April 28, 2010

Picnic Prepared!

For years I have longed to make a quilt but been too afraid to try it. Inspired by many people, including my cousin-in-law, Erin, and SouleMama, I decided to give it a go with some thrifted pillowcases I have been saving for an unknown future project.

Using five pillowcases at 50 cents each, one thrifted queen sheet (cut to size) at $2.00, and one velux style blanket that I've had since Eric and I got married 10 years ago, along with some thread, the total cost for this picnic quilt was about $5.00! It took me two days to complete and I worked for about 3 hours each day. This was a perfect quilting experiment for me because I didn't have to worry about ruining beautiful, expensive fabrics. I learned a lot in the process and I am excited to work on some more quilting projects very soon! I have plans to make some placemats and maybe some chair pads for our dining room plus a shower curtain! Very fun stuff! It was extremely satisfying to watch these little pillowcases become rectangles and then piecing all those rectangles together to make one large piece. So fun!

So here is the finished product- One lovely blanket just perfect for picnicking and memory making!

:) It was really sunny and windy!

Make each day count!

April 24, 2010

Still Doing It

We're taking the Outdoor Challenge! Are you? Learn more at 5 Orange Potatoes.

Yeah, I haven't forgotten about the challenge! We're still doing it, and doing well! It has taken some real determination on my part some days because I just really prefer to not have to chase Alex everywhere out there, but I'm making myself do it AND I'm enjoying it. :)

So here is a quick recap of the last few days:

Wednesday, April 21-
We all went outside (except Alex, who was napping) to help Marah learn to ride her bike without training wheels. I'm determined that she will be done with those by the end of Spring. She's not taking to it quite as well as Jenna did, but she's making progress. Her biggest obstacle is getting the bike started, but once she gets going she has balance and can do it on her own, just not for very long. We're practicing in the grass until she gets the hang of it.

So very proud.

Daddy helps out (LOVE)

There she goes!

Thursday, April 22-
Because it was Earth Day I was determined to not only get outside but to teach the girls about being good helpers of the Earth so we all went to a local park and the girls picked up garbage. They got lucky because this park is clearly already well cared for and there wasn't much garbage, but I've decided that we will make this a regular part of our outdoor activity and I'm aiming for once a week. Our neighborhood is so littered with garbage! The whole city just gets really dirty during winter and once the snow melts it looks so terrible. So we'll be working on that.

At the Japanese Friendship Garden.

Daddy chewing his nails, as usual!

Such good little helpers!

Friday, April 23-
After Eric left for the weekend and I dropped Jenna off for a sleepover and Girl Scout event, I took the little ones home and we played outside for a good hour in the evening. We saw some moths and HUGE bumblebees (?) and just had a good time simply playing. It doesn't always have to be something special. Sometimes the best moments are just doing what comes naturally and enjoying some quality time outdoors with your family.

He's a tree hugger already!

Lovin' this Freecycle score!

Today (Saturday) Marah is at a birthday party and Alex and I are planning to join her after naptime. If we don't get any outside time while we're there then I think we'll do a nighttime walk after we get home from picking up Jenna from Girl Scouts. I'll be sure to post pictures as soon as I can. On Sunday we'll be heading out to my sister-in-law and her husband's farm where we'll have plenty of outdoor play and probably a barbeque. Should be a great weekend!

Make each day count!

April 20, 2010

Let's Go Fly a Kite

We're taking the Outdoor Challenge, are you? Check out 5 Orange Potatoes for more details!

Almost missed out on this beautiful day today by waiting until 7:00 pm before I took the kids outside. Granted, they spent most of the day playing outside without me, but still I want to get out there with them every day. So I decided to take advantage of a windy day and let the kids fly their new kites that they got for Easter.

We have a really retro park with the metal playground and the creaky old swings just a block away and while it's not the best playground ever, it does have a soccer field which is clear of trees and perfect for kite flying.

The girls had a lot of fun watching their kites soar on the breeze and Alex got a good laugh out of the event as well. We stuck around and played on the slide and swings afterward and got to enjoy the lovely song of a Robin that stuck around in a tree for quite sometime to keep us entertained.

I have to say, taking the kids out and doing fun things with them has sure been earning me a lot more "I love you's" and that is always something to smile and be grateful for.

