Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Jon/Michael compromise

So what do sports loving Michael and cars loving Jon play together?

Let me introduce you to matchbox football:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My dilemma

This week I am going to work on the following:

So I have three kids which among other things (like lots of laughter, hugs, smiles, fun) means that I hear squabbling ALL THE TIME! When I think about it logically I know that there are times I need to step in and help them practice how to work out their problems and there are times when I need to stay back and let them practice working out their problems. In reality, I think that I step in too much. OK, I know I do, because I step in just about every time.

Experiment 1: Jon is playing with cars and Becca wants to join. Now let me fill you in that this happens one hundred and one times a day, so I have stepped in to "solve" this problem some forty thousand times in the last year - exhausting! So this time I stayed in the other room and listened. I don't think it went well because there was a lot of yelling and Becca came to me crying and holding her teeth. I think she probably got hit in the mouth. And this is usually why I step in - the younger one in the squabble tends to get the raw end of the deal. But while I'm comforting Becca, Jon runs upstairs and brings down a teddy bear for Becca "because she is cwy-ing" (crying in Jon speak). So maybe it didn't end so bad.

Experiment 2: Jon is playing with cars and Becca wants to join (3 minutes after Experiment 1's half failure), so you see I may not have been joking about the 101 times a day! I hear Jon saying something about his "faborite" car and Becca crying and then Jon proceeds to tell Becca that she can have some other cars and gives her some. Becca comes around the corner with car in hand and a big smile and I shed a tear (ok maybe just a big sigh) at how sweet big brother Jon can be.

Monday, November 28, 2011

My favorite puzzle

We have this puzzle that I absolutely adore for beginner puzzle users - aka Becca right now. All of the pieces are the same size and shape so you can practice just putting them in the puzzle without having to also figure out which piece goes where. Becca has been playing with it for a couple of weeks now and I was just thinking the other day that I should probably introduce her to the concept that each piece also has a correct spot and see if she can start matching up some of the animals.

She came to me the other day with one of the pieces in her hand, babbling on about something and trying to get me to follow her. I asked her if she needed help and she said she did, so I followed her to find this:

She had matched up all the animals (OK, their heads were all upside down but still) and was stumped by the last two - I assume because they are both brown. So either I simply have a very brilliant girl or she has been tutored in the "right" way to do the puzzle by her brothers. Probably both.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Our Stuffing

Here is the recipe I made - I need to get in writing because we will want to use it again sometime. This is mainly based off a recipe from Pioneer Woman.

Fill one cookie sheet with bread cubes - half homemade white bread, half corn bread. Set this aside to dry out for at least 24 hours.

In a frying ban melt 3/4 stick of butter. Add 1 small onion and some celery and heat them for about 5 minutes. Then add 2.5 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add 1/2 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp thyme, and 1 tsp rosemary. (I was suppose to add some fresh parsley too but I didn't have any so I just skipped it.) Cut up 1 apple and add it and about 1 cup of dried cranberries to the mixture. Let simmer for a couple of minutes.

Put the bread crumbs in a bowl and pour the broth mixture over it. Mix it up and add some more broth if necessary.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Cover for the first half of the baking time.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

We had our first Thanksgiving at home this year. Each year previously we have taken turns going to our parent's homes for Thanksgiving. This year we were scheduled to be with the Haigs in Boston, but we simply couldn't get there. Tim and Michael had school Wed and Tim had practice afterwards, so our Thanksgiving break was simply not long enough for the long trip to Boston. So we had to satisfy ourselves with a couple of Skype calls with them.

This meant that we were home for Thanksgiving, and since we wanted it to be special and because we LOVE Thanksgiving meals, we decided to cook ourselves up a feast. Here is a recap:

The decorations:
*Throughout the week we made a mobile showing the things we were thankful for. It was inspired by this Thankful Tree:

However, for those who have seen our table you know that it is not very big, so I was pretty sure with all the food on the table, there simply would not be room for a center piece. So instead we made it into a mobile from kitchen light.

*I was inspired by another Thanksgiving decoration I found online too:

Thanksgiving morning I started attempting to make some with the boys and Becca quickly joined us too. After quite a bit of frustration with the little ones, we continued the project just Michael and me. Here is our finished product:

OK, so they are not nearly as perfect as the ones from the inspiration picture, but I think they turned out super cute! And the kids could barely wait until after the meal to dig in and eat them.

The table setting:
We got our some fancy napkins and cups that really spiced up the table and were so much fun for the kiddos.

The menu:
*Turkey - I cheated a bit and cooked it the day before because this is something I've never made before and I wasn't sure how it would go. I believe it turned out very good!
*Green beans with almonds - the way we always do at Thanksgiving with the Haigs.
*Cranberry sauce - easy because Tim prefers the one from the can.
*Gravy - also a first for me since I made it from the turkey drippings.
*Mashed Potatoes - Tim style
*Stuffing - This was my great achievement for the meal I think. It turned out fabulous. Not only was it the first time I've made it from scratch, but I actually combined two recipes to try something brand new.

Dinner time!
We were so excited that the dinner could be even more special because Uncle Nate could come and join us so we could still spent Thanksgiving with family.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What a girl can learn from older brothers

First you line them up.

Then you admire your work for a brief second before

Crashing them all into each other.

Oh, and please excuse her crazy hair do - I try but she loves to pull and mush it up.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jon - a boy on HIS OWN schedule

Well, Jon is 3 and in the height of "I do things my way on my time!" Lately that has been really causing Tim and I to go crazy at dinner time. Jon just sits at the table telling us about everything and anything, taking hours (literally) to eat.

Here is him from the other night.

We sat down to eat at a little after 6:00. By 7:00 we had given up sitting with him and left him alone. It was actually rice for dinner which was his favorite. At 7:30 I went back and sat with him to help him get a couple of bites, but he didn't eat enough to be allowed to get down (about half his serving) until 7:45. Ahhhhhhhh!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Becca giggles

Becca loves, loves, loves, pointing at parts of the face and having us exclaim what they are. This weekend she added a twist to the game with Daddy.


Forehead (a new favorite)

Grab Daddy's glasses - I totally missed getting a picture of the actual grab, but here is the after.

And showing off her cleverness

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My kids' favorite web sites

You have probably already read that my kids can earn computer/video game time by doing chores. We also used computer time as an incentive for Jon to use the potty and to get him to go down for a nap without crying. (I know, I know, that's bribing him, but well, Jon has always set out to make me rethink all I use to think about the right way to parent.) So when the get on the computer, what are they doing?

Hands down the favorite is They can watch mini episodes of Mickey, Handy Manny, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Cars, and on and on. There are also tons of fun games to play.

A recent favorite has also been Chuck E Cheese skeeball. It turns out that they can earn tickets online, print them out, and bring them to Chuck E Cheese to add to their tickets there. Luckily I have convinced them that they can play for fun too without actually printing and turning them in.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The gym

OK, I've never been a fan of going to the gym, but...

We are members at our local MVP gym. (We got an amazing discount through Tim's work so thank you to HC.) We used our membership mostly this summer to use there fun outdoor pool that the kids loved. They did swimming lessons, went down the slide, splashed, and splashed, and splashed. But I digress - now it is getting cold. I can no longer go for long walks around the neighborhood pushing the stroller for exercise very often because the kids cry about how cold they are getting. So I've started heading to the gym a bit more.

We were there yesterday. The kids love the play area so it is easy to check them in, because they just run off and start playing. I exercised for about 45minutes and then took a shower. Now I know that some people are a little grossed out by public showers, but I must say it is really nice to take a shower without the kids banging on the shower door to have me solve their latest quarrel. And so it was that this realization hit me yesterday - my motivation for getting to the gym more. I love my kids but being a stay at home mom I am on call 24 hours a day. I get up with them at night, I have them hanging on me throughout the morning. I tiptoe around the house at nap time for fear that one creak will wake them, etc, etc, etc. At the gym I do take a pager with me so technically I'm on call, but I can listen to a book on tape for 45 minutes without interruption and then I can shower in peace. So ,y motivation: I think that all the sweating and feeling like I might collapse from tired muscles and exhaustion, is a worth wile price to pay for a little over an hour of me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I'm officially

certified to teach in the State of Michigan again.

I know it's not a very good scan of it, but that is my certificate that came in the mail a couple of days ago.

Back story: We had always planned for me to go back to work at some point, but the Lord has put things in motion that are leading me to get ready for this sooner than I anticipated. I don't know if it means there is a job waiting for me in the next couple of years, but it does mean that I will probably be doing my student teaching hours this spring. The wonderful people at Calvin were very understanding and helpful for my last minute change of plans and they have almost worked everything out to make it happen.

I will be student teaching with students with learning disabilities to work towards my LD endorsement. Since this will be my second special education endorsement I only need to do 1/2 the hours. This is why I went through getting my certificate back current to make sure there was no trouble recognizing that this will be my second special education endorsement.

