Monday, December 30, 2013

nut house

Just had to laugh when I opened up this gift from my in-laws this weekend....

It's a garden flag. The significance behind it is that my college mascot is a squirrel. Since then, I have been partial to the little guys. Various stuffed animals and knick knacks adorned my dorm room. I don't have many squirrel items still remaining about my house today, however I am still a squirrel at heart.

I'm not sure what my mother in law is trying to say with this flag... except she has a pretty accurate view of my household, I guess. Sometimes we get a little nutty around here! ;)

Friday, December 27, 2013

messy treats

I just realized that I never blogged about our last Advent family night. I alluded to the fact that it was "yummy" but never showed you what we did...

Well, Pinterest inspired this messy treat: Christmas trees, made using upside down ice cream cones! I actually had a tub of white icing already in the pantry, along with ice cream toppings and oreos. Put them all together, mix in a little imagination and we created a forest of snowy trees :)

Thursday, December 26, 2013


My primary love language is gifts. If you aren't familiar with the Five Love Languages, go ahead and click through here to learn more about this book/concept. There is even a free questionnaire to discover your (or your child's) love language. Typically the language that is your primary language of love, is also the language that comes easiest/most enjoyable when "speaking love" as well. Meaning that if you receive love through encouraging words (words of affirmation) than you are probably a pretty encouraging person as well.

Regarding "gifts" and what it looks like as my speaking-love language... I enjoy shopping with another person in mind. What's really fun is listening and trying to come up with a "perfect" gift to give another. I take pleasure in creating just a little "something" for another to make them smile or know they are being thought of. There have been times in my life that I have done better at "loving" in this way than others, simply I guess, honestly because of just pure laziness. While it's something that I enjoy, as with so many other things, it usually requires time and money, and I let those excuses get in the way. As a child, I remember spending hours wrapping my Christmas gifts, adding ribbons that spelled out a person's initials or curling up curling ribbon so that it laid just so. I think those are all manifestations of that gifts language. Lol, either that or I was just trying to get out of doing chores or something ;)

Anyways, my grandmother, age 91, made a comment earlier this year about how a friend of hers at their assisted living center has a napkin holder... as in kind of like those clips that a dentist uses to hold that little cloth up to protect your shirt... she was asking if I wondered if a local department store might carry something like that. (I know, precious right?!) She had seen one in a catalog but was too expensive to justify ordering. "Lightbulb!" I just knew THAT was what we would make her for Christmas! At the time we were talking about it, it was all I could do to keep myself from excitedly sharing the idea with my Grams. :)

Fast forward to December and L and I went shopping for supplies. Thanks to a fellow jewelry/bead shopper at Joann's, who gave us some great advice, we left the store set with the necessary supplies to do the job! L takes joy in gift-giving as well, especially when those gifts are created by hand. She has always had a generous spirit. I remember the one day she was given $1 from a church member. Nearly five minutes later, she had turned around and passed that dollar along to a friend "just because." She is always pretty open about sharing toys with her brother and/or teaching a younger child how to create something. 

Here is a photo of my L, who completed this project from start to finish! She even YouTube'd how to use crimp beads to finish off the ends nicely. I think my daughter knows how to speak the language of "gift" love as well. This is just one of the many Christmas projects she has put her art skills to use to create.

And here's the actual napkin holder completed. My grandmother loved it!

I hope that each of you had a wonderful Christmas with your families as well.
Enjoy the rest of the week!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, from our family to yours!
May you draw closer to God and to one another as you celebrate the best gift ever given.

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14

"And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son."
1 John 5:11

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Christmas of 2010 (my Z was just over a year old).

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Flour on the floor. Hershey kiss wrappers across the kitchen table. The hum of the mixer. The smell of fresh cookies being taken out of the oven. Lips smacking as little tongues lick the leftover batter from the beater.

Mmm... is your mouth watering yet?
Today (and last Saturday) is Christmas cookie baking day!

In my newlywed days, I received a cookie book titled, "1001 Cookie Recipes." (Thanks, mom & dad!). Each year I try to make a new cookie from that book. I've been slack a few years now, so this year I blew off the dust and flipped through the pages again. So, in my cookie collection, I have three new ones from that book as well as two oldies but goodies that always get made (i.e. the peanut butter blossom cookies!). 

I would say the toughest thing about all this cookie baking is having the self control (and family control?) to keep them stored away until Christmas day (crazy, I know)! This year we will be sharing Christmas day with family, so there's extra incentive to keep them tucked away so that we will have yummy treats to share with family throughout the week.

What is your family's favorite Christmas cookie recipe? If you have a blog post or recipe link, please share it in the comments.

Monday, December 23, 2013

warm necks for the Gospel

Over. Around. Up/Down. On. Off. Such are the ways of looming knitting. My L and I have been using our looms for the past three months for the Knit Together in Love Project.
Ashley, the head of this project, was recently interviewed for her local Virginia newspaper here. So neat to see how God has used the internet to spread the news of the project and therefore exploded her collection efforts this year (the 10th year she has been doing this). 
We are officially done and these babies will be in the mail, on the way, later today! 

We are so jazzed, as I originally had signed us up to complete six scarves, thinking surely we could each do one a month for the three months we had to complete them. However, L and I completed 14 scarves for the project! The month of October we had 4 scarves done, but as we got familiar with the loom, we were able to crank out the last 10 in November and early December. 

The time was special, as L and I spent time together picking out yarn, learning the loom, and knitting but also because were able to focus our efforts with a service mindset, thinking about both the missionaries giving these out and the people that would receive them.

We'll take some time off, but I see no reason that we won't continue to knit and tuck them away for next year's collection or maybe even to donate to our local homeless shelter or community outreach ministries.

Father God, I lift up the missionaries that will receive these scarves to distribute. I pray for their continued dedication to spreading the Gospel in their countries. I pray Your hand of protection upon their lives and their families and Your energizing passion within them to see Your truth spread to peoples that don't know You. I pray for the recipients of these scarves, whether they are young orphan children, homeless adults, or just a neighbor without Hope. God, I pray that the Gospel will reach their ears and hearts as these scarves wrap around their necks and warm their bodies. Amen.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

ready, set, aim!

I knew L was awake, and although her door was shut, I could see the creativity smoke coming from under the door. Little did I know just what she was working on though...

Using sticks, cardboard, drinking straws, a rubber band, and a bunch of duct tape she has now supplied Z with his very own set of bow and arrows, complete with a quiver to hold them. He has been target practicing all morning and is quite proficient in his aim.

Today is the last day of school for the 2013 year!
We've gotten through week 20 in our American History Sonlight studies. L is finishing up a(nother) book on George Washington today, along with her regular math, science, spelling, etc studies.
Preschool will be covering David as a shepherd boy. Hm. Guess this little target practice will fit right in, although maybe I should see if L could make a slingshot... 

Monday, December 16, 2013

prior planning...

...prevents poor performance.

We should have lived out that little mantra prior to this morning!

My husband took the day off today to use a free pass to Old Salem, a (local) Moravian settlement dating back to 1766. While my daughter has been able to tour the buildings and exhibits a number of times during their homeschool days, our entire family has not been able to actually wander through them together. We thought it would be neat to see it at Christmastime as well.

We clicked through to their website, about 9ish this morning, to see what time they opened. Hmm... scrolling down... and... they are closed on Mondays!

What we were able to do this weekend, though, was to visit another local Moravian settlement (actually the first one in North Carolina, circa 1753) called Historic Bethabara Park. My husband and I had a date night and went to listen to the Piedmont Chamber Singers perform their Candlelight Concert in the old Gemeinhaus (church building). It was SO neat to think that people have been using that building for 225 years, to sing glory to God! [May I also note that we take our comfy church pews and chairs for granted these days. Even after a 40 minute concert, my back was a bit tight from sitting on the backless wood bench.] The harmony of this singing group was beautiful. I enjoyed the simple Christmas celebration.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Anthem

There are so many new Christmas songs out these days, and for the most part, I really enjoy the traditional ones the best, however this one caught my attention when it came up on my iTunes mix today. I'm not sure when I got it; it might have been an Amazon freebie from a past year (they have free Christmas downloads each week in December).

