Friday, January 9, 2015

LOVE this time of year!

Am I the only one who thinks January just flies by?  Happy New Year, I blink my eyes, and it is February- already.  And Valentine's Day.  So this year I am taking advantage of these Snow Days to get a jump on our Valentine's (because three kids, plus a teacher-mommy multiplied by 15+ classmates adds up fast).  Here is a few cute ideas I've found...

Printable Valentines:

Frozen Themed
Minecraft Themed
Despicable Me Themed
Disney Themed
My Little Pony Themed
Sofia the First Themed
Sesame Street Themed
Superhero Themed
Shakespeare Themed

There are TONS of these available- do a Google search or look on Pinterest for characters that your kids like.

Of course, you can also go "old-school" and give your kids construction paper, doilies, stickers and crayons and let them go to town- those are always my favorite kind of Valentine.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Snow Day Boredom Busters

Another Snow Cold day here...which means that my oldest has not even gone back to school after break yet.  Thought I'd post a few of our favorite easy, you probably already have most of this stuff activities.  Have fun!

  • Bring a bucket of snow inside.  Put it on a towel or in the tub.  Throw in a few measuring spoons and give the kids some mittens.  
  • Tinker with toys you have.  Grab a screwdriver- it is perfectly safe.
  • Fancy baths- add balloons (fill some with water and some with air), bubbles, dolls, monster trucks, DIY tub paints , or add glow sticks and turn off the lights.  
  • Make snow shooters from cups and cotton balls. 
  • Actually play with all those stuffed animals residing in your home.  Make disguises for them, or set up a vet's office and give them all check-ups.
  • Do experiments.  Check out this fun blubber experiment, or just give your kids a tray with some vinegar, a syringe from that last round of antibiotics and a box of baking soda.
  • Blanket fort!
  • Pandora Dance Party- I recommend the 50's Rock n' Roll station if the thought of listening to the Frozen soundtrack again makes you wince.
  • Freeze won't take long!
  • Make Valentines.  You'll thank yourself in a few weeks.  There are tons of printable ones good for classmates and teachers.  Google it.
  • Playdough zoo, playdough snowmen, or playdough anything!
  • Sort toys by material.  More fun than it sounds.  Try it.
  • Build a Rube-Goldberg machine.  But first watch this OK Go video.
  • Measure out quantities of rice, beans, water, whatever.  Again, more fun than it sounds.
  • Make a Lego-building game. The link is just a picture, but grab a marker...I believe in you.
  • Princess fans?  Do some math.  Or change it into dinosaur teeth if that's more your style. Again, grab a marker.
  • Space-themed sensory all-time favorite at our house.  Or just throw some flour and a scoop in a bin and ready the vacuum.
And if all else fails and your kids are running wild, let them play with the blender.  Yes.  For real.  Give them the safety demo, the LID, and let them at it. You'll be amazed what they will come up with.  You really don't have to try obligation whatsoever.  You probably will though, won't you?, too.

Happy Snow Day.  Have some fun- the kind that would never make it on Pinterest.  Your kids won't care!

Linking up with:
I Choose Joy

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Safe Families Update

I haven't officially posted much about our Safe Families activities lately, so here goes:

From July-August we hosted a sweet 10 month old baby girl who went on to a second Safe Family, and then returned home to her mother and grandparents.  Then in October we had a very interesting hosting for a week.  We had a mother and her three girls (5, 9 and 11), who are originally from Syria.  They had fled violence both in their country and in their family and ended up here alone, with nowhere to go and no way to work.  They stayed with us for a week, before moving on to a place that speaks their language and can help them get all the services that they need.  It was a real cultural experience hosting a Muslim family, and cooking (!yum!) and living together.  It was a tough, but very rewarding week, and we will never forget our Syrian friends, though we will probably never cross paths again. As a side note- Bee recently got a cute Memory game with faces of children from around the world.  When she got to a little girl in a headscarf, she said...that looks like our Syria mama friend!  I love that our children have such a diverse set of friends, and that they can put a face and a name to customs and skin colors that could otherwise seem very foreign.  It is hard to be racist against a group of people when you know them personally.  What a gift this experience has given all of us.

This weekend we said goodbye to our latest Safe Families child, B.  Yes, we seem to get all the kids whose names start with B!  This little guy is nearly 5 and has been with us since November 3rd.  He attended full-time school at the same school where I teach and the girls go to preschool.  He traveled with us to the City Museum down in St. Louis, and up to Lake Geneva twice- for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  He performed in a preschool Christmas program (which we were able to share with his grandma and aunt) and was the cow in the Nativity Pageant at our church.  He was a bit rough around the edges when he came, but we are proud to say that he has really come a long way.  He is a real sweet, loving kid, and he is going to do very well.

We had originally thought that he would be able to return to his mother after several months, but it now looks as though that process will happen much more slowly, if at all.  Luckily, we had a true answer to prayer and a wonderful couple (band teachers no less) have stepped forward to host him and his brothers.  This family doesn't have any other kids, so B and his brothers (also B and B) will get all the attention they need.  Better yet, they are willing to keep them safe and loved until their biological family is ready to have them back, and if that doesn't happen, they are prepared to raise them as their own.  What big hearts and great faith they have to open themselves up to that let themselves fall in love with these kids knowing that they may or may not stay.  I cannot imagine a better outcome for these little sweeties.  Hallelujah!

We will miss him, but it will also be nice to go back to being a family of five for a while.  Every SF placement seems to bring the five of us closer together- each of us has our own role to play with our guests.  Hubby is often the first positive male in their lives, and he is the resident tooth-brusher, rough-houser and fun-maker...he also keeps me sane.  I do a lot of behavior management, reward charts and consequences.  Also laundry.  Our kids all help to shape the children, too.  The power of positive peer pressure is strong.  Lego was born to teach children the alphabet...once he finds out they don't know their letters, he is a man on a mission.  Bee is the sweet little love who cheers for each new accomplishment and puts up with having things explained to her over and over, when we are really explaining them to our new child ( you remember how we always put our clothes into the laundry bin?  Of course she does- she's been doing it since she was tiny.)  Flower has perhaps the most important role...she is always willing to play with our new friend, model good behavior, and uphold the law of the land.  One day our little guy asked what was for dinner and I told him it was macaroni.  He responded with "YOU'RE SH***ING ME."  Without missing a beat, Flower said, "In this family, we say you're KIDDING me, B."  He responded with the correct phrase and she praised him for it.  She is such a natural leader for these kids, we truly couldn't do it without her.  We ask our kids to share their toys, their parents, their house, their space and to squish into the car next to a kid they have never met.  Yet, when we get a call to take a child, they are the ones saying YES and running to prepare the room as Hubby and I wishy-wash about whether to say yes or no.  They rise to the occasion every single time, and we are so proud of them!  

So that's the update for now.  We plan to take a little break from hosting (at least long placements) and enjoy our own little people for a while.  Going from four kids (and SF kids are always very needy) to just our three makes life seem SO easy.  We thoroughly enjoy the honeymoon time we get after each placement ends where we all just breathe easy and regroup.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

I Want You To Cook...A THEME!

One of my family's favorite things to do is to have a THEME dinner.  We pick a movie, and then cook a meal to go along with it.  My Mom is the master of this.  In the past we've done A Christmas Story, The Muppets, Around the World in 80 Days and A Charlie Brown Christmas.  This year, we were treated to the movie State Fair, and enjoyed our favorite carnival foods.  So delicious and so much fun.  My parents really went all-out this year!
State Fair, 1945

Fair-style lemonade, popcorn and mini donuts
Cheese fries, corndogs and corn on the cob...on a stick!

But the true masterpiece...

Our State Fair is a great State Fair...don't miss it, don't even be late!  It's dollars to donuts that our State Fair is the best State Fair in our state!

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Yearsing 2015

We spent the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 at a cabin up North with my family.  It was SO relaxing...we played at least 6 games of Clue, 3 games of Battleship, Memory, Hanabi, Anomia, Camelot, Mario and completed 4 thousand-piece puzzles.  Luxury my friends, pure luxury!

Aunts are the best!

ONE of the puzzles.

Playing with our new magna-tiles with Great Grampa.

Tripoli...Lego's first time playing!

You sunk my battleship!
US History trivia with Great Grampa

Chocolate fondu for New Year's Eve!

3, 2, 1...

HAPPY NEW YEAR (at 7pm...its New Year somewhere!)

Great Gramma snuggles!

Christmasing 2014

Long time, no blog!  Here's a quick look at December:

Cut down our Christmas tree on a 33 degree day.  Seemed like a good idea until the boots started getting sucked off in the mud...


They clean up pretty good though!  Preschool Xmas programs.

First Xmas celebration with the Great Grandparents, my parents, Aunt and Uncle and cousin.

Fun with Grampa!

Christmas pageant.  That little cow *may* have thought the wise man's coins were made of chocolate, stolen them and started a nativity brawl.  This momma *may* have crawled under the altar to break up said brawl. Good times... 

Reading "The Night Before Christmas"

Santa brought a PET?!  FISH?  Doesn't he have to clear that with the parents first?!  These kiddos must have been VERY good this year (they were!)

Coolest Christmas morning crowd ever.

More Christmasing with my folks

Christmasing with Hubby's parents as well.

Visit from dear friends.  Lots of playing (losing) Hanabi and working puzzles!

We should really remember to get their picture before they are sad about having to leave next year...but it was awesome to see our friends.  We also had visits from several other of our favorite people- love Christmas when all our friends come back to visit!