Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas 2012

Hope you all had a wonderful day on Christmas.  We sure did!  Our house was host to Christmas morning breakfast with my parents, Justin's parents, my sister & Justin's brother (yes, 2 sisters married 2 brothers) and my nieces and nephews who are known around our house collectively as "the cousins".  I am sure Lydia was the first awake but she knew she wasn't allowed out of her room till 7am.  Emma, who had been pretty sick, slept past 7.  We opened presents, ate breakfast, visited then everyone left.  We enjoyed just being together as a family then went to my in-laws house for dinner. 

We enjoyed the fun, the food and most importantly the reason for the season, Jesus' birth.  I pray you are blessed as the new year approaches.  I also pray that you are able to enjoy and receive the abundant love of your Savior.  Blessings!

Christmas Eve

Presents under the tree

An orange, gum, book light & chapstick in their stockings

The orange symbolized Saint Nicholas' gift



and more books!

Clothes? Who cares.

New aprons

The surprise gift?


The aftermath

New PJ's from Grandma

Gotta love these kids - the cousins!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas 2012

I have neglected this space for far to long.  In desiring to live an authentic life, one that focuses on what matters most to me, I have put this blog aside.  However, I do want to have some record of what goes on in the daily happenings of our little family and know that if even one person is encouraged by what they find here, then it is worth it.


We have tried, over the course of our girls lives, to make Christmas a memorable time.  Full of fun, family and of course, JESUS!  Last year we went through the Jesse Tree devotions and used an advent calendar with different activities every day in December.  We will be following a similar routine this year.  In addition, we will focus our traditional Sunday evening advent devotions on learning some Christmas carols.

After decorating the tree the girls set up their nativity.

Our Jesse Tree and Advent candles.

The girls also have a huge heart to serve our community.  Lydia in particular is a great helper and is always looking for ways to bless those around her.  While we serve dinner at the Union Mission this weekend (Dec. 1st) we will be caroling as well. If anyone is up to joining us, just let me know and we can work out the details.  All are welcome!

We will be spreading Christmas Hope and Joy throughout the community by using these RACK'ed cards and modifying them to be better suited to our needs.  My friend Lorrie made mention of this sight in her Advent post and there were some pretty great resources there for planning how you and your family can serve your community.

My friend Jennifer shared about how her family takes time to look through the Compassion Catalog for gifts.  I love it!  My mother bought Lydia blankets and Emma some chicks through World Visions gift catalog as those are both presents that remind her of them and give towards a need in the world.

I know how important it is for our children to see that Christmas is not primarily about material presents we get but about the Gift of God's love come down in the person of Jesus Christ.  I know that gift giving is often out of control this time of year, and though I am not a gift giving type person, I still have to battle the urge to give my kids more than they need.  I love this post I read on MODsquad blog about how this family is cultivating a new view of gift giving. It is so in line with my desire to give good gifts to my children but not focus on only the material things.

Mostly, at the end of the day I want to remember Christ is our Joy and our Hope.  Things get crazy, overwhelming and out of our control, but in the midst of it all, God is there.  He does not change and He is sovereign over all that happens.  I want to lift my eyes to Him this Christmas and give Him all praise and glory. 


Thursday, July 26, 2012

I don't buy it...

Bad mom confession: I don't buy into the whole "back to school shopping" thing. If the girls need something then I will get it for them but I don't feel the need to buy everything new just because the adds tell me my kids need it.  Don't get me wrong, kids grow so fast that by the end of summer they often do necessitate new clothes or shoes.  Certainly by the time cooler weather rolls around there is need for some warm weather apparel that fits, but the whole concept of an entirely new wardrobe just because it is new? Nope. Not for me. 

Now, I know this makes me weird and even a bit unpopular but it's where I am and where my heart is right now.  In preparing to go to Africa in less than 2 weeks I have been reading books on poverty, apathy and the consumer mindset we (yep, that includes me) have.  We want more, we feel we need more and we believe we are entitled to spend our money on anything we want.  This just isn't true and it is not necessarily the message we should be passing onto the next generation of consumers.

So, in order for this not simply to be a rant about how you should think like me, I just want to encourage you to think about it.  Could you compromise by buying a few nice new (or "new to you") outfits for school but not feeling the need to buy and entirely new wardrobe? Have the clothes that were worn for the first 3 weeks of August really become unacceptable?  Just a thought. Sometimes by changing how we spend our money we are able to give it away in other ways.

This is a great time to fill a backpack with basic supplies for families that can't even buy basic school supplies let alone a new wardrobe.  Often the local Salvation Army or a local church will have a backpack giveaway.  Even leaving a backpack in the school office at your school is a great way to give. Buying a stockpile of supplies for your student's teacher is also always a great way to give back. Look into this in your area and then get your kids in on the giving aspect not just the consuming aspect.

I recently read this very convicting phrase: If we aren’t struggling against our culture, we are giving into it.

Let me tell you, it's messing with my head.  I don't want to give into the consumer lifestyle.  I don't want to give my kids the world of stuff at the expense of a larger world view.  I know that this is not easy to think about but if we don't ever struggle with the "why" of our actions and attitudes then we are giving into something we don't understand.

For a great "how to" example of back to school shopping with a twist, check out my friend Charli over at WV Urban Hippes.  She has a great post about back to school shopping. I absolutely love her thoughts and she is on much less of a "rant" than I am. 

The intent of this post is not to judge or condemn but to challenge.  Be encouraged to not just give into what the culture expects of us. Live a counter-cultural life with your family.  Blessings!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Whoo! Whoo!

Our local library is having several children's programs this summer.  Yesterday, they had a demonstration with 3 different owls that are in a local rehabilitation center.  The girls enjoyed seeing the owls up close.

The pictures are terrible quality as I only had my phone and was at the back of the room but I wanted documentation that we were there. (Need to mark them in the birdbook Mana!)

The 1st owl was Owlice - an Easter Screech Owl

The 2nd was William - A Barred Owl

The 3rd was Boo-Bo - A Great Horned Owl

Friday, July 20, 2012

Summer Reading - Shiloh

In our house we all love to read.  Books are part of our daily life and we spend lots of time reading, both together and alone.  Each day this summer we have been taking time to have read-aloud time.  Though I read aloud to the girls each day anyway I wanted to designate some more difficult and/or more classic literature into their lives.  Our first read-aloud this summer was Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

The girls enjoyed this book about a boy and his adventures to keep an abused dog.  We enjoyed that it was set in West Virginia.  There are certainly aspects of the book that are little bit older than my girls may understand but that is why it is a great book for a read-aloud, I can help explain or teach them about what is going on.

We used this website for some reading comprehension and activities. We also got a book about beagles from the library and did some preschool dog activities before I passed them on to a friend. We are waiting to rent the movie from the library but haven't gotten around to it.

We've read several other books and I promise I took at least a few pictures of the activities.  But, since I didn't have my camera when we did these activities and I didn't want to stage the photos her are a few random pictures just because my girls are cute. Who do you think they get their silliness from?

You guessed it. Daddy!

So, what books do you and your children enjoy reading together? 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Free and Frugal Fun

Lots of free, frugal fun today. 

We started out the day at Barnes & Noble for a FREE cookie we received a coupon for.  As a kids club member each child gets a gift certificate for a FREE cupcake or cookie for their birthday.  This was Lydia's gift certificate week. 
Each girl also picked up their FREE book for completing the Barnes & Noble summer reading program.

Giant Reese Cup Cookie

 After that, we met up with some friends at Chick-fil-a to celebrate cow day.  If you dress like a cow today you get a FREE meal.  The girls got FREE kids meals and I got a FREE value meal with a milkshake.  Can't beat that.  Just for dressing up like a cow.  Fun memories and good food.

Lauren, DJ, Emma, Lydia and me

Posing at home before we went.
I then picked up my FREE prescription for an antibiotic at Giant Eagle.  I am taking it to Africa as a precaution for treatment of Cholera or other various bacterial infections I may pick up while there.

I wanted to pick up a FREE drink from Starbucks but when I saw the line I was not willing to wait.  Besides, I had already had a milkshake and didn't feel that I needed it.

We ended our day by stopping by Aldi's to pick up some cheap food.  Not FREE but anyone who has ever shopped their knows that it is definitely frugal. All in all we had a fun day.  What are you favorite free activities to participate in?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Summer Art Series: Color

Lydia is very interested in art so this summer we are having art lessons at home.  We started our art series out by studying color.

The girls both made a color wheel with paint.

 Then we spent a lot of time having fun with medicine droppers and food coloring.  They spent a great deal of time enjoying mixing all the various colors.

I am so far from being an art expert.  In fact I am a pretty awful artist but I found a lot of great resources at the libarary and some online resources as well. 

I found an entire series called How Artists Use by Paul Flux.  The series includes 4 book that we are going through.  I also borrowed Getting To Know All About Art which is a playaway view all in one video player which has four different videos which seem to go right along with the books.

My favorite web site that I am using for the summer is Mrs. Browns Art Class.

Feel free to let me know about other great resources. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Catch Up

Well, I haven't posted what's been going on around here in 2 months so I am going to try to catch up this week.  This post is just a bunch of pictures of random things that have happened over the past few months.  Don't worry, not everything is included as my camera was MIA for over a month and I didn't catch all our activities.

Lydia's Class Concert "Squirm"

At least the kids were supposed to be wiggly. Ha!

Lunch with Lydia on last day of school.

Mac n cheese and lots of love.

The dress up queen!

Wooly Worm Fun

Both girls share an excitement for all things creepy and crawly.

Field  trip to the zoo.

Even Daddy and Emma got in on the day.

Feeding the ducks.

Growing up so much it's hard to believe.

Sleeping in the car.  With 5 trips to my parent's house in PA so far this summer we saw lots of this.

Waiting at the WVU hospitals for Great Gramndma's Dr. appointment to be done.

We spent out time running up, down and all around the steps.

Right before we left we discovered a nearby family practice the had fish and coloring books. Oh well.

My sister (Aunt Mala) doing Emma's makeup.

It was great to see her for the first time in a few years.

Lydia's turn.

It was nice to connect with her again.
Much of June was filled with trips to PA to visit my parents and other family.  In our down time our family has been crossing activities off our "Summer Bucket List" and just hanging out together.  I will post more about our summer art classes (at home) and our reading endeavors as a family.  July will included lots less traveling for the girls and I but we still have plenty of plans to enjoy each other, relax and still have plenty of things planned on the home front as well.
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