Thursday, October 31, 2013

One of Those Amazing Days

These kinds of days happen once in a while and every time they do I want to document them so that I can look back and remember...

Josiah's theme in school this week is "favorite tales" so his teacher read The Gingerbread Man. He did a great job completing the assignment of writing a happy ending to the story for the Gingerbread Man. After that his teacher did an experiment. She set a gingerbread man cookie partially in a cup of water and set a timer for 1 minute, then (a new cookie) 3 minutes and then (another cookie) 6 minutes to see what happened to the cookie. They have been talking about fanciful characters vs true characters so I'm guessing the point was that a gingerbread cookie could not have survived in water and is a fanciful character. Maybe that was the point? Maybe it was just to engage the boys in learning.

Josiah just HAD to replicate this experiment. He just HAD to help me bake cookies. Guess what? That's what we did. We baked chocolate chip cookies. I attempted to over bake the 4 cookies I knew he would hold in water so that they would not immediately break! Josiah thought it was awesome to watch the cookies get soggy and disintegrate. We counted seconds...I don't think we got to 30.

We were home today. I could drop everything and bake cookies. Awesome life.
On a completely unrelated note, I substituted coconut oil for shortening. They tasted great, but were flatter than normal. I think I should have warmed the coconut oil a bit, maybe? I had never used it before. Coconut oil is my new plan for breaking the bank...that stuff is expensive!

Aliza's science class included an activity.  Choose a habitat  that they've studied in this chapter and make a model and then tell someone else about that habitat. The teacher reviewed all the habitats, walked them through the activity requirements (choosing a habitat, 2 animals and 1 plant that live in the habitat, an interesting fact about the habitat and where on Earth that habitat is found). She showed an example model for each habitat and then sent the students on their way to complete the activity.

Lucky for me, but completely on her own, Aliza chose tundra as her habitat. She came up with her own idea and I helped her gather the supplies. Aliza wanted to draw her animals and I did some cutting. Her animals are a polar bear and arctic fox. The fox is behind the rock on the left and the polar bear is in front of the rock on the right. There is also an igloo in the background. The cotton balls are snow falling and also snow piles on the ground. I offered to find pictures of animals to print or cut out from magazines, but Aliza was adamant that she wanted to draw them. She was super happy with her product. It was perfect timing that when she finished Grandma arrived and Aliza could tell her all her tundra.
Now, let me tell you why the process of this project was so amazing taking into consideration by background as a traditionally educated child. 1) As a parent, I did not have to compete with helicotper, over achieving parents who do their child's projects. 2) Aliza could be super happy with her work when it was done and the next day too. She did not have to walk into class and look at everyone else's work (or their parents) and find her's not measuring up. 3) We could work on this project in the morning when we both were fresh and alert and happy. Not after she was at school for 7+ hours and was assigned this project for homework--to do in the evening when neither of us care and are tired.

 How did I pull off giving Aliza undivided attention? These 2 were busy playing house...on top of the car. Of course that is the most logical place to play house. (It causes their Father to twitch.) And then I saw what blankets and pillow they took out. I didn't twitch. I just shook my head because, if you're going to bake cookies and make habitat models in one morning, something is going to have to give. Awesome life.
Then we had lunch and took a rest time (thank you, God!). I needed that. This afternoon it was time to tackle math and I knew that was going to be a big one. Aliza was introduced to the concept of borrowing in subtraction problems. She's a smart kid and she'll get it... We used just about every tactic I knew. She watched and listened to her teacher. She used manipulatives with her teacher and on her own. I did the writing so that she could just concentrate on talking her way through the process and then she did the writing and the talking. Let's emphasize the amount of TALKING that happened. (I totally understand her.) This got us through the front side of the worktext and I said, "Take a break. We'll do the back side tomorrow." Neither one of us could take any more! Awesome life.

All of this plus the rest of their school subjects were done before supper because tonight was movie and candy night. We watched The Incredibles. Aliza declared it the best movie ever. There were a couple out of control super heroes in our house after the movie...but they are all sleeping soundly now. Awesome life.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Leap In Learning

Along with 4 other families, we took a field trip to Barnes & Noble where we got a Store Tour. After learning about how the books are organized in the store, what the store sells, how books are received and prepared to be put on the shelves, the children did a scavenger hunt. Aliza paired off with another girl her age and the lady leading the tour stepped in the help them. I was then free to take Josiah and Anna back to the Thomas the Train table to play. When they finished the scavenger hunt the other little girl told her mom in front of Aliza that Aliza reads really well. Apparently that was just the confidence boosting compliment that Aliza needed.

