Monday, May 30, 2011

Make-It Monday: Mason Jar Cakes

These are perfect for end-of-the-year teachers' presents, housewarming gifts, tokens of appreciation, and a wonderful way to ship delicious baked goods to soldiers serving overseas (or college students away from home). 

What you'll need:
*5-6 wide mouth, pint-sized glass canning jars
*1 boxed cake mix or your favorite recipe and all ingredients

1.  Wash jars according to manufacturer's instructions (I put them in the dishwasher)
2.  Preheat oven according to recipe
3.  Prepare cake batter according to recipe
4.  Put just a slightly less than 1 cup of cake batter into each jar (I had approx. 4.5 cups of batter that I divided over 5 jars)
5.  Place jars on a cookie sheet and bake in oven for about 15 minutes less than you would if you were baking it as a regular cake.  I used a bamboo skewer to test for doneness.
6.  In the meantime, boil and then dry the lids.
7.  As soon as you remove the cakes from the oven, screw on the lids (be very careful as the jars are very HOT!)
8.  Decorate the jars to be used as a gift or box them up for a care package.

"M" wanted to keep the cakes at home and ship herself to Daddy!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Holidays are for Remembering

This Memorial Day we remember...
the Providence of God,
the faith of our Fathers,
those who have given the ultimate sacrifice,
those who have served,
those who are presently serving,
the families left behind...

From our family,

Vision Forum Ministries is presenting a new Faith of our Fathers Project - Normandy: A Final Farewell.  This is a great way to remember our heroes!  Our family also enjoys listening to the Providential Battles Series and Victorious Christian Armies.  What an encouragement for our military leaders and their families!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Weekends are for Hikes and Picnics

We had a wonderful time at Pinnacle Mountain State Park today with some of my fellow Army wives and their children. 

Where are some of your favorite places to hike?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I can relate!

I just had to laugh as I saw this young chimp trying to get its mommy to get up and play.  Oh how many mornings I feel like that Momma Chimp!  This week has been especially exhausting as I have been trying to get unpacked, the house organized, the lawn mowed and garden planted, and my kids settled and back into a routine after our 6 week excursion, all while battling hay fever.  The kids on the other hand seem to have an endless supply of energy and have been starting their day going 100 miles an hour at the wonderful hour of 0530!  So what do I do when I feel like this Momma Chimp?  I turn to the LORD, the ONLY ONE who can give me REST and carry me through the day. 

 "Do you not know?
   Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
   the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
   and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
   and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
   and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
   will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint."
~Isaiah 40:28-31

Praying you all find strength and rest in the LORD today!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tot School Tuesday - Circle Time

We honestly did very little tot school this week as we spent lots of time in the car and are getting settled in back home after being away for 6 weeks.  One thing that I have tried to maintain every day since we've been back is Circle Time.  It helps organize the day a little and gets us off to a good start. 

Here is what Circle Time generally looks like in our home:

1.  We start with the song "Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory".

2.  Then we sing our days of the week song.  This is to "Oh my Darling" and you can find a video on the Homeschool Creations Blog.  We do sing it a little bit differently:

There are seven days, There are seven days,
There are seven days in a week.
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thursday, Friday, Saturday.

Today is Tuesday, Today is Tuesday,
Today is Tuesday, yes it is.
Yesterday was Monday,
And Tomorrow's Wednesday.

3.  We count on the calender all the way to the present date (ex: today we counted up to 24).

4.  We rip off a link on the "Daddy" chain.  This is our way of counting down to Daddy's return.

5.  We go over the seasons and practice signing each one.

6.  We run to the window and describe the weather using words and signs, then Mommy takes out two weather cards and asks which one most describes today.

7.  Every Monday we choose a different Biblical Character Trait.  Each trait has a Bible Verse that we work all week on memorizing. 

8.  We sing several "action" songs.

9.  I either read a book, tell a rhyme, or do a puppet story.

10.  Close with prayer.

The whole thing takes about a half hour.  What does your Circle Time look like?

Here are some other fun things we did this week:

This is "M's" first time on a Tricycle (where she can actually reach the pedals).  She still goes backward most of the time but she is getting it.


"Where'd it go?"

"C'mon mom, go fast!"

"M" signing Lion.

The penguins were a big hit with the kids.  If you put your hand up to the glass they would swim down and "kiss" it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Make it Monday - Quick and Easy Snack Bags

Out of ziploc bags again!  It seems with two little ones in the house that I just cannot keep these around.  I had a few extra minutes today while the kids were napping so I decided to whip up some reusable snack bags out of some scrap material.  Trust me, it took much longer to write this blog entry than it did to make one of these.  You can use these for snacks (like animal crackers or cheerios) or anything you may need to toss into the diaper bag (pacifier, hair clips, handful of matchbox cars, etc.).  I think I may even make a few of these to organize scrap pieces of ribbon, odd buttons, etc.

1.  Find a scrap piece of material.

2.  Iron it and cut it to the size you want.  It just worked out that my scrap piece was about 22" x 6".

3.  Fold your scrap piece of material (right sides together) in half and sew around three of the sides (leave one of the short sides open for turning - it will get tucked in and sewn later.

