Monday, December 29, 2008

moving and grooving and reflecting

Today I went on a total cleaning spree and moved furniture and vacuumed like my life depended on it. I have a love relationship with my vacuum cleaner so he and I hung out all day. We did the walls, the floors and touched up the drapes!

Then I folded all the laundry and washed all the bedding in the house.

I have still resisted the urge to take down the Christmas decorations but it is hard for me this year.

It took me a long time to get into the Christmas spirit thing and now I want all the decor gone so that it will be easier to clean and organize again.

I am resisting as long as I can for the kids. They love the Christmas stuff and I want them to enjoy it.

Oh, I had a question about my Jesse tree. One of my amazing readers had never heard of such a thing, so I will tell you a little bit about ours.

Last year I found this book at the church book store. It had directions for making a banner and then making felt and embroidered ornaments to hang on it. The idea is that you do a Bible reading for each day tracing the story of Christ through the entire Bible and you hang an ornament that helps to symbolize that story each day.

Well, not to disapoint you all, but I don't think I could embroider all of those ornaments in a year's time. That just isn't a skill I have learned yet. So, I pulled out something that I did know how to do and that is clay. I made all the ornaments, with my kids, out of polymer clay. We baked them in the oven and we started doing our readings.

Last year when I started this my kids were young. They were 4 and 6 and well, they couldn't sit through all the scripture readings that they had laid out for us in this book, so I would use the stories from the Children's Bibles that we have around and sometimes I would read portions of the actual Bible story and sometimes I would read portions and paraphrase it all so the kids would get it better. It worked out great!


These are a few pictures of our ornaments on our Jesse Tree. You can spot a burning coal in tongs as in Isaiah, a scroll as in the scroll of Caesar calling for the census, the fish as in Jonah and the Great Fish, the ram from Abraham and Issac, the Rainbow from Noah's ark, the tree in The Garden.

You may spot others as you look at the pictures. The entire collage can be clicked on to enlarge it.

This has been a wonderful way for us to reflect daily on the wonder of the season. It has made our Christmas season much more meaningful.

I have more to post concerning Christmas but that will be saved for another post.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

I have so many posts started and I just need the time to finish them up and wind up my thoughts into some conclusive point. It hasn't happened yet, but it is bound to happen. Right? I certainly hope so. The problem occurs when I get a thought in the middle of the day and I sit down to write, then I have to hop up to take cookies out of the oven. Then I have to put tea on, then I have to pour some lemon zinger tea for some small people to have with a fresh baked cookie. Then I have to get up to clean up the lemon zinger from the floor because the said little people were giggling too hard at silly jokes and knocked the tea all over the floor. Ah the giggles... I could do without the tea on the floor, but I certainly can't deal without the giggles.

That in a nut shell is why I start MANY blog posts and often do not finish them. Of course, the scenario often changes but it is still so much the same.

I finally have all the presents under the tree and I have the stockings stuffed and I have the last Jesse tree ornament ready and waiting with the Bible open and I have to lay out my clothes and wake early to celebrate the day our Savior came here. The day he lowered himself to walk with us.

What a moment.

What an incredible point in time when we celebrate this absolutely amazing point in the life history of our world.

To you, to yours, to all of us here to celebrate on this small blue planet.

Merry Christmas, may it be your best yet.

Friday, December 19, 2008

one sunday in november

One Sunday in November I took a day's worth of pictures. I didn't plan anything special this day, it just sorta happened. It was a busy day looking back on it, but I have a feeling that everyday would seem busy if I actually took pictures and documented everything we do. I didn't start taking pictures until mid-morning, so I will describe that morning until that point.

I awoke to The Girl playing multiple instruments on my bedroom floor. We are talking drums and tambourines and singing... it was great. Really. We did breakfast, which I think was pancakes and then we settled in to cleaning up the house and living the standard Sunday morning. We attend church on Saturday night so we do not have the typical Sunday morning church routine.

As I was cleaning the kitchen, the kids started pulling out projects and things to do.

The Boy pulled out a kit to make window clings and decided on a turtle. First he needed to outline it all in black and wait a few hours and then color it all in.



On the other end of the table, The Girl started this project. These little guys are like packing peanuts and are actually just like the biodegradable ones that some companies use. They sell these at expensive kid stores for crafts. I got mine for free from someone who was getting rid of their stash. You simply wet them slightly and they stick together. She was making a wall here.



