Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday Jacob!

I can't believe my sweet baby turns 1 today.

Every moment of your life has been such a joy for us, Jacob. We are so very, very blessed God gave you to us.


Friday, October 14, 2011

My Spaghetti Faced Boys!

I just can't get enough of these boys :) I'm framing these for my kitchen!

Cole, 13 months

Jacob, 11 months

Cole, 13 months

Jacob, 11 months

More Birthday...

Last Sunday, Cole got to have a party with his school & church friends. We are so blessed to have an awesome playground & gym at the church - so we had the party there. It was so easy!

This was Cole & his friend, Zander, showing Jacob his new toy. It was precious :)


I made cupcakes & bought ice cream cups. That's it!


The kids had so much fun, and, the only effort I made was to bake the cupcakes. That's what I call a WIN!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Home/School Connection: Fall Board

Since Cole started Preschool 3 years ago, I have felt like it was very important for us to actively work at home on the same skills he's working on at school.

We fondly call our home school work "Mommy School", which has come to bring on a groan from my son when he hears it! (He's not crazy about sick days, snow days & school breaks because he has extra "Mommy School" on those days). One of the ways I try to make it exciting for him, is to utilize as much opportunity as I can to bring color, design & fun into our work at home. When we lost our school/office combo room when Jacob arrived, we had to find creative ways to work all those fun extras into our home.

One of my favorites is our bulletin board. He loves it when he comes home from school & a new theme is on the board :) We had to downsize our board just a bit when we lost our school room, but, I did find a great place to incorporate this board into the kitchen.

Here's a shot of our Oct/Nov board.


We are in a big push for early reading right now. Sight Words & Letter sounds all around us. (You can also see my previous post on "Slap a Sight Word" here) These leaves are laminated & I write the weekly words in dry erase marker to prevent having to redo them each week. Gotta save a girl some time anywhere you can!


Here's our "Question of the Day". I use this to encourage creative thinking, and, early writing skills.


And of course we have a monthly calendar that we work with daily.


In upcoming posts I will be showing you other ways our home doubles as a classroom for the boys. I would love to hear how you incorporate these fun ideas into your home & classroom as well!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Birthday Buddies

This is Cole & his best buddy, Jake. They share the same birthday! It's so fun that they will get to celebrate together all the way through school. Because our school is so small, they will always get to have the same teacher :)


Yesterday, we brought cupcakes to school for the boys to share with their friends during snack. They were a hit :)

Mrs. Lister enjoyed giving each of the boys their 6 swats :) She is a great teacher, and Cole enjoys her very much.


Getting to celebrate birthdays at school is so fun.

Family Friendly Halloween Activities!

One of the biggest challenges that I, as a mother, face this time of year is finding activities for my children to participate in for Halloween. Going door-to-door trick or treating is just not a good choice for my family. With Dad working in the evenings, and 2 small children, it's just not a safe or smart choice for me to make. Still, I want my boys to have the fun & excitement of picking out that perfect superhero costume and letting their imagination soar with their friends. So..I search for alternative ideas that be fun for the boys, and, less stressful for Mom & Dad.

One great option is the Fall Festival at church. Many churches in Central Illinois offer some type of event in the week leading up to, or the evening of Halloween. You will usually find food, candy, crafts & tons of fun, all in one safe place. Another bonus...you only have to get out of the car once! If you have ever hauled costumed children in & out of car seats multiple times...you recognize what a bonus this is for you :) If your in or around the Montgomery County area, please join us at Hillsboro Free Methodist Church on Monday, October 31st from 5-7pm for Indoor Trick or Treating!

Another choice is hitting up your local pumpkin patch. One of our favorite trips is to our local Orchard (Broom's Orchard in Carlinville, IL), for their annual apple & pumpkin festival. Picking your own pumpkin is so fun for the kids, and, you get great pictures while your at it, Mom! Most festivals include food, hayrides, games, petting zoo's, even pony rides. These are great, low cost, family outings. Plus..your supporting your local growers! Your just intime for Broom's annual Pumpkin Fest this weekend. If you don't have plans, head on over to Carlinville.

While I love to see the children dressed up as Tinkerbell & Spiderman, I do not love the idea of opening my front door every 10 minutes, unsure of what may be on the otherside. For a safer option for both you & the trick or treaters - why not grab a few neighbors & set up a "Trunk or Treat" in your local parking lot. Most retailers would gladly offer their parking lot for a safe option for children. Park your cars, fill the trunks with candy, even set up a few fun games for the kids. Parents will appreciate the effort to keep everyone safe.

An important part of our preparation for Halloween, includes talking to my children about the good & bad parts of this day. It's important for them to understand that there are people who take advantage of children & adults, and emphasize the demonic origins of this day. We, as Christians are responsible for educating our children. My family personally does not dress up as ghosts, goblins, devils or monsters - they are scary to my children. We utilize this time to encourage our children's imagination, but, also keep them grounded enough to recognize there is evil in this world.

I would love to hear how you work to creative alternative for your family!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Celebrating our 1st Born

This Thursday marks the 6th, and, Golden Birthday of our First Born, Cole. We are so very blessed that the Lord entrusted him to us!

Our Celebration started last weekend with a Farm Party. One of Cole's favorite places is at my Sister's House - she just happens to live on a big farm. Horses, ponies, cows, bulls, goats...yes, the list goes on & on and he loves every minute of it. Josh & Lindsey graciously agreed to host his annual wiener roast birthday party at their house.



We were so excited that most of my family (immediate & extended) were able to celebrate with us. We enjoyed a bonfire, hayride, wobble wagon, pony rides, petting zoo, even soft serve ice cream!

By the end of the day Cole was covered in dirt & had a huge smile on his face. Before he fell asleep on the long ride home, he said "Mommy & Daddy, I just love today". Those moments are so precious. Cole has so much to celebrate this year, he has truly worked hard to get to where he is!


The celebration continues with a Party with his school & church friends this Sunday, and, a Party with Jason's Family next weekend. While we normally would not have 3 birthday parties, I'm kind of glad we can show him just how much he means to us with all of these celebrations this year.

Friday, September 23, 2011

One last summer adventure

Well, this post is a little late coming! Oh...I can blame it on housework, children, even cooking. But, well - the truth is, I've been surfing Pinterest a little too much lately :)

In late August, Cole got a couple of days off of school for a local celebration they have here. We took advantage of he & Jason both being off and went away on one last little adventure before we were thrown into the school year. We decided to try Caribean Cove Waterpark & Hotel in Indianapolis, IN. The rates were very affordable because they were running a buy 1 night, get 1 night free special. Waterpark access is included, as well as a full buffet breakfast each morning.

Here are a few pictures of the waterpark. It's all indoor - awesome not to have to deal with the weather issues, sunscreen, etc.





We also took advantage of the awesome Indianapolis Childrens Museum. It is a little pricey (about $50 for the 4 of us), but wow - we could have spent all day in there. They had a transformer exhibit - probably the coolest exhibit I have ever seen - in the lobby. The boys (my big boys!) loved it :)



It was a very quick trip, but so relaxing. If you get the opportunity to grab those quick weekends away - do it! Remember, your making memories both you & your children will always remember :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

10 Months old

Today, Baby J is 10 months old. I can't believe how fast it has gone. It's a fun time right now. We do all kinds of neat things.

Like...

Empty half a bag of wheat flour on himself...all while Mommy is loading the washing machine :)


Isn't that just the sweetest smile you've ever seen? Stinker. He knows he's caught!

He also LOVES to "help" unload the dishwasher. Like, while it's running. Yep, he's tall enough to reach up & open it.


As you can see, this happened immediately after the flour incident, while I was sweeping the floor. Yep...good times :)

Homework time!

Even though homework is pretty minimal in Kindergarten, we have a regular homework time as soon as Cole gets off the bus. I use that time to reinforce skills they are working on at school.

This is Cole's regular homework position. At the kitchen table, pencil in one hand - snack in the other! (this day, it was cheetos, so cheesy fingers on top of it!)


