Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Science Expiraments that Work!!

As part of Faith's kindergarten curriculum, we do a science experiment each week.  Some are better than others, and some work better than others!  Since we have been learning all about plants and seeds and how they grow, a recent experiment was to grow some bean plants.  While I was skeptical as to how they would grow in our science lab/kitchen, they actually did really well!  The directions called for Faith to put water in the jar, a paper towel, and some bean seeds about half way into the jar.  And sure enough, about a week later  we could see roots diving for the bottom and stems reaching for the top!  The above picture is 12 days after we first put the seeds in the jar.  Faith of course has been thrilled each day to see the growth of her bean plants!

Since we had such great success, we decided today to transplant our bean plants into some soil to see if they will continue to grow!  Faith was a huge help to moving the plants into some dirt.  We both were amazed at how many roots had developed in just 12 days!  We are excited to see how they continue to grow! 

It is great to see Faith learning so much, and for the active learning that she is able to do through science.  I am so thankful for her eagerness to learn, for a curriculum that encourages her to learn so much, and for science experiments that work so well!!

Knotts Berry Farm

Yesterday we spent the day at Knotts Berry Farm.  The park extended their special deal for police officers and firefighters, so we took advantage of that!  Plus, our good friends, the Taylors, had the day off of school and wanted to join us!  The weather was great and the lines were short - making for a great day at Knotts!  In the above picture, Faith is enjoying a little breakfast and watching a roller coaster before entering the park!

The kids all went on this ride first.  Even though just a month ago Shane loved the ride, he screamed in fear the entire time!!  I love the contrasting expressions between Shane and Faith!  He is scared and crying while she is just loving it!  What is funny too is that in general, Faith is the more cautious one, but loves all rides and roller coasters.  While Shane is more adventurous in general, but he is way more cautious with rides!

Faith and Chloe on the plane!  Those two had quite a bit of fun riding the rides together! 

Some of the girls strolling through the park! 
Lucy, Emma and Faith

After sitting out for a few rides, Shane finally decided he wanted to go on the race cars!  He and I had so much fun together.  And we are trying to look crazy as Steve took our picture!

Faith discovered this new, tasty treat called cotton candy!

Chloe and Shane always have so much fun together!!

On this crazy water ride is Jim, Steve, Conner, and Emma!  The Taylor crew was seated in the front row and got pretty soaked!  Steve in the second row came away mostly dry! 

It was a fun-filled day with friends!  We are thankful for our friendship with the Taylors and the way our kids all get along so well and have so much fun together!  We are looking forward to going camping with them in the desert in a few weeks!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A little peace and happiness!

This afternoon we experienced one of those moments where the kids played so nicely together!  There was no fighting.  There was no one getting mad.  They were actually having lots of fun together!  I love those moments!  It is wonderful to see the kids getting along well, sharing, taking turns, and being kind to one another.  And all this translates into a little bit of peace and happiness for myself!!!  I don't have to be in referee mode, but I can be in happy mom mode.  I wish this was how all day every day went, but the reality is, if we have one of these moments a day that is great!  And sometimes it lasts for only five minutes, and on other days the peace and happiness can last much longer - like an hour or so!  Those are really great days!  As the kids grow older, they are playing much better together more often, which is good on all levels. 

Today, I am thankful that they were able to play soccer outside together very nicely for awhile, and then even came in a played a card game together.  They can be so sweet to each other...at times!!  But even if it is only for five minutes, I really cherish those five minutes!

This was another great moment from yesterday.  We went for a walk at the beach, and the kids just had to stop and watch the waves for a few moments! 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Homemade Applesauce!

One of the things I "discovered" this winter was a recipe for applesauce in the crock pot!  Since I just love to use the crock pot (a necessity with young kids in my opinion!!), finding the recipe was a treasure.  Then, when both of the kids just loved the finished product, it became a staple in our house.  I love that it is easy to make, provides a fruit side dish for dinner when fresh fruit is more pricey, and that it makes my whole house smell just fab the day I make it! 