It's a foot-stomping, hand-clapping kind of song for some down-home Christ-is-born celebratin'!
Here it is:


Landon Smith & The Real Matt Jones

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Is the jubilant refrain
God is sending us a Savior
Peace on earth, good will to men.

Hear what glorious song of angels
Is now ringing through the air
Never valley, never mountain
Heard an anthem half so fair.

Messengers of God's free mercy
Are now seen by human eye
Shepherds hear the wondrous message
"Glory be to God on high."

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Is the jubilant refrain
God is sending us a Savior
Peace on earth, good will to men.

Let us also sing the praises
Of our God so full of love
Who on Christmas sent a Savior
Sent a Savior from above.

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Is the jubilant refrain
God is sending us a Savior
Peace on earth, good will to men.

Friday, December 13, 2013

family night

Despite the prolonged silence on this blog, I will just jump right back in with this post. I got a little carried away with my unplanned blogging break. We had a school break the week of Thanksgiving, but have been back at schooling for the past two weeks despite my silence here. :)
However... just two more days next week and we will be finished for the year! In the blink of an eye, this first semester of our second year homeschooling is over. What is that saying? "The days are long, but the years are short." How true it is!

Tonight our family will be having another "Advent Family Night." These couple of weeks before Christmas, we've decided to have an intentional family night within each week, celebrating with a Christmas movie or book and then a craft or game together... just a preplanned little something out of the ordinary, to be done together.  I feel like we do so many things during our school time, but rarely does my husband get to get in on a little creative, messy fun ;)

Last week for the crafty part of our first family Advent night, we each colored parts of a nativity scene and then each cut out our own pieces. L and I assembled it all together on a large piece of cardboard.

It has since found a home on my mantle this Christmas. Quite a switch from our white porcelain nativity set, but I love it! The thing that makes it so special is that it has touches of all of our family in it. My husband, my children and myself... it's the most unique nativity display I have had up. I mean check out the red and blue cow!
Tonight we'll do something a little yummier... details to come! ;)

If you have blogged about a Christmas tradition or special family night, be sure to post your link in the comments. I would be interested in reading what your family does on the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Friday, November 22, 2013


You are a recent widow that is suddenly faced with an opportunity to stay in the land in which you were raised (and married) or follow your mother-in-law into a new land, with different customs and a different religion. What do you do?

If you are Ruth, you courageously say, "Where you go, I will go and where you stay, I will stay."

Z and I studied Ruth this week.
We talked about who a "mother-in-law" is, family in general, and what family members can do to show they love one another. Z quickly ran over to his sister, who was working independently on her spelling at the time, and immediately gave her a hug to "show her that he loved her." We talked about obeying mommy and daddy in love, and also different acts of service we could do for other people outside of our family.

I snagged some dried wheat stalks (random, but I actually have some on display on a bathroom shelf) as we talked about Ruth going and picking wheat for her and Naomi. They were able to eat with this key ingredient being supplied by a man named Boaz. Then we pulled the wheat apart and dropped pieces into a container full of water. Why water? I don't know! Everything's just better with water, lol. But, it did lead us to talk about whether they float or sink and why they float, etc. A little impromptu science/math lesson in there?

Studying Ruth, Naomi, and then later Boaz made me think of a quote that I read from Corrie Ten Boom:
Every experience God gives us,
every person He puts in our lives,
is the perfect preparation
for the future that only He can see.
God wrote Boaz into the ladies' story. In my life, I can look back to see how God writes different people in and out of my story, and see the part they play in different situations. He is truly a personal, caring God.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

thankful chain

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing;
in everything give thanks;
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
There are so many great ideas out there regarding ways to intentionally count your blessings for Thanksgiving. Ann Voskamp offers a free printable for her "giving tree." Charlene Haugsven offers an idea on a simple preschool thumbprint tree idea. I deviated a bit from the tree idea, but went with a thankful chain of sorts.

