Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Bunny Artist

Notes from the artist:
"I drawed - well, actually painted - a picture of Nadia and Mommy with earrings. I am pleased with how it turned out because I think it's pretty and I know my mommy likes it...right mommy? I wore bunny ears because I wanted to and they are cute. Oh, may I please have one piece of candy now?"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Team-Up Thursday: Red

There's a new game in town this week, and I'm excited to be playing along!

Megan and Melody have launched Team-Up Thursday, where each team of two people gets to select a theme each week and then post their interpretations side by side as a dyptich.

I asked Joanna to be my buddy, and -*whew!* - she accepted. I am always inspired by Jo's images, and I look forward to seeing the creative spin she puts on our themes each week.

For this first week, we decided to start off with an easy one: red. So here goes!

I was going to tell you who took each photo - but you know what? I think it'd be more fun to let you guys guess. Are our styles distinctive enough that you can tell them apart?? I'll come back tomorrow evening and edit the post to reveal the answer.

P.S. Jo, sorry for changing "the rules" at the last minute!!! Don't hate me.


Visit Megan and Melody for more double fun. But gals, I'm a bit unclear on some of the nittygritty details - am I supposed to leave links at both of your blogs??

Well, most of you guessed right! Tomato was mine, flag was Jo's.

Monday, January 25, 2010

IT and HER

Has anyone ever been able to satisfactorily define "IT"??

Well, whatever IT is, Nadia has it.





And attitude galore!

(and lots more besides, but that's what these particular photos say to me!)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Brown Cat, Brown Cat, What do you see?

She is soft and snuggly with an adorably lopsided hand-stitched smile.

And Nadia fell in love with her at first sight.

(note: the above is one of a total of four photos I took at all the Christmas celebrations. I suck at recording the big events.)

Nadia's aunt made her a stuffed cat for for Christmas, and there's no doubt that it takes the prize as Nadia's favorite gift of the year. My girl's face lit of as the wrapping paper fell away, and she crushed the kitty to her chest. "I will love this even more than TedBear!" she exclaimed.

And...she sorta does.

The cat was promptly dubbed Brown Cat - a most unexpected name choice, seeing as we have a black cat named Blackie and a gray one named Gray. No naming pattern to be discerned there!

Nadia loves cat. LOVES them. And this huggable kitty - who doesn't run away from excessive love! - has become her new best pal.

Brown Cat has gone with her to school and on trips to the park. She whispers secrets in her velvety ear, and communicates in meows. Most evenings as we get ready for bed, she tells me, "this night I will sleep with my kitty, and you can sleep with TedBear." (yes, I really do sleep with Ted)

Brown Cat is top dog....errr, top cat. :o)

And, seeing as Brown Cat is so beloved and charmingly quirky and cleverly hand-designed-and-made...I've even forgiven my sister for giving my daughter the "best gift" of the season.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

One week down...

...many more to go!!

It has been a little bit surreal to be back at school again - twilight zone! In some ways it feels foreign after all this time, but it also feels familiar and comfortable. Now I remember why I always loved school and learning. It's such a great atmosphere, both relaxed and buzzing with energy at the same time (all except the t.e.r.r.i.b.l.e. parking, anyway!). I like sitting in the library studying, highlighter in hand, with all these other people around me doing the same thing.

It's definitely going to be an adjustment getting back into the swing of this student thing, tho. Apparently I need to learn how to learn again. I sat down to read the first chapter of my biology textbook, and I found myself re-reading the same paragraph multiple times to soak in the meaning. The first chapter! The basic stuff, the stuff I already know! Oy.

But I can already feel myself getting into the groove and it's coming more naturally. Other than juggling a fuller schedule, I think this semester will be more fun than hard. I'm most excited about biology lecture - I have a fabulous professor and he's going to make an interesting subject even more interesting. Art appreciation and bio lab, well, I don't expect I'll be bored to tears by either one and they won't require a lot of time, so it's all good.

Nadia, sweet girl that she is, is ever so excited about her Mommy going to school. Nurses are heroes in her book, and she couldn't be prouder. I think she was expecting me to come home from the first day of classes as a full-fledged nurse, tho.

Speaking of that first day, that morning she crawled into bed beside me for our morning snuggle and chat.

"Do you know what today is?" I asked, and when she shook her head I told her, "it's a school day for both of us."

"Wow!" She sat bolt upright and slid down the side of the bed. "I need to tell Blackie that exciting news!"

"Guess what?!" she gently cradled the cat's head in her hands. "My Mommy and me are both going to school on the very same day!"

And then she was back, sliding between the covers next to me again. "Blackie didn't seem very impressed," she reported. "I guess cats don't really understand about things like school."

But Nadia seems to consider herself an expert on all things school. "Mommy," she told me in all seriousness, "usually you are my boss, but at school the teacher will be your boss. Okay?"

