Saturday, October 26, 2013


We took a trip to a pumpkin patch this week. A favorite and somewhat new tradition. We took the boys for the first time last year and had such a great time, we repeated it this year. The patch is a farm north of us and it's a great open, country space. Reminiscent of my younger years, where I grew up. I lived in the country so I well remember the open space and big skies. Oliver loved the chance to run freely (we live in a suburban area) and Aleksandr loved the pumpkins and gourds. He took a bite out of one actually. Woops.
But I picked up two pie pumpkins while we were there. I've been roasting and pureeing my own pumpkins since Oliver was a baby. I have been on a food journey for several years and the more I learn the more excited I become about it. Food is so healing, and eating for those purposes just makes sense. The old saying, "you are what you eat", is so true in my own life. I started this food journey because of my personal health issues. I feel like the Lord has led me along this road and He continues to bless as we make better decisions for our food and health choices in our family. I can start a list of how good He has been to us, but I know that it would be LONG. I may post about it in the future, because I love to tell of what God has done. Entering into a cleaner way of eating, cutting out processed foods and focusing on nutrient dense meals (and snacks) is not easy. It's time consuming, it's expensive, and it can completely become an idol in itself. All of these keep me in prayer whenever I learn something new that I'd love to include in our food budget, as well as keeping everything balanced and in perspective. What is the most important thing? My relationship with God first.
If I am struggling with finding a balance with our money and time for foods, putting God, my husband and my family after food, well, then it's time to refocus and eat a bag of doritos. Ha! Maybe not the doritos, but definitely take a breather and get my focus back where it should be.
Really, I have seen a HUGE difference in my health (physical and mental) due to what I have taken out of our diet and what we've added in. Cooking from scratch, eliminating processed foods (as much as you can), reading labels, switching out refined sugars for natural sweeteners, and using real fats is a great way to start if you are wanting to go down the path of eating real foods.
SOOO, with that said I love sharing something that is easy and good for you!
It's the time of year when they are in season and the "pie" pumpkins are easily available just about anywhere.
I like to use pureed pumpkin in anything I can. It's considered a superfood and is packed full of vitamins. (I love that seasonal foods deliver such a punch with nutrients for our bodies. I think God did that on purpose! :)
Roasting a pumpkin. I know it sounds like something your grandma would do, especially when you can buy a can of it on the shelf. But I take satisfaction in the freshness of getting it straight out of the ground!
To roast your own pumpkin:

  1. Chop the pumpkin into two pieces (I chopped the stem off first), and scoop out seeds and that stringy stuff (I set my pile of seeds in a bowl to roast later).
  2. Wrap in foil and place on a cookie sheet. 
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour. 
  4. Scoop out pumpkin from shell.
  5. Puree ( I added a little bit of water to make it blend easier) and store. You can freeze it for later!

My one pumpkin made about 4 cups puree. What to do with it?
I am searching out pumpkin recipes. I have never tried it savory, so maybe I'll be brave and do that (soup?), but I usually add it where I can easily like in oatmeal, as muffins, breads and of course my favorite holiday treat–pumpkin whoopie pies. They aren't a nutritious option, but we look forward to them each year! 
When all this was done, I was thinking of how long this pumpkin would last when I looked on the counter and realized I had another pumpkin waiting. Yah for forgetfulness!
Meanwhile, I'm drying out my pumpkin seeds to roast later. Hoping this time they taste a little better than the last time I tried roasting. Any favorite pumpkin recipes you'd like to share? 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Preschool week 8: letter E, number 4, Moses and the Red Sea

For week 8 we covered the letters Ee, number 4, and Moses and the Red Sea. I created E and e out of felt for Oliver to work on. This kind of thinking (using your hands for letters) is challenging for him and I don't push him too hard with it. I know he'll get it eventually, I just want to give him a variety of mediums to work on forming letters.

This week we also headed down to our communities story time. We actually ended up getting there a wee bit too late. They had read the story and were starting on the craft when we got there–woops! But Oliver didn't mind as they had a snack (a huge pile of raisins for him!) and his focus was on that snack for sure. Nevermind the craft :)!

We also made pear/apple sauce this week! Oliver loves to sit on the counter and help me make anything, so because I had a lot of pears that were soft and we all love sauce around here (pear, apple, whatever!) I thought it would be great to make it this week.

For our Bible story about Moses and the Red Sea, I found a craft idea like this one online, and made it similar to that. You trim out two pieces of blue for the water and fold up the inside of them to look like water parting. I had Oliver glue down the pieces and all the little men (red were the Egyptians and purple and black were the Israelites). He did great with this and kept all them men in neat little rows. Something that is very much an Oliver thing! :)

I used another section from the print out pack I talked about here. This one was a matching one–of course Oliver loved it. My favorite part of it all, was when he was "sharing" his raisins with the little picture of the people. Sweet boy! And we also played another game from the print out where you roll a big cube with an animal on each side, and when it lands on one you mark it on a corresponding sheet. It's a graph but Oliver liked rolling the big cube and finding out which animal would reach the last number first!

We finished our week heading to visit family. We celebrated Jonah's and Aleksandr's (again) birthday with some cake, much to Oliver's delight! And we enjoyed visiting with family for a couple days.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Out of Darkness: bringing light to a very dark place

Amidst the everyday of being home training two little boys and all the going on's that go along with that, Jonah and I have been praying and seeking the Lord about a specific ministry we feel led to serve in. I was asked to write a blog post about it for a site called the Middle Places, a place where several women come together to blog about their own "middle place" and how God is working in them. I wanted to post it here for my readers, and for my own access, so I can remember my thoughts at this point in the journey.
You can read it here.
We are slowly going through the steps now to become a part of this organization as volunteers, and I'm eager and waiting to see where God directs. I know He is before us on this journey and I'm praying for His Spirit to lead, to prepare us now for helping bring His light to these women. Please pray for us as it's not a place that the Enemy wants exposed. But HE is GREATER and He is victorious!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Preschool Week 7, Letter D, Number 4, and baby Moses

This week we focused on the letter D. Again. I actually jumped the boat when we started preschool and wanted to include letters even though the curriculum waited a couple weeks into can read that here. 
But after a week or two into preschool, I realized it was better for us (and a lot easier for me) to just follow the curriculum regardless if Oliver already knows the letters, shapes etc, of what we are covering. I can add to the curriculum each week if it's just too simple for Oliver and I love doing that.
But back to the week, we focused on D, the number 4 and the Bible story of when Moses was born.
I created a page of words with "d" in them for Oliver to find and circle. He still gets frustrated with this because it's hard for  him to make small circles around the d's. But I talked him through and helped him find words that started with the "da, da, da" sound.
Also, I love this picture of our sweet boy. I can see his boyish, childhood all wrapped up in that little face. :)

We played with some play sand this week again, which is ALWAYS a huge hit.
And I also let Oliver put a puzzle together that I printed for free online. It's a puzzle that is in strips you stack, with the number at the end of the strip. You can find the numbers and line them up (1-10) and then the pictures line up too. It's hard to get them (with three year old hands) perfectly lined up, so Oliver wasn't a huge fan. But as his fine motor skills and attention span increase I think he'll like doing this one a little more :).

We read the story of baby Moses this week too, and our craft was very simple for it. I printed the free printouts from ABCJLM and used those. Oliver painted and glued the pieces down on a sheet of paper. He did good gluing them all down in the right sequence (brush, basket, baby).

I found a super cute theme packet for brown bear that I printed for free! I used the sequence bears for Oliver. He's gotten really good at figuring out sequences. And Oliver worked on matching letters (big and little) from his name on this car that I made him.

Another counting activity we did: I used the ladybugs previously and instead of matching them to leaves, I had Oliver count the dots on the lady bugs and match them to the corresponding numbers I had made on sheets of paper. (I just made numbers 1-10 with simple matching dots under them)
He really loved doing this! He counted each dot on the ladybug and on each sheet of paper. He really likes counting and matching!

We are enjoying some lovely weather here in Georgia and it's wonderful to take lunch outside and enojoy these mild fall days together. The boys love being outdoors so any chance we get is always a hit! I am so thankful to be home with the boys to be able to do this with them. Such a huge blessing!
Also, nevermind that my foot looks completely out of proportion with my body. What the?? It's what you get from self timer. ha!

Our week ended with a little paint project. I had created these balloons for Oliver to paint for his daddy. Whose big birthday was that weekend. He did fabulous painting them with much gusto. He really likes to paint shapes. Aren't they pretty in all those colors?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Preschool Week 6: letter C, number 3, Joseph and his coat of colors

All right. I am a bit late posting our progress, since we are actually in week 8 as I write, but I've decided to just post some things we worked on that were particularly interesting that I'd like to remember for later use. Considering we do a lot of things consistently (like our routine things, and working on drawing lines, tracing numbers/letters etc.) it will help me overall not spend too much time here, when I need to spend my time in other places.
So with that being said, and the fact that I may be boring all those faithful readers (hee, hee, all two of you? ;) I will post weekly, or maybe biweekly, but let's not get too hopeful of that!
For our 6th week we were working on the letter C, number 3 and our Bible story was Joseph and the coat of many colors. These along with our weekly Bible verse kept us busy.
Here are some things we worked on {also, I'm warning you now it's going to be a picture heavy post}:

For the letter C, I had Oliver glue down puff balls (pom, poms maybe?) in C and c. He did a great job squeezing out his glue bottle and tapping down all the puff balls. He loves to make lines, so this was right up his alley!
I also introduced him to a new art: q-tip painting. You paint with a q-tip onto a letter that has little circles for you to fill in. I think this was a little too detail oriented for him at this point. He started out trying to fill in the dots and it turned into a great big mass of one blob of color. Which is okay too. He had fun using something new to paint with (q-tip)! I found the templates online for free. We'll keep them handy for more practice.

I created a "C" filled basket for him. To help him with the sound of C (what sound does C make?) I found a lot of items starting with C, and added in some things that didn't start with C. We pulled them out one at a time and talked about what their names were. I asked him each time if that item started with c and he got about half right. Sound is a hard thing to learn, and we'll get there. It was a fun visual way to work on letter sound.

I also drew some items starting with the letter C for Oliver to circle. We'd look at each picture and say what it is, then I'd ask if it started with "C". He circled the things that started with C. Also, I love old fashioned chalk boards. They are not used in schools as much, so I love being able to use one at home. I well remember working on chalk boards in my own schooling days. Is there anything better than a fresh clean slate? (I'm the nerdy one that loved washing the board down, so satisfying)

Oliver practiced cutting with his safety scissors (picked them up at the dollar store), and we had fun counting with a firefly game I printed free online. You put fireflies in the sky then count and find the matching number. He did great on this! He loves math, so far :)

Worked on a matching game (free online) where you match heads and tails.
Another easy game for Oliver. He actually started matching these months ago, and he loves matching games! He also glued down some circles I had cut out of different colored sheets of construction paper, into a caterpillar pattern of his choice. The head may have been in the middle of the body, but that's okay! ;) C is for caterpillar! 
A new thing we tried this week was drawing what I draw. I would draw something and have him copy me. We started with a circle then added to that to make a snowman. Oliver was frustrated at not being able to duplicate it, so we tried again with a simpler picture. A wavy line for water, a curve and line for a boat, a straight line and a triangle added for the sail. He did a lot better with this than the snowman. I'd like to keep doing this with him as it teaches him how to make shapes and lines and also follow direction. He'll be on his way to drawing his own pictures one day! 

And our Bible story craft this week was for the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors. A craft suggestion of ABCJLM was to paint colors on a brown grocery bag that you cut into a coat for your kiddo to wear. The first day we painted Oliver had no interest after about two strokes of paint. So I put it away for the next day. The next day I put paint on a plate for him and he liked this better than using a watercolor set. He painted with his brush, then turned to use his hands. 
Funny thing is, I loved the way the look of the dried paint was all mixed up on the paper plate he used. So we later cut out a coat shape from the paper plate and glued this to a piece of paper. I like that craft better than the original idea! Look at that bright colored coat! 
And that was the end of our week. 
Also, congratulations for making it through this long post. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

the SAHM.

I have been thinking a lot about what it's like actually being a stay at home mom.
I had a chance to speak with a friend recently about this very thing, and I realized I don't get to stop and think about this very often.
Well, yes, I do think about it often as it is my life day in and day out, but really think about the blessing of it as well as the hard parts.
I'm not sure why I am writing about this but I feel prompted to, and often that prompting is from the Lord saying, "Go ahead, do this!"
Being at home.
I have been home now a little over 2 years. I'm a "new" stay at home mom if you think about it. I don't have years and years under my belt yet. I love to think back to the point that started this all for us. When Jonah and I sought the Lord for an answer and felt clearly that it was a big YES for me to stay home. I wrote about this here.
What is it like to be a stay at home mom? it's a blessing, it's a calling, it's a tremendous gift to me.
Is it hard? yes, there are hard times.
Do you miss other people (adults)?  no, there is freedom to meet and talk with fellow mom's and friends.
Do you miss your job away from home?mm, not so much.
Is it hard to make it on one income? is anything too hard for the Lord? indeed there are sacrifices you make, but He is FAITHFUL to provide where He has called you.

These are typical questions that come to mind, and I had all these questions before I actually was at home.
Now I can think of these questions:
Is there anything else that is more fulfilling? living in the calling God has placed on your life is THE most fulfilling thing. 
Are you receiving blessing upon blessing simply by watching your very own children grow and learn and play and love you? yes, yes, yes.
Is your heart feeling overly full on some days? how can it not?
How do you find that there is more to give on the days you are nearing "empty"? I am reminded God's grace is like an ocean, and fills me up again and again, praise Him for this!
Do you see the heart of God in the daily role of being a mom? Of loving your family? Of doing all you can to make your home a loving, safe, God loving place? over and over.
Are these days going entirely too fast sometimes? yes, yes, yes.
Can you still remember those days out in the world working? yes, still do, but not often.
Do the harder days outweigh the lighter ones? many times over.
Is it worth it?
That last question is really it. Is it worth it? I want to shout out, HOW IS IT NOT????
But I can just quietly say in the blog world, yes.
It is worth it to wake up and have two little ones seeking you to pick them up, to care for them, to love them. To have love given back when you never deserve it. To watch them grow and see into their hearts moment by moment. To teach them what it looks like to love, to serve, to pray, to be a friend, to encourage, to clean, to work hard, to live this life with a heart bent on loving Jesus.
Because I get to be the one that daily shows them a small part of WHO Jesus is, and what His heart is, even if I know I fail again and again. I get to be the one to sing with them and cheer for them and laugh with them over silly,silly things, and I love it. 
So I say if you are questioning yourself about being a stay at home mom, I am reminded again to say that God is faithful in every single doubt and fear you have. If He has placed a calling in your own heart for this, He will provide, and get ready to have your heart filled up and overflowing. 
It's worth it.