Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Splatter Painting

The other day my girls were playing outside and asked for some paint. Since they were already wet from the pool and dirty from making mud pies, I decided to make their painting project a little extra messy. This is the perfect project to do outside. In fact, I would recommend doing it outside unless you don't mind paint splattered all over your carpet, walls and furniture. 

I mixed each color of paint with water. About 1 part paint and 2 parts water. Enough water to "splatter" easily, but not so watered down that the colors start to dull. It's not an exact science. 

I spread some paper out on the side walk and let the girls splatter away! The idea is to not let the paintbrush touch the paper. The girls just waved and flicked them around to get the drip, drizzle, splatter effect.

These turned out beautiful. They are definitely my favorite artwork the girls have hanging in the house right now. We will be doing this again soon, on another nice day.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

MFW Introduction Week: 7 Days of Creation

A couple of weeks ago, we received our My Father's World Kindergarten Curriculum in the mail for Mercedes! I am thrilled with our first 10 days of homeschooling. The curriculum is excellent. Lots of hands on activities and ideas that keep Mercedes interested and keep fueling her desire to learn. Each day is well planned in detail in the teacher's book so it's easy to do each day with little to no prep time. We have been doing school one on one during Emerald's nap time every day. It takes us about an hour. Mercedes begs for more once we finish for the day.

In addition to reviewing letters and numbers, beginning to teach counting by 10's and counting to 100, learning Bible songs and verses and introducing the calender, the theme of the first week of MFW for kindergarten is the 7 days of creation.

We implemented several hands on activities into this unit to go along with her book work. Some ideas we got from the MFW teacher's book and some we came up with on our own.

On Day 3 when we learned that God created dry land and plants, we planted some sunflower seeds.

Emerald planted some seeds too but they are mystery seeds that my Grandma gave us. We are curious to find out what kind of plant we are growing.

We water them daily, keep them out in the sun during the day and bring them in at night. The girls love caring for their tiny plants. It's a fun project for them! We often talk about how God designed plants to grow with water, soil and the sun. It's pretty magical. :)

We cut open a peach and studied the design of it, and the pit. Which led us to a discussion of where fruit seeds come from and what happens when you plant one. Again, leading us to a discussion about how awesome God is and how delicious his food is.

Mercedes went outside and I had her carefully study some of the things God made and how intricate his designs are. Leaves, tree bark, flowers, etc.

On Day 5 when we learned that God made birds and fish, we went to the pet store and studied some. We admired their beautiful markings and talked about what an amazing and creative artist God is.

On Day 6 when we learned that God made animals, we held and studied our guinea pig and thanked God for tiny little animal friends that bring us so much joy.

At the end of our creation week, we visited the Prairie Park Nature Center. Mercedes loves to take pictures, so I had her use my camera to take pictures of everything she could find that God made. She did a great job!

Homeschooling is starting off incredibly successful and fun! We are excited to start our second unit tomorrow. I will be blogging my way through our homeschooling activities and adventures. It's going to be an exciting year!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Velcro Emotions Charts

My mom recently donated a couple of bulletin boards to us after sorting through her old homeschool material. I used them to make emotions charts for the girls. I printed off emotion cards, cut them out and laminated them by sandwiching them in between two sheets of clear contact paper. I attached them to the board with pieces of Velcro. I left a spot on the board for the girls to post their feelings at any given moment. They love these and use them several times throughout the day. 

It's amazing how naming a child's emotions can calm them down instantly. Sometimes kids get overwhelmed by their feelings. It scares them to feel something they don't understand. Being able to identify their feelings (disappointed, frustrated, angry, nervous, jealous, etc.) is a very important skill to teach young children. It's the first step to being able to deal with them and come up with a solution for them so they can resolve the situation and be at peace. It also makes kids feel safe, loved and understood when their parents discuss their feelings with them and let them know that those feelings are okay and normal. I even tell my girls, "It's not fun to feel (fill in the blank...lonely, hurt, scared, etc.). Mommy feels that way sometimes too." And in that moment, I can see relief on their face and the fear and frustration melts away as they sense they are being understood. Discussing emotions is an important part of staying connected with your kids.

On the other side of the board, I posted a worship song of the week and a Bible verse of the week. I chose about 10 of each and laminated all of them so I have plenty to choose from over the next couple months. I will probably cycle through the 10 throughout the school year so they learn all of them well. 

I hung the charts next to each of the girls' beds, which is where they typically retreat when they're in a bad mood. This makes it easy to talk about emotions and feelings and try to choose the appropriate one for each specific situation. 

For our bedtime routine, after lights out we recite our Bible verse, sing our song and take turns praying. It is an awesome way to end the day and the girls calm down faster and more peacefully this way.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Giant Velcro Calendar

My mom donated a huge bulletin board to us while she was sorting through all of her old homeschool materials. I used it to make Mercedes a giant calender to use throughout the school year to start helping her understand the concepts of days, weeks, years, etc. I printed the dates, days of the week and months of the year on colored paper and laminated them by sandwiching them in between two pieces of clear contact paper. I attached them to the board with strips of Velcro so Mercedes can update it every day.

I also printed a weather wheel and a seasons wheel and laminated those as well. 

The girls each colored their own weather wheel and chose a place for them in the house. They love looking out the window and updating their wheels.

This has turned out to be something fun that Mercedes looks forward to when she wakes up every morning. I love any project or activity that makes Mercedes excited to learn.

Friday, August 15, 2014

What My First 5 Years of Marriage Has Taught Me

Today Ben and I are celebrating our 5th anniversary. This is huge. This is a victory for us. Because in the past 5 years, we have:

  • Moved 5 times (2 apartments, a duplex, a house, and spent 4 months living with my mom)
  • Ben has switched jobs 4 times
  • I have switched jobs 3 times
  • Bought/sold 5 cars, plus an RV
  • Regularly attended 3 different churches, plus visited a few more
  • Had 2 babies
  • Had a miscarriage
  • Struggled with debt. Lots and lots of debt.
  • Gotten evicted
  • Conquered a porn addiction
  • Lost a parent
Not to mention the several trips to the emergency room, getting wisdom teeth pulled, gaining and losing pets, stomach flus and food poisoning, oral surgery for both our girls, lots of extended family drama, several trips to Minnesota and all the other little things that life has thrown our way. When I think of all we've been through my brain keeps going, "Seriously? Only 5 years?" I feel like we've been through a lifetime with each other already. 

Throughout everything that life has thrown at us, Ben has been my rock. We have faced every challenge as best friends. Hand in hand, side by side, growing deeper and deeper in love with each other all the time. Every struggle has only brought us closer together as a couple. Never once have I doubted our love or second guessed my decision to marry him. Every day of our marriage has been a blessing, through the good and through the bad I have constantly been thankful for our life together. 

Oh wait, no. That last paragraph was a lie. Because the truth is, I almost gave up on us. And by "almost", I mean searching online for jobs, apartments and daycares so I could take the girls and run. This life that we've had so far is anything but what I expected and definitely not what I thought I was signing up for when I said my marriage vows. Thankfully, God intervened and is restoring our broken marriage. 

Here's what I've learned from the mess that is our lives:
  • Ben is not the love of my life. Jesus is.
  • Ben is not my best friend. Jesus is.
  • Ben is not my hero. Jesus is.
  • Ben is not my fairy tale ending. He is not my "happily ever after". Jesus is.
  • Ben does not have the power to read my mind, heal my hurt, or fill an empty void in my life. Jesus does.
Don't get me wrong. I married an incredible man. He loves me unconditionally. He would do anything in his power to make me happy. He never yells and rarely gets angry. He provides for us so I can stay home with our girls. He is an amazing dad. He pours every ounce of his time, money and energy into me and the girls. He makes me laugh. We dream together. We agree on every major issue so we don't have much to argue about. We share many of the same interests so we always have fun when we spend time together. He is sweet, sensitive to my needs and feelings and is so kind and good to me. I am beyond blessed to be married to him and so thankful that God didn't give up on us even after I did. God is teaching me to love unconditionally and selflessly, without expecting or needing anything in return. He is teaching me to respect and trust my husband. He is teaching me to forgive. Over. And over. And over again. He is healing the hurt that our marriage has brought so far. And He is restoring the love and joy that I had when Ben and I first got married. It has been a painful journey. But I honestly wouldn't trade any of it for the lessons that I've learned, the strength that I've gained and the love and grace that I've found in Jesus.

If there's one thing I hope to teach my girls before they are old enough to start looking for a husband, it's that Jesus is the only one who can give them everything their hearts need. I spent too long feeling like I married the wrong person and that Ben had let me down because I was trying to depend on him for things only Jesus can give. I had unrealistic expectations which he could not possibly live up to because he was never meant to fill Jesus' role in my life. Thankfully God brought me to my senses before I let my foolishness destroy a perfectly wonderful marriage. I'm glad God gave me an imperfect person to love. Because if I hadn't been seeking to learn to love my imperfect husband, I may never have had the opportunity to fall head over heels in love with Jesus, and find a fairy tale romance in the One my heart was designed to love and be loved by.

Dear Ben,

Thank you for your unconditional love, endless patience and total devotion to me. There is no one I'd rather do life with than you. According to Facebook (the ultimate guide to successful relationships, right?), "a perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other". We have a whole lifetime ahead of us full of craziness, stressful messes, challenges and struggles. A whole lifetime of imperfections and never giving up on each other. I can't wait to share it with you. I love you!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fun Shaped, Kid Sized Pizza

A couple weeks ago I made homemade gluten free tortillas. We ate them with peanut butter, butter and honey and just plain. They were delicious! I knew they'd be so good with pizza sauce and melted cheese, so the other night we made these tortilla crust pizzas.

To add an extra element of fun, the girls used cookie cutters to make fun shaped, kid sized pizzas. Hearts, stars and flowers (Our next batch, Mercedes made carrot shaped pizza with a carrot shaped cookie cutter). 

I love meals that the whole family can participate in preparing. The girls had a blast. And they were so proud of their pizzas!

They devoured several of them in no time flat. Which is impressive since Mercedes has a really hard time being willing to try new foods, and even the foods she does like she picks at and nibbles at like a little bird. Not these pizzas. She attacks them like a little pizza monster. I've decided to let the girls help me make a batch of them once every couple weeks to keep in the fridge for lunches and snacks. They disappear so fast!