Thursday, April 30, 2009

Loving Learning



This is a picture of my 3 youngest recently.
We have been enjoying school SO MUCH! One of my biggest goals is not that I will have taught my kids everything there is to know (I Can't!), but rather that I will have taught them how fun learning can be. It has been so much fun for me lately as they have all been wanting and asking to learn. They have practically been begging!
I had Jonathan doing 1st grade math which had adding, subtracting, times, money etc. That was going fine for him but he decided he really wanted to do division and multiplying. He quickly worked through the easy book so that I would give him new harder pages. Jonathan has also fallen in love with reading which I always love to see. If a child loves reading then the world is open to them.
I hadn't started Aaron on schoolwork yet (he turned 5 in Oct. and I am not into rushing a child into schoolwork) but lately he has decided he wants to do schoolwork. He has really been enjoying oral math (As he explains, "I understand now how it works") and has been amazing us with how well he is grasping it. He has also started asking for papers to work on. He also wants to read and has made a little progress.
Of course Megan can't miss out on all the fun. She has to do "schoolwork" too when everybody else is. She is learning to color in the lines which is fun.
Now of course not everything is perfect, there are still times they would rather play but I am excited because I have 4 children who are asking to learn, wanting more and sharing in my excitement of putting more information in our brains. If that keeps up I will be very satisfied with out homeschool experience!


Monday, April 27, 2009

Petal baskets for flower girls

As many of you know I have a wedding flower business. I decided it would be fun to make petal baskets to sell too and did a little experimenting and came up with one that was pretty easy to make and has sold well too.

It is a pretty simple fabric covered basket. (this one also has some extra details of pearl beads) It is pretty quick and simple to make and I will attempt to do a tutorial for you.
To make the basket I started with a (I was making two baskets so many pictures show 2) a 32 ounce yogurt container (or cottage cheese container or anything the you think is a good size for a basket) and I cut the top off to make it a little shorter. I also took a handle from an ice cream pail. The other item shown is quilt batting.I cut out fairly round fabric that is big enough to cover the bottom and all sides and a little ways over the sides on the yogurt container. For this basket I hand sewed a bunch of pearls on but that is not a necessary step.
I hot glued (watch out this can be very hot!) batting around the handle. Then I used a paper punch and punched a hole on either side of the top of the container (about 1/2 inch down) and then snap the handle in. Hot glue the fabric down on the ends so that the handle will stand upright. I cut a strip of fabric around 3 inches wide and about 1 1/2 times as long as the handle. Fold the strip in half (length wise) with the right sides together and make a 1/2 inch seam. Turn so it is right side out and slip over the handle.
Then set the basket in the middle of the wrong side of the circle. Hot glue as shown on the middle of the front and the back. Glue the fabric down all the way around, pleating it up as you go. The using some fabric sew a little bag that you can glue inside for the lining.


That is the last step, You now have a pretty little basket! I am doing this tutorial when I am rather sleepy and I know it is not very detailed. If you have any questions feel very free to ask in the comment section!

Do Hard Things!

I recently read the book "Do Hard Things" by Alex and Brett Harris and I really enjoyed it! When they wrote this (2008) they were teenagers that were starting "a teenage rebellion against low expectations". They call it the Rebelution. There book is so refreshing because in an era of teenagers being thought of as hard to deal with, lazy, you can't expect much from them, wild, un-disciplined....the list can go on and on, they show clearly that it doesn't have to be that way. There are teenagers out there (and I personally am pleased to know quite a few!) that aren't that way AND no teenager needs to be that way.

Our day in age however has given teenagers for the most part very low expectations and so they live up to them. This needs to change and it can change little by little in each home as either (and hopefully both) parents and kids decide that the teenage years can be great years for accomplishing things, learning and truly launching out on a lifetime of living for God.

Reading the book made me really excited about my kids reaching their teen years (though I am happy to have them at the age they are currently!!). I don't think we need to be scared but as we train them now we can also work to inspire them to want to be all that they can be and never give in to mediocrity!

The book also made me think of my own teen years. I was super blessed to be raised by wonderful christian parents in a christian home. In view of the book I can look at my own teenage years without regret. I grew up without a TV or computer to distract me (though I know teenagers can be raised well with both of those around as well), I was taught to love learning and working and during my teen years I was able to be a worker in the church, a worker in the home, work outside the home, go on a mission trip and help out at christian camps and I also was able to really pursue some of my interests like music. I have no regrets at all but I realize now that I could have even done more. But it is never to late to do stuff and I want to do as much as I can for God now too.

