A Back to School Tea

A few weeks ago Emily hosted a tea for the 9th through 12th grade girls. I didn’t have to do much but talk through the planning stuff and then she pretty much handled everything else. She enlisted the other sophomore girls to help with the food after deciding on the menu, she wrote out all of the invitations, and figured out the decorations.

Originally she was thinking something along the lines of a vintage chic look with old books and paper flowers. But in the process of looking at proper table setting ideas we came up with an idea that changed the direction but she pulled it off beautifully.

Instead of using place cards to seat the girls in a way that would encourage the girls to mix and mingle she made them all a name plate. Since she would need to use Sharpie pens and they only come in certain colors she nixed the vintage look and the plates became a charger with a clear glass plate on top for eating. The girls each got to take their plate home with them as a gift.



She added some bright colored flowers to the table and kept things simple but quite lovely.

The idea for using Sharpies on plates is all over Pinterest but I’ve never seen anything like this. It took her a little over a week to make the plates which were 88 cents each from Walmart. The really fun thing to me is how adaptable this is. Can you imagine the holiday plates you could do? A bridal shower with monograms or using paper plates for a kid’s party with clear plastic plates on top? So fun!

This one sat on the front porch with a bouquet of flowers to welcome the girls.


Pinterest Test Kitchen # 65 ~ An Apple A Day

Right now is the beginning of my favorite time of year. Like the very first threads of light dawning across the sky herald a new day, the kids getting ready to go back to school announce the coming of Autumn. 

I start to feel a sense of anticipation and I can almost feel a crispness in the air. I day dream about opening my windows and seeing the leaves start changing colors. I love the feel of fall…the smells and colors. Just love it.
Of course this also means that we are smack in the middle of getting ready to start school. I love the school my kids attend but I sure will miss having them home with me. It’s still a little new to me not having kids home during the day. When Sam started last year after being homeschooled the longest it was the first time in eighteen years I didn’t a child with me.  With my sudden childless state last year I found myself being a little indiscriminate with my time, and coupled with Sarah being a senior, found myself a little over extended. This year I am committed to being more productive and purposeful with my time. I’d rather do less and do it well than do a lot and feel utterly frazzled so that it all suffers.
One thing I want to do this year is be more intentional in showing my appreciation and care for the teachers of our school as a whole, and of course my kid’s teachers specifically. To that end I found a nifty little welcome back treat on pinterest to make as they began their teacher training.
welcome back teacher gifts
These little guys weren’t hard to make…just labor intensive and a little pricey if you are making a bunch. Thankfully, a friend and I did it together to offset the cost. I used a variety of apples since my grocery store didn’t have enough granny smiths.  
I don’t have a recipe per se for these but they are pretty self explanatory.  I tried a few different recipes for homemade caramel sauce before I just settled in unwrapping several bags of Kraft’s caramels and melted them with some heavy whipping cream. (You can find the recipe here.)
However because I love food photography and the light in my kitchen is fabulous I do have lots of pictures 🙂
caramels, candy, homemade caramel sauce
homemade kraft caramel sauce
We used the cute little four ounce canning jars…just the right amount for generous single servings. And may I just say that I think raffia ribbon is a pseudonym for hair of the devil? It sure adds a nice touch but man is it a pain to work with!
They bagged up nice though and I was pleased with how they looked. This would make a great back to school gift your child’s teacher or even the whole class.
apples with caramel dipping sauce
Whether or not you make this or something else, I hope you take the time this year to let your child’s teacher know how much you appreciate them and the work they do.

Sam’s World ~ A New Change

And boy is it a major change!

We’ve always wished Sam could more fully experience the community of Trinitas. It’s an amazing place and we have been blessed immeasurably by the staff,  teachers and families that have been in our lives for the past five and a half years.

Just about everybody knows Sam. He pours over the year books and memorizes the kids in his sisters’ classes. There is an overlap of families from school that are members of our church. He got to be water boy at one of the soccer games last year. He made special character drawings for last year’s drama cast.

But it’s always been from a distance – always as something of an outsider – someone different who could see

and hear and be a part on some level but not completely fit in. We’ve long known that in the early years of education, the grammar stage, that Sam would respond well to the repetition and structure that a classical model offers. But we’ve also known that it would take something extra, something more, to enable Sam to be a part of the school completely.

There have been conversations back and forth over the years about how to incorporate special needs kids at the school. The desire has been there on everyone’s part to somehow make this way of education – of being – accessible to all kids. How to make that happen has always been the problem with no clear easy solution. At this moment the solution still isn’t crystal clear but the pieces are beginning to come together.

So Samuel will, for the first time in his life, be going to school this year.

I am by turns excited and terrified. Ever since Rob told me that it was seriously being considered for this school year I’ve had that feeling you get when you stand a little to close to a high ledge – like a thousand nervous butterflies have taken residence in your stomach.

We’re making ourselves, our son, more vulnerable than any of us have ever been. And it’s hard. Harder than I ever expected it to be, maybe because I never really expected I’d have to. And these aren’t just any people…these are our people…our friends…our brothers and sisters. They are the community that has helped us, strengthened us, and encouraged us.  I can’t image a group of people more loving and devoted to seeing Sam grown and learn.

It’s an avalanche of emotion – excitement for what this means for him, a certain amount of fear for me in the letting go – and the overwhelming sense of goodness that God is graciously doing more than I could have ever asked for or imagined.

If you’d like to read any of the early post I’ve written about our journey with Sam and autism just type the words Sam’s World into the “search this blog” box and it will bring them up for you.

The Field Trip

It wasn’t really that big of a deal. A quick trip to the local Publix store down the road to wrap up their study on nutrition. But the first words out of her mouth yesterday morning were, “Mommy, can you go with me?”

See, last year in K4 was the big field trip…her first one ever. It was to a strawberry picking farm and she could barely wait for us to go. She was buckled into a classmate’s car and we were about to pull into the caravan and leave when an entire cup of  French vanilla creamer mixed with a little bit of coffee sloshed down into my shoes and puddled on my lap. No way could I continue on with them right then; nor could I head home, shower, and change and meet up with them…our house lay in one direction and the strawberry farm lay in the other.

I missed my baby’s first field trip.

So when that sweet little face looked up at me yesterday morning and asked if I could please go with her class I mentally rearranged my plans and went with her. To a grocery store of all places. But it was fun to watch her class charm the workers, pet Larry the Lobster, and explore the behind the scenes nook and crannies that we normally never have access to.

I’m so happy I went with her!

Sharing with Photo Story Friday, 1440, and Paula’s No Rules Blog Party.

For Sale Saturday

Each week I will be sharing one of my images available as a card or print. All proceeds will benefit our school’s Jr/Sr trip to New York in the spring.

The card is printed directly onto sturdy fade resistant  5×7 card stock and comes with a white envelope.

On the inside top of the card Psalm 29:11 is printed in elegant script leaving the bottom half of the card blank for your personal message.

$3.00 each or
$5.00 for two

Print sizes available:
4×6      $7
5×7      $10
8×10    $12
Larger prints available upon request.

I still have a few cards left from last week so let me know if you want the perfect thanksgiving card!

To place order email me at whatmartysees@gmail.com or leave a comment.

Best Shot Friday

Sometimes when I’ve had a heavy shooting schedule and lots of editing I have to walk away from the camera for a few days. This usually happens after a wedding or other large event. Other times I’m shooting a lot but it’s different people or locations so it’s not as much of an issue…I just need to look at something else…shoot something else to feel refreshed. This may explain random pictures on my flickr stream of eggs and other such stuff.

And it’s also how I ended up in my daughters’ room shooting a picture of her basket of yarn and knitting supplies for this weeks’ best shot Friday. I love it.
I volunteered my time to do a mini session fundraiser at my children’s school to raise money for the Jr/Sr trip to New York in the spring. It was a success and I got some really great images (it amazes me at how many good pictures can be captured in 30 minutes!) I think all told there were six or seven families that participated and if there is enough interest I would certainly do it again. I had a great time doing it. 
Here are a couple of pictures from the first family that signed up. I love this first shot…so sweet to see the fun between the brothers and their sister.

It was a great start to a weekend of picture taking don’t you think?
Linking up at Photo Story Friday and Best Shot Friday and 1440.

Back at School

Yesterday was our first day back at school. If you can call it that. We sort of ease into the new year with a three hour orientation followed by a long weekend.

Sarah is starting her Jr year.  Even though next year she will have to write, present and defend a thesis, this is considered the hardest year at Trinitas. Emily has officially left the grammar stage and as a 7th grader has entered the logic phase. Abby is in 4th which begins a new era in school life where much more independence is required. This will be an interesting year for her. Abby is, how can I say it…somewhat scatterbrained loose in her thinking so some maturing will be in order. But she is smart so I have no doubt she’ll be fine. Claire is in K5 and is super excited to be going back to school. There is something rather poignant about my last child heading into kindergarten. (Yes, I know she did the whole K4 thing last year but this is different. K4 was optional and now there is no turning back.)

I started making a quilt a few weeks back and I learned a couple of things. One, the idea of sewing a quilt is much more romantic in my head than the actual reality of sewing a quilt. It’s work. Two, bobbins are the devil’s plaything. Three, my attention span is pretty short. So what was originally supposed to be a big comfy wrap up in and read a good book on a rainy day quilt turned into a I’d like to be finished so Claire now has a handmade napping blanket for school. My binding got a little wonky, as did some of my lines, but she doesn’t care. All she knows is that Momma made her a blanket. (I’ll probably do the whole quilt thing again despite reasons one, two and three. There is something about the colors and piecing together that draws me.)

So, yesterday was the girls orientation and last night was parent orientation. And get this. Rob goes every year and I stay home. I’ve always thought he had to be there because he is a board member. But it turns out he isn’t there as a board member…just as a parent. I found that to be really sweet of him. Of course he does bring home a huge packet of paperwork that has to be filled out and hands it to me. I think he may consider it an even swap. Every year I vow not to wait until the last minute to get all the forms filled out but I’m not very good at keeping that promise to myself. We’ll have to see if this year is any different.

It will be good to get back into the swing of things although I will miss having all my chicks home. I’m not one of those mom’s that can’t wait for her kids to get back into school. I like my kids and I enjoy their company. And we have worked pretty hard over the years to make sure they enjoy each other’s company. Plus I think having a pool helped 🙂

Sam and I will start his schooling on Tuesday when the girls go back. I have some neat things in mind for him

but honestly, I still haven’t figured out what to use for his math yet. One thing that he is excited about is that we are turning over Sam’s Family to him. We decided that it would be a great tool for his grammar and writing skills. And, for the first time Sam will do the boni libri program that the girls do each year.

Boni Libri is Latin for good book and is the reading program at the school They receive a reading medal at the end of the year for tracking at least six hundred minutes of reading a month. I am combining Sam’s with Book Adventure to motivate him a little more. I used the school’s suggested reading list and made sure they are on the site for him to quiz.

It is going to be a good year.