Learning On the Go!

I’ve been trying to make Gracie’s days a little more structured. She seems to do better with a plan. So even if the plan is as simple as ten minutes of practicing tracing letters and THEN we get a snack, it goes better. My favorite kind of learning ,though, is something a little less structured. Learning on the go! Learning that takes place outside of a classroom, or kitchen table in our case. I love explaining how things work when we are out and about and learning about things we encounter in the world together. Of course this doesn’t always go as well as I would like. Gracie did not magically decide to defy all odds of that precious three year old age and be totally and utterly engaged in whatever I am trying to teach her at any given moment. There are days she really doesn’t want to tell me what that letter on the sign is, but one thing we do have on our side is her wonderful curiosity…and maybe the promise of hot chocolate if we can make it through our on the go school lesson.

On last week’s shopping trip we did a little scavenger hunt. Before we left I had written different grocery items in a notebook and Gracie helped me identify the first letter of all of the items and then trace over that first letter to practice writing it. I made sure to use all 26 letters of the alphabet. If I had planned it out better I might have been able to have grocery items match most of these letters, but I just went for common grocery items I could remember, not necessarily things we needed. When we got to the grocery store we tried to find those items that I had written down or other items that also started with that same letter.

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She stayed pretty engaged in this since we were always moving and looking for new things. You can also tailor it to littler ones and look for certain colors, shapes or specific fruits or veggies they may be learning. We also switched it up a bit and practiced numbers by looking at the aisle numbers and trying to identify those as well.

Learning doesn’t require a lot of complicated equipment, workbooks, or fancy outings. Children can learn so much through exploring their every day world. And for this mama, that sounds pretty good!

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You Are Loved

Know that you are loved little one. Know that He cares for even the smallest of sparrows and think of how much more He cares for you. Know that you have been given unique gifts and talents. Your mind works the way it does for a reason and you have been gifted with a passion for certain things because that is how He created you. You have a beautiful, meaningful purpose. Shine your light for Him. Share His goodness in this fallen world. Be kind. Be generous. Be confident and sure in Him. Know that you are loved little one.

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Essential Oils for Spring Cleaning

I use my Young Living Essential Oils EVERY DAY. I may be a little obsessed. But can you blame me? I love having an all natural product made from God’s very own creation and can be used on my entire family without worry of side effects. Yup, it’s a good deal. Today I want to share a few DIY products I have put together using essential oils, because it is just too easy and wonderful not to share.  Since Spring is upon us, I have decided to share a few DIYs that will help you get your spring cleaning done and leave your home smelling pretty wonderful.

DIY Baking Soda Carpet Freshener

  • 2 cups of baking soda
  • 10-20 drops of favorite essential oils
  • Mason Jar
  • Card stock

All you need to do is combine baking soda and essential oils in a mason jar. Use card stock for the lid with holes punched in it. Shake on your carpet before vacuuming. Vacuum room for a fresher carpet and in my case, a joyful lemon scent!

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DIY Household All Purpose Cleaner

  • Water
  • 10-20 Essential Oils (Lemon & Thieves)
  • 2 Tbs baking soda

Combine ingredients in a glass spray bottle (essential oils can break down plastic over time). Shake and spray down any surface that needs cleaning! Now you have a great non-toxic, degreasing, antibacterial cleaner for any room in your home!

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Happy spring cleaning!

 

 

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Monday Thoughts…on a Wednesday

Don’t worry, it’s not Monday. While our Monday here in Ohio was beautiful and our Wednesday is looking a bit chilly, I wouldn’t want you thinking you are any farther away from Friday than you actually are! I’m also looking forward to getting closer to the weekend. This weekend, Dustin comes home after being in Uganda for the last week and a half.  It sure is nice to live close to family, especially when your husband is in another country for that long…Grandmas to the rescue! But even with all the wonderful Grandma assistance I have been getting, I’m still a little out of my routine. Hence, some Monday thoughts on a Wednesday.

Does your life every feel a little jumbled and you think if you can just get it all out on paper and see it in some physical way, maybe it will all make sense? Be prepared to watch me attempt to do just this very thing on my tiny space of the internet today, people.

The countdown to Uganda is approximately t-minus one month and counting. We have boxes piled full of stuff in the garage, our basement is a wreck and we have a lot to get done that we haven’t even started doing. Dustin did get a few suitcases taken over to Uganda with him though. Packed full of the girl’s clothes and some household necessities. It’s a start.

