Friday, August 29, 2014

The Saturday 7: Advance Edition!

Advance edition because we're leaving to go camping for the weekend in an hour. (More on that in my final point!)

1. Last Saturday we went to a surprise 30th birthday party for one of our friends. I can't believe we're moving into our 30s. Oy. Anyway, it was a family affair at a lake, and the girls had a blast. Lucy loves lakes and makes me so nervous. Haha. For being my nervous child, she seems to have no fear in lakes. Lena freaked out about the sand at first, but was actually walking and playing in it by the end of the day. Progress.

2. On Tuesday, we went to the zoo with my sister and her boys. She had free passes, so we didn't even pay a cent! Lena loved all the animals and people and being outside. Lucy, on the other hand, was a total grump. She just does not do well with being hot, tired, or bored. Haha. I know. Does any kid? But she seems to get hot, tired, and bored faster than most kids her age. Drama.
You'll notice the 4 year old is in the stroller instead of the 19 month old. And she's totally unimpressed by the wallaby an inch away from her!
Lena with my nephew, Tristan
This about sums it up.
3. I read the book of Esther this week (still going strong on reading through the Bible in one year - I think I'm actually going to do it for the first time!). I know it's an awesome story of the redemption of God's people, and a testament to Esther's bravery, but I can't help but feel bad for her. She was swept away from her home and life as she knew it because she was beautiful. She had to sleep with the King - who was probably some old, nasty, fat guy - on a trial basis to see if she was good enough. Then, lucky her! She got chosen to be his queen. Nobody cared if she wanted to marry the nasty old guy. I know it was probably common in that day for women to be married off, but Esther didn't really even get a husband. She was put in a harem and summoned every once in a while to do the King's bidding. And even after she saved the whole Jewish nation, she still spent the rest of her life in the King's harem. She didn't get to go home. She didn't get to go back to her life. At least she got to be rich. That's got to count for something, right?

4. Lucy has been obsessed with dressing up and getting beautiful and posing for pictures lately. One night last week, she insisted I tie her comforter around her waist, then said, "Let's pretend I'm a movie star. You can take my picture!" Here are some of the pictures we took:

Then she wanted me to pose. She told me to do some yoga moves. Haha.
Lola wanted to play "movie star" too.
She cracks me up. And worries me. What is she going to be like as a teenager??

5. Justin had the whole week off of work. We can't afford to go on vacation and didn't even plan much for a stay-cation. He did some work around the house, split some wood for the wood burner, and took one day to go fishing. He fished for 8 hours and caught 19 fish. Not my idea of a good time, but he was in his glories. Haha. As it so happens, my job does not give me paid vacations. So we agreed that I could have one day to do whatever I wanted child-free this week. It wasn't really a full day (I was home by 3), and I didn't spend it doing all fun stuff, but I'll take what I can get!

First, I drove up to Newaygo and went to the Riverstop Cafe. It is super cute and I spent 2 glorious hours checking my facebook in peace, drinking coffee without anyone climbing on me and sloshing it into my lap, and eating a whole cinnamon roll by myself without little beggars asking for pieces of it. I also made some headway on homeschool planning and have almost a month prepared.
I would've stayed longer, but I felt bad for hogging a table for so long and only spending $6. Haha.

My next venture was thrift shopping. I went to 3 stores in a row and found all kinds of useful treasures - mostly children's books. I just can't help myself. We're totally out of shelf space, but I love finding books that I enjoyed as a kid or ones that I've heard good things about and never actually read. Plus I'm always searching for books with my girls' names in them. (Lena is admittedly more difficult to find than Lucy) Today I found a book called Sadie and the Snowman that I couldn't resist, because Sadie is a person instead of a dog!! I also got Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little in incredible shape, a new Junie B. Jones book, and a Captain Underpants book. Lucy is strangely obsessed with all things potty-related, so I think she'll love Cap'n U. 

My other thrift store finds included a book I forgot to take a picture of (This is the Stable), a brand new bead set for Lucy, a small crate, a small tote with counting bears/cards in it ($1!), and an assortment of wooden "train table toys" for 35 cents!
Like the trees/signs/people in this picture. (Train tracks not included)

I also got a huge bag of waffle blocks for $1.50. Although, now that I've seen the price on Amazon ($140), I'm thinking I should re-sell them! Ha!

5. I tried on 9 pairs of jeans between the 3 stores I went to, and not a single one fit. Most of them were too small. A couple were too big. They were all in the same size range. So frustrating. And my last stop of the day was going the Secretary of State to renew my driver's license. Fortunately, I got in and out in 10 minutes. Unfortunately, I had to get a new picture and fess up to my new weight. Three words: diet starts Tuesday. Ugh.

