Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December...

At the beginning of this month a friend blogged that she was going to take a blog vacation... subconsciously, I joined her.  I haven't had many profound thoughts this month, but we have kept busy... I'll let the pictures speak for themselves... 
 We crafted like normal.... we made cinnamon ornaments and play dough snowman just to name a few.
 A former student, Jordan, stayed with us a few days.  She was so much fun to have around... the kids got her to play all sorts of games with them... she was a sport.  Here they are playing "guess whose footprint" in play dough.
 We did our annual Christmas cookie making/decorating/eating. 
 This year we delivered plates of goodies to our neighbors... the kids loved that!
 We went sledding... so much fun!  We've gotten a lot of snow... and are loving it!
 Ethan planned and prepared a tea party... he cut out animal shaped cheeses and heart shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  He was so careful and cute.  Eden on the other hand was the bull in the china cabinet... so my beautiful tea pot is now in a million pieces.... *sigh*
 My birthday was magical this year.  Micah spoiled me rotten with a night away, dinner/movie (The Hobbit), and a day at the SPA... what an experience!!!  The beautiful flowers were sent to me by my dear friend, Gena... thanks, Gena!
This Christmas was a simple family event.  It started out with a surprise... FROZEN PIPES!  So we spent the day warm, but without water.  Thankfully the space heater we put under the trailer finally did it's magic and the water came back on sometime in the morning... Micah got up at 4 to turn off all the facets... Praise the LORD there were no burst pipes!  After 4 hours this afternoon the pipes are all re-insulated with new heating tape... and we found the culprit... a blown fuse--- so the heating tape didn't work!  The kids loved their presents and so we spend the rest of the day playing games and snacking on Christmasy things!  Such a beautiful season!  

I'll wish you a late Merry Christmas and leave with you a surprise... that might be the main reason for my lack of blogging... we received news that a little one will be joining us around August 9th... trying to wrap my mind around this and prepare for this incredible miracle and surprise... too bad I gave all my baby stuff away this past year!!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Gift of Play...

Last year for Christmas my sister in law gave the kids a gift certificate to the Children's Museum in Bozeman. We love playing there on free Friday nights... it is a magical place! SO this week I took the gift certificate and applied it towards a year membership so we can go any time, any day!
 They have science lessons on Tuesday mornings... it is now on our calendar!  I'm so thrilled about this opportunity because our trailer gets soooooo small during the cold winter months.  Now in minutes we can drive to the museum... the kids can play with amazing things... AND leave the mess there!
 It sounds like a dream come true to me... I totally have plans of bringing a book and relaxing while they explore, discover... and PLAY!  
 I have never seen the museum look the same... the exhibits are constantly changing... and they have the most creative things... EVER!  It would be a FUN place to work!
This week the science lesson was on the sense of touch.  The kids finger painted with paint that had salt in it and paint that had glitter in it.  I thought that was a clever idea.  The museum also has a craft station -- I'm thinking we will make that a regular activity in our schedule... SO FUN!

So Lauren, thanks so much for the gift certificate... know it will be put to GREAT use!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Our Christmas Tree

It feels really festive in our house, now that the tree is up and decorated.  I love this time of year!  The excitement, the joy, all the talk about Jesus... I love it!

We set aside a special evening to get out all our nativity scenes and to decorate our tree. 
It was special...
We started by stringing popcorn.  Ethan did awesome with the needle and thread... I was impressed.  Eden did a fabulous job EATING the popcorn... good thing I made a double batch!
 Ethan and Micah strung the lights on the tree... when I turned around to get the ornaments out I saw that Eden had brought all her friends to watch... made me smile... how cute is that?
 Digging out the ornament tin is so much fun... each ornament -- one's I remember and one's I've forgotten... each one gently wrapped in tissue paper.  The kids were just as thrilled as I was rediscovering the beautiful things to hang on the tree!
 We have way more ornaments than tree surface area, but most of them are salt dough creations and I figure by the time the kids are teens most will be broken and I will be glad we had a billion of them at one time!  And of course... we will make more this year!
 Micah and I got a kick out of how Eden loaded the branches... when she was finished with a branch it would be bending towards the floor... too funny!
Here is our tree... the first pic of many... a lovely, calming sight!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Kickoff!

