Homeschool: Fire Station Field Trip


Last week we enjoyed a field trip to a nearby fire station. Almost annually we've visited fire stations in our area. But this recent tour was the best one yet, organized by a local homeschooling group.

We saw not only the firefighter's living quarters and the fire trucks, but also a rescue boat, a special truck with rescue tools and a special truck with haz mat clean up supplies.
Of course, the kids were able to climb up into the trucks.
My daughter was even able to get her hands on the fire hose!
We also saw about 20 new recruits, still in their fire fighter training classes, get fully dressed in their turn-out gear in under 1 minute and 30 seconds!

This was a great field trip! We learned new things about the work of firemen. And my kids and I spent some time later that day thanking God for our local firemen and the important work they do.

Family Photo Friday


Friday is here once again.
It's the last Friday of February - 2 months of 2011 are already history! As I always do on Fridays, I'm sharing a few photos from our week.

My daughter has become quite the fashionista, picking out her own clothes and coming up with some unique combinations. Maybe I could do a future post highlighting her outfits... hmmm. Anyway, this was one of this week's picks - long sleeved white shirt, short-sleeved green shirt over top, black pants, brown and pink striped socks. Beautiful!

We have a pet parakeet named Weezy. My kids like to get Weezy out of her cage every few days for some exercise. At first I thought this might give the bird a heart attack, but she's come to enjoy it. She often perches up high on the top of the hutch or on a curtain rod and will stay there until we come to her rescue. The best way for me (at exactly 5 feet 2 inches) to get her off a high place is with a fly swatter. No, not swatting at her but using the long handle to reach up high and she'll jump onto it like a perch. Then I lower her down and walk her back to her cage. That is the story behind this picture which I like to call bird on a stick! :-)

My adorable son, sitting in my chair at the table - pulling my coat hood over his head and wrapping my scarf around his cold feet. Too cute.

Happy Friday to you!

We have a busy weekend planned - I'll say more about it next week and have some special pictures to share!

Seasons of Life


I've been thinking a lot about seasons lately. The changing seasons. Each so beautiful, each so unique. How God timed the seasons so perfectly - a few months of one thing and our human tendency is to get bored with it and want to have something new.

This led me to ponder the seasons of life, especially with children. During their early years, our children are constantly growing, changing, moving from one season to another. From a season of newborn stillness to a season of movement with crawling and walking. From a season of silence into a season of talking. Seasons of fast physical growth and seasons of slower physical growth while they grow in other ways.

Constantly changing.

The last few months have felt like changing seasons to me. Last summer was a season of busyness. Last fall was a season of preparation, as we delved back into homeschooling and preparing for foster parenting. This winter has felt like a season of renewal - lots of time spent indoors, refocusing time and attention on family. It has felt like a season of waiting, of anticipation as we wait for our next fostering opportunity. It feels much like waiting for spring, waiting for what we know is coming, waiting for what God has planned and in some ways wishing it were here already. Like spring's arrival, we know it's coming but we don't know exactly when it will arrive. Sooner. Later. We wait. And we use the waiting time to be strengthened, to be rejuvenated.

I thank the Lord for the changing seasons - the beauty and uniqueness of each one.

Children's Reading List: The Courage of Sarah Noble


Recently we read The Courage of Sarah Noble. I was surprised at how much I liked this book and wondered (as I have many times in the past) why I'd never read it before! There are so many wonderful books out there for children... I feel like I'm discovering a whole new world!

This book is short, making it easy to read in just one or two sittings. Sarah Noble is just 8 years old when she travels with her father to the site of what will be their new home. The setting is back in early America, early 1700s when the threat of an Indian attack was real. Sarah cooks for her father, while he works to build the family's new home. She befriends the nearby Indians and learns an important lesson - people are people, no matter where you go, no matter what they look like. When Sarah's father finishes the house (with the help of the Indians), he needs to return to get the rest of the family. He leaves Sarah in the care of his Indian friend. Eventually her father and the rest of her family return to live in the new house that her father had built.

Sarah faced many scary situations with courage and true bravery. Honestly I don't think I would've reacted with such courage had I been in those same situations... and she was only 8 years old! What a story... and it's true! Heart-warming and inspiring for young and old alike.

Perhaps I liked the story all the more because of the courage I lack... and the fact that my daughter is very much like me! This book made the point that you might just make a new friend or discover a whole new world if you have the courage to take the first step.

Two thumbs up for The Courage of Sarah Noble!

Family Photo Friday


Friday! Friday! As usual, I'm posting a few pictures from our week.

Here is our adopted grandpa with both my kiddos. Last weekend we spent a few hours with Grandpa Greg and Grandma Ruth. Good times were had by all.
Our church hosts an annual tubing party. Last Sunday was the PERFECT day for it - lots of snow still on the ground, but temps in the 40s during the day. In this shot is my daughter (in the purple coat), cousin and best bud Racquel (on the far right) and Aunt Sheila in the middle carrying the tubes.

My son creating an interesting Playdough creature. On a regular basis, we have lots of laughs thanks to Playdough.

Happy Friday to one and all!

Toothless Gap

My daughter lost a tooth this week.
Although it's her third lost tooth, it's the most noticeable - on top in front!

One thing is certain: my girl is growing up!

Works for Me Wednesday - Pizza Roll

I found this idea at Courtney's Blog here and decided to try it recently. It was easy and delicious. My kids gobbled it up, so this recipe is definitely a keeper!

I made one change - instead of using a refrigerated pizza crust, I made homemade pizza dough (using the bread machine). Otherwise followed the recipe. Rolled our the dough. Layered on cheese and pepperoni. Rolled up. Sprinkled with a few seasonings. Baked. Dipped in pizza sauce. Enjoyed!

Children's Reading List: Mr. Popper's Penguins

One of our all-time favorite read-aloud books is Mr. Popper's Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater.

This is such a fun story of a regular guy, Mr. Popper, who is given a penguin. Soon he is given another penguin because the first one was lonely and soon after that there are 10 baby penguins in the picture! Mr. Popper remodels his home to accommodate the penguins and eventually comes to the conclusion that he should train his penguins to perform an act (which could pay for the remodeling, the fresh fish and other costs associated with a dozen penguins). The show goes on the road and the crew have some laugh-out-loud moments on the stage.

While there are a few educational tidbits in this book, we love it more for the fun storyline than anything else. Just the idea of having a pet penguin sends your imagination soaring. The reading level for this book is around 4th grade, but as a read-aloud it is appropriate for ages 5-10. We've read it numerous times in the last few years and both my daughter and I want to pick it up and enjoy it again.

Four thumbs up - from me and my daughter - for Mr. Popper's Penguins!

Family Photo Friday


Friday is here again. Here are some photos from our week.

My kids making homemade tortillas. This was a project in my daughter's geography workbook. So I let the kids tackle it together. They did well... and made a big mess, of course. It seems that at least once a week we have a "baking lesson" that turns the kitchen into a floury disaster area. But I do want my kids to be comfortable in the domain of the kitchen, so we deal with the messes.

Grandma K sent a Valentine's package to us this week (thanks, Mom). Despite all the goodies, my son was fascinated with the bubble wrap. After popping every last bubble, he used the wrap as a blanket and insisted "Take picture, Mom!"

My husband spent some time this week working on a project. My son is daddy's little helper, so here they are together in the workshop with their project and their tools.

My son was all dressed up for church last Sunday, wearing this little sports coat and looking adorable. This was the best picture we could get... and we tried a dozen times!

Happy Friday to all!

I Won a Cookbook!

In December, one of the blogs that I follow, 5 Dollar Dinners, was doing a 12 Days of Christmas giveaway for her new cookbook. I ended up winning and have the hot off the press cookbook in hand! I've looked through all 300 pages and marked recipes that I will try. I actually tried the first one yesterday - homemade granola - which was a yummy addition to my homemade yogurt.

So far so good! Thanks Erin for the giveaway and cookbook!

Works for Me Wednesday - Rainbow Pancakes


Where have I been... having just heard of the idea of rainbow pancakes just last week?! Well, at least I'm informed now and have a fun new breakfast idea up my sleeve!

My kids loved these. Of course, I used the same old usual recipe for homemade pancakes that I always use. Yet those drops of food coloring turned an ordinary breakfast into "Wow! Can we do this every day for breakfast?"

There is nothing to it - just your usual pancake batter divided into a few bowls. Add whatever food coloring you'd like and make the pancakes as usual. This idea could be adapted for Valentine's Day (think red or pink, maybe even heart-shaped) or any other holiday or celebration. The possibilities really are endless!

I got the idea for these pancakes here. And fully agree that this is a fun and easy way to brighten up a dark, dreary winter day.

Works for Me!

Snow Cream

During the big snow last week, I pulled out two things: a bowl to start collecting falling snow and this recipe for Snow Cream.

Super easy and a fun treat.

1. Collect a large bowl full of fresh snow (best to do this after an hour or two of snow fall, so pollutants are out of the air/snow and you'll be eating only fresh, clean snow).

2. Mix together 1 cup of milk and 1/2 cup sugar (I thought this was too sweet, so maybe slightly less sugar next time). Add a dash of vanilla.

3. Mix your fresh snow into the milk/sugar mixture until you have an ice cream consistency. Ours was a little thin - more like ice cream slush - but it was still delicious.

4. Enjoy!

I've heard that you can put your own spin on this - for example, adding a hot chocolate packet to make chocolate snow cream. Be creative. And by all means, let the kids help with this project! :-)

Checking In: February Update


Here at the beginning of this new month, I wanted to give an update for how things are going with a few of my goals for 2011.

Spiritual Goal: read through the Bible this year.
How is it going: Great! I have a One-Year Bible that lays out what to read in daily sections - one longer Old Testament passage, a shorter New Testament passage, along with very short sections of both Psalms and Proverbs. My daughter has a children's One-Year Bible and is working alongside me, reading a section each day. We're both chugging along and making daily progress.

Physical Goal: lower my cholesterol and lose weight.
How is it going: Well. I have been spending 30 minutes on our treadmill doing fast walking, 4-5 days per week. This week is the start of my 4th week of this exercise routine and I have already seen improvement. I'm also being more aware of the portions of food I eat and have added one more fruit into my day. So, it is going well.

Growth Goal: catch myself when I'm angry before I blow up / exercise self-control.
How is it going: Alright. Any growth in this area is so hard to measure, but I am encouraged. I am making baby-step improvement in this area, with lots more room to grow!

"If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time." This is my year of aiming at something. If I make it through December and have achieved my goals - wonderful! But even if I don't make it through the year but have made some progress and improvements and baby steps to my goals - it is worth it! Better to have aimed at something!

Family Photo Friday


Friday is upon us once again. February came in with a bang - the biggest blizzard in recent memory. I was thankful that we had no plans this week, so we were able to stay put and stay warm. My father-in-law ended up landing here during the blizzard, when he got off his work shift at 11 pm and there was no way he could make it home. Thankfully we live near his work and he could make it this far, so the kids had some extra Grandpa time thanks to the snow.

Here are a few photos from our week.

Cold weather outside means finding fun activities to do inside. My son liked this floor puzzle - we took the picture to show how big it really is. All of the colors and numbers make this a puzzle educational for my little man.

My daughter with a princess puzzle she did this week.

Another fun inside activity for a cold day - baking. What a mess we made in the kitchen yesterday creating valentine cut-out cookies!

Our little friend Eli (that I used to watch full-time) joined us for one day this week. He is almost a year old and is seriously on the move now - pushing walking toys and climbing stairs. My kids enjoyed having him here again. My son especially misses his buddy Eli. [Funny aside: my son has a boy doll that he named Eli many months ago. Now he will say "the real Eli" when he is referring to the living, breathing Eli to differentiate him from Eli the doll. Before heading to church, he'll ask if "the real Eli" will be there. Will the real Eli please stand? :-)]

Here's my wonderful husband and precious daughter. Getting pictures that include Daddy are rare but this one is a gem.

Happy Friday to one and all!

Foster Parenting - Log #8

This week we were re-licensed as foster parents with the Indiana Department of Child Services. The process of transferring our license from our previous agency went very smoothly and took less than 3 weeks total.

So, we remain in a state of anticipation - waiting for a phone call, hopeful that this move will make us more likely to have options to work with younger children. We wait to see who the Lord will bring our way.

Works for Me Wednesday - Valentine's Wreath

I was recently inspired by some other blogger's Valentine's wreaths, so I attempted a basic "rag" version of my own. I was very pleased with how it turned out.

Step 1: Find a wire hanger and bend it into a circle shape (or heart-shape). I kept the hook at the top for hanging the wreath, but that you could use wire-cutters to remove it if you'd rather hang it another way.

Step 2: Choose colors of fabric to use for your rags. I chose colors that could make the wreath versatile - plain red, plain white and red-and-white stripes. This wreath could be used for Valentine's Day as is, Christmas with a green bow on it, or Independence Day with a blue bow on it. Love that!

The fabrics were left-overs my mother-in-law was getting rid of so the cost to me was zilch. I spent maybe 2 hours on this project from start to finish, including time my kids were "helping."

Step 3: Cut strips out of the fabric. We cut strips of fabric about 1 inch wide by 5 inches long, but the size is totally dependent on how you want it to look. So test a few sizes and see what you like best.

Step 4: Tie the fabric strips onto the hanger in a basic pattern. I tied just one knot, but you could double-knot if you have longer strips and want them more secure. Keep pushing them closer together, making them tighter. In the end, none of the hanger should be showing.

Step 5: Hang up and enjoy your wreath!

To see some other Valentine's wreaths, there is one here and another one here.

Children's Reading List: The 21 Balloons

This week my daughter and I finished reading The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene Du Bois. This is a Newberry Medal-winning story that was new to me in recent years. It has become my favorite children's book that I discovered as an adult! :-) (Charlotte's Web remains my childhood favorite children's book)

Professor William Waterman Sherman is the main character of the book. A teacher who loves ballooning, Sherman decides to take a year off to just float around the world in his hot air balloon (which has a small basket house attached to the bottom). He ends up crashing on the island of Krakatoa, meeting 20 families that have relocated there because of the diamond mines found near the base of the volcanic mountain. He spends just 3 days there until he and the families just barely escape the volcano's massive eruption that blows the Island apart (this is real history - happened in 1883). Of course, they all escape in a huge balloon rig. The balloon theme runs throughout the book, weaving together lots of creative uses and inventions.

I love the storyline of the book and how Professor Sherman is retelling his balloon tale so the reader, like the audience in the story, is hearing the events for the first time. But I also love the sheer genius of the creativity of the story. The elevator beds that lower to lower-level bathrooms or raise through the skylights for sleeping under the stars - my daughter immediately asked her daddy if he could install that in her bedroom! :-)

I love books that let your imagination soar and The Twenty-One Balloons is one of those books! I highly recommend it to all parents of young children (though technically this book is at a 5th grade reading level, so there were vocabulary words that my 2nd-grade daughter didn't understand... but now is as good a time as any to expand one's vocabulary!)

5 out of 5 stars for The Twenty One Balloons!