Thanksgiving week

The kids and I spent a whole week at my parents over the Thanksgiving holidays. Here are some of the fun things we did!

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Making pilgrim hats out of marshmallows and chocolate – think the kids have had enough sugar?

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Crafting toilet paper roll pilgrims. A task that requires many older helpers.

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Our little Thanksgiving people.

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One night we played a murder mystery game. A western theme, some good cookin’ and intrigue made for a fun night.

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Brian and Amy’s mom try to gain information without giving anything away themselves….

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Stacie and Katie form a secret alliance. I was busy playing ref the whole night and enjoyed spreading rumors.

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Kids enjoy Thanksgiving dinner! Flora liked the sweet potato fries, Lance preferred the rolls and all of them gagged on their required bite of green beans.

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The day after Thanksgiving we went camping! We dressed up like the first Thanksgiving and ate semi-authentically. Ivy enjoyed the deer sausage.

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Well, mostly the girls dressed up.

Later we took the kids on a nature hike:

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Lance and Papa forge ahead, enjoying the sights.

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Ivy poses in a bark house I put together.

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Flora enjoyed the fall leaves.

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The trail was long (1 1/2 miles?) and the way steep but the kids pushed through for the promise of G.O.R.P. at each bridge. They mostly ate the M&M’s, thoughtfully leaving a Thanksgiving dinner of granola for the squirrels. 

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The last part of the trail was a long downhill and the big kids ran most of it, laughing the whole way. We enjoyed a pleasant evening around the campfire and turned in.

The next morning we awoke to a cold front and rain so we packed up and headed back to Amy’s parents house to finish out the weekend. What a wonderful break from daily life!

A Gift

Have you ever heard the saying, ‘God does not give dying grace on an undying day’? Yesterday gave me a small glimpse of that principle in action.

No, nobody died or anything but the day did contain an amazing amount of stressors: fights, kid falling out of a shopping cart, hungry whining kids in the checkout line, several cooking projects while watching another kid in addition to mine, pee on the floor, carrying two children (one asleep) in a store, bead up a nose (twice!) prepping for dinner guests, Christmas tree pulled over, major fit from a kid, another kid throwing up all over their bed, no ‘down time’ for mom – all along with laundry, dishes, meal prep and the usual ‘mom’ stuff.

Yet, when all was said and done and I was finally settling into bed, I observed to Brian that, despite the events of the day, I had felt strangely calm and cheerful the whole time. I don’t even think I lost my temper (by no merit of my own). What made this day so different than other less crazy days where I’ve lost it?

Pondering this morning I decided it was this: unmerited grace.

I was not striving to ‘be in the Lord’, I wasn’t ‘continuing in prayer’, I wasn’t meditating on scripture to get me through the day, I was just living. There was nothing I had done, or was doing to pull down extra grace for the day but God had deemed it necessary for me and reached down in love, providing what I hadn’t even asked for.

You never know when you’re going to need this kind of grace and don’t always know you’re experiencing it until you look back. I wonder if dying grace is that way, not just for big time Christians as they die a martyr’s death, but unexpected and there when you need  it.

God knows just when to touch my life and He does it because He loves me, not because I’ve had my quiet time that morning.

A gift. Grace.

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An early gift for you as a thanks for reading.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Birthday Flora!

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My blonde, sweet baby who loves animals, and soft things. (Christmas dress made by Aunt Katie)

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We celebrated a double party with cousin Jenny who likes puppies – hence the dog in the above photo. The girls were thrilled with their cakes the day before the party. Flora almost snagged an early sample during the photo session.

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However, when it came to actually trying the cake, neither girl was ready to embarrass themselves in front of all the guests.

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Flora picked at the chocolate cake but enjoyed the strawberry cake I gave her later.

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Is this for me?

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Siblings and cousins helped Flora open and enjoy her gifts.

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The older kids played pin the tail on the dog and cat. Lance watched the big kids go first and figured he had the hang of the game. On his turn he lifted the blindfold, marched up to the poster and pinned his tail – not where it belonged, but where everyone else had put theirs!

Bible Time

Here’s a rundown on a few weeks of activities we did on Bible stories.

Daniel and the Lion’s Den:

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Made crowns and played “King Darius says” to be like a king issuing decrees for other to follow. We started a chore chart because it was like the laws that a king could make.

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Scary lion masks! We built a lion’s den out of the card table and blankets. Lance enjoyed throwing people in the lion’s den. We also learned to pray to God, just like Daniel.

Zaccheus:

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Used chore charts started the previous week to let the kids earn money. Every night Brian would check their charts and hand out pennies – very exciting times!

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Made banks out of peanut butter jars – decorated them with stickers which were peeled back off within 24 hrs. Lance was good at finding money in parking lots and parks to add to his bank. Somehow Ivy lost about half of hers from too much “counting.”

Later I took them to a party store to make a small purchase (piece of candy) to introduce the idea that money can be exchanged for something. The cashier was very nice, helped them count out the pennies, and rang up the 7 cent purchases, each getting their own receipt.

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Worked on making the letter “Z” by making a route to trace. We start with Zaccheus at the top who went to the tree, then Jesus came along, and lastly they traveled to Zaccheus’ house.

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And of course, we had to climb tress! We started with some small ones near our apartment.

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Lance really enjoyed this activity and has continued ever since then. Another evening we went to a park with lots of good climbing trees and practiced some more. Fun stuff!

David and Goliath:

Collected five smooth stones out of the wading pool – this turned into an unplanned swim. Tried making slings but that didn’t work so well. Also reviewed opposites like “big and little.” After this, Lance would stand up in the recliner and say “Lance is tall!” then climb down and say “Lance is little” then lay down on the floor and say “Lance is little and little.”

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Came up with this one all on my own! Wanted to make sheep (David was a shepherd) but didn’t have cotton balls. Finally thought of rice as something white they could glue and while in the kitchen decided to do different foods that were white. The kids LOVED this project.

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Here we have oatmeal, grits, rice, flour, sugar, and the favorite, marshmallows! I let them eat the marshmallows off the craft the next day. Since it was hanging on the fridge it was hard to keep them from picking them off anyhow.

Had some friends over (all boys) so on the spur of the moment I made a Goliath out of blocks that we could knock down with our “rocks.” (soft balls)

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We also made a 9ft drawing of goliath. Good thing we have a tall ceiling!

Then challenged the boys to hit Goliath in the head!

Thanks to my mom for most of these great ideas!

Kid update

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Lance: Imaginative, contagious laugh, loves to wrestle, striving to be a part of the big people world. Can sing whole songs, quote movies (Bambi is his favorite!), string events (i.e. we eat, take bath, go to sleep, wake up and go _____ ), thinks he can tell time, can count to three or five depending on the day, dress himself (usually everything backwards) and loves to snuggle with mommy.

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Lance has taken to carrying around two toy dogs (both named Tank) and can do just about anything and hold them at the same time.

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Here Lance is nursing his Tanks, properly covered of course.

Lance is very excited about the “baby in Mommy’s tummy” and has offered several theories about how this could have happened. He loves seeing the picture in my email update each week and knows that the baby has to “grow bigger and bigger” before it can “pop out.”

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He wakes up most nights needing to go potty (which is better than wetting the bed!). Recently he stared waking up early if a light comes on, more than excited to sip hot drinks on the couch with Mommy. If it’s really cold he’ll snuggle under a blanket or pull on any hat he can find.

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His imagination takes pieces of life and applys them to play in all sorts of fun ways. Today he built this house out of “bricks” and was more than pleased when I couldn’t blow it down.

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Ivy: Cheerful, uninhibited, full of life and curiosity. She can’t run without skipping, loves to “cheese” for the camera, enjoys the games Lance makes up and can open the front door by herself. She’s potty trained except at night, has outgrown her brother and tries to take her shoes off everywhere we go. 

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Life is a game in which to play. Any new object entering her world is thoroughly examined and tested for the amount of entertainment it can provide. This cage gave mommy an entire morning off while the kids enjoyed its potential.

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A true middle child, she plays well with Lance yet also reaches out and loves on baby Flora. Here they play on a contraption that Lance built, informing me it was a hayride. They wanted me to ride and we stopped at McDonalds and three grocery stores – getting ice cream at each place!

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She’s rarely still except at night and when reading books. She and Lance will look at books for hours and anyone who will read to them is an instant friend!

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Never a dull moment when she’s awake. In one week she squeezed out glue on the couch, shampoo into a toilet, and suntan lotion on the porch. She has also spread toothpaste everywhere on three occasions, experimented with what makes an appropriate toilet and drooled an Easter egg dye tablet over her fresh new outfit and the carpet.

Ivy provided opportunity for me to teach the kids about prayer when she stuck an air soft pellet up her nose. We rejoiced together over answered prayer when it came out after much effort.

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And finally Flora! Not one to be left behind, Flora watches and imitates her siblings, trying to follow them everywhere. Once I took the older kids out to check the mail, leaving her in the house with Daddy. On returning I was informed that she burst into tears when the door shut behind us.

Compared to Ivy, who talks in paragraphs, Flora is totally non-verbal. At almost a year old she communicates her desires by pointing and soft grunts, delights with little cackles and injustices with tattling cries.

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She makes up for her reticence with mobility. We call her our roving toy distributer, often carrying an object in her mouth. She’s also a bit of a Momma’s girl.

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Flora’s a good eater. Around 10 months she refused to eat anything offered her by spoon so Brian tossed a green bean on her tray which she promptly ate by herself. Since then we just put things in front of her and let her deal with it. Her chair is next to Ivy’s (both strategically placed on a protective plastic mat) and has benefitted from Ivy’s generosity when Mommy isn’t looking – including an oreo cookie!

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Keeping these three constructively busy takes most of my time but we have fun, laugh lots and enjoy the memories we make along the way.

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