Wednesday, September 29, 2010

You Create: Castle Cake

Note: Sara is ill and will not likely be posting for You: Create this week, but I had already planned to post about Kate's cake. So, I will go ahead and post this note and link up when she is feeling better. In the mean time, would you please pray for her health? Thanks!

Kate requested a castle cake again this year. I made it for her two years ago and she wanted it again. It is a two tiered cake. There are three standard rounds on the bottom (required to get the height needed for the door) and then two 6" rounds on the top. It is iced with decorator icing and stacked. I used a kit for the doors, windows and turrets, using almond bark to making the turrets stand on the tray.

Kate watched as I decorated it this time. I have to admit I took a few shortcuts this time. My time is more limited than it was two years ago when I made it for her last and she was impatiently bouncing and asking if I was finished yet. I didn't make all the individual leaves around the base, I just piped a nice green line and dotted it with the pink flowers. I also didn't put all the cones on top--it requires a good bit of work to ice them, and I thought it looked nice when I got those three on, so I left it as it was.

She loved it, and that's what really mattered.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Talking in Church

We were in church Sunday and they had children’s moments up front. Kate was front and center, of course. Gabby stayed with us, of course.

The poor woman who was leading it made the mistake of starting off with a question. She asked if they had ever gotten a nice present. Of course Kate had her birthday party the day before, so she answered right away, not just that she got a magic wand for her present, but a whole back story about how Gam and PawPaw gave her this wand [FYI: which was not her main present at all], even though they didn’t know that she had a wand before and that it was broken.

[Also FYI—our minister is in the middle of a series on how being mixed up in magic is bad and says that kids should not read Harry Potter. I’ll guess he’s not a fan of magic wands. Kate can tell you that magic is pretend, but of course didn’t during church.]

Then the lady gets to her point, which is stewardship. She asked if any of the kids knew what that meant. This was answered with silence. Kate, of course, can’t stand silence, so she pipes up, “I’ve read Stuart Little.” The whole church erupts in laughter. Yes. Now I’m the mom with the kid that says silly things during children’s moments. The gal tells her then she should be really good at saying 'stewardship.'

We’re new though and after that, the kids all filed out to go to children’s church this week, so no one has to know it’s us, right? Ha! After the service an older lady came up to us and asked if she was ours. Then the children’s minister stopped us in the hallway to make a comment about her too. So much for anonymity. Hopefully she won’t every say anything too embarrassing!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Birthday Party

Yesterday we had Kate's birthday party. She asked for two things in specific--a pinata and a castle cake. The pinata she wanted was $20. I really didn't want to spend that much money on something she was just going to break. So instead we made our own out of paper mache. I really wish there had been more time to decorate it, but we were working around Nate's naps and there were days that I planned to work on it that he just didn't cooperate, so it isn't the pretty little thing I had envisioned. That said, she loved it. She even specifically thanked me for making it with her in the middle of the hub-bub of yesterday.

I bought some candy to put in it, and Friday as we were doing some prep work for her party I warned her that I didn't plan to put the entire bag of candy in the pinata. She looked at me with great seriousness and asked, "Can we have three pieces?" She may never know that I had intended to put in about a third of the bag, but she was greatly pleased that I was willing to agree to her 'greedy' demand.

I asked what she wanted for lunch and she asked for sanwhiches and a veggie tray.

We were grateful that we had family here with us to celebrate her day too. My parents and sister were able to make it down to have lunch with her and watch her open presents. The three kids got a swing set from my parents!

Kate received a book from us, but her big gift was to be getting her ears pierced. We asked her over and over if she was sure and every time she nodded confidently. She could tell you how she would have to care for them and that it would hurt when they put them in. She decided against it at the last minute, after the girl already had the earrings out of the sealed package, so we had to buy them anyway. I suppose this will be the first of many lessons in getting what you ask for. I thought she would be more disappointed than she was. She hasn't asked about getting it done since, which is a good thing because I'm not up for taking her back for a very long time!

Tonight she was again demanding--she wants chicken noodle soup, so I put a pot on to boil after church this afternoon.

5 Years

(Sept. 27th 2005)
My first baby is five years old today.

(September 2007)
She went from the teeny-tiny baby that I prayed for over the course of many years

(September 25, 2010)
to an amazing little lady.

She is full of energy and spunk. In the past five years the two of us have been through a lot. She's the little one who first made me a Mama, who taught me how to care for a baby, and showed me what maternal love is all about. She's also the one who has tried me and stretched me. She has made me laugh and made me cry.

(August 2006)
We've lived in 4 states, been separated from her Daddy for awhile due to a move/house sale one more than one occasion.

