Monthly Archives: March 2014

A Frozen Birthday

My oldest daughter, Emma, just turned 11.  Eleven!!  I am still wrapping my brain around that.  I just can’t believe how fast 11 years has flown by.  Makes me want to grab onto each day a little tighter and not waste a single moment.  Before I know it she will be all grown up and out in this crazy world living out her own amazing story.  Sigh… It’s enough to overwhelm this mama’s heart with all sorts of emotions as I think about how fast my baby is growing up.

In between all those crazy emotions last week, I somehow managed to plan a fun party to celebrate her special day.  Emma picked the party theme: Frozen!  Big surprise there…it’s only like the newest favorite movie around here.  And we’ve only listened to the soundtrack, oh, probably at least a hundred times…the girls have all the lyrics memorized. (Ok, so maybe Mark and I have them memorized too 😉 ).

I was actually excited when she picked this theme, because there are so many great ideas out there right now, and I knew that I could pull it off without it costing a lot of money.  Because Emma is getting older, I wanted to give the party a more grown-up girl feel (less “character” heavy, and more focused on just the snowy/wintery look and feel).  And even though it ended up raining all day long on party day, I think we pulled it all together and it ended up being a fun (albeit very loud 😉 ) night with a house full of pre-teens.

I love planning parties for my girls – it’s one of my favorite things.  I enjoy making homemade decorations and adding extra details to make the celebration extra special.  I think it might be some kind of disease or something, but I just can’t help it…when I’m planning a party, I tend to get a little carried away in the details.  But it is so much fun to me.

I put quite a bit of time into gathering ideas and creating graphics so that I could create the look that I had envisioned.  And I wanted to share these ideas and graphics here, in case any of you moms out there could use a little help in pulling together a party like this.  But there are TONS of ideas out there…there are so many people who have done this theme way better than me.  So I encourage you to search Pinterest or Google, and put together your favorite ideas to create your own “perfect” party.  But maybe some of these ideas will help you along the way:

Frozen Party Tablescape

One great idea when planning a party is to consider focusing your decorations into one main area. (This helps keep decorating costs low, and saves time when setting up.)  I decided to focus my decorating attention on the food table area.  I put together this table very inexpensively.  Most of my supplies were things like plastic tablecloths, tissue paper, cotton balls, streamers, and coffee filters (cheap, cheap supplies!)  Here’s what I did:

  • For the backdrop, I taped up two (super cheap, $1 ea) white plastic tablecloths.  Then I cut strips up the length of each one, and then cut little slits all down each strip (the idea was to kinda give it the look of “icicles”…I don’t know if it really did that, but I do like the texture that it added to the backdrop).
  • Then, I cut white crepe paper streamers into long lengths and hung them in front of the tablecloths. (I used one roll of streamers, $1)
  • Then, I layered on a few strips of sparkly tulle. I got this at Hobby Lobby (it was actually wide tulle ribbon, it comes on a big roll), it was 50% off when I bought it so I only paid $2.50 per roll. (I used two rolls. But you could easily not use the tulle and just add some extra streamers and still get a very similar look for even less).

Frozen Birthday Banner

  • I designed and printed my own “Happy Birthday” banner and strung it up with some twine. (You can download the printable at the bottom of this post).  Then I added some tissue paper garland ($1.50 from Hobby Lobby), and some white beaded garland (from the wedding section in Hobby Lobby, it was 50% off).

Frozen Table_Birthday Sign

  • For the table, I just put a cheap white tablecloth on the table. Then I used cotton balls and leftover fake snow from Christmas to sprinkle on the cotton balls.  I also punched a few paper snowflakes out of cardstock and used it as confetti on the table. (I used a snowflake punch I already had, but you can get one at a craft store).

Frozen Party_snowflakes and lights

  • To finish off the whole look, I hung some large plastic snowflakes from the ceiling, and strung up some twinkle lights.  I also cut a bunch of snowflakes out of coffee filters and hung them from the ceiling as well.  In fact, I could have just done the coffee filter snowflakes and not worried about the plastic ones…but I already had them, so I used them.  But just a bunch of coffee filter snowflakes would do the trick (and talk about cheap! They are only like $1 a pack and you can make a TON of snowflakes from them!!).

Food is always a part of any party around here.  I went with fairly easy foods for this party, and just themed them out using fun “Frozen” names (I must admit, I found my inspiration for all of these foods after scouring Pinterest for ideas.  There are lots of ideas out there…these are just the ones we chose):

  • Sven’s Antlers – pretzel sticks

Frozen themed food - Sven's Antlers

  • Eternal Winter Mix – Muddy Buddy Chex Mix and marshmallows

Frozen themed food - Eternal Winter Mix

  • Olaf Noses – carrot sticks

Frozen themed food - Olaf Noses

  • Snowballs – white cheese balls

Frozen themed food - Snowballs

  • “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” – mini powdered donuts, orange M&Ms, and chocolate chips (kids made a “snowman” using these supplies)

Frozen themed food - Do You Want To Build A Snowman?

  • Beverages: Melted Ice (water) and Arendelle Punch (equal parts Blue Hawaiian Punch and Sprite)

Frozen themed beverages - "Melted Ice" and "Arendelle Punch"

  • The Cake – a simple white cake (colored in shades of blue) and homemade buttercream icing. I decorated it with white sprinkles and iced-on snowflakes.  The kids said it looked like a wedding cake, but that wasn’t really the intention.  I just wanted it to look pretty and white…a more “fancy” cake for my growing-up girl.

Frozen themed food - the cake

  • Our one big splurge was this: we rented a Sno-Cone machine!  And I’m SO glad we did! This was definitely the most favorite thing at the party…the kids LOVED it!!

Frozen themed food - Sno-Cone machine

We had originally planned for the party to be an “Outdoor Movie Night” party.  We were going to show the movie Frozen outside on a big screen in the backyard under the stars.  But then it rained. All day long.  So we had to quickly come up with a back-up plan.

Indoor movie under the twinkle light stars

We had the party at my parents’ house, and so we converted their den into a “winter wonderland” by hanging up a bunch of snowflakes and twinkle lights from the ceiling, and we watched the movie in there on the big TV. (By the way, I have the most AMAZING parents in the world.  They allowed us and almost 20 pre-teens to invade their home for this party…and they let me tape up lights and snowflakes all over their ceilings.  They are awesome.  Just awesome.)  It ended up looking pretty cool, even though it wasn’t the original plan.  The kids loved it, and Emma had a BLAST…so I’d say the party was a success.

When the kids all went home, we sent them with a little homemade party favor:

Frozen Party Favor

We made Rice Krispy Treats shaped into “snowballs”, and put them in a half-pint Mason jar.  Then we added two pretzel sticks and a chocolate “carrot” (found these at Target in the Easter candies, $1 for 10).  (So they basically had all the pieces of a “snowman”).  I added a label to the top of each jar and then tied on some white yarn to finish it off.  They are very simple favors, and ended up costing less than $2 each…but I really like the way they turned out.

Frozen Party Favor

 

So our Frozen party was a success, although it was probably the loudest party we’ve ever had, simply because of the natural volume level of 20 pre-teens. Oh my word.  They were sweet kids, and we really had a great time with them.  But I looked at Mark at one point and just shook my head…we really have no idea what we are doing as we enter this stage of parenting.  We have a pre-teen, an almost middle-schooler…and it’s a whole new world, that’s for sure.  My baby is no longer a baby…I see her growing and changing every day.  She is becoming the young lady that God made her to be…and I just want to be the kind of mom that will take her, in all her pre-teen hormonal emotional awkwardness, and love her and guide her through it all.  So I am just going to embrace this new stage and continue to trust God as He leads us all along this incredible journey.

Frozen Themed Party - Ideas & Printables

Are you planning a Frozen-themed party?  If you’d like to save yourself a little time and use some of the graphics that I created for your own party, please feel free to download the files below.  These are free for personal use (all I ask is that you please don’t take them and then sell them as your own…thanks!!).

By the way…these ideas would also work for a fun Family Movie Night!  So even if you don’t have a birthday coming up, you can still plan a night of Frozen fun with with the ones you love!

