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Daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend. Living each day to the fullest. I know God has a plan for me, if I could just see it all through His eyes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mirror Symmetry

Today we worked on mirror symmetry. A very basic concept. To keep mess at a minimum we just used crayons to decorate on side of the paper, folded it over, rubbed the living daylights out of it, and VOILA! The image transferred to the other side, mirroring the original design. The little ones put a lot of color on their pages and it was hard to see the exact designs they had made but they got the idea. Once again, personality shines through the art of the individual. We also talked about symmetry of balance but did not do any particular project for it.

Next week: Basic Shapes

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This little piggy went to the butcher.....

One BIG piggy wrecked havoc upon our yard last night!
Last night, Mike went out to burn garbage and saw our neighbors HUGE pig in our yard. So we all went out to see it. At the time the beast was only eating the grass around the porch which sounded so disgusting. Mike called the neighbor and they came down to get the pig but the pig ran off into the woods and since it was dark, Mike told them not to worry about it.

"We don't want it rootin' up your yard" says the neighbor.

"Don't worry about it," says my city-raised husband.

"Pigs can rip up the yard pretty good," I tell him.

This morning, we all left while it was still dark. I came home after a relaxing swim and a physical therapy appointment.


I wish I had a picture of the ugly hog that destroyed our yard. Alas, much to my pleasure, said hog is being butchered today.

One day too late, if you ask me!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Autumn Leaf Sun Catchers

Busy, being artistic!
The kids at the Lighthouse Academy enjoyed making their Autumn Leaf suncatchers this past week. They all worked so hard and the suncatchers are beautiful.

Sandile and Annalynn working quietly

Each child had a piece of clear contact paper on which they arranged the pieces of precut tissue
paper. When all the sticky spots were covered, they used watered down glue to "decoupage" the tissue paper.

I try to come up with projects that will interest the broad age range in our class. The older kids seemed to enjoy making the suncatchers as much as the little ones.

I showed the kids an example of my own. I used black construction paper to create a leaf-shaped "frame". The frame is glued down over the tissue paper and cut around when dry.

Malachi and Carol

Each child could make any kind of "frame" they wanted. So we have some Autumn Hearts and an Autumn Flower.

Taryn and Leslie did an awesome job filling up all the sticky spots!
When they were all finished, we punched holes and strung ribbon through them to hang in the window.

Mimi hard at work
I didn't get any pictures of the finished projects but IF I actually remember to bring my camera next week I will take a picture of the suncatchers they have hung up at their home.
Next project: Foamies Shape Pictures

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What Will Happen With a Gluten-Free Diet....

If you're truly gluten-intolerant it will make you feel 100% better!

I've recently began to eliminate gluten from my diet. This is my 2nd go-round. Back in January I'd been suffering with pain in my stomach, bathroom issues, bloating..... and I could not figure it out. Not until I friend with gluten-intolerance began to tell me about her symptoms. So I cut gluten from my diet. Within a week my symptoms began to clear up. I stayed off gluten for over a month and it made a HUGE difference.

It will make you hungry!

When I first started cutting the gluten from my diet, I was so stinkin' hungry. Do you realize what all has gluten in it? Everything good! Not really...but so many foods are made from grass grains like wheat and rye. Flour is used in most food items that need thickener...like cream soups. And cream soups are a staple of my home....I use them in EVERYTHING--almost.

It took a little while to figure out what I could and couldn't eat and to find substitutes. Gluten-free breads, crackers and bakery items are EXPENSIVE! But if you're the only one eating them, take the splurge....or you'll starve!

You'll be reminded that there is a reason you are on this diet.

Then this past spring I started to have lots of joint pain. Now remember, I started incorporating gluten into my diet again.... I didn't have the initial symptoms so I figured I was okay. Then a friend looked up info about joint pain and saw that many gluten-intolerant people have issues with their joints. So guess what.....I've once again cut gluten from my diet. And I'm hungry again. Because to tell the truth, when I open the fridge, nothing looks better than that gluten-filled brownie or the left over spaghetti.... Or I go to the cupboard and graham crackers are calling my name.

You will become culinarily creative (is culinarily a word?)

I told you all the above just to tell you about my new recipe! And to be honest, it didn't strike me as sounding too appetizing to begin with. I don't even know what to call it....ummmm, hamburger rice casserole or something similarly unoriginal.

