Category Archives: Creative

A New Direction

Yesterday morning, I received an email that kind of sucked the wind out of my sails over my plans for the upcoming school year. I thought I was an easy contender for a job that would be perfect with my schedule with the kids and I was pretty excited about it all.

It ends up that I never even got the chance to apply!  Talk about a way to start off a glorious summer Sunday! (You do hint my sarcasm there, right?)

It put me in a bad mood all day, much to the frustration of my husband and my sweet kiddos. I feel like I’m back at square one trying to figure out what I will do part-time, in addition to my design ideas, but this morning I have had some breathing room and time to think. I’m sitting here in my dining room, staring out my back window, just contemplating the future. Kids are quiet with a friend over all day, so thankfully….I have had some quiet time today to regroup.

I’m enjoying the leftover dying flowers from Maggie’s party….

And I’m thinking on this:

(above image from Raechel Myers IG feed from She Reads Truth)

And I’m realizing (or more likely REMEMBERING) that this whole life thing is not about what I want or how this is supposed to go in my mind. It’s about how it’s supposed to go in the way that’s best for everyone possibly involved. God’s plan is greater.

For a long time now, I have wanted to do something that was helpful in some way or glorifying to God in some way and I keep waiting to see what that is. Yes, I know that raising my babies as my sole job for the last 8 years has been glorifying to God. But now it’s time that I ventured out from the home and I want to see where I can be used. It’s difficult to wait and see what happens, especially when you see it happening all around you. I have lots of interests and ideas of things that I could do to bless others, but I also have to remember that I need to be working to be a secondary supporter to my family’s income now. What job takes those two things hand in hand for me right now? I’m not totally sure yet. I feel that I’m on the brink of knowing and I have a couple of ideas up my sleeve of how to further push this to see where it all goes.

For now, I’ll look upon my dying flowers, enjoying the last couple of days of their color. I’ll enjoy my hot summer days with my babes, I’ll keep reading and learning and searching and forging new friendships. And most importantly, praying over it all.

Please pray with me.

And for me.

And if you have a prayer request you would like to share, please do.

On another subject – I hope to have Magdalen’s birthday party pictures up this week. My friend, Sarah, took them but I forgot to download them from her camera before she left the next day! Aaagghh! My fault, so hopefully I’ll get them somehow to share this week! Happy Monday, friends!

Vintage Farm Fresh Breakfast Bridal Shower

I posted a sneak peek yesterday of this fun party we threw for Maddox’s Kindergarten assistant from last year, Miss Sarah.

She’s getting married in early 2013 and I had a really great time pulling this together with help from the other Kindergarten moms who made or brought food to the table.

This bridal shower had a different twist to it because all of the Kindergarten class was invited to celebrate Sarah!

That was a bit of a challenge to make the whole thing 6 year old friendly AND still feel like a sweet grown up party.

So….who doesn’t like breakfast?! : )

I’m a girl who grew up in the country so all things vintage country or farm style are dear to me because they feel so natural and normal. It is truly not a “style” to me but things that I have always loved and/or seen since childhood.

Here enters the Vintage Farm Fresh Breakfast theme. I knew that Sarah’s style was a different type of vintage, but I was pretty sure that she would like it.

I hardly had to buy anything extra because I had most of the decor already in my party planning/house decorating/food serving stash. That is always a bonus.

I also luckily have an old massively long wood table for children and chairs in our sunroom, so seating for the kids made it pretty simple. (I also keep a plethora of vinyl tablecloths on hand for these kid occasions. Usually $3 at Walmart in the summertime.)

She’s so tiny she blends in at the kids’ table. 😉
All of the kids did great and they were amazingly excited to see her after 6 weeks of being out of school.

Here are a lot of photos of the food we served and the decor I used on the serving tables! Thanks to my friend, Sandra, for sharing all of these iPhone pics she got because if she hadn’t there would be NO pictures of this party. And that would be a sad thing. : / 
The quiches that were supposed to be made the night before couldn’t be made due to power outages, so we were able to grab some quiche from Publix and they were YUM!
I always prefer to use real dishes, real glasses, and real silverware. Even with children! Less waste and cheaper in the long run. 
Butter, syrup, and sugar – served the old fashioned way. 

