Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resolutions or Goals?

At this time of year everyone talks about their resolutions and how long will they last or how long until they break their resolutions. As a kid, my family didn't have resolutions - we had goals. On either New Year's Eve or New Year's Day we would sit down and write out our individual goals for the year for each activity that we were involved with. This meant church, scouts, 4-H, school, etc. we set a goal for each one. Well I have carried this over into my own family, but until this year we have been having family goals so that the boys could learn how to decide what a goal was and as a family we worked at some of our goals from last year, but we failed at some too.
Some of our goals had timing on them and others just had more or less as terms in the written goal. Some of our goals from last year were
- to go bike riding more often (didn't happen as much as we wanted because it seemed our Jeep was in the shop a lot this year)
- Less screen time
- to go Geocaching or Letterboxing twice a month (weather permitting)
- eat more veggies and fruits and try new ones

Now these are just some examples of what we have done. Now this year, Robert will be writing his own goals for the activities that he is involved with. It is amazing how much you can really accomplish if you set the goal out there. For kids (depending on their age) it could be to improve 1 letter grade on report card, to learn to tie their shoes (Garrett's current goal), to learn their address, or to complete a certain level or rank in scouts. These are all things that kids can work to achieve and if they don't succeed this year, there is always next year that maybe they can carry over their goal or continue to work towards. As a parent I do try to encourage the boys to make sure they have goals that are achievable - unlike Garrett who wants to take a vacation to the moon.- I told him that it wasn't available , yet, maybe when he was much older. But I do think that tying his shoes is one that he will be able to achieve if he works at it!

So does your family make goals? How do you help your kids look forward to the things they can achieve?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year's Eve in Salem

This year the Youth from the Lutheran Church will be having a New Year's Eve Square Dance, at the Salem Community Building. The evening starts at 9pm -midnight with refreshments available. They will be having party favors and noise makers for midnight. The admission is $15 a family or $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for kids- so why not come out and support the youth, maybe stay close to home (for some of you) and have a fun evening with the neighborhood!
What a great way to start off 2011!

Kids calendars

Stickers for Christmas and New Year's Eve
This way the kids can count how many days until the event
Both of the boys have calendars somewhere in the house that have all the important dates marked on, but when I first did this with Robert year's ago, I hadn't thought about the fact that he couldn't read. So when I figured out that maybe he was too young to read just yet, we made some changes to the calendar and those changes are what we still put together today. Before we could make those changes I had to pick up a few supplies- rubber stamps and stickers.  I pick up stickers all through the year now especially after a holiday so that they are on sale or clearance. Then sometime during the week between Christmas & New Year's we put together the next year's calendar.  For Garrett, I go through and write in everyone's birthday (boxes aren't quite big enough for his writing),  and some events that he looks forward to like the fair. Now that Robert is older he is responsible for converting birthdates from the old calendar to the new one. Then we get out the stickers and the rubber stamps if there are holidays that we don't have stickers for. We pick certain stickers to represent birthday's(like balloon's) and we have holiday stickers for all of the holidays. The boy's make the decisions as to what the stickers are for. We have crosses for youth group and hiking boots for Cub Scouts. These calendars can always be added to so that they know when soccer practice is or games or when play group and story hour is.

Birthday's this year were marked with firecrackers on this calendar

This is a great way to teach calendar skills, by saying things like, Thanksgiving is the 4th Thursday of November, and seeing which kid can find it first. For Robert it is also great practice in copying information from 1 place to another and to practice spelling people's names who are important to them. For Garrett, he may ask during the year "who has a birthday on tomorrow?" This gives us a chance to sound out the written name. Calendar's are going to be part of their lives in some way, so letting them practice how to use it and making it fun is just part of learning..

Just an idea, I've never done this but I think it might be cool - take pictures of the people that have birthday's on your calendar and them print small pictures on sticker paper so that you would have their picture on their special day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas thank you notes

Well the packages have been opened and the paper has been collected and before it is time to go back to school, I like to have the kids write their thank notes. We will take a day and all sit down at the table with a list of the thank you notes that we all need to write. Depending on the kid and their mood, we sometimes make our thank you notes with rubber stamps, we have used old Christmas and just made thank you post cards, or we have taken stickers or colored pictures and made up our own thank yous. But no matter what type of thank yous you use, it is a very thoughtful idea and a great way to remind the kids to say thank you for things that they receive.

In addition to teaching the kids manners, it is also an easy way to slip in some writing time during the holidays. I usually only ask the kids to write at least 2 lines. A thank you line and this is what I will do with the gift line. If I have the pictures, I try to include a picture of the kid with the gift especially for relatives that live far away or weren't able to be with us when the boys opened the gift.

This can be a fun morning spent with the boys with the last of the Christmas music, a cup of hot chocolate and maybe a few cookies or candies. When we sit down and do it together the boys do it a lot easier and we have a lot more fun.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

We want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and  A Happy & Healthy 2011
May you remember to keep Christ at the center of your Christmas and of the upcoming year!
May God Bless each of you with his blessings!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Ornament list

View DetailsI need to thank my Mom for being forward thinking and starting this tradition because it has meant a lot to me throughout the years. Mom started a list of my Christmas ornaments with a brief description and then who I received it from. Each year there is a list of ornaments and a lot of my ornaments are handmade and from very dear people in my life. I have found that I can share stories about the people each Christmas as we decorate the tree when I start going through my box of ornaments. I have started the same for my kids.
I put their names at the top of the list, then I put the year and start listing their ornaments, each year gets a date and then the list continues. Not only is this great for remembering who the ornament came from, but it makes undecorating the tree great. I have the kids help me take the ornaments off, but we lay them on the couch or chair and then I pack the ornaments up by reading the descriptions. If we can't find one then we start looking all over the tree until we find the ornament. Memories are protected and we will hopefully never loose an important ornament!

