29 July 2011

Layout of My Preschool Classroom

I've been doing a lot of research to figure out how to turn our playroom/reading room area into a classroom.  Since I taught Pre-K for a year before I taught Elementary School I remember how the room was set up and what centers we had to engage the children.

I understand that my entire home can be used as a "classroom" of sorts, and even my backyard as a recess area, but I really wanted to have a School Room feel in one general area.  After reading this article I learned about the 7 basic centers, which are: art, blocks, dramatic play, science, library, manipulative, and music.

I used our Reading Room Space, (we've always called this room the reading room because before we had kids we knew we wanted a room with lots of book shelves, floor space for puzzles and no t.v. so we could just have a family room to read and relax and play in together.)  Our extra room is to the right of my kitchen and was an add on by the original owners who had 3 kids.  It's a great room because while I'm cooking or cleaning I can see everything they are doing.

I will post pictures as soon as I put the final finishing touches on the whole area.  I still need a small rug for my library center and I'm thinking of purchasing some bean bags for the kids to sit on.

So far I have an Art center with table and chairs set up over a small rug near my bulletin board and calendar area.  The kids can do their Art, Blocks and Manipulatives here because I placed all their blocks, puzzles, paper, crayons, and lacing toys in crates at the bottom of the book shelf.

I also have a Dramatic Play area with our Kid's Kitchen and all the pretend food and dishes.  The crates are on the other book shelf at the bottom so they can easily reach and clean up when finished.  I'd like to add a treasure chest with dress up clothes and shoes to this area.

I have a Library Center (which I call our Book Nook) with a mini book shelf my mother in law bought Julia, two kid chairs, and two buckets of books which are the kids favorites at the time.  I still want to add a soft rug and maybe bean bags if I can find them cheap somewhere.  I researched play mats at Ikea.  Click here to see one I found for only $24.99. 

I found a cute rainbow bean bag for only $34.99...still want to see if I can find it a bit cheaper...

I would like to create a Music center but I think I can do that in our living room where our easel is where we do our Morning Meeting and Circle Time.  All I need for that is a crate for all of our CDs and Mark's mini CD player.

Our Science Center will be outside where we can play with water, bugs, sticks, dirt, our garden, etc.

I'm getting all of this in order now because after our Cape May vacation we will be doing a more scheduled school time, right now we have been doing bits and pieces of curriculum, but once we get back it's business as usual!

That's the layout of my preschool classroom so far!  We were also excited to pick up Julia's Library winnings this Tuesday at the Matawan Library.  She won the summer reading raffle this week!  We got four free books and we've been loving reading them during the day and at bed time..."We're Going on a Lion Hunt" is our favorite!

Have a great weekend!

28 July 2011

Blog Hop #10

It's Time to Mingle!

Hosted by All About Being Inspired, Happy Go Lucky, Joy in the Jumble and Keeping Up With Kristi.
Each week we will choose one blog at random to spotlight at the next week's blog hop.

This weeks guest host is:
There are no rules to this blog hop.  Just link up your blog's main page.  Then have fun reading new blogs and making new blog friends.  We would love for you to follow the hostesses in the first four spots and our guest host in the fifth spot.   We always follow back!!

Grab our button if you want to share our blog hop with others.  There will be a new list every Thursday, so be sure to come back every week.

We hope you have fun and thanks for joining us!  We are so excited to find new blogs, share great ideas, and inspire each other.

I've Noticed

I've noticed how long your hair has gotten, and just how grown you are starting to look.

I've noticed how you like to wear certain sandals with certain dresses.

I've noticed how nail polish looks great on your toes and long fingers.

I've noticed how everyone is your "best friend," and your favorite daughter.

I've noticed how hard you have been working.

I've noticed the nights you came home late and went to work early.

I've noticed there weren't enough hugs or kisses to go around when you finally got home.

I've noticed that the kids miss you and can now express their feelings to you.

I've noticed how handsome you've become.

I've noticed how you are starting to memorize books and movies.

I've noticed how you are standing up for your opinions.

