We’ve been flooded with pics and snap chats from the other side of the world for a full week now. I’ve been a bit more tied to my phone for that very reason, as I check for updates and glimpses into the “to Russia with love” adventure.
This morning’s pics were from Red Square. It’s at the top of the tourist “must do list” for Moscow. It’s iconic. I suddenly realized that we now have one of almost our entire family posing with cousins, an Aunt and Uncle or Grandpa in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral.
I knew in my head that we had all been there, but somehow seeing this morning’s picture just brought a flood of gratitude. To watch our kids experience such a grand adventure that we could never have imagined, and to do so with their cousins, Grandpa, Aunt and Uncle.
My memory fails me so much more than I like these days, which is precisely why I have to record these gifts somewhere. Whether that’s in my 1000 gifts journal or here in this space, for my own sake and that of our kids, I have to make note of it.
So today I make note of the blessing of travel. The blessing of family. The blessing of new friends. The blessing of grand adventures. The blessing of ministry wherever we may find ourselves. The blessing of things that are so much bigger than we are.
So how about you? What blessings are you counting today? How do you prefer to make note of them?
It seems summer schedules are just packed full of adventure, aren’t they? Some days it becomes a bit much for a Mama to keep up with.
And suddenly it dawns on her that these adventurous schedules will bring more crissing and crossing than intersecting. Us Mamas simply must have the intersecting for things to be right deep down in our souls. It’s how we’re wired.
Even if the intersecting is only for a snippet of hours. It’s still quite necessary. So much so that we’re willing to travel for it. And we may even be able to convince others to tag along. Though I must say, it usually isn’t a hard sell.
That’s exactly what our next handful of hours will look like. An early morning drive through the mountains with the hubby and the sisters taking turns behind the wheel. With plenty of snacks and anticipation to make the time pass by right quickly, I’m sure.
All for a highly anticipated late afternoon and evening with our camp counselor boy. To see his face, meet his new friends, hug his neck and hear just a few of his stories. It’s sure to be a late night that won’t last nearly long enough, followed by an early morning hike up Rattlesnake Mountain and the promise of “the most spectacular sunrise you’ve ever seen, mom! Honest!”
And back into the car to head home again, with hearts full of moments to treasure until the end of this summer’s adventures. I’m sure there will be a few tales from the two who stayed behind and the ever faithful furball too.
So if you’re looking for me, I’ll be right here. At this intersection we’ve created. This place where we’ve pushed the pause button on the crissing and crossing for a matter of hours to soak up a bit of together.
And next summer? I’m sure it will bring more than it’s fair share of adventure too. They always do, don’t they?
What sort of adventures are you up to this weekend?
Some months are just packed full of one celebration right after another, even one right on top of another. Occasionally it’s one week, seven days worth of big events. And every now and again, there’s that one day. One day when several people close to you are celebrating major events.
Take today for instance. Today is the birthday of one of my bestest friends in the whole wide world. It’s her 29th. Again. Or not. Our continuing friendship requires that I not reveal her year of birth, other than to note that it was not nearly as long ago as mine.
Just two years ago we had what we like to lovingly refer to as her biggest birthday party ever.
We’ve been friends since our kids were little, even before some of them were born. Between our 4 and her 5, play days were always full of energy and adventure … at least for the kids. Us Mamas tried to complete an entire sentence a time or two and mix up cookie dough to nibble on before we were discovered. Sometimes that worked, other times not so much. We’ve been there for the birth of babies, the loss of parents, the celebration of holidays and all sorts of huge milestones with our kids.
Two years ago, she was gracious enough to coordinate one of the biggest celebrations for our family to date. Our girl’s wedding. On her birthday. And what a day that was.
These two had dated for four years. Three of those being extra long because they were living several states away from one another.
It wasn’t easy for them. But it was good.
And it led to this moment …
And it was worth the wait.
Now two years later, they find themselves in a new home in a new city and new state, finding new jobs. Our city and state! For now – our very home!
What a fun surprise to have them move here with us. And for all the terrible stories you here of kids moving back in, it’s been a pretty sweet month together.
