Makes Me Think

One of my favorite friends from high school/college posted a link on Facebook tonight. In the infinite midst of oversaturated self-absorbed status updates, I'm not sure what made me click on this. I'm usually a scan and scram Facebook friend stalker, but something about this intrigued me. The link carried me over to a blog article titled, "101 Short Stories That Will Leave You Smiling, Crying and Thinking".

At first, the idea of reading 101 short stories seemed way too daunting a task for a worn-out, burned-out mom of 2 year old twin boys just trying to kill time and zone out before my husband turns off the lights and crawls into bed with me. I told myself that I would only read the first 10, but after reading a few short sentences, I just couldn't stop! By story 4, I had the full-on ugly cry and a confused husband walking in and wondering what just happened to his wife!

Makes Me Think is the originator of this awesome article. As stated on the MMT About page, sometimes the most random everyday encounters force us to stop and rethink the truths and perceptions we have ingrained in our minds. These encounters are educationally priceless. They spawn moments of deep thought and self-reflection that challenge the status quo and help us evolve as sensible individuals. Every day, users share their thought-provoking life stories and vote on stories that other users have shared. Some are happy, some are sad, and others twist your emotions, pulling them in several directions at once.

Here are my ten favorite stories that definitely "Made Me Think" (MMT). Please click on any of the links to read the entire article and share your favorite or one of your own stories that you'd like to add!

Today, after I watched my dog get run over by a car, I sat on the side of the road holding him and crying.  And just before he died, he licked the tears off my face.  MMT

Today, I was working in a coffee shop when 2 gay men walked in holding hands.  As you might expect, heads started turning.  Then a young girl at the table next to me asked her mom why 2 men were holding hands.  Her mom replied, “Because they love each other.”  MMT

Today, my richest friend growing up filed for bankruptcy and one of my poorest friends growing up purchased his second vacation home.  MMT

Today, I was all dressed up and waiting on my blind date to arrive.  He never showed up.  It made me feel ugly.  I thought he may have seen me from a distance and bailed.  Then as I left the restaurant alone, I heard a little girl ask her mom if I was a princess.  It made me smile and it MMT.'

Today in downtown San Diego, I watched a blue collar Mexican man get harassed for being Mexican.  It was a blatant act of discrimination.  And the man actually began crying.  As he left the office building, he took off his jacket. His t-shirt underneath read, “I love the USA!”  MMT

Today, I kissed my dad on the forehead as he passed away in a small hospital bed.  About 5 seconds after he passed, I realized it was the first time I had given him a kiss since I was a little boy.  MMT

Today, I interviewed a woman who is terminally ill.  “So,” I tried to delicately ask, “What is it like to wake up every morning and know that you are dying?”  “Well,” she responded, “What is it like to wake up every morning and pretend that you are not?”  MMT

Today, when I told my 8 year old son that all of our dreams are within reach as long as we follow our heart and take action, he asked me if it was always my dream to be a waitress.  MMT

Today, I asked my mentor – a very successful business man in his 70’s – what his top 3 tips are for success.  He smiled and said, “Read something no one else is reading, think something no one else is thinking, and do something no one else is doing.”  MMT

Today, I asked my 6 year old son what he wants to be when he grows up.  He said, “Mommy, all I want to be is happy.”  MMT


Dark Clouds

When I was a little girl, my dad and I joined a wonderful organization called "Indian Princesses". It was a group similar to Girl Scouts (sans the cookie sales, uniforms, badges, and award ceremonies). Actually, it wasn't at all like Girl Scouts, BUT we did go on father/daughter camping trips at least once a month! I have wonderful memories of horseback riding, hiking, swimming in the lake, building forts, and telling ghost stories while we roasted marshmallows by the fire.

One of my favorite and most vivid memories is of the first trip we took together when I was asked to choose my Indian Princess name. At the time, Disney's "Peter Pan" was a big hit so there were about 5 "Tiger Lily"s in each tribe. Other girls chose names like "Sunshine Bear" or "Pocahontas". I was about 4 years old at the time and needed a little guidance, so my dad told me to name myself after the most beautiful thing found in nature. As I looked around, my eyes were drawn upwards to heaven where rain clouds started to fill the purple sky, each magnificently highlighted by a silver lining. And I knew then that I had seen one of God's most beautiful creations, and subsequently named myself "Dark Cloud".

