Monday, November 29, 2010

I see it as flexible

What I am most grateful for today, as I sit in this completely trashed house, is the power and permission to say NO.

No we will NOT start up schooling with 3 sick little kids, a tired Mom, and a disheveled house. To some that may seem irresponsible.

I see it as flexible.

Instead of trying to cram learning in through snotty noses and hacking coughs, getting desks and books in order, clearing counters, locating my pencil bag with all my color coded goodness {MIA at the moment}. Yes instead of all that, we'll switch up our schedule.

Read wrapped in blankets, nurturing fevers. Crowd by the computer watching videos on animals. Try our hand at making some homemade goodies to give as gifts for Christmas. Whip the house back into shape maybe.

And thank God for this amazing opportunity to be with my kids, this crazy thing called Homeschooling. As stressful as it can be and very well is at times, it's the neatest thing ever.

It's where we are, and where I pray God keeps us in the future.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's all about the {tree}

Oh it's that time again. It is. SO quickly it has come again for us to drag box after box out the attic, to scour through our clearance items we gathered post season last year, to set the whole house into full twinkle Christmas mode. But of all the things I went looking for this was our Jesse Tree.

I had only heard about the Jesse Tree for the first time last year and it quickly became our favorite time of the day, and our favorite tradition of the season.

There are many ways to celebrate advent with calendars and socks and cute crafts hiding treats, but the most blessed way is to walk through the line of Jesus, truly unfolding the history and the mystery of His birth and His sacrifice.

We want Christmas to truly be about Christ for our children. Of course the smells and sounds, traditions and gift giving are a part of it all, but the one gift that  truly mattered, the only gift that will carry you on to eternity wrapped and cooing in that little manger. That is the gift that we want our children to think about and celebrate.

So that when the wrapping paper is ripped and crinkled, the toys broken or forgotten about, the food eaten, decorations re-boxed and tucked in dusky hot attics. What is remembered is more than what won't last, what is remembered is truly the greatest gift of all.

The gift of life, of light, of forgiveness and salvation.

The gift of Jesus.

We start tonight, around the dinner table, the Tree in the center waiting for our hearts to tune in.

For more ideas about the Jesse Tree you kind find wonderful resources in  the links below.
The ideas and possibilities are endless!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Did you Survive?

We did and we had a blast! We had a house full of friends and family, way too much amazing food and desserts and lot of little kids running around entertaining each other. Of course being the head chef, I didn't get photos of the people, but I was able to snap a few of the decorations and such.

 The stretch of tables that ran all the way through the house, after over 20 people ate we hardly left a dent in the food!
 I tried my hand at a few fun and edible decorations....okay so my fruit gobbler looks more like a duck.....
 This pizza dough cornucopia took only 20 minutes to make, so fun! I"ll be doing this again!
 Very tasty little pilgrim hats! The kids and I had fun making them Thanksgiving morning, found the idea on my new favorite site Familyfun.com
 Probably the most fun I had planning and prepping was in the decorating. I was so blessed this year to have been in my parents house which was incredible for entertaining, it's huge! But also my Mom left all sorts of fun thing for me to gather from around the house from candles to faux fall leaves. I think I may have spent a total of maybe $6 to decorate everything!
 I found some great {and totally FREE} printables from Craftily Ever After
 I tried to make the kids table a little special this year, the kids had some candy to snack on and some coloring sheets.

The food was amazing. My husband tried out his new smoker and made a Kiawe Turkey, Gina brought homemade Green Bean casserole that I'm still nibbling on, the "red stuff" (a jello dessert tradition for us) as well as all the usual yumminess.

Most of all was the incredible spirit of the whole day. I love watching kids go flitting by, people munching in Santa Fe Hot dip, men shouting over football and new friends being made through memories.

I can't wait to do it all again next on to Christmas!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pre Thanksgiving Moment

Where are we today.....are we running around trying to get everything done? Are we stressed, tired, worried? I can answer yes to those! I want everything to be great, all my ideas to come together beautifully.

