dpp 2012 :: december 22nd :: teepee


Ever since I saw a DIY tutorial for this teepee, I have been wanting to create something similar. But making something like it meant wood, saws, drilling, sewing and assembling. Each and every one of those things doesn’t feel….friendly. After a flippant email to Matt and his Dad, the project became a reality as Matt’s dad went and got the supplies and set to work. I was doomed. This teepee was WAY above my meager skill level. It is not in a completed state (fabric held up by industrial clamps) and every time I’m inside I ended up wheezing and getting a massively runny nose…..painter’s canvas allergy, anyone? But, it’s done “enough”.

Just want to say, AS WE ALL KNOW, blogs and DIYs, Pinterest and Facebook can all often be filled with visions of grandeur and illusions. This picture could paint one scene in your mind, a vision of calm, serenity and peaceful quiet. May I instead assure you, though, that our household was anything like that tonight. Christmas carolers arrived singing, “Silent Night” while eldest was in the midst of a major tantrum. I started laughing as they raised their voices, “All Is Calm, All is Bright”. The state of his emotions were pretty opposite from calm or bright.

Maybe our temporary teepee can be a little refuge of calm…more than likely, though, it will fall down at some point, be a holding tank for sibling rivalry and a barrier to “traffic flow” in the house. I am hoping that in the midst of these moments, we can find shelter. A place to practice the breathing in and out, praying, “God, let me love. God, give me peace. God, fill me with joy.” Daily, moment-by-moment chances to ask God to work within our hearts. I am so grateful that despite our innate tendency towards frustration, loneliness & self-preservation, that our loving God grants us love, peace, joy and thankfully, grace.

December Photo Project 2012

dpp 2012 :: december 16th :: reindeer food {the event that almost wasn’t}


Oh, my goodness.

So much mess.

But so much fun.

Somehow I put “Make Gingerbread Houses” in the Advent Activity Calendar two times.

And that is one draining activity I only have energy for once a year!

After polling folks on Facebook & looking up some blog links I’ve saved, we settled on making Reindeer Food.


Most of the project was inspired by the phenomenal Kelle Hampton.  Here is the blog post of her “Party at the North Pole“.  It is AMAZING….check out her fun event and if you host one for Moms, I’m there!  I found the poem to go with it here via Pinterest.

I switched things up a bit as we have no glitter and I wanted to keep glitter out of the mayhem.  We used green and red cookie sprinkles instead.  The boys had a BLAST, it was quick, easy & cheap {only using items on hand}.  They both seemed pretty proud of their finished products.


Thinking this project may become a new tradition….although I was tempted to replace the Advent activity with “An Hour of SILENT Reflection on the Christ Child” during which Mom sleeps.

December Photo Project 2012

You Hold Your Truth So Purely

Everyday life has seemed charged.  Maybe it’s the excitement of the Giants and their World Series dreams.  Perhaps the coming of Halloween in a week, cookies to bake & decorate.  Potentially it’s the first rain of the season & connections to Ramona Quimbey’s frustrations with rainboots.  The newness of the school year has worn off.  The routines are in place, and thus excuses to not abide by the routines are happening—making lunches each night CAN be seen as spiritual practice, but that’s HARD, people!!.

I see my life through the camera lens.  I just can’t help myself.  I feel naked and unprepared if I leave the house without some device to document life.  Having just finished Drew’s One-Two Year scrapbook, it became apparent how much this “addiction” is the case.  Too many pictures to sift through.  It may sound weird or unorthodox, but I think God uses my camera and its effect to help me see God’s gifts and handiwork more clearly.  And most of the time, I just can’t help but share it.  Some, (many, no doubt?!?) call it OVERSHARING.  Be it as it may, here I find myself.

