Tag Archives: #theturquoisetable

A Neighborhood Valentine’s Party

Valentine's Party

This past Saturday I stepped out of my comfort zone and hosted a Valentine’s Party for all the kids in my neighborhood.

Yes I am feeling alright! 😉

As many of you know I have been exploring this idea of how hospitality looks in a practical sense in my own community and since it is too cold outside for the Turquoise Table, I knew that I had to get brave and open my home if I wanted to start before Spring.

So a few weeks ago I sent a message out on our private neighborhood FB group asking if anyone’s kids would even be around and interested in coming if I had a party and to my surprise almost everyone said they wanted to come!!

We have LOTS of kids in our neighborhood. Ranging from ages 1 1/2 to 18! Our final number was 14 kids total which included my 3 youngest! Isn’t that awesome?!

I wanted to keep things fairly simple…I had a few pre-planned activities, but I knew that if I spent all this time planning stations or things to do, that the kids would rather just play…so I went onto Pinterest (The holder of all knowledge of party planning fun) and printed out coloring pages, word finds, word scrambles and Valentines Bingo cards!

The kids colored for a time but then decided to explore the house and play. I knew this was a possibility and was totally fine with it. Depending on your space this may not work for you, but I determined that I wasn’t going to stress about messes made or kids running. This was a 2 1/2 hr opportunity for them to be in a new environment and just have fun.

The kids were amazing. The played and ran and did a Just Dance competition. I think that they all had a great time. There is something about spending time in a new surrounding that is fun!

I planned the party over the lunch hour on purpose. I figured it would give the parents a break and also use up a portion of their time here. I kept things simple here as well, but WAAAAY over planned on the amount of food I needed.

We had pizza and hot dogs, carrots, grapes, Cuties and juice boxes. I bought 2 5lb bags of Cuties and think the kids ate 2 Cuties total. 🙂 Then for dessert I had mini cupcakes and bought these heart shaped sugar cookies from the local store bakery and 2 kids of frosting and sprinkles so that they could decorate their own cookie.

After lunch we played Bingo and I think that was a hit for everyone! I hadn’t gotten prizes but we had some mini candy bars left over from the treat cups in the cupboard. If someone got a Bingo, they got a treat. At one point we had 4 or 5 Bingo’s – I totally recommend that because kids of all ages can play!

Finally towards the end of the party one of the kids spotted our Elf on the Shelf movie (of all things!) and asked if they could watch it. So for 22 minutes the house was quiet as everyone piled into the living room to watch a show!

I got balloons for everyone at our local Dollar Tree and used those to decorate the kitchen, and everyone got to take one home. I also made treat cups as well.

Valentine's Treat Cups

We don’t thrown big parties for the kids on their birthdays. Honestly they have so much stuff already, and the gifts they get from us and their grandparents…it is enough. At a birthday party everyone expects to bring a gift…this type of party was so much fun and it takes the pressure off of the parents having to scramble to find something for a gift that my kids don’t need anyway!

I would host this type of party again in a heartbeat!

Clean up was pretty fast because we had used paper plates and napkins and a plastic Valentine’s table cover. We just gathered everything up and threw it out! And my kids LOVED being able to have all their friends over….they are still talking about it.

Gabriel’s only complaint was that it wasn’t long enough!

I know that opening your home can be scary…especially with adults right!?! So why not start off with a kids party?! It is a great way to meet the kids your own children spend time with and an unexpected treat in the middle of a cold cold winter!

Have you ever hosted a neighborhood party?! I’d love to hear about it and get ideas for future events!

Neighboring Well

ArtOfNeighboring

It was clear that she was “new”. As a new dance mom myself and just a few months into the routine, I could tell that she was attending drop off for the first time. I raised 3 boys before we had a chance to welcome a girl into our family, so this dance mom thing is new territory for me.

And can I just say it is a bit intimidating.

Maybe it is just women in general, we can come off as illusive and unapproachable. I do the same, I make myself busy with my phone so that I don’t have to make conversation with a “stranger.”

As an introvert and shy to boot, it is work for me to join a conversation, to make friends.

It isn’t comfortable, it never is, but I am learning that sometimes God calls us to step out of our comfort zones and do something different.

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My friend Kristin Schell is doing that with her #theturquoisetable movement.  I love this idea and can’t wait to get a table this spring. Recently she told me about another book that captures this idea of neighboring well.

The Art of Neighboring arrived at my door yesterday and I started reading it as I was getting ready this morning. If I didn’t have to be at work, I would be on the couch reading this. I had flagged pages and underlined in the Foreword. Oh it is going to be good.

“I am convinced that living in close community with our neighbors is the best way to live. The command to love our neighbors lies at the core of God’s plan for our lives, and when we follow this mandate, it changes everything. The journey begins when we choose a lifestyle of conversation and community over a lifestyle of busyness and accumulation. It’s about making room for life and choosing to befriend those God has placed around us.” p11

So often we make assumptions about people. We wave and smile as we drive down our neighborhoods, but it doesn’t go beyond that. And when we haven’t taken the time to really get to know someone, we assume we know what happens in their homes. Good, bad or otherwise…we don’t really know.

“Perhaps we’d find that the people on our block are normal people just like us. They go to work, hang out with their kids, and put their pants on one leg at a time. At the end of the day, they long for a place to belong, a place to be accepted and cared for. They want to do something significant with their lives, something that really matters. What good things might happen if you truly got to know the people in your neighborhood and they got to know you?” p18

These words put a lump in my throat.

If there are people in my neighborhood that are looking for a place to belong, and I can do something about it – what is stopping me? As a believer in Jesus, isn’t this my calling?

Love your neighbor as yourself.

