Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Daily Stuff

I mentioned in the last post that we are back in an after-the-holidays routine. School all day, then chores, then extra curricular, circle time and homework. More emphasis on homework this quarter as my three have all become a bit lazy about completing assignments. They have found that if homework is not complete, they will not go to their evening activities this quarter. 

Our evening look like this:
Mondays:
Kayla        basketball practice
Jasmine     Country Christian Youth Choir

Tuesday:
nothing so we have more time for circle

Wednesday
Kayla      basketball practice
Jasmine   hip hop

Thursday
Kayla    gymnastics
Kaleb   gymnastics
Jasmine after school band

Friday 
nothing = family time or a movie

Kayla plays on a 9-10 year old team. 


She has the potential to be good. Of the twins, she is the athletic one. Kaleb is fast, but not all so talented at team sports. Plus he can't keep focused. They are both going to try baseball in March, though. By them he should be on ADHD meds and we'll see what he can do when he focuses.




I made homemade strawberry shakes one evening.

Jasmine had some issues with the whip cream!

Which led to this.

And this. I don't suppose this ever happens at your house?

The dogs escaped the gate and got into some really stinky muck!

Kaleb and Jasmine worked together to bath the two puppies.

Jessica dropped by at just the right time to bathe her dog.
Next time I'll post pictures of the twin's 5 year homecoming anniversary.

If you don't follow my blog for girls HERE, please consider doing so. Getting a book published is becoming harder and harder and the publishers are looking for authors who already have a following. I'm not a public person, so my blog for girls and my newly created author facebook page HERE are it.

 I do book give aways on the girls blog, post crafts from the books, devotions from the books and such. It's really for the parents as much as the girls most of the time. Today I posted a January give away so check it out.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Circle Time

We are back to a rut, er, routine now that the holidays are several weeks behind us. History fair project is turned in and the second quarter of school has ended. Unfortunately, not very successfully for any of the youngest three. Sigh. Such great kids, such struggles with school. 

So we try to focus on what they can do and who they are apart from what report cards show. Because really, report cards don't really tell you much about a child. If you've read chapter twelve of the book below, you know what I'm talking about. I'm thinking we might read this book in our evening circle time.

(And by the way, I did ask them to consider redoing the book cover because I think having a lone causcasian boy on the cover keeps many people from choosing it)

Circle time was added to our routine in December after I read the book below about how you can have an influence on others around you including your kids.

It's a good book to read. And it prompted circle time at our house. Everyone comes to circle time no matter what kind of day it has been. Two days a week there is no circle time due to schedules and sometimes we only meet for a few minutes because life is crazy. But if we do have circle time, everyone comes. During circle time only positive things can be said. We don't deal with any issues or behaviors. No one can criticize or be rude to another person.

The part of the book that made me start circle time was a story about a father who started a reading time with his daughter after they'd lost other family members and it was only the two of them left. They read at least one chapter of a book every day. They were only going to do it for a set number of days, but ended up continuing it clear until the daughter left for college. They started with The Wizard of Oz. We have a couple different sets of classics so I thought "Certainly we can read a chapter of a book every night." We have done this off and on in the past reading books like The Giver, The Forgotten Door, Number the Stars, Call it Courage and so on.


I chose Heidi to begin with. I thought we could read it and then watch one of the movies based on it. The book I'm reading is from 1924 so the wording is old fashioned. Fun to listen to, but a bit frustrating at times. I find it interesting that a secular classic talks several times about praying to God and asking him for what you want. Then understanding that if it doesn't happen, it's because he has a different plan or he plans to give you what you ask for but at another time. Clara's grandmother tells Heidi this several times. Then later Heidi talks to her grandfather about God and prayer.


Anyway, so we started reading Heidi. And I had everyone start a journal. Since it was near the end of the year, I asked everyone to write down their favorite things from 2014. The next day I asked them to write a wish list for 2015 (I plan to help as many of those happen as are realistic and possible), and then a couple of days later I asked them to write actual goals for 2015. We also watch for interesting or inspiring quotes and share them in circle time and write down the ones we like best. So the journals have a lot of different stuff in them, including notes from the DVD series shown below.





