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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Behold the Lamb (Day 2)

picture source
Yesterday, we read the story about how God created all things.  The Jesus Storybook Bible reminds us that God loves all people and desires a relationship with them- that we are God's children.

Today, we read the next story in the book entitled "The Terrible Lie."  The kids learned that the "Terrible Lie" was when the snake told Adam and Eve that they couldn't trust God to be good to them.  The first man and the first woman chose to believe the snake instead of God and disobeyed God's "one rule."  "And terrible pain came into God's heart.  His children hadn't just broken the one rule; they had broken God's heart.  They had broken their wonderful relationship with Him.  And now He (God) knew that everything else would break.  God's creation would start to unravel, and come undone, and go wrong.  From now on everything would die- even though it was supposed to last forever (JSB, pg 33)."

The Jesus Storybook Bible points out that because of the "Terrible Lie," God's children would always question God's love for them.  They would always wonder if they could trust God.  The would always be running from God and hiding from Him.  But, "God loved His children too much to let the story end there (JSB, pg 36)."  God told His children that one day He would come back for them and do battle with the snake.  God still had a plan and nothing would stop His "never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love" that He had for His children.

After the story time, we did an "experiment" involving marshmallows.  I gave each kid one giant marshmallow and told them to wait to eat it.  If they could wait to eat until I told them that they could eat it, then I would give them a second marshmallow.  But, if they ate the marshmallow before the timer went off, then they wouldn't get another one.  The kids were asked to weigh their knowledge of their mom- could I be trusted to give them the second marshmallow?  Could I be trusted not to take away the marshmallow if they waited?  Did I really love them and want what was best for them?  (yes, I know sugar isn't "the best"...)

While they were eating their marshmallows, I talked to them about how the marshmallow was kind of like the fruit on the forbidden tree.  God told them not to eat it and promised them every good thing for obeying Him.  Adam and Eve could have had fellowship with God, all His provisions, and eternal life if they had trusted God.  Instead, they listened to a Terrible Lie about God.  And, nothing would ever be the same.

The question hanging in the air was this: How could God punish sin without punishing people?  How would God answer the Terrible Lie?  Is God good?  Can He be trusted?

*The marshmallow experiment is a modification of a test first done in the 1960's.  The researcher found that children who were able to hold out for the second marshmallow did better in "life," had better relationships, and made better decisions when they grew up than the group that desired instant communication.  With attachment theory gaining momentum, this experiment has been done several other times.  One researcher found that kids who came from unstable backgrounds and who had trouble trusting adults were more likely to not wait for the second marshmallow than those with healthy attachments who trusted adults to keep their word.  Interesting, right?

**No, God does not tempt us.  The tree in the Garden wasn't a temptation- it was a boundary.**

Monday, March 30, 2015

Behold the Lamb (Day 1)

picture from the Jesus Storybook Bible
The mantel is cleared except for a wooden cross- it must be Holy Week.  Today, we started a special
Bible study with our toddlers (ages 3, 2, 1) to show them why Jesus had to die on the cross.  I'm calling the study, "Behold the Lamb."

Today, we read the first story in our Jesus Storybook Bible, "The Beginning: A Perfect Home."  This section is a retelling of Genesis 1 and 2: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1)."  In Jones' book, God says "Hello" to everything that He makes and pronounces it "Good."  The emphasis of the story is on God's plan and His creative power.  After the perfect home is complete, God created man and woman.  "And Adam and Eve joined in the song of the stars and the streams and the wind in the trees, the wonderful song of love to the One who had made them.  Their hearts were filled with happiness.  And nothing ever made them sad or lonely or sick or afraid.  God looked at everything He had made.  'Perfect!' He said.  And it was (JSB, pg 5)."

I wasn't very well organized, so we didn't do any craft or special activity after reading the story.  Since my children are young, we kept the "discussion questions" simple.  "Who made you?  Who loves you?"  I also asked them those questions about other people in our family to emphasis that God made all people and loves all people.

