Last Day of LHC.

Today was Chase’s last day of school at his current school. ChaseLastDayLHCThis boy has grown so much as a student at the Lighthouse Homeschool Co-op we have been a part of for a year and a half. He learned to read and spell and how to tell time (and more) in that short time. Beyond academics, I watched him grow in confidence as he learned more about who God created him to be and what he was capable of. The cautious and quiet Chaseboy that entered LHC is now slightly cautious and very confident in who he is. And I LOVE that.  ChaseLastDayLHC-5ChaseLastDayLHC-4He was/is well loved in his class. The students and, especially Miss Isabel, truly love him and show him on a daily basis: he is ADORED and oh so loved. ChaseLastDayLHC-3

Today I photographed behind tears as I watched and heard the precious love and prayers pour out the mouths of 6 and 7-year-old kids. ChaseLastDayLHC-9

ChaseLastDayLHC-10Chase has no enemies, everyone he meets instantly becomes his friend. He surrounds them with love, laughter and encouragement.

ChaseLastDayLHC-7Today his teacher and friends surprised him with a “going away” party, showering him with encouragement, cards and even cupcakes. ChaseLastDayLHC-8

Why are we moving on? Why halfway through a school year? I have struggled with both of these questions (and many more) since we’ve decided to pull him out. I’ve gone back and forth but have always fallen back onto the peace we feel in the next decision.

12484759_10153368654901989_248275317612735671_o(Katie Daisy posted this beautiful art and quote on her IG account last week and I found the words oh so fitting)

We will be homeschooling our kiddos, at least for the rest of this school year (possibly in years to come, we shall see). We are also moving to Alaska sometime in 2016 and we need the flexibility. But more than any of those things, Ted is moving to Alaska sooner than us (next Wednesday the 20th, in fact) and also I have realized I’ve poured out so much time and energy into Chase’s education (I was the head teacher for math, science and bible history in his first grade class), and so little into Shailo’s. By the time Chase was 4 he knew how to spell his name and I know that Shailo only knows one letter of his name. I realized that over Christmas break.

It might seem like such a dramatic change for such a seemingly small thing in life, but I truly felt that it was time to try and homeschool. In my time at LHC and especially this last fall, having to plan and teach 9 kiddos, 3 different subjects, I realized that I am capable of homeschooling now.

Before this fall it was such a daunting and terrifying thought. Now I still feel nervous, don’t get me wrong, but I also feel peace.

I’ve watched a few friends from afar homeschool their littles in a Wild and Free way and have felt so inspired. This Christmas break was the little push I needed to jump into the world of homeschooling.

So once Ted leaves, we too embark on a new journey! Pray for us :)

Wild Kratts + their Baby Panda

My boys have a Wild Kratt obsession. And I have got to say, this is one that I love! Have you seen Wild Kratts? It’s a PBS kids show that comes from a show my siblings and I watched as kids called Zoboomafoo. The Kratt Brothers were far younger (obviously) in it, but my boys also love that show too. HarvestParty2015-2They always play as Chris and Martin Kratt and this halloween I decided to make them suits. I made them cheap-o suits from mostly Dollar store supplies and they wore them out before they had a chance to wear them to school! So the ones they are wearing above are NOT the ones I made, but the ones we bought via Amazon (right now they are $22 a piece!). harvestpartyCollage

I had high hopes of making Everly and I a Fawn and a Doe, but she wasn’t having it. So a painted black nose and found panda hat (of Shailo’s) and a vest we already owned and called it good! 12193626_10153239316386989_8700813055866166158_n

(She was smiling on the inside, I just know it)12189170_10153241479311989_2653064677915314050_n

My boys have since wore these outfits almost daily! We even threw Shailo a Wild Kratt birthday party which I’ll be blogging soon!

Check them out on PBS kids! Very educational and fun!

