Saturday, January 30, 2010

Kyla's t-shirt dress

Thursday was my last day with Kyla. Our place seems a lot quieter when she's not here. I hope I can watch her again in the future.

You may have noticed Kyla wearing this pink t-shirt in a couple of my posts:

It's one of mine which I've hardly ever worn. I bought it in NYC on a mission's trip a few years ago. On the day Kyla wore this, she had managed to get quite a bit of paint on her white shirt. So, I had her wear my t-shirt and put hers in the wash. I gathered the back neck line with a rubber band and she was good to go for the rest of the day.

Since that day, I wanted to turn the shirt into a play dress for Kyla. I waited until the last day with her and began working on it during her nap. When she woke up, I was still working on it, so I had her watch me. I had some interruptions with her, but all in all, it didn't take a long time to do. This was my experiment, as I've never done this before. I kept changing things up as I went along. 

Here's what it looked like when I was done with it:

The first thing I did was add ribbon to the bottom of the shirt and around the sleeves. It was a 21-cent find at Hobby Lobby recently. (I love a good deal!)

Next, I made some pleats around the neckline so that it would fit her better.

I gathered and stitched up the sleeves from the inside. I did the same thing on the bottom of the sleeves. I really liked how this turned out. The last thing done was the pleats I made on the front of the shirt to pull it in. 

Right before her dad came to pick her up, she tried on her new t-shirt dress. I'm pleased with how it turned out, but I thought that the next time I did this that I would take it in on the sides, as well as around the sleeve openings. 

Have any of you transformed a t-shirt into something else? I know there are lots of ideas out there, so link up!:)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Easy (and free) lid organizer

I've been working here and there on organizing and decorating each room. I'm hoping to be done soon so that I can show you pictures. My main focus lately has been the kitchen. I've almost got it the way I want it. I've had the same challenge here as I did in our last place regarding the cupboards. It's hard to get the pots, pans, lids and baking sheets organized in a way so that when you pull things out, things stay neat.

I've been wanting to buy a lid organizer, but a couple of the ones I've seen have been too tall for the space I have. This old house we live in has its challenges with shelving. I'm making the best of it, trying to be creative when I can.

When we were at Target recently, something popped out at me that I knew would work.

The longer box in the back was used to store drip pans on their shelves. When we were at the check out, I asked the cashier if I could have it. Not only does this work well because its sturdy, but it was absolutely FREE!

The slots are perfect for storing my lids. I have to space them out, so that they're not crammed in there. The only glitch with this is that when I need to get out the biggest lid, I have to take out the one in front of it too. There just isn't a lot of space between the tops of the lids and the shelf above them.

At a different trip to Wal-mart, I found this one and asked the cashier there for it. I'm pleased with my new organizing find. I suppose I could cover both boxes with Contact paper for a decorative touch and more durability. I'm happy with the way they are now. 

Do you have any great tips on organizing your kitchen? I would love to hear your ideas!:)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My new opportunity in the community

After living here in Lafayette for about a month, I started thinking about what I could do to meet people and have an outlet in the community. I was also missing teaching. This is my first year out after 12 years in the same Christian school. I really wanted to do something outside the home that didn't require full-time work, so I began praying and looking. 

One thing I had considered for a time in our last town was to volunteer at the public library. So, I filled out an application on-line for the one here. I got a message back saying that they wanted to interview me. At the interview, I was told of a couple opportunities that I could do, so I started getting excited. While the librarian looked at my application, she noticed that I had a lot of teaching experience. She thought that perhaps I could be a story teller at a daycare in the future because they had already started their training. She also said that if there was an opening later, then the night they met was on Wednesdays (the night we have church prayer meeting). I told her of my interest in doing it, but if it didn't work out then I understood. I told Q later that the other position was to just be an aid in the children's department straightening books and sharpening pencils. It didn't sound like an exciting thing to do, but he thought I should just do it anyway to get out of the house and get to know people in the community.

Next thing you know, the librarian contacts me and says that there is an opening and that I could meet one-on-one with the volunteer in charge of training to get me started! I had a few training sessions between November and December, and officially began my storytelling times this week. I actually have two groups that I do because another spot has opened up and thought I could handle it. 

Isn't God great to give me something that is right up my alley? He has opened up an opportunity for me to use my talents and be a light in the community. I have an opportunity to teach children through stories once a month. I don't know where this community ministry will lead to, but I'm glad that I'm on this fun and exciting journey.