I decided to incorporate it into my mantle. I switch around my mantle at least once a month. I rarely buy new things, just simply use things I have on hand in different ways and displays. I joke that it's the safest thing to redecorate and move around. If I had my way, I'd rearrange the rooms in my house at least a handful of times per year but my husband is not so quick to agree (thank you for being so patient with my spontaneous reorganizing-ness [-mess!], babe!). 

So, every couple of days or so, the whole family is writing down something/someone they are thankful for. My daughter and son will draw pictures of things, as an alternative to writing. We've even had a guest come over and add a tag to our chain.

I'd like to cultivate this spirit of thanksgiving in my home year-round. It's when we are focused not on self, but looking outside of ourselves, that we can be content with our lives. Ann Voskamp says, " change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change."

How do you incorporate thankfulness as a part of your family's daily life?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


How far we fall and how desperate we are for that saving grace God lavishes upon us. 
I don't have to look far (i.e. in the mirror) to see the ways humans stumble through life, making wrong choices and getting back up and pushing forward, sometimes even oblivious to it all. Samson shows us another such example. 
Getting caught in the snare of sin, this oh-so-human Bible character, still winds up being used by God to accomplish one of His end purposes: destruction of more of the Philistine population. Samson's story concludes with a simple statement: "Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived" (Judges 16:30). 
Had Samson not gotten caught up with Delilah and her lies, I wonder if this statement might have read differently. God gives us free will, so I don't want to get caught up in that sticky argument, but I also know that God accomplished His plan while using Samson, bad decisions and all. However, I wonder if Samson missed out on some of the joy he could have had, if he had walked with God during that time in his life. No doubt, the Philistines would have been conquered, but I wonder if it would have turned out differently. Samson missed out on that close fellowship with God while he was ahem, messing around with Delilah. 
How often do I get caught up in my own agenda, when I am missing the sweet walk I could be having with Him?   

Now for the 4yo version of looking into Samson's story... 

For preschool we learned about the strength God gave Samson and even tested our own strength as we put a variety of objects in order from lightest to heaviest. 

Then we, with big sister's help, created our own Philistine temple with pillars. We learned that despite Samson making bad choices and turning away from God, God was merciful and gave Samson one last act of strength. Z put his hands inside the pillars and knocked over the temple, just like Samson did. God has a plan for each of our lives, and His plan included using Samson to destroy these Philistines. How exciting it is to think about the things God will help us accomplish, especially if we believe in Him and trust Him.

We finished up the day with a letter "I i" activity (courtesy of COAH).

What do you think about Samson? An story of God's amazing mercy or simple another story?

Monday, November 18, 2013


There's a new student at Covington Academy today! 
Meet Skylar, the sky-blue betta. 

So far Skylar has become accomplished at swimming, making a fish face, and showing off his flowy blue tail.  :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


You are thirsty and want a drink. You see a fresh spring ahead of you. You kneel down and reach towards the water. Do you use your hands to cup the water or simply put your face into the water and lap up some of the cool, refreshing liquid?

Your answer will be an already-calculated move on God's part, to weed out the soldiers that won't play a part in this portion of Gideon's story.

God was about to make Himself so real to Gideon (and the dwindling army of Israelites). Gideon and his soldiers were unbelievably outnumbered by the time God whittled down the number of soldiers through several situations. This victory would not be because of man's strength, but because of God's control. Good lesson to remember, that in spite of our limitations or the seemingly lack of hope within a situation, nothing is impossible for God.

For our preschool lesson, we drank water from our hands, pretending we were down by the spring. It wasn't as easy at it sounded, for my newly-4 year old!

We then followed the suggested Bible Activity with Little Hands to Heaven in which I gave Z instructions on what to draw where (good practice with colors, left/right, and just general following directions). He then circled the answer to whether God used the men that drank with their faces in the water (the face) or drank from their hands (his traced hand) (good practice on story comprehension!).

