Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow, sleds, skates, slime, sushi, yay!

It's snowing today. Actually, it was snowing, now it's icing...sigh

Despite the cold, wretched winter, we have been having lots of fun. We studied magnets recently. Isaac got a neat kit of magnets for his birthday (from me planning ahead for a magnet unit) and we had lots of fun experimenting with it. This is the magnet man that the kids made. I think he's cute.We've also been having lots of fun with Isabella's new puppet theater! Angela gave it to her for Christmas. Its a great set up. It's really heavy duty, folds nicely in the corner when not in use and it fits perfectly on the coffee table in the living room when it is in use! We only have a few puppets right now. We just got some more that need to be fixed up a little bit. A woman gave them to me from freecycle. They are like the old puppets on Mr. Rogers (sort of creepy but really cool too). The kids have been very creative and very silly with their puppet shows. I am planning to put a puppet show on for them soon too.

During the really cold snap we couldn't get outside much. It was tough to stay inside so much so one day we decided to make snow inside! It was really more like snowslime. I have also heard it referred to as clean mud. It's made from shredded toilet paper, water, borax and shredded ivory soap. It gets really fluffy the more you play with it. After playing with it for a little while we used it to make snow pictures on black card stock. It took a few days for them to dry but they hardened into great 3-D snow pictures when they did. I think I liked playing with it even more than the kids. It took me all day to throw it away, I kept going back and playing with it some more lol. Clean up was easy too. I had made it all in a box lined with a trash bag. When we were done I took the bag out and threw it away!

The kids have been asking to go ice skating for a long time now and they finally got their chance at my friend Amy's last week. She has a skating rink right out her back door and skates in all sizes. Isaac wore some hockey skates and did really well. Bella borrowed some figure skates and did pretty good also. Ian did a great job scooting around in his boots too. They are very excited that as long as it's cold they can skate at Amy's every time we visit!

Another fun indoor activity has been playing market. We've been studying Japan and the book we read last week, A Pair of Red Clogs, had a market in it. Using the new play money that they got for Christmas they set up a great market in the living room. They sold shoes, flowers and food. Ian thought it was a little lame since no one was dealing arms but he decided his old gun was sufficient and he bought some shoes and food lol.
This week for art we did food sculpture. The Japanese present their food in beautiful ways, sushi itself is almost like an art. We started our food sculpting by making sushi. We had some friends who came over and joined us and Seven got us an easy to make sushi kit and some yummy things to put inside. The kids did really well and almost everyone gave it a try. Isaac loves sushi and so do I so he and I ate whatever the others didn't want.After our sushi creations we made sculptures out of fruit and tooth picks. We had some very creative artists and they enjoyed eating their artwork too!

On Friday it was finally above freezing and I decided to take the kids sledding! We had a blast. Even I had a good time. It was actually a beautiful day. Properly bundled and being so active, we weren't cold at all. I couldn't believe it when we got home and I realized we had been sledding and playing for 3 1/2 hours! It was so good to get so much fresh air and exercise. I am looking forward to some more above freezing days....

This weekend we got to have Christmas again!!! I think I like having Christmas in January. We didn't get a chance to see Jason's dad and step mom over the holidays so they came up this weekend instead. It was so great! We had a wonderful relaxing afternoon and we were all astonished by the amount of presents they brought and very grateful too!!! The boys were super excited about their huge boat and submarine and Isabella got a new bracelet that she hasn't taken off since Sunday. They also brought their dog Daisy (the only dog I really like) and their new puppy Brady, he's only 8 weeks cute. It was a great visit. We hope they'll come back up soon.

We had one other very exciting excursion this week. We visited the Elf Parlor. That is Seven and Mike's coffee shop (Nova and Mika's mom and dad). It is almost ready to open and we got to have a sneak peak at some of the delightful drinks they will be making especially for kids (and odd adults like me who don't drink coffee). Seven made me a creamy maple drink w/ yummy. The kids had a round of vanilla flavored warm frothy milks and then they had pinacolattes. That had pineapple juice, coconut extract and milk. The drinks were all fabulous and the atmosphere is awesome too! They have a special table just for kids. Isabella wants to have her birthday party there. Everyone will have to go check it out when it opens. There are lots of unique things in the shop but my favorite is definitely the moss covered cash register. He has personality. I think he needs a name. I promise to let you all know as soon as they are open for business so you can flock there in masses and buy lots and lots of coffee and other yummy drinks!