Tonight, as I sit nestled in my quilt, staring out the window at a sky lit with life of lightening, I am so grateful for God's blessing of rain in this humbling drought! And again, I am amazed at the beauty of a dark cloud!

1. Erin Spencer | 2. Spiro Creations | 3. Kosmika | 4. Letterpress | 5. Pop Heart Press 
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A State Fair Birthday Party and A Fabulous Friday Freebie!

Happy Friday everyone! Wow! You have no idea how happy I am that it's Finally Friday! Here's what's playing in my head right now!

LOVE that song! I have been as sick as a dog for a week straight with a stomach bug and am finally starting to feel like myself again! Just in time too, because the boys will be turning TWO next Saturday and I am way behind on planning their party! I'm super disappointed because last year I went ALL out! I made their invitations, birthday banner, cupcake toppers, birthday hats, sewed a tablecloth and baked and decorated their cakes and cupcakes. Here are some pics from their first birthday party. It was a county fair theme at our church's annual family fair!

This year, I just haven't been able to get out of bed, so (I can't believe I'm about to admit this) I actually sent out store bought invitations! Ooh! That hurt! The boys' invitations were so cute last year! I was half tempted to just reuse them with new wording! But what's done is done. (*Hanging my head in shame!)

Here is a pic of their invitation from last year, front and back.
So, for today's Fabulous Friday Freebie, I have decided to do something extra fabulous! If you love this invitation as much as I do, click on the link at the very bottom to download your FREE blank invitation, ready for you to place and type in your personal party information. It will look like this:

But for my very favorite fabulous readers/party planners (that's you!), I am offering something extra special! If you're not quite savvy on how to type in your party info on the blank invitation, send me your party details (name, date, place, how old, rsvp data, etc.) to my email, popheartpress@yahoo.com, and I will design and email a pdf version of your invite for FREE! You can get it printed at your local printshop, or just let me know if you need help with that too, and I'll set up a custom listing for you in the shop for printing costs! Enjoy you guys! And wish me luck on planning the final details of their second birthday party! They grow up so fast!


FINALLY! A Fabulous Friday Freebie!

Whew! This week has been crazy! In an attempt to get more done around the house, work from the printshop a little more consistently, and try to catch some free-time and a breather for myself every now and then, I signed the boys up for 2 different mothers-day-out programs! I thought this would be awesome! Mondays and Wednesdays at a neighboring church and Tuesdays and Thursdays at our home church. Wowza! What was I thinking?! Two different programs means two different sets of school supplies, two different schedules, two different sets of friends/potential birthday party invitees, and TOO much for mama to remember! I know it's only a matter of time before I forget where I dropped them off and show up to the wrong church to pick them up!

But on the bright side, I did find a little me time to do one of my favorite things this week, bloghopping! In my aimless wander I came across an awesome site called, "Homemade By Jill". Written by a mommy, crafter and sewer, this blog is jam-packed with amazing tutorials and printables, one of which was too good not to share! So for today's Fabulous Friday Freebie, hop on over to Jill's blog for these supercute alphabet flash cards, perfect for nursery decorations and as a playtime teaching tool! Enjoy and have a fantastic weekend everyone!


Raise A Child That Loves To Read!

I just recently became new friends with Dan Gilbert, an advocate for balanced learning and communications coordinator for Primrose Schools. I absolutely love his insightful tips, tricks and tools for teaching children in and out of the home and classroom! So when he offered to guest post today, I jumped at the chance! I hope you enjoy his article and please check out more about balanced learning at www.primroseschools.com!

Raise a Child That Loves to Read
by Dan Gilbert

Parents often wonder when they should begin reading to their children. No longer is reading associated with school-aged children, but children of all ages. Research shows that introducing books at an early age is one of the fundamental building blocks to a child’s literacy and success in school. In fact, the more books your little one has in her bookcase, the better for his or her academic future. It’s never too early to start reading to your child, even if he or she is still in the womb. Being read to allow a young child to hear the basic sounds of the English language and begin making these connections early on.

If you want to raise an active reader, the process must start at home. Robert Needlman, M.D., author of 
Dr. Spock’s Baby Basics and member of the Education Advisory Board for Primrose Schools; the Leader in Education Child Care, suggests that one of the most important things about nurturing a reader is to read with a child from a very early age.  You can start reading to your child at any age, although you will notice your infant taking more of an interest around six months. Start by introducing basic picture books to your child and point to different objects. You don’t have to read what the books say; instead, make the story interesting by personalizing it with your child’s name or other significant people in her life.

