Thursday, September 30, 2010

Debbie Macomber-One Simple Act

Debbie Macomber is one of those authors that I stumbled upon when I started this job with Little Man.  I started out reading The Blossom Street series, which I told you about back in June.  Aside from reading all of that series, I have listened to many of her other books on C.D.  She has a ridiculous amount of books, so it's an easy go to when I'm at the library.  When I'm short on time, or Little Man is over standing in the books on tape aisle, I just grab a Macomber book and I'm on my way.

Recently I grabbed a couple of her books on C.D. and was on my way.  I put one in and during the beginning it said something like, "You may be wondering why, as a fiction writer, I am writing a book like this."  I didn't pay much attention to what I had picked up, since I knew I liked her as an author.  I was thinking, "This isn't fiction?"    Then I went on to listening to this book....

I knew almost right away that I loved it.  I feel like some of it is common sense, some of it is just good tidbits of advice and some of it is just a reminder of Christian values that we can all use a refresher course on.  Honestly, I sat through most of it thinking how great it was and that everyone should read/listen to it.

Here's what a summary of it from her site.

What if you, personally, could make the world a better tomorrow? 

Debbie Macomber knows the secret to doing exactly that! In a world that seems too often stingy and grudging, she has witnessed how one simple act of generosity can yield unforeseen miracles. 

You are about to discover, through true stories, what happens when we commit intentional acts of generosity. Lives are changed in ways we never envisioned. Come with Debbie late one evening through the checkout line at the grocery store. Visit a midwestern train station. Discover the link between a submarine, a few bread crumbs, and some minnows. Visit ancient Galilee as a young boy volunteers his fishes and loaves to Jesus only to see his meager gift multiplied many times over to feed five thousand. Listen in on a touching phone call with an elderly widow. You will stand amazed at what God accomplishes when we make ourselves available through simple acts of generosity. 

This blend of true stories and motivating messages will delight and surprise you as you discover how giving the gifts of time, encouragement, hope, laughter, prayer, hospitality, service, and even forgiveness can have lasting, life-changing impact, not only on the recipient of such gifts but on the giver as well. 

Debbie Macomber, through the power of story, invites us to live with open hands, offering who we are and what we have to God, to use in the lives of others. When we do so, lives—including our own—are changed in ways we couldn't have imagined. All it takes is one simple act.

I passed the C.D.'s on to Michael and told him that I really would like him to listen to them.  He started yesterday morning and texted me after he got to school and said, "Good book" and also "a good way to start the morning".  I strongly encourage you to pick it up.  I liked it so much that I think I want to own it.  There were so many times I was thinking that I would like to be taking notes on it or writing down little quotes or nuggets of information, but I was driving.  Really, it's a book that can be revisited and revisited.

Note: The picture above is the hardback version.  The paperback is coming out next month and has a different cover.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Apples, Apples... We've Got Apples

Well, we have apples coming out our ears.  We chose to "pick" the small bag, but even that is a lot of apples for us.  We chose to pick the baking apples, so baking is what I'll be doing.  But before the baking starts, we decided to make some caramel apples.

We bought a kit at the apple farm. They had a couple of different varieties--heat on the stove, the kind that comes in a square and you just wrap around, and the microwave time.  We went for convenience and chose the microwave kind.

Oddly, neither Michael nor I had ever made caramel apples before.  
It was a fun fall activity for us to do together!
I cleaned the apples and Michael stuck the sticks in them.

Michael cheesing! :)
Funny side note: This is a shirt Michael has had for a while and he enjoys the fit of it, so he wears it often.  My sister and friend Laurie were joking around a month or so ago that he needs to get some new shirts.  They said he is wearing it in almost every picture.  It's true.  I agreed with them.  I assured them that he had plenty of other shirts and that I would pass along the message.  Michael and I got a good laugh about it.  Like I said, that was about a month ago.  When we were doing the apples, I took his picture and then almost immediately he said, "Oh no!  It's the shirt!"  HA HA!  It just so happened that he was wearing the shirt and I was taking pictures.  Once again, we got a good laugh.

