Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cookies and Christmas presents

It is a Shelton tradition to make and eat gingerbread cookies. It is one that I haven't picked up. The taste is okay. It is so much work to make and decorate them. This is only the third year (out of 8) that I have made a batch. 

I know Jared loves them. 

I thought the boys would enjoy icing them. 

And enjoy eating them. 

And I needed a dessert for ESL. 

I've been doing a lot of sewing recently, but they are all Christmas gifts. So, no craft Friday posts until I give them away.  I've finished 5/7 projects so far. The two biggest are about half finished. I have three other projects that I might work on if I have time. 

And I have finished all my Christmas shopping and started wrapping gifts!!! So exciting and less stressful. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

School happens

Today, as we were making gingerbread cookie dough, I heard, "Mom, look we can blow on this molasses and it gets wider." 

I looked over and the two boys are blowing their hearts out over a little drip of molasses. And yes, it was getting wider. I had let Martin pour the molasses and some of it had spilled on the counter. Baking with kids is messy and slow, but it keeps them busy and hopefully teaches them something. 

Perfect science lesson moment!! Let's study viscosity. I put some cookie dough on the counter and had them blow on it. It didn't move. Then we tried water and soup suds and discussed the differences in how they moved. 

"Mom, the soap really spreads out!!"

And then everything got mixed together and even the cookie dough moved when soap was under it (brief mention of friction thrown in). We didn't get to surface tension. Maybe next time. 

Wouldn't it be great if I could work the gospel into all our conversations as easily as science? That doesn't come as easily to me. However, the more I practice the better I become at weaving it into life. Having children has helped me practice  speaking about what I believe. It is easy to think about things in your head, but harder to explain them to others. There's my bit of encouragement to you. Keep practicing and it gets easier. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Table over the stairs

This is my sewing table. I love it!! Jared built it so I could lay quilting pieces out on it and other sewing projects, but I mostly use it to quilt now. Standing up and quilting is so much easier. :)

Jared built it a few years ago for me. It is right over the stairs. This space wasn't being used. It was just wasted space. I love finding areas in our house that aren't being used and can be put to use. This is one of my favorites. 

We usually only clean the attic space when Michelle comes to visit. :) It is a bit of a disaster up here right now.  Fabric has a way of multiplying and spreading out all over the place. Also, we store the Christmas gifts up here. Come January, this area will be so much more neat. 

*Thread rack - came from a church yard sale
*Little shelf that holds my big threads - Jared made in high school shop class
*Table - made by Jared

Friday, November 18, 2016

Heat transfer

Today's school lesson is on heat transfer and friction. We are testing how different materials react to energy being applied to them. 

Results: This metal handle gets quite warm. The wooden bunkbed ladder doesn't have a noticeable change. 

See. Science is so much easier for me than English. 


Martin is only three, which is too early for real schoolwork. However, I try to work learning activities into much of life. As we play outside we talk about the different trees and how the leaves change colors. We count the eggs that we find. The boys sort things as we play with them. They help me cook.  They play with bowls and cups and measure out pretend food. We count food as we eat it. When we read books we talk about the location of the book or different cars that we see. When a book mentions money we pull it out and I show them how different coins have different values (what does 50 cents look like in pennies, nickles, dimes, and quarters).  Recently, we started keeping a list of the animals that read about (Blueberries for Sal - Bear, Crow; Caps for Sale - monkeys; etc.). I am about to hang a map in the boys' room where we mark where each story takes place. 

We are a little math heavy. What do you expect from an engineer? But I do try to read at least 3 books a day, usually more (I'd say we hit 10-15 most days). We also talk about letters and the sounds they make as we read.  I found this great school curriculum that weaves learning activities into great children's books.  Here is a sample lesson that they provide.  It has inspired even more conversations and gives me more art and English ideas. It is kind of fun to read a book, purposely, every day for 5 days (or 8 days or 10 days...).  I am using both the Before Five in a Row and the Five in a Row books.  The Before ones are a little more basic, but they have great play activity ideas in the back.  I'll probably write more about them once we spend more time with them. 

Legos, Trios, Tinkertoys, and blocks can all be problem solving skills and basic math. Often we count the blocks or sort them in groups. Martin seems to like order and patterns, like me.  I think he is going to be my child that I relate to the most in schoolwork, but who knows, maybe I will have three little math brained children.  That would make my life easier. :)

(Big Ben by Jared - he is way better at building than I am)

We have a few mini Lego sets and Martin just loves putting them together over and over again. We pull them out once a week or so. He's learning how to follow instructions and match pictures and pieces. They also help build his little hand muscles. Mark down points for dexterity. Have you tried to put together the smallest Lego pieces?!?

While Martin works on something small, like Legos, I try to distract Warren. Today I asked him to carry all the reusable diapers from the drying rack to their room.  What would have taken me one trip took him about fifteen trips (and used up a lot of time).  I stuffed the diapers while he was running back and forth and then he put away the completed diapers.

Sometimes we let him help find pieces. He is getting really good at matching pieces to the pictures in the instructions. I am surprised how well he does. They both still need a little coaching and cheering. But we really like our Legos so far!!

