30 Jul 2010

The Bear

When Jayce was about 2 months old, my mom bought him one of those blanket with a head things that are so popular for babies now.  I tried to talk her out of it at the time, telling her that he had more stuffed animals and blankets now than he'd ever need and didn't need a hybrid.  But she got it anyway, and it almost immediately became Jayce's favorite thing.


There will be no sleeping without it and the mention of it can reduce a happy child to tears.  When we leave the house on a trip, Chris or I will say to the other, "Do we have the essential item?"  It is that important.  It even appears in our family portraits.


For some odd reason, what Jayce likes the most about his bear is the tiny satin ribbon around it's neck.  As soon as we present Jayce with the bear, his grabs immediately for the bear's head and searches around with his little fingers for that satin ribbon.  Once he gets it, he rubs the ribbon over and over between his fingers and then pulls it up to his face, rubbing the satin over his nose and cheeks.  I had always wondered how little kids come up with the things that they do to settle themselves down, like hair twirling or thumb sucking, and now that I have a kid of my own, I still have no idea.  I have tried to show Jayce that the whole underside of the bear and the edges are covered with the same satin that is around the bear's neck, but none of that really matters.


The other day, (a few months ago actually, but who's counting?) we put Jayce to bed and he started crying shortly after.  When I went to check on him, I found a very sad sight.  He was sitting up in the corner of his crib, holding his bear and pointing miserably to something on the floor.  The ribbon had come off and was laying pitifully beside the bed.  I gave him the replacement bear to try to hold him over for a bit (which obviously didn't work, because the replacement items never do,) and headed downstairs.  Luckily my mom was staying with us that day and was able to perform emergency ribbon re-attachment surgery.  So for now, all is well in the Keith household.

But we are throwing out the paci soon.  God help us.  If anyone has any good advice on that, I'll gladly welcome it.





29 Jul 2010

Making A Mess and Meeting God

A Review of Making A Mess and Meeting God, by Mandy Smith

I feel like I should confess, upfront, that I am not a person who typically looks for alternative forms of worship. If the minister says something like, “Okay, we’re going to do something a little bit different today…” my husband and I automatically look down at our little nursery buzzer, silently (or not) begging it to start buzzing. We console ourselves with, “We’re just a couple of introverts,” to squash any guilt we may feel over just wanting to avoid the uncomfortable situation that is rapidly coming our way.

Which is why I laughed out loud at the following excerpt near the beginning of this book.

Worship planners love to talk about, and challenge, comfort zones. While there’s no doubt that bridging the gap between our physical world and an unseen God requires a bit of a stretch, not all discomfort in worship is necessarily a sign that we’re overcoming our resistance to God. Sometimes, what a worship leader would call “getting out of your comfort zones so that you can be open to God” could otherwise be called “overriding normal social and cultural mores to the point of embarrassment and distraction in the name of worship.”Experiments can be effective in worship services and group settings, but I’ve also seen them done in ways that are forced and uncomfortable. Unless they’re done with a little care, they can be done with the exact opposite of their intended purpose, drawing the worshipper’s attention to their own bare feet, rather than to God.

After reading this paragraph, I immediately relaxed, because an author who is not only aware of such issues, but has proposed solutions and adaptations is an author whom I trust. And with my anxiety pushed to the side, I was now very interested in what else she had to say. The author is Mandy Smith.

Mandy is an Associate Pastor at University Christian Church, in Cincinnati, Ohio. She did her BA in Biblical Studies at Cincinnati Christian University, and was Valedictorian. She and her husband are originally from Australia, and currently reside in Cincinnati with their two children and one dog. She is in charge of the worship service as a part of her current role, has served on worship teams in the past, and was the creator of “The Collect,” a citywide trash-to-art project that took place in Cincinnati in 2007.


Mandy's sets out to help readers discover the potential that ordinary activities and daily life have to teach about God in a new and deeper way, and much of this discovery is done through various forms of art. She hypothesizes that, “If we explore new opportunities to find the divine in the ordinary, and through a little artful play, then we will discover new depths in our comprehension of and communication with God.”

Mandy leads the reader through a collection of object lessons for grown ups. Each of these lessons is explored in two main forms. First, there is a purposeful effort to find God in the everyday moments and activities. Second, there is exploration through art. Each chapter has a different set of themes that it explores, culminating in a re-evaluation of what one thinks about God, shifting from a working toward him mindset, to working out how to realize that he is already there.

My Highlights:

Introduction of “Recipe Cards”

In the first chapter Mandy describes a time when her church was exploring the topic of spirituality. They agreed that spirituality wasn’t necessarily about going on a quest to find God, but about being aware of his presence in their every day lives. The ministers invited the members of the congregation to submit the ways that they experience God through the ordinary. In light of churches often putting together recipe books by compiling the members’ favorite recipes, they called these their “recipe cards for spirituality.” These recipes are peppered throughout the book, and I found them to be engaging, encouraging and often examples that I really resonated with.

Biblical Teaching

Each chapter begins by introducing the themes and passages that the lesson is based upon.What follows is poignant teaching, thoughtful investigation of these themes and really practical means of application. Admittedly, with a professor for a husband, I hold education and knowledge to a very high regard; So I was encouraged to read a good balance of biblical teaching and creative challenges. Neither was slighted in favor of the other.

Awareness of Potential Awkwardness

This was a bit of a big one for me, because of the stress I described at the beginning of this review. Mandy obviously knows that there are hurdles when dealing with a subject as personal as finding God, particularly when looking for alternate means of doing so.

She discusses obstacles such as opening oneself up to creativity, how to deal with the dynamics of group settings, helping introverts to feel comfortable, varying skill levels, people who are tied to their traditions, distractions in a group setting, the “cool factor” involved in being non-traditional, just to name a few. She addresses these issues head-on and with helpful suggestions for moving beyond them. Furthermore, in each experiment, she provides possible adjustments to make it work for an individual, for small groups or for corporate worship settings.

Challenging and Relevant

Though the topic of finding God is not a new one, Mandy’s perspectives are unique and very relevant.

The ideas are refreshing; much like talking to a friend with the rare gift of insightfulness andthoughtfulness. It is written with such clarity that I found myself underlining sentences periodically, thinking, “Yes. She put that perfectly.” The experiments are applicable and interesting, and sent me rushing out to the store and scrounging around the house for supplies so that I could try them out.

Addressing the Big and Small Picture

When I originally looked at the book, the title Making a Mess and Meeting God made me think that it would be full of various creative projects to help a person become more aware of God’s presence. I was right, but there are also broader applications. “The mess” also is in reference to the mess of our world or the various messes in our lives, and Mandy leads us to find God in those as well.

Who is This Book For?

I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for encouragement or new ways to think about the Christian life. With each chapter as an object lesson, it’s a good choice for ministers or small groups.

Though it may naturally appeal to people with some interest in art or creativity, the applications are relevant to all.

For more about this book, including the option to purchase, click here.

28 Jul 2010

A Story of Stickers Gone Wrong

One day, a mom made a terrible mistake.  She thought she had purchased Toy Story 3 stickers, but as her child excitedly ran into the room with his coloring book in tow, she realized that she had actually purchased temporary tattoos.  In an attempt to rectify the situation, she offered to put Buzz on her child's hand, and he accepted.


But he did not like it.


He did not like it at all.


He tried to rub it off on his shirt, and when that didn't work, he took his mom's hand and tried to use her finger to scrape it off.


But that didn't work either.  The mom wasn't sure just how well the tattoo would stick, since it was a cheap batch from the Dollar Store, so she gave her child a wet rag to try to wipe it off.  This pacified him for a little bit...


but he soon became skeptical...


and then stressed.


His stress quickly turned into frustration,

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and then despair.


