Pass or fail?

YEP

I found this picture today during my mini blog-browsing session while the kids napped and I couldn’t help but stare at it – for a LONG time. First off, this young boy is SO cute! There are many reasons that I believe this statement to be true, but my intention is not to elaborate on that today. Experiences and observations of real life situations, dating back far before Noah was born, have led me to believe and understand the intended truth described here. I understand some may disagree and, of course, this is also not true of all students or all situations. But for some, it surly is! I was not one of the students described here. However, I have a special place in my heart for those that are/were. I simply wanted to share it and save it, with plans of revisiting it in the near future.

We are looking forward to spending 4 days camping in the woods in Indiana. I plan to spend every moment answering questions about the natural world for our son. “Why do some bugs have wings and some do not?” I love that one of my most clearly-defined memories of middle school is that of my leaf project from Mr. Walberg’s science class. We had to spend weeks out in the woods, on our oun time, collecting leaves from roughly 50 different tree types. I can still identify almost every tree and leaf found in Michigan today. I have learned most of what has and will contribute to my happiness…outdoors! Camping with the family is going to be awesome this weekend and we are blessed with a fantastic weather forecast, too!

Untill next time! What do you love most about camping or being outdoors?

Is there a more noble or noteworthy life?

There are always the days where I think, “I could be doing something more noble or noteworthy.” I think about this often, actually. I wonder if all the energy, effort, passion and love that I put forth everyday in my parenting could be of better use elsewhere. As much as I love, love, LOVE being home, it would be a lie if I said I never give thought to where else I could be focusing all of that energy and effort. The good news is…I know where that energy and effort would be invested. My heart knows. I know. God knows. He has been speaking it into my heart since 11th grade. So, I guess it is good that I know what I want to do when I grow up. But until then, are my efforts noteworthy and noble? I’m not sure.
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And then I get a daily devo email from Proverbs 31 Ministries that says something that speaks straight to my heart, “Whether you are investing in your own children, or someone else’s, keep up the greatness in the common moments. It may seem like nothing, but you matter. You’re building. You’re seen.”  It stated, “I know I’m not the only one who sees her sacrifices of love. I know that these common moments, built one upon the other, create great lifetimes. These moments are mostly free, yet they cost quite a bit, don’t they? Their currency? Time, energy, selflessness, dreams and yes, sleep. All these investments build a life of loving high and deep.” I wonder if that is the case?
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God always shows up in my life right at the right moments and I am so grateful to be living a life for Him. “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.” 1 Peter 3:12a (ESV) What do you think? Is there a more noble or noteworthy life you could be living? Could you be using your education to change the world? Food for thought.
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Camping-Themed Playdate

 

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First, just set up a tent in the backyard! They loved this!

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I got our craft idea for today from Tippytoe Crafts, but I made up my own version…simply using things I had! No brown cardstock? Use popsicle sticks! ! She has many great camping-themed craft ideas! 

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These snacks were so easy! Pretzel rods=tasty fire logs (I got this idea from Pinterest, but I cannot find the blog it was linked to). Golden Grahams, mini marshmallows, and semi-sweet milk chocolate chips – toss it in a basket and you have yourself S’Mores Trail Mix! The trail mix was all me.

There you go! My secret is out! All you need to do is think of a theme and them come up with a fun snack and craft! Easy peasy. The kids will figure the rest out! There is something about being surround be kids, laughter, friends and smiles that makes coming up with these simple themed ideas so worth while. Enjoy and, as always, feel free to post with questions!

Blueberries Abound!

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BEAUTIFUL BERRIES!

Blessed to see another Monday not promised! We had a great time and picked nearly 15 lbs. Picking blueberries in hot weather, Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, homemade blueberry white chocolate chip cookies, and of course, a blueberry craft this afternoon! What can I say? I like a theme here and there……..

It is blueberry time in Michigan, so my husband and I took Noah and his two cousins, Addison and Alyssa, to pick blueberries this morning. There is something about sweating in a farm field, picking fruit, that helps me to shed the slightest insight and understanding to the unimaginable work and time that goes into growing and farming. It amazes me! These farm families have so much to be proud of! This year we have visited several farms and I am always impressed at the humble and charming personality of the experience. We have had such memorable experiences!

Anyway, the point of this post is to share ideas and to help create a blueberry day for your family! First, go have fun picking blueberries! Let them explore, taste, smell and touch whatever they want. Laugh, have fun, and take your time!

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We ate blueberry white chocolate cookies for snack while we were at the farm! YUMMY!

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After you go home, have them help with what storing process and explain why you might freeze some, can some, bake with some, etc. Moments like these – AT HOME – are how children learn about real life. Savor and take full advantage of the moment to TEACH your child.

