Thursday, December 29, 2011

Meet Jonah!

Jonah is our newest blogger in the Karkow family.  Jonah loves to read and write and he has been wanting to share his stories on Pam's blog, so we've set him up with his own space.  With encouragement from you, our hope is that this will be a great platform for him to grow as a writer.  Blog away, our little man!!


From Jonah Says... (via

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Projects

I am amazed at the cool and AFFORDABLE projects I have discovered by reading blogs this year. And by sharing ideas with friends. I found this idea on A Pumpkin and a Princess, which I found while reading a link on Thirty Handmade Days that I stumbled upon while reading my favorite blog, The Pleated Poppy. Follow me? Anyway, check out these blogs for more great decorating ideas.
So, I borrowed the Give Thanks bunting idea from A Pumpkin and a Princess...
and we made the Thanksgiving Turkey years ago when we were heading home for Thanksgiving and I wanted a way for our family to record what we were thankful for. I got the idea from Parents magazine. Carson made the boy pilgrim at preschool, then instructed me on how to make a girl pilgrim. They are made from toilet paper rolls. The Mayflower namecard holders are also from this year's November Parents magazine. Carson actually helped make them. I even let him use the glue gun! He thought that was awesome.

And, here's a sneak peek at what's to come. Next post. :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

A New Tradition

I had a personal photographer on this day (Jonah loves to take pictures). After we got our Christmas tree, Carson told us he and Mommy needed to make the gingerbread men while Daddy and Jonah got the tree ready to be decorated. So, apparently this is our new tradition. I am not sure it went exactly that way last year, but we are all about traditions, so gingerbread cookies and tree decorating will go hand in hand from this year forward.

This idea was inspired by The Gingerbread Baby, by Jan Brett. It is one of my favorite books, and one I loved reading to my kids when I was teaching. Now I love reading it to my own kids! We found the recipe for the gingerbread cookies on Jan Brett's website. She even has interactive games and craft projects available there. TIP: Mix the batter for the cookies and let it chill overnight before rolling out the dough and cutting the cookies.
Carson loves cooking and baking with me. He had fun cutting the gingerbread men out, and we did a few snowmen and Christmas trees as well.While the cookies were baking--8 minutes, and no peeking--we read The Gingerbread Baby, by Jan Brett.

I love this picture. Carson is such a little guy...After the full 8 minutes, I had to hop up and take the cookies out, so Jonah stepped in and finished the book. Then we went on a hunt...I gave the boys clues and they had to find the animals the Gingerbread Baby encountered on his journey. Look very hard and you'll find the goat, in a place where a boat could _______. The boys worked together to find this guy in their bathtub.The pig was in the sandbox.The fox was where we recycle a box.The dog was where Mommy types her blog.And the excitement built up until Carson found the Gingerbread Baby himself.Then came the fun part...the decorating, and the tasting! Yum.


I have a new respect for people who blog EVERY DAY. They must not sleep. I plan to catch up over the next couple of weeks. Then maybe I'll make a New Year's resolution to be a better blogger. :)

First of all, we're back to Worldly Wednesday. We studied Japan last week. Our Little Passports info arrived and Sam and Sophia were traveling to Japan. Jonah enjoyed reading the letter from the kids and looking at the picture they included of a house in Japan. As for the meal, I cheated a little this week, and bought sushi and Japanese noodles from Trader Joe's. We actually had plans to eat dinner out with some friends, so we had the sushi as a snack. The boys were not wild about trying it, but they were troopers and dipped their snacks in soy sauce with their very own chopsticks. I used a trick I learned at our favorite sushi place (One U for you locals) and attached their chopsticks at the top with a rubber band. I put a piece of rolled up paper in between the sticks to allow a little room for the boys' to open the sticks.
You can see how Jonah felt about the sushi. But, the boys did enjoy using their chopsticks....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Playing With My Jonah

It stinks when my kids are sick. It seems like it has been one of those years where they have been sick often. I never want them to feel badly, but when they do, it reminds me of how much they still need me, even though they act all big and tough most of the time.

Monday Jonah felt rotten. He had a 104 degree fever, high for a seven-year old, and didn't feel like eating anything. He just wanted to lay on the couch. However, after three tv shows and a dose of Motrin, he was ready to play with his mommy. We played Nemo Go Fish. Total blast from the past. I remember the very first time we played Nemo Go Fish. In the kitchen of our old house in Raleigh, with Boompa and GG (my parents), Jersey GG (my grandma) and Jonah. He was so little, we had to let him lay his cards on the table in front of him. And since he had his cards laying out for all to see, we all laid our cards on the table. Interesting way to play Go Fish since we all knew what everyone else had, but Jonah loved it. We have played Nemo Go Fish countless times over the years, and still call the fish named "Bubbles," "Bubbly."

Then we went on to Toy Story Yahtzee, and finally Cars Uno. In the middle of Cars Uno, Jonah decided he was too tired and needed a rest so we took a break. It was so much fun to have uninterrupted time with Jonah.

A few hours later, he was up for playing again so we put a puzzle together--the way we have done puzzles since Jonah was very young. He sits at one end of the hall and I sit at the other end. I sort the pieces by "edge" and "middle" pieces, then start by "sending" him the edge pieces from the top. I send the top edge pieces, followed by the sides, and the bottom. We end with the middle pieces. I send two or three at a time. When I looked down the hall at my big Jonah concentrating so hard on putting a puzzle together he has completed at least a hundred times, I can still see his little face from years ago. Especially with his tongue sticking out. :)

Remembering the Funnies

"Were those some of the sweetest words you have ever heard?" I asked Justin one Sunday while we were all cuddling on the couch, watching the Panther's game. Jonah had just said, "Hold on, Daddy, I want to watch this punt return." I think Justin has been waiting all his life to hear those words.

There are some things my kids say that I wish I could bottle and keep forever. "Carson, I haven't been able to play with Mommy all day," Jonah said one day after school when he and I were hitting the tennis ball back and forth on the driveway. Just when I thought Jonah actually didn't mind being away from me all day at school, he melted my heart with a simple sentence.

My dad is one of the best storytellers ever. And I think he remembers about 95% of the things my sister and I said as kids. He remembers the funny names we gave to things: "ponge" for sponge, "cansackle" for sandcastle, "campsiben" for um....I can't even remember the real name for that one. He remembers that I would call and call for him in the middle of the night, afraid to get up on my own, but he'd often open his eyes to find Emily staring at him, having climbed right out of her bed. He remembers the way my mom, sister, and I used to get the giggles at dinner and laugh so hard we cried at the silliest things. Actually, we still do that. He REMEMBERS because these seemingly "little" things in life make up the big things. They are the stitches that hold our relationships together, keep us strong in tough times, and encourage us to make new memories. And he remembers because he retells the stories over and over, and we never get tired of hearing them.

The first person I want to tell when Jonah or Carson say something or do something funny is Justin...and then my mom and dad and sister. I wish I could say I have one great system where I keep all the cute things they say so I'll never forget them. My dad has always kept journals, and now he has the story of his life, typed neatly and saved on his computer. Somehow I missed out on inheriting his organizational skills. But I do have sticky notes all over my house and a "memo" on my blackberry called funnies where I record the cute things my boys say. I also believe the most effective way to remember the cuteness is to talk about it. So, as the boys get older, I have started to tell them stories. Just the other day Justin was reminding Jonah of the Christmas when all he wanted was green cake so we made a birthday cake for Jesus, and it was green. Carson has decided he is going to write a book one day about a boy who likes dressing up all the time because he remembers us telling him there was a time when we had to limit his changing clothes to three times a day (and we still have days like those).

And sometimes, I just want to remember things the boys say because they make me feel good. When Jonah chose my chocolate chip cookies over Joe Joe's (Trader Joe's) cream filled ones and said, "Mommy, you make the best cookies," it made my day. Such simple things...but so important in how we view life and all it has to offer. Makes me want to listen more and talk less, ask more questions, and make more time for family conversations so I can hear more precious words and stories from my boys who are growing up way too fast.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Italy and Thoughtful Gifts

I am so lucky to have friends and family who put a lot of thought into the boys' birthday gifts...and support our Worldly Wednesday adventures!

I was playing around on the internet, looking for a kids' cookbook when I came across a REALLY cool website.

They have kits for the countries we are studying. I put it on my wish list for the boys' birthdays, and we got a kit from Aunt Lauren and Uncle Smoak. It is the Italian Cookbook kit. Immediately, Carson became a chef, mixing "fresh garlic tomatoes" (his words) in his construction hat. We have plenty of bowls, but you know, whatever works. The mustaches are also a gift from Lauren and Smoak. The website offers placemats for the countries with a map, and utensils and ingredients translated into the country's native language.

So, since we had the Italy cookbook, we decided to study Italy this week. I let the boys look through the book and choose a recipe they wanted to make. I have learned since we started Worldly Wednesday that I need to begin preparing for our Wednesday night meal early in the week. So, Carson and I go to the library to get books about the country we are studying Monday, and I try to make part of the meal on Tuesday. Carson and I made meatballs on Tuesday. I even let Carson help me shape the meatballs, which required me to totally get over my phobia of my kids touching raw meat. He LOVED it. It was like playing with playdough. Wednesday afternoon we threw all the ingredients for the sauce together in a big pot and boiled some spaghetti. We reheated the meatballs and added them to our plates. The meatballs were a bit garlicy, but luckily my boys like garlic. Carson said his was spicy and then proceeded to eat every last bite of his meatball. While we ate we looked at pictures of the interesting buildings in Italy from the book Spotlight on Italy, by Bobbie Kalman. The boys watched a movie about Leonardo Di Vince after dinner. It was entertaining and educational.

Another thoughtful gift we received for the boys birthdays was from my friend Jenna Hall. She hooked us up with a World Traveler Package from Little Passports. We received a package in the mail including a World Traveler Suitcase, letter from Sam and Sophia, the world travelers who will be sending us letters from other countries, and access to a website with all kinds of games to develop map skills. Carson loved the suitcase the most and carried it everywhere for about a week. He was also very excited about the website. One morning he insisted we visit the website and complete the interactive map puzzle before he even ate breakfast.

I am so thankful for the ways my friends and family have supported our journeys around the world! Our next stop will be Italy again. We are going to stay with Italy a little longer because we have so many materials. Luckily we have some friends from Raleigh who happen to be in Italy, so I can show them real, live pictures!!! Thanks for all the posting, Karin and Sass! :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, Carson!

It's that time again! Carson's birthday comes a week after Jonah's. I finished his book on time too. Woo, hoo! So happy to have them finished and to have enjoyed looking through them so many times already. Aunt Lauren and Uncle Smoak were here today and Carson sat on the bench with them and read through his whole book. It was such a sweet moment I couldn't even break away to grab my camera. Sometimes moments are better enjoyed through the naked eye, and not through the lens of a camera.

One of the best things about the ABC book is seeing the phase or stage of life my kids are in. For Carson, that is dressing up. This year every other page has Carson dressed up as something.
H is for Harry Potter
K is for Knight (Sir Carson) and Kaleidoscope (Chef Carson)O is for Outfits--my favorite outfit is one we finally found at Karousel Kids (consignment shop in downtown Matthews) after driving all over the Charlotte area. Carson insisted on having a suit so we could get married. In fact, earlier in the book, I is for I Do, for the day Carson and I got married. I actually wore a dress. I think I will cry on the day Carson tells me he is going to marry someone else.

This year is marked by the characters Carson has been, and also by the creativity that has gone into planning each of his outfits. Justin's favorites are surely the days when he insisted on dressing EXACTLY like his dad. I am kicking myself for not taking a picture the day the two of them came downstairs wearing Chicago Bears shirts, jeans with a hole in the left knee, and flip flops. I did manage to capture this one, though, on the day Carson decided he was going to work, just like his dad."P is for Prodigy" in both boys' books this year. I made a note in my journal on the day we heard Pastor Furtick preach on "The Prodigy in Me." I knew I wanted my boys to know that "there's a prodigy in everyone" (from sermon). The dictionary definition of prodigy is: a highly talented child or youth." I want Carson to know he is a "wonder" and a "sensation" (synonyms of prodigy) and he can be used by God in many ways. In his sermon series, Pastor Furtick also says, "The prodigy in me has to be devoted to God's purpose," and "In scripture, God chooses people to do His work, He doesn't need them, but He chooses them." Carson is an entertainer, and I know that sometimes his "entertaining" can get him into trouble. But I also know that he can use his love of entertaining in a positive way and that his wit and extroverted personality attract people's attention. I am excited to see how God will use Carson.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Scrapbook that is "Do-able"

Happy Birthday to my Sweet Jonah!

I did it! I finished Jonah's ABC book before his birthday! I have been doing ABC books for Jonah and Carson since they had their first birthdays. I thought I would stop at age five, but Jonah begged me to keep making them, and here we are, Jonah is SEVEN (?--where did the time go) and I am still making them, and having a lot of fun doing it.

I actually borrowed the idea for the ABC book from my good friend, Jenny Workowski. She made them for her kids and I really liked the idea. It is so do-able. I get overwhelmed trying to keep up with a scrapbook for my kids that includes all the goings on of day to day life--Christmas, birthdays, baseball games, first days of school. It seems like an endless process. But ABC books are simple, and they have a deadline. One or two (or sometimes even three) pictures per letter, and it has to be finished by their birthday. Done. Here's a sneak peek...

It's amazing how many pictures and memories I am able to squeeze into a 26 page book. This year I wrote a lot more on each page, making sure to document people and events we always want to remember.

I make sure to include grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, and now cousins (yay!!!) so the boys are reminded of the family members we do not get to see as often. B is always for "Boompa" and "Boompa Drew" and now G will always be for "Griffin," as well as "GG" and "Grandma Linda."

This year, I actually considered making the boys' books digitally. But there is something about cropping the pictures of our boys' by hand, getting to choose how to display each picture (oval, square, triangle) and seeing my own handwriting under their sweet little faces that made me want to continue making them by hand. Plus, it is so much less expensive. I buy my materials at AC Moore, and I always use a coupon.

I usually struggle with the end of the alphabet. X stumps me, and so does Y. This year X is for "eXactly right," and Y is for "yellow sunset." Z is traditionally a sleeping picture, and as the boys have begun enjoying sleeping in the same bed on the weekends, I have found lots of opportunities to take pictures. This year, I was reminded of several events that did not find their way into Jonah's ABC book. My dad suggested an "addendum" to his book. So I am considering this tip. Just need to figure out how the addendum would work...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Game/Review Night (and Yummy Quesadillas)

Game/Review Night

Last Wednesday, we decided to review all the countries we have studied so far: Australia, Ghana, England, Mexico, and China. We also made Halloween-shaped quesadillas, a recipe I borrowed from "Handstand Kids" ( with a few variations. I guess you could say our meal was from the United States. :)

Carson helped me cut pumpkins, ghosts, and cats out of tortillas. Then I prepared the filling. Did you know you can "blend" chicken? I steamed some squash, then tossed it into the blender. I added some grilled chicken, cut into very small pieces, and blended it all together. Then I spread some of the mixture on a piece of tortilla, added some cheese and cooked it in a frying pan. It turned out very yummy, and both boys ate well.

After dinner, we plated games from some of the countries we have studied. We played "Bounce Eye" from Australia, a marble game; "Ampe" from Ghana (like Odds and Evens in the US); and "Challenge" from China --by far the game requiring the most brainpower--go figure.

Then it was time for Bingo. Before the game, we reviewed each country and made sure we remembered where they are on the map. We used candy corn as markers and when we were finished, the boys ate the candy. I was very proud of them for remembering so much about each country. The game ended in a tie, so everyone was happy.

Next week, we are off to Brazil!