Non-Edible Easter Basket Ideas

Non-Edible Easter Basket Ideas for Toddlers

It’s crazy to me to think that Easter is right around the corner and I’m beyond excited. Maybe more excited than I was for Christmas. You see, Chris’ family has this huge tradition of Christmas stockings. Now that Addison is part of our family, Chris gets a lot of joy from passing the Christmas stocking tradition on. Because of that, I don’t really contribute to that part of the holiday. He plots and plans what he’s going to sneak into her stocking and I can tell he is so proud. This past year was particularly fun because Addison was old enough to participate. She would get excited, open presents, and loved reaching into her stocking to find something new.

The Easter basket is like the Christmas stocking of Spring. And I’ve taken the responsibility of planning out what’s going to go into the basket and the rest of the Easter festivities. I know for sure I’m going to do an egg hunt in the front yard. I can already picture Addison’s face when she discovers that the eggs are filled with gummy snacks and candy. (On a real note, my kid has an incredibly unhealthy obsession with gummy snacks. She wakes up and it’s one of the first things she asks for). So because she’s going to be overloaded on sweets during the egg hunt, I want to fill the Easter basket with non-edible items. I’m trying to slowly switch over Addison’s toys to ones that are made out of more natural materials.

Non-Edible Easter Basket Ideas for Toddlers // Those Crazy Sorokas

For basket filler, I chose to use a playsilk because I wanted every part of Addison’s basket to be something fun. There are a lot of different playsilks that you can find online but I ended up purchasing from Sarah’s Silks which is family-owned USA based company. The silk is so soft and I know that Addison is going to be using this constantly (probably going to be a blanket for her baby doll).

Non-Edible Easter Basket Ideas for Toddlers // Those Crazy Sorokas

Non-Edible Easter Basket Ideas for Toddlers // Those Crazy Sorokas

Non-Edible Easter Basket Ideas for Toddlers // Those Crazy Sorokas

Books are an easy gift basket idea. Elmo is my daughter’s favorite tv character and she will beg to watch the Letter and Number of the Day on youtube, so the Bunny Hop by Sarah Albee is going to make her flip out. I chose the book Spring by Gerda Muller, mostly because I loved the illustrations. I already know I’m going to buy the other three books in her seasons series because they are just so beautiful to look at.

Non-Edible Easter Basket Ideas for Toddlers // Those Crazy Sorokas
Holztiger is a toy brand that I’m obsessed with. Like Gerda Muller’s books, I think they are so beautiful to look at. I’m trying to grow a collections of the Holztiger figurines for Addison. She already has a grizzly bear, panda, cat, and dog. I chose the bunny for obvious reasons and then the chameleon because it was the closet thing I could find to match Puff, our bearded dragon. I’d love for her to have a some farm and ocean animals as well but because Holztiger figurines are handcrafted and hand painted with nontoxic materials, they’re more expensive than the plastic animals you find at Target. I definitely think the price is worth the product though.

Non-Edible Easter Basket Ideas for Toddlers // Those Crazy Sorokas
Last but not least, the felt carrots. I bought mine from the dollar section at Target but I’m sure you can find an etsy seller that makes them. I thought they would look nice with her basket and she could use them with the pots and pans my mom bought her for Christmas this past year.

And that’s everything! I just wanted to share with you what I came up with to put into the basket. Next year I might add bubbles and chalk. If you have any other ideas, leave them in the comments section so that I can take notes for next year!

Sarah’s Silks Rainbow Playsilk // Holztiger Chameleon // Holztiger Bunny // Felt Carrots (Target Dollar Section) // The Bunny Hop (Sesame Street) by Sarah Albee  // Spring by Gerda Muller

It’s An Honor.

Those Crazy Sorokas // Addison Graduates to Toddler Seat

Those Crazy Sorokas // Addison Graduates to Toddler Seat

Whenever I look Addison, I’m continually amazed that such a beautiful being emerged from my body almost two years ago. Her devilish grin and contagious laughter is the fuel to be a better parent each and every day. But some days when I look at her, that toothy smile strikes a different cord in my heart.

In light of our new president entering the office, protests, and recent world news, some fear has started to settle into my spirit. I look at my daughter and am afraid for her and what her future will look like. I’m scared of circumstances that are beyond my control. My daughter, who’s spirit is fierce, is naive to the pain and fear that is muddying our media. I look at her and wonder what the world will be like when she finishes school. Will her spirit be as unrelenting as it is now or will the world try to bring her down with it?