The past few weeks have seen our schedule normalizing a bit without tons of travel or big events and day-to-day life is unfolding.  Garbage trucks loudly doing their thing.  Chances to makes trains come to life with chairs.  The impossible excitement of UPS AND Fed Ex trucks crossing paths, AT THE SAME MOMENT, in front of our house. Learning how to operate light switches, “ON!” and “OFF!”.   Still pictures don’t convey the non-stop movement, volume & loud emotions that overflowed during Halloween cookie making (Drew’s first induction to this world).  After the whole “brew ha ha”, Alex looked at me and reflected, “Mom, I think we learned something today.  Doing cookies with a two year old is a bad idea.”  I’m thinking there’s some wisdom in that 5 year old observation.  As Mumford & Sons professes on the song “Whispers in the Dark”, “You hold your truth so purely….”.  I can’t help but see that truth in my kids.  Maybe you can see it too in children around you or others that just manage to cling to simplicity.  So, here’s a little visual of the truth of life around here—pure and complicated as it may be.  Here’s to hoping we can conquer the pumpkin patch with a little less drama than the cookies!  (these two posts made me worry….here & here)

Darth Vader & Mary Oliver

Due to some mega coupon fun via diapers.com and yoyo.com, I scored this Darth Vader costume for $5.41.  $4.98 of that was shipping.  Since Alex has been BEGGGGGING me for DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYS to make a Darth Vader cape,  I figured this was a bargain I couldn’t pass up, knowing I never would have gotten fabric for that much, let alone been able to sew something with Drew “helping”.

I feel like this is our world right now….

Anyhow, the costume is bought…the creative play can begin (or continue).  I keep seeing other products and find myself becoming that geeky mom that can’t resist sales on Star Wars stuff.  These PEZ dispensers were on sale at Cost Plus and I caved.  Almost bought a Darth Vader tooth brush today at Target and Matt just sent me links to Star Wars lunch boxes.  Last night, my friend and I were emailing back and forth about Pottery Barn Kids’ monogrammed Darth Vader backpacks and lunch boxes. WHO HAVE WE BECOME!??!

Sometimes, springing for something frivolous and fun is necessary {proof here}, though.  I mean…LOOK AT THIS FACE.

The chances for brotherly fighting bonding…

Full speed ahead is the name of the game here, no matter the number of children present or props found {sprinklers–evenwithout water–provide multiple ways for fun, CLEARLY}.

Today I stayed home with youngest while Matt took eldest to Santa Cruz with the high schoolers.  Drew, sans nap, while balancing Sally and a NO DOG beach, just sounded like torture.  Instead my friend Kate and I tortured ourselves with my crazy boy at the Farmer’s Market.  And then wailing through Target to procure Alex’s long and detailed list of Kindergarten school supplies.  It is all a little bit much and sometimes I just drag myself back home, put him in the high chair, pour us some water and we both sigh and get re-grounded, re-centered, & reoriented.

I am really seeing the balance be tipped between the two boys.  Alex (seen below with a dear friend from school) is becoming so much easier to manage and bond with and converse with.  Drew, at 21 months, has gone over that precipice and wowsers….it’s crazy.  No more quiet, leisurely days spent together or shopping errands easily run.  No way.

God Bless Mary Oliver and her poems, though.  Lately, each one has become a little gift and chance to ground myself.

“What are we sure of?  Happiness isn’t a town on a map, or an early arrival, or a job well done, but good work ongoing.”

~from Work, Sometimes by Mary Oliver

{fun pictures from Alex’s art show at summer camp…AMAZING teachers and totally fun projects}

“So if the heart has devoted itself to love, there is not a single inch of emptiness. Gladness gleams all the way to the grave.”

~from Honey Locust by Mary Oliver

“Patience comes to the bones before it takes root in the heart as another good idea.”

~from Patience by Mary Oliver

“Most things that are important….lack a certain neatness.”

~from The Bleeding Heart by Mary Oliver

Yes, Mary Oliver….neatness and tidyness and ease are not part of our day-to-day vocabulary these days.  But I’m wondering, as she wrote, doesn’t that make these very things, each day, important?