This is the caterpillar that The Boy made.



After a bit the Aquadoodle was pulled out. I love this thing! Art with painless water filled markers! Who ever thought this up deserves a gold medal. We practice spelling words on this too, but that is another post.


Back to the kitchen and a bit later, this is the outline done on the turtle. It is now drying.


In the meantime, I am checking out this magazine. Look at those cookies! Yum! I love the detail of that one with the snowman and the boy and I actually got on ebay and checked out the molds that are used to make cookies like that. I was just so impressed with the look of it.



Yet another item was pulled out of the laundry room. This is another favorite. I found this toy at a yard sale on base at our last station. It is from Germany and that becomes obvious as you look at what this toy does. You get to use a little hammer and real tacks. You see in Germany they can sell fun toys like these because people are not as sue happy there. They know that if a kid swallows a tack that they as a parent are to fault, not the company for making a toy. My kids love this and I think I paid a dollar for it. Great fun!!!



This is the overall look of the table as all of this was going on at virtually the same time. My table nearly always looks like this though.

I tell people we just have the privilege of eating in a classroom.


The finished hammering project. Nice standard little picture there... now we can all collectively sigh at the happy little domestic scene.


Time for music!!! Singing and making up songs about virtually nothing! Can it get any better?


The instruments were put away and they collaborated forces to build a fort to fight the bad Tigers. No kidding.


The cushions are off my sofa again.



They made arrows and spears out of K'nex. They had to fight off the bad guys from their fort. Guess who had the privilege of playing the bad tiger? Yup... that would be me! See what getting half your college education in Drama gets you?!


After some grand battles we stopped for lunch. That consisted of amazing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Yum. We had a few other things with that but I can't really remember what right now. Probably some clementine oranges. We love those guys!


After lunch the turtle was finished and it currently resides on the window of The Boy's bedroom.
The colored portions become more clear as they dry and look like a sun catcher type thing. It will stick right on the glass until the sun will slowly over the time of about a year disintegrate the material and you get to scrape it off the glass with a razor.


I checked on the bedrooms and what was going on up there. It looks like the dollhouse people are having a picnic. Notice the composed dad and the family dog. Now, look at the mom's wild and disheveled hair. Should I be fixing my hair more often?! What is she trying to tell me?!

The kids are playing here having great fun in the tree house and enjoying the picnic.


Ah, now next door in The Boy's room we have the K'nex mess. This mess shows up way too often around here. He loves these things though. They can be so many different things and he does use them to build things with the kit instructions but he also builds tons of different things. Like arrows. Spears. Guns. Such things that are so worthy of a little boy's time.


It was right about then that we went outside and The Boys started doing this.


The girls started doing this. It was time for the garden to get winterized. Mushy pumpkins were getting buried so they could make yummy dirt to plant things in when spring hits us.


The boys continued doing a bit of this...


The girls did a bit of this...


Then it was time to get ready for kid's choir practice. I washed up the kids and got them into appropriate clothing and ran to the commissary because I forgot that it was The Girl's turn to bring in snacks for her class. We picked up some of these guys for the kids. They are safe. No milk, no peanuts, just issues for those with wheat allergies and she has none of that going on in her class. She has developed a dairy allergy, but that is a whole 'nother post. I have found it is just easier to bring in snacks for her myself more often then not. If I don't bring snacks then they end up trying to serve them goldfish, or ritz crackers and she can't have either of those things so then I have to run next door to the store and grab her a different snack.


I stayed to help out some in her class cause there are tons of kids and we got all the juice boxes ready. I pulled up the "wings" so that the kids could grab those and not grab the box and squirt juice everywhere. They still did squirt some juice around. God bless janitors everywhere. They need it.


I took a fuzzy picture of her class on purpose. I do not post pictures of kids on my public blog at all, but I wanted you to get the overall impression of her class. Lots of kids, lots of fun. She is the one in the red dress on the right side of the picture.

The Boy's class was practicing for the musical they did for Christmas. Another fuzzy picture for you to enjoy. He was up there on the left side somewhere. I made this one too fuzzy for me to even tell where he was exactly.

