Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Read This and Pray Please

Dear friends and followers,

I have much to discuss and catch up on, but that's not on the agenda for tonight's post.

I want to link you to my aunt's (actually my husband's aunt) blog. Aunt Nancy is a vibrant, fun-loving, God-following wife, mom, and grandmother who was recently diagnosed with ALS. Our family members and her countless friends are heartbroken over this diagnosis. We covet your prayers for her, her husband, four children, two son-in-laws, one daughter-in-law to-be, two grandsons, and the rest of us, all the many who love Nancy. Please read her blog "More to Say" and pray.

If you are interested in helping in another tangible way; you can purchase a "Helping Nancy Fight ALS" bracelet for $3. Her daughter, Anna Grace came up with this fantastic idea. If you are interested in a purchase you can contact me and we can get work out something.

Thank you - Ashley

Thursday, July 8, 2010

New Home

We've now been in our home for a week. On July 1st Brady and I moved in to our new rent house. Adam came the next afternoon. He was a day late because the movers were a day late picking up our stuff and he spent some much needed time catching up with his cousin on the way here. Brady and I have now been in Little Rock for over a month. Without our stuff. Well, we packed our bags full of clothes, some books, a few toys, but really without our stuff. Why are we still here without our stuff? Because the movers still haven't arrived and we can't get them to answer our calls!!! We are beyond happy with our new place and feel so blessed to be where we are. So, another few days without our stuff, we'll take it.

No pictures of the new house yet- that'll come, so for now a picture from our last moving announcement.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

This Place

In April of '07 Adam and I traveled to Durham to find a place to live. I remember viewing the lush green trees, meeting friendly strangers, seeing college girls dressed in familiar (although shorter than HU regulation) ways, eating tasty fare and thinking, "I can do this. This is far, but not so different. We're gonna like it here. "

Our time in NC has been plagued by residency. It's taken a toll on us, on our marriage, but we have survived. (Or at least, we've almost survived as it is not quite over.) I think we could have REALLY loved this place had we not come here under these circumstances.

Ever since thinking about starting a blog I've wanted to have a post titled "I love this/hate this town." We quickly tabulated the places and things that were better and those that were worse than Little Rock-our only reference point. My list has changed somewhat over time and perhaps someday I'll write that post. In fact writing after moving back to LR might give it a whole new perspective.

As with any place, it's not so much the place as it is the people that make the place. And by golly, do I know some people that have made this place great for me. I'm going to miss them deeply. Too much to put into words here. So, we'll just skip all that. But, I'll also miss this place. This city. It's sights. This house. This is the house where my baby became a girl. We've had some times here. Oh this place, this city, this house, this yard. I'll miss it.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Brady in the backyard shortly after we moved here.

So we are in the midst of moving. We're heading back to our home in Little Rock, Arkansas. And we couldn't be happier and yet it is so bittersweet. I feel overwhelmed at almost every turn. We still have lots of uncertainties looming ahead of us. I know that God is in control and that He WILL work out all things for us. I am certain of this, but I must remind myself of this over and over throughout the day. We are working out the details of a possible home to live in, the date and time we are moving, the method of moving we'll use, and countless other details about what to take, what to sell, how to sell, etc....... I'm looking back at this post I wrote several months back. This is still my desire.

My presence on this site is obviously absentee. Between losing my laptop, moving, and life this place has fallen in the ranks of priorities. I still have high hopes, someday perhaps.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Lost River Duke Chandler 8/28/2000-4/22/2010
a quick photo tribute, written post to come

