Magdalen’s 6th Birthday // Sewing + Craft Party

As I’m sure my friends will remember (how could you not), Magdalen’s FIFTH birthday party was not held until 6.5 months after her real birthday. So in reality, she just had 2 birthday parties in less than 6 months on this end. Ridiculous, I am aware. Ugh.

Her fifth party was something I had been planning for a long time and it just kept getting delayed and moved and the weather never cooperated, etc. I was over it, so finally in July I just picked a date and we did it. The weather ended up being sunny, but stickily warm, but it was a magical day for our sweet girl.

This year, I am trying to keep up with things like this and do them in a more timely fashion. Ahem. Hold me to it, friends. For real.

Maggie turned 6 on December 31 and since that is a holiday already and the week before is a huge holiday, we just wait until after to throw her any kind of celebration. Also, because we had just hosted a massive 65-guest party for Chad’s 40th birthday in early December, I was a little bit partied out on huge crowds. Specifically a children’s party. You know what I mean.

I knew it might end up being tricky this year with her having an entire class of kids and then add in the other friends from other classes and friends that don’t even go to their school….and on and on. I told Chad that I didn’t know what to do and it was about a week and a half before the possible birthday party date. He said, just invite the couple of families that she is closest to and be done. It was almost like I had to have permission to not invite everyone and their mother. Literally.

So Maggie and I talked about it and she was fine with it because all she cared about was that we could do some sewing and crafts with some friends. We had her and Maddox, four family friends that go to multiple other schools and her closest two friends (boys) from her class. I still felt guilty not inviting any of the little girls in her class, but I made myself get over it. We needed “simple” desperately. I didn’t even break out my real camera, guys. I just took some photos with my iPhone and called it a night. That’s what these are. Not the best, but it’s documented and done. Boom.

I moved far away from the type of kid parties that I normally attend or host where you feed them a meal and many, many desserts and a few different types of drink and you give them detailed party favors and it’s just a madhouse.

Instead, I honestly put myself in Maggie’s shoes for a second and tried to imagine what would make her the happiest. And I saw the light! Hallelujah! ;)

She just wanted to have a few friends over, eat some sweets, and do an activity and open presents. Novel idea, huh? Haha!

I forced myself to plan this party and buy any supplies needed on the day just before the party so that I wouldn’t get too wrapped up in the details and spending more.

(I found the above paper lanterns at Target on clearance last week before the party. And let’s just be real here and realize that I bought most everything from Target. I can’t help myself. Everything on the table below is from Target. Except for the actual crafts and blue baskets. Mostly clearance. You would crack up if you knew how much each thing cost me. I am a clearance magnet, I tell you.)

Her party was on a Saturday night, so on Friday the kids and I drove down to Nashville Sweets Shop and just randomly picked up whatever dozen cupcakes they had made. I also purchased an assortment of their cake pops. (We ate these on New Year’s Eve and I already knew they were delicious!)

We bought frozen canned juice and mixed it up with water and Sprite and had that in a dispenser and one with plain water. For a few extra snacks for parents that stayed, I brought out all of the leftover Christmas party and Chad’s party snacks from the pantry and the freezer and put those out. If I ran out, oh well. I wasn’t there to serve a feast and fill up any adults anyway. I scheduled this party from 4-6pm so they could go home and eat dinner. I am not messing around this year when I say I’m going simple, people. I just used what I had.

Remember parties when we were kids? Your parent dropped you off and said ‘I’ll be back in two hours!’ and then you played whatever pre-arranged games the parent or kid had planned, then they served you cake & ice cream after singing happy birthday and then you watched your friend open their presents. Done and done. Parents picked you up and it was over. You probably had a soda, had a plastic bag filled with a lollipop and a pencil and you were excited. Am I right? Yeah, I thought so. (I’ll write more on this phenomenon in the near future, because I’ve got a lot to say on it. Not to say I don’t love a great event. But just for kids….it’s getting a little out of control. More later.)

Decorations were minimal, food was minimal, and the crafts were simple but fun. (Again, thinking like a 6 year old.) I took Maggie and Maddox shopping for the extra craft supplies and helped them decide what would be the most fun to do. Here is what they decided:

  1.  Burlap pencil pouch and a plastic “needle” to sew their initial on OR decorate with markers. I didn’t care what they did with it. (I found the burlap pouches in my office from two years ago.)
  2. Wooden trees from Michael’s to use markers on. The youngest kids ate this up! I had no idea. 
  3. Wooden spool of jute to do whatever you want with. (From the dollar section at Michael’s.)
  4. Paper mask. We picked butterflies for girls and people faces for the boys. They LOVED it. 
  5. Beads. I bought a couple small bags of letter beads and football beads and colored wooden beads and those kids went to town. I purchased pre made plastic bracelets to thread the beads onto so they could do it themselves. Maddox made a blue and white I <3 Titans bracelet and most kids did their name. 

