Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas from us!

 We are continuing to celebrate this season making memories, talking about the true meaning of Christmas, and doing fun things.  Last night...our annual trip to Yonkers, GA to see the house that's decorated with lots of Christmas lights.  You can get out, walk around, visit Santa, and even sign a guest book.  It's short, but so worth it!  Then we drove around town and looked at more Christmas lights.  It's become one of my favorite things to do during the holidays. 
I think this is my kids' first picture with Santa Claus.  Crazy, huh?!  We have nothing against Santa, but I just want to make sure that Sophie knows the true meaning of Christmas.  It is so hard to make our teaching of Jesus being the focus of Christmas more important that the constant message of Christmas being about Santa. The kids see this on tv, the computer, and talking to friends and family.  Last night I kind of laughed as we were walking up to the lights and Sophie saw lit up Santa Clauses and she said, loudly, "I know Santa isn't real, Mom." I was like, "Sophie, that's our family secret.  Some other kids don't know the secret yet and we wouldn't want to spoil anything for them." A few minutes later she was explaining to Isaac that Santa had a toy machine and they could go tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas and they could get it.  Too funny.  There's a lot of mixed messages that kids get over this holiday.  The one I want to be most important is that the reason we celebrate is because of Jesus.  Just Him.  He is worthy of our celebrating this time of year for Him.  Our gifts are given to honor Him and His birth.  All the other stuff is fun and we enjoy that, too.  Here's a song that I really enjoy that reminds us of what this holiday is about.  Merry Christmas to all of you!  God bless!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

*Christmas fun*

 I absolutely love this time of year.  The weather is nice, we can do fun things together, and celebrate Jesus' birth.  Last week we invited one of Sophie's friends over to play.  Notice the short sleeves...that's south GA for you : ).
 We made some tree ornaments out of popsicle sticks, buttons, beads, and ribbon.  It was so much fun.  I love making ornments with the kids...and their friends.
 I saw something on Pinterest that I wanted to try.  We have "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and I thought making some "Grinch punch" would be fun after reading the story.  So that's what we did! 
Grinch punch: lime sherbert and Sprite
 Here's our story and there are the punch eaters.  My favorite line: "Mom, I wuv Grinch punch!" from my little guy : ).
 On Sunday Isaac made his church singing debut.  He did such a great job! 
My sweet Sophie did a great job, too! 
Next week...I hope we'll be able to make some homemade salt dough ornaments!  I have big plans to have some handprints of my babies on the tree : ). 
Merry Christmas and God bless!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Shakespeare meets Lancaster County in "Courting Cate"

*I received this book for free from Bethany House publishers to give an unbiased review"
I had a spark of interest when I read that this book was kind of a play on Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew".  I've seen the movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and really enjoyed it.  So I kind of had an idea of what the story line of this book might be...with an Amish twist.  What I didn't expect was the way that I could relate to the story and how real and understandable Cate's shrewishness was.

Cate is the oldest daughter of the family and has been responsible for raising her baby sister since she was a little girl herself.  Her mother passed away after giving birth and at 5 years old, Cate shouldered a lot of the burden of mothering.  Flash forward several years later.  Cate has given up her desire of having a husband and family, which is very traditional in the Amish community, and instead hopes to run her own business and provide for herself.  Her sister, now 17, is beautiful and the perfect little wife to be.  She can cook, garden, and charm...all the things that Cate feels she is lacking.  Then Cate meets Pete.  He's traveling through, but instantly Cate knows he's different.  She enjoys spending time with him until she is caught in a situation that brings up all of her old feelings from the past...humiliation and betrayal.  When her father states that Cate's younger sister can't court until Cate does, the story takes a lot of interesting turns. 

The story of Cate and Pete definitely intertwined with "The Taming of the Shrew"...but I thought it offered even more.  Cate's feelings of betrayal...stemming from being openly humiliated by some boys in her so relatable.  It was easy to understand why she struggled with trust.  I honestly felt sorry for her in some ways as she had to bear the burden of raising her younger sister at such a young age, and feeling like a failure when her sister didn't act the way she should.  Cate's sister was also very manipulative, and it was hard at times to see Cate cater to her.  Love and forgiveness were also a theme through the story.  As Cate drew nearer to the Lord, her callous attitude towards those who had wronged her smoothed out.  The Lord helped change her and soothe those deep wounds.  There is one very interesting part in the story (I would spoil it if I told you what happened) that causes Cate to be humbled, but in the process she learns and grows in the areas that she is weakest in.  I know that's kind of vague, but if you read the story you'll know what I'm talking about ; ).  I found myself feeling angry towards those who had hurt Cate but it was a good lesson for me about forgiveness through these fictional characters.  Forgiveness is something that is difficult sometimes to give, but when we do we can experience a wealth of love and freedom.  I would definitely recommend "Courting Cate".

