Friday, December 30, 2011

Giveaway: Heroes and Villians of the Bible

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas season. As we have been packing up Christmas and decluttering and reorganizing the house for the new year, I realized I have a book from Tommy Nelson to give away.

Michael, our 6 yr old, really likes this book. I'm sure the girls will too when he gets finished.

Michael has been using Heroes & Villains of the Bible for his daily bedtime devotion. Each of the 50 stories includes an introduction to the story, Bible text and then a section to think about. It's geared toward kids ages 8 to 12. It is very appropriate for our six year old though.

One of my favorites is the story of Miriam and Moses. It begins by telling about the mean king, and uses Exodus 1:8-2:10 to tell the story. At the end there is a something to think about section. This one tells that heroes aren't always warriors, anyone can be a hero. This one touches my heart because it says, "Heroes know that they must stand up for the weak." Michael is a hero because this is his nature. His closet friend at school is a little boy who no one else will play with, he smells and often fills his backpack with the left over milk and cereal at breakfast. But Michael doesn't care he wants this little boy to have a friend.

If your looking for a new bedtime book or devotional this would be a great book. You can purchase it on Amazon or you can leave a comment below for a chance to win.

Enjoy this book with your children and learn more about how to be a hero not a villain.

How to win 2 chances:
1. Leave a comment below and tell me who you would read this book with.
2. Like my Facebook page mommyto4mjs. Then come back and leave me a comment. If you already like it just leave a comment saying so.

Contest will end at midnight New Year's Day. So while you're trying to keep your eyes open New Year's Eve come on over and enter.

Disclaimer: As always Thomas Nelson/Tommy Nelson Kids supplied me with a copy of the book to review and share with you.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

5x7 Folded Card

Merry Doodle Dandy Christmas Card
Quick and easy: Christmas photo cards at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Christmas Picture Fun -- With a Giveaway!

Sometimes we need friends, sometimes we need mentors, sometimes we get both in one person.

Back last winter Maggie found herself with a new best friend, Kellie. Their friendship started in Girls in Action at church. By summer break they were inseparable, spending several days and nights a week at each other's houses. They are so funny together and love hosting tea parties, luncheons and teaching all kinds of things. Through their friendship God has blessed me with a friend and mentor her mother, Wendy.

While Kellie is Maggie's age, Wendy's oldest three are college age, so when I say friend and mentor she has been there done that once already and now we get to do it together. I love the idea of having a friend who has experienced things with her kids before and then we get to experience them together with these two spunky girls. I know where Kellie gets her caring, loving heart from. (Sorry Greg.) Both of these Gals are a blessing to our family.

Wendy has started her own photography business, Wendy Iven's Photography this past year and I am obsessed with her photography skills. She is an amazing photographer. Last Saturday evening she came over to the house to shoot our Christmas card pics. We had scheduled and rescheduled on both ends for several weeks and finally got an hour that we could do them. Kellie came along to help and spend the night and we were keeping Ty that night so we had extra hands to help with all the animals.

I decided this was an us picture night, nothing fancy, no matching outfits, just us and some fun. I had put greenery on the mantel and a cheesy Christmas tree. I had wanted to finish it but it didn't happen. Nonetheless, we shot. For an hour we laughed, we cried, we laughed, we were scratched, we laughed, we heard sounds from the cat we had never heard before, we laughed, we were licked by the dogs, we laughed, we chased the bunny, we laughed, forgot the fish, moved the furniture, did I mention we laughed? We had an awesome time!

As Mikie went out to bring our almost one year old dogs, Maximus a Great Dane, Blue Healer mix and Lou Lou an English Mastiff up for their part in the pictures, Wendy asked if Mikie was adventurous. Now if you know Mikie you know when he shoots you the smirky, wide eyed grin he is gonna take what you just said and embarrass you. He asked what she meant and she told him she had brought Christmas lights to tie us up in, before she could say anything else he just grinned really big. Then we both knew where that was going and Wendy quickly said the kids were going to tie us up, gag us and it would be a "silent night."

An aside to this picture: I called Wednesday night to check on Kellie and Wendy since they weren't at church and after 30 minutes of listening to Wendy laugh while trying to tell me about this picture she was working on it popped up on Facebook. I'm thinking if she laughs as hard while she works on them as she did while taking them I may send them out for New Years. :)
I'm joking because she is very punctual and quick with her clients pictures!!! Okay and I have to admit I absolutely love Michael's hilarious expression in this photo. He looks like a little mischievous man.

Back to the photo shoot, Mikie brings the dogs to the porch, Maggie catches the cat and Mattie starts to get the bunny out. When I opened the door the dogs bound in and straight to Maggie where Green Eyes begins to scratch her and jumps out of her arms. Somehow she manages to get her and lock her in the bedroom while we chase the dogs all over the house. Lou Lou dug her claws into the hardwood and Mikie's hollering quit pulling her she's scratching the floor. Maximus is trying to pull the trash out of the can, Ty was trying to get out of the way. All Wendy and I could do was laugh.
Mikie sat in the floor and we finally got Maximus and Lou Lou to sit. Wendy tried to put the santa hat on Maximus but Mikie ended up with it. After licks, laughs and Lou Lou kicking Maggie out of the picture this is the preview Wendy sent.

