Monday, April 30, 2012

The Jealousy Monster is Eating Me Alive

I struggle with contentment.

I know, I know. So does everyone, right? But I feel like I struggle with it more than most.

I envy what other's have. I see my friends with nice houses, buying even nicer houses. And here I sit, stuck in my tiny townhome with a tiny back yard that I can't even plant a tree in. I want a bigger house. I want their house. I want their trees. I want their multiple bathrooms and their giant kitchens and their spacious bedrooms.

I see my friends with fancy toys for their kids. The walk-in closets filled with dress up clothes for their little girls. The shelves lined with every princess doll ever made. The play equipment in the backyards for the kids to climb on. (Note what I mentioned about my tiny backyard and the lack of trees? This applies to play equipment as well.) The motorized "toy" vehicles with yards large enough to warrant them. Our yard is not large enough to warrant a bicycle.

I see my friends taking wonderful vacations to exotic locations. I see my friends with swimming pools and large screen televisions and beautiful furniture and trendy clothing and fancy jewelry and magazine worthy home decor.

I see my friends pregnant with their third, fourth or fifth child and I cry myself to sleep at night.

The jealousy bug bites.

It continues biting until the very life flowing through my veins disappears. I feel I just cannot be happy unless I am them. If only I were my friend Lucy Lu who has the perfect children who never misbehave. If only I had a large house like Sally SoHo so I could invite the Sunday School class over for a BBQ. Sheesh! If only I knew HOW to BBQ. Maybe my gas grill just isn't large enough...or fancy enough...of maybe I just don't have enough of the right cook books.

And I cease living in the Joy of the Lord. He no longer is my salvation. I think these other things that everyone else possesses will be my salvation. I think their material blessings should have been given to me because then I would be happy. I dig myself down deeper and deeper into the pit of discontentment where the Jealousy Monster lives, ready to devour me alive.

And devour me he does. Head to toe. Until I am a miserable mess, left with no friends because who wants to stand by someone being eaten by the Jealousy Monster. They flee for fear of being eaten themselves.



Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-21


Did you catch that last verse? Verse 21? Here let me write it again. I love how the NLT words it.



"Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will be also."


And just where are the desires of my heart at this moment? Not in heaven, I can tell you that. They are at my friend's house. My heart is sitting in their living room, wishing it were mine. My heart is on Facebook, looking at those photos from last summer, wishing I were in them. My heart is anywhere but heaven where it should be.

And that is why I am not receiving the desires of my heart. I am desiring the wrong thing. I desire the material possessions God has blessed others with instead of desiring that which He has already given me. An eternal home in heaven. With Him. For FOREVER. A home that will never need dusted. A home with a toilet that never clogs or breaks. A home with a coffee maker that doesn't need descaling every 60 days. A home that will never decay or rot. A home that will be everything my little heart desires.

And I can store up my treasures there. I can actually earn treasures. Treasures more valuable than anything I could buy or own on earth. REAL treasures that will never fade or rust or be stolen.

So, I begin the process once again of re-evaluating my heart's desires. Shifting my focus. Checking my storage facility and making sure it is in heaven where it belongs. And someday, when I arrive, I hope I hear the words, "Welcome home my dear child. Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let's celebrate together!" (Matthew 25:23 NLT)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Artist Smock and Gift Set

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Chloe's dearest friend is having a birthday this week. She loves art. Chloe loves art. So together, Chloe and I came up with a gift idea any young artist would love. I found this art smock tutorial over at Make It and Love It and knew it would be perfect.


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And, as can be expected when you hand my daughter a paint brush and an empty paint palette, she posed for a couple of pictures and then proceeded to painting herself (for pretend, of course...or so she informed me).


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I chose it because the front pocket would allow for additional supply storage, making this a gift and wrapping all in one.


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We added watercolor paints, a set of brushes, a palette, oil pastels and some texture sponges to the pockets.


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I folded the smock in half and placed it on top of a ream of art paper which I tied together with satin ribbon.


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Chloe is so excited to give this artist gift set to her best friend tomorrow.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Maybe I Just Don't Have It?

Since we have started our summer break this week, I thought I would take some time to devote to my business. Yippee! So, first thing on the to-do list...list my patterns in my Etsy and Artfire shops. Done. Now onto the dreaded website makeover.

Sigh.

It seems that when learning something new, if you put it down for 7-9 months, chances are that you will forget what you have learned. At least such is the case for me. I spent an hour yesterday trying to remember how to access my Joomla site that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I created. I finally found it.

I then spent the next 5 hours building two pages and trying to link them. Done!

Opps. Snag. My font wouldn't show up on the preview screen. I could see it clearly in the editor though. Ugggggg......all that work.....sigh. I left to take a shower.

Shortly after that, James arrived home and I complained about explained the situation. He sat down at the table and opened the laptop. He clarified that I accessed the Joomla site located on my server, correct? Yes. He smiled at me.

Oh no.

Oh no. No. No. NOOOOOOOOO. He did NOT just find my site and login in less than 2 minutes did he? Yes, he did. What took me an hour to figure out, he did in less than two minutes.

Sigh.

He asked which page I wasn't able to view my font on. I showed him and he pulled it up. He immediately selected all the font on the page and lo and behold, there it was! The same color as my background! I could have screamed. I could have...but I didn't. He did find the problem, but would he know how to fix it? I think not. It shows up just fine in the editor. A nice black, brown color. He opened the editor, highlighted the text and clicked one button. ONE BUTTON. Save, and preview.

Sigh.

My husband just did in less than 5 minutes what would have taken me 5 hours to figure out. (And he didn't even watch the how-to videos.)

Maybe I just don't have what it takes? I smiled as demurely as I know how. I added honey to my voice and spoke gently and quietly, my voice dripping with syrupy sweetness.

"Could you just build my new website for me please? It would take you 2 hours whereas it would take me 2 weeks. I don't think that is the most efficient use of our time, do you?"

He replied, "But that is the only way you will learn. You have to do it yourself and figure it out. How do you think I learned?"

"But this was your FIRST time using Joomla!"

I don't get it. I really don't get it. Why does this come so naturally to him? The man makes it look like a piece of cake. I am telling you this straightforward. It is not that easy.

But alas, my dear and wise husband insists that I need to learn this on my own and build my very own website. From scratch. So that someday I will have it.

Sigh.

So here goes Day 2.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Adoption Homestudy Progress

We finally made progress! Hooray! Boy, when they tell you to have patience they really mean it. You just never know where the snag is going to pop up on the adoption journey.

Our first snag (and hopefully only snag) was the Health Inspection. Our agency informed us that the paperwork time-frame would be roughly 30 days. One month. February. We gathered all the papers and forms we needed in exactly 30 days. All, that is, except for the Health Inspection. Well, the agency would not assign us a social worker until we passed that inspection.  So, we waited. And waited. And waited.


Two weeks ago, I received a phone call from the Health Department, asking me if she could stop by in the morning for the inspection. In the morning? Are you kidding me? That was less than 24 hours away. I thought I would have at least a few days to prepare for this. "This is a rush job," she informed me. "We need to get it done immediately."

"Where's the rush?" I asked. "We submitted the application to you guys over 2 months ago. You cashed our check 5 weeks ago. I don't see the rush!"

Apparently, she had only received the application that very day. I guess they moved offices about the time we mailed our application so we got lost somewhere in the system.

Oh well.

James and I headed over to Home Depot that evening to purchase new trash cans with lids that close (the garbage man with some help from the wind breaks our cans to pieces) and a mat for our bathtub.

The following morning, promptly a half hour late, the inspector arrived and inspected our home. As she was walking towards the door, Chloe peeked around my legs. "Do you need something?" I inquired.

"Did we pass? Do we get to adopt children?" she shyly asked the inspector.

"Yes. You passed," she immediately replied with a smile across her face. "Congratulations and good luck on your adoption."

So, there you have it. We passed the Health Inspection and are now waiting to be assigned a social worker to proceed with the Homestudy. In approximately 4-6 weeks, we will begin the wait for our children. I am so excited I am about to cry.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Manhattan Dress

I purchased the book Sewing Clothes Kids Love a little over a year ago and have been dreaming of magnificent wardrobes ever since. The Manhattan dress ranked high on my list of things I wanted to sew. But alas, I just never found the time to gather everything necessary to create this luxurious dress. Until the week before Easter. I finally made it to the fabric store and Chloe picked out the cotton she wanted for her "Easter Dress". But James requested that I not spend my entire Saturday afternoon prior to Easter sewing the dress. He wisely advised me to purchase a dress that afternoon so I would be able to get a decent amount of sleep before Easter morning. As much as it saddened me, I finally agreed that maybe having a store bought dress for Easter (yet again) would not be the worst motherhood moment ever.

So, I took my time sewing this dress. Two weeks actually. I spent hours embellishing and trimming it. I acknowledge now that I most likely would not have had the time to embellish it quite to this extent had I stayed up all night Easter Eve.



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The most important feature of this dress (at least in my 7 year old daughter's opinion) is the twirlability. This dress has massive amounts of twirl sewn in. How delightful!



Twirl 1

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My favorite feature is the ribbon roses sewn onto the dress. They were so incredibly simple and yet add such stunning elegance to the dress, it takes my breath away.



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I also love the sewn in loops for the ribbon ties down the back.



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I added a ruffle of pink tulle around the trim of the skirt lining and sewed a length of grossgrain ribbon over the seam with dainty pre-made ribbon roses interspersed along the edge.

And then came the headband. I browsed the internet for the perfect adornment to compliment this dress. I found this simple headband tutorial that would utilize my leftover fabric from the dress and thought it was perfect.



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Chloe says that she feels like she is going to a ball when she wears this dress.



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And here is a rose for you. Thank you for visiting today.



Manhattan dress and rose

The Balancing Act

A young lady enters the circus ring. She steps over to the balancing beam and begins to stretch her arms over her head, holding each pose for a few seconds. She then approaches the beam. Up she hops and after a few seconds of teetering she gains her balance. Gracefully she walks the entire length of the beam and the crowd cheers her performance.

The crowd hushes as the young lady turns and begins to flip through the air, landing back onto the beam with each fluid execution. Amid quiet "ohh's" and "ahh's" of amazement, the acrobat reaches the other end of the beam.

Suddenly, from somewhere in the crowd, a bright purple ball hurtles toward the young lady. No one saw who threw the ball, but our talented young acrobat caught the ball mid-flight and continued her whirling along the beam. Not long after, another ball came flying from the crowd toward the young lady. Then another. The crowd cheered. The acrobat could now do nothing but try to keep her balance as she walked along the beam, juggling the three balls in the air above her.

Inspired, the crowd began throwing bowling pins and tissue streamers at her, expecting her to catch each one and yet remain balanced on the beam. A young man from the second row began chanting for the acrobat to jump and flip in the air while juggling the balls, pins, streamers and other items she carried. The crowd picked up the chant. Fear surfaced on the young acrobat's face. She knew it was impossible. What the crowd expected of her was too much. She couldn't do it.

But the cries grew louder and more insistent. She felt she must, to keep the crowd happy. She was, after all, performing for them. And so, she attempted the impossible. To fly through the air while juggling everything the crowd had tossed her way and land on her feet.

Immediate silence fell while the crowd watched in horror as the young acrobat stumbled and slipped from the beam. One by one, they began to file out of the circus tent, looking for something more exhilarating to watch. The young acrobat was left sitting on the ground in center ring, trying to pick up all the scattered items that fell with her. Tears streamed down her face as she contemplated her failure. Maybe she should have tried harder. Maybe if she had practiced more she could have done it. Maybe....maybe...

And then the Ringmaster entered the ring and walked over to where she sat. He knelt down in front of her and lifted her eyes to His.

"You weren't supposed to perform for the crowd," He gently stated. "You were performing for me. You were to carry out the task I gave you. When you began catching everything the crowd threw at you and started listening to what their standards were for your act, you fell. You can never please the crowd. They will always want more from you than you are able to give."

The Ringmaster took the acrobat's hand and lifted her to her feet. Together they walked out of the ring, leaving behind all the expectations of the crowd. The acrobat knew that she could do what the Ringmaster gave her to do. He would never give her more than she could handle. He would never expect her to balance everything like the crowd had asked. And her simple performance would please Him.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Earth Day Cake

I love cake. Maybe you already knew this. But I just thought I should say it again because this is an extremely important fact to make note of. I love cake! I wish people wouldn't give me such a hard time over my consumption of cake or I would eat it more. Really, I could bake a cake for every holiday. Oh. Today is Friday? I have a cake for that.

 Yes, I love cake. I dream of being a cake designer someday. Pipe dreams. Mere pipe dreams. I am so far away from achieving this dream that I might as well join the Olympics this summer. (And anyone who knows me knows how ludicrous that would be, since I am basically a couch potato for all intents and purposes)

 Since we celebrated Earth Day yesterday, in the rain, I decided to whip up an earth cake.


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Chloe mixed up a french vanilla cake mix. We divided the batter in half and stirred in blue and green icing colors. I baked the cake in half of my sport ball cake pan.

 
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Now, in theory, this should have worked. But I found that my blue batter did not make it to the crust of my cake. Only the green. So, in order to see the vibrant colors of our "earth", I had to cut the cake in half. Hmmmm...I will have to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. Meanwhile, we ate the cake.

