Friday, September 25, 2009

It Has Begun...

Anna started pre-school this week. Crazy! I was so sad to see her go, but I think it's so good for her too. Anna has been wanting to go to school for FOREVER. I don't know if this is typical, but a few weeks leading up to this, I worried tons about sending her off...a few nights I couldn't get to sleep. And the first day was hard for me, but it got easier as the week went on. Anna attends Mon.-Thur. for three hours in the afternoon. I miss her, but the worried feeling is mostly gone. How will I feel when I have to send Anna and Benjamin (and maybe a future baby #3...maybe) to school all day, everyday?! I guess I should wait to worry about it when the time comes. Baby steps.
The pictures above are of Anna's very first day, outside our apartment. Not surprisingly, Anna had no problems adjusting to pre-school, and loved the whole experience. She loves her teachers, Miss Rita and Miss Karen. She loves the outdoor play time. She loves hanging out with 15 other little kids. She loves the toys, and activities they have. And she LOVES that they eat at school. The first thing she tells me about when I pick her up, is what snacks they had that day. ha ha.
I'm happy for Anna. This is a good thing. It helps that she goes to school during Benjamin's nap time. He's kind of a light sleeper, so we always had to do quiet activities, or watch a little movie during his nap. Now she gets to go to school and have all kinds of fun. Speaking of Ben-Ben, I hadn't considered how this would affect him. He's not napping for the whole time Anna is gone (the one-on-one time with him is a fun change too), and he always asks about her when he wakes up. And he keeps asking about her until we go pick her up from school. Sweet.
So there's our big news for the week. Next time I'll be sure to hi-lite Benjamin, you know, make sure he gets equal blog time. :)
Bonus ~ Ethan got to pick up Anna from school one day this week. He told me part of a hilarious conversation they had on the way home. Anna - "Daddy, I'm frustrated." Ethan - "Why?" Anna - "Because Mommy is in love with you and I am in love with you." Ethan - "Well, you can both love me, and I love both of you." Anna - "Okay."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Bit of Creativity...

So, I've never really thought of myself as a creative person. This idea was mainly based on the fact that I am not so into cutesy, crafty things (not counting kid's crafts), and never felt particularly artistic. However, in many of my education classes (including an amazing art class), in classroom experience, by decorating a home, and through church service, I have had many opportunities to try my hand at it. It's been fun. Lately I have been working on some projects that have me feeling pretty creative.

First of all, the kid's crafts. 1) Anna and I made some paper plate masks the other day, something we've done before. We made a lion and a bird, as you can tell from the picture. And yeah, they aren't perfect, but that's the point - we made them together. I loved how they turned out. Then at story time at the library, we heard a story about a lion and a mouse. So, when we got home, Anna had the brilliant idea to change the story to be about a lion and a bird so we could act it out. What a creative idea. 2) This other idea isn't really a craft, but it is imaginative. We were playing with a Topple game, and I decided to make little people on our fingers, with the topple pieces being the hats. Anna loved it; she insisted on having a whole family. Benjamin loved it even more; just watching us sing and talk to him with our finger people was enough to crack him up. Fun, fun.

This week we had an enrichment activity at church, and I was asked to give a lesson on home decorating on a budget. I thought I wasn't so qualified at first, but then realized this is something I really love. When we sold our home last year, we had numerous comments from potential buyers that they loved not just the home, but what we'd done with it - our colors and decorating style. I've always been into great deals...garage sales, clearance isles, thrift stores, etc, but I'm pretty picky about what I get. I think the creativity comes in by deciding how and where to use the item, whether to paint, or change it, etc. (Right now, living in a small, two bedroom apartment, and having a non-existent budget for this kind of thing, I'm currently not really doing much. :) For the class, I had many past ideas of my own to bring in and share, and filled in the gaps by searching a few articles on-line. I loved that my first main ideas involved three FREE things: de-cluttering, cleaning, and rearranging. Seriously, none of that costs anything and can make the biggest difference in a home. We also discussed many other ideas concerning themes, art, painting, accents, etc. Okay, I'll stop, but this was so much fun, and the class went great!

So, a description of one project I just recently completed: I had two black, square frames that I purchased forever ago for $3 each. I thought they'd look great on either side of our clock to fill up that wall a little more. The problem was, I didn't want to put in pictures of people because we already have plenty of family pictures displayed. They hung empty for a long time. Sooooo, I came up with the idea to take pictures of doors around our area to use. Artistic, right? (I later learned that there is an artist that is known for photographs of windows and doors, BUT I bet he hasn't done any from Clio or Frankenmuth.) Maybe not an original idea after all, but I thought it was, and I've already had so many compliments and inquiries about it. There are two doors I want to switch out, but this is it for now. I love that once we move away from this area, it will serve as a reminder of our time here.

When we have a home again, I also want to try this project: buy art canvases, but instead of painting on them (unless you're good at that kind of thing :), buy fabric that goes with your room/theme/colors to pull tightly over, and glue behind. A friend of mine did this, and it looked so good. And it's potentially inexpensive, depending on the size and quality of fabric. (Fabric stores and art stores often have great deals and coupon opportunities.) Something I am in the middle of for Anna's and Ben's room: hanging a twine "clothes line" on the wall, Anna is colorfully decorating the wood clothes pins, and then we'll use that to display her art work. I'll get a picture of it when we're finished. (I also like the idea of painting old frames matching colors, and putting the artwork in there...Maybe someday when we have a house and I want to decorate a wall in a family/play room.) Anyone have any creative, artistic ideas they'd like to share? Feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Perfect Autumn Activity...

First a little of this....

Then some of that....

To get this.....

Hmmm, perfection. I. Love. Apple. Pie. (Don't zoom in on this picture; it's not flatering. At all. :)
Incidentally, Benjamin now knows how to say apple (and night-night, but that's unrelated to this post).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Name Is Angela Rayhorn...

(Meghan, Jake and Rorie came to visit over Labor Day weekend, so fun, and Anna got her hair done like a "princess." Thanks Meg.)

...And I am a picture taking addict. Seriously. Many people often regret forgetting the camera to capture those precious family moments, a beautiful sunset, or that random silly act. Not me. I always think to have my camera, and I always take lots of pictures. Don't get me wrong, I love taking pictures. I love looking back at our family photo albums every so often. And I love that Anna and Ethan enjoy reminiscing with me. But, I've decided I need to cut back. Since Ben-Ben was born, I have just been on a roll. It's crazy, but I have to make a conscious effort to leave my camera at home. I also have to remind myself, really reassure myself, that it is okay if I don't get a picture of every thing we do and every thing we experience as a family. (So, I don't think I'm that bad, but I do think I could stand to cut back. Most of the pictures I take end up on here, or facebook, so you can be the judge. :)

In lieu of the highlights from our week, with pictures to accompany, this week I decided to write 5 things I have been thinking about, reflecting on, or appreciating lately. *Again, not because I believe many of you reading this will be very interested, but because this is also a journal of my thoughts.* Notice I couldn't bring myself to blog without any pictures this steps. (Although, these were the only pictures I've taken in a week or two which is good for me right now. :)

Numero 1) I only took piano lessons for three years, but I taught myself much more after that, and I have always been so grateful for the ability to make music. I feel peace when I play the piano. I have really missed not having a piano in our home this last year. (We left ours with some family friends in Marquette during our time down here.) I took for granted all the moments I was feeling stressed, frazzled, or down, that I could sit down at the piano and work through my emotions. It was a beautiful thing. Even when I was feeling especially joyful, playing the piano would magnify those feelings. I still have opportunities to play here. I am the sub for the organist in my congregation, and I play the piano for the primary children Singing Time every Sunday. The hymns and children's songs are beautiful and invite that peace into my life. But I do miss my own piano, and I miss playing other types of music.

Numero 2) Baby-proofing for Benjamin is never ending. Just when I think my little 750 square foot apartment could not possibly be anymore safe than it already is, Ben-Ben proves me wrong. I mean, it's such a small space, how does he keep finding mischief to get into?! New things - climbing on top of a small book case, standing on a little rocking horse to poke holes into his bedroom screen, and bringing a big toy block over to where I keep my keys so he can then proceed to climb up, press the car alarm, which I then have to rush out to turn off. (I'm amazed that it works from our apartment, since we don't park that close to our building.) Ethan and I often find ourselves describing Benjamin as being naughty, or naughty pants. A few weeks ago, we decided to stop using that word to describe him...avoid the whole self-fulfilling prophesy thing. I guess it would be a parent-fulfilling prophesy. Either way, it's been a lot harder than we realized.

On further reflection, I have come to realize that most of the time Ben-Ben is simply being curious, with a bit of mischievousness mixed in there. But other times he is being down right naughty: Pinching his older sister (it's only happened a couple times, but still!), looking you right in the eye and then quickly throwing all of his food overboard from his highchair tray, or running away from us as fast as he can, often endangering his life in the process. Moving on - I always feel like I must mention a few of Ben's sweetness's whenever I discuss some of the challenging things about him: his love-y, hug-y, kiss-y moods, reading time, he tries to help me by mimicking things I do, his big smile and even bigger laughs, and the list could go on. I love him.

Numero 3) Cooking is so satisfying. I have often told people that I don't like to cook, not to be confused with thinking that I am not a good cook. hehe It just wasn't a priority, and I saw it as a waste of time. (I was a busy combination of mommy/student/wife at the time.) Since I graduated almost two years ago, I have been cooking for my family so much more. I am surprised by how much I enjoy it. I still go for quick prep, I am a mommy of two little ones, but I find the process so rewarding. I love sitting down as a family, sharing a delicious, healthy meal together, and talking about our day. It's such a simple thing, but it seems so significant to me. Yes, some days I have to do a box mix, or a frozen meal, but the days that I cook (usually with Anna assisting me), I feel like I've accomplished something good, important. So, I try to stick with healthy meals - lots of fresh produce, whole grains, fish, lean meats, soups, etc. - but it doesn't always happen. Here are some of my favs right now - chicken enchiladas, Thai garlic beef (with mushroom, broccoli, and onion), rotini pasta with the works (meaning lots of fresh, sauteed veggies), chicken tacos with avocado, beef stroganoff, Italian chicken, chicken white chili, bbq roast, broiled salmon over couscous, and the list could go on... Hmmm, what should I make for dinner tomorrow?

Well, I was going to name five things, but the first three were so detailed, I think I'll just stick with that for the week. The fourth involved Anna's helpfulness/big sister role, and the fifth was about being creative (not in a 'crafty' kind of way though). Oh, and I want to record some of the conversations Anna and I have been having about appearance, and what true beauty is. I know she's only four, but she is the one initiating these conversations, and I keep it to a four year old level. But, I'll have to save these for another day. I'm sleepy! Hope you all have a fabulous week.

Bonus - A few new words from Ben-Ben: Echo, book, poopy, Bob (as in, Bob the Builder...a book he likes), Anna, Amen, ew (as in yucky), Rorie, ball, shoes, Ben, please, thank you, juice, and more. The learning to speak stage is priceless! *Many of these words would be impossible for the average person to decipher in Ben-Speak, but Ethan and I understand him, and that's all that matters. :)