I miss him. My heart hurts for my Granny who was left behind. But I am so grateful to have felt him with me that day. I am grateful to know that my daughter has her very own guardian angel. And grateful to know that we will see him again.
This day reminds me that our lives are inextricably connected; that joy comes with sadness and peace comes with pain; and that hope can be found in eternal perspective.
Happy Birthday, Makenna Jaye!
I may or may not have been guilty of re-gifting a time or two. It usually goes like this... We have a birthday, baby shower, wedding, etc to attend and because I tend to over-schedule myself, I end up on a last-minute mad dash for a suitable gift. I search the house frantically for any un-used/un-opened gift to save myself a trip to the store that I don't have time for and maybewa2q find something that is remotely appropriate for the occasion. But because I am a firm believer in MEANINGFUL GIFTS, this is where I am forced to pull out my ninja-creativity skills (or something)...and MAKE it apply.
ENTER- the cheesy hand-written poem (most likely on the pansy stationary I received for my 15th Birthday that has managed to reproduce itself like the loaves and the fishes for the past 15...ish years):
"You are so sweet,
You can't be beat.
When I smell this, I think of you,
Just rub it on your hands
And they'll be sweet too."
Stick that with a (mostly) full bottle of Bath and Bodyworks Hand Sanitizer in last year's Christmas gift bag that the neighbors' sugar cookies came in and VOILA! A 5-minute gift.
JUST KIDDING! (Kind of)
Don't be like me. Plan ahead. Like at least a day or two. Or better yet, plan a week or two ahead and get your loved one something they will ACTUALLY appreciate and want to KEEP....FOREVER.
Check out these very personal and thought-out photo gifts (All available through our ETSY shop). Think just a little bit ahead and we'll do all the work for you. So you won't have to write a last minute cheesy poem. (or maybe I'm the only one who does that?)
So I decided it was about time for a little contest...complete with an awesome prize, of course! And since we're all about family at Woven Hearts, why not a contest for all of your BEST (or at least most memorable) family photos?
Contest begins today at 12 pm (CST), and the recipient of the most votes for their family photo will receive their photo engraved on an 11" X 15" piece of wood with their choice of a quote/text surrounding it.
One entry per household. Quality of the engraving will depend on the quality (and resolution) of your photo so please consider that when submitting your entry. Contest will end next Thursday, August 20th at 9 am and the winner will be announced and contacted by 12 pm.
So get those family photos entered, shared and let the voting begin!
Contest Link: "Celebrate the Family" Photo Contest
When it comes to the "5 Love Languages," "quality time" is definitely at the top for me. I love finding new and creative things to do with my family- the kinds of activities that BUILD memories. Things that take slightly more effort than just pushing a button on the remote, but that will be so much for meaningful to my children when they are grown. We have a quote engraved on wood hanging in our little shop that says, "Kids won't remember their best day of t.v."
The things I remember best from my childhood?
Camping and fishing.
Putting up a "tent" in the living room (when it was too cold to camp outside- we lived in the Alaskan Arctic at the time) and roasting marsh-mellows over a candle. We even had glow in the dark stars on the ceiling and put up a couple of fake Christmas trees to complete the experience. Picnics and drives in the mountains.
Looking for deer on Sunday afternoons- there were always extra "points" for whoever spotted the first one.
Searching the beach with my family for critters in the tide pools.
Singing songs together.
Family Holiday traditions- My Mom has always been the BEST at making every celebration, birthday, holiday, etc...special.
Playing "Spoons" and "Hearts".
Mom reading out-loud to the whole family.
Sledding and going to the mountains to cut down a Christmas tree.
Playing in the mud at Fish Creek (aka: glacier silt).
Going to Hockey Games.
Going "Clamming" (even though clams are pretty high on the list of thing I refuse to eat)
Getting up in the middle of the night to watch the Northern Lights.
Exploring new places- both close to home and far.
These times spent together are the ones that made my family close. It probably helped that we lived in the middle of nowhere for a lot of my growing up and didn't have near as many distractions or really ANY other options for entertainment....So we HAD to get creative. But I wouldn't have had it any other way.
We try now to spend the same type of quality time with our own kids. And even though they don't get to grow up in Alaska, they do get to grow up in a great place in the country with several acres to roam. They love helping in the garden, gathering eggs, fishing in our pond, going camping, playing games, going for walks (that always turn into "treasure hunts"), reading stories together etc... It seems that the simplest things can be the most meaningful. And while sometimes doing things together takes a little more planning, effort, and time... is always SO worth it.
I've found a few websites with some great (and inexpensive) family activity ideas...Hope you can find some that your family will enjoy!
It turns out that having a laser engraving machine in the family means endless possibilities when it comes time to give a gift. However, it also has made our family gift giving somewhat predictable...I think the family knows now that the chance of receiving something engraved for their next birthday or Christmas is pretty high.
So this week for my Dad's birthday, I tried to think of something sort-of unique and hopefully meaningful. We have these really cool wood-encased flash drives in our gift shop, and I thought it would be cool to not only engrave something on one for him, but to make a birthday video to save on it.
