Mini Pizzas

In February, my MOPs group got the kids together to exchange valentines and make pizza. The ladies that arranged everything used mini biscuits for the dough (already in perfect portions or each child.) I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a while, but everything lined up to do it tonight. I already had most of the ingredients. I picked up the biscuits at the store-on sale 10 for $10…Score!

This recipe is EASY…great for little hands! My kids, especially the girls, love to help cook! Just grab pizza sauce, shredded cheese, and any toppings you want. Spread out the mini biscuits on a greased baking sheet and top to your liking. Use the baking instructions on the biscuit packaging. Ours was 400 degrees for 8 minutes.

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Mini pizzas were a hit!

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Roly Poly Magic

Roly Poly’s are magic. They have always fascinated my children. This post from July 2010 was fun to look back on when my kids were 4,3, and 1:

While it was still cool earlier this month, we found the best place around our house to hunt for roly polys. The kids had a great time catching them and making an “aquarium” (as Ellie called it) to watch them. (By the way, roly polys are pretty quick, so we had to stay on your toes to catch one.) Yet another great way to have an inexpensive summer activity!



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Okay, I think this is the teacher in me, but for any of you who are interested, here are some really cool facts about roly polys:

ROLY POLYs-
*live under rocks and logs and roll into a ball when disturbed.
*go by many names including roly-poly bugs, pillbugs, woodlice, tiggy-hogs, parson-pigs and by their scientific name, Armadillidium vulgare.
*are important for their part in decomposition, but they are not bugs. They are crustaceans. They are in the isopod family (same pod or foot) and have seven pairs of legs that are all similar in size and shape.
*have simple eyes, three body parts, uropods, and a pair of prominent antennae, gills and lung like adaptations.
*need moisture to survive but cannot live submerged in water.

(Read more: Roly-Poly Bug Facts)

And here is proof just today, Sweet Tart at 3, that the magic lives on:

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Dot to Dot

One of my new favorite stores is the Dollar Tree. I am usually not a fan of cheap stuff. Typically the phrase, “you get what you pay for” is true. However, what if you want I give your kids an experience but can’t afford the best version of whatever it is ($6 vs. $15) you need? Would you rather have the cheaper version or nothing at all? The Dollar Tree has proved to be good for craft items, positive reinforcement, etc. I was excited to be able to get these markers for several fun activities I’m finding on Pinterest. {keyword search: dot marker activities, bingo markers, dot markers, etc.}. Lots and lots of dots…and potential.

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Impress Them on Your Children

Parenting is a process- a marathon, not a sprint. Those who are closest to me know this is true, for they have seen me and my children in our natural habitat. They know the true story, the story behind the scenes that I don’t let people see on Facebook. (I should really do an “outtake” post.)

Because our family has chosen to use God’s Word as our baseline, Aron and I prioritize integrating it into our daily lives, teaching our children the promises we can believe in and the rewards that come through our faith-filled obedience. (It’s not easy to obey some of the things God asks of us.)

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 gives us a picture of how parents can plant the seeds of God’s Word into their children on a daily basis:

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”

This may look differently in each family, but I decided to share some of the resources that we use:

Adventure BibleNOTHING can replace putting a Bible into a child’s hands and letting them hold it, open it, flip through, and read it’s content.  We bought our two older children the Adventure Bible for Early Readers as an Easter present a couple of years ago.  We’ve been very pleased with it.  Sweet Tart loves holding and flipping through the tiny New Testament she was presented as a baby when she was dedicated.

Right now, we are doing a devotional with the kids right before they go to bed.  We use Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids.  {We ask our older two to look up the verses that are used in the writings.  For now, Sweet Tart holds her little New Testament and flips through the pages.}  I love these “letters” from Jesus packed with scripture and really relevant messages for children (well, anyone really).  I appreciate how they have enough content to make an impact, but short enough to keep their attention.

Devotionals

We have also loved the Jesus Storybook Bible.  I love how every single story points back to God’s Rescue Plan: sending Jesus to Earth to live, die, and rise again so that we can have a relationship with Him.