I will keep everyone posted about the details of this spring as they begin to unfold. Right now I just ask that you keep Tim and I in prayer as we try to get ready for what it means for our family for me to be out of the house so much this spring. I'm a bit nervous about the headaches it might bring and the whole finding good child care for our kids. I do wish I had my mom to talk to for wisdom about going back to work even though this is only a temporary student teaching time. However, I do know that this is from the Lord's leading so he will provide - it can just be hard sometimes to wait and trust.

Overall, though, I'm am very excited for this opportunity. I love that I will get this time to immerse myself in teaching again and fan the passion I have for this part of who I am.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trampoline Video

As promised here is a video of the kids on the trampoline. Pardon the shaking camera, but I was holding Becca until it was her turn. On our first try we let Becca go first but then she wouldn't get off the trampoline. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I know that today is the 11th but it was last week. Michael and I both found this date amusing so we set out to take 11 pictures of the things we did on 11/11/11. Here you go:

Morning Chores - here are the boys unloading the dishwasher.

We took a trip to the library - forgot to get a picture at the library with Becca running wild trying to pull books off the shelf, but here we are with the books and movies when we got home.

We also got Michael boots since it snowed the other day and we can't cram his feet into his boots from last year.

Lunch was left over chicken nuggets, home made bread with honey and grapes.

Then it was nap/rest time!

After rest time came some football.

And of course, a day could not go by without Jon playing with his cars.

Tim came home right after school for the first time this week so the kids we so excited to have some Daddy time.

We all got to eat dinner together. I just love our family dinner times.

After dinner there was a dance party to David Crowder Band.

And now let out a big sigh with me because we made it to the kids' bedtime.

And I actually got around to scrapping a page with it so here it is:

Credits: Letting Go by Amy Stoffel, Freebie Template from Digital Scrapbooking Classes Facebook page, fonts are Cinda by Darcy Baldwin and Massey

Monday, November 14, 2011

Michael Reading

Wow - Michael has finally taken off with his reading. He is now excited to get books at the library and even asks if I will let him read to me instead of me read to him - Ummm, YES!

Last week we got I Can Read With My Eyes Shut by Dr. Seuss from the library. Here is his first attempt at a reading of it. Doesn't he do just fabulous!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A week of being MOM

Tim has had a busy week with conferences, his two first basketball games of the season to coach, and church band rehearsal. This has meant that there has been a lot of time this week where I am home alone with the kiddos. I think I did pretty good, although I'm certainly not wishing I was a single mom. So here are some highlights from the week that kept me sane.

1. New toys!
Well, not really new, but I have three huge bins of toys in the basement that we haven't used in a while, so this week we packed up the bin upstairs and traded it with one in the basement. Every time we do this the kids think it is Christmas will all the toys they have long forgotten about. One of the toys that came out this round was "Memory Bears" which is a super cute bear matching game that GG-Pa and Great Sandy gave us many Christmases ago. We played it together many time (both as memory and go fish) and then the boys have been playing it together a lot this week too.

2. Play Date
There is a first grader from Michael's school who sits with him on the bus a lot and lives a couple of blocks away. Since the kids were off school for conferences we decided to give them a call (Michael has been begging me to call them for weeks now) to see if they wanted to play. This boy has a 4 year old brother too so I thought he and Jon might hit it off. Turns out they were thrilled but didn't have a car this week so they invited us to there house instead. So Tuesday morning we hung out at their place. I have a fun time chatting with the mom and the kids had fun investigating even more new toys.

3. Markers and stickers
I wish I had taken a picture of this, but all three kids got really into sticker this week - especially Jon. He went to town filling pages with stickers. Becca was cute too because she kept putting stickers on top of each other so that the whole sheet of stickers would end up in one pile if I didn't help her try and spread them. And I think she needs one of those stick and remove sticker sets because she was distraught that she couldn't peel them back up once they were on the page. And then I got out the markers. I usually make them use crayons, so this was a treat. Jon ended up with markers all the way up his arm. I had to put a stop to the fun, though, when Michael came to me to say, "I had to draw marker on the table Mom to see what color they were."

4. Jumping on the trampoline
This is a perfect toy for a rainy week like this one has been. - Video coming!

5. Movie night - a great way to pass an evening when dad is out.
We first got all ready for bed and I even let the kids take their snugglies down which was a real treat. Then we put pillows and blankets out on the floor and got cozy for Toy Story 3.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Oh, my baby girl

is no longer a baby.

Becca loves to pose for pictures now and then run back to me to look at the back of the camera and see herself. Her eyes light up and she points "caca" meaning "Becca!" After one such photo shoot I ended up with this picture and simply could not believe my eyes. She is all little girl and no baby.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Layouts from older pictures

I've been going back a few years to scrap some pictures from years gone by. The quality of the pictures is pretty bad compared to what I'm use to now with my great camera, but the memories are still wonderful. The kids are so cute because they want to come and check it all out but they have trouble figuring out who the kids are in the pictures. The babies are usually called Becca and they keep saying that 2 year old Michael looks like Jon. Can you tell who is who? (And no fair squinting to read the dates on the pages.)

Credits: DSD2011 Fresh Start Grab Bag by Find Your Bliss Designs; Font is Jamie by Darcy Baldwin

Credits: Owls in the Hoot Collab by Find Your Bliss Designs and Simply Magic Designs; Fonts are Chris by Darcy Baldwin and Brando

Credits: Owls in the Hoot Collab by Find Your Bliss Designs and Simply Magic Designs; Fonts are Chris by Darcy Baldwin and BidRoman

Credits: Kit is Boys will be Boys by Find Your Bliss Designs and eNKay Design, font is DaunPenh

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Now you know

why I don't like Jon to play with cards.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Basketball lessons

Tim did some research this past weekend on a new basketball system that he wants to teach the 7th grade team he is currently coaching. Now I think that I do a pretty good job keeping up on enough sports so I can talk sports with Tim, but I cannot really get into basketball. When he talks to me about it, I listen and nod, and then after a bit I smile and say, "You know, I really don't care."

So this weekend he took the kids out and taught them the new system so he could practice working it all out. OK, he really took Michael out to teach him, but when you are heading out to play you can never leave Jon and Becca out of it, so they tagged along.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Our tree in the back yard is finally starting to drop leaves. Up until this past weekend we've only raked the front, but the back if finally ready. When I got some piles made, the boys had a few jumps and then went off to play some baseball. But Becca could not get enough. She would run at the pile and at the last minute flip around and fall backwards into the leaves. I didn't get a video of it, but here are some stills showing the process:

It took a while to comb all of the leaves out of her hair.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A new obsession

Jon has decided that this week he is going to pick a new animal to eat lunch with him at the table. This picture shows the day that at his request I cut up some small pieces of lunch for his elephant to eat.

The next day he requested that I make a unique lunch for his bear since his bear didn't like what we were eating for lunch. That is when I put my foot down.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Counting Money

We have been saving change in a jar for a long time now, letting Michael know that when it was full we could use the money to go for a visit to Chuck E Cheese. Apparently we picked a jar that was too big because in two years we haven't filled it. So this week we decided there was enough money to go ahead and empty it anyway.

We stopped by the bank and picked up some coin rolls. The teller was sweet and offered that the downtown branch had a machine but I thought the kids would have more fun (and maybe learn some things) while counting them ourselves. So we poured the money out on the table and then the boys sorted it all and stacked them in piles so we could count them. I was so proud of how well they did.

Michael had 12 stacks of coins in 3 rows of 4. He quickly counted them 4, 8, 12. He has been doing a little bit of multiplication so I showed him how this was multiplication: 3x4 - three rows of four each. He smiled and quickly explained back to me that it could also be 4x3 - four rows of three each: 3, 6, 9, 12. He never stops amazing with how much about math he really understands.

Jon did amazing too. He stayed with the project all the way through, which was more than a half hour. He did a fabulous job sorting coins, even sorting the quarters and nickels. He then continued stacking piles of four or five and counting, counting, counting. He was so proud of himself for being such a big boy.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Here are my cuties from Haloween.

They had a blast trick or treating and even more fun passing out candy at our door. :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Elephant and Piggie

Michael and I are loving this series of early read books:

This is the most recent one we got out of the library - Michael likes then all but of course prefers the ones with balls in them.

So why do we like them?

From Michael's point of view: He can read many of the words and they are full of humor totally appropriate for his age.

From my perspective: They are actually pretty funny. The whole books are written in speech bubbles for what the characters say which is engaging and also easy for me to read some and Michael to read some. Also, they actually tell a story well in easy words to read. Too many of the early read books are "The frog sat on a log" etc and there really is no story development so Michael gets too quickly board with them. But these tell a story with fairly easy words so Michael can read a lot of it.

If you've never seen them before you should check the kids section of your library. :)