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I am telling you that this isn’t going to be easy for me. My heart beats fast at considering hitting publish to these words, knowing that my neighbors may read them…people in my church. I don’t want to be someone who talks the talk and is afraid to walk the scary road ahead of me.

But this idea of better community, or neighboring well is hitting me on all sides and I can’t ignore it or assume that someone else will do the hard work.

So once again, with knees knocking, I step forward willing to let God use me. (<====Click to Tweet)

As I headed back to the dance studio to pick up my girl, I saw the new mom waiting…phone in hand, scrolling, because it is what we do.

And I turned and said hello, asked if they were new to Marshall, or just new to dance? They had just moved here for a job, new community and new people. Another mom joined the conversation and she also has been here only 2 years “And I don’t know anyone.”

I want that to change! So in a few minutes we stopped and share “newbie” stories and next week maybe that conversation can continue.

We don’t have to do this alone, we shouldn’t do this alone.

It will likely be baby steps for me, but they will be steps forward, to learning the art of neighboring, and neighboring well.

Will you join me?

Photo Credit: From The Art of Neighboring

We All Need a Little of That!

Community

As many of you know just a little over a week ago I was surprised with a getaway birthday weekend to Houston. It was a weekend filled with love from my friends and family.

While Gindi and I shared a delicious BBQ chicken pizza from California Pizza Kitchen (which by the way was YUM!!), we talked about this idea of community. On FB the night I found out about my surprise I posted a picture of my letter and this comment “To say that I am floored and overwhelmed and crazy excited all at once is an understatement….not exactly sure where I am headed on Saturday but the “three birthday bandits” have completely surprised me!”

130 people liked that post and I had over 40 comments…

I don’t say that to brag, it is a reflection of how much something like this would mean to so many people.

“Best present ever!!”, “I want to get kidnapped”, So fun, can’t wait to hear about it”…and on and on.

People, women especially, long for this type of community.

Maybe we don’t say it or admit it…but it is true. We love to feel loved. (<====Click to Tweet)

I think it is in our nature, it is how we were made. I know so many women who love big and love well. But this experience for me was proof that we all have a secret wish that someone would love on us in a HUGE way like I was.

And I don’t want it to end with me.

I realize that many of us might not be able to plan such an elaborate surprise like I received…but as Gindi and I talked I was challenged to think of ways that I might be able to love on others well, here in my own front yard.

Because we all need a little more of that, don’t we?

Of community, friendship, lavish and unconditional love?

This may mean that we have to step out in faith…and what if it isn’t well received? What if we put a Turquoise Table in the front yard in April, invite our neighbors over, and no one comes?

It could happen.

It probably won’t, but there is that risk.

But you know, I have found that by being willing to take the risk, the crazy leaps of faith…that I have been given back so much in return.

If I hadn’t been willing to open my heart to the idea of online friendships…well last weekend would have never happened. And what a blessing that was in my life.

I hope you can understand that I face these challenges with the same fear that I expect many of you are facing. We are in this together!!

That is why I felt like it was so important to write about this today. I often make decisions based on fear, especially fear of the unknown.

But when we see a need – how can we NOT respond?! Maybe your response isn’t with a surprise trip, but instead a call to a friend for a lunch date. A card in the mail to a neighbor or introducing yourself to a “stranger” at church.

The act itself doesn’t have to be monumental, but I am seeing that the small things can become monumental if we are invested in and working at community. (<====Click to Tweet)

So I come here willing. Prayerfully considering how this looks in my own life and open to being pushed to where I may feel uncomfortable…because if I can be the hands and feet of Christ here…who knows what might happen!

Photo Credit: Niall Kennedy

Dear Dominic, We Are Getting a Turquoise Table!

turquoise picnic table

Dear Dominic,

Can I first start by just telling you once again how grateful that I am that you helped arrange my birthday trip. What a gift it was. Especially when you got to have several days full of “barf duty”…I am so sorry about that!! That being said…there is something that I want you to know….

We are getting a Turquoise Table.

I know that when I came back from Allume and told you all about this turquoise table idea, you thought that I was a little crazy.

You may be right, but you know….I am ok with that! 😉

I am crazy, but I want to create a better environment of community in our neighborhood. We have wonderful neighbors, we really do. But the reality is we don’t ever really take time to spend time with them.

We have an annual block party, which is awesome…but I am craving more. More for us, more fun for our kids. I want them to grow up craving community as well. To learn the art of hospitality…even if it starts in our front yard.

I realize that logistically we don’t live in a place that can accommodate a turquoise table year round. But my hope is that if we try this…try and encourage and build community in our own front yard, that even in the winter we might desire to find ways to gather together inside.

That is my prayer with this idea.

The good news is that we now have a truck that can get the $98 table from Lowes in Brookings, to our front yard. And conveniently enough I have almost a full gallon of paint left from our toy room redo! Woot for keeping the costs down! 😉

So there it is Dominic.

In my mind I have pictures of the kids from the neighborhood gathering at the table. I am taking ideas from Gindi’s events and hoping that we can invite our neighbors once a month to our yard for treats and conversation.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate or fancy, doesn’t have to cost too much money…but if we make the effort I think that we might see something blossom. These are my wild ideas and big dreams.

It is wonderful that I have met such amazing people online. But I am now challenged to try to build and strengthen relationships in our own community.

I believe it is possible and maybe a turquoise table in the front yard is crazy enough to make it happen!

Thank you for loving me even when I have crazy ideas…I am hoping that you will come to enjoy the turquoise table idea as much as I already do!

And now I cannot wait for April to come, snow to melt and the painting to commence!!

Love, Your Dreamer Wife

Photo Credit: Shabby Old Potting Shed

 

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