Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Celebrating The Fall

Today the kids and I had a fall party. We had originally planned on it being an activity for the first day of fall, but that didn't work out, so we celebrated it today instead. The weather was much more fallish today than the actual first day of fall, so it worked out nicely.

Mary Alice made placecards for each person who came. I had originally planned to just do fall activities for the kids, but Mary Alice thought it would be more fun to invite Gran, Ben and Hannah. Mary Alice decorated the table with me. She helped me set the table and chose where each person would sit. Gran came bearing gifts, a fall book for each of the kids and a Martha Stewart Living magazine for me. I am a huge lover of quality children's literature, so the books were a fun surprise. Gran sat down on the couch and read the books, one of them twice, to the kids, as soon as she arrived. I am sure that we'll be reading those books alot over the next few weeks.

The kids decorated fall cookies, ate pumpkin bread and other fall treats. We went outside and bobbed for apples. This was fun! I bought the kids goggles on clearance at Target a few days ago. Nobody in my family enjoys getting water in their eyes. We think goggles are a must for apple bobbers!! The kids looked funny wearing their goggles. Mary Alice enjoyed the sport of apple bobbing so much that she would have liked to have bobbed for everyone's apple! Major, though apprehensive at first, eventually participated in the fun. Tonight before bed, he asked me if we could go outside and "do the apple thing again" tomorrow. We'll see about that. I now know that bobbing for apples is not one of my talents. My sister, Hannah, however, could give anyone a run for their money.

We had some fun fall crafts planned, but the kids were more interested in showing Gran, Ben and Hannah nearly every archived video from Vision Forum's Everyday News. The kids are really into watching these short video clips ever since we saw the one of Daniel on Girl Talk a few days ago. So, the party was fun, but may have to be continued at a later date. We stuffed ourselves silly on sweets. If we do this again next year, I may concentrate more on fixing fall foods, not fall sweets. Mary Alice's little tummy hurt because she was full of sweets, but when I mentioned that I'd forgotten to put the caramel corn on the table, she changed her tune pretty quickly.

So at a later time, we will finish up the caramel corn and fall crafties. All in all I'd say we had a great time celebrating what I believe to be the most enjoyable season that God created, the fall. Get outside with your kids tomorrow and breathe in some of that cool autumn air! You can even go bobbing for apples for some extra fun. Just be sure to wear your goggles!

Major On the Mend

Here are some pictures of Major in his splint. (Notice the "Stwong" pose.)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Class of 1996

We just returned from a whirlwind trip to Denver City for Josh's ten year high school reunion. We stayed with Josh's grandparents (Homie and Glenda). It was so much fun to get to meet and hang out with Josh's old buddies. It gave me a better understanding of just why Josh enjoyed high school so much. We have discussed our high school days before. I couldn't understand just why his time in high school was so great. Now I do.

The kids in the area where he grew up are so much different than the kids that I grew up around. The kids that went to school with Josh seem more well adjusted, more genuine, and FAR more mature than many of the teenagers that I grew up with. It was interesting to get to hear lots of the guys and girls share their old memories with each other. It helped me to know more about what Josh was like in his younger years. I even found out a few things that surprised me! (For some reason, Josh left out a few stories about himself that his friends were happy to fill me in on! :) Josh was glad to go back. We have plans to see some of those friends again soon. It had been ten years since Josh saw many of them!

It was neat to see how people had changed (or stayed the same) in ten years. It was interesting to see the paths that different people had chosen. There were some people who looked exactly the same, others who had changed so dramatically that they were hardly recognizable. There were people who seemed genuinely happy and a few that seemed extremely miserable. There were people there who probably hadn't thought about high school in years! There were others who just couldn't let go of the past. It was fun to see the mix of different people and different lives that all had a common beginning.

I wonder how things will have changed in the next ten years? If the Lord wills, in ten years Mary Alice will be 15. Major will be 12. Josh and I will have been married for 18 years. That is mind boggling to me! I have changed so much in the last ten years. Will the next ten years hold that much more change for me, for us? In some ways high school seems like just yesterday. In other ways it seems like SO long ago. I hope that God blesses us with ten more years to grow and change for the better. So here's to the class of 1996! May the next ten years be even better than the last!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Not so "STWONG" today

Mary Alice and Major were playing in the livingroom yesterday. I was in the next room and heard them laughing and playing together. I didn't pay attention, however, to WHAT they were playing.

All of a sudden I heard Major scream out in pain and start crying... LOUDLY! I ran to check on what was going on and found Major sprawled out on his belly at the foot of the stairs. He was obviously in pain. His body was actually shaking and he kept crying (very unlike him). Mary Alice told me what had happened. Apparently they were playing a game to see who could jump down the most stairs. She said, "Major jumped down four and I jumped down five." I asked him where it hurt and checked his arm and shoulder. I was a little unnerved. I took him over to the rocking chair, where we stayed for the next hour or so.

It was after 5:00, so I called Josh to find out what he wanted me to do. He came home and checked Major out for me. Mary Alice was in tears and kept saying things to Josh like, "Dad, it was all my fault. The game was my idea. Major wouldn't be hurt if it wasn't for me. I'm so sorry." It was so sad to see her so grieved at the idea of her brother being hurt. She stood there and tried to make him laugh for a long time. He didn't laugh at any of the usual things, but just sat in my lap and sucked on his thumb. Pitiful.

We went ahead and went to Josh's softball game and decided to keep an eye Major's shoulder. At the game, Major just sat in my lap and sucked his thumb, pausing occasionally to yell out "Go Daddy!" So pitiful.

On the way home from the game, my ingenious husband decided to try to take an x-ray of Major's shoulder. He took Major down to his office after the game. Josh lined up a bunch of bitewings (the small things that are used to x-ray mouths) and had Major lay down on top of them. My husband's silly plan worked. He brought home the x-ray and said that Major's collarbone was broken.

We called my brother (a med student) who gave us lots of extra information on the matter. Anyway, I took Major to his doctor this morning. She laughed at the bitewing x-ray, but praised Josh for his creativity. She took another x-ray and said that his collarbone was indeed broken. Now my little man is wearing a splint. It is a sad sight to see him in pain. The doctors say that he will have to wear the splint for about four weeks. No more "STWONG" poses for him for awhile. Major's dad, who has always wished Major was a lefty, will get his wish for the next few weeks.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Autumn Idea Websites...

Real quick, for Julie and Anne.... Here are some of the websites I was talking about with the ideas for fun fall traditions. We are especially excited about making this seasonal tree and also like these ideas. I know this woman's website has several more interesting looking ideas for fall projects. She seems like one creative cat.

I also liked the ideas the fall festival last year on Girl Talk.

We also have the book Mrs. Sharp's Traditions on hold at the library. It seems like just the kindof book I would enjoy. We're having our fall party here to celebrate the first day of autumn. I'll fill you in on that later!

Friday, September 15, 2006

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things...about Autumn

With fall just around the corner, we have been busy with some fun and exciting things around here. There are many things that I love about the fall. Here are just some of the things I love about the fall, in no particular order:

1) The weather is so nice. It is cooler, which makes playing outside with the kids so much fun!

2) I can open the windows while I cook dinner and let the cool breeze blow through without the a/c turning on. (This also means that I can supervise the kids playing outside while I am inside! YEAH!)

3) Pumpkin candles or other food type candles (which are my favorite anyway)

4) Decorating with pumpkins, gourds, and fall leaves (I just got back from buying my annual supply of pumpkins and gourds from Wal Mart. They will inevitably rot around mid-October, but they sure look good for now!)

5) The gym is no longer packed with schoolchildren. School has begun!! The beginning of school also clears out local parks, grocery stores, and other places we frequent.

6) Football season (I don't particularly enjoy watching football, but you can't beat the atmosphere at a high school game!)

7) The State Fair of Texas (and the food that goes with that)

8) Boo at the Zoo and Fright Fest at Six Flags (Sorry to my friends who disagree with me, but Halloween will always be my favorite holiday!)

