Got the music in her

Hannah has been wanting to sing a lot lately. The “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” has been a favorite for a while, but she is starting to request and sing several others lately. Today she was by herself playing, and I heard her sing:

Yes, Jesus me.

Yeah, Jesus me.

Yeah, Jesus me.

Bible mommy me.

She will also sing the “Row, row, row” in “Row, row, row your boat” as well as “merry, merry, merry, merry.”

When she wants to sing “Old McDonald” she’ll say, “Animals!” and enjoys requesting particular animals to sing about. Last week, she requested one of the verses to be a turtle, and when I asked her what a turtle says, she said, “Quack, quack.”

We’re also including some popular Sunday school staples that involve simple motions like “Deep and Wide” and “Rolled Away.” Though in the latter, there’s the line “every burden of my heart” and Hannah thinks this is about birds in her heart. She has a little music time at preschool where they march around the room and play little instruments. At home, she’ll walk around saying, “March, march, march.” Maybe Uncle Michael can work on her form at Thanksgiving.

Hannah also loves to dance which involves lots of jumping and clapping. She likes to watch Angelina Ballerina, so we have taught her a couple ballet moves. If you ask her to plié, she has a decent one.

With our music-loving little one, the speed of life is definitely allegro!

Birthday party

Hannah is two! Planning a party this year was much different than last year. One-year-olds just like to eat and play, so last year they were thoroughly entertained by lunch and balloons. This year, I sprang for a theme.

Since we were planning to get Hannah a play kitchen, I decided to work it into a cooking themed-party. Some of our invited guests were sidelined at the last minute with sickness in the family, so Hannah’s buddy Cody ended up being the only kid guest for the official party. My sister Kristen flew in from Kansas, and my sister-in-law Melody drove down from Dallas. Awesome aunts!

To start the party, the kids put on their aprons. My mom sewed little aprons for them, and they are really cute. Cody and Hannah wore them the whole time.

Kids usually open presents at the end of parties, but I knew there were some gifts with items for the play kitchen, so we opened presents first.

With the great new cooking toys, Hannah and Cody headed off to check out the new kitchen.

It was a hit! Kristen also entertained herself with the play dishes by making towers, but Hannah tended to interfere.

Time for real cooking – pizza! I had pre-made crusts, and everyone made their own pizzas. It was fun and easy, though the kids didn’t really understand that we were going to bake the pizzas and tried to eat the toppings a little early.

I forgot to get a photo of all the finished pizzas, but they were yummy. While the pizzas were baking, the kids played in a sensory table I’d set up with dried beans and cooking utensils. This was an activity we’d used frequently when I was teaching preschool. It got a little crazy with toddlers. There were a lot of beans on the floor.

To finish the evening, we decorated cupcakes.

It was a really fun party, and I am so thankful for the friends and family who could come celebrate with us. We are planning a Party Part Two for our friends who had to miss, so stay tuned for extended birthday fun.

The little kitchen

For Hannah’s birthday, we got a her a little kitchen. Every little kid needs one! We couldn’t wait to see her cooking up a storm in the playroom.

However, there was some serious work between the box arriving on our doorstep and the birthday girl having fun. From reading the online reviews, I knew assembly involved around 50 pieces, hundreds of screws and roughly two hours.

We have put together several IKEA items, but this was our most complicated assemblage yet. At the two hour mark, we had the bottom done.

The finished product took us almost 3 1/2 hours. We had a slight hang-up with some screw holes that were pre-drilled on the wrong side of the oven door, but in general I’m not sure what took us so long. Oh well, it’s done, and it’s really cute! Finished pictures coming.

An important phone call

Like any toddler, Hannah likes to play with the phone. Most of her imaginary phone calls just consist of “Hewo? Hewo? Bye.”

This particular time, I asked her, “Who are you calling?” She answered, “Papa … Jesus.”

She did not specify which grandpa she was calling, but “Papa” is her usual answer regarding her phone conversations. The Jesus part was a new addition – maybe a conference call with Grandpa? My siblings and I still have the joke that the answer to any question at church is either “Jesus” or “the Bible,” so maybe Hannah is learning this one early.

New world of answered questions

Toddler linguistics can be something of a game. Hannah is quite verbal for her age which is nice, but we frequently play Guess the Word, “Walk? Look? Work?” She has a very large vocabulary and loves to identify everything possible. Actual conversations are almost happening.

