"…And she smiles at the future." ~Proverbs 31:25

Posts tagged ‘memories’

FREE PRINTABLE: New Year’s interview–updated for 2014

Due to the popularity of the New Year’s interview I created last year, I’ve updated it for 2014 so you can, once again, capture a slice of life from your child right now–whether that child is a new baby or is about to graduate!

You can find the updated printable here.

2014 New Year's Interview

2014 New Year’s Interview

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ConFOODsion

Young children pick up their native language at an astonishing rate. I am always amazed at how quickly and effortlessly they grow to understand vocabulary and syntax without any formal instruction. Of course, sometimes there are bumps along the way, which provide plenty of free entertainment for those witnessing them.

A while back Remi went through a stage where she often substituted words and phrases she knew for those that weren’t familiar or didn’t make sense to her. Here are a couple of examples:

She found a package of these ….

…. and asked, “Hey, Mommy, do you think Daddy would mind if I ate some of his Sesame Streets?”

A week later we went through the drive-through at Whataburger and got a vanilla malt, the first malt she’d ever tasted. Apparently, she liked it; the whole way home, she kept asking, “Can I have another drink of that Malt-O-Meal?”

Here’s where I’ll open it up to the rest of you: What funny things have you heard from the mouths of little ones? Please share them in the comments so we can all smile together!

(Note: Only your first comment on this blog has to be approved; all your future comments will show up automatically. So go ahead and share! It’s easy!)

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Celebrate the ones you love

Happy Valentine’s Day from our family to yours!

(For this Heart Hat Craft and other Valentine activities for little ones, see this post.)

Hopefully, regardless of how you feel about the commercialism that has crept into our society around the holidays (ugghh!), you are still making this a special day for the ones you love.

We are keeping things simple around our house this year. Before the kids came downstairs this morning, I mixed up some pancake batter and put it in this…..

…..which made it really easy (even for me!) to pour these…..

I added some strawberries—heart-shaped-already-by-God, you know—and ended up with a fun Valentine’s Day breakfast that made all the kids smile.

(I got the idea from Pinterest, and it came from this website.)

When I set the table, I added a box of chocolates for each child. So, YOUR challenge of the day is to figure out which candy was for which child.  Leave me a comment below if you think you know!

The kids weren’t the only ones who woke up to a special treat this morning. As you may remember, I have a secret admirer. I hear from him every Valentine’s Day, and this year was no exception. I found this sitting on the bar when I woke up today:

Inside was one of my all-time-favorite treats:

Oh, boy, I am in trouble now. ūüėČ

If you haven’t already, you can go here to read about my secret admirer.

I’d love to hear what you are doing for your little (and big) Valentines today. (I won’t reveal Troy’s just yet since that would ruin the surprise for him.) Please leave me a comment to let me know what special things you are doing today, and don’t forget to guess whose box was whose!

Thanks for stopping by,

Recycled backyard fun

You know the phenomenon:

You spend time and money buying your one- or two-year-old child a special gift that YOU think is fantastic, and all the child is really interested in is the box it came in, or perhaps the wrapping paper itself. We’ve all been there, right?

After yesterday, I’m starting to think the same principle applies to those expensive backyard play sets. Who needs ’em, as long as your child has a healthy imagination?

Although it’s been several months since we moved, our trampoline never did get set up in our new backyard. At first there was no grass, and then when there was we had to let that grass get good and healthy, and by then it was too hot….You know how it goes.

It doesn’t seem to have been a problem for the kids, though; especially for Addy, who is pretty good at making her own fun.

Recently, she was helped along by the mysterious appearance of a construction spool in our backyard. (I guess it wasn’t TOO mysterious, considering that our whole neighborhood is still one big construction zone and that my husband loves checking the discard piles for little treasures…or in this case, big treasures!) I’m guessing the spool was to be used as a work table of some kind, but Addy had other plans.

Yesterday, she decided to use it as her own rolling balance beam.

Remi was interested but I wasn’t ready for her to get up there, so I laid a board down flat for a balance beam for her. Of course it was too easy, so we had to change her challenge to hopping down the beam.

Then Addy had the idea to combine both girls’ equipment to make a seesaw. It was hilarious to watch their faces! (Click the picture for a better view.)

I should probably mention a couple of things here:

One, I do realize it is January. But while much of the world is huddling inside to stay warm this time of year, we in South Texas are heading outdoors to finally enjoy some nice, cool weather.

Two, my youngest daughter is in that stage….you know, the one where it is important to dress as a princess at all times, even when playing on boards in the backyard. (Addy did put down a towel for her to sit on so she wouldn’t mess up her dress.)

Once Remi had had enough of their homemade seesaw, Addy used the board to make an incline for another type of balance beam.

Before I knew it, she had created an entire obstacle course for herself.

The towel (?) was the starting point, and from there she had to go up the plank

…and across the next board

…and then walk off onto the spool and roll as far as she could.

I should note here that all these ideas were Addy’s. Of course, once Remi saw how much fun Addison was having, she wanted to get in on that action, too, and Addy was so sweet to help her all along the way.

I love seeing siblings helping each other out and having fun together!

Next Addy made a slide, and taught Remi how to climb up the spool and cross the plank to get to it.

Now for the sliding fun…

Addy needed to take it a step further—of course—so she started going down backwards!

By this time the sun was starting to go down, but the girls weren’t ready to go inside just yet. So they added some more layers of clothes and brought out their blankets, then laid the porch swing down flat to make themselves a comfy little bed on the back patio.

As it got cooler, they decided to make the whole thing into a tent. Look closely…

Did you notice their custom “tie-downs?” Cutest weights ever, huh?

Addy added some more layers, both inside and outside the tent, to make it warmer, then proclaimed it ready to spend the night in. (I’ll just assume you know what my answer to that was.)

Again, if you looked very closely, you saw that she used Troy’s tools, and even my hair accessories, to hold the covers on. (Click on the picture below for a closer view.)

I love that about Addy—she is the queen of “use-what-ya-got!” She never asked for help; just figured out what would work and made it happen.

Remi, meanwhile, was rounding up the babies who would be “spending the night in the tent, too.”

So here’s my advice, friends:

Next time you’re tempted to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on some play equipment for your kiddos, I recommend taking a step back and letting them use their imaginations for a while, instead. It just might end up being even more fun!

Thanks for stopping by.

From where I stand

I was waiting on my little one to finish up her afternoon snack. She was strapped into her booster seat, babbling away as she ate, and I was too tired to even sit down.¬† (Been there?) I leaned up against the kitchen island, just staring off into space at first. But then, the view in the mirror in front of me came into focus and I began to think. No, I wasn’t looking at the smudges—in fact, I didn’t even see them at the time. What I saw instead was how much I have to be thankful for.

From where I stood, I could see the little antique sewing machine that belonged to my mother when she was a little girl, and I thought once again that I have been blessed with the best and sweetest mom in the whole world. I can’t imagine how different my life would be without her godly influence and fun personality. I stood there, thankful for her and the rest of my sweet family.

Next to that on the bar sits the row of little Dutch houses I brought back from The Netherlands. Seeing them reminded me of the years we lived there, the work we were blessed to do, and the amazing people we had the privilege of knowing while there. I miss those friends, and I’m always a little wistful when I think about those days, but today I was just thankful that we had such a unique opportunity and that we have a gazillion great memories of our time in Holland.

As I continued to stare into the mirror, I noticed the clear clothes hanger dangling from the ceiling fan. (Can you see it?) There seems to be one hanging there just about every day. Sometimes I get so used to them I don’t even notice them, and when I do it’s not something that makes me smile….but today I looked down below it in the mirror and saw the empty kitchen sink, and noted that the same person who’d left the hanger on the fan had also washed all the dishes, without my asking. And that DOES make me smile!

From where I stood, I also had a glimpse of the back yard. I could see the corner of the porch swing Troy gave me one Mothers Day, and beyond that the trampoline where the kids (and we) have spent many happy hours laughing and bouncing. I was thankful that, for the most part, our children have been healthy. They are able to play, and we have plenty of sunshine to enjoy around here.

Yes, I was exhausted. But now I was also thankful. So many reasons to be grateful were found just in that one moment’s view.

So, here’s my challenge for you today. Take a look around, wherever you are.¬† Pick a direction, look straight ahead, and notice—really notice—the things that surround you.¬† Let them remind you of how much you have to be grateful for.¬† It’s just one more way to count our blessings, and that’s just one more reason to smile.¬† I’d love to hear what you see from where YOU stand.

Thanks for stopping by!

Our Great Smoky Mountains Adventure

When we made the long drive to Sevierville, Tennessee to attend Polishing the Pulpit, we knew it would be a busy, busy week. And in fact, on most days we were running from one class or activity to another from early in the morning until late at night. There were, however, two days where we found ourselves with a chunk of free time in the middle of the afternoon, and we were able to make some great family memories during those times.

On Saturday afternoon, we made the short drive to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where the scenery was absolutely breathtaking! We grabbed some sandwiches on the way so we could start the afternoon with a picnic lunch.

Then we went on what started out as a family hike at Chimney Tops.

How cool is that tree? Here’s another view:

It soon became apparent that a family with a 16-year-old and a two-year-old will not all hike at the same pace…so we sent Troy and the big kids on their way and Remi and I did the snail’s-pace version on our own.

