Wednesday, December 31, 2008

His Mercy is New: WELCOME!! (and contest!)

Candace, a homeschooling friend, has moved her blog and is having a blog-warming contest! She is an amazing homeschool mom who posts all kinds of fun ideas and activities that she's doing with her kids . . . you should check it out!

His Mercy is New: WELCOME!! (and contest!)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Real mothers

I received this in an email from my sister -- a mother of three (including a TEENAGER) -- it made me smile . . . but I had to add a bit of commentary found in brackets:

Real mothers don't eat quiche; they don't have time to make it. [I actually do make quiche, and my husband eats it, too! ;)]

Real mothers know that their kitchen utensils are probably in the sandbox [or being used to create playdoh sculptures].

Real mothers often have sticky floors, filthy ovens [don't even look in mine; the microwave could use a little work right now too] and happy kids [at least most of the time].

Real mothers know that dried play dough doesn't come out of carpets [which is why we don't use playdoh anywhere NEAR carpet].

Real mothers don't want to know what the vacuum just sucked up. [Fortunately, we have a bagless that we can recover any "treasures" that were inadvertantly vacuumed up].

Real mothers sometimes ask 'Why me?' and get their answer when a little voice says, 'Because I love you best.' [Jaden is famous for saying, "I love you, you're special and you're precious!"]

Real mothers know that a child's growth is not measured by height or years or grade . . .

It is marked by the progression of Mommy to Mom to Mother...

The years pass so very quickly, and they are growing up so fast. Some days I'd like to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head -- or at least change my name for a couple of hours -- but I'm so thankful to be a mommy. I can't imagine my life any other way! It just doesn't get any better than this!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Making memories

It's been a busy month, filled with lots of family get-togethers and special activities . . .

. . . like the annual Martin family Christmas dinner.
Here are Lael and Jaden with Great-Grandma Irene and her husband Clarence.

Then last week was the annual Martin family Christmas dinner at Shady Maple Smorgasbord.
Here, Great-Grandpa Paul and Great-Grandma Esther pose with their great-grandchildren!

On Saturday night we went with friends to Chriskindlmarkt, a huge Christmas craft festival. There was so much to see, like this enormous Nutcracker!

Outside there were several beautiful ice sculptures -- Lael found another Nutcracker to pose with!
Jaden enjoyed climbing the snow piles more than anything, but he did stop long enough to give these two little penguins a pat on the head! Even more than the gifts and toys that our children will find under the tree this year, they will remember the special traditions that make our Christmas celebration special . . . and unforgettable!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Eight years ago . . .

Eight years ago, our lives changed forever . . .

Eight years ago, God gave us a miracle . . . and today we celebrate that miracle!

Lael entered the world ahead of our schedule, but she was right on time according to God's calendar!
Weighing only 1 pound, 3 ounces, she was the epitome of the good things that come in small packages.
She was so small that my wedding band was her bracelet, but she could cup my finger in her palm and hold on tight!
Over the years, she has grown . . .
. . . but she's always kept her beautiful smile and her love for Jesus!
Happy 8th birthday, princess! You are such a treasure to me, and I thank God for the joy of being your mommy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Our field trip to the Morning Call!

We had so much fun yesterday . . . we went to our local newspaper for a "behind-the-scenes" tour of how they make the newspaper that we get on Sundays -- and yes, they print newspapers every day, but we only get the Sunday paper because it's the only day we have time to read it ;)

In the lobby of the Morning Call . . .

eagerly anticipating the start of our tour!

We began our tour looking at an old printing press. We could see where they would set the type to print the paper. Pictured along with Daddy and the kids is "Mr. Bob" -- our wonderful tour guide and member of our church.

This room was filled with rolls of paper stacked up to the ceiling! Each roll of paper weighs about 1800 pounds (or -- as my husband told the kids -- about 9 daddies)!
This room is where the paper is fed up to the actual printing room, which is on the floor above. These machines are set up so that the paper can be continually fed without having to stop printing to change rolls of paper. Depending on the length of a particular day's paper, they can go through 9 or 10 rolls of paper to print one day's newspapers.
These are the actual presses where the printing happens . . .
. . . and a section of the paper is being printed.
The press prints the paper, splits the page in half, folds and assembles each section. It was pretty cool watching the finished section fly off the assembly line! (No idea what section it was, though, because it was moving so fast.)
Here the finished sections hang from a conveyor belt and travel to the next room.
In this room, different sections are assembled and "stuffed" -- for example, the comics section (which is Lael's favorite) gets stuffed with coupons and sales flyers. Each section gets stuffed only with the sales flyers for stores in that region.
This is the assembly line that is stuffing the comic section for next Sunday's paper.

