Tuesday, February 28, 2012

An Ill House...

 The kids have been sick!  It has hit them hard.  Fever, coughs, fatigue..... grumpiness! They don't want to play... they don't want to eat, but I have been able to keep them hydrated -- so that is a blessing!
Not much to report... but a lot of wrapped in blankets laying around!

I hope they snap back soon -- and that Micah and I DON'T get it!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Must LEARN = Must HAVE FUN

On Tuesday night Micah and I had a delightful, fancy, expensive dinner courtesy of some old gift cards we had for a Great Falls restaurant.  We talked about our kids for a long time.  He asked me if I could see into the future and catch a glimpse of our kids would it change how I parented them now?  That question has made me really think.  I am an intense parent... I feel the need to teach, train, and pour into my kids EVERYTHING today as if it is the last day they have!  Why? I can argue I do it because I want the BEST for them, but maybe I do this to quiet that nagging, lying voice in the back of my head that I really don't have what it takes to be a "good" mom? Or because I really care what others' think about us -- and want them to think we are doing okay? It is so interesting when you stop and ask yourself, WHY?  Micah has always been good at making me think... he helps me see how I'm seeking worth and approval in things other than in God.  

What do we want our kids to learn?  We talked about this for a long time... how do we teach them the things we want them to know? For us it always comes back to how we have to build these things into ourselves SO they will be "caught" by our kids... 

One thing I took away from our time is my need to relax in my parenting.  I may look like a "fun" mom, and I admit we do have a lot of fun, but it is done through careful planning and directed steps.  I wish I was carefree - a "go-with-it" parent, but I'm not.  I want to change directions with my kids -- completely change directions in my HEAD.  In the next year before Ethan starts school... I want to play with him.  I don't want to teach him, or instruct him with facts... I want to learn while we play. The steps we take may not change at all, but I think it has changed in my head...

Here is some pictures from our calculated play times...
We made an Air Dart gun... this experiment was to show how vibrations can blow out a candle... we didn't get the candle blown out, but we did get it to flicker!
Ethan is stuck on science this week (seriously it is something NEW every single week!)... We have talked a lot about the scientific process: coming up with a question, forming a hypothesis (I just love hearing him come up with his hypothesis!) and then the fun part: experimenting! 
The good old "string phones"
This week we learned about vibrations... we did several experiments... It is amazing how much I am learning.  Not sure where I was during my "educational" years, but I realize how little I truly understood or maybe better said -- how much I FORGOT...
Practicing his name...
My big dude has been super sick the past few days... we have been laying low and trying to recover!  He is precious when he is lethargic!  So snuggly -- I am loving all the snuggles!
(Today he is feeling better, but he sounds super funny all stuffed up!)
In moments of sickness - the hidden/rotating toys make their appearance.  My kids think it is Christmas all over again... and it helps keep them distracted for a little bit!
"Learning" to sew
I love Eden's profile... especially when she is absorbed in something fun!
Quick Cinnamon Buns...
Thursday mornings are a favorite time in my week.  It is the only morning I bake... unless I make something for Micah on Saturday morning... Kasie comes over for coffee -- I love it.  I love her -- I love our moments together!  This week I baked these cinnamon buns.. INCREDIBLE and easy (two things I love!)...

Here is the recipe out of my American Test Kitchen cookbook:
Dough:
2 1/2 flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda and salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
6 Tablespoons melted butter (only add 2 T to the dough)
Mix together until blended -- then turn out on the counter and knead until smooth (about a minute)  Then pat out into a 9 x 13 rectangle, brush with melted butter.  Then sprinkle with topping.

