Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Devotional for Kids - Joseph's Coat of Many Colors

"Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
Joseph had a dream and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more." Genesis 37:1-5

"When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?" His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind." Genesis 37:10-11

The story of Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors is a well known Bible story among children. His father Jacob, loving him more than any other son, gave him a beautiful coat. It was just a coat wasn't it? Why did his brothers hate him so much for getting a nice coat? Did it really make that much of a difference?

Yes, it was a very big deal to Joseph and his brothers not because of a nice coat but what it represented. This gift was Jacob's (Israel's) way of showing that Joseph was to succeed him as the leader of the family. Traditionally it would have been the first born son, in this case Reuben, who would be expected to receive the birthright and all the possessions and responsibilities that went with it. Not only did Jacob pass over Reuben to receive the birthright but he also passed over Joseph's nine other brothers. No wonder they hated Joseph.

They really shouldn't have put so much on Joseph should they? After all, it wasn't his choice to receive the birthright. No it wasn't his choice but Joseph did do a little bragging that didn't help matters much. After he received the Coat of Many Colors he realized the position he was now chosen for. He also had the gift of dreams (Genesis 37:5-9) that further predicted his position over the rest of his family. The problem, the thing that really pushed his brothers buttons was that he bragged about it. His own father rebuked him for his arrogance(Genesis 37:10). God may have chosen Joseph to receive the gift of dreams and to be the leader of the family but he definitely didn't want him to brag about these gifts!

Have you ever been like Joseph? Have you ever bragged about a special gift you have? Singing, sports, drawing? Or have you ever thought yourself better than someone else because of something you have? A new Ipod, nice clothes or a new toy? Does having these things really make you better than someone else?

Today rather than thinking about what you can do or what you have concentrate on others and their gifts. How boring would life be if we were all the same? God has blessed our loves with a variety of different people with different gifts and abilities. Rather than feeling envy or jealousy for someone else let's try to be happy for their gifts and enjoy them together.

Dear God, Thank you for all the gifts and blessings you have given to everyone. Help me to remember the differences in people make a truly wonderful world to live in. Amen.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Joseph's Coat of Many Colored Play Dough

About one Sunday a month I am in charge of our Children's Church class for 2-8 year olds to attend during the minister's sermon. Usually I try to talk about some Bible story and tie in a craft to go with it...snacks help too! This week we talked about Joseph and his Coat of Many Colors. Sometimes it is hard to come up with a suitable craft that will be suitable for a variety of ages as well as keeping them busy for the whole time. I try to stay away from coloring pages because that just gets old after a while for the kids and for me. After our story we talked about what we thought Joseph's coat looked like. I passed out a simple outline, on cardstock, of what Joseph may have looked like and then the kids had the freedom to create their own Coat of Many Colors. I offered up crayons and markers as well as Play Dough, scrap fabric and paper, and yarn.

Here are some works in progress and the last photo shows the finished products!

This was one of the more successful crafts I have done with the kids. All of them were engaged in their work and surprisingly quiet. The variety of materials really fostered their creativity without limiting that of the older kids.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Banana Peanut Butter Wrap for kids to make!

As parents we are always on the lookout for ways to foster independence in our children, right? I mean, really, none of us are wanting to be tying our kids shoes forever. Same with feeding them ....what a task! It seems every time I turn around someone in this house is hungry! What are they, growing or something? I remember this snack from my own childhood. I was the oldest of seven growing up and there were many times we made our own lunches and snacks and boy, did we go through the jars of peanut butter!! We learned independence in our house or we starved.

