Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Season of Gratitude :: A Short List of Thankfulness

Hey, y'all!  It is my hope and prayer that each of you are in good health and spirit.  Since it is that time of the year where we focus on the blessings whether good or bad, I thought it was only fitting to share a few things which I am grateful for today.

  • Our new town.  I grew so much in our former town, but I often felt like I was suffocating there.  I really, really missed being closer to our family even though we still aren't in the same state as our families, we are much closer which means we get to see them more often.  There are also more opportunities here which is another blessing not because we enjoy being busy, but because we learn quite a bit through experiences.
  • Our church.  I love the fact that our church is heavily involved in the community.  This was a prayer that I thought would never be answered if I were to be honest.  I appreciate the fact that our pastor stays in the Word.  He encourages and He does not mince words.  I need this because I truly desire to be a better each day I am here. 
  • 5,000.  This is the first ministry that my entire family has been able to serve together outside of our holiday serving.  The girls and I would often serve at food banks by ourselves because my husband was at work.  The 5,000 which is a ministry through our church allows us to serve every week together.  We all have grown so much.  Never would I have imagined that we would all be immersed in the homeless, low income community. The girls have grown in their ability to pray for others along with themselves.
  • My family. My husband and daughters are awesome!  I rarely brag on them because I don't want them to get big heads, LOL.  :) They truly are gifts.  They are patient, helpful, kind, hardworking, willing, and just plain wonderful.  No matter the stage of life we are in, I am grateful to be able to do life with them.
  • My extended family.  My parents and my husband's mom and siblings are pretty awesome too.  I am truly blessed to have people who believe in my adult life.  I spent my early years being so afraid and uncertain of myself.  I know a lot of that had to do with being parentless, but I am so grateful that my parents are in my life now. They support me when it comes to teaching the girls and growing my jewelry business.  I am grateful for a mother-in-love who has taken me into her family and has filled in the gap many times when I couldn't deal with my own mother.  She encourages me and cheers me on, and for this I am appreciative.
  • My friends.  I have a great bunch of friends.  I am thankful for the one who decorated and sent me boxes to gift my customers who purchase jewelry.  I am thankful for the many who listen.  I am thankful for the one who gifted us a dryer because we didn't own one.  I am thankful for the ones who attempt to understand me and my quirky ways.  I am thankful for the many who are honest with me.  I am thankful for the one who shoots me an email at just the right time.  I am thankful for the one who held me through the tears and the pain.  I couldn't imagine life without my bunch of friends.  They encourage me.  They hold me accountable.
  • My online buddies.  You all mean so much to me.  The comments.  The purchases.  The likes and follows.  None of those things go unnoticed by me.  I have found new people to pray for through this blog and social media.  I have found friends who I can ask questions when I doubt.  I have been encouraged by those who have yet to meet me.  I have found hope through the writing of others who have experienced similar things. 
  • My Creator.  All of the things I listed above I know for certain I wouldn't have if I didn't have Father who loves and cherishes me.  He knows me.  He loves.  He disciplines me.  He stops me.  He pushes me.  He longs for me as I long for HIM.  I will probably never be able to fully articulate all the things He has done for me and through me, but I know that it was all Him. 
 As the year winds down, I hope my list will continue to grow because this truly is a short list.
What are you grateful for?

Be blessed,
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©2009- 2015 A Little This... A Little That. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Out & About:: Made South Market

The girls and I enjoyed a different type of field trip last week.  We had the opportunity to visit the Made South Holiday Market thanks to Vanessa at Daily Delivered and Made South for the free tickets.

Made South provides a venue for southern artists.  We met artists from Tennessee, Florida, and South Carolina.  The event happens several times each year at The Factory in Franklin, TN.

The girls and I have been to several craft and art events over the past few years due to my business, but I  didn't know what to expect upon entering this premier event.  It truly is a classy artisan event.  It is not your average craft fair.  The majority of the creative entrepreneurs at the Made South Holiday Market showcased unique wares.

We had the opportunity to taste Duck Fat Caramels from Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co..  They were delicious.  Creamy and not sticky, just the way caramel should be.  They were other artists who used the kitchen to share their creativity such as Baked in Nashville and The Charmingest Little Dog Bakery & Market.  The girls purchased their first Macarons from Baked in Nashville, and we picked up some treats for our fur family member from The Charmingest Little Dog Bakery.


The thing I appreciated most about this market was the variety of creators. Each specialty had several artists who fit the category, but none of their work resembled one another.  As a creator, I appreciate that I was able to check out other jewelry artists without feeling the need to compare because the work is so different. We also support other jewelry designer.  Our oldest can't make it through a market without searching for a new set of earrings.  Luckily,  Dear Mushka had a pair just for her. She found a lovely set of anchor earrings which she has worn several times already.  The jewelry from Dear Mushka also reflects faith.  Each piece purchased includes a scripture card.  Burgwin Studios used nature in her jewelry pieces.  She uses the shedded antlers of deer to create one of a kind wearable art.

