Project Life, August

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Project Life catch up from early August through this week~
And I still have two or three more pages to finish, but this week was too busy to get them all knocked out.

Niamh turned 11 this month (whaaaat?!), and we celebrated with a Yankees-themed birthday party this past Sunday.  Our kids are obsessed with the Yankees (they check baseball highlights first thing every morning)...So this was a really fun party to plan!  We even had a big family whiffle ball game.  

This month we went to the Philadelphia Zoo with friends and had a total blast.  We searched the whole zoo over for sloths~ and found two different ones!  Philly was on cloud nine:).  

We switched our bedroom with Philly's room...so we sleep right across the hallway from the kids now.  Which means they sneak over in the mornings after Phil leaves for work, and we all snuggle and watch tv for a while.  (We do share the room with Philly's guinea pigs.  But they only squeal in the mornings, so our roomies are working out okay so far.)

I am gearing up for another year of homeschooling.  I am excited about the coming year, because we have made so many changes in our curriculum. I'll post about it later in the week~ I think this year will be awesome! 

Phil and Niamh were reading The Giver together the past two weeks, and they just finished up yesterday.  We all headed over to the theater last night, so they could compare the book and movie.  It was 'their thing'~ but Philly and I got to tag along and enjoy the conversations about characters and plot:).  Now they are planning to start The Princess and the Goblin.  

Is there anyone else out there looking forward to Boxtrolls??  Philly and I can't wait~ Niamh already said she refuses to see that 'creepy movie.'  (She was scarred for life from Coraline, and I think this is made by the same people?)  Anyhow... it is a mom and son date in September, for sure.  

That is a peek into August with a few pages of photos, too.  I love collecting all the PL journal cards~ but am still trying to figure out a good storage solution.  Any tips would be appreciated... Also, does anybody organize them into categories??... Mine are stored in photo boxes (uncategorized), and I pull them all out every time I work on pages (which is a little annoying:).  I need help:).

Thanks for stopping by today!
Don't forget to grab a free iPhone5 wallpaper on my sidebar before you leave!!

Happy Tuesday!


Why Jesus Would Accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge~

I had no idea what the ice bucket Facebook posts were all about (just hadn’t taken the time to pay much attention to them or watch any.) Until my kiddos were tagged in one as nominees. 

The kids, Phil, and I watched three little kids standing in a tub, ages 9, 8, and 5, talking about ALS.  Then the count down by the parents, the icy water (the littlest guy was wearing a bicycle helmet~ which made this video like 10x cooler), and finally the screams and laughing. 

But it wasn’t just a random act of crazy.
Or an altruistic video of another family succumbing to social media peer pressure. 

The parents took the time to talk ALS with the kids.
Each of the children donated their own money to ALS.
And the parents matched their donation to another charity (for MS). 

In between all that good parenting and using a social media craze to educate themselves and their kids, the video grabbed my attention, too.  (Of course, because I was tagged in it.) 

Up until that tag, ALS was not on my charity radar as far as giving money.
That is not to say we didn’t know about the disease or have an idea of how it affects others.  My kids can tell you more about past Yankee’s players than a sportscaster on ESPN…so, Lou Gehrig’s name is in our normal conversations more times than the word “tastykake.”  Which, for two little kids, might be slightly abnormal.  But, it is true.

The reality is that I would not have donated to ALS without this (stupid, annoying, Facebook-feed-hungry…call it what you want) ice bucket challenge.  But we did donate~ and we soaked the kids.  Why the hell not?  We’ve never had a great excuse to take them in the backyard and pour ice all over them. 

The ice bucket challenge was on my radar at this point, so I started seeing the ALS Ice Bucket Backlash. I read lots of articles from both sides of the argument (even got side-tracked into medical journal reading about embryonic stem cell research*).  And if you ever want to get really pissed off at 230am, look up lots of anti-ice-bucket-challenge hashtags on Facebook.  (See #2)

From what I can tell, the arguments against the challenge come on two different levels:

1.  People who have family ties to this disease (loved ones have died because of it) who are offended at the fundraising’s concept (donate, but if you don’t want to, dump water on yourself and video tape it) and the blind participation by some people who just want to join a social media activism craze (but who really don’t know and don’t care about ALS). 

