Doing Good

please help saipan

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Friends,

I just recently heard from a good college friend who has been living in Saipan with her family.  She was reaching out to friends to tell them about the devastation to the island from Typhoon Soudelor that hit this past Sunday.  The media has barely covered the devastation of Saipan but it is great, especially on such a poverty-stricten island.

There are so many families homeless right now or living in shelters with with no water and nothing clean to sleep on.

 

Please read my friend, Nadia's, message below:

Most of you probably know that our little island was pummeled by a typhoon a week ago that has left this place turned upside down. Our neighbors were tracking the storm as it blew through, and they recorded sustained winds of 130, with some gusts of up to 214mph. We were up during the middle of it and it was terrifying.
 
Several people survived the storm, houses intact, (us included) and sustained minimum damage. Others had their roof ripped off their houses and had to find shelter, others houses were completely destroyed. As the week has progressed it's been found that families have been stuck in their villages because the trees have blocked them in and/or trees fell on their vehicles. There are about 500 people living in shelters at the moment, and it's not clear how long they will be there. There are those who didn't make it to shelters and are living with neighbors and rebuilding their own houses.
 

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 {Photos credited to Glen Hunter}

 

My friend is asking for any of the following items to be shipped to her for these victims to a have a place to rest their head, some cleanliness, and relief while aid is beginning to come to the island.  (Here's a video of a small group delivering their own water to victims across the island.)

 

Here's where Saipan is located:

SaipanMap

 

Items greatly needed for families/children:

  • hygiene kits (soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc.)
  • blankets, sheets, tarps (to sleep on)
  • towels, washcloths
  • flip flops
  • underwear
  • flashlights + batteries (there's no electricity)
  • radio + batteries
  • diapers
  • wipes
  • formula
  • wipes
  • books, paper, crayons (for kids)
  • dried meats (jerky)

 

 

Here's how YOU can help in a simple but incredible way:

1) Package up any of the following items you have at home + ship to Nadia's home address in Saipan (*see below)

2) Share this post for Saipan on Facebook, your blog, in your church, or in your personal social networks

3) Organize a hygiene assembly kit get-together with friends to ship to Saipan

4) Organize a drive at your church for members to contribute items to be shipped in bulk to Saipan

 

Our family is putting a box together and are involving the teenagers in our congregation to assemble boxes of needed items this week for their youth group activity.  This is a great opportunity to involve others and create meaningful service in the process.

Just find things you already have on hand--no need to run to the store--and box them up!  We've done this before with your incredible generosity for the people of Japan--in shipping over 700 boxes from all around the world to help the children of Ishinomaki, Japan.

 

Let's give some peace of mind, relief, and a smile to the children and parents of Saipan.

*If you want to ship a package to Saipan, contact me personally in the "Contact Me" section above and I will send you Nadia's personal address.  She is volunteering at the shelters currently and will be distributing boxes. 

 

Thank you friends!  Let's live boldly today.

 

the sleepy time gal

worldwide yoga for congo women event

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Friends-- I know this is rare for me to post twice in a day but there is a reason behind it.  And I hope you stick with me through the whole post to see its timely importance.

Today I'm happy to have a guest on my blog, my dear friend and founder of Yoga for Congo Women, Ann Richmond.  You may remember her in this space from the local YFCW event I hosted here in central PA years ago.  Or you may remember her incredible line of homemade soaps that fund aid and support to the women in the Congo.

Well, I'm so very happy to bring her back to share something for all of us; let me let her explain in detail.  Please take a minute and catch the vision of this beautiful organization that empowers women in great need halfway around the world...

84 My name is Ann Richmond.  I'm blessed to live in the mountains with my amazing husband, six incredible daughters,    and a funny little puppy.  My husband and I run a charity called Yoga for Congo Women. We've held this event in cities   all over the country, and for the first time, we will be holding it online, so that anyone, worldwide, can participate!

 So all of us get mail, email, facebook messages, etc...long, long emails asking us for help.

 Most of us really don’t have time for long emails.

 But even more than that, we don’t have the capacity to take it.  We get emails from charities of all kinds, all of us.  We    all go through psychic numbing, because the numbers are so immense and the problems are so painful that we                physically cannot bear it or fathom it, and we shut it out. Don’t feel guilty…it’s a normal defense mechanism.

We all do it in some way or another.

Since you're busy, I'll just give you the basic facts:

  • The war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo began with the Rwandan genocide.
  • It is the deadliest war since WWII, and also the most ignored.
  • Over 7 million people are dead, with 45,000 more continuing to die each month.
  • Innocent women are used as weapons in this war: warring militias compete to be the most brutal, and thus the most feared.
  • Thousands of women (ranging from ages 3-80) are gang raped each month.
  • Women are forced to watch as family members are kidnapped and killed.
  • According to public health researcher Amber Peterman, it is estimated that 1152 women are raped in the DRC every day.  That’s four, every 5 minutes. That means that there are already over three million rapes in the Congo. (Link here to her official report, If Numbers Could Scream.)
  • Yes, this is happening RIGHT NOW.
  • I can't stand it.

 

One is a tragedy.  A million is a statistic. Right?

But what happens to each of those millions of people who is really ONE person, just like you or me?

If your friend was lost, hurt, or alone, you would care deeply, no matter how gruesome their life had turned out.

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So today, I'd love to tell you about just one person.  One woman.  One friend.

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Her name is Generose.

Just like me, she had six babies.

And just like me, she had a husband she loved very much.

Just like me, one of her worst fears was that terrible people would break into her home and hurt her family at night.  Only for her, it was actually likely to happen.  And it did.

You can imagine what happened to her next.  And as if that wasn’t enough, her leg was also cut off my the militia (a punishment for crying out).  Her husband and son were killed.

In a country the world has left for dead, you and I can only imagine what life was like for her and her remaining children after that.

Luckily, that’s not the end of the story.

Someone in Oregon decided to be her friend.  One friend.  One person who cared enough to do something.

"I believe God sent me [my sister] to rescue me from my misery." - Generose

As a result, Generose is now happy, healthy, and doing more than most of us do with both our legs.

You could be that friend for someone else.

For one hour, your life could intersect with another life and change it forever.

It just might change you, too.

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Please.  Let's join together for Yoga for Congo...hear the rest of Generose's story and the stories of others, people in Congo and people like you.  Find hope you couldn't have imagined in "the worst place on earth to be a woman."  Join us on November 1st for the first-ever Worldwide Yoga for Congo Women Event!

PS - You can visit this page to see more details about the event.  Basically, on November 1st, people can visit our website at any time to view the worldwide broadcast.  It is free, requires no registration, and lasts one hour only.  After, they are free to donate if they choose.  As a bonus, anyone who donates receives a free Yoga for Congo beanie from me in the mail.

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Thank you so much Ann.  Friends, I hope you can find one hour in your day this Saturday to participate in this beautiful, moving, and most importantly, life-changing event. I can promise you that it will change you and change these women who desperately need our help.

 

Do it for them.  Do it for you.  This Saturday lets unite!

 

the sleepy time gal

a child learns: owning your life / action

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{Caroline's test kitchen}

If you're just joining us for the owning your life series, start here.  If you missed the last segment of planning, catch up here.

 

Action.

This is where the dreaming and planning merge together.  Where everything you want for you and your family takes place and becomes a reality.  Let me show you how I take priorities and turn them into tangible action.

 

Once I have my priorities then it really comes down to planning the action.  Here are some tips for planning the action:

  • Have a weekly/monthly calendar.  Whether it is a calendar you write on or calendar on your phone/iPad, you need a place to be consistent and accountable.

 

  • Set a consistent time each week to fill in your calendar with your priorities.  If you don't, your dreams will always stay dreams.

For me, it is always Sunday night that I look over my priorities, lists of things I need/want to get done that I've been adding to all week, list of things the kids want to do, and begin filling them in to our calendar.  This is a very relaxing, enjoyable time of the week for me.  I have all of my goals, lists, ideas, tasks, and appointments that I merge into the upcoming week.

  • Schedule singular events while repeating weekly events on your calendar.  

While it is obvious that you'll put one-time events on your calendar (make gingerbread houses with the kids) you also want to decide what priorities you want to keeping happening regularly, something that you'll need to schedule as a  weekly, repeating event (take kids to the library).  On most digital calendars you can select an event to repeat weekly, monthly, or even daily.

  • Keep a running list of random thoughts, tasks, and ideas you don't want to forget.    This is to clear your brain.                                                                                                              

One of the most important ways to be happy and working daily towards something bigger is to be able to take action without all of the clutter on your mind.  Keeping a running list of everything on your mind truly gets rid of anxiety of things you need to get done or remember and lets you actually focus on that day's action.  It's a proven fact that you work better, think better, and are more at peace when you consistently write everything down so your mind can stop continually bringing it back to your remembrance.

I scan over my running list each week to see if any pressing tasks need to be taken care of that week.

 

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{Remnants from sewing day last week}

Here is a random sampling of some of my priorities for this fall:

Personal:

  • reaching my year-long personal health goals by the holidays and rewarding myself 
  • thoroughly decluttering/reorganizing our basement storage room along with some smaller organizational projects around the house (cupboards and such)
  • being more on top of making/baking our snacks, condiments, dressings, etc., and stocking up the freezer with soups for the winter
  • consistently keeping a journal
  • seriously having some sort of date night with Bobby each weekend (even if it means sharing a dessert and watching a Cake Boss or Top Gear rerun!)
  • have fun with my kids everyday--i.e. stop trying to control situations and trust my children more

Family:

  • round out our Civil War exploring with a trip to Gettysburg
  • master a few more sewing skills with the girls
  • help Caroline start selling/shipping her Bakie's shortbread
  • add to and enjoy playing math board games as a family

 

 

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{The weekly job chart}

 

Here are those same priorities with details for action in bold.

 

Personal:

 

  • reaching my year-long personal health goals by the holidays and rewarding myself 

           weekly:  review written goal and reward and assess progress--make adjustments where needed

           daily:  exercise 3x a week, stick to my eating plan and be accountable daily

  • thoroughly decluttering/reorganizing our basement storage room along with some smaller organizational projects around the house (cupboards and such)

           weekly: pick one major house project from my list and schedule it in to my week--preferably at night

           daily: keep up established daily job chart with kids and I fill in the cracks of daily tidying

  • being more on top of making/baking our snacks, condiments, dressings, etc., and stocking up the freezer with soups, etc., for the winter

           weekly: decide what is needed/wanted to make/bake that week based on our running list and family's interest

           daily: do making/baking on set, prescribed day that week--make sure to be prepared with ingredients before that day  

  • consistently keeping a journal

           daily: write a little in my journal most mornings during my quiet time after looking over the day's calendar

           keep a piece of paper on the fridge of funny things the kids say to add to throughout the week

  • seriously having some sort of date night with Bobby each weekend (even if it means sharing a dessert and watching a Cake Boss or Top Gear rerun!)

           weekly: schedule "date night" as a repeating event for every Friday night on my calendar and Bobby's

           start thinking mid week if we will will be going out, staying in, and start talking and brainstorming with Bobby towards the end of the week

  • have fun with my kids everyday--i.e. stop trying to control situations and trust my children more

           weekly: plan out the most important things and schedule them and leave the rest of our day open to fill in as we go

           daily: pray to let go more, assess how I'm feeling throughout the day--peaceful/happy to know if I'm accomplishing this 

 

 

Family:

 

  • round out our Civil War exploring with a trip to Gettysburg

           weekly: set the date for visiting Gettysburg and decide what activities the kids are wanting to do based on the Civil War each week

           daily: explore the Civil War through our library books, videos, and online resources--usually in the afternoon during quiet time

  • master some more sewing skills with the girls

           weekly: set aside a "sewing day" where we bring all the machine upstairs to the dining room to work together--group projects and individual

           daily: keep a list of what the girls are wanting to make and use it to know what we can sew each week

  • help Caroline start selling/shipping her Bakie's shortbread

           weekly: have a business meeting--Monday mornings--with Caroline each week to help her decide the next steps and schedule tasks

  • add to and enjoy playing math board games as a family

               weekly: schedule a repeating event in my calendar for a weekly family game night, preferably on a Friday night before bedtime

                             keep a list of the math/problem solving/strategy/other games I want for our family collection 

                             decide a game/homeschooling budget with Bobby and our regularity in adding to our collection

 

All of these details in bold above are the actions that I've been taking because they were singularly, intentionally, put into my calendar, then, acted upon.  I can see my progress and if there is a priority that isn't happening, I can start giving it attention when I'm ready.

I actually do more in my life and with my children now then back when I had only a few children.  It all comes down to knowing what I want, planning it out (which often requires being super creative and becoming an expert problem solver), and taking action.

 

I really hope you enjoyed and were somehow inspired by this owning your life series.  I'm so inspired by many of you that have contacted me over the years wanting more with your life, your days, and your mothering.  Many of you have taken an interest in homeschooling and aren't sure how to take the first step.  Many of you are so overwhelmed with all of the options of parenting styles, how to spend your day with your young kids, and this and that, that you may be afraid to even move, feeling overwhelmed by all of the choices out there.  To you I'd say be confident and do those bold things that you want for you and your family.  

This is an incredible time to be alive.  An incredible time to make our lives everything we've ever dreamed them to be.  Dream.  Plan.  Act.  You will never look back and wish for simpler days.  It will push you and change you in ways you never imagined and that is where your personal power lies.

I can't wait to hear of any steps you may be taking to fully owning your life.  For you are the only one capable of doing it and doing it beautifully.

 

More on the homeschooling series:

a child learns: owning your life / planning

a child learns: owning your life / dreaming

a child learns: trust yourself

a child learns: trust children

a child learns: the decision 

a child learns: the series

 

 the sleepy time gal

 

her bake sale: lessons learned

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lessons learned

Thank you so much for your enthusiasm yesterday over Caroline's bake sale.  It sounds like many of you have been inspired to hold a lemonade stand this summer--hooray!  I have some tips and lessons learned (in no particular order) from our whole experience that hopefully will help guide you in organizing something similar.

lessons learned:

  • Keep everything in a simple folder for your child, the organizer.  Caroline's folder included many lists of ideas over the months (from our baking books and library books) of what she was interested in baking for the sale, sample logos of "Bakies" she had drawn, extra flyers, lists of what we still needed to do, and saved receipts from buying our ingredients.  It is a place where your young organizer can be responsible and organized from the get-go.
  • Meet regularly with your child to plan your event.  This is such an enjoyable time.  Caroline and I have spent hours looking through baking book, brainstorming, looking up packaging ideas online, making flyers on the computer, and so on.  Giving yourself all the time to plan an event is worth it.
  • Constantly be aware of the balance of letting it be your child's event and stepping in.  This is really determined with the child's age.  For most of the planning, I was a gentle reminder.  A reminder of what would be important to have on a flyer, a reminder of what categories of things would sell well at a bake sale, a reminder to not sample things in the kitchen while you're making them, and other important experienced-adult reminders.  Then, Caroline could fill in the blanks and own most of the experience.  If it is a large scale event, they will need more of your help.  If it is a small scale event, your child could be responsible for much more.
  • Let them be accountable and responsible.  In a society where we tend to sugar-coat reality for kids, please let them be responsible and accountable for their event.  Caroline was prepared that when the final counting of the money she earned took place, she would be deducting the cost of ingredients and supplies.  She had to do the somewhat difficult task of handing the flyer to all her neighbors in person and promoting her sale.  She was accountable for many things leading up to the sale and the sale itself.  She grew by leaps and bounds from the experience.
lessons learned
lessons learned
  • Be prepared for last minute changes.  Although we had everything planned to the T the week before, circumstances the week/day of called for some changes.  The whole bake sale operation was pushed back against the house an hour into it because of the sun, our chocolate truffles were kept indoors because of the heat, some of our baked goods (like cupcakes) were never made based on lack of time, and so on.  You adjust and do the best you can.
  • Choose the best recipes to bake.  Most of our recipes were tried and true recipes that are family favorites.  We baked them with confidence and our customers loved them.  Definitely important for continued customers!  (Banana Crunch Muffins, Maple Oatmeal Scones, Flourless Chocolate Cookies and our breads were really popular.)
  • Ask for help.  We asked my mother and mother-in-law to bake one of Caroline's favorite cookies that they were experts with to donate to the bake sale.  It was wonderful to have two cookies we didn't have to make.  That left me and Caroline to bake the rest-- quite the undertaking for the two of us.  Next time, we will ask for more help with baking.
lessons learned
lessons learned
  • Have a variety of baked goods.  We had some super indulgent baked goods (Outrageous Walnut Brownies and truffles), some hearty whole grain baked goods (like our muffins and scones), some smaller cookies for kids at 25 cents a piece, some gluten-free cookies, and both white and whole wheat breads.  There was something for the young and older of our customers of different tastes. 
  • Have your kids be involved with the details as well.  It was so important having my two writers make all of the signs and labels.  It made the whole presence of the sale theirs.  All of my children helped fill the baskets with our baked goods and set the long table.  It was thrilling for them.
  • Get all of your children involved, not just the organizer.  My youngest girls, Annabelle, Ainsleigh, and Johanna, knew for some time they were totally in charge of the lemonade stand.  So they kept it up, filled cups, prepped in the kitchen with Daddy, and helped set the table.  Those three were so proud with owning the lemonade stand that they sat at their stand hours before the bake sale begin, just waiting.
  • Create real learning moments about money.  Caroline learned about starting the sale with money to make change (ones, fives, quarters), about pricing items, revenue, and profit.  This was the perfect experience for her to open her own bank account to keep her profit (which was thrilling in and of itself).  And the younger girls learned that their hard work turned into a handful of quarters and crisp dollar bills for their piggy banks.
  • Use what you have.  For decorations and packaging, that is.  We packaged most baked goods with plastic wrap so they could be individual servings, easily picked up and bought.  We repurposed pink shredded paper, pink quilting fabric scraps, and glass jars for holding our fruit from our family fruit bowl.  And we collected a variety of baskets, silver platters, and trays for display from around the house.  No need to spend extra money on presentation although balloons are a must!  They grab everyone's attention and exclaim, "The party is here!"
  • Be prepared to motivate. There were moments the week leading up to the bake sale that a young seven year old needed encouragement, motivation, and support for such an endeavour.  Initially I had envisioned her baking almost everything and running the show on her own with my help.  Those expectations aren't realistic.  Some things she could handle on her own, other things we did together, and others still, I finished on my own.  On our biggest baking days we would bake, she'd ask for a break to scooter, and then she'd come back for the next step.  She needed a motivator and cheerleader to focus so much on such a task.
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I'd love to hear of your experiences with your own sales/lemonade stands.  And feel free to ask any questions to Caroline or myself.

More of Caroline's bake sale:

her bake sale

her big debut

the sleepy time gal

her bake sale

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It sounds trite but creating and putting together this bake sale with Caroline has changed my (mommy) life.

 

Where do I begin??

Do I begin before the big day, the hours baking in the kitchen with and without Caroline (because seriously, a seven year old can only handle so much baking before she has to get some air on her scooter), the hours the two of us spent planning, advertising, setting up, taking flyers door to door, packaging, me learning the careful balance of "letting this be her thing" and knowing the limitations of a child, sneaking samples of our baked goods together, meetings between the chef (Caroline) and her sous chef (me)...

Or do I begin with the day of the bake sale.  The adrenaline rush, the rush, period.  Caroline excitedly rushing to a ballet rehearsal to rush home, jump into bake-sale attire, sweat beading off her face, and--all of a sudden--she's running a bake sale.  A sale, might I remind you, that took place for four hours in humid 90 degree weather.

People came from all around, lining up, being ever so generous, leaving with arm-fulls of baked goods, and wishing the young entrepreneur luck.  Our breads sold like hotcakes, my job was to keep the table filled with food, and Johanna and her little sisters (the lemonade stand was their baby) kept Daddy busy all morning juicing lemons to keep their customers happy.  There was so much excitement in the air, so many supportive customers, such excited little girls trying to stay cool while meeting and greeting customers in our driveway.

 

Or do I write about after the bake sale.  The joy that just lingered in our home.  The fulfillment that everyone felt having worked towards something so big together and experiencing it, together.  Caroline's smile from a full day of being the star to her continued smile of completion and satisfaction as she and her sisters spent the remainder of the day not resting in the cool indoors, but being kids outdoors on a hot day.  Or the thrilling moment carefully counting the money Caroline earned with her and slipping it into a crisp white envelope to put into a new bank account...

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 I have seen a dream fulfilled in my child.  I have seen her confidence and wisdom grow a few inches taller from this experience.  So many friends, family, and neighbors made Saturday magical for a little girl.  Thank you.

As the few baked leftovers remain on the counter from the big day, and baskets and handwritten labels are put away, there remains a most wonderful memory of the months of discussion and planning, days of prep and baking, and one big day of selling.  Caroline and I have talked about what we've learned from the whole experience, the things that worked really well, the regrets, and what we'll do differently...  While Caroline is already thinking of next year's bake sale, I'm sitting back and relaxing, feeling absolutely grateful to be a mother and witness a child experience the wonderful world.  

 

{Our lessons learned will be shared tomorrow.  #1, don't make real truffles to sell in 90 degree weather.}

 

the sleepy time gal

 

 

spring nests

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I'm privileged to be a part of the oldest and largest women's organization in the world--the Relief Society--with over 6 million women in 170 countries.  We serve others, the community, get involved in humanitarian aid, learn to garden, budget, become stronger spiritually, and so on and so forth.  It is an incredible organization within my church.

In my congregation, my responsibility is to help plan events for our local Relief Society.  In March, we celebrate the birthday of the organization with a special celebration which always includes good food.  

Our planning committee came up with a beautiful theme for our celebration (It is this Thursday evening!) of "Birds of a Feather Flock Together".  Every part of the evening is in keeping with the theme, including the very pretty favor: the spring nests.  

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The Relief Society committee was in my home this Saturday morning to finish our planning and put these nests together.  They were so absolutely adorable I couldn't help but share them with you today--with plenty of time for you to try them out for any of your Easter celebrations.

Enjoy!

spring nests

Makes 10-15 nests per batch , depending on size of nests

 

nests:

3 TBSP butter

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

4 cups mini marshmallows

6 cups chow mein noodles

 

filling in nest:

1/2- 1 cup melted chocolate chips

coconut

green food coloring

candy eggs (Mini Cadbury Eggs or Whopper's Speckled Eggs)

 

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Think of the nests just like making rice crispy treats, just with chow mein noodles.

Heat the butter in a stockpot over medium heat.  Add marshmallows and peanut butter and stir until melted.  Add chow mein noodles and stir until they are coated.

Take off heat.

Take a handful of chow mein mixture and form into a nest.  Form it on a counter top so it will have a flat bottom.  With you hands, work the side of the mixture to create a nice rim to your nest.

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To fill nests:

Turn your coconut into green glass.   Toss some coconut into a ziplock bag with a few drops of green food coloring, seal and toss.  Voila!  Green Grass.

Spoon a little melted chocolate inside each nest to just cover the bottom so the coconut will stick.  Now sprinkle the chocolate with green coconut.

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Place a few candy eggs in each nest.  

IMG_4844 Aren't they so springy?

Amber, my friend who shared the recipe, makes these with her children every Easter.  It is their special project they do together this time of year.

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We made several batches and they came together quite easily.  They would be fun for families and beyond: events to raise money, to give to neighbors, or for other spring-time events.

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And they bag up pretty, too.

 

I'm definitely feeling excited for a very special, meaningful week with my family this week leading up to Easter Sunday.  Yesterday being Palm Sunday, I thought it the perfect time to teach my girls the meaning of the Easter Egg, the most beautiful symbol of new life.  

What a wonderful week it is to teach our children. 

the sleepy time gal

 

making a baby gift box

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It seems ironic that everyone I know of who is pregnant is expecting a girl.  And I'm not.

So the idea of creating a gift for a friend's baby girl is familiar and exciting to me.   Here is a special baby gift box that satisfies that mothering-a-baby-girl side of me...

Customize your baby gift box based on what you love to make.  Be creative!  Maybe you love sewing or knitting and would pack a few homemade bibs or booties.  Or maybe you love baking and organization and could give some dry muffin or cookie mix in ziplocks with recipes for the busy mom.  Use your talents to create a unique gift for baby or mama.  Those are the really special gifts that use your skills.

Here's what I put into this baby girl gift box:

making a baby gift box

 

Making baby gift boxes are so much fun because of the details.  I chose to use a lavender theme for the gift box.  I used pinking shear to cut a thin strip of lavender floral fabric to tie around the neck of the air freshener.  Then I cut a piece of purple wool felt into a circle, glued a piece of cardstock onto it with a few gray felt rain drops, and there-- a pretty graphic-labeled bottle that sets the theme for the box.

  • Something for mama-- my floral (and lavender!) homemade notecards I keep on hand.

 Notecards and their envelopes slide into a clear sleeve for writing thank you's when the time is right for the busy mom.

  •  A custom label/tag to identify each gift of the gift box.  I used a strip of the floral fabric laced through the top of the tag to incorporate the theme yet again.

  •  A reused gift box with shredded paper.  This is the exciting part--arranging all of the little gifts to your liking!

  • Secure the box with the same fabric, this time, tied in a large knot as the grand closure.  I threw a hydrangea in because I had one in a vase.  Beautify the box with whatever you have on hand.

I love giving these kind of gifts.  I love the process of making and putting it together as much as giving to a friend, knowing that time and thought was put into each part of it.

 

Here are other baby gifts I love giving:

How would you fill a baby gift box based on your talents/skills?  I'd love your hear your ideas based on your individuality! 

 the sleepy time gal

snippets

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{Four girls huddled together.  One puzzle.  Four snack bowls, laughs and trading of puzzle pieces that keep this mama happily tidying in the neighboring room.}

{Meyer lemons.  Did you know they are a cross between a lemon and a tangerine?  Enough of these were juiced for meyer lemon sorbet one day...}

{and meyer lemon shortbread another.  (These cookies are outstanding.)  I think the remaining three meyer lemons can just sit on the counter looking pretty.}

{Family secret pals. Each person draws a name and has all week to secretly serve and do kind things for that family member.

This was one of my favorites discovered in Daddy's office.}

{Painted jars.  A small project for the big girls' room using yet another mason jar.  More on that tomorrow...}

What snippets of bliss can be found in your home this morning??

the sleepy time gal

lessons in folding

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As I lay down on the bed one afternoon amid the unfolded laundry, my little Johanna came in. "Can I help?"

She made herself comfortable on the bed and began what seemed to me as a "clothes-folding reality show" where she described in fine detail what she was doing with each piece of clothing.  It was quite cute and amusing.  And just when I thought she had "helped" enough and was bored, she would turn and start a new pile.

This was a beautiful moment that went on and on and on.

I watched her over and over delicately fold and pile.  She, with no help from me, decided to pile the clothes by size.  If she had just finished folding a mommy shirt, she would look down at her pile, pick up the items that appeared smaller in size, place the mommy shirt down on the pile, and top with the remaining smaller clothing.  Her piles were absolutely perfect.

It was fascinating for me to watch her four year old mind work.  She freely moved, gaining greater confidence with each item she carefully placed.

I've had quite a few questions lately about why and how we homeschool from interested parents.  To you I would say for these exact moments.

I struggle with the word homeschooling because it connotes a transplanting of the public school--the pencil, paper, textbook, and desk--to the home .  We chose homeschooling because we wanted a different lifestyle.  I see glowing moments of our decision throughout our day.  The concept of learning is in everything my children touch.  We talk and read and get in the car and go places and explain and draw and write and observe.  There is a freedom my children have that allows learning to flow, with or without a book, in the real world.

It has taken some time (and stills does at times) to think outside of the public school mentality.  I see what I want my children to become well beyond academics.  The kind of citizens I want them to be, the kind of heart I want them to have, the kind of mothering skills I want them to love, and on and on the list goes.  The thirty minutes of a four year old folding was priceless.  I saw her focused attention on the task and her ability growing.  I saw her learning a new skill she is ready for.  I saw her radiate when Daddy was brought in to witness her beautiful handiwork.

Our days aren't perfect.  But we move and flow as a family, based on our different needs and desires.  I have come a long way from fearing being different in choosing homeschooling to feeling more solid in what is working for our particular family.  We change as we need it, adding structure at times or letting go of too much of it when we are overwhelmed.  The happy balance is always the goal and the peacefulness in our days is the biggest indicator of how well we've arrived.

And so our days go, carrying the trust and peace we feel inside as we move forward leading four little girls into the big, wonderful world.

the sleepy time gal

boldness

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Yesterday the big girls decided to do a little rearranging in the art room, to turn it into a "quiet room".  What mother wouldn't approve of a self-made quiet room?  As the evening rolled around, we found ourselves in the oddest of predicament.  A flash flood in the backyard that swept away the girls' play house and picnic table and me with another pregnancy migraine.

Honestly, the more women I talk to, the more I realize how valiant women are in the carrying of children.  Yes, I know it has been going on for centuries, but some women I know are sick the entire pregnancy, some get migraines all the time (thankfully not me), some risk their own health, and on and on the list goes of difficult ailments for so many women.  I feel the proudest of my own gender when I am pregnant myself.  I love wondering about my own great grandmother who had 10 children during the Great Depression.  Or many of my friends who have suffered from miscarriages and then, bravely trying again, prepare their hearts for what may lie ahead.  Such boldness in so many women I know.   Incredible boldness.

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So today, as I walk into my ultrasound appointment, I'll be sporting my dark sunglasses (for my migraine) and thinking of you bold women.  For all the random, meaningful, sometimes silly things we women do to get through a hard pregnancy...

I'll be back tomorrow with some news!