Friday, December 17, 2010

How are your to do lists?

I receive a monthly newsletter from Hearts at Home, an organization for stay at home moms and headed by Jill Savage. I just wanted to share her article from this months newsletter, as it reminded me what I need to be doing more often!

So here is the article:
So Christmas is just around the corner. Do you have your baking done? Is your shopping finished? Do you have the house cleaned? Are you packed for traveling?

There are so many things to get done to "do" Christmas. Isn't it time to let go of some of the expectations for a "perfect" Christmas and really enjoy this time with our families?
I'm issuing a challenge to myself today, and to you if you want to take it, to drink in my relationships and let go of my "to do" list for this week. No my gifts aren't all wrapped yet, but I've got a few gifts to give that can't be wrapped.

I want to give the gift of listening today. I want to make sure that when my children and my husband speak to me, I look into their eyes. I want them to feel that they are special. I don't want anyone to feel like they are in the way of what I need to do. They are what I need to do. Lord, let me give the gift of listening today.

I want to give the gift of time today. When my 14 year old asks me to play music with him, I'm going to stop what I am doing to play with him. I once heard the convicting response of a young girl when asked what kind of message she would give to parents from a child's point of view. She responded, "Parents have too many tomorrows. Tomorrow I'll play ball with you. Tomorrow we'll bake cookies together. Tomorrow I will play that game. Most of the time tomorrow never comes." Lord, let me give the gift of time today.

I want to give the gift of touch today. Have you ever gone through the day or the week and realized that you really haven't given out any hugs lately? People have the need to touch and be touched. Our children and teens need hugs from mom and dad daily. I'm going to make sure that my husband gets a bear hug today. When my daughter comes in to tell me a story, I will try to remember to touch her as we interact. Lord, let me give the gift of touch today.

I want to give the gift of encouragement today. I want to make sure I tell my 16-year-old son how much I appreciate the responsibility he has been taking on lately. I want my 14-year-old son to know that I think he has been doing well playing guitar on the worship team. I want my husband to know I greatly appreciate how hard he works to support our family. Sometimes the people we live with receive the least verbal encouragement from us. Lord, let me give the gift of encouragement today.

I want to give the gift of grace today. When my teenagers aren't as excited about decorating Christmas cookies as I want them to be, let me give them grace and respond with love instead of anger. When my husband doesn't clean up the kitchen in the way I was hoping he would, let me respond with grace--seeing what he did rather than what he didn't do. Life-giving grace is about allowing others to be human--to make mistakes without the fear of relationship-robbing anger as the response. Lord, let me give the gift of grace today.

I want to give the gift of Jesus today. Since we are celebrating His birthday, I want to make sure that we invite Him to the celebration. When I'm tempted to skip that Christmas Eve service because I still have too much to do, I will resist that temptation, gather the family, and make sure we take time to worship together. Lord, let me give the gift of Jesus today.

Yes, Christmas is days away. The gifts aren't all wrapped, the food isn't all prepared, and my family will arrive soon. Some things need to be accomplished today. But I want to do them with my family, not for them. I want to give them the kinds of gifts that can't be placed in a box and wrapped in red and green paper.

Come on, join me. Fix yourself a cup of hot chocolate, sit down, put your feet up, and gaze at the Christmas tree lights for a few minutes. Think about the incredible blessings God has given to you. Thank Him. Ponder the gifts that can be given today that don't need to be wrapped. Lord, thank you for the gift of family you have given to me.

Merry Christmas,
Jill Savage
Wife of Mark
Mom to Anne, Evan, Erica, Kolya, and Austin and Nana to Rilyn

Okay so have you thrown away the to do list for tomorrow or are you trying to regroup and figure out how to incorporate the things that need done with your kids as a family project? Just remember the gifts that your family needs rather than what they want this year! If you would like to read or learn more about Jill Savage and her ministry check her out at

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Simple Christmas Tree

As Christmas gets closer so does the excitement and the things that Garrett wants to do. So we made a small Christmas tree yesterday. We took a piece of green construction paper and folded it in half lengthwise. I then drew 1/2 of a Christmas tree. Garrett was then able to follow the lines with scissors (Great practice) and he wasn't really sure what we were doing either so it was kind of fun, when he opened the paper up and saw a tree.
Then I love glitter glue and paint, especially at this time of year, but it is way better than the messy that I made as a kid with glue and glitter. We added a start, with help and then he asked for the tinsel to be drawn on so he could follow it. Then he added the red dots for his decorations.
It's really a quick craft and helps the kids practice several skills, but best of all Garrett had a cool tree to hang up on his clothesline for decorations.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Are you Listening?

Garrett and I were practicing the carols for the Christmas Program at church with the piano yesterday since I knew he was having problems learning some of the words. But I played them through and had him sing the songs for me. Well I now have a new understanding of the Christmas carols thanks to Garrett. The First Noel he has been humming while he was playing and I have heard him singing it, but I guess I wasn't really listening  since he sang the chorus as , "Oh well, oh well, oh well, oh well, born is the king of Israel." (Hum I guess he doesn't really care huh?)  Then we went on to Hark the Herald Angels Sing and I asked him if he knew what those words meant (Big mistake) " No not really but how did Harold get there?" He was asking about Harold the Helicopter from Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. So now you know Garrett doesn't really care that the King was born and is trying to include helicopters in with the angels. Wow will this Christmas be interesting!!!

Sorting Fun and clean up

The other day Garrett and I were cleaning up his Thomas track, that had been up for several days in the corner of the living room, when as we were picking up I asked him to sort and separate the different shapes in the track pieces. I also asked him to make sure that the lengths were the same too. This was just to slow him down a little bit so I could keep up in getting Thomas and accessories back into the Rubbermaid tote for a while. But as I thought about it, what a neat way to practice sorting shapes but also lengths. I got to thinking about all the other toys that we could be doing this with - Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, Pick-up sticks, Lego's (we already put them in by color sometimes). But sometimes you can sneak in some extra practice while you are
cleaning up the toys and it makes learning fun too! Just an idea that I wanted to share, especially since in the next few weeks there will be lots of toys to clean- up!
View Details

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Salem Community Christmas Party

Just wanted to let everyone know that on December 11, yes Saturday - evening from 7-8 will be the community Christmas Party. There will be games, food and maybe even a special visitor. Come enjoy a fun time with community friends

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Live Nativity

Last weekend we had the opportunity to begin the Advent Season by being part of a Live Nativity. Usually we are all participating, but this year I was still recovering from a cold so I did not have a part, but the rest of the family did. This is a wonderful way to be reminded of the REAL meaning and reason of Christmas. To be reminded that the Lord's birth was announced to the lowly shepherds.
And that this announcement came from a herald of angels, that lit up the sky!

But Jesus was born in a dirty, smelly stable and placed in the Manger or the animals feed box

All because there was NO Room for them at the Inn

And then as a young child, Wise Men from the East brought him gifts.

What a great way to start this Christmas Season. If you get a chance to see a Live Nativity, take the time to be reminded of the REAL reason for the Season.

Trip to Kranyak's

Every year during the holiday season we make a trip to Kranyak's. We try to get as much of the family together, especially the kids to go through their Christmas Tree display. I have been going most of my life and I am always amazed at the displays and how each year is different. This year we had quite the group going through as there were 12 of us trying to get through together. This was my niece's 1st year and my cousin's little girl is now old enough to get really excited about it (15 months). We had a fun time and we always take pictures. So here are a few...

Christmas Angel Craft

This craft is fairly simple and only requires a few items. You will need a piece of white Fun Foam, Pen, Glue, Scissors, A Child and A picture of that Child.

First, trace the child's hands  (keep their fingers together) onto the Fun Foam, then trace 1 foot onto the Fun Foam. You will then need to cut these out. You will also want to cut out the face of the child from the picture. I usually just a picture for this craft and print it out of my computer on cardstock, but a real photo will work too.

Now place the foot with the toes pointing down, at the heel area you will glue both hands sticking out to the side like wings, usually I put the thumbs facing up (I think it looks better). Now flip over the Fun Foam and glue on the face. If using a cardstock picture you will want to use a glue stick so as the glue doesn't ruin the picture.

You now have a personalized angel to use as a decoration or as a gift. This can be turned into an ornament with a pipecleaner on the back for a hook. Or you can add magnets to the back so that it can decorate the refrigerator.  Make sure to mark the child's name and age on the back and year on the back for a keepsake.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hunting Season!

Yes in Pennsylvania it is Hunting Season and here it is in full swing, actually it is almost over at my house. Gary got his buck between 9-9:30 Monday morning. This was quite the excitement for the boys. We all had to go check out the deer. Then Gary skinned it and hung it in the garage. Tuesday, Gary & I processed the deer and put the meat through the grinder for ground meat and tonight I am sitting up waiting for the last batch of bologna to finish cooking (so I can go to bed).  So as I said it is almost over here! But what a blessing to be able to put that deer in the freezer. So anyhow here is a pic of Gary's deer with each of the boys, oh and Gary too. Congrats !

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Turkey, Turkey, Turkeys!!!

This summer Gary and I had the opportunity to learn about TURKEYS!!! We had 2 guys in 4-H that wanted to raise turkeys. So they probably taught us more than we ever thought we would know about turkeys. One thing that I learned was that there are many different breeds of turkeys. Heritage turkeys are the ones that we see in picture books and think of when it comes to the Pilgrims, but they are most likely not what you will set on your table for Thanksgiving.  Most commerical turkeys are white tom turkeys. While these provide lots of meat, as a bird they are not nearly as pretty as the Heritage birds. The inset shows 2 different types of Heritage Birds.

This Thanksgiving challenge your thinking and really think about what type of foods were served for that first Thanksgiving. Due to their location there was probably some type of  seafood - most likely fish. There was probably wild game of some type maybe venison, turkey maybe pheasant.  And the things that they had grown over the last year. So what have you grown or made from scratch that you could set on your table? At our house, we usually have corn, potatoes (sometimes home grown if not locally grown)  apple something (dumplings, sauce, or rings that were grown on our trees), we usually have pumpkin something (pie, roll, or just pumpkin with marshmellows on top, that the pumpkins might have been grown here in the garden.) We could do green bean casserole, but usually don't. We have made butter and whipped cream from scratch for the holidays in my butter churn, too. We try to remember where the things come from and are thankful for a good growing season and that ability to store the harvest.

So for turkey fun - have 2 people break the wish bone.
Let the kids make shirts with the hands as the turkeys. The thumb becomes the head and the fingers are the feathers. You can paint the hand brown and then the fingers different colors. Place the hand on a shirt and add an eye and you have a Thanksgiving Shirt.

Take a paper plate and make it into a turkey with feathers coming out one side and draw a head and a snood(the red thing that hangs over the beak) on the center of the plate.

