Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Randomness and Innocence... {Just Go With It}

Good Afternoon, Darlings!
Happy Wednesday!

 Today I'm here to discuss the randomness of children.
Children are the most random creatures I've ever met in my life

and, in addition to the above photo,
I have a story that illustrates this!

Last Friday Afternoon at Thomas Jefferson,
it was an absolutely GORGEOUS day!
Bright blue skies, puffy white clouds and GLORIOUS sunshine!
As soon as snack was over
(and a short time-out for some children with listening problems), 
I took all the Lovelies outside to play.

As I have already said,
the Weather was Perfect!
So naturally, being the pathological picture-taker that I am,
I had my iPhone out 
and was busily taking photos of the Signs of Spring.
A few of the children had gathered around to watch
and as I took a photo of the clouds,

one of the kiddos asked me,
"Miss Sarah, why are you taking pictures of the clouds?"
I answered,
"Because I love them!
They are so bright and puffy!"
Then I went all "Despicable Me",
"It's so fluffy I'm gonna die!"

(That was MY moment of randomness.)

I think I momentarily stunned the children into oblivion.
After a few minutes of recovery,
the same child said,
"Hey, Miss Sarah! You should start a cloud 
picture collection on your phone."
I agreed,
"Yes, I like clouds."
To which another child responded,
"Well, I like pink!"
And yet another answered,
"Wow! Look! I made a grass ball!"

You know how on movies when there's an awkward moment
everything goes completely silent 
and all you can hear are crickets chirping?
That's how this conversation ended.
No one really said anything after that.
We all just kind of went our own separate ways.
Probably because no one knew how to turn
that scrambled egg conversation into an omelet.

How in the world did we get from fluffy clouds and "Despicable Me"
(at least there was a connection
 between the conversation and my randomness...)
to the color pink and the ability to make grass balls
(do not ask me what a grass ball is...
I don't know and I'm pretty I don't WANT to know!)?

Now my darling cousin, McKenzie, is intentionally random
(is that an oxymoron?).

Meaning she sort of thinks up random thoughts ahead of time
and then throws them into conversations
whether they fit the topic that is being discussed or not.
Her goal is to amuse people and occasionally make them spit their drinks
through their teeth from laughing so hard.
She's intentionally trying to be funny.
Like I said, she's intentionally random.

But it's different with my little lovelies.
Sometimes, they don't have a clue why the words
they've just uttered completely crack me up.
They've even asked,
"Miss Sarah, why are you laughing?"
To which I usually respond by hugging them close to me
and reassuring them, "Because you are so cute."

I think the randomness of children
has a lot to do with their innocence.
They haven't experienced crippling embarrassment
or been publicly mocked yet
(and hopefully never will,
but unfortunately we do not live in a perfect world).
Therefore, they are less inclined to inhibit their words and actions.
They say what they are thinking
and they do what they feel like doing.
And sometimes what they are thinking has absolutely nothing to do
with what is currently going on or reality in general.
And I absolutely love it.

I will admit I don't always know how to handle it.
Sometimes I get to laughing so hard that
my assistant has to take over the conversation,
but I have learned one lesson that has worked for me thus far:
Just Go With It.

If you're helping your seven year old with her homework
and slowly and strategically
working your way through her spelling words
and she randomly mentions
she really, Really, REALLY wants a pink pony,
Just Go With It.

If you're in Wal-Mart getting groceries
and you ask your Kindergartener,
"Do you know what kind of chips you want in your lunch?"
And he responds with, "No, but I know what I want for Christmas"
(which is MONTHS away),
Just Go With It.

If you're in Sunday School with your preschooler
and you ask the children what song they would like to sing
and he bursts into "Hot Dog! Hot Dog! Hot Diggity-Dog!"
instead of the Sunday School song you were hoping for,
Just Go With It.

Conversations and situations such as these
don't mean that you've failed as a parent,
quite the contrary in my opinion.
To me it seems that you are doing your utmost
to preserve your child's innocence
and give him/her what she needs:
a childhood.
You are giving that little sweetie the space and time
to just be a kid.
And he/she is showing his/her appreciation
by being innocently random.

So when your kiddo's randomness lends
an awkward-silence-ending to the conversation,
Just Go With It.
I will do the same with my little lovelies
and we'll let them be kids as long as possible!

Have a great rest of the week! :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hello, My Name is Sarah and I'm a NerdGirl {Book Review - The Fault In Our Stars}

I joined a Virtual Book Club!

I have loved reading since I was a child

and -- apart from the crazy college years
when the only books I got to read were textbooks --
have always hunted for great new books to read.
I also like to discuss the books I have read
with people who have read them as well.

Apparently, I am not alone in this
since I have discovered a virtual book club:
The Blissful Bookworms.

I am beyond excited to have a group of ladies
that I can discuss my reading adventures with!
For the month of May our book "assignment" is:
The Fault In Our Stars.


I'm sure you now realize that I have already read
The Fault In Our Stars
(did the *SWOON* give it away?)
and, of course, both LOVED and HATED it.
(Isn't that an earmark of a good book?
You can't decide if you love it or hate it,
you just know you HAVE to read again?)

Don't worry, I'm not going to spoil the story
for those of you who haven't read it.
That would take all the fun out of it!

I will say that
The Fault In Our Stars
was one of the most gripping tales I've read in my life.
I simply was NOT able to put it down.
If I recall correctly,
I read it cover to cover in less than 48 hrs
(and in my CRAZY Roller-Coaster Life,
that is just about unheard of!).

It is sometimes difficult for me to read stories about terminal illness.
Not because of any personal experience I have with it,
but simply because I hate the thought of knowing
that a person is going to die
and there is nothing that can be done about it.
Personally, I want to die quickly and suddenly
or peacefully in my sleep from old age.
The Fault In Our Stars
brings its readers face-to-face with mortality
and the loss of young life.
At the same time,
it is an amazing love story that I still haven't recovered from.

If you are anything like me,
you will both ADORE and LOATHE John Green
by the end of the novel.
And then you will web search every other book
he has written and order them online
and devour them the moment they arrive in the mail
(at least that's what I did...).

I leave you with one last comment concerning
The Fault In Our Stars,
have tissues on hand.
Lots and Lots of tissues...
you're going to need them!

Happy Reading!

Monday, April 28, 2014

I Went to Work Today...But I Didn't Want to...{I Would Rather Be at ACTS!}

Good Afternoon, Friends and Family!
Well it's Monday...and I didn't want to go to work today
(yes, I realize that is NOTHING new for a Monday,
but still, I've a legitimate reason for it this time).
I started to say that I didn't want to get out of bed,
but that's not true.
I would have been HAPPY to get out of bed EARLY
if it meant I could be headed to ACTS today with my dear cousins
instead of working away at the YMCA.
What is ACTS?

ACTS (a.k.a Student Convention or just plain ole' Convention)
is partly responsible for turning me into the confident adult I am today.
The reason I am who am I is due largely to ACTS 
and the opportunities for growth that it brought with it.

"ACTS" is short for Association of Christian Teachers and Schools.
Therefore, ACTS Student Convention
is an annual competitive convention
of high school students from Christian schools
that usually runs the last week of April.
Students may compete in a large variety of different areas including:
Track and Field events, Academic Bowls and Science Projects,
Music and Drama, Photography and Art,
Wood-working and Sewing, Basketball and Volleyball,
Checkers and Chess, Tennis and Ping-pong,
the list goes on and on.
I was privileged to attend this convention
every year of my junior and senior high school career
at New Life Christian Academy
(2000 - 2005).

When I attended NLCA, I was required to compete in at least 5 events,
(now, they only require the students to partake in 2 events...
Not that I minded entering a handful of events,
rather, I quite enjoyed it.
To put it mildly,
I was a ACTS Convention Fanatic!
I would start planning my entries in the fall of the preceding year
and have nearly all of them completed
and/or ready to be performed by February at the latest.

