Summer is in full swing around here! Living for the glory of God

swimming at our favorite swimming spot and jumping off the big rock? check!

Go hiking and swimming on top mount Nebo? check! (well E and daddy swam- it was too cold for me and T.J!)

participate in a VBS? We did two!

We even got to do something I’ve always wanted to do- go on a sailboat!

I’ve been meditating on this verse lately-

1 Tim 6:17 “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;”

There have been times in my life when I genuinely felt guilty for having fun. I mean, shouldn’t life be spent just working and serving and soul winning? Is there legitimately a place for fun in the life of a believer?

Did you catch the last part of that verse? God gives richly to us all things to enjoy. Just look at the extravagant way that He created the world we live in. So much of what surrounds us was simply created by God for the sake of beauty and enjoyment. Think of all the varieties of luscious fruits and vegetables for us to taste and the beauty of nature for our eyes to enjoy. Sin would be to enjoy these things above God or choosing to be unthankful towards God for these things. Sin would also be to neglect the commandments in the next verse to do good and be generous.

Enjoying these things rightly can focus our hearts towards God and can bring Him glory. When I hike with my children I breathe in the fresh air, and marvel at all He has done by His wisdom and power. I thank Him for the time with my family. I’m learning to see these things as gifts from Him to enjoy, not as things to feel guilty about.

Enjoy your Creator today, marvel at His wisdom and kindness and enjoy all He has given you with thanksgiving! Whatever you do, do it for the Lord! (Col. 3:23)

 

Making the most of spending resurrection sunday at home

I was really really hoping we would all be over our sickness by Easter Sunday. E was better but now T.J was sick and I had a sore throat so we had to stay home. I was disappointed but decided to work hard to make the most of the day.

I decided to get dressed up and even put on a little makeup. Having on a spring dress helped me to remember I’m celebrating my risen King today! When E got up I told her why I was dressed up. I told her today we are going to celebrate all day that Jesus rose from the dead and that He gives us new life! (Four year old girls are ready for any excuse to dress up!)

We headed into the kitchen and after putting on a youtube playlist of Easter morning worship songs I tied on her apron and we made a big batch of low carb waffles. Since it was a special occasion I wiped up some cream to get fancy! This is an awesome recipe by the way. alldayidreamaboutfood.com. E said our table looked, “oh la la” which is I think the best complement I’ve ever heard in my life! (and you can see in the pic how not oh la la it was!)

 

We have a copy of the Jesus story book Bible which for the most part I really like. Earlier in the week I had started going through the last week of Jesus’ life with her but sickness kind of got us derailed. For the woman and the alabaster anointment I sprayed perfume on E’s feet and dramatically wiped my pretend tears off her feet with my hair. She then painted in with water color a perfume bottle I drew with a permanent marker.

After breakfast I finished reading her through the story of the resurrection in The Jesus Storybook Bible and then we did a little empty tomb craft. Nothing much but I think it helped reinforce the lesson.

Since the reason we stayed home was because we are under the weather the kids laid around and watched 2 movies. An old nest family entertainment video that I borrowed from E’s cousins for this week. My husband grew up watching these videos. They also watched Beginners Bible The Story of Easter that I grew up watching as a kid. (It’s on youtube)

 

I did a mini egg hunt with the kids. I didn’t want to overload them on sugar while they were getting over colds so I just hid 3 pink one’s for E and 3 blue one’s for T.J. 

In the afternoon I took them outside with a mason jar and a pair of scissors and we went hunting for signs of spring. Irises, ferns, the first rose on the rose bush, buttercups and more adorn our table now. 

I listened to this interview with Randy Alcorn I saw on his blog to edify me some since I had to miss church.  https://vimeo.com/212999779

When I did Bible time with the kids instead of reading Proverbs like I have been I read them the story of the resurrection from the book of John while they played with toys on the floor.

I saw on pinterest this idea where you dye your hardboiled egg whites before making deviled eggs. I had some natural food dye and we attempted it. E thought it was fun to eat pink eggs but they didn’t look anything like the one’s on pinterest!