Fresh eggs purchased from a friend’s daughter who raises chickens and sells their eggs as her job.

Maddox was happy to see his friends and Sarah and also glad that it was a grownup party that included his type of food. ; )

Our sweet set of juice glasses for the kids. I searched for a set of these for about a year before I found them locally. I think I paid $1 each. SCORE!

Milk bar with milk containers bought at World Market and milk bottles purchased from Shop Sweet Lulu. The little cow creamer was just for decor and was something I used for Magdalen’s 2 year Vintage Cowgirl birthday party. I’m hanging onto that thing!
Soda box purchased at World Market (no! I couldn’t find an authentic one in time, but this one served it’s purpose).

I use mason jars for almost every party, unless it’s formal. The mason jar drink dispenser seemed to fit the theme so I used that. (Purchased at Word Market also. I love that place!)

My vintage cart (purchased locally for a steal a couple of months ago), melamine dishes from Walmart and 2 STRAWBERRY PIES made by our dear baker friend, Sandra. Everything she makes tastes like heaven!

Mini peach preserves in a jar was the party favor I found and it was perfect for a breakfast/brunch party! The vintage rustic toolbox was something I already had that held them perfectly!

The food was scrumptious, the kids were well-behaved, the guest of honor felt loved, and there were lots of smiles all around.

Thanks to the ladies who helped me so much in the kitchen making the pancakes and all of the other last minute details that needed to be finished. Also, the cleanup! They were like little magicians in my kitchen because they had a lot of it cleaned up by the time I was done watching Sarah open her gifts. : )

Great friends equals a happy heart and I hope to show you some past parties on here that I have had the most fun scheming on and actually putting together and enjoying with dear friends!

Where I’m Going With This

Yes, yes, YES! I love this printable that I found last night and wanted to share. You can find a free link to print it out for yourself (also with a yellow background option) at Lady Bird Lane. Or you can click on the artwork above and it will take you to her post about it.

In the last few years, I haven’t been in the position to help a fellow mom that often. Mainly because of being on my own with my own kids all week long and sometimes barely surviving and being the one that needed a helping hand. But things are getting easier and easier as the months go by with my sweet kids and as they get older and I’m surviving much easier. : ) It’s been a long road for multiple reasons and I hope to share more about that soon. : )

Then after finding this artwork that I want to make myself read every single morning, I came to write this post and share it with you. And BAM!

New Blogger format, huh? I like it! I think I just might love it.
I just now saw it for the first time and while clicking around, I found my stats overview page.

And then I just stared at the numbers like an idiot when I saw what they were. Because, guess what? People read my blog!

I was amazed. Honestly. If you haven’t figured it out already, I love to write. And in addition to that love of writing (and taking photos of my life), I was hoping to use this as a springboard for whatever creative business it is that I hope to create for myself and my family. I have many ideas in mind and have tested out a few in my own time. But the beginning for me is knowing if people are even going to come read what I write in the first place, because it will go hand-in-hand with what I create.

The numbers it gave me were even more hilarious to me because I don’t even think that my friends read this blog. Ha! They never really mention anything to me when I write things, so I assume they don’t read it. So, who are these people that are reading? I would venture to say that Pinterest has a lot to do with it. (I was already testing that theory out. It’s just fun to finally get the results.)

I posted a few photos from Magdalen’s 2nd birthday party last year and apparently it was a hit. I have gotten more notifications from Pinterest in the last few months about “repins” on those photos than I had in the past year.

So when I checked the stats today?

Her Vintage Cowgirl 2nd birthday party post has received….

OVER 1200 HITS. : )

(Thank you, Pinterest. I might end up going somewhere with this whole idea if I’m patient.)

Thank you, to all of you who read this blog. Truly. I know that to a “big” blogger that is nothing in the grand scheme of posting stats. But to me, that’s huge.

I know that some of my friends and family think it’s strange that I post on here about my life because they think things should be private, etc. I don’t feel that way anymore. It used to make me nervous that strangers were reading about me, but hey! I’m reading about them, too. I realized that it wasn’t a huge deal so I don’t worry about it anymore. I have met so many amazing people from the blogging and crafting world that I would have never known had I not had this little space on the internet that’s all my own.

I plan to be even more real on here in the future. I have so many thoughts swirling in my mind, and some of them are hard thoughts. Things that maybe I’m nervous to write about or mention. Things that might hurt feelings in an indirect way and completely unintentionally. But…also things that I want to write about or share. And I feel that it’s okay. Because it’s about me and my feelings, as I carefully sort through them.

But for now, like I said….thank you. : )

Magdalen’s 2 Year Birthday Party {Vintage Cowgirl}



I’m so happy to finally be posting the photos from Miss Magdalen’s party!!! : ) Wheeeeee!
I knew I would finish going through every last one eventually, but wow…there were so many good ones it was hard to narrow it down for this post. I’ll most likely post more on my FB page, especially the really good ones of Maggie’s friends. I tried to keep this post specifically about her and the theme. Oh…and my friends, since these things would never happen without them letting their little ones join us. ; )
I combined a lot of these into collages, just because it seems to make the scrolling through a bit easier. Even a photo-lover like myself can get tired of photo after photo after photo….
Having said that, I’m ready to share!

Maggie and her Daddy were all ready to greet guests as they arrived at the door. She knew it was her party, since she saw the huge banner on the wall when she woke up that morning. I could tell she was extremely excited, but not quite sure what to do as people arrived. But trust me…as she saw each familiar face and little friends come through the door, she quickly warmed up to the party idea. ; ) (A bit like her mother, maybe?)

The inspiration for her party came simply. I am nuts about party planning as it is, so I’m constantly perusing party sites online. (Constantly. Even when I’m not planning a party.) One of my favorites over the past year or two has been The Tomkat Studio. The lady behind this amazing printable shop is Kim and she is running a totally fabulous business. I love printables when needed. They are easy for me to work with and the girls that work for/with her were WONDERFUL. I have so many future party ideas up my sleeves for these kiddos, just because of the inspiration from Kim’s company! Remember how I’m a procrastinator? Well, I forgot to check the lead time on ordering my personalized printables and when I went to order, there was no time to receive them before the party. I contacted the ladies there and they were so amazing. They worked quickly and did a rush-rush order for me. I was pleasantly surprised! : ) A lot of companies would have just said “Sorry!” You can see Magdalen’s invite here.

The Chicken Salad & Peanut Butter with Jelly signs on the wooden sandwich crates below were some of the printables from the Vintage Cowgirl collection. Perfection. I wanted NO bandana print anywhere in this decorating scheme and with this I was able to pull it off.

I used my 2-tiered fruit basket as a veggie & dip holder with a tag saying “FEED” clipped on. 
Weeks in advance, I purchased 2 boxes of clementines at the grocery store and saved the wooden crates they sold them in for the sandwiches we served. Perfect size! I just lined them each with an old soft flannel piece of fabric for the vintage cowgirl look.
I don’t enjoy using paper dishes, plastic silverware, or paper cups at parties. Sometimes I have no choice, as in Maddox’s party which you’ll see photos of soon, but I try to reuse as much as possible. So, even though it’s a 2 year old party, they had real plates. I chose my set of worn in, off-white, grooved dishes for them to use. They are pretty sturdy and worked perfectly. 
We served Izze Clementine & Black Cherry flavored sodas and IBC Root Beers. 
One of my favorite purchases was the little cow creamer I used to hold a flower on the table. It is truly a vintage piece I purchased from Alice’s Looking Glass on Etsy for about $5. You can see it in the middle picture above. I will always save that for Magdalen. 

My girl is not a shy little lady. Here she is hamming it up for the camera as our neighbor, Les, was clicking away. I totally cracked up when I saw the series of photos this one was in of her eating her apple. She just kept getting closer and closer to the lens. Poker face is what I call her. ; )

Another wonderful idea I snagged off the internet was the “Cowgirl Cookie” favors from Bakerella. Love her!! I used her cake pops for Maggie’s 1st party last year and also Maddox’s party this year in February. You can’t go wrong. Um…unless you don’t prepare and you actually do it wrong.

Above, I caught Miss Maggie stealing a Cowgirl Cookie that I had already made off the dessert table. She paused for half a second when she saw me looking, but then kept on walking as if “whatever”. It’s her party…she can eat if she wants to. ; )

The Cowgirl Cookie favors with pink M&Ms were a huge hit! And they were so stinking adorable all lined up with the twine and cute pink striped fabric on top. The tags on each jar were a free printable from Bakerella herself. Perfect!

I haven’t had a store-bought cake at a birthday party since Maddox’s 3rd birthday party. Magdalen was 4 weeks old, so I gave myself a break that year. I love a homemade cake! And I love the simplicity of the flavors and the look. I have been known to make a crazy cake or two for a party, but this year was not the case. 
I knew I wanted a cake bunting on top since I first started planning this party, but I didn’t have the cake in mind until I saw the little wooden girl holding the Birthday Girl sign. As soon as I found that and purchased it, I knew what I wanted. I made my own bunting with paper, instead of fabric. I was in a hurry and had the correct prints on paper. 
I wanted a 3 layer small cake with a light, moist fruity texture and white or light icing. My friend, Amanda Reeves, came through for me. : ) She gave me the recipe for Pineapple-Orange Delight Cake and it was SO GOOD. And perfect for what I wanted. I love how the cake turned out. Exactly what I had envisioned for my baby girl. 
Maddox is precious with Sister. He was just as excited about her birthday as I was! He helped me carry the cake to her for blowing out her candles and stood by her side the entire time. And when I said “Maddox, would you like to start the Happy Birthday song?” he didn’t miss a beat. He led that song like a little pro. He was so proud of her and it melted my heart. Here he is leading out in song….and then helping her with one last faraway puff so she thought that she had blown her candles all by herself. Sweet, sweet brother and sister!
Now don’t go thinking that I came up with all of these ideas by myself. 
I didn’t. I just love to execute them and then put my own spin on the rest of the details. Plus, I have no time with 4 solid weekends of Christmas guests right before this poor child’s party. I do what I can. 
The banner I used for Maggie, I bought from Vistaprint. I had never gotten a banner from them before, but I was honestly impressed with the quality! It was vinyl, not photo paper, and she can have this forever. It reads – WANTED for crimes including: mischievous grins, wild child antics, & sneakiest sister. I got this idea and styled it after the one in THIS post. I just changed the words to match Maggie-girl specifically. I took the picture the day after she turned two, in our backyard. 
My partner in crime for major party overhaul is Rebecca Larson. She and I can get a little out of hand with all the details, but we LOVE it. She never thinks I’m crazy and she knows she can always call me with her outrageous ideas and I will love them. It is so nice to be close to someone I’ve known for the majority of my life. No explaining pasts is needed. She is one of the most caring people I’ve ever known and I’m so thankful to call her one of my best friends, and that my kids can call her kids the same. 
Mom has been there for almost every single party, up until the wee hours of the morning the night before, helping me with my crazy ideas. It’s the last minute way that I work and thrive that makes her roll her eyes, but she loves these kids so much she never says No. ; ) Thanks, Mom!!!!!

As I said earlier, these parties would not be what I imagined without the friends that show up. I have been so blessed to become a part of such a wonderful group of girls here in my life. We are lucky to all have children that are best buddies with either Maddox or Maggie or BOTH. We have become so close while doing Bible study meetings together each week, Sabbath School classes together, and playgroups together. I would not have such a full life today without all of these ladies who are constantly encouraging me as a mother and wife. 
From Left to Right: Gissela Kroll, Jessica Korzyniowski, Rebekah Davis, (Gissela), (Jessica), Ashlie Wright, Rebecca Larson, me, Anne Andrus (my wonderful neighbor & friend)
I had to include this photo of Jessica. She was so carefully perched on the edge of the windowsill in our sunroom where the party was held…and she’s like 6 or 7 months pregnant here. It is such a great photo, and perfect example of her contagious smile & laughter as she totes around Baby #2, that I had to share it. 

I let Maddox invite his die-hard friend and neighbor, Lillybeth, to Maggie’s party. I have a feeling she’ll be a re-occurring character through his life. They’ve been buddies since they were under 2 years old and they fight like cats & dogs, but they love each other dearly. They are definitely fixtures in each other’s lives, almost like siblings. I love this set of them together so much, it makes me laugh out loud! Haha! Their personalities are totally shining through here. 

My not-so-baby-girl, Magdalen Leigh.

Maggie really came through at this party with the expressions and hamming it up. I was totally shocked. She usually has such a solemn face and won’t let others know what she’s thinking, but she was a riot at the party. Here she is checking out her personalized “I’m 2” shirt with her initials on it from Heather Jamieson, trying on the adorable knit hat and scarf that Rebekah Davis made her, doing a surprise face at the book that came with it, and then licking the pretend wooden ice cream that Anne Andrus gave her. I was cracking up at her! She was LOVING the attention and I had never seen her like that before. 
Chad and I gave her a first American Girl Bitty Baby for her birthday that day. We had it all set up with a pram stroller, clothes, and a diaper bag. She took to it immediately and I was so excited! We have changed many, many pretend diapers since then. ; )
Showing Papaw Steve how to tuck the baby in the stroller. She was so proud of that baby!

All the 2 year olds and Maddox. If only you could have seen the song and dance routine in Portuguese that Gissela was putting on for them just to try and get this shot. I was dying! And, oh…we have it on video. Hahaha!!

After the party, Maggie was playing Ring Around the Rosie with Lillybeth and Macey. I snuck into the living room and took a few photos, not expecting to get anything good. And I ended up with one of my favorite shots of the day. I’m excited to (someday when I get around to it) blowing this up onto a canvas for her bedroom. 
My perfect, little, silly, prankster, mischievous girl. Growing too fast, as usual. 
(If you’re wondering about Maggie’s shirt for the party, I bought it from Oh Fiddlesticks! on Etsy.com. On the front is a Cow picture + a vintage Girl picture. Get it? Cow + Girl. On the back, which you saw in the earlier photo, it actually says Cowgirl. I love this t-shirt and have purchased another style of t-shirt from them for Maddox. He has the Bowtie/Moustache t-shirt that they make and loves it! Highly recommend! Skirt from Children’s Place. Black cowgirl boots from Target.)
Stay tuned for photos from Maddox’s 5th Birthday Party later this week! 

{joy of love} class from willette

Happy Monday evening! This post is later than I planned, but I was enjoying my kids too much today to stop and write this out. : )

{brotherly love while brushing their teeth. best friends.}

Maddox and Maggie spent Friday through Sunday at my mom’s house this weekend, while Chad and I had our first quiet weekend alone in our own home in probably 3 or 4 years. Long overdue! I had so many projects on my to-do list, but only two were accomplished: cleaning and spending time with Chad.

My number one goal for the weekend was something I named: The Great Toy/Book Purge of 2011. : )

{all the kids’ books. 14 stacks. OVERWHELMING.}

Another long overdue activity. Wow. And of course, this is totally something that must be done when the kids are nowhere near coming home to see their things being hauled out. No one wants to be in the middle of that project and see your child(ren) break down in tears from the stress. (Secret: They haven’t even noticed that I took away a ton of toys & books from their rooms, their playroom, and from our family room. Just as I suspected.)

The other goal for the weekend with no kids was to RELAX. With Chad. It was a quiet 2-3 days at our home and so peaceful. I missed the noises of the kids, but it was a nice break. I could think, which I can’t really say on most days.

Chad and I went out to dinner once by ourselves to start off the weekend and that was much, much needed. It was so relaxed and I was able to share with him some thoughts I’ve been having as I decide what it is I really want to do regarding the multitude of dreams rushing through my mind at any given moment. He had some wonderfully solid advice, and most importantly what I needed was the encouragement he gave me. We don’t usually get to just leisurely talk about ourselves to each other.

It was refreshing for us, but of course we were so happy to see the kids last night when they got home. : )

Now, back to the real reason for my post….

the {joy of love} class from willette designs: photography & more.

Did I mention it’s FREE? I love this lady. I love her photos, I love her style, I love how she loves her two kids, I love how she treats her followers (including me) like an old friend when we have a question or a comment. She is amazing! : )

And now she’s doing this class. Wheeeeee!

Photography is a hobby for me and I’m always trying to hone my skills on my own. Which can be difficult with limited time to work on it in the daylight hours. I have my hobbyist camera that I love, I have 2 of the 3 lenses that I ultimately want to complete my camera bag, I have my Idiot’s book for Canon EOS (Ha!) and I have multiple people online that post tips and tricks to try out on my own. It’s so much fun for me and I’m so thankful that I can stay home with my babes all day and practice on them. I’ll be interested to see if I make progress by the end of the year. : ) This class is one of my first steps in strengthening my photography skills and exploring my style in photos. I am so excited!!

So, click on the photo above for the {joy of love} class and it will link directly to the information you need to take it yourself.

Willette describes it with these words: “participants will receive daily email prompts/photo assignments with some tutorial/instruction built into the daily email lesson.  it is that easy.  i email you every morning, and you follow the assignment/prompt if you would like.  i will create a public flickr gallery where you can share if you so choose.”

Awesome! Join me in this fun project and I’ll be posting photos that I capture during the month of February featuring the {joy of love}. : )

10 Simple Ideas for Surviving Cabin Fever

Along with winter and the end of the holidays, things start feeling really depressing for me each year.

I’m cold and summer seems way to far away, the dreariness makes me tired, my kids have cabin fever because they are (a) either sick or (b) out of school because of snow, and the sun goes down around 4:45pm. So your morning is really the only time to run errands or get out before the temperature drops again. My kids are waking up while it’s dark in the morning and I really just want to crawl in bed and sleep all day. Many days the kids and I never make it out of pajamas because I just can’t quite get it together. Sounds so pathetic when I write it out like this, but it’s the truth.

And we survive. As Maddox would say, “This is how we DO it!” 😉 Here are my 10 best activities for these cold/sick/snowy months:

1. Get some stamps & ink. I bought this Melissa & Doug Deluxe Alphabet Stamp Set of the entire alphabet (uppercase & lowercase plus punctuation) from Homegoods back in the summer and just now gave it to them. They already had a Melissa & Doug Vehicle Stamp Set , but I felt that Maddox would enjoy stamping words he knows with these. Maggie can work on her alphabet at the same time! They BOTH love it. Maggie ends up stamping all over herself, but I don’t really care. She’s happy. Maddox is happy. I’M HAPPY.

2. Find a chalkboard. Maddox got this Mala Easel for Christmas ($14.99 at Ikea) and of course, they both are digging it. There is a dry erase board on the other side and a paper roll which I haven’t even set up for them yet. But chalk! What kid doesn’t love chalk?!

  

3. Line up baby dolls. 😉 Okay, so this is something very OCD that Maggie does. She lines up everything veeeeerrrrry perfectly including DVDs, Matchbox cars, her babies, plastic animals, cards…you name it, she organizes it. It bought me 20 minutes of time so I’m including it here. Plus, I love these pics of my old baby dolls. (Did anyone else have this yellow Honey Doll back in the late 70’s? Maddox named it Alex.)

4. We watch birds. It’s maybe more me that watches them and am continuously saying “Hey guys, hurry…look at the birds over there!!!” They humor me and come running and stand at the windows and laugh with me and scare the birds away in doing so. It’s all fun. We are lucky enough to have this amazing sun room on the back of our house that is an overlook down into a little valley and the mountains and sunset beyond. There is a 100-acre farm (I’ve been told that’s the size) behind us and that’s pretty much it! They sell produce and Chad and Maddox have walked down before to bring vegetables home. It is beautiful and one of my favorite places to sit with the kids. We hear owls at night, horses, wild turkeys come running through our street and back yards, and I’m thankful for this place. We can look out all the windows and see thousands of birds landing in the trees above us while we sit cozily on our pumpkin colored sofa. :)

5. We take photos. My kids love nothing more than for me to round them up into the sunroom (where the light is totally amazing) and take hundreds of photos of them. Ha! Yeah, right. They don’t love it, but Maddox is a little poser and so photogenic and I pretty much finish with him quickly and chase his sister around trying to get a non-blurry photo. But it kills time and I sometimes catch some great photos or the perfect expressions that mean so much to me for this season in our lives.

6. Legos. Legos! LEGOS!!! How did we live before Maddox started Lego-ing at the ripe age of 3? I’ll never know. Oh wait. He used to nap. But napping had stopped by that age, so I owe the makers of Lego a big Thank You. Creative, Imaginative, QUIET play is perfect. For all of us actually. Maggie loves building little creations and I love helping if they need it. And he learns to help her if I can’t.

7. Crayons! Maddox had never seen a Crayola 64 Pack before (Remember getting your first pack for a school year? So magical!) and I had purchased about 5 packs in the summer for about $2.50 each on a great sale. So I brought these out last week during Maggie’s naptime. These are just for him and he loves taking his time picking out just the right color.

8. Paints! Again, these are mostly reserved for a quiet, creative play just for Maddox while his sister naps. Sometimes I will let her paint as well, but she’s another story. I have to sit right by her side if she has any writing utensil because she will always sneak away and start writing on a non-Amanda-approved surface. No fail.  Blank paper, paint and a paintbrush = perfect creation! We bought this Mala Paint Box with paints, colored pencils, and chunky crayons from Ikea. (So, maybe Joy Nudd and I went a little nuts in the kid’s section at Ikea on our Girl’s weekend back in September? It’s all so inexpensive, you just can’t help yourself!)

9. We have tea parties and play in Maggie’s kitchen. I have been so thankful for her new kitchen and Maddox’s new play store since Christmas! (I will write more on these two items later.) We put these in the sunroom so they are right by my kitchen. I can keep an eye on them and hear them while they play. Their wooden table is in there with their 2 red wooden chairs and they buy from each other, take it to the kitchen, “cook” a meal and serve it on the dishes at their table. It’s the cutest thing I’ve seen in a long time. And hearing the one-sided dialogue of Maddox to Maggie is so precious. (You think I could put a wire on him and record it all? If only….)

10. Just play. :) These kids love nothing more than for me to get down in the floor with them and snuggle, wrestle, twirl in the air, and all the other number of things you can still do with a 30-35 lb child. And watching them giggle and laugh out loud over it makes it even better. They are much more well-behaved after they receive that close attention and contact so it’s a win-win for all of us.

Yesterday I took a “Yes Day.”

I have been so busy for a month with cleaning, making food, buying gifts, planning meals, entertaining, planning parties, having parties, etc, that I have been saying No a lot. And it has made me sad and regretful and their attitudes have been showing the effects of it. Sunday, we had Maggie’s birthday party (pics to follow this week!) and since I had nothing pressing for this weekend, I gave myself a Yes Day with them.

Almost every time they asked me to play something, I tried to say YES! I made waffles & eggs for dinner last night because Maddox always asks and I always say no, but not this time! I didn’t do laundry, I didn’t do dishes, I didn’t clean one single thing. I took time to bathe both of them, brush their teeth, clip their fingernails/toenails, lotion up their poor dry winter skin and then sit and snuggle with them before bed a little more than I normally take the time to do. They loved every second. They were pleasant ALL DAY. Of course, I can’t do this every day, but I’m wanting to make a point to do more “Yes” moments. :)

And now to my soapbox: CREATIVE PLAY. I can not stress to you enough the importance of this. Don’t buy the gadgets. Don’t buy the battery operated toys. Give the kids the opportunity to entertain themselves. I see so many kids that get so bored, so quickly with all the gadgets they have at home and it’s really because they have forgotten how to think on their own. I love watching them imitate adult tasks at home like cooking, cleaning, dialogue, and then building things and making up games! Maddox literally makes up his own games with any little thing he finds. A piece of string, a bouncy ball, a frisbee…anything can be anything in their minds. Just give them the chance. We’re trying to keep the innocence in this house, while pushing their minds educationally in ways we find appropriate.

I’m not saying I’m perfect at this. If I need a nap desperately when Maggie is sleeping, I will set Maddox up with a computer game and let him play for a little while. Or watch a show (which I’m soooo particular about.) But in reality, the TV only comes on when she’s napping or if Chad is not here and I need a quick shower. I don’t turn on the TV for myself unless they are both in bed. They don’t ever see me watching it. I’ll step off the soapbox now.

So, I hope you enjoyed the ideas for when your kids are driving you nuts with being at home for days on end…and the photos. Always the photos. 😉