Pinterest has a bunch of Creation-themed crafts you could do if you chose.  I really liked the Days of Creation one by DomanMom.  I also like this coffee filter earth by KidsActivityBlog.  Maybe we'll do one tomorrow to review today's lesson.

If you'd like to read the complete story from the Jesus Storybook Bible, it's available on the book's website (here).  You can also watch the story as a video on Youtube (here).

If all goes well, I hope to continue these devotionals through Easter Sunday.  I hope this blesses you and your family as well.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Our Second Family Road Trip (zoo)

We had an opportunity this weekend to visit my sister, who is going to college in Portland.  Of course, we took it.  Besides, it was a chance for another road trip, and we were even promised a day at the zoo.  We had so much fun at the Oregon Zoo.  The kids got see real animals, which was pretty amazing for them.  They also got to ride the zoo train and a historical train in downtown Portland.  It was a great weekend.  See....
Dragonfly looking at giraffes... Tadpole in the stroller... Skimmer touching wood penguins

Dragonfly decided that "all the kids" should wear jean overall shorts for zoo day.  So, that's what I packed.  I think it motivated her to use the potty all day since she didn't want to have to change and ruin the "look."  Now, that's a mommy win!
Our zoo day snacks: jungle vines (licorice), animal crackers, and monkey mix (dried bananas and raisins).  It was nice to have some "themed" snacks to grab when the kids needed a boost.  I should have packed some "trains" snacks, too, since we went on so many of them that day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Road Trip DIYs

We're gearing up for another road trip!  And, I've been crafting like crazy to get ready (I'm nuts like that).  Here's what I've been working on:
Clothes Scrunchies- I referenced these on our last road trip but never got around to blogging about them.  As you can see, the scrunchies are actually colored elastic (Amazon) that I sewed into a circle.  All my kids have assigned colors so I can tell immediately whose outfit I'm holding.  I love how the scrunchies keep the clothes neat and contained.  They don't get messed up no matter how many times we dig in the family suitcase!  Each clothes bundle has everything needed to get that kid dressed: pants, shirt, and diaper/panties.  I can hand a packet to my husband or anyone and they can help me get everyone ready in the morning.  Those bands are so small but so helpful. 
 Activity Box- I also talked about this idea in the previous road trip blog.  I love how this flip top bin fits between the seats.  Inside is a treasure of activities, toys, and prizes to keep the kids entertained.  Just in this picture, you can see the magna-doodle (Dollar Tree), the little container with a sticky frog, a pair of sunglasses, a google-eye ring, and a mommy-made "Who's Who at the Zoo" flip book.
 Mom's Activity Box- I used the tutorial on the Jembellish blog to make this hanging bin.  Our SUV has so much leg room in the front that I nearly cannot reach the glove box.  I mostly use this bin to hold my craft projects and Kindle.  It always has a pair of scissors, a pen, and a pack of gum.
Mom's Pillow- I got the pattern for this "dog bone" pillow on the Sew4Home blog website.  As you can see, I made it match my hanging bin.  I made a second one for my husband with airplane fabric.  He stores his pillow in a bin under his seat when he's not using it.

The basket in the middle is our "center console."  It's an organized mess of pouches, bags, bottles, and cords- all our important things.  Sometimes, the most important thing is a lollipop (or 3) or a baby wipe or the radio transmitter for the MP3 player.  Whatever I may need while driving, I try to stock in that bin.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

PBJ Game

Do you need an easy DIY for a preschooler present?  Know how to use a glue gun?  Then, you can make this cute, simple game.  Best of all, it's nut-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free!

Supplies:
- 4 pieces of cream felt (I used craft felt)
- 4 pieces of purple felt
- 4 pieces of tan/light brown felt
- bread slice template (here)
- wood cube (I bought mine at the Dollar Tree)
- freezer paper
- glue gun
- scissors, hot glue sticks, clothes iron, pen/pencil
- metal tin for storage (I bought mine at Walmart)

I saw the idea for this game on Homeketeers and thought it was a great idea.  Since I did my game a bit differently though, I thought I'd post my own DIY.