 

Kid’s First Furry Pet (Saying Goodbye)

In April, we welcomed our first furry pets to the family. Bunnies, Elsa and Anna, named by Frozen-lover Chase.BunniesBlogCollage_2We visited a local pet store nearby “just for fun” and then fell in love with these two 8 week old bunnies. Learned they were sisters so we couldn’t take just ONE of course. ;) We waited a whole day/night before deciding (HA!) and surprised the boys with bunny pancakes to share the news: They’d get their first fur pets! I couldn’t quite commit to a puppy/dog yet. I just didn’t feel ready to add that to our chaotic life, so we thought Elsa and Anna would be a perfect beginning to teach our boys pet responsibility. Cleaning the cage, feeding them twice daily, making sure they have water, getting them outside, etc. BunniesBlogCollage_3Momma and Ever squeezed loved them too.
BunniesBlogCollage_1Smitten.BunniesBlogCollage_4I put together a cheap little “rabbit run”. They have now grown 3x the size they were haha, so we are in the process of making a hutch with recycled materials.
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  The bunny Anna puts his nose against Chase’s and sits still. It seems so silly but we love these bunnies like they are puppies :)

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I wrote this before we had to make the heartbreaking decision to send the rabbits to Humane Society.  To make a long (and disturbing) story short… they weren’t sisters. They were actually a boy and girl. We woke to baby bunnies last Monday, all of which died before noon the same day. Terribly disturbing  situation and THANK THE LORD we somehow managed to hide everything from the boys. THEY HAVE NO IDEA (so please do not ask them about the babies)!

  We had originally planned on this large outdoor/indoor hutch for the “girls” but once we knew one was a boy, we separated them (into cages) and honestly do not have the room to house them separately. I don’t have the heart to craigslist or sell them back to the pet store which was LESS than ideal for a living situation. So after research I found our humane society will take them (we pay them) and give them to a good home. They do a lot of research and even meet with us to talk about the pets and what they like/don’t like.

We’ve shared with the boys that one is a girl and one is a boy which means they could have babies and we wouldn’t be able to take care of them. (I never would have thought that, but let’s just say the animal kingdom SUCKS sometimes… not a fan.) Tonight Chase pieced things together a bit and said “But mom, if they are boy and girl, they are sister and brother! So they can’t get married and have babies!” That was a tough one. Ted took over haha and shared that bunnies do not think like humans haha…. oh dear. 99345741-BC5E-4202-8A67-B73612560939

 Anyways, tomorrow we say goodbye! I’m so sad to put my kiddos through this. I know it’s a part of life but it is going to be so difficult. Praying we can find a dog to fit our family SOONER than later so to ease the pain of this sudden loss for the boys. (The good news is these bunnies have taught our boys a TON about taking care of animals well!)

UGH, I HATE THESE MOMENTS AS PARENTS.

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I know it’s just bunnies, but watching their hearts break is always difficult (for me) no matter the reason.

Dear Tooth Fairy…

“Dear Tooth Fairy,

My mom would like to keep my tooth.

Love,

Chase”

12046562_10153192515741989_5878940075942724012_nSeptember 29th, 2015 Chaseyboy lost his first tooth. The next morning he lost another! He was making a “paper costume”and decided to use his teeth to tear heavy duty duct tape from the roll. It snagged on his teeth and he came running in with a tooth hanging! ChasesFirstTooth-1.jpg

His letter to the Tooth Fairy I’m keeping forever, I’m such a sap. It’s so funny and sweet.

Two out, many to go, but I just had to document these first ones!

Davis Haven: Our Front Yard!

When we moved into our cute, little “Davis Haven”, I didn’t touch the yard (besides occasionally mowing). The previous owners had seven large dogs. I kid you not. And the yard was living proof. Oh and also, *ahem*, dead proof too. But that’s another story, which I do not want to retell. Ha!

I wish I had taken better ‘before’ pictures. I literally cursed pulled, ripped up and bagged TWENTY-FIVE bags of weeds, old gnarly plants and leaves that hadn’t been racked up. Even our sweet, elderly neighbors noticed the many trash bags and offered their trash can each week until our pile was gone. OH DEAR. We are THAT family on the block :)

