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 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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A Longing for God Minibook

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This minibook is very dear to my heart. I completed this minibook over a year ago, and it is still one of my favorites. I love using minibooks to not only record special times in my life, special  days, or seasons, but also as a “house” for  verses & spiritual encouragement.

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This idea for this minibook was prompted by two quotes from my favorite book on homeschooling, Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay & Sally Clarkson. These quotes stirred my heart as a mother who spends all day with her children…

“…your first responsibility as a parent is to lead your children to the life-giving presence and reality of Christ in your heart and home. Your desire should be to implant a longing in their spirits for God that can be satisfied only with the water and bread of life in Christ. No matter how good your church may be, a few hours each week cannot create the longing for Christ that God has uniquely designed you to impart to your children. You are to be the primary life-giving presence of Christ to your children, through his Spirit living and working in your life as a Christian parent and through his Word, just as Christ imparted life to those who came into contact with him: ‘The words I have spoken to your are spirit and are life.’”

And —

“Your children are asking you to give them a taste of real spiritual life-the same life of the Spirit that they see at work in your own heart. They want to learn from you not just how to live for Christ, but also how they can have the life of Christ they see in you in your own lives.”

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What could I pray over my children that would help “implant a longing in their spirits for God” as the book said? I spent months pondering that question & collecting my favorite verses that have, in my own spiritual path, breathed Life into my spirit & helped me hunger for the presence of God. These verses are beautiful, powerful, comforting, & challenging to me.

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I combined it with my favorite pictures I had taken over the course of the girls’ lives. (When I finished this, I had not yet discovered I was expecting our twin boys!–but I sure want to make them a minibook like this, too!)

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Cherished photos & cherished verses… my favorite combination.

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The mint + gold + gray color combination is also one of my favorites!

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Valentine’s Decorations

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Other than some chalkboard verses hanging on the wall, we have never decorated for Valentine’s Day. This year, though, my oldest (she’s 6 1/2) wanted a few decorations.

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So I pulled out a simple paper + doily banner from a few years ago, some lovely Valentine’s artwork our favorite babysitter made with the girls last year…

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…and wrote out one of my favorite phrases from one of our favorite children’s Bible, the Jesus Storybook Bible…

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We’ve been reading the book of Matthew from The Message & stories from The Jesus Storybook Bible during our lunch — it has become a great time to slow down, listen, and chat over what we’ve read.

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Annalou was pretty satisfied with our very simple Vday display!

 

A repost: Vday Chalk + Thoughts

Last year’s Valentine’s Day, I was in the grip of twin pregnancy nausea, and my own memory of Vday is only that a sweet friend who watched the girls for me helped them each make a sweet Valentine’s Day surprise for me, which is already on display this year! : )

This is a repost from two years ago. Rereading this post was what I needed to give me that push to brainstorm & plan celebrating Valentine’s Day with the girls this year. I am still working out what we will do for that day, but reading this gave me a great place to start!

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Rust & I have never gone crazy over Valentine’s Day for various reasons. We’ve never done anything fancy, and the first Valentine’s after we had gotten engaged, we began the tradition of just staying in & enjoying take-out pizza. In a sense, we kind of “skip” Valentine’s Day every year. The day is just not a big deal. Yet this year was the first year I awakened to the fact that even if I don’t feel like I need an over-commercialized day to be a time for me to be validated & affirmed that I am loved & remembered, I have three little hearts who are constantly looking to be filled up with love & delight. I have three very big, very precious love tanks in need of filling! And while Rust & I seek to do this daily, through our care & nurture of our little girls, why not GO BIG on Valentine’s Day? Especially since Anna was brimming with excitement over pink & hearts & little cards & sweets?

So, my goals for this Valentine’s Day became:

  • Share with them God’s deep, incredible, steadfast, overflowing love for them.
  • Share with them that we treasure, love, and delight in them, because they are our precious daughters and because God gave them to us.
  • Help them see that they have so much love to give to those around them, and that we can love freely, because God freely loves us; and that by loving others, we not only impart God’s love, but we also express our love for God.

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So we made pink cupcakes with red sprinkles for ourselves & for friends and family. We cut out hearts & colored them for others & delivered them around our neighborhood. We had a pj day because the girls love their jammies. We talked about verses from the Bible of God’s amazing love (on the chalkboard above). We appreciated the sweet Valentine’s cards & treats & gifts from friends & family. Rust surprised the girls with heart balloons (Anna’s favorite!). And we followed an inspiring mom‘s example and did a little experiment to illustrate God’s love pouring over us. (She has other great ideas I can’t wait to try in the years to come!) (She is one of my favorite bloggers!!)

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I’m so thankful my girls’ infectious excitement helped change my ho-hum attitude about Valentine’s Day. I’m thankful they spent the day in eager anticipation for what was next. I overheard Anna say to Noelle, “I just LOVE Valentine’s Day!” I do, too, now, little girl, thanks to you!

Documenting Your Love Story with Minibooks

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Two years ago I shared four ways to document your love story with minibooks. Looking through these again reminded me a) it’s probably time to do a Love Letters Vol. II and b) I love Rust-&-me-centered minibooks! We’re so covered up with kids now we hardly get any pictures of just us! ; )

Here are the posts if you want inspiration on documenting your own love story!

Let Me Count the Ways Minibook

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Love Letters

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30 Reasons I Love You

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5 Years Anniversary Mini

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Cupcake Liner Award Badges

Cupcake Liner Badges

Last week the girls and I made a simple little craft — cupcake liner badges! Fun + festive. They’ve been playing giving each other imaginary awards for all sorts of non-existent contests: the waffle contest (who eats their waffles the fastest), the sock contest (who puts on their socks the fastest), etc., etc.  They would take play coins and tape them to themselves — which is fun & imaginative! But I thought we could try our hand at award badges so they could have something more “real” to use.

Here’s what my Pinterest feed looked like for a few days while I gathered ideas — so much inspiration!

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I only used what cupcake liners I had. Polka dotted & striped liners would have been beautiful! But this is all we had so we made it work. : )

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We just flipped the cupcake liners inside out, layered them, then the top layers because all my liners were the same size. Then the girls added a spot of glue between each layer. I helped cut out cardstock paper for the tails, and then remembered I had a bag of scrap ribbons for the last one. Then we added a heart or flower or circle on the top. Simple!

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(Does anyone else let their kids wear pj’s straight through the month of January??)

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I then taped part of a large safety pin to the back so we could pin them to their clothes.

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Three Valentine’s Minibooks

Valentine’s Day is drawing closer! I remembered I had these three little mini’s that I made up during the summer: they are perfect for a little gift to your loved one!

These are different from any other minibooks I’ve offered in that most pages in the kits already come with simple embellishments: all you need to add are your photos (3×3 or 2×2 Instagram photos would be perfect!) + words + anything else to ‘finish’ the pages!

You & Me Mini $10.00

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Love Notes Mini $10.00

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The Story Mini $10.00

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