Thursday, October 31, 2013

What works - Gettin' our preschool groove on

It's 3:00 here in Iowa and my children are both upstairs asleep. Nap time. It's a wonderful thing. But I should be honest with myself - my almost 5 year old is def not asleep, as she proved 20 minutes ago by tiptoeing down the stairs... (sigh). I haven't given up the battle on rest time, she may not sleep, but she will be in her room to rest. Most days she feels asleep right around 3:15 after laying in there for like 2 hours. She STILL needs her sleep - I just have to convince her :)

We've had our first full week of preschool (Mon, Tues, Thurs) and I can tell you that honestly it was great! I'm still learning and trying to figure out how to give Ava attention on "big" tasks like writing and math while little sister is dumping bird seed onto the table. But, we are getting there. We have gotten our hands dirty on some fun projects this week and the girls are really getting into it. We start our time with a book on the couch - just to calm the wiggles and give us an official "start". Today we read a book about "Thinking of Others", one of those cute board books that even 4 year olds can enjoy. My biggest girl really got into the fun of thinking of ways to put others first, or just being kind, score! Later in the morning we found 2 baggies of halloween candy on our porch that someone had left for us. They thought that was SO cool that someone was thinking of us, too :) Don't you love those moments when something is lived out for your kids to see? One of those "God moments" for sure.

Hopefully this weekend I can get some of our real pics up of the girls in action - but for now, I'd love to show you what has worked for us this week in the department of Preschool fun. Thanks to Pinterest for allowing me to pin all these ideas in one location - brilliant!

Ladybug Math:
5 simple games for teaching number recognition to preschoolers
We did our own spin on this. I cut out 6 red circles and then had Ava draw the correct amount of dots to go with each ladybug. Then she really enjoyed drawing the legs and antenna. This could easily adapt with any kind of bug, but since we have an abundance of ladybugs outside our house - this was perfect for us.

Goldfish sorting:
Sorting "Goldfish Colors" Crackers for preschoolers - Dr. Seuss Party - free printable.
We adapted this one as well, as I didn't have the time to make the fancy fish bowls (doh!). Instead, I drew 4 rectangles with each of the goldfish colors - the girls sorted their snack bowls onto the rectangles and then got to enjoy their treat when finished. August really enjoyed this - thinking it was a little too young for my big girl. But, she enjoyed the color review.

Weather Plate:
paper plate weather chart
Suprise, suprise, we adapted this one, too! I had Ava draw the 4 temperature groups and glue them to spots on the plate herself. Ours is not perfect, but it was totally hands on and the girls love telling the weather each morning when we begin. It is taped to our back door!

Bird feeders:
toilet paper tube, peanut butter, roll it in birdseed and slip it over a branch..
Painting with peanut butter is MESSY, add to that the ping-ping-ping of tons of birdseed hitting your hardwood floor... ahhhh. But, it was SO worth it. My girls really enjoyed making these bird feeders and I was happily suprised to find a HUGE bag of birdseed at walmart for only $2! They are now hanging outside and we are waiting on the birds. So far, the neighbors dog is the only one interested.

Felt dolls:
Felt Paper Dolls - EASY DIY Gift Idea - Quiet Activity for Kids {Free Printable}
Winner Winner chicken dinner! This one has been the biggest hit!
I took an hour during nap time earlier in the week to cut out a felt family, clothes, accesories. Felt was .23 a sheet at walmart and the ideas are endless on this. I use it as a "quiet time" bag, or a transition activity. My 2 year old asks for it every day "I pway fet dahls?" My only mistake was to only cut out ONE wedding gown. What was I thinking? If you have two daughters, you understand that comment. ;)

Friends, I am so enjoying my children SO MUCH MORE now that things are so much more hands on. They know our school time and when it's time for Mommy to get housework done. Boredom seems to be less frequent and the guideline for the morning has been great for my relationship with my very testing first born. So, this is what worked for us this year! I cannot wait to show you some pics of the girls doing their hard work!

All of these ideas are on my Pinterest boards "Arts n' Crafts - kiddo style" and "Preschool fun".

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lovely, Foggy, Fall, Day.