But not at the expense of my children. Often time when I am stressed or anxious it shows, and they know. They now the wide eyes, scared spacey look. The frazzled hair, sweaty brow.

But Holidays (however you celebrate) are about families, about spending time with each other and enjoying each other, regardless of how the table is decorated or the Turkey is brined.

Today I'm reminding myself to be mindful or the tastes, the sounds, the little witnesses. Who undoubtedly will remember what it was like to celebrate in your house, was it fun to prepare or was it a sham for your guests?
You don't need to be lectured on how much there is to be thankful for, and neither do I.

Sometimes though, we need to live it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

{FOTO} Friday

 Psalm 19:1
The Heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Taken at Haleiwa Beach Park

Chalkin' it UP!

Last year for Valentine's Day giveaways I made crayons out of well....crayons. I know creative right? Okay so if you missed that post you can catch up on the idea here {and no, I didn't come up with the idea, I just bought a cookie pan with the fun shapes to melt them in. Anyway, they turned out great and were a big hit.

So this year for Christmas, I sprouted another idea. Something fun without the sugar and allergy warnings! Plus spreading a little creativity along the way!

So this year we are making.......

Homemade sidewalk chalk! And let me tell you it's way easier than pealing all those crayons! Especially the ones you hadn't even used yet! You need a few simple ingredients and you are on your way to some sidewalk art fun!

Gather your indredients: Plaster of Paris, Powder tempera paint (liquid would work, but you'll end up with very light colors), cookie tins (I bought girl shapes and boy shapes at Target), a tuperware bowl, measuring cups and spoons. 

Chalk recipe: 2 cups of plaster to 1 cup water , 1-2 T of powder tempera paint. A few notes about the recipe: You ratio of plaster to water may be different than mine. The thicker it is the faster it will set BUT the harder it is to pour, you have to find a middle ground. You can use tempera paint but your colors will be very muted, if you do that add the paint to the plaster first and then add water. Since you are adding a liquid you'll add less water than the 1st recipe called for. There is a lot of wiggle room, you can always add water or plaster if it doesn't seem right. If you have disposable bowls and mixing spoons I'd use those....
 Measure your water first, add the plaster and paint and mix......
 and mix.......
and mix some more!

Pour your concotion into the molds and wait! It takes about an hour (sometimes longer) for the plaster to harden and dry enough on the outside. They are pretty hard to get out of the mold so don't be afraid to wack the tin against the counter or tap the back of the mold itself. We didn't have any chalk break and I was pretty rough!
Cute huh? And of course we tried them out and they work great and wash right off! You have to wait about 24 hours for the inside of the plaster to fully dry, but have fun. Oh and if you are coming over for Thanksgiving....your kids might be going home with a few of these......

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Beauty in the Midst of the Mess

Today is one of those days I wake up, not wanting what I know is looming.
The clutter making it's own home around the house.
The laundry so behind I could donate it all and dress a family of 6 for a month.
The schooling, left unplanned because of lack of time over the weekend to do it.
The empty fridge lacking the essentials to get us through even breakfast.
The errands and tasks needing to be accomplished.
The growing list of things "to-do" that always seem to get added to instead of crossed off.

Today is the day to feel like a failure. To look around and know I'm not measuring up (but to what and who?).
To question myself as a Mother, a wife, a friend, a teacher. Maybe I should send all the kids to public school. My house would be so much cleaner, my laundry would at least have a chance at a Mole hill instead of a mountain, errands would be easier with fewer kids in tow.

But you know.........I didn't sign up for an easy clean life when God blessed me with children.

My house is a mess because the kids are busy learning and enjoying life.

My laundry is piled high because I spend my days with my little ones, measuring my time by them and their needs.

The planning was unfinished because of fellowship with family and friends that happily gobbled up my free time.

