Monday, February 28, 2011

Bible Memory encouragement

*This is an edited note I felt I needed to add after I read some of my comments. In case I didn't make this clear when I was writing----Do NOT use Bible memory as some sort of 'punishment' for your children. For example, do not say "Now Johnny, you told Mommy a lie, so you have to memorize the verse in the Bible about not lying and write it down ten times!" No, no, no! FIRST learn the verse, and THEN encourage your children with it when they're already showing that particular positive quality. That way, they associate Bible memory with a positive feeling, and not a negative one. Just wanted to make that clear before you read on :)

Joel and I believe that teaching our kids Scripture is one of our most important callings as parents. Our family regularly works on Bible verses together. Even Noah, who can't talk yet, memorizes motions for the verses and 'says' them along with us. We often pick a verse to help us along with something happening in our lives. For instance, if the children are having trouble obeying, we might spend time memorizing a verse on obedience. We have all been missing my mom lately, so we've been memorizing Revelation 21, which tells us how for Christians, there will some day be NO MORE death, sorrow, crying or pain.

I would like to encourage you all to memorize with your little ones! If you're not already in the habit of doing so, it might seem daunting at first. Here are a couple of hints to get you started.

1. Start small. Don't try to memorize a whole book at once!! Go for one short verse at a time! Some easy ones to start with include: John 3:16, Genesis 1:1, Psalm 23:1, Matthew 6:19.

2. Be consistent! Pick a certain time each day (such as right before bed, or while you're eating breakfast), and go over your verse every day at that same time.

3. Take it line by line This is especially important for young memorizers. Don't overwhelm them with the entire verse at once. Read the whole thing through, talk about what it means, and then learn one line at a time.

4. Add hand motions! This helps younger children especially, but even my six year old finds the hand motions to be helpful. For example, point up to heaven to refer to God, fold your hands for the word 'pray', make an angry face for the word 'anger', etc, etc.

5. Gradually grow As your children get used to memorizing, gradually add longer and more difficult passages.

6. Encourage, encourage, encourage! When they've got that verse down pat, use it! Say "Wow, you obeyed Mommy really fast, just like we've been learning in our Bible verse!" Invite over Grandma and Grandpa (or friends, or Aunts and Uncles), and have your kids quote their verses!

This is a foundation of Bible Knowledge that you can lay for your children when they are still young! As they grow older, it will be one thing that you will NEVER regret spending time on! (And hey, you just might learn some Scripture yourself in the process :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bending the Rules

So, we are pretty tight with 'schedule' around here. You have to be to get anything done in a household with four children six and under! Nobody out of rooms in the morning till 7:30, naptime at 2:00, bedtime at 7:30, Wednesdays and Saturdays are always bath nights....that type of thing.

But Thursday nights, we bend the rules a little. And it's a good thing :)

I used to go to my Mom's house every Thursday evening for our ladies Bible study group (affectionately referred to as 'Thursday Sisters') The kids would stay home with Joel. But, my Dad moved several weeks ago, and we naturally needed a new place to meet.

So every Thursday evening, the ladies of my Bible Study group gather in my living room now to read, study, fellowship chocolate :)

Joel keeps the boys upstairs and puts them to bed on time. But Cosette gets to stay up and participate in the group. She so looks forward to this every single week! And it blesses my heart to have my daughter in the group with me now.

Last week, she sat there, discussing the Holy Trinity like a grown up. This week, she was offering comfort to a member whose grandfather recently passed away. '' I know just how you feel. It's hard to lose someone you love. I know, because I just lost my Grandma Karen, and I really miss her"

I know that the old 'homeschoolers don't know how to socialize' theory has pretty much been laughed at and discredited by now, but seriously-----how could you look at my six year old, sitting in a room full of adults and participating in a Bible Study and still stick to that theory?

She sits there, she listens. She hears us reading Scripture, discussing it, pouring over it, doing our best to understand it and apply it. She sees that, to her Mommy, as well as all the other ladies in the room, Jesus is the most important person in our lives. He is our Savior.

And that, my friends, is worth staying up two hours past bed-time! :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Our task

I turn from the van, struggling not to drop my arm load of stuff. A diaper bag, my purse, a pan full of left-over cupcakes, various odds and ends collected from my van floor---they all crowd my arms and threaten to send them----or me---sprawling rather un-gracefully on our garage floor.

And then, suddenly, from behind me, I hear a little voice "I can carry some of that for you, you know, Mama".

My Eli-guy has come to my rescue! He proudly grabs an arm load of stuff and grins up at me. "I'm your good helper, huh, Mom?" .....................

I feel the warm, sudsy water on my hands and arms. I pull the first dirty cup from under the water, ready to wash it clean, when I see something out of the corner of my eye. A little girl is moving the kitchen stool over to the counter, with a dish-cloth over her arm.

"I'm gonna dry them Mom, okay?"

And so, without me asking, she dries the sink full of dishes. And we stand there and talk and laugh. And she refuses to go eat her ice-cream until the dishes are all dried and put away..........

I round the corner into the living room, and hear a little voice singing. It's Noah. He's sitting on the couch, holding his Sunday School paper. It's a little book about the miracles of Jesus that he made in Sunday School. On the back is a little copy of ''Jesus Loves Me". There sits Noah, 'singing' his Sunday School song. He knows how to say none of the words, but he's humming the tune and 'reading' his little book.

"Noah, do you like that song?"

He grins up at me "Yeah".............

Motherhood can be full of 'yuckiness'.......temper tantrums, disobedience, dirty diapers, late nights, early mornings, loads of laundry, runny noses..........but as we patiently work through those times, and use them to train, teach, disciple, instruct, and love our little ones.....God graciously gives us these 'easy' moments of blessing. Savor them. Appreciate them. Thank God for them. Let them ease your soul and refresh you.

And then move on to the next challenging task in front of you, remembering that you are helping to shape these little souls for eternity.

At least, that's what I keep reminding myself of each day :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011


We're enjoying a lazy Saturday afternoon. I started looking through some old family video clips, and was amazed at how the kids have grown! Here are a few of my favorites :) They make me smile and laugh, so enjoy! (You'll want to turn my music off at the bottom of the page before playing these!) My apologies that there aren't any of Leanna on here---all her clips are on our actual video recorder.

I thought I'd start with one from the very beginning....the little lady who made me a Mama in the first place :)

Eli's earliest version of the ABC's....I love the 'l-m-n-o-p' part :)

Noah walks! And oh, how my life changed after that!

A drum solo

A feeding gone wrong :)

More ABC's---Cosette style!

And finally, a more recent clip:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The rainbow in February

Do you ever feel kind of 'blah' at the end of February/beginning of March? March is my least favorite month. (Many apologies to my dear sister, whose b'day is in March...) I think it's because the freezing cold days of winter are over---no more snuggling under blankets in front of the fire place or boiling hot pots of soup on the stove. And yet, the warm days of summer aren't here yet either. It's chilly, dreary, muddy, messy....and, in some ways, 'colorless'. I guess I want one extreme or the other! This 'in between' stuff is....'blah'!

And, after thinking about that last paragraph, I guess life is like that too. You have the 'extreme' times---marriages, birthdays, new jobs, new babies, new houses....whatever. But then, you have the 'in between' times, where life goes on, day by day. And, if you don't watch, it can become 'blah'. You can simply miss the beauty that God has placed there in the 'every day'. The daily school work....the house cleaning....the cooking...the child care.....the beauty is all there. I just need to be aware.

And so, here is what we are looking at to brighten up our 'in between days'....until those beautiful, warm, gorgeous days of June welcome us once again....

Looked outside today while the kids were playing and saw this:

Yes, she's carrying a rainbow umbrella. No, it was not raining. I guess she's trying to chase away the February 'blahs' too :)

Can you guess what Eli is learning about this week? We had so much fun making this together this morning!

You just KNOW I must be chasing away the 'blahs' of February and bringing in some joy when I do something 'creative' :) I am NOT a 'crafty' person. So a Valentine table set with little hearts was pushing it for me ;)
And lastly, who wouldn't feel better with warm, chewy oatmeal raisin cookies?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Raising Boys takes a lot of.....

wisdom? patience? knowledge? energy?

Yes, I'm sure it takes all those things. But I'm finding that mostly, it just takes a lot of FOOD! :)

See this picture of Eli?

This was taken not long after we had eaten Sunday lunch. Our lunch was chicken alfredo with whole wheat pasta, salad, homemade applesauce, grapefruit, and cherry cobbler for dessert.

And here sits Eli, the same afternoon, chowing down on crackers. He's almost as tall as Cosette now. She literally is only a hair taller. And the scary thing is, he was NOT as tall as her just a few months ago. Which means he is gaining inches right in front of my face!

