Friday, February 28, 2014

Belated Birthday Party!

I probably don't mention this enough... but I am blessed with some really wonderful friends!
for my 31st birthday two of my best gals blew me away with a surprise luau party that was off the hook! 
I think they must really like me or something because they totally came through again this year!  They put together a restaurant hop girls night out this year that was SO fun!
 We started the night out at The Claddagh for appetizers (one of my favorites) and then made our way over to a local pub called the Black Swan for dinner and desserts.  We had such a great time of food and fellowship and lots and lots of laughs!
I am so thankful to have all these ladies in my life! God truly uses each one of these ladies (and others not pictured) to work in my life.  I love them all!!

Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit. – Aristotle

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Homeschool Co-op Lego Class Part 1

In our homeschool co-op all the moms take turns teaching classes.  I have done different story/craft classes for the younger grades before but this time I took on something a little different.  I wanted to find a subject that would really (hopefully) get the kids to engage.  With the plan to teach Nate's 3rd grade class I offered to do a Lego Class.

Thanks to Pinterest I have found tons of great Lego learning ideas that I have been able to use in our class.  In this post I will share what we did in our first three class sessions.  I will have a follow-up post with the details on our last three sessions next month.

Week One - we helped the kids cut out and assemble their own Lego minifig paper box (a printable found in this birthday party kit)

Week Two - the kids played Lego Bingo and then had some free-build time.

Week Three - the class had fun wearing their Lego masks.
A few of the kids had recently seen the Lego Movie and were all singing the "Everything is Awesome" song.  So they had to make "Everything is Awesome" out of Legos. ;-)

Its been a pretty relaxed class.  Its extracurricular, the kids are having a blast.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Intentional Relationships

Some friends of ours recently joined an "intentional community".  What is that, you say? When my dad first heard about it he jokingly called them hippies.  But, when googled this definition comes up:  Intentional Community is an inclusive term for ecovillages, cohousing communities, residential land trusts, communes, student co-ops, urban housing cooperatives, intentional living, alternative communities, cooperative living, and other projects where people strive together with a common vision.

Some communities are a little more on the extreme side of things. But there are some that are just a group of people wanting to purposefully live their lives together.  Our friends' community was founded by David Janzen and inspired by a verse in Acts:  " All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave according to what each one needed." - Acts 2:44-45   In theory, I can hardly see fault in that.  But practically speaking, I know with that lifestyle will come unique challenges.  Natural Life Magazine shares some of the pros and cons of raising children in intentional communities.  But says ultimately: Despite the potential difficulties and the undoubted challenges, being a child or a parent in community brings many rewards, and it is an option well worth considering. And The Offbeat Home shares the benefits and challenges of communal living on their blog.  She ends her post with: In closing let me say that I love this lifestyle and hope to live in community until old age. I don't understand those 90 year olds who want to live alone in their own house until they die. I love living around children and young adults, it keeps me flexible and up to date, it gives me a place to share my stories, my skills, my time and my gifts. It makes me smile to hear the children laughing uproariously as they jump on the trampoline. Life is good!

I certainly am not sharing to say anything either way - for or against intentional communities.  I think that living that kind of lifestyle is a matter for each to decide for them-self.   However, for me personally, I would rather have my focus be on intentional relationships and less on the logistics of actual cohabitation.  I don't like the idea of the politics involved with having shared living space or shared money.  I know a lot of people who make poor financial decisions and it is easy for me to detach from that because its none of my business.  But if we were all using the same piggy bank then I would think it was my business how they spent "our" money and I don't want to be in that position.

True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island… to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing.

This year I am working on building relationships and that takes a lot of work and I have to be intentional about making playdates and girls night outs,  making phone calls and mailing birthday cards, and taking meals or babysitting to make that happen.  

Fun Cheap or Free is doing a series called Focused in 2014 and made this February - Focus on Relationships Calendar for their readers.  They have suggested activities and things for you to do to build relationships all month long.  I love this!  There are some really helpful suggestions.  Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project shared 7 tips for making new friends.  If you think about it there a few key things that should be used to build and strengthen relationships:

be kind - go out of your way to genuinely compliment people and be encouraging.

quality time - be purposeful about planning get togethers with friends and family.  I know we're all busy, but we need to prioritize and make time to spend with those people who are important to us.

communication - find the time to call or email loved ones that don't live close by.  And don't forget that communication is just as much (if not more) about listening as it is talking.

give & take - bring a meal or babysit for someone you know could use the help AND don't be afraid to let people help you in return.

expect ups & downs - its ok to have times when you're disappointed or even angry at one another, we're all human, we will make mistakes.  Forgive and move on.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Friday, February 21, 2014

BFF Haircut Before and After

This is my dear friend, Jess.  She's the BEST!  ;-)  Last fall she felt like she needed a change and got a fun new 'do.  I thought I should share it with you all. 

The standard ponytail...  meh...  no offense Jess, but it wasn't doing you any favors
Not bad, but Jess doesn't "style" her hair, so she needed a cut with a little more shape to it.
Wowsah!  How cute is she?  What a difference a haircut makes!
She was feeling sassy after we left the salon.  I love it when she feels pretty!  We should all feel that good about ourselves all the time!  ;-)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Happy Birthday to ME!

Another year older...  I was trying to think of what I wanted to blog on my birthday.  And I thought about those cute little Questionnaires us moms will sometimes pull out on our kids birthdays and ask them about all their favorite things and such.  So, I am going to do that. 

1. What is your favorite color? blue, turquoise

2. What is your favorite toy? the Kindle Fire, don't know, I don't really play with many toys.

3. What is your favorite fruit? strawberries... covered in whip cream on top of pancakes, or shortcake.

4. What is your favorite tv show? Parenthood - if I didn't love my family dearly I would totally want to be a Braverman!  One of just a few shows that my hubby and I actually get into together.  Its on Netflix, so if you haven't checked it out yet you can totally binge watch and catch up on the past couple of seasons.  ;-)

5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? whatever I eat off my kids' plates.

6. What is your favorite outfit? t-shirt, jeans and a cute scarf - LOVE scarves!

7. What is your favorite game? Things in a Box

8. What is your favorite snack? anything salty and/or chocolatey

9. What is your favorite animal? A cat, though if we ever get a yard we've talked about getting a therapy dog for the kids... but probably won't be happening anytime soon.

10. What is your favorite song? currently, Let It Go from Frozen 

11. What is your favorite book?  its always hard for me to pick a fave book - might have to go with Little Women, though I haven't read it in years, its always been one I loved!

12. Who is your best friend? as much as I dislike labels, I would have to say Jess is my best friend - she is always there for me and my family, she pretty much is family now.   But I am blessed to have a lot of very special friends that I am so grateful for.  You know who you are.  ;-)

13. What is your favorite special treat? I used to favor ice cream but my teeth have been more sensitive to cold so I've grown to appreciate cookies more lately. 

14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? go to the beach

15. What is your favorite drink? Water... and cherry coke... and amaretto sours

16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas

17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? my husband

18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?  chile and eggs with my mom's homemade tortillas... oh yum!

19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? a meal that I don't have to cook, probably Mexican... or pizza... or Thai...  can you tell I answered these questions when I was hungry?

20. What do you want to be when you grow up?  I am doing exactly what I wanted when I was little.  I am a wife and mom.  The best jobs ever.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

DIY Winter Wonderland Bridal Shower

As soon as my dear friend announced she was getting married I knew I wanted to throw her bridal shower.  She is such a sweet girl... I mean, woman!  What a blessing it was to be able to show her love and support through the shower.

Originally she was going to have a summer wedding and a spring bridal shower.  I was going to use the sunflower mason jar decorations from my sisters' receptions and do a tea party theme.  But when the wedding was moved up to March and the shower was bumped to February I knew we had to do a Winter Wonderland theme!
me and my partner in crime...  ;-)

I scoured Pinterest pinning all sorts of ideas and shopped the Christmas clearance sales for wintery items to use for the shower.  I was even able to modify some of the wood candle holder's from my sister's reception to fit our wintery look.  We used a lot of natural elements in the decorations.  I got cinnamon scented pine cones for the centerpieces that just filled the room with their lovely scent!

I enlisted the help of some of our church's awesome cooks for the menu which included these tasty treats:

fruit salad
pinwheels - we got ours premade at GFS but you can make your own
chicken fiesta dip - its a church recipe kind of like this dish only done in the crock pot
flaky wafer sandwichcookies!! my faves!
veggie tray
Nutella brownies - I mean, you had me at Nutella! Love that stuff!!
two kinds of tasty cake balls!  my girl Lehi makes the best cake pops eh-va!
punch - this is the best party punch!
hot chocolate bar (toppings, marshmallows, etc)

We were able to reuse some of the wood candle holders that my dad made for my sister's reception last year.  We repurposed them to fit the winter wonderland theme and they worked for the centerpieces perfectly.
We wanted some unique elements to the shower.  So we did a mini-photobooth (with wrapping paper backdrop) so Rachael could have pix with all the guests.
And we had the ladies write messages and doodles on Christmas ornaments for the bride and groom to use on the tree their first Christmas together.  Another Pinterest find!

What a blessing it was to be a part of this shower.  And how rewarding to see all our ideas finally come together in perfect harmony!  ;-)  So proud of all the work from our team!  I appreciate their help SO much!!  And I know Rach does too!

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart," from Psalm 37:4

Monday, February 10, 2014

Frugal Mom Fashion

My parents raised me to be on the modest side... and also on the frugal side.  And with today's fashion trends its not always easy to be either of those.  I love that I can find great ideas on Pinterest that help me mix and match my wardrobe in creative ways to make the most of what I have and look cute doing it!! I have tons of great pins on My Personal Style Pinterest Board and I thought I would share a few of my faves with you.

easy & creative restyling ideas to save on fashion

Capsule Wardrobes - such a great way to simplify your wardrobe

30 outfits in 30 days - I love seeing how other people mix and match their fave clothing items!

Tips for styling a basic white tee - great ideas from this gal!

Saturday, February 08, 2014

DIY Big Kid Onesie

One of the challenges we've faced with Joe is keeping him from getting into his diaper (and creating chaos with his feces) when he is dirty - especially at nap-time before we get him up.  We have tried a series of things before finding one that seems to be successful.  Here is the progression of our 

Attempt one: sheet corner fasteners
We used two different kinds of sheet corner fasteners to clip his shirt to stay tucked in.  It worked briefly but was too stretchy and frankly didn't hold strong enough.  Eventually Joe would fiddle with it long enough that it would either come unfastened or he would get around it and still make a mess with his poop.

Attempt two:  cloth diaper snaps
Next I attempted to create a crotch strap of sorts using cloth diaper snaps.  The trouble I had was finding a material that was strong enough to do the job but thin enough for the snaps to fit on.  And I wasn't get the hang of the snap thing anyway.  I kept getting them on there kind of wonky and they didn't have a real good hold if they weren't on just right.

Attempt three: onesie conversion

Inspired by this "onesie extender tutorial" post titled "Seriously, Keep that Diaper On", I cut the crotch strap off of some onesies and sewed them onto a few under shirts.  This has been our best solution yet.  They are wider than previous attempts and its easier for me because the snaps are already in place and I don't have to fiddle with a clamp trying to attach the snaps to the fabric myself. 
Joe seems to tolerate it very well.  The only thing we've come up against is that he will sometimes hop out of his pants during nap-time and then have access to the diaper via the side.  So we currently will snap the "onesie" over the top of his pants which keep the pants in place and his hands out of trouble.

So far this is working for us.  I would love to hear of ideas other special needs families have used.  Any suggestions?  ;-)

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Monuments Men Movie Giveaway!!

I'm excited about this giveaway!  Apparently I'm in WWII mode because I just finished The Book Thief (finally!), recently saw the Anne Frank section of the Power of Children exhibit at the children's museum with Nate and now this...  anyway... here is a bit about the movie:

Cowriter and director George Clooney adapts author Robert M. Edsel's book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History to tell the incredible true story of the seven art historians and museum curators who went behind enemy lines during World War II on a mission to recover some of the world's greatest works of art. As the Third Reich begins to topple, the German army receives explicit orders to destroy every work of art in their possession. Determined to prevent 1000 years of culture from going up in flames, American president Franklin D. Roosevelt assembles an unlikely task force comprised entirely of art experts to enter Germany, recover the works of art, and ensure they are returned to their rightful owners. With little knowledge of modern weapons or warfare tactics, the ragtag squadron successfully makes their way into enemy territory before realizing they've got their work cut out for them. Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, and Jean Dujardin star.

What an incredible cast!  I'm not gonna lie, I'm a little excited to see Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville from Downton Abbey) in something else.  I am eager to see how this all star cast works together.  My husband and I don't always agree on movies but I think this is one that we'll both enjoy!  The Monuments Men comes to theaters February 7th!!

Check out the Rafflecopter below to see how you can enter to win!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Breaking Habits

This year I am focusing on being intentional in my life and part of that includes working hard to break some old habits and creating new healthier ones.  Crystal at MoneySavingMom's new book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode is inspiring to make changes to help me break out of the huge rut I'm in.  I have gotten to where its typical for me to stay up too late, sleep too late and then have a frantic morning scrambling to get my two special needs kids out the door for school and then I'm exhausted from that and barely have the energy to homeschool Nate and everything else that my day holds... that is not how I want to start every day!

I know need to take things one at a time and in baby steps, otherwise I'll get overwhelmed and give up.  So, I am choosing to change one habit a week.  Last week I worked on getting up when my alarm went off instead of hitting the snooze a couple of times. I was pretty proud of myself.  The only day I didn't do it was a 2hr delay.  ;-)  But of course, skipping the snooze button is only the beginning.

Here are some habits I'll be working on over the next few weeks:

limiting my computer time - starting with not getting on facebook until after the kids get on the bus and working up to not getting on the computer at all until after Nate's school is done

starting my day with spending time in the Word - I can hardly remember the last time I was consistently in God's word.  Sad to say. 

going to bed earlier - this one is a real challenge because my hubby is a night owl

reading more instead of watching tv - when I get a little chunk of time to myself I often default to Netflix and just veg out on mindless shows, leaving stacks of books that I genuinely do want to read untouched.

meal planning from the pantry - I often plan meals with little regard to what we already have on hand, and I want to use it before we lose it!  ;-)

kicking my Goodwill habit - I am a sucker for a good deal and I am ashamed to say that I have been guilty of buying things that we don't need just because it was so cheap.  Its contributed greatly to the amount of clutter we've accumulated and its a waste of money.  I will still shop at Goodwill but I am going to be limiting my purchases to things that we actually, currently NEED. 

I'm sure I'll be coming up with more things to work on but these alone will keep me busy for awhile!  I'm joining in the linky at MoneySavingMom.  Do you have any goals you're working on or habits you're breaking/making right now?