Christmas Wall Sign: It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Christmas slate plaque, Merry Christmas wall sign

Clicking on the photo above will take you to the ordering information for our beautiful, festive and unique Merry Christmas slate plaque. This lovely Christmas sign is especially great if you will be hosting a Christmas party, dinner, or any type of holiday get together. The powerful message is sure to resonate with anyone who enters your home. Always remember, It’s a Wonderful Life.

Here’s an informative movie review of the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

My Baby is 2 Years Old!

(3-7-11).

On March 7th our darling turned 2-years-old!

Time is really zooming by. Looks like it has been 5 months since I’ve posted here. Well a 5-month gap isn’t too bad (lol). I’ve been super-busy with so many things. Who isn’t super-busy these days? I really do long for simpler times.

For my daughter’s first birthday, I made this post: My Baby is One Years Old

Here are some photos from that post:

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So what I am using my business blog for is to not only post gift ideas, baby shower ideas and birthday party ideas, but to also provide the information where various gifts and products can be purchased.

(These photos below are courtesy of a partner site)

butterfly party cookies, birthday party food Butterfly-Birthday-Party-Favor-Boxes butterfly party decoration

So for anyone looking for (butterfly-themed) birthday party ideas, this post on my other blog gives a great place to start and shows you where the party decorations above can be purchased.

Prayer Break

This is my favorite and most moving scripture, and one I certainly need to read and meditate on every day.

The Lord is My Shepard

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me besides the still waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
 Surely goodness and mercy will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

-Psalm23

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Song of the Day: I Just Want to be Your Everything

 

I’m dedicating this song to my husband.

I remember being a little girl and, during those nice family nights, mom and dad sometimes would both be in a great mood and they’d start dancing to songs that reminded them of their teenage-love years. (They’ve been together since they were 16 years-old.) Of course, my sisters and I would laugh; but it was so comforting to see mom and dad smiling, dancing, showing how much they love each other, and reminiscing over their teenage years.

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One day when Megan is older, she’s going to be in the spot I was and be that little girl smiling and laughing as her parents dance to a love song.

Thankful Thursday: Like Mother, Like Daughter

Last week Meg and I had another great evening at the pier. No big ole’ stroller, I just carried her around and she did a lot of walking–with me holding her hands from the back. She is so funny. Sometimes there are big dogs out there, and they would walk past us on the side walk. Of course, their owners would have the dogs’ mouths covered up and have the dogs on a leash. However, I noticed that the big animals don’t scare Meg at this point. She actually starts walking towards them.

She doesn’t have that fear of the unknown yet. Well, besides strangers. She doesn’t like any stranger trying to hold her or even to get really close to her. The other day we were out there, the ducks were getting really close and feisty. They kept looking like they wanted to attack and take Megan out of my lap. So there were a few times we had to get up and move away from the wild ducks. She wasn’t scared though, but I was taken aback.

She gets so much attention when we’re out. On this most recent outing, it must was about 8 people/couples wanting to play and talk with her.

She used to be scared of the fountain, but she certainly wasn’t last week. The photo below was taken in November and she wasn’t with me on that night. However, it’s the same huge fountain that we sat near last week during sunset. And Miss Meg started taking her shoes off and was trying to wiggle out of my arms and get in the fountain!!

It was hilarious. I sat her down so she could dip her little hands in the fountain, but I was surprised and tickled pink that she wanted to get in there. I think she thought it was bath time since she now takes baths in the regular tub and not the kiddie tubs anymore.

We walked along this pier. I have a wonderful picture of her holding onto the rails and looking at the water. That’s when I thought to myself, she’s going to be a nature lover just like mommy!

The picture below was taken with my cell phone. It doesn’t matter….DSLR (which I never really carry anymore) or cell phone, practice framing your photos! We’ll buy her a camera when she gets older and go on many nature photo shoots.

Thankful.

