Creation Jar Terrarium

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Today I am sharing an idea that I just pulled off this past weekend for our church VBS.

The theme was “Walk Thru the Old Testament,” which begins with Creation!

As usual, I was the craft lady, so I wanted everyone to take home something neat that would last. As my second-oldest has been enthralled with making terrariums, I had a light bulb moment one day that a “Creation Terrarium” would be cool.

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It turned out to be a huge hit! As we had a different format this year and families did VBS together, both adults and kids had the opportunity to make one.

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I incorporated different elements of Creation–animals, rocks, plants, soil…

Some kids placed little frogs in theirs and others put in small animals that I had available.

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To pull this off for a group, I set it up like an assembly line. Here is the order in which I placed things:

  • plastic quart jar
  • gravel
  • potting soil
  • small fern (we used leather wood ferns)
  • moss (some foraged from our area and reindeer moss)
  • small animal
  • small rock
  • lid
  • twine or yarn, already cut
  • tag with markers to write their name on

I also put down brown roll paper on the tables to make for easy clean-up, which worked quite nicely!

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Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out. Unfortunately I didn’t get good pics with my camera while this was going down:( The kids made some really neat ones, and they were all just a little different!

If you’re looking for a cool, non-junky VBS craft, this is a great option. A little more involved than what I usually have, but well worth it!!

Denim Pocket Rug

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I have sorely neglected my blog lately. Too much end-of-the school-year craziness, followed by the annual adjustment to summer and kids being home 24/7. I apologize and will totally admit that I miss writing!

Also, I have not shown a single decent crafty project in a long , long while. Believe me, it’s not for lack of making things:)

One thing that I’ve totally been into is repurposing denim to make cool stuff. I will perhaps share one or more denim projects in the near future. Here’s one that I found to make with all the pockets of jeans I’ve cut up and basically deconstructed.

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A sturdy little accent rug. I saw an example or two on Pinterest and decided to try a small one to see if I liked it or not.

I did not do any step-by-step pictures, but I can give a brief rundown of how it was made. Basically I took a rectangle of denim, then took a variety of pockets that had already been cut out and arranged them randomly all over the rectangle. I pinned each one down to hold them in place.

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Then I took my handy dandy heavy duty Singer and began carefully sewing around the edge of each pocket. I tried to do all of the “top” pieces first, then went around what is visible of the ones that are more underneath. (Hopefully that makes sense?) Once they were all secure, I took a slightly larger rectangle of denim and sewed it so it is underneath and peeking out behind the original rectangle, just stitching around the perimeter.

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All in all, this didn’t really take that long to make. The prep of cutting all the denim is what actually takes more time. I would recommend definitely using a heavy duty needle, plus a heavier model sewing machine for this kind of project.

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Before use, I would also pop some Rug Gripper on the back so it doesn’t slide.

Overall, a unique little rug that is casual, country, and cool.

The Weight of Words

I should’ve seen the comment coming, but I didn’t.
Usually it happens that way. Sometimes there’s the usual suspects that you can brace yourself for and know something not-uplifting will likely come out of their mouth upon seeing you.
Then there’s the ones that take you by surprise.
Surprise or not a surprise, those words sting. A lot. And it doesn’t matter if you’re 4 years old or pushing 40, they still hurt. If you’re anything like me, though they may have been forgiven decades ago, those words can still smart at the oddest times many years later.
I’ve been wanting to write about the weight of our words for a long time now, but something happened last night that prompted my heart to write about it in a vulnerable way this morning.

