Showing posts with label My musings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label My musings. Show all posts

Monday, December 17, 2012

Graham Cracker Houses

Hubby and I have been still thinking about Sandy Hook.  This past weekend, we struggled with whether we should still hold our gingerbread house making party.  At first it felt kind of wrong.  Hold a party to make small houses out of crackers and candy?  Were we being too frivolous?  Was it ok to have fun while others grieved?

In the end, we still held the party.  And you know what?  I'm really glad we did.

Two gal pals came over and we spent the night eating, talking, and building.  We shared what was happening in our lives.  We listened a lot and laughed even more.

*Sigh* What happened in Connecticut was really really horrible.  But maybe this was our small way of battling the darkness.  Where one candle glows, darkness cannot win.  That night, I imagined our small apartment glowing with good friendship and love.

And doesn't the world need a little more of that right now?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Look for the helpers

Hubby and I are just trying to process what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary.  We're in shock about how someone could murder so many people... but we're also touched by the staff's amazing bravery and sacrifice. 

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.'  To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers- so many caring people in this world."  ~ Mr. Rogers

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Guest Post at About Proximity

Today I'm writing a guest post on my friend Lisa's blog, About Proximity.  Lisa and I met in Michigan and she's seriously one of the warmest and kindest people I've ever met.  Because of her openness to share about her faith and life, I felt that her blog was the perfect place to share about my decision to quit my PhD program.

Click here to read my guest post.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bottled smiles and laughter

If I could, I would bottle up all of Baby Chuck's smiles and laughter and keep them in my pocket.  Then, whenever I met someone who was sad or going through tough times, I'd hand them the bottle and have them take the goodness in.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

A poem

(Click here to see an  illustrated copy of this poem!)

Give thanks when a bright sun warms the sky,
and thanks for each gentle breeze that whispers by.

Give thanks when we have enough food to eat,
and thanks for the good earth beneath our feet.

Give thanks when we complete honest work with our hands,
and thanks for the blessing of family and friends.

Give thanks even though current times might be hard,
and thanks for the strength found in loved ones' arms.

Give thanks for each star that twinkles at night,
and thanks for the moon's soft comforting light.

Saying Thanks

So it's been about a week that we've been storing things that we're thankful for in our Jar of Thanks.  At first it was a bit strange to keep jotting down notes, but now I'm beginning to like it.  Each time I write and drop a note I'm acknowledging something good in our life.

Lately I've also been making it a point to thank others more.  "Thank you" is only two small words, but I think they will grow a spirit of gratitude in me. I've also been trying to explain why I appreciate what somebody did.  Then maybe the other person will feel loved and appreciated with my verbal acknowledgement.

Here's hoping that it works.

(Funny side note:  I told hubby that I was trying to say "Thank you" more, and he responded, "Is that why you've been saying thank you so much lately?" Oh dear.  Oh well, let's see how this all goes.)

(By the way, thank you, dear reader for visiting this blog.  Whether you're a first time or frequent visitor, I appreciate your interest and support.  It encourages me to keep on blogging and crafting.)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Crapty Fridays- Creating batik-style paper and a Jar of thanks

It's November! 

Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I thought I'd try something new.  This month, I'm working hard at being thankful for things.  I don't know about you, but it's so easy for me to start wishing I had more or wishing I was someone else doing something else. 

I really don't like feeling this way.  So this month I'm figuring out ways to shoot those thoughts down (Katniss Everdeen style, of course).

So let's begin this journey with a crapt that will (hopefully) help me to be more thankful.   This week's crapt is a container which will hold our daily record of things we're thankful for.  Inspired by this awesome post, I made my own batik-style paper and used it to cover the container.  

- empty and clean oatmeal container <-- crap!
- scissors
- exacto knife
- crayons
- paper bag (or any paper)
- craft paint (black and other)
- sponge brush
- paper towel
- Mod Podge (or any other glue)

Step 1:  Cut out an opening on the top of your container. 
 Step 2:  Measure and cut out two sheets of paper.  One sheet will cover the top of your container.  The other will cover the container's sides.  (Note:  I just used a paper bag.  For the most part this worked just fine.  But you'll notice that my final colors just aren't that bright.  I think using white paper probably would have worked better.)

Step 3:  Draw your design with crayon.  Be sure to press hard and cover your entire sheet with crayon. This process will take a long time and your fingers and wrists may get sore.  (Ok, I admit. I've got weak wrists and had to take several breaks.) 

Here I drew the design and then had to go back and color in the background too

Step 4:  Mix your black craft paint with a bit of water. 

Step 5:  Crumple your entire drawing.  (The crumpled bits will allow your black paint to adhere in interesting ways.)

Step 6:  Cover your work area with scrap paper.  It's going to get messy.

Step 7:  Begin batiking!  Using your foam brush, brush black paint over your drawing.  Then, before the paint dries, use a paper towel to wipe the paint off.  Repeat this painting and wiping process until you've painted and wiped your entire drawing.
As you can see, crumpling the paper added lovely black lines.  Also, I forgot to color in parts of the paper, resulting in black areas near the paper towel. 
Now I probably don't need to tell you this... but try your best to not touch the paint. Otherwise you'll end up with lovely hands like mine...

Does this make me a real artist?

Step 7:  Let your paper dry.  (It won't take very long.)

Step 8:  Glue your paper onto your container.  I found my design to be rather dark, so I painted a green heart to lighten everything up.  

Step 9:  Create mini "I'm thankful" sheets.

I've placed the container, sheets of paper, and a pencil near our television.  Every day hubby and I are going to record at least one thing that we're thankful for and place it in the container.  Hopefully this act of recording daily blessings will help grow a spirit of thankfulness in us.

Do you have any nice ways for living a contented life? 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What did you fail at today?

When I was in elementary and middle school, I was deathly afraid of getting bad grades.  Once I got a B (which my mind translated to F) on a test and I cried and cried and cried.

When I got to high school, the stakes became higher. I learned about the triad of dreaded acronymns- GPA, PSAT, and SAT. 

*Shudder shudder shudder* 

I wore them like heavy chains around my heart.  I became even more afraid of failing.  On the outside I showed a smiley faced demeanor and acted like I didn't care too much.  But inside I was fiercely competitive.  School was the one thing that I was always good at.  I studied hard and wasn't happy unless every grade was some sort of A.  I put a lot of pressure on myself because I didn't want to be labeled the dreaded F word: Failure.


This September, for the first time in twenty-seven years, I'm no longer a student.  I'm no longer working for a grade and dreading what someone will label me.   (If you're interested in my decision to drop out of the PhD program, you'll have to wait a big longer.  I'm still reflecting on that whole journey.  That'll be for another post, for another day, for another blog...)

Now that I'm no longer being graded, I feel a loosening of the weights around my heart.  Gone are the scary nightmares where I'm back in school and *gasp* asked to take a ridiculous math exam that I didn't study for.

Now that I'm not being graded anymore, I'm giving myself a free pass.  I'm giving myself permission to fail.

Wait, strike that.  I'm encouraging myself to fail... every day.


Last spring I heard an interview of Sara Blakely, the inventor of Spanx.  (According to Forbes magazine, she's the world's youngest self-made billionaire.)  When I listened to her journey, I was struck by a story she shared about her father.  Every night he would ask his children to name one thing that they failed at that day.  Faced with this question night after night, Sara was encouraged to try to do new things every day. 

She learned not to be afraid of failing.  She also learned that failure didn't happen when things didn't work out.  Failure meant not pushing yourself to try new things, not pushing yourself to do and be more than the day before.

That story planted itself into my heart.

I'm going to fail at something every day.  This way I can stop being afraid of things and grow.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Parenting stories and tips

Did you ever have a week where you felt like everything you did was wrong?

I know I'm not a perfect parent.
And I know that I could learn a lot from other mommies.