During my years as an ACTS participant,
I submitted many different entries:
A Science Collection, short stories and poems,
and Radio Programs (THOSE were AWESOME!).
Of course, I played Ping-Pong
(I have told you before how much I love Ping-Pong!).
But hands down, my favorite area to compete in was Drama.
And, over the course of the 6 years I went to ACTS,
I competed in One-Act Plays,
Dramatic Dialogues,
Poetry Recitations,
Expressive Readings,
and Dramatic Monologues.
(Yes, that is considered Public Speaking.)

The first couple of years I was still finding my dramatic rhythm
and didn't place,
but then all of a sudden something clicked.
I would be foolish to say that I figured everything out on my own
because that is ABSOLUTELY NOT the case!
I had an AMAZING drama teacher
who quite literally POURED herself into me.
And she told me that I could practice for days on end
and it still wouldn't do any good if I didn't pray
and ask for God's Anointing to be on me when I performed.

Somewhere (don't ask me where) I have 6 first place medals
all from Dramatics at Convention.
Yes, I'm thrilled that I won.
Yes, I still have the medals
because they are a source of pride and joy for me.
But those awards are not the most important
things I took away from ACTS Student Convention.
I learned many important lessons that are still impacting my life today.

On the most basic level,
I learned that I have a good memory
and that I can rely on it to not go blank
while standing in front of a large group of people
(at Convention, I performed in front of an assembly of over 1,000 students).
I learned important public speaking concepts like:
voice inflection and how to properly articulate my words
so that the message I was speaking could be easily understood
even by those setting in the far back of the audience.

From an drama standpoint,
I learned how to NOT be myself and instead
become the character I was portraying.
I learned how to tell the story with my face and actions
as well the words that were coming out of my mouth.

From a writer's perspective,
I learned that I am gifted in sentence and thought structure.
I can apply the sometimes harsh rules of the English language
to intellectual phrases and adjust them
so that they are more easily understood by the listener/reader.

From an un-assured teenager's perspective,
I learned confidence in myself and my abilities
as well as in my authorities and in my Heavenly Father.
I learned to trust the elder voices of reason in my life.
I realized that they had experience that FAR out-weighed mine
and therefore knew what they were talking about.

ACTS Student Convention basically made me into a different person.
I honestly don't even want to think
about the kind of person I would be today
if I hadn't had those experiences.
I previously made the statement
that the lessons I learned at ACTS are still impacting my life today.
I can prove this to be a true statement.

I currently teach Junior Church and have no fear whatsoever
of speaking in front of the children
or the other teachers that are with me in the room.
I also have had occasion to speak in meetings at work
and am able to do so without a tremulous voice
or knocking knees.
And in general, I am a more confident person.
I've weathered many storms in my life
and with the help of my great memory
and acting abilities,
I have been better able to encourage myself in the Lord.
(" filled with the Spirit;
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;" Ephesians 5:18b - 19)

I've already said it:
I owe a lot to ACTS Student Convention.
Is it any wonder that I would rather be at ACTS
than at work on a gloomy Monday?
I really am bummed that I couldn't go with my cousins.
Yeah, I know it's an event for high school students,
but it would literally mean that I got to walk back to my roots;
the starting place of my adult life.
And that's pretty special.
That's not something that comes around very often.
I am hoping to visit ACTS on Thursday,
but it obviously won't be like spending an entire work week there.
However, I plan to spend whatever time I am allowed there
basking in the light of my glory days! :)

I wish I had some old Convention photos
to add to this post to help you, my readers,
better understand why this means so much to me.
I have a nagging thought in the back of my mind
that this post is actually a pretty boring one
for the average reader.
But I'm choosing to not let that bother me.
ACTS is and always will be a HUGE part of my life
and this blog is the place where I get to tell my story my way.
So I'm telling it :).

Thank you so much for stopping by!
I hope you will visit again soon!
I've got some great posts lined up for the next few days!

Have a Great Week!

Friday, April 25, 2014

I'm all "FROZEN"ED OUT! {Maybe I should just "Let It Go"}

I don't know about the rest of you,
but I'm so sick of "Frozen" I could puke!

Okay,  maybe that was a little harsh.
But every single time I log onto Pinterest,
SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE is throwing a "Frozen" party
or movie night, or SOMETHING.
And that person has LOTS of fun "Frozen" crafts,
snacks, and decorations to share with the world.
Let me just say this now:
I. am. NOT. going to make. ANY. "Frozen". paraphernalia. anytime soon!
And, as if that wasn't enough,
 I work with children, remember?

Can't hold it back anymore!
Let it go! Let it go!
Turn my back and slam the door.
And here I stand and here I'll stay.
Let it go. Let it go.
The cold never bothered me anyway."

(See, I even know all the words.)
Oh, and let's not forget:


I'm being VERY nice when I say 
that the children aren't all that musically inclined.
"Monotone" is the word that comes to mind.

Now, I don't want you to think that I'm completely bashing "Frozen"
(or my little darlings' singing voices),
because I'm not.
I've seen the movie multiple times and I like it.
I'm just not sure what all of the fuss was about.

Maybe it's just me, but it seemed that this movie
was promoted, Promoted, PROMOTED!
Practically everywhere I went people were talking 
about the new Disney movie "Frozen" that was coming out!
I saw TONS of promotional material.
Like WAY more than for "Wreck-It Ralph" for example.

As I said, I like "Frozen".
I think it's a cute a movie that people of all ages will enjoy.
The song "Let It Go" is very moving
and I love hearing Demi Lovato belt it out.

Plus I totally was NOT expecting the twist ending!
(I'm not going to spoil it for those who've never seen the film...
if there are any of those people left in the world...)
But in my personal, humble opinion,
it didn't quite live up to the hype.
I don't know exactly what I was expecting,
but it was something BIGGER.

All this being said,
I'm probably making too big of a deal about it.
I should probably just "Let It Go"...
(pun intended) #punny
Aaaannnndddd...I recently discovered this video
and it inspired some nicer feelings within in me for "Frozen". 
I'ts so awesome I just HAD to share it!

Isn't the dude AMAZING?!?!?!?!

(So I fully realize that this kind of post is TOTALLY out of the ordinary for me.
But it seems that every blogger I follow has made a post about "Frozen"
and I guess I was feeling a little left out...)

Anyone wanna watch "Frozen" with me? ;)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Friday Five-0 #9 {A Laughter-filled Resurrection Day}

Happy Friday, Everyone!
I hope you have had a great week
and that your Easter Celebrations last weekend 
were as memorable as mine :).

For me, three day weekends always make the next week seem never-ending,
this week is no exception!
I am SSSSOOOO glad it's Friday!
And with that in mind,
you know what it's time for?
That's right!

Last Friday evening, I was privileged to attend 
the final church service of Illinois Youth Convention (IYC) 2014.
IYC is a three day church convention (obviously geared toward young people) 
held annually in the Illinois State Capitol.
Since I am a poor person who has to work for a living,
I was unable to attend the entire convention,
but as I said, I was able to attend the final evening's service.
I'm going to be honest here:
ever since I turned 12 (the minimum age for IYC attendees),
I have had both despised and loved Youth Convention.
Well, the planners and organizers of IYC realize 
that young people are very social creatures
and therefore, they allow ample time 
during the three day schedule for social activities.
This is just fine and dandy,
except that when it comes to large groups,
However, I do enjoy the chance to take a little road trip
and worship in a service outside of my own church building.
Truly, there is something awesome 
about thousands of young people of like faith
joining together in worship under the same roof.

You can't convince me that's not an inspiring image!

Saturday, I had Easter Dinner with some dear friends and family of mine.
The food was absolutely SCRUMPTIOUS
and, of course, I ate WAY TOO MUCH!
After dinner, the adults hid Easter Eggs for the kiddos
and then the fun really began! 

I so adore these cuties! :)

Sunday, of course, was Easter Sunday.
It was a bright, beautiful, sunshine-y Resurrection Day.
In my mind, it was exactly like the day
Mary Magdalene discovered an empty tomb
and raced away to tell the disciples the news.
As per the custom, everyone at church was decked out in their finest clothes.
The children, particularly my precious little cousins,
were flat-out adorable! :)

My lovely Sister-Cousins and I, dressed in our Easter Finery,
had a fun little photo session of our own :).

After church, we had a HUGE, MARVELOUS Easter Dinner
followed by an Egg Hunt with the kiddos.

We finished up Resurrection Day by dyeing some Easter Eggs :).

What a fun-filled Easter it was! :)

Tuesday was Earth Day!
Ordinarily I would've had numerous Earth Day activities
planned for my little Lovelies,
but this year I somehow missed the memo 
about Earth Day being April 22nd
(I accept the Bad Teacher award for the week).
So instead of cool crafts and fun coloring sheets,
I shooed my kiddos outside and we spent Earth Day
basking in the glorious sunshine!

It was a simply GORGEOUS afternoon!

Wednesday, my darling Sister-Cousin, Madi,
came into the YMCA to finalize her new hire paperwork.
That's right!
My sweet Madi is coming to work with me!

I can honestly say,
this has given me a brighter perspective 
on the upcoming Summer Camp!

Also on Wednesday, I went back to an old "job" at church.
This is actually my second week doing it
(just didn't get a chance to tell you all last week).
I'm teaching Junior Church again :).
A few years ago, I taught the 8-11 year old class
and absolutely LOVED it!
However, schedules collided and I had to quit.
But now, I'm back! :)
And I'm very excited about it!

How was your Easter Weekend?
 How did you celebrate His Resurrection?
Did you do anything special for Earth Day?
Have you ever gone back to an old "job"?
Why did you leave it in the first place?
Was it kind of weird going back?

I know I've asked a lot of questions this week,
but, honestly, I think this post brought up a lot of good issues to discuss :).

Thank you so much for visiting!
Please come back soon!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I'm in Love with Dabby Paints! {Springtime Crafts with the Kiddos}

Good Afternoon, Everyone!

I'm here today to share some fun Springtime Crafts with you!

First of all, all my Instagram followers may remember
a while back I posted this photo:

 Just in case you can't tell,
this is a blue canvas with old book pages cut into raindrops.
I had previously seen this photo/pin on Pinterest
(I was looking for a an actual site and/or person to give credit to,
but was unable to).
This was my inspiration for this project.

This project took quite a bit of time
as I wanted to do it "right".
My lovely, artistic assistant at TJ, Nicole,
did the painting on the canvas.
Then I, with LOTS of help from the kiddos,
cut out clouds and raindrops from old book pages.
Using duct tape and white thread,
I attached the raindrops to the clouds
and then mod podged them onto the canvas.

 Finally, I cut letters out of the book pages
and mod podged them to the center of the canvas.
I've gotta admit:
I'm kind of in love with it.
What do you think?

 In addition to this project,
the kids and I have been busy with other springtime crafts as well.
Again, my Instagram followers will remember
that I recently posted this photo
expressing my love for Dabby Kids Paint Markers!

Not only do I adore them
(because they work GREAT and are SUPER EASY to clean up!),
but the kids love them too!
They ask me EVERY DAY if they can paint with them!

Currently we've been using them to make these:

Honestly, I'm not quite sure what to call them...
One of the kiddo's dads asked me what we were making
and this is the answer I gave him:
"Coffee Filter flowers, fireworks, rainbow bursts, or whatever you want to call them."
I may be unsure of their names, but I love these masterpieces of art!
They are vibrant and SCREAM "Springtime!" :)
I have been instructing the children to fold the coffee filter into fourths
(half and then half again).
Then I told them to paint whatever design they desired on BOTH SIDES
(this seems to be the key to making sure the paint has
bled all the way through the coffee filter).

I have no idea how my little lovely managed to make an owl,
but she did...and I LOVE HIM!

WWWWHHHHOOOO is ready for Spring? :)

The final project I'm going to be sharing with you is:
Popsicle Stick Houses.
I first made this project with my Concordia Kids last school year,
and loved it so much I wanted to do it again with my TJ kiddos.
I simply cut a rough house shape out of black construction paper for each child
and instructed them to glue it to a full piece of blue construction paper.
Then I had them decorate 15 popsicle sticks with markers
and then break them (if necessary) and glue them to the black house outline.
As a final decoration,
I had them cut strips and shapes (mostly hearts)
out of scrap pieces of construction paper
and add them to their houses.
Again, I LOVE these!
What do you think?

Here is our completed bulletin board.
Doesn't it just brighten your day?

What Springy projects have you been doing with your kids?
Have you found any magical art utensils that you'd like to share?

You know I've love to hear all about it!

Thank you so much for stopping by!
Please visit again soon!

Monday, April 21, 2014

I Was Having an Emotional Monday...{The Choice is Up to Me}

Good Monday Afternoon!
I hope this finds you recovering from the Holiday Weekend :).

I'm going to be honest,
today did not start out as a Good Monday Morning for me.
Honestly, it's been a bit of an emotional Roller-Coaster morning for me.
First of all, my alarm went off this morning
and the first thought in my head was, "Uuuugggghhhh."
Needless to say, I wasn't quite ready to face the world.

Now, that being said, I did not look QUITE that bad when I left the house!
But my emotions started rolling
LONG before I started my car this morning.

Firstly, while I was in the shower,
I was hit, literally hit,
with an overwhelming sense of fear.
Completely ridiculous, yet nearly immobilizing FEAR.
I had visions in my head of masked men
magically appearing in the bathroom with me
and stabbing me while I was still in the shower.
(I'm NOT making this up.)

After a few moments of this practically paralyzing fear,
I came to the conclusion that ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH!
And proceeded to "Jesus' Name" that fear 
right out of the house!
("God is love. 
When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, 
we live in God and God lives in us.
This way, love has the run of the house,...
There is no room in love for fear.
Well-formed love banishes fear..." I John 4:17-18 The Message)

Of course, it worked.
And I almost immediately began to feel better.
However, then my "to-do" list for the day
began running through my head.
Then my "to-do" list for tomorrow
and the rest of the week,
and the rest of the month,
and the rest of my life
began running through my head
and I began to feel overwhelmed again.
This time with hair-pulling stress.

Just like with the fear earlier,
I took a few minutes of this exhausting stress
then decided again that ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH!
And I cast my cares upon Him,
because, of the two of us, He's got the broader shoulders
and can carry my weights a lot better than I can.
("Give all your worries and cares to God,
for he cares about you." I Peter 5:7 New Living Translation)

Of course, that worked too.
And, again, I almost immediately began to feel better.
That's when I realized,
I guess in a way, the choice is up to me.
The choice of whether I'm going to have 
an emotional Roller-Coaster Monday 
or not, is up to me.
So I chose.
I chose to turn a corner on the fearful, stressful beginning of my day
and have a productive, peaceful Monday.

And that's exactly the kind of day I've had thus far
Now, as soon as my lunch break is over,
I'm going to being seeming my little darlings for nearly three hours.
We'll have to see how peaceful I feel after THAT! ;)

Previously I've written a couple of posts about 
"going back to what you know".
(You can find those posts here and here.)
I guess THIS post is me practicing what I preach.
When I was feeling overwhelmed with fear and stress,
I went back to what I knew:
the promises of Scripture
 and the faithfulness of God.
And He took care of my worries.
Like He always does.

But like I said earlier,
the original choice of what to do
with my fear and stress was completely up to me.
I could've let my fear and stress
control my entire day.
I could have let my emotions ride me instead of the other way around.
That choice was up to me.

This whole revelation of "me having a choice
of what to do with my emotions"
may seem very elementary to you.
But sometimes it's the elementary facts that we forget about.
You know, the ideas that so basic
and we've learned them so long ago
that we forget how important and life changing they are.

This basic fact, changed my day.
I finished my office hours with a smile
instead of exhausted, sagging shoulders.
I am kind of excited about seeing my little lovelies
rather than just trying to get through the hours I spend with them.
Going back to what I know,
changed my day.

Have you ever experienced this?
Have you ever remembered a principle or lesson
you learned long ago
and it completely changed your day?

I would love to hear your story!

Thank you so much for visiting today!
Please come back soon!

Have a great week!