Not surprisingly, the homeschool mom in me came to the forefront, and our hike became a very interesting little preschool field trip. We inspected rocks, leaves, moss, bark, spiders, butterflies, berries, roots, squirrels, acorns, streams, webs, logs, beetles, petrified wood, seeds, and even a couple of millipedes. (I had no idea they could be that big!)

Next up was a splash in the Little Pigeon River.

Everywhere I looked, there seemed to be more beauty than I could drink in. How gorgeous is this old bridge?

At one point we looked up to find that my little brother’s family had chosen the same spot for their afternoon off. The kiddos were thrilled to be able to splash, climb and explore with their cousins.

How fun to be a kid in a place like this!

Finally, here are my two favorite photo-captured memories from the day:

To be honest, I don’t even remember why he was laughing so hard. I only know that I can’t help but smile every time I see this picture.

It just makes me happy. 

And as for this one…well, I probably don’t need to explain why I love it so much…

“ You are worthy, O Lord,
      To receive glory and honor and power; 
      For You created all things, 
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†And by Your will they exist¬†and were created.‚ÄĚ

(Revelation 4:11)

Thanks for stopping by!

Want to learn more about Polishing the Pulpit? Check out all these related posts:

What exactly is PTP?

PTP highlights

What I learned at PTP (Part 1)

What I learned at PTP (Part 2)

What I learned at PTP (Part 3)

Traveling Smiles

The Kentucky weekend that changed my life

Have you ever noticed how certain memories tend to lock on and never let go, washing back over us at the strangest of times? Or that even years down the road, some memories still cause our emotions to swell as if the remembered events had just taken place? Or that the potential for really bad news tends to make good news that much sweeter?

Here I am more than five years ago during a visit to Kentucky to spend time with my dear friend, April. Notice that I am smiling as we scrapbook into the wee hours of the morning.

Oh, the smile was genuine, alright. But lurking nearby was something else. Not fear, really, but more of an acceptance that something really awful might be around the corner for my family and me. And if that sounds a bit melodramatic, so be it, but I look at this picture and can still taste the uncertainty I felt during that time.

I came to some important conclusions that weekend, and when I got home I scrapbooked them, too. Obviously this page was not about scrapbook style or design, but about the memories of that incredibly emotional time. (I typed out the journaling below so you don’t have to squint or buy glasses to read it.)

Laughter Therapy: The Kentucky Weekend That Changed My Life

Journaling reads:

The getaway had been planned a full ten months earlier, so how could I have known what God had in mind for me that weekend? I couldn’t have known that shortly before my trip I would find a problem…or that my doctor would find the same problem without my mentioning it…or that he would order the series of mammograms to determine what was wrong. I couldn’t have known I’d have to spend that weekend waiting…hoping that I could handle whatever the test results showed.

Ten months earlier, the trip had been planned as a way for both of us to get away from it all…to spend a long weekend in another state with only our scrapbook supplies and each other. No jobs, no home schooling, no cooking or cleaning. No husbands, no kids, no deadlines. Just precious, quiet time to relax, listen to music, eat junk, scrapbook, shop, and catch up on each others’ lives.

Although I hadn’t planned to spend that weekend waiting and wondering, the trip was just what I needed. Not only did it provide the blessing of diversion, it taught me some lessons I hope I never forget.

Here is what I learned in Kentucky:

1. Everything is going to be OK. And, even if it’s not, well…everything will be OK. Really.

2. The family I so much needed a break from is made up of the people most important to me. I began to truly look forward to whatever time I had left with them.

3. Friends and friendship deserve so much more time and effort than I tend to give them. Having a friend to pray with is an indescribable gift.

4. Laughter really is the best therapy. We laughed, and cried, and laughed until we cried. There is something so cleansing, so rejuvenating, about a long, deep, belly laugh.

I must admit…when we began this little photo shoot on the last day of our trip, I couldn’t help but wonder if these would be the last photographs we would ever take together. After all, as I was being reminded, who ever knows how much time they have left? I found myself being so thankful for the precious time we had spent together and the fun memories we had made. As we posed together, I felt sentimental and nostalgic and blessed.

Yet it didn’t take long for the serious poses to give way to fits of laughter. What started it? Absolutely no idea. How long did it go on? Not sure, but just look at how red my face and chest were!

I will never be able to look at this picture without smiling, or even laughing out loud. Thanks to a friend who was wise enough to keep shooting pictures even after we’d completely lost our composure, a moment was captured that I never want to forget. A moment where I knew that regardless of all the uncertainties of the future, I could still live in the moment…and laugh.

Here are just a few more pictures (all by Connie Vernon–THANK YOU, CONNIE!) from the gazillion we took that weekend.¬† Note the progression of our facial expressions and posture, from serious and contemplative to hysterical and out of control. Love. That. Memory.

“…and she smiles at the future.” ~Proverbs 31:25

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