Tuesday, February 28, 2017

National Park Baby Shower


      I haven't posted any baby showers in a while, but it isn't because I haven't done any. I actually did an outdoor "lumberjack" themed shower back in the fall, but I didn't post about it. That one came together fairly easily and actually turned out cuter than I had even hoped. This story is a little different...

    As a refresher if you are reading this and you don't know me "in real life", I am from a large family and have five sisters. My oldest sister has kids, I, of course, have kids, but none of the "little girls" (the collective nickname for the set of sisters that are separated from my oldest sister and me by at least ten years or more) hadn't reached that milestone. Until this year! The fourth sister is expecting, due in April, and everyone is deliriously happy for her, she is made to be a mom.

    So, that mandated a better than ordinary shower effort. I truly do put my heart into any party that I plan, but this one, well, I wanted it to be *special*. Which meant it caused me to completely freak out. I could NOT get my "vision" for the look to come together. I spent excessive amounts of time on Pinterest, and discussed it at length with the other sisters but I was still having a hard time getting it to come together.

    We went with a National Park theme because, if you have ever checked out any of my other shower themes, you know I love to use the nursery decor as the jumping-off point for ideas. I love that many of the shower items can be re-used in the nursery, and it also helps to narrow down the billions of themes the Internet is happy to barrage you with. So, since she was doing a NP theme for the nursery (with colors of turquoise and orange) that dictated the shower theme.

    Yeah. Not as easy as it sounds! I felt like we veered a tiny bit into "camping" but you can't hardly think of one without the other. That may be why it was so hard for me to channel inspiration, because I do *NOT* camp. But I do love a National Park, I can thank my Dad for that. He didn't come to the shower, but I know he really appreciated the theme and is proud that he instilled in all of us kids a deep appreciation for America's parks!

 
   I frequently have to remind myself that when I am struggling with a party, I just need to do something. Crafting helps me to sort out what direction I want to take. The first piece I made for this shower was my favorite: a mobile. I crafted every little mountain and cloud with my own two hands. I love that the sun is the focal point, and helps to tie in the orange. I hung it in the middle of the circle of chairs. If you don't recognize the drab walls and enormous room from previous parties, it's the fellowship hall at our church. It's a beast to decorate, and I would know because I've done it a number of times! However, it is a great blank slate, and the best place to hold the 30+ women who attended. 
   Seriously, I think people are under the mis-impression that I have it all together. Nope. Wrong. I was literally gluing moss to the "L" (that's the baby's first initial) at 9:00 am. The shower was at 10:00 am. Yup. That's how I roll. I used the "vase-within-a-vase" technique for the tulips. The little jars have tea lights in them and they are from Hobby Lobby. I just added the brown ribbon for hanging. The outer vase was lined with these cool wood slices from Hobby Lobby that my oldest sister supplied. She also sent the pieces to put together the favors in the center.

  The favors were easy-trail mix, of course! I created the labels with the Avery online label making software and printed them onto Avery label stickers. My oldest sister sent the bags (they are brown paper eco-friendly sandwich sacks, so cute!), we filled them with a serving of trail mix, closed them with washi and slapped the label on. My dear husband actually put them together after I made him a sample. The "yeti" pun was my own creation-I cannot resist the opportunity to be "pun-y"! Ha!

   You can see it best in this photo but the "table cloths" are actually pieces of brown kraft wrapping paper from the Dollar Tree. My mom and daughter stamped them with the arrows to up the cute factor.
    This printable is a riff that I did on one from Pinterest that I couldn't source. I loved the image of the lantern with the verse on it, so I found a similar graphic on PicMonkey. I will try to put the printable up on the blog. Eventually!
   My husband is still recovering from knee surgery so he got big time sucked in to baby shower prep. He painted the little cone mountains and tree for me. Big heart eye emoji for a guy who pitches in and does not judge his wife (too harshly) for her tendencies to go overboard and be a giant walking stress ball leading up to these events. The owl vase is from my home and the beautiful orange Gerbera daisies are from Trader Joe's. The confetti is from Hobby Lobby, and the Yosemite canvas is TJ Maxx, I believe. (My mom bought it for my sister.)
   These images are from old calendars that my sister bought at a discount. I loved the visual impact that gave, and they filled up a pretty decent chunk of space for cheap. That is always a win in my book!

  Not the best photo of me. The guest of honor was as cute as a button, though! She hardly looks pregnant. However awful I may look, it still gives a better idea of the scale of the collage.

     I like pulling furniture into this large space because it makes it feel less sterile.  The stuffed animals are ones my sister has collected for the baby's room (She graciously lent me things she already had so that I wouldn't go over budget!) My oldest sister supplied the cute tree cut-outs, they are wood pieces with the bark left on. I made a garland with them and more of the log slices to form the baby's initials. The middle name is a secret, so I left that blank until after he is born. The arrows are from Hobby Lobby, I propped them up in a vase with rocks, the canvas from TJ Maxx. One of my sweet cousins made the origami forest and foxes (so cute!) and the lantern is an old VBS prop. The little trees I borrowed from my church. For a small church, we have a great selection of decor pieces.
    The really cool NP canvas is actually my Dad's. It has a space for each park and he has stickers on all the ones he has visited. Fun! My expecting sister wanted to make the mountain garland, so as weird as it is for the guest of honor to make decorations, I couldn't turn her down. The moose head is a stuffed animal, the garland of mounted heads are clearance Target ornaments.
   The tent is hilarious. I really wanted one, but couldn't find exactly what I was looking for. This is actually PVC pipes I found at the church rigged together and covered with orange plastic tablecloths. It is held together by hopes and prayers! Ha! It was a perfect place to put the gifts. The cool mountain backdrop was painted by another talented cousin. I have zero actual art ability. The trees were loaned from my aunt, and the bears are a fun story. My sister got one as child (maybe 3 years old?) and when she found out she was having a boy she found one on eBay and bought it so the baby would have a matching one. So sweet!
My mom handled all the food. (I cannot do both, no matter how hard I try.) and did a great job. She recreated these cute campfire cupcakes from Pinterest. My aunt made the cool food labels.
   I looooved how this turned out. It is well over one hundred triangle punches I hot-glued to ribbon and hung in an ombre pattern on a branch from my aunt's yard. It served as the backdrop to the food table.
My mom provided the cute metal crate, the stuffed animals and the "Adventure" sign. They are all from Hobby Lobby. 

   I hand-sewed the teepee pillow, and created the printable in PicMonkey, again based on a Pinterest image (although that one did not have Scripture). The metal bin is from Hobby Lobby. The National Parks lantern is my brother's.
   One of my sisters made the hedgehog cheese ball. So cute! The really fun part is that the baby's nickname is "Hedgehog" or "Hedgie" for short. So perfect, too.

 This is one thing that I wished had photographed better. I used twine and tiny clothespins (from the Dollar Tree) to hang my sister's collection of WPA National Parks postcards. It was fun to see the one that I had sent her years ago! I was honored that she kept it.
My youngest sister came up with this adorable game based on one we played online. We set up a table covered with more wrapping paper and simply printed the instruction on it with Sharpie. We made a numbered list and encouraged people to add a children's song, book or movie title to it, but to substitute at least one of the words in the title with "Hedgehog" or "Hedgie". You could do this with any baby nickname, or any shower associated word. We told the guests to continue to add their entries during the party, and to initial them. We also said we would end the game at a undisclosed time. We had over 60 entries by the time we ended, and gave prizes to the last two on the list. It was a great way to keep people talking!

   It was a really fun shower. We are just getting started in the "sister shower" department, though. Another wedding later this year, and I am guessing this is only the beginning of the babies...Not sad about that, for sure!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Holding Out Hope

 
    I don't hate winter. I am actually a "four seasons" kind of girl. I like the changes each season brings. I love lots of things about winter: wearing sweaters (I own 33 cardigans for a reason! #notaminimalist) soups and stews, Christmas, hot coffee, snuggly blankets, and marveling over each unique snowflake. There are things I don't love, of course, like constantly clearing snow off my car, slipping on the ice, cold feet, and driving in bad weather.

   And every year, around this time, I get a little bit "done" with winter. It has been particularly bad this year, because since Joel has been out of commission (He had ACL and meniscus surgery and cannot even put his foot down for six weeks!) I've been doing double the amount of work I usually do. As I left this morning to take him to physical therapy, I slipped on the ice. I didn't go all the way down, but I have landed on my behind three times already this winter. Poor Joel had to navigate all that on crutches, which is why he has only left the house twice in the last two weeks. I am tired of doing all the driving, all the car scraping, all the grocery shopping, all the cooking, cleaning, and general household-running that he is usually so good to help with. I know I sound whiny, and that so many have it much worse, but as the kids said when they were little while waving their hands frantically, "all duh!".

   And after steering my car through a slide on the icy road all I could think is, "I wish it were summer. And the roads were dry and the weather was warm. And Joel was better."

    The fact of the matter is, I *know* summer will come. (Yes, I know spring is first!) Way back in the beginning the Lord promised us:

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”
Genesis 8:22

  And I know that is true because I have seen it in my own life. Further back than I can remember the cycle of the seasons has been unbroken. And I realized, that is what hope really is. I don't know what exact day summer will come. Yes, it is marked on the calendar but we all know how *that* really goes. It is hard to think about summer right now with two feet of snow on the ground. We have had more snow this year than in many years. We had weeks of temperatures below twenty degrees. I haven't seen grass since November. I am thrilled that the sun has finally started setting after 4 pm (on the three days out of seven that I can even see it), however it is still.so.hard.  But I would bet my life on the fact that there will be summer in the year 2017. (Unless Jesus comes back, and I will take that any day!)

    And I just can't think of a better definition of hope. For a believer "hope" isn't wishing, like the rest of the world thinks it is.

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1
Confidence. Assurance. Not guessing, or wishing, or speculating, or gambling. It's a guarantee. And that is the hope we have in Christ.

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." Romans 5:1-5 

   I don't have to worry, because I have a guarantee. This frustrating, seemingly endless, plodding, not-so-great part will end, and it will result in God being glorified. Winter WILL lead to summer and my suffering will produce perseverance if I don't give up and lose heart. I have hope. Such great, marvelous, life-changing hope. And it is 100 % guaranteed, more certain even than the changing of the seasons. True hope isn't fragile, or perishable, or in need of coddling. True hope knows what the future holds, even if I don't have a date for my calendar. True hope will see me through.

   These seasons, both the physical and the figurative, aren't going to last forever. I know, because I have hope.

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