Ah, bliss. The sky is dark and it's calm outside as we've watched the early fog dissipate and the grey skies creep in around us. These are the kind of days I enjoy. No where to be, no schedule for the first part of our day, quiet. I turned off the noise of the tv...endless babbling, it feels like. And then we turn on our music. I've put together a playlist on my Spotify account made just for these days and this season - mostly instrumental, all to put you in that calm, autumn mood. I wish I could have you each over to sit down with a cup of coffee, so you could enjoy it with me. But, since I can't do that I'll just share the albums we are listening to, instead. Go check 'em out when you get a chance.

This is one of my faves. It's soothing and beautiful and makes you feel like you are lounging around at a coffee shop with nothing else to do all day. Which, is obviously untrue for me, and maybe that's why I like it so much. :) 

Some really, really, GREAT Jazz. Anita O'Day just has one of those voices. 
My favorite on this album is called "Early Autumn". 

And the same song is AWESOME on this guys' album - "Early Autumn". 

Totally switching tracks but still so, so, relaxing is this gem. 
"Winter Solstice" is a beautiful instrumental that makes me think of leaves and that first snow. Super calming and my girls love the sound of it! 

Last, I found this Thanksgiving album while browsing arond Spotify. 
Dinner Music for Thanksgiving: 40 Classic Songs
And of course it's good listening :) 

Enjoy your day, especially if you have a weather day like mine... calm, gray, and no where to be! 

*all albums can be found on, which is where I found the album covers to show you. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Preschooling at Home

Way back a long time ago I went to college and learned how to teach preschool. It sounds simpler then it actually is, especially when you get a group of 13+ 3 year olds running around. All the same, I studied, learned, and quickly sealed a job doing just that, teaching preschoolers, shortly after I graduated.

So I'm boggled at how I STRUGGLE so much with educating my own dear preschoolers. It's the END of October and we still haven't started school this year. Now, we did move twice, and life is crazy busy with ministry stuff...but, seriously?! I pulled out my little lesson plan book this morning and just shook my head - still nothing. But that is about to change. I'm making a list, checking it twice, the heading out to pick up school supplies after I'm done with this post. Ha! I know busy little hands make busy little minds and I have a biggest daughter who NEEDS that right now. :) I'm thankful there is grace, and that in all reality, it's just preschool.

Here's our agenda for this week with a pic or two (from Pinterest) of what we'll be doing:

Puzzles, sticker dot activity, paint with marshmallows, outside play, Lunch, Bottle cap stamps
Good for numeral recognition

Bible reading, prayer sticks, quiet books, make a weather plate, felt paper dolls, dry erase boards, Lunch, begin a chapter book to read aloud.
Love love LOVE this!!  
Prayer Sticks: popsicle stick with picture of family member or friend. Each day have child draw a name and you both pray for that person. Fabulous way to teach importance of prayer for others and not just your own wants!!
prayer stix! 

No school

Bible reading, prayer, quiet books, movie or 1 tv show, lady bug math, goldfish sorting, tp roll bird feeder craft, Lunch
5 simple games for teaching number recognition to preschoolers

Journaling, "100 easy lessons" reading for Ava

We can do this! We can do this!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Autumn Pretties!

Between unpacking, mothering, living life and the crazy speed of it... I have found a few minutes here and there to decorate for fall. I had to come to a realization early on that it would not look like my pinterest board of ideas - there just isn't the time right now. But I'm thrilled with some of the little things that catch my eye during the day and remind me of the beauty of Autumn.

I made this wreath from an old foam one I had lying around. After I took off all the old moss I wrapped it in burlap ribbon, tucked in some silk, fall colored, flowers, spray painted the P and stuck it on there and voila! The "p" was .6 at Target and pink polka dotted. I can handle SIX CENTS and the rest really only took a few more bucks and a few more minutes. :) 

This old door was exactly what I wanted in my front room. Since we'll be going with the antique-y look in that room, it was perfect :) I made the candy corn banner last year out of burlap and paint. Super easy! I'm still looking for what to set down in front of this spot. 

I'm a nature girl. Throw some pinecones in a vase and tie on the burlap - that's so pretty to me! Toss in a .50 gourd - perfection. I love the natural look and this works great on top of our fireplace.

With the smell of a cider candle and the love of my family around me, I couldn't think of a better place to be during this Autumn. Oh, and these two are pretty cute to look at, too.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Blank Canvas

My lack of domestic creativity is never more noticed then when we move into a new home. I dream and plan for months on what I would like to do to bring beauty into our home. But when it comes right down to it... well, I call it blank canvas syndrome. It's easier to just leave things blank. No risk. 

