Sunday, March 31, 2013

Resurrection Day!

 I woke up with Philippians 2:8-11 on my mind. Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. I just laid in bed for a few moments and gave thanks for Jesus' obedience to death so that God the Father's plan for salvation could be complete.

It is only through the death and resurrection of Jesus that we have a hope for the future. Without the blood sacrifice of Jesus there is no chance for anyone to stand in the presence of a Holy God. No one is good enough to get to heaven in their own power or good works. God gave us the standard for holiness in the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament and Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in the New Testament. Have you lied? Have you stolen? Have you looked at a man or woman lustfully? The possibilities for sin are endless. God knows that we cannot maintain His standard on our own so He sent his only son, Jesus, to earth--fully God and fully man--to be a sacrifice for the sin of humanity. Now when we stand before God as judge and are found guilty we can acknowledge Jesus' sacrifice and Jesus will stand beside us in "court". If we accept Jesus' sacrifice Jesus tells Father God, "I took care of this one. I've got this one's sin covered." Our "charge" is cleared and we are found pure and are able to stand in the presence of a Holy God.

That sacrificial gift of Jesus' life and also His resurrection from the dead which defeated sin and death is what we celebrate on Easter.

I made baskets for each of our children for Easter morning. There were 6 small gifts in each basket. Each gift was a different color that reminded them of a part of the Jesus' story. We have a book that we read that tells us about each color. Green for the palm branches that were waved when Jesus rode into Jericho on a donkey. Purple for the wine served at the Last Supper. Red for the death on the cross. Brown for the grave. White for the angels that told the women Jesus was alive! Yellow to remind us for the gift of life that Jesus gave us by rising from the dead. Aliza really got it and could remember what each color represented.

We had brunch and church and then it was time for the highly anticipated Easter egg hunt. It was a rainy day so our men hid the eggs in my parents living room. Josiah was completely devastated that we couldn't hide eggs outside. He came around and was able to enjoy the egg hunt. A bunch of pictures follow!

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Peek at Spring

 Recently I've been getting to the end of the week and wondering where it has gone! We've had good and hard this week. We've had some smooth sailing days of school. That has been so nice! We have 40 days of school left. Not that I'm counting or anything! Today we finished 1st grade science. Yes, Aliza cried again. Not as much. She enjoyed history more than science. The hard part of the week? The freezing cold air outside and my lack of motivation! We took a walk one day and I about froze. The wind was icy. Today, however, was very nice and we had a lovely time outside.

We colored eggs yesterday with the Sheats cousins. Anna had a ball. All of her favorite things were included...water, scooping, pouring, and a round something to drop in the water. She had colored water all over the table, chair, floor and herself. And all of her eggs were cracked! The older children figured out that the longer you leave the eggs in the water the darker the color becomes.
This afternoon we took a hike with friends through their family's woods. Everyone had so much fun. We walked a long way and there was no complaining from anyone.
 The sand/rock pile was the highlight of the adventure.
 It was not long before everyone had their shoes and coats off.
 And by the end the older ones had all gotten their feet wet in the water. It was definitely not warm enough for that!
 Blue sky, sunshine, fresh air and friends were very good for my soul!

Monday, March 25, 2013

American Girl Store--Tyson's Corner

This was a day trip for Aliza. A visit to the American Girl doll store in Tyson's Corner, VA. Grandma Karen and Aunt Brandi came along. This trip was more of a tourist attraction than a shopping spree for us. I'll tell you all about it in photo journal style.

We embarked on our journey at 1pm. Aliza's girls (Marie-Grace, Kirstin, and Bitty Baby, Chocolate) are all buckled in the back seat. It was an hour and a half drive to Tyson's Corner from WV. Aliza was so excited. I had her watching for roads and exits to keep her occupied. 

After parking in the parking garage, Aliza got her girls settled in the stroller and put her bitty baby in the carrying pack. Janell acquired this American Girl stroller from one of Jeff's aunts and she let Aliza borrow it for this trip. It was just perfect. There were lots little girls with dolls in the store, but no other strollers. Aliza got lots of attention. She pushed her stroller all day without complaint.