Since the Pilgrims came to Plymouth Rock - find some smooth rocks and use a marker to write names for name cards.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving Thankful Chain

During the month of November we usually have a picture of a cornucopia or last year we had a boat that looked like the Mayflower, that the boys color and then each night we write on the things that we are thankful for throughout the month of November. I have kept the over sized pictures in our decoration box to look back on each year.

Unfortunately, this year at the beginning of the month, I was sick and not really up to begin creative and making sure that the boys were being grateful for the things that we have. So yesterday I decided that I needed to get myself moving and in the thankful mood. I took construction paper and cut it into 1" strips and set them on the table. Before dinner, I told the boys that we were going to have a "Thankful Chain"  this year and that we were a bit behind, but we would be adding to our chain until Thanksgiving. Robert quickly grabbed a pencil and started writing a person's name or thing that he was thankful for. Garrett started telling me the people/things that he was thankful for. In no time at all, we were out of 1" strips and Gary and I hadn't had a chance to write anything down ourselves.  This felt great that the boys are thinking about others and they are aware of the things that they have that others do not. 

Today, I have cut more strips and we have started the "Thankful Chain" that I used as a practice of patterns for Garrett as he and I started putting it together. The strips from yesterday were only in 2 colors, so we practiced a simple repeating pattern with yesterday's chain links. New links have been cut and are sitting on the table for this evenings time of "Thankfulness.' I have challenged the kids not to repeat the things that they have already written down, but they don't have to worry about what someone else has written.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Imagine no Malaria!

animals,bugs,cropped images,cropped pictures,insects,mosquitoes,nature,PNG,transparent background

The statics are frightening - every 30 seconds an African child dies from Malaria. All they did was get bit from a mosquito, and then their future in limited. So what can we do? Do you have an extra $10? For every $10 donated a mosquito net can been given and those nets become life nets! You can pray for those in the African nations that are fighting this battle and those helping them fight! For more information about this deadly disease and the fight to eliminate it visit here  Please join us in the fight to remove this disease from society.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Getting the House Organized!!

Okay, so the blog has taken a back burner while our family (myself included) have had to fight off a few sicknesses that have really taken their toll.
But I wanted to share this really great book that I just finished and it has caused me to take some actions in my house. The title of the book is "The Complete Guide to Getting & Staying Organized" by Karen Ehman.  This isn't a book that tells you how to do it in your home but helps you create a plan for your home and how to manage different areas of your home and family. There are several things that we have already tried and I know that it is going to be slow, but to de-clutter our home 1 room at a time has been great here in the last month. One of the coolest ideas in the book is to have a Mission Statement for being a MOM! What a neat idea - an answer to Why am I here and what am I doing?

But to get started you have to be Honest with yourself, do you really need that item? Have you used that item or are you just keeping it because of who gave it to you? IF you don't love it or don't use it - do you really need it? I have started a box that if I stumble across something that I don't know where to put it and I start asking those questions and I find that I am not really going to use it - it goes into the give away box. This box when it gets full either goes to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or recently we were able to donate to the 4-H Auction. It is so freeing to let go of things that we aren't using or need and get them out of the house and out of our way.
I can hardly wait to start feeling better so that I can continue to de-clutter some additional rooms in our home.  It is amazing how great it makes you feel to be able to see an organized area and know that it looks good!
If you get a chance take time to enjoy this book!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fizzle Balls!

At the Community Halloween Party the past 2 years I have had some type of weird science activity for the kids to be involved with. The recipes have come from a book that the boys have called "Kid Concoctions of Bibical Proportions." You can check out the website at but we made "Fizzle Stones" (I called them Fizzle Balls) ahead of time with small Halloween prizes inside. These are simple and easy to make. For a small batch take 1/4 cup baking soda and add a little bit of water to make it into a dough. Then take the dough and place a small trinket into the dough and roll or press into a ball. You then need to let these dry overnight. Now once they are dry, Fill a glass or bowl with at least 3 cups of vinegar and let the kids carefully drop in the "Fizzle Balls". The reaction causes the foam to overflow and the trinket will be released from the ball. The kids thought this was great, but let me tell you it took about 8 POUNDS of baking soda to make enough for 100 kids (and we didn't use them all!) But the kids had a great time and it is simple science that can be found in your kitchen! Have fun and don't be afraid to make a mess with the kids - just make sure they help clean up too!!!

The Costumes!

Robert as "Buzz Lightyear", Garrett as "Captian Hook", Andrew as "Dirt Bike Rider"

Halloween at our House!

Garrett's Mater Pumpkin

Robert's Pumpkin

OK so having Halloween over a weekend was great here. We actually started on Friday night and went through part of Sunday. Friday night we finally got to carve our pumpkins (Robert had been sick until Thursday and not really up to it) So to get everyone into the mood - we had Spider Pizza. I made dough in the bread machine and made a pizza, but I held back a ball of dough and rolled 8 leads that I placed on top of the pizza and then a small (biscuit sized) ball in the middle of the legs to make a giant spider on top of our pizza.  Then we carved our pumpkins. This year we tried the patterns because Garrett had a Mater pattern for pumpkins. I think this might be the first and only time that we do that! I think it is more fun (and less frustrating) to let the kids be creative and design their own faces of the Jack-O-Lanterns. Robert was a little abstract this year (but he wanted to use the drill to drill holes) and Garrett's is Mater!

Then Breakfast I was at it again. I planned on French toast, that I had cut the bread into shapes of ghosts and pumpkins. I cooked the ghosts first and then added raisins for eyes. Once I had the ghosts cooked, I added orange food coloring to the egg mixture and then made our slightly orange pumpkin French Toast. Lunch we had hot dog mummies (use refrigerated biscuits to wrap hot dogs like a mummy) and Finally for dinner we had stuffed shells, that if you cut cheese to look like teeth, you can make small little monsters looking up at your family from their plates. (teeth-cheese, eyes options mushrooms, olives or we used small pieces of bread crumbs. They were really cute- but in the craziness of my house I forgot to take a picture!  
This is something that Andrew usually joins us for is dinner before the Community Halloween party at Salem. SO we also had green Kiwi Strawberry juice with Sprite in it and called it Witch's Brew.
And then we went to the Halloween Party!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkins and Jack O Lantern's

View ImageFor this month's agriculture info, I chose PUMPKINS! These are a lot of fun to try growing yourself and they are fairly easy to raise. When we lived in IL, we had the a cool opportunity to live near one of the Libby Pumpkin processing plants. As we drove through the area, I was amazed at the giant fields of pumpkins. And then the fact that they use tractors and machines to harvest these huge fields of pumpkins. We ask one of the local farmers how the process worked. He explained, they plant in the spring and then in the fall as the plants are starting to die off the go through the fields with a tractor with a blade on the front, that gently pushed the pumpkins into rows. Then they would come through with a large machine that had a conveyor belt on it and it kind of sucked and picked up the pumpkins. The pumpkins would take a short ride on the belt and then get dropped into a 18 wheeler dump trailer. The pumpkins were then taken to the plant for processing. I guess that I had always thought that pumpkins were picked by hand, but this was an eye opening opportunity.Go to fullsize image

Now have you ever wondered why we make Jack O Lanterns or where they got their name? Well I did some looking and found this story about the History of the Jack O Lantern.
Go to fullsize imagePeople have been making jack-o-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with it ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."
In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack's lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o'lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack o'lanterns. (From the History Channel)

Now cooking and getting kids to eat pumpkin is great for the added vitamin A and beta-carotene. Check out what is in 1 cup of cooked pumpkin!

Pumpkin Nutrition Facts

(1 cup cooked, boiled, drained, without salt)
Calories 49      Protein 2 grams      Carbohydrate 12 grams      Dietary Fiber 3 grams
Calcium 37 mg      Iron 1.4 mg      Magnesium 22 mg      Potassium 564 mg Zinc 1 mg
Selenium .50 mg      Vitamin C 12 mg      Niacin 1 mg      Folate 21 mcg
Vitamin A 2650 IU     Vitamin E 3 mg

With all that goodness in pumpkin we should really try to use it more often than just once a year.
Pumpkin Pudding is always a great way to slip pumpkin into your diet. You can also use this pumpkin pudding to make a Pumpkin Pudding Pie.

Pumpkin Pudding
1 package butterscotch instant pudding
2 cups lowfat milk
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon & nutmeg to taste

Prepare the pudding by adding the milk and mixing/shaking for 1 minute. Stir in the pumpkin and spices. Pour into serving dishes and chill (or into a graham cracker pie crust and chill) Top with a dollop for whipped cream.

Finally this October remember to save those pumpkin seeds! After cleaning your pumpkin, wash the seeds and remove any other the pumpkin guts from the seeds. Then spread them out on a pan and dry in your oven at 200 degrees for several hours. Make sure to stir them often so they don't scorch. Once they are dry, toss the seeds with oil and lightly salt Roast at 250 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Have a great and fun October and enjoy those pumpkins!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Halloween night lite

I have to share this fun quick nite light that the boys & I came up with today. First of all, the Family Fun October issue got me thinking about how you can use those  battery operated tea lites. If you check out look up their "eye see you" idea. They took a pingpong ball , cut a hole in the bottom, used markers to make it look like an eyeball and then put the battery operated tea lite into the hole. They are pretty cool. But I didn't have any plain ping pong balls at my house and I keep forgetting to grab some from the store. But today when the boys and I were going through the Halloween storage box, I found the orange hard plastic pumpkin shaped candy boxes that the boys had gotten candy in a couple of years ago. I looked at them and immediately thought "night lights!" So I measured the light's flame and it is about 3/8". I took the drill and the 3/8" drill bit and drilled a hole in the bottom of the candy box. I then taped the box together on the edges and sat the candy box on the tea light. The boys loved them! And all it took was a 3/8" drill bit and about 10 minutes time(maybe)
Hope you have a safe Halloween!

Easy Sheet Changing idea

I really dislike having to change the sheets on the beds in our house. Several are still up against walls so it makes it a bit harder. But one thing that we have done to make this job a bit easier and a little bit quicker, is to put the sheets for each bed in a plastic bin under the bed they belong on.
This works great for a couple of reasons
            - you don't have to look through all the sheets to find the matching pillowcase
            - you don't have to go to the linen closet ( which would be downstairs ) to get the sheets
            - in the middle of the night it is much quieter to find those sheets than to wake the whole house
            - you can have your "little helper" pull the box out from under the bed while you are pulling off the last sheet and they feel like they are helping
           - older kids (& husbands) won't ask "Where are the sheets?"
          - older kids can reach their sheets and put them on themselves!!
            -You have just gained a lot of space in your storage area!!!!!!
I know this isn't a cool craft or anything earth shattering, but it does save time and space. Please understand I am trying to straighten and organize my home just a bit more and this is one thing that we are keeping the way it is because we have tried other ways and this seems to work the best. So I just thought I would share it with you!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Applebutter -EASY

With it being that time of year for all things fall and cozy. Applebutter always hits the top of my list. The smell of apples and cinnamon throuout the house and then warm applebutter on a slice of toast just makes the day. This is a really super easy recipe for Applebutter.
Start with 12 cups of unsweetened applesauce (I make my own sauce first or you can purchase it at the store to save some time)
Pour into a large ceramic crockpot.
Add 6 cups of sugar (+- depending on how sweet your apples are, I usually use only 4 Cups)
Add 2-3 tsp. cinnamon
Mix well and leave in an open crockpot at least 12 hours on high. Stirring occassionally.
Check with spoon to see if it is done, by dipping spoon into crockpot and seeing if it sticks to the spoon. Applebutter will get very dark colored.
Put into glass jars and Cold water bath process for 20 minutes.

This makes great gifts for any occassion and it really is easy to mix and walk away(except an occassional stir) until it is time to put into jars.

Have fun trying an old favorite!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

God & Family Cub Scout Award

Robert receiving his God & Family pin from his den leader.

Today Robert and his friend Adam, both received their God & Family Awards for Cub Scouts. The boys have worked for 8 weeks with the Pastor on this program. They had to make a pizza with each layer representing different things about their families and how God's Word works into their lives. This was a great program and the boys learned a lot about themselves, their families and most importantly their Lord. Congratulations Robert & Adam.

Pumpkin Patch Pedal Tractor Pull

Andrew pulling - 4 full pulls and all the weights

Garrett pulling 5ft.

Andrew getting his trophy!
Yesterday in Salem they had the Pumpkin Patch, which is a fun day sponsored by the local Lutheran church's. The 4-H club had several games and activities for the kids. One of them was the Pedal Tractor Pull. Robert has aged out of the tractor pulls, but Garrett is just starting. Yesterday Garrett placed 2nd in the 4 yr olds and my nephew Andrew placed 1st in the 7 yr olds. Both of the boys are excited. Andrew got a trophy and in his words -"FINALLY!"

Final Flag Football Game

The boys got their names announced at the end of the game.
(Robert on the right)

Robert on defense going after Austin with the ball. 
OKay so this was a whilrwind of a weekend.  But Saturday night was Robert's last Flag Football game of the season. His team was #2 of all the 3rd & 4th grade teams and last night all the teams got to play on the high school field with LIGHTS! This seems to make it a BIG game for them. Robert's team didn't win last night, but they had a good season and the boys had fun.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pumpkin Patch in Salem

Just wanted you to know that if you are local, Saturday October 16 (tomorrow) will be a day of fun in Salem. There is a pancake & buckwheat cake breakfast until 1. THen at 2 there are going to be kids games, hayrides, pumpkin sling shot and more fun. There is a pumpkin carving contest, Evening Prayer service and then Square Dancing with Jimmy Dittman. SO if your calendar has some open time stop out and join in on the fun!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reading Through the school year

Well earlier this summer we set up pictures of barns and the kids earned their animals for their farm with every book that they read. It seems that the animals have lost their excitment. So today I started taking down the farm - to which Garrett protested, but when I explained that we would do something else, he was alright with taking it down. So today we have enlarged a coloring book picture (with my auction buy of an overhead projector) of a combine and a wagon for Garrett and a tractor and wagon for Robert. The object will be to read enough books to fill the wagons with ears of corn (that they will get to color) for each book.

I have found that having these simple interaction with the books and being able to keep track of how many books they have read is a lot of fun for them and encourages reading. So what are you doing to encourage free reading (school assignments don't count) for your kids this fall?

4-H Awards Dinner results

Okay I bragged a little the other night. Here is a photo of Robert receiving his 2nd award.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

4-H Leader's Dinner & Awards night

Just wanted to brag a little, tonight was the annual 4-H Leader's and Awards dinner. These awards are for kids that do a little extra work and have their books judged an extra time. Well Robert received 2 awards tonight. One for his Goat record book and on for his Geneology Book. Venango's Edge 4-H CLub (Robert's Club) actually had 9 awards tonight - which was actually over half of the awards. Wow what a group of kids!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fire Prevention Month and Drills

Okay so I'm a bit behind the ball as LAST week was National Fire Prevention Week, but around my house it becomes all month and it is all firetrucks and firemen around here. But in all seriousness, making sure that everyone knows how to get out of the house and where to go is SO important. Remember that if you ran the drill last year that your children have grown and maybe the youngest will not need help now, but will need to be reminded that he/she needs to crawl out of the house and they may not remember where to go just because of their age. And just because the oldest knows the drill by heart, you need to make sure that the other kids do too.

Something that I saw last year and was terrified by the outcome, was a television show that had the fire alarm go off while children were sleeping. They had hidden cameras in their rooms and their parents sat in a downstairs room. The fire alarm went off and some of the kids never moved! Others thinking it was their alarm, put their heads under their pillows or pulled the covers over their heads!  For several of the families participating in the show, their children would most likely died of smoke because it took over 12 minutes (I think) for their children to get out of bed and mosey to the downstairs.

This bothered me SO much that we had to try it here. To start with I had talked to the boys about what I had seen on TV and how I hoped that they would be able to tall the difference if they were ever in that situation. Then towards the end of the month, when it wasn't on their minds, we planned an evening drill. We had the kids in bed on time on a Saturday night. Then between 9:30 & 10, Gary pushed the fire alarm test button and I timed the boys at getting themselves downstairs. I was relieved that they both had made it downstairs in under 3 minutes. But because of the show (which I don't remember which show it was) this is a new drill that my family will be doing every year, just so we know what that alarm sounds like, especially when we are sleeping!

Don't forget to change the batteries in those alarms this month too!!!!!!

So does your family have a fire drill? Have you ever tried a nighttime drill? Something to think about trying!!!!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Apple Pie Filling

We have a good crop of apples this year. I tried this recipe last year and we found that we enjoyed this apple pie filling on top of waffles, pancakes, in mountain pies and come to think of it I don't think we ever got to actually having an apple pie. But you can use this how ever you would like, but it is a good way to preserve some of you apples and have quick desserts at your fingertips.

When I am canning I try to involve the boys some how. For apples Robert & Garrett both helped pick the apples with Gary. But since Garrett was home with me he got the opportunity to help peel the apples. I have a peeler/corer and the boys will fight over who gets to help crank and peel the apples. It is so nice to have willing help!

Core, peel and slice enough apples to fill 7 quart jars. Layer the apples into the jars. Then in a pan, combine 6 cups sugar
1 cup cornstarch, 2 tablespoons cinnamon
10 cups of water
Cook until thick. Add 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Pour into jars with apples. Leave 1/4" headspace. This recipe says to Cold water pack for 20 minutes. Makes 7 quarts.

I don't know the recommendations as to if apple pie filling should be cold water packed or packed in a pressure cooker. I know that my pie filling from last year did fine with cold water packing.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Hyper Dash - a great game for Christmas lists!

This was the game of the year for 2007 and we were lucky enough to receive this game as a gift. And we have had a great time with it. The game is called "Hyper Dash"and for more info and a picture you will need to click on this link. . But this game gets everyone up and moving, plus an added benefit is it has taught Garrett his colors and his numbers (1-5 anyhow) and colors: red, blue, yellow, orange and green. But it also teaches the importance of listening to directions. Hyper Dash has 4 different games and several different levels (i'm sure we haven't explored all of the levels) The 5 targets and the wand will fit in a plastic shoebox so it has gone with us on vacation. But this game is versatile enough to play with 1 without all the action or several  players playing on teams in a large field. And the kids just find it fun, but it tests their reaction time and their speed. What a great game to have that gets exercise, listening to directions, speed, colors, numbers and on higher levels math, and easy to care for too! All in 1 game!
So if you are looking for Christmas gifts this might be one that you would want to investigate.  I haven't checked out the other products from this company so I can only speak for the Hyper Dash game and we love it. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Waiting activities

On Saturday we went to the Autumn Leaf Festival Parade. Now the parade doesn't start until noon, but we were there at 9:30am so that we could save seats for the rest of the group that sits with us (we are now up to 17 for our family and there are families that sit beside us, too that we know.) But what do you do with kids while they wait, you can only eat so many times, so we have learned to take a few books with us that all ages can enjoy. The "I SPY" books are great for this kind of waiting time. And the bigger the book the better. We have found that there are 3 or 4 of us looking at a picture trying to find a certain item. And this is something that Garrett at 4 (and he did it last year too) can handle and the boys at 9&10 can handle too. Now the toddlers were a different story, but reading them a story works too. This is just something that we have found helps when we are waiting for an event of this type to start and we know that we will have a long wait. Adding a book or 2 really doesn't take much space or weigh that much when carrying in the blankets and chairs and such. SO enjoy a good book and have some fun the next time you are waiting !

Children's Sermon - Treat God Like Ice Cream!

Well, it has been a while since I have had a children's sermon and this was the weekend. It was a busy weekend too, so I turned to my notebook that I started for Children's Sermon's. This notebook has ideas that come to me at anytime and then I can pick which Children's Sermon sounds good for today. Well I decided yesterday that "Treat God Like Ice Cream" was up for today and here it is.

View Details
So how many of you didn't want to get up this morning on a drizzly, rainy Sunday morning. Just a little tired from all the Autumn Leaf Festival events? Me too. But you know what - what would have you done if mom or dad would have come into your room this morning and said let's go for ice cream! I know that I would have gotten out of bed quickly and would have been ready to walk out the door. I know that ice cream can make us excited about going to get it. But why aren't we excited to hear that it is time to go to church and that we have the opportunity to learn more about God and his teachings? Maybe we need to treat God more like ice cream and be excited about going to "get Some" of God's good news just like we are excited to go get ice cream.
 How about when you get there are you ever amazed at all the flavors to pick from, like when we go to Penn State's Creamery and they make over 100 flavors. Of course they aren't all available at the same time, but oh the flavors that they have! But I know that I went to Renninger's this summer and I was amazed at the size of a SMALL cone - it really isn't small. (To which the kids agreed that they are really big cones) So once again are we able to treat God like ice cream and be amazed at what he has done? Are you amazed by the colors of the fall leaves or by when he answers your prayer (remember he doesn't always answer the way we want), or by the world that he has made all around us? So shouldn't we be amazed by God just like we are amazed by the flavors of ice cream. Do you know they make Sweet potato ice cream and avocado ice cream? I found it on the Internet.
And finally how do you eat your ice cream? Do you eat it by taking 1 lick and coming back later or do you eat it all right now and can't wait until you get more? If we took a lick and came back later it would be melted and a mess. But when you are done with ice cream would you eat more in an hour? How about tomorrow? OF COURSE - I know that I would. So why don't we treat God that way?  Should we come to church on Sunday and get a little "lick" and then wait again until next week or should we enjoy everything we get to be involved with on Sunday and then make sure that we spend some time with God on Monday and Tuesday, and Wednesday ad Thursday and Friday and Saturday and then be excited to go to church again on Sunday. That would be like getting ice cream everyday! (wouldn't that be cool?)
So we need to treat God like Ice Cream:
1. We need to be excited that we get to learn about him - just like we are excited that we are going to get ice cream
2. We need to be amazed at everything that God does around us- just like we are amazed by the number of flavors that we could get or the size of the cones that we receive.
3. We need to enjoy worshipping God when the opportunity comes and have the desire to have some time to worship or spend time with God - just like we enjoy eating our ice cream and then desire more.
So the next time you have an ice cream cone think about the ways it is like the way we should be treating God!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

International Ataxia Day

National Ataxia Foundation

Today I want to take the time to help make those reading this blog more aware of Ataxia. This is condition that my nephew, Andrew, suffers from the effects. This condition has so many different faces that it is hard to diagonois and still remains difficult to treat.
Here is some information about Ataxia from the National Ataxia Foundation

What is ataxia?