For dinner we had tortilla soup. I made up those little yummy tortilla strips in the skillet too. Yum. I did take a picture of the soup, but the lighting was not working for me, so I will subject you to my fuzzy kid pictures but not to bad lighting pictures. I have my standards.


Yummy ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery. It is a tradition. We do not always go out for ice cream, more often then not we have sorbet here at home, but we always do Sundaes on Sundays. It is something that we picked up on from some of my dearest friends at our last duty station.

The Boy broke the norm and had mint ice cream. He ALWAYS has sorbet so this was something new for him. He ate half of it then he dumped out the ice cream and ate the cone. He just isn't an ice cream lover.

That was our day. I am sure that somethings were left out, like how I fell over once the kids were in bed, but you get the gist of it. I will have to do this again sometime in the future as well. It was fun to see our day from later looking back. It made me realize how much we actually do in a given day and most of our time was spent at home just messing around.

I hope you have an amazing weekend and time with your family as we prepare to celebrate this amazing season!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

advocate for compassion

Sponsor a child online through Compassion's Christian child sponsorship ministry. Search for a child by age, gender, country, birthday, special needs and more.

I had my Compassion International interview recently. I think I mentioned some of this back in my post about Compassion Bloggers. I am in the process of becoming a Compassion Advocate. This is a purely volunteer position and I will be a voice here in our area to try to get the word out about helping these children.

I had sent in all of my information to Compassion including the paperwork for my background check and was awaiting my training DVDs or something. I didn't think it would take that much for me to just tell people that they need to sponsor a child in need. I mean... really. Then I found that Compassion isn't like most places with volunteers. I received an email from a wonderful lady and then a phone call from her and she scheduled an interview for me to speak with her uninterrupted for at least 45 minutes. I gulped. That is a long time for an uninterrupted phone call in my house. I homeschool! I have kids that think they should and can have access to me at absolutely ANY time of day or night.

Thankfully it worked out fine because my sweet John had the day off work.

We talked on the phone for over an hour, she explained how the Compassion advocates work and how the training works and how we have meetings and get togethers and conferences and many other things. That made it sound really complicated and demanding but it really isn't. There is a great support network and there is awesome training and there are wonderful opportunities for ministry as well, but you set up how much you can do and you make those decisions for yourself and your family. I am hoping that our whole family can have opportunities to become involved in this ministry.

What I am impressed with is that they have all of this set up for volunteers! They will have people in place to help me with my training. Some of which is done online and some on a conference call. They do not want volunteers telling people wrong information because we are the ones on the ground here and in many ways we are the face of Compassion here where we are. That makes so much sense.

I am looking forward to my training. To learning more about this company and to being able to help more children find someone to help them.

My family has been blessed beyond measure already through Compassion. It is amazing how blessed you can be while blessing others isn't it?!

The kids and I wondered in the past what the world would be like if everyone in our country stepped out and sponsored just one child with Compassion. Just ONE! What would the world look like? How many lives would be literally saved from hunger?

I will keep you updated on this training of mine and what it entails. I decided to go ahead and post this information on my blog because maybe some of you would consider becoming an advocate as well. Maybe once you see what it is like through my eyes you will be encouraged.

In the meantime, there are waiting children. Even though my training isn't done, I can help you find a child to sponsor. Please let me know if you are ready to reach out to a child in need.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

until they found a little house covered in candy...

There is nothing like Neccos for the roofing of gingerbread houses. I wonder if even the witch in Hansel and Gretel used Necco wafers?

The Boy made this little wreath for the back of the house. I thought it turned out quite well done.

I don't know that I would have been able to resist the sight of the sun shining through gumdrops either. The witch would have had me too!

The Boy working fervently on gluing on as much candy as possible. Can there ever be enough glued on?

Somehow I doubt the witches table was as messy as mine, but she was getting ready to eat kids, not letting kids consume copious amounts of sugar.

The Girl's finished house.

The Boy's finished house.

We did use a basic Wilton house kit. I don't really like to admit that, it is sorta like using a mix to make cookies. The deal is, I have decided that I will use the box because then I will have time to get it done. If I had to make the dough and bake it and cut it just right I am not sure we would have made the houses at all and I am so glad that we did make the houses. I will also add that I knew that Wilton put a pathetic amount of candy in the box and I bought plenty of my own to finish them off. The box didn't contain Neccos for example and I was set on having Neccos.

I did help with the roofs but they did them... and I did give suggestions on a few things, but they created. I did teach them how to make the icicles hang on the side of the roof, but those weren't really all that exciting for the kids to make. That took too much patience for them.

Maybe someday I will take the time to make my very own gingerbread house and will make it beautiful and exactly how I want it. Sometimes it is hard for me to not say a word as they make their own house the way they want their own house to be. Sometimes it is hard, but I am always so grateful when I keep my mouth shut. They come up with amazing things on their own that way. For example, I love the way The Girl put the little candy balls all over the roof. She loved playing with them and dropping them all over the floor and I loved the way they ended up looking.

The Boy created that sweet wreath and lined the edges of his area with those gum drops and I love the way that turned out.

The Girl said that so far this was her favorite part of the Christmas Season. That made it worth my keeping my mouth shut and made it worth the huge mess that was my kitchen and made it worth the tons of sugar I let them inhale.

Monday, December 15, 2008

gingerbread jealousy

So, I am about to sit down with my kids and make gingerbread houses and I have a problem. I want to make my own. I only bought enough for the two of them. I really am having issues here! I want to do my very own sweet perfect gingerbread house!

I will post pictures later of the finished houses, and maybe someday I will take the time to make my own masterpiece. In the meantime, you can watch this video of what my masterpeice would look like. No... really... it would. I have Neccos!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

be merry



I hope that this season allows for much walking in winter with those you love.

These are some of mine that I love so very much and I love walking with them in winter and frankly during any other time.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

i wanna be a widow

My daughter wants to be a widow.

She came into my room one morning not long ago and announced her decision. I smiled slightly and asked, "Do you know what a widow is?"

"No."

"Well, let me know you. A widow is a woman who was married and her husband has died."

"Oh.... Yup, that is what I want to be. A widow."

I had to giggle. My daughter wants to get married and have her husband die?!

Fast forward to today when she was playing with her Mr. Potato Head toy and she made a pretty potato and announced, "This is a widow."

Now, I am not sure what she is thinking exactly with these widow things. I think part of it is from the Bible stories we read about the widows in the Bible. She knows the stories of Elijah and the Widow and she knows the story of the widow and her offering in the temple. I can only suppose that these are influencing her remarks. Perhaps they are drawn as pretty ladies in the book? I have no idea. Perhaps she remembers how God commands us to care for the widows and the orphans and she wants cared for?

In the meantime, while other little girls dream of having weddings with their pretty things, my daughter dreams of her husband dying and her being alone! YIKES!

Friday, December 5, 2008

freebie friday: christmas music

So, this is my second weekly Freebie Friday. I am impressed that I managed to do this two weeks in a row, so I do not make promises that I will find a freebie every Friday, BUT I will try.

This is coming from someone who routinely shows up late to everything, so please do not get incredibly miffed with me if I miss a Friday or two... or three.

BUT this weeks Freebie Friday is a pretty neat one for this season.

It is free, down-loadable, LEGAL Christmas music, so grab your MP3 players head on over to Feels Like Christmas and get DLing people!

Now start rocking around the Christmas tree rejoicing over your free fun this Friday!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

brought to you by the united states air force

John and I do not have TV channels to speak of. We sorta get in PBS and once in a while some great snow, but that is about it. We do watch movies and what not but we fulfill our TV show desires on hulu. Now, if you haven't heard of hulu then you should go check it out and see what you can watch for free. No cable bill here!

Tonight we watched the new episode of Chuck. We really enjoy Chuck... and we often will catch The Office and 30 Rock, or whatever else we decide to waste time on.

Hulu has minimal commercials during the show and they are always just one sponsor per show. Tonight, that sponsor was the United States Air Force and they had about four spots or so interspersed through the show.

It was just very amusing to us because as the show started it said, "This show is brought to you by the United States Air Force." Since I still get a kick out of the fact that John is in the military (don't ask it is a complicated and weird part of me) I looked at him and raised my eyebrows. He laughed and replied, "We should have that announcement on everything here."

Can't you just see it? I open my microwave, bought with money from my husband's paycheck, and the microwave says, "Brought to you from the United States Air Force."

