Clarissa 4.5

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Clarissa is growing up so fast. I can’t believe she will be four and a half years old on Tuesday. It seems like every day she says or does something that surprises me. She is also starting to look tall to me (until we leave the house and stands next to one of her actually tall friends).

Clarissa has always enjoyed reading. She sometimes still stays up with a reading lamp at bedtime. What has changed is that she tries to learn from her books now or act them out. For example, we recently read a book about a girl who turned her bedroom into her own country. Immediately after we read this book, Clarissa decided to turn her room into “Clarissavania,” complete with a flag, rules, money, and national treasures.

She and Mittens really do act like sisters. They love each other one minute and annoy each other the next. Clarissa often likes to pick out treats or presents for Mittens at the PX and Mittens sleeps in Clarissa’s bed every night.

Clarissa likes to dress herself. She is getting quite girly and prefers skirts to pants. She often pretends to be one of the Equestria Girls. She also prefers to wear boots instead of sneakers. She sometimes pretends to be an Equestria Girl and give me a concert.

I thought that she had given up on Legos in favor of Barbies. But in the past few weeks has been more interested in building Lego cities. She also plays a game she calls “umbrella party.” This basically entails bringing the big umbrella into the living room and putting a bunch of toys next to it to play there. Her favorite game to play is called “family.” Sometimes she is the mom and puts a baby doll in her shirt and in a few minutes pulls it out and says, “look I had my baby!” and proceeds to take care of it. The baby needs to be nursed, have a diaper change, and put in her crib. Other times, the doll is her baby sister and she tells me to nurse it, but she does everything else.

She jumps on her trampoline every day. The trampoline also serves as a stage for a concert. Clarissa and I also like to play Just Dance together on the Wii. This week she has started to get very silly with it. Half the time, instead of dancing with me she just does something silly into the camera because she wants to see the playback.

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Clarissa is finally starting to eat more foods. She will eat chicken and scrambled eggs consistently and will even occasionally eat part of a bison burger. She will randomly eat fruit like apples, strawberries, and grapes. She will eat any flavor of fruit squeeze though. Vegetables are still pretty elusive unless you count seaweed.

Her favorite movie right now is Home Alone. She thinks the bad guys getting beat up is hilarious.

Clarissa still enjoys doing school with me. When she was younger, I thought she was going to be left handed. At this point, I think she is ambidextrous. She will use both hands when she draws or writes letters. Clarissa has really enjoyed coloring with markers lately.

Clarissa still prefers play dates with one child at a time but is getting more comfortable with larger groups, especially at church where it is the same group each week.

I always like to write down her new sayings so I will remember the funny things she says:

More upper or downer (go up or down)

Figerate (figure something out)

Comforter (comfortable)

Clo (clothes)

Insterding (interesting)

Skewel (school)

Fabulous!

I’ll show ya

What the heck?!

The next time you and Daddy go on a date, I don’t need a babysitter. God will protect me.

Mommy come with me. I’m getting lonely (if she needs to go to the bathroom).

She and Tim also spent a month or two of regular arguments at the dinner table about whether or not there should be a baby in my tummy. She has recently given up on that and has started to say, “we need to move to America so we can adopt my sister.” The other reason she wants to move to America immediately is so that we will be a two car family. Apparently she is tired of walking with Mommy during the week…

Preschool Update

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We started officially doing preschool this summer when we started God’s Little Explorers. We started by doing lessons once or twice per week, whenever she was excited about doing school. We had a lot of fun reading books and watching Magic School Bus. She was really excited about the human body for months. We would read books about the human body. We drew pictures about the human body. We pretended to be the digestive system on the playground. We even traced Clarissa on big paper and drew the inside of the human body.

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Then, at some point I decided that I wanted to get through the Old Testament stories so that we were ready for the baby Jesus week around Christmastime. Honestly, that got a little stressful to make sure that we did four days of lessons in a week. I wanted to make sure that Clarissa still had plenty of time to go to the playground or play with friends.

We took December off to focus on Truth in the Tinsel. But Clarissa would ask for “school” one or two days per week anyway. So we would play math games and sort or count objects. She also gets a few magazines with learning activities in them. I also bought some phonics readers, learning games, and puzzles from a friend that arrived about that time. Clarissa would play read and play for hours.

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Since Christmas, I have slowed down the pace of her lessons and we have enjoyed it more. There are four lessons per week of the curriculum. So we spend two weeks talking about a Bible story and spreading out the activities. We usually end up doing school three days per week. So we usually end up doing something different on the third day. Lately that has meant working through a healthy habits/manners curriculum I found on SchoolhouseTeachers. I am also in the process of reviewing a few learning websites so Clarissa has enjoyed that extra screen time playing those games.

Clarissa seems to really like our schedule for school. It’s not everyday so that it gets boring. But if we don’t do school for a few days, she will ask for it. I think she likes reading the Bible stories. I like that we do the same story for two weeks so that by the end of the two weeks, she can tell me the story. She also likes having some free days to be able to create things. For example, recently she read a book about a girl who made her own country. Clarissa spent the entire afternoon turing her room into “Clarissavania,” complete with a national anthem, national tower, and flag.

She still isn’t thrilled about writing. But she does it now. I write the letter of the week and the number. She will trace it four times each. She does recognize the letters that we have worked on so far. She can write longer now before she gets tired, probably because Clarissa spends time coloring most days.

Clarissa does get excited about the activities though. If I try to just get by with reading the Bible story or a book and then counting or practicing letters, she knows. She will ask “but what is the activity today?”

img_20180207_102354971114659.jpgAt this pace, we will probably finish this curriculum by the time she turns 5 in August. But really, there is no rush. The beauty of homeschooling is that we aren’t bound to a specific schedule. As a more experienced homeschool mom pointed out recently, “we’ve got 18 years…”

Binge reading

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In November, author Robin Jones Gunn was on a podcast I listen to called Cultivating the Lovely. She and the host discussed life as an author as well as some of the books she had written. The host talked about how she grew up reading the Christy Miller series and it taught her about how to be a Christian teenager. I was intrigued.

The library on post had the entire Christy Miller series, twelve books about Christy’s life in high school. The library also had Christy and Todd: The College Years available in ebook format. Fifteen books in, I needed to see how their lives continued. So I started a quest to find the last ten books. Four books in the Katie Weldon series, plus Christy and Todd: The Married Years and Christy and Todd: The Baby Years. It took me a few days, but finally I found them on BookMate. I started a free monthly trial which meant I had 30 days to read these books…It took me two weeks.

Clearly, I enjoyed the series or I would not have read 25 books in two and a half months. It’s a series that I look forward to introducing Clarissa to when she is a teenager. She can see read about what it might look like to have a group of Christian friends, go to college, get married, and have kids. And I won’t be worried about the content being raunchy.

Halfway through The College Years, I realized why I enjoyed the books so much.

Christy, the main character, reminds me of myself. She has blue-green eyes and brown hair. She is the oldest daughter of two children. She marries a blonde haired blue eyed boy who cherishes her and has great faith, like my husband Tim. She is also quite a planner compared to Todd’s very laid back nature that seems quite random, which is much like us. Christy has great friends to do life with (who also remind me of my friends that I miss back home). Her best friend Katie, even gets married and moves to Africa. I can so relate to living on a different continent than your best friend. Plus, all of the time she spends praying about what she is called to really was very fitting for me in this season of my life. travels and does mission work. Christy just seemed so real to me. I loved how she learned to trust God in the ups and downs of life. She also learned to be comfortable in her own skin about the time she turned 30.

I love watching a person’s story from beginning to end. I hope there are more books in the series eventually.

2018 Goals

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So in the fall, I realized that a lot of my friends sell something as a source of income. Oils, Beachbody, make-up, an etsy shop, whatever. Podcasters and bloggers have been talking about their word for the year and how they make money on their platform all the time. I, however, just stay home with my daugher, run my household, and blog when I feel like it.

Sometime in late November or early December, Pastor Al was teaching about purpose and conviction. I decided that I really wanted to be intentional about how I spent my time in 2018 and figure out what God really had for me to do this year. So I set it up with Tim that I would go spend some time at Starbucks one afternoon and plan my year. I brought my Bible, a calendar, some books, and a notebook. I was all set to think about how productive my year would be.

I wanted to spend some time in prayer and really hear from God, you know? So as I sat there and prayed and waited for Him to tell me what big things He wanted me to accomplish this year, this is what He said…

“Your priorities this year are spending time with ME, Tim, and Clarissa, and I also want you to focus on your health.”

Really, God? That’s what you want me to do this year?! Nothing big and fancy. Just my family and my health. Okay. I can do that.

I enjoyed my soy hot chocolate and quiet time. I thought about a few action steps for how I wanted to spend time with God and my family. The things I thought I could focus on in the health department. I brainstormed books that I already have on my Kindle or on my bookshelf that I have been meaning to read that fit in with those things.

I wrote a few things into my December and January calendars so that I could finish a Bible study I had already started and read a new book on my list. But it wasn’t anything major. Just a few things to do each week. And miraculously, I actually did them. Only having a few things on my to do list made it way easier to accomplish than having several goals to work towards.

I feel like I am already making more time for things that matter. The extra things that everyone else volunteers for or works for, aren’t a huge deal. I am just over here enjoying my mornings with God and making sure I have special times with Tim and Clarissa everyday. And I have already been to the Korean hospital to check off one of my health things for the year.

Tim and I also decided on a few financial goals to focus on this year that we are excited to work toward.

What are you going to focus on in 2018?

2017 Year in Review

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I feel like 2017 flew by. It was quite an eventful year for us with plenty of changes, adventures, and blessings.

In January, Tim was TDY in Hawaii for a week. The army paid for his plane ticket, hotel, and gave him per diem for food. Even though Hawaii was not on our original bucket list for while we live in Korea, we decided that Clarissa and I should join him anyway. The two of us had a wonderful vacation while he worked. I was able to catch up with two friends from home who were living there. Clarissa made new friends and either went to the pool or the beach each day of our trip.

After our trip, Clarissa decided that she finally wanted to wear panties and be potty trained. That changed my backpack contents significantly.

In February, Clarissa and I went home for the first time in two years. We got to catch up with family and friends in Virginia. I was also able to attend my favorite women’s conference while we were there. We also went to see Tim’s family in Pennsylvania where we both had our first sledding experience.

In April, we moved from Daegu to Pyeongtaek for Tim’s new job. Our lifestyle is very different in our new city. In Daegu, we never found a church home but Clarissa and I regularly attended PWOC and the library storytime. In Pyeongtaek, we have a church home but we don’t attend PWOC or storytime.

In June, we spent a week exploring Seoul. We decided that we should stick to spring and fall vacations as it was very hot during our vacation so we spent a lot of time indoors enjoying air conditioning.

Clarissa and I attended Vacation Bible School on post in July. It was so different just showing up and being a small group leader than being director of the whole thing. I enjoyed it so much more. Clarissa had fun as well and made a new friend. There was also a preschool program specifically for her that made it less overwhelming than being with all of the big kids.

We also experienced our first monsoon season this summer. It rained a lot most days, which was a blessing since Korea had been in a drought the past three years. Humidity was high as usual, but it didn’t seem horrible as long as the past two summers here.

By summertime, Clarissa and I had established a routine of going to the farmer’s market for produce. In Daegu, we mostly shopped at the commissary. But here, there is a farmer’s market within walking distance twice a week, so we go there often.

This fall, a friend started a playground playgroup at our apartment complex. So we spent a lot of time playing outside with friends. There are four playgrounds in our complex. Clarissa’s favorite has a trampoline. Her second favorite has plenty of sand.

We also started officially homeschooling this year. Clarissa and I are working through the God’s Little Explorers preschool curriculum together and really enjoying it.

In November, we went on vacation to Okinawa. The 85 degree days felt so hot after the 50 degree fall days in Korea. But we still enjoyed our week of exploration. Clarissa even got to play in the water at the beach three times. I got to mark dressing like a geisha girl and exploring a cave off my bucket list.

Holidays were also different for us this year. Clarissa and I completed Truth in the Tinsel as usual. But we had more traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas meals with our church family. We took the train into Seoul for some exploring on both Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Beef stew (edamame)

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Ingredients:
1 pound stir fry beef
1 12 ounce package frozen carrots
1 12 ounce package edamame
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp brown rice flour
1 tbsp beef Bouillon
2.5 cups water
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp gluten-free tamari sauce
1 1/2 tsp dill

Directions:
1. Brown beef in skillet. Transfer to soup pot but leave grease in skillet.
2. Put edamame in microwave for 4 minutes.
3. Saute carrots in skillet. Add cumin, paprika, and brown rice flour. Once carrots seem mostly cooked and have absorbed grease, add to big pot.
4. Add water, Bouillon, tomato paste, and tamari to big pot. Stir. Put on medium heat and cover.
5. Peel edamame and pour into big pot.
6. Add dill to pot and stir.
7. Change to low heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Made to Crave

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It seems like accountability groups have become popular over the past couple of years. Especially in the online world. I was in an out of a few for a while about diet and exercise. But I would eventually get to the point where I was only worried about numbers and not health. So I would stop for a while and then decide I needed a change and get back into it. I needed something different.

This fall, a friend started an online book club for Lysa Terkeurst’s book Made to Crave. I am really glad that I decided to join. I feel like I have a lot more freedom in the area of health and wellness, even though I haven’t really lost any weight. This book has really helped to shift the way that I think about food being fuel and the way I see my body.

In the book, Lysa talks about her struggles with food in a way that most women probably understand. If I crave something not good for me, I can use it as a prompt to pray. The idea is that you can see your food cravings as something that can bring you closer to the Lord instead of a curse.

There were a few Bible verses and phrases that she kept coming back to that really spoke to me:

  • “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial…” 1 Cor. 6:10
  • “This feels good now, but how will I feel about it in the morning?”
  • “The ultimate goal of this journey isn’t about making me a smaller size, but rather making me crave Jesus and His truth as the ultimate filler of my heart. I am a Jesus girl who can step on the scale and see the numbers as an indication of how much my body weighs and not as an indication of my worth.”

Reading this book in a small group was helpful in trying to keep to a certain schedule in the reading. But I think that you can learn a lot by doing the book on your own as well. There are personal reflections for each of the 19 chapters. Everyone will get something different out of the book because we each have different experiences.