These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

 

Hello!  Every day we use things that make our lives easier or bring a smile to our face.  I encourage you to take a look at your daily routines and see what those things are.  It was fun for me to dig a bit and see a few of my “favorites”  all together! Check out Loved One’s Favorites too… you’ll get great gift ideas. Here we go!!
KITCHEN TONGS:   I am seriously addicted to these little gems. I have a bunch of them because they only cost a couple dollars. They are so handy to pick up anything and everything! I even have some spares in our chip containers so that I don’t get “cheeto fingers.”.
MINI CROCKPOT : My favorite scent is ANYTHING Christmas. I used to put a pot on the stove with simmering spices and fruit so that the whole house smelled yummy…but then I found mini crockpots! They are fabulous!!  This is a wonderful gift during the holiday season to give with a recipe and ingredients for simmering. Lemons, cinnamon sticks, clove,and oranges are a good place to begin.
FELT TIP PENS:  These beauties are a little pricey, but there are sales and coupons out there to get them a bit lower. I love how bold the ink is.  I love that it doesn’t smear and drys quickly. I love to use these on to-do lists to perk up the mundane chores, and I love to journal and write pretty much everything with them. 

 

 

RAINBOW INSULATED CUPS WITH STRAWS:  Oh happiness! It’s simple I know, but I get more water drank in my day with a different colored cup each morning! I have the whole rainbow at my fingertips, and since they come with lids…they travel from home to car easily.

 

 

FLAMELESS CANDLES: With a house full of boys, it is in our Homes best interest to not light many actual candles with real flames.  This set is lovely and it comes with a remote and timers! I have some in our kitchen, and I have some programmed in the living and bedrooms. As bedtime routines begin, it is nice to enter those dark spaces with the glow of a flickering candle. I love my flameless candles! 
POM POM COASTERS: Are these not the cutest little splashes of fuzzy color?!  
The kids made these with cork and glue and pom poms one Christmas for family gifts, and I snagged a set for our Drink Station. Each morning this cheerfulness greets me at the coffee maker. (I had just as much fun making these as the kids.)

 

NERF WALL: This saved my sanity with all the Nerf wars that happen daily in our home.  
If you have darts and kids in your life, I recommend that you review our Nerf Wars post on how to make one of these stations. The kids helped design and paint the walls; and hanging it all up in the garage was fun for all of us!  Now the tag has been moved outside. When it’s over, I have yet to ask a boy to put their Nerf stuff away. They rush to the Nerf Wall to get the best hangers!! (Such a Win for us all.)

 

 TAILGATE TABLES: These medium-sized rectangle, collapsible tables will rock your world! I have never actually used them for their intended purpose…but I have used them for pretty much everything else. They fold and are lightweight.  I have these tucked all over the house. The make a quick puzzle, Lego, you-name-it project off the floor. They wipe down and have two adjustable heights. And the bonus feature is that if you find them during football season, then you have local color options depending on nearby teams! If you want a certain color, look at the teams. 
CANDY CATCHERS: When you are between 2 candy-laced holidays, the thought occurs of what to do with the abundance of sweets (?)…  Since there are multiple boys in our home, and boys are a tad competitive in everything, we had to find a solution to storing any excess of overflow.  The number of kids you have, is the number of compartments needed for the Candy Catcher. Personalize it so there is no confusion. No Sharing is an unspoken for this little kitchen tool. This container usually stays out of reach, so that a parent monitors consumption. I pull from its resources for school lunches and snacks mixed with healthier choices. This has gone with us on road trips with each persons snacks divided so they can eat them at differing paces. This is a fun Favorite for me!
PORTABLE HAMMOCKS: My most recent Favorite! I love these soooooooo much.  Each child received one for a gift. We learned how to “stack” them in trees from college students. It looked as if there were a herd of nomads in my back yard the first 3 days!! The kids stayed outside for hours trying out different trees. They took books, water bottles, snacks, journals, DS’s, and even a Ukulele!!  I confess that I also enjoy gently swinging and cloud-gazing; especially snuggled with one of my Cuties’.

 

Well there you go! Hope you got an idea or two to add to your Favorites. Take a mental break from this week’s mundane and enjoy mulling over some of your own Favorites; you have more than you realize! 
You, Lord God, have done many wonderful things, and You have planned marvelous things for us.  Psalm 40:5

ONE letter matters

When I was in 6th grade, I competed in the district spelling bee and lost because I added one  letter to a word. My 6th-grade son recently competed in his school’s spelling bee and missed a word by forgetting one letter.spelling bee word list

One letter matters.

In the world of spelling, one letter means the difference of staying “in” the competition or being “out.”

For enthusiastic writers who are vulnerably casting out their manuscripts only to be met with a flood of rejection letters, ONE letter of acceptance matters. One letter shifts the novice writer from being an amateur to being “in” as a published author. This inclusion is savored.

encouragement cardsFor the widow that spends many hours and even days alone, receiving a single handwritten note makes a meaningful difference. One letter can change her perspective from feeling lonely to loved. She feels remembered.

When a spouse is deployed overseas and is feeling the weight of isolation and homesickness, one letter from a loved one back home draws him a little closer to family. A familiar scrawl or silly doodle on the envelope tugs those hearts together a little tighter. He feels connected.

In a world of digital pictures and casual greetings available through Facebook and texts, even one handwritten letter delivered by snail mail on your birthday can transform all those virtual well wishes into a tangible token of love. There’s something special about holding a letter in your own hand that was in your friend’s hand just a few days ago. One letter can ground you, reminding you of a precious friendship. You feel known.

So last week when I was fighting a head cold and clutching my kleenex box, I hunkered down and wrote some letters:

  • to my son traveling on an exchange trip to China, hiding one in his suitcase under a box of Thin Mints and giving another letter to a friend to deliver to him midway through their trip (the potential embarrassment, I think, is worth a little sneakiness!)
  • to a Chinese couple whom I may never meet, but I’m entrusting the care of my 16-year-old son to them for 3 weeks while they generously host him in their home (sigh)
  • to a nephew, apologizing for belated birthday wishes
  • to an aunt undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, offering hope and encouragement while also recognizing her strengthBaylor pillows
  • a “thank you” to a loved one who sewed some pillows for me that I’ve been “planning” for years. Confession: I cheated on this one. I took a picture of the pillows tucked into their new nook and a sent her a text of gratitude. (Go Bears!)
  • to a college friend, wishing her the joys of another birthday

Throughout the week as I wrote to each person, I focused on the recipient. I considered their particular situation, reflecting on the connection between us and conjuring up some words to send their way. Before long, I was no longer aware of my stuffy head and my pesky cough. My mood improved as I redirected my attention to a loved one or reminisced about a dear friend.

Aligning letters on paper to transform them into a message to someone else is a magical thing, something we often taken for granted.vocab

Words are used a lot of different ways in our home. We are seekers of knowlLatin conjugationsedge and explorers of the written word. Our bookshelves are weighed down with words.

The boys are always working on a vocabulary list or conjugating verbs in a language I don’t understand.

Words surround us.

Letters weave in and out of our home daily, an endless merry-go-round of giving and receiving. Some of them we glance over; some of them stop us in our tracks. One letter can shift the atmosphere around us, crackling with anticipation or casting a somber chill.

Which letter do you cling to most?
Bible - I Cor 13
The letter that I’m drawn back to again and again is the Word of God. Each time I read it, I gain a new perspective and gain a deeper understanding of something bigger than me. It stirs my soul.
I’m grateful for this ultimate gift. The holy Word is God’s letter to us.
It’s full of wisdom and adventure, heartbreak and triumph, joy and strength, loss and redemption, strife and struggle…but most of all,  its message is love. It offers us hope.

——->>>>>  THIS one letter makes all the difference to me

Phlox

“Every word of God is flawless.” Proverbs 30:5a

 

 

 

What Superheros Ride with You?

 

There are 4 Superhero’s  in my backseat. Everywhere we go, they constantly have to reign-in their extraordinary powers. I didn’t recognize this unique trait in kids until recently. Once I saw it, my travel view changed……
When our boys were very little, they had capes made for them. They wore them daily as they ran/flew through the house declaring their awesomeness. We would laugh or high-five them as they whizzed by in a blur. They have Superhero names too!In our home,  we have Special K,  Super C,  the Evanator and the Eli-minator. (On any given moment they can each morph into Master of the Obvious when declaring something!) 

   

While driving, they may “use the force” to open a side window and proceed with face-in-the-breeze, hair flying happiness. They may sing, dance, wrestle and use voices WAY too loud for a car; all the while exerting their powers…hard to contain, truly. If you have children that ride in your car, than you too are riding with Superhero’s. It is a unique time in your life to be able to pour into these extraordinary beings. We have the power to show them their  remarkable God-given abilities, build self-confidence, teach true inward beauty and strong character and integrity to take to the world. 

It is a our duty to guard and protect them from outside forces, and to train them in handling injustice. Our voice needs to be the one that builds them up, because the world will do plenty of tearing down. Stand in the gap for your Superheros; when they get out of your car is when you send them to battle. A parent can’t be by a child’s side every minute, but our God can. We can remind our kids of the armor that was fashioned for them, and we can pray for that armor to fortify them in their daily encounters. 

Many times our Superheros mess up;  they are not perfected yet, they are in-training after all…as parents, we can relate. We mess up and are all a work in progress; praise God for His continuing work!! So these moments are a strong seatbelt for the whole car load. We learn how to reign-in a rough approach that builds off of frustration. We proceed smoothly when we try out His Grace and Mercy to ride through learning opportunities together. We try not to slam on the brakes with recklessness. And many times, we look toward the sky while driving this precious cargo and asking God for wisdom in the moments. 

 

You, Momma’s, out there are true Superheros too. Turning to the Lord for daily strength to walk through your day. You may lose your footing sometimes…your attitude, your patience, your words… but you are human and you know the God with the power to redeem, restore and refresh! He is our ultimate Superhero! Remind yourself of this often, and then teach it to your children.

planting seeds

Tis the season of Girl Scout cookies and the first blossoms of spring.

Is it just me or does every home improvement store have an over-abundance of shiny lawn mowers on display and flocks of Girl Scouts grinning their gap-toothed smiles, asking if you’d like to buy some cookies?

Although I only had a brief venture into the world of Girl Scouts, I learned a couple important things I tucked into my bag of tricks:

Girl Scout thin mint cookies1) The first lesson, of course, was that Thin Mints cookies could pretty much sell themselves and that diehard fans put them in their freezers to “save them for later” (translation: hide them from the kids).

2) The other key thing I learned as a Brownie was the song “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.” At the time I thought this meant I would have a treasure trove of sparkly friends to last me all my days. It took a few more years for me to understand that meeting new friends was fun, but maintaining friendships for the long haul was just as vital and full of its own sweet reward. What a great life lesson for a young pig-tailed girl to carry along with her even though her Girl Scout days were few!

Now as an adult, I have the opportunity to gather up boxes of Thin Mints from bright-eyed eager girls as easy as a brief stop while running errands. The friendship piece, though…that’s even trickier now than it was when I was the new student almost every year in grade school. Then I had the structure of school activities and the dubious recognition of always being the last person in every line since my last name started with a Z.

As busy mommas it’s hard to cultivate friendships anew and hold on to the wisps of friendships past. At the same time we’re trying to build our own network of relationships, we’re also nurturing our children’s friendships, helping negotiate playdates and shepherding our kiddos to make good choices in their interactions with others. Their world is so much different than our school days in which “social media” was passing notes without getting caught by the teacher.childhood notes

Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zone and plant a seed of friendship, then patiently wait while the hectic pace of daily life churns on around us. It may take weeks or even months to get a glimpse of that friendship blossoming a little more. We may have to keep being the one to introduce ourselves at parent meetings, join a new Bible study, or volunteer for something that puts us closer to the action. In these awkward situations, I remind myself  “baby steps, Dianna” and take encouragement from the fact that my boys have been steadily surging forward in their new relationships, too.

We discovered that little gestures can go a long way. A few months ago, we put a bike rack by our garage and invited boys that lived farther from the bus stop to park their bikes there. My son is now having more contact with neighborhood kids because we made ourselves just a little more accessible — a little more transparent to those around us.

Adults (or at least us introverted ones) seem to have a harder time showing this transparency. It takes courage for us to show our vulnerability, having outgrown that marvelous age where we could simply ask, “Will you be my friend?

Bible Quilt friendship page
Bible Quilt friendship page

Friendship is a lovely gift from God. Many verses reflect this truth of connectedness.

Are you missing a friend connection? Would you like to have some more friends in your inner circle? Hang tough. There’s more to your friendship song and to mine:

“Silver is precious, Gold is too. I am precious, and so are you. You help me, and I’ll help you and together we will see it through…” 

Since I’ve experienced the heartfelt joys of long-term friendships and have been fortunate to have seen best friends from high school and college in the last month, I know it’s worth it to invest in these friends of silver and of gold…and whatever lies between. I cling to the  threads of my dear close friends through texts, phone calls, emails and Voxer to hold me over until our next face-to-face gatherings.

blossoming pear treeIn the meantime, I’m tentatively testing the soil of potential friendships in my new surroundings. We just have to keep planting seeds in our interactions and step out of our comfort zones…who knows, we might bump into someone who is seeking the same sweet connection. And, if we get to share Thin Mints in the process?? That’s a win-win in my book!

 

“We Need A Plan!”

 

 

“What day is it?”

“What’s for dinner?”

“Whose birthday are we celebrating?”

“How long is the practice?”

“What time is the game?”

“When is Date-Night???”

These are just a few of my own daily questions!! Than you throw the family’s questions in the pot too! My head starts swimming, and I seriously want to grab a larger cup of coffee and retreat.

Once the family stepped into extracurricular activities and more than one school campus, it was time for a plan! It’s not always a cake walk and there are still daily doses of coffee to recharge my stamina, but the plan definitely helps keep us grounded. (And on time to things!)

Every family’s dynamics are slightly different, but here are a few of our favorite ideas that we use on a weekly basis…and for this season of our lives, they are working beautifully.  Hope one or more might help your daily sanity!

We took a wall in the garage and installed a 6 Month Calendar! Let me say that this has been amazing for our coordination!! When we first talked about putting this up, I thought it might be too much..wouldn’t 3 months work fine? But I am a believer now! Each family member has a color, and EVERYTHING goes on the board. So when I feel my brain beginning to go on overdrive with planning, I just step up to the board and can easily see the master plan. Love it!

We have a clip board for each child also hung in the garage. I was tired of the visual clutter sitting in the kitchen. There was always a “lost” slip to sign and turn in for school. And birthday invitations for different friends was enough to make me drink coffee all day! So…whaala! Everything from permission slips to lunch numbers, and friend’s phone numbers are attached to each kids board. Easily accessible to grab off its hook and look through when needed. Love this too!!

So this is an awesome way to capture all those artistic treasures that come home from school and such. I keep some of them, but realistically they don’t all make the cut. When a particular season has come to its end, we snap a picture with the resident artist. I stumbled upon this idea and it is one of my favorites to look back on and see how each child grows. Love, Love, Love!

On a similar note, I have one bulletin board in our kitchen that I rotate 2 pieces of art work per child. I switch it out now and then. I like seeing the mix of all my kiddos art together. They enjoy pointing out to visitors which ones belong to them. I hung this low so that the kids are eye level with it. You know I love this!

I must confess that this does not happen always. But on the weeks that it does, this little tool is amazing! We have a Dinner Board that I put the meal plan on. The boys love it when I am able to follow through with this plan. I am calmer and happier too. There is less fast food in our lives. When we implement this plan, I do not have to run to the store for that missing ingredient either; and that is something I love!

And last, but most certainly not least… I will leave you with this little gem. This prayer calendar has been taped to the inside of my bathroom cabinet for 9 years. When I get ready each morning, I glance at the day’s word and prayer. While drying my hair, I pray these over my kids and whole family. It’s pretty much committed to memory by now, and I am testament that as I pray these over my children and spouse, they saturate me as well. This is a cherished plan. Love everything about this!

Calendars, Dry Erase Markers, Magnets, ClipBoards, Recipes, Art Work, and Prayers…go forth and Make A Plan!! Have a Beautiful Week!

______ is patient, _____ is kind.

We have a chance to love those around us each day, but today especially the expectation is high. (Do you feel it?)

Sometimes we  just need to reflect on words of  Truth…

Love is patient

pine needle quiet

Love is kindThanksgiving flowers

 

It does not envy or boast

boys goofing around

Love is not proud, rude, or self-seekingFlorida blooming

It is not easily angeredstorm cloud

It keeps no record of wronggreen grass

Love does not delight in evil

lily pads

Love rejoices with the truthmountain stream

 

Love always protects

Love always trusts

mom tackle

Love always hopesholding hands

 

Love always perseveresgrowth despite hardship

Love never failsrainbow in storm

I Corinthians 13:4-8  “the Love chapter”

Love is patient...I remember an activity we did in a junior high Sunday School class long ago. We had to read these verses to ourselves but replace “Love” with our own name:

Dianna is patient…

Dianna is kind…”

THAT puts a whole new spin on this passage and reminds me of how much I’ve fallen short of loving others authentically. so.many.times. I’m grateful for God’s grace and mercy to keep trying to love as He would like us to.

However your Valentine’s day unfolds, may you experience His love, the ultimate valentine. ❤️

 

 

daily life transformed by God into extraordinary tapestries

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