Monday, November 1, 2010

Operation Christmas Child

One of the things we have done for the past couple years is fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. This year, again, we are, only this year Eliana has much more of a say in the matter. She has suggestions for what to put in the box, as well as an opinion on the gender of the child. (girl, ages 5-9) She wants to give it to someone she knows, but we have been talking about the kids around the world who do not get gifts every year like she and her friends do, and how they would really appreciate someone caring enough to send them something.

I keep a stash of gifts on hand so that I am not stressed when a birthday party comes up, so the first thing we did was raid the stash for things the little girl might like. So far she has...

* a hello kitty tote bag
* 2 washcloths
* a bouncy ball
* a squiggly straw
* Elmo "Go Fish" game
* Sunglasses
* Small kite
* Pink and purple rubber ducky
* Stencils
* Dental Floss
* Toothbrush (I keep those on hand for guests)
* Notepads
* Princess stickers
* Mints

Then Eliana and I went through and made a shopping list of things she thought the girl would like to have in her box. So far the list includes:

* Pencils
* Sharpener
* Crayons
* Stamps and Ink Pad
* Coloring book
* Picture book
* Dolls
* Stuffed animals
* Slinky
* Toothpaste
* Soap
* Comb / brush
* Play jewelry
* Hair clips
* Shirt
* Skirt
* Socks

I am not sure that we'll be able to get all those things, or fit all those things in the box, but it is nice to get Eliana to start thinking about what other people would like. Sometime later this week (probably Wednesday after gymnastics) we will head to Target and see what we can find to finish filling the shoebox.

Eliana also wants to make a Christmas card for the little girl, and I think that's a great idea! Perhaps we'll include a picture of Eliana so the little girl knows who it came from.

We are also going to take advantage of the EZGive online donation this year, including the shoebox tracker! So this year we actually get to know where our shoebox is going and can track it online. I am excited about that!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Online Stories

When I was in Barnes and Noble the other day, I noticed a sign that said they had an online storytime and this month's book was Where The Wild Things Are, one of Eliana's favorites. We like to read this book in October, because it is sort of Halloweeny, without being too focused on the scary, spooky things. It's read aloud by the author, which is kind of cool!

They also have Olivia, Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (one of my favorite poems from elementary school!), and a few others. How fun!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


It looks like we are settling into a schedule here. I'm hoping that will continue, and be a good thing. It's not exactly down to a science yet, but here's approximately what we have going on...

Monday - Home Day

On days that we're home, it means Eliana gets up, dressed, breakfast, then has some sort of activity to keep her busy. Sometimes the activity is with me. Sometimes it's by herself. Sometimes she has wild imaginative play, and others she runs like crazy outside. No matter what the activity, it gets her energy out and she plays long and hard. She usually has a snack somewhere during her play, then it continues until lunch time.

After lunch, Eliana has quiet time. It might be nap time, if she is having a rough day. It might just be time to read on her bed. Today she was allowed to listen to an audio book. Other days she just has to stay in her room for an hour. She seems to need the down time, so I think this is good for her.

After quiet time we have some quality time. Maybe reading books together, or playing a game, or going to a park... Whatever we do, she has my full attention and she knows it.

Tuesday - Josie Here

On Tuesdays, Ellie's friend Josie comes over from 9-3. We follow more or less the same schedule as a home day, with play, snack, play, lunch, quiet time (usually a movie), and then quality time once Josie goes home.

Wednesday - Fun Day

Wednesdays are going to be Eliana's busy day this year, but I've hopefully planned it in such a way that she can maintain her basic schedule without becoming overwhelmed.

10:30-11:15 - We have signed Eliana up for gymnastics in Bozeman. She has been asking ALL summer if she can be a "gymnastics girl" in the fall, so we're going to give it a try.

After gymnastics, we'll have lunch (maybe at a park with a picnic lunch, maybe stop for lunch someplace fun, maybe just head home for lunch) and head home for quiet time in the afternoon.

3:30-5:15 - We are going to have Eliana in AWANA this year. I think she is going to love it! I know I really enjoyed AWANA in my growing up years, so we're going to give it a try. We don't have a strong sunday school program at our church, so I feel like she needs some additional structured Bible time, and AWANA can provide that.

5:30-8:30 - Every other week this is date night for us, and on the off weeks it is date night for Josie's parents. So Eliana will get to spend this time with Josie. I'm thinking it will be largely play, dinner, then quiet down with a movie or story time before bed.

Thursday - Josie's House

Thursdays are my Ellie free day and she spends from 9-3 at Josie's house. I have no idea what they do there, I just know that Ellie loves it and she comes home worn out and ready for some quiet time. =D

Friday - Home / Gym Day?

Eliana likes being at home. I, however, am not a homebody. I like to go and do. I also have a Mary Kay business, and need some regular hours for meeting with clients and making deliveries. That's what I do on Thursday. I need a separate time for running errands for our household, since I can only seem to do one or the other on Thursdays. There is a program that Ellie can go to at Lone Mountain from 12-4 on Fridays (or Mondays or Wednesdays, but I really see this as a Friday thing...). They have lunch (from home), quiet time, and activities. I have been impressed by Lone Mountain when we were there for swim lessons, so I think this will be a good program. Again, we're going to give it a try.