The Swurfer was a hit. Too bad we are apartment living. The youngest was excited that she could stand and swing without being told to sit. 
Outside of food and jewelry, we met artists who weave, sew, draw and create pretty cool outdoor gear (check out The Swurfer).  'Lina Bean is where our youngest made her purchase.  It was perfect because on our way to Franklin she mentioned that she would have liked to have some crayons to color in the pictures she was drawing.  'Lina Bean offers a variety of sewn products, but the Crayon Roll was the highlight for my girl.  R. Riveter has an awesome background story.  They create handbags using military relics. The materials are upcycled and sewn together by military spouses.  This unique opportunity provides the spouses with employment no matter where they are in the country or world.  Black Sheep Goods was all about the weaving.  One thing we really loved at this booth was the weaving loom.  It was actually placed on the birthday wish list.  Valentina Designs shared her creativity through pen.  All of her artwork is inspiring.  One of the pieces I loved the most was her "Comb Your Hair" print.  Hey, I am guilty of not doing this.  I am looking forward to her new coloring book which will have many of her encouraging sayings within it.  Although we are passed the baby stage in our lives, I can't help but to share Atkinson Drive Organics.  They had the most adorable custom blankets,  hats, and clothing  for newborns and babies.  The cotton was so soft.

With over 70 artisans, I can go on and on about the beauty and creativity, but I have to stop somewhere.  To learn more about the Made South Market visit them online and check out their feeds on Instagram and Twitter.

 Disclosure:  I received two free adult tickets to attend Made South. In exchange for the tickets, I wrote about my experience at the event.  I did not receive any compensation from Made South or the artists whom I have mentioned.  All items purchased were purchased with money from our income. All opinions are my own. 
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 ©2009- 2015 A Little This... A Little That. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Gift of Being Available

There was a time when I was closed off from others.  I hid my feelings.  I denied my feelings. I moved in the shadows.  This was a safe approach for me.  No one could hurt me if I kept everyone at arm's length.  Well, as we all know what you feel your heart and mind with is who you become even if it's not your full intention.

The Shift

There wasn't an instant moment when I just became open to everyone, but instead it has been a process.  This blog has been a huge help in guiding me to be my authentic self.  Here I have been able to share in ways that I didn't feel free to do in my every day. Becoming a mother to my two beautiful daughters has also helped me grow a great deal.  I knew that I didn't want for them to fear being who they were created to be for the sake of others' comfort.

 On Being Available

There's beauty in opening yourself up to others.  There's healing in it.  There's hope in it.

I think about all of the people who I have met over the years, and I know for certain many of the relationships I have wouldn't came into fruition if I hadn't allowed myself to open to the opportunities.  Since I have accepted myself for who I am,  I now find it difficult to foster relationships with those who desire to stay surface.  It's hard because I know how suffocating it can be.  It's hard because when we share our stories, the good and the bad, it gives us power.  It frees us from shame.

The Gift

More than anything, I can take from being open is that the Father can use me more.  He uses all parts of me the broken pieces especially.  Instead of shame, it because a help for someone who is struggling with something I once struggled with in the past.  Instead of competitiveness, there's connection because we share similar goals or desires so now we can pull each other along.  Truly, iron sharpens iron.

Not only does He use me more, but I see Him more in others when I allow them into my life even if it is only for a ten minute conversation.  As said before becoming available didn't happen overnight, but this year alone a door has open for several relationships that I needed.  In the brokenness of my family,  He has redeemed quite a few pieces for us to move forward and build stronger bonds based on truth versus fear or hurt.

More than anything now I view transparency as a gift versus something to run away from even though there are times that it can be uncomfortable. 

This is one of my favorite songs.  It reminds me to open my heart to the Spirit so that He can use me.  I hope you all like it just as much as I do

What do you think about being available to others?  Is it hard for you to be transparent?

Be Blessed!
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©2009- 2015 A Little This... A Little That. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Studying the Word with GrapeVine Studies

The review for GrapeVine Studies came available at just the right moment for my family and me.  This year there has been a strong pull towards reading more of the Old Testament and seeking out the Father more.  We took this opportunity to begin our studies with Old Testament 1: Level 2 Creation to Jacob  for our 8 year old daughter and  Old Testament 1: Level 3 Creation to Jacob  for our 10 year daughter.

About Old Testament 1: Creation to Jacob:

The curriculum is an overview of the Old Testament from the beginning to the time of Jacob.  There are 12 lessons which can be scheduled in a way that fits an individual family's needs.  We received the curriculum as a PDF which I downloaded and printed.  The teacher and student e-books are separate purchases, and they both are needed to complete the study.

If you have never heard of GrapeVine Studies before, then I should tell you this isn't a read passage of scripture and answer questions about that Scripture type of study.  The method used by GrapeVine Studies requires the learner to draw (stick- figuring) the key point in a particular passage to help solidify the Scripture into the mind.  There are discussion questions and memory verses, but the majority of the program is drawing. 