Devotional Covers

I truly believe that children will want to dig in their Bibles and value God’s Word if they are taught how to use it, its content, and its purpose.  I think a great place to start is teaching kids the books of the Bible so that when they open it, they know how to navigate it.  Something I’ve loved is a song used by the Awana program.  Our family doesn’t participate in Awanas, but I was searching through iTunes for a good song, and this was the least “hokey” version I could find. We’ve loved it.  It’s called “The Perfect Book.”  {A great way to help visual learners connect is to use a homemade poster listing the books of the Bible while they sing the song.}

Perfect Book Song

One of the best resources I’ve come upon EVER is the “Buck Denver asks…What’s in the Bible?” DVD series.  I cannot say enough about this series.  It’s a full on education about God’s Word. Please go to this link and watch the “Race to the Finish” video that gives a good idea of the content and value of this series.  Aron and I have been amazed at what we’ve learned along side of our children even though both of us grew up in great churches.  We love watching these together. I love knowing that, when I stick these DVD’s in to keep the kids busy while I finish something, that my kids are absorbing wholesome and useful info AND are entertained.  Please check it out…Sunday School Lady with her flannel graph is my absolute FAV!

What's In The Bible Series

Cover Volume 1

Volume 1 Back

{Jelly Telly, the company that produces What’s in the Bible, is a great resource to get to know the awesome characters and view some clips before you invest in the DVD’s.}

There are other things that can be done to teach God’s Word throughout the day that are FREE.  God’s Word is applicable in any situation, in any question that comes up, in any area of discipline or everyday living.  That’s where my daily discipline of devotions and knowing God’s Word myself comes into play.  Here’s where the rubber meets the road:  Do I really know God’s promises?  Can I weave God’s Word into any given conversation? Do I really know the “what” to my kids’ “whys?”

Thank God for His grace and patience with me and thank God it’s a marathon, not a sprint!

Adjustable Waistband Prayer

Yesterday, I was scrounging around the mall department stores, rushed and frustrated-not a good combo. I was a mom on a mission to find a pair of boys grey slacks for my slender son. The other two sizes I’d found for him were still too wide. I needed the right size pant with an adjustable waistband, and apparently those are few and far between in the color I needed. I only had an hour window before I had to pick up my Sweet Tart at preschool and I really wanted to avoid taking her to the mall at ALL costs. I was not finding what I needed and it felt like no one was working in the children’s departments in ANY of the five stores. The tension was mounting. I had thirty minutes. I decided to chance it and go to another store. I went back to their kids section and I was looking and looking and didn’t see what I needed. I was silently screaming, “Kohls, don’t you know that this wedding is in three days and I literally have no time after 12:45 to shop sans Sweet Tart?!?!”

I suddenly stopped moving right there in the middle of the boys clothing and said (out loud), “JESUS, I need you to help me find my son a pair of grey pants!” I’m not really sure how loud I was, but I do know that I turned around and saw them…grey boys slacks in the size I needed WITH an adjustable waistband. (I swear I heard angels singing be hallelujah chorus.) I paid for the pants, jetted out of there, and picked up my preschooler ON TIME.

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As I was driving to the preschool I had to seriously thank Jesus for caring for me so much. He tells me that he wants to provide ALL of my needs, even as something as seemingly insignificant as a pair of pants with an adjustable waistband.

It’s a promise:

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” (Matthew 6:2, 28-30 NLT)

I don’t see Jesus as a genie in a bottle, but I do believe what He says in his word. He tells me to ask for wisdom about anything with the faith that he will provide an answer:

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:5,6 NLT)

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Thank you, Jesus, for helping find gray boys slacks with an adjustable waistband!