 
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Happy Earth day! Since we received quite the downpour yesterday, we will pick up trash in our neighborhood today.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bird Nest Infatuation

I have always loved seeing bird nests used in spring decor. And while I have never decorated my home much for holidays, this year I longed for some nests. And once I got started, I couldn't stop myself. I filled every bare shelf with nests and eggs.
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I found a tiny nest at Hobby Lobby to put inside this lidded, glass vase. I added some moss and a few teensy tiny robin eggs.
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I just could not resist make a pink nest. Okay. So I know they don't actually exist in nature (I hope/wish I am wrong on this point) but this girly-girl must have some pink in her spring decor. For the nest, I just used a pink, floral garland I bought at Michaels. I left it in the wreath form it came home from the store in and tucked a couple of "rounds" down into the middle of the "nest" to hold the eggs. (I know. I am totally botching up that explanation and it makes no sense whatsoever, but I am sure you can see what I did in the picture.)
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For a more woodland whimsical nest I used a twig wreath. After cutting the twine that held it in the circular shape, I finagled it into somewhat of a nest-like shape and added some natural "balls" I've had lying around. I added bits of moss into this wreath as well.
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I brought out the centerpiece I used for Chloe's Bird Themed tea party we threw last summer to add to my spring decor. I placed my mossy bunnies next to it for Easter.
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I saw this project sheet at Hobby Lobby while I was perusing the nest section looking for tiny eggs. It wasn't a nest but I needed to make it anyway. Maybe I can use it in the future if I can ever talk Chloe into her Woodland Fairy Garden Tea Birthday Party. So, these are my spring decorations. I am pleased to say that I had them out and on the shelves in plenty of time for Easter. I think they were finished at least two weeks prior to the holiday. (This is some kind of record for me.) Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for Chloe's Easter dress. I am still working on the details today. We shall just call it a "Post-Easter" dress.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Easter Weekend Part 2

We are scrambling to finish up school next week. Whew! What a whirlwind. Anyways, this storm of activity has prevented my blogging lately. I am sorry. I will try to play catch up today.

Easter Day. I love Easter. It's my favorite Holiday.

Jesus came to earth as an infant. He suffered affliction. He died a gruesome death on the cross. But the grave could not keep him. Oh No! Death could NOT hold him. My Lord Jesus Christ AROSE! He is alive! He is waiting for me in heaven so I can spend eternity with Him. Hallelujah!



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This was our first year giving Chloe an actual "Easter basket" with a few little gifts in it. I found a stuffed bunny that I knew she would just love, along with a bunny and a chick figurine for the basket. I also bought a doll outfit for her American Girl doll and included a couple other little trinkets in the basket...oh...like malted eggs. Yum! (I ate most of them...ahem...)

After our church service, James and I hid eggs throughout the house and garden for Chloe to find.


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I feel it necessary to say that I believe myself to be infinitely superior to James in our ensconcing abilities. Judge for yourself. Here are two of my locations.


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One egg hidden in the lamp.

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One egg hidden in the nest, camouflaged with the decorative eggs in similar colors



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Four of James eggs, hidden in a giant, open box....one egg in each corner. FOUR EGGS! In one location. Need I say more????


But Chloe didn't seem to mind. She enjoyed the egg hunt with all exuberance.


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Happy Easter to you all. I hope you had a blessed holiday. Summer is just around the corner so I plan to have more projects completed and ready to show you soon. Hooray!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter Weekend Part 1

I love Easter! It's my favorite holiday. We celebrate a risen Savior.

Saturday we meet another family at our local doughnut store. Our family visits this bakery every Saturday morning for our doughnuts and coffee. It's a tradition. This particular Saturday a bunny visited the store as well.


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Chloe thoroughly enjoyed decorating her doughnut after the baker added PINK icing. (Of course...could there be any other appropriate color choice? I think not!)


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After our delicious, pink breakfast, we headed over to Home Depot for the celebrations there. An Easter egg hunt ensued.


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After dancing around a hay-filled square and gathering about 15 eggs each, the kind hostess informed us that they could "find" two eggs each. (The eggs were thrown into the straw from the sidelines whenever children entered the area. Chloe was not properly challenged, in my opinion. She seemed quite pleased, however, so I shall not complain to management.)


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James stood in line for face painting so Chloe could get her face hand painted. (I think she decided the hand would be more visible to herself or something...)


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Once the penguin was in place, Chloe and her Daddy built a bird feeder together.


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After an impromptu shopping trip to pick up an Easter dress for Chloe (James worried I would stress out trying to sew an entire Easter dress in one afternoon...I hesitated before agreeing he might possibly be right), we arrived home in time to glitter our eggs.


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Six eggs took a bath in regular dye. Five took a bath in GLITTER filled dye. (How fancy!) One lone, little egg was left for James to create his own artwork on. He poured every color onto the egg over and over and over...


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...and over and over and over To the amazement of Chloe, James produced a sort of tie-dyed egg.


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While James appears completely bored in these pictures, it is my belief that he actually enjoyed himself immensely. This tradition brings up all sorts of childhood memories for him and he was pleased to share those stories with Chloe. I was pleased to hear them as well, since James doesn't have the best memory and I rarely get to hear about his childhood as a consequence.

I held the eggs for Chloe as she attached sequins to them with glue.


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What a lovely, celebration we had preparing for Easter!


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