Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sewing Scarves and Hats for the Kids

I cannot stress enough how little I sew,
which means I don't really know how to sew,
but that didn't stop me.
 I really wanted to make my children
'personalized' hats and scarfs sets.

 I went to a local fabric store,
asked them to help me find a pattern
(See, I didn't even know how to find one!)
found a pattern and so began my journey.
Here is the link to the pattern: Hat and Scarf Pattern

The ladies at the store had to teach me
where to look on the pattern to know just how much fabric I would need for one set.
Then I sent my children out into the wilds of aisle after aisle of bolts of fabric!

Next step, was to actually do it.
How hard can it be to make a scarf?
Well, I was stumped!
I have a dear friend who was just as excited as I was to make it
so she helped me decipher the pattern.

I pushed the fabric under the needle, lowered the peddle,
and somehow I created hat and scarf sets for my kids!
Here they are!

My daughter thought the princesses were the greatest!

My son LOVES soccer!

And my youngest boy ADORES animals!

I made five hat and scarf sets, I will post those pics later!

I made each set one size bigger
so that I could get at least two winters out of them-
I hope it'll be more than that, but who knows!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mommyhood-The Menu Plan for the Month

So, before I get to the real important stuff about menu planning, let me just say that I was not always a menu planner. When I got married I cooked only what I knew how to cook. No cookbooks, no Internet help, no nuttin.' I went from memory on how to cook the basic meals I grew up with, ie: Italian food. My husband was okay with it seeing how he didn't grow up with a variety of  Italian meals. We were both happy.

As time went on the unwritten recipes got old and we were on the hunt for something new. I grabbed ideas from here and there, but still never even thought of looking in a cookbook. (I never saw my mother follow a recipe-I don't think she even owned a cookbook! I must have had it in my mind that: a) you cook only what you know and b) to fear cookbooks).

Soon children began popping up around me and things did need to change, but I had no idea how to change it. I was too embarrassed to ask for help. Too afraid to add anything new into a very busy mommy schedule. And also, too afraid of finding out that I wasn't smart enough to follow a recipe and get it right.

I began following Martha Stewart recipes. (I followed them only because that was the only magazine I was receiving. It was a bit overwhelming). You know what else overwhelmed me? The idea of making up a menu for the week, and going food shopping according to that menu. I have no idea why that was so, so, scary. I think it was because my mother never did it, my mother-in-law never did it, and it just seemed too foreign to me. It seemed too difficult of a task to wrap my brain around without someone taking me by the hand and explaining it. Also, mommyhood and ministry were really keeping me busy. It felt like if I took on anything else I was going to break.

So, to make a long story even longer, my husband and I, with four children and one on the way, went to a conference talking specifically about menu planning, couponing, food shopping etc. I cried as I sat and listened. It all seemed too much to grasp and yet I knew if I could add this new task to my life, life would be easier and have less stress. Things would be organized. There would be peace in my home right around 3pm as I went to the fridge to start preparing dinner. I just had to learn it. (My husband saw my fears and my desire to defeat them. He linked arms with me in this journey. Seriously, I couldn't have done it without him).

So here goes. To all you brave women- here are my menu ideas:

I sat down one day and wrote out breakfast ideas and talked it over with the kids. (I talked about it with them because my honey is already off at work when we are having our breakfast at 6:30am). So, they loved the ideas and we went from there. Below is an example of one week's worth of breakfast dishes that we used repeatedly for the four weeks of a month. So, let's say for the month of January every Monday we would have cereal or oatmeal for breakfast. Every Tuesday for that month we would have bagels...get the idea?

Mon.     Tues.       Wed.      Thurs.        Fri.        Sat.     Sun.
Cereal   Bagels  Pancakes  Cereal   Quiche    waffles   Cereal
    or                                                     or
oatmeal                                       Banana muffins

On Wednesday mornings I make the *pancakes, but on Thursday night the girls make either the quiche or the banana muffins for the next day. I like this schedule, thus far, because the kids know the routine, they are quick to help and get it set up, and once again there is no arguing over what is for breakfast that day. They know in advance that "tomorrow is quiche day" and that 's that. (I also love, love, love that my girls are learning to plan the night before for the next day's breakfast and they are learning to bake). I have found that repetition is a wonderful teacher. So with that, having a routine, month long, breakfast and lunch menu is helping them to perfect the lessons they are learning that month. Then when we sit down for new breakfast ideas they will take on more new lessons.

*(If anyone would like this pancake recipe let me know. IT'S fantastic! You simply make the batter, pour it into a 13x9 pan and bake 20min. These are obviously not flap-jacks-and for me-that's perfect!)


Again, I went to the kids with my ideas for lunch. Example below:

Mon.    Tues.     Wed.        Thurs.          Fri.               Sat.            Sun.
Egg       PBJ    Chicken  Quesadillas   Cold Cuts     A Free         PBJ/
Salad                Salad                        sandwiches     for all       or a meal

In this schedule the girls prepare the Egg Salad, and the boys prepare the chicken salad. Honestly, I am amazed at how a schedule has given everyone a job, and a goal. We are working together without confusion in the kitchen. Lunch is prepared without an attitude over "I don't want that!" We made the menu together and we are working together to make it come alive. (I know many moms use dinner left-overs as their lunch meals for the next day, but I like to re-use them as a left over meal for dinner instead).

