More travel ideas

Thank you for the travel/snack ideas! I'm definitely going to use some of them!

I've been working on the coloring books and having all sorts of fun. The doll pattern is Sarah's from The Small Object, so I can take no credit for it. You can find it here. I've just added hair, bows and outfits to her original pattern. I'm so grateful to have found Ginny's post at Small Things~ for the coloring book idea, and for the idea for the scaled-down version of the doll in order to create your own doll.

I think Ella is going to love this. And if she doesn't, I will be happy to take over. ;)

I also put together a Travel Scavenger Hunt for the kids to do. I'm going to sew the pages into little books, similar to the doll books above.

Still to do:

>Mark is going to print out some pages of small, blank football helmets for the boys, which I will then sew into a book for them, so that they can work on filling in team logos on the helmets while Ella works on her dolls.

>I'm going to make a little Word Game book for Ella to do. With word games like this one: I'll write "The Oregon Coast" (or some other such phrase/set of words) at the top of the page and then Ella can think up as many smaller words that come from that set of letters. I used to love that game when I was younger.

>I'm also going to make several blank books for the kids to color in/create their own games.

Oh! Here's a great link I found yesterday for Classic Road-Trip Games.

Travel ideas for kids

We leave for vacation (the ocean! yay!) in mere days. I can't wait.

I have considerably lowered my prepping-for-vacation expectations. Usually by this time I would be somewhat packed, the laundry would be well on it's way for all the packing that is taking place, and at the VERY least, I would have my Gigantic List, which usually has columns for "To Do", "To Pack" and "To Buy"~ all to be checked off before we leave.

I told Mark last night that those things aren't even on my radar this year. On Saturday I do plan to have the kids pack some things, and I usually make a list on the dry erase board for them. This photo is from last year:

This year I'll just be happy if by Monday morning all seven of us are in the van with some clothes packed and directions in hand. Oh, and the promise of a stop at Starbucks on the way out of town. :)

I do have some fun things for the kids. I bought each of them a bucket/shovel set at the dollar store last night, and I'm going to "stuff" those with some goodies (snacks, crayons, coloring books, and this customized coloring book idea that I saw yesterday and am already working on for the older kids). I'm going to fill their buckets on Sunday night and then put them in the van so that when they go to climb into their seats Monday morning for the long drive, their buckets will be waiting on their seats.

I will also have an arsenal of snacks and ideas at my disposal for the times they are getting sick of the drive.

My idea list:

>the ABC game For Isaias, I'm going to write out the alphabet for him to have in hand so that he can find the letters and play along with us.
>the license plate game I'm going to print this map out for the kids to fill in as we find plates from various states.
>music sing-along or listening to a CD

Last year Mark had the brilliant idea of having the kids find road signs like these:

We gave each of the kids a page filled with blank white "signs", and then gave them each a pencil and a yellow crayon. We were all looking for them, and when we'd spot one, they'd each sketch them on their page. [This works best if you're not on the interstate for most or all of your trip.]

I would love to hear about the various games/activities you do with your kids on road trips!

Picture Study

We had a lively Picture Study discussion this morning about this piece of news: Five Masterpieces Stolen in Paris.

We viewed each painting, talked about how rare they were, talked about museums, and thieves~ and (most exciting to the kids): "How would you go about investigating this crime?"

It was quite fun to hear their ideas! [Isaac will be looking for footprints, Ella will be looking for a glove the thief may have left behind.]

And then we talked about DNA for awhile.

Very fun!

Grateful: Monday, May 17

1207 | our garden planted this weekend: sunflowers, snap peas, carrots, basil, and all sorts of varieties of lettuces

1208 | beautiful sunshine, all weekend long, and happy children in it

1209 | Audra, who loves to be outside

1210 | this moment with Adelia, who walked along our sidewalk, pressed her nose into several tulips and happily exclaimed over each one

holy experience

A Letter for Wednesday

Tonia has started writing letters in lieu of posts on her blog, and I love that idea. It so encompasses what I want to do~ tell about our days/lives, and not have to think of a "Title" or a Topic. I told her I was going to copy her idea and I meant it.