Because he has mastered the current skill they are working on with numbers, I decided to just try some simple addition. I used a worksheet that included the scale at the top & taught Cole how to find the number, move over X tick marks until he gets the answer. I also had him count on his fingers to reinforce he had the correct answer. He actually got everyone correct, on his own! I was so proud of him! (and a little proud of me for having a part in teaching him how to figure out the answer, he he)

Here is his first Math worksheet!

As you can see, he still struggles a bit with handwriting. The OT has us using this wishbone pencil - which makes it easier for Cole, but it doesn't solve the problem of his hands hurting when he writes. That will truly just take time, practice & getting used to the feeling of it. But, for the most part his numbers are all legible - which is a step up from last year!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Rusted Chain..Review of a beautiful gift!

My cousin recently had her 2nd child, a handsome baby boy named Corbin (he just melts my heart!). I wanted to get her a meaningful Mommy Gift since she already had 2 of everything else :) As soon as I got my email from The Pioneer Woman, I knew exactly what I should get. Ree reviewed a necklace by The Rusted Chain & had such wonderful things to say. I immediately went to their website & found a very cute necklace that I thought would be perfect. Kaci is a physical therapist, in scrubs most of the time, and, I thought this would be a great necklace for those casual work days ahead of her.

When I received the necklace I was so excited to check it out. Here is it!...


The first thing I noticed was how sturdy the chain was. I LOVE that. Having an (almost) 10 month old myself - I know the appeal of pulling at those necklaces, especially while nursing. I was thrilled to see that it was strong & would stand up to the abuse it might take from the little man :)

I have many upcoming gifts of this type planned, and, am hoping to maybe get one for myself as well (Dear Hubby, what a great Christmas Gift! hint, hint)

Please check out their webpage at http://therustedchain.com, or find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Rusted-Chain-Jewelry/108350919190616. You will not be disappointed!

(I did not receive any free items or compensation for this review ... I just love the product, and, wanted to share it with YOU!)

And, P.S. if you are not already a fan of The Pioneer Woman, you must check her out. I aspire to be her when I grow up :) http://thepioneerwoman.com/

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tonight we held our first Autism Support Group meeting. What I thought would be a pretty routine evening for me turned into a roller coaster of emotions.

As I sat & listened to 2 Mom's talk about their struggle with the fresh diagnosis, my mind went right back to where we were almost 4 years ago. I could feel the pain they were going through right now. So many unknowns, so many fears about what life might be like. I wanted so badly to fast forward their life 4 years ahead to where we are right now & show them it will be OK. But the truth is, even though we are in a good place right now, those fears still live within me. I'm scared to think about what life might be like for Cole as he gets older. All that I can hold onto is God's promise to me that he has big plans for Cole's life. I know this, I feel it, I believe it.

We survived these last 4 years holding onto the promise that God has put a call on Cole's life. Yes, we did all the "right" things. Therapies, Therapies, Therapies. But, I can assure you - no amount of therapy in this world can heal what He can. Dr's told us not to send Cole to school - he now functions well in a typical Kindergarten classroom! We consider it a blessing the extra help he gets at school because of his diagnosis. The Lord has put gifted, knowledgeable professionals in our life to support Cole throughout this journey. (not to mention support Mom!)

If I could say anything to those Mom's right now, it would be...Don't. Give. Up.

Work Hard - but remember to play harder :) These years go by far too fast to forget that they are children, and, the greatest work they have is play.

Educate yourself. Don't rely on Dr's or Therapists only. Read, Read, Read. If you don't understand it - keep looking until you do. Form your own opinions. Follow your gut! Remember, God gave these children to us, because He knew we were the perfect Mom for them. Don't forget that!

Let go of the Guilt. You are the best person for the job of mothering your child. No. Matter. What.

Pray. The most profound thing in the world to me is simply this.. God loves my child more than I do. I can't fathom it, but, it's true. He wants you to tell him what you need. Pray for healing, pray for financial support, pray for emotional support. Just pray. Everyday. Even when all you can muster up is "God, help". Just do it. He's there, He knows, He will help.

