"Lo, Children Are An Heritage of the LORD: and the Fruit of the Womb is His Reward" - Psalm 127:3

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snowy Night and Yard Art

It's snowing tonight.  Not really that big of a deal around here, but since everyone else in the country is posting snow pictures, I figured I'd join the crowd.  So far we have a good 6 inches.  Shortly after I took this picture, the wind picked up and now I have drifts and bare spots, so who knows how much snow we really have now.  It's supposed to keep snowing tomorrow too. 

It was coming down pretty good for awhile.  I didn't venture too far from home today. The five year old had preschool, but other than that I stayed tucked inside.  I was thinking this evening a burger sounded good, but it only took one look out the window to decide it didn't sound that good.  I made stir fry veggies and chicken instead which was infinitely better for us and better tasting anyway.

 So with nothing very interesting to post about, I thought I would share these pictures.  They were taken at the Denver International Airport when my daughter flew back to college on January 1st.  There was a shop full of these fun little metal creatures.  Unfortunately they were closed (her flight was at 6 am, so we were there at 4:30.)  It's just as well. I saw a tag on one of the little ones that said $80.  Fun though.

 Very creative.  I sometimes wish I had learned to weld.  I think it would come in very handy. My Dad is great at welding.  I should have paid more attention when I was young (to more than just the welding, but lets not go there.)

Hey Dad, if you're looking for a hobby, I sure do think these are cute *WINK*

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Random Day

 Venus, anyone?  I had a lovely view of the moon and Venus when I got up to listen to chapel this morning.  I always watch Ambassador Baptist College's chapel messages via live streaming online. My husband is a graduate and I love the daily encouragement and challenge.  They come on early here - 7 am.  Their chapel is at 9 am eastern time.  That's one of the reasons I'm always up for the sunrise.  Anyway, this morning I had a great view of the moon and Venus.  I tried to get a picture with the sunrise underneath it, but it didn't come out well thanks to the screen on our windows.  Surprisingly, the zoomed in version did and you can hardly tell this was taken through the window screen.

 Those of you who know me well will not be surprised to see that I did pick up a blue and a purple book to make my rainbow complete - ha.  I have to say it was a real challenge to find any purple books.

The only one - literally - that I found was Fly Away by Kristin Hannah.  I probably won't read it.  I read the one that came before this one - Firefly Lane - for one of my four book clubs and was less than impressed.  I was actually pretty irritated by that book, and this is a continuation of the story.  I may read it because I could finish it in a day, but I will be surprised if I do.  For now though, it fulfills the "purple" category - ha.  Yes, I'm a bit obsessive.

 I did some mending yesterday - I had a surprising number of stuffed monkeys to fix.  This one needed his arms re-attached.  I'm guessing you can see why this one's arms get a good workout.

Another one that was shaped like a ball needed his tail reattached, and a little one similar to the big one he's wearing needed a foot sewn back on.  Monkeys have it rough around here.  I also mended a dress for my daughter, a shirt and three sleepers. I still have two coats that need buttons sewn back on, and one that needs a new zipper.  Sounds like a good excuse to get back to sewing again.  I'm also thinking I need to get my hand-sewn hexagon project back out to work on during chapel.  I had planned to start walking on the treadmill during chapel hour, but I often have a child who has joined me overnight and is still sleeping in my room (near the treadmill) so that hasn't worked out so far.  I'm having a hard time fitting treadmill time into my schedule...

I also wanted to mention a video I watched today about autism.  It was very informative.  Our library had it and I learned a lot through watching it ... things I hadn't considered before. I highly recommend it.  It seems to be a very balanced presentation of what autism is and the different views around it.  It gave me a lot to think about.

This Guy's Pretty Amazing

 Our five year old has been making some pretty huge leaps in ability lately.  He put together a 24 piece puzzle today with just a little help - simple statements from me like - "Can you find part of Eeyore?"  "Turn it around."

I took him and his little brother to the library tonight while the nine year old had a 4H meeting.  The meetings are only an hour long and we live out of town a ways, so it didn't make sense to drive home and then back again in such a short time.  (By the way, I would have LOVED to get pictures from 4H tonight. The nine year old did a presentation on wildlife art and illustrated/guided the group to draw an elk.  But he banished me.  He thought he would be too nervous with me watching.)

