Monday, January 31, 2011

A Robotic Army of Love

Ethan and I had Art Class this am. He wanted to "make a craft." After a quick check to this amazing blog of ideas, we had our pick and set to work. He decided he would like to make these for his gifted class.
We decided to "kick" ours up with a bit of "Bam!" (Famous catchphrase of Emeril LaGasse). We added colored paper clip antennas (in the shape of a heart or "V" for Valentine's Day) and a decorative border punch to the base of the robot. Particularly like the "bubbles" punch for the "girl" bots and the ledger punch for the "boy" bots.

Fun project and with a little help from mom, mission is complete:

 I particularly love this little guy as the Starburst of "juicy" symbol makes it seem like he's smiling! :-)
Note: If you would like more specific instruction on how these little bots were created, please post a comment!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Ready to Roll... scrapping supplies out the door!! This weekend is my annual voyage with my Scrappin Sisters to a place where we can scrap the weekend away.

Last year on this weekend, I received sad and difficult news about a dear friend and my sister, who both told me (on the VERY same day only a few hours apart) that their marriages were in turmoil and divorces were likely to ensue. One year later...

...much has changed for the better. Both have since divorced. One divorce rather straightforward. The other...a nightmare but finalized. One is happier and has found healing and the possibility of loving again. The other is struggling just with the daily activities of life, the hurt still raw and stabbing. Please think of my friend and sister today and say an extra prayer for them. Even though much of our scrapbooking weekends are spent loving and laughing, there are also times when we just stop everything to attend to the needs of our loved ones who are hurting.

Because, that's what we as women do.
That's what scrapbookers do. {It's so much more than paper, scissors and glue people}.

Have a blessed and joy-ful weekend everyone!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Double the Pleasure...Double the JOY

So, yesterday we had a visitor to our household...

...this lovely lady who drove all the way from Chicagoland to visit us.
And although her sweet hubby couldn't make the trip (trade show in St. Louie) she didn't travel solo on her journey here...

...She came with this little fella. Spittin' image of his momma right? 

But WAIT...there's more!

Scroll down...

She brought along this little fella too!
Who happens to be "Little Bro" to the brown-eyed guy pictured above. (This little dude is the spittin' image of his daddy, just in case you were wondering). Fraternal twins they are and cruising, sniper crawling, kitchen ware wielding,  fireplace screen scratching fiends to boot!

I was so thrilled that Jan made the trip with her boys and that I got a chance to catch up with her on how much her life has changed since last March and since when we lived next door to them in Chicago in 2002-2004.

For those of you that don't know, let me fill you in a bit...These little twins were twelve gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, emotionally and physically draining years in the making! TWELVE.
Little miracles of love.
Makes me think of the quote on my recent One Little Word layout...

"A Joy Shared is a JOY DOUBLED."

Yep, that is pretty much the most accurate quote for these two little fellas!We couldn't be more thrilled and happier for Jan and Keith. They are the most prepared and awesome parents these little guys could have ever hoped for. I am so grateful and thankful that God answered their prayers, my prayers, and the prayers of so very many others, in bringing these two little fellas into the world.
True miracles from heaven they are!
More pics to follow soon, but I need to get to bed (was up a wee bit too late last night catching up with a very dear friend from afar!)  ;-)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

True Joy... watching your favorite team get a win and make it to DA SUPERBOWL!!!!! WAY TO GO PACKERS!!!!!!! WOOT! WOOT!

J.O.Y. in My INBOX Today

Just opened up my email and found this email from my Poppa Bear. Just had to share! Totally brought me joy and put a lump in my throat as even though my parents didn't not have a physical pickle jar under their bed, they did diligently work very hard and lived frugally to make sure we three sisters had every opportunity to further our education. They even earnestly offered up that they would work two jobs each if it meant us being able to attend college. Love my parents for that! And so much more.

I hope this puts a little joy in your heart today as it did mine!