Stay strong. Have Faith. This is the most rewarding thing you will ever do.

Slap a Sight Word!

A month into Kindergarten and we are all about sight words in the Lenczycki House! I found this cute idea on Pinterest, and, fell in love. Now each morning when Cole leaves for school he has to read the 2 sight words by the door & "high five" the hands. I plan to put a set of hands in each bathroom too - just to get a few more words in use around here :)



These were so easy to make. Print the handprint outline onto colored cardstock (to make them a little more sturdy), laminate that & cut around. Print the sight words onto regular computer paper. Cute around the letters (allowing for height differences, this helps child distinguish between the letters), glue onto a piece of cardstock, laminate & cut around that. Attach velcro to the hands & words - and, change out as often as you like.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I have sat down to blog a few times in the past month, but, each time I started to write I felt a bit stressed - so I deleted it & thought "oh, tomorrow". Life has been a little stressful lately.

In the past 2 months life has looked a little like this...
We had a sweet, beautiful "gift" for a week that turned our lives upside down (more on that, someday). I still haven't fully dealt with the emotional leftovers of that adventure.
Cole started Kindergarten. That has thrown us into a whole new routine. Early mornings, packing lunches, doing homework, new bedtime routines - ahhh! The amount of material they cover in a week is a little surprising to me. I try to make sure that our school time at home (still fondly called "Mommy School" - creative, huh?! ha!) reinforces what they are doing at school - but I'm even having a hard time keeping up.
Jacob is just so unbelievably active. He's "crunning" (as much of a run while crawling as he possibly can!), teething, and eating me out of house & home! He still doesn't sleep through the night, that's a killer - and his naps have never been as good as Cole's were. He has 8 teeth already! Teething has been so much harder on him than it ever was on Cole. Lots of fussy days :( He also gets very fussy with Jason's Mom - who is our only real babysitter option many nights - which makes it very difficult for me to get out of the house without the boys at all during the week :(
I have several volunteer irons in the fire that are keeping me very busy. I love doing these things - all are wonderful, worthy organizations - but it's hard when you don't have your husband home at night to take a turn with baths & bed :)
OH, and, we still have a ceiling that needs replaced from the flooding that occurred in July! Seriously, how ridiculous is that?!

Ahhh...all that said, I'm also finding myself stressed about my house lately. I feel unorganized, clutter, and, just all around NOT peaceful about my living environment.

I think I need a week with nothing on my calendar to get life back in order & feel better! Wonder when that will happen?!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Family Pictures

We finally had time to get our family pictures done a few weeks ago. It's so difficult working with Jason's schedule, my Father-in-Law's schedule & the boys schedules. I think I am the only one that is flexible anymore! ha! I was so happy with how they turned out. It was a quick shoot, with neither boy really interested in having photos done - but we got several good ones, and, that's all that matters :)








Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lunchtime Love

Cole is such a picky eater. So much so, that there is virtually no way he can eat lunch at school but 1-2 times a month, at most. He just wouldn't eat anything on the tray. So, we are packing lunches.

One thing I miss most is having lunch with him. And, I think he may miss that too. I wanted to do something to let him know I'm thinking of him. Since he can't read yet - notes weren't logical. He's a very visual child - so I thought stickers might be fun.

Here's my simple creation for his Sandwich baggies...


So far, he seems to enjoy them :)

What fun ways do you surprise your child with their lunch?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jacob can Walk Along!

This was a few weeks ago. 8 months, 2 weeks when it was taken. Unbelievable...

Kindergarten!

OK - so I took a serious hiatus from blogging this summer. But, I'm totally OK with that :) I spent tons of time with the boys, and, loved every minute of it. But, now that school is back in session - I hope to be back on a regular blog schedule.

Speaking of school. Ya, um...Kindergarten.


Thumbs up was not how Mama was feeling at all :(

Cole had 1.5 days last week, and, starts his first full week today. I already put him on the bus & he should be arriving at Coffeen Elementary shortly. Hmmm. Not exactly sure how I feel about that.