Ataxia means clumsiness of movement or loss of coordination that is not the result of muscle
weakness. The word “ataxia” might be used simply to mean poor coordination, or it might be used in a more
specific way to denote a degenerative disease of the nervous system. Ataxia may affect the fingers and
hands, the arms or legs, the body, speech or eye movements. This loss of coordination may be caused
by a number of different medical or neurological conditions. For this reason, it is important that a
person with ataxia seek medical attention to determine the underlying cause of the symptom and
to receive the appropriate treatment.

What causes ataxia?
Most often ataxia is caused by loss of function in the part of the brain, the cerebellum, which serves as the
coordination center. The cerebellum is located toward the back and lower part of the brain. The right side
of the cerebellum controls coordination on the right side of the body and the left side controls
coordination on the left. The central part of the cerebellum controls the very complex movements of
gait or walking, head and trunk stability and eye movements. Other parts of the cerebellum help to
coordinate eye movements, speech and swallowing. Ataxia may also be caused by dysfunction of the
pathways leading into and out of the cerebellum. Information comes into the cerebellum from the
spinal cord, inner ear and other parts of the brain and signals from the cerebellum go out to the spinal cord
and to the brain. Although the cerebellum does not directly control strength, (motor function) or feeling,
(sensory function) the motor sensory pathways must work properly to provide the correct input into the
cerebellum. Thus, a person with impaired strength or sensation may notice clumsiness or poor
coordination, and the doctor may say that person has ataxia.

If you would want to know more about Ataxia and the things they are doing to help find a cure or at least medications to help please visit the website
This might be something that you don't deal with, but there are people suffering from this everyday and they are suffering without a lot of media for a cure. Thanks

Flag Football Season

Robert on the run

Robert centering the ball

On defense - catch up with her!
Okay Flag Football season has 4 games in, so we are about 1/2 way through and Robert seems to be enjoying the season and he is playing well. Today he had a run that was almost a touchdown but he stepped out of bounds. Then they came back and he did make a touchdown. He had at least 4 flags that he pulled for the stop. His team seems to be more of a throwing team, which we are still working on catching on the run really well, but he is doing well with the running and getting to where he wants to go when he has the ball.

Monarch Butterfly Hatched

Both chrysalis opened within 24 hours of each other

These are our Monarch butterflies that we have been feeding and watching through the life cycle. They both opened within 24 hours of each other and then we released them together on Friday afternoon. Something neat that I learned this time through the process of watching these caterpillars/butterflies is that you can tell the difference between male and female and in the photo above you can actually see 1 of each. The male is the upper butterfly and th female is the lower one. If you look at the bottom wing of the male butterfly you will see a black spot on one of the lines in the wing, this is how you can tell if it is a male or not. See we really can still learn new things each day! Just remember that like the butterfly it takes a lot of time, patience and trials sometimes to become the beautiful thing that God wants us to be!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Agriculture Education and other fun things

Since I was raised on a farm and Gary works on a farm, agriculture is our way of life. I believe that it helps us remain grounded in what we do. We get to see the miracles of life in many forms, from the birth of a calf to the sprouting of the seeds, we see the cycle all around us. With that in mind, I have been wanting to add something new to my blog and that is an agriculture activity or link to an activity to help people understand different aspects of farming and what is really going on, as farms become more modern and we see less of the farms that have a few chickens, a few cows and a couple of pigs. Specialized farms are what are now and are pretty much here to stay. 

Silage chopping

So for this month, around here it is time to harvest the corn. Some of the corn in our area is harvested in 3 different ways. The first is when the corn is still a little bit green in the stalks and a tractor, corn chopper and wagon go through the fields. There are also the self-propelled choppers that will harvest too. The corn that is harvested this way will be stored in the tall silos or in a silage bunk or bag. This will be corn silage and used as feed for the animals. 

Combine shelling corn
In a couple of weeks the corn will continue to dry or start looking dead. Then there are 2 ways to finish the harvesting of corn. One is to bring in a combine and when the combine goes through they are shelling the corn. They will just have the corn kernels to store when the combine is done. The other way to harvest corn is with a corn picker. This is a machine that will pick the ears of corn off the stalks and the ears of corn are stored in a corn crib.
harvesting ear corn with a corn picker

Most of the sweet corn is already done in this area, but there are still fun things to do with corn. If you get a chance, The Amazing corn maze in Lucinda, Pa is a lot of fun and this year they have made it 3 acres bigger!
So if you get a chance to spend some time with corn, check it out. IF you can't get to the corn maze, try something simple at home maybe carmel popcorn or just use the old hot air popper and watch what the kids do with that (especially if they have only had microwave popcorn!)  There are some great corn coloring pages available at check under "fall."

Let me know if you enjoy knowing more about agriculture and ways to show it to your kids and ways to enjoy it in the many different seasons.