Monday, January 24, 2011

Gardening Gone Wild Photo Contest Entry

Over at Gardening Gone Wild, the photo contest theme for the month is "Macro in a Mason Jar". It looked interesting, so I tried my hand at it.

I told you about it here and showed you my pics here.

I have decided to enter this one:

(Take a look at the larger image here)

It looks almost like a watercolor, and it is hard to tell if it was taken on land or in the sea. I like it for its softness, its mystery, and its ethereal qualities.

If you haven't guessed, it is garlic skins. I fluffed them up a bit and arranged them just so in the bottom of a quart jar. I originally used a pint sized jar, but my camera had a hard time focusing too close (I am over 40 now and can empathize with my poor camera! ;) Then the jar was set on a mirror, which probably added the swirly pastel watercolor look around the skins; I used the natural light from a nearby window and was pleased with the soft lighting.

If you have a minute, click on over to their site and take a look at the other great entries. I always enjoy looking at what others have created.

Have a great day and I'll see you again tomorrow :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Good Luck, Bad Luck, Who Knows?

I have a story to tell, but as I've searched around, these sites have told the story in such a way that I love

"Taoism (pronounced Dowism) is an ancient Chinese religion founded in the third or fourth century B.C. by Lao Tzu. Taoism also is called the water course way, for it believes that life flows in much the same way as a river. And like the river, though we are able to have influence over our lives, we are never able to take total control.

The Taoist prefers to look at life events without judgment or interpretation. According to Taoism, the true significance of events can never be understood as they are occurring, for in every event there are elements of both good and bad. Furthermore, each event has no specific beginning or end and may influence future events for years or even centuries to come. An excellent example of the Taoist view of life is found in the following parable of the Taoist farmer."
(from an article by Kent Moreno at the Pediatric Services website.)

"Many years ago, in rural China, there was a farmer who lived quietly with his family on a small plot of land. His family was healthy and happy, but did not have much in the way of material possessions. They worked hard, together, tending to their garden and plowing their fields.

One day, the farmer awoke and discovered that his old quarter-horse, a horse that he depended on for years to plow his fields, had escaped through a broken fence and was nowhere to be seen. A neighbor came by and saw the farmer in his plight, and cried out at the bad luck facing the old man. The old man calmly replied, “good luck, bad luck, who knows,” and went about his business.

A few days later, hearing the thundering sound of hoofs outside his cottage, that farmer looked across a far away hill and saw a whole herd of horses making their way to his horse pen. His old trusty quarter-horse has indeed returned, and brought a few friends! The same neighbor, bearing witness to this amazing sight cried out “wow, what great luck you have!” The farmer calmly replied, “good luck, bad luck, who knows.”

The farmer’s son, seeing the wild horses sitting in the pen, decided to start breaking them in. It was tough work. One day, a stallion bucked and knocked him to the ground, terribly breaking his arm. It was a busy time of year, and his support was desperately needed to work the land. The neighbor saw the plight of the family and cried “wow, what bad luck you have,” to which the father replied, “good luck, bad luck, who knows.”

While his son was recovering, the father was out drawing water for his horses. He saw a battalion of men marching down the lonely road. The captain of the troop came up to the home, and asked if the old farmer had any able-bodied men in his household. The region was at war and they were conscripting all men to fight!

The father could not hide the fact that he had a son, and the captain walked into their home. Upon seeing the state of the boy, with a broken arm, he decided that the boy would be of no use to the military, and the troop kept on walking. Upon seeing this, the neighbor cried out…”what good luck you have!” to which the father replied….”good luck, bad luck, who knows…”

..and so the story continues…"
(from Retold my YogiRavi at Set Higher Standards

As I was looking up the story last night, I came across many versions of the story, but I liked YogiRavi's version best. I included the lead in because it explains Taoism well. Not only that, but I really like what Kent Moreno goes on to say about having a child with "problems". Good luck, bad luck. Who knows?

In a nutshell, this is the mindset I wish to foster this coming year. I want to embrace *everything* God allows to happen to me and all that He gives to me this year.

I think it will definately have an effect on me as I do.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Silent Sunday - Week 1

Around my neighborhood:

(I linked to this blog post over at Ordinary Life Magic's Soul of Sunday Hop on over and take a look at other people's Soul of Sunday too :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Reflections - Week 1

On Saturday, the sun was shining after a week of pure gray. Even though it was freezing cold, I decided to go out and takes some pics of the sunshine.

When I looked at the house, this is what I saw:

Michael has this spot dedicated as his "watching spot". If he hears a car pull up, or when Steve & I leave, Michael goes to the blinds, pulls them back, and watches everything... with his nose to the glass. :) His watching spot has bazillions of little fingerprints all over the glass, as you can see by the pic. Gosh I love that kid!

When I got outside to shoot "sunshine" I was stumped on how to do it. You can't take a direct picture of sunshine or it over exposes. If you shoot toward the sun, even in a shaded area, it will get little sunbeam lines in the pic. So how to capture "sunshine"?

As I thought and thought, over walked the cat. He was looking for attention, love, and cat food of course. :) Then he walked away and sat down in the snow. It was then that I realized that the stark contrast of the light from the sunlight side by side a dark shadow shows the sunshine better than anything else I'd come up with so far. So I took the shot:

It made me ponder different aspects of life. Contrast shows things best. Happiness/sadness. Prosperity/poverty. Is that why God allows us to be burdened down with grief? So that when we finally have the joyous moments we can truly be grateful for them? And my ponderings went on and on. It is interesting how such a simple moment can be a springboard for those deep, unanswerable questions.

A friend showed me a photography blog that dedicated one post just to contrasts. This is the blog,Steve McCurry's Blog. The pics are very emotional because of those stark contrasts.

But back to the picture...

I love how the picture shows the cat's profile, yet his shadow shows both ears perfectly. Love, love, love it!

I have saved one other pic for Sunday. On a couple of the blogs I read, Sunday is a day to post one pic that sums up what is happening in your neighborhood. I'll add that one then. Until then, have a great weekend! :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Week 1

I'm thankful that:

~ Christmas went so well and was such a great day!

~ we have such thoughtful family and friends.

~ my mom's ER visit was for something as benign as enormous gas instead of the suspected blocked bowel. (sorry, not a very pretty image :/ )

~ Steve & I could continue our tradition of going out to lunch together to think over the new year.

~ we've had some extra sunshine throughout the week.

~ Steve took the kids (especially Michael) to church so that I could stay home and recuperate.

~ my family could spend some fun family time watching a video and playing a game on Monday evening.

~ we are getting back into our routine for the school week.

~ Aiden was able to go to the doctor and get an antibiotic for his ear infection.

~ sometimes flu bugs only last a few hours.

~ I don't always have to get up several times during the night.

~ Michael's seizures have subsided a bit.

~ a conversation between Steve & I that could have gone very badly and been a huge stumbling block seems to be instead a stepping stone in our relationship. (it is his fault for being patient during that conversation)

~ my mechanic hurried and did a safety inspection for my car before the windshield cracked more. :/ and that the windshield repair kit seems to have made that crack more secure so it won't keep cracking. (here's hoping!!)

~ Emily's drama teacher is a family friend and took Emily back to her house after practice last night so that Steve & I could finish with the windshield, take my brother his other set of keys, and hurry and pick up some supper on the way.

~ the lady at the storage unit accepted my check last night after hours and didn't charge a late payment fee.

~ Amber calls me regularly just to talk. <3

~ I didn't gain weight over the holidays like I feared I would.

~ I got to go to Aiden's first birthday party on Friday. I was worried with the weather that I wouldn't be able to.

~ Grey's Anatomy is on tonight!! :)

~ my family has been able to spend so much quality time together during the holidays.

~ I have great friends & family to visit with on the phone, facebook, blogs, IM, email, and face to face. :)

~ I get to use this year to become more deeply grateful for things. :)

What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My New Year's Phrase & words

Taken from my journal:

On New Year’s Day:
Thinking on the word: THRIVE. This past year I’ve worked on learning to nurture - even nurturing myself. This year, perhaps I need to expand that to thriving. Pull in my soil, reach way down with my roots, and spread my leaves upward. Stop subsisting & start thriving = living.

January 2, 2011:
It took me an extra day to decide on a “word”. It is more of a phrase along with a thought, though. The phrase is, “O Lord, for that which we are about to receive, make us truly grateful.” or “For what we are about to receive, Lord, make us truly grateful.” It is about the same, with just a slight variation.

The focus behind my word or phrase this year is to truly receive and to acknowledge receiving.

Too often I am given love, time, praise, thought, concern, etc., but I don’t receive it.

Think about people playing catch w/ a ball or balloon: If they receive the ball, they catch it, if they are so intent on giving back, they bat it away.

I have been batting things away.

So insistent on being a giver and not a taker, I don’t soak in the joy felt when love is shown. I think about how to give back, even being embarrassed at being given things (praise, help, etc) sometimes.

Have you ever heard children, when they don’t want to feel beholden to a person who has done a good deed to them or something given them say, “But I didn’t ask them to do it!” If we don’t receive the goodness of our fellow man or the goodness of God, but instead bat it away emotionally, we are in effect saying that same thing: “But I didn’t ask them to do it!”

If we receive it, embrace it, find true joy in it, we are being truly grateful. So, for all these things Lord, I am truly grateful.

I wanted my word to be “thrive”. To put down roots, shore myself in, and blossom, bloom, & THRIVE. But I haven’t learned how to receive yet. My shell is too thick to let myself sprout roots. I need to soften a bit first.

So, for this year, I will learn to receive with true gratitude. To learn to take with JOY what is given to me, to receive it, and then to transfer back to others that same kindness.

So again, I say: “O Lord, for all that I am about to receive throughout the year, make me truly grateful." Amen.

Coinciding “words”:
Joy Receive Gratitude

So for this year, I am going to focus more on feeling the joy and gratitude for the small gifts of time, love, service, etc. that is given to me. To truly receive those things.

I have been grateful in the past, but I haven't thought on what is happening. Perhaps life to too busy to enjoy that dandelion that is brought in. In the past, I would smile, kiss the child on the head, put the dandelion in a vase and then move on to the next item of business for the day.

This year, I will slow down. I will focus on the moment, drinking in the love that the child has shown me, the sparkle in their eye and the joy on their face, the warmth of love in my own heart. In essence, I will just be slowly down and allowing myself the gift of noticing all of those little things before I continue on with what I was doing before.

The Lord blesses me every moment of the day with things that I have taken for granted for so long that I have just come to expect it: the next breath, the next drink of water, the sunshine in the daytime and the moonlight at night, the laughter of my children, the beat of my own heart. Those things are all gifts. I intend to slow down and ponder on these things more often. To receive them with gratitude.

Sorry to be so long winded. :) I'd love to hear about the changes you'd like to see for yourself in 2011 too. :)

Have a wonderful day, full of the joys of the commonplace :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

my head feels full of fluff

In my plans for the day, I had wanted to write about my new word (more like phrase) for the year, but I am so tired I can't think clearly. I will get to it when I am more coherent, okay?

Michael has been waking up between 4 and 4:30 every morning for the past few weeks, and typically we just tell him to get in bed with us. For the past few days though, we have been encouraging him to stay in his own bed. It was easier to lay down with him in his bed when his and Emily's beds were pushed together, but Emily rearranged and moved the beds apart (which is very good and it looks very cute!) and a single twin bed is NOT big enough for a mommy or daddy + a 9 year old Michael.

Steve took the shift night before last, and when I found him he was sleeping like a log by Michael. Me? No such luck. I was mostly awake from 4 o'clock on this morning. And I am not an early riser! So my head feels stuffed full of fluff, just like Winnie the Pooh's.

Instead of resolutions, then, I'll show you some pictures that I have in progress.

Gardening Gone Wild's January photo contest's theme is: "Macro in a Mason Jar". You'll have to take a look at the technique on the website, but take a look here at my attempts at fulfilling the assignment. Can you tell what the subject matter is of the first three photos?? :)

And I will leave you with a sweet & funny comment that Steve made to me on IM today when I asked if he had said anything that I missed when I accidentally closed the IM window:

"you mean you missed my 300+ lines of romantic poetry describing how much I love you? :D - just consider that it happened. because for some reason, I don't have it on my end either." It made me smile! :)

Have a wonderful day and hopefully I will feel awake and aware enough tomorrow to tell you about my new motto/mantra for 2011. :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Aiden's Birthday Party

Aiden's birthday was on New Year's Eve day. Karen and Josh opted to take him to a kids' pizza/play place in the city.

Aiden loved the shiny disco ball and all of the excitement of the noise and games going on around him. He also loved eating his Elmo birthday cake!

Here is a peak at Aiden eating his birthday cake:

After so much excitement, he was out like a light! :)

I was glad that the roads were good enough to travel on. It had been snowing non-stop for a couple of days and the snowplows in our little town were *not* out and about.

It was fun to visit with family and friends and to see this cute little guy celebrate his birthday.

Happy Birthday my deary deary Aiden. Your Mema loves you immensely!