Today was one of those more challenging days with the kids.  Shane in particular was pretty grouchy, and it just made for a long day.  Having the fragrant applesauce filling the house helped make the day just a little brighter!  Once again, it often is those little things in life that add a little sparkle to a day! Today I am grateful for easy, crock pot applesauce!

For those who are curious, this is the recipe that I make!


Read more about it at www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1612,159177-247203,00.html
Content Copyright © 2012 Cooks.com - All rights reserved.
10 lg. cooking apples, peeled, cored & sliced or cut in chunks
1/2 c. water
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 to 1 c. sugar

Put all ingredients into crock pot. Should be about 3/4 full. Cover and cook on low 8 to 10 hours (high 3 to 4 hours).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ice Cream on a warm afternoon...

Is there anything better on a warm afternoon than a little ice cream??  Maybe surprising the kids by taking them to ice cream on a warm afternoon??!!  It is so fun to give the kids unexpected treats that you know they are going to love!  Today, since it was warm out and they have been behaving quite well lately, I surprised the kids by taking them to get some ice cream at Tutti Frutti!  We were on our way back home from Kindermusik, and when I bypassed our house, they were really worried that I had somehow missed the house!  But when I mentioned the idea of ice cream, they shouted with glee!  It was too cute!

One of the reasons the kids especially love Tutti Frutti is that it is one of those frozen yogurt places where you serve yourself.  They love picking their flavor and then two toppings (I have to create a limit!!) and helping me with both those things!  What fun for a kid.  And while they enjoyed their ice cream, I enjoyed the smiles on their faces and the simple things that bring them such excitement!  Today I am thankful for the fun, surprising things we can do with our fun kids!

This was the sunset the other night that I captured from our driveway with my phone!  It was just gorgeous!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Today I am thankful for my MOPS group!  For those readers not in the know, MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers.  It is a world-wide organization that connects moms who have preschool aged and younger children.  And it really is a group for the moms as we have the chance to talk, eat breakfast together, and hear from a speaker while the kids enjoy playing in a nursery.  Since Faith was five months old, I have been involved in a local MOPS group.  It has blessed my life immensely as all of my close friends in Ventura are from MOPS!!  On my very first day attending MOPS, one of the moms at my table told me how great MOPS was and how all of her close friends were from MOPS.  Now, five years later, she is one of my closest friends!  Amazing how that works!

While I still need to be encouraged as a mom, what I love about MOPS now that I am the coordinator is hearing how much it blesses and encourages the moms in the group.  A number of moms shared with me this morning at our meeting how much they need MOPS and how it is just such a great thing in their life.  I am so thankful for what this group means to me, and what it means to so many moms throughout the entire world!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Marla the Mermaid

Today's adventures took us to the park to visit Marla the Mermaid!  It was a fun, interactive, and very informative field trip with some of our home school friends!  The kids (and adults!) learned about many different animals in the ocean - crab, otter, octopus, seal, dolphin, and many types of whales.  Learning how different types of whales eat was a highlight for Faith and Shane!  Along with pretending to put on blubber so we could swim with Marla into the ocean!

In addition of teaching the kids about the animals, Marla also shared about the effects of trash and pollution on each of the animals.  In the picture above, Faith is helping remove the plastic soda six pack holder thing from an elephant seal. 

There were many hands-on activities for the kids.  Shane was most excited about the sea life finger puppets!  Particularly the crab and the seahorse!  It really is pretty amazing that there are opportunities to learn so many things right at the park up the road from our house!  Today I am thankful for fun learning opportunities and that those opportunities are so easily available! 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A little humor!

What would life be like without a little humor?!  I know that I need that, especially being a mom!  I found a poem today that combines the two.  And being an English major, of course I love finding great poems.  Or at least in this case funny ones!

