Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Good Book | Project Life Digital Freebie

Download Good Book Mini Kit HERE.

It's been a crazy long time since I offered any digital freebies. Frankly I haven't been spending a lot of time designing these days. But the other day I sat down for a bit and worked on some designs. I've been wanting to document some of the books that I have been reading, in Project Life. So, here is a little mini kit of 3x4 pocket cards. Hope you find something you can use to document your own reading.

What book recommendations do you have for me?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Kid Again or for the First Time

This happened on Saturday.

Eric and I have been talking about getting a trampoline on and off for the last few months. I don't remember for sure who brought it up first, but I'm thinking it was him. I want to say that I was indifferent, but that wouldn't be entirely true. But it definitely wasn't something I had my heart set on. (It's no secret I've been longing for new carpet now that we are pet-free again.)

We aren't that family that buys our kids outdoor toys. We never bought a backyard play set. The expense. The work. The maintenance. We talked ourselves out of it every single time it came up. So when we started talking about a trampoline I kind of assumed we would talk ourselves out of that too.

The last two weeks we started looking, online. My husband is an engineer. From the first mention of a trampoline he said, "If we get one, it's got to be a Springfree." Personally I thought that was just a way to limit the possibility of our actually owning one. But the truth is he wanted a Springfree because they are supposed to be the safest trampolines on the market and he was impressed with their engineering. (Blah, blah, blah.) But I started to look for a used Springfree one because those babies are pricey. (Remember how easy it is for us to talk ourselves out of a big purchase?)

Yesterday was the day. We did it! Honestly, I had no idea! There is nothing quite like that feeling of being airborne. I feel like a kid, at nearly 42. I am definitely having just as much fun or more fun than the kids. Worth every penny!

This morning I have been trying to come up with some spiritual application or justification for buying a trampoline. I'm coming up pretty empty. But there is that verse, Matthew 7:11 that talks about good gifts, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" I am not suggesting that God gave us a trampoline because we asked him for one and you should do the same. But I am suggesting that verse implies that God does expect us to give good gifts to our children. This was a good gift. I need to make sure I give each of the kids plenty of turns, instead of hogging it all for myself. Don't be afraid to give your children really great gifts sometimes. Might it help them to better understand that their Heavenly Father would want to give them really good things too?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Good Book | Clementine

I picked up this book while scouring the shelves at the library, looking for something to read aloud to my then five, six, and eight year olds that at least two of the three might enjoy. With the redheaded girl on the cover, along with the title, Clementine, it seemed worthy of throwing into my bag. Then it sat in the stack of library books at home, a long time. I think I renewed it three times. I happen to love that I can renew all the books I have checked out with just one click.

The night I finally tried it the kids had been in bed for about a half hour, but were still a little restless and I decided to be spontaneous. I told them to get up and gather in the hallway with their pillows and blanket. I asked them if they wanted me to read to them. Their eyes got huge. Who doesn't love the excitement of a treat, even if it is a simple as climbing out of bed after bedtime? And honestly, I thought, it's these silly little things they just might remember someday. And I was right, at the end of that Summer when asked their favorite thing we did, it was getting up after bedtime to read!

I cracked open Sara Pennypacker's Clementine and started to read. I really only meant to read one chapter, honest. It was well past their bedtime, but I just couldn't stop. Before I knew it we were finishing up the fourth chapter. We had giggled and laughed, gasped and rolled our eyes at Clementine's mischief. My second grader was telling me that his teacher should have chosen to read this one and my first grader said we should definitely check it out again.

Sara Pennypacker has some other great books too. (She's the author of the Flat Stanley books, which we've not yet read.) I thought we had read all of the books in the Clementine Series. Imagine my delight at discovering a new one came out this month called Completely Clementine. I placed a hold and should be getting the kids out of bed to read in the hallway later this week, after the swim lessons are done!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Kid Time | Do What You Love

Do what you love. Don't stress about the rest.

That's one of the things I've learned about being a mom.

I've tried doing what I "think" I should do. It leaves me terribly grumpy and snappish. How do you act when you feel like a failure. Not your best self either?

I have a friend who has two boys. She is always posting on Facebook all the fabulous and creative things she is doing with her boys. She accomplishes more pin-worthy, kid-friendly, educational activities on a Late-Start Wednesday (around here schools starts an hour and twenty minutes later on Wednesdays) than I accomplish with my kids in a year of Saturdays. I'm impressed. Seriously impressed. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a twinge of gift envy.

