Saturday, November 1, 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Show For Lukah

The summer show at Kelly's Bakery and Café is on display now.  I'm excited to share this with you but needed a bit of time to find the right words to share about the show.  You'll notice the pieces look much different than my previous pieces...that's because I had a lot of help making this show!!!

 This year my class was very responsive when they heard about others in need.  They were a chatty class but they loved with their entire hearts. It was a pleasure guiding their learning during the 2013-2014 school year.  As part of our social studies work throughout the year, we had written Christmas cards for the local cancer center, collected food for the food pantry, organized the Easter Seals money collection and collected canning jars for a dearly loved teacher at our school.  As we wrapped up our final social studies lessons the kids asked if we could do one more community project.  At our career day in May, an artist came to share her artwork and poetry.  That got me thinking! I had also been thinking a lot {A LOT} about Lukah, a former softball player I had coached, whose family was raising money for a service dog.  So, this show was born!

The kids created one of a kind artwork pieces. I had a lesson on collage making and using various techniques to create depth all prepared to share with them.  One hand went up as I started teaching, "Can we draw?"  I nodded yes and went back to my excitement to share with them collaging.  Another hand went up, "But is it okay if we draw?"  Again I nodded.  Back to stippling paint and getting the edges of a torn piece of paper to disappear into the artwork. The hand that went up this time belonged to one of the best drawers I have ever had in class.  I said, "Do you just want to draw?" I already knew his answer.

We started passing out paper and explaining how to plan out your piece to allow for margins with the frame and/or mat.  The kids didn't want the mats that were in the frames. They wanted more room to DRAW! So, we just let them go. AND they created amazing pieces that reflect who they are!!! I love them all so much. This has definitely been one of my favorite shows to hang.  We finished the artwork on a Friday and then I hung the show over the weekend.  Watching their faces as I showed them the pictures of their artwork on the walls of a local restaurant was incredible.  I hope that you'll stop by the café, if you are in Bloomington, and check out their work. It will be displayed through July...or until it is sold out! The kids' pieces are for sale for $5. In addition to the kid's pieces, I am making small pieces that are $10 a piece and all proceeds from the small pieces and kids' pieces go towards Lukah getting her service dog. .

So now I get to share WHY this show is so important to me.  For 12 years, that's a long time, Emily and I coached softball for the Clinton High School team.  We loved the community and family and especially the student athletes we got to work with each season.  Emily also coached for the junior high school team and I helped with pitching when I could {my first priority has always been to my classroom and fall was a hard time to get away}. 

Our final year of coaching brought Lukah to our team.  She had worked with Emily in junior high and we absolutely adore her.  She brings a light and a spirit to everything she does. Her smile and that dimple bring happiness to the saddest of souls.  So when the seizures started, we were devastated.  Of course we feared we had pushed her too much during try-outs week. You see, Lukah wanted to make the team and wanted to do it on her talent and not that fact that we adored her. So she worked so hard that week of try-outs.  Challenged the upper classmen and gave the underclassmen a run for their money.  It wasn't only her amazing heart that won her a spot that was her talent.  We were so excited by her reaction and enthusiasm to be a part of the team, we drove home on cloud nine. However, those clouds turned dark and scary very quickly.  I can't imagine the terror the family was in as the seizures started. One here.  One there.   Another one.  It is all such a blur.  She would come to practice on the days she was seizure free and cheer on her teammates.  Then more seizures. And fear came.  How in the world do we keep this child safe? What can be done? How can we help the family? What do we if she starts seizing and we've taken her with the team to Podunkville for a game?  It was decided that she could not travel with the team unless a parent came with her.  The seizures kept coming and we watched Lukah's high school life drastically change.  Through it all though, you can still find that beautiful smile and that adorable dimple lighting up the world for others.

