Archives for posts with tag: crafts

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Ready for some fun assignments? Add these to your weekend to-do list:

1. Give yourself permission to try something new, even if it is as small as a new drink. Pops, near Edmond, Okla., has more than 500 kinds of soda. Maybe crack open a bottle of apple pie or a specialty root beer?

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2. Build a fort. Even if there aren’t any children around, forts make great places to escape and read. (If building forts becomes a regular thing you might consider sewing strings to the ends of a sheet. The strings make it much easier to attach to dining room chairs.)

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3. Bring nature inside. You’ll feel yourself relax every time it catches your eye.

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4. Water down some glue and then use it to paint the inside of a jar. Sprinkle glitter. Add a tea light candle and a prayer.

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5.  When you start to feel the pressure of your neighbor’s green lawn, your sister’s new car and your friend’s skyrocketing career, read this. Maybe memorize it. This is from Jeff Manion’s book, “Satisfied.” You can buy it in January.

“Comparison is a thief and a killer. Comparison robs you of gratitude and contentment. Comparison massacres joy…. Comparison is the enemy of the satisfied, generous life.”

I think we’re all trying to be more responsible with our money — and not just by spending less. We want our dollars to bring healing instead of hurt.

That’s why I love stores like A Second Thought in East Rochester. The proceeds from the thrift store go to support people with disabilities in Guatemala, people who might otherwise be forgotten in that culture. Even if you don’t live nearby, you can find the store on ebay and send donations to help with the mission trips.

The store recently gave me a $25 gift certificate to see what I could find on the shelves that I could weave into a story. At the time, I was preparing for 1,200-mile road trip with my husband and our three boys, so I focused on things to keep the boys entertained. 

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As a veteran of many, many 22-hour road trips, I’ve learned to think small — and to think in terms of what might melt in the van. (In the summer, think colored pencils instead of crayons and SweeTarts instead of chocolate.) 

I usually let each boy bring a bag or backpack with toys and then I have “family items” that we rotate through once the boys start getting bored with what they packed.

On our most recent trip I kept family items corralled in a basket I had around the house and in this Swiss Miss container-turned-oh-so-enticing toy jar. (Brought to you by the magic of scrapbook paper and a glue stick.)

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You’ll notice it holds things like three rings that light up, which I think cost $2 total at Michael’s; small wind up animals that were $1 each at Michael’s; card games; cowboy-themed foam stickers from Dollar Tree; colored pencils and write-on wipe-off markers to draw silly faces on 4×6 family photographs that I laminated.

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We also emptied these tiny jars (eight for $1 at Dollar Tree) and brought them along to fill with pebbles or soil or anything else interesting. The tops have an opening just large enough for a jump ring or to slide a bit of thread through. The jars are about the size of a push pin.

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I knew we were going to the Oklahoma Aquarium — and I knew they had a very tempting gift store — so I bought a small stuffed shark and a stuffed otter at A Second Thought thrift store for 50 cents each. I tossed them in the laundry and then hid them in the Swiss Miss container until we were on the way. The same sized stuffed animals would have cost me more than $10 each at the gift store.

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IMG_3047Our 5-year-old is fascinated by animals, especially marine life, so I found an educational book with puzzles and stickers for $2 at Ollie’s and (because I’m a bit crazy) I tore the pages out, punched holes in them and added them to his animal binder that I made for him in April. I have scriptures about animals in there, a favorite hymn about God creating all things and coloring pages that correspond with the animals I know he will see.

I also bought a book from Ollie’s about the United States and created a binder for that, along with state stickers that my sister bought for me at Mardel (which is an amazing Christian bookstore based in Oklahoma). She also found these passports there. I took the passports to the post office and they stamped them with the date and location — making it a great keepsake.

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We have a DVD player in our van, so I found some kid-friendly DVDs for $2 at A Second Thought, along with two still-in-the-wrapper puzzles, a Mickey Mouse sticker book and three books that my boys hadn’t read.

IMG_3141I had been looking for a tray for our 2-year-old but I didn’t want to pay full price for one made specifically for his car seat. When I saw this at A Second Thought for $4, I knew it was exactly what I needed. I planned to paint train tracks and scenery but time slipped away from me as we were getting ready for the trip. He didn’t seem to mind the duck, though.

Even though he was a little too young for it, we did have these great (free!) printables for the license plate game and car bingo. I laminated them and the rest of us used those write-on wipe-off markers to check off the states. (We are still searching for a license plate from Hawaii, by the way.)

For the youngest guy I did pull out my scraps of felt and make a train and some faces that he could design for himself.

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In another effort to reuse, we took empty paper towel rolls and covered them with scrapbook paper. Add a little imagination and you have a special spy glass.

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Toss in some Star Wars Mad Libs, fuzzy sticks (also known as pipe cleaners) a thrifted Columbia backpack for $4 from A Second Thought — what a bargain — and you have plenty of entertainment!

I even found the perfect way to capture all the memories, courtesy of a hardback book from A Second Thought. I liked that it had the word home in its title, so I had a friend drill holes, tear out the pages and add binder rings. Now, all I have to do is punch holes in our pictures and make a few notes.

 

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May you have safe — and blessed — travels! Enjoy the journey!

 

 

It’s hard to pick just one verse about love to put on the chalkboard in the kitchen. But this one… well, it seemed like the perfect valentine message for us all:

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” — Romans 8:38-39

This Valentine’s Day, may you know that you are loved beyond measure and held by a love that never stops.

Want to celebrate? Here are three easy — and inexpensive ways — to add a little love to your home:

IMG_12281. We each drew or cut out hearts and put them in inexpensive frames. (I bought these about a year ago from the Dollar Tree and I just change the artwork out seasonally.) For the two younger boys, I drew hearts and they colored them in. These should help liven up our mantel.

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IMG_12412. Who doesn’t love the amazing pipe cleaner? With just a few twists and tugs, you can easily make this garland. (Some of my hearts are a bit crooked but don’t judge me.)

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IMG_12663. I’m a bit unconventional with my China cabinet. I try to put things in there that are meaningful and make me smile — but are not necessarily related to dining. For Valentine’s Day, I pulled together some pictures from our wedding, a Bible that Daddy gave to Mama the Christmas before they married, my grandma’s wedding rings and a figurine of an angel with “the greatest of these is love.”

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Do you have ideas to share, too?

It’s not that I have an overly complicated life. Its just that I need a new perspective — and I want you to help. I’ve been thinking about rearranging my schedule, but I keep coming back to what I’ve used in the past.

So, here’s the deal. I’d like to tell you the main things on my schedule and have you tell me how you’d arrange things. Are you in?

 

 

Here are the basics:

  • I work from 8:30 to 5 and my commute is roughly 30 minutes each way.
  • The boys are in bed around 9 p.m.
  • I do freelance work and blogging on the side. I’d love to dedicate eight to 10 hours to that each week.
  • Getting up before 6 a.m. is difficult, but I could try to do it if that turns out to be the best way to rearrange things.
  • I like to watch “Castle” with my hubby. That comes on at 10 p.m. Mondays.

What I’d like to work into the schedule:

  • I’d like to stop piling up housework for the weekend so I can have more time to relax and enjoy my family.
  • I used to do freelance work in the mornings but I think my oldest son would enjoy it if I had breakfast with him and visited.
  • I’d like to make one-on-one time for the boys, but it needs to be scheduled so we don’t ignore it if we get busy.
  • The boys like it when I plan special adventures and fun food. That means time on Pinterest and other blogs to get ideas, though.
  • I’d love to improve my family’s social life. Maybe we could have people over more often?
  • I thought it might be fun to have a family devotional after dinner or schedule time to send cards and make gifts for folks.
  • I also like to craft, but it seems I’m always too busy.

How do I fit those things in — should it be before work? After the boys go to sleep?

What works for you? What things do you make time for?

Laurie Moulton knows that life is fleeting – and she knows that she wants her two sons to have a storehouse of family memories. When her oldest son was 18 months old, cancer took her sister-in-law and left four children without the chance to grow up with their mother.

“Now I’m intentional about making great memories,” says Moulton, who lives in Webster, NY, and recently published Let the Adventure Begin! Theme Nights for Families with Young Children:Fun & Easy Family Night Activities ($14.99, Family Theme Night Books). She has released a companion book, Memory Making Meals: Fun & Easy Family Dinners ($12.99).

The Moulton family aims for one family theme night a week, where they might build a pyramid out of toilet paper rolls, walk the plank on pirate night or pretend that Mom and Dad’s bed is the whale that swallows Jonah, a biblical prophet. But usually it’s more like every other week.

“You have to keep it easy or you’re not going to do it,” says Moulton, who included a chapter on faith-themed nights.

Experiences that are out of the ordinary, like eating dinner under the table on backwards night, are more likely to stick with us because the brain stores those situations more permanently than the day-to-day experiences, says Daniel DeMarle, an education specialist who works with families touched by behavioral or developmental challenges.

The making of a spider bread bowl for our "Man vs. Wild" theme night.

Of course, leaving a memorable legacy might not be the real goal, DeMarle adds. What most people, like Moulton, want is a meaningful legacy.

Vacations and theme nights aren’t enough on their own, he says. Loved ones need traditional, or routine, experiences like eating dinner together, too. Sprinkle in some chances to build confidence, like a long hike or building a tree house, and before you know it you’ve got yourself a stockpile of meaningful memories.

"Worms" made of hot dogs and barbecue sauce to go along with our theme of living off the land. (That's a gummy worm in the sippy cup.)

“When my children are grown and look back on their childhood, I don’t want them to only remember that mom was always busy cleaning and doing the dishes,” Moulton writes in Let the Adventure Begin. “I want them to have fond memories of fun times we had together as a family.”

Something tells me she’ll succeed. I hope we all do.

Mmmm... Crumbled up cookies and chocolate pudding look like dirt but taste great!

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