When you go, see if you can find this happy little guy in the floor somewhere. Seven showed it to me, I snapped the picture, now it will be a scavenger hunt for you!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

the TLC in Africa

I have some friends that are headed to Africa today. The Bob and LuAnn Herring are leaving today and will be gone for over 2 months doing mission work in Africa through the missionary organization that their family started called Africa Connect. I encourage you all to visit their website and see what an amazing work God is doing there through this family. They do work in Kitale, Kenya serving children through a school called Neema Care Center. In Africa, children must have attended preschool in order to go to primary school. Most preschools cost money and therefore the poorest children are blocked out of school entirely. Their existence in the slums is bleak to say the least. The number of homeless street kids is astounding and most of them resort to sniffing glue to numb their coldness and pain. A documentary called Glue Boys chronicled this sad situation and is a huge eye opener to one of the many overwhelming problems that these kids face. Anyway, our friends the Herrings, in partnership with African nationals have been able to provide a wonderful free school program for children in Kitale Kenya that couldn't otherwise afford school. The work that they have done is so amazing. Just one family, with a heart to serve God by serving these people, has touched the lives of hundreds of children and this is just the beginning.
Last year when we were studying Africa Luann came and did an awesome presentation at our house. My kids were so interested and we have continued to pray for them and talk about the work that is being done there. Last week LuAnn gave me a book with little bios of each of the children at Neema Care Center (there are over 100 enrolled right now). The book has pictures of each child and tells of their family life and what they like to eat and what they want to be when they grow up. The TLC kids are enamored with the book. We also received in our last update a picture card of one particular child to pray for. His name is Aldaff and the kids pray for him usually 3 or 4 times a day! He's an honorary TLC student now and he doesn't even know it.

Seeing how amazing this connection was for these kids I decided to make a bio book to send to Africa of the TLC Academy. It's much smaller, of course, but I am so excited for the connection that we are making. The kids all drew pictures and we wrote a letter to the school director in hopes that we can correspond with them often. The kids are amazed that their pictures are getting on a plane to Africa today. We are so blessed to have this opportunity to truly connect with the people that we are praying for and supporting. It's really an amazing thing.

Our bio book came out beautiful thanks to the incredible school pictures that Seven took of the kids and our adorable class picture. Seven is an amazing and versatile photographer. She has done our family portrait as well as our school pictures and Christmas card picture. She also does wedding photography. If you are interested in having her take pictures for your family you can email her at

In other TLC news, we have transitioned back into the school routine pretty well. It's never easy after a vacation to get back into the swing of things, especially when it's cold and you can't get outside enough. I tried to make it a little easier by making the first week super fun. Our study of gingerbread and fairy tales definitely helped. We read a few versions of the Gingerbread man story and Hansel and Gretel, played a gingerbread game that I printed off of Jan Brett's website, decorated gingerbread men on the computer, made play dough gingerbread men, made real gingerbread men and attempted unsuccessfully to make a gingerbread house. We also learned the history of gingerbread houses, a little about the spice ginger and about what a fairy tale is. It was a busy week!

Ian has been requesting a workbook of his own for awhile now so I finally got him one. He loves it. He asks to do his "phonics" every time Isaac and Nova do. He has been participating a lot more in "school activities."

I know I have mentioned in the past how sometimes the silliest things are so entertaining to the kids. I found a new one. Gum. I let them all chew gum while they did penmanship the other day. It made life wonderful for almost a whole 1/2 hour. Everyone was just beside themselves w/ glee as they munched away on their yellow Juicy Fruit (when did Juicy Fruit turn yellow anyway?). Hannah and Bella, knowing you can never chew gum in "school" thought it was a great treat.
As most of you know, it's been snowing quite a bit here lately. It's been pretty cold too and going to get even colder. Getting outside is a huge chore but necessary for the fresh air. Dressing my kids to go outside is the bane of my existence every winter. Dressing 3 extras does not make it better. Despite my loath of all things winter, I do let the kids go out (sometimes). We went out the other day and they had fun. I will refrain from commenting on how I actually felt about it because we are learning about self-control this week.

Last but not least we want to give a huge THANK YOU to Nova and Mika's Aunt Sarah. She lives in Shanghai China and when she came for the holidays she brought some gifts from China for the TLC! We got some authentic Chinese newspapers, postcards, stickers, and best of all toys! She gave us one of the most popular toys in china. They are little sticky, squishy pigs and the kids LOVED them. They threw them on the wall, the floor, at each other, swung them around and eventually broke them all, but they loved every minute of it! They think the kids in China are really lucky because if they break theirs they can just go get another one. I think I'm lucky that I'm not replacing popped piggies every other day :)

Stay warm in the arctic blast if you live around here, if not, feel bad for those of us who do.