I recently taught my boys how to make this snack on their own. Spread peanut butter and jelly on a whole wheat tortilla. Then roll it around a banana. Eat and go! Yes, it is a little messy at first...okay, okay VERY messy for a five year old to make. How else will they get better, or cleaner, if they don't practice. Plus, if I begin to foster this love of cooking early once they are teenagers they'll want to do all the cooking! I can dream can't I?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Crafters ADD

My husband laughs at me. Well, he laughs at me for a lot of reasons but he teases me the most about my "projects" being spread all over the house. I have knitting projects, embroidery projects, sewing projects, drawing and painting projects - all in progress. We won't even go into my cooking projects! There Then I have the stashes of craft materials for those projects I have yet to begin or the supplies for projects I can't do while my kids are small. Like the carving chisels I have stashed away from my college days when I carved a buffalo. I can't exactly have those laying around two five year old boys who use anything and everything as a weapon against one another. Could you imagine the damage they could do? Of course they have their own artsy crafty stash of markers, stickers, paint, glue...I really think they have better supplies than I do!

Where was I? Oh, yeah...Crafters ADD. I have it. Working only on one project from beginning to end is unfathomable to me. I get bored with knitting so I draw for a while. Or I'm riding in the car so I work on a small project like embroidery. I'm one of those people who has to have something to do..all...the...time! I'm starting to rethink this whole blog idea. Do I really need another project??? Sure..why not?

I blame it on my mother (isn't that the classic Freudian response) because she is the same way. Now that all of her kids are out of the house her projects are bigger and take up more poor dad! Basket making, blacksmithing (if you can believe it), sewing, tatting. Whenever I am at Mom's house I get these eerie feelings that someday this will be my future. Stuff EVERYWHERE and my husband tripping over it. But I can change my destiny right? I don't have to become like my mother, do I? Do I? Let's take a look at the evidence of my house and you be the judge.

Yep...I'm doomed to be my like my mother. At least I'll never be bored!

P.S.- My sister just called. She is sending me wool roving and the plans to make a drop spindle to learn to spin my own yarn. Ssshhh...don't tell my husband.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Beef and Vegetable Stew

I made up this stew last week and it was so yummy, especially with cornbread. A good way to keep warm on these cold nights and it cooked up a lot quicker than I expected.

Beef and Vegetable Stew

1 beeef chuck roast cut into cubes
1 t kosher salt (regular salt will work too)
1 t pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
2 t of oil and a pat of butter
2 quarts of water
10 beef bouillon cubes or a quart of beef broth
4-5 potatoes
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 an onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 can tomato sauce
10 beef bouillon cubes
3 T of flour

Fill a quart jar with water and add the bouillon cubes, bring to a boil in the microwave to dissolve. Dice up beef. Putin ziploc bag with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Shake till meat is covered. Heat oil and butter in bottom of soup pot. Add beef and cook till browned. Add onion and celery, cook till clear. Add veggies, broth, tomato sauce and 1 qt. water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes. Remove 1 cup of liquid and allow to cool. Whisk in flour to thicken and return to pot to simmer for another 30 minutes.

The first time I made this I was a bit too generous with the salt. If that happens to you add sugar 1 or 2 teaspoons at a time to combat the extra salt.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wind Fun for Kids - How Wind Works!

I really wanted to know something more about wind turbines since we live so close to so many. I know they are a clean, renewable source of energy. But how do they work? Where do they work best? How does wind work? (I also realized I know nothing about wind.) Why can't we have wind turbines all over the country? As I started doing some research into wind and wind turbines and wind farms I decided this would be a good time to do some fun activities with my boys to educate us all on wind! So hang on while I sweep you off your feet with our wind activities!!

I found this wonderful website on energy which I definitely plan on using to do more activities with the boys. We started off reading this story about Wendy and her wizard father and how she asks him to stop the wind. Without the wind, the world is a dark and cold place because the sun is gone. We need the sun to have wind! Then we discussed how hot air rises (like a hot air balloon) and cool air takes its place and makes wind. (Ha! So that's how wind works!) We broke out our globe and talked about different places where it may be windier than others; tops of mountains, along the ocean coast, etc. We even found the picture of windmills in the ocean! Very Cool!

The template at this site helped us to see hot air at work. This snake was a lot of fun! When you hold the snake over heat the hot air will make it slither. This candle really didn't produce enough heat so I held it over my gas stove. Sorry, no photo of that..I was afraid I'd catch my arm on fire trying to take a picture!!

