Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Game That Has No Name

OK, I confess... despite playing this game with my children for years, I've never given it a name. I always just tell my little ones, "Go get the oatmeal container game". So, if after watching this video, you come up with a snazzy name for this versatile game for younger children, please share it with me!

This game made with items from around the house, can be used to teach numbers, colors, letter sounds, word families, math and more! I've even used it to tell Bible stories. So, check out the video and then let me know how you used this game to enjoy some quality learning time with your little ones:
Here's a link to purchase a magnetic wand like the one I use in the video:
(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Full House Fun

Hey, hey... the cob webs are cleared out and the lights are back on here on my blog as I start a series of fun learning games you can play with your children. I've been home schooling for over 15 years now and as we've changed curriculum, co-ops and even states, one thing has been consistently successful for our family: learning games! However, learning games aren't just for home schoolers. Teachers can use them in the class room and parents can use them to enjoy quality time with their children while helping them grasp an educational concept.

Many children get bored with traditional teaching methods so adding a few games in the mix really engages children and opens their minds to practice and retain information at fast rates!

So, for our first game, I'll introduce you to a multiplication game called, "Who's On Top?" "Who's On Top?" is from the RightStart Math book called Math Games.  This book is full of creative, fun and challenging games for math. (While links I post are affiliate links, meaning I will receive a commission from purchases made through these links, this book has been a go-to resource in our house for over a decade and that's the real reason I'm posting about it!). RightStart also sells the materials needed for this game but you can even make it yourself if you like. I chose to buy the cards because they're glossy, slide apart easily and last a loooong time- well worth the few dollars.

Alrighty, time to watch my short video to learn how to play "Who's On Top":

Sunday, November 26, 2017

How to Paint Faux Shiplap Walls

I love the look of shiplap and barn board but I don't love the expense or the time involved in getting that look. So, I decided to get the look faster and without the high cost by painting my walls to look like boards and I believe that this technique is so easy that anyone can do it (it only cost me $4!!)! Here's the how to video:

Good luck and have fun transforming your walls! 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Mommy Mates


The abrupt voice interrupted the private concert that was going on in my head to Journey's "Open Arms" that was playing on the Post Office speaker system. 

I approached the desk with a big smile and friendly greeting. 

"What can I do for you?", came the emotionless question and response.

My friendly approach failed to break the doldrums of her day but as she weighed my package and asked me to verify that I wasn't sending bombs through the mail, her phone lit up and on the screen were five beautiful brown children. I don't know if it's socially acceptable to take a peek at someone's phone and then ask them about what you've seen but I went there.

"Are those your children?"

 She eagerly grabbed her phone and took it out of lock screen so she could show off her four handsome boys and their princess of a  baby sister and instantly the counter between us seemed to disappear and we were just two moms talking about Mom Life. I doted, she exuded pride. This is what moms do.

Then I told her that I have 8 children and with a gorgeous smile she said, "I feel like we're Mommy Mates." We laughed together (while other people in line probably grew impatient) and she want on... "You know, people see all my kids and they're like, oh my gosh! But you know because you're there."

Yes, I know. 
 We know. 

We know that while there may be things in our culture that separate us today, there are more things that bind us together. We share goals for our children, pride for who they are, insecurities as moms, and the desire for our children to grow up free from fear. We share because we're both raising humans. And we want our humans to grow up and be able to impact this world for the better.

When all of this black vs. blue vs. white is exploding in the streets around us, I'm reminded that we all have the same goals. We all want to live and to thrive. Unfortunately, we all don't have the same method for getting us to those goals and that's where it gets difficult. 

But today. 

Today it was easy. All it took was a smile and some story swapping. Some interest in others' lives and some tying of the heart strings. I know the big picture isn't nearly as simple as this but what if the big picture was made up of many thousands of pictures like this. What then?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Life Line

The setting is my 88-year-old grandmother's house. The curtains are drawn, the carpet is shaggy and the only noise is the rhythmic squeak of her walker. Grannie is walking laps around the small living room. Every half lap or so, she stops to draw in a couple deep breaths and gathers the strength to finish the lap. Her frame is frail and stooped. And following behind is her great granddaughter, my daughter Libby. Libby has been walking laps with Grannie for 6 weeks now. She has devoted her entire summer to move in and give much needed care to her great grandmother.