He made faces so sad, that his mom had to put down the camera, even though the pictures were blurry, snuggle the little guy and promptly remove Buzz.  They  then colored with sharp crayons, and all was well.


And when naptime came, the mom tried not to be overly annoyed with Picnik for not working, and thus ruining what would have been a very funny collage.






21 Jul 2010

A Few Fun Giveaways

I just thought I'd pass along a few fun giveaways this week that I am a part of in blog land!   Everyone likes free stuff, right?  And if you are reading this, then you get  a shot at it too. :)

First off, my etsy shop is sponsoring a giveaway over at Just Another Day in Paradise, here.  She is doing a Christmas in July special right now, so you might want to check her out anyway if you are the type of person who plans far ahead enough to think of Christmas gifts now.  There are some great ideas for presents, and I'm giving this away.

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Also, over on Lemon Tree Creations this week, I have been having a ball with Cutting Edge Stencils, which are now appearing in our home both here


and here.


They are giving away a stencil up to a $40 value to one of our readers this week, so if you want to get in on the giveaway, head on over to LTC and comment for a chance to win.   Check out these great stencils and more on their website here.

Good luck!






20 Jul 2010

Sweet Shot Tuesday: A Little Model

Last week I put a few of these tie appliques into my etsy shop here, so I took Jayce outside for a little promo pictures photo session. He had his lawnmower, I had my camera, there was some open shade, we were both happy.

One of my friends who is a photographer once commented that she often overexposes, even with brides who are in danger of losing the detail in their wedding dresses, because the color just looks so good. I used that tip on this day, overexposing a half a stop, and I just loved the results! Would you believe that this is the image straight out of the camera?!


I don't even care that his white shirt blends in with the sky a bit in this shot, that can be easily fixed in the editing. But I just loved the brightness of the shot, creaminess of his skin, and that sweet smile.

I'm linking this to Sweet Shot Tuesday here.


19 Jul 2010

If You Neglect Your Child While Unloading Groceries...

you will end up going after you camera.  Jayce got into the pantry, and informed me that he was making a choo choo.



He then made a house. (Why is this a house?  I don't know.  I didn't ask questions.)  I was kind of happy that he grouped the pop by flavor/color though.



He then made a snake, pronounced "nake."



I wish my new phone let me send pictures, but since it doesn't, Chris, this is what we did this afternoon.




16 Jul 2010

Vacation in Florida, Collage Style

I am a week behind in this post at this point, but that is kind of how it goes when you get home from vacation, isn't it?  Everything is a little behind and on the back burner as you get back into the groove of normal life.  But now that we are back in the groove, I'm ready to share about our trip.


First off I should say, we had a great time.  It's the first time that we've ever had a vacation with just our little family of three, and it was so nice to get away and spend time together.  We started vacation a little early by going to Chicago where I shot a wedding with Christine, and the morning after we headed to Florida.  The drive was great, Jayce was a peach as always, watching his little DVD player (and Cars seemingly on a loop), and even had fun at our hotel stop.


We arrived in Destin on Sunday around 5 pm, unloaded the car and then headed to the pool for a quick dip, mostly to reward Jayce for being so great for almost 2 full days in the car.  We then headed to supper, the grocery store, and then home to chill out.  It was sunny and hot, in the high 80s.

But that was the last time that we saw the sun, until we left 4 days later when Hurricane Ivan was about to hit hard.

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But we made the most of it.  There was no sunshine whatsoever, but there was still periods of non-rain and we had fun.  We went for ice cream and then let Jayce play in the fountains, a stop that always starts off with him standing on the side observing the fountains, progresses to him trying to run and avoid the fountains, and culminates in him running straight to the highest spraying fountains and getting completely drenched.  He is either giggling or screaming the whole time, and it really is hilarious.

