One of our family traditions is having a back to school dinner for the little lovelies. This is a time to celebrate the kids, acknowledge their accomplishments, and look forward to all they have ahead of them. They are the kings and queen of the day!
This year our theme is “Be Your Best Self,” based on a talk given by President Monson. We will try to incorporate our theme into our family home evenings and life lessons through out the year. I want the kids to believe that they have a best self, and that that person has so much to offer the world! I want them to recognize that person inside of themselves early, so that they will know how important they are, and how much they can be a force for good in this world.
This year I kept it simple. Shepherds Pie and garden veggies. Yep. Know your audience! This is one of my kids favorite meals, and I wanted dinner to be fun, not a fight. Plus, it’s a casserole, so I made it Sunday morning and put it on a delay bake so that it would be ready for when we got home (except that I put the delay on incorrectly – even the best laid plans can get a wrench thrown in!)
I made these garlands out of felt and twine. I just cut out shapes in the felt and then threaded them onto some twine with a big yarn needle. EASY PEASY! And they turned out so cute and durable. I can now use them for: Birthdays, Celebrations, general decor. Plus, I still have lots of felt left to make more if I ever need any.
Wyatt was the one who came up with the theme. As soon as he said it I knew I had to make paper mache’ bees. Because you know, “Bee Your Best Self.” They were fairly simple but perhaps a bit time consuming. That’s okay, I started two weeks early, so they were never stressful projects that I had to work on. I’m going to post a whole tutorial tomorrow on how to make them if you’re interested.
Last weekend we were at the Pugh cabin with my family. My sisters were working on fun vinyl lettering projects, but I was devotedly working on my Bees. At one point I needed a break and thought I might do something wordy. Someone pointed out that I didn’t have any vinyl, and then, tongue-in-cheek told me that I couldn’t free hand anything. Well, this is the result. I ended up “free handing” this little poster for our dinner. I think I will put it on the piano for the school year to remind the little lovelies (and the big people too) of our goal to be our best!
The flowers were cut from the garden this year. Zinnias and a couple sunflowers. Everett was enchanted and decided to play with the flowers, thus the sunflower looks a little sad. Oh well.
The Table Decor
I was going to leave the table plain because I figured the ceiling was busy enough. But when Olivia came upstairs and saw me setting up dinner, she asked if she could be in charge of the table decor. Of course, I was happy to have her help! She drew out place cards with encouraging back to school notes for each of the children. She then decorated the table with fun toys.
Every year I do crowns for the lovelies. After all, this celebration is all about them. This year I decided to go for a more “natural” effect than years past. I went out and trimmed some grape vines and used the trimmings to weave crowns which I then decorated with foam/feather bees and bugs from the floral department at the local craft store. It only took me about 45 minutes to make all four crowns, which was perfect because of the time of some of the other projects. And I think they turned out very cute.
And so, after all this preparation, we set up our dinner, invited the kids to the table, and enjoyed our feast. Wyatt gave the kids some words of wisdom about what it means to be our best. We talked about the upcoming school year, and what fun things they had to look forward to.
Afterward Wyatt gave each child (and me!) a back-to-school blessing. It is so special to have those, and I am grateful for the priesthood in our home. That is where the spirit really came through. I know we work hard to meet our children’s needs, but the truth is we fall short so often! But Heavenly Father is on our side! He wants our kids to succeed just as much (more!) than we do. He has given us the tools, and still He fills in our gaps.
It was a great evening, and a great finale to our summer. And now we are ready to continue, to grow, to progress, and to be our very best selves!
Read about Back-to-school-dinners of the past: