A February Project

I saw the sweetest thing the other day when a friend shared an idea for spreading the love this February.  For each day of the month (29 this time around, for those of you counting), the parent would stick a post it note on the child’s bedroom door with something sweet–a thought, something they appreciate about the child, encouragement–you know, something showing love.

It stuck with me for a few days, and while I love the idea of focusing on the positive and surprising my children with loving messages, something wasn’t sitting well with me.

And then it hit me.

The post-its.

We are no stranger to post-it notes.  I have used them in our homeschooling for quite some time.  They serve a great purpose and kudos to the inventor.  However, I know that nothing is permanent, and I could see those things fluttering down off doors, landing on floors, long before the 29 days were up.

And then there’s my sentimental side to deal with.  What do I do? Throw them away when the month is over?  I mean, I will have worked for 29 days to create the perfect message times 3, and then at the end, we just toss the messages?  Ummm, no, I think not.  But keep sticky notes?  There’s just no good way to do that, and it will contribute to the clutter I’m trying so hard to be rid of, so, hmmmm, no, not that either.

It finally hit me two days ago what the perfect solution would be.

Canvases.

At first I planned to paint 29 hearts on each canvas to fill in with the loving messages, but  I was worried about spacing and what if I wanted to say more on one day than another?  That could happen.  Today I decided to paint each canvas a signature color for each child, put their name in the middle and surround it with loving messages each day of February.  I’ll write the message, surround it with a heart, and hopefully, this will create something lovely for each of the ones I hold dear.  (I mean, I wish they’d clean up a little better, empty the dishwasher without being reminded, and put away their clothes for real, but I do hold them all dear.  And no, I won’t be putting any of that in my messages.)

I’m excited about the idea, and I hope it will go well.  I’m not even going to put a timeframe on when I write my message.  If I want to do it at night, I will.  But if it doesn’t happen until the next morning, that’s okay too.

After all, those elves just left not too long ago, and that was enough stress for a whole year.  I don’t need that whole “I can’t go to bed until…..” or waking up at 3 a.m. and running for a Sharpie to get it done before anyone else wakes up.

Just no.

This is about love and letting my people know how much they are loved today and everyday. Maybe this will start a new tradition, or maybe it won’t, but it in the words of my Mama, “It’s all for the fun of it.”

Wishing you all someone to tell you how much they love you each and every day!

Love to all.

The colors don’t show well in the light in that room but it’s purple for our Princess, Tiffany blue for Aub, and blue for Cooter.  Tomorrow we begin the hearts.  

   Note of Apology:  I was loading the photo from my phone into the WordPress App, and I hit publish accidentally.  I apologize to those of you who got a confusing non-post via email.  This is the corrected, edited version.  Sorry about that.  Best wishes to all. 

 

The Beauty in the Different

Today I got to do something that I love to do.

Paint.

I love to sit and paint.  Under the direction of a teacher or on my own–both are fun.  Both fill my soul.

Only I rarely make time to do it.  Today that changed.

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My version of Miss J’s Red Barn in Winter painting 

I guess it’s because I fell in love with this painting.  The red barn.  Or maybe it’s because it’s January and it’s always been a hard month for me, for whatever various and sundry reasons.  Or maybe it’s because I’m tired and I really just needed to get out of my head and create.

Whatever the reason, I made time for it, and all of the people I love and live with did what needed to be done for me to go.

Thankful.

When I sat down in the group of maybe fifteen people, our teacher, the fabulous Miss J, announced that none of our paintings would look alike in the end.  She told us that we would put our own spin on her original, and that was okay.  It was more than okay–it was desired.  Different was great.

As we painted the sky and then the snow, the trees in the front and then the evergreens in the back, Miss J never sat down.  She walked around the tables, helping and offering suggestions but mostly praising.  Always praising.  When doubts crept into our voices, our questions, she encouraged.  “You can’t mess this up,” she said more than a few times.  She also kept noticing the differences in our works.  “Every one of your paintings are different.  I love it!  You are all doing so well.”

Her kind words were empowering.  Maybe, just maybe she was right.  Maybe we couldn’t mess it up.  Maybe we could make something beautiful.  Maybe my wonky tree line isn’t so bad, even though it looks nothing like anyone else’s.  Maybe, just maybe, I can create something worthy of praise.  Maybe–could it be?–I’m worthy of praise?