I've noticed how you like to try the same things Julia does, even if that means wearing click clack shoes and head bands.

I've noticed how you are starting to look more and more like Daddy.

I've noticed that your body is almost the full length of your crib.

I've noticed how you initiate potty training.

I've noticed that Mommy is still your Best Girl.

I've noticed how you hold my hand when we cross the street and encourage your brother to obey the rules.

I've noticed that you two are best friends, and are quite funny together.  I've noticed that when Julia is at gymnastics you miss her as I much as I do.

I've noticed that being a stay at home Mom has been harder than any full time Teaching job.  I've noticed that there's no other place I'd rather be than with my kids.

Babe, I've noticed how lucky we are...have you?

27 July 2011

What Goes Around Comes Around

Esther Chapter 6

Last week's post: Her timing...Her Poise...Her patience...

Have you ever wondered if God was just?  If God was fair?  If God truly has the best intentions for His people?  Well after reading this chapter you won't have to wonder, you will know without a shadow of a doubt that God takes care of His people, He is just, and He is fair.  How often do we see people who seem to "have it all" and others who barely have anything, and we think, it's just not fair? 

How often do we see evil men prosper and the good man doing the best that he can still struggling.  Sometimes it is downright discouraging, BUT, there is always a but...with God ALL things are possible, and with God He makes sure even though life doesn't seem fair, or that the good people suffer and get slighted, God always sees our efforts and God has a superior plan than we could ever imagine.

Here in the previous chapter, Esther used her wisdom and excellent timing and invited the King and Haman to two banquets.  She needs to tell the King about Haman's evil plot to destroy the Jews but she has held her tongue and is being patient for this final banquet to share her knowledge of Haman's plans...but good thing she waited, because during her good timing, Haman had gallows made (his wife suggested he build gallows to hang Mordecai) and during the lapse of time and the beginning of Chapter 6 the King can't sleep...what a coincidence the night before the banquet he can't sleep!  Coincidence,...or God's perfect plan?

Since he couldn't sleep he has the records of the chronicles read to him and he found out written there that Mordecai had saved his life...

verse 3 Then the King said, "What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?"
And then just at that very moment guess who just so happened to be walking in the courtyard...Coincidence, or God's perfect plan?

verse 4 So the king said, " Who is in the court?" Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king's palace to suggest that the king hang Mordecai on the gallows that he prepared for him.

Coincidence, or God's perfect plan?

verse 6 So Haman came in and the king asked him, "What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?  Now Haman thought in his heart, "Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?"
Coincidence, or God's perfect plan?

verse 7-9 And Haman answered the king, "For the man whom the king delights to honor, let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal crest placed on its head.  Then let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor.  Then parade him on horseback through the city square and proclaim before him: "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!"

Oh Haman's pride is so great and so big, and he thinks this is all going to be done to him so he is milking this honor thing for all it's worth...oh, pride comes before the fall...Coincidence, or God's perfect plan?

verse 10 Then the king said to Haman, "Hurry, take the robe and the horse, as you have suggested, and do so for Mordecai the Jew who sits within the king's gate! Leave nothing undone of all that you have spoken."

Oh to have been a fly on the wall at that moment and to have seen Haman's face.  I bet his jaw dropped and beads of sweat began to form on his brow.  His enemy...the Jew...Mordecai...and what did the king just say..."Good idea Haman, let's do what you have suggested!  Don't leave anything out that you just said.  Great idea!  What a great way to honor Mordecai!"

Coincidence, or God's perfect plan?

How often do we forget that the battle is the Lord's?  We forget that God has the last say!  We forget that all the things that have been done to us that were wrong were not overlooked.  God loves us.  Justice is mine, says the Lord.  God has a perfect plan.

The rest of the chapter Haman has to honor Mordecai.  Mordecai, the Jew whom he despises.  Mordecai, the Jew that did nothing wrong to him, but saw through him, and would not bow down to him. 

in verse 12 it says that Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered...and in verse 14 while they were still talking with him, the king's eunchs came, and hastened to bring Haman to the banquet which Esther had prepared...