3 cups rice, uncooked
1.5 lbs ground beef
1 med onion, chopped
salt, pepper, garlic to taste
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes with chilies
3 cubes beef bouillon
8 oz shredded cheddar or cojack cheese

Cook rice until just UNDER done. Spread in large casserole dish. Meanwhile, brown beef , onion, and seasonings. Add tomatoes and bouillon to to browned beef and cook until hot. Pour over rice in casserole and mix. Top with shredded cheese and bake in 350* oven 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

My son, Samuel, likes it with Red Hot sauce. And it is quite good that way. He enjoyed the casserole so much, he took leftovers to school today. My husband liked it too. And that made me feel real good!

Notice: I have not had gluten-intolerance confirmed by a doctor and I do not claim to know much at all about it....just that eliminating it from my diet made ME feel much better.

Enjoy the recipe!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Welcome to Art 2010!

Wow! A whole new school year. That means a whole new year of ART! Woot!

So to start off this year with kids at the Lighthouse Academy we did self-portraits. I didn't put any restrictions on what they could or couldn't do. I just asked them to draw a picture of themselves and to pay close attention to details.
What kind of details?

Well, how about eyelashes, eyebrows and even noses? Those are a few things often forgotten on childrens' drawings of themselves. A few more are necks (yes, we all have a neck. Our head does not just sit on top our shoulders. Who knew?), freckles and eyewear.

So here is a collection of the kids' art work from September 13, 2010.

It will be fun to see how the kids grow in their artistic capabilities and creativity.
Follow along with us over the course of this new school year and let us know what you think.
Coming up next week in art: Fall Leaf Suncatchers

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Twice In One Week--Mark It On The Calendar!

Happy May everyone! Bright and early (7am) this morning, stepped out on our porch to allow Zoey some "privacy" and saw sun through the mist in the trees. It was so beautiful and peaceful and I thought "that would make a good picture". Then I thought, "Oh, duh, go get YOUR camera!"

To tell you the truth, I still don't really understand the thing. I don't ever have enough uninterrupted time to really get to know how to use each capability. So I just play. Please feel free to give me pointers.

I played with this picture on Picasa. First I flooded it with light. Then I sharpened it to the max and add 2 shades of gradient color to the sky to contrast with the trees...otherwise they get kind of lost. I like really stark pictures so this is my favorite. A bit eerie but the blue adds a dimension of reality. Funny how something fake can make your photo look real.

I wanted to get something that was the most like what I was seeing with the naked eye. And though this is darker than it actually was--a bit more dusk than dawn looking--I think it's better than the one just before it that is TOO light. The sunlight in it is warmer and more invigorating...but the mist in the trees in this last one really shows up nice.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Decorating for the Kids

Sorry. My pictures are in no particular order because I am having trouble moving them.
If it bothers you, let me know. And then maybe you can help me figure this out. =)

Welcome to my Sunday School class. We are the 3 - 9 year olds at this particular time. If you come back in a year I may have room for 10 year olds because I have a hard time letting go of my own children.

Meet Bumble Bee-liever. I made her. She is my bee puppet. The kids absolutely love her!
This is her hive.

The wood fence was a roll of $7 paper from Michael's. The sky is plastic table clothes from The Dollar Tree and the grass is green tissue paper (I couldn't find any green plastic).

Though I may have many artistic skills, it's so much faster to use the overheads provided. Here are my "Plan of Salvation" billboards.

Very PASTORAL. Cow in the field, big fluffy clouds. Soothing scenes should foster peace and harmony in the classroom. Or not. We have a very busy room. The kids keep me on my toes!

Our Memory Verse garden. Each child puts a bug sticker on his/her flower each time they say their verses. Leaves are 3-D.

As you enter the classroom, you pass through a crepe paper archway. It drew the kids right in the first time I put it up. Definitely an invitation into a fun classroom.
I believe a classroom should be engaging. Each item ties into the lessons...even the 3 spiders hiding on their webs. Did you see the two in the pictures?
Besides the table, I also have a rug for the kids to sit on when I'm telling the week's Bible story. I find it's easier to have two areas to work in. Kids in this age group are not going to want to sit at a table for a whole hour. They squirm, tear at the table cloth, get up, lose interest. Being able to spread out or lay down gives them an outlet. I also try to incorporate a time to sing and move around....get all the wiggles out! This isn't always the case and I'm working on that.

We will be changing our set-up here shortly. I can't say a whole lot about it right now....just that our theme is going to be "Crime Stoppers". Our lessons are based on the commandments. The decorations should be great. I can't wait to see how it will all come together.
PS. We hung bee cutouts for attendance each week...so now the walls are covered with bees. =)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Visit to Elgin

I recently went Illinois to visit my sister Kim. It was a spur of the moment trip. I decided she needed me. So I told Mike, I made arrangements for the boys, and I was off. Maybe not quite that quick, or that easy, but I was able to go.

