Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Activity Calendar for Kids

I may have blogged about this last year. I don't remember. I'm not going to look it up.

If I've already shared this idea, I want to share again!

Starting tomorrow, we will be using
this advent calendar for the third year in a row. Does that make it a tradition? Three in a row?

It is a lift-the-flap calendar, with a daily treasure hunt and activity relating to Jesus' birth.

You put your own clues on the calendar - one for each day. Your kiddo lifts the flap for that day's date; the clue tells him where to find that day's activity. (In the toy box, in the silverware drawer, under the chair cushion, etc - I usually re-use locations after a week or so). The activities vary from scripture readings, to Christmas carols and little craft projects - many to do with making ornaments for your tree.

The calendar starts with December 1st, but there is plenty of flexibility in the activities to rearrange them to fit your schedule, so you could probably start any time in the first week of December and double up or skip activities.

We love it and I hope you do too!
Go HERE and start printing! :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

WFMW - Tablecloths & Kids

Our kitchen table is our central headquarters for school, meal & snack-times, and pretty much everything else.

Sometimes I like to keep a tablecloth and centerpiece on it, but then it ends up folded back on itself a lot to keep it clean.

Lately though, I've discovered using our kid card-table. For breakfast and lunch when it's just me and the boys, they can eat at that table, and I eat "on-the-go". (A.K.A "standing up")
While not ideal long term, it works great for me, especially since we always all sit down together (at the 'real' table) for supper.

This arrangement is also good for coloring and gluing stuff. Keeps them nearby while I'm working in the kitchen (and out of trouble elsewhere) and I still have a pretty table to look at while I work.

Works for me! Especially during the holidays. Be sure and visit Rocks in my Dryer to see what is working for others. :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Tale of Two Cakes

I made 2 cakes today... one to give away, and one to keep. I'll let you guess which is which.

Here they are together. Bless its little heart.
I'd like to tell you Dale did one cake and I did the other, but that wouldn't be quite true. He did do the sprinkles on one of them.

Ah well... I have no doubts they'll both get eaten. :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Shoe Lament

I know I should simply be thankful that my children have shoes. And I am, really, I am.

And normally I'm a "use it 'till it's used up" kind of gal.

But these Sunday shoes have got to go, and the sooner the better.

Any shoe that a 5 year old cannot put on alone is suspicious, but a shoe that mother and daddy and 5 year old all struggle with? Ridiculous!

We've stomped. We've pulled. We've used kitchen utensils as shoe horns and tried thinner socks. For weeks.

These shoes just weren't made to go on feet. Which kind of defeats the purpose.

And definitely invites lamenting and wailing and stomping on Sunday mornings. By all 3 of us.

I can't seem to get myself to a shoe store, and I've passed up wal-mart's one and only chunky black lace-up "dress" shoe twice now. But I'm rapidly getting to the point that anything would be better than these.

Definitely one thing that won't be going in the hand-me-down box.

And yet... I keep coming back to - "At least we can afford shoes for our children. And multiple pairs, at that!"

And then there is this week's memory verse:
"Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20

Ah well... just a few more weeks and he'll out-grow them.
(And no I do NOT plan on saving them!!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

HOTM - Friday Meme:Giving Thanks

This Friday's Meme at Heart of the Matter - Giving Thanks.

I am thankful for families.

I am thankful that I get to spend every day with a husband who loves me, and 2 precious little boys. I love looking back and thinking about who we were when we met (2 separate individuals) and then looking at us now: a family.
I am thankful for the family I grew up with: parents, sister, and grandparents. I think I got about the best deal a girl could have. They made me who I am today.

I am thankful for the immediate and extended family that have sacrificed so much for us in the past 2 years. Liver disease pretty much takes over your life, and they have all let it take over theirs too.
I am thankful for our church family, who has prayed and given and given and prayed and loved us through so much. We love them too! Add to that churches near and far we have never set foot in, and yet they have loved Alan as one of their own.

I am thankful for a family who lost a precious loved one, and gave through their grief. Their gift, through God's work, gave Alan life. "Thank you" seems like so little, but we are thankful for them beyond words.

Help! Cooking for a crew!

**This post is going up pretty quick after my previous one, so be sure and scroll down for my latest Dale story if you haven't seen it yet. ;) **As some of you already know, Greg is going on a pre-Thanksgiving ski trip.
He will be the only adult in a cabin/condo/whatever with 7 teenage boys.
And it will be his job to cook for them 3 nights!
Oh my and oh dear. This is where I could use your help. What are relatively cheap, easy-to-prepare meals for 8? 8 males who will have spent the day skiing. And will want meat. And lots of it.
And may I mention again easy-to-prepare?