While we waited on Mikie to put the dogs in the basement and Maggie and Mattie to get the other animals Mollie, Michael and I took a break. Can I just say, "I LOVE this picture." I think it's Michael's only sweet face pic in the whole bunch!

Then it was time to take the pictures with Green Eyes the cat and Mia the bunny and the fish whose tank we cleaned and downsized but forgot to put in the pic. I don't have a preview for those, but they weren't the funniest shots either. After that we were gagged and tied. And the kids tried to figure out how to spell NOEL, and showed their signature expressions. Then there were the friends pictures with Kellie and Ty.

The creepiest picture of the night has to be one of the faves on Facebook and Pinterest. The "Grinch!"

After it was all over, Wendy started packing her camera gear up and Mollie asked her to take one more. Mollie doesn't like to have her pictures made so Wendy couldn't miss it! Obviously I can't wait to see the rest of the pictures and I know Wendy is busily working on ours and other families too. 

I know many of you haven't had your Christmas pictures taken yet. Now's your chance! I'm giving away a sitting fee for a one hour session with Wendy of Wendy Iven's Photography with a value of $50. This is good in the East Tennessee area, she is based in Jefferson County but will travel within a reasonable distance. You don't have to use it for Christmas pics, but it would be a great time to get them done. 

To win you need to do any or all of the following and come back to this blog post and comment that you did them:
1. Follow Wendy Iven's Photography blog.
2. Follow Wendy Iven's Photography on Facebook
3. Follow Mommy to 4 MJ's on Facebook
4. Follow my blog mommyto4mjs
5. Tell me what kind of pictures you want Wendy to take.

So you have 5 chances to win. You receive one entry for each of the above that you complete and comment about on this blog post. Facebook comments will not be considered.

Contest ends December 1st.

Have fun looking at Wendy's awesome pics and Good Luck!

Disclaimer: This post is my opinion.  Wendy Iven's of Wendy Iven's Photography did not provide me anything free only a really great time while she took our pictures. The pictures I receive I purchase and the sitting fee I am giving away is paid for out of my pocket. Wendy is a great friend and I want to see her business flourish so let's help her out.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Giveaway, Tommy Nelson Kids Books

As October rolls to an end, we all know what is just around the corner, Christmas! Books make great Christmas presents. Tommy Nelson Kids has two new books now available. Our family has been reading these all month for our nightly book time and they love them.

The first Smack-Dab in the Middle of God's Love is Brennan Manning's very first children's book. Not familiar with Mr. Manning, he is the author of The Ragamuffin Gospel. This book tells children of God's endless love and showcases children from several ethnic backgrounds. Children often don't understand how God can love everyone, but we are always in the middle of God's love. This book is written for children ages 4-8.

Sheila Walsh author of the God's Little Princess Series,  has a new series coming out titled Gabby God's Little Angel. Gabby is geared for girls ages 3-7 and teaches how God uses His angels to care for us. Girls can even color Gabby's adventures with these coloring sheets.

Both of these books have a great message for children and beautiful illustrations. If you aren't familiar with Tommy Nelson Kids these books are a great way to get started.

Want to win  one of these books from Tommy Nelson Kids? You can earn a chance to win by commenting on the questions below, liking me on facebook and following me on twitter. That's 4 chances to win!! Come back and comment that you follow me on facebook and twitter.

Good Luck!!

 Ways to enter review:
1. Post a comment below to this question to win Gabby, God's Little Angel"
"When you're not with your kids how do you communicate that God and His angels are watching over them?"

2. Post a comment below to the following question to win Smack-Dab in the Middle of God's Love
"How do you teach your children to show God's love to the world?"

3. Like mommyto4mjs on facebook

4. Follow mommyto4mjs on twitter

Don't forget to comment below that you follow me on facebook and twitter. Remember your comments must be on this post!!

Contest ends Monday, October 31st at midnight!!!

Disclaimer: Tommy Nelson Kids has supplied me with the books for this review. This review is my opinion and I was not paid.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Hermie Extravaganza!!! and Giveaway

 WOW! What an awesome time to be young and learning to read. Tommy Nelson Kids is releasing a new series of books in October for children ages newborn to eight years. As a new "Tommy Mommy" I'm having A Hermie Extravaganza! 

My four children ages five through nine have loved the Hermie, the Caterpillar series by Max Lucado since they were really little. When the package came, for us to review three new Hermie books inside they landed on the couch ready to read. 

Mollie, who is five was excited that she could read to her seven year old sister Maggie. Although the book she picked up is a "Read 2 Me" book it is a great beginner reading book for early readers. 

You can check it out by clicking on the link to the book here: Thank You God for Blessing Me. The other "Read 2 Me" book is Thank You, God for Loving Me.

Six year old Michael likes the larger book, Hermie, A Common Caterpillar. He found it a little difficult to read as a beginning reader and first grader the first few times. Mattie, his nine year old sister helped him read it the first time. Now this book has become part of the kids 20 minute required reading time each night. 