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Our Jesse Tree

In true Stacey style, I decided yesterday that I wanted to do something for advent.  I definitely felt the need for our family to take Christmas back to its roots...Christ.  It's not that we haven't been talking about Jesus' birth every year at Christmas time, but I've noticed that the kids are very influenced by everything around, movies, other kids, etc.  So much so that I've asked Sophie several times what the meaning of Christmas was and she said, "Santa Claus."  Please, friends, don't go up in arms because I'm not anti-Santa.  In fact, I have a book I bought at the Christian bookstore that about the real Saint Nicolas and how he ministered to families way back when.  I grew up with Santa.  I watch movies that include Santa.  But I do personally think that Christmas has become too Santa focused.  What is Christmas all about?  Christ.  I am constantly reminding Sophie that we give gifts at Christmas because we're celebrating the birth of Jesus, just like we would celebrate their birthday.  But Jesus came to the earth, was the son of God and he died for us...and we celebrate that with gifts...not because of how good or bad they were or if they wrote a list to Santa.  This year I put the word out on facebook that I was looking for some advent ideas...semi-crafty, Christ-centered, cheap.  I got several great ideas, but I decided to go with this one:
 The Jesse tree.  I had heard of this before, but had no idea what it was.  Honestly, I thought someone named Jesse (probably a kid) came up with the idea to put some special ornaments on a tree.  Now I know...the Jesse tree is a way to take the focus of Christmas back to the lineage of Jesus...from the beginning at creation on up in time.  Here's our little Jesse tree.  Since I waited til the last minute and didn't want to buy stuff....I went and got a tomato cage from our shed, tied the prongs together at the top, wrapped it with a small piece of garland and extra Christmas lights, and put a bow on top.  I also added one of our old tree and white gingham the bottom. 
 Ann Voskamp, known for her book "One Thousand Gifts", has offered her blog readers/subscribers a free copy of her advent reading plan and free printables for the Jesse tree ornaments...color and black and white.  I looked at some other advent reading plans, but this one just seemed special to me.  I really like Ann's style.  I've never read "One Thousand Gifts"...I've heard of it and heard good things about it...but just never read it.  But I peeked into her blog today and was really drawn to it.  She has a lot of neat freebies on there.  I subscribed to her blog and later in the day got an email that included the link to the advent packet.  Above are all the Jesse tree ornaments...printed, glued to construction paper, hole punched, and strung.  A few still needed to dry, but I've got most of them done.
Here's a close-up of a few of them.  Aren't the pictures beautiful?!  I love some of the things she encourages you to do as a family after each day.  I really hope that we can do all of it even though we'll be pretty busy over the next couple of weeks.  I think this will not only draw us closer to each other, but closer to our Savior...who is worthy to be praised this holiday season!
God bless you...and Merry Christmas!  : )

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart

Last Thursday, as we all know, was Thanksgiving.  This year, it's taken on a different meaning for me.  I've pondered a lot about life this year.  Faced with health challenges and surgeries...among other things...Heaven has looked a little sweeter.  But so have the things on this earth that really matter.
 My family.  They have given me so much support, love, encouragement, prayers...and things I'm sure I don't even realize.  I am grateful for a loving, Godly family.
 My kiddos.  I just look at these pictures of them and my heart swells...along with my eyes : ).  I love them so much.  Even when the days are tough...when there's poopy diapers, poopy accidents, discipline issues, tears, spit up, sickness...all of it fades out of my memory for a moment as I imagine a second of life without them.  If this is just a glimpse of what my Heavenly Father feels for me...I am overwhelmed.
 My littlest's first Thanksgiving.  I'm a little sad thinking about this being my last baby's first Thanksgiving.  I'm not going to go there!
 My best friend.  In eight years we've experienced deaths of loved ones, three babies with three different baby stories, ministry, sickness (oh, the sickness!), cancer, and surgeries.  Lots of laughter, some great trips, meeting new people and fellowshipping with old friends, birthday parties, special moments, and tears.  It's what two becoming one is all about.  My, how grateful I am that I waited for God's choice for me.

