Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I can't help but laugh...

Hope Elizabeth Hogan may be our youngest child, our only girl, our only thumb-sucker, and our only cuddly baby BUT she was born with two older brothers who were loud, opinionated, creative, and funny. Because of this, I believe that God gave her a personality all of her own. :)

Frequently, I catch myself doubled over in laughter over her funny personality and funny sayings.

Here is just a sampling of some of her many funny moments... now just imagine all of these being said at the speed of sound in the voice of a 2 year old.

~ "My name is Hopeeeeeee Ewizabef Hogan," squealed at the top of her lungs.

~ To her brothers who told her that she is a princess.... "I'm not just a princess. I'm a Super-hero princess. Princesses can't fly, but super-heroes can... so I'm a Super Hero Princess"

~ Instead of saying "The End"" when we finish her bed time story... she says "Amen". This all started when Derrick explained that "Amen" means "The end, or let it be" and that is why we say it after we pray.

~ Hope's goodnight prayer...
Hi God! Thank you for my good day. Thank you for my elmo. Thank you for fish. I'm going to sleep now. Amen... that means the end.
Goodnight God! ( I love that she does this, and I can't help but imagine God smiling down at her.)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Eager to Please

All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection.  ~William Faulkner

I have struggled with perfectionism for a long time. My goal of pleasing people has been a source of frustration and disappointment. When I became a mom 6 years ago, I quickly realized that no mom is perfect, and I would only drive myself crazy trying to be. You may think that realization cured my perfectionism for good, but unfortunately that is not the case. Now that I'm a teacher, I have a new outlet in which to struggle with my perfectionistic tendencies. At the end of the day, there are a million things to look back at and wonder if I did them well enough. 

There are plenty of questions running through my mind... "Did I teach that lesson to the best of my ability?" or "Did I handle that problem correctly?" or "Did I show that student God's grace?"

As I struggle with these thoughts and feelings... I realize the only answer is this. I am not perfect. I never will be. But God is not looking for perfection, but he is looking at my heart. God hasn't asked me to be the perfect teacher, to handle every lesson exactly right, to handle every conference with a parent perfectly, or be everything for everybody. God has asked me to point them in the direction of the one who can be their Perfection and their Everything.... and that is Him... not me.... thank goodness! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

We need a farm!

 Over Labor Day weekend we went to the local creamery for ice cream and to see the cows.... here's some pics from our adventure!

 Yummy Strawberry and Peach Milkshakes made the kids happy... but the cows made them even happier!

 "Cows go MOOOOO" says Hope!
 Our kids would have stayed and watched the cows all day long... and now for the past week they've been building barns with Legos and pretending to be farmers.

A couple weeks ago we went to "Goats on the Roof:" in Helen where you can visit with the goats and feed them out of an ice cream cone... and then feed them the cone too! The kids LOVED the goats...
And the goats loved the kids! Now we just need a farm where we can have some cows, goats, and chickens.

Fall is on the horizon!

I must admit that fall is my favorite time of year.... and it always has been. As much as I love the sun and flip-flops... I love jeans, hoodies, apple cider, pumpkins, and salted caramel frappuccinos even more! :) This year I seem to be longing for fall even more. This summer has been one filled with changes, difficulties, and sickness. In early July I came down with what felt like the flu... except it got worse instead of better. After much procrastination I headed to the doctor, and they told me I had Lyme disease from a tick bite I got in late May. They started me on powerful antibiotics to kill the Lyme Disease, but the medicine had some nasty side effects that made me feel terrible as well. Finally after feeling sick for over a month, I began to feel better, besides a few residual side effects.

It wasn't long after I started feeling better, that the first week of school came rapidly approaching. I was so excited, nervous, and ready to begin my first teaching job and yet I never would have expected how draining this first month would be. I love the school I'm working at, I love my 5th grade students, and I love teaching BUT this month was exhausting. I love my kids, I love homeschooling Hosea, and I love volunteering on Wednesday nights at church BUT this month was overwhelming. I think I've fallen asleep on the couch at 8:30 P.M more frequently than I did when I was pregnant.

 But sure enough... just as the calendar began to flip into September... I felt a change. When I walk into my classroom it feels like home... instead of like a hotel. My students no longer feel like students, but instead like my own children. Homeschooling Hosea is beginning to feel more natural instead of foreign. And I realize that even on the worst days right now... it feels better than my best days did before. I may not be the perfect mom, the perfect teacher, or the perfect small group leader but I'm called and therefore it feels right. I may forget part of a lesson plan, struggle with patience when Hosea's perfectionism rears it's head, or feel inadequate in several other ways but I'm loved by the Father and therefore that is enough.

So as fall approaches... I pray that you find a sense of contentment with where God has you... but not of complacency. As the leaves change color, as the weather becomes cooler, and as the world gives way to a new season... enjoy it and bask in God's graciousness to us.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Three kids, a box, and a little imagination!

As I begin to prepare for the beginning of my first school year as an official teacher... we've had several boxes with books end up in our house. As the boxes come in, I've tried to go through them, organize the contents, and place everything on my bookshelf in our sun room. This has left us with some empty boxes...

Instead of boxes... my kids believe we've gained a spaceship, a car, an igloo, a camper, a tent and whatever else their imaginations create. My children couldn't be happier and have enjoyed countless hours playing in these boxes. One day last week, we took it a step farther and turned the boxes into artwork, and my kids were entertained for an hour while I cleaned the kitchen and made lunch!

Boxes= cheap entertainment= artwork= ability to get my kitchen clean

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Reading

A glimpse into what I've been reading this summer... which definitely ranks high on one of my favorite past times.

I have been intrigued by Michael J. Fox for a long time, and think his positive attitude while living with Parkinson's Disease can be an encouragement to many. I found this book on clearance in the Grocery and it was well worth the read! 

This book is the sequel to Lost and Found by Sheehan, and it was just as good as the the prequel. These books have great dialogue, character development, and are awesome for animal lovers! :) 

I downloaded this for free on to my Kindle and I'm so glad I did. This book will challenge your faith, your thoughts about what you think you NEED, and make you incredibly grateful!

This was another free download on Amazon, and it was super cute! It made me realize that life with three children who are close together in age is always going to be an adventure and that adventure is when real learning occurs. This was an easy, but fun read!

This book was extremely interesting as it gives a lot of background information on one of my favorite authors. Brennan Manning's Ragamuffin Gospel was a life changing read for me, and this autobiography gave even more meaning to that book. 

If you have any suggestions on books that you love, that you think I might like, leave them in the comments! I'm always looking for a new and interesting read! 

Mr. Popper's Penguins!

Since Levi was 9 months old, he's been fascinated by penguins. His fascination began with a trip to the Tennessee Aquarium, where he picked out a penguin stuffed animal to take home and become his own. He still has this stuffed animal, despite an angry woman's attempt to steal it in Target (don't even get me started), and his love for penguins has continued to blossom. His penguin collection has grown ten fold, his knowledge of penguins is quite astounding, and he has already declared that someday he will move to Antarctica and live with the penguins.

I believe that in Levi's most wonderful dreams, he finds himself living in a penguin colony, swimming, diving, jumping, and enjoying the company of the other penguins. While other children ask their parents for puppies... mine asks if he can keep a penguin in his bathtub.

Because of this, there are many times that I feel as if my son is really Mr. Popper from Mr. Popper's Penguins. As I begin to explore the idea of cultivating a culture of learning in my home, that draws us closer together, and instills a love of literature in our children... I have decided to begin reading longer chapter books aloud to all three of our kids. Although we read shorter story books before bed at night, this will take place during the day, and will focus on listening and comprehension.

After some thought... I realized the natural chapter book to begin reading with the kids was Mr. Popper's Penguins because it has short enough chapters, very descriptive language, and it would appeal to all three of the kids. I ordered a used copy of the book off Amazon this week and we've started our daily reading sessions and so far the kids LOVE it. It will be tough to follow up Mr. Popper's Penguins but I know we will find something the kids will love. If anyone has any suggestions for great read alouds feel free to post a comment!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Fathers Day to my Husband!

When Derrick and I were married in July of 2005, I did not know what our future held, but I trusted that God knew and that was enough. Even in my wildest dreams, I did not dream that almost 7 years later we would have three amazing children that God had blessed us with. Despite that fact, part of the reason I married him was that I knew he would make an amazing father.

He had more patience than any one I knew... enough patience in fact, that he was able to teach me to drive a 5 speed. Patience that lasted through my stall outs, my burn outs, and my whining and complaining. You see... I'm a perfectionist and I hate not being good at something... and it showed! Derrick successfully taught me to drive a 5 speed in two days, and we laughed, we cried, and he never lost his patience. It was then I knew that he was the man God had planned for me, and I knew that I had so much to learn from him.

Fast forward 7 years to June 2012, and he is still the kindest and most patient man I know. These qualities make him an amazing father to our three beautiful children... along with his calm spirit, his sense of humor, and his desire for our children to learn from every day circumstances. I thank God for blessing me with such an amazing husband, who is a fantastic father to our kids. Happy Fathers Day, Derrick Hogan! I love you!

 On our wedding day in July 2005

 Walking at the park on Fathers Day Weekend!
Awesome Daddy!

 Three amazing kiddos!
Overlook Adventures!

Chalkboard Table

I am always on the lookout for items that I can transform or re- purpose into something different or something better. Sometimes it just so happens that those items are located in my very own home. A couple years ago, we bought a small black kid's size table at a garage sale. This table has been used in a variety of ways, but recently it needed to find a new home and a new purpose. 

After a little bit of thought, I decided that I would turn the table into a chalkboard table for the kids to draw and practice their writing. I knew I had a can of spray chalkboard paint and so I spray painted the entire table in chalkboard paint and now the kids can draw and write all they want on it. I've placed the table in my kitchen, underneath our magnetic board (that I also spraypainted), and the kids are definitely enjoying it!! In my mind it was a great use of a $5.00 table, a $4.00 can of spray-paint, and some chalk! 