Brandi and I carried the stroller up a flight of stairs to get out of the parking garage.
If Aliza was ever going to get hit by a car, it would have been walking to the store. The excitement was palpable and it took multiple reminders that we were on a road and there were cars coming to get safely into the store!
There were lots and lots of little girls looking at dolls! This store had 2 floors and Aliza wanted to go to the lower floor first. The lower floor had Bitty Babies and Just Like U dolls. Some displays were open and the dolls and accessories could be handled. Other displays were enclosed. At the end of the day Aliza said she really liked the open displays.
This is a shower/bathtub that Aliza has admired in the catalog for her doll house. Its' huge!
Waiting for the elevator was the only chance to grab a picture of Aliza with Grandma and Brandi.
I wanted to see this Volkswagen. It retails for $350, is licensed by Volkswagen, plays 70's tunes on the radio, the engine "runs", the lights work, etc. Aliza is listening to the radio.
A photo op with the 2013 doll of the year, Saige.
After exploring the upper floor we went back down to play with the interactive Bitty Baby display. A lot of the accessories were open to be tried out. Aliza spent quite a bit of time here.
Grandma babysat the girls.

After a solid hour in the store, the adults were ready for a drink and a break. Aliza wasn't so sure. The only way I got her out of the AG store was to tell her that there was a Disney store in the mall and we would be back to visit the AG store later. Lemonade and iced tea was very refreshing. (This is a very fun part of being a Mom! Making dreams come true!)
We walked around the rest of the mall and then went back to the AG store for supper. This meal was an event. Each of the dolls had their own seat. Aliza had to get each one out of the stroller and settled.
Aliza's smile didn't fade at all!
Aliza chose chicken noodle soup for her appetizer. She was really hungry. She ate every drop of soup in the bowl! On the table was a box of conversation questions. This was perfect for us. We asked and answered lots of questions. My favorite question to Aliza was "What is the perfect age? Why?" She said 8 or 12. Because I'll be able to read American Girl chapter books without Mommy's help.
It was the end of our day and Aliza had really been awesome and I guess it was a moment of weakness. Our waitress asked if it was Aliza's birthday. She said yes and I sprung for the birthday package. Aliza was positively thrilled. She and her girls received birthday crowns.
After the soup, Aliza could barely contain herself. She talked and talked and talked (as she had been all day), but this was up a notch. I had to keep reminding her to sit down and talk quieter. Her chair got closer and closet to Brandi. She was so anxious for her cake to arrive.
The girls crowns got turned upside down.
The cake finally arrived! The cafe sang Happy Birthday and Aliza blew out the candles.

We enjoyed cake and ice cream for dessert and we got to take the leftovers home. Aliza also received a goody bag which included a birthday t-shirt for her Bitty Baby.

Aliza and I agreed that she would make her purchasing choices after supper. She had a $25 budget and she wanted to get an accessory for both Marie-Grace and Chocolate (the Bitty Baby). She chose an accessory set for Marie that included a cake just like the one we ate, a bowl of ice cream and a cup of pink lemonade. I thought this was a very nice memory for the day. For Chocolate she chose a snack set that she has had her eye on for a long time.

I was so proud of her for enjoying the store and the day without asking for every single thing in the store!

We were all so tired when we got in back in the car at 8pm for the drive back to WV. Aliza didn't fall asleep though. She kept up the chatter the whole way home. We talked and talked and talked about the store and our favorite memories of the day.

Monday, March 18, 2013


 We woke up to a wet slushy whiteness on the ground and snow falling pretty steady. It didn't amount to more than this and was melted by midmorning. Hopefully this will be the last of the snow we see this year! I'm ready for a new room to be added to our house--the great backyard.

Any amount of snow calls for youngsters to bundle up and tromp through it. Today was no exception. Like every male, Josiah wanted to see what his gator could do in the snow. He was quite dejected when the tires caked with slush could no longer turn.
Aliza took her "girls" for a walk in the snow. Thanks to Aunt Janell we are borrowing this doll stroller for a few days.
 And the obligatory snow angel.
Changing subject...I made a Bacon-Cheddar Cauliflower Chowder for supper tonight. It was pretty easy to make and it was a believable alternative to Potato Soup. Aliza ate it. I think that was partially due to the extra bacon I put in. She loves potato soup that I make and I was going to be really surprised if it fooled her. She asked me to please make the potato soup that she likes again.