I picked out a paper back book for each of the children because what good is a trip to Barnes & Noble if you don't bring home a book? Aliza was thrilled when I showed her the Lego Friends book I picked for her. She read the whole book by herself. For the first time she was distracted by the book and didn't want to do anything else before she finished it.
And then Aliza had her first lesson in cursive writing. This was a "pre test." In other words Aliza has only seen the letters demonstrated. I was impressed with her first try!
It's a common theme for me recently...I see my kiddos growing up.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Wedding Day

Wow! It was a beautiful day for a wedding. The sun was shining and the temperature was not too cold. All of us girls met at Mom's house first thing in the morning to do hair and makeup. We were all so relaxed. The ladies doing hair have done hair for all 4 of us sisters so we were all comfortable with each other. There was time for a relaxed lunch and we even sat down and visited for a few minutes. We took a moment to pray for my Gramma. Her heart rate was high that morning and we knew how much she wanted to enjoy the wedding. I'm not sure when her heart reverted to a normal rate, but when I talked to her at the reception she was feeling better.

Aliza LOVED getting her hair done. She was last and all morning she just hung out and listened and visited Great Gramma. When  it was her turn, she just grinned.
And then for the rest of the time she looked at herself in the mirror and danced around. She truly felt like a princess.
Then it was off to the church to get dressed and start pictures. Laura (the bride) squealed when she saw her hair and burst into tears when she saw herself in her dress. She was regal, truly.

I don't have strong reactions when I see myself. Haha. I neither danced around with the mirror or squealed when I saw my hair. Actually when I saw my hair I thought I was looking at my Mom's hair when she wore the Mennonite bun while I was growing up. She used a very similar part. 
A couple snapshots from my phone. I haven't even looked at Jeremy's pictures yet! The bride... Her groom made the headpiece for her.
Aliza was phenomenal all afternoon while we took pictures. She just hung out quietly. I didn't even give her a screen to occupy herself.
The groom... Aliza was curious about all the accessories on his kilt. John loves Scottish history he can tell her anything she wants to know.
Some of the things I'll remember from the day:

All of Laura's nieces and nephews walked in as flower attendants. Earlier this week Josiah was not at all sure he was going to walk down the aisle. I knew the one person who could convince him was his Uncle Jeff. Before the first rehearsal run through, Josiah was pouting. I sent him over to Uncle Jeff. Jeff said, "Josiah, look at me. You are going to walk down the aisle. No options." Josiah looked up at him and said, "ok." That was the end of that. No more pouting or complaints, only fearless cooperation. Jeff then told Gideon to hang on to Lydia's hand like she was his favorite toy. The day of the wedding everything went smoothly, except Caleb wasn't sure about having to hold 2 girls hands and Josiah did something to Gideon's tower in the play room right before the processional and Gideon was still mad and cried up the aisle.

The bridesmaid dresses had pockets. It was perfect. Janell and I put our phones in our pockets and when the it was time for the children to walk in, we pulled out our phones and videoed them. Everyone was turned around looking at the children anyway, right?!

There was some kind of draft across the stage that caused the candles to burn out extra quickly, including the candles to light the unity candle. Janell was behind me and we had a quick conversation which led to her looking at Mom and coming up with a quick rescue plan, which she pulled off flawlessly, of course.

After the ceremony, Janell and I undecorated the church and loaded up her car. We took some outside pictures. Then headed to the reception. When we arrived at the reception my Mom was frantic for me to get to Josiah. Josiah was having a crisis that only I could handle. He was so upset. After the party was introduced I had to take him home for a few minutes. I arrived back at the reception in time to gobble down my cold food. That little trip made me feel rushed.

There was lots of long kissing at the reception.

I did get to visit some. And then it was time to clean up the reception hall. Thankfully I have awesome aunts and uncles and siblings that helped clean up. AND we didn't have to put away the tables or chairs so it actually went pretty fast.

Janell and I were able to go to the hotel and visit with my Mom, her sisters and my Grandma from Ohio. Sitting with those ladies was a special time for me.

When I came home I gave a mother-in-law a big hug and huge thanks for all her she did to make it possible for me to help Janell and Mom with the work of the wedding.

It's the end of an era for my family. My Dad asked if I took good notes on this wedding because it's possible that MY daughter will be the next wedding in my family.  There's a lot of good life to live between now and then though.

Friday, October 25, 2013

For My Sister

Janell told me that I let her down this week. She checks my blog when she turns off her alarm in the morning and there was nothing to greet her.

