Tag Archives: Family Nights

Hip Hip HOORAY! It’s Summer Vacay!

Today is the last day of the school year here!! Woo Hoo!! (We survived the first year of middle school!! Now THAT’s something worth celebrating! 😉 )

We’re gonna kick off this summer with a splash! When the girls get home, I’ll have this crate full of water fun waiting for them! I picked up a new slip-n-slide, a bucket full of water balloons, and some water guns…then I blew up a few balloons and made a little “Hip Hip Hooray! It’s Summer Vacay!” sign to finish it off.  Super easy, but lots of fun!

Later this evening we’ll sit down as a family and fill up our Summer Bucket List. We do this every year, and it is always a blast to see how much fun we can cram into our summer together. Plus, making a list and having a loose plan helps me make sure the days don’t just fly by without us taking time to be a bit intentional with our time together. Most of the things on our list won’t cost much money and won’t take a ton of time…we’re not going on any grand vacations this year…but it’s not so much about what we do as much as it’s just that we do some intentional things together.

Want to celebrate summer with us and plan your own summer of family fun? I’m sharing the Summer Vacay print with you, as well as an updated version of our Summer Bucket List. Feel free to print and plan for your own summer fun!

"Hip Hip Hooray! It's Summer Vacay!" LittleHousePrintable_8x10Click here for the Summer Vacay Printable

Summer Bucket List_LittleHousePrintableClick here for the Summer Bucket List Printable

(Looking for ideas for your Summer Bucket List? Check out my post from last year…I listed some ideas to help get you started. 🙂 )

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Getting Organized {& sharing my new 2015 printable calendar!}

 So I’m a little behind the power curve here…we’re already almost a week into January and I am just now getting my calendar together and getting organized for this new year.  I blame it on being sick a couple of times since Christmas…and on the fact that the girls just started back to school today, so we are just now getting back into a somewhat normal routine. 😉

I also think I’m still in a bit of shock that we are actually in a new year…2015?!  Is it just me, or do the years just seem to be flying by faster and faster somehow…

Emma will turn 12 this year, and Lilly will turn 10.  In a few short months, I will no longer have any children in single digit ages…they will both be double digits…that’s crazy to me…seriously.  Where did all that time go?…

Days turn to weeks.  Weeks turn to months.  One year flows into in the next.  Time just keep ticking by.  And it’s way too easy to get caught up in the rush and the hurry of the every day…it’s so easy to be so busy filling my time or worrying about what’s coming up next, that I miss the moments that matter most…I miss right here, right now.

And what’s crazy?  When I hurry, when I’m rushing from one thing to the next…time flies fast. I look back at the seasons in my life when my pace was fast and hurried, and it all is just one big crazy blur.  But…when I am intentional with my time, when I slow down and really live in the moment right here and now…time actually seems to slow down.  And when I look back at those kinds of days, when my pace was slow, when I used my time intentionally, when I embraced the moments in front of me…those are the memories that I cherish, the moments that make my life full.

So this year as I fill in my calendar, I’m going to keep two words in mind: slow and intentional.

I want to fill 2015 with moments that make my life full.  I want to embrace each day, whatever may come.  I realize that there will still be days that are busy…there are still tasks that must get done and obligations that must be met and things to do and people to see and places to go.  But…if I’m not intentional about family time, intentional about time with God, intentional about adding in margin and white space into my days…then the pace will quicken fast (because that’s just what the pace of this world and this culture tends to do) and the year will fly by in a blur and I’ll look back in a year as we enter 2016 and wonder where in the world all the time went.

I’ve been given a gift.  Today is a gift.  This moment is a gift.  And how I spend this day, this moment, this year…it matters.

So I designed this little calendar.  It’s pretty simple, really.  Just blank little boxes, one for each day of this whole big year.  My intention with this calendar is simple: to organize my days so that I can embrace each day to its fullest.

I’m going to fill in a few Family Nights or Family Adventure Days each month, intentionally planning some time together as a family….these are always some of our most favorite moments that we slow and embrace our time together…but if I don’t intentionally plan them, they simply won’t happen.

I’m also going to plan for Sabbath time to rest and just spend time with God…every week.  (I have a separate journal for my daily devotions…but I’m trying to do better about really taking a Sabbath day every single week, so I want to be sure to block out those days so that nothing else takes that time).

