DIY: Winter Organization Project Sneak Peak

 

My husband and I went out and bought thirty 1×3″ common boards.

DIY Winter Project Sneak Peak | thisgratefulmama.com

Can you guess what we’re making?

Here’s a hint: We have one particular room in our house that makes us feel overwhelmed every time we set foot in it. This will be an organization solution for that room.

Guess away. I promise to give you the answer, but not today.

First, let me tell you what we learned about 1×3″ common boards.

First, there is no such thing as a straight common board. They are thin, and the wood is fairly soft. Naturally, they warp easily. Just when you find a straight board length-wise, you realize it is warped across the width.

Second, the boards are, well, common. They are full of knots, dings and unfinished edges. But you do get what you pay for – they are one of the most inexpensive options for a project like this.

Third, and possibly the most surprising, 1×3 common boards are actually NOT 1″ x 3″. They are actually 3/4″ x 2-1/2″ – I know, go figure. So, when you do a project, make sure you take into account the adjusted size or it may turn out just a little smaller than you planned! I’m grateful my husband knew all about it. I was looking at him like he was crazy when he told me, but turns out (as with many other things), he was right.

Picking out common boards is not a common job. We ran by the store on somewhat of a whim, unprepared for the task at hand. I mean, why wouldn’t it be quick and easy to go to the store with 3 kids under the age of 6 and leave with what we needed in a timely fashion?

Rookies. 

We spent a very long time pulling out almost every common board from the stack. We chose the ‘best of the worst’ boards. Since it took longer than expected, one of us examined boards while the other kept the little people from getting too rowdy – reminders to ‘be kind’, snacks, bathroom breaks, rattle shaking and rocking the baby.

And then there’s the cart problem. It’s kind of hard to buy large supplies when one cart is full of just children. We were a bit of a parade with our flatbed of supplies and cart loaded with children – apparently high ceilings mean outside voices. We may have drawn attention to ourselves and stuck out like sore thumbs. Maybe.

It wasn’t exactly the most relaxing trip to the hardware store I’ve ever taken.

But, I’m happy to report we did survive. Next time we’ll be a little more prepared and perhaps leave the little people at home. Here is the list of what we used, borrowed or bought for our project:

  • Supplies
    • Clamps
    • Belt Sander
    • Hand Planer
    • Palm Sander
    • Wood Glue
    • Miter Saw
    • Table Saw
    • Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner
    • Espresso Colored Wood Stain
    • Spar Urethane Sealer
    • 4×8′ Plywood
    • White Paint and Primer

look-what-weve-been-up-to

It might not look like much quite yet, but we’re having fun creating something for our family to enjoy. 

Can’t wait to share our progress soon.

 

 

Advertisements

To The Weary Mama of Sick Kids

Hello mama of sick kids.

I woke up this morning weary after getting very little sleep. Our 8 month old has an ear infection and pneumonia. After trying to rock, cradle, nurse and soothe her to sleep for hours, I gave up around midnight. In all honesty, I was getting frustrated with the situation, and with her.

I mean, just GO TO SLEEP already.

But being frustrated was not good for either of us. What she needed was her mama to help her feel better and just be there. I needed to stop trying to force sleep and just accept we were doing the best we could. So, we just got up. At midnight.

We came downstairs where she was happy to just crawl around on the floor. With her content, I did prayed and my bible study homework (although my answers sure needed some help in the morning – a little jumbled and scribbled with bleary eyes). She finally went to sleep after 3 am and slept for a couple of hours. Then she was up for 2 more and back down just when the big kids were getting up.

Some days, there just isn’t enough rest to go around. Are you in this place too?

You are not alone. I am walking through this season right along with you. Every time one child gets sick, it sets off a chain reaction and the others get sick too. One by one. Sometimes it is hard to tell when the first sickness ended and the next one began.

These winter months can feel incredibly long.

And isolating.

I am sorry you’ve had to cancel play dates, volunteering, your own doctor appointments and so much more. I know you were counting on these activities to break up your week. I know you needed a change of pace from just being at home with the kids all day, every day. Missing these activities leaves a void for your children and for you. It is hard when you have little adult interaction for days (or weeks).

I also know how cancelling over and over can make you – a responsible and good friend – feel flaky. Parenting little ones sometimes makes you feel like you have no control over your schedule – because the sickness and these little people control the schedule instead.

Although you may feel that way, as I’ve experienced in my own life, your friends and family DO understand. Many experienced the same with their kids and are happy to extend grace and encouragement to you. They also appreciate you not sharing your illness when you do show up. Be honest and just reach out when you can. Then, extend grace when this happens the other way around.

Because we’re all in this thing together.

This morning I was greeted by a now-healthy child who brought the plague home in the first place. He was ready for breakfast and all I could do was muster a smile and grunt as I rolled out of bed.

So. Very. Tired.

I sent him downstairs so I could take a few minutes to myself before jumping into the day. My main thought was sleep. In moments like this, I must confess I may be worshiping sleep – as if I will never, ever get any more again. I speak from experience when I say being mad about sleep is not helpful. With three kids, a nap for me will not happen. So I decided to just pray for help to survive the day.

But as I prayed, I gained some perspective and realized sleep will come, as it did with all other sicknesses, and with the other two babies. Then the following came to mind:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

~2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV

Today it will not be my power but God’s as He equips me to serve Him and my family well. For His power is perfect in my weakness. And it is certainly enough for my tiredness.

It is no coincidence that my daily devotion later this morning just ‘happened’ to be based on this same scripture. Apparently God really wanted me to hang onto this truth today. I’m so glad He did. It’s a lifeline I desperately need today (and every day).

Now I am passing it along to you.

What do you need an extra measure of today? (Besides the obvious need for sleep and healthy kids – lets just trust He will cover those in His perfect timing). Maybe you need more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control? I sure do. I believe He delights in being generous to us when we ask Him for more fruit of the Spirit.

Ask Him to shine through your tired eyes and work with those worn out arms and hands. And He will. Just surrender – you’re too tired to stifle His power, and that is to your benefit.

He is strong. He is capable. He is full of energy and joy when we feel depleted. And He has compassion on us and our children when we are struggling.

Tap into His strength and power today. He will carry all of you to easier, healthy days.

Hang in there mama, you’re not alone. These kids are worth it and you are exactly the mama they need today.

sick-baby

She may be sick, but she has amazing hair 🙂

To The Weary Mama Of Sick Kids | thisgratefulmama.com

Goodbye sickness, we’re over you. Go away.

To The Weary Mama Of Sick Kids | thisgratefulmama.com

 

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations

In October, our oldest turned 6. A sports fan fanatic at heart, it was not surprising he wanted a football-themed birthday party.

We were a little behind in planning his party, so we were grateful he picked a low-maintenance theme we could actually deliver.

Invitations

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com
Two weeks before the desired party date I scrambled to get invitations out and decided the fastest way was to just do email invitations. We live in a young neighborhood, so we invited his friends mainly from our street and their families. Email invitations were created quickly using PicMonkey.

Water Break Beverage Station

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com
The Water Break sign and footballs were made with construction paper and a white paint pen. Easy-peasy.

Football Themed Photo Birthday Banner

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com
My favorite part of any birthday at our house is making a photo birthday banner. This includes one photo from each month of the year. Picking the photos and putting this together is a sentimental joy.

Entry Way Sign and Banner

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com
Black poster board and that same white paint pen and a few more paper footballs were all it took to make the sign. This Chalkboard Pendant Garland was purchased at Hobby Lobby. It was a gift from my mom, who knows me well, and she joked, ‘just think of how much paper you’ll save’. Ahem, true story. She was right,I use it all the time.

Football Themed Silverware Holders

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com
The silverware were placed in glass cups covered with construction paper designs – football, playbook, football field and referee. You can make these using your children’s art supplies of paper, scissors and glue sticks :).  Gold napkins were used as ‘Penalty Flags’.

 

Goal Posts and Game

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com
We played a little game of Pin the Football on the Uprights. Blindfold, and use painters tape to ‘pin’ paper footballs on the wall. The winner is right in the center. We had a few right on the line, so we put those footballs in a bowl and drew the name that won the prize (a mini Nerf football). 

