Saturday, December 22, 2012

Winter Wonderland for Sandy Hook Elementary

The kids from Sandy Hook Elementary school will not be going back to school until after the first of the year. When they do return, it will not be to the same school but to an unused school builing about 10 miles away. Work is ongoing to move desks, furniture, and all of the other business of school items to the "new" building. So many people have wanted to know how they can help that the Parent-Teacher-Student Association decided that if folks would send snowflakes to the school district, they could have the new building decorated with a winter wonderland them when the students return in January. Click here to link to the Connecticut PTSA website setailing how you can help in other ways as well.

I spent the day on Thursday helping patients to cut out snowflakes. Some needed to be reminded how to fold the paper, some I worked together on snowflakes, some wanted me to leave paper so they could work on snowflakes independently. I will collect the flakes on Christmas Eve and mail them on the 26th.

Here are the snowflakes that I made. I took these at my desk with my iphone, so pardon the wonkiness.

Zippy and I will be working on more over the weekend.

Mail your snowflakes to:

Connecticut PSTA
60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden, CT  06514

Send your snowflakes to the Connecticut PTSA before Janurary 12th.

Thank you so much for stopping by during such a busy season. Can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Let It Snow!

This is my office door. Even though is was easy-peasy drawing that bear, it was great fun. Just sittin' on a snow bank, blowin' bubbles snowflakes. And you thought snow came from the clouds.... silly butterflies. Cutting out snowflakes is one of those things we all do as a kid and then one day, when we're all grown up and want to cut them out, we can't remember how to fold the paper! Fear not- help is on the way. Martha Stewart has a nice resource for folding, as does Snowflakes Info.

However, I think this is the easiest way to fold your snowflake paper. Folding this way gives you the marks for folding the paper into thirds. I'm sorry, I don't remember where I first learned to fold this way so I don't have a link. Just copy/paste/print the image below.

Sorry it got kind of crowded at the bottom of that page but I hope you can make sense of it.

OK, now---- stop back in tomorrow and I'll show you something very special that you can do with all of those snowflakes that you cut. It would be a great activity to share with your kids. In the mean time, thanks so very much for visiting today.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Sommerfugl Tree and an Offer

Check out the end of the post for an offer from Amy Kirkpatrick Art.

Sommerfugl- "summerfly". Norwegian for butterfly. Maybe it's "summer bird". At any rate, we're about butterflies today, naturally. Christmas butterflies, because, well- why not? Last year I took a leap of faith and, since it was my last Christmas working on that unit, decorated one of our trees just for me.

Yup, that's right--- butterflies. But of course! One of the gals brought in this white Christmas tree a few years ago and I've been decorating it in nice traditional ways every year, though not the same every year. The only hesitation I had last year about decorating the tree with red butterflies was that I really hoped the Clerk, who could see the tree from her work spot at the Nurses Station, would like it. She has fairly traditional tastes so I wasn't sure how it would go over with her and I didn't want her to have to look at an ugly tree all season. Fortunately, she loved it. Whew! Looking at it now, a year later, there are things I would definitely change but oh well....

I wanted to go back and do something more with the topper but time got away from me so that's the way it went. I like how it came out and saw a couple folks taking photos of it so guess it was OK.

This year, because of my job change, I don't have to decorate three trees and the entire unit, plan or assist with three parties and a Christmas Eve get-together or all the other little holiday things at work. I don't even have to do anything for the Christmas lunch in the department where I work now- just show up and eat. So that's how the other half lives!!! That also means I have loads more free time for myself and my family now. I've been dreaming of this day so maybe all the commotion and job upset was worth it!

The hospital has a house (small hotel-like setting, actually) for patient families and folks getting out-patient treatments such as daily chemotherapy. They've been having a wreath-decorating contest and auction for the past few years to benefit the Patient Comfort Fund. So guess what? I entered a wreath - wow! And I entered the wreath of my own free will, not someone deciding that "the unit" should enter a wreath, which inevitably meant me. I told one of the clerks to check out the wreaths when they go on display and she will know mine the second she sees it...

Looks familiar, doesn't it? I dabbled crystal glitter glue on all of the white wingtip spots but it doesn't show well in the photo.

 had something else in mind originally but it didn't work out on the greenery wreath- needs to be styro. Again, seeing things I would change but not gonna sweat it. Maybe next year.

OK, now, the offer.
This is exciting!

Last summer, I shared this watercolor butterfly painting by Amy Kirkpatrick--

No.42 Blue Rajah Butterfly, 8x10 Signed Fine Art Print of Amy Kirkpatrick watercolor

Amy has graciously offered a discount for you, my beautiful butterfly readers. So--- just in time to buy yourself a Christmas present--- go to her Etsy store, AmyKirkpatrickArt, and use the code butterflyjungle when you check out in order to save 10% on your purchase. I had a terrible time deciding but am anxiously and impatiently awaiting my two beauties. Yes, I couldn't decide so I got two. Merry Christmas to me!

Still running slow here in the jungle but it's been so fun to play Christmas at home this year that I don't really think about much else once I get home at the end of the day. Tomorrow? Finish the tree and the outside lights. Then it's on to lefsa and cookies!!!  Thanks so much for stopping in and I'll see ya next time.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Seasons Keep Changing

I haven't been around much. Sort of hacking my way through the jungle of life lately. Let me explain.

One year ago in November, I was suddenly faced with tremendous job insecurity. The unit at the hospital where I had worked for the past 20 years was closing (converting, really but I'll spare you the gory details) and my job was being eliminated. Sometime, but we didn't know exactly when. For the first time in my life, I was faced with losing my job. When you work in healthcare, the understanding is that the economy can boom or bust but people will always get sick, so needless to say, facing a layoff was a surprise. To be frank, it all came down to money: Medicare cuts have been devastating and our unit, primarily reimbursed through Medicare, could not continue to operate at a loss for the hospital. I'm just going to put it out there- I blame Obamacare. (This post is not about politics so any comments that are political in nature will not be posted. Just sayin')

I frantically weighed options and possibilities, even eventually being accepted into a nursing program, but it was a months long process and to be uncertain for all of those months was extremely stressful. I mean really, unless you've been in the position of losing a job, through no fault of your own, a person simply cannot imagine the stress. I had no idea. I felt in many ways as though I had been victimized. Some of you know that feeling or are in that same position right now and my heart goes out to you. I won't bore you with the details but in the end, after several months of uncertainty, I ended up passing up nursing school (I know, but as much as I would love to have gone, it's a complicated story) and have continued to work at the same hospital in a newly created, similar position. Like all jobs it has it's pros and cons but I generally like it. My "It's good to have a job" quip that I held to be true when the economy was first crashing in 2008 is not such a glib little catch phrase for me any more. I am thankful.

Through all of those months of turmoil and what was, quite honesty, times of fear and panic, I began to put my faith into action. A Pathological Worrier by nature (sooooo not exaggerating that), I began to be able to let go of my panic and fear by seeking out God's presence in prayer, placing my fears at His feet and leaving it there. Leaving it there has been the tricky part for me. I would ask God to carry the burden and rest in His provision but then would say, in essence, "I need to help you carry this because I don't think you can do it." Oh how wrong that is. I thought that I had to control the situation by thinking and fretting, that not doing so would cause me to fall off into oblivion. Really- Poof, I would be gone. I have a mental picture of God and I in a tugging match. You know how dogs will each grab one end of a toy and tug back and forth, growling at each other? That's my mental image of God-wrestling. Good grief. What a long and intense process that was (still is) of continually putting my fears back down at His feet so that He can pick them up, but it's a perfect example of how God can use bad situations to bring us closer to Him. And He has provided and taken care of me and my family.

But now let me tell you the rest of the story.....

As though the job stresses haven't been enough fun this past year, the past few weeks in particular have been brutal. That's simply the only way to describe it. In mid-September, my mom was suddenly in the O.R. for  open heart surgery. Boom! She is technically a senior citizen but in no way elderly. She has good cholesterol levels and takes good care of herself. She has cooked well for years because my dad is actually the one with a busy cardiac history. So it came as a real surprise to everyone that she too was getting a zipper over the sternum.

Once the ball got rolling there seemed to be no end to the surprises, almost none of them any good. Two days after Mom's surgery, my brother-in-law's house burned during a lightening storm. It had been my husband's grandmother's home so a very sad loss. Thankfully no one was hurt. Then one of my husband's cousins lost their son due to an ATV accident and a couple days later the 18 year old son of a very dear friend of mine was killed in a auto accident. Then came the news that another precious friend of mine was diagnosed with uterine cancer and yet another friend's son died of a drug overdose. Just for fun, I hit a deer one morning and ..........

A couple of weeks ago we found ourselves dealing with some struggles that my sweet precious Zippy-Girl has been having. These struggles of hers are very private and I don't think you'll ever hear me mention them again but they are struggles that break a mother's heart.

And now here we are, a year later, and Big 'Un, my precious husband, is the one in almost the same job situation I was in beginning last November. He works in the coal industry and they're taking a hit. Yes, I'm looking at you, Obama. He has worked for the same company for 30 years and has been targeted, along with other "gray beards" for an early retirement offer. He can take it or sit it out and see if he survives the non-optional cuts that come later in December. Or see if he gets the other job within the company that  he applied for. Big 'Un is a gentle giant and much better at handling this sort of thing than I am. His faith through the past month has been amazing and he has expressed comfort in the increasing time he has spent in prayer. All the same, it's wearing on him and I know that feeling of of waiting out the uncertainty. We had another time like this a few years ago: house-hunting misadventures, land sale horror stories, two wrecked vehicles, miscarriages and fertility struggles, loss of two wonder dogs, on and on it went, all packed into a few short months. Big 'Un and I were discussing some decisions that had to be made one morning during this time and he said, "I don't know what to do. I'm almost afraid to do anything because everything has gone so wrong the past few months." That's kind of where we are again.

A couple of weeks ago my mom went back in for a pacemaker but that is actually a good thing because she feels great now, if still weak. And my friend with the uterine cancer had a hysterectomy and all of the pathology came back negative so they think they got it all- no chemo or radiation. So good news.

Most people know about God's promise to Noah after the flood to never again destroy the earth and it's inhabitants by water and that the rainbow is a sign of that promise. But He also maded another promise:

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

My Zippy and I encourage ourselves with this verse in the dead of winter when we think that spring will never come and we might be stuck in the hell of winter forever. We reminder ourselves that God promises the seasons will always follow one after another in the order that He set them in motion. Spring always comes. When talking with folks about times of trial, I often share that I believe life has seasons, just like the earth. Sometimes it's winter, sometimes it's summer but the seasons of our life always change and progress forward so that no matter how bad things look, spring always comes. Things always get better.


Last year, in spite of all the stress and uncertainty, or perhaps because of it, I was struck with how ungrateful I truly am at times for the blessings and provision that I have been given. That horrible time was a genuine wake-up call to give heart-service, not just lip-service, for my blessings. And sure enough, spring and summer  in the seasons of our lives came in tidy order and while I truly hope that the past few weeks have been winter and not fall (because wow! we already feel pretty beaten up with bad news), I know that spring will come.

I am thankful for God's provision, for the promises that He made and that I don't have to wonder if He will keep them. He will. And the great part of winter is that not only is it followed by spring, but God promises that He will never leave us or forsake us. Even in winter.

So, in spite of feeling kind of like I've been run over by a train, I'm excited for Christmas. I have some fun things to share with you this December: some craftiness and some yumminess, some birthday garden stuff, maybe some music-y kind of stuff, some hall-decking stuff, and a little bit whole bunch of joyfulness. Because just like bulbs that need a period of freezy-winter cold in order to bloom and thrive, I'm happy for the spring that is coming. Thanks so much for creeping into the jungle with me today; I appreciate the visit.

Fabric Butterfly available from Sew Smashing on Etsy

Come on back on Monday-- I've got a great offer for my butterfly readers, just in time for Christmas shopping!