Was it a good thing Esther waited?  Was God's timing perfect?  Do you see God's plan unfolding...?  Be patient, dear one, there is more next week when we read Chapter 7!!!

26 July 2011

Bringing Up Boys

Raising boys is so very different from raising our daughters.

Each day I see things that Mark does and says that is something new and unexpected and different from my Julia!

It is really exciting have a son and a daughter and we are loving the differences.

Many of our Christian friends have suggest reading Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson, for John and I to read.  John has read a 1/3 of it already (he's beating me! he's so fast) and so we really want to both read it together and share with you what God is teaching us through the book.  John has even said he will blog with me and be a guest writer from time to time about it!  If you have never heard of the book or heard of James Dobson you are in for a treat!  Feel free to get the book and read along right with us!  Next Tuesday will be our first look at Chapter 1!

25 July 2011

Family Prayer Time

God has been so good to us.  He continues to provide for us and encourage us and He places just the right people in our life at just the right time.

And His plan for our lives is always perfect.  Even when we may wonder or ask, "Lord, what are you doing here...this isn't how I would have planned for things to go..." We can still trust His infinite wisdom, because He truly does love us.  And He truly knows what is best for us.

I wanted to share something that my family and my extended family are doing.  It has been a huge blessing and has really encouraged me and drawn me closer to the people I love.  We have a set time of prayer each day where we pray specifically for each other. 

It was an idea that John, my hubby, came up with on Christmas day as we were enjoying our family time with my parents and sisters.  We went around the room and shared prayer requests and our hopes and concerns for the upcoming year...and since then all of our prayer requests have been answered and God is continuing to move!!! It is so neat.

My two sisters and I have gotten closer, we text more, we talk more, and we know each other more intimately.  My parents and I are more open with each other and our relationship has deepened.  And John and I are still amazed at how God's perfect plan continues to unfold right before our eyes.

1:00 everyday is our prayer time.  My phone even reminds me by the alarm goes off with the sound of church bells.  I turn off the alarm and pray for my family and I even text them at the time for updated prayer requests.  It's really wonderful to know you are being prayed for and you have prayer support.

It does take extra time and discipline, but prayer is so important!  It's not something I will skip over!

24 July 2011

Easy Meal Planning Ideas

One thing I love about being a Mom is feeding my family!  I love being able to cook for them and see them enjoy what I made and say, "Good job Mommy, this is GOOD!" Or as Grandma Judy would say, "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mm Mm!"

But I don't like feeling overwhelmed with what to cook, and I don't like last minute shopping, and I don't like tripping over children as I cook.  So to avoid an unorganized home, and find a way to plan and prep my meals before dinner time I plan my meals a few months in advance.  This past week I planned our September meals and I found a way to have more of a healthy balance between chicken meals, fish meals, pasta meals, beef meals, crock pot meals, and left over night. 

I printed out a September calendar with boxes.  Click here for a printout.  Over each day of the week at the top I chose a specific category so that I could spread out the different types of meals: Over Sunday I put Leftovers Night, Monday: Chicken Meal, Tuesday: Fish/salad meal, Wednesday: Pasta Meal, Thursday: Beef, Friday: Crock Pot, Saturday: Pasta Meal

I don't know about you but we could eat pasta and chicken every night of the week.  With this new plan I felt like I was able to find more of a well balanced diet plan.  I also like to have a leftover night on the weekend because it helps clear out the fridge for Mondays Grocery Shopping Day...and I'm really leaning towards only shopping twice a month and maybe even willing to try once a month shopping to cut down on trips and save more money...it takes a lot of planning but in the Fall I just might try it!

After I labeled the top and decided what night was which, I made a new binder:  This binder had the same headings: Chicken Meals, Fish Meals, Salad Meals, Pasta Meals, Beef Meals, and Crock Pot Meals,  Then I went through magazines and my own recipe box and arranged it so that I had a selection to choose from.  And then I began plugging in my meals!  Some meals were fancy, some meals were our favorites, and some meals were new.

