Monday, November 21, 2011

Crazy Crafting

Ryan has said that my blog is just a bragging spot for me to talk about all my projects. He's only half right. I do like to "share" what I have been working on, but the other purpose of my blog is to share encouraging parenting stories. Like the other day when the boys were playing football out front and they called me outside because Ryan got hurt. As I walked out, I noticed Ryan laying on the ground and our neighbors back windshield completely smashed. Apparently catching a football was so important that he needed to crash through the window. See Ryan, my blog is not only about bragging!!!

So, back to my crafts - it's been a busy couple of weeks - I tend to get a little obsessed when I craft. Once I start with one good idea, they just keep coming!

This table base I've had for years and it was natural wood. I painted it cream color and plopped a window frame on top.

I tacked an old quilt onto the back of the window.

I saw this picture in my Dr. office and snapped a few pictures. (I am a great copy-cat) It is all felt that I hand sewed on - I like that it looks a little lopsided and old. The frame started white, then black and ended up gray.
These are architecture stars that they used on buildings. I bought a bunch of these years ago at a flea market in Florida. I hot glued them onto the back of a fabric covered board and put it in a black frame.

This is my favorite - it was an unfinished wooden bowl I had laying around. I painted it and then started writing Bible verses interspersed with hearts in a circular pattern. Each verse has to do with love. When it was dry I put a coat of stain on it. I LOVE how it turned out - I am on the search now for wooden bowls to make more of these as wedding gifts - why didn't I think of this last summer when we had 7 weddings to go to!

Dylan has a recording/band/ catch-all spot in the basement. Under this table he stores an old turn table, albums and speakers. It always bugged me when I would look over and see the "mess". He told me just not to look - but instead I took a bunch of old rulers and lightly painted them. I then hot glued them to an old wooden box. He now has storage underneath and I have a nice hiding spot I look forward to looking at.

JORIE ALERT - stop reading now because this is one of your Christmas gifts!!
We love Scrabble and Banannagrams in our family so I made this pillow to look like scrabble letters. I ended up stuffing it with pieces of leftover fleece and Cam says it is the perfect weight for sleeping on!

I've had this star hanging in my bedroom for a while but it looked a little blah! So I took an old window (I find them in the trash every once in a while) painted it blue and tacked material onto the back. Then I hung it up and popped a nail in to hang the star. I added the berries to complete the look.
According to Cam you can buy potholders at the store, but why bother when you can easily cover your old, burned ones with material and stitch on some felt stars using a blanket stitch. See Cam, they don't sell these at any store I've gone to :)

I have one more project I just completed with the left over rulers, but unfortunately I don't have a camera, so you will just have to wait on that. Hope you don't think this is bragging, Ryan - it makes much more cents and sensibility than flying through a windshield!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today is my birthday - as Cam so "nicely" announced to our entire church - both services - "thanks honey!"

So I decided I wanted to start a new tradition between Cam and I. Every year we buy each other cards and write sweet, encouraging words to each other. (The past two years my kids have each written me letters on my birthday telling me how much I mean to them - when I say those are the best gifts I have EVER received, I am not exagerating!) So when Cam and I write birthday cards to each other I keep the card out for a while, then tuck it into my desk vowing to hold onto it since his words are so special to me. But eventually it gets tossed to make room for more invaluable keepsakes. I had been brainstorming a better way to hold onto these cards - plastic sheets in binders was one idea, cardboard keepsake boxes was another, but I knew I could do better.

Here in comes the new tradition. I took an old hard cover book and tore out the pages, then I covered it in material and sewed together some blank pieces of paper. Then I hot glued that to the spine of the book. Thereby creating "the birthday book". I warned Cam that I wanted him to write in this book for my birthday instead of buying me a card. (I copied what I had written to him for his October birthday since I hadn't thought of this idea sooner.) This way our sweet, encouraging words to each other are in one place to be reread whenever we want. I think this tradition will make a lot of cents and sensibility in our house!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trash Fairies Strikes Again!

I was reading one of my favorite blogs - besides Aislin's, Shay's, Janet's and Kate's. It's called "The Real Housewives of Bucks County" and unlike the name portrays - they are two super crafty friends who talk about all the projects they do. They were showing a dresser they had just refinished and like I mentioned the other day - we had just trash picked a "new" dresser for Dylan that left me with 2 slightly wobbly totally usable dressers.

I had just gotten my winter clothes out of boxes in my closet and was trying to figure out how I was going to fit all those bulky sweaters into my dresser. I have visions of being a minimalist that owns just 7 outfits that I rotate week after week, but in reality I am a thrift shop addict that has a hard time passing by the Ann Taylor sweater set for $1. So another dresser in our bedroom would be perfect.

On Saturday we got to work - I was simultaneously working on the canvas and the dressers and loving every minute of it. When the kids were little I had a small crafting business that I miss every day I drive to work. I would wake up, put on the same pair of overalls I had worn the day before, slap on a baseball hat and merrily get to crafting - it was heaven - but benefits and year round salary won out over crafts.

Back to my project - I took the knobs off, cut out a hole in each drawer with a hand saw, sanded and got to painting - my favorite part! After painting the color I wanted, I went back with a dry brush and did accents with black paint.

After it dried, I stenciled on the numbers (using the same stencils from the canvas project) It turned out perfectly! Now I have "new" dresser in the bedroom and one for our basement bedroom all for the price of a stencil!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I came, I saw, I copied!

So the "trash fairies" have been good to me - yes, for a long time now, I have believed in the "miracle of the trash can". I will mention to Cam that Dylan could use a new dresser and like magic a perfectly good dresser will appear in the trash - free for the picking!

I was browsing at one of my favorite country stores when a huge canvas caught my eye - It was creative, different and very expensive. I tucked that information in my head and moved on. That night Dylan and I were out for a walk and in the trash was a canvas - 4 feet by 4 feet - the same as the one I saw in the store. We hightailed it home, drove back and loaded it into the car.

This project required 36 wooden circles, so since good friends of ours were due for a visit and he just happened to be a retired shop teacher, I put my order in.

Ryan helped me paint the canvas - which had huge, textured flowers on it - as we painted, it was a little too "textury" for me, so I went over it with black shoe polish (which I interchange with stain on many projects) the look was perfect, it appeared like old paper. Next we painted the circles black and took a bowl that was slightly smaller than the circles, I dipped it in white paint on the rim and placed it on the circles - this gave the effect of a slightly off circle - perfect (this was a new trick for me, so I was really excited)

Next I stenciled the alphabet and numbers. I am slightly obsessed with the alphabet which fits in nicely with being a teacher. Then I positioned the letters on the canvas and double checked to make sure positioning was good. Cam stood on a chair and I moved letters - this took about 15 minutes and after he left I took one last look and realized "u" was upside down - yeah, funny story, but so glad I caught that! I glued everything down and let it sit over night.


This turned out just like the one I saw at the store, minus the price tag. Everything was free except for the stencil - which I got for 50% off at AC Moore.

I had 6 extra circles, so I was determined to do something with them - here is what I came up with:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thermostat vs. Thermometer

A mother is only as happy as her most unhappy child.

I've never heard a truer statement. The older my kids have gotten the more effected I am by their moods - it's worse than living with a mood ring.

But feelings are a fickle fellow - I'm not sure what exactly that means but it's fun to say - try it...... ten times fast...


I can't live my life on the emotions of those around me, let alone my own ups and downs. It got me thinking about a thermostat and a thermometer. The later responds to it's environment. It has no control over how high or low it goes, it's subject to the whims of the temperature.

But a thermostats sets the temperature. If it wants to be hot, it's hot, if it wants to be cold, it's cold. It is not ruled by the environment - it rules it.

I think our emotions should be the same way - don't get me wrong - emotions are not evil. It's when we let them rule our lives that we get into trouble.

God tells us in Proverbs 17:27 " A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered."

I am striving to be "even-tempered". I must admit as a young mom that was not a word that would describe me. I was a little high strung and "quick-tempered". God is teaching me the importance of the "pause".  Taking a breath, hearing another person out, focusing on what really matters and looking at the big picture. Being even tempered takes work and practice. It may not come naturally but it is defiantly something I can achieve.

