Make it Monday – Rubbings

I love being outside – but I hate yard work!  If you’ve ever been to my house, you could probably guess as much.  So, little by little, I’ve been trying to get my overgrown garden under control.  It is really tough on a busy street with two little ones.  My neighbors don’t seem to have the same problem as I do, however, as their yards are lovely, so I’m open to other good excuses if you have any!

So, the boys are coming out with me and helping me to collect weeds and debris in my yard bags.  To make it fun, they are on a special mission to find the coolest items for making rubbings.  We will continue this until they catch on that they are doing work.  After each rubbing we can talk about what didn’t come out clearly, and what we want to try to get more of to rub again.

Image courtesy of http://www.veganfamily.co.uk/

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Make it Monday – Bird’s Nest

While walking in a local city last week, we spotted a bird building a nest above a sign on a building.  In fact, we noticed it because the bird was dropping quite a few twigs right where we were walking.

Watching this, but having a bit of an obstructed view led to the questions, “How do birds make nests?” and “Is it easy to make a nest?”  I wasn’t sure I could really accurately answer these questions, so I said we would find out.

We did a bit of research on how birds build nests.  It turns out different birds build nests differently.  So, I took a guess at what kind of bird we saw that day, and we looked into how that bird built its nest.

Next, we saw if we could build a nest with things we could find in our yard.  We spoke about how it would probably be more difficult to build it without hands like birds do.

Anyhow, the nest isn’t pretty, but we made it.  Just wanted to share to show that sometimes not being able to answer a question can end up being better than knowing all of the answers!

Thoughtful Thursday – Count Your Blessings

The past few weeks have been really difficult for me.  I’ve been through quite a bit, but what I keep coming back to is how truly blessed I really am.  I think I better  understand what joy is now.  I’ve heard people speak of joy in church for years, and kind of just thought it meant really long happiness.  It doesn’t.  Joy is still there in your heart when you’re feeling devastated.  You can look around, no matter what is going on, and know that you have great hope in Jesus and you have been truly blessed.

Last night my head was spinning, and I couldn’t fall asleep.  I watched a terrible episode of Wife Swap where a very materialistic woman swapped lives with a family living without electricity in a log cabin.  She was cruel to them and looked down on the way they lived.  I kept thinking about how sad for that woman that she couldn’t see that she was valuing the wrong things.  It was obvious she doesn’t have joy.

And all through my struggles the past few weeks, I feel like I’ve realized more and more how really blessed I am in so many ways.  I am.  I feel like the richest woman in the world.  So, last night, as I tossed and turned, I heard Bing Crosby in my head singing, “if you’re tired and you can’t sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep, and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.”

I’m behind in my posts, and also in my replies to some of your emails.  I will try to get on that when I can.  For now, here’s some pictures of what’s been going on here, and my attempts at being intentional the past few weeks.  There not full posts about them, but let me know if you have any questions about what we did (also suggestions), and I’d be happy to reply.

 

Weekend Activity – Easter Eggs

We played with plastic Easter eggs this weekend.  We’ve played with them over the past few weeks, but I finally got some pictures.

Some eggs were put in cartons for the boys to open and play with.  I wish we had the cardboard cartons too, but right now, this is all we have.  It just gave them a chance to explore, sort, and rearrange them.  I think their favorite part was spilling them out and pretending they broke.

I also filled some eggs with different items, and had Joe sort them by what he thought was inside.  We’ve done this a few times with a few different materials, and I think the sounds from the oatmeal, marble, and dried black beans are the most fun and the most distinctive.  You don’t need to tape the eggs, we didn’t every time, to allow the boys to look inside, but we did this time because they were particularly cheap eggs.

I left the actual materials that filled the eggs out so they could be explored as  well.  When he sorted, Joe placed the egg next to the material he thought was inside each time.  When we were done sorting, we all sang and used the eggs as shakers for our songs.  The favorite was:

Shake it baby, shake it

Shake it if you can.

Shake it like a milkshake,

And drink it if you can.

Rumble to the bottom,

Rumble tot he top,

Then turn around and turn around

Until you make a STOP!