Goooood Morning, Janell! It's time to wake up and get our little sister married!!!!

Janell is just plain amazing. The 4th of us 4 sisters is getting married tomorrow. Janell has taken each of our preferences (that includes her own wedding) and decorated the church and reception hall for us. Janell and Mom have everything organized and I help out and do what they tell me to the day before the wedding. Against my judgement I'm writing this at the end of our decorating day. I'm tired! I know Janell is even more tired! But everything looks awesome.

The sofa in the church foyer needed a haircut.
The reception is going to be lovely. Things were just starting to come together when I took this picture.
Tonight was the rehearsal dinner. The groom loves all things Scottish and his Mom decorating was just perfect.
Soup, sandwiches and cupcakes hit the spot.

Anna with her Grandmas. We are so happy to have Grandma and Grandpa here to help us out tomorrow.
It's time to rise and shine, Janell! One more time to get hair and makeup done and put on pretty dresses to walk down the aisle in support of our sister and to remember our own wedding vows. Oh yes...and to see our sweet kiddos and nieces and nephews walk down the aisle together.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


We really enjoyed the fall decor at Oakley's Market this year. I didn't feel that great. I think it's allergies. Sinus pressure that makes my eyes feel so heavy I don't want to keep them open. There were 3 kiddos that really wanted to pick pumpkins so off we went. It was unanimously decided that we would do the Corn Maze first.
It was nice to see evidence of plentiful rainfall this year. One year Jeremy and I could easily see over the top of the corn stalks. This year the corn was tall with full ears of corn.
Our leaders kept running ahead! It worked out though, Jeremy and I didn't have to hit any dead ends. =)

The littlest leader got tired of running and needed to be carried.

Aliza wanted me to go down the slide first. Not a problem except that I slid right off the end of the slide. Surprised me!

Josiah was our leader in the pumpkin patch. He picked out the vintage green John Deere wagon and opted for the part of the field where the pumpkins were still attached to the vine.
The vintage wagon did not accommodate a rider. The wagon bent and sat on the wheel and it would not budge. 
Josiah wanted a BIG green pumpkin. It started raining and he was still looking and walking farther down the field... We didn't get too wet and he found just the one. Now he is curious if it will turn orange.
We came home. I made lunch and I could hardly wait to crawl under the covers for a good long nap. That's exactly what I did and I felt so much better when I woke up!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Picture Perfect

The morning dawned overcast, foggy with rain in the morning forecast. For fear of dressing three children for nothing, we opted to reschedule our photography session. Two hours later the sky cleared off and it was obvious it wasn't going to rain so with some quick texting our session was back on only half an hour later than scheduled. Thinking I had some "extra" time this morning we were taking it slow and easy. I kicked into high gear and got everyone dressed and out the door in half an hour!

You can't see in this picture that I have on, oh maybe 3 or 4 inch, heels. My children are dressed up with warnings to not get dirt on the--brand new--clothes they are wearing to my sister's wedding next week. For good measure I carried a pair of flip flops with me because I was quite certain I was going to need to be chasing somebody around and the heels just weren't going to work for that. Past photography session drama can haunt a Mama!

I didn't need to chase anybody! Our children were cooperative and smiling and looking angelic. We could have quit taking pictures after 10 minutes and had good ones. It made me giddy (oh the new possibilities!) on one hand and on the other hand I wanted to cry (my babies are growing up!).
Let me tell you, as fun as this picture perfect look is it is only a moment in time. Yes, it is a beautiful moment and one that I will cherish forever.

Josiah was done after that first 10 minutes until we found him some water, a stick and seaweed...then Laura got some real smiles! And after that we changed clothes and we headed off--barefoot--down the trail. This is where we ended up. Feet splashing in the water. It can't be the middle of October!!

I decided a treat was in order so it was lunch out at their favorite--McDonalds. Not only McDonalds, but eating inside the restaurant. I decided I would take the risk and go for it. Would you believe they sat and ate their lunch quietly, without standing up on the booth bench? And then they played for a little bit in the play area and when I said it was time to go they left without complaint.

If I was giddy before I was really giddy now! Then I came home and saw the picture posted on facebook and I couldn't believe how big my children look and I shed a few tears while I just sat and stared at my family. How can I be so lucky to be the Mom of that family?!

We had one more hurdle left in the day. I'd made appointments for us 3 girls to get our hair trimmed in the afternoon. I'm took everyone with me to the salon for the first time. I had to wake Anna up early from her nap. Aliza got nervous when we pull in to the parking lot. But guess what!? We were there for almost an hour and a half and I didn't have to correct behavior one time. Granted, it was a new place and Anna was uncertain and Josiah had my phone. But that's a long time to just hang out.

I was flying high when we got home just before supper! Oh the possibilities of things we can do! IF this is a new trend and not a chance occurrence...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

My Recent Thoughts on "Stuff"

It's that time of year when my mailbox gets stuffed with catalogs from every toy manufacturer known to man and the children write mile long lists of toys they want for Christmas. Yesterday the LEGO catalog arrived. I like LEGOs. I think they are a great toy and a toy that I am frequently tempted to invest in because it brings so much excitement and fun to the children I am buying it for.

Well. I looked through the LEGO catalog and, lo and behold, there were things I wanted...for myself! Because I thought they would be fun family times and memories. One was an advent calendar. It turned into two advent calendars because there was a City LEGO one and a Friends LEGO one--each one costing $34.99

But then--there was this Winter Village Market. It has a carousel--that turns when you turn the crank and the horses move up and down! Upon further investigation there appear to be scenes released every year to add to the village. And some of the houses have light bricks so that the windows have light in them. Some sets are already retired. Ok. You get the picture. It can be added to every year.

This begs the questions. Can I imagine 60 year old Carla setting up a LEGO village on the mantel every winter? Well...maybe there will be grandchildren who will think it's neat. But, just think--I have 10 years until Josiah is 15 and there's a good possibility that he would enjoy building a set for a good many years yet. Then I stopped--that's a lot of money to dish out over the years. Figure right about $100/set.

Even a day later I'm still getting kind of giddy thinking how much fun this could be. BUT. And it a BIG BUT--is this how I should really spend our money? With that money I could sponsor a child in another country, invest in a project that helps people gain education or clean water, or buy food for someone right down the road from me who no longer has access to their food stamp benefits. I don't know what the financial future holds and it is possible that we may need to share our money and resources (just like our parents taught us to share our toys??!) instead of buying more toys for ourselves.

I don't know.

I've just been thinking. There aren't too many times when something so completely frivolous catches my eye.

Our children will have a lovely Christmas. They will receive toys. They know there is a budget and they will not get everything on their list. I hope they also learn that life isn't all about them and what they want. There are a lot of other people in this world working hard for a bit of shelter and food and if we are earning enough and more for our own needs then we can reach out and share.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A New Family Activity

I recently learned about Letterboxing. Geocaching never really excited me, but as soon as I read about Letterboxing I was ready to drive to the nearest location. Basically, there is a website ( where you can search for boxes and clues to boxes. When you find a box it contains a rubber stamp that you add to your Letterbox journal and a notebook in which you add your own stamp, name and date you found the box.

It's been a rainy week, but just misty today so I asked Josiah and Aliza if they wanted to go on a treasure hunt. When they found out the treasure was a stamp they weren't so excited. My aunt and cousins are visiting from out West and Hannah said she'd go with me...then Aliza and Josiah decided they would go to. (I apologize for the pathetically blurry pictures. I had to grab them quick!)

We found the spot...
Dug a little....and found the box! I admit I was probably the most excited.
Aliza opened the box.
...and revealed the stamp. How appropriate.
We stamped our books.

And then covered the box back up. Aliza and Josiah were totally ready to find another box. Me too! Too bad there aren't any more within our normal driving range.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Little Girl Growing Up

It felt like a monumental shopping trip. The goal was to purchase a dress for Aliza to wear to her Aunt's wedding later this month. A dress that Aliza and I both agreed made her feel like a princess going to a ball. This was the first time that I took Aliza shopping knowing that we were going to have to go to multiple stores to find just what we were looking for. She wore her red, glittery heeled shoes for the occasion and we set out. Oh yes...we took my Mom along. I needed some moral support and an extra pair of hands and eyes to keep things moving fast! =) We had to explain to our little shopper that we had a goal and needed to stay focused. Aliza said focus wasn't her thing. Believe me, it isn't!

At our 4th store and after lunch at Panera, we found the perfect dresses. One for the wedding and one for church. Aliza put those dresses on and she grinned and twirled and started dancing. She didn't want to take them off.

Then we found a perfect fancy headband.

And then we looked and looked for shoes and finally found black, glittery shoes with a heel. While I was standing in line to pay for those shoes my eyes got teary, realizing we crossed into new territory. I was buying a full blown outfit for my daughter, according to her approval, and oh, this is one shopping trip of many, many to come.