Topping (blend together until lit looks like wet sand):
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup regular sugar (I left this out... seemed like too much sugar)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves (I didn't have any so I used nutmeg... I love nutmeg!)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon melted butter

Roll up... cut into 8 equal slices, place in a greased pan, bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes.  Then Glaze... I used a little bit of milk, vanilla and powdered sugar... they had this recipe:
3 Tablespoons cream cheese + 3 tablespoons buttermilk + 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Ethan's Craft time...
Ethan knows where the craft books are at in the library.  Each week he disappears only to reappear with piles of books under his arms.  I never know what we are going to get into... This week it was beaded creatures.  
A boy for Ethan and a girl for Eden...
It was almost comical as we made these.  Eden grabbed handfuls of beads and dropped them all over the carpet... trust me I was TWITCHING by the end of this project.  I told Ethan his "craft" projects are going to be censored from now on... They need to be kid craft friendly -- aka Ethan can do the project almost all by himself! ... I like crafts, but it is not enjoyable while controlling absolute beading chaos!
Ethan was "okay" with just a boy creature... but he still wants to make the octopus, the seahorse, the cat, the dog, the camel... oh dear!
1st time dressing herself!
We are back online... I love being able to share what we are learning and how we are growing.  

I leave you with a VERY HAPPY moment in my day... Eden dressed herself -- I was looking forward to this day!  She picked out this classy outfit by herself and put it on by herself... she smiled and said, "I find Daddy!"  She knows he will tell her she is beautiful no matter what... she found him... he told her she was beautiful... too much fun! Her outfit kills me... it is freezing out and she has a temp of 101 degrees... I guess she keeps it real!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I've Been Told I'm Normal...?

Normal... what is normal?  Do you live in the normal realm???? I'm not sure we do!  We (the kids and I) vacillate between the unique/extraordinary to the blah/boring... So much depends on the mood of the day... did we get enough sleep? Is the sun shining? Is there an adventure in the works... Lately, I've found my "mother rhythm" has been off. I've been struggling to gain perspective... I feel overwhelmed -- I'm told this is a "normal" feeling when you have young kids.  Instruction, discipline, consistency, cleaning, cooking... more cleaning ... are the nuts and bolts of my day...  
A friend shared Galatians 6:9 with me and it has been running through my head all week!  It says, 

"Let us not become weary in doing good, 
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

I've taken a deep breath -- it will all be okay... I just need to keep loving, instructing, disciplining... being consistent, cleaning, cooking -- and NOT GIVING UP!

... Here are some extraordinary memories from our past few days...
 Our friend Kasie brought us some fish.  She bought like 50 fish for her church's Valentine's Day Banquet centerpieces.  She saved us 7.  This fall I found a couple aquariums by our mailbox with a FREE sign on them.  I have plans to turn them into a gardening project with the kids, but the 7 fish needed a home.  Well... soon after Kasie left one of the fish "swam" to the bottom and began to "sleep"... later that afternoon we left for an hour and came home to find 4 more "sleeping" at the bottom of the tank...


 I figured it was a good opportunity to talk about "death"... It was a great little discussion with Ethan.  In the middle of our discussion he asked, "Why is heaven in the sky?" Trying explaining that to a kid!  I don't shy away from "uncomfortable" discussions with him -- I love talking about those difficult-to-understand things.  I find as I try to explain and describe things it makes me think... 

When we finally told the kids that 5 of the fish were dead ... they were okay.  We fished them out and I let them look at their bodies.  We had checked some fish books from the library and had even found a informative movie about fish ... I pointed out their body parts -- I definitely learned a bit about fish this past week!  They are beautiful little creatures!  
The next morning... only one was left swimming.  I was sure he would be gone by now... but last time I looked he is still splashing around!  On Saturday we went to the pet store and picked up 4 bigger goldfish.  Micah and the kids named them.  Spike, Cheese Puff, Freckles, and Stickers... Ethan named the little fish Little Bait... (cracked me up)! The lady at the pet store told me I need to clean their tank ONCE A WEEK!... Hum... wonder how long we will have these guys around?

