Friday, March 15, 2013

It Arrived in A Gold Box

When I was too grown to be shaking the boxes under the Christmas tree my granddaddy shared a little secret with me that has stood the test of time.  As I readily shook them one-by-one that particular Christmas, I realized that all of the gifts were quite small.  Perhaps I showed some sadness or bewilderment (I am a gift guesser), so he leaned into me and said, "The smallest packages are usually the best ones."  If you knew my grandparents this was their time of year.  They were givers and Christmas fit them perfectly.  Each year our small eyes stood spread beyond wide open in wonder as we would see the mound, yes mound, of gifts that was created when all of our family got together.  But, the most special part was what the grandparents always chose.  For years every man was given the same gift and the same gesture for the women.  Standing where I am today I appreciate even more the time, effort, and thought my grandmother put into these gifts.  And yes, on that Christmas I learned what he meant, those tiny packages were Mont Blanc pens for every man in the family.  It was a right of passage, in many ways, to be given the adult gift.  I will never forget when I married and got moved into the adult category!  By then she was giving couples gifts, and in her home you didn't get this until you were married.  Marriage = Couple.

So, when the UPS man pulled up to our home last week and came bearing a very small package, my girls turned instantly back to what they were doing with little interest in the newly arrived package.  Seeing my excitement from the label on the outside they wanted to know why I was so excited.  I told them what it was and was met with an, "Oh, but it is such a small box."  So, we stopped all other lessons and they learned ---

Life Lesson 411: The best things in life often come in small packages. 

They know nothing so they went about their merry, coloring ways while I donned a pair of broken handled scissors to unearth a most cherished item.  Upon lifting the first layer of box I saw it.  It was gold.  I pulled it with two hands from it's safe haven and stared at it.  My first gold box.  The box that held within it something that captures the one thing that means almost more then anything to me in life...memories.

I have owned this fancy camera for two years with every desire to own this lens.  Three kids does not make this a very easy reality with my conscience.  So, here it is.  In a small gold box.  Ready to capture memories.  Here I am.  Clothed in create memories.

Many years later now I can say with assurance that my granddaddy was right, it's the small things in life that can be the most important, meaningful, and life-changing, like the arrival of my small box.  It's not about the monetary value of this item, but what it is going to give to my family.  Although my girls don't appreciate the meaning and power of this small gold box today, one day they will.  And one day they will thank me and know what I know now...The best things in life often come in small packages.

Now go make some memories.  Just don't forget to capture them.

---The Mama

Monday, March 11, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow?

For the past four years, while we lived in Texas, we traveled home to N.C. each summer and spent about 6 weeks with my mom and step-dad.  Those summers have given my girls lasting memories that they will cherish forever.  One memory, in particular, happened without any sort of planning.  Aren't those the best ones?  You see, each year Popi (my step-dad) plants a few vegetables along the back wall of our house and sometimes a few in the interior wall.  It started with Olivia.  Each afternoon they would go out, bag in hand, and collect the day's vegetables and then water them that evening.  Just her and Popi.  The next summer we showed up and there was a custom made sign stuck in the interior garden, "Scoobie's Garden".  

Scoobie is the nickname Popi has for Olivia.  It is a long story.  But we all have them, and they are always given by Popi.  That made this Momma melt.  It made Olivia's whole summer.  By the third summer, Addison was coming up on three so I suggested to Popi he might make her a little space when I sent him a package of herb seeds in the mail (with a few others Olivia had picked out) and asked him to plant them for her.  He did.  Cutest little square of herbs you have ever seen and she lit up every time we trimmed some to cook with.  Last year she even got to cut some herself.  The fact that we lived in Texas and were under water restriction for most of the summers did not lend itself to much gardening.  And we were never there.  Details. But, times have changed.  We live in Florida where the sun shines and it most certainly rains.  So we decided to plant a garden.  But first we had to build one.

Then we had to get dirt.  This is where the best neighbors ever come in.  They have a truck.  One that I don't think should get dirty but he swears that is what it is for.  He loaded up his three kids, Man and Olivia and they went to get dirt.  There is even a special song that must be played in the I've heard.

With close supervision from Treyson...

we were finally ready to put the seeds in the ground.  This is where it could go all wrong.  Apparently I should have started them indoors like weeks ago.  But hey, our outside is producing the same temperature the package calls for inside.  We're living on the edge.

After it was all said and done and watered and watered and watered we ate some lunch and then did some moving.  Moving established plants and trees that is.  Yes.  I might be known for this in some circles.  I will not tell.  You see, the previous owners planted 5 gardenias within about a foot and a half of each other.  That will never work in any gardening world I have lived in.  Ever.  First there was some small business to take care of.  Three small trees that is.

This is how country boys get it done.  Apparently.  

It worked, so I will not complain.

Oh yes.   Those are part of the other 10 bushes we Man transplanted for me.  Isn't he a love?

Of course I had to make sure he didn't hit a sprinkler line water it all in.

The faucet needs a little work.  Allye thinks it's perfect.

Now.  If we can just keep Allye, Treyson, and the animals out it I think we might have a chance!

----The Gardening Mama

Friday, March 8, 2013

Christmas in March

Since I seem to just be catching my breath from the whirlwind of a handmade Christmas, I sat down and gathered up the photos that I took to show you.  It was such a fulfilling experience to give these gifts, even if it was something I bought that was handmade.  I must confess that I still have two remaining, very time consuming, gifts in my possession.  They belong to my two sets of parents.  I have just had to beg forgiveness and offer many promises of something on  the way.  Let's just say it was a well laid plan that when terribly awry when we decided to move six months early.  Details.  

It started with my first quilt.  My mom has been so sweet to sew the bedding for my first two girls, but this time was different.  I really wanted to make everything I could for Allye.  While I completed the crib skirt and curtains in Texas, I simply could not get this done.  I was so very proud of myself for stepping out of my sewing comfort zone.  I believed I could do this when I found Amy Smart at Diary of a Quilter.  She did a step-by-step tutorial that made it as easy as pie.  Confession:  It is March and I still have not let her use it.

Then there was our very special Hanukkah gift for Nate's grandmother.  We made and used these as we learned about Hanukkah as part of our school lessons, and then we shipped them to her to enjoy for the years to come.  This was such a wonderful learning experience for our entire family.

Both girls had Secret Santa gifts to give at their dance studio.  This is what I made for Addison's little friend.  I also made matching ones for our new friends down the street.  Every girl needs an apron, right?

Here was another first.  I have made little skirts for our American Girls but never matching outfits.  I made this set for my one of my step-sister's daughters.  She is very into fashion and has the cutest personality you have ever seen.  She only wear dresses and can readily give an opinion.  I was very nervous to pass her test.

She has a little sister.  I made her a dress too.  I was getting ahead here.  Great to wear anytime, but especially at Valentine's.

The ornaments.   Oh my.  After really getting into these I momentarily wondered what I had gotten myself into.  But, with all of the loving comments we received after all of the kids got them in the mail, it was worth the effort!  We saved a few for our tree too!  What a special memory of this time and place.

I have made many of these clipboards over the last few years and they are always a hit.  This one was made for Addison's preschool teacher and Addison loves seeing it on the desk outside of their classroom each morning. 

I have many friends and family that have little boys.  Making things for them is not always easy.  Especially as they get older.  But, when I picked up the Make It Yourself magazine before the holidays and saw these in it, I knew I had to make them.  So I bought the magazine and had most of the supplies needed already in my stash.  The only problem?  We all got sick for two weeks straight before the holidays.  Thankfully this is one of my very best friends so I fessed up, "Hey, I swear I have gifts for the boys, but I am making them and they are not done and they won't be done in time and I promise you it is worth the wait."  And wait she did, until the second week of January.  I think it was worth it.  She did too!

Isn't it the cutest thing ever?  I have no boys but my Addison played for hours on the finished one while I was making the second one.  She will have one of these very soon.  Load it up and I am pretty sure they could be occupied for quite some time!

Last but not least, I made the bedding for the bunk beds we had made from an Etsy seller.  These beds are  sized for our American Girls and I couldn't resist making the bedding to coordinate with Addison's room.  I just wish I had order the mattresses or made some.  Maybe I'll just add that to the list.

So there you have it.  A handmade Christmas Mama style.  I will definitely do this again and hope you have found some inspiration to give the gift of your time to those you love.  That, my friends, is priceless. 

---The Very Tired Mama

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