Fashion Friday-Easter (Flashback) Edition

Does your whole family coordinate on Easter? Do you get your children special “Easter outfits”? Here are some flashbacks from over the years.  Usually the girls get new “Easter dresses” every year, but Jason and I tend to wear whatever we have around. I don’t worry about coordinating, just whatever works. I love Easter, what it means, pretty spring outfits, and fun egg hunts! Easter13(1) easter2011(2) easter2011(3) Easter2012 MommyElleEaster10

Easter-Resurrection Eggs

ResurrectionEggs

As Christians, we tend to do a good job educating our children about Christmas and what it means, but we often fall short when it comes to Easter. I don’t know if it is because it is hard to talk about death and the crucifixion or if we just get too busy. Either way, there is no excuse. Now that our girls are getting old enough to understand Easter and participate in some activities, I am committed to being more purposeful in explaining Easter to them. Last year I made my own resurrection eggs like these from Family Life. They even offer a free downloadable activity book to go along with the eggs. We have done a few of the activities and coloring pages out of it, but I would have liked to do more. Maybe next year.

RessurectionEggsInside

What I love most about our resurrection eggs is how easy it makes it to explain the Easter story in such a fun interactive way. The girls get excited to open the eggs as we go through the story. Last year I had them open one egg each day for 12 days, but did it differently this year. I felt like it was hard (at their ages) to remember the story from day to day to be about to put it all together in the end. This year we have sat down and gone through the entire story and all of the eggs in one sitting. We have done it numerous days without making it too much that they loose interest. For our family, this way has seemed to work better. I have found that they are able to grasp the story as a whole better and understand the sequence of events. I plan to make our resurrection eggs an ongoing tradition in our family.

A Sense of the Resurection

Something else new we are doing this year is the a sense of the resurrection ebook. Some of the activities are still a little bit old for my children’s ages, but we are able to adapt where needed. It is full of activities to do with children that incorporate all of their senses. My girls have really enjoyed it and I hope to continue to do more of it year after year. Amanda at OhAmanda is a great resource for educating our children about the Lord. What other ways do you teach the importance and true meaning of Easter? I would love more ideas!

The Family Life eggs are great, but If you are interested in making your own set, these are the verses I used from the Macs:

1: Matthew 21: 1-9-Donkey

2: John 13: 1-20-Washcloth

3: Luke 22: 7-23-cracker

4: Luke 22: 39-46-Praying Hands

5: Luke 22: 47-54-Flashlight

6: Matthew 26: 69-75-Rooster

7: Matthew 27: 3-9-Silver Coins

8: John 18: 28-32-Crown for a King

9: John 19: 1-16-Crown of Thorns

10: John 19: 17-37-Nail or Cross

11: John 19: 38-42-Rock/Stone

12: Matthew 28: 1-10-Empty Egg

I would suggest buying the “nesting eggs” and using the largest size. I found a lot of the objects were too large for the standard size Easter eggs.  Also, I was able to find a donkey and rooster at Wal-Mart last year, but had to print off pictures for the praying hands, and the two crowns. Have fun!

marriage mondays {song of solomon-courtship)

Tommy Nelson-Song of Solomon

we are continuing with our song of solomon series today. the next part of the series is about courtship. i have never truly understood the difference between courtship and dating. i still don’t know that i have a great grasp on it, but this part of the series did help. from my understanding the biggest difference is the goal of the relationship. dating is more of a just fun, hanging out type relationship. in my opinion, this would be a high school relationship because they are not maturely ready for marriage. in contrast, courting is a relationship between two people who are actively seeking marriage. according to those definitions i would say my husband and i started in a dating relationship but then grew into a courting relationship. i would guess there are many relationships that go that route. tommy nelson discusses how serious courtship is. it is going to either end in marriage or a break up, so either way you are giving a piece of yourself away that you will never get back. i don’t think this is something that young people think about often enough. proverbs 4: 23 says, above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. if one isn’t careful in their dating and courting decisions they can give away so much of their hearts that there is little left for the one they end up marrying.

he also discusses the importance of accountability in courting relationships to ensure purity. it is no secret that the Lord created each of us with desires and attractions toward each other but courtship is not the place for those to be acted upon. it is risky for one to trust themselves in this area.  an accountability partner can pray for you, check in on you, and be a sounding board when needed.

