Monday, January 30, 2012

Crazy for chevron

Looking for a simple AND fabulous birthday party idea? Look no further because our simple, yet sophisticated chevron rainbow design is the perfect invitation for a one year old or a 16 year old's special day. Go for a rainbow theme for your sweet one year old (like Charlotte featured in our sample invite) or a colorful chevron theme for your teen. 
This versatile design can also be customized to make a great Valentine's Day party invitation!  

In the market for some party invitations or party inspiration? Check out more party invitation designs here

Monday, January 23, 2012

Don't Carpe Diem

The article below was written by Glennon Melton and posted on Huffington Post last week and we thought our readers might appreciate the perspective. We certainly do! Be sure to read to the end!  
Every time I'm out with my kids -- this seems to happen:
An older woman stops us, puts her hand over her heart and says something like, "Oh, Enjoy every moment. This time goes by so fast."
Everywhere I go, someone is telling me to seize the moment,raise my awareness, be happy, enjoy every second, etc, etc, etc.
I know that this message is right and good. But, I have finally allowed myself to admit that it just doesn't work for me. It bugs me. This CARPE DIEM message makes me paranoid and panicky. Especially during this phase of my life - while I'm raising young kids. Being told, in a million different ways to CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I'm not in a constant state of intense gratitude and ecstasy, I'm doing something wrong.
I think parenting young children (and old ones, I've heard) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they've heard there's magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb are impressive accomplishments. They try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to pause and lift their eyes and minds from the pain and drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it's hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up.
And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers -- "ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF!? IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU'LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN'T!" TRUST US!! IT'LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!" -- those well-meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.
Now. I'm not suggesting that the sweet old ladies who tell me to ENJOY MYSELF be thrown from a mountain. These are wonderful ladies. Monkees, probably. But last week, a woman approached me in the Target line and said the following: "Sugar, I hope you are enjoying this. I loved every single second of parenting my two girls.Every single moment. These days go by so fast."
At that particular moment, Amma had arranged one of the new bras I was buying on top of her sweater and was sucking a lollipop that she must have found on the ground. She also had three shop-lifted clip-on neon feathers stuck in her hair. She looked exactly like a contestant from Toddlers and Tiaras. I couldn't find Chase anywhere, and Tish was grabbing the pen on the credit card swiper thing WHILE the woman in front of me was trying to use it. And so I just looked at the woman, smiled and said, "Thank you. Yes. Me too. I am enjoying every single moment. Especially this one. Yes. Thank you."
That's not exactly what I wanted to say, though.
There was a famous writer who, when asked if he loved writing, replied, "No. but I love having written." What I wanted to say to this sweet woman was, "Are you sure? Are you sure you don't mean you love having parented?"
I love having written. And I love having parented. My favorite part of each day is when the kids are put to sleep (to bed) and Craig and I sink into the couch to watch some quality TV, like Celebrity Wife Swap, and congratulate each other on a job well done. Or a job done, at least.
Every time I write a post like this, I get emails suggesting that I'm being negative. I have received this particular message four or five times -- G, if you can't handle the three you have, why do you want a fourth?
That one always stings, and I don't think it's quite fair. Parenting is hard. Just like lots of important jobs are hard. Why is it that the second a mother admits that it's hard, people feel the need to suggest that maybe she's not doing it right? Or that she certainly shouldn't add more to her load. Maybe the fact that it's so hard means she IS doing it her own way...and she happens to be honest.
Craig is a software salesman. It's a hard job in this economy. And he comes home each day and talks a little bit about how hard it is. And I don't ever feel the need to suggest that he's not doing it right, or that he's negative for noticing that it's hard, or that maybe he shouldn't even consider taking on more responsibility. And I doubt anybody comes by his office to make sure he's ENJOYING HIMSELF. I doubt his boss peeks in his office and says: "This career goes by so fast...ARE YOU ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT IN THERE, CRAIG???? CARPE DIEM, CRAIG!"
My point is this. I used to worry that not only was I failing to do a good enough job at parenting, but that I wasn't enjoying it enough. Double failure. I felt guilty because I wasn't in parental ecstasy every hour of every day and I wasn't MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT like the mamas in the parenting magazines seemed to be doing. I felt guilty because honestly, I was tired and cranky and ready for the day to be over quite often. And because I knew that one day, I'd wake up and the kids would be gone, and I'd be the old lady in the grocery store with my hand over my heart. Would I be able to say I enjoyed every moment? No.
But the fact remains that I will be that nostalgic lady. I just hope to be one with a clear memory. And here's what I hope to say to the younger mama gritting her teeth in line:
"It's helluva hard, isn't it? You're a good mom, I can tell. And I like your kids, especially that one peeing in the corner. She's my favorite. Carry on, warrior. Six hours till bedtime." And hopefully, every once in a while, I'll add -- "Let me pick up that grocery bill for ya, sister. Go put those kids in the van and pull on up -- I'll have them bring your groceries out."
Anyway. Clearly, Carpe Diem doesn't work for me. I can't even carpe fifteen minutes in a row, so a whole diem is out of the question.
Here's what does work for me:
There are two different types of time. Chronos time is what we live in. It's regular time, it's one minute at a time, it's staring down the clock till bedtime time, it's ten excruciating minutes in the Target line time, it's four screaming minutes in time out time, it's two hours till daddy gets home time. Chronos is the hard, slow passing time we parents often live in.
Then there's Kairos time. Kairos is God's time. It's time outside of time. It's metaphysical time. It's those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day. And I cherish them.
Like when I actually stop what I'm doing and really look at Tish. I notice how perfectly smooth and brownish her skin is. I notice the perfect curves of her teeny elf mouth and her asianish brown eyes, and I breathe in her soft Tishy smell. In these moments, I see that her mouth is moving but I can't hear her because all I can think is -- This is the first time I've really seen Tish all day, and my God -- she is so beautiful. Kairos.
Like when I'm stuck in chronos time in the grocery line and I'm haggard and annoyed and angry at the slow check-out clerk. And then I look at my cart and I'm transported out of chronos. And suddenly I notice the piles and piles of healthy food I'll feed my children to grow their bodies and minds and I remember that most of the world's mamas would kill for this opportunity. This chance to stand in a grocery line with enough money to pay. And I just stare at my cart. At the abundance. The bounty. Thank you, God. Kairos.
Or when I curl up in my cozy bed with Theo asleep at my feet and Craig asleep by my side and I listen to them both breathing. And for a moment, I think- how did a girl like me get so lucky? To go to bed each night surrounded by this breath, this love, this peace, this warmth? Kairos.
These kairos moments leave as fast as they come- but I mark them. I say the word kairos in my head each time I leave chronos. And at the end of the day, I don't remember exactly what my kairos moments were, but I remember I had them. And that makes the pain of the daily parenting climb worth it.
If I had a couple Kairos moments during the day, I call it a success.
Carpe a couple of Kairoses a day.
Good enough for me.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Valentine's day cards for kids of all ages

We are excited to share with you a preview of our Valentine's Day Card line for kids! These 5x5 square cards can be personalized with your child's name on the front and with a photo and/or message on the back. These cards are the perfect unique cards for your little one to hand out to family members, friends, and classmates. 

Choose from a variety of options with more to come. "Sidewalk Chalk" is Elizabeth's favorite (shown above), while Sona's favorite is this colorful chevron design—"Colorful and Happy."

Colorful and Happy

Another staff favorite is "Whale you be my Valentine?"
Whale you be my Valentine?

We know a few helicopter enthusiasts that will appreciate our "Drop in Valentine."

And for that fire truck lover in your life, we all just adore "Sound the Alarm." 
Sound the Alarm

We'll be adding more of these adorable valentine's day cards daily so please check back soon!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Our DIY play kitchen

We decided to DIY a play kitchen for our girls for Christmas this year. We figured it was only fair after spending 4 months on our own kitchen that the girls get to have their own new kitchen too! I started looking for small cabinets or night stands at local flea markets back in October, but wasn't really having luck finding just the right thing. So when a mom friend of mine offered up this little end table she had and wasn't using, I decided it might be just right!

I instantly loved the shape of the little table and the drawer. And though small, the size was perfect for the space we have. The only problem was that I really wanted a little backsplash and a place for the girls to store all the cookware and dishes that go with a kitchen.

Lucky for me, I have friends with vision and a husband that is a little bit handy. After a few more hours than we expected of "elfing" in the basement on weekends, the project was done and here is the adorable play kitchen that we built!

The kids love the chalkboard paint and the little light switch on the other side too.

A view of the top...

And as much as I think the new kitchen is absolutely adorable, one of the best things about it is the cost. Here is a breakdown.

Table: free (thanks, Jen!)
Wood to enclose table and add shelf: free (scrap wood leftover from various home improvement projects)
Backsplash: free (leftover from kitchen remodel)
Bowl for Sink: free 
Copper Faucet: free (leftover from bathroom project last year)
Hot/Cold Knobs: free (from old kitchen sink)
Stove Dials: free (from an old stove)
Temperature gage: free (found in basement)
Burners: free (scrap wood cut in rounds and painted black)
Hook: free (leftover from kitchen renovation)
Light Switch: free (basement find)
Paint: free (had both the blue and the chalkboard paint - blue is Benjamin Moore Beach Glass)
Gingham Curtain: free (thanks, Mom!)

So... though we did pay for some of these things at an earlier point, we didn't actually buy any of them for this project and many of the pieces were either given to us or just found around our home!  

And most importantly, the kitchen was a definite success. In fact, here is our youngest cooking away on Christmas morning!

Monday, January 2, 2012

New year's resolution: 52 weeks to an organized home!

Photo from Pottery Barn

I'm the type of person who desperately wants to be organized. I crave an organized closet like a drug. I get strangely elated by looking at magazine photos of organized entryways, mud rooms, and closets. My dream would be to have every little thing in my home placed in the perfect drawer, basket, shelf, or closet at all times. And I do try to get organized and stay that way, but there is always overflow that begins to slowly pile up in a secret drawer somewhere, and then on the shelf over my desk, and then in the entry way "organizer," and then… well I think you get the picture. It gets to the point where these small piles of overflow become overwhelming and an impossible chore to tackle. And then of course there are my children who I of course love dearly, but who are constantly messing with my (not so) organized home by taking anything they can find that is actually in a proper place and relocating it to a pile on my bed or in a corner behind the couch, which is as you can imagine—a total nightmare for me.

Photo from BHG

We came across 52 Weeks to an Organized Home at Home Storage Solutions and decided to make organizing our homes a resolution this year. You simply sign up with your email address and receive a weekly challenge from the folks at Home Storage Solutions. As much as I would like to have my entire house organized overnight, that's probably not a realistic goal. And this way, I'm hoping that once I get each weekly task done, I can keep it pretty organized moving forward. It all sounds very doable, right? 

Photo from Land of Nod

Are you a secret wanna-be organizer like me—check out that Land of Nod kid's closet (swoon). Do you simply want to get rid of the clutter and things that don't matter to make room for the things that do matter in your life? I know I do. 

The first challenge of the year begins today and is kitchen countertops and sink. I feel like I have a bit of a head start on this since we just finished our kitchen renovation this fall, but looking at this photo above, I realize that my kitchen could already use a good cleaning and polishing to get back to it shiny newness of October! Join us for the challenge and let us know here on the blog or on facebook how it's going for you!

Happy New Year!

Elizabeth & Sona