Then the boys made pinwheels out of some card stock and pinned them to the eraser end of a pencil. (I decided later we should have glued each blade to the center of the pinwheel first. They would have worked better.)

Right after they cut the four "blades", before pinning them to the center, we tried blowing on it. Of course it didn't work. After pinning the blades to the center we blew again on it to see the difference. Then we discussed how this blade design "catches" the wind. At this point we did a little experiment. I showed them a picture of an "egg-beater" windmill and other older types of windmills. I then asked the boys to try to change their pinwheel to make it work better. This was fun because they attacked this idea with gusto. They flattened, bent and cut the blades with some interesting results. We also tried designs from a circle and a triangle to make the pinwheel.

This has been a lot of fun with some great visuals of just how wind energy works. The boys have been creating pinwheels, (and a mess of scrap paper on the kitchen floor). Maybe next will be a field trip to the base of a windmill. Of course, I'm not sure what we'll learn there except they are really, really big!! And maybe that trespassing is against the law. Now that I'm thinking about it a field trip to a windmill probably shouldn't be a spur of the moment decision. What do you think?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pancakes Your Husband Won't Eat

Well, maybe your husband will eat them but not mine. These are not white pancakes. These are not tasteless, bland pancakes. These are not boring pancakes. Therefore, my husband won't eat them. Since he is unwilling to sample my culinary masterpieces (snort) he'll never know what he is missing. I usually make these pancakes for dinner when my husband will be working late or is out of town. The boys call them "Mommy Pancakes" and prefer them over "Daddy pancakes" (ha!) I don't usually measure the ingredients but play it by sight. I did my best here to give you a fairly accurate recipe. These are pretty dense and are not light and fluffy, but they do have a great texture.

Multi Grain Fruit Puree Pancakes

1/3 cups Quick Oats
1/3 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 cups White Flour
1/3 cups Cornmeal
1 or 2 eggs
1 cup Milk
1 cup Applesauce or canned pumpkin or any pureed fruit
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 or 2 teaspoons cinnamon (or nutmeg, cloves, adventurous with spices)
1 Tablespoon or more of Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder

Mix it all together. Add more milk or applesauce or pumpkin to thin the batter if needed. Fry up! Serve warm with a little butter and honey or peanut butter and honey or applesauce or pancake syrup or (seeing a pattern here?) throw whatever you want on top of these bad boys!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Devotions for Children - Be a Watchman

From Bible Devotions for Bedtime by Daniel Partner.

O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray to the Lord day and night for the fulfillment of his promises. Take no rest, all you who pray. Give the Lord no rest until he makes Jerusalem the object of praise throughout the earth. Isaiah 62:6-7

Policemen watch over our towns and cities. They try to make sure that nothing bad happens to us. In ancient Israel, policemen were called watchmen - because teh time between sunset and sunrise was divided into three watches. Each watch hada different watchmen, so someone had to stay up all night to watch the city and keep it safe from enemies.

The Bible says that God has set watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem. these are not the actual watchmen who kept an eye on Jerusalem - they are Christians who pray. Wouldn't you like to be a watchman like that? They don't shout that enemies are coming - they pray to God until He makes Jerusalem a thing of praise in the earth. that happens when Jesus comes back.

We don't have to be strong or famous to pray like this. Small prayers are important prayers. A person who says to God, "Lord, I love YOu,' has said something very important. Someone who can stop and say, "Thank You," to God has done something very special. You could be that person!

Dear God, Help me tho thank You in prayer every day!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Deceptively Simple Games to Play Anywhere

I don't like winter...there, got that out of the way! I know so people who love waking up to new snow and are excited by the prospect of cuddling up in a blanket on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate to watch a good movie. Not me. I have been aching to spend time outside.