Not as good of a laugh as after this though...
Somehow Michael put the stick in and it came out all crooked on the other side.
He took it out and tried again and the same thing happened.  It cracked me up!
I was laughing so hard I was crying!  It's the little things...

Yummy, yummy goodness!

So fun!
Six apples down... many, many more to go!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Flashcard Shuffle

Flashcards can have many functions.  You may remember from last October that we played Hide and Seek with the flashcards.  This was a great way for Little Man to practice his letter recognition.

Well, he's got letter recognition and sounds down, but it's always good to practice.  We are also trying to learn to recognize numbers past 10.  So I decided to do a little flashcard shuffle.

First, I laid out the flashcards in a random order and had Little Man put them in the right order.  This is the beginning stages of alphabetic order and he did great.  We started out with half the alphabet.  He did so good at it, so we went with the entire alphabet. Again, he did great.

So we moved on to numbers.

We did 1 through 15 and he did great at it.

I started out easy, but my goal is to use games like this to get him to be counting to higher numbers AND to be able to recognize them when he sees them.

This is a good way to step away from the workbooks and make a game out of learning.

Monday, September 27, 2010

List o' fun--Apple Picking

Happy Johnny Appleseed Day!  Well, ok, technically his birthday was yesterday, but that's alright.  So in honor of Johnny, I'm going to recommend you go pick some apples. :)  It's so fun!

Little Man and I have gone to Lynd's Fruit Farm in Pataskala, Ohio for the past three years.
You can start picking in August and continue picking until the end of October.  Each weekend offers different apples to pick, but all apple types are available at the corner tent.

We always go around the middle of September.
We've picked Jonathon apples two of the times, because they are great for baking.
The other time we picked Honeycrisp, which are super popular.

Little man loves picking apples.  He always gets so excited when he knows it's coming up.
I asked him what he liked picking the best--strawberries, apples, or pumpkins.  
He said (very excitedly) "ALL of them!!!!" :)

They also have a little hay ride/tractor ride that leaves from the tent.  It is $2 per person.  Little Man also loves this, and it is a good ride.  It lasts a nice long time, and it stops and lets you pick an apple to eat.

I have had a great time going with Little Man (and friends) the last three years.  I knew that when I had kids, we'd be making this a family tradition as well.  However, that doesn't appear to be happening any time soon, so I decided this year that Michael and I would start the tradition.  We are a family.  Why not?  Plus, I don't mind going twice. :)  So that's what we did.  We went apple picking this last weekend.

We took a really cute picture, but it ended up being a little blurry.  
The second attempt was more clear, but my hair decided to go flying!

We went on a busy weekend, so we had a harder time finding apples than I normally do.  
Michael had to get some high ones for us.

It was a perfect fall day.

"Is this a good one?"


Got 'em!

He found a good one....

...while I just played in the trees!

After we picked the apples, we went to the tent to get pumpkins, gourds, and yummy Amish goodness.  We also got a half a peck of Pixie Crisp apples for Michael's lunches.  Yum!

There is still time for you to go picking.  Get out there.  Make family traditions.  We'll be going every year from here on out.  Oh--and yummy apple recipes are coming your way!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"She judged Him faithful"

 I was driving the other day, and since I was in my work car I had the radio on.  Remember, I'm usually listening to a book on C.D.?! :)  Anyway, the deejay said that according to officials the recession is officially over.  Apparently it's been over for a while.  The deejays were asking their listeners if they thought it was over.  They were saying that while the officials may say it's over, it certainly doesn't feel over to some people.  They asked, "What do you think?  Is it over for you?  Is your life back to normal, or are you still struggling in some way?"

My first thought was literally "It never affected me in the first place".  Honestly, we didn't change our lifestyle or way of living at all.  Then my next thought was, "But wait, my husband lost his job".  It didn't really have anything to do with the economy or recession.  It had more to do with the product AT&T was selling and the lack of people using home phones.  Even still, we didn't change our way of living.  We were basically already living on one income and putting the second income completely into debt.  So while we do need to save more, and we have less of a cushion, we haven't changed much.

I don't say that to brag.  I say that to say, "How blessed are we?!"  God is faithful.  He has always been faithful to me.  He takes care of His children and I believe that all things work out the way they should.  Our steps are ordered.

I fully believe that Michael losing his job was a blessing in disguise.  I was only nervous or upset about it for literally about a day.  Then I pulled myself together and knew that there had to be a bigger plan.  "His ways are not our ways".  I knew God was up to something good, I just couldn't see it yet.  Michael hated that job, but because of the good pay and great benefits he never would have left.  Not only that, but the hours were just terrible.  We could never plan anything with friends, commit to things at church, or plan a vacation.  It would have never worked in the long run.  Something was going to have to give.  By Michael losing his job, he was forced to make a decision.  Going to school was something he had wanted to do, but just didn't think that because of our "plans" it was wise.  Our plans got changed.  To be honest, I'm OK with that.  I feel like God has us right where He wants us.  Michael is getting an education that in the long run will benefit our family and help us reach the goals we have.  God knew.  He knew he had to kick Michael out.  He knew that even though we wanted A and B to happen NOW, that by waiting a little bit longer, A and B would happen easier and on a bigger scale.

There is a story in the Bible about a woman named Sarah.  
She was old and considered barren.  God had other plans. 
Hebrews 11:11 (KJV) "Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised."

She judged Him faithful.  I love that.  She judged Him faithful.  I have judged Him faithful.  Have you?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Stumble Upon

 I wanted to share with you a really cool website.  It's  Michael has been using it for some time now, and I recently just joined the band wagon.  You go and sign up and choose from a list the types of things that interests you.  For example, I chose things like cooking, reading, quotes, stuff related to children, healthy living, etc.  Then, you in essence, channel surf the internet.

This toolbar will be at the top of each page as you stumble.

The left hand corner is the most important and looks like this.
If you want to go to another page you click stumble.  If you enjoy the page you got you click "I like it".  Of course, with the internet there are things that you may stumble upon that you do not like.  In this case you click on the thumbs down.  I haven't stumbled on anything too terrible... just things I don't really agree with or don't find funny.  By giving it a thumbs down, I won't "surf" on to those things again.

On the right side of the tool bar is where you can see your favorites.  These are the things you like.  That way you can always go back and find them if you want.  Also, by liking the pages, you will be more likely to be shown things you actually like.
You can see I have liked 148 things so far! :)

If you click on favorites, all your pages come up and it looks something like this!

If you are ready to get back to stumbling, you just hit the yellow stumble button.

Just in case you are curious as to what kind of things are out there, I got this post, this post, and this post from stumbling around on the internet.  I will warn you that it can become highly addictive!  You just want to know what kind of fun it could stumble upon next.  :)  Have fun stumbling!

P.S.  Huge thanks to my hunk of a husband Michael for helping me figure out how to put pictures of an actual website on here.  You rock!  Love you!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Like Dandelion Dust

About six years ago a friend introduced me to Karen Kingsbury books.  I wasn't much of a recreational reader at the time.  I was a few short years out of college and wading my way through my first years of teaching.  She promised that I would love the Redemption Series, and she was right.  I read the first one in days and was hooked.  I quickly finished the five books in the series and moved on to any other Karen Kingsbury book I could find.  She became one of my favorite authors and I fell in love with the Baxter family.  I have now read over 40 books by her and they keep coming!  (I must admit, after reading so many, they do become a little predictable, but I'm invested now!:)

Well, one of Karen's books has been made into a movie!  I am so excited!!
While Karen is mainly a (New York Time's Best Selling) Christian Fiction author, the movie is not necessarily "Christian".  It is a movie with a good message that is void of all the garbage of modern day movies.  Personally, I am thrilled that more and more of these movies are popping up.  It's time to bring back some sort of standard.  We like to "vote" and support these films (no matter how hokey the acting may be--Facing the Giants anyone?) by going on opening weekend.  I want the industry to know that there are people out there wanting more morally friendly movies.

