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My first “Rebeca project”

My friend Rebeca is the Creative Dominican. She is super talented (you can buy her stuff on facebook for a limited time). I told her if I ever tackled a project inspired by her, I would post pictures, so here it is! I finally came across a wood item that would work for a project.

My son’s bed is lofted so he collects books in his bed (and they fall down on the floor with a THUMP in the middle of the night). I was going to buy some IKEA spice racks, ala Pinterest. But, I came across this apple box at Goodwill for $3. I sanded it to soften the edges.

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Following Creative Dominican‘s instructions, I painted the edges with a brown craft paint.

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After it dried, I painted a middle stripe with wall paint (Pittsburgh Constellation), a reverse of my son’s room which is light blue with a dark blue stripe. I forgot to add Vaseline as a distressor, so I dry-brushed brown on top of it on the edges.

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Then, I applied Vaseline on the edges before I applied the dark blue wall paint (Pittsburgh Star Spangled). Once it was thoroughly dried, I sanded it all over.

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Finally, it needed some support. I sent my husband to Menards for $.99 L brackets and he came home with $3 fancy brackets that were a bit bigger and much nicer. More than I wanted to spend, but it was probably for the best since it was a big enough box to hold some heavy books and I was thankful he did this errand for me. Then, he helped me make sure it was anchored into the wall securely. See, Snowball is safe (my son put the books in there so it’s okay that they are upside down).

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See how proud he is? Once I started this project, he asked every day when I was going to put it up. There’s no better reward for a project like this than a happy smile. Love you, Charlie Bear.

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A Post about Poop

I don’t own a dog. Not yet anyway. We are on the fast track to doggie ownership and I don’t see any way around it. I mean, how can we resist when my daughter has not only been begging for years but also tells me, while having a discussion about the types of dogs she likes best and those doesn’t like as well (for the record, beagles and shih tzus top the list): “Mom, I want to get a sad dog and make him happy.” Still makes me tear up just thinking about it.

The problem is that dogs poop. They also smell, try to lick my face, chew my precious things and bark. But none of this compares to my disgust of dog poop. Don’t get me wrong, even I think dogs—and especially puppies—are cute. But I’m talking about poop here. Poop. It’s gross. You know this, I know this, everyone knows this. I don’t even like to talk about it much less deal with it. My parents remind me almost every time we visit (we just spent 5 glorious sun-filled days in Arizona) about how mad I would get when every night at the dinner table, there would be some discussion about the dog’s business. Really? Now? Can we at least wait until after I finish my Hamburger Helper please? Thankyouverymuch.

If there was some way to make the dog clean up after himself, I’d be all for that. But dogs are blissfully unaware of how gross it is to have their waste in my yard. Instead, I will definitely do my best attempt to make puppy poopy pick-up the kids’ jobs. There has to be some “responsibility” to bring down the excitement of a new pet, right? And the only thing worse than cleaning up the poop is leaving it, turning the yard into a mine zone of excrement. No, thanks. I also like the idea of making the dog carry the little baggies needed for walks in the neighborhood (yes, dogs poop in other people’s yards, too!). I think he can at least do that much after the “master” has cleaned up after him. I don’t think there’s much less disgusting task than swinging around the dog’s poop bag as I walk down my street (there’s really no way to be discreet about it either).

But, in the end, I know how this works out. It will be me. I’ll be picking up poop. And carrying poop bags. And bathing the dog. And getting licked in the face. And I’m sure it will be all worth it. At least the economy will get a boost with the upswing in sales of Softsoap and hand sanitizer. But most of all, my little girl (who seems less little every day) will get to make a sad puppy, happy.

PS By the way, this post is the result of a challenge from a friend to write about poop. So, please rate me 1-10 to let me know how I did. Of course, I’ll consider any rating at all a success because it meant you read to the end of this post.

What’s new?

New house.
New kitchen.
New entryway closet.
New neighborhood.
New schools.
New lamps, rugs and curtains.
New just about everything …
except me.
Everything is new and different, but I am still the same.
I’m still me.
Lonely.
Confused.
Sad and selfish.
Frustrated, discouraged, distracted.
Same old me.

Inside the Box

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Companies are thinking outside of the box to develop innovative ideas that benefit the environment at all stage of lifecycle … including inside the box. By finding such alternatives, companies can make a difference behind the scenes, with little consumer education or influence. Available sustainable packaging materials for shipping are 100 percent bio-based, including bamboo, rice, palm, and sugarcane. They are inexpensive and reduce energy and water use as well.

Ecovative, for example, offers molded pulp from mushroom fibers—grown on a farm—for protective packaging in lieu of plastic foam. The company is able to upcycle very low value waste products into renewable and home compostable packaging.

Mushroom Packaging is made from agricultural byproducts bonded together with mushroom “roots” called mycelium. “This technology is a radical departure from traditional bioplastics,” according to environmental director Sam Harrington.