Maggie and my mom put each person’s craft basket together and laid them out for me and Maggie gathered all of the supplies I asked for, so it was almost as if she set up her own party with my supervision. I laid all of the art supplies in metal trays on two sides of the table. Other than the little basket of craft supplies for each of them to use, I wanted it pretty much to be a free-for-all in the crafting department. That’s where kids’ creativity shows up anyway. I told them they could do whatever they want, even use their little paper placemat to cut and draw on. They were so excited! I think they are so used to being told specific instructions for activities that at first they just sort of looked at everything, but when they got started on whatever they wanted to do first, they were into it, ha!

Maggie gets really intense when she’s crafting. Hardcore Crafter.

We had to actually tear them away from the craft table to come to the living area and sing to Maggie and blow out candles. Trick candles, my bad. And I don’t have even one photo of that, just a little phone video, and I’m not going to let it bother me. New Amanda. NEW AMANDA.

She opened her few little adorable gifts with her friends and it wasn’t overwhelming! Yay!

This party was genius, I tell you, and I’m okay with tootin’my own horn about it. I did it! I went simple. It was a success. The kids had fun and we celebrated Maggie and focused on just her. Eight kids at a party was THE BEST. I’m not saying I won’t do a big party again. I know I will. But I wasn’t ready at this point and that’s okay. 

The above picture just weirded me out for some reason. Haha! The next day, Magdalen and I were driving in the car together and out of nowhere she just said, “Mommy? Thank you for letting me have a sewing & craft party. It was so so so much fun with my friends.” My heart melted, just like any parent’s would, and I realized just how special it was for her. And that was my whole intent to begin with.

Now, off to mentally plan Maddox’s February birthday party….

xoxo, Amanda

Good Morning, 2015.

Good morning, new year.

I have a lot on my mind today. Some things are small, some things are larger. But that’s nothing new. I usually have a ton of different things going on inside my head on any given day.

2014 was an interesting year in many ways. Some unexpected things happened for us and also some expected things happened that still threw my mom-heart around in unexpected ways. Imagine that. ;) But we made it through. (A sincere “Thank you, Lord!”)

Chad and I celebrated 15 years of marriage and we celebrated our 18th Christmas season together. In recent months, we have learned a new way to be married. We realized that we had been doing it all wrong for quite some time due to our weird schedules and we have upped our “marriage game”, so to speak. Because of this, being married feels new again. And I’m ready to take my new realization of being a wife into this new year and beyond. Somehow, getting married so young mixed with being a parent had dulled my thoughts on anyone but myself and taking care of our children on survival mode and now I feel like I’m waking up for the first time. I’m still wrapping my mind around it and it is exciting for our future together!

In all honesty, I’m thankful it’s a new year. The changing of the year on the calendar doesn’t really mean that much in the grand scheme of things, but to someone like me – someone who needs a very clear beginning and an end of something in her vision – it does mean something.

I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type of person, while at the same time I like to loosely have a plan so I can anticipate upcoming happenings. I’m forcing myself to make tiny goals coming up and see where it takes me.

That’s what this coming weekend and next week will be about for me. Loosely planning ahead. Please send up prayers of wisdom for me as I make future career moves and decisions. I abhor failure and it stops me from using my full potential almost every single day. It also halts me from making decisions about life in general. I’m ready to change that even if it means to possibly fail, even if everyone I know is aware of it. That’s okay. I’m learning that.

My full-time child-rearing days are over. It’s time for the next chapter for me. For real this time, friends. Our baby turned 6 years old last night and I kind of wanted to cry. Instead of crying, we celebrated small at home with just the four of us. It was a party, I tell ya. ;)

So, here’s to the old friends that we take into the new, old times past that we’ll remember fondly and the new times ahead that can prove to make us better people this year.

For auld lang syne…it was all worth it.

xoxo, Amanda



minted // what i found

{source: minted}

Hello Friends!

I am in love with this season of festivities and giving and joy and life! Even if it does fall in the winter, my least loved season. ;) Aaaaand, one of my favorite seasonal topics is this: I want to talk Christmas greetings/cards today. 

I began doing Christmas cards to send all of my friends way back in high school. I loved snail mail (which back then was just called “mail”, um, hello) and I was obsessed with paper and stamps and handwriting, etc.

Then I got married and I will never forget the first photo-type Christmas greeting that I ever sent out from Chad and myself. It was a corny, funny heavily-photoshopped photo of us layered over some fake cactus in the background with some photoshopped santa hats on our heads. We sent those babies out like it was the best thing we had ever seen. (If I can find a copy of it, I will post it here, because it is pretty epic.) We mainly sent that out because we had just moved across country that summer from Tennessee to Arizona, hence the funny cactus background, and didn’t know a soul. That was in 2001 and I have been crazy for funny or beautiful Christmas greeting ever since, but the times and designs have definitely classed it up a notch.

We skipped the years that we had winter babies because we chose to just send out announcements those years, and the last two years we have sent nothing because we honestly couldn’t find a photo-card-quality family photo in time and didn’t have time to have one taken. So, I just said oh well as much as it pained me to do so.

I love cards, mail, and photos so I wanted to share with you some beautiful designs I have found through a company called Minted. There designs are gorgeous! Every year it gets even better and they add more and more designers and styles. A great variety for every style and they really know how to work with you.

Here are some of my favorite designs that I wish I was using (we shall see if I can come up with a photo) because there is still time to send them out! ;)

Cozy Snow Holiday Photo Card (same as shown above) by designer, Ashley Hegarty:

I love how sweet and simplistic this one is. Because it really highlights the photo you choose and the backs of these have great options, as well. PLUS, hello….free addressing of the envelopes?! Yes, please!

Gorgeous, right?

Next I found this one. Watercolor Noel Holiday Photo Card by designer, Annie Mertlich:

This one just makes me happy. :) The artwork is happy, natural, and the colors are really great. Watercolor is just a great relaxed feel anyway.

Examples of the back of the card choices….

And you always need a little gold at the holidays. Don’t argue. Just do it. ;) Going with the same idea of the watercolor again, this time with a banner and real gold foil-press on it. Hello, glam! I give you the Watercolor Bunting Foil-Pressed Holiday Card by Wind-Up Key Press.

Check out that shine! I’m in love with this one. And because of that, you must see a close-up. Seriously….

Beautiful, classic, a bit of glam, but still understated and not stuffy. Great for the modern family! :)

One last one for you, or I could post these all day. For real. Check this out – this one is too cute and fun and fresh AND it appeals to me because we have not sent out Christmas cards once since we have lived in our current home. Also, because we moved in here the week after Thanksgiving 2 years ago and it was nuts. This card reminds me of that time and I wish this option had been out there because it would have been a perfect moving/holiday card all in one. This cutie is called the Mod Move Holiday Photo Card by designer, Kristen Smith. ADORABLE!

And here is a great shot of it all assembled with front, backing, and envelope with the coordinating liner and address wrap tag. So fresh (and so clean, clean.) I would want to just hang this up in my house for a little piece of artwork every year if someone sent me one of these!

I hope you see something here that you like. If not, there are TONS of designs that are just amazing. I tried to choose a variety of my favorites, but there are even more styles that might fit YOU and your family more appropriately. Go take a peek at Minted. You will not be sorry.

I also love that you can upload one of your own family photos into the website and it will show you what each card will look like with that photo. It’s a no-brainer, really. They have truly taken the difficulty out of ordering holiday cards.

Speaking of “holiday” cards? Every card I looked at had the option of changing the wording from a Holiday saying, a Christmas saying, or a New Year’s saying. Pretty sweet if you ask me.

If you place an order before midnight on the 8th (that’s Monday, friends) then you can receive 15% off your order with code SNOW15FS. PLUS FREE SHIPPING. Did you read that? FREE SHIPPING and a discount code. Yes. Click over quickly and then come back and tell me what you ordered. ;) Maybe even send me a holiday card. Maybe? Ok, maybe that was taking it a bit far. (But I do love mail. hint hint.)

As for the business side, I know that I’m supposed to let you know that I am receiving compensation for writing this post in partnership with Minted, but let’s get real – I’ve been perusing their site for the last couple of years and their designs always blow me away. I have been already peeking through their designs for this year before I was ever approached. So there you have it. I wanted to share them with my pals, too! Also, all of these photos were taken from the Minted site with permission for this post.

Happy Holiday/Christmas/New Year’s card shopping!

xoxo, Amanda


Weekend Notes

Maggie's Colors

Hello early Monday!

I am a known night owl – enough so that my son called me “nocturnal” on Saturday. Ha! Now that I get up early and get two kids ready for school AND myself ready for work on Monday mornings and arrive there by 7:45am, I am really kind of wishing I liked coffee. Buuuuut, I don’t.

So, I thought I would start doing a weekend recap each Monday morning after the weekend. There is a two-part reason for this:

1) I can look at it all on Monday morning and remember my family & friend-filled weekends and be happy to start another week, that will ultimately lead to another glorious weekend. It will make Monday not feel quite so torturous.

2) It will force me to stay off of social media on the weekends when my family is all together and just do one big post to share later. I love taking photos, but sitting down after it’s all over to share anything of importance or talk about something I enjoyed seems easier than during our precious few 48 hours together.

Whether the Monday posts are read by family and friends wanting to catch up on our lives or whoever feels the need to know what we did that weekend in Nashville or wherever we landed that particular weekend, so be it. I’ll be documenting it for myself, mainly. The days are long, but the years are short – you know the saying. I’m hoping that by documenting my life as a wife and a mother, the years won’t seem so short. They will seem full and satisfying as I reflect and also hold as a memory keeper later on. 

Here were my highlights of the weekend:

Relaxing with my family. We had NO plans except for Saturday night and I relaxed to the fullest. I posted the crayon photo above on Instagram on Saturday as a memory of one of my favorite things that Magdalen does. She loves to bring a coloring book and her crayons into our bedroom in the early weekend mornings while I’m still sleeping and lay on the rug at the foot of our bed and just quietly color. One time I asked her why she didn’t go downstairs where there is real (softer) carpet to lay on and she said in her sweet, staccato voice, “Because I just want to be near you, Mommy.”

Heart. Melted. Motherhood doesn’t get much better than that, friends. :)

Saturday night is a post unto itself, but it was definitely a highlight. Maybe even a Life Highlight. Bucket List – Check!

Chad played guitar and sang with Katie Armiger while she performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage. I never dreamed my husband would be playing on such a legendary stage as that one. It’s just not something you ever really entertain in your mind. I’m the type of person that takes things as they come and lets myself be surprised and this was a perfect surprise! I’ll do a more thorough post on that performance tomorrow with a couple of fun photos of the kids at the Opry and hanging out at our in-the-works home studio afterward.

Yesterday was a partial outdoor kind of day. The weather here was GORGEOUS. Deep down inside, I am mourning summertime leaving us, but I do enjoy the fall temperatures, as well.

It felt pretty fall-ish with Maddox listening to the Titans game on the radio while we were outside and then watching the (sad) second half on TV. Poor guy. Diehard Titans fan right here, people. He enjoyed relaxing in the studio with the screen doors letting the breeze in while he listened to the sadness of his team. ;)

And even though I said that I am mourning the goodbye of summer…..

…guess who swam her little heart out yesterday? Yep. That Maggie. The water was a balmy (freezing) 72 degrees, but she just jumped right in and never complained. That is one little fish.

And then she got out and was “Brrrrrrrring”, so she laid on her daddy’s chest to get warm and played it up with the full drama that she knows how to do. Our last summer swimming hurrah, perhaps? Say it isn’t so!

Until I found her a nice sunny spot to bask in, where she then promptly told me that she wanted to have a picnic right there on her pink towel. Ha! I wanted so desperately to spend a little one-on-one time with her now that the boys were having football time together that I said to stay put where she was and I would bring her a little picnic. I found some brownies left over from the night before and washed up some strawberries and brought them out to her on two plates for us to picnic together. The grin on her face as I was walking out to her was priceless.

I think she is so used to me being in a hurry that she didn’t really think it would happen. That is sad for me to admit, but true in real life. She sat and told me so many random things and talked about the animals we saw outside and what’s happening at school. I was pretty silent the entire time, just letting her chatter. Sometimes I forget how much she has to say that she doesn’t get the chance to share.

Note to self: Make more time for moments like these. And stick to it. Time is a-wastin’.

I hope your weekends were excellent and full of the simple pleasures of life. Even among the huge and/or really cool things we sometimes get to do, I would not trade these smaller moments as a family for those. I promise, I’m not just saying that. Sometimes, in the middle of a moment with my kids, I realize that it is about to be gone and it hurts inside when I feel that. I’m trying to make more of a point to ENJOY the moment instead of feeling sad about it being over while it’s still happening. Pretty crazy. Maybe it’s a common parental struggle? I don’t know.

All I know is this weekend was relaxing, refreshing and I’m ready for the week ahead! Enjoy your Monday. :)

xo, Amanda


When The Tears Roll

(source unknown)

What a strong feeling the above photo sends through me as an American. These symbols of strength, hard work, and dreams for our lives make my heart swell with pride in our country, solidarity with other Americans, thankfulness for life here in a FREE country. In simple terms: We are lucky. No matter what did happen, we are still lucky as a whole.

Today I woke up just like any other day, got my kids ready for school and scurried them out the door.  Once I was all alone in the house, in the quiet, I sat down like I do every other year since 2001 and thought about this day. This anniversary of tragedy. The memories that I can’t erase. The grief for people I’ve never known.

And I wondered….will there ever be another September Eleventh in the history of my life that my heart will not clench, my throat will not tighten and the tears will not squeeze out from behind my eyelids and roll down my cheeks? Will the memories ever not be quite as sharp? Will the ache in my heart and stomach start to dull over the years?

It’s been thirteen years! Thirteen years and the pain still remains the same. The shock is still there. The tragedies haven’t changed and they won’t.

But you know what? I’m thankful for a heart that hurts when I remember it all. It means my heart is delicate still and kind and empathetic. And when I see so many people that also feel the same, it gives me hope for this world. Because it means there are so many more people that also have delicate, kind and empathetic hearts. That is our hope in this situation. The hope that love is still out there and winning over the hate.

It’s so hard to explain to my kids without bawling my eyes out what exactly this day means to me. I could show them the graphicness of it all, but they are not ready for that. I don’t know if anyone is ever ready for that, come to think of it. How do I portray the emotion and complexity and magnitude of what happened on this day before they were born? How do I explain to them that moment in my life that I first felt true terror and horror? I think I should consider myself lucky to have gone 23 years before I first felt terror like that and I hope they have to go much, much longer before they ever encounter it. But we don’t know the future.

I want them to understand it as fully as they can so they can learn softness and not callousness, so that they can learn heroism over cowardice, so that they can learn understanding over dismissiveness. My number one hope in all of this life is to teach them to be like Jesus. Loving and holding on to tolerance towards those that are not like them and kindness in the face of harshness and hurting when someone else is hurting.

I watched this clip from Jon Stewart, filmed just nine days after 9.11.01, and it sums up everything felt in my heart about the attacks on our country. And they are so poignant and heartfelt, I feel like I can just leave you with his words here. (Click the link below.) Thank you for reading.

Jon Stewart 9.11 monologue

And if that’s not enough to restore your faith in the world – view these photos of what happened around the world on the tenth anniversary of 9/11.


xo, Amanda

(If you are curious to read my 10 year anniversary post on where I was on 9.11.01, click here.)


A New Direction

Yesterday morning, I received an email that kind of sucked the wind out of my sails over my plans for the upcoming school year. I thought I was an easy contender for a job that would be perfect with my schedule with the kids and I was pretty excited about it all.

It ends up that I never even got the chance to apply!  Talk about a way to start off a glorious summer Sunday! (You do hint my sarcasm there, right?)

It put me in a bad mood all day, much to the frustration of my husband and my sweet kiddos. I feel like I’m back at square one trying to figure out what I will do part-time, in addition to my design ideas, but this morning I have had some breathing room and time to think. I’m sitting here in my dining room, staring out my back window, just contemplating the future. Kids are quiet with a friend over all day, so thankfully….I have had some quiet time today to regroup.

I’m enjoying the leftover dying flowers from Maggie’s party….

And I’m thinking on this:

(above image from Raechel Myers IG feed from She Reads Truth)

And I’m realizing (or more likely REMEMBERING) that this whole life thing is not about what I want or how this is supposed to go in my mind. It’s about how it’s supposed to go in the way that’s best for everyone possibly involved. God’s plan is greater.

For a long time now, I have wanted to do something that was helpful in some way or glorifying to God in some way and I keep waiting to see what that is. Yes, I know that raising my babies as my sole job for the last 8 years has been glorifying to God. But now it’s time that I ventured out from the home and I want to see where I can be used. It’s difficult to wait and see what happens, especially when you see it happening all around you. I have lots of interests and ideas of things that I could do to bless others, but I also have to remember that I need to be working to be a secondary supporter to my family’s income now. What job takes those two things hand in hand for me right now? I’m not totally sure yet. I feel that I’m on the brink of knowing and I have a couple of ideas up my sleeve of how to further push this to see where it all goes.

For now, I’ll look upon my dying flowers, enjoying the last couple of days of their color. I’ll enjoy my hot summer days with my babes, I’ll keep reading and learning and searching and forging new friendships. And most importantly, praying over it all.

Please pray with me.

And for me.

And if you have a prayer request you would like to share, please do.

On another subject – I hope to have Magdalen’s birthday party pictures up this week. My friend, Sarah, took them but I forgot to download them from her camera before she left the next day! Aaagghh! My fault, so hopefully I’ll get them somehow to share this week! Happy Monday, friends!

Blame It On The Rain. (Yeah, yeah.)

School has been out, summer is going strong and wow, it’s still raining. Nonstop.

I snapped this photo last week during another rain storm and looking at it later that night, I thought about something. (My kids, always teaching me something whether they know it or not.)

I am full of excuses.

Yes, you heard that right. I don’t come across as that way to most people. I do what I want, when I want and I usually don’t make excuses for the easy things. Easy things to me are things that are tangible. Things I can see. Things I can touch. Oh, you want me to move furniture around the house by myself, even though I might hurt myself? Of course I will! No excuses! You want me to show up at school even when I have no extra time so I can help you with a school function? Yep, I can fit that in somehow, too. No excuses.

But then there are the hard things for me.


Starting something.

More specifically, starting something that could possibly fail.

I have become the ultimate, amazing procrastinator because of this fear. I refuse to start something if I’m not sure it will turn out exactly as I’m seeing it in my mind’s eye. The trick here, though, is that I am not that picky of a person. It’s just that if I have in my head how I want something, then that’s exactly how I want it.

I am a certified dreamer. If I tried to share the massive amounts of dreams in my head to someone, they would possibly look for the “off” button. I share a lot of them with friends, family, etc., but so many of them are locked away in my own dreamspace and may never see the light of day. And that’s okay, too.

My entire point of sharing this about myself is that I’m tired of waiting. Tired of just dreaming the dream and not doing the dream. It can suck the life out of you and it makes me physically tired sometimes.

This fall, Magdalen starts Kindergarten. I’m looking to work part-time outside of the home for someone to sort of remind my inner-schedule (if I have one) how to have a routine again. I look back on my working days and they seem so long ago. Another lifetime, really. I’m ready to work. Ready to get my hands dirty, so to speak.

In addition to this part-time work I’m looking to do, I’m going to be blogging about our home. Our remodel, as we go along, and before-and-afters. I’ve shared bits about it on Facebook and Instagram in photos over the last year and a half that we have lived here, but we had only done the basics in order to live here comfortably enough in the beginning. Now that we’ve paid off our original remodeling loan (Hallelujah!), we are ready to start saving for the big purchases. One at a time!

On our short list: having the house thoroughly insulated before winter so we don’t freeze almost-to-death again and gutting our tiny master bathroom and having it updated completely (I have NO ELECTRICAL OUTLETS in my master bath, that is how old it is).

My goal alongside that is to go through each room of our home and make it the way I want it. Even if it’s not perfect. I will be doing this on a tight budget by shopping my home, thrift shops for repurposing, and finding deals along the way. If you have never seen the deals I find in my shopping excursions, you are in for a treat. I am like a deal magnet. No joke. You would not believe the items I find at ridiculously low prices! I would love to share this with all of you!

For now, this is my accountability post. I dabble in so many different interests and this will hopefully make me stay focused on the ultimate goal. Budget friendly home design, event planning, and life in general. I like to shop but more importantly, I like to shop smart.

I am working towards getting my working-design feet back and move into having design and event clients in the future and also doing some virtual design boards for those that are interested from afar. I’m tired of having excuses for every time I become afraid to start. I’m not that girl, so….

NO EXCUSES. I’m not blaming it on the rain anymore. I’m embracing the rain and figuring out a way to work it into each day that it arrives. I hope you join me and enjoy following along on our crazy old house. Next post later this week I will tell you the history of this “Blessing House” as my friend, Kimberly, so lovingly calls it.


From Baby To Boy

Disclaimer: I originally wrote the post below back in August of 2012, the week after Maddox started 1st grade. And I never published it. The photo above is one I took of him last summer during a baseball game with his team. I just found this post tonight and felt compelled to share and I had edited this exact photo to put with it last year.

He’s older now and some things have changed since then, but this story still rings true and I felt the need to read it tonight as a reminder to myself as a parent. Then I thought it might be a great reminder for other mothers (or parents) out there, too. Here’s the story….


This boy.

Oh dear, I wish everyone could know him.

A heart of gold, a playful spirit (a little teaser), and a thoughtful little man.

How have we raised him to be this amazing? I know it hasn’t been me alone. Nor has it been his father. The combination of very clear boundaries and set rules and specific expectations and lots and lots of love and laughter and tenderness since he was an infant have helped, no doubt, but he was born with a heart for God. That we could not have given him, but it’s there and we have worked very hard to keep it intact.

I have noticed this since he was just a little guy.
Questioning everything…..and the questions were big ones. Thoughtful ones for a 2, 3, 4, and then 5 year old. He blew me away each time. He understands things beyond his years and that’s a little scary, but also hopeful for his maturity level as he grows.

I had him in my hand all these years to mold him, shape him, and teach him all that I know and also shield him from all that I know that I understand he’s not ready for yet. (Which in this world are many, many, too many things to count.)

And now…..he’s 6.5 with one year of school under his belt.

I think this summer was when I got scared.

Did I teach him enough?
Did I pray over him as much as I could?
Why did I not teach him memory verses?
Why didn’t we have family worship on a regular basis?
How do we keep this sweet spirit alive in him?

This is all up to me during the week as the adult who is his caregiver. And I feel that I have failed when I look back on all that time I wasted doing other things.

I realized that I was not his core teacher anymore and in all scariness, neither is his teacher this year. (Although she is a great teacher and I’m thankful that he has her this year, just as I was thankful for his K teacher!)

That’s right. His peers are going to be. And it is so out of my control that I get sick to my stomach thinking about it. I’ve tried to steer his friendships as much as I can while still giving him the leeway to know who he likes to hang out with and not. But it’s still hard as a Mama.

It hit me last week, his first full week of 1st grade, that if we’re not careful then we can lose him.

If I’m not conscientious about what is going on his world then it’s hard to turn things around and get back in there.

Don’t think I don’t know how it works because I saw it happen with too many of my friends whose parents got busy and stopped teaching them the main values at home. I know I can’t leave this job up to his school each day and when he’s gone for 7 of his 13 waking hours, I have to make a VERY. CONSCIOUS. EFFORT. to make sure I’m using my time with him wisely while not beating him over the head.

Because really? What is more important in life than giving a child a foundation and a basis in knowing who Jesus really is? I am knowing the answer to that more and more each day.

I mentioned yesterday that I wanted to write a bit about what I’m doing with Maddox when it comes to talking to him and teaching him more about God, so I’m just going to jump right in to this subject.

A couple of things happened over the last few days that lead me to believe I’ve been on the right track.
At least, for now.

Have you heard this song?

Maddox started singing it to me a few days ago at the dinner table out of the blue and I almost started crying right there.

It was the song that his Kindergarten class sang on their presentation (graduation) night together and surprised all the parents with and I had forgotten about it.

Imagine a stage in a lunchroom with nineteen 6 & 7 year olds all in a row singing this song to you. It makes me teary just remembering how I couldn’t hold back my tears that night.

He let me take a video of him singing part of it tonight before he went to bed, so now you can hear it coming from a child.

“I want to set the world on fire
Until it’s burning bright for you.
It’s everything that I desire
Can I be the one You use?

I….I am small but
You….you are big enough
I….I am weak but
You….you are strong enough to

Take my dreams
Come and give them wings
Lord, with you
there’s nothing I can not do.

I wanna feed the hungry children
And reach across the farthest land
And tell the broken there is healing
And mercy in the Father’s hands….”

There he was at dinner just singing it to me after I had been thinking these same thoughts quietly to myself ABOUT myself.

So, later that night, we were getting he and his sister ready for bed and I asked him if he wanted to read with me or by himself.

Again, he blew me away with his response: “Um….I got my Bible out and I want to read some of the story of Job tonight. Is that okay?”

Well, let’s see….is that okay?

YES. Yes, you dear child. Where do you come up with these thoughts? Is my worrying all for no reason? Have we given you that basis to grow from already without realizing it?

The answer is maybe, but we can’t stop there. It’s an ongoing process and I’m praying for direction to know how to approach him as he gets older.

So, with Maddox we have started a nightly ritual. (This was all his idea, by the way.) I come to his room at bedtime with my Bible in hand and we sit up in his bed together with our Bibles and he reads a few verses, I explain them, then I read a few verses and explain them and so on.

Seriously, I couldn’t make this stuff up! What six-year-old kid picks JOB to read of all stories in the Bible??

Apparently, my kid does.

Tonight when I said, Where’s your Bible? He said “Woohoooo! I wasn’t sure if we were reading Job tonight. Awesome.”

I wanted to share this because, first of all, it makes me happy and I like to share my happiness. Secondly, I wanted to share to give parents a hopeful idea of how to have a worship with their sons. Just choose their favorite Bible story and go straight to the actual Bible and read it together! Boys love adventure and there is adventure and drama in that Book that they are going to think is very cool.

Sons can be tricky for Moms to know how to teach & direct sometimes and him coming to me with this idea was perfect. (Thank you, Lord.)

I get to bond with him and have a special time that was just us. And inside of that, we learned more about God together. I mean hey! I’ve never read the whole book of Job and that’s our goal together now. It feels good.

I’m currently reading and enjoying this book called That’s My Son: How Moms Can Influence Boys To Become Men of Character by Rick Johnson (shown below) and it has given me great insight on Maddox’s mind and how to teach him and I really recommend it. Thanks to my mom for giving it to me! :) You can click on the book here and take you to the Amazon link to read more about it or buy a copy for yourself.

In the next week I want to write more about the changes in my life and our life as a family coming up. And the reasons. And the goals. Major changes, but ones that we feel great about even it’s not the norm.

Be Thankful : Day 1 (and I’ve moved)

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 I’m thankful for that up there. ^^^

The husband who I don’t deserve + who somehow splits his life between 2 very different worlds.

The children who are more loving + kind  + full of sweet soul than I ever could have imagined.

How did I get this lucky?


I was standing in the laundry room on Sunday going through an entire stick of that Oxy gel stick  stain remover on Maddox’s grass-stained school uniform pants.

Usually when this happens I start to mentally tally up the money I’m spending on stain sticks (I go through about 2 a week) and how many new pair of pants I could buy instead with the money. And I start to get really annoyed that my son likes to slide on the ground all over the place whenever he plays with his buddies.

But on Sunday, I paused for a second and I think God was whispering in my ear.

I suddenly got a big smile on my face and some teary eyes and thought of how I am LUCKY to have to be cleaning the grass stains off of a 6 year old boy’s khakis. He is healthy and active and able to run and play.

And he is here. With me. Alive + well.

Sadly, some parents can’t say that and they would give anything to be cleaning their sweet child’s play clothes each night.


That’s all life is really, and so I spent the next 30 minutes JOYFULLY working on all of his clothes.


So, today I am thankful for them and all that they have made me. Thank you, Jesus, for blessing me with this family.


On another note : my blog has moved! (Obviously.)


At least for now. ;)

I’ve moved from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress and changed all names directing you here.

I had a sweet girl (Danielle Burkleo) do all of my blog + upcoming shop logo and designs for The Paper Arrow and I’m excited to start fresh over here. (I have transferred all of my old posts over, so if you are searching for something you should find it here.)

There are a few things that I’m still tweaking, but for now everything is usable.

And writable!

Lots of stuff coming up, and I hope you enjoy this new space.


Influence Conference, New Blog, and Redesign. Whoa.

I am just home today after 4 solid days of being with other Christian bloggers in Indianapolis at the very first Influence Conference. 


I am tired. But energized.


I am overwhelmed. But also feeling more focused.


I have a lot to say about it.

Just not tonight.


But this I do want to say before I get some shut eye:


I wanted to make sure that everyone knows that my blog is soon changing. A LOT.


I will have a completely new redesign and if you are reading this on Magda Row (blogspot) then I will soon be redirecting you to an entirely new URL which is self-hosted on an entirely new platform. (


If you are already reading this from my self-branded site that is under construction (you are here because we traded biz cards in Indy!), then you just have to wait and I’m sorry if you get tired of the silly pumpkin photo that I have up there. ;) I’ll be perfectly honest and tell you that I’m tired of looking at it myself. Let’s just call it “filler.”


Big changes, people. Big changes.


I have a designer working on my site and it might have already been done, except I barely had a chance to call Chad these last 4 days, much less Danielle who still understandably has more questions as to the direction I want her to go for me.




Stay tuned. I’m hoping to have a launch date soon to share (this month) and then you will see what I’ve been up to and why I would drive 5 hours with 3 strangers to stay in a hotel room with 4 new strangers (including sharing a bed with 1 girl I had never spoken to) where there were 200 other women who have a passion for blogging and also sharing our faith while doing so.


These last 4 days completely rocked my world. In a very good way.