Here he is saying goodbye to Jacob on his first day.

Apparently God knew I would need something to keep me from being curled up in the fetal position in the corner...so he sent Jacob :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Life...

I looked at my blog & can't believe how little I have posted this summer. It has just been so busy. I feel like I'm spending more time running than I am enjoying summer. We have had so many projects & appointments that we have spent more time in the mini-van than the pool! Hopefully we can slow down & spend these next few weeks at home before Cole goes back to school.

About that. School. Kindergarten. Ugh...more on that later :(

Friday, July 8, 2011

This is not supposed to be happening at 7 months...have mercy...

OK - I understand that every child is different, but SERIOUSLY...Jacob is going be running before 9 months at this rate. My heart can't take much more!

Jacob's Baptism

In May, we were so blessed to have family & friends join us for Jacob's Baptism. I thought I would share a few of our favorite pictures :)

Jacob's Godparents: Josh & Lindsey

Pr. Randy performing the ceremony

I love this. Cole had a special part of the ceremony & was so proud to be asked to help care for and teach his brother about the Lord. So, this picture was all the more special as Jacob is reaching out to Cole :)

Pr. Randy refers to this picture as "Old & Young"! I think it's just beautiful. I love the way Jacob is looking at him so intently :)

It was such a special day, and, one that we will always remember :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cole can swim!!

We have been trying & trying to get Cole to take his floatie off & try swimming. I knew he had good form with it on, but he was just too scared. Well, yesterday we were playing on the slip-n-slide and we all ran to jump in the pool & he jumped before he realized he didn't have it on. It worked! He started swimming & swam all day. He even started swimming with his face in the water (although I didn't get that on video) by the end of the day. I'm SOOOO happy!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Jacob Crawls!

This post is really late going up. I thought it posted, I guess it saved. Either way - Jacob has been crawling for several weeks now. He's into everything!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day

The Love of my Life
Thank you for giving me 2 beautiful (handsome) boys, who look nothing like me..Good thing I think your cute :) My life would not be complete without Rumi tournaments & late night Psych. You are truly my best friend.

My Dad
Thank you for always being there for me! Not only are you a great Dad, but an even better Papa to my boys :) You are the most giving person I know - I hope someday I give 1/2 as much as you do. And, of course, you introduced me to the best fried fish that exists..Buffalo!

And, to my Grandpa's..who helped mold me into the person I am today, loved me unconditionally, and, kept Mom & Dad from killing me during my HS years :)..Love & Miss you everyday!

Grandpa Gene
A short order cook extraordinaire! Every morning before school we would put our orders in, and, whatever we wanted we got. Pancakes weren't just pancakes..they were micky mouse, letters, numbers - whatever we wanted. He also introduced me to the most amazing food in the world..Fried Mush!

Grandpa Keith
I am a spoiled brat today because of you! I will forever have a love for Roller Skating, Fried Mushrooms & Rockin' Robin..all because of you :) My love for Christmas is a gift that could have only come from you.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Diaper Review

I will admit, with my oldest, Cole, I was a total diaper snob. I only used Huggies as a little baby, then Pampers when he got a little bigger. However, with Jacob, I'm stepping outside the box!

A girlfriend gave me a box of Target Up & Up brand as a shower gift. She promised me I would not be disappointed. I honestly thought - I will be cashing these in for the money back guarantee - I just had never had any luck with store brand diapers. Well...let me tell you. They are almost the exact same as Pampers - they are AMAZING! No leaks! And, you can get coupons on Target.com for Up & Up from time to time! But, since our closest target is an hour away, I felt like I needed to keep searching for cheaper options, closer to home.

One day I had a coupon for Walgreens brand diapers, and, they were on sale - making the diapers about .14 each (I never want to pay more than .17 per diaper since that's what I can get name brand at SAMS for). I also knew they had 100% money back guarantee, so, I tried them. They are good! Very, Very Similar to the Target brand. No leaks!