I noticed I needed more Fish and Salad recipes, and now I can do more research on supercook.com, or I can look in magazines specifically for the types of meals we lack.  I don't want my kids to have a lot of processed meals, I like to have as few ingredients as possible, and lots of flavor, and I want my family to feel full.

I'm noticing the more times I cook new things I am surprised at how my family's taste buds are changing and they are willing to try new things and I can make a mental note of what meals worked well, if they lasted more than one night, and what meals flopped or took to long to cook.  It's all trial by error.

September's Meals Will Be:

1-Wild Mushroom Beef Stew
2- Beef stew with white rice
3-Pasta Fagioli
4-Labor Day Weekend with Weavers
5-Labor Day Weekend with Weavers
6-Strawberry Spinach Salad
7-Pasta Salad with Feta
8-Pork Roast
9-Pork Roast with veggies and rice
10-Wedding at Grand Marquis
11-Spaghetti--Real Simple p. 256
12-Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese and raw veggies
13-Salmon with Green Beans and Corn
14-Noodles and Pesto Sauce
15-Shepherd's Pie
16-Shepherd's Pie with Corn Bread
17-Baked Ziti
18-Baked Ziti with salad and italian bread
19-Chicken Pot Pie
20-Shrimp and Rice
21-Macaroni and Cheese and Green beans
22-Chili with white rice
23-Chili with corn bread
24-whole wheat pasta w/white beans and spinach
25-whole wheat pasta w/white beans and spinach
26-Cider glazed chicken
27-Salmon with brown rice and steamed broccoli
28-Linguine with clam sauce
29-Pot Roast with potatoes and carrots
30-Pot Roast with potatoes and carrots

Please feel free to use my ideas, share them, or give me suggestions!  I love hearing from you.  Remember you are all Pros of your own home and kitchen, you know what system works best for you, and you know what foods your family loves, make a system and a meal plan that meets YOUR needs! 

Happy Homemaking!

22 July 2011

Art Class

Last week I took pictures during our Art Class.  I was amazed at how good the kids were during painting on the easel.  But I have found whenever we do something artsy and out of the ordinary they are so into it that their behavior is very good!  And both of my kids love love love to paint. 

To get ready for our painting adventure I had to cover our easel with newspaper.  I didn't want any paint droppings on my white board or the chalk board so I covered and taped the newspaper all around.

Then I taped plain white paper in the middle for them to paint on.  I gave each side two sheets at a time.

I put an apron on each little person and filled up small bowls full of the colors of their choice.

Everyone got a paintbrush and everyone got a water bowl to clean off their paintbrush. 

At this point I got my twitch worrying about how messy they would be...but they did not make a mess at all!

I placed each child on their side and set them up and they went to paint town!

And my were they creative and proud of their work!

After we did a few sheets of blank paper we went to coloring pages so they could paint inside the lines.  This worked even better. 

Mark is working on naming his colors so he was given color pages and he had to use certain colors.  Blue for bird and red for apple, etc.

I gave Julia a teddy bear to color in.  She dedicated it to our friend Alice, she was in Alice's wedding as a flower girl so they have a special bond.

I can't tell you how proud I was of these two kiddos!  They did great and I didn't get any gray hair and my twitch went away, just kidding I never got a twitch...  I just have an issue with neatness and messes.  Hence why we do craft time only once a week!

Great job Mark and Julia!  We love painting!  And I love your art work.  I asked Mark, who do you dedicate your picture to...and he said........ "MOMMY!"

Next week during art class we are going to decorate snacks!  I learned a lot of good ideas from Vacation Bible School!

Have a great weekend!!! We have two birthday parties to go to!!!!!!!!!

21 July 2011

Above and Beyond

On Sunday, Christy and I planned a playdate with our families at her place!  It was awesome!  Christy and Mike have this amazing pool and their is a whole side for kids which is like one huge bath tub.  You feel totally safe with your kids playing in it and the kids love the freedom of being tall enough to walk in the pool!

I told John he was only allowed to take pictures of me in my bathing suit when he warned me so I could suck in my tummy!  He obeyed :)

Christy and Mike went above and beyond in planning the day and dinner for us.  We got there around 3:15 and were able to open presents, see Lizzy's room, lather sun block on, and then head to the pool.

