Saturday, September 15, 2012

A-mama-teur Photography

Because everyone loves a pun, fabulously active children, and a new Canon dslr, right?  Well, I do. 

Retro sisters

Wrapped around her finger

"Say what, Ma?"

Flash mob (okay, flash duo) on the backyard hill

"The hills are alive with the sound of music..."


The fairest in the land (of all in our house)

Definitely looking forward to learning more about photography - and actually using my Canon.  I'm just glad to be able to turn it on!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Because you were created

Masterpieces come in all sizes.

Even Charlotte shares my desire to create, make, grow, repurpose, design.  I read once that we, as the children of God, find joy in being creative because our Creator's own hand shaped us, giving us a piece of His inspiration. 
One of the reasons that we homeschool is so that our children find both free expression and dynamic, guided experiences in art and extending their imaginations into the world around them.  As Charlotte + washable whiteboard markers + a homemade white board shows us in pictures here, inspiration doesn't need very much to be worthy of your follow-through.  Whether you want to design a building, a curriculum, a meal, or just leave your mark on a piece of paper - literally in a one-year-old's case - follow through with the spirit of creating that YOU were created in.  Make away!
A note: I've found that Crayola washable whiteboard markers are even more "washable" than regular washable markers, so these are a great way to allow your little ones to have free creative reign (they come right up off of my carpets, too, with just the help of a baby wipe...hey, whatever's on hand, right?).  Also, I created my own large whiteboards by purchasing a huge sheet (I can't remember the exact dimensions) of melamine (the thin, shiny kind - not the thick matte finish) at Home Depot for $13 and having them cut it into thirds.  Put some of that fun-patterned duct tape around the edges and you've got three great whiteboards for your home!

Monday, July 30, 2012

My Foul Mouth

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things."

{Philippians 4:8}

Frazzled doesn't even begin to describe it.  Bedraggled can't cut it. Insane is probably even a little too demure a word to describe the frenzied, harried, on-the-edge, about to throw something across the room (please, don't let it be my coffee!), tired, stressed, anxious, unsure, insecure, completely DONE state that I was living in.

A mother of three beautiful daughters, wife to a super handsome and loving husband, maker of a comfortable and pretty home in suburbia, and friend to many great ladies who make a gal both laugh and feel inspired.  I sure had a lot of problems.

Actually, just one big one.


It's always myself!  From the first time that I can ever recall feeling sinful (envious of a friend's cute red and white polka-dot dress at her first birthday party), it's always been about me.  I certainly had a great time at her party (Casey - it was your cute dress at Celebration Station...oh, to be young in Clifton Heights!) but I've never forgotten feeling that negative emotion at such a young age, and one that was entirely dependent upon my own weakness.  I'll always struggle with sin, as we all will, but I'll also always have Jesus to set me upright again and bring me through it.


That's whom I need to lay this post - these thoughts, these feelings - at the feet of.  I had become so exhausted by this fast-paced, full life of being a homeschooling mother to three young children that I'd let myself get into the habit of voicing too much of the negative and not enough of the positive things that were happening around me.  I'm a naturally optimistic person, but what good comes of having hope in Christ if we're only saving it up for sharing with others in the difficult times but complain, nag and berate ourselves in everyday circumstances?

A few months ago, I was blessed and honored and extremely ecstatic to be baptized at our wonderful church.  It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and for reasons that are God-filled but not fully explicable or understandable, it ushered in a new phase of deeper understanding and desire for Jesus.  I found myself experiencing a week of tremendous, untouchable peace.  As with all good things, the come and they go, and I allowed myself to return to chaos.  Almost a month ago, however, my husband was baptized at our church, as well, and his bright love for the Lord and enthusiasm just overflowed into everything around him and reminded me that there is absolutely no reason why I cannot continue to abide in the peace that Jesus has promised us while we walk in this crazy, messy, uncomfortable world.

I just had to ask Him for it.  I just had to be transformed.

It's been a a few weeks now, and I've dedicated my tongue to what is helpful, beautiful, positive, joyful.  I now understand that it's not only gossip that God warns us about when he says to mind our words, but it's about building up each other and ourselves.  Keeping our hearts trained on Jesus and receiving His blessing of peace is so much harder (and I believe almost impossible) if we allow our words to focus on negativity.  

"The spirit of the Eternal spoke to me, his word was on my tongue," said King David {2 Samuel  23:2}.  His word is on each of our tongues, flowing from each of our mouths, resonating from each of our hearts.

His Word overcame this world, and our words can continue to bring forth His peace.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tutu sweet

I'm a lover of cupcake centerpieces, and my children are lovers of dance.  AND cupcakes (they could take or leave the centerpiece nonsense).

Alice and Rose had a spectacular time in their dance recital this year!  It was Alice's first recital as part of her Creative Movement class, and it was Rose's second recital.  This year she took a Cheernastics class but has previously done Ballet and Tap as well as Creative Movement.  Next year she's taking a return to Ballet and Tap (I'm not convinced that the fun of having two different pairs of shoes to wear isn't the reason she's doing it...).

You'd think that this pose-striking was just a dance school-related thing...

One of my lovely little lassies at home after their performance (which Charlotte attended, too, of course, and actually enjoyed!).  We had all of the grandparents in attendance and then celebrated with pizza and cupcakes afterwards.  The tutu cupcake tier made everything more fun - just replicate my homemade tier with plates and glasses (I always do a homemade one) and use a bowl or canister as the base with a child's tutu skirt around it.

(Note about the cupcakes: My two fabulous friends, Meredith and Diane, actually made them for our other fabulous friend Katie's baby shower that we through the day before, so I cake-cycled a few and just added my own frosting.  I am acknowledging Mere and Diane for their cupcakery goodness, because these were simply too delish not to eat!!  And Alice ate some baby head toppers...more on that later...)

"Let us dance in the sun, wearing wildflowers in our hair..."
{Susan Polis Shutz}

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's an art birthday party!

{what's a goody table without a sign to announce it?}

Rose is six.  Six?!  That makes me...doesn't matter what that makes me (31 next week, shhh)...but it's still quite hard to believe that the little blue-eyed, peachy-fuzzed (for almost two years), darling bundle of baby girl is now counting her years on two hands.  Before I run upstairs and make her tell me that she'll always be my baby (which I never ever do), here are some of the highlights from her art birthday party!

How did I ever plan a party without Pinterest?  {Insert a swooning sigh here} Rice krispie treat paint brushes for favors - slip a popsicle stick into rice krispie treats and dip into melted chocolate.  We used red Wilton candy melts for some guests and then regular Hershey's milk chocolate chips for friends with peanut allergies (no nuts in processing the Hershey's, but always check the bag to be sure).

Painting homemade canvases and decorating wands were our two big art projects for the party.  

Can I just say how much I love, love, love, like LOVE, this homemade canvas idea?  I adapted it from something that I saw (guess where?) on Pinterest.  My husband brought me home enough 2x4 foot cardboard pallets from work so that each birthday party guest could have one.  I painted the perimeter with gold metallic paint, used a permanent marker to draw faux antique framing onto it, and then taped a piece from a roll of newsprint on the front for painting.

Some of our fabulous artists at work.  We had 17 children at the party, which included four absolutely adorable Michaelangel-babies!

There's one now!  {My Charlotte}

Rose is enamored with our local ice cream truck, so we booked it to show up while the gang was painting.  I don't think that our neighborhood has ever seen it BEFORE dinner or bed time!  Gotta love your friendly neighborhood ice cream truck!  We do!

She works with a variety of media.

Be-jeweling wands.  AC Moore had 10-packs of liquid glue sticks that were inexpensive and a must for this project!  

At the last minute I also cut a frame out of a leftover cardboard pallet for friends to pose in with a bunch of props that we had around the house.  Nothing's more adorable than a pom-pom headed horticulturally-inclined rabbit and her cool musician sidekick.  (And Katie in this picture isn't only one of my very best friends in the world but the most renowned art project guru mama that I know!  She's the ultimate themed party planner, too!)

Painter's palette of cupcakes

Illustrating Ephesians 2:10

My beautiful six-year-old, who is so incredibly blessed to have so many friends and family sharing in the joy of her birthday with her.  

"For we are God's masterpiece..." {Ephesians 2:10}

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Words to a young me

“To myself I am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me.”
{Isaac Newton}
Before I was married and became a mother, I yearned for an established life.  I wanted the solid shoulders of a family that I’d helped to create, not the vaporous breath of a girl waiting to be old enough, wise enough, ready enough to have those things.  I also had something else before I was married and became a mother.
Oodles of time to ponder just how much I wanted these things.
Again, I had oodles of time.  Oodles.  Not just seconds, not just lunch breaks, oodles.
Sure, sure, sure, I worked (I was a teacher) and I had friends, a boyfriend turned fiance (now handsome husband), and family.  There were things that I enjoyed doing, like keeping a teacher resource website, reading, going out to eat and shop.  As a passionate person who is frequently impassioned (because, yes, you can be both passionate and impassioned separately…one sometimes being far more preferable for those around you than the other) I simply cannot abide being in limbo.  The holding period between being a girl waiting for her life to start, albeit how cliche, and a woman whose responsibilities include a husband and three daughters was one of the more anxious periods of my life.
Ungrateful much?  Yep.
Now that I’m blogging at 11:36 pm, still dressed, with possibly terrible (three iced coffees today) breath, potentially little hope of brushing these teeth before midnight (currently attached to a very light sleeping baby), and stuck like a lazy contortionist in a position that said adorable baby and this laptop forced me into but aren’t very obligingly helping me out of, I understand the importance of appreciating each moment of your life.  There’s such beauty and such joy to be found in the waiting periods of life, in the lobbies that precede our years of momentum.  The strands of twelve months that fly by as a mother really whip past quickly.  I find myself wanting to pull these minutes around my body, wrap them closely against my skin and breathe them in.  I want to make every single second of my family’s life a part of me.
Is there anyone who really wants to make their waiting years a part of them?  Not so much.  Mostly we just want to conquer them.
Instead of labeling any period of our lives as the “before”, we should think of them as without any label.  They’re not periods; they’re just lives.  Some people don’t get to the after part.  Some people fly away to glory before they get to hold the baby that they were longing for, or even the man.  Their childhood dreams are never realized, and instead of seeing their youthful face in pictures as they reminisce in years that gallop by, they touch the face of their Savior with less years behind them than they ever intended.
Every moment is a blessing.  Every sunrise – every sun ray – is a gift.  His mercies are new each morning.
I’ll be thirty-one-years-old this July, and instead of feeling like I’m the true adult that being in your thirties certainly seems to indicate (apply that one to my husband, will ya?  Love you, honey!), I’m going to remember that the freshness of this day doesn’t lie in having achieved the life that I couldn’t wait to get.  It’s also not in the sparkle of this youth that I still possess or in the warmth of the knowledge that there’s prayerfully still so much life ahead of me, the twilight of its journey still so, so far from the shore.
This moment is from God, and it’s this moment that matters.
And I am so thankful to be striving to live a life where He is all that does.

By the brush

Painting by Rose

My mother-in-law was turning sixty in May, and the girls and I wanted to create something special for her.  As an elementary school librarian, I knew that she’d like something reminiscent of children’s literature, and as a grandmother something handmade by her granddaughters.
The big girls each chose a poem from the anthology Sing a Song of Popcorn and then a verse or two from it.  We talked about what a “design plan” is and they decided what they’d like to do with paint.  They put their wonderful ideas down on canvases, and then I stenciled their verses over top of their dried work.

Painting by Alice

These beautiful masterpieces were so much fun to make (even the two weeks of green paint on my kitchen floor that totally offers proof that having three kids for me is definitely a busy job!) and so hard to part with, but we were so happy to give my mother-in-law such enjoyably crafted gifts!