As I left the class with my painting (which is still a work in progress, I’m not quite sure yet what, but it needs a final touch), I felt a lift in my spirits.  Miss J is like that–her buoyant, beautiful way of living just overflows and touches all around her.  Her positivity is a gift, her encouragement a treasure far richer than gold.  She created a lot more than one painting that we all copied today.  She created the heart of an artist in each and everyone of us.

Each heart looks different, but that’s okay.  That’s perfect, in fact.

Tonight I’m thankful for those who remind us different is okay–that we can be ourselves and stay true to that, and that we are worthy of praise.  Worthy of being loved and cared for.  Worthy of making time for.

Miss J is right:  different IS good.

May we all have a day of seeing the different in others as something to encourage and celebrate.

Love to all.

 

 

I Love That Wonky Pumpkin

Today our Princess decided it was pumpkin carving day.

She has been so excited about the prospect since she picked hers out at the Pumpkin Patch last Saturday.  Then on Thursday we found a pumpkin carving kit at the GW Boutique.  That thing has been burning a hole in her proverbial pocket ever since.

Today was the day.

I get it.  This is the first time she’s ever carved a pumpkin.

Mine too, as best as I can remember.

I have a vague recollection of Mama cleaning one out and carving it many, many years ago when I was very small.  My thinking is, after being a part of the carving today, that it was just too messy for her to want to deal with, what with four small children underfoot.

We all gathered out on the front porch as Princess traced a circle with a Sharpie around the top for the cut out.  Her friend Miss C was over, and she liked to offer her guidance.  *ahem*  I gently suggested that maybe she could let our girl do it her own way since I assumed Miss C had already carved her own (and expertly so, I’m thinking, from the suggestions she offered).  She graciously backed off with the suggestions for a few minutes but was sure to inform me that she was going to carve hers later tonight.

As my girl worked on cutting a hole in the top of the pumpkin with the orange tool that had all the sharpness of a dull butter knife, she chattered away happily.  Life is such a dream for this child of mine.  Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily.  Everything is the “best ever,” and today was the best ever because she was carving her very own pumpkin by her very own self for the very first time.  Ever.

She’s pretty awesome like that.  I think she got it from my Mama.  That whole “finding so much joy in everything” thing.

After scooping out the innards, something she let her friend help her with, she was ready to design the face.  She drew triangles on, again with the Sharpie, which in hindsight might not have been the best idea.  When one was a little higher and bigger than the other, she tried to redraw it, not realizing at first that redrawing wouldn’t help.  The lines would still be there.  Her friend made one suggestion after the other.  I was about to interject again, when my girl said, “No, it’s okay, thanks though.  I like the way it looks.  They eyes will just look a little creepier and spookier this way.”

I am so proud of her.  So secure and confident in what she was creating.

I’m proud of me too.

I didn’t say one word as she drew the nose.  “I want it to be a square,” she said.  And the next thing I know, this “mouth-sized” rectangle was sitting below the two wonky eyes.  I so wanted to suggest she make it into the mouth and not worry about a nose, but I didn’t.  This is huge for me.  My Joyful friend and I used to congratulate each other when we let our children create without all the assistance and guidance (okay, we were intent on redoing the whole thing) when Aub and her girls were little.  So to be able to sit back and enjoy the creation and keep my mouth closed?

HUGE.

Her friend actually did suggest the whole make it a mouth and create a smaller nose above it idea.  Wondering how my girl would react, I again sat back and listened.

Princess did not disappoint.  “No, I really want to make the mouth below there.  And I like the nose.  Lots of light will show through.”

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And she carved away.

The only thing I had to help her with (don’t judge me please) was getting the mouth out without losing the teeth.  She hadn’t cut it quite all the way through and it threatened to turn into a crescent shaped mouth.  But she had carved the teeth, so I wanted her to have them.  A few more sawing motions and gently sliding it out, voila!

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Done.

Mr. Jack O’ Lantern was finished.  A bit wonky, but that only makes him creepier.  And spookier.

Don’t you think?

Tonight I’m thankful for the privilege of raising these precious children.  I’m thankful for this middle one who is as full of sweetness as she is spunk, which makes for a sparkling combination.  I give thanks that she is confident and creative and strong, and I am happy she can hear criticism and kindly continue doing her own thing.  Most of all, I’m happy that what made her most excited about creating her very own jack o’lantern all by her very own big self was putting a light in it and watching it shine in the darkness.

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Because you know what?  She has a gift for that.  Letting her light shine, especially in the hard and sad times.

She got that from my Mama too.

Love to all.

Don’t Save It, Use It

Last night we had “Messy Church.” A kind and talented young man, Micah, came two weeks ago, (when we missed because of sick young’un, round two) and led the group in creating papier-mache’ globes. Last night he returned, leading the multi-generational group in coloring, painting, and writing on these globes that are to become “bare bulbs” hanging from the rafters of the coffeehouse where we go to church.

Our younger daughter was so excited. Art is her thing. She grabbed markers and had so much fun decorating her bulb. In the midst of all of the art, there was great fellowship. Truly light was being shared all around the room. There was a cake, celebrating the birthday of the church, and Micah had brought a treat, Orange Stuff. It is his grandmother’s recipe, and he shared that he makes it to stay connected to her. That right there. Precious.

One of the “bulbs” was designated to be hung for the children to swing at and try to break. It was already filled with candy–pinata time! Our girl finished decorating hers, and passed it along to her Daddy for him to add his own touch to it. She was so excited about the whole thing. She came up to me, “Oh Mama, I can’t wait to knock mine down. It’s going to be so fun.” I pulled her aside and explained that hers would be hung up in the shop, but that the one that Mr. Micah had was the one we would be swinging at. Tears welled up in her eyes, and sadness was evident in her voice, “But Mama, I want to do mine too. That’s what it’s for.” I tried to talk her into being happy that she whenever she walked into the shop, she would see her bulb and remember the fun she had making it. In that moment, she was inconsolable, but the fun of the evening caught up with her, and when it was her turn with the “bat,” she was all smiles.

It took a few swings and then, as pinatas often do, it lost its string and fell to the floor, still intact. A few creative moves from one of the older children, and everyone was squealing excitedly over all of the candy that was scattered around.

Candy and crimped paper.....y'all know how I love me some paper crimping!

Candy and crimped paper…..y’all know how I love me some paper crimping!

It was on the way home that I thought about the evening, and I wish I had done things differently.  Oh, I think in the end our girl will be tickled to point out her bulb each time we go to the shop.  I think it will make her smile and feel special.  But I wonder if I gave her the wrong message.

She was happy creating and making something.  And she was looking forward to seeing it in action, this thing she had put time and energy into.  She wanted to see it used for its intended purpose.

And I said no.

So often we have special things that we put aside and don’t use, saving them for a special occasion.  The china, the real silver, a dress, a special pair of boots, the handmade quilt.  I am guilty of all of these.  The sad thing is that it seems like the special occasions rarely if ever come.  And the things sit.  Collected.  Protected.  Unused.

This happens with our gifts and talents too, I think.  We have a skill, there’s something we are pretty good at.  Maybe it’s baking.  Maybe it’s knitting.  Maybe it’s organizing events.  Maybe our special gift is kindness and laughter.  And we let it sit on the shelf until it is NEEDED.  In a major way.  When there’s a sign-up sheet.  Sometimes we don’t see the value in using our gifts a little (or a lot) in the day to day.  We don’t use them for their intended purpose–to shed light in the world and love on other folks. Every day.

I have a set of fun dishes that it took me a while to start using.  All different colors with polka dots.  Oh I just love those dots.  And sure enough, in the using of this set, we have had three of the small plates bite the dust.   There was a time when I would have kept them in their boxes–as a matter of fact I did in the beginning.  But honestly, the joy that those dishes have brought me by sitting in my kitchen, making my children smile, getting excited over choosing (and yes, fighting *sigh*) their color plate or bowl or cup–that’s worth the sadness of the broken dishes.

So, no, I don’t think we’ll go and take the bulb down and bash it to pieces.  That’s not where this is headed.  However, as the bulb hanging down from the rafters of Bare Bulb Coffee will make my girl smile and remember a fun night when she created and did something she loved, it will remind me that life is short–that I should use what I have here and now.  For its intended purpose.  To love on folks.  All of them.  And not save it for a day or time or need that just may not ever come.

Our girl's light bulb--she decorated it herself.  Someone asked her, after reading it, who her teacher was, and she said "My Mama."  Yeah, folks "bestest," that's how we roll around here.

Our girl’s light bulb–she decorated it all herself. Someone asked her, after reading it, who her teacher was, and she said “My Mama.” She wrote, “God is the bestest.” Yeah, folks, “bestest,” that’s how we roll around here.