Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Children's Book Baby Shower

So when you tell an elementary teacher that she can throw you a children's book-themed baby shower, be prepared for her to go a little crazy.  Names like Eric Carle, Dr. Seuss, and Beatrix Potter send a teacher into a frenzy.  And don't get me started on Margaret Wise Brown... My sister had no idea how much fun we would have when she told my mom and I we could do this!

Here's a peek at the invite:
I just glued an off-white cardstock rectangle to a 5x7 piece of colored cardstock, used a clear sticker for the "Property of" words, and printed these personalized invite cards from Etsy onto blank 3x5 notecards to be slipped into the pocket that I had created.  So easy!  If you look at the invites on Etsy, you'll notice that our guests were encouraged to bring a favorite children's book in lieu of a card.  My new nephew got a GREAT start to his collection.  One of the reading teachers who came had the wonderful idea of going to the local used bookstore and picking out a great variety of picture books and chapter books so she could really expand this baby's library!  There are really too many great ones to just pick one.

And here's a peek at the shower:

The gift table

And then a different book theme for every guest table.  

Check out the fun, color-coordinating buttons my mom found for this table!

 And Wind and Willow dips for prizes.  YUM!!

Cute, right?  Now for the food...

Jam thumbprint cookies for Jamberry

Strawberries and chocolate dip for The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear

Blue and red goldfish for One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (They sell these for the Fourth of July!  How lucky is that?)

Deviled Eggs with parsley on top for Green Eggs and Ham (I could NOT have served green deviled eggs.  We have to draw a line somewhere.)

Carrots and herb dip for The Carrot Seed

Cheese in the shapes of bunnies and moons for Goodnight Moon (cause everyone knows the moon is made of cheese!)

And a caterpillar of veggies for The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Oh, and don't forget cookies and milk just in case the mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie drops by.

And if you think this spread looks crazy...

you should see our family at Christmas.

My mom helped me out by wrapping all the display boxes and picking up items for the guest and display tables that I didn't have among the kids' toys. 

We used squares of solid colored wrapping paper for the tables to give them a little extra color.

And you know the best part?  Since I've been crazy busy with the move, I got to pass on the ideas to my amazing mom, and then she took over and made all the food!  Talk about sweet deals!!!!

There's my beautiful mom.  And who is that adorable baby she's holding??  Oh, right.  That's my baby!!!  Clearly, she enjoyed the party.  And I think my sister did too.

Oh, and we played this game and a spin on Scategories where the ladies tried to think of a book title for each letter of the alphabet.  You want to know who won?  The two reading teachers in the room!  

And believe it or not, we had more ideas that we did not have time to get ready.  Oh well.  Next time, right?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


I impulse bought some decorative letters from Dayspring a couple months ago.  They were an amazing price, and I loved the message behind them.  REDEEMED.  It's what I am.  What Teacher man is.  What our family is.  We are redeemed at a great price from our bondage to sin and death.  We are redeemed to be the  children of God.  We are a mess.  But we are of great value to God.  So He chose to redeem us.  Amen.

The letters still sit in the box, waiting for us to be able to hang them in our new home.  I had no idea how much those words were going to mean across the entry to our home until today.  This is the first time in a long time that I have hit rock bottom.  It feels as if we are being attacked from every side, but for whatever reason I remembered those letters as I was trying to process all that's going on.

We are finding out one horrible thing after another about our new home.  A giant cement pad under the tile that should NOT be there.  Damaged drywall.  Incorrect plumbing.  Overbooked contractors.  Extra costs.  I find myself just waiting in discouragement for what they will find next.  How will this be redeemed?

Two relationships in my life right now are just broken.  Painfully broken.  How will this be redeemed?

Our two-day vacation this week was riddled with miscommunication and plagued by issues with the house via my cell phone.  What was supposed to be a pleasant trip together as a family ended up having far too many low points to be relaxing.  How will this be redeemed?

Our home is in bits and boxes.  For those of you who know me well, you know that disorder drives me bananas.  Better bring on the monkeys because nothing is where it normally is, and it won't be for a long time.  How will this be redeemed?

The van's brake system warning light just went on right before we were supposed to go on vacation.  My amazing mom came to the rescue and offered to let us take their vehicle, but I sit here and wonder what the mechanics will find when they inspect the brakes to the only vehicle in our family that can hold our whole family.  How will this be redeemed?

Right now, I am clinging to my hope in Christ by my fingernails.  Clinging to the truth of God's love for me, His hand in my life.  Desperately wanting to know how He will redeem each of these situations.  It seems like a horrible mess, like a nightmare really.  Unfortunately, I know I don't get to just wake up out of this one, nor will this story of redemption have a quick, happy ending.

I told a friend today that it feels like the pillars that I lean on most often are being kicked out from under me.  Family.  Friends.  Finances.  The only One left is the Rock on which I should have been wholly standing from the beginning.  My hope and my joy are surviving only because I know that He is in control.  He will work all things together for the good of His Kingdom because He is in the business of redemption.  Redeeming the messy.  The broken.  The hurt.  The ugly things of this world.  Redeeming them to bring about beauty, to refine me, and to remind us of what is truly eternal.

My response to the truth of His promise means that my hammer and nails are ready.  We will not be broken.  Our home, our lives, these hurts will be redeemed.  And that word will proclaim our faith in His power of all circumstances will hang over the entrance to our home.  We have been and all these momentary troubles will be REDEEMED.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Possessing Two Hands

I don't blog much anymore.  Okay... I don't finish a blog post very often.  I start a lot of posts... in my head.  Yep.  I've blogged at least two dozen times in the last few months... in my head... normally in my shower since it's the only semi-quiet place in my house between the hours of  7 a.m. and 8 p.m.  You know the frustrating part about blogging in your head?  No one reads it.  No one relates to it.  It's not really blogging.  Blogging requires two hands working together.  I really don't possess two hands.  I'm pretty sure that my daughter has commandeered my left arm.

I'd love to get these posts down.  There are so many moments of these days with little Laura that I want to capture for all time.  Like today when she rolled herself under her brothers bunk beds because her ever-responsible parents were wrestling with her brothers like a pair of hooligans.  And she was not happy when I had to fish her back out of the dark kingdom that is the underside of her brothers' bed.  Or the fact that she loves her daddy.  I mean, flat out, LOVES him.  Smiles when he comes in a room.  Leans for him to grab her.  Falls asleep in his arms just cause he's holding her.  And I'm all like, "Seriously! I spend hours trying to get you to sleep and you just drift off for your dad!?  Where is the justice in that?!?"  There is no justice for parents in parenting.  That's hard for me.  Really hard.

Tonight Miss Laura is five months old.  FIVE.  Yep.  We've had our beautiful daughter for almost half a year.  I'd like to share with you now how I have become some kind of amazing warrior mother who can simultaneously cook, feed a baby, answer a phone, and speak calmly to the misbehaving children who are beating each other with Thomas trains; but here's the truth: I have discovered that there is a limit to how much I can multi-task.  There is also a limit to the amount of chaos I can currently handle before I blow my top.  I'm proud to say that I can take a lot more than I could five months ago, but there still is a limit.  And when I'm about at that limit with no reinforcements in sight, Amazon Prime becomes my best friend.  Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, anyone?  That's the truth.  Anyone out there feel better now?

That said, life with three children is immeasurably rich.  Watching them love each other.  Listening to the boys making Laura laugh in the back of the van.  Spying on my sons' secret plots via the baby monitor.  Hearing Ben sing his own version of "Old McDonald/Mary Had a Little Lamb/BINGO."  You didn't know those could be made into one song did you?  They can. Having Ben pray for God to change his heart.  I wouldn't trade any of them for the world.

You might ask, "How is she blogging now?"  Well, we are just entering a new phase of life with three.  Laura is far more independent and sleeps much more predictably.  And (da da da daaaaa) Teacher Man is home for the summer!!!  I'm pretty sure that the entire neighborhood heard me cheering when he came home for the summer to help with the monkeys... I mean, children.

The next few weeks start a new journey.  Our Family... under construction.  That's right.  We're going to be tackling several demo projects at the new house over the next few weeks... new flooring, a bathroom remodel, a closet remodel, etc.... You get the idea.  Several plates all spinning at the same time. My brain feels like it's going to explode, but a month from now I hope we're really glad we took on all these crazy projects.

I just wanted to have this moment of honesty with you.  There are dirty bottles in my sink.  Small toy cars all over my kitchen floor.  Paper shreds in the family room.  And laundry waiting to be put away throughout the house.  The boys room looks like a toy store exploded, and I have no idea what's for dinner.  These are jobs to tackle in a normal week, but the next month will be anything but normal.  So normal standards are gone, and a new normal is beginning to take shape and to shape us.  May it transform us into the image of Christ.  May we reflect the love of God rather than the selfishness of this world. And may this season of change reveal the Kingdom to us in a new way as we remember Who is truly in control.