Aliza put her dresses and shoes on to show her Daddy. She posed and grinned and he didn't let her down. She got her Daddy's approval and affirmation that she is pretty. Before we took the dress off, Aliza confidently says that she is going to be the most beautiful one at the wedding. I don't tell her that the bride gets that status for the day.

No matter what 7 year old girl should know in their heart that she is beautiful...and that her Mommy and Daddy KNOW she is beautiful.

I took a picture in the dressing room, but, of course that doesn't do it justice. So I'll share pictures after the wedding.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Joy Dare::September

703. A consequence turns into a game
704. Conversation with Gramma about gratitude
705. Rest time
706. Gift of artwork (from Josiah)
707. Random "I appreciate you" text from Jeremy
708. Anna joining in the pretend games
709. "The God of Angel-Armies is always on our side" (a line in a song)
710. We are only expected to handle one moment at a time.
711. Change of season in the air
712. Sticky fingers from big lollipops
713. Seeing my Mom and hearing my Mother-in-Law's voice
714. A gentle breeze through open windows
715. The children soooo excited to see and play with Uncle Joel and Aunt Brandi
716. My brother to give a hug to
717. Learning to pray thanks instead of just begging for what I want in a situation
718. Last beach trip this summer
719. Visiting with Karen and Brandi too late last night
720. Sliver of light in the sky and then it disappeared behind a cloud
721. New tree climbing skills
722. Chat with my Texas brother-in-law
723. Their perspective in the midst of a devastating situation
724. Aliza changing her attitude
725. Leaves starting to fall
726. Hot water for a shower
727. Eggs cooking for breakfast
728. A friend engaged
729. More important than a clean house is a close family.
730. New Bible study classes and Aliza has one for her age!
731. Struggling through the first kindergarten reader
732. Knowing when it's time to stop
733. Arms reaching to be picked up
734. Art therapy
735. Chick-fil-A for lunch complete with balloons
736. Relaxed after an evening out
737. Aliza's hug when I tell her I like her first thing this morning
738. Dinner with Jeremy
739. My children don't want me to leave--and don't want me to come back
740. Copying words with magnet letters
741. Learning to fly kites
742. Completely unexpected gift
743. New sheets. Makes him feel grown up and says he doesn't need to lay with him anymore.
744. Most perfect day to be outside--the boys burned brush, Aliza and I took a walk
745. Josiah so excited to give birthday gifts to his cousins. Even a truck of his own for each of them
746. Just down time with my sister
747. A boy and his Daddy golfing
748. Aliza faithfully completing her homework for Bible study
749. Smell of smoke from burning brush on a crisp cool evening
750. New Lego incentive charts brings fresh motivation for young learners
751. Monday after a relaxing weekend
752. Invention of CDs
753. Erasing scribbles from Aliza's Bible study book--put there by a younger one
754. Sisters singing after the lights are out
755. Family evening at home
756. Helping in the children's class at Bible study
757. Taking a break from school and learning jazz steps outside
758. Admission fee handed back to me
759. My arm in a ridiculous position because a child wants to hold it while they fall alseep
760. Actually hitting golf balls
761. Squirrels gathering chestnuts
762. Very laid back bedtime since the children are just enjoying each other's company
763. Evenings outside
764. Taking a snack to my Mom at work just because I could
765. Learning in a group
766. Visiting with Phil and Linda
767. Ice cream after church
768. Women older than me to gather wisdom from
769. My husband beside me
770. An aunt to call and talk to
771. Visiting with my Mom over tea
772. The first pumpkin recipe of the season
773. Aliza holding pleasant conversation
774. Staying calm through temper tantrums
775. Josiah wanted a picture with Daddy before he left for an overnight trip
776. Slumber party with Aliza complete with whispering, giggling and reading
777. Snacking on Hershey's Pumpkin Spice Kisses
778. Flashcards
779. Daddy had fun golfing and a safe trip home!
780. A perfect day for a walk
781. An afternoon playing with cousins and some needed talk time for the Mamas.
782. Cookies and milk
783. School finished for today
784. Conversations with Moms during dance class
785. A little girl so tired even after nap time
786. A box just the right size
787. Special delivery
788. Husband scrubs the kitchen
789. Legos at the library
790. Naps in the car
791. Sitting outside to enjoy the WV evening and sunset
792. Red shoes with glitter and heels
793. Golf clubs just the right size
794. Sisters
795. Sun sparkling on the water
796. This little guy's birthday party and cake all over him
797. Watching the horses
798. An outdoor "office"
799. Text conversation from faraway friend to brighten my day
800. Seeing my sister surrounded by community at her church bridal shower