A Mother’s Spirit

A Mother's Love by Kolonji

I’m realizing I had a void in my life before becoming a mom and that’s partly why I was so drawn to working with kids. Now, I’m like a different person when it comes to other people’s kids. I’m somewhat selfish now, in the sense that I realize how micro my time and life is, and I want all my nurturing and patience to go to my kids/family kids.

That’s actually why I knew it was time to try and have my own, because I kept getting heartbroken and sickened with stress from other people’s abused, neglected, traumatized kids that came into my life. I remember being pregnant and still crying over all these kids I couldn’t help. I always wondered why I would cross paths with such hurting and suffering children, yet I wouldn’t be able to help them out of their situation. It felt like torture, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to have my own child if I didn’t step back for a while.

Now that I have my own little angel, I’m like, wow, I owe everything to her. I can’t let other parents’ mistakes tear me down and I bring that home to my child. I don’t see how youth workers and teachers with their own children not bring that stuff home. I accept the fact that I have a very obsessive, high strung personality and if it’s anything I can’t solve or conquer it runs me crazy(er) and eats me alive. I don’t see how teachers/counselors/youth workers of troubled children turn it all off when it’s time to deal with their own kids.

I’m finally so at peace. I don’t feel like I failed all those other kids in past. The group of 5th grade, inner city, troubled students where I had to quit, though I loved them (probably too much), since having my own child I no longer feel like I failed them or any other kids I couldn’t help. I must have tried so hard, too hard, because I had a void because I wasn’t a mom. It’s amazing how you can look back and put the pieces of the puzzle together. I would like to use my love for education in a different way, not just with kids. I actually enjoyed working with elderly people, to my surprise. I learned so much about living life, growing old, and death.
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Art Credit: I believe it is called “A Mother’s Love by Kolonji.”
http://imgfave.com

10 things I want to say to my daughter

1)You’re currently 13 months old!

2)You’re not walking on your own yet, but you love to walk while holding our hands and holding onto furniture.

3)You love to push small boxes, chairs, and anything with wheels around the house.

4)We went to the Strawberry Festival this past weekend. When I took you out of the stroller you decided you wanted to push the stroller and you didn’t want me to pick you back up.

5)Your absolute most favorite food in the world is…..RED GRAPES!! You love love love them.

6)You like music, and you like to do baby dances. You also really like the final Jeopardy music and will stop what you’re doing to look at the TV.

7)When you get older, I know that you will like music from the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s, because that is your momma’s favorite music; so anytime I listen to it with kids in the family, they end up liking, no LOVING those old songs.

8)You are such a mini-me with all of your talking and feistyness. Lately you’ve been pointing your fingers, while standing in your crib and giving some very serious baby talk. I call you the professa (professor). Your dad calls you Preacher Megan when you do that. We’ve got to get this on video.

9) You like to take books and pretend you are reading! Seems like you will take after your dad in this regard and read lots of books on your own when you get older.

10)It’s been an amazing journey with you. May God continue to have mercy on us and allow us to all have a beautiful future together. 

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**Hugs & Kisses**

Mother’s Day Ideas!

 I love Mother’s Day!

As I mentioned in this post, Happiest Little Girl in the World, I had a magical, wonderful childhood thanks to my wonderful parents. And of course, we just happen to live in a neighborhood with lots of kids, and a great location that provided us many opportunities to have so much fun.

Mother’s Day is an important day for me. I may let Christmas gifts and Birthday gifts slide, but Mother’s Day is that day where it’s important to make sure mom feels very special and appreciated as you look back on the years she has given so much to raise a family in this challenging world that is about everything but family.

Ideas

1)I’m in the process of starting my own (online) photography gift shop. I’m starting off by offering photo books and 4×6 and 5X7 prints as part of a gift package. My 1st photo book is Rainbow-themed. It will have rainbow photographs that I have taken, as well as prayers, quotes, cooking ideas (How to make a rainbow cake), a photography article (how to photograph a rainbow), and rainbow lesson ideas for teachers and parents. I will like to give my mother (and my motherinlaw) the first copies of my book that I hope does well. More on all of this later.