Here it is:                    The  Pickle Jar  

The  pickle jar as far back as I can remember sat on  
the floor beside the dresser in my parents'  bedroom. 

When  he got ready for bed, Dad would empty  

his  pockets and toss his coins into the jar. 
As  a small boy, I was always fascinated at the  sounds the coins made as they were dropped into  the jar

They  landed with a merry jingle when the jar was  almost empty. Then the tones gradually muted to  a dull thud as the jar was filled. 

I  used to squat on the floor in front of the jar  to admire 
the copper and silver circles that  glinted like a pirate's 
treasure when the  sun poured through the bedroom window. When the  jar was filled, Dad would sit at the kitchen  table
  and  roll the coins before taking them to the bank.  

Taking the coins to the bank was always  a big production. 
Stacked neatly in a small  cardboard box, the coins were 
placed between  Dad and me on the seat of his old  truck.

Each and every time, as we drove to  the bank, Dad would 
look at me hopefully.  'Those coins are going to keep you 
out of  the textile mill, son. You're going to do better  than 
me. This old mill town's not going to  hold you back.' 

Also, each and every  time, as he slid the box of rolled 
coins  across the counter at the bank toward the  cashier, 
he would grin proudly. 'These are  for my son's college 
fund. He'll never work  at the mill all his life like me.' 

We  would always celebrate each deposit by stopping  
for an ice cream cone. I always got  chocolate. Dad 
always got vanilla. When the  clerk at the ice cream 
parlor handed Dad his  change, he would show me the 
few coins  nestled in his palm. 'When we get home,  
we'll start filling the jar again.' He  always let me drop 
the first coins into the  empty jar. As they rattled around 
with a  brief, happy jingle, we grinned at each other.  
'You'll get to college on pennies, nickels,  dimes and 
quarters,' he said. 'But you'll  get there; I'll see to  that.'

No  matter how rough things got at home, Dad  continued 
to  doggedly drop his coins into the jar. Even the  summer 
when Dad got laid off from the  mill,and Mama had to 
serve dried beans  several times a week, not a single 
dime was  taken from the jar. 

To the contrary, as  Dad looked across the table at me, 
pouring  catsup over my beans to make them more  
palatable, he became more determined than  ever to 
make a way out for me 'When you  finish college, Son,' 
he told me, his eyes  glistening, 'You'll never have to 
eat beans  again - unless you want to.' 

The years  passed, and I finished college and took a  
job in another town. Once, while visiting my  parents, 
I used the phone in their bedroom,  and noticed that 
the pickle jar was gone. It  had served its purpose 
and had been removed.  

A lump rose in my throat as I stared at  the spot beside 
the dresser where the jar  had always stood. My dad 
was a man of few  words: he never lectured me on the 
values of  determination, perseverance, and faith. The  
pickle jar had taught me all these virtues  far more 
eloquently than the most flowery of  words could have 
done. When I married, I  told my wife Susan about the 
significant  part the lowly pickle jar had played in my  
life as a boy. In my mind, it defined, more  than 
anything else, how much my dad had  loved me. 

The first Christmas after our  daughter Jessica was born, 
we spent the  holiday with my parents. After dinner, Mom  
and Dad sat next to each other on the sofa,  taking turns 
cuddling their first  grandchild. Jessica began to whimper 
softly,  and Susan took her from Dad's arms. 'She  probably 
needs to be changed,' she said,  carrying the baby into my 
parents' bedroom  to diaper her. When Susan came back 
into the  living room, there was a strange mist in her  eyes. 

