Category Archives: Creativity

Limitations & Creativity

One of the best books I read this year (well, 2014) was Emily Freeman’s A Million Little Ways—Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live.

Yes, my book photo had to have a birdhouse in the background...the book is about being creative, I had to raise the bar....

Yes, my book photo had to have a birdhouse in the background…the book is about being creative, I had to raise the bar….

I’ll try to write more about the book as a whole but wanted to share a small portion that really struck me. She shared how she was working with a videographer to create a video and he shared with her about how the fun part is when he’s reviewed all he’s captured and discovers something that’s missing which means he has to get creative at making it work.  That seemed to surprise Emily until she thought about it more.

Here’s what she continued to write:

“My sister stands in front of her fireplace, whispers under her breath the things she dislikes about the angle, the mantel, the odd shape of the room, & placement of the windows. But she isn’t discouraged by it. In fact, she seems motivated by it.

Much of the beauty that arises in art comes from the struggle an artist wages with his limited medium. –Henri Matisse” (Freeman, 132)

I loved this because I had never thought of it before.  One thing I enjoyed about being a counselor was figuring out how to make treatment material fun and interesting for the kids I worked with, on a budget.  And these were tough customers as most did not want to be in counseling and had already done a lot of treatment and had heard a lot of the concepts before.  I had never thought about how the limitations, the lack of, the difficulty was part of the creative process.  And it was the very element that spurred me on to truly be creative….

And then I reflected on the art I have been creating lately.  One item I have toyed around with making lately are book page wreaths.  As I pondered, I realized two of them were created out of limitation.

This first one, I decided to do something new in the center because I was running out of paper!  I knew I would not have enough pages to complete the wreath but I had some small pieces I had cut off the book pages I could use.  It took a little trial and error but eventually I settled into making a striped type texture around the center.  And I think that addition to the wreath made it look even better than if the texture had remained the same throughout.  This wreath, something I could have tossed out when I got stuck, sold with the window frame and now adorns someone else’s home.  Someone else saw the beauty in my oopsy wreath!  I’m glad I didn’t stop when I encountered the obstacle.  It changed everything!

My oopsy wreath now hangs in a stranger's home...   : )

My oopsy wreath now hangs in a stranger’s home… : )

This second one is made from black and white phone book pages.  I thought I had a whole phone book full of white pages and as I neared the end of creating the wreath, I realized that that rest of the pages I had were yellow.  URGH!  I felt silly that I hadn’t more thoroughly checked out the phone book before I set out to make the wreath.

It took me a bit to figure out what to do.  We always have phone books dropped on our front steps but I had tossed all the others in our recycling container.  And now that I needed another, no more phone books appeared!  I knew it’d be really hard to match the color of these pages to something other than another phone book.  I felt stuck.  Eventually, I searched the creative odds and ends I had to see what else I could use to finish this project and found a grey egg carton.  And then I got inspired.  Soon the wreath had funky flowers on them, made from cut up egg cartons and a little paint.  I think if I had finished with more phone book pages, the wreath would not have been near as beautiful, at least to me.

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I love how Emily took something like limitations and pointed out that instead of seeing it as an obstacle, we can embrace it as an opportunity to use our creativity!  In fact, sometimes the most beauty comes out of what we do when we get stuck.

Seriously, run out and pick up this book.  It’s amazing!

P.S. And for those in the creative realm, Emily’s sister is Myguillyn Smith–the blogger and author of The Nesting Place….talk about a creative family!

Glimpses of Christmas…

The Christmas season this year for us was both exhausting and rejuvenating.  Peaceful and busy. Fast and slow.  We had moments of sickness and periods of health.  Togetherness with extended family and time to snuggle up at home, just the four of us, enjoying the wood burning fire and just being.  Here are some glimpses of what Christmas was for us this year…

Mary & Joseph sojourning to Bethlehem...

Mary & Joseph sojourning to Bethlehem…

We were gifted a Veggie Tales Nativity scene.  It has been very well loved.  The kids shriek with delight when it appears each year and the past two years, we’ve had Mary and Joseph journey around the house until Christmas Eve where they join the rest of the Nativity scene to wait for Jesus’ birth.  The kids LOVE trying to find them each morning after they realize they’ve moved.

 

 

 

 

I shopped and shopped for the right Christmas tree topper.  Every one I brought home tipped over due to being too heavy.  We finally20141213_222046 landed on this silver star…which struggles to remain upright too…it is jerry-rigged (who came up with that term?) with a paper binder clip!  It reminds me of The Nesting Place quote, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful!”

 

 

 

 

 

20141206_174928Making cookies, a small way to let people know how much we love them…I hope they tasted love with each bite.  The most requested ones are the Ritz cracker, peanut butter, and dipped chocolate cookies that taste similar to the popular Girl Scout cookie.

 

20141219_203238One of my favorite ornaments since becoming a mother was gifted to us from Erin, Evan’s daycare provider the first two and a half years of his life.  She gave us a clear ornament with his smiling face peeking out.  For some reason it made me feel like she treasured Evan just as much as we did.  So I decided to share the love and made some for the rest of our family (and our own tree).   All you need is:

  • Clear plastic ornaments (I found mine at Michael’s–majorly discounted in November and December–I think mine were fifty nine cents each)
  • Some Photos you are all right with cutting
  • tin foil
  • something decorative for the back side of the photo (ribbon, glitter, sparkles, etc.)
  • something to tie or hang on the top of the ornament ball
  • a cup to trace to make the right size circle
  • a pencil or pen and a permanent marker
  • tweezers

Trace a circle onto your photo the right size for your ornament ball. You may need to experiment a bit.  Once it’s cut out, lay the circle on tin foil and cut a circle out of the foil with a slight edge to bend over the photo.  Once the photo and foil are combined, use a permanent marker to write the year the picture was taken on the bottom of the foil side.

Remove the silver hanging part to the ornament.  Roll the photo/foil combo into a small tube–small enough to push into the whole at the top of the plastic ornament.  As it goes into the ornament, it will start to unroll.  Help it gently with the tweezers until it’s standing upright in the center.  Once it is secure in it’s position, gently add ribbon or glitter BEHIND the photo (so the side where the foil is).  In my experience, when glitter gets on the photo side, the static makes the glitter stick either to the ornament wall or the photo, making the photo difficult to see.20141219_203209

Then put the silver piece back on the ornament ball and add ribbon or anything else your heart desires to the silver piece to make it festive.  Wa-la!  A very beautiful, personalized gift that did not cost much to make!  Whether you gift them or make them for your own family, they are delightful.  My goal is to make a new one of these each year so as we gaze at our tree each year, we can see the kids growing up little by little!

It has taken me seven years to make our house a home.  Ryan’s encouraged me to “put some stuff up on the walls” and this was the year I finally did it!  After being inspired by The Nesting Place and Jen Hatmaker’s feature wall, it became a goal to put one together myself.  See Jen
Hatmaker’s here: One Amazing Feature Wall, my words, not hers! I have a few favorites in my feature wall but I absolutely love the twig frame I found at a local store and the barn wood type frame I found at a thrift store and made into a chalkboard…

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I haven’t just stuck with the walls, I’m getting better at adding beauty other places…redoing chairs, adding fake flowers…and I’m enjoying it!  It makes my soul sing–and I hope others’ souls who visit.  And that, my friends, is a glimpse into our Christmas!  I hope your soul sung as you celebrated Jesus’ birth too!

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Swimming in it until I’m pruny!

splash waterHow are you with waiting?  Lately the topic of patience has come up a lot with my kids.  When talking to them about what I expect from them when they’re asked to be patient, I realized I needed to define what patience was.  What I came up with was “waiting with a good attitude” and every time I describe it that way, part of me feels like I’m reminding myself that I too need to “wait with a good attitude.”

I’ve never been good at waiting and right now I feel like that’s what I’m being asked to do.  Again.  Ever feel done with a season of your life but cannot clearly see what is around the corner and when the next season will begin?  That’s where I find myself.  Part of me feels like my season of being a SAHM will be coming to an end soon.  But without clear direction, I’m waiting, because maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe I’ve got more months or more years as a SAHM.  I feel like the past three years have been so beautiful, so purposeful, but now it’s time to move on.  I look at my daughter and can’t believe she’s three and that I’ve been home with her every day of those three years.  I look at my son and am in awe of how well he is thriving. That he’s now in the 27th percentile for height and 10th or 11th overall.  After four years of fighting to get weight on him and struggling to help him eat, he’s getting there!  Today he ate more solid food than purees and considering how little solid food he was eating efficiently when feeding therapy ended last fall, it is absolutely amazing!  His meals are looking more and more “normal,” meaning they are either all solids or if there’s a combination of textures (soup, sandwich, and some fruit). It could be any five year olds plate!!!  Incredible!

All that to say, it has been amazing.  They’ve grown.  I’ve grown.  But right now, I’m restless.  I don’t feel like this is a role I’ll play forever and I feel passionate and called back to working with high-risk teenagers and the system they’re in.  And since I have a personality that is all about trying to plan and create my future how I want it and because I don’t have a lot on my plate right now, I’m restless.  The question is, what does God want for me right now? How can I wait well?

Because I daydream about the next season of my life, I get caught up in details, planning, and what-ifs.  None of this is inherently wrong, but for me, it pulls me away from the here and now and can create a lack of contentedness if I’m not careful.  A friend, who is also in a waiting and wondering season of her life, reflected that she feels torn between praying for what she hopes for specifically (citing John 14:14 and John 15:16) and surrendering and praying for God’s will in her life because that is what will truly be the best thing for her–even if it looks nothing like her current hopes.  I feel the same way.  Am I to pray for what I hope and dream to happen (in technicolor and 3D) or am I to take an emotional and cognitive step back and say “Your Will, Lord, whatever details will be, will be…”  How do I wait well in this and seek Him?  Boy, did it make me feel normal that another friend was wrestling with the same internal dynamics as me!  Can you relate?

splash water 2I am excited about what the next season in my life is going to look like, even though there are a lot of unknowns.  That being said, I believe that God is teaching me to delight and live in the now.  The present.  Another friend and I were talking earlier in the week about God giving us a word or a phrase for the year.  The phrase that God gave me for this year was “Love well those I have given you.”  I’ve kept these words in front of me this year.  It has caused me to make better choices, to pray more intently, and to really ask myself, how do my kids and my husband best feel loved by me.  I can’t think of a better way to love my kids and husband and others God has put in my life than being fully present and content now.  Each moment, each day.  That’s hard for my personality but I’m learning.  And maybe because it’s summer, I picture myself being fully present like relaxing, floating, meandering in a pool or the ocean, savoring each aspect of the experience–the sun, the smells, the sounds, the water…being truly present and loving it.

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So I want to swim, soak, and truly be in the present until my fingers and toes get all pruny!  What does that look like for me right now?  How can I be purposeful and get every drop of goodness and joy in the present?  How can I fully delight in this season, right now?

BE TRULY PRESENT with my kids

  • I need to unplug from the technology—off the computer, off my phone, turn the TV off and just BE with THEM.  Getting rid of cable this summer has been a great start towards doing this!
  • We need to do bigger things (like going to the Springs, camping, going on vacation) but also savor hanging out at home or going to the park together. Creating a summer bucket list has helped me focus on what I’d like to accomplish together this summer
  • Studying, observing, and truly knowing my children inside and out.  Becoming a student of them so I can highlight their strengths, understand and empathize with their weaknesses, and help them become who God has made them to be.  I desire to draw them out and encourage their individuality, not create two little clones of Ryan and myself.

And, oh, how I love the little moments I get to have with my children.  This past weekend I got to watch them discover and catch fireflies for the first time.  Is there anything better than lightning-bug-jar1watching children delight in new things or delighting in what they’re discovering they are capable of doing?  And how many of those moments would I miss if I weren’t here right now or if my eyes were glued to a screen, zoning out…

READ, READ, READ… I love to learn.  I love to read.  I thought I wouldn’t be able to read often as a mom of two but this season of life has allowed me to do a lot more reading than the first few years of motherhood.  Listening to books on CD has really helped too!  As I reflect on my reading habit, I’ve found when I’m busy and/or stressed out, I gravitate toward legal/suspense novels or other fiction.  During those times, I tend to read to escape or be entertained rather than to be inspired, to learn, or to grow.  This past six months, while I haven’t had to juggle a ton of things, I’ve been taking advantage of the time I’ve had and am reading, reading, reading!!!!  And because I’ve felt relaxed and rejuvenated, I’ve been plunging into books that have challenged me to grow and to go deeper.  Not just reading for entertainment’s sake.

summer reading

I love hearing from friends, family, and fellow bloggers what they’re reading currently.  I love it when people share their list of what they’ve been reading or want to read.  It’s like opening a treasure chest!  So I thought I’d throw together a list of books I’ve loved reading lately too.  Here’s the books I’ve read this past year that I highly recommend:

Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, & Lead & Men, Women, & Worthiness: The Experience of Shame & The Power of Being Enough

Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys by Stephen James & David Thomas

Jen Hatmaker’s Interrupted:—An Adventure in Relearning the Essentials of Faith & Seven—An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

Two books by Mary DeMuth (I discovered this author through Jen Hatmaker referencing her works in Interrupted book): Beautiful Battle: A Woman’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare (one of the best books I’ve read this year) and Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture–Practical Help for Shaping Your Children’s Hearts, Minds, & Souls

Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best….And Learn from the Worst by Robert Sutton

Lean In:Women, Work, & the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Carry On, Warrior–The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life by Glennon Doyle Melton

Forgotten God–Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan

The Nesting Place–It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith

I also picked up and re-read some oldies but goodies: Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy and Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning

Here’s some books I’m looking forward to cracking open next:

The Connected Child: Bringing Hope & Healing to Your Adoptive Family by Karyn Purvis (supposed to be great about early childhood development, attachment, bonding, and trauma issues)

Restoring the Shattered Self–A Christian Counselor’s Guide to Complex Trauma by Heather Daveduik Gingrich

Bread & Wine–A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes and Bittersweet- Thoughts on Change, Grace, & Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist

First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham

I’d love to hear from you the books you’d recommend I add to my To-Read list.  I can never have too many options when it comes to books!

GROW…In addition to the stacks of books I’ve been devouring, I’ve enjoyed reading blogs, articles, and getting involved in small groups and large groups focused on faith, parenting, and relationships.  This past spring Ryan and I took part in a Love and Logic parenting course that was phenomenal and currently I’m part of my first Beth Moore Bible Study20140530_161559 (James—Mercy Triumphs).  And I’ll be seeing Beth Moore speak here in Denver in a few weeks.  It’ll be the first mostly woman conference I’ve gone to—I’m soooo not into the women’s ministry thing but am looking forward to this gathering.  All this to say that I feel like I’m doing a better job being intentional about challenging myself, learning, and reaching out to others to go deeper in friendships.  I’ve been learning a lot, laughing a lot, and feel like I’ve grown so much.

CREATE…besides being more creative with what I cook, I’ve enjoyed painting again (thanks to Ryan’s encouragement) and after being inspired by Jen Hatmaker’s verison of a “feature wall,” I’m in the process of creating our own “feature wall.”  Anyone else absolutely LOVE Myquillin Smith’s “The Nesting  Place”?  Her ideas about cost effective ways to make your home beautiful have changed my life.  And her philosophy on doing so, including shaking off the fear of messing it up or not getting 20140530_161611your creativity “perfect” has so freed me!  Diving into creating feels like I’ve been reunited with an old friend.  I had found other ways to be creative than art, but my soul sings when I’m doing something artistic.  I’m proud of this painting and I can’t wait to see more original creations hanging up in our house.  Before I used to feel like I had to do a whole room to completion, but I’m learning to do one thing at a time and watch it evolve.  I just started a project with old window frames and I can’t wait to refurbish some wooden chairs I got for super cheap.  I have several uber-talented friends who can school me in the basics.  And I’m super excited because a friend and I are hosting a girl’s creativity night this coming week.  We’ve asked women we know who live and breathe creativity to come hang out for an evening, each of us bringing something we’re working on. I hope to be productive and inspired. I’m super excited!!!!

So, here I go.

Living it up in the Present.

Swimming in it until I’m all pruny and relaxed.  Loving those He’s given me, well.

How about you?  How do you handle waiting?  Do you tend to live most in the past, the present, or like me, the future?  Has God given you a word for this year or this season?  How do you manage the tension between praying about your hopes and dreams and asking that His will be done?

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If you liked this post, check out: Bloom Where You’re Planted

Two Peas In A Pod Twin Baby Shower

As previously mentioned, the Jacobson twin boys entered the world last weekend.  The baby shower had been originally scheduled for the coming weekend and it went on as scheduled.  It was really fun planning this shower, especially with all the ideas I got from Pinterest.  One thing I’ve really enjoyed about being a stay-at-home mom is having a bit more time to be creative.

Here are some of the ideas we used for the shower…making sure to give credit to where we got the ideas.  Warning, this is a long post.  I wanted to give details about how each of these things were done as I grew frustrated that the pins I went to only contained pictures (not how tos) or the ones that had specifics, it was only for one item.  Below I’ve included pictures and how-tos for the decorations, the menu we used, and our game.  Credit was given to where I got the original ideas and resources I used were listed as well.

1.) Diaper Pea Pods–When I had Evan, the housekeeper at my job made me a diaper cake.  I had never seen one before and was floored by it!  I felt so treasured when I received such a beautiful gift and loved the creativity of it.  I told myself then that someday I’d make one for someone else.  This shower provided that opportunity, with a twist!  Instead of making a “diaper cake,” I made diaper pea pods!

Here’s the video that helped me create them: How To Make A Pea Pod Diaper “Cake” on YouTube

The video has pea pods with one large pea with two small peas.  My blankets were pretty large so I had two large peas and two small peas in each.

What you’ll need to create ones like those pictured here:

  • 28 diapers for each pea pod (so 56 total if you’re making two like I did)
  • 2 green receiving blankets (we bought flannel material we liked from Joann Fabrics baby fabric section and my mother-in-law surged the edges to prevent fraying–and the new mom has two more receiving blankets…large, cute ones!)
  • 2 other receiving blankets
  • Green Ribbon
  • Rubber Bands
  • Possibly a small bowl to help you “roll” your diapers into a circle shape (most diaper cake tutorials online showed each diaper rolled individually).  I wanted to create diapers rolled together to create the peas.  I rolled two diapers up together and put a rubber band around them, then laid down the other eight diapers on top of each other, layered so that you could see 2-3 inches of each diaper in the pile, and used the two-diaper roll as the center and rolled them around it.

Here’s a photo I found on another site that shows the layering, (they used a paper towel roll in the center of their diaper cake) from www.ourbestbites.com.  They have a great step by step explanation for making a regular diaper cake.

2.) Flowers with Real Peas in the Bottom of the Vase–Loved, loved, loved this idea we found on Pinterest!  I tried to pull up the actual website the photo that gave me my inspiration was from, but was denied (stating that I needed to be invited by the blog author to view her site, funny since this was a pin on pinterest!).  I’ll still give credit to www.ahotpairofboots.com for the idea.  Our vase w/ peas is shown below and the peas were recycled after the shower, meaning someone agreed to take them, refrigerate them, and eat them in the near future. Talk about truly going “green.” : )

3.) Pea Pod Cupcakes–another idea I became obsessed with recreating was making cupcakes with a pea pod on top!  I originally saw this idea from a pin by www.baby-shower-cake-ideas.com (baby shower cupcake of the month).  Here’s the link if you’d like to see their photos (their cupcakes were ADORABLE, much better than mine): Original Pea Pod Cupcake Pin.

I figured it couldn’t be that hard to make two crescents for the pod and rolling two fondant balls into peas.  This article gave me tips on how to use fondant for the first time: How to Use Fondant for Absolute Beginners-by someone who is not a cake expert.  For it being my first time using fondant, I think they turned out pretty well. : )

I used these Wilton items (Green Sugar Sheets & Primary Color Rolled Fondant) to create ours. If you plan your shower ahead, use a Joann Fabrics or Michaels 40% or 50% off a regular item coupon (found in almost every Sunday newspaper) to keep your shower purchases to a reasonable cost.

I cut the pea pod parts out of the sugar sheets using a small pair of clean scissors and then rolled the green fondant into balls for the peas.

I created the pea pods the night before the baby shower and put them in a tupperware container to prevent them from drying out.  I then made the cupcakes and frosting the morning of the shower.  It was a little difficult removing the pea pods from the tupperware container to the cupcakes, but since I had made extra pea pods, it worked out.   I think if I had used fondant for both the pea pod parts and the peas, it wouldn’t have been such an issue.  Something to try if I ever throw another pea baby shower I guess!

I found the cupcake stand, that displayed 13 cupcakes, at Michaels.  With their 40% off a regular item coupon (found in almost every Sunday newspaper), it cost about $8.00.  As we had more than 13 guests in attendance, the remaining cupcakes sat around the base of the cupcake holder.  Craft stores also sell cupcake holders that can hold a lot more than thirteen cupcakes, but I felt that this was the best size cupcake holder for other events we’ll have in the future.

4.) Shower Menu–Here’s what we featured for food:

  • Gluten Free and Regular Breads and Crackers
  • Curry Chicken Salad
  • Green Pea, Bacon, & Cashew Salad
  • Light Green Punch (made with lime sherbert & 7-up–we didn’t have specific amounts…just added them together until it tasted good)
  • M&Ms that matched the shower colors (luckily Easter had just happened so I got pastel M&Ms on clearance and only used the green, yellow, and blue ones)
  • Coffee
  • Bowl of Sugar Snap Peas
  • Almond Chicken Salad–6 cooked, chopped up chicken breasts, 1 tsp. garlic salt, 1 ¼ c. mayo, 1 c. sliced almonds, 1 c. shredded monterey jack cheese.  Mix all ingredients together, except for almonds.  May be refrigerated overnight.  Add almonds before serving. 

5.) Two Peas in A Pod Scattergories Game–we only played one game at the shower but it was a great one.  Briefly, Scattergories is a game where you are given different categories and you need to come up with an answer for each category.  You get a point for each answer your put, but you need to be creative.  Why?  Because if your answer matches another person’s answer, you both have to cross it out.

Your answers must all begin with the same letter.  We had the mother choose the letter on the spot (she chose from four letters…her first name initial, her husband’s first name initial, and first letters of the twins’ names).  We did two rounds (our letters were C and N).  I threw our game worksheets together using Word and Clip Art.  Here are the categories from our game.  Feel free to use them too!

            “Two Peas In a Pod” Scattergories

Twin Boy Baby Names (2)

Item found in a Diaper Bag

Food A Pregnant Woman Craves

Symptom/Complaint About Pregnancy

Worst Place to Give Birth to Twins

Thing Mom Needs In Hospital

Adjective to Describe Dad at Hospital

Adjective to Describe a Newborn

Baby Food Flavors

Baby Nursery Theme

Coping Strategy Used by Parents of Twins

Place to Avoid with Newborns

Activity for Toddler While Mom Nurses Twins

If you have your own Two Peas in a Pod Shower, I hope you have as much fun in preparation and in celebrating as we did!  Let me know how yours went or other tips for this type of shower by writing a comment below.

DIY Personalized Magnets

When Ryan and I were first married, my sister, Shannon, gave me a really sweet gift.  She had made personalized magnets that said “Elyse Loves Ryan.”  Every time I saw those magnets, I felt both treasured by my sister but also thankful for the husband I had been given.

Well, now my sister is getting married.  One of the gifts I want to give her at this special time is the very thing that she had given me that touched my heart all those years ago: personalized magnets! 

This was fun and easy to do and can be done for any special occasion or for no special occasion at all.  It can be for yourself or for someone special in your life.

First you’ll need:    

1.)  Circle magnets

2.)  Glass stones (flat, the larger the better–I’ve heard these can be found at local dollar stores)

3.)  Glue (I used Elmers)
4.)  Scissors
5.)  Sayings or even pictures that mean something to the person you’re creating them for (for
Shannon, I had their wedding invitation to use—the purple/white branches you see in the
photo–and “insider information” about their relationship like terms of endearment, etc. due to
planning bridal shower games for her)
STEP ONE: First create the sayings or chose the pictures (on paper, not photos—I’m not sure
how the photos would survive the glue—if anyone tries, let me know if it works) you’ll use.  I
used Microsoft Word to type up the sayings I wanted to use.  I had fun experimenting with
different fonts.  I did have to alter a few after I had printed them out because they were too
large for the glass stones.
STEP TWO: Cut out your sayings or pictures to the size of the glass stones you are using. 
STEP THREE: Place a layer of glue on the back of the glass stone.  Then lay the glass stone (glue
side down) on the saying or picture you’re using.  Line it up so you it looks the way you want it to
look and let it dry (I let them dry overnight).
STEP FOUR: Trim any paper that sticks out bigger than the glass stone.
STEP FIVE: Glue the magnet to the back (it will be attached to the paper of the saying or
picture). 
I had extra magnets and glass stones so I made some magnets for our family too.  They are
phrases that are special to Ryan and I and to our kids.  They make me smile every time I’m by
the fridge! 

Buckles & Bath-n-Body…

I stealthily crossed the street, dressed in all black and wearing face paint. I army crawl up the small hill and crouch by a tree. I peek around the tree and look at the front porch in question. Nothing. I tip toe closer and crouch by the bush framing the front porch. From there I survey the entire front porch and patio area of the townhouse. Nothing but a half-empty bag of mulch. Dang it! I stand up, dust myself off and walk back home. Mission aborted.

Okay, maybe I exaggerated the scene a little bit but checking out a townhouse’s front porch up the hill from us has become a regular thing. Anytime we have ordered something to be delivered and it doesn’t arrive on the appointed day or at the appointed time, we make sure it isn’t sitting on the townhouse’s front porch. Why? Well we have townhouses across the street from us and one of them has the exact same number on their residence as ours. Their actual street address comes from the street behind their home but not all delivery drivers know this. We’ve tried to meet the tenants of the townhouse multiple times to discuss our ongoing package issues, but despite the attempts, we’ve never seen hide or hair of them.

Ryan’s new shoes arrived there, a pizza delivery, and I swear that the Bath & Body order I never received was delivered to the townhouse. Bath and Body’s tracking information stated it was definitely delivered to our address but it never showed up at our house. They were nice and sent a duplicate order out to us with a note to the delivery driver that it should be delivered to a house, not a townhouse, and I received it. The most recent delivery in question was a bunch of plastic buckles for a Pinterest project I was working on. I was so excited to make a buckle toy for Evan because he LOVES buckles.

This particular project required a sewing machine so my mom had graciously agreed to bring hers to our house on her next trip out here. Since my mom and her sewing machine would be in town for two short weeks, I had been proactive and ordered the supplies early enough so that we’d have everything we needed to get the project done. Besides myself and my mom, a good friend had also agreed to jump into the buckle project. We set up a time to get together: a week after the buckles were to have arrived. Plenty of time to make sure we had everything we needed.

At two days late, I checked the tracking on Amazon. Nothing new. I checked into what they advised me doing if my package hadn’t arrived. They first recommended that I wait a few more days and said that most items come within one or two days of the estimated date. I told myself to be patient and waited a few more days, did more reconnaissance on the townhouse, and still nothing. Now I decided to get someone at Amazon on the phone. When I reached someone, he was not very helpful and told me to call the local post office. Nice. The post office told me to call Amazon back. The second Amazon rep was really nice and offered to refund my last buckle order, placed a new order for buckles for me, and guaranteed arrival by the next day just in time for our scheduled project night. This sounded AWESOME! Well, those didn’t arrive either. Luckily, we had a back-up plan (fool me once, shame on Amazon, fool me twice, shame on me!), but it was still disappointing. Amazon did do a great job addressing the second failed delivery by offering us a decent credit for our Amazon next purchase (which significantly offset the cost of the buckle toy supplies in my eyes) and the replacement buckles arrived two days after promised.

Could my original buckles be sitting somewhere in a mail warehouse, lost? Sure, but I prefer to picture some mysterious townhouse resident living it up while wearing both my Bath-n-Body scents and a myriad of 1.5 inch buckles added to his or her outfit in creative ways…maybe someday we’ll actually meet him or her! We can only hope.

Back to the buckle project. So, I’ve been super excited about Pinterest. I’ve cooked multiple Pinterest recipes, have created a few Pinterest kids activities, and used some of their creative tips (and inspirational sayings) to make some artwork to go on our walls (something that Ryan pestered me most of our marriage to do!). I’ve been having fun, feeling productive, and was ready to tackle another project.

This buckle toy didn’t seem too difficult…loop a few ribbons around some buckles, sew the ends of the ribbons to some fabric, what, an hour or two tops? Ah, no. What in the world was I thinking?!?! I am no Martha Stewart! My mom, who sews more often than me, knew from the moment I sent her the link that this project would take some time, but I was definitely naïve.

In order to make it more cost-effective, we ended up making seven buckle toys. I’d recommend others do the same (make multiple buckle toys) unless you already have some of these materials at home. Here’s the supplies we needed:

• Buckles—best deal was on Amazon (we did smaller ones and bigger ones—I believe 5/8 inches and 1.5 inches)
• Velcro—Walmart purchase
• Ribbon—great clearance purchase
• Snaps—wow, way more expensive than I thought
• Fabric (thicker than normal but not quite“canvas”)—I vow to never buy fabric full-price, the prices are INSANE! Luckily we had a tech-savvy cashier at the craft store that scored us multiple 40% off coupons…she was 65+ and knew how to work my smart phone better than me—amazing!
• Sewing machine—Mom brought hers out from Wisconsin

And here’s the link to the website that shares the directions for making these in case you’re interested and have better sewing skills than me: http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/clip-toy-for-toddlers/

We did make some alterations to their plans…we added both velcro and a snap and had two different sized buckles…

The three of us worked on this project for three hours one night and then my mom and I finished the rest over the course of two more days…my mom doing more of the actual sewing. It was definitely more time consuming than initially thought. Was the buckle fiasco and hours of work worth it? Definitely! Will I take on a Pinterest project that involves sewing again soon? Not likely!

Flying with Babies or Children

When I was a new mother, I was apprehensive about flying with Evan, especially because my first flight would be just me and him, Ryan would not be traveling with us. I googled “flying with a baby” and didn’t come up with much useful information besides “make sure your baby is breastfed or bottle-fed during take off and landing so the pressure doesn’t hurt their ears.” I was disappointed because I wanted more tips on how to be best prepared for air travel with a child. I wanted a lot of “tools in my toolbox” to be able to use to keep him from crying the whole flight and to keep him occupied. I wanted to be over-prepared. I didn’t want to be one of “those people”…the people that other passengers roll their eyes at…the ones whose children ruin an otherwise peaceful flight!

Evan has successfully flown many a time now, including down to Mexico! And Makenna has flown twice in her short lifetime. Over the past few years, I’ve asked a myriad of other mothers their advice about how to make flying with little ones manageable or less stressful. I’ve gotten GREAT tips (thanks Mom, Shelly Estevez, and Kate Veatch to name a few). Here’s what I’ve gleaned so far:

BRING:

    • A fully stocked diaper bag which includes at the minimum: several diapers, a changing mat, pacifiers, wipes, and a change of clothing for each child traveling with you.
    • Food/drink—make sure to have enough formula, breastmilk, babyfood or snacks to keep your children satisfied. Security is usually good about sealed baby beverages and unopened baby food. If the liquid is not sealed (i.e. breastmilk or an already made bottle), you may have to have an additional security test done on it, but it is brief. I’ve found that Enfamils ready-to-go powder packets are PERFECT for flying. It’s got the right amount of formula in a small packet so all you have to do is add it to four ounces of water. No measuring, no transporting a large container of formula, and you can wait until you’re through security to prepare it (avoiding the extra hassle)…
  • Comfort Items–If you’re traveling with a baby six months or younger, bring a blanket they can snuggle into. At any age, if they have a special toy that comforts them, bring it along too.
  • Front Carrier–If your baby likes to move around (usually six months and older), a friend suggested having them sit on your lap using a front carrier. That way you can have your hands free at times and you know they won’t fall off your lap when you’re moving things around. I didn’t get this advice until after my last trip with Makenna and she was such a wiggle-worm, it would have helped, A LOT.
  • Strollers that have a click-in car seat are AWESOME for airports. This is dual-purpose. You can use it to transport not only your child, but also the diaper bag and anything else going on the plane with you. And if your baby/child is riding on your lap, it allows you to double check right before boarding that there aren’t any (free) extra seats to put your car seat on (we’ve had the best flights when our children had their own seats next to us). Worst case scenario, there are no extra seats available and you gate check both items (free).
  • Books—especially “interactive” ones (flip books, books that have textures or moving parts)
  • Technology—some parents swear by using their iphones to entertain their kids, others LOVE that there are TVs available for a child to watch during flight. Use whatever you can to keep your child occupied!
  • Something new: some friends and family have recommended buying cheap, little toys for kids to play with on the plane. The novelty of them can keep them occupied longer than toys they are used to playing with. Also, some parents purchase special treats for their children that they only get when traveling.
  • Plastic Bags–Airlines expect parents of young children/babies to “pack out” their dirty diapers. I didn’t know this, but they don’t want people throwing away stinky diapers in their tiny bathrooms! I guess this makes sense. I found this out after the fact when a flight attendant educated me that we’re supposed to bring plastic bags and after we’ve changed our child, take the dirty diaper with us. So—bring a few plastic bags in case you have a diaper change mid-flight.
  • Window Decals/Stickers–My friend, Kate, recommended getting decal/window stickers because your child can stick them on the window and/or tray and they come right off.
  • Other Activities Your Child Will Like–Recently, I’ve found other activities that can easily be used on a plane on Pinterest.  Evan has loved these laminated pages he can put stickers on (the idea was found on  http://www.littlehandsbigwork.com/search/label/letters).

These will definitely be coming with us on our next flight.  For now I’ve just done Evan’s name–four letters, two per sheet of laminated paper. 

Since Evan LOVES buckles, I’m also planning on making him this buckle toy, also found on Pinterest (see below for the link for instructions).   This is a must have for us as it won’t take up much space, is easily transportable, and it will keep him occupied indefinitely, whether in the car or on a plane.  There are also websites for other activities in “busy bags” that sound like they’d be useful on planes.  I still need to explore those ideas.

  http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/clip-toy-for-toddlers/

 

Picture from kidsactivitiesblog.com

  • Toddler car seat—once your child is two years old, they are no longer allowed to ride on your lap for free. You’re expected to buy them their own seat. If your child LOVES undoing buckles, it’ll be worth it to lug your toddler car seat through the airport as the buckle on the plane is very easy to take off. Plus, there’s just something comforting for them about being in their own chair when doing something out of the norm.
DO:
    • Consider your child’s temperament. Some people swear by traveling when their child normally sleeps, others had horror stories doing that. My children don’t tend to sleep well if they’re not at home, so we did not try to book our flights during their nap or bedtimes. If your baby or child can sleep anywhere, maybe that strategy could work for you. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re traveling alone. I’ve found many people are more than willing to help a parent traveling alone with kids and will extend a hand before I’ve even had to ask. Places you’ll likely need help are going thru security (putting your stroller and/or carseat on the conveyor belt), and when getting situated on the plane. And both of my kids have LOVED being entertained by the people sitting near us on the plane…some fellow passengers have been the key to having a meltdown-free trip!
  • Consult a professional if necessarySome people have mentioned that they have used Benadrylto calm their children for flying. We haven’t seen Evan get tired from allergy medicine so it’s not something we’ve used to calm him before traveling. Check with your pediatrician if you think this is something you want to try. Warning, some kids get tired on Benadryl, others get very hyper. This is not a cure-all and should not be attempted without medical oversight.
  • Get creative. Sometimes non-toy toys are the best! My kids have loved playing with the plastic cup I got water in mid-flight, a straw wrapper, the Enfamil“packet”, etc.

REMEMBER:

    • This too shall pass.” Even if you have a rough flight, it won’t last forever! This mantra has gotten me through flights when my children were loud or upset!
    • Most people on flights have had their own children. Even though a loud child or crying baby can be irritating, the flight will come to an end eventually. Plus, you’ll give both yourself and the other passengers a story to tell afterwards!
  • One of my co-workers told me something that has helped me fly with children ever since: “People on planes tend to give grace to parents with little kids as long as they can see you’re trying your best.”

Would love to hear from you.  What tips would you give parents who are flying with babies or little children?

This had nothing to do with flying, but I wanted to add it…just because!