Banana Popsicles 
 For family night Ethan and I made Banana Popsicles... they are tasty (and easy)! You cut up bananas into thick slices... lay them flat on a plate and put a toothpick into their centers and freeze them.  When they are completely frozen melt chocolate (I only had white almond bark), dip them in the chocolate and sprinkle with sprinkles. I had a cucumber so I poked the toothpicks in it until the almond bark was dry and then I put them back in the freezer.  Easy... and yummy... and cute!
 This weekend the boys got haircuts... I have a feeling when Ethan gets older he will let his hair grow long... because he HATES haircuts!
It was the most comical/ridiculous haircut EVER!  Ethan usually just screams during haircuts.  I am not sure it if is the sound of the clippers or the little bits of hair falling on his face (or a combination).  This time we put earplugs in his ears, gave him a wet washcloth to hold over his face, and then Micah held the vacuum and sucked up hair while I clipped.  WOW... it was a challenge -- and Ethan ended up screaming the whole time anyway, but hey we are trying!

We have another "normal" week in the works... (Actually) I'm in Great Falls, MT with Micah -- he had a meeting and I was up for a day away.  The kids are safe at home with Uncle Eli (at least I hope!)... we will get back to more vacillation from extraordinary to boring tomorrow... have a happy Tuesday.

ps... I might be back online on Thursday!  Micah is starting Seminary and needs to have the internet... YIPPPPPPEEE!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Strange Shopping List...

I know I have a "special" child... I've known this since the wee early morning hour I first laid eyes on him.  For the past few months I have been reading a lot of books... subjects from Asperger's (Autism) to ADHD to sensory disorders trying to figure out my oldest.... not to find an excuse, but to find HELP.  He is unique... he is a challenge!!!  I am pretty sure he is going to outsmart me any day now. It is hard to keep up with him... he is always busy, always in the midst of giant plans of inventing something new or performing "experimenting" on anything new he can find to pulling trash out of the trash to make a "craft" project... 

Yesterday I smiled as we walked into the grocery store... the list in my hand read -- ammonia, Mrs. Stewart's Bluing solution, sugar cubes, Epsom salts, and vinegar... truly the list of a Mom of a little "scientist"... I am on such a strict food budget, but I figured we could eat bean and rice a few more nights.. and squeeze in some materials for some "projects"... (Although if you ask him today what he wants to be when he grows up... he says a boy ballerina... Micah blames the students he got to babysit for Valentine's Day night... thanks Amy and Alyssa!)
 Our first "experiment was "goo".... 2 cups cornstarch + 1 1/2 cups cold water (added slowly)... a few drops of food coloring and I added a few drops of peppermint extract because I thought it originally smelled awful!  Mix it together with your fingers... and the FUN begins!
 Note to self... this is a very messy project, but not too bad to clean up!  Next time I would take off the kiddos pants and socks BEFORE starting... aprons were nice.... it does get messy, but again (for the record) the clean up is pretty easy!
 I was right in there with the kids... this stuff is crazy cool.  Such a strange mixture...
 Learning is fun... experimenting is even better! 
Our hands were completely blue when we finished... but nothing a warm bath couldn't handle... 

Can't wait to try this one again... I have the leftover "goo" in a jar... next time purple?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Heart Matters...