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You see, it started like this….
We were up at my parents’ house last evening for a Memorial Day picnic. Things were going fine and we had the surprise of an older gentleman who worked with Jeff and I  years ago showing up to eat dessert and visit with my husband and I and generally catch up with everyone. When he had his visit in, he got up to leave and shook Jeff’s hand, then came over to me for a hug. This older man gave me a long, heartfelt squeeze, then loudly proclaimed, “Boy, I’ve always loved big women.” Everyone laughed. I could feel my cheeks starting to redden, and he went to joke about how my husband must like them too and made a joke about big barns or barn doors or some such nonsense. Everyone seemed amused at his antics. Everyone except me. I think I was a little flabbergasted and most definitely embarrassed. I saved my tears for later on when everyone was in bed and then broke down in front of my poor neighbor at the bus stop this morning.
Why oh why did this affect me so dearly? Especially as a supposedly confident, grown woman now pushing forty? I know I’m not alone. I have tons of sisters out there who have had to deal with similar things throughout their life and I’m sure can testify to how much it hurts.
I’ve never been petite, or svelte and willowy, or lots of the other things our culture reveres as a standard of beauty. Growing up as a tall, big kid, I have always had to field similar comments here and there. I have heard a whole litany of them. I can remember almost every one too. Even if 10 people could tell me they think I’m smart or kind or beautiful, that one comment about my weight or whatever else can easily drag me down in a tailspin and make me stew and generally feel terrible about myself. I could write a whole article (or series) about the topic of weight/size/etc, but I’ll save that for another time.
Here’s what I have to say to everyone—watch your words. Words hurt, even if they weren’t meant in a mean-spirited way. And I’m not just referring to weight, though that is a majorly sensitive one, especially for women. If I’ve gained weight, you really don’t need to tell me. I can assure you that I realize it already and am probably trying to quietly work on it. Though weight is a main one, it can really be anything. Maybe it’s parenting. Or your job status. Or your house. Or name-a-subject. Words are powerful, especially in this day and age where we are bombarded with them. Whether spoken or written, let’s use them wisely.
If you’ve used your words in a way that hurt someone, whether intentionally or no, please consider apologizing to that person. I am far, far from perfect, so I’m sure that I’ve said (or written) my share of hurtful words in the past. I know I have. I apologize to anyone that I may have hurt in this way, truly I do.
Parents, we especially need to watch what we say directly to, or in front of, our kids. You never know what they will hold onto, whether it be good or bad. We have a responsibility to build our kids up, not tear them down. I’m amazed at what my kids remember me saying to them or just in earshot of them. Usually it’s a very humbling experience to hear back what they remember me saying. Though I’m generally one to speak love and encouragement to my kids, I’m far from a perfect parent.

Lord help us all, right?
Lastly, I’m going to address those of us who have been hurt by words from someone else. They may sting for a long time, but let’s try to forgive. We live in a fallen world and these things are going to happen. What’s most important for me to remember is how much God loves me and treasures me. He thinks I’m awesome, no matter how imperfect I may be. And he thinks you are too!
Let’s use our words wisely this week.

What I’m Into: May 2016

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Happy late May. Our May has been SO gray here, but I’m thrilled to see more spring & summery weather in our weekly forecast. In fact, today is beautiful and I love having the windows and doors open. There’s nothing like it!

Here is what our family is into this May:

*Crazy Russian Hacker. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, look him up on You Tube. He does all kinds of science experiments and hacks. My boys are a little obsessed with him right now. I find him pretty amusing too.

*Canada Wintergreen Mints. I remember these minty Pepto-Bismol pink wafers from when I was younger, but hadn’t seen them in a long time until recently. I picked up a bag and have been sneaking in a couple a day. I’m a sucker for most anything minty. Love them.

*Earl Grey Tea. Though I am a serious coffee lover, I do enjoy the occasional cup of tea. (Especially since we’ve had all these yucky dismal days!) I really enjoy Earl Grey, which I like to brew nice and strong. Sheesh, I also just realized that I sound like a total old lady with my pink mints and tea bags;)

*Abide With Me by Matt Maher.  I absolutely, positively am in love with this song right now. It is such a great one that captures a bit about what it’s like to walk with the Lord everyday. Click on Abide With Me to give it a listen.

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*Colossians 3. My husband and I have been working through this chapter as a couple and in leading a group of young adults in Sunday School. The above verse was one I had adopted last year as a verse to dwell on and try to live by. The whole chapter is awesome though.

*Poppies. This is the right time of year to see vibrant poppies blooming along the road in certain spots. We just planted several in a flower bed in our yard, so I’m hoping they make it! I think they are SO beautiful.

I hope that you are finding beautiful and encouraging things in your day to day life as well, whether it be big or small.

Mother’s Day Card Humor

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms, Grandmas, and Moms-to-be out there!

I love Mother’s Day. Not because I get showered with lavish gifts and pampered silly by my family. Um, no….that usually doesn’t quite happen around here (though my husband does typically knock out a lavish breakfast for me, so there is that…).

What I love most about it (besides just spending time with my offspring) is the fun handmade cards I get from my kids. Though I don’t keep every blessed thing they have ever made, I do usually hold onto the Mother’s day cards they make, especially the ones that give me a chuckle.