Nah, they were all so incredibly gracious to us during the process of making our home beautiful on the outside too. I think they were just thankful that this year we decided to do something with our yard (opposed to last year when I just didn’t have the motivation to do ANYthing with the outside). All that to say, this past spring, I was so excited to get out and make the yard beautiful too. I worked SO hard on this yard, and even still work to keep up with the dang weeds! It has been an incredibly fun process for us all! I enjoyed waking up with a new dawn and the kiddos and I spending hours outside. Here are some pics I snapped along the way (with my crummy iPhone, so grace please ;))yardblog_1      Weeds are dang resilient and pop up even with a weed mat in place! The Irises pictured above and below were given to be from the “stash” my grandparents have at their home. Beautiful AND free, you can’t beat that!    yardblog_2While weeding the front initially, I noticed bricks lined the fence line. Since we do not have a dog currently, I just ripped them all up, washed them and saved them for the projects you see here! So I didn’t pay A PENNY for the bricks you see. (I also see bricks AND perennials on Craigslist for free if you’re ever looking!)
11329956_10152945026931989_294588017045292068_nThis area (above) was a bit difficult to decide what to do with. The grass was SO worn down from the previous owners. I began to notice we too walked on this area a lot – to access the yard and swing we’d placed under a tree. So instead of laying a few feet of sod, I kept the wood chip and brick theme, and used two pallet steps that were at our home when we moved in. Now I can kick back and watch my kiddos take care of the yard ;)   yardblog_3Above: You see more of the perrenials my grandparents and dad have given me from their abundant overflow! Shailo and Chase both have really taken ownership of this home and yard and it’s a joy to watch! I have been incredibly in awe of them and their desire to help me weed, water and take care of what God has given us!11705331_10153037556086989_5248507934992043440_n (1)The grass… we literally watered it almost daily and did nothing else. Our neighbors to our right have a company come weekly to spray their grass, which causes asthma for both Shailo and I. It’s just not worth it, so I decided let’s just water and see what happens and either we got lucky, or it just works!11222702_10153037558536989_3443748197825867322_nWe LOVE being in our front yard! 11267215_10153037560681989_688035163497810358_nAbove: This before and after is really more an ‘in between’ and an ‘after’ shot! I didn’t snap a shot of what this looked like before. I would love to paint the concrete a natural concrete look to hide the stains and then touch up the black railings. 11017733_10152945027881989_4844079783267964096_nIt was all worth the hard work and sweat. And I got a pretty sweet tan in the process too, so can’t complain, ;)

Next spring, THE BACK YARD. Oh dear Lord, hold me.

Chase’s Ninjago Birthday Party

Chase turned 6 this year! SIX. It’s just not possible! I think I’ll say this every single year. Yep, can’t help myself.
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Chaseyboy LOVES ninjas… hence his Ninkago themed party (which he chose). Anyways, here are photos from his Ninjago birthday party along with party details if you are looking for some!  Ninjago_Collage3I bought large balloons at the Dollar Tree ($1 for 2 balloons – the heavier duty kind used for “punching”) and printed of Ninjago style eyes, then taped them on and hung them. I also found free printables on pinterest (just type in free printable ninjago) for cupcakes! I wrapped an existing picture frame with wrapping paper and then taped the same colour plates to it to create the Lego look.

I found a 2lb bag of lego candy on Amazon for $12. This bag has lasted me forever too!  It was used for each goody “thank you for coming” bag and also as treats for the party and I even had a cup filled for little treats here and there for my kiddos.
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I had each kid bring a t-shirt of their favourite colour (I would suggest adult size small-medium) and we used them to create “ninja masks”. 
Ninjago_Collage1The kids did an ninja training obstacle course. We made swords out of Dollar Store pool noodles (cut in half) and then used $1 store duct tape for a “handle”. Ninjago_Collage5

It’s probably hard to believe, but I made Chase’s AMAZING cake ;). HAHA. Chaseyboy had a blast at his 6th birthday party.

Finding the beauty beneath.

(May 2014)

One year ago today we moved to Colorado Springs! And oh what a year it has been for our family! We spent time reflecting on the past year in “the Springs”, our new city and home – it has been uniquely beautiful, even though it wasn’t anything like we’d imagined.

Jesus has been seeking after my heart, pursuing me over and over again, meeting me where I’m at, in ways that might seem so small but are significant to me. Lately, it has been in nature, while being down on my knees, wrist deep in dirt, yanking up weeds, planting seeds and flowers…The last year has been a season of what reminds me a lot of weeding, actually. It has actually been THE hardest and the best year simultaneously. I touched on this a bit in one of my recent posts (click here to read) – We’ve moved, yet again, and found ourselves in the same place as before: broken, struggling, lonely, avoiding painful things and busying our lives in such a way we don’t have to face them.

