Just Once More…

In just 2 short weeks, this baby will be ONE and no longer a baby! Relishing these last ‘baby’ days as we head into a new stage of life.

this grateful mama

Just Once MoreI love being pregnant. Some people think that is weird, and I’m ok with it. I don’t love the nausea, aches and pains, or interrupted sleep, but there is just something incredibly special and sweet that words cannot quite describe.

At first, despite the sickness, I love the knowledge that a little someone is being knit together inside of me. There is simply nothing that compares to the truth that God, Himself, is creating and carefully making a person with their own unique features and personality. A miracle within. It is the knowledge that He chose me to be this child’s mom, my husband to be her dad, and that this baby is the perfect addition to our family.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full…

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What My Impatience Teaches Our Kids As I Rush Them Out The Door

This is a great reminder for this busy morning. Still learning to slow down and stop rushing.

this grateful mama

What My Impatience Teaches Our Kids As I Rush Them Out The Door | thisgratefulmama.com

This morning was busy. Although I got up early for a head start, we were still running behind, struggling to get out the door on time.  We made it to the car just in time, only to need to go back inside to change a surprise dirty diaper.

As we finally left the driveway, I was taking a deep breath to compose myself as our son vocalized what I was already saying in my head…Hurry mommy, we’re going to be late!

Then, he turned to his sister, “Baby, you maybe made us late”. Uh oh.

While I didn’t use the words ‘hurry up’, he picked up on my impatient rushing as I demanded they put on their shoes and coat now. Plus, I’ve told him ‘we’re going to be late’ or to ‘hurry up’ plenty of times. An ongoing pattern.

Sigh…while its one thing for him to tell me to hurry, I don’t…

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Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

A few weeks ago I shared the cake from our daughter’s Minnie Mouse 4th birthday party. Another day I’ll share the food.

Today is all about decorations.

When it comes to a kids party, my motto is ‘keep it simple‘ – it isn’t necessary to spend a lot of money or go all-out to please a 4-year-old. 

Most decorations for this party are homemade using paper. Many are printed at home and just taped up. They are inexpensive.  Most won’t take much time but will still have a big impact.

Paper decorations are more than enough to make our daughter feel special!

Art

For Disney-inspired decorations without breaking the bank, this free Waltograph font is a lifesaver. Once installed, it can be used in Microsoft Word – Disney decorations, literally, at your fingertips.

Our daughter loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. From watching it with the kids, I’m guessing you can also quickly rattle off these sayings:

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

Photo Birthday Banner

birthday photo banner is a personal touch with big sentimental impact. By far, this is my favorite decoration to make for bitthdays. I love spending time picking out each photo – one photo per month from the previous year.  It is pure joy to see our kids’ faces light up when they see it – they love feeling honored and celebrated.

Black and white photos were printed and intermixed with the message:

Happy Happy 4th Birthday Adelyn Joy

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

Minnie Mouse Chandelier

Now I want to share something SO fun. Have you seen this DIY faux-capiz chandelier made using wax paper? This Pinterest project is on my someday list. For some reason I haven’t found the free-time yet.

Who has this elusive ‘free-time’ anyway?

OK, so I did NOT make a wax paper chandelier for this party. But I did make a paper Minnie Mouse chandelier to hang over the table. Admittedly, it was kind of (ok, extremelyputzy cutting out Minnie Mouse ears and bows, but there was nothing difficult about it.

Trust me, with some time and patience, YOU can do it.

All it took was time, tape, cardstock, clear bead-thread and two steel rings (12″ and 6″) from Hobby Lobby. Just think – you could create a chandelier like this for ANY party theme – endless possibilities. 

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

Entryway Signs

Originally, I planned to put a ‘Come Inside, It’s Fun Inside‘ sign on the front door to welcome guests. But a Chalk Marker and poster-board sign can’t withstand a windy, rainy day, so it came inside.

In the entryway, a sign saying ‘Adelyn is 4‘ was created using a chalkboard banner, vinyl decal letters, and a cardboard cutout ‘4‘ decorated with crepe paper:

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

Balloons

What kid’s party is complete without balloons? The morning of the party, I asked my husband to go find and buy Minnie Mouse balloons.

That man, he’s a rockstar – he returned 20 minutes later with this bunch of balloons from Party City to an appreciative wife and a delighted 4 year old:

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

Happy birthday sunshine girl.

 

 

 

‘The Bunny’ Isn’t Going Anywhere…Ideas For A Christ-Centered Easter

'The Bunny' Isn't Going Anywhere...Ideas For A Christ-Centered Easter | thisgratefulmama.com

Originally posted April 4, 2015

Did anyone notice that the Easter candy arrived in stores at the same time as Valentine’s candy? I know we joke about Christmas in July, but I am not so sure how I feel about Easter in January, even though the hope and joy of a risen Jesus Christ is worth celebrating every day.

What I’m not so sure about is the drawn out bombardment of the Easter bunny, spreading his marketing agenda through children’s cartoons, billboards and aisle end caps – obviously targeting children, parent and grandparents.

Now, I’m no bunny-hater – I grew up celebrating Jesus’ resurrection at church, with a basket of Easter treats at home. ‘The bunny’ hid eggs and treats all over our house (because usually MN Easter is cold and snowy or very wet) and we enjoyed many challenging egg hunts as a family. We dyed eggs. I have fond memories of all aspects of Easter and the childhood wonder that goes with it.

What I struggle with is how to embrace both the bunny and Jesus with a consistent, Christ-centered message. I want Easter to be so much more meaningful to our children than a day celebrating a bunny, hopping from house to house, leaving candy. Until this year, we’ve kind of avoided the issue. Last year our son was 3 and participated in an egg hunt but there had been little talk about the actual bunny.

It has never been our intent to shelter our children from the bunny entirely. Plus, sheltering is not practical, and perhaps not possible. The Easter Bunny is a dug in, popular figure who isn’t going ANYWHERE – the way I see it, the bunny and I are going to have to find a way to co-exist, and I’d rather it benefit our children by pointing them towards Jesus. Easter means so much to me, I long for them to feel the same way – long after the childhood wonder of the bunny has worn off.

When our son learned about Easter at preschool, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Since the preschool is in a church, I was hoping what he learned would be in line with what our family believes. When I picked him up, he had decorated a cute little white bag with a face and ears like a bunny. He was excited to see what the Easter Bunny had left in the bag while they were outside playing.

Uh-oh. We haven’t talked about the Easter bunny yet.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the careful and intentional instruction of his preschool teachers. Inside the bag were 3 small (nut-free!) treats and one easter egg with a heart sticker on the outside.

That egg was empty.

I asked, why is the egg empty? Delighted, he told me what he had learned at school:

It’s empty because Jesus isn’t in there anymore! He’s alive! It has a heart on it because Jesus is in my heart” (let’s talk about how these words make MY heart leap for joy). Then, “Easter isn’t about candy or the Easter ‘rabbit’, Mom, it’s about Jesus“.

By his tone at the end, all that was missing was “Duh“. For now, I’m glad he doesn’t know that term yet.

While we have been talking about Jesus’ death and resurrection for weeks, this is the first time he seemed to be able to verbalize it.  I was amazed to hear him profess how the Easter bunny wasn’t at the heart of Easter. We’ll see how he feels on Sunday after he gets his basket, but for now, this is a good start.

Friday morning, he informed me that if we don’t have a bag or basket to leave out for the ‘rabbit’, he won’t come. He reasoned, “We need to get one. For baby (his sister), too”.  As in, right now. 

SO, off we went to Target so he could pick out two buckets with shovels to use as ‘baskets’ this year.

While I wasn’t sure how to embrace the Easter bunny, I see no harm in using ‘the bunny’ to educate our children about Jesus and the true meaning of Easter. This year, ‘The Easter Bunny’ is giving our son the book, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones in his Easter Basket. We will read the book together as a family devotional every evening after dinner.

Other book ideas for ‘the bunny’ to put in your little one’s Easter baskets include:

Given our son’s new-found understanding of the Easter bunny, I need to get my act together. I spent the past few days, searching for other, free ideas to incorporate into the next couple days, and to plan for in future years.

For a wealth of great Easter ideas, I recommend you pop on over to the Happy Home Fairy – the blog is filled with simple and great free printables and activities. While we won’t be doing all of these activities this year, I pinned a bunch of them on my Easter Pinterest board to use in the future. In particular, I liked:

Other options from other websites to use for Easter baskets or activities include:

What are your best go-to ways to discuss the ‘bunny’ and Jesus at your house?

He is Risen, Indeed! 

Happy Easter!

The One Whom Jesus Loved

cross

This year I’ve been studying the book of John with Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). Reading John’s account of Jesus’ life, one particular truth stands out.

John refers to himself as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved‘. (John 13:23, 19:26, 21:20)

The one Jesus loved.

Years ago, reading this for the first time, John seemed kind of arrogant to me. The ONE Jesus loved – who does he think he is?’

Was he saying he was MORE loved than the other disciples? That idea didn’t seem consistent with Jesus’ character in the rest of the Bible. Confusion fueled the desire to know more.

And you know what? As I’ve studied the Bible, learning about God’s character and attributes, I identify myself more and more as John did.

I can tell you with certainty, it is not arrogance.

John knew he wasn’t more loved than his peers. John was Jesus’ friend and eye-witness to His life. He walked alongside Jesus daily, watching Him love everyone He came into contact with.

Everyone.

No matter how sinful, no matter how much they loved or didn’t love Jesus back – Jesus loved ALL people.

Jesus’ love is SO important to John that he replaces his own name with Jesus’ love – John’s most important characteristic.

So often, I succumb to a wrong-view of myself. I focus on negative aspects of my personality, image or actions. When who I believe I am doesn’t match who God says I am, my day is robbed of joy. Then too easily, this wrong-thinking infects my actions, thoughts and relationships.

What we think about ourselves needs to be rooted in truth. Who better to tell us who we are than the one who created us in His own image?

How do you identify yourself?

Often, we identify ourselves by what we do – mom, dad, scientist, manager, teacher, student, child, sister, brother, volunteer…

What we do is important, but have you considered your more important, all-encompassing identity?

Not what you do, or who you do it with, but WHO you are.

Jesus Christ knows each of us, inside and out. There is nothing you can hide from Him and nothing He doesn’t know about you, good or bad.

We are fully seen.

Fully heard.

Fully known.

And fully LOVED.

Do you know this truth in your bones?

As celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus, will you take time to reflect on who HE says you are?

YOU are SO loved that He purposefully came to earth – fully God and fully man – to save you.

He lived a perfect life, demonstrating perfect love as He interacted with the people HE created.

He knew every sin of every person as He spoke truth in love. He lovingly healed their bodies and their souls.

He laid His life down on purpose.

Jesus is the perfect, unblemished Passover Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.

His perfect, sinless blood reconciles sinful, UNHOLY man with God.

We can be united with the holy God who cannot be in the presence of our sin. He is SO holy, He needs to be described by repeating holy 3 times.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.

Now united with Him through Jesus, what if we lived out our identity as John did?

Who are you?

The _________ whom Jesus loved.

You see?

The mama whom Jesus loved so much He died for her so she can spend eternity with Him.

The daughter whom Jesus loved so much He laid His life down so she can be forgiven.

The manager whom Jesus loved so much He purposefully died on a cross to bear her punishment.

The father whom Jesus loved so much He came to earth to reveal His perfect Father in heaven.

The blogger whom Jesus loved so much He chose to suffer so that she can share in His glory.

The one whom Jesus loved and longs to reveal Himself to – so you know you are fully seen, fully heard, fully known, and despite all your shortcomings, are fully loved.

Will you ask Him to help you believe it?

A Sweet Baby Girls Room

I’ve been wanting to share our baby girl’s bedroom since before she was born.

She’s 10 months old.

Procrastinate much?

I guess she’s still a baby…it still counts, right?

Decorating a baby girl room is so fun, but I also find it more challenging than a boy’s room. So much girl stuff seems overly gaudy – with more frills than this mama could handle.

I was shocked by how expensive baby bedding can be – so much money for such tiny things! Many sets come with accessories you don’t plan to use, and who wants to pay for that?

It took hours of searching online to find the Babyletto In Bloom bedding – sweet and girly, but not frilly. I love the combination of coral and navy. If you like it, shop around. It comes in different combinations of accessories, and is carried by quite a few stores. (I snagged mine for about half the price at Kohls using a 30% off coupon and a Kohls Birthday $10 off reward)

Crib and Artwork

Now for artwork.

ABC Photo1

First, we used the Etsy ABC digital artwork we already purchased for our other daughter’s Ballerina and Flamingo Bedroom.

 

 

 

 

 

All Gods Grace 2All God’s Grace Wooden Sign from Hobby Lobby when we found out we were pregnant (Always, always use a coupon or buy on sale at Hobby Lobby).

Every time I look at it, it makes me smile.

 

 

 

 

Ok. Enough money spent! Now for some free stuff.

You guys, there are SO many free printables online from amazing and talented bloggers, photographers and graphic designers.

Amazing stuff.

Just look at what I printed and framed at home!

You are Capable 1

This You are Capable of Amazing Things printable from BrePurposed is adorable and really compliments the In Bloom bedding. She has many more beautiful options to choose from.

 

 

 

 

 

Changing Table ArtYou can’t go wrong with the Psalm 4:7 and 1 Peter 1:6 printables from Danielle Burkleo.

So pretty!

I also love her Bless The LORD Oh My Soul printable and may still frame it to use somewhere else in the house. She has so many fun options, for boys, girls, or anywhere in your home.

 

 

Baby Bedroom2

We love how the bedding, decals and artwork look together, and Audra sure seems to like it.

baby girl

Minnie Mouse Birthday Cake

Minnie Mouse Cake

When my daughter told me she wanted a Princess Sofia birthday cake, I thought…uh oh. That sounds like a stretch. 

We’ve had trouble finding a nut-free bakery, so I have been making birthday cakes in recent years. So far, they’ve turned out fine, but Sophia is far beyond my limited skill set.

I was grateful a week later when she decided she wanted Minnie Mouse instead.

Minnie Mouse? Phew, I actually think I can do that.

My talented best friend made a Minnie Mouse cake last year for her daughter’s first birthday. She sent me pictures and it was so pretty! It was her cake-making skill and encouragement that gave me confidence to make this cake for our daughter’s Ballerina third birthday party. With a little practice under my belt, a Minnie Mouse cake seemed reasonable to attempt.

The process is pretty straight forward. Bake, freeze, assemble, and decorate. I carefully took a ton of photos while making it only to have my trusty camera memory card meet its untimely and frustrating death…along with those photos. Ugh. Such a bummer!  But, I think you’ll be able to figure it out from the description below and I’m happy to answer any questions.

The birthday girl couldn’t decide between Funfetti or Chocolate cake, so I made a two-layer cake. One layer Funfetti, one chocolate. I am so grateful to Rose Bakes for her Crusting Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe {Great for Decorating}. It is quick, easy to work with and tastes delicious.

You guys, you need to make this Buttercream. It’s fantastic.

One box of each cake mix was divided between one 10″ pan (head) and two 6″ pans (ears).  After cooling, each baked cake was wrapped in cling wrap and frozen overnight. Freezing makes them easy to handle. Cutting a semi-circle from each 6″ cake so they fit snugly against the 10″ cake was easy. The bottom layer was Funfetti, the top Chocolate.

A generous layer of frosting was used to secure the ears, head, and layers together. For a little extra flavor, Santa Cruz Seedless Red Raspberry Fruit Spread was added between layers with the frosting. Who would have thought a little jar from the jelly section of the grocery store could taste so decadent?

So far, so good.

Then I started to decorate the cake and things got a little messy. Literally, frosting was getting everywhere. The cake board is a mess (see those greasy spots?). Next time it will be covered while decorating since I’m apparently incapable of not making a mess.

That is when I began to panic. It had been a while since I piped frosting and I was quite rusty.

I decided this was going to be the ugliest cake attempt that ever was.

At that point, I may have asked, er…demanded that my husband remove the children from this house. He may be a saint because he patiently and kindly obliged, asking no questions and reassuring me it was going to look great as he swept them out the door. True story – he’s awesome.

20 minutes later in a silent house, I stood looking at a finished cake feeling foolish for freaking out.

My husband was right, the cake did turn out fine and was delicious.

In the coming weeks I’ll post the Minnie Mouse party decorations but in the meantime…

sunshine girl 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Sunshine Girl.