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Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
*Read more about the importance of family rituals and traditions in this month's Fishful Thinking newsletter!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Of course, the begging continues as I ignore his pleas...
"MOM! I WANT SOME FRUIT SNACKS!"
So Abby decides to step in and says, "Noah, what is the magic word?"
"RUMPEL-STIL-STIN!" he blurts out.
Such a jokester, that boy of mine. :)
Sunday, December 12, 2010
(Click here to see the full screen!)
After watching this, I asked Noah "If you had been there when Jesus was born what present would you have given him?"
He said, "A baby rattle."
Makes perfect sense to me. :)
*To see more snippets of true Christmas spirit, click here!
Sunday, December 5, 2010
As well she should be...
Even telling that boy that the elves planted secret video cameras in the Christmas tree hasn't made a bit of difference.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Last month, our family started working on individual Grateful Sayings posters (another great idea from Fishful Thinking- http://www.fishfulthinking.com/Emotional-Awareness/ActivityGratefulSayings) to share on Thanksgiving day. Like it says in the activity description, making this a month long activity really helps us remember that gratitude is something we need to express each day for all of the good things in our lives - whether they are big or small. With Christmas just around the corner (can you believe it?), I thought we'd continue to add to our gratitude posters and see if we can get the whole thing filled up - both front and back! :)
*To see our poster from last year, click here! This is definitely an activity that I'd like our family to continue to do for many Thanksgivings (and Christmases) to come!
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Of course, Abby wanted a makeover too. Noah was putting a little blush on her when Daddy swooped in and told his boy to come into the living room and watch some FOOTBALL! (Nice save, dear. I'm sure Noah will thank you one day.)
Good thing that Daddy didn't see Noah with the Hello Kitty fingernail polish earlier. Still, sporting multi-colored toenails (around the house), courtesy of my kiddos, will definitely Make My Monday.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
We had lost touch over the years, but we had reconnected on facebook about a year and a half ago. It was neat to catch up, see pictures of her five beautiful children, watch the progress on the building of their new house, etc...
It seems surreal. I keep thinking of her children. The youngest one is five - just a little bit older than Noah. It's heartbreaking. And although her family has such great faith and knows they will see her again one day, I can't even imagine how much they miss her. And how much she must miss them.
I held my kids tighter today. I asked for extra kisses and hugs. I didn't get bent out of shape about the huge mess they made in the living room (again). We read a second bedtime story. I laid with Abby for an extra long time tonight because she couldn't fall asleep and sang her songs and tickled her arm. After they were in bed, instead of grumbling about doing another load of laundry, I thought about how grateful I am to have their little clothes to wash. How grateful I am to be their mom. How each day I have with them is a gift.
And for that I am truly thankful.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Today, however, I knew that most likely Noah would be getting those dreaded Kindergarten shots - the same ones that I didn't know Abby would get at her four-year-old appointment until the doctor came in and said, "She'll need to get four shots today." Nice.
But today, I expected that may be the case so I thought maybe if I prepped Noah a little bit and told him that he might have to get a shot today and that if he was brave we would go to the dollar store and he could pick out TWO toys, maybe it would help to lessen the drama.
Um...nope. It didn't help one bit. He freaked out. He did calm down finally and was fine during the drive to the office and for the first part of the appointment. He was so cute with those headphones on during the hearing test, pointing to his ears. But as soon as the nurse mentioned, actually spelled the word S-H-O-T-S in the doctor's office, the boy went ballistic.
Abby needed to get one too (surprise!) so she immediately cowered behind me, gripping the tail of my shirt, tears streaming down her face.Usually, Daddy comes to these check-up appointments with us for this VERY reason. I've only held Abby for shots once when she was a baby, and that was it for me. I feel so bad that they are upset that I want to cry right along with them. (A wimp, I know.) But for today's appointment, I thought I'd be able to handle it. The kids are older. I can reason with them better. I can bribe them with dollar store toys and ice cream. It should be fine.
Abby went first. I had to coax her out of the corner and wrap myself around her like a pretzel. She screamed when the needle went in, but then it was done. So much for putting on a brave face for little brother. Then with Noah....it was awful. He's scrambling to hide under the chair. He's flailing his arms. He knocks me over as I'm bending down to pick him up. He was inconsolable. Poor kid. I wanted to bawl my eyes out too. I tried to laugh instead, but I could feel the lump in my throat. Why, oh why, did I not have Pat come with us? What was I thinking?
But I forced myself to stay strong. These are booster shots for heaven's sake, it's not like he's losing an arm! Get yourself together, woman!
So I did. It took three of us to hold him down, but I laid over Noah and kept telling him "It's okay. We're almost done." I even started to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". His favorite. I barely got to "Cracker Jacks", and it was over.
It took us a few minutes to recoup. Poor Abby was watching the whole thing and feeling major sympathy pains along with the sting in her arm. But it was nothing that two lollipops, a Barbie and Mega truck sticker, a trip to the Dollar Store, and baby cone with "sprinkles and candy eyes" couldn't cure.
I even got a scoop of Oreo ice cream for myself.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Abby decides to enlist in the effort of trying to convince Noah to eat his food (since the bribery and threats from Mom and Dad weren't working). They are going back and forth, and then she asks him, "Noah, don't you like beans?"
He looks up from his food and says to her, very matter of fact, "Yes...I like JELLY beans!"
Oh, that boy of mine...
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Abby has been into putting on her apron and baker's hat lately and doing "a cooking show". She narrates it and everything. I may have a little Julia Child on my hands - definitely doesn't get it from me. She tried to convince me that she could put the pan in the oven too, but I wasn't quite ready to let her take it that far. I should have taken an "after" picture too of the finished product, but they were so good, we ate 'em up before I had the chance. We'll have to make them again closer to Thanksgiving along with these chocolate marshmallow pilgrim hats we made a couple of years ago - good stuff!
Since the kids are older now, maybe the process won't be quite so messy this time around...MAYBE.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
This year the tour centered on the infinite power of HOPE. The messages from the speakers and musicians - Hilary Weeks, Michael McLean, Amanda Dickson, Emily Freeman, Merrilee Boyack, Mariama Kallon (to name a few) - were completely inspirational. I laughed. I cried. I sang (- gotta love audience participation). And I SLEPT uninterrupted in a nice Marriott hotel room that was completely free! YAY for a friend with reward points! As an extra bonus, we got to bring donations and help put together HOPE kits (full of hygiene items & a written message of hope) for a local women's shelter during the lunch break. The goal for the event was 120 kits, but with all of the donations and women on the "assembly line", over 300 kits were made! Awesome.
Everytime I go to one of these events (this is my fourth), I take TONS of notes. I have a little Time Out journal that was one of the giveaways a few years ago - along with those cute tote bags. It's all about the free tote bag, ya know. :) I really want to remember the spiritual messages shared and "a-ha moments" that I have during the talks and performances. For me though, it's the music that always seems to touch me the most. And this time around, Hilary Weeks performed this song - one that I've listened to it on CD several times before, but to see it performed only five rows away, at this time in my life, was a whole different experience.
by Hilary Weeks
The minutes tick by, lost in the moonlight
As the day echoes through her mind
She wasn't enough
She wonders if she ever will be
Mistakes are all she sees in the shadows of the night
But she forgets when the guilt fades from memory
She forgets about...
The good things she's done
The kind words she's said
The tiny victories that no one sees
And the changes she's made
And when the count comes in
As she's adding up the day
In the midst of the "coulds" and "shoulds"
Help her remember all the good
I've given my all
I've run until I'm weary
And I reach up every time I fall
I know who I am
I feel it deep within me
But the best of me hides
While my weaknesses all shine
And I forget until He patiently reminds me
I forget about...
The good things I've done
The kind words I said
The tiny victories that no one sees
And the changes I've made
And when the count comes in
As I'm adding up the day
In the midst of the "coulds" and "shoulds"
Help me remember
He looks on the heart
Fills in the missing pieces
And we can be sure
That He knows and won't forget
The good things we've done
The kind words we've said
The tiny victories He surely sees
And the changes we've made
As the day comes to a close
And we've done all we could
Look through the mirror of His love
And He will show us
All the good
It was just what I needed to hear.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Since we're doing the homeschool thing this year, I thought I'd use the candy to our "educational advantage" and do a math activity with Abby. On Thursday morning, I had her sort through her candy again, create categories, and helped her make a simple bar graph on large tablet paper. As she sorted through those 67 pieces (which she counted exactly), we talked about words to describe the candy & wrote them on index cards for our "Adjective Word Wall" - chewy, sticky, sweet, hard, crunchy... - a little twist on the Savoring Food activity from Fishful Thinking that helps promote Emotional Awareness and Optimism:
Select various food/snacks... Eat one of the items you selected and notice all the different tastes and textures. Take turns naming out loud something you notice...Repeat this with the other foods. Take an index card and list as many attributes of the food as you can.
An activity using Halloween candy that builds math, language, and positive-thinking skills all at the same time, and it was fun too! If only all of our school activities could be like this...
Saturday, October 30, 2010
2) Hay Ride
3) Pumpkin Patch
4) Pumpkin House
5) Paint Pumpkins (as Daphne & Shaggy)
6) Decorate Sugar Cookies
7) Fall Festival & Trunk-or-Treat
Still To Come:
8) More trick-or-treating & watching the 1st Harry Potter movie Saturday night (hoping it's not too scary)
9) Giant scary face pancakes on Sunday morning, church, make pumpkin squares (for the 1st time), & go to a mini-Halloween party
10 ) CRASH :/ (and sneak a few pieces of the kids' candy. After all this, us moms deserve it!)
Thursday, October 28, 2010
But over the past few months, I feel like that voice is questioning EVERYTHING - my organizational skills, my teaching skills, my parenting skills...and cooking chicken? I've completely given up. But with the other stuff? Those are things I used to feel pretty good about...not that I had mastered any of those skills by any means, but the voice wasn't there.
As I've thought about it and OVERthought about it, I've figured out that THAT is my problem. Overthinking. I've been putting way too much pressure on myself - thinking that I need to make this the best homeschool experience ever, feeling I need to justify my decision to do this to others and myself, and fearing that I'm going to let my kids down if I'm not doing some awesome activity every second of the day. It's ridiculous, I know. My kids are six and four. They are happy playing with playdough. And even though, deep down I know that - the negative chatter is still there, and it annoys the heck out of me.
So I've been trying to get rid of the "mental clutter" as it's called in the Bag It Up Resilience activity on the Fishful Thinking website. I love how these activities that are designed to build up our kids are helpful for parents to do too -
Bag it Up - You can help your child to take stock of the "mental clutter." Start by sharing an example of a negative perception that you want to get rid of. Write the perception on a slip of paper and then put it into a bag labeled "throw aways" and then toss it in the garbage. After you've given your example, ask your child to come up with examples of his or her own.
My kids are still young enough that we haven't done this activity together yet, but I wrote my own list. The idea of throwing those self-criticisms into the trash is empowering! And lately, when that inner critic starts chatting it up, that's what I've been trying to think of - balling up those negative thoughts and throwing them away. Not that self-criticism is always a bad thing. It can help us improve and be better people, but when we focus too much on the negatives and not enough on the good things we are doing, the perception we have of ourselves can get pretty out of whack.
So Ms. Self Critic - who cares if the chicken is overdone? I can make a mean batch of Rice Krispie treats any day of the week - blindfolded.
*For more on fighting that inner critic, check out this month's Fishful Thinking newsletter by Dr. Karen Reivich.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Last year, it was the Corn Crib.
This year, it was the Cotton Jump.
It must be a Southern thing. :)
Thursday, October 21, 2010
So while I am loading the dishwasher, I hear the front door open.
"Noah! Come back in here."
He peeks around the door and immediately starts singing with the biggest smile on his face -
"This is the Mom Song, and moms are great! Moms are better than chocolate cake!!!"
As cute as he was (and he knew it!), Noah still had to wait until later to go outside. Who knew that a four-year-old could be so manipulative? Geez...
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
And in the midst of all that, I taught five children's dance classes, helped Abby ride her bike for the first time in the culdesac WITHOUT TRAINING WHEELS (super exciting!!!), had a youth activity on Weds. night, and did homeschool stuff. Now, of course, a lot of those activities count as school time, but I was exhausted. I actually wasn't planning on the pumpkin patch on Saturday, but Pat wasn't going to be able to go with us on Monday with the homeschool group so the kids wanted to go on Saturday with Daddy instead. And it was HOT! Record highs for this time of year, in fact. Not that I am complaining about warm weather, as we all know I am not a fan of the cold, but the sun was just beating down. No shade anywhere.
I guess I looked pretty rough towards the end (I felt it too!) because a lady who worked there actually came up to me and asked if I was okay. I guess she thought I was going to faint or something so she insisted on giving me an ice cold water out of her cooler. We had just finished our last water bottle so she was a lifesaver!
So, with all that, the thought of driving back out to the honey farm on Monday (in record high temps) was not all that appealing. Luckily, when I asked Abby about it, she started freaking out a little about the thought of seeing all the bees anyway. Not that I want her to be afraid, but I figured I could use her fear to my advantage this one time, and we'd skip it - which we did. Phew!
As much as I want to do these extra activities and such with the kids, sometimes it's good just to relax a bit and do things at home. I guess I worry that if I don't do these more exciting things outside of the house that Abby will get bored with homeschool or won't think it's as fun as being in the classroom. I have this terrible fear that she is going to say, "Mom, I miss school. I don't want to do homeschool anymore." Not that we are planning to do this for good. We don't know yet, but I do want to at least try it for this one year, see how it pans out, and take advantage of this extra time together. But I also want this year to be a good experience for her and for Noah too. And despite my secret fears and second-guessing myself every five seconds, it has been going pretty well...I think.
So this week, we are taking it easy - making paper boats, doing candy corn math, playing with pizza fractions, reading stories, and just going to the library club and Daisy Scouts this week. And if we need some extra excitement, I can always turn the bath water BLUE again.
Nancy, Kat, and the Robins Fam!
Rest assured that the random selection process was handled most carefully (aka - I had my kids pick three numbers between 1-7 - doesn't get much more random than that).
You'll be receiving an email with more details about your membership very soon!
I'm sure you and YOUR KIDS will love it as much as we do!
* If you haven't checked out the Zoodles yet, it's a great Kid-Safe Browser that searches the web for FUN, age-appropriate, & educational games for your kids. It even has an Art Studio feature! It's easy enough for the kids to navigate independently and has all kinds of cool parent features too including setting time limits, blocking ads, weekly email summaries, etc...
The premium features have a small monthly fee but the browser is always FREE!!!
Monday, October 11, 2010
Thank goodness for *You Tube (and the pause & rewind buttons) or I would not have been able to pull this off this morning - How to Make a Paper Boat. After just a few minutes, the kids and I made "the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria" to go along with our Christopher Columbus lesson today. We were about to set sail in the bathtub when I decided that adding a BLUE food coloring to the water would really help to them remember that famous rhyme - "Columbus sailed the ocean BLUE in 1492!" The kids really got a kick out of that. Then they were off - huffing and puffing to see who could blow their boat across the tub first!
The boats only float for a few minutes before the paper gets completely soaked. We made a dozen boats or so and even threw in some science testing out which types of paper held up the longest.
For a last minute lesson plan, it turned out great! And I was especially relieved that the food coloring didn't stain the bathtub.
*The Zoodles giveaway winners will be posted tomorrow!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
1) Watching Abby take her sweet time to create a "fairy house".
Just to name a few. :)
Another great perk to homeschooling is also the Zoodles site which finds age appropriate games that make learning fun - because Mama needs some down time every once in awhile. And the kids LOVE playing on the computer. Zoodles has been such a great resource! After creating a "playground" for each of my kids specialized for their age group, all I do is click on the Zoodles icon on my desktop and a ton of great games pop up for the kids to choose from and play independently. It's so easy for them to navigate that I don't have to do a thing!
As part of the parent features, I can set time limits, block ads, and even block certain shows or characters. (Sorry, Spongebob.) With the lesson planning and such I'm doing these days, it's such a time saver too because the browser finds games in all subject areas. I can ask Abby to find a reading, math, or even a science game, and she's quickly able to look through the choices and find one. Noah The weekly email summaries are really helpful too so that I can see how much time the kids have spent on each subject for the last few days. There's also a Parent Play-Along mode so I can join in on computer time if I'd like, but the kids don't usually like to share the keyboard with me.
What's really cool about this kid-safe browser is that it's always FREE! Of course, you can sign up for a trial period which includes the premium features like setting time limits, blocking characters, weekly email summaries, etc...then after that there's a small fee each month for those features OR you can leave me a comment (today through Monday, Oct.11th) and be randomly chosen as one of THREE WINNERS of a 3 month PREMIUM membership - the same one that the Zoodles team gave to me so I could check out the site and all of its great perks!
So leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway, and I will announce the winners next Tuesday afternoon, Oct.12th!
Friday, October 1, 2010
Did I take advantage of our current homeschool status to visit friends & family, explore a BIG city, experience public transportation, visit the Field museum, and see actual dinosaur bones including the most complete T-Rex skeleton in the world? Did we visit the famous Millennium Park, go to the slighty-over-the-top American Girl store, feed carriage horses in Ghiradelli Square, and play a few games of foozball with Grandie & Grandad for the very first time?