(August 2007)
We've welcomed two new babies.

(Mother's Day 2008)
We've been through lots of ups and downs.

(Christmas 2009)
She has made me proud of her accomplishments and I love her. For five wonderful years you have been my baby girl, and I am grateful for you.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Eating our way Through Class

As a part of our homeschooling, we're taking a 'tour' of six countries. Part of that has been sampling the cuisine. Some of these have been fairly safe. We eat Italian food already, right? Well, there was the issue of the canoli.... Like, I have made at least one new dish though each time--I've never made my own sweet and sour chicken or lo mein. I also try to involve the girls whenever possible--like I'm not chopping veggies or things are not too hot.

This week we're studying Kenya. I knew the food might be pretty different. I guess if I was going to describe it in any manner at all it would be bland. I'm not sure if the people in Kenya use seasonings that weren't included in the recipes or if they don't season their foods as much as we Westerners do, but I added some salt and pepper to our dinner!

We had Ugali (which is simply cornmeal and water), Nyama Choma (roasted beef ribs), and Kenyan Cabbage (cabbage, tomatoes and onion).

Here's the rest of the fare we've been dishing up around here.

pasta with homemade sauce (Italy)

sweet and sour chicken, lo main, stir fry (China)

This is the girls making rugelach. We also made falafel and bourekas, but I managed to miss getting a picture of it. (Israel)

It's made eating dinner on Wednesdays interesting around here. I'm not sure that anything we've tried new will make it in our regular dinner rotation (there have been some things that some but not all of us like--falafel and bourekas are on that list with lo mein), but it has been a learning experience. Next week is Mexico and after that is Germany, so I'll be looking for things we haven't made here before. I'm seriously considering fried ice cream.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

You Create: Canvas of my Own

So this week I completely stole my idea from Sara. If you haven't seen her painted canvases you've been missing out. They are beautiful, insightful, and inspiring. As wonderful as they are, I know that she's not been able to paint as much as she would like, so I tried, my very unskilled hand at it.

The girls love it, which is great, because as soon as I figure out where I put those picture hangers I'll put it up over their bed.

It is also fitting in that last week Kate and I were studying China, and therefore Chinese art. I told her that calligraphy was a way that they made art in their writing. She was a bit disbelieving at first, but changed her tune when she actually saw some in the book we got from the library. It seemed fitting that they would have written art after that too.

Thank you Sara for the inspiration. And my girls thank you too!

* * * *

Next week should hold a post about Kate's birthday cake!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


So I'm probably to only person on the planet who had to tell her little girls that they had to wait until after church this morning to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day.

It is a big deal at our house for some reason.

The girls are wearing patches and there have been a lot of hearty, "Arrg!"'s exchanged. Kate dubbed herself "Walker the Plank," and Gabby took the name "Braid Beard" from a set of books.

Even the baby has been involved wearing his pirate creeper.

So have a happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

(Oh, and I did cut the girls' hair last night, so if it seems a few inches shorter, its because it is!)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Rocker

Every chair should be a throne, and hold a king

Okay so the little rocking chair isn't exactly a throne, but it was my grandfather's as a little boy. It's had fresh paint and some minor repairs over the years, but it has definitely stood up to a lot of children. There are picture of each of the four of us grandchildren in it. At this point, I'm the only one with little children, so we have the chair and it is technically Gabby's. We got Kate a rocking chair when she was one, so Gabby is using Grandpa's chair now.

Here she is on Christmas morning in 2008. She was so tiny.

This is a picture of Kate taken at my parents' house in the chair as well--she was 8 1/2 months old.

And of course Nate had to have a turn too.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

You Create: Crayon Bags

I have never been one to take a lot of toys along to entertain my kids. One, I don't want to loose a lovey that we have to live without or try to replace. Two, I want my kids to interact with the people around them. I have started taking crayons to church though, since that can be a long time for a two year old to sit quietly. I know it is too long for some adults to sit quietly to, but that's another issue entirely! I've just been putting a small pack in my purse, but as much as I love Crayola, their boxes were not designed to hold up to little kids' abuse, being tossed into and out of purses and dropped repeatedly onto pews and the floor. We needed something more lasting. So to that end, I made the girls little bags to hold their crayons.

Two straight seams with zigzag to reinforce--they could also be lined easily

The finished products

They were simple little bags with two seams each, a turned down edge, and a zipper. The zippers were my only cost, as the fabric was scrap from other projects--and they were on sale half off at Hobby Lobby. The girls promptly removed their crayons so they could play with them around the house--crayons aren't allowed free run in the house (they must be used at the table, so we don't wind up with murals on our walls).

Happy creating!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

One Month In

We've been homeschooling for about a month now. It's been a crazy busy whirlwind (though who could expect anything less since we did it without any preparation, prior planning, or purchased curriculum), but as hectic as it has been, I have to say, I never dreamed I would enjoy it so very much. Okay, I'll admit I was always a bit of nerd and I was a teacher because I truly loved learning, so I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised that this is so fun. I got a workbook in the mail over the weekend and I was just giddy. It looks like so much fun. I can hardly stand to wait until after Christmas to start on it.

Homeschooling has also brought with it some unintended benefits. One of the primary reasons we had origionally abandoned the idea of homeschool for public school was because Kate and I clash fairly regularly, especially when it comes to me teaching her something new. A definite plus to this new arrangement is that we are having to practice this multiple times every day now and it has gotten better. That's not to say I never close my eyes as she sits in my lap during reading time and just will her to quit fighting with it, but we're both gaining ground on this.

I'm also loving that I know what she's learning. And my is she learning! Her reading skills have flourished. She was able to write a little paragraph today and I helped her with a couple (literally two or three) of the letter sounds and the writing of only one of the letters--she started off only being able to write the letters in her first name and a few others.

I like that her interactions with other kids her age are limited. I know that this is a reason that many people opt against homeschool entirely, under the feeling that they need to allow their child to be socialized. For Kate, however, I was very fearful of what that would mean. She's very bright, but socially she wants to be accepted, regardless of the cost. If others are doing it, she hops right in. I felt she really needed some more time to mature before being pushed in to situations where she's not fairly closely monitored--she would have been the very youngest in her kindergarten class had she gone. She does play with other children outside of our home, but I was glad that today I was there to watch and be able to talk to her about it afterward, so she learns appropriate behavior.

Another side benefit is that Nate has gotten on a nap schedule. The girls had fallen into a schedule on their own, but Nate never really had. He isn't much of a sleeper and never has been. He started off sleeping at night right away, but doesn't require a lot of rest. As Kate and I were working I started noticing that there were times that he needed my undivided attention, which had not been problematic before, but now was, so I put him to bed and off he went to sleep.

Of course Miss Gabriella is learning some of what we're studying too. She's not with us all the time, but she has picked up some numbers and letters. She particularly likes to study money and cooking with us. She's also great at occupying Nate's attention while I'm working with Kate.

Then there is the benefit to me. It does eat up a good bit of time that I was actually planning to have more of this fall, but for the most part, it is fun. I get to pick what we do and how we learn it, so it is less like work and more like play. It also gives me something to talk about. I was getting awfully boring here in TN. I don't have any friends here yet, so it is nice that when Justin comes home in the evening I actually have something to tell him about our day. Plus I get to do arts and crafts, read tons of books, and play in the office/school supply section. Who could ask for more?

Monday, September 13, 2010

10 months!

The time seems to be passing so quickly these days and another month has gone. The little man is becoming less baby and more little boy each day.

He's wearing 9 month or 12 month clothes. He's still a peanut in size (he was in the 25-30% for both weight and height at his last well check this past month), but he makes up for it in personality and movement. He's a little dare devil.

He's up to six teeth, though he's not the best eater. He's too busy trying to climb out of the high chair to go play!

He likes to climb things--(like out of his high chair), on top of his ride on toy or a chair, and into the dishwasher.

He's taking a few steps. What I hadn't really paid much mind to until this week is that he doesn't start walking from objects, he starts by standing himself in the middle of the room. Thinking back, that's not how the girls did it, but I hadn't really considered how different that was until a friend pointed it out.

He's starting to say a few things, something that sounds like 'good' when he's happy or likes something. He looks for Justin in the morning and asks for him and even tries to say the girls' names. I left the house Saturday and Justin said he kept going to the washing machine looking for me--maybe I really do spend too much time on laundry!

Happy 10 months little man!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

You Create: Birthday Invites

We're reaching birthday season around here. In fact in the course of less than 8 weeks everyone in the house has a birthday except Justin. Add in a healthy dose of our families birthdays (Justin's dad, my mom, and my sister all fall in that time too) and that's a lot of cake! I debated on how to do invitations for the kiddos parties. I finally settled on making them individual invitations and sending them together, so that we wouldn't have a lot of guests for Kate (being the first) and no one for the others. We'll see how it goes.

I tried to make the invitations fit who they are right now and the theme of their little parties. We don't do big expensive themed parties, but I make their cakes something fun--in the next few weeks we should have a castle cake (Kate requested it again), a lady bug cake, and a Cat in the Hat cake. Here are the invites I made: