After 5 years of being a stay-at-home mom, I found the wonder of mothering slowly starting to get crowded out by the mundane feeling. I realized our world seems to surround people with the negative, and complaining about blessings seems totally acceptable. So I decided to fight against that "normalcy" and focus only on the positive. I look back to my first year as a mom when everything was new and keeping house was fun and I aim to have that attitude again. This blog is my outlet to showcase the daily miracles that surround me in my blessed life as a stay-at-home mom so that I will never forget the wonder of it all.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Half Homemade Halloween....DONE!

I did it!  I finished my Halloween sewing today!  Yea!  I just wanted to post a few pics on my way to bed so I can feel like I've REALLY finished my "Half Homemade Halloween", because, you know, nothings official until its on the blog.  :)

Kian's bee back

Kian's bee front

Felicity's Autumn Fairy outfit

I had fun sewing these, but due to our crazy lives these days, I'm glad Logan wanted to be something we already had, which changed from a dragon to an astronaut.  I didn't tell him his astronaut outfit is really an Air Force flight suit because I have no idea how to sew an astronaut outfit.  :) 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Half Homemade Halloween

In 24 hours, I will be leaving to photograph an out of town wedding.  I will not be home until a few hours before its time to head out trick or treating.  And due to a few set backs and changes in our routine over the last few weeks, my monster bags remain to be the ONLY thing accomplished off my Half Homemade Halloween list.  ugh!  Tonight we're taking the kids to the pumpkin patch and carving pumpkins.  I am planning on making soup this afternoon so that we will have a nice dinner waiting for us after the pumpkin carving extravaganza mess.  Also, my mother in law, sister in law, and nephew are arriving tonight for a visit.  So I've got to get the house ready for company (I did some company prep yesterday).  In addition, I like to leave my husband with at least one meal ready to go when I leave.  I know I don't need to do this because he's the most capable and amazing man out there, but I like to.  So...wish me luck.  Somewhere in all that madness today I need to do Kian's bee costume and put the finishing touches on Lissy's "butterfly girl" costume.  Oh, and homeschool.  Hmmmmm.....maybe homeschooling today will be in the kitchen making soup.  My mom came over the other night so Zac and I could go on a date and after hearing all that needed to be done, she said, "you don't have to be super Mom, Jenny."  She said this while sitting on my living room floor because there was no room to sit on the couches since they were FULL of laundry she had done and folded while we were on our date.  I'm talking like 6 loads!  That was in addition to cleaning up the kid's dinner mess and kitchen, organizing our shoe shelf on the front porch, taking diapers off the line, and unloading, reloading, and running my dishwasher.  I'm not TRYING to be a "super mom'', I'm just following an amazing example of a woman who went out of her way to show her family they were loved, cared for, and thought of.  I am so blessed to have an amazing example of a mother.  God, please help my kids to feel that way when they're 30.  And maybe before they're 30 too.  :)

My 3 with their amazing Grammy on Felicity's birthday camping trip. 
Lissy's holding one of Grammy's handmade gifts.  She really shouldn't try to be super Grammy.  :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Last week on a nature walk, we found a deer salt lick.  Logan was really impressed and asked if we could make our own.  I searched it online but couldn't find instructions on how to make a cheap one.  They were all pretty specific with a few ingredients to promote antler growth.  Yep, found all those instructions on hunter's websites where they basically feed a herd on their property and supply a salt lick rich in nutrients that will give them a prize buck with impressive antlers.  Well, I didn't want to spend a lot on this salt lick so we just winged it and decided pure salt should be a good enough lure to get us some good deer sightings.  We have a greenbelt behind our small backyard and our fence is wire so we can see into the greenbelt.  I dug a small area clear of debris and Logan poured salt all over.

We placed it in a spot we can see right outside our school room window. 

Logan also made a trail of salt from our lick to the neighbors yard where we found fresh deer droppings.  We're hoping that if they come back that way, they will follow the trail to our lick.  I sure hope we get some sightings for my Logan.

While we were at it, I wondered what else we could do with salt.  I jumped online while the kids ate breakfast, swagbucked "salt projects for kids", and in minutes, I had a whole list of activities for a salt themed day.  And they all used ingredients I already had on hand.  SWEET!  So here's what we did;

Experiencing Salt
Kian was still awake for this part of school so he joined us.  For the sake of Felicity's preschool, we first just experienced the salt.  I dumped loads of it on Kian's tray (plus a few piles of flour just for fun), and let him go at it.  Felicity and Logan each had a cookie sheet full of salt.  As they dug around in it, we talked about how it felt (rough, scratchy, hard). 

Logan practiced writing Us in it, our letter of the week.

We tasted it and talked about its taste...."salty", of course.

Kian didn't much like it.

Salt Painting
Next we dribbled glue onto construction paper and sprinkled salt on top of the glue to make "salt paintings."  If you do this, make sure to put the cookie sheet under the painting to catch extra salt and to dump excess onto.

Handmade Bath Salt
We're adding this to our Handmade Holiday stash.  These will be from the kids since they did it all themselves.  I will post the recipe we used for them after I test it out in a bath to see how well they work.  Regardless, the kids were proud of their blue lavender bath salt and it was a really fun activity.

Salt Dough Creations
I really wanted to make little pumpkin families for Halloween, since we haven't done ANY Halloween crafts yet.  I had to help Lissy form the ball shapes a bit, but Logan did his all on his own.  We each made a family of 5 pumpkins to represent our family.  I wanted to use the left over dough to make star shapes to turn into ornaments but I was having issues with the dough sticking to the table.  I told the kids to just play with the dough and figured we'd scratch the stars.  I went to work on cutting stems for our pumpkin families.  All of a sudden, they both started handing me beautiful dough stars!  I wasn't watching so I don't know how they managed to not have the sticking issue but I was so pleased that they had persevered and made it work on their own!  It showed me that sometimes stepping aside and just letting them go at it is better than trying to do it for them.  :)  So we filled two cookie sheets full of our sweet pumpkin families and our stars ready for Christmas crafts.  I will post our dough recipe in a later post, along with our finished, painted creations. 

We were going to also make salt crystals to watch grow over the next few days, but time ran away from us.  I guess its always good to have one too many fun activities planned than not enough.  That leaves us another fun salt craft for another day.  Though, I've gotta get more salt!
I'll leave you with this picture of Kian, just because he's so dang cute!  After his salt swiping extravaganza, he happily snoozed away while we did all the rest of our salt madness.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Great Waldorf Experiment

My friend and I have been reading up on Waldorf toys.  For months, we have shared a common want to throw all the plastic crap out!  She knits, makes wonderful felt creations, and sews, and I sew, and we've talked about just throwing everything out and replacing it all with simple handmade toys.  In addition, we wanted to downsize the clutter so that our children would really appreciate the special things they had, instead of being overwhelmed with excess.  One week, we both independently of each other started researching Waldorf theories on play and toys.  When we found out what each other was doing, we collaborated our ideas to spur each other on.  Basically, Waldorf toys are back to nature, simple toys.  The toys are kept simple to encourage unlimited creation and imagination.  They're also kept simple to just appreciate the natural products they're made of.  Most Waldorf inspired toys are made of wood and felt. 

As I read more on Waldorf, it was everything I had tried to do myself in the past, and things I'd always been drawn to.  Cloth dolls, fairies, dragons, gnomes, wood toys, handmade....these are all things I've been drawn to since my own childhood.  When I was a girl, I always wanted a cloth doll without facial features like the Amish kids had.  I just loved the handmade simplicity of it.  It went along with my quiet personality I guess.  :)  When Logan fell in love with dragons (OK, became obsessed with them), I was thrilled.  I taught him "Puff The Magic Dragon" and he made me sing it over and over in the car.  As I researched Waldorf more, I noticed that a lot of the lovies and toys I'd already made my kids would be considered "Waldorf inspired'', though for me, they were just inspired by the easy going simplicity I wanted to create for my kids.  Waldorf was totally my cup of tea!

BUT (there's always a but), I knew family and friends would think I was crazy.  They already think I'm "bohemian," a label I'm proud to carry even though I didn't know what it meant when first dubbed it.  I could just SEE the eyes rolling when I said I'd thrown out all plastic toys and replaced them with unpainted wooden peg figures void of facial features.  Some already think we're crazy for not having TV.  Can you imagine what they'd think when they found out I'd rather have my kids play with acorn caps instead of My Little Ponies?  Seriously, I was just a walking billboard for judgement.  But the longer I'm a mom, the more comfortable I get in my own skin.  It has truly been a growing period of self discovery.  And the longer I'm a mom, the less I care about what people think of my simple ways, and therefore, the simpler I become as I feel freer to embrace myself for who I truly am.  

SO....I decided to do an experiment.  One night after the kids were in bed, I took an 18 gallon tote into the playroom and FILLED it with plastic crap.  Days before that, I had gone through the kid's toys and put stuff in my consignment box that I haven't seen them play with in forever.  They didn't notice the removal of ANY of these toys.  Or if they did, they didn't care.  Another day I took the kids on a nature walk and gave them bags to collect treasures in.  Nothing new here, we did that a lot.  But instead of the treasures staying outside, we brought them in.  Acorn caps suddenly became the best toy the kids have seen in a LONG time.  We dumped them out on their school table and I surprised them with a few peg people, a few wooden spools, and a tiny wood box.  They sat there playing with these things for over an hour and never fought once!  I didn't give them any instructions at all about what the objects were or what to do with them.  On their own, they created a family with their pegs and Felicity excitedly made hats for her family out of the acorn caps.  Logan set his family up around the box table where they ate acorn cap meals.  He also filled the box full of caps, counting them out as he went.  Felicity counted along with him and they did this over and over.  They also made up stories about their peg people. 

I have continued to put Waldorf ideas into practice in my home, and I get the same results from my experiments every time. For the sake of space, I won't go into detail about them all. My experiments have shown me that I'm NOT depriving my kids by deciding to steer clear of the more mainstream toys, and to downsize the clutter in general.  Our decision to implement some Waldorf ideas is in fact giving them so much more than they had before. 

Do I think they can't learn and have fun with mainstream, plastic toys?  No.  Do I think parents who love all the newest toys are doing it all wrong?  NO!  This is just the path we have decided to journey down for a bit.  They have LOTS of years ahead of them to grow up and follow along with everyone else.  In the mean time, I think we'll travel down a road a bit less traveled, picking up acorn caps and pine cones along the way while calling them toys, and calling nature our playground and schoolroom. 

Here's a few pics of our adventures so far;

Lissy thrilled with her simple toys.  Please don't mind her peanut butter smeared face. :)

Goofy face girl, fun hat!

Lis and I made a gnome village out of blocks.

Logan made us this gnome home for our village.

He also set up these two tables of food for our gnomes.  Lissy said the blue gnome was eating chocolate, of course.

Two horses shared a pretzel.

Then Droolgobs the dragon awoke from his nap and attacked our village.  All in good play hurt feelings.  :)

A lot more time spent in nature.

A lot of kid help in the kitchen.

A LOT of beauty found!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Taking a cue from Waldorf....learning in nature

We learned a lot on our nature walk yesterday;

Apparently, fire hydrants sometimes need to be opened up. 
We never learned why the men were doing this.


The rivers this flooding leaves behind are great to float sticks down!
If you listen, you can find the culvert where all the flooding drains into.

And if you follow it, you may just find a man made waterfall flowing into the river....

which may be irresistible to a goofy dog.

Cracking open acorns isn't as easy as one little boy thought,

victory is thrilling! 

Old stumps can look a lot like owls.  3 year olds may get oddly attached to "my owl" stump and have a hard time saying goodbye to it even if it IS out of reach and across the river....

identifying deer scat is a good diversion from parting with Owl Stump.

Being too little to play in the rock laden stream is hard, especially when you're the one who first spotted it and pointed it out....


finding a really cool acorn makes up for it.

sleeping in the stroller under the oaks is heavenly!

Playing in the abandoned outside kitchen while baby brother naps is really fun...

....and so is making up games of tree tag...

nothing beats being patient and keeping your eyes peeled for a REALLY long time and having it all finally pay off when you find a coveted oak ball pod just like big brothers.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Honesty And Mercy

The Biblical meaning of my name is Gentle Spirit, which I am.....
but I yell at my kids.

 I love to teach my kids through nature...
but I get sucked into blog searching. 

I long for a better relationship with my Heavenly Father....
but I'm always falling short. 

I love being a stay-at-home Mama and wife....
but there's not enough hours in the day to get it all done. 

Thank you God that your mercy is new every morning!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Reusable Monster Bags Done!

3 reusable trick or treat monster bags
Costume for Felicity
Bee costume for Kian

Yea!  I love crossing things off lists.  Even small lists.  Here's my completed bags. 

They were so easy to make.  No pattern used here.  Just creating as I went along.   My favorite way to sew.  These bags cost 70 cents each to make....tops.  Each took two full pieces of felt, a scrap of ribbon from my ribbon scrap box, scraps of felt from old projects for the eyes, teeth, and polka dots, and old shirts and stretch pants for arms and legs.  I love using old beat up or stained clothes in new projects.

 Lissy's monster's limbs were once stretch pants.  I hate stretch pants.  I admit it.  But these were stained hand me downs anyways. 

The boys' monsters' limbs were once Logan's stained shirt.  Instead of being thrown out, they made perfect and free monter limbs.

The candy goes straight into monster's open mouth.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Garden Friends

We've had lots of praying mantis encounters in our yard lately.  The kids have loved observing them.  One even welcomed herself into our home so we caught her and put her in our terrarium to observe REALLY close for a while.  The best part was releasing her back into our garden.  We set her on a tomato plant and decided we probably wouldn't know she was there had we not just put her there, due to her camouflage (that one was green, unlike the brown one pictured above).  They are so interesting!  We noticed that they lay down their antennas when they feel threatened, just like a cat or horse do with their ears.  And if we snuck up on the side of them, they'd turn their head towards us and look at us with their antennas laid back.  So neat.
We were studying birds at that time in school and we talked about how birds eat praying mantis.  Logan drew this "Mommy guided drawing" (where I show him step by step directions on my own paper and he follows on his paper to do it himself) of a small list of things birds eat, including our praying mantis.
Logan's caption reads, "Birds eat bugs, praying mantis, and worms."

I do hope, however, that our praying mantis friends are still in our garden and have not become bird snacks.  I just LOVE child directed learning like this.  I sure learn a lot more that way, and I hope the kids do too.  It sticks with them longer, I know that for sure, because they talk about those past experiences a lot.  

Friday, October 15, 2010

Easy Peesy Lemon Squeezy Baby Doll Clothes

If you have BASIC sewing knowledge, and a little girl who loves babies, you MUST give this a try.  I got the tutorial from Obsessively Stitching, which you'll find on my blog list.  But I still thought I'd show you my pics and a few pointers I learned while doing it. 
You all met "Ugly Naked Baby" in an earlier post.  Well, I decided to give him some clothes.  Using the tutorial, I put an old NB sleeper of Kian's on Ugly Naked Baby, inside out.  Then I pinned around the outside of Ugly Naked Baby.  Then I slipped Ugly Naked Baby out of the pinned sleeper, sewed a line following my pins, cut excess away, hemmed the arm holes, and Felicity had an outfit for Ugly Naked Baby in 20 minutes tops!  So easy and you should have seen her expression!  She was THRILLED! 

I have 2 tips. 
1) Pin your pins in the direction you will be sewing.  This may be a stupid tip but just remember, I'm a self taught sewer.  I learn by trial and error.  Point the pins tip first.  This will make it easier to remove them as you sew.  There's lots of pins so this helps.
2) Make sure the back of the sleeper is nice and smooth before pinning.

Grammy, I guess he's now deserving of his name.  Josh.  No more Ugly Naked Baby in this house.  Ok, I'll admit, Ugly Josh would be fitting.  But at least he's not naked. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Handmade Holiday 2010

I'm so excited to be joining in with Tonya of Plain and Joyful living with her Handmade Holiday project.  I just ran across her amazing blog yesterday.  It's listed in my side bar if you want to check it out.  I've been working on my own handmade Christmas for a few weeks now, not knowing that there are groups of woman/families online doing the same thing and joining groups to share and showcase their handmade gifts.  How wonderful!  So I joined right up and finished my first project last night.  I don't have pics yet because I just hate taking pics in my dark house at midnight.  They look so blah, but that's when I get all my sewing done.  So I will take pictures soon and post them here.  In the meantime, I just wanted to share Tonya's blog with you and just share how excited I am to not be the only one out there who thinks her kids are perfectly fine with handmade gifts instead of loads of store bought stuff.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Birthday Buddy Baby Bumblebees

My niece and my baby boy have birthdays just a few days apart.  Kian turned 1 (sniff sniff) and Audrey turned 2.  I wanted to make them each a little lovie so I decided to FINALLY try a Bit of Whimsey Doll pattern.  I'd lurked that etsy store long enough!  I decided to try the bee pattern first.  So here they are, Kian and Audrey's birthday buddy baby bumblebees.

I think they're keepers.  And they were easy and fun to make.