Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you are all feasting away today with family and friends, and enjoying life’s many blessings!  Fill your tummies with good food and your hearts with happiness. :)

A photo of our finished Thanksgiving Tree:This year's Thanksgiving tree                        (Forgive the rotten exposure.  It looks better in real life.)

M wanted to place our leaves on the tree with our lists facing outwards, which made me wonder, why did we bother decorating them?  ;)  But the littlest person usually gets their way about this type of thing, so this year we have white leaves on our tree.

Each night for the past week we’ve written things for which we are thankful on leaves, and then tacked them to the tree. 

I thought you might enjoy M’s top 7 things he is thankful for this year:

  • Our house
  • Our farm and apple trees
  • Mommy
  • Christmas
  • Food
  • Cupcakes, and Mommy, and Cake
  • Fish and Fishing for Fish (he has never gone fishing, by the way, but why get hung up on details?)

There is a glaring omission here, isn’t there?  ;)  Why did Mommy end up on the list two times (and what is the “Mommy” in between cupcakes and cake all about??), but no mention of Daddy?  I giggle about this, mainly because I am not Daddy.  I’m sure the thought of Daddy was in there somewhere.  I think next year perhaps we will list our thanks for two weeks – to give us time to make sure everything is covered, and no feelings are hurt. 

Just for the record, I did put Daddy on the very first of my leaves, and he is very loved.

Now, I’m off to stake out a place for my post-dinner nap. ;)


Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A garden of Gratitude

image (Heh, heh – this vintage picture makes me smile!)

This is the month to be mindful of our thankfulness, a wonderful idea.  I’ve been trying to set aside time each day to list my blessings.  How neat to find that paying attention to my blessings and focusing on being grateful has worked to increase my gratefulness and my blessings!  I decided to list things a little at a time, each day, and will share these as one post sometime around Thanksgiving.

I am thankful…

  1. For the sense of empathy M has… his heart for poor children, hungry children, babies we know and don’t know, neighbors… and the specifics he’s able to articulate in prayer for them.  I worry about his tender heart so much, but I know that this is really a blessing and I’m learning to be thankful for it.
  2. That my 5 year old “big boy” has begun taking my shirt to bed with him (like when he was a baby – does he even remember?) to snuggle with and smell as he sleeps.  That is love. 
  3. For all the beautiful nature surrounding us, and for a renewed eagerness to be out in it as much as possible.
  4. For good books that prove how amazing and inspirational words can be when the right person puts them together in the right way.
  5. For a husband that comes home from work tired, and still finds the time to read a chapter or two of Hank, the Cowdog out loud, sometimes with only one tired eye open.  And still knows how to make us laugh at all the silly parts.
  6. For being closer (not there quite yet) to making peace with the possibility that no more babies are in my future.
  7. For a small house that only takes a few hours to clean.  I’m convinced God knew what he was doing because he knows how I am about cleaning.
  8. For magic erasers.
  9. For my new sewing table and the little sewing / mama-craft nook in our home that I finally found a way to make.
  10. For forgiveness, from everyone – God, my husband, my son… everyone.
  11. For glorious autumn days that help me remember to be joyful.
  12. For coffee.
  13. For Coke.
  14. For an oven that still bakes lovely things like pumpkin bread and apple crisp even though it is ancient.
  15. For routines and good habits.
  16. For wisdom when I (remember to) ask for it.
  17. For intuition.
  18. For our neighbors and our friendly little lane.  
  19. For traditions.
  20. For the books we read out loud and the friends we make with the characters in them.
  21. For the women I meet with every Monday morning… they have each become so important to me.
  22. For friends that remember to ask about specifics in my life, showing that they are sincere in their care.
  23. For such good role models as the people in numbers 22 and 23.
  24. That so many people have taken a look at our Jesse Tree packet and have downloaded it or printed it to use with their families.  It feels good to share wonderful things with others and it’s humbling to think of helping someone “out there” with something our little family does.
  25. For occasional, unexpected moments of peace and quiet.
  26. For soft, thick, cozy yarn and the pleasure of making something out of it, just for me.
  27. For the joy of making things for others too.  {Lest you think #27 was selfish. ;) }
  28. For catching the moment on a windy day when yellow leaves are falling so quickly and thickly that you can’t see past them.
  29. For catching sight of little boys trying to hula hoop.  :)
  30. That the worst thing my 5 year old has to worry about is finding where he mislaid his newest and most favorite rock.
  31. For children’s audio books.
  32. For the library, and that it is so close to our home.
  33. For my husband’s job, and his willingness to support us while I stay home.
  34. For a better understanding and appreciation of the work of a stay-at-home mom.
  35. For my health and the health of everyone I love.
  36. For my weekly hour in our church’s adoration chapel.
  37. For visiting relatives.
  38. For turkey dinners and naps afterwards.
  39. For a warm, cozy bed.
  40. To live in freedom.
  41. For our military, the sacrifices they and their families make.
  42. For the beauty of falling snow.
  43. For the pure joy snow gives to the children I know.
  44. For the cozy inside feeling snow gives me.
  45. For second (and third, and fourth…) chances to get things right.
  46. For the gift of being a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend, and every other role I’ve been given – I am truly blessed.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Art Time – Oh the things You can do with Melted crayons