Christy and I got to play in the pool with the kids and the men got to grill for the ladies!

Christy and Mike made this incredible spread with a green salad, and bean salad, Steak and Chicken Kabobs, a fruit salad, rice, oh my word, it all tasted so good!

It was really neat to play with the kids in the pool.  I was amazed that Lizzy could hold her own at only 9 months old walking all around with her tube and chasing after the beach balls and the kids...ummmm, who told her she could grow up????

Julia and Mark adore Lizzy and love on her constantly.  They just think she is the "bees knees!"

And I call Mike the baby whisperer because all kids love him.  He is so kind and patient and kids just want to be near him.

And Julia is my fish...she loves the water and never wants to eat or go to the bathroom.  She could hold it forever just so she has more time to swim and play.

I took a picture of the two daddy's near the grill, chatting it up and having male bonding time!

Oh, I forgot to mention the amazing hummus and veggie snack Christy had made for us.  My kids loved it!  They love anything to dip!  Isn't it great to have friends who go above and beyond for you?  We love you Aunt Christy and Uncle Mike!  Thank You!

When can we come over again???

With Love,
Kristi, John, Julia and Mark

Blog Hop #9

It's Time to Mingle!

Hosted by All About Being Inspired, Happy Go Lucky, Joy in the Jumble and Keeping Up With Kristi Each week we will choose one blog at random to spotlight at the next week's blog hop.

This weeks guest host and winner of last week's giveaway is:
Beaded Embellishments
There are no rules to this blog hop.  Just link up your blog's main page.  Then have fun reading new blogs and making new blog friends.  We would love for you to follow the hostesses in the first four spots and our guest host in the fifth spot.   We always follow back!!
Grab our button if you want to share our blog hop with others.  There will be a new list every Thursday, so be sure to come back every week.

We hope you have fun and thanks for joining us!  We are so excited to find new blogs, share great ideas, and inspire each other.

20 July 2011

Her timing...Her poise...Her patience

Esther Chapter 5

Click here for Intro-God's Promises and Reminders
Click here for Chapter 1-She Said No!
Click here for Chapter 2-Beauty is Power
Click here for Chapter 3- The plot thickens
Click here for Chapter 4-Real Men Do Cry

I really love this chapter because Esther was a far better woman than I am!  She had such great timing, poise, and grace in this chapter, and all the glory goes to the Lord.  She was in a tough position.  She was now Queen, but she needed to go speak to the King and disclose important information about his high power man Haman, and share about how her Jewish people were about to be slaughtered by a recent decree the King just signed.  In that culture the Queen was not allowed to just go to the King.  You had to be summoned, or you could be killed.

Esther now has to find a way to tell the King the truth and by doing so is risking her life and the life of her people...can I say S T R E S S E D?

What would you have done?

* Hid
* Kept quiet
* Prayed someone else would deliver the Jewish people

Mordecai, Esther's uncle, and surrogate father, let her know that God allowed her to be Queen for a reason, and that if she were to keep quiet at a time like this, someone else would be raised to do her job.  I like Mordecai.  He spoke the truth in love to her.

How much easier would it have been to sit back and keep quiet and just pray someone else would be brave enough to do something this bold, something only you were destined to do?

Esther was about to show her true colors.

Esther was more than a beautiful woman made Queen.

Esther was wise.  And wisdom only comes from God.  So she must've sought the Lord with what to do and how to do it.  Mordecai was praying.  The Jewish people were praying for deliverance...and now it is up to Esther.  What would she do?

She goes to see the King.  And the minute she sees him, it says in
verse 2 "when the King saw Queen Esther she found favor in his sight...."  

phew...he doesn't kill her.  An answer to prayer.  How relieved she must've felt when she saw the love, the favor in his eyes as he listened to her.

In verse 3 it says the King says to her..."What do you wish Queen Esther, What is your request?  It shall be given to you--up to half the kingdom..."

Whoa!  He really found favor with her...her confidence continues to build...God is so good!