This Unit's letter is "I i" so we got out our new magnetic letters to find the upper and lowercase i's and play with all the other letters as well! (Educational birthday presents are the best! Thank you to a super cool aunt!)

It was a fun morning. Z sped through and was eager to jump into preschool this morning. After a long weekend away, it was an answer to prayer to settle back into our routine.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

falling, falling, falling

One of the best things of fall is the brilliant display of color that bursts from the trees. One of the worst things about fall is when those leaves fall to the ground and need raking! However, this year, my husband made a deal with my daughter to pay her for raking. I have never seen her so eager to help with this outside chore! On three occasions, she has headed outside to go rake of her own initiative. She has also talked her brother into helping her each time, but he usually gets distracted and wanders off, in search of something a little less like work. Whether its the chore of raking or just playtime, it's been such a great fall to be outside. We enjoy taking our school outside too. Reading history from our hammocks or just some "run around" PE time is a welcome break from the kitchen table!  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day


Working on something a little different today, in honor of Veteran's Day. I searched through Pinterest and found a few great ideas. No freebie printables were available, so I just went ahead and created my no-frills version of one that I found. I thought I'd go ahead and share, but with full disclosure that the original idea was not created by me. If you scroll to the last page of the document, you will see where I have sited my sources and even an additional source idea($) to add to it. Now this was typed up quickly and I don't claim any graphical designs skills, like my online friend Dawn with Our Little Monkies preschool printables. ;) You might have to fudge a little on the cutting/lines to get the sections to line up, but mine came out like this:

It's pretty simple. You can make it as involved or uncomplicated as you'd like... beef it up by requiring your student to research the answers and write full paragraphs or just use it to practice penmanship by providing the answers yourself. I appreciate the sacrifices our military families make and want my kids to stop and think about what is required to have the freedoms we enjoy.

We will actually be spending Veteran's Day with my father in law who is a veteran himself. I hope to also have my daughter interview her grandfather with a few pre-thought out questions as well!

What do you do on Veteran's Day? Do you hold school or take the day off? Do you celebrate it?

Friday, November 8, 2013

yummy Jericho walls

Sticky peanut buttery fingers, crumbly ritz crackers, and eye-hand coordination practice. We finally finished up Unit 10 and our study of the city of Jericho!

We discussed how God used Rahab to assist the group of Israelite spies - these men specifically coming in to check out the city. It's "funny" to me that these men came into the city, God prompted Rahab to hide them and send them back out safely, and then God had the walls fall down without any force of the troops whatsoever anyways. Maybe these men could better appreciate the power of God (& experienced greater gratitude for the easy entrance) after seeing just how hard the city would be to penetrate?

Here are our "Jerichos," the first being L's (she wanted a stronger, more solid built wall) and the second being Z's (with a little help from me sticking them upright together, for a taller wall). 

Super delicious and easy clean up after this one! ;)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sonlight and books, books, books!

It's no secret that the Sonlight curriculum uses a lot of books. After all, I bought a bookshelf just to house this year's books that we are reading! Since I saved a good amount of money (I spent time vs money, lol) purchasing all of our Core D books separately, piecing my own used set together along with an instructor's guide that I bought used, I have been on the lookout for books for future Core books (both lower grades for Z and upper grades for L). We have a few used bookstores in town, but I'm never very good at picking out the titles I need in the shelves and shelves of books (even though they are categorized by author's last name initial). Last month, the local senior center had a book sale with considerably less books (although still a bunch!). I did much better flipping through the stacks of children's books, being able to see covers and scored these all for 25 to 50 cents apiece! 