I have been feeling excited and passionate about joining with Christine in  both our essential oil business adventures and for Oh Tiny Gifts. Sometimes I question these entrepreneurial decisions at a time when so much will be changing, but I I also feel a passion for these things. A passion to share essential oils and continue to have the means to use these with my own family because I know of their awesome benefits. A passion to be creative and to uplift, encourage, and bring joy through these creations. A chance to continue to provide in some small way for our family as we change our entire financial situation while in Uganda. I want to have a part in these things I am finding a passion for, but I also want to be able to be focused on our term in Uganda. A term that will require much learning and time. Time to give of ourselves, and time to let ourselves receive the goodness that others have to offer. Honestly, I want both. And honestly, sometimes I’m not quite sure how it will all look. The answers are unclear, but one thing I know for sure is that I must ensure I am working for His kingdom and not my own.

So all this to say that things are changing and what I expect of life isn’t necessarily what it will be. I may not know all that is in store for me, but I do trust that God will continue to be there right alongside me. He has already provided so much for us. He has provided good people to help sponsor our way and support us joyfully on our journey. He has provided a friend that shares similar passions as mine and is someone I totally enjoy working with. He has provided health, and security, and blessings around every corner. And while we live in a fallen world and hard times are sure to come, He will still be there providing for us in the ways that we need. I may not always know what to do or what I need, but the good thing is, that He does.

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Our day in Ohio

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Dustin’s day in Uganda

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Warm days/Stroller walks/Painting outside/Smell of rain/Open doors/Melting snow/Oil delivery day/Robins/Solo evening run/Snuggles with Gracie/Lillie’s cheesy pasta face/Skype with Dustin/Dustin finding a house to rent in Tororo/Grandma & Grandpa time/playing at the park

 

 

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Friday Introduction: Meet Christine!

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Hello everyone! I think the above photos accurately portray how excited I am to be partnering with Moriah on the blog and shop! (except there should probably be confetti somewhere) I am endlessly thanking God for meeting her and for our awesome friendship. I wanted to introduce myself and share a few things about me so you’re not totally confused when I start popping up on the Oh Tiny Gifts blog ; )

This is my family. Hubby is Thomas. Girls are Annamarie (3) and Felicity (1). Family is my heart.

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My husband is a teacher and I kind of love him. We have fun together : )

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I am a stay at home mom and a wedding & portrait photographer. You can check out my work here. I also take lots of photos of my kids…

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I am passionate about my faith is Jesus and His plan for our lives. I love sewing, creating, healthy cooking, and working out. I love essential oils and natural living. I would also consider myself a frugalista. I like to save money and get creative in ways to stretch our dollars. I love the simple life and afternoons outside with my kids. My heart is filled with joy, gratitude, and a desire to do more for The Kingdom. I am excited about this new chapter with Oh Tiny Gifts and hoping for great things to come!  Expect to see more fun posts from me in the future!

Happy Weekend everyone!

-Christine

 

 

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A New Chapter for Oh Tiny Gifts

My shop, Oh Tiny Gifts, has always been more of a hobby than a business. It started out as just a fun way to let some creativity out and challenge myself to learn more about sewing. I didn’t so much worry about the money I was putting in or the money I was getting out…it was minimal either way. I did know I wanted to use the little amount of money I was making, and give back in some way. And so for a while I donated a certain percentage of the proceeds to different needs, and then more recently have been using the income to help fund our family’s way to Uganda. While I’ve never been a booming business, I have loved, like absolutely loved, seeing kids wearing headbands or scarves I’ve made, or mamas using teething necklaces and so on! I love making things that people enjoy and cherish, and will use again and again. But with our move to Uganda, I figured this handmade business chapter would have to be on hold for awhile. Or did it?

I made a dear friend at The Influence Conference this last September. Christine Clements and I connected through the forums, shared a room, and basically the rest is history. We both are in our mid 20’s, have two little girls just about the same age, love Jesus, and love having the chance to be creative and use our influence in positive ways. So we’ve stayed in touch, and have even worked together on putting together an instagram feed, @thetinyoil, (if you love essential oils like we do or want to see how we use them, check it out!), but it was about to get a whole lot better and bigger! I had talked to, Christine, and mentioned partnering with me to work together running, Oh Tiny Gifts, but I wasn’t sure what direction to take that with our move to Uganda. It was, Christine, who proposed trying our hand at T-shirts. This is the kind of product that allows for creative design and teamwork, even when I’ll be half way across the world. We have been working hard, designing, planning, and researching, while texting and calling each other endlessly! We’ve teamed up with the amazing, Kerry, for our screen printing needs (she’s another wonderful lady I connected with through The Influence Network) and now we are ready to share our hard work with you!