There is no penalty for not writing things down and there is no criticism so that everyone can be vulnerable with their feelings and goals. There are small daily rewards and other rewards like rubber band wrist bands with verses on them for continued good effort (not necessarily results).


We added in watching a DVD series that gives a lot of Bible background, but we can only watch it on the days there are no evening activities. I really recommend this to families who are interested in Bible study. It will give you a better understanding of Bible times and places.


And we've started a character trait of the month. January's trait is Respect. Tonight we went to YouTube for some songs and raps about respect and the three decided to learn a couple of them and perform them on video for me in the next few weeks. It's good to see them excited about working together on this. There is some frustration because one child can act well below age level and annoy the other two. Said child is going in for ADHD testing next week because it has affected school behavior--not being able to stay on task and in the seat long enough to complete a simple assignment or lesson--to the point where repeating a grade has become a real possibility.


So circle time varies every day by what we have time to do and which things we choose to do--read Heidi, talk about goals, talk about respect, and watch the DVD series. Not everything happens everyday. We also need to finish Just for Me: My Family that we started clear back in the summer. We just need to do the last chapter and I think we are going to do the pinata for Valentine's Day. Since each chapter talks about an animal family I promised them a trip to the zoo when we finish the book. That will happen after we do the pinata.

If you have children 5-8, check out the family oriented activities in this book. You can order it HERE.

When we were starting circle time, we were talking a lot about being the light to others and that somewhat became our theme for 2015. 


Be the Light.


Matthew 5:14-16New Living Translation (NLT)

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Taste of Racism

We talk pretty openly about anything and everything in our family. That includes skin color. But we've never made a big deal about it. We kid each other about who's going to burn worse at the beach. Laugh together when people ask me why I sunblock my dark kids since they don't burn--um, yeah they do! Just not as easily. We kid about being white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate. 

My kids know what racism is, and like me, they get tired of all these cases in the news where a shooting is blamed on racism. Who's to say it wouldn't still have happened if both people were the same color? White people shoot white people all the time. And black people shoot black people all the time. It just doesn't make national news.

Unfortunately Jasmine got her first taste of racism directed at her at the Frozen sing a long at Disney. The twins too, but they didn't notice. It was one of those occasions where they are trying to get everyone to scoot in to make more room at a show. I don't scoot. But we had a lot of room in the middle of our bench, and I saw a white mom with two white girls about 4 & 7 or 8 looking for a seat. I said, "We have room for all three of you by us." I was on the end, Jasmine was next and then the twins. The mom took a look at my kids and turned her back without saying a word. She had the two girls squish together on the bench right in front of me, and she sat on a tiny bit of bench right in front of them. 

The sing a long hadn't started yet, so Jasmine started singing one of the Frozen songs, and the older girl turned around and joined in. When it was done, the girl looked at me and said, "Do you think anyone heard us?" I said, "I'm sure they did, and they were amazed at how beautiful it was." She had this big smile. 

She and Jasmine started to sing another song, and the mom looked back and saw. She told the girl to stop singing and face forward. She was pretty harsh, and it seemed way out of place for a Disney sing a long! The girl half turned around but kept singing. 

The mom pulled her up off the bench and sent her to sit somewhere toward the front. I'm assuming there was a friend or family member there. Then the little girl started singing, and the mom grabbed her and sat her on her lap.

Jasmine looked at me and said, "What's going on? We're not going to get into trouble for singing at a sing a long even if it hasn't started."

And I told her the truth. It was obvious by the looks the lady had given the twins and was still giving Jasmine. Jasmine was speechless for a couple of second. Finally she said, "Their mom doesn't want them to sing with me because of my color?"

She was a bit shocked but okay, and the show was ready to start, so I just kidded with her. "She must think it's contagious." I rubbed my arm against hers. She hugged up against me and enjoyed the show. In fact, we went a second time despite an extremely long waiting line since it was Christmas week.

We talked about it later, and she'll bring it up once in a while. But it doesn't get her down. She just thinks that mom is "crazy" to think like that. Yeah, me too, Jasmine, me too.


Monday, January 19, 2015

What's Cooking part 2

 The first picture was a group project meal. It came out really well.

Spicy Chicken Bake

1/4c margarine
1 med onion chopped
1 can rotel (mild or spicy depending on how spicy you want it)
2 c. cooked chicken cubed
2 cans cream of chicken soup (it calls for 1 mushroom, 1 chicken originally)
12 corn tortillas torn into bite sized pieces
2 c. shredded cheese

Preheat oven 350. In large saucepan, cook onion in margarine until tender. Add soup, rotel, and chicken. Stir until well blended. In 13"x9" baking pan alternate layers—tortillas, soup mixture and cheese, repeating three layers. Bake 40 min until hot and bubbling.

Jasmine made the chicken pasta that was also in the last post. But this is a couple of months later.

Chicken Pasta
I T vegetable oil
2 lbs boneless chicken breast cubed
2 can (10 ¾ oz) Campbell’s condensed cream of chicken with herb soup
1 c milk
4 T grated Parmesan cheese
2 t chili powder
1 t garlic powder
8 c cooked corkscrew pasta

Heat oil in skillet. Add chicken and cook until browned. Add soup, milk, cheese, chili powder and garlic powder. Heat. Serve over pasta. Serves 6-8

Ty David cooked when he was home at Christmas.

Beef Stir Fry
2 T cornstarch                          2 med carrots thinly sliced
2 t sugar                                   6 oz package frozen pea pods thawed
6 T soy sauce                           2 T chopped onion
¼ c apple juice                         2 T vegetable oil divided
1 lb boneless beef round steak 8 oz can sliced water chestnuts undrained
      cut into strips                hot cooked rice
3 c broccoli florets

In a bowl, combine cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce and apple juice until smooth. Add beef and toss to coat; set aside. In a large skillet, stir-fry broccoli, carrots, pea pods and onion in 1 T oil for one minute. Stir in water chestnuts. Cover and simmer four minutes. Remove and keep warm. In the same skillet, stir-fry beef in remaining oil until meat reaches desired doneness. Return vegetable to pan. Toss. Serve over rice. 

 Our family really likes stir fry--both this beef one and a chicken one that is a bit different.

Kayla is chopping up cream cheese for crock pot potato soup. It's a much easier recipe than the other one we have for crock pot potato soup. She was supposed to cube the cream cheese but didn't know what that meant.

Easy Crock Pot Potato Soup
30 oz frozen diced hash browns
32 oz chicken broth (we make ours from bullion)
10 oz can cream of chicken
8 oz cream cheese (not fat free)
3 oz bacon bits
1 cup shredded cheddar

Put hash browns, broth, cream of chicken and half the bacon in the crock pot on low for 5-6 hours or until the hash browns are tender. An hour before serving the soup, cube the cream cheese and put in the crock pot with the soup. Mix. After an hour, mix in the cream cheese thorough and top with the shredded cheese and rest of the bacon.

The girls made their own foil wrapped taco chicken. Kaleb was doing homework, and Rick was still at work, so they helped with those too.

We got this idea from the One Crowded House blog, and adapted it slightly.



Foil Wrapped Taco Chicken
Boneless chicken breast per person
Taco seasoning
Potatoes peeled and thinly sliced (a half of large or whole small per person)
Salsa
Shredded Mexican cheese
Sour cream

Preheat oven 400F. Place serving of potato slices on a large piece of foil for each person. Cut the chicken into strips and put one portion on each foil on top of the potatoes. Sprinkle with taco seasoning. (Per individual taste) Add one tablespoon of salsa and shredded cheese to each. Wrap the foil over the chicken mixture. Place on cookie sheet and bake 30-35 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Release steam and let stand five minutes. Serve with sour cream.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Best Christian Books for Preteen Girls updated

This is my list of devotion, non fiction and fiction books for preteen girls. So if you're looking for a new devo for your daughter or a gift for your niece or Sunday school kids, check these out. Some are written by me, but I've added books by many others authors. I've included the book cover because that's what sometimes encourages a girl to read a certain book, but don't judge by the covers alone. Read the first few pages online whenever possible. 

