Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phillipians 4:8

Winter Sun Catchers

I am always on the lookout for fun new things to try with the girls. Yesterday, I found this idea while browsing the internet:

We started our colorful cubes yesterday.

Today, Sage and I worked on the next step of combining them in the cake pan.

Tomorrow, we'll be ready to hang our beautiful ice art! :)

Sunday Afternoon Photowalk

A JOYful Saturday...

There is JOY in....

Painting the snow with colored water.

Jumping off walls into the snow.

Fires in the snow and hanging out with Daddy.

Getting up close with the duck.

Fresh squeezed lemon-limeade.

Tea parties.

Homemade pizza.

Early bedtimes.

Backwards Night

It was a night of family fun at our house last night, as Mommy had a new trick up her sleeve...Backwards Night!!

When Regan got home from school, the front door was locked and she found a note attached that said 'Welcome home Regan! Get ready to have some fun because tonight is Backwards Night! Now, please, come in through the BACK door!!'

Once she came in the house, she had already been thinking about what that meant. When she started asking questions, I directed her to another note that said:

So, what is backwards night?

Nothing is as it was.
Daddy does what mommy does
Mommy is Daddy
Regan is Sage
Dessert is for dinner
and don't act your age!

The grownups are kids
and go to bed first
and maybe you
wear each others shirts!!

What else will happen?
Let's wait and see!
I only know one thing,
how fun it will be!!

The note was printed backwards, so she did a bit of quick thinking and took it upstairs where she could hold a small mirror next to it and read what it said. She was pretty excited and immediately began jabbering about all the details of Mommy and Daddy going to bed first and her and Sage staying up late.

The next step was transforming each girl into the other. Sage was all in and was eager to have braids in her hair and put on Regan's pjs.

Regan was not quite as thrilled. Our fun plans hit their first snag as Regan began to let her long list of 'I'm NOT going to...' be known, complete with hands on the hips and a foot stomps. She was NOT going to have her hair in bundles, she was NOT going to wear Sage's clothes or pajamas or even her own pajamas that matched the snowman ones Sage always wears, etc..

OK...parenting dilemma  number one. What and how much do you make your child do in the name of fun? I didn't want to force her to do things, just to fit into my expectations of what the night was supposed to be, yet her attitude was one of complete disrespect and was not by any means acceptable. A few gentle encouragements and alternate suggestions made little impact on her disposition. In the end, I got down on my knees and had an eye to eye conversation with her. I let her know that I was really looking forward to a night of fun, but that she would not be able to participate if she could not turn her attitude around. She agreed to change the way she was behaving and we made a fresh start. It still took a little bit, but she worked through most of the attitude issues.

Once they were all dressed and hair fixed, we had two adorable little backwards kids!! They were giggling like crazy while they discussed that Marley was 'kitty' and kitty was Marley for the night and started acting like dogs.

Next, I knew we would need to fill a bit of time before Daddy (or should I say Mommy!) came home, so we played a fun game that I made up. It was inspired by a conversation with friends based on Regan's aper pairplane tongue twister from the night before. I made a whole list of mixed up word combinations for girls to solve. We started with a couple easy ones, like flutterby and aper pairplane, so they could get the jist of the game. After working through my list of 20 or so, things like tish fank, fird beeder, gray plound, Regan quickly caught on and took her turn making some up for Sage and I to solve. We read them all to Daddy at dinner time and let him try to solve them too. The girls got a good laugh at some of Daddy's silly answers.

Once Daddy was home, it was dinner time! And what do you have for dinner on backwards night? Dessert, of course!! Sage and I made some brownies earlier in the day and picked up ice cream at the store. We got out all the fixins we could find and had ice cream sundaes for dinner!

After dinner was family movie night. We signed up for Netflix last week and received our first DVD in the mail - Despicable Me (or Destickable Me as Sage would say!!).

We all enjoyed the movie, but I think the girls were even more excited when the movie was done. That meant it was time for them to put Mommy and Daddy to bed!! First, Daddy demanded his bedtime snack. After some discussions about how many 'strikes' he had for misbehavior and whether he had earned enough back doing his chores, it was decided that daddy could indeed have some popcorn.

After the popcorn was made, we were ordered to our bed. The girls tried to quickly escape so they could return downstairs to watch some more tv and finish all the ice cream (just like daddy would do when they go to bed! LOL!). Daddy and I weren't quite finished with bedtime routine though! We insisted on bedtime story and, of course, had to pull all the antics the girls usually do! I think we burned off all the ice cream we ate with all the laughing we did!!