I left home later than expected but made good time on my 8 hour trip, pulling into Kim's drive even before they got back from Abbi's skate practice.

I had so much fun with my sister and her three beautiful girls. Sorry, but I did not get any pictures of Millie this time around. She was tucked warmly in her stroller when I had my camera out and I decided she was happy to be out of the limelight this time around.

While in Elgin, Kim took me to a few stores that I don't get to very often since we don't have them out in the boondocks of the Upper Peninsula. We trolled the aisles of two party stores, looking for brown crepe paper. One of them carried it but did not have it in stock. I was sorely disappointed. But I did buy spider web stuff and some bugs. Oh, yeah, and these wall hangings that look like barn doors. I'll be decorating my Sunday School class with my treasures.

Not only can Kim snap some awesome photos but she can COOK! I take much pride in my own abilities to make mouths water so believe me when I say, she impressed me with every meal. Yum, yum, yum. I did gain a few pounds over the weekend. She even made concessions for my gluten intolerance. Her homemade meatballs are divine and her lemon chicken was oh. so. scrumptious!

On Sunday morning I had plans to visit the Bartlett United Pentecostal Church pastored by Jack Yonts, Sr. I had invited Kim to attend with me but she already had a photo session planned for that morning. Since the photo shoot started before I left I was able to peek in and see all the fun her 2 year old subject was having as her 3rd Birthday photos were being taken--giant cupcake included. I'm not a BIG CITY driver but I was able to successfully drive myself to the church after a brief glance on MapQuest. Church was enjoyable--the worship was anointed and the preaching was the old-time Pentecostal preaching I remember hearing as a child.

Monday, Kim had plans to volunteer in Abbi's preschool classroom so I checked out Elgin's magnificent
Gail Borden Public Library. Add it to your next "place to stop while on vacation". There is SO much to do there. And all I did in a 2 hour period was check out the kids' movies for my nieces, learn how to use the self-check out scanners, visit the Youth and Kids' Centers and stop by the cafe so Lexi and Millie could have a snack. After a quick lunch, Kim and I headed to downtown Elgin to scout for locations for photoshoots. Kim, an up and coming photographer, reminded me to bring my new digital SLR so we could play if the weather worked for us. We were hoping for a fairer day but had to take what we could get. I still can't understand everything about my camera but I'm working on it.

It was so hard to leave Tuesday morning. Visits with my sister are few and far between because of the miles between us. And I love to see how the girls are growing and changing. I can't wait for another chance to visit with them.

The drive back was uneventful....the weather was decent. I did end up driving in the dark and about 45 minutes from home I just could not keep my eyes open any longer! I ended up pulling over and resting my eyes for a few moments.

There's just something about pulling back into your own driveway after a time away. Though the trip was so fun and enjoyable, I missed my home and my men!!!

Thanks for the great time Kim! Can't wait to do it again.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I've Got Sunshine!


My little man is now 11 years old.
How time flies.

For his birthday party, we rented the Covington Twp Hall at the Ski Hill and had Jack's pizzas, chips, fruit, cake, pop and sledding. Eli shares his birth date with our friend Nan so we decided to surprise her and invited everyone from church to the party and celebrated the two birthdays together. She was very surprised....never suspected a thing!

It was definitely a day to remember. I had taken the day off from BHK so I could get stuff done that morning but still had to teach art up in Hancock. Ended up running late ALL day. I had made plans to pick Eli's friends up and since we were running late parents were calling wondering what was up. So I was stressing and had trouble finding one kid's home. I finally figured out where I was going and as I'm just about to the turn off to his house some dogs ran out in front of me. Not wanting to tramatize myself or the kids by hitting a pack of dogs I braked hard and lost control of the van on the slippery back road. We fishtailed for a bit then spun off into the tree line. Thankfully, we missed a stand of pine trees and just buried the van up to the front doors in the ditch. Yah! NOT. I was distraught. And that is a HUGE understatement. We did get lots of help. Thank you to the strangers that dug us out and Mr. Toumi for pulling us out. I was now running VERY late. I tearfully called Nan's mom to ask if she'd pick up a cake for Eli since I would now not have time to decorate one myself. And then we were on our way. We ended up being an hour late to the hall and unable to preset or decorate anything. We had to come up with a way to surprise Nan now that she was already there and we did pull it off pretty well. The boys didn't care that we were late or about the spin out and didn't have a clue as to why I was so stressed. All the kids LOVED the sledding -- we had a hard time getting them to come in for pizza, cake or icecream. The parents had a good time as well but I ended the evening in tears with a blistering headache. Then it was back home with four extra kids to spend the night. They were well behaved and had a great time but at 12:40 in the morning I finally begged Mike to make them be quiet so I could go to sleep.