We had an "ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS" weekend! We had planned this weekend out awhile ago.. then a CTM meeting was scheduled right in the middle of the plans so we had to switch everything up -- and come to think about it -- a lot of unexpected things came up and we had to switch up all sorts of thing... I should know by now that "my" plans never work out as beautifully as they do on paper!  So, Micah was able to get a few hours off work on Friday (he actually works 40 hours + Monday-Thursday... and then goes in all day Friday to do his seminary homework)... and we were able to head into the mountains to cut down a tree!
 We don't have too much snow on the ground ... and we haven't gotten our normal below-freezing temps this time of year... so it was a pleasant time tromping around the woods.  The kids made snow angels, threw lots of snowballs, and Eden collected a million pinecones... (yes, they are NOW all over our house!) I decided before hand that I wasn't going to be super picky this year... so when Micah said, "What about this one?" After we had been hiking for about 30 minutes ... I said "SURE!" We celebrated with lunch and hot chocolate... I love traditions!
 On Saturday we headed to our favorite Home Depot Kid's workshop!  The kiddos built picture frames this time.  I just love Home Depot and that they do this... it is truly a highlight in our month... every single month!  Lately, we've discovered that Lowe's also has kid workshops... so we've been signing up for those projects too.  After Home Depot we headed across the street to Lowe's and the kid's built an airplane (a few weeks ago they build sleighs).  Over the past year, we've collected a whole drawer of cool - handmade wooden toys that the kiddos have put together!
 Saturday afternoon we went to a gingerbread making party at a local art center!  (Don't we live in the most amazing, magical town!?)  There are always a million things going on for kids-- almost always for FREE! Perfect for our low-income budget.  I feel so blessed by all the fun things we get to experience!
Saturday night, Micah was working... so the three of us ACTUALLY went downtown with the rest of Bozeman for the Christmas Stroll!  It was WILD, NUTS, and CRAZY!  I actually can't believe we went!  We met up with some friends, but lost them in the crowd when we kept moving when they stopped to visit with friends... There was lots of hot chocolate, Christmas cookies, popcorn, and even a place to make smores.  We enjoyed the live nativity scene... Eden really wanted to pet a lamb.  And we also saw some people juggling flaming things. Ethan thought that was pretty awesome!

Sunday evening we decorating the tree... but I'll share that later... I'm feeling a Christmas over-load... it was definitely a beautiful, family-filled weekend!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Day...

I love Thanksgiving day!  I love being a family... together -- all day... just enjoying each other (or trying not to get on each others nerves)! Bethany joined us for our weekend and so she was involved in the madness as well!
 Ethan is getting to the "old enough age" where he can play games with us.  I bought Go Fish and he is "hooked"... we've probably played 100 games between yesterday and today... Super fun!
A while back my sister-in-law sent me a link for activities to do with little "engineers"(HERE).  I love it when people give me great suggestions for things to do with my kids... because it seems like they're always in NEED of direction or else they find trouble and DIVE in! For the past few months I've been gathering newspaper to make a Geodesic dome (the tutorial is found HERE -- try it!)... and so we FINALLY gave it a go!  It was easy and awesome!
 Ethan and Eden pretended they were lions and the Geo-dome was their cage... I'm amazed how this structure is made out of only newspaper, some tape, and some staples!  We made it a tent... and it worked for awhile until Eden decided to pile all the blankets in the house on it... and it collapsed!  We were able to fix it and it is still standing... it was a perfect Thanksgiving activity to do with the family! 
Before we dove into our Thanksgiving dinner we went for a walk at our walking park... it was chilly out, but the SUN was nice... it had snowed the night before ... and the branches were covered with snow... it was a winter wonderland! 
Seriously... don't ever get into a sword fight with Eden... she is intense!
 When we got home we enjoyed a TEXAS Thanksgiving meal... Bethany's parents sent us a Greenburg SMOKED turkey from Tyler, TX... AMAZING! (Thanks so much!) and Bethany made their family cornbread dressing... we also had apple pie and a pumpkin cheese cake... OH YEAH!  It was a great feast... and great time to reflect on the goodness of God in our lives... 
He has blessed us so much! 