If you really like a book, please write a review on amazon or christianbooks because it encourages other people to buy the book. At least for me, I've decided to buy or not buy a book based on the reviews.

 Do you have favorites not on the list? Leave a comment. 


Whenever possible, shop at your local Christian bookstore.
Family Christian Bookstore locator
Lifeway Christian Store locator
Find a Christian Bookstore near you


Best Christian Books for Preteen Girls

Devotions
Devotions for the God Girl, Hayley Di Marco
Each one-page devo contains a scripture verse of the day along with a brief reflection that unpacks spiritual truths about becoming a woman of God. And in each entry Hayley challenges girls to choose God's way in every area of their life--with their thoughts, actions, and daily choices about everything from friends and fashion to faith.


God's Girl series, Karen Whiting
Each book sparkles with faith and fun as the girls learn about Bible women and create a cool craft to go with each one. Each book is packed with tips on how to personalize their crafts as well as space for journaling their deepest thoughts. Both inner and outer beauty will be celebrated by the girls as they learn to be faithful Christians who enjoy God and life.

Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids, Sarah Young
Devotions written as if Jesus is speaking directly to a child's heart. Based on her original Jesus Calling, this version has been adapted in a language and fashion that kids and tweens can relate to their everyday lives. 

Just Sayin'
Carol McAdams Moore
HERE
Each of the short devotions is designed for preteen girls, with relevant topics, quotes, and Scripture, plus doodles, journal prompts, lists, puzzles, quizzes, fill-in-the-blank prayers, or unique activities. They explore Bible truths and ways to apply them—everyday. Just Sayin’ challenges girls to follow Jesus every day. 

The One Year Be-Tween You and God: Devotions for Girls, Sandra Byrd
The book emphasizes that tween girls can have a relationship with God and that they can share their intimate thoughts, fears, insecurities, joys, etc. It lets girls know: it's between you and God. 

The One Year Book of Bible Trivia for Kids, Katrina Cassel
This One Year book features 365 trivia questions that lead into meaningful devotions about the questions. Each devotion also includes a For You section, which gives a simple application to kid’s lives. And the answer to the opening question wraps up the devotion and gives readers biblical references to read. This book will keep curious kids on their toes and give them a reason to open their devotional and Bible daily.

The One Year Devos for Animal Lovers, Dandi Daley Mackall
Each devotion begins with a fun or interesting fact about an animal; this fact then introduces a concept of life and godliness that is reinforced by a scripture verse. The devotion concludes with an activity to do that day that relates to the devotion; there is also a sidebar with more fun/interesting facts.

The One Year Devotions for Girls Starring Women of the Bible, Katrina Cassel
This devotional features women of the Bible and how their stories apply to tween girls today.  In 365 days, girls will know more about the women in the Bible who faced the same troubles and issues girls today face, and they will be more committed to following the godly examples and avoiding the ungodly ones. At the end of each day’s reading, girls are encouraged to “Think It Through,” a section that asks them questions related to the devotion and prompts them to apply the lesson to their lives. After each week of devotions a full page is devoted to activities utilizing information from the prior week’s devotions (puzzles, quizzes, etc.).

The One Year Father-Daughter Devotions, Jesse Florea
Each of the 365 devotions begins with an introductory story, then daddy-daughter time provides discussion questions, activities, or other practical applications of the daily lesson.

The One Year Mother-Daughter Devo, Dannah Gresh
The devotion will strengthen mother-daughter relationships as well as their relationships with God. Topics for the devotions are centered around issues that the best-selling author (Dannah Gresh) is known for addressing through her books and mother-daughter conferences. 

