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Friday, July 18, 2014

My sweet six year old - "I Love that you..."

I did this for my son back on his birthday and I really enjoyed writing it...now it's my daughter's turn! :)
To my sweet, smart, beautiful six year old:  Elita, this post is for you :)

I LOVE THAT YOU...

...almost always have a smile for me and everyone else around you.
...have the best laugh ever!

I love that 
...there are times when you are very shy and times when you aren't - and I never know when they're going to happen.
...the first thing you do every morning is crawl in bed with me and snuggle-then ask for my iPhone to watch pbskids :)
 ...your favorite show right now is Wild Kratts 
 ...your favorite food when you were a baby was black beans...and still now prefer them to most everything else (except maybe pizza and hot dogs)

I love that you 
...love to be creative...you find pipe cleaners and yarn and suddenly you have whole new worlds or a laser maze!!


...love karate because you "have to work hard" and you like it!
...can make a bed out of anything, anywhere, anytime and lay down and relax :)

 
...you have always loved the water. Bored? You can always play in the tub for an hour or more :)


...loved your friends in K and that they loved you so much they named their class pet after you :)
...love school and always want to do your best. 
 ...are so competitive that you got upset when the girls in your class didn't get dressed as fast as the boys after swimming lessons.

 

...want to grow your hair long so you can wear it like Queen Elsa's.
 ...like to get messy!

 

...can always make your Papa laugh :)

 

I love that...
...for the moment, I am your hero and can do no wrong...I know it won't last long so I cherish it while it lasts.
...when it comes time to read a book, hold a hand, dance, or most everything else - I'm your first choice...again, I cherish it while it lasts :)
...you ask Papa to take you to play soccer and have a blast.



I love that you...
...have a wonderful sense of humor
...hate it when I brush your hair, but paul can yank it out and you laugh.
...ask to do silly things-like spray my car when it's raining. 

 

...never give up and will persevere even if I or anyone else says you don't have to keep trying. 

 

...adore every kind of animal and want to be a vet when you grow up (or a teacher, or musician...and definitely a mama)
...have already informed me that when you move out of our house you are going to buy pets (we're allergic...she's not)

 

...you are trying very hard to learn Spanish.
...you love Peru and ask all the time when you are going to get to go visit

 


...I love that your brother is one of the few people who can make you laugh so hard you make this happy face... :)

 

...ask to sing in church and love getting on the microphone.
...love to read.
...adore your brother and (most of the time) beg him to play with you. 



I love that...
 ...anytime music or a song comes on in a movie you tell me to dance with you.
...whenever I play dollhouse with you I have to be all the "boys"
...you can find any baby within a mile radius - and then love all over him/her.


...you take your time and remind me to stop rushing and enjoy life!
 
...you never complain about your peanut allergy even if that means not getting cupcakes and treats at school or missing out on the entire buffet of desserts at a church luncheon or at Golden Corral.
...you pick out your favorite shirt, your favorite pants and your favorite shoes (for that day) and wear them...even though none of them match. They're your faves so who cares?! :)


...you say "mama, mama" 1452 times a day and "mama will you play with me?" 549 times a day :)
...you have hardly any interest in video games
...you are excited about going to Pennsylvania to "play in the snow", even though you don't like cold weather
...you bring up God at random times and remind us that God loves us and made all of us...

AND, I love that the only thing you asked to do today was get a donut and watch the sunrise on the beach like last year :)
Wish granted!!


I love you little monkey!!  You put a smile on my face every morning! Happy Birthday!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Following God's call...

Noe and I had been discussing the possibility of moving for a while but decided to leave it in Gods hands. It's the best place to leave things right? So we put his PIF online (what Presbyterian clergy do when they are looking for a new call) in March and "let it go".  If we got called to another church we knew it would be God's decision...if we didn't, then we'd stay put.

As usual, God's timing is impeccable and His sense of humor is evident. Why? Wait to you hear where we're going :) You see, we decided that if we were going to move, we wanted to go near NC so we could be closer to family. We only applied to the surrounding states.  Then, one afternoon while I was goofing around on the computer and wasting time til the kids had to be picked up from school, I decided to search for the position he wanted rather than the state...just for fun :) When doing that I came across a church called Highland Presbyterian Church...and clicked on the web page.

The more I looked the more I fell in love. So much so, that when Noe came through the door, I told him-"I found our new church".  No kidding. I used those exact words!  He wasn't convinced at first (and maybe I wasn't either)-since the location wasn't where we wanted to go. However he liked it enough that he applied. Then another funny thing happened...after the first interview he came home saying - I don't think it went that well. I'm not sure we'll hear back. And we didn't...for a while. We had actually "written it off" as a no. Then they called back and asked for a follow up interview...and then another...and the rest is history.  There were many other interviews and a few other possibilities...but all the while this church was in the back of my mind...it just felt right. Despite the location, Noe and I found ourselves rooting for it by the end. Noe was so confident in fact that this was God's new call for us, that we accepted it without me having seen it. The power of the Holy Spirit!
So, now that it is official and both churches know, we can tell the world :) so, where are we headed?!?...




Somewhere with beautiful farmland and rolling hills...(which is right up this country girl's alley...and noe's Peruvian side loves the quietness of the area!)...
A place that has four seasons :) lol

One of the largest model trains ever...so I read in one of the tourist magazines :). Cool train museums and rides here :) my Dad and uncles will be excited :)

 
So many beautiful covered Bridges that they actually have a tour...went through one on my visit-very cool. I can see my mom enjoying this :)


Somewhere that has lots of markets with fresh food...

Due in part to the Amish population...

Have you guessed yet?!  Here's another hint...
This well-known landmark is only 30 minutes away��. Lol Kids are excited about that (yeah, ok...me too).  So now you know right?! 

 PENNSYLVANIA!!! 

More specifically,
Lancaster, PA. 
Yes, I know what you are thinking...you're going from tropical South Florida to PA!?!  Yep. Despite our trepidation with the snow and cold, we know God is with us...and will help us adjust :). I hope somebody teaches us how to drive in snow though!! Lol. We hit a few awesome winter sales and now have coats, long pants, sweatshirts and hats...the kids even got boots :) they are ready to play in the snow!!
They loved the hats, but how am I going to tell them they'll be wearing coats and gloves with them instead of t-shirts and flip flops? Lol. 

We are excited about our move although we will miss our church family here at Sunset tremendously...and hope you will say a prayer for us and Sunset (and Highland!) during this time of transition. It has been a wonderful three years here and we know that the seeds have been planted so that the church will now blossom and do great things under their next pastor. 

Thanks everyone and enjoy the rest of your summer!!!


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

SENSORY BIN IDEAS WITHOUT FOOD


A friend of mine went on a mission trip where she did a VBS with the local children.  One of the activities she did was making maracas out of plates and dried beans.  The activity went well and the children had fun making them; but after the activity she saw the mothers come in and start picking up the dried beans off the floor and tables...not to help clean up, but to put them in their pockets so they could cook them later.  She realized what she had done and felt bad - she could've used little rocks or any number of things that can be found laying around.  

After hearing this story, after living in Peru for two years, after meeting many families here and in third world countries that are in great need, after having a child with a food allergy (click on link), after developing food intolerances myself (link) and after having a niece with PWS (want to know what PWS  is? click the link!)...I realized that food is a necessity - not a luxury.  It's not something to be wasted or used randomly...whether in the classroom or at home. We need to be sensitive to those students that are in our class that may not have enough to eat or have different eating habits/allergies...but instead we're sending them home with a dried noodle picture of a dog.  Not cool. 

 So, for the past two years as a prek teacher I promised myself that I would not use food for any craft OR in my sensory table (where tons of rice and noodles are wasted by schools).  It was difficult at times because most sites you go to that have ideas include food in the majority of their sensory bins.  However, I have here 16 sensory bins that go with different themes I have taught the past few years...and 
none include food :) 

I will say, I kind of cheated on one because I used baking soda...not sure if that counts - but I included it anyway :)  Hopefully you can find some substitutes for your next sensory bin...and donate that food you would've used to a local food bank :)

The 16 listed below are bins that were "special'...I also used sand once or twice just for fun, and water a few times with measuring utensils.  I also used playdoh quite a bit because the children LOVED playdoh :)  But here are some ideas that are NOT just your regular sensory bins...


1.  Sea Animals - I did two sensory bins with this unit.  I found some cute fishing poles and fish at the dollar store so we did that one week... 


2.  And then we made "buoyant buddies" - an activity I found years ago at familyfun.com...which no longer exists.  I thought you might like the printable though so I scanned in my printouts and put them on my teacherspayteachers site (which you can join for free) and you can download the printables for free!  They're pretty cute - just need foam, scissors, permanent markers for the faces and embellishments, hot glue gun  and a cork for each child.  Each child made one at the beginning of the week and we used them in our water sensory bin the rest of the week.  


3.  We talked a lot about water this year - where we find it, what we use it for, etc.  So, for one week we had a "beach" in our sensory bin!  You can see on the left how I set it up - I have a pool set that had floats and pool chairs, and I have a Diego scuba diver - they came in handy for the beach :)  It was a little more work because I had to set it back up every day...as you can see on the right, after making waves and playing in the water, the sand and water eventually became "one" :)  But the kids loved it!!





   

4.  Another animal themed bin I made was "painting with animals".  I did it with zoo animals but you could use any kind.  Just line the bin with paper, put a few blobs of paint on the paper, and have the children walk the animals around!  so simple and so fun!!  Honestly, the finished project looked so cool we hung it up for a long time :)


5.  We also learned about opposites - like hot/cold - and we learned about animals that live in cold habitats.  So, I made a "cold" bin.  They were all dying to play there...but most of them only played for about 5 minutes..."It's COLD Ms. Laurie!!".  lol  I used penguins, a HUGE block of ice, white rocks for little pieces of ice, polar bears, tongs, a shark and of course Diego and his boat to save the animals!


6.  One last animal bin I did was about Habitats.  I saw this idea on pinterest and tweeked it a bit to suit my class and what they were learning.  I had three habitats - desert (sand and camels), water (alligators, frogs and a hippo I had laying around :) and the forest/jungle (with elephants, giraffes and a lion I found).  

 

7.  Ok, I lied.  There were a few more animal bins I did :)  I did different ones each year so I have quite a variety!  We did a FARM bin using a small barn I had and that stuff from the dollar tree that looks like hay :)  You can see it in the picture.  


8.  Lastly, and, one of my favorites was a play-doh zoo!  I saw this idea on pinterest and went with it!  I made 2 batches of play-doh (it takes a lot!) and gave them TONS of popsicle sticks and they made some wonderful zoos!! (and what a great fine motor activity! shhhh.... :)


9.  For Easter, I made an "I spy" Easter bin.  I LOVE hiding stuff and making them look for it :)  And they like doing it!  You know all those little squinky balls you have laying around that you don't know what to do with?!  Well, use them for miniature Easter eggs and hide them :)  The kids picked them up with the tongs and then had to put them in a bucket - you could color coordinate if you have the materials.  I also hid a few other little "springy" type items in the Easter grass - like frogs, rabbits, etc.
  

10.  SNOW!!  Such as easy activity and they absolutely loved it.  Mix baking soda and conditioner to your liking (I had to mess around with it to get the right consistency) then dump it in your bin!  I added spoons, buckets, and little beads to make the snowman's nose, eyes and buttons (I didn't have any kids that put stuff in their mouths...otherwise I wouldn't have put those out)
  
  

11.  Mixing Colors is one of my favorites and one that the children asked for repeatedly.  So fun, so easy and they learn a lot!  I have some great plastic "beakers" that have a little stand.  I've seen them in magazines and online, but I got these in a cooking chemistry set.  I used medicine dispensers (first I had to show them how to use them...but they caught on quick) and put one in each bowl of my 3 primary colors - red, yellow and blue. They mixed the colors in the tubes to see what colors they could make, then dumped them in the bucket I had beside it (the yoplait yogurt container :).  

  

12.  SAND.  I did use sand a few times.  One was to create a desert habitat and I put some cacti and camels in it, another was to bury dinosaur "fossils" that I printed out from Curious George on pbskids.  It's a dino skeleton - they had to find the pieces and put it together!  I laminated the pieces and had velcro on the back so all they had to do was stick the pieces on the velcro...  

  


13.  DIRT - planting and harvesting.  So, I actually learned a little from doing this activity. We were studying plants and the "harvest" around Thanksgiving and I looked up online what plants (besides potatoes and carrots which I knew :) grew underground.  Once I found a variety (peanuts, radishes, potatoes and carrots) I "planted" them in the dirt (left picture).  The children harvested the food - I had the top of the bin on the floor and that's where they sorted their veggies - then they had to re-plant them for the next person.  I stuck part of the plant up out of the soil, but the children liked to hide them :)

      

14.  Gak, Slime and Goo!!  We made a variety of creepy substances over the last couple of years - and after making it together (or separately at the table), we put it all in the sensory bin so we could all enjoy it :)  I let them stick toys in it too (check out the "gooey" princesses.  lol).   



15.  Christmas I spy! This was fun.  I took a trip to the Dollar store and bought lots of little Christmas trinkets - the only specification was, they had to have a double.  I taped one of each onto the top of my bin (and put a little Christmas ribbon around it to keep it festive :) and they had to find the matching one hidden in the Christmas colored "hay" from the Dollar store.


       

16.  A good fine motor activity I put in the bin was pre-drilled wood, screws and screwdrivers.  The children couldn't wait to take their turn with this :)  All they really did was screw the screws into the wood...but they loved working with the tools!