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you... 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shades of Color

I know this week is Thanksgiving week and I should be gushing all that I'm thankful for...  and to be honest... I've made a LONG list of things I am thankful for this year. Remaining "thankful" minded has helped me through the past weeks of ABSOLUTE CRAZY CHAOS!!!! I told Micah I regret NOT putting Ethan in school this year, because our house is WILD all the time.  Just last night we came in the kids bedroom to find that Eden had taken a screw driver and put deep scratches and holes through the whole wall.  I seriously could have put her in the box that very moment and shipped her to another country. 
 This was of course only a couple hours after I found her in the back yard looking like this!  She explained to me that her pants were down because she had to pee on the lawn like Ethan does (fabulous)... when I began to help her get out of the ridiculously muddy clothes she waved her hands wildly... coating my hair and clothes with mud... fantastic.  I stripped both kids and put them in the tub... thankfully they played there for an hour or so... while I scrubbed mud out of the carpet and their clothes... I then told Micah I resigned again... but the silly guy never takes my resignation or gives me a raise... bum deal for me!  

On to other things... I'm constantly working hard at teaching my kiddos how to play.  I don't know how you do it in your house, but ALL my kiddos WANT to do is watch movies.  It is a constant fight because all I let them watch is a show in the morning while I'm making breakfast.  They complain all the time about being bored.  WHAT?  So in the evenings I've been trying to think of educational activities I can set up for them ... so they can play/discover... explore.  It is a challenge -- let me tell you!  I'm ready for Ethan to go to school!
 This week we've been talking about shades of colors... I saw this idea on a blog a LONG time ago (wish I could remember which -- I'd give them credit!) and tucked it away in my brain.  One time while at Home Depot I collected a few paint color cards (two of each).  
This past weekend I finally put the color matching game together.  It is kinda a tricky game and takes times to match the colors, but it's easy to put together.  Cut up one of the paint cards into strips.  Glue a color strip on a clothespin until you have a clothespin for each color....
 Mix up the clothespins and have the kiddos match the shade to the card that wasn't cut up.
 It is tricky, but Ethan likes the challenge!
 I think Eden just likes the clipping on part...
Parenting is a contant battle for me... most of the time I feel like I'm losing the war -- but there are those small moments of success where they are busy, playing and learning -- instead of destroying things and/or yelling at each other.  I've gotta remember the good or I'll go completely MAD!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ice and Snow...

 Thursday was our play-date-day.  When it is our turn to host the madness, I try to plan 1 fun thing to keep the 40 fingers busy (scary thought...huh?)... This week we built "ice" sculptures...
Ethan and I have built ice (sugar cube) houses before, and so this time... he knew what he was doing! 
 I was proud of Eden and her little creation... She worked on it for the longest time.  I brought out the food coloring and put a little drop of color in their glue... 
 I loved the glue trail... so cool!
 (Have I mentioned how much I love their new "art" trays?  Makes clean up so easy!)
 Micah had Saturday off... first one in many weekends since he went back to work at REI... Instead of taking a nap (which we were leaning towards), and BECAUSE the sun was shining we headed to the our favorite park for a walk... 
 When the sun shines... and it's winter -- you've got to seize those semi-warm afternoons!  When we got to the ponds... a bunch of kids were sledding on the "hill"... I left Micah and the kids and ran home to get our sled and snow suits... This would be the kiddos first time sledding!
 I think it was a success???  My FIRST run with Eden we hit a patch of mud and flipped... I rolled over the top of her... giving me flashbacks to the time when my Dad and I crashed while sledding years back.  I remember him telling me how he about killed himself trying not to crush me -- I now have a NEW understanding of that... I did the same thing with Eden, but wasn't fully able to protect her and her arm was submerged in the muddy goo.  Eden looked at me like I betrayed her and screamed BLOODY MURDER... So Dad, I'm sorry if I was upset at you for crashing on me... I have a whole new understanding of that day!
Every single run the rest of the day... Eden screamed her head off like we were abusing her, but then at the end she would stand up and scream how awesome it was and run back up the hill!
Our sledding experience ended abruptly with a broken sled... seriously... do they make things of quality these days? Anywho.... over all the experience was "good"... As parents we learned a few things... We learned we had to talk our kids through the experience (lots of convincing and encouraging)... we learned to never send Ethan down alone... (at one point we had both kids screaming and crying) and we learned to miss the mud patches... 
What a weekend!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Schooling Today...

