Wednesday, February 29, 2012

incase you find yourself in need of a time out

Last week when my sister dropped by for an impromptu visit, she found herself standing outside on our front porch, talking to her nieces through the window because mommy was no where to be found.
One of the rules at our house is no unlocking doors under ANY circumstances without permission from Will or I (even if you know the person knocking at the door). So my poor sister, bless her heart, stood outside for a good five minutes before I came out of hiding and realized that she was standing on the porch, patiently waiting for me to come let her in the house.

(the scene looked a little something like this, except the girls are about a year and a half too young in this picture)

We were having one of those days and I had locked myself in my bathroom for a brief respite to regain my sanity (and to use the facilities alone, in private, without an audience.)
ummm, yeah.
Talk about feeling like mom of the year.
Luckily it was just my sister and not a policeman or DSS. And yes, that honestly was the first time I've ever done that (really, what are the odds?)

But all joking aside, this mothering gig is hard work.

At some point during most days, I deal with something that looks a little like this:

or this:

Boundaries are tested and mischief is usually chosen over common sense.


Oh wait, children aren't born with common sense. They have to do things like color on the wall to learn that we aren't actually suppose to color on the wall.


And at these moments when I find myself most frustrated and wanting to loose my temper, I have to take a time out and remember what my purpose is in this calling of motherhood, and how to discipline in love and patience instead of out of frustration and anger.

In Mission of Motherhood, Sally Clarkson writes that
The purpose of training our children is not to force them to do what we want. The purpose is not to produce guilt or shame but to free our children to enjoy the fruit of mature living. This means that training should always be exercised in gentleness, along with love and patience.
The wise mother takes the time to correct her children over and over again so they can experience the peace and freedom of knowing how to govern their lives in such a way as to be mature, wise, and at peace with God.

Ahhh, yes. Good words to hear.
Words in a book that I've read about four times already, but somehow still forget to apply in my daily walk as a mother.

Accountability and Community are so so very important in this season of life.
Somehow the craziness that comes with never getting a full nights' sleep and the responsilibty of raising a selfish little person into a loving responsible adult is a little easier to endure when you have friends to walk alongside who can completely relate to your situation.

"Oh, honey, locking yourself in the bathroom isn't crazy. Did I ever tell you about the time I forgot my son at Publix and didn't realize it until I got home?"

"Sarah Mae went through the same phase when she was two and now you would never know that she used to sneak dog food for a snack."

"I can't carry on a coherent conversation with another adult either unless it involves nursing schedules, teething, and diaper rash cream."

We need a wiser voice training us, encouraging us, and reminding us of the beauty in this responsibility that the Lord has placed in our hands.

This past year, I have had the privilege of working alongside some incredibly amazing women who share a joy in mothering their little ones. On Wednesday mornings, we gather together with about forty other moms for a little something called Time Out. The whys and hows of how God brought this ministry into being are not important right now, although it is something I'd love to share if I can find the right words, because it makes me smile every time I think about His goodness and grace in bringing us together.

Each Wednesday morning we get together for a couple of hours to fellowship and listen to a sweet friend share some encouragement that the Lord has laid on her heart. We then get to break out into small groups to share life with each other, sharing our struggles as we encourage and pray for one another.

I share all of this with you because this semester, we have been able to record Brenda's talks from Wednesday morning's Time Out sessions. She is like our very own Beth Moore (hehe..she'd die if she knew I said that!) but she is blessed with the talent of teaching and her words encourage me each week. If you find yourself in need of a mommy time out of your own, you can click on the picture below and it will take you to the talks she has given so far this semester.

But I have to warn you... they are good! Really good and you'll find yourself challenged to grow to be a better wife and mom.

This picture is from our first session in January, and yes, she is wearing a fruit loop necklace and a bandoleer of string cheese. You'll just have to listen to the talk to find out why!

Hope her words will lift you up and encourage you as you move through your days as a mama!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

little love necklace

We usually don't give big valentine's around here, but I like to have something sweet and thoughtful for the girls to find at their place at the breakfast table on valentine's day. Both girlies are very into wearing jewelry right now, but there isn't much that is made for children that doesn't sport a huge hello kitty, disney princess, or isn't completely gaudy.

