Sunday, March 23, 2014

Grace Speaks

Grace speaks:  Today I am thankful for my mother, who provides a home for me.  I am thankful for a roof over my head and I'm thankful for God, who created this world and cares for me.

Today we are visiting with good friends - fremly (friends who love like family) really- Uncle John, Aunt Kristin, UB, & Nick, Ben, Natalie. To Uncle Julio's we go with birthday cake in hand. Happy Birthday, in advance, to our dear UB.  It is a good day to celebrate. If only we had a sunny spring day with NO snow.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Photo by Valerie Wicks Photography
One of the greatest gifts we can bequeath our children is a passion for reading~

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I'm All Ears

“Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”  ― Catherine M. Wallace

Monday, December 09, 2013

And a Child Shall Lead Them

Months later and here we are busy as ever preparing for the most wonderful time of the year. The Gracie girl has one of the leads in the play at the CUMC, Hotel Bethlehem. As a stable girl at the Hotel Bethlehem, Grace sings about miracles and encourages Joseph to "never forget there is hope." She invites the hotel owner and the Samaritan visitor to offer the Christ child their heart and love as gifts to welcome the Savior. I am thrilled that Grace has an opportunity to shine and share the love of Jesus with others through this children's play. I'm so proud of her and praying for God to use her little...her big voice to point the way from the manger to the cross.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

No One Should Go Hungry

This has been a week of helping. The Great Chicago Food Depository put out a call for help to harvest a field of squash donated by a Morengo farmer.  This is a cause near and dear to our hearts so we volunteered. About 30 people picked over 33,000 pounds of squash in about 4 hours. This provided over 100,000 servings of delicious and healthy squash to Chicagoland families. What is not to love about THAT? Here are a few pics from our Grace FULL Day:

happy helper

baby squash

Grace is learning to use the clippers

Monday, September 16, 2013


I recently read that we have only 18 summers with our kids. That's not very many summers when you really think about it. Not many at all. While we LOVE the summer theater camp, it really eats up a big bunch of our summer days. Sadly, the school calendar says summer is over and we have not yet been to the beach!! Got to get there! What in the world is school doing when we still have so much summer to live out? Now we must squeeze in summer where we can - while we can. In the three short weeks since school began, we have visited three new beaches including our first Michigan beach adventure. There's not much time. We have to soak up these summer days!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Learning Cursive

Gracie hopped in the car today all excited! "Guess what! We started learning cursive today in school! Finally!" Wow - she is really thrilled to do this "grown up" writing. In fact, we stopped in to get my time sheet signed by my boss and all it took was one question about how school was going. Gracie laid it all out how she is learning to write all cursive swirly. My boss, the Special Ed Coordinator, was thrilled right along with her.

Interestingly, a colleague posted an article from Psychology Today about the benefits of writing in cursive including the integration of sensation, motor movement and thinking. In fact, one of those benefits are likened to the those of learning to play a musical instrument. That is music to my ears! Studies show kids "wrote more words, faster, and expressed more ideas when writing essays by hand versus with a keyboard." Fact is, cursive writing makes kids smarter and I like the sound of that. See the link here for the full blown article.

Friday, April 12, 2013

We love to sing. It runs in the family. This is one of my favorite kid songs. In fact, when someone asks me "What is today?", I might say the day with my mouth, but in my head I'm singing this bright song. All you hungry children, come and eat it up!

Thursday, March 07, 2013


God is into details��

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Making Playdough - the BEST Recipe

Best. Playdough. Ever. 
I've been making playdough a very long time. Long before I was a mom, I was a therapist. Before that, I was an early learning center director.  We made our own playdough - every single time. It was tons cheaper, lasted lots longer, smelled great, and you know how I feel about cooking with kids, right? All that math, science, reading, and sensory goodness...Yes, we made it. 

I still make it. I have a favorite recipe after trying quite a few.  The BEST EVER PLAYDOUGH is a made with Kool-Aid or some other unsweetened powered drink mix. That stuff was made to dissolve in water and that's the trick that so many people miss. Dissolve that color in the water BEFORE you mix it in the dry ingredients. Viola~ no color on the hands. EVER. Oh, the fruity fresh aroma of Kool-Aid playdough. What kid would NOT love it? In fact, I've held workshops with adults - parents, teachers, administrators, and such that can't keep their hands off the playdough.  Yes, I just give them some to take home and we are all happy. 

Enough chatter, here's the recipe:

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/2 salt
2 TBS cream of tartar
2 TBS vegatable oil    
2 pkg unsweetened Kool-Aid 

Put water in pan on low heat. Stir in Kool-Aid and dissolve. Add oil, then add dry ingredientsMix well and keep stirring until the mixture forms a ball of dough in the center of the pan.  This usually takes about 2-3 minutes, but you will know it when the playdough pulls away from the sides of the pan and makes a ball in the center. Remove from heat and dump out onto a clean, smooth surface.  Begin to knead the dough as soon as it is cool enough to touch.  Don't be a wimp. This is the therapeutic part - kneading that warm smelly playdough. Work it out. It's like a reverse massage. Ok, maybe not so much.

Of course, you can change it up. Instead of Kool-Aid, how about powdered cinnamon or ground coffee? That gives it more of a rough texture. You could leave it white, add glitter and there you have sparkly snow playdough.  We've added peppermint oil for a holiday flair.  Be creative. Be sensory. It's great. It's playdough. 
Don't forget to throw in a few kitchen gadgets or cookie cutters for play, but not right away. Let them just use their  hands and fingers for awhile. It's just plain fun.  If you have a little one that is texture shy, sit their favorite little toy on top. Let them rescue it from from the awful Playdough.  Then push it down a bit into the dough.  Then farther into the playdough and before long they are touching that stuff to uncover their beloved toy! Hide something tiny so they must use their little fingers to dig around. Oh, they joy!

For the mess sensitive parent out there and simply for the fact that boundaries are good for us, use a vinyl placement for your playdough play. Every time. Keep the playdough on your mat. Every time. Boundaries are good. Routine is a good companion.  

This mixture will keep for months if you seal it up in a ziplock bag immediately after play.  Play. Clean up. Zip it up. Of course, you might not want to keep it for months because little hands have big germs and kids do like to put things in their mouth.  Again, even   adults want to taste this yummy good playdough. It's from your cupboard except for the germs. So, keep it as long as you are comfortable.