Saturday, October 26, 2013

Happy Harvest Continues

  More activities for the kids, centered around fall and it's all of it's homeyness. We made paper bag owls and hung them on the windows with our leaf garlands. The kids have been enjoying videos about Johnny Appleseed and how much he loved the earth that God made - I thought he was a perfect person to study for fall!
  And then because I couldn't resist - a little bit of winter. I want to make snow globes with the kids this Christmas so this was a test run - I think it turned out just peachy.
  Pumpkin Spice tea parties with hotcakes for snack. I made a sour cream pancake batter then mixed in sharp cheddar and apple chunks...fried em' up and served them plain. The kids ate every last one and didn't care a bit about the missing syrup.
  Little bug looking very "bugish" if I do say so myself.
  Just this afternoon the kids got to dress up and celebrate Halloween early. Mom and Dad Corley found a local fall festival at the college Zac use to attend so had lots of fun with that. I didn't put much thought (or money) into the kids costumes but they turned out pretty darn cute.
  I found this lovely purple dress at the thrift store for about 3 bucks and though it would be perfect for a princess fairy (Trin's costume wish) but she could also use it at church or whenever. I found a sprig of flowers at the dollar tree and bobby pinned them in her hair...she would scrunch her nose up and squeal every time I stuck in a if I was sending it straight to her brain.
  And as usual, I forgot all about the fact that people need shoes....especially fairies going out in public! About a hour before we were due to leave I grabbed some flip flops from the summer, wrapped ribbon around them and hot glued the leftover leaves and flowers. Perfect - and thrifty.
  She said she was a fairy...but I think she's an angel.
 The wings we found at the thrift store - probably the prettiest little costume wings I've ever found (I think in Trin's lifetime we've gone through 4 sets?!)
  Tristan chose to be a pirate which was good news for me - I still had Brady's Jack Sparrow costume from last year...also a Goodwill treasure. The sword is from the Dollar Tree as well.
  A little bit of mama's eyeliner applied to his chin and he was done - love his little expression. So posh.
  Brady found a robin costume at the thrift store...donned Finn's eye mask and a pair of his favorite black rain boots and he was simple yet very super heroish. Oh yah, Zac used ample amounts of hair gel to achieve the "comb over" affect.

 Finn used his Yoda costume from last will probably fit for at least four more years . :)

 The weather was beautiful and the trees were orange. There were games and a "trunk or treat", free pony rides and cotton candy and popcorn...lots of games and a bouncy house slide - the kids had a blast.
Thanks to grandparents and their extra helping hands - we were able to have a much easier time with the kids out in public (a pretty big challange for us!) and also skip the spookey freezing  Halloween night trick or treating. We are finishing off the day with some Papa Johns Pizza and calling it a "holiday." Next...
Trin's Birthday!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fall Creativity

“Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile.”
William Cullen Bryant

 Fall doesn't last long in Colorado. Knowing this (last year I was QUITE disappointed that my favorite season flew by in about 4 weeks!) I decided to take advantage of this furiously fast flying sweet season and try to enjoy it to the much as my time and wallet will allow me. My answer for inspiration....Pintrest, the grocery store, and the left side of my brain.
 Now, don't call me super woman  ( I mean...if you want....) because I haven't ALWAYS made everyday pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar sweet - by I've tried to do one semi special thing a day. It hasn't always happened, let's get real...this is life...but I made my goal this year to make the holidays truly special for my little family. Last year was pretty blah for me. I'm a holiday lover and I think I allowed lousy circumstances and high expectations to get in my way - and this year God has reminded me that my life's happiness totally depends on one thing - my attitude and trusting Him to give me the desires of my heart. So with that said - I begin charting our holiday season thus far :
   We took a lovely trip to the mountains searching for oranges and yellows and reds. You will find some leaf changing in the city but definitely not as vibrant (too many buildings and not enough trees!) Our "leaf hunt day" was perfect in every way. The kids were champs even though they were basically in the car for five hours. We let them listen to their first ever Adventures In Odyssey (which I think I enjoyed more than the kids and even CRIED at one point ) while munching on some homemade gingersnaps (I think I ate eight of them...but who's counting?). We found a lovely spot to take a walk on a trail that had an old railroad track, very picturesque, and then we drove PAST our destination and kept going for another hour and a half just because. Apple cider on the way home and a sub sandwich and it was a DAY.
 "Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree."
Emily Bronte

Fall Project number two - Pumpkin Painting! At the end of summer I had gone to Micheals with a friend and found some metallic Acrylic paints on clearance, all gorgeous fall colors - gold, silver, copper, and a pearly white. I had a pumpkin sitting on our porch the other day...trying to figure out what the kids could use these awesome paints on - anyways, the pumpkin was the perfect solution. I drew a line down the middle so that the kids could both paint a half. While painting we learned about the different pigments that turn leaves red, brown, yellow, and green. You Tube has been my friend this year. Homeschooling is so easy with Youtube. "Hey kids, let's color these leaves and watch a video on why they change colors." Click Play. Watch. Have a short discussion and question and answer and we call it a class. The best part? The lesson actually sticks with them. Success.
   "If you hear a voice within' you saying 'You cannot paint' , then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."
- Vincent Van Gogh

 Painting with those bright glittery colors was just so much fun we didn't get our fill with the pumpkin - so we also tried painting leaves. They turned out really really pretty.

 Our homeschooling is going well - the kids really love learning at home and I'm able to give them individualized lessons which is ideal for kids with ASD. Zac and I just found a great church this last week and are so excited about our kids being able to make new friends, being able  to learn to serve, and the awesome added bonus is that this church has an Awana's Program! The kids loved being part of a club and memorizing scripture and competing in games. It gives them an opportunity to be around other children each week, have goals and lessons to complete, and also gives them some kind of competitive outlet. Trinity loves competing. :) Brady did pretty well but the two hours of socializing was definitely all he could handle. He says he looks forward to going back though so that's something positive!
  Another little bit of wonderfulness is that this fall we get milk delivered to our door each Wednesday morning...only a day old and more of the cream left in the milk then even the whole milk found in supermarkets (that was a really long apologies). The eggs are two days old by the time they get to your door and the price is fair. I could maybe save three dollars a week buying them at the store...but waking up to fresh milk and eggs and coffee cream at 6 am? Priceless. I've always wanted to have a milkman...and now we do! What a perfectly fallish thing .... on a chilly morning, venturing outside in your winter jammies, opening up your white box and finding fresh dairy goodness. I thanked God - because for me finding out we could have dairy service was such an unexpected gift. God gives us fun little things...a falling golden leaf, a bird flying across the sky, the smell of coffee in the mornings - and milk on the doorstep - all lovely gifts and they are SO much more special if we remember to thank Him. Thankfullness makes everything magical.

 Do you think the milkman liked our pumpkin?

 And our latest project came out of pure desperation. I was sitting on the porch swing trying to soak in some sun and get over my hormonal gloominess, just thinking to myself "how in the world am I going to get through this afternoon with these kids without becoming some kind of witch." Trinity ran outside at that moment and I just thought "beauty." We needed to create something beautiful. Beauty to me is something organic and naturally perfect (a tree, a smooth stone, a creek flowing and bumping into rocks and sliding itself against the soft grassy banks) mixed with a bit of glitz (silver, gold, a simple chain or a vibrant color...a beautiful fabric.) I looked in the shed and opened up the box of Christmas supplies and found the most perfect disco ball glittery ornaments - and I had about 15 of them!
 Trin and I "bedazzled" our trees in the backyard! If you can't have a Christmas tree INSIDE yet we might as well have one outside. The way the sun hits the glitter is just stunning and is sure to cheer you up on a gloomy grey day.
 Mama Bear Grumps not totally solved...but being creative always helps!
Now to plan a sweet little girl's birthday (my squirrel is going to be six in ONE week from today) and then some type of Halloween party for my kids that doesn't include pounds of candy and witches and spooky things that belong in hell ---- we will see what we can come up with. :) Hopefully something fun AND lovely.

 Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love. 
-- Hamilton Wright Mabie

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Happiness is ...

Happiness is :

~ finding sweet love notes on the bed stand....

