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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday Meets Thankful Thursday - I Love You, Grandma

I've had a lot of dreams about my late grandmother recently.  They are very vivid, and the first thing I always do is grab her hand and hug and kiss her, because I'm always aware in the dream that she's no longer with us, and this is a rare opportunity.  I can feel her soft, cool skin in my hand and on my lips and her bony shoulders in my arms.  (She was average weight, but her shoulders were always strangely bony.)  She often looks back at me with a knowing look when I do this.  I'm never sad in the dreams, even though I recognize how much I've missed her and how I'll miss her again when I wake up.  (Of course, I'm bawling as I write this...)

I've been thinking about her more this Christmas than in Christmases past, and I don't know if that's feeding the dreams or if that's because of the dreams.  I just feel strangely connected to her right now.  Whatever the situation, I'm thankful to have these moments with her, in whatever form they come.

I love you, Grandma.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

30 Days of Thankful - Wrap up

We went on vacation, and I slacked off.  Then I brought home a souvenir of the microbial variety, and I just haven't been up to thinking.  Now that that's all in the past, let me ramble about everything for which I was thankful on vacation.

I am thankful for the excitement of first experiences.  Mikey got his first taste of rides at the state fair in October, but he got to go on some all by himself at Busch Gardens.  We couldn't get him out of there!  The poor thing cried at Disney every time someone went on a ride without him.  It's hard to be little.

My children never ceased to be fascinated by the Epcot ball
Ellie got her first taste of big-people rides...and she's hooked
Here they're headed to Splash Mountain, which is now her favorite ride

I am thankful for deepening passions.
Both kids are fascinated by space, so playing astronaut was a highlight of our trip

Ellie was too scared to feed the dolphins just a few months ago.  This time she couldn't have had enough fish to throw!
It's one thing to see wildlife that we've read about in books.  It's another thing to see that wildlife really does start out as a baby, just like us.
I'm thankful for the wonders of nature.

Beautiful Spanish moss

I'm thankful for play.
Waiting in line for Winnie the Pooh
Finally, I'm thankful for childlike enthusiasm.  My children were so excited to see their favorite characters in person.  We met June and Handy Manny at breakfast, Ellie and I searched for Mickey and Pooh, we waited patiently (yes, really!) for Woody and Buzz, and Mikey found every Christmas tree in Florida.  (Okay, that's a slight exaggeration.)  Ellie learned the difference between Mickey and Minnie (and has a new favorite character), and Mikey learned there are characters other than Mickey, Pooh and Elmo.  Both kids ran excitedly up to, well, pretty much everything.  They were thrilled to meet Santa Shamu.  I was a little disappointed to be unable to ride most of the rides, but seeing our trip through my kids' eyes made it so exciting I almost forgot about the rides.  Almost.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

30 Days Of Thankful 11/24/11

Today I'll let the Bible speak for me:

 "The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifullywill also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, "He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!"
~2 Corinthians 9:6-15~

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

30 Days Of Thankful 11/23/11

This week sure has gone fast.  I've missed three more days of blogging!

Today I'm thankful for inspiration.  My very evil friend ;o) likes to raise the bar for mothers everywhere.  She does all the things I want to do but don't feel brave enough.  Eventually she gets so far down my to-do list that I have to try to catch up.  I will admit that she has, however unintentionally, challenged me and stretched me to success beyond my own belief.  Another mother who inspires me is Michelle Duggar.  Her faith, strength, devotion, discipline, hearing ear and willing feet help me overcome my own faith struggles, especially where parenting is concerned.  Finally, I'd like to mention another mother who inspires me to be faithful and trust God.  She is faithful to pray for me and trusts me to pray for her.  She works very hard to repair weaknesses in her walk, and she does it very publicly, for which I am very grateful.  There are many other people from whom I draw inspiration for the different areas of my life.  I am so grateful to God for putting these people in my path.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fly, Monarch! Fly!

Let me start by saying how we came to read this book tonight, a story that illustrates what I love about unschooling.

Ellie was playing with one of her ladybug pillows when she started asking questions: "What do ladybugs turn into?  What are they before they turn into ladybugs?"  Well, as it happens, I have a book about the life cycle of a ladybug that I picked up on a recent trip to the library in search of butterfly books, another of Ellie's requests.  I thought this book was wonderful.  Here is more information about it, including my review.

After we finished that book, Ellie insisted on reading a few more library books, including Fly, Monarch!  Fly!  I really liked this book as well - I linked my review, but I like the extras the book contained, like a butterfly sandwich recipe and a craft.  Ellie, of course, was all about the craft, so we did it after dinner.

It was a simple craft: Sketch a butterfly on orange paper, color and cut out, cut out and affix antennae, and affix dots and magnet.  The sketch part was too hard for Ellie, so I outlined her butterfly, but she did the rest, short of cutting out the antennae.

