Parties Minibook

IMG_5186 For almost every party, I make some sort of paper banner… it’s a (usually) quick, simple, and inexpensive way to add some merriment to a celebration. I also hate wasting paper, too — especially the pretty patterned paper that I used to make a million pennants for Cate’s first birthday party, two years ago. So can you guess what I did with all those triangles?? : ) parties1 feature1

Yep. A party-themed pennant minibook. I thought it’d be fun to chronicle our family parties we’ve had over the years! My birthday is at the end of October, and growing up my mom gave me many Halloween-themed parties–I LOVE looking back at the stuff she did, made, and created! I’m glad she took photos of the party but also the decorations, food, and games. It is really fun. I wanted something like that, just all in one place, for my girls. (I am not counting on my boys caring?!)parties2 parties3 feature2

In our yearly family photo album (I make them through My Publisher), I heavily chronicle the people at the parties, so for this mini I mostly stuck to the theme/decor and included just a few of the people at the party. parties4 parties5 feature3 parties6 feature4I made so many pennants for the party that, even after I jam-packed this mini with paper, I had some leftover! There’s only one available pennant minibook kit in the shop! {Click for more details!} pennant1

Noelle’s Frozen Birthday Party

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As I was planning for Cate’s party, I remembered the last time we had any sort of celebration was a year ago, Noellie’s 4th. She has a summer birthday, but since I knew the boys were coming early (I didn’t know how early!) we had a surprise birthday party for her in May.

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I think one of the highlights of my life was throwing a surprise party for Noelle. It was SO fun planning secretly, then quickly decorating during her afternoon room/rest time, letting Anna help with everything– and Anna was so sweet, so great, not a hint of jealousy that her younger sister was getting a surprise party.

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Like almost any other little girl in America a year ago, Noelle was obsessed with Frozen. : ) So coming up with a party idea wasn’t difficult at all!

frozen3At the end of her rest time, I helped her get dressed… a year ago she dressed up as Elsa everyday, complete with a cape and dress and braid. So I helped her get dressed, and I won’t forget how fun it was to walk her downstairs to a roomful of people who loved her, the Frozen soundtrack playing, presents, and ‘Frozen’ treats. She had NO idea!

 

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I could not have done this party without my parents! Seriously. I was (unbeknownst to me) just a few week away from delivering, on partial bedrest, VERY pregnant, VERY tired, with very little energy! My dad drew Noelle’s favorite part of the movie — the ice palace — on the chalkboard. He also painted Anna and Elsa peg dolls. My mom made most of the desserts, handled the punch, and made the ice candy to go on the cake (see here, here, and here for inspiration!) Thanks so much, Mom & Dad. : ) frozen5 frozen6 frozen7 frozen8

 

Finish strong! Peptalk Free Printable

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In college, during the weeks leading up to finals, I used to tell myself and write out the phrase “Finish strong!” because man, after four months of classes, papers, and projects, I was ready to coast. I needed to dig in and finish the work, the studying, the memorizing, the reviewing.

Now, years later, I found myself last week giving myself a peptalk: Finish strong! For some reason, I had planned & told Anna we would do “Prairie School” the last ten days of our school year… reading, crafts, recipes and activities centered around the “Little House” series that Rust has been reading to Anna throughout our school year. What was I thinking?! I am SO ready for school to be over! Our normal homeschool curriculum offers daily plans which I LOVE, so the thought of planning 10 days of read-alouds, activities, crafts, and pioneer recipes right when I was ready to finish our school year… I was DONE! Haha. So I needed this reminder last week as I was prepping for this week and the next.

I thought maybe someone else may need a little peptalk to carry them to the end of the school year, too. : )

If you would like to download my “Finish Strong” print in watercolor (like above) or black & white (below), here are the links! Each PDF has a 6×6 and a 4×6 print you can print.

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Finish Strong – Watercolor

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Finish Strong – Black & White

Cate’s 3rd Birthday

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Last month we had the joy of celebrating our middle daughter Cate’s 3rd birthday with a fun little family party. This year I really wanted to have a bright, cheery party for my Cate. Her birthday last year fell between my trips to the Cincinnati Fetal Center (for the TTTS), and while we made the best of that birthday, I wanted to let her have the excitement of another party this year. : )

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As always, I drew my inspiration for Cate’s party from — what else? — patterned paper, this time using We R Memory Keeper’s Inked Rose collection. Painted mason jars & tins, striped paper straws, pink posters, and painted canvas — it was nice to spend some rest times crafting these decorations.

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I was out of pretty ribbon to tie up her packages, so I used a copper-colored sharpie and drew right on the wrapping paper… addicted! I think I’m going to decorate every package this way, now!

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I had arranged a desk with silver tins of paints and brushes, and we were going to have the kiddos paint their own 8×10 canvases as part of the party. But the day was pretty lovely, and between my sister and me we have EIGHT lively, loud, playful children. We sent the non-babies outside instead. And just cuddled the babies. ; )

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Nicknames Minibook

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I tend to make minibooks in groups, working with the same paper or shape back-to-back. I made this nickname minibook right along with my Learning from Anna minibook I shared last week. It even used the same paper!

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We are a nickname family. I know — that’s annoying to some people, but those silly nicknames just keep coming with each tiny human we add to our family. : ) This was a fun, simple, and quick mini to make: I just used alphabet stickers to spell out each of our nicknames, each person got two photos, and the paper is cut 4×8.

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I made this a year ago… that is why the boys are not present in this mini. : ) They have plenty of nicknames already, though! The girls have joined me in a mutual love for affectionate, goofy monikers.

 

nicknames4I’m glad I did this! Some nicknames are still in use, and others have already been traded in for newer, funnier nicknames. (Like “George Washington” for Cate!)

 

Shop Fun Lately

With five little ones at home, my “free time” to work on shop & blog stuff is even more limited now — so blogging, even with my best intentions, falls to the wayside more often than I plan. : ) However, I am more and more regaining my energy & motivation for the “extras” now that the buddies, finally, at 9 months old, began sleeping through the night! (Getting them allergy-tested, then cutting out their allergens–eggs! tree nuts! peanuts!–from my diet got them sleeping through the night within 5 days of their appointment!!) More energy & motivation = more fun ideas for the shop!

I’ve had fun packaging recent orders & sending out surprise mini-mini’s with orders…

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I rarely take custom orders — time really is limited! — but I was SO happy to work with a customer who wanted to make eight minibooks for her friends… what lucky friends! I loved working on these because they used one of my favorite paper lines, We R Memory Keepers Chalkboard collection! I have several ideas for minibooks of my own using this collection, and piecing these together made me excited to completing some of my own with this line!

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I also sorted through craft supplies, which almost always leads to new ideas for minibooks! Here are some peeks of what will be coming to the shop in the next few months…

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Learning from Anna Minibook

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Writing the post about Rust’s coffee party (and how my six-year-old helps me grow as a person) reminded me of a minibook I had made exactly a year ago recording five ways Anna has taught me to be a better person. learn-a-1

I did an unusual size — 4×8 — but I loved the look of these pictures! It was a fun change from my standard 4×6 mini’s. I printed the pictures from my favorite online print shop, Persnickety Prints. Almost all the pictures I use in minibooks I have printed by them. When I get impatient and print pictures through Wal-Mart or Wal-greens, I am almost always disappointed. I have never been disappointed with Persnickety. : )

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I definitely made this minibook with the future in mind: so that Anna, when she is much older, will be able to know how much she impacted me just by being herself, who God made her to be. I marvel at the personalities He gives us — He is so creative! I know a day will come when she will doubt herself — doubt who she is, wonder if she is enough, or be tempted to cover up parts of herself. I don’t want her to be afraid to live out her personality: her people-loving, hopeful, experience-hunting, daydreaming, story-loving, easily excitable, super enthusiastic self! I want her to know: we love you for you. 

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One of my most treasured memories as a child is of my mother, at night, tucking me in, whispering to me: “Thank you for being you.” She said this to me over and over and over, through the nights of my childhood. I felt loved and delighted in! My parents let my sister and I be our weirdo, eccentric, funny selves, and I am a better person for it! I want the same for our kids, too. : )

A “Coffee Party” for Rust

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My sweet Anna is always dreaming up adventures, planning parties & gatherings, and coming up with all sorts of ideas. She is so different from me, yet I think because of our differences, we really click. She stretches me and continually helps me move out of my (very-introverted) comfort zone (like wanting to knock on every door in our neighborhood to meet people, invite everyone in our church to their birthday parties, pass out cookies or treats to people we meet, write people we’ve only met once or twice friendly letters, and on and on). I love this about her! She teaches me so much and helps me grow as a person. : )

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One idea she had was to throw a “coffee party” for Rust, since Rust loves coffee. She wanted to invite practically the whole world and ask everyone to bring him coffee (love the heart behind it!), but since Rust is an introvert like me and hates to be in the spotlight, we just made it a family party (our clan + my parents–Rust’s parents happened to be coming the next weekend for Cate’s birthday party!).

