November 29, 2011

Our Sweet Encounter

I was stressing today about a doctor's appointment today b/c I had to take my kids. This office is known for having typically loooong wait times, and my kids aren't known for being the quietest and calmest in public - or anywhere else for that matter! Anyway, armed with Lego magazines and mp3 players, we arrived and sat down. An older (75 year old or so) man starts playing his harmonica and looking at my kids. Jacob says, "Mom, that older man is looking at me funny."  The man finally just spoke up and started asking them what he should play next, and for the next 25 minutes, they played name that tune and he took requests in the waiting room! Mattie just can't help but dance, so she was quickly up cuttin' a rug to his tunes.  He asked her to marry him. :) So as frustrated as I get with their complete lack of inhibition, and therefore noise and activity level in public, today I was very thankful as it manifested itself in friendliness to this lonely old man.  I think all four of us walked away blessed today, as were several others in the room.

Quite frankly, I desperately needed this. I have been feeling like I'm stuck in the middle of a spiritual desert in a way I've never experienced before. I'm feeling like a fraud as I sing praise songs in front of my church and as I read the Jesse Tree devotions with my kids and teach Sunday School. I have confessed it all to God, begged Him to change my heart, help me see more of Him, help me reconcile the Old Testament Him with the New Testament Him, etc. This morning I asked Him just to fill my heart with love for Him. And immediately after this encounter I caught myself thinking, "Thank you, Jesus, for that sweetness." I like thinking that way! It just seems to have eluded me as I'm hung up on some OT things.  I'm very thankful for that small oasis in the midst of my recent emptiness.

November 08, 2011

Fall School

We've had fun this year so far!  I've found a good groove for schooling both kids at the same time and having a two year old two days a week.  Mattie and I have not gotten into a good Five in a Row routine, and that makes me sad, but I hope I can figure it out soon.  Mostly it's a lack of planning on my part.  

Here are a few things the kids have done...

 Jacob made a poster advertising for a trip to the New World.

We read about sheep and Mattie made this one with real sheep wool!
We have loved our Apologia Astronomy!  (These are all ideas we used out of the book.)  We get together every other week with two other families to do the experiments/activities.
 We poured lava on a dusty surface to see how it shaped the surface of Venus.
 Jacob made a comic about life on Venus and shared it with his friends.  Something about having 25 kids, 10 of whom who drowned in the lava and the others complaining that they wanted to go back to Earth so they could have some snow and celebrate Christmas.  Boys are weird!

We learned how radar worked.  We stuck this stick down through the paper and charted the depth to which it sank.  The kids colored in their charts and we revealed the surface below!
   The picture revealed!

 We separated the colors in a black marker.
 We learned about the suns rays by melting chocolate with a magnifying glass.  (Of course we burned up leaves too, but the chocolate part was much more fun.)
 We've painted our fall trees with arms (trunks) and fingerprints (leaves)!  This was a pinterest idea.  :)
 We went to the apple orchard, and here's my animal loving girl enjoying the goats.

And I don't have a photo of this, but I've discovered Mattie is a total Math head.  Math pages are her reward for getting her phonics pages completed!  She loves to do Math.  By Christmas she'll be finished with her kindergarten Math book and we'll be doing the first grade one after the first of the year.  The best part of this is that she'll be ready for Teaching Textbooks sooner.  :)  I'll still have to add the Critical Thinking book for thinking out of the box a bit... those pages are her favorites!

November 01, 2011

Wanna hear about my day?

So two posts in one day!  Sitting on the couch will do that to me, I guess.  I guess before I share about my today I should explain why I'm in a boot for anyone who doesn't know: This summer at Joni and Friend's camp someone rolled up onto my foot with their power wheelchair and stayed there for about a minute while I explained to her that she was on it and waited for her to switch modes and scootch it back off.  Yes... Ouch.  Fast forward to 17 weeks later, a neuroma, nerve damage, other soft tissue damage and a stress fracture, I'm in a walking cast like this for at least a month to see if we can make some progress, because there has been little in the weeks since the injury.  Unfortunately, crush injuries are known to be difficult because it's often hard to pinpoint the real details of the injury.  So I wait.

And on the first day I got the boot I had to run some errands.  On the way out the door Jacob gives me a hug, point to the boot and says, "You're going out in public in that thing?"  As if I chose this... and didn't have a matching one.

So today, we had Women's Bible Study at church, piano lessons, then I had to go by the doctor and get a new boot. It was is supposed to be inflatable but wasn't working, so it was like wearing a shoe two sizes too big. It was terrible! I could tell in the first 3 seconds the other one was so much better! So I arrived home to a lot of dog puke and a nasty dog who had walked in said puke while she was in her gated spot while we were gone all morning. Yeah. Ew. I cleaned the floor and bathed the dog (while wearing the boot - a feat in and of itself). And just for the record, dog eye boogers are NASTY and take way too much work to get off in the bathtub!  Ahem... Then stood up holding the wet, towel-wrapped dog, popped something really loud in my knee (not the same leg as is in the boot) and I can hardly stand up. What else in the world is going to happen...?! It was actually very comical as I sat down (because I felt like my knee just wouldn't carry me) now both legs compromised, b/c the boot is a rocker boot (think round bottom) so it's terrible for balance. But it's 6 hours later now and hurts now a lot more than it did then, so it's not so funny anymore, except what else can it really be but funny?  Besides, I don't have the energy for it to be sad. 

I have learned I am a terrible sitter! I just keep wanting to get up and pick up, do the dishes, put the dog out, tuck the kids in, but I just physically can't, especially if it involves stairs. 

So as much as I'm still laughing about the calamity of the afternoon, I sit here with ice on my knee, taking another dose of my anti-inflammatory and googling to find information that will prove my nurse-sister wrong and convince myself that this really isn't anything serious.  :)  Except it's not feeling not so serious as the hours go on.  I really hope I can sleep well and wake up feeling better, in one limb anyway!

So how was your day??

October 26, 2011

Home Projects

(So sorry for the accidental post the other day.  It was supposed to contain words!)

Mattie's room has been in desperate need of a closet makeover since we moved in.  The shelves were unreachable to her and the hanging area took up all of the floor space.

I finally found the setup I wanted at Home Depot recently so we got her all squared away a few weeks ago! The containers were ones we already had, so all we had to buy was the closet setup and 

this shelf.  Her old shelf didn't have solid sides so the books and baskets were constantly falling off in all directions.  This one is easy because the sections are small and therefore manageable.  The coat rack was a gift from a friend of hers and has been needing to be hung up for an embarrassing amount of time.  This is all soooooo much better for her!  I can't say her room has been a whole lot cleaner on her own, but I think that may be a pipe dream for this child of mine.  She just likes little stuff, much of it of seemingly little importance.

And in the living room...
I finished the gallery wall!  I am loving seeing some of my very favorite pictures there.  (Hidden behind the couch is where the kids each have a school spot.)

I had a coupon from a decal store and ordered this quote.  This is my first quote to put up on the wall, and it has brought this positive outlook to my mind many times when I've needed it!  I'm not surprised really, because I'm a very visual person.  I love it, especially right next to the cross.

October 06, 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes (Dairy and Wheat Free)

Wanna know what we had for breakfast this morning?  We're always looking for new breakfast recipes, and this one did not disappoint us!

Wanna know how to make 'em?
Pumpkin Pancakes

Combine in a large bowl:
3 1/2 cups brown rice flour
½ c ground flax**
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 1/2 TBSP baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt

In a separate bowl, stir together with a wire whisk:
3 cups water
2 cups pumpkin (1 can)
3 eggs
1/4 cup safflower oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.  (Not over-stirring pancake batter is the trick to fluffy pancakes!)

I did 1/3 cup at a time on my griddle preheated to 350 degrees.

This made 24 4-5 inch pancakes!  I froze half of them on a cookie sheet. Then I put them in a bag so they won’t be stuck together when I want to use them.

* Based on our egg free years, I think you could easily use 1/2 c flax mixed with 1/3c water and no eggs.

**You can omit this and use ½ c more flour if your prefer.  I find that flax just seems to really do well with brown rice flour.

This recipe is adapted from Elizabeth's recipe over at Yes They're All Ours. I just made it work for our allergies and it worked beautifully!

September 04, 2011

My life is eating me alive!

