Category Archives: quotes

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…

    

   

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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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.

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

A First Birthday Party in Neverland!

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Snuggly Man turned 1!

I had been secretly “pinning” Neverland party ideas for a while, which turned out to be very fitting since Snuggly Man never wants to grow up and is still in denial about reaching that first year milestone…he refuses any of our attempts to coax him into taking a step, still loves to be held and snuggled, cheek-to-cheek, while sucking his thumb, at all times of day. He has made the full transition to “big boy milk” with minimal protests.

Little boys should never be sent to bed – they always wake up a day older…Peter Pan

Having a Neverland theme was also just what we wanted because we got to include mustaches and pirates, Indians and a teepee, ships and a plank to walk, fairies and a friendly crocodile, all within our “theme.” I’m not good at sticking to one theme, so having an all-inclusive one was great fun. Since this was a first birthday, with more adults than kids, we got to go big for decorations and impact with just a few activities to keep the “big kids” occupied and happy. My Honey and I had a lot of fun making our Neverland dreams come true…all for Snuggly Man and the pictures.

Decorations:

To turn our house into Never-neverland, we printed out a nostalgic map with the various corners of this imaginary island and got inspired about which hangouts to create.

1. Map on display (printed from a google search)

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2. The Lost Boys’ Secret Hangout (Hangman’s Tree)

I thought this looked amazing – my Honey used his skills to tape down “puffs” of a green patterned wrapping paper I bought at Hobby Lobby’s after-Christmas sale, then hung brown crepe paper in the doorway, so we could actually “enter” the secret hideout of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys inside “hangman’s tree.”

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3. Indian Camp Teepee

For this, we followed the simple instructions for ThrifyAndChic’s $7 diy teepee – it was simple, easy, and cheap! Plus, it looked really cool, was fun for the kids, and we still get to enjoy it.

Basically, my Honey bought a long PVC pipe, sawed it into thirds, spray painted it brown (with paint for plastic), drilled two holes in the top of each, then wound and cris-crossed rope through them to keep them together on one end. Then, my part, I cut three triangles of fabric with the top corners cut off, after getting a rough estimate of length and height from setting up the poles in a teepee shape, and sewed them all together, along with extra seams to make slits for each pole. I also cut and seamed a slit in the middle of one side for a doorway.

Pen Elaine is opening her “pirate booty” party favor inside the teepee 🙂

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4. First Birthday Mantel

Of course, I strung up Snuggly Man’s month-by-month photos from the first year, so we could gasp and coo at how he had changed so much and how cute he is 🙂 (Actually I had two of his 10-month photos at the last 2 spots, since there was no 11-month posed photo in existence.) He is picture in all of his photos with a model ship (except for his 3 month photo…) that my Honey ordered online before he was born, for Snuggly Man’s “Old Man and the Sea” bedroom, so that is on the mantel. Along with a painting by my Honey of a ship crewed by lions; he painted a picture of a ship (crewed by foxes) for Pen Elaine. Finally, I hung two stars from an empty frame, for the mantel, so guests could

Follow the second star to the right and straight on til morning!

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5. Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship

For a Pirate Cove at the party, we hung a pirate birthday banner that we own, plus taped up a pirate ship cut from packing paper. I printed off Captain Hook coloring pages that kids got to color and tape to the pirate ship. Of course, what made to most impact was Captain Hook himself in attendance!

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6. Window Art: Peter Pan & Wendy Cameos and Quote

I wanted to paint something on my glass window that currently hangs by our kitchen table that would work for Snuggly Man’s birthday party but could also last through Valentine’s Day…I was being realistic about when I would get around to repainting it. So, I used this really sweet quote I saw in Anthropologie’s catalogue and added silhouettes of Peter Pan and Wendy. To make the cameos, I pulled up a googled image on a tablet, then placed it behind the window (laying flat on a table) so I could trace them with a chalk marker, then fill it in with craft paint. The quote and decorations were all with craft paint as well.

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6. Birthday Banner

For Pen Elaine’s first birthday, I made a glittery, dainty, beautiful birthday banner that gets pulled out every year, multiple times, but it definitely looks like a “girl” birthday banner. So, I felt Snuggly Man deserved a birthday “boy” banner that could be used every year, but was especially made for him. First, I pulled out some old ready-made muslin flags I had picked up on super sale from Hobby Lobby and realized I was one letter short from being able to make a Happy Birthday banner using only those. Plus, they were extra small in size and would be hard to see 🙂 So, I bought some more ready-cut pennant flags from the same material and painted the letters to spell Happy Birthday on the larger pennants and drew little chevron stripes on the alternating, little pennants. I feel like it fit the Neverland/Lost Boys theme but can also be used for any boy birthday theme in the future.

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INVITATIONS: EVITES

For Snuggly Man’s first birthday party that included a few friends and mostly family, I opted for invitations of 2015 – “evites.” These are not as cutesy as paper invitations, but Snuggly Man is a boy, and he is one, so I think he is good with evites. Plus, evites are fantastic because people actually rsvp for them, as opposed to the paper ones that rarely get any rsvp’s – in fact I usually don’t even try to get them when I send paper. Also, I was still able to include cute little sayings about flying off to Neverland for the birthday party. Instead of my family inviting everyone to the party, we went by pseudonyms: Hook, Tigerlily, and Tinkerbell invited everyone for Snuggly Man’s party. “Follow the second star to the right; think happy thoughts and you’re sure to take flight! Wear a costume if you wish or must! Instead of presents, bring faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust!”

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ACTIVITIES:

1. Dress-up Station & Indian headband craft: Since we invited guests to come in costume, I wanted to have costumes and props on-hand for anyone who forgot or couldn’t find anything around their house. So, we included pirate swords and hats, “Lost boy” masks that were really a pack of fox, owl, and raccoon masks I found in the party section of Hobby Lobby (I think they were meant for a forest/woodland creature party). I wanted to buy green fairy wings at the dollar store, but they only had red ones in stock, so we just pulled out a few costume wings we had in our dress-up box and a glittery fox mask for girly options.

I also laid out supplies on a craft table for kids to make “Indian headbands” using brown paper (cut in thirds, horizontally), feathers, crayons and stickers, and cute masking tape. Instead of waiting for glue to dry or glue sticks to work well, I gave them striped/chevron masking tape I had bought for a previous party activity to be used for attaching paper strips together to make a wide-enough headband and for affixing feathers to the paper. It worked great!

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2. Walk the Plank: In our Pirate ship area, we laid out a blue blanket and put a two-by-four on top of it with the words “Walk the Plank.” This was as risky as we were going to get with 6 to 9 kids, all ages 5 and under (and all walking except Snuggly Man).

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3. Ride the Crocodile: This not only looked cool, next to our pirate ship-infested waters, but it was such a huge hit and totally worth the 10.99 we spent on Amazon!

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4. Hook a Pretzel: All I needed to buy for “Hooking” a pretzel was a bag of pretzels, then round up my costume pirate hooks, a big bowl, and a chalkboard sign. I saw this somewhere on Pinterest and thought it was such a cute idea. The preschool crowd we had thought it was so fun. It seemed like they just loved being able to access their own snacks, and they loved showing off their skills with a plastic pirate hook.

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FOOD & FUN!

Somehow, I forgot to take a photo of the table, but we decided on breakfast tacos! Snuggly Man absolutely loves eggs, and he loves tearing into his very own tortilla, so this was his perfect party food. We bought three different types of tacos, and labeled each serving dish with a chalkboard clothespin. We also had guacamole, pico de gallo, and chips to go with them. This was a super easy food plan. I also bought green paper goods, some green paper straws, a pirate table cloth (red and white striped), and some striped napkins. I also framed an 8 x 10 picture I printed on my printer of a googled image from Peter Pan to display next to food stations.

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Plus, I made cupcakes inside of ice cream cones, which turned out great (this was my first time to try this fun way of baking them). All you do is fill each cone about 1/2 way full of the batter, and bake them as normal. I set each cone in a muffin tin, to help keep them upright. Having the cupcakes in cones made them easier to handle for icing and decorating them (less messy), and it made holding one and eating it much easier for 1-year-old Snuggly Man – Win/Win! For decorating the tops, i slathered on some store-bought vanilla frosting tinted blue with food coloring. Then, I dipped them in a bowl of green crystal sprinkles – very cute and very fast. Lastly, I used a small tube of black gel icing to draw an “X” and little dotted lines to make a treasure map – actually, I drew one and let my little sister (Sunflower) draw the rest…about 1 minute after the party was supposed to be starting, ha! She made them beautiful and super-cool-looking!

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For the big “smash cake” time of the party, I had Snuggly Man’s high chair set up in front of dark, pretty curtains so that photos wouldn’t be washed out by backlight. He absolutely loved having balloons tied to his high chair, so we got cute pics of him gazing in wonder at balloons and his very own cupcake-in-a-cone. It was magical, and the (iphone) photos turned out so precious.

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PARTY FAVORS:

For party favors, I let Pen Elaine decorate brown paper lunch sacks with pirate stickers and wrote “Pirate booty for a BOY or a GIRL” on each of them. I filled them with (leftover Christmas stocking) candy…as well as plastic gold coins for boys and necklaces for girls. (Confession: I went through my old necklaces and picked some I never wear and seemed sturdy enough to last a day or two in the hands of a preschooler.)

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I think Snuggly Man had a fun time at his party!

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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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