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July 29, 2009

My Baby is One Today

Sniff. Sniff. Yep. I'm feeling verklempt. Can not believe my little Ella is a one year old today. A year ago, I succumbed to 23 hours of labor knowing the only thing getting this bun out of the oven was the Lord God Almighty who is so much more powerful then me. When the birthing canal began to feel like pushing a watermelon through a coffee straw, I must say I second guessed the 5 year quest for conception. I was truly thankful my first daughter came with zero stretch marks or pain. Her sister came with the very memorable epidural that just would not take.

But it is one year later and God implanted that little part of our memory where we develop "birthing amnesia." I believe this is mercy in its purest form. Because I promise you, I was done after my little Ella made her debut. I was a little shocked at the intensity of a baby's arrival in the world. It was described to me as excruciating but I don't think I actually paid attention as I should. I was not the girl saying that an epidural was for wimps. I was, in fact, the only girl in the birthing class saying, "Uh, heck yeah! Pump me full of body numbing meds." The polite looks I got made me realize I was of a very teeny minority. Poll those chicks now. Betcha they joined my camp when it came down to the wire.

OK. But its a year later. And we rejoice in that slow moving melon becoming a sweet little girl who laughs and giggles, waves bye bye, and says "Hi Daddy" (much to my chagrin). She is the joy of my heart. Both Cati and Ella were worth the long wait to have kids, the pain of childbirth, the uncertainty of fostering and adopting a child...all of it I would do ten times over if I had to to do it again. So as I see my baby on her way to becoming a toddler I thank God for a year of sweet memories. I am so happy she still lets me rock her to sleep. I love the smell of her after a bath as she cuddles into my neck. I love how she reaches milestones and gets so proud of herself. But what I am emotional about is that these sweet grandmas who admonish us with wisdom are so right. It really is fleeting. It goes right by and I wonder if I have taken for granted this precious time. This blink of an eye when they are children and they suddenly grow up. But I will not have regrets over what I can't change. I will press forward and remember I have been entrusted with these precious girls who are miraculous gifts. And that this past year was full of tough times and precious moments. And so wonderful.

Alrighty then. I have put my tissues down.

So the birthday party is upon us this Saturday and I have not been very good about posting pics of all I have done for the party. Um, I think 14 children are coming. May I ask what will I do with 14 children ranging from 2 to 4? Was I planning this in my right mind? Pray for me. No wait. Fast and pray. I need all I can get.

I promise to post pictures of the actual party but here are some other things I have done so far. Hope you like my homemade decor and favors created on the cheap...

This is the birthday bib I made for Ella. I used felt because again, I was going for frugal chic. Knew this was a one time deal so why not use cheap material to make something pretty cute. I used material and felt I already had and it cost me ZERO dollars to make. You gotta love that.

The flowers were not what I envisioned but I am still happy with the result. I planned on painting the inside of the bottles but did not want to invest the time. I decided to just use what I had. The bottle on the far left is just scrapbook paper rolled up in strips and dropped in there. Funky and functional. The middle bottle is just 3 different ribbons wrapped around the middle. The one on the right is pink tissue paper balls. Again, it turned out cute but not my initial vision.

The favors are M & M Cookie (dry ingredients) with spatulas tied to the side. I used plain old shipping labels with the text going vertically and some clip art that I colored with colored pencils. I only have a black and white printer since I used to have a resume writing business and got rid of our color printer. Um, so regret that. OK. This cost me more than anything else I did and I will never ever do this again. Here is the cost breakdown:

12 Wide Mouthed Mason Jar: Purchased at yard sale (brand new) $5
Shipping labels: $0
Spatulas: 4 for a $1= $3
Tags: $1
Ribbon: $2
Brown Sugar: $3
Other Ingredients: $0
M & M's: $17 (YIKES!)

Total Cost: $31.00

If I could do it over? Smartees in dollar store goody bags. Total Cost: $2-3

Happy Birthday sweet Ella!!! Cati too! (She is officially 3 in 2 weeks)

July 28, 2009

Two Tips Tuesday

I am launching "TwoTips Tuesday." I will lay out my very detailed plan...I will provide two tips every Tuesday. Genius, right?

I think it is funny that I assume I have good tips! (I really think I will, though) And I have bought into the quippy title trend for a weekly post. What a blog conformist I have become. But I think this will be fun since maybe my tips can be useful, utterly girly, or even parenting tips (not an expert here but offering up what has worked for me) or just things I have learned from many magazines and other fluffy research. Seriously, I do read a lot and I love learning anything that will make my life a bit simpler, a bit lovelier, and a bit more fun. Here goes...