I’m also thinking of adding in some service projects and planning for some specific ways to love others throughout the year…and I’ll write down birthdays and appointments and all that good stuff too…but if the calendar starts getting really full, if I feel the pace of our family start to get too hurried and fast, then I’m also going to be very intentional about erasing things. 🙂

And in case you’re like me and need a simple little calendar to organize your days so you can embrace each day to its fullest, I’m sharing this little calendar I designed for 2015.  There are two options: a black and white version, and a color version.  Feel free to download and print either (or both 😉 ).  But please just note: this calendar is free for personal use only (please don’t take it and sell it or any of that kind of crazy stuff 😉 )

2015 CALENDAR – BLACK & WHITE
{click to download PDF file}

2015 CALENDAR – COLOR
{click to download PDF file}

Enjoy!!!  And have a wonderful year full of moments that make your life full!!

Inspiration Monday

It’s Monday.

Mondays always feel like they move in slow-motion as I try to snap out of the weekend mindset and get motivated to actually accomplish something productive with my week.  Usually I just need a little inspiration to jump-start my day and help me focus on the week ahead of me.  So I decided to start using Mondays as my “Inspiration Day” – a day to gather some ideas and thoughts that will help give me the little kick in the booty to get motivated each week.

So my plan is to use this little space here every Monday to share some of the things that are inspiring me (I’ve been so sporadic with my blog posts….we’ll see how well I can keep this going every week 😉 …but I’ll try!)

So here it goes!  My first Inspiration Monday:

 

This Book.  The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith.

I just finished reading it this weekend, but I will definitely be reading back through it again this week!  So much inspiration in these pages for creating an imperfectly beautiful home.  I could write a whole post just on this book…it is just so full of beautiful words, practical ideas, and page after page of inspiration.  Reading it made me so excited to really get creative in my home and try some things that I was waiting for because of limitations I thought I had within our small walls.  I seriously cannot recommend this book enough…if you’re looking for a little inspiration for your home, read this book!!

Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book: “You don’t have to get perfect to have a pretty house.  Most of us simply need to learn to see the beauty in the imperfect.  Because life is gloriously messy. We can find rest in our less than perfect circumstances when we figure out that no amount of striving can create the perfect life we think we are looking for.”

 

This post by Ruth Simons.  I only recently discovered this lady’s beautiful blog and quickly fell in love with her art and her way with words. And this post?…so much truth.  “No one’s life is truly easy. No one’s. …We simply can’t know another’s pain or another’s struggles by simply looking at how easy her life appears.”  Comparison is a dangerous game to play…we honestly do not know the depth of anyone’s struggles.  Instead of passing judgment or making comparisons, perhaps we should reach out a hand…bear one another’s burdens, knowing that no one is exempt from pain and struggles in this fallen and broken world.  You don’t know what struggles are lying beneath the surface of that person you think has it all together…we all need grace and love and extra compassion.

 

My girls are going to Children’s Camp with our church this week, so I plan on keeping myself busy around the house and maybe even try a Pinterest project or two.  Here are a couple that look fun to try:

Mason Jar Wheel

This cool light fixture thingy made from a wheel and mason jars looks so fun! I’m thinking of something similar for our back porch…not sure where to find a wheel like that, but this photo inspires me.

Paper Feather Wreath

This Paper Feather Wreath.  Love this.  I’m on a bit of a feather kick lately…I don’t know why.  But I think I need to try making this wreath.

Watercolor Flowers

And these beautiful Watercolor Flowers from lovegrowswild.com would look perfect in a little vase on a bookshelf or beside my bed!

 

This AMAZING Blueberry Pound Cake Recipe.

Alton-Browns-Blueberry-Pound-Cake(Image and Recipe from altonbrown.com)

My sister, Joy, made this last weekend when we went to her house to visit.  I fell in love.  I told her I want her to make it for me for my birthday.  It is SOOOO good!!!  But I can’t wait until December for a slice of this yumminess, so I will have to try to make it myself.  I’m going to give it a shot this week and see if I can make it even halfway as good as she does. 🙂

 

I spent a good bit of the weekend pulling out the calendar and planning out some fun for the summer. We finally filled in our Summer Bucket List and I filled up our calendar for the next two months with lots of “stay-cation” family fun.  This Saturday we’re planning on going to a park and having a picnic. The girls wanted to “fly a kite” this summer, so I’m thinking we’ll try our hand at making our own kites to take with us to the park.  I’ve found a few ideas on Pinterest, so I’m thinking that when they get back from camp later this week we’ll have a family night full of kite-making fun!

