Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ultimate Blog Party Post

Ultimate Blog Party 2011


Hello party-goers! Welcome to my little space on the web. My name is Erin and this has been my first year blogging. I'm a stay-at-home mom to 3 little munchkins, a life long New Englander, a homeschooler, a Catholic, a singer, an "arts and crafster" (who makes up her owns words!) and caffeine addict. I started this blog to share bits and pieces of our homeschool adventures, write about my faith, share craft ideas, recipes and pretty much anything else that pops into my head. If you're curious to learn a little bit more about me just click the link. And you can find out a bit more about my family here.

my 3 kiddos: Luke (5 ), Adam (3) and Megan (18mos.)


me and my hubby Kevin



My blog is sometimes light and goofy, sometimes serious and contemplative...just like me. :) I've never "blog partied" and am new to twitter as well, so I am feeling like a stranger in a foreign land! But it's all good fun and I look forward to meeting new friends. Thanks for stopping by and thanks to 5 minutes for mom for hosting this party!



If you'd like to check out my Facebook page you can find me at: Wee Little Miracles

I'm on twitter at: weelittlemiracl


Looking forward to "meeting" you and God bless!

This Old Kitchen Table



Memories flood in as I wash the old kitchen table. This mindless chore, repeated over and over each day. Wiping away the residue of daily living, its surface made shiny and clean--ready for the next set of table memories to occur. Oh, the stories this table could tell. Truly this piece of furniture is the heart of our home. Meals consumed, bursts of creative energy actualized, tears shed, moments of joy and sorrow melding together again and again in this one single place. Alter of family comings and goings, the days pass as this sturdy surface lends itself to us time and time again.




Just married in our first apartment



It's a small table. The five of us crowd around it, forced to connection by the limitations of its size. This table has born witness to many seasons: Giddy newlywed couple, unsure of what the future would bring, navigating the unknown together side by side. First pregnancy; belly swollen with new life that would change our roles forever. New house; symbol of family permanence. Job disappointments and triumphs. Rejoicing for lives beginning and mourning lives ended. New Years celebrations, Christmas breakfasts and Easter baskets brimming over. Tears, joy, hopes, frustrations...and everything in between.




We cook and create on its wooden surface, sturdy yet marked by the activities of our lives. It's usually cluttered-- toys littered about, activities left unfinished; evidence of the multitude of purposes it serves.





The chairs have come and gone, but still the table remains. We sand its surface, scrubbing and staining to make new again. Restoring to its purpose of giving once more.


This table, heart of our home.



Where is the "heart" of your home--the place where you regularly gather and make memories?









Raising Homemakers


Monday, March 28, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (part 7)

Inspired by Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts, I've been making my own list of everyday gifts. God gifts. Starting at one and continuing to 1,000 here is my journey of gratitude. This week we have all been sick, which has forced us to slow down. Illness takes us outside of our normal routines which give us new eyes, so long as we keep them open. He is always blessing us with good gifts, even in challenging times. And so I continue to name His good gifts, thankful for His endless blessings:



49. warm and cozy bed with good book


50. Northern Flicker at my bird feeder


51. Sick brothers snuggled on couch



52. Corny 5-year old puns


53. Son's Easter Egg drawing



54. freshly baked chocolate chip cookies



55. tote bag stuffed with new library books



56. cheery sunlight melting Spring snow


57. chocolaty daughter cheeks




58. toddler tickles-delicious peals of laughter


59. cold virus that forces us all to slow down


60. daughter smiling my smile; my mom's smile. 3 generations of same smile


61. Hair bow securing cornsilk toddler wisps



62. Goldfinch with cheery yellow Spring feathers


63. Chubby toddler fingers doing puzzle



...more to come







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Friday, March 25, 2011

A Lenten Reflection


" What holds a life together is simply the truth, faith that the eyes and the heart are turned towards truth, and that God accepts such a life without condition, looking on the will rather than merely the deed. God asks not for heroes but for lovers; not moral athletes but men and women aware of their need for acceptance, ready to find their selfhood in the longing for communion with an eternal "other."

--Rowan Williams



Something to think about this Lent, as we strive to improve and free ourselves from the chains of sin. It's comforting to focus on truth-seeking and communion with God over that of "moral achievement."



Waking Up


Joining The Gypsy Mama today for another Five Minute Friday. Five Minute Friday is where we write whatever comes to us for five minutes only on a given topic, no edits. We "set our words free." It's so much fun-feel free to join in! The topic this week is "Waking Up." Here we go:




Start.


Waking up from spiritual slumber. Coming alive with a greater joy than I've ever before experienced. Rubbing my groggy eyes awake. Awakened to see the light of God--light brighter than the sun. Shaking off the restless night of spiritual apathy, hedonism that gives only transient comfort. Temporary. Temporal. Fleeting. Left empty. Left wanting.

Waking up to the light of a new day, a new life with Christ. Waking up to a life that's real--a life of service, sacrifice, thanksgiving and grace. Being made clean, nightmare of zombie-like sleepwalking transformed.

Being awake.

Loving life. Serving Others.

No greater joy than this.


Stop.



Happy Friday everyone!



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Get Real

We live in a unique time in society. A time that provides us with new opportunities. With technological advancements like social networking sites and lightning fast digital devices we can communicate faster, more clearly and more efficiently. We are presented with the opportunity to express ourselves in creative ways. The challenge that comes along with these advancements is how to manage them with integrity. I believe most of these technological advances to be good so long as we use our heads about their application to our lives. But with all of this technological gain I sometimes I worry what we might be losing. For as we grow smarter, bigger and faster I fear we're losing a bit of something. A bit of... reality.



Take photo editing for example. As we're able to enhance our digital images with fancy effects, color filters and flowery frames, might we also be losing a bit of natural beauty? Beauty that our Creator made? All of this pondering in my head was recently prompted by a website called Picnik. It's a photo editing website, perhaps you've heard of it. And don't get me wrong-I love me some special photo effects on occasion. The funky color filters, vintage effects and other goodies have a way of making photos quite poignant and evocative. But I think we need to be vigilant about just what it is we're trying to achieve when editing. Are we trying to showcase the natural beauty we've already captured or instead, trying to create something else entirely--something false? For along with the neat effects are some features that I question. Tooth whitening. Thinning. Wrinkle Remover. Hair Highlighting. To what aim do these photo effects exist? I don't quite know the answer, but I certainly am left with some unsettling questions.


I'm not here to judge or criticize. That is not my purpose at all in writing this. I am not God and I certainly don't have all the answers regarding how we are to navigate our way through new technology. But I just wanted to encourage you to think critically about the messages your images can send. I encourage you to pray about what is right for you. Because, while it might seem inconsequential for one to blur away the odd wrinkle and brighten those coffee-stained teeth, I think there is real potential for harm when we begin to edit away what is real. I fear we're crossing a line once we begin to snip a bit of this and trim away a bit of that to look "just right." It's as if we're giving ourselves virtual plastic surgery--making ourselves the way WE want to appear rather than the way God made us to be. While perhaps we can make ourselves look great...is it even us anymore? And what is so bad about a few crows feet and a thicker jawline that we must crop and hide and digitize it all away? And who are we trying to impress?


If we truly believe that we are precious in His sight just as we are, then what are we saying to our Creator when we undo how He has made us? It's as if we're saying, "You made me this way, but no thanks. I'm just going to go ahead and chase my own mirage instead." And that can cross into some dangerous territory. In a slippery slope of perfection-seeking we are reinforcing society's notion that we must look perfectly symmetrical, perfectly thin, perfectly sexy, perfectly...artificial.



For arguments sake, I edited 2 pictures of my daughter using Picnik and Photoshop. I chose her image for 2 reasons . First, I wanted to illustrate natural beauty and what better subject than a child? And second, I wanted to show that we have in our grasp the ability to send very powerful messages to our children as their parents and role models. I originally intended to post both pictures to illustrate my point of real vs. artificial beauty. But an interesting thing happened as I began to edit Megan. It felt just so plain wrong. So wrong in fact, that I don't even want to put that fake picture of Megan up here. So instead I just threw the whole thing away. I was actually surprised by how badly I felt, considering I was only doing it in the first place so I could use the picture for this post. And then it hit me: I think we all on some level recognize the need to preserve natural beauty in children. But why do we have no qualms about editing adults in order to make them fit the mold of artificial perfection? What happens in the process of becoming adults where we no longer feel the need to defend and preserve our natural beauty and celebrate our flaws? Can we fight to reclaim that lost innocence?


