with thanksgiving upon us this thursday, this week's list is about thankfulness.
top 10 things i am thankful for (in no particular order):
1. my hard-working, loving and patient husband. and my 3 wonderful children.
2. being able to stay home and manage all aspects of running a household.
[what a privilege it is to be home when the kids come home from school, and not have to rush from daycare to home in order to make dinner and get homework done before bedtime (we've experienced that before and it's VERY stressful on both parents and kids). it is an honor to be a full-time home manager (or home engineer or whatever you want to call it), and not have to split my energy in two (or more) different jobs (i've experienced that too, and, again, VERY stressful and VERY draining).]
3. our community and the meaningful relationships we have developed with the people in the area since our move here 5 years ago.
4. God's mercy, neverending love, and faithfulness.
5. Jesus and his sacrifice.
6. my husband's job and health benefits (even though i gripe about it sometimes).
7. the home that God provided for us so that we may use it to show hospitality to others.
8. the opportunities provided for us to share what we have with others.
9. God's word to guide, correct, and teach us and our children.
10. my extended family and my church family.
wishing you a warm and fulfilling thanksgiving holiday.
last friday you turned 6 months. half-way to your 1st birhtday already? really? where did the time go? in fact, i didn't even realize you turned 6 months on friday until sunday morning when someone from church asked how old you were. sorry.
you cut your first tooth about 2 weeks ago. you eat and nurse like a champ. it's no wonder you're a hefty little dude.
today we took you in for your 6 month check-up. your height and weight confirm what i already know...you. are. chunky.
weight: 19 lbs. 10 oz. (about the 80th percentile)
height: 27.25 in. (about the 75th percentile)
but no matter how big you get, you will always be my little baby. smiling and laughing at me with those chubby cheeks and that teeny tooth poking out.
these blank christmas cards are up on my etsy shop. they're not true origami in the sense that the tree was made with one paper, but i was pleased with the outcome.
it's been quite a challenge trying to make more items for the shop between the kids and making sure the house doesn't fall apart from neglect. i'm hoping to have more items listed by the end of next week.
now i just have to figure out a way to fold a snowman...
we are stewards of the earth that God has so graciously created for us. what kind of legacy are we leaving for our children?
so...continuing on the holiday theme from last week, i bring you this week's list.
top 10 ways to green-ify your gift-giving:
1. use newspaper, magazine pages, old calendars, maps, etc. as gift wrap.
[my sister is an excellent example of this. from the comic section of a newspaper to magazine pages, she is very resourceful when it comes to wrapping gifts]
2. when you receive gifts, save the tissue paper, gift boxes and gift bags to re-use for other gifts.
[i don't think i've had to buy gift bags in a very long while. i am guilty of buying holiday wrapping paper though. i know if i implement no. 1, not only would i be producing less waste but i will also be saving money!]
3. make part of the gift as the wrapping to decrease wasteful packaging.
4. make home-made edible gifts (e.g. cookies, jellies, truffles) and package them using re-purposed materials (maybe beautify an old egg carton and use them as your truffle container) or use the idea in no. 3.
5. give memberships or classes as gifts.
6. offer your time and/or skills as a gift.
7. when you purchase gifts, try to look for items that have minimal packaging.
[loud, noise-making, plastic toys seem to be the worst culprits with all the excessive twist ties and over-sized boxes. plus those little twist ties can pose a chocking hazard to little ones! better to avoid them all together :) ].
8. avoid giving "extra" gifts (i also like to call them empty) and stick to the gift the person has requested.
[this one was inspired by ty's comment about receiving too much stuff during christmas that he doesn't end up using. if you're unsure about what a person likes or needs, ask for suggestions. there have been a number of items the kids have received that have found their way to the give away or throw away pile within a year's time.]
9. re-purpose items or find them used to give as gifts.
[is it always necessary to buy new when an older item will work just fine? or think of ways to turn items you have around the house into gifts. here is a great idea for re-puprposing plastic bottles and dispensers. very simple, cute, and low-cost.]