She handed Jessica back to Dad  before taking my hand 
and leading me into  the room. 'Look,' she said softly, her 
eyes  directing me to a spot on the floor beside the  dresser. 
To my amazement, there, as if it  had never been removed, 
stood the old pickle  jar, the bottom already covered with 
coins.  I walked over to the pickle jar, dug down into  my 
pocket, and pulled out a fistful of  coins. With a gamut of 
emotions choking me,  I dropped the coins into the jar. I 
looked  up and saw that Dad, carrying Jessica, had  slipped 
quietly into the room. Our eyes  locked, and I knew he was 
feeling the same  emotions I felt. Neither one of us could  

This truly touched my heart.  Sometimes we are so busy 
adding up our  troubles that we forget to count our  
blessings.Never underestimate the power of  your actions. 
With one small gesture you can  change a person's life, for 
better or for  worse. 

God puts us all in each other's  lives to impact one another 
in some way.  Look for GOOD in others. 

The best and  most beautiful things cannot be seen or  
touched - they must be felt with the heart ~  Helen Keller 

- Happy moments, praise  God. 
- Difficult moments, seek God. 
-  Quiet moments, worship God. 
- Painful  moments, trust God. 
- Every moment, thank  God. 

My Gram's Sewing Machine

I have been emailing my friend, Lou, this week and the topic of sewing machines came up, how we obtained ours, why we like them etc. She and I both received ours as gifts from our grandmothers, hers, while her grandma was still living, mine I inherited after my grandma's passing in 1992. I was the granddaughter (out of more than a half dozen granddaughters) to receive it because all of the other female grands were married and already had machines of their own. I was thrilled to receive it (along with Grandma's cookie jar, and a few other small items of sentimental value).

I love my machine. It's heavy and durable and has withstood the test of time. It's reliable and easy to thread and to use. All of the parts are metal. No plastic, easy-peasy-to-break parts! Even the bobbins are metal. Yes, it makes it harder to transport to crops (that's where my lovely friend Lexi gets asked to bring her newer, lighter model). ;-) but those times are few and far between so I really don't mind.

Here are a few pics of my Gram's machine:
 This little pink number  from Elsie's shop easily peels off, but I like it 'cause it's just fun and whimsical and makes me smile.
 The manual she saved along with all of the component attachments. It looks as though I have nearly everything except for maybe two ancillary feet. (Not sure if they came standard but I found this You Tube video here: of the same machine-and the producer of this video was nice enough to elaborate a bit on the machine. Yay me!)

 Here's when Grams purchased the machine. Love that I have a bit of her handwriting and that she took the time to write out a few details. Grams was awesome about that!
So very grateful that I have this machine to remember my Grams by. So very thankful for the joy it has brought me, both in using it and the memories of have of my Grams using it. I love that we both have used it to make and create things for others that have brought the recipient joy as well. How cool is that? Definitely not just a heavy duty sewing machine but a multi-"purpose" one too!

Off to put more J.O.Y. in my day!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Joy on the Flip Side

Worked on completing the flip side of my collage for OLW last night. Waited until this afternoon when the lighting conditions were a bit better to take pics of.

Here is the "flip side" in pictures:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Craft Idea for Wee Little Ones

I received an email yesterday from a wonderful lady from church (I guess that would make her a "Church Lady" ) ;-) asking if I might consult with her regarding a craft project for some little ones in Nicaragua. Our church has founded a preschool for Nicaraguan children and has sponsored these children throughout each school year for the past ten years. I emailed her back giving her some websites to check out and told her that I would help out in any way I could, while still keeping the balance in my life. (I mentioned to her that I have a hard time knowing when to say "No" and it's something I've been working on. (Note to my friend Lou, across the Big Pond: "I know you know what I mean!)  ;-)

