Tuesday, January 19, 2021

A Circus Busy Book

I was sorting through old pictures today and came across this busy book that I made in 2018. I never shared it on here and so I thought it would be fun to do that today. I think busy books can be a lot of fun to make as well as for kids to enjoy using. They are a great quiet toy for during church, on a car ride or in a waiting room. Here is a post about another book that I made for Aaron years ago. In that post I give instructions on how to make it as well. If you would rather make a circus one however you can get inspiration from this post and follow the "how to" on that post.

  Ephraim is one of my nephews and this book was made for hi.

This page has a felt house which is like a pocket. You can put the doll (made from wire, yarn and felt) into the house.
This page allows them to button and unbutton the balloons and match the colors.

I like the circus tent. :-)
Finger puppet animals are inside.
On the opposite page is things for them to perform on.
This girl can go forward and backwards across the tightrope thanks to her bead feet on the yarn tightrope.
An abacus lion cage.
A page with velcro and fun shapes.
A car full of clown finger puppets.
They each have a special pocket that they can go in.

This was a really fun project. I ended up using a lot of these ideas and making another circus busy book for Netta and Theo too. Maybe later I will find those pictures to share.

  Have you ever made a busy book?

 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Ice Skating and the Benefits of Going Outside

This year has been a beautiful one for ice skating around here. Both the Lakes and the River froze over and had lovely ice before we really got snow. I had other things scheduled the day that some of my family went skating on the lake but they said it was just gorgeous - you could see down a long ways through the ice. I do know that looked very pretty when I dropped Aaron off. 

 Though I haven't gone on the lake I did have fun going a couple of times on the river so far and I hope to go often this winter.

Aaron, Megan and I went skating one night with lanterns and flashlights. It was fun.
 Though I have long loved spending time outside (I love camping, gardening, biking, walking, skating, canoeing, etc.) it is easy to get busy and not get out very much. That can happen especially easily in the Winter when it is cold out there too!

  When COVID 19 regulations hit we were required to be outside if we wanted to see others outside our family so the social butterfly in me made that a priority. I have enjoyed many a walk with friends when normally we probably would have sat inside. We had church services outside and more. I really enjoyed all that time outside and I have learned to dress better for the weather so that I didn't get too cold. It has been fun.

  Being outside is also very good for our health. So if you are at all concerned about getting sick or just like to live a healthier life - why don't you try to spend more time outside.

  Here are some ways that being outside can help you....

-More oxygen and cleaner lungs. Outside air almost always has higher levels of oxygen which will help clean out our lungs. With our world being concerned about a sickness that attacks the lungs - I recommend spending time outside to counteract that.

-Higher Brain Function. All that oxygen that we get outside is super helpful for our brain! Breathing in the fresh air helps your brain to work so much better.

-More Vitamin D. We get Vitamin D from sun exposure which happens outside. This helps with brain function and helps us to have a much stronger immune system.

-Lower Blood Pressure and Heart rate. Every cell in your body needs oxygen to function. More oxygen being available helps your heart to relax which then lowers your blood pressure.

-Reduces Stress. It has been found that spending time in nature reduces stress. Taking a walk outside helps the brain produce endorphins which are neurotransmitters responsible for regulating mood. 

-It is good for your digestive system. When you have a better flow of oxygen in your body it helps you to digest food more effectively. This will especially be nice if you are trying to lost weight.

-It strengthens your immune system. When we increase the amount of oxygen it helps our white blood cells to function properly so they can kill bacteria and germs.

-It helps you heal faster. When cells get more oxygen they can work better which causes you to heal faster.

Here are some ways that I have been spending more time outside...

  • Going on walks pretty much every day and sometime more with friends and family. It is a lovely way to visit and improve your health at the same time.
  • Embrace jobs like shoveling, gardening, getting in wood, etc. that prompt you to spend time outside.
  • Sometimes (especially if it isn't super cold) we will take a book or Ken even takes computer work outside.
  • I try to do some of my exercises at least 3 times a week outside.
  • Biking - even in the snow.
  • Ice skating.
Do you get outside much? What do you like to do out there?

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Enjoying the Simple Things...

   Winter is such a lovely time to slow down a little bit and to really just enjoy being home. It can be easy to get caught up in the bustle of preparing for Christmas but I hope you are able to truly enjoy each moment and each person that you are spending time with. Here are some of the simple things that I am enjoying....

  • Fires in our fireplace.
  • Stocking that we made last year with real rabbit fur and our names done in cross-stitch. 
  • The glow of Christmas lights.
  • Card-making.
  • Watching Megan paint and crochet.
  • Ice Skating on the river.
  • Writing letters and thinking fondly of those that I am writing to.
  • A simple supper with Ken while the kids were at youth group. Enjoying some fancy cheese and crackers that I was given for my birthday (a great gift by the way - fun and different and consumable!).
  • Candles - I love my homemade beeswax candles and other non-scented ones. I need to remember to light them more often.
  • Walks in the starlight.