The shopping, cleaning, lists upon list of things needing my attention, all of these things I cannot accomplish, cannot get done, feel like a complete failure at. Remain, because when it comes down to it, it's because I spend that time with my children. Pouring the best of my energies into them. It's not because I'm lazy, incompetent, in need of re prioritizing or in need better planning.

So my house will remain cluttered, laundry piled, tasks left undone with the evidence of a life given to my children. It may not look beautiful to you, you may question my abilities at holding down the fort, keeping it all together, making it work-or not.  But our days are beautiful to my children, when you ask them what we've done during our time together.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Countdown to Turkey Day!

If you are inviting tons of people over for a Thanksgiving dinner, having just your family or travelling somewhere else, there is always prep involved. If you are like me, I hate rushing and scrambling at the last minute, so this year I'm trying to plan ahead instead of find myself behind. The day of Thanksgiving, I really want to be able to enjoy my guests and not be running around trying to keep everything together. SO here is a list I've come up with to help me keep my head on my shoulders! Let the countdown begin!

10 days and counting{Nov. 15}

  • Finalize your menu (at least what you are cooking if your guests a bringing sides and deserts). Use this dandy worksheet:: {Home Ec 101} By the way Heather is amazing, she's also got great ideas so head on over there and read up!
  • Gather ALL your recipes and put them in one place. A File folder, binder (or use your binding machine to make your own Thanksgiving planner ;) Use this Recipe maker Free! And this worksheet!
  • Start your Amish Friendship starter, didn't know you were making this for your guests did you? This year I am giving guests a starter and sending each family home with a mini sample loaf!
  • Homeschoolers:: decide NOW next week will be an easy one, give yourself permission to take it easy and enjoy cooking with the kids (as I walk away from the mirror after talking to myself!)

Day 9{Nov. 16}
  • Making shopping list (with all your nicely gathered recipes), make sure you shop your cabinets first!
  • Final shopping for non perishable items
  • Start cleaning out the fridge and freezer and making room! Cook with what's in there and don't restock things you don't really need! Clean out any food that is growing, items that are expired or that your aren't using.

Day 8{Nov 17}
  • Start thinking about the little ones visiting. We are having lots of kids of different ages join us (as well as our own clan). I think it's best to plan ahead! Will they be seated with parents or at a "kiddie table", how many are coming, how many boosters and highchairs do you need (consider asking parents to bring those if necessary) will babies need a place to sleep/nap? Do nursing Mom's need a quiet nursing area? Maybe considering have chicken nuggets and other kid friendly foods on hand that you can easily prepare.
  • Kids craft ideas! It may seem crazy to try and stick craft activities in such a busy day, but having things ready for them to do will knock out the boredom and maybe stop them from tearing apart the entire house.....(or maybe not!) You can print off some simple Thanksgiving coloring sheets or go with something a little more crafty. I would keep it relatively mess free ie: no paints and glue! 
  • Gather some things for the adults to do as well. The game of Pit is always a hit, but maybe a puzzle or a board game would be nice to have on hand!

Day 7{Nov 18}
  • Start thinking and gathering decorations. Pull out all your holiday candles, table clothes, etc. Launder anything that needs it or buy those fancy paper plates and napkins! What ever you decide think about it now so you aren't scrambling trying to decorate the night before! Use Paperglitters Free printable fall kit! (in the kit there is a sheet of black and white fall cartoons that I am planning on printing off on label paper for the kids to color and but out and stick on construction paper as a placemat~mess free fun!)
  • Assemble any decorations you need to.