Balance...something we should all strive for in our daily living. soon as I hit "send" on my reply to little mind went into a tailspin of creative ideas and I ended up crafting out a little prototype for the craft class right then and there. I tried to take into consideration: the age of the child (although my Church Lady Friend said the mothers often enjoyed helping the kiddos (such a universal thing that's emblazoned in the hearts of us mommies, no?), the need to keep the cost of supplies to a minimum, the ability to pre-make some of the craft's components, the ability of the kiddos to complete the techniques used, time to complete the project, and the feasibility of transporting the supplies to Nicaragua.
Also, she mentioned that this year, in addition to the ability for our church families to sponsor each student for the year, our church was also going to be sponsoring + planting gardens for each family; as planting a garden for each family goes a long way to help them better their daily life! She wanted to go with a theme of "Reaping What You Sow." I looked up the Spanish translation (which will be printed out instead of the English version you see on my prototpe) of this theme. (Just an explanation of why it's not on the prototype. I want to get confirmation on the translation before I print it out).
Alright then, here are the pics:
The first three are dark as it was late in the day when I took them, and lighting is limited in our basement.
 Craft sticks, canvas, and my stash of yo-yos (I often work on them when watching a movie or riding in the car -I can't ever just sit still!)

Here we go, that's better.

Add photo of each kiddo where indicated above and project=complete!
{NTS:Now all I need to do is find my stash of jute/twine to hang the project by.}

From my Church Lady Friend:

"One thing I notice on my previous mission trips, the women enjoy doing some handiwork at home.  I might do this in stages allowing the moms to embroidery the stems and leaves at home and return the project the next day for the next step.  I know this project will be placed in a prominent place in each home and a candle lit as they pray for their sponsors.  It is truly amazing how the Nicas treasure such gifts.

5 years ago,  I returned to a village where we did some house building and the laminated photo of my family I left for my Nica family was still on a wooden ledge in their home next to a candle. They explained how they prayed for me and my family each day.  They continued to thank God for blessing them through knowing me!  It is very humbling to me to think this Nica family who was once living in a hovel made of plastic, cardboard and tin could be thankful for their new 25’ X 25’ cinderblock house and still thanking God everyday for someone who was once a stranger but was now their sister in Christ!"

When I read that, I just thought to myself, "Wow. I am so very blessed. I need to do more. I want to do more. Such a little handmade item made such a huge impact on the lives of the Nicas. Such a huge impact it had on my heart. Pull on one's heartstrings big time, huh?

So, just wondering, what little something can you do today, to make a positive impact on the life of someone you don't know?

Or, better yet, what little something have you done today, to make a positive impact on someone you don't know?

Please feel free to leave a comment, this inquisitive mind wants to know. :)
Blessings and J.O.Y,

Through the Eye of My Youngest

So, this am BOO saw my tripod out and my camera nearby, and decided he would like to have Technology Day for school.

"What do you mean Technology Day? What do you want to learn about?"
To which he replied,


{ still my beating heart!!}

 I replied calmy and collectedly, "Um...I think we can swing that."

And so, I proceeded to tell him about aperture and shutter speed and how the camera really works like your own eyeball (you know, flashing back to my days of a practicing optometric physician); the pupil being analogous to the aperture. He learned more about direct and indirect/inverse relationships and how changing one setting of the camera affects the others.
I tell ya, cameras are a great topic of study, you get art, physics. anatomy, math and more...all in one little fifteen minute discussion.

After we completed a little Q&A session, I left him to himself. I quietly went to work prepping for the next school lesson and honestly forgot he had left the room. He came back about 10 minutes later and set the camera back in the middle of the room, affixed atop the tripod.
These are the shots he captured and that I just downloaded into iPhoto:

First off...

...our little cherubim boy (or cupid) that we created this morning for art class. Love how the spotlight (sunlight) seems to be making its way to him.
 Like how he add artistic angle to this one below:
 Evidence of homeschooling exists here:
The cluttered, eclectic mess of daily living. Even got the pink lanyard with school "Visitor" ID that I had laced over the lampshade so as not to misplace it.

 He captured Mick practicing a tune for tonight's youth lock-in at church. Cool that he captured this shot authentically, no staging or awareness from Mick.

 Obviously the flash fired on this one. Digging the fact that he caught Hugsley feasting
 on his Lickin's. Love his tongue sticking out. Lip smackin good I tell ya!
 Bella girl. In full mellow mode.
 Obviously he learned a little bit about overexposure in the above pic and corrected it nicely below.
Not a bad start I think. Next lesson we will take on composition and the rule of thirds. ;-)

Environmental Beauty

My dad sent me this you tube link this morning.