Any suggestions?
(And I know there are a lot of you who aren't bloggers that read this blog. I know you are out there. This would be a great time for you to reveal yourselves and chime in. You can leave a comment "anonymously" and then sign your name. 'kay? Great! Thanks!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Because anything less would be just plain rude

As part of this week's lessons on thankfulness I read Dale the story of the 10 lepers today.
(Luke 17:11-19)

The one about the time Jesus healed 10 lepers and only 1 came back to say 'thank you'.

I wasn't sure if Dale was even listening, so we kind of 'retold' it to each other after I finished reading. And whaddya know? He was listening! He knew the details very well. I'm going to like this
Charlotte Mason narration stuff! :)

So at supper tonight as Dale was telling Daddy what all we'd done in school today he told a shortened version of his Bible story, ending with:

"And only one came back to say thank you!"

(short pause)

"I guess the other nine thanked him before they left."

School - 2nd week of November

Thought I'd share some school stuff from last week.

On Tuesday Dale made a Veterans' Day card for Gramps, complete with two 'army guys' shooting each other. I am sorry to report we still haven't actually given the card to Gramps. Sorry Gramps. We'll get that to you ASAP.

Alan snatched up the scissors one day and has been in love ever since.

Even though he still hasn't cut anything.

Just poking holes in the paper seems fun enough.

Thankfully, Mimi gave him a pair of his very own ALL PLASTIC scissors for his birthday. Because we don't really need any extra cuts, you know what I'm saying?

Other than what you see here, we read several books about Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims. One of Dale's favorites has been
The Magic Schoolbus at the First Thanksgiving. We have also been loving Pilgrim Stories by Margaret Pumphrey - originally published in 1910. I downloaded it for free a couple of weeks ago from this site (Homeschool Freebies!), but I am strongly considering buying my own copy and reading it every year. In addition to our reading we also did a few math and phonics workbook pages every day, along with other odds and ends.

And since Dale is sitting right here beside me, I think we'll go right now and read some more of those books or work on a Thanksgiving project or two!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Alan had a birthday!!

Yes, my friends, our little man is TWO, so we had ourselves a little party.

Here is the honoree himself, with his standard answer to "how old are you?":
You know life is good when you are arm-pit deep in a gift bag!

This face means "open", because, of course, all toys must be immediately opened AND...

Played with!

For a few minutes anyway. Until you can tear yourself away to open more presents. Or move on to... cake!

Alan loves tractors (and pigs, for that matter) and has a couple of different farm sets. I took one of them as my inspiration (and decorations) for his cake.

Those little tan blobs are toasted coconut-covered marshmallows disguised as hay bales. :)

It was either that or a pink pig face. I went the scenic route.

Alan approved, but thought the pig needed to be a little closer to the action:

See now why I dressed him in denim overalls? :)

Mmmmm.... cake.

The fam on Alan's big day:

Happy birthday, my little one! I'm so glad we get to celebrate YOU!

**We could not be celebrating with Alan today if it were not for God's hand in his life and for a very special family somewhere who chose to give life at a time that without a doubt was devastating for them. We are so grateful for this family and their gift of life. If you have not considered organ donation,
please give it some thought. Let your family know your wishes. Lives like Alan's are saved as a result of a gift from strangers.**

Thursday, November 13, 2008

When you have no backside...'s easy to see how quickly you can go from this: to this....
to this:

Would somebody please get that boy a belt!?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - sort of

I had nothing to do with it.
He did it all himself: found the sticker and followed the directions.
I just took the picture. :)

More wordless fun here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The buffaloes go to the zoo

We drove our little herd to the zoo one afternoon recently. Have you ever been to the zoo in the fall? It's very nice! A lot of my trips have been in the summer when it is always very:

1. hot
2. crowded
3. hot

This was Alan's first trip to a zoo, and the first for Dale in over 2 years! Both boys had a blast.

Personally, I loved these guys:
Apparently river otters really know how to nap!
By the way, if you save a photo as "zoo otters" all run together it spells "zoootters". I found that amusing. :)

Isn't this pretty? Another reason to go to the zoo in the fall.
(And have you noticed there aren't any other people in these pics? We practically had the place to ourselves!)

I love it when a person is easy to please. A whole place full of fun animals, and Alan was just as interested in a little creek? ditch? of bubbling running water.
Way to go Alan! That's how to get our money's worth! (never mind the fact he got in for free)

Dale wasn't sure what to think of this guy at first. I'm not sure they ever made friends.
Not only was he not sure of a tree with a face, he was in a hurry to get to these guys:

Aren't they sweet? We'd been reading about giraffes all week while learning the soft 'g' sound, so he was really excited to get to see the real thing. :)

And of course, the elephants are always right around the corner from the giraffes:

See that fancy black fence up there? We stood at that fence and all applied hand sanitizer. In my bumbliness I dropped the lid. In slow motion it bounce-bounce-bounced and rolled under the fence and just out of reach.

We all just kind of stared. I was seriously considering lifting Dale over (there was a very deep and wide water-way beyond the fence and some rocks that divided us from the elephants) but Greg must have read my mind because he quickly informed there were probably security cameras.

Never mind the whole safety issue. We just didn't want to get caught. ;) KIDDING!

So, to our friendly zoo officials: sorry about the litter. Really. I would much rather have kept my lid!

Friday, November 7, 2008

One of the many reasons baby showers are for women...

... and not 5 year old boys.

Mom and I attended a baby shower at our church this week. (Check out what we made for it!)

For some reason I brought Dale with me. With strict instructions on how to sit in one place and not say one word.

I think I made him afraid to talk to all the ladies, even though they all seemed glad to see him.

Refreshment time came around. Dale sat in his chair eating his cookies and punch, and then noticed someone across the room.

"What is she eating on that stick?!"

"A strawberry. You can go get one if you want."

So Dale went to the table and speared some fruit on a toothpick. And enjoyed the whole process very much.

One of the ladies told him, "look Dale! You made a kabob!"

Well. That was even more fun - to know his speared fruit creation had a name.

So he had to go back and make another one.

A different lady was at the refrehsment table this time.

Dale turned to her with his fruit-on-a-mini-stick and said proudly: "Look! A ka-boom!!"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Jingle all the - Hey!

Lisa (aka "My Mom" / aka "Mimi") at Simple Journeys wanted to know if I've got my Jingle on.

Heck yeah! I'm so ready for the holidays! I couldn't have said it better than she did in
her post. Last year: waiting for transplant - yuck. This year: life on the 'flip side' - yay!

To see how different I'm anticipating this Christmas to be from 2007, you should really go read
this post from last year. It made me cry, but mostly in a good way. It made me laugh too. :)

Reading that post will also show you the pics of some of my new decor for this year! I am counting the days until it's time to decorate! I have stuff for a new themed tree and can't decide where I'm going to put it.

I also plan to put up our traditional tree, and maybe even a 'kid' tree! (and I have no idea where we're going to fit all these!)

And while I'm show and tellin', look what I bought myself Greg bought me last night:

And last week I grabbed this CD from the closet to listen to:

I have no idea who that is. But it is easy-to-listen-to (as in doesn't drive me up a wall) Christmas music and that is good enough.

I also bought some gold and silver glitter and these last night:

Don't they look fun? They are for little star/snowflake ornaments.
The glitter? I dunno. Pinecones maybe. Anything is fair game! ;)

So, oh yes my friends, I am feelin' the Jingle. Have you noticed the countdown on my sidebar? You should get one too! :)

Speaking of you... have you got your Jingle on?

Since I've been asked, I'm passing the question on to....

I hope you ladies are getting ready to jingle! Write a blog post and tell everyone all about it! Then ask 3 more friends. :)

And what about you? Are you feeling the Jingle yet?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Oh my goodness! I absolutely cannot believe we have crossed into November already! Time seems to be flying by. We are less than 2 weeks away from Alan's 2nd birthday. And then it's time for Thanksgiving, with Christmas soon to follow!

The fall colors have been exceptional here this year. Dale noticed a new pile of leaves outside our door and couldn't wait to get out and play in them this morning.
I have particularly enjoyed them on our drives the past few weeks.
One drive recently was a beautifully sunny afternoon, with bright fall colors everywhere and my boys in the backseat singing and doing the hand motions to Deep & Wide, This Little Light of Mine and other old favorites.

I tried my very best to soak up every ounce of goodness in those moments as we passed the miles together.

And I've needed the stored goodness lately: for some reason the past couple of weeks have been rough. I've been short-tempered and cranky much more than I would like. And so very tired. I can't seem to get enough sleep! (In fact.... I'm still looking for that hour I was supposed to have gained this weekend, let me know if you find it!)

But today I was reminded once again just how good I've got it.

I was reading
Big Mama, who is on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. She says:
"I was sitting in a shack with a tin roof, filled with four smiling children and a mother who was beaming as she told us how happy their home is because they have Jesus."

How easy it is to forget. To forget what is important. To forget how blessed we are. To forget the true source of all our joy and happiness.

"Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen." Psalm 72: 18-19