Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mabel's Labels Product Review!


A few weeks ago, I received an email asking if I would like a chance to review Mabel's Label's Ultimate Back to School Combo!! My response? You bet I would!! 

I won a set of Mabel's Labels in a giveaway at some point when Zachary was a baby, probably in 2008 or 2009, I would guess. Well, Zachary is now six and a half and his name sticker is still stuck firmly on the booster seat he used when he was a baby and a toddler - now my three-year-old is using that same seat!! Here's a picture of the label that has survived six years of kids, camp dining hall life, being washed (occasionally :) ), and moving through three different houses, not to mention the trips and vacations it has joined us on! :)


That should make it pretty clear why I would jump at the chance to review a new set of Mabel's Labels!! The Back to School Combo comes with several different kinds of labels that I didn't even know Mabel's had! The most fun part was picking out the colors/patterns and logos from ALL the adorable choices on the website! I ended up ordering our labels with the words 'Hart Family' so we could all use one set. :) The first kind, the Skinny-Minis, are dishwasher and microwave-safe! I stuck one of these on my coffee cup, because I tend to leave them at church...


And one on David's favorite new Lightning McQueen water bottle, which goes everywhere with us and has been through the dishwasher many times! :)


The second kind of labels included in the combo are called Tag Mates. They are intended to be applied to clothing tags and are washer and dryer safe! I put one of these on Natalie's favorite sweatshirt, and plan to use them on our coats and sweatshirts this winter! :) This sweatshirt has been washed a few times, and the sticker is still firmly in place. I also attached a Tag Mate to our beach bag and diaper bag, and to each of our beach towels!



Zachary started playing baseball this season, and I have put cute little Mabel's Labels on ALL of his baseball stuff!! :) I used a Tag Mate in his baseball hat! (Isn't it cute? I still can't believe he's old enough to be on a team!) At least he isn't old enough to tell me not to use the cute labels on his sports stuff! :)



And here is the rest of his baseball stuff! His glove got a Tag Mate, while his bat and batting helmet got a Skinny Mini each. :) 


 The other kind of labels included in the combo were called shoe labels, and are waterproof. They are designed to be stuck inside your child's shoes! Here is a pair of Zachary's shoes with the Hart Family shoe labels in them! These have been worn several times, and they are still perfectly attached to the shoes!


 This combo also included two metal Teeny Tags with mini key rings attached! I put this on my key ring about three weeks ago, and it is not chipped or faded in the least. You could use this on your child's backpack if your kids go to school! :)


I just noticed that the Mabel's Labels Ultimate Back to School Combo is only available until September 30th, so you'd better rush over and grab one up now!! If you have older kids who might appreciate more 'sophisticated' designs, or you just want some labels for yourself, check out the Stylish Scholars Combo or any of other products on the Mabel's Labels site! :)

**Disclaimer: All opinions expressed in this product review are expressly mine, based on my own use of the products. I was provided with free product to test and review, but was not compensated for this review in any way.**

Friday, February 21, 2014

Kidlet Hilarity #20

SO much has happened since the last time I posted the fun things the kids do and say! Probably the biggest one is that we moved to Georgia! And David started talking a TON more, it is amazing how his vocabulary has grown in the last month - he is finally ready to talk, I guess! :)

David says whoops - "Oopsh" or uh-oh whenever anything falls down!

The day before his birthday, Zachary got up and said, "It's my birthday eve!"  He also had a nightmare about David getting into the box of chocolate donuts we were saving for the occasion and eating a bite out of each one! :)

One night, Zachary and I were playing Connect Four, and I was trying to teach him about the strategy and paying attention to blocking me, and I kept beating him! Finally, he said, "Take it easy on me this time!"

David sometimes says 'toot' when he toots, and he thinks it is hilarious. :)

One night, Natalie asked Zachary, "Zachary, can I sleep in your bed?"  Zachary (who sometimes thinks Natalie is too disruptive during these sleepovers when he is actually trying to sleep) replied, "Natalie, I have been looking forward to it, and the answer is yes."

I handed Zachary a bottle of salad dressing, thinking it was a squeeze bottle.  It wasn't. As he was about to pour it onto his salad, he said, "I hope this ends well." It didn't ... unless you reeeally like blue cheese...

We were discussing the possibility of moving somewhere where the weather is nice, and we could go to the park year-round.  "Yes," Zachary said, "That could be our daily thing!"  And now it is - I think we've missed maybe two days of park-going since we've moved down here!! :)

One day, I overheard Natalie singing, "And when the ocean breaks, we don't have to be afraid.  There's pain the night, but joy comes in the morning. Joy comes in the morning!" (from this Newsboys song)

Another day, Natalie was singing, "Jesus loves the big children. All the teenagers of the world! Yellow, black, white, those big kids are precious in His sight. Jesus died for all the children of the world."

While playing Mario Kart, Zachary exclaimed, "That is so irritating!"

When discussing where we may move, Natalie said, "I want to move to Ohio, so we can visit Daddy." Zachary said, "Natalie, Daddy's training isn't going to last forever!" (SO thankful that chapter of our family's life is over!!)

Zachary wanted to move to northern Canada or Antarctica, so he could go sledding year round.

Zachary got a Batman Gotham City Jail with his birthday money, and he plays with Natalie and her Little People figures in it. He calls her Little People Batman's 'apprentices', but he pronounces it "appreciants". :)

One day, Davey was pretending to be a 'bad cat'. He was making some very angry and hilarious meowing sounds! :)

When Zachary was playing one day, I overheard this: "I wasn't very smart when I was an adult, so I decided to go back to school.  So I went back to college."

David knows a lot of colors now, and the cutest one is 'orange'! He pronounces it in one syllable, like Natalie used to, "ornsh".

When Natalie went to the doctor for her well-check a couple of days after Christmas, the nurse asked her if Santa had come, and Natalie looked at her like she was crazy, and responded, "No." The nurse's head popped up to look at me, and I explained that a lot of our kids' presents come from our extended families, so we don't really 'do' Santa, we just tell the kids who the presents are from - but I think she thought we were crazy!!

Natalie: "Mommy, what does twice mean?"
Me: "Two times."
Natalie: "Okay, Mommy. I'm going to kiss you twice times."

David brings his diaper and clothes that he has picked out on his own to my room for me to dress him in as soon as he gets up now - it's so cute! He also says "dar-per, shirt, panss", so adorably. :)

On Mario Kart, Zachary pronounces the piranha plants "Pee-ra-ha-na" plants. :)

One day, Natalie was carrying around a Bob the Builder doll. She said, "His name is Bob the Builder." I said, "Oh, is he going to be a builder when he grows up?" She said, "Well, if that's what God wants him to be!" :)

One night, Natalie was up playing with toys after bedtime, so I was discussing her disobedience with her. Her response - "But, Mom, I'm only four. I don't really understand." :) Hmmm...she may have heard that twenty or five hundred times to explain why 'baby Davey' gets away with things more often than he probably should... :)

Natalie handed me her Potato Head when the back flap had fallen off and asked me, "Mom, can you put my Potato's booty back on?" Ha!

One morning, Zachary and I were sitting on my bed chatting. David brought his Scentsy Buddy monkey into my room, and Zachary sniffed and said, "What is that terrific smell?" :)

When we went to the bouncy place in the mall, there were some other kids there, so I asked Natalie if she had talked to any of them or made any friends. She responded, "A boy said hi to me, but I just looked at him, because I wanted to have peace." Okay, then.

Natalie was watching Z play Mario Kart and Diddy Kong jumped up and did a flip in his seat while he was driving. Natalie said, "That's not very safe."

One night, Joel came home late and kissed Natalie in her sleep. When he asked her the next morning if she remembered it, she said, "Yes! I remember I said, 'What's that prickly thing?'" :)

One night, we were praying and Zachary's prayer was, "Jesus." I said, "Um, why did you say that?" His response: "I didn't know what to say, so I just said Jesus. That song told me to."

I had a headache one day, so Dr. Buzz Lightyear (represented by Zachary) stood on my head and diagnosed me. "Your brain has a problem. You have been watching too much SpongeBob. You should not watch any more SpongeBob."

David sometimes breaks out in a little song when he is bored in the car, using a bunch of random words like, "Ouchie wa wa, ooh ooh aah aah, ee-ee, Bubby, obey Mommy Daddy, no way, no way, no waaaaaay". He also said Zach this week for the first time - so adorable!! Some more of his newest phrases from this week include iPad, Watch BibleMan, shoes socks, Oh-tay for okay, and thank you (finally!!).

Last week, Zachary was helping me make taco casserole, and I asked him how we should crush the corn chips. "I will crush them with my manly crushers", he responded. "What are your manly crushers?" I had to know. "My hands", he said.

Joel is very good about reminding the kids to thank me when I make meals, and sometimes it rubs off when he's not home. :) The other day at lunch, David said to me, "Mommy, thank you eat." It is so fun that he is finally talking!! :)

We're pretty much settled in our rental for now, and still actively looking for a house to buy - we've had a couple offers fall through, so that's been disappointing, but we're trying to trust that God has something perfect in mind for us! We are enjoying the warm weather here, and having Daddy home every single day is a huge treat after the three months we went through before this!! The kids are enjoying it all, but obviously they miss everyone from New York, too (I had to struggle not to type 'back home' right there myself). Your prayers are greatly appreciated as we continue to believe God for His best for us here in Georgia!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

House Hunting

We have learned a lot about buying houses this week - and renting! I will share some first-time-home-buyer/renter lessons that I have learned in the past two days.

1.  You can make ANYTHING look good on the internet.  Anything.

2.  When looking to buy a house, do not look on Zillow.com, Trulia.com, or Realtor.com, find SO MANY GREAT houses that you like and get your heart set on two or three of them working out.  These sites can be outdated, and you may meet your realtor at the first house you're looking at that day (the one you like the least, with the ugly cabinets and pink wallpaper in the bathrooms, of course) only to hear him say that ALL the other beautiful homes in your price range that you sent him the addresses for are already taken.  You may have to hold back tears in front of a realtor you met just two minutes ago.

3.  All the apartment complexes are 'running a special this week'!! How convenient that we happened upon all the specials this week! :)

4.  If something seems 'too good to be true', it probably is.  For example, "Wow, Joel, this rental house is $200 cheaper than all the rest! It doesn't hurt to drive by and check it out!" may actually equate to, "Um, I'm not comfortable driving any farther down this alley to find this house. Let's get out of here."

