Category Archives: parenting

Homemade “Ice Princess” Twirly dress

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So, this photo is actually from a year-and-a-half ago…when I made this little dress-up number from pretty fabrics and pieces that I was slowly collecting. It worked out, with the colors that happened to be a theme, that I could call it a princess dress or an “Elsa” dress and get Pen Elaine really excited about wearing it!

I think it all started when my Honey and I were checking out a random antique shop out of town and found a huge collection of vintage ribbon, trim, etc. from an old fabric store that had gone under and sold this antique shop all the remaining merchandise. One of the items I couldn’t resist was this wide, lacey-looking elastic trim. It’s stretchy! So, I sewed it into a double circle, with two layers for the front of the dress, to be the top/bodice for a 3-year-old’s twirly dress.

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Next, found this dreamy, ethereal fabric with little rosettes covering it, in this pale bluish-greyish color that I knew could be magical for something…and when I finally sat down to make a little dress, I gathered the to of the fabric and sewed it onto an elastic band, to be the twirly, poofy skirt of the dress.

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After roughly sewing the top to the bottom, I covered the seam with another ribbon I had bought – it’s grey velvet. Finally, for little adjustable straps, I sewed intricate ribbon going up from each side, front and back, as seen below, to be tied over the shoulders to fit. These gave it a bit of an Nordic princess or Czech look…

 

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I whipped this out as fast as I could, since it’s just for a fun dress-up clothing. She ended up getting to wear it for her first dance recital at the end of a little dance camp, since they got to dress up like princesses. For a while, she wore this over outfits all the time 🙂 Aside from this, though, I mainly limit myself to one dress a year for Easter or something, ha!

I am so thankful to have a little girl for whom to sew! For me, the fun in creating is sharing it with someone you love. As I enjoy sharing the beauty of creativity and art and God’s creation with my littles, I think how God must find pleasure in sharing the wonderful world that He created with each of us, His children.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-14

 

 

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Toddler Routines with Photos

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Depending on our current “phase,” we have certain times of day that somehow make me crazy. Kids are kids, and it’s my own fault, but I let the little frustrations or little moments of resistance eat away at my patience instead of embracing the slow pace and “inconvenience” of motherhood to littles. It’s in those moments that God is trying to teach me and refine me. However, there are also times when we really need to get somewhere at a certain time. In those cases, we were inspired by ideas from Training A Treasure to establish a routine, and to implement that routine, take photos of our kids actually going through each step of the routine to make a chart.

First, I used this strategy for getting out the door. When Pen Elaine was younger and Snuggly Man was a tiny baby, getting out of the house in a reasonable amount of time and without losing my patience was a major challenge. This time of day was apt to chaos and far from peaceful, and the routine really helped cross that hurdle. Over time, the routine changed and the need for a specific routine waned, but at some point, we’ll probably make a new one for a refresher when Snuggly Man needs to have “jobs” for getting out the door.

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By the way, to make my little photo chart, I used my smart phone! I simply took the photos, used picstitch (app) to organize them into a collage/order, then added title and artwork with Overgram (app), and printed them straight to my wireless printer! Good luck!

More recently, we have established a morning routine for after my Honey leaves the house. This had become a time of frustration for getting Pen Elaine to help clean up after breakfast and get ready for the day. I especially wanted to change our morning ritual so that we had moments of connecting in a close, positive way before leaving the house for morning commitments that would start up this fall. I found myself losing patience and getting irritable because Pen Elaine was fighting me on her morning jobs of cleaning under the table and making her bed, but I knew I needed to make time for close connection with her in the midst of getting required chores done. I wanted to start the day well with her and Snuggly Man, with servings of grace, love, and responsibility. So, Pen Elaine and I worked together to decide what our morning routine would include. We made our kitchen cleanup time more fun by putting on music before we started, then we took time to read a book together before starting on our next set of responsibilities: getting dressed and making beds. Finally, we ended our routine with a game of hide-and-seek, one of our favorite activities 🙂 Now, we actually get through our morning chores faster than before and with a LOT less grumbling and arguing. Plus, we feel like a team on a mission together with lots of room for fun and love along the way.

Philippians 2:12-15

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky

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!

Protect the children

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When I read the paper on human trafficking and found that organ harvesting was one of the areas, primarily using children, I was completely appalled. I couldn’t imagine what that implicated because it was too deeply sad a thing to consider, and for my own peace of mind, I thought of it as something far away involving the lowest people on earth. Recently, however, Planned Parenthood has come into the news for finding some potential loophole in the law and using aborted babies for profit by harvesting and selling their organs. Furthermore, Planned Parenthood is funded by our government, aka our tax money.

For more information and ways to take a stand, here’s somewhere to start.

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James 1:27 (NIV)

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Isaiah 1:23-25New International Version (NIV)

23 Your rulers are rebels,
    partners with thieves;
they all love bribes
    and chase after gifts.
They do not defend the cause of the fatherless;
    the widow’s case does not come before them.

24 Therefore the Lord, the Lord Almighty,
    the Mighty One of Israel, declares:
“Ah! I will vent my wrath on my foes
    and avenge myself on my enemies.
25 I will turn my hand against you;[a]
    I will thoroughly purge away your dross
    and remove all your impurities.

Pen Elaine’s most favorite {chapter} book…this week

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Pen Elaine and I have recently entered the wonderful world of CHAPTER BOOKS! It’s so wonderful and magical and sweet time of reading together through a lengthy story. Chapter books let us anticipate how a story unfolds over the course of a week or two and let us return to a cozy, old friend of a book each evening or afternoon. Also, they seem to be uniquely able to delve into higher level issues and thoughts, depending on the particular book, that can lead to more thoughtful discussions.

For our first chapter book, we actually happened across Nancy Clancy: Super Sleuth (by the always fancy O’Connor/Glasser team) at the library, and we breezed through this really fun book about a more mature Fancy Nancy who admires the classic Nancy Drew. I enjoyed the Nancy Drew references, and we both enjoyed the series of mysteries solved throughout the book. I hadn’t really considered before whether Pen Elaine was ready for chapter books, but this one showed me that she was definitely ready.

  
Next, for our first big-time chapter book, I pulled out my old copy of Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace. We obviously loved this book of adventures that two ordinary girls make for themselves during the early 1900’s in Minnesota. Ms. Lovelace truly gets into the head of imaginative little girls and takes us back through their world of wonder and everyday triumphs and difficulties. While some chapters are a like a dream, others handle the more difficult and timeless challenges of a 6-year-old growing up at the turn of the century. We loved this so much that we read the next book in the series, Betsy-Tacy and Tib, immediately upon finishing this first installment.

Now, based on a recommendation by whatdowedoallday, we are reading My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett. This is a fun adventure story where a young boy finds himself exploring a wild island full of talking animals, on a quest to find a dragon. Pen Elaine is totally hooked! We are enjoying this fantasy story of cleverly facing an assortment of challenges and creative characters.

  

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.

Painting with Yogurt: the sequel

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When Snuggly Man wakes up from his afternoon nap, he is in a bit of a cuddly funk until he has had a snack and finished waking up. During one of these late afternoon slumps, Pen Elaine and I decided it was the perfect time for some messy color and tactile exploration! We had a throwback activity: yogurt painting. This was one of Pen Elaine’s favorite activities when she was this age, so check out the old pics to see how much my kids look alike 🙂 All you need is a muffin tin, yogurt, and food coloring – plus a spoon and/or a paintbrush if you want! This is a fun activity, great for practice with fingers and fine motor skills, plus exploration with textures and colors.

Of course, this time around, I had a big helper to drop in the food coloring and create colors by mixing different drops. We would put in drops of red and blue and then wait until we swirled in the yogurt to discover what color resulted – it was very exciting. Pen Elaine loved helping make and mix colors – and overseeing the exploration process. Snuggly Man (and Pen Elaine) loved touching and eating the “paints.” The end result was a huge mess, of course, but easily wiped up with a damp cloth!

  

Oh, and here’s this adorable toddler enjoying some attention in his high chair 🙂

This is Snuggly Man showing us the birds outside. Our bird feeder and bird bath outside the kitchen window provide continual entertainment and excitement. Snuggly Man loves being able to copy the rest of us by pointing out the window to direct our attention! It’s so cute!!!