Ava’s Bedroom Redecorated


Im sure everyone has seen the wall art that comes in tubes that you just stick on the wall to create a masterpiece in minutes.  Have you ever wondered if it’s really that easy and if it will actually look good on your walls?  Well, I found an awesome Etsy shop that has various options to create a small scene or a very large scene on your walls and I was very impressed.  I did this a few years ago before my first daughter was born.  I had an obsession with Circles so I purchesed the “Confetti Wall Graffic Set” from Michelle & Christina Art & Design on Etsy for $68.  I received 84 decals and I was able to choose up to 6 colors.  This is my creation:

 

So, my sweet little daughter decided she doesnt like the circles anymore and “Mommy, please take them off” so she could go to sleep in her own room.  Completely different story but she decided she wouldnt sleep in her own room after baby #2 arrived.  Now that we are slowly making the transition back into her room, she is redecorating.  I bought the new stickers from Kohls and they came in a tube with enought stickers to create a tree design over an area above my daughter’s queen size bed.  I didnt measure but it would make a nice centerpiece in a giant headboard if she had one.   I got these on sale for $9 on clearance but I believe designs around this size run between $20 and $30.  Here is the new design:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do love Michelle & Christina’s unique designs and would highly recommend that you check their etsy store before settling for the generic patterns that are sold in almost every super store.  I was not solicited to write this article and was not compensated in any way.  I merely wanted to display the changes I made to my daughter’s room.  We kept the circles over the rocking chair where the new baby’s crib now resides and over the doorway 🙂

 

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Cribs to fall in love with…


 

 
WOW. 10 most outrageous baby cribs: http://ow.ly/5rCTK just posted Outrageous Cribs and they are definately outrageous in style and in price.  Some of these cribs go up to $20,000 and I’m guessing that is minus the bedding…not sure on the details.  I saved a few of my favorites but check out the link above to view them all.  They range from a crazy acrylic bed which looks like the mattress is floating, to a crib that is marked fragile and looks similar to a box, to the fancy pantsy carriage cribs.  I chose to post the more victorian style cribs.  Oh, how much fun I could have with a bunch of money that had no purpose.  Unfortunately for style sake I have a very strict sense of budgeting and practicality.    It’s fun to dream though, right?

GVSU MSW Graduation Hooding Ceremony


I wanted to share this very special speech my friend, Dianna wrote for our graduation hooding ceremony.  It is slightly referenced in my Tiny Prints post.

Welcome Grand Valley MSW students, a special welcome to those from Soo Saint Marie. We welcome our families, babies, and friends. We welcome Dean Grant, and members of the Grand Valley faculty. We also welcome anyone else who traveled to God’s country on this gorgeous day to be a part of this hooding ceremony. whew–I think that should cover everyone. there are a few things that are possible in the next five to ten minutes. Usually, when I perform as a public speaker, I often have, what my friend Dolly calls, “a gratitude attack” because I cry with tears of joy. Sometimes I swear…though I don’t do that as often since I left construction and began studying social work and if it does happen, it will be spontaneous, because I took all the swear words out of the written copy. Most importantly, I promise not to talk all afternoon. Brevity, as my classmates know, is difficult for me at best when I am the center of attention. I am well aware that on such a day of celebration, that you would like to hear is a speech that is inspirational,…yet short. There are a total of 935 words in this talk, and you have already heard 210 of them.

Well, here we are. Wow. Did you know that you can buy graduation speeches on the internet for $ 20.00? Of course, not one of them said what I want to say today, and none of them could describe what has happened to any of us in the last three years. So I decided to write my own.

In our first class, Fall of 2008, there were 27 new master’s of social work students in the Traverse City cohort. Professor O came the University Center from Grand Valley’s campus to teach Cultural Competency. She taught us about the “lens” that we see others through, how diversity is a blessing, about the similarities and differences between cultures and the importance of being aware of them. These are all very important lessons to learn as future social workers… to be sure,…but the one thing that she said that has stayed with many of us is “this program is going to change you. You will go through many life experiences together during the next three years.” Now, being on the other end of that, I would say she was right.

There have been external changes–many of our families look very different than they did when we started. In the Traverse City cohort, there have been seven babies born. SEVEN. BABIES. You were in grad school people, how the heck did you find the time to make THAT happen?

Two very strong women that were not yet aware of that, became empowered and left unhealthy marriages and filed for divorce. Two of us have exchanged wedding vows with our beloveds. Three of us are engaged to do the same thing in the future. Did I mention SEVEN babies?? There are only 18 of us and one is a male…seven babies is extraordinary! Some of us, on the other hand, have faced an empty nest. Others have bought and sold houses, vehicles and businesses. I for one haven’t cut my hair since I started grad school…and neither has Adam. A lot has changed, and we’ve gone from 27 students to 18 Traverse City students who are being hooded today. 36 total MSW students when we count SSM. 36 very different people from those who started in 2008.

Alisha said recently in her blog, “I expected to show up for class once a week and learn about social work theory and practice.” We all did that, of course, but I’m not sure that any of us were prepared for the internal change that has occurred. Graduate school has showed us what we are made of, whether we are nursing a baby with one arm and typing a paper with the other, pushing through exhaustion beyond our wildest expectation in order to finish a project, or continuing this program despite the deaths of family members, births of babies, cancer or other medical trauma…, and change. For some of us, a Masters degree seemed out of reach, and yet here we are. For others, they’ve known always that they wanted to be social workers and this is an end goal. For others, a doctoral program is in the future. Regardless, this journey, this program and brought us to this time, this place, right now. Somehow we have juggled jobs, internships, children, school work, and managed to sustain relationships. Somehow we still have some…, and I repeat SOME,…semblance of sanity. Some of us have even had some fun. (Seven babies.) This program has changed me. Sitting in class once a week with classmates and Grand Valley instructors has changed all of us.

I used to be afraid of change…because I had a fear of the unknown. Fear. I have learned that where there is fear, there is no faith. Change is happening and will continue to happen regardless of whether we meet it with fear or with faith. That is something I learned in this program…and I don’t believe this meets any of the specific competencies!

After we graduate and don’t have papers to write or powerpoints to put together, there will be change. Instead we will be writing case notes, grants to justify our jobs, and treatment plans. Our external circumstances will change because we won’t meet once a week to learn from each other, instead we will be using the skills that we learned while we were all together to create and empower change in others. So I challenge you, classmates…and faculty, to continue the changes that have occurred in you as a result of this program. Be the change you wish to see in the world. That IS why we have become social workers, is it not? We will never reach “graduation” when it comes to change. We can always strive to learn, to know ourselves better, to know others better, to treat others better. We can always change for good. That is my challenge to you, to always strive to be better people, better practitioners and better social workers.

Namaste.

Consider Tiny Prints for your Graduation Announcements


I am excited to say that I will be attending my own graduation next week!  I will be graduating with my Master’s Degree in Social Work and this has been a long-awaited victory/accomplishment.  Over the last 3 years, I have learned so much about my field of study, the world we live in, and most importantly myself.  I remember during the first semester, a very wise professor told us that as a  cohort (then approx. 40 students, now approx. 17 left), we would go through significant life events together  but it is the most accurate statement anyone could have made.  I expected to show up to class once a week and learn about theory.  While, I did in fact do that, there was so much more to this experience.  We have experienced births (8 to be exact – I think), a handful of divorces, a couple of marriages, death of a spouse, supported a member with a cancer diagnosis (and she is in REMISSION!), and I’m sure at one point in time all of us have sought some form of counseling for ourselves.  We embarked on a journey that most of us never imagined but it has brought me so much pride and many new friendships.  Remembering previous graduations, they didn’t really seem this “big”, this time, I feel like I actually accomplished something out of reach.  With my high school diploma it was a breeze.  With my bachelor program, I felt a huge sense of relief to have finished a four-year degree while working more than one job but I always knew that I would seek a higher degree so I wasn’t actually done yet.  Now, I feel that I have come to the finish line.  Best of all, I just got offered a fantastic position working for the state! After two years of unemployment, I feel like everything is coming together.  What a great reason to celebrate! And, what a great reason to send out announcements for all of these accomplishments.  Check out Tiny Prints for your printing needs:

Tiny Prints provides stylish, modern and unique graduation stationery including graduation announcements, graduation invitations,and thank you cards for teens. When graduation season has come and gone Tiny Prints will still be here to fill all your stationery needs with their exclusive designs from the nation’s top designers. You’ll find summer party invitations, personalized greeting cards, thank you cards, business cards, and even custom wedding invitations. Come try the easy card personalization, powerful preview engine and top-notch customer service and paper quality for yourself! With Tiny Prints by your side commemorating every holiday and momentous occasion is a cinch!