1)  Print template from the website.  You may need to play around with the sizing to get a "slice" that fits in your tin lunch box.  Or you can draw one free hand.

2)  Place a piece of freezer paper (I found mine with the tin foil, etc, at Walmart) over the printed template, paper side up, and trace the bread slice 4 times.

3)  Iron the freezer paper onto the cream felt, taking care not to scorch your felt.  Cut out slices but don't throw away your templates yet.

4)  Cut out 4 more slices, using the freezer paper templates.

5)  Cut out a "blob" to use for the jelly and/or the peanut butter.  Iron it onto the tan or purple felt and cut out.  Make a total of 4.  Repeat process for the other condiment (peanut butter or jelly).

6)  Using the glue gun, attach one slice of bread onto a solid sheet of cream felt.  Cut around the slice to make a double-thick piece.  Do this process for all the pieces, each with their own color (see picture).

7)  Glue scrap pieces of felt onto the wood block to make a die (2 squares of each color).

8)  Put all the pieces in a metal lunch box to store until game time.

To Play:
Each player is trying to build their own PBJ sandwich.  The players take turns rolling the die and picking up the pieces that match the color they roll.  If a player rolls a color that s/he doesn't need, then the player doesn't collect any pieces that round.  The game is won when one player has a complete sandwich- 2 pieces of bread, 1 blob of jelly, and 1 blog of peanut butter.

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Showing My Nerd Side

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One day, I looked at my kitchen and said, "This isn't me anymore.  And, besides, "coffee shop" is so Pinterest.  What could I do instead?"  I've recently fallen head-over-heels for my sewing machine, so I immediately got online and started looking at fabric.  Suddenly, it all seemed too easy- Star Wars!  I bought the fabric for the curtain at Joann and began planning the other accessories around it.  The fabric had blue and black in it, which was easy to match with some hand towels and dish clothes from Walmart.  It was difficult to decide what to hang in the picture frames, but I soon decided to use this idea from DoodleCraft.  The silhouettes can be obtained for free on her site.  Next, I was off to Amazon for some Geeky gear to line the window sill.  The R2D2 and R2Q5 are salt and pepper shakers.  I'm currently borrowing the Lego Boba Fett alarm clock from my husband until I get the Stormtrooper one for the kitchen.  He also stores his Star Wars tin lunch box on the window sill when he isn't using it for work.   Someday, I think it would be fun to own these measuring cups.  Aside from the curtain being a bit long, I'm really enjoying this new theme.  It makes both myself and my husband smile every time we notice it again.

Now, we're all ready for May the Fourth!

Unless the Empire successfully bans it....

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Our Very First Family Road Trip (aquarium)

As I said in part one, we made the decision to go to Seattle one-and-a-half days before we left.  Luckily, I had already been crafting and planning for our "big trip" and had "a few" things ready to go.  The goal of this blog entry is to talk about the road trip part of the adventure.

Packing:
I packed the whole family in one suitcase.  The parents' clothes were folded in the bag, but the kids' clothes were rolled.  I packed 2 outfits per adult and 3 per kid, plus one pair of footie pjs per kid.  For the first time, I used my custom "scrunchies" to hold the outfits together.  I made the scrunchies to match each kid's assigned color, which worked really well.  I loved that I could grab one of each color, throw them on the bed, and start dressing kids.  My other packing secret is that I rolled either a diaper or a pair of underwear into each clothing bundle to make dressing the kids even easier.  I was pleased with how the packing system worked; although, I'm thinking about packing our things in a plastic tote next time.

For the road trip, and any additional diaper changes, we packed the "red backpack," which is just a school bag.  I always try to have it loaded with a full bag of diapers, at least half a pack of wipes, diaper rash cream, a baggie of disposable gloves for applying the cream, an extra outfit for Dragonfly (potty training), and so on.  The bag sat in the back of the car near the door for the road trip, but stayed in the hotel for the day trip.

