Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Week Off

I'll be taking a week off from blogging since I have some very special family members in town from North Carolina. We've spent the last few days having a blast.

This picture is of part of our group at Sand Harbor Beach in Lake Tahoe. We spent the day there yesterday and it was breathtaking! I especially loved looking at the snow-capped mountains in the background while my kids splashed in the water.Weird. But beautiful!

Enjoy your week!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Family Fun, Week Two

Happy Thursday everyone!

Were any of you brave enough to try some of the activities I posted last week? (If you're not sure what I'm talking about, click HERE.) No pressure, since even I didn't get all of them done. We ended up taking a very spontaneous trip to Santa Cruz for a few days so the kids could chase some waves.

But I'm more determined than ever to make the most of this summer since I'm already getting mail from my kids' school informing me of the first day of school in August. Didn't we just get out?

Here are a few more suggestions to help keep your kiddos busy this next week.

Day 1
Activity - Sock Dust

Directions - This is exactly what it sounds like. Put an old sock on your little ones hands and allow them to help you dust the house. It not only teaches them responsibility with chores but by doing it together you get time to listen to them ramble on about the darndest things. Priceless. Not to mention, kids love doing least mine do.

Day 2
Craft - Rock Paint

Directions - Find a somewhat flat rock in your backyard or on a nature walk and let your kids paint them. Anything goes. Painting is always fun for kids but when they get to paint something other than paper, you become the most awesome mom ever! Once they dry, they're fun to set in your flower planters or garden or by your front door. And the kids are so proud to show them off to any visitors.

Day 3
Activity - Puppet Show

Directions - Using stuffed animals, actual puppets or paper bag puppets, put on a puppet show with your little one. String up an old sheet somewhere in your house (I use chip clips to do this) and set up your audience (more stuffed animals). Make a big deal about coming up with your story, practicing and the actual performance. The giggles abound. Take turns acting out your story together and then each take a turn in the audience.

Day 4
Activity - Pick Fruit

Directions - Find a local You-Pick fruit farm and take your kids to pick a basket of your favorite fruit. If you're not sure where your closest fruit farm is, click HERE for a very helpful resource. Make sure you eat as you pick and take lots of pictures. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a few hours of being silly.

Day 5
Food Creation - Bake a Pie

Directions - Using the fruit you picked the day before, bake a special fruit pie. Allow your kids to help as much as possible. If you're really brave, try making your own pie crust. Betty Crocker has a pretty easy pie crust recipe HERE. Bake and enjoy!

**As an extra fun bonus** If you bake a pie with your child, send me a picture of your delicious dessert and your little helper and I'll send you a secret prize that both you and your child will love! Happy Baking!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

When Life Won't Play Along

Life is hard. Marriage is hard. Raising kids is hard. Balancing work with everything else is so hard. And then at the end of the day, we're still supposed to find the energy to wash and fold all the laundry, make a healthy and delicious dinner, read for twenty minutes to each of our kids, prepare whatever we can for tomorrow, add to our word count total and on top of all of that (and much more) when we fall into bed, thinking the day is over, we're still expected to be incredible lovers to our husbands.

Sometimes, I feel like I just can't get a single item crossed off my to-do list, let alone the dozens of tasks on it.

I recently heard this new MercyMe song and decided to claim it as my war-cry. I hope it motivates and gives you as much hope as it does me. So start dancing because there are brighter days ahead...even when the laundry isn't done! ;)

MercyMe "MOVE" live from Mr. Lovewell on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer Family Fun, Week One

I really enjoy writing things out - to do lists, goals, groceries...anything. So after a few days of my kids saying that they were bored, I pulled out a huge calendar and asked them what they wanted to do. What was their idea of a "fun" day?

My now 6 year old said things like visiting a bounce house or going to the library. (A boy after my own heart!)

My 4 year old said she wanted to go to Chuck E Cheese and Hawaii. (Also, just like mommy!)

We sat together for a while and brainstormed some fun things we could do to pass the sometimes long summer days.

I'm happy to share our list with anyone that can use it but just so you don't get overwhelmed, I'll only post a week at a time. :) (We came up with over 60 days worth of fun and silly things to try.)

A few tips first...
- My kids are 6, 4 and almost 2 so most of these ideas are geared towards those age groups. However, ALL of these ideas can be amended for older kids too.
- As with any activity, parental supervision is a must and only increases the fun. (That's my disclaimer for all you lawyer types out there.)
- I've divided up our ideas into three categories: Activities, Craft Projects and Food Creations.
- Most suggestions won't require any prep or planning ahead but sometimes a trip to Michael's or your local craft store might be in order.

Okay, here we go. Five days worth of fun...

DAY 1 -
Activity: Build an obstacle course in your backyard
(or house, depending on the heat).
Directions: Use things around your home (bikes, slides, hula hoops, balls, tunnels, etc.) to create a massive obstacle course. Build it together, play in it together and for extra fun, set a timed goal for how fast your child needs to get through it (according to their age). Offer a fun reward (like an ice cream cone or sticker) when they beat the goal...and make sure they beat it. :)

DAY 2 -
Activity: Find a local lake or pond and feed the ducks/fish
Gather your old or stale bread for this outing and then relax under a shady tree. (For some reason there are always hot dog buns in our home. We don't even eat them that much but the buns appear anyway. Weird. So that's what I always take for the ducks.)

DAY 3 -
Food Creation: Make Kabobs
Allow your kids to choose the veggies and meat that go on the skewers. Then let them help with the assembly, making sure to watch their little fingers on those pointy skewers. They just might be more adventurous in tasting new vegetables if they get to choose and help make dinner. While dad is BBQing, make some fun kabobs as well using their favorite fruits. And don't forget dessert. Use marshmallows, brownie squares, anything you can poke a hole in. Lot's of fun!