That's where I am now and I'm driving myself crazy. As if it's the most important thing in the world. It's not.

This past Sunday night we had our senior high youth group over for a great time of discussion followed by food and football. We LOVE hosting our teens in our home, and it's a dream realized, really. My insecurity loomed about for a few minutes that afternoon before wondering if the bare walls and plain everything would be noticed. That night I got a note from a mom of one of our teens. Her daughter has commented how cozy the house felt, what a great time she had, and how the candle I was burning smelled so amazing. It's small sentences like that - that get me. That's what I want. A cozy home where people feel welcomed, not impressed. Why do I so easily forget that?! 

When we fix our eyes on Jesus and loving His people that should change our perception of what we do with our homes. Not that it's wrong to have big fancy everything - but for us, it's not possible, and I need to be ok with that. Thankful for that, even. The blessing of this home is enough. 

So, I'll piddle and work and eventually family pics will go up and maybe some paint and pretty little things here and there. I want to make a beautiful home for my family. But for now I sure am thankful for the opportunity of the blank canvas - the chance to start again. :) 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Living Vicariously

My husband has incredible opportunities as the student ministries pastor of our church. He gets to go on trips and destinations - some average, some awesome. For example, last summer he went to Haiti and the year before that New Orleans. All in the name of ministry, and all complete with stories of people hearing the gospel.

This past weekend he was in Chicago taking a preview trip at Moody Bible Instititute. We had 4 students go to check out the school...and the city. They had a great time and the windy city proved to live up to its name.

I am in a stage of life where my most effective and necessary ministry is staying at home with our young children. They need momma here for the day in, day out, things. So I don't get to go on all of the fun trips and see the exciting things. Generally, I'm fine with that. I have waited my entire life to enjoy this stage of life - and I don't mind missing out when I have these two kiddos to pour into at home. But it would be lies to say I wasn't a little sad to miss out the big city! Though, my thoughtful hubby did bring me home a milk chocolate cupcake from Sprinkles! And it was worth every last sprinkle that I licked out of the box. :)

I get to live vicariously through my husbands adventures. I suppose that maybe I get the better end of it - don't have to have any of the car sickness of traveling, or packing and forgetting things, etc. This is the stage of life I'm in and I will continue to enjoy the fun pictures and goodies that get brought home :) 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My very own Dream.

It has been a lazy Saturday around these parts, complete with a mug of hot cider, warm blankets and football on the tv. My girls spent a good part of the late morning playing outside in our yard while I walked from room to room noting all the things I still need to work on and do. But, they will wait. Lazy Saturdays are a gift to be appreciated, in my opinion, not filled with work that can be done Monday. ;) Although, the dishes in the sink will get a good scrub and the laundry will be put away in preparation for Sunday. That's just life. 

I can't be sure when it dawned on me - maybe it was as I stood at the dining room door and snapped pics of my monkey-hat-clad children riding bikes on the back deck, or as I adjusted the fall decor on the table. But it was whispering in my ear - "blessed". Because that's how I feel today. Everything I have ever wanted in life I have the opportunity of enjoying right now. My husband - loves me. My children - precious. Serving in full time local church ministry. Making a home our own. And while I know those are not the most important things in life - they sure do rank up there and today I'm counting my blessings over and over. I'm not naiive to think life will always be the same - we don't have that promise, and I'm ok with that. But today I can't stop smiling and being thankful for the One who gives us these Good gifts.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Update from the NEW house.

We all know that moving (with children) is a whirlwind of all kinds of crazy. This move proved to be no different. But I'm happy to say we are IN our new place and adjusting just fine. There were a few surprises in our first few days :
-Broken dishwasher
-getting used to a septic tank/sump pump
-hot and cold water pipes switched
-broken sliding drawer holding my pans {ouch}

But overall, we are settling.

There have been moments (while I stood washing dishes in the sink) when I looked out the window to watch my children play in the yard... and I just mist up. GRATEFUL. That we get to live here in this place, with these neighbors, so close to everything. It's a blessing to me.

The basement still has boxes to be unpacked, and we are short several pieces of furniture - but, what a joy to be in a place with room to grow and adventures to be had. Hopefully I can get back to blogging about our life in the future. :)