So, when I found out the family had found a possible solution for helping Lukah get a bit of her independence back, I kept wondering how I could help them fundraise.  If Lukah gets a service dog she will have a companion with her at all times that can protect her from the seizures. There doesn't seem to be a solution of stopping them totally but the dog will be a miracle for her and allow her to return to things she's enjoys. 
 Please check out the blog that Lukah's mother is using to share the story.  She writes from the heart and, as Andi explained to me, "I write it from a mother’s perspective looking in.  Goal is to raise awareness about the disorder (and it also is cathartic for me to write to get the feelings out J).  My wish is for someone else who is suffering to stumble upon it and find it helpful."

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Here's the story {part two}

When your life changes you usually have absolutely no idea that a life altering event, person, conversation is about to be introduced to your little world. So going to pick raspberries and strawberries with my berry picking ninja friends seemed like a normal day. Until my friend started sharing about these classes she was going to in order to get her foster care license. She told of friends that had done this and now were on the path to adopt. Tears were steaming down my face as I listened to her knowing that this car ride, this conversation, this door standing wide open for me to walk through was not an accident. I don't remember picking berries that day but I was the berry picking ninja of the day as my mind raced. 

A research mission was launched when I got home and by September we were to start our foster trainings and home study and licensing agents being in our home and preparing our home for a little one to come. The official word came in June that we were licensed. And we waited. 

And as we waited there was this nagging little seed inside my brain that maybe we shouldn't give up all hope on having our own baby. That maybe there was one more doctor we hadn't seen, one more procedure to try, just one more prayer that needed to be said. So we jumped and gave another a try, completed one more procedure and were once again told that our chances didn't look any better. 

Over a bottle (or two) of wine we decided to give it to the garden. We have seen (a dozen times) The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Time and time again I've said, "let's do that! Let's make our list and give it to the garden." My passion for cheesy movie cliches and grand gestures isn't shared and I often get a confused, blank stare. But on this night, after a bit of wine and lots of talk, the agreement was made that we would give our responsibility in the bearing of children up. We wrote an agreement that we would no longer force ourselves through infertility treatments or discussion of what we would 'do' next in regards to completing our family. Instead we would turn over all trust to God and what was to be, would be. So we wrote the agreement. We signed the agreement. We gave it to the most stubborn, yet strong, plant in our garden- the oregano. We agreed that from that moment if one of us started to panic and think...I'm a chronic over thinker!...we would remind each other that we gave it to the oregano to protect and to be quiet and wait for God's plan. Then we turned on the sprinkler, after digging a hole beneath the oregano and dropping in our agreement, and danced in our garden. 

And peace came. A beautiful, wonderful, amazing peace entered my heart and soul. And I knew that we had so many blessings and having children to care for in our home would not make me a better person. I started to forgive my body for its imperfections and I began to love myself. I routinely counted blessings (friends, family, nieces, experiences, faith, safety, good food, the opportunity to teach, a school I love, all things small and big got counted). 

One morning, as I was leaving to teach summer school, I looked in the mirror and was genuinely happy. I was confident, loved and enjoyed the things I was doing in my life. My aurora was aglow and all was right with the world. 

If I could have known that moment was fleeting and just a short-lived moment. Two days later, our life would change. 

Welcome to my Fairy Gardens

It is a rainy afternoon and there is no place where the rain sounds better than on my front porch. While we are here, you should say hello to the fairies! 
No contemplation is complete without a favorite cup of coffee! I love her peaceful little face. 
The cup of coffee was bought with a teacher appreciation gift card from Hobby Lobby. The candles, bench, banner and fairy we purchased at this amazing little fairy shop in Kansas City when I went home to spoil my mom for Mother's Day. I bought mom several goodies for her fairy garden while there as well! The sea glass rocks were found at Growing Grounds as were several of the plants. Isn't that ladder on my Nell Hill yellow vase too cute?! My dear friend left me Jack Sticks in my mailbox the last week of school. I'm sure it is a game or something but  several of the pieces made it to my fairy gardens. 
This fairy flits around among the rosemary. Her bucket and water can came from Casey's Garden Shop while the flowers were doll hose accessories from Hobby Lobby. There are more of the Jack Stick pieces- a rake, hoe and shovel. 
I'm determined to bring back the ivy that is trying to die. It struggled to make the journey home from Kansas City and started to die as school was finishing up. Be strong little root! 
This vignette makes me smile every day! The old table was rescued from the side of the road. We threw it in the back of the Jeep while cruising around one Sunday afternoon several years ago. The wooden ampersand was found on sale for 75% off when mom and I were shopping for Mother's Day. The lantern we just got at Target as a sort of experiment. They have this whole line of solar power lanterns and I wondered if the work. We got one of the less expensive ones and I love it! It is perfect with these other pieces and then at night gives off the prettiest glow! 
I need a fairy for this pot. I've got my peaceful fairy in her garden, the flitting fairy working on saving her ivy and I need a playful fairy for the bike. So I guess I will have to head to see my mom so we can go to the 'fairy garden meca' together! Dad has to drive because it's super hard to find! 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Welcome back!

Hello! I've missed...well, the list of things I've been missing is very long! I've missed blog land so very much. So, I've returned.

 I'm glad you are joing me at my kitchen table again. I'm feeling inspired and ready to share this crazy life with you all. I'm working on pieces in the studio and creating in the kitchen. I'm sprinkling my home with happiness and stumbling through gardening. There is also a journey that I've been on that I'd love to share with you! 

Welcome summer break!!!!
So much love!!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Here's the story {part one}

Because sometimes you just want to clear things up with a simple answer...this is the long version of the simple answer (in several parts)! And I don't do condensed versions- they don't seem honest. 

For the better part of the last decade, my beautiful, stunning and amazing partner in this life and I have attempted to complete our family. We have seen specialists in Chicago, Indiana, Champaign, Peoria and our hometown. Each giving us different answers. Each offering varied solutions. Each leading to a dead-end, empty promise filled roads that were lined with gold we just didn't have to spend. Tests. Probes. Pills. Shots. Pictures. Scans. Meetings. Cat scans. MRIs. Three surgerical procedures. Tears. Lots of tears. But we stood hand-in-hand and took every blow together. The hardest losses were those we suffered when we thought we were actually winning. Those devastated us. Devastated our family and friends as well. 

So we kept busy. We both have careers we love and have worked so hard to cultivate.  We've taken extra classes, gotten extra degrees and taken hold of every opportunity we could.  Teaching is my true passion and there is no job I would pick over being a teacher. I love my students. The harder they are to love, the more I love them. I take this honor of spending my days with them very seriously but I always remember to laugh with them too. I get so nervous and anxious to meet them the first week that I can't sleep. Hoping that I will be what they need and that I will be able to meet them where they are causing insomnia. Then at the end of the year I cry. I cry huge tears as I hug them and send them to the unknown. When they come back to visit, oh! I just can't even explain that feeling. It's nothing short of amazing. 

We kept busy by coaching. We gave back to a sport we absolutely love. Softball gave us a chance to play outside and share our passion. First at different schools and then we found a small town where the players captured our hearts. We love our players and cared for them as they were our family. Hmm. Maybe we were completing our picture and didn't even realize it. We've cheered "our girls" on not only from the coach's box and dugout but from the sidelines of life as well. We've cried many tears of joy for them. And with them. We've been blessed. 

During this decade we've loved our family and created a circle of friends that are the family members we would pick for ourselves. We enjoyed dinners and holidays together. We celebrated milestones and consoled family members and friends over the bumps of life. When we have fallen down, there were others to pick us up. We've been blessed. 

Above all, we have created a life together based on love and trust and support. Our relationship is my everything. Having a love I can laugh with, shed tears with and who knows when to hold me or when to make me laugh is priceless. And during the past two years, just as in the decade of infertility that preceded it, that is where our strength has come from. Love and trust.