Ellie's is a bit more abstract

I decided mine needed eyes

30 Days Of Thankful 11/19/11

Yes, I missed a few days.  I've been a little sleepy lately thanks to a growing baby, and nighttime posts are the first to be forgotten.  Appropriately, what I've been most thankful for lately is said baby's movement.  Besides reassuring me, Angela's movement is helping her already bond with her brother and sister.  She kicks like mad when they are on my lap, and they can feel it.  They think it's hilarious.  Mikey, 2, said, "Don't get me, Baby Angela!"  I think it's great that she starts to kick when she hears them get close and stops when they are clearly out of her range.  I've also been experiencing the alien-in-the-belly movements, which are always entertaining, especially when they knock something off my lap.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

30 Days Of Thankful 11/15/11

Today I'm thankful for marriage.  God has not only given me the gift of a husband to be my partner in life, but He has worked in our lives to make our marriage better and better.  As of today, our 8th wedding anniversary, we are the closest we've ever been.  Over these eight years, we've been tested in ways we couldn't have imagined, and we survived, by the grace of God.  God has changed us, allowed our hearts to break, healed them to be even stronger than before, shown us our strength and stamina...and He put us through it all together.  God is good, and everything He creates is good, and we will experience that goodness as long as we let Him have control.  I pray that Mike and I will continue to give God more and more control of our lives so that our marriage and our family can be rich beyond our dreams.

Monday, November 14, 2011

30 Days Of Thankful 11/14/11

Today I am thankful for having an open mind.  My new OB (at a birth center) went through a laundry list of concerns/questions/homework for me, and I was able to say I've already done or I'm already doing most of it because I've been exploring all my healthcare options for years.  I have a complete box of tools covering mind, body, soul and any combination thereof that we easily pinpointed specific areas to tackle next.  I thank God for putting these wonderful care providers in my path.

30 Days Of Thankful 11/13/11

Today I am thankful for insomnia...sometimes.  Not only could I not sleep last night, I had bundles of energy.  I stayed up until 7am completing a project (emptying the toy box and making decisions) that had been put on hold for days because I couldn't do it with little eyes watching.  I still got almost four hours of sleep, and I wasn't even tired all day!  These pregnancy hormones are cuh-ra-Z.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

For the love of writing

I didn't enjoy writing as a child.  I hated it, actually.  Thank you notes, paragraph-long stories, what-I-want-for-Christmas compositions, every essay in school...they were agony.  I never enjoyed writing until my senior year of high school when we had mandatory free writing every day in English class.  Something about writing anything I wanted until a timer went off appealed to me.

I'm glad writing and I finally became friends, but I'd love for my children to enjoy writing from the beginning.  Tonight I read a fantastic article with great ideas for inspiring children to write.  Journaling, letter writing, emailing and postcard exchanging are ways she inspires her little girl to write.

On a related note, I believe in making children write thank you notes.  I do, however, do what I can to make them enjoyable to write so that my children don't come to resent the task.  I also keep the note writing age appropriate.  For example, for a first birthday, I might trace their hand and let them scribble a bit with a crayon.  For the second birthday, I might let them go crazy with stickers.  Actually, that's exactly what I've done with my two so far, but the next child could have different likes and skills.

Mikey just finished his thank you notes for his second birthday.  He enjoyed making them, so much so that Ellie got a little jealous, so I handed her a pile of Christmas cards, thanks to Daddy's genius.  Mikey had to get in on the Christmas card madness, too.  The only downside to all this was Ellie's disappointment that the cards we mail don't come back to us.  Somebody send this poor girl some mail!  :o)

She colored ornaments on the tree and added a star
Ellie noticed that the trees on the cards were triangles, so I gave her a bunch of foam triangle stickers and let her go to town

30 Days Of Thankful 11/12/11

I just read that Baby Anaya may soon go to Heaven.  Someone commented that between this sad reality and the recent loss of a loved one in her life, she was beginning to question God.  I thought back to those times before Mikey's surgeries when I questioned God.  But I questioned God directly, and He answered with a peace I couldn't have imagined.

Today I'm thankful for my relationship with God, the kind that allows me to be brutally honest AND get a healing answer.

Friday, November 11, 2011

30 Days Of Thankful 11/11/11

Today I'm thankful for all the men and women who have served our country in the Armed Forces.  I'm proud to have a number of family members who have served.  I definitely do not want to miss the opportunity to tell my favorite veteran that I'm thinking about him today.  I love you, Pampa!

Hand trees and thumbprint leaves

I saw this craft on Pinterest, or at least I saw each part of it in other crafts.  We had a lot of fun, although the kids' didn't turn out quite like my vision.

Inspired by a rogue print on Ellie's, I added falling leaves to mine

Ellie was so happy when I pointed out her falling leaf that she decided they should all be falling

Poor Mikey's looks like the victim of a forest fire

Thursday, November 10, 2011

30 Days Of Thankful 11/10/11

Today I'm thankful for curiosity.  Ellie may ask 5000 questions a day, but if she didn't, I wouldn't experience the joy of hearing how her mind works and how much she's learning every day.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

30 Days Of Thankful 11/9/11

Today I am thankful for my hair.  No, it's not shallow.  I recently chopped off my hair for Locks of Love, so I can now wear it down all the time and allow my children to brush it.  I used to feel bad always telling my children "No!" whenever they tried to brush my hair, but even if it was down, it tangled painfully.  They got so much enjoyment tonight out of brushing my hair with tiny play brushes, and I got a free head massage out of the deal.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30 Days Of Thankful 11/8/11

Today I am thankful for one-on-one time with my oldest.  I've had lots of time with my son because of his many appointments.  (I made the best of the situation by making that our time.)  Ellie kinda got the short end of the stick, and there aren't many opportunities for us to be alone.  I forgot how much fun we can have together, just the two of us.

Spontaneous Fall Crafts

To get Ellie to eat finish her dinner, I told her I'd teach her how to use stencils when she was done.  She's already been tracing her own hand, so I knew she was ready.  She did well, but she bored with the stencil use quickly, as is her style with any craft not including glue, so I gave her stamps.  Still, we had fun.

That's an upside-down Liberty Bell and a star to the left and an upside-down steaming pie to the right.
Ellie asked to do another craft, so I gave her paper to tear and figured we'd do some sort of hand-print tree/fall leaf craft.  I rummaged through my paper pile and found some packing paper that was perfect for a tree trunk.  I traced our hands and forearms on the paper and applied glue to the hand area of the opposite side on which I traced, and we stuck away.  Then I cut out the hands and arm and glued them onto paper of our choice.  An older or more practiced child could have applied the glue and done the tracing and cutting as well.

30 Days Of Thankful 11/7/11

Today I'm thankful for clearsightedness, especially when it comes to decluttering.  I left my house with no idea what I could purge and came back with an extensive list, with nobody's help but God's!  Sometimes it's the simple things...

Menu Plan Monday 11/7/11-11/13/11

Review of last week:

Meaty Monday: Slow Cooker French Dip with fresh fruit and veggies
Delicious as always!  I forgot to mention we butter and toast the rolls and then add caramelized onions and provolone cheese for those who want it...I prefer no cheese.

Tasty Tuesday: Simple Slow Cooker Picante Chicken (I always add extra veggies to the slow cooker) over rice with fresh fruit

Hit with the big one and hubby as always.  I didn't feel like chopping veggies, so I cooked up garlic green beans as a side.

Wild Card Wednesday: Mommy and Daddy are eating out before Bradley class with theBowmans; kiddos are eating organic chicken nuggets, green beans and fruit

Ended up sharing the nuggets.  They were good!  I love Earth's Best Organic.

Spaghetti Night: Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter only with green beans, since hubby doesn't like asparagus, and without Parmesan, since the big one (Ellie) and I aren't supposed to have dairy

Pretty good.  I added a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end because it wasn't strong enough for me.  Hubby ate the huge plate I served him and said we could keep it on the menu.  I decided to add browned, cubed chicken breast, and I'm glad I did because that's all the big one ate.  The wee one loved the green beans.

Free-for-all Friday: Leftovers if we have any, freezer raid if we don't
The neighbor kids were touting their tacos, and Ellie and I thought that sounded good, so I made some.

Now for this week:

Wild Card Monday: Organic Chicken Nuggets and fresh fruit for the kiddos while Daddy and I eat out before our Bradley class

Tasty Tuesday: Eating out after Ellie's swim class

Meaty Wednesday: Sprite roast (beef roast, packet of onion soup mix, can of cream of mushroom soup, can of Sprite, slow cooker low all day), mashed potatoes and cauliflower

Spaghetti Thursday: Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta (recommended by Jessie), honey butter green beans (saute beans in butter until just browning, remove from heat and stir in honey) and fresh fruit

Free-for-all Friday: Yummy leftovers!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

30 Days Of Thankful 11/6/11

Today I'm thankful for the majesty and vastness of the night sky.  As we were loading the kids in the car to head out to Mikey's birthday dinner (gourmet...KFC), I spotted a very bright and clear satellite overhead.  I had time to run in and get my camera and catch this shot of the International Space Station at 6pm tonight 11/6/11 (to the right in the picture)!  Want to see it for yourself?  Look here for times.  I was also lucky enough to spot either Venus or Mercury to the west (there were so many clouds I only saw one, and I don't know which one) and Jupiter to the east.  It was a magical evening!

30 Days Of Thankful 11/5/11

Today I am thankful that Mikey is still with us.  As he slept in my arms this morning, snoring in my face, I though about how, at his first birthday, we didn't know if he'd making it to his second birthday because he was facing open heart surgery.  I didn't remember having that thought until I held him this morning, and I thanked God that He let him not only live but thrive.  We had a great party today, too!