Friday, August 29, 2008

Haven Swap

It is time to show you what I sent to my swap partner, Anna - for the Haven Swap! I was so excited to be her swap partner, because not only do we enjoy lots of the same things - I am trusting that this box would be a great blessing to her. She is a missionary in Africa and I am thankful for her willingness to serve God there - and thankful that she could participate in this swap while she was home for a few weeks!
I made little tags for each thing describing how that item could contribute to making her home a haven:

Haven...a place where His light shines; lamp

Haven...a place where others are welcomed! Brunch invitations
Haven...a place where Christ is Lord - welcomed and worshiped. Celtic Worship 2 CD
Haven...a place where I can express my personality and surround myself with beauty the way I see it. Simply SenseSational Decorating Simple Steps to a Beautiful, God-Centered Home

I forgot to write down what I wrote to go with this candle - but I thought it was very old fashioned, which she likes!

Haven...a place where I am nourished and refreshed so I can be renergized to serve others. And, a place that smells good! enamelware cup and mulling spices

Haven...A place that is blessed with His peace, presence and love. His blessing ~ Bless This Home box

Here is what she sent me, look how cute the box was!

She included these neat animals made in Africa for Emily and Rachel - they've already had fun with these!

Candle holder with vanilla candle - mmm!

Neat bar of soap, homemade dish cloth - love this:

Pretty notepaper, cute card with tea bag for a relaxing cup of tea, this neat devotional book - I've always been intrigued by the Amish and am excited to read this:


Framed 1 Corinthians 13 - matches our room great and this cute Fruit of the Spirit garland:

This might be my favorite thing - I love this tablecloth she sent. She included that she bought it from a lady in Africa who was earning money to send home to her family.

Thanks, Anna for making this a great swap! Head over to Carrie's to see more swap goodies!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bunny, Pinky, Ellie, Fingers, Thumb?

When I was a child, my thing was this bunny - its name is, yes - Bunny! I don't know if it is a he or a she - but let me tell you - Bunny was loved! I loved to rub/scratch the ear and nose and place between the arm and neck. Generally just pick at it. I took Bunny everywhere and it was a joke that I would take Bunny on my honeymoon. I did, just to be funny!

Emily sucks her pointer and middle left fingers and loves this rabbit blanket named Pinky. Remember when Pinky was lost and found? Yes, she is well-loved too!

Rachel is a thumb girl and has this thing for Ellie the Elephant. Oh, and she has some Ellie jammies that are her favorite!

Samuel is also a thumb sucker - he has a little bear blankie named Sparky. I don't know that he is really attached to it - he can sort of take it or leave it. But, he definitely loves his thumb.

I saw this cute poem at the Children's Museum in Kansas City and took a picture for my little thumb lovers:
Here's what it says,
"Oh the thumb suckers thumb
May look wrinkled and wet
And withered and white as the snow
But the taste of a thumb
Is the sweetest taste yet
As only we thumb-suckers know."
~ Shel Silverstein ~
What about you? Did you have a favorite stuffed animal, blanket or finger to suck as a child? I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Puddles and Pancakes

Just a glimpse into a couple of fun things we did last week:

Made Piggy Pancakes - these were a big hit!

The next day, the ladies greatly enjoyed God's gift of lots of rain and puddles! Eventually, it started raining again and they were absolutely soaked to the skin by the time they were done! They had so much fun!

What fun things have you been up to?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pampered Chef

I'll be hosting a Pampered Chef party at my house on Saturday, September 6 at noon. If you live near me and want to attend, please e-mail me for directions or more information - or just come and bring a friend!

For everyone else, if you are interested in placing an order via the internet - you can visit my friend Kimberlee's site here. You'll need my first and last name for hostess info - so send me an e-mail if you are interested.

Kimberlee has just started selling Pampered Chef and I'm hoping to help give her a great start!


A Little Squirrel

What? She doesn't look like a squirrel to you - read on!

Before we left for our trip, I was looking through the DVD's trying to decide which few I wanted to bring in the car. I really wanted to bring one of the Clifford ones because it has multiple episodes on one disc, but could not fine one. Emily got a five disc set for Christmas last year - so where were all the Clifford movies? We also remembered that we could not find the Toy Story 2 DVD. Hmmmm....

We asked Emily where they were - no real answer. We asked Rachel where they were and she always pointed behind the TV. But, they weren't there. David absolutely scoured the Den and we had looked other places all over the house, but they could not be found. We did find one of the Clifford movies - but where were the other four?

So, I chose other movies and we went on our way. However, they were still missing. Another thing missing, was the Boo Boo Buddy from the freezer - it's amazing how much this little darling can help an owie! :) (Psychological perhaps?)

Several weeks have passed - a month I guess and then one morning when the ladies got up - Emily said, "Rachel put a lot of books in the middle." In the middle of what? She offered to show me.

We headed into their bedroom and Emily pointed behind the headboard of Rachel's bed. Yes, there were quite a few books behind there (a few of these were already on the floor, but you get the idea):
After pulling all of those out - we found:
Mmm hmm - well, now we know who is squirreling treasures away behind her bed. She must just think it is so fun to "deposit" things in this little slot:
We also found a princess cell phone a small pony toy and more books. Mystery solved - Rachel is the secret squirrel.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Family Night: Musical Fun

Friday morning, I wasn't sure what we'd be doing for Family Night that evening, but David called from work and said he had an idea. A band teacher at one of the local schools was going to throw out this xylophone because it is in multiple pieces, some pieces are broken, etc... But, there were enough great pieces for us to enjoy using it! So, he brought that home and borrowed an autoharp as well. I rounded up some other instruments we had around the house and our music theme was born.

I had planned to make pizza for dinner - so, wanted to incorporate that into our theme. Pepperoni and strips of green pepper made music notes on the top:

I also made brownie cupcakes with sprinkles on top for dessert and had a small tube of icing up in the cabinet. So, I drew a little musical note on top of those as well.

Before dinner, we sang our prayer from this neat book:

Here are a few instrument ideas:

Make your own tambourines by putting dried beans or unpopped popcorn inside two paper plates stapled together. I wrote verses on ours before we stapled them. You could also add ribbons or other fun decorations!

Here are a few verse ideas:
"I will make music to the Lord." ~ Judges 5:3
"It is good to praise the Lord and make music!" ~ Psalm 92:1
"I will sing and make music with all my soul." ~ Psalm 108:1
"Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord." ~ Ephesians 5:19

You can make an instrument, also, out of styrofoam meat trays with rubber bands put on.

Here were some other ideas I had that we didn't even end up using:
* Sing instead of speaking during dinner.
* Play musical chairs.
* Have a parade.

Rachel - someday when you can read this - I'm sorry there aren't more pictures of you, but you were running around having so much fun we could not get a picture of you!

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Handcrafted Christmas

I've been busy crafting for the past couple of months getting ready for Christmas! And, I'm excited to share the ideas here in the coming weeks! I'll share one idea each Thursday during September and October. Oooh - I'm getting excited!

At the end of this series, I'd like to host a showcase for all of the crafting you've done! You can submit photos of your crafts or links to your post showing what you've crafted for Christmas this year. Details will come closer to the time.

Anyone else doing Christmas gift crafting?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Surviving or Thriving?

This thought has been on my mind quite a bit lately - as a Mom of little ones, I often feel like I am simply in survival mode. The days can be long and hard and our little blessings aren't adept at affirmation and appreciation yet!

I'm reminded of what my former pastor used to say about facing situations in life. "You can go through it or you can grow through it." I think God would want me to choose to grow through my experiences and thrive in the calling He has given me.

I do not believe He wants me to just survive day to day. Not that it would be easy either way - but to just get by or just get through something defeats the purpose doesn't it?

Not only that, but I have found that survival mode can be very self-serving. It is so easy to think about how this season of life is tiring and hard on me. I'm always in demand, someone always needs something or needs to stay out of something. Why am I allowing myself to be so focused on how hard this season is for me instead of what a treasure this season is?

It seems I can start the day absolutely determined to not get frustrated, not lose my cool. I pray. I determine not to allow things to get me down easily. Yet, consistently by the time lunch is rolling around - I am very quiet. This is a sign that I could easily lose it with my children - which I think is why I often just pull inside - as a safety mechanism for losing my patience with my children.

Why is it that it feels like the more I give and the more willingly I give it - the less satisfied they are? They are always wanting more.

As a mom of young children, I need to die to myself and be faithful to the calling God has placed on my life. His will for me is to be home with my children - He blessed our family with them - now, that is my calling.

I know that part of my struggle is having very high expectations and that to thrive, I am going to have to lower my expectations. Not too low - but lower than very high! Any ideas on how to do this? It is easy to say that I need to lower my expectations, but an entirely different matter to actually do it.

I know that if I need help - I need to ask for it and then if it is offered, I need to accept it. I don't know about you - but this is very hard for me. It is very hard to ask for help and very hard to accept help. Part of me feels so guilty in asking or needing help because I feel like God blessed us with these children and I should be able to care for them.

One thing that often helps me when I am experiencing a negative attitude or am starting to feel discontent is to keep a thankful journal. When I am actively looking for several things to write down each day - it gets easier as the days go on to come up with more things to be thankful for and I start seeing little things that God is doing during our days.

I need to keep my mothering in perspective. I know this is just a season - it doesn't always feel like it, but everyone says these days will pass more quickly than I can imagine and I will wish them back. I want to redeem this time and to enjoy this time. To realize it is only for a season and to take the opportunities this season holds.

I want to be a willing servant to my family.
Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."
Pray! Ask for a changed perspective and for God's help in thriving and growing rather than enduring and surviving. And, for cultivation of the Fruit of the Spirit in my life.

Choose an attitude of gratefulness for the calling God has placed on my life, for this season He has me in and for how He wants to shape me through all of this.

Train my thinking to focus on that which is, "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable - excellent or praiseworthy."

Do not be overwhelmed by everything the future holds, trust the future to Him and live today.

Your turn - do you feel like you are surviving or thriving in the calling God has placed on your life? Share your thoughts on how we can choose to thrive instead of giving in to selfishly just surviving!

After I finished typing this post, I uploaded the photo at the top. And, it got me thinking even more about this topic. When you see a plant you can tell if it is just surviving or thriving. What you see on the outside is indicative of what is going on inside the plant, with its roots, etc. Wow - there's a lot to think about in that when you relate it to mothering!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Crafter's Walk Through Proverbs 31: Recipe Book

"She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls." ~ Proverbs 31:15
I love the actions in this verse. She gets up. She provides. This is not a woman who is lazy or haphazard about her work, but she takes her calling seriously.

When I meditated on this verse, the theme that jumped out at me was that she was a planner. She planned to get up early, these days we would set our alarm for this! She was not the last one up in her home scrambling to get something decent on the table or even allowing her family to fend for themselves while she slumbered peacefully. She was prepared.

She was able to provide food for her family and those under her care. This says to me that she planned ahead and had the food available. She knew what she would fix. In a day where there were not electric ovens or refrigerators, planning ahead would have been even more necessary than it is now. She was prepared.

I will tell you, I have had nagging thoughts since working on this project about what I feed my family for breakfast. Is it really the best choice to just set out a box of cereal and call that breakfast? I know my children love it - but it is the best choice I could be making? My heart tells me it isn't.

How do we plan ahead so that we can provide this kind of atmosphere for our families?

First, we must ask God for His help - we know He can enable us to do the things He desires of us. And, we know He desires this because He spoke it into His word.

We must plan to rise early. Different times will work for different households, but rising early is a mark of a virtuous woman. I want to be this kind of woman!

We must plan ahead for providing food for our families. Planning a menu, doing the shopping, preparing the food. All of these things require our time and attention.

Since this verse speaks of rising early, it makes me think especially of breakfast. We can set the table the night before, we can mix the muffin ingredients the night before and have everything ready to go into the oven when we rise. I love smelling yummy things from the kitchen early in the morning. It is such a cozy feeling.

Then, we can sit and enjoy this time with those gathered around our table. Reading His word and feasting on both His word and the food He has provided.

One thought about the servant girls! I know many of you may be saying, "I could do all that if I had servants!" My Mom has told me for years of a friend of ours relating servants of the Bible to our convenience servants of today. We have an oven, refrigerator, running water and electricity. A washer and dryer. We have lots of servants and I am happy to give them their portion of the work!

In this project, we will create a recipe book where we can collect old and new recipes to be shared with our families. May He be glorified in how we provide meals for our families!

Supplies Needed:
small recipe book or photo album
scrapbook paper (one sheet)
double stick tape
cotton quilt batting
fabric for outside of book
ribbon for trim
one piece of thin cardboard to create the frame
small piece of fabric to cover frame
hot glue gun and glue sticks
printed copy of Proverbs 31:15
clear packaging tape
recipe cards or copies of provided cards
hole punch
Select a small recipe book or photo album. I already had this recipe book and wanted to recover it.
Cut the scrapbook paper to fit inside of your book. Use double stick tape to hold in place.

Lay the quilt batting underneath your book. Trim batting to fit the size of your book.

Lay out desired fabric for the outside of your book. Make sure to lay fabric right side down! Cut your fabric 1 inch larger than the size of your book.

Fold edge in half and then fold over again to hide all unfinished edges. Run a bead of hot glue down the edge and glue in place. Do one edge of your book first, then the corners on that side. And, then repeat for the other side.

To finish the corners, fold point up to edge of book as shown above.

Next, fold remaining fabric up to meet book.

Now, pull the entire piece up and over the edge - hot glue in place. Before you finish the other side, you will want to make sure that your fabric is properly cared for in the middle near the binding. I'll show mine for an example.

Go ahead and fold fabric as if you were ready to glue it, and slide under binding in the middle if possible. If your book has a different kind of binding, you could cut a notch here and let it go around the binding.

Secure fabric under middle binding. Do this at the top and bottom edge.

Complete the other side by folding corners and gluing fabric in place.

Your book now looks like this from the front.

Fold a piece of ribbon so that the ends are hidden and glue onto either the front or back inside edge. Run ribbon around the outside, fold again and affix with glue on the other side.

Cut a frame out of thin cardboard that will fit onto your book. Make it a little shorter or narrower than your book so it will fit on after covered in fabric. Lay your fabric right side down and cut the frame shape into your fabric as well. Leave at least a 1/2 inch allowance all the way around.

Make a slit at the inside corners not all the way to the cardboard frame, but almost all the way. Repeat for all corners.

Fold long outside edges over and glue in place with hot glue.

Next fold the point of the corner in.

Fold edge up and glue in place. Repeat for all outside corners. Now, fold inside edges over and glue in place.

Print verse out on desired paper. Trim to desired size and "laminate" with clear packaging tape. Hot glue into place behind the frame.

Your frame is now ready to be glued onto the front of your book.

Hot glue frame onto front of book as desired. Just a few dots of glue should do the trick.

If desired, you can print off these recipe cards, hole punch and write your recipes on!

As always, I'd love to see your projects! Please let me know if you try this or have any suggestions about the instructions. Thanks!