These concerns are real and absolutely warranted~ and yes, there probably is a (much) better structure for this type of fundraising/raising awareness… but, because we aren’t there yet, intelligent people will recognize that this ice bucket challenge is making a huge-HUGE- difference for ALS research funding this year. We all need to consider the perspective of the people closest to this disease, though.  And, at least from the articles I read, they are leary of the means, but thankful for the end result.

2.  Then there are the people who backlash every social media craze.  These are the hastaggers that had my blood boiling last night.  Because they can’t see the forest for the trees.  And the worst part about it?  Many of them are my brothers/sisters in Christ. 

They site things like~

No one knows why they are pouring water on themselves; it is a peer pressure/popularity thing (which makes this morally wrong).

Wet T-shirts never looked so holy.

What about the kids in Africa who don’t have clean water while you waste yours.

What about other causes and issues right now that you are NOT so aggressively raising awareness for? (that one usually has a political slant on it, FYI)

And my favorite and most moronic one of all:  Only give to the causes that have the highest rates of diagnosis. 

I can’t finish this post up without quickly addressing all of these. 

While I agree that if a person’s motivation by participating in the ALS ice bucket challenge (and even donating) is to gain popularity, it is not a “charitable” act by definition.  However, if I had ALS or, worse, one of my kids or my husband, I’d be happy to put up with the clueless, peer-pressure failures in order to raise both the money and awareness that has been built up in July and August for ALS. There is never, ever, ever going to be a perfect way for everyone in the world to be charitable without some heart issues being askew in that endeavor.  Someone might be donating while shining the spotlight on that contribution.  Let’s side with the many who AREN’T and who talk to their kids about ALS and who donate quietly on their laptop at work and who post a video and who care about sick people

because they are doing what Jesus’ whole life was about: Caring for the LEAST of these. 

The ice bucket challenge by nature is silly and ridiculous.  And sure, it clogs your facebook feed with stupid videos of people in wet clothing.  Chances are, you watch none of them (until you are tagged).  Here is the thing: page views on the ALS Association’s site were up 8500% during the first 17 days of August.  You might only appreciate this stat if you have an online shop or blog—so, let me clue you in.  That is INSANE.  If some act of abnormal behavior gained an organization a small increase in awareness, most people would say that might just be worth it (i.e., a marathon in high heels, a three day walk, etc.)…but to create a national wave of awareness around a disease that literally affects only two in every 100,000 people by taking 30 seconds to dump water on yourself or your kids?  Let’s call a spade a spade:  it is easy, and it is working.

The kids who don’t have clean drinking water argument:  when you find a way to get the water that would have been in your bucket for the challenge all the way to kids in third world countries, skip the challenge and do that.  I agree, that would be a better immediate use of your water (but still donate to ALS).  Also, remember to include the water in your third cup of coffee, your dishwasher, the kiddie pool in your backyard, your sprinkler system, and your daily shower. 

I can’t even address the “what about other causes…there are lots of other diseases, you know?” or “rates of highest diagnosis” arguments.  Mother Theresa put my colorful thoughts into profound prose:

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”

Also, read Jesus in Luke 10:25-37.

You don’t need to choose ALL the charities at once… and you really don’t need to cleverly pull hairs and preach from your legalistic soapbox about who is deserving of your attention.  Starting small and close works best.  If your tagged in the ALS challenge, I can’t imagine a more in-your-face opportunity to do something worth while today. 

If this was all the rage in the first century, and John the Baptist did the ice bucket challenge (because you know he would) and nominated Jesus, would He participate? 

I think so.

Jesus' death and resurrection are crucial and at the forefront of his work~ but He lived and ministered on earth, too.  He did not come to just die for my sins.  He lived.  He laughed.  He taught.  He served.  He is subversive and revolutionary in His approach to everything religious. 

The first time he stated His life mission he said this: 

God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,

Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,

To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”

And then He spent his whole ministry in the trenches,
alongside people who didn’t have a clue…
His closest friends and followers were often like the people dumping water
On their heads, but who know nothing about the reason why.
Jesus always worked beauty through the broken down places in his relationships, culture, and society. 
All the time,
giving us Kingdom glimpses of
what perfect justice and love and wisdom looks like.

