Monday, October 31, 2011

Make-It-Monday: Handprint Snowmen Ornaments

Some of you (ourselves included) are enjoying beautiful, warm weather today and wondering how in the world I could possibly be thinking about winter and Christmas already!  Well my parents (Gammy and Pop Pop) had a big snow storm this weekend, and so we made some snowmen ornaments (and read a bunch of snow/winter books) to celebrate their first snow storm of the season.  I also know that the next few months will be quite busy so figure it is never too early to start on Christmas presents.

I found this idea on Pinterest.  I would have taken more pictures of the process, but as you can see, it required quite a bit of supervision and we still ended up with lots of paint everywhere!  It was a fun time though!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Children in the Church

What I now view as one of our greatest blessings each week (our children worshipping alongside me), sadly many churches never experience.  But I did not always think that having our young children in church with us would be a blessing. 
About a year ago, God began revolutionizing our theology of children in the church.  I had only ever been to churches where children were considered a distraction/disruption that could not possibly ever understand or gain anything from an "adult" worship service and therefore it was best to remove them into age-segregated classrooms where they could have their own "church" to learn about Jesus and God in a watered-down version they could understand (and until age 3 they could not possibly understand anything so they would just attend nursery - a.k.a. play time - until then).  When we had our children we put them into this "system" without questioning it... until "M" started saying we go to church to play with our friends.  That did not sit very well with me, and it was the beginning of about a 3 month journey that ultimately resulted in us leaving our home church.

Some key events God placed in our lives to lead us to this decision:

1.  Church refusing to put "M" into a class where she would at least hear bible stories and sing bible songs because she was still too young.  (And me not feeling okay about a 2 year old going to church to play for an hour.)
2.  My husband being stationed near Waco and us visiting a church where children were included (and sat still, listened, and learned!) in the worship service.  This was a completely new concept for us, and opened our eyes to the possibility that maybe there was another way (and it might even be better!).

3.  Listening to a sermon titled "The History of the Sunday School Movement" and learning the pagan roots of the movement and hearing statistics that show that Sunday School is neutral at best, and a stumbling block for many children.

4.  A digging of the Scriptures.  I had never known the Bible had so much to say on children!!!  Through our studies we found that in both the Old Testament and New Testament children worshipped with their families and there was no precedence to separate them out.  God does not view children as a distraction, but rather a blessing.

“Assemble the people – men, women, and children… so they can listen and learn to follow carefully all the words of the law…” ~Deuteronomy 31:12-13
“There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the aliens who lived among them.” ~Joshua 8:35
“While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites – men, women and children – gathered around him.  They too wept bitterly.” ~Ezra 10:1
“…Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast.  Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber.” ~Joel 2:15-16
From the New Testament verses of Matthew 18:1-5, Matthew 19:13-15, Ephesians 6:1-4, and Colossians 3:20, we can also gather that children were welcomed and present for the teaching of God and the assembly of the church. 
5.  Lots of prayer!!!

Deciding to leave our home church and "family" was one of the hardest decisions that we have had to make, and yet over and over again we felt God calling us to obedience.  What made it even more difficult for me is that this all occurred as my husband was away preparing to deploy (I'm sure it was difficult for him too in a different way).  But while obedience brings some opposition and challenges, it brings far more blessings!  The first Sunday I showed up at this new church (now our new church home) both kids screamed the entire service.  The next week did not go much better.  Nor the next.  But rather than getting rolling eyes or looks of disapproval, I received encouragement and support.  It was a very humbling process for me, but the rewards are great.  Now, almost 9 months later, our children sit and listen in church (for the most part... they still occasionally need some discipline).  It is incredible to me how much their little minds absorb.  And, the church is invested in our children and family.  They have not taken our children away from us to train them, but have rather come alongside us as a family to support us in training our children. 
Each week all of the children in the church (and there could possibly be more children than adults in the church!) go up front to sing.  "M" is just starting to get to know all of the songs and sing along, and "Boo" went up there for the first time last week (Her sister took her hand and walked her to the front... when they were finished, another little boy took both of their hands and escorted them back to their seats.  It was very sweet!). 
"I may never fly o'er the enemy, but I'm in the Lord's army!"

For more articles on Uniting Church and Family visit Vision Forum Ministries.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Singing to the LORD

"M" loves to sing, and it just warms my heart to hear her sing songs of praise throughout the day.  What a sweet, sweet sound!  Whether we're doing school time, playing, or chores, she just loves to sing songs like "Walking in the Light of God".  Her lyrics may not be perfect, but it fills our house with joy.  I love how God uses our 2 year old to keep my eyes focused on Him!

"Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
~Ephesians 5:18-20

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tot School Tuesday: Kk is for Kindness

The best way to teach and learn "Kindness" is to practice it!  We started off the week making a care package for one of "M's" friends whose baby sister was having heart surgery.  "M" got to go choose some things from around the house and go to the store to pick out a few activities for her to assemble into a bag to deliver to her friend.  "Fruity Bear" was on the lookout all week for acts of kindness (picking up without Mommy asking, sharing, complimenting, helping, etc.) and was quick to hand out stickers.  We had a few quiet mornings at the house where "tot school time" was more structured, but I only took pictures one of those days, so here's a look into one of our mornings.

We sing many, many songs during circle time, but one of our favorite during this "Fruit of the Spirit" study has been the "Fruit Tree" song.  I hand out a pair of fruit (purchased for $1 a piece at Wal-Mart) to each of us and we sing the song accordingly.  Here's how it goes:
"Way up high in the *orange tree
Two little *oranges smiled at me
I shook that tree as hard as I could
Down came the *oranges
Mmmmm... they were good!"
(*replace oranges with the name of any other fruit tree, such as lemons, pears, bananas, etc.)

I said I was going to start doing this weekly, and so far, so good!  Here is a look into our bag this week:
Aa is for Alligator
Bb is for Ball
Cc is for Camera
Dd is for Duck
Ee is for Elephant
Ff is for Fire Hat
Gg is for Game
Hh is for Helicopter
Ii is for Ice Pack
Jj is for Jingle Bells
"Boo" even had fun helping us with this (she of course required a lot of guidance, but it is fun to have her participate).

We talked about how being kind means always looking for a way to extend a helping hand.  For our craft this week we traced the girls hands and glued them to the letter "K" along with a smiling face.

I made this a long long time ago for another unit, but it's great for review so we practiced matching uppercase and lowercase for letters A through K.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekends are for the Blessing of Fellowship

We had a wonderful weekend celebrating some special occasions with a few members of our church family.  We had a double birthday party on Friday and a baby shower today.  What a blessing it is to rejoice together!  Praise God, the Creator and Giver of Life! 

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."
~Romans 12:14

What a blessing to see the children (all of them -all ages) in our church interacting together, encouraging one another, and helping each other.   

The mom-to-be (again, but this is the first boy!) and her mommy.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Food Friday: GF Vanilla Pound Cake

Our children had their well-child doctor's appointments today and it's official, "M" is going on a strict gluten free diet.  She eats mostly gluten free at home since I am gluten-free, but we do not enforce it when she is out.  After our discussion with our wonderful pediatrician today, we have decided that she too needs to be 100% gluten free.  Most people know of the usual, obvious signs of food allergy/sensitivity (rash/hives, wheezing, GI problems).  But, did you know that emotional outbursts, behavior problems, ADHD, delayed development, and poor muscle tone can also be signs of food allergies?  I have definitely noticed some behavioral changes and an increase in night terrors on days when "M" has gluten.  So during these crucial developmental years, the doctor and I agree that it's best that we just stick to gluten-free (much easier said than done when animal crackers are the staple at Sunday School and playgroups). 

RECIPE: GF Vanilla Pound Cake
(original recipe can be found on Land O Lakes)
*This recipe contains a lot of butter and sugar!  I did substitute some of the sugar for honey (and plan to substitute more next time).  I also want to try to substitute coconut oil for some of the butter.  It sure is delicious though!

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 cup butter, melted
4 eggs
4 tsp. vanilla
2 cups rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup milk

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease angel food cake pan and sprinkle with rice flour.
2.  Combine sugar, honey, and melted butter in large bowl.  Beat at medium speed until creamy.  Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla; beat until well mixed.
3.  In small bowl, stir together remaining dry ingredients.  Gradually add flour mixture alternatively with milk to butter mixture, beating at low speed.
4.  Pour batter into pan.  Bake 50-60 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan. 