10. contribute or help create a mutual fund, savings bond, college fund, mortgage fund *ahem* special savings account, etc.
[yes, yes. i know what you're thinking. how boring...it's more fun to have something to open on christmas. but let me pose some questions for you to ponder over: what kind of a legacy are you leaving behind for your kids, for your grand-kids, for your great-grandkids? where should our focus be during the holiday season? what is christmas really about and will your children understand its true meaning?]
and that's a wrap (ha, ha, ha...i crack myself up) folks!
last week was the grand opening of the made in the 216 holiday shoppe. if you are local, this shop will be running for the month of november (last day is november 29), open 12-7 p.m. monday-saturday and 12-4 on sundays.
as always, the shoppe had some wonderful handmade items from local artists. i found the perfect little gift of some almost edible looking soap truffles.
and there were some adorable little kiddie items (a little out of our price range) that we couldn't resist putting on emma and gibson.
aside from the shoppe, the area was finally done with construction and the street received an excellent face-lift! the curvy benches were irresistable to climb and jump off by big and small children alike.
this week's top 10 are some (hopefully) helpful ideas to keep you from stressing over the holiday season (i don't know why the holidays are stressful. i say NO to stress for the holidays!).
top 10 ways to a less stressful holiday season (in no particular order):
1. do your christmas shopping early. or better yet, year round.
[i try to do the whole year round thing but i end up forgetting that i had already bought something by the time christmas rolls around]
2. get organized, plan ahead, make lots of lists.
3. two words: online shopping.
[in my opinion, the shipping costs significantly off-sets the headache, annoyance, crammed parking lots, traffic, cranky kids, and the over-abundance of crazy people in one place while shopping for your gifts]
4. collective gift-giving: pool money together between you and others to get a gift for someone.
5. agree to a monetary or tangible gift limit.
[this is something we are officially starting this year with our family. after a family meeting we have decided that each member of the family will only receive 3 gifts for christmas. why 3? we took this idea from some good friends of ours who choose the number 3 because it was the number of gifts jesus received when he was a child. not only is this helpful in taking away the stress of making sure we each receive a gift from each other, but it teaches our children about moderation and that christmas is not about receiving presents.]
6. agree to no gifts (this one probably works better for the adults).
7. establish boundaries and don't over-book yourself and your family...it's okay to say no.
8. draw names for gifts (this one is especially great if you have a large family and/or extended family)
9. if you have parents and in-laws in the same area get on a rotation about where you and your family will be for thanksgiving and/or christmas.
10. keep your focus on what truly matters during the holidays (attitude of gratitude, the birth of Jesus, family).
as i mentioned last week, we started gibson on rice cereal and we have had great success in introducing some more new foods since then.
aside from the store-bought rice cereal, i have begun making food for him to eat instead of buying the commercially made kind at the store. making baby food is actually quite simple, and i use ruth yaron's super baby food as a guide in how to prep and store the baby food.
so the first post-cereal food we introduced were pears (which he devoured!), followed quickly by applesauce (because i ran out of pears since his big sister ate almost the entire thing), and then a mixture of apples and pears together.
the apple/pear sauce was easy to make. i used melissa's method to prepare the fruit (about 4 apples and 3 pears peeled and sliced thick), and really, by the time it had sat in the crock pot for a few hours it does just come apart. i put it through a fine strainer to make sure it was super pureed and that's it (no sweeteners needed).
i used what ruth yaron refers to as the food cube method to store the extra sauce. any sauce that i wasn't goint to use up within the week i put in ice cube trays (about 3 tsp. in each cube which is equivalent to 1 tbs.). place plastic wrap over the trays (you can place a piece of wax paper first if you're worried about leeching from the platic wrap into the food) and stick them in the freezer until frozen. once frozen, pop out each cube out and store them in a labeled and dated gallon size bag or container (i prefer bag because it takes up less space in my freezer). all i have to do now is take out what i need for the next few days and de-frost in the fridge. the sauce should keep quite well in the freezer (per ruth yaron about 6 months but i don't plan on keeping it for that long).
