Teacher Gift Tags + Free All About Me Printable Book – UPDATED

We started our first day of homeschooling here this week, which has led to a few VERY busy days, but also very blessed days.

Our first day was pretty rough, but yesterday was really a great day, and I’m looking forward to this adventure God has in store for us.

A friend’s mom, and awesome woman of God, reminded me this week that “God doesn’t call the prepared, He prepares the called.” It brings tears to my eyes to just type it, because I can’t think of a better way to describe this journey we’re on. I felt anything but prepared Monday morning, but had no doubt that this was where He was calling me to be. I know it won’t be easy, but He promises we can do all things through Him. Praise God.

My little one (who is still doing a few mornings of preschool this year) summed up my emotions pretty well on Monday morning…

A little of “I’m really freakin’ excited”

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A little of “What the heck am I doing?!”

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And, thankfully, a little “Phew, we made it through the first day.”

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And here’s a sweet picture of my big girl on her “first day of school”

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And by the way, I should mention that she’s loving school. At one point I asked her if she was bored and she answered “No mama, I LOVE this!” That certainly makes it all worth while.

Now for the free printable! I know it’s nothing pretty, but I wanted to keep it simple so my girls could color it in themselves. This is an “All About Me” book that I hope to have the girls fill out at the start of every year. Whether you homeschool or not, you can use this as a fun keepsake for your kiddos as well (and it makes a great first day of school activity)!

Print each page, cut along the dotted lines, and use a tape runner or double-sided tape to secure the pages together, back-to-back. We then punched 3 holes on the left edge of each page and used book rings to put it all together!

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Our book in process:

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Lastly, if you’re looking for a gift idea for any teachers this year, I just put these fun lotion and nail polish tags up in my shop:

teacher gift, teacher appreciation, teacher gift tag, lotion gift tag, bottle gift tag, first day of school, lotion bottle tag, teacher lotion tag, back to school, gift for teachers

printable, teacher gift, teacher appreciation, nail polish gift tag, teacher gift tag, teacher polish tag, back to school, first day of school, last day of school, end of year gift, gift for teachers

And don’t forget the clipboard idea…there are instructions in my May Inspiration post. Here are the ones we made for our preschool teachers this year:

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UPDATE 5/27/15 – I have these fun new candle tags up in my shop now too!!

teacher gift, teacher appreciation, teacher gift tag, end of year gift, gift for teachers, teacher candle tag

Hope you enjoy!

Hugs to you this week ~ Sara

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As We Send Our Littles Off to School

“I pray for the bad days to be erased and for the great days to be magnified. But most of all I pray that it is the reality of Jesus that becomes the bedrock of their souls.” – Lysa TerKeurst

This week, and in the next few weeks to come, many mamas will send their littles off to school for the very first time, and many others will send their kiddos off for their very last-first day of school.

As we do, many of us will cry. Many will feel worried. Some of us will feel a loss of purpose, and others might feel regret for things we wish we could change. Maybe longing for just a little more time. Time to right what we wronged, time to do things a little bit better. Time to just sit and spend with our kids.

If you’re feeling thoughts like these, hold on sweet sister, and pray hard into these truths:

  • God is our Redeemer – He can redeem our failures. Our lost time. Our children. Us. He is our Beginning, and He is our End.
  • It’s never too late, no matter how old our kids are, to start making more time for what really matters. Every new day He gives us, we can choose to start over, and give our best with the time we have.
  • God loves our sweet children even more than we do, and we can fully trust them into His hands.
  • Finally, remember that God has a plan and a purpose for us all. Sending our kiddos off doesn’t take away our purpose. Our purpose is always the same – to glorify God. So let us pray to seek His will in our lives, and to glorify Him in all we do.

You’re a good mama, friend. You’ve made awesome memories with those kids of yours. Hold on tight to those memories, and look forward to all the new ones you will make together in the years to come.

Surrender to Him alone today, and in the days to come, and pray for the bad days to be erased, the great days to be magnified, and above all else, that Jesus will become the bedrock of our kids’ souls.

Hugs as you send your babies off (no matter how old they are) in the weeks to come ~ Sara

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This summer my big girl lost her first baby tooth, and…

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learned to ride her bike. Growing up so fast. Thankful for the sweet memories.