~ and then opening it to find a special surprise

~ a beloved craft that never seems to grow old
~ bright colors
~ handmade gifts and thinking and praying for the special recipient
~ visits to Hobby Lobby

~ two trees, intertwined ...almost hugging, standing together in the forest, for years and years....everlasting commitment
~ being able to see romance in everything...even trees :)

~ Having a soul mate
~ Having a handsome soul mate
~Having a kind soul mate
~ Having an everlasting friend

~ sunshine peeking through trees
~ the smell of pine
~ a birthday hike with the aforementioned "soul mate"

~ muffins that look like mountains

~ early Christmas presents because a baby was bored...and a mama can't keep a surprise
~ ten little toes

~ Dollar tree playdough
~ mixing up all of the colors...and no one caring

~ special gifts from my love
~ pure beeswax candles
~ the light sweet scent of honey

~ slipper boots ...enough said

~ finding fairies in fairyland...and I didn't put them there
~ imagination
~ the song "How Deep the Father's Love For Us"
~ sweet memories of my Havala and Emily and Joy...wishing I could hug their necks and eat apple pie with ALL of them

~ learning new skills
~ occupational therapy through everyday living
~ chocolate

~ fall crafts
~ smiling littles and a plateful chocolate kisses
~ a large enough table to spread out, nice enough to look "nice" but old enough to be used the REAL way (markers, glue, glitter...etc etc)

~ sun shining through colored glass
~ a soft breeze
~ hopes for the future
~ good dreams
~ birds singing

~ a game of tag and no one yelling "HEY! Where's your pants?!"

~ wiggling bodies in green grass
~ dog pile of buddies
~ built in friends

~ serious beautiful faces
~ snagging a carhart coat for $5.00
~ more hopes and dreams

~finished products
~ nutter butter bite, chocolate kiss acorns
~ Pintrest
~ knowing my husband is coming home in the morning

Happy Saturday Friends

Friday, October 4, 2013

Laundry Soap and Character

  Jack Frost came for a visit last night....expected (I saw it on the news) and unexpected (you never really truly believe it's going to snow until you wake up to white dusted yard.)
 The kids had to get out in the first snow right after breakfast...I was tempted to say "no" since Tristan had school to get ready for and I was afraid of them all catching colds...but hey...what's the fun in that? You only live once...might as well let little kids be little kids.
 On that note...I forgot how much goes into getting kids ready to go out in cold weather. Just taking Tristan to school was rather challenging this went something like this;
10 boots (and all that that implies...finding socks and wrestling kids down to put them on...)
5 coats
5 winter hats
pants that fit
library books for the kids to read on the way to school
one packed lunch
one school project
emergency lollipops for a crying Finn
red backpack
warm up the car
carseats situated
....and don't forget the baby!
I remembered it all...except after I had driven half way to Koala's school I realized I had forgotten MY purse and phone. Awesome times. I didn't turn around to go get them...I just drove driver's license free - living on the edge.

  Once home we made up a batch of much needed laundry detergent. I like this project because, first of's cheap. But mostly, I love it because the kids love it. Brayden wanted to try grating the bar of soap and despite my fears...he did fabulously.
  We melted our cheese-like soap in a big pot of water, added the other ingredients and called the project done.
  Brady was so sweet to offer for Trin to help stir the finished product. I love the simple triumphs in parenting....a "sharing" success, or a "helping" success...whatever it is, if it's good, I'll take it.
  We celebrated with muffins ....
  and then tackled a little fall project we thought up while at the Dollar Tree this morning. I feel like with it snowing all of the sudden we are going to totally miss fall...but I've been assured by many that this is just the norm in Colorado and the sunshine and warmth will still be paying us a lot more visits before the long winters. I feel like we live in a Little House on the Prairie book when I talk about if we are all huddled up in a sod house for months on end eating only potatoes that have started sprouting. It really isn't that bad - close though.
  There now...isn't that festive? Just a couple dollar packets of leaves and I found a pack of three rolls of jute twine for a buck...I became MOST excited about this particular find, I probably embarrassed my kids with my enthusiasm. But really...there is just something about the word "jute." It makes my mind go quickly to the "commune Alyssa" space - I love it.
  I adore little cozy spots. I love having a house that looks lived in. Note I didn't say "dirty." I do NOT like having a house that looks unfortunately living and dirt kind of go hand in hand. I mean can't survive without dirt now can you?
  Our dinner was a simple bowl of homemade tomato soup...the most perfect end to a chilly day. My kids are wild about tomato soup...I literally just dump a can of organic tomato sauce into a pot, add another can of milk...a dash of salt and pepper and a little baking soda to keep the milk from curdling and then about a teaspoon of sugar to cut the acidity - and's done. No high fructose corn syrup or preservatives like the Campbells but every bit as good, yet cheaper and better.

And I couldn't very well end a post without a word or two about what I've been learning.

 First of all, I heard someone say recently that you will never regret the time you spend with your kids. You won't look back in 10 years and say "wow, I wish I wouldn't have given them so much of my attention." I want to be constant in my kids lives...I want to drop what I'm doing when they need me and when they don't - I want them to be a priority all of the time. I think that is one perk to homeschooling - I know what my littles are looking at, how they are speaking to each other, what they are learning, what they are eating...I can see it all. I can train them all throughout the day in every situation.  This is a good thing (I've had differing opinions on this...I've finally come to the realization that I no longer give a flip. I'ts my life.  :) )
  However, I also am aware that just because I am home with them doesn't mean that I am always present with them. There are days where  I am constantly trying to pull myself away from my worries and my fears and my daydreams, my agendas...just to smile at them and be present. God is challenging me right now to keep him first, others second .... isn't it so easy to not view your family in the "others" category? It is for me sometimes.
 And secondly, I'm just encouraged that He says that if I am delighting myself in Him, He will give me the desires of my heart. I'm realizing more and more how long I haven't really believed this promise because of our struggles over the last few years. I kept feeling like because my life has turned out differently then what I thought ... that my desires...the ones that are deeply seeded in me...wouldn't have the possibility of blossoming or flowering or growing at all.
 My biggest desire has always been to be a mother...a darn good one. I've always wanted to keep my kids close to me, I've always wanted to be used for more, I've always wanted a fulfilling marriage - that's basically it. To some people that might not be a very lofty dream. For me, when I found out that our two boys were autistic I felt like most of that dream would go away. Part of it is because of advice from others about how I would need help, a lot of my kids would need trained professionals to help them.  So, to me...this meant my kids would be away from me, I wouldn't be who they needed....and outside of that - at this point, I really don't know who I would be. Oh I've heard a lot of "well, just think...with your kids gone during the day you could paint, you could run, you could get caught up on stuff at home so that when they get home you can be a better mother to them." It really made me start believing that that truly would be best...I started doubting my capabilities and if I was really just kind of a drag to my kids because I'm pretty tired and a lot. I would try it out in my head...picture what the day would be like. And, after lots and lots of thinking - I'm totally uncomfortable with the whole idea.
 And then, it came to me. UMMMM - I'm STILL the mother. Autistic or not - I'm still the mama bear and I still know these kids the best and God tells me that He will give me strength in my time of need - that I can do ANYTHING with Him. I can teach these kids school...I can. I can spend time with them even though it takes a lot more thought and effort than it does when "hanging" with a typical child. I can love them and give them that sweet good childhood that I crave for them. I can read them stories even though thirty minutes earlier they were in the middle of a meltdown - I can change my day to suite their days. If they need therapies, I will get it for them - but I don't have to give up on my believe system because of them needing a few therapies.
 Our lives our different - we don't have a huge group of friends, we are pretty isolated. Right now, I often feel like I'm not being used or serving others as much as I would love...and then I'm reminded that as long as I am open and giving then God will give me situations that I can help. It might not be a missions trip to Haiti right now or helping to pay someone's rent but that's just because it may not be the season for me to be used that way.
  I'm going to get to the point where I just look at my kids and i have a heart of thankfulness and see them all as huge blessings and I don't see them as a burden or a hindrance to my dream. I want to do this on a daily basis...I want to watch them learn, I want to watch them live --- and I want to do it with hope.  If I delight in Him...He will give me the desires of my heart. My desire , if I'm walking with God and loving Him and talking to Him and letting Him hold me, my desire will be to live the way he wants me to live --- and that means I will live with thankfulness not with fear and resentment, I will live with love and not bitterness, I will be giving and not selfish - my desires will be HIS desires. That's how it works. And for now, my desire is to be with my teach them obedience, attentiveness and self control. So...that's what I'm doing. We may skip school from time to time and eat one to many muffins...but we are doing good and they are learning and I want to focus on building good character in my kids. That's my goal for now.
 So...really, my life is just right. I've been given exactly what will bring me closer to my husband, and I work hard everyday trying to connect with my babies in ways most people will never understand. The challenge for me is to believe this truth on a daily basis...
 And now, I'm going to turn of my computer and listen to the sweet breathing of my Squirrel Girl who is snuggled beside me in my bed...having a little girl slumber party tonight.
 Happy Weekend Friends...