas. Born and raised there. She had never seen snow or mountains. They landed on a snow covered landing strip in Baltimore, drove home on snowy roads and we made the absolute best of this little bit of snow!!!

There was a snow ball fight. Mostly Aliza throwing snowballs at Josh, running away as fast as she could and Josh and Joel lobbing snowballs at her.
 And then...Joel found this and blew it up. Look at Josiah's face!
 And Aliza's face.
 And then...Joel had the idea of attaching the boogie board to the tube. Boy, oh boy, was that fun! Josiah would whip around the turns. The big boys worked hard!!

 Nothing beats a weekend of family time.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Frustrated is the only feeling I can think of to describe myself right now. This day....ugh!

Last week the hard drive we use for all of Aliza's school instruction decided to quit working. We had to order a new one. Jeremy ordered it Wednesday and it was delivered Friday afternoon. It was a fast delivery, but it still meant we missed three days of school that I hadn't planned on.

This morning I specifically asked Jeremy if I could just plug the hard drive in and have it start working. He said yes. That isn't how it worked. I got frustrated and ultimately had to restart the computer and wait for windows to update 37 updates which took from 10:30-2:30. That didn't stop me from having Aliza complete a full day of school. It just made it frustrating to convince her that, indeed, today was a school day.

The computer we use for school--bless it's heart--it works. But the fan is SOOOO loud. It is louder and more annoying than a window air conditioner unit. It screams at me all day. The fan can be replaced--for fifty dollars--which seems pretty steep. I'm not sure if I can put up with that thing indefinitely. It makes me feel like screaming.

And, finally, before I stop this less than exciting post, Jeremy has decided to start eating low carb and low sugar. This is great for him and I'm happy for him to choose a healthy lifestyle. However, it is not good for his chef who has a troop of carb loving children to feed also. It seems my only options for food are meat and vegetables with a side dish for the carb eaters. The problem is that I'm not good at cooking meat--at all. Suggestions? Encouragement? Does someone want to just plan my meals?!

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Bit of Snow

 It wasn't much, but we had a bit of snow when we woke up this morning. While we were getting ready for the day, I caught Anna giving her baby doll a drink of water.

Aliza thought it would be most fun to play in the snow with Aunt Laura. She asked if she could pleeease have a playdate with Laura. So I called and Aunt Laura couldn't resist. She drove up just to play in the snow with Aliza--and have lunch with us!
 They managed to make a snowman. As Laura said, "There is always enough snow for me to build a snowman." It was true!

It was a bit windy so the children got cold! Josiah curled up in a blanket with his teddy bear while I made hot chocolate. Snow days are hard work days for Mama! Multiple rounds of wet clothes and dressing and undressing, hot chocolate....
 Then it was a before lunch exception to play Mario Cart with Laura! Laura even managed to play with Anna "playing" on her lap.
 This is our second full week on our new screen time policy. I have to tell you--I am daily humbled at the difference this change has made in our home. Everything is easier. Attitudes are not perfect. We still deal with disrespect and temper tantrums here and there, but it is easier to handle. It's like the children can actually hear me and I have a stronger hold on their hearts.

Today we needed to clean to get ready for a visit from Grandma and Grandpa. I had some things that needed to be finished after rest time and Aliza and Josiah wanted to help. Josiah washed windows while Aliza cleaned the downstairs bathroom. Then Aliza wanted to wash windows. After windows Aliza still wanted to help and all that was left was washing dishes. She was more than willing to do that so I got her set up and finished the mopping. Aliza put away the dishes in the drying rack and washed all the dishes--there were quite a few!
If I was a crier I would have cried. Instead I talked on the phone to Meghan while my dishes got washed!! Oh the joy! I'm proud of Aliza, but I'm more proud of Jeremy and I for sticking with it, fighting the battles, and winning.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Today marks the halfway mark through the school year. I can believe it because I've lived every  one of those school days, but I really can't believe that we are halfway through first grade. According to Aliza we are halfway to summer vacation.

Aliza is reading well enough that she initiated starting to read the Bible. She also reads a certain number of books each month to earn a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut through the Book-It Program. Reading lessons have become so much easier. I told Aliza that one day reading would be her easiest subject. She looked a little surprised when I said it, but it's true and it won't be long. 

Aliza still enjoys Spanish. It moves fast and it is hard! I figure that whatever she picks up is great, the rest is exposure.

We need to focus on handwriting this spring. She prefers to get the job done as fast as possible rather than have pretty handwriting. I'm the same way with some things too. She will learn cursive next year so we better have a good foundation.

Aliza has enjoyed developing friendships this fall and loves going to Community Bible Study each week.

I'm proud of her.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Collection of Moments

Maybe "moments" should be my word for the year. It is becoming my focus to take note of moments, to find joy in moments, to see gifts in good and bad moments. If I lose sight of moments life becomes a blur and a day is lumped into a category of good or bad.

My girls were sick Thursday night. I believe there was only one simultaneous incident, but 7 times cleaning someone up or sitting in the bathroom with someone during the night is a lot and leaves Mama (and Papa) with precious little sleep.

Friday I did not know how I was going to make it. Anna woke up recovered and ready to go. Aliza spent most of the day on the couch. At least it was all recovering--no more incidents. I knew I had to maintain something of our new screen policies. We watched more than the rest of the week, but I also read a whole chapter book to Aliza, and sat and held and played with until I just couldn't do anymore...and then I let them watch one more Charlie Brown before supper.