6. My day of leisure was wonderful, but much too short. I got home at 3:00 and didn't sit down until 10:00. Despite my loud and emphatic opinions about camping, we are going to try it this weekend.
This is how I feel about that.
My opinions remain the same, but I'm willing to set them aside for the sake of my girls. So many of my friends have such wonderful memories of camping with their families. I don't have that, but I want my girls to. And so we shall camp. We're cheating and staying in a [tiny] cabin with Justin's parents. We have one bedroom and one full-size bed for the 4 of us. Not sure how that's going to work out, but it's better than tenting it! Other than my distaste for dirtiness, the outdoors, and bears, my complaint about camping is this: it is I have been making lists all week. Grocery lists. Packing lists. To do lists. Yesterday, I spent an hour and $100 grocery shopping. I prepped food, cleaned the disastrous house, and frantically worked on my last minute homeschooling stuff. Today I have spent hours cramming, toys, pack n' plays, food, games, swimsuits, towels, and clothing for every possible weather condition into my van. We will drive half an hour to the campground whereupon I will be called upon to unpack all of the aforementioned encumbrances. Oh. Did I mention the weather?
At least we won't be tenting it. At least we won't be tenting it. At least we won't be tenting it.
Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. I love Justin's family. I'm sure we'll have fun playing Wizard and eating delicious food. But if you don't hear from me again, assume I've been mauled and eaten by a bear in a grisly (Grizzly?), horrific death.

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Saturday 7

1. We added another activity to our Summer Bucket List in Reverse: a Whitecaps game. Lucy got a free ticket for completing the summer reading program at the library, but there were only 3 dates to choose from. Justin drove by the ballpark Tuesday night and saw that Wednesday was "Princess Night" and it happened to be one of the dates available for Lucy's free ticket. We knew we couldn't pass that up! So Lucy dressed up in her princess garb, we left Lena with my parents, and we headed off to the game. Lucy was quite bored by the game, but she loved spotting all the princesses in the park. And I actually anticipated her boredom and brought a Junie B. Jones book, so we read in the grass while Justin watched the game. :-) Her favorite part was the 10 minute fireworks show at the end. Haha.

2. Thursday was my mom's birthday, and it worked out that all my siblings were available (unheard of!) so we all went out for dinner at Rio Grande. I ordered the Mac n' Cheese for Lucy, and when it came, there were fries on the plate with it. Libby said, "I hope those fries don't make her puke." Lucy's never eaten at Rio Grande before so I asked the waitress what the fries were fried in. She said it was some kind of vegetable oil, so I gave Lucy the go ahead to eat them. A few minutes later, the waitress literally came running back to our table frantically saying that they fry them in soybean oil. We all laughed and assured her that Lucy wasn't going to die, but she would probably puke. Sure enough, two minutes later, Lucy filled an entire glass with puke. Poor kid. She was fine immediately after puking, though, and proceeded to down her entire helping of mac n' cheese.

3. I realized this week that I found out I was pregnant with the baby I lost before Lena when Lucy was almost exactly 19 months old. Well Lena is 19 months old today and I can't imagine wanting to be pregnant yet! Haha. Don't get me wrong. I do want more babies. Just not for a while. Lena keeps me on my toes. I am not ready to be pregnant and chasing her around. Oy. 

4. I started a new blog this week. You know what they say. One can never have too many blogs! Haha. I wanted a separate blog to devote to my homeschooling stuff, so I don't clutter this one up with it. I'm probably going to be annoying and pin all of my entries in an effort to get some readership. I'm thinking about trying my hand at monetizing it with ads, but it has to be operational for 6 months first. We'll see . . . Anyway, you can check it out here, if you so desire. So far there's no new content that hasn't been on this blog. Once we actually start school, I'll start posting more frequently. I know you're excited. ;-)

5. I came across this article on Pinterest this week: The First Leap of Faith Toward Jesus. This quote really got me:
I want my boys to know Jesus AND be saved from difficulty. To be honest, I’ve tried to claim God’s role as the Holy Spirit in my sons’ lives as if I could speed up or control their Salvation.
I feel so much responsibility for my girls' salvation. I honestly panic when I start to think about them going to Hell. And I think I'm crazy to bring more children into this world when there's a huge chance they won't want anything to do with Jesus. I'm haunted by the stories of Christian families who do everything "right" and their kids walk away from the church, calling their upbringing cultish and oppressive. All that's to say, this article was a good reminder that I can't be my girls' Holy Spirit. It's scary to relinquish control (that I never had in the first place), but also a little reassuring that I don't have to carry that burden of saving them. I'll do my job to plant the seeds, to show them grace, to model what it is to have a relationship with Jesus, but then the Holy Spirit will do the rest.

6. We finally met with a realtor about selling our house this week. He gave glowing praise to our location, house layout, and cleanliness/nice decor. And then he shocked us with the price he thinks we can get for it. If we can actually sell the house at that price, we would be able to pay the realtor's commission and closing costs on the house and be left with exactly what we need to pay off our student loans. I never imagined we'd be able to pay them off this quickly. I'm trying not to count my chickens before they hatch. I know it could take a while for our house to sell, it might not appraise for what the realtor thinks it will, or we won't be able to sell it for that much. But if we could get even close, we could pay off the majority of our loans and have an extra $600 every month!!!! Thank you, Jesus!!

7. I can't think of a seventh point and I'm in a hurry, so I'm going to leave you with this hilariously adorable prayer I overheard from Lucy this week:

Praying before lunch after just having received a time-out:

“Dear Jesus, thank you that I got a time out and learned to be nice to my sister. Thank you that mommy washed all my pretty dresses. Thank you for Belle and Sleeping Beauty and all the other princesses. Amen.”

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Saturday 7

1. Lucy got her first hair cut last Saturday. She loves her long hair, but it's getting so scraggly that I've been working on getting her to cut it for a while. Saturday night I gave her a bath and she finally said, "I think I'm ready to get my hair cut." I enlisted my mom and we did it then and there before she could change her mind. In the end, we hardly took anything off. Like seriously an inch. But we didn't want to cut off all the curl and were really just looking to cut off the dead stuff. It definitely looks better and still has the curl!

2. This week has been consumed with homeschool planning and prep. I'm probably making it more involved than I need to, but that's just how I roll. On Wednesday, we spent the day at Kelly's house to share plans/bounce ideas off each other. That night, we left the kids with our husbands and went shopping at 6:30 pm. I didn't get home 'til 11:30 pm! Woohoo! Crazy childless moms out shopping 'til the wee hours of the morning! It was so fun and I'm feeling much more prepared.

3. Lucy has been on a Junie B. Jones kick lately. We went to a different library than usual this week and found a whole bunch of new Junie B. books. I have been reading to her until my mouth dries out every night and have been thinking in Junie B. phrases. But I love to see her excited about reading! I can't wait to move on to some less obnoxious literature! I got a couple Alex books from my childhood for her, but they're too long and don't have enough pictures. She lost interest before I finished the first page.

4. Have you seen this article all over facebook this week? (Give Me Gratitude or Give Me DebtI finally read it after my 3rd facebook friend shared it. I loved it, too, but thought it was interesting to see how it resonated among so many of my very different friends. My social justice loving friends shared it. My conservative mom friends shared it. My liberal activist friends shared it. My rich friends and poor friends shared it. Do we all resonate with wanting to "Keep Up with the Joneses" and love how she gives us reason not to try so hard? Do we identify with calling out our greed for what it is and recognize our need to be thankful? Or are people just sharing to shame those of us who are vocal about wishing for bigger and better kitchens/houses/what have you? Haha. I'm gonna go with options 1 and 2. ;-)

5. Random Lena observation from this week: she always wants to be included when something funny is going on. The other day I had to bring my dad home from the mechanic. Lena was in the backseat, and when my dad and I chuckled about something, she started laughing too and said, "funny!" Today, Niki came over and was telling us a hilarious story. As we were all laughing, Lena ran into the room, started cackling and again shouted, "funny!" I love her. Little cheeseball.

6. Yesterday, we had a family fun day at the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo! I didn't actually know there was such a thing until I got a call from our local library letting us know Lucy had won a 4 pack of tickets through the Summer Reading Club! I looked it up online and was a little nervous that it wouldn't really interest Lucy, but we decided to try it anyway. I underestimated how far of a drive it is to Kalamazoo. Poor Lucy thought she was going to die. The girl has some major motion sickness. We hadn't been in the car longer than 15 minutes before she started crying that her belly hurt. I gave her some children's pepto and tried to distract her, but she was inconsolable after an hour and a half in the car. We finally had to pull over and let her walk around for a while and buy her a Sprite. We made it without any puking incidents and she was totally fine on the way home - didn't complain once about her belly! So weird. 

Anyway, the Air Zoo is definitely a little over Lucy's head (ha ha - pun), but they had a small section of kid rides that she loved. I don't understand how she can get sick in the car, but can ride spinny rides all afternoon without a twinge!
Group selfie on the Ferris Wheel! Lena was OK at first, but got more and more nervous as the ride continued. 
Justin and Lucy on the Ferris Wheel.
The plane. Lena didn't like this one either. Haha.
Lucy's favorite! This one went really high and fast and made me sick. Justin had to go with Lucy like 10 times. Haha.

The only ride Lena liked.
In the clouds on the way out. (With a very sleepy Lena)
It was a great day! And the best part is, both girls got in free, so we still have 2 tickets! Theoretically, we could have another family day, but I think Justin and I might go back by ourselves. There were a ton of huge war planes and exhibits that Justin wanted to read all about, but the girls wouldn't have any of that. And until I figure out how to better handle Lucy's motion sickness, we're going to avoid long car rides with her!

7. I've been feeling really guilty about how little time I spend really playing with Lucy lately. I have a hard time with un-structured play, but it's hard to play games or read books with Lena around. That's one reason I'm looking forward to homeschooling. I'll have pre-planned activities for us to do every day, and we'll be spending lots of time together. Of course, in a couple months I'm probably going to be crying that I don't get enough time to spend with Lena, but hopefully we'll be able to make it work!

Week One Lesson Plans

I have written and re-written these plans like 15 times. But I think this is what I've settled on for our first week of homeschool! It's going to be long. Prepare yourself. (And I did a bunch of copying and pasting from a Word document, so the spacing is kind of messed up. Sorry.)

We're going to start the day after Labor Day when all the public schools start, so our first week is actually shortened. I figure that's a good way to ease into it anyway. To see a more detailed layout of our daily schedule, read my entry here.

Weekly Themes
Letter: Ii (We're just going to focus on the short i sound for now - and we're starting with "i" per Kelly's Abeka curriculum.)
Number: 1
Sight Words: the, and, it
Verse: "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11 NIRV)

We will review all of the above every morning during circle time.

Alphabet Activity: Igloo match-up, scavenger hunt style
 - I haven't totally figured out the logistics of this yet. I want to hide lowercase letters on "blocks of ice" around the house, then have Lucy match them with uppercase letters on the igloo. Kind of like this:
Picture credit

"I" worksheet from book
 - One of my focuses for this year is to get Lucy to write her letters correctly. I bought some cheap-o letter workbooks from Dollar Tree that have a page for every letter that we'll be working on. 
Link - but don't pay Amazon prices. Go to Dollar Tree and spend $1!
Daily letter, number, sight word work
- I bought "manuscript paper" from Dollar Tree. Every day Lucy's going to write our letter of the week, number of the week and sight words of the week. 

Bible Lesson: Jesus is Born
 - We're doing the New Testament through the Jesus Storybook Bible, which starts with the Christmas story! Haha. We've read this one a few times before, so we're taking a new approach. Instead of focusing on the fact that Jesus came to earth as a baby, we're focusing on why Jesus came to earth. Here's the little blip I wrote that I'll do before we read the Bible story. It doubles as a review of the Old Testament stories we did last year.

- Craft: "Jesus is My Super Hero" cape.
  - We're going to use one of Justin's old t-shirts to make this no-sew cape. I found a reverse clip of a "Super-J" here. I originally planned on printing it on iron-on transfer paper and ironing it to the cape. But transfer paper costs more than I want to pay, so I think I might just make my own stencil for Lucy to paint. That'll be more hands-on for her anyway, since she can't really iron. 

Wednesday is usually going to be our day off. We have Storytime at the library in the morning and Lucy's going to start going to Awana on Wednesday evenings. But since we already have Monday off this week, we're just going to do a shortened day on Wednesday. We'll skip the alphabet activities/writing and just work on one of our "specials" for the week:

Senses: I'm going to find stuff for Lucy to touch, taste, smell, etc. 

-        Touch (blindfolded)
o       What is it?
o       What does it feel like? Hot, cold, wet, sticky, scratchy, smooth?
o       Ice, others – point out which one starts with i
-          Taste
o       Sweet: ice cream
o       Sour: lemon
o       Salty: pickle
o       Bitter: any suggestions that won't totally make Lucy gag?
o       Make chart, point out which word starts with i 
-          Smell (blindfolded)
o       Can you identify the smells?
o       Popcorn, soap, coffee, crayons, play-dough, something that starts with i?
-          Sound
o       Loud, quiet, high, low

-          Sight (not totally sure what to do for this one)

Math Activities:  Inches (because it starts with the letter "i")
   -   Measure stuff, write down how long it is in inches: “The table is ____ __nches long.”
Number “1” worksheet from our math workbook.
Link - again, don't buy this on Amazon. I got it at Sparta Variety for $2.99
Daily letter, number, sight word work

-          Curious George Builds an Igloo
o       Igloo building

o       Point out sight words in book 

Alphabet Activity
-          Alphabet/sight word Bingo
This is from Oriental Trading, but I'm going to make my own - mostly with lowercase letters. Plus the 3 sight words we learned this week. 

Sight word worksheets (from Pinterest)
This packet is $5. Not sure if I'm going to spring for it or just try to make my own.
*Edited to add: I found free worksheets here!*

Daily letter, number, sight word work

Put the sight words we learned on the word-a-pillar:

Special: Senses
-          Sucker taste test: I found an idea on Pinterest that taste tested ice cream. But Lucy's not enough of a ice cream connoisseur to taste differences. Plus, ice cream is expensive! So we're going to do it with dum-dum suckers. Lucy definitely knows her sucker flavors. Ha.
-          Read a book about senses
-         Make a booklet like this:

As of now, I'm not planning based on themes. I'm working off the week's letter and kind of
doing what I want for math and specials. But I'm definitely open to change! We'll see how the first week goes!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Homeschool: Take One

Lucy turned 4 in May, and could definitely go to preschool this year. However, I'm not totally ready to send her off yet, and I'd really like to start her at Christian school. It seems silly to pay Christian school prices for preschool, though, so I've decided to try my hand at homeschooling. How much can I screw her up at the preschool level, right? Ha. I'm going to be honest and tell you another one of the big reasons I'm not sending her to preschool is that I didn't go to preschool. My mom never sat down and did school with me, and she certainly didn't write up a ridiculous curriculum like I intend to. I started kindergarten at 4 years old, reading and writing and doing just fine. That's another reason I feel like I can't mess Lucy up too bad. ;-)

Anyway, I've been pinning homeschool ideas on pinterest for months and finally decided to buckle down and organize them. At first, I was really overwhelmed and second guessing my decision not to buy a curriculum. But I finally hit my stride and have really started to enjoy it. Why not buy a curriculum? 1. We're flat broke. 2. It just doesn't seem necessary. With resources like pinterest I feel like I can easily make my own. 3.If I can say this without coming across as totally conceited, I feel like God has gifted me a little bit in this area. Ideas just pop in my head and I love organizing them and tweaking them. I lay awake in bed at night planning alphabet activities and themed units. Haha. 4.My best friend is homeschooling her preschooler and did buy a curriculum, so I can mooch ideas off her when I get stumped. ;-)

All that's to say, here's my rough homeschool schedule. We're going to try it for a couple weeks and see what needs to be changed.

I'm going to let Lucy wake up on her own every day. We're not going to be rigid about starting by 8:00 every morning or anything ridiculous like that. Lucy's kind of a slow waker, so I'm going to let her watch one, 30 minute TV show, then we'll turn off the TV and eat breakfast together at the table, while reading a short devotion.

Circle Time
After breakfast, we'll start circle time. I still need to buy some kind of calendar/weather chart thingy, because I know myself and I'll get frustrated if I try to make my own. Haha. My goal is to go over the date, and maybe sing a song about the days of the week/months of the year to start learning those. We'll do the day's weather. Then we'll sing songs. Lena (19 months) will be included in this part, too, so we'll have a wide variety of fun songs. I've already decided that I'm going to write all our songs on popsicle sticks and let each girl draw one every morning. Otherwise there will be fighting and whining and lollygagging when choosing songs. We're also going to review our weekly verse, our letter of the week, number of the week, and weekly sight words (I'm going off this list and aiming for about 3 words a week).

Work Time
We'll have two "work times" each day, and I have it split up like this for the week:

Monday: alphabet/bible
Tuesday: math/literature
Thursday: alphabet/special
Friday: sight words/special

(We're taking Wednesday off for storytime in the morning and Awana in the evening.)

These are the "specials" I want to work on: senses, money, telling time, address/phone number, cutting, manners, special themes to lead into field trips: apples, farm, etc.

So for our first "work time" of the morning, we'll begin with a fun activity. I have pinterest boards full of alphabet and number activities, plus a brain full of other ideas. ;-) This will be something active, moving around, not sitting at the table. 

After the activity, we'll get to the "book work." Lucy loves doing workbooks and worksheets, so I think she'll thrive on this. I know not all kids her age do. It won't be anything intense, just writing letters and numbers, and doing pages out of the workbooks I buy at dollar stores. I also intend to have her write her weekly letter, number, and sight words every day. 

While Lucy does her book work, I'm hoping to have some busy bags prepared for Lena. I'm really worried about how Lena will do with so much of my attention focused on Lucy.

I haven't decided how long break time will be or what we'll do then. I might let Lucy watch another TV show or might make her entertain herself for a while. I just know that she'll need a break from "school" at this point, and I'll need time to start a load of laundry or give Lena some one on one attention.

Work Time Part Two
This will be less formal than the alphabet/math stuff. We'll either do a Bible lesson, literature, or one of our specials. 

Bible: last year, we did the Old Testament in our Jesus Storybook Bible, so this year, we'll read a story each week and do a corresponding craft/activity. And our verse every week will go with the story.

Literature: read a book, do a craft about it. I haven't decided if the book will go along with our letter of the week or if we'll just do books Lucy's interested in or follow a certain theme or what.


Rest Time/Nap Time
Lena will nap, Lucy will have "rest time." I think I'll probably make busy bags for her this year. I've found lots of ideas on pinterest, but I'm actually leaning away from the strictly "educational" ones, and thinking more about just stickers, puzzles, band-aids, fun office supplies, etc. I'll keep you informed. 

Educational TV/Website Time
Lucy only "rests" for an hour, but Lena sleeps at least two hours, so I like to find something quiet for Lucy to do after she gets up. (And let's not kid ourselves. I want those whole two hours of Lena's nap to myself. ;-) ) So I've decided that Lucy will be allowed an hour of TV/computer as long as she watches my pre-approved TV shows/movies. I'm going to set up a profile on Netflix that is full of Leapfrog shows, Veggie Tales, Super Why, etc. And I'll let her do ABC Mouse or the other educational websites I've found on Pinterest. 

That's all I've got planned other than lots of reading. What do you think? Too much? Not enough? Any other ideas for "specials" for me? Like I said, this is just a rough outline. We'll see how it actually goes!

P.S. Week One curriculum coming up soon!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Saturday 7

1. I had a startling realization this week that if I intend to start school with Lucy at the beginning of September, I better start working on my curriculum! I decided not to spend the money on a real curriculum, but it's going to be a lot of work to organize my own. I need to spend a day all by myself to work on it instead of trying to squeeze in a little bit of planning during nap time every day. Gotta make that happen . . .

2. I had another bout with depression on Thursday. I don't know what my deal is. On Monday, I massively cleaned the house after a week of ignoring it during VBS. Tuesday we had a "pool party" with a bunch of Lucy's friends, and Wednesday we were busy going to the library and running errands. On Thursday I crashed. I honestly think it's such a fight with selfishness. I feel like I did my duty cleaning the house and doing fun things for the girls so I should be rewarded with a day to do whatever I want. Well that's just ridiculous and selfish. Time to get over it.

3. So we can add a couple more things to our Summer Bucket List [In Reverse]: The pool party with friends (which I don't have a single picture of), today's picnic, and kite flying:

4. We found out this week that our renters bought a house and are planning on moving out by the end of this month! So it's time to sell! Thanks to buying it as a foreclosure when the market was down, we owe quite a bit less than its worth. So if we can sell it quickly and at a decent price, we stand to profit a little bit. Adios, student loans!! I'm going to call a realtor on Monday and get this show on the road. What's funny is that my older sister also just listed her house for sale, and my younger sister is moving out of her apartment at the end of this month. Sisters! So if you know anyone looking for a house is Sparta or Cedar Springs, we've got the hookups! ;-)

5. Last week, I wrote about the funny conversations Lucy had with "Siri" on my phone. Well this week, she figured out the "talk to text" feature. She proceeded to text Niki the most hilarious things ever. It was partly funny because of what she was saying, but more funny to see what my phone thought she was saying. An excerpt:

Eat nice Niki I love you nice Niki for no reason I just love you so much.
Okay p diddy not know tuesday am.
Meant to say Lucy can not do that we did not go to the Asian I did not do any of the stuff that I typed but its so fun to have you and I love you so much and friend Niki.
Then Lucy said something about "I love you forever and we'll be friends forever." Niki responded, "yes we'll be friends forever" and Lucy said, "Until we die?" So Niki answered "Hopefully we'll be together forever and ever in heaven." Lucy responded "Ok when we die I know we'll stick together in heaven with God in every way Monday." The random Monday aside, I thought that was so sweet!

 6. Instagram pictures of the week:
Lucy being her usual diva, crazy, weird self. Haha.
Summer fun: popsicles, chalk, and caterpillars.
Guess who picked out Lena's outfit? Floucy shirt and flouncy skirt. Another trick for grocery shopping day: books! Late night rummy with Luke and Tater. Fun with Libby and her iPad.
Backyard sunset, my Dad's friend the finch who sits outside our window all day, book in the kids' section of the library: Bears: Big Bad Biters. Enough said.  
7. I have a new favorite song: Jesus, Thank You by Sovereign Grace Music. We sang it in church on Sunday and I immediately went home and added it to my Spotify playlist. I'm pretty sure I've listened to it roughly 13,000 times since then. It's just so simple and pure and profound. Listen to it.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Saturday 7

1. As I'm sure you've already seen, I volunteered at VBS this week. I was in charge of the preschool room and had a blast with those hilarious little munchkins. I also had a blast writing up the "curriculum." It was very low-key, but totally my kind of thing. I have to share one funny story from the week. On Monday, we talked about Noah. I was trying to make it real for the kids, so I told them that the ark must have been loud with all those animals on it. And stinky! I asked them if the animals pooped on the ark and they all thought that was hilarious. At the end of the day, during the review, I said, "What did God put on the ark?" I expected the response to be "animals!" but instead, one little boy shouted out, "poopy!" Lol. Way to go, Teacher. 

2. Last year when I helped in VBS, we only made it two days before quitting. Lena refused to go to nursery, so I had to carry her all day, and Lucy was a wreck and spent those two days attached to my side crying for me to pick her up. This year, my wonderful sister, Niki, came to my house every morning to watch Lena. It was still traumatic. Lena screeched like she was being murdered every morning as Niki peeled her off of me. But she settled down quickly and had fun with Niki all week. And Lucy improved a little, at least. She didn't start melting down until part-way through Thursday. I actually had Niki come pick her up early because she would not stop crying/whining/begging to be held. And Friday was rough all day. I'm beginning to despair that she'll ever go to school. I'm going to have to homeschool her because otherwise she'll just cry all day every day at school. Ha.

3. Justin and I celebrated our 9th anniversary on Tuesday. As usual, we're poor and couldn't afford to do much. We got all dressed up and went to Amore for dinner. We went there for Libby's rehearsal dinner two years ago and I fell in love with their chicken alfredo, but haven't been back since. I was disappointed to see that chicken alfredo wasn't on their menu, and when I asked the waitress about it, she said they just do that for rehearsal dinners. Just then the owner walked by, though, and recommended anything with the four-cheese sauce because it's supposed to taste just like the alfredo. So I ordered sausage ravioli with four cheese sauce. The owner was the one who brought our meals out, and as he set mine in front of me, he said "So you went with the vodka sauce?" I said, "No. I got the four cheese." He whisked our meals back to the kitchen and had mine re-made. Finally, I got the right one. The sauce was amaaaazing. But there was definitely no sausage in my ravioli. I'm too chicken to speak up, though. Haha. Justin had Amore's famous lasagna, that was the size of his head. He wasn't overly impressed and didn't think it lived up to its reputation. The waitress came back to box up our leftovers and told us we could get a free dessert since it was our anniversary. We hadn't planned on getting dessert since we were stuffed, but we're too Dutch to pass up anything free! So we got the truffles.
Please forgive my horrendous photography skills.
It took forever for them to come out, and I was pretty underwhelmed. We got three tiny truffles that were way too fudgy. I definitely prefer the Ferrero Rocher ones from the grocery store checkout lane. Haha. Finally, we were ready to go, but just then the waitress started toward us with another plate of dessert! She said we got another free dessert for reasons unbeknownst to me. And this one (raspberry tiramisu) came with chocolate liqueur shots.
Neither Justin nor I have ever had a shot in our lives, but we chugged them down anyway. Two words: sick nasty! *shudder* I can't believe people drink stuff like that for enjoyment! I thought it tasted like cough syrup. Haha. So Amore was just ok in our book. Not really worth the nearly $50 we paid for our meal. We tried to be hip, urban foodies, but have come to accept that we're country bumpkins who prefer chain restaurants. Haha.

4. I've been slacking on my article reading lately, but I really loved this one: How To Manage a Mommy Meltdown. It was hilarious and relatable, but also useful. Most of her suggestions are things I've done in the past (blast worship music, get out of the house, have a mommy time-out) but I always forget in the heat of the moment when I just want to lay on the floor and cry. Haha.

5. My favorite part of the above article was this portion:
You check Facebook in between kissing booboos, wiping up syrup spills, and throwing your hair in a messy bun and you see that all your friends have gone for a jog at 4 am, actually taken showers, dressed their children in adorable matching outfits, and shared photos of their morning smoothie #kale.
I have been having such a bad attitude about all my healthy friends and their stupid healthy lifestyle posts. I now have three friends who are Beach Body Coaches. I love you all dearly, but if I have to see one more picture of you doing push-ups, I'm going to push up my fist through your face. ;-) (Don't worry. I don't actually possess the upper body strength to do any harm because I don't do push ups.) And then there's the clean eating bandwagon. Does anyone eat junk food anymore? Am I the only one who's not afraid of the chemicals in my pop? I know it's pure jealousy. I wish I could be disciplined enough to work out. I wish I liked vegetables and could say no to Reese's peanut butter cups. I wish everyone else would just be fat so I don't have to feel so out of place. Lol. I'm not sure how to get over it, though. So in the meantime, I'm just going to keep pinning snarky e-cards like this one:

6. Lucy recently figured out how to use "Siri" on my phone. I have an Android, so it isn't actually Siri, but it's the same idea. Lucy pushes the button and speaks into the phone, then the phone responds. I love the conversations they've been having.

Lucy: Frozen stuff
Phone: Here's some information about Frozen
Lucy: Frozen stuff, not information
Phone: Definition of formation
Lucy: Ugh. Song about the coronation.
Phone: Here are some pictures of carnations.
Lucy: Ugh! Let it Go with the real person not the fake Elsa.
Phone: I didn't quite catch that. Please try again.

It's quite entertaining. Although I need to figure out how to put filters on her google searches, so the phone doesn't mishear her someday and show her something she shouldn't be seeing! Haha.

7. I can't believe that summer is 2/3 of the way done. :-( I've been feeling guilty that we never made a summer bucket list, but then I decided that we're going to do the summer bucket list in reverse. We've done some fun stuff this summer. Maybe I'll make a list at the end of the summer of all the cool stuff we did. That way I won't feel guilty about not checking everything off the list. Haha. We've gone to the beach a couple times, did VBS, jumped in the sprinkler, had a tea party, spent hours in the pool, and Lucy even got to go bowling for the first time last weekend. Nothing too revolutionary, but a good summer nonetheless. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

VBS 2014 Recap

We did it! We survived the much anticipated week of VBS! This year, I was in charge of the preschool room. We only provide preschool for the VBS volunteers' kids, so we had 12-14 kids every day. Let me just say I have renewed respect for preschool teachers. I had these kids for 3.5 hours a day and they totally tired me out! Haha. I loved doing it, though, and we had a really great group of kids - no biters, no rebels, no one too cool to do the crafts. We had a blast all week! Here's my recap.

Monday was Noah:
We made a fun paper plate craft, sang "Rise and Shine" visited some goats at the animal pen, and learned that it's important to do what is right.
Click here to see all activities. 
Tuesday was Abraham
We did a star sticker craft, learned about God's promises, and sang "Father Abraham" of course!
Click here to see all activities. 
Wednesday was Moses
We were highlighting obedience, so we focused on the burning bush and Moses' obedience to God's command. We also talked about Pharoah's disobedience, and how that did not end well for him. Haha. This was my favorite craft of the week:
Click here to see all activities. 
Thursday was Rahab
We learned that we can trust God when we're scared, and rely on him to save us - not necessarily from scary things, but from sin. I asked the kids about their fears and loved their responses, we made a fun bead bracelet to remind us that we can trust God when we're scared, and learned a fun song to go with our verse. 
Click here to see all activities.
Friday was Jesus!
I attempted the daunting task of giving 2-4 year olds a brief preview of the life of Jesus, while weaving in the facts about sin, redemption, and salvation. Whew! I found a great salvation object lesson on Pinterest and did a fun craft.
Click here to see all activities. 
We also did a bunch of fun water activities on Friday. Be sure to check out the car wash I made. The kids loved it!