But sometimes I find it so difficult to just smile and nod when yet another mother or nanny gives me unsolicited advice. 

It always comes about the same way.
            First, she asks The question, "How old is he?"
            I respond, "13 months."
            They seem surprised.  "Really?  But he's so small.  He only looks (insert number less than 10) months.  And he still isn't walking?"

Even though I've had this conversation several times, it always hurts like a knife to my chest.  Everyone seems to operate under the assumption that a healthy baby is big and walks around by himself.  

And then the ladies always continue with those two dreadful words, "You should..."

Stab stab.

I'm beginning to dislike those two words.  Yes, their advice comes from a good place, but sometimes I just don't want to hear it.  They don't know me and they don't know my child.

They don't know how we battled terrible eczema during his first year of life.  They don't know about all the allergy testing and sleepless nights that we went through. They don't know how we once had to change his bed crib sheets every night because he would scratch and rub until his face and head bled.  They don't know that we're doing our best to live and eat normally given (what seems like) our every-growing list of allergens:  wheat, soy, barley, nuts, and bass.   

I'm crying as I'm writing this, because it's just so frustrating.  Yes, I am a new mommy.  Yes, I have lots to learn.  Yes, I'm making lots of mistakes along the way.  But I'm sorry, sometimes I just don't want to hear your advice, well meaning or not.

Maybe my kid is small.  Maybe he should eat more.  Maybe I shouldn't carry him so much. But you know what?  Please just back off.  I'm already berating myself enough. I'm just doing the best that I can.

And lately when I've been getting like this, I always try to think back to all the parenting tips and stories that I do appreciate hearing. You know which ones I'm talking about.  They're the ones that make me laugh and remind me that all parents make mistakes, kids do crazy-funny-scary things, and we're all just trying to love our kids the best that we can.
Here's what one mommy confessed to me at the park the other day:

And you know what?
Her little girl looked just fine to me.

Thank you, cat food girl's mommy, for reminding me that things will be ok. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

On vomitting and being a mom

This weekend Baby Chuck wasn't feeling too well.  We visited a cousin's house and after lunch he vomited several times...on hubby.  Then, we drove up to New York to pick up our missing toolbox and he vomited again... this time on me.  Luckily, we had enough changes of clothing so that Baby Chuck and hubby could ride comfortably home.  Unfortunately, I didn't have any clothing to change into, so I drove an hour back home covered in chunky, yellow vomit.


Other moms can always describe this magical moment when they first felt like a real mom.  For some, it occurs when they first hold their baby in their arms.  For others, it's when they find themselves up at 3 am, soothing a crying baby who refuses to sleep.  And for others, it's when they first introduce their child to friends and family.

Baby Chuck's been in our life for almost 11 months now.  But, I still hadn't felt that special "Ah, I'm a real mommy" moment until this weekend.  As I drove through a fierce rain storm and a half-an-hour traffic jam covered in citric-smelling vomit with Baby Chuck wailing in the backseat, I felt this strong, protective, instinct growing inside of me.  It was my golden mommy moment!  I may have been a vomit-covered-mentally-cursing gal, but darn it, I was a mommy and I was going to make sure that we'd make it home ok.  

For all you mommies out there:  When did you first start feeling like a real mommy?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Birthday reflections

Last week I celebrated my 31st birthday. 

I don't know about you, but there's something about birthdays and New Years that makes me feel reflective.  Maybe you feel it too?  I find myself thinking about who I am and where I am and what I'm doing.  And then I dream about who I want to be, and where I want to be, and what I want to be doing in the future.

I'm currently reading Parker Palmer's book, Let Your Life Speak.  Here's one of my favorite passages so far:

"Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be.  As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human seeks-we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.  True vocation joins self and service, as Frederick Buechner asserts when he defines vocation as 'the place where your deep gladness meets the world's deep need.'"

I'm not sure where that meeting place is, but I'm going to try to spend this year finding it.

Hope you had a good weekend!