Answering questions is still tricky. Her answer for any “where” question is “Right there.” – “Where is the blanket?” “Right there.” “Where is your cup?” “Right there.” “Where is Daddy?” “Right there.” It doesn’t matter where the object or person actually is, there is the same answer.

Questions about school get little response, same for any questions about recent activities. A question I really want to get an answer to is, “Where does it hurt?” I usually get a tearful, “Hurt. Yes.”

Today was a turning point. When we got home from preschool, I asked, “What did you have for lunch?” She thought a moment and answered with a smile, “Pizza!” I was flabbergasted – I asked a question and got a real answer! I ask this question every Wednesday (pizza day at school) and she has previously always answered, “Munch. Yes.”

Later today she had an awkward climb off a chair and said, “Owie.” I asked, “Where does it hurt?” She said, “Hurts bottom.” Another real answer!

Now if only we can get her to stop adding “too” to everything and convince her that saying “poopy poopy poopy” loudly through the library may not be appropriate.

Homemade applesauce

I’ve been pondering canning. It seems like the ultimate homemaker activity, even above baking bread. Of course, to make the most sense of canning, this accomplished homemaker would ideally have also mastered gardening and would commence canning to preserve her backyard bounty.

I have no backyard bounty. I don’t even have grass in my backyard. It’s not really my fault; it has only rained one day in the last four months. But I digress.

After reading about the actual process of canning, I was concerned that any activity with lots of peelers, knives and huge pots of boiling water might not be good with a toddler around. Then, a couple articles mentioned “freezer canning.” Hey, I have a freezer! But I don’t have anything to actually can. A helpful article suggested analyzing what your family eats the most of and starting there. For us, that would be applesauce and tomato sauce. The former sounded less messy.

At the farmer’s market, we stopped at a local orchard’s stand and picked up about 5 lbs. of their “special” apples for only $5. The ones that are 95% perfect-looking, 100% perfect for applesauce. Just look at the photo above, gorgeous!

While Hannah was at school, I tackled the peeling and chopping. It was tedious but didn’t take too long.

The sliced apples filled my slow cooker about 3/4’s full. I added a small amount of apple juice as cooking liquid and a sprinkle of cinnamon (after taking the picture).

After 5 hours on low, I let it cool then used the immersion blender to get a consistent texture. A couple days ago, I found these official “freezer canning jars” and decided to give them a try. They were a good price, are BPA-free and have twisty lids.

Yes, there is a spoon in the partial jar. That one didn’t make it past dinner. So I have two in the freezer, and we are seriously looking forward to consuming those in the future. Hannah’s comment: “more, more, more.”

According to my calculations, even though I got a great deal on the locally-grown, low spray apples, buying organic applesauce is still cheaper. But this tastes way better. Tough call there.

Do you have any canning experiences to share? Should I attempt the boiling vats and glass jars?

Dinner tonight – Moroccan lentil soup

I recently read the autobiography of a missionary to Morocco. One food item kept appearing over and over – lentils. So, to get a more authentic experience after reading the book, I found a recipe for Moroccan Lentil Soup. I chose this one because it had easy ingredients and utilizes my favorite appliance, my slow-cooker. The originator of the recipe wrote of her difficulty actually finding lentils in the grocery store. I will brag a little that I am no stranger to lentils and know exactly where to find them; for this recipe I hit up the bulk bins.

The smell was tantalizing us all day, very fall-ish with all the spices. And it tasted great! Hannah prefers her food ingredients to be separated, but even she ate quite a bit. She really liked the carrots; I should have put more in.

The bread is a whole wheat sourdough we picked up at the farmer’s market. The soup recipe makes a lot, so we have nice big bowl-fulls and more for freezing. Yum!

Inspiring faith

I recently re-read the autobiography of author and missionary Patricia St. John. We grew up with daily read-aloud time, and her books were frequently the subject. Many Christian children’s books (of a certain era) involve a pithy, pious child being persecuted for their faith, then bravely dying of some disease while everyone in the house finds Jesus and my mom cries. Patricia St. John does not follow this vein. Her characters are realistic and believable; they deal with real-life problems and have no sanctimonious death-bed speeches. In fact, they are alive and happy at the end of the stories.

As interesting as her fiction is, St. John’s life is even more exciting. She was a nurse and spent many years as a missionary to Muslims in Morocco. She traveled all over the world, writing about relief efforts and orphanages. As I was going through her autobiography this time, I was also reading the news stories about the devastating fires locally as well as the extreme famines in Africa, hardship across the world. When St. John visited the famine refugee sites in Ethiopia in 1985, she was pained by the suffering and questioned why God couldn’t just send rain or stop the civil wars.

Then she saw the amazing things that were happening in the refugee camps and wrote,

God’s solution is sometimes different. He does not always lift people out of the situation. He himself comes into the situation, as Christ the eternal man once entered this world and in a sense came to stay. He does not pluck them out of the darkness. He becomes the light in the darkness, the peace in the midst of the conflict, the spirit’s riches in the midst of poverty and loss and physical degradation. Right there in the desert, he gives beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

I can’t wait to read Patricia St. John’s books to our family. She is a heroine of the faith. Whoever says the Christian life is boring should read her autobiography.

Fall schedule begins

From the time Hannah was born, I began to realize this whole “stay-at-home-mom” thing is a myth. There is certainly not as much staying at home as I thought, and I only have one child.

Summer was rather quiet, but our fall schedule is gearing up, and we are on the go! I have actually turned down activities because I really do want to preserve the precious “stay-at-home” time and don’t want to overfill the schedule with busy-ness.

Hannah is in preschool on Mondays and Wednesdays, and I was recently recruited to lead a small group Bible study at church on one of those days. I’ve only led Bible studies with high schoolers; adults make me nervous, so I’m hoping this goes okay. Twice a month, on Thursday mornings, we have MOPS (Moms Of Pre-Schoolers). This will be my second year in MOPS, and it’s a lot of fun.

Also starting soon is the Rah-Rah Sisterhood, a ministry that serves the pastors’ wives. There are only a few ladies invited to do it every year, so I’m honored to be joining the team. I’ll be writing encouraging notes to women each month, and next July it will be my turn to make the monthly gift to be distributed to all 18 of the wives (still solidifying ideas, thinking of something lemonade-related).

Between scheduled events, it leaves us time to go to HEB (“ay-chee” as Hannah says) and have some playdates. I tried going grocery shopping while Hannah is at school, but I was very lonely and realized I was talking to myself as I went through the store. Plus, I think going to the store together helps her recognize foods and be more excited about what she’s eating.

While Hannah is at school, Brett and I have scheduled some lunch dates. This works out really well because we don’t have to worry about getting a babysitter, and it’s nice to eat out without managing a high chair, sippy cup, bib, food on the floor, etc. We found a pizza place last week that does slices and yummy salads, so that may be a regular stop for us.

So that’s how our fall is looking. Though it’s still over 100 most days, so it’s not feeling very fall-ish. I’m thankful to be a full-time mom and set our family schedule. We certainly aren’t bored!

New fridge

Update to the fridge situation – we got our new fridge last Wednesday and are getting used to it. We are very sure we made the right choice. This is one of the only ones that would fit in our space, and it was definitely the best option.

Hannah was a trooper; we spent three days refrigerator shopping. We measured and re-measured. She liked the tape measure.

She tried to help with the fridge.

Would it also be fun to measure the cat?

As a PSA, I’d like to mention that apparently cats do not enjoy being measured. Anyway, here’s our new fridge with Bingley making a cameo.

You might say, “It looks likes there’s at least an inch from the top of the fridge to the cabinet, you could have gone bigger.” But what the picture doesn’t show is that the cabinets were hung crooked and the right side bottom is lower than the left side bottom. Fun stuff. The ice maker is very loud, but I have twice as much produce storage which is wonderful. With a little shelf adjustment, I think we have good places for everything.

After six days without a working refrigerator, I have never been so thankful for this amazing appliance.

Austin area fires

You may have seen on the news that the Austin area is suffering from several terrible wildfires. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed. Our house is not in a location that would be likely to have a wildfire, so we are not at risk. But we know several people in the neighborhoods that have been evacuated, and we don’t know at this time if their houses are safe or not.

Our church is involved in a city-wide relief group that is taking donations for those displaced by the fires, so Hannah and I went to Target this afternoon and stocked up on underwear and baby food to take to the donation site tomorrow. (a great use for the baby food coupons I still get!)

There are hundreds of firefighters working around the clock, but with the dry and windy conditions, the battle has continued for several days now. Today I could see smoke along the horizon from the biggest fire – which is 30 miles away!

I tried to embed a video, but WordPress is not cooperating. So you’ll just have to click HERE to watch. This was shot yesterday and posted by Texas Parks and Wildlife. Shocking how fast and destructive it is.