So I found a bunch of fun facts from the day he was born, pictures of him and our family and put it to music that was popular the year he was born ("Tossin' and Turnin'" and "Blue Moon"). I then had the kids sing a song and tell what they loved best about Grandpa on video and put that at the end. Apparently, Austin likes it when Grandpa "tricks him".
Unfortunately, the "free" movie-making software that I downloaded is only free if you are okay with a GIANT logo over top of your video. So that was lame. Guess I'll stick with Windows Movie Maker next time.
In spite of the fact that half the pictures where covered up, I hope he liked it. We had fun making it. Happy Birthday, Dad/Grandpa!
You left your home in Heaven, dear one,
To come and spend time with me.
From the arms of Jesus in His holy realm,
To my loving arms you're come to be.
What is the wonderful smell of a babe?
Could it be lotion or powder or love?
I think it must be something lovingly familiar,
Like the sweet scent of heaven above.
-An excerpt from "To My Loving Arms"
(A poem written by Mindy Simpson, my mom.)
Everything about a child being born is a complete miracle. I have been blessed by three such miracles (soon to be 4) and am so grateful for what I have learned about myself, about God's love, and about these sweet and very individual little people in the process.
I was very fortunate that my other child/children were able to be present at my second and third births. I love that this could be a special moment for them also. I think it's so important to include older siblings in as much of the "baby stuff" as possible. They should feel that the birth of a new sibling is about them too.
My sister recently gave birth to her 3rd (the sweet little girl at the top of the page), and I made a "New Baby Name Puzzle"...partly for a keepsake and partly to help her older kids celebrate their new baby sister. It is now available in our online store here and may be personalized for YOUR new baby.
Such an amazing event should be celebrated! Motherhood should be celebrated! Fatherhood should be celebrated! Life should be celebrated! FAMILY should be celebrated! And certainly this new little person and the life they are just beginning should be celebrated.
I wrote this poem last year (and have tweaked it several times since) in an attempt to express the meaning behind our name. It is also how I feel about my husband and my first attempt at a "serious" poem. I'm not always so great at expressing verbally expressing myself- I usually have to write it down. So here ya go...
Two Woven Hearts
When you took my hand
I gave you my heart,
And you gave me yours in return.
Loose strands that never
Seemed to fit quite right
Were now tied securely in yours.
I felt complete,
You held me tight
And what could I ask for more?
How peaceful the feeling to be with you.
Just Two Woven Hearts.
As time went on our strings grew worn
Tiny ends began to fray,
So we looked above for something more
And found His heart to bind ours strong and sure.
For you and I alone are not enough,
No matter what they may say.
To last forever we needed a third;
A perfect heart to draw us tighter
As Two Woven Hearts.
With our hearts bound stronger
We now had more love
To nurture new little hearts.
These young ones were tender
Their pieces unsure.
They would need our solid guide.
Our woven strings to hold up theirs
As together we laughed and cried.
More joy was ours than we could have imagined,
The tighter all our hearts drew near.
For you and me and God above,
With our children will always be more
Than Two Woven Hearts.
The poem would make a great wedding/anniversary gift on wood or glass or whatever....and could include the couple's names. As always, we can customize and do exactly what you want!
When I was younger and filled with sappy, unrealistic, Hollywood-induced notions of what love would be like...I was fascinated with the idea of "falling" in love. What took a few years and lots of learning experiences to realize is that love is not some whirlwind emotion that sweeps you unwittingly away into blissful happiness.
At one time, when I heard long-time couples speak of their peaceful connection and deep and abiding love for each other...it sounded so boring and disappointing compared to the sparks and fireworks of movie romances. But having had a small taste of each, I know that the sparks and fireworks die very quickly and leave very little behind if they are not replaced with something else....something better and of so much more substance. The kind of love that lasts is the kind that brings real joy, peace, and a feeling of wholeness. But it does not come without purposeful effort.
We must CHOOSE to love. We make that choice by CHOOSING to spend time with someone. We make that choice by showing love with our actions. "Love", the emotion, comes AFTER "Love", the verb. The choice to love someone is not a choice we simply make once and the deal is sealed. We have to make it EVERY DAY.
When I start feeling disconnected from my husband, it isn't ever because of something he did. It is ALWAYS because I have gotten distracted by other things and have forgotten to CHOOSE him. There's no such thing as "falling out of love" just as there is no such thing as "falling IN love." We grow apart from someone because we stop making the conscious effort to put them first, to think of their feelings instead of ours, and to SHOW them love.
I believe this is true for EVERY relationship, not just romantic love. The same thing happens with my kids. The more effort I put into spending time with them- the kind of time that THEY need...the easier it is to love them and be patient with them and we have much less contention in our home.
I have not yet met a person that I didn't grow to love to at least some degree once I had spent enough time with them to really get to know them. I grew up hearing the phrase, "you love those you serve," but came to know the truth of this principle while working as a C.N.A in a nursing home.
I have certainly not perfected relationships, but I know that the reward for our efforts to truly love those around us is REAL happiness. It's just so easy to forget, to get distracted by all of life's craziness, and to forget to spend our time doing what REALLY matters...so we all need reminders. This quote is mine, and it hangs in our family room.
