Saturday, April 28, 2012

Our Week in Pictures

Hi friends!

This week has been fantastic! I spent most of it in Atlanta at the Orange Conference. I'm still sort of mentally unpacking everything I heard, but there will be a post all about it coming this week!
Now...on to the pictures!

After years of flying standby (Matt worked for US Airways in Phoenix), it was pretty awesome having an actual ticket with an actual seat assignment.

Not gonna lie...I was pretty proud of myself for handling all the car rental stuff by myself. Not that I thought I couldn't, I just never have! When I saw what I was getting I was hoping for some dancing such luck. P.S. I loved this car!

I got to meet Landon!!! Friends of ours moved down to Atlanta and I got a chance to have dinner with them. I haven't seen them since last summer so it was great to spend even a little bit of time with them! 

This button makes me happy!

I learned so much this week! There were some great breakouts on creating Multi Sensory Environments for kids with disabilities, and using technology in ministry.

This is Stacy, and she is only one of the amazing people I met this week. She runs a Special Needs Ministry down in Texas, and I adore her!

The Orange worship team was absolutely incredible. I hate to say it, but I probably got more worship time in the past week then I did in the past year! It was absolutely wonderful.

Aaron Shust came to lead worship for a little while on the last day! It was fantastic!

I'm looking forward to getting all my thoughts together about this past week. Can't wait to share!

I'm linking up with:

life rearranged

Be blessed!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

1LW Wednesday: Orange Conference Edition

Wondering what 1LW Wednesday is all about? Check it out here!

Hello Friends!

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to be writing to you from Atlanta!! I'm here for the Orange Conference, and I am thrilled! Orange publishes Christian Education and Ministry curriculum and resources, and they are all incredible. We use their Early Childhood and Elementary curriculum at church, and I love it. 

I am here specifically to follow the Special Needs Ministry track. I told you all a bit about my passion for Special Needs Ministry recently, and I am looking forward to absorbing everything I possibly can. I get the chance to connect and be intentional with other Special Needs Ministry leaders and church members from all over the country. I will also be able to show people how important it is to a church community to be intentional and reach out to families with Special Needs. Nothing like sharing your passion to get you out of bed in the morning, right?
Over the next three days I will be learning about everything from how to effectively use technology in Special Needs ministry (iPads!), to creating a safe environment for my kiddos, to how to support other churches as they create and grow their inclusive programs. The best part of it all? I get to share it with you!! I will be tweeting like crazy over the next three days! If you want to get updates you can follow me @its_alongstory. To hear even more about what others are learning, follow the hashtags #OC12 and #OC12SN (SN = Special Needs).
If you want to learn more about Orange, check out their website HERE

Be blessed!


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Growing a Great Garden...Organically!

This post brought to you by Whitney Farms. All opinions are 100% mine.

Hi friends!

You probably saw in one of my Week In Pictures posts that we're working on getting our garden ready. My husband and I tried to have a garden back in Phoenix one year. We got one watermelon, and one strawberry.

 There it is...isn't it cute? I know people who grow successful gardens in those conditions. I'm not one of them, ha!

Now that we're back in the midwest, I'm looking forward to working on this garden with my mom. I grew up with her growing all sorts of stuff back there, and always having amazing canned goods as a result. I'm a absolutely in love with the idea of being able to provide healthy, whole food for my family. 

One thing I'm really excited to try this year is the organic plant food from Whitney Farms®

Whitney-Farms-Logo_Banner_New_C.jpg (6 documents, 6 total pages)

I try to buy organic when my budget allows. The idea of being able to grow a great organic garden in my own backyard is a dream come true! Whitney Farms organic plant food is easy to use (bonus!) and actually helps improve your soil. We have a lot of clay here in Illinois, so sometimes our soil can be tricky. If I can use something organic to make it better, then I will because, let's face it, I need all the help I can get!

Whitney Farms has two great options for organic soil

They have Tomato and Vegetable Food

109103_1.jpg (6 documents, 6 total pages)

and a more generic Plant Food

Organic Plant Food

Want to try out Whitney Farms® for yourself? Click on any of the linked text in this post to recieve a $3 coupon!

Be blessed!



Visit Sponsor's Site

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Our Week In Pictures

It's that time again! Time to take a peek into my week. I don't know if you guys care about my week, but's my blog! ; ) Part of the reason I love writing here is the fact that it's documenting my life, whether I realize it or not. These posts take that a bit more literally. 


OK, so if you don't know this already...I love Harry Potter. Like, LOOVE Harry Potter. I also love my Kindle, and it has made me sad that the HP books weren't available on Kindle. Until this week!!! Yes, I own them all in print, and yes, I will own them all on Kindle. Happy dance!

My mom has been clearing out my Grandpa's house to get it ready to go on the market (any one looking for a house in NW Indiana??). She found these really cool old cameras. We're not sure if they work, but they're pretty! 

Also on the list of Things Found at Grandpa's (it's a long list, you don't even want to know!). Canned Strawberries. Seriously? These are a thing? Weird.

I mentioned last week that I love my job. This stack of books makes me super happy!

Is there anything better than a sleeping toddler? Too cute.

I will get back on track!! Yummy breakfast to start the day.

Abbey is finally starting to come out of  a very picky eating phase. If she wants to dip her ham in her strawberry yogurt, I say go for it!

We've had some great weather, so I decided to start trying to find the garden. It's in there somewhere!

I had a helper.

We found a 4-leaf clover!

And lots of dandelions to wish on.

Well, it's a little better...right?

Sweet corn has hit the stores!! There is something amazing about the first sweet corn of the season. Nothing quite says Midwest Summer like that.

We decided to go out for breakfast this morning...not something we usually do. It was a nice little luxury.

Who knew that Instagram also kept toddler busy at restaurants! Haha!

How was your week?

I'm linking up with:

life rearranged

Be blessed!


Friday, April 20, 2012

Toddler Box 4: Cutting

Wow, guys! I posted 1LW Wednesday yesterday, and totally forgot that it was actually Thursday! Yikes. This is what happens when I go to work on a different day of the week.

Now that I know what day of the week it is...

It's Toddler Box time!

This one is so easy, and has so many different options for kids at all levels. I had a box like this in my classroom last year, and one of my kiddos loved it! It's great for fine-motor work, and pre-school skill building.

I started out with craft foam.

 I bought a pack of half sheet craft foam at Hobby Lobby for $6. It's going to last us forever! Cut your foam pieces down so they fit into your Toddler Box. Add in some (child safe) scissors, and you're all set!
Get to cutting!

This was Abbey's first time using scissors, so she had a hard time getting the hang of it. She'll figure it out soon! She kept wanting to use the scissors to pull on the foam and tear it, rather than cutting through it.

Getting there...

If your little one is having a hard time maneuvering classic scissors, try some loop scissors. They will help them master the motion of cutting without having to do as much work. 

Why foam and not paper? A few reasons. It's sturdier than paper, which is nice. Abbey can't squish it while she's concentrating on cutting. It also stands up while she holds it, instead of flopping over. It also gives her a bit more resistance than paper would.

Have kids that are already cutting? Make things a bit trickier! This is also a great way to work on cutting/tracing!

Add some lines to your foam and you instantly have a new cutting activity! 

My favorite part of this crafty Toddler Box? No waste! 

All those little pieces that you end up with are perfect for all sorts of fun and games! Use them for mosaics, or sorting, or whatever your little one can come up with!

Learning and recycling? Sweet!

Now, it's Kids Co-op time! Yay!

Welcome to this special outdoor, earth friendly, kid adventure, non-stop projects, and ideas editionof The Kid's Co-op! 

Each week we get together we'll ask YOU to share your favorite kid's activities. We'd love to see a plethora of ideas geared for toddlers to pre-teens. We are looking for activities that are family oriented, fun, unique and educational. Please share your favorite project or blog post below. We will be sharing our favorite post from our own blogs too! {Co-hosted by: The Kid's Co-op GroupLet's Lasso the MoonNurture Store}

PS: By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on our group Pinterest Board. Are following the Kid's Co-op on Facebook? Let's connect!

Be Blessed!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

1LW Wednesday #15: On Accountability

Hi friends!

I've been thinking a lot about accountability lately. Honestly, self-motivation is not one of my strong points. I am  way too good at talking myself out of getting something done. So I need accountability in my life. This whole series started out as a practice in accountability. But what does that look like? What are some different ways to stay accountable?

To-do list book.

1. Write it down: There is a reason programs like Weight Watchers, and others that have you write down what you eat, work. If it's down on paper, you're more likely to stick to your plan. You can't ignore those 3 cookies you just ate because they're right there on the page staring back at you. I don't think a plan like this limited to dieting. I have friends who loooove the act of crossing something off of their to-do list. It makes their day. Me, I tend to forget where I put my list. Maybe it's not my best tactic. Put it in your calendar, write it on your mirror, whatever!

2. Find a friend: Accountability partners are awesome! I have been incredibly blessed to have been a part of now 2 women's small groups that have challenged me to grow, both personally and spiritually. Hands down, I would not be where I am today without them. They celebrate my successes with me, and call me on my nonsense. It's not always fun to get called out, but it's important. It's like going shopping with your best friend, but better!
3. Put it out there: Tweet it, blog about it, put it on Facebook, tell as many people as you can! My friend, Sarah, put it out on Twitter that she was looking for someone to do a 30 day workout program with her. I saw the tweet, I have the DVD, so we're going to do it together. If no one knows you're working on something, no one knows to ask you how it is going. 

4. Don't forget where your true strength comes from.

Be Blessed!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Why I Do What I Do

Hi friends!

I'm starting something new today. I feel like I've said that a few times lately...hopefully that's a good thing! I've realized that I don't share much about my life outside of this blog, except maybe tidbits in 1LW. There is so much more to me! So, I'm bringing you....Mommy Mondays!
I'm hoping to use this as a place to share things I'm working on, projects I've done, and all sorts of things that don't seem to fit anywhere else.

Today, I wanted to share a little bit about my job. I work part-time as the Special Needs Coordinator for Good Shepherd Church. Never heard of something like that? It's OK. Not many churches have them, especially not on staff. But, things are changing, and more and more churches are jumping on board! I'm thrilled to be part of it!

Before I tell you more, watch this.

I want to help families carry their rocks!
So what do I do? I work with families at Good Shepherd to make sure their needs are being met, at least as many needs as we can help with. I pair kids up with aides for our Sunday School program so that they can attend with the support they need. This also gives parents a chance to attend service without worrying.

We also host a respite program called Share The Care. Once a month we take care of kids with disabilities, as well as their siblings for 3 hours so that parents can go out and do...whatever they want! At least here in Illinois, respite time is hard to come by, so even this short amount of time can be a huge blessing to families.

Why is this important? The statistics are hard to find, but this is how I have heard things reported. I apologize for my lack of back up information...If you have any, I would love to see it!

I know what the community that I have had at church means the world to me, and has gotten me through in rough times. I can't even imagine trying to live life with a child with a disability without my faith community around me. I wish I could say that all of those families just choose not to go to church, but that's not the case. My heart breaks every time I hear of a family being told that they are a "distraction" during worship, or that a teacher doesn't know how to "deal with" their child. These stories are NOT in the majority, but they are there, and they are painful.
We at Good Shepherd have decided to stand up and say 
"You won't hear that here. You are welcome. You are loved. Come."
Want to get the inside scoop on our ministry, FUSION? Go check out our facebook page

Special Needs Ministry has become a passion that I never expected to have. I call my job the dream job I never knew I dreamed about. It is, hands down, the best job I have ever had, and what I want to do for the rest of my life. I am thrilled to have the chance to attend the Orange Conference in just about a week.
 Orange is a company that writes phenomenal Christian Education curriculum. We use it at Good Shepherd, and love it! Every year they hold an annual conference. When my supervisor went a few years ago, they had one Special Needs breakout for the whole 3 days. This year they have EIGHT! Not only will I have the chance to learn from the best, but I get to meet someone I consider to be a mentor and inspiration, Amy Fenton Lee, of The Inclusive Church. I might have a total fan-girl moment, just sayin'.
Want to join in on the fun? Not only will I be blogging from the conference, but I will be Tweeting updates all week. Follow me: @its_alongstory. It's getting harder and harder for me to stay calm about next week. There is some serious happy dancing in my future!

Be blessed!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Our week in pictures

Hi friends!

Sorry about the lack of Kids Co-Op post this week. It's been one of those weeks!

I'm starting something new today. I love all the posts I see from everyone documenting their week in pictures. I think that sometimes we get so wrapped up in taking pictures of events that we forget about the every day stuff.  That's the stuff that really matters, though.

So, here it is...our week in pictures.

Here it is...the picture that starts it all! I've never had a fancy phone. Seriously. I was getting my QWERTY keyboard when everyone else was getting their touch screens. I'm SO excited about this little luxury!

I had to take Matt to the Chiropractor (his neck is out...again!), and Abbey was such a good girl in the waiting room. I know that we're trying to break her finger sucking habit, but I also know that someday I'm going to miss it.

That trip to the Chiropractor was unsuccessful. One trip to the ER for x-rays and 3 prescriptions and Matt is on the mend. On the plus side, since we were at the hospital we got to pop in and visit my friend who had her baby that morning! Sorry, no pics of her.

Thursday was a sad day. After we got home from the hospital we found my cat, Leroy, at the bottom of our basement stairs. He was panting and had lost the use of his back legs. We got him to the Vet ER where he was diagnosed with Saddle Thrombus, and sadly had to be put to sleep. I miss my kitty.

On the plus side, Abbey got a chance to talk to Pop Pop (my dad) on his business trip to India. He'll be home tomorrow, yay!

I'm linking up to:

   life rearranged

Be blessed!


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