Tonight while Addison and I shared our favorite mango sorbet with strawberry bobas, I had this realization that I could be sharing my sorbet with a future president, activist, manager, scientist, professional athlete, doctor, or evangelist. The tiny fingers scooping bright pinks bobas out of the cup could one day be writing life changing documents. She has the potential to be an influencer and leader.

This realization, though it seems obvious, sank into my heart in a different way. No matter where Addison ends up, I have the privilege and responsibility to raise her in a way that sets herself up for success. The characteristics that I want her to carry into her future, are ones that I should be living out as her parent. I want my daughter to stand up for what’s right, even in the face of adversity. I want her to be unrelenting when it comes to righting the wrongs around her. It’s her responsibility to care for those who can’t care for themselves. It’s her responsibility to be kind and loving to all people despite the differences she has with them. And it’s my responsibility to teach her.

I usually view myself in a darker light. I try to be a good person but often feel like I’m failing. I feel like my flaws are constantly in the spotlight. I know in my head these things are not true but I can’t help to fear that Addison will pick up on all the negativity rather than the positive. And when you know you have a future leader sitting next to you (that may or may not be smashing crackers and feeding them to her canine counterparts), it adds a little bit of pressure into the mix!

If you are a parent, remember that you have the most important job in the world. You have the power to shape history by shaping your children and it is the greatest privilege. Remember that if you feel like you’re doing a bad job but are trying your best to do right by your children, then you are doing a good job and are a great parent. Don’t let life bring you down. You rock!

True Compassion: Where Do You Stand?

Last night we continued our series on #Struggles by Greg Groeschel and we read from Luke 10:25-37.

Social media has become a major player in the way we communicate and interact. For a lot of us, it is the only way we communicate with others. Sure, it has its pros but it also has had a negative impact on our communication and that negativity is seeping into our hearts.

Social media has given us the ability to tell others that we care without us actually having to care. You can easily like a photo of a baby but not really even think anything of the baby. It’s almost if you’re liking out of habit rather than love or concern.

Not only that but the ability to share or repost information is at the tips of our fingers. Did you hear about the school bus crashing and killing several children? Did it even phase you or did you scroll past it along with the Thanksgiving recipes from Martha Stewart? We have become desensitized to horrors of our world because it is in our face every moment of every day. Murder? Normal. Discrimination? Normal. Injustice? Normal.

But here’s the thing, these issues, even if they are frequently happening, should not be normal in the sense that it goes in one ear and out the other. True Christians, people who follow Christ and model their lives after Him, should be moved with compassion for the problems and injustices in the world. God saw you in your grief and He was moved with compassion to reach out and save you. God had a passion for you that was so overwhelming that He sent his only Son to die. And once you’re saved, that’s not the end of the story. God commands of you to pass the baton.

Maybe you’re feeling like there’s nothing that you’re passionate about. You see the news and the people around you and you feel nothing. Well, that is a symptom of serious problem! If there is not a single thing that you feel compassion for, you might want to reevaluate if you truly love God with all your passion/heart, prayer/soul, muscle/strength, and intelligence/mind. Ask God to open your heart and eyes to see what He sees.

We live in a world where we are trained to look out for number one, ourselves. Everything is centered around us and how we look to those who are watching. Every volunteer position or job applied for is strategic so that you can look the most well rounded or the most focused. Even our good deeds seem to only have the purpose to give us a good feeling. Nonprofit marketing suggests that when you’re campaigning for funds to make sure you let the people know what they are gaining by donating to the homeless children in the inner city. It all is ultimately self-centered and shallow.

But when we encounter Jesus? Well, that changes things. We realize that we have to die to ourselves and to put God first. But if we were to be honest, we would say that even if we do put God first, we’re a close second. We start to wade through the waters of Christianity and discover who God is and who we are in Christ. Until you realize those things, it’s hard to understand love or how to love, at least it was for me. Before I knew who I was in Christ, it didn’t matter how many “I love yous” or “you look great” that I heard, I didn’t know how to receive it or even give it back. I was broken. If I couldn’t love myself, I definitely couldn’t love anyone else. But you have to love yourself in order to properly love others. The Bible commands to “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” We are all on an equal playing field. I am not better than you. You are not better than me. You have value, I have value. We have to start put those facts into practice.

The awesome thing about developing a relationship with Christ is how you grow and blossom. Slowly as you accept who God is, what He’s done for you, and who you are in Christ, He starts to give you a true passion for the people around you. You start to notice the homeless people that you drive by every single day or your coworker’s change in demeanor. You see a child without a family and your heart breaks. You become more aware and God begins to call you to give your time, money, or listening ear.

You once just scrolled past pain and now… you can’t. God starts calling you to step out into what’s messy and involved. He starts telling you to invest in people’s lives. He starts to tell you that it is not enough to love people from afar. You can’t just like posts or send happy birthday messages in a facebook chat. You’re going to have to stick around when the going gets tough. Your compassion has to persevere when the good feeling goes away. You begin to realize that God has called us to a type of compassion that interrupts, costs, and changes lives.

Jesus is our ultimate example. He lived a life that was always God first, others second, and Himself third. He lived a life of compassion. He responded to the people who interrupted His life and made it messy. That is our goal as Christians. Look into your life. Can you honestly say that you live a life that invests into others and is of true compassion? Or is your lack of compassion standing between your coworkers/friends/family and their salvation?

Finish Strong: Week 7 – Wisdom

Previous post recaps:
James 1:1-12 (Facing Trials with Joy)
James 1:13-18 (Overcoming Sin)
James 1:19-27 (Listen with Humility)
James 2:1-13 (Favoritism)

James 3:13-18 “Are any of you wise or sensible? Then show it by living right and by being humble and wise in everything you do. But if your heart is full of bitter jealousy and selfishness, don’t brag or lie to cover up the truth.  That kind of wisdom doesn’t come from above. It is earthly and selfish and comes from the devil himself.  Whenever people are jealous or selfish, they cause trouble and do all sorts of cruel things.  But the wisdom that comes from above leads us to be pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere.  When peacemakers plant seeds of peace, they will harvest justice.”

We are continuing our study of James. It is week 7 of this study, so don’t lose steam! Continue to press into the Word and see what God has in store for you! The verses that we discussed at the Venue this week were James 3:13-18 which talks about wisdom. Wisdom is one of those things that everyone needs but few seem to ask for.

Since we live in the world, it can be difficult to differentiate between “good” worldly wisdom and godly wisdom. How can we tell? The great thing about God and His Word is that it will never change and never contradict itself. Verse 17 provides a standard. Was the wisdom you were given pure and lacks selfish motives? Is it gentle and aware of other people’s feelings? Is it genuine, heartfelt, and sincere? If you can say no to anything on the list or it does not line up from God’s Word, it is not godly wisdom! Another way to see if the wisdom comes from God or man is by who gets the credit in the end. Godly wisdom will always point to God. It will never point to man.  A third way to tell if a person in your life is a godly source of wisdom is to look at their life. “True wisdom is authenticated though the process of time.” A true godly  source will live a life that points to Jesus and they will produce fruits that are only given by God. They will not have one foot in the world and the other in the church.

The verse that seemed to stick out to most people was verse 18 which says, “Peacemakers who plant seeds in peace, they will harvest justice.” This is a pretty hot topic. We live in a world that is constantly seeking peace and justice. We see injustice and violence every single day and it can be depressing to even turn on the tv. Everyone has their own answer to all the injustice in the word. Everyone believes that they have the wisest answer to deal with the world’s turmoil.

Just yesterday a man was shot in the street by police officers. Public response was to break out in violent protest that left two dozen people injured. People like to misquote Levitucus 24:19-21 in situations like this. “Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury. Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a human being is to be put to death.” But we seem to forget when Jesus says in Matthew 5:38-42, ““You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

Now, Jesus isn’t nullifying the Old Testament law. He’s clarifying the fact that the average person does not have the authority to judge others for their wrong doings. It is not your job to take matters into your own hands. Jesus preached to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Judges are to be impartial and to have pure motives. If someone has done you wrong, your motives are tarnished and what you claim is justice, is actually revenge.

If you seek peace, God is our peace. Spend time in His presence and you will produce seeds of peace. You may not see the results in a minute, today, or even tomorrow. You must be patient with every step. Pastor Juan pointed out that the text is plural when it mentions the seed. You can’t just plant once. You have to continue to plant every season of your life. You have to continue to wait. “You can’t see a harvest in a place that you are not faithful.”