And that's really what we are trying to do with our business...to help you show love to your loved ones. To help you remember to celebrate your relationships and make people feel loved. This isn't just a business for us, it's something we feel very strongly about because our family means so much to us and we hope yours does too.
I have a "love-hate" relationship with toddler learning games. I love to know that my kids are getting some kind of knowledge or skill out of something they like doing. But, I hate ALL of the PIECES! There are memory game cards, and puzzle pieces, and little blocks ALL OVER my house. We get a new game or puzzle and they play with it once or twice and we are super careful to get it all put back together and put away. But then pretty soon I'm finding a card to the newest memory game chewed up by the dog on the front porch, or a puzzle piece in the laundry. It makes me crazy!
I don't know how to solve this problem without spending all of my days putting puzzles back together and re-organizing toys OVER and OVER and OVER. But I do know that I want my kids to have a little bit of independence and to learn to take care of their things themselves and I want them to have puzzles. And while I think it will probably be several years still before we make much progress in that area, I have noticed that there are a few things that seem to help. So I suppose my goal is to minimize the mess, while still allowing them some exploration and the chance to learn through play.
They do SO much better with the board puzzles (I don't know what they are really called- but you the know ones where all of the pieces fit inside a big board?). Like THIS...
I think it helps to simplify the "putting away" process when putting the shapes or letters in their places is part of the fun.
I also LOVE the toys/games that are made of wood. The cardboard/paper stuff gets chewed on by the baby and ruined way to easy.
So one of my latest lasering projects is to make durable and all-in-one games/puzzles/toys for toddlers out of wood....because I have toddlers at home, and that's what we do.
Another of my "toddler-learning-game" pet peeves is the memory game. Maybe it's just because I'm a little OCD, but I hate lining up a bunch of cards in nice straight even rows on the floor only to have some little person bump them with their hand or foot and scatter the little annoying cards across the floor. I've tried playing the game up to the table, but that doesn't usually work either so I made a "Memory Game" Puzzle. Now all of the little pieces have their place and it can be played on the couch or on floor or in the car.
This is just the beginning of my wooden toddler toy/game plans and I'm super excited about it. The Shape and ABC Puzzles are now available HERE and the Memory Game will be available to order SOON!
I didn't really ever "out-grow" scavenger hunts. In fact, I might be just a little obsessed with them. I love hunting for "treasure" just as much now as I did when I was little. But for me now, the "treasure" is finding thoughtful notes and meaningful gestures from loved ones. And even more fun than doing the searching...is planning the hunt!
I first started making what I call "Puzzle Scavenger Hunts" when I was in college. My first one (for a roommate's birthday) was a picture and a quote about friendship glued to a piece of cardboard from a cereal box. I hand drew the puzzle pieces and cut them out with a razor blade (It took forever and was probably not so pretty.). I recruited a bunch of guys from our apartment complex to bring my roommate one piece tied to a rose randomly throughout the day. It was so fun!
So as Father's Day has approached this year I tried to think of a fun "gift" for my husband that our kids could really be involved in. I found a quote about Dad and turned it into a puzzle, but luckily this time I didn't have to spend hours cutting little puzzle pieces out of a cereal box by hand because laser engraving is AWESOME!
My husband will not be home for Father's Day on Sunday, so we planned our surprise for last weekend. I hand-wrote the kids' responses to the question, "What do you love about Dad?" on the backs of the puzzle pieces. Then, my oldest helped me think of places in the house to hide them and we wrote up clues together (the first few anyway...and then he lost patience and went to play). We put each puzzle piece and the next clue in 16 separate (and numbered for my benefit) envelopes.
While Dad was outside for a while, my 5-year-old and 3-year-old hid the envelopes in their spots. They couldn't stop bouncing in excitement while they waited for him to come in. When he did, the kids handed him an envelope with the first clue to start the hunt. The kids couldn't resist giving lots of hints and were so proud of the their hiding skills. They were hilarious! My husband loved it, the kids loved it, and they got so much more out of it than just buying a present at the store.
Feel free to use this scavenger hunt for YOUR Father's Day celebrations this weekend or....make up your own!
And in case you can't decipher the "answers" to my clues...here they are:
#1- The door Dad come through when he comes home.
#2- Inside one of Dad's shoes.
#3- Under the dining table.
#4- In the shower.
#5- Near the computer.
#6- Inside the dishwasher.
#7- Near (or inside, under, etc) the washing machine.
#8- In the car.
#9- In Dad's closet (or in his dresser).
#10- By Dad's razor.
#11- On the front porch (ya know the song, "From My Front Porch Looking In". Caleb had to have help with this one.)
#12- By the DVD's
#13- Under the couch cushion.
#14- In the freezer.
#15- In the bowl cupboard.
#16- Under Dad's pillow.
Also, I numbered my envelopes with the number of the place they were to hidden. So for example, clue #2 was inside envelope #1 which was hidden by the back door and clue #1 was in the envelope marked "Dad". I get easily confused, so this helped me keep them all straight. :)
You can also design your very own personalized puzzle HERE and we'll laser it up for you.
Happy Father's Day!
Strives to celebrates the every-day special moments. Seeks new adventures...