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.

Monday, December 27, 2010

This little boy......

weaned himself!!!
He had his last nursing 2 weeks ago.  No tears, no fits, no fights.  I didn't know that night, 2 weeks ago, would be the last time I nursed him (which was good because if I had I would have cried).  He looked up at me and said "Awe duh" (all done) so I tucked him into bed.  He was, in fact, "Awe duh''.....for good.  And he did it himself....peacefully...just like I wanted.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Handmade Holiday 2010 - The Kid Edition

Disclaimer - I know I said yesterday
it was my last Handmade Holiday post,
****                             but I wasn't lying!                           ****
It was MY last Handmade Holiday post.
This one's the kids. 

We have always included our kids in the act of giving at Christmas and birthdays.  In the past years, that meant they were taken on a special outing to buy gifts for each other.  This year, however, it seemed silly to take them shopping when I myself didn't go shopping for them.  So I decided to include them in the handmade gift making process. 
After watching me make peg people for Lissy, Logan wanted to make some for her too.  I was excited about his idea because at that time, I was so wrapped up in my own crafting, I hadn't begun to think about what they could make for each other and I hadn't even mentioned crafting for each other to them.  It was wonderful to see that he wanted to make something for his sister.  So we searched the house and found two last peg guys.  He went to work painting their bodies.  I added the eye dots and Mod Podge.  Next he picked out what color hair he wanted for them.  He chose blue because it's Lissy's favorite color.  I also had him choose which fabric he wanted me to make the gnome hats out of.  It was so wonderful to watch him sort through my scraps searching for butterfly fabric, knowing his sister LOVES butterflies.  It made my heart happy see how much he considered HER likes while creating these little peg ladies for her.

While Logan was painting his pegs for Felicity, I was trying to think of what she could make for him.  Then Logan said, "Mama, can Lissy please make me some guys for Christmas?".  Perfect!  So the next week Lissy made her men for Logan in the same fashion he had for her.  She picked her paints (a bit of every color of course), fabric, and hair color, and with help from me, we made some nice peg guys for Logan.

Kian loves balls.  I had been wanting to do a marble painting with the kids for them to give to Zac.  So instead of using marbles, I turned the one project into two gifts.  I bought a wood ball and a medium sheet of Art Board from Michaels.  I really wanted canvas but the Art Board was so cheap and its nice and sturdy so I couldn't pass up the deal of a few bucks.  I took a piece of flat cardboard and folded the edges up, making a box slightly bigger than the Art Board.  The kids and I placed the Art Board in the box, randomly put spots of paint onto the board, and rolled the wood ball around inside the box.  One kid stood at each end of the box and we gently rocked the box so the ball rolled around in the paint.  We added paint when we thought we needed more and stopped when we had a product the kids were happy with.  The painted Art Board is their gift for their Dad, and the paint covered ball is their gift for Kian.  After we were done using it to paint with, I set the ball on wax paper to dry and then put Mod Podge on top to seal in the paint.  Next time we do this I'll use 2 complementary colors that will create a third color (such as using blue and yellow to make green).  We used colors that will go in the kids' bathroom but when mixed all together by the ball, they made some mucky colored spots.  Of course, the kids thought it was great.  I wasn't planning on it but I had them paint a layer of Mod Podge on top of the painting after seeing how it made Kian's ball look a bit nicer.  They were very happy with both of their creations.

Putting Mod Podge on Daddy's painting.

The finished painting.

I wanted to post this on Christmas Eve because I think there's nothing sweeter than kid made gifts.  I love watching them create and seeing them excited about gifting their creations.  This is, in fact, the season of generosity and I hope these fun lessons in giving will bring them closer to the understanding of God's generous gift to us, His son.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Handmade Holiday 2010 - The Last Post

Well, I thought I'd have less made this year but I'm thrilled to have followed through and completed a 100% handmade holiday.  I'm not trying to's just that I'm usually a procrastinator.  I'm surprised I actually did it.  : )  I struggled this Fall with thyroid stuff which left me EXHAUSTED.  It was quite a struggle for me and not much ever got done.  It might sound silly, but completing this Handmade Holiday is a small little victory for me this year.

Ok, so here's the last of the stuff I'd like to share with you. 

When I inherited my Nana's sewing machine, I found tons of thread on original wood spools with all her other old sewing notions.  I wanted to display these spools once they were empty.  I thought a key hook type thing would look nice made of them.  Then I was going through my childhood Childcraft book that was once part of my encyclopedia set (recently handed down to my kids from my mom), and found the idea for this little guy.  He has a jingle bell near his tail which makes a nice sound when he's pulled around. Kian just started playing with pull toys so I think Squirmy will be a hit.  

After my friend, Elisa, taught me the simple "back stitch" for hand sewing, I had fun with these.  I know it's a simple stitch, but I'm just learning the art of hand sewing. These were nice to work on while sitting next to my husband as he made Christmas cookies and watched movies.  These are for a few boys in my life.  The plain green one is for a Super Why fan.

Diaper sets for Felicity's BFFs
Complete with 3 cloth diapers, a wipe box full of cloth wipes, and a changing pad.

Handmade finger paint for my kids.

Some more Big Butt Baby Pants for Kian
This was my first experience sewing with knit.  I don't know why it scared me for so long.  It was nice to sew with.  This was once a dress that was handed down to me but had a stain on it I couldn't remove.  I made the pants so that the leg hem was actually once the hem of the dress.  That should show you how much I hate to do hems.  Pattern for these found here.

Name sign
This was a requested gift from a 6 year old boy.  I LOVE when kids request handmade gifts.  I made Cody's baby brother a name sign and Cody wanted one to match.  These letters will be tied to a branch once the perfect branch is found.  Cody's Mama thinks he might like to find his own branch.  Sounds good to me!

Boy's Wallet
Big boys are hard to craft for!  But I'm hoping a certain big boy in my life will like this wallet.  If nothing else, I think he'll like the dollar in it.  I was excited to make this for him.  I wasn't sure about how it came out or if I liked the pattern, but my husband thought it was fun and that any boy would like one.  I decided to trust what he said, since, he WAS once a boy.  ; )

Ok, I'm officially done.  Now to go clean up from the last few months of crafting, and start wrapping all this stuff up!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Gnome Story...

Once upon a time, deep in a forest, far away, there was a little gnome village where 5 little gnomes lived in their mushroom houses with their 5 little pets, and tended to their 5 little gardens.

Nagol was the most handsome of all the gnomes.  He was contemplative, sweet, merciful, and tender.  He loved being in the company of the other village gnomes and always had something exciting to talk about.  All the village gnomes loved Nagol for he was uplifting and sensitive to their needs.

His garden was perfectly kept and his flowers grew in perfect straight lines.  He was a firstborn, after all.

Nagol was the "big brother" of the village, watching out for and encouraging everyone, with his trusty dragon at his side.

Sil was Nagol's little sister who lived next door to him.  She was a picture of beauty with the longest braids of all the ladies in the village.

She was a sweet girl, but she couldn't help being jealous of Nagol's garden with his perfectly straight lines of flowers.  Try as she might, her garden always looked a bit more unruly than his.  She couldn't help it though.  Wildness lived inside her and would sometimes leap forth in beautiful ways.  This wildness is what gave her a fondness for her pet rhino, for she could relate with his wildness as well.  She never stayed jealous of Nagol for long because it was HER garden that the village gnomes loved to have adventures in.  Its wildness provided hours of treasure hunting and flower fort building.

Naik lived next door to his big sister, Sil.  He was wise, but goofy.  He was a friend to all and a picture of happiness. 

Naik had the silliest pet of all, an anteater, whom he generously let freely graze in his strawberry patch.  His strawberry patch may look small, but Naik was very wise and didn't grow more than was needed.  One strawberry could feed the whole village and make for a great feast!  He hosted these feasts every time a strawberry was ripe, for he was very giving and loving. 

Near Naik lived Willow.  She was not related to anyone in the village.  No one was quite sure when she even arrived in the village.  Somehow, she seemed to have always just been there.

Willow had a quiet giraffe as a pet and both the giraffe and Willow spent many quiet hours together.  An old tale circulated through the village that Willow and her giraffe talked silently to each other and that is why both spent so many hours quietly next to each other.

Willow grew cherry pies in her garden.  It may seem strange to have a garden producing cherry pie, but that was just Willow.  Something magical always surrounded her and it did not seem odd to the village gnomes for Willow to have a cherry pie garden.  Her cherry pies were more amazing than anything the gnomes had ever tasted and Willow would often silently leave pies on their doorsteps in the middle of the night.

Pippin was the tiniest of all the gnomes.  She was sweet, gentle, delicate, brave, and patient.  She was adored by all the village gnomes who doted on her.

Pippin's garden was the smallest of all, just like her.  In it she lovingly grew flowers that produced sweet nectar for butterflies and bees.  Just as she was always doted on by the other gnomes, she doted on her insect friends, returning the favor.

Don't let Pippin's size fool you.  She had tamed the most wild beast of all for her pet, for she was brave and strong in faith.

Each gnome in the village was different, and each were the same.  They appreciated their differences (most of the time), and leaned on those differences to help their village thrive.  Often times, they took breaks from their gardening and enjoyed lounging on lily pads in their pond together....just enjoying being in each other's company.

To hear more adventures of Nagol, Sil, Naik, Willow, and Pippin, you'll have to come play with Felicity and the new playscape she'll open Christmas morning.

Wrapping It All Up

Since having a child old enough to hold a marker, I have not bought Christmas wrapping paper (any wrapping paper, come to think of it).  Instead, we use what we have on hand to create personal wrapping each year.  Sometimes I have rolls of brown packing paper on hand.  Brown paper is my favorite.  If I have it on hand, I roll it out on our table or playroom floor, set out markers, crayons, pencils, stamps, etc, and let the kids go at it.  If I don't have brown packing paper, I cut the bottom off brown paper shopping bags and the kids decorate the plain inside.  This year we somehow acquired a HUGE roll of white paper so we've been using that as well as the brown paper bags.  Here's' a list of materials we've used in the past to create beautiful handmade paper;
*finger paint
*Stamp ink (which we stamp fingers, old thread spools, wine corks, and stamps into)
*Glitter glue (we painted it on with brushes and it made beautiful paper!)
*Acrylic paint
*the possibilities are endless!

Here's my two older kids making paper last year.  Look how tiny and cute they were!  Felicity's piggies are so SHORT.  Her hair has grown to the middle of her back in a year.  I can't believe this was only LAST year.  Feels like years ago.

And here they are this year.  I tried including the baby but he consumes everything and thinks crayons and markers are ESPECIALLY tasty, so we did this while he napped.  A good quiet activity.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Handmade Holiday 2010 Work Weekend

Last weekend my mom and I decided to sew all weekend.  She's making a lot of handmade things too.  So we set up at her house where her long table was soon full of fabric, sewing tools, and sewing machines.  My wonderful husband not only kept the kids busy with movies, toys, and nature walks, but he also made us coffee to get us going in the morning and food to keep us going.  Have I mentioned that he's amazing?  So anyways, here's a quick glimpse of the projects I finished up this last weekend.

These little peg people are for my Lissy.  I had so much fun making them.  Logan saw me making them and requested some for himself.  So that little orange guy on the end is for him and if you know Logan, you'll know that the little orange guy is a perfect fit for him.  These were SOOOO easy to make.  I bought the pegs at Michaels, slapped a few coats of paint on their bodies, drew eyes on with a sharpie, and covered the whole peg in Mod Podge.  For the girls I braided some embroidery thread for hair and stuck it on with hot glue.  I sewed up some pointy gnome hats and glued those on with craft glue.  Done.  Super easy.

This is a "Tickity", which is my own little creation.  I make them for babies.  They make a good first lovie because they're easy to grasp.  They make great teethers too because they are made from washcloths. One of his ears crinkles.  They were both supposed to crinkle but I had issues that I didn't notice until he was all stitched up.  So, he's a bit unique.  : ) 

A few felt monogrammed tree ornaments.

Some wrist pin cushions.  I found a free tutorial for these online which, of course, I now can't find to post here for you.  I'll keep looking. 

These are for that amazing man I mentioned above.  He always complains that we don't have enough dish towels.  I had bought some clearanced fabric that I loved so I adorned some "bar mops" with strips of it.  He won't care what they look like so I used my favorite fabrics, which makes me very happy.  I know this is an odd gift for a grown man, but I'm having trouble with ideas for him.  We don't usually give each other stuff anyways....since the kids came along.  This is just a practical gift with a personal touch that I know he'll appreciate. 

Comfy pants for my kids.  Our house is COLD, and these sew up so fast.  I bought the blizzard fleece for $2.99 a yard on sale!  I couldn't pass that up.  The deer are for Lissy, and I have a matching pair, which will make the pants all the more special for her.  The orange ones are for Logan and though you can't tell, the black sections are dragons, which he loves.  The crazy pair are Kian's.  I was hoping to have scraps from the deer or dragons to make his but didn't so my mom rummaged through her fleece scraps and found just enough of that crazy print for him.  Its a bit wild for me, but they will keep him very warm.  : )  My mom also made each of them a pair for Christmas.  So between pairs made by her in the past years which keep getting handed around in this house, and the 2 pairs we made between us, the kids will be VERY warm around the house this winter. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Handmade Holiday 2010 - Doll Bedding

What am I going to blog about after the holidays are done and there's no more Handmade Holiday to participate in?

Anyways, here's a little doll quilt and pillow that I put together for a little girl who will receive her first doll this Christmas.
I used scraps from the quilt my sister and I made for this little one when she was born.  So now her doll will have a matching one.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Handmade Holiday 2010 and a "Mama's Christmas"

As this posts, I'm out with two amazing women on a "Mama's Christmas."  We are heading to SLO for shop wondering, food, and whatever else we feel led to at the moment.  A time out just the three of us to celebrate friendship and Christmas.  I am so blessed to have these ladies in my life.  I spent a little time crafting for them over the last few days, which was SOOO fun.  I have so many little ones in my life, most of my crafting has been for them.  Not only was it nice to switch gears, but I KNOW they will like these gifts because they too craft and sew.  I sometimes worry about giving people handmade gifts because I wonder if they'll think it's lame.  No worries with these ladies in that area.  I'm also excited because THEY inspired their gifts.  Elisa wanted a whole L wall.  L, for her last name.  So I made monograms to get her started on her L wall.  Cheri inspired the wrist pin cushion when she explained to me her chaotic pin situation.  Hers comes complete with pins because she NEEDS more pins.  Elisa also got a bundle of fabric blocks for a quilt she's working on for her daughter.  No two blocks are the same so I went through all my scraps and cut her a bunch of blocks.  Elisa inspired the wrapping... drawstring bags.  She dreams of a playroom organized with bunches of drawstring bags.  My wonderful baker husband, Zac, made his famous chocolate covered Ritz peanut butter crackers the other night so each bag contains a small bag of chocolate goodness as well.

Here's some pictures of their goodies;

I am so blessed to have these women in my life who pray for me, comfort me, uplift me, support me, speak truth to me, am patient with my venting, and love and care for my kids.  The three of us have traveled many major life roads together in the last few years.  I have been blessed to have them come alongside me and insist on taking some of my burdens off my back and onto their own.  And I have been HONORED to carry their burdens alongside them.  Thank you Jesus for Cheri and Elisa, and thank you for Your birth which gives me an excuse to craft for them. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sister in Law's Powerbar Recipe

My sister in law is a personal trainer and health nut.  We tried going gluten free while I was trying to figure out some thyroid problems, and she shared this recipe with me, which is her favorite gluten free snack.  We are no longer doing a gluten free diet thanks to new thyroid medications that are working miracles, but I still love to make this snack.  One of my New Year's resolutions will be to bake more of our common needs such as breakfast food, bread, and snacks.  The snack baking kinda stumped me so I'm glad to have this healthy recipe to add to my baking list.  It's so easy, the kids love it, and its great to throw in the diaper bag for anywhere snacking.  Of course, Kian can't enjoy it for another year yet as it has honey in it.  Anyways, here's the recipe;

Rice Cereal Peanut Butter Bars

7 Cups rice cereal
2 Cups dried fruit
1 Cup nuts
1 1/2 Cups peanut butter
1 1/2 Cups honey
1 tsp. vanilla

Boil peanut butter, honey, and vanilla in saucepan.  Mix together rice cereal, nuts, and fruit.  Mix all ingredients together until everything sticks.  Add more honey if needed.  Put mixture in a 9x13 pan and smash down well.  Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or until set.  Take out of 9x13 and cut into squares.  Keep them refrigerated to keep their stiff consistency.

And since it's almost Christmas, I can't help but think that these pretty little bars would make a nice handmade treat for neighbors and friends.  A little switch from the same old cookies. 

I hope you try them and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Handmade Pom Poms

Felicity and Logan have a new obsession....FOOTBALL!  This pleases their dad VERY much!  Zac started taking them to our local high school's football games this season and they have literally LIVED for Friday nights.  They love everything about it; the game, the players, the band, the people....everything.  They didn't even mind sitting through an entire game in the rain.  #23 has red hair so naturally, Logan has a very favorite player.  And Felicity loves the cheerleaders.  The kids play football at home.  It started with them both playing the game but as Felicity loved the cheerleaders more, the game changed to Logan playing football, and Lissy cheering for him.  She didn't have pom poms so she used two beanbags I'd made for her last Christmas.  The poor thing was waving around these beanbags cheering for her brother.  Well, I couldn't help myself and the morning of possibly the last game of the season, I whipped together a set of pom poms for her in Bearcat colors, crimson and white.  She was thrilled and Zac said the minute the cheerleaders came out, Felicity asked for her pom poms and waved them through the whole the rain.  They were like wet mops when she brought them home.  :)

Cheering for her brother.
Her namesake would be very proud.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Handmade Readers

We have been making our own readers!  This is what we do;

First I write the same sentence about 10 times on card stock using words from Logan's Word Wall.  This gives he and Felicity 5 sentences each for their readers.  Next I cut apart the sentences into single words.  The first task for the kids is to sort their words.  Logan reads them as he goes, but Felicity just sorts by sight of course.
Next the kids glue the words in order, one sentence on each page.  Logan does this task independently but I help Felicity to make sure the words are in order.

This particular reader was titled I Sat and each page read "I sat on a".  I let the kids go through my stash of magazine clippings, finding things they wanted to sit on.  I made sure none of the items started with a vowel.  They chose one item for each page and glued it next to their partial sentence, completing it in picture form.  It was fun to see the items they picked to add to their book.

Once completed, each of them took a turn reading their book to us on the "Author's Stool", which made them very proud.  I make Logan point to each word in his readers as he reads it to us.  I do that to make sure he's actually looking at the words and reading them instead of just spouting it out memorized.

I had wanted to purchase a reader set but now I'm glad I didn't.  Our handmade reader set is growing as Logan's Word Wall grows and the nice part about making our own is that the words in his readers directly reflect the words he is learning through his curriculum.  Well, that's the best part.  It's also nice that they're free and making them reinforces the words and the idea of sentence structure.

And yes, my kids often do school in their pajamas.  We don't run our heater, which leaves the house at about 52 degrees during morning school time.  Bunny sleepers keep them warmer than anything else.  Wouldn't you love to color, craft, create, and read in pajamas?