Shoe Therapy & Donut Dates

Sometimes you just need to step back and do the unexpected…

To drop the routine….

To forget about the budget…

And nutrition….

And the errands begging to be run….

And head for the salty sea air.

I have almost made it through half of the week that Matt’s away.

And it has been surprisingly ok.

Mostly due to amazing friends and family.

And due to donuts.

And clearance shoe finds at Target.

And a quick, unexpected, spontaneous jaunt out to Santa Cruz to have lunch with a friend on a whim.

And….to the fact that my parents are coming TOMORROW!  EEEPPPP.

The floors aren’t vacuumed and Swiffered.

The menus aren’t planned out….YET.

I have another day of work to go before their arrival.

But, I know my little band of brothers and I will make it.

We said ADIOS to Matt on Sunday morning in the wee hours of the morning {note:  Alex was up at 5:15am for the occasion}.

Celebrated a wonderful week of Vacation Bible School during the service on Sunday…

{Joseph’s brothers came up with a sneaky plan to take care of him….}

Lots of Star Wars crafts and coloring…

And begging for more and more “coloring pages”….today’s request?

“Mom, will you just type in ‘Jabba of the Hut’s Helpers Coloring Pages’?!?!?”

As you can imagine, Google had MANY options with that one.

First days of Summer School/Camp unfolded, including my first day as a teacher in the Three Year Old Room.

And amazing friends have come over for play dates (or taken away eldest for playdates!).

{and girl’s night for Bachelorette viewing and meals prepared and given and playdates offered and texts to make me laugh….seriously, overwhelming love}

Today…to pull myself together after a 2 hour fingerprint/live scan debacle with dear, squirrley Drew, I drove home.  Made and consumed 2 cups of coffee.  Watched an episode of Friday Night Lights.  Went to Target.  And bought shoes.  Those cute red ones up above.  $7.49 on clearance {thanks for the tip, Gussy!}.  And picked up a new pair of shoes for Alex too.  Star Wars, light up shoes.  He is in SEVENTH HEAVEN.  (and for the record, both he and Drew had their toes sticking out of their shoes this morning, so it was time!)

And there’s the odd lesson in this all.

Sometimes, you just gotta blow the budget on frivolous shoes.

And extra calories in the form of sprinkle covered donuts.

And mindless tv {hello, Friday Night Lights obsession}.

I don’t have a fancy quote to back this up.

Or a Bible Verse to support my conviction.

Or deep thoughts to prove the point.

I just know, deep down, that it’s true.

Sometimes the weirdest, unexpected, frivolous decisions and just plain necessary.

One Post Script:

Even though Matt’s not here, there’s “traces” of him.  These pics came up today which he and Alex did a few weeks ago.  Love how the hubster can make me laugh, even when he’s in a neighboring country.

A Weekend Unplanned

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!  We had blessed nothingness on our calendar (except for a chiropractor appointment and church commitments).  That meant lots of room for angst in my mind over days with nothing planned.  Matt and I slogged our way through Friday with low grade fevers, **impossible to swallow, insanely painful sore throat** yuckiness, busy work days and collapsed on the couch after getting the boys to bed.  I was so grateful that nothing was planned.  For once, this type a, need to have everything scheduled girl appreciated the lack of planning and open-endedness of three days off with all of our family home!

We did the basics….laundry, farmer’s market veggie shopping, LEGO building, room sorting/purging {the one MUST do was to locate a lost library book of Alex’s–happy to report, Fred and Ted Go Camping was FOUND!!!!}, painting, cooking, back care, swinging on the swingset, lots of alfresco dining, CAMPING!!! & classic movie watching, Sunday School teaching….and amazingly feel rested, healthier and didn’t have to deal with lots of traffic.  Can’t beat that!

Time and space and maybe…{SCARY!}….GROWING UP!?!?…..has helped me let go of my grasp on the perfectly planned, chalk-full schedule.  To see the value of time spent together, letting go of the need to program and craft a perfect get away.  This week I plan on posting some thoughts from Lauren Winner’s new book Still.  There is so much to unpack from this book–my poor husband had to suffer from me continuously reading quotes to him over the last two days as I devoured it.  It truly is THAT good.  Despite working in the classroom, battling a nasty bug that has left me only wanting to sleep, and with two boys needing our attention, I couldn’t put it down.  It even won out over mindless TV!  Miracles of miracles.  This quote from Saul Bellow that she shared hit me as I was thinking about our schedule, or lack thereof, this weekend.

Look how cute he is….gotta love Nobel Prize Winners!

Isn’t he WISE, though?!?!  “They labor because rest terrifies them.”  Did you catch that?  “They labor because rest terrifies them.”  I’m trying to sit with that truth.  That rest terrifies.  That sloth isn’t about lying around doing NOTHING, necessarily, but rather it truly is a “busy condition”.

I don’t have the answers.  I will always struggle with a deep need for control.  But, I’m choosing to keep it “simple” this weekend.  A first step at “resting”–stepping into the “terror” of rest, if you will.  To allow for time in the sun, sprinklers being directed at me by our 19 month old, no-cook meals {this girl attempting vegan, gluten free eating had baguette, brie and dry salami–and pears!!–for dinner}.  More to follow about Lauren Winner and her new book.  For today, though, lots to chew on thanks to Saul Bellow.  Tough truth, but a good one.

Hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend…

off to find flags to photograph for my step-mother-in-law!

“You EXPIRE me!”

We have a “problem”. I’ve mentioned it here before…..but I assume many of you can relate. Whether with your own kids, or yourself. The issue of boxes. Of “keepsakes”. Of “treasures”. Of “creations”.

I am a sorter, purger and hope to be (in another life, perhaps??), a minimalist. And so my eldest’s obsession with art, creating and, dare I say it, “HOARDING” these keepsakes/treasures/creations can, at points, drive me batty.

I hoped for children with creativity, imagination and chutzpah. But some days, when the doodles, sculptures and mayhem start crowding me in on all sides, I go a little crazy. It’s like the little boxes are going to overtake me. Maybe one day, I’ll walk into Alex’s or Drew’s room and I won’t be able to find them.

No matter the day. No matter the time. No matter the to do list. If there’s a box in sight, then we are at risk for child #1 finding it and getting to work. Exhibit A:

One IKEA shelving purchase…..one Woodsie home and 2 race tracks….CHECK!

Despite my desire for cleanliness, for only keeping the necessary, I have a child with a wonderful memory who is always wondering where such and such creation disappeared to. I cringe. Bite my bottom lip and think to myself, “Uh, oh. City of Sunnyvale Recycling is enjoying that masterpiece as we speak.” Within reason, though, I’m trying to let go of my need for perfect order and control, and let my boys be boys. Let them get dirty in the mud and dirt out back. Let the boxes take shape into race tracks, drive in movie theater cars, castles, forts and pirate treasure boxes. And let go.

My friend, Sarah, sent me a link to this amazing video. And frankly, if any of us are still feeling the pull of not having so much disorder and creativity around us, for the mess and disorder it makes, then this video should cure us all.

Happy Saturday and Happy Creating!

(sadly for me, I’m spending time organizing receipts and working on budgeting, while Alex is make pirate patches, pirate hats, a hook arm, a treasure chest and accompanying map….ah, to be 4….)

p.s. My students and I had the gift of the talented Elisa Kleven joining us on Friday. She shared her books, her inspiration, stories of her childhood and how imagination and creating saved her. It was the cherry on top for me. The reminder that these messes and “disorder” might actually be birthing a career and love. For Elisa, it became a future of artistry and writing. I loved watching my kids in awe of her talents and accomplishments….one even commented, “You EXPIRE me!” We came to the conclusion that Elisa INSPIRED him. But, man, it was hilarious!!!!!!!!!!!!! Such a funny word transposition. And the best part was stealing her to my house for a few hours with my boys. Alex had a blast drawing with Elisa and chatting. Drew spent the time screaming, crying and throwing things. Patience, though. No doubt, Drew will come around too….and begin his own efforts to EXPIRE—–I mean INSPIRE—-me!

Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love

The lead up to Easter often gets the shaft for many of us.  There is no pre-planned 2 week holiday and focused time of “Advent-esque” type preparation.  The events of Easter, while no doubt as gory as childbirth in some ways, are not quite as packaged and polished as the Christmas story.  Or at least as PACKAGED and POLISHED as Hallmark likes to make Christmas.  Not too many Christmas cards are sold in the “scratch and sniff” stable variety.

So, as we approach Easter, it is easy to find it upon us before we realize it.  And knowing how to share about the events leading up to Easter Sunday, without scaring our littlest munchkins, is something to think through.

Yesterday, with my MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers), we created Resurrection Egg kits.  The idea behind resurrection eggs is to compile 12 objects that tangibly help children remember the key elements of the Easter story.  You can purchase them here and a great book to use alongside them is Benjamin’s Box.  They really aren’t too hard to make, though, and once I gathered the supplies, we each made our own kits within minutes.  As I researched online, I found MANY different permutations of items to include.  The one I settled on wasn’t even the same  line up as used in the book, Benjamin’s Box.  Nonetheless, it didn’t seem to bother Alex who was obsessed with them for hours yesterday—to the point of having a temper tantrum last night when I wouldn’t do the egg activity for the umpteenth time screaming at me, “BUT MOM, THIS IS ABOUT JESUS DYING.  ABOUT HIM BEING NAILED TO THE CROSS!!!!!!!!!!!”  Oh, Lordy Be.  Pastor’s Kid.  Screaming about wanting to talk more about Jesus dying on the cross.  And I, model Mom, is pushing my own agenda…”LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE!!!”

For my youngest, approaching 18 months, the activity we created yesterday isn’t too useful….except for ingesting and wrecking havoc.

This developmental limitation did not stop my eldest from trying to use them with his brother….and surprisingly, the youngest seemed interested and was actually—wait for it———quiet.  Yes, folks, Drew was….QUIET.  And he “listened”.  Our own modern day miracle.

I have found two books to be especially helpful when telling the stories of Easter with my eldest.  When he was 2 1/2 to 3, we used the Read Aloud Bible Stories by Ella K. Lindvall regularly.  They are very simple in regards to language, concept and illustrations.  Volume 2, of the 4, has the story that ties into Holy Week.  Here’s a snippet of it to give you a feel….

Soon, I assume we will start using these stories more often with Drew, our youngest….most likely when he stops trying to rip up every single book he gets into his sticky little fingers.  For Alex, we have used the Jesus Storybook Bible for the last year (from age 4 on) and love the way Sally Lloyd-Jones shares the story of God’s grace and redemption, from Adam and Eve all the way through Revelation.  It is truly incredible….not to mention the artwork by Jago.  OH MY GOODNESS.  I could seriously frame the entire book.  Here’s a glimpse of the Holy Week through that book.

If you would like to create your own set of Resurrection Eggs, here is a PDF of the page we used for the cover label and here is a PDF of the explanation we used.  There are two versions, one for using only six eggs, with younger kids, and great language that makes the story approachable.  The second version uses all twelve eggs.

Last year we made resurrection rolls.  Here was the result of that last year…the post’s title is “Jesus Fell Out of the Oven!” if that gives you a clue about how it went!  Anyhow, it’s kind of a hokey activity, but I’m a sucker for hands on experiences and the message seemed to stick for my then 3 year old.  We also used the amazing artwork Ann Voskamp shared on her blog for our Easter Tree.  If you are interested in downloading the artwork and devotional for doing your own Easter tree, click here.  The artwork is all gorgeous…some more familiar to our adult eyes than others.  Some of the images are fairly real and a bit gory, but I love the conversations they seem to start with my oldest.  A little less tame than the illustrations from the two books I shared earlier.

This year, I also found this post by the writer behind the blog “Mustard Seeds” to be really great.  TONS of book recommendations which promptly went on my library order list and some other activities you could pick and choose from.  One of my favorites was creating a little “tomb” diarama of sorts with Alex last year.  The post I wrote about it, entitled “Apathy” of all UPLIFTING topics, showed some pictures in case you want to try something similar.  These examples of that same concept are a bit more picturesque!  Here and here.

Whatever methods you choose to share with your kids this year, I hope that deep down, the message that Sally Lloyd-Jones keeps intertwining and weaving into almost EVERY story she includes in the Jesus Storybook Bible is this, that the entire Bible points to Christ.  That every story whispers His name”.  Over and over, throughout each and every story—–whether Adam and Eve or Jacob, Rachel & Leah or Moses or Abraham.  Or us.

She writes,

“God rescued them—no matter what, time after time, over and over again—because of his
Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.”

That is the message that we hope, whether through Resurrection Eggs or Rolls, reading books, dying eggs, making a tomb, whatever conversations might arise, that THAT message….that God’s love for us never stops, never gives up on us, never breaks, and remains forever…..be embedded in their hearts.

Measure in Love

When I was teaching in Albany, we used to do a monthly “Community Sing” and the 4th graders were often responsible for February.  So why not make 9 and 10 year olds sing LOVE songs!?!  We did a fun version of “L-O-V-E” (Nat King Cole’s song) and yet my favorite of all was “525,600 Minutes:  Seasons of Love” from the musical, Rent.  It still makes me belt and get a little sappy and goose bumpy when I hear it.

So today, in honor of the one day we “officially” focus on love, I wanted to post the lyrics to that song and a video of the cast singing it.  A reminder that even though it IS Valentine’s Day, today…each day…the year…should be measured in love.  Measured in the small moments.  Measured in cups of coffee and lessons learned.

Alex was in charge of “red fruit” for his class party on Monday….and he never needs an excuse to use a cookie cutter.  So, we popped it out and attacked the strawberries and watermelon.

We used the trusty camera to get some shots to use for their Valentines for school….

And my favorite thing was using coupon codes at 3 spots to get cards for free or $1 a piece.  Shutterfly, Tiny Prints, and Julie Ann (sold on etsy).  I love getting to create personal cards with pictures.  And for $2 total for ALL THREE cards!??!  LOVE IT.

With two young children and a budget to keep in mind, we will no doubt cash in on the 2 for 1 Peet’s Coffee special for a family outing and then cook some indulgent, rich and mouth-watering vegan/gluten-free/sugar-free dinner after the kids crash.  Maybe add in a movie?  Or Glee/New Girl/Parenthood marathon?  To me, though, as the song from Rent reminds, it really is about the minutes, moments we share.  Not the big, flashy bouquets of red roses (GAG!!!!!!!!!!!) or fancy, uncomfortable, indigestion-inducing meals out.  {Christine Edit post first publish of this post…..I LOVE flowers, folks.  I just tend to be the more bright, crazy colored odd flowers. I know I’m weird.)

Hope your day is filled with lots of love.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love? Measure in love

Seasons of love. Seasons of love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes!
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Journeys to plan.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life
Of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned,
Or in times that he cried.
In bridges he burned,
Or the way that she died.

It’s time now to sing out,
Tho’ the story never ends
Let’s celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends
Remember the love!
Remember the love!
Seasons of love!

Oh you got to got to
Remember the love!
You know that love is a gift from up above
Share love, give love spread love
Measure measure your life in love.

Seasons of Love.  Seasons of Love.