I do recommend this book, as with pretty much every book I read I didn't agree with everything 100% but that is why we all need to be comparing whatever we read, anywhere with what God says in his word!

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Speaks-to-me-Sunday


Isaiah 48:17
"By the power of his Spirit the Lord God has sent me with this message:
People of Israel, I am the holy Lord God,
the one who rescues you.
For your own good, I teach you, and lead you along the right path."

Aren't we blessed to have a heavenly Father who is always wanting what is best for us and who is willing to teach us and guide us in the right ways?! I know I feel very, very blessed!


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Getting rid of some clutter!

As I had mentioned a week ago, this week was one of getting rid of things at our house! It was so nice to go through stuff and down size. Though I don't know that you want to see all our stuff that headed out the door, I do have pictures of a lot of it.



My main ways to get rid of stuff were:


  • Return everything that belonged to someone else.

  • Give stuff away to someone else that might enjoy it.

  • Throw stuff away and recycle stuff.

  • Box stuff up for a garage sale or giveaway.

The top pictures was my Sunday stuff. Returning some stuff, taking a magazine to my parents to read and a newspaper to our international student because her picture was in it.


On Monday we did some major going through in both kid's rooms. I don't have any pictures but we came up with a huge tote full of stuff, as well as a bunch of trash and paper to recycle.


On Tuesday I gave away some Maple syrup and gave a (good) book to somebody else to read.


This is a whole box of stuff is stuff I lent to a student friend who was wanting some props for her pictures. A bunch of stuff to go back to Mom and Dad's and also some cleaning stuff for the church building.
I find fun Magazines hard to get rid of, especially when they have neat tips that I might want to use later. I really enjoy both of these magazines (Martha Steward Living and Family Fun) but decided if I needed anything in either of them I could find it later online. I gave them to a friend and my sister and hope that they have as much fun looking through them as I did (and then they can pass them on or recycle them).
It is amazing to me how fast we can get a bunch of stuff to be recycled. It was so nice to get all of this out of the house!
Library books are ready to go back! Part of my cleaning spurt was actually inspired because I had gotten an e-mail saying I had a book over due. It was called "Spirit of the Northwoods" and I thought it was a kid's book. We totally went through the kid's rooms and pretty much everywhere else upstairs but now success! Finally I found it in my office, on my desk. Turns out it was a quilt book! Some stuff to return to a friend as well as some thank-you gifts and card.
Well I can't say these were causing to much clutter but we did have fun getting them ready to send out. I also enjoy thinking about how happy others might be to get a letter. This week we also had fun getting some presents ready and delivered. It is so much fun to share with others! The kids really enjoy it too.

Is your house ready for summer? What have you been up to lately?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Almost time to Garden!


The time is coming soon when we will be able to get out and work in the garden! I am getting pretty excited. I love being out and the fresh air, having some exercise by doing something useful and dreaming of all the fresh produce we will get to eat!
Meanwhile we have been getting stuff ready......
Early on this month a passionate gardening friend sweetly gave me a bunch of little tomato, pepper, herb, lettuce, cabbage and flower plants. The kids and I also started a bunch of seeds of our own. We have them be the southern window in my office and they have been growing very well!


It is a jungle in there now! Starting your own plants from seeds is pretty frugal. I use recycled containers to start them in (my most often used container is cutting the bottom off of milk jugs) and then you just have to get dirt and seeds, neither one has to be very expensive if you watch for sales.


The other thing I have been doing to get ready for gardening is working to improve our garden soil. This is just our 3rd year of having a garden at this house and the previous owners didn't have a garden so we started from scratch. In fact I think some time ago it was a dumping area because when Ken tills each spring I have to follow behind picking up all sorts of trash that the tiller digs up. We also have very sandy soil so it needs amending for that as well.
Lately I have been getting goat manure from my parents farm to put on the garden. I don't have a truck to haul it with so I take 3 5 gallon buckets and get that much at a time. It isn't a lot but I figure even a little helps and over time it will be a lot. Composting is also part of our lifestyle and we are able to get quite a lot of beautiful nutrient rich dirt each year from that.