Crowded? Yes. Chaotic? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely yes. And also temporary.
Soon they’ll find their own place to live here in town. All the while adding memories and anniversaries to their marriage. And we get to be a part of those daily moments.
I’m guessing that your social media feed has been blowing up these past two months with graduation and wedding photos just like mine. It’s fun to celebrate with friends and their kids as they reach these milestones on their journey, even if it’s only through online pictures and well-wishing.
My favorite pictures have always been those where the subject’s personality shines through.
I have to say when this came across my screen I cracked up and did the whole ROFLOL thing. I could be wrong here, but it seems right to put that in all caps because that’s how hard I was laughing.
Summer Thriving | Photo Session Fun
Our niece Olivia was among the graduates of 2016 and she has a crazy fun sense of adventure. Her mom is our family photographer and her brother is the family videographer. Needless to say, she’s comfortable around a camera.
Here’s her fun take on “Senior Pictures” …
I don’t even know how many times I have scrolled through these pics and keep trying to choose my favorite. They’re all such fun that I finally gave up on the favorite thing!
Now it’s your turn …
When the kids get bored this summer, pull out a camera or phone, dig through the closets and let the cameras roll.
Don’t have fun props or clothes at home? Check out a local thrift store and make a day of it, picnic lunch included.
From “Senior Pictures” to a “Heading to Work” portfolio to a “Hollywood Photo Shoot”, the possibilities are endless. And most likely, the number of times you scroll through the completed pictures will be too!
Because dahling …
And when you post your photos to social media, and in the comments here, add a #summerphotofun hashtag. I’ll be waiting!
There’s no such thing as a good cancer. Everyone knows that. But pancreatic cancer carries with it some rather chilling statistics.
Fortunately statistics are not the boss of us. I remember one of Mama’s doctors telling us he didn’t like statistics because a 20% survival rate only really meant that 20 people actually had a 100% chance of surviving. And he really couldn’t tell us if Mama would be in the group of 20 or the group of 80.
Dad happens to be in the lower end of a statistical handful. He went through a grueling procedure and months of chemo that zapped his strength for a time.
He was part of the less than 30% who survived that first year mark. And the less than 7% who survived the 5 year mark. That 5 year mark? It was a year ago.
And today? Today he heads to Nairobi and Sudan for a mission trip with a group from his church.
And next month? Well next month he takes the last set of the 8 grandkid cousins who have grown up on US soil to Russia and Czech Republic for 17 days. They tromp around the country where their 3 cousins have grown up, teaching English and sharing the love of Christ. It’s a rite of passage for the 16 year old cousins. One he started the summer after we lost mom.
It’s how he’s chosen to spend some of this borrowed time he’s been given.
Mom and Dad always taught us that God is good. This grace of borrowed time is an extra. A cherry on the top, if you will. I can’t begin to understand why sometimes we are graced with these special days and other times we are not. But I do know that either way, God is good.
And every 6 – 12 months of these years, my brother, sister and I get a text. It’s almost like clockwork. It brings that sort of deep exhale you didn’t even realize you needed, because you had unknowingly been holding your breath.
He’s so much more than a survivor. He’s a 75 year old embrace-life-believer on the cusp of yet another adventure with this borrowed time he’s been given.
It’s a bit of a wake up call for me. In light of this 6th anniversary text, it’s a reminder to spend the moments of each day more wisely. With less no and more yes. Less regret and more delight. Less frustration and more embracing.
Because really, when it comes right down to it, were all living on borrowed time aren’t we?
Last month we celebrated Mother’s Day. This Sunday is set aside to honor and celebrate Dads. These are special and good days to pause in our routine and express our gratitude and that’s always a good thing.
They’re also hard days for so many whose stories are not written the way they would have preferred.
Just as with Mother’s Day last month, I’m praying for you. The daughter whose Daddy is off serving our country in a land that is not his own. The Mama whose been doing this parenting thing alone for too many years to count. The son whose missing Dad because he left this world much too young. Know that you are being prayed for this weekend …
Surviving Father’s Day when a piece of your puzzle is missing
The past weeks here have included a few Father’s Day projects. That has been fun.
But in the back of my mind, I’ve been pondering and praying for those who have been dreading Father’s Day. Those who really are not up for brunch, or church or a gathering of any sort. And those who have no idea how to even muster the strength or courage to get out of the house at all. Or the bed, for that matter.
These holidays can be special and it’s always good to recognize the impact of others on our lives. And yet, there’s so much anticipation and even hype it becomes even harder for those of us who feel like a piece of our puzzle is missing.
For me, it’s my Mama. Last month was our sixth Mother’s Day without her. We have always recognized the day in some way, though often not with extravagant gifts, that’s just not who we are. Some years were given more attention than others. But, not being able to see her or send a card on that one day with so much focus on Moms has been tough. The grief has eased in unexpected ways and yet there are still those raw moments that hit out of nowhere.
I don’t know your story, but I’ve brushed shoulders with enough people to know that those of us who feel like pieces of our puzzle are missing tend to outnumber those who don’t. Perhaps, you’ve lost your Dad physically.
Perhaps it’s the first year that you won’t be gathering at the same table for a special dinner because of a big move. Or maybe your relationship with your Dad has never been what you had hoped or needed.
Perhaps it’s a brother you are grieving. One who was taken too early, or is somehow unreachable.
Perhaps it’s a child. One who was gone long before their time. Or one whom for one reason or another, you’ve never even met. Or one that you have not seen or spoken to for years.
Perhaps it’s the yet to be realized hope of marriage and children. And the waiting just feels unbearable.
I do know that grieving is tough.
I do know that the years can somehow soften grief a bit .
I do know that the deepest of friendships can come from walking through loss with kindred souls.
I do know that somehow intentional gratitude can help lighten the weight.
I do know that I have been and will continue praying for those who are feeling a bit lost as Father’s Day approaches.
I do know that God is my dwelling place. That His arms hold me. And that beyond the shadow of a doubt, He will never leave.
I pray that you may find peace and comfort even in the very midst of your missing puzzle pieces.
My father-in-law is a collector, or more accurately a connoisseur, of wise sayings. One of his favorites is “Choices and Consequences”. His boys may not have appreciated it so much growing up, but they have grown to see it’s wisdom and now use it with their own children.
One of his other sayings …
“Now we’re cooking with gas!”
And I must say I’ve never been so excited to use that little gem as I was yesterday.
See, this was the scene out my front window last week
The guys from the gas company came out to run a gas line to our house. It’s the logical thing to do before we add drywall in the basement and it becomes a much bigger ordeal.
As a side note, sometimes adding a gas line means the water line will get clipped and then you’ll have to go out for dinner because everyone knows that cooking dinner without water is nigh impossible.
And this was our new conversation piece in the middle of the family and dining room. As a conversation piece, let’s just say it worked!
Then just yesterday afternoon while the guys were at home and I was running an errand with our oldest we got this text …
With a home full of teens and tewnty somethings, everyone is getting in on the fun. And this Mama is thinking I might have a few more sous chefs in the kitchen in the days ahead!
Still trying to figure out what to do for Father’s Day? Thinking you want to do something a little more advanced than the painted photo magnets from earlier this week?
How about this idea …
You really don’t have to be an expert at this. Like, at all!
Seriously, I picked up some leather alphabet stamps from Hobby Lobby yesterday afternoon and did this entire project in less than 30 minutes after dinner. That includes time to gather my supplies, decide which leather scrap to use and take multiple photos of each step.
It’s one of those quick projects that kids can do with a bit of assistance. AND it’s sturdy, timeless and has a ton of personalizing options.
I choose a textured scrap of leather with a reddish tint to it. Why red, you ask? Because my hubby is a FSU Seminole and I try to work a little garnet or gold into any project I can for him. The texture did make it a little harder for the stamped letters to stand out so you may want to select a smoother finish if the stamping is more important to you than the color.
I went with a 3/4″ strip, the 1/2″ looked too wimpy and 1″ too big.
Before you actually stamp the letters or design, wet your leather and make sure it remains damp during the stamping process.
Once you have the stamp placement figured out, remove all but one and set it with the setting tool.
Mine took about three hits with a hammer for the letters to show up like I wanted. You can leave the first stamp in place to get the correct position for the next one, then remove the first, set the second and so on. If not, your stamps may not be equally spaced, which may not be your favorite thing, but your guy won’t be the least bit concerned so you’ll decide to just go for it anyway and remember to work on the spacing next time…. strictly hypothetical situation here.
There are lots of options for the key ring, from the basic one I used to clips with rings and everything in between. If yours happens to be narrower than your leather strip then just fold the strip in half and snip a triangle off each corner of the fold. Slip your key ring on the strip to the fold and you’re ready to punch a hole for the rivet.
I used my Crop-a-dile scrapbooking tool because it has the correct size punch. Other tools could include – a hole punch with a small hole size, a leather hole punch tool or even an awl, though you’ll need to be extra careful and a bit more patient with the last option.
Apply a little pressure to the rivet until you hear and feel it snap into place. Cover both sides of the rivet with soft fabric and whack it a few times with a mallet or hammer.
You just made a leather keychain!
A few things I learned on this project …
If you make a leather keychain, you’ll want to make more
Smooth leather is probably more cooperative for stamping
Keep the previous stamp in place with positioning the next stamp
Be gentle setting the rivet, so it doesn’t look like it’s been attacked
There are a million and one leather keychains on pinterest
If you start searching pinterest for leather keychain inspiration you just might stay up past your bedtime
Since you’re up past bedtime you might as well start a list of everyone you know who now obviously needs a leather keychain
Who do you know that would love a leather keychain? What color leather would you use?
As always, if you make one of these fun little gifts, be sure to send us a picture. We’d love to see your take on this project!
Father’s Day is just around the corner, in case you haven’t noticed. For some reason it always seems difficult to come up with a special Father’s Day gifts that isn’t overdone, lame or ridiculously out of most of our budgets.
How about a fun Father’s Day gift that even an infant can do!
I’ts quick, personal and requires a minimum amount of supplies and creativity. And it will last a bit longer than a bag of beef jerky and be more meaningful than a new neck tie. Yet, it won’t cost near as much as a new grill or fishing boat either!
I nanny a little guy a few days each week and wanted a fun little gift that I could do with him that would bring a smile to mom and dad’s face. It needed to meet the requirements above and it had to be something this little one could actually do. So the sweet little guy provided the foundational art work and I covered the rest of the DIY.
small art canvas squares
acrylic paints, one or two colors for a little variety
pictures of your child(ren)
hot glue, or another strong glue
paper plates, paper towels … for clean up
The first step is to paint each of the canvases. This can be done in a number of ways – with an actual picture, a geometric pattern, or a more abstract piece for younger ones. For an abstract look squirt some paint onto a plate, smoosh their little hand into the paint to cover their palm and fingers and smear it on each canvas. I would also recommend stripping your little one down to a diaper and having plenty of wet paper towels on hand for clean up.
While that is drying, edit a few pictures to fit your canvas and print them out on a piece of card stock. You may decide to use stickers on a few of the canvases also, for a little variety. We did two canvases with stickers that said “I *heart* Mom” and “I *heart* Dad”.
When your canvases have dried, simply spread a thin layer of Modge Podge on each canvas and the back of each photo that you’ve cut to size and adhere the photo to the canvas. Smooth the edges down and apply another thin coat of Modge Podge over the entire canvas with the photo on it.
You can apply a second coat of Modge Podge if needed to ensure that the photo won’t pull up along any of the edges. Finally, glue your magnet to the back of the canvas and you’re all set.
You can add your canvas magnet collection to a gift bag with a favorite snack and invitation to a date with Dad doing something of his choosing. Be sure to snap a few pictures on your date with Dad for him to hang up with his new magnets.
And don’t forget to tell him what you appreciate about Him. It’s amazing how much a simple thank you can mean!
Which paint background is your favorite? An actual picture, a geometric pattern or an abstract painting?