The name of the program is Lafayette Kids Ready to Read. I received this binder full of tips on storytelling and resources to use. 

After each of my storytelling times, I'd like to share with you the little program I put together for the kids. It may give you ideas to use with your children at home. My two groups of 3 and 4-year-olds are at the local recreation center's day care. I read three books, intermingled with songs, fingerplays and fun stuff from my bag--like puppets!

My opening song is "When ducks get up in the morning." It's part of the A Beka K5 curriculum that I used when I taught. It's a fun song that's easy for the kids to learn and join in.(If you want to know how the song is sung, I can e-mail it or sing it on a video--just let me know!:) I borrowed this glove puppet from the library. They have several boxes full of resources to use for these storytelling times. 

The daycare's theme for the month is outer space, so I chose some things to do to go along with that. The first book I read is called, How Many Stars in the Sky? by Lenny Hort. It's a neat story about a boy and his dad who go around town looking for a good place to see the stars. 

After I read that first story, we sang "Twinkle, Twinkle." I passed out these star finger puppets so that they could twinkle them as they sang. I made them out of yellow and sparkly white felt. I just stitched two pieces together, leaving a small finger opening. Easy as pie!

The second book was Moondance, by Frank Asch. It's a story about a bear who asks different things in nature if they can dance with him. Finally, he finds the moon's reflection in a puddle and dances with the moon.

I used this bear puppet from the library and this felt moon puppet I made to play a game. Every time I pulled the moon from behind my back, the kids were to wiggle around with the bear. (Just to let you know, as a Christian, I don't dance or support it, so that's why I had the kids wiggle. The book was innocent in nature with the dancing; the bear seemed to be just wiggling or jumping up and down.)

The next thing we did was this poem:

Moon Ride

Do you want to go up with me to the moon? (point to kids)
Let's get in our rocket ship, (pretend to climb a ship)
And blast off soon! (swish hands quickly)
Farther and faster we reach to the sky (jump and reach)
Isn't it fun to be able to fly?
We're on the moon,
Now all take a look, (look down)
And gently sit down (sit down quietly)
And I'll show you a book.

The last book I read was Here in Space by David Milgrim. It's a story written in rhyme sharing how we live in space because we live on the earth. The main character shares many wonderful places to explore on our earth.

The last poem I shared is called, "Five Amazing Astronauts" by Geri Ceci Cupery. I used my hand to share the story as I told about each astronaut. At the end, I put my fingers together and zoomed them along like a rocket ship.

"Five Amazing Astronauts"

Five amazing astronauts floating in a line....
The first one said, "This is mighty fine!"
The second one said, "The stars are so bright!"
The third one said, "Is it day or night?"
The fourth one said, "It's a great view."
THe fifth one said, "I think so, too."
Then they all slowly tumbled back into their ship--
And five amazing astronauts continued on their trip.

Besides having the same opening song each time I visit, I have a closing song, too. I found some words on-line to the tune of the Mickey Mouse Good-bye Song, and just changed a few of them to adapt to my time with the kids.

Now it's time to say good-bye,
"good-bye" to all of you,
Have a great day, read some good books,
And I'll see you real soon.

My story time went well with both of my groups. This space program lasted about 25 minutes. There were times that I wish I could have shared the fact that God created the universe and everything in it, but being at this daycare I can't do it. (If it was a Christian daycare, then it would be different.) I know if the children or teachers ask me questions, then it would be appropriate to share my faith. Right now, I can focus on being a testimony with my words and actions, and do the best I can being a good volunteer for the library.

By the way, did I tell you there are benefits for volunteers? One of them is that when you go to the library to prepare for storytime, you can pick up a drink at their coffee shop. They have smoothies and hot chocolate, too! The other one is that after you have acquired a certain amount of hours, you are eligible to receive a punch card for a certain amount that can be used for fines. (This is going to be great, because everyone turns in books late once in a while!)

So, do any of you volunteer somewhere in your community? If so, what do you do? Also, let me know if you need more information on anything I shared in this post. I'd love to help you put on a good story time at home or anywhere else. ;)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chocolate chunk hot chocolate

During our trip in Branson, my mother-in-law gave me a few magazines that she was done looking through. One of them was the December 2009 issue of Real Simple. In this issue I found an awesome recipe for hot chocolate. When Kyla and I enjoyed the animal crackers and cocoa, this is the recipe I used.