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We did go to the beach one day for about 20 minutes or so, and while we were there Jayce loved it.  He was such a total due, putting on his shades as we left the condo and not taking them off until we were inside again.  He liked the water the first time that it washed over his toes, but the second time it almost knocked him over, (you can imagine what the waves are like in a pre-hurricane state), so we backed off and played in the sand for a bit.  It was great, but you can see what the wind was like in the second picture, and we had to leave after about 20 minutes because the rain was about to start.  I washed the sand off of his beach toys, and let him play with them for a long time in a big bubbly bath, and he didn't seem to mind the difference.

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We also made it to the pool for a few 45 minute sessions between the rain.  It was still warm enough to enjoy the water, and it turns out that regardless of the sun factor, pool time still wears out little toddlers (and their parents) enough to ensure that good naps are had by all.  We actually had an arguably better time outside, because there wasn't that miserable heat/sun that can be a factor with a trip to Florida in June.

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Without the option of laying out/constant pool and beach time, we explored some other options instead.  We've been going to Florida for 10 years now, but this was the first time that we ever rented and rode bikes, (corny-sounding I know, but it was fun and Jayce LOVED it).  We also went for a walk on this great pier at the condo (again, never an option before, why waste outside time not in the water?)  Jayce loved running down the pier, and since I had some Chex Mix in my purse, we got to feed the ducks. Another first, and a nice one.

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We went to breakfast at a restaurant on the beach one morning, and then as the rain rolled in, headed to see Toy Story 3.  It was Jayce's first movie and our first 3-D experience, and a good time was had by all.  He snuggled on our laps during the movie, only got up once to go get some water from the drinking fountain, and even kept his glasses on throughout the movie.

It was all of the things that we were looking for in vacation, other than a tan.  I'm glad to know that we can still make the most of our time together, even with inclement weather rolling in, but next time I'd still like to see at least a little more sun.



13 Jul 2010

Sweet Shot Tuesday: First Lake Trip

We headed up to the lake last weekend hoping for some sunshine after a complete cloud cover while we were in Florida. It was the first time that Jayce had ever been in the boat, or on the lake, and he loved it! The sun was out, the sky was blue, and as always, I was taking pictures of my boys.

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The coloring turned out a little funny, and despite a few attempts to fix it, I opted for a gritty black and white. I always feel like black and white pictures seem more like memories than photos, and it was a lovely memorable day.

I'm linking to Sweet Shot Tuesday here.

12 Jul 2010

How's Etsy?

I've had my etsy shop opened for a few months now and several people have been asking me how it's going, so I thought I'd do a little update.


The short answer is, great!  I've been getting orders pretty steadily: not so many that I feel overwhelmed and not so few that I don't feel like keeping it going.  I am enjoying it, making a little money and having fun, so it's great!


I have been going crazy over the possibility of making Jayce a little tie t shirt since I got my sewing machine.  However, I have not been able to use it yet because I can't seem to find the elusive bobbin holder that my model requires, so I finally just made a no sew version.  (PS-OMG, love my little model boy in this picture!! :)


It was so cute and so easy, that I made a dozen more (seriously).  And I loved the material so much that I put the appliques on my site, which you can find here, along with a few other tie options.



I also just added this yellow necklace, which I love.


One of the custom orders I made recently was for a woman who is a photographer and wanted some photo blocks for her daughter.  I thought they turned out so cute that I just had to share them.  Isn't she a little sweetie?



Another fun thing about etsy is that people periodically will make a treasury, which is a compilation of a few of their favorite items that they've found on etsy, which they then share with other etsy shoppers.  There is typically some sort of category in mind.  Anyway, I have been lucky enough that a few of my items have made their way into different people's treasuries, which is so fun!  Can you find my projects in the photos below?  I had some blocks on 2 other treasury lists, but that was before I knew how to take a screen pic, so these are the most recent.  It's great because it drives a little traffic to your site, it's sweet and flattering.

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Well that's all for now, but stop by the shop sometime to say hi and see what's new. :)


I'm planning to get caught up on my blogging this week, so you should be hearing more from me soon!  Happy Monday!





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