There's a sweet group of young ladies at our church who are very generous to our kids. After church it's not unusual to see two of them reading stories to the younger girls, carrying Koen around or giving piggy back rides. Consequently our girls admire them very much and have been begging me for about a year to let them plan a tea party for the big girls from church. I promised them that in the new year we would give it a go and we decided on a book character theme.
I let each of my girls choose a decoration to make and I really tried to let them make it mostly on their own without fixing it after they were done (it was painful).
I wish I could post pictures of 6 year old because she made an absolutely hilarious Miss Viola Swamp. Celene and Shelby each chose to come as characters from Kate Seredy books which are set in pre-World War I era Hungary. Ginetta and 4 year old came as Fancy Nancy and her best friend Brie. The young ladies who came were all good sports and dressed up as well. But unfortunately I forgot to ask permission to post their pictures! There were some very creative costumes for sure.
These dirndl dresses belonged to Natalie and me when we were younger. The funny thing is that we wore them for real and not for costumes. Actually I told Jeff it really was a great plan. I wore prairie dresses until I was about 20 years old which meant that no guy gave me the time of day. Then Jeff came onto the scene and I switched to normal clothes. Definitely a plan that should be repeated with our daughters. Now, now some of you better get off your high horse. I'm just kidding. Or not.
Filed just behind this picture of us in our dirndls was a one of a book character party I went to when I was a teenager. My love of dress up parties goes way back! We had an amazing group of friends that knew how to have fun. When I think back to these times I remember lots of laughter!
And now for the first rabbit trail...
I have always love, loved the baby stage. But eight years old is definitely in the running as a new favorite. Watching God work in Celene's heart is an incredible experience. The baby stage is adorable but the fruit we're starting to see in Celene is eternal and that's even more priceless than little baby smiles. Our little guy is however growing up way too quickly for my liking. He started crawling and got is first tooth last week. So the loud sound you hear from our neck of the woods is me weeping.
The next one..
Koen was noisy in church last week so I was standing in the back of the sanctuary trying to get him to go to sleep. My mind wandered over the room as I thought of all the people that I wish we would have over to our house. At that moment the Holy Spirit convicted my heart with a gently nudge that if I would lower my standards we could have people over more often. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that my first thought was "but people will think I don't know how to cook". So....it's better to act like you have it all together and never have anyone over? Well, not exactly. So what exactly? If you're invited over for dinner and I serve you frozen pizza you'll know it's because God is teaching me to value what's really important.
Lastly, judging by pictures this is one crazy family. Oh, I guess those of you who know us don't need pictures to prove that ;)
The girls love to play hair dresser. Celene's style of choice seems to be Dr. Suess characters.
There's nothing like company coming to spur on a house project! We were having the extended family over on Sunday and I decided it would be my goal for getting the gallery wall done. I had a lot of fun with my projects in spite of the fact that only about 1/3 of them turned out the way I initially envisioned. At one point I wondered how many layers of paint a canvas could hold before it just fell off the wall from the weight. Here's a little tour of what I used and the meaning behind some of the pieces.
For a few years we've joked that we're a banana split family. Different colors and flavors combined to make one yummy treat.
Supplies: garage sale frame that I painted yellow
the banana split pattern was traced off a picture online and then made with paper scraps
mounted on a tacky Christmas sign from the JoAnn clearance section
Of course I had to include a vehicle on a wall about our family. Anyone know what make and year this car is? We don't either.
Supplies: I tried about 50 different things for this since free is a big factor in my decorating style. I finally found a free clip art image and then colored it blue in photoshop where I also divided it into thirds. It's printed on regular paper and mounted on some thin cardboard I confiscated from the playroom ( I have no idea why they had cardboard in there?).
Sort of self explanatory since there are nine people in our family. Yes, I do realize that if we ever have more kids I'll have to change it. No, that's not an announcement.
Supplies: The cardboard from the playroom served me well. I just drew the number on free hand and painted it, then glued on white circles I had punched.
I saw a variation of this quote a few months ago and knew I wanted to include it somewhere. "We can do hard things because God gives us strength." I wanted a reminder that God gives us what we need in the little, everyday kind of hard things. Things like not being rude when your sister provokes you, math, being cheerful even when I've been up with sick kids in the night.
The quote "we need more Jesus and less drama" was definitely in the running ;)
Supplies: I painted canvas and then wrote the quote with a Sharpie paint pen
I didn't know chalkboard fabric existed but it does indeed!
Supplies: a canvas covered with chalkboard fabric
yarn and a pom-pom maker
I had way, way too much fun with our family portrait! I saw this idea on etsy and decided to give it a try. All those little pieces of fabric I've saved over the years were finally put to use.
Supplies: fabric scraps
wonder under to adhere everything
mounted on another cheesy Christmas sign from JoAnn's.
A big thank you to my patient children and my husband who happily served me by hanging everything since finding studs in the wall is not one of my skills.
Now it's time to head to the other side of the living room and work on the fireplace mantle....
When you're writing about yourself it's so easy to only include the nice things and I never want to give the impression that we have it all together. Yes, I go through the day with a soft and patient voice encouraging my children who always obey the first time. Seriously! On the other hand I'm often frustrated by the attitude that acts like we're all a mess and there's nothing we can do about it. We're sinners in the process of sanctification! We have times where a child pitches a fit because their shirt itches them the wrong way. But on the other hand we have times where a child comes up and tells me I'm the most perfect mom they could ever want. The good and the bad just like everyone else. So that's a long way of saying that when I write about the things that are working for us it's not because I think my system is so amazing. But it just might trigger an idea that could work for your family.
After that nice long build up.....
I've had this vague awareness for quite awhile (OK my whole married life) that I should be more systematic when it comes to cleaning. Now that the girls are bigger we are finally settling into a routine. Disclaimer: my mom is a big help when it comes to cleaning so it's not like I'm doing it alone.
1. It works for us to do all the cleaning on one day, usually Friday or Saturday when there's little or no school work to do.
2. Little people can be easily entertained while you clean if you just give them a rag too! We found Elise crying in our storage room last Friday. Fortunately Celene has the gift of toddler interpretation and knew she was upset because I didn't give her a cleaning cloth like the big girls.
3. I usually set my pandora station to Celtic Fiddle Festival. It gives us some rousing good "get your work done" kind of music.
4. I write down all the chores that need to be done on a paper. Cut it into strips and put them in a bowl. Everyone chooses a chore and then comes back for another when they're done.
5. Spray bottles make for happy little cleaners. We use non toxic cleaners that are safe for them use. Of course when you're six there is the very real temptation to spray everything within an inch of it's life. But once that was overcome it's worked nicely.
6. Define expectations! Although others would disagree, my goal right now is not for a job that's thorough. I want them to be learning to work cheerfully with a sense of teamwork as a family. So I'm not going to be super picky. If a year from now there's no improvement in how the jobs are done I'll reevaluate.
After Koen was born I wanted to make calendars for our moms. It was mostly a lot of fun, there were only a few moments where I felt slightly crazy.
It's a long story but my mom's calendar was an Elvis song themed calendar. We can't help but tease her about her youthful infatuation with Elvis :)
The title of the song for this one was Early Morning Rain. So hard to believe that 2 1/2 years ago there were only 3 grandkids! Getting 10 kids in a picture was definitely...exciting?!
Jessica was the creative genius behind Cotton Candy Land
These two were so cute as Old MacDonald
I tried to do a picture that went with the time of year for Jeff's mom but a few months had me stumped like May and March.
I have a great idea for this year. Start earlier :)
As much as I love the time of year from Thanksgiving to Christmas I'm ready to pack things up by the new year and get back to our normal routine. I usually do a decorating project in January and though I'm making slow progress with this one it is getting done.
I decided last summer to work on our living room which was in need of a makeover. The pictures were way overdue for an update since I was several kids behind and the whole look was a bit somber for a house that's full of small children. Time for something colorful and fun!
Jeff just shakes his head at this project. I had the wall designed and new pictures all framed and ready to go but after I hung them up it didn't look right. So I've been staring at this blank wall for hours as I nurse Koen.
Slowly, slowly the new plan has taken shape and I'm having fun pulling together things that represent our family. I'll update when it's done and I'm hoping it's sometime before next January. Ha!
Just because I can't resist here's Koen at four months. I highly recommend having a few small girls jump up and down behind your head when you take pictures of babies. It made him look at the camera every time.