When I saw this tutorial for felt hearts, I knew I had found the perfect inspiration for a little necklace for the girls. I didn't take pictures for a tutorial, but this was the end result:


Very sweet!
I think you could easily adapt the idea to make a precious strawberry necklace for summer or a cupcake with beads for sprinkles. With wool felt, the possibilities are endless! :)

I already had the felt and embroidery floss in my craft supplies, so I only needed to buy the actual necklace to put the charm on. I found it in Wal-mart's craft section and it came as one long 80 inch strand with four clasps included. Just cut the strand down to the size you need and attach the clasps.
The flower was stitched onto the heart using tiny french knots, before I sewed the heart together and stuffed it with a little fluff.
Needless to say, the girls LOVE their new necklaces and I love that our morning's are now battle free over what jewelry I'll let them wear out of the house.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Growing in Grace

She holds the tiny plastic cup with both hands as she proudly shows off her victory garden. Her class, all six of those little fours, spent the morning exploring what life was like on the home front during WWII. Their activity that day was planting green beans to represent the victory gardens that so many people relied on during those long war years to sustain themselves, both heart and stomach.


I peer down into the dirt, but all I can see are three shriveled brown beans buried deep in a discarded plastic yogurt cup.

My teacher says we just have to water it and the plant will start to grow.

I am doubtful.

But she is eager with excitement, so she floods the cup from the faucet. We pick a sunny spot on the kitchen window sill and wait with guarded anticipation.


She is impatient.

It has become her little life's goal to see this plant grow and produce beans of its own.

But how will the seed know what to do?

How will it know it is suppose to come up out of the dirt and grow up tall?

All day long, all these questions. The whys and the hows of life? I struggle to condense biology into the language of a four year old and wonder why don't they teach you this sort of thing in the parenting class at the hospital when you are so blissfully round and ignorant as to what lies ahead?

Because in each tiny seed, God puts all that little seed needs to know how to grow inside. When the season is right in the spring time, the weather warms from the sun and the rains fall to the earth, God whispers "now" and all the little seeds hidden in the earth start to grow.

Oh, she says, like magic.

Well, I struggle, sort of like magic, except that magic isn't real, but His power is.

He is mighty like that. He can fit a world of wisdom into a tiny little space.


It doesn't take long. On morning three, we wake to find a white curl emerging from the dark earth.

This thing that is breaking free from the brown, shriveled hull in which it has lived for so long looks unrecognizable.

She is esctactic and I am amazed at how quickly this plant is growing up strong. Each morning we wake to find it taller and bending toward the sunlight.

It doesn't hit me until a week later, while I'm outside walking in search of a clearer head, the only few moments of the day that are all quiet and mine:

The same manner in which He calls to life the beans and flowers and trees is the same way He breathes life into our hearts.

The soil and the sun and the rain, it is all so familiar.

When we stand alone in the sun of His glory and holiness, the against the Law, we shrivel and die. All that He has spoken in our hearts, the little seeds that lie dormant in the dirt, are worthless without the rain. We do not stand a chance in the sun without the Son, the grace rain that washes down and floods us with mercy. It is actually the grace that enables us to grow, not the law we struggle to keep or the perfection we seek to attain by our own merits.

I am reminded that all of my stunted growth and frustration at lack of fruit can't be fixed by trying harder, but by resting in grace. If grace rain is what awakens and stirs the seeds faith to growth, then why can't I truly believe once and for all that:

He said to me, (to ME!) "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

I long to plant a victory garden of my own. I've been tilling and weeding and working hard in the sun.

I find it hard to accept the grace without perfection to offer up on my end.

But there is my mistake, in the work and not the rest. I will choose to grow by resting in the work that has already been done by the Son instead of straining so hard in the sun.

The hard part has been already been accomplished. I am only called to rest in Him and watch His "magic" stir these seeds to grow in grace. So I will offer up my weaknesses and a lifetime of thanksgiving and watch in awe as He produces a victory garden in my very own discarded plastic yogurt cup.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

january in february

Here we are half way through February and I'm just now finding the time to share all that we did in January. It was a very full month!

The sewing workshops geared back up and I had a blast getting to know some more blog readers who came to get their stitch on! :) It is so funny to meet people who live right here (like literally minutes away from me) who I've never met before, but made connections about things we share in common, including friends we both know.


And I always love seeing what fabric each person brings. I get so many ideas for cute fabric combos for dresses and clothes for the girls based on the inspiration from what others find and bring with them. It is funny, but you can pretty much guess a person's personality type by the type of fabric they bring to the workshop with them. I always have somebody who is super trendy and another who is very preppy traditional. But all of them precious and so fun to hang out with for a few hours on a Saturday morning.


This past month I turned my sewing room into a doll factory, as I'm learning the beauty and efficiency of fabricating in bulk. It is 10 times easier to make a doll when I've got all of the pieces already cut out and ready to be sewn. I'm currently raising money for an upcoming trip (more on that soon) so I hope to have more dolls ready in the near future as a sort of fundraiser.


I finished up these books...oh these books! I can not wait to pick them back up and start all over again. I'm forcing myself to wait until at least this Thanksgiving before re-reading them. They were a seredipitous find at Goodwill. Did you know that you can actually find great reads at thrift stores? Many of them are brand new too. Not these, but they were only a $1 and almost made a full set. I already had book #2, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, so now I have the complete collection. How in this world I ever made it through childhood without reading it I do not know. In all honesty, a book about a beastly zoo animal, a lady with a black pointy hat and a piece of bedroom furniture did not sound all that appealing at the time.


I couldn't have been more wrong. It makes me wonder what else is out there that I'm completely missing out on?? I devoured these books. DEVOURED. I bought them the week of Thanksgiving and finished the last one the first week of January. Seriously. That good.
The Lord ministered to me more through this series of juvenile fiction than anything else I read this entire past year. I realized half way through The Magacian's Nephew why I was so engrossed by them. Having grown up in the church, I can't ever remember learning about Adam and Eve, or Noah, or the Creation. These stories were always just a "given" but when Lewis writes, you get to hear the Truth with a fresh set of ears. Does that make sense? Oh I could go on and on, but I'll just say that they come highly recommended and leave it at that.

Moving on, we were invited to one of the most precious birthday parties for a sweet little friend who belongs to one of my best friends from long ago. :) You have no idea how much I love this picture and that the fact that I get to watch my daughters celebrating the birthday of one my friend's daughters.


And what a precious little thing she is! Just like a little china doll.


Ava had a princess birthday party and we got to come dressed up as a princess! There is no better way to spend a Saturday morning with a 4 and 2 year old than to dress up like a princess and make flower wands and play Kiss the Frog Prince.


This was how Caroline sang Happy Birthday to the birthday girl.
I think she got a little confused. ;)


what a stinker!

January's weather felt like spring so we spent most every afternoon outside. Thank you, January, for a brief respite from the grey and cold!


We got to plant some cheery flowers ...


... and have quite a few outdoor tea parties in our playhouse that still needs to be painted.


Will's job was to build it and mine was to paint it. oops! Need to check that off my to do list before spring so I can plant some hydrangeas around the outside of the playhouse porch.



On the days that it has been cold, we've been busy inside building forts,


"swimming" in the tub,


and enjoying play dates with friends.


It makes me so happy to have my house filled with the sounds of little girls' play. This is one of the things I will miss most about this stage of the girls being this age. The mornings with friends filled with the giggles of playing dress up, tea party, and baby dolls.


And last is this random picture of Caroline's that marks a major milestone for her. :) She drew a picture of me the other morning that actually resembled a person! I think I've been completely "mommified" because I was SO PROUD of her drawing and displayed it up on the fridge for everyone to admire. I can remember seeing stuff like this in my teens as a babysitter thinking, yeah, big deal, so the child can draw a stick figure and his parent thinks he is a genius.
But now I have officially become "that parent"

and guess what? I don't even care.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

hearts, glitter, and sprinkled marshmallows on a stick

Seeing as Valentine's day is just a day away, we'll skip over all I've missed the past few weeks and talk about all things pink and red for today. Maybe I'll find time to sneak the rest of January in before we get much further into February...


Friday afternoon we transformed our kitchen table into a Hallmark card studio and busied ourselves with glitter, paper, glue, and scissors. We had quite a few cards to make and I was tickled at the different designs the girls came up with all on their own! See that heart ladybug down below? Completely all Anna Cate's idea! :) and I love Caroline's glitter splattered heart proudly sitting next to it.


We also picked up some fun sprinkles at Target and a bag of giant marshmallows at Wal-mart to try something I had pinned on Pinterest for Anna Cate to take to school on Tuesday for her classmates when they exchange valentines.


If you are still looking for an idea, try this one because they came together so quickly and easily, and the end result is so fun and cute!


:: Stick a jumbo marshmallow on a lollipop stick
:: Melt chocolate chips and a small dollop of Crisco (to make it shiny) in the microwave
:: Dip 1/2 of marshmallows in chocolate
:: Sprinkle with some colorful "confetti"


My taste testers tell me they are as yummy as they are cute!
(And after the chocolate has dried, you can bag them individually in little celophane bags found in the party planning section at wal-mart.)


We've also been enjoying some Valentine Bingo with a freebie printable I found on One Charming Party. We've been using conversation hearts as our game pieces and it has been a big hit with the girls (as well as great practice reviewing our numbers from 1 to 25!)


And for those of you who have inquired about dolls, I have an update! I know I promised another batch for Valentine's day. I made 18 and sold them all last week to the people who were still on the waiting list from the first batch in December. I didn't even get a chance to put them up for sale here before they were all sold. I'm already working on another batch so if you are interested, please contact me and I'll add your name to the list too to receive the e-mail notifying you when they are ready! (
As a random side-note, I made my first doll to give Anna Cate on her first Valentine's day and I can not believe that was four years ago.

Hope you have fun celebrating all of the loves in your life tomorrow!