And example of our "English" lesson.  B is for blueberries, bread, and butter.  See, I am very lazy on the whole English thing. I was just telling Jared how I don't really have any plans for English. It doesn't come naturally.  Math (and science) just work themselves into my every day conversations.  I have to work really hard at talking casually about letters and sounds and rules for reading.  Bleh. 

So, that is how we do "school" right now. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Overall Fix

I love overalls on little kids. I have them in almost every size from 12 months to 3T. In the smaller sizes I have them in various colors and fabrics (Jean and corduroy). 

Most of our pairs are either hand-me-downs or purchased second-hand. The overalls have plenty of life in them except for one problem, the snaps are worn out and pop open a lot. 

Problem solved. For about 20 cents I fixed each pair by adding extra snaps with my new snap tool.  I love how the red snaps turned out on this pair!!

These overalls aren't going to be busting open anytime soon. 

I skip closing the metal snaps when I use them. Otherwise, that would be way too many snaps to close each time I change a diaper. 

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Do something!

Charles Spurgeon:
I believe in eggs, but we must get chickens out of them... Brethren, do something; do something; do something. While committees waste their time over resolutions, do something. While societies and unions are making constitutions, let us win souls. Too often we discuss and discuss an discuss and Satan laughs in his sleeve. It is time we had done planning and sought something to plan. I pray you; be men of action, all of you. 

I am reading a book about partnering together with other believers in ministry. This quote stuck out to me. 

Monday, November 07, 2016

Thankful day 6-10

6. For sleep. When I'm pregnant I wake up four to five times a night to use the bathroom and often can't fall back asleep right away. I did a lot of middle of the night reading before James arrived. So life is great once the baby comes and I get 3-5 hours of sleep at a time!!  Sleep is gift from God and I am so grateful for every little bit I get. 

7. For health. Having three boys and a husband with colds is never fun, but it could be way worse. God has blessed us with good health and I try to take advantage of that. 
Yes, running ESL while being pregnant was hard and semi-directing while having mono and a newborn is exhausting, but it just makes me depend on God for the strength and staff. He always provides ad richly. I doubt it sometime, but He always provides. We had a missions conference speaker a few years ago that inspired me. He said:
God provides great energy to His people to do His work. 
I have found that to be incredibly true. Last year, I was exhausted and worn out every day while being pregnant, however, Thursday night's would roll around and I would feel good ( not always great, but way better than I had been feeling just hours before). God sustains. He provides. Blessed be His name. 
John Piper has a great quote that I try to remember while working in ministries: 
"It you are sufficient for your task then it is too small."
I want to use what little energy I have for his kingdom. It is hard some days, but it is worth it. 

8. For my chickens. They make me laugh. 

9. For beauty. I love the fall leaves and my summer flowers. Winter snows are spring rainy days are lovely. What a creative God we have. I am thankful the world isn't the same. It would be boring. But it is not. It is beautiful! 

10. For people that bring you meals when you are sick. :) I have a post about this almost written. So many people have blessed us with food while I have been sick. So many meals. So many loving friends stopping by to take care of my family. It is humbling. We feel so loved.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Quilt College BFF

Before James was born I started this quilt.  I actually have it ready to quilt, but I haven't taken a picture of it in that stage.  I wanted to quilt it before he was born, but my belly was in the way.  I couldn't get close enough to the machine to be able to quilt it well.  Now that James is 6 weeks and I will be cleared by the doctor to start doing things again, I can't wait to get back to making this.  Hopefully, pictures of the finished quilt will be posted in a few weeks!!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Thankful day 1 - 5

I am thankful for:
 ...Jared. He has taken such good care of me since James was born (and always). He cleans the house and washes clothes and changes diapers in the middle of the night so that I can rest. He makes me laugh and reminds me of what really matters. 

2. & 3. & 4. 
 ...these two squatters that found in the backyard today. I invited them in for dinner. :) We have so much fun together. I am so grateful that they are patience with me while I have to be paying attention to the baby and while I have been sick. They are so sweet and I love how they love each other. And I adore their imaginations!! 

We have such a great backyard (for the area we live in). I love my big tree in the middle of the yard and all the space we have to run around. It really isn't that much space, but it feels like it by the way it is laid out. I love it. Also, I love this cooler weather. Is that five? Oh well. 

...Sweet baby James. I don't really know him yet, but he seems to be a good fit and he is very sweet. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Warnie Turns Two

Yesterday, we celebrated this guy's birthday with a trip to the beach (our first of the year) and a stop by our favorite playground. 

Hello, ocean. You're not so bad when it is cooler and there are no people. :) What a lovely day. 

The baby didn't like nursing on the windy Boardwalk. He was probably sad he couldn't have popcorn. 

What a beautiful time of year. Fall is definitely my favorite time of year. 

It was wonderful to have Jared off work for the day. It is so much easier to take the boys places with an extra set of hands, especially these days since I am so exhausted. I told Jared that by lunchtime, most days, I feel like I've been played 55 minutes of a soccer game and there are 5 minutes left. You are sore and tired and just want to give up, but you also want to win. So you keep going. I just have to push through the last 5 minutes (afternoon) and then I'll win the game (get to go to bed). :) 

Happy Birthday, Warnie. We are glad we have you. We celebrated over the weekend with our families, but I forgot to take pictures. Everyone had a great time. And Warren loves all his new presents. They are especially useful in distracting the boys while I rest. We are so loved by our family.