Monday, January 31, 2011

Warmth : 1000 Gifts

We had a few cold and power-less days in our home this past week, which left me so thankful for many simple things... some lovely, some not... all a gift...

My hairdryer.

Guest rooms.

Just baked chocolate chip cookies, coffee, and conversation in a friend's warm living room.

Our tough fish, Gershwin, who survived the cold... just barely.

Sleeping bags.

Thai take-out.

A thermos of hot water carried down the sidewalk.

Hot tea.

Neighborly care.

A warm breakfast.

The oranges and pinks of sunset reflecting on the snow.

Refreshing computer-free days.

Travel book lights.

Big limbs falling in safe places.

Snowballs in my freezer.

An opportunity to clean the inside of the fridge.

Our grimy van.

Piles of wet snow gear.

Warm coats.

Our clothes dryer.

Saucer sleds.

These brilliant hand-warmers. (thanks, Mom)

When friends say the hard things.

Being honest.

True friendship.

True hospitality.

Warm fellowship.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Snow Days

Moments after I posted our Wednesday art project we lost power. Snow is so much more fun when your house is warm and cozy. The first few hours were exciting... reading by candlelight, keeping warm by the fire. Waking the next morning to a chilled house and no coffee changed my attitude a bit, but we bundled up and according to Hannah had a "great family adventure."

After shoveling, the first thing on the list was to get to the neighborhood sledding hill.

Hannah and friends

Peter is quick to come down...

... and run right back up to the top.

We enjoyed the warm hospitality of friends for two days moving from home to home in search of heat (and coffee).
All while these trucks teased us constantly.

Late yesterday afternoon, I packed us up for our second slumber party in two days. And as I locked the front door to our 47 degree house the front lights came on! I cheered the Pepco truck as it drove down the street. I love electricity. But not wanting the "adventure" to end, we still headed over to friends and almost spent the night... just for fun.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

This was a perfect project for a snowy afternoon with a creative treatment
of warm and cool colors. I found the idea at Art Projects for Kids.
We used colored pencils instead of crayons.

Coloring by the fire...

Peter asked if he could color it a different way : )...

I didn't have a compass, so I made my own with a piece of cardboard...
(this one is mine... I can't resist coloring by the fire)

The finished project... and Kit and Hannah in their matching nightgowns. So sweet.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday Thanks : 1000 Gifts

Weekly I sit here and gather together the beautiful gifts, all those moments I remember with gratitude. They are scribbled on scrap paper, in the margins of my journal, alongside my sermon notes...

and I add them to the list (a day late this week)...

Sick days.

Finding him napping like this (and with sword in hand, just in case).

That he still wants to sit on my lap when I read to all three. (I can barely see over his shoulder.)

Moments of peaceful play.

Generous restaurant gift cards. Dinner out with my husband.

Our babysitter.

Spontaneous running races.


Our Nature Center.

A full moon. Trying to find it again through the trees as we drive home.

Sunday afternoon reading.

Early evening sun streaming through windows.

Windshield wiper fluid.

Really tall towers. Mom, get your camera!-type towers.

The remedy of Grace.

A godly husband.

Being able to fill a grocery cart.

Our home filled with friends.

Finding Ann's book at the front door.

Reports of good health.

Adequacy in Christ.

When the I'm sorry's happen without prompting.

The promise of eternal fruit.

That I have a God who understands my weaknesses,
redeems my failures, and can make a garden out of my mess.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Astronaut Party

For his 5th birthday party, Peter went with an Astronaut theme. Hannah and Will painted and assembled the solar system for the table. Isn't it nice how you can tailor homeschooling to fit with your party planning? : )

We had over a bunch of great friends (and their great parents).

(Poor Hannah felt terrible and spent most of the evening upstairs. Thankfully, she was better this morning.)

There was a lot of silliness...

... and some intense pinata beating. I love Caden's determination in this picture.

All the candles lit as we fired-up the space shuttle made it very exciting. Not recommended.

Peter is more excited about me letting him have root beer than about cake.

Friday, January 21, 2011

{This Moment}

Joining with SouleMama, sharing a moment from our week.

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


My baby is FIVE!... despite my pleading with him to stop getting older,
to which he always replies, "Mom, stop it! I have to get big."

Happy Birthday, Peter!