History of the Easter Bunny


Retrieved from: http://www.goddessgift.com/pandora%27s_box/easter-history.htm

 

Easter : History and Traditions

Goddess Ostara
History of Easter Eggs

History of the Easter Bunny
Goddess Ishtar and the First Resurrection


 

Easter History : Christian and Pagan Traditions Interwoven

 

The history of Easter reveals rich associations between the Christian faith and the seemingly unrelated practices of the early pagan religions. Easter history and traditions that we practice today evolved from pagan symbols, from the ancient goddess Ishtar to Easter eggs and the Easter bunny.

Easter, perhaps the most important of the Christian holidays, celebrates the Christ’s resurrection from the dead following his death on Good Friday. . . a rebirth that is commemorated around the vernal equinox, historically a time of pagan celebration that coincides with the arrival of spring and symbolizes the arrival of light and the awakening of life around us.


 

Ostara, Goddess of Spring and the Dawn (Oestre / Eastre)

Easter is named for a Saxon goddess who was known by the names of Oestre or Eastre, and in Germany by the name of Ostara. She is a goddess of the dawn and the spring, and her name derives from words for dawn, the shining light arising from the east. Our words for the “female hormone” estrogen derives from her name.

Ostara was, of course, a fertility goddess. Bringing in the end of winter, with the days brighter and growing longer after the vernal equinox, Ostara had a passion for new life. Her presence was felt in the flowering of plants and the birth of babies, both animal and human. The rabbit (well known for its propensity for rapid reproduction) was her sacred animal.

Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny both featured in the spring festivals of Ostara, which were initially held during the feasts of the goddess Ishtar | Inanna. Eggs are an obvious symbol of fertility, and the newborn chicks an adorable representation of new growth. Brightly colored eggs, chicks, and bunnies were all used at festival time to express appreciation for Ostara’s gift of abundance.


History of Easter Eggs and Easter Candy

The history of Easter Eggs as a symbol of new life should come as no surprise. The notion that the Earth itself was hatched from an egg was once widespread and appears in creation stories ranging from Asian to Ireland.

Eggs, in ancient times in Northern Europe, were a potent symbol of fertility and often used in rituals to guarantee a woman’s ability to bear children. To this day rural “grannywomen” (lay midwives/healers in the Appalachian mountains) still use eggs to predict, with uncanny accuracy, the sex of an unborn child by watching the rotation of an egg as it is suspended by a string over the abdomen of a pregnant woman.

Dyed eggs are given as gifts in many cultures. Decorated eggs bring with them a wish for the prosperity of the abundance during the coming year.

Folklore suggests that Easter egg hunts arose in Europe during “the Burning Times”, when the rise of Christianity led to the shunning (and persecution) of the followers of the “Old Religion”. Instead of giving the eggs as gifts the adults made a game of hiding them, gathering the children together and encouraging them to find the eggs. Some believe that the authorities seeking to find the “heathens” would follow or bribe the children to reveal where they found the eggs so that the property owner could be brought to justice.

Green Eggs . . .
. . . and Ham???

The meat that is traditionally associated with Easter is ham. Though some might argue that ham is served at Easter since it is a “Christian” meat, (prohibited for others by the religious laws of Judaism and Islam) the origin probably lies in the early practices of the pagans of Northern Europe.

Having slaughtered and preserved the meat of their agricultural animals during the Blood Moon celebrations the previous autumn so they would have food throughout the winter months, they would celebrate the occasion by using up the last of the remaining cured meats.

In anticipation that the arrival of spring with its emerging plants and wildlife would provide them with fresh food in abundance, it was customary for many pagans to begin fasting at the time of the vernal equinox, clearing the “poisons” (and excess weight) produced by the heavier winter meals that had been stored in their bodies over the winter. Some have suggested that the purpose of this fasting may have been to create a sought-after state of “altered consciousness” in time for the spring festivals. One cannot but wonder if this practice of fasting might have been a forerunner of “giving up” foods during the Lenten season.

Chocolate Easter bunnies and eggs, marshmallow chicks in pastel colors, and candy of all sorts . . . these have pagan origins as well! To understand their association with religion we need to examine the meaning of food as a symbol.

The ancient belief that, by eating something we take on its characteristics formed the basis for the earliest “blessings” before meals (a way to honor the life that had been sacrificed so that we as humans could enjoy life) and, presumably, for the more recent Christian sacrament of communion as well.

Shaping candy Easter eggs and bunnies out of candy to celebrate the spring festival was, simply put, a way to celebrate the symbols of the goddess and the season, while laying claim to their strengths (vitality, growth, and fertility) for ourselves.

 


The Goddess Ostara and the Easter Bunny

Feeling guilty about arriving late one spring, the Goddess Ostara saved the life of a poor bird whose wings had been frozen by the snow. She made him her pet or, as some versions have it, her lover. Filled with compassion for him since he could no longer fly (in some versions, it was because she wished to amuse a group of young children), Ostara turned him into a snow hare and gave him the gift of being able to run with incredible speed so he could protect himself from hunters.

In remembrance of his earlier form as a bird, she also gave him the ability to lay eggs (in all the colors of the rainbow, no less), but only on one day out of each year.

Eventually the hare managed to anger the goddess Ostara, and she cast him into the skies where he would remain as the constellation Lepus (The Hare) forever positioned under the feet of the constellation Orion (the Hunter). He was allowed to return to earth once each year, but only to give away his eggs to the children attending the Ostara festivals that were held each spring. The tradition of the Easter Bunny had begun.

Easter Bunny had begun.

The Hare was sacred in many ancient traditions and was associated with the moon goddesses and the various deities of the hunt. In ancient times eating the Hare was prohibited except at Beltane (Celts) and the festival of Ostara (Anglo-Saxons), when a ritual hare-hunt would take place.

In many cultures rabbits, like eggs, were considered to be potent remedies for fertility problems. The ancient philosopher-physician Pliny the Elder prescribed rabbit meat as a cure for female sterility, and in some cultures the genitals of a hare were carried to avert barrenness.

Medieval Christians considered the hare to bring bad fortune, saying witches changed into rabbits in order to suck the cows dry. It was claimed that a witch could only be killed by a silver crucifix or a bullet when she appeared as a hare.

Given their “mad” leaping and boxing displays during mating season as well as their ability to produce up to 42 offspring each spring, it is understandable that they came to represent lust, sexuality, and excess in general. Medieval Christians considered the hare to be an evil omen, believing that witches changed into rabbits in order to suck the cows dry. It was claimed that a witch could only be killed by a silver crucifix or a bullet when she appeared as a hare.

In later Christian tradition the white Hare, when depicted at the Virgin Mary’s feet, represents triumph over lust or the flesh. The rabbit’s vigilance and speed came to represent the need to flee from sin and temptation and a reminder of the swift passage of life.

And, finally, there is a sweet Christian legend about a young rabbit who, for three days, waited anxiously for his friend, Jesus, to return to the Garden of Gethsemane, not knowing what had become of him. Early on Easter morning, Jesus returned to His favorite garden and was welcomed the little rabbit. That evening when the disciples came into the garden to pray, still unaware of the resurrection, they found a clump of beautiful larkspurs, each blossom bearing the image of a rabbit in its center as a remembrance of the little creature’s hope and faith.

 

 


Ishtar, Goddess of Love, and the First Resurrection (also known as Inanna)

Ishtar, goddess of romance, procreation, and war in ancient Babylon, was also worshipped as the Sumerian goddess Inanna. One of the great goddesses, or “mother goddesses”, stories of her descent to the Underworld and the resurrection that follows are contained in the oldest writings that have ever been discovered. . . the Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish and the story of Gilgamesh. Scholars believed that they were based on the oral mythology of the region and were recorded about 2,100 B.C.E.