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bug Unit

Last Spring Brady and I did a lot of fun learning/playing about bugs. Here's a quick review. We played our bug band instruments and danced. (This bug band was a present for B's first Birthday and it is still a loved toy.)
I made up a quick and easy game. Think I got the idea from My Montessori Journey. I took a piece of construction paper and cut it in 2, then added flower stickers (4 rows of 3) on each half. Put stickers with 1, 2, and 3 over the dots on a die. Grabbed some bee grahams. Each player simply takes turns rolling the die and then places the correct number of bees on the corresponding flowers. Once your board is full- eat up and then play again! This is great for turn taking and one-to-one correspondence.
We took a trip to the NC Museum of Life and Science, which we frequent since we are members, but on this occasion we really took time to do a little extra learning in the butterfly and bug house.
We read a bunch of great bug themed books from the library. This one is called Remainder of One. I think it's a Math Start book. The basic plot is that there is a bug parade and one little bug is left out of the marching rows. The bugs keep changing the number and size of rows until they all fit evenly. Wow- great math skills! One day we used our dollar store bug erasers to fit each scenario.
We even ate bugs for lunch one day! Spider hot dogs with spaghetti, ladybug apples with peanut butter and chocolate chips and a cheese stick and almond caterpillar. Fun stuff! This weekend we went to a great bug Birthday party at the Museum (the one I mentioned earlier) and had lots of fun learning about and touching some real bugs. I'm inspired to re-visit some of these ideas this Spring, hope you are, too!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rainbow Activities

Last Spring we did a little learning about rainbows. Look how little Brady looks! One of the activities we did was to make a rainbow (fruit loopy) necklace. You may recall we did this at B's Birthday party this year. This is a great activity to work on fine motor skills, sorting, patterning, etc. And then you get to eat a sweet treat- always a bonus!
First she sorted the cereal by color in this divided dish. I think I got this at Dollar General-it's meant to be a dip serving tray, but works great for sorting and for holding various materials for collages and what-not. Then she laced them onto a string of yarn that had masking tape around the end. I think she choose not to do ROYGBIV order, but if we revisit this this year I'll make her since I know she's ready for that.
She proudly wore the necklace for a short while before gobbling it up!
We also attempted rainbow cookies. They were cute, but the dough was really crumbly. After making a couple we decided to mix all the colored sprinkles together and top off circle cookies with the mixture.
We did some other activities that I failed to photograph. B used dot markers on a rainbow sheet; we made a wind catcher out of a paper plate and crepe paper streamers of all the colors of the rainbow; and I'm sure some other things that have slipped my mind. It was a fun "theme". That we may look into again.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Valentine's Day Re-cap

I realize that we are now well into March, but I feel the need (for myself) to post a little about our Valentine's Day gifts. This year Brady was really able to get into the gift-giving and Valentine-making, which made the Holiday so much fun! Above are the Valentine's she made for her school friends. I drew the half-heart outline ;and then she cut them out, decorated them with stickers and markers, and wrote or stamped out her friends names. On the back she wrote Love, Brady. I thought they were really cute and I was pleased that she wanted to make her own rather than buy the boxed character ones. I hope we can keep that up for many years to come.
I made a little maze set for each class mate as well. I photocopied 4 mazes on card stock, tied them together with a pencil and a tag that said "Valentine, You A MAZE me! Love, Brady" This set went in a big envelope along with the heart Valentine she made. She then put each kid's name on the envelope with alphabet stickers. Lots of little steps, but I think they turned out cute. One thing I learned was that copying on my printer takes forever. I'll never make that many copies on it again. And, I'm not making any promises, but next year I'll try not to wait until post-bedtime the night before the Valentine party to do my part of the treating.
We made a few special treats for a few special friends. I married two cute ideas I saw somewhere out there in the blogosphere. Sorry, original creators, I merely made a mental note so I can't give you credit. We took sand shovels and tied on a bag of treats with the note "I dig you! Love, Brady". B and a few friends thought this little pun was pretty funny (after we told them what it meant of course.)
The treat was candy-coated M & M popcorn. For this we simply popped popcorn, melted candy wafers (purple left from B's Birthday Party), and then drizzled the melted candy over the popcorn, and mixed in some Valentine M & Ms. Then you let that sit in the fridge for a bit. This was so yummy. As I'm thinking about it I think this recipe or a variation on it came from Make and Takes a favorite site of mine. These ideas were simple, inexpensive, and fun (and yummy). We will probably do all of these same gifts next year since we will be in a different state with different friends.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Tradition

Tomorrow we will be celebrating our 3rd "All Green All Day" St. Patrick's Day tradition. I'm a sucker for any holiday and any chance to celebrate in a special way. And a day full of green? I love it! So here's a look at some of our food and fun the past couple of years. How do I manage all green food? Well, I do cheat a bit. We eat lots of green veggies and fruits. In fact B and I made a Trader Joe's run this morning to choose green foods. In addition to those I use food coloring for water and milk. Once I added green to mac and cheese; I add it to laughing cow cheese and smear that on bread or crackers; we've had green pancakes; used green pasta, etc. We'll have green yogurt and treats of some sort and I bought a can of split pea soup- not sure if we'll like it, but decided this would be a good time to find out.