DAY 4 -
Craft Project: Crayon Rubbing
Go on a hunting trip around your house and yard. Have your kids carry a basket or bag to fill with their treasures. Find things like sandpaper, yarn, leaves, fabric, coins, etc. Then place the items between two sheets of paper and using the side of a crayon, color over each one until you can see the object clearly. (Not sure why, but my kids love doing this!)

DAY 5 -
Activity: Shaving Cream
Buy inexpensive shaving cream and spray a pile onto an outside, washable surface. Roll up their sleeves and let them goop it up. For extra fun make separate piles and add a few drops of food coloring. Sit back and watch what they create. Be sure to have your video camera on hand to capture the funny faces they make when they squeeze it through their fingers for the first time. If you're like me, you'll be cringing the entire time but trust me, they'll love it. Warning: This is messy but washes off easily with water.

There you have it. I'll be doing these things with my kids too. Let me know if you try them and if your kiddos enjoyed them. I'll post more of our ideas next Thursday.

Have fun! :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Goals, Winners and More

Is June really almost half over already? I'm getting a late start on my June goals but there are a few things that I just have to get done. Here they are:

- Plan another birthday party. My baby is turning 2 on July 3rd.

- Get a head shot taken and added to my blog (I hate having my picture taken. As I get older it's easier and easier to find something I don't like. But I've been blogging for almost a year now with no picture and's time.)

- Write 20K words (this is waaaay ambitious but I'm a believer in shooting for the stars so we'll see how I do.)

- Make a decision about my husband's new job offers. (A) Stay in CA, downsize our home and be financially strapped or (B) Move to ID, away from our families but be financially set.


I'm so excited to announce the winner's of my little giveaway Heaven is for Real. Since I only received three comments, I've decided that you ALL win! It's a great book and I'm happy to send some copies your way. I'm so excited for you all to read this book. I still cannot stop thinking about it! Katie, Keli and Maggie, you will be receiving an email from me, if you haven't already.

And finally...

My kids have been out of school for over two weeks now and I'm already getting "I'm bored" or "Let's do something fun". I don't know if you other mom's out there struggle with keeping your kids active/busy or not but I've noticed that when I have things scheduled on my calendar I get much more done than if I were to wing it day by day. So I've compiled a list of fun, inexpensive and educational activities to do with my kids each day of the month. Come back on Thursday if you want to copy my "I'm-not-bored-anymore Calendar". I'll post one week at a time every Thursday.

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Little Bragging

My 4 year old daughter, Ava, recently participated in her second dance recital. Her combo (tap/ballet) class did a little tap routine to the old song Lollipop Lollipop. It was adorable!

Here are some pictures of her big day.

Ava enjoying the spotlight

Ava upset that she has to share her spotlight with her siblings

Proud Mama

Little show-off

After her five minutes on stage

Proud Daddy

Time to celebrate!

Are you in a phase of life that leaves you running your kids to different activities and performances? Do you get nervous (like I do) for your kids when they do something in front of an audience?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Do You Believe In Heaven?

Have you ever thought about what Heaven will be like? What does Jesus look like? Will we have wings? Will we be people (in the literal sense)? Will we see our family members and friends? Are there animals in Heaven? Will there be anything to do? Or will we just be playing the harp all day long?

I've often thought about many of these questions. My kids have also asked me complicated Heaven questions that I simply can't answer.

As Christians we are taught that Heaven is a real and beautiful place, full of gold and pearls and angels and crowns. But beyond that it's very hard for us to fully grasp what it will be like. I have no doubt that it will be wonderful beyond anything I can imagine but there are just so many questions that we simply don't have answers to.

The book Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo (which has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for 28 weeks and even now holds the #1 spot) gives us a rare peak into what one little boy experienced when he "visited" Heaven. This book is so emotionally stirring that I read the entire thing in a few hours. I simply couldn't put it down. I cried quite a bit. I chuckled at the adorable sayings of Colton. But mostly I praised God as I read, thankful that this book gives us a glimpse into the beauty and wonder of God, His vast love for us (especially the children) and what Heaven just might be like.

After four year old Colton Burpo underwent a major surgery that almost took his life, he began to share bits of his experience with his parents over the following months. Heaven is for Real is his description of Heaven, Jesus and many other thought provoking sights. His father, Todd, is a pastor in a small Nebraska town. Needless to say, Colton's stories surprise and shock his parents. Not wanting to "feed" Colton Bible answers, his parents ask open-ended questions and then do their research, giving scriptural evidence of Colton's sightings.

The entire book is fascinating! It's so fascinating that I just have to share the goodness! So I'm giving away two copies to two lucky readers that leave a comment and follow my blog by Friday, June 10th. Be sure to leave your email address in your comment. I'll announce the winner on Tuesday, June 14th!

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I Hope My Hair Looks Okay

Do any of you watch The Bachelorette? I just watched Monday's episode last night. OH MY GOODNESS! I almost threw my computer (since we canceled our TV) across the room. What is going on? Women that are totally oblivious to men and their empty charms are one of my biggest pet peeves.

Bentley is definitely playing her for the fool and in my humble opinion he isn't even that good looking. He should have gone home the first day. The only thing he has going for him are his entertaining one-liners. "I hope my hair looks okay" will be coming up next week. It's sort of like a train wreck. You don't want to watch it but looking away is impossible.

And what's the deal with the Batman guy? I can't figure out if there's something more to him or if he's just nuts. My instinct say he's too creepy.

The guys I'm rooting for are JP and Ryan P. Who is your pick to "win" this season?