Sonlight was one of the changes we made to our curriculum this year (for our history). It has been a tremendous amount of fun while learning. My daughter (and I) both enjoy reading, so it's been a natural thing to see history to come alive at the hand of an author's historical fiction writing.  My daughter herself says she now enjoys history, using Sonlight, as "It's not boring!" I appreciate that they do balance out the fiction with nonfiction sources. L has a few "textbooky" books to read and work through synonymously with the fiction ones. While it is neat to see a textbook character come to life, we do have to be careful about memorizing fiction over fact. To balance that out, we will discuss what the character is doing and how that agrees/disagrees with the known historical accounts from that time period. My daughter's only complaint has been how many books there are for one particular person or people group. She quickly tired of the number of books she had to read about Benjamin Franklin, however as the teacher, I felt like Sonlight did a good job selecting books that talked about different aspects of his life. She just didn't find him particularly interesting :)

Something that Sonlight builds into their curriculum schedule is read aloud books. I have never been faithful to read through a chapter book with my children. We have always read/are always reading shorter books aloud together, ones that are finished in one sitting. Sonlight has opened our world to reading chapter books aloud by writing them into the curriculum. That is one thing that I have really enjoyed, as well as my children!

Do you read chapter books aloud to your children? What are some of your family's favorites?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

watch your step!

In the middle of typing a newsletter for a MOMS group that I am a part of yesterday afternoon, I hear a "Go!" shouted in the living room behind me. The kids were having their after lunch playtime together before we started up afternoon school (and quiet hour for my son). I turn around to this site behind me:

L had strung up an obstacle course for Z and he was ducking under the "lasers" and avoiding the "bombs" strewn all over the floor.

Success for Agent Z!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

sometimes it's the little things

It's the little things that can make me happy... you know, like a new-to-me sink faucet :)  My parents passed down a barely used (yes, women can still change their mind even when they are grandma-aged... love you, mom!) faucet that has been in my attic awaiting installation for a few months. We thought it'd be an easy swap, but alas our under-sink pipes were too short and/or the faucet hose too short, blah blah. All I heard was, "We can't do this by ourselves," and tried to remain calm and patient :) My husband can verify whether I succeeded or not, but I am happy to report that with some time, effort and love put in by my father in law (thank you, sir!) I now have a shiny new upgraded faucet. I mean it even has the pull-out head and two options for water flow! And an under sink mounted soap dispenser? Swoon. LOL. I write this blog post sort of in jest, but I really am delighted with this small change.

Maybe now I won't complain about having to do dishes.

Well. Maybe.

Have you made any small but mighty changes recently in your house?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

hammock camping

Does your family go camping? 

We have gone camping three of the past five weekends! We have just been taken in with the cooler temps, the falls colors, and just good ole outside family time! We live about an hour away from a number of campground options. Go another hour to two hours out and we can be smack in the middle of some super big mountains.

Our family hammock-camps. Basically, that means we spend our nights in a hammock instead of a tent or camper. When I tell people that, I hear one of two questions. 1 - What if you fall out? and 2 - What if bugs crawl on you? Well, to address those... you just don't fall out! ... and there is a net over our hammock to keep out said creepy crawly things! All four of us have a hammock set up (a tarp and hammock with a bugnet). Even my three year old has no trouble in a hammock by himself. He really enjoys it.

You can see an example of how we've all hung at one of our trips this year (my son and I are the two in the middle, close enough to peek out at each other).

This fall, thanks to my parents taking our children for a four-day weekend, my husband and I were able to go hammock-camping by ourselves. It was gorgeous! Brisk and chilly as all get out at night, but beautiful. The sun shining through the colors on the trees just testified of our Creator's artistic touch in His creation. Here's a quick little collage of some photos I took:

On our way back through WV to get the children and continue home, we stopped in Lewisburg, WV (voted "America's Coolest Small Town").  Stopped in a local bicycle shop (where my husband admired a few bikes), as well as a few little boutiques and other shops including this tiny hole-in-the-wall (like, almost literally) used bookstore. We opened the door to what you see in my photo on the left. It was sooo neat. They were actually sort of categorized, with shelves labeled. The categories were random and randomly placed, but I was impressed how many books were crammed into such a small shop. We helped out the local economy by purchasing a few books as well as stopping for two danishes at the bakery next door. ;)
It was such a treat to have a weekend away. I came back last week refreshed and the kiddos surprisingly settled back into the school routine seamlessly after their "fall break" long weekend off too. 