Balloons, Additional Decorations

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com
How can you have a birthday party without balloons? Our son’s favorite team is the Minnesota Vikings so these football balloons were a hit. For additional decorations, we printed the words, GO Vikings!, SKOL!, First Down! and Touchdown! on plain cardstock. Then we taped them over our existing framed pictures using painters tape. And finally, the table was covered with this plastic football field tablecloth from Party City.

Voila!

Most of the decorations were put up while our son was at school. When he came home, he was pretty excited (which is why the photo is blurry – he was literally jumping up and down).

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com
Happy Birthday little man.

 

 

 

Hello 2017. God is Good, All The Time.

Two weeks ago, if you asked me what I planned to write in the first blog post of 2017, this was not it. What I planned, was to summarize 2016 and about hopes, dreams and goals for 2017.

But that is not what I’m writing today.

No, I want to just talk about the past two, life-changing weeks. One week in 2016, one in 2017.

During the last week of 2016, my husband’s beloved grandma unexpectedly began her hospice journey following a heart attack. She later died on New Year’s Eve and began 2017  and the rest of eternity in the arms of her loving savior, Jesus Christ.

Another day I’d like to write a post honoring this special woman but I haven’t gathered my thoughts coherently to do so today. What I do want to say today is this – God was ever-present in her hospice room, cradling grandma in His good, sovereign hands. He was present in the condolences, encouragement, prayers and help of family and friends who supported our family. God was present and tangible as my mother-in-law and her sisters walked through the process of saying goodbye to their mom. Without question, they relied on God’s strength to support and love their parents well.

I saw God’s goodness in action as I watched my husband try to balance being a dad, husband, son, uncle, brother, nephew and grandson as he grieved and ran back and forth between the airport, home, and hospital. He was able to be present in each relationship and to rely on God’s strength to be ‘all things’ to each of us. I saw God as my husband grieved, loved and supported others while remaining steady, eyes fixed on Jesus.

Perhaps most remarkably, God was powerfully present in my husband’s grandpa who freely and deeply grieved as he said goodbye to his bride of 69 years. Despite deep pain and sadness, he was grateful and overjoyed by each visitor and family member who came to the hospital. He took time to pray for us as we dealt with a separate issue in the middle of his own grieving. He modeled beautifully what it looks like to truly walk with Jesus – to rely on His strength, to have deep-rooted joy in salvation, and to have a personal, real relationship with Him.

Watching faith of those in this family in a painful circumstance as they experienced the comfort and peace of Jesus personally testified to the compassion, faithfulness and goodness of the God we serve. And in my own life, I felt the prayers and support of many and His energy as I supported the family as best I could – in prayer, by taking care of our kids so my husband could be fully present for his family, and making our home available and comfortable to the influx of family from out-of-town.

One of the greatest joys of celebrating the life of a loved one is that family comes together, from all over. We had the joy of having our niece and her husband stay with us for almost a week, and our nephew, my sister and brother-in-law stay some as well. We spent New Year’s Eve playing games and enjoying quality time with family we would not have seen otherwise. The time spent with family during this process has been a priceless gift as relationships are deepened and strengthened in mourning together and in lifting each other up.

On New Year’s Day, the entire family went to accompany and support grandpa at his church. We saw his church family greet him, offering condolences and sharing in tears. The body of Christ is such a gift. As the service began, the family filled several rows in the front and began singing O Come All Ye Faithful.

As our 3-year-old daughter joined in and I listened to her and our family, worshiping in the midst of mourning, I couldn’t help but feel a surge of joy through sorrow. My eyes were glistening with tears as we sang, experiencing the welcome relief of worship and just being in the presence of God.

All Hail! Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning,
O Jesus! for evermore be Thy name adored.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Just as we were finishing the final verse, we heard a loud noise and turned. The beautiful moment of worship was cut short. The noise was a woman collapsing in one of the back rows. 911 was called and she later passed away in the church sanctuary.

We took our kids out to the lobby as many rushed to assist her. Members of our family responded and administered CPR until the EMTs arrived. The pastor who had loved our family well during the previous week began to comfort and support a member of his congregation as she passed away, and then her family as they arrived to begin their grieving. God’s love and strength were clearly lived out in the pastor, yet again.

While our children were too young to fully comprehend the situation in church, our nieces and nephews are older and did understand. I spent much of the day praying for them and all involved. The day was heavy. This seemed to just pile mourning upon mourning and I left feeling numb. After all our family had been through, this seemed like a kick in the teeth for all for this happen on the day after grandma died, in her church, and when we’d come together in worship, seeking the solace and comfort of God.

And yet, the unmistakable solace and comfort of God were there. God’s presence was unmistakable and thick. Literally, God and the comfort of being together as family was all we could cling to at this point. The church was singing, ‘O Come let us adore Him’ just before she passed away – I believe that as a follower of Jesus she woke in His presence where she will praise and adore Him forevermore.

We returned home and had a ‘normal’ relaxing day running errands, watching football and spending time together as family, while trying to process everything that had happened. The next day was Monday and the plan was to attend grandma’s visitation in the afternoon and have a big family pizza dinner at grandpa’s house before the funeral on Tuesday.

In the morning, I was on my way back from buying mixes to make brownies to serve at the funeral when I walked in the door to our son holding my cell phone.

Mom, your phone is ringing.’

It was my sister, I picked it up and prepared myself to catch up. Instead, what I heard stoppped me in my tracks.

‘Dad is having a heart attack. They are transporting him to St. Josephs now.’

All I could muster was to say that I was coming, NOW.

The next moments are a blur – yelling to my husband what was happening and running out the door. I left so fast, I left my husband behind with no car. He called me as I left our neighborhood, right about the moment when I realized I shouldn’t be driving myself. I turned around and he took over driving as I called and texted dear friends who began praying. SO MANY prayed. THANK YOU.

Because of the circumstances with grandma, our niece and her husband were at our house and stayed with our kids. We never have people at our house. And my husband isn’t usually home but since it was a holiday, he was. In fact, it was why my dad was with my mom when it happened, and why my each of my siblings were with their significant others and no one was alone. We were so blessed to know the kids were in such loving and capable hands.  God’s timing is always perfect. There is never a good time for a crisis, but He always provides.

My husband and I held hands and prayed in the car as I choked back tears of emotion I just couldn’t keep in.

I was scared.

But, oh, how we felt those prayers. Still scared, but trusting God would walk us all through whatever may come, we made our way to the hospital, joining my siblings and my mom. And, oh, how I saw the presence of God in my mom as she drove herself to the hospital and remained calm and focused on God as we waited.

Waiting is not fun. It was over 45 minutes before we heard anything from anyone about how my dad was doing. To make a long story short(er), my dad had a minor heart attack for an unknown reason. We praise the God who hears our prayers that my dad’s heart did not suffer damage and he is doing well.  Now we just need to move forward trusting the God who has already protected my dad to protect him going forward.

Assured he was stable and my sister and brother staying with my mom the next day, my husband and I went to the funeral for his grandma. A funeral for a believer in Christ is full of mourning and sorrow but also full of hope, celebration and joy of a life well-lived for Jesus. Family members participated by singing, reading and speaking of her impact on their lives and of her faith. It was one of the most beautiful and meaningful funerals I have attended and I left feeling sad and a deep sense of loss, but also filled with peace.

A friend who prayed for my dad volunteered to watch our kids. She showed up promptly at 8am and stayed not only during the funeral, but also all afternoon so my husband and I could return to the hospital. It was a long, but good day. This friend served our family and loved us well. We are so grateful and recognize the provision of God through her. We were able to be fully present for all in our family who needed us, we were able to grieve without being brave for our kids, and our kids were poured into by her.

My dad is home and recovering well. Grandma is being missed but in light of the truth that she lives in eternity. Our out-of-town family has returned home. I still cannot believe all that happened in just under 2 weeks. We are all trying to get some rest and I am spending today reflecting on what has transpired.

I pray the rest of this year is filled with life and is less eventful than it has begun. But, I can tell you with confidence that the past two weeks have deepened my faith, my trust and my reliance on God. He showed up in mighty ways and these are just the tip of those ways that I could put into words. In truth, it’s all much deeper than all this.

I’ll leave you with this – God is good, all the time.

God Is Good All The Time | Thisgratefulmama.com