It is rich, creamy and delightful! Since I'm not a coffee drinker, hot chocolate is part of my morning routine. But since we've begun watching our weight, I've cut back a lot on drinking this yummy treat.

Chocolate Chunk Hot Chocolate

2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
8 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate

In a bowl, combine the cocoa, sugar, and chocolate. Store in an airtight container. Keep at room temperature for up to four months. (This makes 4 cups of hot chocolate mix.)

To make, whisk 1/4 cup cocoa with 3/4 cup milk in a small saucepan. Bring to a bare simmer. Serves 1. 

It's my dad's birthday today, so last week, I packaged up some hot chocolate mix and put it inside of a mug for a simple gift. He is a big sweet tooth, so this was just perfect for him.

I put 1 cup of the mix in a ziplock bag, which will make four servings. I also put about a cup of mini marshmallows in another bag. Then, I wrapped the two bags up in white tissue paper and tied ribbon around it. I placed the package in this mug that has our last church's name on it. 

On the front side of the attached card was a birthday greeting. On the other side, were the instructions for making a cup of this hot chocolate.

 Share this drink with your family and friends this week. Stay warm!;)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Making animal crackers with Kyla

Kyla and I had fun making animal crackers for our yummy snack the other day. She watched as I put ingredients into my mixer. She even helped me out a bit, too. 

She opened up the honey jar, looked inside and said she wanted a taste of it. She also tasted the dry oatmeal before I ground it up finer in my food processor.

Mmmm...honey is so good!

After all the ingredients were blended well together, we rolled out the dough and began cutting out the animal crackers. Every now and then, Kyla wanted to eat some of the dough. She really liked it, even though it wasn't too sweet. It has no eggs in it and is just sweetened with honey.

The recipe comes from this book that my mom gave to me years ago. Kinder-Krunchies is written by Karen S. Jenkins and illustrated by Donna Austin. Besides being full of healthy snack recipes, I like how each one is illustrated and explained simply for children to understand. Also included are ideas to make the experience of cooking with kids a real educational experience!

Here's the recipe for you to try out:

Animal Crackers

1/2 cup oatmeal
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup butter
4 tablespoons buttermilk

Grind the oatmeal in a blender or food processor until fine. Add the honey, salt, flour and baking soda. Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry blender. Add the buttermilk. Roll the dough very thin. Cut with animal cookie cutters. Bake at 400 degrees until brown (about 10-12 minutes).

We made some fish, cats, hippos, butterflies, teddy bears and even the letter "K" for Kyla.:) They turned out so well and were perfect dipped in the hot chocolate!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Our time at the stock show

This past Friday, Q and I went to the National Western Stock Show in Denver. He invited Hugh to go along with us. He is a real cowboy and knows all there is to know about riding horses and roping cattle. He is a funny character and always makes me laugh at church. Today he said, "Hi there, barrel racing girl." We did see some barrel racing girls at the stock show, but I wasn't one of them! I really like horses, but haven't ridden one in a long time. I don't consider myself a cowgirl by any means!

During the show, Hugh talked about how the cowboys were doing things with the animals. He still remembers things from his ranch days long ago.

Along with bull riding, cowboys rode on bucking broncos. I'm glad that some of them chose to wear a helmet. No one got hurt badly, but there was one who had his leg caught under a horse after it fell down. 

Half way through the show, they brought out these beautiful Clydesdales pulling a wagon.

One of the neatest things to watch was two cowboys roping a calf. One would get the rope around its neck while the other got his back legs. The calves seemed so helpless, but they weren't hurt one bit.

Q and I had a great time being together. We also enjoyed our time with Hugh. Ministry isn't just about being an encouragement and help at church. It goes beyond that. I'm thankful that we can be a blessing to others in different settings. With Hugh, we were at a place that was just perfect for him. And that made our hearts smile.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Animal crackers and cocoa to drink

I enjoyed a fun activity with Kyla this week that I just had to share with all of you.....

Animal Crackers

Animal crackers and cocoa to drink,
  That is the finest of suppers, I think;
    When I'm grown up and can have what I please
  I think I shall always insist upon these.

What do you choose when you're offered a treat?
When Mother says, "What would you like best to eat?"
Is it waffles and syrup, or cinnamon toast?
It's cocoa and animals that I love the most.

The kitchen's the cosiest place that I know:
The kettle is singing, the stove is aglow,
And there in the twilight, how jolly to see,
The cocoa and animals waiting for me.

