Monday, January 26, 2009

Ice sculptures (Part 2)

I know you've probably been waiting so long to find out what happened with our ice sculptures . . . so here they are -- the long-awaited pictures!

These are the "building blocks" - all the colored ice that Jaden and I made!

And here are some of our creations . . .

This was the tallest stack we were able to construct (and manage to take a picture of before it toppled over)
And these are Popper's Performing Penguins on their way to their next performance destination by train!
A couple of things we learned from this activity:
  • It's hard to stack ice blocks if they haven't frozen flat -- and most of ours didn't freeze flat
  • Next time we do this, we need more square and rectangle-shaped blocks for greater ease of building
  • Another "next time" lesson -- color the water in larger quantities, not by putting food coloring into the individual containers -- the ice ended up being too darkly colored and ended up staining our hands
  • Gingerbread ice people break very easily -- this was devastating to Jaden when both of his ice people lost a limb rather early in the play time
  • Mittens or gloves are the proper attire for this particular activity!

While it was a fun activity, it's not one we'll do every day . . . but it definitely added some "color" to our day!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ice sculptures (Part 1)

So Jaden and I had the night together at home while Daddy was at class and Lael was at ballet. What to do? Well, make colored ice cubes, of course! ;-) Thanks to Candace, another homeschooling mom, for this fun idea!

We filled all sorts of small containers with water and then used food coloring to tint the water. (And it was a fun way to review primary and secondary colors at the same time!)

When we were done, we took all the molds out to the back porch so they could freeze overnight. Then tomorrow we will actually use these colored ice cubes to build sculptures. We even made some "people" to go along with whatever we create.
We definitely needed something fun -- it's been too long of a stretch of really cold weather - but not much snow to enjoy. I decided that if this winter means ice all the time, we needed to find a way to enjoy it.

Please stay tuned to see what amazing creations Lael and Jaden come up with! I can hardly wait!

God is so amazing!

I was doing some research on snowflakes as part of our winter unit for school and I came across some amazing photos of snowflakes. I was just reminded how amazingly creative our God is! Here are some of my favorites:
Our God truly is an awesome God . . . all you have to do is look at His creation to be reminded of that! BTW: Here's the link if you want to see more: Snowflake Photos

Monday musings . . .

I was listening to a preview chat for the Ultimate Women's Expo with Cindy Rushton recently, and the speaker gave a new definition of trust that I've been pondering ever since:

Stress and

She encouraged us to study and discover the richness of the names of God, reminding us that "you can't trust what you don't know!" This was an incredibly timely word for me, since we've been going through some "stress and trial" recently. Do I totally rely on God, despite what my circumstances are saying . . . because of what I KNOW of Him?

When I stop and consider what He has revealed to us about Himself through His names, I can draw so much strength and comfort from that knowledge. He is:

  • Jehovah Jireh - my Provider
  • Jehovah Shalom - my Peace
  • Jehovah Rophe - my Healer
  • Jehovah Nissi - my Banner
  • El Shaddai - the Strong One who is tender with me
  • El Roi - the One who sees

He is sovereign and in control -- nothing is outside of His notice. He's never caught off-guard by the things that try to "rock my world" . . . He knew everything about me before I ever existed. He is my Savior, Messiah, Redeemer and Friend. And He is the same yesterday, today and forever! If there was ever anyone worthy of my trust, it is Him!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

SNOW . . . well, sort of!

We got snow on Saturday! Yay! The problem? It was supposed to be 3 to 6 inches of snow, but it turned out to be about 1 and 1/2. Oh, well . . . when God gives you snow, go out and play in it! And that's exactly what Lael and Jaden did with Daddy!

It looks like they're out there playing at midnight, but it was about 5:30. We held out as long as possible hoping that "the big snow" would come after all. By 5:00, we knew we'd have some disappointed kiddos if they didn't get out there. Besides, you don't need that much snow to have a snowball fight with Daddy! ;)The kids had fun . . . Daddy was just plain cold! (He's such a wonderful daddy, don't you think?!)

Watch out though! We will get a big snow this winter! How do I know? Because I've got two children who have been praying for snow since probably July of last year! So we're ready for it here . . . are you?

Before and after

Okay, I'll admit it . . . I am organizationally challenged. I don't want to be . . . I'm not sure why it's so hard for me to maintain order. I mean, I'm a fairly intelligent person (or so I've been told). It just seems that clutter finds me wherever I am.

But I am determined to tame the clutter this year . . . one bookshelf at a time! To this end, I attacked this particular area yesterday. Here's what it looked like before I started:

It's a great piece of furniture -- one of the first pieces I bought for myself waaaaay back in my single days (which seem like another lifetime ago). I think I paid $15 or $20 for it at the rescue mission thrift store -- I was a preschool teacher for the mission at the time. I had an efficiency apartment back then, so my living room was also my bedroom. So, other than a twin bed, a glider rocker, and a dresser that I think I kept in the closet, this was the only other piece of furniture I owned. (It held a CD player back then, too!)

