Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Something special, just for you...

I know a few of you who may read this, read our article that was in the paper a few weeks ago. If you didn't, you can read it here. We were very honored to have had the opportunity to share our family's Christmas celebrations with others.

It has opened up many conversations for my husband, and myself. And I have had quite a few people ask me about our gift-giving process. They want to know how we exchanged gifts that aren't brand new, that are handmade, or what toys we hand down that aren't trash and most of all, how the recipient feels about their gift.
So I thought I'd give you some visuals here, and you may just consider trying a few of them out for birthdays this year, or for Christmas next year!

You can find tutorials for these here, and I must say I was amazed at how easy they were, and how lovely they turned out. A friend of mine made one for my niece's birthday back in October. I can remember watching as Raven pulled out this little roll of fabric, and I thought, wow, how beautiful is that? Then she opened it up and I saw all the crayons tucked in so neatly, and I was in awe. There is just something about pretty fabric, an elegant ribbon, and crayons that scream princess to me! So, I made one for my neighbor's little girl, and my best friend's two daughters. No need to wrap them, they are just simply beautiful on their own.

Now, what do you do when your 11 yr old nephew loves electronics, Transformers, video games, and super heroes, and you can't just go out and buy him any of those things? Well, I kept asking Ethan to be thinking about what he would like to do for his cousin, and it wasn't until we were in the fabric store picking up a few things, that he came up with an answer. Well, kind of an answer...he had seen some Transformer fabric. So, I made him a Transformer pillowcase and a marble bag. The marbles were just over a $1 at Hobby Lobby. Ethan also gave him an action figure that he always plays with when he is at our house. Needless to say, Mikey thanked me for the other gifts, but when he pulled out that little man, his reaction was sincerely appreciative. "Ethan, you are giving this to me?" Priceless.

Now, for my sister's, my mom, my close friends, and my oldest niece, this made a great gift. A key chain debit card/license holder. I also made two and put them in coffee cups for gifts to use at an exchanging game we play at my in-laws. The women were fighting over them!

It is quite possible that these were two of my favorite projects. My niece Raven is on the left, and my daughter Emma is on the right. I bought two cotton long sleeved T's at Belk for $6.59 each. Then I went to the fabric store and bought a corduroy material for the bottom. Made a front panel and a back panel, sewed it on, and wha-lah! With the extra material I made their small purses with sequence initials. Emma was completely surprised, she thought I had only made one for Raven!

Christmas Eve morning, Ethan and Emma worked on cards to take to the neighbors along with their cookies. This is Ethan's. It has the angel announcing Christ's birth, and the crosses are to represent the reason Christ came. Awesome.

What mawmaw and pawpaw wouldn't want to write down all their appointments on a calendar full of the faces they love to see? For $15 at Wal-Mart's photo center online, you can upload pictures and personalize a fabulous calendar. This has become the gift all of our parents and grandparents look forward to every year. Not homemade, but definitely personal.

Sawyer is my nephew who will be 3 in March. He loves to work with real tools and real bolts! He also loves to shoot his bow and arrow. So, my husband cut out two deer from cardboard and made him these targets. Then he made this wooden bolt contraption for Sawyer to learn lefty loosey righty tighty! Fantastic!

Now, I wasn't just this big giver this year! I received some pretty amazing gifts, too. My sister Indy's family made me fabulous earrings out of buttons. My sister Tarah's family made me a huge basket full of homemade detergents for the laundry and dishwasher. Ethan received a marshmallow shooter. Emma received a coupon to redeem for finger knitting lessons with Raven along with a loop and loom kit. They both got cool boxes full of homemade bath soaps and bath toys, and we all got lots of smiles as we watched our recipients open their gifts!

Hope this helps give you some ideas for your gifts this coming year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

You're never the quarterback with me looking for the sack...

We talk football a lot in our house. I admit that after Ethan played his first season of tackle football this fall, I became a completely addicted football mom. Because of this, I can relate a lot of things to Ethan by using the sport we both grew to love.

He turned 9 at the beginning of November. He is a wonderful boy who can be caught smiling with joy on a regular basis.

However, he can also be caught arguing, whining, or questioning my authority on a regular basis. The other day, as I was correcting him for questioning me, I had to really break it down for him.

"We are on the same team here. Always. It's like in football, Ethan. If you were the quarterback, and I was the receiver, we both have a common goal. Get the ball to the end zone and score a touchdown. You're never the quarterback with me looking for the tackle. I'm either blocking for you or waiting to receive your pass, I'm never in your way on purpose. Our goal is to raise you up to be a godly man, right?" "I guess..." "Yes, ma'am. Not I guess." "Yes ma'am."
"How can you be that man if we don't work together?" "I can't." "That's right. God asks me to train you up the way He has directed, and He asks you to honor me. If we do that, together as a team, the promise is a touchdown that is worth way more than 6 points. If we are constantly butting heads something is wrong. Our game plan isn't working, and we can't make any substitutions. I love you, and I need you on MY team, not against me."

This pep talk is pretty accurate to the one that really took place. He looked up at me with tears in his eyes and hugged me. I held onto my little man thinking about what a great captain of some one's football team he is going to make some day.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Counting down...but may keep it around...

Okay, by now you should all have realized I'm terrible at being a consistent blogger. I think my last post was back in June after I felt so good about my family enjoying our day at Pipestem.

This morning as I wait for Emma to come back home for an all-nighter at Aunt Indy's, and as Ethan is off doing some chores prior to getting back to school, I thought I'd give myself a few minutes to see what I could spit out.

I found this craft idea here and immediately thought it was a great idea to use for a craft on December 1st. My sister, Indy, and myself decided to get together once a week from now til Christmas to do an Advent craft. We both homeschool and knew it would help to have that accountability to make sure these neat ideas turned into neat crafts done on a neat day. So, on December 1st, our Advent Jar starting to come to be.

Even Sawyer enjoyed painting his jar! So, what is the purpose of an Advent jar? Starting on December 1st, each day they will pull out a good deed from their jar. Examples of what we placed in ours are : Call Aunt Jamie just to say I love you, make a card for someone not feeling well, pray for a family in our church, ask Daddy what he needs you to do today to help him out, pray for those who do not know Jesus as their personal Savior, pray the Lord will help to keep your heart thankful as you receive gifts from others this Christmas. Granted, I do realize that praying isn't necessarily a good deed, but teaching them to think and pray for others is a great way to get them to start thinking about others. You get the idea. Each day, they pull out a good deed, and that is our countdown to Christmas. So far, I have received a call from Raven telling me she loved me, Ethan has said numerous prayers, he and Emma have both made several phone calls to mawmaws and pawpaws saying I love you, Emma has said some prayers, Emma made a lady from our church a get well card and received a "thank you" home made bracelet in return! We are considering switching up the good deeds inside and keeping this around to be a daily thing all year long!

Some children have tender hearts. Some children do not have tender hearts. As Indy and I discussed this yesterday at her home, I was reminded of something she said a while back. We can try hard to be good parents, and we can do all the things we think will help our children become good, godly men and women. But the truth is, if they turn out halfway decent, it is just God's grace! Praying for our children, and praying the Lord blesses our efforts, are two ingredients that may get skipped out as we just try to be more disciplined parents that do neat little crafts to teach hearts to be tender.

But for the grace of God...

I know we probably have all heard that. But it is so true!

I am a blessed woman. I love staying at home and being Greg's personal chef/wife, Ethan's basketball opponent/mom, Emma's personal stylist/mom, and I love to serve my family as I feel God intended me to serve them. But I'm not good at these things because I'm a good woman. It is God's grace that has stilled my heart and reminds me I am truly serving Him when I do these things even when Greg has hurt my feelings, or Ethan is being obnoxious on the court, or Emma is acting a little too prissy when picking out clothes.

I did not have a tender heart growing up. But God is changing me more and more to realize what it is to be a real servant.

I pray that as I teach Ethan & Emma the reasons Christ came to this earth, and the reasons we anticipate His return, I will be able to see God's grace at work on their hearts as they learn to be imitators of Christ.

After all, if I had been Jesus' aunt over 2000
years ago, it would have made me smile to get a phone call from Him telling me He loved me...