9) Making my kids' Halloween costumes

10) I usually have my first official case of cold feet at church on Sunday during the fall season. Luckily for me, I have a nice warm heater named Josh to warm them up for me after church. Putting my cold feet on Josh on a Sunday afternoon is quite a delight, something I look forward to each and every autumn. :)

11) Pumpkin bread

12) Caramel apples

13) seasonal drinks from Starbucks

14) the changing of the leaves

15) the color brown (as in shoes and pants)

16) more layered clothing

17) bobbing for apples

18) Thanksgiving

19) the name.. (The word "autumn" has such a nice ring to it. So much nicer sounding than spring, summer, or winter...)

20) the start of BSF, the end of summer break (This year we are studying Romans. I can't wait!)

I'm excited to start some fun fall traditions here. One of my friends had a fall festival last year to help celebrate the arrival of fall. We are going to try to do that this year, only on a much smaller scale. There is always a reason to have a party!

I have found several websites with neat fall ideas that we're going to try this year. Does anyone have any fun things that you do with your family in the fall? Please share!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

What A Find!!!

I just wanted to share a very neat website that I found today. I recognized some of the things on it from something I saw once at my friend, Julie's house. She has a chore chart for her daughter with little pictures on it, to help her daughter remember what her chores were for that day. I remember seeing the chore chart a few years ago and wondering where she got it.

This incredible resource features Bible based parenting products. The website is a little bit cheesy in a few places, but overall has some very good products and some wonderful teaching ideas! Now, if you are not accustomed to the lingo on this website, don't freak out. I'll admit, some of the things seem a little weird. I've found that lots of websites like this have some weird things as well as some very practical helps.

The useful website features lots of tools for character training, discipline, scripture memorization, and even some FREE downloadable items. I liked so many of the items for sale on this website. If you know me well, you know about my HUGE passion for challenging our children to learn and understand Biblical concepts. I just found some great tools that I think will be helpful to me as a wife, as a parent, and as a Christian.

Just a side note,(but related).... I think there is a lot that we can learn from the Mormons. I don't agree with their theological views, but I think that the way they teach their kids is great!! If we are really serious about teaching our kids the Bible, they why isn't it more of a priority in our churches? I knew several really great Mormon families growing up. These kids make Bible study (or Book of Mormon study) such a priority...DAILY. Many of them get up super early to go study before school each day. These people are SERIOUS about being in the Word. If we're serious about Bible study, why is it something that is given less than an hour of attention each week? Many times, this precious hour is wasted on silly games and snacks, with little time left for real learning. Obviously, teaching our children the Bible is not the church's responsibility, but the responsibility of parents. Can you see that I am enthusiastic about this subject??? I think I'll get off of my soapbox now. : I might get back on it again if the mood should strike me though.

I had a conversation with one of my good friends the other day. She was talking about how we need to ask God to help us with our own spiritual flaws, before trying to teach our kiddoes. We discussed how dealing with our own character flaws is such a hard thing to do. This is something that God has been convicting me of lately. You know, I can't very likely expect Mary Alice to embrace a Biblical teaching that I don't practice. If I insist upon certain behaviors from her, I need to be asking God to help me in my own struggles with those same behaviors. Otherwise, ultimately, I am a hypocrite, something that she will certainly see. I don't want that.

It just got me so fired up to come across this helpful resource. When I was trying to relocate this cool website, I came across another interesting website. Not as neat as the first one, but definitely worth a click. This one shows a memory verse for (almost) every letter of the alphabet. What a neat concept! When I was in Kindergarten, we learned our letters using puffy blow up dolls with names like Mr. M and Miss A. I still remember the characters and some of the phonics songs. Imagine teaching your little ones their letters using Scripture! Those little sponges can soak up (and retain) so much information at such an early age! Even if this wasn't used for teaching letters, it certainly would be useful for other things. For example, My sister Hannah and I played a game today where we tried to think of a Scripture for each letter of the alphabet. Yes, we're silly that way. This was especially hard for some of the letters. Just try to think of a Scripture that begins with an X. We couldn't. If you think of one, I will send you a special prize.

