Friday, February 27, 2009

Abigail's Farm Set

Abigail loves to play with magnets on the fridge. So, this was the perfect gift for her for Christmas -- Leap Frog's magnetic farm set


You match up the back and front of the animal to hear a little song and some fun facts about the animal. If you mis-match them, it sings a silly song about the "cow-duck" (or whatever combination you come up with). Joshua loves to mismatch deliberately in order to hear the toy say, "That's silly" -- he loves all things silly.

This wonderful toy also has a little chicken in the loft that will play music whenever you push it. Tonight, everyone was dancing to the little songs while Darren and I were making dinner. It all started when Abigail pushed the chicken and danced to the music. I joined in to encourage her to keep going. Joshua thought that was funny and kept pushing the chicken over and over. Then he convinced Darren to dance with him. So funny! Too bad I didn't catch a picture.

Food and Kids

Have you been to the USDA's new site for parents?

Check out the preschoolers site for ages 2 to 5 and their kids site for ages 6 to 11, for great information about food and kids.

I am always keeping an eye out for good resources on food. My sweet little boy has had eating issues since day one. We even spent a year working with the feeding team at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (with great success - we really loved their nutritionist and psychologist).

So back to the USDA's site ... I liked their individualized food plan. It is not very complex, but it gave me a better idea of how much and what my son should be consuming on an average day, based on his age, gender and activity level.

They also have meal and snack ideas for four different calorie levels (I found out my son's calorie level on the individualized food plan). In these plans, they give more specifics on how to break down my son's food intake over the course of the day.

Their site contains some simple advice about picky eaters, growth charts, and plenty of information about FOOD. It is a fun little site worth checking out.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Desert Spirituality

The Way of the Heart – Part 1

photo courtesy R. Pelisson - http://www.SaharaMet.com

I am currently reading (and contemplating) The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen. He was a Dutch Catholic priest who left a lifetime of teaching at Notre Dame, Yale and Harvard to live in a community with the mentally handicapped. His writing is so simple and straightforward, but so profound.

The Way of the Heart is a study of the fifth-century Egyptian Desert Fathers and Mothers and how their teachings can be applied today. It is written primarily for people in ministry, but many of the truths can (and should) be applied to my life as well.

The Desert Fathers were living in a difficult time in church history. The persecution of the church had come to an end and there was no longer a literal test of laying down your life for the Lord. The world was still the dark fallen place it had always been, but it no longer set itself as the enemy of the church. Escape to the desert was their way of non conformity to the world.

We, too, must find a response to Paul's challenge to "not model yourselves on the behavior of the world around you, but let your behavior change, modeled by your new mind." (Romans 12:2) What does this look like in our daily lives?

This book centers around the words flee (raising questions of solitude), be silent, and pray. These summarize the spirituality of the desert, the ways we prevent conformity to the world, the ways to live a life in the Spirit.

Come back soon to learn more about the theology of the Desert Fathers. As I read, I will be sharing Nouwen's wisdom and maybe a few of my own thoughts as well.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sea World at School

While the class was in Florida to see Disney World, they decided to check out Sea World as well.

Here are the kids coloring pictures of whales.
Joshua is still wearing his Mickey Mouse ears from his time at Disney World.


They were most excited to spend some time in the tanks with the sharks and whales.


Ms. Lisa came in to share about her time swimming with sharks.


Here she is featured in a book on sharks.


Joshua is excited to catch a few fish during his visit.
Should he really be fishing at Sea World?


Fun, fun, fun! Stay tuned for more exciting adventures.


Art Display

When Joshua started creating his masterpieces, I made this great system for displaying the art in our hallway (inspired by our previous downstairs neighbors). However, this poor area has been neglected lately.

I keep adding things, but never taking down the old. It became overly crowded and would no longer "show off" his creations properly. It just looked and felt messy. There were also a few places where the clothes pins had been torn off by an overly excited kid.

Yesterday, I finally tackled the art work....

Here is the display half-way through the project (I forgot to take a before picture). I had already sorted several layers of art by this point.


And here is the after shot!


I filed a few of my favorites from the old artwork (the turkey from thanksgiving that was made using his own hand print, the foot print he made with finger paints, etc.) and recycled the rest (I had to assume that there will be plenty more masterpieces in the future).

I also replaced the missing clothes pins, so now there is maximum display space again. And I spread out his current creations to properly enjoy them before they are replaced by new ones.

For more of this week's tackles, check out Tackle It Tuesday hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom. Yes, once again I am posting this a day late, but at least the work was done on Tuesday.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wake Up Call!

Create in Me a Clean Heart - Week 7

"Do not love sleep, or you will become poor. Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with food."
Proverbs 20:13

Ouch! Not that I'm concerned about becoming poor, but this verse is quite clear on the downside of loving sleep a little too much.

I like sleep and do not function well without it. I am not a morning person. I do not get up cheerfully in the morning and stay in bed until I HAVE to get up.

But when I sleep until the last possible moment, I start the day feeling I'm already "behind" and I spend my entire day playing "catch-up." Needless to say, this week's devotion hit me hard.

God is challenging me to GET UP in the morning; to approach each day as a day that He has made; to be glad and rejoice in it.

Lord, please give me the strength to wake up each day and rejoice. I pray that I will not give in to laziness or procrastination. I need your strength to overcome my weaknesses. I pray that I will seek you first each morning and pursue your presence throughout my day. Amen

Monday, February 23, 2009

Disney World at School

This week Joshua's class boarded their "plane" and flew to Disney World.
Everyone is getting dressed up for the occasion.


They are building a float to ride in the Disney parade. Joshua (in the blue shirt) is ready to go with his Mickey Mouse ears on. He wore them all day.


Joshua, sitting there with his Mouse ears, is waiting so patiently for his turn on the float.


Joshua has a turn riding in the Disney parade.


Everyone gets to have their face or hand painted. Joshua came home sporting a cute little heart on his hand.


What a fun day at Disney World! No wonder Joshua loves school so much!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

You may notice that several of the same meals are on the menu again this week.

My family was hit with a weird stomach virus this week. No one has been very hungry, and only a few foods were tolerable. Needless to say, we did not eat any of our planned meals. Everyone seems to be recovering, so we will try again this week.

So here is my menu for the week:
  • Monday -- Taco Bar
  • Tuesday -- Ham and Lentils, green salad.
  • Wednesday -- Pad Thai, potstickers, veggies.
  • Thursday -- Pasta and Red Sauce, garlic bread, green salad
  • Friday -- Potato Bar
  • Saturday -- Stir Fry Veggies, rice.
  • Sunday -- Meatloaf (from the freezer), salad.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

To the Jungle...

The airplane carrying Joshua's class finally arrived at their destination... the jungle.

The kids are making the river that runs through the jungle.
Joshua is the one in the stripes.


Here are some of the animals they found in the jungle.



Look at all the fishes swimming in the river!


Stay tuned to find out where the class lands next!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hats & Scarves

Since the tackling all my paper problems last month, I have been neglecting my "problem areas." I was overwhelmed by the size of my projects and couldn't get up the motivation to start something I knew there wasn't time to finish.

Our entry closet is the next big problem area that I need to tackle. I would love to just pull everything out, sort it all (PURGE) and put it all back in an organized fashion. But in reality, I would get it all pulled out and barely start the sorting when something (children) would need my immediate and extended attention. The end of the day would come, my hubby would come home and I (along with a kid or two) would be surrounded by piles of stuff from the closet and ready to cry.

What I really need to do is think smaller, break the projects down into manageable pieces. So, today I had a few minutes (about 20) to spend on a project before my daughter woke up from her nap. What project could I complete in just a few minutes? I decided to tackle the winter wear that has been piling up in the top of our closet. It has been a source of frustration for months now, never being able to find that matching glove, or grabbing three hats out before finding one that still fits the kids.

Here is how I was storing the hats, gloves and scarves before --
in a big box on the top of the closet.


And here is my solution to this disaster.
I used a shoe sorter that is designed to hang on the back of the door.

Now everyone can find their winter accessories quickly. The kids can even reach their own, making them feel important and helping us get out the door little bit faster!

For more great "tackles", check out Tackle It Tuesday hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom. (yes, I know it is Wednesday... but better late than never, right?)

Airplanes at school!

Last week at school Joshua's class "built" an airplane and airport. The kids then chose where they wanted to go on their journeys. The vote was for the jungle, Disney World and New York City.

Here are the kids looking at pictures of airplanes on the computer.



After building the cockpit, everyone boarded the plane for their first trip.



During the long trip, they built a movie screen for entertainment.
Joshua managed to get a front row seat for the flight.


Soon they will arrive in the jungle... stay tuned for more adventures!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Christmas - Part 5

For Christmas Day, my Aunt Linda hosted a big dinner my dad's side of the family and friends. The dinner was held at the club house in the community where she lives. The large space worked well and the kids had lots of room to play, too.








Monday, February 16, 2009

Blueberry Horse

Several months ago, we were browsing a specialty toy store in the mall. Joshua spotted these wonderful horses and wanted to take one home. We added it to his Christmas list and, sure enough, it showed up around Christmas time.

As Joshua was riding his new horse, I asked him what the horse's name was. He looked at it for a few seconds and shouted, "Blueberry ... like Madame Blueberry." (check bigidea.com for VeggieTales reference).

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Last week's menu planning did not go well at all. There were several nights where I was too sick to cook. My wonderful hubby was willing to make dinner, but not the crazy dishes I had planned. He pulled something together from the random food around here.

I also tried a few new recipes that didn't turn out as well as I had hoped. But the Kale and Tofu stew was very good. My hubby enjoyed it too, and still doesn't know there was tofu in it.

So here is my menu for the week:
  • Monday -- Pav Bhaji (traditional Indian fare), veggies.
  • Tuesday -- Ham and Lentils, green salad.
  • Wednesday -- Taco Bar
  • Thursday -- We are going out for dinner to celebrate my birthday!
  • Friday -- Potato Bar
  • Saturday -- Stir Fry Veggies, rice.
  • Sunday -- Meatloaf (from the freezer), salad.
I have yet to start posting recipes, if you see something you would like to try, let me know.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

"Get Out, Doubt"

Create in Me a Clean Heart - Week 6

"... Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
Matthew 16:23

In the devotion for the week, this verse was a reminder to not allow the doubts and negative thoughts to be a stumbling block to us, but to put them "behind" us.

I admit that I did not always remember to put my doubt behind me this week, and there were times that I should have done just that. But as I review this verse again today, I am encouraged to put the failures and doubts of the week behind me, and move forward in hope and peace.

Lord, release me from my thoughts of fear and doubt; replace them with your love and hope. Help me to always been mindful of You and to draw my strength and joy from you. Amen.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Climbing

The other day I turned around to see Abigail standing on the air conditioner unit in their bedroom. This little girl is the most fearless climber, and is exploring everything she can possibly get up to.

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