Tuesday, November 27, 2012

throwing the bomb

My mom is here!!!  
Okay, that has nothing to do with the subject but I can't seriously write about something else without mentioning this blissful news.  There will be more on that later.  But now, the news at hand.....

There was a bomb threat at school today.  Thankfully, it was after school was out so that majority of students were gone.  There were still soccer, basketball and drama practices, intramural soccer for elementary and stuff like that.
Maddy was at drama.  I get a call from her just after 5 saying that they had an emergency evacuation.  She can't tell me what is going on though and we shouldn't come down there.  Then she sent a text "just pray".  I text her "are you okay?" and she writes back "scared out of my mind".
Okay....  Well, we went down anyway.
There is chaos.  Well, well-controlled chaos, to be fair.  Just a lot of people with a lot of worried looks.  And some students in quite a state of panic.  Apparently a parent miss-overheard one of the police saying something and threw what was a fairly sane, non-panicked crowd into mayhem.  We won't go into all that..... we gave a bunch of people a ride home and then called it a day.
Some emotions are still running high, however.
In my twisted mind, I kept running through the scene in "Meet the Parents" when Greg goes off on the airplane about the bomb-ba-ba-bomb deal.  It kept me chuckling inside.

Thankfully, and not surprisingly, no bomb was found.  The downside is that there still is school tomorrow....

Sunday, November 11, 2012

creative gift wrapping

There is a new article up in the latest edition of the Inspired by Family magazine.
Its all about using regular stuff from around the house to wrap up your Christmas gifts.  Normally I would just send you there (which you can do any way) but I'm just going to post the whole there here as well.  Because of marketing and searching stuff that I don't understand, the editor has to change a lot of stuff.... I like how I originally write it better. 

I have a friend who boldly states how important a beautifully wrapped gift is to her:  You put in the time to make it pretty, it shows you care.  Other times gift wrapping is simply about survival.  Haven’t we all run out of Christmas paper right when we need to get a gift wrapped?  

In both situations, all we need is to look at regular items in a different way.  You are sure to have some great wrapping materials throughout your house, ordinary things that we might not normally think of using.
Let these photos inspire you and you should have plenty of ideas what to do when you want to show you care, but you have “nothing” to wrap with!
Play up with Papers
If you are out of wrapping paper, go for the stuff you have.  Here we have used kraft paper, waxed paper and computer paper.  Both the kraft and waxed paper were folded at regular intervals to give it some interest and texture.  Glue or Stitch the folds (use a plain straight stitch) in place.  Wrap it up with thread or ribbon if you have it.  Sew a random pattern on plain paper with a free-motion sewing using festive colored thread.  Tags can be made quickly with paint chip cards.
Scrap the Fabric
Dig into your fabric stash, or piles of discarded clothing, for gift wrapping.  Make a quick bag by cutting off the sleeve of a shirt or sweater.  Stitch the wider end of the sleeve closed, tuck in your gift and tie it closed with some string or cord.  You can also sew any size envelope with some left-over fabric.  Or take that fabric and stitch a simple sleeve to slide over your gift.  Use burlap, crumpled kraft paper or leaves for rustic tags.
Kitchen Covers
The kitchen if full of great materials to wrap up your gifts.  Use a mesh produce bag to hold a soft, light item wrapped in tissue paper.  Styrofoam trays can be sandwiched together to hold a gift (make sure they are good and clean first!)  A two liter soda bottle also makes a great container: cut off the top and the bottom, cut one to two inch slits every inch or two on both ends and fold down these tabs on one side, hot gluing them closed.  Tuck you gift inside and hot glue the tabs on the other end.  Here initial tags are made from scraps of felt and extra beads.
Contain with Cardboard
Boxes don’t have to be standard - use some unique containers and shapes.  A box from foil or plastic wrap is great for wrapping up a set of smaller gifts or a shirt that is rolled up and placed inside.  Use a toilet paper or paper towel roll, covered in paper to hold you gift.  Simply fold down two sides of one end, put in your gift, and fold down the other  side in the same fashion.  Oatmeal, chip, and coffee cans also make great containers.... cover them with sheet music from Christmas carols, or pages from a book.  The tags for these gifts were made from bits of left over craft supplies: jewelry wire and small wood shapes.
 Cash In
Whether you want to give the recipient a little extra or you simply want to add unique twist, cover your boxes with cash!  Hot glue pennies or nickels to your box (cover with white or kraft paper first if you desire.  All new coins give a great sparkle, while a mixture of old and new and interest and texture.  Wanted to spend a little more but didn’t know what to buy?  Make ribbon out of one dollar bills.  Add a little thread or ribbon if you desire more color.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

spiritual emphasis week - fall

The week before last was spiritual emphasis week for middle school and high school at Alliance.  As a chaplain's office, we put together the week, having a chapel session every day.  The theme for the week was "Seek First".  When planning for the week, Jake (my boss) had asked me what I really wanted my kids to learn - what was something that I was passionate about them knowing and living in the Christian lives.  I said that they seek first the kingdom of God.  After some discussion, that became the theme and focus for SEW (Spiritual Emphasis Week) and also chapels for the school year.
While they often have a speaker come in for the week, this year there was a different speaker for each day - and someone from within the Alliance community.  It didn't have as much hype as a normal SEW, but was a great, great week.
Each day Roberto (his wife works at Youth World) and Ricky (also works in the Chaplain's office) started the session with a medley of popular songs.  The kids got pretty into it - it was a lot of fun.  Then they transitioned into worship songs.
The first day, Juan, a guy who works on campus, spoke.  He had a great illustration of a long, long rope.  He taped off the end of it - about 6 inches.  Those 6 inches represented their life and the rest of the rope was eternity.  He challenged them to live for the whole rope length and not just those few inches.  
The second day, an older teacher, Mr. Bovey, spoke.  Students have said for years that he looks like Mr. Fredrickson from the movie Up.  He decided to use that to his advantage and his whole talk was based on the movie.  He had us find a Russell character to be part of his talk.  I was happy to expend some creative energies to make a costume for Russell!  I love it when work and creativity can intersect!

The third day Ricky spoke about God's kingdom.  While it was all in Spanish and I could only catch about half of his talk, it was obvious that even though Ricky is young, God has got an amazing future for him with preaching.  God powerfully speaks through him!
Mari spoke on Thursday about His Righteousness.  The following week during chapel, many students (female junior highers in particular) shared how Mari's talk had influenced them.
 Friday started out with a little on stage dancing - including getting Mr. Bovey up there to dance.
 Brent Becker finished the week off with a great challenge to surrender to the throne of God.

 It was a privilege to be a part of this week.... seeing kids make commitments to godly changes in their lives.

a little visit to the science museum

Okay, now this one was a very long time ago.  As in around 3 months.  Yes, that is 1/4 of a year ago.  It was one of several that I was going to get the kids to blog about but it just never happened.  My typical lack of follow through.  There are some others still remaining from the summer, but I think I'll just let those ones die a slow death.

Quito has a lovely Children's Museum.  It really is quite nice.  In fact, I would love to go back there some day - both to take the kids, but also to take some photos.  They have this darkly lit areas with many, many looms.  Yes, as in weaving.  With the dim lighting and the few spots here and there, one could take some great photos.  Another day, however.

We went with the Jensens who had their cousins visiting.  The ten of us hopped on the trolley had headed out on our adventure.  The most adventurous part of said adventure was the trolley ride itself.  I have never taken the kids on the trolley before as I have been much too paranoid.  Ever time I have been on it, it has been crazy crowded and doesn't feel very safe (and in fact, most people say it isn't).  We did it, however, and did experience the crowded factor.  Nothing bad happened, praise the Lord, other than just being pushed and prodded.  Cade found a comfy spot on the floor and hung out there most of the time.  Every once in a while he would try to stand up much to the astonishment and entertainment of the people around us.  They quite enjoyed seeing this little blond boy pop up beside me when they had no clue anyone else was there!

The museum itself is really well done.  It has all sorts of interactive lessons in science.

One of the coolest things, I thought, was a huge to-scale map of the city.  The map was probably at least 60 feet long, in this one dark room.  You could select areas that you wanted to see and it would shine lights on what you wanted to see.  This, for example, is the Basilica.

They also have a section for younger children to enjoy.  Lucy was the only one who wanted to visit here, so she and I hung out.  Well, she, I and a bunch of very mangy, awful looking taxidermied animals.  I still can't believe I let her touch these things.

It appears that she has a little of Eric's (ha ha ha) dramatic streak in her!
We finally joined up with the rest of the group.  They were in the human body science section.  We found them by hearing Maddy and Mikala cracking up to something.....  they did make several attempts to explain to me what they were dying over.
I still have no idea what was so funny.

all-ecuadorian wedding.....all

Another event that was much too long ago.  Why am I even blogging about it?

Yesterday I was also supposed to shoot an all Ecuadorian wedding.  But I got sick.  Thankfully I notified someone the night before - just in case - and they were able to find someone else.  But I felt terrible - so guilty.  Both to make them scrabble but also to not bring in the money for Casa G.  We need that money badly.  

What I'm not sorry about is not shooting the wedding.  It doesn't bring me much joy.  I supposed this isn't exactly right of me, but doing an all Ecuadorian wedding is a struggle for this gringa.

Don't get me wrong.  The people are wonderful.  Wonderful - friendly and fun.  And they like to have a good time.  Such a good time that weddings last for ever!!  10-14 hours is what I end up doing.  A little exhausting.  And since the party is the thing, organization is not.  Maybe we'll have time for portraits but maybe not.  But even if we don't have time, they are important, so somehow they need to happen even if there is no time for them.  And the photos should take place beside this rose bush because this rose bush is so pretty even though we are supposed to be featuring people, not pretty rose bushes, in the photos.  And since you liked my style and my previous weddings, why would you not trust me when I state where we should to do the photos and how we should pose??????
Okay, enough of that....

The couple was wonderful and very sweet.  The groom was a brother of a friend's husband (so a friend's brother-in-law..... may be a little easier to say).  I did truly enjoy working with them - they were a lot of fun and really enjoyed their wedding.  Here is a smattering of their photos.

I just need to pause and tell you about this little guy.  During the ceremony, he was cracking my up.  He was allowed to roam freely (that part didn't crack me up) and was very demonstrative with his face and body.  He was clearly telling everyone, including me, when I was in his way and that he deserved priority.
After the ceremony, I didn't find him quite so amusing.  And neither did the bridal couple!  He kept interrupting our photos, getting in the picture, getting in front of me, taking over the space during parts of the reception, wanting to play the drums on the side of the dance floor, etc.  And the parents?  Forget about it.  This kid is going to be in for a lifetime of hurt.
Moving on.

They had this band at the reception.  They put on a good show and the people all enjoyed them.  I'm pretty sure I enjoyed them the most, however.  Hearing all of these 80s english songs being "sung" with a strong spanish accent - it was thoroughly enjoyable for me.  I must have looked like an idiot, taking all of these pictures with a huge smile on my face - inwardly laughing as the lyrics were butchered.  I had a fabulous time!  Truly fabulous.
Another thing I can always count on with this type of wedding - there will be someone, probably more than one - who will hit on me.  In their sometimes drunken, slurred Spanish, I am sure to have some potential suitor want to talk and dance with the gringa photographer, regardless of whether I am 20 years older or 20 years younger than they are.  At this particular wedding I was privileged to have one of each.  Don't worry, I handle myself appropriately externally.  And internally, the laughter is aiding in my personal health.