Easy Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Activity

easy fine motor valentine's day activity at happyhomefairy.com

I know this is late, but this week has been BANANAS.

First of all, my little 2 year olds and my boys’ classes had their Valentine’s Day parties on Tuesday so I had to have all their little Valentines ready (you can see what we made HERE).

Then I was the speaker at our school’s weekly chapel service on Wednesday morning.

Thursday was Grandparent’s Day (an event that my class and the other 2 year old class got to sing for (adorable) but which cost me a few years of my life as we waited in the hallway for our performance cue for 20 minutes (insanity)).  Do you know what it is like to be in charge of 30 excited 2 year olds in a crammed hallway next to a room packed with 300 people for 20 minutes????

Think Lord of the Flies meets Jurassic Park and you will have a small window into my morning on Thursday.

Friday was a teacher work day at my school and then I ran to the mall with my mom (who was in town for Grandparent’s Day – yay!) to try to find her a dress for my little brother’s wedding (which is in just 3 weeks).

That afternoon I had a meeting with someone to try to find out how to move my blog to a self-hosted site so that I can add advertising and try to make a little money.  One thing the guy asked me in order to gauge how ready I am for this move, was how consistent I am with posting.  My response was something along the lines of, “Uhhhhh whenever I am not needed by anyone” – which is usually about once a week, at midnight, for about 10 minutes.

And Saturday was spent celebrating the people I love by decorating the kitchen table all fancy for Valentine’s Day only to see them all take their pancakes into the living room to watch TV.

Needless to say, instead of going on a hot Valentine’s Day date last night, the hubs and I were in bed by 9 – lol!

So here I am on Sunday getting this post to you about 3 weeks late, but hey, it’s not even midnight and I’m all for stretching out celebrations.  I mean who’s to say that Valentine’s Day has to end on the 14th?  In my opinion, Valentine’s doesn’t technically have to end until March 1.

I went to Dollar Tree and found these cute plastic heart buckets and these sparkly heart picks.

The hubs helped me drill some holes into the lid of the bucket and then we let the kiddos have at it!

fine motor activity for valentine's day 1fine motor activity for valentine's day 2fine motor activity for valentine's day 3fine motor activity for valentine's day 4This was a really simple and fun way to strengthen my kids’ hand muscles as well as help with their one-to-one correspondence.

They  can push the little heart sticks into the holes as well as pull them out for a great time!

fine motor activity for valentine's day 5I hope y’all had a good Valentine’s Day!

Happy Baby sends you a smooch!

– Julie :-)

Fifty Shades of NO

50 Shades of No by Happy Home FairyThere is a new movie coming out this weekend – just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Fifty Shades of Grey – have you heard of it?

Haha.

When the book originally came out I didn’t pay much attention on purpose.  I knew that it wasn’t something that I wanted to set before my eyes (Psalm 101:3).

But now with a movie making its debut, I am completely sobered by just how accessible and appealing this content is to so many.

Christian women included.

There are lots of reasons why this movie and book is harmful – dangerous, even – for you (Sheila from To Love, Honor, and Vacuum wrote a great post about it HERE and Thriving Home shared an incredible article called Can 50 Shades of Grey Enhance Your Sex Life? HERE), but when considering participating in things that our world wildly celebrates, I think it all boils down to asking ourselves a couple of questions…

Is engaging with this kind of material going to draw me closer to Jesus?  Is it going to make me look more like Him to others (my spouse included)?

I remember a few years ago I was reading a series of books written by a popular Christian author (yes, Christian).  Every storyline involved some sort of radical trial that the main character(s) would suffer (like murder, AIDS, rape, a child’s near drowning).  The stories also portrayed marriage in such a way that seemed unrealistic and fairy tale-ish at times.  But I was so drawn to these books and couldn’t put them down.  It was like an escape for me.

I got so wrapped up in these books that I would find myself INTERCEDING IN PRAYER for the FICTIONAL characters throughout the day!

It was CUH-RAY-ZEE.

However, it didn’t even stop there.  The more I read, the more I was consumed with anxiety that horrible things were going to happen to me (as they did to characters in the stories) and I became discontent in my relationship with my husband because I compared him to the male heroes in my books.

After awhile I finally listened to the Holy Spirit and removed all of the books from my home because they just weren’t helping me with the ultimate goal –

BECOMING MORE LIKE JESUS.

It sounds like a lame example as there weren’t any whips or graphic bedroom scenes in these stories, but I believe my struggle was similar to the woman reading/watching Fifty Shade of Grey.  Our own brokenness/flesh/weakness causes us to easily be disillusioned to what is REAL LIFE and what is GOD’S TRUTH.

God’s Word is full of verses that speak to protect us from things that will ultimately enslave us/lead us into bondage (like that fear I was all tangled up in and the critical eye I was dishing out on the hubs).  It even encourages us to fill our minds with only the things that are excellent, pure, lovely, admirable, and right (Philippians 4:8).  And the Gospel continually sets forth a message of self-sacrificing love that is unconditional, patient, and kind (Philippians 2:3-11).

Often things that aren’t of the Lord typically FEEL really good for a MOMENT, but in the end they will leave you with that never-satisfied hunger for more.  You will find that the momentary pleasure or arousal of a glamorized Hollywood movie will really, when it fades, just make you more aware of the emptiness that we suffer apart from Christ.

Because Christ provides everything we need for a life of joy and love and intimacy so much greater than you could ever read about in a book (other than the Bible) or see on the big screen (read Song of Solomon if you don’t believe me).

So, sweet ladies, this Valentine’s Day weekend, I encourage you to not go see this movie.

Instead, do one of THESE ideas with your husband.  Leave him THESE notes.  Send him one of THESE flirty texts.  God created us for intimacy that is fun and sexy and pure and reflective of His unfailing love for you.

But ultimately, let’s be women who make JESUS the One that captures our hearts, our desires, and our imagination every day in this crazy, down-spiraling world.

And I can tell you with certainty that His kind of love does not include a necktie.

– Julie

“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!  For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.  Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.  Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.” Ephesians 5:8-11

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Julie Brasington is wife of a worship pastor, a preschool teacher, and the creator of Happy Home Fairy, a popular blog focusing on encouraging and equipping moms to choose joy and Jesus on the parenting journey. She shares easy craft ideas, printables, simple recipes, holiday fun, thoughts on raising her 2 awesome boys, trusting God in the midst of poop blow-outs and toddler tantrums, and figuring out if serving scrambled eggs for dinner 4 nights in a row is an acceptable meal plan. Follow her on Facebook HERE, Twitter HERE, and Instagram HERE.

Adorable FREE Printable Valentine (and it’s HEALTHY)

There are so many Raisins why Jesus loves you FREE Printable Valentine at Happy Home Fairy!!I really wanted the boys to hand out Valentines this year that were both healthy and Christ-centered.

And these little yogurt-covered raisins are SO popular with the kids in our preschool (but you can use plain raisins too).

raisins valentinesI thought they came out pretty cute. :-)

Especially that the message is one we ALL need to hear.  Jesus – singing over each of us, counting all the ways He adores us (Zephaniah 3:17).

Would you like the FREE Printable?

There are so many Raisins why Jesus loves you FREE Printable Valentine at Happy Home Fairy!Get it HERE.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Easy Valentine Gift Ideas for the Teacher

Easy Valentine Gift Ideas for Teachers

Happy Baby has extreme sensitivity to light, so anytime I turn the light on in his bedroom in the mornings or whenever we walk outside, he has a really hard time adjusting.

The last couple of days when I have gone outside to get my little man from the pick-up area after school I have found him wearing a pair of sunglasses.

His teacher’s.

She loves him so much she sacrifices her own need to beat the Florida sun beams in order to serve Happy Baby.

That’s Gospel Love right there!

It is only fitting to strive for opportunities to bless the people who bless my children every school day, so here are my favorite, inexpensive, and fun ways to show your child’s teacher some love this Valentine’s Day.

happythoughts21It Takes a Big Heart to Shape Little Minds (Free Printable) – Happy Money Saver

Bag of Chips ValentinesYou’re All That and a Bag of Chips (Free Printable) – My Three Monsters

sm-sock-valentine-2You Knock My Socks Off, Valentine (Free Printable) – The Crafting Chicks

Free-Valentines-Printable-for-TeachersHershey’s Bar Wrapper (Free Printable) – Club Chica Circle

Valentine-for-Teachers-367x500Have a Colorful Valentine’s Day (Free Printable) – My Frugal Adventures

mint“You were MINT to be my teacher!” (attach to box of Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies)- Source

Riesens-Teacher-Gift-Riesens-Why-I-Like-You1‘Riesens’ Why I Like You (Free Printable) – One Creative Mommy

Free-Teachers-Valentines-Day-Card-e1360695836440Thank You ‘A Latte’ for All that You Do (Free Printable) – Jolly Mom

measureYou Measure Up (Free Printable) – Capital B

pinkI’m Tickled Pink That You’re My Teacher (Free Printable) – Homes.com

love_not_germs_2Spread Love, Not Germs (Free Printable) – Simply Sprout

Lip-Balm-Valentines-Day-Gift-4Valentine’s Day EOS Lip Balm Gift (Free Printable) – Tried & True via eighteen25

burts beesBee My Valentine (Free Printable) – Polkadot Chair

Happy Valentine’s Day Teacher Gift-ing! :-)

3 Important Things

This is going to be quick because the hubs and I spent the day cleaning out the garage – a task that almost sent us home to Jesus – so we are laying on the couch and my fingers are pretty much the only thing I can move.

There are a few things I have been enjoying this week and I felt like I needed to share them with y’all.

gloriaThe first is a new book – Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria Furman.

Let me just say that this is the book that I wish I had written.  It is incredible.  I was about 3 pages in and COMPLETELY hooked.  The whole purpose of the book is to transform your perspective of motherhood to one that is entirely focused on Jesus – to see Him in every aspect of your mothering from the waking up 1400 times a night to the endless loads of laundry to even your baby’s cries.

I cannot recommend this book enough.  I think it will be my new go-to baby shower gift.

You can buy it HERE.

bethelThe second thing that I am kind of going crazy about this week is that Bethel came out with a new album and it is…

UNBELIEVABLE.

Seriously, last summer the good people at Bethel Church set up on a mountain top in California and recorded their worship live.  It is beautiful, raw, and will call your heart to a a deeper faith and hope in Christ.

You can buy it HERE.

ValentinesDaySuperfood-Trail-Mix1Lastly, I found this recipe on Pinterest about 3 weeks ago and I sent it to my mom and asked if she would make it for me for my birthday.

Of course, because she is awesome, she did.  It arrived in my mailbox last week and it is one of the most delicious and healthy things I have ever eaten.  I have been snacking on it every day since.

The best part is the dark chocolate.  My mom got some from Whole Foods that was like 86% cacao and eating it was basically the equivalent of being in the presence of the Lord.

Happy Buddy would not agree with that grand statement as he walked into the kitchen the other day, saw me eating said chocolate, and asked for some.  I gave it to him knowing full well that this kind of chocolate was quite different than the Hershey’s bar taste he is used to.  He ate it and then immediately proceeded to throw it up on the kitchen floor saying that it tasted like dirt.

Fine by me.  More for mama.

Find the recipe HERE.

That’s it!

Can anyone else believe that tomorrow is February?  I am not even sure what happened to January – although I have some recollections of being locked out of the house this month – ha!

Speaking of February, don’t forget to check out THIS POST featuring a FREE Printable I made a few years ago to help you countdown to Valentine’s Day with your family!  14 Bible verse cards celebrating God’s love – one to read each day leading up to this special holiday.

Have a great night, Happy Home friends. :-)

– Julie

Sharing Your Family’s Story

sharing your family's story on the walls of your home! love this.I follow this gal on Instagram who has the most gorgeous house.

Every room is so lovely and so simple.

She does not hang ANYTHING on her walls.

When our house got hit with mold damage this summer and we had to repaint some of the main interior rooms, I decided that I wanted to be just like her.

As we took down a bunch of hanging plates and various canvas art that I had been collecting over the years to prep the walls for painting, I told the hubs that he could put away his hammer for good because I was going minimalist.

And when the room had a fresh coat of Benjamin Moore’s Gray Horse I looked around and felt really good about my new… nothing.

For about 48 hours.

After that every time I walked into the living room the walls basically begged me for nail holes.

Not to mention that it was weird hearing our voices echo all the time.

Who was I kidding?  I was never meant to be a minimalist.  Just look in our garage and it will tell you everything you need to know about the truth in that statement.

Besides, some of my favorite homes to visit are the ones where the walls aren’t filled with perfectly coordinated artwork, but rather pictures of family and loved ones.  Of fun times and memories.

There is something so attractive and inspiring about a home that gives you a little window into their story.

Because God is in that.  He is the author, after all.

So I decided to make the walls of our mold-free home tell the story of our own family.
gallery wall 5gallery wall

I started in the center with a photo of our little family on the day we brought Happy Baby home from the hospital.  We were all gathered on the hospital sofa bed waiting for the nurse to discharge us.  After almost 100 days in that place we were so excited at the chance to get home and start our life together as a family of 4.gallery wall 1

To the far left I included the first photo I ever got of our entire family SMILING.  I couldn’t believe it.  Everyone is looking at the camera and appears to be really… happy.  Because usually when it comes to family photos someone is having a nervous breakdown about something (as evidenced HERE and HERE).

Next I printed a photo of Happy Baby when he was about 1 month old and still on oxygen.  It’s a tough picture to look at sometimes because it brings back so many painful memories, but it is a part of our story.  And I can honestly say that his birth and struggles awakened me to a deeper way of living and loving than I ever experienced before.

Then there’s that photo of Happy Baby looking awesome and adorable right before the Lord surprised us with the joy of getting to have his feeding tube removed.photo galleryThe top photo here is my favorite out of all our wedding photos.  I remember wondering if my cheeks were going to explode from all the smiling that was happening that day.  We were so young, so carefree — so skinny. :-)  We had no idea the trials we would face in the years ahead, but we knew we had Jesus and we had each other.  That is all that mattered.

And that bottom photo accurately depicts Happy Baby’s budding sense of humor and that way he daily helps me not take life so seriously.

gallery wall 4

The far right is a family picture a dear photographer friend captured for us.  She gifted us a free photo shoot because she, herself, had been through a NICU experience with one of her babies and felt it was God’s call on her life to serve other NICU families with her gifts.  Thank you, Bobbilee.

The bottom chevron frame is a picture of the Happy Buddy on his first trip to Disney World when he was 6 months old.  We still question why we decided to spend the 14 trillion dollars it took to go there when all he did was look cute for that one photo and then sleep the rest of the time.  And throw up on my favorite shirt while we waited in line at the merry go round.

And of course I had to include a photo of Happy Buddy eating a cookie because that child asks me 1400 times a day if he can have a treat.  I’m so scared he’s going to go off to college and eat nothing but donuts and cake for 4 years.photo gallery 2

That top photo was the one I taped in the Happy Baby’s NICU incubator for him to look at all those many hours we all weren’t able to be there with him.

I love the middle photo of father and son.  We affectionately remember this Easter photo shoot as that time the hubs cut Happy Buddy’s hair and accidentally used a number 2 guard on the hair clippers instead of a number 3.

Finally that bottom photo was one I took on a date night with the hubs a few years ago.  We were in a rough patch in our marriage, but this photo reminds me that we were committed to each other no matter what.  For better or worse.  And we came out of that season with a much better understanding of how to love each other well.

gallery wall 2gallery wall 3

I look at these walls and I see God’s faithful hand graciously woven through each photo – each captured moment from the journey He is writing for us.

And that is way more interesting to me than looking at a whole bunch of nothing.

How do you share your family’s story in your home?

– Julie :-)

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23 (NLT)

*You can find most of the picture frames I used for our gallery wall at Hobby Lobby.

Happy Birthday to Me… And YOU!!! (GIVEAWAY)

verse cardsYesterday I turned 32.

32, y’all.  I can feel my biological clock ticking something fierce.  The other day it took me like 3 full minutes to get out of the position I was sitting in on the floor.  What in the world?  I thought that stuff wasn’t supposed to happen until I was in my eighties?

To celebrate my birthday, I shared on Facebook that the hubs and I went to lunch and we ate an entire pizza in honor of the metabolism I feel is slowing down with every passing day.

Today I am fasting and eating a steak and piece of tomato for dinner – advice from my pastor’s wife. :-)

Just kidding.  I HAVE to eat with this job I’m in.  If I get hungry (which inevitably leads to tiredness and distractedness) while chasing 12 two-year-olds around, they have the power to TAKE ME DOWN.

I was thinking recently how much I love you, dear readers, and how thankful I am that you consider the Fairy something worth visiting.  My heart is always that I would encourage you, make you laugh a little, and point you to Jesus.

And often, YOU are the ones who end up doing that very mission for ME.  Especially when you take the time to comment.

I mentioned HERE that I was going to try to respond to every person that commented on this blog and I did 100% awesome for about 2 weeks.  Then it all kind of fell apart and I went back to not replying because I am an all or nothing kind of gal.

But I still read EVERY SINGLE comment and they never fail to bless me.  My stomach even does a little flippy feeling whenever I see that someone has left a comment on a post.

My friends, Polly and Rachel from one of my favorite sites – Thriving Home – sent me an email the other day offering a fabulous giveaway for y’all!  Do you remember my New Mommy Survival Kit and the beautiful Scripture cards I included?

verse cards 2Well, those cards came from Polly and Rachel and they wanted to make sure that MORE mommies got this precious gift of Truth in their hands, so they are allowing me the opportunity to giveaway 6 sets of cards to 6 different Happy Home Fairy friends!

I decided that for my birthday I wanted to bless my top 5 best/most frequent commenters, so if your name is listed here, check your inbox because I will be sending you an email with all the info you need to download your FREE GIFT printable from Thriving Home and me! :-)

  1. Debbie W.

  2. Francis

  3. Sabrina

  4. Barb I.

  5. Liz L.

Congratulations and thank you, ladies, for always taking the time to uplift me with your thoughts.  I {{heart}} you!

Now, there is still ONE MORE printable encouraging Bible verses for Moms card pack to giveaway…

If you want it, then leave a comment below with your name and email!

And check out this verse from one of the cards…

verse cards 3

It is the LORD who sustains – not an entire pizza.  NOTE TO SELF.

Happy Birthday to me and YOU! :-)

**This giveaway is open to ANYONE!  The giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Saturday, January 31 (EST).  A winner will be selected shortly after and notified by e-mail.**