Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Animal Theme

You may not know this, but I really like science. When I told Justin what this week's theme was for the girls, he responded by asking, "Is animals all your going to teach them?" Well, I am an "expert" in this area! Not really, but it is what I know how to teach! Going through workbooks is not "fun" for me, so I choose to get our hands a little dirty instead (that's actually a funny statement because the girls hate to have their hands dirty!) I'll still incorporate letters and words and numbers and math, but it will just have to be from a science point of view. After all, science IS what I know. And, who knows if they'll actually get to learn science when they get into elementary, so I better get it in now!

So, the theme animals is very wide reaching and this is only the second day of the week. Yesterday, I pulled out all of our books on animals and got out our animal flash cards. I sat the girls down and we went through all the animal cards. We thanked God for creating such cool animals. (a little side note: Jordan asked the other day if God colored her or painted her when He made her. Oh, honey, he did a lot more than that! Probably a little young for the ins and outs of DNA, meiosis, and fertilization) I asked them questions about each animal. I asked Jordan about things like where they lived, what they ate, etc, and I asked Rylie what sounds they made. I have to incorporate a little bit of differentiated instruction when I've got a 2 and 4 year old together. Then we went outside and pretended to be different animals (gallop like a horse, waddle like a penguin, etc.) It was fun and silly to do the actions along with the girls. Later in the day, I read Jordan about half the books we own on animals. When Rylie woke up, we made lion puppets.

Today, we learned all about animal tracks. We went to the nature center and I was super excited to get to see SO MANY animal tracks in the mud! The water holes dried up and what is left is mud! Yay! We took the animal track/animal detective book with us that my sister-in-law just gave us. We used it to help identify some of the tracks we saw.
Hhmm, these tracks were pretty easy to identify...the animals even left behind their names:)
These, cool to get to SEE tracks in the making!
By the way, I took a ton more pictures than this, but I won't bore you with them all.
When we got home, I made a copy of the page in the animal detective book to play a matching game; match the tracks on the left with the animal on the right. Yes, I'll incorporate reading in this game, like having Jordan write the names of each of the animals. We haven't gotten to this activity yet.

Then, I'm going have the girls sort the pictures of the tracks we took and make a little graph/table showing how many of each animal track we saw (yeah, math and science together!).
Still to come: getting ready for the zoo...

Friday, August 26, 2011

A few books and thoughts

Here are a few books that I've read recently. I absolutely LOVE reading true stories of people that live out their lives for Jesus. They challenge me to want to do the same; that's the easy part...the hard part is actually doing it. God has shown His strength and power over and over when we are at our weakest. God never said he wouldn't give us more than we can handle...He never gives us more than HE can handle.

"Shadow of the Almighty" is about the life of Jim Elliot, who only lived to 28 years old. He sought Jesus with his whole heart, and wanted to share the truth of Jesus to those who had never heard. God did amazing things through his (and his family's and friend's) suffering. Through his wife's forgiveness of his killers, salvation was brought to the "savage" tribe in the jungle.
I just finished reading "The Hiding Place." I'm sure many of you have read it already. I LOVED reading about this "ordinary" Dutch family that was brought up to love Jesus. When German occupation shook their world, they refused to do nothing. They showed the world the mark of a Christian: Self-Sacrificing Love. Love for family, love for friends, love for the poor and wounded, and, most Christ-like, love for their enemy. The two sisters experienced horror upon horror in prison and concentration camps, yet they never gave into the lies of the enemy. They believed God put them there in that time and place, horrific as it was, to bring the light of Jesus to the darkest, deepest evil pit one could imagine. Betsie, the older sister, knew how important it was to share the Gospel at the "very gates of Heaven." With all the people dying around her, she knew she was in the place she was supposed to be. She quoted the verse, "Give thanks in ALL circumstances," (one of Jordan's verses she's memorized, and we've focused on this week) and thanked God for even the flea infested bunks. It turns out that the fleas kept the guards out of the sleeping area, which allowed the women to conduct Bible studies at night. Betsie even prayed for the Nazi's, believing that they were the ones that were truly to be pitied. To live without love and be driven by hate must have been the worst place to be.
My reactions to the stories of those suffering for Christ don't seem to go together. My first reaction is, "What great JOY to be able to experience the presence of Jesus Christ!" Then I think, "Joy? Suffering beyond imagination and I'm feeling envious? I must be crazy!" I don't want suffering, but I want Jesus. I'm not sure you can fully and completely have both. Jesus called us to suffer for His sake, to pick up our cross and count the cost of following him.

Life is not about me. I'm excited to read a book that I ordered, "I am not, but a know I AM." I got tired of looking for inspirational books to read the other day, because they all seemed to make me the center: "you have to love yourself before you can love others." Really? I'm pretty sure that's not the way it works. When I love others, I stop making myself the center of my world and my mind begins to have the right perspective. I want Jesus to be the center. We are nothing apart from Christ. We don't matter apart from Christ. We are dust apart from Christ. Life is not about me.

Our small group read "The Hole in Our Gospel" over the summer to gear up for our missions minded groups this fall. It was a good eye-opener to make you think outside of yourself. I have been motivated by this book to actually DO SOMETHING to bring the Whole Gospel to those in desperate need of it. I can't do it all, but I can refuse to do nothing.