However the weather hasn't cooperated much this winter. It's always been too icy or windy or down right cold. Now normally this wouldn't bother me at all. I'd just put on an extra shirt, two pairs of gloves and head out! But I can't really justify dragging my kids outside just because I want to be outdoors. I've even stopped checking the weather forecast because it never depressing.

It's gotten to the point though I have to do something to keep my boys occupied quietly, at least part of the day, or my couch won't survive. I'm pretty sure they view it as their very own trampoline/diving board.

If your family is like mine you probably have a pile of board games gathering dust; Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, Checkers are just a few of what makes up our pile. However these aren't too handy to take to church or a restaurant or other public places when you need a quick way to keep your kids busy. I've found a couple of games that are very simple to set up and play anywhere. They are deceptively simple to set up and play but in reality take a bit of strategy to win.

The first is Seega, an ancient Egyptian board game. The board is nine squares similar to tic-tac-toe. The game begins with pieces placed as above. Players take it in turns to move one of their pieces either one or two squares in a straight line on the board. Players can move in any direction but cannot pass over another piece.

The winner of the games is the first player to get their three pieces in a straight line,(diagonal included), other than the starting line. You may laugh at such an easy looking game but my five year old son Yap beats me on a regular basis!

The second game is Mu Torere from New Zealand. The game board is a star and can be a six or eight pointed star. Each player needs half as many markers as there are points to the star. Theoretically, I suppose, you could have as many points on your star as you wish as long as it is an even number.

And should be set up like this to begin. One players pieces on one side and the others on the opposite. Simple.

The first player to move must move an outside piece to the center.

The next player moves a marker to the empty point of the star.The players take turns moving their markers from one star point to another or from a star point to the center of the star. The players can't skip over markers. There can't be two markers on one point at the same time. A player can move only from one point to an adjacent free point or to the center if it is free.

Your strategy is to block your opponent (like above) by getting your markers on the points surrounding your opponent's markers and by having one marker in the center. When that happens, your opponent cannot move and is blocked from play. That's how you win at Mu Torere. My son was so excited to learn this game and has been teaching anyone who is slightly interested how to play! (Math Wizardry for Kids)

These games could be played anywhere; at the beach drawn in the sand with some rocks or on a piece of paper with a handful of coins. I like the simplicity of these games and yet both games can get kids of any age thinking and problem solving. Hope these games come in handy for you and your family!

Friday, February 19, 2010

How to Make Indian Mocassins with your kids...The EASY way!

A while back the boys were reading some book about Native Americans or maybe it was some story with Indians in it. I can't even remember what the book was about but I do remember it had pictures of Indians in it and they were wearing brightly colored mocassins. As we were reading, Yip asks with that lovely smile of his that I can't resist, "Mommy, will you make me a pair of mocassins?" Groan... At the time I was still very sleep deprived from a newborn and really had no energy to spend making two pair of mocassins. (Got twins? Gotta make two of everything!) Then a light bulb went on. Someone had given me a bunch of glittery fabric paint that I had no intention of using. I hate glitter...I think it's an art teacher thing but we'll get into that later. On the other hand it was too good to get rid of so I had just stashed it away. So I dug it out and along with a couple pairs of socks, stuffed the socks with cardboard and the boys created their own Indian mocassins! They were happy to have something new to dress up in. I was happy they were busy without too much effort on my part. Plus I rid my closet of crafty stuff taking up space!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Multi-Grain Bread Machine Recipe

Last summer I bought myself a bread machine for my birthday. I wasn't too sure how I'd like it because I had a few friends that didn't like theirs at all. I've learned to love mine! In fact, I made all my siblings loaves of peanut butter bread for Christmas. Peanut Butter bread is very yummy toasted with jelly!

There are tons of websites with bread machine recipes but I never found too many 2 lb. multi grain recipes that I liked. With a bit of trial and error, of course, I came up with my own.

A great texture!

Multi-Grain Bread

Place following ingredients in bread machine in order. Use whole wheat or dark white setting. Makes a 2 lb. loaf.

1 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
2 Tablespoons flax seed
1/4 cup honey
3 teaspoons bread machine yeast


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Meet my little Yahoo

This is my little girl right after she was born but now she's eleven months old. When I was pregnant I secretly hoped it would be a girl. Now that I have her.....I don't know what to do with her! Little girls are definitely different than little boys.

I have learned dressing a little girl isn't so easy. You want everything to look good together. Boys? Jeans, shirt, tennis shoes in shades of blue and brown always look good together..good to go. Girls clothes come in so many colors! Pinks, peaches, purple, lavender, yellow, greens. Once you have the color coordinated then you have to get her print coordinated! Girls clothes are covered with stripes, flowers, polka dots, whatever pattern the manufacturer could throw on there. You don't want to put polka dots with stripes or the kid will look like a clown. The dress has to match the shoes, the shoes has to look nice with the tights. Speaking of tights! I put a dress on her last spring when it was still cool and realized I had to cover this poor baby's legs up...but with what? They have pantyhose for babies? Really? I vaguely remember wearing something like this as a child but after four girls I think my mother gave up and we went bare legged. After searching all over Wal-Mart (cuz that's the only place to shop in my town) I finally found some baby tights. Dressing this kid has been an education!

I'm not sure going to all the trouble of dressing her like a sweet little girl is going to be worth it though. She loves being outside and whoever heard of a sweet little girl terrorizing the dog and eating grass? I am convinced she is going to be rough and tough. And why not? She has two older brothers who have pushed her over, slammed their bedroom door on her fingers and are constantly taking toys away from her. And we haven't had to deal with those three boy cousins much yet. Who knows what they have in store for her down the road!

She is sweet though. It makes me giggle inside to see her hug her baby dolls, so affectionate. She hugs and kisses and cuddles much more than my boys did at this age. Are all girls like that I wonder? For over five years I have lived the rough and tumble life of boys. Now with Yahoo here I am getting to play with dolls calmly! I don't think the word calm is in little boys vernacular. Or maybe I just have a preconceived stereotypical notion of what a little girl should be and maybe that idea is wrong. Or maybe every little girl is different. Who knows?

What worries my husband though is not his "little" girl but what she will become when she is a "big" girl. How will she dress? Will she wear makeup? Will she want to wear a thong when she's a teenager? These are his most pressing worries about her now..ha. I do remember my adolescence and he's in for a bumpy ride!

Though she is young and her personality is still developing and there is a lot to learn about raising a girl, I'm coming to realize her most admirable quality is her sense of humor. Loving to laugh she finds ways to entertain herself. She loves to be tickled and teased. I love to tickle and tease her too because when I do this is the face I get.

So this is my girl...tougher than raising boys? I'm still trying to decide but I'm having a lots of girly fun in the process.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Parenting Books I Love!!

I feel a bit weird blogging about parenting books. After all, my parents raised seven kids without reading parenting books, that I know of, and we turned out okay...I guess. No one told me parenting would involve so many issues which parents are totally unqualified for! Therefore why not learn as many tips, tricks and strategies as possible. We have at least eighteen years at this job...we need to be prepared!

So here are my three favorite parenting books!

Happiest Baby on the Block

Every pregnant mother should have this book and read it on the way to the hospital! Okay, maybe a few weeks before. When my daughter was only a few weeks old she became colicky to the point if she was awake, then she was crying. I remember myself actually cringing when I heard her wake up. Luckily I contacted a friend who's baby had severe colic and she rushed me this book. This book covers only the first three months of a baby's life and the evolution theory of human babies being born too soon. The five "S"s; swaddling, side laying, swinging, shushing, sucking. It was a lifesaver!! After reading this book I could get my daughter to calm down within seconds. If you are pregnant...Get...This...Book!

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

I like this book because it doesn't only discuss babies and sleep but discusses sleep with children up to the teenage years. For example, studies show 16 year olds need more sleep than 14 year olds. It also helps get little kids into good sleep habits and helps prevent tantrums at bedtime. This book was lent to me by a friend of mine when my twins were about eighteen months old. At the time, I thought my boys were sleeping fine but I read the book, made one small change to their sleep schedule and suddenly they were much nicer little boys. They were overtired and cranky and I hadn't even realized it. Over the years I have given away copies of this book to lots of mothers and keep a copy for myself to refer to every few months.