2)So I will basically like to have an entire table set up for mom with all types of little things, such as:

3)Colorful flowers, something to match the very slight rainbow theme I am going with. Of course this will be a joint effort of my sisters and me.

4)A CD with some family videos of her grand kids. Also will be the Easter speech videos from her grand kids. She saw the Easter speeches on my cell phone as best she could. She asked for these to go on a CD, so what better way than to make it for Mother’s day.

5)I’m thinking of putting together a little booklet where each grandkid write something for her and draw something. Gotta get the rainbow theme in here somehow.

6)A Giftcard for her to, I guess her favorite store.

7) I will need to have a photo of all of the grand kids on it.

8)She has already asked us to cook for her. (Why didn’t we think of that). So for dessert it will be the layered rainbow cake.

Photo Credits:

 http://static.tastykitchen.com
http://chella.typepad.com/
 

My Baby is One Years Old!

I loved planning our baby’s birthday celebration. Everything went great! I loved having all of the family together, and the kids had a blast. When it comes to kids, all you need is some food and enough room for them to run around and play! The adults were all smiles and enjoyed themselves as well. Everyone absolutely loved the decorations and ideas!

Megan wouldn’t let anyone hold her. She cried & fussed with her little pink tutu on. It’s funny at first, she and I were taking pictures, she was so happy and playful. As soon as the first guests walk through the door she starts fussing. If she doesn’t see you everyday she doesn’t know you at this point. She always loves the kids though.

This was the inside of the birthday card for everyone to sign:

Those are the lyrics from one of my favorite songs called “Black Butterfly” by Deniece Williams. I used to listen to this song all the time when I was a teenager. The song’s full lyrics were posted outside of Megan’s bedroom door. My baby gonna set the skies on fire! What beautiful lyrics…makes me cry.

I’m very picky (extremely!) and am usually very much against invites where you hand write anything, but it really didn’t matter as these weren’t mailed out. They were just given out for fun and keepsake:

I wrapped a computer desk with red paper and made it the ‘Red & White Table’ with peppermint favors at the top…

….And at the bottom, in between these 2 hearts  was a pearl necklace which had “The name Megan means pearl” written near it. There was a label that said “Butterfly Kisses” because the hearts had Hershey’s Kisses in them.

Each of the kids that were invited had to choose a butterfly picture to color. I framed them and put them in an “Art Gallery” for the party. The one below is from my 6 year- old nephew Will. Bless his heart; okay bless his parents’ hearts because he was so excited about the party that he didn’t sleep at all the night before!

This poem was also in the gallery. I didn’t care about the ink getting low; it was readable so I didn’t reprint it. I try hard to stop being a perfectionist so I was proud of myself for letting this stay just like it was. That’s paper I bought during my teaching days.

The display table had this book on it.  Of course none of the kids touched the book, but of course they grabbed those noise maker things. I love my babies.

Below is one of the poems that was displayed. .As I read a lot of butterfly poetry to decide which ones to choose, I noticed that the poems were all so beautiful. WOW. I usually do not like poetry because I usually don’t get it & had to interpret it in High school and my interpretation would always be wrong. Like how am I supposed to know what the authors meant when they wrote their poetry? All of the butterfly poems were so straight forward, deep & powerful I would have made a “Megan’s Book of Butterfly Poetry” if  I would have had time.

Display table. I adore bows and tulle.

Sunflowers. I can’t begin to explain how much I LOVE flowers and especially these sunflowers. Goodness! At first I was going to use Crazy Daisies, but then I saw the sunflowers. I would ask the floral people if the flowers would be in bloom on her party date and was smiling a mile wide when they said yes.

I found information on how sunflowers relate to butterflies and I printed it and displayed it.

These things are hard to photograph because they are very dark in the center but then the petals are very light. Especially since I only have a pop up flash, I try to use natural light & avoid flash most of the time, but that just didn’t happen this time. I had to use flash to get the (somewhat) detail of the center/head.