Back to the point.  Our library is awesome. Along with books and computers, they have a dress-up box, megablocks, oversized plastic tinker toys, puzzles, and an art table.  I was busy reading right next to where they were coloring, and looked up to see how amazingly well he had done his picture.

I seriously did a double-take.

This is the best job he's ever done staying in the lines.  Usually he doesn't even try to stay in the lines.  This is a kid who can only write the first letter of his name, and who wouldn't be able to draw a smiley face if you asked him to.  I couldn't even get him to pick up a pencil until his 4th birthday.  But wow!  And to stick with the project as long as he did... wow.

The other night I was reading to him as I do most nights.  This book is titled Bats At The Library. He's very interesting with his books.  He loves to have me read to him, but usually it's just one book.  Then he'll become fixated on that book either for that night or several days.  He studies the pictures and will tote the book around all evening (or week).  And he can re-tell the story almost perfectly even after only hearing it once.

What surprised me the other night was that he brought me the book, opened to this page, and asked me what made the shadow.  I am so impressed that he noticed it was a shadow and wondered about it enough to ask.  The shadow was made by a projector - an ancient relic these days.  No wonder it didn't make sense to him.

I had to include this picture because it was too cute not to.  You might think he's telling me not to take his picture, but you'd be wrong.  He told me, "Take a picture of my hand."  We had to do the other hand too :)

This is totally unrelated, but I thought it was interesting (ha - maybe that's just me though).  When we went to the library, I took the book I'm currently reading along - The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  (I'm only two chapters into it but it is so well written I know it is going to be great.)  I had one other book I wanted to grab while I was there, and as it always happens, I ended up grabbing five instead.  The interesting thing to me though was that the whole stack of books is white.  Odd.  I don't think that's happened to me before.

So yeah, I'm probably the only one who finds that noteworthy.  I came home and added these 5 library books to my shelf of the 20 (yes, literally 20 - I counted) library books I already have.  Then I obsessively arranged them in rainbow color order. I've seen those beautiful bookselves on pinterest that are arranged like a rainbow. All I can say is that they must be buying the books only for the color they are.

Most of mine are white. The new ones don't fit on the shelf I have set aside for library books because I haven't returned the January reads yet - have to get a picture at the end of the month before I return them.  I have a few reds and a surprising number of yellow/oranges and two that are sort of a mint green, but that's pretty much it.  I'm feeling a great deal of pressure to look for blue and purple books when I go to the library tomorrow :)

It has just occurred to me that my daughter will appreciate these pictures as she is just as obsessed with things like this as I am.  I think I will forever be arranging my library book shelf by color.  I probably won't extend that plan to the rest of the million books we have though. I can see it now, "Honey, do you remember what color that book was?" HA. We'd never find anything. Hmmm or maybe we would.  I usually do remember what color a book is...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

On Being Prepared

There's nothing like a good long power outage to help you realize how unprepared you are.  Thankfully we live in an area that doesn't have a lot of imminent threats - we never get tornadoes, and hurricanes are obviously not a problem in high, dry Wyoming.  But last night our power went out for just a blink of time in the evening.  My thought was - I should find a flashlight.  Well, I did that, and even made sure the batteries worked.  I even lit a scented candle so the kids wouldn't be too panicked. The power stayed on the rest of the evening and we went to bed.  When we got up this morning it was out again - which happened around 1:30 am.  According to the message from the power company, it sounds like the whole county was out - nearly 6,000 people.  Thankfully it wasn't too cold last night, and we weren't cold this morning either.  But the power didn't come back on again until about quarter after noon.

It was kind of comical in a way because the nine year old couldn't figure out what to do.  I found this funny because we don't have television and he doesn't go online or play video games or anything like that.  We watch an occasional movie, but that's about it.  Mostly he does homeschool work, reads and plays with Legos.  But the perception of being without power was a big deal to him.

The five year old was another story.  Having autism, he's very stuck on his routine, and this totally messed it up.  First of all, he ALWAYS has toast for breakfast, and there was just no possible way to make toast.  I finally (after almost two hours) convinced him to eat bread and butter instead ... "cold toast" ;)  Then he wanted to watch a movie.  Oh dear.  It was very upsetting.  He "handles" things like that by just repeating himself over and over - "I want toast" or "I just need toast." Nonstop.

