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I love the big things. The grand entrances. Those special days. Christmas mornings sneaking upstairs to presents that have just appeared overnight. (And now, I have the joy of making them appear for my little one.) The looking forward to a vacation or a day to get away from the typical humdrum of the ordinary. An excuse to bake. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. Signs of the coming fall. Already burning my fall candles, thank you very much. (And yes, my fake pumpkins are gracing my kitchen, much to the chagrin of my hubs, who doesn’t exactly agree with me on when to start decorating for the next season. And yes, when he’s gone in October, we will play Christmas music!)

So this summer, after family budget cuts, I knew I would have to get creative to keep my six year old entertained at home. And after a busy school year of learning and socializing, she was used to more than just her mother attempting to play what she wants to play. (Sometimes fun. Other times, can we say awkward? I get bossed around a lot. Apparently, the way I play is wrong. I keep trying to explain to her exactly how old I am, but she doesn’t understand what that has to do with anything.)

Looking back, this week before school starts, I’m taken back to my blog last March entitled What’s in your house? Basically, in 2 Kings 4:1-7, a widow is in need of money to pay her creditors before they take her sons as slaves. She asks the prophet Elisha for help, and his response to her is, “What’s in your house?”

And from this question, the Craft-tastic Summer of 2012 was born. I’m no Martha Stewart. But I love to read, and Kendall loves art. So I compiled a list of a bunch of books that I had either seen recommended for kids on Pinterest or found myself. Then I searched Pinterest and Google for easy crafts to go with each story. Each craft had to be two things:  cheap and easy.

I didn’t buy any new books just for this summer, thanks to the local library. I did have to request certain ones and wait for them to come in, but I was surprised at how easy it was to get the ones on my list. I ran by the dollar store, Michael’s, or Hobby Lobby every week to grab the supplies for the upcoming crafts after my kid-free gym visit on Sundays so Kendall wouldn’t know which crafts were coming. (She wanted me to keep both the books and the crafts a secret.)

I was surprised by how much we both looked forward to story and craft time each day. It really provided that outlet we needed to be creative and learn and enjoy each other. I had wanted Kendall to realize how much one can do with what’s at home, how quality time has little to do with a lot of new stuff. In a fashion I am finding typical in parenting, I, too, learned this.

Little can be much. Simple can be extravagant. And paint – paint can get messy. Sharpies are, indeed, permanent. Googly eyes are a must-have accessory for most any craft, and they make self-adhesive ones. (Info that would have been useful two months before I actually discovered them!) An hour or two spent turning trash into treasure is time well spent. Making fun out of boredom can be an art, and I would wish for Kendall to be an amazing artist in this with her life. Because joy doesn’t come into us through acquiring more things, but in using what’s been placed inside of us by our all-knowing Creator. He is the master artist, the master author. He sculpts us, writes our stories – from nothing to something.

And in some very, very small way, creating something – whether it’s a story or a craft or a really great meal – makes me feel that much closer to Him. Enjoying what is, anticipating what is to come. Remembering what’s really important – love, family, being used by Him in whatever it is He calls us to do. Even if that happens to be making a tugboat out of cardboard from the recycling bin or making a mini puppet theater out of a tissue box or creating various farm animals out of toilet paper rolls. (Yes, my daughter now tries to bring home random empty toilet paper rolls – for our crafts! – from public restrooms. And no, I don’t let her.)

So for my friends who refuse to get a Facebook account (that includes you, dear Mother!) and haven’t seen them already, I will post our pictures from the summer. May they encourage you to do something creative. Maybe you can’t afford that luxurious trip to Italy, but you can create a fun Italian menu and have family over to enjoy it. You can do something with what God has given you. So I ask again, what’s in your house? What’s in your heart to do? I pray we will hear His voice and know His guidance and let Him use us wherever we are.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead and Erin Stead

Craft:  http://ourcraftsnthings.com/2008/04/turtle-craft/

Blueberries for Sal by Christian Ahrens

Craft: http://pinterest.com/pin/189432728045774773/

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

Craft:  http://delightfullearning.blogspot.com/2010/05/caps-for-sale-tale-of-peddler-some.html

Click Clack Moo:  Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin

Craft:  http://craftsbyamanda.com/2011/04/cardboard-tube-pig-farm-series.html

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett and Ronald Barrett

Craft: http://familycrafts.about.com/od/cookingtheme/ss/spaghettihat.htm

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

Craft:  http://preschoolbookclub.blogspot.com/search/label/Mo%20Willems
Frog Went A-Courting by Wendy Watson

Craft: http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2011/09/easy-paper-plate-frog-craft.html
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Craft:  http://craftingagreenworld.com/2009/02/05/old-broken-crayons-not-anymore/
Henny Penny by Jane Wattenberg

Craft:  http://www.kathyross.com/pdfs/freesample-childrensstories.pdf
How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long and David Shannon

Craft:  http://iheartcraftythings.blogspot.com/2011/06/story-time-tuesday-w-paper-plate-pirate.html
Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

Craft: http://pinterest.com/pin/272186371199142004/

Lilly’s Plastic Purple Purse by Kevin Henkes

Craft:  paint and stamp wooden purse at Michael’s
Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Craft:  our own Little Pea book using a green stamp pad and fingerprints

Little Toot by Hardie Gramatsky

Craft:  http://www.looledo.com/index.php/tugboat-o-trash.html
Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber

Craft:  http://familycrafts.about.com/od/alligatorsandcrocodiles/a/AlligatorClipOnCraft.htm
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Craft: wooden craft blocks painted yellow
Odd Velvet by Mary E. Whitcomb

Craft: painted apple palm prints
On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

Craft:  http://easypreschoolcraft.blogspot.com/2012/01/polar-bear-hand-print-craft.html
Peter and the Wolf by Janet Schulman, Sergei Prokofiev, Peter Malone

Craft:  http://www.easy-child-crafts.com/support-files/wolf-paperbag-puppet-template.pdf
Petunia by Roger DuVoisin

Craft:  http://www.daniellesplace.com/html/DuckCrafts.html#gosling

Porcupining by Lisa Wheeler

Craft:  http://www.preschoolplaybook.com/2009/05/prickly-porcupine.html
Press Here by Herve Tullet

Craft:  http://shareandremember.blogspot.it/2012/04/press-here-book-and-collages.html
Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton

Craft:
http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/kidscraftsactivitiesblog/2011/12/how-to-make-yarn-clothespin-sheep-for-a-nativity-scene/
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

Craft: paper bag
http://lh3.ggpht.com/_WNeca9Q0uPk/TL0XS1e-s3I/AAAAAAAANNE/mucw9fuQNUI/s1600-h/stellaluna2%5B5%5D.jpg
toilet paper roll
http://pinterest.com/pin/233483561900969839/
Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Craft:  http://www.dltk-teach.com/books/rainbowfish/coffeefilter.htm
The Dot by Peter Reynolds

Craft:
http://onecrayolashort.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2010-01-25T17%3A53%3A00-06%3A00&max-results=7
The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle

Craft:  http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/insects/mplateladybug.htm
The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Craft:
http://www.sinkorswimblog.com/2011/09/very-hungry-caterpillar-wall-art.html
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Craft:  http://kidney-garden.blogspot.com/2009/08/cry-y-y-y-ing-over-you.html
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Craft:  http://www.dltk-kids.com/animals/mlionmask.htm
There Was an Old Monster by Rebecca Emberley

Craft:  http://www.momto2poshlildivas.com/2011/11/monster-fun-our-very-own-there-was-old.html
The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese

Craft:  http://pinterest.com/pin/196117758742663218/
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

Craft:  http://springcraftsforpreschoolers.com/craft-ideas/spring-activities-for-toddlers
The Tale of Three Trees retold by Angela Hunt

Craft:  http://pinterest.com/pin/272186371199784515/

Three Billy Goats Gruff by Paul Galdone

Craft:  http://melissaesplin.com/2011/02/guest-post-printable-by-carrie-of-bedtime-tales/
Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco

Craft:  http://pinterest.com/pin/272186371199492020/
Tumford the Terrible by Nancy Tillman

Craft: paint wooden blocks black and add faces
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

Craft:  http://www.firstpalette.com/Craft_themes/Animals/teddybeartote/teddybeartote.html

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Craft:  http://www.makedoandfriend.com/2012/03/where-wild-things-are-tp-roll-puppets.html

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