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Let Jesus Shine Through

Let Jesus Shine Through

LetJeusShineThroughIt’s early March here in Colorado and that means everything is a still a little brown outside.  My son and I LOVE to be outside, so every chance we get when the temperatures are even slightly warm enough, we head outside to enjoy the sunshine.  I noticed some green grass poking through all the dead brown grass a few days ago while we were walking to get the older kids from school.  We both were soo excited to see the little blades of green grass sprouting up – that means Spring is coming and with that, warmer weather and even more time outside!

It struck me this morning as I was driving and having this long conversation with my son about the coming Spring, that we all need some time to clean up our lives so that Jesus can shine through.   You see, there was a landscaping company out with their blowers, mowers, and rakes.  They were cleaning up the neighborhood by blowing away all the dead leaves, and power-raking all the withered brown grass.  Their hard work was giving everything a fresh clean look, and getting our neighborhood ready for new life to grow when Spring truly arrives.

This reminded me that we all need a good power-raking in our lives, a time to remove all the icky, old stuff that is clouding our vision and weighing us down so that Jesus can shine through!  Just think of how hard it is to see the good in your life when your life is so full of hurt, pain, and sorrow?  Or when you are weighed down by a broken relationship?  Sometimes we get so worn down from the hurt in our lives that our light is no longer shining, I’ve been there and I understand.   It’s time to clean it up, remove it, mend the hurt and start fresh so Jesus can grow your life!  Spring is an excellent time to take a good look at your life and see if there are hidden places or very open places you can heal and fix so that Jesus can shine through!

“Don’t hide your light!  Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father.”  — Matthew 5:16

 

LetJeusShineThrough

 

 

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March 2, 20170 commentsRead More
Snowboarding, Pain, and God’s Glory

Snowboarding, Pain, and God’s Glory

SnowboardingThe last 3 weeks have been hard for me.  I’m not sure if many of you know, but I went snowboarding before Christmas, and it was awful.  Why, you might ask?  It was my very first time on a board and I honestly didn’t stay upright on my board long enough to know if it’s even fun.  I fell so many times and I had NO idea that it would hurt as bad as it did to fall.  I kept thinking, oh it’s just snow, how hard could it hurt to fall on my very padded butt?  Ooooohhhh, was I wrong.

The first time I feel backwards on my butt it was like a rug was pulled right out from underneath me and I hit the snow so hard that it hurt from my bum all the way up to my skull, and I wasn’t even moving!!  I fell so many times my first day on the slopes that my body hurt in places that I didn’t know it could hurt in.  In fact, I only made it down the baby bunny hill two times the entire day I was up there. and after falling over and over and over again on the way down the hill I’d finally had enough.  Snowboarding might be fun, but I’m not sure my body can take really finding out for sure if it is.

You see, after that horribly painful day, my body was feeling very sore, but still functionable.  I continued with my regular running and exercise class schedule which has me working out 5-6 days a week for about an hour.  Then, I decided I better give this snowboarding thing one more try, but on a much smaller scale – so I spent a morning boarding down a very small sledding hill in my neighborhood.  Not nearlyl as scary and actually a little bit fun.  :) I made it down the sledding hill about 25 times before I was just tuckered out, but I had 2 really good falls on my bum.  My back hurt for the rest of the day and into the next.  It was so sore, but it went away and I kept up with regular life again.

A few days later, I got a bur in my saddle to start tidying my whole house, which you can read all about here.  I got so excited to tidy, that I roped my husband into tidying our storage room.  We spent an entire weekend buried in the basement, sorting boxes and boxes of stuff.  I went to pick up a box at one point and felt a pinch in my back that spasamed my whole back and it’s now 3 weeks later and I’m still dealing with it.  3 weeks!!! It feels like an eternity to me.  I know how dumb that sounds because God bless all the people out there that deal with chronic pain and injuries – I don’t know how you do it.  I’ve been to my amazing chiropractor quite a bit in the last 3 weeks and am eternally grateful to her and all that she does.  She has explained to me that back pain is complicated and can be extremely frustrating to deal with.  I’m not sure when my back with finally relax and calm down, but I spent the first 2 weeks babying my back and not lifting anything heavy.  Of course that also meant no working out or running at all and for me, that’s really hard as I love doing both of those things.

My chiropractor also told me that she is pretty certain the spasam is from snowboarding.  Did you all hear that?? Snowboarding.  From the continual falling over and over and over, that I weakened my lower back muscles so badly and when I continued with my regular life and activity it finally gave up on me.  You can’t fall that much and that hard without some serious damage being done to your body.  Shoot!  And to think I hurt my body this bad doing something that I didn’t want to do anyways.  Double bummer.  My attempt at trying to be brave for my kids worked, but I also injured myself and that is where God comes in with a life lesson.

So, Katrina, connect the dots.  What do you mean the life lesson?  Ok, I’m glad you asked….  I was at my Community Bible Study yesterday and was struck by a very deep answer to a question that I ponder all the time.  I wonder all the time what is God’s purpose for my life, and if I’m actually doing what I should be doing?

Isaiah 43:7 says, “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”  Did you catch that?  It’s the whole created for my glory part.  It’s not about if I’m doing the exact thing that God wants me to be doing and trying to figure that one thing out for the rest of my life, my life is not mine to begin with and what I want for my life is not the issue.  My life is from God, created by God, given to me as a gift from God and the whole point of my life is to bring Glory to my Father – not glory to myself.  Like a smack in the face huh?  Yep, I know.

I know what you are thinking…you are losing me Katrina, what does that have to do with snowboarding and back pain?  Snowboarding was born out of my husband’s desire for our family to all go skiing together.  He loves to ski and he wants me and my kids to love it too.  The only problem, I’ve never liked skiing, so I figured I would try snowboarding instead because the kids wanted to try to skiing so bad this year.  It was doomed before we even went, but I put on my bravest face and tried.  The kids loved it, the husband loved it, but mommy had an entirely different experience.

While I’m proud of myself for doing something that scared me out of my mind, I’m super annoyed that trying something I didn’t want to do to begin with is now keeping me from doing things I love to do.  Me, I, me, me, me….that’s the problem.  I keep thinking my life is all about me and what I want.  I keep thinking that just because it’s my life that I have some right to how it goes.  If I was able to do my regular working out I would be able to drop those additional 20lbs that I was so determined to lose early this year.  Again, it’s all about me.  As I was sitting at Community Bible Study this past week God whispered a truth to me – the fact that my life is not mine.  My life is for God and to glorify Him with what He has given me.  Whether that is 20lbs heavier than I want to be or not.  It’s about my attitude and my gratefulness for what He gave me and how I use that for His glory.

Ouch.  Such a good truth though.

Snowboarding

 

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February 5, 20170 commentsRead More
Time To Tidy Up: Hello 2017

Time To Tidy Up: Hello 2017

TimeToTidyUpI’m happier than I should be that 2016 is over.  I have no regrets about leaving that year behind me.  It wasn’t a horrible year, it wasn’t a great year, it was just a year and I’m over it.  I’m happy to welcome 2017 and have high hopes that it’s going to be epic!  While I’m trying not to get ahead of myself or of what the Lord has in store for me this upcoming year, I’m still feeling very intrigued about what lays ahead.  Last year was an “off” year for me.  I struggled a lot with my emotions, my overall body contentment, and mostly with my sense of overall purpose and direction in my life.  Heavy stuff huh?  Yeah, I know, and it was hard to wallow through it all.  I feel like dreams I had built, toiled over, and angrily suffered through were laid to rest, friendships were built and lost, days of pounding my body in the gym were accomplished with not much gain, and I registered defeat in more ways that I want to count.  I learned that God doesn’t always write out His plans for your life on a neon sign, clear as can be, so you don’t mistake it – He just asks that you trust Him even when you have no idea what is going on.  I was in that space so many days this year that I found myself doubting who God is and if He really is there for me – and in all my days on this earth, I have never doubted God’s love for me.  Now do you see why I’m read for this year to be over?

I learned something else about myself that I’ve never seen before – I don’t function well in chaos.  I get stressed out really easy and it doesn’t take much for me to go from “good mommy” to “crazy-stressed-angry mommy” when the situation becomes overly chaotic.  When I get stressed, I instantly go into overdrive of trying to de-stress – I clean my environment, I yell, I get mad at my kids, I start making lists, little things out of place make me yell even louder, I demand that my kids pitch in and help me clean, I just turn into a crazy person trying to tidy up and ultimately calm down.  A classic example is everyday when my older kids get home from school.  They come in the door and set their backpacks in the middle of the floor of the kitchen and start unpacking them, wanting to show me everything inside – the craft they made in class, their math test, the art project they are working on, their spelling homework, etc.  All while my youngest (who has been home with me all day) is vying for my attention as well, wanting a snack, drink and to show me anything he can find at that moment to show me, plus he is usually singing a silly song about stinky farts at the same time (lovely – huh?).  While all this is going on, I usually have music playing in the background (yep, because I’m crazy) and am trying to prepare a snack so we all can re-fuel before starting homework.

This mom does not smile through all of this, nor do I patiently listen as they show me items, or do I calmly ask them all to sit at the table so we can eat a snack.  I try to take a deep breath, then my heart starts to beat faster as I get more and more stressed by all the chaos of kids, dishes, dinner prep, laundry, homework, shoes in the middle of the floor, backpacks not hung up, etc and I end up yelling and throwing a mommy tantrum trying to get everything back to a normal stress level.  This is so dumb.  It usually puts the kids in a bad mood and me too and then we all spend more time trying to repair our attitudes towards each other.  By this time, it’s 5pm, and I’m stressed and starving and all I want to fix my sour mood and chaotic feelings running through me is a brownie.  Yep, I love brownies – but you all know that.  I’ll make dinner and simultaneously whip up a batch of brownies.  You see where I’m going??  It’s a horrible downward spiral.  Chaos and stress are detrimental to me and where I’m going in life.   I know I can’t eliminate all the stress in my life, I mean seriously, I have 3 kids, life is going to be stressful, but I can help identify the stress triggers and work at fixing them.

A very dear friend of mine told me about a book she is reading, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo.  This book caught my attention because I love to organize and I love the feeling of a tidy house.  I love to discard stuff, sell it, and move on.  My house is usually very tidy – but it could be so much more simplified.  I’m totally hooked on this book.  I’m only about 40 pages in, but I’m hooked!  I’m going to spend the next couple months reading this book, doing what it says and tidying up my home, heart, and my life, and I plan to blog about as I go.

