Thursday, February 6, 2014

Free Printables for Last Minute Valentine's!

As an adult, I don't get very excited about Valentine's Day, but I do love putting together Ethan's valentines for his class. I think it brings back memories of being young and having all of those sweet little notes from friends. I have always loved mail. Always. I think Valentine's Day is a tiny celebration of that. 

Anyways, I put together a few free printable options for you to use however you wish. I've included a scripture card that you could toss in a cellophane bag with something sweet, clip to the top of a paper bag or even just use on it's own. I've also included a couple of bag toppers and a tag that you could hole punch and tie onto your valentine treats. 

Click here to download.

I hope that these are helpful to you. Please be sure to share with me how you use them. I'd love to know!

For one more free downloadable option click on over to Knoxville Mom's Blog to see what Ethan will be giving his classmates this year!

I like you will you "like" me too?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Catching the Moment

I can't believe January has come to an end. It has been the fastest January ever, but if time has taught me anything, it will just keep getting faster. When I began this Catch the Moment project I solely wanted to improve my iPhone camera skills. I've discovered some new tricks and definitely gotten a little more comfortable with it, but I'm still battling toddler blur. But this project has taught me more than just which apps to use.

It has taught me to embrace the now and to remember the small things that might otherwise be forgotten. These kids change so quickly. I mean some behaviors seem to drag on for-ever, but truly...everything is just for such a short time if you blink you could miss it. And while I'm totally ok with forgetting dirty diapers and snotty noses, I never want to forget blue tongues and sleeping babies.

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen quite a few of these. As time goes on, might give myself some grace and not worry about having an Instagram worthy photo every day. Because really blur or bad lighting isn't going to keep me from the moment I choose to capture. Sometimes there is beauty in imperfection isn't there? 

January has been a fast and fun month. And cold. Definitely cold. We might have a little (or a lot) of cabin fever which probably explains why there has been so many shenanigans this month. 

I hope this encourages you to capture your everyday. While life might seem mundane, I bet you can find some special moments if you just look. Embrace them, blur and all!

A few housekeeping items:

 - I've been giving myself grace in these parts lately as I tackle other checklists that have been living in the back of my mind far too long. But I'm promising that when I'm here to make it count.

- I've started a new link up on Facebook called Friday Favorites. Please join me and help get this thing off the ground. All you need to do is come link up your favorite post of the week. It can be yours or someone elses. I'll leave it pinned to the top of the page through the weekend and hopefully everyone can find some new reads and provide encouragement to the bloggers that have inspired us.

- While I'm here more sporadically than normal, you can find me daily on Instagram and of course on Facebook...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

To the Bloggers of the World: Encouragement Matters

A friend reminded me the other day of just how long I've been doing this whole blogging thing. It's been almost 6 years if you are wondering. Honestly, it feels like yesterday to me and (while I'm being honest) it still feels like I have no clue what I'm doing. And that's okay. This whole blogging thing has grown and changed so much over the years it's hard to imagine that anyone can keep on top of it all. 

I don't know in which way the rest of the Internet world is headed, but I have decided it's time to figure out where I am headed. At one point, and maybe I'm over-generalizing but, I think we were all just happy to find that we weren't the only crazy people in the world with x,y,z problem so we shared our hearts, our day to day and all the little trivial tid-bits about ourselves in hopes of finding out we weren't "the only ones".

We made close friendships and read each others words daily. Now that we have that covered, I think things have been going in a different direction. There are so many people in this Internet world now. There are more bloggers, more readers and a lot of opinion givers. I no longer feel comfortable sharing the nitty gritty of my children's lives. I don't know if that has more to do with the fact that there are so many people out there or if it's more to do with the fact that really their story is not my own. But regardless, this blog will stay about me and my experiences because that is all I know. Of course the children are intertwined with that, but at a comfortable distance.

I also realize how many reading choices there are out there. We are bombarded daily with what Facebook recommends us reading or the numerous tweets and alerts telling us the hot topics that certain well known blogging sites will most certainly cover and soon be scattered around Facebook taking over the hope of ever seeing "real life" friends pictures and updates. We are filled with inspiration from beautiful Instagram and Pinterest pictures showing us how, if we wanted, we too could make life more picture perfect. 

We battle with doubts of self worth and the wonderment of if we have anything we could offer when all we can think about is that "she" could or has done it better. Why can't we do it all? Regardless, we all have our stories, our talents and our ways of sharing them. Maybe it's through pretty pictures, or projects, or tutorials or our words. Maybe it's by knowing how to share others stories with just the right person or, strange as it is these days, your physical presence in someones life. 

I may be getting off track or over thinking this a tad much, but all of this culminates to where I want this teeny, tiny blip on the Internet to go. Over the past year I've struggled with this very thought. It takes time and effort to keep something like this going. I have to sit and write and edit, take pictures and edit those, and do projects with tutorials included to make this blog go. All for free. That's right. I make minimally reportable income on this little old space that I've been keeping up with for 6 years which I'm sure makes a lot of you wonder "WHY?!?".

It's a good question.

One I've been asking myself a lot more lately as I feel smaller and smaller everyday.

So I've done some soul searching. I've chased the money train with this blog. I've tried ads and networking and "really putting myself out there" and I find it exhausting...and obviously fruitless (for me). I've tried to do this blog solely for myself without regard to anyone reading and I have found that it's an ugly place where I feel all "look at me!". I've thought about quitting, but I just can't. So I've determined that I'm going to do it for you. 

I do it for the person sitting behind their computer reading this who maybe has never even commented before that can read my words and relate. I do it for the person who hops onto one of my tutorials from Pinterest and realizes that they too can do something crafty or maybe make what's in their head come to life. More than anything I want to make sure this blog is for inspiration, thought and hope. I am not trying to sound noble, I just want to offer the inspiration and hope that so many of you have given me over the years. 

I was telling my friend that sometimes the silence around these parts really gets to me. It makes me feel like no ones out there and that doing this was all for nothing. But after I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I realized just how many times I had been the silent one. The one who read something powerful and never said a word but had it resonate with me throughout the day. The one who used a Pinterest tutorial to make a birthday party come to life without ever thanking the person who helped me make it happen. The one who had read heartfelt posts that literally had me crying on my keyboard and never said a word. The one who never encouraged the person who obviously so desperately needed it, but was thankful that they too were like me. 

This is not some crazy plea to have you comment on my blog I swear. All of this just made me realize that this little place can matter. Your little (or big) place can matter. You matter.

I've decided this year that I'm not only going to be more selective about the things I read or allow into my life, but I'm also going to be more selective about the things I share. I want this place to be encouraging and inspiring. I'm not doing this for me, I'm doing it for you because there are so, so many of you lovely ladies that do it for me every day. Some I have never even told. 

Encouragement matters. In a world of overly opinionated, overly stimulated people, encouragement for good matters. We are so quick to hop on the debates over hot topics, but we need to be quick to encourage. So that's what my hope is for this year. To encourage. To be encouraged. It's a wonderful little circle and I thank you for being part of it. You encouragers and inspirers of the world out there sharing your hearts and talents: keep it up! It matters, you matter, it's making a difference even if you have never been told so.

- Here's another post on a somewhat related topic from Jamie the Very Worst Missionary: Say Anything.

Join me on Facebook...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jackson's Winter ONE-derland Party

Well folks another party is in the books. I think people are secretly waiting to see if I get tired of throwing these charades, but it's my happy place. I know it can be stressful at times (mostly the night before when we are up until 2:30AM), but I love, love, love the party planning and crafting. Could I do without throwing the actual party...yep. Strange? Maybe. But, I'm an introvert soooo maybe it makes sense? 

Honestly, I feel like it's the one place where my talents come off as "cool" for my kids and if I can make them happy then it's a winner. Ethan has been bitten by the party bug for sure and was super excited about Jack's 1st party. In fact, Ethan proclaimed that his 4th birthday would be a 4-wheeler theme. If he's anything like me (and he is 100% all me) that theme won't change even though his party is 10 months away. 

Jackson's party was semi-woodland themed. It turned out less woodland than I originally planned, but I think I got an okay mix in there. Every time I throw a party I learn a little something and this time I learned to let things go, for example, a homemade cake. I'm ashamed to admit that even though baking is another happy place of mine, it is just too time consuming in combination with crafting and having a house clean with little ones so I cheated. One day, I'm sure that will change, but for now...a cheat is totally okay. 

Jackson and Ethan both had a wonderful time with friends. We are so thankful that our family made the drive up to celebrate with us. It made the party extra special. If you have any questions about party details, please ask. I handmade pretty much every last bit of the party decor so it was super easy and affordable. 

Party with us on Facebook...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

For Those Who Feel Empty

Have you ever felt lost in life like you are walking around without a light on? You have no idea where you are going and you have even given up caring about the fact that you are stumbling around in the dark? 

I've been there. 

I've lacked passion for life. 

My inner fire went out. 

I felt empty.

While this time period is frustrating and emotionally draining, I do believe it serves a greater purpose. Without this period we would be unwilling to make the uncomfortable changes that God is calling us to make. Sometimes to do great things and serve the way God sees fit we have to do uncomfortable things. 

Do not be scared to take the steps God is calling you to take because we can be fearless in the Lord.

So, if you are lost today wandering around in the desert without a light on, please don't loose hope. God is your light. He might just be calling for you to listen and reminding you to be dependent on Him. 

Great things are coming. 

You just wait.

Let's be friends?

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