Promises for God's Princesses, Katrina Cassel
This devotional book is full of Scriptures about God’s love, protection, and promises. The book’s 100 devotions tie in the Scriptures to help young girls apply them to their lives. This diary-style book will attract the growing girl while still making her feel like a princess, a special child of God.

Non Fiction

Between: A Girl's Guide to Life, Vicki Courtney
Through colorful articles, quizzes, games, and lists, girls age eight to twelve are encouraged to grow spiritually and socially in every major area of life.

Body Talk, Nancy Rue
Body Talk gives you the information you need on all the really weird body stuff—and shows you how all this weird stuff is actually part of God’s plan for the beautiful, confident, grown-up you!

The Christian Girl's Guide to Being Your Best, Katrina Cassel
God wants girls to do their best and be their best. Encourage preteen girls with this fun how-to manual for living out God's plan for their lives. Through stores about real and fictional girls, Scripture, journaling, quizzes, crafts and other activities, girls can explore what it means to be their best according to God's special plan for them. 

The Christian Girl's Guide to the Bible, Katrina Cassel
Take girls on a wonderful walk through the Bible! Preteens will marvel at God's Word as they make their way from Genesis to Revelation and discover the beauty of God's message for them. Puzzles, crafts, quizzes and fiction add to the creativity of this special guide.

The Christian Girl's Guide to Me: The Quiz Book, Katrina Cassel
The quizzes in The Christian Girl's Guide to Me: The Quiz Book are jam packed with all kinds of advice to help you discover who you are and who you are meant to be. Learn how you can make more friends, how to get closer to your family, and how to let God do totally amazing works through you! 

Everyone Tells Me to be Myself But I Don't Know Who I Am, Nancy Rue
HERE
If you think it’s easy to say “just be yourself” but it’s not so easy to do it, then this book is so for you! It will help you figure out who you really are deep down inside. You’ll learn to be that person no matter who you’re with through surveys, helpful tips, and places to write down your thoughts. You’ll learn to be the young women God created you to be!

A Girl After God's Own Heart, Elizabeth George
Upbeat and positive, Elizabeth provides biblical truths and suggestions so tweens can thrive. She reaches out to girls where they're at and addresses daily issues that concern them. 

A Girl's Guide to Best Friends and Mean Girls, Dannah Gresh
A Girl's Guide to Best Friends and Mean Girls springs from the life and example of Jesus, a tween girl's true BFF. It helps her explore questions such as: Who should I choose for friends? How can I keep my friends? How can my parents help me? What do I do about jealousy and hurts in my friendships? How can I be Jesus' friend, and how do I introduce others to him?

A Girl's Guide to Making Really Good Choices, Elizabeth George
Discussing such topics as attitude, friendships, crushes, parents, school, and avoiding bad situations, Elizabeth helps girls see that the very best choice of all is a choice to live within God’s will. Perfect for individuals, small groups, and mentoring.

Heaven for Kids, Randy Alcorn
The book features ten chapters of questions, and answers based on scripture and written in a style relevant to today's kids. The book also has a summary of the Gospel for those who want to be sure they are going to Heaven someday. Randy encourages kids to live “in Light of Heaven.”

The Middle School Survival Manual, Katrina Cassel
With the manual, middle schoolers will learn to: Give grades a boost, Make testing as easy as 1, 2, 3, Face life in a new school, Set goals, Deal with old and new friends, Live their faith at school, Plan their own activities, and lots more! (Don't let the cover fool you, it's for girls too!)

My Mini Dream Room, Karen Whiting
This book is about having fun by making little things. Why? Because the littlest action matters to God. In My Mini Dream Room dive right into these mini crafts and devotions to make furniture, curtains, baskets of flowers, pillows, teddy bears and other total amazing decorations. Let your creativity shine by making your very own dream room.

You! A Christian Girl's Guide to Growing Up, Nancy Rue
In this book you’ll discover all the really weird body stuff you’re going through is actually part of God’s plan for the beautiful, confident, grown-up you! In addition to health and beauty tips, you’ll find answers to some awkward, changing-body questions, ways to create a unique style all your own, and most importantly, you’ll discover the true beauty that is revealed as you grow closer to God in this fun, inspirational and interactive book.

