Saturday, November 30, 2013

Joy Dare::November

897. An empty house to clean out the toy box
898. A date!
899. A windy, rainy day really makes it feel like fall
900. Cleaning for a new sofa
901. Welcoming my sister home from her honeymoon and into her new home
902. Aliza had an answer when she was asked, "What did you see God do today?"
903. Walking in the woods
904. Having choices of where to sit in the living room
905. Nature wreaths
906. A history project that took us across the yard to visit long time residents of our little village
907. School finished before supper
908. Clean and folded clothes
909. Pumpkin bread baking
910. A night of uninterrupted sleep
911. A great big pile of leaves
912. An unexpectedly warm afternoon
913. How the children notice details in nature. Josiah pointed out light shining through a space in the clouds
914. Resident woodpecker
915. Effective consequence
916. Perseverance to follow through on effective consequence
917. The feeling when I crawl under the covers at night
918. A fun co-op class
919. More time to practice waiting and trust
920. Another day nice enough for a walk
921. Billy Graham's last message
922. Collecting donations for a project
923. My closet clean and organized
924. Grass cut for the winter
925. 20 question game 5 year old style (how many time does he change his word during the game??!)
926. Time to play with Anna alone
927. Brightened Judy's day
928. Drilling letters and reading with Josiah
929. Good health
930. Being home and available
931. Jeremy didn't have to work all night to fix the computer crisis
932. Sitting, holding kiddos and reading
933. Kind, helpful neighbors to jump my car this morning
934. Acting on a gut instince
935. Aliza said, "reading is one of my favorite activities."
936. Using minecraft specifically for education
937. Nobody even asked to use the computer this evening
938. Jet packs made from 2 liter soda bottles
939. All in a row eating frozen yogurt
940. Cleaning and rearranging
941. Wrestling with this season of giving and how much is too much
942. Planning Anna's birthday party
943. Having enough sofa seating for everyone
944. Cutting shoe toppers for Sole Hope
945. Passing on the supplies for another Sole Hope party
946. Warm sun on our faces--in November!
947. Jumping in puddles
948. New lighting for the living room
949. Understanding more how fragile life is
950. Baking cookies for a youth group
951. Asking a question to know for sure
952. Talking and listening
953. A sister to help with school
954. A kind cashier
955. A Mom that didn't pass judgment
956. A sister who understands
957. A daughter who declared herself my apprentice
958. Ending a difficult day with an I love you.
959. Lots of help
960. Cake decoration arrived just in time
961. Squeals of delight
962. Talking at the table with parents
963. Stopping in the sermon to listen to the children singing in the next room
964. Giggles. Lots and lots of giggles
965. Children to cheer up Great Gramma
966. Parents and in-laws who are friends
967. Playing preschool Uno
968. A Christmas concert--the Hallelujah Chorus and an amazing piano solo
969. Thinking about every penny I spend
970. Hanging out at Laura's house
971. The feeling of heart swelling when I saw our family pictures
972. Sitting at the window watching the children play together
973. Cold, crisp, fresh air before rain
974. Giving Anna extra attention
975. Sorting pictures
976. TobyMac on repeat--and loud
977. Cabin fever craziness
978. Dead school computer means Thanksgiving Break starts a day early
979. Being with Gramma
980. A husband to handle all my technical difficulties
981. A wonderful Thanksgiving dinner
982. Watching Ann and Liz's webcast with Mom and Gramma
983. Lunch in the car
984. New clothes for half the price
985. Letterboxing in the cold
986. Fancy face painting
987. Feeling of Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays on the same day

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I haven't decided which pictures I'm using for Christmas cards yet so I'll share some of our funny ones. I have decided that I'll use a pictures that makes our family look lovely and "put together." haha.

Josiah was not at all happy about having his picture taken alone. He was done after the first 30 seconds, but he pulled it together for a little longer.
The girls, however, were perfectly happy to be in every single picture and didn't want to let Jeremy and I have a picture alone!
Humongous leaves from sycamore trees.
At Pemberton Park there is a pond with an island. Josiah was in little boy heaven on the island. I had to retract my "you have on dress pants, dress shoes, a white shirt, and tie that you have to wear to your Aunt's wedding on Saturday....DO NOT get dirty" lecture. He immediately caught some muck with a stick.
Now this picture I was tempted to use on our cards. What says Merry Christmas more than a family in wedding attire with a little boy holding a stick with pond muck dangling from it!!??
We could also giggle over the thought of me walking around the park in 4 inch heels that were a little big, well, maybe a whole size, too big, but were too perfect not to wear with that dress.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Celebrating Anna

I know that I could have cropped these pictures and made a much more lovely presentation, but I didn't because it would have taken time that I don't have. Forgive me.