But overall, I realized how unprepared we were for anything like that - especially if it had gone on long-term or been colder.  You would think with all the disasters people have gone through in the past few years that I would be more prepared. Nope. I even went to a workshop conducted by our county emergency manager and got some great tips and ideas for planning (actually it was extremely detailed.)  But I never actually did anything with that information.

Here are some things I realized...
- We have no other heat source here.  We do have a generator, but it was at our shed, not at our house - and it's highly unlikely that we have more than a gallon or so of fuel for it.  We do have a heater we could plug into it ... if we had the generator here and fuel to run it.
- And speaking of fuel, my vehicle was on fumes.  I had remembered I intended to fill up before leaving town Thursday after I had already left town and just figured I'd do it another day.  It had enough fuel to get us to town, but probably not enough to bring us back home.  I know, we're always told to run on the top half of the tank.  Good lesson.
- I also didn't have cash (which makes no difference when the stores are closed, but still...)
-More importantly, we have a well, so without power, we have no water... which means, no flushing, no hand washing, no drinking.  That was the biggest thing.  I put on a pair of cleaning gloves when I had to change a messy diaper.  It worked but it wasn't ideal. I do think I'll make sure to have a box of disposable gloves in the storage room though.
- Our sleeping bags are in our camper - also not at our house. If it had been especially cold last night, we would have had a problem.
- My hand-crank can opener stinks. The good one is in the camper.

I could go on and on.  The point is, we're not prepared. Not by a long-shot.  This is definitely going to take some time - thinking, planning, purchasing, etc.  But today I took the first step. I bought a case of water when I was getting my other groceries.  I figure I can add a little at a time to our storage room so we are at least a little better prepared.  At least part of that is going to have to be finding all our flashlights, or buying more.

We did find that we stayed plenty warm in the daylight by opening the shades in the sun room (aka play room). When we were down there too long, we were too warm.  It was a "fun adventure" given that is was only for a short time.  We had fun playing dominoes to pass the time.  Funny how you feel like you can't do anything else when the power is out.  I have a to-do list with about 20 other things that could have been done without the power, but instead I played dominoes - ha.  Oh well. It was a good family day anyway.  And it was a very good lesson.  I've got some work to do.

Family Life

 Things are really hopping around here - teehee.  Sorry. That was lame.  The five year old told me to take a picture of him jumping.  So I did. He was jumping off the stairs.  This is actually pretty noteworthy because he's getting braver every day.  He will finally very timidly walk down the stairs without sitting down.  He nervously says "I'm brave" over and over all the way down.

So jumping off the bottom stair is a really big thing for him.  He's done so many things that are new for him in the last couple weeks.  He asked me the other day, "What does introduce mean?" - He has never asked the definition of a word before.  For those of you who don't know, he has autism.  He was only diagnosed last Spring, and it's still hard to comprehend the full meaning of the diagnosis.  I think every day it gets more noticable.  That's why I like to make special note of the progress we're seeing too.  He also came up to me after throwing a fit and said, "I was upset because __ took my Legos away."  Normally it's just a meltdown with no explanation, and we have to guess at what's wrong, so this is a HUGE improvement.

Of course he cracks us up on a regular basis too.  A few days ago he came up to my room, where I was reading on the loveseat next to our bed, where he often comes in the middle of the night to sleep.  (I think the best thing we ever did was to get that loveseat because now instead of waking us and wanting in bed with us, he just climbs onto the loveseat which is piled up with pillows and soft blankets, and we never even know he's there until morning.)

Anyway, it was mid-afternoon and I had just put the two year old down for a nap. The five year old never takes naps. But that day he came upstairs and said, "Can you please get off my 'nuther bed?  Sleep in your own bed."  So I moved into my bed so he could have the loveseat. I figured I'd be a good example and hopefully he'd take a nap.  After I moved, he climbed up and snuggled in with his minion, which I hadn't noticed before, and triumphantly exclaims, "There's room for you, Minion!"  Ugh. I got kicked out for a minion. Lol.  Guess I know where I rank.  Not to mention the fact that the Minion couldn't sleep on the loveseat - or so he told me a few (a very few) minutes later, so they both had to climb into the big bed with me.  My life is never boring - ha.

 I finished the puzzle. I've already taken it apart and I'm trying to figure out which one I'll do next. It always takes me a few days in between puzzles to decide which one to do.  I really don't like the sorting stage, so it takes awhile to get up the ambition to start a new one.

The five year old came and got me to show me the "castle" he had made.  I had to laugh about Woody being stuck in it.  I hear a lot about castles since Christmas when the nine year old got the Lego castle set.

 We have been closely watching the Broncos lately too. The two year old yells "Touchdown!" with his arms up ... sometimes even just at random times - ha.  He's actually really into football and will put on a toy helmet (that is way to big for him), grab his brother's football and throw it to one of us, then make a lap around the room and come back for a hand-off and start the whole process over again. It's hilarious, but he does have an amazing ability to throw accurately.  I think he's going to be our athlete.  He never stops running. In the morning he gets dressed, then pretends to be a bucking bull - for longer than I could continue it.  He wears me out just watching him.

Speaking of the two year old, I was busy in the school room right next to the bathroom while I was running his bath one day. I came in to turn off the water and nearly had a heart attack at how much water was in the tub. He was pretty thrilled to be in so much water. I snapped a quick picture, then let about half of it out.  He takes a bath every morning and usually stays in there for more than half an hour.  I asked him one day if he was ready to get out and he told me, "No, I'm just swimmin'."

Since he started taking a bath every morning, the five year old has been motivated to take one every evening.   They don't bathe together. The five year old is constantly telling me, "we have to wait our turn." And in his mind, when it's time for his bath, it's not his brother's turn - and vice versa.  I'm just glad he wants to get in.  He was terrified of bathing for a long time, and he's just getting comfortable with the idea again. He has been initiating it too, telling me as soon as dinner is over that he needs to take a bath.  Big steps. :)

My latest project ... opening a pizzeria.  Ha. Not.

But I got an idea to use pizza boxes to store items and worksheets related to each letter of the alphabet so I can easily pull down a box for the 2 and 5 year old to work on letters.  It's a work in progress and I'll do a separate blog post on it when I get further along in the project.

 We're stuck on movie related toys lately (and Legos, which are always popular). A couple days ago the five year old decided to make his minion wear Woody's hat.  It was funny, but actually turned into a great motor skills game as he tried to balance the hat on the minion's head.

Bristle blocks are the two year old's current favorite.  He brought me this creation tonight and told me it was a mixer.

And this is a dumper. :)  He made both on his own... as you could probably tell. :)

We've also gotten back into the habit of a family game after dinner.  It's usually dominoes or Rack-o. The nine year old was pretty smug about his domino skills because he's won every time we've played... until tonight ;)  He and I usually play chess at the library two days a week too. We have 45 minutes to burn between dropping off the five year old for preschool and the nine year old's swim lessons.  It doesn't make sense to leave town for such a short time, so we go to the library and often play chess (along with checking out a big stack of books).  He's getting pretty good at it.

We nearly had a disaster a couple weeks ago.  My husband twisted his ankle (he missed the bottom step in the middle of the night).  It swelled up pretty bad and stayed that way for about a week.  Unfortunately he was on his way to work, and ended up being on his feet for 22 hours with no time to prop it up.

These pictures were taken two days later. It looked even worse after that. The whole foot turned purple - as in the shade around his ankle in this picture. He was in quite a bit of pain - mostly from the swelling all week. Thankfully, it's quite a bit better now. He's walking normally again, which is definitely an answer to prayer.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Pizza Pie

 I saw a recipe somewhere online for a tasty looking pizza pie (sorry, I'm terrible about not noting where I find these things). So I figured I'd give it a shot.  I didn't really follow their recipe anyway - theirs called for pie crust, but I just used bisquick and mixed in a small amount of water, a little Italian seasoning, and rolled it out like crust - one for the bottom and one for the top.

I added sausage (cooked of course), and everything I might otherwise put on a pizza - mushrooms, onions, black olives, pepperoni. I was out of peppers or they would have gone in there too.  The pepperoni is on top because our nine year old says he doesn't like it, so this way it was easy to see which section was his.  (He says that, but then the next day wanted to make a grilled cheese using pepperoni and mozzerella. yeah.)  Next time the pepperoni is going inside the crust.  I didn't care for how it dried up and fell off the top.