Then I got even braver. Are you ready...Dollar General Brand...(oh, I hear the gasps now!). They also have 100% money back guarantee - which, I thought, hmmm...good chance I will be cashing that in. Well....we are on day 3 with..NO LEAKS! They are not as cushy as Target & Walgreens...but they do the job!

I still want to try other brands. Walmart, CVS, even the SAMS store brand. But, for now, this is my findings :)

Do you use store brands? If so, which brands do you love & hate?!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Menu Planner...June 4-12, 2011

This week Jason is on vacation (YAY!) so I have to get back on my menu plans so that I'm not stressing everyday about what to cook :)

Saturday
Lunch: Frozen Pizza
Dinner: Roasted Hot Dogs, Chips, Baked Beans, Pasta Salad, Smores

Sunday
Breakfast: Eggs, Bacon, Hashbrowns
Dinner: Grilled Hamburgers, Mac & Cheese, Potato Salad, Cake

Monday
Breakfast: Cereal & Toast
Lunch: Eat Out
Dinner: BBQ Pork Steak, Salad, Baked Potato

Tuesday
Breakfast: Bagels
Lunch: Taco's & Nacho's
Dinner: Sandwiches & Chips

Wednesday
Breakfast: Orange Sweet Rolls
Lunch: Frozen Pizza
Dinner: BBQ Chicken, Cheesy Potatoes, Corn

Thursday
Breakfast: Pancakes & Sausage
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Hamburger Helper, Salad, Bread

Friday - Sunday...Out of Town, Eating Out!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Homemade Brownie Mix

Cole LOVES brownies. They are his absolute favorite - and, I search everywhere for a great box mix. But, no more! I found an online recipe for a homemade base mix, changed it up a bit & now have (what I think is) the best brownie mix! And, the nice part - the base mix makes a lot & can be stored for several pans of brownies!!

Base Mix (makes 18 cups mix or (4) 9x13 pans of brownies)
8 c. Sugar
4 c. Flour
2.5 c. Baking Cocoa
4 tsp. baking powder
4 tsp. salt
2 c. shortening
- in a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder & salt. Cut in teh shortening until the mixture resembles course crumbles.
- store in airtight container, in a cool place (I like fridge or freezer) for up to 6 months.

Cole's Favorite Chocolate-Chocolate Brownies!
4 c. brownie mix
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. chocolate chips
- in a mixing bowl, combine the brownie mix, eggs & vanilla; mix well. (note: this is a very thick, sticky mix! not like the box mix)
- fold in chocolate chips
- spread into a GREASED (I use crisco) pan - 13x9 - and spread as even as you can. (again: this is THICK & does not pour like a box mix)
- Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes. (mine was about 48 minutes, but, another oven was closer to 40). Insert toothpick to check doneness.
- Cool 10-15 minutes on rack - then cut & remove from pan.

These are soooo good!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Editing Fun

I've been trying to learn a bit more about Aperture ... and let me tell you, it's confusing! ha! Anyway..here was some playing this week.

I liked this perspective, I was squatted down, kind of under the plant & shooting up toward the sky.


This is actually a crop of one of the flowers in the pic above. I thought it was kinda cool :)

Our Last Fun Friday :(

"Fun Friday" has been Cole's favorite day of the week for 2 years. This is the name his Special Education Teacher, Mrs. Isaak, gave to Friday class. On Friday only the students with special needs are in the class. Now, don't get me wrong - I'm all for inclusion, but, this Friday class is amazing. Mrs. Isaak plans the coolest things for her students, and, EVERYONE participates, regardless of their level of need.

One of the funnest things is the annual Cubs vs. Cards T-ball game. It's always on the last Friday of the year. It is the coolest thing to watch EVERY student get to bat & score. (there are a few students who are unable to walk - Mrs. Isaak carries them up to bat, and, runs the bases. seriously - the woman is just that amazing!) You can tell by the look on the kids face that this day is so special to them.

Cole isn't having an identity crisis...he played for both teams that day. (a bit reluctantly! we just told him that any runs he made while batting for the cardinals would actually count for the cubs!)



And, Baby Jacob came to cheer Big Brother on too :)