The jar kept tipping over so I had to position them in a certain way.

Below is natural light coming in from the balcony. So when it was time to take photos of Megan and other people….their movement caused the photos to be blurry as my camera remained set for still life, no flash, so basically wide aperture and slow shutter speed.

As I was reading a critique of someone else’s blurry photo, lol, I was supposed to: 1)Increase shutter speed to freeze motion 2)When you alter one setting you are trading off something else. So since less light would be coming in by increasing shutter speed, I would need to increase ISO. I shoot in Manual Mode and am thrilled with how far I’ve come with understanding how to use available light. However, it’s time to also focus on decreasing motion blur.

partay 0655

My husband took this photo; and it’s a good one! My little handwriting can be rough.

From the Mouth of Babes

My niece (age 9) goes: “Ummm so we’re at a party and we still have to do school work?”

My other niece (age 10) called after the party saying she loved how their pictures were framed and she was giving me some ideas about the Butterfly Kisses & Hershey’s Kisses.

I was so rushing by this time, the day before the party. I was like…ok, 2 pink flower photos of mine plus the green paper fit into the pink & green color scheme. I doubt anyone picked up on that detail. My husband already told me I was quite “special” when I was mentioning how the balloons’ designs and colors need to be a certain way. He said no one will notice. I know that’s true, but I love being super-detailed. This Photo Shop section was for parents & grandparents to pick out past years photos of their kids and grand kids, as well as some tutu photos of Megan. There was a black and white photo of Megan in a gray frame that said “Bless this Child.”

Butterfly jewelry

The paper it’s printed on has jewelry on it. That’s some cute paper I bought during my teaching days.

I made sure I had the silver one. I’m so attached to it.((Heart)) When my mother-in-law came back later that night she still had on her necklace. My best friend said she’s keeping her bracelet because it’s so sentimental. Indeed it is. (Blurry photo)

These are the (common) names of different butterflies. They were placed throughout the party area.

A cupcake cake….also called Pull Apart Cake. There was also some little debbie cakes called Butterfly Cakes because they were shaped like butterflies.

Fly Away…

We had a balloon on the balcony with butterflies on and it, and the kids counted down so that Megan (with my help) can release the balloon into the air. It floated up and behind the building. Awwww, man, we didn’t get to see it float way. We’ll pay attention to the wind’s direction next time.

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For an update, view this post: My Baby is 2 Years Old!

Birthday Party Ideas (Part 2)

Part 1 is here.

Theme: Butterfly

Invitations

Since it’s only going to be close family & friends there, I really don’t see the need to focus on invites.  For keepsakes, I might get some darling ones I saw in Dollar Tree though they didn’t match my theme. They had a kitten on them & were too cute.

Food/Menu 

This is the hardest part for me. I wanted to do all platters because they are so pretty, but like my sister said platters are just so costly. One year..not this one though, lol.

Food platters sure do cost: Sandwiches??

Fruit?? Pizza, chips, & dip?? Goodness I just remembered we’ll need drinks as well.

The Cake:

They are fairies but still match the butterfly (and garden/flower) theme. At first I wanted cupcakes with butterflies on top, but after seeing this cake I will scratch the cupcake idea.

Edited: Ok I’m changing my mind about the cake. I LOVE this cake below. Maybe the store (or I) can add some butterflies so it will match the theme.

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*Other ideas*

Okay, I have had to ban myself from coming up with anymore ideas. I already have too too much to buy, plan for, and put together.

Display Table: 

Decorations: I will just have to go in stores and see, at this point I can’t come up with how I want it until I start putting something together. I’m thinking small candles, a nice table cover, and of course butterfly things. The main things on the display table will be the Pregnancy/Newborn Photobook (I have scratched the idea of making a photo book about her 1st year for now. Maybe later. I need to go back to printing individual pictures) I was thinking about making a book about her 1st year & giving a copy to each of her grandmothers for Mother’s Day.

