Monday, January 27, 2014

In Search of Inspiration...{Making Eskimos}

Good Afternoon, All!

I don't know about you,
but I am about sick to death of these frigid, arctic temperatures!
We were given a little reprieve yesterday
(the temperatures were near 45 degrees)
but today we have been plunged back down into the tundra
(the high for today is 1 degree). 

While I enjoyed yesterday's warmer temperature,
such drastic temperature changes often bring sickness.
I can back this statement up with personal experience.
I was ill nearly the entire week last week.
(Hence, my quietness on the blogging front.)
I know lots of other people who were under the weather as well.

Furthermore, things have been beyond hectic at work.
Frustratingly so!
Last week was, in general, a rough week.
For more reasons than one.

In general, when I am sick and/or stressed,
I often get a bad case of the blues along with it. 
So it's not just that I've been sick and stressed,
I've also been down in the dumps emotionally.
When this occurs,
I often go looking for inspiration.
Not in any certain area or activity,
just in general, I try to keep my eyes open
for something positive to look at/think about.

It is my personal belief that if you truly go searching for something,
you are going to find it in one way or another.
So, because I was looking for inspiration, 
I found it...lots of it!

To begin with,
you know how you can become so used 
to something that you forget that it's even there?
In other words you forget to appreciate it...
Well, I've had this little sign on my desk for about 18 months now,
strategically placed directly below my computer screen where 
I simply CANNOT miss it.
Well, I've been missing it.
I realize this isn't the greatest shot in terms of being able to read the sign,
but there's just something about it that I love! :)
The sign reads: "A Time To Celebrate".
For some reason, when I read it,
I always add the words "Now Is"
to the beginning of it.

"Now Is A Time To Celebrate".

These words did their job and perked me right up.
I faced the challenges of the remainder of the week
with a renewed appreciation of the ordinary things in life.
Like Light...Natural Light.
As a photographer, I am completely IN LOVE with Natural Light.

#2. I love trees.
Trees of all kinds.
This is one of my favorite trees
that I get to see just about every day.
A tiny little tree...
not quite two feet tall.

#3. I love Chinese Food.
I don't really get to eat it much,
but I ALWAYS enjoy it when I do.
Furthermore, being the philosophical person that I am,
I always enjoy reading the "fortunes" in the fortune cookies.
I DEFINITELY appreciated this one!

#4. My little lovelies never cease to inspire me.
Their personalities,
their sensitivity,
just who they are inspires me.
And I do my best to inspire them in return.

#5. I love doing art projects with my kiddos.
You know, I never really thought of myself as a creative person
until I began working at the Y.
I didn't think I was capable of being an artist of any kind.
Doing projects with the kids
has changed all that for me.
I now recognize myself to be a VERY creative and artistic person.
And I LOVE it! :)

Last week, I mentioned that I was planning to do an Eskimo craft with the kids.
Well, I did. And the kids did a GREAT job!
What do you think?

I simply had the kids draw a face in the middle circle of a paper plate.

Then I had them color around the face with colored pencils.

Then we used to Tacky Glue to attach white fluff around the edge of the paper plate.
(I had the kids use colored pencils because the glue
and fluff doesn't stick well to crayon wax.
Markers would probably work too.)

This one is probably my favorite.
I'm not sure why my little guy made a sad face on his Eskimo
but I love it nonetheless!

What projects have you and your kids been up to?
What ordinary things inspire you when you are feeling blue?
I would love to hear your stories!

Have a Great Week!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I've Bookmarked the Date!...{One of my Quirks...}

Good Morning!
I hope this finds you all bundled up and cozy inside
away from this frozen tundra weather 
we're experiencing here in Illinois.
(Honestly, I feel SSSSOOOO incredibly sorry
for our maintenance guys at work.
They are outside at this very moment 
clearing the parking lots and starting up the YMCA vans.)
This weather certainly made for an interesting drive
into work this morning.
I was nearly apart of a four vehicle accident.
Thank the Lord for His Hand of Mercy!

My morning ritual USUALLY includes
checking the weather app on my phone
before I get dressed so I can make sure
to wear appropriate clothing for the day.
OF COURSE! Today was the day I didn't do that.
So I'm wearing a cutesy outfit
with a short jean skirt,
 a top that does NOT have long sleeves
and Fun Fishnets instead of leggings.
(But at least I was smart enough to wear my boots!)

Basically, I'm freezing!
At work this morning, I barricaded myself in my office
with my heater on FULL BLAST!
Definitely was NOT excited about having to go back out!

But anyway, none of that is what this post is about!
I had a random thought this morning
(seriously, this was REALLY out-of-the-blue!).
As of Saturday, January 18th, 
it has been ONE YEAR since I have been kissed.
In a way, this makes me sad.
I'm a normal girl (somewhat...sometimes) and I dream of having 
a special someone in my life to hug and kiss on.
But at the same time, 
I'm relieved that I'm not still with the guy
who gave me my last kiss.
(I could continue this thought,
but frankly, I don't think I'm up for the drama right now...)

Anyway, the fact that I had made a mental note
of the date of my Last Kiss
kind of jumped out at me!
And it got me to thinking...
I really am a "date" kind of girl.
Dates are important to me.

I remember the date of my first kiss:
June 29, 2006.

I remember the date of my first real (and awful) break-up:
November 18, 2006.

I remember the Dates of the Worst Vacation Ever:
August 8 - 11, 2007.

I remember my first day on the job at the YMCA:
January 21, 2008.
(Hey...that's six  years ago today...)

I remember my cousin being tragically injured at church:
November 11, 2009.

I remember my Pastor encouraging me in my ministry:
January 10, 2010.

I remember my first day of Radiography Clinicals:
October 11, 2011.

I remember the day I failed out of the Radiography Program:
July 30, 2012.

I remember directing my first full scale Children's Musical:
December 8 & 9, 2012.

I remember starting this blog after much internal debate:
February 28, 2013.

I remember having to let go of my baby, Xander:
October 27, 2013.

Dates are a big deal to me.
I remember peoples birthdays and anniversaries.
I remember the dates of important pep talks
and seemingly ordinary days
that had just a sprinkle of extraordinary on them
That's just me.
One of my happy little quirks, I guess. 

Honestly, I'm not really sure if I have "point" to this post...
perhaps I'm just sharing what's been on my mind lately.
Or maybe this is a "heads up" for any future men in my life...;)
You know, to make sure they know how to get on my good side...

Do you remember dates without really trying to?
What interesting little quirks do you have?

In the Meadow, We Can Build a Snowman... {Winter Crafts with the Lovelies}

Good Morning, Friends!

Since the children have been back in school for over a week now,
I've decided that it's time to share with you
some of the Winter Crafts we've been doing.
Up to this point,
we have been focusing a lot on Snowmen,
but we threw in some Mittens to keep it interesting :).
What do you think?

For the above Snowmen faces,
we cut up white paper "lace" placemats
and simply arranged them in a half circle
and then added the facial features.

The foam snowmen came in a kit
and were donated by one of my kiddos' grandmother.
I believe she purchased the kits at Walmart,
but am not completely sure.
The Jan Brett "Design Your Own Mitten" coloring sheet
can be found here.

This week I am hoping to delve into Eskimos and Polar Bears.
And I'm REALLY excited about next week.
If you want to know what's going on,
you'll have to check back in! :)

Have a Great Day!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Revelations on Relationships {Caution: I am NOT an expert!}

Good Evening, Dear Ones!
 I hope this finds you all warm and cozy and doing well.
It has been bitterly cold here in Central Illinois the last few weeks.
When it's this frigid, I tend to cuddle up with a blanket,
a cup of hot tea, and just write for a while.

Let me just say, that's EXACTLY what I've been doing!

I'm going to be honest with you:
I've been a bit melancholy for the last few weeks
(the first few weeks after Christmas tend to do that to me...).

This post has been stirring around in my heart for a while now
and it's something I need to talk about.
 I actually started working on it back in December
and have edited it numerous times since then.

Today I'd like to talk to you about relationships.

For me, relationships aren't the easiest topics to discuss.
I'll admit...I'm not the greatest at relationships.
I have difficulty trusting people
and therefore have issues trusting the relationship.
I'm not talking about just romantic relationships
although those are included.
I'm talking about relationships in general:
Family (Immediate and Extended)
and, of course, Romantic

I'm going to attempt to this post one point at a time.
Point 1:
Sorry for the poor photo quality. This was a selfie after a particular rough conversation with my sister.
I know I'm not the only person out there that has discovered this.
Sometimes relationships are so hard I wonder if they're even worth it.
Why should I invest my energy, my time, my money, my entire self
into something that could potentially fall apart and crush me?
Sometimes it seems just plain easier to hide behind my walls and go it alone.
But it's not very fulfilling...

And, honestly, as much as I enjoy being loved,
I think I love doing the loving more.
I'm lover not a fighter...always have been.

I enjoy giving to and doing for others.
That's why I continually take a chance at relationships.

Point 2:
Relationships change;
people change and I don't always like that.

Change in and of itself is a not a bad thing,
 I just don't like not being able to predict how something is going to turn out. 
I guess you can say I'm a little bit of a control freak.
(Little bit?...)
But I don't think I'm totally unreasonable in my desire either. 
I actually think a lot of people feel the same way I do.
You have to admit, relationships would be a lot easier
if things just stayed the same all the time.
But things would also get pretty boring pretty fast...

Point 3:
Relationships are a learning process.
No one knows everything there is to know about them.
I don't know everything about relationships...
Lord knows I barely know anything about them...
But this is something I know:
relationships are all about getting to know another person.
And getting to know who you are
and what your role in the relationship is.
Occasionally you may be surprised at the role you are called upon to fulfill.
It might not be one you are comfortable fulfilling.
But that's the point:
Relationships are a learning process...
Learning to be who are already are
and growing to become someone better than you are.

As I mentioned a moment ago,
I am not expert on relationships.
But I did have a revelation about them at work the other day.
Wanna hear it?
Good...'cause I'm DYING to share it! :)

I was sitting in the gymnasium at Thomas Jefferson supervising the children
who were running around and playing giddily.
Honestly, it was an odd place and time to have this revelation
as I wasn't even thinking about relationships at the moment.
It just sort of hit me out of nowhere.
(This is sort of a long revelation,
so please bear with me.)

During my Youth Group days,
I heard many adults speaking on the importance
of sexual abstinence before marriage.
One illustration that was given during one of these talks was this:
Imagine you have two pieces of construction paper: one pink and one blue.
Obviously, the pink represents the female soul and the blue the male soul.
Now imagine that the pages have been glued together
(this represents what happens to human souls
when they engage in sexual intercourse).
Then imagine trying to pull the pages apart.
What happens?
Bits and pieces of the pink paper stick
to the blue paper and vice versa.
Neither page is ever quite the same again.
So it is when two people have sex.
They are forever bonded whether they like it or not.

This was the first image/thought that jumped into my head
to initiate the revelation.
Next, in my mind I saw something similar occurring with human hearts.
And the thought came to me:
"When two people willingly enter into a deeper relationship,
be it a close friendship or a romance,
they are intentionally forming bonds with another soul.
They are working toward becoming one blended soul."

To say the least, this hit me like a ton of bricks.
But the revelation didn't stop there.

It continued with a mental moving picture.
I pictured two people joined together
at their hearts with bonds like Spidey webs.
(Yes, I think like this...all the time...)
The two people were actively bonding to each other.
Everyone time one did something for the other,
a piece of the giver's heart would break off
and extend out and attach to the other
person's heart on yet another Spidey web.

What I found odd, however, was:
one of the individuals seemed 
to be doing more of the giving than the other.

And the thought came to me:
"The person who does the most giving in the relationship
is ultimately the person hurt the most when the relationship ends
and/or negatively changes."
Again, this hit me like a ton of bricks.
I have often wondered at the amount pain I experience
when one of my relationships goes south.
The other person (or persons) involved
seems to be handling the situation perfectly fine,
but I'm stuck in a whirlpool of misery and despair
that shakes me to my core.
There is also a fair bit of denial involved.

I believe I tend to do a lot of the giving in my relationships. 
As I mentioned before,
I enjoy it.
Also, I sometimes have a difficult time
receiving from the other person in the relationship.
I guess I feel that I'm being selfish.

But a lot of people I have come across are not like this.
Unfortunately, there are individuals in this world
that are perennial takers.
They will take and take and take and take
as long as you are willing to give.
This a sad situation for both people involved.
The taker may never know the joy of giving unselfishly
and the giver may never experience the happiness of being given to.

It is my personal belief that a relationship such as this
is bound to fail.
UNLESS the taker can learn to give
and the giver can learn to receive.

I'm going to say it one more time.
Just to ensure that I've been heard.
All the "knowledge" and "revelations" that I have shared in this post
have come from the Ultimate Advisor,
the Wonderful Counselor,
I am simply passing on what I have personally learned from Him.

If you are struggling with any of your current relationships,
be it a family member or a co-worker,
a significant other or a just a good friend,
I implore to:
#1. Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you
and #2. Seek His counsel on the situation.
His Word is literally FULL of relationship examples
strategically placed there to guide us in our current circumstances.

If you need someone to listen,
He is there for you...
and so am I.

Thank you for reading!
I pray this post spoke to you
like it did to me as I was writing it.


Whimsical Wintery Weather {A Snowflake Canvas Project}

Good Morning, Friends!

Let me just say that the weather around here has been WILD!
Last week, we saw ARCTIC temperatures
(Yes, that says NEGATIVE 15 degrees...)
Then within a few days we had sunshine and temperatures near 50 degrees.
Like I said, WILD weather!
Unfortunately, its this kind of weather that brings sickness.
I am experiencing it first hand at Thomas Jefferson.
I would appreciate any and all prayers for my own health
but particularly for the health of my kids and staff.

This week the weather has say the least.
Actually, a better word comes to mind...
The weather seems to have come out of a Dr. Seuss storybook.
Yesterday, GORGEOUS Snowflakes the size of quarters fell for a few hours
and were then followed by frigid and blustery winds.
Today, the sun was bright and the air bitingly cold.
Then, with the sun still shining, it began to snow.
It was one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen.
Tiny, crystal snowflakes shimmering and sparkling in the sunlight
as they meandered to the ground..
It was LOVELY...

Keeping the weather in mind,
I knew that my kiddos needed to work on a snowflake craft this week.
As I mentioned last week,
my supervisor has purchased several blank canvases
for me to use as I see fit.
I decided that one should be snowflake themed.
I had an idea in my head of what I wanted to do
(placed there by Pinterest, of course...).

I cut some pretty snowflakes out of white paper
and then traced them onto to contact paper.
I cut them out and placed 
the now see-through snowflakes on the canvas.

Originally, I had thought of having the children then 
"finger paint" or "hand paint" rather
a variety of soft, pastel colors over the snowflakes.
Then when the paint dried I could remove the snowflake contact paper
and we would be left with a colorful canvas
with white snowflakes.

However, when I approached one of my assistants,
she had another idea.
She suggested having the children use dry powder paint
on top of the contact paper snowflakes.
Honestly, I thought she was a bit flakey...:)
However, I told her to go for it.

As you can see,
the canvas turned out as WHIMSICAL 
as the local weather!
To finish the project,
I sprayed the entire canvas with cheap hairspray
to keep the powder paint from coming off.

Here it is proud displayed with other canvases the kids and I have done.

What have you been up to this blustery, winter days?
I would love to hear all about it!