Bonus – Saint Patrick’s Day

I know Saint Patrick’s Day was over a few weeks ago, but I wanted to post this, and never got to it.

Have you heard of the Shamrock Shake?  Did you have one?  As I get older things like the machines that shakes come out of gross me out more and more, so even though they looked great, I couldn’t bring myself to buy one.  So, we made our own!

Guess what?  You can have them any time of year!

I didn’t measure, but will guess about what I added.  Of course you can play with it and see what you like.

1 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream

1 1/2 cup milk

5 mint leaves

5 drops food coloring

 

You could also use mint extract.  More ice cream makes it thicker.  Add milk and leaves first to dice leaves, then add other ingredients.  All four of us loved having this for dessert on St. Patrick’s Day!

Thoughtful Thursday – The Spouse

I had my hair done today by a nice woman who was going through many things in her life.  She was telling me about how she and her husband were in the process of getting divorced.  Her four-year old son was having a difficult time with the many changes and inconsistencies going on in his life.  My heart went out to her.  Not only did she have to deal with all of her own feelings about what was going on, but she also worried a great deal about what her son was going through.

As I sat there, pretending to read a magazine while she worked with another client, I began to think about how much parents’ relationships can affect children.  I’m not writing this post to bash single parents.  Their jobs are more difficult than I could imagine.  Instead, I really wanted to encourage those parents that are lucky enough to still be married to keep going!

Marriage can be difficult!  It is something that really needs to be worked on daily.  Spouses that have good relationships really can instill a sense of stability in their children.  I encourage you, no matter where your relationship is at right now, to work at it!

This is a topic that I went over in my small group at my church in the past year.  We discussed that the marriage relationship should take priority over the relationship between parent and child.

No one is perfect, and unfortunately, I think many of us yearn for perfect partners.  I know I have.  Realistically, I feel blessed to have a partner that is willing to work to improve himself and our relationship.  I’ve also found that focusing more on improving myself than on what my spouse needs to improve upon really makes  our relationship better.

In no way am I a relationship expert, but I’ve read a few books, gone through a few groups, and will be celebrating our ten-year anniversary this summer.  Each year I find myself more appreciative of the man my husband is and I’ve enjoyed growing together with him over the years.  There is not doubt that having children was challenging for our marriage.  We certainly had to establish more ground rules for certain situations just to get us through some days.  We choose to honor our vows in those bad times, but we have seen the rewards that work on our marriage can have.  We hope to give our children a sense of security through our marriage.  We also strive to be good examples of spouses to them, so that when they are looking for mates, they choose the right kind of person that can respect and love them.  Finally, we work on our marriage so that one day when our children have moved on, we still know each other and are excited to move on to the next stage in our lives.

So I thought maybe some quick tips on how to keep your marriage strong would be nice.  I have a few, but I’d love to hear yours!!!

– Pray together.  Keep a prayer journal if you can.  You’ll have a chance to connect and talk about what’s going on in your lives and minds, and to stay connected in your goals.  You also have the chance to connect together with the maker of the universe, which is pretty awesome.  The couple that prays together, stays together!

– Learn what your love languages are

– Kiss each other like you mean it

– Be intentional about weekly time together (sorry, had to throw and intentional in there)

What are your tips?

Bonus – Soup!

Our dining room is a mess.  That’s my secret.  That is how I get my kids to eat a variety of foods and have the fine motor skills to do it independently.

We let them try.  We don’t clean up during dinner (also sometimes we don’t clean up after lunch or breakfast).  Yes, we’ll probably wipe up at the end of the day or if people are coming over, but not during meal time.  We let the kids do their best, and don’t worry if their best is all over the floor.

Matthew was recently very pleased with himself after pretty successfully eating a bowl of soup.  I thought I’d share:

This is Trader Joe’s creamy tomato soup by the way (which everyone in the family is a big fan of).  He had 1/2 a grilled cheese sandwich as well, which you can tell was not as popular as the soup.

On a side note, the boys have a new cousin named Catherine.  We are so excited to meet her.  I bet you want a picture, but I am on strict orders not to post a picture!!  (Just picture a really cute little baby girl with lots of pretty dark hair and eyes).  Congratulations Uncle Dan and Aunt Lizz!!!!!