Friday, April 30, 2010

The Rainbow Fish

This week Joshua brought home another book from school, The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. We had this book before we moved, but it was a little old for our kids. Now we have the joy of reading it again, when they can understand more of the truths taught in this story.

The rainbow fish is the most beautiful fish in the ocean, but he is proud and refuses to play with the other fish. One day, a little blue fish asks him for one of his beautiful scales. The rainbow fish is incredibly rude. Soon, none of the other fish will even go near him.

He goes to the wise old octopus to learn what he should do. The octopus tells him to give away his beautiful scales -- he will no longer be the most beautiful, but he will learn how to be truly happy. Can the rainbow fish sacrifice his most precious possessions, his scales? Or will he continue to be beautiful and spend all his days alone?

This sweet story teaches about the joy found in giving and sharing in a beautiful, colorful way!

Check out more wonderful books for your kids on Feed Me Books Friday, hosted by The Adventure of Motherhood.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Things I Love Thursday: Dot Paints

A few years ago, we were introduced to 'dot paints' by a friend who works with preschoolers. Joshua loved these markers so much that we picked up a set of our own. The brand name is Do-A-Dot Art, but we have always called them dot paints.

I love dot paints. They give my children the freedom to be creative, but are not nearly as messy and don't require nearly as much clean up -- no brushes, spills, long set up, etc. All you have to do is unscrew the cap and start painting.

These bottles have sponge tips that act as applicators for the paint, though the texture of the dots is more like marker than paint. And the great news is that I have never had a problem washing them out of clothing or off "dotted" surfaces. Our set is primary colors, but they also come in a 'brilliant' set.

We haven't used our dot paints much since our move to Scotland. They were put in a back cupboard, and forgotten. But this week we were doing some crafts and it seemed like the perfect time to pull out the dot paints. We had a wonderful time!

This was when I realized that all the fun things I did with Joshua at this age... they are brand new to Abigail. This was her first time using dot paints. She was so excited, while Joshua was 'all business.'

Dot paints are the perfect creative product for the mess-hesitant parent. They are my fall back when the kids are itching to make something creative and mommy has no energy to clean up a disaster.

Check out more things people love at The Diaper Diaries.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Power of Encouragement

At the beginning of March, my friend over at The Adventures of Miss Mommy is sponsored a give away for SEEDS Family Worship CD's. Amazingly, I won! Now, I have my very own copy of The Power of Encouragement.

If you haven't heard these CD's yet, I encourage you to check them out. They are Scripture verses put to music, written to involve the whole family in memorizing Scripture. We have been thoroughly enjoying our new CD, and would like to tell you about some of our favorite songs.

Joshua's favorite song is Track 4 - Take Heart (John 16:33). He loves the upbeat song and especially love to shout "Take Heart" in the chorus of the song. Very fun!

Abigail just agrees with Joshua and wouldn't pick a song of her own. Maybe after we listen a little more...

I have been enjoying two of the more melodic songs on this album, Track 3 - Cast Your Cares (Psalm 55:22) and Track 7 - Heavenly Lights (James 1:17). Both of these songs have encouraged me and reminded me of important truths just when I needed it.

Check out these great resources for teaching scripture in a fun, memorable way!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Spring Flowers

Joshua has never been one to seek out crafts. At school, he is the last one to take a turn painting or doing other crafts. But last week I asked the kids what they wanted to do in the afternoon; Joshua prompt shouted, "Crafts." I remembered a post I had seen for spring flowers over at The Artful Parent and decided to try it (I had to recreate it from memory because I couldn't find the post quickly enough).

 First we colored some cut up egg cartons (see the original post for better pictures and explanation). I was not ready to pull out the paints, so we used dot paints. These will be the base of the flower.

Next we poked a hole and stuck a pipe cleaner through it. I happened to pick up some pipe cleaners on a whim at Poundland (like the Dollar Store) last time I was there. The pipe cleaners will serve as the stem.

