Friday, February 13, 2009

Play Time Comfort

Play time is very important, and as we grow older, it becomes even more important and precious. We plan to play; it has to be scheduled in between work, the laundry, cleaning the house, and buying the groceries. And every now and then, even those times that seem like play, come out of some kind of responsibility. But play is play, and it should be enjoyed no matter the circumstances.

One of those responsibilities where I get to play while on duty is helping out with crafts at the Teen Center at our church. Once or twice a month, a couple of us crafty-type people think up something for the kids to do. Making cards, decoupaging clay pots with pictures from magazines, decorating cookies, painting picture frames, we’re always trying to come up with an easy but not too “childish” project for these teens. It’s a bit of a struggle for me because I make everything a struggle for myself. I can’t just relax and enjoy doing some crafts, I have to worry about if it’s too difficult or if it’s too easy or if the kids will like it. But come to find out, these kids love to do any kind of craft. I could have them trace their hands and make a turkey out of it and they would enjoy it.

I tend to tell people that I’m only crafty if I have directions on how to do it in front of me. I said that to the Teen Center director, but she’s so desperate for volunteers that she didn’t listen and just sent me emails saying when she had scheduled craft day. Luckily, there’s another lady who helps out, but she, too, describes herself as direction-driven. But for women who say they aren’t really crafty, we sure come up with some good stuff. So, this little responsibility has been very good for me in an unexpected way—it’s let me embrace my crafty self.

So, it’s play time! We’ve decided to let the kids make scarves out of fleece and embellish them to their hearts’ content. Fleece is the perfect material for this because you don’t need to hem it, just cut and go. Even the fringe is easy. This serves double duty, by the way: they get to do a craft and they get something they to keep them warm this winter. I decided that part of my stress comes from not being prepared. I have ideas and pictures in my head of what they could do, but I never actually play around with it and come up with a sample for them. I haven’t worked with fleece, so I decided I should try it out before I let the kids loose on it.

I gave myself permission to play first and work out what I wanted. I even sketched out what I was thinking first. Then I tried out different supplies and different techniques. I wanted to show them how they could appliqué a shape on with an easy buttonhole or blanket stitch, in addition to just gluing stuff on or painting on it. I had a great time, just look:

Trying out different things on a scrap piece.

I ended up doing hearts instead of flowers.

Close up of the hearts

I’ve realized that there needs to be some time between idea and finished project for some experimentation and play. I always tried to skip that middle part and would end up frustrated that I wasn’t getting what I wanted immediately. I just needed more play time!

And to brighten your day (and mine), a few pictures of Cosette

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Needing Good Thoughts

We need your prayers and good thoughts for our friend Steve who is in the hospital. He's very sick, and it doesn't look good.

Steve is Al's motorcycle riding buddy. Despite his illness, he would meet Al and they'd ride all over this side of Nebraska and Iowa. Several times they would stop by our house and we'd spend hours sitting around the kitchen table talking and laughing. He shared Al's love of motorcycles and my love of cooking, dogs, and having a creative outlet. He also had a sympathetic understanding of dealing with a chronic disease, and we bonded over tests, medications, and the frustration/necessity of taking things one day at a time.

We knew he was pretty sick, but his strength and attitude made it easy for us not to think about it. But he called tonight, wanting to let us know what was going on and to tell Al that even if they get tests back and can do something, his riding days are over.

So, please keep good thoughts for Steve and we'll do the same.

Thank you.