Thursday, December 29, 2011


Olivia got to make candles at home last week. We had some candle making supplies from trying it out just after Rebecca and I got married. Olivia made two candles layered in different colors to give as gifts.

This was inspired after a trip to The NC Candle Factory a few weeks ago. Olivia said this was like being on the show How Its Made. She had lots of questions for our guide but seemed to like the color/scent room and the burn room the best.

And these lights remind us of the True Light and that we are to reflect that light.

 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”John 8:12
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

I then used the leftover wax to make something I've been wanting to try for a while: homemade firestarters

I had a bunch of oak shavings from a candleholder I made and so I put them in the egg crate and poured the hot wax into each egg holder. Once they dried, they worked great. :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hanukkah - The Feast of Dedication

We've been celebrating Hanukkah this week. No, no, we aren't Jewish. :) (Although, we do love the Jewish people. And we believe in a Hebrew God and Messiah.) What an amazing story and celebration. It is a story of standing up to religious persecution, of God doing amazing miracles, lighting lights to remind us of those things as well as the TRUE light of the World, being able to worship God and study the Bible freely. Thank you God for your light and miracles in our lives!

A simple candle holder based on the Hanukkah Menorah. Just a simple piece of oak with holes drilled in it. The candles are actually nothing but olive oil with wire wicks. The lampstand or Menorah in the Temple (only 6 lights) was oil burning. And one of the miracles of Hanukkah surrounds the provisions of 8 days of oil from just 1 day's supply.

  We took Olivia and the boys to a storytime at the library where they got to hear traditional stories, recipes, play the dreidel game and songs.

Ezra found himself a little chair that was just right for him. I seriously considered stealing it because he looked so cute in it.
Rebecca also found a great resource called Jonathan's story by Heidi Cooper at We read a part of it each day and did the suggested activities (bible reading, marching with our instruments praising God with the Psalms, the Songs of Moses and Miriam, and our own made up songs, praying blessings over the children and how God would one day use their little lives, making a family crest together, and reenacting the battle between the Jews and the Greeks--just to name a few) Also, we have been using Robin Sampson's A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays which is another great resource. We have generally been having a good time as a family and with friends. We had dinner and then hot chocolate and cookies. We tried our hands at making latkes.

One craft that O really enjoyed doing was making a family crest with 4 things we think are important. She picked (from top left clockwise): God's Word (in the form of a scroll), our family, the Cross, and God's creation.

Wondering why we would celebrate? Well, it has been a process but this article will is a pretty good introduction to the reasons.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Family Visits

This week, we went to visit both sides of Rebecca's family: the Fenskes in Durham and the Baldwins in Concord.

On Friday, we got to go visit with Rebecca's mom's family in Durham and see her Uncle Charlie, Aunt Nancy and cousin Sarah. Also got to see Grandma Jean and Grandpa Bill, but for some dumb reason, I didn't get a picture of them....

Then on Saturday, we went and had lunch with the Baldwin side down at Aunt Bethany and Uncle Phil's in Concord. 

The kids getting some help from Hunter, Matthew and Great-grandpa.

The 5 Baldwin Cousins. The last time they were all together was at our wedding in 2000!

4 Generations of Baldwins.
We had a wonderful time at both places and we hope to be able to see everyone again soon! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Olivia's Dance

At our church's Christmas service, Olivia did the dance she's been rehearsing for the past few months. She did such a great job! Thank you, Lauren, for working with her each week. :)

Olivia also got to show us some of the tap moves she's been practicing.

Olivia was also very proud of the mani/pedi that mommy gave her before the dance. :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Potty training

Gabe has been potty training this week and we've had some success. He's just like me though, in that he needs something to do while he's sitting there.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Family Baking Day

We had Daddy home today. We spent a good bit of the day in the kitchen. Cookies, Brownies, and Bread...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Week 37!

Well, Rebecca's reached week 37 She asked how she looked in the picture and my response was, "like Alfred Hitchcock." She didn't find that very funny...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Learning about the new baby

Olivia has had lots of questions for me about this baby. She often touches my belly and talks to/prays for the baby. She also has lots of questions about how the baby comes out. She remembers well coming to the hospital to meet Ezra for the first time (even that the hospital room had a green couch that she sat on to hold the baby) and talks about doing that again. In addition to the sibling class she got to go to with me, we have watched some videos about fetal development and we did a lapbook together. Here it is:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Into Africa

So our school work took us into Africa.

We incorporated our usual geography of learning as many countries as possible, the position of the continent on the globe, and some other major landmarks. Our main destination from which to explore Africa was Kenya. Olivia says, "my passport is getting full".

She enjoyed many books on Africa, from story and pictures about life in Africa to stories and tales that originate there. One of the resources I have enjoyed this whole year so far are Material World and Hungry Planet by Peter Menzel. These books have wonderful pictures and do a tremendous job showing how people live all over the world. Material World has families take all their belongings out of their homes and puts them on their front lawns (or other compatible area). Hungry Planet shows families with their weeks supply of food items. Both are very telling books and help Olivia to see that when we read stories of a child from Africa, that they really don't live the way we do most of the time.

Our science focus has been on the grasslands. This has been lots of fun for us since it is the home to many of the animals one only sees in zoos here. We talked about how these animals really live and interact. The One small square series has a great book on the grasslands with activity suggestions. I hope that sometime before the end of the year we can take a trip to the zoo. It sure would fit well with what we are learning. One thing that we can observe here is grass, looking at its roots and how it could stand up to being cut or eaten down without dying off and how useful it is in keeping the soil in place. God's creation is pretty amazing!

a notebook page

Olivia used a how to draw book from the library to draw these animals and then made them into a collage for her notebook

In our study of animals, she learned that a giraffe's tongue is 18in long and that its front legs are 10% longer than its back legs. Here she is trying out how that might feel. We also looked about the teeth of many of the animals in the grasslands (whether they are grazers or predators), including zebras and lions. That led to her inspecting her own teeth and learning what the different teeth are used for when eating.

Gabe getting in on the action.

Here is some of the art that Olivia worked on this time:

Wood burning

Wire jewelry. We used baling wire that she formed into jewelry. The spirals were formed on a pencil.

Daddy made Olivia a wand which she loved!
More African jewelry. We looked at the large metal and beaded necklaces often worn. She also made a fly whisk (many royals used animal tails to swat flies) with a toliet paper roll and streamers but it didn't survive for a picture--?too many flies to shoo?

For food, we cooked an African chicken stew (Doro Wat), made a chocolate teff pudding (which the kids weren't crazy about because of the grainy texture), and fried plantain chips. We played Mancala, made out of an egg carton and some dried beans. It was lots of fun. Our current read aloud is on the Missionary David Livingstone. He was certainly a pioneer missionary with lots of courage. We are now headed home from our "travels" for a while to await the new baby. :)