I've had a lot of questions about Ethan's schooling.  "Are you homeschooling?" "Is Ethan in Kindergarten this year?"  To answer those questions... Ethan meets the Kindergarten cut off date by a few days (I believe it is Sept 10th or 8th - he was born on the 6th), but working with college kids for as long as we have - we realize that those young 17 year olds - soon to be 18 year olds that come our way -- (in most cases) just aren't "ready" to be there.  We wanted Ethan to have another year to mature, gets more wiggles out, and really just be able to play and discover. At this time we want to put him in a private school, but he is on the waiting list and we will see if he gets in.  I'm not thrilled about the school district we are living in -- so public school isn't really an option in my mind. So who knows if in the end we end up homeschooling, but for now that is not my first choice.
 With that said... I would say I'm constantly "homeschooling".  As a parent my desire is to create a love for learning in my kiddos... we have all sorts of things were are working on -- learning!  On a daily basis we work on the days of the week, the seasons of the year, counting, reading, singing songs, finding patterns, learning to read... etc.  Learning is fun... we can always find some question to ask -- something to research... something to talk about!  
The kiddos assignment in Cubbies this week was to learn what it means to "serve".  A suggestion they made was to making table place mats... Then I saw this amazing finger painted tree idea (here on Ucreate... love that blog!) and it all came together in my mind... Cubbie assignment, a lesson on the seasons... perfect for the table!
 So on Saturday we made finger painted/stamped hand/tree prints... We did 4 stamped trees (each sheet of paper had one of Ethan's print and one of Eden's prints)... Then today we got creative.  I got out a blue ink pad for the sky and we dabbed on ink with cotton balls... then we punched out flowers, leaves, and circles... and started to glue them on according to the right season. 
 Lots of white circles for winter, little blooms for spring, LOTS of green leaves and flowers for summer and lots of brightly colored leaves for fall.  Ethan added a big orange circle in each sky for the sun!
Then we laminated them... Didn't they turn out cute!  I think they are going to make perfect table settings for our table... I just love the seasons....
 The cutting, glueing, punching... is still going on... as the creating continues... This morning was a "learning" success... or a "teachable" experience.  We had fun... I really love it when my kiddos are creative... makes me smile!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Snowy Weekend...

Living in the northern part of the States, I'm aware that the cold will come -- it is just a matter of WHEN! Early this week it was in the 60's - I heard snow was coming, but it was hard to believe!
 Friday we woke up to SNOW!  Lots of it!  And with it came the COLD... really cold!  There is ice everywhere - which means I immediately canceled all our traveling plans and stayed home... I hate driving on the that slippery stuff!
 The kids and I went out for a walk Saturday morning, but didn't stay out too long -- even though the sun was shining it was in the teen degrees!
 They love to eat snow... I can tell them how dirty snow is and what is in snow... and they don't care one little bit.  I gave them spoons to use because they have cloth mittens that get wet and cold so fast... this seemed to help their fingers from getting so cold... that and they are growing up so they aren't falling down all the time!
 I guess winter is early... and it will most likely stay longer than it is welcome... 
So we will be drinking a lot of hot chocolate...
 And finding things to do that help the "cabin" fever feelings...
Yes, I think they used all my clean towels... yippeeee... the mess is not inside for the next 6-7 months... *sigh*.... Happy first snow fall!