The most famous of the myths of Ishtar tell of her descent into the realm of the dead to rescue her young lover, Tammuz, a Vegetation god forced to live half the year in the Underworld. Ishtar approached the gates of the Underworld, which was ruled by her twin sister Eresh-kigel, the goddess of death and infertility. She was refused admission.

Similar to the Greek myths of Demeter and Persephone that came later, during Ishtar’s absence the earth grew barren since all acts of procreation ceased while she was away. Ishtar screamed and ranted that she would break down the gates and release all of the dead to overwhelm the world and compete with the living for the remaining food unless she was allowed to enter and plead her case with her twin.

Needless to say, she won admission. But the guard, following standard protocol, refused to let her pass through the first gate unless she removed her crown. At the next gate, she had to remove her earrings, then her necklace at the next, removing her garments and proud finery until she stood humbled and naked after passing through the seventh (and last) gate.

In one version, she was held captive and died but was brought back to life when her servant sprinkled her with the “water of life”. In the more widely known version of the myth, Ishtar’s request was granted and she regained all of her attire and possessions as she slowly re-emerged through the gates of darkness.

Upon her return, Tammuz and the earth returned to life. Annual celebrations of this “Day of Joy”, were held each year around the time of the vernal equinox. These celebrations became the forerunners of the Ostara festivals that welcomed Oestre and the arrival of spring.

A section on the Goddess Inanna (the Sumerian version of the Goddess Ishtar), her myths and symbols, is included with the myths of the goddesses at this website.

 


Easter eggs, the Easter Bunny, the dawn that arrives with resurrection of life, and the celebration of spring all serve to remind us of the cycle of rebirth and the need for renewal in our lives. In the history of Easter, Christian and pagan traditions are gracefully interwoven.

Spring! or Summer?


This weekend’s weather has been absolutely fantastic! I’ll take 75 degrees in April any time.  Yesterday we played outside all day with very little television, it was great.  My daughter and I went for a 3 mile walk with my sister-in-law and nephew.  After we got home and had some lunch and naptime, we worked in the yard and took another short little walk.  We got a lot done outside.  Tradgically my house doesnt look as nice…  Today we went shopping in the rain, thats what rainy weather is for, right? shopping?

  The weather cleared up and dried up in time to play outside again!

 I hope tomorrow is just as nice.  My dog is also loving this warm weather but I think he prefers less thunder 🙂

I even had some time to make these booties for my new nephew arriving in July.  I already sent her the teddy bear hat and diaper cover without taking pics but they are all camo per her request. I got the pattern from PolkaDotPosh

Mom’s Medical Maladies ~ Just for fun


I found this in the “Parenting: Early Years” April 2011 edition.  Thought it was cute.

1.) Congestive Art Failure: The inability to find room for one more cross-eyed portrait of Daddy on the fridge.

2.) Sexzema: The way your skin crawls when your husband tries to cop a feel after you’ve spent a long day with a whiny, clingy kid

3.) Mallergies: Severe aversion to large shopping centers after enduring multiple $80 detours into Build-a-Badger (not sure what this is)

4.) Damnesia: Disorientation at hearing your child use a bad word, until you remember he heard you use it first.

5.) “My”graine: Throbbing headache after a two-hour playdate refereeing fights over a single toy ina chock-full basement

6.) Hymnsomnia: sleeplessness due to anxiety over how one’s offspring will behave in church

7.) Manopause: Overwhelming need for a girls’ night own following an afternoon of baseball widowhood

8.) Gum Dis-ease: Anxious monitoring of kindergartner enjoying a chiclet, wondering if it’ll end up on your sofa or in her windpipe

9.) Gastrointerestitis: excessive focus on teh contents of a sick toddler’s diaper

10.) Carpool tunnel Syndrome: Sensation of spending one’s days endlessly shuttling rowdy kids to tumble classes and playdates.

I dont think they fit everyone but I think everyone can giggle at one or two of them and relate 🙂

Have a nice day!