In her book, Marie asks “Why do you want to tidy?”  When you can answer that question you can begin.  For me, I want to tidy to because I want to have a clean and orderly house so that I don’t feel stressed out by my environment.  If I’m not feeling stressed out by my environment I can pay more attention to trying new things, having more fun with my family, eating healthier foods, getting better sleep, and overall being a better wife and mom.  I do believe that all of these things can be accomplished by having a tidy home, because your home is so much more than just the place to lay your head at night.  As a mom, it’s my work – it’s where I put my time and energy, it’s how I make money, it’s how I prove my worth, it’s who I am at this point in my life.

I’m hopeful that God teaches me a lot about myself and the deep-rooted reasons why I do some of the same things over and over and expect a different result.  I want change, which is really hard to say, because I HATE change, but I’m ready for it.

Have you read Marie Kondo’s book?  What did you think?  What did you learn?

TimeToTidyUp

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January 3, 20170 commentsRead More
Quotes by Katrina #4

Quotes by Katrina #4

It’s hard to remember this when you are deep into relationships with people around you.  Sometimes you don’t realize just how much people around you influence you, but it’s so true that negative people have a problem with every solution.  Make sure you stay aware of the people you surround yourself with.  Keep pursuing your dreams! Quote_StayAwayFromNegPeople

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June 18, 20160 commentsRead More
Quotes By Katrina #3

Quotes By Katrina #3

I love how true this is.  God is not impressed with your abundance or lack there of wealth.  He is much more concerned with your heart.  1 Chronicles 28:9 “…for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.”  I’d much rather share the little I have with others than hoard a huge pile of wealth from others.  What about you?  Give generously and you will be blessed! GodIsNotImpressed

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June 16, 20160 commentsRead More
Being A Mom Hurts

Being A Mom Hurts

BeingAMomHurtsWhat is it about a child’s birthday party that can cause so much motherhood turmoil?  Forget about all the stress over color schemes, themes, balloons, food, to make a cake or just provide cupcakes, frosting colors, candles, games, to give out goodie bags or not, and the worst part of all – the guest list.  Serious drama and stress flows out of birthday party planning for me.

Let’s back up a few steps…something you should know about me and my amazing mom.  When I was a kid, my birthday parties were something I looked forward to ALL year long.  My mom would make birthdays super special and over the top!  Plus, she would come up with these amazing themes that she would manage to do on a very tight budget and she always had time to hand make our cakes.  I remember some amazing cakes…there was once an adorable Strawberry Shortcake cake that was a thing of fine art (that cake in the picture is my ACTUAL cake my mom made me when I was 3)!  I also remember the Barbie skirt cake, you know the one, where you stick Barbie on the top of a cake that looks like her skirt.  My mom was doing this 30 years ago, long before this idea was all over Pinterest!  She made birthdays a monumental event that made me feel like the most special kid in the whole world – even if not a soul showed up to it!

Fast forward 30 years later and my mom has successfully passed the birthday party baton to me.  I LOVE planning their parties, I love making a HUGE mess at them, I love seeing the excitement on their faces when their friends come over and truly enjoy their wacky mom.  I love personally hand-making their invitations, and spending hours and hours researching ideas of fun things to do during their parties.  I start planning their parties right after Christmas – 6 months in advance, and I’m not kidding one bit – this gives me 6 months to fine tune the chaos and find the best deals on all the supplies.  Plus, it takes us a very long time to pick out the cake design – and I’m the luckiest mom in the world because my mom still creates amazing cakes for their parties each year (plus, sometimes I even get to help – but my mom is the true artist for all things cake – I’m better with paper).

As you can see, I’m pretty psychotic about birthdays and I’m learning this year that I care about them so much more than my kids do.  While I’m glad to learn this lesson – talk about huge reality check – it’s still really sad at the same time.  And it should come as no surprise that I care more about who all can come to their parties than they do.  Which is sooooo silly!!!

More experienced moms tell me, “You will hurt so much more than your kids hurt, when they are hurting” – it’s silly, but it’s so true.  Classic example – remember that one time when you were younger and all the other kids got picked for the game of dodgeball and you were the last one chosen?  Ouch.  Or that time you were hoping the really cute boy would ask you to Prom – but he asked your best friend instead?  Or that time you didn’t get invited to that one birthday party that all your other friends got invited to?  (I was there – more times than I would like to admit – break out the Double Stuffed Oreos right now).

I’ve honestly not experienced this whole idea of ‘hurting more than my kids are hurting’ very much yet.  My kids are not that old yet – and my oldest is a boy – he just doesn’t have much drama yet – or maybe he just doesn’t get involved in it, but it’s happened a lot more than I would like lately with my 1st grade daughter.  School is hard for girls and the drama starts at a young age.  She has had a rough year, she tries to act brave when she’s not included with her friends, but I’ve seen the tears that she wipes away when no one is looking, and it totally kills me!

I’m learning that I really do hurt so much more than they do, which makes me feel like a total wimpy mom.  If my daughter can absently brush off not being invited to a birthday party, why can’t I brush off the fact that she was not invited?  I mean seriously, who is the adult here?  This is my time to admit just how human I am.  I’m still that kid who didn’t get invited to the “cool girls’” birthday party because I wasn’t stick thin and didn’t have long hair.  My mom likes to tell me that I was “too cool” for all those girls, but it still hurts when you are left out – and it still hurts you as a mom when your child is left out, not picked, bullied, etc.  I personally think it hurts us as moms so much because it feels like they are not picking us – even though it really has nothing to do with us!