Frozen Party Printables – CLICK HERE

This file includes:

  • Frozen “Happy Birthday” Banner
  • “Do You Want To Build a Snowman” Sign
  • “Happy Birthday” Sign
  • Food Label Cards
  • Water Bottle Labels
  • Favor Labels

If you would like to personalize your own favor labels by adding a name to the bottom, here is the jpeg image (click on the image, then just right click and save it) – then just use Word or Photoshop or whatever program you have to add a text on top of the image.  If you are putting this label on half-pint jars, you will need to make sure you print the image at 2 inches wide.  (You can print it larger for larger lids)

Favor Jar Labels_blank

 

 

Have fun planning your own Frozen fun!!

On Peace and Trust

At the beginning of this year, I chose the word “peace” as my one word for the year. (You can read all about that in my first post here).  Since then I have been really trying to wrap my heart around what real peace really is.  I’ve been reading and thinking and praying and reflecting…trying to unwrap this one word that shows up almost 250 times in the Bible.

Peace.

This year has not exactly been full of peaceful situations.  Finding peace every day has not been easy.  But then again, I don’t think God could really teach me about peace without bringing in situations that are the opposite of peaceful.

On easy days, days full of roses and sunshine and smiles…in those slow, calm moments when no one is fighting and everyone is happy and the flowers are blooming and birds are singing…it’s easy to “feel” peaceful on those kind of days.  And I think that’s often the kind of situation that we envision when we think of the word “peace.”  Calm. Safe. Happy. Beautiful. Peaceful.

But the more I read, the more I pray, the more that God shows me in His Word…revealing to me slowly, because I am such a slow learner…what His peace is all about…the more I am coming to understand that peace has nothing to do with feelings, or with circumstances. Peace, real peace, is found in a Person – in Jesus.

Peace is not about how I feel…peace is about Who I trust.

Because, let’s be honest…those calm, safe, beautiful, happy, peaceful days that we dream of as “peaceful”…those are so very rare, aren’t they?  They do come along, those beautiful calm days, every now and then…and some seasons of life may have more days that feel peaceful than others.  But real peace is going to be most evident in the days that are everything but “peaceful.”

When my heart is broken…when the kids are fighting and screaming…when dinner burned and ruined…when friends turn away…when feelings are hurt…when they say those words that cut deep and hard…when sickness invades…when we have to say goodbye…

In those days…days of uncertainty and sadness and pain, days of change and loneliness and unrest…it’s in those days that we can experience peace that goes deeper than any feeling, because it goes right straight to the Person of Peace, the One in whom ALL peace is found – Jesus.

And we have that peace when we TRUST Him…through it ALL.  We have that peace when we keep our thoughts on Him, not on the waves of circumstances crashing all around us.  Because when we keep our eyes on Him – when we trust that He is in control and He is working it all together for our ultimate good – the Bible says that He will keep us in “perfect peace.”

Isaiah 26:3

I’m printing out this verse this week.  I’m going to write it on my heart, so that I don’t forget.  Because I do tend to forget.  I lean toward worry and anxiety, when I should be leaning into Jesus.  I tend to dwell on the problems and the pain instead of trusting in the One who holds it ALL in His hands.

And it’s really all an issue of trust.  Because trust brings peace.  If I really trust God…if I truly trust in Him, that He loves me and that He has a wonderful plan for me, and that He can work everything out for good…if I truly trust that, then my soul can always have peace.  If I keep my thoughts, my mind, my heart fixed on Him – on His goodness, on His grace, on His love – then I have no need to worry, no need to fear, no need to be anxious.

I can have peace, because I have Him…and He. Is. Peace.

 

{Would you like to print this verse too? Here are a couple of different sizes for you}

Isaiah 26:3 – 8×8 Square Print

Isaiah 26:3 – 4×4 Square Print

He is Risen {printable}

Easter is just one month away!

As much as I love Christmas, and the whole Christmas season, the past couple of years I have started to love Easter just as much.  I mean, I’ve always loved Easter.  I just haven’t always given it very much time and focus…certainly not nearly as much as Christmas.

But Easter is a BIG deal!  It’s the day we celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection.  That’s huge!  It’s the foundation of everything I believe as a Christian.  1 Corinthians 15:13-14 says: “For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.”

If it weren’t for Jesus’ resurrection, there would be no point to my faith…there would be no salvation…there would be no hope.

But He DID rise from the dead…He DID conquer death and sin…He rose again to make a way for me to know Him and to be forgiven…forever.

So the past couple of years, I’ve been slowing down a little more and trying to be a little more intentional with how we celebrate Easter.  As with Christmas, I want my girls to truly understand the reason that we celebrate this special day.  It’s so easy to just color some eggs, and fill up Easter baskets with candy, and get all dressed up and go to church, and have a big lunch, and then go on an Easter egg hunt…and in the middle of it all lose sight of what it’s all really about.  At least for me it’s easy to do that.  And I want to leave my girls with more than just baskets and eggs and candy…I want them to experience Easter in a way that touches them deep in their heart and helps them know Jesus more.

So I’m working on some things for our family – devotionals and activities and graphics – that will help us intentionally focus on the significance of who Jesus is and what He did for us when He died and rose again. (I’ll share more here when I get them done! 🙂 )

But for now, I’m putting up this verse.  It’s a verse you hear a lot around Easter: “He is not here, He is risen, just as He said” (Matthew 28:6).  Because we hear this verse a lot, the words may seem a bit common, or ordinary – but there is nothing ordinary about what this verse is saying – there is so much power, so much significance in these words.  He is risen…He did the impossible…He did what no one else can do…He proved once and for all He was who He said He was…He. Is. Risen.  And He did it just as He said.  He said He would do it.  He told them what was going to happen. And He kept His word.  He changed the course of history…He made a way where there was no way…He broke the curse of sin and death…Just. As. He. Said.

I love this verse.

So I made a little graphic of this amazing verse.  I’ve printed mine out and will use to around our little home as I decorate for Easter.  Feel free to download it and print out your own too!

I used an app called INKredible that let me turn my handwriting into a graphic, and then paired it with one of my favorite fonts…I love how it turned out 🙂

Enjoy!!!  And be looking for more Easter printables and family ideas coming soon!

To Download the 5×7, CLICK HERE or click on the image below:

He Is Risen_5x7

To Download the 8×10, CLICK HERE or on the image below:

He Is Risen_8x10

 

There’s Wonderful Joy Ahead {a printable}

There's wonderful joy ahead ~ 1 Peter 1:6

Often when I’m reading my Bible I come across a verse that I’ve read many times before, but for some reason it stands out, shouts out at me, resonates deep within me like I’m reading it for the first time.  It’s amazing to me how I can read the same passage over and over again, and yet still see something new, something I didn’t quite notice before.

This was that verse for me today.

1 Peter 1:6 ~ “So be truly glad.  There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.” (NLT)

We can be truly glad.  Truly…not some false happiness based on our circumstances…but really, truly glad.  We can have real joy, no matter what we are going through, no matter what we are facing.  Because we have a promise.  These trials, though they may be many, will only last for a little while.  And after that?….there is wonderful joy ahead!

So no matter what is happening right now…no matter how hopeless or desperate your trials may seem…there is wonderful joy ahead.  God is still writing His story through your life…He’s still working…He’s still there.  And because we know that this is not the end, we can be truly glad.

Our happiness is not based on the severity of our problems,
but on the security of God’s promises.

There is wonderful joy ahead.

Maybe you are like me and could use a little reminder of this promise?  I made a little printable to hang up on my wall so I can carve these words into my ever-so-forgetful heart…and I’d love to share it with you!

Click HERE or on the image below to download the PDF printable.

Wonderful Joy Ahead_5x7

How Does the Garden Grow…

Spring is starting to break through here in central Georgia…or at least it’s trying to.

My backyard is turning into a giant purple field.  I may not have any grass, but at least the weeds are pretty!  We even have some of our seedlings growing in little pots or egg cartons on every windowsill in the house.  Our humble little garden is all planned out and I’m excited to see how it will grow this year.

I don’t really know what I’m doing really, out there in the dirt and the ground and the earth.  I’ve never had much of a green thumb.  Black, maybe…but definitely not green.  (I killed a cactus once.  Seriously.  It shriveled up and died…a cactus!)

But last year my daughter’s therapist suggested that we try growing our own vegetables…that it might help her along on her journey to eating more foods.  (Long backstory there…perhaps one day I will share more details…but my oldest daughter, my “picky eater,”  was diagnosed with a sensory disorder about two years ago.  Basically she has a hard time eating a variety of foods.  Food aversion.  Anxiety.  Sensory disorder.  All these labels that really have little to do with who she really is…my beautiful, amazing, brave girl, who just happens to taste and feel things a bit differently.  Therapy has helped her so much, and this whole thing has been quite a journey for our whole family…a journey I am now very thankful for, because it has helped shape us and grow us all in ways that I would have never imagined.)

So anyway…it was suggested that we grow our own foods so she can be a part of the process.  Just grow a few vegetables, plant a little garden….they made it sound so easy, and yet the whole idea just seemed like a failure waiting to happen from my perspective.  (I mean, I killed a cactus for heaven’s sake!)

But I was willing to give it a shot…for Emma’s sake.

This was the extent of our little attempt at a garden last year:

And what do you know?  We planted these tiny little seeds….and they GREW!  Not only did they grow, but by golly, we got some vegetables too!  Now, they wouldn’t win any prizes at the state fair or anything…but the fact that something green actually came out of the ground, and then produced something that we could actually eat….that was a miracle in my book!

I had no idea what I was doing, though.  The plants were WAY too crowded.   I was so excited to see things growing, I just let them ALL grow…all crammed together and on top of each other.  And who knew that tomato plants got so BIG?!  And that cucumber plants have these crazy vines that take over the whole garden bed?!  (Well, gardeners know these things…and I would have known it too if I had done any kind of research and reading before we just went crazy with the planting).

Yeah…this is what our garden last year ended up looking like:

But I had such low expectations for that first tiny little garden last year…any growth at all was a huge success.  And the girls really enjoyed it…it was a great learning experience for us all.

But what surprised me the most…what I did not expect…was how much I would begin to truly love gardening.  I’m not sure what it is about it that changed my perspective…maybe it’s just the whole miracle of it all…how something so tiny and dead can become something so big and alive. Maybe it’s the joy of watching the process.  Or maybe it’s that having that little garden added something beautiful to our plain little backyard.  (Or maybe it’s all of that combined)

Whatever the reason, I really do love gardening (or at least humbly attempting to pretend to garden).

So we are planning another small garden again this year.  I’m adding just a little to what we had last year…and making space for our plants to spread out.  And I’ve been reading and researching and scouring Pinterest for lots of new gardening ideas.  I still don’t really know what I’m doing…but I’m actually really excited about seeing our garden grow this year and learning more in the process.

We have onions and potatoes and some lettuce in the ground now.  Ranunculus bulbs have been planted too. There are tomatoes and peppers and marigolds sprouting on our windowsills.  I’m supposed to be planting the carrots soon, but am a bit behind schedule.  We’re also hoping for cucumbers and green beans and lots of flowers this year.

(Oh, and to help a completely helpless know-nothing gardener like me?….I use this handy dandy little free website called Smart Gardener.  It has been very helpful in reminding me when to plant each kind of plant, giving me “to-do” lists for each week, and it also has nifty little tools that let you plan out a garden design.  Such a great little resource!)

And then yesterday while running errands with Lilly, we saw fruit trees for sale outside the grocery store.  That little nature-lover child of mine talked me into getting one.  And then later I learned that I will need two in order for them to pollinate and actually ever produce any apples. (Who knew?!)  So I guess I will be going back to get another one.  And I guess we will have two apple trees in our backyard soon.  (We have NO trees at all right now….so I’m just a little giddy excited about even the possibility of having an actual live tree of my own!)  Now…whether or not they actually survive, let alone produce apples…that’s a whole other story.  (I’ve been known to kill trees too…yep!)

And for those of you who would rather just look at pretty pictures of flowers and plants rather than get out there and get dirty and grow your own (I was so that person not all that many days ago…), here’s a pretty little garden-inspired (very simple) little print for you:

spring printable

{Click HERE for PDF file of the 5×7 print}

Happy Spring (hopefully soon!)

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