ABC Activty Sheets

When my two older children were little, I was very proactive in making sure that they had educational activities at their fingertips.  A few weeks ago, I was thinking about my youngest, Sweet Tart.  If I’m honest, I’m not sure that I’ve made the same effort with her.  I think I expect her to pick up concepts and skills by osmosis as she plays with her siblings.  (I forget to treat her as a three year old even though she sometimes acts older.) So, instead of beating myself up-so easy to do as a mom-I got on Pinterest for a few ideas.  I stumbled upon these FREE printable magnetic pom pom sheets from {Fab ‘n Free}.

I already had several of the “ingredients” from the road trip we took a couple of weekends ago, so I went to town.

free printables, super glue, Dollar Tree cookie sheet, magnet tape pom poms, sheet protectors, 1" binder

free printables, super glue, Dollar Tree cookie sheet, magnet tape pom poms, sheet protectors, 1″ binder

The most time consuming part of this project was cutting the magnet tape and gluing it to the pom poms.

Pom Pom magnets

I absolutely love these sheets.  They’re adorable and colorful and the kids watched me printing them out like it was a Disney movie.  They cheered for each new design.

ABC printables

The kids loved the finished product and I am so happy to have something awesome to do with my Sweet Tart.  So blessed to be at home with her and get her preparred for school.  {I am, after all, her first and best teacher.}

Finished product

{Storage:  Once all the printables were in sheet protectors, I decided to store them in a thin 1″ binder.  I’m putting the pom pom magnets in a pencil pouch in the notebook. Easy Peasy.}

This is also a great gift idea.  My twin niece and nephew are turning 4 this week and I’m sending this off to them as well.  I actually got the printables done at FedEx Kinkos as a time-saver.

911 Words

In the last 6 months, I’ve had to place a 911 call. Our water heater caught fire and I was home with our three kids. Thankfully it was only 6pm and two of the three kids were actually standing by the door…WITH SHOES ON. I got everyone outside and made the most nerve racking call of my life.

“911. What’s your emergency?”

When I told the operator the what and the where, there were four ladder trucks, two policeman, and one ambulance in front of our condo in under three minutes. The fire was out in under 10 minutes. {Unbelievably, the main cause of damage was smoke, and, in the end, most of our things were salvageable. The cleanup/remodeling process was amazing. I encourage everyone to get/check on your homeowners insurance.} All of the firemen, paramedics, police officers, not to mention our neighbors, were all incredible-I could type on and on and on. My main point is that I called, they answered, and they answered in amazing fashion.

The next call I made that night was to my parents. I told my dad what happened and, with zero hesitation, he told us to pack up a few things and come home. My mom helped me do about 4 loads of laundry that night, including the kids’ backpacks, to get that nasty smokey smell out of everything. They let me sit in their laundry room and sob while they read our kids a bedtime story. When all was said and done, with the crazy insurance process, Mom and Dad allowed us, ALL 5 of us and our dog, to live in their home for four weeks. It was over Thanksgiving and Christmas. They allowed the kids to help decorate their tree and Mom gave each of them their own ornament to look at.

Aron called on his family as well, and they hosted us over the Holidays for about 11 days. My siblings brought us food, kept us company, let us vent. My MOPs group, folks from our home church, and our parents’ friends brought us meals. In a way, all of these dear ones answered a 911 call and blessed us SO much. We were more than protected, clothed, and fed.

All of this makes me think of anther 911 call I can place.

One time, I asked one of my very best friends what she does when she’s afraid. She told me that as a child, her father taught her to read aloud Psalm 91, starting at verse 1…911.

Psalm 91:1-16 NIV

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord , “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord , “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.””

(Emphasis mine)

I take great comfort in knowing/reading these powerful promises. For me, some are easy and some are hard to grasp, but the hardest part is the faith to believe that God will do what He says he will do. But faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17) especially if it’s my own voice reading to myself. This sounded crazy to me at first, but it’s proved easier to have faith when I read the scripture out loud on a regular basis. It’s difficult to hand my insecurities over to someone I can’t see, but when I have, God has ALWAYS been faithful.

It’s amazing how well cared-for we were in our time of trial by our family, friends, and even people that we’d never met before. But, even better, God says in His word that He cares for me more than any of these. I love how The Message says it:

Matthew 7:7-11 MSG

“”Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?”

