Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wordless Wednesday


Thursday, May 15, 2014

20 Bits of Advice for Moms

Having just celebrated Mother's Day, I have been reflecting a lot this week on what I have experienced and learned in the 11 years I have been a mom. Eleven years, 3 kids, 7 months of bed rest, 3 premature births, 3 maternity leaves, 18 birthday parties, 10 years of paying for daycare, thousands of photos, 1 mini van, 2 pair of tap shoes, 1 pair of ballet slippers, 4 pairs of soccer shoes, 2 sets of ear tubes, 1 trumpet, many sleepless nights, tons of snuggles, hugs, and kisses, and 11 years of more love that I ever imagined I could give or receive! So here's my advice....remember, it is MY advice from my own experiences. Your life may have different factors that may result in you having different advice as a mom.


Mother's Day 2014
1. If someone offers to help - your mother, mother-in-law, friend, neighbor, etc. - LET THEM! Chances are, they are not finding fault with you or how you are handling things, they truly want to help. I used to be one of those people....if someone said, "Call me if you need...." or "Let me know if I can help with...." and I'd smile and thank them but never take them up on that offer. Not now. If someone offers to help, I will sincerely say, "thank you" and THEN I'LL CALL THEM IF I NEED TO!!! It takes a village, people, it takes a village!

2. Create a Mom Cave and hide in it when necessary! It is ABSOLUTELY necessary to break away sometimes. I have created an isolated little corner of my bedroom that is quiet, calming, and tucked away from the rest of the house. Sure, they find me, but at least it is a spot that I can call mine and when I'm lucky, I can enjoy it alone for a little while. If I go into "emergency mama meltdown mode," I hide in the bottom of my closet. That's only in severe cases though!

3. Tell your child how amazing he or she is! The world is cruel, people are mean, life is hard sometimes. Before they begin to hear from others what they are doing wrong or discovering what they are not good at, help them to know they can be anything they want to be and that you are proud of them! Be their biggest fan!

4. Choose your words carefully - they hear you and they will repeat! Enough said.

5. When your child is talking, look them in the eye and really listen to what they are saying. It may be the 14th time that day that your child is telling you about their imaginary horse, Lightning. You may be sick of talking about the silly horse that you can't see anyway. But to them, Lighting is important. What they tell you is important to them - right then, right there, at this moment in their little life. If you don't listen to them talk about the important things in their life right now, they may not feel they can talk to you about the important things later - as they grow older.

6. Trust your motherly instinct. It will usually be right! I am amazed (and a little freaked out) at how my motherly instinct has been right in the past. Don't underestimate it!

7. Don't cry over spilled milk! Spilled milk, stained carpet, worn out couch, a broken lamp, toys left out...it is temporary. Before we know it, they will leave and then we can take our houses back. For now, keep things in perspective and try not to sweat the small stuff! (Whoa. Who just said that? Did that come from ME?)

8.Love their daddy and be committed to him! Tell your children you love them every day but also, let them hear you tell their daddy that too! Invest in your marriage by finding a great babysitter that allows you to comfortably make time alone together. Teach them that they can not interrupt when you are having a conversation. Tell that that daddy is your BFF and remind them how fun it is to spend time with your BFF! Pray together and let them know you are praying together, praying for THEM together. Let them see you hug and kiss. Hold hands and let them hear you compliment their daddy.

9. Don't let your child get away with, "But everybody else's mom lets them ________" You are not everybody else's mom. Stand your ground.

10. Don't stress over potty training. It'll happen. No one ever left for college wearing a Huggie's Pull-up!

11. Don't let them wear you down with their begging. If you've already said, "no" and they continue to beg, stop, look them right in the eye and say, "Do I look like the kind of mother who is going to change my mind because you're begging?" Absolutely not. My nephews know that if they beg their mom (my sister) then the answer is automatically "no."

12. Have an open mind and truly consider their interests. If your child comes home excited to join the soccer team and neither you nor your husband know the first thing about soccer, it's okay. If this is an interest they really want to pursue, give it a try. You never know. Just because it wasn't right for you, doesn't mean it is not right for them.

