Monday, April 29, 2013

The Tooth Fairy Strikes Again

So, basically it has just been a tooth-losing festival around here. Josie lost two teeth last year, and then she told us that she had a loose one back in February. Well, let me tell you, those suckers seem to like to hold on, because she will have a loose tooth for months, and then it will finally come out! The nice part is that her new teeth seem to come in very quickly, though. 
Anyway, Saturday before last, she had her dad pull out one that was hanging by a thread. The "tooth fairy" (see my previous post for why we do the tooth fairy, but no other make-believe creatures!) was negligent and she received no recognition for that one. 
Then, last Saturday, she had another one that was very wiggly. She has really gotten to where she likes her dad to pull them out-she even told us she likes having no teeth! He quickly removed it (I don't do tooth wiggling or pulling! For some reason that makes me exceptionally squeamish-I think it has to do with my irrational fear of losing my own teeth) and she was determined that the tooth fairy owed her something for this one.

So she wrote this note (please excuse the horrible spelling-she is learning, but stubborn thing refuses to do it right except during school):
 Just in case you don't read "Josie" fluently, it reads: Please tooth fairy, take this tooth and I like it if you would give me dimes and nickels. Please! (By the way, "Q" stands for quarters, she said, I guess she must have an agreement with the 'Fairy to read her shorthand. Also, the tissue wad is a "pillow" for her tooth-so it wouldn't get lost. If you like to be grossed out, you can enlarge the photo and you can actually see her tooth on there.)

So, what's a mom, ahem, Tooth Fairy to do? After such a pleading note, and also the horror of the previous forgotten tooth, I knew I better make up for it post haste.

 Ta-da! I shamelessly stole this adorable idea. I folded a dollar bill into a "basket" and then using size 6 font, typed up the tiniest note ever. If you wonder why my basket is not as neat as her's there are two reasons: 1. I did not have any crisp dollar bills. I was ill-prepared for this tooth fairy business! 2. It was 10:30pm, and I was watching the YouTube video on how to fold it on my phone-by the way, YouTube does not orient horizontally if you access if from Pinterest- making the whole venture that much more difficult!
 I also included my own little note. I have seen a number of tooth fairy notes that include admonitions to brush, floss, etc. and I decided that was not a bad idea. I liberally sprayed both the note and basket with the glitter hairspray I used the first time, and the generous sprinkling of "fairy dust" was well-received! I filled up the basket with a dollar's worth of quarters, dimes and nickels (She is filling an old Crown Financial savings book my mom gave her, and it has slots for all the change, hence the request for coins.) Overall it was a huge success. I am not sure how I will top this one, as she has many more teeth to lose and I am out of Pinterest inspiration!;)

 Here is a better "after" shot. She is such a cutie- which isn't something that most people with two missing teeth can claim! I hope those new ones hurry in, because she is already telling me that there are more loose ones. I am thinking I better brush up my origami skills a little more!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lists and Lamentations

Today I'm having "one of those days". It isn't that so much has gone wrong-really nothing has. I even have a pretty admirable list of accomplishments. Today I:

-schooled my second grader
-did two loads of laundry
-washed dishes
-put together a wreath for a baby shower
-worked on a (rather complicated) mobile for the same shower
-clipped coupons
-made dinner
-washed dishes
-baked a cake
-picked up
-showered (a pretty big accomplishment, according to some of the bloggers I follow)
-answered several different questions about VBS (I'm one of the co-directors)
-read to my five year-old
-stored winter clothes
-extensively cleaned my dishwasher door

and a million other little things, that individually seem like nothing, but as a whole consume the majority of my waking hours.

 But you see, here's the problem; when I look at that list, it reads more like this:
 -spent AN HOUR teaching my 7 year-old math, resulting in frustration for both of us.
-washed laundry, but didn't put it away, and no worries, there are still two dirty loads.
-washed dishes, and washed dishes, (that's why it made the list twice) and there are still dirty items in my sink that need to be hand washed and I am flat-out refusing.
-the wreath was a success, but I followed it up by writing a to-do list for the shower, and I still have a *ton* left to do.
-I clipped the coupons, but I didn't file them.
-I made dinner, which was good, but only because I felt so guilty for eating out the last two nights.
-baked a cake but only because I had bananas rotting on my counter.
-picked up because I never imagined that my death would be a result of tripping over things in my own living room.
-showered, but I didn't wash my hair.
-answered those VBS questions, but needed to accomplish about 12 other things in my VBS notebook that went undone.
-I read to my son, but he did not get schooled today. He is only in preschool, but he is doing really well reading, and I was frustrated that I didn't fit it in.
- I finally stored those winter clothes that had been in my hallway since Saturday. But don't worry-it's supposed to snow tomorrow!
-I only cleaned the dishwasher because I was horrified at the filth that had previously escaped my notice.

And then there are the things I didn't do. I didn't:
-work out
-send a thank-you note for one of Carson's birthday gifts
-make adorable Earth Day themed muffin tins.
-have enough paper to finish my mobile, which now has to be squeezed into another day.
-clean my basement, which is a mobility hazard.
-accomplish anything on my regular weekly chore list.
-eat breakfast
-file the basket of miscellaneous paperwork that has been screaming at me for days.
-I didn't get rid of any of the clutter that is driving me insane. Instead I pile it in the basement.
-I didn't write the cute blog I wanted to write about Earth Day. And now its almost over. And I am writing this grumpy post instead. And I certainly didn't do the other million things that every "good" mom is supposed to do.

Instead it felt like a day of surviving. Trying all day to put out fires, instead of planting gardens. And I hate those kind of days. But they seem to be so frequent now that I am almost resigned to them as "normal". And now, the day is done. And my to-do list isn't. And so, as I think about readying myself for bed, the tasks, both visible and mental, that remain unfinished are loudly screaming, "FAILURE!".

"Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for Him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him,
    to the one who seeks Him;
it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord."
Lamentations 3:21-26

Lamentations. What an excellent book for mothers. I lament all my shortcomings and lack. I lament my inability to measure up to Pinterest Perfection. I lament my limitations of time, money, patience and the need for sleep. I feel like I am being eaten up by the relentless demands of my calling and my own twisted desires for the unattainable Supermom status.

But, when I stop to focus on the One who gives this seemingly meaningless life a true calling, I see that I am not consumed. I may feel threadbare, stretched beyond my oh-so-short limits, but He isn't. And days like today aren't here to make me feel hopeless, they are to remind me of my true Hope. I have more than enough, I have the Perfect Portion. When I feel like screaming for it all to stop, He reminds that I only need to wait quietly. 

So it isn't really about what is done, or not.  It isn't about how many baskets of laundry got folded and put away, or how many dishes I washed, or how long it took to do a single page of math. It is about whether or not I looked to Him to provide and enable, it every task, big or small. Today, not so much. But He promises me that tomorrow, through Him, I can *be* (NOT do) so much better.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Teacher Thank-You: Handsoap Set

Is it ever wrong to say, "Thank you"? I tell my kids, "better to just tell people "thanks!" for everything! I just think there isn't enough gratitude in the world. However, gratitude does *not* need to be expensive! 

I like to come up with unique things, and I had seen several Valentines floating around Pinterest that said "I was "soapin'" you'd be my Valentine". Well, I didn't think my kids' friends would appreciate hand soap, and I made all my friends homemade hand scrub, so I shelved the idea. 

But now the school year is ending, and even though we homeschool, there are plenty of people to thank! Starting with my kids' Awana leaders. I treasure those people. They not only impart God's Word to my little guys each week, they allow Joel and me a much needed (and otherwise unaffordable) "date night" each Wednesday! I definitely think that deserves a little more than a round of applause!

So I put together these little "Soapin' you have a great summer" gifts! Here's what you need:

-bottle of hand soap (I went with Bath and Body because I think it is a little more luxurious, but you could certainly use a different, less expensive brand. I had a great coupon to combine with a sale, so they ended up being about $2.50 a bottle-half price!)
-hand towels (I found mine at Walmart, 3 for $3)
-coordinating ribbon
-scrapbook paper
-Avery Round 2" Labels, 22817 (These were pricey, around $1.50 a sheet, so you could definitely skip this part to save money and simply print straight to scrapbook paper or cardstock using the Avery template)
-coordinating scrapbook paper (recognize my leftover paper from these water bottles?)
- 2" circle scrapbook punch (not shown)

First, I made the labels. I used the Avery blank text template that you can find on their website (, if you aren't using the labels, type in "22817" to find the style I used. Then I typed in my little saying, which was my favorite part! It says:

"Your "bubbly" enthusiasm made learning fun. "Soapin" you have a great summer!"

I printed it out onto the labels, and then, using a new version of the same template, I typed "Thank You!" and printed it onto the scrapbook paper. I used my paper punch to cut out the circles of scrapbook paper, and then attached the labels to the back. Easy peasy! 

I folded the hand towels in thirds, and secured them with a rubber band. I then stood them up behind the soap bottles and tied them with coordinating ribbon. I affixed the gift tags with a little clear tape to the top of the pumps. I didn't have enough room to tie them on with a ribbon, but I thought they looked pretty cute just hanging and the tape doesn't show at all.

I thought they turned out pretty cute! If you figure that I only paid for the labels I used then the cost per gift comes in at a little under $4.50 each. I thought that was pretty thrifty. I really hope all the teachers appreciate them, but it will in no way compare to how much I appreciated all their hard work!

P.S.- If you wanted to make this a really cheap, easy gift, skip the hand towel, and simply print to cardstock, without using the labels. It would really only cost you about $2.50 a gift, that way-and even less if you wanted to use something like Softsoap, for about $1 a bottle. :)

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

To Carson, On His 5th Birthday

 Dear Carson, 
               FIVE! I'm so entertained to think of what the next year will bring. Four was a lot of fun, and I'm just not certain it can be topped. I picked the photo above because it is so representative of your crazy little personality. You certainly are full to the brim with it! 

You are a little ham, I think in part because you so admire your Dad, and you know he is funny. You still absolutely love to be like him. If he likes it, you like it. He eats Tabasco, you eat Tabasco. (The green kind is your favorite.) He likes football, you like football. You love to "rough house" with him, and this year he finally gave you a special phrase to say when you are crying uncle- "molon labe"-its Latin and it means "come and take" (it's a gun rights thing) but it is hilarious to hear you say it. One of your favorite things is to climb up on our bed and jump around with your fists up! You are always ready to play.

You love your toys, too. This year "super heroes" are your favorite, and you know the names of all of the Avengers, as well as the theme song to the cartoon. You play for hours with your Imaginext toys- all the super heroes and Star Wars, too. You still love to sword fight, but now you have added Thor's hammer and Nerf guns to your arsenal. You love sports, too. You are always begging your Dad to play baseball or basketball. You spend hours running around outside, or riding your bike or scooter. You love pretty much anything that is typically "boy"!

But you have a really tender heart, too. You are always worried about other people- and so ready to share. You always offer me and your Dad a bite of anything you are eating. You like for things to be fair, but it goes both ways-it isn't always just about you. You love babies and littler kids, and are always willing to hold a baby, especially your cousin Gwendalyn! You love to call people nicknames (which sometimes aggravates your friends!) because you want them to know how much you like them.

You have your own opinions about a lot of things, especially your clothes. You have a pair of black, velcro Converse that you have practically worn to pieces. You truly wear them every day, even though you have a dozen other pairs of shoes in your closet! You love to wear a zip-up hooded jacket all the time, even to bed. And don't even get me started on your skinny jeans! Your Dad really doesn't like them, but your "tight pants" are your favorites! You wore huge holes in your two most loved pairs, so I had to get you some more. You love fun socks, too, and don't care if you wear your Christmas ones in March. You have Star Wars, and Cars, and Ninja Turtles, and tons of pirate ones!

You are learning so much. You have learned how to draw people, and write your name, and you are starting to read. You are doing really well, and are so particular with your letters, practicing them over and over on the white board. When you are really proud, you save it so your Dad can see it when he comes home for lunch. You are doing so good counting and adding. You often listen to Josie's history and science lessons-and then answer the questions for her! 

You are doing so well in Awana, too. You are all finished with your Cubbies books- and your vest is full! You love to listen to the Bible at night, and your favorite story is "Deborah and Barak"-you can practically recite the version in your storybook Bible. You listen well in Sunday School, you can almost always tell me what your lesson is about. The stories about soldiers and fighting are your favorites!

You took ice skating lessons for the first time this year. You loved it! You were your teachers' favorite because you are such a quick learner. Your goal is to play hockey, but I will be honest, that makes me a little nervous! I think maybe tee ball- something where you are a little less likely to lose teeth.:)

You are my cuddle bug and I hope that doesn't change. I love how you snuggle up next to me when I am in bed in the mornings, or sitting on the sofa. We went to the movies today, and you sat in my lap. I won't lie-that makes me happy. You will soon be too tall, so I am treasuring these last few months of that! You are always kissing me!

 I am also happy that you still take naps.I know that won't last forever, but for right now, I think you just use too much energy! You will literally run circles in the living room for 10 solid minutes until I make you stop because *I'm* dizzy! Everything you do, you do it full force. You don't hold back, and I love that.

I'm looking forward to teaching you more about Jesus. You are asking more questions about having Him in your heart, and that just breaks me. You are such a treasure to our family, and I can't wait to see you on fire for the Lord. I pray for you all the time-I know your sensitive little heart will know when the time is right. I plead with the Lord constantly to keep me aware of what you need to hear about Him. 

Your Dad is so good at knowing what you need, too. He really loves you, little guy! He makes sure you know all the "guy"stuff. You both love his Camaro, the "Z" as you call it. You just want to be with him, and you have spent many happy hours watching cartoons together. I think every dad needs a "mini me"-and you certainly are your Dad's!

I just love you so much. I am thankful every day that the Lord knew that we needed you, even when we didn't know it. You are a huge blessing to our family, and I can't imagine it without you. I love you.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Why I Don't Raise My Hands

I'm Southern Baptist. Born and bred, and right proud of it. Baptists, as a general rule, aren't physically expressive people. You want a committee, we're there. A potluck, we're on it. We will take votes and have discussions until the end of days. Most of us can talk the hind leg off a donkey. But we aren't usually criers, and we aren't dancers, and we don't jump up and down. Hand raising ( and I'm talking worship here) has only just started to creep in- usually from the "new recruits", those reared in different denominations.

And I want to clearly state: I DO NOT have a problem with that! We serve an enormous God, and I believe worship comes in many forms. But let's get this straight: true worship comes from the heart, it's not for show, and it shouldn't be about anyone but your heart and the heart of God. If what I am doing is distracting or for display, then I have missed the point entirely. Raising your hands should only happen because you can't *not* raise your hands- if you didn't you would be so focused on it that you would cease to focus on God. And I truly believe that is the case for many of my fellow worshipers-they must lift their hands, it is an act of true worship.

But the thought of that for myself makes me uncomfortable. For me, raising my hands doesn't promote worship, it inhibits it. I feel as if people are looking at me, and I can't stand that. Worship does not make me feel like raising my hands.

And I realized today why. When I am truly worshiping -in a state where the only beings are me and my Lord, I am humbled, truly in the presence of the King. And that makes me want to fall on my face. I don't want to do anything but bow so deeply that the lowliness of my spirit is completely evidenced by my posture.

And let me tell you: that is a decidedly un-Baptist thing to do. I can't imagine the uproar that would ensue if I laid down on the floor of the sanctuary during Sunday morning service. And that would directly contradict the purpose, because causing a distraction to others would not benefit the heart of worship.

And I'm okay with that. Because I believe in a God who sees and knows our hearts. And He sees my heart, that spiritually I'm down on my face before Him. And so instead, I close my eyes and bow my head. Often tears stream down my face. And I worship: just me and my Lord.

But you better believe- when it really is just me, in the quiet of my own home, I do fall down. I can't not give in to the overwhelming gratitude and humbleness of spirit that overtakes me when I think of the amazing, awesome, completely perfect God that I served. So if you ever see me at church, I might not have "my hands held high", but that is only because I'm too busy on my knees. And I'm pretty sure, that hands raised or hearts kneeling, He finds it all very pleasing.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Easter 2013

We just returned from a week long vacation ("Vacation", I have discovered is usually more draining than restful!) so Easter this year was really low-key. I like that, sometimes, and since occasionally I go overboard on smaller holidays (Valentine's Day, this year, for instance) I don't feel bad about reining it in on other days. Besides, Easter is really all about Jesus, and I don't think He wants me to be a Martha on what should definitely be a Mary day!

The egg garland for the photos was a last minute idea-I insist on taking photos before church on Easter Sunday, because who really knows what will happen in Sunday School! I bought this little garland for 70% off last year, and grabbed it down. I think I will have to try things like that more often, it really gave the kids something to do other than just say "cheese"!
Our best attempt at a family photo. I didn't have time to mess with the self-timer, and since we were outside, I would have also had to find something to prop the camera on. Thank goodness Joel has long arms! (Although, it is still a little bit of an art-we totally cut Josie out of the first shot!)
Joel's opinion of my garland. He is always the comic relief-so great in dealing with my idiosyncrasies, like having to use props for photos when we need to leave for church in five minutes.:)

Church was wonderful, I didn't take photos, but it is just always good to be in the house of the Lord. We had eight baptisms during our service, which is such a poignant reminder of what Easter is *really* about! A dad and his two little girls were all baptized together and it brought tears to my eyes. What a terrific example!
I decided on a theme for the baskets this year. Themes for gifts like this have pros and cons. The biggest con is that you go all over creation looking for matching items (We bought stuff from the commissary, the party store, the Dollar Store, Walmart and Target!) but the pro is that it helps me reign in my impulses to buy EVERYTHING!

They each got: a coloring book, tic-tacs, jelly beans, a coconut "nest" (thought that was a clever way to tie in to the "Birds"), Angry Bird graham cookies, Angry Bird fruit snacks, stickers and chopsticks (the only thing that didn't really match). Their big gifts were the kites, which were a hit. I also filled their eggs with Angry bird erasers, "Mashables"-gooey balls of Angry bird characters, and Angry Bird Cheese Nips. I even found "golden eggs" to fill, as well as putting candy Russell Stover eggs in. It was quite a successful theme, thanks in part to my sister, who bought several things and revealed the Dollar Store treasures!
They were pretty pleased with their hauls. They really are gracious little people, and it humbles me that they are so thankful for such small things!
Josie is always ecstatic over "stuff" of any kind, so Easter is right up her alley. A big basket full of miscellaneous junk? Yes, please!
The kites were a huge success. We had a blast with our cheapy plastic dollar kites last year, so we splurged and got the nicer $6 ones. It was definitely worth it. The kids could launch these on their own, but I still joked with Joel that you need two people for every kite!
This is my kite! It was my Mother's Day gift last year, and I wasn't able to fly it until now. I am determined to get my money's worth this year (it was about $20). I launched it several times, but since I was flying it, I couldn't get a photo at the same time. By the time I asked Joel to do it, the wind had died down and I couldn't get one. He "faked" a shot for me!
See how well the kids' flew? The little park we fly them in isn't ideal, because kites in the air take up a lot more room than you might think, and crossed, tangled strings are a nightmare, but we make it work. I love, love, love kite flying!
All the running around helped tire the kids out, too. Josie was reading the coloring book to Carson. They were fascinated to find out that all the Angry Birds have names!
Finally we hunted for Easter eggs. We decided this year to let them hide each others eggs. That was a stroke of genius! Carson was waiting patiently for Josie to finish.
Josie took her job very seriously. They were so cute, looking for the best places. Then they gave each other hints. It really was a good way to get them involved in helping each other, rather than just begging to know it is was "my turn" yet.
Carson had a little help from Daddy. And I didn't get any photos, but the kids organized an impromptu egg hunt for the neighbor kids. They hid 40 eggs that they filled with their candy they had gotten at a hunt in St. Louis. One of the little neighbor kids didn't even know it was Easter, which made me very sad! I thought that was such a sweet, generous thing for the kids to do.

We finished the day with Panda Express so the kids could use their new chopsticks. I guess if other people can eat Chinese on Christmas we can have it on Easter, right?:)


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