This movie opens today in some places, next weekend in others, and then the following weekend elsewhere.  It is limited in availability and isn't in all cities.  You can check out if it is in your area (and watch a trailer) here.  It is only in one theater here in Columbus and doesn't open until next weekend.  I am looking forward to it!  I encourage you to check it out... at least watch the trailer! :)

Happy Friday Friends!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Clinically Tested Deodorant

Thankfully I am not one of those people that have a perspiration problem.  I don't "pit out" or stain my clothing.  Unless I am in a really hot environment (or nervous), I don't have any issues.  That brings me to this past summer.  You may remember that I mentioned the ridiculous amount of HOT days we had.  My life with Little Man did not stop because of a little heat!  Unfortunately, we would do our activities in the morning, so if I was in the blazing sun at 10 in the morning and got super hot and sweaty, it was game over.  No one likes to feel like they are sticky or stinky for the rest of the day.  I had remembered hearing my cousins talk about using a clinically tested deodorant, so I called to get some information.

I picked up this.

I didn't know what to expect, but I really like it.  It's a little more expensive than most deodorants out there (around $7), but there are coupons out there for $2 off.

The direction was to put it on at night, but I didn't like that so much.  I put it on in the morning like regular.  It says to put "two clicks" on each arm.  You'll know what that means when you buy the stuff, but it does really work all day long.  By using "two clicks" a day, it last me almost two months exactly.

So you may think it's weird that I'm talking about a personal issue such as perspiration.  Well, today is September 23rd and it's suppose to be NINETY FOUR FREAKING DEGREES here.  I thought it was as good as time as any.  I like sharing good finds.  Hopefully one of you can benefit from this! :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fall Tree

You may remember that last week I was watched Little Man and Little Man's two cousins while the family was at a funeral.  We did the apple prints after reading about the star inside.  We ALSO made a fall tree with hand prints/fingerprints.  (Plus, we baked a cake...  Yep.  I'm a rockstar! :)

This is a craft that I use to do with my students.  It's a pretty easy and well known craft.

We started out by painting their hands and arms brown and making a tree.  
Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of this step.  
(I was trying to make sure the girls didn't get any paint on their clothes!)

Back when I was teaching, I obviously could not paint twenty hands and arms and not have paint on walls, doors, bathroom sinks and stalls, clothes, myself... so I didn't do it this way.  I did it two different ways, depending on the year.  You can a) have the kids draw a tree with branches, or b) have the kids trace their arm and hand and cut it out.  Either  is fun.

Then the kids add fall colored leaves with their fingerprints.
I tried and TRIED to get them to add leaves to the white part around the branches too... to make the tree a little fuller.  All three of them stuck to the hand print and that is it.  What can ya do?  It's still cute isn't it?!  

Then, just for fun, we added a little glitter glue.  Because really, who doesn't love a little glitter? :)

Close up:

This is a good art project (with help) for kids anywhere from 2 to 8.
You could just use green and red if you wanted to make it an apple tree.  I love fall!

Monday, September 20, 2010


Baskets seem to have become popular lately.  I've never been a huge basket person.  A container person? Yes.  Baskets?  Not so much.  But I got sick of looking at a closet that I wanted to be organized, but always seemed to look a mess.  It was time for baskets.

Our hall closet always started out nice and neat, but as time went on it would get disheveled and messy.

Here is what I started with
I bought those baskets for the top shelf a couple of months ago.  We had so many blankets and it was hard to stack them all.  I figured if we put them in baskets, then we could just pull the basket down to get what we wanted and it would always look neat in our closet.
I had tons of plastic containers that I use to use in my classroom.  When I left the classroom, they got put to use random places in my house.
There was organization, but I still didn't like it.

Michael's had baskets on sale for 50% off last week, so we picked up a few and this is how it turned out.
Better, huh?

It's still not perfect, but it will have to do for now.
I plan on making tags and hanging them on the baskets so that we know what is in each one.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


So if you know me at all, you know that I have a phobia of cats.  Yes.  I actually fear them.  They creep me out.  I can't explain it.  I have no idea why.  Just like most people have a random fear.  I don't judge you for not liking heights... or being afraid of snakes...  I have been saying for a very long time that cats are evil.  You just never know when they are going to turn on you.  They might even be demon possessed.  I'm just saying.   That's how I feel.

Lots of people choose to argue this fact with me.  I know there are cat lovers out there, and I don't mean to offend.  It's just my experience that cats are crazy.  I don't like them.

Well, Michael and I were meandering through the craft store the other day looking for baskets.  Of course they had all their fall/halloween decorations out.

There were decorative pumpkins, lots of things with leaves and acorns.  Of course there were witches, ghosts, and skeleton type stuff.  Oh, and we can't forget the spiders and bats.  There were cute scarecrows and bails of hay too.

Oh, but guess what else there was...........CATS!!!  Now call me crazy, but if cats aren't evil, why are we using them to decorate for an "evil" holiday?  Why are they decorations right along side ghosts (evil), witches (evil), and other creepy things???  Just sayin.
 Bats, witches, and CATS

I think you get the point.  Feel free to try to explain to me now how cats are not evil.... :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I'm sick.  Boo!
I woke up with a very sore and scratchy throat, swollen tonsils and a semi stuffed up nose.  
Just the way I want to spend my Saturday! :(

Oh well... what are you gonna do?  
I rarely get sick, so I suppose I can't  complain when it does happen to me.

And since I know what you all are thinking... I would like to take a second to squash the incorrect assumptions that I ALWAYS get.  I have an amazing immune system.  Seriously.  BUT--it's NOT from being a teacher.  That's the first thing people say to me.  However, it's just not true.  I have had a great immune system my whole life.  I'm sure working around sick kids didn't help but strengthen it, but that is not where it comes from.  I'm not exactly sure where it comes from.  I was rarely sick as a child.  Hardly ever sick during high school and college.  Then I started teaching.

Usually the way it goes is a first year teacher is a sick mess all year long, and then after they have built up some sort of immune system they can fight things off in the following years.  I didn't get sick at all my first year.  Or my second year.  Or my third year.  As a matter of fact, I didn't even take a sick day until my fifth year of teaching when strep throat went through my class for two months straight!  Sure, I got a cold every year about two weeks into the school year, but it was very short and very mild.

Little Man has gotten sick many times in the past two years and I have yet to take a sick day from my current job.  It's not that I'm "tough" or one of those idiots that goes to work looking and feeling like death and spreading it to everyone else.  It's just that I don't really get sick.  One time Little Man got sick and passed it to the ENTIRE family, including Nana, Papa, and cousins.  I was the only one not affected.

So, here I sit.  Sick on a Saturday.  Not so fun, but I guess I can't complain.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Little Red House...

...with no windows and no doors and a star inside.  Have you heard that story?  If not, you can read it here.  (I thought about copying it here, but it's really long.)  I use to read this story to my little first graders on Johnny Appleseed Day when we did all sorts of apple crafts.  This week we went to a metro park program about apples and this story was read.  Little Man got a kick out of it.

Yesterday I  was watching two of Little Man's cousins (because of a funeral) and I mentioned to him that we should do an art project.  He said, "Maybe we could tell them about the star inside the apple."  I told him we absolutely could and we'd do an art project with it.

So... that's what we did.  I bought 4 apples of varying colors.  
After reading the story we all guessed what apple would have the best star in it.

We cut them all in half.  I forgot to get a picture of it, but I think the red gives the best star. 
(Probably why the story is about a RED house! ha!)
I dug this out of the trash to get an after the fact picture! :)
You can't cut the apple from the top down, but rather from side to side to get the star.

Then we took some paint
and made some prints.

The stars didn't quite show up, but that's alright.  They still turned out cute.

Here's Little Man's three year old cousins
It was looking good until she started sloshing around the paint brush! :)