What kinds of things do you do as a family get-away? As a couples get-away? Do you make time to take a break from schooling, either as a family or couple?

p.s. If you have any questions on hammock camping, I'd be happy to try and answer :)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

knitting update

Anyone interested in how our scarf service project is progressing?

Here are a few shots of completed... 

(This is L's second scarf.)

(Hers and mine: The light doesn't really do the color justice. These are softer colors, very pretty in person.)

and what's in the midst of being created...

So, we are well on our way. 4 of the 6 we promised to make are done. We are on track to surpassing that goal and sending in more than that, by January (which is super exciting to me as L has really taken off with this service project).

I had started by using the round loom for my work, but found that the straight loom really does produce a more typical scarf design. I think a traditional knitting with needles would give a tighter stitch (maybe? Anyone out there knit?), but the loom is giving us a good introduction to the idea. I do have knitting needles. Maybe once we make our six, we could look up some videos on knitting with them. L has shown an interest and once upon a time I did know a few basic stitches. Homeschool art and service and some fun mother/daughter time. We've really enjoyed it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

taking stock

Do you know what's in your pantry?

No. I mean like honestly.

Have you ever taken an inventory of what foods you have on hand already and/or taken a month just to eat from what you already have stock-piled?

I was reading over at Living Well, Spending Less and came across her 31 days series on living well and spending zero. The idea on this series is to spend no money during the month, except on monthly (utility/mortgage) bills. Seems impossible, doesn't it? She has 31 neat ideas, but days 2 and 3 caught my attention. They deal with taking an inventory of your pantry and freezer and then coming up with meals using those foods (only). Check them out, as she has some nice little printables to help categorize, if you have a lot to sort through. I don't really have many extras in the pantry and am doubtful I could live an entire month on foods I already have, but I do have great starts to meals that there is no excuse not to use. Also, I did found out that I have about a dozen little marinate and seasoning packets! Those can definitely be easily put to use.

I got Z involved in this project. He had a blast emptying the pantry shelves and putting all the food out on the table for me to go through. He really steps up to tasks that require assisting me with something. I want to continue to cultivate that willing heart and thanked him for his selfless help (and his strong muscles, as he lifted some heavy bags and cans from up high).

By the end of the day, I have a clean, reorganized pantry and am ready to sit down and meal plan from things I have on hand. I will have to involve L in this part of the process.

It's so great when school and life merge. Home skills are never to be underestimated in importance. :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

by sight

After being so quiet around here, I thought I'd better hop back on and review a little of our preschool work over the past few days. 

Unit 9 finished up discussing the spies being sent into Canaan. Oh what wonderfully huge grapes and beautiful land... but, wait were those giants we spied? Maybe we shouldn't go into this land even though God promised it to us... They sure do look like mean, tough opponents...           
(photo: my son practiced his letter "g," which I thought turned out really well actually, and then he added a smiley face, which then caused him to want to make it a "smiley balloon." Love to see where their little creative minds take them.)

Now, I just have to stop and give God glory for all the connections He is so gracious to make. This preschool lesson came just before my M.O.M.S. group taught on David and Goliath. Where's the tie-in between David/Goliath and the spies sent into Canaan, you ask? Well. Just as the Israelites were nervous (practically paralyzed) about entering the promised land and made judgement calls based on what they saw with their (the spies') eyes, the Israelite army facing Goliath and the Philistines were making those "by-sight" assumptions as well. 

The problem comes when we size up a situation (seemingly hopeless or otherwise) by sight alone. Do we become so overwhelmed by where our "what ifs" take us that we forget what we know about God? In the case of the Isrealites at the brink of the promised land, they had God's promise to be delivered from slavery into a land just for them. I am guilty of their sin of disbelief. They didn't expect to meet opposition. I can just hear them, "What? We have to fight other people to obtain this land? I thought God was going to give us land!" When trouble crops up, it's like it negates God's promise. But that's not true. There are so many amazing promises in the Bible. As His daughter, He is with me wherever I go (Joshua 1:9). He promises to keep me in perfect peace if my mind is stayed on Him (Isaiah 26:3-4). These are just two of my favorites. :) So why do I get caught up in what I perceive of a situation instead of what I know of God?

