Sensory Exploration

Montessori Monday

Posted by PicasaI cleared off the dying Valentine’s roses today and let the girls explore them in the backyard. They quickly discovered that, though the outside petals were dry and crunchy, the inside petals were soft and wet. They pulled some tops off to throw as balls. They floated several petals around the yard. They pretended to be Romeo and Juliette (well, we’re not quite that literate…Gnomeo and Juliette, actually.)

My roses were already de-thorned, so I just divided them in half and set them on two trays — one for each girl. I briefly showed my three year old how to pull off one petal at a time, but then I busied myself with other activities and let them explore on their own.

Shopping!

I texted John from shopping the other day, and then told him later that we had so much fun he might be in trouble for the next fifteen years. This was really our first shopping trip with the girls having opinions of their clothes and trying things on. So much fun!! I am glad they still like to match some (but not always, was Caroline’s request.) And I’m happy I can persuade Caroline into the little girls looks over some of the very grown-up looking dresses in the 7-14 size section. The lesson I learned was to stick with Gymboree and Crazy 8 and avoid Macy’s/Dillards.

Face-break

I’m on a Facebook break for Lent. Lent is a time to focus on Christ, a time some choose to give up something that distracts them from their walk with God. Facebook is a big time suck for me. And I realize that I feel obliged to check it daily but that I find very little truly edifying. Sure, I love my friends, but I don’t need to know what they ate for dinner or that they are stuck in traffic. I do miss it, but I have spent more time in prayer, more time in the Word, more time reading to my kids, more time talking to individual friends.

I did not announce my leaving. I actually did it spur of the moment last night. I deleted Facebook from my phone first thing in the morning on Ash Wednesday, but I hadn’t decided to deactivate my account. When I sat down at my computer last night, though, I just did it.

I am flattered that at least two people noticed my absence pretty quickly. 🙂 A friend tried to tag me in a post seeking advice about Dysons and emailed me when she could not tag me, wondering what was up. My sister called me to see where I went. I feel loved (or at least valued….or stalked. Take it for what it is.)

Now, the challenge will be not to let Pinterest and Words with Friends fill in that time that is supposed to be filled with God!

Lent is Lovely

I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. I enjoy Lent. I like the start of every season, really. But Lent is so deep, so thoughtful, so beautiful. Today, I did a toy rotation and set up our Lenten activities at home and prepped for my children’s Sunday School class at St. Julian’s.

At Home:
I have recently discovered play sets from Tales of Glory. I’ve ordered several for use at home in different seasons, but for the beginning of Lent, I have out the Disciples and Jesus on the boat in the sea of Galilee. The playset comes with the story of the calling of the disciples, the “Fishers of Men” story. But the boat and figures can be used to tell the story of Jesus calming the sea and walking on water. I have a picture book of Jesus’s life that I’ll read along with the playsest the first two weeks of Lent. Then I’ll replace that with a felt storyboard of Jesus’s miracles. And finally, that will be replaced the week before Holy Week with a Palm Sunday set I ordered from Oriental Trading. I bought their Resurrection scene a few years ago, and while it is not very sturdily made, we have enjoyed playing with it. That set will come out during Holy Week also.

I have a great stash of books about Jesus’s life and ministry and Easter. My favorite is My Easter Basket. I’ll start with books more focuses on Jesus’s life and add to them each week of Lent, adding that one toward the end. I also bought the book Benjamin’s Box today to go with our Resurrection Eggs, which I’ll bring out during Holy Week.


We’ll do our blessing tree again, and I’ve stocked the basket with new ribbons. The blessing tree starts as a bare branch in a pot. Each evening, one of our family members thanks God for a blessing in our lives and ties a ribbon to the branch. By Easter, we have a “blooming” tree to show us how blessed we are.  I’ve also put out the Christmas cards we received this past year on our dinner table, and we’ll choose one or two at dinner each evening to pray for the family who sent the card.

In Sunday School:
We’ll follow the Godly Play Lenten unit and start with the Holy Family story as I change the underlay from the green of ordinary time to the purple of Lent. Then I’ll share with the kids the Mystery of Easter using a cross puzzle of six pieces (because Lent is six weeks long — even longer than Advent! Maybe the mystery of Easter is even more important than Christmas…) One side is purple, but the other side is white — beautiful, joyous white — Jesus doesn’t stay on that cross or in that tomb! I made our cross using die cut crosses I bought in a pack of 30 at Hobby Lobby (for $1.99, I think.) I colored one side purple with a marker, and then cut it into six pieces. I picked up a small purple tote bag at Hobby Lobby also to keep it in. I took several more of the die cut crosses from the pack and drew in pencil six pieces on each so kids who choose can create their own puzzle to take home. They’ll just need to color one side purple and then cut along the lines I drew. I hope they’ll share they Mystery of Easter with their families at home! I also found some neat weaving crosses at Hobby Lobby that I’ll offer as a response activity during Lent. I know Caroline has really enjoyed paper weaving before, and these came 24 in a package for $8.99. I used my 40 percent off coupon, though, of course! For the rest of Lent, we’ll synthesize what we’ve learned so far this year using the Faces of Easter cards. We did not have education hour on the Sunday we usually do the baptism lesson, so I may do two lessons one of the early weeks of Lent and teach the baptism lesson along with one of the face cards.

I discovered two blogs today that I’ve added to my Google Reader to help me in my Godly Play planning and practice. And they’re hosting a Lenten Link Party that I’ve decided to join in on. Thank you for having me, Wonderful in an Easter Kind of Way and Explore and Express!

Happy Valentine's Day!

  
My Pinterest-inspired Valentine creation — I guess I can’t store it in the attic in the Texas heat, though. This was a fun project, but not so much a kid project. The girls helped sort the crayon colors and help the hair dryer for a moment, but the glueing and melting was mostly on me.
We’ll have a normal evening at home, but the girls are getting jewelry! I figured I could set the bar high for future beaus. Actually, Caroline is getting some earrings now that she has pierced ears and only two more weeks until she can change them out. Elizabeth is getting a jewelry box (since her sister is not happy about sharing hers.)
John and I are going to a murder mystery dinner Saturday. I’m pretty excited as I’ve always wanted to do one of these. We have some friends from church in the Round Rock Community Choir, and they are putting it on. It’s a high school reunion them. It’ll be a good time!
 

AntWorks Ant Farm



Posted by PicasaHighly recommend it!!

Caroline got hers as a Christmas gift from her aunt/uncle/cousins after putting it on her wishlist from the Lakeshore Learning catalog. This sucka is totally worth the $20! You get the case filled with gel (that serves as the food for the ants) and a blue LED. You mail off for the ants. We were so eager (um…I was) that I didn’t read the direction first which recommended putting the ants in the fridge for ten minutes before opening the container they came in so they’d be … um, chilled. I just took the top off and poured them in, aggressive little buggers. I had to kill one or two for my own survival. One died in transit and his dead little body was integrated into the paths. But boy, these boys work hard! It has been really fascinating to watch how much they work. Their life expectancy is three weeks or so, so I do expect them to expire at any time. They slow down at night now, and I go to bed thinking they might be dead or almost-dead and wake to them moving around again like amazing little worker ants. We all love watching what they’re doing!

Updates (AKA blog brain dump)

My friend, Erica, calls these blog brain dumps. I haven’t updated in a while, so that’s what this will be…catching up.

Elizabeth
After much prayerful consideration (and getting multiple obvious points of guidance that I believe were God-sent) I have pulled Elizabeth out of the Mother’s Day Out program she was in. I want to have more time with her, and it wasn’t a good match for her or our family. I discovered a one-day-a-week (FREE!) Waldorf-based outdoor program that she’ll go to on Tuesdays. I can stay or go, which is nice. That gives us the rest of our week for play dates, play groups, library story time, music class, or whatever else we want to do together. I missed enjoying those activities with her. And really, though many value that time to run errands or take care of business, I found it a burden to drop her at a certain time and stop what I was doing to pick her up at a certain time. She is at an age where I can do most of my “duties” with her in tow, and I’m no longer freelancing, so I don’t need the time for (paid) work. I did have to give up volunteering in the library at Caroline’s school, but that is not a big deal to me.

Caroline

After having Caroline home for two weeks during her tonsillectomy recovery, I started fantasizing about homeschooling her. There are no problems in the situation we have now — our neighborhood school is fabulous and she is very happy there. I love the community feel of it. I just dreamed of not being tied to a mandated schedule — vacationing when we want (cheaper!), sleeping in, doing things together. I’ve always said I’d do it if I needed to. I just thought for a bit that I *wanted* to. And I worry about third grade or so, when homework is more and testing is over-emphasized. As of now, I feel that I should not worry about what might come but should just continue with what we are doing. I am happy to do it, though, if that is what is best for her, for us. I am open.