The last picture shows Brady searching for gold (Chuck E. Cheese) coins in her St. Pat's sensory tub- green lentils last year. She had a ball with this, but unfortunately stuck a lentil or two up her nose pretending they were smell molecules, thanks, Sid the Science Kid! Dr. Daddy and his attending couldn't see the lentil so it was decided to let it be, since it wasn't obstructing her breathing and was a natural material, her body would (did) absorb it eventually. We've done some other fun things over the years. When B was 2 we gathered all the green things we could and talked about the different shades and items. We'll revisit the lentil tub after a stern reminder and make some fun crafts over the next couple of days. B's preschool will be celebrating and we're going to a party at a friend's house tomorrow afternoon. It's sure to be a fun day!

Happy St. Patrick's/All Green All Day Day to you!!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

NC Snow

Like most of the country (has Hawaii had a snow yet this winter?) we experienced a big snowfall here in Durham. People who don't know about this area sometimes think it's normal to have snow here. It's not. Central Arkansas and central North Carolina have very similar weather. And they are no better equipped to deal with it here either. Snow on Saturday, no school until late delay on Thursday! This was the most snow seen here in quite some time. We had it on the last weekend in January. The flakes were big and beautiful. The snow was powdery, not right for making snowmen and too deep for making snow angels, but there was plenty of other fun to be had.
Brady's friend A goes to school with her and lives a street over, so we were able to play with her on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday there was still precipitation and lots of strong cold wind coming down, so the play didn't last long. But, on Sunday conditions were better and the girls played for a good bit. Lots of hot chocolate and treats were consumed over the weekend. Unfortunately there are no hills or inclines of any sort in our neighborhood. Adam was working all weekend, so there was no chance of exploring other options. Brady got sick with a high fever on Monday, so we sat around for several days after the snow weekend.
Duke is our snow dog. He really enjoys being in the snow as long as someone is out there with him.

Birthday Countdown

We enjoyed counting down to Halloween and then Thanksgiving and then Christmas. In fact we celebrated Advent so much that I thought it was a must to count down to Brady's big day. In fact I keep thinking we'd start on January 1st (3 weeks before) and then we didn't and then I thought we'd start 2 weeks before, but she wasn't interested in making something, then I thought surely we'd start with 1 week left, but it still didn't happen. So finally 4 days before her Birthday I came up with this very simple idea which I think we'll do each year (for as long as she lets me) starting a day earlier, making a slightly bigger cake and adding a candle each year.

Here's what we did: I drew a very rough outline of a cake and 4 candles. Then she cut them out. She got to decorate her cake with markers and glitter glue however she wanted. And then she tore some yellow tissue paper to represent the flames for the candles. B then glued those to the candles. We taped the cake onto a door and each day she taped on another candle until we got to her Birthday!

Celebrating with Great Friends and Family

We had lots of special friends attend Brady's Birthday party and even a few special family members were able to be there! Adam's mom (Nana) and grandmother (Mammaw Twila) made a last minute decision to make the big drive up from Arkansas. And we are so glad they did. Not sure if the party would've been pulled off without them.
Of course Brady's bestie was there and her mom, my special friend offered to take pictures for me! I gladly accepted.
See- lots of special friends!
And it's always a special treat for Daddy to be with us.
Brady was so excited to have so many people she loves be there that she could hardly contain herself!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Last-minute Valentine Crafts (last year)

We've been celebrating Valentine's Day in several ways this year, but as usual I'm late on uploading pics and updating the blog. So, I thought I'd post a few things we did last year that you can do right now with your kiddos or tomorrow on heart day! These shaped pizzas of mine are probably getting a bit old to you, but this one is so simple, I had to mention it. A heart-shaped pizza; I have a tiny heart cookie cutter, so I cut the pepperonis into hearts as well. Last night I made this with a twist- individual heart-shaped pizzas. (not as big of a hit because there was too much crust involved)
Next up conversation hearts math activities. I'm certain you've got a box of these or something similar lying around.
-Have your kid sort them into colors, then see how many there are of each color. This year we really talked about most, least, equal (2 colors had the same amount), etc.