13. Choose your battles wisely. It is not worth the energy to argue about him wearing his Spiderman costume (mask and all) to the grocery store. Sure, that's not what you'd have chosen for him but allowing your child to make his or her own choices is part of raising an independent, confident child.

14. Be your child's advocate. We are all different. We are all unique. Get to know your child's strengths and weaknesses. Know what tricks work and don't work for your child whether it comes to their education, their health, or their behavior. Get to know your child's teacher, day care provider, or coach. Get involved. Communicate openly and often with the adults in your child's life. Communicate joys, as well as concerns, and make the adults in your child's life know that, when it comes to your child, you are always available to talk. Write things down and refer to them later if need be. Above all else, remember that YOU are the parent. It is the parent(s) who makes big decisions for their child. You can always get your child's opinion/requests/input but it should be you that makes decisions. And, also, refer back to #6 - trust your instinct!

15. Remember it doesn't take much to impress them! I am guilty of over-thinking details to make Christmas magical, and I'm guilty of planning lavish birthday parties but...really, they are so easily impressed. Think of how excited a young child gets over blowing bubbles and popping them! How about trinkets from the dollar store? The way baking soda and vinegar make fizz! Really. It takes VERY LITTLE to impress them!

16. Sing REALLY LOUD! This is a clever little trick I've come up with just in the past couple years. I find myself using this mommy survival technique a lot on hectic mornings when we are hustling to get out the door. If they are all trying to talk all at once, crying, yelling, laying on the floor kicking their feet and screaming - just sing. SING LOUD! I sing old hymns. In stressful times like these, it helps. It draws me closer to God and it confuses the children.Win/Win situation! They always end up quieting down apparently because they wonder what the heck is happening to mama. Ha!

17. Go outside! Kids always want to go outside - rain, snow, sleet, or hail - they will want to go outside! Say "yes" as often as you can! And go with them! Chances are you will find the daylight and fresh air to be therapeutic and rejuvenating. Just last Friday, I experienced this. I was home with the two little ones (3 and 5) while daddy and big brother were gone. After a full week of being an elementary teacher and a mom, meeting everyone's needs, and rushing from one appointment/practice/meeting to another, I was pooped! The kids were tired too. They were whining and demanding and truthfully, I just wanted to send them to bed and veg out on the couch. I hadn't exercised that day and the kids wanted some fun plans but it was getting late. I finally said, "I know! Let's take baths and get in our jammies. Then we can go for a walk and I'll pull you in the wagon." They thought it was a splendid idea and were cooperative for baths and PJs. It was late, but the air was still warm. I pulled them in the wagon for a mile and a half. We saw some wildlife, heard tons of birds chirping, talked about the moon that was already in the sky....it was lovely. It was like rocking them to sleep. All three of us were just soothed by that walk. When we got back, I easily put them to bed and then guess what?!?! I DID GET TO SIT ON THE COUCH AND WATCH A MOVIE!!! That hardly ever happens!

18. Tell stories about when you were a kid. My kids LOVE hearing stories about when mom and dad were kids. They almost prefer those stories over having a book read to them. It's nice for them to imagine mom and dad being little too. They love to know that lots of the things they do and like are the things you enjoyed when you were their age too.

19. Go on dates with your kids. Every once in a while, we will plan a special mommy/kid day. I will take one of the kids and dedicate some time to focus on just them. Claire and I like to go shopping, get our nails done, or stay home alone together baking. The boys like to go out to eat, go on a bike ride alone together, or go see a movie. Our youngest, Oliver, is just happy to be home alone with mom or dad and play tractors together. Some of the very best, most important, memorable conversations I have ever had with my kids have happened while we were on our special mommy/kid dates! Find some time to spend with each child alone. It is so rewarding and they feel so special!

20. Teach this:  Jesus Loves You and So Do I. Our oldest son, Hugh, was born at just 24 gestation. He spent 115 days in the hospital before we were able to bring him home. And do you know one of the first things the NICU nurses did? They taught him to suck on a pacifier. If he was upset, my voice or my hands just laying gently but firmly over his tiny body, could calm him down. But I couldn't always be at the hospital to do that when he was upset. The nurses had lots of other babies to take care of too, and therefore, they couldn't always be available to soothe him when he was fussing. They wanted him to like his pacifier so he could learn to soothe himself at times. I feel like teaching your child that Jesus loves them is very similar to a newborn having a pacifier. They know that, as their mama, they can come to you when they need some love. We can't be there for them every moment of the day though, especially as they get older. Teach them that in times of trouble, sadness, fear, pain, etc. that they have a Heavenly Father who is always there for them no matter what situation they are in. Teach them that they can pray about anything and everything, and that God loves them and is looking out for them at all times. Help them learn how God's never-ending love can soothe them even when you can't be there.



There is no job that is more rewarding, challenging, exhausting or exhilarating as being a mom. Enjoy every moment! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Shabby Chic Craft Show Display

I shared with you recently how I have begun making jewelry. I named my little business, "Sister-Dipity Designs" to go along with my blog-sweet-blog here! I SO enjoy creating beautiful things! I NEED to create beautiful things! Having a creative outlet helps me to be a better wife, mom, teacher, sister, daughter, housekeeper, etc.
It feeds my soul, I tell ya!
 
It became clear that my jewelry making addiction hobby was going to provide me and my little Claire (5) with a plethora of beautiful items to wear but.....we certainly don't need to keep them all. My Facebook shop along with local orders have kept me busy, but I decided to take my show on the road! With the support of my amazing, loving husband, I made my public debut of Sister-Dipity Designs last weekend by attending the Birch Run Mom2Mom Sale. I am told it is the largest Mom2Mom sale in the state of Michigan. They only allow a handful of "handmade"sellers and you have to register well ahead of time to have a chance to be accepted! I got the confirmation email, and I was in! I thought I'd share some pictures of my booth with you! I LOVE how it turned out!
I purchased several old crates at the local antique store and from a junk treasure dealer! I used them to add height to the display and to add function as they held cup hooks and S hooks for displaying the necklaces.
 
I purchased the mannequin/bust from Country Door. I really wanted one to be able to display my longer pieces. The ladder is the top of a ladder I had bought for my bedroom. See HERE. I had wanted the ladder to fit perfectly from my floor to ceiling so my husband cut the extra length to shorten it. This is the "extra" he cut off. I was so thrilled to be able to put it to use! It worked great for this purpose and fit right in with my whole "shabby-chic" display!
 
That big tablecloth is a photography backdrop. I actually used it the day before to take photos of my niece and cousin's little girl too! It fit this 8 foot table P E R F E C T L Y!
 See that turquoise table mirror? I purchased it for $15.00 from Country Door too. I actually did have a couple customers who tried the necklaces on and used the mirror to check length. The red finial was a Hobby Lobby purchase long ago. It also worked good for a couple longer necklaces. The red thing next to it is a candle holder that I repainted and roughed up a bit. It worked great as a holder too. Again, these two red things added height and visual interest. You can see my red chevron table runner across the table cloth. This was a purchase last year from GroopDealz, I believe. I sure have used it a lot!
Gosh! I didn't realize this picture was so blurry until now! Sorry 'bout that, folks!
Anywhooo...in the upper left hand corner you can see my old red toolbox insert. It worked great for holding some of the chunky bead necklaces I had made for little ladies! 
 
I purchased several necklace display stands and one bracelet stand from Walmart for about $6.00 each and from a shop on eBay for about the same price. It was nice to be able to showcase a few of the items this way. The turquoise tray in the center of this photo was also a Hobby Lobby purchase from a year or two ago.
 
The print in the red frame says, "I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls." This is a quote from Audrey Hepburn. I have always loved this quote. I ordered the print from this Etsy shop, Honeypixels.I had considered just making one and printing it myself, but I have had some printer issues recently so I thought, "what the heck!" and just went ahead and ordered it! I'm so glad I did! The paper it is printed on is such high quality paper! And the ink is vibrant and flawless! I love it! The frame was just an old, cheap frame that I spray painted red quite a few months ago! I loved the whole turquoise-with-red-look I had going here!
 
I had one man walk by my table and linger longer than his wife who had moved on. (Picture it - This was a man probably in his 60s with a white beard walking a few steps behind his wife.) He kept standing there looking at everything....I smiled at him. He smiled back. Eventually he said, "I like your display! (with hands gesturing to it all) I love how you used the crates and the ladder....and the colors!" :)
 Ha! Love it!
 
The first hour of the sale I was a bit nervous...not much happenin' but then the second hour.....Well, things really picked up! So much so that I can easily use the word "swamped" there for a while. Whew! I felt I couldn't answer questions, wrap and bag items, or make change fast enough. I would definitely say the sale was a success! So glad I went! And a HUGE shout-out to my hubby who insisted on going with me! What a man! He hauled everything in for me. He hauled everything out when the sale was over. Each time a customer came near the table, he hopped up, said "hello" and began helping them make a selection! Really, he did! My sports-loving, hunting, fishing, manly-man sold my beautiful necklaces like a regular 'ol salesman! SO in love with that guy! I took a picture of him there too but he insisted I not share it with the world. He's gotta draw the line somewhere!
 
This mom2mom sale does not allow any signs promoting a business so I did not use my banner. I did, however, give out lots of business cards! I have had a couple custom orders since the sale, and I have had more and more visits to my Facebook page since then as well! 
Here is a picture of my banner...
 
(Not the greatest picture! Sorry about that!)
 
I told my husband afterwards that even though the sale was fun and a success, still....my favorite part is creating! I suggested maybe he be in charge of sales and I'll just sit at my little table with the window open and the birds singing, drinking my hazelnut coffee, making pretty things! Ahhh...
 
"What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit."
-John Updike


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fairy Gardens

Happy April!!
 
We are just recovering from a grueling winter that seemed never-ending,
and I don't know if I have ever been so thrilled to welcome spring!
 
I have the perfect SPRING inspiration for you today!
 
Last spring, my little Claire and I thought it would be fun to create a fairy garden in a secret corner of our backyard. I bought this book, Fairy Gardening: Creating Your Own Magical Miniature Garden by Julie Bawden Davis and Beverly Turner. Claire bookmarked almost every page in the book showing me different things she wanted to do!
 
 
This is the "secret" corner of the house. See why we thought it needed some magic?
 
 
We ordered two little fairy houses from Hearth Song. They can be found HERE.

 
We read and reread the book and searched online for ideas. It seems there is a whole fairy gardening world out there!
I never knew.
 

We got these low planters - black and plastic - from Home Depot's garden section. We filled them with soil and put a house in each one. We added tiny succulents for the plants around the house. We got a strip of back splash tile like this...
photo via Home Depot
 
 
....to use as a little walkway up to each little house. It worked great and was inexpensive - about $3.00 for each strip. This was my sister's idea! Thank you, Aunt Cherie! We also bought moss that we layered on top of the soil to act as the lawn and pebbles to decorate with too! 
 
You can see in the picture below a big wooden stump. This was just a huge chunk of wood from Boppa's woodpile. We added a fairy door and windows that we got from Hearth Song too. We hammered a little nail into each spot on the stump and then were able to hang the windows and door from the nails.
 
 
You can also see the little "white picket fence" along the back. That is lawn edging we bought very cheap from Home Depot. We hung little flower lights along the white fence. A small solar panel sits on top of the stump and at night the lights come on. The solar powered flower lights were purchased at Walgreens for under $10.00.
 
 
 

 
 This horrible picture is my bedroom window. The kids loved peeking out the window each night all summer to see if the lights were on. They would approach the window with whispering voices and we'd hear quiet gasps as they realized the lights were on which meant the fairies were there!! It was all very exciting and never got old! They enjoyed it the WHOLE summer! (Note: We did not add fairy figurines to our garden. We only created a little village for them. They visited at night! You know, the whole "if you build it, they will come" thing!)
 


Throughout the summer we picked up little fairy-like things that we came across (that were weather-proof) to add to our little village. We got a little bench, a teeny-tiny bird bath, a tiny garden swing, and a little arbor. One morning we went out there and were surprised to find a teeny tiny bicycle! One of the fairies must have been riding bikes in the night and left it on the walkway of the little mushroom house!
 

 
Claire LOVED showing off her magical fairy garden and eagerly took visitors out to see it all summer. This is our cousin, Addie looking at it! She was really intrigued! It is very magical!
 

We found this garden stone at Dollar General!
We are so excited to continue to grow our fairy garden village this year and add more little details! Several weeks ago we picked up a little wishing well from Hobby Lobby. Claire is anxiously waiting for all that snow to finally melt so she can get out there and spruce up her fairy village again!
 
Shhhh.....I think the Easter Bunny may be bringing a few fairy garden surprises to her Easter basket too!   

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Below are some great resources for finding fairy garden items and ideas... 
 
Hobby Lobby
Home Depot
WalMart
Lowes
Menards
 
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Linking Up HERE 
 
 

 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sister-Dipity Designs - A New Adventure!

I have a {fairly} new hobby! I have started making jewelry!

Mostly necklaces...



My niece, Lydia
 




 

 

 
 
 
....but some bracelets too...
 
I started posting them on my personal Facebook page and before I even wrote "for sale" I was getting messages from friends wondering if I was selling them. Well, I can't keep them all so I did start selling them. I had ordered chunky bubblegum necklaces for my daughter in the past and she and I both loved them. I examined them closely, watched a couple YouTube videos, and subscriped to the magazine, "Bead-it Today."


 I was bold (I figured I had nothing to lose) and I emailed some shop owners on Etsy and asked them where they got their supplies and how they attached specific adornments that I really liked. These shop owners were so GREAT! They all emailed me back, were very helpful, and were very encouraging! The crafting world is truly a world of lovely people!
I have now ordered supplies from several companies but have one main one that I use the most. They are very reasonably priced and have extremely fast shipping! (I am also addicted to the jewelry-making departments at Hobby Lobby and Joanne Fabrics!)
 
When I first got started, I was a bit discrouaged (and surprised) to realize this is not so easy. I spent a good week or two just staring at my supplies. I would arrange some beads and then rearrange some beads and finally just scoop them all up and put them all away. It was not easy to get in jewelry designer mode. But when I did....well, I was hooked!


I would see beads and different color combinations when I closed my eyes!
My necklaces sales and orders started pouring in! It all got so big so fast!! I have now named my little business, "Sister-Dipity Designs." I have a business Facebook page now that can be found HERE. Come on over, see what I've posted, and "Like" my page!  I might have just what you need for a special Easter basket or a gift for Mother's Day!
  
I now have business cards and a big display of all my work in my home! (Photos of the display to come later!) With tons of encouragement from my amazing husband and dear friends, I am going to attend a Mom-to-Mom sale in two weeks! It is said to be the largest Mom-to-Mom sale in the state! Hoping I do well there! I will keep you posted!
 
I am a little BEAD crazy!!

It is such a great feeling to see someone wearing one of my necklaces or bracelets! And I love the smiles on little girls when they get their own special necklace!
 


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Come check it out!!

Sister-Dipity Designs
 
 
 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I thought I'd share with you some pictures from our St. Patrick's Days from the past...
 
 

Corned Beef Recipe HERE




Ribbon Topiary Tutorial HERE

My little Irish girl!! She looks so little here!



Two Irish men!!

Green Cakeballs- cakeball recipe HERE


Pot of Gold cupcakes made by my nieces and their mom! Similar recipe HERE
St. Patrick's Day BINGO and prizes!!
The Luck 'O the Irish!










 




 

 
Happy St. Patrick's Day from our Irish family to yours!