Day 6 {Nov 19}
  • Start any major cleaning projects you've been meaning to tackle. The toy pile in the living room, the cluttered bookshelf you want cleared, the shoe mountain by the door! Make a list and start cracking on those things  that you'll want looking good by the big day. 
  • Make your Sweet Potato Casserole and freeze (you can freeze this for up to 3 weeks~ see you could have started weeks ago!)
  • Assemble your Holiday Punch and Freeze in a round bowl that will fit in your punch bowl (double check!!)
  • Whip up some great dips for those coming early to watch Football! You can Freeze these and pop them in the crock pot Thanksgiving morning! Oh and Borrow this book from your library!
Day 5 {Nov 20}
  • Shop for last of perishable items needed (consult your master list from day 10!)
  • Start working on cooking timeline, use this one from Life as a Mom
Day 4 {Nov 21}
  • Print and assemble your thank you boxes and recipe cards for Amish Friendship bread (If you aren't doing this you could take the day off!)
Day 3 {Nov 22}
  • Start your Deep Cleaning. Fly lady has some very complete lists of how to clean each area of your home!
  • Thaw your Turkey (or Turkeys!!) in the fridge.
Day 2 {Nov 23}
  • Brine your Turkey!
  • Make your Cornbread and hard boil your eggs (if you are making homemade stuffing)
  • Start setting up your tables and chairs (if you need to borrow some, this is the day to pick everything up!)
  • Make a final headcount.
  • Start that Jello desert! Around here it's called "The Red Stuff" Oh so Yummy!
Day 1 {Nov 24}
  • Make your pies 
  • Finish your "red stuff"
  • Put together the stuffing (except for raw eggs and Turkey broth)
  • Make your Mini Amish Friendship Bread Loaves (now you are wishing you would have done this, really)
  • Pull your Sweet Potato Casserol and Dips from the Freezer and put them in the Fridge
  • Peel and Chop Apples for this Pie
  • Do a final straighten of the house before you go to bed so the littles don't undo it so quickly
  • Decorate the table!
Thanksgiving {Nov 25}
  • Follow your Timeline you filled out on Day 5
  • Put your punch in a bowl, pour Club soda over the frozen mixture!
  • Give your house a quick Swifer Vac and check the guest bathroom again to make sure it's stocked and clean!
  • Light your candles and enjoy your guests!
  • Get your Jesse Tree out and have your first Family devotion in preparation for the Christmas Season! (That post is coming up soon!)
Okay so now is your chance to let me know what I have forgotten! I am praying this plan will help lead up to a stress-less holiday this year! I love Thanksgiving, so we are looking forward to having guests in our home this year.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Simple Fall Crafts

Living in Hawaii doesn't exactly make for the best hands on teaching when it comes to learning about all four seasons. Here you can learn about summer, rain, summer and summer! Believe me~ all you who post creative and beautiful ideas on what to do with all those beautiful fall leaves I am jealous! You should send me a box, help a Momma out!

Well, that just means we need to be a little creative when learning about fall and leaves! Being an art teacher I find myself adding arts and crafts to everything we learn. Here are a few ideas I have tried out with the kids that we loved.

We did an overlapping fall leaf painting. This one is great for any age, with a little help even Gracie got involved (and in the process also painted the sidewalk).

Overlapping Leaf Design

First gather your supplies: watercolor paper or card stock, watercolor paints or watered down tempera paints, paint brushes, fall leaves or a print out of fall leaves.

Step One: Have the artists trace or draw fall leaves. We traced them from a sheet of fall leaves, you can use a free printable like THIS or THIS.

Step Two: Over your initial drawings, trace or draw another set of leaves making sure to overlap whenever possible. You are striving for a whole lot of leaves resembling a nice fall pile.

We talked about the Element of Line in art and how important it is, how overlapping creates interest and depth in a work of art, and warm colors (red, orange and yellow).

Step Three: Painting! Have the artists work with one color at a time. Painting entire leaf shapes in one color only. I tried to have them color leaves that weren't touching. When it looks like about a third of the leaves are painted, move on to the next color. This time though you want to choose some of the leaves that are already painted with the first color to add some depth and change the color of the first wash. Repeat with the 3rd color until all leaves are filled in!
Ellie's Art
Jonah's Art

This is a great project for kids who are older than 6, they can focus and really do a great job adding layer after layer of leaves and colors. This project can be worked on over a period of time, allowing colors to dry in between washes or all at once allowing colors to run together. My kids are more the spontaneous action art type. So here is a project that suited them a little better:

Wet on Wet Accidental Design

 Using the same supplies, only this time we filled the paper with a humongous leaf. Starting with the lightest color (yellow) we painted the entire leaf generously, making sure there was a lot of puddles!
Next we sprinkled, splattered, action art-ed our way into making fall leaves by dropping the orange and red paint on the wet yellow and letting the leaf "paint" itself! The accidental designs were beautiful! My kids had a really fun time watching the paint "paint itself".

 In Art terms this is called "wet on wet" meaning a wet surface with wet paint.
Another fun idea is to cover the entire paper and then cut fall leaf shapes out of the paper and use those for various crafts!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I was asked recently what it was I thought God was trying to teach me lately. I'll tell ya, to be spandex. To stretch and bend around and over things that {sometimes} don't seem they should be stretched and bent around. That's what my time has been this school year.

Stretched, changed, tweaked, stripped down.

You name it, anything but consistent for more than a short period of time. A few short months ago that would have me completely unraveled. But now, in the midst of God's power and Grace, it's truly changing me. He is changing me. He is stripping away my comfort zone, my perfectionism, my time, and transforming it into something so much more beautiful than it's ever been. Into His time and His terms.

I've always been a perfectionist. But there is a problem with perfectionism, it doesn't jive with realism, with living especially with 4 small {very real} children. Perfectionism and the pursuit of it is prideful and ugly. It's selfishness and haughty and envious of others, or at least their appearance of perfection.

What comes with breaking the routine, the schedule, the plans laid up in my own space is stress, anxiety, fear...of life not being perfect. But when we submit moment by moment to Him, the creator of all time and circumstance, transformation takes place. When fear creeps in~prayers must be whispered out. Voices of imperfection stomped out into silence.

Because I am imperfect and God loves me....even though His blood has washed me clean, He loved me before all my imperfectness. He wants to lavishly pour out His rich Grace on my life, this very day, this very moment!

Ephesians 1:7 "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of all sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding."

He doesn't hold back....He knows what He is doing in your life, and He's doing it for you.

You were made, created, fashioned to do good! You are God's Masterpiece a work of fine art! Really you are, just the way you are. Not as a perfectionist....the way you are.  He has created you to do good through Him, in advance! He knows what good you will do. He knows your struggles and your ugly imperfection, but He also knows how to help you over come that.

Ephesians 2:10 "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

So be stretched with me, learn to be spandex. It's painful some times looking in the mirror to see what the truth is, but over time when we conform to His plan for our lives, we'll see the beauty in it all.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The spirit of Thank{ful} Giving

I've fallen, quite literally, over these verses the last few weeks. Through them and in them I hear God calling me to more than what I have been in the past. More than what I am capable of giving. He is calling for me to rely wholly on His Grace. That is a difficult place to be at times.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas, the season of giving, around the corner. It's no wonder God has laid these verses on my heart and soul in a time to reflect life and our time here spent well or ill.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7
"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

God leads each family to live in individual ways. He has given us individual passions and interests and wants us to use those for his Glory. We have made commitments and should fully commit to them. Some, like our family, has made the commitment to homeschool, but am I giving what I have decided in my heart to give each and every day? Or am I reluctant to throw myself in and focus on the teaching, do I do it out of guilt? (somedays, yes) But it is some days.....yes.

2 Corinthians 9:8
"And God is able to make all grace about to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."

Because even though some days I feel like I can wear the super woman cape, I am not able. I am not. But He is! He is! In everything I do from homeschooling to discipline to serving in the church, when I submit to God and His gift of Grace in my life, that gift is multiplied in me! Trusting him fully will allow me to give freely and generously to those commitments He has put before me. If I cannot or will not trust, I will not sow generously into the lives of my precious children or others.

