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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Getting Crafty

Confession: I don't like playing with my kids...ok maybe that sounds a bit harsh. In reality it is that I try to play with them but I get bored. I get tired of always being the teacher while my student, "Buh-Nella" tells me what activity is next and I get tired of holding Capper upside down to tickle him relentlessly. I like forts...for a few minutes but then I am ready to clean the floors because sitting on the floors makes me realize how filthy they are.

I know that is is important to play with my kids and I am thankful to have the luxury of time to do it. So I've developed a compromise. With the help of Pinterest I have a stash of fun activities in my mind. When I realize that we have 30 minutes or so we can do something fun instead of me trying pacify the kids while I cook, or clean, or check my email. Ironically, I find that when I play with the kids or do activities with them before they begin attention-seeking, I am then rewarded with some time later in the day where they are happy to play by themselves or play with each other. It's almost like they need their quota of Mommy's attention for the day and then they're content.

Here are some of the activities we have been doing lately:

Thanksgiving Turkeys

Blocks- not actually a craft project but it can use some creative juices. I made the "house" on the left and Anellah was copying it perfectly!

We were sewing a table runner turned into a hat for a bit.

Anellah loves her "goo" It's the consistency of Gak. You can find a recipe here.
Glowstick Lantern

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"So you're moving?"

A few months ago I posted on Facebook that we are officially moving to Washington. The timeline, however, is to be determined. Since then it has come up frequently as a topic of conversation both in our home and with friends. I feel very ambivalent about moving, there is so much that I love about living in Oakland. We have a church that is truly a community, Anellah's preschool teacher and staff are a God-send, I have a job that is perfect for our current needs, Anellah is well established with her medical providers, it's sunny almost every day, we have very close friends, we can grow plenty in our garden, our home is beautiful, our neighbors rock, the list goes on...
Painting with Friends yesterday
BUT there is a BIG thing missing, we don't have family here. I guess I never really understood the family connection until I moved away and started a family of my own. But now that I have, I see that I connect with relatives (whether related by blood, adoption, or marriage) in a way that I can't connect with friends.
Playing with Cousin Sophie on our trip to Washington last month
Ice Cream with Cousin Eloise

Daniel and I often talk about moving and ask ourselves, "How are we going to make this move work? How are we going to pry ourselves away from this fantastic place while our kids are still young enough to need the free babysitting that grandparents offer?" We've come to the conclusion that there are three steps. Here is our specific plan, I am sure you will find it enlightening:

Step number one- a job for Daniel in Washington. Well I can't even say that is "pending" but we're working on it.
Capper "working" in our back yard

Step number two- find a place to live. This one IS pending, we have some property and we are working on permitting to build our future home.
It doesn't look like much yet, but this is our future home!

Step number three- move.

So there's your update on our future plans, as you can see they are set securely in mud.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Growing Up

This time the post isn't about my kids growing up, it's about myself! I recently read the following quote and it rang true as something I've been thinking about lately.

"Who of us is mature enough for offspring before the offspring themselves arrive?
The value of marriage is not that adults produce children but that children produce adults."
Peter Devries

It isn't always a simple task but lately I've been trying to approach every moment as a teaching moment.

Sometimes it is an opportunity to engage Anellah by teaching her a new Bible Story while we take a drive in the car even when it would be easier to just tune out her constant babble.
Sometimes it is an opportunity to teach Capper that we pick up toys before getting new ones out even though it's a lot easier to just pick them up myself.

And so very often it's an opportunity to teach myself that patience is something to be developed and that it's ok if I get angry with my kids sometimes, being imperfect does not equal being a failure.
(That's not beer, it's Root Beer!)
I have learned so much from the past three years of being a parent. I can't say I have loved every minute of it but I can say that I appreciate the challenge. And some days, it isn't a challenge, some days things just seem to come together, on those days I learn things like pure joy when I look in my kids eyes, and seizing the day, and how much our Father in heaven loves us. It sounds cliche but it really is true, parenting reveals to a Mother how deep loves goes and I am so thankful to have a God who loves me like that.