Aliza called a family meeting this morning. She wanted to pray first and then her question was "How will Minecraft be handled on the weekends because Daddy is home all day?" I thought it was a valid question.

Aliza has an extremely hard time dealing with any level of change. The tarp on our swing set had been destroyed by wind, weather and time. So Jeremy ordered a new one and put it up today. Aliza came in the house most distraught that the old tarp was being replaced. I basically told her that that's life and she should get over it. That didn't really help her... After a while Josiah came in with a little square of the old tarp and said, "Aliza I brought you a piece of the old tarp. Will that help you feel better?" Aliza smiled, took the gift and glued it to the wall of her doll house. Then she went out to play. Josiah thought of that on his own and I thought it was so very thoughtful of him.

We had a family night tonight. Our congregational nurse, my Mom, decided to cancel church because so many of our households had been sick. She felt it was time to contain germs. We watched the Ravens play The children thought it was horribly unfair that Daddy got to watch so much TV. (They got their fair share today!) Aliza tried to control the family in many ways, but, finally, after halftime every settled down and we had a nice time sitting on the couch together and listening to the children play in the other room together. The game went into overtime and the whole family was cheering by the end. Josiah started playing football and when the Ravens won Aliza ran outside to scream. At least she went outside! A wild indoor football game ensued...and then it was bedtime.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Getting Back Into Balance

I think it happens at times in all families. At least I hope so. It's a slippery process and then all at once you realize that the seesaw is out of balance. The kids are up and the parents are down. There is all kinds of disrespect, whining and complaining. In our family that meant screen time was out of control and something had to be done. We've reigned them in and turned off youtube and netflix. No more websites to encourage the gimmies. And no more Minecraft unless Daddy is home (and wants) to play. You know what? I've got happy kids again. Kids that play with their toys, read books, ride bikes, notice squirrels and geese, that respond appropriately to me, and don't have nightmares during the night. Duh! But I won't beat myself up because it happens and we grow and move on. This was all implemented in a family meeting as a change in policy, not discipline. I'm invested on a deep level so I'm hopeful that, at the least, the slide down the slippery slope will be much, much slower.

Don't get me wrong...I'm adjusting also! It means no screen time for me either! Here are a few things we've been up to this week.

Celebrating my Dad's 60th birthday!

My growing cuddlebug wants to be held a lot, which I love, but sometimes I must cook dinner. So I plopped her on the counter and she's happy. Don't worry. The kitchen is small. I can practically have a hand on her from anywhere.

Studying Pierre Radisson. Do you know who Pierre Radisson is? I didn't before yesterday.

Josiah wrote his name for the very first time.

Playing with Lego's. He insisted that a man be in each vehicle and looking at the camera. In the first pictures they had hats on, but you couldn't see their faces so he took the hats off and was much more satisfied.
Sorting the library we checked out. It took 2 library cards today. Take away the screen and all of a sudden books are appealing again. I know. I know. It's not rocket science!

We've had a couple warmish days again so we've been out walking and riding bikes. Aliza likes to carry her Bitty Baby in her front pack carrier. Josiah rides bike. On our way home this afternoon Josiah spotted a squirrel in the tree and he told the rest of us to stop to watch the squirrel. Aliza and Josiah stood in the road, stock still, looking up in the trees. Later, we heard geese and watched a huge flock fly over. Josiah asked what shape they were flying in. That's the letter V buddy, thanks for asking! And so we slow down and take joy in simple gifts.

I thought to myself, "Welcome back to the world kids! If I have anything to do with it, I won't let you leave again!"

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Special Letter

Several weeks ago Aliza had a reading assignment that was about a mailman. During the lesson her teacher, Mrs. Walker, gave the students her address and promised that she would write back to them. 

Aliza wrote to Mrs. Walker immediately. At the end of Aliza's letter she asked Mrs. Walker about her two children that are mentioned periodically during the lessons. Aliza had Mrs. Walker for reading in kindergarten and now for phonics and reading this year.

Every day Aliza has waited expectantly for the mail to be delivered and today was the day! There was a letter from Mrs. Walker in the mailbox for her!!! She had the sweetest smile as she opened that letter and found a bookmark inside.
 I think I read the letter to her 7 times. She could have read it on her own, but it was too special to make a fuss over. Mrs. Walker even updated Aliza on her children...just as a Aliza asked. It was a personally written letter.

It means so much to know that Aliza's teachers are truly invested. Not just at the time the lessons were produced, but even now--years later.

Have I mentioned that I'm sold on BJU Press??!!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Supposed to Be New

Christmas is over and a new year has started. Nothing feels new though. I have the same children with the same personalities. I still have my same shortcomings and challenges. So I continue...with myself and yet with the change of the year a chance to sort of start new and fresh.

I read a book over the weekend called Hope for the Weary Mom. I read it really fast because it was so encouraging and filled my soul with renewed hope and life. The next book that I immediately picked up was One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I've only read the first chapter, but I've already decided that I'm going to do her Joy Dare--a dare to live life fully right where you are.

Each day there is a prompt to look for 3 gifts during the day. I have a handy dandy One Thousand Gifts app on my phone where I'm going to document my gifts during the day. If all goes well I just may post my gifts on a monthly basis. We'll see what happens.

This is do know--this year I'm going to live life fully right where I am!