Now for the dinner ideas:

Throughout the month I take a cookbook or two and begin putting little post-it's on some recipes that I would like to try. There is no anxiety over it because I have a month to find a bunch of new ones for the next month.

Now for the specifics: 

On MondayTuesday, and Wednesday I cook a new and different meal on each day.

On Thursday's I get a break- it's left-over night. Everyone gets their plate and chooses what they would like to have. It's wonderful! No complaining-everyone gets their favorite-it's a happy day. (Because I have no cooking on this day I usually use the time for baking).

Friday's are  pizza night. I make and bake the bread in the morning and simply prepare the pizza and a salad in the evening before the meal. (I have been recently told that my pizza is the best! Might be thinking of opening up an Italian pizzeria-I'd call it...Benjaminellie's. (Sorry, for the diversion...)

Saturday is the day when the kids cook. They choose hot dogs, chicken nuggets, fish fillets, mac-n-cheese etc. Sometimes they choose a recipe and challenge themselves to cook something different. (Ben and I will eat whatever left-overs haven't gotten eaten from the week or have a "date-night" dinner).

And finally, but not at all least, Sunday is hubby's day to cook dinner! He cooks eggs, bacon, biscuits etc.

Menu planning for me is finding three new meals or the oldie favorites for each week and the other four days are pretty much taken care of. That's all I can handle. To have to cook every single day would be more than my brain, life, whatever you want to call it, can handle and really just too much food.

Now for writing it down on the calendar. (My menu calendar is separate from the family life calendar) I get my cookbooks and begin placing dinner ideas down. The calendar quickly fills up with new and wonderful recipes (Twelve to be more exact) that I have never tried. I sit down and go through my cookbooks (I have more than one now-aren't you proud?) and write down the name of the cookbook,  the name of the recipe, and the page number down on the day of the week I plan to make it. I fill out the whole month on the calendar. My hubby helps me too. He gives me ideas or tells me what he'd like to have within the month. It's a job we both enjoy doing together.

After that I go back with my shopping list and begin opening up each recipe to find what I will need for each recipe. In no time the list is complete and we're ready to go shopping. We don't over buy or under buy. We have just what we need.

I know you're all asking about the perishables. Yes, we run out of milk and a few items, but we find that it is much easier to run out once a week to get few items than to have to do BIG shopping every week. Once a month huge shopping is enough for us.

So there you have it--Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner menu ideas for a month. Every month the menus change, but we just roll with it. I hope you have gotten something out of this.

If you have better ideas, better planning, better ways of making my day more organized I am totally open to it. I'm not afraid of change anymore! Victory! Happy planning =D

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Jonah IN the Whale!

In the fall our church does a 
"Night of No Fear" 
instead of celebrating Halloween.

The children have an opportunity to get dressed up,
play games, and win candy. 

Here is my son as Jonah IN the whale!!! 

I probably could have made the whale bigger,
but I was afraid that he wouldn't be able to walk
or for that matter, stand up because of the weight of it around his body.

But he loved it, and all the attention he received from it.
I love having fun and creative with my children
especially when it comes to Bible stories!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I Want More

Each Sunday when we get the newspaper I pour over the sale adds and coupons. Thoughts usually sound like this, "Yes, we need a leaf blower, I wonder if we can get that." or "It's been fourteen years, we need new couches, I wonder if we can get them this year." It's the same old thing each week- thinking and thinking of what we need or want and what we can actually afford. I have a whole list of wants- I'd like to build a green house in the backyard, till the ground, plant grass and section off a place for a garden. Oh, but first I would like to take down about seven of the 75 foot trees that are blocking the sun from reaching our yard! Then there's the new windows for the house, the couches, a dresser, twin mattresses and a window seat. Yes, I can spend money, that is, if we had it. Then I think to myself, "I wish I could get a job. A little job where I can bring money into the family so we can live better." And honestly, to answer your question, that has been my thinking for a couple of years now, but God is changing all that. What I really want now is more of Him.

I look at myself, for instance, and see how far I still have to go to really grasp just how much Jesus loves me. I believe He loves me, but the level of love I receive is no where near how much He actually loves me. When I think of His love for me I can cry. How can He love a sinner like me? How can He forgive me over and over again? How can He stand how little I have changed since I first came into a deeper walk with Him? I can't stand to look at my own sin, how can He? I know I don't know the depth of love He holds for me, but I want to. I want more of Him.

 I look at my marriage and think, "I want more." I want to go deeper, and be closer. I believe my marriage could be so much better and I want it. I pray daily for my marriage. I pray for us to be tender-hearted toward each other. To share more common interests. To laugh more. To spend more time together. I pray for my husband to experience the love of Jesus in a deeper way too. I pray for him to see his own giftings and to use them. I see my husband leading worship. I dream and pray for him every morning. I want more for him and for me- I want more for us.