If you give a mom a break, she'll decide it would be nice to read a book.
As she sits down to read her book, she'll remember that she likes to drink hot chocolate while reading.

When she goes to make the hot chocolate, she'll decide to do a quick load of dishes while it heats up.

When the dishes are done, she'll decide that the counters need a quick wipe-down.

As she wipes down the counters, she'll find a stack of school papers to fill out.

She'll sit down to fill out the papers, and realize she can't find a pen.

She'll go to the office to get a pen and see the stack of bills to pay.

After she sits down and pays the bills and does the paperwork, she'll set it all on the kitchen counter, and see the dishrag still laying there.

So, she'll take it down to the laundry, where she will decide to throw a load of laundry in.

By the time she comes upstairs to get her book and hot chocolate, the hot chocolate will be cold.

She'll decide to skip the hot chocolate (better for the waistline) and read in a hot bath instead.

So, she'll go to draw the bath and find the tub full of toys. She'll empty it out, and notice it needs to be cleaned.

So, she'll clean up the tub quick, and also the toilet, since the cleaners are all out.

Finally, she'll start to fill the tub with water for her hot bath. Just as she does, her husband and kids will come home. The hot (now cold) chocolate will be consumed by one child, while the other gets in the tub. And, she'll realize that she really needs a break.

Am I the only one who has days like this??!!  I am guessing not!  But it is great to be able to laugh at how crazy we can be or how crazy our days can be!  Tonight I am grateful for humor, especially humor in motherhood!  And of course great mom friends to share in that humor.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I fondly remember watching The Muppets on television on Saturday nights!  Naturally, I would have a bath and then get to watch The Muppets before bed!  When I saw that the current Muppet movie was at the cheap movie theater, I knew I would take the kids to see it!  It was supposed to rain all day today, so I thought it would be a perfect day to go to the movies.  Well, it rained all morning, but the sun came out by lunch time.  Since I had told the kids that if it rained we would go to the movie, we went! 

It was fun to see those crazy characters from my childhood.  And it was fun to see the kids enjoy the movie and hear who their favorite Muppets were!  Today I am thankful for the opportunity to share some of my own childhood memories with the kids, and I am thankful for the cheap movie theater!!  Such a great place to take kids!  It was a fun afternoon, and maybe they will have their own Muppet memories!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Story of Joseph

For the past few years, I have been doing a Read Through the Bible in a Year Plan. It's really a pretty neat plan as the reading for each day includes something from the Old Testament, the New Testament, a Psalm, and a verse or two from Proverbs.  I am always glad it is not just straight through the Bible when I am in the midst of some of the more challenging books such as Leviticus, Numbers, or Ezekiel!!  And I am always amazed at what I forget from year to year, and what stories stick out some years more than others.

Right now I am reading the story of Joseph in the Old Testament.  It is always one of my favorites!!  As I have read through the much of the story, I am once again amazed at all Joseph endured!  I am sure that Joseph's life went nothing like he thought it should.  And yet, it went perfectly according to God's plan.  He was sold by his brothers.  He was jailed and falsely accused of a crime.  Hardly what I would consider a good time!  And yet, so often the story is viewed as "that's just how it went!" We tend to remove the humanity from the story, put in our own perspective of time, and just accept what happened.  And yet, as I was reading, I could not help but wonder Joseph's thoughts as he was sold as a slave and began life in Egypt, and then later was imprisoned for over two years.  He must have questioned what in the world God was doing!  I know I would have!