-Take a piece of paper and draw hearts (trace around a cookie cutter or draw free hand), circles, or divide into a simple grid. Then write numbers in each shape. Do whatever numbers you like, but remember they add up, be certain you've got enough heart candies or whatever you are using as a counter.

-Do some patterning with the hearts (again be certain you have enough of each color in the pattern). You can begin the pattern and then have your little one finish it up or if they are ready (Brady was this year) have them create their own pattern. I did have to help her see that having only one purple didn't lend itself well to making a pattern.
After all that hard work- eat up (if you like those nasty conversation hearts)!

We've also done lots of activities with heart shaped stickers. I wrote the letters of the alphabet randomly on some sheets of heart stickers and then had her place them in alphabetical order. I wrote the numbers 1-30 on some foam heart stickers and had her place them in numerical order. We are working on recognizing 11-30. Those seem to be tricky so I helped with these and I could see her little brain working as we went. It helped that I had the numbers on 3 different colored hearts so that they made a pattern as well.

Happy Valentine's Day! I'm sure you can come up with these or some other quick easy crafts and learning activities.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pony Party Part 2: Activities

As the guests entered the party I had coloring/dot marker sheets for them on the big table we borrowed from Brady's school. About half of the girls went straight back to B's room and changed into dress-up clothes and played with toys. The other half sat down at the table and had a great time with the simple craft projects. Do-a-dot markers are always a huge hit particularly with kids who have never used them and there is no mess. I highly recommend them. (Buy them at Michael's with the 40% off coupon.)
After some time passed I brought out fruit loops and yarn to make rainbow necklaces. My friend Emily was a huge help with this project. Again some girls were interested and some found Brady's toys to be much more enticing. Brady herself bopped about from room to room for the most part. I knew that at a kids' party the activities may or may not go over well, which is why I kept it simple. As necklace-making was wrapping up I called all the girls in to make pony puppets. Unfortunately no pictures were taken, probably because all hands were on deck for this one. I'll try to post about it soon.
Then we had a pin the tail on the pony game. I drew/painted a big pony on a piece of poster board. And made individual tails out of shiny basket filling stuff (I don't know the correct term). The girls put a sleeping mask over their eyes and were spun around one time before placing the tail onto the pony. After this we had the Birthday cake and other snacks.
Then it was time for the pinata. A pony pinata, of course. Watching a bunch of 3 and 4 year old girls hit a pinata was a laugh riot! Fortunately we had one big girl friend who helped it along; she even knocked the body off the head. But eventually I had to grab it and tear it apart, then sprinkle the candy on the ground. Notice the hanging pony head in the next picture. I was amazed at how calm the girls were while picking up the treats. The next day there was still candy in the carport. We finished up the party by opening the Birthday gifts. (And, wow, was she ever gifted! Thank you, thank you, dear friends!) I think the party had a great balance of activities and free play. It was a fun day!

Pony Party Part 1 : The Food

Brady's 4th Birthday party had a "My Little Pony" theme. Taking this theme on was a true act of love, because I would have never chosen this theme. For months I tried to change her mind, but she held firm (as she always does) so a My Little Pony Party with NO boys is what we had. I tried my best to make it a classy pony party! There is lots to share, so I'm breaking it down into several posts. First up- the food!
I made this rainbow cake. It's made from white cake mix which is divided into 6 bowls, then each portion is colored a color of the rainbow, assemble it in rainbow order with frosting between each layer and all over the top. I first saw this on whatever , one of my favorite blogs and was smitten. The cake proved to be simple and delightful. When it was cut there was much oohing and aahing. Thanks to Nana for frosting it the morning of the party- huge help!
We had scads of pony cookies. B also took some of these to school on her actual Birthday. They are sugar cookies with royal icing.
Then there was pony food- apple slices, carrots, and haystacks. Haystacks are a delicious and simple dessert; if you've never had them you are missing out on something great.
And we had pony cupcakes. I tweaked a recipe from the Hello, Cupcake! cookbook my mom bought me. The necks are sugar wafers and the heads are circus peanuts covered in melted candy wafers.
We also had some pony punch (punch juice boxes) and pink lemonade for the grown-ups. Yummy, yummy!