Truth is, I don't have the same gift mix she does. And I'm just wasting time and energy trying to do what she does. She's rocking the mom thing with HER gift mix. I love that! I choose to be her cheerleader without allowing her parenting successes to make me feel like I'm failing. Sometimes, I admit that requires some praying to change my attitude.

I've learned that I need to know what it is that I love, what makes my heart sing, and aim to do more of that with my kids.
  • I love books.
  • I love writing.
  • I love organizing.
  • I love art.
I need to do more of those things with my kids.

One of the many things I don't do is science (I married a scientist/engineer so my meager attempts look all the more inadequate). I do have a boy whose mind thinks like a scientist. Instead of pinning a bunch of science ideas, I registered my boy for a local science camp. No guilt when we dropped him off with his take apart items and up-cycle-able goods. Just a little spring in my step, a little giddy that he got to do something he loves and I wasn't biting his head off when I couldn't figure out why the light bulb didn't light up when I was sure I followed all the instructions.

Then the girls (who said, no thank you, to science camp) and I headed to Target for some hot beverages and leisurely wandering of the craft aisles. Then we headed to Michael's to stock up on some more specialized art supplies (still much cheaper than a week of science camp). Remember I love art, and as it turns out, so do they!

Over the course of Daniel's week at science camp, we had our own, very unstructured art camp at the dining room table. We made our own art journals and started filling them up. I'm sure some of our art projects will show up here at A Little Grace and Mercy eventually, but that isn't really what this post is about.

Making art is one of my things, it's what I enjoy. What's your thing? Do you bake up a storm? Bake with your kids. Do you garden? Have your kids garden with you. Do you always have your nails done? Do manicures or pedicures with your girls. Do you run? Have your kids run with you. Are you an engineer? Work on circuit boards together. Do you sew? Make doll clothes together. Are you a thrift store bargain hunter? A garage sale guru? Take them with you. You could even make a scavenger hunt out of it. Find something purple. Find something with rust on it. Find something stretched out. And remember, it doesn't have to be a week long camp. It can be one project together. Even just get them started. My favorite line from Super Nanny is: Play and walk away. But if you are choosing to do what you love with them, there is a much greater chance you'll want to stay and play with them and not walk away!

Do what you love with your kids; don't stress about the rest.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Right Now | May

Right now we're doing a lot of outside chores.
  • Hosted a work day and invited both sets of parents. Both showed up. I know, now I am bragging. The huge dent they made in the backlog of outdoor upkeep helped to get Spring cleaning kicked into gear.
  • I've learned to use the power washer. Several sessions in an old pair of tennis shoes and Eric insisted I let him buy me some boots. Dry feet and a sunny day make the chore a lot more fun. Wish they made something that worked such magic indoors.
  • Paper weed blocker purchased and ready to go down.
  • Load of rock ordered, soon to be delivered.
  • Porch chairs (promised for last year's birthday) purchased, along with colorful outdoor pillows to make me want to actually sit on the porch and read this summer.
Right now we're diligently widening our vegetable palette.
  • The kids have learned to add broccoli and asparagus to carrots, sugar snap peas, peas, and celery to their short list of tolerable dinner vegetables.
  • I wonder if olive oil and garlic salt will work magic on brussel sprouts
Right now I am trying to work the creative back into my rhythm.
  • After putting Project Life on the back burner, I'm getting photos printed and enjoying documenting the simple stories that make up our every day life right now.
  • Catching up has also included some new designs to put together some more freebies. It's been too long.
Right now we are planning Summer adventures.
  • A trip east of the mountains to honor our retiring pastor as he is applauded by others in this conference.
  • Registering for a science day camp.
  • Thinking about a drama Summer camp.
  • Looking up swimming lesson schedules.
  • Taking the RV in to get some repairs before committing to Yellowstone vacation dates.

Right now we are actively working towards simplifying life.
  • Saying good-bye to some dearly love pets.
  • Winding down leading a children's church program in preparation for a three-month Sabbath rest.
  • Sorting, organizing, and purging stuff.
  • Cutting off my hair to force myself to actually do it, instead of pulling it up in pony tail every day.

Right now saying yes, more than no to time with family.
  • Saying yes to multiple field trips with the kids' classes.
  • Saying yes to donut runs to the Donut House in Anacortes.
  • Saying yes to visiting Grampy and Grammy.
  • Saying yes to evening photo shoots with Uncle Andy.
  • Saying yes to morning and evening snuggles on the couch with all three kids.