Fiction

The Backyard Horses Series, Dandi Daley Mackall
Book One: Fourth-grader Ellie James has a great imagination. She spends a lot of time daydreaming of owning a black stallion show horse and winning trophies in the horse show. But when the answer to all her dreams and prayers gallops into her life, will Ellie be able to recognize it? Join Ellie and her quirky family in their exciting, horse-loving adventures.

Boarding School Mysteries, Kristi Holl
Book One: Twelve-year-old Jeri McKane knew that attending boarding school hundreds of miles from home would be hard, but she never imagined anything like this. The school bus carrying Jeri’s roommate Rosa mysteriously disappears. A natural sleuth, Jeri knows there are leads to be followed and follows her instincts to discover new dimensions of faith and courage. 

The Carmen Browne Series, Stephanie Perry Moore
Book One: Carmen Browne is a ten-year-old African-American girl beginning fifth grade. With her family moving to a new city, Carmen is anguished to give up her friends and comfortable home. As her family adapts to a new location, Carmen learns that finding new friends and fitting in is not easy. Part of her doesn't even want to try. Family issues become complicated when Carmen's brother learns he is adopted. Dealing with unpopularity, fitting in, and cultural differences are Carmen's issues in the first book of the Carmen Browne series.

The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia has captivated readers of all ages for over sixty years, enchanting them with a magical realm where worlds come and go at the toss of a ring, where boys and girls become kings and queens, where there are more talking creatures than people.

Dragons in Our Midst, Bryan Davis
Book One: A boy learns of his dragon past; a girl has known of hers for years. They combine their faith, courage, and love to overcome evil, a slayer who seeks to bring an end to dragon heritage, forever.

Girls Only Series, Beverly Lewis
Books 1-4: Jenna, Livvy, Heather, and Manda strive for their best in their respective sports: gymnastics, figure skating, ice-dancing, and downhill skiing. Their ultimate goal: the Olympics. As each girl struggles with life's challenges and rejoices with each triumph, the encouragement of the other Girls Only club members and their faith in God give the girls the moral support needed to push their limits and learn important lessons.

Grandma's Attic Series, Arleta Richardson
A young girl’s discovery of her grandmother’s keepsakes inspires heartwarming tales of her grandmother’s childhood and the lessons learned on a nineteenth-century farm.

The Lily Series, Nancy Rue
This best-selling, biblically based fiction series for girls—with a fresh new look and updated content—addresses social issues and coming-of-age topics, all with the spunk and humor of Lily Robbins as she fumbles her way through unfamiliar territory.

London Confidential Series, Sandra Byrd
London Confidential is a new series where British fashion, friendships, and guys collide, and where an all-American girl learns to love life and live out her faith.

Mandie Series, Lois Gladys Leppard
First five books set: Readers will discover anew the charms of the impulsive Mandie Shaw as she faces the ups and downs of first losing her father and then finding her long-lost family in Mandie and the Secret Tunnel. Many more mysteries follow for Mandie and her friends in Mandie and the Cherokee Legend, Mandie and the Ghost Bandits, Mandie and the Forbidden Attic, and Mandie and the Trunk's Secret.

Secret Sister Series, Sandra Byrd
Book One: After a lonely time in the fifth grade, Tess Thomas dreads the beginning of the next school year. Then the exclusive Coronado Club invites her to join. She thinks she'll do anything to belong--until she finds out just what "anything" means. How far is too far to keep a friend? When does belonging cost more than you should pay?

Sophie Series, Nancy Rue


Book One: When future film director Sophie LaCroix visits Williamsburg, Virginia, her imagination sends her straight into the eighteenth century. An unlikely heroine, Sophie’s forced to use her new-found war tactics to foil a heinous plot and save a friend from impending humiliation by the popular girls. 

What books would you add? Leave a comment below.