Making turkey cookies with the kiddos was a great way to round out the day.  I love doing fun little things like that.  My niece and nephew got to decorate with us! 
I said this a lot lately, but I'll say it again...God has blessed me!  Praise Him!  God bless you this holiday season!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tea time

 Today was a fun, busy day.  We had our little friend, Bethany, who used to do homeschool with us, over for a playdate.  It has been a while since she's been over, so I wanted to really try to make it special. I thought we could make cupcakes...but instead of putting them in the cupcake papers we put them in ice cream cones : ).  We also colored the batter. 
 After they were cooled, we had a little decorating crew.  Sophie and Bethany would put on the icing...chocolate almond (yum!)...and Isaac would add the sprinkles.  It brought back some good memories to see their chairs all lined up by the kitchen counter.  I didn't realize how much I missed the time we had those two years of homeschooling!
 I've been thinking lately that I really need to use my nice china more.  I was one of those brides that said, "If I get china, I'm going to use it!"..not.  I have to confess that I have not used my china very much at all.  But today...we used the china!  I let the girls have the fancy cups and plates for their tea party.  Sidenote...Bethany's birthday was over the summer and I asked her mom what she wanted.  We had a tea party earlier in the year at my house and Bethany told her mom that she didn't want us to give her a present.  All she wanted was for me to have a tea party for her at my house as her gift.  Presh!  I have had to put it off for a while because of the surgeries, baby, etc., so I was so glad that I was able to finally give her a tea party!  We also sang happy birthday to her and her smile was so big!
I brought out my special tea cup, too.  I bought this many years ago when I was in England.  It's so pretty and never gets I've decided that I'm going to start using my pretty tea cups.  Life is too short! : )

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Swept away with "Against the Tide"

*I received this book for free from Bethany House publishers to provide and unbiased review*
"Against the Tide" by Elizabeth Camden

The first book I read by Elizabeth Camden was "The Lady of Bolton Hill"...which I loved!  One of the mysterious background characters in this novel is now one of the principle characters in "Against the Tide".  And oh yeah...I was excited about that!

First of all, isn't the cover gorgeous?!  It definitely piqued my interest as most good book covers do.  From the beginning I was drawn to the character of Lydia Pallas, a native of Greece and a gifted speaker of several languages.  Her past is a sad one, left alone at a young age and forced to grow up in an orphanage.  But once she is on her own, she is able to use her language skills as a translator for the Navy.  That is how she crosses paths with Alexander Banebridge...a mysterious man with unworldly angelic features...and she becomes curious as to who exactly "Bane" is.  When Bane hires her to do some translation work for him, their interactions frustrate, yet intrigue, Lydia.  You see, Lydia likes order and stability and Bane is the exact opposite.  Lydia is challenged in ways she never thought she could and Bane is right in the middle of it all. 

One thing I love about Elizabeth Camden's books that I've read so far is that they give you more than you expect.  My expectation with this book was that it would be an interesting love story with maybe a little excitement thrown in, but I was glad that my expectations weren't met...they were exceeded!  This book is filled with romantic tension, suspense, excitement, and growth of characters that is not just realistic, but relatable.  I haven't faced the things that Lydia or Bane have, but I felt swept away by their story and I found it very believable.  I was so excited to get more insight into Bane.  His story was just a sidenote in The Lady of Bolton Hill, so some of the mystery of his character was revealed.  If you're looking for a novel that will keep you turning pages with excitement, this is one I would definitely recommend.  It also has a wonderful message of redemption, victory over addiction, and courage. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Music City, historic sites, and lovely meetings

I must say that as I sit writing this post, I am smiling.  The hubby and I just got back from a great weekend together.  It was a belated anniversary trip, as our anniversary fell 6 days after my last surgery and I wasn't quite up for doing much at that time.  But this weekend was PERFECT!  The weather was amazing.  The timing was good.  We were able to leave all three kids with my parents. : )  Our destination of choice: Nashville, Tennessee...otherwise known as Music City.
 Pretty nice, huh?  We actually stayed with Joe's brother while we were there and he was a very generous host.  It was really fun to visit with him and his kiddos as we don't get to see them very often.  He also took his lunch break to show us all around Nashville on about a 2 hour driving tour.  It was great.  He's a part of a hiking group that takes walks around Nashville each week, so he drove us around his walking route.  He also drove us around Music Row, a long street filled with music recording studios and places where musicians dreams have come true...including Elvis.  It was pretty neat.
 After our tour, the hubby and I had a lunch date at the Loveless Cafe.  We had honestly never heard of it, but we learned that this wasn't just any old restaurant.  It is known for its homemade biscuits...and they are delish!
 Here we are...a plate of fresh biscuits just delivered!  They serve them with homemade peach, strawberry, and blackberry jams. good.  I love this picture of us, too.  : )
 Here is the special lady we were able to meet for lunch...Tamera Alexander!  For those of you who don't know her, Tammy is the author of several historical Christian fiction novels, some of which have won awards for excellence.  I discovered her books in our church library several years ago and devoured them!  Over the years as she wrote more books, I would find a way to read them.  I haven't read one that hasn't been wonderful!  Not only do I read Tammy's books, but I also like to follow her blog and her facebook page.  Through those two things we've made connections through life experiences, recipes, faith, and more.  It's so neat to connect on a personal level with an author I admire.  Equally neat was the fact that when I asked her to meet up for lunch, she agreed!  She also suggested The Loveless...and it was just one more aspect of our weekend that was just right!  The food, the atmosphere, and the company were fabulous!
 On Saturday we were able to go to Opry Mills Mall (right by the famous Opryland Hotel) and meet up with my dear Berry College friend, Stacy, and her family!  Her husband is stationed on an Army base not far away in Kentucky, so they drove over and met us for lunch.  What a treat!  Stacy and I haven't seen each other in many years.  I was able to meet her husband and 4 beautiful children.  It felt like we picked up right where we left off...isn't it great when that happens!?
 And yes, that's Tamera and I again...but this time it's at the Belle Meade Plantation!  One of the reasons I picked this weekend to go to Nashville was because I knew Tammy was having a book signing for her new book, To Whisper Her Name, on that Saturday.  I actually won a copy of the book on Tammy's blog not too long ago and really wanted to get it signed!  Plus I wanted to meet the author ; ).  So Joe and I headed over to Belle Meade after lunch, got my book signed, said hello once again, and then took a tour of the house.  It was a lot of fun and the weather was gorgeous.  After the tour we had a great time walking around the grounds for a few minutes.
 There's Joe on the front steps as we're waiting for the tour to begin.
Here I am in front of this beautiful tree that had bright yellow leaves.  This stone fence lined the property and continued well past the current grounds of the house.  I loved the stone fence so I just had to get a picture with it : ).

So that, in a nutshell, was our whirwind trip to Nashville.  Part of the fun was just getting to spend time in the car talking and hanging out with my hubby.  It isn't often we just get time to sit and talk to each other without being interrupted or honestly too exhausted!  God was so good to provide this trip.  So many things worked together to make it all happen and I must take a moment to thank my parents, who not only let us borrow one of their vehicles because our was having trouble on our way to their house, but also got our vehicle fixed while we were gone.  Not to mention they took care of our three kiddos all weekend!  My uncle took the van for us and he and my mom cleaned it out for us!  How awesome is that?!  I mean, our van was rough...we still had sand in it from our beach trip!  And another big thank you to Tamera Alexander for taking time out of her busy weekend to meet up with us.  It was truly a joy and a blessing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Unending Devotion...a book review

I just finished reading Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund last night and wanted to share my review.  *I received this book free from Bethany House publishers to do an unbiased book review.*  Here is the book'll give you a short summary of the basic plot:

I love the authentic pictures that are used in this trailer, because it would've been hard for me to envision the lumber camps as I have never been to one.  Use that photo as a guide to take you into the dark world of the late 19th century lumber industry...a world filled with poor working conditions, men who are rough around the edges, and women forced into prostitution to fill the "needs" of the workers.  Many turned a blind eye to the evil around them, rationalizing it by saying that the country needed lumber to build with, so the men had to be kept happy so they could do the harsh labor.  Lily Young, however, doesn't turn a blind eye.  She has a mission to rescue her sister from one of the houses of ill repute...and other desperate women she meets along the way.  She is fearless and consistently puts herself in harm's way, standing up to those who are filled with greed and evil.  When she meets Connell McCormick she sees a man who is honorable, yet doesn't want to take a stand against what is wrong.  Their journey is filled with suspense, love, and a challenge to do what's right no matter the cost.

