The Birthday Girl!

My precious baby girl turned 1 a few days ago! Oh how the year sped by.  It certainly was not an easy year, but she is such a delight.

She appears to be our second introvert and is very shy.  It has only been in recent weeks when she would willingly go to more people.  Keeping with tradition (here, and here), I made our petite little princess a birthday crown.  Greta’s name means ‘pearl’ and so it was only fitting that I incorporate some of those into her crown.  Those of you astute observers probably noticed the return of the gray felt that I used for the boys birthday shark fins…  I overestimated how much I needed and so Greta’s crown took shape from some of the surplus.  I’m quite pleased with the result and hope that she soon appreciates the work of art instead of focusing primarily on the forces of gravity! 🙂

Felt Birthday crown -

Food allergies are something new to me.  She is sensitive to so much…

I’ve had to refrain from dairy, eggs, oatmeal, Dijon mustard and peanuts.  Her poor system is so sensitive that when she clamored for a few bites of sweet potato two months ago, she ended up with nearly three weeks of green diarrhea.  I’ve heard that their gut matures with the arrival of teeth and I’m hoping that is true as she should get her first in the next couple of weeks.

While family still gathered to celebrate, she didn’t get to partake of much although I did sneak her a few bites of watermelon!  She loves her family and the beautiful outdoors, so she enjoyed herself despite her lack of table food.

This beautiful daughter of ours has reminded us of the need to pray and keep praying.  I’ve learned compassion as I have a new perspective towards families with food allergies and she has helped me gain the ability and confidence to cook around food allergies/intolerance’s that has come in handy as I’ve had opportunity to entertain families experiencing challenges even greater than these.

Happy Birthday sweet Greta.  I look forward to the years to come!

Related Post:
Greta: A Birth Story

Handmade Tradition, Passed On

I am slightly obsessed with making handmade gifts. There is something so fun about the creative process and then giving the results of your dreaming, planning and creating to someone…
This last Christmas, my boys were excited to join in.  My sister had sent me this link since she knew that Keegan had clay to work with.  We were inspired and the boys set to work wrapping fingers around clay and coaxing it into a variety of different shapes.  I couldn’t help myself, but ended up joining them in playing with the pliable clay and forming beautiful beads, poking holes in them with chopsticks and then gently placing on our cookie sheets to bake.
You would have thought a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies were baking with how eagerly they all sat around the oven…
Afterwards, the boys and I discussed placement of beads and strung them onto twine and then added ribbon.  Their hard work was rewarded by a very excited cousin on Christmas morning…
With those memories in mind, we are gathering ideas and looking forward to getting a jump start on gift-making this summer.
Do you or your children make homemade gifts?

Illustrating the Imagination.

We read.
…a lot.
So it would seem natural that my artist boy, especially, would want to undertake writing and illustrating his own.
Since it is so laborious for him to write at this point, I took his story down from dictation.  After deciphering how many pages we would need, I proceeded to cut and fold some card stock and running it through my sewing machine to ‘bind’ it together. 
The artist was very pleased with his book that was just waiting to be filled.  We printed his story and turned him loose with scissors, glue stick, colored pencils/markers and his imagination!

As a bonafide ‘author/illustrator’, he’s eager to write some more! 
He completed another book illustrating the animals of Mozambique for a Geography Fair we participated in recently.  I have to admit that I’m quite attached to it and got a tad bit emotional when he wanted to give it to my friend’s little girl who so graciously, along with her Nana, let us borrow some items from Mozambique for our display.

Inspiration to Organize?

There has been re-arranging and such in our front room.   As Xander gets older, we are merging the concept of playroom with, gasp, school room.
Although this isn’t a new problem, Rich mentioned the need to move our big filing cabinet from it’s place in the garage – collecting dust, to the front room.
Apparently, the stacks of ‘stuff’ has reached the limit of livability.  And for my super-flexible hubby, that is saying a lot…
As you can see, organization and general tidiness are not strengths of mine.  (Although black and white makes it look a little nicer, doesn’t it?)

So in that metal cabinet moved and since I didn’t like the idea of staring at an ugly metal cabinet, I set out to try and beautify it!
A couple of yards of fabric and joyfully wrapping my brain around figuring it out, we now have a slipcover with a flip-front to make for easy access to my files!  
Now I just need to start sorting and filing!  Hurray for clean counter tops!

An added bonus is that people now have a place to stash their bags and coats when they come over to our house!

Want to come visit?


In the interest of saving time and frustration (five year old boys only like to draw and write for so long), we scanned Xander’s Christmas card and thank-you note drawing for the extended family. 

He adored seeing his ‘artwork’ displayed on each card and then both boys willingly drew illustrations of gifts they had received inside each card.  It was fun to have them join me in the process of crafting thank-you letters! 🙂

As is par for the course, he’s still obsessed with pregnancy and chose to draw a picture of the trip to Bethleham with a ‘visibly’ pregnant Mary on the donkey.  He is also pretty enamored with drawing stars, both for their Christmas significance and in keeping with his favorite football team. 😉

Slime Management

One of the drawbacks of parenthood is getting slimed.  I’d be willing to guess that anyone living with toddlers knows EXACTLY what I’m talking about.
Some kids are worse than others in this department.  Middle son would fall in the ‘worse’ end.  He not only has used us for a tissue, but also my sofa’s, walls, carpet, etc…  (No hands involved.  Purely nose to surface contact for a big long swipe.)
Add to that the fact that when one child gets sick, it usually ends up making the rounds…
That is where my obsession with color coding has come in handy!
Enter the color-coded flannel hanky’s!

I took the boys to the fabric store and let them pick out fabrics and then cut out 12×12 squares and hemmed them.  It was easy and now the boys know that their slime only goes in their specific hanky.

And Keegan loves the hanky’s so much he now only swipes the sofa every once in a blue moon…

For the rest of our ‘germ prevention’ unit, check this out.

She Scores Again…

Boys are R.O.U.G.H on clothes.  I’m amazed at how quickly they go thru jeans.
Due to my obsession with re-using stuff whenever possible, but also having a penchant for asthetics, I am always on the look-out for a “cute” alternative to the boring plastic-y blue patches…  Last year, due to Xander’s obsession with football, I fashioned a football patch out of some brown corduroy.  It was a HUGE success.  Keegan fits those jeans this year and wants to wear them every single day.  So I decided to make another round of football patches.  Even Treyton, at 22 months, is obsessed.  He’s been running around all day pointing to his football patch!   (But then again, for the boy who said ‘football’ before ‘daddy’ I guess it really isn’t a huge surprise.)
I’m now ready to branch out and try some alternative shapes…   hopefully non-sports related.
In the meantime, football season is still in high gear and these boys of mine could not be happier with their patched-up jeans!

Handmade Christmas!

Tomorrow is ‘Christmas’ with my family as we’ll be leaving for St. Louis on Tuesday and I can’t wait to present our gifts to my little niece and nephew as well as our boys!

It’s a ‘mostly’ handmade year for gifts. 

Because our boys are such car fanatics, I made each of them a “car cozy”.  I found a fabulous tutorial here.  She graciously provided a tutorial even though she also sells them all made up in her etsy shop.   Jona over at Fabritopia is selling some great car fabric. 

I am so incredibly excited to give this to them on Monday so they can load it up with a few cars for our plane trip.  I have visions of peaceful and happy boys tooling around with their car cozy on the airplane trays…  Yup, I’m an optimist!   Heck, I had so much fun playing with cars while I snapped a few pictures, I’m sure my car-crazed littles will fall in love with them!

The boys actually spotted the fabric while I had it out to iron, so I let the older boys pick out their favorite fabric, but aside from that was able to construct them during naptime and away from curious eyes!

All rolled up and ready to be wrapped!

No child should miss out on the experience of bean bags.   They are a staple in our house – especially in the hot homebound summer months…  My little niece and nephew will receive these tomorrow:

And finally, after a year of trying to construct a pattern and putting it away in disgust, I was able to figure out how to recreate a gripper ball from one a friend lent me that her kids had played with 25 some odd years ago…  My little nephew, at 6.5 months, is definitely in the grabby stage, so I’m excited about seeing him play with this little thing!

I love that both of these projects required only small fabric scraps!  It’s a great way to use up remnants!
And I have the crafting bug again…  I’m already mapping out my next project.  Of course, I’ve told myself that I can’t try that until I complete the half-finished apron that I started last year.  I’m so pattern-impaired.  But I resolve to finish it!

Slowing Down…

Enjoying calm days at home this week doing a little of this:

Homemade playdough with green coloring, peppermint extract and glitter in honor of the holidays!  Easy on the eyes and smells like Christmas!

Still pondering how to make it work with 3 wannabe helpers…  Any tips?  There was quite a few shed tears and shoving as all four of us attempted to make playdough together.  This collection of playdough recipes/variations is a great place to start if you want to try something new!

Thankfully, playing with it went a lot smoother.

We’ve also been enjoying our beautiful weather.  The busyness of going mostly homemade this year for Christmas gifts has not deterred me from snatching some outdoor time myself.  I just take my work with me!

Road to Calvary

What a day of remembering…

Keegan enjoyed the Hot Cross Buns. I had no idea that these were a traditional Good Friday treat. In his 2 year old way, he is trying to understand what is happening. He kept saying,

“Cross, hurt.”
Over and over again. Baby steps…
Today, we read from The Picture Bible of the events leading up to the crucifixion: weeping as I read, in awe of God’s love for us…

I find that I am moved, even with the children’s books that cover what Christ did for us at Calvary.
We talked about the significance of today and put up another of the symbols on our Road to Calvary banner.
My mom had saved directions for making this banner and accompanying devotional. It is designed to start on Ash Wednesday and carry thru to Resurrection Sunday! Simply reading about church traditions during this season has been so faith building. It came from the book, Family Celebrations: Meeting Christ in Your Holidays.  Ann Hibbard, the author, has also published a book that has this and other Easter activities in the book, Family Celebrations at Easter.

I look forward to watching the boys growing understanding of the rich symbolism God laid out in the Bible pointing towards what Jesus would accomplish at the cross and the victory found in His resurrection!

Lastly, if any of you haven’t checked out Holy Experience, I highly recommend it. God has given her a way with words… I’m always freshly inspired to sit at the feet of Jesus, to receive His love and then love Him in return after spending time on her blog.

She has two ideas that I wouldn’t mind trying in the years to come for Easter. The Easter garden is beautiful and totally something that a young child would understand. Her Easter tree is gorgeous. I love the use of art to depict the Easter story. Sometime when my boys are much older, we might revisit this.

May you all have a wonderful Easter weekend, enjoying the presence of the One who suffered much so that we could be children of God!