Friday, December 19, 2008

Gingerbread Houses...The Easy Version

For the last 3 years Sissy's Girl Scout council has sponsored a Mom and Me gingerbread house morning which she really enjoys (the girls make the houses - not the moms). The houses are made from graham cracker covered small (empty) milk boxes. This year as we were leaving they had a TON of the boxes left over, so I grabbed a few to use at home. This morning seemed as good a day as any to decorate our houses. (Isn't this the cutest picture of Sissy concentrating so hard??? She loved using the decorator bottles from Pampered Chef, they are perfect for kids hands!)

We used vanilla frosting in a can, mini marshmallows, twisted pretzels, M&M's, Fruit Loops, Rice Chex and various candy we had in our candy bucket. The kids had such fun.

As much as I love to do crafts, I am fully aware that I enjoy doing crafts. I do NOT really enjoy setting up crafts for the kids to do. Is that terrible? Please tell me there are more moms like me out there. HOWEVER, when I do drag out the stuff for them to do a craft, I try to show them how to use the supplies and then walk away. Otherwise I'm sure I'd be giving LOTS of "suggestions" on how to make theirs look just like mine. Last year at the Girl Scout event, I sat across the table from a mother and her 9 year old daughter (we'll call her Susie), and I watched in horror as the mom created the ENTIRE house. Poor Susie sat with her arms folded across her chest as mom painstakingly created a house. I was determined NOT to do this today! So, other than helping Sweet Baby put the walls on, the girls did the entire project on their own.

Here is my favorite photo of the morning! Sweet Baby kept giggling and saying "This is my first gingerbread house ever!"

Now, to be completely honest, the reason that I was able to leave the girls alone and let them create however they wanted, is because I was sure to grab enough milk cartons so I could make one to. Isn't it cute?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Prayers for Rashelle

Please be in prayer for my sister-in-law Rashelle. Rashelle is married to my husband's brother Josh. She is in her early 30's and the mother to our beautiful nephew (4 years old) and niece (nearly 16 months).

Rashelle recently found out that she has cancer. This doesn't appear to be a little cancer either. (Is there such a thing?) They have diagnosed her cancer as Mediastinal (thymic) large B cell Lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes that started in her thymus. They removed a large tumor (the size of a small melon) from her chest area, partially attached to her lung. Currently they are testing her to determine if the cancer has spread to her bones. She had her first round of chemo last week with many more to come.

Unfortunately Josh and Rashelle live in Arizona so we cannot be of much help, but we are praying and I would ask that you pray for Rashelle, Josh and their children. If you have children of your own, imagine the thoughts that would be rushing through your head as you prepare to fight a battle like Rashelle is facing right now.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Traditional Holiday Joys

One thing that is fun about being a parent of my own is creating various holiday traditions with my family. Every family has them, some more than others. One holiday tradition that never became one when I was a kid, but I always wanted to do, was baking Christmas cookies and decorating them. I've tried making Christmas cookies several times, but it rarely is fun because I either can't roll the dough out because it gets to warm and sticks and breaks, or I roll them to thin and then they burn. Last year I tried a cookie spritzer that I purchased from Pampered Chef and even that never worked correctly..I haven't taken that thing out of the box since!!!

This year I asked Paula Dean (my dear friend Jennifer who is a Paula wanna be) if we could come to her house and she could instruct me. This way our children could do the decorating together and we could get some deserts made for the 40th birthday party we were throwing for a friend the next day. We had so much fun and by the end of the afternoon we had some yummy cookies and the kids had a great time. I'm actually going to try my hand at making some all by myslelf, later this week....I think I'll even let the girls help - he, he, he...

These two photos of Sweet Baby experiencing her first sugar cookie experience tells it all doesn't it? The fun that can be had while experiencing what some may call "small" events. Not to a 4 year old! She has rolled out many a play dough ball and used cookie cutters on it, but to know that it will be baked and turn into some yummy goodness was to much excitement for her!

And here is Peanut.....

Finally, a picture of all the kids when the fun was done...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Just When You Think....

You need to send one of them back to public school, you have a day (or two) like the one we are having today. I know the photo is odd but let me explain it (please ignore the pile of clothes on the floor in the background because that is actually mom's fault and the large spot on the floor that the grey "moon" piece is partially covering - that is bag balm that the younger girls rubbed into the carpet about 3 years, bag balm DOESN'T come out of carpeting so keep it away from young children.)

I had to take this picture because after we finished school this morning the three of the girls tore off to one of the bedrooms to play (first amazing thing that happened....they NEVER play in their rooms, they ALWAYS drag their junk into the main living area). I was so giddy when I realized they were happily playing with the wooden train set. Why is this so amazing? Well, Sissy is 9. 9...most 9 year old girls now a days don't play with the wooden train set that has been around since they were 2. Somehow that is one sweet thing I have noticed since homeschooling began. My oldest isn't as concerned with growing up fast any longer. She happily plays My Little Ponies still. She isn't sitting in her room listening to High School Musical as much as she used to and I LOVE it! I just want her to remain a little girl as long as she can and I have noticed an amazing slow down in her desire to grow up. Most girls her age long ago gave up My Little Ponies for playing with Bratz dolls and putting on make-up "for fun". So, when I see her excited to play with the wooden train, it is a good day!

So, what does this have to do with my first statement? There have been several days since we started school that I have seriously considered sending Peanut back to public school in the fall. She has a hard time focusing (which dissipated last year by October, I think it was all the order and structure of school) but especially she is always preoccupied with playing and doesn't want to do school. It is "hard" and "boring". The crazy thing is, it isn't hard for her. She has no trouble doing ANY of the work...she just doesn't want to.

So, on those days when I think she would do better in public school or I would do better having her in public school, we have a few days where I see the rewards of homeschooling. Rewards like:

1) The girls being so excited to play with one anther that they forget to pester me :)
2) Much less fighting between the kids than even 6 months ago
3) A child who finally says, "I love spelling!"
4) Hearing the younger girls say, "No, don't take Sissy to the store with you, we like her home, she makes stuff fun!"

Those are just a few of the rewards we have seen and each one of them is precious to me.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sweet Christmas Angels

Last night was our church Christmas play. Sissy, Peanut and I were all in the play and it was such fun doing this activity together. We didn't have big parts. Sissy had the most lines at about 3 or 4! Peanut didn't have a speaking part at all (except for singing various songs), and I had one line that numbered 3 words! But it was a great experience. Sissy thought she would like to see what it took to put on a play so I figured if she was going to be at the church 2 nights a week for rehearsals, I may as well help out as well. Here is a photo of the girls in their angel choir costumes, after the play was over. I had Sweet Baby jump in as well hoping we could get a cute picture for Christmas cards this year.

If you have never read the story of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, you have to get the book! It is a very fast, funny read that makes for a great read aloud for kids, even for adults. When we were reading the book for a read aloud, I saved it for the evenings, when my husband was home, because he liked to sit and listen to the story as well! If you click on the title of the book you'll be directed to a site that has a few sample pages of the play and you can get an idea for the mood of the play. The book is right on with the play and can be found online and more than likely, at bookstores.