Even though it didn't cost much, it's solid wood and in great condition -- except for the word "Dillow's" that is written or burned on the inside in a couple of places. I'm not sure who the Dillows are, but I'm glad they decided to get rid of their bookshelf. I love it and can't imagine getting rid of it. However, I did need to get a better organizational system in place . . . okay, any organizational system would be better than what I had (which was NONE)!

Enter these wonderful fabric bins from Target. Each bin has a particular task -- I know what belongs in each one, and they are all items that are used in our living room on a regular basis. So now I can easily find what I'm looking for, and clean up when I'm finished with something! Yay!
I know, I know, it's not a big thing. It's just one small corner of my world -- but what a wonderfully organized corner it is now! ;)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Dietary changes and kid funny

We decided to make some dietary changes as a family as we've begun the new year. Some synthetic food additives can have serious learning, behavior, and/or health effects for sensitive people. So, we are following the Feingold Program, which is a test to determine if certain foods or food additives are triggering particular symptoms. This program has two stages, the first of which is more restrictive to allow for a "detox" of sorts. The main things we are focusing on eliminating are artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

Anyway, we pretty much eliminated artificial colors back in October -- and it hasn't always been easy, especially for our children, to understand why some of the foods we used to eat aren't okay anymore. We've been trying to keep our focus on what we CAN eat rather than what we CAN'T -- although over the holidays, that was a challenge! But I've found some places to order things like candy canes and lollipops online that are colored with natural food coloring -- spinach for green, beets for red, etc. We tell the kids that these are "God's colors" so they are okay to eat.

Jaden has struggled with the adjustment at times, but I think he's finally internalized the difference between "bad colors" and "God's colors". Yesterday he was telling me about a dream he had: We were at the grocery store and there was a drink stand that sold green drinks. He wanted to get a drink, but the stand had closed by the time he got to it, so he couldn't get a drink.

As he was telling me this story, I could tell that he was still so disappointed that he hadn't been able to get a drink in his dream. I joked that it was just as well because the drinks were green. He looked up at me and said, "But Mommy, these were green drinks with no artificials!" So even in his dreams he has found Feingold-approved alternatives! =)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

January is Penguin Month!

At least it is at our house! We're all about penguins here as that's the learning unit we are focusing on.

Our unit is based on the book Mr. Popper's Penguins, a book I remember fondly from my childhood. We will incorporate lots of go-along books, both fiction and non-fiction, as we explore a variety of topics related to penguins, including:
  • the lifecycle of a penguin
  • where in the world penguins live -- did you know they can be found on 4 of the 7 continents?
  • the different species of penguins -- there are 17

  • what penguins eat (and what animals eat penguins)

We've already done quite a bit of geography and map work -- reviewing the continents and oceans, learning about the different hemispheres, as well as things like reading map keys and learning about latitude and longitude . . . I don't remember learning this stuff in second grade, never mind preschool! And the best part of all -- they don't realize how much they are learning . . . they're just having fun! (Which is the way learning should be, in my opinion!)

Mmmm . . . cookies!

Don't they look good?
Don't you wish you could have some? Well, if you live nearby, come on over! There's nothing better than freshly-baked, homemade chocolate chip cookies!

If you live too far away to drop by for a snack, never fear . . . you can make your own! And these chocolate chip cookies actually are good for you -- well, as good for you as cookies can be ;) Thanks to Emily for the recipe!

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt (I used kosher)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature - no margarine!
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons milled flaxseed (I measured the flaxseed, then ground it in my blender)
1/2 cup raw sugar (I used regular granulated because that's what I had)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
12 ounces (1 package) semisweet or dark chocolate chips (I doubled the recipe and used one package of chocolate chips for the whole thing - plenty chocolate-y!)
1 cup chopped nuts, optional (I left these out)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, flaxseed, baking soda and salt in a bowl and mix together.
  3. Beat butter, oil, sugars and vanilla in a large bowl until creamy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time and beat well.
  5. Gradually beat flour mixture into creamy mixture. Fold in chocolate chips (and nuts, if desired).
  6. Drop by tablespoon onto an ungreased baking sheet.
  7. Bake 7-9 minutes; remove from baking sheet and cool on wire rack.

I made these last night -- we had them for dessert and everyone loved them! I liked them better than the chocolate chip cookies I usually make (you know, the recipe on the back of the bag of chocolate chips) . . . they didn't spread out so thin, so they were more of a chewy cookie than a crispy one. Let me know if you try them!

Monday, January 5, 2009

A new cousin to love!

On New Year's Day, we travelled to meet the newest member of the extended family . . . baby Carrie Anne. Her parents are Uncle Tim and Aunt Cherie (Daddy's sister). Here are some pictures from our trip . . .
Here she is . . . isn't she sweet?!

Carrie Anne, we are so excited that we got to meet you, and we can't wait to get to know you better! We love you!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy 2009!

Yes, I know I'm a bit late with these wishes . . . but nevertheless, I pray that God will bless you richly in this new year and that you will experience all that He has for you! I love these words from the book of Ephesians:

I pray that out of His glorious riches
He may strengthen you with power
through His Spirit in your inner being,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
may have power, together with all the saints,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge --
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more
than all we ask or imagine,
according to His power that is at work within us,
to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus
throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
(Ephesians 3:16-21)