Another subject...Aliza will finish first grade history on Wednesday. I told her tonight and she must have been really tired because she cried and cried. She was so sad to say good bye to her teacher and not be able to watch the lessons again. It's just history...we aren't finished with school for the summer! I'm sure hoping that blows over by morning.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Romans Project 1:1-17

When I became aware of the Romans Project, I knew it was time to start memorizing Scripture again. Over the course of this year, I will memorize Romans 1, 8 and 12. It breaks down to two verses a week. I read them several times before I go to bed. Today I had some time alone so I decided to quote what I've learned so far--Romans 1:1-17.

I use a small book for each week's verses. I've grown accustomed to the page turns as my prompts for the next verses. I kept my book with me this time because I was a little nervous. So when you hear page turns it's my prompts. I looked down for words just a couple times.

Here it is...with a view of our yard through a screened window. =)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

While Preparing Supper

I started writing this blog in my mind while preparing supper tonight. You see, I could actually think while I was working. This was because of two things, 1) school was finished before supper (hallelujah) and 2) Aliza and Josiah were watching the Mary Poppins DVD they checked out at the library. So it was me and Anna preparing low cab Sloppy Jo Stuffed Peppers.

Here's what I was thinking. TV/screen time/DVDs can be a godsend. I spend a lot of energy working to maintain balance in the area of screen time and I have seen some outspoken blog posts recently on the horrors that occur in your children's minds and bodies from too much screen time, but, on the flip side, can't I just cook dinner in peace once in a while? Not every night. Maybe not once a week. But once in a while? A treat for myself...and the children. Without guilt.

My other strain of thought was how far I've come in my low carb cooking. Jeremy has lost 10 pounds and is signed on to this lifestyle of eating low carb/low sugar. As I said, tonight was Sloppy Jo Stuffed Peppers. They were good! It's the first time I followed a recipe for sloppy jo's. I always made them like my Mom did growing up--just ketchup and mustard. Not tonight! Tonight it was onion, garlic, Worcestershire Sauce etc. I made Egg Muffins the other day for Jeremy to heat up for breakfasts. (I'm not sure those were a huge hit.) Another big hit was Zucchini Lasagna--zucchini in place of noodles.

The other part of supper preparation is making salads for Jeremy and I. I'm getting more efficient as time goes on. Some nights Josiah and Anna help make salads and it is such a big mess and it seems I drag a thousand ingredients out of the fridge only to have to put them away again. Tonight I had one of those moments where I thought I was a genius. I chopped a whole head of lettuce and put it in a gallon ziploc bag. Tomorrow all I have to do is grab a handful from the bag and throw it in a bowl!

Then I served supper and the conversation in my mind was over!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Post Birthday Mayhem

 There is still birthday debris laying on the floor. There is still a lingering sense of entitlement that comes along with a birthday week. We are working on it one day at a time. I'm running full speed to stay one step ahead of whatever emotions the children are throwing at me! It seems that at least once a day they pass me and I have to sprint to catch up. Please tell me that I'm normal!

Anna was sick yesterday. Fever and lethargic. In the morning she barely lifted her head off my shoulder. I think I saw her walk once before supper and then after supper she perked up and today was a lot better. The doctor did say she has a mild ear infection. It could be viral so we aren't treating it yet. Hopefully it is viral and she will be better yet tomorrow. Aliza took a turn sitting and reading to Anna so I could get dressed yesterday. It's been a LONG time since I had a day that my sole purpose was to hold a child and cook meals. Oh yes, we had school and I did laundry. My arms were sore this morning from carrying 33 pounds of child with me all day!

This afternoon, during that extremely trying hour before supper, Josiah and Anna emptied the bookshelf so they could have beds. Josiah spent the evening fussing about having to pick them up. I told Josiah that "I'm on his case." That was not something that I wanted to hear MY Mom say growing up. He's got some lessons that need to be learned...and fast.