VBS Day 5: Jesus!

Jesus Can Make My Heart Clean!

Who can tell me what our story was about yesterday? That’s right. Rahab. She hid the spies from the bad guys and trusted God to save her when her city got destroyed. I told you yesterday that God has a plan to save us too. Our city isn’t going to get destroyed, but God is going to save us from something even worse: sin. Does anyone know what sin is? Sin is doing anything that the Bible says not to. The Bible says not to lie, so anytime we lie, that’s sin. The Bible says to be kind. So anytime we’re mean and unkind, we sin. The Bible also says that everyone sins. You sin. I sin. Rahab sinned. Moses sinned. Your moms and dads sin. And sin is very bad. Sin makes our hearts all dirty and gross. Sin has to be punished. But like I told you at the beginning, God has a plan to save us from sin and make our hearts clean again. That plan involves Jesus. You guys have heard of him before, right? Jesus lived in heaven where everything is perfect and happy. But he knew that we were sinful and needed him to save us, so he came down to earth. He didn’t come down as a big, powerful man. He came down as a little tiny baby. That’s what we celebrate at Christmas time – that Jesus came to earth as a baby to save us. And do you know how he saved us from our sin? When he grew up, He died on the cross. Remember how I said that sin has to be punished? Well when Jesus died, he got punished for our sin instead of us. Imagine if you stole a cookie from the cookie jar and your mom said you had to get a spanking. Now imagine that your sister said “I didn’t steal the cookie. But I’ll take the spanking.” That’s just like what Jesus did! He’s the only one in the whole world who has never sinned. He was perfect all the time. But he took the punishment for all of our sins! But here’s the best part. Jesus didn’t stay dead! After he died on the cross, his friends put him in a tomb – which is like a cave with a huge, heavy stone in front of the opening. But after three days, Jesus came back to life! And he came out of the tomb. After a little while, he went back up to heaven. And guess what? After we die, we can go up to heaven with Jesus too! But only people with clean hearts can go to heaven. So how do we get clean hearts? We just have to believe in Jesus. We have to pray and tell him that we’re sorry for sinning and ask him to make our hearts clean. And he will! Our verse for today is all about Jesus and how he saves us from our sin: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

On Wednesday, I took a picture of each of the kids holding a sign that said "Jesus Can Make My Heart Clean!" I had them developed and picked them up yesterday to use for our craft today. We glued our pictures onto a piece of construction paper, then added the pictures of Jesus' life from our "flannel" board. (All on one page for easy cutting.) 

I searched for "salvation object lessons" on Pinterest and discovered this hard boiled egg activity. I hard boiled an egg last night, then showed the kids how white and clean it was. Then I started to write sins on it with permanent marker, telling the kids that when we lie or steal or cheat that's called sin and sin makes our hearts dirty and yucky. Soon the egg was covered in black writing. I asked the kids if they would like to eat an egg like that. They emphatically responded, "no!" So I tapped the egg on the table and started to peel away the sins, explaining as I went that Jesus can peel away our sins if we ask for his forgiveness. Finally, I showed the kids the clean white egg and told them that our hearts can be clean like that because Jesus died for us! 

Water Fun!
This has nothing to do with Jesus, but I planned a few fun water activities for the kids today. It was a great time filler. We spent an hour outside going from station to station. 

First was the basic baby pool with all kinds of toys in it. I grabbed my girls' bath toys and pool toys - mostly bowls, spoons, cups, and funnels - and let the kids play to their hearts' content. I also added a few squirts of dish soap just to make it fun (and clean the girls' gross bath/pool toys while I was at it!)

Second, was a Pinterest find: rubber duck races. I filled an under-the-bed rubbermaid tote with water, plopped in two rubber ducks, and gave two kids a squirt bottle filled with water. Then I instructed the kids to race their ducks to the finish line by squirting them. This went over really well and the kids loved it!
The kids are supposed to be sitting next to each other at the same end of the tote to race their ducks.
We had a water balloon station, but I wasn't fast enough with the camera. Justin filled 80 water balloons for me last night, and the kids blew through them in 10 minutes. Lol.

Finally, the kids' favorite: the car wash station. This was so fun and kept them entertained forever. I'm going to have to remember this for my own girls in the future:
My mom brought home this water table top from Once Upon a Child last summer, and I knew it'd be perfect for this project. But you can use whatever you can find. I dumped a bunch of cars in it, then got out the sponges, toothbrushes, and cups full of shaving cream. The kids were in their glories! 

Wrap-Up Activity
We finished our week of fun by making verse booklets. Last night, I made booklets by stapling 6 pieces of small construction paper together. Then I printed and cut out all the verses we learned this week, as well as a cover page. Today I gave each kid a booklet then handed them the cover page/verses one by one to glue into their book. It was a little too advanced for the kids and required a lot of help. Haha. But I really wanted them to bring their verses home so they can keep working on them. 
Lucy made hers backwards. Haha.
For more VBS ideas (including Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Rahab), go here.
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