Monday, September 16, 2013

This blog is called "Royal Expansion," so it's supposed to be about our expanding/growing family, right? Well lately I've been thinking a lot about how I want to grow and how I want our kids to, "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Maybe it is time I shared those thoughts with you.

I feel so inept when it comes to being my children's "spiritual leader" since I feel like Daniel and I aren't anywhere near perfect so we need to start with ourselves. We are "starting with ourselves" but in the meantime I don't think I can wait to be a perfect christian, wife, or mother before I begin to focus on teaching my children about God.  I've been thinking of ways that I can begin to teach them about God and also just be more intentional about time with them since I tend to fill my time at home with other things like dishes and laundry and cleaning and paperwork etc.

So I think I am going to start doing a "verse of the month" with Anellah and Capper. Originally I thought it would be a verse of the week but then realized I wouldn't be on top of it enough to continue with that so I'm starting small rather than starting grand and fizzling out. September's verse is Psalm 139:14, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." I can work with Anellah to memorize it, work with Capper to say a word from it, and talk about it throughout the month. Plus pull out a real tangible Bible and read it to them (I think it's probably hard for Anellah to understand the concept of a Bible since there are so many electronic forms these days). I also plan to do crafts/activities that go along with each month's verse. I found this activity on Pinterest.

I am excited to see what God does through each month's verse. I have a feeling I will learn as much from it as my children do! I would love to hear your thoughts and any additional ideas that you have!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Thank you, Lord, for this exhausting life. - Amen

It's 7:21 and I sprawled out here 10 minutes ago after getting the kids to bed. They're far from asleep, I can hear them laughing and bouncing on their beds, but they are in their room and they will stay there until morning. As I left their giggling voices I mused, "How can I be so exhausted by 7:00pm while they are so full of energy??" Didn't we go to the park today? Didn't they run laps (literally) around the outside of the house, in the back door, and back out the front 15 times this afternoon? The whole time with Anellah shouting, "Follow me Capper, follow me!!" But I guess those things just weren't exhausting enough.

Currently there are still pieces of food on the floor even though I vacuumed today; there are still toys on the floor even though we all did "clean up" three times today; there are still art supplies exploding from Anellah's desk because that is her version of "putting it away"; there is still a photo that has slid down and is now crooked in its frame even though it could be fixed in 3 minutes with a piece of tape, and there is still dried milk on the couch from last week that I keep forgetting to wipe up. But those things will have to wait because this Mamma is taking a moment to think about the day and all the reasons she is tired and thank God for them. Today I am blessed with two kids who can run, and jump and shout. I am thankful to live in a place where we can go to a park in shorts and tank top and play with muddy water. I am blessed with friends to suggest the park in the first place. And I am oh-so-blessed that I can be a mostly stay at home Mom with two little buggers.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Support Group Update

A group of 5-8 men and women, different cultures, different lifestyles, different educational background, but we all have one big thing in common: children with disabilities. Some of our children have disabilities related to medical needs exclusively but have typical development otherwise; some of our children have disabilities related to their cognitive functioning but are otherwise "healthy." We have met twice and I have been searching for the word to describe what we all feel through this group...honestly I think the best word is "support." During both meetings everyone has been open to sharing some things that are going well at the moment and we have also shared prayer requests. It has been a venue for everything from trading tips such as how to navigate the public school system to providing encouragement in the midst of struggles.

In between our two meetings I met a father at the beach. I don't remember how we began the topic but he had no idea about Anellah's medical needs and began to share about his daughter being in the hospital for months as an infant. He said, "it's one thing to be a patient in the hospital yourself, I know because I've been there, but it is completely different when it is your just can't imagine." Indeed, my friend, I can imagine. I was able to share a little bit about Anellah and asked if his daughter continued to have any medical needs but due to a surgery she is not expected to have any more significant medical issues. I didn't invite him to the group because the needs were no longer present but it really felt like encouragement that this will be a wonderful way to minister to others BOTH within and outside of our church.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Moms and Kids Camping Trip 2013, A Success Story

A few months ago a friend and I were talking about camping and had an idea, "Hey, why don't we plan a Moms and Kids camping trip since it's too difficult to find a weekend that we're both available." Since she is a stay at home Mom and I am a mostly stay at home Mom, we knew we could plan it during the week.

One thing led to the next and we found ourselves last Wednesday in beautiful Lagunitas at Samuel P Taylor Campground with a total of 6 Moms and 12 children. It was only about an hour away but felt like a different world so it was perfect, I highly recommend this campground if you live in the Bay Area! We had reserved 3 out of 4 sites in a section of the campground and were a bit worried about who would take the last spot. We hoped we wouldn't drive them crazy! It turns out that God had already planned our neighbors because a couple with two boys showed up and immediately let our kids play with their toys. They were wonderful to have close by, we later found out that they were hoping to have a campsite with other children nearby for their kids to play with so their wishes were answered!

The whole group
We enjoyed letting our kids get dirty, eating camp food, sitting around the campfire, playing at the swimming hole, and just plain fellowshipping with friends. We are thankful for an opportunity to enjoy God's beautiful creation and thankful that nobody got hurt or sick (that is a miracle in and of itself!)

Setting Up Camp
Tent Fun!


Burned Birthday Cake I made for two Moms who celebrated birthdays while we were camping

Our youngest member

Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer List

Phew, I have finally finished compiling our list of 100 Things to Do This Summer. I feel like simply compiling the list should be on there since it took a lot of thought and a bit of research. I did get a little carried away though so it's actually 100+ things. I'll try to keep you updated throughout the summer on what we're doing...but if I don't blog it's because we're having too much fun, you can just look at the list and daydream about what we might be up to.   

     “Do Mom’s Hair”
       “I Spy” Jar
       Balloon Terrarium
       Bay Area Discovery Museum
       BBQ with the Kellers
       Beans Across Yard
       Bike Ride
       Breakfast at RCFC
       Bug for a Day
       Busy Bag Swap
       Camp at Big Basin
       Camp at Lagunitas
       Camping at Yosemite
       Cereal Necklace
       Champion Ice Cream
       Childrens Creativity Museum (SF)
       Cookies for Strangers
       Crissy Field
       Cushion Surf
       Disney Museum (SF)
       Egg carton Caterpillars
       Farmers Market
       Felt Button Snakes*
       Fleece Marble Maze**
       Footprint Penguin*
       Full House Café (breakfast)
       Giant Ice Cube
       Glass Beach (Fort Bragg)
       Glowstick Lanterns
       Golden Gate Bridge Photoshoot
       Homegrown Strawberries
       Homemade Bread
       Homemade Crayons
       Homemade Ice Cream
       Jellyfish in a Jar*
       Lake Anza
       Lake Chabot
       Lawrence Hall of Science
       Library Summer Reading Program
       Lindsay Wildlife Museum
       Magnetic Magic Wand*
       Make Marshmallows
       Master somersaults
       Moon Dough
       Movie Night
       Park Picnic
       Phillips Ranch (Pescadero)
       Picnic with Daddy at Work
       Pillow Fight
       Pistachio Shell Flowers
       Pom Pom Stuff It*
       Postcard to Hazletons
       Postcard to Samuel
       Pump It Up
       Puppet Theater
       Read Alone
       Robot Box
       SF Aquarium
       Slip N Slide
       Smothered Chicken at Popeyes
       Southern California
       Spin and Spell*
       Stamp Word Paths
       Stinson Beach
       Super Franks
       Swimming Lessons
       Tilden Little Farm
       Tinted Vinegar and Soda*
       Toothpick Pattern Punch**
       Travel Tangrams*
       Tub Paint*
       Twirly Ribbon
       Vientian Café Picnic
       Water Balloons
       Water Park
       Water Pinata