Crazy Easy Little Kid Valentine’s Cards

I’ve always been crafty, so much so that I’m often tempted to make everything by hand and from scratch. I’m trying to reform this a bit because if I don’t I’m going to end up with carpal tunnel syndrome, suffocated after being buried under a mountain of leftover fabric and felt.

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That being said, I just can’t give up homemade Valentine’s Day cards. And I adore doilies, I hold firm to my belief that it doesn’t have a doily, it’s not a Valentine.

However, my son has 36 kids in his preschool class, my daughter? 20.

Then there’s the 15 cards for the play group party and the ones they want to send to their cousins, aunts, uncles and apparently all the cats in the world. Because of course they do.

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So, over the past few weeks I spent a bit of time trying to figure out how to combine homemade with wicked simple in an end product that would both involve them and not destroy my home or my sanity.

This is what I came up with! I guarantee you Pinterest has cuter, wittier ideas but these have a special, vintage something… doilies probably. #doilylove

The great thing about this project is that it will take at least 3 craft sessions to get done. Which is a bummer if you’re short on time but GREAT if you are looking for a way to fill the long winter hours.

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Breakdown: Have your kids glue scraps of ribbon, paper, lace and doilies onto a heart. Then place a message over top “found poetry” style and cover with a light layer of mod podge (optional) so it all stays on.

Here is what you’ll need:

Valentine’s Paper (solid colored or patterned, I did both)
Scissors
Glue Sticks
Doilies (never optional!)
Heart punch (optional)
Printer
Mod Podge
Paintbrush
To be honest I had all this on hand, but like I said I’ve developed a mildly impressive craft stash over the years. 

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Cut out the hearts. I did this for my kids but you could totally have your older ones trace and cut out the hearts. I could have had Noelle cut them out herself and hone her cutting skills but in the interest of time I cut them out while they were having a bit of screen time.
Make sure your hearts are a size that you can find envelopes for, I got mine at Hobby lobby but amazon has great deals, like these! 

Prep your materials by cutting shapes from the scraps leftover from the paper you cut your hearts out of. Cut doilies into little triangles too, like lacy pie. Punch out hearts or confetti. The kids can help with this stage!

Give your kids the hearts and glue sticks and let them glue confetti, doily pieces and paper scraps to their hearts. I set my kids up at a card table in the corner so we could keep this project going for a few sessions.

noelle valentines

Glue Glue Glue, Stick Stick Stick. We went through four glue sticks in an hour so stock up!

I marked the back of each heart with the first letter of each kid’s name so they could give their friends and family the cards they made. I feel as though this will prevent kid drama.

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Now print out a cute message. I went old school and did “Happy Valentine’s Day” in a typewriter font, but there are countless witty valentines phrases. I cut each word out separately to have it look more found poetry (or ransom note?) style, but you can do it your way.

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Stick on the words in the appropriate order.

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Now, if you’d like, when your kids are in bed, paint a thin layer of mod podge over each valentine.

Let them dry and that’s about it! Envelopes and off to school or the mailbox! 

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SO there you go, my crazy, easy take on vintage Valentines card designed for young kids to get involved while parents stay sane.

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How to stop worrying about who isn’t listening or reading or watching and start loving the people who are

photo courtesy of flickr creative commons jennifah007

photo courtesy of flickr creative commons jennifah007

I have a confession to make:  Sometimes when I’m talking to my children about something particularly amusing or ridiculous, I project a little louder for other people to hear.

“You learned about how Jesus will heal as long as we cut a holes in the roof? Wow that’s crazy!”  
(big look around to see if anyone else heard that and wants to exchange a grown up eye with me as I ignore the child trying to talk to me about God… <facesmack>)

And sometimes I do this with my husband, especially at parties or social gatherings. If we say something funny together I’ll dump him to go tell other, new-shiny people about it.

And sometimes I do this with my friends

And very often I do this online.

And when I do this, you know what I’m saying? Dear person I’m actually talking to:  You’re not enough, I need a larger, more important audience.  Others matter more than what’s going on between us.  

My need to be noticed trumps what we are sharing in this moment.

It took a season of therapy and a good hard look to realize that the heart of this problem is this:  So often I worry about who isn’t listening and miss out on who is, because I’m valuing the wrong things.

We all do this in life, don’t we? Come on, please normalize this with me so I don’t feel like such a jerk…

We’re chatting with our friends, our people and across the room or the twittersphere when we spot someone we wish we were friends with, chatting with a crowd we wish we ran with and we feel… jealous and small and less than… maybe even crummy and insignificant.

Why? Because we want to be noticed and successful. It’s perfectly normal… but if we’re not careful it can become utterly consuming.  And we should be careful.

We should be careful with the people we’ve been entrusted with, the audience we’ve been given. 

Because odds are that if you look around, you’re already as noticed and significant as you need to be.

Let me give you an example that will potentially make you hate me and burn my blog in anger (I don’t know how that would work, just go with it):

Sometimes when a new person responds to me on twitter I go to check their profile.

Not a big confession, Normal right?
What am I looking for you ask?
Am I trying to see if we have common interests and beliefs?
Nope.  I’m checking to see how many followers they have to figure out how much time and attention I should give them.
I know, I know.  Awful. But I swear It’s getting better…

Why? I’ve stopped worrying about who’s not listening and started loving everyone who is.

I actually remember the exact day that this switch flipped. I got put off by an acquaintance online, someone who didn’t do anything wrong but who, through inaction left me with a wound.

I literally looked at myself in the toothpaste covered bathroom mirror and yelled. “What (name of person) thinks doesn’t even matter! I have people, good people and what (he/she) does or doesn’t think of me doesn’t get anymore airtime in my brain or my time.”

Then I talked about it at therapy. A lot. I talked about how I want to intentionally cultivate depth with the people I’ve been given (gifts each one!) and how badly I needed to stop worrying about who wasn’t paying attention to me.

Then over dishes about a week later I received some news from God.  The kind that just pops into your mind and feels at home, like sweet mind-truth, life giving and free.

“I’ve given you exactly the influence needed, the people you were meant to tend and grow. Love them well and forget the rest.”

And so it was that I learned to love my people, my place in this world.  Not in a passive way, but in an active, daily choosing that leaves me feeling full of life and peace.

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I like your costume

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I love Halloween, I always have.  There’s something inside all of us that loves to play dress up, to pretend to be something entirely other than ourselves, if just for a night.  To let our inner avatars come to life.

I’ve dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow, a Geisha Girl, Little Red Riding Hood, Flo the Progressive Girl… and this is just as an adult.

Every year of my kid’s lives I’ve made their costumes by hand. Not to show off, but because it was a commitment I’d made before they were ever born.  I wanted to use my hands to help their creativity come to life and not just by swiping my card.

I’ve always known I’d be a homemade costume mama, it’s the reason I took sewing classes in my early twenties. It’s important for me to sew, crochet and hot glue their imaginations into reality.  

I think it’s just because I love the whimsy of Halloween, the one night where we all play dress up and pretend, where imagination wins all.

I get giddy over opening my door for Trick or Treaters, to see their visions come alive and to smile at the parents standing proudly behind their little lions, ghosts and minions.

We all roll our eyes at the “too old” trick or treaters. The high school kids who shoulder their way through the little ones to get their hands on our bowls full of Snickers and Reeses.

Because, I think at some point we’re supposed to be done with trick or treating, and rightfully so.  It’s a place for the littles to play.

Yet, I don’t think any of us should ever give up the whimsy of Halloween, the belief that we can put on a hat and fulfill our wildest dreams.

We should dream big, fulfill our inner passions, finally become the firefighters and veterinarians we always thought we would be.

But the dreaming of dress up has to live side by side with a love of the sweet right here, the seemingly ordinary right now.

If little “trick or treat” you rang your doorbell this Thursday, do you think they’d be disappointed in who you’ve become?

Do you think they’d be sad that you’re not a professional wrester or stunt rider?

I bet they wouldn’t.

I don’t think we’re letting ourselves down as much as we think we are.

I know you feel like you haven’t arrived yet, like you’ll be better when you achieve this or that. 

But please don’t buy into that lie, because you’re beautiful today.  In the costume you have on right now.

For me, my dream costume is that of “published author” as it is with so many writers, I’ll finally be okay when I publish a book, that’s the magic moment when I’ll feel like my writer costume isn’t a joke.

But you know what?  I think if 6 year old me came to our door on Thursday night she’d see our comfy home complete with a cat, two kids and an awesome playroom and be thrilled.

If teenage me peeked in our window and saw the romance in our marriage to a good, good man she’d breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that it all works out in the end even if she IS 16 and never been kissed.

In the end, when you look down at the costume you wear in daily life, even if it’s not the end all be all fulfillment of your deepest passions, it’s still a pretty good gig.

I’m not saying don’t dream big, I’m saying that you’re already somewhere worth celebrating, so grab a snickers (or if you have supremely good taste, an Almond Joy) and celebrate the costume you get to wear every day.

Because it’s lovely in it’s here-ness.  So is mine, go us.

What did little you want to be “when you grow up?” OR What is your Halloween Candy Kryptonite (what can’t you leave alone?)

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Pause for the Whisper (a guest post for Emily Miller)

Today I’m guest posting for my dear friend and fellow extrovert, Emily Miller on my favorite spiritual practice.  I’d love for you to check it out, a lot of heart in here today.  

Pauseforthewhisper

I live in a noisy world, I bet you do too.  Between my two busy preschoolers, my talkative cat and my endless to-do list, rarely does a silent moment grace the walls of our home.  Even now as I write, dinner dishes are being clattered in soapy water while matchbox cars are being vroomed on the hard kitchen floor. Outside somewhere someone is trying to sneak in their lawn mowing before sunset and another neighbor is revving their motorcycle… for whatever reason people do that.

Noise, always noise.

And with it?  Anxious thoughts, worry, wondering if there will be enough. Enough time for the work, enough money for the bills, enough gentle words to outweigh the bad, enough good in me to remain loved and sought after by both God and his people.

It’s like a merry go-round, spun by a bully that doesn’t let up.

Some days I look at the carefree whimsy of my children with jealous longing. Remember the days of childhood?  The ones that came before the groceries, checklists and oil changes?  Back then we didn’t worry about being good enough or provided for.  We just played Care Bears and Ninja turtles and hoped someone would give us candy.

But no longer, now life is a noisy ride, so how do we hold on to the truth in the midst of the clammer?

Here’s my spiritual practice: It’s pausing for the whisper.

Our lives are loud, but the whispers of God’s truth are always and ever present.

Kindly proceed to Emily’s blog for the rest of the story?

Apple by Apple

Today I’m blending the pictures and poetry of our trip with to the orchard with the Burden Family into a prayer for autumn.  All photos compliments of my lovely and dear friend Jillian Burden.  

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Like any good Michigander, I can measure my years by trips to the apple orchard.

I can still remember with vivd clarity my kindergarden trip to the pumpkin patch and cider mill.  After wandering the fields of orange and green we were rewarded by a warm donut and fresh pressed cider as we squeezed together on the picnic tables.

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There is nothing in the world like a cake donut with fresh pressed cider, If you love it, you know it’s a comfort food born early.

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Trips to the orchard ring altogether wholesome, holding hands while crunching apples and leaves as you fill heap your wagon full of fruit.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 9.47.48 AM Continue reading

A God Light Expert.

It was the end of the evening, after dinner but not quite bedtime, when I heard my four year old Noelle call to me from down the hall.