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The phrases on these shirts were inspired by the theme my church has been discussing about being a light for Christ. It had been on my mind, and when Christine and I were thinking up design ideas, the phrase, “Be the light and shine bright”, kept coming to mind. Together we worked to make these shirts something that you will not only love to wear because of the great fit and look, but also because of the message. The message to be a light for Christ and let your light shine bright wherever you are, whether that is right in your own home, at work, or maybe even half way across the world in Uganda! We have designed these shirts so that individually they will look great, but also that worn together as adult and child, they will have an even greater impact. As mama’s we know the importance of setting a good example for our children and partnering with them to share Christ’s light in the dark places.

We want to inspire. We want to grow. We want to create quality items that you will love and wear over and over again. We want to grow a business, and for it to be more than a hobby. We want to support our families in whatever small ways we can, and extend our influence to point towards Christ.

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We are so thrilled to have these available to pre-order today! Go check out these shirts in all their gold, shimmery goodness! We plan to have more designs available in the near future, but feel a lot of love behind this first design. Be the light and shine bright today all!

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

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New Life

Today it was 40 degrees. Right down to my core I felt the beginnings of Spring coming to life! The sun was shining, birds were chirping, and the evidence of the bitter cold that has been hanging around for far too long was vanishing before my eyes. Spring is my favorite of all the seasons, and not just because it also happens to be my birthday month! Spring is all about seeing a wonderful hope become fulfilled in the birth of flowers, new leaves, sunshine and warm gentle breezes. The earth seems to come alive after laying dormant and each ray of sunshine promises joy.

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It’s obviously no coincidence that we celebrate Easter in the Spring. Though Ohio has it’s ups and downs weather wise, long awaited Springs fill up my soul and remind me of all the beauty Christ has gifted us with. Ohio Springs can be the perfect reminder of a hope fulfilled as life springs anew, just as Christ rose from the dead and gave us all new life in Him. Sometimes the Winter can seem long, like really, really, really, when will this finally be over long! Sometimes Winter isn’t just a change in season and a dip in the temperature outdoors, but a change in a season of our life. Sometimes the Winter is a hard place, an unknown, a distance, a struggle. Sometime it seems all together gloomy and the sunshine rays of hope and joy seem pretty distant. But the thing is, even when we go through the Winters of life, which are bound to come as the changing seasons do,  joy and hope are always there! We are able to hold onto this joy and hope through each changing season because Christ has given us an eternal Spring in following Him. We have new life because of His sacrifice and because of this each day we can be filled with the Son’s rays of hope and joy.

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Birth is always the exciting part. The part where everything changes. The part where all your hopes finally culminate into a wonderful new things. But we have to put in the hard work. We have to keep fighting the good fight, counting it all joy, and seeking to strengthen our walk with Him. We have been born again and welcomed into the Spring of new life Christ offers.So now as an encouragement for us all this week, let’s go and be the light of Christ and share His gift of Spring and new life  wherever we are!

You also may have noticed that the blog has a whole new look, and even name! In order to streamline the shop and the blog and keep things simple, I changed the blog name to, Oh Tiny Gifts, as well. It really does perfectly sum up both the theme of this space and the etsy shop. I also want to announce an exciting new adventure for the Oh Tiny Gifts shop! I’ve teamed up with a dear friend, Christine Clements, to bring a fresh look to the shop and exciting new products.

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This girl is crazy talented and a joy to work with! I’m so excited to partner with her and hopefully be able to keep Oh Tiny Gifts up and running with her help, even from Uganda. It is our hope that with the new products we are introducing, we will encourage and inspire others and also be able to contribute to our family’s income. We have been putting in the hard work and can’t wait for the birth of these new products. Stay on the lookout for their introduction later this week!

And as always, the gift list tally…

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Lillie’s open mouth kisses/Lillie pooping on potty/the many falls and bumps and bruises and the  cuddles that follow/fundraising meal/wonderful church family support/help from family and friends/girls getting to bed way past their bedtime/Lillie’s yelling and loud “talking”/taking the plunge on a new business adventure/partnering with a friend/Central auction/movie night/Gracie’s facial expressions and noises while watching a movie/frozen yogurt/Tia Jia/IHOP/little top knots/Lillie saying “thank you”/Lillie saying “cat” and proceeding to yell at cat/learning alongside Gracie

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Think Spring: Caterpillar to Butterfly Metamorphosis

The activity I want to share with you today was pretty much completely spur of the moment, but turned into something absolutely awesome and fun. Proof that even when you think you have some of the best laid plans, spontaneity can’t be overlooked for all its goodness either! 

Gracie wanted to wear her butterfly wings. So we put them on and I told her she should fly around the room and pretend to be a butterfly and eat…and then I couldn’t really remember what butterflies actually eat. Is it nectar like bees or something else? So I turned to the trustworthy internet to fill me in on all things butterflies. This is turn led to a short kids video about a butterfly going through metamorphosis. 


They had a little activity at the end that Gracie and I decided to do. She absolutely loved it and wanted to do it over and over again! Lillie even got in on it. We tied the scarves around her arms and she wiggled on the floor like a little caterpillar. 

Then when it was time to go into her “cocoon” she wriggled to the edge of the blanket. We rolled her up in the blanket and then after, oh, say about two weeks in caterpillar time and 30 seconds in Gracie time, she nibbled a hole in the cocoon, pushed her way out, and she was a beautiful butterfly!

We then of course read, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, because what book is more perfect for all butterfly metamorphosis business. So from one simple act of putting on some play butterfly wings, we got a whole lot of learning and fun. A little taste of spring indoors and the hope that this weather will someday soon became something that resembles a beautiful butterfly just a little bit more.



Also, butterflies consume nectar, water, and even some liquids from fruits, just in case you were still wondering! 

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Stuff:Clear the Clutter to Focus on Christ.

Have you ever noticed how you can get bogged down by all the stuff? The stuff that’s piled in the closets, hidden in the basements, and stuffed in drawers. As we prepare to make the move to Uganda in the very near future, we are going through all the stuff. Stuff we’ve accumulated in just under five years in our little house. We’re finding stuff we haven’t even used in these last five years, and probably will never need to use. It feels good to let go of the things that are taking up space both physically and maybe even emotionally without us even really knowing it. We’re left feeling a little lighter when we can make room for the truly beautiful and meaningful things and get rid of the burdensome never going to use or need things. Do I really twelve gazillion little bottles of shampoo from hotels? Why am I keeping all these clothes that I never wear, just because I might, wear them someday? 

What the living room looks like when the girls decide to dump out ALL the toys. It just got real y’all.

We live in a culture where it is so easy to focus on getting more and more stuff. I mean, we need all that stuff, right? Dustin and I are learning we would rather have a few nice, quality things, than lots of cheap things, but even then, the few nice things should not be the main focus. The focus shouldn’t be on stuff and things and worldly items that pass away, but on relationships, and community and pursuing God. I think it’s ok to enjoy some of the stuff we have in our lives, but it shouldn’t be what drives us or what we worship. As we move to Uganda, we won’t be taking too much of our stuff with us. There will be a lot that we are donating, getting rid of or storing. We are actually really excited about living with a little less “stuff” in our lives. Not to say that there won’t be times when we won’t miss some of the “stuff’ that we take for granted here and have come accustomed to having easily accessible. It will be a change for sure, but something that we feel will be a good change. It’s time to get rid of the clutter and bring back our focus to Christ. And you don’t have to move to Uganda to do it! You can do it right where you are! Clear the clutter, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual and turn your focus back to Christ. So, who’s ready to get rid of some stuff!?

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Sunday dinner at parent’s/Christ’s promise to always be with us and never give us more than we can handle/Lillie’s saying “uh oh” and moo/Lillie patting her head when she falls down/Gracie’s first 3 year old story time/Lunch with Daddy/Lillie trying to say baby/Play dates/Cleaning out toy clutter with a friend/Learning about what fires me up/Mall walking with Dustin/Aunt Hannah and Uncle Sean taking Gracie and Lillie to see Princess Elsa and Anna/Gracie building a snowman with Dustin/A snowy walk/Sticky, white snow/Creative dreams/friends with passion for the same things/Gracie’s first time in Pre-k Sunday School/Quiet evenings to work


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