some exceptions to this method are bananas and avocadoes, which are easy to just mash up with a fork and serve. i tried both with gibson. the banana was a hit (sadly...i'm sure you know my aversion to bananas), but the avocado was not. i think i didn't allow the avocado to ripen long enough so there was still too much texture even after i mashed it up. we'll try again in a few days!
the month of october was brought to you by the letter C.
here are all the "c" themed activities we did...
introducing the letter c:
we filled our big "c" sheet with cherries, a circle, a cat, and a cow. then we looked through the weekly grocery flyer for "c" words like cereal and chips. our little "c" was used for the word car. we looked through her big brother's old motor trend magazines for some cool cars to paste on the sheet. the blue car was her favorite, and apparently it was ty's favorite too because he made the same comment about the blue one when he saw it. they must be related!
we found mommy's and daddy's cars outside, and emma also played with her vast collection of hot wheels cars (hand-me down from big brother) conveniently parking them in rows or a straight line right in the middle of the floor.
we made chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, ate dried cranberries, and cashews. she had cinnamon toast crunch cereal for breakfast which was a HUGE treat in our house (we usually don't have pre-sweetened cereal. cheerios and/or rice krispies are staples, sweetened with honey or a sprinkle of sugar). we had plenty of dishes with chicken, and a few meals involving corn and carrots. and of course, we couldn't go to the market this month without having crepes!
very hungry caterpillar and little cloud both by mr. eric carle
the C book and cook-it: mama's birthday surprise both by stan and jan berenstain
the carrot seed by ruth kraus
emma loves to help me cook when she can. when we made the crepes, she enjoyed helping mix the batter and then later on helping me flip the crepe over in the pan. that's really the only hot stove work she does with me. most of the time she helps me cook by taste testing the food.
we read the story of esther in the bible. we learned how she became a queen and was very brave when it came to saving her people. then emma made and decorated her own crown. when she puts on the crown she's not just any queen, but queen esther.
we talked about jesus and his sacrifice on the cross for us. this has to be her favorite part of the bible, and she can give you a low-down on the gospel if you ask her. afterwards, we did the "eye of god" craft from the children's year. the origins of the ojo de dios (god's eye) is not really related to the symbolism of the cross in the christian religion. however, it was an excellent exercise in patience and fine-motor skills (mommy ended up doing most of the weaving though), and a great opportunity to discuss the gospel again during our weaving.
cards: we made a birthday card for emma's cousin sam's 1st birthday. emma also made her own thank you card for some special missionary friends of ours which we sent out along with a care package.
colors: we took many walks to observe the changing colors of the leaves, and identifying specific colors found in them. we noticed that towards the end of the month more leaves had changed colors and that some of the trees had already lost all their leaves.
we made colored rice using food coloring which i found here. we did a couple of bags with single colors, but emma had more fun mixing colors together.
we then filled a glass container with some small objects (i took a picture of all of them beforehand for reference) and covered it with our colored rice. then we tried to find all the objects. this was a super fun activity found here (even tyler enjoyed it). once all the objects were found, i switched them out for new things.
and of course, there was some good ol' fashioned coloring with crayons and markers. we even had an impromptu coloring night with mommy, emma, and tyler all coloring on the floor. very fun (and therapeutic for me).
i dug out all the "c" spices i had in the cupboard (curry, cloves, chilli powder, cumin, and cinnamon). emma smelled and sampled each one. her favorite was curry. hmmm....
emma is a pro at drawing circles. lots and lots of circles! we also identified objects we saw that had a circle shape like waffles, cheerios cereal, and wheels on cars and bikes.
"c" people we know:
the "c"s of halloween:
carving pumpkins, cat costume and candy!
this one is easy...we go to church every sunday. we found different kind of churches in our area, and talked about how different some churches looked on the outside. for example, ours doesn't even look like the traditional church building, and it doubles as tyler's school during the week! emma was amazed by this fact.