How is your garden going? (Probably many of you can work outside in it already!) What are your favorite Thrifty and green gardening tips?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fun for my little ones

We recently checked out "Moose, Cookies and More the treasury" by Laura Numeroff out from the Library and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it. It has the well known "If you give a mouse a cookie" and "If you give a Pig a Pancake" and two others. It also has recipes, songs and a CD that has the stories and songs on it. It was so cute and all the kids but especially my younger two, had a great time listening to it. That works for me!

Actually we like story CD's over all. We have some that their grandparents made for them (with Bible stories and original stories on them), we have some classics, some simple ones and some that teach through music and stories about some great composers. My kids love standing around the CD player or sitting quietly in the living room just listening. Simple fun for my children Works for Me!

For more Works for me Wednesday posts visit We Are THAT Family.

I would love to hear what CDs your children enjoy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Raglan sleeve nightgowns from t-shirts



One of my very quick projects last week was turning this:


into this:
(The wings were not part of the night gown, they were a separate gift from Auntie Keren.)
T-shirt material makes a very comfortable pajama material and I love long sleeved nightgowns. This was a very quick and simple project that I made without a pattern, I just looked at a similar nightgown that Megan already had and I guessed with the dolls nightgown (and it ended up a little wide).
I was looking to see if I could find a tutorial online to direct you to if any of you wanted to make something like this. I wasn't to successful but possibly these instructions will help. If there is any interest I could try to post a tutorial sometime.
To more t-shirts used up from my stash of old t-shirts! Yea!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Excited about traveling!

Ken and I are excitedly planning a trip to Washington DC as well as a day and night in Philadelphia and a drive to see the coast (in New Jersey) and over the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays. We have never been that way before and needless to say we are very excited.

We really love history and politics so these places are right up our alley! I have found a few spots that I have found very helpful in planning our trip they are:

Do you have any suggestions of things that we shouldn't miss seeing while we are there? I would love to hear your input!

Over at Life As MOM....

Jessica at Life as MOM is having a series of posts on Green living this week and I got to be one of the Guest writers. Feel free to check out my post on "Do-it-yourself-recycling". She has a lot of neat topics lined up for this week, all with the goal of encouraging us to better take care of what God has given us. I think you will enjoy them.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Speaks-to-me-Sunday

I enjoyed reading the Beatitudes this past week.
Matthew 5:3-12
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle,
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you,
and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.
Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great,
for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
I have read these many times (and memorized them before) but when I was reading I started to wonder do I really understand what it means to be "poor in spirit"? Surely it doesn't mean to feel mopey and blue... I decided I had better delve a little deeper. I appreciated what Clarke's commentary on the book of Mathew had in it: "One who is deeply sensible of his spiritual poverty and wretchedness." That really made me do some thinking. I need to completely aware that without Christ my life is wretched and totally spiritually poor. We are all like that on our own, no matter who we are! It doesn't matter that I was raised in a Christian home and have hardly missed a church service, and tried to live right. That is good but it doesn't change the fact that I by myself am full of spiritual poverty and wretchedness. We all need Jesus and without him we are worthless.
The next section says "Blessed are those that mourn". I think this could be taken fairly straight forward but I do think Clarke brings out an interesting thought that it could be speaking of those that mourn with a Godly sorrow. A sorrow relating to our being poor in spirit. When we mourn over our spiritual poverty and cry to God, He will comfort and help us to make a change.
The word Blessed can also be said as "happy". I know I like to be happy and I am thank-ful that God has given us these loving instructions on how to live a happy, blessed life. It is my goal to be poor in spirit, mourn over my sins, be gentle, eagerly desire to live righteously, be merciful, have a pure heart and be a peacemaker. I can't say that I am eager to be persecuted but if I am I certainly want it to be because I am living righteously and if that will make me grow and refine me to be more like Jesus then I want that too.
God does bless in so very many ways, I am glad that I can live for Him!



To me God's blessings include all the simple little beautiful things that we can see everywhere.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

A decluttering marathon!

This coming week it is my goal to really go through my house and sweep out all the clutter! We have been so busy the last couple of weeks it seems that my house has become a bit taken over! I am feeling in the Spring cleaning mood I guess. I am ready for a fresh start!

My goal is to only have things "that I know to be useful or believe to be beautiful" in my house. (Or what other household members feel that way about.) I am hoping to get rid of at least something each day. I do not like dumping things in the trash but there may be a little of that. Mostly I am hoping to share what we have with others. We have been abundantly blessed and I hope we can also be a blessing.