Until, like weeds, these things have begun to suffocate us over the past almost 5 years since Eisley’s death. Taking over our lives so much so that it was hard to even see the beautiful things now hidden beneath the mess. It was beginning to be hard to remember they were even there anymore.

We’re currently walking through the thick of what springtime brings – figuratively and literally speaking;  sunshine and rainy days begin to be more and more frequent, flowers, buds and trees begin to blossom, and also these icky things called weeds begin to grow as well. IMG_7752

(The ‘before’ of part of our front yard)

It might sound odd, but weeding is one of my favourite things to do in springtime. It can be tedious, it is guaranteed to be messy, and is even painful at times but working hard removing the weed – digging deep, finding the root and digging it out completely, it’s truly rewarding. Even when you’ve finished just a small area, and step back to take a look at your work, it’s encouraging! You begin to notice the plants or flowers that have been hidden yet have still tried to make their way through the thick of the weeds.  IMG_7735

(Hard work pays off!)

It isn’t perfect and weeds are bound to pop up now and again, but what if we pulled them as they appeared, rather than avoid them? Imagine how much more beautiful and freeing that would be!

Have you ever noticed how the weeds you decided to avoid the spring/summer before seem to come back twice as big and hardy, and maybe even multiplied? This is the perfect picture of what the past (almost) 5 years have been like for us.  Gnarly weeds growing and taking over areas that were once full of life and beauty.

When we moved to The Springs, I had high expectations for what moving meant for us. Expectations of the busy life slowing to a more simpler, family centered life where we could find healing. I had these ideas of what it “should” look like and thought maybe, just maybe THIS will be the place we find healing, and truly begin to move forward and not backwards. Not long after the move I began to notice familiar patterns and again we were in a constant struggle, and yet another season of “too busy” to face things that need faced head on.

And to be honest, this fall, I crumbled.  And then we added more loss and more heartache in January with the loss of another baby (I should be 24 weeks now). And I just felt done with it all,  to the point of no return. The journey of seeking after healing after loss felt so hopeless when loss continues to pile up on us. And time slips away so fast we aren’t able to process, or perhaps choose not to because we just don’t know where to begin.

We hit rock bottom soon after Everly’s 1st birthday.  We were truly suffocating from the “weeds” and it was time to either face what needs to to be faces, or to allow them to suffocate us.

But this time we’ve chosen to face things head on. To dig deep and yank up those damn roots that have been growing deeper and larger each year! For once we’ve actually taken steps to move forward and OH HOW HEALING that alone has been.

I think we all some type of  “weed” in our lives that’s suffocating us, am I right? Maybe one’s we’ve avoided for so long, we can no longer see the beauty hiding beneath. Or perhaps they are small ones, just beginning to appear.

 Let’s dig them up, friends!IMG_7753

(Shailo showing me how tall the Iris has grown – it’s rare when he wants his picture taken or he’s actually looking at the camera haha)

Spring time is here, and I can’t wait to see the beauty that unfolds from our hard work!

Let’s Carry the Lee Family.

Our dear friends tragically lost their daughter yesterday. She was born 19 weeks early and lived for a few hours before she passed away. In this time many people who know them personally have asked how to help, so we’ve created a practical way for people to help financially using Go Fund Me (EVERY penny goes directly to them).  Even if you do not know them personally, would you consider giving? I decided to reach out to all of you, my sweet blog followers!

LetscarrytheleesPlease consider giving here and sharing this link on your own social media platforms?

Let’s rally together and carry the Lees in this time of deep sorrow.

#Letscarrythelees

Lessons at the Royal Gorge.

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(The Royal Gorge – photo by Ted)

We’re facing some huge mountains and even deep valleys in our lives. (pun intended with this post, but I’m also quite serious) ‘The mountains’ being decisions we’re having to make and ‘the valleys’ representing the areas we have yet to face that we are afraid to, or “haven’t had time” to. We are weighed down by life’s punches and blows, the sudden ones and the old blows that still ache with each breath. Today, we just knew we had to get out – literally.  Where better to run to in Colorado than to the mountains? It’s always our favourite escape. We begin our trek usually not knowing where we are going – letting go of (almost) all control (which is why Ted drives in such circumstances), we drive until we decide where to go and what to do. More often than not, our kiddos fall asleep within the first 20-30 minutes, we roll our windows down to take in the fresh air and just listen to music.

