Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This Sums It Up

A friend of mine had a post on her FB page about how her preschool-aged son is teaching her so much when she is by profession a teacher.

I think God does that to humble us teachers. I think he does a lot to humble us. . .and to bless us.

Here is my little {weekend} story for you:

It is Sunday afternoon. The family is doing odds and ends types of things. I'm catching up on few things that don't get done during the week (yes--on Sunday!!!) And then we get a phone call from Grandma, she wants us to visit--right now. I'll admit it. I'm a planner. I like planned visits better. But we pick up and go, because, well, really, what is stopping us?
While heading out the door, I'm thinking of all those little things that I'm trying to catch up on and the fact that we are having the small group over this evening--stress for me. Love having people over, but it is instant stress. I'm not a perfect hostess. I wish I were. I'm not. So, there lies the stress.
Guess I was thinking about that too much. My oldest son is putting on his shoes and asks, "What do you guys talk about?" So I answer, "You know, we read the Bible, we talk about what God wants us to do and how God shows us grace." Hubby cuts in: "We do that with Grandma?" I admit that I was thinking he was talking about small group. My son says, "Don't worry, Mom. I'll pick out a story for you to read to Grandma." Hmmm. . .hubby and I look at each other. . .how is this going to work? Not our typical "visiting" material.
But we visit. Son goes to play with Lego. And I figure I'm safe from the Bible story reading. (Yes, I actually thought those exact words!) But my son doesn't forget and a bit into the visit all of a sudden he abandons the Lego and is holding a Bible for me. "Okay, your turn to read."
Grandma gets all concerned (should I point out she was a "pastor" at one point? Ah, maybe not.) She wants to know why he needs her Bible, what verse he needs, what is going on.
And I smile. Flip the bible open, "because it;s the kind that flops" says E, and start reading about the Plagues of all things. God's mighty power shown on earth to those who didn't want to listen to God.
Kinda fitting.
Grandma wants to know what I am doing. This is all a little weird.
I explain. . .and yes, it's weird.
But I guess my son knows it better. God didn't call us to live in community and just visit. He asked us to grow in faith together. . .and I guess you gotta read His word to do that.
E was the happiest kid in the world because we read the Bible at Grandma's house.
"I guess that is what you talk about now." Smart kid.

This morning at staff devotions, the leaders talked about how God blesses us and in return we can bless others; sometimes intentionally, sometimes just by doing your every day stuff. Then they led us in singing this song.

I think every once in a while you get a song that sums it all up. . .
Glorious Day by Casting Crown

I'm just pretty thankful for the blessings I'm surrounded by in the extraordinary. . .and the ordinary, weird parts of life.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Crumpled Paper Bullying Lesson

Here is a little devotional I prepared about bullying/treating others as God would have you treat them.
The story/text came from here, but you can find stories based on this one if you type in the right search words (crumpled paper bullying worked for me). I actually first came across this activity one day checking out Pinterest for the first time--a pin told the story of a teacher from NY who did this. Whoever this teacher is, thank you for letting me use your idea to hopefully challenge and change a few minds.

Begin by  handing out pieces of paper, having every one create their name on one and read these verses:

Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Jeremiah 1:5(NIV)

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

(Crumple and crush paper)

"The teacher gave each student a clean crisp sheet of paper. She then instructed the class to crumble up the piece of paper, toss it around, get angry with it, and stomp on it.

After which, she told the students to return to their seats (with their piece of paper), flatten it out on the top of their desks, making it as flat and perfect as they can, and finally, apologize to the paper.

When all the students had done their best to iron out the paper and apologize to it, the teacher picked up the paper on the first classmates desk, held it up so the entire class could see it and said:

If this piece of paper had been another person, and you had done all those things to him or her, by making them feel less than perfect (through your words or actions), these are the scars you would leave. That person would never be the same, no matter how many times you tell them you are sorry, no matter how many times you try to smooth things out..."

 As a follow up: I would talk about how we can never make the piece of paper straight again--there would always be creases left, no matter how many apologies were made. No matter how many crease we may have made in our own papers or in the papers of others, we could never take them back completely. As a Christian, there is one who already did this for us. He took our crumpled names and brought them before the Father. He showed the Father His wounds, He reminded the Father of His Love, and the Father made the paper new again.

A few more verse to read:

2 Corinthians 5:17(NIV)

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[The old has gone, the new is here!