All three books have been here for a few weeks and the kids are enjoying reading them. They mention names of friends at school and church who would enjoy these books. These books are great for any child to learn of God's love. 

To honor my commitment as a "Tommy Mommy" and to thank you for reading my blog Tommy Nelson Kids is giving away these three books to one lucky winner. In order for me to choose a winner you must enter by Friday, September 30th.

There are three opportunities to get your name in the hat:

1. Comment on this blog and tell me your favorite Hermie book and who you would share Hermie with. Never read a Hermie book?  That's okay just tell me who you would share them with.

2. Like my FaceBook page and share with your friends then come back to this post and leave a comment.

3. Follow me on Twitter, tweet about this giveaway and then come back to this post and leave a comment. 

Obviously this is my first "real" giveaway so I'm very excited. If you have any problems with any of the three ways to enter please let me know.

Disclaimer: This post is my opinion. While I have been compensated by Tommy Nelson Kids, with a set of these books, I am not paid by Tommy Nelson Kids.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Following the Lord's Path

Everything I have known for the last six years, four months, one week and three days changed this past Tuesday. I feel like I have become a traitor. I've deserted the path of  life I've known for so long and always wanted to have.

I know that this new path is the Lord's will. He has opened door after door and I have willingly followed. I have no doubts, only curiosity about what else He has in store.

I'm very thankful to have been able to be a stay at home mom for so long to our children. I am very thankful to have a husband who shared my passion for me to be home. He has worked long, hard hours everyday as well as through many deployments to make sure that I can be home and that we have everything we need. Notice I didn't say want. Living on one income has been tough at times. I'm not sure why the Lord has blessed us with the things we have. I have an ideal that it has to do with being faithful stewards with our money and continually giving of ourselves, our time and our money.

My first, before having children, passion was teaching music in the school system. Now as I reenter the workforce I get to do that again. I taught music and chorus for seven years before staying home. As my youngest enters kindergarten, I knew that I wanted to go back to work. I am very thankful for having the opportunity that is set before me this school year. A different school system and a new school for my children. New opportunities for them that they wouldn't have in our previous system, add to the excitement.

Expectations are high for me to succeed, not only mine but those of my administration and the high school choral director. It's nice to have a position where the success of your students is really appreciated and everyone wants to help you succeed. Not to mention all the technology, student keyboards and computer workstations, smart boards, elmo's, overhead projectors. Let's just say I felt like I was in music teacher heaven when I first walked in to my classroom Tuesday.

For many moms, working is their only choice and I have a very high respect for them. I have done both, worked with two kids while pregnant with the third and stay at home. I'm not sure how we are going to make it work, leaving so early for school, pick ups, working late, meetings all the things that come with working. But the Lord will take care of it. It was tough being home, it's going to be tough working.

I won't even go into the guilt that I originally felt about uprooting Mollie and not helping in her class since I did the oldest three. But I know it's best for her. I'm glad the Lord has turned my yellow brick road a different direction. I can't wait till tomorrow when I get to meet my middle schoolers at both of my schools. 

The Lord works in awesome ways. What are some ways He is working in your life today?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

GiveAways on Frugalissa Finds

If you haven't checked out local blogger Frugalissa Finds you need to do so today. She has several giveaways running through next week. Not only will you find these awesome giveaways, but also great deals at local stores among just a few of the cool things on her blog. Just click on the link above and find all the contest and great deals!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My summer of book reviews #1

       This summer I have completed a graduate level course in which I learned about using books in the classroom. During this class I read 21 Caldecott and Newbery Award books. Over the next few weeks I’m going to share those books with you. 
Our family loves to read and I have found several new books that are our new favorites. Today I want to share Sector 7 by David Weisner. Sector 7 was written in 1999, is a picture book and therefore was a Caldecott Honor book for the year of 2000. 
Since I wrote book reports on each of the books I read I’m going to leave them in semi-book report form for the most part. 

Synopsis: This book has no words to tell the story. A little boy takes a field trip to the Empire State building. At the top in the observatory he realizes how cloudy it is. His scarf and hat are blown off. He turns to see them on a smiling cloud. The cloud takes him to the “Cloud Dispatch Center” Sector 7. The clouds give him a tour of how they are made, where they receive their assignments, the design area, the whole sector. The clouds are bored with the same old clouds. The little boy draws them as stars, fish and other fun designs. Then the other humans there discover him and he is sent back on a taxi cloud; while the cloud he arrived on is led away to be punished. As he and the other students return to school they notice all the shaped clouds; clouds the little boy had designed and how were now happy. 
Illustrations: The illustrations for this book where done in watercolor. They are very exquisite. The pictures indeed tell the story. The reader is drawn into the book through the emotions of the boy and the cloud. The details of every picture are so perfect. One would feel like they are in “Sector 7” also. Words can’t describe how excited I felt looking at this book, I couldn’t wait to share it with my husband and kids. This book makes me wonder if there really is a “Sector 7” in the sky turning out clouds every day.

     This book would be a great asset in the classroom or homeschool science class in teaching about the different kinds of clouds. It would help to pull students in and get them excited about learning about clouds.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cars 2 Review

Today, the kids and I took my parents to see Cars 2. We had given Papaw handmade tickets for this movie for Father's Day so we were making good on our IOU. Let me say, we woke Papaw twice in the first 15 minutes of the movie. Of course, bless his heart, he had eaten a tub of popcorn during the 20 minutes that we sat in the theater waiting on the movie to start, so a nap was imminent.

We didn't see it in 3D, although I don't think it would make a difference. The beginning is slow, so slow that I was thinking the entire time of how much money I had wasted compared to if we had just waited and bought it on DVD. I must say, however, after the action started I was pleasantly surprised.

It's nothing like the first movie, so lower your expectations before you go. But if you like suspense, drama, and spies you should enjoy this one. I don't want to give away too much about the plot. Mater is the primary actor in this movie and there are several new cars. There is a lot of action, some of which could be scary for the younger crowd.

It does have two good morals. One, no matter what people say or think about you, what you do and think is more important. You can always do good for others, even if they don't think so. Moral two is that the dents of friendship are more important than being perfect.

The kids talked about how good it was and were glad we had went to see it. I had high expectations for it to be as awesome as the first so I was a little disappointed.

Would I watch it again? Not at the theater. Will I buy the DVD? Of course, cause the kids liked it. Would I recommend you run to the theater and see it? Only if you go during the $5.00 matinee time.

This is my personal opinion. I was not given any kind of payment for my review. Actually I paid quite a bit to be able give my personal review.  :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Titanic comes to life

On June 11th our family had the privilege of visiting the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee as part of the Mommy Bloggers group. Never having been to the Titanic the kids were more than a little excited about our trip. Although I had to repeatedly tell Michael, who is six,  we weren't sailing anywhere and we didn't need water for our trip, he still wasn't convinced. Our tour began with the 9:00 AM boarding. We were each given a boarding pass of a passenger that was on the actual Titanic. The boarding pass gave the passengers name, their class status, age and city of residence. Also on the boarding pass is a short story of the person it represents, telling who they were and why they were on the Titanic. The pass also includes a question, such as "Would there be a lifeboat for me?"

After receiving our boarding pass another member of the crew gave us each a listening device that we would use for the new audio tour. Our group was then ushered into the front room where we found out how our listening devices worked. The kids were so excited when we started through the museum. There are two different audio tours you can listen to. There is one for adults and one for children. On the wall there are plaques with numbers on them, blue for adults and red for children. You type in the number and press play. All four of our children loved being able to listen as they wanted to their own "story." Mollie, who is four, let me know real quick she knew what she was doing and needed NO help in punching in her numbers. As you listen to the adult tour you hear the voices of actual survivors of the Titanic as well as First Class Maid Jaynee. I listened to both tours in some areas and only to the kids in others. The biggest reason being that I wanted to be able to talk to the kids about what they were hearing.

As we moved from the first room into the second, there is a large map on the wall. The map showed the route the Titanic took. As we stepped up to the interactive panel in front of the map, Mary Kellogg, who along with her husband John Joslyn, (who led the 1986 expedition to the real Titanic), told how the Titanic left port and its future demise. She shared with our family her husband's desire to never let the Titanic, her passengers and their stories disappear. Her passion for this attraction was very evident in her telling of the Titanic. Personally it was my favorite part of the tour, to hear her passion and know that she is part of this important documentary of history.

We moved throughout the Titanic first seeing how Third Class passengers lived on the boat, visiting the dog kennel, shoveling coal into the furnace and ultimately standing at the bottom of the Grand Staircase.
We ascended the Grand Staircase after a visit with a crew member who told us about the materials used in building the staircase. On the next level we got to see the difference in Third Class living and First Class as we visited and learned of the wealthier passengers on the trip. We learned about three more of the passengers on our boarding passes.

A First Class Maid led Michael to a display to see the grossest thing on the ship. I locket of hair and beard. I can't remember the passengers name but he had cut it and mailed it to his wife. Michael thought it odd, but was more impressed with the maid's British accent, trying to decide if she really talked like that even when she wasn't on the Titanic.

Continuing on we steered the Titanic, touched an iceberg, felt the 28 degree water just like the passengers did that fateful night, sent SOS messages, climbed the deck at differing degrees of sinking and sat in a life size lifeboat. The kids played in the children's area and then we had our pictures made together.

We began to make our way to the end of our tour as we found the names on our boarding passes. Each of our passengers had survived the sinking. We saw pictures that were truly amazing and unbelievable. A room dedicated to the expedition to the Titanic tells of Mr. Joslyn's journey to the Titanic at the bottom of the ocean.

We turned in our audio tour devices and descended the Grand Staircase to make a visit to the gift shop. We purchased a thimble to remember our trip. Our nine year old, Mattie has talked about visiting the Titanic since it was being built. She was very pleased with her "awesome" tour and wanted to go back through. Maggie, our seven year old loved the dog kennel and trying to find Mademoiselle Frou Frou.
Michael was impressed that we had docked in the same exact spot the ship was in outside when we entered. Mollie liked the TotTitanic the best. Mike and I were very impressed with such detail and passion that has went into this museum. We are very thankful to have been able to be a part of this tour and see first hand what the Titanic was all about.

