learning

What Snow Patrol and Phil Collins reminded me.

We're less than 24 hrs away from getting off of this moving roller coaster ride. But last night, as I was driving the kids home from their AWANA awards ceremony (which we used to live just directly across the street from...it was surreal to drive 35 mins.north after being so used to such a ridiculously short drive) the stress of tying up loose ends and the emotional parts of taking those final things out of your first home overwhelmed me once again. As the tears began to flow, I was filled with both thankfulness and hate. Thankfulness because of how God has done all of the moving in this process...beginning to finish. And hate, because as I look back, I'm slightly embarrassed at how I've handled these past three months.

As stress has compounded over each new card that's been dealt to us, I've found that my faith is a lot weaker than I thought. My patience a lot more thin, sometimes it resembled tissue paper. And my plate was piled higher than I could manage to carry efficiently.

20140605-141555-51355137.jpg

I'm a notorious station flipper while driving. I'm so picky about what I listen to and I will flip, flip, flip through until something catches my attention. I stumbled upon a familiar melody but I couldn't quite catch what song it was until about 10 seconds in. It was a Snow Patrol song from about 10 years ago. One of my favorites. Coming from one of my favorite albums while in college. Snow Patrol is like catching up with an old friend. And as I was listening, I automatically think back to a time when I really thought my life was stressful. I thought that 18 credit hours, marching band, having no money, keeping up with a long distance relationship, and being in spiritual leadership was too much sometimes. I thought paper writing, keeping up friends and staying up late working on a group project was a lot.

But in comparison to now, well, there really isn't any grounds for comparison. What I thought was stressful as an older teen/early twenty-something really was just a lot of circus-like juggling. It was leisure and deadlines and staying up wayyyy too late and waking up early. Sure, some aspects of college can be overwhelming, but I was understandably naive about what real adulthood held. And I took this time for granted. And I thank God and Snow Patrol for the reminder last night.

Coincidentally, immediately after Snow Patrol, one of my favorite songs from childhood came on sung by the notorious Phil Collins. I still love Phil Collins. His music is timeless and almost every song reminds me of the time when I was almost completely innocent. In fact, when I hear anything Phil Collins, I think of those times when my dad would have the garage up and his songs would be blaring through that ugly giant brown radio he had. I would ride my bike up and down our gravel driveway and swing on our metal swingset at dusk with corn fields all around.

20140605-141555-51355185.jpg

That time too, I took for granted. I've always been the type that looked forward to the next thing, the next stage, the next birthday. I wanted to grow up so badly...so quickly. I wanted to be an adult and stay up late and make my own rules and have my own house.

Never fully satisfied with whatever stage of life I'm in, I constantly look forward to the next thing...the next event on the calendar, the next time I get to _________ [fill-in-the-blank].

So I regret. I regret the time I wasted looking ahead when I should've been savoring the now. Even now, I regret the many consecutive days these past few months I spent allowing this process consume my heart, my attitude, my thoughts, my emotions. I regret it all. Because now, 3 months later I am left with a version of myself that I do not like. A battered and bruised, exhausted and drained type of me.

I'm thankful for the reminder the radio gave me last night. That whatever season of life you're presently living through, that you be all there. That even through the stress and trials, you don't lose focus on what He (God) has for you in this time. That you would be so taken with Him that you have no reason to look within yourself. To miss yourself entirely would be ideal because once we begin to look at ourselves, selfishness, pity, and possibly depression may come in the midst of these times of trouble.

Lesson learned. Next time, I hope I pass.

Love, Alicia

St.Patrick's Day Activities!

20140317-144603.jpg

I love to celebrate every holiday with my kiddos. And since we homeschool, I love getting creative and taking a day off of the normal lesson routine to observe and hopefully convey effectively the importance of each special day. Every year on this day, I always do a fun "green" only meal. Whether it's green pancakes and green milk with green butter and green syrup, or a plate filled with various naturally/unnaturally green items, my kids love it!