I love that stories like Joseph's are in the Bible.  So often our lives don't go according to our plan.  And in our frustration and disappointment, it can be hard to understand how what is happening is part of God's plan for our life.  And yet, it is!!  It may take weeks, months, years, or until we get to Heaven to understand the full picture of God's plan.  But we have to trust that His plan is always what is best as He already sees the big picture.  He knows how our story will end.  And in the end, Joseph saw how God worked through all those horrific events in his life to complete God's purpose for his life and for the lives of so many others.  Tonight I am grateful for Bible stories such as Joseph, that are amazing stories, and can help in our lives today!  What a gift that is!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Elliptical Excitement

This morning at the gym, there was a little extra excitement to my workout!  The LA Fitness I go to got brand new Elliptical machines!  For someone who primarily uses an elliptical as the means for cardio exercise, this is exciting!  Well, at least it was for me!  Not only did I feel the workout was better on the new machine, but the magazine holder (a crucial aspect of working out is being able to read a magazine!!) was greatly improved, and there was a special spot for my phone (aka iPod!), which made the whole reading the magazine and listening to music thing easier!  And did I mention, of all the members at LA Fitness, I was the very first one to use a new machine??!!  I know, so exciting!!  But really, it once again shows that it is often the little things in life or in your day that can make a difference and be exciting! 

My gratitude today is not just in the new elliptical, but in all those small joys that we have in each day!  And in celebrating those little joys!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Afternoon Pick-me-up!

Who doesn't need a little pick-me-up in the afternoon??  Especially when you have little kids?!  While I typically go for a diet Pepsi, it is always exciting to have a fun pick-me-up, which is usually Starbucks!!  Today we took the kids to Starbucks for a small treat, and more importantly, a caffeine drink for Steve and I!  Amazing what it does for the rest of the day!  While small and seemingly insignificant, it really does wonders!  Today, and honestly most days, I love those little moments in the afternoon that spur me on for the rest of the day!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Walk at the Beach

With the kids returning to full health (finally!!), we took advantage of the beautiful January afternoon and went for a walk at the beach!  It has been a while since we have been to our favorite beach walking spot, and it was great to be back!  It is always so beautiful!!  The kids did really well; it is once again clear to us that they are getting older! 

They did take a few breaks to explore the rocks, dirt, and branches!

We made it all the way to our ending point of the bridge, which the kids love to walk under to explore the rocks!  Also, on our way back we spotted a pod of dolphins riding the waves and playing in the water!  It was amazing to see how close to shore they were!  I quizzed Faith on some dolphin facts as we read about them in our science book just last week.  I love it when we learn something in school, and then have a real life experience soon after!!

This was a pre-walk picture.  Nothing brings the kids together like the iPad!

It is always great to have Steve home with us as he was today!  I love being able to take advantage of having him home as well as a beautiful day!  So today I am thankful for the opportunity to walk by the beach as a family!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Date Night!

It was on a Friday night, exactly eight years ago that Steve and I went on our first date!  It was a blind date, to be exact!  Our mutual friends, Jim and Karlene Taylor, set us up, and after talking to Steve on the phone I figured a date would be a good thing.  And it was!  On our first date, we went to see a movie in Seal Beach and out to Hennesy's for a drink afterwards.  While the above picture obviously was not from that first date (it would be actually pretty strange if we had one from that first date!), but it lead to this picture!  I am so grateful for Steve, and that he continued to want to date me, then marry me, and continue to date me!  Date nights are the best nights!  I could go on and on about how much I love them and how important I think it is to date your spouse, but I may save that for another post!  Instead, I am going to bask in my gratitude for that first date that Steve and I had, and that we didn't stop dating once we were married, but continue to go out and have fun with each other! I love you Steve!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tim Tebow

Yup, it's true, we are Tim Tebow fans!  And like many others, we are fans of who he is as a person not just who he is on the football field.  Today, I am thankful for the example that he is to me and to my kids as well. 

Opening the sports section of the newspaper on any given day, one is bound to read about an athlete who is in trouble with the law.  And while they are the extreme, there are enough of them that we are pretty used to it by now.  Insert Tim Tebow.  While there are many other Christian pro athletes, Tim has been labeled as extreme.  And in the eyes of many, he is.  He continually puts others ahead of himself.  Most people view that as extreme.  He is unrelenting in giving glory to Jesus Christ for his accomplishments, taking none of the glory for what he does.  Again, many see this as extreme for anyone to do, let alone a pro athlete!  And yet it is what God calls each of us to do on a daily basis.  Whether we play in the NFL or are a teacher or work in the business world or are a stay-at-home mom, we are called to think of others before ourselves and to acknowledge God in all we do.  I know I need to be reminded of that, especially as I try to instill those values into my children.  I am thankful for the example that he sets, and to be able to use him as an example to my kids as I share with them some of the tangible, current things he does to live his life for Christ.  Is he perfect?  No!  Are any of us?  No!  But he does do admirable things. 

This morning, I read the following article, that once again highlighted some of what I described above.  Reilly: I believe in Tim Tebow  This world would be a better place if more people boldly lived out their faith as Tebow does. As I strive to do that, it is an encouragement to see someone who does so, when it would be so easy to take pride in himself and not live out his faith, especially given all the criticism he receives for doing so.  Thank you, Tim Tebow, for the example and encouragement you are!

Friday, January 13, 2012


Technology great be pretty amazing...most of the time!  After reading with Faith about how laundry was done 150 years ago, I was thankful for a washing machine!  I can't imagine having to do what those women did just to wash clothing!  Then, Steve showed me an article from Consumer Reports Money Adviser.  In the article were the top money saving apps to have on your iPhone.  While time will only tell how great they will actually be, there was one in particular that I thought was amazing.  It's called Cellfire, and it allows you to input your savings cards for the different grocery stores at which you shop.  Once that is done, there are coupons that you can select and put onto the savings card.  What this means, is that upon swiping that card at the grocery store, your coupons are automatically used if you bought the product!  No more clipping coupons.  No more leaving them at home.  And especially no more forgetting to hand the coupons to the cashier!  I just love it!!  Today I am thankful for those advances in technology that simplify my life!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A beautiful January Day!

There is just something great about a sunny day!  Waking up to sunlight squeezing into the house is just a great way to awaken!  Today is one of those days.  It is sunny, beautiful blue skies, clear mountain and ocean view - just perfect!  It is one of those days that even when driving around in the car one cannot help but notice the beauty of the surroundings!  And since this is unusual for January, at least in many parts of the country, I am especially grateful for the warm sunshine today!  And the ability to be outside without a jacket!  It is a great boost to whatever the day holds when sunshine accompanies the day!


Technically, I was supposed to post this yesterday, but oh well!!  The sentiment remains the same; I am grateful for friends!  While I don't think they are taken for granted by me, there are moments in life that remind you how important and special those friends are. 
Tuesday night Faith had Awana and Steve was at work.  Shane was still not feeling well enough to go, but I underestimated how sick he was still feeling!  Around dinner time I realized that he was going to need to go to bed - soon!!  So, I went on a frantic search for a babysitter to come over so I could leave Shane sleeping in bed when I had to pick Faith up at 8pm.  Everyone was busy.  On to the two neighbors we know.  Not available.  Time to be creative.  And by this time, we had brought Faith to Awana (Shane fell asleep in the car!) and come back home (again, he fell asleep!), and he was in bed sleeping at 6:10pm.  So I reached out to my local friends.  And it worked for a friend to come and sit at my house so I could pick up Faith.  What a relief!  And it was comforting to know that I have so many friends who would help as I know I would be willing do to the same for them.  At times, it can be challenging having no family members live nearby.  But that is where those quality friends act like family and help you in your moments of need!  I am so thankful for all my friends!  What a blessing each one is in my life!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I am the first to admit that flexibility/spontaneity don't exactly come easily to me!!  While motherhood has definitely helped me grow in my ability to be flexible, it still can be difficult at times!  So today I am grateful for a spontaneous moment we had this morning. 

On a typical morning, we go through our normal morning routine so that we can start school at 8:30am.  But upon waking this morning, Faith asked me to help her finish the puzzle we have been working on.  She received a 750 piece puzzle for Christmas, and we made great progress on it yesterday.  Even though I knew that finishing the puzzle would put us behind schedule for the day, I am glad that I had enough sense to say, "Sure Faith!!  Let's finish it!!" 

