Sunday, June 26, 2011

May He Turn our Hearts to Him

As I was reading in 1 Kings 8 this week, I came across Solomon’s beautiful prayer of dedication for the temple:

“…May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may he never leave us nor forsake us.  May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep the commands, decrees and regulations he gave our fathers... so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and there is no other.”

A friend just asked me a few days ago if Matt and I had some kind of a family verse.  Wish I wasn’t behind in my chronological reading so that I could have claimed this one!  (Oops.)

I totally want to paint it on something and hang it up it in my home!  For the painted/posted version, I think I would word it like this:

Love that.  May it the prayer of my heart!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day Crafting

Ta Da!

For Father's Day, I decided to make the snack jars that Cheri from I Am Momma- Hear Me Roar guest posted at Kojo Designs.  These:


So cute, right!  Our crazy craft corps reunited, (this time armed with jars, paper crafting supplies, and EIGHT whippersnappers), for some utter chaos fun and artistry.  For Reed's jars, I couldn't decide if I wanted to use three pictures of Reed with different facial expressions (sweet, salty, and sour?), or one picture of Reed, one of Matt and Reed, and one of all of us.  After searching through my pictures I found I just didn't have many great choices on hand, so instead of sets of three jars I made one larger, "themed" snack jar for each father in Reed's life.  This is what we ended up with--one for Reed's Daddy, one for Reed's Pops, and one for Reed's Papa:

I had saved a few sauce jars, as Cheri suggested in her tutorial, but when I found these great canister-like ones for half off at Hobby Lobby, I knew they were the perfect size for my one jar approach.  I also don't own a cricut so I decorated the jars in straight-up scrapbook page style.  This was a pretty simple project, but I will show you a closer look anyway...

Papa, who likes fishing, got this jar of "Reed's Fishin' Bait" (aka Papa's favorite caramel cremes).  I added some twine around the top of the jar and cut out a fish tag from the leftover paper-- the back of the fish bling says Father's Day 2011.  (I used a clear hole reinforcer on the back of the punched hole to strengthen the tag).

Pops likes pistachios, so we made him a jar that says "Nuts for Pops" (...get it?!) :)

For Matt, we made a Georgia Bulldogs themed jar, of course.  So Daddy got "Reed's Dawg Treats" to take to his new desk at work today, which also happens to be his very first day at his new gig!  How fun and fitting!  Matt's gift also came with an ongoing contract; when Daddy's treats run low, Reed will be obligated to make a visit to the office to stock Daddy's snack jar! :)  Oh, and the football tag reads "#1 Dad," and is attached with elastic cording, since the UGA jar doesn't really have a twine-y vibe.

I love this funny little detail on Matt's jar:

Can you read it?  It is a sticker that says officially licensed collegiate product- ha ha.  (And, yes, as you can see on the back of the jar in the above picture, you will need to join together two pieces of even the 12X12 size scrapbook paper is you use big jars like I did.)

Hope you had a great Father's Day Weekend!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Month Days & Photo Project

My friend Lauren celebrates her kids' "Month Days" …as in, today would be Reed’s 15 Month Day.  (Yay for Reed!)  Today also marks the 3rd “month day” that I have not taken the diaper picture.  You know, THE diaper picture:

I originally got the idea to take these photos of Reed from someone else’s newborn snapshots on Facebook.  True to my habit, I became a little obsessed and took a picture every Wednesday for quite some time.  As Reed's growth slowed down, picture day changed from every week to every couple of weeks and then to just each month day.

Aside from educating you about month days, the point of this blog post (I think?) is to share my picture project with you.  Concerning said project, I have good news and bad news.  Which do you want first?  Okay, the bad news is that I didn’t really start with a full-blown plan for these photos and should have done lots of things differently.  For one, had I known I was going to continue the pictures past Reed's first few weeks, I would have been more consistent with placement and depth so that the shots would be easy to track and compare.  Also, next time around I won’t use the crib as the setting—it is hard to get a good angle from over the top of the railing, especially as your baby grows.  Plus, when Reed got older he would wail about being put in the crib; apparently he didn’t understand that photo time was different than nap time.

One time, I bribed him with a sandal.  He ate part of it.

Another time, a toothbrush was the bait.  That worked a little better... provided you want your child photographed with a toothbrush in hand.  Classy.

Now for the good news.  The good news is that I did find something fun to do with all of the pictures besides pore over them on occasion!  For Reed’s 1st Birthday Party in March (aka his 12 month day), I planned a “grow” banner out of all of his diaper pictures.  It was a fun and sentimental way to display how much he had changed in that first year.  And it doubled as party decor.  I don’t have a great picture of the whole banner because it was super long, but here it is being strung along the back deck with twine and mini clothespins.  (Special thanks to Gram and Aunt Em for hanging up all of the pictures, and to Em for the twine idea!) :)

The how-to is pretty easy-peasy: I simply printed the pictures onto card stock with alternating colored borders to match the party colors.  Of course, you could be as creative as you want with your banner-- much more fancy, and in any shapes and colors.  Here is a shot of the pile of printed pictures:

...Actually there is even more good news!  Better news!  The Petersiks, of the widely known Young HouseLove blog, have a version of the week/month picture project that puts mine to shame!  You can check it out here, and the birthday party follow-up here.  For the record, please note that Reed was born a couple of months before Clara and thus started his shoots and celebrated his birthday first, so I am pretty certain that they used my idea.  HA!  Yeah right.  But, how I wish I could have used theirs!  Brilliant.

Young House Love source

One last question: Any good ideas on what I should/could do with the card stock images from Reed’s Birthday Banner??

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Father's Day Ideas

Of course, I can't post my Father’s Day goodies for this year until after they've been gifted on Sunday.  (Don’t worry, if you like the idea you can bookmark it for next year!)  However, I can safely reminisce about last year's festivities, and then dazzle you with a parade of creative gift inspirations from the craftiest of minds.  You game?

Father’s Day 2010

Last year, I was so excited to dress our little sugar booger in these Daddy-friendly threads:

It reads, "Daddy is my Super Hero"

I made coffee cake for breakfast, and Reed (later) presented Matt with a new shirt and tie...

...made of iced brownies.  Probably didn’t fool ya’!  They weren’t anything spectacular; I just used what I had on hand for decorating.  But I thought the idea was so cute, especially since Matt actually wore a tie to work everyday at the time.  The original example, in the June 2008 issue of "Better Homes and Gardens," calls for some additional ingredients and trappings, and is much lovelier than my rendition. :)

BHG, June 2008, p.222

I gave Matt a card from me, and one from “Reed,” and I don’t actually even remember his gift—we probably told him to take a day to play golf??  Like I've mentioned before, it is not super easy to buy gifts for my hubs.

Inspiration & Ideas

Okay, thank you for indulging me.  Without further ado, check out this roundup of awesome Father's Day gift ideas:

For a golfing Dad, this green-themed gift that Lindsey from Inspiring Creations shared at tatertots & jello is simply perfect!

Posted as a Valentine’s Day Idea at PaperVine, this card deck booklet would also make a wonderful forum to celebrate Dad with 52 favorite things about him!  (The author says there are several versions out there and hers is not the original, but I love the look of her finished product!)

Also check out “Sampling of Why We Love Dad” at eighteen25.  So so cute and very adaptable!

Oh me, I just LOVE this.  Framed Hand Prints from Tres French Hens.  I will probably make this for myself!

 These AWesome Dad labels for part of a gift basket for Dad at nothing but country are great!  I have a soft spot for corny. :)  And I bet you could come up with something similar to go along with a favorite treat of the Dad you are celebrating!

Happy Father’s Day!

"Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope" -Bill Cosby

Saturday, June 11, 2011

5th Anniversary and Gift Ideas

Friday was our 5th wedding anniversary!

June 10, 2006

Crazy.  For our anniversary, Matt and I don't usually exchange big gifts; we typically just plan a nice evening together to celebrate.  This year, Matt came home from work with 2 dozen red roses... (As we pulled away in the car, he wanted me to guess how much they cost... $7, compliments of a nice Kroger associate... My husband, folks).  This year, we went to dinner at Shillings and spent the evening on the Marietta Square.

Side Note:  My parents watched Reed during our date-- for 5 hours.  Reed waved goodbye to us when we drove away, and according to report, didn't cry or even ask about us for the rest of the evening.  I am not sure whether to be really happy or a little sad...  I'll be really happy, I guess!

 Inspired by my friend Ashley who celebrated her 5th anniversary a week before ours, I decided to get a little creative this year.  I made Matt five anniversary cards to give to him throughout the evening.  The first card had a picture of us on our first anniversary, and in it I wrote all about our first year of marriage--favorite memories, hobbies, haunts, etc.  I made a card for each of our five years of marriage.  I gave Matt the cards at different points during our date, and it was really fun to reminisce together; of course, we came up with lots of additional memories and funny stories as we talked!

I also paired each of the cards with an envelope that defined one of the five love languages, and contained a corresponding "gift."  I tried to put them in order of (my guess at) Matt's love languages, so I'll order them (descendingly) that way here:

Year 1
No pic from date, but here's our frozen wedding cake!
 Words of Affirmation- I wrote Matt a note about my favorite things about him.  You could also use a "top ten" qualities format, or even a collage of kind words about your spouse.

Year 2
Dinner at McCormick & Schmick's
 Quality Time- Inside this envelope, I started a list of ways to spend time together.  This was somewhat inspired by another friend's recent blog post about becoming a tourist in your own city.  Matt and I added to the list over dinner, dividing our ideas into 3 broad categories: Dream-type ideas (vacations/travels), Everyday go-to's (movies to see, restaurants to try), and Weekend ideas (more the staycation type items).  You could also actually buy tickets, book a tour, or make a reservation for something that you and your significant other would enjoy doing together.

Year 3
Went to Elevation Chop House for Year 3
 Acts of Service- I made Matt a "Let me do that for you" coupon, redeemable for help with tasks for work, around the house, etc.  It was kind of a joke because acts of service is much more a love language I "hear" than one I speak... I would much rather Matt wait on me than the other way around!  I put some silly jargon in fine print that had a maximum redemption value of 5 uses, that requests were subject to discretionary review, and any attempt to reproduce the coupon rendered it null and void.  Another idea is to be more specific in your offer to do something for your spouse-- like cut the grass or wash his car... of course that would mean you have real intentions of actually doing the work! ha ha.

Year 4
I cried at diner b/c I missed Reed! Oops.

Physical Touch- Even though by definition the Physical Touch love language is about a lot more than bedroom, I will let you think of what you might put in this envelope! :)

Year 5
 @Marietta Square
 Gifts- Obviously, you could choose any kind of thoughtful gift for your spouse for this one.  Matt isn't a huge gifts person and is actually really hard to buy for, so I dug up this list of life values and corresponding goals that he and I wrote during our pre-marital counseling as a sort of gift to us.  I annotated the document, and we laughed our heads off at not only how epically we failed in most categories, but also how ridiculous they were.  We had some good conversation around how our lives and schedules had changed (Reed!), and how some of the goals we still wanted to hold on to could be reshaped to fit in our current reality.  Actually, now that I am writing this, it is pretty neat to think about how the values are still spot on, but only the practical ideas we detailed them with needed realignment!

Because I know you want this blog post to keep getting longer, here are our 5 Life Values:
(I am not going to include the 15 goals/how-tos under each one because they are really ridiculous and embarrassing!)

1. We are committed to consistently growing in our marriage relationship--learning to love each other more each day.
2. We desire to individually and jointly experience an ever-deepening spiritual journey in Christ.
3. We want to be wise stewards of time, money, health, and talent.
4. We aspire to purposeful relationships with friends and family; we believe community is a significant means of spiritual growth and life change.
5. We value committing ourselves to a church family as dedicated, contributing members.

...Here's to Year Six!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A New Hat!

I have a new “hat” to don…


Just kidding with the picture, but we do have a new ministry adventure ahead!  After much prayer and processing this spring, Matt accepted a position as Pastor to Families at our church, Sanctuary.  His role will include ministry to children and students, as well as partnering with parents/families.  Matt is wrapping up some training and loose ends at PPA Advisors and will be in the Sanctuary office full time in a couple of weeks.  We are excited and look forward to trusting Christ as He continues to lead us in this journey called life...

The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes His steps. –Proverbs 16:9

On a different note, changing jobs means changing insurance carriers, and I am officially on the hunt for new doctors.  If you have a pediatric, adult, or ob/gyn practice (preferably in the West Cobb area) that you are crazy about and would highly recommend, I would LOVE to hear from you!  You can comment here or email me at daniellenmorgan[at]gmail[dot]com.  Thanks!!

Have a great week!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Notebook

It is officially time to bid farewell to my "Reed notebook."

This notebook began with a hospital packing list and birth plan notes, continued with Matt's scribbled timing of contractions on 3/16/10, and really found its calling keeping track of newborn Reed's first feedings and "wets & dirties."

Once at home with our bundle of joy, I kept the notebook by our glider in the nursery to log feedings as we navigated the early weeks.  I added extra notes in the margins, things like "*holding head up well" and "smiles???"  Then, slowly but surely, it happened.  I became addicted.  Long after we had established a feeding routine, I was still writing down the time and which side I nursed on.  (I'm talking into September, people).  I wrote down each time Reed had a bath and sometimes a description of his poop.  I recorded every new solid food-- what and when.  On the one hand, I was determined to have accurate and usable records to refer back to should we embark on this adventure again.  On the other hand, the notebook was my rough draft baby book, and I wanted to cherish it all!  I have even made note of when each of his twelve teeth have broken through.  My sister tried to stage an intervention at that point: "people only care about the first tooth, you know!" :)  ...My name is Danielle Morgan, and I'm a babynotes-aholic.

I eventually phased out the written feeding and diaper schedule; Reed was on almost all table food, after all.  I relaxed into a socially acceptable pace of jotting down some milestones here and there, and compiling a list of new "tricks" at each month's end.  But no one prepared me for what came next.

Shortly after his first birthday, Reed found his feet and -boom- turned into a toddler.  I had zero warning about the brain explosion that is toddlerhood.  Did you know that between birth and age 2 a child's brain grows from 1/4 adult size to 3/4 adult size?  And that two-year-olds have twice the number of synapses that adult brains have... trillions!  I can't keep up.  At first I would rush to my notebook and try to write down all of the funny looks, sounds, and feats.  But this was far more intense than the occasional "waves bye" and "gives high fives" of yore.  I had come to a moment of letting go.  That, or the early stages of chronic writer's cramp.

My parents watched Reed for us a few weeks ago and said that they tried to let him stay up and play, but he pointed to his crib and said "night-night."  I told them that was cute, but Reed doesn't know how to say night night.  I asked Reed about it the next day, and he promptly corrected my false intel.

Reed babbled all the time as an infant and said his first several words on the early side.  Now, at 14 months he says over fifty(!) words (including my favorites- bumblebee and puppy), and adds new words almost daily.  I just can't help myself... I still want to get out the video camera and capture forever the precise way his sweet little mouth pronounces each new syllable of each word.

He knows his body parts too (belly, feet, hands, hair, eyes, nose, ears, tongue, and teeth) and will gladly tell you the noises his favorite animals make, although cats says "ow" and cows "boo."

I smuggled Reed into the Sr. High Bible study at our friends' home Sunday night, but he "started singing off key" during worship so we decided to retreat upstairs.  As we were leaving the kitchen, he pressed his index finger to his lips, smooshing his nose, and started going "sssh! sss!"  Where did he even learn that?!

During a recent trip to Publix, I pushed the cart over to the bakery and asked for one of the free cookies for "Reed."  As soon as he saw it, he started yelling "gookie!"  Reed has had probably two tiny bites of cookie in his entire life and never even held a whole one, so I wasn't sure where the enthusiastic chant came from, but oh well.  Now this was a full size cookie, so being the responsible Mom who wants to limit her child's sugar intake, I broke a piece off for myself.  Big Mistake.  Wailing, tears flowing, Reed started pointing at me and crying "gookie."  If I could have reproduced the (tiny!) piece of cookie from my stomach, I would have.  You can imagine my reticence when strangers started the typical "Oh, what's the matter little guy?"  Can I get away with nothing anymore?

I know, I know the many years ahead will be comprised of story after story as Reed learns and grows and becomes a little boy.  But it just happens so fast!  It still gets me when my "baby" runs to fridge on his own two feet and knock-knocks for a "snack."  And it catches me off guard when he cheers for the slide as we pass by a playground.

Nevertheless, I know that it is time...  So the newborn notebook is officially being retired.

(Rest assured, I'll be back to let you know if he recites the Declaration of Independence or splits an atom anytime soon).

But in the meantime, I am breaking ties with my cataloging addiction.  I, Danielle Morgan, hereby resolve from this day forward to only record the funniest and most important babybook-worthy stories and milestones.  I know, that's vague, but I think I can hold to it.  Plus, I've reached the last page of my notebook! :)

*On a serious note, the notebook was a useful idea that I would definitely implement again to keep baby scheduling notes, and especially as a way to easily jot down "firsts" and "funnies" that can later be transferred into a baby book.  I have also heard of parents with multiple children who keep various colors of index cards (a specific color for each child) in an accessible place so that they can jot down the date and record milestones or humorous anecdotes as they occur.  Make memories! :)