Friday, October 31, 2014

Preserving Baby Memories in a Shadowbox Frame: A DIY Project

I am a sentimental person. My husband teases me for it, but that's ok. I love creating photo albums on Shutterfly, looking through old photos and cards, remembering old days, etc. I have never been very good at handling change, and it's probably because I get so stuck in the past sometimes! But I still wouldn't change that about myself because I really do enjoy remembering the past, and truthfully, I'm getting better at handling change as I get older because I am realizing that change is good and necessary in life.

One thing that comes with being sentimental is keeping things. Believe me, we've got enough "stuff" without me keeping anything extra as it is! I could not for the life of me ever part with my baby's hospital bracelets from their birth day/week or with their first articles of clothing, ultrasounds, etc (but what mom could?!) So for each of my children, I have created a shadowbox memory frame filled with their newborn sentiments. I am most proud of the last one I created for my little baby and I wanted to share the process as well as the end result here.

1) To begin, go to your local Joann's, Michael's or Hobby Lobby and pick up a 12x12 sized shadowbox frame. This has proven to be a good size for me, but you can go smaller or larger as needed, of course. I happened to hit up Michaels' during a sale and the shadowbox frames were Buy One, Get One Free!  I'm saving the other one for another project.

While you are at your craft store, visit the scrapbooking section and pick out an appropriate piece of scrapbook paper for your background...I chose a pink paper for my baby girl. You should not have any problems finding a paper in the same size as the frame. You will also need to pick up some thumbtacks and double-sided scrapbooking tape, if you do not have any on hand at home. And of course, you will also need to gather your sentiments that you plan to use. In this project, I used my baby's ultrasound, her newborn hat (which had been mine as a newborn, too!), the white t-sihrt she wore at the hospital, her birth announcement, both her and my hospital bracelet, and the hospital tag that was used to label her crib during the hospital stay.

2) Now that you have gathered all the proper materials, take apart the shadowbox frame from the backing of it. Make sure you check on the back of the frame that the hanging tool is facing the right way when you are beginning your work.

Now, take your scrapbook paper and line it (on the back side) with scrapbook tape/double-sided tape. Make sure you get the corners, especially. Flip the paper over and place it (correctly aligned) onto the board from your shadowbox.

3) Next, take all of your sentiments and place them on the backing WITHOUT gluing them on. You want to make sure everything fits properly and looks nice before you begin to glue anything.

4) Once you have arranged everything to your liking, you can begin gluing or tacking on each item. I used glue or double-sided tape for flat items, such as the hospital bracelets, hospital tag and birth announcement. For the thicker items, I used thumbtacks to pin them down. The tacks did stick out a bit on the other side of the backing, but being that the shadowbox will be hanging or propping against a wall, this really is not important.

5) Finally, once you've finished attaching your items, place the backing into the frame and adjust as may see that something is loose (like the t-shirt, which I had to adjust several times) and play with it, or add more tape/tacks accordingly.

Here is my finished product. I love it!!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tis the Season for Gratitude

Every year, come autumn and the changing leaves, I have one thing on my mind: Thanksgiving and the season of gratitude. It's important to be grateful every day, for everything, but at this cozy time of year it is somehow nice to be in a grateful frame of mind. Being grateful can be particularly helpful in setting goals for the holiday season and remembering not to worry as much about accumulating new things but more about enjoying what we already have (and I am the first who needs this reminder)! It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the Black Friday sales and all the seasonal sales thereafter. Even though it's a bit early to be thinking about Thanksgiving, we are just two days from November and that lovely day will be upon us before we know it!

The point of this post is to tell you about one of my favorite exercises in gratitude. A few years ago, I acquired this handy little Gratitude Journal from Amazon. It's a small journal...sometimes my hand feels cramped writing in it. But the point of it is to write down things you are grateful for each and every day of the year. I have gotten out of the habit of writing in this journal and lately I have kept it under my nose (by the computer, a frequently visited spot) to remind myself to write in it. Things can be simple like, "Grateful that I have my coffee to get me through this morning with energetic babies!"...which can lead to "Grateful that my babies are energetic..for they could be ill or unwell in some way, and unable to run around in such a manner." ...which can then lead to..."Grateful for good health...Grateful that God blesses me every day." It's contagious once you just begin!

As I encourage myself, I encourage all my fellow mamas to try this little exercise. You don't need a fancy notebook, and if you can't afford a new one, grab any old notebook, label it "My Gratitude Journal." (If you Google 'gratitude journal' you can also find some free templates to make your own journal!) Take a new page for each day, and see how many things you can be grateful for each day! Life seems much easier when you are listing your gratitudes, big or small, and get into a positive frame of mind.

Living Simply...

As we prepare for our big move to a parish at the very end of this year, I am focusing on getting rid of as much of our "stuff" as possible, bringing with us only the most important necessities. It is nice to get rid of things that I know we don't need.

I came across this quote this morning about simple living, and thought I'd share it since it can be useful to everyone in their own life.

"The best thing of all is to live simply. Don’t rack your brains over anything. Pray to God. The Lord will arrange everything, only live more simply. Don’t torment yourself thinking about how and what to do. Let it be as it happens: that’s what it is to live more simply." -St. Ambrose of Optina

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Seek and you shall find...

"No matter how many creature comforts and blessings a person has, he has very little. Everyone, as you have already noticed, is always seeking. They seek and find something, but after they have found it, they cast it aside and start seeking all over again, so that they may once again cast away what they find. So it goes on endlessly. This means that they are seeking the wrong thing in the wrong place, and not what they should be seeking, and not where they should be seeking it. Isn't this tangible proof that there is a force in us drawing us away from the earth and earthly sorrows toward Heaven?"

From the book, The Spiritual Life and How to Be Attuned to It, by St. Theophan the Recluse

Monday, October 13, 2014

Housework Sanctified

"Tired of laundry? Parenting and homemaking are indeed a holy calling. Daily chores are a blessing to us and to our family. Even laundry is blessed - no children, no laundry. What would our life be like without them? So as we wash, fold or iron each item we can say, 'Lord have mercy on (name of clothing wearer).' This works for your husband's clothing, your children's and your own clothing. 'Lord have mercy on me.' This sanctifies our time and work. It also helps us acquire peace and unceasing prayer."

This lovely quote was taken from the book Orthodox Christian Parenting.