I designed these cupcake toppers for his school cupcakes,
but in the process I found these super cute free printable ones
and had to share.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Giveaway: 4 Winners, Homeschool Conference Family Passes

Homeschoolers, Darcy is giving away four family homeschool conference passes! She's so nice.

Visit her blog, Life With My 3 Boybarians and enter to win.

From Darcy's blog...

My pal Brennan Dean and I have partnered together to give (4) four family Conference passes to deserving winners to attend one of the following conferences:

  1. MidWest Homeschool Convention – Cinncinati, Ohio
  2. NorthEast Homeschool Convention – Philadelphia, PA
  3. MidSouth Homeschool Convention – Memphis, TN
  4. SouthEast Homeschool Convention – Greeneville, SC

Monday, January 17, 2011

Always and For Everything : 1000 Gifts

Monday is quickly coming to an end. I have been wanting to add to my joy list all day, but instead I have been busily preparing for my mid-year school board review. As I sort through the piles of their work and seek to type up all that we do here, I am reminded how much I love this life and enjoy the gift of these crazy days.

.... giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father. Ephesians 5:20

the list goes on...

Crayon drawings on my church bulletin.

An evening with a new friend.

The safe arrival of a beautiful baby boy. A dear family's addition.

Peter's prayer for this new little friend, "... and I pray you would give him a happy life."

Violin solos.

Passing the Peace of Christ.

Early morning Bible reading, blankets, and coffee.

"I have a dream."

Hearing it again.

Mid-day fires. All of us huddled around it.


Afternoon quiet time.

Singing the Doxology around the table.

The Child's Story Bible.

The song "My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness"... especially the second verse...
My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who walks beside;
Who floods my weaknesses with strength
And causes fears to fly;
Whose ev'ry promise is enough
For ev'ry step I take,
Sustaining me with arms of love
And crowning me with grace.

Snow Globes

My kids are longing for a good snow. The big storms keep just missing us! So, we decided to make a bit of our own. This project was oh-so-easy and the kids are thrilled with the results. And there's the added bonus of three less playmobil figures lying around the house.

Snow Globes

What you need:
  • a glass jar with a tight fitting lid
  • super glue
  • glitter (we had white and gold on hand, so that's what we used)
  • small plastic figures, plastic beads, plastic trees, etc.
  • water
  1. Have your kids come up with the arrangement of the figures on the lids.
  2. Superglue the arrangement/figure to the inside of the lid. I did that part... I'm not that brave.
  3. Fill the glass jars with water (to about a half inch from the top).
  4. Add about 1/2 tsp of glitter to each jar.
  5. Screw on the lid and shake!

A few details:
I super-glued my boys lids onto the jar to avoid a watery-glittery mess in my future.
The white glitter we used didn't sink to the bottom at first, but floated to the top after the shaken blizzard (I think the gold and silver metallic glitters tend to be a bit heavier). We decided our white glitter created a looming snow cloud look, but a few days later it did settle... not sure why.

This is Will's...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Parenting Encouragement

"I felt like I had nothing left to face the next day of a thousand sibling battles, a thousand authority encounters, a thousand reminders, a thousand warnings, a thousand corrections, a thousand discipline moments, a thousand explanations, a thousand times of talking about the presence and grace of Jesus, a thousand times of helping the children to look in the mirror of God’s Word and see themselves with accuracy, a thousands “please forgive me’s,” and a thousand “I love you’s.” It seemed impossible to be faithful to the task and have the time and energy to anything else...." -Paul Tripp
Have you ever felt like this? I have. This morning, as a matter of fact.

Friends, I had to share this link with you all ... for encouragement about finding joy and grace "in the impossibility of it all," read the rest of his post here - The Gospel Coalition blog.

Kandinsky's Circles

January needed a little color.

Our inspiration: Wassily Kandinsky's color study, Squares with Concentric Circles.

The idea for oil pastel circles and watercolor squares is from Usborne's Art Treasury. This was a easy and fun project for a snowy January afternoon. Art Projects for Kids has another take on it (that I love) using only oil pastels... maybe next time.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Delayed Opening

That means two things in our house...

snowflake pancakes

and day off of preschool for Peter to do what he loves most (seriously) - shovel snow.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Week on a Clipboard : Part I

Before you go any further, know that this home management/organizing thing has become a hobby of mine. So, please excuse all the type-a-ness of this post. It's embarrassing, really. (but I. love. it.)