If Your Kid Eats This Book, Everything Will Still Be Okay: How to Know if Your Child's Injury or Illness Is Really an Emergency

The title of this book caught my attention at the library one day and I read it only for that reason. This book was written by an emergency room doctor with a specialty in pediatrics. She focuses mostly on children too young to communicate how they feel so 3 or 4 years and younger. This book taught me that I freaked out way too much when my boys were younger. When my son was learning to walk and fell with a spoon in his mouth and jammed it to the back of his throat? Yeah, I shouldn't have taken him to the emergency room. Also parents worry way too much about high temperatures in little kids. A good reference when deciding whether to ignore the blood, call the doctor or rush to the hospital in your pajamas.

I'm no expert on parenting and probably never will be but I'm a sucker for a book that makes it all easier. So tell me, what are your favorite parenting books? Do you have one I need to read? We're all in this together!

Monday, February 15, 2010

How to Make a Toddler's Dress from a Fleece Sweatshirt

A while back my very thoughtful husband found some size large adult fleece sweatshirts at a consignment shop. Since he knew I was making diapers he bought them thinking I could put them to use. Sadly, I tore the sweatshirts all apart just to find out they weren't really big enough to use for the size large diapers I was making.

Here I was with all this perfectly good cut up fleece. I couldn't throw it away!! A pile of fleece sat on my craft table for a few weeks until one day when I was moving things around I picked up one of the sleeves I had cut from the sweatshirt and Light Bulb!! I designed some warm fleece dresses for my 11 month old daughter.

Silly me..I didn't have a blog when I made these dresses so of course I didn't take step by step photos. I have tried to draw up some diagrams to show exactly what to do. This is a very easy project with very little finishing to do since you utilize the finished edges of the sweatshirt for the finished edges of the baby's dress.

The first step is to draw up a pattern for the toddler's sleeve that looks similar to the diagram below.

The first dress I made, the red and grey one, I only used rectangle shape for the sleeve and it just didn't fit quite right so I used a sleeve like the diagram above for the blue and grey dress.

Next, cut the sleeves off the adult sweatshirt right along the shoulder seam and then cut along the underarm seam from armpit to wrist on each sleeve. When laid out flat it should look like this. The adult sleeves will be the front and back of the dress.

If you have any scrap fabric you can applique a design on the front. I simply zigzagged around the hearts using scrap fleece. My son Yip actually designed the layout for the blue dress. I'm raising a little Calvin Klein!

Next lay the sleeve pattern along the bottom finished edge of the sweatshirt and cut out two. As the drawing shows you'll be using the white parts of the sweatshirt for the dress.

With the wrong sides of the front and back together sew shoulder seams using a 1/4" seam. This edge is already finished. Using any wider than 1/4" will result in a very bulky shoulder seam and neckline but this way you won't have to worry about finishing the neckline. Leave about a 7 inch opening for the neck hole.

Now find the center top of the sleeves and match to the shoulder seams. Sew sleeves on to dress so when laid out flat the dress looks like this.

Turn right sides together and sew underarm seams and side seams with 1/4" seam. You don't have to finish the sleeve hem because it is uses the finished edge of the sweatshirt. Now finish the hem. For the grey dress I simply turned the edge under 1/2" but I added some scrap fleece to the bottom of the blue dress.

I used a size large sweatshirt and it fits my 11 month old. I'm guessing that an x-large may fit a 18 month or 2 year old girl. You might want to just play around with different size sweatshirts to see what works. The average cost of each of these dresses was about three dollars. This dress could easily be made in a day or so. A nice, warm and cuddly dress for winter! This has inspired me to try to use the same idea for a summer dress without the sleeves. I'll keep you posted on my progress!
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