Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter! Love, Kayleigh Grace

There's something so sweet about seeing your child sit in the wicker rocking chair that was yours when you were her size.  Thank you, Lord, for our precious girl.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Christos Anesti!

One of my favorite traditions growing up was something my family said to each other every Easter morning.  As soon as we first saw him that day, my dad would kiss our foreheads and say, "Christos Anesti!"  Being well-seasoned in this family tradition, my three siblings and I would each chime back "Altheo Anesti!"

The beauty of those words is the same whether the truth is spoken in Greek or in English:

He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

The Saturday before Easter is usually a somber day, one where we think on Christ's death and the time He spent separated from the love of His Father, taking our place in death so that we could live forever with Him in Heaven.  While I am remembering that today, I just wanted to share this with you and remind you of the coming joy of tomorrow.

Our Lord is not dead.  Unlike others in the Bible who rose from the dead, returned to their lives, and then died again, Jesus did not die.  Nor, unlike other religions, is our God some inanimate figurine in a temple or on a shelf.  Our Christ was crucified.  He bore our sins so that we wouldn't have to.  He is victorious over death, and He is coming again.  He is risen.  Death could not contain Him.  Even the sin of the entire world--life after life through ages and ages--was not enough to keep Him in the grave forever.

Christos Anesti.  He is risen.

Those words in Greek contain special meaning to my family because of my dad's love for Greece and his fond memories of the years he spent there as a young adult, but the truth is there for everyone.  In every language, spoken and unspoken, He is Risen.  Alleluia!

As you prepare for the celebration of tomorrow, be reminded of what these words mean.  It's not written in the past tense--he rose, or he has risen.  He is risen--He was lifted up, and He continues to live.  The beautiful realization of the women at the tomb is the same for us.  Our God lives.

Altheo Anesti!

Here is my Easter gift to you--a free Easter Subway Art Printable!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Letter to my 18 Month Old Sweet Girl

My Sweet Kayleigh Grace,

When you were a precious little newborn, I remember sitting in a friend's kitchen and listening to her tell me that each month would be more wonderful than the last. I thought she was crazy. How could the "Terrible Twos" be more wonderful than snuggling this precious, pink and wrinkly little bundle that smelled so good and felt so wonderful wrapped in my arms? In the months since then, you have shown me that she was right.

Each month, you add new and wonderful things to your ever-growing list of abilities, and each one is more exciting than the last. When you were six months old, you sat up and waved and we thought it was the most exciting thing on the planet. When you turned 1, you toddled around the house and bopped to your favorite songs, and we took hundreds of videos and played your favorite songs over and over. But now? Now you can dance. And you can tell me which song you want to sing. And you lisp your precious baby words along to the song, and it melts my heart.

My sweet girl, your are your daddy's and my greatest joy. Each night is filled with "Guess what Kayleigh did today?" and "Look at her! She's so cute!" Daddy and I love sharing in our love for you. We love your precious one-fingered kiss (no "blowing kisses" for you--you pop your pointer finger in your mouth, suck on it, and then send the kiss over to the lucky recipient. Don't stop that ever, please. I'll cry!). We love the way you greet us in the morning with so much excitement, and then immediately ask where the other parent is, too. We love your love for "pretty" things and laugh at the way you manage to carry a tube of Mommy's lip balm, a hair brush, and your plastic jewelry while pushing a baby stroller and acting like a mommy. We love your caring heart, and the way you greet kids with an exuberant "Hiiiiiiiiiii fennnnnnnd! (friend)" We love the way you get down on the floor to pat your crying baby friends on the backs and tell them "S'ok, beebee." We laugh every time we remember the day that Daddy was sick and you surprised us both by carrying his laptop all the way from the couch to our bed because you knew it would make him feel better.

Though you knew about 25 words when you turned one, there's no way we could count your vocabulary now. You are so intelligent that I don't consider there to be anything that you don't understand anymore. Many parenting books say to speak to your child in short sentences or one-word commands because that's all they understand. We disagree. If I say, "Kayleigh, where's your cup? Go get it--it's in the kitchen!" You'll come back with your cup. If I ask you to go get your shoes so that we can go outside, you come back with two matching sneakers and a big smile while squealing "Outside! Outside!" Your favorite is when we ask you to do something to be helpful. "Take these keys to Daddy, please," or "Can you please give this book to Mommy?" We've learned to watch the weight limit that we ask you to carry, though, because if it's too heavy for you, you sit down next to it and cry like you're brokenhearted about letting us down. It's sad and adorable at the same time--but it shows so much of your servant's heart!

Yes, we even love your "Stinkface!"
 You knocked my socks off the other day by counting to six when we thought you could only count to three, and since then, you've showed us that you can go all the way up to eleven. You love anything with color, and so far, you can successfully identify orange ("oink"), blue ("boo"), purple ("puhpul") and pink ("peek"). Your favorite is definitely pink.
Any time you find something pink (like my pink washcloth today, for instance) you get SO excited and point to it while dancing and saying "Peek!" so proudly. Ah, my heart. We love you!

Art is one of your favorite activities at home, and you get so excited when I bring out crayons, paper, paint, and glitter.  You decide who each artwork goes to, and you repeat their name over and over while you create.  "Ami," you'll say, looking into my eyes and nodding sincerely so that I get your point, "Ami."  Other current favorites are playing outside on our patio, where you love to play on the slide, decorate the brick walls with chalk, chase bubbles, talk to the flowers, listen for birds, and delight in our wind chimes.

Your contentment in your little world makes me so thankful, and I pray that you are always this joyful to spend time with your dad and mom.  You are God's greatest gift to us, and we are so thankful for you--for your beautiful heart and the glimpses we see of the loving young lady you will become. We praise God for you daily, sweet girl.

18 months in and I love you more than I thought possible when you were first born.  I only expect it to grow exponentially from here.

We love you!


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Beautiful Springtime Bunting

I've always loved bunting.  It's such a sweet and simple way to dress up a space, and it practically screams "Celebrate!"

When I put together an Easter/18 month photo shoot for my sweet Kayleigh Grace, I knew that I wanted to incorporate bunting as the backdrop.  I found her dress on clearance at Gymboree and fell in love with the rows of ribbons and colorful fabric.  I was so excited when I got home and found ribbon and fabric in my stash that perfectly matched her outfit!

What you will need:
  • Fabric (I used white for the triangles, and two patterned fabrics for the yoyos)
  • Sewing machine (or glue--it's up to you!)
  • Ribbon
  • Buttons, yoyos, any additional embellishments you would like to add
  •  String (I used white yarn, but would have used twine if I could have found mine)
  • Iron/ironing board (if you're a perfectionist like me!)

Cut a triangle out of cardstock or cardboard.  I just played with the template until I got one I liked. My template measured 6 inches wide and and about 6.5 inches high.

Fold your fabric lengthwise so that the top layer is just a little longer than the triangle template and iron the fold so that it is stiff and smooth.  Place the top flat edge of the triangle template on the fold and trace as many triangles as you will need for your bunting.

Cut through both layers of fabric, being careful not to cut through the fold.  When you are finished, each triangle should be able to unfold into the shape of a diamond.

To add visual interest, I did an ABC pattern of ribbon, fabric, and plain.  I'm planning to create a yoyo tutorial soon, so check back for that :)

For the ribbon, I simply cut lengths of three coordinating ribbons and then placed them on the fabric until I found something I liked.  You can see some of my examples:

I used fabric glue to hold the ribbons in place, and then I sewed*** the "V" along the border of the triangle to really anchor the ribbons.  If you choose to glue the two layers of the triangle together, just make sure that you glue your ribbons down really securely.

***Make sure that you leave about a one inch gap from the fold towards the point (as pictured in the first triangle photo).  This will give you the ability to slip your string through the space and hang it--like a curtain rod goes through a curtain.

Once you have sewn/glued the triangle pieces, you can snip the ribbon lengths to the edge of the triangles.

Assembling your Bunting
Now it's time to string your triangles together and get ready to hang them.  To do this, I took a crochet hook and taped my string to it, then pushed the crochet hook through the spaces in each triangle.  For the photo shoot backdrop I made for my daughter, I did two lengths of 6 triangles each.  Figure out how you will hang your bunting before cutting your string.  The nice thing about this lacing method for the triangles is that it's not permanent--if you don't like the pattern you made, or want to change the triangles around to be more aesthetically pleasing, just unstring them and try again.

Whether you're making bunting as a photo backdrop, party decoration, or room decor, this simple project will brighten the space and add a personal touch that you can be proud of.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A New Season

I've been a stranger to my own blog.  That's an odd feeling.  I blogged back in November about my cup overflowing, and that was the way my life looked from September until last week.  All good things, but too many to keep up with to be able to do a good job of blogging, too.

My quarter ended last Friday.  For the past 2 years, I've taught college ESL writing courses online and absolutely loved it.  Balancing life as a work-from-home mom and daycare provider has been challenging, but it was a blessing.  I found out two weeks ago that the online program for the private university is closing, which means that my job ended, too.  I went into panic mode for a little while, but now I'm leaning on the Everlasting Arms and trusting that the One who provided me with that wonderful job in the first place will lead the way and give us wisdom as to what to do next.

I am sad, though.  I loved teaching--really loved it.  And my students were the sweetest, most caring people.  I've been really blessed by the relationships that were created over the last two school years.  Even though I won't be their teacher any more, many of them asked me to continue to send updates and pictures of Kayleigh.  I love that.  I'm so thankful for those kids!

Anyway, life is back to a new normal.  One where I wake up without a cloud of essays to work through before Kayleigh wakes up, and one where I'm not trying to steal spare moments during naps and bedtimes to write lesson plans and email students.  Instead, our dining table looks like my craft closet threw up on it, and I've had a needle and thread, a glue gun, and yarn out and in use ever since.  Simply being a mom/daycare provider/wife again is awesome.  I have no idea what our next plan is financially, but it's going to have to be something, because that job was 1/3 of our family's income.  For this week, though, I'm simply enjoying.

And cuddling, and crafting, and exercising, and spring cleaning.  It's a lovely week.

I have so many projects that I've made over the last few months that I'm dying to share with all of you.  The only problem is, I never had time to create tutorials for them, and half of them, I didn't even have time to take pictures along the way.  I'll be working to write up posts and recreate projects in the coming weeks and share a little creativity in this crafty space.

sneak peek of Kayleigh's Easter photo shoot!

Oh, friends, I've missed you!  It's good to be back.