Barbie Inspired Birthday Party

BarbiepartyIt is birthday party time around here. Our oldest and youngest daughters’ birthdays are only 2 days apart so each April we have two weekends in a row of birthday parties. This year Ellasyn wanted a Barbie party. I wasn’t surprised as Barbies are one of her very favorite toys right now. It was pretty easy to come up with colors, decorations, and girly ideas for this party. Because of all the girlyness involved we opted for her to not invite her friends that are boys this time.

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I ordered the invitations and printables here. I loved the vintage Barbie silhouette look. So classy!

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Barbiecake

I got the wonderful cake and cookies from my sweet friend, Alyse with B.E. Sweet Treats. She has been my go to baker for several years and is just the best! Ellasyn really wanted the Barbie to appear to be “popping” out of the cake, so Alyse made the cake plain on top and I wrapped a Barbie’s legs in cling wrap and stuck her in. I was so nervous I was going to ruin the cake, but it worked just fine. Then I stuck in some various picks from Hobby Lobby to add a little more fun and flare. She loved it and that was the most important thing!

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Barbiepinata

We started the party with the Barbie photo props which were a huge hit. Then we moved on to the piñata. Next, we made a fun bead name bracelet craft. The girls did great but it was too chaotic for picture taking! Cake was consumed and presents were opened. The party ended with some Barbie play time. Throwing a bunch of Barbies on the floor for a group of young girls is always a fun time and easy entertainment.

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Ellasyn wore a personalized shirt with an iron on appliqué, a sparkly tule skirt, and a hot pink feather boa. My girls have always wanted to dress to the theme of their party! The party went great and was a lot of fun. It was neat to see how the girls all interacted with each other and got along so well. I love seeing Ellasyn forming such sweet friendships. Happy Birthday Sweet Ellasyn!

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Where does your hope lie?

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A few weeks ago we had a storm come through with high winds.  It knocked a really big limb off our Bradford pear tree.  Actually the story starts last year when a different storm knocked a third of the tree down.  We were hoping to still save it, but after the last storm, it’s a gonner.

I found myself getting teary over losing this tree. First, I couldn’t admit that it was lost.  And when I finally came to grips with that, I was very upset.  Why was I getting so emotional over a simple tree?  Then I realized something.  That tree has been a constant for us since we moved to town 9 years ago.  It was there when we moved in.

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It was there when the girls were little.

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And it’s been here as they have grown.

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I watched it grow beautiful white blossoms every spring and lose precious orangish, red leaves every fall.  It feels like it has always been there.  Our kids grew.  We got older.  Even the house changed as we landscaped and painted it.  That tree was the one thing that stayed steady.  Never changing.  That’s why it was so hard for me to let go of it.  But then God gently reminded me that even though that tree was always there it didn’t provide any of the truly important things.  The comfort and joy that I feel at our house doesn’t come from that tree.  It doesn’t even come from the house.  It comes from my family and the love that we share.

You see.  We used to move every three years or so, so I was constantly reminded that the house, all the physical things, aren’t what makes us a family.  It’s our love for each other.  But it’s been a while and I was starting to put my trust in other things.  Like that tree.

We do that sometimes too. Lean on people or things instead of Christ. We use them as our rock and our hope in hard times when God is silently trying to draw us in to him.  And sometimes it takes a giant storm to remind us that Jesus Christ is our one and only rock.  The one true hope.

So as I say goodbye to our precious Bradford pear I will remember all those precious times but I will also know that our family will still flourish.  We still have our love for each other and above all the love of our Heavenly Father.

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Just a…Stay at Home Mom

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I never thought I would be a stay at home mom (SAHM). My mom always worked, so I assumed I would too. She was/is a teacher though so I was spoiled with having school breaks and summers off with her. When I was about 34 weeks pregnant with Ellasyn, our first, we decided that I was going to stay at home with her. I don’t really know how it all happened. I just remember feeling this overwhelming calling to it as I neared the end of my pregnancy. We had just moved to town only a couple of months before so I was still getting to know people. I had a sweet friend, who was also the teacher of the recent Sunday School we had just joined, that went out of her way to ensure that I got out of the house and connected. She will never know just how much that meant. Because of her I became involved in MOPS, a women’s Bible study, and lots of playdates with other moms. For the first time in my entire life I felt like I was right where God wanted me to be and had finally found the “job” He had been leading me to all along. Now, 2 more kids later, I still feel the same. Don’t get me wrong, it is not all dreamy and stress free, as so many people seem to think. There are days that are tough. Days when I feel like a completely failure by 9am! Days when I doubt my every parenting move. Days when I feel so overwhelmed with the tasks of parenting that I feel paralyzed. However, those days are the minority. Everyday has its challenges and no day is perfect, but there is good in everyday. Being with my children all day everyday is the most rewarding Kingdom work I will ever do. Seeing their firsts as babies to learning their personalities as toddlers to hearing their thoughts as grade schoolers. There is truly nothing better. I love getting to be the person that is right there for it all and there is no place I would rather be.

There seems to be several worldly views about SAHMs. Some think our job is mindless and lazy. That all we do is sit around and socialize without doing any real work. The truth is, we do socialize some, we have to or we might go crazy! Every job has some socialization to it. However, sitting around not doing any real work, though sounds enticing, is not a luxury we have. The work we do isn’t always seen or glamorous, but I assure you, it is there. It would be impossible to be at home with small children whining and needing you and you doing nothing all day for them. Some think we do it because we can’t do anything else (anything more “professional”). That we have no education or training to be able to hold down a “real” job. The reality is that many SAHM quit their “real” jobs to stay at home and could go back into the workforce if they wanted, but just choose not to. Others think of it as old fashioned and degrading to women to be stuck in the home setting just raising the kids. As women, we are stuck in the home setting and raising kids whether we stay at home or not, the only difference is that working moms have to figure out how to still do it while working outside the home. I don’t let these views bother me because I am confident and secure in where I am and what we have chosen is best for our family. On the flip side though, I don’t look down upon or degrade women who don’t have the choice to stay at home or just don’t want to. Like any job, it isn’t for everyone.

Recently, I have had some talks/texts with a good friend about the feelings of God calling us to more. Maybe Him leading us to do something BIG for Him. That same friend sent me this blog post and I realized that what I am doing is BIG. Maybe what He is calling me to is to rejuvenate myself as a mother and give it all I’ve got. Maybe I have become too complacent and been in survival mode and now I need to wake up and examine my role again. The truth is being a SAHM has its challenges just like everything else, but it isn’t a job that I am willing to take lightly. It isn’t a punch the timecard, earn a paycheck kind of job. There is no timecard and there is no paycheck! It is the job, honor, and privilege of being a mom and raising my kids. This is more than enough to have on my plate right now! Whether you are a SAHM or a working mom, I challenge you to take your Motherhood job serious and give it your very best. God specifically gave us our children because we are just the right Mom for them, let us not let Him down. SAHM or working mom, the job is ours. Before we know it, our little ones will be raised and gone and you want your finished work to be a masterpiece that you and God can be proud of.

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Family Dogs

Dogs

As a young kid, my family always had a dog. Then we moved to the country but lived right off the highway and we had several dogs get run over. Eventually we couldn’t handle the sadness anymore so we quit getting new dogs. So I sort of grew up with dogs and sort of not. Jason, on the other hand, always had dogs. We got our first dog together when we were engaged. We researched and decided we wanted a Boxer. I even bought and read “Boxers for Dummies” to be sure it was the right breed for us. I still remember the day we went to meet the breeder to get Gracie. There was a crate full of adorable little puppies, but I instantly picked her out and knew she was the one. Jason looked around at some others, but I wouldn’t put her down. She lived with Jason and his roommates as a puppy so Jason got stuck with a lot of the not so fun puppy stages. By the time we got married, and we all lived together, she was potty trained and sleeping through the night. The only issue was her freaking out when left alone. Eventually we decided to get another Boxer to keep her company while we were away at work and class. Along came Max. We got him from a different breeder but assumed he would be comparable size to Gracie other than maybe a little bigger since he was a male. We were wrong. Max is actually about 30-35lbs. bigger than Gracie! These two dogs were definitely our children before we had children. We spoiled them and they spoiled us! They have always been great dogs. Aside from Max getting his eye gouged by a cat (he had stitches for a couple  of weeks but was fine), they haven’t had any major health issues either.

We still love on them and care for them, but they have naturally taken a back seat to our children (as they should). However, they are still and always will be so special to us. They have been with us since the beginning and through it all. They have been amazing with our girls and have put up with a lot of “riding” and “snuggling” over the years. Our girls love them! There is something special about the bond between kids and their pets. From the moment we brought Ellasyn home from the hospital they were very interested in her. As we brought each of the other girls home, they were equally in love with them.GracieandEllasyn

Gracie and Max have also been troopers through a lot of moving and new homes over the years. No matter what, they have rolled with it all. As they age, I know there will come a day that we have to say goodbye and the thought of that hurts. I am so used to having them around that is is hard to imagine a day when they aren’t. I don’t want to. Even though I don’t spoil them to the extent that I used to, they are still a part of our family in my heart. I hate thinking about the hurt my children will feel too. So is a family dog worth the hassle and the inevitable hurt of loosing them? I still say yes. Dogs are no doubt a lot of work and can be a pain at times, but the companionship and unconditional love they provide is worth it all! My house is definitely messier with dogs around and vacations are trickier as we have to find someone to care for them, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

With that said, dogs are definitely not for everyone. It is a serious decision that should not be taken lightly. A puppy is a lot of work. They wake up at all hours of the night, whine and cry, chew on things, and have to be potty trained. Once that stage is over, there is still the ongoing vet check ups, shedding in your house (if they are ever inside dogs), daily feeding and watering, and having to arrange for care when you go out of town. Each person and family is different and the decision is personal. I assume we will probably always have at least one dog of some sort, but for now, I just wish these two could live forever. They are very loved!

Do you have a family dog? If so, what breed?

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Knitting {Self Taught}

I taught myself to knit.  What? Gasp! No way!  Okay.  That was just all my friends getting their shock out.  Now we can move on.

Knitting

I taught myself to knit and then I realized why everyone always says they will teach you to knit but then they never do.  It is something you have to see over and over again and learn at your own pace, so it would be very hard for someone to teach.  I really think youtube is the perfect way to learn.  You can watch the video and then watch it again and then pause it every time you need to.  And you can do it over and over again without feeling like a completely nusance.

Here are the videos that I used to learn.

This video teaches the basic stitches.

This one did a good job of showing how to increase and decrease stitches.

Here is a written tutorial with pictures.  It made it easier for me to understand when I read it and saw the still pictures.

All I have really knitted is a heart.  Well a heart and a “peep.”  The peep turned out so pitiful I can’t even post a picture.  Here is my heart.

I’m slowly getting better.  Here are the things I learned.

1.  Knitting is hard!

2.  Knitting takes LOTS and LOTS of time.

3.  Knitting for too long makes your hands hurt.

4.  You must be patient!

Then I was searching Pinterest for patterns and I realized that what I really wanted to do was crochet.  Ugh!  That will have to wait for another time.  At least I have a new skill to practice.  In my free time.  Hahahaha!  (That’s my husband laughing because I have no free time.)

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