With that knowledge, we try to teach our boys good eating habits. The most common words coming out of Eli's mouth lately are "Mama, I'm hungry!", or "Mama, can I have some more?" And so, since we don't want them stuffing their faces with sugar and pre-packaged food, we try to have lots of healthy options available for our boys. Our philosophy is, if they're eating their meals well, and still claiming to be hungry in between meals, then there's no reason why a growing boy can't have a healthy snack!

Eli and Noah's favorite snacks? Um....fruit---ANY kind of fruit. You name it, they'll eat it. Apples, Oranges, Clementines, Grapes, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Mango----they LOVE fruit! Eli also loves baby carrots with dip for a snack. Crackers and Cheese are a common choice around here. Also yogurt with granola, graham crackers with peanut butter, and cheese sticks keep our boys going between meals :)

Gone are the days when half a peanut butter sandwich would fill up my boys at lunch time :) Now, if I could just get them to convince their baby sister that food is great! She still thinks peas are poisonous ;)

Friday, February 11, 2011

This and That

  • Leanna has two top front teeth coming in. Cosette just pulled her fourth loose tooth all by herself, and Eli is desperately wishing for one of his teeth to become loose so he can be just like Cosette. And Joel and I just noticed the other day that one of Noah's front teeth is literally turning gray---he must have knocked it on something, but we have no idea what! Good thing it's just a baby tooth. So, we're a toothy kind of family lately :)

  • I've been feeling creative lately, and want to 're-do' the boys bed-room a little bit. It's the one main room in the house that I feel never really got 'finished' after we moved in. I'm thinking 'cheap'---like maybe some wallpaper 'theme' border, a few pictures, that type of thing. My problem is getting time to run to WalMart and pick up the stuff. Maybe someday....

  • Now that I've sewn a few things for the girls, I'm contemplating a skirt for myself....I can never find skirts that I like in the stores, so maybe I'd have more luck making one for myself.

  • Eli told me yesterday "Mama, I'll always be your boy, even when I'm a grown up man!"

  • My sister told me about these fried apples with warm gooey white sauce that Sheetz is selling now. And I really. want. some. Unfortunately, the nearest Sheetz is about 20 minutes from here, so it's not like I'm gonna just hop in the car with all four kids and run out for some. I'm trying hard not to think about them too much ;)

  • I'm reading a book that I got from one of my Mom's shelves called 'The Grace Awakening', by Charles Swindoll. I wanted to read this one right now, because I think this is something I've always struggled with----understanding and fully accepting God's grace in my life. Sometimes I think I'm still trying to 'earn' His approval, and don't really comprehend what an awesome gift He gave to us in Jesus!

  • I need to simplify the types of meals I make. I like to cook, but I often spend waaaay too much time cooking up waaaaay too complicated meals---at least, they're too complicated when you have a house full of little ones also needing your attention! Anybody have ideas for simple, healthy meals?

And I guess you could call that the 'dumping' of the contents of my mind right onto my blog :)

Monday, February 07, 2011

The love of my life has a birthday tomorrow! Poor Joel doesn't get much page-space or recognition on my blog----it's usually too taken up with our four kiddos and their antics! :) But, tomorrow, February 8th, gives me an excuse to actually pay a little bit of well-earned and well-deserved attention to my poor husband!

How can I put this? He is the backbone of this family. He is what keeps us going. When I'm 'down', when I'm stressed, when I'm worried, he is always there, always supportive, always loving and caring. He is the husband and father I always knew he would be, plus so much more than I ever thought possible!

Here's a quick look back over the past seven years of our lives together, and just a few pictures of the man I love:

This is one of my favorites, for obvious reasons.

When it was just the 'three of us'.

This is also one of my favorites. Joel with Eli. Doesn't he look so proud to be holding his oldest son? And just a side note here: When they first handed me Eli after he was born, the very first thing I thought was "Oh my goodness! He looks just like Joel!" And as the years go by, he looks more and more like his Daddy, and I couldn't be happier :)

A slightly more recent picture---Christmas, 2009

Happy Birthday to my Love!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A chapter closed

My thoughts are swirling around in my head a hundered miles an hour. Remembering. Thoughts of my Mama. Thoughts of when I was a little girl. Thoughts of growing up in my parents house.

Because, you see, today everything changed. Again. Oh yes, everything also changed on August 9, 2010 for us, when my Mama went home to be with Jesus. We still haven't 'recovered' from that change. I hope we never do.

But today, another change happened. A happier change, thankfully. But still a change. My Dad got married--to a beautiful lady. She was a friend of the family since we were younger, but we had lost contact in recent years. So there will be the process of 'getting to know you' all over again. But I do remember that she is kind, loving, and funny. And I do know that I would much rather my Dad be with her than spend his days lonely and miserable. So we are happy.

But the sad thing is, she lives the entire way across the country. As entire plane ride across the country.

We packed up my Dad's house these past couple of weeks. The last place where we were all a family together...Shaun, Karen, Jaime, Wray and Kristin. The last place where I saw my Mama alive and well. The last place where I forgot to give her a hug that last night.....

It was painful. The packing of boxes. Sorting through Mom's clothes...her books....her dishes. Looking through all of the tubs she had packed for us in the basement with all of our 'important' papers in them.....letters I had written to her when I was 8, birthday cards from Grandparents, second grade report cards, that type of thing.

All of the memories. The memories of happy winter evenings, Mom's soup on the table. Mom humming to the radio in the kitchen as she'd clean up dinner. Christmas Caroling nights, when all our friends would come over, and we'd gather together afterwards and drink hot cocoa and eat way too much good food. Coming home from college on the week-ends and not wanting to go back on Monday mornings. Those awesome nights when Joel and I were courting and we'd sit at my parent's table in the evenings while he beat me at a game of chess (yeah, things haven't changed much) Sitting at the table with Mom, picking out flowers for my wedding, desigining my wedding dress. Bringing my new-born babies out for the first time to Grandma's house--because, where else do you take your new-born babies for the first time if it's not Grandma's house? Leaving my kids there for the evening when Joel and I would go on a date.

And as I packed boxes, the tears flowed. It felt as if I was packing up my Mama. As if I was packing up my childhood, and all the happy memories. As if a chapter of my life had completely closed. A chapter I wasn't ready to close until I was much, much, much older.

I couldn't help but think....."No more family dinners around this table....No more stopping by to see everybody.....No more happy sleep-overs for my children at Grandma's house.....

But, as much as the chapter may be closed, the book is not. My life goes on, and I will make more memories with my own children. And I will look back on my own childhood with happy thoughts, and with smiles. The house may not be there family no longer together under one Dad getting a new start in a far-off place.....But the memories are still there. They always will be.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Pretty in Purple

Yes, I know, if you're 'friends' with me on Facebook, you've already seen these photos. Sorry. I couldn't help myself. I had to post them here too....

My Pap recently gifted me with my grandmother's old sewing machine. I really shouldn't call it 'old' though. She had just recently bought it before she passed away two years ago, and had barely used it. And it's a really nice sewing machine---I was tickled beyond measure to receive it!

I'd been wanting to try sewing matching dresses for my girls for a while, but wasn't energetic enough to try sewing them by hand. So yesterday and today, I conquered the task with my new machine! I was so happy with how they turned out :)

Cosette also picked out a pretty green material with flowers on it. I assume it will be another snowy day tomorrow, so after the kids finish their school work, the green dresses will be my afternoon project. Having conquered this first big sewing adventure, I feel suddenly inspired, and see many possible projects in my future :)

Isn't that the prettiest smile you've ever seen? :)

So thankful for my two wonderful girls

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Do you remember those old Baby Blues strips that read "It's Apparent You're a Parent if....." and then they'd go on to fill in some ridiculously funny thing that could only happen to a parent :) Well, every now and then, I feel compelled to share my own list with you. These are real life things that cause Joel and I to look at each other and say "It's Apparent You're a Parent if....."

  • You go to crawl in to bed at night and you knock your foot on a toy fire truck hiding under the covers.

  • You go to pour yourself a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats and suddenly realize that the Honey Bunches of Oats bag has been replaced with the Corn Flakes bag. How or why, nobody knows....

  • You walk around with blue play dough stuck to the bottom of your sock all day. Or worse yet, a sticker stuck to your back-side.

  • You go to take a sip of your water and find an orange slice floating around in it. At this point, don't ask questions, just get a clean cup!

  • You hear frantic crys for help and find a mischievous two year old hanging from the top of his bedroom door, as stuck as can be. And no, this is not the first time this has happened.

  • You have to share sips of your flavored coffee with at least three other little people. And yes, you still drink it after that, slober and all.

  • You refer to tasty food as 'yummy' and say 'bye-bye' when you hang up the phone.

Have any funny ones to add?


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