Here's what we did today for lunch:

20140317-140652.jpg

Food colored some cinnamon applesauce, pickle spear, popcorn with green M&M minis, raw organic broccoli with slightly colored green ranch veggie dip, and I tried my hardest to "paint" a four leaf clover on a piece of sliced provolone. They ate it all up and loved how silly it was. Other ideas for green foods would be celery, green apple slices, kiwi, honeydew, sweet green peppers, veggie straws, etc. And as long as you have green food coloring, you can pretty much make anything turn green. :)

For some school fun I made up three quick games, one for each level academically that I have. You can make these games more difficult if you have older ones.

color sort

For Miss Avery, I quickly cut out six circles and placed them in a regular sized muffin tin. I took a marker for each color of the rainbow and colored one color per circle then placed a circle in each tin.

20140317-141350.jpg

I had some various rainbow colored puff balls and put them in a separate container for her to pull from.

20140317-141517.jpg

She had a blast naming all of the colors and sorting all of the balls into the correct color tins. This activity is great for an older toddler or young preschooler like Avery. This kept her busy (she did it over and over again) for a while. And it's practical enough to keep for another day....or a moment when she is simply into everything.

20140317-143943.jpg

rainbow addition

For Carter, my 5 year old Kindergartener, I made up a game that would encourage some extra addition practice. He enjoyed this game so much that I just may make a more extensive version and include subtraction.

I was in a hurry when I made these games. I literally did it all in twenty minutes because the kids were excited for new activities and Olivia was threatening to reorganize the entire homeschool closet as I was using it. So I used what I had in front of me. In this case, I took 3 red solo cups and had some leftover rainbow stickers from Olivia's rainbow birthday party (go here for that post) and just simply stuck them on each cup. I then wrote with a sharpie a number on each cup that would represent a possible answer. I took rainbow Popsicle sticks (you can buy a pack of many at the Dollar Tree) and wrote a simple addition problem on each one that equaled to one of the answers on one of the cups.

20140317-142413.jpg

20140317-142445.jpg

Carter then had to mentally answer each problem on each stick and place that stick in the correct cup. He had so much fun and got faster as he went along.

20140317-142611.jpg

pot 'o gold syllable sort

For my first grader, Hunter, I wanted a game that encouraged reading, vocabulary, and syllable counting. I took a white sheet of paper and glued the edges of two yellow pots (glue edges ONLY!!!), sprinkled them with a bit of gold glitter, and put a number on each. I took the same rainbowy Popsicle sticks that I used with Carter's game and wrote St.Patrick's Day related one and two syllable words. Hunter then had to clap while saying each word aloud and sort the sticks into their respective pots of gold. He, too, had a lot of fun with this game and it gave us an opportunity to discuss some of the words that he didn't know of before.

20140317-143129.jpg

20140317-143155.jpg

Add in a fun history lesson about how amazing St.Patrick was and what the big deal is about this Irish holiday and I'd say you just had yourself a "pinch-free", super fun holiday with your kiddos.

Now it's back to laundry and to ice that triple chocolate fudge cake that has absolutely nothing to do with St.Patrick's Day aside from the fact that I need chocolate.

Love, Alicia

Racecar Math

Thought I would share with y'all an easy math activity I quickly pulled together this morning [before all the chaos erupted]. For this activity you will need: Construction paper Sharpie Decent road drawing skills while using that sharpie :) Hot wheel car A small stack of addition or subtraction flash cards Counters (for the little guys just starting with addition/subtraction)

I made Hunters road go up to twenty, Carter's only to ten since he hasn't learned adding past ten as the answer.

20140106-145827.jpg

I have gave each boy appropriate flash cards that would equal amounts available on their roads. Carter got the easier cards and Hunter, slightly harder. Usually the dollar spot at Target sells packs of these as does the dollar store.

20140106-150138.jpg

I offered Carter some counters to help aid in him solving the problem on each card. Cuisinaire rods work great, we also use centimeter cubes and chocolate chips, marshmallows, cereal, crackers....the sky's the limit when it comes to counters.

20140106-150152.jpg

When either of them would find the answer, they were to drive their car to that number on their road. It was a fun, non-boring way to review math facts and a great first fun activity to start our school day.

What are some of your favorite math activities to do with your kids?

Alicia