Someone asked me at church what I really thought of the Titanic. It is awesome, everyone should try to visit it at least once. Would I recommend it for small children under four, it depends. Mollie will be five next month and two hours was a little long for her, although the Tot-Titanic couldn't have come at a better point in the tour. If your child is four or younger it would depend on their attention span, but I would probably wait until they were a little older. I wish that I had remembered to print the scavenger hunt from the website before we went, mine would have loved to work on that. The website also has educational things on it and I should have done a little "teaching" before we went. It would have helped with all their questions, but we were able to talk and research more when we returned home. Mike who is a history buff researched about the sister ships of the Titanic and Mattie enjoyed sharing in another bit of history with her Daddy.

With that being said, go visit the Titanic, check out Titanic Museum online, friend them on Facebook at Titanic Museum Pigeon Forge, TN and follow them on Twitter at Titanic USA.

Disclaimer: Opinions in this blog are entirely mine. We received free admission to the Titanic as part of the mommy bloggers invite. Pictures found in this blog are from the Titanic Museum website as pictures are prohibited inside the museum.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mom's giant, rolling purse, the vehicle, gets organized

Mom, does your vehicle look like a giant purse? Take a few minutes this week and the following ideas and turn your giant, rolling purse into an organized vehicle of transportation for you and your family. This project requires a trash can, two baskets for returning items to their homes in the house or vehicle, a laundry basket works well, storage totes, a vacuum cleaner, wipes, window cleaner and car wash supplies or money for someone else to clean it inside and out and your children.
Start by taking everything out of the vehicle, younger children love to clean out the car, older kids may need a nudge. Place all items in either the trash or the baskets. Once everything is out of the vehicle you have two choices, if you have money in your budget for a trip to the car detail and wash shop go now. No money in the budget allows for more fun at home, wipe down all leather, vinyl and plastic parts inside, clean the windows inside and vacuum out the vehicle. Don't forget to clean the cup holders and compartments where the kids stash their candy, gum, crayons and lipgloss. Removing the seats will allow you to reach those nooks and crannies where the cheerios and change are collecting.
Now move onto the baskets, place the basket of items that go elsewhere in the house to be emptied later. The basket you have left needs to be sorted. The ages of your children and your families activities will help determine what items to keep in the vehicle. Sort the items that were found in the vehicle by activity or need, than make a list of items you need to retrieve from the house or need to purchase.
Once you have determined the items you need in your vehicle, what will contain them? Check the house for baskets or totes that you can use, if you must make a purchase decide what will be in the tote before purchasing in order to purchase the correct size. As with any organizing project your needs, wants and budget will make the final decision in what will stay in your vehicle.
Here is a list of supplies that you may need or want to keep in your vehicle. The list isn't comprehensive it only serves to get you started.
Everyday use items:
  1. first aid kit
  2. vomit bag
  3. trash can with extra bags
  4. jumper cables
  5. reusable grocery bags
  6. change of clothes for each child and mom
  7. sunglasses and hats
  8. extra diapers/pull ups if you have small children
  9. diaper wipes for spills and dirty faces or hands
  10. activity kit or goody bag for each child
  11. straws or sippy cups
  12. sunscreen
  13. hand sanitizer
Summer items for unplanned fun stops:
  1. picnic supplies: tablecloth, paper towels, forks, cups
  2. flip flops or water shoes
  3. laundry bag with outdoor toys: baseball items, frisbees, 
Winter items for breakdowns or weird weather:
  1. coats
  2. blankets
  3. scarves and mittens
Remember proof of insurance, car registration papers and the vehicle owner's manual should always be kept up front in the glove box or other compartment where you can quickly access it.
After the inside is finished the outside needs to be washed if it wasn't earlier. Take it to the car wash or pull out the water hose and have fun with the kids in the driveway. Then enjoy a picnic at the park.
To keep your giant, rolling purse organized remove any trash and unwanted items at the end of each day's trip and clean your vehicle inside and out once a month.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Who Inspires You?

We all have those people, besides our parents, in our lives who have really helped us become who we are. When I was in high school my piano teacher encouraged me to teach piano to younger children in my home. I did and loved it! From that experience I knew I wanted to be a music teacher. Because of the love and support of Ms. Omega I majored in Music Education in college and taught public school music for seven years before becoming a stay at home mom. I continue to teach piano to several students and enjoy hearing and seeing their excitement as they succeed one song after another.

As my youngest looks forward to starting kindergarten in the fall, I see another chapter of my life opening up, thanks to my children's kindergarten teachers.  My oldest two girls had the same kindergarten teacher, Mrs. McAvoy and my son has had her teaching buddy, Mrs. Duckett this year.

Over the three years that we have been in kindergarten I've come to realize that I will eat my words. I remember my very first day of teaching music. I had three kindergarten classes back to back and I told myself there is NO way I will ever teach kindergarten. Fast forward thirteen years, I'm chewing on those words right now. After teaching kindergarten through eighth grade music, staying home with my children and volunteering in the classrooms of those beloved kindergarten teachers mentioned above, I am proud to announce that I will be adding my K-6 elementary education endorsement starting this summer and praying for a kindergarten position. Although I know it won't be at the same school with these ladies cause that means one of them would have to quit.

I can honestly say both of these ladies have greatly influenced the last four years of my life. Watching as they involve themselves in the lives of each child in their classroom, working with parents, teaching the basics of kindergarten as well as life skills, these ladies can do it all. They have allowed me to step into their lives and considered me a friend, we've shared laughter and tears. We've comforted each other in time of pain and sorrow. We've chopped apples, dressed like pilgrims, dyed Easter eggs, panicked over emergency phone calls from parents, sang silly songs and they've taught me to bite my lip.

As summer break approaches I will miss my Wednesday fun of working in Mrs. Duckett's class with her and her extra special children and spending time with Mrs. McAvoy and her class when they team up for activities. As much as I don't want my youngest to start kindergarten in the fall, I also can't wait to get back into those kindergarten classrooms to learn more from those amazing teachers. I know that all of the kindergarten teachers at our school are as amazing as these two ladies it's just that I've spent more time with these, so please don't think any different.

So as I start the next journey in my life's book, I am thankful for teachers who not only take my children under their wings but also me. Who are willing to be "real" and themselves in the classroom just like they are in their own homes. Who inspire, encourage and believe in all from the youngest to the oldest (me) students in their classes. Thanks ladies for changing the lives of not only the students that you teach but this mother also. As the book by Robert Fulghum says All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

Has someone inspired you to make a life change? Leave me a comment below and you will be entered to win a copy of the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Contest ends Friday, May 27, 2011.

I have not been paid for citing this book. The book being given away was purchased with my own money.

I have barely touched the ways these ladies have inspired me, writing it all down could be a book.

My girls have had wonderful teachers every year, I've just spent more time in the classroom with these.

One lucky winner will be drawn. Good luck!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chaos in the Sanctuary

I told myself I wasn't going to do this but it is far too funny to let it pass.

Our two oldest daughters had the pleasure of spending Saturday night with the Worley family. The Worley's have five children ages two through eleven, four girls and that sweet little two year old boy. 

When me and the youngest two arrived at church this morning, I sat in our usually pew, (Mikie was at drill), and the kids went a pew back to sit with part of the Linsley family.

The choir made its way through the hall as the Worley crew, plus my two and another young lady shuffled into the pew behind, in front of and beside me. We joked about them beating the choir into their seats. 

The worship part of the service was fairly calm, other than sweet J turning her pocket inside out to drop her change in the offering plate. Then deciding that she only wanted to give a dime. I can't tell you who the deacon was at the end of the pew waiting on the offering plate because I was laughing so hard. 

As Pastor Bob started into his sermon, I hear this sound, singing, talking, maybe a cell phone, I couldn't tell. I notice my youngest was under the pew and the four kids sitting on the pew where she was supposed to be were giggling. While everyone around was checking their cell phones, I'm snapping my fingers to get her attention. Her stuffed animal that she swore was broken and didn't make a sound had suddenly revived itself with some French love song. Once it was passed to me I realized the switch had been broken off and had to make a not so discrete exit to the hallway to leave the animal. 

Back in the sanctuary that sweet little two year boy of theirs got upset and very loudly informed his mom that his dad had told him not to talk. Dr. C. got up to take him to the nursery and my pew of girls and I thought they were going to meet the floor. We still aren't sure what happened but there was a pretty good lunge and sudden straightening.

Michael asked to go to the potty so I let him go alone. In a minute J (same age as Michael and possibly a little too flirty together), needs to blow her nose. So K let her go out to the restroom. Six minutes later Michael and J return with grins on their faces. I asked if they had been in the bathroom together, which I was told no, that she had waited on him in the hallway.

After service Dr. C told me he only needed little C potty trained not J, (Michael has helped potty train 3 little boys in the last year. Were thinking about starting a potty training business.) 

Pastor Bob does an awesome job at ignoring the chaos on the first three pews, and so far hasn't asked any of us to move to the back.  

And in the words of the oldest Linsley child, "when your family, my family and the Worley's are together, the best you can hope for is a scene."

1. I used initials for the other families because I didn't ask permission to pick on their kids. 
2. It probably isn't as funny as it was if you were there! 
3. Mollie found her singing dog on the table in the hallway. I didn't throw it in the middle of the road like someone had figured I did. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

It was a dark and stormy night!

Ok, so I really wanted to title this post "Oh, Hail!" but I wasn't sure that would go over well with some people. The more I've thought about the storms from last Wednesday evening and night, I want to put some memories down.

Before school that morning I had "informed" my children that Nana and I would be getting pedicures, shopping and having lunch for our Mother's Day gifts. I told them there would be no early pickups from school today, belly aches, head aches and just not feeling good wouldn't get them picked up. I would only pickup early if they were dying. I told Mollie's Parent's Day Out teacher basically the same thing I had told the kids.

