Kiddo Krafts {Santa and Jesus Hand Print Ornaments}

Is anyone else addicted to Pinterest besides me? I just recently joined up even though I got an invitation several months ago.  I waited to join because I just knew I would become obsessed and waste many hours pinning things I would never actually have the time to re-create {because I would still be pinning away!}.

So when I quit my job, I decided I would join.  I could spend some time on Pinterest during nap time rather than writing patient notes.  It didn't take me long to fill up several boards full of wonderful ideas.  One of my boards is devoted directly to Christmas while another is devoted to crafty ideas for art time with Brody.

Today's Toddler Treasure is a "knock-off" of {this ornament} I pinned, and it encompasses both Christmas DIY's and kid-friendly crafts.

Santa Hand Print Ornament

Brody enjoyed sticking his hand into the dough {I bought this dough kit on clearance at Michaels}, and his face lit-up when he saw that his hand print had become Santa Clause {with just some paint and a Sharpie}.

Once I finished molding the hand print Santa, I realized that I had enough dough leftover to make another ornament {I wasn't about to just throw the dough away!}.  I wanted to make a different type of that reflected the real reason we celebrate Christmas.  So, I came up with this idea to imprint one of Brody's fingers {index finger} into the dough and turn it into Baby Jesus lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Baby Jesus Finger Print Ornament

After making it, I realized how cool it is to think that Brody's finger print made the form of a Baby Jesus since we were created in the image of Christ.  For this reason, I inscribed Romans 8:29 to the bottom of the ornament and wrote out the verse on the back.
 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

 Maybe it's a little cheesier looking than the Santa Clause, but I think it's a wonderful reminder that each of us were created in His image.

I'm partying here:

One Artsy MamaPhotobucketPhotobucketFun Stuff Fridays

Giving Thanks {When I Don't Feel Thankful}

It’s so easy to be thankful when things are going just how you imagined or hoped they would.  But what about when things are going all wrong?

That’s where I am. Things are all wrong. 

I thought we would be in South Africa right now.  Six months ago Jonathan’s job was preparing us to travel to Sandton, South Africa.  There was a client there who needed Jonathan’s skills for a five to six month contract.  We were scared and anxious about going when they first approached us.  We worried about our safety and the overall well-being for our innocent two year old son, Brody.

We prayed. And we asked those who were closest to us to pray about it for us.  Then, one Sunday in June, as we sat in church at Northpoint and listened to a message by Gavin Adams, God began to work in our hearts.  The message was part of a series entitled Amazing Stories.  That particular Sunday he was talking about David and Goliath.  It's such a popular story that most of us know, but the message that day was a more personal account of what David must have been thinking and feeling as he faced the giant.  I couldn't do the sermon justice even if I tried, but you can find it here {part 2} if you are interested.

Jonathan and I left church that day and went out to lunch with South Africa on our minds. After a lot of conversing, we finished our meal in the agreement that if the company in South Africa still wanted us, we would agree to go.

Jonathan told his boss the following day that we were all in.  I began researching the area in great detail, looking for homes to rent, noting the security of each one.  I checked on the CDC's website for all the things we needed to be sure to do before we left.  We were lining things up.  The more we heard from his company that it was looking like a sure thing, the more we did to prepare.  I went to get a passport for Brody and I.  Jonathan and I went to get immunizations and a yearly check-up.  We began telling more friends and family about the possibility and lining up visitors who were willing to travel across the world to see us and keep us company.   Then, in August, Jonathan's job told us they were 99% sure we were going to be needed over there at the beginning of October.  So, I quit my job.

I had to tell each of my little patients {I'm a pediatric physical therapist} that I would no longer be coming to visit them each week.  I introduced each one them and their families to their new therapist, taking pictures and giving big hugs before I left.  It was bittersweet.  I hated to leave such sweet babies and kiddos who needed me, but I just knew I was headed on the right track.

Our living expenses would be covered in South Africa...and then some. We would be able to pay off over half of my hefty graduate school loan.  We would be able to immerse ourselves in a culture I had always dreamed of one day visiting {thinking I would be lucky to spend a day there...much less six months}.  I would be able to focus on nothing but Brody and Jonathan for half a year.  Just our little family was all I was going to have to worry about for the first time in my life.  That made this little momma's heart overjoyed!