We won’t get there~ to the perfection place, I mean. 
Not in this lifetime.
But I believe that God works in things that go viral.
He works in the unseen places, too.
Unfortunately, I think church people can at times really muddy-up those places
With intentions that stem from a selective form of following Christ.
If you are going to follow Jesus,
You need to live for all the things He lived for.
I think He would always choose the justice act
Whether that takes the form of dumping water on your head and donating to ALS
Or treating illegal immigrants with grace, love, and understanding
Or working for clean water in places that have none
Or walking three days for breast cancer
Or sending your last $5 to an organization that you love…
Better yet, continuing to sponsor children despite what type of lifestyle its employees choose to live. 
Because the Jesus acts of love and awareness and donating and justice don’t need to look shiny, neat, or even unworldly.
Jesus ate with prostitutes and tax collectors for God’s sake.
We are to be in the world~
Immersed in our society and culture…
But living with a Kingdom heart and vision.
That is the piece that will set you apart.

Until you can accept viral acts of stupidy that result in significant acts of care for the sick and see that with the heart of Christ~then you will continue to sell your Creator way short.

And your heart will be locked in a place that has very little to do with the actual life of Christ.

"The best word for Jesus' dream is that he wanted it to go viral. Jesus launched his kingdom dream at a wedding with friends and family. He didn't march into Jerusalem on a white horse or sail off to Rome to topple the powers that be. Instead, he set up shop at an ordinary house at an ordinary event, and he launched the kingdom dream with ordinary people."


*I have also seen the argument not to donate because the ALS Association funds research with embryonic stem cells.  This is a personal decision~ but should not keep anyone from taking the time to find a quality ALS charity that does not fund that type of research and donate there.  WE EACH need to take ownership of doing our own research and not defaulting to the lazy, often uneducated, argument that prohibits your donation due to the type of research being done in one avenue of finding treatment for this disease.  Many anti-bucket-challenge people posting about stem cell research are google-searching articles that are shallow assessments of the entire ALS research base…and do not have a clue regarding the circumstances surrounding stem cell research in general. 

To donate to the ALS Association, click here.


Driftwood Sailboat~

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I found this sweet sailboat project on Pinterest forever ago and thought it would be fun to share on here for you mamas who like to decorate your home with handmades from your kiddos.  Philly and Niamh both made one too, so we have them scattered through the house.  It will take you longer to find the driftwood than to do the whole project~ but who cares, the driftwood search is even pretty fun.  

Here we go: 

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We used painting dropcloth~ cheap and it works great.
Awesome driftwood seller on etsy (in case you don't live near a beach)...

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After you fold it, make sure you really adhere it to the dowel/stick...if not, the sail will slip down.

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Drill a small hole in your driftwood.
Don't do this on top of your new kitchen tablecloth...in case you go all the way through.
And maybe put a hole in the cloth.
Not that I'd know or anything.

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Now just put your sail in your boat and let dry.

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It is so pretty, huh?
Pinterest win-lose record after this beauty?
(Counting my buffalo-chicken-pillsbury-dough-roll a tie.  It sucked; but no one actually threw up...broke even on that one.)

Happy crafting, friends!!


Creative Arts Camp

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Last week I spent the evenings teaching an art class for the creative arts camp at our church.
We spent five nights talking about God's artistry in the world around us.
We dripped paint onto chairs.
And maybe spilled some on floors.
We glued fingers to paper.
Spilled paintbrush water down tabletops.
And somewhere in between the messiness and chatter and giggles, 
the children filled our room with beauty.  
Painted bottles.
Driftwood sailboats. 
When we lined the tables with the projects on Friday afternoon, I was amazed at what all the little fingers had made throughout the week
And thankful that my God is an Artist. 
That He has designed us to be creators, too.
And that, for some reason, kids are especially wonderful at creating~
That their pieces, with mixed paint and dripping colors, 
Were so much more beautiful than my carefully painted example projects...

I was reminded to create with the freedom and joy of a child.
Uninhibited with expectation.
And perfectly content with every marvelous imperfection.

...That perhaps the artist-heart of God is best revealed in the creative pursuits of children.


Triangle Art DIY

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We switched some rooms around in our home last week~ Phil and I took Philly's room (smallest in the house), and he is going to move into a sectioned off, half-room we are re-doing completely (later in September).  Our walls are pretty bare still, but I found an easy, cheap paint-chip project on Pinterest to add some color to the room.  The only cost was the frame.  

(Let's just pretend the room isn't covered in paneling from 1973.  It will come down someday; but in the meantime, we refer to it as 'retro'.  Not ugly.  Even if both are valid.)

What you need:

1.  Paint chip samples in your favorite color scheme.  And maybe some printed or textured scrap paper for an extra touch of fun.  (I used cork-board paper for a few triangles.)

2.  Scissors.  Or, if you want to cheat (don't feel bad; I cheated, too)... use a triangle punch.  It literally takes 99% less time to complete the project.  

3.  Cardstock.  

4.  Glue.

5.  Frame.  

Once my triangles were punched out, I filled in a 8x1o space on my paper with them~ just laying them out to figure out my color scheme.  Then I went through with glue, sticking them down.  (The ends of each row are triangles cut down the center.)  

Like I said, super easy.  
And I kinda love it.  

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It makes the perfect piece of custom artwork for any room, since you can use colors and patterns to match your decor.  Each of the kids made one this week, too, in their own color scheme... Pretty simple; simple pretty~ the best kind of project:).

Happy Thursday, friends!


Project Life, Weekend.

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Excited that the weekend is just a few minutes away.  We had one of those Fridays where you lock yourself out of the house for three hours.  And all your trash bags fly out of the back of your truck on the way to the dump.  And maybe you end the night by eating chips and cheese instead of getting on the treadmill.  

Here is to hoping that Saturday starts off on a better note:).

But, hey~ here are some of the past two week's Project Life pages... I don't know about you, but looking at beach and pig photos makes me happy ... even after a little bit of a rough day.  Such a sweet reminder of how good even the messy days really are.  

Happy weekend, friends!



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I was just telling a friend that I wish we had more coffee cafes around where we live... And even though I am in the car right now traveling, let's pretend we are in a cozy, artsy-fartsy cafe sipping on coffees with double shots of expresso.  

I'd tell you that I am gearing up for a creative arts camp that starts in a week... And I've never done this type of thing before, but I love it!  I'm nervous and excited... I've been working on preparing projects, and I'll share a couple on here because they are easy and perfect to try with your own kiddos, too. 

I would have to show you a photo of Niamh's new hair!  It's cut super short and pixie-like... and it is SO CUTE.  Also, I don't have to brush through massive knots anymore; so I am loving it.  I can't stop touching it... It's like my new best friend.  I wish my own hair would look that cute short. (It doesn't.  I've tried.)

She also got her ears pierced this week...and we got a bestie earring in the top of our ears, together.  She is strutting her stuff with new hair and new earrings:).  

Philly's new thing is that he wants to get "pied."  Like the baseball players do after they win a close game~ So, like any good mom would do, I promised him on his birthday I will smoosh a big, whip cream pie right in his face and make all his dreams come true.  

I'd tell you that we have only been to the beach once ---> ONCE! <---- this summer, and while I'm kinda bummed about that, we did have a great time playing with cousins in the sand and water that day.  When things settle down a little, I am hoping to make some major beach runs in August!! 

I'd tell you that I am piecing things together for homeschooling next year.  I decided to move in a different direction this coming year (departing from last year's curriculm), and it is exciting and fun to plan out.  We have continued math, spanish, and reading throughout the summer....which the kids have taken pretty good ownership of and finished each assignment without much prompting or help.  I almost (ALMOST) can't wait for September... 

I would tell you that I love digital art, which I just started working on in the past couple weeks.  It is a new challenge, and I love working on something new!!  I've never been good at painting, but this feels like painting...except it turns out cute and I don't make a mess in the process.... Wahoo!

And I'd tell you that I just finished reading The Way of the Heart, a book recommendation but this super hot guy I know who has a thing for reading... So of course, I took him up on it.  And wow~ he was right.  Maybe I should listen to my husband more often;).  I wasn't really expecting much from it, but I finished it super fast (it is short and sweet) and enjoyed reading how to create a more authentic and beautiful quiet time with God each day...throughout each day.  

I'd probably babble on about a ton of other things, and in-between refills of coffee, I'd totally want to hear about your summer (or winter;) too!  What good things are you up to?  Anything on your heart to share?  Please do... I love to read through the coffee post's comments the most:).  

Thanks for the coffee date!


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