Thankful Chapel

One thing I absolutely love doing is visiting the school I used to teach at with my kids.  Last week we visited on Wednesday (to prep for my chapel this week) and got to see lots of teachers I taught with and some students.

It's so nice going back and still feeling like it's home...

And now walking with Julia and seeing her run all over campus makes me realize how fast time is going...she looks like she could be one of the Kindergartners there!  She got lots of hugs from Miss Ramunda, Miss Hopper, and Mrs. Sciacca, and the kids even sat with Mrs. Sibilla as I photo copied and cut out leaves for my chapel this week.

I'm excited to be able to speak to all of Elementary this week and share with them all about being thankful for what God has given us and what Thanks-Giving is all about!  I will also be sharing about my family's Thankful Tree at home and our Operation Christmas Child ministry for Christmas.

It's going to be another busy week, but the Lord gives me strength for each and every day!  My prayer is that we can be a blessing to the kids and staff on Wednesday!

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Mighty Warrior

On our recent women's retreat a few weeks back, Cammy, one of our speakers did an amazing Bible Study on Gideon in Judges Chapter 6-8.  I had never read about this Gideon before, and I certainly didn't remember any Bible stories about him from when I was little.  But apparently he was a bit of a, shall we say, a scaredy cat?  In his defense, his enemy was starving his people and very numerous.  His people were starving and God comes to talk to Gideon as he is hiding in a wine press (you know the place where they stomp the grapes to make wine) making bread (pressing wheat).  And God doesn't say, hey you scaredy cat!  He doesn't yell at him for hiding.  He doesn't call him names.

 God says in Judges 6 vs. 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."
He calls Gideon a mighty warrior!  I bet that shocked Gideon.  To be called a mighty warrior as he is hiding from his enemies and afraid.  But God called Gideon by what He saw Him to be.  He knew what Gideon would come to do.  He called Gideon by his rightful name.

How often do we let others put us down, and belittle us or call us names that are not true?  We are loved.  We are valuable.  We are precious to God.  He calls us fearfully and wonderfully made! (Julia just said her Bible verse Psalm 139:14 in Awana last night).  We need to remember how He sees us and what He calls us, and no other names should matter or have any value.  I want to see myself as God sees me.  He has a bright future for me and has promised to work all things together for good to those that love Him. (Romans 8:28)


And if you read Judges chapter 7-8 you will find out that Gideon was indeed a Mighty Warrior and that God helps Him defeat the Midiannites as one man. Just like he promised He would do in Judges 6:16.  God doesn't call us to do anything He isn't willing to see us through, He never will leave us or forsake us, we just need to trust Him and believe all that He says He will do!

What has God called you to do today?

Has He called you to be a teacher, a doctor, a nurse, a lawyer, a banker, a mother, a nursery worker, a secretary, a single parent, a wife?

Whatever He has called you to be He will give you strength enough for each day to accomplish it.

God doesn't call us demeaning names, He calls us lovingly as His dear children.

Jeremiah 31:3
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
What are you, Mighty Warrior, called to do today?

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Blog Hop # 21

It's Time to Mingle!

Hosted by Happy Go Lucky, I Heart Crafty Things, 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
Auntie Kara's Crafts

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.







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Our Thankful Tree

Since the beginning of October we have been talking about Thanksgiving! Don't laugh, I know it's early, but in our home it is never too early to be thankful for all of our blessings.

Each night before bed we go around the room and each person says what they are thankful for.  Me and the kids also take time at lunch and dinner to discuss what things we are grateful for that God has given us...and usually the kids say people's names, not things!

Something I used to do each November in my classroom was make a Thanksgiving Tree...each child would get a leaf cut out (or two or three) and they would write what they were thankful for, and as a bulletin board we would post all the leaves on the tree for the parents and other students to see.

Now that I am home, we have made a Thanksgiving Tree right in our very kitchen on the pantry door.  The kids tell me what I should write down (and I include what they have mentioned the night before) and we stick it on our pantry door which is beginning to look like a tree.  Now, when we have company come visit they can look and see just how thankful we really are.  And since a lot of times the kids say, Grandpa Jack, or Hannah, or Emma, or Mommy or Daddy, when those people come and visit they can see their name!  And won't it be nice that come November and Thanksgiving time we will have a huge tree full of leaves (of all different colors) with all the things and people that we are so thankful for and so blessed to have in our life.  In my opinion you are never too young to be thankful and to tell others how much you appreciate them!

Psalm 107:1
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
On my leaves you will see names like John, Julia Star, Mark Ciro, Grandma Donna and Grandpa Greg, Aunt Sara, Aunt Pia, Grandma Judy, Grandpa Jack, Aunt Laurie, Kelsey, Aunt Debi, Uncle Tio, Aunt Christy, Uncle Bill, Aunt Christy, Lizzy Lou, Uncle Mike, Jim, Lisa, Hannah, Emma, Abi, Zach, Roe, Uncle John, Chi Chi, Jo Jo, James,  Liz, Brenna and Brody, my ladies Bible study, our friends at Awana ...and the list goes on!

It's never too early to make your own Thankful tree!

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The Joy of Grandparents

In Chapter 10 of Bringing up Boys, Dr. James Dobson talks about how wonderful grandparents are, and we wholeheartedly agree!

I can't tell you how many times throughout the day Mark or Julia will ask for Grandpa Jack, Grandpa Greg, Grandma Judy or Grandma Donna.  We pray for them, we call them on the phone we visit them weekly, and we LOVE spending time with them!

How lucky are we that we not only have our Grandparents but even our Great Gran parents!  We love Great Grandma Corrine, and Great Grandma Sue, Great Grandpa Ted and Great Grandpa Lenny!

Dobson says, "The elderly slow down and stoop over so that they can see things as children once again, so that they can hold the hands of children who toddle along on inexperienced feet.  That bug on the sidewalk, the snail under the cabbage leaf, the robin pulling the worm from the rain-moistened earth--these are the things that small children and their grandparents notice."

I absolutely love seeing my own parents play and water the plants, and go for walks with my children.  They really do things so much differently then when they raised me.  They relax more, they have loosened up, and little spills and dirty hands don't bother them at all.

I guess being a grandparent is such a huge blessing and all they want is as much time and hugs and kisses that they can squeeze in.  They don't have to worry about time schedules, disciplining or fruits and veggies at each meal.  Life with grandmas and grandpas is all about fun in the sun, ice cream and cake, and finding cool bugs and birds outside!

Dobson does say that obviously noone is a perfect parent, and so grandparents as the role model of parenting should expect God to use them in a powerful way.

"Although we all made mistakes raising our children, the good news is that as godly grandparents, walking with the Lord, we can expect the Lord to use us...the Lord is giving us a ministry to help fill in these gaps in our imperfect child rearing."
I've seen this with my own mother who has pulled me aside and given me advice when she sees I'm struggling with a disobedient child.  She always encourages me and tells me what a great job I'm doing, and she gives me insights into the personality that she sees in each of my children.  Sometimes it is really good to see another adults perspective and see your child through their eyes.  My mom would NEVER correct the way I parent, but she would pray for me and give me godly advice one on one.  I really appreciate her love and support and  can trust that she always respects me as the parent.  She knows that ultimately I have the final say, and she always tells my kids, "Go ask your mom first!"  I love that!

I also see how patient my parents are with my kids and it helps me to be more patient too.

They really do have more time to just enjoy the grand kids, and sometimes it teaches me to sit back and relax and enjoy my kids instead of being stressed or worried about their appearance or constant good behavior, because kids will be kids and you can never predict what they will do from one moment to the next!

Dobson says, "But most of all, we support, we listen, we pray.  And we love."  And Grandparents are great at doing these things!
And let's face it, I trust the grandparents over anyone to watch my children, they are our safe net and our family and my children feel really comfortable in their homes, they feel safe, secure, and extremely loved!

 And let's not forget how Grandparents are always willing to listen and support our children when they do amazing things (like Gymnastics recitals).  Now a days Julia will say, "Mom, I want to call Grandma on the phone, I want to talk to her."  Julia and Mark know Grandma and Grandpa always have time to talk and to listen, and don't we ALL need that?

My mom always seems to know Julia's love language too.  She's always asking about school, or awana, or what she learned today, and Julia can't stop talking about those things!  I also love how Grandma Judy and Grandma Donna always compliment Julia and Mark on things that I sometimes forget about, like how they look, or a picture they colored, or how well behaved they sat.  I think it really helps their self esteem.

And Grandparents are also awesome because at the drop of a hat they will step in to babysit or help plan a party, or buy something for the grandkids, and that shows all of us love, because they give of their time and money, and it means so much.

Grandpa Jack helped us during Mark's birthday party to do all of the relays and games we planned on the mat and the highlight of the birthday party was Grandpa Jack's tug of war game!  He was a real hit!

There is a place where I like to hide.There is a place with love inside.It's my Nana's garden.When it's all quiet I just stand stilland listen to the trees and whipperwhillThere is a place where I like to hide.There is a place with love inside.It's my Nana's garden.It's my Nana's garden.

By Christina (age 9)

To all you wonderful Grandparents out there, thank you, thank you for blessing us with your time, love and support.  We can never repay you or thank you enough!


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What will they remember?

As a Mom I sometimes wonder...

Will they remember the lessons I planned...

the words that I taught them?

the prayers we shared?

the games we played?

the songs we sung?

the pictures we drew?

the paintings we painted?

the verses we memorized?

the sights we saw?


Or will they remember...

the quiet moments snuggling the couch?

the words of affirmation?

the love they felt?

the yummy s'mores we made in front of the fireplace?

the extra stories we read at bedtime?

the tears we wiped away?

the sound of our laughter?

the feel of our warm embraces?

I hope they will remember.


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The Birthday Plan

Birthday planning is taken very seriously over here!

Miss Julia Star turns 4 years old this December 31st...and Mommy has been plotting and planning ever since her last birthday party.

Let's take a look back and see what we've done.  When Julia turned 1 we threw her a big party at the church, around 80 people came, family, church friends, library friends, neighborhood friends, lots of fun was celebrated (and I was 4 months pregnant with Mark at the time).  There was a coloring table, a puppet show, and face painting, and lots of food and a few slide shows of all the pictures of Julia since birth.

When Julia turned two we had another big party, about 35 people, friends, family and kids at the Taekwondo school.  We had an Elmo theme and Daddy dressed up as Elmo and came.  Big success!

When Julia turned three we had a friend party (about 20 people came) at the Build a Bear in the Mall...that was fun too!  Then we ate out as a family at a Sushi restaurant!  Yum!

This year I considered a few places, Julia's gymnastics school, the Wonder Wing Museum, or a small family party at the Rain Forest Cafe...and after talking to Daddy we decided that this year's birthday is going to be a rather intimate celebration.  We will head to the mall, eat out, and go on the carousel.  I'm glad Daddy helped me out on this one...I can't believe my baby girl is turning 4!

"The days are long but the years are short!!!"

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Classical Education

I'm beginning to research some websites (and talk to my home school friends who use it) on Christian Classical Education.

Most children begin preschool about age 3-4 and this December when Julia turns 4 I'd really like to begin a more formal curriculum with her, and as you know I'm not a worksheet girl.  We are very hands on over here and so I'm trying to find a curriculum that works best for my children's learning style and also my teaching style.

Classical Education Website

So this weekend in particular I will be busy researching and planning and checking things out!

Have a great weekend!

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Blog Hop #20

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It's Time to Mingle!

Hosted by 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 Life Gets Crafty
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.



The Pictures Say It All

I'm so happy I'm your mom.

Just holding you brings me joy.

I love to hear you both laugh.

My day is good when I see you in the morning.

I feel content being your mom.

I am so proud of the little people you are becoming.

I love to hear you speak.

I can't wait to see what God has in store for you.

Joy. Joy. Joy.






Julia, you're getting so big.  And I am so glad to be YOUR mommy.  I get to be Julia's mom, and that's so great!  You make me proud each day in some way, and I can't believe how much you are growing and learning.