Tourist Stuff:
On the day that we were out touristing, we tried to keep our belongings light.  Dragonfly (age 3) walked the whole day and wore a cute, little backpack with an extra outfit, some wipes, and her cup.  She felt so grown-up carrying her own things and looked grown-up too (mommy tears).  Skimmer (age 2) wore a backpack leash with a few diapers, wipes, and his cup in it.  He walked most of the day but he also traded off with Tadpole in the stroller.  It would have been nice to have had a double stroller, but our double is really clumsy and wouldn't have been very helpful in the tight places we visited (especially the Museum of Flight- not stoller/wheelchair friendly at all!).  We took our umbrella stroller instead, which was very helpful.  Like I said, Tadpole (1) rode in it the most (and napped in it!), but Skimmer also took a turn when he needed a "time-out."  The whole set up would have been better if everyone had been better rested; however, I wouldn't change anything if we were to do it again.

Source
Food:
We purposefully chose a hotel with an excellent continental breakfast and a fridge/microwave in the room.  I also packed two plastic totes with food, one for the "road trip" snacks and one for the hotel.  Because the room had a microwave, I was able to make "Easy Mac" for the kids.  It was the highlight of their stay.  I made them eat on a big sheet, which I had placed on the floor.  Next time, I will bring something smaller and more kid-appealing, like place mats.  It was also very important that I packed dish soap, a wash cloth, towel, plastic wear, paper cups, plates, etc, to help make hotel cooking a bit easier.

For the road trip, I packed us homemade "lunchables" in a new cooler bag, which I placed on the bench seat between my husband and I.  One thing that I loved about the new bag is that it has a compartment on the top to hold non-cooler foods.  I was able to place a small bin inside of it, which a made it ridged and kept our crackers from getting squished.  In the front pocket of the cooler, I slipped in a few lollipop treats and just-for-mom snacks to keep *me* happy on the road.  I absolutely loved the whole cooler set up.  I can't wait for our next road trip so I can use it again.

The one food thing I would change for next time is to get a narrower snack bin.  I stuck our "old one" one the passenger side, under Skimmer's feet, but it was too wide to fit well between the seats.  I did get it shoved in the car but it was unnecessarily difficult.  For the next trip, I'd like to find something that is less than 13" wide.

*Note to Self: your kids don't like lunch meat.  Pack them PBJs in fun shapes instead*

Entertainment:
Dad brought his MP3 player and headphones, and Mom packed the family MP3 player and radio transmitter.  Dad brought the laptop, and Mom brought her Kindle.  Dad watched the hotel TV (mythbusters!), and Mom streamed movies.  That's what you wanted to know, right? How mom and dad kept entertained?

Like I said earlier, it was fortunate that I had spent a lot of time working on road trip stuff these past few months because I was ready with lots of fun things for this trip.  On the driver's side, I packed another bin, which rested under Tadpole's seat (rear facing).  I packed Dollar Tree magnetic boards, a couple discovery bottles, several toy cars (baby and matchbox), a color-matching busy bag, two homemade flip books (which I'll blog about later), a mini car in a race track tin (later), and some mini animals in an altoid tin (also later).  Honestly, I was surprised at how well our kids did in the car.  We hardly needed any of these activities.  The kids entertained themselves (not by sleeping!) and made up their own games.  They did really enjoy the little car (Skimmer) and the little animals (Dragonfly) and the other toy car (Tadpole).  We never did get out the busy bag or the bottles or the store-bought toys (although I should have used the busy bag in the hotel).  They also really liked the pictures books I made, a zoo animals one for Dragonfly and a "20 trucks" one for Skimmer.  The books are still in the car, and they  love to look at them while we drive to town.  The one thing that I would do differently for the next road trip would be to pack some games and activities for the kids to do at the hotel.  I didn't structure their time well, and it made it frustrating for everyone.