Nana and I got our pedicures and were shopping when it started raining and the wind picked up. As we were running in TJ Maxx my cell phone rung. It was Kristi, Mollie's PDO teacher. She had drawn the short straw and had to make the call. "I hated to have to call," she said. I was thinking about just telling her to let her take her nap somewhere else, but as I was thinking, "Oh what a wonderful day," she told me school was letting out early because of the storms.

Nana and I grabbed lunch and went to pick up kids. By this time the sun was shining which I've since learned is not a good thing with wild and wacky weather. As the big storms came closer to town the kids and I debated whether we wanted to go to church. But Michael, being a 6 year old genius, told me, "We are safer at church, because we can hide in the back class room downstairs and God is there. He will protect us." You guessed it, we went to church.

Mikie had decided he was leaving work 30 minutes early to beat the storm, walked to his van and had to return to his office because of a tornado warning in the county where he works. At 5:10 he called to say he was leaving, an hour after he originally tried to leave. He barely made it out of the front gate when another tornado warning was issued.

Church activities were busy that night as usual and there was only heavy rain. We stood around and talked and finally got home about eight o'clock.

As Mikie went out to bring Maximus from his outdoor kennel to the basement I heard a tornado warning had just been issued for our county. I quietly and peacefully told the children to go to the basement. Oh, okay I can't lie, they were upstairs, I was on the main level and I panicked. "Everybody downstairs, go to the basement now. I don't care that you're peeing. Finish in the basement. GO, GO, GO NOW!!!!"

 I've always aggravated my Mother (Nana) that it is her fault I'm terrified of storms. The last tornado that went through our little hometown was 34 years ago. She was pregnant with me and working at the White Way. The manager didn't know a tornado was coming through town and told her to hold the front door shut cause the wind was blowing everything in the store. Needless to say when she finally decided she couldn't hold the door shut and took off to the back of the store they realized what was going on. So I'm sure there is some inter-womb caused fear of storms there. Which one day I will think to ask my friend Kristel if that is possible.

Back to Wednesday night, as we went down the steps, I turned them around and sent them for flashlights while I informed Mikie who was now standing in the backyard looking up at the sky what was going on. One of these days the inevitable will happen he will become a lightening rod. I've heard we have other friends who may join him in this same demise.

As Mattie cried uncontrollably about her friends who didn't have basements, lived in apartments and the trailer park, about the cat who was afraid of the dog in the basement and chose to stay upstairs, and the bunny in the cage upstairs that I wouldn't bring to the basement because of the dog, Maggie and Michael discussed what they would do if Momma and Daddy died. This whole conversation was taking place in a very small bathroom which contains a toliet and vanity and at that time, 3 small lawn chairs, 4 very upset kids, one sitting on top of the toliet and a great dane. I shut the door and went outside with their Daddy.

As the first hail storm began, I went to the hallway outside the bathroom and sat down. Michael was deep in conversation with Maggie.

"If Momma and Daddy get killed I'll shoot myself with my new bow and arrow. I can't live without my Momma and Daddy." Me, "Michael your new arrows barely go through the target all you will do is hurt yourself." Him, "Then I'll get out my BB gun and shoot until I die." As much as I appreciate his dying love for me and his Daddy I couldn't help but laugh. Mikie broke up the woe is me and made them go to the sliding door to watch the hail storm. Once it stopped they had fun playing with it. And of course hollering "Oh Hail!"

This whole event occurred within 15 minutes of getting home from church and the power went out in the process. We spent the night in the basement, sat in the bathroom several more times, one included Mikie when he saw a cloud he didn't like the shape of over the lake. At 4:30 the next morning when Mikie got up to go to work we all went to our own beds. School had been canceled and we slept for a few more hours. Once we got up I surveyed the damage, which fortunately wasn't too bad, considering our neighbors got much worse. Pictures on the news and Facebook showed the damage to our friends homes and cars and to our little hometown were an F1 had passed through tearing up the high school and lots of homes, which started in that cloud Mikie didn't like over the lake.

As the kids and I spent the day doing basically nothing cause we were mentally and emotionally exhausted I thought about how God has blessed us. I don't know why He continually blesses my family. We aren't anything special, we just try our best to follow His will and do what He tells us to do. I pray for those families in my hometown and other counties close by that have damage and have lost loved ones. I can't understand why the Lord lets things like this happen. But I've realized it's not for me to understand or comprehend. Only to trust to Him.

Friday, April 29, 2011

My Royal Wedding

Ok, I have to admit, I only watched about 5 minutes of the entire Royal Wedding television event of the 21st Century. My girls on the other hand watched longer. They questioned why Prince Philip is not King and how the whole monarchy thing works, and why we Americans care in the first place. None of which I understand either, maybe someone can enlighten us all. Anyhow, we were pleased to see that Kate looked just like any other woman on her special day. Beautiful!

It got me thinking about my own wedding 13 years ago this month. It had been planned for 14 months and had grown from a small, simple affair to a much bigger, longer, more expensive gathering. It would have been much easier to have eloped or gotten married in my parents back yard (where I wanted to). Being the only daughter, my mother wanted everything in my wedding that she didn't have in hers. She and Daddy were paying, I obliged on everything except the dress.