Forever Best Friends.

I never would have known that a brother and a sister could be so close.

I love seeing you two interact.

You both have such sweet hearts and tender words for each other (yes, we are always working on sharing, but for the most part you two have the best interest out for the other.)

Julia--Mark really looks up to you, so continue to set a good example.

Mark--Julia is older than you, but as her brother you can always look out for her and protect her, and take good care of her!

I love you.


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Sequencing...Homeschooling...Picking my battles

I have to say we have done a lot school wise this year so far.  So much more than I was able to accomplish last year with balancing my Ladies Bible Study ministry and homeschooling at the same time.

This year it's just been such a priority for me that if it means the laundry gets skipped, or we have leftovers twice, or we have multiple lesson times through out the day then so be it.

Flexibility and flowing with our family needs (especially when the kids are sick) is just too important to me and sometimes my personal time gets pushed aside to focus on schooling rather than reading a novel, or writing, etc.

I'm learning Julia and Mark's learning styles and they are both so different that sometimes it is best to just do Circle Time and reading time together, but Math, and writing and craft time separate.

Julia gets easily distracted by Mark, and Mark loves Julia's attention, so sometimes when Julia wakes up after nap time we do our own school time one on one while Mark is still asleep.

And have I mentioned how Mark stays in his room and could sleep all day if I let him?  It's so funny!  But 4:00 is always my cut off time, because 8:30 ish to 9pm is our set bed time and I want him to have some wake time with us so we can hit the park, or ride our bikes around the block a few times.

Picking my Battles


Julia is my creative genius, and it drives me nuts!  She is the type of student that I considered my "project" in the classroom setting.  She is so bright, with so many questions, and ALWAYS has her own idea of how something should be done.  And this was all discovered at the tender age of 18 months.  She is very determined and persistent.

So...I'm picking my battles.

When we do our sequencing homework each day, I let her use the scissors to cut out the pictures, I let her use the glue stick to paste on the pictures in order.  I read the short story and she puts the pictures in order.

Then when we flip over the page and have to trace the letters and are supposed to color the picture the way the guide tells you to, and Julia says, "No mom, these are the colors I'm using."  And she traces every color in a different marker color and colors the yellow flower purple...I LET it go...the object of the lesson is to work on sequencing, and cutting, and pasting...colors don't matter (even though I'm such a rule follower and it drives me nuts...I'm learning to let her feel like she has a say in the schooling process).

But pray for me, because it isn't always easy, and this was only one example!

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Kindness is Key

"Blessed is the influence of one true, loving, human soul on another."
How can I be kind in my actions this week?

*sending snail mail or notes of encouragement

*surprising a friend with a care package

*reading an extra story during "Girl Time"

*Texting my hubby throughout the day

*Snuggling longer on the couch and letting the cleaning/dishes/laundry wait...remembering that people are more important than chores

*Asking a friend how I can help them

*Opening up my home for a missionary in town

*reaching out through email and checking in on friends who are sick

The best benefit of being kind to others around you is being blessed right back!!!

I'm excited to see my little ones be sweet and kind to others around them, and I'm realizing the more I model kindness the more fruit I see in my families life.

"Always, Sir, set a high value on spontaneous kindness."

All quotes came from the book: Random acts of Kindness...




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Time after Time

Psalm 90:12
12 Teach us to number our days,    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.


This weekend was awesome!  We got so much family time in, so much done around the house, and my sister in law got engaged!  We are very happy for her and Kelsey and are excited for their May wedding.


The weekend started out with Daddy heading to church from 7:30-10:15 for a leadership meeting, while me and the kids did our chores, got dressed and ran a few errands.


Then we met up with Daddy at the pumpkin patch with another family from our Mops group!  Julia and Mark were so excited to head back to the farm and this time ponies were there!




Cheesequake Farms right off Cottrell road has a hay ride/pumpkin picking and pony rides every weekend in October and the last time we went Julia was a bit sad Snickers and Casper were not there to ride!  But this weekend she got to ride Snickers and boy was she happy!

I'm really thankful we got to have a fun family filled morning!  Then we headed to the pizzeria for some hot pizza and more family fun time! (Isn't it nice not to have to make a meal at home or clean any dishes???)

When we got home the kids were pooped!  They took their 2 hour nap (well, Julia did, Mark slept til 4, as usual! what a sleeper he is! I have to wake him up for breakfast and wake him up from nap, he loves his bed alright!)

John and I used our time wisely and I washed the kitchen floor, did another load of laundry, cleaned the bathrooms, and raked 4 bags of leaves while John organized our garage again so we can have room for our SUV...we loaded up the trunk of our car for Goodwill, and it felt so good to see an organized garage and a clean front yard.  And I might add that while I was raking John said, "You look beautiful while you are raking."  Is he a dream boat or what?  I just love how sweet he is.

After nap time we headed to drop off clothes, shoes, and toys to Goodwill, we stopped at the dollar store for some cards, dropped off a rented tool at Home Depot and headed to a Thai restaurant for some more family time!  OH, and the kids were AMAZING in the restaurant...I was very impressed!

We came home did bath time, movie time, (Flipper is our favorite movie of the weekend) and then we relaxed.

Sunday was worship time at church, then home for lunch and nap time and then we celebrated with Cinzia and her family since her son was christened today.

Then we heard the engagement news about Laurie and Kelsey and we headed to Grandma Judy's and Grandpa Jack's to spend time with them for champagne and appetizers!

We found out that we are ALL in the wedding...John and I are part of the wedding party and Julia is the flower girl and Mark will be the ring bearer!

Just think by May I will have a 4 year old and 3 year old...time is flying by!

Lord, please teach us to use our time wisely each day and honor you with every minute you give us!


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Awana

We are loving the Awana program at our church.  Julia is a Cubbie this year, which is the 3-4 year old class.  Each week she has homework, new verses to memorize and class time with Ms. Kathy.

It has really enhanced our Bible time at home and helped us to talk even more about God and how He wants to be Lord of our life.

Whenever we talk about Awana or our verses Julia brings up the fact that Jesus wants to live in our hearts.  She's heard this since she was itty bitty, but lately the questions have been flowing: Where does God live?  Where is heaven?  Can I see God?  Is Jesus in my heart?

Last night on the way to Awana Julia told me that Jesus lives in her heart...and I wanted to sort of "test" her understanding so I told her that Jesus can only live in our hearts if our hearts are clean, he can't live in our hearts if they are dirty...serious talk for a car ride, but totally brought up by Julia.

So then we talked about how when we disobey Mommy and Daddy, when we hurt Mark's feelings, when we do naughty things, those are the types of things that make our heart dirty and only Jesus can clean our hearts (I touched on the word sin, but basically kept saying "bad things or naughty things" so it would be clearer for her to understand).

Well, within a matter of seconds she said, "I want a CLEAN heart!"  And she's never brought this up or applied it to herself, this was the first time (something I have not wanted to push at all, I wanted this moment to be all about Julia and not about mommy's desire to see her come to Jesus, but I have been praying about it!)

With choked up words and tears in my eyes I said, "Julia if you want a clean heart you just have to ask Jesus to clean your heart and come live inside, He wants to be your best friend!  Just pray to Him honey."  She immediately came up with her own personal words asking for a clean heart and for Jesus to live inside.  And afterwards we cheered, (I was parked in the church parking lot by this time) high fived and guess who else wanted to pray (but we will be working a lot more with Mark of course, I think he was caught up in the moment with celebrating for Julia) Mark prayed his own prayer (Mommy could not understand all his words because they were so quiet but he was being very serious).

And I'll tell you what, Julia just smiled more in that car!  I mean she always smiles but she just looked different.  


I told Miss Kathy just in case Julia brought up anything in class, and Julia and I talked and prayed again during Girl Time after getting home from church.

It was such a special night.  Thank you Lord, for child like faith!  Children are so willing to just cling to the truths of the Lord and it is so precious to see!



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Blog Hop # 18

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 With A Shot of Brandy
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.









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