{Day 23} Newspaper Snowflakes

IMGP1704These are the only kind of snowflakes I want to have this time of year.  I could tell you that I’m dreaming of snowflakes tenderly falling to the ground blanketing the world in white wonder, but the truth is I hate the cold and am glad I can wear my t-shirt today.  The grass is still green, the wind is blowing, but it’s not chilly.  The sun peeks its head out every now and then but otherwise it’s lovely.  But whether you’re shut in because of blizzard conditions or wish you could see real snowflakes in your window, do this craft with the kids and I promise you’ll have a good time!

All you’ll need is a newspaper, a ruler, a pencil, scissors, and string or ribbon.

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With your ruler measure out a perfect square (mine was 6″ by 6″) and cut it out.  Find some interesting pages of your newspaper, maybe with bright colors or an interesting picture.  Fold your square in half down the diagonal so it makes a triangle.  Do that two more times.  Then cut out interesting shapes along one of the open edges and along the folded edge.  Open and enjoy your snowflake!

IMGP1706It’s fun to see how your shapes turn into designs on the paper.  Experiment with different shapes and patterns on each piece of newspaper so each snowflake will be unique.

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Hang your snowflakes on a ribbon or string in a window or on a wall and as you do remind your kids (and yourself) that just like each snowflake is unique and no two are the same, so God made you unique and special.

 

Pinecone Birdfeeder: Inviting Backyard Birds to a Picnic

Today was the most beautiful Fall day.  The air was bright and clean.  It was cool and crisp, a little chilly in fact.  This time of year always amazes me, surprises me.  I forget how wonderful it is.  Last week I took Marlee to the pet store to see the animals.  Just a little fun, free way to spend some time.  She loved seeing the birds and that gave me an idea.  Fall is the perfect time to create bird feeders for the backyard.  I found these birdfeeder crafts for kids and was inspired.  I decided we would do the pinecone bird feeder.  

Earlier in the week we gathered pinecones and I gathered the rest of the supplies.  Marlee was all too eager to go outside and play.

We just used what we had around the house: a pinecone, some string, scissors, peanut butter, a bowl and spoon and bird food.  We used oats and nuts, but I loved this website that explained what foods to use to attract certain kinds of birds.  Or you could use store bought bird seed.  

First I tied the string around the top of the pinecone and made a knot.  

Then I scooped some peanut butter into a bowl (so we could double dip the spoon and not ruin our jar of peanut butter! Or you could just dedicate a jar of peanut butter for crafts and not for eating.)  Just a little helpful hint on the peanut butter:  The kind we buy is “natural” and therefore doesn’t contain thickening agents.  I found this makes for a pretty messy peanut butter application, but still works.  Next time, I think I will buy regular peanut butter just for this purpose.  

Then I showed Marlee how to spread the peanut butter on the pinecone. 

Next I showed her how to sprinkle the oats and nuts onto the pinecone.

She loved playing with the peanut butter on the spoon and made a big mess! We got peanut butter everywhere!  With toddlers it is not the end product that matters but the experience, and for this project it is definitely true.  There were many different textures and shapes for her to feel, and mediums with which to play.  In the end, I made sure the pinecone was bird worthy and I hung it proudly in our backyard.  

Afterwards we stayed outside for a little picnic and waited to see if any birds might join us.  Unfortunately they didn’t (although we did hear a nearby woodpecker) but Marlee didn’t seem to mind.

The Many, Amazing Careers of a Stay-at-Home Mom

A couple of my friends who work and raise their children have told me, “I could never do what you do!”  What they mean is to stay at home all day and take care of my child, with which I emphatically reply, “And I could never do what you do!”  That is, work and be a wife and be a mama.  Of course, I’m sure I could if I had to, for the good of my family, for a season, but I definitely wouldn’t want to.  I’ve had other friends tell me that they wish they could stay home and be with their babies.  For some reasons like financial pressure, desire, or feeling like they just have to for the sake of their lifestyle, they don’t.  Still other not-yet-moms have told me they can’t wait to have babies so they can stay home and get out of the working world.

I whole heatedly believe that God has put a special desire in each woman to stay at home, watch over her household, raise her babies, and be a supportive wife to her husband.  Too often that desire in each woman is ignored, suppressed or downright rejected and too many woman stop hearing it- they stop believing that it was meant for them.

Being a stay at home mom is a privilege, but by that I don’t mean that it is only meant for a privileged few.  I mean it is an honor.  I believe it is meant for every woman whom God has given a husband.  God has given me a tremendous task, a generational-altering work to do- to raise godly children, to nourish them, to help my husband, and to create a nice home for them.  And none of these should be taken lightly!  Even without children, being a wife and home keeper are amazing God-given tasks.  Wives and mothers are also warriors.  They stand guard over their children and home when their husband is away.  They fight for their children through the devil’s schemes.  They love them in a way that no other human being can, and it’s this love that children crave beyond description- love from their mommy and daddy.  Not a day care worker, not a teacher, not a sitter- just mommy and daddy.

As a young child there were many things I thought I wanted to be when I “grew up.”  The first thing I can remember wanting to be was a vet.  I loved animals and could think of nothing better than to help them and love them.  I wanted to be a vet for a long time.  Later, when I was teenager, I was tall and thin and people thought I should model.  So for a short time I wanted to be a model, but more than that I loved fashion design.  I wanted to be a fashion designer and was thrilled was my parents gave me my first sewing machine.  Later on, after I realized what a stressful and often degrading industry that can be, I set my sights on helping people.  Perhaps I would be a nurse, a motivational speaker, a writer, a nutritionist or dietitian (food and health are subjects that never cease to fascinate me).  In the back of my head though what I really wanted to do was just to be home.  I wanted to get married young so I could have more time to have and raise babies.  My wish came true when I married at age 19, but it was a while before I was able to really focus on staying home, and before we were blessed with a baby.

Now that I am a stay at home mom I am, without a doubt, all these things and more!

I get to design clothes and sew them.  

I get to be a nurse when my baby is sick, finding the little things that will make her feel better, all the while studying and reading books on health and wellness.  

I get to be a motivational speaker everyday when I choose to speak kind, loving and life giving words to my child and husband, words that impart life.  

I get to write here and in my journals, which is a joy and pleasure.  

And (my favorite thing) is that I get to study nutrition and find the best ways to nourish my family.  This will never cease to be an important task, because families need nourishing everyday.  

I get to be a menu planner and gourmet chef delighting my family with new tastes.  

I get to be a gardener and an animal lover.  

I get to be an environmentalist and activist, recycling our waste, teaching my child and others about the importance of taking care of our planet and ourselves.  

I get to have fun playing and creating.  

I get to be a teacher, teaching the most important person I can think of- my own child.  

I get to be a wife and mama.

“…that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers…”

Titus 2:4-5

Birthday Party at the Park

This weekend we all went to celebrate our friend’s little one turning two.  What a great day for a picnic at the park!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time…

It’s finally that time of year!  You know, the time when putting on a jacket is actually exciting (well for Texans anyway) and when all those dusty boxes come down out of the attic and the smell of pine scented candles is just about everywhere…

And I have a new little helper this year…loving all the sparkly balls, wreaths and garland to play with.

She met (and loved) Santa Claus.

There are so many new friends to play with!

…This is what makes me feel like a little kid.  Twinkle lights all aglow, filling the dark streets with magical light.  They warm me inside and out, despite the stormy winds blowing outside and the very cold air settling in.

The fun of twinkle lights beginning to capture her heart too…

 

As the magic of this new holiday season approaches, what makes you feel like a kid again?

eating to nourish a growing family

Food…  With it we live and thrive and give energy and warmth to our bodies.  Its presence joins us together for nourishment and sweet fellowship.  Around the table we share our lives and hearts and it’s in these everyday moments our lives are lived out.  What kinds of foods we consume and how they affect our bodies has held my interest for a long time.  I believe it is so important the things we take into our bodies.  What we eat will bring out the life in us, or slowly steal it away.

As wives and mothers we have so much influence over our husbands and children in the health of their bodies.  As meal planners and cooks we can breathe life into our family’s bodies by what we prepare for them to eat, especially if it is purchased or grown and made with a grateful loving heart.  On the other hand, we have the opportunity to sap life and energy from our family if we prepare our meals with strife or without understanding the nutrient needs of the people we cook for.

mixing ingredients for homemade bread

My husband and I could not be more different.  We are always telling each other that.  He is a pizza and soda, meat and potatoes, cheese and bread kind of guy.  And I am the whole grain, no sugar added, water please, there needs to be vegetables on my pizza kind of girl.  We have learned so much from each other, at least I know I have.  As his wife, I have had to humbly learn to put my husband’s tastes over my selfish need to have everything as healthy as possible.  When I examined myself, I found that I was afraid of somehow getting cancer, a devastating disease I watched my father get.  I have learned to relax more and understand that a loving dish made with a grateful heart shared with my husband is much more beneficial than a meal that is nutritionally perfect but devoid of a thankful spirit.  What I’ve learned is to make simple, comforting, but creatively healthful dishes that my husband and I will both enjoy.

Mmm homemade white bread

As a nursing mom and knowing we will continue to grow our family, I want to be in the best health I can be.  Nourishing little ones is no easy task!  My goal now is to eat lots of fruits and vegetables everyday, and to try and incorporate more of those nutritious foods into the meals I cook for my husband as well.  My husband even agreed to giving up sodas (except for one a week).  God has given me a wonderful, challenging job!  To meet my family’s needs, their nutritional needs and to make satisfying meals that will bring us together at least once a day to enjoy food and each other.  This is by no means an effortless job, but as you thoughtfully do this ask God to help you prepare quality inexpensive meals and He will help you!

delicious carrot, apple and oat muffins

Here are just a few eating and grocery shopping rules I live by here at the gentle home:

No sodas (or limit the amount).  We also do not drink any coffee, tea or juice cocktails (they are mostly artificial flavoring and corn syrup).  We drink mostly water, but I also drink 100% juices, almond milk or sometimes cow’s milk.

No trans fat.  That means reading the ingredient list and looking for hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil.  Do not assume it does not have any trans fat just because the food label says 0g trans fat.  They are misleading.  Watch for them especially in peanut butter, margarine and baked goods.

Make homemade as much as I can.  Homemade obviously won’t include preservatives, dyes and food additives.

Cook a large meal and have leftovers and a meatless dish night at least once a week.  It saves money!

Try to incorporate fruits and vegetables into breakfast and lunch too.  I’ll make spinach quiche for breakfast to eat all week or muffins with carrots and apples hidden in the batter (see photo above- recipe from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld). 

spinach quiche with bacon and cheese

Check out some of my favorite recipes under “the recipe box” tab!

oat and berry bars- more like dessert! Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook

What are some of your tried and true meals and tips for feeding your family?

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