Spiritual Life

The best “new” thing lately is my weekly Bible study with friends. I kind of hand-picked some like-minded Christian moms and asked them if they’d want to meet weekly for prayer and Bible study, and they did! And we are! And it is a highlight of the week for all of us. We met ourselves and kind of caught up a bit for a couple of months. Now my priest (not all of us go to St. Julian’s) is leading us every other week and we lead ourselves the off weeks as we discuss the coming week’s gospel reading from the Lectionary. I love these women and their families. I look up to them and look forward to our time sharing and praying for each other every week. I am learning so much from our discussions. It’s me and four friends — all connected through La Leche League (four of us were Leaders). Between us we have seventeen kids!! (Obviously I am the slacker in the bunch with my wonderful and lovely two.)

For my daily devotional, after seeking input from a few trusted loved ones, chose Jesus Calling. I must admit that many of the decisions I have mentioned here have been influenced with timely readings from there. And, thanks to the suggestions I received, I have devotional materials to last me the next three years! I am also enjoying reading daily encouragement from Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Homemaking
I’m continuing with my weekly dinner swap group — going on our third year now! I have done quite a bit of decluttering (some thanks to St. Julian’s moving in to our own space this summer, giving me a place for toys that need to be culled!) I do feel that I have a handle on decluttering and organization (a never-ending process but one I enjoy) but that I don’t have the nitty-gritty deep cleaning mastered. I need to work on that. I am quick to blame the cats, but it seems they aren’t planning to die anytime soon and I am just going to have to work in their filth to my cleaning routine.

Fun
I just finished reading Stephen King’s newest book. OHMYGOODNESS. He is a genius! It is 850+ pages, and I borrowed it from the library via hold. That means someone else has it on hold after me and I can’t recheck. I was a bit nervous about finishing it within the two weeks, but I finished it today and it’s not due until Wednesday. 🙂 I must say, it ended as it should have, though not as I had hoped halfway through. I’ve added a sidebar to my blog to keep track of what I read this year.

Now that I have finished the book, I can pick back up on season one of Downton Abbey. I watched the first two episodes the night before I picked up the book. And then I had to forgo any television watching to finish the book on my deadline. I am really excited to get back into the series…maybe even catch up and watch it in real time at some point. I’m excited that it’s a series I *can* watch in real time since I can’t with many (we don’t have cable.) I won’t have another library book until Wednesday, so that gives me a few nights to get some watching in…perhaps I can finish season one before then.

Oh, and John’s party was fun! He LOVED the memory emails (but asked that I not publish them as some were personal…read as embarrassing!). We had about 50 folks here last night for karaoke. Always fun! We ordered the karaoke through http://www.thekaraokechannel.com. Great customer service and an easy at-home-party karaoke. I recommend it! $20 bucks for the set-up plus 48 hours access for our party. Now, I have the equipment, so it’s be 4.99 for 48 hours access in the future. Heck yeah, we’ll do this again! ANYTIME!

40 Rocks! (I’m not 40…my husband is.)

Happy, Happy Birthday to my wonderful, gorgeous, and young husband!

I have had a fun time planning this birthday milestone for him. We’re celebrating Saturday with a karaoke party at home with about 50 folks — mostly friends from church and work. Pinterest has made party planning much more of a sport. I made cake balls for the first time — lemon. I don’t love them, so I’m stopping at lemon and just making white cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes (but I’m adding a Hershey Kiss to the center of the chocolate cupcakes as I saw on Pinterest). I did make some Oreo truffles that I saw on Pinterest. They, my friends, are divine. Beyond the sweets, Costco is my go-to caterer for party food. My friend, Erica, designed the logo for me to use on the cupcakes and balls. I saw (on Pinterest, of course) suckers for 30 sucks and was inspired to be more positive. So, I thought 40 Rocks! It goes with our karaoke theme, too. Then I remembered Pop Rocks and had her use that as inspiration for her design. She is fabulous, and I love it! I printed it on cardstock and used my recently-aquired circle punch to punch them out. (I’m going to be using that thing lots more!)

But the MOST EXCITING thing I did for John’s special day was contact old friends and loved ones to have them send me a memory of John. I laughed so hard! I smiled from ear to ear hearing over and over again reading what a truly good man he is. The term moral compass came up more than once. But, Beevis and Butthead did, too, so he’s a good guy with a sense of humor. That’s like perfection, isn’t it?

I installed a google add-on, Boomerang, to allow me to set up emails to send to him every twenty minutes throughout the day on his birthday with these special messages. 40 memories from 40 loved ones on his 40th birthday. I’ll post the whole list tomorrow for electronic posterity.

For now, I will let you enjoy John’s hair. He has good hair, and it seems to bear the brunt of his aging-related crises.