Wow, what a fun trip! Lael was excited to sneak a peek at the comics for next Sunday, while Jaden loved all the noisy machines (and the ear plugs he got to wear while we were in those rooms). Thank you so much to "Mr. Bob" for arranging this wonderful tour for us! Now the kids have decided that we should write our own newspaper -- so stay tuned to see what happens with that!

First visit to see the Nutcracker!

Lael was surprised on Saturday with a trip to Symphony Hall to see the Nutcracker! We had attended a program at our library at the beginning of the month featuring some of the dancers from the local reparatory dance company. The dancer who played Clara read the story of the Nutcracker to the children, then the dancers shared some of the dances from the ballet with the children -- they even got the children up to participate with them.

Ever since that visit, Lael has talked about the Nutcracker ballet and wanting to see it "someday" -- little did she know how soon "someday" would come!

Here she is -- all ready to go -- but she doesn't yet know where she's going!
(We waited to tell her until we were ready to climb into the car.)

Lael and our special friend "Miss Pat" waiting for the ballet to begin -- this trip came about at Miss Pat's invitation!

The cast at the curtain call! They were magnificent!
Lael's favorite character was Clara -- partly because she had been able to meet her at the library program. She also loved watching the Sugar Plum Fairy dance.
Lael's favorite scenes: The battle between the toy soldiers and the mice, as well as the dance with the Snow Queen and the snowflakes (that was Mommy's favorite also)
What a wonderful, memory-making time! Thanks so much, Miss Pat, for such a special afternoon.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Our little ballerina

Here's our sweet ballerina! Her ballet class was asked to be part of the Christmas musical this past weekend at the church where the ballet class meets.

There are 11 girls in the class, but two of them have become special friends.

And this is "Miss Lea" -- her wonderful teacher. Lea is a senior at a performing arts high school, and she is doing a fabulous job teaching the girls ballet and tap dance.

I know these pictures are a bit dark . . . but they were the best we could do! Lael is the fourth girl from the left -- she was in the second row.
The girls really did a fantastic job, especially since they only had four weeks to work on the choreography! Lael told us afterwards that she was nervous until she stepped out onto the stage, and after that it was just fun!

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas!

It's our family tradition to decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving so we can maximize our enjoyment of the tree and lights. So on the 29th we set out to decorate our tree and mantle. (Yes, we have a little tree -- which worked really well when we had a little house, but I think we will have to upgrade at some point.)

After we finished decorating, we watched 101 Dalmatians (the cartoon version) and then we started a new tradition . . . we had a family sleepover in the living room!
Here's Daddy with his boy . . .
. . . and his girl!
Then when we got up on Saturday morning, we went out for breakfast, where we gave the kids the ornaments we had selected for them and talked about why we chose those particular ornaments. Both kids decided that we should do this every year (and Mommy and Daddy agree)!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Operation Christmas Child 2008

This year we participated in Operation Christmas Child, sponsored by Samaritan's Purse, for the very first time. I think this will become an annual tradition . . . we had so much fun!

Lael and Jaden helped pick out items for their shoeboxes -- they each filled a box geared for children the same ages as they are. In addition to school supplies and hygiene items, they picked out coloring books, small toys and candy for fun treats! Then they decorated the outside of the boxes with LOTS of stickers!
Then it was time to deliver the boxes . . . we went to our local drop-off location with some ladies from church.

Here's the trailer truck that will carry our shoeboxes -- plus many more!
Just a few of the thousands of shoeboxes that came to this location!
They even had snacks as special thank-you treats for those dropping off boxes! Lael and Jaden thought that was great!
Lael and Jaden with "Miss Doris" and "Miss Joanne" from church - they teach Mission Minded Kids - and Lynnette Dallmann (in the red scarf) who is the area coordinator for Operation Christmas Child.
The most precious memory I have of this experience is hearing my children pray for the children who will receive the boxes they put together.
Lael prayed that they would have joy and peace and that they would be happy.
Jaden's prayer was simply that the little boy who would get his box would know God and ask Jesus to be his Savior.
As they were praying in the car once again while we drove to the drop-off center, my eyes filled with tears as I realized that even though there are many things we are still working on with our children, they understand what is most important -- that everyone needs to know the love that only God gives and that we have been blessed so that we can be a blessing to others.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

White meat or dark meat?

When you eat turkey, do you like white meat or dark meat the best? That's the question of the day! We're conducting a poll and want to know what your favorite is! You can leave a comment with your vote right here on Mommy's blog. Please note that Mommy checks all comments before they go on her blog -- she says it's called "moderating" -- and so you won't see your comment right away, but don't worry! She'll get it up as fast as she can.

We will be using this data in our Thanksgiving lapbooks -- and we'll even make a graph to show our results. Mommy will also post the results here next week. Now we know you're all busy getting ready for Thanksgiving (at least Mommy is), but we will be closing the polls on Sunday, November 30th! So hurry and get your vote in . . . after all, every vote counts!