The weather this week has been gorgeous, and we've started a little routine of picking her up from school and then stopping by the park for a little playing and studying. It's been nice - even if the studying hasn't worked out quite the way I'd planned it....but hey, the girl says she needs to learn "all about the owl book" and who am I to interfere with that?!

Considering the way I struggled through that first chapter, maybe she can be my tutor.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Put Me In the Zoo

Someone found the stamps the other day....the non-washable ones.

Her polka dots remind me of that book "Put Me in the Zoo!"

They started out much brighter - flourescent pink and blue! - and had already faded significantly by the 2nd day when I snapped the pics.

And if you notice that she doesn't look too distraught by it - you're right.

The dots are almost gone now, and she's upset about that.

Goofy girl.

Maybe she does belong in the zoo.

Actually, I think it's ME that lives in the zoo.

It's always a zoo with her around.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hope and love and gratitude

I love you.

Yes, you.

If you're reading this - I love you.

When I first started blogging, I craved subscribers and comments and page views. I wanted to be popular in this online world, and I obsessed over it. But it didn't leave me feeling satisfied. There was always more to want, and that sucked the joy right out of it.

These days, I don't worry about those things. I blog less (ie, when I want to!), I don't participate in memes, I visit and comment on other blogs less, and I don't stalk my own SiteMeter account. But I feel much more satisfied by it.

I have a community here - a community of people I care about and who care about me. Those of you who stop by and leave me words of love and laughter and support matter to me; you're my friends, not just anonymous commentors to boost my ratings.

And I love you.

I love that you care. Sometimes it baffles me that there are so many people out there that truly care about me and believe in me, even when I don't.

I love that I can write about stuff like this and this and the support just comes rolling in. Honest, sincere support and inspiration and encouragement...from the friends I can count on and also from a few people I don't know, but who cared enough about this stranger's story to take the time to leave words of support.

I love the behind-the-scenes e-mail exchanges between some of us in response to the comments you leave here or the comments I leave at your virtual home.

I love that I got Christmas cards from several of you, even tho I didn't send any out this year.

I love that yesterday I received a care package of fresh-from-the-backyard California avocados and lemons from Carrie. (Thanks again, Care!)

I love that Jen shared her felted wool scraps with me, and so many of you have inspired me to find my crafty side.

I love that Jaimee has become a dear IRL friend, and I get to see I get to her and her boys regularly (altho not in a couple weeks - we need to get our schedules meshing, Jaimee! Hope you guys feel better soon.)

I love that my friend Joanna sent me the butterfly of hope shown at the end of yesterday's post - just becasue she saw it and thought of me.

The butterfly is sweet gift from a sweet friend, but it's also more than that. It's a tangible reminder for me of all the awesome people I have supporting and believing in me. It's a symbol of faith and hope.

And that rocks.

Thanks for showing me just how wonderful a blogging community can be. *muah!*

School Daze

It has been almost a decade since the last time I entered a classroom as a student....but in a few short days, that will change.

I have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up, and I'm going back to school to become a nurse.

Nursing has always been on my radar. My Mom is a nurse, and - after getting his degree a few years ago - so is my Dad. It's always been on my list, a possibility. I've played around with several other options, but I always came back to nursing.

I came back to it again when I found myself single again last year. Nursing seemed to be a great fit. And yet, I was hesitant. I've never been good at making decisions.

So I made an appointment with the career counselor at the local community college and I took the Myers-Briggs and MBTI. I'd taken both tests years before, and I found it fascinating and very self-revealing to see how I have changed significantly in some areas and yet stayed the same in others. As we analyzed the results of the tests, they both pointed to the same thing: NURSING. In fact, the career counselor said it's rare to see such a strong indication.

And so, I decided to go for it. I'm doing it. I'm going to be a nurse.

I'm excited. Nursing is going to be a great career for me. Biology and the human body fascinate me. They always have. I am excited by the idea of working in the medical field and comforting people when they need comforting the most. Plus, it will be a great way to support myself and my daughter - nurses are always in demand no matter what the economy, it pays well, and it's a very flexible career with many different options. It's the perfect match for me, making sense both on paper and in my heart.

BEING a nurse will be great. BECOMING a nurse...well, that the part I'm a bit apprehensive about. I always enjoyed school and was a great student. I have over 50 college credit hours racked up and a 4.0 GPA (too bad I just took "interesting" classes that don't apply to any degree!). But it's been a long time since I did a lick of studying, and I wasn't a single working mom back then. Can I hack it??? I'm nervous about juggling one more thing, but I honestly am also looking forward to it too. It'll be a challenge, but most good things are, right?!