Our Thanksgiving tree (find the pattern here) was up and ready to go, one week before Thanksgiving:thanksgiving treeBut no autumn-themed scrapbook paper to make our leaves from!  Target dollar spot, you really let me down this year. I checked other places too – and could not find a single (cheap) autumn pattern anywhere – sigh.  I just love those scrapbook leaves. 

Ah well, this was a great opportunity for an art project I’ve been meaning to do for ages – coloring with crayons on a warming plate.  decorating leaves (2)

We used scrapbook scissors (pinking and scalloping) to cut leaves from white cardstock; covered our little cup warmer with foil because melting wax tends to leak through paper, even cardstock; put the leaves on top of the foil and slowly drew with the crayons.decorating leaves(I do not have a warming tray, but this little cup warmer works great for small projects like these leaves.  You could also use a cookie tray taken from a warm oven, but make sure little hands don’t get burned!)

The crayon melts as you draw and begins to glide across the paper.  There’s something very relaxing about doing this!  M enjoyed it so much, he stopped making designs and began to just color entire leaves.  The smooth movement and the deep saturated colors on the paper put him into a sort of trance. :)  I think this would be a great rest time activity!  After he was done we turned the warmer off, crumpled up the foil, and were done.  No mess, which is always a plus, right? :)

Our leaves (mostly):IMAG0015


We also made some great little autumn shapes by melting old crayons and pouring them into cookie cutters… this is always fun because it involves SMASHING crayons with a hammer or piece of wood, or whatever you may have lying around that would make a good smasher. ;)

Sort:autumn crayon shapes (4)

Smash:autumn crayon shapes (5)

Melt and pour:autumn crayon shapes (12)

Let harden, then pop out:autumn crayon shapes (23)

A little wax leaked out the bottom of the cookie cutters, but everything turned out okay.  Still, I would use the flexible, non-stick muffin trays in place of cookie cutters, if you have them.

abc button

Have a beautiful day! :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Art Time – Autumn Glitter Shapes


We made these last week, using some autumn cookie cutters from Target’s dollar spot.

Glitter is always so much fun, isn’t it?  And so pretty as it makes its way around the entire house.  Isn’t it fun to see a dusting of glitter sitting there, shimmering away on your couch as the sun hits it, two weeks later?  And then you realize you most likely had glitter on your bottom when you wore your black pants to church that morning, and you feel so thankful to have given someone behind you a pretty little treat like that.  Ah glitter.  We all need a little sparkle in our lives, don’t we?  ;)

So we gathered up some colored construction paper, glue, our cookie cutters and some glitter.  Trays were helpful for keeping the glitter under control, but apparently not helpful enough.


We had a saucer full of glue, into which we dipped our cookie cutters (wide side down).  Then we let them sit on our page for a while to let the glue drip down enough.  Next up was shaking on the glitter and then tapping it off.  I could have sworn I’d taken photos of actually doing this…


After they dried, M punched holes in the corners, we strung them up on ribbons, and added them to our oil pastel leaf banner, out in our breezeway:

Pretty, yes?  A great outside activity too, if you ask me. ;)

Have a beautiful day! :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fun with Math and Wiki Stix

wikki stix and number mats (2)

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned our Wiki Stix before.  We’ve had them for ages, and I bring them out once in a while just for “something to do” – M loves them.  He kind of forgets about them, but when he sees them, he loves them.  They keep him busy for a loooong time, if that helps sway your decision to go buy some. ;) 


I put out simple activities for M most mornings.  Occasionally I am stumped for something new to do and go through my craft and school supplies for inspiration.  So one morning last week I gathered up our autumn-themed play dough mats (placed in plastic page protectors), and our Wiki Stix and set them out for him:wikki stix and number mats (3)


He really enjoyed this!  This would be wonderful counting practice for younger children.  I can’t say M really counted as he did this, because that is no longer a challenge for him, but he enjoyed making little spirals out of the Wiki Stix and sticking them to the pages.  This is good fine motor skill practice!  The best part about this, and what I intended it for, was that it helped him work on forming the numerals, an area in which he needs practice.

 wikki stix and number mats (4)Honestly, I can not look at those little hands without
wanting to kiss them or have a little nibble on them!

