Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Any Occasion, No Fuss Table Runner



I look for excuses to decorate.  Ask my husband.  He will roll his eyes and smile, and he will tell you about my ridiculousness.  Everything turns into an art project (AKA: mess) around here.  

I pride myself in decor and art projects and DIYing that is super cheap and no-brainer.  I don't do fussy, particular sorts of things.  

This little ditty I'm sharing with you today is super, super cheap and crazy no-brainer.  You could be half asleep and totally caffeine-deprived and have one hand tied behind your back and still be successful at this.  Promise.  And...it will set your budget behind about $2.50.  $2.50!!!  Be still, my heart.


You will need...
  • Kraft packing/wrapping paper - I bought mine at the dollar store for, you guessed it, one dollar.
  • White craft paint - $0.50 at Wal-Mart
  • Circle paint brush/dauber thingies - I want to say these were about $0.95 at Wal-Mart, too??
  • A few pieces of tape - raid your junk drawer for this.
Instructions (I hesitate to even write instructions, this is so easy.  Use common sense, people.)
  1. Roll out some kraft paper, cut to fit your table, and tape the ends to the underside of the table.
  2. Dump some white paint on a paper plate or container.
  3. Dip your circle dauber thing in the paint and stamp away!
My paint dried really fast, so I was able to add the rest of my table decorations about 10 minutes later. 

The best part of this table runner is that it is neutral for any occasion.  Pair the kraft and white pattern with just about any color napkin or plate or theme, and it will look fantastic.  

OR, think outside the box!  This would look really fun with BLACK dots for Halloween.  Or maybe forgo the dots for stripes?  Fun.
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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

tot school : dinosaur + green week



WHAT I LOVED
I knew going into this week, Will loved dinosaurs.  It was so much fun to see him excited about the theme.  It is turning out to be super convenient to have several activities on hand when he got bored.  Also, I found a great recipe for play dough and had a hay-day one night making a few batches.  So fun!  (I may have stained my counter tops reddish-pink with food coloring...  Oops.  Good thing we are renovating?!)

WHAT WE FOCUSED ON
The color green!  Will knows most of his colors already, but review is great, right?  I dug through drawers and closets and found lots of green things to have fun with!  Green cupcake liners, green blocks, green balls, green tissue paper, green straws - whatever.  You'd be surprised the games and play that happen using random junk!

Shape Sorting.  This was not thematic - just because.  

Dinosaurs.  I thought about teaching Will a few different types of dinosaurs, but then we never really got around to it.  We just had fun with the dinosaur theme in general.  Not a lot of important learning...just FUN, people.

The letter D!  Again, sort of...  When I ask him what "D" says, "He thinks it's funny to jump up and down and say, "Duh, duh, duh!"  But that's about it.  Baby steps, people.

We were supposed to learn more about Jesus' ascension in our Jesus Storybook Bible, but every time we started the story, Will whined to go to another story.  Hmm.  We ended up reading through the Sermon on the Mount and Lord's Prayer stories.  Perhaps that was more on the Lord's agenda for us this week, maybe?

WHAT WE DID
Will played with a green sensory tub I threw together using things from around the house.


I updated our bulletin board (of sorts) with green stuff.  It's basically just a frame that I pin random crap to.  Pictures, fun sayings, Project Life quotes, magazine clippings, patterned napkins, fabric, and everything else that is amusing.  Because, why not?!

We listened to the Jurassic Park soundtrack every day at snack time.  Best idea, ever, Liza.


We played with our dinosaur-themed play dough.  I will admit, I coaxed Will into playing this several times, mostly because I wanted to...  Am I living vicariously through my children?  Yes, yes, I am.

We colored free dino coloring pages from the net.

We were going to clean fossils (rocks), but the weather never cooperated.

Will played with his dinosaur toys in the sandbox with his neighborhood gal pals.

We had a bingo-dot dinosaur worksheet, but because I don't have bingo-dot markers, we stuck little green-circle-garage-sale stickers on instead.  Will is totally digging the sticker thing lately.

Dinosaur books from the library.  I heart you, library.

I was going to make these dino parfaits, but life happened instead.


WE SAW A REAL DINOSAUR, ya'll.  ...at the gas station in Orange City.  We were well aware there were a few cool dinosaur exhibits at fancy children's museums near our home, but since we are cheapo and a little redneck, and because Will isn't even two, and because he could care less...  We went to a gas station, sat on the dinosaur, and took a picture, all touristy-like.  
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Monday, April 13, 2015

Hipster Will



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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

tot school : easter + purple week



I am starting to do pseudo-tot school with Will this spring and summer.  I say "pseudo," because I am not stressing too much over it...

My goal is to make our lives more fun, rich, meaningful, adventurous and celebratory.  Because, well, when you have two kids under two, and a hubby who's in seminary and working full-time, moments pass quickly, and it's so easy to just "survive."

When we miraculously have some free time as a family, we have a bucket list of simple (but fun!) things to do with the kids.  When Will gets whiny, I have a small arsenal of no-brainer (but educational!) activities to occupy him.  When life gets mundane, we have things to create and celebrate and discover!

If this whole tot school thing ever gets to be stressful instead of exciting, weighty instead of fun, obligatory instead of celebratory, I'm done.  The goal is to enrich our family's life, so we'll see how this goes!

About our Easter + Purple week...

WHAT I LOVED
This week I was excited about having a reason to rotate our toys and books.  I've gotten into a habit of storing at least 3/4ths of Will & Charlie's toys (if I kept all of them out, our house would be a disaster and our kids would not even play with half of them).  Every few weeks, I rotate toys and books, and (it never fails) Will thinks it's Christmas morning every time a new batch arrives.  He thinks everything is brand new and exciting again!  Anyway, this week was a fun excuse to pull out everything purple and spring/Easter related.  We had a lot of extra fun with little things that would have otherwise been collecting dust in the nooks and crannies and closets of our house.

WHAT WE FOCUSED ON

Learning about Easter - Will learned to recognize the shape of a cross and whose cross it was...  "Jesah coss!" he says. :)  We worked on the phrases/verses, "He's alive!"  "He is risen!" And we sang little songs like "Hosanna!" and "Alive, Alive, Alive Forevermore!" - this was all usually in between bites of crackers during snack time and super casual.  

The color purple! - I pulled out everything purple I had in the house and used it in a sensory bin, our little family bulletin board, or in Will's toy baskets.



STUFF WE DID
Click on the bold phrases for links!

We read and talked about the Easter story in our Jesus Storybook Bible.

Will colored a few resurrection/cross-themed coloring pages that were free on the web.



put painter's tape on some posterboard in the shape of a cross, then let him paint all crazy-like over top.  In the end, we pulled up the tape to discover a cross!

I had a purple zipper pouch to throw Popsicle sticks in.  He practiced zipping and unzipping, but got bored with it and wanted to play with his cow instead.  Fine.  Whatever, dude.

Tried to use little tongs to transfer plastic easter eggs into a holder.  We need to work on this more, I think.

We went to the bakery to eat cross-shaped cookies!  "Jesah coss, mmm!" Will said...


We had purple cows for dessert at supper.


I checked out Easter books from the library to read and look through.  This was more for myself than for Will.  I love me a library run.

Will played outside a lot and ran laps in our hallway most days, but that is not thematic.  That is just life with the Will-Bug.

Purple play dough and a cross cookie cutter!

Will played with a thrown-together purple sensory bin, made up of random things we had on hand.


We had a purple-themed Easter brunch and hosted some friends whose families were far away. 


We decorated Easter eggs with tissue paper (a little more toddler-friendly than dye and boiling water, yeah?).  We also spent some time at Grandma Bev's for an Easter egg hunt, but Will was much more concerned with throwing the soccer ball around.  Again, typical Will.  

Easter week felt so much more Easter-y, in being so much more purposeful about celebrating.  Mission accomplished, I'd say.
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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Capsule Wardrobe - Lifestyle



Are you still pinning and adding things to your capsule wardrobe inspiration board?  I hope so!

My inspiration board is overflowing with, well...inspiration.  It was still a little tough to discern through my personal style when I seemed to like so many different things across the board.  And since I can't BUY.ALL.THE.THINGS, I needed to start to whittle down what will really work for me.  This wasn't necessarily about what's trendy, or what others are wearing.  This was more about finding what works for me.

So, today, let's think about our lifestyle.  There are undoubtedly things on your board and in your taste that are absolutely beautiful, but will absolutely NOT fit into your regular day-to-day activities.  Though you may like wearing heels and blazers and silk blouses, if you are a stay-at-home-mama, like me, you will be in trouble if your entire wardrobe is filled with heels and blazers and silk.  Try cleaning up your toddler's poopy diapers in that!  Am I right?!

So, stop and think a bit.  In a month's time, what things or activities do you find yourself doing?  Where are you spending your time?  Your wardrobe should reflect these parts of your life.

My lifestyle + my unique tastes = my personal style.

It was helpful for me to think of my lifestyle in terms of percentages, all within a month's time.

Since I am a stay-home-mama with two kids under two, my life is very home-based.  In 30 days, I spend...

3 Sundays/church + 1 date/holiday = about 13% dress up clothing
7 outings (errands, coffee with friends, church activities, etc. = about 23% cute, casual clothing
25+ days at home and outside play = about 83% lounge and active wear
--------------------------------------
Now, this all adds up to 119%, which is silly, but this is mostly because several days, like a Sunday, include two outfits...  Dress up for church, come home and put on lounge wear...

To fudge things a bit, I am planning my wardrobe around about 10% dress up, 20% cute and casual, and 70%+ for lounge/active.

(Keep in mind several pieces will do double duty.  For example, I wear black yoga leggings as lounge wear, and also under dresses as dress up clothing.  I also wear plain v-necks as lounge wear, but pair them with scarves or cardigans for cute & casual clothing.)  

The point isn't to get too hung up on exact percentages.  Just let the percentages give you an overarching idea of your regular, everyday lifestyle and how your wardrobe should reflect it.

My overarching takeaways are that the vast majority of my wardrobe should be crazy comfortable, if not active/workout wear.  I need to sprinkle in some "cute" pieces and some layers to help pieces do double duty in different categories.

From here, I went back to my Pinterest board to notice outfits and pieces that would actually fit into my lifestyle.  If you wanted, you could even delete the pins that, in your process of discernment, you find don't fit into your regular life.

In the meantime, use what you've learned about your lifestyle to influence additions to your inspiration board.  I have been pinning lots and lots of outfits that include t-shirts and sneakers lately!
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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lament & Resurrection



Catch up on the series here:
1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8

And, here we are.  Holy week.

This week, we remember.  We remember Jesus washing His disciples' feet, the Last Supper, Jesus' dark night in Gethsemane, Judas' betrayal, Jesus arrested and condemned, the Cross, His death, the tomb...

And then, our favorite part...

Resurrection.

Death, where is your sting?  Grave, where is your victory?

This week, we run the entire spectrum of emotion - grief to gladness, sorrow to celebration, death to life.  And that's what we've been journeying these eight weeks together in lament, haven't we?  Darkness to light, hope, healing, restoration and even resurrection!

In journeying through the darkness, in lamenting and becoming more acquainted with grief and sorrow, brokenness and barrenness, you will find restoration and resurrection all the more joyous.  In fact, lament is necessary to truly celebrate.

Let me explain.

Suppose you were never sick.  You'd never know the joy a cancer patient feels when she hears the word "remission" come from her doctor's mouth.

Suppose you have never been in debt.  You'd never know the relief that a man might feel when he learns an unexpected inheritance absolves his second mortgage, and then some.

Suppose you have never been enslaved.  You'd never know the thrill of freedom - making your own decisions and choosing your own destiny.

Suppose you have never struggled with singleness.  You'd never know the deep appreciation a former "old maid" had for her new husband.

Suppose you were never overweight.  You might never know the overwhelming satisfaction of finally fitting into that coveted pair of jeans.

Suppose you never lost a child.  You might never experience the incredible depth of gratitude in celebrating another year with your birthday boy.

Suppose you were never hungry.  You might never savor a steak as much as a starving person in Africa.

Suppose you had never experienced injustice...

Suppose you were never homeless...

Suppose you had never wrestled with depression.

Suppose you were righteous - never sinning a day in your life.  You'd have no need for a Savior.

Suppose He had never suffered and died...  Would Easter be as celebratory?  Would resurrection be as joyous?

In all of these situations, having never suffered or lost, you still might be generally thankful, you might be mildly appreciative and think, "Oh, that is so nice."  But, you may be missing out on a depth of joy and gratitude only those who have faced utter darkness and gut-wrenching loss might be able to grasp.

I'm not saying you should wish for cancer, just so you can find health more joyous.  I am not saying those of us who have not lost a child aren't thankful for the kiddos we do have.  I am just saying, when you have experienced struggle and suffering - whatever that might have looked like - it unlocks something...

A fresh perspective.

A whole new outlook.

Deeper depths of gratitude.  Higher mountaintops of joy.  Greater waves of love and compassion.

So...  Let's do ourselves a favor.

This Holy Week, let's not gloss over His suffering.  Let's not skip over the blood and gore and whipping and hammering and abandonment and loss.  Let's not look away or shield our eyes.  Don't forget the hell He descended to...  For you.  Sit in the sorrow for a while.  Let it soak in.  Let it affect you.

If you don't lament His suffering and death, you won't truly rejoice in His resurrection.

I'm betting those who know loss, who are acquainted with heartache, who are painfully aware of their own sin and who have felt the darkness looming heavy, are those who will be singing, "He's alive!  He is risen!  My Redeemer lives!" with the most gusto this Sunday.

Those who share in His sufferings will know the power of His resurrection.
He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.  It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.  This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation."  -Isaiah 25:8+
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Friday, March 27, 2015

Healing in the Dark



Catch up on the series here:
1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7

We have lamented.  We have approached the Lord's throne with boldness, and we have brought our cries before Him.

We haven't been content to wallow at the bottom of the canyon in despair.  We have walked - limped and crawled, even - and we have journeyed through.

But what have we journeyed towards?  All of this putting one foot in front of the other...what has it been unto?

Restoration, right?  We long for our broken hearts to be mended.  The scattered bits of our life need to be put back together.  We wait for this bleak and icy winter to give way to spring and sun and warmth.

We are hoping for healing.  We are hoping He will make things right.  

...Right?

The problem with all of this, is that we live in a sinful world, full of disappointment, disease, and death.  Though we still fight and war and pray and believe God for sudden miracles, as we lament, and as we hope in Him for healing and restoration, sometimes it just doesn't seem to come.

Sometimes, he is silent.

Unmoving.  Unanswering.  Distant.

Sometimes, He does not heal.

Sometimes, the darkness lingers.  And sometimes, it gets worse.

And then?  Then our minds, and our hearts, reel.  If He is a good God, how could He allow this?  Why didn't He fix this?  Why didn't He help?  Doesn't He hear me?  Doesn't He even care?  Is He really good?  This must be a sick joke!

Millions of hours of sermons from the wisest people in the world, libraries full of theological books, and endless debates continue to tackle these pressing questions.

And then there is this little blog, and my little mind - a small, little drop in a vast ocean...  I am probably a little silly to even approach this topic, but you can just take it all for whatever it's worth...

I am beginning to wonder, at least in my own life and experiences, if I am journeying through the darkness and lamenting and wrestling with God and missing His healing.  ...or maybe missing the point altogether...

What if, on our deserted islands of darkness - longing for rescue - we are so obsessed with scanning the skies, waiting, watching and hoping for a helicopter to come and save us, that we missed the life boat approaching on the horizon...?  We were so caught up in listening for the beat of the helicopter's prop, that we missed the sound of sand crunching as the life boat landed on the beach?

In struggling through a fifth miscarriage, we look for healing to come in the form of a healthy, breathing, full-term baby, finally.  But what if healing comes in the form of two adopted babies?  Children who were in need of hope and healing, themselves?

In limping through financial demise, we look for healing in the form of a new job or a prosperous business deal to make ends meet.  But what if healing comes in the form of a new-found freedom and perspective in having less?

In suffering through years of cancer, we hope for healing to come in the form of remission.  But what if healing comes in heaven?  And several other families experience physical healing through an organ donation?

We might long for God to heal our depression - to finally feel a bit of joy again - but we may find healing comes as our ongoing struggle with depression brings opportunity to minister to others who struggle with the same darkness.

Let's go a step deeper, even.

In lamenting, and in bringing our cries straight to Him and in journeying through, are we hoping for healing in a change of situation?  In an end?  In a light at the end of the tunnel?  In a feeling of joy and happiness?

Are we journeying towards healing as if it were a thing, or are we journeying towards our Healer?  The Person?  

What if, in all of this mess, the point was to journey towards Him?  A more intimate relationship with Him?  A deeper knowledge of His heart, of His love for us, of His purposes in the world...   

I won't lie to you.  From the world's perspective, the journey towards Him, and the journey with Him isn't always pretty.  It isn't always easy.  We will die to ourselves and participate in His suffering.

This means it is costly.

There is sacrifice.  There is pain.

This means our hearts will break and our guts will wrench and our souls will cry out as we experience our own suffering, and as our eyes are opened to more and more injustice across the globe.

But.  

(And that is a big but.  ...Not to be confused with "butt"...)

As we die to ourselves, we are made alive in Christ!   And as we participate in His suffering (and fellowship with Him in it), we will also participate in His resurrection!  

In seeking Him - The Healer, the Great Physician, Comforter, Protector, Provider, the Beginning and the End - we will find true healing and restoration.  It won't always come as we expect, and in the time frame we desire, but it will come...and it will be deeper and more lasting and more transformational and much, much more powerful than the healing we even imagined in the first place.

...

I know those last couple paragraphs may have sounded a little trite to those of us who are wrestling with really, really dark stuff today...  

On my darkest days, when I doubt true healing and restoration will ever come, and when I am just plain mad about the sick joke of a life I am living in, my only consolation is to know that He is present.  He is grieving over the fallenness and brokenness of the world (and of my heart) with me, alongside me.

I say to Him, "This sucks.  This life is not as it should be!  You should hurry up and fix this mess!"

I hear Him say, "I know.  We agree.  This is not as it should be.  You should have seen Eden.  I can't wait to come, split the sky, and bring all things to restoration and resurrection."

I exhale.  Sigh a big sigh.

And, I inhale, and keep going.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep journeying through, and towards and with my Healer.  
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