All Better

All clean and moved back in…new floors, paint, and ceilings.

I can call 911 anytime, no matter the WHAT or WHEN.

Faith is the deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.

– Oswald Chambers

Handwritten Hotel Scavenger Hunt

On Saturday of our recent trip, I had a long afternoon ahead of me.  I knew I wanted to do a picture scavenger hunt, but didn’t make it up ahead of time.  I literally googled “hotel scavenger hunt for kids” and got several good ideas.  {Here’s one blog entry I found from Moms & Munchkins.}

I wrote them down…

and off we went.

To prove we found the things on the list, we took pictures.

We got all but 1 item, a diamond.

{The hotel staff was awesome!  They let us “behind the curtain” to get the pictures of the water fountain and the fire extinguisher. The kids had a great time and finished in about 30 minutes. }

The Governor

Ready, Set, Go!

We have a business convention this weekend. Typically, the kids get a weekend with their grandparents while we go. This time, they are coming on the nine hour drive to Louisville, Kentucky with us. Road Trip!

About four days ago, I woke up and realized that all of us would be in the minivan for that long, all at the same time. I needed to get on the ball. I went directly to Pinterest, created a “Road Trip” board, and found a few really great blogs/websites with ideas that were right on the money.
{Random Thoughts of a Supermom}
{Kid World Citizen}
{Mom’s Minivan}
I took ideas from here and there, directly copying and improvising.

I made each of the kids a basket with a name badge on the front:

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I chose a basic font and printed their names onto fun scrapbooking paper, trimmed it up, and slid it into the badge holder. Easy Peasy!

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The baskets were from the Dollar Tree. Love it!
I added items that we already owned like coloring books, markers, and sunglasses. I bought a Mad Libs pad and the National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas.

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I also liked the idea of magnets on pizza pans. I found a the pans and a few little magnet sets at the Dollar Tree, but sets at other stores were too expensive, so I decided to make my own using felt and foamy items from Michael’s and magnet tape strips.

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Other things I packed that didn’t cost a dime:
Library books/books on CD
Games (Spot It is SO fun!)
DVD’s

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The last thing I put together was a Road Trip fun book, basically a brain jogger when anyone gets a little board.

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(All of these pages are in sheet protectors which can be drawn or written on with dry-erase markers, wiped off, and reused.)

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So, we’re all packed up!

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Ready, set, go!

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(I’ll definitely report back on how everything went. I know many folks are thinking ahead to the summer months and travel. I hope this may help someone in their planning. If anyone would like to share ideas that have worked on their road trips, I’d love to hear from you.)

Don’t…Step Into My Office

I believe in personal growth. I have a daily reading and listening goal. (Read for 15 minutes or a chapter and listen to a podcast and/or continuing education mp3 respectively.) How do I do this? Step into my office. Or not.

I’m not trying to conjure up any unpleasant images but, my tiny master bathroom is my office.

My office

It’s where I read, listen to podcasts/CEU’s, it’s where I pray, it’s where I think. Unfortunately, the door doesn’t quite close and therefore, doesn’t quite lock. Sometimes, I have to hold the door shut with my foot or hand from little people who need Mommy NOW. (It’s like phone time. The exact time I’m in the bathroom is the exact time when they have a question or need me to open a snack bag or cut a random hanging string off a sock.)

Some day…

Dream Office

this WILL be my office/library where I can have LOTS of quiet prayer, study, think-tanking, blogging. Why? Because my children will be older and they may not need my immediate attention. They will be out of the house, but welcome in any time day or night. I’ll be craving for them try to burst in the door for help. (Just another reminder to myself, that even though I have to fight for a few minutes to myself, I still have to fight to enjoy the moments I am living in right now. There will be plenty of alone time in the future.)

I am still going to take my 15 minutes where I can find them. {I love my kids, but minimal personal space is cool too.} So, for now, don’t step into my office.