there was one part of the courtship section that i had a hard time with. tommy talks about how most couples can go through the courtship to marriage process within one year or so. now i do realize that jason and i’s relationship is probably an extreme rarity, but one year seems fast for me. now saying that, i do know several couples who met, dated, and married quickly and have amazing marriages, so i am definitely not suggesting that it isn’t possible. i guess i have just always been more of the “what’s the rush” type. i think of marriage as the second (behind choosing to follow God) biggest decision one will make in their life so i have always felt like there is no reason to make it so fast. again though, had i met jason later in life (like at actual legal marrying age), i am sure i would have been in a hurry to marry him. so i guess it just depends on the situation.

marriage mondays {job changes}

life throws a lot at us. just the everyday stuff is sometimes overwhelming, but then there are the big things. i consider job changes to be one of the big things. we have faced a couple big job change decisions in our marriage, but this recent one seemed to be the hardest. it was hard because jason wasn’t looking for a new job. he loved where he was at, but an opportunity arose and he felt like he had to explore it. he did. he got offered the position. he took it. then the drama came. it was a good position to be in, but hard nonetheless. his current employer came at him with a counteroffer in an attempt to entice him to stay. he was torn. we were torn. we had made the decision together for him to take the new position. we felt that the Lord was really leading him to this new place and had laid all the groundwork to make it happen. we were confident and at peace with the decision. then all of this came along. we spent an entire weekend agonizing over what he was supposed to do. what decision to make. the only thing we knew for sure was that we wanted to follow the Lord and his will. we talked and prayed and prayed and talked all weekend. we discussed it with family and friends. it was a big decision for him and for our family. ultimately, he decided to stick with his original plan-to leave his current job and accept the new position. although the offer to stay at a place he knew he loved was appealing, we both knew that the Lord was calling him elsewhere. we had been so confident in that decision from the beginning and we just couldn’t shake that.

even though it can be stressful when life throws big changes and/or decisions our way, i love the way it can grow our marriage. it challenges us to communicate extensively and work together to make decisions. it encourages us to lean on each other and remember what is most important. it reminds us that we are in this together so these decisions affect us both (even if one more than the other). it demonstrates a true oneness partnership as we face it all together. in the end, it draws us closer together and closer to our Lord. i believe that He will bless that. bless the desire to follow him and do what is best for our marriage and family. so as we are currently in the midst of entering the unknown of a new job and navigating all that entails, we will grow as we lean on each other and put our confidence in God and where we know he has led us. i am so thankful for a husband that desires to provide for our family the best that he can. he always puts the girls and i before himself and does what he believes is best for us first and foremost. i am thankful for his willingness to include me in decisions, but his leadership in ultimately making the final decision. i am thankful for a husband that turns to God and follows after him and his will. i am thankful for a God that loves us more abundantly than i could ever have imagined. i am thankful.

fashion fridays-palazzo pants

palazzopantsi have not been wildly on board with this trend. most of the palazzo pants i have seen are just too much for me. however, i did find one pair that i love. the print is just perfect and i liked the sheerness to see the shorts underneath. it is enough to be interesting, yet not over the top. the colors are great too. i paired these pants with a simple cami, a nice spring neutral cardigan, and some neutral wedges. i love the look. what i love most though is the comfort. these pants are like wearing pajama pants except even better because they are so light. looking slightly dressed up while still being comfy is an awesome thing to find. i may just be convinced that palazzo pants are the way to go. i still don’t think i will own many pairs, but this will definitely be a go to outfit for this spring and summer. After this picture I did end up returning them to the store to be hemmed. I have on wedges with this outfit and you can’t even tell because the pants are so long. I am not always graceful so I couldn’t chance tripping on them.

kindergarten

kindergarten

this year our oldest daughter has attended preschool 3 mornings a week at our church. although the first day was hard for me, i was okay with it because it was such a short amount of time away and it was at our church. as the school year comes closer to the end, i know what looms…kindergarten.

i called a few weeks ago to sign her up for kindergarten round up. i was crying and aching on the inside but i had to put on a front for her to see. she has been apprehensive about going to kindergarten so i have to pretend that i am super excited about it in an attempt to get her excited. last week was our appointment so i did it. i took her to kindergarten round up. i cannot wrap my brain around this. how did it all go so quickly. how is my baby already old enough for kindergarten. i wish time would slow down. i wish i could have just a few more years at home with her. i wish i could protect her from all the ugly in the world. i wish. i wish. i wish. as i think about this coming fall and letting her go into the world in a sense, i have to turn my thoughts to what i know. what i know is that she was fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who does not forsake her. i know that He will be with her as she bounces into school on her first day and everyday thereafter. i know that we have raised her to be strong in her faith and who she is. i know that it will be good for her. i know that she will love school. i know that she will learn. i know that she will have fun. i know the days will go fast and she will be home. i know that this will allow good quality time with the other 2 girls. i know that she and i will survive this transition. i know. that is what i am choosing to focus on. the truths. as we send her off for her first year of ‘real’ school i also know that my job as a parent will become even harder, but i am okay with that. no one said parenting was easy, but i had no idea it would be this hard at times either. it is so worth it though, all of it. watching a piece of your heart go out into the world is scary and sometimes hurts, but i know i serve a big God who holds her in his hands so i must loosen my grip and watch her flourish.