After some time, one of the two of us speak the vulnerable, powerful words that carry so much…”I’m so sorry…”and reach for the other’s hand. Hot tears stream down our cheeks.

Here we are again, and again, and again.

So much pain and suffering shoved to the side, overlooked, or perhaps avoided, raising it’s ugly head in words spoken to one another. And life, oh life hasn’t been gracious to stop to say “Hey, it’s okay to grieve. Let’s talk. Let’s cry. Let’s scream. Let’s write. Let’s take time to heal.”

It’s been brutal. And boy, are we done.  But not done with LIFE and with LIVING. We are done with SUFFERING. Suffering, not just due to the losses we have had, but mainly the suffering due to the choices we’ve made along the way. Ones of avoidance, choices made to choose the busyness of life so not to feel and face the valleys, the deep and dark places that terrify us.

The first few months of this year have been incredibly painful, filled with sickness after sickness, hospitalization of Everly, and amidst all of that the loss of another baby (I would entering my 2nd trimester this week). From the outside looking in, we appear to be okay. And it makes sense why people around us have thought we’ve even moved on. Appearance… oh my. What a joke, am I right? How many times do we (you?) lie through your teeth “I’m doing good!”? We just keep pushing through and going and going and going. But is that strength? We know, we are anything but strong right now. We had given up just two weeks ago. We wanted to call it quits on everything. And those moments, our “rock bottom”, have led us to this moment here…

Now, we are making choices for our family that aren’t easy (the mountains) which don’t look anything like we’d imagined, or planned for. Or where we’d imagined. It actually might seem like a rather simple life, from the outside looking in. Or like we’ve given up on our dreams, our calling even. But we know this is not, and that this is the first time we are deliberate in choosing to face this “valley” that we haven’t fully faced, and that is no small or simple or weak thing. It is strong to decide this path, though it’s more painful and requires more faith (for us).

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(The Royal Gorge – photo by Ted)

I stood today and looked down into the depths of this gorge. And my stomach sank due to fear (especially with my kids near!) yet once I recognized how truly safe we were, the fear naturally dissolved and I began to see the beauty everywhere. There was beauty even in the depths where the river raged below. I almost gasped, it was so stunning. I suddenly realized it was no coincidence that we were there. I felt like this was a picture of where we are at: A picture of us, facing this gorge, this valley and feeling fear as we look down. Fear of falling and being unable to get back up, or worse. Fear of the unknown in facing the raging river. But from above I can see there is also beauty below. Though it will be difficult to crawl back into that valley and face these things, the beauty that will meet us amidst all of this pain and fear, is undeniably healing.

Now, if you had told me I would get this kind of an amazing picture, just even a week ago, I would have scoffed, honestly. I have put up some major barriers in my relationship with God in my search for answers. Searching for peace and understanding in every season of life and feeling as though I come up empty handed each time, or worse – suffering more loss. And that is painful and confusing. I want to be in a place where I can trust Him wholeheartedly, again. And with this picture, I feel like once I can do what He’s wanting us to do – to truly face this valley – our fear will begin dissolve, our trust will begin to build up again.

He’ll walk us through this valley. He will be with us.

And perhaps, for now, that is my answer. That He will be with us each step of the way.

(taken with my iphone)

 And for these little eyes that are watching, and looking into the gorge but not truly knowing what their momma and daddy are giong to be facing (and honestly, I don’t want them to fully know!)… I want to do this for all of us. I want to show them that though you will face these gorges, and have to walk through these valleys, you need to and you WILL come out alive.

We are more than conquerers with Him.

 We can do this.

However difficult and painful. However long it takes.IMG_4959

Time to face this valley.

//

I’ve written posts with talk of this kind of having hope to face this. Talk of facing giants and valleys and mountains and fears, etc, etc, etc… but this time we actually have steps in place to help us. Such as long term grief and marital counseling for this year. Which is a first, the longest stretch we did was almost 2 months, and it was our healthiest 2 months since the loss of Eisley. Grief and lingering sorrow have truly seeped into every area of our lives: health – we are both the most unhealthy we’ve ever been physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s seeped into our drive, our passions, into who we are and how we live.