Anyway, this website is geared toward ultra conservative types. So if you're not used to the lingo of the homeschool underground, this website might seem a bit overboard to you. If, however, you can overlook the KJV only mentality and the strange music, you just might find something useful!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Thoughts for the Day

1) Major has a blanket that his Nima made him that he carries around with him everywhere these days. He really likes me to hold him and rock him. This morning, he looked up at me with his big blue eyes while sucking his thumb and holding his blankie. He said, "Mom, could you hold me like an angel?" Lots of mornings, I will pick him up and tell him that he is my little angel. I wrap him in his blankie and rock him. Today I got to hold him "like an angel". That is what I am doing as I type this blog. There is nothing better than a sweet little one in your arms.

2) The kids have been playing together a LOT. They seem to get along so well these days. Mary Alice is like a little mother to the Maje. She likes to hug him, read to him, have him lay in her lap. She treats him like one of her baby dolls. If he's anything like my little brother was, in a year or so he won't want to play her games anymore. For now, though, it sure is sweet.

3) We had a little bit of trouble with Mary Alice yesterday. It really broke my heart. I overheard her making fun of another little girl. This is something that we haven't encountered before, but take very seriously. I overheard her whispering and laughing with one of her friends about another girl. Mary Alice was telling her friend that the other little girl had "baby shoes" and saying "Look at her feet. They look like a baby's feet!" When she looked up and her eyes met mine, she got a sad look on her face and said, "I'm sorry, Mom." I'm not sure if she was more sorry about me hearing her or about saying the mean thing about the other little girl.

Josh and I were not sure about what we should do. Josh asked her how she would feel if she found out that another girl was talking about her, saying that she had a nose like a pig or that she ran like a baby. Mary Alice said that she would be sad. "The little girl didn't hear me talking about her." was her defense. Josh told her that she needed to treat others like she wanted to be treated. We talked a little bit about the seven things that God hates, one of them being a "proud looking eye" and explained why her attitude needed to be different. I think she understood and was sorry. It is hard to be a parent sometimes. I wish that there was something that we could do to help convict her of this other than a little chat. We are praying about it. If anyone has any other ideas on how we should handle this, I'd love to hear them.

4)Random note: Major has been playing with his sister in his room for the last few minutes. He just ran in, gave me a big kiss, and said, "Lu You, Mommy! We're taking a "bath" in sissies' closet." I might need to investigate this one.

5)Girltalk had a particularly inspiring blog yesterday (September 07) that dealt with suffering. You need to go check it out. They quoted a book by Spurgeon called "Beside the Still Waters". I think I'll be getting that book. You can read it by going to GirlTalk.

6) Lastly, we had a wonderful weekend this Labor Day weekend with Grumpy and Nonnie, Chad and Miranda. We always love going to Frisco to see them. We had a great time!

7) Gotta go check on that "bath" in the closet. You never know what those crazy kids are up to!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Playing In the Rain

On Monday, we had a wonderful day at home. It was raining outside, which made the day special. We enjoyed the sounds of the rain with our breakfast. After breakfast, the kids put on their play clothes and headed outside to enjoy the rain. They jumped in puddles, sloshed through mud, and got soaking wet. It was so nice to hear the rain coming down again!

The kids played outside like this for nearly an hour. It wasn't raining that hard, but I think our long playtime in the rain might have something to do with the sniffles that Major has today. Thankfully, we didn't have anything to do around the house on Monday, because it had already been done before Mary Alice's cooking party. We were free to have a fun day at home together.

While we were outside playing, the mailman delivered a package to Mary Alice, which was a birthday present from her Aunt Tessa. The present was a set of Cinderella potholders and a Cinderella dishtowel. This was such fun timing, to be outside playing in the rain and to have a birthday present delivered to you.

After the kids had played outside for a while, we went inside to do some cooking with her new potholders. Mary Alice did some baking in her new Easy Bake Oven. Funny thing. The cake that came out of her Easy Bake Oven didn't look anything like the scrumptious cake on the advertisement. It looked more like a burned wafer covered with brown goo. It tasted worse than it looked. Not to worry,though. The doll whose birthday cake it was didn't seem to notice that her cake was extra crispy. Seriously. Though an Easy Bake Oven is quite fun for Mary Alice, I think I would rather teach her to cook using a real oven. She has fun because she is making her own "creations" so I guess we'll keep using it. Please don't ask me to eat anything from it, though. Yikes!! We finished up the morning with a birthday party for Mary Alice's dolls and a tea party. Poor Major.