I've always loved Valentine's day... to me it has never been about the chocolates, flowers or mushy things (although -- those things are quite nice)... it was/is about showing love to others.  I think this holiday is an awesome way to share "God"... because if God is love and Valentine's day is about love... then it must be about God... because God is love!  I love seizing holidays and making them an opportunity to share more about Jesus with my kiddos... yesterday I couldn't help think about how the heart matters!  In Jeremiah 17:9 it says that "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked."  When I sigh and wonder why my kids are such "difficult" children I am reminded that they have unregenerate hearts.  They act out of a dirty heart... hence dirty actions flow forth... ALL the time!
Opening Valentine Love from Nana...
We started our day out with a treat from Nana and from Grampie and Grammie Weller.  The kids think presents are the best... I love how the little things grab their attention and keep them busy for a few extra minutes... I take what I can around here!
Our pink-heart pancake cherry delight!
 For breakfast I made some pink heart pancakes... At breakfast we talked about our hearts and the need for Jesus to give us a new heart.  I told them that my prayer for (myself) and for them is... Psalms 51:10 "Create in me (them) a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Ethan and Eden)."
Little candy bags my Mom made for the kids..
To add to the sugar high... the kids were thrilled with their Valentine Candy bags my Mom sent. 
 Thanks, Mom (The pants for Ethan WERE perfect... thanks so much!!!)!
For lunch we had special Valentine's day heart P&J... amazing what a cookie cutter can do to add a bit of fun and excitement... it's the simple things!  My kids don't need Disneyland as long as I have fun cookie cutters... ha!
After "rest" time... (sob)... looks like both my babies are nap free now -- for the record I am NOT OKAY WITH THIS (still need to work on this in my heart)... we made cookies.
Window Cookies..
I have always wanted to do window cookies... where you make a hole and melt a candy in the center.  I texted my sister in law who did windows with candy in their gingerbread house at Christmas time for instruction.  She gave me this brilliant idea of putting little foil squares underneath the candies... they peel off super easy!  
 Micah showed up in the middle of our decorating and helped us finish!
 The kiddos are great cookie sprinklers!
Decorating sugar heart cookies on V-day is a must...
 I just loved how they turned out... so bright and beautiful! 
Don't you just love how the window cookies turned out?  I do!
My Love surprised me with flowers... and DINNER... the dinner was quite unexpected because you see I had ALREADY made dinner for 5 people.  Tuesday night is CTM dinner night and the whole team gets together for intentional fellowship/community/Bible Study.  Last week I had asked if anyone had Valentine's Day plans?  No one did so I told them I would make them a special V-Day dinner...  Somehow my hubby forgot that when we went to the store and BOUGHT the special ingredients for dinner... and then he forgot again the night before when I put together the chicken packages.... so when he walked in the door and saw me putting them in the oven he said, "You might not want to do that... I canceled dinner."  I had to examine my heart ... let me just say... I have uncooked chicken soaking in white wine sauce on a bed of spinach with garlic and feta... (amazing dinner if you ask me) been trying to find someone to come over for dinner tonight so it will not be wasted!  I love how my hubby loves me.  It is unconventional... I am a planner -- he is last minute.  I stuck the chicken back in the fridge... swallowed, and we enjoyed our dinner out... I love him!!

I am thankful for days that remind me that the heart matters... We need God to give us a new heart... to allow Him to change us from the inside out.  I am so thankful He is LOVE... I am so thankful we get to remember that on Valentine's Day....


"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26

Monday, February 13, 2012

Redeeming Our Vehicle...

A few months ago I mentioned to Micah that "maybe" we should sell our Suburban.  We bought our Suburban when our African adoption was in the near future and we were planning on being at the school for many more years.  We needed more room and a vehicle that would handle the dirt roads.  The Suburban was an answer to prayer ... and the nicest car we have EVER owned. It has a hard decision to sell it, but we wanted better gas mileage and something a bit smaller.  I spent a few hours cleaning it and getting it ready to sell. Then it didn't take any time at all to sell it ... we got what we paid for it.  Then the journey to find another vehicle began.  The kids and I were without a vehicle for two weeks... and at times it was difficult.  We couldn't go anywhere, but it was okay because Eden and I were sick... anyhow!  
My lesson in "redemption"
 Well this past week we found another "ride"... it was in our price range, BUT we made the fatal error of looking at it at night. It looked like it needed vacuuming, but it seemed to be okay.  I don't think I have EVER seen a car so dirty in all my life!!!!!  Micah spent 4.5 hours on Friday disinfecting it with bleach.  He scrubbed EVERYTHING... and it still looked AWFUL!  On Saturday we had to run some errands... we were driving around in it... I finally ended up crying!  It was awful... Micah and I learned a lot about each other during this car incident... we are coming up on 12 years of marriage, but we are still learning how to communicate and work things out.  It finally clicked with me how we deal with hard things is completely opposite -- should have realized that earlier, but I didn't.  I need to talk myself out of the pit -- in other words I have to talk circles around the pit, examine every angle of the pit, and process every single dirt particle in the pit... then I can slowly start to accept the pit and climb out of it.  Micah doesn't want to talk about the pit... He simply admits that it is a pit and climbs out. He then decides to make the most of the pit.  As I am processing out of the pit - I frustrate him because he has already acknowledged that it is a pit and doesn't want to go back in, but by me processing the pit he is pulled back in.  Interesting huh?  We finally acknowledged that we both were super bummed about the "new" wheels, but were going to work on redeeming it.  Redeeming takes a lot of work... it is looking a whole lot better... and smelling a whole lot better.  I cannot believe the places we found dirt and the quantity of dirt!  We rented a carpet cleaner and spent another 4.5 hours Saturday afternoon cleaning the ceiling, the seats, the rugs and floor.  The 6 buckets of dirt that came out of it looked like black tar.  Ethan now calls it our "hotel" car, because he says it smells like a hotel (aka BLEACH).  
 The kids wanted to join in with the cleaning process so I gave them rags and brushes and had them clean the kitchen counters and floor.
 They worked hard, too!  
I am learning in counseling that God forgives us... not to just forgive us, but to build a relationship with us.  He cleans out the old so that He can build something new... something better than we could imagine.  That is redemption -- that is something to get excited about!
I wonder what He thinks when He peeks in us... is He totally grossed out and disappointed... or excited about the possibility??  I am sure He found more than 6 buckets of gross black tar in me... and probably still will... I am thankful He is patient in our redemption process (hopefully more patient than I was in our car's redemption)!  