I added a can of tomatoes (I think I used whole tomatoes, but anything would work) and sprinkled in some oregano and Italian seasoning.  The recipe called for mozzerella and cream cheese, blended together, and if I had read it more carefully I was supposed to mix it in with the hot sausage to make it melt together.  I didn't read it carefully though.  I thought it was fine this way, but I could see that it would be much better all mixed in.

 For the allergic 2 year old, I made rice pasta and mixed the meat and veggies in with that.  Basically he just didn't get the crust or the cheeses.  It was actually a really easy recipe to adapt.

I had to include this.  The next morning he had gluten free banana muffins and his "don't-even-think-about-leaving-out-the-banana" breakfast.  The banana muffins were made by his sister back when she was here for Christmas break.  I froze a bunch of them, and he's been slowly enjoying them ever since.

I'll Never Get Tired of This View

 I've been awed by the sunrises again lately - and the sunsets, and middle of the day ... I honestly don't think I could ever get tired of the view we have from this house.

It's amazing to me how much the view changes given the different times of day or weather conditions.  The mountains just glow at times.  Beautiful. It doesn't come through very well in pictures though.

It's hard to get much done at sunrise.  I find myself just staring out the window watching the colors change.  We hoped the other night to catch sight of the Northern Lights, but a snowstorm moved in and we didn't have a view at all.  But we are so blessed each day to get to see such beauty.

It was really foggy yesterday - you can't even make out the mountains.  This is looking directly at the mountains you see in the picture above.

It cleared off later in the day.  It's so relaxing to have a nice view.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Little Bit of Everyday Life

Boy am I sure off to a bad start with the blogging this year!  I just haven't been in the mood I guess.  And there's been a lot going on.  Namely I've been a lot more involved with homeschool, which is a really good thing.  We're changing things up a bit and it's taking more attention.  

We have a little visitor that lives outside our school room door.  We get a lot of birds down here too because there is a feeder directly above us on the deck and seeds get spilled down here.  I'm thinking of moving one of our feeders down here.  It's more sheltered and right outside the school room door where it's easy to watch and refill.

 I started a new puzzle the other night.  It reminded me of my daughter because we did a bunch of puzzles while she was here.  It also reminded me of something I heard at a dinner the other night.  Our church has a gourmet dinner for everyone who has read through their Bible the previous year, and it is at the beautiful log cabin of an older couple in our church.  They are avid puzzle people, and she offered her last puzzle to our pastor's wife, who also enjoys puzzles.  When the wife mentioned to her husband that she wanted to give that puzzle to the pastor's wife, he said, "Why? Are you mad at her?" :)  He insisted that the most difficult part of the puzzle was the part he was assembling.  It was too cute.

Anyway, I'm making pretty good progress on this 1000 piece puzzle. I got most of it done the first night.  But it sure was more fun with my daughter working on them with me!

One day when we were still at my Mom's house in Colorado, I found my boys playing with their cars on a blanket.

This is probably not noteworthy to most of you, but I loved it.

You see, my sister and I have been reminiscing about our old favorite books from our childhood.

I brought a couple of them along to share with her, and she read Pals to her daughter and my boys the night before the picture of them playing on the blanket.

When I was a kid, my favorite page in the whole book was this one - where Jeremy Joe and Tommy are playing with their cars on a quilt.

(As a side note, I'm realizing I was always a fabric person - even before I started to sew. This particular page appealed to me, and I realized at our VBS planning meeting the other day that one of my highlights of attending VBS as a kid was the chance we had at the end of each day to pick a little fabric draw-string bag to take home and bring our offering back in.  I don't remember much about those VBS days but I clearly remember looking forward to picking out my bag for the day!)

While we were in Colorado, I picked up some bamboo roller shades for the sunroom/playroom.

They go really nicely with the wood paneling down there.  I had to laugh because I hosted a ladies' meeting a few days after we got home and the ladies went crazy for that room, insisting I should turn it into the "tomato room" - my indoor garden.

They about have me convinced... now just to convince the kids.  It's been their playroom, but I do think it might be too warm in the summer to really enjoy playing down there.  We'll see who wins out later this year - the kids or the tomatoes ;)