Anyways! That was our day. Life with little one’s is anything but predictable but I’m learning as a mom to try and make the most of each day and opportunity as it comes.

 

A day in the life of me through photos

A little creative project yesterday to capture the blessing that is my every day life and routine. An ordinary day is a tremendous gift! My kids have had several bugs and colds over the last few weeks which feels hard right now but one day I know I will look back on these times with the rose colored glasses the passing of time gives us. One day these little guys will be big guys and I’ll miss them like they are today…

 

Some Fun Stuff

This past week I bought 2 tickets for Fancy Nancy the musical at the children’s theatre at The Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock.https://www.arkarts.com

I checked out several Fancy Nancy Books from the library and took E to the dollar store for her to pick out some ‘fancy stuff’. She picked out a pink tiara that came with a wand, a purple tutu, necklaces, and pink sunglasses. Every time we sat down to read a book she wanted to get ‘fancy’ first!

Saturday I packed up the kids and we headed to Little Rock. I didn’t really know what to expect from the Arts Center since I had never been before. It was something that I would have enjoyed but it was definitely not for kids! About as soon as I walked in a security guy in a black suit started following me around and I quickly realized he was probably panicking at the sight of two kids coming in to view over 100 year old Claude Monet paintings! I put them in the stroller, did a quick spin around, realized I needed to get them out of there and headed outside to the city park which is connected to the museum.

I do think it would be neat if a wing of the museum could be turned into something for teaching kids about art. Maybe hanging up replica’s of famous artwork for them to view or something like that.

It was a beautiful day Saturday! Sunny and in the 70’s! In the park there were these ducks and birds I had never seen before. Somebody must have bought some unusual  varieties of ducks and introduced them there. Two of the ducks had babies. I had never seen ducklings so small and I was thrilled that E and T.J got to observe ducks with their babies in their own habitat. One of the mama ducks had 10 babies and E watched with much anticipation as they headed towards the pound and one at a time clumsily plopped themselves in!

We had a picnic by a fountain and I laughed as a brave duck used to being fed by people approached T.J and E threw herself in front of him yelling, “Get away from my brother!”

We found our seats for the musical and watched as all these little girls came in dressed up like E was. I had so much fun watching her watch the musical. She was literally on the edge of her seat, taking it all in. A few times she looked up at me with the biggest grin on her face looking like she was wondering what was happening.

(E doesn’t like her picture being taken, I had to snap a photo before else realized what I was doing!)

T.J was on my lap and it did take quite a bit of effort to keep him there and quiet. Next time we go I’ll try to plan to just go with E or else go when someone can come with me to have an extra pair of hands.

Earlier in the week on a colder cloudy day we visited this place called Share The Love Kid’s Club. It was clean, there was plenty to keep the kids entertained for several hours and the staff was very helpful. If you’re ever in Conway looking for something to do with your kids, I’d recommend it. FYI I’d say it’s geared towards kids ages 1-4. It’s $10.00 per child without a membership. 

E’s birthday letter

March 14th was E’s 4th birthday. In so many ways that is hard for me to wrap my head around! That morning I wrote her this letter that I wanted to share with you. I don’t know if I will keep it up over the years but I would love to start a tradition of writing letters to my kids on their birthdays. I use her initial on this blog rather than her name since this blog is public. I feel like it’s a tiny thing I can do for her privacy and safety.

If you are struggling right now as a mom having a hard time seeing beyond the spilled milk and diaper changes of today, try writing a letter to your child to read in the future. I promise you it will give you a shift in your perspective and make you feel all mushy toward your kids.

Rereading this letter I chuckle at how unpredictable life is with little one’s. That day T.J woke up sick so I stayed home with him while daddy took E to music class and it got so cold it snowed a little bit so no flying kites that day! Daddy did ask E’s music class to sing her happy birthday and he got a cute video of it.