4.  Turn your material so the right sides are now facing out.  Tuck in the unfinished edge and pin down.  Fold the material in half and then fold the top side down about 1.5 inches (see below).  Pin and sew as shown below.

5.  Remove pins, cut strings, wash, and enjoy!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Frugal Friday - Dehydrated Kale Crisps

I love making quick, cheap, healthy snacks for our family.  We picked an abundance of kale from our garden so I thought we would make some Kale Crisps.  I thought "M" would love helping me with this, but as you can see from the pictures below she did not at all like the texture. 


You'll need:
*2 bunches of kale - cut or ripped into 2 inch chunks
*1/4 cup olive oil
*juice from 1/2 lemon
*1 tsp. sea salt
*honey to taste

Mix kale, olive oil, slat, and lemon in bowl.  Massage for about 3 minutes.  You'll start with a big bowlful of kale and end up with just a handful or two by the end of it.
Add honey and massage for 3 more minutes
Dehydrate ~8 hours depending on your method (we use a Nesco Food Dehydrator)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blessed because I am His!

A few weeks ago our dishwasher broke.  Tonight, the hot water heater broke, which left me heating water on the stove to wash our dishes.  Welcome home!  Kids were screaming; my blood pressure rising.  I needed to pray.  I needed to breathe.  I needed to relax.  So I scooped up my two screaming children, grabbed the brownies I made earlier in the day, tossed the kiddos and the brownies in the stroller, and started walking.  Our neighbors were kind enough to mow our lawn for us the entire time we were gone and I wanted to stop by and thank them with some brownies anyway.  When I knocked on their door the Dad answered with "How blessed you are!  Welcome home!" and went on to say how wonderful that God spared our house from the tornados and how wonderful that I was able to spend that time with our family.  All the while I'm thinking to myself if only you knew the scene ten minutes ago in our house! I bit my tongue, returned with a polite smile, nodded my head, thanked them again for their kindness, and headed back home.  But I couldn't get his comment out of my head.  "Blessed."  Me?  God, help clear my eyes.  Help me to see your blessings.  The smoke cleared.  A smile came across my face.  Yes, even if all goes wrong (according to my plans, anyway) today, I am blessed, if for none other reason than I am His!  I am His child!  I am VERY BLESSED!

"The LORD your God is with you,
   the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
   in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
   but will rejoice over you with singing.”
~Zephaniah 3:17

Monday, May 16, 2011

Weekends are for Cherishing the Moments

Our visit in NJ is coming to an end.  We're packing up and getting ready for our journey back home.  We have enjoyed the time spent with everyone and had a wonderful time.  Here are a few snapshots of moments that made up our last few days here.

Cousins playing together.

A dog reunited with his father.

Sitting with my girlies on the same steps my mom grew up sitting up.

A PopPop playing with his granddaughter

First dance of a husband and wife.  CONGRATS Mr. and Mrs. Esposito!

Newleyweds smiling away - such a cute couple!

Our children crashing the party!  Aunt Kate and Gammy just couldn't resist!

Jumping on the bed.

Giggles with family and friends.

Thank you to everyone who made this trip special!  May God bring us all together again soon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Train your Children to Work Hard

The Bible is filled with warnings of laziness and idleness, and yet as a parent it is so much easier (short term anyway) to train our children to be just that.  "M" loves to help out, but yet far too often I find myself saying something along the lines of "why don't you go play with your [toy] while Mommy does [chore]".  Why?  Because training our children to help out and be hard workers takes time and patience - lots of it!  It means that some milk may be spilt and some flour lost.  It means having to explain every little step.  It means waiting while those tiny hands figure out how to complete the task.  It requires costant supervision.  It takes hard work on my part as a mom!  Of course there are some things that are too "dangerous" for little ones to be around, but there are lots of things I do in the course of a day that I could be teaching them to do.  I
should be encouraging her to be my little helper, not discouraging it, for the eternal rewards (and earthly) far outweigh any inconvenience in my day.

"Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth"
~Proverbs 10:4

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tot School Tuesday: Water World

We are still staying with my parents so our schedule is very off, but we did some crafts and a lot of reading this week. 

This idea came from Family Fun Magazine.

 Paint and decorate egg cartons to create sea animals.  We made a fish and some jellyfish.

Last week we collected some toad eggs and watched the tadpoles grow.  We are still watching the tadpoles in our container and also check the pond daily (there are millions of tadpoles there!).

WIKKI STIX: alphabet, words, art
Gammy came home one day with Wikki Stix as a treat for "M".  We used them to write out the alphabet and spell some "water world" words.  We also made some fish.

This idea is spun off from a craft in 365 Preschool Crafts & Activities.
Put blue paint on your fingertips to paint bubbles.
Put green paint on the side of your pinkie finger to paint seaweed.
Put orange paint on your palm and four fingers - stamp twice overlapping the palm so you make an octopus with 8 tentacles.

I turned the printables from the Ocean Animals and Pond Life Tot Books into "books".  "M" and "Boo" love looking at these.