Saturday, December 6, 2014

Steampunk Shower: Set-up and Party

 So the week of our fun little steam-fest, I borrowed some materials from various places {glass plates and punch cups, trays, pitchers, lace table cloths, brass dressform, antique phone and a couple normal decorations from around the house} and threw that all together with the stuff i had made in the previous weeks (see earlier post) and got set up the day before just to make sure i had everything needed and that it would all work well together.

the paper plate vintage typewriter worked like awesome sauce. it's still up. and i'm still debating leaving it up cause it's just too cool. we'll see.

I placed the steam-hunks around in various places with super cheesy words.


...filled the tiny "jewelry" glasses with powdered cream and sugar {for coffee}

{left} spray-painted some aluminum cans and added lace and beads for a simple industrial feel but pretty at the same time.
{right} a steampunk necklace for the bride-to-be that I had made by a lovely young lady.

Found this lovely old chair at a thrift store for $5. i just had to glue a leg and restuff the seat. it held our photo props since i wasn't sure how well i had actually glued and mended it, ha!

hung some paper lanterns with some crazy people print-outs hanging from spiraled floral wire. used hot glue and a metalic sharpie to add the little details work on the "hot-air baloons".

then the food helpers arrived and everything was beautiful and yummy looking! {our menu was simply some yummy food... no real theme to it. mini-toast with brie cheese and cranberry sauce; homemade chocolate pudding-it was to die for; veggie tray, apple fritters, garlic bread-we wanted plenty of bread-type items since we had a mini-bar available; bacon wrapped dates-another amazing item; crackers with avocado and crab meat; jalapeno cream cheese pinwheels; and shot glasses filled with either tomato or pumpkin soup and garnished with grilled cheese or apples and dried cranberries.}

gifts were placed in the trunk of awesomeness... fetauring a picture of the best steam-hunk, Tesla himself {thanks to my husbands suggestion}

closeup of the yumminess. :)

i found the travel bar box (on the right) at a consignment shop and added the LED lights {the kind you put in balloons}. ladies were able to mix their own drinks and we had coffee, tea and water available for those who preferred not to be extra spirited that evening.

wrong era but still cool, i found this knock off of a 1928 radio at an estate sale. the actual music played from my phone and the speakers below, but the radio worked enough to have the light on and give the intital illusion that it was the source of the music {that's what i told myself at least}.

 thrift store silver cup/bowl thing and lantern.

and we actually used the vintage camera to capture a few of the evenings moments.

it was a great evening. i was surprised that our little house fit all the stuff and 12 lovely ladies, but it did and it was a blast!!

Steampunk Shower: Party Prep

So my life has been pretty consumed with two things these last three months, Fiddler on the Roof {I played the part of Fruma Sarah, the butcher's dead wife} and Party Prep.

Because I'm frugal and broke {not really. but yeah. its the whole two mortgages thing} and picked a theme that is the sort that requires crafty-carftiness {or buying stuff on etsy for a ridiculous amount} I chose to pull out the crafty hat and wear it for a while. It was quite dusty... we're talking, dozens of generations of dust bunnies had come and gone kind of dusty. never the less, armed with a smallish budget and my glue gun, i made a secret pinterest board (that's where you can find some links), weekly {if not bi-weekly} trips to ALL of our thrift stores and dove into preparations!

So I searched the inter-webs and found a tutorial on how to make bellows for a vintage camera. then i grabbed cardstock, painters tape, cardboard, spray paint aded some details here and there and voila.

Then I stuck a camera inside so it could really take pictures {later on, not pictured, i added some fabric to the back, some gold painted straws, and a metalic painted remote for taking pictures}

Then I took some black paper plates, gold rub-n-buff, and some vintage typewriter letter cutouts to make a giant vintage typewriter for the wall.

Also got cheap silver trays at goodwill and a candlstick, some E-6000 glue (which i will NOT ever use again after reading the cancer warning on the label AFTER i used it. lame.) oh and lace and hot glue. and spray paint.

printed up some invites and some gift info cards. made a top hat stamp out of an eraser to "seal" the envelopes. {i've had that eraser for years just waiting to become a stamp}and printed the names with little tiny stamps i found at Micheals years ago.

then i started painting and hot gluing whatever i could get my hands on. {Later glued the teapot onto a candle stick too}

found a tutorial from thread banger on how to make some paper and cloth tophats and made a few.

turned an old box into an steampunked phone using plaint, plastic tops and bottle, ribbon spools, corks, straws, beads, wire, etc... don't forget the hot glue.

this resulted in a VERY messy half of the room... sheesh. :)

until I found an awesome trunk at a thrift shop... ok not really, it was still a mess. :P

glued some vintage-y labels onto small corked glass bottles {found them in the JEWELRY section of hobby lobby. don't ask me why}.

hot glued a ribbon rose and some wound up wire onto a cheap party top hat {this was part of my outfit for the evening, the rest i found at a thrift store, whoot!}

found one of a billion ways to make paper masks on youtube. made three. had my girls model them for you {they're just cereal box cardstock, chopsticks and paint.}

printed out some steamHUNKS and a few other old looking telegrams and pictures and such.

 and then i found this...