And then she says, in verse 4 "If it pleases the king, let the king and haman come today to the banquet I have prepared for him."

She prepares a banquet....are you as confused as I am?  At this point I would have ranted and raved and cried and begged for my people...I mean, I see I have found favor in his eyes, I'm stressed, I'm worried for my life and my people, there's this huge weight on my shoulders...but no, not Esther...she waits.  She invites the King and Haman to this very special banquet, and both are more than happy to attend.

At the banquet the King continues to ask Esther what she wants, he is willing to give her up to half the kingdom!  Again, Esther just invites the two men to come AGAIN to ANOTHER banquet she has prepared for them tomorrow.

By this point Haman is celebrating, he is so honored and proud to be in such wonderful, royal company...but Esther has a plan.  At this point I still don't get what this Queen is doing!  Why does she wait?  Why didn't she say anything yet?  What is going on???  Oh but God has a plan, and Esther is patient.  I have a lot to learn.

When Haman is celebrating at the end of the chapter he sees faithful, noble Mordecai at the gate, still not bowing down to him...and he tells his wife and friends about how Mordecai won't bow in his presence.  His wife suggest he build gallows to hang this insubordinate man on....and Haman has the gallows made...and that's how the chapter ends!

Oh the suspense!

You will just have to be patient until we cover chapter 6 next Wednesday!

Have a great rest of your week!  Many of you have been asking about Vacation Bible School.  It is going amazingly well!  My kids love it, and we have over 80 kids coming each day!  Keep praying that all the kids stay safe and happy, and that we can continue to bless our community with the love of Jesus.

19 July 2011

Date Nights :)

Laura's wedding

This was a wonderfully busy weekend with a wedding on Friday, a BBQ with friends on Saturday, and a fun playdate on Sunday!

Big thank yous to my Mom and Mother in Law who watched the kids for us on Friday and Saturday.  The kids adored having the grandparents over for the evenings, and John and I welcomed the change of pace and alone time together we were able to share.

On Friday, my good friend Laura, and teacher friend from Timothy got married to her fiance Reuben!  The wedding was absolutely gorgeous, and the food was delicious.  It was wonderful to hear Pastor Joe give the blessing and the talk during the wedding because it brought back memories on our own wedding day.

Laura was an absolutely stunning bride! And her groom was so proud!

It was great to see such a happy, in love couple, honoring the Lord and having a blast on their wedding day!

We all had a great time dancing on the dance floor with Laura, and just celebrating her special day!  I got to have some slow dances with my John too!  It was wonderful sitting and chatting with all my teacher friends.  We are a close knit bunch!  And we are very silly!

On Friday as I got ready in the bathroom with hair, make up, and the whole nine yards, My Julia Star also got the lip gloss out, the hair brush out, and had to have a dress on for Grandma Donna's arrival.  She asked me about 1 million times if she could go to the wedding with me.  Grandma made it extra special by having a picnic party in the basement!

On Saturday, we headed over to our good friends,Violeta and Adrian for a delicious, and relaxing BBQ!

Everyone was sad we didn't bring the kids, because they love seeing Mark and Julia, but we explained that date nights are few and far between and having time alone with friends is important too, no matter how cute and wonderful are kids are, everyone needs a break from time to time.  Plus, Julia and Mark got to spend the evening with Grandma Judy and Grandpa Jack.  Julia got a new doll from Grandma and Mark got a new train!

At the BBQ we were pampered and served and we sat and talked and talked...and no one interrupted us, no one had to go on the potty, nobody's diaper had to be changed, and no one was competing for attention.  It was sweet.

I also got to see John sit back and relax, and chat it up with his buddies, John and Adrian.  There were several couples there and it was so nice to have an adult conversation for a change!

Adrian did all the grilling, he gets the sausages and steaks from a special butcher, so the meat is always DELICIOUS!

He's such a great host!

For dessert we had red velvet cake, fruit, and apple strudel!!!!!

It was also nice for me to have girl time.

Thank you Lord for wonderful friends, fantastic grandparents to watch the kids, and a super hubby who still enjoys my company!!!
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