Thursday, March 31, 2011

Time for the Ultimate Blog Party!

It's that time of year again: Ultimate Blog Party Time!

In case you haven't heard of the Ultimate Blog Party, it's a great big Blog Hop hosted by 5 Minutes of Mom which provides a great opportunity for bloggers to get to know each other and check out new blogs.  It's a lot of fun and you can meet some great friends.  And win some wonderful prizes through 5 Minutes for Mom.

If you're landing here through UBP '11, Creative2xmom has been around for just over three years.  I love inspiring my readers through creative gift ideas, yummy recipes in the kitchen, and weekly date night challenges.  As the year has turned, it's truly been on my heart to encourage other women in passionately Following Jesus and growing healthy families.

Want just the facts?

1. I love any combination of Chocolate and Peanut Butter!  Heavenly!

2. Our family loves Disneyland!

3. I'm an outdoors kind of girl.  Growing up in the mountains will do that to you.

4. I have two little ones at home, but it's my kitty Annie that rules the house.

5. My son is the crazy one.

6. I love creating fun surprises for our friends and family.

7. Having a little girl is so much more fun that I ever imagined.

8. I love to read.  I've been very privileged to give away some great books lately and there's more to come!

9. I {Heart} Nap Time!

10.  I wanna get to know you!  I'm excited that you've landed here, so be sure to introduce yourself.  I'm so excited to chat with you and see your little piece of the internet as well.  Be sure to leave a comment and let me know how to find you.

Other places you'll find Creative2xmom:

So pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee (with peppermint mocha creamer, of course), and take a look around.  And don't forget to say hi!  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

52 First Dates: Week Forty-Two

How was your date last week?  Did you have a fun sleepover?

Hubby and I had a good time.  I thought about taking pictures, but it was too late.  We loaded up on some adult snacks (a good bottle of wine and carmel bugles), dug out the Scattergories, and pulled up some Cosby's on Netflix.   I love board games like Scattergories.  They bring up some great conversations and tend to stir up a lot of laughter.  It's a great way to build memories and still gain some wonderful insight into your spouse.  Taboo is another good conversation starter, both games that are older and easier to find cheaply.

Are you ready for a new challenge?

This week we're crossing the border.  We're going to Mexico!

What does that look like?

It can be something as simple as a lunch date at Taco Bell or something as full fledged as a three course home cooked meal.  We love Mexican food (heck, we love food!) so I'm looking forward to this one.

*Love Enchiladas?  Check out this one: Chicken Enchiladas
*Looking to go diet conscious?  Check out these: Fish Tacos
*Here are a few others:
Mexican Posole Lasagna
Pan Roasted Venison with Spicy Cranberry Mexican Cinnamon Sauce

*Desert: Mexican Rhubarb Chocolate Chunk Brownies
Mexican Style Chocolate Fondue
fruit fruit and Coconut frozen yogurt

Now that food is taken care of, pick up a cheap beach ball at the dollar store and write your invitation in dry erase marker.  Invite him on a cruise through Mexico.  Later greet him in your bathing suit with a yummy margarita.

*Lay out beach towels and build "sand" castles with Lego blocks.
*No need for sunscreen indoors... why not break out the massage oil?
*Put on some beachy music... Love the beach boys!

Also found this great virgin Pina Colada recipe (haven't tried it yet):
7 oz pineapple juice
2 oz coconut cream
and 1 c. crushed ice

Looking for a movie to round out your evening:
The Mexican
My Family Wedding

Have fun on your date this week!

Easter Basket Fillers

March is quickly coming to an end and April is nearly upon us.  It's hard to believe that spring has arrived already.  If it weren't for the calendar reminding me that the weeks are flying by, I wouldn't believe it myself.  Weren't we just celebrating Christmas?

I sat down the other day to do some planning for Easter.  And at the top of the list was Easter baskets.  I've already been picking up little things here and there.  I don't think Easter has to be overkill on gifts.  Just a little something for the thrill.  My kids' favorite items last year were the used books from the library sale.

But to get all our creative juices going, here are a few ideas for filling those Easter baskets this year:

Babies and toddlers:
Swim diapers
Bath books
Colors and coloring books
Dress up
Craft items
Towel and swimsuit
Bubble machine and bubbles

School age:
Jump Rope
Dress up
Craft items
Diving Sticks
Towel and swimsuit
Gardening tools
Craft items

Gardening tools
Scarf and earrings
Journal and pretty pen
Craft items

For all ages:
Gift certificates

What special surprises are you planning for your kids this year?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Made by Me Monday

Hi Everyone,
How was your week?  Have you been up to fun and adventures with your family and friends?

We had a good week.  I was a week that ended up looking nothing like what the calendar said.  So we were definately practicing flexibility in our house last week.  Noah was off on a field trip on Thursday so Lydia and I joined him.  It was quite an adventure being in a public place with six little ones in tow.  It simply reminded me that the Lord certainly knew what he was doing in not making me the mom of sextuplets.  

Our weekend flew by.  The sun finally broke through about mid morning on Saturday.  It was a nice relief since we've had so much hail and rain.  Still Sunday morning brought back the rain.  We shall live. Summer is coming with it's 100 + degree temps so I'm soaking up all the homemade soup I can right now.  I'm thinking of posting my menus again.  What do you think?

Last week, we tried two new wonderful Korean beef dishes.  I love exploring new foods and these have been on my list for awhile.  I'll share them with you later this week.

Let's start partying.  Write a blog post highlighting your project with a link back here so that others can join in on the fun.  Then link up below to the blog post itself.  You can post more than one project; just add more than one link.  So let's start partying!

Lee's To Do List

Finding the End of Not Me (@ Raising Homemakers) from a sixteen year old?  Seriously convicting.  You have to read it!

Loving these Vintage Paper Doll Tea Party Cakes (@ Queen of Arts Cakes).  Would make a great addition to a Paper Doll party.

In a summer mood?  Why not include these Pink Lemonade Party Favors (@ Twin Dragonfly Designs)?  Great gift for a friend as well.

I love the idea of recycling my own materials and trying these No Cost Dryer Balls (@ Back to Basics Lifestyle).  Has anyone tried these?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mama's Chicken Noodle Soup

We're still in the throws of a chilly winter.  The calendar has turned to spring, but the rain continues.  In fact, we got a second dose of hail this past Monday.  I had to laugh at my kids.  The word hail means nothing to them as they raced out to play in the "snow."

So my meal plans are still including lots of homemade soups.  There's few things I love more than a simmering pot of soup with a piece of crusty bread at the end of the day.

Wanna make it even better?  Find a way to make it in the crockpot.

That's how Mama's Chicken Noodle Soup came about.  A way to prepare a rich, warm homemade soup in minutes that could cook throughout the day and be ready when we needed it.  In fact, this makes a wonderful soup to prepare on a Sunday morning and have ready for guests after church.  With all it's flavors and nutrition, this soup is perfect for stretching the budget and still extending hospitality in your home.
Mama's Chicken Noodle Soup

*1-2 large chicken breasts, cubed
*3-4 carrot sticks, sliced
*2-3 celery stocks, sliced
*2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
*1/2 of a softball sized onion, diced
*2 tsp oregano
*2 tsp basil
*8 cups chicken broth
*2 cups corn
*1 sm bundle of bok choy
*egg noodles to taste (we like a lot)
*salt and pepper to taste

*Heat broth slightly in crockpot while you prepare the vegetables.
*Add vegetables (except bok choy), seasoning, and chicken.  Set on low for 4-6 hrs.
*Add bok choy approx. 30 min before serving.  Prepare noodles on stove top.
*Add noodles to soup and season with salt and pepper.

Perfect way to end a drizzly day.  Enjoy!

Cooking with Clara.. love it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

52 First Dates: Week Forty-One

How are you feeling about dating your spouse lately?  Did you show him how lucky you are to have him last week?  We all love to hear that we're appreciated and I'm sure your spouse felt the same way.  I'd love to hear how you creatively used this topic last week.  Be sure to share your ideas in the comments below.

Are you ready for this week's challenge?

We're going to have a SLUMBER PARTY!

That's right: a slumber party!  I haven't been to one of those since jr. high and remember how much fun they used to be.  The perfect excuse to eat junk food, watch movies, stay up late, and spend time talking in hushed whispers.

Here's the game plan:

*Make sure you send a fun creative invitation to your husband at least the morning before.  Have the fun of a date is the anticipation.

*Stock up on your favorite snacks.  I love salty popcorn, my husband loves Jr. Mints and we'll both eat any candy that involves both chocolate and peanut butter.  And don't forget soda.  (This is NOT a date for dieting)

*Raid the game closet.  Trivial Pursuit, Scattergories, and Sequence are all on my list.  I might even raid the kid's closet for a few other: Operation, Hands Down, etc.  But if you haven't started a game closet yet, even a deck of cards can be fun.  Unfortunately we've had to ban Rummy in this house 'cause we're both too competitive.  :-)

*Pick a classic movie you both love or something you've been waiting to see.  Make sure you keep your spouse's taste in mind as well.

*Snuggle under the covers.  The night is up to you.  Snuggle in bed, lay sleeping bags out in the living room, or pitch a tent in the back yard if you live in a warmer climate.

*And what's a slumber party without pancakes the next morning?  Pancakes aren't your thing?  Pick something you can prepare together.

How's your dating life?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stewarding your Story: Seeing the Supernatural

Seemed like we live in the "Show Me" generation.  We're seeking for sign, miracles, and wonders.  If God can't sky write it for us in a rainbow of colors, it doesn't exist.  In a world that's become more and more skeptical, we look deeper for the supernatural.

What if were right in front of us?

What if we looked at our stories through a new pair of lenses?

Here we are in our ordinary lives with our average every day thoughts striving through our day to day battles.  Learning to love our spouses, learning to parent our children, learning to communicate with our co-workers, trying with everything in us to be better than we were the day before.

And to a degree we're successful.

We can go to counseling with our spouses, read books about our children, go to work seminars, read how-to books... there are a bizillion of them.  And keep racing from one thing to another, hoping that somehow it will all add up to ... well, we're not even entirely sure what we're striving for, but if effort can do it, we're going to be the best there is.

Till we get tired...

    Till our schedules get too full...

        Till we come to end of ourselves!

            And that's where the supernatural steps in....

That's the moment when the Creator of the Universe whispers quietly in our ear...


Are you looking still looking for that supernatural, life-changing, earth-shattering event in your story that will make it feel worthy of telling?  What about this... that moment when you came to the end of yourself and God reached down in his fullness of mercy and grace and ...


If you're still looking for the supernatural in your story, can it not be that the Lord of all things

    SEES YOU...

        KNOWS YOU...

            DESIRES YOU!

Our stories are not our own.  Rather they are part of a larger picture, illustrating the passionate desire of a God pursuing us in our own humanity.  Our stories are a voice of how the heavenly realm intervenes in our earthly lives, colliding in an all out battle to reunite humanity with its Creator.

Do you still feel you have an unworthy story to tell?  Are you still seeking the supernatural?

Change your lenses... and Speak Fearlessly!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Made by Me Monday

Hey guys,
How was your weekend?  Did you spend it in the yard or at the craft table?  Or just out running around with the kids?

It rained here all weekend.  ALL WEEKEND!  It's been cold, drizzly, and rainy.  I feel like we're still adjusting to this time change and still dragging a little.  And this winter weather hanging on hasn't helped.  I've been trying to keep the kids busy, but I'm running out of indoor activities.  We've done lots of watercolors, lots of play-doh, and lots of board games.

So most of my creativity has been in the kitchen.  I love cooking and it seems like lately, cooking has been my creative outlet.  And since we've all been sick, I made a big batch of my famous Chicken Noodle Soup.  It was so yummy.  I think I've finally dialed the recipe in and can't wait to share it with you later this week.  

But for now, let's start partying.  Write a blog post highlighting your project with a link back here so that others can join in on the fun.  Then link up below to the blog post itself.  You can post more than one project; just add more than one link.  So let's start partying!

Lee's To Do List

I wanna make these Chicken Chimichangas (@ The Mother Huddle).  The photos have me drooling.

Love this Pretend Mail Carrier set (@ 12 Crafts Till Christmas).  Wouldn't this be so much fun in a dress up box?

Being challenged by How to Hold On When Your World Shakes (@ A Holy Experience).  Ann always keeps me questioning.

Could this Chocomole (@ Ciao-Chow) really be that good?  My interest is definately peaked.  Up for the challenge?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rolled Flower Hair Clips

Recently I was looking for an inexpensive gift, maybe something I could use myself as well.  As much as I love creating, even the small things can add up quickly.  So I was looking for a way to utilize what I already had available.  

Looking around the garage, I realized I have a big of leftover material.  But what was I going to do with it?  Then I remembered seeing a rolled flower topiary and this rolled flower necklace.  And I thought, how else could we use this idea?

That's where this idea came from.  Really these rolled flowers are so versatile, you could do just about anything with them.  I decided to make some hair clips.  Here's what you need:

Material you'll need:
Strips of fabric about 2-3 inches wide by 18 inches long (longer produces larger flowers)
Coordinating felt
Hot glue or fabric stitch 
Hair clip backs

My strips were a little wide so I started by folding them over and ironing them.
Clean up a few of the rough edges.
I liked mine about 2 in wide.

Start by rolling the end of your material into a tight rosette.
Add a little glue or fabric stitch to keep your shape.

After the initial rosette, experiemnt with twisting the fabric as you wrap.
Tuck it at an angle for one look.
Or twist and wrap for another.
I did mostly twisting, but added an angle every couple of turns.

Glue a piece of felt to the back to hold the flower shape.
Add hair clip or pin backing.
You can layer a couple of flowers as well for another look.

I love the way this one turned out.
Made for a super easy, super inexpensive accessory.

How are you using what you have?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Where do we turn?

You ever have one of those days?  The sink is full of dishes, the cat spilled the water bowl, the phone is ringing, kids are waiting to get dressed, and someone's at the door.  And all you can think in your head is, "When will my world stop spinning?"  And out of your mouth comes the words, "Is it nap time yet?"  Or maybe out of your mouth comes something worse?

I had one of those days recently.  I got about four hours of sleep till Lydia started throwing up.  We ended up on the couch, jumping up every 30 minutes or so to race to the bathroom.  And all I could think the whole way there was "please don't let me step in puke."

And all I could think on the way back to the couch was what a miserable mother I was for thinking about myself rather than just being in the moment with my daughter.

So my sweet husband gets Noah ready for school, I call and cancel the appointment I had that morning, the dishwasher is loaded and running, a load of puke laundry is started, and Noah and hubby head out the door to school.  And Lydia and I snuggle down in the couch to try and get a few minutes sleep.

But wait.  My husband's back ten minutes later with a malfunctioning car and a 5 year old in the backseat that still hasn't made it to school.  Hubby's been called into work early, has to take Noah to school, has to get to work, and how in the world am I going to pick him up later?

And all this before I've even thought of breakfast, ... let alone a cup of coffee.

My head is spinning.  My thoughts are spinning.  And all I want to do is crawl back under the covers and shout at the world to go away.  This day is too much for me.  This morning is meant to be over.

What now?



And pray some more!

Now, before you click off this link because you I'm over spiritualizing and oversimplifying, think about it.  Where else can you go?  Who else can you turn to?

When I'm at the end of my patience, where will I go?

When my love for my family is wearing thin, who will sustain me?

When I'm drowning in my own perspective, how will I find my vision?


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

52 First Dates: Week Forty

Did this week age you?  How was your glimpse into the future?

How were your artistic skills?  :-)

We didn't get to this past date night.  For some reason, our week felt like it was just jam packed.  I've felt like that ever since Christmas came and went.  We've been busy, busy, busy.  We've gotta get back into our date night groove.  Anyone else feeling like you're in a slump?

Are you ready for this week's challenge?

With such a serious date last week, let's have a little fun.  Prepare something for your man to show him how "lucky" you really are to have him in your life.  Pick up some Lucky Charms, or make some Rainbow Cupcakes or Rainbow Popsicles.  Print up some "lucky" coupons for your hubby: back massage, favorite dessert, pass for dish washing duty, or maybe something really "lucky."  And for your movie treat, why not check out Leap Year?

Quick, easy, nearly zero budget... perfect date for getting back into routine.

How lucky are you?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rainbow Popsicles

These are so much fun and absolutely yummy.
I wish I had some better pictures to share with you, but really who can resist this little girl?

So sweet!

Mix 1 box of pudding (cheesecake or vanilla)
Divide into 3-4 smaller containers
Add food coloring, to desired color
Layer in molds and freeze

Go Wild!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Play it Again, Mama: Rainbow Cupcakes

I came across these rainbow cupcakes some time in the fall and thought, "What a great idea!" We've found so many uses for them already, besides the fact that they're just fun all around. The kids and I had a few parties to attend around St. Patrick's Day so these were our rainbow dessert. And they loved it!

They are actually very simple to make and absolutely stunning when they're done. I felt like a little kid when we made them.

You'll need:
1 box cake mix (I used yellow; super moist)
Food coloring

1. Follow the directions on the box for making the cake batter (eggs, water, oil, etc).

2. Divide your batter into several glass bowls and dye with food coloring.
I used the regular stuff you get in the supermarket, but the Wiltons would come out more colorful. I had a hard time getting a true green. You want 5-6 different colors.

Aren't they pretty? My kids loved seeing all the colors like this.

3. Start spooning your batter into your cupcake liners. Start with one color and add colors one by one, offsetting the colors as you go.

4. Bake according to directions on box. Cool on a wire rack.

5. Don't forget the frosting and rainbow sprinkles!

6. Take the wrapper off and admire them for a moment.
Fun aren't they?

7. Break them open to find super pretty color.

We loved these! I've been trying to think of other excuses to make them: holiday parties, family reunions, Girl Scouts, St. Patrick's Day. I have a friend who is planning a Wizard of Oz birthday party and I think these would be an excellent addition. Do you think I could talk one of my kids into a Wizard of Oz party? Hum...

Made by Me Monday

Hey gang,
How was your weekend?  Rainy or sunny?  Did you spend the weekend in the yard or at the craft table?  Or maybe celebrating a birthday?

We ran down to my sister in law's for part of the weekend.  It was my mother in law's birthday so we went down to have dinner with the family.  We've been used to this cold stormy weather, but this weekend turned out gorgeous.  It was sunny and warm.  Beautiful spring weather.

While we were there, we also spent some time looking for a new van.  Our little CRV has been good to us, but it was getting a little small for our family.  So we did lots of looking.  You wouldn't believe some of the lemons we tried out this week.  We literally started one and instantly heard the rattle and smelled the smoke.  It was bad.

But we did find something.  It was the end of the day so we were a little late for dinner, but we got it done. Ended up being a pretty productive weekend.

Earlier in the week, I worked on some new hair "pretties."  I can't wait to share them with you later this week.  My daughter's been dying to get her hand on one.

Ready to get started sharing?  Write a blog post highlighting your project with a link back here so that others can join in on the fun.  Then link up below to the blog post itself.  You can post more than one project; just add more than one link.  So let's start partying!

Lee's To Do List

I've had this Washer Necklace (@ Blue Cricket Design) on my bookmark list for a year.  And I still love it.  I think it's about time I get around to making this one.

Um... I'm dreaming of summer with this Key Lime Pie Ice Cream recipe (@ Red Couch Recipes).  Especially since it's made with reduced fat ingredients.

I really want to make one of these Teacup Bird Feeders (@ Cap Creations).  I have the teacup in the garage, but don't have a ceramic drill.  Any ideas?

Are you looking to add facebook to your blog?  Check out this article for How to: Add Facebook Connect to your Blog (@ Mashable).

Here's a great group of Cute Hair Things (@ Dollar Store Crafts).  Lydia would love those popsicle clips.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Book Club: Ministry of Motherhood: Chp 19-20

Chapter 19: Serving with Hardworking Hands

Clarkson takes through the idea that serving others involves a lot of hard work.  No wiggling our way out of this one.  Service is work.  How often do we find ourselves inspired and excited, only to realize that the reality is hard work?  That's not a bad thing, just a reality that we need to be aware of.  And something that we need to make our children aware of in order for them to be successful as well.

We all desire to follow the Lord, but often times find "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt 26:41).  It's through personal discipline, lots of prayer, and loads of grace that we are able to cultivate our own hardworking attitudes that can then serve as shining examples for our children.  As Clarkson puts it: "As our child hear our words of instruction to reach out humbly to other in need and as we discipline them to persevere and do things right, they will learn a pattern of hard work that will enhance their witness and bring stability to their lives.  and yet it will be in the example of our own persevering faithfulness, patience and trust in the Lord that our children will learn to do the work of compassionate servants (pg 201).

I would add to this a joyful heart, although that's for another time.  Even though it's hard work and not always enjoyable, serving with a joyful heart come from serving in the Lord's strength, not our own.

*Try to think of some people you meet every day-- in your church, your neighborhood, etc--who could use some love and care.  Come up with a plan to help minister to those people's needs together.  (Your children's ideas may surprise and challenge you.)

Chapter 20: Serving in God's Strength

Clarkson opens the final chapter about her own children's struggle to find their way.  As her son struggled with his own fears and limitations, she and her husband give him the space to make a decision about participating in an upcoming conference.  They kept their opinions to themselves and instead encouraged him to pray about it.  She makes the following statement: "In the end, the measure of my success as a mother will not be how well I have taught my kids or cared for them but whether I have been faithful in helping them respond to God's call on their lives" (208-09).  

That just absolutely hit me.  It puts it all into perspective, doesn't it?  The to-do list, the endless schedule, the dishes and laundry, the variety of appointments... it all becomes clear when you put it in that context.  I might be making healthy meals for my family, running them to activities, eliminating all the BPA's and chemicals in my home, but if I'm too busy to encourage them in Christ, what have I accomplished as mom?

Being a mom can be a thankless job.  There's little to show for your time, and what we do isn't measurable by normal standards.  There's no promotions, no certificates of recognition, no employee of the month luncheon.  It can be lonely, discouraging, and tiresome if measured by the world's standards.  But if we can raise kids who respond to God's call, we've done our job as parents.  Sounds like such a simple thing, but guaranteed it will take us a lifetime to remember that truth for ourselves, let alone teach it to our children.  

*Read Luke 15:1-7.  In this passage, what was the attitude of the Pharisee and the scribe about "sinners"?  What does Jesus' story indicate about how God feels about "sinners" or "lost sheep"?  Make a list of people that your family can pray for and seek to reach out to.  Choose one and pray together regularly for this person.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cooking on St. Patrick's Day

We love food in our house.  I mean LOVE food.  My kids are adventurous eaters, I love looking through new cook books, and my poor husband, well he just hangs on for the journey.  I'm lucky to be married to such a man who lets me have crazy experiments in my kitchen.

One of my favorite ways to cook is through traditions surrounding the holidays.  So St Patrick's Day is a fun one to play up. Typically we have Corned Beef and Cabbage Salad.  This year I think we might try out one of these Irish Stew recipes.  whatever you plan for the day, I hope this gives you some inspiration for creating your own St. Patrick's Day traditions.

And of course, Rainbow Cupcakes.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I Spy Book

If there's one thing my kids love, it's I Spy books.  Noah's been picking them up since he was three and never seems to tired of looking through them.  Through the years we've collected Waldo, I spy, Disney Princesses, Toy Story, ... you name it... we've probably got the I Spy book in our house.  

So when Valentine's Day hit our house last month, I saw free material for a new book.  If you're looking closely, there's a lot of material in those little cards and they can make a great new I Spy.  Just cut your basic pages, cut and adhere your Valentine pieces, and add the clues.  I also laminated ours, but that's just optional.  However, with the use that we've gotten out of these already, it's been well worth it.

How are you "reinventing" items in your house?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

52 First Dates: Week Thirty-Nine

How was your date this week?  Did you and your man have a great time?  As the spring is coming, it's nice to give a farewell note to winter.  And what a great excuse to snuggle up under a blanket.  Hope you had fun this week!

Are you ready for a new challenge?

This week let's take a look into the future and dream of growing old together.  Ready for a good laugh?  Have you ever thought about what each other will look like in 50 years?  You might have to have some thick skin for this one, but wouldn't it be fun to sketch out your image of each other?  Will your spouse have laugh lines or frown lines (Ok, make sure you do this when you're not fighting)?  Will he be bald or have a full head of hair?  Remember to have a sense of humor.  I can't draw for anything and my husband knows that so our expectations aren't high.  Just sounds like fun.

After you've had a great laugh, spend some time talking about what you want your relationship to look in 50 years.  Where will you be?  What will you have done in the past 50 years?  What will you do to keep your relationship healthy and strong?  Challenge your spouse: Grow Old With Me!

How's your dating life?

Book Club: Ministry of Motherhood: Chp 17-18

Chapter 17: Compassionate Harvest--A Model for Service

This chapter opens with a retelling of Jesus' famous words: "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few."  Clarkson does her customary storytelling to set the scene: weary disciples questioning their future, a Savior desperate to use every moment, and an "AHA!"moment when all is revealed.  She applies this story to the motherhood mission with these words: "Giving our children the gift of service is not really a matter of teaching what to do.  It's more a matter of helping them look at other people through Jesus' eyes and respond as he did (pg 181)."

She goes on to talk about how "strategic" our Christian walk has become, to the point where we often overlook the mundane tasks that can mean just as much.  The following observation was made on page 183: "Yet, I can't help but think that one reason Christianity has lost influence is that Christians have not found it convenient to respond to real needs the way Jesus did-- ministering to real people, teaching God's Word, and serving people humbly and lovingly."  How are we demonstrating this to our children?  In those moments when their needs are very real to them, how are we responding?

And into the world outside our doors, how are we including our children in ministering to others?  Even with young children, opportunities abound.  From feeding the homeless man on the street, to participating in a coat drive, to reaching out in your own neighborhood, there are so many opportunities if we will take the time to pray for open eyes.  It often won't be convenient, but it will always be worthwhile.

*Jesus never asks us to do what he has not already been willing to do.  John 15:13 states the Lord's definition of the greatest love a person could give.  How did he show this kind of love for us?  If you strive to follow his example, how would it change the way you parent your children?

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends--John 15:13

Parenting from this perspective always requires us to lay down our own agendas.  For me, it requires laying down my time frame.  I'm a doer.  I wanna get things done, get them done now and more on.  But including kids in ministry is messy.  It takes time.  It requires us to lay down our agendas because we're not just getting a job done, but we're also disciplining them in both the task and in how they view others.

*Name three ways in which you have laid down your own life (goals, time or expectations) for your children.  In what specific areas do your children need to learn how to lay down their own lives and expectations so they can become mature and ready to serve God?

3 Ways-- Time constraints, time to write, "motherhood perfection"

Chapter 18: Serving with a Willing Heart

Clarkson shares a story in which she asked her children to serve in a community outreach.  Her boys were having a pity party and didn't want an part of it.  However, upon returning home, they realized the had a wonderful time, and God used their own unique personalities to bless others.  Her philosophy is not to shame her kids for their natural selfishness (or shyness, or personality traits), but rather to encourage them into places of seeing God move.

I'm still mulling on that one.  It's a fine line we walk between shame and encouragement.  While this wasn't her point, it does requires wisdom on our part.

*In Luke 10:30-37, Jesus tells the parable of the good Samaritan.  Read this story to your children.  Ask them why the Samaritan, who was not a religious Jew, was considered to be the one who did God's will.    What does this teach about how God wants us to act in our daily lives?

So my question is... how is your parenting changing (being challenged, being proven) in light of our reading?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Made by Me Monday

Hi everyone,

Has spring arrived in your part of the country?  It's slowly making it's way here.  I noticed a couple of nights ago that it was getting dark later.  Wow!  Where has this year gone?

Don't get me wrong.  I'm still freezing.  The cold seems to really be hanging on this year, despite the week of warm weather we had in January.  Now, we're back to waiting on spring.  But there are signs of it here and there.  More time to ride bikes after school, less wrapping up in a blanket while the kids play in the backyard, more thoughts of coming summer.

I had a great weekend.  Once a year, I try to get away with my mom and do a scrapbooking weekend.  This was that weekend.  We go away, spread all our stuff out, and have a wonderful time.  We laugh, look at pictures, stay up way too late, and just have a great time getting away.  I was able to get a ton of pages done, and work on a few other little projects that keep getting pushed to the the side.  And best yet, I got to sleep in!  Yeah!

I love this weekend and look forward to it for months.  A chance to be away and just do something I love.  So much fun.  

Ready to get started sharing?  Write a blog post highlighting your project with a link back here so that others can join in on the fun.  Then link up below to the blog post itself.  You can post more than one project; just add more than one link.  So let's start partying!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lee's To Do List

First Sunday of the Month and it's Party Planning Time:

Check out these cute Rainbow Party Ideas (@ Kara's Party Ideas).  Perfect for an updated Rainbow Brite Party or just a spring get together.

Such sweet ideas for a Tea Party (@ Me and My Insanity).  Looks like a fun idea for the spring break coming up.

This is a stunning UP Party (@ Wendy Updegraff Photography).  My son would be out of his mind to throw this party.

Here's another one: Classic Boy Campout Party (@ Moore Minutes).  This would be super fun for a fall birthday.

I am in love with doing this Modern Garden Party Dessert Table (@ The Party Dress).  What a wonderful idea for getting together with the girls this spring.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Book Club: Ministry of Motherhood: Chp 15-16

Chapter 15: Training Children to Pray Effectively

Clarkson opens the chapter by sharing a story of how her family came together to pray during an important part of their lives.  Afterwards, her youngest child questioned why she should prayer knowing that she's not going to always get what she prays for.  Clarkson's response was that prayer encourages conversation and closeness with the Father.

As I was reading this chapter (and Clarkson mentions it as well), I was reminded of how many times we see Jesus' praying in the gospels.  Often we catch glimpses of him getting away to pray.  Particularly as he drew strength in the garden where he was betrayed (Matt. 26:42).  If Christ (who was God himself), relied so heavily on prayer, who are we to not do the same?

Prayer works miracles in our lives.  It keeps us going back to God and remembering that we don't have it all together.  Every time I pray I'm reminded that my abilities are so limited and God is the one who provides my strength.  And if I'm going to pass this knowledge on to my children, I'd better be modeling a healthy prayer life.  I'd better be willing to pray with my children and answer their questions in this area.

*Hebrews 12:11 basically admits that discipline is not fun; in the short term, it brings sorrow instead of joy.  But what does it say is the long-term result of this process of discipline?  Can you think of issues with your children where you tend to back off from discipline because the process is so uncomfortable?  List two ways in which you will strengthen your approach to loving discipline this month.  Ask for God's help and perhaps enlist the help of a friend to keep you accountable for this.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it--Hebrews 12:11

I have a hard time disciplining the bickering and arguing.  Both because it's uncomfortable and because I'm just not sure what to do with it (any advice would be wonderful here).
Two of the things we've been working on in this area:
1. Getting on our kid's level when explaining to them
2. Asking them to encourage each other in a task, placing them in a position of teamwork

*As training in prayer, study the Lord's Prayer with your children.  Go through each line and discuss what it means.  Help them memorize it.  Then say the prayer together each morning or every night before you go to bed.

Chapter 16: Training Children for Tribulation

As moms I think we all want to protect our children.  Sure, I know that their difficulties will only build their character stronger.  But when troubles come their way, in the deepest part of my heart, it pains me to see them struggle.  I want to make things better for them and smooth out the rougher patches of life.

Still, as we live in a fallen world, troubles are inevitable.  Sometimes as a result of their own choices, sometimes just because this world is not perfect.  As mothers, part of our job is training our children to be ready when those times come.  And as Christian mothers, it becomes even more important for us to train our children in relying on God during those times.

One of the ways we can teach our children is by acknowledging that suffering is a part of our Christian walk (Matthew 10:38-39).  If we turn our back on this truth, if we smooth life over for our kids, if we deny that suffering is a part of life, we do them an injustice.  I don't want to raise kids that are so "surprised" by tribulations that they don't know how to bounce back.

*Think of some times when you've had the urge to step into a situation that was difficult for your children and "fix" it for them.  What happened?  What are some ways you can train your children to cope with trouble in a godly, mature manner?

Please feel free to share in the comments.  I love hearing how you're being challenged in motherhood.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Flower Headband

Have you seen those cute little flower headbands all over the internet and in the boutiques?  They come in a variety of colors and dress up an outfit with little effort.  And just a little something to make me feel feminine in my mom jeans?  Priceless!

I set out to put one together this weekend and realized just how simple they really are.  Plus with dollar store material, how can you go wrong?  Here's how to get started:

You'll need:
*flowers of your choice
*headbands ($ store sells them in packages of 3)
*coordinating felt
*coordinating ribbon (optional)
*hot glue

1. Disassemble petals on the flower and restack.  In the above photo, I took apart 3 larger flowers and 3 smaller flowers.  Hot glue layers together.

2. (Optional) You can wrap your headband in coordinating ribbon at this point.  Just add a little glue on the ends and as you go along to adhere.

3. Cut a small circle or square of coordinating felt.  Apply glue to the base of the flower and attach to headband.  Adhere felt to the back side of the flower with more glue.

Was that easy or what?  You can add more flowers and embellishments as you go.  I like the one flower look, but you can go as crazy as you want. Pull your hair into a messy bun, add your headband and your ready to go.

Now how to you feel in those mom jeans?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

52 First dates: Week Thirty-Eight

So how was your date last week?

My prayer is that these challenges... these moments... these conversations would strengthen your marriage. That checking 52 First Dates each week wouldn't just SOUND like a good idea.  But rather that you'd put the ideas into practice and allow this time to really bring the two of you closer together.

A good marriage is a lot of work.  A great one is consuming.  But what better gift to give your family... and a world that is desperate to see healthy marriages.

So are you ready? Here comes this week's challenge.

Is this weather giving anyone else cabin fever? I certainly have. Why not turn it around and have a little fun with the season? Let's have a Winter Wonderland date.

Break out some of those Christmas lights (you knew they still were put away for some reason), drap some along the mantel, and add some candles.

Every good date needs food. Pick up some hot chocolate and add some apple nachos. Or whatever snack is unique to you. How about caramel apples? Or some of those girl scout thin mints, straight from the freezer(trust me, they're fantastic.

Do you have a Winter movie you love? Serendipity? While you were sleeping? Cool Runnings?  Be as creative as you'd like and play it up on the Winter theme.

Oh, and the vest part.. Since it's Winter, you just might find yourselves snuggling under the blankets to keep each other warm. Happy Dating!
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