And then I started thinking about family photos in other ways. I started thinking about all of the "duds" we take, while trying to get that "perfect" shot. You know what I mean--the ones where people aren't looking at the camera, someone is blinking, the kids are running away. But what a story those duds tell! They are SO real! They make me smile. They are real family moments-frowns, pouts, wriggles, squiggles, scrunchy faces, squints and all. What beauty is there. And so I want to share some of our family's "duds" we've collected over the years:

I remember this hot sunny windy day at the beach last summer. The sand was blowing in our faces and Megan was writhing in my arms. How wonderfully real!



If this picture had been more "perfect" then it wouldn't have captured Adam's *most awesome* Elvis sneer! I LOVE that face!



This is just a random candid that at first glance is nothing special. The boys are hot, sweaty and tired. Luke has bags under his eyes large enough to fit a cart's worth of groceries. I'm not even looking at the camera. My sister's face is cut in half lol! But this moment was priceless. My sister had just given birth to twins. I was visiting my first-ever niece and God-daughter. The boys had just gotten brand-new cousins! Two new lives to celebrate!



This picture cracks me up because no one is even looking near the direction of the camera! But doesn't it just make you wonder what it is they're looking at? A bird perhaps? A scampering squirrel? A babbling brook? I don't know, but in its own unique REAL way it's capturing a precious moment between father and sons.



What can I even say about this one?! I mean, Megan is about to sneeze, someone's foot is in the shot, its all safety gates, littered toys and closed eyes! But its real!



What I love about this one is Adam's big brother pride shining through along with the "Uh-oh someone go rescue Megan--QUICK!" moment. Such a hilarious shot!



And this one just takes the cake for me. Luke wanted my glass in a big bad way, the sun was in my face, the wind was whipping sand everywhere, but I just love it. Look at that adorably chubby baby arm. And those gorgeous waves crashing in the background. It's awesome in its imperfectly real way.



So anyway, I just wanted to provide a few examples of how beautiful life can be unedited. Real moments just as God created them. Together let's celebrate the imperfect, the messy, the smudged, the flawed, the crooked. They're you, they're me, they're all of us on this beautifully flawed planet of unique individuals. Let's preserve our individuality. Let's rejoice in it. Let's get real.





A-Wise-Woman-Builds-Her-Home

Extreme Makeover: Invisible Ink Edition


If your kids are anything like mine, you're likely to have quite a few invisible ink pens laying around your house. Often times the activity books from whence they came are long gone, yet by some inexplicable mommy frugality impulse, you've hung on to the pens because...well, you just never know... (I promise my house is not a hoarder house! It isn't, it isn't I tell you! But, what is strange camera crew doing outside my window?!)

Anyway, moving on. If you find yourself with er, more than a couple of purposeless invisible ink pens lying around, weep no more. Now is your opportunity to eliminate all of that guilt for keeping them, because...(cue dramatic music):

YOU CAN TURN THEM INTO YOUR OWN DECODER SETS!!!!

Yep, you read that right. With a little luck and creativity, chances are all (or at least some!) of your different invisible ink pens will combine together to create an invisible message and decoder set!! And it's actually very cool and fun. :) Er, let me re-phrase: if you're a nerd with no life like me it's actually very cool and fun.

Here's what you do: Grab a piece of paper and get scribbling, keeping track of which pen is which. Once you've done all of your scribbling, scribble OVER your initial scribbles with each of the pens. You'll probably find that many of them react together! (Just don't ask me the science behind how or why these react together because I have no clue as to how this inky magic happens!) And hopefully none of these strange concoctions create weird and toxic compounds to the affect of mixing ammonia with bleach lol!

Lo and behold your hoarding er, frugal impulses have a purpose! You've CREATED a cool new toy for your kids to play with! In an instant your bored and sullen children have been thrust into the exciting world agents and spies with top secret decoding missions! There are bombs to diffuse! There are lives to save! There are...ok, ok I'll stop. :) But seriously, I was excited (probably more so than I should've been) when I discovered this neat little trick. Anyway, give it a try! It worked for me. :)










Raising Homemakers





Tuesday, March 22, 2011

10 Spring Projects (some finished some not!)

Just thought I'd share a few (10, to be exact!) of the projects I've been working on to jazz up the house a bit now that Spring has Sprung. Some are finished and some I haven't even started yet. :) Here they are:


1. Decoupaged Dangly Hearts


These hearts were originally painted plain green with little dots running along the edges. They were a bit dated and just kinda...blah. A little scrapbook paper and Mod Podge later and VoilĂ ! Heart makeover complete!



2. Boring maroon jelly cupboard in need of a re-do!

This is a project yet-to-be-completed. To me this plain maroon color is just a blank canvas of possibilities! One of the ideas I have is something like this:


So stay tuned to see the result! :)




3. File Cabinet Makeover


This file cabinet which lives in our office/playroom was such a drab eye sore! But with the addition of a few vinyl decals I now love it!



4. Artichoke jar turned Q-tip container!


Inspired by these re-purposed jars over at Happy Clippings I decided to put this old glass jar to good use. This was so much fun and FREE since I had all the materials on hand!




5. Cigar box Makeover!


I had this cute honeycomb printed cigar box sitting on my desk for months (it holds all of our itty bitty misplaced toys that need to be put back. I call it "Toy Purgatory"), but I never liked the writing on it. Instead I though it'd be cute to cover the words with some vintage bees. So I printed some out, "shabbied" it up with a little brown paint, finished it off with Mod Podge and ta-da!



6. Cigar box (#2) makeover!


This cigar box is actually my "Prayer Box." Inside I keep all of my written prayer intentions, inspiring scripture verses, prayer cards etc. But it was just your standard boring cigar box. So, I applied some scrapbook paper, hot-glued some ribbon and buttons on and now I love it!



7. Armoir in desperate need of some paint!


I've had this old unfinished armoir for years! I decided it's high time I give it some love, so I plan to paint some tree branches and birds on it. Below is one of the ideas I have for it:


So stay tuned to see how it turns out! :)




8. Jewelry Box Make-over (To be Completed!)


This jewelry box belonged to my mother, so it has sentimental value, but I'm not crazy about the appearance. I haven't quite decided exactly how I'm going to paint it yet, but I'm thinking it will involve blue patterned drawers and some type of shabby white paint. Stay tuned! :)



9. Notepad catch-all basket


We have a gazillion half-used note pads that never get finished since they end up lost and buried in piles or lurk in dark scary places. Well not anymore! In a (rare!) moment of brilliance (ok, maybe I'm exaggerating just a tad) I thought I'd put them all in a basket and pop them on my desk. No more lonely nights for these little guys--I use them all the time now!


Aaaaaaaaaand last but not least...


10. Remote Control Basket
We had had an old remote holder that no one ever used because it was in a really inconvenient dark dank corner (my house sounds like an old haunted manner with all of these dark dank corners I keep mentioning lol!) of the living room. They were always getting lost because no one ever put them back. And the funnier thing was that when they (rare occasion) were actually put away no one ever even thought to look there! :p So I thought, "There must be a better way!" And a better way there was. They now sit perched happily in this little basket (which happens to be the perfect size and shape by the way) on the ledge above our couch. Problem solved. And the remotes lived happily ever after.



Anyway, those are some of the things I've been up to (and will be up to!) this Spring. Have any ideas you'd like to share? I'd love to know! Leave a comment below! (LOL that rhymes. I love when I accidentally rhyme. I feel like Dr. Seuss. I'm also easily amused. Have I ever mentioned that?)





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Monday, March 21, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (part 6)

Inspired by Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts, I've been making my own list of everyday gifts. God gifts. Starting at one and continuing to 1,000 here is my journey of gratitude:



31. Child's drawing of gates of heaven




32. warm coffee on cold wet groggy morning



33. sunny and 60!


34. fresh air from open windows


35. short sleeves in March


36. wind that shakes budded branches, cold sting of Winter gone


37. driving with windows rolled down, errant strands of music overheard--the pulse of Spring excitement


38. insect on windshield-sign of Spring


39. ripe sweet pear in sunlight




40. lemon cake with sticky sweet frosting, sticky sweet children licking fingers



41. majestic swoop of owl in woods


42. smell of banana bread baking


43. 3 year old telling me sizzling eggs sound like rainfall




44. 5 year old picking me sprig of green leaves-picking new life





45. bawdy raucous cackle of crow, exclaiming its existence from treetops



46. Spring snow on holly leaves, promising gentler days ahead



47. Roly poly drooling happy baby niece and nephew playing with cousins



48. Fiery orange sunset just outside my window




...more to come




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