... Well - enough on that... here is some other highlights from our weekend...
My comic relief!!!
A funny:  On Friday Eden came running out from her bedroom and exclaimed, "Look, Momma!  I'm a bull!" She insisted that she needed to wear it to story time at the library... thankful I was able to slip it out of her nose BEFORE we entered the library!
Eden LOVES babies!  She loves helping out!
 Friday we babysat our little pal for a few hours.  He is such a good baby.  If I could get a promise that another baby would be like him... I might be able to have another kid, but knowing my luck -- another child would come out screaming and kicking like the other two!
 Friday night is free night at the Children's Museum in Bozeman.  We needed a break from car cleaning and so we took the kids... it was our first time there...
 It was hard to capture a picture of Ethan playing... he was a whirlwind tearing all over the whole place -- exploring his heart out!  He has (since) asked a 100 times if we could go back to the "museum"...
 I would love to run a place like this... a big house of toys!  It would be super funtastic!
 I think we will be hitting this place up regularly on Friday night... I was so glad the kids enjoyed themselves so much... it was a moment where I was able to take a deep breath and think, 
"we are going to make it... somehow!"
This morning the kids played tea party... this was BEFORE I gave them animal crackers to have with their tea... I came back later to find they had smashed the crackers into bits with a BAT and then smushed them into the freshly cleaned carpet... what in the WORLD!!!!
We are started on a new week!  I am still fighting something -- cuz I'm EXAUSTED... maybe just "car" bug... I did spend all afternoon Saturday cleaning our car... then since we had the carpet cleaner I went ahead and cleaned most of the carpets in our house (maybe that is why I'm tired!!!!)... I'm trying to gain perspective and face the week... and my new vehicle! 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I Miss Blogging...

I really miss blogging.  Blogging has been a way for me to reflect on my day... to highlight the good and be thankful for the moments as they happen.  Waiting a week to go through pictures and think over the events of the week rob me of the daily joy of reflection.  I guess I could do that on my own, but posting a blog entry kept me accountable to regularly reflecting and writing.  My Mother - in - love read me a quote by someone and I wish I could remember the whole quote, but I do remember the gist of what was said and that was that this person wrote because he/she needed to!  It was a way of life almost like breathing.  I GET that, I write because I need to.  I write because it helps me sort out my thoughts and get a grip on my emotions.  It is therapeutic!
See the ROSY cheeks... She is almost over her cold... or as she told me when she woke up from her nap today, "Momma, the bad bugs left my body!"
This week has been another BLAH week for me.  Crawling out of bed in the morning has been a chore.  I feel unmotivated and uninspired. It is amazing how far a little bit of inspiration and energy go! I look at my kids running around the house full of life and fight to gain perspective over the piles of laundry, dishes, crumb-covered floors, finger-smeared windows, food-stained cabinets, and the path of disaster that was left in the wake of two kiddos...  I know this is the life of a house mom, but when I caught myself with a calculator trying to figure out much I needed to make at a job in order to put my kids in daycare... I realized -- I need to think through some things!
I figured it was time to give Eden control of the glue bottle... after all it only cost 35 cents...
 Our daily routine can absorb energy... turning opportunities into tasks and adventures into chores.  Making small things special and seizing the moments as they happen can be missed in the ho hum of the day.  I'm realizing that so much of life is perception.  I can be filled with joy and peace choosing to go with the flow or I can be drowning in the details and unmet expectations. 
The beginning of our Valentine's Day fun!
 This week I have been trying to keep up with the high energy level of my kids, while having none of my own!  They are curious, desiring to learn, eager to do projects, and NEVER satisfied!  I'm trying to get organized!  I've got curriculum books all over, food menus all over... and piles to organize all over... I JUST WANT TO SIMPLIFY... Micah shared the other night that "Intentionality must flow out of discipline."  The more I have thought about this the more I agree.  I need to be more disciplined with preparing for my kids ... (huh-hum... preparing for my LIFE).  There are so many things I want to teach them, so many activities that I want to try, and subjects I want to explore.  But I need to set aside 15 minutes a night to prepare for the next day... so that when the flood gates (the kid's bedroom doors) are opened I am ready.  I need to focus on ONE thing at a time!
I thought parenting would be different.  I'm not really sure what I thought it would be like, but I know I wasn't prepared for the all-consuming-ness of it! Especially now that the kids are almost finished with taking afternoon naps... *sigh* .... *sigh....SIGH....sigh* 
I'm learning to seize small moments in time by going into my bedroom, closing the door, and "disappearing". It helps! 

So enough about my attempts at surviving parenting...
 here is what we've been up to the last few days...
"Look, Momma, my smile looks just like this!"
 We are preparing for V-Day... We made some mailboxes and since then I have written Ethan a dozen notes.  He is constantly checking his mailbox for new letters... when I informed him the "normal" mailmen only come once a day... he wasn't impressed!
(Eden's face is beautiful... I pray her heart will be as well!)
 We are planning a Valentine's Day card making/cookie decorating party.  I love V-Day!
 The kids are into the game "Breaking the Ice".  Paige (our favorite friend) got it for them back in the day and they can actually play it now.  For the most part they play really well together.
 It is nice to sit back and let them do an activity on their own... I just have to put in the "corner" ice.
 I love catching their expressions and dialog as they play... 
 It is priceless...
 Ethan has been going through my recipe books.  He regularly brings me a picture and says, "Let's make this for dinner!"  It is usually some sort of cookie, ice cream sundae or the like...  Yesterday he brought me a cookie recipe and asked if he could make cookies.
Love the concentration tongue... cracks me up!
 Every single time we bake together I talk to him about measuring spoons. Fractions were so hard for me to understand so I figure I will start early... I'm sure he doesn't "get it", but it is good practice.
 I let him measure everything out by himself yesterday.  He even poured the honey.
 I even introduced him to the kitchen "power tool"... he thought that was marvelous!
 Little Bit joined us 1/2 way through... just in time to get a snitch or two!
 I am pretty sure that is why Ethan loves to bake with me... purely for the snitches!
 I love how Eden says, "Can I have a snitch?"
This recipe was Sally Field's Kid's Bake um cookies recipe... and it was a simple!  I liked that this recipe didn't call for eggs... so I wasn't too concerned about the kids snitching the dough or licking the beater...

Kid's Bake 'Em Cookies

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

(cream the following together)
1/2 cup room temp. butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey

Mix dry with wet ingredients... but don't over mix.  Bake at 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Suppose to make 2 dozen...

***I am trying to figure out how I can make an extra $50 bucks a month... to go to my internet fund (still not sure I really WANT to have internet... it has been nice not having it, too).  I know so many of my friend have fabulous businesses on the side... so I'm trying to figure out my venue... I'm only drawing blanks... so if anyone has ideas shoot them my way!