“Mom!  Come here, I have to show you something! It’s a surprise in your bedroom, you’ll love it so much!”

Outwardly I said: “Alright sweet girl, I’m coming!”

Inwardly I thought: “I wonder what mess she’s made this time.”

She was waiting for me on the khaki carpeted floor at the entrance to our bedroom, just sitting there grinning.

“Look Mom, it’s light.” she said with reverent awe.

And then I saw it, a beam of light that had made it’s way through the faux wood blinds of our bedroom and into the hallway, translucent-gold as the the dust of daily life passed through it.

My breath caught, this was not was I was expecting to be hauled down the hallway to see. Kitty games, forts, book towers… yup, expectable.  This golden stream of light?  It struck me as perfection.

I plopped down next to her and told her that it was light coming through the window, a focused beam of light shining on our floor.

“It reminds me of God.”  I told her, “the way his light streams into our lives and makes things beautiful and bright.”

 “So God is light?  That’s God?”  She asked me.

“Yes, and no” I told her. “That reminds me of God, the way his light always finds the cracks and comes into our lives.”

And that’s when she really popped my heart open: “Yeah, I know mom.  I’m a God-light Expert.”

God-light

I’m not sure what a God-light expert is guys, all I know for certain is that I want to be one.

An expert in seeing God-light in the unexpected places
In believing in it’s transformative power
An expert in being it, bringing it and letting it flow through me in all sorts of unlikely ways.

I’m sick of walking by the God light in all it’s many forms because I’m too occupied with busywork and worry.

I want to be stopped by the God light
I want to bring it where I’m going
I want the mini blinds of my heart to open wide to let in more than just cracks of it.

I want to swim in it, or at least realize that I already am swimming in it… and always have been.

I want see my children as the experts in God-Light and I, the novice as the they daily delight in the little bits of daily light.

I want my grown-up cynicism to crack like a breakfast egg and all the good stuff to run out and nourish another day of life on earth.

I want to be a God-Light expert too.  Don’t you?

How do your kids teach you about God-Light?  Where are you seeing it these days?

Spoiled, but not rotten?

© Goranmulic | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Goranmulic | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

I’ve spent a lot of time in our mini-van lately, last weekend to Dallas, this past weekend a day trip to Oklahoma City.  As my eyes take in the landscape of the southern plains, my mind wanders to all the different regions of this country, reflecting on all I have seen, and how freely we’re able to hop in the car and go.

Lately as my eyes take in the ever changing landscape, from small mountains to trees to scrubby grasslands, I can’t help but think about the freedom we have.  The freedom to be. To go. To live.

I hold our mobility incredibly close to my heart as a freedom, a gift.  A short road trip, something trivial for us, is a huge freedom for many in this world who may never know a world beyond their own 10 mile radius.

Yet, here we are free to strap our children safely in our van as they stare at little screens and eat healthy snacks and sip clean water from character themed sippy cups.

When we get to our destination they play happily in a water park or build custom stuffed animals with both parents by their sides.  Later in the evening we have our food brought to us at restaurants of our choosing.

Oh Lord, we have so much, we have too much, we have everything.

With a little hard work and elbow grease we can improve our already fabulous situation, we can move across the country, change careers, aspire, dream, achieve. Continue reading

Overcome (to the point of the Happy, Ugly Cry)

Sunday morning I woke up in an awful state.  My chest was tight with anxiety, my mind swimming with unanswered questions.  I could hardly think beyond our budget and calendar.

The weight of it threatened to crush our prospects of having a peaceful or enjoyable Sunday.

Thankfully, God led Kel and I to pray about it all, which isn’t always our usual.  Sometimes I rant and rave with worry until I get put in time out.  And through this, God worked a small miracle and redeemed our Sunday.

We made it to church with only one song left in the worship set, and it was then that these lyrics hit my ears.

775882_28643193 There’s nothing worth more, that will ever come close
nothing can compare, You’re our living hope
Your Presence Lord

I’ve tasted and seen, of the sweetest of Loves
Where my heart becomes free, and my shame is undone
In Your Presence Lord

Holy Spirit You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your Glory God is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your Presence Lord

Holy Spirit, Jesus Culture, check it out here and then go to iTunes and download it.

Somehow these words hit me with such strength that teared up and grabbed my notebook, sat down and scribbled away.

When I stood back up, I had a new prayer on my lips, so much bigger and better than just: “God make sense of our budget” or “God give us direction for the future.”  I’ll still be saying those prayers, but I’ll be praying this one louder:

I want to be overcome this week, seriously and totally overcome by God’s gifts and fingerprints on my life.  I want to be moved to tears, I want to ugly cry my mascara off for the joy of what I’ve been given. Continue reading

Still here and here, still.

Us. Loveseat.

Good morning from my office, the one next to our dining room table which is covered in laundry and uneaten pancakes, still a bit sticky from last night’s mac n cheese for dinner.
Cuz we’re fancy when Kel’s out of town. We sent him on sabbatical by the way, shipped him to a cabin in the woods to talk walks and read books and pray.  I think it’s my season to take special care of him, because marriage has seasons like that, doesn’t it?

So I’ve been solo parenting these past few days, but I refuse to whine about it because I know too many single moms that do it solo every.day.  They’re some of my most super-est heroes. (I’m looking at you Jenae, you stalker)  

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A few hours before Kel left I posted a chalkboard list, asking for ideas to pass the timewhile Kel is away.  I was going to sew the kids a puppet theater, and take them to the library, we were going to make the 45 min trek to the Children’s Museum.

I had big plans to cram the hours full so they’d fly right by.

But we didn’t do most of that list, we played and baked and read a lot but we only left the house together once.  There just wasn’t anyplace we needed to go, we found great contentment in the sweet right here.

Pitawich!We dug into all those new Christmas toys.  We giggled a lot as Noelle invented a new lunch called the pita-wich, a sandwich, IN A PITA!  We think it’s funny but odds are you  had to be here.

I wiped their noses a lot.

We ate mostly clementines and leftovers.

I annoyed Caedmon by sneaking up on him and clipping clothespins on his shirt.

I became a novice railroad engineer by building tracks on the train table.

photo copy 4 We watched Cars 2, a lot and I let them Vroom cars on my head and legs.

My dear friend Jessica came over to help me a bit and I opened up my heart to her.

I spent a lot of time sitting still, snuggling my children more than I have in months.

I doled out hundreds of kisses on their faces and necks, irritating amounts of kisses.

I’m a goer, a doer, a producer, but these past few days I realized that how much I’ve shortchanged my motherhood.

photo copy 3 When they fell asleep I cleaned up the most pressing messes and then headed to bed to read and write and be still some more.

Because we needed this cozy, simple stillness. I needed to remember who I am and see these two beauties for who they are, which is exactly who they were created to be.

Sometimes I see the mothering as the distraction, the roadblock standing between me and what I need to be doing.

photo copy 2 I know that sometimes it will still feel like that.  Things aren’t perfect around here, I’m not living in an permanent state of mom-gasm like some women SEEM to be.  I freak out, I lose it, I need a break from the noise and crazy on a bi-hourly basis.

But this morning as I sip my luke warm coffee I’m simply thankful for the sweet, still right here.

I’m also thankful that Kel gets home in about 5 hours… not that I’m counting.

What’s grounding you these days?  How have you spent the first week of the New Year?

Letters to my Mother (Day 21) rest

My turn to be someone’s safe place

Dear Mom,

When I was little and afraid I would curl up in the softness of your faded flannel nightgowns. I remember resting my head on your warm lap that smelled like the safety of you.

You would rub my hair, sing “you are my sunshine” and all felt gauzy yellow, softly safe.

I’m exhausted and you’re gone. Life has been emotionally draining lately. So much life and no time to sort thought it all. Continue reading