Wow!  This is getting to be a long post.  Just a few more things.  Tethers are your friends.  I made my own with ribbon and book rings, which I attached to the car with carabiners.  Some of the ribbons had elastic on them for holding sippy cups, while others had another ring on the end for toys.  Every toy that entered the car (except for the ones in tins) was clipped to the ribbon for easy retrieval.  Amazing!  The book rings (Dollar Tree) made it really easy to switch out activities too.

Thanks for sticking with me until the end!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Valentine's Day (Part 1)

Every year, my husband and I talk about how "Valentine's Day is just a made-up holiday" and that it "does really matter what we do for it."  It's funny, though, because of all the holidays, I remember the V-days the most.  Like the one when we were dating and he sent me a single fake white rose (purity) through the mail.  Or our first one after we got married, which was my first time out of the house after our ectopic pregnancy.  And, the one in Botswana.  And, last year, when an unknown someone paid for our meal.

This year, once again, we said, "Eh, it doesn't matter what we do."  Then, the Wednesday before the Saturday holiday, we decided to go to Seattle for the weekend.  This decision gave me exactly one day to plan our first family road trip.  Crazy!  (I'll write more about that aspect of it in part 2)

We only spent one day in Seattle (two nights), but we packed that day full of fun.  First, we went to the Aquarium to see Nemo.  We got to the pier an hour early, so we walked around the docks and showed the kids some things they'd never seen before: the ocean, homeless people, multiple layers of roads running over the top of each other, cranes, ferry boats, skyscrapers, etc.  Just that hour made for a big day as my country mice saw the big city.

We spent about two hours at the aquarium, then got back in the car to drive to the next adventure.  Of course, we had hoped that the kids would nap during our drive.  Only one kid slept, which was a bit disappointing, since we knew that they all needed it.

Our next stop was the Museum of Flight, which is located near the Boeing factory.  My husband and
Skimmer loved this place!  Airplanes everywhere!  Big ones.  Small ones.  Parts of ones.  Ones you could go inside and ones that you couldn't touch.  Dragonfly (and Skimmer, of course) loved the WWII hanger because each airplane had a button to push, which played the sound of that engine starting up.  Overall, we were very glad that we spent time there.

When we got back to the hotel after all that touristing, we were surprised to see that it was only 2pm!  Our kids were tried but very overstimulated and wound up.  We knew that a nap was just not going to happen.  So, we asked the woman behind the front desk if she knew of any parks in the area.  She had never been asked that before!  Fortunately, we were visiting the city that invented Google, and she was able to use the maps feature to find a park in our area (less than a mile from the hotel).

Another two hours or so was spent chasing the kids around the park/playground.  After that, we limped back to our hotel, ordered pizza, and called it a night.  All the kids were asleep by 7 that night.

Unfortunately, Tadpole woke up the next morning at 3am and wouldn't go back to sleep.  So, we started back home.

It was a great adventure and I'm really glad we went.  I can't wait until our next trip (we're talking about a zoo).

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Home Depot Is My Craft Store

Living in a small town is tough when you're a crafty person.  My nearest Michaels is an hour from my house and Hobby Lobby is an hour and a half.  The Wal-mart craft section is my only fabric store.  In desperation, I've found an unlikely source of crafting supplies- Home Depot.  Need dowel rods?  Home Depot.  D-rings?  Home Depot.  Chain?  Foam?  Carabiners?  Check.  Check.  Check.  One weekend I'm asking them to cut PVC pipes into 6" sections.  The next, I'm looking for short, fat bolts and nuts to match (fine motor skills practice).  It's so bad that my requests are often met with "And what are you Pinteresting today?"  Like I said- small town.  I'm always amazed at what I find.  I'm hoping that we get a Hobby Lobby someday soon.  Until then, I've got to make do with what I've got.

*No, this is not a paid post.