Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Growing With Jesus

I recently bought a new devotional for S. We've been through Our Together-Time Bible by Gwen Ellis a couple times now so it was time for something new.
I found at Family Christian Store Growing With Jesus, 100 Daily Devotionals, written and illustrated by Andy Holmes.
It is so cool. Each page has a Bible verse, a devotion and then some cool, quirky, amazing fact.
Here is the product description:
God loves to see us grow! But more than anything, He wants us to grow closer to Jesus. Just as we mature physically, we can also grow on the inside. How? By spending time each day with Jesus.
Growing with Jesus: 100 Daily Devotionals contains 100 quick readings to help the reader grow stronger in his or her faith. Each devotion provides a Scripture verse, a fun thought to grow on, and a fascinating 'factoid' about our amazing, ever-growing body and the world around us! From the uniqueness of our fingerprints to a shark that goes through 24,000 teeth to how our body grows at night and then shrinks back during the day.
Growing with Jesus is the one book that will help kids grow as much on the inside as they're growing on the outside!
I love how this has real life application stories. And the facts are pretty cool too! I think S, and us, will all grow with Jesus.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


With the warmer weather comes yard work!

Last weekend, C started tackling the last corner bed in the back yard. Last year, we cleared out two of three landscaped beds in the back yard, mostly because we wanted to open the back up more but also because that's a lot of landscaping to maintain and C and I do not have green thumbs. (I like to think one day I could do a vegetable or herb garden but maybe that is more work right now. However, maybe if I started something, I am sure S would love to help out!)

Anyway, we started on the third bed last year and, by fall, all that was left was landscaping rocks, a bird house, two shrubs and a couple big boulders.

Last weekend, C and a neighbor managed to get the big boulder out of the ground. And then, in the drizzle last Sunday, C and I managed to roll the biggest boulder across the backyard to the flower bed by the pond.

It was a beast to move but we got it done! Now the big rock. a couple middle size rocks and the birdhouse have been relocated to the flower bed by the pond.
C also removed the landscaping rocks from the back bed, which he then piled this past Friday at the end of the driveway with a Free sign. The rocks were scooped up in less than two hours!

Now two bushes remain in the back bed. One is a lilac bush, which will probably get relocated to the pond flower bed. The second bush is unknown so we are waiting for it to flower so we can take a picture and ask around.

In other yard work plans, we will remove a mungo pine bush in the front, in the bed next to the front walk way. Last year it was infested with saw fly larvae and, from what our new lawn care guy said, it looks like the larvae managed to get some eggs planted in the needles.

His recommendation was to get rid of the bush, which I agree. It is a pretty sad looking thing to begin with plus it blocks our view of the street from the front porch. Maybe while the ground is still wet, we can get that pine bush up. Also I'd like to get rid of the strange pine type bush/ground cover in the bed under the front windows.

I am curious to see what flowers return this year! The previous owner did plant some nice things. I'll have to think about the vegetable/herb garden idea. My concern is rabbits. BUT, if I got that garden hutch that we saw at Sam's Club.....that would make a cool garden! (Now THAT would be a Mother's Day gift, C!)

April Showers

It's hard to believe that a couple days ago it was sunny and warm. The girls were in T-shirts and sandals. We pulled out the bike trailer and used it as a jogging stroller for our walks outside.

And now, it's cold, damp, cloudy and icky. Spring in Wisconsin!

Friday, as I said, was gorgeous! Our neighborhood was hopping because of the multi-family garage sales.

The girls and I enjoyed a picnic in the backyard at lunchtime. After nap time, they played outside: riding bikes and the like before we took a walk around the neighborhood. Then they played in back at the sand and water table, which was a huge hit last summer. Despite the very windy conditions, C also grilled up some brats. Yummy!
Later that night, C and I sat out on the porch to enjoy the evening. We were surprised to see a hawk or owl on our mailbox! It flew away before we could take a closer look. Earlier that day, there was an eagle flying in our neighborhood.

For the weekend, we have been indoors. We have had a lot of rain, which I know is good for the flowers.

I am hopeful that it will dry and warm up soon! S starts Patriot Preschool this week so I'd like to take M to the parks instead of Target while sister is in school. :) Oh well. If the weather remains cool this week, I suppose we could visit Target and get over to Kohl's for some summer shopping.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Homeschooling update

We finish our Letter of the Week curriculum this week.
It's been a lot of fun this year and I am excited to continue homeschooling through the a much more relaxed pace though.
I think we will continue working in the workbooks. We also have the "preschool box of fun" and library file folder games that will keep us busy.
I think we will also address skills like tying shoes, writing with upper and lower case letters, math and intro to Spanish.
I might tackle reading but I need to read up on it myself as far as how to do it. In the meantime, we will very likely be involved in a summer reading program.
I think we will also focus more on arts and crafts. S loves to draw and color but I know she would enjoy more with clay and play dough and painting.
And my ultimate goal, above all else, is to enroll both girls in swimming lessons. I love to swim so you'd think they would have already taken lessons. But, sadly, no. I hope to get them in a class this spring/early summer yet.

Family Update

Hello folks!
Sorry I have been slack on the blogs. It's been busy here with a lot of this and that. Plus, the weather has been nice-ish, this past weekend especially. And, yet again, C and I are battling a cold. S had it last week. M, thankfully, has not been affected.
But I thought I'd better get something out finally so here is a family update. My freelance work has slowed down considerably, given the state of the economy. One of the publications I write for has been put on hold indefinitely. Chances are the company will review the magazine in the fall.
But this is actually a blessing, given that I can focus on homeschooling and the promise of spring means getting outside more.
Last month I stepped up to take over as leader of the mom's group at our church. I am pretty excited, and nervous, about it but am looking forward to working with a great group of women and helping mothers be the mother's God made them to be. We have our last meeting for the semester next week. Then I will have a planning meeting in May so that we can get some fresh ideas for the fall semester.
C is still busy with his project. Working with a company out West means some late-ish nights so that he can communicate and work on things as the folks out West hit them.
The spring weather also means bike season! C pulled out the bikes this past weekend and lubed them up. He is ready to hit the trails! He plans to ride his bike to work again during the warm months.
S, as I mentioned earlier, had a cold late last week. But it was short-lived, thankfully! We were able to enjoy the outdoors Saturday, which was a truly beautiful day. She helped Daddy get some of the outdoor stuff out. We also played outside and visited our favorite park and the adjoining Trestle Trail Bridge. She rode her bike the whole length and back of the trail.
Also, she braved the park's super slide....a long metal slide that goes down the side of a huge hill. Last year, she and Daddy rode down it together. But this year, she decided she wanted to do it on her own. I, of course, was totally nervous but the two times she did it, she was like a pro. The third time, I think, shook her up a little because she landed on her bottom. The slide, by that time from the number of uses and so forth, caused the slide to get a little slippier.
S has also become very independent in dressing herself. She comes up with some creative outfits. Some are pretty decent but then there are some that are rather interesting. Saturday, for instance, she wore a light purple velour-type leotard with a turtleneck underneath and wild striped tights. She has also been helpful with getting M's outfits.
M recently learned how to open the door knobs in the house. So we pulled out the child safety knob covers for the master bathroom, the master bedroom and the basement door. She has also been huge on "I do it," so she tries to do everything, from buckling herself into the booster seat and her car seat to getting a stool to reach the bathroom sink and turn on the water. It is amazing to see her accomplishments but also can be frustrating. :)
Anyway, we are excited about the warmer weather, even though it continues to tease us. Monday morning we woke up to snow but by Friday it will be 80!! Go figure!

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's a beautiful day!