2 Corinthians 9:10-11
"Now he who supplies the seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store o seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will me made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God."

God gives us generously, those resources to use and invest for Him! When we in return use those for Him, he blesses us. Maybe it's singing, writing, hospitality, teaching....when we are sowing with what He has given, cultivating and watering those commitments using His Grace, He provides more crops! What we sow using His Grace we will reap gracefully. And in that blessing we can serve Him even more!

2 Corinthians 9:12
"This service that your perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God." 

What I desire more than anything else, is for my children too see Christ living and working in me. Not for them to have lived a perfectly kept home, with every thing made from scratch. I want them to see someone who relies on God's strength to keep giving in all times, one who goes in prayer to the Creator of the Universe in all things big and small.

Whisper His name into the tornado, chaos, screaming times and He will answer loudly, reverberating off of the walls of your soul, your needs and Grace. Fall upon Him, those times where you can not lift yourself out of the mire or out of bed. He will provide more Grace than you ever imagined. He will bless you heart to help you serve those who you have been blessed with and have committed to.

Moby Review

I admit, this was my first wrap experience......and I loved it.

After making and selling all sorts of baby carriers, the wrap was one that I was still intrigued about. To be honest it looked complicated, it looked hot, it looked claustrophobic! In reality it's non of those things.

When I first received the Almond Blossoms Moby with UV protection to review, I was excited to try it out, though a little nervous! Even an experienced babywearer, looking at the book (I literally mean book!) that came with the carrier I had my fears! As I flipped through the booklet I really really liked what I saw!

Moby shows step by step details about every position you can wear your baby and toddler in {8 holds in all}! Including breastfeeding and twin holds! There are so many carriers that advertise those two specific holds but few explain them in detail, and showing a precious mom breastfeeding!! I was very impressed and pleased to find this info in the first few pages of the booklet! I'll go on to say that Moby also has a wrap called Best for Babes promoting and supporting breastfeeding!The booklet also included tips on baby massage while wearing the Moby as well as safe exercise positions!

So what about the complicated, hot and claustrophobic? I tried the Moby for a good 6 weeks, my goal is to give an honest review of the product.Within that time I like to use the product in different occasions, weather, situations. I was able to use the Moby on both Liora (3-5 months) and Gracia (2 years/30 pounds) My real opinion?

The Pros:
  • It feels wonderful! The material is amazing and soft, it molds to your body and the baby! My back doesn't get sore from extended wearing!
  • Every position was comfortable and easy to put Liora into and out of, with basically no practice!
  • It's not hard to put the carrier on. It takes between 30 seconds to 1 minute to put the wrap on after only a few tries. It's not at all complicated! There is one basic way to wear the wrap, and an additional sling hold (which is SO cool!! and awesome for toddlers who want to hip carry!)
  • Because of it's stretch, there is very little adjusting to the carrier once the baby is in. I didn't find I wanted things tightened or loosened.
  • It is very secure and safe. Once baby is in the sling, even Cartwheels and trampolines couldn't shake her out of there (although not recommended~please don't try that at home!)
  • The wrap offers a comfortable breastfeeding hold and doubles as a cover up for modesty while you nurse!
  • It can double as a blanket, nursing cover, baby shade, changing pad.......
  • Both Mom and Dad can wear the same wrap! Not all carriers can boast this! It also fits all sizes of men and women!
The Cons:
  • It is bulky to pack into a diaperbag.
  • Putting it on places other than your home (namely outdoors) can be tricky without it hitting the ground, though it is possible.
  • It can get a little warm if you are outside in direct sunlight, otherwise I was extremely comfortable in it!
Over all I was pleased to review the wrap, and still grab it when I'm on the go and at home. And if I've got numerous errands to run, you might even see me pulling through starbucks making a fashion statement sans baby!


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