The Sound of the Wind + Free Scavenger Hunt Printable

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“I’d give up all the brushes in the world and my basic black skirt just to have her back. But some things you just can’t tie down.” – Beth Moore

Skimming through the book “Feathers From My Nest” by Beth Moore this morning. As with all her books, it’s an amazing read.

It’s a dreary day here today, and as I flip through the pages of this book, I’m reminded, even more so than normal, that the days with my girls are so fleeting. At the ages of just 5 and 4, I’m painfully and daily aware that these precious faces will all too soon be leaving our nest.

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“Since the first day my children went to Mother’s Day Out, I dreaded the proverbial empty nest like a terminal disease. I literally collapsed on the mailbox when the school bus had the gall to kidnap my kindergartners.” – Beth Moore

And although I’m so achingly aware of the shortness of this season in life, there are still many, regrettably even most, days that I don’t make enough time to really soak up the precious moments offered today.

This past Friday, I wasted away nearly a whole day cleaning my oven. I’ll save you the time and tell you baking soda and vinegar really does not work that well to clean an oven (at least not an oven as dirty as mine).

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I did eventually get my oven respectably clean, but the most redeeming part of my day was the hour break I took in the middle of this mess to really spend with my girls.

It’s a constant struggle for my distracted mind, but the moments when I completely detach from the world, and focus all of me on these girls…those are the moments that I feel completely overflowing with the love and grace of my Savior. Ahhh, yes…I can almost hear His whisper in the quiet of the wind.

We did a backyard scavenger hunt on what could arguably have been the best (weather) day ever, and somehow being out in all the glory of His creation made our time together even all the more awesome.

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We finished the scavenger hunt with some swinging. Ain’t many things better than watching pigtails blow in the wind and little faces light up after saying “yes, I will push you on the swings.”

It’s never too late to start making more time for what really matters. Start today and then wake up and start all over again tomorrow. His mercies are new everyday. Praise God.

Here’s the scavenger hunt we used. It has a great outdoor hunt on one side, and an indoor hunt on the other side. The girls loved it.

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Whatever you do today, keep God at the center, and commit to be all there.

Hugs ~ Sara

A Baby Shower

It’s been quiet here the last couple of weeks, as I’ve been working on a baby shower for my best friend.

The shower was Sunday, so I thought I’d share some snapshots with you for this week’s post.

First, a little background…

Marcia and I met in junior high…back when we were awesome enough to wear tube socks with: sandals and black tennis shoes…

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roller blades, swimsuits, and awesomely high-waisted jean shorts…

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and matching overalls…

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I am an only child, so when we met, Marcia quickly became the sister I’d always hoped for. We were inseparable for years.

Time, distance, and different seasons of life have changed our friendship over the last 18 years, but we always pick up right where we left off, and she remains the one friend who knows every detail about me, and is always the first to hear of any big news.

She’s the kind of friend who never judges, always forgives and forgets, loves no matter what, and is always there. In fact, she’s unknowingly taught me a lot about the love of Jesus over the years, by the patient, enduring love she’s always given.

I’m so thankful to have her in my life, and for all the years of memories we’ve had…here are some of our newest:

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the sweet mama…her dress matched the shower theme and baby’s room 🙂
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two of our other long-time friends, and shower planners
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love that smile
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we planned the party theme around the nursery: yellow, blue, gray, and chevron
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paper bag and fabric pennant banner inspired by one from Blue Cricket Design

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canvases to hang in the nursery

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game cards

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Marcia’s sweet mama and nieces
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more sweet family and friends

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Thanks Marsh, for always being the kind of friend I could ever only hope to be. A forever friend.

It was a privilege to help celebrate with you this weekend, and I can’t wait to meet that sweet little boy.

Hugs ~ Sara

Mama: When We Fail – God Redeems

This week I spent some time with a dear friend. I’m so thankful for her friendship because she’s honest. The kind of honest that reminds you that you’re not alone…that we all struggle…that I’m not the only one who thinks this mama thing can be really hard.

And it also reminded me that we mamas all need to lean on each other – for love, support, an ear to listen. God didn’t mean for us to do this life alone.

So this honest friend of mine tells me she feels hopeless. That some stuff is just too far gone…too late to fix. And my heart is screaming NO! It is never too late!

And then I realize that this is my story too. And it’s true for me. And it’s true for us all: It’s never too late. Never too far gone. Never beyond the healing hand of our Lord and Savior.

How awesome that what feels hopeless in our own lives, can become full of hope through the lens of another.

So thank you sweet sister for sharing your story, which is really my story too. And thank you for teaching me that what I know is full of hope in your life, must be hopeful in mine also.

The developer in me feels like I have to give you something more than just words each week. Something concrete that you can use to help you – like a list, calendar, schedule. I feel like I’m failing you if I don’t.

But this week I feel convicted to just share words. To you, to my dear friend, and to myself.

Words that God has put on my heart:

Dear Mama,

I know how hard this journey can be. I walk it with you everyday. I might not understand the details of your individual struggles – some more difficult, some less so – but I know that all of our lives have trying days, and hard seasons.

I know that you can feel hopeless. Lost. Like there’s no way to put back all that’s been broken. I feel it too. But we’re wrong.

God is our Advocate. The Perfecter of our faith. Our Comforter, Deliverer, Mediator, Physician, Purifier, Redeemer. Our Beginning, and our End.

Did you read that? Your God is your redeemer. He is capable to redeem all that is lost. He is your physician, capable to heal all that is broken.

Don’t let Satan convince you of anything less. Show him your faith is a faith that can move mountains.

All throughout the Bible, we read stories of heroes. Heroes who were desperately lost, desperately in need of grace, and desperately full of sin. And all throughout, God redeems them. The only requirement on their part was surrender. A surrender of themselves to God alone, and a cry out to Him for help.

We must cry out to our God for help. We can’t do this on our own sister. But God. He can heal it all. Do you believe it? Do you? Believe it.

He can redeem your failures. Your children. You. In this moment, at the end of this day, and at the end of everyday until He calls us home.

All that is required of us is a life of faith. We must love Him, and trust Him. Trust that He has a plan, and He can do all things.

And remember sweet mama that you were made for a greater purpose than all this. You were created for eternity. So when, in this life, you experience those feelings of hopelessness and loss, of defeat and failure, remember that those are tugs toward eternity…reminders that THIS is not our home.

We will never have it all figured out while we are here. We will never have it all together. But this doesn’t mean we can’t live a life full of faith, that can be passed on to our children. This doesn’t mean God can’t richly bless us and heal all that we have broken.

And sister, when you find yourself looking around, please know that anyone who makes it look easy isn’t being honest. All of us have different lives, but none of them are perfect.

The reality is that motherhood has seasons that are bare-boned hard, where all our days can seem to fly by in a crying, screaming, wrestling blur of failures and despair. But God is our redeemer. So keep your eyes looking up instead of all around, and surrender your life to Him…into His always open hands, capable of healing all that we mess up.

I love you sister. And I have full confidence that if you just look to your Creator, the One who created us, our children, all…then He can and He will redeem our lives when we ask.

So put on your armor this morning and ask God to be with you today. You’ve got this, and more importantly, so does God.

Hugs ~ Sara

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life is often not this peaceful and smiley, but we never take pictures of the bad or tough stuff, do we? Still, I’m thankful for these redeeming moments of grace.

Essential Family Life Habits – Part 3

This week I’ve realized that as I’ve been working on these schedules and plans, I’ve been neglecting to live in the present.

I keep thinking “As soon as I just finish all these schedules, THEN I will be better.”

Unfortunately, we’re not guaranteed tomorrow. We’re only guaranteed the one moment we’re in right now.

SO I’m praying to find a better balance between working on the things that will help me tomorrow, and still giving my very best during every moment today.

I don’t want all this scheduling to become an idol in my life, instead of becoming a tool to help me be better (like I originally intended).

And this is my prayer for you too – that if you are also working on better scheduling and planinng your days, that you too can find balance, and determination to live your very best day todayeven if you have no plan.

With Christ’s strength, we can do all things. ALL things. So chin up sisters. Keep your eyes looking up, and your heart in today, while we continue to work together on how we can be better every day.

All that being said, today is the third, and final part of the Essential Family Life Habits series. Today I’m going over the monthly, semi-annual, and annual activities to do with your family. Here they are:

Essential Life Habits for Your Family

Monthly

  • Eat dinner at your favorite restaurant – one night a month, have dinner out (and ice cream too) at your family’s favorite restaurant. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, but picking a regular place can be a fun tradition that your kids will look forward to every month.
  • Date alone with each child – one day or night every other month, have Dad take one child on a date, while you take your other child out. If you have more than two kiddos, rotate who gets to go on the dates each month. Again, this doesn’t have to even cost money! Be creative with what you take your kiddos to do (something they personally enjoy), but remember that what they will love the most is just getting to spend quality alone time with you!!
  • Date alone with each child and spouse – every other month (alternating with the dates alone) try to also take your kiddos on individual dates with both you and your spouse. This could also be a good opportunity for your other kiddo(s) to have a special day or sleepover with their grandparents, if they live close enough.
  • Spend time with other family – if you have other family members living close to you (siblings, parents, grandparents, etc.), visit them once a month. You could get together for dinner or an afternoon just hanging out, but make it a priority! If your family does not live close enough for monthly visits, make time to travel to see each other as often as you can.
  • Kids’ sleepover with grandparents – my girls love to have sleepovers with their grandparents. It’s fun and important for them, your parents, and you! Occasionally having a night with your kiddos away can really help to refresh everyone!

Semi-Annually & Annually

  • Make Christ the focus of holidays – start by asking the question – why do we do what we do?? Are you following any holiday traditions simply because it’s what you’ve always done or because it’s just what our society does? Challenge yourself to research and think about why you follow the traditions you do, and whether or not you want to pass them on to your children. Be bold and create your own family traditions that make Christ the center of it all! I hope to someday blog much more about this topic, but for an awesome resource in the meantime, check out: “Creating Family Traditions” by Shirley Dobson – I highly recommend it!
  • Give gifts to neighbors – this is an easy way to teach your kids to serve others. This year, the kids made bread and handmade cards at Easter, and fun baskets for May Day. They thought it was extremely fun to run the gifts to all our neighbors, and they got so excited when they saw everyone’s faces. One of the coolest parts was when one of our neighbors dropped off little thank you gifts and cards to the girls a few weeks later – they about peed their pants! 🙂
  • Write thank you notes – I am honestly horrible, awful, terrible at this. I don’t know if it’s my short attention span or what for sure, but I just often neglect to write these important notes! There have been several times, in fact, where I’ve written almost all the notes, but by the time I get close to finishing them, I feel like it’s too late to mail them! Anyway, I know it’s important to thank people, and this is an old habit that I want to teach to my kids. I think next time we need to write the notes, I’m going to focus on keeping them simple, and sincere, and letting the kids do most of the work!
  • Create regular family traditions – in addition to keeping Christ at the center of holidays, also work to create other non-holiday related family traditions that will create memories for your kiddos to remember when they are older. This can be as simple as having spaghetti for dinner every Friday, or reading books before bed every night. Think through the activities you already do as a family, decide which ones you could commit to do on a regular basis, and make a tradition out of them! Or, again, check out the “Creating Family Traditions” book for many other ideas.
  • Go on a mission trip – once a year, try to do some bigger kind of serving/volunteering opportunity with your family. This could be overseas, or down the street…expensive, or free. For a super awesome resource, check out Adventures in Missions: http://www.adventures.org/
  • Take a vacation – like a mission trip, you can make this whatever you want. It could be a trip somewhere, or a simple camping weekend in your backyard. Whatever it is, commit to not working for a whole weekend, or week…completely unplug, and spend some important quality time together as a family!
  • Kids’ yearly doctor checkups
  • Kids’ semiannual dentist visits

Here’s the recap of the complete habit list in case you missed it in the last two posts:

Essential Family Life Habits

If you’re working on your own list of habits that are important to your family, here’s a blank template you can use.

Once you finish your list, I think the next step would be to use it to make a monthly family habit calendar, and then daily schedules.

I stayed up way too late the last two nights working on all of this (not smart)! I know it doesn’t look like much, but you know how things take WAY longer to finish when you’re half asleep?? 🙂 Here’s our monthly habit calendar for next school year:

Monthly Habit Calendar

And here’s a blank template if you would like to use it to make your own monthly habit calendar.

Then, when you fill out a monthly calendar at the start of each month, include all of your habits on it! Here’s a blank calendar for the month of July.

When I started working on our daily schedule for next school year, I decided our days vary enough that  it would be easier if we had a separate schedule for each day. So far I’ve just finished our schedules for Monday. I did one for me, and one for the girls:

Monday School Schedule - Mom Monday School Schedule - Kids

Here’s a blank daily schedule for you to use too 🙂

Remember when you do your daily schedule to include time for your daily cleaning chores…here’s a complete list of what to include.

That’s it for today. Remember to take all of this one step at a time. Work on it a little each day, and still make living for Jesus today your main mission.

Hugs ~ Sara