Most importantly, don’t think that there is a special set of rules you have to follow. The goal is to sit down and create a bonding experience with your child that is enjoyable for the two of you. You may want to pick the same time each day, just be sure that the story time is relaxing and not rushed through. This will show your child that reading is something to be enjoyed.

Choosing the right books is also important, so look for titles that are interesting and age-appropriate for your child. Generally speaking, the best books will have bright illustrations and simple language. It’s usually these basic books that are the favorites of young children. It’s also a good idea to choose books that you’ll enjoy as well. Kids love repetition, and this is how they learn to speak themselves, so you can expect to read the story multiple times. The more the story comes to life for you, the more animated and fun you can make it. Of course, the curiosity your child will exhibit will be enough to make you fall in love with reading all over again.

Try these simple tips that will help you create a rewarding, nurturing environment for your budding reader.

- Surround your child with a wide range of books. Keep several books in the bedroom and playroom so your child has access. Also encourage different types of books such as those on colors, letters, the weather or sharing.

- Read with your child from the time her or she an infant. Let them touch the pictures, repeat sounds and participate in the story.

- Place books in areas where your child may be waiting such as in the car or at the kitchen table.

- Connect with your child’s teacher by asking for a list of books the students are reading, or ones that relate to what the children are learning about. This is a wonderful opportunity to read with your child at night, while reflecting on the day’s experiences.

- You may notice older children wanting to read aloud and re-telling the story in their own words. This is a milestone in literacy development and shows that the child is making the right connections. Instead of being the reader, listen to your child and show the same interest that he or she’s given you in the past years. 

It's no surprise that infants have a natural curiosity for language development. Foster this interest by singing, talking and reading with your child today.


A Whirlwind Week!

Wow! The past two weeks have been a complete whirlwind! My head has finally stopped spinning and I can finally share my excitement! It all began at the end of August. Kit, the boys and I headed to Vegas for one final summer vacation to visit the in-laws! We had a fabulous time and I actually ended up winning a poker tournament on the last day of our stay! Woo hoo! Which is fantastic because, up until that point, not only had I lost all of my gambling money, but had begun begging for and subsequently losing money borrowed from my husband and dad! So I ended up winning just enough to pay back my debts and break even, which, in my book, is leaving a BIG winner! Here's a cute video we took in the backyard of Nana's House!

As soon as we returned, I was featured on a site called, "Heartsy" - a website similar to Groupon which offers amazing discounts and deals on handmade items from sellers on Etsy and Artfire. My deal ran from August 28-31 and offered $30 store credit for only $15! And $40 for VIP members! Needless to say, the deal was too good to be true, too good to pass up, and left me WAY too busy and exhausted to blog! I posted a link to the sale via my facebook fan page, so hopefully you all received the heads up! But if you haven't signed up yet, please become a Facebook fan today so you'll receive news about our next giveaway/sale/contest!

Orders are still trickling in, but I've finally completed and shipped out everything that was ordered this week! Whew! Now it's the holiday weekend, and though I desperately need rest, I have one more HUGE adventure awaiting me Tuesday! I have been so excited, nervous, anxious, thrilled, etc. about this announcement! There have been times that I thought I might burst if I don't share it with you! But now I finally can! Drumroll please....

My art will be framed, featured and up for sale in a new furniture boutique opening on Tuesday, September 6! Ahh! There just aren't enough words to express how elated I am! Not only have I found my passion and purpose, a way to work from home and still spend quality learning and loving time with Jack and Logan, and share my love of teaching and interior design with friends, family and fans in a creative, expressive way, I finally found peace in knowing who I am and how to best share my talents and ideas!

Please go check out the store when it opens Tuesday! It is called "ReFind Furnishings" and is located at 3211 W. Wadley, Ste. 16B here in Midland, Texas, right behind Murray's Deli, next door to JoAnn's Fine Gifts. Doors will open at 10 am. If you're anything like me, and absolutely love shopping for quality, beautiful furniture, art and accessories at an affordable price to dress your house, I just know you are going to love it! To find out more, check them out on their Facebook page and become a fan!