Monday, June 29, 2015

Haley's 10th Birthday Surprise

I am terrible at keeping surprises secret. I mean, if I have a gift to give you that I think you will really like, then it is so hard to keep it to myself, my poor hubby probably hasn't received a gift from me that I didn't give away before.

Friends, I successfully kept the biggest secret from my daughter, Haley, for months and months! Matt and I were planning a trip for her birthday and I didn't spill the beans until the day she turned 10! Way to go me! I wanted to share how we finally did the big reveal...

So, I decided to make up a little scavenger hunt for her to do the morning she turned 10. I wrote a note in cards that were a "this is your life" theme, beginning with how Matt and I met, to my pregnancy with her, to her first birthday and one for each year after. The cards were hidden with something meaningful from that time in her life and each card contained a clue to the surprise.

I slipped away to Target one day, where I wrote out the cards. I have to say, it was emotional writing them. My how ten years can just slip by so fast! 



Haley's lovie since she was one, Piggy, held one of the clues. These two have been through a lot together!





So, the last clue didn't reveal where she would be going. Daddy would be bringing home the last clue at lunch. She had to wait a couple of long hours to find out ... longest two hours of her life, ha ha!


Matt had his stereo blaring "Welcome to New York" by Taylor Swift and Harrison and Matt were holding the banner. She was shocked and excited! 





We actually just got back from our amazing adventure to NYC last night and I can't wait to share our journey with you. It was a most blessed time of family bonding and fun! 

Many Blessings,
Jennifer  


Friday, June 12, 2015

Haley's 10 Year Old Dinner, Spa and Crafting Party


Our sweet Haley Ruth turned 10 in May and turning 10 is a big deal, so we did a lot of celebrating! I wanted to share the sweet little party that we hosted for a few of her school friends. We wanted an intimate affair with just a few friends, so we decided on a dinner and spa party with a few crafts thrown in for good measure.

The girls were seated and served their meal of an appetizer, caesar salad, fettuccine and gourmet cupcakes. Haley's younger brother Harrison helped do the serving and I shared some meal etiquette with the girls. I actually think this ended up being the favorite time for all of the girls as they sipped their sparking raspberry lemonade and giggled. It was preciousness! 


Haley, being my crafty girl who is already proficient at using Pinterest, found several crafts for the girls to do. So, we set up a rotation of three crafts and a pedicure after dinner. I set up the flower pot painting outside and I had the other crafts set up on trays ready to go after clearing the dinner table. 


Harrison even got in on the crafting action. I thought it was nice of Haley to let Harrison be included in this girly affair!


For spa treatments, my sister and I gave the girl pedicures with foot soaks in lavender Epson salt. The girls picked their colors and were adorable enjoying their luxurious spa treatments! 



We finished up with face masks and then the girls were off to play. Right now, all of the girls are into "Forever After High" dolls, so they piled on Haley's bed and played with dolls. I love that at ten they still play with dolls. I often ponder that even with how much things have changed, still childhood can remain the same.


We simply tied a ribbon around nail polish and a nail file for the girls' party favor.


I absolutely loved throwing this little party for our sweet girl, but we had another birthday surprise for her that I can't wait to share with you, so check back soon and I'll fill you in!

Thanks for stopping by!
Jennifer

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Where to Start? We've Moved...

So, my last blog post was July of 2014. It is now April of 2015. Where to start. In fact it is just so overwhelming to know where to start that I've just let this blog sit. But, then it occurred to me that I miss this, I miss sharing with you. So, here I am and I still have no idea where to start.

Well, perhaps I'll start with the changes. I am now a working mom, part-time albeit but still working and, friends, that is a huge change. We are no longer living in the cute little house pictured above. We have a brand new home that we built and moved into a little over a month ago. As you can see, there are some big changes that have occurred since July of 2014.


Since this blog is called Simple Home Managing, I should start with our journey to a new home. It had been a dream of ours for quite some time to move to the "bigger" city just south of us, where our kids are in school, where we shop and the location of an adorable downtown and just so many conveniences and even more importantly friends that we wanted to be closer to (yes, that was a very long sentence). In fact, this medium size city was listed as the best place to live in a magazine poll last year and 2nd the year before that. This city would give my husband a super easy commute and we felt would overall improve our lives.


Don't get me wrong, oh how I loved the little house pictured above. Making that little house our haven was a labor of love for me. Yet, I longed to be in another place. I had scoped out Realtor.com for years, and tried to force the move when it wasn't God's timing and He prevented it each time. It is so interesting for me to look back on this because it is so clear to me that He ordered our steps and although it was painful at times to not have have things "my way" I can see now that it was for our good. Even though, it can be so hard to see that at the time.


Things fell into place and just how God has worked in the past with me, things moved fast. God led us to a new development in the perfect location, a ten minute commute for my husband and ten from the school, just five minutes from our closest family friends. We found a floor plan that in so many ways had everything that I loved about our little home, the natural light, the open floor plan, and yet it has more room to entertain, a space for a guest to sleep and dedicated space for our homeschool days, even a bonus space upstairs for a playroom. It.was.perfect.


Now, to sell our house. We spent the next few weeks preparing our little house, which meant painting the outside trim in the hottest month of the year and in Texas that is hot! This would also be right when I began my new job working at the kids school, eliminating my "kid free" time. But, all that said, our little house proved to be a dream home for a nice couple moving to be closer to grandbabies and the house sold in a weekend. 


We had four months from the time until we moved out until the new house would be completed. We put everything into storage except for the bare essentials and my parents graciously let us take over their house. I think I may have done one load of laundry and maybe cooked a meal or two in that whole time, because I have the sweetest servant-hearted mom. My dad also spoiled the kids with chocolate chip pancakes just about every morning. I'm pretty sure that I need to send them on a cruise!


Of course, I couldn't wait to get into our new home and nest! This home has proved to be everything I imagined, a perfect space for our family. Still not too big to maintain, but a great space for us and for friends! We hosted our first family holiday this Sunday for Easter, and it was so nice to have the island to seat the kiddos and more space for family at our table. I've found that people always congregate in the kitchen so the big island and open space are so nice. 


I guess my style for this house is cozy minimalist. It's kid friendly, not pretentious, airy (yes, we like the walls white), with a touch of artsy flair and color. Just like my old home, it will evolve over time. After all, a home is not built in a day. I've included a few iphone pics in the post, so not the best quality, but you get the idea!


The front, I've planted some of my favorite perennials that don't mind the Texas heat, but we do have a lot of hungry bunnies in our neighborhood that are eating up the plants:



The den with the little man watching PBS this morning:



My dream kitchen:




Of course, my little artsy one, Haley, couldn't wait to decorate her Paris inspired room:





Our guest room/office:




The upstairs playroom:



I'll add more pics as I have time, now off to get our schoolwork done! Thanks for stopping by!


Blessings,

Jennifer


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