A Card(s) for everyone to sign:

The outside of the card will have her picture on it. It will say “Megan is Number One.” 🙂 The inside will have a picture of a black & white butterfly. The bottom of the inside will say:

“Our Little Butterfly, set the skies on fire,

Rise up even higher,

so the ageless winds of time,

can catch your wings.”

That’s a quote from one of my favorite songs called “Black Butterfly.”

The back of the card will have a photo of her the day she was born. It will say, “One Year Ago…” March 7, 2011.

Butterfly Garden

I want to make (a very small) one, real flowers & all,  and put it on the balcony. This will be a good educational component for the kids (and adults too!). I will print some educational information to put near it. I’m not expecting it to actually attract butterflies because I just don’t have the time to research & find the type of flowers needed for my area and season. But it should be interesting & educational either way. I’d like to include a little butterfly house as well. The kids will love this.

When I was on a photo shoot in the gardens I came across a large, professionally created butterfly garden.

Butterfly Treats or Favors

Guests can put some candy in the plastic butterflies above.

Butterfly Gallery

The kids will choose a picture of a different butterfly before the party. They will color it (crayons, markers, water color..), and I will frame it (maybe?) & display it & call it a gallery.

Photo Credits:
http://www.miacarina.com; http://www.publix.com; http://party.tipjunkie.com; http://www.bridaloccasion.com

Ideas for Meg’s First Birthday Party

At first, after seeing the expenses & stress from other parents planning their kids’ parties, my husband & I agreed that we would just keep it really simple and have more like a ‘get together’ just for the kids. I was still going to do my themes though. But my husband started calling people saying “Megan’s party.” I was like, okaaaaaay, so are you giving me the green light to basically turn this into a partay and ‘be me & do what I do.” I tend to get really deep, okay obsessive, over things like this. I truly love coming up with ideas & planning & creating things.

I have started planning a little late and may not be able to pull everything off this year.

Theme: Butterfly

Similar to those type of butterflies in above photo. Photo Credit: http://www.funny-wedding-ideas.com

Invitations: ????

Food/Menu: ????

Cake vs Cupcakes: I prefer cupcakes for her first Bday. Okay edit: My husband just said we should have a mini cake; will do. Cupcakes with butterflies on top:

Photo Credit: http://cupcakespictures.com

Goodie Bags/Education for the kids: I guess candy and something educational about butterflies. I know most people don’t consider incorporating academics into a party, but I think it will show the kids how learning can & should be fun and applicable to their everyday lives. If I had more planning time, I’d have the kids either do a theme-related (art) activity before the party (& have it nicely displayed at the party) or have them do an activity or art during the party.

Display Table: Flowers & 2 Photobooks. The first book is the Pregnancy & Newborn photo book I made. I’m working on the 2nd book now, which is basically a review of her first year: First Holidays, First time in Church, First time at the Pier etc… & of course my other babies are always in my photo books a lot. I think it will be cool for the adults to  flip through these books. It can kind of be a daunting task because I try to make sure all of the kids are equally represented in the books. And plus I don’t want to leave out any of the close adults in her life either so it’s a lot of work trying to include everyone.

Balloons: Let’s not forget balloons.

Outfits: Probably this:

photo credit: http://www.etsy.com/shop/SherbetBaby

Remembering a Special Childhood Friend

((I wrote this about 11 years ago for one of my former websites at the time. Our house was the hangout spot for all the neighborhood kids on our street. I think I had the best childhood ever. During the summer a bunch of kids would be at our house from as early as 9 am and stay around until 8 or 9 pm (or whenever my mama called us in). During the school year, after we finished our homework, we would also be outside for hours until mama called us in.))

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During the summer, Tookie would be on my porch at about 9 or 10 am, asking me to play UNO with him. We played many games in my neighborhood, but sometimes we would start the day off with hours of UNO. Sometimes Tookie would put his younger cousin Dusty up to the task of asking me to play UNO. After a while Dusty, who was about 7, and I, who was about 11, would sit on the porch at night and have these long conversations with each other.

 

I remember one night, just for a little moment,  I became a little jealous of Dusty when he told me that he was taking Spanish. I didn’t believe him, so I asked, “How do you say ‘house’ in Spanish?” I just knew he would not be able to answer that because I just randomly picked a word. In fact, I did not know a word of Spanish at the time (though in High School I would be chosen Most Outstanding Student in Spanish). So I was thinking, how could this little 7-year-old know how to say “house” in Spanish & me, a big 11 year old, not know any Spanish.  Then Dusty smiled at me and said “CASA!!”

Dusty was always smiling, and was a total sweetheart. He had smooth, caramel-brown skin and soft, curly hair. If I could have chosen any boy from the hood to be my little brother, I would have chosen Dusty. He died in 2000 at the age of 17 from a heart attack. (No, he was not overweight).

After he died, I kept saying that I wish I could have hugged him. So one night I had this dream that went back to my childhood. We were kids again & I got my hug in the dream, which made me wake up feeling relieved somehow.

Dusty, we sure did have a lot of fun didn’t we?:+)

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Photo Credit:
http://www.lssproducts.com

Meg’s New Year & Video Diary

Megan has started her first official New Year off with a bang! Well, on December 31st at about 11:50pm, Meg had been sleeping well so we assumed she would continue sleeping. We had our champagne ready and thought we’d toast for the New Year and get some much needed sleep. Well Miss Megan woke up at about 11:50 pm, I guess she wanted to see the ball drop in New York.

She played & played and just would not go back to sleep like she usually does after her late night feedings. We put her on her pallet and she started spinning around in circles. She started doing this during the end of December. She’d get on her stomach and spin around and start laughing. She was also doing her new pointing her finger thing. When I read to her I point at the words in the book so she has certainly picked that up. Her little fat fingers are too cute.

Basically, Meg kept playing & fighting sleep & didn’t fall asleep until 3:17 am! We couldn’t believe this & were exxxxxxxhausted.

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Pregnancy Video Diary

Going back to the previous New Year, to ring in 2011, I was 7 months pregnant. I came up with the idea to start a Video Pregnancy Diary for Megan & I started it at midnight on New Year’s 2011, since that was her year to be born. So right as we said good bye to 2010 and welcomed 2011, I made sure my husband had his hand on my belly. We started the video diary for Megan. I wanted her to be able to look back and see what we really looked and sounded like while ‘we’ were pregnant. We’d tell her how excited we were, what she means to us, and made lots of promises about the wonderful life we plan to give her. I would tell her all of my pregnancy symptoms and how she was acting while in my womb. We put the camera on the TV so she can get a glimpse of what the New Year’s celebration looked like during her birth year.

As my pregnancy went on, I/we would record more messages to Megan. I had always wanted it where the last message would be me saying, “Happy Birthday Megan, you will be born today.” Thankfully that’s how it happened. We made the last video diary entrance on March 7th, 2011 at about 1 am. I was in a hospital gown, my hair was wild  (but my sister checked me out and confirmed my hair was still cute—my sisters & I have this thing about not wanting our hair to look bad when we give birth :+)). Also, I wasn’t allowed to move because my water had broken, and the monitor was on my stomach so we could continue to hear her heart beat. I was so uncomfortable. I was having contractions but couldn’t feel them. So they must were very minor contractions.

I was getting a little nervous, and remember asking my husband to leave the TV on OWN (Oprah Winfrey’s Network) because hearing her voice helped to keep me calm. After a while though my husband grabbed that remote and had to turn away from Oprah. I think he had had enough. We both stayed up all night and did not sleep.

But, I got to say my cool quote I wanted to say, “Happy Birthday Megan, you will be born 6 hours from now.” And that she was. So as the New Year of 2012 rang in, I think Meg said ‘Y’all are not about to leave me out of this one. Don’t be fooled because I’m sleeping in my crib.  Now, Happy New Year, I’m ready to play!”