paper house craft

At my work I am in charge of planning activities for the after school Kindergarten-6th grade kids we have at the daycare.  This means drawing, coloring, playing games, having movie time, putting together crafts, and whatever else you can think of to keep a group of energetic kids busy and happy until their parents come pick them up.  Sometimes I feel like I can't come up with anything new or interesting for them to do.  Other times I stumble across a neat idea on Pinterest and think to myself, "Duh, this is so simple but yet different enough from what we've been doing lately!  Why didn't I think of this?!"

On the days when the kids are dismissed early it's helpful to have an extra activity or two planned to keep them occupied.  We're finally far enough along in the school year and have had enough of those super early dismissals (12:30!) for me to know how best to keep the kids occupied.  One of our recent 12:30 dismissal day schedules went like this:

Played outside for about an hour.
Moved to the gym and got out the hula hoops and some basketballs.  Some of the girls helped me put together a huge paper chain (made out of fall colors) to hang up downstairs.  We had made paper chains the previous day for the kids to take home and there were enough leftover strips to make another for decoration at the school.
Snack time!
Finished the last twenty or so minutes of the movie we had been watching that week (Mulan).
Went out on the playground again (but not for as long as earlier because it was cooler).
Then we came inside to make cute little paper houses (more on that shortly) followed by watching a bit of Spy Kids while a few of the kids helped me make a "Happy Thanksgiving" sign to go along with our massive paper chain.

On normal dismissal days the kids get to the daycare at 3:30, so adjusting the schedule for their early arrival takes some finagling.  The kids get thrown off by the change of schedule too, so it just takes a bit of patience and flexibility from everyone to help things run smoothly.

Now on to these cute little paper houses.  (The smaller one is white because I didn't have time to color it.)

I like doing folded paper crafts with the kids because they're usually simple enough to be done without much help but it's still more involved than coloring or drawing, so it holds attention better.  I think the kids like them because something is created right before their own eyes and it's something they made on their own.

These little paper houses were discovered at Design Mom.  There are two templates: A School House and a Little House.  According to the instructions they're supposed to be little gift boxes, but I had the kids fold over the two tabs on the top and tape the top shut so the roof was closed.  One of the girls told me though that she's going to cut open the door so she could put her Polly Pockets in there.  :)  It was mostly the Kindergarten and 1st grade kids who needed help cutting out and folding up their houses.  On the super early dismissal days we have less kids than we usually do which made handling this project pretty easy.  There's no way I would attempt this craft if we had over thirty after school kids.

That's part of the challenge with finding things for the kids to do.  We typically have more than thirty kids in the Kindergarten-6th grade group so coming up with an activity to keep them busy without driving me insane can be difficult.  This challenge pushes me to get creative and sometimes change plans last minute to accommodate a changing schedule or the needs of the kids.  I really enjoy my job and and doing activities with the kids.  It's fun.  :)


face wash

Here's something I haven't written about before: skin care.

Over the years I have tried many, many different kinds of face wash.  Nothing seemed to work.  My face would either turn oily and break out even more or get so dried out it felt like sandpaper.  At one point I used a face wash that would bleach whatever towel I used afterwards to dry off my face... if your face wash can bleach a towel, what do you think it's doing to your skin?

And then, not long ago, I magically came across a gentle, organic cleanser pinned by a curly hairstylist in St. Louis.

Gentle Nourishing Organic Cleanser

This is the BEST face wash I have ever used.  No joke.  It gently cleanses my skin without drying it out.  I don't break out anymore.  My skin is soft, smooth, and I don't feel like I have to cover it up with makeup to make it look nice.  The cleanser has a nice apple smell to it... until you wash it off, then it gets a little funny.  After I wash my face, my fiance affectionately calls me "stinky face".  :)



Hello, world!

It's been quite a while since I've written on my blog.  I've been rather busy.  Busy doing what, you ask?  Oh, just spending time with the most wonderful man in the world.  :)

We met online early this year.  I had been registered on the website for less than a week when he contacted me for the first time while I was at an OAFC weekend.  We sent novels of e-mails back and forth before meeting a month later.  As they say, the rest is history.  There have been many, many trips to visit each other on the weekends, and during one such trip about a month ago, he asked me to marry him.  I said "yes".  :)

We are so thankful to have each other, to get to be together, and we are excitedly looking forward to starting our life together.  I honestly cannot think of anyone else I would rather spend the rest of my life with.  :)

So that's what I've been busy with.  I think it's a pretty good reason for not writing on here since February.  :)  I am planning on writing here more regularly though.  I'm sure there will be posts about wedding planning, crocheting, food, maybe poetry (I haven't written any in quite a while), and more gushing about my fantastic husband-to-be.  :)

Until next time,

Laura :)


writing stories

(Written a few weeks ago as I struggled to fall asleep.)

Those nights you can't sleep.
Those nights you can't sleep because your brain won't shut up.
Those nights you can't sleep because your brain insists on creating imaginary unrealistic conversations with people in your life.  Conversations they would never be part of and things they would never say.
Those nights you can't sleep because for some reason you're afraid to fall asleep.  And it probably has something to do with watching too many crime t.v. shows before going to bed.
Sometimes I think I should write books about everything that goes on in my brain.  Then maybe these dreams, these theoretical scenarios might actually be useful instead of only functioning as a way to deprive me of sleep.
This blog kind of is a book though, isn't it?  One big, long book that never reaches an ending.  A book that jumps from chapter to chapter, never sticking with one story line long enough to make sense of it.  The pages are out of order and the characters don't even have names, not that they say much anyways.  It's more like their consciousness is spilled onto the pages, like I'm reading their minds.  But of course, if these characters are in my head then it makes perfect sense that I can read their thoughts.  Silly characters thought they could hide from me.
I could write some fantastic stories.  People might start to question my sanity if I started pouring everything in my brain onto pages for the entire world to see, but they would be some awesome stories.  Not that I can tell right now how they would end or how the plots would even begin.  But writers don't always know how their stories will end when they begin them, do they?
My stories will have to wait though.  Right now I don't need to write.  Right now I need to sleep.
And hopefully my dreams will get the hint and shut up too.

(You should have heard the argument I had with myself at 2:30 in the morning one time about whether or not it was a good idea to make muffins at that exact moment.  I can argue both the logical and the impulsive sides very well.)


a weekend escape

You know what?  I almost didn't go to OAFC this past weekend.  A couple of weeks ago, when the deadline to RSVP was just a few days away, I was still pondering whether or not to attend.  I love going to OAFC, don't get me wrong, but it exhausts me so much.  Being an introvert means I get my energy from being alone and at OAFC you're pretty much never alone, not even at your host home because more often than not you're sharing a bed or at least a room with a fellow OAFCer.
A friend of mine talked me into going to the weekend.  She assured me it would be great to see everyone and said she wished she herself could go but it was too far of a drive.  I listened to her and told the group leader I would be coming.  A couple days before the weekend I got that hesitant feeling again but pushed it aside.
Yesterday as I was driving home from the event I thought to myself, "I'm so glad I decided to go to OAFC this weekend."  It was a wonderful escape to a weekend full of encouragement.
OAFC has always felt like an escape to me.  When life is overwhelming, frustrating, and stressful, I can go to OAFC and spend time focusing on other things.  I get to enjoy Bible study with fellow Lutheran Christians.  We sing, joke around, and laugh.  We work together to spread God's Word and in the process our own faith is strengthened.  We get to see old friends, make new friends, and form real, lasting relationships with each other.
Going to OAFC this past weekend was just what I needed.  Yes, I was physically exhausted by the end of it all, but I was also refreshed spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.


for all the lonely hearts

Oh yes.  I'm going to get all mushy, sappy, and sentimental while I eat the chocolate my parents gave me for Valentine's Day.  (Chocolate that was a lot harder to open than it should have been.  Why the heck do they glue those things shut?)
Every year I say I don't care about this holiday.  I take the logical route and say, "Why should you designate just one day to do special things for your beloved?  What's stopping you from doing those things any other day of the year?"  Plus it's so commercialized.  So much money is spent in the name of love or whatever other reasons motivate people buy that stuff.
Every year I say I don't care.  And it's true.  I don't care.  Until right about now.  Until nearly 9:00pm when I'm tired and eating chocolate after a day of having Valentiney things shoved in my face.
Yes, I'm young and single.  Sure, I'm content with this stage of my life.  But it's also true I wouldn't mind being in a relationship.  And it's this quiet desire that is brought to the surface by this lovey-dovey holiday.
Someday I would like to be with someone.  Someday I would like to be married.  Someday I would like to have a family.  And I know when that someday is.  That someday is the day God has it in His mind for it to happen.

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

So don't despair, lonely hearts.  Your family and friends love you.  I don't know what I would do without my closest family and friends.  They have been with me through so much.
Most importantly, God loves you too, lonely hearts.  Not only have my family and friends been with me through difficult times.  God has been with me too.  And I know He has great things in store for me.  I just need to work on my patience and let Him do His thing.


oh, ok

Sometimes it's hard for me to have conversations with the people I live around.  Everyone in these small towns put so much stock into who you're related to and what high school you attended.  Someone like myself who was transplanted from Texas eight years ago doesn't possess the background or connections everyone is interested in.
Conversations usually go something like this:
"Where are you from?"
"I live in *insert name of tiny town with a population of 400 people*."
(Please note, I do not say I am from that town but just that I live there.  I don't claim it as home.)
"Where did you go to school?"
"I was homeschooled."
And that's usually where the conversation ends.  They respond with an, "Oh, ok" or maybe some sort of halfway interested attempt at asking about my homeschooling before leaving to do something or talk to someone else.  Sometimes they'll go on to ask about what I studied in college or what I do for work, but usually I can tell they've already lost interest after the first two questions.
(I know I've written about this before.  It's something I just can't seem to figure out.)
In these small towns everyone and their cousins have been going to the same church and living in the same town for the past five (or more) generations.  When they say, "I'm not from around here" they usually mean they're from a different little town ten minutes away.  Now, I'm not saying this is a bad way to live.  I just struggle with finding a way to fit in and feel accepted.  Eight years later and I'm still struggling.
(I'm not a particularly outgoing person.  I'm more likely to stand back and observe a conversation than jump into the middle of one.  This probably doesn't help with the "making friends" thing.)
I didn't grow up around families living in close proximity to each other.  Cousins didn't really go to school together.  Sure, my friends had relatives, but they weren't close by like they are around here.  Pretty much either everyone was from somewhere else or their family wasn't nearby.  I guess in a way we were all like transplants.
Going from a homeschooled social life of transplants to feeling like an outsider in the midst of family dynasties... It hasn't been easy.  I thought navigating these social circles would become easier as I got older and further away from my high school and college years.  So far that hasn't happened.