So, here goes:

I'm sitting on my bed~ which is where I spend all of my quiet times, when I get them. My Bible is near, and my journal, and a Beth Moore Bible Study. And a bag of chocolates. Yes, a bag. Hershey's Bliss~ "smooth and creamy milk chocolate". Mmm. A cup of milk sits beside me.

Audra is sleeping (thank you, Jesus. Have I mentioned she is our WORST sleeper yet?) Adelia is sleeping. Both of the boys are playing LEGOS, but in separate rooms. Ella is working on her math and then was going to color or paint, I think.

It's been a rough morning. Chores that should have taken my son about 20 minutes to accomplish took three hours . And he still wasn't done. And much of what he did was done incompletely. These are chores he does every single day. Chores I know he knows how to do. I wrestled with myself all morning about it. Do I just let it go? Take the approach: "If he wants to take to do his chores, so be it?" But I want him to learn to be a hard worker, to apply himself and focus. He spends a lot of his chore time standing around, and that irks me. Or he pretends he doesn't know what to do or where something goes, which makes me mad. Because I know he knows. Anyway~ all of that resulted in me yelling at him and then calling Mark on the phone in tears. He came home shortly afterwards and made things all better. Really. Isaias is so much more responsive to him than he is to me. He rarely tries to manipulate Mark or push his buttons.

Let's see.. on to brighter topics!

The weather has been beautiful lately. Blue skies and warm sunshine. Ahh. It makes me thankful we're in the home stretch for school, because I find myself shortening lessons and skipping things just so that the kids can get outside to enjoy it.

In two weeks time we'll be on vacation~ on the beach. I can't wait. It's been a LONG time since we've taken a family vacation and it will be good for us. Something else I'm dreaming about, too~ when Audra is weaned~ and that is going.away.with.just.Mark (!) for a few days... somewhere. The problem we always have when Mark and I try to decide where to go away is that I like hot sunny beaches and he likes shady woods. :) (Silly man.) There's really no happy medium.

We're going to plant the garden this weekend. Last year was sort of a wash for us. This year we're going simple~ just lettuces and some herbs, maybe, and snap peas. Maybe cucumbers. Nothing that will require canning/freezing, because I just don't have it in me. I know my limitations.

Well. I'm going to get off this computer and pick up my Bible, now.

Hope you're all having a wonderful day!

States video!

Per your request (Kimmie and Hilary!)... here is a video of my kids singing the song: or at least the song I remembered from some twenty-five years ago. There are more words to the song, but when I Googled the lyrics, once~ I realized I had left out a chunk of the introduction and the closing part of the song. No matter. The names of the states are the most important parts, and those I did NOT forget. :)

What we're singing is this:

Fifty Nifty United States from the thirteen original colonies,
Shout 'em, Scout 'em, Tell all about 'em,
One by one, 'til we've given a name to every state in the U.S.A.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut.
Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana~
Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine.
Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan.

Minnesota, Mississippi.
Missouri, Montana, Nebraska~ Nevada.
New Hampshire! New Jersey! New Mexico! New York! North Carolina! North Dakota! Ohio.

Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas~

Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington,
West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming~
The official all-the-words-included lyrics can be found here. (If you follow that link you can also watch a video, too.)

A "nifty" way to learn our 50 states

There is only one song I remember from my elementary public school music classes, and it is this one: Fifty Nifty United States.

Do you all know that one, too? If not, you are so missing out.

That song is how I've been teaching our kids the states. But. Instead of just learning the song, we're also learning where each state is located on the map- which is something I never learned.


NEVER learned.

(And just so you know, that truth almost didn't make it into this post, because I am truly embarrassed by that fact.)

So guess who else is learning their US geography right now?

Anyway~ I taught them the song, and then once a week, during our morning school time, we'd learn a few states.

The first week: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas.

Second week: After reviewing the states previously learned (the "A" states), we moved on to the next "set": California, Colorado, Connecticut. And so on.

With each group of states learned, we'd point to them on the map that hangs near our kitchen table.

We only officially made it through the O's, I think, but they love the song, and every time they sing it they now try to find all the states, so it's sort of pointless to keep going through them, honestly.

My final plan was to give Ella a blank map and see if she could fill in the states on her own. Mark totally beat me to this, though. Not knowing that I had planned to do this, he printed out a blank map one evening and handed it to Ella to see how she'd do.

Ella correctly filled in 40 states on her first try.

And I'm sure she was singing The Song in her head the whole time.

{Repost} Mother's Day thoughts

{Originally posted in May of 2008}

As Mother's Day approaches all kinds of thoughts crowd in.

>I remember sitting in church on Mother's Day, year after year, longing and aching to be able to join the club. And I know some of you are there right now. Wanting so much to have the opportunity to just get to be a mother. Oh, dear God, please? Remember these. Fill these empty wombs. And flood these women with hope, strength, and perseverance in the meantime.

>I think of those of you, too, who have known loss that affects this day. A mother, now gone. A child, gone. I have never miscarried but I imagine you mark the days, months, seasons of that baby's life- had that life continued. Bring comfort, God.

>I think of how I have the best mother in the world. I am so grateful for my mom. Some of the things I am most thankful for? Her love for Jesus, her commitment to be at home, her enthusiasm for life's simple pleasures, her generosity, her heart of compassion, her laughter, her prayers, her gift of hospitality. To name just a few. God, thank you for mom. Pour Your favor upon her.

>I think of Mark's mother, my mother-in-law. I am thankful to her for her prayers, her instruction, her love for her little tow-headed boy who grew up to be my husband. What a fine son she raised! Bless her, dear God. Thank you for her commitment to her children. Thank you that she raised them to love You.

>I think of Isaias' mother in Guatemala. How often does she think of her little boy? What are the things she remembers about him? She carried him for nine months, her belly swelling, bearing his weight until delivery. Nine months later he was in our home. Bless her today, Father. Thank you that she chose life for our Isaias. Provide for her. May she know Your love.

>I think of Addie's mother. It was only a little over two months ago that she gave birth to the little beauty I now hold. Two months. What is she thinking today? Oh, God, rescue this one. May she know the redeeming love of Jesus Christ.

>I think of Baby's young mother. Will she get her four girls this Mother's Day? Does the state make special arrangements so that she'll get them for the day, or part of the day? How is she doing? Maybe Baby is even back with her already. Lord, help this young mother. Give her the support, the resources, the strength to mother her children well. May she come to know You and love You, dear God; that You might guide her and strengthen her.

>I think of those of you who are foster mothers, who take in children and love them and raise them for a season, only to have to say goodbye . Bless you. God, grant these mothers strength to carry out the task you have called them to.

>I think of so many of you who are mothers-- doing this difficult, yet *so* rewarding job, day in and day out. Happy Mother's Day to you! God, bless these mothers. Give them wisdom, discernment, energy, creativity, and joy.

>Finally, I am filled with joy and gratitude that I get to be a mother to Ella, Isaac, Isaias and Adelia. Thank you, Father. My heart is so full. What a tremendous gift and responsibility. May I honor You as I mother these children You've entrusted to me.

Grateful: Monday, May 3

holy experience

1171 | Our Friday-morning tradition of pancakes

1177 | The soft, fine, reddish-hued hair on Audra's head.

1179 | The way Audra, while nursing, will move my hand to her head (so that I'll play with her hair) or my hand to her leg (so that I'll rub it).

1181 | Isaac's "I'm glad you're my mommy" this morning, as he tucked himself into my lap.

1185 | Early morning walks with my mom.

1187 | The fact that when Audra comes in from outside, her clothes and hands are just as dirty/wet as the older kids'.

1188 | May Day flowers from Mark... a bunch for each of his girls. And the way he rang the doorbell and ran around the corner of the house to hide so that when we opened the door, we were met with a box of cheery flowers with Happy May Day notes attached.

1189 | Mark's willingness to help me correct Ella's Math workbook last night, and...

1190 | ...Ella's subsequent delight in finding daddy's corrections (and silly pictures!) throughout her book.