So Eli had a great party and a fun story to tell about his mom putting the van in the ditch, again.

It's hard to think of Eli as 11. Yesterday I picked him up early from school. He went to the eye doctor with me for my appointment. Then I took him to his Well Child appointment with his doctor. He was being so silly and goofy all afternoon but we had a great time. I felt bad that he was bored out of his mind at the Vision Clinic but he behaved himself and I was so proud to admit he was mine! The doctor's office was a whole other story though. He kept up his silliness and you know how you can just tell when people are infuriated with something but trying to be patient...that was our doctor yesterday. Eli would not answer any questions directly and I was getting upset and the doctor kept sighing. Not rude but real quiet and I give him kudos. I was ready to rip my hair out and just leave! Or insist on the shots that Eli really doesn't need until next year. But we made it through maintaining our cool and our smiles.

Eli is fun to be with. We raced to the car each time we left a place yesterday and he has such a great imagination. But that imagination gets him in trouble sometimes. He tends to exaggerate and embellish and sometimes just plain fib about things he's done. His smile and giggle make me smile even when I'm impatient with him--a common occurance in the morning as I'm trying to get him up and ready for school. Though he's a normal child and gets into his share of trouble he admits his faults readily and is quick to straighten up his act when in hot water. He's my outdoorsman. Eli loves camo and binoculars, bb guns and spends countless hours playing "hunter" or "soldier". Eli is also sensitive, loving and friendly. He can play quietly by himself or spend an afternoon reading or doing puzzles.

I'm really proud of Eli. He spent two years in the 3rd grade so that he wouldn't fall behind as he got older and this year in 4th grade he is maintaining a C+ average. He hasn't fallen in love with school but he's taking it more seriously.

My little man is definitely growing up. But we're not rushing him. He still plays "Tickle Monster" and asks for hugs and kisses. How long can this last? I cherish every one!

Eli is my Sunshine!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year! 2010

Hello and Happy New Year 2010!
First, an apology: It has been 5 months since my last post. Shame on me.
So here is a quick recap of the last months of 2009:
I am working 2 jobs within the same company. I am now a lunch aid at Head Start and I am a GE (Great Explorations) Instructor after school. I find both jobs rewarding as I'm working with kids all day--ages 3-11.
Mike has finished up his first semester of the nursing program at Finlandia on the Dean's List. Woot! Woot! Mike. Way to go!
Our Grand Caravan has seen 200,000 miles and she's still going. Hallelujah!
God blesses us greatly this holiday season. Thanks to all the secret givers. Your generosity is appreciated so, so much!
The boys are growing like weeds. I miss them as little boys but I'm so excited to see what they will become as young men.
(Michael - almost 13)

(Samuel - almost 9)

(Eli - almost 11)

(Riley - 5 1/2)

I haven't been cooking very many home cooked meals the past four months. By the time I get home at 6:30pm it is hard to get anything on the table before 7:00 and I'm always forgetting to thaw something before hand. I'm sure my husband and boys have enjoyed all the pizza and fast food but I feel SO guilty. So while on vacation I've tried to make some good meals to remind them what I'm capable of making.

Last night we went to a New Year's Eve party at my pastor's home and we all brought ethnic dishes from our heritage. I made sauerkraut and sausage since I'm German and it is easy to do. But I really wanted to make something else. So in researching my heritage I found something that spanned the Irish, German, Russian, Swede and Jew in me:

Potato Pancakes!

I didn't get them made for last night but the boys and I enjoyed them for dinner tonight. I served them with sugar, syrup or apple jelly. My favorite was the apple jelly. Samuel and Riley doubled up and used sugar and syrup (ewww!) and Eli ate them plain. I remember eating these as kids and they are just as good today as back then. Yum-O!

So the last thing I want to catch up on is my book list. I've updated, though not in time to qualify for my challenge.....I didn't make it anyway. But I was a reading fiend this past year and I've decided that no one with four kids needs to read 100 books to have a fulfilled life. I did find some new authors that I'm interested in exploring further and I've weeded out a few that I'm not really interested in. I've read children's books, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (2 thumbs up!); the rave of the moment, The Twilight Series (great story, writing could be better); mysteries, Easy to Kill (Agatha is still a favorite!), and classics, The Chronicles of Narnia (I could read these over and over!). Check out my list on the left--see one you'd like to know more about, just ask.

Happy 2010

Life is what you make it!