Daddy and Mother dine later in state,
With Mary to cook for them, Susan to wait;
But they don't have nearly as much fun as I
Who eat in the kitchen with nurse standing by;

And Daddy once said he would like to be me
Having cocoa and animals once more for tea!
--Christopher Marley

Aren't her eyes just beautiful? And check out that chocolate mustache!:)

While I read the poem to her, she loved eating this snack after her nap. I'll share the cracker and cocoa recipes soon. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I is for Israelites

This week at Kids' Bible Club our theme was "I is for Israelites." Almost everything we did revolved around footprints.

Bible Time: We learned the story of Abraham and Sarah--how God gave them a child in their old age and how God's chosen people wandered in the desert for 40 years before arriving at the Promised Land. The memory verse was Isaiah 58:11a which says, "And the Lord shall guide thee continually." During our prayer time, we used the new prayer sheet my husband made up as a guide. Each of us prayed for things in our lives, along with praying for the pastor, our deacons, the families and children in our church, and our neighborhood.

For our review time, we played a race game with these footprints. I drew a road on the white board, then drew large stones from start to finish. I found these footprint cut-outs in a Bible game set I've had for a long time. There was some sticky tack on the backs of them, so they were easy to move along the game board. Every time Mieka or Skylar answered a question about our story, they got to move their footprint. I also had the verse written on the board and erased a word at a time, then used that as questions for the game. 

Craft time: We made these footprint posters for our craft. I made the one above as a sample for them to follow. The directions for this had the kids stepping in paint with their feet, then walking along a big piece of craft paper. I thought that was too messy, so we made footprints with our hands. Have you ever done this before? I showed them how to make a fist then dip it into paint to make the main part of the foot. Then, they used a finger dipped in paint to make the toes--so cute! They look like baby feet.

To get them started, I spread the paint color of their choice onto a sponge then showed them how to make their little feet. When they were done painting, they drew a road around it and wrote, "We are thankful to God. He is faithful to us."

Snack time: I made this trail mix for our snack. I used the following amounts of snack items to make 6-1/2 cups of the Israelites Trail Mix: 1/2 cup almonds, 1/2 cup peanuts, 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 1 cup pretzel sticks, 3 cups salted popcorn, 1 cup raisins. 

The kids got to put about three cups of mix in these bags. Then, they walked around the table a few times eating some of their snack, pretending they were on a journey just like God's chosen people. 

Next week...J is for a man in the Old Testament who persevered despite adversity. He is one of my favorite Bible characters. Come back to find out who he is!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The best way to lose weight--guaranteed!

As Q has been sorting through things at the church, he's come across some items that will be helpful to him in ministry. He found one thing though that could be a big help to us as we're working hard to lose weight. It's a pretty old weight loss kit--the date on it says 1965! He brought it home one day last week and told me to take a look at it.

It's pretty fascinating, don't you think? See what's inside.....

Funny, eh? It gave us both some chuckles, but I don't think this will really help us out!

What do ya think? ;)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My favorite oatmeal

Oatmeal has been one of my favorite breakfast foods for years. It was a great day when I found and tried this recipe for baked oatmeal. It comes from the Fix-it and Enjoy-it Cookbook by Phyllis Pellman Good. It uses simple ingredients, but also allows you to be creative when adding the nuts and fruit you want. You can also prep it the night before.

The first time I made this recipe, I used brown sugar. The result was good, but it was better the next time when I used honey. I much prefer the honey because it isn't as dry and it is just better for you. I like making mine with chopped apples and almonds, but you can add just about anything to it. This is my new favorite oatmeal--perhaps it will be yours as well. Enjoy!

Baked Oatmeal

1/2 cup oil (I use canola oil)
1 cup honey or brown sugar
2 eggs
3 cups rolled or quick oatmeal, uncooked
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg, optional
1 cup chopped nuts, raisins, apples, or other fruit (dried cherries, dried cranberries, or 1/2 cup cut-up apricots work well)

1. Combine oil, honey or brown sugar, and eggs in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add dry oatmeal, baking powder, and milk. Mix well.
3. Add nuts and/or fruit. Mix well.
4. Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking pan.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
6. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature with milk.

It tastes so good with milk mixed into it. It is very filling, so you don't need a huge amount in your bowl to start your day. Kyla enjoyed eating this oatmeal, too. I'm glad that she eats anything I make for her.