Celebrating Anna was so much fun. She's easy to celebrate. When I asked her what kind of birthday party she wanted she said, "Bubble Guppy Happy Birthday." I wasn't very excited about a Bubble Guppy party so I emphasized the bubbles and then it was pretty fun. As I was preparing bubble streamers this week she came in my room and exclaimed, "so pretty!"

We gave Anna presents from us earlier in the day. I hope I can always remember her squeal of delight as she opened each present. Princess shoes from Aliza were a huge hit.
Anna and Aliza have had a lot of fun playing with the dollhouse.
Anna took a nap and the rest of us got to work decorating a cake, making party food and decorating the dining room. I had LOTS of input on how things should go.
My splurge was this Bubble Guppy cake decoration. I bought it from an etsy shop. I ordered it on Nov 13. It didn't ship until Nov. 19 from California. It arrived in the nick of time...3:30pm on Nov. 22 the day of the 5:00pm party. I sure was relieved when I got the mail.
Ready for her party. I was determined to get Anna's hair out of her face so we could see those blue eyes on pictures. Brandi had it pulled back in clips and then Anna decided the purple princess headband was a must.
When Aunt Brandi is around there is no one else in Anna's world. Literally.
There were lots of delighted squeals. Anna has really wanted a backpack so when the Polly Pocket came in a backpack, nothing could beat it. She had that backpack on instantaneously.
Josiah decided that there had to be streamers. So he hung them. This was the kid's table. Shell mac and cheese, goldfish, donut bubbles (donut holes), and grape and banana bubbles. Nothing healthy about it and none of the children seemed to mind! The adults had salad bar.
Anna was thrilled to blow out her birthday candles.

I saw the idea to add food coloring to bubbles and blow them on paper as "paint." I thought it would be fun to try. I was very conservative with the food coloring and there were strict instructions to blow bubbles ONLY on the paper. It went well. No major disasters.

After the party Anna was tired and ready for some screen time. At least she looked really tired. She must have still been excited because she somehow managed to keep herself awake until almost 11:00! That is unheard of in this house--even with a nap!
So now Anna is 3, yes, that makes me a little sad. My experience is that the 3rd year is a tough one for parenting. It's ok though. I'm experienced now and ready for her! My experience also tells me that she will find a new way to baffle me and make me question my sanity and parenting ability. Every moment is worth it.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday Anna!
 I can't believe my baby is three years old. I still kiss those cheeks every time I pick her up.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Africa" Cookies

In their online store, Sole Hope has Africa cookie cutters. I decided that every shoe cutting party should have Africa cookies for a snack. Unfortunately, I decided that a bit late and the cookie cutter arrived a day late. But a youth group was having a party on Wednesday so I decided to put the cookie cutter to good use and make cookies for them. Next month this cookie cutter will be a Christmas tree decoration because it will make me happy to look at it.

I'm on a hunt for the perfect cut out cookie recipe. This one was a Snickerdoodle cookie. The dough was great to work with, but I wasn't completely sold on the taste. I had some really great helpers. I convinced them that they had to listen and follow directions and then they worked really well and stuck with it.
This helper thought the dough was very yummy and played with it.

I sprinkled some sugar on top. The cookies are especially yummy dunked in milk. Of course that is the best way to eat most any cookie, in my opinion!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sole Hope Shoe-Cutting Party

In the fall issue of Life:Beautiful magazine, I read an article about an organization called Sole Hope. Sole Hope provides shoes for children in Uganda to prevent foot related diseases caused by a sand flea called a jigger. These jiggers burrow into feet as children walk barefoot, lay eggs and in the foot and multiply, causing serious infection and disease. Sole Hope removes jiggers, provides shoes to prevent jigger bites, provides education about disease, and sprays homes and school to decrease the jigger population.

One way to help is to host a shoe-cutting party. Sole Hope provides a pattern and support materials and when they receive the cut shoe pieces they take them to Uganda where a worker is paid a fair wage to assemble the shoe.

I decided to host a shoe-cutting party. It was something so different for me to think about. I really enjoyed the whole process. First, I reached out to local friends via facebook to collect materials. Materials needed are denim and cotton fabric and plastic.

I had 8 ladies come to my house to cut shoes today. I decided to organize by material. There was a denim table.
A plastic table.
And a cotton table.
Three different pieces are needed from denim and they are cut with a regular fabric scissors.
Two different pieces are needed from cotton and they are cut with a pinking shears.
A heel support is needed from plastic.
It was easy to chat while we worked. =)
Each piece is labeled with the shoe size and then organized into what is needed for one shoe and secured with a large safety pin. It takes 12 pieces for one shoe!
Chrissy and I did the organization and cut out a few pieces so that there would be 9 complete shoes.
I've really enjoyed learning more about the Sole Hope organization. I think it is the simplicity of the solution and the creativity of being about to do something tangible--not just send money--that really caught my attention. Most recently I read on their blog that they are ready to contract with 2 local nurses to do follow-up care on children who have had many jiggers removed from their feet.