And we did!!  Since I really enjoy puzzles, the two of us had great fun working on this puzzle together!  It's a great reminder to me too that sometimes the schedule needs to be put on hold to have a special moment with the kids.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fresh Starts

I love the idea of fresh starts.  And I love that each day is a fresh start in way, and that the beginning of each year can be one as well.  New goals.  A new chance to to do something better.  To me, each day and each year come with that feeling of refreshment.  While one still may have to deal with ramifications of past days or years, the newness brings excitement and hope. 

For me, today has a January 1 feel to it!  We are back from Michigan, the year has started, I am unpacked, the weekend is over, and I am ready to tackle all my goals for the new year!  Today is my fresh start for the year!  I even ate a salad for lunch!!  While I have many goals, hopes, and dreams for the upcoming year, I am excited to what it shall bring. 

One of my points of emphasis for 2012 is gratitude.  I want to find something each day for which to give thanks. It's not that I have been feeling ungrateful, but sometimes I get caught up in the busyness of the day and miss some of the small, yet significant joys in each day.  And I have decided to document those moments of thankfulness on the blog.  I contemplated creating a separate blog for it, but one of my other goals for the year is keeping things simple!  So for those readers who only like to see our family updates and pictures (I will still be doing those!!), you can bypass my gratitude posts!  But maybe it may cause others to find joy in the midst of every day life. For not every day is good, but there is some good in every day!

So on my January 1, 2012, I am grateful for a new year and a fresh start!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Catching up from Christmas!!

The holidays are officially over...all the decorations are down, we are back from our trip to Michigan, and it time to get back to reality!  Since there is so much to share about our trip to Michigan, here are some of the highlights...

We took the red-eye flight, and once again the kids were great!!  They slept the entire time, and loved pulling their own suitcases through the airports!  Shane received many compliments and comments about his suitcase as well as his choice of pjs!!

Upon landing in Grand Rapids, it was snowing!!  Shane asked me, "Is that REAL snow, mommy?"  He soon found out that it was, and that it is very cold!!  Faith loves the snow!!  While I recovered from the flight (since I did not do any sleeping!), Aunt Betsy played out in the snow with Faith! 

The snow did not last long as the temperatures rose, so Faith took advantage of that and pulled out the bike Grandma Bruinsma has for her and rode around the driveway!!

When Uncle David arrived, he brought his Wii.  Since we don't have a Wii at our house, this was extra exciting for the kids who discovered the thrilling, fun game of Mario Kart!  They would have played all day if we let them!!  Faith has already extended an invitation to Uncle David to her birthday party...given he brings the Wii with him!

Baking Christmas cookies!  We should have done this before the Wii arrived!!

Another highlight for us was meeting up with the Verwys family!  Since they live by Washington DC, we only see them if our trips to Grand Rapids coincide!  The kids had so much fun playing together at the mall!  This is Faith with Rita!

We also spent an afternoon at the Children's museum!  The kids explored a barn, played firefighters, made music, drove a car, went grocery shopping, and many more things!

You can't go to GR without stopping by the Meijer Gardens!  We always love this time of year when they have the Christmas tress out as well as the trains! 

Grandma with her grand kids at the gardens.  It was such a beautiful (well, for a day in January in Michigan!) that we were able to explore the children's gardens outside as well! 

A few of the other highlights that were not captured on camera...
- going out for dinner on NYE with our siblings and friends!
- one of my college friend and her three kids coming over for a play date
- worshipping at Steve's Uncles church
- Pasta dinner at Blythefield - the kids loved making their own ice cream sundaes!!
- seeing so many family members!  It was a joy to be able to spend so much time with my family and extended family! 

Even though we are a week into the New Year, we look forward with anticipation to all that the coming year holds!!  Blessings to all as you begin 2012!!