I look at my parenting and think, "I want more." I want to be a better mother. I want to know my children better. I want to have more time for them. I want to have the time to listen and be with them. To show them how deep my love is for them.  I want to be a better teacher to them. I want our  home school life to be richer.

I look at our finances, and well, yeah, I want more. But if that doesn't happen, I want to have a tighter budget. I want to be wiser in our finances.

I have been very heavy in thought over all this for a couple of  months now. I have to fight against regret, and pray and muster up hope. It's hard to see where I am and think about where I could have been or where I should be at this stage in my life. The regret can feel like a weight around my neck-dragging me down.

So, how do I get more? Whenever I think of having more of Jesus the scene of Jesus walking on the water comes into my mind. I see Peter in the boat, only it's not Peter it's me, and Jesus standing ON the water calling me to come. I know when we think of that story we remember how quickly Peter jumped out of the water, began walking to Jesus, but when the wind and storm began to stir, Peter sank like a rock. We focus on Peter's doubting Jesus to save him. We think on Peter's faithLESSness. But I have to tell you when I see myself in that boat and Jesus' hand outstretched to me, beckoning me to walk to Him on water, well...I can't even lift a foot to get out of the boat, let alone be faithless enough to sink! Getting out of the boat is the hard part for me. The boat means safety and comfort, security. The boat is where I am suppose to be, not walking ON water! But nonetheless, Jesus is calling me to walk on water with Him.

So, what am I trying to say? I think in order to have more of Jesus I have to "get out of the boat" I'm in-I have to get out of my comfort zone- I have to decide to make some changes. So, If I want more time with my husband I have to be committed to a date night once a week. (Nothing expensive- a walk in the neighborhood or on the beach, a cup of coffee, whatever).  If I want to know my children better I have to turn off the television and play games, go on walks with them, read the same books as they are, etc.  If I want to have more money in our savings account than the change will have to be to stop spending. If I want to see changes in myself, well, then, I have to be committed to reading the Bible every day. Wanting more of Jesus means letting go of the boat and walking to Him. He's standing there waiting for me and you- will you walk a few steps to Him? or stay in the boat? I'm jumping out! I'm ready to stop living the 'same old, same old' life and go and do what Jesus has for me. I'm ready for walking on water!

"The reason the world is not seeing Jesus 
is because Christian people are not filled with Jesus.

They are satisfied with weekly meetings, occasionally reading the Bible and sometimes praying. Beloved, if God lays hold of you by the Spirit, you will find that there is an end of everything and a beginning of God so that your whole body becomes seasoned with a divine likeness of God.

Pray this closing prayer:
Fill me, Holy Spirit. May those people with whom I come in to contact daily see only Jesus when they look at my life. Make me a divine likeness of God. Amen'
- Smith Wigglesworth

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Ten Commandment for Kids

I was asked, by my church, to create a Bible curriculum for children to cover the seven week span of the adult class on Marriage and Family. Here are some ideas I came up with to teach the Ten Commandments to children.
Some of the ideas are original and some are things I found on the Internet or at stores and changed a bit. Either way I hope you find something great
to help yourself and children learn these amazing laws of God.

Here is a craft project the children worked on each week as they learned a new Commandment.
The first week the children simply had to place their hands into paint and then stamp them onto the paper. (They were also given the stickers of Moses and Mt. Sinai to place on their paper too).
Each following week, after they learned the next, new Commandment, they added it's new tablet to a finger. (This art project was also used to review previous lessons).
After eleven weeks the children completed this art project and were allowed to take it home. 

(I purchased the sticker tablets of the Ten Commandments from the
Oriental Trading Company).

I googled the Ten Commandments and found these cute pictures.
I printed them, cut them out and glued them to tag board.
These cards became flash cards that we used each week.

 Flash cards that are double-sided!

What fun is a Bible Lesson if there isn't any games???!!!
Here are some game ideas my family and I came up with:

First: I have cardboard brick blocks for my children and thought:
"Why not cover them and turn them into 
Ten Commandment Games!"

I made two sets so that two teams can play at once.

and made another set:

with each Commandment printed out onto each brick.

Here are the actual game ideas:

Another idea I had to help the children memorize the Commandments:
I  typed up the Ten Commandments and cut each one out into strips.
At the end of each class the older children received the two Commandments
we were studying that week to be glued onto an index card to be brought home to study.
If the child brought back his/her index cards of the Ten Commandments each week
they received a prize.

I also purchased this 'Fun Pad' from OTC.

On the last night together we had to have a party!
These cupcakes are an Ellie original!!!
I made enough cupcakes for all the children and the workers.
I frosted all of them either blue or pink (boys or girls)
and then cut marshmallows in half for the 'tablets.'
I then used a food-dye pen to scribble the words onto each 'tablet.'
Here are the 
"Ten Commandment" cupcakes
to help us celebrate!

We reviewed all the Commandments and had a chance to watch
(You HAVE to go to the link above =)