If there’s an area of your life that you are lacking wisdom, it is not a lost cause. You can make wise choices in every area of your life. We broke it into a 3 step process. Find where you are and make a change today!

1. Realize & admit that you need God’s wisdom in every area of your life. In order to correct a problem, you have to admit there is one.

2. Be where there is godly wisdom and surround yourself with people who have godly wisdom. We’ve talked about this a bit in the previous weeks. Your environment shapes your outcome. Don’t expect to find godly wisdom from people who’s lives don’t point to God.

3. Be patient with yourself. When you begin to walk in wisdom, you will be parting from a lifestyle choice that you have made for years. It may be more difficult than you think. But remember, seeds take time to grow. If doesn’t blossom as soon as you plant, it doesn’t mean the seed is dead but rather that it is still fueling and nurturing growth.

I hope this study is blessing you and that God is revolutionizing your walk with him. We hope that you will join us every Tuesday night at the Venue to discuss what God is doing in our lives today!

Finish Strong: Week 4 – Favoritism

If you are behind, it’s not too late to catch up! See previous posts below:

James 1:1-12 (Facing Trials with Joy)
James 1:13-18 (Overcoming Sin)
James 1:19-27 (Listen with Humility)

James 2:1-13 “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

This week we talked about a topic that everyone has dealt with in one way or another: favoritism. I know in my life, I have showed favoritism but I’ve also been negatively affected by it. What stood out to a lot of people is the fact that to God, favoritism is a serious sin. We try to polish it up and make excuses for why we didn’t help out coworker or why we only hang out with a certain group of people and ignore the loners. But James says that it doesn’t matter which rule you break, at the end of the day, you still sinned. As Pastor Juan said, “you can give a pig a bath but it is still a pig!”

A lot of our behavior is learned. Maybe we got hurt, so now we push certain people away. Maybe we desire attention and validation from our parents or boss, so we treat them like gods and then backstab or ignore the people around us. Maybe we lock our doors when certain people walk by because we see stories on the news. Or maybe we are just being selfish and looking out for our own interests. But this is a mindset that needs to be broken. When you read the Bible, you don’t see Jesus doing any of those things. Jesus is the perfect example of love and kindness. As Christians, we need to be consistently working so our life is one that emulates His. If you’re not treating others with love and respect, maybe you haven’t fully encountered or understand God’s love. God’s love is one that reaches out to those who are completely different.

Think about yourself. You are a sinner and God, because He is so pure, can’t be associated or in the presence of sin. Instead of ignoring us and thinking that we are too far gone, He made a way so that He could be with us. He made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could experience freedom. So how are you showing that kind of love and sacrifice in your daily life? Who are you blessing that can’t return the favor?

Favoritism keeps us from being more like Christ. It keeps the lost in the dark and from experiencing God’s love. When we love some and not others, we are devaluing God’s creation. It’s saying that some people are worth your time and energy, while others aren’t. Honestly, how degrading is that? God has made every person with unique gifts and has made them in His image. When you show favoritism, you are missing out on a part of Him and in the end, it is ultimately your loss.

On the flipside, how many of us have been negatively affected by favoritism and what do we do when that does happen to us?

1. Clear your head.
2. Know your identity in Christ
3. Understand who gives you fulfillment

If you don’t have a solid foundation of your identity in Christ or you search for fulfillment from friends/spouse/boss/parents, you are never going to be satisfied and you will constantly be changing who you are to meet the fluctuating criteria of those around you. Juan and Daniel made the perfect point for this. “Don’t let favoritism change who you are and who God made you to be. Better to have no one’s favor and know who you are, than to have everyone’s favor and not recognize yourself.” If you need to, write a list of who the Bible says you are. Keep that and when people try to mold you into who they want you to be, you can look back and stand firm on who God has called you to be. Also keep it as a reminder when you feel like showing favoritism, remember that the people around you aren’t just people. You should love and treat them like you would treat yourself or a loved one. Go above and beyond for the people you encounter. Try to get back to that childlike mentality where you see a person for who they are and not just their status or label.

I hope this encourages you to evaluate your life and see where you need to grow. Ask God to show you the people you need to love harder and work toward being the best example of Christ that you can be.