HowToBuildAKite(image from Pinterest pin here)

And look at this really cool Tetrahedral Kite:

TetrahedralKite

I’m printing out this verse to inspire me this week to slow down and wait quietly before God.

Psalm 62:5{ 5×7 Printable – Click HERE to download }

Well, that’s it for today’s “Inspiration Monday”!  I hope you have a wonderful, beautiful, inspired, grace-filled week!!!

Summer Bucket List {a printable}

The girls only have 7 school days left until summer vacation.  SEVEN!  That means Emma has only 7 days left of elementary school…only 7 days until I officially have a middle-schooler…seriously?!!?  I’m not quite ready to fully embrace that just yet 😉  So let’s just focus on summer for now!

We love summer!  No schoolwork…extra family time…fun excursions…and lots of fun!  I want to slow down this summer, to create memories and embrace the joy of these special days with my girls.  But I know how it goes…if I don’t sit down and at least write down a general plan for the summer, day by day will slide by, life will get busy, and before I know it summer will be over and we will not have done any of the “fun” things that I wanted us to do.

So we are making a “Summer Bucket List.”  We’re going to write out things that we want to do this summer and check them off as we do them.  The purpose is to be intentional as we head into summer and to make time to create memories together.  The purpose is NOT to add more busyness or pressure to our summer plans (I have to remind myself of this 😉 )…if we don’t do everything on the list, that’s ok!  We’re just going to have fun with it…do as much as we can and don’t worry about the rest. 🙂

 

I created a little blank “bucket list” for us to fill out and hang up.  You can download one too if you want and make your own list with your family!  One has just 10 blanks, and one has 20 – choose whichever one works best for you!

Summer Bucket List – 10 blanks

SummerBucketList_10blanks

 

Summer Bucket List – 20 blanks

 

SummerBucketList_20blanks

Not sure what to put on your list?  Here are some ideas I gathered that we are going to use to help us make our list!  Use some of these, or come up with your own!

  • spend a day at the beach
  • go on a hike
  • camp outside
  • camp inside (build a fort in the living room!)
  • have a movie marathon
  • go stargazing
  • go to the zoo
  • have a watergun fight
  • go on a photo adventure (take lots of pictures)
  • make ice cream
  • have a spa day
  • have an epic picnic
  • go roller skating
  • make friendship bracelets
  • go fishing
  • take a road trip
  • make a summer video diary
  • have a pool day
  • find a waterfall
  • spend a day at the lake
  • paint something
  • go to a drive-in movie
  • have a water balloon fight
  • fly a kite
  • have an outdoor movie night in the backyard
  • go on a scavenger hunt
  • have a fondue family night
  • visit a farmers market
  • have a game night
  • build a sandcastle
  • go to the library
  • have a pajama day
  • see the ocean
  • go on a bike ride
  • visit a new place
  • roast marshmallows
  • make flower crowns
  • make milk carton boats and sail them
  • explore new playgrounds
  • go sky-gazing (sit and look at the clouds)

Whatever you do this summer, have fun with your family as you spend some intentional time together!! 🙂

A Last Supper Meal – so we will remember

In Luke 22, Jesus and His disciples were having the Passover Meal together. The Passover Meal was an important tradition.  Each piece of the meal was full of symbolism, full of significance…it helped them remember.  They remembered where they came from, remembered how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt, remembered how God made a way where there was no way through the Red Sea, remembered how the blood of the lambs on the doorposts saved their children from the curse.

Passover.  A meal that helped them remember.

At this particular Passover meal, this Last Supper in Luke 22, Jesus tells them to remember something new…not just the freedom from Egypt or the passing over of the curse of death by the blood on the doorposts. Jesus breaks bread and pours the fruit of the vine and He tells His disciples to eat and to drink and to “do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19)  He wanted them – He wants us – to remember Him.

Because everything that the Passover was, everything that it pointed to, everything that it symbolized…Jesus fulfilled.  When His body was broken and His blood was poured, when He laid His life down and then rose back to life again…when Jesus became our spotless lamb, broken and sacrificed for us…every prophecy, every promise, everything was fulfilled.  So when we break the bread that represents His body, and when we pour the drink that represents His blood, we remember – we remember where we came from, we remember how God rescued us from the chains of sin and death, we remember how Jesus made a way where there was no way, we remember that HIS blood covers our sin and saves us from the curse of death.

We remember.

So on the Thursday before Easter – on Maundy Thursday – we gather as a family and have a special meal together.  We call it our “Last Supper” Meal, and it has become a very special tradition for us.

The girls help me make unleavened bread.  We pull out some sparkling grape juice.  We decorate the table and light some candles.  We prepare a special meal.  (This year I tried a new recipe for Maple Glazed Cornish Hens – you can get the recipe here).

I usually try to keep it simple but special.  One of these days I would love to try to make a Christian Passover/Messianic Seder meal, but for now we’ve chosen to just focus on the unleavened bread and juice…and I do love the simplicity of it.

We sit down to eat and we talk about Jesus.  We remember His life, and all the wonderful things He did.  Then we pull out the Bible and Mark begins reading, first from Exodus 11-12.  We talk about the first Passover.  We remember how God rescued the Jews…how He protected their firstborns by the blood of the lambs on the doorposts…how He made a way through the Red Sea.

Then we fast forward to Luke 22, where Jesus is sitting down with His disciples to eat the Passover meal, where they are looking back and remembering that first Passover.  We read about the New Covenant. We talk about Jesus’ body and His blood. We pray and thank God for Jesus, for His sacrifice.

We break the unleavened bread and remember Jesus’ broken body.

We drink the grape juice and remember Jesus’ blood that was poured out.

We do these things and we remember how God rescued us…how He protects us by the blood of Jesus, the Perfect Lamb of God…how He made a way for us to know Him and to be with Him.

Our Last Supper Meal is not perfect.  It’s not super fancy or ritualistic.  But it is very intentional.  We intentionally set aside this time to slow down in the crazy pace of this ever-busy life to focus on Jesus…to remember Him.

 

If you’d like more details about our Last Supper Meal, check out my Easter Family Devotions kit.  All the details for our Last Supper meal is in there, including all the passages we read and links to other great resources.  (I kinda goofed up on the kit, though…I had the Last Supper meal listed for Day 12 (Friday), when it should be for Day 11 (Thursday)…oops!  I’ll fix that for next year.  But really, it doesn’t matter which day you do it…the point is to do something to remember Jesus, and to intentionally point our kids’ hearts toward Him too.)

So whatever it is you do to remember Him, I wish you slow, quiet moments over these next couple of days to draw close to Jesus…to remember His life, to be awed by His love, and to be lavished by His grace.

Happy Easter!

Creating Traditions That Help Us Remember: A Free Easter Family Devotional Kit

At the last supper with His disciples, Jesus told them to “do this to remember me.” (Luke 22:19 NLT)

There’s something significant about traditions, about doing something that means something in order to remember something important.  As a family, we want to create traditions that have significance, that point our hearts to something, to Someone…I want traditions that help us remember.

We’re big about traditions around Christmastime.  We have an Advent calendar and countdown to Christmas, we have special family nights full of fun activities and crafts, we read stories and we sing Christmas songs.  This past Christmas season, we even started a Jesse Tree and added ornaments each day and had a special devotional together every night…we read stories from the Bible leading up to the birth of Jesus. (We used the book, The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp as a guide).  We did all those things because Christmas is a special day…it’s the day we remember Jesus’ birth.

But Easter….for some reason, I’ve never put nearly as much into Easter traditions.  I mean, we color eggs and put out Easter baskets and have Easter egg hunts…but as far as traditions that help us remember what Easter is really about…well, we don’t have many of those.  Last year, I started rethinking how we do Easter.  I wanted to be more intentional.  I wanted my girls to know – to really, truly, deep down KNOW – the meaning of Easter.  And I want them…I want us all…to remember.

So we started small last year.  We added one tradition: A family Last Supper Meal.  I had read about a Christian Passover Meal/Messianic Seder, and was very interested in doing something similar because it has so much significance and meaning to it.  But I wasn’t quite sure if it would work for our family, and I wasn’t really confident enough to properly pull off the whole Passover meal…maybe one day I will try it…but I did want to teach my girls about Passover, and the significance of the Last Supper.  So on the Friday before Easter, we baked unleavened bread and talked about the Last Supper. We read from the Old Testament and learned about Passover, and what it meant. And then we broke bread together and drank sparkling grape juice together and read through the verses in Luke 22 about Jesus’ last meal with His disciples.

baking unleavened bread

It ended up being one of my most favorite nights we’ve ever had as a family.  It’s definitely a tradition that we will continue every year.

And this year I want to be even more intentional as we lead into Easter.  So I’ve been working on some family devotions that will help us learn more about the life of Jesus and prepare our hearts as we get ready to celebrate the most important event in all of history: Jesus’ Resurrection.

Along with the devotionals, I also designed some pictures that go along with each story.  Then I turned those pictures into ornaments that we will use on a special “tree” that we will add to throughout the two weeks leading up to Easter.  We’re calling it our “Jesus Tree.”

(The Jesus Tree is not my own original concept.  I’ve been reading and researching a lot lately, and I was inspired by others who do similar things with their families…there are really SO many great resources and ideas out there!  You can search Pinterest or Google and find tons of ideas for Easter Trees or Jesus Trees, and lots and lots of resources for Easter devotionals or Lent devotionals.  I was particularly inspired by Ann Voskamp and her blog at annvoskamp.com.  She does an Easter Tree, and she has a GREAT resource on her site with family devotions and pictures for ornaments as well.  You can check her resources out here: Free Family Lent Easter Devotional.)

I ended up deciding to focus on stories from the life of Jesus, so I wrote my own devotions for our family and gathered an assortment of activity ideas, and put them all together in this Easter Family Devotions Kit.   And I’d love to share it with you!  Because maybe – just maybe – I’m not the only mom who struggles with being intentional about celebrating Easter.  Maybe I’m not the only mom who has spent more time picking out pretty dresses and filling Easter baskets than I have picking out meaningful Bible stories to tell my girls and filling their hearts and memories with meaningful traditions that help them truly remember Jesus.  Maybe I’m not the only one who has been so busy just trying to survive life that I have failed to take the time to share HIS life.

I put together this kit for my own family.  I picked stories that I felt would prepare our hearts for Easter, and I designed the ornaments using symbols I thought would help trigger our memory of the stories.  Please feel free to use this kit as a starting point for your own family Easter celebrations.  But also feel free to add to it and personalize it for your own family.

I have provided a lot of different activities in this kit.  But our family will not do all of these activities.  The whole idea is to be intentional about celebrating Easter, but not to make it so busy that we are stressed and exhausted by the time we get to Easter Sunday.  I provided multiple activities so that you could see how easy it is to extend the devotions if you want to.  For our family, we will choose probably two or three activities that work best for our family, or that are most meaningful to us, and focus on doing those.  But most nights, we will simply talk about the Bible story and add our ornament to our Jesus Tree.   So please do not feel like you have to do everything.

The point is not to add more to your already busy family schedule…the point is just to intentionally slow down and focus on what is most important this Easter season. 

Maybe your family is in a season where you can easily do an extra activity every day and it adds meaning and fun to your family, not stress and busyness.  If that’s where you are, great!  Do it! You can even look for more ideas online – there are so many fun ideas out there that can help connect your kids’ hearts to Jesus!

But if your family is in a season that is already busy and full, maybe what works best for you would be to just focus on slowing down long enough to read a Bible story together every night…maybe print the ornaments and just hang one on your Jesus Tree each day and that’s it.  Even just doing that alone will make an impact on your family, by intentionally turning your hearts toward Jesus this Easter season.

So take these ideas, take these resources, and tweak them and make them work for your family, in your season, where you are now.  Even if you just try one thing…just start one tradition this Easter…just one thing that points your family to Jesus…it will make a difference.

What is included in this kit:

  • Directions on how to make a Jesus Tree.
  • 14 Days of Family Devotions – each devotion has a scripture reading, some questions, and a prayer prompt.
  • Set of 14 Jesus Tree Ornaments – these are hand-drawn images, each one corresponds to a Bible story from the devotions.
  • At least 1 extra activity idea per day.  (Crafts, activities, recipes, etc.)
  • Extra Resources – all recipes, craft instructions, and activity directions are included in the kit.
  • A Last Supper Meal – detailed, step-by-step information for making this special meal happen for your family, including a printable for your table decorations.

 

Click HERE to download the complete Easter Family Devotions Kit

 

Wishing you so much joy as you intentionally focus on Jesus this Easter!

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!!

Mini Mailbox Makeover

DIY Mini Mailbox Makeover {for Valentine's Day}

I’m making some final preparations for our Family Valentine’s Day Dinner tomorrow {read all the details about our Valentine’s Day family tradition, and snag that “Love One Another” printable, in this post from the other day}.

One of my favorite things we do for this family night is our Love Note Exchange.  We’ve been using these little metal mailboxes every year to deliver our notes to one another:

I found them for just $1 each at Target in that little dollar spot area.  (Tip: if you want to grab some, try going after Valentine’s Day…they usually mark them 50% off, so you can snag some mailboxes for super cheap!)

This year I wanted to give our little mailboxes a little update.  This little DIY was super easy…and I love how they turned out.  Here’s what I did:

First, I had a budget of, oh, $0….so I rummaged through all of my old, leftover craft supplies to see if I had anything I could use to give the mailboxes a little height.  I found these:

I had previously used these little wooden pieces as little cupcake stands for Emma’s birthday party a couple of years ago:

They worked great as little cupcake stands, but I figured if I flipped them around and painted them, they’d make great little mailbox stands 🙂

So I painted them blue, and glued them together like this:

Then I decided to paint the little flag on the mailbox to match the stand:

Because I used regular acrylic craft paint (because it’s what I had), I had to add a layer of mod podge on top of the paint so that it wouldn’t scratch off easily (you can use any kind of acrylic sealer…or a paint that is intended to work on plastic 😉 ).

Then I just hot glued the little mailboxes on top of the little wooden stands:

Next, I drilled some holes in the “door” of the mailbox so I could add a little pull to make the mailboxes easier to open.

Notice how amazingly lined up my holes are…lol 😉  I am terrible about just eyeballing things and not taking the time to measure or make things level…my eyeballs were very uneven on this one 😉  (It didn’t really end up mattering…you can’t tell once I added the fabric strips)

Next I cut some little strips of fabric from some scrap fabric I had.

(I used this same fabric when I made the “LOVE” bunting/banner for the living room – you can see it HERE).

Then I just pulled the fabric strips (4 strips total, 2 of each pattern) through the holes that I drilled in the mailbox doors:

Then I just tied them in a simple knot and put the doors on the mailboxes.

DIY Mini Mailbox Makeover {for Valentine's Day}

After painting our names on the sides of the mailboxes, they were done!

I love our little mailboxes…they are going to look super cute on our table for our Family Valentine’s Day Dinner tomorrow!  Now to get busy filling them with notes and treats for one another!

DIY Mini Mailbox Makeover {for Valentine's Day}

Family Valentine’s Day Dinner {and Printables}

One of our favorite Family Nights is our annual Family Valentine’s Day Dinner.  We started doing a family dinner for Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago, and we love it.  Holidays are an awesome opportunity to connect as a family…especially on a holiday that is all about celebrating love!  Valentine’s Day gives us a perfect opportunity to intentionally teach our girls about love…that love is so much more than just chocolates and flowers, more than just the “romantic” kind of love that Valentine’s Day can sometimes tend to focus on…that love, true love, all love, comes from God.  And the reason that we love each other, that we show love to others, is because love comes from God and He loves us so much.

Love One Another

This is our Valentine’s verse for this year…this is our focus this week, this month, as we talk to our girls about love.  “Love each other, for love comes from God.”  Love doesn’t come from us…it comes from God.  So even when we don’t “feel” like it, we love. Even when we have a bad day or things don’t go our way, we love.  Even in the hard times, when we’ve been let down, when we’re disappointed….even when our hearts are hurting….we love.  Because love comes from God.  And He ALWAYS loves.  And He tells us to love one another.

And our Valentine’s Dinner is just one way we celebrate God’s love, and our love for one another.

We’re already making preparations for our special family night on Friday. I’ll post more details on this year’s Valentine’s Dinner after we have it.  But if you’re interested in starting a similar tradition in your family, here’s the basics of what we do (and at the bottom I’ll share some printables that I made for us this year…feel free to use as many of the ideas and resources as you want to make your own family night special).

We usually do our Valentine’s Day Dinner on Valentine’s Day.  I know a lot of couples make special plans without kids on this day…and that’s awesome! Time together for mom and dad without the kiddos is SO important in a family…after all, long after the children are grown and gone, that marriage relationship is what will still be there, so that needs to be consistently invested in and made a priority.  We have just decided to use Valentine’s Day as a family day, and we do our date nights and kids-free things on other days (the restaurants aren’t as crowded on other nights too, which is a bonus 😉 ). That’s what works for us. But you can definitely make your family Valentine’s dinner or celebration ANY night, ANY time that works for your family.  There really are no rules to this…as with any family night, it’s all about just taking the time to intentionally connect and spend time together.  I’ll share what we do in our little family, and hopefully it will inspire you to make some special memories in your own way in your own family. 🙂

Here are some pictures from our past two Family Valentine’s Dinners:

Family Valentine's Dinner 2012

In 2012, we made some pasta casserole and french bread pizza with heart-shaped pepperoni (super simple meal).  For a special touch, we had soda in glass bottles and crazy straws (the girls loved them!).  I pulled out our plastic heart-shaped plates that I think I got for like $1, and decorated the table with mason jars and tea light candles.  I added a few little goodies at each plate, and scattered some heart confetti to finish off the table decorations.  I try to keep it pretty simple (and inexpensive)…you can make it as simple or elaborate as you want.

Here’s a few pictures from last year:

Family Valentine's Dinner 2013

Last year we went with a breakfast theme.  The table decorations were very simple, just a couple of candles and some fresh flowers.  Stripey straws with mustaches and lips were a fun touch.  But our favorite part of the night…our favorite part of every Family Valentine’s Dinner…is our Love Note Exchange:

(Top photos are from 2013, bottom photos are from 2012….I just love that picture of Lilly with no front teeth…oh my goodness, that kid!)

We have little mailboxes that we use each year for our Love Note Exchange (these are getting an update this year…more on that in another post). Before our dinner we make Valentines cards, love notes, and/or pictures for one another and deliver them to each other’s mailboxes.  After dinner, we get to open our mailboxes and see all the “love” that we were given.  This is quite possibly my most favorite part of the whole night.  The girls get so excited, and they take their time to read every word of every note…the smiles on their faces are beyond words.  And of course, the notes they give me just completely melt my heart.

This year we are extending this a little bit by adding “acts of love” to our Valentine’s tradition.  All this week leading up to Valentine’s Day, we are going to do little acts of love for one another.  I’ll share how that goes in another post later this week, but I’m hoping it will help us make love a verb in our family…that we will be able to model and practice tangible acts of love and service to one another.  I’m so excited…I think this is going to be our best Family Valentine’s yet!

Since we are spreading out our Valentine’s Day love all week long this year, I have already started working on some of the decorations for the house…and I wanted to share some of them with you, in case you would like to incorporate them into your family Valentine’s celebration.  Feel free to use any of these graphics you want for your home (you can share them, just please don’t take them and sell them…thanks!! 😉 ).

For this year, we are going with the “Love One Another” theme, so I made a few graphics to decorate our dinner table with, and to decorate the living room and other areas of the house.

Here’s a little “LOVE” banner I made:

Valentine's Day LOVE Banner

To download this banner, click HERE. Then just print it, cut it out, punch holes in the top and string it up on some twine. You can just hang the LOVE banner, or add some other garland and decorations to “fancy it up” a bit.  I made two strands of garland here by cutting some leftover pieces of fabric into strips (I didn’t measure or anything, just cut a bunch of strips), and then tied them onto some string…super fast and easy!

Here’s a couple of signs that you can print and display anywhere in your home (I have the Love One Another one on our mantle):

Love One Another Sign ~ Free Printable

{Click on the image below, or click HERE to download the PDF file of the Love One Another Sign}
Valentines LOVE_Love One Another Sign ~ Free Printable

{Click on the image below, or click HERE to download the PDF file of the Happy Valentine’s Day Sign}

Valentines LOVE_Happy Valentines Day Sign ~ Free Printable

I also made a smaller version of the “Love One Another” sign to put on our dinner table.  It folds in half like a little tent, so it shows the graphic on both sides (that way, no matter which side of the table you’re sitting on, you’ll see the verse 🙂 ):

Love One Another Table Tent ~ Free Printable

{Click on the image below, or click HERE to download the PDF file of the Table Tent}

Valentines LOVE_Love One Another Table Tent ~ Free Printable

And here’s some little place cards. I’m going to use these when I set our table for our dinner on Friday:

Family Valentine's Day Dinner Place Cards ~ Free Printable

{Click on the image below, or click HERE to download the PDF file for the Place Cards}

Valentines LOVE Place Cards ~ Free Printable

A lot of these graphics can be used in multiple ways.  You can make gift tags or note cards…even print some and write notes to your kids and stick them in their lunchboxes this week (or your spouse’s work bag/purse/etc). Get creative…have fun…show some love…use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to invest in your family.  It doesn’t have to be big or fancy…but consistent intentional investments over time will make a huge impact in the hearts of our children, and in the dynamics of our family.

So, no matter what comes this week…whether you have chocolates and roses on Valentine’s Day, or screaming babies and a sink full of dishes…may you have a Valentine’s Day that is full of love…because, no matter what, God loves you, and your family, SO much!

Family Game Night {and some free printables}

Last week we had a Family Game Night as our weekly family night together.  Game night is always a favorite…and it’s pretty easy to do because it doesn’t really require much prep time.  Just grab some snacks and pull out a bunch of games.  Super easy and lots of fun!

Game Night

This time we added a new simple and fun twist to our game night: we had “medals” for the winner(s) of each game.

Candy Medals

I was inspired by this pin I found on Pinterest, where someone had made “Olympic Game Medals” out of candy bars attached to pieces of ribbon.  It looked super simple, so I made a bunch of our own using a variety of mini candy bars (which I found on sale at the grocery store for $1 for a pack of 6-8, but you can also usually get them at the dollar store too) and I used ribbon that I had leftover from other projects.

Candy Medals Supplies

Here’s the supplies you’ll need to make your own:

  • Mini Candybars
  • Ribbon (any kind), cut into about 30-inch lengths
  • Tape

All you do is attach the ends of the ribbon to the back of the piece of candy using the tape and you’re done!  Super easy!

Candy Medal

If you don’t want to use candy as prizes, I’ve also made a set of “medals” that you can print out and use:

Game Night Winner Medals Printable{Click on the image to download the PDF}
Just print them on cardstock, punch a hole in the top and add a ribbon.  Or you can print them onto full-sheet label paper and cut them out and use them like stickers.  Or you can even attach them to a goody bag or some other kind of prize…the possibilities are endless!

My girls LOVED winning the medals….and eating them 😉  It just added a little extra fun to an already fun family night.

 

Planning your own Family Game Night soon?  Here are some extra printables that can use to decorate for your fun night ~

Here’s the small Family Game Night sign and “Prizes” label that we used (Just click HERE, or on the picture below to go to the PDF file):

Family Game Night Decorations

If you want a larger sign, this one (below) will print out 8×10 so you can frame it or hang it up somewhere in your house each time you have a game night:

Game Night Sign{click on the image above to download the PDF}

And here’s a banner/bunting you can make, as another option:

Game Night Banner{click HERE to download the PDF}

To make the banner: After you print and cut out each letter, just attach it to a string or twine in one of two ways:

1. Glue the string to the back of the letters using hot glue,

OR
2. Punch holes in the top of each letter and string your twine or yarn through the holes to create your banner.
(my letters look pink because my poor printer is running out of ink…they should be more orange-ish…oops)

You can save the banner to use again when you have another Family Game Night.  We usually hang our banners on our fireplace mantle, but you can hang it on the wall, above a doorway, over a window…anywhere you want 🙂 It’s a fairly easy, fast way to add just a little special touch to your home for a family night.

Game Night Banner(I’m going to remake mine after I get more yellow ink for my printer…although the pink and purple look works too 😉 )

And if you’re looking for some fun family games to play, here are a few of our family’s favorites:

Blokus
In a Pickle
Sorry
Aggravation
Apples to Apples (Disney version)
Monopoly
Jenga

Happy Family Game Night!!!

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