Friday, September 30, 2011

31 Days of Savoring: Fall To-Do List

As the seasons come and go, it's been fun to sit down and list our to-do's for the coming months.  There's always birthdays and holidays to look forward to, but it's the little things as well.  The small moments that make family traditions.  And sometimes the moments that lead to unexpected family connections.

So while the weather isn't cooperating (we're still in the 90's), we're turning the page toward fall.  My kids are already counting the days to the pumpkin patch and I'm counting the days to the pumpkin seeds.  But in my new found determination to say Yes, I'm excited for what this new season holds.

1. Make Leaf Art
2. Have a Photo shoot in the leaves
3. Have lots of bonfires
4. Go to a pumpkin patch
5. Carve pumpkins
6. Toast pumpkin seeds
7.Go to a Harvest Festival
8.Can and freeze apples
9. Make a fall dessert once a week
10. Break out the hot cocoa and apple cider
11. Volunteer at Turtle Bay's WALK THIS WAY
12. Throw Noah's 6th birthday party
13. Start Christmas shopping
14. Host an open house
15. Go to the Christmas parade
16. Make Apple Cider Floats
17. Take walks in the dark with flashlights
18. Read Moby Dick, Pollyanna, and Heidi with the munchkins
19. Take more pictures of the kids
20. Make Christmas cookie dough ahead and freeze.
21. Visit the farmer's market.
22. Spend Thanksgiving with the family.
23. Go Christmas tree hunting.
24. Start Christmas presents.
25. Fill our house with pumpkin candles.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Godly friends for Godly kids

Friendships are such a huge part of our lives.  Living in community molds us and shapes us in ways that can't be duplicated.  For better or for worse.

The same stands true for our children.  We can cook the right foods.  We can homeschool with the right curriculum.  We can choose the right movies.  But our children will seek our friends.  And if we're not parenting with our eyes wide open, those friendships can take our kids down a road we'd never wish for them.

We were made for community and the same holds true for our kids.  Whether we're ready or not, they will begin to seek out relationships outside of our family unit.  That's why it's so important that we take an active role in discussing friendships before hand.  How important are friendships for our kids?  Priceless!

At a very young age, we start talking with our kids about their friends.  What does it mean to be a friend?  How can you be a friend to someone else?  What do you do when a friend asks you to disobey your parents?  We start brainstorming the possible scenarios that could arise.  And we keep asking questions.

We've also found it very helpful to encourage the godly friends that come.  It's easier to make an effort for those relationships we want to foster.  Playdates and sleepovers come with a select few friends.  Friendships we're anxious to encourage.

So how can you know if this is a friendship you want to encourage?

*Do they get into trouble together?--Curiousity and age play a factor here, but you'll know when it's just youth and when it's harmful.

*Does the friend have a good relationship with their parents?

*Does he/she have a good relationship with other authority figures?

*Can he/she be encouraged toward being a servant?

*Does he/she have a concept of Christ as Savior and discipling in that path?

*Is he/she quick to repent?

And what if a friend doesn't quite reach this standard?  Those are the friendships I watch even closer.  Those friendship times are more closely supervised and prayed over.  Just this week, we invited a friend to come over.  While this little boy's family is not following the Lord, this is a friendship that I'm hanging on to.  He's one of my son's dearest friends and I can see already that he's not going anywhere soon.  So I'd rather be a strong influence in his life before he becomes an even stronger influence in Noah's.

And of course, this all comes down to the Lord's leading.  My goal is to always shepherd my children in those moments that they're not ready for on their own.  Still for me, I find myself leaning on the Lord's wisdom in all those situations.  Ultimately we are preparing our children for life outside our homes.  So this is training ground for all of us.

What do you think?  Have you given much thought to your children's friendships?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Who I Am: In Flowers

What would our lives be like without flowers?

There's a certain joy to life that springs forth when we behold something beautiful.
And to a gardener's soul there's an irresistible beauty to flowers.

Rich in color and meaning,
flowers convey a mood to even the most casual observer.

If you were a flower, which one would best show your personality?

Casablanca Lilies

These are my favorite flowers.  Without a doubt.  They're just pop!  Casablanca Lilies mean Celebration!  While I'm not there yet, I love the reminder to Celebrate each day.


Sweetpeas mean Shyness.  I'm pretty quiet.  A little too quiet most of the time.


Wisteria means faithfulness.  I'm a very faithful friend.  Loyalty holds a high value in my life and I don't often turn away from friendships.

Orchids mean delicate beauty.  It's my desire to teach my daughter that beauty is more than skin deep.  True beauty comes from a following Christ.

For more information about flowers and their meanings,
check out these links:

*Linked to these Parties and Writer's Workshop

Monday, September 26, 2011

Birthday Balloon Wreath

What a fun festive addition to any birthday!
After all, what says Birthday more than Balloons?

A Birthday Balloon Wreath!

A few months ago, I saw this one and knew I had to make one.
But could I make it more frugal?

Here's what you'll need:

72 count bag of balloons (maybe more to fill in the sides)
Wreath from (from Dollar Tree no less)
Birthday Ribbon (another Dollar Tree find)
Glue gun

Fold the balloon in half top to bottom.
Then quarter the balloon to a point.

Hot glue the tip and layer balloons around the wreath.
Layer about 3 across,
tucking and gluing as you go.

Tie a bow from your ribbon.

Wrap the ribbon loosely around the wreath
and attach the bow!

I love how colorful it is.
And what a great way to celebrate the birthday person!
Just a little something extra to make the day special!

How do you make birthdays fun?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Monday Muddle

Hey Everyone,
Welcome to Monday!  Another week and we hit the ground running.

Seems like we had a full weekend and it went way too fast.  Friday afternoon we welcomed a friend's kids over to spend the evening.  Perfect timing for Family Movie Night.  A huge bowl of popcorn and an old Disney movie later, and our evening was a colossal success.

The weekend was fun: a birthday party, church, a going away party.  It was a weekend full of community and laughter.  We all had a good time.

I think the best laugh I had this week though was the picture of Lydia above.  She got into her dress up stuff and told me we had to go kill the witch.  We had to kill the witch and save the prince.  What a liberated woman!  :-)  Afterwards, she was fiddling with her purse and I asked what she was doing. "Putting my sword in my purse," she answered.  Liberated, but still a lady.

Our Menu this week:

Apple Oatmeal
Yogurt and fruit
Zucchini Chocolate chip muffins
Gingerbread Waffles

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Lentil Nachos
Fruits and Veggies
Green Salads

All served with green salad and veggies

Monday: Taco Soup
Tuesday: Parmesean Encrusted Tilapia
Thursday: Stuffed Bell Peppers
Friday: Homemade Vegetarian Pizza
Saturday: Taco Salad

Homemade hummus and crackers
Pumpkin bread
Fruits and dip

Projects I'm working on this week:
Homemade pinata
Scrapbook April and May
Brainstorming organization ideas
Finish two books

Posts coming up this week:
Balloon wreath
Godly friends/Godly kids
Writer's Workshop
and more

Lee's To Do List

Saturday, September 24, 2011

ABC's of Homemaking

The ABC's of Homemaking

Aprons–y/n If y, what does your fave look like?
Sometimes.  I love the look of being a mom in an apron, but in my need to get things done, I don't always remember to put one on.
Baking–Favorite thing to bake?
I've been thinking of getting some holiday baking going here soon.  That's my favorite.  All the cookies and treats that taste like family history.  And I love making cinnamon rolls too.
Clothes line?
Yes. I love looking out the kitchen window and seeing our clothes on the line.

Donuts–Have you ever made them?
Yes. Nothing like a homemade donut.  It's been awhile though.

Everyday–One homemaking thing you do every day?
Pick up, pick up, pick up.  With two little ones, it's a never ending battle.
Freezer–Do you have a separate deep freeze?
Yes.  And I LOVE it!  It gives us the freedom to stock up on the little extras that others pass our way.

Garbage Disposer?
Yes. Love that too.

Handbook–What is your favorite homemaking resource?
The whole internet!

Ironing–Love it or Hate it? Or hate it but love the results?
I hate it.  We hardly ever iron.  Just shake it out, hang it up, and cross our fingers that it looks good by Sunday.

Junk Drawer–y/n? Where is it?
Yes, under the microwave.  It's a scary place.

Kitchen–color and decorating scheme.
Not really a decorating scheme.  Just a mix of what's been passed down and well loved.

Love–what is your favorite part of homemaking?
Love creating a home where you family feels loved and accepted.
I do it if I need to, not my favorite chore at all!!

Nylons, machine or hand wash?
Machine wash.  I have a mesh bag to put them in.

Oven–do you use the window or open the oven to check?
I have a window, but always open the door.

Pizza–What do you put on yours?
I like everything.  We tend to do a lot of tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, and zucchini.

Quiet–What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?
Read or nap.  Or blog!

Recipe Card Box–y/n? What does it look like?
I have a recipe book.  Test out all my recipes and when they pass, they go in the book.

Style of house–What style is your house?
Normal.  :-)  I don't know.

Tablecloths or Placemats?
Neither.  Just the plates

Under the kitchen sink–organized or toxic wasteland?
It just to be organized, but I have an obsession with cleaning supplies so it's getting a little crazy under there.

Vacuum–How many times per week?
Just once.  I'm lazy with that.

Wash–How many loads of laundry do you do per week?
About 4 loads in a week.  We try to keep it to a minimum and I only run full loads.

X’s–Do you keep a daily list of things to do that you cross off?
I loving having a list to cross off.  Keeps me motivated.

Yard–y/n? Who does what?
We love our backyard.  I do most of the yard work 'cause I love being back there.  There are rose bushes to prune, and a lemon tree to fertilize.  The lawn to mow and leaves to rake.
ZZZ’s–what is your last homemaking task for the day before going to bed?
I like to have my sink empty in the mornings.  So I make sure all the dishes are loaded in the dishwasher.

What about you?  What are your ABC's of Homemaking?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Being a Yes Mom

No, you can't play video games before dinner.

No, you can't stay up late.

No, we can't stop by the library today.

No, no more water before bed.


Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

Please tell me I'm not the only one with this script.

With two little ones in two who have boundless energy, I find myself saying "No" a lot.  Sometimes it's warranted as in "No, you WILL NOT speak to me that way."  Other times, "No" pops out of my mouth when I'm thinking in my head, "That's just not part of the plan."  Really, it's my selfishness talking.

I don't wanna read another story.

I don't wanna make the extra stop.

I don't wanna go through the inconvenience.

The Lord's really been working on me in my selfishness lately.  Mostly through my children.  They come up with the wackiest ideas at the craziest times and I'm convince that at least a few of those ideas come from the Lord reminding me not to be so selfish.  What's wrong with an extra round of Yahtzee?  Well, really 'cause I just don't wanna.

So I'm going on a journey of being a Yes Mom!  I'm gonna start saying "Yes" more than I say "No."  Yes to a late evening in the sprinklers, Yes to smoothie night, Yes to a few more whispers at bedtime.  Are you with me?

I'm not sure what the journey will look like or how long this experiment will go.  But to the best of my ability, I'm going to keep you clued in to how it's going.  Little updates here and there to let you know what we're saying "Yes" to.  Sound good?

How are you choosing to say "Yes?"

*Linked to Weekend Bloggy Reading

Winner, Winner!

Hey Guys,
  Sorry it took me an extra day to get this to you, but we have a winner for the Custom Party Items Giveaway!

And our lucky number is...

#2-- Michelle from Blessed Quiver!

Thank you to all who participated.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Girls are like Apples

Mothers, teach your daughters to be high apples.  Teach them to expect the best.  Encourage them to wait for the brave men to come along and not fall for an imitation.  They are fearfully and wonderfully made and God has big things in store for their lives.  Teach them to be captured by God before they fall off the tree.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hermie: A Common Caterpillar {Review}

Written by well-known author Max Lucado, Hermie has been a beloved kid's character for quite some time.  However, this was our first exposure to the series.  And we were absolutely delighted with this book. 

Right away I was amazed to see the story tell how Hermie talks to God and God speaks back to him.  This is the exact concept we've been sharing with our 6 and 4 year old.  How God to speak to our hearts.  Friends Hermie and Wormie go through the book together, noticing how so many other creatures have been make beautiful, but they're "just common."  Throughout their story, God speaks to them about how he loves them nonetheless and still isn't finished with them yet.  I bet you can guess where this one is going.  :-)

Hermie: A Common Caterpillar is written in a Level Two format, perfect for those beginning readers in your home.  The words are accessible and the story repeats for continued reinforcement.  The illustrations are bright and colorful, and the story is very age appropriate.  We were very delighted with this selection.

*Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review.  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Preschooler Room Time

The day my son stopped taking naps was a sad, sad time in our house.  He went from taking a solid two hour nap in the afternoons to absolutely Nothing!  Those first couple of days of adjustment saw a lot of tears shed, both his and mine.  I just wasn't ready to give it up.  He might have been, but Mama was holding strong.

So one day we struck a compromise.  He didn't have to sleep, but he did have to spend some time playing quietly in his room.  Luckily, he went for it.  Since then afternoon quiet time has been a part of our daily routine.  Depending on the age and need of the child, it's adjusted from time to time, but faithfully every afternoon, we have room time for the sanity of the entire family.  Why is room time important?

*Room time provides a break in stimulation-- Room time gives everyone a break.  Mommy gets a chance to catch up on housework, work out, think her own thoughts, while everyone else gets a break to be creative, read a book, give their brains a rest, catch a nap.

*Room time gives space to be creative--When everyone is in their own space (whether their room or a quiet corner of the house), they have a chance to play quietly.  Noah especially loves this break when he can play with legos without little hands interrupting or crayons and markers without a someone scribbling on his drawing.

*Room time resets everyone for the evening-- Room time resets all our relationships before the harried time of dinner.  It gives us a chance to play, or be, indepently before we all come back together.  I've found my kids get a long better when they have a chance to reset in the afternoon.  Then they're more refreshed for coming back and playing well together.

But how do I make Room Time work?

*Provide a physical barrier-- When I was first training my son in Room Time, I put up a baby gate as a physical reminder that he was to stay in his room until Mommy came and got him.

*Start the time slowly-- At first he was resistant to the time and wanted to immediately come out.  So we built up our time slowly.  For 3-4 days, it was a chunk of 15 minutes.  Another 3-4 days increased to 25 minutes.  For the preschool age, I would work up to 45 minutes to a hour.  My almost 6 year old will do Room Time now for almost a hour.  Some days longer if he really gets caught up in a project.

*Rotate special toys-- In the early days of training, I would rotate certain special toys that only came out during Room Time: special puzzles, certain books, a particularly imaginative toy.  Keeping toys "fresh" keeps the child interested and engaged for longer periods of time.  Plus it keeps their imaginations turning with new ideas.

*You decide when Room Time is over--  Do not allow your child to decide when Room Time is over. If you're finding that they are ready to return to normal play sooner than you are, readjust your expectations and build on your time more slowly.  But if they are coming out without your permission, return them to their room, wait a minute or two, and then YOU be the one to end Room Time.  This is training.  It will take time.  Don't exasperate your children, but be a trainer.

This is just a tool that's helped us in our home.  We love Room Time around here and are so happy for this accidental discovery.  Hopefully it will help you too.

How do afternoons run in your family?

*Linked to Weekend Bloggy Reading

Guest Post: Sarah Lenssen from Ask5for5

Family photos by Mike Fiechtner Photography

Thank you Creative2xmom and nearly 150 other bloggers from around the world for allowing me to share a story with you today, during Social Media Week.

A hungry child in East Africa can't wait. Her hunger consumes her while we decide if we'll respond and save her life. In Somalia, children are stumbling along for days, even weeks, on dangerous roads and with empty stomachs in search of food and water. Their crops failed for the third year in a row. All their animals died. They lost everything. Thousands are dying along the road before they find help in refugee camps. 

At my house, when my three children are hungry, they wait minutes for food, maybe an hour if dinner is approaching. Children affected by the food crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia aren't so lucky. Did you know that the worst drought in 60 years is ravaging whole countries right now, as you read this? Famine, a term not used lightly, has been declared in Somalia. This is the world's first famine in 20 years.12.4 million people are in need of emergency assistance and over 29,000 children have died in the last three months alone. A child is dying every 5 minutes. It it estimated that 750,000 people could die before this famine is over. Take a moment and let that settle in.

The media plays a major role in disasters. They have the power to draw the attention of society to respond--or not. Unfortunately, this horrific disaster has become merely a footnote in most national media outlets. News of the U.S. national debt squabble and the latest celebrity's baby bump dominate headlines. That is why I am thrilled that nearly 150 bloggers from all over the world are joining together today to use the power of social media to make their own headlines; to share the urgent need of the almost forgotten with their blog readers. Humans have the capacity to care deeply for those who are suffering, but in a situation like this when the numbers are too huge to grasp and the people so far away, we often feel like the little we can do will be a drop in the ocean, and don't do anything at all.

When news of the famine first hit the news in late July, I selfishly avoided it. I didn't want to read about it or hear about it because I knew I would feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable. I wanted to protect myself. I knew I would need to do something if I knew what was really happening. You see, this food crisis is personal. I have a 4-year-old son and a 1 yr-old daughter who were adopted from Ethiopia and born in regions now affected by the drought. If my children still lived in their home villages, they would be two of the 12.4 million. My children: extremely hungry and malnourished? Gulp. I think any one of us would do anything we could for our hungry child. But would you do something for another mother's hungry child?

My friend and World Vision staffer, Jon Warren, was recently in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya--the largest refugee camp in the world with over 400,000 people. He told me the story of Isnino Siyat, 22, a mother who walked for 10 days and nights with her husband, 1 yr-old-baby, Suleiman, and 4 yr.-old son Adan Hussein, fleeing the drought in Somalia. When she arrived at Dadaab, she built the family a shelter with borrowed materials while carrying her baby on her back. Even her dress is borrowed. As she sat in the shelter on her second night in camp she told Jon, "I left because of hunger. It is a very horrible drought which finished both our livestock and our farm." The family lost their 5 cows and 10 goats one by one over 3 months, as grazing lands dried up. "We don't have enough food now...our food is finished. I am really worried about the future of my children and myself if the situation continues."

Will you help a child like Baby Suleiman? Ask5for5 is a dream built upon the belief that you will.

That something I knew I would need to do became a campaign called #Ask5for5 to raise awareness and funds for famine and drought victims. The concept is simple, give $5 and ask five of your friends to give $5, and then they each ask five of their friends to give $5 and so on--in nine generations of 5x5x5...we could raise $2.4 Million! In one month, over 750 people have donated over $25,000! I set up a fundraiser at See Your Impact and 100% of the funds will go to World Vision, an organization that has been fighting hunger in the Horn of Africa for decades and will continue long after this famine has ended. Donations can multiply up to 5 times in impact by government grants to
help provide emergency food, clean water, agricultural support,
healthcare, and other vital assistance to children and families suffering in the Horn.

I need you to help me save lives. It's so so simple; here's what you need to do:
  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (
  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.
  3. Share #Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter!
I'm looking for another 100 bloggers to share this post on their blogs throughout Social Media Week. Email me at if you're interested in participating this week.

A hungry child doesn't wait. She doesn't wait for us to finish the other things on our to-do list, or get to it next month when we might have a little more money to give. She doesn't wait for us to decide if she's important enough to deserve a response. She will only wait as long as her weakened little body will hold on...please respond now and help save her life. Ask 5 for 5.

Thank you on behalf of all of those who will be helped--you are saving lives and changing history.

p.s. Please don't move on to the next website before you donate and email your friends right now. It only takes 5 minutes and just $5, and if you're life is busy like mine, you probably won't get back to it later. Let's not be a generation that ignores hundreds of thousands of starving people, instead let's leave a legacy of compassion. You have the opportunity to save a life today!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

On Kids, Weddings, and Funerals

I'm a mama who loves having her little ones with her.  In fact, most of the time we choose not to have babysitters.  We simply arrange our lives in such a way to include our two blessings.

Sure there are occasions where a sitter is needed or Mama just needs to run an errand in peace and quiet. But for the most part, we feel that our children will learn best when they're with us.  Sometimes that means taking them to ministry opportunities.  Sometimes it means arranging a lunch meeting at a kid friendly location.  Often it means much more work for Mom and Dad.  But it always entails benefits beyond the temporary.

Within the past year we've been faced with wrestling through where we stand on weddings and funerals.  Last fall Noah and Lydia (then 5 and almost 3) were asked to be in a family wedding.  It was delightful to see them walk in, so excited to be a part of this wonderful day.  They stood at the front as their Daddy officiated the ceremony.  They heard the couple pledging to love each other till death.  And they heard the gentle reminder that a marriage cannot stand unless Christ is the center.

Although young, it's a blessing to have these ideas planted in their minds.  To see that we take marriage seriously as the bride and groom served each other communion.  And to know that this day marked a new beginning in their lives.

And funerals...

Last month, we lost my cousin and the kids attended the memorial service with us.  Circumstances moved us to taking them, and in hindsight, I'm glad we did.  We talked a lot before hand about what they would see, how some family members might cry, and why we were all gathering together.  I also brainstormed with the kids about what they should do if they saw someone crying.  Should they be scared?  Why were they crying?  What they could do to comfort a family member?

It was amazing to see how well behaved Noah and Lydia were.  For them to hear how a family member was so loved.  To hear how a kind heart touched so many lives.  And to discuss what happens after death.  And for a mother's heart to see my almost 6 year old reach over to comfort his Great-Grandma.

And so life goes on.  

Babies are born and we rejoice.  My littles learn what it means to celebrate a new life.

Weddings come and we're reminded of what a sober commitment it is.  My littles learn that God has a purpose for marriage.

Loved ones die and we mourn.  My littles learn that life is a race against time and the worth of life is what we do with that time.

This is just what works for us.  

How do you feel about children attending weddings and funerals?

*Linked to these Parties and Weekend Bloggy Reading

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Interview with Ann Voskamp

I stumped across this interview a few days ago and wanted to share it with you all.  While I'm not a huge fan of the interviewer, Ann Voskamp's message is one that continues to resonate with me again and again.  Thanking the Lord for our everyday blessings is a message to be shouted from the rooftop.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Custom Party Giveaway

I love parties!  Planning my kids' birthday parties every year is so much fun for me.  For months before hand, I just love dreaming about all the food and the games and the laughter.  It's one day in the year that gets to be all about them.

As I result, I have a pretty thick folder of ideas bookmarked on my computer.  Not the least of which is all the fun ideas and party supplies you can find on Etsy.  I'm so envious of these sellers who can come up with amazing party ideas and actually make them a reality.  Recently while I was browsing, I came across BrandUSA Designs.  Just take a look at some of these wonderful items from her shop.

Toy Story is HOT, HOT, HOT right now.
Who doesn't love Woody and Buzz?

Every little girl should have a Berry Sweet Birthday!

And I know several older girls who would love a hula party!

And guess what?  You can win a set.

For one lucky reader, I have a set of custom design invitations & matching thank you cards ($15 value).

Here's all you have to do:
Mandatory Entry:

*Check out BrandUSA Designs.
Leave a comment on this post telling me what product interests you the most.

Optional Entries:

*Follow Creative2xmom with Google
* Follow Creative2xmom on Facebook
*Follow Creative2xmom on Twitter
*Follow BrandUSA Designs on Facebook
*Blog, Facebook, or Tweet this giveaway (one entry per method)

Leave me a separate comment for each entry.
Entries will close at midnight on Sept 20th.
Winner will be announced Sept 21st.

Good luck to all the entrants!

*Linked to these Parties and Weekend Bloggy Reading

Monday, September 12, 2011

Favorite Fall Decor Ideas

The internet is exploding with great fall ideas.  I love this time of year.  The weather cools down, the pumpkins ripen, and the world comes alive with color.  My crockpot bubbles with homemade stews and my coffee mug holds a pumpkin spice latte.  To get you in the mood, here are just a few of my favorite fall ideas:

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