When I read a Jody Hedlund book, I know I'm going to take a step into a moment in history.  This moment is usually known for its challenges, injustices, and the perseverance of its characters.  Although the characters are fictional, they are often based on real people.  That's one thing that makes her novels so interesting and enjoyable.  They feel very authentic.  This book is no exception.  There were a few moments that Lily's fearlessness seemed unimaginable to me..yet I know from history that there are those who will risk their lives for others without fear.  I, of course, also liked the growing romance between Lily and Connell.  It wasn't without challenges in itself and I felt that it was realistic.  Even though Lily was very brave and selfless, she had to grow and learn as well.  Hedlund does a great job describing the evils of the lumber camps and the darkness taking place there, yet doesn't go so deep in the description that I felt overwhelmed by it.  The theme of overcoming evil and adversity that I've seen in each of her novels is inspiring.  As one who is concerned with the overwhelming problem of child exploitation that we have in this world, I thought Hedlund's book related to that and was an encouragement to me to think of how one person really can make a difference in the lives of those who are forced into a life of horror.  I would definitely recommend this book! 

I intereviewed Jody not too long ago on my blog.  Here is the link.  She includes a great recipe! 
Happy reading!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The freedom a fence brings...and crafts

 I look at the picture above and I feel like smiling.  Our new fence.  I can't describe how joyful the hubby and I feel about this.  It's beautiful.  It might seem strange to some of you that we would be so excited about something that is associated with being closed in and not having as much freedom.  For us...this fence brings some much needed freedom!  Let me explain.  From the time our son was able to walk, he's basically been running.  He is fearless, adventurous, and quite often disobedient.  The first two traits I love about him....the last one has been quite a challenge.  I have longed to be able to take him outside and let him run and play his little heart out...because I've known for quite a while that this boy loves the outdoors.  It kind of made me sad that I felt like I had to keep him in.  I simply couldn't handle chasing him around, especially when I became pregnant with our third child.  This year has been difficult for me physically with three surgeries, an infant, nursing, and then trying to keep up with my little "active" child.  The hubby and I have discussed a fence and how we could possibly put one in.  It was put on the "let's do this one day" list.  There was no way we could handle the cost this year.  Once again, God stepped in and heard our heart's desire.  He laid it on the hearts of several families in our church to come together and provide us with this fence.  I don't even know all of those who ministered to us in this way, but I know those who came out and measured, cleared out the area, and spent several hours digging holes and putting it in...and I am SO grateful!  The first day it was finished, we took the kids outside and my little "big boy" (he doesn't like to be called my little boy anymore) played almost all day...and loved it.  He digged in the dirt, tried to climb a tree, played on the swing set...I could tell he was so happy!  And the hubby was able to go out and work in the yard without having to worry about the boy running into the road, crossing over to the neighbor's yards, or just being where we couldn't see him.  This fence has brought freedom...and joy!  Thank you, God, and thank you church family!  We are so blessed! 
 On another note...kind of randomly, I decided to add in some crafts I just finished.  I embroidered these baby onesies for a friend who is expecting.  I used to love doing embroidery but haven't had a chance to do much in quite a while.  It was fun to get my thread out and put these together.
What prompted my onesie making was a little project I saw on Pinterest.  It's a felt heart bookmark.  I thought it was so cute and looked easy.  I had some felt so I decided to print out the template and do a little crafting.  It was so fun to put this together and embroider a yellow flower and instead of doing the stitching that was suggested, I decided to improvise and do this feather stitch on the edges.  It was fun!  It actually stays in the book, too.  I shook the book after putting it in just to see if it was worth all the work.  It was! : )  Might be some little Christmas gifts! ; )

Later this week the hubby and I are going on a little trip to Nashville.  I am thrilled to be able to meet one of my favorite Christian fiction authors while we're there...Tamera Alexander!  She's doing a book signing there for her new novel, To Whisper Her Name.  Pictures to come!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Out on the town

It's October...and I love it!  Tonight was the annual Fall Festival in our downtown area.  Another fun thing about living in a small town.  People decorate the lamp posts with pumpkins, hay, scarecrows and more and make everything so festive.  There are booths set up and people giving out candy.  It's a lot of fun for the kids and parents and the weather couldn't have been nicer. 
It also means that it's time for me to come up with some costumes.  It would be easy to just go to the store and buy some...but I guess I'm too cheap for that : ).  I also like to come up with stuff on my own if I'm able to.
 Here's my a bag of jelly beans : ).  I got the idea off of Pinterest.  I had a big Hancock fabrics bag, so I cut out some leg holes, covered up the Hancock's logo with some typing paper and wrote "Jelly Belly" on the front.  Then I filled it with little blown up balloons : ).  Easy and it only cost me about $1 to do it!  Everyone thought she was so cute, too...including me!
 My little Darth Vadar ran into some storm troopers while we were out : ).  The big one just happens to be Mr. Mike, one of Isaac's Sunday School teachers and the other one is his son.  Pretty cool!
 And here's my little crew.  The little man in the back is a dino...passed down from big brother.  Glad it fit so good!
Here we are...the entire Daniel crew!  Daddy couldn't resist wearing his GA Bulldog hat and shirt...very festive.  And appropriate.  I think it helped because the Dawgs did great tonight!  What a game! 
Happy Holidays!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sew fun!

Ok...I couldn't resist the play on words : ).  I've been thinking and thinking about potential sewing projects for weeks now.  Mentally I settled on making a big floor pillow for Sophie. Let me preface this whole project idea by saying I'm a thinker.  Not that my thoughts are especially deep thoughts...but my mind is always going.  It could be thinking about the order of how I should do things to make the day go smoothly, thinking about how to cook a meal so that everything comes out around the same time, or, lately, what kind of project my limited sewing skills could handle.  I think I get a little overly-optimistic sometimes...making plans to do more than I can really do on my own.  Oh...I'm also determined.  When I get something in my head...I pretty much can't settle until I've at least attempted it.  To support my need to be crafty, I read an article the other day that said something about how doing a craft project helps stimulate your brain in a good way...and gives you some nice, peaceful feelings (I think it said that last part...hmmm).  A craft project was needed in my life.

Pinterest was consulted...and I saw many, many things I wanted to do.  The pillow stuck out in my mind, so I researched.  I compared different projects and tutorials, settling on a combination of a few things and trying to make something pretty and easy.  Off to Hobby Lobby we went and I picked out some coordinating fabrics.  I love fabric.  If I buy the fabric, I feel like I'm in the first stage of commitment.  Plus it's fun looking at all those bright colors and matching them up.  I's bad.  After buying the stuff I got back to my Mom's house (where I'm recuperating from surgery) and got some paper and drew out how big I wanted the pillow to be, using the sophisticated method of finding one of those neck things you can put your keys on and putting a pencil at the other end and using it as a compass : ).  I made sure I had enough fabric to do the backing, then by folding my circle in half, then fourths, then eighths, I determined how big I wanted one piece of my fabric "pie" to be.  I added on some to the sides for seam allowance, and cut out one triangle piece to use as my pattern.  Then I cut all my pieces out for the front of my pillow.  The cutting and measuring took quite a while, so I didn't start sewing until the next day.  Mom had to help me get started, but once we got going the front part went fast...and it wasn't too hard!  Then I made a button with a button kit mom had and sewed it on the top.  Putting the back on was a little tricky because I wanted to put piping in.  The piping was pre-made, but the tab on it was kind of small, so it took some careful sewing.  We had to go over it a couple of times to get it right.  But...the finished product was great!
 pillow pieces cut out
Finished! : )
Today...the day after the pillow project was done, I was determined to make some cute little ties for Seth and Isaac I had seen on Pinterest.  I followed the links to this tutorial that includes a pattern you can print out.  This was a fun and not too difficult project!  I used some of the leftover fabric from the pillow project.
 front of the ties
The back...I love the little bit of green peeking through!
Aren't they cute!?  I was proud that I t did these all by myself! : )  Getting the boys to wear them will be another story! : )
Now to figure out what project to do next! : )

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Eight Years and Going Strong~

Looking at this picture, I can't believe my dear husband and I have had eight years together.  It was a beautiful day on October 16, 2004...very similar to the day we're having now.  Blue skies, a nice temperature...I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day!  Just feeling the breeze blow through the open windows where I'm sitting right now brings back memories of that day.  But as I look around the room I see the evidence of eight years of life that have happened since that day in October...a little baby laying down playing with a burp cloth, my Sophie girl walking in the room asking why it's so cool in the house, and Isaac hanging out with his big sis.  And here I am...recuperating at my parent's house from my third surgery this year. 
When you walk down the aisle on your wedding day, all bright eyed, full of excitement for the future you're entering into, you don't know the road the Lord is going to lay out for you.  For me, it's been a road filled with adventure, excitement, joys, sorrows, hardships, and challenges that I never imagined.  Would I change anything?  Not at all.  I have said and done things that I wish I hadn't, but through those experiences I learned more about myself and have been given opportunities to repent and receive grace, which I needed to do to grow.  Another reason I wouldn't change anything is that through all of our hardships, God has brought my husband and I closer together.  Our faith and trust in the Lord has grown as well.  God has provided for us through the times of plenty and of want.  He's taught us to go out on faith together and we've seen His blessings.  We've been able to go on mission trips together, travel to fun places, and spend days recuperting in hospital rooms.  There have been "blah" days, sad days, and days we could hardly contain our joy.  I know the Lord brought Joe and I together to sanctify us, draw us closer to Himself, and experience a relationship that He brought together and has blessed.  I am so thankful! 
The Lord has been good to us.  This has been a tough year for us in a lot of ways, but I also think I've seen the Lord's goodness and provision this year more than any other.  May the next years continue to grow us closer to Him, to each other, and be blessed!
I love you, dear husband!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Learning about Japan

 Last week was a little different for us because we had a field trip planned for Thursday.  I knew that the kids would be learning about Japan at the field trip, so I thought we would do activities about Japan at home.  We started with Allen Say's book "Grandfather's Journey".  This book has beautiful illustrations and tells the story of a man who travels from Japan to America and sees the land, meets people, but becomes homesick and travels back.  The story continues through a couple of generations in this man's family.  The first day we read the story we just did a color sheet I found here of traditional Japanese dress.  The second day we put star stickers on the places that grandfather traveled in the story.
 The third day I found an idea on doing a poster on landforms here.  The lesson suggests using different types of materials to do the poster, like cardboard, foil, etc.  I wanted to do that, but I just ran out of time (plus I was a little tired) to gather the materials.  Instead I just drew out the landforms with a permanent marker as best I could and let the kids get their watercolors out and paint.  It turned out great!  Now it's hanging in our school area and the kids can look at it in the future when we talk about landforms.
 Thursday we had our field trip at the Georgia Children's Museum in Macon.  It was so neat!  They had so many fun things for the kids to do on their own...playing with plastic fruits and vegetables, lots of dress up things, bubbles, blocks, and more.  Our guide gave us an informative powerpoint presentation on Japan.  He also taught the kids the "rock, paper, scissors" game in Japanese, and read them a story that takes place in Japan.
 Some of the kids playing the game.
 Then another guide taught the kids about the Japanese tea ceremony.  The kids got to taste some green tea.  It was neat.
The last part of the field trip was craft time.  The kids were able to draw and paint cherry blossom trees and Japanese caligraphy.  Overall, I would say this was a great field trip! 
Some other neat things you could do with Japan and "Grandfather's Journey" that I didn't get a chance to do are:
*A study on family trees and make your own family tree
*Talk about birds (the grandfather likes songbirds) and do some bird watching (here is a link to a free printable bird pack...with games, handwriting exercises, math activities, etc...all birds and very cute!)
*Cook some Japanese sweets (here is a link to some recipes)
*Make some origami (a link to some easy origami ideas)

We really enjoyed our week!  Next week I won't be planning a theme because I will be having surgery on Wednesday.  Please keep me in your prayers...that the surgery will go smoothly, that I won't have any complications, and that the months to come will go well.  I have to say, even in the midst of hardship God has been SO GOOD to us!  I am so grateful for His special care and provision in so many ways.  Our family...and church family...have ministered to us and helped us throughout this year.  We have been blessed.
May God bless you in the coming days!