Tip #1 Pamper Yourself: Make Your Own Homemade Scrub

2 Tablespoons of brown sugar
2 Tablespoons of honey
Juice of 1 lemon

Mix together and use as a scrub on a clean face.

This smells absolutely heavenly and it tastes good too! Just slosh it on to you face and have a lick. You will want to after you smell it. Really.

I actually love everything about home microdermabrasion kits. I like having smoother skin and a brown spot smack dab in the middle of my forehead has faded too! I have never tried the spa packages. I can't justify shelling out my already limited funds to have some girl with perfect, porcelain skin point out signs of aging and damage to my face and then proceed to sandpaper a layer of skin until its all angry & red. I mean is this not a masochistic method in our quest for beauty? My solution? Be a slave to vanity in the comfort of your own home.

I use it in the shower because it gets kinda messy. But I love how the honey softens the face and the brown sugar exfoliates. The lemon juice lightens red spots. I have sensitive skin but have not had an issue. Don't try it if you think it could be problem. But it is a great scrub for hands and feet too! A fabulous way for women to take 5 minutes and just do a little something extra for themselves.
Let me know if you try it and like it!

Tip #2 Values Chart for Kids

Now I must tell you that this chart irks me in that it is not pretty. I would love to make my own but function matters more here. Though I am ashamed to even include this photo I felt a visual was necessary to convey my "TIP" effectively.

This has been such a wonderful tool to help instill positive values in Cati. Ella is still young but I will do it for her soon! It has taught Cati social and communication skills while giving her something to be proud of.

I bought this dollar tree (love that place) chores chart and put it on the closet door where Cati can see it. With a dry erase marker, I listed "values" we wanted Cati to work on. I used upbeat wording (yes, positive reinforcement but I so don't want to sound like a poser child psychologist) for value topics like:

  • Sharing
  • Be Respectful
  • Tell the Truth
  • Have a Happy Heart
  • First Time Listening
  • Please & Thank You
Cati needs to earn 5 smiley faces for each category and if she does, she receives a "blessing." I call it that because I was afraid if I called it a reward, the behavior would be a means to an end rather then a heart issue for her. I did not want a toy or candy to be what she worked for. So the blessing could still be something tangible like a a dollar toy or a fun activity like going to the beach or spray park. I also call them values rather then goals because it helps me to maintain perspective that the value is more important then her filling up the chart with smileys. It is enabled her to have some of these values become second nature which is so rewarding for my heart. I am not saying this is exactly how these things should be taught but perhaps it will inspire some of you in ways that will work for your children.

Hope you like the very first 2 Tips Tuesday! I would love tips too! You could even be a guest blogger one Tuesday! Ooh ooh. The ideas just keep coming! See? I am now sucked into the vortex of blog marketing where I use fun little tools to see who actually reads my blog. So help me out and leave a comment. I confess they delight me more then they should so make me happy!

July 15, 2009

Pretty Blooms

Every time I try to do something creative, I start not knowing what I am doing. I have an idea that lacks specifics & it seems I work best when I am in the process of the project. This typically produces more "craft casualties" but in the end I am usually happy with the end result.
Here is the continuation of my birthday party planning for the girls. I share this because it would be my hope that I can inspire someone the way I am blown away by everyday people who can make such astoundingly beautiful things. Craft blogs are one of my frequent visits.

My latest creations are the fabric flowers I was talking about. Since the party theme is a "Make & Create" party, I wanted everything to be homemade. Including decorations. My plan is to have the table centerpiece be fabric and ribbon flowers, each one unique, in IBC soda bottles that are painted on the inside. So far, I have made these flowers. Now none of them represent a real flower type so I hope it is obvious they are flowers. (forgive the poor picture quality)...

Here is how I made them (um, no crafty tutorial here. Just the scoop). I wrapped cheapy pipe cleaners with fabric for the stems. I made the two poof thingys out of felt. They are so fun and happy! The circle flower is stuffed with a little bit of polyfil & centered with a fabric wrapped pom pom. The loopy looking flower is actually individual ribbons sewn around felt with fabric and a button in the middle. I really love how they turned out. They are not perfect which gives me a slight twitch in my left eye because I am a bit of a perfectionist. I am working on that.

I find it so fulfilling to use my creativity with thoughts of my girls as I make them. Not only is it economical but it builds lasting memories for them. Plus, you also get something EXACTLY the way you want it. I tend to get ideas in my head but I can never find something in stores to match the idea and then I begin to wish I had more sewing skills so that I could actually make my ideas come to life.

But guess what? I am about to get some sewing lessons with a friend of mine and I am so excited! AND THEY ARE FREE! I have a sewing machine feeling all lonely on a shelf in the storage room because I ignore it. It takes me 30 minutes just to thread the thing. I have resorted to hand sewing which takes me 2 weeks to do a project that probably should take 2 days. Maybe not even that long. So maybe I will improve my skills and have even more to show you!

OK. That's it for the party update.

July 9, 2009

My Spiffy New Header!

Phew! What an improvement from the last header, right? I felt like it was important to have a picture of the girls (hence the title of the blog) and I struggled to figure it out in order to do it myself. I had so much fun playing with it and this is what I finally came up with. Do you like?

I would love comments to hear your thoughts!

I knew the old one was going to be temporary but like I said before, I am soooooo the technology novice. Those of you who know me accept this little imperfection. To those of you who don't know me, here is the scoop...

I do not have cable so I have no clue what has been on television for the last 2 years. I own one of those cell phones where you pay for a certain amount of minutes and at the end of the month, it is time to reload. So, ok I have no idea where that thing is, no clue what even one of the seven digits are in the phone number, and that thing always loses minutes before I can use them. I don't listen to CD's in my car and the ones at home play itsy bitsy spider and B-I-N-G-O.

But being a "nerd who's behind the times" has its perks. I spend lots of time with my family. I get to tinker with all my creative ideas (which can be a quiet obsession for me). I read a lot. Wish it was the bible more and I console myself that I read Christian fiction. But let's face it. I am reading about fake Christian people who seem to always know how to live the life I think I should be living.

Hey. Let's examine that.

Do they ever have their babies sitting in a pool of pea soup? No. Wait...that would be diarrhea...and playing in it by spreading it all around her immediate vicinity? Do they have babies who have all 4 molars coming in at the same time and refusing to eat? What about a daughter who fights me for about an hour each day to nap or go to bed? Or do they struggle with my consistent predicament of being born with what I like to call "a back with a crack" because I have no butt and all my pants fall right down despite what the scale says? Because this is my life. That was my life today, actually.

But I am grateful for this life and I am grateful that my girls are my girls. I don't need modern technology to entertain me nor do I feel the need to be up on all the latest toys. Because I have what I need. Not always what I want but I am trying to be thankful and teaching my girls the same thing. I could really do without the pea soup diapers, though.

And even if my pants fall down, they are usually cute pants. Plus, as they fall down they set free my muffin top. See? Always something to be thankful for.

July 5, 2009

First Day of Blogging!!

Um, why did I think this was so daunting? Or even a big deal? I even asked myself, "Do I announce it to all my contacts in my address book? My friends on facebook? Take out an ad in the paper? What? Why did I have all this intense anxiety about some huge build up to this blog? I have stressed about what the focus should be, how it should look, what on earth html codes are, who will read it, blah, blah, blah. And here is what answers I have for those questions...

Whatever I want to focus on for that particular day
Pretty, girly and so very long as it's free.
I don't know except copy and paste whenever it tells me to.
Maybe only me.

And I found peace.

Now I realize I just want to have a way to share (and sometimes vent) my life. A spewing you might say. Because I am learning that one can implode with no outlet. I am also rather eclectic with my interests so I decided that a blog could smoosh them all together in one semi-cohesive place. So this is me...

  • Happy wife with two fabulous girls who will probably be all I write about!

  • A teacher at heart who loves to encourage others sharing lessons learned through daily life.

  • A Christian believing an incredibly loving King is very funny in how He orchestrates her world.

  • Very average crafter who is self taught in all areas. I like making useful things or pretty things...I fail frequently but I keep improving. (I have happy successes too)

  • Incredibly obsessed with order. It's a sickness.

  • Typically deal with stress through humor. I will self destruct otherwise.

  • Needs coffee to function.

  • Attempts to be transparent because NO ONE has it all together. I'm close, though.

That's me. I am an everyday person with something to say and happy to have a place to say it.

One more thing...I am not done with the layout of this blog. Trying to figure out all this computer stuff and too poor to pay someone to do it for me.

Now imagine a really spectacular signature right here because obviously I don't have one.