 My life is eating me alive.
For three years since we started our disability ministry I've been teaching Sunday school, many Wednesday night semesters, coordinating extended session, teaching VBS and finding helpers, planning Luke 14 with my friend, and coordinating fellowships and the disability ministry council. And serving on our women's council as a childcare coordinator.  I don't say any of this to toot my own horn.  I've loved what I've been able to do in these ministries!  But I. am. TIRED!  Our home boat is getting rocked enough here with schooling two now, watching the extra kids to pay off our lingering credit card and medical bills, and wading through life's challenges. 

I want my kids to remember a mama who was present, cheerful and energetic.  I want to train my kids to serve alongside me (instead of sitting in childcare while I attend a meeting about serving).  And I want to have the time to meet needs (while including my children) as they arise.  I've been hanging in there asking for help for over a year now, but I know it's time to step down and trust that the help will come or not, and life will go on anyway.

So I resigned from almost everything this week!   :weight off my back:   I'll still teach Sunday School and help some with our disability ministry, but I sent an email resigning from women's ministry and another one handing off all staffing to the people who staff the typical classrooms!   

What a relief!  
All I have to do is manage my home, the kids who come to it, home school and teach Sunday School.  
That sounds so doable! 

July 26, 2011

A Pepper Update

Pepper is keeping us all entertained. The kids LOVE to tell her there's a dog outside and watch her run to the window so they can see her look out. They laugh uncontrollably when she does this. Even I think it's pretty cute. :)

We've gotten her almost 100% trained to go outside!  She came litter box trained. (Her previous owners had a lot of long days not home, so they did this so they wouldn't have to worry about her.) I thought it would be nice and convenient, but the convenience was majorly overpowered by the inconvenience of cleaning out stinky litter box and sweeping up the litter she drug out on her feet! Ew. So over the last month I've been training her to go outside. She really didn't see outside as a place to go potty, so this took some doing!  I moved her litter box outside, but she still would go to the litter box place and do her business.  That got old really fast!   Anyway, just this week she's finally coming to stare at me or whine to tell me she needs to go out.  She definitely knows what it means to "go outside," and she runs out and goes right away!  I still have the basement blocked off, so when it's open and she goes all day without peeing down there, I'll know we've succeeded.

She has learned to go outside and stick close with out being tied up.  Yippee!  If I stop paying attention she will run off, but as long as I watch her, she comes when she's called.

She's discovered she can get up on our bed.  The cute thing is she looks over the edge as if she's asking my permission.  I'm not totally fond of her sleeping up there, but she usually chooses to get off and head to her basket under my night stand.

She's realized a deep love for salami!  She eats almost nothing other than a few choice crumbs under the table.  I can leave my ice cream, peanut butter, crackers, sandwich, dog treats, etc. where she can get them and she won't touch any of it except eggs.  But twice now she's snatched salami from the eater's hand!  Mattie was standing with a piece on the way into her mouth and Pepper jumped up and stole it!  Mattie felt quite violated.  She quickly changed her tune when she realized how entertaining that was.  :)

All in all, Pepper seems quite at home!  We're thankful for her.  

July 24, 2011

Slip-n-Slide Fun!

It has been soooo hot here lately!  The kids are irritable because they're not getting outside to burn off enough energy, so we pulled out our generic slipnslide... aka contractor grade plastic!  
Getting a head start with Daddy's help!

It's always more fun 
with someone else!

I decided to be a fun mama and join in.


I'm sore, but it was more fun than I expected.  I guess we all need to be a kid every now and then!

He's a fun daddy too...

who goes a lot further than everyone else!

She's on a mission!

That smile is a gift!

I love hearing this boy laugh.

Happy boy!

July 22, 2011

Geography Fun!

I decided this summer to spend some time doing United States geography with the kids in the midst of the busy-ness.  In a few weeks we're starting American history, so I thought it would be nice to have a grasp on geography before we hit the history.  I wanted them to know the names and locations of the states, have a clue about the capitals, and know the most famous monuments and state and national parks. While I want Jacob to have mastery of some of it (like the states), my goal is exposure and interest, not 100% memorization. We've taken a very non-traditional approach, and we're having a great time!

Here are the resources we're using:
Little Man in the Map (a great book, especially for visual people!)

National Geographic United States Atlas for Young Explorers

States & Capitals with CD
(This also has cards in it that we'll use for our timeline cards as we go through history this year!)
States & Capitals   -

And when for the capitals,  The Little Man in the Map Teaches the State Capitals!
The Little Man In the Map Teaches the State Capitals!

And then of course, some iPod apps and printable pages.  :)