A story we talked about, that someone brought up at group, was Jesus feeding the 5,000 from a few loaves of bread and fish. It never occurred to me before, but the boy that offered his food was most likely not the only one with food to share. He just happened to be the only one that offered. The other people there were not obligated to give their food away. Nothing was "wrong" with them not sharing. But guess what? The boy got to be a part of what Jesus was doing, and the other people sat on the sidelines and were left just watching. I don't want to be a spectator in the Kingdom of God. I want to be a player, on the front lines, sharing my fish and bread so that I don't miss out on what Jesus is doing.

Four Months

We passed our four month milestone in this pregnancy last week and I finally got a picture. (I'm going by a nine-month pregnancy, not 10, four-week months). I reached 19 weeks yesterday. We will get to find out what we're having on Sept. 6th!
This pregnancy has been pretty much the same as my previous two:

*crankiness and irritability have subsided, and I'm a much more pleasant person now:)
*I have a LOT more energy then I did, so I'm very grateful!
*My appetite has increased, so maybe I'll start gaining some weight now. I lost weight at first and I'm still not up to what I weighed before I got pregnant. Believe it or not, my "belly" is still the same measurement around that it was last time I recorded it before getting pregnant. Must be due to losing weight in the beginning. It's not going to stay that way for long, though!
*I've been feeling nervous that not everything was OK. When I was pregnant with Rylie, I felt her moving at 15.5 weeks and was seeing my stomach move with her kicks by 18 weeks. This time, I've only felt true, distinct movements for the past few days. Maybe it means that this little one will not be quite as "on-the-go" as Rylie is:)
*Jordan is still SUPER EXCITED to have a new little sibling. She says that she will hold it and give it a pacifier when it cries. She hopes for a brother because, "I never had a brother before." I'm praying that she will be a godly leader of her siblings and influence them in love for Jesus and others.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Four Year Old Birthday Pics from the Zoo

Trying to get pictures of kids on the go is challenging! But, I got a few of her being still, even if just for a second.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Princess (and Prince) Photos

Not everyone at the party came to get their picture taken, but here are the ones that did. Even the boys tried it!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

4th Birthday Pics

We just celebrated Jordan's 4th Birthday yesterday. It was a blast! Crazy and chaotic, but still so much fun! When the kids got to the party, we started right away on our crafts: tiaras and princess wands. Thank goodness for moms that decided to stay and help were an unexpected blessing!

Here are the kids hard at work...I was impressed with much of their creativity! It was great to be able to use all the supplies I had left over from teaching. The only things I had to buy were glitter, jewels, and wooden dowels.

Here is the "photo booth" where the kids got to get their pictures taken with their wands and tiaras.

"Happy Birthday to You!"

Dirt cups for the birthday cake. Yummy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What we've been up to lately:

The girls and I are sure enjoying this stay-at-home-mom thing. I count my blessings everyday that Justin works so hard to provide for us so that I can stay at home. Just thinking about what it's like to be stressed about starting work right now and taking care of the kids, husband, and home is overwhelming. Justin is really going to like (hopefully he does already) his wife in this new, stress-free condition!

My parents let me borrow their bread machine. I like homemade bread, but learned that it's too time consuming:) But this machine is a little gem. Just put in the ingredients and leave it alone. Can't get better than that! I'll have to start learning how to make some other recipes than plain white bread, though plain white bread is pretty delicious.

Next, I'm working on preparing crafts for Jordan's birthday. She wants a princess party, so the crafts are going to be princess wands (all different shapes for the kids to choose from--frogs for the boys that may come) and princess crowns (or prince crowns). I'm working on making some party decorations in the form of a castle. We'll see how that goes:) I really wanted to do a dirt cake with gummy worms. So, to tie that into princess theme, I'm going to make dirt cups/pots with a candy flower sticking out. The gummy worms actually go with the theme of the week...

...WORMS! We went to Gander Mountain on Monday and bought a box of night crawlers for our theme this week. We went outside and dug in the dirt and found leaves for our worm habitat, then counted the worms as we transferred them into their new home. We counted 23. After a couple of days, they have already started digging their tunnels. Along with the science part (pretty sure our lessons will be heavy on science), the letter W is being reinforced as we practice writing W and thinking of other words that start with W. We plan to do a craft of worm painting later this week.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

9th Anniversary

Nine years ago today, I married this guy...
...who thought it would be a great idea to propose to me in front of everyone at Christian Challenge (excuse the quality; it's a picture of a picture). Me, an introvert by nature, always nervous in front of a crowd, marrying an extrovert that is often the life of the party. The saying opposites attract can describe our relationship perfectly. We were madly attracted to each other back then (and still are 9 years later;-). We often don't agree on things or understand the other person, but we always have been committed to our marriage and trusting God in the times where commitment was all we had. I am so thankful for the journey that we have been on together. God has done amazing things in our hearts over these years, and I am especially looking forward to what He will do in the years to come. Justin, you are a GOOD husband and I'm so thankful God gave me you. Happy Anniversary!
A recent family picture of us and our little ones on vacation in Chicago.