1John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Good Things Jar & No Resolutions

Well folks- we made it to the end of 2014!  Tonight we will read through our jar to remember the good things that happened this past year.  I hope the kids see this as valuable.  I sure do!  Time flies by, and we forget the small things that bring us joy.  That is the point of this jar in our house.
It sits on the kitchen window sill next to a popsicle stick recipe holder that Ethan made for Mother's Day several years ago.  In the recipe holder are some strips of paper, ready to be used to write something good down.  It could be something as simple as "Today I saw an eagle," or "I had an amazing dream."  We do not read them or tell anyone what we have written down.  We just write down the "thing" and date it and sign it.  This is a great way to keep our glasses half full, and to be reminded of all of the blessings. 
Right about now, I'm willing to bet that people are making their New Year Resolutions.  I do not ever do that.  Here's my thought- If you have something that you are feeling led to do- do it.  NOW.  Not next year.  Start each and every day as though TODAY is your last chance to follow through- your last chance to say something important- your last chance to start something.  If by the time you go to bed you can look back at your day and say to yourself, "Do I feel satisfied with the way I treated people today?  Did I do everything on my list to the best of my ability?  Did I do my best to glorify God?", then you have accomplished so much more than any New Year Resolution that you can come up with.  
I'll drink to that!
♥♥♥Happy New Year!♥♥♥

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Game Day

Guess what?  My handsome hubby purchased me a shiny new camera for Christmas!  Guess what else?  I am so not educated about cameras that I am still figuring out how to take a photo that isn't blurry.  It could be a while before I get it all figured out, so please be patient with any fuzzy blog posts over the next couple of weeks.  I am thrilled to have a new camera- it's beautiful.   It's a Nikon Coolpix600.   It weighs less than the camera I was using, and the flash and zoom actually work. ♥  I cannot figure out how to up the shutter speed to capture children in motion, and that is rough because most of my photos include children in motion.  Anyone know how?  It says nothing in the manual, and the internet isn't helping, either.
ANYWAY- we had a board game morning yesterday.  Any time we have a break from school, I try to keep the kids busy with activities that they don't see every day.  I got out several games that would cater to each age group.
Here is what our mornings have been looking like!  Cartoons!
It's finally cold again- we built a nice fire yesterday.  It's blazing again this morning, too. 
I have no problem with kids relaxing with cartoons in the mornings.  Especially when they all work so hard at school and preschool.  I want their break to actually FEEL like a break.  That means it is necessary to relax the schedule.
Candyland is always a popular choice for the kids.  Not much reading involved, just colors and taking turns.
Another fantastic game is called Pop Up Pirate.  The kids take turns inserting their pirate sword into the barrel.  Only one slot is "loaded" to make the pirate POP up out of the barrel, and when it happens everyone is always surprised! 
For the older kids, that game called Rush Hour is fantastic.  This is a one person game, but more than one child can participate if they choose to.  
The child chooses a card and places the cars onto the traffic grid as shown.  The goal is to get the red car out of rush hour traffic, by only sliding the cars along the grid.  It's a great puzzle game, a time killer, a thought invoker.  Two thumbs up!
Of course, there is always time for trains.  Every day. 
I figured out how to play with the color on the new camera.  Pretty neat!  (Probably very old news to most of you, but my old camera was really a dinosaur.)  I never would've bought myself a new one.  I'm very grateful to my handsome hubby!  
We really took advantage of the sunshine yesterday and walked down to the park to play.  I left the camera home because I hadn't figured out the shutter speed.  It was a BEAUTIFUL afternoon! 
♥♥♥Happy Tuesday!♥♥♥

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Chaos

Did everyone have a fabulous Christmas?  Last Tuesday, we all played Christmas Bingo.  Every "Bingo" won a prize!  Here the kids were, modeling their light up animal rings.
We wore our festive Christmas attire and or jammies. :)
They were really good at holding off on the eating of their Bingo MNMs. 
♥ This game is a fun way for me to go crazy and spoil the kids with unnecessary gifts.  ♥
Everyone "won" four or five.
We enjoyed our Christmas day, also.  My favorite part was the riddle scavenger hunt that Adam and I sent our kids on.  They had to think, solve and find their final surprise.
I enjoyed visiting both sides of our family.  The business of it, the food and laughter was wonderful. 
It was all chaos, really.  Fun, organized chaos.  With food.  
Our kids recreated their roles in the funny photo shoot.  8 years later.
Well, it is back to the grind this morning!  I am not really "here", though.  My mind is still relaxing.  In a house where all signs of Christmas are gone.  It feels so clean.  (Satisfied sigh.)  
No preschool, but just fun time today. 
♥♥♥Happy Monday!♥♥♥

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Jump Rattle & Roll

Prepare yourself for a post full of fuzzy photos!  It's hard to take clear photos while on bouncy contraptions.  We took a fun trip yesterday to Jump Rattle & Roll, a wonderful place to play.  
We arrived right as they were opening the door, so we had the place to ourselves for a bit in the beginning.  I LOVE THIS PLACE.  At $7 per child, it is a great deal.  I really like the upbeat staff, too. 
I got to play for free.
There were several air hockey tables. :)
This is one of the two rooms.  The way I like to keep the kids under my wing is that we all stay in the same room at all times.  This way I don't lose sight of anyone, and we can all be excited every time we move to the other room.  It's a fantastic way to exercise and use up energy while not being rained on.  
My phone took lots of very fuzzy action photos.  I still like them!
I love that there is also this climber to play on!  Sometimes too much bouncing can make a child not feel so well.  It's great to have an alternative.
The large foam blocks are always a hit.
I love the fuzzy action shots! 
There was no wall too tall for the kids, they all had a really fun time.  I did, too!  It's fun for me when I can make it fun for them. 
This will be my last blog post until after Christmas.  Today we have a rowdy game of Christmas Bingo, carrying on the new tradition from last year.  The kids look fantastic this morning in Christmas attire/jammies  and I am finally wearing my ugly sweater! 
May your Christmas be spent well this year, enjoy the time with your families and we will see you next week!
♥♥♥Happy Tuesday, Merry Christmas!♥♥♥

Monday, December 22, 2014

Goats Milk Soap- Revised

Alright, I finally received the scented essential oil I was waiting for and decided to attempt to make more soap.  I am 100% happy with the results this time and thought I would share with you.
To see the process that I used to make soap last time, you can click HERE.  I was not pleased with the time it took to melt the soap in the microwave, and it made the soap pouring process very messy and tricky because the soap was cooling too quickly to pour a smooth bar.  This time I double boiled the soap base on the stove.  I just took a medium size sauce pan and filled it 2/3 full of water.  I placed a bowl over the top of that, with the soap base inside.  I turned it up to high, and in minutes, (praise the Lord!) my goats milk soap base was melted into a beautiful, milky, creamy substance.  What a difference!  
This doTerra Wild Orange oil was the magic ingredient for this particular batch of soap.  Orange scent in the winter time is a wise decision, particularly for anyone who lives here in the Pacific Northwest, trying to find a ray of sunshine in the long dreary rainy winter.  The scent awakens your senses- you can drop some of it into your water for a refreshing orange taste.   It fights depression, brightens your mood.  
I poured a generous amount into the soap mixture.  Probably about a third of the bottle.
Next, in went some grated mandarin orange peel. 
This time I used a soup ladle to pour the delicious mixture into the soap molds.  It was much smoother, there was not soap everywhere like last time.  The mixture remained melted and smooth in the double boiler.
I prepared the labels the same as before.
I love the way the orange peel looks.  The house smelled amazing for a couple of days!
These will be Christmas gifts.
Friday, the kids created some gingerbread ornaments.  They were kits and were very easy for the kids to put them together.
Just peel and stick!  Although some of the pieces weren't sticking, so we had to get out the glue.
It was pretty easy though.  You could create this project using construction paper pieces, too.  
Stephanie put a scarf on baby Zuko over the weekend.  
♥♥♥Happy Monday!♥♥♥

Friday, December 19, 2014

Jesus, King Of The World

 I have been so busy that for me, it hasn't yet really felt like the Christmas season.  What I was lacking was Jesus.  I often tell the kids about Jesus, yet I hadn't REALLY driven it home about why we celebrate Jesus being born.  How on earth could I possibly articulate how precious Jesus is?  I have to think like a child.  "Jesus is the king of THE ENTIRE WORLD!  He has saved us all!!  He is stronger than Superman, Iron Man, all of the superheroes put together.  He has more love in his heart than the entire world!  He even defeated death."  (Looks of awe came from the kids.)  I was actually thanking God that nobody asked me what Jesus saved us from, because I'm not sure I want to give all of these sweethearts nightmares.  
We created a small baby Jesus.  I love to let kids draw faces on all by themselves.  Each one had such character.
We added a hand print camel to the scene.  I explained to them that people traveled through the desert on camels to see Jesus.  They all know that a star guided them.
This was the finished product. 
I printed this story out for each child and stapled it to the bottom of their scene.  You can print one out HERE at this link.
I love this!
NOW it feels like Christmas.
We took a minute to go see the nativity that has been set up.  I'm not sure if the kids noticed it before yesterday.  With the story fresh in their minds, they were excited to see a 3D version of it.
I saw something great on Facebook.  "Jesus is not the reason for the season, He is the reason for every day of our lives." 
Meanwhile, the cats found their stocking, loaded with three freshly sewn and catnip filled pillow.  They were each wrapped.  Smudge found it first.
He almost ripped the stocking apart, so I gave in and gave him his gift.  
Petra immediately followed.
Her mouth is always open in her play time photos.  
Zuko loves to push his pillow around with his face.  He will just push it across the room.  It's hilarious! 
Something awesome- Smudge seems to be feeling better after steady dosing of his organic herb drops.  
♥♥♥Happy Friday!♥♥♥