last friday was the scheduled kindergarten round up. we survived. she did great! i was so proud of her confidence as she went in the room with the teacher for her testing. she wasn’t scared, apprehensive, or shy. she just followed right in and focused on what she was asked to do. then the teacher met with me to go over her testing, give me more information about the coming events, and answer any questions i had. i was also proud of myself. i only got teary eyed but didn’t all out cry. that summed up the kindergarten round up experience. now i need to focus on being very intentional with our summer plans and making the most of every last minute of being at home with my sweet baby girl that is growing up too fast for my momma heart!

my mom has been a teacher all of her career and shared this letter with me before my oldest started preschool. of course i cried like a baby reading it. as we head toward kindergarten it rings even more true to me.

“ We Trust You’ll Treat Her Well”

Dear World:

We bequeath to you today one little girl . . in a crispy dress . . . with two brown eyes . . . and a happy

laugh that ripples all day long . . . and a flash of light brown hair that bounces in the sun when she runs.

I trust you’ll treat her well.

She’s slipping out of the backyard of my heart this morning. . . and skipping off down the street

to her first day of school. And never again will she be completely ours. Prim and proud she’ll wave her

young and independent hand this morning and say “Goodbye Mommy and Daddy” and walk with little

lady steps to the schoolhouse.

Now she’ll learn to stand in lines . . . and wait by the alphabet for her name to be called. She’ll learn to tune her ears for the sounds of school-bells . . and deadlines . . . and she’ll learn to giggle . . . and gossip . . . and look at the ceiling in a disinterested way when the little boy ‘cross the aisle sticks out his tongue at her. And now she’ll learn to be jealous. And now she’ll learn how it is to feel hurt inside. And now she’ll learn how not to cry.

No longer will she have time to sit on the front porch on a summer day and watch an ant

scurry across the crack in the sidewalk. Nor will she have time to pop out of bed with the

dawn and kiss lilac blooms in the morning dew. No, now she’ll worry about those

important things . . . like grades and which dress to wear and whose best friend is whose.

And the magic of books and learning will replace the magic of her blocks and dolls. And

now she’ll find new heroes.

For five full years now we’ve been her Santa Claus, pal and playmate , mother, father, and friend.

Now she’ll learn to share her worship with her teachers . . . which is only right. But no longer will we be the smartest man and woman in the whole world. Today when that school bell rings for the first time . . . she’ll learn what it means to be a member of the group . . . with all its privileges and its disadvantages too.

She’ll learn in time that proper young ladies do not laugh out loud. . . or kiss dogs. . . or keep frogs in pickle jars in bedrooms. . . or even watch ants scurry across cracks in sidewalks in the summer.

Today she’ll learn for the first time that all who smile at her are not her friends. And we’ll stand on the front porch and watch her start out on the long, lonely journey to becoming a woman. So, world, I bequeath to you today one little girl. . . in a crispy dress. . . with two brown eyes. . . and a flash of light brown hair that bounces in the sunlight when she runs.

We trust you’ll treat her well!

 

 

marriage mondays {praying together}

couples who pray together stay together. maybe you have heard this before, maybe you haven’t. i believe it to be true. as a believer, i know firsthand the power of prayer. it renews, restores, and rejuvenates. i have witnessed true miracles through the power of prayer. so why do so many of us not incorporate it into our marriages? i realize that to some, prayer is a very private thing, but who better to share it with than our spouse. jason and i pray together every night before bed, just the two of us. of course we pray as a family before meals and before bed as well, but then we have our alone time. i give all the credit to jason for starting this habit. as the man and spiritual leader in our home he took the initiative to begin praying together as a couple. i cannot tell you the impact it has made, not only in 0ur marriage, but just in our lives in general. there is something about coming before the Father together that draws us closer to each other and puts us on the same page even more. there is no right or wrong way to pray, therefore there is no right or wrong way to pray as a couple either. jason and i wait until we are laying in bed together. we hold hands and as each other for prayer requests. then one of us prays out loud. we typically trade off nights so we both have an active part in the process. it is such a special time in which we can lift up whatever is going on, good and bad. if one of us is staying up later for some reason then we pray together before the other goes to bed so we still have that time. i realize that not everyone is comfortable praying out loud, so maybe start with just discussing prayer requests together and then praying silently on your own. i find that there is power and intimacy in doing it out loud so maybe eventually you would get there, but if not, that’s fine too. the most important thing is to make a commitment to set aside that time together for focused prayer. for some of you, maybe night isn’t a good time, that’s fine too. i encourage you to talk with your spouse about it and figure out what works for you as a couple. i can promise you that it will grow your marriage and make you more united as one. let’s pray!

diy: fireplace makeover

DIY Fireplace Makeoveri was 32 weeks pregnant when we moved in to our home. there were not necessarily major renovation projects to be done, but we knew we wanted to re paint every room in the house. seriously, every room. being that i was pregnant i couldn’t do a lot of painting so jason took a few days off, my dad took a few days off, my mother in law took a day off, and my mom took a week off to help. it was a huge blessing! they re painted nearly every room in our house in one week. it was truly amazing. now that we have been here awhile and i am obviously not pregnant anymore, we are slowly starting on some other projects around the house. the first was our fireplace makeover. we had already decided that we wanted to paint all of our oak woodwork white throughout the house. we thought it best to start with the fireplace as it would show us instant big results and therefore encourage us to keep going with such a daunting task. this was our fireplace before. this is the picture from when the house was on the market, so not our furniture.

fireplacebefore

first, we painted everything white. i used zinnser primer followed by valspar paint +primer in the sherwin williams color, snowfall.  i only sanded the cabinet doors a little bit since i knew they would get more wear. otherwise it worked fine to not strip or sand because of the primer we used. just the white paint really changed the look of things and made the room seem so much bigger and brighter. next, i knew i wanted beadboard behind the shelves. i knew i wanted that look but i wasn’t sure how it would work. if we used real beadboard we would have to cut all of our shelves because they wouln’t fit anymore with the thicker beadboard behind them. then my husband asked if they made beadboard looking wallpaper. he is a genius like that. i knew i had seen it before so i checked online. turned out that lowes carried it and it was paintable. so cool. the best part was that it was way cheaper than real beadboard would have been. so after painting the white we put up the beadboard wallpaper. it was super easy to work with, however, i wouldn’t recommend it on a regular wall. it dents really easy so i don’t think it would wear well. it is great for behind our shelves though as it won’t receive much wear back there. once we had it up it actually looked really good just being white, but we went ahead and painted it brown like the original plan.

fireplaceshelves

beadboardwallpaperclose

i think it looks better to have some contrast instead of so much stark white. i love how it turned out. next, we needed to do something about the sand colored tile. i had never liked it but it was even worse after painting the rest white. obviously this picture in progress was before we had finished the beadboard, but look how bad it looks with the white. i wanted more contrast and just an all around different look.

fireplaceinprogress

i had an idea in my mind of what i wanted the finished product to look like. so logically i googled fireplace makeovers to look for ideas. that is when i came across airstone. i visited several blogs and looked at tons of pictures from people who had used it. they all seemed to think it was great and easy to install. this was key because i wanted something that gave the look of stone but that we could do ourselves and afford. we couldn’t spend a fortune on this project. we eventually decided to try it out. it comes in two colors, one being more on the warm side with browns, and one more on the cool side with grays. since all of our house is grays and cool colors we went with that option. it is sold at lowe’s, however, i had quite the time trying to find it. of course i didn’t start looking until the day before we had set to do the project. the first lowes only had corner pieces left in the gray color. we didn’t need corner, we only needed flat. i called another lowe’s and they told me they had none left and that they were going to quit carrying this particular color (i don’t know if that is correct or not). i decided to stop by that lowe’s anyway to see if they could order some in for me. in desperate hope i walked by the airstone section just to be sure. i lucked out! i found 3 boxes of the flat pieces in the color we wanted and the best part was that they were at clearance prices. they usually ran around $30/box and i got them for $10/box! score! i went home a happy camper. the next day we got to work. i had read online and found out that the airstone could be applied directly to ceramic tile. this worked out great and saved a lot of extra time and work as we didn’t have to tear out the existing tile around the fireplace. we did have to tear out the tile on the hearth though to replace it with a color that matched. scraping the old glue off down there was the longest project of the day. then we laid the new gray colored tile so we could put the first piece of airstone right down against it. fireplaceglue

jason thought we could just start gluing the airstone up and figure out the pattern as we went. i am sure this would have worked too, but it was too much for my planning, perfectionist personality. so i measured the area and laid them all out on the floor to get an idea of it all. i wanted to be sure it was a good mixture of shapes, color shades, and lines. as we started to cut and glue we had to make some minor adjustments but it worked pretty well.  fireplacelayout

we ended up painting gray tinted primer over the ceramic tile just to be safe. this was not a necessary step but we wanted it to be dark behind instead of light so that it would match if there were any places that could be seen even just a little between the cracks of the stone.primedfireplace

the airstone website says you can use a hack saw to cut the pieces. i am sure that would have worked fine, but my dad ended up cutting them all using his tile cutter since we had it up here anyway for the new hearth tile. it went much faster using that to cut the pieces than a hack saw would have been.

fireplacestoneandtile

we could not be happier with the finished product. it turned out exactly as i envisioned. best of all this extreme transformation only cost about $250 total. that includes primer, paint, supplies, beadboard wall paper, cabinet pulls, airstone, adhesive, and tile. i love projects that make a big impact on a little budget.

fireplacebefore:after

marriage mondays {song of solomon-dating}

Dating

today i am continuing with the song of solomon series by tommy nelson. after attraction comes dating. in our world today there are many different views and definitions of dating. from my own love story, i considered dating to be an exclusive thing in which i was committed to furthering my relationship with just that one person. often times today i hear of someone dating multiple people at one time. tommy nelson challenges singles not to begin a dating relationship unless they are ready to be responsible for another person’s heart. when thought of in this way, dating carries a lot more weight. going on dates with multiple people to determine your level of interest can be necessary, but continuing to date and invest with multiple people only ends in heartache for someone. it is important to realize the responsibility and maturity required to exclusively date someone. over the course of time that person is opening up and putting their trust in you. this is why casual dating is hard for me to understand. dating is the beginning of a courtship that ends in marriage so should not be taken lightly. as parents of 3 girls, we plan to be fairly strict on dating in high school in an effort to protect their hearts and encourage them to grow in their own maturity first. we sure won’t forbid it altogether though.  after all, jason and i were high school sweethearts and look how well that worked out! i think the key in dating at any age is to find the person who respects whatever standards are put forth as the relationship grows and develops.

the series doesn’t talk much about continuing to “date” once married, but this is so important. it is amazing the things we will do to impress someone when dating them and trying to woo them, but too often that excitement and zeal fades after marriage. it shouldn’t be this way. it is so important to continue to go out of our way to serve our spouses and make them feel valued no matter how long we have been together. now, i don’t mean that we should necessarily feel that we have to keep impressing them daily as when dating, afterall, we should be more comfortable in our marriage. as we date someone enough to start considering marriage we naturally start to show more and more of our inner selves which is a good thing. i just mean that we shouldn’t get too comfortable and take our spouse for granted in marriage. especially having 3 young kids, our date nights out are so special to us. it is often when we dress up a bit more, when jason opens doors for me (because he doesn’t have kids in his hands), and we remember the things that drew us together to begin with.  on the other hand, jason and i were also talking about how having a “date night” together doesn’t always have to be going out and being fancy. sometimes our date nights are just a movie night at home or sitting out on the deck talking after the girls are in bed. just the alone time giving each other undivided attention is what matters most. investing in each other and our relationship is what dating is all about, in the beginning and still now after years of marriage.

fashion friday {floral prints}

floral prints are big this spring. you can find floral prints on tops, bottoms, and accessories. i am loving it and can’t wait to get my hands on a few pieces. i feel that this is a trend that could easily be taken overboard, so tread lightly. just one top, one bottom, and/or one scarf would suffice. i love that the floral prints are so fresh, bright, and colorful. just makes me happy. i also like that the styling possibilities are endless, especially with the floral pants as seen in the picture of the kids below. they go with so many different tops. so be on the lookout for some fun florals this spring. you are sure to find something you like with all the choices. i ordered a floral kimono from jane.com and am anxious for it to get here. i will be sure to show how i style it once i get it. kids floral leggings

so cute! floral leggings for little girls. i think my girls may need some.

spring floral top2 spring floral top

women’s floral high low top in two different colors. both so pretty, how do you choose?

spring floral skirt2 spring floral skirt

women’s floral pencil skirt. pencil skirts usually don’t seem to work well on me, but this is a cute option for those that like them.

spring floral scarfwomen’s floral infinity scarf. such a fun accessory to spice up just a plain colored tee.

all of the above from jane.com. if you haven’t been on there, check it out. they have fabulous daily deals on some really cute, trendy things.