I cannot believe how gorgeous it has been these past couple days! Spring is here! I am so relieved!
It was good to get out and enjoy the weather. Yesterday we hit our neighborhood park. The girls had a blast!
Tomorrow promises to be a fabulous day as well! But we may be indoors because S came down with a cold. We'll see. It would be nice to soak up as many rays as we can before Sunday, when we get a reminder of winter....cold and rain....ICK!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

C and I just returned from a four-day trip to CT. We were there to support his sister J, who had surgery to remove her thymus and a tumor that was in her chest. Everything went well and we continue to pray for her recovery. She may require some chemotherapy but we will pray for whatever is ahead for her.
The last time C and I were away from the girls was when we went to our college reunion/homecoming in October. It was for a weekend and in the state so this trip was a little more involved, mostly in that it was longer. My folks were super in stepping up to care for the girls, even sticking to things like ballet class and other everyday things.
Of course, I had the handy dandy "Tactical Manual" to guide them along so I knew the girls were in good hands. :)
Our trip was pretty detailed, as far as travel went. We left super early for Chicago's O'Hare Airport because we didn't want to get stuck in morning rush hour traffic. While our 3 a.m. departure for the airport was super early, we did avoid heavy traffic and made it to the airport by 6 a.m.
Then we had to jump on a bus from the farthest parking lot. After that, we took a train to the airport terminal. It was a neat short trip and we got to see my all-time favorite sky-line: Chicago!!!
Check-in and security were a breeze. It helped that C has traveled a few times recently, so he was familiar with all the rules. I, on the other hand, have not flown in an airplane since 2004. So I was met with a whole new travel world! Any liquids and the like have to be in a plastic zip top bag! No liquids, even drinks, through security! The charge just to check luggage! And, the total shock: having to take off my shoes to get through security. C had told me about that but it was weird to see all these shoeless people walking around security.
We had a ton of time to kill since our flight was not until 11 something. So we got to check out the airport features. WOW! It takes a lot of people to run the airport. I was amazed by everything I saw. I used to travel from O'Hare a lot but, like I said, it's been a long time, especially traveling through O'Hare.
We saw Internet kiosks, a place for children to play, people standing by empty telephone banks to talk on their cell phone, lots of Starbucks stands and laptop areas.
Then we took a walk down through the United tunnel, which, I can say, has not changed one bit. If you've never been down there, it is something to see! There are moving walkways, mirrored ceilings, weird lighted walls, and, of course, the cool neon lights that "move" across the ceiling, almost in time to the tinkling, futuristic music of the United theme, which is some classical piece I cannot name. You'd know it once you hear it. But I was amazed the tunnel had not changed. It was cool.
Eventually we made it to our gate and then onto our plane. Well, right before take-off we ended up in a holding area right by the runway and were told there was a mechanical problem and they were going to try to fix it there. Then we were told we were going back to the gate for technicians to fix the problem. In the end, what would have been our air time was spent on the ground at the gate while the techs tried to address the problem, which we never learned what it was. We were allowed to get off the plane but we decided to stay put, given that we could take off any minute.
Well, not so. We wound up getting transferred to another plane, which successfully took off! Whew!!!!
We made it to Hartford, where Mom and Dad and other sister-in-law D were waiting.
J's surgery was the next day. We spent the day at the hospital waiting room, which was conducted by a charming lady who once lived in England. She was a gem and entertaining. We were on Yale University campus, or in the area of it, so it would have been neat to check the area out (for instance, there were a ton of food carts on a street right by the hospital, pretty cool!) but another time, another visit...
I called home at least a couple times each day, mostly to give updates on J's progress but also to hear how the girls were doing. At night we'd call to say good-night, which usually included saying good-night to every farm animal and a lot of silliness. "Bye, monkey. Bye, piggie. Bye, farm," was mostly led by M.
It was weird to be back on East Coast time because it felt right. CT was a beautiful area with lots of trees, rock formations, streams, wonderful old homes and more. J's house was not too far from the ocean. In fact, it was located by an inlet so the large grassy area behind her home would fill with water when the tide came in.
The trip home was uneventful. One cool aspect was that we saw at the Hartford airport a display for the former Hartford Whalers, an NHL team who later became the Carolina Hurricanes!!! We even saw a couple older pictures of Ron Francis. It was a cool display.
We made it to O'Hare and, after a stop at Milwaukee Mitchell to pick up D, we got home right before bedtimes for the girls.
Oh! It was so good to hold them and hug them and kiss them and smell them and hear them!
It was a tiring trip but I am glad we went. I hope one day to take the girls out there, not just to CT but perhaps to visit NC again and then make our way along the East Coast.