 Using two squares of tissue paper for each flower, we put one end of the pipe cleaner through a hole in the tissue paper, then looped the pipe cleaner back through the egg carton.

A little bit of fluffing and crushing and re-fluffing and smashing and re-fluffing ... viola, we have spring flowers!

They add such color to our table, and the kids loved making them. 
Abigail has enjoyed pulling them out of the vase and carrying them around with her, too. 

Cheap, fun and easy! Who can beat that?!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

We ended up bumping several menu ideas from last week. It was a hard week for me (lack of sleep, up with the kids, etc), so my sweet hubby ended up making dinner several times; I love that he is willing to do the cooking, and have no problem when he opts for easier dinner ideas than are on my menu.

Now to this week's menu...

Menu for this week:
Check out more great meal ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Snail and the Whale

My kids are thoroughly enjoying Julia Donaldson right now. Our newest book is The Snail and the Whale.

I picked up this book in a charity shop a few weeks ago knowing that we like the Donaldson-Sheffler team. It seemed a little old for my kids to understand, but they could grow into it.

I put it on the shelf without any announcement. My son found it this week and we have been reading it regularly ever since.

This is a sweet story of a little snail who takes a tour of the world with a whale. It is beautiful, but it makes the snail feel so small and insignificant. Then trouble happens and it is up to the snail to save the day. Can a little snail really make a difference?

In true Donaldson fashion, this story is told in sing-song rhyme with beautiful illustrations by Axel Scheffler (who also illustrated The Gruffalo, written by Julia Donaldson).

This week, Vanessa at Silly Eagle Books is hosting Feed Me Books Friday. (normally hosted by The Adventure of Motherhood).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Things I Love Thursday: Starbucks VIA

My hubby went to a conference in Manchester last week. He came back with little gifts for me and the kids. Wonderful! He brought me coffee and chocolate. He knows me so well.

Not just any coffee, he brought a few packs of Starbucks new VIA coffee. "This is not instant coffee as you know it. This is rich, flavorful Starbucks® coffee in an instant."

Since moving to the U.K., I have rarely had a good cup of coffee. I LOVE this coffee. My hubby gave me this gift in the morning as I was about to make a cup of coffee. I promptly made myself a cup of VIA instead. Amazing! Drifting from my cup was the smell of Starbucks coffee. I cautiously took a sip and almost melted. This was like drinking a coffee straight from the local Starbucks, but instant ... just add water.

Instead of being freeze-dried, not-at-all-coffee-like instant coffee, for VIA they "microgrind the coffee in a way that preserves all of their essential oils and flavor." This finely ground coffee dissolves in the hot water and tastes like a freshly brewed cup of wonderful coffee. I have tried the regular Columbia and the decaf Italian Roast. Both are terrific!

The only downside is the price. On my new, much tighter budget, I can't bring myself to spend 50p (about 75 cents) every day on a cup of this. But it is still much less than running to Starbucks every mornings, and reserving it for those I-really-need-a-good-cup-of-coffee mornings just makes it taste that much better.

Check out more things people love at The Diaper Diaries.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Praying Wife

In the last few weeks, I have had several interesting conversations with women about prayer and praying for their husbands -- they pray for their children regularly, sometimes out of sheer desperation, but did not always recognize the need to pray for their husbands.

It is not uncommon to find that spouses do not spend much time praying for one another. When you are married to a faithful, Godly man on whom you can rely for spiritual guidance and support, it is easy to take that faithfulness and Godliness for granted.

When I was newly married, I had much the same thought (or lack of thought) about praying for my husband. It was just not on my radar. Then I met a wonderful woman who was a few years older than me and had been married a little longer. She shared some of her experiences with prayer and it changed my perspective forever.

Her husband was a full-time seminary student. She was working full time to support them and was struggling with a disconnect between them in their busy lives. During this struggle, she started praying for her husband, not because there was anything wrong, but because she realized this was her ministry to her husband and a way for her to take a vested interest in his daily life.

She also shared with me a book that she said changed her life: The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartain. I received this book as a gift and had just started reading it. It was so encouraging to have someone to talk with as I learned about my husband and the importance of prayer in our marriage.

I have not always prayed as faithfully for my husband as I should have, but I am continually grateful for the lessons God taught me early in our marriage about my ministry to my husband through prayer.

Because of my recent conversations, I decided to start blogging through this book and share some of the encouragement I have received. I may not write about every chapter, but I hope to encourage my readers to remember the power and importance of prayer as a ministry in marriage.

Stay tunes for future posts in this series.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

A few weeks ago I accidentally ordered a tin (can) of chicken in savory white sauce. I have been wondering what to do with it. Last week I discovered I could use it in a quick, easy pasta dish that the kids love. I cooked some whole wheat pasta and threw in some peas to cook with it. After draining the pea-pasta combination, I dumped in this can of chicken and white sauce, and served it to the kids. A little grated cheese on top and they thought it was the best thing ever. They have asked for it several times since. Wonderful! Faster than macaroni, and a little better for them. 

Now to this week's menu...

Menu for this week:
Check out more great meal ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Seaton Park

We live near this beautiful park, on the north side of Old Aberdeen. The park borders St. Macher's Cathedral, pictured here up on the hill.

The love this park and ask to go almost every day. It is a little bit of a walk, though, so I try to make it a special occasion or a "big deal" to go. Here the kids are trying out the weird see-saw that doesn't quite work with kids so small.

Abigail loves the "bouncy" animals that they seem to have at all their parks here. This elephant is a particular favorite.

But both kids really like the swings. This park only has two "baby" swings, and we often don't get a turn on them, but this particular day my kids dominated the swings. On nice days the park is very busy and we let the "babies" have the swings. (I love that the cathedral is in the background.)

Doesn't that look like a happy child? She giggles every time she rides the swings!

Joshua is much more "serious" about his swinging, and always wants "under-dogs". His favorite swing activity, however, is when Daddy stands in front of the swing and dramatically pretends to get hit by the swinging child. This makes Joshua laugh until he has tears running down his face.

They call this park the "Train Park", or more specifically the "Skarloey Train Park" because the big train at the park looks like Skarloey, one of the characters from Thomas the Tank Engine series (although, when we are at the park, he often calls the train "Lady" instead...).

This is a real train, converted to be a playground adventure. There are ladders going up and shoots (slides) going down, and lots of room to run around on the four cars being pulled by this bright red engine.

We have not yet explored the rest of the park, but we hear it is beautiful. They kids always get distracted by the playground, so we don't make it much further. The River Don runs through the park (I posted a few pictures of it in the album listed below), and there are beautiful fountains (that have not been turned on yet). The hillsides are covered with daffodils that are almost in full bloom. I think we better head back soon for some spring pictures.

Check out more pictures at: Seaton Park. Some are from last fall and I recently added a few from this spring.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Things I Love Thursday: Black Out Shades

I recently installed black out blinds in our kids room. They are wonderful! I ordered the easyblackout kit from Easy Blinds Online. They were easy to install and easy to use (just measure carefully and leave a little extra material on each side).

Just a few months ago, I was complaining about the darkness, with the sun rising at 8:30am and setting at 3:30pm. Now the sun is up by 6am and sets after 8pm, and it is only March. By summer solstice, the sun will be up by 4am and not set until 10pm. Crazy!

But I digress... These black out blinds have restored order to our mornings, and almost to our nights. Before I put them up, the kids went down with the sun and got up with the sun. This made for grouchy kids and grouchy mom.

Now, with the new shades, they are back to sleeping for 12 hours a night; though I think may help bedtimes if we move the entire bedtime routine into their darkened room to help their little bodies realize that it really is bedtime.

So, if your kiddos think they need to be up every time the sun is up, think about using some easy, velcro black out shades.

Check out more things people love at The Diaper Diaries.

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

Welcome to my little Blog Party as part of the Ultimate Blog Party hosted at 5 Minutes for Mom. Head over to the official Party post to find out how you can host your own party, sign up for drawings, meet new people and introduce your site to new viewers.

Thanks for visiting my blog. My name is Christy. I am a woman of faith, the wife of a full-time graduate student, and the mother of two young children, living as an expat in Aberdeen, Scotland.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, about an hour south of Seattle, Washington. I attended college at Seattle Pacific University, where I met my husband. We have been married over 10 years now. We have two wonderful children -- our son is four and our daughter in two. They are growing so quickly.

In our married life, we have lived in a variety of places - Chicago, Illinois; Nashville, Tennessee; Princeton, New Jersey; and presently, Aberdeen, Scotland. We are here at the University of Aberdeen for about three years while my husband works on a Ph.D. in Theology.

I currently have the pleasure of staying home with my children. In the past I have worked in Electrical Engineering, Information Technology and Telecommunications, Production Management in 3-D animation, and Digital Asset Management for an animation studio.

Here on my blog, I like to write about all the random things that make up life as a mother, wife and homemaker ... like: menu plans and recipes, parenting, book reviews (especially kids books), our efforts to be more "green", crafts, faith, our family adventures, life in Scotland and more. Please browse through my little corner of the internet and let me know what you think.

Have fun at the party!
(The prizes I would love are: USC 39, USC 35, US112, USC 8, US73, US74, US87, US88, US52, USC36, US84, US31, US55, USC40, USC44, INTL-12, INTL-13, INTL-6, INTL-9, or any other international prize. Thanks!)

USC 39 – A $50 paypal cash prize for one winner.
Provided by:

USC 35 - $50.00 CASH ~ Paypal Transfer. ($50 USD or current CAD conversion rate)
Provided by: American Muslim Mom

US112 – $50 Amazon Gift card
Provided by: Robyn ~ Our Homeschool Home

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I won the POSH giveaway

Last week I posted about a giveaway over at The Adventures of Miss Mommy. This giveaway was sponsored by Posh Eyewear.

See this cute, plum glasses case? That is what I'm getting with my winnings! Thanks, Posh and Miss Mommy.

Check out all the great reading glasses and accessories over at Posh Eyewear.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dunnottar Castle

The weather was beautiful this weekend, so we took a bus ride out to Dunnottar Castle. The castle is situated on a beautiful hill on the North Sea. It is just south of the coastal town of Stonehaven.

This castle and its location have a long history, starting with the Picts in the fourth century (or earlier). It is an incredible ruin and we all enjoyed exploring.

To get to the castle, you have to walk down about 100 stairs (Joshua lost count at some point) to the bottom of the ravine. At low tide there are rocks and pools that would be fun to explore (we didn't have time on this particular trip). Then you hike back up the other side, another 30 or so stairs. This takes you to the main tower (a.k.a. the keep). This tower is the main defense and it is a fortress. At the bottom is the dungeon and across the way are the barracks and the weapons storage.

Once you pass through the defenses, you come to the living space.
It has open lawns and green spaces where the kids can run around.

Most of the buildings were labeled so we could identify them. It was more like a community built on a hilltop with a single castle, like you think of in fairy tales. There were buildings for the servants, the family's quarters, the stables, the chapel, the smithy, and a few more that I can't remember.

Joshua loved the ruins and has not stopped talking about them since our visit. He also keeps asking when we are going to see another castle. "Scotland has lots of castles," he says.

We were astonished by the scenery and the beauty all around us. The shore and the cliffs were amazing. All around us was quiet except for the sound of the birds and the sea (and our children running around).

If you look out the far window of the family's quarters, there is a colony of puffins nesting on the edge of the cliff. This weekend was the first siting of the year. Check out my photo album to see pictures of the birds.

We had an incredible time exploring this castle and learning about the history that happened in this very place. We highly recommend this castle to anyone who is traveling in the area. 

Check out more pictures from out trip at: Dunnottar Castle - April 2010.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Several days this week my hubby will not be home for dinner, so I am planning a kid-friendly meal plan for the first half of this week. It will be simpler and we will try different foods than usual.

Now to this week's menu...

Menu for this week:
  • Monday -- Fried Chicken with homemade fries
  • Tuesday -- Macaroni & Cheese
  • Wednesday -- Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with sweet potato fries
  • Thursday --  Pasta & Tuna Salad
  • Friday -- Crock Pot Rotisserie Style Chicken
  • Saturday -- Chicken Tacos
  • Sunday -- Nachos with homemade refried beans
Check out more great meal ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fun in the Sand

The sun has been shining these last few days, so yesterday the kids and I decided to take a trip to the beach. There were so many ships and boats out in the water. We watched this big passenger ship leave the harbor and sail out to sea.

I didn't take the camera with me, so these pictures are all taken on my phone. The sun was so bright that I never got the kids to look at me for any shots.

We took the bus down town then walked to the beach (to shorten the trip slightly). On the way, we stopped a the wonderful park and played for a while. Sorry, no pictures of the playground fun...

The entire reason for this trip was to play with the new buckets and shovels they got for Easter.  They have been suggesting they should dig up the flowerbeds in our garden, but I don't think our landlord would appreciate that.

This shot captured the very undecided weather.  One moment we all took our coats off because it was too warm in the sun; the next minutes we were bundled up again because dark clouds rolled in and the wind picked up. We enjoyed a few rain showers, but nothing too serious (though we did pull out the umbrella once for about 5 minutes).

We were all exhausted when we arrived home. The kids (and I) slept well last night.  What a fun afternoon!

I posted a few more pictures on Facebook: Family Fun - Spring 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010

POSH Give away

The Adventures of Miss Mommy is hosting another give away. Posh Eyewear is offering $15 toward any accessories on their site. Visit Miss Mommy for all the details. And let her know I sent you.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Things I Love Thursday: Pancakes

I have always loved pancakes. My husband can attest that I have a slight obsession. Sometimes when we would go out for lunch on Saturdays, we would have to go somewhere that serves breakfast all day so I could get my pancake fix.

Since moving to Scotland, I have been sorely deprived. They sell pre-made pancakes in little packs of four; these look like normal pancakes, but who wants to eat (let alone pay for) pre-made pancakes?

If you buy their version of pancake mix, you are really getting a weird breading for deep frying fish, or making a odd pastry. Nothing about this resembles pancakes. They include a recipe on the package for a runny mix that might resemble crepes if I could get it to cook right. Nope, definitely not pancakes.

Last week, Emily went to our local Costco, and guess what? They sell American pancake mix, good ol' Krusteaz! We have had pancakes so many times this week. They cooked right, they look right, and, best of all, they taste right. Now I have 10 pounds of pancake mix and can eat to my heart's content!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Egg Hunt

On Saturday, a few wonderful friends planned a big Easter egg hunt for the kids. The weather of too cold and rainy for the outdoor hunt on campus, but the hunt was moved inside successfully.

Joshua was so excited to collect eggs with his new Bob the Builder bucket.

Abigail had a wonderful purse to carry her findings. She was so cute wandering around with this very over-sized purse.

Joshua spotted a stray egg far under these chairs. He was a great little hunter.

Abigail loved opening all her eggs to find toys and candy. 
Here she is showing Daddy her prize of hard candy and stickers.

We dumped all Joshua's eggs onto the floor so he could put all the contents into his bucket.
Abigail did not think this was a good idea and refused to dump out her eggs. 

There was also a egg hunt for the guys. Inside the special golden eggs were prizes, like money and a book (not actually in the egg) and a huge chocolate egg (also not in the egg). Their eggs also included a theological quote. They had to match their quote to the author on this "wall of theologians."

The kids had a wonderful time. We even read through the resurrection story using "resurrection eggs."

What a wonderful day! Thank you, Rachel and Emily, for all your hard work planning this event.

There are more pictures from this fun day on Facebook: Easter Egg Hunt

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