You would think that as a grown woman I would have this figured out and would know not to take things so personally – especially when it’s usually out of no spite at all that our child was not chosen.  It’s just life.  Plain and simple.

My mom gave me some great advice and thoughts to ponder when you find yourself in this situation – because I’m sure if you are not in this situation yet, you will be soon!

  1. Being a mom hurts, but is so joyful too!
  2. God knows what is going on with each situation your child is in.  He is watching and is there for every part of it.
  3. God uses these hard situations to teach us about life and how to personally treat people.  Also how to develop compassion for others that we hurt.
  4. When you kids are hurt it teaches them what real love is, and ugly sorrow lets us learn the true meaning of joy.
  5. Our job as moms is to teach our kids from God’s perspective through these types of situations and at the same time God will use it to teach us moms as well.
  6. God loves you.  Before, during and after anything that happens, He loves you and longs for you to be loved by Him.

Isn’t my mom amazing?!  Now I need to let her advice and words sink in.

Hugs momma!  Praying for you all!

BeingAMomHurts

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May 23, 20162 commentsRead More
Comparison Will Kill Your Joy

Comparison Will Kill Your Joy

dawn-nature-sunset-womanDon’t compare your beginning to someone else’s end…

Since it’s the beginning of a new year, it’s that time when all your friends and business associates on Facebook are writing out deep thoughts and aspirations about all the amazing things they plan to do in the new year.  I don’t know about you, but this year I’ve not wanted to think too deeply about goal setting.  I’ve not wanted to jump on the “my plans for the upcoming year” bandwagon, and here’s why.  Last year, not a lot went how I had “planned” it to.  I didn’t reach very many of my big goals, let alone, my easy-to-reach goals.  Which is so not me.  I tend to make big goals and hit them, and if I don’t hit them I absolutely hit a whole bunch of my easier to reach goals on the way.  So this new year, I’m dragging my feet to even think about my goals for the year.

I know that comparison will kill my joy, but gosh it’s really hard to not compare where I’m at with those around me.  I see my happier, healthier, skinnier, wealthier friends around me and I can’t help but compare.  Her smaller waist and brand new SUV, and she just dropped off her well-groomed son at an awesome preschool, to my bed-head mis-matched son who rides in my recently door dinged older SUV, to drop off his siblings at school with a mommy who LOVES chocolate and ate way too much of it over the holidays because she wasn’t feeling all that well….yep, it’s my story.  As you can see comparison is killing all my joy, especially if I don’t look at the whole story.

Who knows where my friend is on her journey.  Maybe she has been starving herself for months just to fit into that new outfit, and maybe her brand new SUV was purchased with money that she’s been saving for years, and maybe her in-laws wrote the check for her son to attend that preschool…who knows what her story is!  The problem is you have no idea where someone else’s story began or how far along they are on their journey.

Your super-skinny friend may not have been that thin a year ago, and your super-successful network marketing friend who is quickly climbing the ranks of her MLM didn’t start out at the top – she started down at level one just like everyone else.  If you are just beginning a new journey, whether to a smaller waist, or a larger paycheck, or to starting a new business – just remember that your journey is YOUR journey and GOD is in control.  He is the author of your life and your plans and instead of comparing your story or lack there of, start focusing on being thankful for what the Lord has given you.  Be willing to learn and grow AND be content at every step of the way.  You do that, and you’ll find joy all along the entire journey.

 

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January 6, 20162 commentsRead More
I Feel Like A Fraud

I Feel Like A Fraud

I feel like a fraud, and I hate admitting that – out loud, and online.  A fraud – sounds sooo awful, but I really do feel like a fraud – and a fraud not only in mommy hood, but with my friends, and at church, and with my spouse and with my family.   I’ve really been struggling this summer with a lot of my inner emotions – not sure what’s up with the summer, but I’ve spentOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA a lot of time deep thinking (don’t laugh, a lot of people will assume all I do giggle and smile and that I couldn’t possibly ever have a bad day, or think a deep thought…WRONG….it’s those people that I guess I can say I have faked out the most).

While at church this past weekend our awesome pastor was talking about hope.  It struck me that hope it exactly what I’m missing right now.  Big time.  In my limited world view, at this time in my life, I feel like hope is a total pipe dream – and would describe my heart at feeling completely hopeless – but part of the problem is that I’m not even sure why.  Call it mid-life crisis, or boredom, or being 35, I’m not sure, but hope is totally not there.

My pastor described hope this way: hope is a confident expectation – not just wishful thinking.  Have you ever actually thought about this though?  There are some things in life right now that I’m wishfully hoping will get better, like, I wish I could lose another 15lbs, and I wish I could go on a vacation, and I wish my business would grow faster.  Deep down though, those things really resonate with me as well and when they don’t come true, somewhere in the back of my brain I chalk them up as failures.  Then there is a whole other side of hope that runs so much deeper – all the way back to my childhood.  I grew up with parents that were amazing and they told me constantly just how amazing I was.  I grew up hearing on a very frequent basis that I was “special” and that God had very “special” plans for my life someday.  Now I feel like I’m still waiting for that something “special” to happen, and every day that goes by and I’ve not accomplished that something “special” I feel like my hope dwindles and my failure rate increases.  Quite honestly, it’s a terrible place to be living.

Have you ever watched yourself from the other side of the room?  I feel like I do this all the time…like I’m watching myself have an experience that I’m not really part of.  Almost like I’m on autopilot and my body is off doing something that I’ve not told it to do…I’m going through all the motions of my daily life as a mom and there are moments during the day when I stop myself and I wonder, why am I doing that?  I heard a great quote, “Try less and give more to God.”  How hard is that to really do though?  It’s like I feel so many things in life are no-brainers, total common sense, but why are they so hard to actually do?  Partly because I’m a total control freak.  I’m living that right now, and again it’s one more thing that I tend to chalk up to my failures.

I feel like I’m buried in just being.  I have no idea anymore what to even hope for.  But, for a bunch of you out there, I know you are going to say, “But, Katrina, aren’t you a believer in Christ? He should be your hope.”  You are right.  I’m absolutely a Christ believer, but the reality of how I feel right now is that I’m lost and feeling totally hopeless.

Do any of you listen to Thousand Foot Krutch?  Seriously one of my favorite bands and I love the message of one specific song called, “Lift It.”  I was driving to Target yesterday and this song was on – the lyric says:

In my temptation to walk away
And through the endless troubled days
There’s a hundred million ways
For me to release Your praise
And by and by, through the tears
And things You’ve taught me through the years
My whole life was designed by You
I’ll never know anyone half as true

The line that really resonated with me was “My whole life was designed by You” – even this un-special life that I feel like I’m living right now.  He’s designed this turmoil that I feel by just being me, He’s designed my days where I’m a referee and taxi driver all day long, He’s designed my body and how it looks and knows how incredibly frustrated it is when parts stay one size and don’t function like they should, and He’s designed my business and only He knows when it will succeed.  You know what?  I’m so glad that I’m not God and I don’t have to know the outcome or the lessons that lie in store for me.  Goodness can you imagine the stress of that job?

The key to hope is perspective.  I was so relieved to know that hope is not something that I can create for myself – it’s all from Christ.  Just take a moment to read Psalm 62:6-8.

“God, the one and only— I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I need comes from him, so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, An impregnable castle: I’m set for life.  How long will you gang up on me? How long will you run with the bullies? There’s nothing to you, any of you— rotten floorboards, worm-eaten rafters, Anthills plotting to bring down mountains, far gone in make-believe. You talk a good line, but every “blessing” breathes a curse.  God, the one and only— I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I hope for comes from him, so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, An impregnable castle: I’m set for life.  My help and glory are in God —granite-strength and safe-harbor-God— So trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be.” – The Message

Christ is where you will find your hope, He’s a safe place to be and for me that is all I need to hear.  If I’m in Christ, then I’m exactly where I need to be and hope will be found, even if it takes me a hard to find it. If your hope lost, ask Him for it, especially if you can’t see it on your own.

 

Photo credit to : Pol Sifter
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July 17, 20150 commentsRead More
How To Throw 2 Birthday Parties For Only $65

How To Throw 2 Birthday Parties For Only $65

HowToThrow2BdayPartiesTrue story – two weeks ago, I threw two birthday parties for less than $65 total.  Not kidding!  My two older kids both have birthdays in June, only weeks apart.  For some silly reason, this year I decided to have both of their parties on the same day!  Yes, I’m crazy, and I know what you are thinking – oh Katrina, that’s not a big deal – I’m sure you just had a joint party at a park with both sets of their friends and you just served cake and let the kids all play…right?  Um, no…that’s not what I did, I’m not that type of mom.  I’m the super crazy type of the mom that loves to throw at-home parties that are creative, fun, active, and have a unique theme!  Cue the theme music…yep, I’m certified crazy!  :)   But, the cool thing about their parties this year was that I did them both, on the same day, hours apart for less than $65 total and I’m going to tell you exactly how I did it!

20150606_142434My oldest son, Coen, turns 9 on June 25th.  We started planning his birthday party at the end of his party last year (yep, more crazy) and the theme he chose this year was Minute-To-Win-It.  Have you ever seen this game show?  If you haven’t you should watch it sometime – it’s a great show where contestants have 1 minute to complete silly tasks for money.  We had debated doing this theme the year before, but changed our minds at the last minute.  After attending a Minute-To-Win-It party, Coen was determined to do the same thing for his party this year.

My daughter, Makenzie, turned 6 on June 10th.  We started planning her party Mak_frontDoortheme last November when she quit her gymnastics class and decided she was a cheerleader instead.  :)  She fell in love with cheerleading and so her theme this year was..can you guess? Yep, cheerleading!  Picking a theme early is key, that way you can start planning, and picking up items that are on sale when you are out and about already.  And in fact, the colors for their parties was picked based off the fact that in December I just so happened to be at the Dollar Store buying stuff for Christmas and I came across cheerleader pom poms that were red, blue, and silver.  I bought 11 sets of pom poms and her party theme was decided!

When we picked Makenzie’s color scheme I honestly didn’t realize that Minute-To-Win-It’s logo was red, blue, and silver – I got super lucky!  The colors just worked out to be the same!