  • Drinking tea with family and friends.
  • The reading of books that make me think and grow.
  • Prayer - by myself and with others. It gives me such strength and peace.
  • The making of music. I love to sit down and play the piano or pull out my violin. I love to sing with Megan while we work. I enjoy hearing Aaron play his guitar and sing and I welcome any other music that comes up in our home as well.
  • Fresh bread.
  • Phones calls from friends.
What simple things are you enjoying right now? 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Family Cooking Competition

   Mid November my sister Anna and her family came up North from the cities to visit with all the family up here. We had a wonderful time with them here and on Saturday evening we planned a cooking contest.

   There were 14 contestants divided into 5 teams. Each team had to cook enough food for 6 people (to feed the 30 that we would have for supper that night (all the family members in town at the time). We could use flour (white or wholewheat), sugar, honey, oil (olive, peanut and coconut), salt, pepper and all my herbs, spices and flavorings as desired but we each could only use $10 to buy the rest of the ingredients from the store. We were also allowed to buy eggs from my mom for 10 cents each and a chunk of cabbage for 50 cents. We went to the parking lot where people could shop at Dollar Tree and/or Marketplace (a local grocery store).  We have some food allergies in our group so no one was allowed to use Dairy, Corn, Peas, Tree Nuts or Shellfish. Many of the men that were not participating were working on wood so that meant that we had babies and toddlers to help us out for some of our shopping and cooking. :-) We picked Megan up from work at 4 pm and then it was time to begin. Supper had to be ready and nicely presented by 6:30 pm. As the contest began we drew for which cooking station we would get.
The team that I was on also had my nephew Gregory and Aaron. My nephew Theo (3 years old) was also on our team and helped primarily with the shopping. Gregory was in charge of the main dish, Aaron was in charge of a beverage and I took on the veggies and dessert though Aaron ended up doing the cake decorating as well. We got the center island station which included the oven, an electric skillet and a knock-off instapot. 


The next team I will introduce was my sister Anna (and sweet babe), Thomas and Mara. The station that they got was this side counter as well as a little counter on the left side of the stove. They got to use the left half of the stove-top, a small crock-pot and perhaps a waffle iron (which they didn't use).


The other half of the stovetop was used by Molly, Keren and Beatrice. They also got a waffle iron/griddle and the grill. They also had baby Lilly as an extra help. :-)

The 4th station was in my office where Martha, Megan and Heidi were at work. They had an electric skillet, a waffle iron and a griddle (they didn't use the griddle and actually gave it to the next team as that team was missing an item that they were supposed to have - it was forgotten). I believe that Netta (age 3) joined them for shopping.


The fifth station was in my laundry room where I had set up a table and they had the top of the washer and dryer to work on as well and a utility sink to use. I thought it was a kind of neat station but I guess it was a little lonely and the dryer wasn't super level for having a pan full of hot oil. They had an electric frying pan, a roaster pan and a griddle to use. This was our only team of two consisting of MollyBea and Margaret. Buirlen (3) and Beaulah (1) tried to help at times with this team.
 Many that had not worked on the cooking got signed up for judging. We were judged on:
  • Being ready on time
  • Staying within budget (everybody did though we did allow one team to have a small egg for 7 cents instead of the 10 that had been planned. They had cut it very close.)
  • Presentation- how it looked.
  • Cleanliness of area (we had to clean and wash up dishes as we went along.
  • Fullness of the menu
  • Kid Friendliness
  • Healthfulness
  • Taste
Here is Gregory finishing up a creamy sausage pasta dish. It was yummy!


The schedule wasn't too rushed. There was time for a little fun chit chat at times. All the teams were allowed to use the microwave if desired. They just had to limit their time to 5 minutes and then go to the back of the line if there was one.

Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures at the time everybody had things set out prettily for presentation but here they are a little later...
This was our team's meal: Creamy Sausage Pasta (make with oat milk because of the need to be dairy free), Roasted Veggies, Raspberry, Lemon Slushy and Lemon Rasberry Layer Cake.

MollyBea and Margaret made Pot Stickers (with sauce), Chinese Fried Noodles and Crepes with Strawberry Sauce.
Anna, Mara and Thomas made Chicken and Pepper Fajitas with fresh tortillas (at least I think that is what they were) with fresh Pico Di Gallo and Sopapillas with honey sauce.
Keren, Molly and Beatrice made Chicken Curry, Chapatis and Raspberry Crepes.
Martha, Heidi and Megan made Egg Rolls and Waffle Brownies.

All of the food was quite delicious, everybody kept a pretty clean area, got done on time and stayed within budget. The meal was quite a success. We also made oodles of dirty dishes! We did work on them as we went and when Mom arrived she was fulltime dishwasher for a while and then after the meal she did many more dishes. 
The judges took a while to consider and come to a conclusion. But finally they were ready to announce. We were standing ready to hear the results.
The panel of judges and the videographer making announcements.

They declared our team the winner. I think it was largely because we had a drink too (which none of the rest did) which put us over the top. The Mexican food came in second and then I don't remember after that. Win or lose it was a fun evening and we ended up having a delicious supper!

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Giving Thanks - Even When it is Hard

A Group of Swans that Ken and I enjoyed watching a couple weeks ago.

   I had wanted to write a post on Thank-fulness last week since we were celebrating Thanksgiving. I didn't get it done then but I decided I should write it now anyway. Thankfulness is not something that we just do at Thanksgiving - it is an important thing for a Christian to do every day. 

  I know this has been a hard year for many people and our family is among those that are having challenging times. COVID has affected pretty much everybody whether it be through simply dealing with the regulations, actually dealing with sickness, dealing with depression that seems to be a by-product of the regulations for many people, dealing with job loss from the shutdown or whatever it may be. Then on top of the COVID stuff we often face many other challenges in life. Sometimes all those things begin to weigh a little heavily on you and it doesn't feel so easy to notice all the things you have to be thankful for.

 GIVE THANKS ANYWAY!

Thankfulness changes our outlook on life and when we are in the middle of hard times a lot of time our outlook could use a little changing. And very honestly - God simply deserves our thanks. Even during hard times there are so many, many things He gives us, does for us and we know that He has even better things prepared for us if we love and serve Him. 

 Here are some verses that really encourage me to be thankful....

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 
It is easy for us to get anxious about things but instead of doing that if we can just spend time in prayer that is full of Thanksgiving - God is going to fill us with peace. Who wouldn't rather be full of peace instead of being anxious?

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name." 1 Peter 4:12-16
I think rejoicing is often filled with thanksgiving. At least it should be. :-)

"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15
Peace is what we need in the midst of hard times!

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
This verse nearly always causes me to think of the story the Corrie TenBoom tells in the book "The Hiding Place" when she and her sister Betsie were in a German prison camp during WW2. Their situation was horrible but Betsie took this verse completely to heart and thanked God amidst other things for the crowding and the fleas. That seemed a bit much to Corrie but she went along with it at Betsie's persuasion. After a time it became obvious that God had a reason for placing them there. The guards stayed away because of the fleas and it gave them much more opportunity to share Jesus with others (the many that were crowded around them).

 God can work all things out for our good. We need to trust Him and give thanks! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Bible Games Review

We have recently had the pleasure of reviewing some games sent to us from 
Bible Games Central. I had told you about this website in a post in April and about all the fun game ideas they have available for free. They still do have all that and I totally encourage you visiting it to see how you can make learning about the Bible more fun with your kids or students. But now they also have some games that you can buy and use. So we were given the opportunity to test 3 of them out. 

We were sent Bible Bingo, Bible Memory Game and Parable Parade
My niece and nephew that were both just 3 (though Netta had a birthday yesterday so she was nearly 4) were up to visit so I decided to get their help in reviewing the games. The games are designed for ages 6 and up (on all 3 games that I got) and I think that would work best but the game of Bingo was fun for all of us- even those younger. My niece Heidi played with us too.

 It helps acquaint the players with the names of the books of the Bible and from what section (Law, History, Poetry, Letters from Paul, etc) they are from. There are pictures to go along with each book and that is a good memory tool too. The book of John has a world with hearts around it, Psalms has a harp and so forth. 

You can have up to 24 players for this game so it would work great for even a large class at church. I am looking forward to using it there as something that is easy to have ready for class, fun for the kids and helps with some learning as well.

Margaret, Netta, Heidi and I (Theo was there some but it was really above his game playing level) also played Parable Parade. I really thought this one was quite fun. It is fairly simple but yet has different elements to it that make it interesting. The goal is to collect sets of parables. There are four pictures from each parable that "tell" the story. There is also a card that actually has a summary of each parable (there are 12 in the game) on one side and the explanation of the parable on the back. This is a really fun way to play a game and learn about parables at the same time.


Watch out when playing - there is a "Whoopsie" card that you may draw which will cause you to lose some cards and end your turn. It reminds me slightly of playing "Sorry" because of that.

The Bible Memory Game was tested out by Megan, Ephraim and Mathias today. This deck of cards includes 2 cards for each book of the Bible. You can play one huge memory game (that I think would take quite some time) or you can pull out sections to work with. Or you can be creative like Megan and Ephraim and basically play "Go Fish" with Books of the Bible Cards while your 2 year old brother/cousin plays with more of the cards. The pictures are fun and colorful and again you get acquainted with the names of the books of the Bible and are reminded of a story that is in them when looking at the pictures.
I am excited to have all of these as tools to use while teaching Bible classes at church or playing with kids in my home. If you are looking for a meaningful gift for some children in your life or like me you teach classes at church and enjoy having something fun and easy to do with the kids I would recommend checking these games out. You can find them at Bible Games Central.

Bible Games Central also has some free game ideas specifically for Christmas: Christmas Trivia and more Christmas Games. So if you are looking for something fun to do with your family over the Holidays be sure to check them out.

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