Category Archives: Poppy Moments

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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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.

Sharing French Fries

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No matter where you stand on the whole issue of feeding your just-about-1-year-old-kid french fries, that chubby little hand reaching out for a french fry from his big sister’s sweet little fingers just has to melt your heart…right? Everything in moderation. They were just so cute, I had to snap a photo – Pen Elaine happy to be sharing her treasure with a beloved little brother and Snuggly Man giddy with happiness and relief that she was giving him some of that french fry goodness. (Of course, he would have continued yelling at her until she chose to share food.) 2015/01/img_3558.jpg

More than just sharing french fries, I love watching this relationship blossom and grow, from my front row seat. Pen Elaine has always loved Snuggly Man, from the moment she knew about him and then met him, she has showered him with plenty of hands-on affection. We have early photos of her adoring gaze at his tiny, sleeping face as she holds him, propped up with pillows. She instantly embraced him as one of our family. When she worked tirelessly to set up our empty danactive smoothie containers for “bowling,” she accepted the price of playing with a crawling, little brother. 2015/01/img_3343.jpg

In her family drawings, all four of us get equal crayon-time and paper-space. 2015/01/img_2380.jpg

Over the past year or so, however, that love has deepened, faced with challenges of course, but now, I think she loves him not just because he is her cute baby brother, but she also loves him because she enjoys him as a person, not just a baby to hold. Her affection for him has grown into a friendship of mutual adoration. This really hit me the other morning, when the three of us were having a plastic tea party. Snuggly Man had managed to confiscate all three toy stir-spoons, one in each hand and one in his mouth. He was very happy with this accomplishment and was making happy little noises through his full mouth. When Pen Elaine noticed and realized his antics, she started laughing hysterically, giggling and making sure that I was witnessing the spectacle as well. It was the cutest thing, and of course, Snuggly Man’s pleasure at the setup increased tenfold with an appreciative audience. They were having this magic moment of sharing life.

This young sibling relationship, that I’m privileged to observe, paints a picture of free, unearned love and affection, with no strings attached. Snuggly Man adores Pen Elaine, always watching her and wanting to copy her antics. This is despite the fact that Pen Elaine has taken to tucking a bathrobe belt into the back of Snuggly Man’s shirt, so that it serves as a leash and makes him her puppy. Likewise, Pen Elaine wants Snuggly Man to be her playmate, so she tries to “lure” him into her room by showing him toys that he’ll want to play with; she wants him to be where she is, even when she has to take a bathroom break. It doesn’t matter that while he is in her room, he may try to rip any books left on the floor or spread all the play kitchen toys across the floor…This observation reminds me of the Charles Dickens quote:

“It is no small thing, when they, who are so fresh from God, love us. ”

This imperfect love has somehow been pointing me back to God’s perfect love. Their generously given love reminds me of the completely free gift of God’s grace. So often, I rationalize and overthink and secretly try to earn God’s love, forgetting that I am completely incapable of earning God’s favor because it has been freely given. I recently listened to Christine Hoover speak on this topic, and I was reminded how Jesus Christ took care of it all. What a relief.

Galatians 5:1-6

1It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

2Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.

Galatians 2:16 & 20-21

nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified…“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

This delightful sibling relationship is echoed in the book Princess Penelope Takes Charge, by Todd Mack, and insightfully illustrated by Julia Gran. This sibling pair has a it more of a roller coater ride of affection at the star, but they come to appreciate each other as they grow and develop. This is a really fun read that we highly recommend, particularly for when a new baby is expected!!

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I had to include the following pic of Snuggly Man’s first time to tag along on a Starbucks date with Pen Elaine and me – we shared a mini scone with him, and he fully appreciated the outing. 2015/01/img_2295.jpg

Pen Elaine’s most favorite book…this week

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The Secret Remedy Book by Karin Cates (illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin) was a little treasure we found at the library recently. I may have loved it even more than Pen Elaine, but the feelings were mutual. This is the story of a young girl who finally gets to go stay at her aunt’s house, all by herself, but when she finds herself feeling a little homesick, her aunt rescues the situation with a mysterious book from the attic that gives the steps to curing any woes. The book takes them on a mini, everyday-sort-of adventure that ends in sleepy, happy dreams.

I felt like we were taken back to simpler times, and I was reminded that in childhood, the little things can be the most meaningful. The illustrations are intricate and tell a story all their own. We made the book come alive one afternoon, during Snuggly Man’s naptime, and followed all the steps to complete the “secret remedy.” Luckily, we had juice in the house that day (or at least some apple cider), and we found a seed to plant out in the yard – Pen covered it with a leaf to keep it safe. We highly recommend this book for making memories, or if you are getting ready to send a kid off to camp or grandma’s house for the first or second time. This is a great book for talking through feelings and dreams and everyday goals. I already want to check this book out from the library again!

Little Kid in the Kitchen: Octopus (Crescent) Rolls

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2015/01/img_3475-0.jpgPen Elaine loves helping in the kitchen – we put on our aprons and pull a chair up to the counter for her to stand on, and I try teaching her that a good cook does not lick her fingers or the bowl when preparing food that everyone will eat…So, I had saved a super cute idea from Family Fun August 2014 about making crescent rolls into octopi. We had recently read a Christmas gift from Aunt Jenny, Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear (illustrated by Julie Morstad) that makes you want to cook with your cute kid, and Pen Elaine had been into “Octonauts,” in which one of the main characters is some sort of octopus. So, the timing was perfect for trying this simple “recipe.”

Crescent roll Octopus:

1. Pull apart a triangle from crescent roll package

2.Taking the shortest side of the triangle, cut 7 slits about 1-2 inches long with kitchen shears or a knife (I used a plastic knife with success)

3. Place cut triangle onto baking sheet to separate and “stage” each “leg” of the octopus

4. Roll down and shape “head” to look more rounded

5. Add eyes – we used mini chocolate chips (Pen Elaine was solely i charge of this step)

6. Bake according to package instructions

They seem wobbly and delicate when shaping the dough into octopus shapes, but they come out of the oven sturdy and stiff and delicious! These were simple and yet so, so much fun. Plus, when Pen Elaine was staging some of the octopus and their tentacles, she told me how certain ones were family members, etc…and then, she made two octopus who were side-by-side to “hold hands” and said they were my Honey and me when we were getting married! It was the sweetest thing…all thanks to those little octopus crescent rolls 🙂

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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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