It's about frazil ice in Yosemite National Park in March and April. Cool stuff!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snow Day, Joy Day

So I got the 5:25 AM to be exact (not a time when I like to receive phone calls as I am a bit of a night owl) with the automated message that school had been canceled due to inclement weather. I immediately crept down to the boys' room (quietly so as not to awaken our 4-legged family members) to let Ian know he didn't have school. Actually I was just going to turn off his alarm clock so that he could sleep in (trying to be the "kewl" momma here) but he stirred a bit so I just told him. He mumbled something that resembled, "thanks" and drifted off to Slumberland again.

I've been using the day to clean,  to scrap,  to catch up on bill paying,  emails, and other daily duties. The boys have played a bit on the Wii-Mickey's Epic Adventure and they did some sledding as well. (Right now they are gearing back up after a quick lunch to head over to the NDN's house to sled. Our neighbors have a bit more of a slope to their backyard making for longer sledding runs + more fun).
Here are a few pics from this am. Some are overexposed but I'm not going to worry about it-maybe I won't even post them. -lol All are taken through our muddled-with-canine-slobber French doors.
Any blur to my photos other than the natural bokeh from my fixed lens...yes, you guessed it...slobber!
 My Girls...Bella and Lily. Both rescued. One found within 1/4 mile of our house in the median of a busy street, a pellet lodged in her metatarsals, the other, dumped in our backyard at about 8 weeks old, bitten and riddled with infection, near death--in the bitter cold of winter!!!
They have a much happier life now, no? Can you tell they love their momma? :-) Look how attentive they are and no food in sight!

Love the little tidbits of snowflakes perched atop her nose and mouth. Lots of great sniffing and snuffing going on as she raced through the snowdrifts.This girl l-o-v-e-s the snow. You would think she was a husky. (She's actually basenji/boxer/boston terrier mix. No pitbull in her. (Although I think pit bulls get a bad rap-they are so sweet-It's ALL about the owners. It always is about the owners). Really. I got her genetically tested to find out what she was.
This girl looks like a husky but she's actually a lab/shepherd/chow mix:

She's our Sentinel. Keeper of the Property. Watch dog Extraordinaire. Here she is at work.

And Rudy, well, Rudy (our yellow lab-the only one with a pedigree of our pack) was out for a bit this am, but since Bella is high energy, I give him a beak from her now and then, good ole aging boy that his is. When Rudy and Bella are together it's high energy meets low energy. Think Foghorn Leghorn meets up with the Lil Chickenhawk. Is that enough of a visual for you? Well then, think Eeyore meeting up with Scrappy Doo or the Tazmanian Devil. Yeah, now you're getting the picture!

Clearly, the pics below are the shots that are overexposed (I didn't change out my ISO from it's indoor setting) but they show Bella fulling enJOYing herself, tearing through the snow like a greyhound.
Hmm...wonder if the genetic testing might have been erroneus?

 Here with her ears flopping up-I actually see the Basenji i nher (She does have many of the traits and personality of a basenji-it is what she is mostly made up of. -lol)

Happy Snow Day (Joy Day) to any of you out there that are lucky enough to have one!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Finally getting my pics posted of my OLW title page. Amidst homeschooling, taxicabbing the boys to their extracurriculars and domestic goddess responsibilities, I finally found a few minutes to complete the opening page/s:

 A little stickles to the joy for added simple/special detail:
 "Joy to you..." foil cut down from one of my holiday Dove Peppermint Bar Chocolate lovelies. Stapled with tiny attacher.
 Page nearly complete.
 Felt flat to I added a bit of dimension with K&Co 3-dimensional felt floral stickers.

Layout complete! Think this is one that I will enjoy and will stand the test of time through the years.