Pipe Cleaner Crowns

This was a great little morning activity to do with the kids.  They love dressing up so this was a sure bet that they would be into it.  Who doesn't like to wear a crown?  Every little girl likes to play the princess and every little boy wants to be the prince.  This would make a great Valentine's Day party activity.  Or for a birthday party and New Years Eve.  Or any day really!
The pipe cleaners can be sharp so make sure to have adults help the little ones.

I basically took two piper cleaners and twisted the ends together.  First measure your child's head so it fits. 

Make the shape you want to add to the crown.  Once made, twist again onto base of crown.

To make the circles on the top of the crown, I used a pen and twisted it around it.

We even made some wands because they are just as important.

And even made one for the piggy.

DIY Hot/Cold RIce Pack

On one of my earlier posts I mentioned that I don't like to be cold, especially my feet.  I'm like my mother and must have poor circulation.  My feet are always cold in the winter.  And I can't sleep if my feet are cold.  I use rice bags all the time.  Nothing better than a warm bed and warm feet when you are falling asleep.  Recently mine leaked a hole .... not fun cleaning that up.  So I took to the computer to find a tutorial and it wasn't hard.  How hard can it be sewing fabric together with some rice in it.  My motto lately is, if I can make it or even think I can, I will try.  I was quite happy with the results.  

What you need:
Fabric and flannel
Lavender (optional)

1.  Cut the size of fabric you want.  Here are the sizes of mine: large was 17 x 6 and the small was 5 x 5.
2.  I lined the bags with flannel to keep the heat it.  I cut flannel pieces the same size as the fabric pieces.
3.  I tried two different ways to sew the bags.  For the large, I sewed the back sides together and turned inside out.  The small, I put right sides together and zig-zagged together.  Both worked well.  
4.  Leave a small hole to add the rice (use funnel if needed) and I added dried lavender.  Lavender is light, pleasant and used to help with sleeping.
5.  Lastly, I sewed the hole together.

The west coast doesn't get too cold so I might be sending a few mini packs to my nieces and nephew in Alberta.  I'm sure they would love to warm up there hands and feet after playing in the snow on cold, winter day.

Ultimate Chocolate Trifle

Here is a crowd pleasing dessert.  I love chocolate and this has lots of it.  Plus it looks decedent.  

Ultimate Chocolate Trifle
1 box of chocolate cake (I prefer Duncan Hines devil's food cake)
2 packages of instant chocolate pudding
1 500ml Whipping Cream/Cool Whip
5 Skor Chocolate Bars 

Prepare cake, pudding and whipping cream.  Crush up Skor bars.  Layer with cake, pudding, Skor and whipping cream.  Repeat as many times as desired.   

Easy peasy!

choosing gratefulness + joy

Today is just one of those days.  It's a Monday, I'm tired and having a hard time finding the joy in an ordinary dreary day.  Isla was up a few times during the day and finally came into our bed.  Not a great sleep.  Then as Trevor was leaving for work he woke her up at 6:30am.  It made me grumpy.  I wasn't ready to start the day.  Isla had some breakfast and I needed coffee.  She watched Dora while I tried to become functional.  Oliver was up not long after and we were in the swing of things.  A spill later on the couch and grumpy mommy came out.  I felt bad and asked for forgiveness.  Oliver said he didn't like that I was grumpy.  It made him sad.  Yup, he called me out.  I knew I needed to turn the day around so I went to my room and did devotions.  I came out determine this wasn't going to be a waste of a day filled with guilt so we had a dance party to praise songs, played a few board games and Oliver was off to preschool.  
These are the days that are hard to find the 'enjoy every moment because they grow so fast' or 'cherish these times'.  I've heard it many times from strangers.  I know in my heart it's true.  But it's hard to delight in them.  However I know God works in the ordinary and the little things.  I just need to be faithful.  And grateful.  Families are mourning the loss of little ones right now.  I get to kiss mine good night.  Some have lost all their homes and possessions and I have a comfortable home to sleep in.  It's so easy to loose perspective and that's usually when I take my eyes off Jesus.  So I'm choosing Jesus.  And gratefulness.  And joy.  

Many of you might know this hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus by Helen H. Lemmel.  This is my song today.

tell me a story

A new favourite activity for Oliver and myself is creating stories together.  I purchased a box of prompt cards at Chapters about six months ago and finally brought them out.  While Isla naps, the two of us spend some time being creative and silly.  The cards are perfect for ideas and helping string ideas together.  I have to admit I need the prompts just as much as Oliver does.  It has really has shown me how important being creativity and thinking outside the box is.  With Oliver approaching kindergarten soon, I hope this helps with vocabulary, comprehension, listening and sequencing.  

Here are the cards from Chapters ($12.99) we have been using.  There are different themes of cards.  We have the 'Mystery in the Forest'.  Oliver loves animals so many of stories revolve around the squirrel, fox, pig or chicken.  And of course the treasure.

I also found two apps that essential do the same thing.  One is Story Wheel.  What's cool about this apps is that it tells back your child's story in their voice.  And you get to spin the wheel kind of like the Price Is Right.  
The other is Story Dice.  Instead of cards you get random images on the dice as prompts. 

Story Wheel

Story Dice

I came across as a website called Kitchen Counter Chronicles that has a free printable for you to put prompts in a jar.  Here is the link: Storytelling Prompts for Kids

Blocks can also be a great tool as most have pictures on them.

So many great ways to get your child's imagination going.  May your imagination take you to some fun places!

sending love + sunshine

Most people have heard of the five love languages by Gary Chapman.  I would say one of mine is acts of service: actions speak louder than words.  I love when someone shows me they care or take the time to do something thoughtful or kind.  Many times you show love the same way you want to receive love.  So that's why I love putting together fun little boxes of 'love' or 'sunshine' for those I care about.  And live far away from me.  Just a little something to say I'm thinking of you, you're important to me and you are loved.  

I've put together two sunshine boxes, one for my dear friend Tracy and one for my mom.  I recently just put together a box of love for me mom.  A bit of a combo gift for her birthday, anniversary and Valentine's Day.  With it being so close to Valentine's Day, it was easy to find lots of pink and red items.  Part of the fun is trying to find little things to fill up the box.  Candy, magazines, napkins, candles, gift cards, lip gloss, etc all make for a fun surprise.  

This was an easy DIY project I did for my mom.  I got two chunks of square wood.  I stained the wood black.  Then white washed them - just a thin coat of white paint.  Sanded them gently.  I developed two picture from London Drugs in a 4x4.  I did have to trim abit to make them fit.  I glued them on and then Mod Podged them twice to seal and add shine.  So easy and a cute way to display pictures.

Here are the two boxes of 'sunshine' I put together for my mom and a friend.

If you are looking for a fun way to bless someone far away, try it.  Who doesn't love happy mail!

faith begins at home

This past weekend I had the privilege to attend a conference with a few ladies from our church called Transform: Children's Ministry and Parents Conference 2014.  I attended on two premise.  One as a parent.  The other as a Sprout Cluster Leader.  Trevor and myself co-lead the life group for young families at LEFC.  This is our second year.  It was been challenging, rewarding and brought us closer to God and young families in our church community.  

I thought I would highlight what I took away from the conference.

The main speaker was Mark Holmen from Faith@Home.  He made some really good points that I hope encourage you.

The first night he talked to us about the importance of parents and faith in the home.  He stated that 60-90% of current christian children leave the faith after graduating high school.  Wow.  I knew the number were high but this really hit home.  The main reason is they don't like how they see faith being done in the home.  So what we are doing and how we are plays a huge role in our children future relationship with Jesus.  Mom and Dad are two to three times more influential than any church program.  To break it down further, mothers were the top religious influence for both males and females followed by father.  So many people put their child's faith in the hands of Sunday school, church camp or pastors when they are secondary to the most important influence = parents.  Did I feel some pressure when I left that night, absolutely!  It wasn't anything I didn't know but a good kick in the pants.  I feel we do an ok job living out our faith with our children but we can be doing way better.

He talked about how he and his wife decided to pray over their daughter at a young age a blessing.  Each and everyday.  Till she went away to college.  It was Numbers 6: 24-26.  He stressed the importance of finding the time every day to show Jesus to our children.  I posted the verses by the kids bed so every day I can pray a blessing over them.

The second day he talked about a new vision for our families.  There were two ways to set this in motion.  The first one was a Family Mission Statement.  Again, I've thought about it but never actually done it.  So my goal is to have one drafted and ready to print for our home by March 1.  This my attempt to keep myself accountable.   Another act of bringing Christ in the home is Blessing of a Dwelling.  This is basically praying over your new home with friends and family.

The last part of his talk was about a few practical things as parents we should be doing on a regular basis: faith talk, prayer, Bible reading, serve and boundaries/discipline. 

He shared with us a free Prayer App that Faith@Home just created.  It has different categories and it generates a new prayer by shaking your phone.  Pretty cool.  

We had two breakout sessions during the day.  The first one I attended was by Neil Josephson of FamilyLife Canada.  His session was titled The Paradox of Parenting.  I liked how he defined parenting: to learn to live with God and without you.  I thought it was simple and so true.  
The second breakout session was by Jon Imbeau of Awana Canada.  He spoke on Teachable Moments.  I was looking for some practical tips to do this.  There were a few ideas that got me thinking: 
a] find a time in the day that works for the whole family to do devotions, Bible reading, prayer.  We always sit down to eat as a family at night so I've decided this will be our family time.  Uninterrupted family God time.  We will sing, read, dance to worship songs ... whatever we feel like.  I found a few kid friendly devotionals we are going to try.
b] memorize Bible verses: kids learn best through song so I thought we could make a little jingle to hep us memorize with the help of Daddy on the guitar.  We usually sing our meal time prayers such as Johnny Appleseed or The Brown Cow so I think the kids will love this.  I found a blog post about the top five scriptures for toddlers to memorize so we might start there: Teachers of Good Things. c] have your child catch you in prayer and reading your Bible.  

Everyone always leaves a conference stirred and excited but I hope by writing this I follow through.  This isn't just something a little important.  It's the most important thing I will ever do. It's eternal life for my children.  It's the joy of a relationship with Jesus that I want my children to have.  

endless ideas with washi tape

Washi tape is a crafters delight.  It's fun, easy to use and cheap.  You can find it at most craft stores.  I found some at Target last week in the office supplies.  
I sat down to craft yesterday afternoon and the possibilities really are endless.  You just have to use your imagination.  You can make cards, gifts, decorate pencils/clothes pins/straws to party decorations.  Flags and buntings are really popular right now so it's an easy way to create your own.

With Valentine's Day coming in a month, it's the perfect way to decorate or treat your special Valentine to something made with love.

Don't limit yourself and have fun. 
ps.  don't leave out the kids, it's fun and easy for them too!

If you are looking for more ideas, Pinterest has plenty.  Just search 'washi tape'.  

a remake of a 1962 chair

This past summer I took Oliver with me to do some antique shopping in New Westminster.  We made an afternoon of it and enjoyed our time.  I was on the lookout for some sitting chairs for our living room.  Something I could refinish easily and put in front of our window.  I felt I need something to fill the space.  I didn't want to spend an arm and a leg because I've never refinished chairs with cushions.  I finally found a set for $120.00 for the pair.  I brought them home with high hopes and a nervous feeling.  

I had a hard time deciding if I wanted to paint them cream or black.  I do most furniture in white so I decided to go with black which is classic and different from what I've done before.  I struggled equally in the fabric store trying to find the perfect fabric to recover the cushions.  I settled on a cream and black chevron type fabric.  

I painted them with two coats of black chalk pain from FAT Paint.  They are local producers of chalk paint in New Westminster.  I then sealed them with wax.  

I had to wait till my parents visited for Thanksgiving for a staple gun.  My Dad had one and brought it out for me just for this project.  Thanks Dad!  Getting the old material proved to be time consuming and difficult.  It was tacked and stapled on.  Once it was off, it was time to recover.  This was the nerve wracking part.  So Trevor and I worked as a team to make sure the fabric was tight [and straight].  While one positioned the fabric, the other stapled.  For the most part we did pretty good but always room for improvement.  I then bought some black trim and glued in on the front two legs to cover up the seams.  I also added felt pads on the bottom of the legs because they were metal and would scratch our floors.  I bought them at the dollar store.  

Overall, I'm quite pleased with my remake of these 1962 chairs.  I love that they are one of kind.

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