I love when something comes together that is so much fun for him he doesn’t realize he is working on anything. :)

abc button

Have a beautiful day! :)

Monday, November 14, 2011


I struggle with depression.  Have I mentioned that before?  I meant to write about this, especially in relation to post-partum depression, at some point this year, but well, the year seems to have gotten away from me.  I’m not going to write much about it in this post either because, oh la la, it is just not something I want to get into today.  Some day though, I promise! :)

{By the way, it is not uncommon for women who have fertility problems to have trouble with depression too – an imbalance in hormones can wreak havoc on our bodies, minds, and souls in many ways.}

I am usually able to keep it at bay, without drugs, although I do take a very, very mild dose of an antidepressant to help me sleep.  Sleep is so important.  So are vitamins, outside time (I need to work on this!), finding the right pace for my days (not too busy or over-extended, not too empty), time spent nourishing my soul with prayer and inspirational reading, keeping a focus on goals, and making sure priorities are kept in proper order.  It is possible to still be a good mother and wife – a wonderful mother and wife – and fight depression at the same time!

One thing I’ve often noticed about myself is that keeping all of these things going (the things mentioned in the paragraph above) is much easier when I am in the middle of reading some sort of helpful book about motherhood, the spiritual life, homemaking… anything along those lines.  And if I’m not currently reading and enjoying something like that, lack of motivation and then depression can settle in pretty quickly.  I’ve always considered this to be a weakness of mine…  And then I began reading Jamie Martin’s book, Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood.  (You can find Jamie here, here, and here.  She is amazing.) 

I’ve had this book on my to-read list for ages.  Recently, it finally seemed like the right time to pick it up and immediately I was struck with her acknowledgement of the power of words.  And it’s true.  Words put together in the right way can have real power.  I feel like this is something I’ve always known, have perhaps even mentioned myself, but somehow this time I realized it in a completely different way.  God uses the words of others to lift us up and encourage us and keep us going.  It’s a wonderful gift to have these words, and it is not a weakness to need them!

Jamie mentioned making a box full of quotes that inspire her.  If it is good enough for her, it’s good enough for me. :)  Just thinking about doing this made me feel more calm and peaceful… the idea of having something to look to on those days when I need an extra nudge upward so I don’t find myself spiraling downward… what a blessing that would be for my whole family.

So I bought a little wooden box at Michaels and decorated it with some paint pens: Hee hee – it looks to me like something my 10-year old self would have made, not exactly the piece of beauty I had envisioned, but it will work. :)

And I began filling it up with inspiration:

Now I’m off to tell Jamie about it and give her back a little of the encouragement she has given me. :)

Have a beautiful day! :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Art Cart – independent artwork

~a sampling~ ;)

The weather has taken on a definite it’s-still-fall-but-winter-is-nearer-than-you’d-like-it-to-be feeling here, which is strange, seeing as how it must still be mid-July, right?  (Have the past few months just flown by or what?  Please tell me it is not just me!)

And so of course we’ve been spending more time indoors and the art cart I made for M last spring has become popular again.  I love seeing what he makes all on his own with no interference or direction.  I love, love, love it.  I love it for many reasons, and two very small reasons are because it keeps him busy and happy and requires no work on my part.  I’m sure there are more noble reasons than that, but I am so giddy about him keeping busy and happy and it not taking any work on my part that I can’t think of those right now.

I just wanted to share a little of what is hanging up around here that M has done completely on his own.  I miss doing those Art Box posts, darn it, so you may all have to sit through a post like this from time to time.  (Well, you don’t really HAVE to, just let me imagine you are.)

A little sparkle:

Newly discovered magnetic tape (by M, I’ve known about this stuff for ages) has inspired all kinds of new magnets which just appear here and there: 

This… thing (the hole punch has been discovered also): 


And, I believe, some works in process: 

Super-cute Mr. and Mrs. Frog (M did ask me to draw the hands and feet for these, but everything else was his, including the idea:

And a homemade kite, with string wrapped around a tp tube, hee hee:

Have a beautiful day! :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Free Printable jesse Tree ornaments and devotions for advent 2011

Jesse Tree Packet 2011
But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and
from his roots a bud shall blossom.” – Isaiah 11:1

Since we’ve started having a Jesse Tree during Advent, I can’t imagine not having one.  It has added such focus, and a sense of peace to what can be the most chaotic time of year. 

The Jesse Tree is a small tree (we use a tree cut out of felt, but many families use a miniature tree, or a branch tucked into a pot) that is decorated throughout Advent with ornaments that trace the lineage of Jesus all the way from creation to His birth.  It shows, in a simple way, God’s plan of salvation throughout history.

This tradition has blessed us in ways we never imagined.  And there’s the added bonus of M really getting it.  The cuddled up story time, the hands-on  ornaments, the little Advent box we open each evening (it contains the ornament for the day and the devotional card)… all of this appeals to a child’s heart.  I am amazed when M knows these stories at other times of the year, and realize what an impact the Jesse Tree has had on him.

Sometimes, after a particularly trying day, we light a little votive candle to help set a reflective mood as we prepare ourselves to focus on the “reason for the season”.  As this time for the Jesse Tree is set aside every single evening during Advent, we find that our focus throughout the day is changed too… all the superfluous stuff is more easily set aside because our hearts are in tune with what truly matters.  (Knowing how special this time can be really motivates me to have all my gift shopping done before Advent begins.  Some years I’m better at this than others, but having even some of it done makes for a more peaceful Advent.)

This year, Advent begins on Sunday, November 27th.  There are 4 full weeks – 28 days - of Advent this year.  That’s the maximum number of days Advent can have. 

Because the number of days during Advent changes from year to year, some years all of the ornaments and readings will be used, and other years some will be skipped.  In our family we use the ornaments and readings for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Sundays as our “optional” ornaments… these are extra ornaments that relate to the season of Advent (Light, Joy and Hope, Peace) but aren’t directly related to the ancestral line from which Jesus came.  There are some prophets included in the Jesse Tree also, and in years where we need to skip more than the three ornaments mentioned above, we start picking these guys off. :)  For those years, we are most likely to skip Ezekiel, Daniel, or Elijah… we like to include Isaiah each year.  I have nothing against the other guys… we love them too! :)  But someone’s gotta go when there’s more ornaments than days, right? ;)

To avoid all of this change from year to year, some families pick only 24 ornaments and use these same 24 ornaments every year, beginning their Jesse Tree on December 1st and ending it on Christmas Eve.  That is a perfectly fine way of doing it too!  There really is no right or wrong way to do this, and if you search online you will see there are many versions of the Jesse Tree.  The main thing is to show how God’s plan of salvation was unveiled throughout history and how each person in Jesus’ lineage played an important role in this plan.

Take a look at the packet I’ve put together for this year.  You can find it here, or by clicking on the controls in the image at the top of this post.  There is a schedule (specific to this year) for the ornaments and Scripture readings, as well as a word or phrase for each day to reflect on (these lead to some wonderful conversations!) and a short prayer for each day. 

I’ve changed some things this year to make them better suited for us, and I hope they will work well for your family too.  The ornaments can be printed and colored, or use them as templates for felt ornaments, or in any other way you can think of. 

Some of the Scripture references on the cards are different this year – I used some that just made more sense to me, and the Annunciation (when Gabriel appeared to Mary) is included this year.  I know it really happened about 9 months prior to the birth of Jesus, but it’s an important part of the whole story, I think. 

I’m hoping this helps simplify the process of making the Jesse Tree a tradition in your family, and that you will be as richly blessed by it as we have.

As always, feel free to share this link with others (please do!), but do not post it on your own site, sell it, etc.  Thank you!

Have a beautiful day! :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

2011 Homeschool Blog Awards are Open!


You can go vote for your favorite homeschool blog by clicking on the button above.  There are 20 categories in which to vote!

Tired, Need Sleep has been nominated for the Best Crafts, Plans and Projects Blog.  I am a little astonished by this considering my sporadic, at best, blogging this past year!  A big thank you and hug to anyone who took the time to nominate this little blog of mine.  I feel very honored. :)

The awards are a good opportunity to find more homeschool blogs; I hope you will take a few minutes to look over the lists, visit some blogs, and vote for your favorites!

Have a beautiful day! :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy November :)

We are having one of those weeks.  I won’t go into it because I’m pretty sure you all understand what one of those weeks means. :)   I haven’t looked at my to-do list once today and yet I am so tired I could drop.  But good friends to visit with made the day totally worth it.  I’m thinking I’ll leave the to-do list hidden away for the rest of the week. ;)

I wanted to take a moment and get on here to post a photo of M on Halloween:M was a road for Halloween

He was a road.  Yep, a road. :)  This was his idea, and I was just thankful it was do-able. :)  That’s a green “go” light on his forehead.  He had a stop sign on his back:stop sign

I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween and you are all enjoying lots of sugar along with your children.  (Mainly because I do not want to be the only mother that steals candy out of the bowl when no one is looking.) ;)

And here’s a photo of M’s oil pastel artwork made into banners and hanging in our breezeway:leaf art banners  I love the feel of this photo – it just makes me happy every time I look at it!

Have a beautiful day! :)


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