And did I mention that Chicago is also the home to the world's LARGEST McDonald's?
Complete with its own "museum" and Happy Meal artifacts...
How's about that for an American history lesson?
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli
*BTW - Next week, I'll be posting a giveaway for something that's been another really helpful resource during our "homeschool experiment"! Hope you'll stop by!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Finally, the big day arrived! The house was cleaned, grocery shopping was done, outings were planned...and then we get a phone call.
"My flight has been canceled."
And instead of the ticket agent trying to get my mom on another flight, in the midst of the craziness, the agent refunds the ticket!
Long story short, it was going to be at least three weeks until my mom could get another ticket for the same price. Otherwise, she'd have to pay at least double to come any sooner.
The kids were so upset. Of course, I was really disappointed too. Adding three more weeks to our countdown seemed like forever. So I get this bright idea - maybe I could be brave and drive up to Chicago with the kids (by myself) and visit my mom instead. (She and my step-dad are living there for a couple of years for my step-dad's job, and we're the only ones in the family who haven't been to visit yet.) I talked to my mom about about using the refunded ticket money for gas money, and she thought it was a great idea! What a great homeschool "field trip" this would be too - staying in the big city, museums, seeing a giant T-Rex skeleton, Millennium park, Lake Michigan, American Girl store, restaurants, bakeries...how could I pass this up?
As an extra bonus, I could stop and see a friend and her kids (whom I've never seen in person) along the way, and visit my cute little niece and nephew too. I told the kids about the idea and Noah started stuffing things into his backpack right away - "I'm all packed, Mom!" It was 3/4 full of toys and 1/4 full of clothes - his "basketball shirt", pajama bottoms, a t-shirt, and khaki shorts. So cute.
The next morning, feeling confident about the drive, I went to get an oil change and started getting things ready, but by that afternoon, I started feeling nervous. I'd never driven that far on my own before. I'm not really an impulsive person (with the exception of bringing home a puppy a few months back, and I've been paying for that - let me tell ya). I was having all kinds of doubts. Later that afternoon, I texted my mom, "I'm feeling nervous about the drive. Would you be upset if I changed my mind?" She said she would understand. I knew the kids would be upset, but I figured I could make it up to them with dollar movies and ice cream cones - maybe. Still, I was feeling really torn..and did I mention, nervous???
*Part 2 to come (and a GIVEAWAY)!!!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Not too long ago, I read about this idea in Family Fun magazine to have your kids create a "crayon masterpiece" and send it in to Color A Smile - a non-profit organization that distributes children's artwork to nursing home residents and Meals on Wheels recipients. I had no idea that such an organization existed - loved this idea! So I recruited our new homeschool group to do this simple service activity and sent in about twenty smiley pictures drawn by kiddos ages 2-7. It's so awesome that there are neat opportunities out there for little helping hands. The kids were all really excited about their pictures knowing that they would be helping to make someone smile!
My kids and I really enjoy doing these types of activities together. As I read in August's Fishful Thinking newsletter - Encouraging Random Acts of Kindness (by Dr. Reivich) - There are no limits to the way you can practice kindness; the key word is practice. As a family, make the practicing of kindness a positive habit. You and your children will feel happier with the knowledge that you are bringing happiness to others.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
What is "beautiful" about your child?
Just reading this question made me all teary-eyed. There are so many days that I wonder what I did to deserve these beautiful kiddos. They have such sweet spirits and so much love to give. I love seeing their eyes light up when they learn something new. Their laughter and smiles are contagious, and I'm grateful for each day I have with them.
Friday, September 3, 2010
But Abby was reading The Little Red Hen. The kids had made stick puppets earlier that week and put on a little puppet show re-enacting the story. (So cute!) We had to make homemade bread!!! We even went to a friend's house for a playdate who told me exactly how to make it. She actually gave me her recipe card. She even let me borrow her Kitchen-Aid and gave me a candy thermometer to measure the temp of the water. "Just don't kill the yeast, and you'll be good," she told me.
How could I mess this up?
Um, yeah. You should have seen me just trying to pick out the right flour at the grocery store - and getting the water temp, right? You don't want to know.
Still, the kids had tons of fun and didn't seem bothered by my domestic disabilities.
So much for a big, fluffy loaf of bread...
But it was worth making it, just to get this picture...
And with a little butter and honey, it was even edible.
Hosted by Lisa and Cecily