I'm not sure how the whole schedule is going to work, but we're going to try it. This week got messed up because of Labor Day and Josie being here on Friday instead of today, but I think we'll get the hang of it eventually. =D

Thursday, June 17, 2010

While the basement floor was torn up...

... we took advantage of the bare concrete and did some fun painting!!

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I just rolled out the paper, squirted some paint, and let Ellie paint with her hands and feet to her heart's content! She had a lot of fun!

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A New Park

Yesterday we were driving about town, headed to the Dinosaur Park, when we passed this little park. It's one we'd never come across before, so we took the opportunity to stop and play!

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Ellie liked it because she could pretend it was a castle and because there were "rings that are just my size!!!"

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I liked it because there was a covered pavilion with tables right next to the play area where I could rest in the shade and still interact with Ellie!

I wish I could tell you where this park was, because it's a little gem! I anticipate that we will stop and play at it again, especially if we ever go driving down that road again! I guess it will be like a treasure hunt for us!

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Monday, May 24, 2010

The Family Altar

In my Friday morning Bible Study we are reading a book called "The Secrets of the Secret Place" by Bob Sorge. The most recent chapter I read talked about the "Family Altar" or a time for parents to sit down with their children daily and teach them about God's word. While I think the term "Family Altar" is cheesy, I think he makes a good point that we as parents ought to be teaching even our very young children how to spend time with God daily, through the Bible and prayer.

So this morning Eliana and I picked up Egermeier's Bible Story Book (which was a baby gift from some friends of ours from Iowa) and started reading. I am sure that, as in my own daily time with the Lord, consistency is going to be my biggest struggle. But what better way to teach her how to work through inconsistency and failure, than to demonstrate it myself? To pick myself up each time I fall and show her how to brush herself off and keep going?

Our time this morning wasn't long, it wasn't "deep", and it wasn't over her head. It consisted of reading a short story from the book (2 pages?) and then talking about it. I started at the beginning, so we talked about creation. There are questions in the back of the book for discussion, but she didn't have the attention span or patience for it this morning, so I didn't push it. When she started giving me silly answers to things I know she knows (Who created the earth? Um... Goliath the rabbit!!) I decided we were done. Perhaps we'll talk about it throughout the day. I don't know. But I do know that I got to spend time with my daughter this morning, snuggling and reading, and sharing with her about the God that I love. And that is pretty much priceless.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Flower Crayons

Ellie's best friend Josie is having a birthday today. In anticipation, we decided to make her a gift. Ellie needed a project to do, and I needed to come up with something quickly. So here's what we came up with... Flower Crayons!

Here's how it works... Take the pile of broken crayons you've accumulated and peel off the wrappers. Then cut the crayons into smaller pieces that will fit into the pan you've chosen. This part should be done by an adult, though kids could break the thinner crayons into smaller pieces.

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We chose a Wilton silicone pan (I love those things!) with flower shapes for this one. We also have these pans with gingerbread men and hearts, so I think this would be fun to repeat for various holiday gifts. Here's what our pan looks like:

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Have your kiddo put the crayons into the pan. Colors can be combined for solid color crayons, or varied for a designed look. Ellie had a lot of fun with this part!

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Here's what they looked like before we popped them in the oven:

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Put them in the oven at 275 degrees.

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Then wait 7-8 minutes, or until they're melted.

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Have your kids back up from the oven, then take out the melted crayons, very carefully! I recommend using a cookie sheet under your pan, especially if you use a flexible silicone pan like I did. When you pull them out, they'll look something like this:

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As they cool, you might notice them looking cloudy and muted. The vibrant colors seemed to sink to the bottom, while the waxy layer floated to the top. It may have just been the crayons I used (though I used a mixture of them, so who knows), but here's what they looked like as they cooled:

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When they are COMPLETELY cool (putting them in the fridge seemed to help little minds forget that they were waiting for the crayons to be cooled, and helped the process go faster - out of sight, out of mind?), pop them out of the mold and you've got something like this:

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Because we were giving some of these as a gift, I discovered that they fit perfectly in the long skinny bags Wilton makes for wrapping large pretzel sticks. We could easily fit 5 of these crayons in one sleeve, with room to tie the top or put a topper on it.

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It was a fun project, and it didn't take long from start to finish, or make a big mess in the process. That's my kind of project to do with Eliana!!

This last year we have been working on the idea of gift giving with Eliana. I generally purchase kids' gifts ahead of time and store them in the "gift bucket" in our gift wrapping closet. I find that I can stock up on kid appropriate gifts when I see them at a good price, and then I don't have to rush around to find a gift right before the party. Because of this, Eliana is not usually part of the gift buying experience, though, so I've been trying to work on teaching her about gifts without changing the way I approach them. So... for every party we go to, she also gets to pick out or make a gift for the child. Sometimes (in the fall, when several of her friends have birthdays clustered together) it means we take a trip to the dollar store and she gets to pick out a special gift for each of her friends just from her. I more or less give her free reign here, because 1) it's a buck, and 2) she needs to feel like the gift is actually from her. The rules are that she has to pick something appropriate for the child (a princess wand wouldn't be appropriate for a boy who is into trucks, for example) and she has to have the understanding that this gift is for THEM, not her. She doesn't get to keep it. I do, however, let her pick one thing for herself when we are buying a group of gifts at the same time. I probably don't need to, but it helps her not get distracted by all the things she wants when she has to pick several things for other kids, and also rewards her for being thoughtful to her friends.

If we just have one party to go to, or haven't bought Ellie's gift, I like to have her make a gift for her friend, like the one above. We spend the time talking about why giving gifts is kind, choosing the nicest ones for her friend and keeping the flawed ones for herself, etc.

I also have Eliana make a batch of birthday cards a couple times a year. I thought I posted the batch of cards she made this fall, but I can't find them, so I guess I didn't. It's about time for us to make more, though, since she is out of them. Perhaps we'll do that today. I like having her make the cards for her friends, and then practice writing their name and her name inside. It's not always legible, but I want her to get it into her head that it's from her. =D It's also good writing practice for her, since I am not nearly as consistent with writing practice as I'd like to be.

So there you have it. A tutorial on how to make flower crayons, and my theories on gift giving, all in one! =D Almost makes up for no posts in April, eh? Okay, maybe not. Still, I hope you enjoyed it!! Thanks for reading!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bible Character ABC's

I think these will be the Bible stories we will focus on through the next few months as we go through the alphabet...

A - Adam
B - Benjamin
C - Cain
D - Daniel
E - Elijah
F - Flood and Noah
G - Gideon
H - Hannah
I - Isaac
J - Joshua
K - King David
L - Lazarus
M - Moses
N - Namaan
O - Onesimus and Paul
P - Peter
Q - Queen of Sheba and Solomon
R - Ruth
S - Samson
T - Tabitha / Dorcas
U - Uzzah and the Ark of the Covenant
V - Virgin Mary
W - Woman at the Well
X - Xerxes and Esther
Y - Yahweh
Z - Zaccheus

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Week 1: A

So... Ellie's been in a learning spurt lately and I'm finding myself needing to have more activities for her that encourage her discovery and learning. SO... I think we're going to try a letter a week for a while. This week we learned A. Here's kind of how it went...

- Ellie learned how to write the letter A, both capital and lower case.
- Ellie learned the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden.
- Ellie reviewed the verse for A - "All we like sheep have gone astray..."
- Ellie learned about Apples, including their parts, how they grow, and how the apple can serve as an illustration of the trinity.

She did some worksheets, she did some coloring pages, she made some art, read some books with me, and played a lot, with our focus being on the letter A, the story of Adam, and Apples.

This week in particular I liked how well our verse (about going astray) fit with the story of Adam and the fall, as well as our discussion on Apples. It all worked very well together!

Next week we are doing the letter B, so we'll see how well that goes!

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I have never before observed Lent, but this year I feel convicted. Not because it's Lent and I ought to sacrifice something, but because God is showing me some areas where I can improve by denying myself some of my habitual passtimes for some better ones.

SO.... I am actually observing Lent to some degree this year, and giving up my personal TV time (or Netflix / Hulu time, as the case really is) and Eliana is doing the same, though she has much less choice in the matter. =D I realized that we've fallen into a bad pattern where she watches TV and I feel free, so I hole up in another room, doing something else, in front of another computer watching TV. The TV isn't necessarily bad, but the pattern we've fallen into is.

I have so many opportunities during the day to spend time with Eliana, teaching her through activities and play, talking with her as we rise in the morning and walk throughout our day, as it were. So that's what we're doing instead of watching TV for a few weeks. And so far, it's been a really nice change. Yes, I want to know what's going on with "my" shows. But they will be there after Easter, and if they're not, well, will it really make a difference in the end? No. It is also a good chance for me to evaluate what I watch and whether those are shows I really want to spend my time following. Are they beneficial? Why do I watch them? I am looking forward to cutting out some of what I watch in the future and having more time to read. I'm also looking forward to doing things like listening to music or radio shows (like 'Says You') while I'm scrapbooking instead of watching shows while I do. So... I'm looking forward to a season of self control, of growing in my relationship with Eliana and of learning to use my time better. I die to self so very little these days, and it's something I want to practice, for my own sake, and for His glory.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snowshoeing with kiddos

Yesterday we took Eliana snowshoeing for the first time as a family. At 3 and a half, she did a great job! She wasn't so sure about the deep snow and had a hard time keeping up, but we let her walk on a packed down trail and she did much better, and had much more fun! I'd love to find more places around here to snowshoe with her!

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Huh... where did January go? I think I missed it. Oops! Well, at least we're back for February. =D

These are the Valentines Eliana made for her friends. She put the heart stickers on wherever she wanted, then I added the glittery border and stamped the sentiment wherever it would fit. I think they're kind of fun, and it was a nice little project for an afternoon!

From Scrapbook Pages