Designers will customize Mushroom Packaging for individual applications. “Mushroom technology is a great way to protect glass bottles and cosmetic gift sets,” explained Harrington. “It’s an alternative that performs just as well, is cost-competitive, and provides a beautiful natural material that can be home-composted.”

Such sustainable packaging options deliver both tangible benefits and emotional rewards, allowing consumers to contribute without forcing them to step outside their comfort zone. 

But not everyone needs to make radical modifications to make a difference. “Everyone has the ability to shift in the direction of eco-innovation by starting small and building over time,” said cosmetics entrepreneur Kari Gran. From material to manufacture and from distribution to disposal or recycling, brands have opportunities to reduce their products’ impact on the environment one step at a time.

Sustainable packaging isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.

Read more about eco opportunities for product packaging in the June 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

Ask the right question

God did not send Jesus to live on the earth and die on the cross for the purpose of your redemption. At least not the way I used to think. It is clearly written in His Word, in Romans, that God sent Jesus not to save us, but to show His righteousness. For His glory. In the process, we were redeemed, but we were not the purpose. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s not about us.

Reflecting on this truth recently, while in turmoil about finding a new home for our family, I realized I was asking the wrong questions. It’s not: “Will we fit in?” “What best satisfies the needs of our family?” “How can we get the best value for our dollar?”

Instead, the question we should be asking is how can we honor God with our decision. What will glorify Him?

We don’t know the answer to that either yet but I feel certain that if we seek after Him first, we will be right where God wants us. By setting my heart to desire His will and not the “thing” I’m looking to fulfill my desires, He will meet our needs better than I ever could imagine.

“For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:22b-26

Free to fail

As a perfectionist, failure is not an option. I am afraid of failure. As a mom, a writer, a wife, a friend, a coach, a mentor. Even though I fail–continuously, I don’t acknowledge or admit it very often. But what I have come to learn is that failure is not optional … because it’s required.

To reach perfection, you must fail. To do anything otherwise is to come close maybe, but yet be so far. Because it’s just not possible to be perfect. At least not on my own.

If fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, failure is the beginning of perfection. Because failure is how we come to know and experience and rely on God. In the midst of failure, we see God because we are not distracted by our own “glorious” self. Failure, according to Webster’s, is “to fade or die away, to be inadequate, lack, to leave undone … a defect in character or ability.” Call it what it is: failure is the inability to accomplish on my own. If I can be perfect–or think that I can–I don’t need God. When I fail, I know I need Help (yes, that’s Help with a capital “H”).

When I recognize myself as the failure I am, only then can God accomplish perfection for me. Jesus was perfect so I don’t have to be. Free to fail.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

Christmas compassion

It was Saturday afternoon. I was walking around the Dollar Store with Avery as she prepared a “girl” box for Operation Christmas Child. She was sorting through the hair accessories to find just the right pretty things to add to her box, which already had a stuffed animal, cute socks, ring pops and Hello Kitty toiletries, while dad and Charlie were going through school supplies. She asked me quietly: “What about the mom?” I hesitated at first. But realizing what she said, and feeling tender-hearted at her question, I bent down to see her face to face. With eyes tearing up, I hugged her with one arm and said: “Oh, honey, the mom’s gift is seeing her child smile and to watch her child receive a fun box to open.” She nodded and smiled. I knew she understood.

Christmas is a great time to instill a heart for giving and to put into perspective how rich and blessed we truly are. We had talked plenty about these needy children. Both kids were excited about the “big” bag of goodies we went home with to fill the boxes, so we didn’t pass up the opportunity to contrast that with the pile of gifts they get each year for birthdays, Christmas and who knows what else …

The next day, we went through the Samaritan’s Purse gift catalog as a family. As part of our Christmas shopping last year, we included gifts for those in need and continued the tradition this year, each of us making selections.

Avery was already disappointed she couldn’t put food in the Christmas Child gift box, so it was no surprise that she selected Fruit Trees first thing out of the catalog. We also have talked a lot recently about the need for clean water in other countries so I was glad to see her choose a Freshwater Well, too (having updated it from Clean Water for a family because it “would help more people”). Matt and I agreed that we would have added the well if one of the kids didn’t pick it, it was marked “urgent need” after all. I told her to pick 3 items but these were the two most important to her so we focused on those. Charlie can’t help himself, it was harder for him to narrow it down; he chose 4 so it evened out. The first thing I read, he wanted to give. “Of course they need that!” It also touched my heart that he selected Training and Equipping an Evangelist as well as Transform the life of a Disabled Child. Instead of the soccer balls. I shouldn’t be surprised by my sensitive boy, but I was. Of course, watching a child select any item to give to someone in need brings joy to a mom’s heart.

We all have a lot to learn. I know how easy it is to think only of myself. But every act of compassion makes it that much easier to think of others. I hope, for me and my family, the trend will continue after the “giving” season.

“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore, I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ ” –Deuteronomy 15:11