This has also effected the way I respond to my kids emotions. Instead of getting sucked into their feelings I am praying first and responding second. Many times by the time I get to responding the "crisis" is over.

So here's to being Thermostats. They are much more stable, reliable and easier to live with - just ask my family.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Double Dog Dare You!

I make this awesome smoothie every morning, but I made the mistake of telling Cam what was in it before he tried it and now he refuses to drink it - what a baby!!

Anyway I dare you to make it with an open mind and closed eyes and let me know if it isn't the best drink ever.

Start with 1 cup milk - I use skim milk.
Add 1 cup of frozen fruit - banana, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries. etc.
Top Secret Ingredient - 1 cup of raw spinach.

Blend and enjoy - you get a super healthy drink and it tastes great - if it isn't sweet enough for you, you could add a little sweetener.

I guarantee you can not taste the spinach - it defiantly looks green-speckled but who doesn't like fun colors first thing in the morning - if they only made clear spinach, maybe I could get Cam to drink it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"I'm Teaching Naked"

Wait, let me explain... as Megan was packing all her school supplies to start her first year as a "real" teacher she realized it would be far easier to teach naked than to try to cram ALL her supplies into her 2 suitcases! At the last minute I told her to pack a 3rd suitcase and just pay the fee, but when we got to the airport there was a 2 week embargo limit on luggage (guess which 2 weeks?) So she could take ONE suitcase and we paid for a 2nd one and shoved the contents of her 3rd suitcase into pockets, a backpack and a pillowcase. Sorry to say, the pillowcase didn't make it... moment of silence!

So today is her first day as a 3rd grade teacher. Someone stopped me at church and lamented the fact that we had kids with adult jobs - how could this be. When Cam announced the fact that she had accepted this job in the Dominican Republic he said "I guess this is what happens when you take your kids on missions trips" And he is so right.

As we drove to the airport with our good friend Janet, I realized Megan was more prepared at her age, than I had ever been. We passed the parking garage once, entered the airport at the wrong entrance and when I turned to Janet to make sure she had remembered where we parked she looked at me with the same blank look I had on my face. It was Megan that directed us to the garage, calmly reentered the correct location and reminded us it was P4 - or something like that! I'm sure she was worried Janet and I would never make it home!

Yes, she is ready. All her exposure to new situations has given her a confidence beyond her years. I was reading Bill Hybels book "Whispers" where he tells the story of his Dad buying him a plane ticket when he was 15 years old to travel the world - Yikes!  But his Dad knew him and knew that would be a good life lesson for his son - today he is the pastor of one of the largest churches in America and he credits his Dad with helping him think beyond his years.

Pushing our kids beyond their comfort zone is an excellent way to prepare them for life. Letting them struggle and problem solve on their own, will only make them stronger adults. And isn't that what we want for our kids? As sad as I was to drop Megan at the airport, I couldn't help thinking about the alternative - a lazy adult living in my basement, too worried about failure to try something new.

So as she starts her first day teaching (with clothes on) I pray that she will continue to grow in all aspects of her life - not just ones that make cents and sensibility!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Wedded Bliss

A couple of months ago I got a phone call from my friend Laureen. She was getting married and wanted to know if I could help with the wedding - a.k.a. be the wedding planner. I immediatly accepted because I knew that Laureen and I were of the same thinking - plan a marriage, not a wedding!!

She is in her last year of nursing school and her fiance Jon has been working at a Christian School - so the budget was low, but the creativity was high!! And since her secret goal has been to make my blog, I share with you their special day!
So here is the beautiful couple - Jon and Laureen
And that is my beautiful daughter Megan to the left - there is love in the air!

First stop Trader Joe's to pick up 7 boxes of sunflowers - they had the best price and the flowers were beautiful. We found that any room looks better with flowers and the more flowers, the better so I was glad that we had more than enough and could be creative with them. They came in black buckets which we used to put the extra flowers and arranged them outside the church on cement pilons.

We lined the walkway from the church to the reception with mason jars filled with sunflowers - this looked so beautiful and really made a statement. I would definatly do this idea again. We put them outside right before the wedding began to save on wilting.
The flowers were arranged at Jon's house (in his bedroom with the air conditioner set on high) Laureen had bought 30 clear vases of various shapes at the thrift shop. We then transported them over to the church. Laureen's dad volunteered to help us and as we loaded  his van he commented that he probably wasn't the best person for this job, since he is allergic to flowers. Suck it up Mike :)

Guests were invited to take a vase of flowers home with them.
On each table were prayer rocks with the bride and grooms initials. Guests were invited to take a rock home to remember to pray for this couple.

 These were the bouquets the girls carried. They are wrapped with twine to compliment the burlap theme.

At the bottom of the picture you can see a sunflower pinned onto the chair. We pinned one on 4 of the rows so the ushers knew where to seat the family. This looked pretty and held up well.
This is Laureen's sister Jeanie walking down her sister Sophie and Jon's nephew - JJ. He was carrying a pillow made out of burlap - that pillow set the theme for the rest of the wedding!
Laureen and her dad - they were so sweet waiting to walk down together. Part of my job was standing in the back and telling people when to walk and in what order and if they should bring both feet together - no on should have that much power!

 The stage at the church had a screen to hide at the worship band instruments. We strung a garland of flowers across the front and hung mason jars with candles in them (it's a little hard to see but it looked great) We had stools covered with burlap on either side and put a vase of sunflowers on them. In the center is the unity candle.
 There were 16 round tables and 4 long tables. We put on beige table clothes and runners made out of burlap. In each flower I stuck a table number. We had a banner flag theme going so I bought skewers and used pretty paper to cut triangles, poked two holes in them and slid the skewer in place. We wrote on the flag with a puffy paint. There were no table assignments, but the DJ called tables to get food.
 This is in front of the kitchen - it is a metal slide down door - ugly - so we hung up burlap and then decided to collect some wedding photos from some of the guests (this was done on Tuesday!) We then made a game of guessing who the pictures were - that was fun and funny! We strung a set of lights right above the pictures so you see better.

Another window opening that we covered and decorated.

Between the wedding and the reception the guests were invited to play yard games - croquet, wiffle ball, bocce,etc. We had these coolers outside and I had sewn these covers to hide the "orange". Then we strung the flags to let the guests know what was inside. Guest could also help themselves to soft pretzels. We could have used 2 more coolers since it was pretty hot that day.
 The gift table - there is a wooden trunk to collect cards.

The buffet table - they had chalkboards to let you know what food there was and flags were in the hoagies to let you know what kind you were taking. A long burlap runner went down the middle.
 The dessert table was a personal favorite. Laureen's mom and aunts baked and baked - everything was delicious. They had a cake that they cut, but the homebaked goodies went quickly. We filled 2 big jars with cookies. Strung along the front of the table is a flag that says desserts.
Here I am taking a little break and enjoying the moment.
 The "dance floor" needed to be set apart, so Jon strung bristro lights from the ceiling - it looked really cool and made a fun place to dance. At the end of the night, we just cut the twine and wrapped the lights up. They plan to hang them in their apartment.
They also had a photo booth that doubled as their guest book. After you received your picture, you could tape it into their book and add your personal message. Included on the table were scissors, markers and stickers to make your page special. This was a great idea and the line to get in was always long!!
This wonderful couple met their goal - they had a meaningful, beautiful, unique wedding without "breaking the bank".
And we all know that makes cents and sensibility!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Missing My Man

Of course I am missing Cam, for all the obvious reasons, but there is a surprising reason why I am missing him - My bed in not being made - no, this is not code for anything, simply put my bed sheets are in shambles.

Sometime ago we fell into a comfortable routine - Cam would make the bed every morning. Knowing what a neat freak I am, this may surprise some of you but since I am also an early riser it has made more sense. Cam kind of frowned upon me waking him up at 6am so I could make the bed. So he took over that household chore.

He has always said that I could fall asleep on a pile of dirty rags, but secretly I just like when HE straightens out the covers and makes the bed look nice! Everybody needs a job!

So this brings me to another story - so many of you enjoyed the story about the repair man folding the laundry (see "One of Those People" post) that I thought I would tell you another story about this incredible lady! She once told me that her kids had to keep their rooms clean, but they didn't have to make their beds - this peaked my interest - no bed making? Why? Everyday she would make their beds and spends that time praying over them - that they would make good choices, be pleasing to God in all they do, safety, etc.

Isn't that a great idea!

I can't say that I totally adopted it, but I have from time to time gone into my kids rooms and done just that - instead of mumbling under my breath, I take the time to thank God for the children He has given me while I straighten up their beds.

So maybe that is why I am missing my man so much - that care and attention he takes to make our room look nice reminds me of how much he loves and cares for me!

Well, it's almost noon - better go make my bed!! And instead of missing him, I will pray for him and the ministry he is doing in Montenegro.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

If You Don't Ask, The Answer Is Always NO!

Cam and the "little" boys - yes, we still call Ryan and Dylan that - maybe when they hit 6' 5" I'll stop, but until then...
Anyway, they are in Montenegro on a missions trip - usually these trips are a family affair, but the trip coincides with a family wedding and "our" baby leaving to teach in D.R. So someone had to stay home to pack, plan and pin the bra strap to the dress - guess who was nominated??

Our dear friend Laureen is getting married this Friday night! Megan is the maid of honor and Laureen asked me to help with some of the details - don't worry, I am not going to give anything away - you will just have to attend to find out.

Laureen told me months ago that she had high hopes of "making" my blog and since she has been totally thrifty in the planning of her wedding - here it is!

I will give a more detailed run down after the wedding along with pictures, but I do have one story to share.

At her wedding she is having "lawn games". While pictures are being taken and before dinner, guests are invited to play outside and mingle. So we have been collecting games for this. While at the thrift shop last night Megan spotted a bean bag toss game - retail about $50.
We both squealed in delight - literally, we squealed, but then we were informed that someone else had set it there to buy - that is the problem with the thrift shop - you must be quick - there is no back room to pull from.
Anyway, I asked who was buying it and a lady announced it was her - that's when the appeal started. I asked if she really wanted it, since we were looking for games for an upcoming wedding, she assured me she did and I left it at that. But I kept my eye on her, in case she changed her mind. When she went up to pay for it, she noticed that on the tag it said that one bean bag was missing. Now you and I know how easy it would be to make another bean bag, but for her it was a deal breaker. I made sure I was standing within eye contact, ok, I was creeepin' hard and when she said she didn't want it, I jumped on it!


The point of the story is, if I hadn't asked, the answer would have been no. It always pays to be bold, ask for a better price, longer warranty, extra options. A friend of mine had a repair man come to her house. He charged her his full hourly rate but the job only took 30 minutes, when she inquired about a discount, he told her he had to charge the full amount, she then told him he could spend the extra half hour helping her fold her laundry since she would be paying him anyway - which he did! - see, if you don't ask, the answer is no - and that makes cents and sensibility!

Friday, July 29, 2011

One of Those People

Well, I am officially "one of those people" - you know the ones - not really handy, like their toilets to flush... you know - "those people".

I broke down yesterday and called the plumber to "look at" our toilet (who says some jobs don't come with perks)

This call came after about 4 months of hearing it "run", telling 75 people they couldn't use it during a party, manually filling the tank back up and 2 repair trips to Lowes.

I always envision myself as a "repair girl" you know the MacGirlver - get it? I could look at a problem and find a way to fix it. But when it comes to appliances, I am at a loss. Maybe it is the fear of electrocution or that I will take something apart and never be able to put it back together or worse, put it back together and have a pile of spare parts laying on the ground (I wonder if they are important?). One of these days, I am going to take a "home repair" class at Bucks just so I can be a little more handy around the house.

My Dad was the type of dad who could fix anything - broken water heater - fixed, snow blower - fixed and he only lived 10 minutes from me, so my brokenness, was his fixedness! Maybe I should have been paying closer attention to what he was doing. One of my favorite memories is of my dad putting in a ceiling fan and one of my kids coming up behind him with a screwdriver and poking him in the butt - we all learned some new words that day!!

You know how people say, you marry your father - not so much.
I think I specifically loved Cam because he had different traits, but in instances like the toilet, I secretly wish I had married a plumber - Don't get me wrong, Cam can fix 75% of the things that break in our house and that is 100% more than me but we both know when it is time to call in the professionals!

Since Cam is out of the country, I thought I would surprise him with a fixed toilet - not to mention washer too (last week our washer water pump broke)! I figured it is OK to be one of "those people" that calls on the professionals - sometimes it makes more cents and sensibility.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Follow Up

So many of you (ok, three of you) have asked how Creation went - especially the food!! No one was poisoned, sickened or constipated (actually our youth pastor has a contest every year where he puts the kids name on the white board and when they poop they are out of the contest - needless to say that is one contest I am happy to lose)
Everything went great. First of all the weather was fantastic with the last day (Saturday) being the only day that was unbearably hot and it eventually rained that night for about 20 minutes but it felt great. That is always an answer to prayer - the first year we went to creation it rained the whole time - people were mud sliding down the side of the hill - which is fun, but terribly messy!! And cooking in the rain is NEVER fun! So I am so happy for that.
I was especially happy how all the meals worked out and were super healthy. I got a card from one mom who is into healthy eating (no Anne, it isn't you) and she was happy for the good food and said "Man does not live by twinkie alone" haha.
The funny thing was, most of the kids gravitated to the fruit and veggies - I guess they wanted out of the contest too!
And Colin and Jorie drove up Friday nite to surprize the boys -the look on Ryan's face was priceless!

After heading out Sat. nite, we did a quick load of wash, rented an Expedition (we figured it's cheaper to rent a vehicle for a week than replace our worn out van which we don't need all that room on a daily basis) And head up to Vermont for a week of vacation - yes - honest to goodness family time! Friends of ours have a house on the side of the mountain and our sooooo gracious to let us use it! There is no TV, internet, phone service, it is heaven!!

We fish, hike, swim, read, jump off cliffs (not Jorie and I) visit the country store, roast marshmellows, watch fireworks, set off fireworks, visit Ben and Jerry's, shoot guns (not me) play volleyball, oh, did I say play volleyball and generally relax. It is one of my favorite vacation spots.

One thing we like to do is spend some time praying for each other. As we sat in our little circle and prayed for the person on our right I realized this would be our last time together for a while. I am so thankful for the fam. that God has given me and that each one seeking God in all they do - what more could a mom ask for!

So now we are in the midst of Vacation Bible School - and as I hold a little one in my lap I am reminded how quickly the time goes and to make the most of every moment - the good, the bad, the ugly.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Blind men shouldn't rearrange furniture

I love to rearrange! Furniture is my favorite. Cam will often wake up and walk into a completly different layout - if he ever loses his eyesight, he may be in trouble!

This works because most of my rooms have complementary colors so they will work in any room - and because my house is "Primitive Country" which basically means whatever I can pick out of the trash, clean up and reuse -  works for me!

With summer here, we've been eating out back on our porch most nights. As we sat there we all were saying how nice it would be to have a ceiling fan out there. Well, two trips to Lowes and 3 hours later our dream became a reality!

Now the back porch is like another room, and a room needs to be decorated. I started by putting a table cloth on the nasty picnic table. Next I potted a flat of basil and marigolds I had bought from the school next store to ours (their students planted and grew them from seed and then stood outside and sold them! - love it!)

I brought out 2 tables from inside and set to "accessorizing" them. Like I said, I pulled from the house to make it work! I also decided it would be nice to have utensils and napkins outside so I put them inside a big jar I use for punch at parites, but sits in my closet all the other days of the year.

I finished with a few accessories, such as a ladder, rubber boots, an outdoor clock and an old rusty star.

Outdoor room complete and best of all - it cost me nothing but the cost of the fan (and installation - still waiting for Cam's bill to come!)

Making a usable outdoor space make Cents and Sensibility!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Nap Time

Just had my first nap of the day - after "babysitting" oopps I mean "teaching" 67 preschoolers! Our Vacation Bible School started today and I am exhausted!!
I came "late" to Bible School - since I didn't start coming to church until I was in 9th grade, I never experienced the thrill of signing in, wearing an itchy name tage, listening to the little old ladies teach about Jesus and eat my juice and cookie.
Instead when I was in high school I used to take a week of vacation from my job and volunteer to help that week. Usually I would help with 8 or 9 year olds.
When I eventually married the guy who would be in charge of Vacation Bible School I got pretty good at volunteering! I would usually teach whatever class my kids were in and as they "graduated" to 6th grade, they would help me.
A few years ago, we took over pre-school. Call it insanity, or poor memory, but every year I anticipate a meaningful interaction with each 4year old. NOT! With so many little ones and a tight rotation schedule, I'm lucky to make eye contact with each child. Being the head teacher means putting out fires, emergency bathroom breaks and calmling anxious parents - yes, parents - usually a screaming child will calm down within 5 minutes of mom leaving, but when Mom stands in the back of the room, right in her child's line of vision, the crying may never cease!
What I do love about doing this is watching the teenage helpers lead out! I have always known that given the chance, teens will rise to the occassion and outshine any adult when they care for kids - they remember what it is like and they have endless energy! So with so many preschoolers, I get to encourage my teen helpers to step up and soothe a crying child, sit with a nervous newcomer or talk to a child about Christ for the first time!
It is so exciting to see them grow up before my eyes and take the lead! Over the years, my own kids have worked with me and now they lead their own departments - one is in charge of teaching and the other is running games (and one is in school in Florida and the other is on vacation with his friend! - VBS isn't for everyone!!)
I always think of this as the reward of parenting - after all those reprimands, instruction, teachable moments, you get to sit back and watch them put it into practice. I encourage you to include your kids in your service, teaching them what it is to help others - by doing so, you are teaching them that the world is bigger than themselves and that sure does make sense to me.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Our Ryan Graduating from High School

                                             Our Megan graduating from College

As I look over these two pictures an old but true saying comes to mind - "where has the time gone???" When the kids were little - the days were soooooo looonnnngggg!!

But it seems like the day Cam and I watched all 4 of them jump out of the minivan on their own accord (it was stopped - honest!) The time has just flown by!

There are so many things I wish I could relive with them - long walks, missions trips, baptisms, ice cream cones, night time prayers, last days of school, first day of school, bon fires, friends, text messages, dinner time,crafting, notes in lunch boxes (even in mine). The list could go on and on.

I just hope I enjoyed the moment! Cam and I are both working at this. We have the type of brains that are always one step ahead - preparing for the next "thing". And we are learning to "be right where we are".

And that also means not living in the past. It is easy (believe me) to get all senitimental and want to put each kid back in diapers and a playpen - but just imagine how ridiculous that would be. I want them to grow and be who God has them to be. And they don't need two parents holding them back!

So if you have little ones, big ones or middle sized ones (kids that is) - enjoy where you are. Every day is a gift - open it, look at it, use it, savor it - doing so makes sensibility to me!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

School is done, two graduations and parties have been thrown and we are in full on summer mode!! I love Summer - not just because I don't have to go to work every day (score one for the teachers!!) But I am one of those crazy parents that likes having my kids home. I like the pace, the fresh food, outdoor living and most of all, I like the trips!!

Cam is leaving today for a missions trip to Peru - he is visiting the church we went to last summer. When he gets home next week we leave with our youth group and 3 kids to go to Creation Festival.

3 years ago or maybe it was 4, I volunteered to cook for this event. My dear friend Janet sat me down and gave me all her insight into how to succeed at feeding 40 teenagers and not poisoning anyone - at least not seriously poisoning them!

We came up with menu plans, shopping lists and checklist. I then laminated them and tucked them into my "Creation Folder". Everyone summer, I whip out this folder, call my friend Anne and go shopping. We have  followed the same meal plan every year - with a few tweaks. This year I got a late start - I only pulled out the folder yesterday, but you know what, it was fine since everything was all there for me - I scanned over the meals, looked at the checklist and looked through the bins of cooking supplies to see what I needed to restock.

Now, don't get me wrong, it is work, but it is "known" work. I know just what to expect, how to expect it and when. If I reworked this trip every year I would only create more work for myself - and lets face it - all a kid wants to do is shove some food down them and get to the next concert!

I got to thinking how sometimes I make things harder than they have to be - change is good, but the tried and true is good too. If something is working, why mess with it. We eat basically the same 14 meals, over and over. We have a little cleaning routine in the house. There is a place for most items so everyone knows where to put something back. At school we follow a schedule everyday and if it is going to be different, we go over the changes so the kids know what to expect. Why should home be any different. Getting into a pattern is not a bad thing and the time and energy you save make cents and sensibility!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Parents of the YEAR

There is an award at PBU that honors parents for their involvement in the PBU community and their child's life. I have entered my parents every year since freshman year. They finally won this year! This is the letter of nomination that I wrote:

A long time ago when the only dorms were in Penndel, when guys could not have facial hair, and when there was no walkway from chapel to the cafeteria, there was a skinny white boy from New York and a pretty girl from Pennsylvania. They were both youth group leaders at Davisville church, where one night the girl gave the boy a ride home to PBU. The boy was a gentleman and offered to carry the girl’s laundry up to her room. The rest is history. Twenty-two years later their first born and only girl is about to graduate from their alma mater to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a teacher.
Cameron and Mary Garven have been married for almost twenty- four years, modeling the love of Christ through their marriage. They have put God first, their marriage second, and their children third. Their philosophy of parenting is to raise holy children, not happy children. Their four children, three boys and a girl, agree that as they got older the more independence they received. They were allowed to make choices and always knew that Mom and Dad were there to talk about the choices that did not go well. As they ventured through public school, becoming exposed to the sins of the world, their parents were right alongside of them to talk, encourage, and love each child. The eldest and only girl definitely had it the hardest being the guinea pig.
There were many different rules, but one thing that I really appreciated is that we were never forced to go to church. My dad was the youth pastor at Bible Fellowship Church for fifteen years, and I thought it was so cool to hangout with teenagers, so I loved going to church. My parents wanted us to discover that going to church, kids clubs, and youth group were enjoyable and beneficial. I made some great friends, mentors, and memories from being involved in our church. Another thing my parents promoted was serving together as a family. We have traveled all around the world on different missions trips to serve together as a family. It is an unforgettable experience when you can see your whole family put aside their selfish desires to come together for a week to serve others. The last rule that I was not so fond of in high school, but greatly appreciate now is no dating until college. As I look back I am so thankful that I did not give a piece of my heart away to some boy. All of these “rules” were very helpful in preparing me to become a student at PBU.
As I entered into PBU, I was presented with the first opportunity to live away from my parents and put into practice all they have taught me. I am so glad that my parents had encouraged me to get involved in youth group, sports, and school clubs during my teen years. It helped to prepare me as a leader. I was editor-in-chief of PBU’s yearbook, Milestone, for three years. I participated in soccer, softball, Alpha Chi Epsilon, tutoring, and teaching Sunday school. The independence that my parents allowed me to develop in my teen years was key in helping to developing me as a young adult at PBU. I had to learn how to manage my time, money, and friendships. Serving with my family helped me to appreciate all that God has blessed me with. It taught me to turn around and serve down in Philadelphia, to my friends, and in my student teaching placement in the Dominican Republic. I now feel even more prepared to graduate from PBU and enter into the real world.
I have had the privilege of living close to PBU. This has given my family the chance to get involved in the lives of many of my friends. My parents have graciously opened our home to students for dinner, provided a place to have birthday parties, and offered a place to stay during J-term or summer classes. A friend who stayed over last summer ended up eating dinner with just my parents one night and still talks about how much fun she had chatting with them. My parents have also gotten to know students who have attended or served at our church. I am glad that my house has become my friend’s home away from home.
Cam and Mary Garven have transitioned from my parents into my friends, who I can laugh with, talk to, and hangout with. I am so thankful that they diligently sought God’s help as they parented my brothers and I. 

I am so thankful for your investment in my life as I prepare to go invest into my future student's life. I LOVE YOU MOM AND DAD!