Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday Favorites!

Hi friends! Happy Friday!
We've been on Spring Break this week, but don't get too jealous because A. we didn't go anywhere tropical and fun; and B. it has been a cool, dreary kind of week. I guess you can't win 'em all, ha ha! Regardless, we've made the most of it and have had a great time doing little things that we don't normally do. For whatever reason I'm not a huge fan of the term "staycation," but yes, I suppose you could say that we have staycationed our hearts out this week. :) Moms, you know the real celebration is not packing up a gazillion lunches every morning, right?

One day was gorgeous, and we did all the outside things that day!

This picture makes me smile because she loves riding in Grampy's (my Dad) big truck, and Bill got her this cap with a gift card last weekend and I don't think she's really taken it off yet, ha ha
Coincidentally, I got that shirt for her last year to wear to school the day this little guy was born...
Time, you thief

Yesterday morning, our two oldest boys left for our cabin in Maine with my Dad, so it's just three kiddos here at home. Feels weird. You'd think I'd get used to it, but nope. Never do. What will I do next year for college? Um, let's not think about that just yet... Anyhoo. Bill took today off from work and we're surprising everyone with breakfast out and maybe? (hopefully!) a fun little day trip. I LOVE days like this!

I'm so excited to see the color green and flowers again! Isabelle helped me plant some pansies outside, and that burst of color just makes my heart so happy. We've also got crocuses, tulips, and some other shoots of something that I just can't remember what they are coming up, too. ;) 

His first time wearing big boy two-piece jammies last night! I die of cuteness!

Lastly, I know some of you have found my shop, Rose & Ruffle, by visiting this blog, and this has been a very busy and productive time of year, and I'm so incredibly thankful. When I started out a few years ago as a way to raise adoption funds, I didn't know what the future would hold. We never imagined that our one, then two, then more than four year wait trying to adopt again was going to be our reality. It was a very difficult time. Lots of uncertain days, lots of grieving days. Living in a constant state of limbo and expectation/hope can certainly be challenging, so at the end of four+ years, and pretty soon after our heartbreaking final failed match, we took a break in order to pray, heal, and regroup. When we resumed our adoption journey, we had a new hope and a new plan. We would be adopting a special needs toddler or child from China. There were some other private, gut-wrenching things going on behind the scenes, but I don't feel called to share those just yet, sorry.
And then the ultrasound that changed our lives forever. God's mercy and love and hope and faithfulness all wrapped into our little Levi Matthew. Our plans for China were put on hold, and now we no longer feel led to pursue that adoption. I have peace about it. But my husband and I both feel that God is leading us to something, and we aren't sure what it is yet. All this to say, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, a thousand times over, for supporting our family through my little shop. No, we didn't complete any adoption, but every single effort and move forward was done at a cost, sometimes minimal, and sometimes not minimal at all. And then last year and this year with all the unexpected house issues, car issues, accidents... yes, of course I know that's life, but it has been a hard season for us. That's humbling, actually, to say, and I know we are truly blessed, but being able to contribute financially has been invaluable, so thank you. I'm not sure why I suddenly needed to share all that, but I guess it's been on my heart for a while now. Whew! And my husband is right- I like words. :)

I'm linking up with these ladies today!
Have a fantastic weekend!
 Andrea, Narci and Erika


Thursday, April 27, 2017

How to Make a Mini Birthday Crown

We celebrated a first birthday here not too long ago, and it was just the BEST day.
I wrote a detailed post about it here if you'd like to read more. 
The party was mostly a giant DIY effort, and I love how everything turned out, especially this little birthday crown. So I thought I'd share the instructions for how to make one of your own.

I should mention that for me, personally, this crown is more like a cute prop and was not intended to be saved along with other cherished baby things. I just wanted some nice pictures of our little birthday boy wearing a little crown, that's all. I'll probably be throwing it out in the near future, actually. If you're interested in more of an heirloom crown, I'd check out the links at the bottom of the post for sure.

 The crown made a great photo prop, too.

Okay, first things first.
I found everything I needed at WalMart, though I'm sure any craft store would also have what you need. Here is a list of materials:

2 remnants of same color felt, approx 12 inches by 5 inches (I bought 2 felt square sheets sold in the craft dept)
1 sheet sparkly foam, main color
1 sheet sparkly foam, contrasting color
3/4 - 1" wide non-wired ribbon (I used satin), approx 12 inches long
sparkly ribbon, approx 12 inches long
1/4 inch elastic, approx 10 inches 
empty cardboard spool of Offray or similar ribbon 
tacky glue or hot glue
Here is a basic template you can follow. Cut ONE piece of felt to match this, or whatever style you prefer, and save the second piece of felt for the next step. Please note that if you're using a different cardboard spool, then you will need to adjust the length of the crown piece accordingly.

Here is a BIG TIP for you: Place the cut out crown piece on top of the un-cut piece of felt, pinning together if necessary, and sew along the the peaks. I used a bigger stitch length since I wanted it to look neat and almost like an embellishment, and I stitched fairly close to the edge. Then cut close to the stitching. So easy and it looks fabulous.

I don't have a picture to share of this part, sorry.

In the photo below, you can see the stitches along the peaks, although it is already sewn up the back. Just pretend it looks like the template drawing. Leave the bottom area open for now.
After you've sewn the two pieces of felt together, simply cut along the edges, and voila! This is SO much easier than trying to stitch together those two pieces with the peaks and points already cut. And yes, in case you're wondering, I do my very best work in pajamas and my fluffy pink robe. :)

You can also make whichever number you need. One of the sparkly sheets had a sticky layer after peeling away the paper, and for the other piece I used tacky glue.
I ended up chopping off the lower part later on because it wouldn't all fit on the crown. Oops.

Next, trace two circles on felt using the spool as a guide, then cut. Glue one piece on each side. I tried using a glue stick but it wouldn't hold the felt in place. I used tacky glue and that worked great.
NOTE: To make a smaller crown, cut edges of the spool off. I kind of wish I had done this. Next time. Remember to adjust your crown piece if you do.

The edges are a bit longer in the template so you can sew them together. First, simply sew the end pieces Right Sides Together. Next, turn the crown inside out and stitch down each side of the center seam. It keeps the edges out of the way and looks great on the outside a well. It gives the look of a Flat Felled Seam, a nice, polished seam.

Make sure the edges of the seam are open and flat on the inside when stitching the lines on the outside.

Here is the inside after stitching the lines. Now trim the excess, cutting close to the stitches.

Now you're ready to add the elastic. I used a piece about 10 inches long, but you might need more or less depending on what feels right for your little one's head. I'd imagine you'd need a little more if you're making the crown for a toddler or an older child. Maybe? Do head sizes change that much?

Regardless, mark the center of each side of the crown and insert the elastic in between the two layers at the bottom. No photo of this either, sorry. I recommend stitching the elastic in place rather than just relying on glue. You can do this with the machine or by hand. I ran each side through the machine, going forwards and backwards a couple times to tack it in place securely. I figured he'd tug at it (a lot) so it needed to be really secure.

Lastly, carefully insert the covered spool inside the crown until the edges meet.

I just wrote- and deleted- an entire paragraph dedicated to explaining gluing, tucking under ends of ribbon, and matching seams, etc. when I just looked at the crown and saw that I did none of those things. HA! I overlapped some of the ribbon and just glued it down flat and with a "raw" edge. Nothing fell apart or frayed, so it's all good. 

And there you have it. An inexpensive, adorable DIY mini birthday crown for your special little someone.

And because a crown is really only as cute as the little birthday boy wearing it, here's one more photo...  ;)

Oops, I lied. One last last photo.

I feel I should mention that the inspiration for this birthday crown is from HERE and  HERE, and they are affordable and adorable if you don't feel up to trying to make your own. Not an ad, I just like supporting fellow artisans. :)

That's it! Let me know if you make one so I can see your pictures!

Sharing this tutorial here 
and here

Friday, April 21, 2017

Busy Weeks

We have had a couple of busy weeks in between parties, sports and school things. Plus just regular ol' life. Tomorrow is Friday- hooray!- and it's the last day of school for us for the next week. Double hooray!

I don't write much about my older sons anymore because I feel it's important for me to respect their privacy. That said, I'm still their Mom, and I'm really proud of them, so this, I'm sharing. =)  

Last week, Ethan was inducted into the National Honor Society. Even though it was about a hundred years ago that I was inducted, the ceremony felt exactly the same and it all came rushing back to me as the four candles were lit, ha ha.
 And today I made arrangements for our very first college campus tours and information sessions. It was slightly nerve-wracking/overwhelming, but mostly good, a little exciting even. BU and Northeastern, we're coming for you! I like the idea of him being in Boston- it's such a fun place to visit but not TOO far away, ha!

 I can't tell you what a joy it has been raising this young man. He is such a gift. 
It's funny, I don't really find myself wishing he were younger because I'm so excited to watch him embark on his own adventures, and I know I'll always be a part of that. So if you're lamenting the growing up process, take heart and know there is still so very much to look forward to. 
I would also encourage you to make the most of your time. Be deliberate and intentional, and have FUN together!
Because in some ways it feels like we were just starting out here with him.
It all goes by so incredibly quickly.
 Thank goodness for the railing in the auditorium because that thing kept our little wild one quite entertained. My apologies to the individual who got the cracker thrown at them, though. Oops.

 I also had to ask a friend to take pictures of Ethan up front on stage because we had to bring Levi home. The ceremony was taking forever and a day, and there were still two full rows to get through before Ethan would be up. One of the downfalls of being near the end of the alphabet, I guess.
So yes, we didn't even get to see him or hear his friend introduce him into the society. Bill had already brought Levi home, and I stayed as long as I could, but Bill's texts were coming in fast saying that the baby was crying, screaming, getting inconsolable, come home now... you get the gist. I was disappointed, but what can you do?

On Tuesday night, Isabelle had her big fourth grade play/musical. It was an overview of the different people and settlers of New Hampshire throughout history. The kids wrote the story line themselves and it was so entertaining and clever. I was impressed!
Isabelle had a speaking part and played in the recorder trio for a couple of songs. She did such a good job!
 I wish I'd gotten a close up of her in full costume but I didn't get the chance. Once again, we had to leave early for wild one. I was relieved that all of her performances were in the first half. Phew!
 I'm going to mention here one thing I have noticed, and it bothers me. I'm not yet sure how I'm going to handle it or address it in the future, mainly because Isabelle's teachers are wonderful, wonderful people, and I know they would not intentionally do anything to harm her self-esteem. But I think this issue does need to be addressed in a kind and thoughtful manner.
Since preschool, if there is a non-caucasion role to be had, Isabelle gets assigned to it. I have noticed this with her other darker-skinned friends as well. But yet, several blonde-haired boys and girls, and other fair-skinned children, were also playing the parts of Native Americans, so there is no typecasting going on there. I want my daughter to know that she can be a pilgrim or a queen or any of the other roles being offered to play, because that's the whole nature of play- to dream and pretend and imagine.  
Another thing I'll add is this: I don't believe we should try to pretend that there are no differences among us. This is something I've given a great deal of thought to over the years as I watch Isabelle interact with the world, and the world with her. I understand the reasoning behind some of the arguments to be color-blind or to try to see everyone as the same, but it won't- and shouldn't- work. Color and individuality and uniqueness are what make this world such a beautiful and vibrant place. 

Okay, I didn't plan on writing all that, but as I said, it has been bothering me for some time now. Anyhoo.
 It was SUCH a great play but it got a little loud, and someone got a little nervous.

That someone is currently upstairs screaming his head off and refusing to go to sleep. The one thing we could count on was for him to drift off to sleep peacefully, before waking up seven hundred times each night. But this week he started fighting going to bed, and it has been BRUTAL. We've both been up a handful of times to try and settle him, but as soon as we leave the room, BAM. Scream city. I bet you're jealous, aren't you? :/

Our mornings have been filled with sunshine and birdsong, and that is making this girl one happy camper. It was an incredibly long winter. After the big kids are off to school, it's just Levi and me, and we sing and dance and play and read books. Our mornings are pretty laid back, which I love. 
 Now that he's mobile, he is quite the house-wrecker, ha ha.
 Our busy boy :)

His little foot in this picture kills me
 And seeing him in little soccer shorties pajamas... can't even handle it!
That pile of clothes on the right are good finds for next fall and winter, so naturally, I started going through his newborn and teeny tiny baby clothes to give away or sell. Big mistake. I was a wreck. I'm ready, but I'm not ready, ya know? One gearing up for college and another who just turned one - my Mama heart just can't take it!!!

I got to meet up with a friend this week and we walked all over town with our little guys. They were so good, and we had the best time, but I didn't get even one picture! It's like it didn't even happen if there's no photo to document it, right? ha ha
This one is actually from the night before his big birthday, but I think it shows that twinkle in his eye and that mischievous grin of his. He has been SO funny lately. He's taken to bobbing back and forth when you're holding him, like dancing, and he KNOWS it gets such a reaction, so then he does it even more. It is just about the cutest thing I have ever seen. He still smooches me all day long, but he has started leaning his forehead in to the boys when they're holding him, so their foreheads are touching, and he just stays like that. It's so cute! He's usually babbling a mile a minute too, and his voice is the sweetest. I can't wait to hear him really say words.


Well, now it's Friday morning. We never recovered from last night's screaming, and I ended up in bed by 8:15, fighting off a migraine and chills, while Bill rocked and walked Levi for a long while. I did sleep for a few hours so I feel better, thankfully. But it was another looooong night. And we had been doing so much better earlier this week! Argh.

It's pouring rain out, so I'm thinking we're going to have a nice, peaceful day inside. I am so close to getting the last of the doors painted, but I haven't touched them since before Levi's party and I want them finished already. Perhaps today is the day. I'll have to share some After pics of our dining room and family room, too- it has made such a difference and I like the space so much better now. 

Hope you have a really great weekend!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Weekend 2017...and Levi's Last First

I think I've mentioned this before, but I was incredibly happy that we still had one last "first" to celebrate with Levi, even after his first birthday: Easter.
It was such a wonderful weekend! The weather was spectacularly beautiful, for one. I don't remember very many Easter weekends spent in shorts, or wearing a dress to church without having to layer on a sweater or jacket, but it was just gorgeous all weekend long!

I saw an image somewhere a year or so ago of a baby in bunny ears, sitting facing the rising or setting sun, and it was the cutest thing I'd ever seen. So of course I've had it in my mind to try and recreate it with my own cute bunny. Well, not so much. I am having the hardest time with my settings lately, and there is so much blur. Drives me insane! But also, Levi is on the go and rarely sits still, so I know that has something to do with it as well.
Either way, here is my sweet little bunny baby.

Yeah, those ears lasted all of .4 seconds :)

There is so much I love about this particular image, I can't even.
Wisps, sunlit ear, rolls, his little man "hunch"- in love with every single detail.

Saturday night was almost as bad a night as we've ever had. Yes, I do feel like I say that a lot. But bad is bad, I guess. I think I got maybe two hours of sleep? And I had forgotten to take out all the basket stuff from my closet and there was NO way I was sneaking around in there in the dark in the morning. I was thinking up clever bunny excuses for why the baskets were all empty on the table at one point. But it all worked out, like it always does.
These were probably the leanest baskets I've ever had, but everything is so expensive lately, and if you've been reading for long, you know our money trees got whacked last month, ha ha.

Oops, two more...a little blurry but his face is so sweet.
 And this one captures his curious look- note the hand in mid Easter grass retrieval :)
FYI, there were nearly three China casualties and a few taper candle mishaps during the making of this little photo session. This boy is quick!

On Friday, I got everyone out of school early and we got some shakes and ice cream cones and played at the park. It was the most beautiful day!

Saturday morning was low-key and kind of slow, which was a nice change of pace. I even ended up home alone for an hour or so, and I won't lie, it was really (really!) nice. :)
I may have had to run into town for a half yard of fabric for Isabelle's dress, oops. Nothing like saving it till the last minute, but it did go together well.
Saturday afternoon was time for making messes. Ugh.Truth be told, coloring eggs is one of my least favorite things to do. But everyone wanted to, so what's a Mom to do?
My parents came over and I let them loose. This one got so unbearably fussy. I think he caught on to the fact that while I gave him a brush and some water, clearly he was missing out on the good stuff.

 Mid squawk - he gets so, so loud when he gets going. Sometimes I wonder what the neighbors think is going on!

They look pretty at least. And I remembered to put them in the fridge before morning, so there's that.
The colors did come out really well. Isabelle wanted to add stickers, and of course they get all lumpy and never stick right. I tried something new with foil and glitter this year, too, but it was a total fail. The whole thing! So we stuck with the basics.

One of the twig crosses that Ethan made me several years ago and some decorations from Levi's baby shower, which I knew would work well for future Easters. I still haven't shared the "After" pictures of all our painting- the color is so calming and pretty, and looks good with everything.

Easter lilies remind me of my grandmothers. My Dad delivered an Easter lily to their house every year growing up, and I'm not sure I realized how special that was until fairly recently.

And here they come. Happy Easter morning! He is risen!

 These two. All the heart eyes.

This year, Isabelle and I went on a special date to choose her fabric and pattern. Normally I just pick it all out myself. She is growing up so fast! I look at this picture and my heart swells because I feel like she was JUST my baby girl and now she is becoming a beautiful young lady.

Poor Bill was really sick on Easter Sunday and didn't come with us to church or to visit family afterwards, either. That was no fun. :(  When you feel yourself coming down with something but also aren't able to get quality sleep, well, it's all kind of miserable. It won't last forever, though.

I think this just might be my new favorite photo!

 Or this one!

Levi got restless, and because his nose is still a bit runny, I wasn't going to bring him to the nursery. Not like he'd let me leave him there anyway, but... Ethan held him and he nearly fell asleep he was so comfortable. Then he got a second wind and thoroughly entertained himself by feeding Ethan crackers...that had already been in his own mouth. YUCK! But Ethan let him do it. Such a good big brother. Levi would reach right up and shove a fistful into his mouth, ha ha.

One more of my two littlest loves. I don't know why, but Isabelle just looks way too grown up in all these pictures. I didn't notice so much during the day, but I see it now.

We had lunch with my parents and then we headed over to my in-laws to visit with them. Such a great day!

While baskets and pretty dresses and adorable bunny baby photos, and even nice weather, are all wonderful things, they are not what matters most at Easter time. Jesus matters most, and the sacrifice He made for ME and for YOU. I used to think that I had to be perfect, or at least strive to be perfect, in order for God to love me, but the truth is, all He ever wanted was for me to love Him. That's it. That's IT. He just wants us to love Him because He loves us so much. It's the simplest yet most profound thought I'll ever know.

I hope you had a beautiful and meaningful Easter weekend as well. :)
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