Category Archives: Holiday Inn

Christmas Decorations

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When pulling out my Christmas decorations to put out this year, I tried to look up on the blog how I’d arranged mantels and stuff last year, but I only found pics from a few years ago…since I had never posted the photos I took last year…so now I’m posting photos from this year and last year (which include a move between the two, so same stuff in a new space). My favorite addition from the past two years is the big magnolia clips with glittery centers…that came from Dollar Tree!)

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I’m realizing now that I forgot the way I set up the little birds in nests in the middle of the Christmas mantel…

    

   

Pen Elaine’s most favorite book…this week

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You may be familiar with the Pinkalicious series by Victora Kann, but our favorite so far is this instalment called Silverlicious! This book has a subtle message about being kind and appreciative, or “sweet.” The catch phrase in this book is “Always be as sweet as your sweet tooth,” which I think is adorable. I love it! This is a funny, fast-paced tale about what happens after the little girl loses a tooth, which turns out to be her “sweet tooth.” So, the book provides opportunity to explain a funny idiom and celebrate the loss of a tooth! The illustrations are over the top with cute and festive details, full of whimsy and charm, as is the case with all the Pinkalicious books that I’ve seen. We enjoyed reading this over and over, all three of us (ages 32, 4, and 1.5)…up until we had to return it to the library. This is a good story for talking about character-building, imaginary characters, losing a tooth, and even brother-sister relationships. We highly recommend Silverlicious!

DIY clothespin gifts 

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This is overly simple, but Pen Elaine painted a bunch of clothespins that we used for Mother’s Day gifts this year. I was thinking they would make great teacher gifts, as well. I use clothespins all the time and love using the ones that my sister painted for me several years back. The ones that are simply painted, without anything glue or stuck on, really hold up the best and are useful for all purposes, so even though this may seem like too easy of a gift, they could always be paired up with a bag of chips and salsa or something like that!

The way we tackled these was one side at a time, clipped around the edge of a paper plate that held the paint choices in the middle. After completing one side of all the clothespins, they were left to dry by being clipped onto a second paper plate. Once one side was dry, we brought them back to the “paint plate” and clipped them with the unpainted side facing up. Ta-Da!

I forgot to take a pic of our finished product before they were gifted…but they ended up with swirly mixed paint finishes, as is currently the favorite painting technique of Pen Elaine 😉

  

Love never Fails…and the rest of the story

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Is that not the sweetest capture of a whole-hearted, pint-sized hug? My niece, Bluebonnet, even has a little picked flower in her hand while she’s sharing a big goodbye hug with Pen Elaine. Photo cred to my sister, who has the photographer’s eye of an artist.

When I showed my Honey the photo, however, he told me the rest of the story – how the two besties had actually been fussing, with one not wanting to give hugs, too busy doing her own thing, and the other one getting irritated, etc. Eventually, they both came around in the same moment, and the magic happened.

I like this second photo of the two moments before the joint hug occurred…

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The funny thing to me, is that kids are totally used to this type of behavior. The little boy at the party who has a complete meltdown when it’s time to go can definitely turn out to be Pen Elaine’s secret crush when I later ask her about playing with her friends. The moment after Pen Elaine and her cousin Bluebonnet have fist-a-cuffs, they are whining not to have to leave each other and settle into some sweet pretend play with dolls that can last for hours. They just accept the good, the bad, and the ugly love each other just the same.

When I accidentally bumped poor Pen Elaine into a wall as a baby, I was reminded how we all struggle though this juggling act of loving each other well. I don’t have a story about bonking Snuggly Man, but I did dress him up as “Blue Boy” for his first Halloween 🙂

IMG_0583.JPGYou don’t have to be around kids very long to realize that we are born without knowing how to love other people well – between the fighting and not wanting to share and the jealousy – but they are also examples of love for family that is pure and simple. Instead of complicating their love with grudges and wanting to get even or make their point known, they love until they hate and then they forgive and go right back to unashamedly loving and enjoying. Sometimes, I inexplicably hold back my love, maybe after I feel I’ve been wronged or I’m punishing a wrong behavior or I’m just in a funk, but I don’t think kids typically or naturally engage in that type of conditional love. God is refining me in my motherhood, to remember that our love always fails but God’s love never fails. His love is wise and unconditional.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NASB

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 NASB

Here are the sweet cousins pushing each other on the swings. I am reminded to lay down my life to the Lord as a love offering to Him, poured out by way of loving my kids and my husband without agenda or pride, just as I’m asking my daughter to do for her friends and family.

We are working on memorizing James 1:16-22 right now, as a reminder that God gives us good things…and as a reminder that only God can change hearts, not our anger or actions that come out of anger.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.d 18Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Hearing and Doing the Word

19Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves

James 3:17 New International Version

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Personalized “grandma” gifts

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So, we used these as Christmas gifts, but here’s some ideas for Mother’s Day or grandparents day, etc. I had seen another blogger paint handprints on little tea towels for the kitchen and matching hot pad, and I thought that was genius! To emulate, I bought hot pad sets from Walmart and looked up ideas for turning hand or footprints into art. Then, I let pen Elaine choose which cheesy artwork to use for our prints. We ended up with the heart shown above for a few, as well as a crab, some footprint birds (I decided to only use Snuggly Man’s feet after painting one with his hands.), and a dinosaur. They turned out cute and very personal!

For a card or photo display for my mom, I took a piece of finished out wood/sign from hobby lobby and glued on a wooden shape that Pen Elaine had already painted. Then, I wrote Deuteronomy 4:9 on there with paint- after hot glueing clothespins, spaced evenly, along the bottom. I determined spacing and placement by having a photo in them and marking my determined spots with pencil.

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Advent has begun!

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Advent has begun!

I love Advent season! aka, the month of December 🙂

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This year, I have a 3-and-a-half-year-old who makes all the preparations for Christmas even more meaningful and all the preparation even more gratifying than before because she has grown in understanding and in the ability to ANTICIPATE! It is so fun!

Like last year, I planned our daily advent activities ahead of time, as inspired by the amazing Kim, and wrapped a “present” that coordinated with each day. This year, we are also going through a book, The ADVENTure of Christmas: Finding Jesus in Our Holiday Traditions, by Lisa Whelchel, that succinctly explains the origin of some traditions and symbols of Christmas, along with some quick discussion questions and activity ideas. I learned that “advent” means “to come” in reference to Jesus coming down to earth; thus advent is a time to prepare for His coming. I love planning the days ahead of time and wrapping the gifts beforehand because it makes the whole advent time a fun celebration for me, too! There’s no brainstorming, decision-making, or scrambling and throwing stuff together the night before, making for a more peaceful season. I love it! I also mark on my calendar when her last day of various classes occur, to remind me to bring teacher gifts, and I even put making Christmas cookies for teachers, neighbors, etc. on the calendar so I don’t forget. Plus, I like getting some presents wrapped before Thanksgiving anyway (really, I’d love having them all bought and wrapped), so wrapping a bunch of presents right before Thanksgiving really gets me in the holiday, festive, family spirit…and gives me an excuse to start listening to Christmas music!

Plus, Pen Elaine absolutely LOVES opening a present each morning, and since we’ve already forgotten once to put out the gift the night before, I know that she has reached the age to remember on her own! The night before the first of December, she sweetly requested to “pleeeease tell me what’s in the present?” So far, she has opened our advent calendars (day 1: setup advent calendars), a plastic nativity set and nativity books (day 2: play and talk about nativity story), the three wise men that are part of our other nativity set (plus I threw in some Xmas window decals for Pen Elaine to put where she chose, day 3: talk about wise men’s gifts and Matthew 25:40-go through our toys, books, and clothes to give our own gifts to the less fortunate), and a dress & gloves (that we already owned, day 4: church event for Christmastime)…I scattered some extra Christmas decorations or fun kid-friendly ones along with the advent activity items throughout the presents for added fun factor. For example, my Uncle Christ gave us this set of Disney characters that sing Christmas carols, so on a day when I was just wrapping up a container of salt to make salt dough ornaments, I also wrapped up a caroling Donald duck to make the present more exciting 🙂 Turning decorations and advent calendars into presents to open throughout the month made them much more epic.

This year, she is also opening a door a day in a cardboard advent calendar that I bought after Christmas last year on super sale…which includes chocolate pieces, but the label says that it’s good until March of next year, so far so good!

The one advent calendar that has grown with her since she could walk, is our “love came down” felt pocket calendar, where you simply move a little heart from one pocket to the next. To make it more complicated, last year, I added prophecy verses paired with new testament verses about the different roles and characteristics of Jesus. These are cooler for my Honey and me than Pen Elaine, at this point, but it is neat to see how so many things were prophesied about Jesus’s life so many years before He was born. When our kids get older, talking about these along with the Dead Sea Scrolls will be impactful, I think.IMG_2339.JPG

Fall Decorations!!!

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IMG_1729.JPGDecorating for fall is the most satisfying season because it is so warm and cozy, comes at the beginning of a new season, and you get to leave it up for 2 or 3 solid months! Plus, fall is a great time to host gatherings and have friends over, so there are lots of opportunities to share the fun of fall decorations. Now that I share my seasonal decorating with Pen Elaine, I am more in tuned to how kids can be actively involved with making the house fun and inviting for each season or holiday. Growing up, I remember getting excited every October to decorate an orange pumpkin made of construction paper, giving it shape, a stem, and a jack-o-lantern face with black markers or crayons. Now, Pinterest has opened up so many more possibilities that I forget the simple joys of childhood only need “pen” and paper sometimes, but the important thing is to let my kiddo feel special and proud of her part in making our house a warm and whimsical home.

1. Scarecrow – we made a scarecrow with an old party sign, some little-used pants and top, a hat, gloves, and Pen Elaine’s super-cute contribution: a pinwheel! Items that needed to be tied down were secured with string. Since it’s on a wooden stand that can be easily moved, sometimes I’ll stick it in the garage if there’s a big rainstorm or we are going out of town.

2. Front door hanger: Instead of a fall wreath, I had seen this embroidered hoop idea on Pinterest and thought it looked really do-able and a nice changeup. Plus, I had bought a couple giant hoops for 3 bucks each at some junk store. I ended covering my letter with yarn because that is what I had on-hand, but next time, I would want to try something else.

 

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3. I finally got around to painting a new scene/quote on my windowpane for fall. I saw so many fun quotes and verses for fall, I will have to put up a new one for November, ha! I always want to paint a pumpkin on the glass, but it never looks quite right to me…I’m just not sure what to replace it with…a tree?

 

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Here’s a picture of the hoop art. I wrapped the letter in one layer of yarn using modge podge to secure it; then I attached it to the burlap with a second, more sparse covering of yarn. I hid the loose corners of burlap by taping them down to the back of the hoop with some masking tape.

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4. Candle display tray: I had seen a candle display similar to this on Pinterest that looked straight out of Hogwarts…thus I had to try to replicate it. My collection of little glass jars/bottles finally got put to use for a spooky effect…

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