GrapeVine Studies in our Learning Environment:

Each study begins with a timeline that is drawn out by the learner.  As we progressed through the study, we had a better understanding of the initial timeline that was drawn on Day 1.  Before I go any further, I must tell you that you will need materials to be successful with using this program such as a Bible dictionary, a Bible, dry erase board, various colors of dry erase markers, if you use the PDF format you will need folders or a binder to store the e-books, and colored pencils.

We worked on one to two lessons each week over three days per week.  We didn't do this study every day because we are also part of other bible studies and to be honest I didn't want it to be over so quickly since there are only twelve lessons.  Each lesson includes a timeline review page, memory verses, two student pages for stick figuring, and a lesson review.  We completed the timeline review and one student page on one day, the other student page and lesson review during our next sitting, and the student review page along with the information card on the third day.  This set up works well for us.  It's just the right amount for each sitting.

As I stated above, we used two levels.  I didn't recognize a difference between levels two and three therefore it was easy to mesh the two levels together to complete.  The teacher's guides for those particular levels are separate, but I did have access to both guides.  I started off by using both guides, but when I went to print I only printed out the level 3 guide.  Using this one guide for both girls worked fine for us.

How did we like GrapeVine Studies Creation to Jacob?

Each of us have immensely enjoyed this Bible study.  It is engaging and it really does make an impact.  Although the girls knew the basic story of Adam and Eve by working through this particular study, they have gained more knowledge. When we drew out The Provision from Genesis 3:20-24, my youngest and I agreed that there was a deeper feeling of what those Scriptures meant.  We both felt a tad bit sad.  She said she didn't realize all that happened during that time and she likes GrapeVine Studies because she is learning more about the God's Word.  

The drawing is also so a big hit.  You can never use colored pencils too much.  Both girls enjoy the drawing aspect of this program.

Overall, we like this curriculum and will continue using it.

Grapevine Studies Review
Crew Disclaimer

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©2009- 2015 A Little This... A Little That. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.

What to Keep & What to Let Go: Home School Edition

Our oldest daughter is now 10 so over the years we have created many projects, completed many workbooks, and written on many sheets of paper. Did I mention that we also have an 8 year old who has also contributed to the projects, work books and paper?

At the beginning of our learning together journey, I knew that I would not be able to keep everything that was created by them nor would I be able to store every single Light Unit that they would complete in the years to come.  I made a choice early on to figure out the things we would keep and those we would let go. 

Here are few things that make the keep pile:

  • Math and Language Arts for the current school year.  I keep these books until the next year of lessons begin.  As the year progresses, I slowly recycle them. The primary reason we hold on to these is for the girls to be able to use them as a resource during the current year.  There are moments when they forget that they can actually do a method so having previous completed work helps to remind them of their skills and also serve as a refresher. Since we use Christian Light, each year has ten workbooks.  I do not keep all ten of them, but the girls do have at least one workbook from each year they have completed. 
  • Art work is definitely a keeper.  The only artists' work hanging on our walls are our daughters.  It's amazing to see the way their creativity has changed over the years.  I love looking back at their work. 
  • Lapbooks and Notebooking activities are collectibles here.  Lapbooking and notebooking takes so much work that I couldn't bring myself to discarding these things.  I realized things that were similar to scrapbooking were always going to be kept because in this area the girls are like me.  They enjoy looking back at their former work to reminisce.
  • Journals stay.  The girls started journaling at around 3 years old.  We have kept all of their journals since then. Granted some of it is just scribbles, but it is so adorable.  I can't help but to smile when I think about their beginning writing activities.
  • Things that they just want to hold on to for the sake of it.  They each have an envelope and file folder for items that they just want to keep. 
A few of the girls pieces along with a picture from Hobby Lobby.

How do we store our keepsakes?

I have a not so big storage bin. We have used the same bin from the beginning and I am coming to the realization that I might just have to upgrade it.  The reason I chose a bin that wasn't very large was to keep us from keeping too much stuff.  The art work is not stored in this bin instead the art that is not hanging is kept in a reusable bag.  Most of the art work that is kept is not the random doodlings of the girls, but work that they put a little bit of time into creating. 

What about the other stuff we do through out the year?

Since random papers and worksheets can create clutter, there is a limit to the number of worksheets and such that are copied.  If it is something that must be copied, then there is exception made, but copies for the sake of busy work rarely happens around here.  Additional math work is usually done online or in a notebook.  The girls are okay with me discarding their notebooks that are used for only computations when they become full and they are in need of a new one. 

Science and history are kept in a binder which is added to year after year.  Since this binder is being used consistently, the work within it remains as a resource. They also have a binder for all things involving faith.  They keep prayers and Scriptures in this binder.  The things which are stored in a binder continues to grow with them over the years therefore there isn't a need to discard anything.

Do you keep everything from every year?  What is your storage method?  Please share in the comments! :)

Be blessed!
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©2009- 2015 A Little This... A Little That. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.