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Today I die.

I drive down the street. Thanks to the location of our new house and weekly rehearsals at the local children's theater I drive down this particular road quite frequently now. 

It's a road steeped with history. It's name reflects the piles of product that used to line the street 100 years ago. It houses the public library that sits right next to the police station just a block or two from the first Baptist church. Saturday mornings it hosts the downtown farmers market. And just a few blocks the other way is a local mission/shelter and the mission's thrift store and a salvation army thrift store and a liquor store, and on and on it goes.

We live in a small town, but I grew up in a big city... actually I take that back... I was a kid in a big city and I'm "growing up" in a small town.

As I drive down the road on my way to where I'm going... I hope I see her... and I hope I dont. Our city recently installed new benches along the downtown main streets, and on one of them sits a woman.
Sometimes she's wearing a brightly orange colored jacket, slumped over one of her two bags, resting. Sometimes she eating out of a container of some kind. Sometimes she has a plastic bag on her head because it's sprinkling. Sometimes she has on an auburn colored wig and sometimes I can see her dark hair streaked with gray. Sometimes she's just sitting there, not sleeping, not eating, not huddled up, just sitting. She usually sits facing away from the main street. Sometimes she's there at 10 am and still at 11:30 am. Sometimes she's there at 6pm and 8:30pm and 9:30pm.

Sometimes she's not there and I wonder where she is. I think maybe I've seen her on the north side of town before, walking from one place to another. Maybe that's where she is. Maybe she's at a shelter. Maybe she's hurt. Maybe she's dead.
But when she is there, I wonder what I should do. I read an article that stated "you can't begin to assess someone's needs and help them unless you have that relationship." So how do I form a relationship? How do I talk to her... I don't walk down that street and have a reason to just casually start a conversation. (and besides,.. introvert over here! I don't know how to start conversations remember! I wait for the other person, then I determine whether or not I can trust them, and THEN my bubbly, sassy personality comes out).

When I drive down the street I often have to stop at that red light, and she's only 40 or 50 feet away and I ask myself a million and four questions...
How can I help her? What if she doesn't want help? What if she's mentally ill or just afraid and I walk up to her and she pulls out a knife and stabs me? Should I offer her a place to sleep? Should I pull over and ask if she's hungry? What would Dave think if i brought her home and cooked her a meal and offered her our bed because we dont have an extra? What if she kills us all in our sleep... who will send my beautiful asha kids monthly support if we're dead? What if she steals something? What if she hurts the kids?
...and then the light turns green and I go.

but I don't go into all the world, because I can't even go to the bench lady on the corner of my small town America. I go back to my bubble. my stuff. my comfort. my husband and children. my life.

but I said I would lay down my life... because that's what Christ did for me. He saw me in my hunger and despair and orphaned state; separated from the Father because of sin, and He brought me in and he gave up His position and His stuff and He died for me.  He died!

and when I said I would follow Him and be like Him and live like Him... it meant I would die like him too. I would die for someone else. I would give up my stuff for someone else. I would give up my position and rights and privileges. I didn't get a ticket to heaven. I got a ticket to death. and in so choosing death, I will live.

and because whatever I do for her, I do unto Him. So it's not a scary, possibly-crazy, homeless lady. It's Christ. Waiting for me... to step out in obedience... to step out in surrender... to do something. It's Christ waiting for me to die so He can give me life.

and when all my questions start to convince me to be afraid, I remind myself that it's not just me... I'm only one small part of the body of Christ. I'm not alone in this. I have a network of support. I have a network of resources. Right now I'm the eyes. I see her. and I'll have to be the tongue and talk to her. and maybe I'll be the hands and feet too for a while, or maybe someone will join me and they'll be the hands for a time.

so today... amidst our busy schedule, dirty dishes, feverish child, burnt toast, theater rehearsals, worship set that isn't ready, longings for India, moldy tortillas, unfinished projects, school work, chores, memory verses, organizing clothes, disciplining kids, barking dogs, colorful crafts, and all that is my life... today I die.

and tomorrow I plan to die again.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Family Contributions!

um, i think i promised to share about our "family contributions" in my last post...

and i was reminded today that it might, mabye, i dunno, be helpful for someone else when my oldest daughter saw me writing out some family contribution cards and as clear as day said "mom, i like that we do family contributions"


yeah, you heard right.

that pretty much sealed it for me. so i'll share about our little box and cards and maybe it'll work for you, and maybe it wont. that's ok. or maybe it'll spark your own system that'll work great for your family. or maybe you already have one, in that case you don't have to keep reading. i won't be offended. ;)

ok. so let's start at the very beginning...

well then that means i have to share about all the FAILED CHORE CHARTS that have come and died in our family.

yeah. pinterest, you're not any help... with your cute little magnets and popsicle sticks and mason jars and posters and so on... nope, we have just NEVER been able to get a good system down. especially ones that require i re-assign tasks each day or week (ya know, the ones with a "need to do" and a "finished" side... nope those dont survive in this house past two days.)

now i have to preface with TWO things that i think have made a BIG difference with why this system is actually working that just may not be a variable for you.

one. my youngest is SEVEN. excuse me while i shed a few tears. my baby girl. seven. do you realize what that means? it means i'm not picking up after a toddler or even a kindergardener... nope, shes a big kid. and my oldest will be a teenager in just a couple months. oh my goodness, i just realized how close that is. sheesh. in other words, having older kids is definitely making it easier.

two. we have moved into a smaller house... and while it has caused some storage issues "where in the world do i put this?" problems, ultimately, less house means less stuff means less mess means less cleaning.

those two things are HUGE! so if this thing i'm about to describe seems crazy to you, it just might not be for your family and where you are, but hopefully some of the principles will be a little more universal and applicable.

ok. so what is this great and wonderful system that has my 11 year old daughter singing it's praises?!?!

index cards. 
in an index card box. 
with some writing on it.
and some makeshift tabbies. 
and that's about it.

oh yeah, i did get a piece of label tape and wrote "family Contributions" on it along with a part of a verse that reads, "through love serve one another." but other than that... it's not very flashy. but it's practical and easily alterable (i should know, I've already tweaked the cards twice).

ok so down to the nitty gritty. here's what i did.

First, i stopped calling these tasks we do each day "chores". who wants to do chores? not me!! nope. that word REEKS of pain and misery. nope, nope. i wanted the kids to see that these tasks serve a purpose... the smooth(er) functioning of our household. i wanted them to know that they contribute to this family and they each play a valuable role in each others lives.

Second, we set a time that was easy for us to remember and commit to. for us that's right after lunch. we're kind of a weird mix of flexible and scheduled and not every day is the same BUT more often than not, we are home for lunch and immediately after lunch. so at 1:00, I (or one of the kids) will call out "time to do family contributions!" we get the box. we read our cards and within about 15-20 minutes they are done and we can sit down for the next part of our school day.

Third, i sat down and scribbled out the things/tasks that i would like the kids to get done each week (i just sorta mentally, or physically, walked through each room and looked around and asked what was important to our family to get done). then next to each item I'd put down what days i thought they should be done. (ya know, is it something that needs to be done the day before we have lifegroup people over? is it something that needs to be done the day before the trash and recycling trucks come by? and so on)

Third and a half... i simultaneously thought of tasks that were more for ME to do... things like dusting the ceiling fans a couple times a month, or washing the bed sheets more often than normal (which was usually never. it's true.) ya know the things that are more bi-monthly or monthly and things i'd just like to do myself.... cough... cause i'm a control freak... cough.

Fourth i scribbled out a big "master chart"... see that scribbly paper in the top left corner? i put the days of the week across the top and then i wrote in the tasks under the days i had put on the original list. so for example, i want the living room swept on tuesday and saturday. so i put that under the tuesday and the saturday columns. and so on. simple. and if i noticed that some days were too loaded, then i'd move stuff around and got it to where pretty much each day had about the number of tasks.