Thanks for voting!
Lael and Jaden

Monday, November 24, 2008

Time for pumpkin pie . . . playdough!

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I decided to surprise my kids with some pumpkin pie that they can really get into -- pumpkin pie playdough! Here's the recipe - I got it from another homeschooling mom:

Pumpkin Pie Playdough
(Note: I doubled this recipe)

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup water
food coloring (6 drops red and 15 drops yellow) - I used orange paste food coloring because I had it in my cupboard

Combine the dry ingredients in a saucepan. Add the oil, water and food coloring and whisk until smooth. Stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, cook over medium heat until it forms a ball, about 3 to 4 minutes). My note: I look for the consistency of mashed potatoes when I'm making playdough, but I like my mashed potatoes thick. So if you're a soft potatoes fan, don't use that rule! You want the playdough to pull together and not be sticky to the touch.
Turn the dough onto the counter, let it cool slightly. . .
. . . then knead the dough until it has a smooth texture (about one minute). Store in a plastic container or ziploc bag.
Then let your kids loose to have fun! Rolling pins, cookie cutters, plastic silverware all make great accessories!
Lael made pumpkin pie snowmen . . . can you tell that we're waiting for snow here?!

Not only is this playdough a fun color, but it smells SOOO good . . . almost good enough to eat!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Personal Experience Meme

I've often seen memes on other blogs, and this is a really simple one, so I thought I’d try it! All you have to do is copy and paste this list of items and then highlight or bold (I put mine in bold and italics to make it easier to read) the ones that you have personally experienced! I saw this over on Candace's blog! If you put this on your blog, please leave me a comment so I can check it out!

1. Started your own blog - obviously
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band - does junior high concert band count?
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (from the beach)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset - I love them!
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain - and in the snow!
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
So there you have it . . . did you learn anything new about me?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Daddy's little helper!

Daddy told Jaden that he could help sweep the fallen leaves off our sidewalk onto the street for the street cleaner to take them away. (Now the street cleaner comes by our house at about 8:00 AM on Daddy's day off.)

So -- of course, Jaden was awake bright and EARLY on Monday morning and the first thing he said to me was, "Mommy, can you help me get dressed? I've got to go outside and help Daddy sweep the leaves!" (Mind you, at this point, Daddy is still in bed.) So we woke Daddy up and got both boys bundled up -- it was pretty chilly on Monday morning!

Here's Daddy's helper - all bundled up with rake in hand.
Both boys worked very hard! They cleared the sidewalk for our neighbors as well.
I think Jaden had a bit of a "mitten malfunction" or something.
Jaden had so much fun helping Daddy . . . although Daddy probably would have enjoyed it more if it had been a little later in the day (and slightly warmer outside)!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Our Thanksgiving school plans

Well, November is upon us and Thanksgiving is right around the corner! (We won't even TALK about how quickly it will be Christmas time!) Anyway, I thought I'd share some of the wonderful books that we will focus on this week. My plan is to focus on the Pilgrims this week and native Americans next week. We will wrap up our Thanksgiving unit on Thanksgiving week as we talk about the first Thanksgiving.

I really love these books about Pilgrim life and the Mayflower. They all are illustrated with photographs taken at Plimoth Plantation and on the Mayflower II, replicas of the original sites. I hope to one day take our children there for a "field trip', but for now, we'll have to content ourselves with the books.

Sarah Morton's Day talks about life for a Pilgrim girl.

Samuel Eaton's Day is the counterpart, sharing what life was like for a Pilgrim boy.

And On the Mayflower chronicles what the journey on the Mayflower was like from the perspective of a ship's apprentice and a young girl traveling without her parents.

I discovered this book last year . . . it's by Patricia Polacco, one of our favorite authors. This book talks about the Jewish holiday of Sukkoth, a celebration of the harvest and thanks to God for His provision.
And then there are the "fun" books -- books we will read as we cuddle up on the couch!
This book is great -- it teaches the chorus of the hymn "Count Your Blessings" and lists things to be thankful for in a style reminiscent of "One, Two Buckle My Shoe".
And this is our new favorite this year . . . so sweet! We've read it several times already!
A lot of what we do this month will be focusing on history -- learning about the Pilgrims and native Americans: what they ate and wore, where they lived and how they spent their time each day. For Bible time, we are working on memorizing Psalm 100 and making "Thankful Turkeys" where we will add tail feathers for each thing that we are thankful for. (I'll try to post a picture of that as we add to it.)
Most of all, I really want the next two months especially to be full of memories we make together. So often, the months of November and December are just a blur of one activity or project after another. I want to SLOW DOWN and savor each moment . . . each book we read, each activity we do, even the silly things my sweet children do. Childhood is so fleeting and they are growing up right before my eyes. I don't want to miss a moment of this precious time by being too busy to enjoy it.
So that's my plan . . . feel free to check in with me and ask me how I'm doing! ;)