Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Munchies: Simple Snacking Surprises.

So, occasionally I'll see something like this:
 or this:
....and I start feeling pretty crummy about the lame Wheat Thins or Goldfish I threw in a baggy at my kid just before heading into the van.

And while it is awe inspiring and really nice for a party or special occasion to spend an hour creating a snack masterpiece that will be devoured in approximately 5 minutes, I've discovered that just a little twist on an old (and inexpensive) favorite can result in a big smile and an unspoken understanding of love between me and my kids.

So, break out the Pretzel sticks.

Sometimes (especially for family movie night) I give my kids pretzel sticks for a snack.  After Easter we had lots of egg candy lying around.  When I dumped a few pretzels into the bowl and it looked like a nest, I put a few Robin Eggs chocolates inside and voilĂ ! An exciting bird's nest snacktime was born.

Since our first bird's nest snack, I have tried a few different twists with things we have on hand. Marshmallows also make a fun surprise in your nest.  And sometimes I arrange the pretzels to look like a little bonfire with a few marshmallows stuck to the ends like we are going to roast them on the fire. The kids LOVE this! 
While I hope to keep aspiring to a level of superior child snacking such as this:

My kids are pretty happy with our little pretzel nests and pretzel bonfires.  What are some simple snacking favorites in your family?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Mercies Anew!

Every morning that breaks
There are mercies anew
Every breath that I take
Is your faithfulness proved
And at the end of each day
When my labors are through
I will sing of Your mercies anew!

The sun came up fiercely today--it broke through the curtains and I was reminded just how much I have to be thankful for.

This morning we drove to school without music or distracted chatter about Legos and the Backyardigans.  We had real conversations about baby calves that we passed in the field and the gorgeous Queen Anne's Lace that grows wild by the road.  We laughed and when Griffin gave his brother a big kiss before he headed out the van door, I couldn't help praising God in my heart for mornings like this. For mercies anew.

This week I'm thankful for so many things. 
~For more blessings in our lives in the form of new babies born into our family.
~For cool mornings and soggy dew.
~For a bountiful garden in the backyard.
~For an amazing husband and daddy who cares for us.
~For a 2 year-old who hysterically gains independence each day.
~For my big kids who are helpful and seeking and growing.

But most of all for this.  A reminder that even when it is foggy and rainy and the sun isn't shining, God and his mercy is constant!

And Your mercies, they will never end
For ten thousand years they’ll remain
And when this world’s beauty has passed away
Your mercies will be unchanged

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mother's Day: One-Memory-a-Day Journal

My children are growing fast...way too fast. And they do cute and funny little things every day, which I am already forgetting. 

So I gave myself an early little Mother's Day gift this year: a One-Memory-a-Day Journal.

Confession: I am a wanna-be journaler. Truth be told, I am actually a wanna-be Memory-Keeper in several areas. Don't ask me how far my children's Baby books have progressed (one is unopened!) or how my scrapbooks are going (the photos are all there in Photoshop...not printed, not laid out digitally for a Photobook...just waiting...) And even my great intent to keep separate journals for the kids of all their funny antics is basically still a pile of notes on calendars that I need to get around to copying over to actual journals...

But this one is different. It's not intimidating at all. The goal is to write at least one sentence from the day. It keeps track of all the sweet little happenings that may not be Big Firsts or hilarious stories to share at future family get-togethers...just happy memories our family will cherish reading when the kids are grown.

I grabbed a little journal at Staples and started it May 1. So far, I'm still on track!

If you have young children or need a gift idea for a new or young Mom for Mother's Day, give her a cute journal with the instructions to jot One little Memory a day.  She will love it forever!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Kid Creativity: Bounce Back Game Time.

Sometimes a new game will spring up when we least expect it. I love it when my kids come up with something entirely on their own; I'm always happy to help point them down the pioneering path.

Since it was blazing hot by 9 a.m. on Saturday, our only outdoor option was to pull out the tiny inflatable baby pool and splash around.  After a while my 6-year-old got bored with the little pool and started looking for another outdoor option.  

We have two boys in our house, so we are constantly bouncing with bouncy balls. There are balls in every shape and size, from the least bouncy to the bounciest.  I don't mind a bouncy ball one bit.  I will take 10 totes full of bouncy balls over 1 harmonica or drum any day.

My boys have been on a ball kick lately and it is something that they enjoy playing together--even with their four year age gap, so that's nice.  Since we have an endless supply of bouncing balls around the house, I let them bring a few outside and bounce them around. Eventually the bouncing balls found their way into the baby pool--large target. Then we started hunting for smaller and smaller targets: buckets, totes, cans.  I finally remembered my awesome stash of yogurt containers that I had in the pantry.  I have been saving them because they are just too great to throw away (*cough hoarder *cough) and yesterday we finally put them to use.
Once we set the yogurt containers around the baby pool, we circled them with chalk and put various numbers to represent points at each spot, depending on how difficult we thought each shot would be.  Next, we drew a line for him to stand behind while throwing the bouncy balls and he drew a scoreboard for each player.  
Once the game was all set up (which was really the fun part anyway) it was time to play.  Griffin had fun bouncing the ball and attempting to steer the bounciness into the small yogurt containers.  It was a challenging game and he was very excited even if the ball simply touched the container.  Of course he also had to keep moving farther back.

Games are everywhere.  If you encourage your kids to run with their own creativity, you'll be surprised how far they go with it.  The yogurt/pool/bouncy game might not make it onto the shelves of Toys-R-Us anytime soon, but I had a great time creating something from nothing with my boys.  What is a fun game that your family created or modified lately?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thankful Thursday: A Trip to the Home Beauty Salon.

This morning was low-key.  I managed to sleep in until the glorious hour of 7 a.m. Shockingly rare.  I enjoyed my coffee and some reading time.  The kids have played nicely and we managed to get a few things organized before we head over to school for lunch duty with Griffin.

I was sitting on the floor watching my daughter accessorize a stuffed elephant when my little guy came over and asked if he could brush my hair.  Sure, why not. 
He started out gently and carefully brushing the back of my hair and gradually became more emboldened until I'm pretty sure he brushed away part of my left ear.  Instead of screaming I started laughing which only caused him to brush harder and crazier.  

He always keeps us on our toes--full of joy and finding adventure in every task and every moment.  His moment of hair-brushing glory ended shortly after encountering this tangle on Maddy's head.  He needs a little more practice in the art of gentleness.

As these simple moments pass, I am reminded that I am fortunate to be home with my sweet babies to cherish these casual mornings.  I am blessed to see the joy in little faces, the discovery of new adventures, and even the tiny disappointments and daily failures.
I love these kids.  I'm thankful for these mornings and know that they are fleeting.  And as the calendar fills and Summer draws near, I'm reminded to "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4. 
Not just sometimes. Always. What a challenge!

**top photos by Maddy, age 5**