So here is how I planned, decorated, and threw their parties for under $50 total.  Let’s start with Makenzie’s Cheerleading party…

Cheerleading Party

Invitations: Her invitations were megaphones that we cut out and tied a ribbon around.  We M_inviteadded some glitter to the end and were good to go!  They were adorable, we made them ourselves and spent an afternoon decorating them.  I just googled megaphone clipart – picked one I liked and printed it out to fit inside the cute silver envelopes I had at home.  To make these, we used stuff we had at home – and were only making 12 invites, so it didn’t take very long, and was FREE.  We tend to use a lot of red stuff for our home parties so we always have a lot of red paper, red ribbon, etc.

Decorations:  Going along with our blue, red, and silver color scheme, I made a very simple and cute birthday banner that I found on Pintrest here from Chicfetti Parties.  This was really adorable!  I picked red 20150605_193834and blue for the colors, and after I printed and cut it out, I reinforced it by mounting it to blue poster board (that I actually found at the grocery store in the clearance section in March when I was doing my regular grocery shopping for the week – total score since they had a ton of them for $0.19 each).  I then punched holes in the top corners and laced a red ribbon through it that I picked up at the Dollar Store.  This was really cute!  The great t20150605_222515hing about it is that I can save it for another year as well!

I also used the rest of the poster board that I found in clearance to make posters for the decorations.  I simply printed out cheerleading clip art and sayings like “Go Team!”, “Happy Birthday Makenzie”, “Go, Fight, Win!”, etc. and glued them to the poster board.  I made several signs to hang around the house, as well as the front door for when guests arrived.  I made different sizes by cutting the poster board in half and even in fourths.  I also made one extra special sign that said “Happy Birthday Makenzie” that I p20150605_222625lanned to have the girls use in their group photo!  Besides the poster board, I didn’t have to buy anything else to make these decorations and they came out super cute!

I also used red and blue streamers that we found at a garage sale the day before the party for $.05, a blue table cloth that I got at the Dollar Store, 9 helium balloons (from the Dollar Store) and some of the pom poms.

Food and Supplies:  We served some simple snack foods of popcorn and pretzels and I made a big batch of strawberry water for my big drink dispenser.  I used only 3 sliced strawberries that I had purchased with my groceries for the week (I didn’t include these in my cost breakdown because I purchased them for my weekly groceries).  Great way to serve a lot of drinks and keeping the cost to a minimum.  All my paper products were leftovers from previous parties – again FREE!

Activities: I’ve learned over the years that the best way to do a party is to keep your guests busy from the second they walk in the door – I like to plan every minute of my party and keep them kind of short – usually only 90 minutes.  When guests arrived they were given their special set of pom poms, which had their name printed on the handles and these were their ‘thank you-take home gift’ as well.  Then we had them immediately  get their faces painted by a friend of mine.  She had very simple choices (megaphone, heart with the word ‘Cheer’ in it, star, etc) and of course these all included glitter!  I even got my face painted!

20150606_103354
After they all got their faces painted we had them color and decorate their own megaphones.  I made my own flat megaphone template and traced them on to pieces of the poster board we found in clearance.  I was able to get 2 megaphones per poster board.   The girls were able to color and decorate their own megaphone and then we stapled them together to form a megaphone.  These came out great and were super cute!  They got to use them when they learned their cheer!

Next, we made hair ties out of the ribbon I found at the Dollar Store.  I picked up 3 20150605_222700different colors and for the final color I used some ribbon that came with the treat bags for my son’s party that we didn’t plan to use for his party. Once they all had their hair ties finished, we put their hair in ponytails, applied some hair and body glitter that I already had to get them all pretty and ready to learn their cheer!  Some of the girls said the glitter was their favorite part!  I love glitter – I like to think I sweat glitter…but that’s another story!
Next, we took a group photo with one of the poster board signs I made and then we headed outside to teach the girls a cheer!  My friend’s daughter, who was a little bit older than all the other girls, very sweetly offered to create a cheer and teach it to the girls.  It was adorable!  She created a “birthday cheer” complete with arm motions and kicks and included the use of their pom poms and megaphones! cake She did such a great job and kept it simple and easy!  The girls all did a great job and it was very special to Makenzie!

After they worked up an appetite, we opened presents and ate cake!  Makenzie’s cake was awesome!  Was a Pinterest fail, but I think it came out even better than the original idea!  Every year it’s tradition for my momK_cake to make cakes for my kids, and she always does an amazing job.  This year we made white chocolate dipped sugar cones to look like megaphones along with cupcakes topped with pom poms.
These came out great and were really yummy!  The megaphones were supposed to be sideways on top of a cupcake, but after we dipped the cones in chocolate they were just way to heavy that they smooshed the cupcakes!  So, we had to serve them on the side along with the cupcake and pom poms.  They were a big hit and the cones were super yummy! Plus girls always love getting something with their name on it!

Her party was a huge success and I’m so glad we picked this theme!

Price Breakdown – Cheerleading Party: 

  • 12 red and blue posterboard sheets (found in clearance) - $2.28
  • Stickers (Dollar Store) - $2
  • 3 spools of red and blue ribbon (Dollar Store) – $3.00
  • 9 helium balloons (Dollar Store) - $9
  • Blue tablecloth (Dollar Store) - $1
  • Sugar cones – $1.49
  • Cake mix – $1
  • Frosting – $2
  • Chocolate candy melts – $8
  • 11 Pom poms sets (Dollar Store)
  • Popcorn – $3
  • Pretzels – $2
  • Total $45.77

Minute-To-Win-It PartyC_invite

Invitations: His invitations were super simple as well, we just googled the Minute-To-Win-It logo and made up a simple invitation that I printed out on my own printer.  We only needed to make about 12, so it was quick.  I mounted them to postcards that I already had and we handed them out at school.

Decorations:  The cool part about the decorations is that I just used all th20150606_135926e same stuff from Makenzie’s party just hours earlier.  All the poster board signs that we used for Makenzie’s party we just flipped over and had made clip art signs for Coen’s party.  I used the Minute-To-Win-It logo for all the signs that had sayings like:  “Your Time Begins Now!”, “60 Seconds”, “Happy Birthday Coen!”  I made a giant scoreboard on one of the extra poster boards and hung it so we could keep score of how the kids did coen_decorationswith each activity.  I did have prizes for the winner and the loser! We also reused the birthday banner, the balloons, and streamers.  Since the party was just a couple hours after Makenzie’s all we really did was run the vacuum, and flip over the signs.  Was EASY!

Activities: Now this was the fun part!  I had a blast planning this party and all my ideas came from watching the actual show or Pinterest.  We played so many fun games and with my 90 minute time line, we actually scrapped the last game, but we kept all the kids busy and occupied from beginning to end!  Some of the games we did as a whole group, some we did head to head and some we did individually.  I had a friend keep track of the time and another friend was keeping track of scores on the giant scoreboard.andrew_noodle

  • Noodling Around – with your hands behind your back you had to get 5 penne pasta noodles onto a long spaghetti pasta noodle in one minute.  This game was a lot harder than I thought it would be and out of 11 kids, only 1 was able to do it.  The pasta I had in my pantry – another FREE game!  We did this game as a big group because I had plenty of pasta!

 

  • Baby Rattle – Take empty 2 liter soda bottles and fill one with marbles (about 40), 20150606_135642then you tape another empty bottle on top.  The object is to shake all the marbles from one bottle to the other.  It’s more fun to have a set of bottles for each person so they can shake in both hands, but I didn’t want to assemble that many! I just made 2 sets and that worked out.  I found the 2 liter bottles on a FREE Facebook group we have in my local area and I also got some of the marbles from the same free site.  I purchased some marbles, because I just didn’t have enough, but it was awesome to find some free stuff.  This game was fairly easy and everyone was successful, was also VERY LOUD! :)

 

  • A Bit Dicey – Object of the game was to stick a craft stick in your mouth and stack 5Coen_dicey dice on top of each other on the end of the craft stick and hold for 3 seconds.   I had the kids go head to head for this game because I only had 10 dice.  This one was hard, but quite a few kids were successful!  I actually picked up a box of 10 dice at garage sale for $0.25 and I already had the craft sticks.  I tried to find the larger craft sticks to make this a bit easier, but never was able to find them, so I went with the small craft sticks I already had on hand.

 

  • Cup Stack-O – Object of this game is to stack 11 cups of one color on top of the others until you have stacked them all one by one on top of the other until the 12th cup of a different color20150606_145414 reaches the top again.  Sounds a bit complicated, but was a good game of skill to put kids head to head.  All kids passed this game, but a few were super close to 60 seconds!  A good game to keep the scores up for everyone.  I already had all these cups from other parties that I’d had in the past.  We did this game head to head – but you could do more if you had more cups!

 

  • Sticky Situation – This was hands down the favorite game of the day!  With this 20150606_151552game you take a slice of bread slathered in peanut butter and place it on a small table.  Then you take a bowl of ping pong balls (that I found at the Dollar Store) and place them in a bowl on another table about 5 feet apart.  Object is to bounce a ping pong ball on the first table and get it to bounce from the first table to the second and stick to the peanut butter.  This was really tricky, but a handful of kids were able to get it!  Such a fun game!  We did this as an individual game – they all had a great time collecting the ping pong balls that missed the peanut butter.

 

  • Face The Cookie – This game made us all giggle!  Object of the game was to take a 20150606_145035cookie and place it on your forehead and with your hands tied behind your back you have to wiggle and jiggle your face just enough to get the cookie to slide down your face into your mouth.  Was hard, but fun to watch – it really took some serious concentration and body wiggle!   I picked up the cookies for $1.29 at the grocery store.  We did this game as big group.

 

  • Tortilla Flip – This was a hilarious game!  Object of this game was to put a tortilla onCoen_tortillaFlip the end of diving flipper and to flip the tortilla into a pan on top of your head!  I found the diving flippers at the Salvation Army for $3.   Then we made the other part by taking an old baseball hat that my son had and we hot glued a plastic dish on top of it that would collect the tortilla.  This game was a bit hard as well, but a bunch of the kids were successful.  I already had the tortillas on hand, and we only really used about 4 for the whole group.  The neighbors got a kick out of watching the kids do this game since we took them out front – they sure can flip those tortillas pretty high, so watch out! W20150606_140357e did this an individual game because I only had one 1 hat to catch the tortillas in.

When the games were all done, we crowned a winner and handed out a prize to both the winner and the loser!  Next, we opened gifts and then my son requested ice cream sundaes instead of cake for his birthday!  Was super easy – and the kids got to load up on more sugar!  I bought one big tub of vanilla ice cream and then used chocolate sauce and caramel sauce that I already had, along with a bunch of leftover Easter candy that I had saved.  Worked out great and my son loved it! We also served the rest of the popcorn and pretzels we bought for my daughter’s party.  Overall it was a wonderful, LONG day, but was super successful and we had so much fun!

 

Price Breakdown – Minute-To-Win-It Party: 

  • Candy prizes – $1.79
  • Ping Pong Balls (Dollar Store) – $3
  • Marbles (Dollar Store) – $2
  • Cookies – $1.29
  • Ice Cream – $5
  • Caramel Sauce – $1.79
  • Flippers – $3 (Salvation Army)
  • Dice – $0.25 (garage sale)
  • Total $18.12

Total Price for both parties and a ton of good fun = $63.89

Tips:

  • Start planning early - I usually start planning my ideas 6 months in advance
  • Pick a unique theme, instead of a branded theme – I like to pick unique themes like cooking, art, messy, firetrucks, tea, etc – this tends to make your decorations cheaper since you are not having to buy branded items
  • I use simple, solid colors to decorate that I can pick up at the Dollar Store
  • Make as much of your supplies and decorations as you can
  • Use what you have around the house to keep costs down
  • Reuse as much as you can
  • Use coupons to to purchase supplies that you need
  • Ask your friends for help
  • Pay attention to sales flyers and buy supplies that you need when it goes on sale – even if it’s months in advance
  • Find a local “FREE” site on Facebook in your area and ask for things that you need for your party – you never know what someone has around their house that they may want to give away – for FREE
  • Share decorations  - even with a friend
  • Pinterest is your friend!  You can follow my Pinterest Page here
  • Follow my Facebook page, I’m always posting fun tips!

HowToThrow2BdayParties

 

 

 

 

 

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June 18, 20150 commentsRead More
How Being a Mom Can Change the World!

How Being a Mom Can Change the World!

BeingAMomCanChangeWorldI was at my Community Bible Study group yesterday and was hit by amazing thought as I was listening to the lecture –  God uses every type of mom to do amazing things – you may not be a strong woman (although I’m sure you are stronger than you think you are), but God uses you regardless of how strong you or how strong you think you are.  I actually do consider myself to be a pretty strong woman – do you?  I like to think that I can handle most things, both physically, and emotionally – but ya know what?  I was struck by the fact that it’s not just me handling those things – God is right there along with me, carrying me through stuff that I would tend to think I’m doing all on my own.  I know now that I don’t want to be just a strong woman, but instead a weak woman in the hands of a strong God!

This carries over into everyday life.  Are you ever just fed up?  Tired?  Annoyed at your kids for just being kids?  Tired of the everyday chores of cooking, cleaning, making lunches, giving baths, changing countless diapers and then knowing that you have to do it all over again tomorrow?  I know I get stuck in that rut a lot – everyday seems to blend with the next and my eyes are so heavy I can barely remember what time to pick my kids up from school (and yes, you would think after 4 years of taking kids to school everyday that I would finally have the times down to a science, but not this mom – blame it on having 3 kids with totally different schedules)!

I’ve been studying Romans lately, and I’ve learned so much about Paul.  He lived every moment of everyday as an act of worship – down to the smallest details.  It’s a great way to live life – every moment of your “mom” day can be an act of worship to God and it all comes down to your attitude and perception.  You can worship God in the way you treat your kids, the way you talk to your kids (especially when they are driving you crazy), by not only teaching a Sunday School class at your local church – but how you teach that class, by how you react to everyday situations – for example: when your child spills a cup of milk or if they drop a glass and it breaks.  All of these situations and examples are acts of worship and just changing your perspective on these can totally change your attitude and the attitude of your children.  See what I mean – you, MOM, can change the world!

My prayer today is to laugh.  My life verse is Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed in strength and dignity, she can LAUGH at the days to come!”  I love this verse for so many reasons, but mostly because when I am in a stressful situation I have the hardest time controlling my attitude.  A perfect example is right after we get home from school in the afternoons.  All 3 of my kids are coming at me at the same time for different reasons – Rylyn wants a snack and will ask for it at least 10 times in the next minute, Makenzie wants to color and tell me all about her day at school (even though I picked her up from half day kindergarten a couple hours earlier) and then Coen will drop his backpack and shoes in the middle of the kitchen floor and start asking for a snack while he is also trying to tell me all about his day and wanting me to sign his planner.  It’s a chaotic mess!  Everyday it stresses me out – and don’t forget, during this entire 2 minutes or so Rylyn is still asking over and over and over for snack and escalating in noise level.  Imagine trying to make a snack, field all those questions while walking over shoes and backpacks?  It may not bother all of you, but for me, that TOTALLY stresses me out, and the really silly part is that once the few minutes pass and we get stuff put away and snacks made, then all is fine and dandy.  But, if I let my attitude get the best of me, there is yelling and more stress and it all goes bad.  I get like a split second decision to decide on how the rest of our afternoon will go.  Will I worship God and be patient and kind and not say something that will hurt my kids?  Or will I explode? It’s our choice.  Worship or not?  

Hard choice huh?  I don’t want it to be a hard choice anymore.  Pray, ask God for help!  He will.  I promise!

BeingAMomCanChangeWorld

 

 

 

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May 8, 20150 commentsRead More