After reading Organized Simplicity, I was inspired to change a few things around here, mainly our family calendar and home school lesson planning.

Our Calendar:
For years, I have had a paper, notebook-style calendar and it worked well for me. I think and organize best with pencil to paper, so it was a good fit. Then I got an iPhone and everything changed. I had this super-powered tool in my pocket and a bulky planner in my bag. As much as I liked how my planner joined our family calendar with home school planning, it contained so much I didn't need and was proving to be rather bulky. Also, the school planning sheets were not customized to our subjects and schedule. So, I decided leave the paper family calendar in 2010 and move to Google Calendar (which already held my birthday calendar). Then I went on to create our own weekly lesson planning sheets. No more extra bulk.

What I am loving about Google Calendar vs. Paper:
(which leaves me wondering what took me so long to do this...)
  • The ability to repeat an event. This works especially well with meal planning because really we don't have more than two weeks worth of Sunday-Friday meals. So, every other Tuesday we have stir fry, etc. Saturday evenings are left open for new recipes and going out. And it's all there waiting for me when I make the weekly grocery list.
  • No space constraints. I don't have a pencil and a little box, so I can be as detailed about my day as I like. Because of this, I have added my weekly exercise schedule to my calendar - that is a huge motivator for me.
  • Reminders. This is a life saver for me with birthdays and orthodontist appointments.
  • Sharing. Even though my husband doesn't use Google Calendar, if he needs to check my calendar he can.
  • And I always take my phone, so now I have my calendar, too. I know I am late to this way of life, but letting go of paper was a big deal for me.
Home School Lesson Plans:
Before our school year begins, I create a spreadsheet with each subject and what lessons need to be completed each week to get it all done in about 34 weeks. For instance, I know that in week 20 Will needs to do math lessons 76-79. With all that work completed ahead of time, I spend about an hour every weekend planning for the next week. That includes filling our file box and gathering books. Our file box has a folder for each school day filled with worksheets and papers needed for each day. Hannah (red) and Will (blue) keep things moving to the next day's folder if they are needed every day.

Before each week begins, I print out our lesson planning sheet, a grocery list, and a to do list/weekly chore sheet (I will post about this soon). It all goes on my clipboard. Along with any other papers I may need (like right now I have Peter's birthday party planning sheet in there, too). When the week is over, the lesson plans are transferred to my home management notebook.

Our lesson planning sheet:
(if anyone would like me to email them any of these documents just let me know)

My grocery list (with spaces for our weekly dinner schedule):
(the week begins on Thursday because I go to the store with the boys on Thursdays while Hannah is at piano)

Monday, January 10, 2011

January Joy : 1000 Gifts

Seeking His gifts in the everyday, my joy list continues...

Paper snowflakes taped to windows.

Church steeples in the cityscape.

Sunday afternoon naps.

The sound of basketball on the driveway.

Saturday morning snow.

School papers organized.

Peter's adorable class (singing at their snow-postponed Christmas program).

Prayers before bed.

Church family dinners.

Easy friendships.


Warm slippers.

Afternoon tea.

An evening with my in-laws.

Warmth of home.


Friends caring for friends who grieve.

When he warms up the car and scrapes the icy windows for me.

"Thanks for dinner, Mom."

That all three cannot stop singing Christmas hymns.

Hope for Sudan.

Grace and Peace.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Here is a fun, little project to do when you have a backyard full of sticks (and sadly, no snow).

What you need:
  • an assortment of small twigs
  • hot glue gun
  • twine/string/yarn...
  • scissors
I had Hannah and Will design their "stick-flakes" and then I did the gluing. To create the angles, Hannah broke the stick - but not completely. I added a little twine to reinforce the middle. Very easy to make... and very easy to break. I was quick to get them up where they would be safe.

Peter (disinterested in making a snowflake) inquired about the glue gun as he created a little bunker and kept careful watch with gun in hand...

"Mom, what is this?"
"It's a glue gun."
"A GUN that shoots glue!?!"
"Hot glue, actually."
"Whoa... do they use these in wars?"
"No, mostly just for crafts"
Still amazed... "Daddy must have taught you how to use this gun!" : )


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