Friday, September 4, 2015

Cartoony Stuff

Not too long ago someone asked me a rather odd question.  "Why do you do all that cartoony stuff?"  they asked.  By cartoony stuff, they meant these guys here. 

By "why do you do" they meant create them and use them in various formats such as baby shower, birthday party or seasonal party invitations, t-shirts, binders, dry erase boards, stationery, magnets, coffee mugs, etc. I'm honestly not sure why that question even came up, but I took it to mean that at my age, I suppose it might expected that I'd be "doing" something more grown-up with my time.  As if, "cartoony stuff" was something young people do.  I'm not sure it was meant that way but that's the way it came across.  It kind of bothered me actually so I had to think about it.  Why do I do cartoony stuff?  

Here are some of the reasons in no particular order:

1. I LOVE THEM.  I see things and in my mind I picture them in cartoon format.  Cats, dogs, birds, french fries, pickles... it doesn't matter.  In my mind, everything has a cartoon version.  Well, almost everything.  Bad/creepy things don't have a cartoon version, only fun things.

2. They make me smile.  Once I start a new design for a character I don't stop until the final product looks like the image in my head.  Once I get there, or get close... once the character starts making me smile, that's when I know.  I have some characters I've never even used on anything for commercial sale.  They just live along side the hundreds of others in a special file.  Some day, I might bring them out and share them with the world.

3. They make others smile. These little guys and gals are on thousands of products and I don't even know how many reviews I've read from customers that absolutely love them on whichever product they've purchased.  That makes me smile too!  Knowing I've brought a little fun into someone's world with my designs makes me very, very happy.

That's it.  Those are the only reasons I can come up with and perfectly okay with them. I suppose at some point in my life I'll grow up and stop doing cartoony stuff. But in all honesty, I hope not.  I'll miss them if I do.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Product Review: Yellow Jacket Traps

So, it's that time of year when the yellow jackets go a little nutty. If you enjoy eating outside on a patio, they will automatically assume your food and drink is for them, and 700 of their closest friends.  It makes for a rather unpleasant meal time.

I don't really know why they do this, I just know they do.  For whatever reason, this year they seem to be more obnoxious than usual, and we've been having a rough time with them for the last couple of weeks.

I looked online and there are all sorts of ways you can "upcycle" old pop bottles and such to lure them away from your outdoor dining area but since we don't drink pop, I decided I wasn't going to do one of those crafty things.  So off to the store I went to find some kind of yellow jacket trap that actually worked (I'd never used one, so I wasn't even sure what to get).

What I found were all sorts of traps and devices with all sorts of inserts and "attractant" which all had price tags far higher than I wanted to pay. Then I found this cheap little plastic jar with a plastic lid, and two openings on the side. I think it was 2 dollars or something and since I'm cheap, I bought two of them.  Assuming of course, I should have paid 10 times as much for something that works.  I was happily wrong.

The instructions said to fill half-way with sugar water or pop, then hang away from where people gather.  So, I did that but I used sugar water.  It worked so-so, but not like I wanted it to.  So then I bought a bottle of Sprite and used that.  It worked a little better, but still not as well as I'd hoped. So then, I decided to get some fruit juice (apple juice was on sale for a dollar, so that appealed to my cheap-side) and try that.

Well, I filled them half full of apple juice, moved them over to the fence on the side of the house and OH MY GOODNESS!  Within minutes, yellow jackets were swarming all over both of them and there wasn't a single one on the patio.  I went out again just moments ago to get this picture and there are already numerous little buggers inside them.  Still none on the patio.

Now, we haven't had a meal on the patio yet with the traps out there so I don't know if they're a powerful enough draw to keep the beasties away from the food, but for now, it's working.

So do yourself a favor if you're looking for a solution to getting rid of these pesks, and don't want to spend big money.  Either make your own (google it, there are pics all over how to do it) or get the cheap little jars and fill them with fruit juice.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Back to School Clothes Scandal, Anyone?

(With "back to school" just around the corner - and already in session in some places - and it still being summer weather in most areas where boys and girls want to dress comfortably for the weather - I thought it was timely to share this)

I saw this on FB earlier today and it reminded me of all the media attention local high school students generated this past school year over this issue.

Opinions were all over the place on this, from it being too harsh, too lax, students dressing too "trashy" or perfectly fine, but too "trashy" for the school administrators.

In some of the cases I saw in the media, the girls were in fact dressed 100% inappropriate for school (in my opinion as a mom with 6 daughters).  In others, the girls were dressed no different than my own 16 year old. While I don't insist my girls head off to school dressed in flour sack dresses, I don't let them leave the house looking all "hey boys, check out the goods!".  Not that any of them would anyway, that's just not their style. Thankfully.

The thing that really got me though was seeing it all taken to a level it had no place going.  In many cases, school staff were themselves "shamed" for doing their best to encourage all students to adhere to a certain dress code that wasn't distracting to other students (and staff).

So when I saw this on FB today I decided to create my own version, based on 32 years of
a.) hating fashion choices moms have to deal with when shopping for cute, trendy clothes for girls,
b.) my own opinion of what is appropriate and what isn't and
c.) encouraging teachers and staff to STAND UP for doing what's right and being an awesome role model that pushes kids towards developing their BEST qualities, and not flashing the flesh.

Your mileage may vary, but here's MY version:

Honestly, it's time for adults to be adults again and stop caving into PC'ness.  Kids NEED strong adults in their lives pointing them in a GOOD direction, despite all the nonsense out there telling us we shouldn't do this or say that.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Headline News: Sometimes my attitude genuinely stinks

While reading all the developing news stories yesterday and last evening I kind of got a bit overwhelmed with all the BAD news. From fires to arrests to hacked documents to vile videos about abortion.  Sometimes I think I just want to stick my head in the Happy Sand and pretend none of the wickedness is going on all around me and my loved ones.  Clearly that would be irresponsible but it's so very tempting.

So then... Ashley Madison.  By now everyone's heard all about it.  Including girls or women actually named, "Ashley Madison". Imagine that special kind of awkward.

A few thoughts.

When I first heard the client data had been released by hackers, my very first thought was GOOD!  Followed by thoughts of how every single subscriber deserved absolutely every kind of devastation and humiliation coming to them.  From marital, to financial, to career and more.  All of it. Boom. Justice. Done!

But that was my flesh thinking, not my heart.  Really, when you think about all the stupid, awful, dumb things any of us have done (you, me, your spouse, your kids, my kids) and hoped would never come out for public consumption, we're kind of all AM Subscribers in a way. Obviously we're not all looking to cheat on our spouses but we've all got our own private, personal junk that we'd never want the world to know.  If we're Christians, we've already dealt with it with the Lord and that's as far as we'd want it to ever go. Ever. So in a way, I had to sort of back-track on my "ha, you get what you deserve you cheating pig!" mindset.  I'm all about justice, but I'm also eternally grateful for God's grace and mercy and that same grace and mercy extended to me from other believers who know full well there own sin isn't any prettier than mine.

In discussing it with my husband we talked about the children of these cheating husbands, their wives, and extended families and how they certainly didn't deserve the coming humiliation, and how they were the real victims in all this.  I CANNOT EVEN IMAGINE.

So, it was good to read this last night from Dustin Germain from The Reformed Pub.  These days, not much shocks me but I will say I was very disheartened and disappointed to learn Josh Duggar's name was on that list of subscribers.  I shared my thoughts on the whole Duggar fiasco here and here back in June.  Some (wrongfully) assumed I was defending Josh Duggar so I suppose I fall into the camp (mentioned in the Reformed Pub's blog post) of the 3rd group of people.  I do want to take exception to a part of it however:

"Finally there will be the family of Christ who defended him while acknowledging his sin. They will be heartbroken. They stood up for him as a Christian who sinned greatly in his youth but who had been restored in mercy and grace, and now they will be stung and embarrassed at having done so, often passionately in the face of skepticism and doubt. Even the very act of sticking up for a child molester tested and strained the forgiveness they were willing to extend, and yet they assumed and trusted the best even though all they had to go on was his word and some fruit they saw him bear. This was because they recognized the power of the gospel to actually change lives, evidenced by their own, and they believed that Christ again had done another miracle in regeneration. Now though, in place of that hope, there is a strange, disquieting sadness."

What I posted back in June wasn't actually a defense of Josh Duggar but more of an appeal for folks to really think about their attitudes about the whole thing, in the factual context of how things happened.  Despite that, I'm not at all embarrassed for what I said then. Disappointed?  Absolutely.  Heartbroken for his wife and children, and siblings?  No question about it.  It's a very shameful thing to be outed as a hypocrite, and that shame extends directly to one's closest loved ones.

I really liked the closing segment of this same post which starts out "So what are we to do?"  PRAY.  For Josh's wife, his children, his family, his victims and for Josh himself.  I would simply add, that we might pray about our own attitudes when we read something like this. We're all so bent on justice for wrongs (and that's not a bad thing at all) when it comes to things like this but I think sometimes we forget "Josh Duggar" could be anyone.  You, me, your spouse or your kid.  Calling his sin for what it is, is fair and right.  But sometimes I think we're all just a little too eager for under-the-bus justice for others, when we're so thankful we received grace instead.

Just my 2 cents, for what it's worth.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Awkward Day

There are all kinds of special days in people's lives.  From birthdays to wedding anniversaries, the day you bought your first house (or first car), the day you graduated, or landed your dream job and on and on the list goes.  It's different for everyone, but everyone has some kind of list of days.  Then, there are other days that are hard to forget no matter how hard you really want to.  Days where not-so-wonderful things happened and it was traumatic enough to go down in your mental hall of records as "that day".

For me, that day is today, August 15th.  Specifically, August 15, 1995.  Twenty years ago today I became a widow.

I've thought about the day off and on for the last month or so (only because others have mentioned it, really) and of course today when I woke up it was among my first thoughts: "today is the day".  Followed by "now what?"

It's such an awkward day.  There are no rules like for birthdays where you wrap gifts, bake a cake and sing songs.  No special plans are made like dinner reservations or shopping for a new dress.  There's nothing to take a picture of and stick in the photo album to remind you of "this day".  It's just there, sticking out of the calendar going "hey, remember me?"

Well of course we remember, but we don't really want to.  At least I don't.  I don't want to remember the details of that day.  I don't want to remember how I felt that day.  I don't want to remember the phone calls I had to make or the places I had to go.  The one thing I don't want to remember ever again, is the looks on my children's faces when I had to tell them.  If I never see those expressions on their precious faces (or any of my other children born after that time), it will be too soon.

It's one of those days you don't talk about.  Or do you?  Do you mention it?  Who do you mention it to?  How do you decide who to bring it up to, and bring them down with your thoughts of "hey, today is the anniversary of the day I became a widow"?  You don't really want to do that but somehow it feels like you're supposed to say something, to someone. I'm not even sure why, but it does.

So as I've thought about it off and on throughout today, I've decided the best way to deal with this day is to look at all the awesome that has taken place since that day.

Those little kids who's expressions broke my heart into a million pieces?  They're all grown up now with lives and children and experiences of their own.  We talk almost every day, and they spend time here at home with mom off and on, and I can easily say I'm so very blessed they are mine.  It wasn't easy for any of them and they'll never know what it was like to not have to deal with that as children, but that experience, as brutal as it was, had a large part in making them who they are today.  Loving, appreciative, thoughtful, compassionate people.  Okay some of them are a little weird too (fine, they're all weird!) but they are who they are, and I love them so much I can't stand it.

That first few weeks and months (and years, to be honest) is still rather blurry and I'm okay with that.  There was too much pain to remember it all.  Too many mistakes made, too many bad choices, too many trials and errors.  Too many tears.  Yet God was merciful and gracious and brought a new (and wonderful) husband into my life and four more awesome kids.

In all the years since that day, so many amazing, wonderful, incredible things have happened.  I've experienced the joy of becoming a grandmother, traveled to amazing and breathtaking places, re-connected with my step-son (who struggled in his own way) and met his children, bought my first home, and... well, there's so much I can't even begin to list it all.  The more I think about how much awesome has filled the last 20 years the more I could easily come up with.

Of course it hasn't all been rainbows and sunshine.  Life has done what life does and takes you down in the valley then back up to the mountain.  Again, and again, and again.  Overall however, it's been an incredibly good and blessed life for the last twenty years.

So I guess all I really want to say about "this day" is that it happened, it hurt beyond words but... that was then, and this is now.  God has blessed my life in ways I would have never dreamed of, since that day.  I suppose it will always be an awkward day in some regard, but I like to think about the "since then" and the "now" and the "what will next year and then 10 or 20 years from now bring?" instead of anything else.

Oh, and August 15th was also the opening day of Woodstock.  Anyone who knows me and knows my love of classic rock, will understand.

Edited to add:  I've decided to share what I had to say about this last year, on this day.  You can read that here.  I'm only adding it because I hope it helps someone, who may need to feel that same hope that is rather elusive, at first.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

You Keep Using That Word...

I've thought of about 50 different ways to say what I want to say on this subject. I'm pretty sure anything I do have to say has already been said in a much more eloquent way by someone else anyway, so it probably wont be anything new. I do want to say it with all honesty and with all kindness, and respect however.  So I'll just go ahead and start off rambling and hope it makes sense to someone. Deal? Great!

So, the Supreme Court's ruling to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states... confirmed something we (society) have known for quite some time now: we (society) disagree on what marriage is. Really, this is not news to anyone who's been paying attention for longer than 20 minutes. While Bible believing Christians believe God defined marriage as a sacred union between one man and one woman, unbelieving people disregard that and are perfectly okay with marriage being between anyone, of any gender-identity.  Again, this is really not news.

Bible believing Christians (and I need to make that distinction because there are people that call themselves Christians but don't actually believe what the Bible teaches about many things) and non-Christian members of society disagree on lots of things besides what marriage really means.  From how you really get to Heaven, who Jesus actually was, male/female roles (within the church as well as within the family), abortion, divorce, adultery, pre-marital sex, and about 800 million other things from the length of your skirt to the cut of your hair, piercings, tattoos, and this, that and the other.  Some of those things we disagree on are obviously way more important than others, but the point is: we disagree.  We always have, and we always will.  Simply because, our worldview is different, and it always will be.

When I read the news of the Supreme Court ruling, I then read a lot of opinions about it.  Some were very rational, level-headed thinkers while others were, well, let's just say they were not rational at all. That led me to thinking I wanted to create a design that simply summed up what Bible believing Christians do believe about marriage, and why without bashing what other people believe or support, because frankly, that's not "gentleness and reverence" (1Peter 3:15).  Others will support same-sex marriage, and that's their right to do that, just as it is our right to support the historical, traditional, Biblical definition of marriage. So while the Supreme Court defines marriage one way, for the Bible believing Christian it's defined a different way, and it always has been and always will be... and that's what we support.

So with that said, for those who do support Biblical marriage, I've created a limited collection of products with this graphic:

Direct links to each:

White coffee mug, silver water bottle, black water bottle, white 4"x6" magnet, black 4"x6" magnet, white tee, black tee.

(Small sidenote: when I created my graphic design business I named it Reflections.  I've always believed what you wear on your t-shirt (or have on your coffee mug, keychain, bumper sticker, etc.) is a genuine reflection of what's in your heart/mind.  What you're most passionate about, what you really want the world to see.  While "Christian t-shirts" are not everyone's thing, for those who like them, I try to bring it up a notch from the standard slogans.  You can see my limited collection of Christian tees here.)