And it will be a good thing. But I'll be honest - right now it feels like a looong road to get there. I still have pre-requisites to finish before I can even apply to the program - only six classes, but because of the way they are stacked (A has to be completed before B which is before C) it'll take awhile. The earliest I could start the nursing program is Fall 2011, and then two more years for nursing school - so almost four years.

I know that in the whole scheme of things, four years is nothing. But right now it doesn't feel like nothing. It feels like a lot. Four years before I can be financially stable and independent. Four years of NOT being financially stable and independent. That feels big. I think I will enjoy the actual coursework, I just don't like that it takes four years of my life to get there.

But I will get there, and it will be worth it. I am moving forward and making a fresh start. It will be good for me and my daughter.

The local community college - local as in, less than a mile from my house! - has one of the best nursing programs in the country. Classes start next week. This first semester I'm taking two classes: Biology (which I've taken before but needs to be repeated since it's been over 5 years), and Art Appreciation (my Humanities elective). I'm glad for an "easy" semester to ease me back into this whole school thing. Hopefully I still think it's "easy" in another month!!

When I grow up, I'm going to be a nurse. And I'm taking my first steps to get there now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Crafty Tuesday - Flower Clippies & Puzzle Blocks

Giving really is better than receiving...especially handmade gifts! I had fun creating and giving some cute things for Christmas this year. Thankfully they have all been well received - little ones don't care about flaws!

(her first comment about the marker roll? "You remembered that I love kitties!")

Question: Why is it so hard to remember to take pictures of the goodies?! I have a couple things to feature here today, but the others will have to wait until I've had a chance to snap some pics. (Jenny - please bring capes to church on Sunday!)

Over a month ago, Jen was sweet enough to send me some of her felted wool scraps. I wanted to make some cute little flowers with them, but didn't really know how to get started - so Jen again saved the day by pointing me towards this tutorial. I LOVE making these things! They are really quick and easy, and totally adorable - my favorite thing I've made so far. Some of the felted wool came from Jen...some from my own thrift store adventures...and some of it is plain ol' craft felt since I couldn't find all the colors I wanted. I glued a cute button in the middle of each one, attached them to alligator clips - and viola, sweet little flower hair clippies! I wanted to get a pic of all the cousins with their clips, but that didn't happen.

(if you're wondering why a hairbrush, you clearly don't have a little girl. It's a magic wand. Of course. And the headband is a crown when worn that way.)

I also made a set of wooden puzzle blocks for my youngest niece. Her parents....errr, I mean SHE! ;o) - are big Tinkerbell fans so I went with that theme. I bought four 2" wooden blocks and chose Tinkerbell pictures from a book I got at the dollar store. Each picture was trimmed into 4 2" squares and then decoupaged onto the blocks, so there are a total of 6 different "puzzles" to put together. They were so easy to make and really turned out cute! (Thanks Paula, for the idea!)

Don't miss all the crafty goodness to be found at Crafty Tuesday!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The first day of school

It wasn't her first day of school ever, but it was still pretty darn exciting.

Nadia started back to school last week, and she's loving it. It's a new school, a new teacher, new friends, a new adventure.

But old backpack and lunchbox. I asked her if she wanted new ones and she said no - the ones from last year "make her happy." Okey doke then, kiddo!

Nadia frequently requests "Mom, lets do some learning and teaching now," so the idea of going to school has really had her excited. I'm glad for a geeky child. :o)

I asked her on the drive to school, "are you only excited, or a little bit nervous too?" She grinned, "all the way only excited!" Thankfully, she came home from the first day equally excited.

One day of school down, and I'm already impressed with the school. My usually verbose child wasn't all that talkative - almost every question I asked was met with "I don't know" (sounds like a teenager already, she's precocious!) - but a few more details have leaked out over the past week. Her teachers (a mother-daughter teaching team, how cool is that?!) seem great, and she came home with a numbers worksheet and two pieces of artwork more impressive than the coloring sheets she did at preschool last year. I'm so glad she was able to get into this preschool in the middle of the school year - of all the ones I checked out in the area this one was my top choice for gut feeling/schedule/tuition rates. I think it'll be great for her.

And the other really cool thing? Turns out her next-door buddy goes to the same school!

Here are a few first-day-of-school photos.

Nadia's own idea of a pose. She's becoming such a little ham. Good thing I like ham. :o)

Of course she had to pose with her beloved Blackie, too.

The kid couldn't stop grinning the whole ride there.

Well, she did stop grinning some - but only to make this excited, silly face.

Yup, there it is again.

Just look at my "baby," so big and confident and grown up with her school stuff...

We got there a few minutes early the first day, and we won't be doing that again! The doors open at 9:30 and not a minute before - waiting was an agony for her!

Last week and this week she's the only schoolgirl in the family. Next week I join her! Look for a post about that as soon as I get the chance to write it...which means, it could be a while. ;o)