Saturday, July 12, 2014

Five Minute Sugar Scrub


My crafty girl, Haley, and I did a fun little project today that I wanted to share with you. We made a sugar hand and foot scrub. It was so easy and fun. She has a much longer attention span for crafty projects than I do, so this five minute project was perfect for me!

Sugar Hand and Foot Scrub

Mix together:
1 part coconut oil
3 parts raw sugar
several drops of essential oil of your choice (we used orange, it smells divine!)

We used a recycled jam jar. To spruce it up a bit we used some leftover spray paint from Haley's room makeover on the lid. We also added a chalkboard label that we cut out of chalkboard contact paper. Have you discovered chalkboard contact paper yet? It is super fun!

So, if you know us personally, please disregard this post because you will most likely receive this as a gift from us in the next six months!

Blessings,
Jennifer 


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Our Last Week Together...

PaPa had once told Jane Jane that he wanted his last days to be spent with Haley and Harrison. How could we have known that this beautiful week in May would be our last week with him? PaPa and Jane Jane, what my kids affectionately call their grandparents or my in-laws, came to spend the first week of summer break and celebrate Haley's ninth birthday with us. They rolled into town from Ohio, a car full of fun gifts for the kids and Jane Jane's famous canned pickles and apple sauce, just as the kids were finishing their last day of school. They loved watching Harrison play and interact with his school friends on the beautiful tree-covered playground of our wonderful school. PaPa had been especially pleased with our decision to put the children in this private Christian school this year. He told Matt something that I would never forget when we were weighing the cost of the school, he said something along the lines of "it's okay to sacrifice for your kids". This was his chance to see the school in person and the wonderful historic building and setting didn't disappoint. 



We loaded up the car with backpacks for the last time this school year and headed to our favorite thai restaurant to begin our time together. This began a lovely week of beautiful weather filled with eating at great restaurants, lots of porch sitting, celebrating a not-so-little girl's birthday, playing at parks, a trip to Ft. Worth to visit friends and enjoy their garden, watching Harrison play tee-ball and Matt coach, taking a tour of Dallas, shopping, and visiting a local nursery. We really couldn't have asked for better weather or a more relaxing time.


PaPa let Haley paint his head with face paints!
The last night of their visit we watched Harrison play tee ball and both sets of grandparents were in attendance, I snapped a quick picture saying it's not often that we have all of the grandparents together. We went to the Dairy Queen enjoyed some ice cream and a few good laughs.


We spent the rest of the evening relaxing at our house, I noticed how Haley snuggled right up to PaPa on the couch and thought to myself how comfortable and loved she must feel with him. That is one thing no one could question, he had a great love for his grandchildren and Matt being an only child meant that Haley and Harrison had his complete love and attention.

The next morning Jane Jane, PaPa, Matt and the kids went to the new coffee shop in town and enjoyed some sweets and then said their tearful goodbyes while I attended a "Trim Healthy Mama" meeting. I would miss Matt and my Mom's calls just two hours later as I sat with my phone on silence and blissfully unaware of the trouble that lay ahead. It would be a heart attack just two hours down the road that would take him away so quickly, a shock so hard to comprehend. Haley when told that PaPa had a heart attack and needed to get in the car quickly had the foresight to grab her Bible. Through her tears she found a page that led her to verses when you feel sad. Psalm 34:18 provided all of us with comfort through the next difficult days.



This was only a little over two weeks ago so this is all still very raw, perhaps too raw for a blogpost. But, I want to remember, my kids to remember the gift of our last week together. We know that PaPa is with our Lord. Harrison figures he might be having interesting conversations with Abraham Lincoln. The kids, my mom and I made a random exit the day after Harrison made this comment at dinner on our drive to Ohio and found ourselves at Abraham Lincoln's birthplace. It was a beautiful setting that our road weary, sad bodies needed. 



Of course, it was a sad week in Ohio, but it was not without its sweet times. Like spending time with cousins who live in Maine and we hadn't seen in three years.


My sweet husband has handled everything with such courage, strength, and grace, I am beyond blessed to be his wife.


I'm also so proud of the courage and grace Jane Jane has shown in having to say goodbye to the love of her life. And, I certainly couldn't have made it through the last two weeks without my Mom's support in making the trip to Ohio with the kids and me. 

We're thankful that the end of this life really only begins your real life, but it's still tough even with that hope. We are so thankful for the many people who have prayed for us and reached out to us over the last two weeks. God has blessed us with some truly great friends and your prayers have been felt.

PaPa you will be missed...




Monday, May 19, 2014

Summer Reading Incentives


As an effort to be more intentional and keep the children growing academically this summer, I've decided to have incentives for reading. I found this awesome idea on Pinterest and created a "bookworm" for Haley. She will fill in a segment with the title of each book she reads. As an almost nine-year-old her books are chapter books that will take her around a week to read. When she reaches a green segment, she will remove the cover to reveal her prize. I tried to be fairly thoughtful in the prizes, but I don't want to give too much away and spoil surprises for her! A couple of the prizes are actual "things" but I tried to focus on experiences like one on one time with mommy or daddy doing something fun. I hope I've found a few things that will be a real reward! 


Since Harrison is a beginning reader, I needed something a little different for him. He will read one book per sitting, so I needed more squares. I decided on a "Candy Land" theme for him since he is so motivated by food! He will move the game piece as he finishes a book. I'm thinking I will get some dried fruit sticks for Harrison to have after he reads since he is such a "foodie" and more reluctant to sit and read aloud. Maybe I'll make some popsicles and ice cream as well for an after reading treat. I did make some prizes for him which are located under the red smiley faces. I tried to keep to the same premise as Haley's prizes of a couple of "things" but mainly experiences while making them unique from her prizes.

I also plan to do plenty of read alouds with both kids. After all, I enjoy that time so much as well! Here is a post I wrote on reading great literature with my kids. Haley and I just finished this incredible book about the life of Gladys Aylward. I cannot recommend this book enough, her story is absolutely incredible! 



Blessings,
Jennifer


Thursday, May 15, 2014

God's Faithfulness this School Year

Harrison's kindergarten graduation Wednesday night, the cutest thing ever!

As I am about to start our final "satellite classroom" aka homeschool day of the school year, (tomorrow being the last day of school) I wanted to take a moment to reflect on God's faithfulness. Last year, we made a huge decision to step out on faith and enroll the children in a university model private Christian school (you can read more about that here). It was a huge leap of faith. We really only knew a couple of families at the school and we knew things would be tighter for us financially. But, we felt that God was leading us to this school and we prayed and God answered our prayers:

-I prayed that we would be able to afford the school and my husband was promoted the very first week of school.

-I prayed for the teachers that the children would receive and my prayers were answered with gifted, loving and motivated teachers who are living out their calling being teachers.

-I prayed that the kids would grow in the love and knowledge of our lord and savior Jesus Christ and both children have a stronger faith through the teaching and discipleship offered at the school, church and home.

-I prayed for like-minded friends for myself and oh did God come through on this one, I have become great friends many "kindred spirits" at this school and my life has been enriched by these rich, sweet relationships.

-I prayed that the children would make wonderful, encouraging friendships and I can't tell you how many sweet friends that they are now blessed with. I see the children in their classes really loving each other with Christ-like love.

-I prayed that they would excel in school and grow in wisdom, and both children have gone above and beyond my expectations for this first year at a new school and they've grown in so many ways. Harrison began the year not being able to recognize all of the alphabet to now reading!

-I prayed that God would put mentors into my life and He has answered with friendships with Godly women of older children who offer great advice and encouragement.

-I prayed that I would grow in my relationship with Christ, and God led me to a prayer meeting each Wednesday with two or more wonderful Christ-seeking women that showed me such beauty in their prayers each week. It was the most encouraging, uplifting and peaceful time that was so often needed throughout the school year.

I just wanted to take this morning to praise God and build a bit of a cyberspace altar, if you will, to thank Him and show His faithfulness in guiding us to this school and going above and beyond even my prayers in providing for us in every way. I'm thankful for the many confirmations that He's given us that show we are right where we are supposed to be. He is good and His plans are always the best!

Blessings,
Jennifer

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Surprise Girl's Room Makeover on a Budget


I have been scheming behind my daughter's back planning a surprise room makeover that was indeed a big surprise, and now I get to share the results with you! I decided it would be fun to surprise Haley with a new room for her birthday. Since she decided to not have a party this year, I could allocate those funds to make a special new room for our special girl.

Here is a before pic:



She has recently branched out from pink and purple to expanding and adding turquoise and lime green to her desired color palette. So, those would be the main colors of the room. I found a great quilt set at Homegoods for $39.00 that had the perfect blend of colors to begin this makeover. The fun pink pillow was a little bit of a splurge at $20.00 from Target. I also found a great sheet set at Target with coordinating colors. I then matched the paint color to the bedding, it is Lowes Valspar Rushing Stream. 

Originally, I was going to paint the daybed lime green, but then I decided to just freshen up the room with a new Malm bed from Ikea. I just wanted the room to have a crisp, clean feel and this bed was perfect.



Since, one of the issues that I had with her room was the amount of nail holes in the wall with her ever rotating art collection, I needed a solution. My goal was to make this room easy to change out the artwork to make it really her own space. These art ledges work great from Ikea and at $12.00 a piece an inexpensive solution.



I also added this rotating art station on the wall adjacent to her closet. She already had the white magnetic board, also from Ikea. I simply bought a couple of cheap clipboards from Target and painted them with spray paint.



I was so excited to find some great free printables online (you can find links to them here on my Pinterest page). I simply printed them out in 8 x 10s and framed them with $10.00 white frames from Ikea. I instituted the help of my friend, Jackie, to make the curtain, I found the fabric at Joanne's.



I also used A LOT of spray paint in this makeover! The color I chose was Valspar Color Radiance Sonic Lime. I spray painted anything that I could find that would work for storage in her room. That meant pulling a couple of old things I had stashed in the garage. I painted the little side table that I picked up at a yard sale for about $5.00 a couple of years ago. The modern lamp is also from Ikea costing about $10.00. The mirror above the bed, also a vintage sale find from a couple of years ago costing about $5.00 was given a new look with the spray paint.




I cleaned up and organized her built in, but probably my favorite addition to this was the chalkboard contact paper that was added to the bottom cabinets. Another aspect to my theme of a changing art collection, that was a big hit and super easy to install. I found it on Amazon, you can see it here. I used some extra to make a label for the once red bin hanging out in my garage!






So, I managed to plan this makeover and keep it a surprise for well over a month. Haley was whisked away after school on Friday to my parents' house while Matt and I made over her room. She came home on Saturday afternoon to her new room. She was shocked and absolutely loved it! I'm so glad that we got her reaction on video! I really do believe it will be a day she will never forget!



Here is her sweet thank you note!



I hope you enjoyed this makeover tour! I sure enjoyed making a little girl's dream come true! 

Many Blessings,
Jenn

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Editing

Spring has arrived in Texas (the best time of year in my humble opinion) and with that the urge to change things up around my house and mostly edit. We've been attempting to get our house down to the things that we really like and make it even easier to clean and enjoy. With that, we've eliminated a big chunk of furniture from our den and we absolutely love the results.

We're finding that the less-cluttered den, even with a big comfy "chair and a half" eliminated, to be much more inviting. We are even spending more time together as a family playing games and just enjoying each other's company in this simplified space. For those of you who are new here, our house is only 1275 square feet, yes, all of it. Yet, we've found it to be a wonderful home for our family of four. I do believe the key to this is editing our stuff from time to time and keeping the clutter to a minimum.

Here are the big results, sorry I have gotten so bad about getting my good camera out so these are cell phone pics. The new edited den: 


  
Here is a before pic with the big red chair set up for a birthday party. Doesn't the den look so much larger with that piece of furniture eliminated:


Our two thrifted chairs and Haley's school desk, also a garage sale find, refinished by my dad:



Our simple mantle, for so many years I wanted to paint this niche and even the room, but I'm so thankful that my artsy husband insisted that the room stay white. Now, I can put any splash color as an accent or in art and it seems to work, plus white walls are once again in:



Our clutter-free entry way, what do we do with all of our (bags, coats, shoes) stuff without a cluttered entry way you might ask, perhaps I'll write another blog post answering that question:



Keeping the coffee table clear of clutter has led to many games of Uno and Lego projects:


My little man had a bad mouth injury over spring break on his bike requiring 16 stitches inside of his mouth, so we've played lots of Uno while he's been on the mend:



I can also see that our family dog feels more relaxed in the space, ha:



Speaking of spring in Texas, check out this amazing sunset last night:



and the buds on our trees:



I hope this helps you to see the beauty in editing and making whatever space you have work for your unique family! I sure hope spring has arrived where you live!

Oh, I should mention, that my free eBook, The Intentional Home, is a 7 week guide to getting that clean clutter-free place you desire! 

Blessings,
Jennifer

Sunday, March 9, 2014

On Praying In Public (for the self-conscious)


As a person who didn't start a personal relationship with Jesus until I was 23 (my testimony), I know that one big hurdle to get over is feeling comfortable when praying aloud in groups. Really, this took me A LONG time to get comfortable doing. A couple of years ago (the same time I read the Bible in 90 days), I challenged myself to start volunteering to pray aloud when out with girlfriends for meals or even when asked in a women's study if anyone wanted to close in prayer. Yes, I felt super self-conscious at first but the more and more I prayed aloud, the more comfortable that I felt. Just like anything else, praying takes practice! 

The most important lesson that I learned was the need to remember that I was really praying for an audience of one and the one who would not judge me but extend His grace and love as I tried to communicate in my less than eloquent ways to Him, my Father in heaven. Now, I love praying aloud and my favorite time of the week is when I gather at my children's school on Wednesday mornings for a prayer time with fellow moms. Oh, what I would have missed out on if I had let my self-consciousness keep me from this treasured time. Trust me when I tell you that I still stumble over my words from time to time and it really doesn't matter one bit because my heart is in the right place and that is all that anyone you pray with would really care about anyways.

Since, my children are growing up in the faith, my husband and I have the chance to encourage their walk and prayer life starting at an early age. We've found a great way to encourage them to pray aloud at the dinner table. After we do our family devotional using Our 24 Family Ways, we participate in a "popcorn prayer". Basically, one of us starts the prayer and each person takes a turn praying aloud. We have prayed over several different topics like just praising God for who He is, praying for another family or person (Haley prayed for two children she has learned about who are orphans in South America) and giving God our gratitude. These have turned out to be such sweet times for our family and it really takes the pressure off anyone who is not completely comfortable praying out loud.

I hope this encourages anyone struggling in this area to know that you are not alone! Just like I tell my beginner golf students not to feel bad because every great golfer was once a beginner, perhaps the same is true even in our prayer life and walk with God!


I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time-waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.
C.S. Lewis

God bless you on the journey!
Jennifer