Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Path Appears

Not too long ago I shared a post about human trafficking. After reading it a friend recommended the documentary A Path Appears... so I looked it up.

A Path Appears
The title coming from a quote that goes like this...

Hope is like a path in the countryside: originally there was no path—yet, as people are walking all the time in the same spot, a way appears.

A Path Appears addresses gender-based oppression and human rights violations... situations that seem like there is no hope and no way for the world to over come them. However, the documentary also shares strategies that are in place by great organizations that are combating these offenses against women... people walking toward solutions... in the same spot... over and over... creating a path. A path of hope.

This film can be watched through Amazon or Netflix. It has three episodes, each an hour and a half long. This is a hard film to watch. It's not one where you are going to sit and relax while eating your snacks. There is a good chance you will shed some tears. I cried several times as I listened to women share their stories of abuse... and then I cried again as they shared their victories and what they are doing to help other women today.

So many times in the 4 1/2 hours of watching this, my heart broke for the women, the young girls, and the injustices that have been a part of their lives.

So many times my heart rejoiced at the success stories.

It was emotional.
It was necessary.

It is something I want to watch with my kids when they are teenagers.

The first episode focuses on human trafficking here in the United States. That is rare. So often it is talked about as something that happens in other countries. I appreciated seeing the perspective of what it looks like here on my home turf. And I loved hearing about organizations that are working to do something about slavery here.

The second episode focuses on poverty here and in Haiti and again ends with people that are doing great things to help women and children overcome the hardships that they face because of poverty.

The third episode focuses on domestic violence. It was interesting to hear things addressed like why women stay in abusive relationships and how hard it can be to leave. Sometimes we think we know everything... but we don't. Taking time to listen to these women share their stories... listen without judging... it opens the heart and the mind... and a path appears.

I am so glad that I took the time to watch A Path Appears. It was good to see the gritty reality of what goes on in our world instead of a sugar-coated picture. It was good to also see hope. There are two sides to the issues... those who are a part of the problem and those who are a part of the solution. There is no middle ground.

I hope you take the time to check out A Path Appears.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

52 Lists - #4 Dreams and Goals

List #4 is about dreams and goals. I've never really been a goal person... I just try to stay self-motivated and always better myself or the situation I am in. I haven't needed goals to motivate me to move in a forward direction. I remember struggling through a job review one time. Boss asked me what my goals for the next whatever amount of time were and I came up blank. I couldn't come up with anything measurable... because I'm not a "set a measurable goal" kind of person. He was, so he didn't understand... but assistant boss was like a giddy little kid as he sat with us in the meeting saying that I was saying exactly what he had been trying to get the boss to understand for a long time.

So there are goal people and there are non-goal people in this world. I'm in the non-goal category, so this list is a little challenging for me... to look ahead and say what's my goal? What's something I need to do in my life and my future? These aren't things I often sit down and think about. I guess there are things I would like to do if the opportunities arise... but none of them are musts or things that drive me.

Anyways... my attempt at this list...




Current and Future Goals and Dreams
see the Grand Canyon and other parks in Arizona
raise my little people to be successful humans
crochet every day
travel to every state
be a good friend
pay off the house early and remain 100% debt free
forgive those I haven't yet been able to forgive 
help my kids pay for college
save a life




Save a life... not necessarily physically with cpr or whatever... but I will find someone who has potential... the nature, but not the nurture... and give that person a safe place to grow into his/her potential. Basically... to give someone a chance at a good future that didn't originally have one. (Think Blindside... I watched that saying to Mike, "That's it! That's what I am always talking about! Don't be surprised if you come home from work someday to some extra person pretty much living with us.)

That's about it. I've thought about this for two days and that's all that comes to mind. Maybe that makes me lame in the eyes of some... but not having a huge list of things that I feel I must do in my lifetime... it allows me to be content right where I am... most days. :)

Are you a goal or non-goal person?




Thursday, January 21, 2016

Making Blankets

I kind of enjoy the process of making blankets.
I start out wondering why I ever decided to start such a big project.
About half way I get really excited because that's when I really start to see it all coming together.
By the end I'm ready to just. be. done. and once again wondering why I decided to take on such a big project.

But when it's done!!! That's when it is fun.

This past year I had kept seeing mermaid and shark blankets on the internet. They are a big deal right now, and no wonder! They are ridiculously cute and fun!

I made the decision to make these blankets for Liza and Jason for Christmas. The problem was that in order to keep it a surprise I could only work on them after they were in bed or during the day while they were at school.

I finished with two days to spare!

The kids love their blankets and that makes me happy!

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My heart just about burst when I went to tuck them in and found them both snug in their new blankets. They use them every night now.

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And when this came home in Jason's folder...

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Translation: I opened one of my presents and it was a shark blanket. I also got a kindle it was my favorite present.

I'm currently working on an afghan for a customer and it's turning out amazing!! After that is finished I'll be making mermaid blankets for two of my nieces. I think the mermaids are my favorite!


Monday, January 18, 2016

52 Lists - Things I Should Be Proud Of

List #3

Things I Should Be Proud Of
standing up for what I believe in
being able to vacation alone
the way I have raised my kids
my crochet work
my photography
staying married for 13 years
graduating college with 2 degrees... even though I don't use them
getting back up every time life slams me down - overcoming hardship
being gluten and dairy free for a year now
who I am


I added "who I am" at the end because so many negative things have been used to describe me...
opinionated - others may see it that way but I see that as something that propels me to fight for what I believe is right. I believe in what I believe in.
stubborn - maybe so, but this is what propels me to get back up every time life knocks me down. It also has helped me stay married for almost 13 years. :)
strong personality - whatever. :) Knowing who I am and and sticking to that shapes everything in my life. I may be bold and outspoken, driven and difficult... but I can't imagine a world without people like that. 

So in the end... who I am is something I should be proud of. I have fought myself to accept who I am and to be proud of who I am over the years. 

And that's what I've been thinking about lately. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Awareness



I haven't talked much about human trafficking for the past year. I guess my mind has been consumed with other problems. But I still follow a lot of pages and rejoice every time a child is rescued from the sex trade.

This weekend I started reading a book that has been on my shelf for a while now... Renting Lacy by Linda Smith. I was in tears before I was even through the forward.

Human trafficking... slavery... is sadly alive and well in our world today. And not just somewhere else... but in our own country... in our own towns. There is no easy answer, but the more aware we become, the more we can fight this atrocity.




So maybe your here reading my blog today and thinking  
"How can I make a difference?"
 

1. Get educated. Read some books about it.
Renting Lacy
The Slave Next Door
Somebody's Daughter
I have all of these books and would be happy to lend them out. (I have one or two on kindle as well so you don't have to live near me to borrow one.)


2. Follow some organizations that fight modern day slavery and help the people that are rescued.
A21
Destiny Rescue
Polaris
She Rescue Home
End It
Girls Are Not For Sale
Pittsburgh local: Living in Liberty 

3. Spend money. It takes money to rescue and reintegrate victims of human trafficking (slavery) into society. You can give directly to organizations to support their work and make what they do possible. Or you can do something like buy things that are made by survivors to support survivors. I love my jewelry made by girls that have been rescued through Destiny Rescue.  You can also buy products that support these organizations and their message. I'm wearing my hoodie from GEMS today.

I like how She Rescue Home has their giving options set up. You can sponsor (or partially sponsor) a girl or a specific need.

4. Teach your boys and girls to value themselves and each other. If there is no demand for a sex industry, there will be no reason to supply the "product".

5. Talk to someone else about it. Let others know that it is happening, and it is happening close to home.


The only thing we can not do is nothing.




"Through our ignorance and worse yet, our lack of interest, we enable slavery. Unless we heed the wake-up call, slavery will continue to spread. Our children are also endangered by a different, subtler threat--apathy. Kids learn from their parents, and if noninvolvement is what we teach, by word or example, then that is exactly what they will learn and how they will live." ~From the Slave Next Door

 GIRLS ARE NOT FOR SALE!! 

 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

52 Lists - #2 My Greatest Comforts

Comfort
- a cause or matter of relief or satisfaction
- a state of ease and satisfaction of bodily wants, with freedom from pain and anxiety



My Greatest Comforts
a good friend
contentment in life
a good song
warm blankets
yarn, a crochet hook, and a project to work on
Panerapy
a good book
family
helping others
a walk through nature with my camera
my feet in the sand
quiet
a comfy chair and a fireplace
days with nothing to do
good conversation
hot tea
finishing a puzzle
a clean house
Liza and Jason giggling
receiving snail mail
hot soup on a cold day
sun on my skin
 financial freedom
soup
being understood
hugs from those I love





Friday, January 8, 2016

New Furniture!

Shortly after Thanksgiving I shared my furniture shopping experience. I decided at the beginning of last year that the chairs from La-Z-Boy were the ones I wanted, I saved, and when I had the money I went to buy them. I almost walked out without purchasing them and was completely unhappy with the salesperson and sneaky attempts at adding things to my order that I didn't want.

After some frustration I figured it out and made my purchase. I also made it very clear that I did not want any calls from the company unless it was about my chair order. They apparently don't respect their customer's wishes because I got a call inviting me to a "VIP event"... basically an event to get me back in the store where they can try to sell me more furniture.

Then the call finally came about my furniture delivery. I was told it would take six to eight weeks and I don't even think it's been a full six weeks yet! The message told me I could schedule delivery between Tuesday and Saturday of this week. I excitedly called back hoping for a Tuesday delivery and was put on hold... for twenty minutes... after which I hung up, called back and said this is getting ridiculous and I can't listen to your "hold music" any longer. And then the lady told me I could only get my chairs on Friday because that is the only day they deliver in my area.

If you haven't picked up on my feelings yet... I'm not a big fan of La-Z-Boy customer service. If those weren't the chairs that I had been set on for a year I would have moved on and shopped somewhere else. I spent far too much money to get poor customer service!!!

ANYWAYS!!!

On to the good stuff...

I received a call yesterday telling me the chairs would be delivered between 9:15 and 12:15 today. This morning I got a call before 9:30 telling me they would be at the house in about 25 minutes and my chairs were delivered before 10:00!!!

AND! I LOVE THEM!!!

I was so nervous that I wouldn't like them. The delivery guys carried them up to my porch wrapped in some protective cover and I anxiously waited for them to unwrap them so I could see if I actually liked the fabric I picked. It's so hard when you only get to see a square of fabric and have to picture two chair's worth of it in one room. Delivery guy removed the cover and said, "Wow! I really like this fabric!" Me too I thought. ME TOOOOO!!

The chairs are in the living room and I'm so happy with what I picked out. They are comfortable, sturdy, and the right fabric for me. I'll eventually crochet some accent pillows and/or a new afghan to go with them. For now... I'll enjoy them just as they are!

All that said... The only thing I enjoyed about my first ever furniture shopping experience was the delivery. The guys were great (probably because they weren't trying to sell me anything) and the product is amazing.

So let's start with the before...
The two chairs were given to me buy a friend when she upgraded with new furniture. We have had them for several years and have been so thankful to have them! But it was time for them to go.

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This morning I moved those two chairs out and brought my new ones in!!!

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I think they go well in the room. Don't mind the floor. That's next on the list of things to get done, but it will probably be a while. Baby steps. No debt for house fixes... gotta save up again. :)

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It took a lot of hat sales to be able to purchase these chairs! It was worth it. :) If you need me any time in the next few days you can find me relaxing in my living room in one of my new comfy chairs.

And don't worry... I've already drilled it into the kids' heads... no jumping, no sweaty heads, no food or drinks!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Favorite Gift

I have had a Kindle for a few years now. I use it quite a bit and the kids were always asking to play on it. I didn't let them use it very often.

Things have changed.

I saw that Amazon had Kindles on sale for $35 on Black Friday. The grandmas were asking for ideas of things to get the kids for Christmas. I was running out of ideas. This deal was too good to pass up, so I suggested it.

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Liza and Jason were pretty ecstatic about this gift! We loaded some games and I showed them how to get to their math website that they use in school, but other than that, we aren't quite sure what to do with them. I don't want to spend loads of money on books because we have sooo many books. I'm kind of strict on internet use. And I don't really want them playing mindless games all day long.

What kind of websites do your kids like to use?
How do you limit their time on devices?
Are there good, cheap (or free!) books for kids that I can look at?

I need help so that they can have a good Kindle experience.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My Favorite Christmas Ever!

It's not too late to still be talking about Christmas, is it?
Well too bad if it is. :) I'm going to share about our Christmas, because it was my most favorite one yet! Liza and Jason are awesome kids and they make life so much fun!

Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year. Mike did have to work till around 3:00 but having the entire next week off made up for that. While Mike was at work, me and the kids did some things to pass the time. We started our day with a trip to the bakeshop Mike is working at for breakfast... cinnamon rolls. We then headed home and did a puzzle which took up a good amount of time.

The real fun started when Mike finally came home. We started with the family game. Every year we get a new game and play it on Christmas Eve. We got Pass the Pigs. It's really similar to Farkle but a little more simple and with PIGS instead of dice. It was fun!

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Game time was followed by family photos in our Christmas shirts.

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Next up was our gift exchange. We always give the kids some money to spend... they each buy for each other and then for me and Mike. The day of shopping is lots of fun and the gift unwrapping on Christmas Eve is always sweet.

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We finished out the night by watching the movie we bought to add to our collection and having appetizers for dinner. Lots of good food and snuggles on the couch!

And then the kids went off to bed and forced themselves to sleep so they could hurry up and get to Christmas morning! Christmas morning came, and me and Mike woke up before the kids! So backwards! We decided to run into their rooms shouting about Christmas presents and woke them up.

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He asked for a grammar book and was really excited to get one!

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It was such a peaceful morning. Warm fuzzies. :) Mike made pancakes, the kids checked out all their new stuff and we just enjoyed hanging out until it was time to go see some family.

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This Christmas was perfect! I hope they are all like this one... or better.

And for the record... I hear a lot of people debate whether or not to do Santa for Christmas. It seems to be that many fear that they will miss out on some of the magic if they don't do Santa. I just want to share that we do not do Santa and Christmas is definitely magical! Santa isn't what makes Christmas magical... Christmas is magical all on it's own!

Disclaimer... if you do Santa then keep on rocking what you are doing! :) Santa's cool too.

I hope you all made some great memories with Christmas!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

52 Lists - Words that Touch the Soul

My blogger friend Jessica, who writes at Living is Simple, had a post the other day and mentioned 52 lists. I thought, "Ooooh! I think I want to make some lists this year!" So I asked her about it and found out that it is a journal you can buy, but you can also find many, many of the prompts on Pinterest.

I'm going to see how this goes.
52 lists.
One for each week of the year.
Some short, some long.

Today....





WORDS THAT TOUCH THE SOUL

I love you
I forgive you
I accept you
you are good
you are enough
just as you are
thank you for your friendship



Monday, January 4, 2016

Back to School

We just had 11 glorious days of no school.

I love having the kids home. They are quirky, fun-loving kids that get along with each other 97% of the time. We enjoy each other, and we enjoy the same things, which makes being a family quite fun. Add Christmas into the mix and well... my heart was so full for those 11 days.

But today is back to school day.

On Saturday I found myself getting sad about the idea of Liza and Jason going back to school. Yesterday I thought about it some more. This morning I woke up completely depressed about the idea of putting them on the bus and sending them off to school.

They haven't been gone very long, but I miss them already. The house is too quiet. They aren't just across the street like they used to be. I want them back at home with me.

It's moments like these where I think maybe I should home school... but then I laugh at myself, because I know I wouldn't be good at it. I can't even get through a half hour of homework without wanting to throw things and run away!

I wish the school system was different.
I wish they didn't have to keep my kids for so many hours each day.
I wish they were still across the street.

But they aren't.
And I'm here... in my too quiet house.
Missing them.

However, I doubt they are missing me as they rejoin the new friends they have made this year and talk all about their Christmas break and new gifts and all the things they got to do.

I hope they are having a good day, and maybe I'll get a little peek at them while I'm at the school making copies for their teachers.

Liza and Jason are my heart. I hope the people who get to spend the day with my kids appreciate them at least half as much as I do!!

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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Move Reviews... Inside Out, Home, Shaun the Sheep

This past week we watched three movies that were made for kids that we hadn't yet seen... Home, Inside Out, and Shaun the Sheep. Here are my thoughts on each...




Inside Out

This movie was colorful and cute to look at. It had some adorable characters and some cute moments. Overall though... it was sad. An hour and a half of mostly feeling sad. Sadness is an ok emotion to feel while watching a movie, but I don't think any of us really loved this one. Too much sadness. Not enough happiness and joy. It's not one that my kids are asking to watch again.



Home
This one was on Netflix and I have a feeling it is going to get watched often in our house. It's annoyingly adorable. It's cute and quirky. We often found ourselves enjoying a good laugh. My kids are already repeating a few lines that they heard in the movies... like, "I put my hands in the air like I just do not care." I heard Jason yelling that in the shower after watching the movie. Oh to be a fly on the wall! Anyways... Home... cute, happy, annoying, fun! We liked it a lot and will likely add it to our collection after it's no longer on Netflix.



Shaun the Sheep
I was hesitant about this one because I hadn't heard anyone at all talking about it. I kept seeing it as I scrolled Redbox and had no idea what it was about. So I asked Facebook and a few people said their kids enjoyed it. We rented it, watched it and OH MY GOSH!!! WHY ARE PEOPLE NOT TALKING ABOUT THIS MOVIE MORE!?!?! We loved it! LOVED IT! It's a "silent film". Great music, grunts and noises, no talking. It's cute. It's clever. It's seriously funny! We laughed a lot. The humor in it is great! It's a clean movie (rare!) and not a thing in it that I could complain about. I am pretty sure that it is my new favorite family/children's movie and I will soon be purchasing it. We all sat on the couch with warm fuzzies and happy hearts as the credits rolled and I said, "Let's watch it again!" (We didn't.) If you haven't seen this movie, rent it tonight! Sit, relax, watch and enjoy the new greatest movie for kids. :)

Friday, January 1, 2016

May It Be Better

Being that 2015 has ended and 2016 has begun... I couldn't help but reflect on the past year. In fact, I've been thinking about it a lot for the past week. I'm not usually one to make January 1st about new beginnings... I make new beginnings whenever I need one, no matter what day of the year it is.

However, I'm finding this year to be a little different.

As I look back on 2015 I am faced with a year that is full of hard memories. A year of struggle. A year of loss. A year of changes I did not want.

There were also a lot of good things that happened... I got to visit my friend Melissa in Louisiana and had a great time doing touristy things and meeting her family. I took the kids to Maryland to visit my sister and her family. We took a little family vacation to Niagara Falls. I made new friends. I brought some of my Grandpa's butterflies back to the family. I enjoyed family.

BUT...

All of those things are memories I had to search for because they are clouded over by the situation with our school closing and my neighborhood changing forever. I poured my heart into our school, and then I poured myself into trying to keep it open. My heart was broken when the end had come and the answer was no. I hate that it will likely become a furniture store sometime this year. And it's hard to send my kids off to a school we didn't want to go to every day. It's not a bad school... it's just not what we wanted. I find myself throwing a pity party in my head over the situation at least twice a week... but we are doing what we can to make the best of it since that is our only option.

2015...
A year of hardship.
A year I didn't love.
A year where my thoughts remained in the negative... which is a weird place for me to be since I'm an optimist and love living in the silver linings.

2015... A year I am ready to leave in the past.

So today, as a new year begins, I have decided to move forward and embrace the fresh start.

I have also decided that it's time to find my way out of my negative mindset. That doesn't mean I will force myself to like the situation that weighed so heavily on me in the past year. It just means that I won't let my bad attitude about the situation rule my life.

Life happens. The past year... who am I kidding... the past THREE years... have been hard. Emotionally and mentally hard. My greatest hope is that 2016 will be better, easier, lighter.

I bought myself a notebook and the plan is to write something good every. single. day. No matter my attitude, I will make myself think through the day and find one good thing. One positive thing. And record it. I need an attitude adjustment and I'm finally ready to work on it.

Thanks to everyone who stuck with me and my negativity over the past year. Your friendship, kindness, and understanding has been invaluable and needed.

Here's to a new a year.
Here's to change I CAN control.
Here's to 2016!

May it be better.


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