 Part of that care involves the nightly rounds in the living room. Before they begin, Libby helps Grannie get up from her wheelchair and makes sure she's steady at her walker. Then she wheels over the oxygen tank and gently puts the oxygen tubes to her great grandmother's nose and carefully loops them around her ears. She sweetly let's her great grannie know that they're ready and before long, they're off. As they head into their first turn, Grannie lifts her head and smiles at me as she jokes,"this is our marathon."

Lap after lap, Grannie leads and, pulling the oxygen tank, Libby diligently follows, the two generations tethered by a tube. Grannie paves the way and Libby follows. They're going steady and they're connected.

Such is the circle of life. One generation leads and the other is to follow. The connection between them serves as a life line, just like the oxygen.

Lead Grannie, lead. And follow, Libby follow. The way has been paved for you. Run your marathon.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Two Abortions at Age 16: The Other Side of the Story

Two days ago I read this Yahoo article about Chelsea Handler and her decision to have two abortions at age 16. I won't go into all I'm feeling after reading the article where she upholds her decision and even gives props to her parents for talking her out of her initial decision to carry to term. I would encourage you instead to read it and then read the fictional letter to Ms. Handler from her child to see how this story could have gone had she made a different choice:

An open letter to my birth mom:

Today is my sixteenth birthday. For as long as I can remember, I've known I was adopted but today my parents told me that you were the same age as I am now when you found out you were pregnant with me. That must have been so difficult. I can't imagine how hard it was to decide what to do about me.

My parents also told me today that at first, you decided to have an abortion. It seemed like the only way out, I'm sure. I mean, having a baby is hard and being pregnant at my age... just wow. The thought overwhelms me.

I just have to say thank you for changing your mind. I don't know what made you turn your car around that day and cancel your appointment but thank you. Thank you for going through the humiliation of everyone knowing.. and seeing, that you were pregnant. Thank you for enduring the swollen feet and stretch marks (sorry!). And thank you for laboring for me. Thank you giving me life and then choosing to give me a better life by giving me up for adoption.

I have had a great life so far. 16 birthday parties. Dance recitals. School plays. Bedtime stories. Sleep overs. The parents you chose for me have loved me unconditionally which isn't always easy to do to a teenager! They couldn't have children, you know, so what you did for me was also a gift for them.

I don't know what you've done with your life- hey, you could be famous for all I know- but I do know that deciding to keep me was your greatest contribution to this world. Because through me, your beautiful blue eyes and infectious smile live on (my parents told me I got them from you:).

Your Daughter,
Giovana (It means "Gift from God")

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Your Kiss

Today, shortly after the sun made it's debut, you kissed me good morning and I was reminded that no one could kiss me good morning like you do. Your morning kiss doesn't just say," Good morning." Behind the kiss, which is usually on the forehead, whispers something more...

You've kissed me good morning a thousand times. There was the, "I can't believe we ran off and got married yesterday", kiss. And 8 of those, " I'm so excited that we found out yesterday that we're expecting!" kisses. One of those was shortly followed by an, " I'm so sorry we lost the baby," kiss but the other seven of those kisses were followed months later by the, "Are we gonna have a baby today?" kisses. You gave me a sad, prolonged, "I'm sorry we have to wake up today without Isaiah," kiss. But over a year later, we also got to have the, "Today's the day we go to the courthouse and make the adoption final," kiss.

You've kissed me good morning with nursing, newborn babies snuggled between us and those kisses often said, "I'm so glad you're home with our children."

Your morning peck has meant...

I'm sorry about yesterday.
I'll miss you today.
I wish I didn't have to leave you today.
I believe in you.
You've got this.

The kiss that said, "Wake up. It's time to go to the hospital for your brain surgery," was quivering, yet strong. Your 5 a.m. kiss that said,"Today's the day we go in for your heart surgery," told me you'd be by my side through yet another long and difficult recovery.  Your familiar kiss has also awakened me from deep, drug-induced sleep following a few major surgeries.

Some days have ended in defeat and some in victory. Days have closed with us not talking and some have ended in deep sorrow. And, with 8 children, everyday has ended with exhaustion. Yet, almost every day has started with your good morning kiss.

Don't ever worry about another catching my eye or earning my affection because every piece of my heart knows that no one could kiss me good morning like you. That's because, deep down, I know that your good morning kiss doesn't just mean Good Morning. It really means Good Life. And it takes a lot more than a kiss to have that.