A Fun Activity For Kids (And Adults Also)

My mom bought Patrick one of these paint-by-sticker books and they've been so much fun.  They are addicting!

I've been teaching art on Friday's at school, and have some rambunctious, unable-to-focus boys. (I also get them right after lunch and recess and I also love them all and 'get it'.) . When we finished our art project one day, I filled time by borrowing Patrick's sticker-by-number book, had the kids get in pairs, and work on a sheet.  You would not believe it!  These boys were quiet, they sat in their seats, they LOVED doing this, more than any other project I've done.  I think it is something about the exactness, the numbers, the straight forward process that appealed to them-the ability to see the end?  I just loved what I saw-the ability to focus and accomplish a task, even for the kids who really really have difficult doing this.

They have books for all different ages.

The one I used in class for the fourth graders is this one-we all love it!

Here's some for ages 5 and up that are simpler and a good starting point for younger children, although if they recognize all their numbers and letters, and have the patience they could do the more difficult ones also.



As school is drawing to a close, I thought I'd share some summer ideas we use or have used in the past to keep some sense of order. 

We have a "Summer Bucket List",  just simple things like going to the zoo, and visiting the Dum-Dum factory, and taking a long bike ride on a new bike path.

Patrick and Janey BOTH need to practice school work every day-Patrick loses math facts quickly I've found, and Janey is bursting into reading so I need to keep that going.  I've used Summer Bridge in the past, but this year I have so many fun workbooks around the house.  I already made a visit by myself to the library to pick out books for them both, which is sometimes easier for me-I can concentrate and give them new ideas.  (As in less sports biographies, which are fine, but maybe some inventors, etc.)

A few morning summer camps thrown into all that-maybe I'll regret or not, I always just try to guess that year if those activities will be beneficial for summer boredom, or more than they are worth in driving, and sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don't.

We also are doing a very simple job list-like water outdoor plants for Patrick, and straighten up garage for Janey.

Andrew is taking a hard class at school, and unfortunately hasn't found a lifeguard job as he's not sixteen yet, but has his certificate all ready to go.  He is going to do a bunch of painting jobs for me outside.  Matt is busy working landscaping all day, and the older two are working in other cities, as they've flown the nest.  Lots of home visits planned for them which is always the best.  We also have a Beilein family reunion planned which is something we all so look forward to and Jeff and I will plan a vacation for ourselves at the end of summer, which I will need by then for sure. 

My summer goal?  A book a week.  And a daily walk, and a new routine of journal writing morning and evening.  I just attended the greatest little three hour retreat and it was so good for me.  The theme was Reflect, Renew, Reignite.  Why is it so difficult to me to remember to keep focused on my life goals, and to do that by daily reflection and inspiration to lead me to that direction?  My mother does it every day of her life.  What the heck?  It's more than buying a cute notebook which I must admit is one of the highlights of my week.  I found some at the grocery store (darn school supply section gets me every time) and bought every pattern because I couldn't choose one, so now I better be consistent and fill those suckers up.

I wish I could go back in time, because what a difference this daily journaling and reflection and gratitude list would make in every facet of my life.  No matter how busy you think you are, you must remind yourself every day who you want to be and how you want to spend your time.  It's so important!  Take my advice and there is nothing that will make your life fuller, better, in every way than this habit and I really want to finally be consistent with it.

The retreat leader had mounds of all these little books-she filled them with quotes, Bible verses and then had some where she, every night, would reflect back on her day and look at the interactions she had.  She'd write them down briefly-a brief list summary of the day-and then would put a smiley face or frowny face next to each one, depending on what brought her closer to God, or farther away.  She said then she could she patterns of what she felt she needed to work on-whether it was snappiness, or too much worry, or whatever she was struggling with in that time of her life.  BUT she also celebrated all the things she did holy and "right". 

Anyways, three more days of school and we are FREE!  No more packing lunches!  (I know we moms all feel the same-what is it about packing lunches???)


Encouragement For The Week

Rushing and a tight time table does not equal happy moms or happy babies or happy toddlers. Settle in. 
Settle in at home with your role as mother, 
embrace it fully and trust that the time you give these years-if you give your children your attention, and structure and find ways to enjoy your days at home, 
it will all pay off. 


Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful dedicated sacrificing mothers out there
who truly know what a gift it is to be called "mommy".

I am so grateful for my mother who has walked next to me, hand in hand with me, gently, while I navigated all the parts of my life-good ones and difficult parts too.  She has always been gentle, the best source of advice, and a wealth of spiritual knowledge.  I feel so lucky to have her as a mother.  From the always home made cookies and dinner every night, to the handmade matching clothes (and bikinis!), to the special back to school new uniform shopping, to the simple appreciation for nature and books, to my faith, to witnessing hard work and dedication, to consistent discipline and high standards for kindness and manners, and to always always being gentle and kind, to all the little traditions (birthday gifts on the stairs, Advent wreaths, downtown shopping), my childhood is filled with the best memories.

Thank you Mom.


Encouragement For The Week

Every birth begins as a mystery, an enterprise whose outcome cannot be foretold. We think, "may all be well." And all is well - almost always. 

But joy is only the beginning of the journey. And we must move forward, fueled by faith.

We can decide to be happy, make much out of little, embrace the warmth of our ordinary days.

Life unfolds as a mystery.  An enterprise whose outcome cannot be foretold.

We do not get what we expect.  We stumble on cracks, are faced with imperfection, bonds tested and tightened.  And our landscapes shift in sunshine and in shade.

There is light.
There is.

Look for it.
Look for it shining over your shoulder on the past.

It was light where you went once.
It was light where you are now.
It will be light where you will go again.