Deep, right? 
Ok, back to school work... we "spied" around the house (not hard to convince a three year old to do that!) and carried in the oh-so-heavy bunch of grapes strung across our shoulders (aka a purple scarf of mine hung over the rod of a stick horse). 
Then we talked about how our actions have consequences. Just like the Isrealites' disbelief and disobedience caused them 40 more years of wandering and losing out on entering the land, we can make good or bad choices both of which have consequences. Acting out in anger and hitting his sister, has "not fun" consequences (spanking, time away from playing etc). Choosing to set the table for dinner without being asked, has some "fun" consequences (feeling good about honoring our family, eating on time etc). 

The next lesson covered Joshua leading the next generation of people finally into the land. Z cut out and glued, counting all 10 people for our number sheet. 

I will leave this one hung up for a little while, then go ahead and staple it, the nine previous pages, together to make a little counting book. It will also be neat to review our Bible stories with the objects on the number page too. I look forward to seeing what he remembers of each unit based on the number pages. I am sure he will surprise me. I am constantly amazed by what 3.5 year olds can retain!

Friday, October 25, 2013

praying for husband

"Prayer isn’t the least we can do, it’s the most." -Randy Alcorn

Why do we sometimes have the tendency to resort to prayer as the last thing we do? As women, we are relational... we like to process things aloud, maybe with our husbands or a friend or in the blogosphere. What if I challenged that way of thinking and said we need to turn upward more than we turn outward?

As a married woman, one subject that I need to turn upward about is my husband. God has mercifully been reminding me of this recently, as I have "stumbled" across several posts/resources about this very topic... 

Prayers for the Journey: Ephesians edition
"A prayer and journaling journey for wives to take on behalf of their husbands."
by (in real life friend) Kimberly Campbell, from KD316

31 Days of Praying for your Husband 
"Satan desires to destroy your husband, especially his character and his leadership in your relationship. Trust God through prayer as you daily surrender your husband and marriage to the Lord’s wise, loving care."
by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, from Revive Our Hearts Ministry

And lastly, one I just recently found, put together in cute little carry cards. ;)

Prayer Cards for our Husbands
"Now before we even look at these cards, let's remember that we aren't trying to change who our husbands are we're sending them a gift of prayer. The purpose is that they are strengthened in every area of their lives so that they might be joyful, strong, effective and productive."
by Darlene, from The Time-Warp Wife

Now. There you go. No excuses (for me or for you). Part my prep for our school day includes personal time in the Bible and prayer time. I'm going to use one of these resources to daily commit my husband and my marriage to prayer consistently.

Monday, October 14, 2013

"leggo" of my lego

Just had a friend post on Facebook about legos last week... "All three kids happily building their own creations while I get caught up on some much needed cleaning."  ...which prompted me to clean off Z's train table, flip the board over, and dump out his box of legos on top today. "Get to work creating!," I told the kids this afternoon. Two and a half hours later I find them still at the table. Z had added in a few cars, but still they were playing together with the same toy for two hours. Ahh. All this after a full weekend away camping together. Sometimes at the conclusion of weekends like that they need their own "alone room time" but today they have done well getting back into the routine of school and playtime together this afternoon. 

L has gotten into the Lego Friends line, but today she just sat and made a horse (as well as a house and some other assorted things) with the traditional box of legos.  

One day I'd like to convert Z's train table into a lego table. Or, really, I'd just like to adhere a bunch of these base plates over the back of train board so it can be either. Not sure at what point little boys outgrow trains and turn to the lego craze? Z is into legos, but he'd still pick cars/trucks over either trains or legos!

Are your kids into legos? What age are they?