 

Dear E,

Today is your fourth birthday! It is early in the morning and you are still sleeping. We had your party Saturday and we got you your first real bike. Today when you get up you get to open presents from Papa Page and Grandma Linda. Daddy plans on bringing you to the park to fly your kite and ride your bike. Today is music class at ACME with Mr. Brian. I’ll ask him if we can dance to the happy birthday song!

I’m writing this so that you can look back at it when you are older. I’m wondering about the future you. Will you be 10 when you read this? What will it be like when you are a teenager? I’m looking forward to every stage of life with you.

E, I wish you could know how you mean the world to me. My life is you and you and your brother are my life. You have given me so much.

Your smiles, your goofy laugh, to see your dimples are among the most important things in the world to me. You are my buddy. I spend more time with you than anyone else and we have fun! You are my company and right now life consists of you asking, “ ‘cause why?’ and me doing my best to answer.

You are miss personality but I’m also observing that you enjoy time alone. You are energetic, and your favorite food right now is peanut butter and jelly, milk, and fruit snacks! You tell me your favorite color is purple but you also like pink. You like mud and sand and dirt and crafts. You are very creative!

You get excited when I ask you if you want to do ‘school.’ You can spell your name! You love being read to and your daddy and I have spent countless hours reading you books.

You love your cousins and playing with them and you are working to adjust to life with a very demanding little brother. I love your sweet voice introducing him to strangers when we go out, “This is my baby brother Tanner Jr.”

E, you are brave! Your bravery and adventurous sprit amazes (and sometimes scares me!) When we went to the water park there was no water slide that you were not up for. Your attitude is, “bring it on!” I hope that spunk never leaves you.

You ask a lot of questions trying to figure out how trees grow and why people eat food but you also ask spiritual questions. You ask me why Jesus died on the cross and so far my answers don’t satisfy you. You’re grappling right now with the death of your cat and it breaks my heart to see you sad. I tell you I’m sad too because I am. I wish I could fix all the wrongs in the world for you.

I pray for your salvation. I’m looking forward to and pray for the day when you know God as your God.

Most of all E I just want to tell you how much I love you. Your birth was new life given to me. I count it as one of the greatest joys and greatest privileges to hold you close and smell your hair.
I love that we do so much together. I bring you on an outing every day that we call our ‘adventures’. I buckle you up in your car seat and sing, “We’re gonna go, go, go , go on an adventure!”

Every day I try so hard to be the best mom to you and I pray and ask God every day for help. I know I fail so often and I hope you will forgive me for all the times I fail as a mom. Know that you are my world and I love you with a depth that words could never convey. I love you now and I will love you forever. Happy birthday sweet girl, can’t wait for you to wake up so we can start our day of adventures together! I love you.

Love, mommy

Free and cheap things to do with kids in Russellville AR

I’ve been to several playdates with the MOPS group here in our town but until this past Monday I didn’t have an opportunity to go to one of the MOPS meetings. It was great! One topic of discussion that came up was things to do with kids in our small town that don’t cost a lot of money. I’ve lived here for going on seven years so I’ve had some time to get to know the area but I know there is more out there that I don’t know about so leave a comment about what you like to do in Russellville with your kids and I’ll update the list. I want this list to be something that when I meet moms who are new to the area, I can send them this and give them the scoop on what Russellville has to offer.

Parks:

Bona Dea trail and Washburn Park
Old Post Park- (has a small indoor visitor center)
Lake Dardanelle State Park- (has a great indoor visitor center where kids can touch turtles and look at the tanks filled with local fish. There are also some hands on activities)
Park at First Baptist Church
Shiloh Park
City Park (in the summer has a splash pad)
not a park but Chick Fil A has an indoor play place- good for rainy/cold days
Mount Nebo- year round hiking and camping. Play scape, indoor visitor center and a swimming pool for the summer.
ACME (Arkansas Center for Music Education) 30 minute music class for children up to age 5. 12:00-12:30. $5.00 a month

