Thursday, September 30

More about Birthdays at our House

Birthdays in our house start a few months before actual birthdays. That is because the girls and I make the invitations and the decorations, and I want to give enough time so that it does not become too overwhelming. (This part of the birthdays is the part that is all me…it is my personality to want to hand-make them…if this stresses you out…don’t do it…I know plenty of people that would be totally overwhelmed by this and that is not the reason I am sharing this. It is to inspire and motivate you to celebrate your family in the ways God has gifted you).

We spend a lot of time talking about what the theme should be for each party. Some years it is really easy and others we struggle a little more. I usually do not try to sway them one way or another…other than trying to help them choose something that is really them at that moment and to make sure it is something that is doable. For Maddie’s 4th birthday we decided on a “dem bones” theme (a favorite song…long story…another days post) and Abigail decided on a mermaid theme from a book she was reading with her best friend. Both themes captured who they were at that moment and were doable…with some creativity.

When Abigail chose a Mermaid party, we decided to combine mermaids with an underwater theme so we would have a few more choices for decorations. I used new sand toy buckets to serve the food and beverages in…they worked great. I just hand washed them and set the food in each one…very cute!

I also found these adorable plastic fish plates on sale at TJMaxx. This is a little tip I will share…if you check out clearance racks and discount stores you can often find reusable dishware that is cheaper or the same price as disposable plates and decorations. I have collected a variety of plastic plates in various colors to use at my parties. I end up saving money in the long run because I can reuse the dishes as opposed to throwing them in the trash. I try to find generic plates that can be used for various themes. I have cute pink flower plates that I used for a flower party for Abigail and them reused them at a pink party I had for Maddie. I am also fortunate enough to have storage space so take that into account when deciding what to buy as well.

Although I absolutely love making the invitations, I think the reason I take the time is to be able to do it with my girls. They love helping me and I love the time we spend together. We usually make the thank you notes at the same time as the invitations to save time on the back end. The thank-yous are often very similar to the invites…we just leave a space for each girl to write out their thank-yous.

Here are a few more pictures from the past years’ birthdays…let me know if you have any questions…Have fun celebrating with your family!

Monday, September 27

Birthdays at our House

This week I am going to share a little about birthday celebrations in our home...

We love celebrations and birthdays are no exception. I absolutely love the planning, making and executing of these parties. My favorite part has to be working with each of my daughters to make their party a celebration of who they are at that moment. They help me create the invitations and decorations, help bake and frost the cake and set up on the day of the party. It is a whole process that we do together. That is why I love these parties. I am able to use my strengths to help them have a day that really celebrates them. I will share more about what we do for their parties in the next few days, but today I am going to share a few traditions/ideas we have for our girls’ actual birthdays.

The first being we do not have their party on their actual day. That day is a day to celebrate just as a family. I decorate their door the night before so they wake up to streamers and balloons as they open their door. I also decorate the table for breakfast...breakfast just happens to be my girls’ favorite meal. While the decorations/theme may change from year to year, there are a few constants at each birthday morning celebration.

A few years back I came across this adorable glass cupcake called "The Hidden Cupcake." It can be found here:

(I found mine at TJMaxx or Marshall's for a fraction of the cost, but it is fun to read the stories and ideas on their website).

At this time we do not hide the cupcake we use it to write what we love about the birthday girl. I set it out for each of my family's birthdays. A few days prior to a birthday, the rest of the family writes a few things that they love about the birthday boy/girl on small pieces of paper. I set the cupcake on the table and it is the first thing that gets opened on their birthday. I love the idea of telling each other what we love about each other, and I love that it has become one of my girls’ favorite part of their day.

One other tradition we have is we let our girls choose what is for dinner. They may choose something at home, but more often than not it is Chuck E. Cheese. Whatever it is...we do it just as a family. I love that part as well. It makes for a relaxed day for all of us...

We also have our girls open their presents from us on their actual day. We usually give 1 larger gift and maybe 1-2 smaller gifts. We are trying very hard to be aware of the number of gifts we give. Our girls are so very blessed and need very little, but we also still want them to receive gifts…we just don’t want the celebration to be all about the gifts. That is basically my whole philosophy on birthdays…to celebrate the person and their special day.

Thursday, September 23

Lauren's birthday party

Lauren turned one this month! Here are a few pictures from her special day. We had so much fun celebrating her birthday and one year of Loving Lauren!

Wednesday, September 1

They grow so fast...

How often have you heard that? Well, I am going to say it one more time. Today I took my 9 year old to her open house for 3rd grade. We met her teacher and she put all her school supplies in her desk. She is so excited! So is her sister, who is still only 4 and will be at home with me one more year, but she so wants to be just like her big sister. She carried her own backpack so she could be just like her big sister. As I took pictures and watched this day unfold, I am reminded of just how fast time goes. It seems like only yesterday we were bringing home a 6 lb. Abigail from the hospital that barely fit in her car seat. I guess I am writing to encourage all those of you in the throws of sleepless nights, dirty diapers, and all that having young children entails. Even though I am keenly aware that your days at times seem to be never-ending...they will come to an end. Life will pass by before your eyes and all that stress will be gone. Please take time today to appreciate where you are at and to fully be engaged. As I look at my now 9-year old, I am sad because she is growing so fast, but I am so grateful that I have been present for it all. I have enjoyed her and loved her as best I know how. I am so thankful that God gives us just what we need to handle today...He does not promise us tomorrow, so take time today to enjoy your little one(s)...because before you know it he/she will be off to to college...and off on their own. Invest in them now so that when they grow up you can look back on the memories with no regret.

Friday, August 27


Thanks for all your prayers and inquiries about my clumsy accident! I am doing amazingly well. My mouth is healing remarkably and the scrapes and scratches have lost their scabs! I can talk and move my tongue just fine now.
My bite is a concern because my front 2 teeth were moved back in my fall. I will have to see if that works itself out. I have a couple of chipped teeth, but that is a miracle because I could have broken some so easily. I am still drinking my meals and dream about the day I will be able to eat popcorn again.
I have learned that I eat alot more than I realize when I am under stress. This week I found myself in the kitchen so often to get something to 'chew on.' My only option was to drink something, and that didn't really do it for me.

I can't quite get my head around how much I was protected in this fall and how unbelieveably fast and well I have been put back together. Thank you for your prayers.

Anyway, thanks for letting me vent on the blog this week. Next week we will return to Happy Homemaking posts. Go out and enjoy something crunchy for me tonight:)

Thursday, August 26

Waiting to be Healed

After my tumble, I find myself waiting to heal. I can't venture out anywhere for fear of scaring people and I can't eat solid food. I realize how impatient I can get. I check the mirror each time I walk past it to see if I am healed!

I am reminded of this story about a TV evangelist who had throat problems and was told he shouldn't speak for 3 months! The evangelist protested that that would be impossible. He prayed and was healed miraculously. The man who related this story said:

Can you imagine telling God--the God in whom there is no beginning and no ending, the eternal, always was and always will be God, the God who buries tulip bulbs in the darkness of the soil, the God who hides oak trees in acorns, this God--that you don't have 3 months? It seems bold to me, to say the very least, to say this to God who knew you long before you ever came to be. To suggest to this God--who has promised to gather up all of your life and transform it into the goodness of His purpose--that He should get on with it because you don't have time to dilly-dally around is pretty daring! I can almost hear God saying, "I think I'll just heal him. It will be easier than explaining it to him."

Good words for me and anyone 'waiting' to remember! I love to think of God burying tulip bulbs and in His good timing they will sprout. It is worth the wait.

Tuesday, August 24


This week on the blog I was going to share a few summer activities to do with your kids...until I fell down!

Saturday night I was visiting with my neighbor while I was walking back home with two armsful of produce from her garden. Without warning, I tripped and 'face-planted' my teeth into her concrete driveway. I rolled over and asked her if I had any teeth left!

"Yes, your teeth are there, but I think you broke your nose" she reassured me.

In my confusion, I picked up my bags of produce, still intact, and hurried home to assess the damage.

After a trip to the emergency room Saturday night and the dentist yesterday, I am amazed that the body is able to take such trama and hold together.

My deeper concern surfaced minutes after my fall, however, when I thought, what is this going to do with MY LOOKS! I humbly confess that my issue wasn't with the fact that I may be gumming my food for six months, it was how was I going to face the next day if my face was all bashed in.

I know we women can encourage one another that our looks do matter, and that I would be justified in thinking that way, but I am not sure that that should have been my first concern. It wasn't MY LOOKS that would be stabilizing my thinking as I went forward with this situation.

My next thought was about my theme for this year: humility. I would have smiled when I thought of the irony of this if the pain wasn't so intense. 'Oh Lord, I've had humility as my focus all year but apparently there are more lessons here to learn'.

My thoughts were sporadic at best, but the thought that calmed my soul the most was this question, "Will you pursue ME in the process of whatever you are going through?"

That brought my thoughts into perspective. That has kept my mind at ease.

Once again I was reminded that being a follower of Jesus requires me pursuing Him daily so when my life is run-amok I can stabilize quicker and apply some truth into my situation.

I haven't always done that.

I have counted on my own devices and strengths to pull me through more often than I would like to admit.

But everytime I rely on myself, I demand answers. Why did this happen? What are you doing here, Lord? What could I have done differently?

By asking myself if I am going to pursue God in the process of this fall, the answer isn't as important as the process I am going through.

Thursday, August 19

My First Project

I love my girls! And these dresses were so much fun to make. A very simple first sewing project. I have to be honest and admit that there were many seams that I had to rip out and try again. But I love the finished results and can't wait to see these little dresses paired with some skinny jeans in the fall!

Monday, August 16

Calling All Crafters

I have recently found a new hobby....SEWING! I love it! I am not amazingly talented at it yet, but I am learning. I just finished making two dresses for my daughters and I have almost finished a shirt. A couple of weekends I purchased more fabric for a skirt and pajamas. So exciting! I will post some pictures of the dresses later this week. In the meantime, if you are itching to sew... I would highly recommend the book Making Children's Clothes by Emma Hardy. It is what I have gotten my patterns from and it has really easy step by step directions. Happy Sewing!

Thursday, August 5

Susie Larson Wisdom

Stacy wrote a few weeks back about a book written by Susie Larson called Growing Grateful Kids. Stacy and I were fortunate enough to hear her speak at my church and we couldn't get enough of her and her wisdom. She sends out a newsletter every so often and I thought what she had to share in this last one was worth sharing here. If you have a moment after you read her message, check out her blog. She has some great resources to share. It is days like these where I am thankful for the body of Christ and the wisdom He gives each of us to encourage and challenge each other. We really serve a great God. Enjoy!

Replace the Good with the Best!
Susie 100x100
Summer is a great time to pause and reflect, to wonder and to wait, to ponder and to pray. God has some very personal and specific words to share with you and me. He is ready to help us make a few adjustments in our lives. He wants to give us rest, He wants to teach us to run with more efficiency, He wants to train our hands for battle, and, He wants to teach us how to walk on high places.

If you're like me, you're feeling the urgency of the times. And yet, far too many people, Believers even, are walking around in a spiritual fog, completely oblivious to the importance of the times. If we're out of touch with the sound of God's voice, we will commit to all of the wrong things, and we will miss the best of what God has for us.

Proverbs 19:2 says this: 'It's not good to have zeal (passion) without knowledge; nor to be hasty and miss the way."

Two things jump out to me here: We MUST be in the habit of waiting on God, and we MUST increase in the knowledge of Him!

We cannot allow the pace of our culture to dictate our lives! In a day when leaders and people of influence fully embrace a lie or worse yet, only a splinter of the truth, followers and non-thinking people are at great risk of being deceived. We must ask for our own godly discernment and not just assume that because something sounds true, or even feels true, that it is true. We must know and walk in THE Truth. Read John chapter 15 and fully embrace the idea that you and I are appointed to make an impact, to bear fruit that lasts long after we are gone. That's pretty incredible when you think about it. And it won't happen by default. Life-changing fruit comes out of a our Divine connection to the Vine. So important!

Use this summer season to take inventory of your time investments. Wait on God. Ask HIM to confirm His best and highest plan for you. Replace the good with the best. Your place in history matters. What you do with your time matters. We have this one life to live, and to advance God's Kingdom. May we walk in a high level of discernment (and not confusion), may our faith increase (and not decrease) may we step out (and not shrink back), may we increase in godly influence (and not be spiritually insignificant), and may we stand strong in battle (and not seem irrelevant to the devil). May we live in a manner worthy of our call.

Visit Susie's Website

Tuesday, August 3

Train up a Child

I am quite sure that Barb has blogged about this before it but it’s worth repeating. One of the first years at homemakers, Barb challenged us by saying, “If you love someone, become an expert on them.” (If that doesn’t require being intentional I’m not sure what does). At the time we were talking more about our spouses, but I also think this applies to parenting. How well do you know your children…I mean do you really know them? Are you an expert on them?

As Jeff and I were trying to decide whether to home school Abigail or not, one verse became a deciding factor for us and continues to be in our parenting of our two extremely different children. In Proverbs 22:6 it states: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

What stood out in that verse to us was “in the way HE should go.” We were challenged to think about Abigail as an individual. We are commanded to teach her about God, but in the way she needs to be taught. She has bents and a personality that has specific needs whereas Maddie’s needs are completely different. For example, Abigail needs everything explained to her when it comes to her walk with the Lord. She loves to talk with Jeff about the bible and would ask questions for hours. She also questions everything. Not just to be difficult, just because it is her. Because we have taken the time to get to know her, it becomes less frustrating to parent her and her needs. Whereas Maddie will pretty much do whatever you tell her because she is a people pleaser. Knowing that will help us teach her how to communicate her boundaries to others while using her strength of kindness to serve others.

Taking the time to know our children takes just that-time. Have you ever heard the saying that children need quality time not quantity time? I believe that you cannot have quality time without having quantity time. You cannot be an intentional parent without spending the time needed to really know these incredible gifts God has entrusted you with…God gave you your child because you are the perfect fit for him/her. God chose you to raise this child because He saw something in you that He knew would mold that child into the person He hopes that child will become. That is an unbelievable and overwhelming responsibility. I challenge you today to take the time needed to really know your child and parent to his/her bents.

Monday, August 2

Intentionality in Parenting

Today I wanted to share a few more thoughts from the book I am reading, Living with Less so Your Family has More by Jill Savage (in my last post, I shared some thoughts on this book). The second chapter is titled “Redefining More,” and Jill shares some ideas of what “more” looks like. One particular section stood out to me on parenting, and I thought it was worth sharing.

More energy and intentionality for parenting

Kids need more than a present parent; they need an intentional parent. And intentionality takes an enormous amount of energy. An intentional parent has a vision for how they want to see their grown-up children living their lives. The intentional parent makes deliberate decisions because of their farsightedness, their vision.

Both of us grew up in very different family environments. When we started our family, our expectations of what parenting should or should not look like created more conflict between us than we liked. It wasn’t until we took a parenting course through our church that we finally found ourselves sharing a vision for our family. No longer battling one another, we valued the same strategies and were working toward the same goals. The unity was refreshing and empowering.

When we’re stretched too thin, our parenting is negatively affected and we can sometimes unintentionally step into some ineffective parenting styles. Child-centered parenting often comes out of the guilt we experience when we have limited time with the child. We hate to take any time away from them either to take care of ourselves or to take care of our marriage. However, when our whole world revolves around our child, it’s not healthy for us or for them.

Permissive parenting happens when we lack the energy to be consistent. It also happens when we feel we have so little time with our kids that we hate to use that time to correct them. We overlook misbehavior in an effort to keep the peace and not ruin the moment.

Authoritarian parenting happens when we lack the time or emotional capacity to be patient, loving, and consistent in our direction and discipline. Authoritarian parents motivate with anger and produce obedience by fear. Because love feels conditional, children of authoritarian parents often equate success in school or sorts with love.

Children do need authority in their lives. Understanding boundaries and having those boundaries enforced contributes to their sense of security. Children thrive under authoritative-not authoritarian-parenting. This is when a parent develops a close and nurturing relationship with their children while keeping a balance of expectations, rules and guidelines. Authoritative parenting takes energy and intentionality and it is a “more” that every child needs.

I think I liked this section so much because it is a good reminder that parenting is hard and takes our energy. I need to be intentional about how I spend my time and energy each day so that I have enough to parent my children. After all I was the one who chose to have children in the first place.

I also really liked the ides of being intentional and looking at the big picture. I think that is the best way to parent…with the end in mind. (I think I need to add that while there are no guarantees in parenting, meaning that if I do all the right things my girls will turn out just the way I hope, I do believe it is my job to do the very best job I can with these little ones God has entrusted to me). I want to give my girls every advantage I can. I believe that is what God wants from each of us…to do our best with those gifts he has given us.

Wednesday, July 28

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking

As my children get older, I am becoming more aware of their little eyes...and how those eyes are observing and watching all day long. The things Samuel sees me do and then copies is incredible. And very scary.

Most of the time it's small things throughout the day. But as he gets older, those small things are going to get bigger and more important.

When I think about my kids at my age, I wonder what they will remember about their mom? What will they have seen and observed and copied? Will they recall a woman who was kind? Spoke words of wisdom? Filled with joy and laughter? Someone who took time to play? A parent who loved and listened and wiped tears away? 

The following poem expresses how I hope my kids will feel some challenges me in my role as a mom and reminds me that my kids are always looking!

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking,
I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator,
and I wanted to paint another one.

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking,
I saw you feed a stray cat,
and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking,
I saw you make my favorite cake for me,
and I knew that little things are special things.

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking,
I heard you say a prayer,
and I believed there is a God I could always talk to.

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking,
I felt you kiss me goodnight,
and I felt loved.

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking,
I saw tears come from your eyes,
and I learned that sometimes things hurt,
but it's all right to cry.

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking,
I saw that you cared and I wanted to be
everything that I could be.

~author unknown

Monday, July 26

Learning about my little people

I'm in a stage of life where I'm trying to learn all I can about the two little people that now live with me. Never before have my days been spent talking to, playing with, learning from, teaching, observing, disciplining, and caring for two little people.

I really have no idea what I'm doing most days.

Sometimes I wish I had a degree in early childhood development or elementary education. I want to know all the tips, tricks and ideas for teaching and training my little people.

That's why I am so very thankful for those who have gone before me.....and for all they teach me!

Every page I read, I think: "What a great idea!" Or, "I should try that!" Or, 'Why didn't I think of that?"

I look forward to implementing some of the things I am reading and discussing what I am learning with my husband. 

One strong message that I am receiving over and over again from the parenting books I'm reading is that action is more effective than words. As one book put it: "Words alone will not be effective in managing your child’s behavior. Instead use kind, firm action."

I'm a yeller. I grew up in a house where we yelled and it comes naturally. It's easier to yell from the kitchen sink, "Samuel don't dump out your milk!" than it is to walk over to the highchair, take the milk away and offer it again later.

Just like it takes practice for my little people to learn how to crawl, walk and talk, it's taking me practice to learn how to teach and train them. And I'm quickly realizing that to be the parent I want to be, I'm going to have to do a little changing.

What are your favorite parenting books? What is one lesson you have learned about raising little people that you think has been invaluable?

Please share, I'd love to learn from you!