Make each day count!

April 19, 2010

Mud Pies and Water Fun!

We're taking The Outdoor Challenge! Are you? Find out more at 5 Orange Potatoes.

I'm the first to admit that I am not a morning person. Really. Like, not at all! I do not get going until evening. That's when I am at my best and so that is when most of our activity finally starts to happen. I'm working on it. I can't just let my kids do whatever until I'm ready to do something otherwise most of the day ends up wasted.

Today we had some crafting time in the morning which was a big deal for me. I even pulled out the sewing machine AND let the kids help! Marah was begging me to buy some pretend food and a shopping cart so that she could go grocery shopping at home. Since I had actually been thinking of making up some play food for the kids recently anyway, I decided now was as good a time as any to get started. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it doesn't all have to get done in one day. It can be an ongoing project.

So I gathered up some old t-shirts and scraps of knit jersey fabric I had in my bin and we started talking about what foods could be made with the different colors. The girls were very creative with some of their ideas, things I would never have thought of (fish and water from a bright blue fabric). We cut and sewed and stuffed and sewed and ended up with an apple, tomato, broccoli, celery, pear, fish, water, and chips. Not bad for a couple hours of work! The girls had fun shopping and Marah has been playing with them all day. They are very rough and not professional quality by any means, but they get the job done!

After supper I gathered up the kids and we went outside for some play. Even Eric joined us (not a big outdoors type)! While Eric and Jenna played catch, Marah and Alex and I started making mud pies. I knew I was in for a mess but I was kind of excited about it! It's not something I want to deal with every day, but once in awhile it's good to let the kids just have fun and make a mess. Dig in, get wet, strip down, shiver a bit, smush, stomp, splash! It's what being a kid is all about, exploring this great big world we live in and learning from these experiences.

All it took was my pouring a little water on Alex to start a water fight! I was carrying the camera so I was excused from most of the action, but I knew it was only a matter of time before Eric would get me, and I was right! That water was COLD! Alex was walking around shivering for the rest of his outside time, but he didn't care. He just wandered around with that goofy grin he's so famous for, shivering all the while.

There's that goofy grin!

Time to clean up!

This April weather has been unbelievable for us in NW Minnesota! I can't believe how warm it's been. I'm only slightly disappointed that all the sweaters I bought on clearance in February haven't been worn much (I figured I had until the end of May to wear them!) and now I have to buy more clothes... darn. Well, it's kind of a bummer only because clothes cost money and since I have a daughter turning 10 soon with a birthday to plan as well as summer clothes to buy for, my own needs get put on the back burner for now. I guess I'll just have to live with what I have for now. I'll get by :)

Make each day count!

Get out there!

We are joining the Great Outdoor Challenge at 5 Orange Potatoes. The challenge is to get outside, rain or shine, every day and do something in nature. I have been trying so hard to get out there with the kids more and this challenge is perfect for me... I love a challenge! April is Children and Nature Awareness Month so there is no better time than the present to help your children with getting closer to the planet and all of it's wonders that God created for us to enjoy!

We started off the challenge with a little home building for the local faeries. This involved plenty of gathering, thinking, and imagining with my girl, Marah. Alex explored the rock bed while we were working on our project. Marah was ready to get very detailed and wanted to make swimsuits for the faeries but I told her that faeries swim naked so that got me out of that! Maybe one day I'll get up the motivation to sew tiny swim suits but I need to be prepared for that, I'm not that spontaneous... but I'm working on it. I suppose I could at least make some little towels for them, that shouldn't be much work.

Very proud of the work she put in to this little faerie house!

I think my favorite part of building the faerie house was when Marah said to me "We should make a cross so the faeries can know that Jesus died." Well, I couldn't think of a better message to share with our faerie friends! And so we did just that, fashioning a cross from two twigs and binding it with some dried plant leaves.

On that cross, as Jesus died, the lamb of God was satisfied.

While we were out there building we discovered this little ant very hard at work carrying a tiny spider, I can only assume, back to his colony for supper. Let me tell you, it was quite fascinating to watch! Marah and I grabbed our magnifying glasses and watched it trudging through the rough terrain, losing it's prey several time and having to backtrack and grab it again (the spider was still alive and would start crawling away each time the ant lost its' grip). I marveled at how hard this little ant was working! God's creation is truly amazing.