More Precious Moments


This morning when I was getting Miss Ava ready for daycare and changing her diaper she looked at me with her tired eyes and said “Mama – Pretty” (emphasizing the T’s).  I smiled at her and said “Oh, thank you.  Is Ava pretty too?” she says “Yes” (emphasizing the S’s).  I just love these moments of unexpected gifts of sweetness.  I think all children think their mothers are pretty but it really makes you feel good to hear it, especially for the first time.

As if that wasn’t good enough, when I was finished reading bedtime stories tonight I snuggled up with my little sweetie-pie and told her that I loved her…oh, about a million times…and said “can you say ‘love’?  I’ve asked her before without any response other than a smile but this time I got a big grin plus a “yove”  so I asked her to say “you” and she did.  I tried to get her to say “love you” all at once but it didnt happen.  I’ll settle for both seperately.  It was so cute.  I always sing to her after bedtime stories and while I was singing she kept repeating “yove, yove, yove, yove…” it just made me laugh.  I wonder if she will say it from now on…we’ll see. 

Hope you enjoyed my mama moment.

Precious Moments


Ava wearing pants on her head

Yesterday, I was in a hurry trying to get Ava outside and into the car before work.  As I tried to hurry her out the door, she immediately became entranced by the chirping of the birds and continued at an even slower pace.  I quickly said  “Yes, baby, the birds are saying “Good Morning Ava” then  I threw all our stuff in the car, started it, and then turned around to see Ava’s beautiful face lit up while telling me about the birds.  The birds continued chirping and it was slightly warmer than previous days.  I told her again that the birds were saying “Good morning, Ava”.   Her smile became so bright that it made me smile all day long.  She was so excited and seemed to believe that the birds were talking to her and saying “good morning” specifically to her.  Precious moments.  This is one Ill savor forever.  Pictures could not capture the look of wonder and amazement on her little face.  It was at that moment that I decided my agenda was not nearly as important as giving her the satisfaction of telling me about the birds talking to her “tweet tweet” as she says, or more like “teet, teet”. So sweet.

Valentine’s Day fun with Kiddos


Over the weekend I unintentionally kicked off the Valentines Day projects with my daughter, Ava (18 months).  I love introducing her to new and fun projects.  Sometimes I get questions about why I do these projects with Ava even though she is so young and I end up doing most of the project.  My answer is simply that I know she enjoys herself and she is learning regardless of whether she will remember. 

Our first project was to make homemade playdough.  We got this recipe from playgroup and it was altered from the original source but turned out perfectly. 

No-Cook Play Dough

2 1/2 C. Flour

1/2 C. Salt

3T. Corn Oil

1T Alum (a pickling agent)

2C boiling water

2 pkgs kool aid

Directions: Combine in a bowl in order given and stir. 
Add more flour as needed.  Store in a covered container.  You can store in the refrigerator. 

Very young children will enjoy punching, pulling, patting, pinching, rolling, shaping, and ripping the dough.  Add cookie cutters, forks, orange peel cutters, popscicle sticks and other poking devices for more advanced learners.  Manipulating the dough helps young children learn important developmental skills including object permanency, hand eye-coordination, and creativity.

Our Second project was Jello Jigglers! The recipe is on the box…well most boxes.  Basically use 4  (3 oz) packages of Jello, boil 2 1/2 C of water and stir into gelatin until dissolved.  Refrigerate for 3 hours.  I used a 10×13 pan and used heart cookie cutters to make different heart shapes.  She loved the jello,  not so sure she cared what shapes they were.

And our Third Yummy Valentines Day Treat was the Fruit Pizza.  I made it more holiday like by cutting the strawberries into hearts and the only one I salvaged was placed in the center.  I also added a twist to the filling which is very easy but most people dont think about doing this…all I did was smash some strawberries and blended them into the filling before topping the sugar cookie.

Basic recipe: Store bought Sugar Cookie dough (single roll – I made the mistake of not paying attention that the tubs are much larger and overflowed my pizza stone and had a huge mess) and roll out onto a pan for one giant cookie.  Bake approx. 14 minutes or until golden.  Filling: One pkg cream cheese, one tub of cool whip, and add strawberries or other fruit for color and flavor.  I also added about a 1/4 cup of powdered sugar to take the edge of the cream cheese flavor.  Top with sliced fruit of your choice! Ta da!

licking the spatula! Yum!

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