The thought of this made me laugh every time an AF commercial came on. I can see everything in my house covered with tags labeling how we got everything we own.

The military is a different world and they do tend to own you. Once I was very much awake and it was quite late and John was trying to go to sleep, but I really needed to get all my words out for the day and I kept talking to him (I am sure those of you that know me are shocked with this information). And finally he whined at me, "This is abuse of government property." I laughed so hard that I about fell off the bed.

The problem is that this is so true. We are a home where all the income comes from the military. He is their property and all we have should say as you use it, "Brought to you by the United States Air Force."

Every now and then I have to remind the kids that Daddy has to work. Frankly, they would rather he be home everyday to play with them. I have to tell them that Daddy works so we can have a nice warm home and food for them to eat and all those things. Every now and then I need to remind myself and my family that the Air Force doesn't own all we have. Sure, they own this house and they sorta own my husband in some ways, but they do not really own any of it.

All of this belongs to God. Every stick. Every penny. Every blanket. Every bear. Every hand woven mohair blanket. It is all His. We are just borrowing it all.

So, what would be even more interesting is if everything in this house had labels on it saying, "Brought to you by God."

If my little one walked in for breakfast with a night gown, embroidered on the front, "Brought to you by God." Would I reconsider ever getting snippy with her? Would I hug her tighter if I were reminded of this constantly? Would children anywhere be abused? Neglected? Forgotten?

What a different place we would live in if things had that label everywhere we went.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

get the lead outta yer...

Toys. Yup, Lead in toys, we have all heard about it. Many of us have sent toys in to be replaced... I know I did. I remember being SO mad that toys that my son had played with everyday for three years, toys that were quite pricey had lead on them.


Actually his favorite engine had lead on it. The paint was flaking off of this engine because it was so well loved but what do you do? Whinging about it fixes nothing so you move on and pray a little harder for your kids.

Tonight this article caught my eye on CNN
.

After reading this article and cringing, I went to the site they referenced in the article and found out some very interesting things.

So, on this site, you can look up specific toys, you can look up the worst toys and you can look up the best toys and you can spend your time with your chin hitting the key board in shock.

Now... is this accurate? Who knows. I certainly don't and there isn't tons I can do about it. I suppose I can run out and buy a lead testing kit to test my toys myself for lead, but what about Mercury? Chlorine? Arsenic?

This toy has high levels of Mercury in it according to Healthy Toys.org and though I do not have this toy I have considered purchasing this toy before.

On the site it does contain this:

IMPORTANT NOTE

The information on HealthyToys.org is meant to provide general information to the public on whether or not certain chemicals were detected in tested children's products. HealthyToys.org did NOT conduct studies to determine if the chemicals of concern will migrate or come out of the product, causing a direct exposure. Therefore, HealthyToys.org can not determine whether the presence of these chemicals in a product results in human exposure, nor can HealthyToys.org estimate the health risk posed by any product. Studies intended to examine whether or not chemicals of concern do come out of products under various conditions can be done. Some manufacturers report having done studies of this kind. Please contact manufacturers directly if you are interested in that information.

The test results shown on the site apply only to the specific toys tested. Earlier or later versions of the same toys may contain different chemical formulations.

So, that makes me feel barely, slightly better.

This holiday, I plan on giving my kids twigs grown in my organic garden and some sweet mohair blankets spun and woven myself from the goats I personally sheared out on the farm. No really... they will love these gifts I am sure.

This summer past we built a sandbox for the kids in the backyard and I built it out of the most basic pine boards I could find. The guy at the lumber yard tried telling me that I needed to use pressure treated lumber and I told him he was crazy because of the levels of arsenic in it. He told me that my sandbox would only last a couple of years. I then informed him that we didn't really plan to be in this area that long anyways because of this whole military thing and that if I really needed to, I would willingly rebuild my sandbox in a few years.

In a later conversation with my dad he asked me what I used to build the sandbox and seemed quite pleased when I told him. He then apologized for using Pressure Treated lumber on our outside gym and on the sandbox we had growing up. I was more then willing to forgive him; he made the best choices he could for his kids at the time he made them.

As parents we can only make decisions on the best information we have at the time. We should not be paranoid and panicky, but we should be cautious and wary.

I think that is the best advice I can give on this.

 

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