Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

  • An Early Valentines Project!

    Date: 2015.01.25 | Category: crafts, parenting | Response: 0

    Ah Pinterest… I have a love hate relationship with it.  There are so many great ideas, but sometimes these ideas get out of hand.  Last year when JT’s kindergarten teacher told us to send in some kind of decorated bag or box to collect Valentines, I handed JT a paper lunch bag and told him to decorate it however he wanted.  Apparently I was the only one who didn’t get the memo that Valentines boxes are A THING now!  So many kids came in with adorable boxes that clearly took a lot of time and energy to create.  This year I started thinking ahead and I saw these darling little boxes made out of tissue boxes on Pinterest.

    Super cute and super easy, right?  So of course, I open up my Pinterest page to show JT and what does he see?  This awesome Ninjago box!  And that was that.

    I mean, I can’t blame him, it is super awesome… but it looked like WAY more work than I was planning on.  Anyway, he was really excited about it, so I reluctantly agreed.  Of course, I don’t happen to have a roll of black paper, but I do have a roll of red wrapping paper… and isn’t a red ninja more Valentine-like anyway?  Thankfully, he agreed and was happy with that plan.  I followed the tutorial on Just a Girl and Her Blog and it really wasn’t so bad.  I found an image of Kai (the red ninja) on google images that JT liked and downloaded it and blew it up to the size I wanted to trace for our box.

    I did the cutting and the outlining and JT did all the coloring with a gold sharpie.  He also added some extra flames, once he grew confident in his coloring!  He drew and cut out the arms freehand, I did the face and mask freehand.  JT also asked for a black belt, and he drew a design on it, once I cut out the strip of paper.

    While this project did take a couple of hours, it was really easy and he and I had a lot of fun planning and implementing our design.  We are both thrilled with how well it came out too!

    Now lets just cross our fingers that this box actually survives the two weeks until Valentines Day!

  • It’s almost time for our trip to Juarez!

    Date: 2014.10.25 | Category: faith, parenting | Response: 0

    It’s almost time!  Our family will be heading down to Juarez again this year to serve at the Arbol de Vida orphanage with five other families during the week leading up to Thanksgiving.  Our plan is to start the drive Friday, November 21 and stay at the orphanage until Wednesday, Nov 26.  We hope to arrive home in time for Thanksgiving dinner with friends.

    Our entire family looks forward to returning to Arbol de Vida to continue building relationships with the students and staff who live there year round.  We are looking forward to seeing our friends there, and our kids are excited about all sleeping in a dorm room with bunk beds again!   We are expanding our focus this year and we also have several projects planned to help a local church in the area.

    As always, we appreciate your prayers for our trip.  We ask that you would pray for safe travel, smart planning, safety as we cross the border, wisdom as we spend time with the students at the orphanage, an abundance of energy, and mostly, that our hearts will be receptive to what God wants us to do every step of the way.

    This year we are attempting to raise funds a little differently than in the past.  Cherry Hills Christian Middle School has offered to help support us on our trip this year, at this point they are planning a few “break dress code” days and other fundraisers to involve the middle school students in our trip.  We are also putting together a concert at the Rock House at South Fellowship Church to raise additional support.  Finally, we are counting on the support of our friends and family to help us make this trip possible.  We need to raise funds to pay for fuel, two nights in a motel, meals on the road, craft supplies, goodies and toiletries for the kids there, a Thanksgiving dinner, building/repair materials, and enough money to pay the orphanage director to cover the costs of our stay and meals.  Any extra funds always go straight to the director for other needs their students have.

    Thank you for supporting us through your prayers, financial contributions, and donations of material goods.  We appreciate you and couldn’t do it without you!

    We can accept checks made out to us personally, or you can contribute through this website…

    If you’d like more information on Arbol de Vida/Tree of Life orphanage, please check our their facebook page and website-

    With thanks,

    Chris, Melody, JT, Katie, and James Benschoter

  • Getting ready for Easter

    Date: 2014.04.14 | Category: crafts, parenting | Response: 1

    The kids are getting old enough that they REALLY enjoy doing messy crafts and seasonal crafts and crafty crafts.  And I’m always dragging my feet thinking… I hate messy crafts!  Easter isn’t about eggs and chicks and bunnies!  The prep work… the clean up… I’m too lazy!

    Anyway, this weekend we did two (yes!  TWO!) Spring/Easter crafts and it actually wasn’t even awful.

    The two older kids and I dyed Easter eggs- they particularly enjoyed the trick where we drew on the egg with a crayon first and then the picture was revealed when we dyed it.  We made an egg with each kid’s name, I drew a few bunny faces, Katie made a happy face and some polka dots.  They turned out cute!  Once the eggs were dry, all three kids enjoyed adding stickers to the eggs.

    All three kids also really enjoyed making little pretzel chicks.  We had some orange colored “chocolate chips” leftover, so we melted those and then I poured them over pretzel twists.  We added orange and black sprinkles to make beaks and eyes and legs.  This little endeavor turned out messier than I expected, and the chocolate hardened too fast to decorate them all, and James kept picking his up before they were hard and dripping orange goo everywhere, and blah blah blah.  One or two turned out cute and the kids were happy and they were pretty yummy, so I guess in the end it was a success.

    PS- happy April 14 from sunny Colorado!

  • Juarez

    Date: 2012.10.29 | Category: faith, marriage, parenting | Response: 1

    When Chris and I got married we set some short and long term goals for our family.  One of our short term goals was to serve on a mission trip together before we had children.  Sadly, we didn’t meet that goal- in the busyness of life it is something that got pushed off time and again.  As JT and Kate are growing old enough to understand and follow our example as Christ followers, it has become more and more important to us to live out the gospel intentionally with and before our children.  Our desire is to love our neighbors both near and far and to serve widows and orphans the best that we can as a family.

    A few months ago Chris was chatting with a coworker about Arbol de Vida, the orphanage that he works with in Juarez, Mexico and that our church happens to support.  During the conversation it was mentioned that last year the children had oatmeal for dinner on Thanksgiving.  It’s like a lightbulb went on and we saw a need that we could meet.  Why not provide Thanksgiving to these children?  Why not bring our family down and serve it to them ourselves?

    Chris and I have decided to answer God’s call to take our family on an adventure in serving Him over the week of Thanksgiving this year.  On November 17 we will be joining the Schrimp family, the Babb family, and possibly two more families in driving 11 hours south to Juarez, Mexico to serve the children and staff at Arbol de Vida.  We will be returning on Thanksgiving day, hopefully in time to celebrate with family at home.

    We are excited for an opportunity to expose JT, Kate, and James to another culture, to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others, to love some children who can use extra love, to help meet practical needs at the orphanage, to show our children how God gives to us so that we can give to others, and to provide a turkey dinner with all the trimmings to the residents of Arbol de Vida.  (Thank goodness I cooked Thanksgiving by myself for the first time last year!  God knew what was in store for us this year!)

    We are nervous about spending 22 hours+ with our three (very young!) kids in the car (especially since James is still breast feeding every 3 hours!), border crossings and travel in another country, safety on the road and in a town known for violence and drug wars, spending 4 nights in a dormitory (no naps = cranky kids!), exposing our children to the older children of the orphanage (most of the orphans are middle and high school aged), and living and sharing the gospel when we have so much to learn ourselves.

    How can you support us on this adventure?  First and foremost we need your prayers.  We know that all things are possible with God and that prayer is a powerful agent of change.  We will face many challenges during this adventure and will need an extra measure of wisdom and grace and patience as we face the unknown.  Second, we would appreciate your financial support.  We will require gas for the round trip drive, a hotel stay for one night, and groceries, toiletries, and goodies (all of which must be purchased in Mexico) for the children of Arbol de Vida.  We would like to lavish the kids and staff with love and practical goods while we are there.  If you feel called to support us, whether through prayer or gifts of money please let us know before November 10.

    For more information about Arbol de Vida or to partner in supporting them directly, please check their facebook page at or their website at

    Thank you for your love and support-

    Chris, Melody, JT, Kate, and James Benschoter
    2285 Wynterbrook Dr.
    Highlands Ranch, CO  80126

  • What Life is Like With 3

    Date: 2012.05.01 | Category: homemaking, just blabbing, parenting | Response: 1

    Well, I admit it. Having three kids is kicking me in the butt. We’re actually doing fine; we eat 3 meals a day plus a snack, we change out of our pajamas (most days!), we’ve made it to church every week since James was 3 weeks old. You know, we’re fine. But I am exhausted! Chris has track season right now, so 4 days a week he doesn’t get home til 5:30 or 6 which is when I try to serve dinner so I’m doing all that without help- and with the addition of my 2 nephews on Mondays and Thursdays. Plus he’s gone all day Saturdays at track meets. James is doing great at giving me long stretches of sleep at night, but JT has started having nightmares and calling for us in the middle of the night several times a week. Gone are the days of sleeping in until 8 or 9, at least one or two of the kids is up by 7 am most days. Which makes it awfully hard for me to take a shower, so I’m lucky to get one every other day lately. Odds of me getting more than half an hour of all three (or five) kids resting at the same time in the afternoon are pretty low. Maybe twice a week I get a decent break- so then it’s always a big decision… do I sleep? shower? start dinner? catch up on email? pay bills? blog?

    Anyway, all that to say- Hi. I’ve missed you. Here’s what’s been happening around here lately…

    JT has started showing a lot more independence. He’s dressing himself most days, using the potty on his own, helping with snack and meals, doing little things to help with James and Kate. He is a great big brother!

    The other day we got the kids loaded up in the car to head to church. While clicking JT in to his seat we noticed he was wearing socks, but no shoes. So I ran in the house and grabbed a pair. Once we got to church I was helping him put them on and I discovered that he was wearing a pair of jeans under his khaki pants! This week he wore his pajama bottoms under his pants. Silly silly boy.

    JT watched me using the toilet the other day and asked “Mama, is that tricky how you go pee pee without a penis?”

    We had an exercise bike in our foyer and JT pushed it across the room. I asked him how he did it and he said “Well, I was doing really hard work!”

    JT climbed up so his feet were higher than my head at the playground!

    JT broke out in some wicked hives in the middle of the night all over his legs. He started calling them his “bubblygerks”.

    Kate gets super possessive of James. When she’s holding or hugging him she doesn’t want any help and heaven forbid someone else wants a turn!

    Kate was watching me breastfeed and noticed the blue veins on my breasts. She became very concerned and said “Blue! Blue! No drawing!” She thought someone had drawn on me.

    (please note that two of us are still in our jammies!)

    Kate loves to pick out her own hair bows! She has also taken to carrying a pair of footie pajamas around as her lovey. Lucky for us she’s not picky about which pair!

    Kate is definitely two- she’s got a real willful streak and she’s likely to melt down over any small injustice. But she’s still super sweet, so kind, really funny and loves to cuddle in with me every chance she gets.

    The good news is we’re all happy. The kids love James and don’t seem resentful of the time he takes at all.

    We loved having Grandma and Grandpa here for three weeks in March and then our friend Daniel here during spring break. That added some nice variety and was a lot of help!

    (please note the kids are actually fighting over the baby- and they’re in their jammies!)

    Both big kids are go go go all the time. They are super adventuresome and always climbing and jumping and creating and getting into stuff!

    We’ve been having lots of fun playing hide and seek, coloring and using stickers, playing outside (Oh thank you God for the warm spring weather we’ve had!), building with blocks, and reading books.

    It’s nearly impossible to get the kids to sit still long enough to take a picture.

    This is the best Easter picture we got of the family- do you see how crazed we look?!?

    The sweet boy who tipped us over the edge!

    James just turned two months old, he weighs 13 pounds 11 ounces which is 87%. He’s a great eater!

    He’s smiling and noticing his toys and the people around him now. He’s a great sleeper and he’s pretty easy going.

    So you see why I haven’t been on the computer much lately. Most of my Facebook and email time is on the phone while I’m breastfeeding. The blog has just had to go for now. Thanks for understanding, I’ll be around as often as I can!

  • Reworking naptime

    Date: 2012.04.20 | Category: parenting | Response: 1

    Naptime has become a bit of a challenge at our house. Kate still desperately needs a good two hours, and mama still desperately needs a good two hours, but James and JT aren’t always willing to cooperate. I’m working on training James (and coming along nicely, I think), but JT is a bit more challenging. Most days he doesn’t nap, which means he’s bored and looking to get into trouble. Now I don’t mind him demolishing his own room, but he also gets into the bathroom. We kept discovering that he had filled a garbage can with water to float his toys in, or used all of the little flossers for some game, or squirted out half of the soap onto the floor. So he lost his bathroom privileges. Which means he needs to ask us to supervise him in the bathroom during naps. And he quickly realized that it is much more fun to call for mommy to take him to go potty 8 times than to play by himself. Aside from the fact that he’s keeping me from napping or showering or interrupting my quiet time, he’s hollering right outside Kate’s door and often wakes her up before she’s ready to wake up cheerful. And the last thing I want is a short nap AND a grumpy girl for the rest of the day.

    Now I know some of you are thinking that its too much to ask a three year old to rest quietly for two hours, but I don’t buy it. For one, I think are kids are capable of much more than we regularly expect from them. Two, he can and has done it in the past. In fact he was doing it daily back when he was still in a diaper- it was the whole bathroom thing that did him in. Three, while some moms may not need as much down time as I do, I find that if I don’t have a few hours to myself I go a little crazy. It is much easier to parent when I am recharged. Four, when else am I going to sneak some chocolate into my diet? Those kids can hear a candy wrapper crinkle or the sound of a handful of m&ms several rooms away!

    Yesterday was the final straw. JT was standing in the bathroom as I was putting Kate down for nap and I asked if he needed to go potty. He said no. So I closed the bathroom door and the baby gate and walked downstairs to feed James. JT immediately started hollering that he had to go potty. I told him that he should have gone when he had the chance and proceeded to feed James. JT spent the next 15 minutes yelling with increasing panic that he had to go poop and wasn’t going to make it and I needed to hurry. I finally finished on the first side with James and went up to let JT in the bathroom. As he was going in he told me that I could go back to feeding James and that he didn’t need any help. So I went ahead and started to feed James on the other side only for JT to start hollering that he needed help wiping. Are you kidding me? Ri-dic-u-lous. I was ready to kill him.

    Anyway, I decided that I needed to come up with an incentive plan for a better nap time. A behavior chart or something. EVERY DAY I have to listen to him and deal with him waking up the other kids and needing to use the restroom every 5 minutes and I have had it.

    Here’s what I came up with-
    He starts nap with the potential to earn 20 cents. The first two times I have to interact with him he loses a dime each time. When he’s out of money he starts getting punished each time I need to deal with him. As soon as he earns a dollar we make a trip to the dollar store for a prize. If he can earn his dollar in just 5 days he gets the option to spend it on a treat at McDonald’s where he can play on the play structure.

    Today is day one. He lost both dimes in the last half hour which resulted in a tantrum. Maybe tomorrow. I have high hopes.

  • James Daniel is here!

    Date: 2012.03.01 | Category: parenting | Response: 1

    James made his appearance on Feb 27, 2012 at 6:43 pm.  He was 8 pounds 5.3 ounces and 20 inches long with a 14 inch head circumference.  James has proven to be a champion eater.  Unfortunately, he prefers to stay up eating all night long rather than sleeping.  Mama is working on that!

    James was due on the 24th, and I was starting to think that he was never going to arrive, when I suddenly developed blurred vision and difficulty speaking and thinking.  Everyone sprung into action and in less than hour  we had childcare for all the kids (thank you LaLa and Kristin!) and I was at the hospital getting checked out.  By that time most of my symptoms had subsided and my blood pressure was only slightly elevated.  The very kind labor and delivery doctor said that she suspected I was in the earliest stages of labor (I was dilated to 4cm and having strong but irregular contractions while on the monitors) and offered to save me a trip back that night or the next day and to induce labor.  We agreed and they started the Pitocin.  About 2 hours later they broke my water and an hour after that James was here!  It was a VERY quick delivery- I went from 8cm dilated to having a baby in less than 15 minutes!  I have new respect for women who forgo the epidural- even with mine this one hurt!  Everything was very fast and very intense there at the end.  James came out in great shape and was strong and healthy from the get go.

    JT and Kate adore their new brother and are constantly touching, kissing, tickling and holding him.  It’s one big love fest around here!  We are all settling in nicely and enjoying our new family of 5.  JT keeps saying he thinks that he should have 2 little brothers.  I told him that we’ll have to wait and see- let’s just enjoy the one we already have!

  • Random calendar idea

    Date: 2012.02.24 | Category: parenting | Response: 0

    Somewhere on the world wide web I saw this simple idea for learning the calendar and practicing numbers and writing with preschoolers.  JT and I have been doing it since the beginning of the year and he LOVES it- he looks forward to it every night.  We hung a calendar in his bedroom and every night before bed he writes the day’s date and then makes a big X on the square for the day.

    We also write in something that happened that day (preschool or snow or played with friends) and talk about the things that are coming up in the next few days and weeks.  It’s a simple way to encourage him to practice writing his numbers and to start reinforcing the days of the week and grasping the concept of the calendar and time.

    Try it with your preschooler!

  • She’s movin’ on up!

    Date: 2012.01.04 | Category: homemaking, parenting | Response: 0

    Otherwise titled “How I Spent my Christmas Vacation” or “The Yellow Room Gets a Makeover”.

    Since Baby #3 is coming sometime in the next two months we needed to get cracking on cleaning out Kate’s new room so we could move her out of the nursery.  Unfortunately, the yellow room was not only serving as a guest room, craft room and wrapping room, but it had also become the dumping ground for things we didn’t know what to do with.  Papers from the closing of my condo in 2001?  Yup.  Yearbooks?  Yup.  Old financial records?  Yup.  3 boxes labeled “Chris junk”?  Yup.  14 years of bible studies?  Yup.  I vowed that I was not going to lug all those boxes down to the basement until they had been purged and sorted and organized.

    Here’s how the room looked this Spring…

    Totally out of control.  So embarrassing, really.  Not particularly inviting for guests or a relaxing place for crafting.  We made a little bit of progress over the summer, but things kind of stalled when the school year started.  So, Chris and I spent 3 or 4 evenings after Christmas sorting paperwork and hauling things from the second floor down to the basement and from the basement up to the second floor.  The desk and file cabinet had to go down to make room for a dresser (the one I painted months ago- I am so glad I did that before I got big pregnant!) and chair (an extra we had in the basement).  Thank you Matt and Robb for helping us haul the furniture- it was a bit much for this pregnant lady!

    Here’s Chris about halfway through the great purge of 2011.

    Don’t be fooled- that’s totally a fake smile.  This was not a fun task!

    But look how cute Kate’s big girl room turned out!

    I LOVE the letters that Auntie Kristin made for Kate- they double as hair bow storage and I think they’re so fun!

    We ended up adding black out curtains OVER our black out blinds because this room is much brighter than Kate’s old room and she was having a hard time napping in here.  We’re big fans of sleep at our house, so we fixed that problem quick!

    We debated about setting up our second crib in here for Kate, but decided to give the bed a try- so far so good!  Bedtime has been easy, naps are a little harder, but we still have the pack n play as a back up in case we need it.  I’m still looking for a headboard for her new bed, hopefully something will come up on craigslist soon!

    Doesn’t she look tiny in her full size bed?  Sweet girl.

    We decided against decorating her room with any kind of a theme- in a few years when we have an idea of what Kate likes and wants we may change things around for her, but for now the existing yellow floral bedding and some of the decor from her old room work just fine.  She is thrilled and loves running between the nursery and her new room and saying “hi bed”, “hi Katie’s room”, “hi chair”.  It’s so cute.

    I’m calling this project a success!  Now to put the nursery back together and to tackle the mess in the basement…

  • Rock Star Jeans

    Date: 2012.01.02 | Category: crafts, parenting, saving money | Response: 1

    While wasting time online several months ago, I stumbled upon this idea for adding a guitar patch to holey jeans.  I thought it was pure genius, and perfect for my 3 year old who is obsessed with all things music.  I pinned the page on Pinterest and then when I came across two pair of jeans with holes in the knees in his laundry I knew it was time.  I am not artistic AT ALL and I am so pleased with how these came out!  I used her guitar and amp as inspiration for the first pair, then I decided to go crazy and come up with my own pattern to make drums on the second pair.  I searched google images for drum sketches, but really ended up coming up with my own design on paper which I then used to freehand the actual patches.

    JT opened up the box with these on Christmas morning and he was so thrilled!  Of course I couldn’t get him to stand still for a picture for anything- he was literally jumping around with them.  I did get a picture of him wearing the drum pants the next day.  Please note the glow drum sticks in his hands and the fake smile!

    Here are some close ups of the patches-

    Sadly, the ironed on edges have already started to come up after only 1 wash, so I’m going to have to stitch all of the edges down to keep them on tight.  I was hoping to avoid that since I can’t fit those little legs over the arm of my sewing machine and will have to do it by hand.  Ah, the price we pay to keep our kids happy.  And looking like a rock star.

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