The before pic of the table

                                                   The after pic of the table- chalk and all!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Money Sense!

We are in the process of trying to teach Hosea about money, tithing, saving and how to sensibly spend the money you make. He is getting better at cleaning, and he is beginning to understand that we need to do things to the best of our ability. Last Friday, he helped me with some extra cleaning items (above and beyond his normal duties) and he did a great job... and he actually received some compensation for his hard work. After he received his compensation we did a review about tithing and saving... and then he asked me where he should keep his money he had earned.

He had been given a race car bank for Christmas and we'd been waiting to paint it... so this week he painted his bank so he would have a place to keep his money. He is actually really excited to SAVE his money and not spend it on something small like ice cream, candy, or a match box car... and get to eventually buy something else after he has practiced saving. Here's his finished bank that he was super proud of completing!

Finished Back splash!

As promised... here are some quick pictures of the finished back splash behind our stove with the kid's hand print tiles... I think it turned out really cute, and we are actually going to add another row! Derrick actually attached them with permanent, double-sided tape... because we wanted to be able to eventually take them down if we end up moving! Enjoy!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Our summer with less TV...

When this summer began, and I realized I would be starting a new phase of my life as a Stay at Home Mom until I started teaching in the fall... I decided to set a couple of goals for myself. Because this new phase was slightly overwhelming to me at the beginning, I needed the goals to help me adjust at the beginning. I didn't make lofty, life-changing, world- changing goals... I made goals that would hopefully better myself and better my family. 

One of the goals I decided to set for myself and for my kids was to decrease the amount of television they watched each day. Now, my kids have never been TV junkies... and I don't typically use the television as an electronic baby sitter... but I knew with a longer summer ahead of me, the temptation would be to use it more than they needed. My summer time rule was going to be a half hour of educational television in the morning, and a half hour of educational television in the afternoon. Hopefully strategically planned... so that I could shower in the morning, and cook dinner in the evening. 

Now... I don't think there is anything morally wrong with watching educational television. My kids have learned some amazing vocabulary words such as "Metamorphosis" from watching Elmo, and they have learned several biblical values and concepts by watching Life at the Pond, a radio show turned television show. I just wanted to ensure that I didn't slip into the trap of letting them watch too much.

We are a full two weeks into the summer and I've learned a couple of things since limiting their television watching...

1. My kids LOVE playing together!

2. My kids will choose to play with one another over watching the TV.

3. My kids now cherish the TV time they do get... and don't take it for granted.

4. My kids argue less when the TV is turned off.

And Last but not least...
5. My kids have AMAZING imaginations... and they will actively use them much more when the TV is turned off.

The last thing I learned was this... it's OK for them to watch 45 minutes one morning if I really need them to... like when I'm having to make important phone calls. Goals are just that... goals... they don't have to apply to every day... and if they watch 45 minutes of TV one morning... I am not a failure. And that is a good thing to remember!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Buttermilk Raspberry Cake

Our family loves supporting local businesses. I also love for my family to be able to eat as many all natural products as possible. Lucky for us, there is a local dairy/creamery in Clermont, GA about 15 minutes from our house. Each week, I try to save $10.00 out of our grocery budget to spend on fresh lowfat milk, chocolate milk, ice cream, and eggs from this local business. On Friday, when we were out and about, we stopped by Mountain Fresh Creamery for our weekly shopping trip. After picking up our normal products, the cashier told me that they were giving away half gallon jugs of buttermilk, with any purchase because it was about to be out of date. Since I love being frugal, and especially love FREE, I took a half gallon of buttermilk and convinced myself we would figure out a way to use it.

This weekend I did a little searching for some yummy buttermilk recipes and one of the first ones to come up was this recipe for Raspeberry Buttermilk Cake. Since it was memorial day weekend I thought it would be the perfect treat, and baked up two batches over the weekend. We did add a couple of White Chocolate Chips in to batter, because I had them left over from a sale at Christmas. It turned out to be DELICIOUS, and we added a little sugar free cool whip on top and it made the perfect dessert!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A short little video of our six year old Hosea singing his new favorite song, he learned from his music teacher Ms. Paula at Preschool. He goes around the house singing this song all day long, and I thought it was too cute not to record. :)

Sea Animal Tiles for Kitchen

A couple weeks ago I decided I wanted to use the kid's hand prints on tiles to use for a back-splash in my kitchen. Since I'm staying at home this summer, and we didn't have any plans for yesterday... it was the perfect day to begin the project. I used navy blue and white, basic, kitchen tiles that cost .49 cents from Lowes and Crayola Kids Paint, and painted the kids hands to create different animals such as crabs, jellyfish, rainbow fish, and octopuses.

After each child made 4 tiles, I allowed the basic design to dry. While the kids took afternoon naps, I went back and added on some final touches like bubbles, grass, sand, eyes, etc. After the tiles dried, I sprayed them with a clear shellac spray to make them water proof! Now the tiles are ready for Derrick to hang them up above our stove in the kitchen! 

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