Wednesday, December 28, 2011

She's a "Can-Do" Girl

The other night, while other mothers and daughters were in the kitchen baking cookies and other Christmas treats, Hannah and I were pulling out paints and art supplies for a different kind of creation. Her painting was an "H" made of leopard print while I created the "Can-Do" Girl. I didn't have a destination in mind as I began my work, and by 5 a.m., when Craig (bleary-eyed and yawning) walked into the kitchen the papers and brushes and paints and stamps were proof positive that she was a work in progress. I think she'll be my inspiration this year.... the push I need to get past "can't." That's why I'm calling her the "Can-Do" Girl. Because really, we can do anything we set our mind to. I'm saying farewell to can't. Want to join me?

For more of my mixed-media art, I hope you'll visit my Can-Do Girl Web page. Just click here!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Yes, Christmas is Over, however...

I couldn't resist posting one more photo (make that four, I guess) before I officially put the trappings of Christmas away until next year. Each year as I place ornaments on the tree I think of where they came from. I have many dating back to my early 20s when I put up my very first tree in a garage apartment in my mom's backyard. I inherited some of her ornaments and have others that have been given to me or made for me by family and friends. For instance, the ornament in the top photo came from a Christmas party with neighborhood moms who used to get together and celebrate birthdays and Christmas. The Santa in the middle is a skydiving Santa. My sister gave me that one. And on the bottom is one of my favorites. A handmade creation by Hannah. Ornaments tied to memories make decorating for Christmas that much merrier.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Wishes

Christmas wishes. Do you remember how you wished for things as a child and held your breath on Christmas morning as you tiptoed into the living room to see what Santa had left? I remember the "Dawn" dolls that were wrapped under the tree, the drum set that mysteriously disappeared shortly after Christmas festivities were over, the Frye boots (circa 1970s), and the guitar that I never learned to play.

Hannah has always kept her Christmas wish list manageable, but I'm sure my mother spent months paying for the gifts she gave her three girls. Christmas was her favorite time of the year with its decorations, pretty wrappings, and giving gifts that she hoped we would cherish. Even as we got older, Christmas was a special time for her. One year, she bought us nice wall clocks. Mine still hangs in the living room chiming out the hours day and night. The last Christmas gift she gave was an angel. My sisters and I found them wrapped and tagged in her closet after she had passed away just a few weeks before Christmas. Now, December brings with it a mix of joy and sadness as I inevitably think of my mother and how much she loved us and our Christmases together.

I can't hear "The Little Drummer Boy" without thinking of her. We even played that carol during visitation before her funeral. And I always think of how festive she made her home, adding decorative finishes to each room in her house.

My wish this year is for everyone to find joy in each and every moment of the Christmas season and to spend the holidays enjoying loved ones and friends.

Merry Christmas from my home to yours....

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It Was a "Wendy" Kind of Day!

We usually never know "why" things happen the way they do. We make plans. We put our heart and soul into whatever it is we're planning. Then things happen. Things that are out of our control. You know the saying... "stuff happens."

A couple of years ago, I made plans to visit four of my blog friends. But it didn't happen. My plane was delayed and delayed some more. So much more, in fact, that finally, at 1:30 the next morning, my flight was officially cancelled. I gathered my things and went right back home.

New plans were gradually made. Peggy is making plans to visit me during the summer of 2012. Now, Annemarie is coming with her! And today, TODAY, I met Wendy! My birthday soul sister. In my state.

And I was late picking her up.

There's something about those best laid plans that, uh, somehow go awry.

The clock and calendar in my head were not in-sync with my plans. It's happened twice this week. Thinking I was supposed to be somewhere at a particular time, only to show up late.

But aside from the unexpected people-watching Wendy got to do, we were able to meet, and have lunch, and view the city while we chatted, and chatted, and got to know each other.

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than with a new, old friend. Somehow, seeing her in person made up for my cancelled trip from two years ago. Well, almost. I still think they had a wonderful time, and I missed all that.

Before I go, I have to tell you that Wendy is an amazing woman, an inspiration who is following her dream. Last night, I made this mixed-media piece for her because she had the courage to follow her dream. Maybe, one day, I will too.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks for ...

my amazing husband who doesn't let a day go by without doing something for someone else

my sweet father- and mother-in-law who raised a wonderful son for me to marry

Maggie who can make me laugh even when I don't feel like laughing

a daughter who brings joy to my life and puts a smile on my face... every day

pencils, paints, brushes, papers, canvas, and the courage to create

beautiful views of rivers and oceans and clouds and sky

a home filled with love and warmth and joy

colors of fall that only God can create

the spirit of Christmas with its traditions and sparkly lights

a good book that makes you stop, think, and appreciate

friends I've met through blogs and scrapblogs

having a job that is both challenging and rewarding

sisters who listen and laugh with me

Jesus Christ, my savior, from the artist Akiane


Scout, a loyal if not royal member of the family

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I reached for some paper this morning...

and suddenly the canvas and paints that had been calling my name were quieted as I began to work.

Papers that I had been saving for a special project seemed perfect for today. I used gel medium to attach a background to my canvas. Then I sketched my girl, painted her face, cut out her wings and dress, and attached them. I added a birdcage and distressed the papers I had used.

I was a bit worried about her hair, but I finally got that done, adding highlights then taking them away. Then, jewelry was added. Classic pearl.

Last night I mentioned to my husband that I just might paint our bathroom today. Well, I DID paint, didn't I? And between you and me... this was a lot more fun.

For more mosaics, visit Mary at The Little Red House. You'll find beauty and inspiration and something to make your day a little brighter.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Angels Walk Among Us...

Not just heavenly angels, mind you, but everyday mortals who touch the lives of others in immeasurable ways. One such angel is right here with us, my dear friend Peggy, who blogs at Middle Age Ramblings.

If you look through her blog, you'll see what I mean. She's a wonderful friend to young Joseph and his mom, she visited Rwanda, donating cameras to the residents there, gave away hugs in New Zealand, and most recently gifted my classroom with a flip Video camera. Awesome, amazing, generous... that, my friend, is Peggy.

Peggy has a passion for life and a mission to make the world a better place any way she can. How absolutely wonderful it must be to live with such zest! Thanks to Peggy, my students will have opportunities to create short videos based on stories we read in class. No more read a story and answer questions. Instead, they will be able to act out parts, extend the story through acting, and do so many things we haven't had the opportunity to do before. Having the video camera right there in my classroom will make it easy and accessible. I can't wait to get started!

So, thank you Peggy. Thank you for caring about my 8th-grade students and for giving them something to smile about!

For those of you who are teachers and haven't heard about DonorsChoose,! The site allows you to post projects that you would like to implement in your classroom. Donors from all over the world search for projects to support, make a contribution, and if all goes well, your project receives full funding. In addition to having friends and family contribute to my projects, I've had total strangers provide substantial gifts to help fund them. These gifts provided my classroom with an Elmo document camera, a laminator, and now a flip Video camera. With salary cuts and forced furlough days, I haven't been able to spend as much money on my clasroom. Thanks to DonorsChoose and people like Peggy, I've been able to use technology and create learning resources to help my students succeed.

** The photograph above is of Peggy while she was in Rwanda. Here, the children are watching themselves on video.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I may be two days late...

but I'm a firm believer in better late than never.

And even though we celebrated his birthday on his birthday...

I'm letting the world know

that my husband is the best guy ever.
That he works hard to provide for his family.
That he gets up early every morning to
prepare breakfast and pack lunches
and then cooks supper at night.

That he understands who I am (for the most part),
and puts up with the insane hours I pour into
work, or sometimes, just doing nothing
because I just put in insane hours
at work.

Who has been an amazing father to our daughter,
and continues to amaze me each and every day
with his generous spirit and loving attitude.

Happy birthday! I love you!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Forgot the birthday candles, again...

Sidney Lanier's, that is. Last year, I really wished that I had brought cupcakes to celebrate his birth. This year, I thought the same thing. Somehow doling out the money to buy cupcakes for 99 students doesn't seem like such a good idea. And bake? Nah.... That didn't happen, either. But it would be such a fun idea, wouldn't it?

We did watch a short video about the poet and read "Song of the Chattahoochee." That's going to have to be enough this year.

Happy birthday, Sidney!

Monday, January 24, 2011

So many friendships...

were created through Many of my friends here on the blog first met each other through that site. We would create digital scrapbook pages and visit each other's creations, leaving messages and "loving" them. That's how I came to know Annemarie (Mommy Victory), Peggy (Miruspeg), Wendy, and Julie (Octamom). Tonight as I looked through some of my scrapblogs, I even saw a message from Mummy McTavish! (I didn't remember that link; she probably doesn't either!)

I saw on Facebook over the weekend that Scrapblog has been bought out by Mixbook. I haven't visited that site yet, so I don't know the capabilities, but I'm kind of doubting that the scrapblogs with embedded videos will work.... Fingers crossed, though, just in case. As I looked through my creations, I had to take the time to watch the video clips in my August Rush scrapblog. I loved that movie, the music, the characters.... If you haven't seen the movie or just want to watch the clips, I'm adding it here. It should work at least for a while.

The company is allowing us to download free print quality jpgs of our scrapblogs until February 28. Books or cards must be printed by January 31. I've downloaded five so far. That's also where I make my blog headers, along with a little help from Picnik.


I don't like change very much.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

...feeling free

This is the first weekend since September that I haven't had to worry about grading essays. Talk about feeling free! I woke up today feeling like a huge weight had lifted from my shoulders. It's not that I don't enjoy grading essays.... I actually do. I love to read good sentences and paragraphs that really say something. I love to see my students become better writers. It's just that it takes so much time, I feel like I'm missing out on life when I have essays to grade. So finally, none to grade, none waiting to be graded. None. Instead, I have hours spilling forth in front of me with the freedom to do as much or as little as I want. And that, my friend, is what feeling free is all about.

Monday, January 10, 2011

It doesn't always cover the ground....

Snow days in the South aren't the same as snow days up North. For instance, it doesn't take tons of snowfall to earn us a snow day from school. A little bit of snow or ice and temperatures below freezing will do the trick. No snow chains on our tires down here. Up until a couple of years ago, snow days were pure fantasy for my daughter and for most of my students. Nary a flurry to coat our roads from the time they were four or five years old until they came close to being teenagers. Now, though, we're getting a little comfortable with annual snowfall, although I must confess that we had a little more ice than snow this year.

A few spills made it even more exciting....

Did you notice the type of sled she used today? It doubles as a boogie board during summer trips to the beach.

Nothing like a little repurposing.... and a day in the snow!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Driving down the highway...

you would never know that a long, winding trail lay hidden in the trees and vegetation beside it. The three of us traipsed along the trail yesterday afternoon, dogs in tow (or perhaps people in tow), as twilight began flirting with the last rays of the sun.

I had dropped back a bit, enjoying some solitude as the others pushed forward. As I walked, I couldn't help but make the metaphorical connection to life.

I noticed how at times the trail curved ahead of me, leaving me wondering where it was leading. Isn't life often like that? We know we are traveling a path in life, but we're not quite sure where it will lead. It seems we have to have faith to keep moving ahead, even when our destination is none to clear.

In some spots along the path, trees and bushes closed in on me, making it a bit more difficult to see my way. Vines hung low, causing me to duck under them. I even saw caution tape in a few places along the route. Caution tape. I guess the caution tape in our lives are those hunches we have.... the feeling that maybe this isn't the best idea afterall. We don't stop. We don't turn back. We just move along a bit more carefully.

And then, there are times when the path is wide open and easy to follow....

Even then, don't we wonder sometimes what would have happened if....

I think of Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken," as I watch my daughter on a switchback coming toward me... almost. It seems true that we can never go back, but we can come close to picking up the pieces.

And as darkness begins to descend in these woods, I look up to see a fiery sunset. A reminder it seems, that there is a light at the end of every journey. And that the sun is always shining, somewhere, even in the darkest of times.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sometimes You Just Need To ...

Write it down.
Live your dream.
Make it happen.

It's been a while since I made to-do lists
and checked off what I accomplished
each day.

Maybe that's what's been missing.
Maybe this year I'll write down my goals,
live my dreams,
and make it happen.

I hope you get to live your dreams, too.
Happy New Year!
The art work is my second mixed-media piece. I used charcoal to shade around the girl, her wings, and her clothes... something I didn't do on my first piece. The charcoal really seemed to add some dimension I think.