5.  When a seller somehow doesn't get the message that you would like to see their house at 10 am, you may arrive to find an elderly lady in her bathrobe and pajamas, and her husband pulling on his pants with belt unbuckled and messy hair making VERY FRAGRANT BACON in a house that somehow still smells like cats, even over the bacon smell.  Cats and bacon. That's not a smell you forget quickly.

6.  God really does always provide.  I'm so thankful for the home He has provided us to rent on a monthly basis, which gives us the flexibility to still look for the perfect home for our family and not feel rushed into making a decision! I'm so thankful for God's leading through the last six months, and so excited to move to Georgia soon, and be together as a family again! :)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: The Year In Smiles

Wow, 2013, what a year.  I can hardly believe all the changes that God has brought into our lives this year!! He has given us so many blessings, and I want to praise Him for each of those, especially for my husband and my children, and how God has grown each of them and made them even more precious to me over this year! So, without further ado, here is the Hart Family 2013 Year in Review!

In January, we stayed home, enjoyed retreats at camp, and played in the snow! Joel and I celebrated our 10th anniversary!



February was, you guessed it, more snow and retreats!! We celebrated Valentine's Day at home!




March was mostly snow and retreats, but it ended with a bang- Grandma and Grandpa Hart visited, and I was able to attend the Quirky Hobbies retreat at Bethany Camp! :)  We had a great visit with them, and enjoyed celebrating Easter at home!



April was a fun month, getting into spring and getting outside! We took a family trip to the Buffalo Zoo, and towards the end of April, we traveled to Iowa to be in Auntie Beth's wedding on April 27th! 



May started out with a Hart family vacation in the Smoky Mountains!! After we came home, we enjoyed getting out in the beautiful weather!




In June, Grandma and Grandpa Harriss were able to visit! We enjoyed the warm weather, and got ready for summer camp to start!!




In July, we got to meet (Judy's) baby Noah!! We enjoyed going to camp to see our staff and camper friends, and we celebrated Davey's 2nd birthday on July 26th!




In August, we finished up summer camp, took a family trip to Darien Lake with the camp staff, and spent some time at home as a family before Joel began work with retreats again! Joel and I were able to ride the motorcycle to Erie for a couple of days and just be together as a couple! During the month of August, after many months and weeks of prayer, God led Joel to submit an application to Lifeway Christian Stores to become a store manager.  August was a month of waiting on God to see if this was the direction He was leading us.


In September, we started back to school at home! Zachary is in kindergarten this year, Natalie in preschool, and David in Tot school.  David upgraded from a crib to a toddler bed, which was an interesting adjustment!  Near the end of September, Joel was accepted into the Manager-in-Training Program with Lifeway Christian Stores, and we began to tell our friends and family about the change God was working in our family.




October was back into the swing of things with MOPS and story hour at the Sinclairville library!  As Joel began training with Lifeway, God has provided much strength and encouragement for each of the five of us along the way.  At the end of October, our friends at Bethany Camp blessed us with a going-away open house party which was a wonderful time of celebrating the years that we have enjoyed working and living here, complete with LOTS of cupcakes, balloons, and the popcorn machine!  



In November, we enjoyed time with Anna & Elias, and had a great time on our family trip to Columbus! Joel and I were able to spend a few days together as a couple, which was wonderfully refreshing.  Then God laid it on the heart of a man who had never even met us to gift us the money to take our family to the Columbus Zoo! We loved it!! We celebrated Thanksgiving at home, and began to deck the halls for Christmas!



December is always a month of celebrations for our family! On December 5, Zachary turned six! He enjoys magic, and received not one but two magic trick sets! He currently wants to be a magician when he grows up!  He has lost six baby teeth at this point as well! To celebrate his birthday (and Natalie's), our friends Kelly & Sandy blessed us with a day at Chuck E. Cheese! On December 22nd, Natalie turned four, and received her very own Bible as her gift from Joel and I, which she was very excited about! We celebrated Christmas at home as a family.  With some of our Christmas gifts, we spent a day at the Buffalo Museum of Science!






You can see what kind of a whirlwind year (or at least a whirlwind fall) 2013 has been for our family! We are still waiting for the final word on where exactly God is going to ask our family to relocate, but we are trusting that He has that perfect plan in mind, and He will let us know in His perfect timing!!  He has been more than faithful in every step of this process, and we are constantly growing in our faith, and every day depending more and more on Him to lead us.

In thinking about a New Year's Resolution for 2014, I want to make Psalm 141:3 my theme verse: "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!"  I say so many, many words each day.  The prayer of my heart for 2014 is that every single word that exits my mouth would bring glory to God and Speak Life to those who hear it.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Kidlet Hilarity #19

Lots of hilarious-ness going on around here these past few weeks!! I thought I would take a minute to share just a few of the funny things the kids have said lately!  It seems like there is always something - I wouldn't even have time to write them all down, I would have to carry a tape recorder around with me to catch every one! :)  One of my favorite things is when they (all 3 or different combinations of them) are playing together and interacting.  The things they come up with and pretend are just so funny. 

One day during school, I asked Zachary if he wanted to do phonics or math next, and he responded, "F is for Phonics!"  

I love when the kids share with each other, too, most of the time - one day I had told Davey he couldn't have any more juice, and when I came out, he was drinking of Zachary's cup!  Z said, "It's okay, Mom, I said he could have it."  

Natalie came into my room one afternoon after waking up from her nap, with a big frown on her face.  When I asked her what was wrong, she said, "I just woke up a little sadly."

David is learning more words each day - and he says little sentences now, like, "Juice Ew." (when he doesn't like his juice), "Stool Ow." (when he gets hurt by a stool), and "My spill." (when he spills something).

David can climb into the tub now, but not out.  So sometimes I will hear him yelling from the bathroom, and go in and there he is, just standing in the tub, getting his socks wet, yelling for me to get him out.  

Zachary, while using a yo-yo, and discussing the reason why it had been taken away and hidden on a pantry shelf - "I am not going to hit people with the yo-yo.  I am using it properly this time."

Natalie, to Zachary, while playing: "Did you know I go to homeschool class, downstairs?  I go whenever my Mommy says."  

Natalie, to Davey: "Good night, sweetheart."  David is really good at stalling his bedtime, and his favorite thing to do is run around and tell everyone, "Bye!" at least once.  He also likes to read books, and he prays for all of his family members at bedtimes and mealtimes, which is so cute. :)  

Natalie: "My book is called Me Verses Grandpa."
Zachary: "Versus means against something.  You don't want to be against Grandpa, do you?"
Natalie: "It's called Verses because it has a lot of verses in it, like Bible verses."

I made a turkey and stuffing casserole one night (seriously, the cheapest and fastest meal ever, a box of stuffing takes 5 minutes, and if you have leftover (or frozen) shredded turkey on hand, just throw some of that in and mixed veggies and you have a really easy, quick meal!).  Anyhow, after we ate that for supper, Z said, "That was a great Thanksgiving meal, Mom!" :)

After the kids visited their aunt, uncle & cousin in Tennessee recently, they were all rather enamored with their dog, Ferdy.  We asked them if they wanted a dog someday, and of course they said yes.  When we asked them what we should name our dog, Natalie replied, "Ferdy!"  Joel asked her, "But what if we were together with Jason & Emily, and we called for Ferdy, and both dogs came? What would we do then?"  Natalie's response: "We would freak out!"  LOL!!

We ate at Culver's when we were in Columbus, and we gave the kids the meal options to choose from.  I asked Davey, "Do you want a hamburger, grilled cheese, or corn dog?"  He responded, "Woof woof!" :)  Corn dog it is!  That one had our cashier cracking up, too! :)

Nat, overheard playing: "Okay, baby, I have to make some fish sticks now.  What?  You want to be holded?  Okay."  She proceeded to hold the baby while pretending to make fish sticks. :)  What a good mama!

We were discussing the fact that when we do move, God may ask us to live in an apartment for a while, during the time of finding a place to live, etc.  I asked Zachary how he would feel about that and his response was, "Well, that would be frustrating, but I would do it."  I thought frustrating was an interesting word choice there.

Natalie: "Come on, David.  It's time for our wedding."
David: "No."
Natalie: "Well, then, I'm going to marry somebody else!"
David: "No."
Natalie: "Then come on!"

Zachary: "Natalie, we're going to play sumo.  First, you have to take your shirt off.  Now, pretend you're wearing a big white diaper thing.  You have to throw the other person off the rug!"

Natalie threw up one morning (she disliked her banana and somehow got sick on it) and did not tell me.  I discovered it later, which was lovely.  I told her she needed to let me know the next time she got sick like that, and she responded, "Okay.  Next time I throw up, I will tell you.  After I'm done throwing up.  Because you can't talk while you're throwing up." 

While reading through Proverbs last week, I was reading a verse about a nagging wife.  Z asked what nagging was, so I gave an example in which I was pretending to ask the kids over and over to do their chores.  When I finished, Z said (totally seriously and respectfully), "Um, you're kind of nagging sometimes, aren't you?"  LOL!!  I said, "Well, yes, but I'm your mom." :)

My grandparents sent the kids each an apron to go along with a Curious George Makes Pancakes book, and the kids LOVE them - I'm not sure they've taken them off yet, except to go to bed. :)  Natalie calls hers her "april". :)

Two of David's newest words are 'bite' and 'wet'.  He also says 'boo-boo' a LOT, whenever he gets hurt.  

Playing Wii with Daddy, Joel reminds Zachary to turn the sensor around to face them, and Zachary mumbles, as he's turning it around, "Oh, yeah.  I always forget that.  I guess I'm just too impatient."  

The kids were SO excited to watch a Hoops & Yo-Yo Christmas special this week, and while they were talking about it in the car, Natalie said, "Mom, when do we get to watch Larry and Ho-Ho?"

We did a "noun Thanksgiving" exercise at the Thanksgiving table yesterday, and I wanted to write down the things the kids were thankful for - David can't really articulate this stuff yet, so it's just Natalie and Zachary's responses:

A PERSON Zachary is thankful for is: Greg Frank.
A PLACE Zachary is thankful for is: the camp playground, and our house
A THING Zachary is thankful for is: a thing that happens - his birthday!

A PERSON Natalie is thankful for is: Her friends, Ari & Kaylie Main
A PLACE Natalie is thankful for is: The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
A THING Natalie is thankful for is: To be a Mommy someday
(not sure about Natalie's stuff going in the right category, but so sweet anyway!!)

Speaking of Zachary's birthday, he is going to be SIX in less than a week!! It is crazy how time flies!!  And Natalie will be FOUR in less than a month!  At least Davey gets to stick with two for a while longer. :)  

Here's Zachary showing off his latest round of missing teeth - three in the last month!  The tooth fairy has been busy! :)  


David wanted to show off his perfectly healthy baby teeth:


Natalie didn't want to show any teeth, just her bathtime baby doll:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kidlet Hilarity #18

It has been almost three months since I've written down all the funny things the kids have said!! I have kept track of a few, but I know I've forgotten a lot, too!  Here are some gems from the last couple of months! :)

Zachary got a new Monsters University shirt at the end of July, and he wore it to camp one day.  One of our friends asked him, "Are you going to go to that Monsters University school?"  He giggled and replied, "No! It's for monsters."

Zachary made up this great joke: "What did the whale say to the other crying whale?  ......   You are wailing!"

One day at lunch, Zachary came to the table, saw a sandwich on his plate, and asked, "What kind of sandwich do we have here?"

I took a toy with dead batteries, and was looking everywhere for the little screwdriver I use to open the battery compartment.  David heard me asking about the screwdriver, ran to his room, grabbed his toy drill, and brought it to me.

I was trying to talk to Zachary one day while he was reading, and he announced that "When you talk, that makes me dis-concentrate on reading."  It cracks me up when I call for him, and he comes down the hallway with his nose in a book, tripping over stuff all the way.  I have NO idea where he gets that behavior from...or his intense love of reading ...

While getting ready to pray, I started my prayer, as usual with "Dear Lord", but Natalie interrupted me and said, "No, you have to say, 'Dear Heavenly Fadder'!"

Before my birthday, the kids were discussing with Daddy what my gift should be.  Zachary said he would get me a robot.  I said, "Oooh, to clean the house?? I would love a robot to clean the house!"  He said, "No, just to play with.  I don't think I could get you one to clean the house, but when I grow up, I can invent one for you."  Natalie chimed in, "Yeah, because if it was a person, it could just say NO!"

At the beginning of the football season, we were watching the Broncos vs. the Ravens.  Zachary is, of course, a rabid Broncos fan.  Natalie, being contrary, announced that she was cheering for the 'Raisins'. :)

One day at lunch, Zachary came up with this gem, out of nowhere: "Let me preach for a minute.  See this little piece of a chip?  This is a regular person's brain.  See this whole, big chip?  This whole chip is God's brain, because He knows everything, but regular people don't know as much as God."  Great sermon!

We played with water balloons one afternoon, and at supper time, the kids were telling Daddy about their balloons.  David chimed in with, "My pop!" to tell Daddy that his water balloon had popped!  It was his first two-word sentence! :)  His very favorite word is still NO, but MY is a close second.  It can mean 'me', 'that's mine', 'I want to do it myself', or 'I did that'.

I was late for Bible study and running around like a crazy person looking for my Bible bag and letting the world know I couldn't find it even though I knew I had set it by the stairs that morning so it would be ready ... Davey came running down the hall, dragging behind him the exact (heavy!) bag I was looking for!! He definitely understands more than you would think!

Natalie is such a cute little pretend mama. :)  Of course she loves to play with her baby dolls, and she mothers Davey on a very regular basis, but she also has 'pretend kids' who she will talk to in this sweet voice, saying things like, "Oh, you hurt your mouf? It will be okay. Mommy will give you a kiss, and then I will go do my work."  She also asks me to 'babysit' for her babies while she goes 'to the store'.

Our first school verse of the year was "Those who know Your name put their trust in You."  Zachary's version was, "Those who have a brain put their trust in You."

When Natalie doesn't like something you've said to her, she often responds, "Oh, that made me so mad."

Zachary's favorite line when getting ready to go somewhere, and I ask him to find a sweatshirt, is: "Ninjas are tough.  Ninjas don't wear sweatshirts."  Alrighty then.  Ninjas better not whine when they're cold.

Natalie was making a wall with her cottage cheese at lunch.  She showed it to Zachary, and he responded, "Natalie, that is very creative, but why don't you eat your cottage cheese instead of creating things with it?"   He loves to be the little parent. :)

Zachary: "Natalie, don't get physical with me when you are mad.  Physical means hitting or kicking with your body."

Zachary: "I have a Biblical question."

Zachary looooooves the Magic Tree House series of books.  One thing (of MANY) he picked up from them was collecting 'moonstones' - he spends time looking for and collecting these sparkly white rocks - he especially finds them up at camp.  One day, he and Natalie were looking for moonstones together, and she found some to give to him, and then he found a few, and gave some to her! It was so sweet! :)

Davey has upgraded to a 'big boy' toddler bed this month - whew, what a ride! For the first few days, he was climbing up on his toy box to turn on the light - I would get up at 4 am and see his light on, and he would be back in his bed, sleeping with his light on!  I eventually had to move the toy box, and the last couple days have been better, but he still prefers to get up and play rather than nap, so that is interesting some days. :)

When we told the kids we were moving, we told them there would be sad parts, but there would be sweet parts.  Zachary took this to heart, and while Joel was trying to talk him into doing the zipline, Joel mentioned that he wouldn't have a lot more chances to do the zipline, since we'll be moving.  Zachary replied, "Yeah.  That's one of the sweet parts of moving." !! :)

For some reason, I was discussing how many calories were in the Quarter Pounders Zachary and I had had for lunch one day (we took advantage of a BOGO coupon).  Zachary said, "Wow, I'll have to be talking a walk to burn those calories!"

Natalie told me this story about her Toddler Church time:  "We had to share the scissors, but Bella took a really long turn, until her mommy came.  Then she gave them to me, but they went on the floor.  And that was what they did!"

David was getting frustrated with his Mickey Mouse fork at mealtime one day, so he yelled at it, "No, no, Me-mow!" (No, no, Mickey Mouse!)  A couple of days later, he was playing with a car (which he still calls vooov) in the living room floor.  It wasn't doing what he wanted, so he yelled at it, "No, no, Voov!" and bit it!

Zachary: "I'm going to think for a minute.  I'm going to use my noodle.  That's just an abbreviation for thinking, Mom."

Natalie, while reading a Disney book to Davey: "Donald Duck is mad, Davey.  Just like you get mad sometimes."  Davey: "Oh."

Natalie taught Davey to say No Way this week - it is hilarious!! He says, "No Ay!" :)  I try to get him to say, "Love You", and he responds, "No ay".

A sheriff's car with flashing lights passed us today, and Natalie said, "Oh, that policeman is going to get the people who don't honor God, and the people who don't share.  Right, Mom?"

A friend of ours was making popcorn while watching the kids so Joel and I could go on a date, and she was trying to teach them about what makes the popcorn pop (the moisture inside, heat, etc).  She said to the kids, "What makes the popcorn pop?"  Natalie raised her hand, so excited she knew the answer, and yelled, "The MICROWAVE!!"  It's true, at our house. :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

I'm Believing God

God is moving our family.  And He is moving in our family, and in each of our lives.  My husband has been accepted into the Manager-in-Training program with Lifeway Christian Stores, and he will begin his training on October 16th.  This is a very exciting development, and the answer to so many prayers for God to show us what He would have us do, as we have sought His will over the last months.  

It is also very difficult.  We have lived here in western NY state for almost nine years now.  All of our children were born here, and when you work and live as closely with the people as we do at our camp, you become more than neighbors and coworkers.  We are truly a camp family.  A church family.  And I have my MOPS family, and so many amazingly sweet, strong Christian friends we have made over the years.  

On the way home from sharing our news with our closest friends, our camp staff family, I felt like I would never stop crying again. (It's been two weeks now, and I nearly haven't.) And I thought, "Wow.  This is starting to get really hard."  

It felt like we were beginning to cross a river.  The water surrounding us was starting to get colder and deeper, and it would be so much easier to say, "Nope, this is hard. I'm turning around", and just back up and get out.  

But God is so clearly calling us to the other side of the river.  I know there will be deep parts, fast currents, and maybe even rushing rapids, but God is here, in the river, and there will be another side.  Another 'normal', whatever that is. :)  

God's sense of timing and how He works every little thing together for our good is impeccable.  

The afternoon that we were preparing to tell our kids about this new chapter of our lives, we ended up playing as a family on the camp playground.  Zachary has wanted for some time to try to go down the fireman's pole on the playground, but I'm too short to really help him very well.  However, this afternoon, Daddy was there, and was standing ready to help him go down the pole.  

I watched my five-year-old son, who is scared of heights (a quality he definitely gets from me!), perched on the ledge, whimpering in fear. His daddy, who was as tall as the ledge, stood right next to him, perfectly capable, strong, ready and willing to catch him in a split second.  From my perspective, feet planted safely on solid ground, his fear was laughable, ridiculous.  

Isn't that just how we look to God, whimpering in our fear when in truth He surrounds, ready, willing and completely able to catch us if we will just take that first leap?

Zachary ended up choosing to trust, and enjoyed several jumps down the pole with Daddy's help, and even one nearly on his own.  
That night, we began our conversation by talking about the pole. "Do you remember", Daddy said, "when you had to trust Daddy and jump to the pole?  Sometimes, Mommy and Daddy have to trust God for things, too."  I nearly lost it when Zachary's lip quivered, and he said, "But I don't want to move away from camp!"  

"Neither do we, sweetheart.  That's why we call it 'bittersweet'.  Some parts are hard, but there will be good parts, too.  We have to jump.  We have to trust that God has something great for us.  Something fun like going down the pole ended up to be for you."  
I love analogies, but of course with a five-year-old, it's hard to know exactly what they are grasping.  At the end of our conversation, though, Zachary wrapped it up nicely.  "So, Dad, you mean the ledge is like living at camp.  And jumping down the pole is like moving to your new job, and it's kind of scary, but God wants us to jump, and it might even be fun, just like the pole was."  

Exactly.  

I'm so thankful for how God works so many things together for His purposes.  It is no accident that I am currently going through the Beth Moore study Believing God, about not just believing IN God, but actually believing Him.  Not just taking a STAND of faith, but actually walking BY faith.  

Concerning Abraham, Romans 4:20-22 says, "No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, FULLY CONVINCED that God was able to do what He had promised. That is why his faith was counted to him as righteousness."  

Lord, let my constant prayer be as the father in Mark 9:24 - "Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!" 