There’s nothing like a Mother’s Day card made by your child that can either elate you– or deflate you. Or just make you crack up laughing. Their perceptions of me are usually very elevated (usually the younger they are), or sometimes a little too real.

Here are examples from my own kids that I’ve held onto…

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First up is something that I have 5 versions of. We were fortunate enough to have all of our kids attend the same preschool, with a lot of the same teachers along the way. I have one of these from each kid. My hand print with their little hand print inside of it. The text reads “Hand in hand, We will be, Together forever, You & me.” So sweet. I would love to hang all of these up, framed and in an obvious location, but I’m sure it would now embarrass the daylights out of most of them.

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Then there’s this. Though many of their praises involve my cooking for them, according to Joey his favorite thing to do with me is “Go to Burger King.”

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I think this was from two years ago. The school bus was kinda cropped out of the picture, but what you’re seeing is a Mommy heart greeting and hugging her little hearts as they get off the bus. How sweet, right? Well…this is the example of reality mixed with sweetness. If you can read the word bubble, one of my little hearts is immediately asking “what’s for supper?” Absolute truth. This is really what they ask almost every single day as they get home. Though sometimes “What’s for snack?” comes before the supper question. You can see where their priorities lie, right?

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Now we come to the fill-in-the-blank ones. These are usually good.

Though with one like this, it kind of forces them to be sweet. According to this child, I am “pretty as a princess.” Hey, I’ll take it….

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According to the same child, I am as awesome as a police car. I’m not sure what that means, but hey, a little boy thinks police cars are way cool, right?

His twin wrote this…

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I’m also awesome as transformers. For some reason I’m rather glad he didn’t try to depict me as a transformer…probably not a pretty picture…

I don’t have a picture of it, but a couple years ago one of them wrote that “My Mom’s favorite thing to do is _______.” He filled in “laundry.” Maybe because he sees me do it all the time! Oh well, I’m glad they think I like it I guess.

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What you can’t see in the above picture is the wording before my not so great picture. It reads, “My Mom is smart. She knows________.” My son filled in “a lot of health.” I have no clue where or how I know a lot of health, but I guess that’s good???

My most favorite card is an example from my oldest, probably when he was in about first grade. I don’t have the example of this anymore (unfortunately!), but I laughed every stinking time I came across it.

His fill in the blank read as follows: “My Mom is an _________________” He filled in “awsm runr.” Translation=awesome runner. I died laughing when I read it. Dear friends, I don’t run. At all. I like to walk, and I can do so at a pretty brisk pace, but I DON’T run. The same kid wrote that my favorite thing to do was exercise. Um, no….he also wrote that I like to cook rice a lot. Well, apparently I do know “a lot of health,” so there you go!

This year didn’t boast as many cards (yet), but one kid came home with something about how great a driver he thinks I am (no offense, Dad) and that Mom “almost always cooks supper for us.”

Well, I shared some fun little examples of what my children think of me.

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I may not really be the Best Mom Ever (who is?), but I’m just proud to be their Mom.

What I’m Into: April 2016

Howdy, howdy, and Happy April!

I realize I haven’t posted much lately, but that’s because the weeks have just been flying by this Spring. Basically April through mid-June are a blur here, for there are just so many extra things going on with us this time of year.

In case you’ve missed me, these are some things I’ve been into lately:

*Refinishing furniture. I’m almost finished a piece that was in my daughter’s room, which I painted in this fun purple color from Krylon. I’m not into tedious processes, so this helped me skip the whole sanding/priming mess and just spray away! It went on great! I am also experimenting with doing my own chalk paint to redo a storage bench that has been lingering in my basement. (I used a baking soda paste mixed with latex paint.)

*Lula Roe. This is a clothing company which has grown exponentially in the past year. My best friend started selling it and I really love their comfy skirts and dresses. I know a lot of folks are into the whole legging thing, but it’s not quite my comfort zone….as a public service I’ll not wear the pair I own out of my house.You’re welcome;)

*Aussie 3 Minute Miracle. This is a conditioner I started using a few months ago and noticed a difference when I do use it regularly. My hair is quite thick and has the tendency to be dry and frizzy. There are many things that don’t really work for me, but this one actually does I think! I still have big hair, but at least it’s not so dry.

*Working part-time. After many years of being a stay at home Mom (which I loved), I have been working part time this year. I just felt like it was time, especially as some of my volunteer responsibilities will be waning soon. At first I was helping in a tax office, then a position became available at my church for an admin. I applied, interviewed, and got the job. I think it’s been a great fit for me.

(As a funny/embarrassing aside, I did wear a Lula Roe dress the first day I worked at the office alone. It happens to be a nice modest length but twirls very easily. A UPS man came to deliver a big package, and I went out to open the door for him and sign. As I was signing, a HUGE gust of wind suddenly came up and blew my dress up a LOT! Thankfully I was wearing tights underneath, but I was kinda embarrassed. I didn’t say anything, and he didn’t say anything….)

*The Princess Bride. I know I had seen this maybe once or twice years ago, but it’s a classic for many other people. We decided to watch it one night, and my girl AND all the boys liked it! They also just discovered Harry & the Henderson’s. Thank you 1980’s!

I’ll sign off for now. Thank you for checking in!

Rachel

 

 

 

Some Truths About Having Older Kids

It seems but a few short years ago that we were the family “with all those little kids.” Maybe right now you are that Mom, or maybe you are just starting to shift into the strange land of “older kids.” Well, before you know it you will look around at your crew and wonder what the heck happened to all those little, sweet bodies that once inhabited your house. I know it was a gradual process here (after all, they’re not ALL the same age), but it sure seemed to happen FAST. I once wondered what it would be like to have kids all in school, or even all potty trained for a start. Now I know. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows like I once dreamed, but there are some pros and cons to having all older kids. Here’s what I’ve observed…

There will be smells. Notice that this is at the top of the list? For years our bedroom (the main baby changing area) was all Eau de Diaper Pail. Alas, it is finally stink free, but the odors have shifted to other areas. My boys’ bedroom, for example? Imagine a locker room aroma all the time. Can’t get rid of it. And just wait until your precious one suddenly develops BO. Shocker for the senses, y’all.  My 12 year old, who is really good about wearing deodorant regular, forgot to put it on for about a week just recently. It must have slipped his adolescent mind to also WASH under his pits while showering. It was bad, friends. So bad that his Dad even noticed and ordered him to scrub one night after driving him home from an outing. Start stocking up on Febreze and deodorant now. You may scoff but I’m serious.

You will become a taxi driver/chauffer. I hope you like your current ride because as soon as your kids are in ANY activities you and your vehicle will be like one. Sad but true. Even if you limit their extracurricular activities (we do), if you have multiple children you will find yourself driving—a LOT.

You can sometimes grocery shop all by yourself. This is a definite perk! At first this may seem like a vacation. Then you get kind of used to it. I think it took me a solid 2 years before I stopped shifting the cart back and forth whenever I stopped to look at an item. I was so used to keeping a little one calm while shopping that the movement was like muscle memory. Now I actually sorta like taking an older one with me so they can help me carry everything in the house!

Speaking of grocery shopping, you will be doing it OFTEN. No joke. Even up until a couple of years ago I could do a main grocery haul every few weeks and just do a fill-in here and there. I even did a little series about once a month grocery shopping. There’s no stinking way that could happen now!! It’s ridiculous how much can disappear in a few short days, especially once you have a teenager or two. A couple of days ago we had a big cooked lunch where everyone had plenty. Maybe an hour later I heard a package crinkling in the kitchen. There stood my 14 year old with a giant gross sandwich made of multiple Pop Tarts and an inch thick of peanut butter in between. He shrugged his shoulders, gave me a sheepish grin, and stated that he was hungry.

There’s lots of crap to keep track of. BIG one here, my friends. Once anyone is in school it begins. You’d better have a good paper-keeping and calendar system in place now or it could go south quick. Lots of papers to keep/toss, reading logs to sign, homework stuff, permission slips, fundraiser crap, snack sign-ups, and the list goes on forever….There’s been many a time that I’ve accidentally thrown a paper away and ended up digging through trash to locate it for a crying child. On the scheduling note, once upon a time my life revolved around preschool days and naptime. Now? Not so much, but just about a gazillion other things to juggle and generally keep track of in a day’s and weeks’ time. Moms, you will still be busy, just a different kind of busy. Though having lots of littles was all consuming, I feel like life was generally simpler than it is now.

The laundry increases. Sure, you may not be washing multiple baby outfits and nappies or whatever, but here’s the truth…..the clothes get BIGGER and therefore take up a lot more laundry space. The clothes get closer to adult sizes and therefore you just have generally more laundry mass and volume to keep under control. I know that for sports Moms the whole uniform thing can be a pain.

You can play more games together. A fun plus as they get older! We honestly didn’t do a ton of board games until recent years because now they can all understand rules and play on their own without Mom or Dad having to supervise. My youngest guys just turned 9 and we bought them Settlers of Catan. (Some of the best money ever spent!) We’ve had a blast learning it and were quickly and oh-so-nerdily addicted!! It’s been too fun just being engaged together in this way.

They get more adult humor. I’m not talking raunchy or anything like that. Just more grown-up humor in general. One evening my oldest just “had” to show me something online and we ended up looking at and cracking up over pictures of Pinterest fails. He also comes up with the greatest one-liners that are so witty.

You get to watch them blossom. I am getting more and more glimpses of the adults these guys will become and it’s pretty awesome! I love seeing the personality differences and watching their individual interests and talents come alive.

So I’m sure there’s more that can be added to this list, but those are some of the high points for me. I loved having a house full of littles and all the wonderful things that came with that. Looking back I do believe we enjoyed that stage very much, and I’m glad we did. However, there are so many neat things about each and every stage that a parent can enjoy.

40 Bags in 40 Days: Wrapping Up

Well, this is it. My 40 days are over and I’m DONE!

If you have missed my earlier posts, last month I had challenged myself to get rid of at least 1 bag of trash or donated items a day for 40 days.

The final tally? 15 bags and a whopping 32 boxes of stuff.

Some of these were just plain trash and others were donated to a local thrift store.

Would I do this again in the future? Absolutely.

Honestly, I think it would be beneficial to do it at least once a year. Sure, I’ve done purges before, but not quite as intentionally as this one. There were several areas I hadn’t even fully touched in a few years (hello, Christmas decoration area). Others I’ve gone over here and there, but stuff just accumulates, you know? Especially when you have seven bodies in one house. I can candidly say that I didn’t have to invest a huge amount of time to this project, just a bit every day.

Now, some of you may be wondering if I had heard of or read the Marie Kondo book (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up). I did pick up a copy over this time and read it. Obviously I did not follow her method, as she recommends tackling categories like all the clothing all at once and doing one giant purge within a very short time frame. Some of her recommendations were good, like only keep what you love and discard everything that does not bring you joy in some way. A few other things in the book were a little too new-agey to me and I found myself kind of rolling my eyes a bit.

So, all in all, I am sort of proud and glad that I followed this thing through. I would recommend it to anyone feeling the creep of “too much stuff.”

 

What I’m Into: March 2016

In like a lion and out like a lamb. That’s the popular saying for March, right?

Well, this year has been quite the weather roller coaster where we live. One day it’s feeling like early June and the next it’s calling for snow. Crazy.

Whether it’s a lion day or a lamb day, this is what we’ve been into this past month:

*Trailblazer Books. This is a book series that my kids discovered in our church library and have been reading on and off. They are all adventure stories that teach Christian values and each one highlights the story of a Christian hero from history.

*Street Food Around the World. We discovered this series on Netflix one night and tried watching it on a whim. Very educational, interesting and my whole crew was entertained. The host travels to different cities around the world and tries out a variety of street foods from that region.

*Stamps. A few years ago a nice older lady from our church very generously gave my oldest son a box of random US and international stamps. We hadn’t had them out in a looong time, and then one day my twins rediscovered it in their closet. We spent a whole evening looking up different ones and enjoyed finding out where each was from.

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*Purging my house. I’m almost completely done!! I will have another post soon about the 40 bags challenge and what I’ve learned.

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*Line drying laundry. I thank the Lord that I don’t mind doing laundry, because you know I have lots of it! One of my favorite tasks is to hang laundry out on our line, and now that we’ve had good weather for it, I’m able to do so again.

*Making wreaths. As Spring is approaching, I’ve had the urge to make some bright new wreaths. You have to know that making anything with my hands is like my love language, so I am one happy camper when I can create something new & pretty! I love creating all styles–grapevine, yarn-wrapped, burlap, fabric…..

Well, that’s it for now. Thanks for reading and have a blessed weekend!

Rachel