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday: A Treasure from Daddy

Before my hubby deployed he took the time to record himself reading dozens of children's books to our children.  The girls just love sitting and watching daddy read.  What a treasure!  Thankful for such a loving, caring daddy to our girls.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tot School Tuesday: Fruity Bear

Have you missed me? We were down and out this week with the stomach bug :o( Poor "Boo" had it for nearly four days. "M" was lucky enough to escape it - praise God for his mercy! So anyway, school just did not quite happen this week. I tried to do a few fun activities with "M", but my energy was not quite there so we spent a lot of time reading and coloring (and I am ashamed to say watching movies - some weeks you do what you have to to survive!). We did have a special guest in the house this week though that I would like to introduce you to:

Fruity Bear is clothed in the "Fruit of the Spirit" stickers and always on the look-out for acts of love and kindness. He's funny and silly and ready to hand out stickers whenever one of the girls displays love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control. "M" is especially fond of Fruity Bear (although all the pictures I have are of "Boo" with him). When Fruity Bear yells at the top of his lungs, "'M', where are you? I caught you being (insert fruit of Spirit)", "M" will take off running and hide. Fruity Bear will look all over for "M" (behind the curtains, under the couch, behind toys, etc.) and when he finally finds her she is rewarded with tickles and a sticker. "M" will proudly display her sticker and tell me about it all day long. For example, "Look Mommy, I shared my toy with sissy even though it meant that I did not have a car to play with and Fruity Bear told me that was kind." Fruity Bear has also been reading us Bible stories each morning that give examples of Fruits of the Spirit.

I have been trying to emphasize letter sounds, and so we reviewed the letters we have learned so far with this fun alphabet game. This is something that I plan on doing once every week (with different objects) as we add more letters. I filled up a pillowcase with objects from around the house that represented different beginning letter sounds:
A is for Apple
B is for Butterfly
C is for Cookie
D is for Dog
E is for Elephant
F is for Fork
G is for Girl
H is for Horse
I is for Ice Cream
J is for Jewelry

"M" would randomly draw from the bag an object and need to place it on the letter that corresponded to it's beginning letter sound. "M" enjoyed this and asked to play several times.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tot School Tuesday: Jj is for Joy

Did you miss me last week?  I was busy getting ready for our new Fruit of the Spirit unit study, in which we'll be doing:
Jj is for Joy
Kk is for Kindness
Ll is for Love.
We kicked it off this week with some great songs and crafts.

There are some great (and hilarious) songs out there to help you quickly learn the Fruits of the Spirit.  A quick search on YouTube will lead you to some.  Here is one of our favorites:
The Fruit of the Spirit's not an orange*
The Fruit of the Spirit's not an orange*
If you want to be an orange*
You might as well hear it
You can't be a Fruit of the Spirit
For the fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
(*insert the name of any fruit for endless varieties of this song)


Today I learned
Jesus is the Vine
With Him I grow
fruit very fine

Love and Joy and Peace
are three
of the fruits
Jesus wants from me

Patience, Kindness
Goodness too
These are the things
Jesus wants me to do

Faithfulness, Gentleness
These are the fruits
Jesus wants me to grow


I don't know what you've been told...
Galatians' got the fruit of gold.
Patience, joy, love, peace and faith...
With gentleness He'll get the praise.
Self-control with kind and good...
We'll be like Jesus said we should...
Ask me what would Jesus do?
Galatians 5 Verse 22
Sound off:            Galatians 5
Bring it on down:   Verse 22
Galatians 5 Verse 22
(optional ending)
WE'VE GOT-  (clap) -  (stomp)  - THE FRUIT!

This was on the back of the Fruit of the Spirit poster I found at Mardel's.

Buy several fruit-flavored kool-aid packets and mix some with a little bit of water.  For a multi-sensory learning craft, match the kool-aid "paint" to the corresponding fruit cut-out using smell and sight. 

We made these several times this week, using different fruits each time. 




"M" giving me a "Joyful" smile

Monday, October 3, 2011

Make-It Monday: Cauliflower Crust Pizza

I'm sure most of you were expecting a sewing tutorial today, but I am not quite finished with the project I am working on.  I did however make a delicious pizza that I found on Pinterest, so I thought I would share that recipe with ya'll.  For the original recipe and more detailed instructions you can check out Eat.Drink.Smile.  I made it on stoneware rather than a baking sheet (how I made it below - check out link for original directions), and would recommend either making the crust larger than 9" so it is thinner, or baking for longer than 15 minutes.

1 cup cooked, riced cauliflower (see directions on Eat.Drink.Smile.)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp garlic salt
olive oil (optional)
pizza sauce, shredded cheese and your choice of toppings (pre-cooked)

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2.  In bowl, mix cauliflower, cheese, and egg.  Add oregano, garlic, and garlic salt.  Stir. 
3.  Spread pizza dough into 9" crust on stoneware.
4.  Brush with olive oil.
5.  Bake 15 minutes (or longer).
6.  Add pizza sauce, shredded cheese, and any toppings (we made just a cheese pizza for our first go at it).  Broil on high for 4-5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Weekends are for Festivals

What a beautiful day to spend walking around outside at a festival!  Although, the girls never made it too far past the inflatables.  It was a morning of smiles and giggles.