I am hoping to use the box method and go through each room. I am also hoping to take pictures and report at the end of the week. I would love to hear your favorite tips for not having (or getting rid of) clutter!

If you too need to do a little declutter these places might give you the inspiration and help you were looking for:

I am excited about this! Join me if you like and please leave any tips you might have!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

My Meggie's birthday!


Present time (the girls were still enjoying their colonial hats)

Yesterday was Megan's 3rd Birthday. We stayed home and had a pretty relaxing day. One of our friends whom Megan is especially fond of came over for the afternoon and evening and my parents and brother and sister and another friend also came for supper.
We always start our birthdays with family presents. Ken and I didn't do to much for Megan's birthday this year (she didn't need anything really so I made nightgowns for her and her doll and gave her a book and some sidewalk chalk and that was it) the kids however have really started enjoying making and giving gifts. Aaron isn't in to making them so much but he loves going through all his things and figuring out things that the recipient might like and wrapping them up. He ended up giving Megan about 5 presents.
Mara worked hard to embroider this turtle neck shirt for Megan. She has really been enjoying doing embroidery lately. She also made her a cute bead necklace with a little angel on it that Megan really likes.
Jonathan bought Megan a stamp (we found it on clearance for 75 cents.) and then he made a little notebook, found a brand new pink pencil he had as well as some pink erasers and then included some stickers. He also gave her a necklace that he had made.
Almost nothing was spent on presents at our house but Megan certainly didn't care and she really enjoyed what she did receive. It is so fun to have simple and happy birthdays!
Auntie Keren made Megan a pair of wings. Megan really liked them and thought she was a butterfly. She wanted to fly and Grandpa was obliging in making her fly. She had a lot of fun.
For her cake I had bought little peeps to go on top for a surprise. The kids were pretty pleased with that! I had never bought them before and so they were a big deal for the kids. We found out Ken had never had them either but he chose a piece without any, he didn't think he needed any now either.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A TEA party!

Wednesday one of our fun activities was participating in ones of the thousands of tea partys across our country. We had a great turnout for our town (nicely over 300) and it was pretty exciting for all of us!


People stood along several blocks holding signs and flags for over and hour. (A bunch of people came over 1/2 hour early!)
The kids and I dressed in colonial costumes as we were doing all this in the spirit of the Boston Tea Party. There were others that had on special hats and outfits too. It was fun and we got a lot of comments from people on our outfits.


Megan and I
Aaron, Jonathan and Mara
Ken was the main organizer for the event. He went to a lot of work but really enjoyed it and was excited about it. We had a trailer for the stage right in front of Paul and Babe.
For the Rally part of the program we had 3 speakers: Kath Molitor, Mark Skogerboe and Ken. (I have short video clips of Mark and Ken, but I apologize because they are not very good quality!)The all did a good job and got people pretty excited about standing up for our constitution, saying "NO" to our country going down the path of socialism, telling our leaders that they must not pass bills without really going over them and making sure they agree with the constitution and also challenging us to really pray and fast for our country! Besides the three speeches we also had a scroll with a "Declaration of Grievances" on it that Ken read out loud and then afterwards everybody could sign it. (David Meyers and I held it up for him.)


It was pretty fun to see a lot of people that I knew there who are not normally very involved in politics. (Among whom was my parents and Luke and Keren.) I think a lot of people are getting excited about the fact that we can actually do something to change the way our country is heading. We not only CAN do something but we MUST do something if we want our country to be the great country that it has been in the past.

This is our Declaration of Grievances (Here is where Ken got the idea for this, he just changed a few things so it worked for our time and place. )showing some of the signatures. (I wasn't able to get a picture of the full length.) I got the fun job of writing the whole thing out by hand in a calligraphy style (not true calligraphy, I am not that good!). It ended up taking me about 5 hours to do it and my hand was rather tired afterwards!! :-)


video video

Sorry I haven't been posting much, between this, doing maple syrup and Megan's 3rd Birthday life has been more than a little hectic!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Project Time Tuesday

This weeks project was very simple but I think simple small things are important too. Each little thing that makes something better, life more beautiful is important.

A hand-me-down dress that Megan had received was quite cute and she was eager to wear it but the flowers on the waist band were looking a little tired and old.

I replaced them with new ribbon roses (which I had on hand thanks to the gift from a friend!) and she was very pleased.
Quick, easy and satisfactory! :-)

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