Fifth i got smart after making the cards two other times (the first time, the kids were always waiting for the other person to finish sweeping before they could sweep themselves and then theyd get distracted and forget and i wasnt' about to buy four brooms so that they could all sweep at the same time. Aaand the second time, i think i was half asleep when i tried to fix the unavailable broom problem and ended up giving annabelle her least favorite task 3 times a week accidentally, and while on paper the tasks were distributed evenly, the reality was that some took way longer than others). so yes, i got smart and beside each task i also wrote an estimate of time for that task (5 minutes or 10 minutes or even 2 minutes, etc...but i wasn't super specific).

so after everything was listed and put under the right days and had little timey-whimey numbers beside them, i grabbed colorful pens and circled the tasks for each kid for that day. (detailed example: mondays tasks are sweep girls bedroom. sweep sams bedroom. sweep mom and dads room. empty bedroom trash cans. put away clean dishes. clear table. wipe coffee tables. wipe the trash can lid. empty bathroom hamper. empty sams hamper. empty mom/dads hamper. vaccum rugs. feed bandit. so for monday zosie got 4 tasks, sam got 3, micah got 4 and annabelle got 2. but they'll all take about the same amount of time (15-20 minutes) and assigned with age appropriateness in mind (like zosie can't reach to put high dishes away or use a blower out in the front yard, so she never ends up doing that during the week). oh and that reminds me, i chose to alternate tasks among the kids... one to avoid boredom and ultimately hating a single task. and two so that they can all learn to do all the things around the house. so there's that.

Sixth, i made little tabs. i chose to do days of the week. and behind each day i put one card for Sam, one for Micah and so on. and the card simply has the tasks written out (explained with added detail if needed).

then I pretty much ended up taking the back half of the tabs... i just gave myself a "mom" tab to put my daily cards under (coulda done that with the kids too, but i didn't), and then i made tabs for certain days of the month (i just picked days that my brain tends to notice in any given month. i'm a weirdo. it's ok.) and distributed those bi-monthly and monthly tasks i had listed. i did not put ALL of my daily/weekly stuff on the daily cards.... just the ones i tend to avoid more often than not. :P

So, that's it. and i guess i could give you  our lists, but then you might think it's missing half of what you need, or you might think it's expecting too much... so i'm not giving you a list. it really just makes more sense to just figure out what is practical and doable for your family, and then do that!

This little box has saved me many frustrations of my own and reduced whining from the kids (except for the whole annabelle and the dishes thing, which we ended up laughing about her reaction to seeing it on her card "AGAIN!"). i dont have to ask "did you do this? did you finish that?" i only ask them once they say they are done, "what did you get to do [or contribute] today?" and they proudly list off the things they did. sometimes i'll ask them "did you make sure to..." and i'll insert a cleaning detail that apparently only moms think to do. and sometimes they hafta go back and redo or improve on something.

so what have you found works well for YOUR family? (or didn't work well at all, lol)?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Open Thoughts About Organic

In an effort to squelch some assumptions I've noticed floating around in blog-land (you may know the ones I'm talking about, they like putting judgments into the mouths {or minds} of certain "types" of mommies... in this instance, those that choose organic... as if what i buy in the store defines who i am or who they are... and how apparently we're not gracious and we're always judging the non-organic mommies for not being super-human-organic heroes... those ones) i'm going to share some of my thoughts as they happen in real life situations. {this may or may not be a good idea, ha!}

my hope is to persuade you that this mama (who happens to choose organic grocery items), isn't spending her precious time judging those who don't and that i don't choose what our family eats in order to try to look like a better mom. and i don't post things on my blog to add to your list of expectations and duties for yourself ...and hopefully, this will help us all learn that we really aren't always being judged by others (but perhaps... we're allowing the enemy too great a hold in our thought life)

It's Saturday morning. I wake up and realize I forgot to get "fun brunch" items for the kids to share who had participated in a local show-choir camp. drats. and there's nothing in the house. double drats. and we slept in late. triple drats. so on my way to drop off my daughter, we stop at kroger. i grab some organic bananas, organic strawberries and organic yogurt slurpy things (that are overpriced, because they're in individual slurpy packages, but thankfully marked down a little that day). let me just say, i don't choose organic because i want to shove it in other peoples faces, i choose organic because it's what i always buy (just like i prefer a certain kind of salsa over another, it's just what i get) so we walk into the theater and my daughter takes off with the bag. i at least had the chance to tell her to make sure to eat some of what we brought and that she could pick one other "bread" item from what other people would bring. {now this is the daughter who has cavities, so i'm trying to be pretty strict with her, but not kill ALL her fun ALL the time}. but in all honesty, what i would have preferred was that she not even have the organic yogurt cause it's still pretty loaded with sugar or any bread item at all because we are doing our best to avoid bread because of the cavities}.

As I walked out, a mom walked in with two boxes of donuts. my thought was "oh i hope my daughter can resist all the donuts cause I know I couldn't"

Later when we went to pick up the left over items, I noticed someone else had brought yogurt slurpies and bananas too!! my thought "whew, at least i didn't look like a TOTAL freak for not bringing donuts or muffins". (remember no one even saw me, but still i was concerned about how it looked, sheesh)

and since i didn't have a bag to put my "sticks-out-like-a-sore-thumb" organic items, i went around the outside of where all the people were just so they wouldn't see what i had and think i was trying to show off my organic purchases.

THE REVIEW: let me summarize and comment on these events:
1. Did you notice that my thoughts were not focused on trying to decide whether a mother was good or bad at any point in my day? (no one can rightly judge our hearts and motives based on what we carry out of a grocery store or into a kids fun-brunch)

2. I was not defining or labeling or categorizing moms based on whether they were carrying donuts or organic bananas. (we are not defined by things or the choices we make that fall in the areas outside of the core/central moral beliefs. Our definition and identity comes from the Father alone.)
3. I too, like so many moms, wondered what someone was thinking about me, which tells me that everyone is most likely concerning themselves with themselves and so I can probably stop worrying about it altogether. (the enemy wants division among God's people, but we should choose to encourage one another and stand united against the common enemy, not each other.)

4. The things I bought & brought were not to compete or show up other moms, i bought them because its what I buy on a regular basis. (except for the yogurt slurpies, i only get those when they're on sale, either way, it had nothing to do with another mom, it had to do with what i wanted to buy my family. plain and simple.) ;)

of course, i'm not saying that moms NEVER point a finger, or think a mean thought towards anyone else (obviously its happening since its being reported in all these blogs posts), but what I am saying (because i can only speak for myself and not anyone else)... is that this mama don't do dat... and I'm betting that a lot of others don't as well.

How about we give each other the benefit of the doubt and stop assuming that what people think about us is horrible, terrible things (that sounds more like satan's lies trying to destroy and distract). maybe, lets assume that they aren't even thinking about us at all... and yes, i'm writing and reading this myself, i don't need to worry, fret, or fear that people are going to see me as a pretentious hippy snob when they see me carrying organic items... because they're probably just wondering why i eat organic or maybe they're wondering what i think about their donuts. maybe they don't care either way.

wanna know what i think about your donuts? i wanna know if there's a blueberry cake do-nut in the box so i can drool over it and smell it and convince myself its worth cheating over!! where's the milk!

seriously though, we're never going to know what the other person actually thinks unless we actually talk about it, and really, its ok if we never do because i don't base my life decisions and purchases on what other people think or expect. you don't need to either. but the assumptions need to stop and the communication needs to begin.

...and that's what I think about that.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Homeschool FAQ: #1

Question: What does your typical day look like?

Short Answer: there are no typical days... but you probably already knew that. :)

Long Answer: Here's a description of our schedule...

Kids wake up (hopefully before 8... yeah we're not alarmists 'round here) and complete their "wake-up tasks" which include brushing teeth, fixing their bed and personal bible reading.

Eat Breakfast, wash their dish and get dressed.

Family Time:
  • All the kids gather together for scripture memory verses. Each of the older three take turns leading the practice each day.
  • 15 minutes of exercise all together (we might go for a walk, or do some stretching, or some aerobics, etc...)
  • 15-20 minutes of Foreign Language (we spend a few minutes learning/reviewing the Telugu alphabet, etc... and watch a few minutes of an Indian movie via youtube videos)

Individual Time: [Core academics]

depending on who needs a kindle or a computer or mommy... determines what order they go in (and that's pretty much what takes the time to organize), but essentially everyone is working on Math, Reading and Writing between 9:30 and 12. the older three (4th, 6th and 7th grade) are primarily on their own, and I focus my time with the 2nd grader and she is technically done by 11:30 and that gives me time to get lunch started while she plays quietly on her own and the others finish up. they also stop for a 10-15 minute snack between their first and second subjects.

LUNCH, wash our plate and at 1 o'clock we start our "family contributions" (aka chores)!! (takes about 15-20 minutes... a wonderful benefit of having a smaller house!)

Family Time (again): we come together for a time of bible study, discussion and prayer.

Individual Time (again): the kids now have their "extra" or non-core subjects. which are currently Computer Programming (7th), French (6th), Texas History (4th), and whatever interesting thing I find for the 2nd grader for the day. :)

then the option for art or handicrafts or music is available (but most often neighborhood friends are knocking on the door to play by then, lol)

the end.

but of course THEN there are days like today where we all wake up around 8:40 and also have other errands to throw into the mix. so pretty much what we do is start from the beginning and work our way through, adjusting meal times . and for instance with today i have to take a 90 minute trip to get our goat milk, so i bring the two youngest and they do reading in the van together while the older two continue at home following their normal schedule. and if 3 o clock rolls around and we haven't done everything we had scheduled, we still quit. (and that works for us because of how we progress through lessons) and we try not to end up looking like this...