I don't have to be perfect.  God will help me to trust Him, and He is there surrounding us, ready to catch us as soon as we jump.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Curriculum Plans 2013-2014

We're starting back to school here at Harts for God Homeschool tomorrow morning, with guns a-blazing! :)  I am so excited to get back to the routine, and for the new stuff the kids (and I!) will be learning this year!! :) And since it's also my birthday tomorrow, Hubby picked me up a nice birthday surprise to start the school day with - a Frappuccino! :)  In case anyone's interested, I thought I would share a quick rundown of the curriculum we're planning to use this year!  Enjoy!


Zachary: Kindergarten

-Language: A Beka Language & Phonics/Five in a Row Language
-Handwriting: Informal/Journaling
-Math: A Beka Math/Five in a Row Applied Math
-Science/Social Studies/Art: Five in a Row Volume 2
-Bible: God’s Names by Sally Michael, and one hymn/song per week.
-Music: Weekly music classes with fun songs, possibly learning to play piano/read music
-Gym: Outside Time, indoor gym class in winter

Natalie: Preschool - focus on phonics, letter & number recognition, 1:1 counting, beginning reading.
- Five in a Row alongside Z
- Confessions of a Homeschooler's Letter of the Week curriculum - handwriting, letter hunts, size sorts, etc.
- Letter Games
- Sight Words

David: Tot School
- Tot Trays
- Five in a Row alongside N & Z

So, there you go!! I am excited about Zachary's new phonics and math - he has spent quite a bit of time sharpening pencils to use in his new workbooks tomorrow! :) I hope Davey can participate in more of the Five in a Row activities this year, and I am hoping to really focus on Natalie with her letters and numbers! :)

This will be our second year of using Five in a Row, and we have just loved it! Our first unit will be Harold and the Purple Crayon, which we have prepared for by watching almost an entire season of the TV show, which we checked out from the library! :) I'm so excited to get going! :)  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Kidlet Hilarity #17


Lots of hilarity this summer, but no time to write them out - I've been keeping track of them on my 'sticky note' app on my phone, though, and I have a few minutes to share them now! :)

While a friend was visiting us at camp, she saw one of the camp dogs getting into something he shouldn't, and said, "No, ishy."  Natalie turned to the dog a minute later, and said, "No, fishy."  :)

One night Zachary was still finishing his dessert (cherry crisp with ice cream) when his friends ran out to play on the playground.  He asked me what he should do, and I told him he could choose to either finish his dessert or go play outside.  He kept looking at them, darting towards them, looking back at his dessert, and starting back to the table, and he was so conflicted with this choice that he was starting to cry!!  He kept saying things like, "I can play with my friends lots of other times, so maybe I should finish my dessert", or, "They will probably make this dessert again, but my friends aren't always here, so maybe I should go play" ...  He finally decided to go outside and play, and then I thought the whole thing was just so sweet that I brought his dessert out to him at the picnic table. :)

One day, Natalie was talking about the hiccups and announced that "Tomorrow, I'm going to be hicking up."

I asked Z if he was ready to go down for quiet time.  His response: "Ready as I'll ever be!" :)

Davey has lots of new words including bump, maybe, Blob, rock, walk, bib, bug, bike, tree, and juice.

When I put the milk in the cart at the store, Davey started singing a song about milk (mim-mim) and juice (joo).  It went "Mim-mim, joo, mim-mim, joo" etc. :)

Natalie pronounces harmonica "America".  As an example, she said, "Davey brought his 'merica in the car today."

While they were playing, Z said to Natalie when she was about to take something from him or hit him or something, "Don't even think about doing that to me.  It is inappropriate."

During a picnic meal, Z hurried to finish chewing his food just so he could yell at Natalie, "Don't talk with your mouth full of food!"

One of the words I don't prefer for the kids to say is stupid.  One day, Natalie kept tripping over her Crocs somehow, and she was getting so frustrated with them.  She started to say, "My stuuuuu ..."  and instead ended it "My stuuuuk."  Which doesn't mean anything, I guess, but I was proud of her self-control. :)

Natalie painted her own nails one morning (my first questions were "Where" and "With what" - thankfully in the bathroom with her little nail polish).  When Z saw them, he asked her, "Natalie, did you paint your own nails?"  She responded, "Yes, Zach, I didn't even spill!" very excitedly. :)

I was cracking up listening to Zachary very seriously tell me about his Sunday school lesson one week - in which he learned about King Joseph-phat. Say it out loud, it's funny. :)

My friend Steph is married to our camp director, and his mother volunteers in the office at camp.  One afternoon, Steph told Zachary she was going into the office to see her 'mom'.  Zachary said, very seriously, "She's not your mom! She's your mother-in-law!"  He doesn't miss a beat, that's for sure.

Natalie was talking about being excited to go to breakfast one day, and I said that Daddy was excited to go to breakfast with us, too.  She said, "Daddy was excited to go to breakfast?  Did he bump his head?  From jumping on the bed when he was excited?"  :)

Davey was looking at one of the kids placemats one day, and he pointed to the purple bird and said, "Ee-ee", which means Natalie, and purple & pink are Natalie's favorite colors.  Then he said the orange bird was his favorite color. :)

One of my favorite things about youth camp this year was taking the kids to chapel, and watching them sing and dance to the chapel songs!  Zachary learned all the motions, and was very good at all of the songs. :)  He wants to be on chapel team as soon as he's old enough!! :)

One night I said, "Ooh, that's a good idea.  I'll put a bug in my friend's ear about that."  David was listening, I guess, and gave me a confused look.  Then he pointed to my ear, and said, "Bug?"

Natalie burped one day, and then said "Excuse me" right away.  Then she followed it with this gem: "I said excuse me right away, because I'm a girl.  Boys don't say excuse me right away."

Zachary has been praying such funny things lately.  One night he prayed, "Dear God, please take me to the Octa-ball court in one minute."  I said, "Um, do you think God is going to do that?"  His reply: "Well, if God can do anything...." :)  He also prayed one night that I would forget to give him a haircut for three years! :)

Zachary: "People get cracky when they get old."  Me: "Those are called wrinkles."  Z: "I know."

Zachary: "Great-Grandma said that she and Great-Grandpa go to bed at 10:00.  When she told me that, I said, 'That's only two hours before midnight!' but she told me she's old enough to stay up that late."

Natalie saw a bug on the bedroom floor that she didn't like the looks of, so she beat it to death with her princess toy, and announced, "I bammed him to death, and now he's all squished."  She is such a delicate flower.

Zachary loves camp food (as do I!).  One day after a failed attempt at baking, to which Zachary had entered the kitchen, and surveyed the cookie sheet with the finished product on it, and proclaimed, "They are flat and square" (true), Zachary said that Kristi (who baked at camp this summer) makes the best cookies in the world.  I said, "Yeah, way better than mine."  His wise response: "Yeah ... But yours are good, too."

Zachary's joke: What do bulls eat for breakfast?  A bowl of cereal!

Natalie was getting dressed up in her new princess dress and shoes, and announced that she was going on a date!  I was rather taken aback by this coming out of my three-year-old's mouth, so I asked, "With who??"  She replied, "Daddy." :) :)

Later that day, Natalie was getting dressed up again, this time she said, "I"m getting dressed up for my wedding.  I don't want to be late."

One Tuesday evening, we were eating ice cream sundaes, and I said, "Mmmm, these are good sundaes."  Natalie said, "Mommy, what day is it?"  "Tuesday", I said.  "Why do you keep saying Sunday then?" she had to know. :)

I will keep track of more hilarity and update you throughout the rest of the summer! :)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

My Ministry

I haven't taken the time to write for a long time, but today God has laid something on my heart that I pray will be an encouragement to other moms who go through the same struggles that I do.  

Over the last couple of weeks, my husband and many friends have been busily preparing for the summer camp season, which started with staff training this week, and the first campers will arrive tomorrow morning.  I have found a few opportunities to help out here and there, running to town to pick up supplies, browsing Youtube videos and skit scripts to pass along to the Chapel Team, and wiping tables while my kids play on the playground for a few minutes, but for the most part, my life has been very similar to always.  I've been 'mom-ing'.  

Towards the end of the week, watching everybody else give a hundred percent of their effort towards the work at the camp, while I played on the playground or at the beach with my kids, or read books to them on the couch, even one day needing to stay home from camp for a few hours because my kids were over-tired and needed to rest, I began to get discouraged.  Even when the hectic summer season isn't going on around me, there are so many times when this voice of guilt speaks in my heart, saying, "Really, you're JUST a mom?  You could be doing so much more for the ministry.  Playing with your kids on the beach is a waste of time.  You should be more.  You should do more."  I feel lazy, leaving the dirty dishes in the dish pit at camp for someone else to wash because my 22-month-old wants me to hold his hand on the slide.

But, throughout this weekend, God has been working in my heart, reminding me in so many different ways that, for me, right now, THIS is my calling.  This IS ministry.  The homemade playdough recipes, the diapers, the freezie pops, kisses for boo-boos, questions and conversations about everything on the planet (or in space)...  I am busy with the ministry of raising the next generation of world-changers.  My boo-boo kisses and diaper changes teach them about gently caring for others (whether they know it yet or not).  I have opportunities every single day, in moments of discipline and in our daily conversations, to lead my children's hearts into a closer knowledge of the God we serve, and a deeper relationship with Him.  

This morning, God brought to my mind my mother-in-law, and the way God has multiplied her mothering ministry.  She raised three boys, my husband and his two brothers.  Each of those boys now serve in a different ministry in three different states across the country, and she and her husband serve in their church as well.  Each of these men are known in their churches and communities for their godly wisdom and selfless service in their ministries.  FOUR states are now being impacted rather than just one, because of the years of faithful ministry by one mother.  I know she had to balance ministry and motherhood.  My husband talks about going along with her and helping her with various tasks at the church where his father was a pastor.  I also know she dedicated her life to raising up godly men, and by God's grace, He has answered her prayers, and I know she is so grateful for His blessings.  God has also blessed her with five grandchildren (so far), and as her boys pass on the godly character traits they have been surrounded with over the years, that, in turn, multiplies her influence even more widely.   

So, if you, like me, are a mom who has struggled with your purpose in mothering, or if you're being told by someone else, (or even by your own occasional feelings of guilt) that being 'just' a mom is not enough, if the business of your mothering has brought you to a place where you've had to step back from other ministries, remember: Mothering is a ministry.  It is the most important ministry we will ever, ever have, and no one else can take the place of a mother who is daily invested in drawing her children's hearts closer to God.

Can I pray for you?  If this post touched your heart, and you need prayer and encouragement, leave me a comment - I would love to keep you in prayer!!  Any suggestions or ideas on balancing motherhood and ministry would be welcomed as well! :)