He works hard for the money!

Once we had our magnifiers we toured the yard and took a nice, up-close look at the plants and moss and many textures of nature in our tiny yard. I can't wait to go down to the river banks and do the same with so much more to explore!

So, will you join the challenge? Lots of awesome ideas to challenge you over at 5 Orange Potatoes!

Make each day count!

April 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

That's my boy!

Make each day count!

April 12, 2010

Manic Monday

Oh my, have I mentioned how much I love rainbow order? This arrangement served no purpose other than to make my heart happy!

If you're anything like me, Mondays are the most crazy and ambitious day of your week. For me, the start of a new week is important and gets me motivated to start new projects (that often go unfinished), clean the house (which is quickly de-cleaned by the other members of my household), and sit the kids down for "school" (a word that is thrown around quite casually here and an undertaking that I usually last 3 days maximum).

I recently ordered a new book from Amazon (using my Swag Bucks Amazon.com gift card rewards!) called The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections
by Amanda Blake Soule. I am really enjoying it and have decided to read it through once and then go through it again but take the time to implement and document the ideas, activities, and journey of enriching my family's life through creative means. I consider myself a creative person but I am not very motivated and I tend to be rather lazy. However, that does not mean that I don't care about my family or what they are learning and experiencing in their everyday lives, I just need motivation to get into it and that is what reading does for me. So I'm hoping that I can inspire some others to do the same. So look for that to come in the near future. I already have lots of ideas swimming about in my head!

So anyway, for today I just want to share with you what a typical (if there is such a thing around here) Monday looks like in our home.

We don't go by any real schedule. Unless there are appointments to go to (Jenna goes to speech therapy twice a week) or activities planned (Awana, Girl Scouts), we pretty much hang out and do whatever all day. Some days I am more organized and have things planned and other days I am pretty relaxed and the kids spend most of their time playing, drawing, reading, watching TV, or whatever else suits their interest at the moment. When winter closes us indoors we can get pretty exhausted trying to think of things to do (something I'm trying to improve upon daily) but now that the weather is warmer the kids are able to be outside as much as they like and I am so happy for that. The only thing missing is a fenced in yard so that I could let Alex play outside without having to stand next to him the entire time so that he doesn't run out into the street (which, of course, seems to be the only place he wants to go when he's out there)!

Today I started the day with some computer time because I need that in the morning. I'm not a morning person. Not at all. So I usually try to start out with 30 minutes of checking email and Facebook and a couple of blogs before I get going on stuff. This morning I was happily surprised to find my brother messaging me on gmail so I got to chat with him for a bit, which is very rare.

After I get everyone their breakfast I start up a load of laundry and then work on one room of the house, usually the kitchen or living room because they are the most messy and lived in areas of our home. I put on some good music (today it was Sing Over Me) and get to work.

By the time I get through with that it's time for lunch and then Alex takes a nap. This is when I get to spend some quality time with the girls and today we made the most of a rainy day by painting with watercolor, making friendship bracelets, and getting some little things done for the dollhouse (which I've been promising them for about a year now that we would decorate).

Their still life assignment was to paint Jenna's new fish, Wave, in his flower vase habitat.

You can see the blue fish Marah painted. Looks pretty good!

Jenna took this very seriously and had a nice, relaxing time with it.

Creating a friendship bracelet for her new friend, Camryn.

Marah's bracelet ended up being a necklace length because she had a hard time with making a tight braid. Still, she enjoyed the process.

Practicing with the focus on macro mode. Marah didn't realize I was trying to take a photo of her finger and she just wanted to make silly faces!

Seriously, how pretty is the embroidery floss? Makes me want to start a new embroidery project... maybe tomorrow!

We had some fun talking about underwater adventures and played a little math game and then the kids went outside to play and get lots of exercise. I took a nap. Naps are nice.

Then it's crazy time as we have supper (pizza night on Mondays), play some more, watch a little TV, take baths and get to bed. A nice story time and it's lights out and finally I get a little time to get some work done.

Tomorrow I'll start again with more goals and ambitious plans that will likely not all get done but I'm taking it moment by moment and just enjoying the time I have with these wonderful people. God has greatly blessed me and I don't want to forget that.

Make each day count!