1 John 3:1(NIV)

1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

John 3:16(NIV)

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

1 Peter 3:12-14(NIV)

12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”

Luke 12:7(NIV)

7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

And a few verse you can read as you picture yourself standing before the Father, and He is saying to you that because He loved you and His Son already paid for your sins:

Song of Songs 2:2(NIV)


2 Like a lily among thorns
is my darling among the young women.

Song of Songs 4:7(NIV)

7 You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
there is no flaw in you.

And a video or two:

You Make Beautiful Things

Something Beautiful

How He Loves Us

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Doll House

This past Christmas, Princess A got a bit of a surprise! A retired neighbor of ours, who loves to build and create, made this great doll house for her. He had started as soon as it was no longer gardening weather/time, as that is his other big hobby. The kids love walking through his gardens and pathways and checking out the different plants growing and creature hiding around his yard. On a few walks by his house, we saw the house slowly forming and the initial work taking place, but it was a big surprise that he kept from ALL the kids. . .and as best he could from us, too!

Until a few weeks before Christmas, he invited "the adults" in the house over to check it all out! We were amazed! He and his wife explained how he made it all and where ideas came from. That in itself was amazing! And then we arranged a secret time to bring it, and all of its parts, over to our house to hide and save until Christmas.

Christmas finally came, and this is Princess A's gift from our kind neighbor!
 He built and decorated the entire thing! He added little features, such as our house number to personalize it for her!
 The part that we find amazing (an that Princess A probably doesn't understand yet) is that most of everything inside and outside is created and decorated by him. He made the front swing open like doors, with a little latch so that Princess A can hide away her toys from the wandering toddler in the house! Inside, each room is decorated with flooring, wallpaper. . .and even pictures on the walls. He made staircases, doors that swing open and a full-kitchen with fridges and stoves that open and close!
 She was pretty surprise and happy on when she finally got to see it all!
Here is E and Princess A setting up some of the "extras" our kind neighbor created--things like tables, chairs, beds, bunk beds, a playpen, the works--most of it all handmade or hand-carved, and some of it purchased over time. 
 He made the "roof" to be a like a backyard, complete with a hot tub, a corner garden (see the animals and bugs on the trees?) and pond (with goldfish!) like Opa's and a birdbath, etc., like at his place. (The people/figures in the pictures are all of us in the family--he had one figure for each person in our family and a dog and a cat for some of the neighbor hood animals. Allyson also added her own toys--littlest pet shop figures, etc.)
 Here is how A plays with it--we how have it on a kind of stand so that we can put tubs of toys for this house underneath.
 A few close-ups--here is the dining area--all of the dining set is made by him, as well as the mantle.
 Here is the kitchen--he once visited us to check out our renos, and made the kitchen to match ours--the laminate on the coutertops is the same! All the cabinets open as well!
 Here is the bathroom. . .and in true fashion of the houses of the age of ours, the blue in the bathroom is quite common!
 Here is one of the bedrooms. . .if you see in the background the photo. . .E and this neighbor first became "friends" because they would talk about the blue herons that would come and eat Opa's fish. He took a picture of the one that visited his house for E and gave it to E once day. That is the same photo hanging in this room. In the room below, is a picture of all the kids last winter. . .he took a picture from his house of all of us playing in the snow, then made it into a portrait for this little house!
 Princess A has also added a few toys from Christmas, a few toys from Opa and Oma, and will often have her ponies playing in the house as well. Our neighbor and his wife told me that either me or Oma would have to be the ones to do the sewing of curtains and bed mattresses/quilts as that was out of their expertise! Well, I can take that, as this is quite the detailed project! Princess A LOVES it!
And every once in a while (A wishes he could touch it all the time. . .but his touching might become breaking, so he needs to stay away!), the boys will join in to play as well. . .
That is when the dinosaurs come to invade the backyard and the cars are in the playroom. . .

Monday, January 16, 2012

MPM. . .again

WELL . . .how long has it been since I have posted one of these?!?!?

One "change" for the new year was to get back into some of the organized routines I had before I went back to work. Meal planning often slipped through the cracks . . . and grilled cheese can be made in so many different forms! I KNOW I won't have time to blog about meal planning all the time, but with a few spare moments, and needing to be on the computer to find some recipes anyway, here is what my week is looking like:

Monday- Chicken Milani (CP), buns
Tuesday- Crock Pot Gingered Beef, rice, salad
Wednesday- Easy Baked Chicken Courdon Bleu (stuffed version~I think that is easier, and using a real cheese sauce), noodles, glazed carrots
Saturday-we'll see. . .
Sunday (Breakfast for Supper)-Pancakes & sausages

Last week's highlight:
Last week I made the Better Butter Chicken from the Eat, Shrink and Be Merry Cookbook. I think this might be a link for it. I was pretty hesitant about making it. . .but I knew I liked it and the hubby liked it. . .I was just worried about the kids liking it. No worries! This recipe isn't quite so spicy as a more authentic kind, so it was perfect. And the hubby got a spicier batch for himself. :)

See more MPM at www.orgjunkie.com

Saturday, January 14, 2012

First Snow

This is what the kids were up to this morning. . .
We have a rule in our house that the kids need to stay in bed until 7am (especially on weekends!)
So at 7:01, I hear,"Can we eat breakfast now so I can play outside?"
The first snow of the season.
 I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical of it all. . .but the snow came!
And we all played!
 A in the "nowa"
 Princess A
 E helping shovel snow in the neighborhood
 On top of the mountain . . .
 And coming down the mountain!

 The As playing. . .
 And making the snow fort
Happy snow day!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Gingerbread to-day

Happy Christmas . . .well, it was in Ethiopia and the Ukraine yesterday, right?
In keeping with all these late Christmas posts, this is what we did today! Yep, we made gingerbread men 2 weeks after Christmas!
Didn't they turn out fabulous?
Here are the fine artists--so serious about this fun activity!
 Yep, it was lots of fun!
 Happy family fun this new year!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

O Little Town. . . in a Formula Can

I know this is kinda late to post as it is a Christmas project to do in the classroom (or at home), but I just can't wait until next year to do it! And it turned out so nice, so. . .here you go!

My "inspiration" for this project came from two places. One, I had a collection of formula cans sitting in my basement collecting dust. (I'm dutch or thrifty. . .take your pick! I can't throw away something that could be useful!) Two, I found these cute printables that I thought HAD to be used for something good!
So, here is what I did. . .I took a project that I had done every year, and changed it into a 3D storytelling can. Here is the 3D version of "O Little Town of Bethlehem."

 Unfortunately, I can't find a picture of a finished project right now. . .but below is the general idea. The kids would either paint or use pastels to make the night sky. Then we would make the town of Bethlehem as a silhouette, glue it on, and put starts in the sky--by way of shiny stickers, stamps or paint. For this project, I did all that still, but instead of just mounting them on a black background and hanging them up on the wall, we put them on a can. Check it out:

You can use formula cans, hot chocolate or coffee cans. . .whatever.

I did this project in small parts, mostly with the help of parent helpers in the classroom or as a centre activity here and there. The first part was paining the sunset background. We talked about blending the colours together to make a night sky.
 The second part was making the town of Bethlehem. We read the Bible story and looked at some picture Bibles as well to get an idea of what kinds of houses and inns Mary and Joseph might have seen the night they came to Bethlehem. Then we drew them. Below is my "instructions" for a Centre activity.
 Once we had glued the "town" onto the background, we cut the background to the size of the can and glued it onto the can. (Next time I might first cut the papers to the size of the can as a bunch of the colours that that kids mixed to make the sunset background got chopped off. It still looks fine, but I would rather see more colours!)
 Here are the kids gluing the backgrounds onto the cans.
 And holding the edges together to make sure it stuck in place!
 Here are the cans resting until the next step.
 Next we added wire to the top as a handle for the cans. . .and to use as a place to have our Bethlehem star hang from.

 A bunch of the cans with the wires on them. . .the cardboard cans were easier--obviously. I used a hammer and nail for all of them and the kids put the wires through, but I had to actually work at getting a hole in the metal ones!
 Then we punched out some stars with a craft punch, glued two together at the ends of some yellow embroidery floss
 Then tied a bow. . .and there is a hanging Bethlehem star.
 There are no pictures of it, but at a centre, we cut out these printables, and glued them on to strips of construction paper folded in half in order to stand up. These we stored in out cans. We also added 4 Popsicle sticks used to make the outline of a stable, three wise men, and a pasture for the shepherds.
 Each year in class we have a booklet of the Christmas story. Each page has the story in an "easy-to-read" form and a space to create a directed-drawing picture. These books became more meaningful this year, as the kids were able to read their story along with their project. After each page read, the kids would get to "act out" the story using their characters and their town of Bethlehem. They LOVED it!
 We practiced reading it together and acting it out as a whole class. Then, they got to team up with their grade three buddies and read/ tell the story of Christ's birth.
 Below if a "final" scene from one group.
We will see if I can do this project again next year. . .with no more formula in the house. . .I need to start drinking a lot of coffee and hot chocolate in order to save up enough cans!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Christmas done

Happy new year to all!
As celebrated by Princess A! (Her glass is soon to be filled with milk for supper!)
 I got my little Christmas tree skirt done. . .on January 1st! Even our Christmas decorations were taken down already! I took a picture or two and then packed it into the box for next year!
That stitching sure takes forever!
 I changed a few things about it. . .I had originally used embroidery floss as the centre of the stars, but didn't like it, so I changed it to ribbon bows there instead.
 I also made some ties, for if I don't just overlap the circle around the tree.
 A maroon star. . .and the edging of the entire circle.

Project done! It only took 3 days to post about it! I'm a little behind on a few things!