The girls returned to the living room to have their night of staying up late and watching tv. They were able to find lots of fun things to watch on Netflix on demand. Of course, they had a few interruptions from the 'kids' who were supposed to be sleeping - you know, requests for water, to turn down the volume, bathroom visits. :)

They wandered upstairs shortly before 11 pm to put themselves to bed. It had been discussed earlier that they would switch beds for the night. What sounded good to everyone a few hours before no longer sounded like a good idea to Regan. So, we ended the night with another list if 'I'm NOT going to...' sleep in Sage's bed, use her sleeping bag, let her sleep in my bed, etc....complete with crying and tears. Parenting dilemma number two - there is never an easy answer to make everyone happy. We stuck with the original plan of switching beds and in five minutes it didn't really matter, as everyone was sound asleep. :)

The girls have already asked today when the the next backwards night will be. I had a brief conversation with each about how much fun it was and if they liked it, which they did! Regan and I also chatted a bit about changing some behaviors next time, which she agreed to work on.  It was a fun night and definitely something we will do again. Hopefully these will be the  memories they will carry with them for a lifetime. :)

Aper Pairplanes

Yesterday at the library, Sage picked up a Berenstain Bears book about balloon powered paper airplanes. It had all kind of ideas for experimenting with different balloons and combined with different types of planes.

So, the girls set out to give it try. They made construction paper planes.

Powered by the only balloons we have on hand - round party type balloons.

This combination didn't fly so well.

The book also suggested newspaper planes.

Which didn't fly so well either.

Even with reinforced still flopped.

So, our flight success was 0%, but we still had fun trying.  And, we got quite a few laughs as Regan's tongue seemed to keep getting twisted as she would ask me to help with her 'Aper Pairplanes'. :)

A Willing Helper

My attempts to do more baking and cooking from scratch again have resulted in a lot more time spent in the kitchen. Along with that extra time comes the addition of two eager helpers. The girls have always loved to bake with me and I am just starting to include them in more cooking as well. Having them help most often results in things taking longer and being messier than if I do it alone, but I know it's worth the effort.

Today, Sage was very excited about helping clean up. She washed almost all the tools we used in preparing tonight's pasta dinner. Were they perfectly cleaned? Probably not! LOL! But it's all part of learning, right?

And yes, she is balancing on about a four inch ledge in front of the sink. Have I ever told you this child is part monkey? and she has strength and balance that is beyond fathomable!!

Backyard Treats

One of the great things about living in the woods is watching the wildlife right outside the kitchen window. I never tire of seeing the regular visitors. There are deer, turkeys, squirrels and many varieties of birds that come and visit often. Occasionally, we get the 'special' visitors too. The creatures that only visit sporadically, take your breath away by their beauty and quickly leave before you can hardly catch a glimpse, let alone snap a picture. Today, Sage and I were blessed to watch two pileated woodpeckers for about a ten minute period of time. We sometimes catch them in the thick of trees and grab a glimpse or two, but today they lingered a bit, in some trees right at the edge of the woodline. It was fun to watch them and also sweet to watch Sage grab the binoculars and enjoy God's creatures as well.

What's for breakfast?

I love breakfast! It is my favorite meal of the day. About once a week, we even have breakfast type food for dinner. :) Out of convenience, weekdays have typically been cold cereal for the girls and I and Paul is quick to skip breakfast all together. To add some variety for all of us and to make it easy for Paul to grab something quick, I have been doing some baking of breakfast type things.

One of my favorites, and Regan's too, is Morning Glory Cake. It started as a Morning Glory Muffin recipe that I have made numerous nutritional improvements to. I bake it in a pan, instead of muffins, making it faster to bake a large batch. Add a glass of milk and it makes a scrumptious breakfast or mid-morning snack. :)

Morning Glory Cake (makes 2 - 9"x13" pans)

2 cups quick oats
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup wheat germ
2/3 cup white flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tsp baking soda
4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
4 cups finely chopped carrots (about 1 lb bag baby carrots)
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup finely chopped pecans
6 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 apples - finely chopped
4 tsp vanilla

Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl (through pecans).

Whisk together eggs, oil, applesauce, chopped apples and vanilla.

Pour wet ingredients over dry mixture and stir until combined.

Grease 2 - 9x13 pans. Divide batter between pans. Bake @ 350 degrees for 30 min.

This recipe freezes very well. Layer in storage container with plastic wrap between layers. Microwave individual pieces 15-20 seconds to thaw and ENJOY!!

What's your favorite breakfast recipe?

Another great Sunday

It was a gorgeous, but cold, sunny Sunday today. After feeding our souls at morning worship and feeding our bellies with some lunch, Paul and the girls headed outside. After finishing some outside chores, Paul spent some time with Regan and built a snow tunnel through the mound of snow in the front yard. (Sage was inside thawing out a bit.)

After a bit of warming up inside, the girls and Marley headed back out to play. I'm not sure who was having the most fun in the tunnel...



...or Regan.

And every day outside in the snow means a quest for icicles.

The girls have even started looking at homes and buildings as we drive through town, discussing what they would do if they could get their hands on some of the HUGE ones they spy out the car window.

The snow tunnel joy came crashing down temporarily, after Sage (aka - Destructo) crashed one of the entrances. Not willing to be done with the fun, Regan set out to re-dig the opening.

Marley is always up for a game of snow soccer.

 And the late afternoon sun was actually bright enough to cause a bit of squinting. A rare occurrence during the Michigan winters.

After dinner, Daddy watched the rest of the Packers-Bears playoff game. Then we all watched 'UP' via Netflix. While we waited for the game to finish, the girls and I bided our  time by making cake mix cookies.

I had a triple chocolate cake mix and Sage chose mint and dark chocolate chips for the mix-in. YUMMY!

At one point in the movie, Russell was talking about sitting on a curb, eating ice cream with his dad and counting red and blue cars as they went by. He says to Mr. Fredricksen saying 'I like that curb. It might sound boring, but I think the boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most.'

It's the 'boring', little things they remember the most, isn't it? A lesson Mr. Fredricksen and I both are learning. :)

I'm a Bag Lady

I've never been much of a purse person, but I do love a great bag! My current everyday bag is this great backpack/sling that I picked up on vacation last summer. It has lots of outside pockets for holding the things I need easy access to - wallet, phone, pen, etc., as well as a nice big main compartment. The main compartment has been home to many things, including my camera, changes of clothes for Sage, snacks for hiking on vacation, Bible and notebook for BSF, and most recently, a place to safely store hats and mittens  when we reach our destinations.

So, what about you? Are you a bag lady? Or do you love a great purse?

A Good Decision

Ten years ago, when we built our house, there were so many decisions to make. Some of them, we chose wisely and others are now in the proverbial hindsight. One decision I am thankful we made was to put our laundry area inside our walk-in closet of the master bedroom.

I tend to be an 'out of sight - out of mind' type of person. Having the laundry in a highly visible place has helped me keep current on it...for the most part. :) I also love my green hamper, everything goes in there - full hamper = full load = time to do the wash. (No, I do not sort my laundry - please don't gasp too loud! LOL!)

Reading list

Our public library is right across the street from the church where the girls attend Awana. This makes it a convenient place to hang out while the girls are at their meeting and has inspired me to do a bit of reading again. My eyes are also welcoming the break from the nightly 'screen time' that seems to be causing a bit of strain.

Last night, I stopped in to pick up 'Loving Our Kids on Purpose' - by Danny Silk. It came as a recommendation from my good friend Caroline and I am looking forward to reading it. I love that our library has an online, inter-library loan system. I was able to use it to request this book from a library that is 30 miles away. It was delivered to my local library and they emailed me letting me know it had arrived. How great is that!

While I was there, I also took a few minutes to look through our libraries used book room. I mostly look for books for the girls, but found a few treasures for myself last night. For a whopping one dollar, I added these gems to my collection:

- 'God's Little Instruction Book - Inspirational Wisdom on how to live a happy and fulfilled life' - I have always loved these little 'tidbit' type books, but never want to spend a bunch of money on one!!
- 'Promises for Moms'- This is kind of a neat little book that has scripture verses categorized so you can easily find verses for a certain 'topic' - like grace, patience, provision, JOY!! Thought this would be a great tool to find verses that I want to memorize.

- 'Maybe it's time to Laugh Again - Experience Outrageous Joy' - Well, how could I resist that title! It's a study guide of Phillipians written by Chuck Swindoll

"Your words are windows to your heart"  - God's Little Instruction Book

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  Matthew 12:34b


    I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

    As Regan prepares for Awana tonight, I am envious of the girls and their early in life scripture memorization. They have inspired me, though, to embark on my own journey of hiding more of God's word in my heart. :)