Friday, February 27, 2015

Making our Solar System

We have spent the last few weeks learning about our solar system.  It all started when Colton was extremely interested in rockets and space travel, so we checked out several books from the library and learned all about rockets, space suits, and of course, the planets and moon. 

"The Kingfisher" Space Encyclopedia is a favorite. 
Colton keeps talking about wanted to be an astronaut someday, so we learned all about what he would need to do to become one :).  Through reading and talking about our books from the library, Summer grew quite interested in how the solar system all fits together, especially how our planet interacts with the rest of the universe.  Her most frequent question at dinner is, "Will you please teach me something about the earth?"  To which Daddy takes over (with much gratitude from me, as I have been fielding questions all day!) and teaches all sorts of interesting facts about everything from tides, to the make-up of the earth, to the oceans, and so much more!  They are such sponges right now, and so curious!

Anyway, this morning (day 2 of kiddo colds/coughs and freezing weather, keeping us inside all day!) we decided to make our solar system.  We started by collecting all the balls in the house.

Then, we found pictures that compared the sizes of the planets and the sun and learned from this link and realized we would need Mommy's exercise ball for the sun and little tiny marbles (and an earring!) for the small planets and the earth's moon.

Colton helped me find balls that could represent each planet, trying to get the sizes as approximate as possible.  He and I also looked at this really cool interactive site to help us find out how big the moon should be as compared to all of our planets.

Summer used another site to write down all of the names of the planets on post-it notes to use as labels.

In the meantime, Colton and I looked at the pictures in his book to find out what colors we should make the planets and started wrapping them up in corresponding tissue paper.

Looking at the planets in the Kingfisher Space Encyclopedia to find colors of the planets

Making Saturn

We discussed what we should do for Saturn's rings, and Colton (all on his own) said we should use tracks from his train table.  Great idea, Colton!

Making Saturn's rings.
 When Summer finished making the labels, she helped us make "the big red spot" for Jupiter and make the earth by wrapping a ball in blue tissue paper and taping on green tissue paper.

Summer making the "big red spot" for Jupiter
 Then we took turns taking a planet and putting it the order it appears in distance from the sun.

They were pretty proud of the solar system they made!
Then we spent a long time talking about the planets.  We looked at each one and talked about what is special about each one.  Summer helped demonstrate how the earth rotates around the sun (she walked around the sun holding earth to demonstrate) and how that is one year.  We also talked about how the earth spins, demonstrated that, and talked about night vs. day.  Colton demonstrated how the moon rotates around the sun, and we talked about how gravity keeps it in place, how there is less gravity on the moon, and how the moon affects the tides.  These are all things we have talked about A LOT before in the past few weeks, but it was fun to talk about them with our "model".  Finally, we took turns picking up a planet and putting it in order by size, and I was very impressed that Colton could put them in order from smallest to biggest.   Colton loves playing with his planes, and had fun flying his planes all around "the solar system", after we completed it :).

Here are some videos...

Starting to put the planets in order from sun...

Discussing the Planets...

Putting Planets in order by Size...

What better way to learn how amazing God is than to learn about our solar system!  He is so creative, big, and praiseworthy, and we thank him for caring about tiny little us!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Long Ponytails and Girl Talk

I had my first "body image" talk with Summer this morning.  Unbeknownst to me, when she requested a high ponytail this morning, she had an image in her head of a beautiful Mexican girl she played with last week whose ponytail was thick and long.  Within a few minutes, my sweet little girl rounded the corner where I was doing dishes and, holding back the tears, said, "My ponytail isn't long enough." 

Immediately I sensed that her comment was the tip of an iceberg of thoughts and feelings, and I knew that this was a moment for a heart-to-heart Mommy-daughter chat.  As I dried off my hands and pulled her into my lap, I could feel the tears inside me welling up that "this" was starting at age 4 - the insecurity and comparing that we as women fight against literally everyday. 

We talked about how as girls "prettying ourselves" can be so much fun - shopping for cute clothes, accessorizing, and doing our hair and nails.  However, this fun can become an issue when we start comparing ourselves to others, thinking less of ourselves, and especially when/if we make judgmental or rude comments (even if it is just in our heads) about others to make ourselves feel better.

We talked specifically about how when God created Summer he made her exactly how he wanted to make her and when we talk badly about ourselves it is talking badly about God's beautiful artwork.

I started listing my favorite features about her, and got a smile out of her :).  Then, we talked about how being beautiful on the inside is way more important, and talked about the beautiful things I see going on inside of her.

We prayed together - we prayed for Mommy, Summer, and Larkyn - to have our confidence come from who we are in Christ - not from how we look on the outside.

I also shared with her one of my favorite verses on the topic, (as she noted by all the scribbles, underlining and star by it in my Bible!),

1 Peter 3:3-4
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

When I think of Max Lucado's children's book, You are Special, I picture us as Eli's little wooden creations whose only importance is because of their Maker.  Looking in from the outside, it is easy to see how silly it is to be concerned over external things such as a "ponytail that isn't long enough", yet I know I do this sort of thinking everyday, in my own way, about my own issues.  We, especially as girls, need to step outside ourselves and see ourselves how God sees us, and realize how completely insignificant and shallow our appearance is in the light of eternity.  (Easier said than done!)

I love the lyrics to Jamie Grace's song "Every Bit Of Lovely"
You’re lovely, every bit of lovely
Don’t you know that you're God’s original work of art, yes you are
So don’t ever let them tell you that you’re less than wonderful
Cause you’re a one and only
You’re every little bit, every little bit of lovely 

I know its an uphill battle that she will continue to fight for the rest of her life, but I COMMIT to fighting this one as a mother-daughter team through consistent prayer.

God, please give us the perspective to see ourselves as you do and the strength to act in accordance with that truth.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Valentine's Day

My Valentine's
 The kids had been talking about our "red" dinner for weeks!  We discussed our menu QUITE a bit, the kids thought of all the red foods they could think of before we shopped and were so excited as they helped set the table and get ready for our Valentine's Day dinner.  We had our red dinner on Friday the 13th this year.

Summer got out the stemware and was so excited to hang up the Valentine's lights

Menu: "Crazy Noodle Night" (mixing all types of pasta) with red sauce, red peppers and cherry tomatos, strawberries/raspberry/pomegranate fruit salad, and bread.

The cupcakes weren't red...but they were so good!  The kids helped make them loved licking the frosting off the beaters.
Blurry picture...but I like remembering where everyone sits right now :)

Drinking red sparkling juice out of the stemware was a definite highlight!

Love these boys faces as they toast ;)
 On Valentine's Day (Saturday), we took the kids to Mall of America to ride on some rides.  It was a fun family evening complete with dinner at (Summer's choice) A&W at the food court.  The kids each got to ride 3 rides (which took a while with all the lines!).

Ride #1 : the trucks
 Ride #2, the bouncer (see video)

Ride #3: the speedy cars (adult necessary)

Daddy went with each kid :)

Mommy cuddled with this lovebug
Larkyn is such an easy going baby and fell asleep for a catnap while the others rode rides.
My parents and my sister/Eric all four requested to babysit for us while Paul and I go on a Valentine's Day date (are we lucky or what?!), so Paul and I are looking forward to our time alone coming up on Saturday the 28th. :)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Kiddie Valentine's Day Party

Kids are VERY excited for the Valentine's Day party and have been looking forward to it for weeks!
 We had our 4th annual Valentine's Day kiddie party today (click on these links to see pictures from the first, second, and third annual Valentine's day parties) - and wow, has the group of kids grown!  Several of us met through ECFE when our "firsts" were under a year old...and this morning our army of kids numbered 19 with two more on the way this coming summer/fall!  It was definitely "crazy" fun today!

We have been talking about our Valentine's Day party for weeks now, and the kids excitedly worked on getting their Valentine's Day boxes and Valentine's all ready to go.

Summer chose to make a princess castle Valentine's Day box

She put a picture of Belle on the back

Colton wanted to make a Mater (the toe truck from the movie Cars) box

He did a great job coloring the wheels

And he especially liked Mater's "hook"

Larkyn was happy with her piggy Valentine's day box :)

To pass out to friends, Summer picked princess pretzel Valentines and wrote the labels by herself.  Colton picked cars pretzel Valentines and stuck the labels on himself.  We all helped make Larkyn's heart Valentines.

Valentine's from the kids

 Ms. Kristine hosted our Valentine's Day party this year and has the perfect hill in her backyard for sledding!
The kids LOVED the sledding and would have kept sledding had it not been time to move inside for the rest of the party!

It was the perfect size hill that they could climb back up all by themselves


Ms. Kristine organized a scavenger hunt with each kid's name on a heart somewhere in the house.  They had to find their name and turn in their heart for a prize.  Summer's was hidden on an end table.

Colton's was hidden under the dining room table.

The kids then "delivered mail", passing out their Valentine's

Both S and C liked this part :)

Ms. Kristine was a saint to have 19 kids (all 4 and under!) eating in her home...

The house was pretty quiet while they were eating!

The annual "couch" picture!

And of course one of the best parts of a Valentine's Day party is getting home and opening up their Valentines.
The kids got quite a few!
A huge thank you to Ms. Kristine for hosting the crazy!!  I am so thankful for all these amazing moms that are always willing to help and love on my kids, and for the four years of friendship.  We love you all!