Check out and consider hosting your own shoe-cutting party!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Square One

It feels like going back to square one, but it's not really. Josiah reached the end of his second unit (6 units in the curriculum) and I knew for sure that he was not keeping up. Josiah is really great at sitting at his desk and letting his lesson play while he is busy playing with Legos. Now this works for Aliza, she can play with something while she is listening to her lesson and still get the information she needs. That's why I let Josiah try it. Now i know that he needs to focus on one thing. We are taking some time to go back and review the letters he has learned so far. He needs to identify the letter, know the sound and be able to read it in words. Letters, sounds and reading are introduced simultaneously. If you keep up it works great...if you get behind you're in trouble.

I'm kicking myself for not stopping sooner. I kept hoping that it would click and he would naturally catch up.

So last night I found myself in the position, for the first time, of needing to come up with my own lesson plans for the day. I love the structure of having lesson plans laid out for me cause I'm really great at following directions. =) That's the reason I pay for an expensive curriculum! Anyway, I had some butterflies in my stomach trying to think about what I was going to do. I came up with some ideas, printed some worksheets and generally had a plan.

Josiah was not happy with me this morning until I told him that he was going to create a new world on Minecraft called My ABC World. His job is to build every letter as we relearn them. And with that I had his buy-in and, really, after he built his n and i, he knew them.

His next job was to build the letters with Lego's. He had to throw in a little drama, but he did it. I had a learning website ready for him, but he wanted nothing to do with that. I didn't think it was too babyish, but something about it did not sit with well with him. So we did the worksheets, said the letter names and sounds over and over, talked about how i and n together make the word "in" and then he desperately wanted to paint the letters. So that's what he did. At the end of the day he could still tell me the letters and the sounds they make. Whew.

When it was time for math, I told Josiah he could not have any legos on this desk. Drama. I negotiated that he could have legos on his desk if there was no talking. He decided that there would be no legos on his desk. (Win for Mom!) I gave him blank paper and crayons. He drew some pictures. I heard him answer questions and he did his assignment with no problem at all.

Yes, I realize that this whole issue is as much a Mommy as teacher problem that could have been avoided in the first week of school. But, alas, here we are now. A friend and I were texting today about how school is so much trial and error. We likened it to a very narrow balance beam--with zig-zags. Maybe Josiah needed lego's to transition to the idea of more formal learning and now he's ready for the next stage. I shouldn't be too hard on myself. Josiah is learning. He is going to read and be just fine. I'm learning too. So much more than I ever imagined.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Just a Day

I've talked about good days. This was not one of them. It wasn't a terrible day. I was just in a bad mood. And that makes everyone else in a bad mood too. This day ends with a little girl still awake at 10pm. Oh the joys of having a good afternoon napper!

Maybe the problem with today was that I just couldn't live up to my own expectations. I couldn't get the house to the point that I wanted it. I can't make Josiah learn faster than he can learn. I didn't let myself make cookies.

The temperature was lovely morning. We took a walk and visited our favorite neighbors. That was a good choice because she seemed brighter when we left. School really went smoothly. The laundry is clean, dry and folded. Everyone ate 3 meals and got hugs, kisses and smiles. Even if I didn't feel like smiling.

That's all. I'll go to bed and try again tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

In the Last Few Days

My brother needed to get rid of a sofa set that was in a house he is renovating. He offered it to us and since the sofa we had was in dire need of replacement we accepted this sturdy, comfy, plaid, L shaped sectional. Soon we will completely rearrange our "living room" to accommodate the L shape. Now I'd like some throw pillow and window treatments. But how to work with the plaid? Then there will be the issue of lighting when we move the living room around. I've gotten myself in quite a fix! Did I mention that the whole family has a place to sit now? And there are options! It's really a novelty...and quite fun! And having couch cushions to make houses with? It doesn't get any better than that!

We took a lovely fall walk around the pond at Pemberton Park. We were able to pretty much avoid photobombing any family portraits. I'm pretty sure every photographer in the area was out that day with clients.

The children picked up colorful leaves and anything else that caught their eyes as we walked. They made nature wreathes with their collections.

Aliza knew exactly what she wanted to do and put hers together really fast.
It was still wet when I took this picture, but it hangs really nice too.
Josiah tore his leaves so that they fit neatly and perfectly on the the cardboard form.
Anna used every single thing she collected including every little stone. I think she had at least half of the bottle of glue on her wreath. But she stuck with the project and enjoyed the process.
Aliza had a history report to complete that required historical information about the town we live in. We took a little field trip across our yard to visit our neighbors who are life long residents. Andy is very knowledgeable and a retired educator so he was more than happy to sit at the table and talk with Aliza.
It's a good kind of busy around here!