I told Ted today, for the first time since Eisley passed away, I have felt it is time to move forward. I need to figure out how to say goodbye, which is something I haven’t been able to let go and to do yet. Almost 5 years later… I don’t know what this will look like, but I am ready to move forward and begin my trek through this valley.

Thankful that Jesus is walking before us.

Thank you for reading this novel. :)

-J

Happily {Ever} After – Everly’s First Birthday

IMG_4567I went a little “punny” with Everly’s first birthday. Happily Ever After, ONE(ce) Upon A Time.  Whimsical, vintage, princess’y party! (Party details and DIYs below!)L30A0531 Our sweet girl! She didn’t know what to think of all of the attention at first, but soon she warmed up and became the “Belle of the ball” and LOVED the attention and ooohing and awwwing over her. She recently learned to really walk beyond just 5 steps and now walks everywhere!

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EverlyFirstBirthday_collage5BEAUTIFUL GIRL!
EverlyFirstBirthday_collage6The headband is a Claire’s brand that I stumbled upon at Toys R Us randomly! I painted the flower teal to match for her party :)
EverlyFirstBirthday_collage7Cake time!!L30A0594EverlyFirstBirthday_collage8Probably my favourite moment was her smashing her entire face into the cake! HEHE!

L30A0675Oh how I love this photo!

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(above photo taken with iphone)L30A0643… and then she bit her finger! awww.

IMG_4545(above photos taken with iphone)

My sweet and me.

EverlysFirstBirthdayMy best friends and their families drove down to celebrate with us! My friend Chey (in green) is 18 weeks pregnant with her first and we are pretty much freaking out over it!IMG_4550Ever and her best friend Poe (exactly 4 months apart)IMG_4565

(above photo: taken with iPhone)

Happy first birthday, Everly Selah!

PARTY DETAILS BELOW:IMG_4569 Almost every piece of decor you saw at the party, we already had and were using as decor somewhere in our home! The little clock you see was a hand-me-down from my madre. Most of this decor was in Everly’s room already. The mirror was a splurge – I found it at a flea market in town for $8!

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I upcycled a jar into a pretty little straw holder. Lace, hot glue and some string for a bow. The fabric you see as a tablecloth is vintage material I’ve had for years. I actually had it tacked up as curtains in Everly’s room :)

The owl above was thrifted before every was born and painted gold.

Her “smash cake” was just a muffin I frosted. I might be crafty and love throwing parties… but I am no Betty Crocker. Hence, no baking for this party. :)

Everly'sFirstBirthday_3I used a lot of golden paint for this party (well, really only one acrylic bottle!)

I painted the scrabble display pieces gold, as well as the little wooden keys I snagged from Hobby Lobby.

CAKE STAND DIY: This was a super easy and fun project! I bought two unique wine glasses/goblets from Goodwill for $.99 each. I then bought the two plates you see on top of them (which came with tea cups and also were already pink and gold! $2 for each set. SCORE!) I painted the glass with two coats of gold paint. Let it dry and then I super glued the plates to the glasses! So simple and you have cute “cake stands”!

IMG_4570(above photo: taken with iPhone)

I used a vintage suitcase we had as decor.

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I made each girly a little crown out of lace. I modge podged the lace, let it dry and then painted each side golden. I molded them into circles for crowns, and hot glued them to stay together. I then looped a piece of string through so parents could put it on their kiddo.

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(above photo: taken with iPhone)

I took a golden frame from The Dollar Tree and hot glued the fabric border to the outside. I then added lace and a cute picture of Everly inside!

10615994_939359656074244_552055445537464960_nIMG_4566The pictures you see hung up all around for the party were taken with instagram and printed with Sticky 9 (formally known as Sticky Gram).

Everly'sFirstBirthday_4I actually only used a glue gun for this project and the other banners you’ve seen, no sewing (which is great as my sewing machine is currently broken!) The DIY you can find here.

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For party favors I used burlap bags I found 50% off at Hobby Lobby and filled them with dollar store barrettes and wands, playdoh and the little armor hands you see behind, for the boys of the party!

I might say this every party, but this was truly one of the funnest parties to plan and decorate for! LOVED IT ALL!

IMG_4544Happy birthday, beautiful girl!