I love to set the table. I like pretty table linens. I like colorful dishes. I hate paper plates and plastic ware. I think plastic cups are gross. If we get take out or fast food, I unwrap everything and put it on real plates to eat it - even if it's a burger and fires. I'm weird. I'm okay with that.
I have found that there are some benefits to my weird hang-ups. When William started eating solid foods in a highchair, I decided that the highchair tray was boring and needed some visual "help." So I created placemats for William's highchair. The placemats taught him colors, animals and how to spell his name. I created a placemat with pictures of him and his daddy for when my husband was out of town. What I discovered was that the placemats were actually very helpful in teaching William basic concepts and in giving us things to talk about during dinner.
After Barry died, I realized William needed to talk about Barry, but often didn't know what to say or how to verbalize his feelings. I noticed that if he saw pictures of Barry, he would instantly smile and go into long stories about what was happening in the pictures. So, I created "daddy" placemats for the kids. Each placemat is covered with pictures of Barry and William or Layla. And each placemat has Scripture on it for us to read at each meal to remind us of God's goodness and comfort us when we miss daddy. It's a very simple thing that has been helpful in our grieving process.
If you would like to make your own placemats, here are some tips:
*Construction paper works well for most placemats, but if you are making special placemats that you would like to keep for years, use poster board. Poster board also works better if you will be gluing photos onto it.
*I take all of my placemats to Mardels for laminating. It costs 25 cents per foot. For our "daddy" placemats, I went to Staples to have them laminated instead. At Staples, they use the thick lamination film so it is much sturdier (aka, more costly at $2 a foot!).
*Always make your placemats 2 sided!
*I always write a verse from the Bible on each side of my placemats. It gives me something to read to them at each meal to help us think on Jesus.
*You can make placemats for highchairs! Just trace the tray onto a piece of poster board and cut out. Make sure to make it a few centimeters smaller than the actual tray so that it will fit inside the tray nicely.