August 28, 2015

Garden Theme

This last week our Homeschool theme was "Gardens"...I can't remember now why I jumped ahead and did my garden theme early-instead of staying with my creation story didn't matter too much to Ransom, who knows the story of Adam and Eve well and seemed to not be bothered by jumping ahead to God's creation of a garden. But, I think if I were to do it again, I'd obviously wait and do this theme in the right order ( hand to forehead).

Anyway, I introduced the theme by telling Ransom the creation story yet again, focusing on God creating a Garden for Adam and Eve to live in. We then talked about "creating" and what that meant. We talked about things we have created ( I gave the example of baking cookies and painting a picture). I guided Ransom in telling me all the ingredients that would go into making cookies and painting a picture ( i.e. the paints, the paper, the brushes, water etc.)- we then talked about how different God's creations are! That God made things from SCRATCH!

Activity 1: Create a Garden plan
We created our own gardens ( a BIG thank you to my mom for this idea, plus giving us all the supplies! Hooray for an easy activity!) . 

This was just a simple art project but it was fun and also re-enforced God's creativity in creation. 

Things you'll need: 
Stickers of flowers, fruit, veggies and trees. 
Green paper

Activity 2: Parts of the flower lesson. 
My friend Tina told me about taping contact paper to the window, sticky side out a long time ago, but I didn't find any contact paper the one time I went to the store for it...BUT I used Press N' Seal from Glaad which I looooved already from my kitchen use ( I hate cling wrap) and it worked GREAT! I taped large strips of Press N' Seal to the window and then I had cut out felt into the different parts of the flower...the stem, the flower, and the roots, I used actual beans for the seed which I was nervous about sticking to the Press N' Seal, but it ended up working! HOORAY!

Things you'll need: 
Green felt-cut into strips for the stem and cut into various leaf shapes ( I'm a TERRIBLE cutter ( I blame being left handed so my flowers were definitely not perfect, but my kids didn't care!) 
Flower colored felt- I had red and orange so that's what i went with. I cute various "blooms" for our flowers. 
Brown, green string-Cut into small pieces for the roots
Dried Beans
Press N' Seal or contact paper

-Ransom quickly learned about each part of the flower and was able to put them all together properly and know what they did. 
-Tabitha enjoyed making...."things" with the different pieces. 

-it was important to just let them both go wild with the ingredients at the end, making their own creations. the OCD part of me wanted to stick with making "proper flowers" the whole time. 

Activity 3: 
Nature walk
I wish I had done the "treasure hunt" version of this where I had pictures/words of things I wanted Ransom to specifically look for-but I didn't have my act together so I just told him as we went what I wanted him to find. 

Things you'll need: 
Make a treasure hunt before hand to make it more fun! OOPS!
Don't forget to save any "seeds" that you collect for the next activity! 

Activity 4: Sorting and Graphing Seeds
We talked about all the different shapes and sizes of seeds we had found on our nature walk, plus I showed him some others I had collected ( beans, apple seeds, pumpkin seeds, some seed pods and "gum balls" from a sweet gum tree...) 

Ransom then had to sort them and count each kind. 
He then glued one of each at the bottom of his graph paper. Then had to color the corresponding squares/number of seeds. 

( Tabitha played with cups of dried beans during this activity)  But I also had this "letter sheet" for her to do!) 


Thanks to a morning off with Daddy we got to enjoy San Antonio's Japanese Gardens as a family! Best part, it was free!! YAY free! 

August 27, 2015

Pinterest and Dollartree had a baby ( Planets)

Not long ago my mom told me that her favorite part of teaching was the planning which I totally didn't buy because I've seen her in the classroom and she's a great mix of entertainment/sarcasm/love....but as I've jumped into the deep end of homeschool this year I've realize that I also find great calm and love in all things planning. That said, I've decided I better keep a log for myself of my weekly plans so that if I do this again for Tabitha and/or Justice I will remember what worked well and what didn't....

So, if you don't mind, I'm going to do it here-besides, sharing is caring and if this means someone else can benefit from our weekly themes and/or my weekly themes remind you of something awesome( read:easy) that I can do with my kids then: Hazzah! 

Week One: Planets

Discuss: Genesis One and what "the heavens" means... 
The Planets in our solar system
The Sun 


1. Moon Search
A giant bin of "moon sand" with hidden marbles (aka planets) and erasers shaped like little earths and stars. Kids had to find the hidden themed items in the sand. 
              -Ransom had to sort them and count each category. 
              - Tabitha had to make a huge mess with the sand. 
Ingredients needed: 
 2 bins ( my kids are terrible at sharing) 
 moon sand ( recipes abound on the internet but we were thankfully given moon sand as a gift. score) 
marbles, erasers found at Dollartree. 

2. Make the Constellations. 
Printed out these awesome printable constellations  and discussed what a constellation was and some of the stories behind them ( if they seemed suitable for a 5 year old...). Then Ransom made punched holes in the constellation stars. After we were done we went into a dark room and using a flash light shone the constellations on the wall! Pretty fun! 
                -Ransom worked on some classic eye/hand coordination with this one. He loved it. 
                -Tabitha was busy using a Bingo marker   to mark dots on this awesome printable of "S is for Spaceship"   Also practicing eye-hand coordination and working on our S recognition. 

Ingredients needed: 
 -Printer to print out both the constellations and the S worksheet. 
-Styrofoam square ( purchased at Dollartree) to place the constellation cards on so that the paper wouldn't rip when he punched holes. 
-Large crochet needle for punching ( I had this already)
-Bingo marker ( Dollartree has these too! ) 

3. Our Planets. 
On the floor Ransom and I used cutouts of the different planets which I had numbered and he put them in order away from the sun. 
               -Ransom and I discussed the names of the planets over and over again. How big and how small they were and what being "far from the sun" meant for each planet. ( COLD and HOT) 
              -Tabitha ran around moving the planets and causing trouble. 

Ingredients needed: 
Print off of the planets, piece of yellow paper cut in a circle for the sun

4. "E" is for Earth 
With a blow up Earth beach ball we took turns picking a letter then when we caught the ball we had to say a word that started with that letter. Good for practicing sounding out and letter sounds
                 -Ransom loved this game and was definitely annoyed/confused at all the similar sounding letters that he came across usually J/G and K/C words...but we would talk about each one. 
                 - Tabitha loved throwing the ball and chasing it and saying random words loudly. 

Ingredients needed: 
Blow up Earth beach ball ( found at Dollartree) 

5. Creating planets
Discussing yet again how creative and wonderful God is for creating the Heavens. Give kids little paper plates to create their own planets with art supplies

Little paper plates ( go with the cheap ones the less glossy the easier for your art supplies!) 
paints ( we did paint because we rarely do paint and so its super special to my kids) 

6. Count the Stars
I gave Ransom about 8 of these black cards and a sheet of star stickers in the corner of each black card ( a piece of black construction paper cut in half hamburger style)  was a number written in chalk. He had to stick the number of stars corresponding to the number on the black "sky".   The next day I had erased the number and he had to count how many stars he had put in each sky and write the number at the bottom. 
                 -Ransom liked this game but didn't like doing the "big" numbers ( anything two digit) because it seemed like SO many. I had to encourage him that he could do it. 
                -Tabitha played stickers and paper while Ransom did this activity 

Black construction paper
white chalk 
star stickers. 

Books my kids loved: 

Other important resources: 

And special thanks to this link: Spell Out Loud  for having what I needed to get started on many of these activities. 

August 24, 2015

31 weeks of miracles.

 I hope Justice will know right off the bat what a huge huge blessing not being discussed in detail on this blog really is....His brother got it because he was our first and so everything was inevitably blown out of proportion-both good and bad. And then there were his sisters-who arguably deserved some serious discussion because that pregnancy was a moment by moment fight from the beginning.
But now for number 3....
 For my prayer card this year I had written "a healthy pregnancy/healthy baby". At the time we weren't pregnant and I was still understandably nervous about going through the whole thing again...but here we are at the end of August and at least that first prayer has been gloriously answered.

So much so that I honestly rarely know how far along I am. People ask and I have to stop and think. 28 weeks came and went amongst the craziness of Ransom's birthday and the end of summer....The third trimester started up quietly without any fanfare, amidst a lovely visit from Tabitha Trott.

In contrast 28 weeks with Tabitha was marked with a stay in Labor and Delivery and an all night vigil of me pleading with God to let her stay in just a little bit longer....with Ransom I'm sure I was counting the days to head into that final trimester-with all its baby showers and nursery prep....

This pregnancy has been unremarkable and yet truly how remarkable that is! I never want to undervalue or loose sight of what a truly miraculous thing it is to have a pregnancy go so smoothly. It would be easy to take it for granted and yet life has taught us that each of these "unremarkable" days is actually a great and glorious gift.

Tomorrow marks Priscilla's Day. A day when our sweet baby girl left us much earlier than expected. I miss what her life would have been. But this week I chose to celebrate what her short life taught me: 
I will forever place such value on this miracle that is Life- every day we have a chance to make a difference, every day that we are given a chance to make the right choices-To ultimately make The Choice* -it is a mysterious and wonderful gift that I don't want to take for granted. 

I will never underestimate the true gift of a healthy and seemingly "unremarkable" pregnancy, I know that it is not something to just assume but when it does happen, oh what a blessing! 
I can hardly wait to meet this little dude who flips and kicks so much that my belly visibly bounces half the night and yes I can also hardly wait till this awful awful heartburn is a thing of the past ( there, one little complaint to help him feel loved like with his brother. hehehe) but until then may I not forget to marvel at the seemingly uneventful pregnancy we have been given!!

* Priscilla is named after a pretty amazing woman ( girl power!) in the Bible ( Acts 18) who along with her husband were willing to share the Truth about Jesus' Love- such a great love that He chose to die, even though He did not deserve it,  so that when he rose from the grave ( Death could not hold Him!) you and I could have Freedom from a life of disappointment, destruction and ultimately death. 
When we named our daughter I wanted her to be filled with such love and boldness for her Lord that she would share His good news with anyone who would listen! My prayer is now for all of us- if you do not yet know this great Love than search Him out!! 
And if you DO, please honor Priscilla's short life by sharing how Jesus has changed your life with someone today. 

August 20, 2015

a meditation on calendars

I can't mention enough how much I love a good "plan" my love language definitely involves a to-do list and an extensive in-depth calendar. So, when I started to feel slightly wobbly on my fall plans ( aka. Ransom not heading off to kindergarden this year*) I bought myself a calendar and weekly planner. (I got Amy Knapp's Christian Family Organizer  and I'm loving it!)  And I started filling that puppy out like it was my job. 

I am already feeling much calmer-and since we are now into week two of Brett being back at work and the kids and I settling into a "home school" routine. I thought it would be fun to discuss my "plans" here because even though I love a good plan like it was chocolate and a bouquet of flowers, I have also been around long enough to know that my plans will inevitably change ( most definitely come end of October ( with the entrance of Justice) -and maybe come next week just because, who's to say?!)

First off, I realized, after a pretty rough Week One, that my kids play best- happily and peacefully-in the morning hours, it is the afternoon hours-witching hours and all-that we start to hit some serious rough patches. I also discovered that the sooner we head out the door and do something outside the house in the morning, the better. That's just how we are and so I've tried to adapt our plans accordingly. Basically I put all our "school" stuff at the end of the day, having planned crafts and school time for Ransom in the afternoon, when he's already begging to have someone  play with him and when he and Tabitha are at each others throats, just seems to work.

Here's the breakdown of our week:
Mondays: Review the week with our wall calendar( telling Ransom what to expect for the whole week works REALLY well! He is clearly my son)
Introducing the weeks theme with something fun the kids can do alone** so I can spend time writing grocery lists/meal plans etc.
Errands for the week
lunch/nap/rest time
school ( usually only consists of about 30 minutes of sitting at the table and we can get everything done)

Tuesday: Morning craft ( I don't have anything specific to do outside the house on Tuesdays so I'm filling it in with a craft if we have nothing to "do")
lunch/naps/rest time
( soccer practice will probably be added in here soon!)
Dinner etc. etc.

Play N' Learn at the Library ( hooray for this awesome program! Not only is it themed with crafts and stories and songs but it is aimed straight at both my kids ages!)
lunch/naps/rest time
Early Dinner
Home church

Slow morning because we're always up late for church. A little schooling, mostly hitting up the crafts and themed stuff that they've enjoyed the most so far that week.
Lunch/naps/rest time
Some play time
Piano lessons for Ransom
Soccer practice
Somehow have dinner in there....

Field trip ( hitting up the children's museum/zoo/ park whatever...)
Lunch/naps/rest time
School/wrap up the weeks theme
Movie because Daddy works till 9pm on Fridays and Mommy is D-O-N-E.

So there it is! It is Thursday and we've almost made it through another week. Whew! Sure, it is admittedly not as easy as driving my kids to prek for a few hours in the morning and I know I will be filled with great amounts of envy come next week when all of San Antonio heads back to school and I'll see solo mom's casually cruising Target, but I think it is manageable for now. I also give myself the freedom to hate it, and to have rough days and also to totally take three months off after having another baby and just push the "survival mode button"...I know that with all things there are seasons for being super mom and there are seasons to survive. Our kids surprisingly live through them all ;-)

* If you're interested in why we are holding Ransom back from Kindergarden even though he's admittedly "academically" ready- I totally recommend reading the following books: Outliers:The Story of Success  which was enough to convince me that while Ransom is actually a few days over the Kindergarden birthday cut off it is WELL worth allowing him a year to mature emotionally and physically before throwing him into Kindergarten with kids who have been 5 for months and Boys Adrift: The 5 factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated boys and Underachieving Young Men which was seriously one of the most intense books I've read in ages and has made me pray so hard for this coming generation so much more-not just for my own kids, but also for their friends! However, it also helped solidify in my mind that-at least as much as I can-I want to give Ransom the freedom to learn out in nature and running around soaking in life before I stick him in a classroom for any length of time.

** This week our theme was planets and the solar system. Thanks to the glory that is pinterest I came up with 4 or 5 activities and crafts to throw in at different times during the week, it took a little work and pre-planning but it was GREAT not having to think about it when I needed to throw something my kids way during some free time.

August 10, 2015

Change again

This year we have bought a new car, got pregnant and bought a new house so it seemed only right and natural to add "changing careers" into the mix of 2015. And so last thursday, with very little fanfare, we left full-time military service after 10 years. And today Brett started his "new" job. 

First off, can I just say that I've been thinking about this blog post for months-basically ever since I knew that THIS was the year for this particular leap-and I am still at a loss on how to sum up the last ten years. Well, its only been 8 for me but essentially I have been an Army wife exactly the same amount of time that I have been a wife so it is very strange to all of a sudden not have that particular label associated with who I am. To somehow explain all that this Military Life has meant for our lives in one blog post seems absolutely impossible....

These last 8 years my eyes have been opened and gotten to experience firsthand the sacrifices both great and small that those in the military face on a daily basis. For that I am grateful, I will never lose my respect for these men and women and what they put up with and fight for with this country in mind. 

These last 8 years have been stretching and challenging. From day one Brett's "job" was like the other woman that I could not compete against. She sent him away for long weekends and full weeks and months at a time, and yes even a full year at a time- often she would do this with our warning or apology and she was continually changing her mind and changing her plans  often without explanation. She would call him up during date nights and call him away early in the morning on weekends. As an extreme planner and lover of schedules combined with my love language of Quality Time these particular "quirks" of the job were the constant struggle that I hope helped me to be a little bit more balanced and adaptable. 

These last 8 years have taught me about friendship. Not only have I been blessed with some of the greatest, classiest ladies as my friends starting at our first duty station all the way up until the last one, but I think that moving every few years has also taught me to remain open and aware that there might be someone lonely or new in the back corner of every party or church service or preschool function I attend. Just because I may have finally found a friend or two, does not mean that everyone is feeling that stability and that sense of belonging. Military life has taught me compassion and the great joys of always having the opportunity to spread the circle a little wider to add in another friend. 

These last 8 years have taught me about Jesus.  There is no relationship, no job, no friend, no new location, no new situation that can truly fill the giant Jesus sized hole that we have in our hearts-each and every one of us. So often,  I was tempted during these last 8 years to try and fill that hole with one or more of these things and yet I have learned that Jesus is truly the only one to calm my fears, ease my pain, help me through the darkness or direct me towards peace and a true sense of purpose. There is nothing like a life filled with changes and challenges to remind me of this over and over again! 

Brett is remaining in the Army Reserves so thankfully I do not have to give up my commissary privileges just yet but you  may have noticed above that I put Brett's new job in quotes, that is because when he made the decision to leave the Army, he was immediately  offered a civilian, Department of the Army job doing exactly what he has been doing for the past two years. Sure, we lost the BAH ( ouch) and the free insurance ( ouchy ouch) but there is nothing quite as priceless as husband  who has a job but who also isn't going to deploy again. THAT. IS. PRICELESS. We are so grateful for this relatively easy transition into civilian life. Sure, there are a lot of things we aren't use to-my hubs has been living in the Army bubble for his whole adult life! But I am seeing at every turn how the Lord is providing in this new season... 

And doesn't he look handsome in his civilian work clothes?!?!