What a silly girl! I think she's getting used to my camera being out a lot. If I took a picture of my spoon, she had to get a picture of hers as well.:)

Monday, January 18, 2010

The beginning of a new ministry

Yesterday was Q's first Sunday as pastor of First Baptist Church in Lafayette, CO. The months leading up to this day have been full of planning, excitement and anticipation.

The entire day was a blessing. I was very proud of my husband being up there on stage as he led the services and preached excellent messages. A surprise visit by two families from our last church made it even more special. I knew they were coming, but Q did not. Between them were five kids ages four and under! It made lunch fun and interesting as we all sat around a big table at Red Lobster. The conversation was encouraging and our meal was great. By the end of the day, we were both pretty tired. As much as Q loves to preach, it exhausts him as he spends all of his energy in sharing God's Word.

Q has begun spending time in his office, studying and working on church business. After he left for his other job today, I went over to church and took a few pictures. 

Here's a peek into Pastor Johnson's new office....

This welcome sign was left there by Pastor Kemper. Above it was a sign with his name on it. I told Q we ought to put his name on the door soon.

The book shelves are empty now, but won't be for long. Currently, his many boxes of books are in a spare room at the church. I can't wait to see how he makes the office his own.

As I got closer to his desk, I noticed that his Bible was open next to his devotional book. Besides being a preacher, Q is a student of God's Word.

When I became Q's wife, I also became a pastor's wife as he was then a youth pastor. During that time, I learned some important things that I hope to continue on in the ministry here. I need to remember these things: love God, love and honor my husband, love others unconditionally, and be myself! Being in the ministry doesn't mean we are "superhuman" or perfect. Sometimes there are expectations from within and from others that could get overwhelming at times. It's a good thing to remember that no matter where God has called us, that we must love and obey Him first and foremost. Service and love to others will come forth out of the love we have for God. I hope that this is an encouragement to you as it is to me.

Thanks so much for all of your prayers and support. Continue to keep us in your prayers as we begin in this new ministry. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hand-painted thank you card

As part of the celebration for the Kemper's, everyone was encouraged to write a note of thanks and bring it to the event. A basket was set out so that people could place their card inside. Since I've been enjoying watercolor painting with Kyla, I thought it would be fun to paint on a card.

When I first started painting, I decided I would just paint the two main flowers. As I kept going, I added the two bumblebees and butterfly. The word "thanks" is spelled out behind one of the bees. I used watercolor pencils, so painting the dots and details on the bugs were easy to do. I had fun painting this card. It was so relaxing, too.

Inside, Q wrote a message from the both of us expressing our thanks. We also placed a money gift for them to enjoy as they officially begin their retirement. 

What's been your latest art project? I'd love to hear what you've been up to.:)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thank you, Pastor and Mrs. Kemper, part 2

After our time together in the auditorium, we headed downstairs to the fellowship hall for a nice lunch. Church members brought in side dishes, salads and breads, while the church provided the brisket, chips and salsa, and cakes. Q cooked the brisket in crock pots and it worked out very well. He did a super organizing this special event by putting the program together, recruiting help, running errands, and doing a lot of the work himself. What a special guy, eh?:)

The decorations were simple--vases filled with fresh flowers on the tables and two bulletin boards. One board had pictures of Pastor Kemper from his childhood all the way up to his many years of ministry. The other one was one I put together and it looked like this:

I've always enjoyed drawing on whiteboards or chalkboards with color. Mrs. Kemper really liked it, so I was encouraged. 

The tables were full of great food! Folks walked down on both sides as they filled their plates.

It was such a fun time of fellowship around the tables.

This is the big cake made with the Kemper's favorite flavor--German chocolate!:) There was a smaller carrot cake that was just as delicious. Q found a bakery in town called, Indulge, to make these awesome cakes. My main job was to cut the cakes; the first cut was hard because they seemed too pretty to tear apart!;) I hope I can make cakes as beautiful as this one some day. Just have to keep on practicing...

One thing that really stood out to me during the testimony time is that the Kemper's have been faithful. One day when they see the Lord, they will hear these words--

"Well done, thou good and faithful servant."  Matthew 25:21

Thank you, Pastor and Mrs. Kemper for serving the Lord faithfully for so many years. 

So, what's next? They will remain members at our church and continue to serve the Lord. As for my husband, he's already begun as head pastor...which makes me the pastor's wife! More thoughts on this and our first Sunday later. Stay tuned!