In the afternoon, we did a few “blueberry-themed” activities that took me all of 10 minutes to come up with – gathering all the supplies included. Here it is! I was ready for the afternoon. Things like this do not have to take a lot of time at all.

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First, I had an idea to grab some paint color strips from my craft room and I would invite the kids to match real blueberries to the colors to see what color best matched the true color of a blueberry. We then talked a little bit about how green “blueberries” and purple “blueberries” may not yet be ready to pick or eat. So simple, but it engaged a lot of interest and questions. Noah decided the darkest color was the best match (and then he scarfed down his 5 berries…little did he know, I had another project in mind with them!) LOVE.

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Second, with a little pinspiration from little page turners, I had another idea in mind for some blueberry fun. We were going to use our real blueberries, dip them in blue paint, stamp them all over a sheet of paper, and then later, I told them we were going to build a basket to hold our “berries”! They loved it and their art turned out precious!

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And in the end, we read a classic story about blueberry picking, had a lot of fun, and ate tons of blueberries. I have so much fun every day!

Let me know if you have any questions about this post or any other past posts! It is always my wish that every parent share creative moments in life with their children, so I enjoy sharing ideas! Do you have any fun summer ideas? I’d love to hear! Also, right below is a SHARE button to post my blog link to you FB timeline or Twitter. Would you do that for me?

The Small Moments Matter

The small moments matter, just as I need to realize that taking the time to document them on my blog, or where ever, also matters. On Monday, Steve and I took the time to explain to Noah that he no longer has to take a rest time after lunch because of daddy’s new job and him working 2nd shift (not to mention, he will be attending preschool in the afternoon this fall). Steve and I decided, together, that the time Noah has here during the day should be spent with daddy. The look on his face and the excitement he felt was priceless. The moment was so awesome. His smile and facial expression, once he confirmed to us what he had just heard, was something I want to always remember. I have the tendency to want to document every moment such as this. That was a substantial moment in his growth and although may seem small in the long-term, it was absolutely a reason to celebrate with him at that moment because to him it seemed SO BIG.
I will always remember the days that I decided no phone call or text was worth missing the dreams, questions, or tender, silly words of my child. I am so grateful for Noah and the honest and powerful reminder the he represents to grasp the moments that matter because too often, they only come around once.
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Lemonade Playdoh!

Good evening, readers! I was in a really summery mood this afternoon while the kids were resting/napping and I decided to get creative!

First of all, I have something to share. There is always a reason for everything I do. This morning I was reading a chapter in The Happiness Project and I read something so true about myself when I give it thought; [what you find fun and what contributes largely to your happiness] can be answered so easliy, at least for me. “What did you like to do when you were a child? What you enjoyed as a ten-year-old is probably something you’d enjoy now.” WOW! This statement hits the nail RIGHT on the head! When I sit and consider my answer to that question, I can’t help but giggle! My life growing up was commonplace for crafting (I used to get boxes of supplies for Christmas gifts…Santa knew me too well), “playing school”, organizing my friend’s barbie clothes, cutting things I wanted to remember out of magazines (and saving them in organized binders), and taping newspaper articles all over my bedroom wall (ones that in later years always had political interests all over them). As Gretchen Rubin put it so nicely, “Having some kind of physical way of preserving information keeps good ideas vivid and creates unexpected juxtapositions.” And order. It keeps them in order. This is me!

Why do I tell this story in a DIY Lemonade Playdoh post you might ask?! Because this idea came to mind when I was flipping through an old binder (of magazing clippings) and I saw a lemon. Yep, a lemon…in a magazine picture! Next thought in my mind….my “was-going-to-be a relaxing afternoon while the kids rest” turned into a big kitchen mess! There I was, headed up the stairs to feed my love for creativity…making LEMONADE PLAYDOH! So here is your DIY tutorial complete with photos. Common’…every child needs to see, touch and smell Lemonade Playdoh!

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Here is everything you will need (oh, an a large sauce pan). Can you tell I am a baker with all my matching baking accessories (HA!)? Not.

Combine in a large saucepan:

1C all purpose flour

1/4 C salt (regular salt…make a mistake and use sea salt and you will have yourself a very BUMPY sensory expierence)

1 t cream of tarter

Add and whisk until smooth:

1 C water

1 T oil (I use canola, but I am sure any would be fine)

Yellow food coloring

Cook over medium heat until it is almost set. Stir until it playdoh forms into a ball. Remove from heat and knead when cool. ( You will need to store it in an airtight plastic container or plastice bag.

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But first, ADD GLITTER (Joanns is where the large container came from) and Lemon Essential Oil (I bought mine at Hobby Lobby)! This is what makes it summery, fun, and lemonade-ish!

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Here is what your finished product will look like! Summer fun…just like THAT!

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Now, package some up and go deliver it to all the neighbor kids, friends and cousins!

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And then, COME HOME AND PLAY! Smell it, touch it, knead it, drink some lemonade and, as always, add more glitter!!!!!!

Thanks for checking out this DIY on my blog! Please share the url with your friends and most importantly, have fun with your child(ren)! Happy summer!

Changing Seasons….

I feel like a lot has happened so far this summer and I realized time is FLYING when we got the first cute little preschool tuition invoice in the mail. Preschool is EXPENSIVE! Stepping off my soap box now…

4th of July was a BIG hit here! I think it is imperative that children know WHY we celebrate holidays such as Independence Day. We spent the day covered in glitter, red, white, and blue, and eating festive ice cream sandwiches, but most importantly, we talked about the great country we live in. Freedom. Freedom to worship a God we love. Freedom to hang our flag in pride. Freedom to salute our fallen soldiers. Afterall, Steve can attest that I read Noah the US Constitution often while he was in-utero because THEY CAN HEAR! 😉 Noah loves our country so much that he wants to visit EVERY state! I strive to make his dreams come true, so we will have to see!

We also ventures to Coloma and Benton Harbor area to pick rasberries and sweet cherries on the 4th! I love teaching Noah the work that goes into growing and farming; not to mention, what foods are in season in this great growing region of ours!!!

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As you probably could have guessed, my personality nature is not that of a spontaneous one at all. I try so hard to be! Today after visiting the farmers market, we made a stop and they were selling six 5-week-old bunnies! Noah was petting them and loving on them the whole time we were there. He acted as he always does around animals that don’t belong to him. He loves animals so much. Meanwhile, I was silently begging Steve to let us take one home! THEY WERE ONLY $10! A substantially SMALL price to pay knowing how happy it was going to make our little boy. With that being said, we have been considering a puppy for a long time, but we are not sure if we are ready for that (and all the potential expense and hair that comes along with it). This would be the perfect fit and I know it! Needless to say, we left with the bunny that Noah picked out. Welcome to the family, Snowball! I am quite sure you will love it here! We have a lot of fun.

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On a less happy note, I put in my two-week resignation at Kalamazoo Right to Life on June 22nd and July 5th was my last day there. After over 3 years as the Office Manager at KRTL, I had given this choice so much prayerful thought and consideration and it was time for me to let that go. After training a spectacular replacement, who actually reminds me a lot of myself when I was just out of college, I am assured that she will do a fantastic job. She is a trailblazer for her age in the pro-life movement and I cannot wait to see what she accomplishes at KRTL while she is there. Knowing I had a great replacement made leaving easier, but still not easy. I was offer and started that job in April of 2010 and it has been a part of our lives, volunteering, and family ever since. As I drove away, I was praying and thanking God for the flexible opportunity that had allowed me to keep “being a mom” as my very top priority! Although I had an office, they allowed me to work primarily from home which, of course, provided me the opportunity to do pro-life work on the fly while I was attending storytimes and cleaning peanut butter off the walls. For several months now, I have been feeling a tug at my heart. I knew something was telling me where to put my focus. How do I know? I know because I feel complete joy and happiness when I am doing what I love. So now, I can attend the KRTL annual dinners and instead of being a ball of stress sweating in the corner, I can serve on the dinner planning committee, volunteer when I can, and no longer have the obligation weighing me down. Not to mention, I am running a full tim daycare out of my home. Therefore, working part-time for KRTL and being expected to take phone calls in a professional manner from home is just a few steps away from being crazy. Can you hear it, “Kalamazoo Right to Life, this is Amanda.” (But, I say this frantically as I am running out to the front yard – ie. my office). Although, I believe strongly that it is safe to assure you that will not be the last time you see my name turn up in the pro-life movement. My family and closest friends can certainly attest to that! “Simple morality dictates that unless and until someone can prove the unborn human is not alive, we must give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it is (alive). And, thus, it should be entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” – Ronald Reagan 1982 For only now, the time had come for me to go, but I know I will be back!

I have something exciting to share! I got a call today that the largest quilt I have ever made is back from the professional quilter. My birthday gift from my in-laws was to have this quilt quilted! I am so excited! I made it for our bed and it is going to be beautiful in our bedroom. The picture below is of the quilt totally pieced but not yet quilted. Eeeeeeeeek!

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Lastly, Steve starts his new job on Monday!!!! I am so excited for him. We have heard so many great things about Kalsec including; “Kalsec is the best kept secret in Kalamazoo”, “I know someone who retired from there a very happy person!”, and “It is a great, family friendly company.” I think he is in for challenges, tons of learning, and a journey that will benefit our family beyond words. I cannot wait to update with more once he starts and gets settled.

Many changes in life seasons going on in the Rice household the past few months! We are thrilled and have remained optimistic. We have a big, fun summer planned and we are in no rush for it to end. Feel free, as always, to comment below! I would love to hear what every is up to this summer so far. Until next time, readers…