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We made coffee cookies and had chocolate fondue with way too many sweets, something we haven’t done in almost two years (had fondue, that is… we have had plenty of sweets in the last two years)!

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I have a very rough draft of a post I wanted to write about Rust for Valentine’s Day, then his birthday… but it has been SO difficult to put into words what he has meant to me during my last year… through a complicated pregnancy, a NICU stay, and an almost year-long fog of very little sleep. To have been continually served when at my weakest physically; to have been loved when I have been stretched thin and unlovable; to have been quickly forgiven when snappy, or selfish, or stressed… He has quietly tended to our family the past year, often taking most (if not all!) of my load, and never resenting me–for being weak, for never getting it all done, for forgetting simple daily things, for getting stressed or snarky or selfish. He is not perfect, I’m not saying he is, and he would never say he is, but I say–he has loved us all so well. Beautifully well.

So this little coffee party was a fun “thank you!” and a fun “you are loved!” and I am SO glad my Anna just kept insisting we do it! She loves so well. Like her Daddy.

Last Chance! Minibooks

last chance minibooksI’ve moved several minibooks (winter, spring, Easter-themed) to the Last Chance! section of the shop. All minibooks in that section have greatly reduced prices, plus are expiring soon. Once expired, I will dismantle them and use in other creative endeavors (like sewing practice)!

If you’ve had a hankerin’ to try this simple form of memory-keeping, snatching up a reduced minibook ($10 and under) is a low-risk way to try it out!

One Year Ago, Today

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One year ago today, I thought my twin pregnancy was finally getting easier — or, at least, manageable! My nausea had subsided, I was getting off the couch for longer periods, and I was celebrating the news our twins were boys.

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One year ago today, we had not officially decided the names of our boys. We had settled on Noah Ryan for our Baby A, but we were still deciding Baby B.

One year ago today, I had my first appointment with the maternal fetal specialist, an appointment I wasn’t really prepared for, an appointment I went to alone because I was told “not to worry,” and that it was “no big deal.”

One year ago today, Rust was out of town traveling for a few nights.

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One year ago today, I ended up being at the maternal fetal specialist appointment for three hours while they had a long anatomical ultrasound for both boys. The ultrasound tech spent forever looking at Baby B, and as I watched her spend so much time measuring him, my heart cried out, “Something’s wrong with Grayson!” and I knew that was his name.

One year ago today, my maternal fetal specialist very gently told me about Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, how our boys were showing signs, and how I would need to go to Cincinnati for further evaluation while I cried.

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One year ago today, I drove around after my appointment, crying, calling Rust, not even sure where I was driving, coming home to sweet joyful girls, not sure what to think.

One year ago today, Rust cried on the phone with me, prayed for me, and later texted me James 5:11, “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

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One year ago today began the long second-half of my pregnancy, full of ups & downs, tears and hope, unknowns and new friends, hospital visits, long worrisome nights, wrestling with faith & hard questions, travels & bedrest, finally culminating in our baby boys’ early births & NICU stay, then home home home where — one year later — life is FINALLY seeming “normal”.

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One year later, our family is so much closer because of what we have gone through.

One year later, I get to spend my day with five joyful souls who are loud, cheery, and brimming with life.

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One year later, our life is still chaotic & unpredictable, but this time I have two almost-mobile, almost-sleeping-through-the-night boys to thank for that — not constant doctor appointments, hospital visits, or fear of the future.

One year later, I watched yesterday at an allergist appointment as Grayson gave open-mouthed slobbery kisses to the nurse who was holding him, while Noah gave me an open-mouthed slobbery kiss as the doctor was trying to talk to me, and I thought, “I love these kids.”

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One year later, I have the honor to take my boys to their nine-month check-up this afternoon, and as much as it is a lot of work, I am joyful that I get to do it.

One year later, I am a changed woman, who the past year saw God love us, and love us, and love us again through our family, friends, church community, and beyond.

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One year later, I am more in awe of Him & the way He works — how He unites the horrible, hard, and scary and somehow outlines it in beauty, shades it with goodness, and uses it to amplify His grace and love.

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