Father’s Day Ideas, part two

Father’s Day 2008

Ahh, the day of all days to honor the Dad’s in our lives. Despite the fact that my love language is giving gifts I almost always find myself stumped over what to do for my dad and husband on the big day. Neither golf. They don’t fish. Neither are big sports fans. I’ve only seen my hubby in a tie a handful of times and my dad only once (my wedding).

So, what to do?

In attempt to avoid having to come up with the ‘perfect gift’ altogether, I usually procrastinate and end up scrambling around Sunday morning, coming up with an idea and tossing a sheet of paper and some markers at the kids to make a card. Motivated by the idea of “more information = less fear” I decided to plan ahead this year and share what I’ve found with you!

Here are 10 ideas for giving to the guys in your life – –

1. Is he a runner? For the larger budget a jogging stroller or the Nike + SportWatch GPS may be something to consider. For those on a more modest budget, give him a gift certificate towards a new pair of shoes or an apparel item.

2. In the spirit of always being prepared, why not a hand crank weather radio/flashlight/cell phone charger?

3. I know my dad and hubby like sweets. A lot. And I’m sure your’s do too. Willow and I are planning on making these Stout Cupcakes for my dad. Cupcake. Beer. Pretzels. Chocolate. Oh Yeah.

4. Maybe some of Maple Bacon Cupcakes for the hubby. Cupcake. Bacon. . . . oh, ok, you get the idea. Cupcakes are a GOOD idea! If you’re not feeling super creative or are short on time put together a cake mix, slap on some frosting, and let the kids decorate little flags to put on toothpicks to use as toppers. Wha la!

5. I’ve heard a time or two that a special beer makes a guy feel, well, special. Try a local variety from your c0-op or natural market.

6. And while we’re at it, why not a steak? I don’t know a man. . . well, ok, I do know one. . . that doesn’t salivate at the mention o f steak. Truth be told this is most often my default gift each Father’s Day. I think I’m going to go all fancy this year and try it this way.

7. Taking the handmade route, you may want to give the kids some fabric paint and let them go all Pollack on a ready made apron for the man of the house.

8. When I was a girl I remember my mom filling a wheel barrow FULL of my dad’s favorite adult beverage. He was one happy man. This year I thought I’d take my own spin on that idea; buy a wheel barrow and fill it full of his favorites that he rarely gets because of the junk food police (me). I’ll stock him up on Lucky Charms, M&M’s, steak seasoning/sauces, a bag or two of salt and pepper chips and a few other things.

Do you sense a theme here? Food. That’s where it’s at.

9. In an antique market a couple weeks ago I came across an old wildlife survival guide and a Boy Scouts of America guide book. I picked them up knowing that my husband would have a blast reliving his scouting days with the kids.

10. If your husband or father are of the comic addict variety, I suggest a subscription to the comic of their choice or give them tickets to see one of the 1,000,000,000 superhero movies gracing the theaters this summer. One year for Christmas I filled my husbands stockings with Yoohoo’s, a few comic books from his favorite series, and gift card for more and he was as giddy as a 7 year old.

This last bonus idea is for my dad. Or your dad. Netflix. I’ll say it again. Netflix. I don’t know about your dad, but mine could stare down a bear without flinching but stares wide eyed like a deer, petrified of the computer. I’ve heard him talk about ‘trying this new netflix mail service’ for well over 4 years. I’m planning on hooking him up with 6 months at first to see if he actually likes it and uses it.

An older woman from church once told me that “all it takes to make men happy is sex, food, and respect”. To that I’ll add: just enjoy them. For that day, laugh at their jokes, deal with their remarks without retorting back, give grace. Write them a letter, tell them things you don’t often say, feed them sweets, give them the drink of their choice, grill ’em a steak, and show them how much you sincerely care for them and are grateful for them in your life.

What are your Father’s Day plans?

A Garden Interrupted

Every year I ignore the fact that I kill everything I try to plant and  dream up grand plans for an abundant garden.  Every year those plans seem to get interrupted. . .

Last year was going to be the year. We had a yard (as opposed to the balconies, porch stoops and window sills I had tried before). We bought the wood to build the beds. I bought seeds in anticipation. Everything was right on track. . . . except our ambition.  After all the joy of  planning I was burnt out, and after trying to turn our  mess of a yard into, well, a yard, my husband wasn’t so hot on the idea of  doing one more thing like building me beds. So the 2×4’s sat in the garage and I put the seeds in the cupboard.

This year was going to be different. I’ve been talking to gardening friends and family members gleaning advice and tips. I’ve read book after book on small space gardening, organic gardening, etc., and my google reader is chocked full of blogs with writers who are sharing their green thumb ways with those like me out there with ones that are black. I saved a stack full of egg cartons to use for starting. I picked up some tools at rummage sales and Goodwill. I was ready.

But then it happened . . .

First I couldn’t find the seeds. They sat all winter sitting on a shelf in my cookbook cupboard waiting for spring. But then they were gone. Did I accidentally throw them away? I was sick with the thought  that I had possibly put those precious seeds in the trash! After two months of waiting for them to show up I went to the co-op and bought more.  I was getting my garden this year, I didn’t care if I had to pay for it twice.

We got home and the kids were anxious to start some seeds. I reached high in the cupboard to get down the saved egg cartons; as I pulled them down out dropped the box full of seeds I was missing.All at once I was giddy with excitement and wondering if I had kept the receipt of the ones I just bought.

So into the egg cartons full of potting soil they went. Sitting on a hot pink princess table in our homeschool area they received lots of sunshine, the right amount of water, and quite a bit of attention from Willow and Cedar. Willow squealed with excitement each time she noticed a new sprout

About a week later I was in the kitchen doing dishes when I heard Cedar say, “Fors (flowers) for you Mama”. I turned around to a big smile, dirty fingers and a hand full of seedlings. I wanted to cry and hug him at the same time.

Part of me wondered if something was trying to tell me NOT to do a garden this year; the other part was determined to do whatever it took to have one.

Since then our cat has dined on the rest of the seedlings, proceeding to puke their remains up on our basement floor. After cleaning it up I decided  that I am not giving up.  And then went to talk to my husband  about when he could get those beds up. Even if only weeds are found in them, I’ll be thankful to have grown something successfully in my own garden.

Here are two ideas that I WILL be trying with my kids:

-A fun way to start sunflowers from Chasing Cheerios.

Poo Pops from Zach Abroad. Love these! I think we may make some up to share with friends and cousins too!

What have you been up to in the garden?

Be Blessed and be a Blessing


photo credit: chitrasudar


“Be blessed and be a blessing”

I have this written on the cover of my prayer journal. It just sounds so easy. Living it out is a bit different that just saying it.

It was a Hallmark morning. I woke up to pancakes in bed, homemade gifts and cards, and was smothered in hugs and kisses to the point that I had to pretty much crawl into the kitchen. The kids were dressed to the nines. I wore pearls(and heels!) to church.  Hubby did the dishes and prepared lunch. We spent the afternoon napping, being treated to lattes, strolling around the park and preparing stuff for a family activity of making hula hoops.

I am blessed.  Blessed by any definition. But yet, daily I complain about my life.  Today, in fact, I complained about my life.  Today I did not cry for the blessing of children that I wish I could have . . . instead I grumbled when I got those blessings ready for bed. I had to remind myself of something our pastor once said, “when you begin to complain, begin counting your blessings”. So I did.

Today I did not have to travel over 5 miles on foot to get water for my family thinking about my kids, worried about their futures. Instead I walked through the park hand in hand with the man I love talking about our kids and our future vacations. Today I did not fear for the safety of my family because we choose to live our lives as followers of Jesus Christ.   Instead I stood next to my fellow brothers and sisters and joyfully worshiped, freely. Today I didn’t worry about the quality of the water my kids drank, instead I sipped my latte and handed them their  $15 a piece stainless steel water bottles.  Today I did not only get the joy of not having to cook thanks to my husband, but we didn’t have to worry where the provision for that meal was coming from.  And that just covers a few of the worries mother’s all over the world carried on their shoulders today.

I am so thankful for my life, for today, for the blessing of being a mother. Lately I’ve been reminded of many verses that talk about the overflowing of  blessing. I was strongly convicted and thought I’d share some ways we may share our time, resources, and financial blessings with others who may be without.

Here are just a few organizations for thought.

Heart Cry International. Check out their Woman to Woman sponsorship program. I personally know the creators of this organization and have been blessed by their passion to extend love to the unloved and help to the broken.

-Volunteer at or donate to a local pregnancy center or woman’s shelter.

www.watoto.com specifically the Living Hope program.

www.rainn.org Rape Abuse Incest National Network.

www.polarisproject.org A grassroots projects aimed to stop sex and labor trafficking.

And one for those women(and men) who so wish to have a child of their own and look to adoption. Many of these families are in need of financial help to bring their children home. Consider a gift to Show Hope, a charity that was started by Steven Curtiss Chapman and his family.

For a larger gathering of other options go to www.charitynavigator.org.

I hope you had a very wonderful and blessed Mother’s Day as well!



Up-cycled Tees

In the spirit of transformation and the renewal of spring I bring to you a re-purposing project that will turn that stack of old t-shirts with good intentions of being brought to a resale shop into a new shirt for that toddler in your life.

I had a step by step tutorial ready just for this until my computer gave the blue screen of death.  Adding to the awesomeness that can come with relying on technology, my Ipod has decided not to transfer photos. Plan B is to offer you some great links to women who have already figured out how awesome it is to re-purpose old T’s and have had the cooperation of technology to publish what they’ve done. Why reinvent the wheel? Right?

To create the pattern for mine I was inspired by Dana at Made. Her 90 minute shirt tutorial is easy to use and produces a great tee for your little guy (or gal). I took apart a reglan onsie that fit Cedar and copied the pieces with a bit of a seam allowance onto a brown grocery bag.

After my pattern was finished I cut out pieces from old t-shirts I had gathered. Since mine was a raglan shirt and not an envelope I opted to use instructions on putting together this style tee from this  raglan sleeve dress tutorial (excluding the elastic and girly touches).  I left the bottom hem unfinished on two of the shirts a la Tee for Two by Patterns by Figgy’s. In about 2 1/2 hours Cedar had 4 more new summer shirts that he can refuse to wear in favor of his birthday suit.

Three of the shirts I made for my son by re-purposing old t-shirts:

I love Rae’s tips and advice on patterns for sewing knit t-shirts. Her creativity with  embellishments makes me smile 😀

Here are a few other recycled t-shirt links for your browsing pleasure.

  • A cute dress from Create and Delegate. I also think I need to make quite a few of these for a certain little girl.
  • I made a few of upcycled t-shirt dresses from I Am Momma-Hear me Roar for Willow in the fall. I had so much fun I couldn’t stop until I ran out of t-shirts! LOVE the t-shirt to cardigan idea and I think that Willow’s wardrobe is beckoning for one. Or two.

There are so many fantastic ideas out there for up-cycling the knit shirts in your giveaway box or those hiding in the corners of your dresser. It’s one of my favorite ways to give my kids something that is re-used, non-toxic, inexpensive, and mama-made.

Before long you’ll find yourself in your husbands closet convincing him that he only needs 7 shirts and the rest could find better uses supplying you with lots of material to work with!

How do you re-purpose your clothes?


*this post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday


Abandoned Shoes

photo credit: tenspeedphotography


I was tossing a pair into a box next to the front closet when I heard, “What are you going to do with them?”. Looking up I saw Willow there; hands on hips and eyebrows raised. I stood up, “Not sure, probably take them to the basement and then to Goodwill. Why?”    In a chirpy tone she replied, “just wonderin'” and ran off.  I was surprised that my response wasn’t met with tears since my urge to purge often ends in a frustrated little one not ready to get rid of clothes too small (“but Grammie bought that for me!”) or toys not played with (“well, I was going to play with it right now!. . .”).

Later in the day I heard the bathroom door open and shut as I was taking a shower (in our family my shower time should be renamed ‘one-on-one conference hour’. It’s often the time that everyone sees as an opportunity to talk to mama alone). I peaked my head out of the curtain and saw Willow sitting on the toilet seat deep in thought. She turned her head to me and uttered words that I wasn’t expecting.

Mama, does everyone have lots of clothes and shoes? I know that there are people who don’t have food and toys, but do they don’t have shoes and dresses too?”

I explained that yes, there are many people in the world who don’t even have shoes. She remembered a time when she went without shoes and got a splinter in her foot and how much it hurt. I saw compassion in her eyes. She stood up and walked in front of me. “Can I give them my shoes? Like the ones that you took to the basement? I can ask my friends about their old shoes too.  Can I dig a hole and put up a sign that says ‘shoes for people who don’t have food or toys or shoes?'”

My heart was overwhelmed with admiration for her preschool-age ambitions and thankful that we are blessed to have her in our family.

After talking, we decided on using a box instead of digging a hole and working together to find an organization who serves people who don’t have shoes. We chose-Soles4Souls and began planning a shoe drive from April 1st to the 30th.  Amidst all the excitement, drawing of signs, gathering of boxes and such we received news that a close family member was nearing the end of her battle with cancer. We hit the pause button. Two weeks later our hearts have yet to fully recover. Our heads are still filled with a constant reel of memories and eyes often with tears. In all honesty I hadn’t given the shoe drive much thought until the other day an article brought the idea back to the forefront.

I sat praying about it. I currently feel  overwhelmed by the task of making supper for my family, how will I have the heart or energy for  gathering the shoes and  sending them out?

I thought about postponing it until I had my wits about me.

As these thoughts were swirling I realized that I was doing no justice mourning my Mother-in-Law in this way. She was a woman full of life and abundant love, someone who would give her shirt off of her back no matter what she had left. As always, I gained encouragement from these thoughts of her. If there is anything I want my children to know about her it was her unwavering compassion and ability to love unconditionally.

So,  here we sat on her birthday, a day before her memorial service, unfolding boxes and making up signs.  As I was fretting about where to put the boxes and if we should scale our efforts down a bit for the sake of my nerves, Willow looked up to me and asked, “What’s Papa going to do with Nana’s shoes?”  Once again my thoughts are redirected to a better plan, one that is guided by Him, living a life that honors His son and her impact on my life.  Putting my fear over what we will do if we gather too many shoes to comfortably pay the shipping of I said, “What do you think Nana would want to do with them?” With a smile she replied, “She’d probably put them in the box.

I expect that there will be lots of wonderful lessons in store for us during this time. If you or your family are interested in organizing a shoe drive here are a few resources:

How do you help your children give to others?


*this post is linked to: Finer Things Friday