 We had books to return to the library today. Which means we also check out books. I put some tougher (for us) limits on the number of books to check out. Like last time when there were hard decisions I took a picture of the books we left at the library so that Aliza can choose those next time. Somehow that makes the decision process easier.
I'm sure tomorrow will be a fun day of holding boundaries, disciplining and reading books!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Birthday Party Times Three

Jeremy's birthday fell on a Saturday this year. It only made sense to have a triple birthday party so that his family would be here to celebrate with him. It took me forever to figure out how I was going to pull off a birthday party for a 7 year old girl, a 5 year old boy and a 30 something Daddy that made each of them feel special. I did my best and I think it was a success. Aliza certainly had lots of ideas! 

Aunt Brandi gave Aliza an American Girl Doll Party Book about a year ago. Aliza poured over that book and determined which party she wanted. She settled on Samantha's Tea Party. Aliza and I negotiated and compromised (mostly I compromised) and at the end of the day Aliza was happy with her party. 

The first necessary component was crafts. While Aliza and I were out for her birthday we picked out supplies for the craft projects. There were wooden picture frames to color with markers and glass jars to decorate with washable window markers. (The project in the book was painting vases with special paint and baking them.) I was quite proud that I have avoided paint and paintbrushes. Everyone seemed to enjoy the projects and it was boys that stuck with it the longest! 

 Then it was on to gifts. Since Josiah and Aliza are a bit older I insisted that they take turns opening presents--one and one.  Josiah got lots of green tractors and legos.
 Aliza still loves Lalaloopsy! She also got a mini American Girl Doll which comes with a mini book published in mini print. She got lots of other cool things too. =)

A model by model encyclopedia of John Deere tractors. He'll spend time reading that with his Great Grandad.

We did not forget the real birthday boy!
 Time for lunch! This is where I had a hard time getting organized in my planning! Jeremy is eating low carb/low sugar so I had a grilled chicken salad bar for him. There was pizza on Josiah's table. And Aliza requested cucumber sandwiches, thumbprint cookies and hot tea for her table. With hot tea flavors of mint magic and apple cinnamon spice which she requested her Grandma to provide.

 Aliza sat at her table and served everyone.
Finally, dessert. I put a lot into preparing birthday desserts. It's fun. And I love seeing their faces when I show them what I've made--just for them.

Josiah wanted farming tractors--with toys on the cake. His table cloth and plates were Johnny Tractor.
 5 years old?! I still can't believe it.
 I had ordered personalized AG doll cupcake transfers on etsy, which I was told shipped on March 1, but still haven't received. On Friday I had to come up with a Plan B for Aliza's cupcakes. Thankfully I had ordered AG doll stickers for decorations. I thought I ordered 1 pack and it came in a pack of 3. So I taped those stickers on toothpicks and they became cupcake toppers. Aliza was thrilled and I breathed a sigh of relief.
 Ice cream molds with fruit around them. These were in the party book and Aliza HAD to have them. This is raspberry sherbet with raspberries around it. There was also a vanilla one with strawberries around it.

 And Jeremy....Mint chocolate chip ice cream cake. I showed him the recipe picture and he said it would be worth splurging carbs for so I knew this was the one to make for him!

 After blowing candles Josiah got his Gator out. He gave his cousins rides. Oh my! I had no idea how crazy boys make each other. Josiah has been a stellar driver...until he had major distractions. (I learned an important lesson for later years) Josiah was looking back at Caleb while driving forward and ran straight into a tree at full speed. Caleb was jumping off the Gator while Josiah was driving which Josiah thought was awesome. Then Josiah was in charge of the gas pedal while Caleb was steering and Caleb decided to jump off....the Gator was still moving...toward the ditch. Then no one wanted to drive so Gideon (age 3) gave it a go and headed straight down the ditch toward the road. My brother (his Daddy) caught them. Josiah then gave Gideon driving lessons which was pretty entertaining to watch.
After everyone left I was pretty much exhausted. I laid in bed thinking Anna would wake me up, but I woke up first at 4:54 and jumped up. We needed to leave for church at 5:20.