http://www.ac-me.org

10:00 story time at the library. Emily, the children’s librarian puts a lot of work into making this a good time for the kids. It’s a younger crowd, most kids are age 2-3 but all ages come. They read a few books, sing their ABC’s, stretch, play with a parachute and do either a craft or a coloring sheet. There are toys to play with and most the moms hang around afterwards while the kids play with toys or go on the computer.
Pope county has other library branches that have story times at other times. Other events frequently go on at the library such as movie nights etc. The summer reading program is a lot of fun as well

http://www.popelibrary.org

Saturday’s at Lake Dardanelle State Park. Each month the park puts out a flyer of activities for the month. Usually each Saturday morning there is some free educational program going on for kids. When we have gone, the kids have learned about different bird beaks and camouflage. When it’s cold or raining activities are indoors at the visitor center.

http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/lakedardanelle/

Kroger– okay hear me out on this one! We make grocery shopping an event and my kids act like going to Kroger is going to an amusement park! Get one of those car carts and let them drive, go to the deli and ask for a free cookie. Then on your way out get some stickers!

Story time at Dog Ear Books Thursday’s at 11:30.

http://www.ilovedogear.com

PetSmart and Davis Discount Pet Store. It’s not free to buy stuff but it’s free to look. My kids have fun looking at all the different animals.

MOPS (Mom’s of Preschoolers) Meets the second Monday of each month (except for the summer) for a meeting and has a once a month playdate/ field trip. (Pumpkin picking, meet at the Jump place, Playdate at the Park etc.) $20.00 for the year. Meets at All Saints Episcopal Church 501 S Phoenix Ave. Russellville, AR 72801. Visit the MOPS Facebook page

REACH– (Russellville Education Association of Christian Homeschoolers) if you are a homeschool family Russellville has a thriving homeschool community and REACH is the local co-op. Here’s a link for more information. http://www.rsvlreach.com/

I’ve never been so I can’t say much about it but I know there is an art walk event the first Friday of March, June, September and December. Starts at the train Depot. 6:00-9:00 p.m. http://www.mainstreetrussellville.com

Long Pool– This is our favorite swimming hole in the summer. The trail to the water fall takes us about 30 minutes so it’s one we can do with the kids. Located in the Ozark St. Francis National Forest.

Snow, a day of spring and what I’m listening to

I’ve been listening to To Kill A Mockingbird by Lee Harper on audio. I couldn’t find it on audio at the library but it’s on Youtube. I feel like an emotional mess as I’ve been listening to it! I’ve saw the movie so long ago I couldn’t remember the details of how it ended. I have one more chapter to listen to. It is one of those books where I’m on edge waiting for it to end but I also don’t want it to end because I am so engaged.

While the movie focuses on the trial, which is the main focus of the book, the book also focuses quite a bit on education and the failure of the public school system. Reading between the lines I am picking up on a powerful pro private education message.

After I recover emotionally from reading the book I’ll have to rematch the movie and compare!

Yesterday we were blessed with a beautiful almost 70 degree day, just 5 days after we were playing in the snow in less than 20 degree weather! I couldn’t believe I was out walking with the kids, no coats on! Here’s a snow pic I said I’d share,

img_7274

Snow’s in the snow!

This morning there are a lot of people I have on my heart that I am so burdened for. It seems that every where I turn people I love are hurting and struggling. God is good and I believe He will prevail and get the glory in all these situations. I know that’s vague but it’s what’s on my mind right now.

That’s all I have time to write today, I’ve got a little guy calling for me to come get him out of his crib. Blessings in Christ Jesus!

 

 

A peek into our preschool at home

 

I’ve been asked about pre schooling E at home quite a bit lately so I thought I’d share a little bit of what we’re up to these days.

Tuesday:
For some fun math we had a “number snowball fight.” I would call out a number for E to go stand on and then I’d throw that number of “snowballs” (cotton balls) at her. She would then place the snowballs on the sheet of paper as we counted them together.

img_7083

For some name practice I finally found a use for the cereal made of beans gone stale that I bought in the clearance section!

img_7087

We read a chapter of the Jesus Storybook Bible. Today I read her the story of Joseph.

img_7095

At Arkansas Center For Music Education she got to jingle some bells and maracas and T.J got in on the fun as well.

Tuesday afternoon’s she has gymnastics. She does really well! She’s tiny but she’s strong!

Before bed I read her a chapter from On The Banks Of Plum Creek By Laura Ingalls Wilder. It’s said to be a 5th grade reading level book. Reading E books above her age group and that exceed her vocabulary is a part of my homeschooling philosophy. It’s a lot more fun for me as well!

Wednesday:

I’ve done so many things with these circle stickers I had left over from a yard sale this past summer. After numbering them 1-5 I put them on E’s finger nails. We talked about our ages and stuck stickers on our foreheads and shirts with our ages on them. We did some name stickers too. This one shows how fast and easy a lesson can be. (it’s all wrinkled up because I forgot about taking a picture of it until the baby tried to eat it!)

img_7099

Wednesday mornings we go to the library for story time. Ms. Emily, the children’s librarian puts a lot of work into the kids having a good time. They play with a parachute and then either do a craft or a coloring sheet. Each week we check out as many books as will fit in our library bag.

img_7096

After watching an episode of Sid the Science Kid about airplanes that we checked out at the library, I got on Pinterest and looked up how to make paper airplanes. E liked this one a lot! We went up to our loft and threw them down from up there.

img_7098

We worked for maybe 5 minutes, maybe less, on hand writing practice. I use books from the dollar store. E really doesn’t like practicing letters with a pencil. At 3 years old, I don’t push it. I offer it to her and she can try for as long as she is interested and then she can be done. At this age my main goal is for her to enjoy learning and want to learn. Today she worked some on the letter H.

Before bed we read one of her books she checked out today.

Thursday:
E and Daddy spent time reading together this morning when he got off work.

Today we checked out a story time they were having at a new book store down town. I don’t know if we’ll go back next week. It was a huge hassle to park downtown in the middle of the day and there was only a couple other kids and after wards E wanted so badly for me to buy her a book but they were priced 16-28 dollars and I know those same books are at the library.

We ran a bunch of errands today. Since E was a baby I’ve used outings as opportunities to talk with her and teach her. I usually have an ongoing conversation with her as I drive about why I’m stopping or what road were on why I’m changing lanes.

Today at the pet store I helped her count fish and we talked about how much the birds cost. I know this all sounds like just life and not school but that’s the point I’m trying to make- for us they are one in the same.

While we were at the grocery store I made sure to pick up some more cheap salt so we could make some more homemade play dough. She loves play dough! I wish I had gotten a picture of what she ended up creating. She made a pretty impressive octopus!

img_7102

Friday:
E woke up tired and clingy. I read her a bunch of books and then she just wanted to lay around. I set up a shape craft for her and tried to entice her to do a shape game but she didn’t feel like it. When she didn’t want to do play dough I knew something was wrong! Sure enough by dinnertime she was running a fever. Thankfully by Saturday morning her fever was gone so it was just a quick bug.
One of the books we read was about a girl who was sick. E could identify!
I told her in 3 year old terms about her immune system and how the white blood cells were working hard to gobble up the virus in her body. She also seemed pretty fascinated when I taught her how her blood is pumped and taught her to feel her pulse on her neck and on her wrist. About every 5 minutes she informed us that her heart was still beating. Good to know! ha ha

Monday:

We were invited over the home of a homeschool mom and friend of mine who is doing a book club/discussion group going through the book For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer.

We made cookie dough for the kids to roll out and cut shapes out of. While the cookies baked and cooled, the kids watched a movie and ate popcorn while the moms discussed the book. Today we discussed habit formation specifically building the habits of self control and selflessness in children.

The kids then got to decorate!

img_7124

img_7119

img_7128

When I was a kid in public school, the week before break I remember consisting of eating sugar and cleaning out our desks. That means I am totally counting decorating cookies with friends as “preschool time.”  🙂

Everyone enjoy your time with your family this week!

I don’t know that you’ll hear from me on the blog until next year- we’ve got some fun stuff planned for the rest of the year! I’ve got a lot of posts in my head though I want to share come January.

 

 

T.V free rainy day activities

Yesterday was a cold and rainy day (that turned beautiful late afternoon!) I thought I’d share with you some of the ways my kids stayed busy inside.

  1. make something yummy. I usually do fast and easy to clean up breakfast but since we weren’t going any where I took the time to let E help me make some low carb waffles. Sticky deliciousness! img_6927

2. make a treasure hunt. This is something my dad used to do with my brother and I and we LOVED it as kids. It didn’t matter what we were looking for, the thrill was hunting down the next direction. I had E go in her room while I hid the directions. I knocked on her door and with a “pirate voice” presented her with a map. I had directions hid all over, including inside the fridge and stuck to the toilet! The end the map led her to my nail polish stuff and I painted her nails. Can you tell she couldn’t pick which color she wanted?!

img_6922img_6928

3. Make baby a special spot. I had recently moved our Mark Twain collection that was on this bottom shelf because our 13 month old was destroying them. I put down a blanket and moved most of the baby books that couldn’t be torn from E’s room and set them up on that bottom shelf. It kept him entertained for a good 15 minutes which I realize in baby world is a good amount of time. 🙂 img_6934

4. Play with a sheet. Do you remember in elementary school playing with one of those rainbow parachutes in gym class? My kids love it when we I shake a sheet over their heads or we toss a stuffed animal up in the air. Of course we ended up making a tent! E’s favorite is rolling her up like a burrito, pretending to put hot sauce on her and then gobbling her up. I don’t know why kids love that so much. I can still remember taking ballet class when I was 7 and my favorite part of the class was when the teacher at the end would roll us up in the mats before she put them away and pretended we were burritos! I still remember how much fun that was!

5. Indulge your child’s imagination. Lately E has really been into pretending she is a dragon and asking me to play dragon with her. I cut out dragon shaped feet and after we decorated them taped them to her shoes.

 

6. paper chains. I used to spend hours as a child seeing how long I could make a paper chain! While I ran errands daddy made a really long one with E that is now hanging from the stair railing.

 

As a disclaimer, just because I titled this “T.V free activities” doesn’t mean my kids didn’t watch T.V. ! E watched little Einstein until I’m sure her eyes were hurting lol. Rainy days can be long! (especially when your kids wake up waaaay early and don’t nap..)

 

 

 

Snow Family favorite memories from 2016

In no particular order here’s us taking some time to think back on some of the memories we made together this year. This year has been a good one. I think 2016 has been the or one of the best/ easiest years of my life. No major tragedy occurred and I wasn’t struggling through the stress of a high risk pregnancy. T.J has been a very easy baby allowing us to do a lot of different things even when he was really little.

I think a theme I see in our list of favorite memories is that we like to try new things together as a family. Even though traveling can be difficult with little ones, despite the hardships, those are the times that stick out in our minds as the most fun.

I have been very blessed!

 

Megan:

our time in St.Louis and Iowa visiting family

doing a Hope In God Bible study with friends

bringing Ella to swimming lessons for the first time

starting Ella in gymnastics this fall

my brother Elijah and sister Sarah coming to visit for a week in the summer

The March birthday party we had at a ranch for all the kids in our family who had a March Birthday

doing the summer reading program with Ella

touring a cave and going swimming with family

time spent on Sunday afternoons with church friends

going on an overnight date night with my husband and the other dates we had this year- bike riding, visiting a museum, eating out

getting family photos done in the spring

our train ride in Colorado

Ella:

playing with Betsy (her cousin)

playing in the snow in Colorado

getting two kittens

Tanner:

snowboarding in Colorado

going to Iowa and St. Louis

img_6091 img_2287 img_6348 img_5009

Psalm 65:11

Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness.