Make a Felt Box Cake

I asked my daughter one night what she wanted for her birthday. She mentioned that she had a cake that she could cut apart and serve as part of her kitchen arsenal, but thought it would be fun to have a cake that she could decorate. 

"Because I really like to organize and arrange things, Mom." 

Gosh I love that kid.

So, here is what I came up with:

I bought two paper mache boxes like these. Then, I measured the top and sides and added a half inch seam allowance for all sides. The top is just slightly different in size. Labels and arrows help very much!
                            

Sew right sides together first to the top piece of the box. Then, down the sides. 
Trim the seam allowances as needed.

 Turn it right side out, place it over the box, and trim the bottom as needed.

Now, it's time to make and collect decorations! There are so many great tutorials out there for felt flowers and felt food. Just take a look here and here and here.




Also collect ribbons and rick rack and just cut out shapes from felt to use as decorations.


The BEST part... all those decorations can be stored right in the boxes!

Both of my kiddos love to decorate.




He is My Future AND My Past

Sometimes, when I worship at church, I just sing without really paying much attention to the words.

Then there are times when the words (usually a single phrase) hit me over the head like a ton of bricks. Sometimes those words have a life changing affect.

This song has a phrase that has gripped me for the last few weeks:



You
You are my first
You are my last
You are my future AND MY PAST


(Lyrics by John Mark McMillan)


We have all heard the advice. You know... Don't dwell in the past; live in the now. Be present.

I think it's good advice, but I feel like today's American culture pretty much interprets that as FORGET about the past; disregard it.

We certainly need to be present. We certainly should not DWELL in the past, but we most definitely should not forget/disregard it!


I have noticed that this disregard is often accepted regarding the Old Testament of the Bible. "Why read the Old Testament? Jesus cancels all that out. The Old Testament God was hard to palette. I prefer the loving (less angry) God of the New Testament." 

Honestly, I was among those people. 

Then few months ago, I attended a life changing conference and heard THIS talk by Brad Gray. 

Seriously, friends, this information is LIFE CHANGING. And if you were ever unsure of the relevancy of the Bible, this will surely convince you. 

It turns out that the entire Old Testament actually points to Jesus in very direct ways. When we study the life of Jesus, it is completely apparent that his actions are directly reflective of happenings in the Old Testament. 

I'm not just talking about the over arcing fact that in the Old Testament, people sinned and God was mad so, He sent Jesus. That does definitely explain the actions of Jesus, but it's so much MORE than that. Jesus' actions make WAY more sense to me now that someone has pointed out the direct connection between the Old and New Testaments. 

The point is: The whole Bible is relevant. All the books are part of the whole story (that God hasn't even finished yet!). God knew what He was doing in the Old Testament. He knew what He was doing in the New, and He knows what he is doing now and in the future. 

I am grateful for that... because, I have been remembering my past. Recalling a lifetime of health issues. I have written about some of them already, but this last year, I have discovered there is something other than mental illness that has been causing these issues. There is a root to it all. 


I'm going on one year of treatment for Lyme, and it's been hard. REALLY hard. It's easy for me to feel sorry for myself and wonder how different (better) my life could have been had I found out sooner what was causing my issues. I can easily dwell in that. 

When I, instead, dwell in the Lord, I understand that He is the God of my future AND my past. My past is part of a whole story. Since He's got the whole story under control, I don't need to dwell in the past, but I will not disregard it or try to forget it. 

I am confident that the connection between my past and future will be used for good! 

How about you? 
Do you have a tendency to dwell in the past or are you quick to try to forget/disregard it?

Fifteen Year Anniversary Photo Session -- Eau Claire, WI Couples Photographer

When you've been married for 15 years, and you are more in love than ever: 





How to Run When I Have No Perseverance

I have a deep core memory in my head from grade school:
It was a beautiful, warm and sunny spring day. We were outside on the open field for P.E. class. Our teacher made us stand in two single file lines, basically pairing us off. My teacher said, "go!" The first two kids in each line sprinted away to the big telephone pole which was the finish. 

The first kid to get to the pole won, obviously. That kid got to go on and race again. The races continued until the four fastest kids were determined; they would ultimately run the four by four relay during or "track and field" day. 

I was excited and eagerly anticipating my turn to race. I was super fast. I ran all over the place. Plus, the previous year, I placed THIRD in the long jump, and you have to be fast to jump that far, right?

Then, I looked to my right and realized I was racing Debbie Nelson. Tall, long legged, totally athletic Debbie Nelson. 

Crap.

There went my dreams of running the four by four relay.



I can so very clearly picture Debbie steadily pulling farther and farther and farther away from me. I can so very clearly remember the tension in my body from trying my hardest, but feeling like I was moving in slow motion. She beat my by a landslide. Like a major, embarrassingly huge amount. Like she was done and recovered as I just crossed the finish line. 

Two weeks ago, my husband asked me how I was feeling.

What came to mind was the vision above, except it wasn't just Debbie so far ahead of me but EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD. I was feeling like everyone was racing ahead. Everyone had energy. Everyone was happy. Everyone had the endurance to finish strong while I felt tense, tired, slow, and alone. I was losing any perseverance to finish the race. I wanted to face plant and quit.

My husband wrote a song based on the scripture Phillipians 1:6

"Throw off everything that hinders and entangles us
Run with perseverance the race marked out for us
He is the author and finisher of our faith
LIFT UP YOUR EYES AND PLACE THEM ON JESUS"

If I just LIFT UP MY EYES. 

Even when I face plant, if I can just lift up my eyes a tiny bit, I see the feet of Jesus right in front of me. If I lift them a bit more, I can see his hand reaching down to help me up. In that vision, I know I am NOT alone. Knowing I am not alone gives me a little more energy to get up. Then, Jesus says, "You can do it, and I will be right here with you." I might have to lean on Him, but He will hold me up. In faith, I will gain strength to finish strong, but no matter what, he is in it to finish it with me!

How easily I forgot that He is with me. How on earth do I always end up thinking I can do it on my own? And knowing myself, I will gain energy and shove Jesus aside and inevitably, face plant again. 

Praise the Lord! He is always there when I lift up my eyes. 

God's grace is sufficient.

Shop VIDA -- My Original Art and Photography on Ethically Produced Goods

You guys! 

I am so excited about something, and have been itching to share it with you all.


That's me! That's my art and photography on scarves with more options to come soon!

VIDA is a company that allows for artists to share, and profit from, their original art in the form of ethically produced goods. But, the artist isn't the only one to profit. Here is more:


Trust me, I understand that the price points may be more than you pay for your typical department store fast fashion, but you get:

1. ORIGINAL art 
2. High quality fabric
3. Satisfaction of supporting individual artists
4. Satisfaction of supporting makers around the world
5. Confidence that you are not contributing to the environmental waste of fast fashion (each piece is made to order)

Even you don't like MY stuff, there is SO MUCH stuff to love so, buy other stuff!

You can even use this code to get $15 off at check out.


The Question of Socialization -- Eye Roll

That title is snarky. I'm usually not a snarky person. 

I'm a little sorry, but I guess if I was really sorry, I would have changed the title.

It's the question I dread most when talking to people about homeschool.

"How do you socialize your kids?"

Here is what I actually hear:
"Do your kids have friends?
Do your kids know how to act in public?
Do you ever leave your house or do you just keep them sheltered from the outside world?"

People might as well just say to me, "ya know... homeschooled kids are socially awkward."


Honestly, I used to think that too.

I remember a couple of homeschooled kids that went to my church growing up. I realize today that I only thought that because of what other kids said to me. When I look back, I liked those girls and I admired them a LOT. They were quiet, yes, but I'm quiet too. 

They were really polite, paid attention to and respected authority, were super talented, and were so KIND. One of them selflessly, without prompting from any adult, traded a solo with me in our kids choir, because she knew I wanted that particular song. She made a huge impact on me at a young age.

In fact, when I remember those girls, I think to myself that I would LOVE LOVE LOVE my children to be like them. 

I can't place any behaviors that made me think that they were weird. They just weren't friends with my friends. That's what made us think they were socially awkward?! Shame on us.

Listen, I taught in a public school for ten years. I encountered numerous socially awkward kids. 

Assuming all homeschooled kids are socially awkard makes the assumption that all public school kids are socially adept which is SO NOT TRUE.

Socially awkward kids tend to come from socially awkward families; socially adept kids tend to come from socially adept families. 

There are always exceptions, of course, but just think about it. Everyone knows someone who is eccentric or "weird." Everyone has someone in their life that is hard to work with or difficult to be around. What made them that way? 

Were they all homeschooled? 
Probably not.

Did they come from a family that had different personalities and ways of doing things than yours? Probably.

My kids have friends.
My kids are learning (because well, they are four and six and no kid's behavior is always on point) to love and respect people.
My kids get out of the house. (In fact, as I write this they are with my husband at an astronomers club gathering looking at the moon and Jupiter. And that is after hours outside playing with the neighbors).

We are doing things differently from most other families and if that is what makes us socially awkward then, so be it. 

Let's be real. We all have quirks and socially awkward times. I'll start! 

I am an introvert. I suck at pleasantries and surface conversation. People often think I am stand-offish and stuck up when they first meet me. To avoid that impression, sometimes I over compensate with smiling and head nods during conversations.

Tell me a quirk or awkward moment of yours in the comments : ) 

Favorite Photos -- Eau Claire, WI, Family Photographer

It's been MONTHS. Like... months and months and months since I have posted anything photography related. It's hard to tell that I even do it by looking around here (crickets chirping). 

But, I have been taking photos! 

Here are just a few of my favorites from the past months. Enjoy!



Family photos are really my favorite!

Here are a couple of slide shows 
from a recent retirement celebration and a two year old birthday party: