Thursday, December 20

:: Perseverance = Hope ::

The tragedy at the elementary school in Connecticut has brought to the surface for us our tragedy and the trauma of that experience.  We mourn with the families that have lost their precious babies and it hits close to home having Parrish in Kindergarten as well.  In truth, we have tried to isolate ourselves from news reports and discussions about it out of self preservation.  This senseless tragedy, along with the difficulty of the holidays without Olivia, the 2nd anniversary of her passing in November, and her birthday coming up in January, have gotten me thinking a lot about perseverance lately.

The book of James in the bible is one of my favorite and speaks a lot about suffering and perseverance. James 1:4 says, "Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  Romans 5:3-5 says (in a nutshell) that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character hope.  We are more confident today in our hope than we were prior to loosing Olivia.  God walked with us during those horrific first days and weeks, and continues to walk with us not only on our bad days, but our good as well.  When human flesh fails and disappoints...He is always there.  Sometimes I just have to remind myself to stop and look for stop and listen for talk with him about what is on my heart.  During this busy season it is more difficult to find time to do that.  It is also hard for me to be still and silent for fear that the old memories of that horrible time will come flooding back to the front of my mind.  But Jesus promises us that if we keep persevering under trial we will receive the crown of life..."Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the  Lord has promised to those who love him." James 1:12

So we continue to find the joy in each day, like Knox's 1st bites of rice cereal this week...
 Or the amazing growth and changes in him over 4 short months...
 My dad coming to get Christmas started early this week....
 Or the boys playing in the Christmas lights at home...

This Christmas, I wish for you the joy found in the daily moments that comes from persevering through difficult times.  Tragedy and hard times do leave their marks, but thankfully tragedy does not have the power to define us because of our hope in Jesus.  Happy Birthday and all praise and honor to Him!

Friday, December 7

BUSY-Being Under Satan's Yoke

I've had these pictures uploaded for a week trying to find the time to blog and finally decided to just post them and be's the best I can do this season!  
We spent Thanksgiving in Andalusia with family and friends and it was a fun visit.  As usual though, it was tempered with longing for our sweet girl to be there with us.  The only difference is that this year, we had this cute bundle in our arms and I cannot express in words how thankful we are for him.  He has given us so much to be thankful for.

While we were in Andy Parrish got to play with his cousin Ada...she is quite possibly the best babysitter around.  She did whatever Parrish wanted to do...including building this fun fort in Glorio's yard.  It had rooms divided by hanging towels, duck blinds, broom closets and beds made of leaves....imagination at it's finest.
Knox enjoyed his time with Miss Ada, too...laughing at his great-gradaddy and getting snuggles (below) from his great-Glorio.
Right before Thanksgiving we had Parrish's school turkey trot and he ran with his new classmate and buddy Cole...the top three finishers got frozen turkeys and everyone else got certificates and turkey beads.  It was pretty funny seeing all the costumes - dogs and humans dressed up like turkeys!
Even Knox "ran" with us, although as you can see, he was content to nap and be pushed.
Cannon and I are struggling up the hill to the school in this picture trying to keep up with Cole and Parrish, who were like bolts of lightning!

Parrish and his classmates Cole and Drew showing off their certificates...

After the turkey trot it was off to see Santa.  Knox was just along for the ride this year.  I wonder what he'll think next year!
Parrish still had his face paint on from the turkey trot that he cherished and I didn't have the heart to make him take it off (if you were wondering why on earth I got him all dressed up only to paint his face!)
Parrish always taps his chin while he's thinking.  Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas and the contemplation required some serious chin tapping.
Ok, maybe Knox was not just along for the ride this year...he was happy as a clam as always.  The one exception has been the past week...we have all had a cold and he has not been his normally happy self. He finally got a good night's sleep last night and he was back to his cooing self today.  Now maybe his mommy and daddy will get a good night's sleep tonight!

I've been busy wrapping some gifts with these super cute yarn pom poms I learned to make on (where else) but Pinterest!  Basically you wrap the yarn around 4 fingers several times, slide off your hand and place in the middle of a short section of yarn that you then use to tie in the middle.  Next use your scissors to cut the loops on either side and that's it.  Easy and super fun.  I am one of those weird people that actually looks forward to wrapping gifts.  And the yarn is inexpensive and comes in lots of fun colors.  I especially like the red and white and lime and white that looks like baker's twine.

For classmate treats this year Parrish and I cut out and sewed kraft paper in fun Christmas shapes to form pouches filled with m&m's that his friends can rip into, then eat.  We put "Have a rip-roaring good Christmas" on the tags.  Parrish loved sitting in my lap and sewing...we experimented with different stitches and I let go of my need for perfection and just let him sew his where he wanted.  I love doing projects like this with him and I love seeing his creativity come out.  He has opinions on what color thread, shapes and stitches he likes, placement of stickers, etc.  I know the days of him being interested in doing these projects are coming to an end soon and I am cherishing each moment with him now.

Here's another picture of my jute webbing obsession.  I used it on my wreaths this year and attached old skeleton keys and my house numbers to hang from my front doors.

And I couldn't resist using it as a tree topper as well.  I'm telling you....this stuff has 1000 uses!

The picture below is a terrible one from my phone of my mantle.  I used an old "P" wreath form and wrapped it in yarn and Christmas lights then stuck in some cedar clippings.

Creativity is an outlet for me and something I enjoy very much, and I know a lot of you who read are the same, but I almost didn't post all of these "project" pictures today because I was convicted in my bible study this week that I have been too busy lately....not taking the time to enjoy the season and letting my to do list have all the control!  I loved that our leader said that BUSY is an acronym for "Being Under Satan's Yoke".  So true!  Satan loves nothing more than for us to be overwhelmed during this season that is supposed to be filled with peace and joy at the thought of the birth of the one who has saved us all.  When we're focused on our "to do" lists, we don't have the time to focus on the gift of Jesus and the hope he brought with him.  

  Our kids won't remember whether our house was decorated perfectly, but they will remember all of the fun times and traditions of the season.  They will remember us sitting down with them each day to read a bible verse and talk about Jesus's birth and life and to answer their questions.  They will remember baking baby Jesus a birthday cake with you each year or fun family outings to the ice skating rink or live nativity.  

So here's wishing you a season filled with peace, joy, and hope, and the ability to say "no" to your mile-long "to do" list in favor of family fun!  At our house just seeing this gummy smile can make it feel like Christmas morning every day.  Here's to the simple pleasures!  Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Friday, November 16

:: Deck the halls...with jute webbing ::

Pinterest turns me into a crafting machine.  Seriously.  I have to limit myself from going on there or I'll take on too many projects....not to mention weigh 400 pounds because of all the recipes I want to try.  It all started with me wondering how I was going to hang the fresh wreaths on my windows outside this year.  I decided to use jute webbing and went on Pinterest to see if there were any good ideas for using it to hang wreaths.  An hour later my mind is spinning with new ideas to try and I'm so OCD I won't be able to stop thinking about them until they are completed.  It's a curse.  Anyway, at least I came out with some pretty cute decor to deck my halls with.

 Like this jute webbing wreath/christmas card holder.  

And these ruffle Christmas trees for the mantle.

 But before I go into that, let's talk about more important things.  Like this little guy.  Have I mentioned that I am so head-over-heels in love with him??  Just look at that sweet face.
 Last week he turned 3 months old.  When I took his monthly chair picture I couldn't believe how much he has already changed.  He is holding is head steady and lifting his torso up now when you hold him like he's trying to sit up on his own.
 He is discovering his little hands and loves to clasp them together.  He finds his thumb quite a bit and it it pretty much melts my heart.  Yesterday I left him in the floor with Parrish on his back and he immediately flopped to his side as I walked into the kitchen.  Then Parrish yells, "mom, he flipped over!!!"  And sure enough...I walk back into the room and there he is on his tummy.  It seems like his babyhood is going by so quickly, along with my brain power!

I've been telling everyone lately that my head has not been on straight.  I drove all the way to the gym to run the other day only to have to turn around because I had forgotten that Cannon took the stroller out of my car the day before; yesterday I thought it was Tuesday all day and therefore forgot about Parrish's swimming class; today I forgot to send in money for popcorn day at school...I am telling you, I can't seem to catch up!

I'm blaming it on the lack of sleep (although little man is sleeping from about 9:00-5:00 these days, so that's probably not fair of me!) and all the baby gear I'm schlepping.  CC and I talk about this all the's not babies that are's all the gear that goes along with them!!  I'm hoping next week I'll have it to more together.  Maybe the fact that my crafting craze is over for a while will help me.

I got the idea for these trees on Pinterest.  Someone there used ribbon to do the same thing I did, I just switched it up to use jute webbing and left over fabric instead.  So here's how you make them...
You'll need:
Left over fabric and/or jute webbing (if using fabric, cut it into 3.5" strips)
Straight pins
Sewing machine (this is optional)
Hot glue gun
Foam cones of varying sizes
Base of your choice (I used candle holders from hobby lobby)
Wooden finials (found at hobby lobby in woodworking section in a bag)
Jingle bells and yarn or twine to hang them
 Step 1: pleat or ruffle your webbing and/or fabric by folding over small sections and pinning.  I held it up to the cone along to way to determine if I had enough length to cover the cone, so I don't have specific measurements for you.  It will also depend on the size of your cone.
 Step 2:  Once you've pinned enough for one row, sew over the pleats you've pinned and then remove the pins.  You'll be left with a ruffle.  (You can also forgo the sewing machine all together and hot glue in between the pleats)
Step 3: Hot glue the ruffled strips onto the cone in the pattern of your choice making sure to overlap (I alternated fabrics on one and did all jute webbing on the other)

Step 4: hot glue the ruffled cones to the base of your choice (I used candle holders from hobby lobby but you could also you old spindles or anything else you have laying around the house)

Step 5: spray paint the wooden finials the color of your choice (I used brown) and then press them into the top of the christmas tree cones

Step 6: tie twine and yarn adorned with jingle bells, old skeleton keys, or whatever you like, around the finials to finish them off

And ta da!  Christmas trees for your mantle...

And since I had some left over jute webbing I couldn't help but try this wreath idea I saw on Pinterest from Better Homes.  The steps here are so simple that I didn't even take any pictures.
 Here's what you'll need:
jute webbing
foam wreath forms (the white medium-size kind)
floral pins
scrap fabrics
jingle bells

All you do it pin the webbing onto the wreath where you want to start wrapping.  Then wrap tightly around the entire wreath form, pinning to secure at the end once you have it completely covered.  That's it.  There's no need to hot glue or pin along the way.  The texture of the webbing holds it into place nicely without any of that.

 The picture I saw on Pinterest tied a bow with the webbing and attached it to the wreath.  Jute webbing was originally intended for upholstery use to reinforce the bottom of furniture and therefore is very stiff.   Which means I didn't want to fool with trying to tie a bow.  So instead I made some rosettes (thank you to my moms bible study crafting leader Carrie for teaching me how to do this!) out of the bandana fabric I had left over from Parrish's birthday party and glued them on top of a piece of the left over ruffled/lime green geo fabric I had done for the Christmas trees.  Then I finished it off by hot gluing jingle bells hanging from yarn in between the bottom two rosettes.

 I made two to hang from each of the old doors we just installed on a barn door track on a bookcase in our living room and plan to paper clip or pin Christmas cards onto them as they arrive in our mailbox this season.  Pretty cute, huh?

And because I haven't posted since Halloween, I had to include some pictures of my boys all dressed up in their snake eyes black ninja and baby sushi costumes respectively.

 School hershey bar bat and mummy treats we made from this easy tutorial at Skip to My Lou.

 Baby sushi costume made using an easy martha stewart tutorial.
 Pure joy on both their this picture.  They had just carved our pumpkin after Parrish came home and informed us we had to do it because we only had one more night until Halloween.

Big brother is so proud of his baby brother.

And since I've covered all the other holidays, why not throw in some Thanksgiving too?  :)  Went to Parrish's Kindergarten Thanksgiving feast this morning to watch chief "Fire Lizard" perform a Thanksgiving song and it was too cute.

 Just love all these little friends.  Parrish is having such a great school year...learning a lot...
 and as you can see...playing a lot!

 I could just eat him with a spoon...
And his baby brother too for that matter!  Knox was all bundled up to go on a run with me this morning and I snapped this picture of him in his bunting and hat.  He's the best little jogging buddy there is...just one of the many Thanksgiving blessings we will be counting next week!