October came and we still had not heard.  We were sent down to Florida for another client which gave us the opportunity to spend some time with my parents {Jonathan's parents were out of town} before going to South Africa.  My parents set up their home for Christmas before we got there and let Brody unwrap gifts once we arrived since they wouldn't get to spend Christmas with him this December.

With Florida and our families behind us, we traveled back to Atlanta at the end of October.  That's when we heard.  The deal had fallen through.  We weren't going to South Africa. Ever.

What, God??

How did this happen?  How was I so sure this was what you wanted for us? So sure that I quit my job?

I still don't have answers to those questions.  But I do know that I am happier as a full time stay-at-home mommy....even if we are still in Atlanta and not South Africa.  I always knew I wanted to stay home full-time with my little ones.  I just somehow lost sight of my desires when I ended up pregnant my last year of graduate school.  I felt the pressure. I had gone to school for seven years...acquired my doctorate...acquired a hefty loan to go along with the three little letters at the end of my name.  How could I not work?

So I accepted that even though we weren't going to go to South Africa and come back nearly debt free, I became a SAHM because of the situation {and that was worth the six months of uncertainty}.

But I haven't been completely at peace.  There has been something else going on these past six months.  Amidst the uncertainty of South Africa, we have been trying for another baby.  Trying but unsuccessful so far.

Please hear me out before you continue reading.  In no way do I equate my six months of trying to the trials of those that have been facing infertility or difficulty becoming pregnant for many years.  I am beyond close to many of those that struggle with these issues, so please understand that I know my trials are so very small in comparison. Really.    

But my heart hurts nonetheless.

It was so easy to get pregnant with Brody.  We weren't trying at all.  In fact, we were protecting against, but God knew he was the perfect little baby for us and bypassed all we were doing to keep from having a baby at the time.  {And PRAISE THE LORD He did!}

When I was pregnant with Brody, I didn't have a single friend who was pregnant nor one who already had a baby.  I felt alone as a new mother.  I didn't have anyone to express those new mother feelings to that could validate the way I was feeling.  If you are a mother, you know the feelings I am referring to.  They are difficult emotions to face alone.  All I wanted was someone to connect with on that level.

So now here we are, trying for our second child, and almost every friend I am close to is pregnant or just had a baby.  But, we can't seem to get pregnant as easily as we did the first time.

Why, God? 

Things are all wrong.

At least that is what I thought...until this past Sunday morning.  We attended my old church in my hometown where the message from Titus Greene was about giving thanks when it's not easy to find a reason to be thankful.

You can listen to the message here. {It's the message entitled "Thanksgiving" from November 27, 2011}

Because I could never reiterate the message, this may not make any sense unless you listen to the message above.

But through Titus, God taught me that His will for me is to give thanks in all circumstances, even the difficult ones.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  "Rejoice Always. Pray without ceasing.  Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  

In learning to give thanks through the difficult circumstances in our life, God is molding us to be more like Christ.

James 1:2-4  "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  

So that is where I am right now....learning to give thanks for even the seemingly bad situations.  When I become discouraged that we are not in South Africa getting out of debt and when my heart feels saddened that we are not yet pregnant, I begin to give thanks.  I give thanks because I trust God and what He is doing in my life right now.  Even though it is hard and the thought of it is bringing me tears as I write this.  I trust Him. 

Thank you, God, for not allowing us to go to South Africa.  Thank you for not blessing us with a child just yet.  I don't know why you have withheld these things, but I trust you and I am thankful that you know the plan even when I don't.  

Jeremiah 29:11  "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." 

Oh Snap!shots of the Week {8}

Happily Mother After
If this is your first time linking up you can check out the details about this party here.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones and that you are beginning to recover from your Turkey hangovers.

Please forgive me for starting this party so late in the day.  We are out of town, and time is limited as we are trying to enjoy our weekend with Jonathan's family.

For that reason {and because I am sure many of you are doing the same}, this week I am extending the party from last week.  Please link up your photos to last week's post {even if you already linked one up last week}.

This will give you the chance to visit some of the others you missed last week, so look around and share the love with your fellow bloggers!

And don't forget to vote for your favorite by clicking the "like" button under the photo.  I will award the bloggers for the most liked photo, my favorite photo, and a few others I want to feature at next weeks party.

As for me, my favorite photo this week is of my Funny Guy climbing into his Daddy's suitcase. I guess he wanted to make sure he was going to Florida to see Grandma and Grandpa too!
In case you are wondering...Yes, we let him come.  He fit quite nicely into his Daddy's suitcase with plenty of room to move around on the nine-hour trip down here. :)

{Disclaimer: I was only kidding. Brody did not ride in the suitcase. He was buckled safely into his car seat the whole trip.  Please do not call DFACS!}

Alright, now's your time to shine this week! Link up your photo by clicking the blue link below the photos that reads "Click here to enter." 

Kiddo Krafts {Turkey Hand Print Cookies}

This week Brody and I, with the help of his Daddy this time, baked some Turkey Hand Print Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Brody selflessly volunteered his hand for the cookies, Jonathan helped make the dough, and I frosted our masterpiece.  Then we took them to Florida to share with Brody's cousin Ava.  Cookies are always better when you share them with a friend!

Feel free to link up if you want to party like a toddler.  Please, just grab a button to let everyone know whose crib you're partying at!
Happily Mother After

I'm also partying here...

One Artsy Mama

Oh Snap!shots of the Week {7}

Happily Mother After
If this is your first time linking up you can check out the details about this party here.
Thank you so much to my "Faithfuls."  I just love that I can count on you guys each week to show up! And thank you to my newbies. I'm so glad you decided to hang out here! {I hope that you become one of my "faithfuls"} Welcome to the party :)

Last week's "most-liked" photo was a  picture of Lilah, a little blond cutie in pigtails.  How could you not like that sweet face?
Photography by Amanda at Lilahbility

Amanda, this badge is just for you this week!
Happily Mother After

My favorite was this stellar photo of the moon. Is anyone else drooling over Alyssa's telephoto lens?
Photography by Alyssa at AlyGatr's Everywhere

Alyssa, this badge is just for you this week!
Happily Mother After 

This week I decided to feature this photo of a gorgeous golden tree.  It looks like the leaves were spray painted gold.  Ahhh...Fall, how I love thee!
Photography by Autumn at Stay Gold, Autumn

Autumn, this badge is just for you this week!
Happily Mother After

So now who is ready to party this week?

My favorite photo this week is of Brody {big surprise, right?!} eating his ice cream. This was a special ice cream because he earned it from his Poo-Poo Choo-Choo chart. Which, by the way, is really irrelevant now as he is a regular business man.  We really are just doing it more for fun now.  He is no longer scared of meetings and attends them two to three times a day like a champ! {go back and read the post if you're lost}.

I also must include this "after" shot of his rainbow nose and milk 'stache. I love that nose!

So what are you waiting for? Link up!
Please don't forget to "like" at least one other photo. Please!

Kiddo Krafts {Thankful Turkey}

Even though we have been stuck in a hotel all week, we managed to get a little creative today.  Brody made a "Thankful Turkey" using one foot, both hands, some paint, googley eyes, and a thankful heart.

We talked about what it means to be thankful and I gave him examples of what I am thankful for.  He acted like he understood until I asked him what he was thankful for.  He just looked at me.  {He's only 2--I wasn't surprised} So I asked, "Are you thankful for{fill in the blank}?"   And that is how we decided upon his Thankful Turkey's feathers. 

In my experience it is never to early to begin explaining the hard stuff.  You never know when the light bulb will go off. 

He may not understand what it means to be thankful just yet, but at least he knows what a turkey says now. :)

{Gobble Gobble Gobble!}
Yes, his big toe is the turkey's Wattle {and yes, I had to google what that red thing was called}

I'm loving this Toddler Treasures Thursday! I will have many great masterpieces to look back on when Brody is older. That's pretty exciting to a sentimental Momma like me. :)

Feel free to link up if you want to party like a toddler.  Please, just grab a button to let everyone know whose crib you're partying at!
Happily Mother After

I'm also partying here...

One Artsy Mama

Time Travel to Huntsville {plus winner revealed}

We're in Huntsville, Alabama, {my birthplace} this week.  Jonathan is working with a client over here while Brody and I enjoy a change in scenery. 

Though I was born here, my dad's job relocated us to Florida when I was around 18 months old.  We never came back to visit when I was a child, so I am not familiar with the city whatsoever.

The first time I came back to Huntsville, I came with Jonathan on a business trip because I wanted to see where I was from.  We were talking just last night and trying to remember when exactly we were last here.  We tried to remember Brody tagging along with us {thinking his age would give it away}, but we quickly realized he wasn't with us. We knew I was pregnant either {as I can remember doing cartwheels in front of my parents' old house one day}. 

So, I went searching through over 18,000 pictures on my computer to find the pictures we took when we were last here.  Turns out we were here in April 2008, over three year ago.  Time flies!

I was joking with Jonathan about the value of blogging; and how, if I had been blogging back then, we could have quickly looked up when we were last here and read about all that we had done. Since I didn't, we can't. 

However, I can provide a flashback with two pictures we took last time {so at least we will have this reference point next time we are here}.
The hospital I was born in.

The first house I lived in. {I was doing a cartwheel because it symbolized where I would have grown up playing if we had never moved}
Thanks for following me down memory lane.

Now it's time to reveal our winner from last week's giveaway. The winner was randomly chosen using

And the winner of the $15 shop credit to Purple Possom is....

{insert drum roll here} 

Congratulations, Chenoa! I think the perfect winner was chosen this time as we celebrate preemies this month.  {I promise I did not rig it this way} Chenoa is a brand new Mommy to a sweet little miracle named Sophia.  Go check out her blog and their amazing story!

And I want to say a very special THANK YOU to Emily from Purple Possom for sponsoring this giveaway!  So many of you expressed how excited you were about the chance to win onesie stickers.  I'm sure Emily would love to hear all about how much you love her stuff to, so please take a moment to stop by her shop and let her know you came from Happily Mother After!

I'm headed there soon to purchase some gifts and maybe something for myself!

Oh Snap!shots of the Week {6}

Happily Mother After
If this is your first time linking up you can check out the details about this party here.


Forgive me for being short on words this week. Blogger ate my first draft {right before I went to publish it...UGH!} so I'm writing this post for the second time. Blogger how I loathe {and love} thee!

Let's get right to it.

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who participated in last week's party. We had a great turn out and I was impressed by so many of your photos! I feel honored to have some amazing photographers partying here at Happily Mother After. :) 

Last week's "most liked" photo award actually goes to two bloggers this week. 
 Photography by Sarah at Naptime Momtog

Photography by Lisa at The Enlightened Bug

Great photos {and costumes!}, Sarah and Lisa.  Please grab this badge for your blogs!
 Happily Mother After

My favorite photo last week made me literally say "Woah!" out loud when I first saw it.
Photography by Abby at To Touch the Stars

Stunning photo, Abby. Please grab this badge for your blog!
Happily Mother After

Lastly, I couldn't resist featuring the other costumes in last week's party.
Dinosaur by Guillian at Building Bumps {Can you believe she made this?!? Impressive!}
Batman and Robin by Helene at I'm Living Proof God Has a Sense of Humor
Pumpkin by Amanda at Lilahbility
Sam I Am by Sarah at Better Together
Scooby Doo byJessica at Dramaticmama

Great costumes, you guys! Please grab this badge for your blogs.
 Happily Mother After
Now on to this week's party!

I'm cheating. We just got back from Florida; so with all the unpacking and cleaning, my camera has acquired a bit of dust this week.

Therefore, my pictures this week are actually from our trip to Florida and were taken two weeks ago. {Gasp, I know. Please forgive me}
 Love him.

 The sunset was gorgeous. And this little ham thought he was posing for GQ!

 The Lifeguard on Duty

There's nothing like playing in dirt for little boys.

Now show me what ya got!
Please, don't forget to visit the other blogs around you and let 'em know you came for a looksie.
{And "like" your favorites}

Kiddo Krafts {Pilgrim Hand Prints}

Brody is all boy.

Cars. Trains. Trucks. Planes. If it has wheels, he wants to play with it. Everything else to him is just so-so.

In order to {attempt to} expand his horizons, I've been trying to come up with fun crafts for us to do together. 

But, this isn't always easy for a clean-freak momma.  The potential mess involved can be daunting at times.

So, I'm keeping myself accountable by sharing our creations each week.  

And I hope that along the way you find some inspiration.

Today we had a lot of fun turning Brody's handprints into Pilgrims sailing on the Mayflower.

If you and your child want to join in the fun with me I'm leaving it open for you to link-up your crafts {or your version of my craft if you'd rather not come up with your own}. I'd love for you participate, but either way I am sharing our artwork each week to hold myself accountable to being a better mother. :)

Happily Mother After

Also partying with...
One Artsy Mama


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