The last few weeks became very nerve wracking. My soon to be husband was on a deployment and cutting it too close for comfort on his arrival back home. But nonetheless he made it home just in time. Our very talented soloist delivered her child early and was still able to grace us with her beautiful voice. The church's new carpet, pew coverings and wall paint were finished the week before our ceremony, a little behind schedule, but done. I appreciated them wanting to have it done before our ceremony, but everyone was a little nervous it wouldn't be. The new electronic grand piano had been ordered to replace the old organ and was late on delivery, so I spent the day before the ceremony playing and recording all of the instrumental music to its computer memory. Papaw had been placed back in the hospital, and bless his heart, promised me he wouldn't die (like he had a choice) until after our wedding if I promised to reserve him a "missing man" position on the pew. I did and he didn't, the Lord took him home to be with Mamaw two days later.

The day of the wedding was pretty laid back thank goodness. We didn't follow most of the wedding etiquette that Ms. Post would recommend in her books. We took almost all the pictures beforehand including the ones of Mikie and I. We let people in the door as they arrived, some out of town guests arrived extremely early.  My piano students and the children from the church's children's ministry (where I was working at the time) were honorary bridesmaids and groomsmen. They wore their Easter outfits and sat on the front pew in front of the family, because all children love weddings and should be able to see what's going on up front. No one stood as I walked in or out, because we both had Grandmothers who were not physically able to stand without assistance at length and we wanted them to be able to see.

The maid of honor hurt her foot the week of the ceremony and so she hobbled down the aisle way. Daddy and I slowly walked down the aisle to where my mother and Nana were seated when I realized I had left their roses in the back window of the church. I stopped, turned around, motioned to the wedding director to bring them to me. At this point the flower girl was heading back down the aisle when she stopped and crawled in Mom's lap, so she handed her off to the wedding director when she brought the roses. After giving the roses to Mom and Nana, I took a step and heard this extremely loud, air being sucked out of the room gasp by the 300+ people in the Sanctuary. As I attempted to take another step I felt my dress pulling behind me and thought that the wedding party would be viewing something they didn't need to be seeing. I had managed to get my train caught on the bottom of the candle holder fastened to the pew. As I had stepped the candle holder had tipped and my quick on her toes cousin had managed to catch it before it hit the new, just installed the week before carpet, or my dress.

We made it to the alter, where the Pastor proceeded to preach a 15 minute sermon before Daddy gave me away, he asked me if I took Mikie as my lawfully wedded wife, Mikie plighted me his "trough," I got really nervous and Mikie had to hold my music book while I sang to him (but it kept him occupied), it lasted 45 minutes and we exited to the "Hallelujah Chorus." Mikie let out a big, redneck whoop on the front porch of the church as we went out and half of the Hell's Angel's Motorcycle group must have been passing by.

Yes, it was a wonderful, eventful, hard to forget wedding, that will never be seen on national television or talked about for decades to come, but it was my day of royalty and no one else mattered. Well ok, maybe Mikie did. And my children love to watch the replay with Mom and Dad and have vowed if they get married it won't be anything like ours.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Do you do chores or jobs?

Do your kids have chores or jobs? We have both. Chores are done daily and pay in hugs and attaboys. Some jobs are daily, some are weekly but they pay commission. We've used chore/job charts for a long time to list what needs to be done, how much it pays if it does and when it needs to be done. We use them for a while and then it seems we get bored with that particular process and I switch to something else.

Even the kids get bored with the commission process. I've noticed lately that we are having more difficulty doing our chores/jobs because of a couple of new shows on PBS Kids in the afternoon. Then one of my piano student's Moms told me she has started paying in electronics time. So for each job/chore done correctly the child is awarded so many electronics minutes with his Nintendo DSi, computer time, TV times, etc. 

So for the next few weeks in our house we are going to try this, especially since Spring Break is next week and I won't be letting them lay around and watch TV everyday. Although that's what they will want to do. It will help with getting the work done around here and give them a chance to earn some TV time. They can earn enough time daily to watch a 30 minute show or can save their minutes for a longer time period.

I have typed up a new chore/job chart for them to check off and I think it will bring new excitement to our jobs.

This won't be a long standing process, I plan to use it for 4 weeks. I will then go back to commissions because I get paid in money for jobs that I do for others and I expect my kids to develop a work ethic. 

I know that we are going to have a few issues with the payments in minutes process because some of my kids could care less if they don't watch TV and other's will get up extra early to do all the chores/jobs for the day to get all the minutes. So I will have to manage it well as problems arise.

The other problem, and the main reason we will only do this for 4 weeks is that there is no way to tithe our TV minutes. It's hard to turn in a voucher to church for 10% of our time in front of the TV. However we can tithe 10% of our time in our Bible reading before we watch TV. 

My hope is that this process will get things done around here a lot faster and without much argument. I think it's a great idea and am thankful for the Mom who gave me the idea. 

Our first week starts Sunday, so we will see how it goes.

I can't upload my chore/job chart so if you would like a copy please email me and I will send it to you.
And if you know how to help me get it on my blog, please let me know!

Have a great weekend!!!