Thursday, July 7, 2011

Independence Day

I hope you too had a wonderful 4th of July! ~Megan

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer Lovin'

Breathing in blue skies, hot temperatures, and other summer blessings. . .

459. The field across from our house full of wildflowers.

 460. A picnic.

461. My sisters and I all taking art classes

461.  Youngest Sister modeling her Monet-inspired hat and beard.

462. Middle Sister's clay Jell-o box.

463. Learning about art through another perspective.

464. Time with my cousins.

465. The kingdoms of Airespauchewan and Petitelina (made-up by my sisters, cousin, and me) fighting against the evil red and black knights.

466. This funny little creature that looks as though he would make a wonderful character in a book.

467. Imagination. 

468. My whole family creating outside.

469. Sisters holding umbrellas and running through the sprinklers.

470. Dancing to Frank Sinatra in lyrical.

471. Trying to learn the Charleston.

472. Two content birds.

473. Flowers blooming everywhere.

474. Queen Anne's Lace opening in the morning and closing in the evening. I suppose even flowers must rest.

475.  Playing freeze tag at the pool.

476. Afternoon rain.

477. Sisters confiding in me.

478. The view of a glorious sunset, even though it's behind telephone wires.

479. Remembering to flip my calendar to July on Sunday.

480. Wildflowers in abundance despite heat and no human help.

481. Spotting deer while on a walk.

482. Time face down before God (inspired by this bible study.)

483. Strengthened focus. 

484. Lunch with Gramma, PopPop, and my great-aunt.

485. My mom's cheesy potatoes.

486. Firefly catching, naming, and releasing.

487. Sisters trying Coca-Cola.

488. Youngest Sister adding a bit of Sprite to the Coca-Cola and exclaiming "I LOVE this!"

489. The BANGS! and BOOMS! and POPS! at the beginning of July

490. Watching a firework display with good friends

491. Coming back to our house for s'mores.

492. Exciting games of flashlight tag.

May you be having a lovely summer! ~Megan

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Painting the Week with Doodles

This week I got to take a class about art in the real world at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. This class was very different from the watercolor one in that I learned more about the art world than the actual techniques for making art.

My teacher, Zach Houston, is a very interesting person with a limitless view on art. The first pieces of art he sold were poems on street corners. He would put up a sign offering to write a poem about any topic you chose for any price you named. People would come up to him, give him a word, and watch as he typed on his typewriter. After several minutes they would receive a finished poem and give him a donation. This fascinating concept aroused attention and he now writes poems and has his drawings on display in a temporary exhibit at the Nelson called "poemstore".

Throughout the class we got to try out typewriters and sketch in notebooks, but the main project we did was create a board comparing real life and art. We first took two pieces of paper and used fine tipped Sharpies to draw what we thought of as real life on one page and what we thought of as art on the other. After that we glued the pages on a much larger sheet of paper and tried to connect them with other drawings. Zach Houston's drawings often look like purposeful doodles, so I tried to draw with that same style.

 When I did my calendar painting for this week, I put my doodling practice to use. Fusing watercolors and pens was an interesting experiment!   

Happy creating! ~ Megan

Friday, July 1, 2011

Captured by Tough Beauty

I usually think of blessings as beautiful things that make me smile. But, as I have been keeping a gratitude journal, I am realizing that blessings can also be hard and painful.

Beauty in the beautiful is easy to find.

It's beauty in the difficult that is much better at hiding.

On Sunday I had an afternoon of tough blessings.

It all started when my mom, sisters, and I went to see my great grandma, Nana. She lives in room 111 at a local retirement center. We planned on chatting with Nana for a little while, then going to get groceries for the week.

We stepped through the door of Nana's apartment to find she had other visitors--my Gramma and PopPop. PopPop was seated on his scooter, Nana in her wheelchair, and they were staring each other down in a silence that spoke volumes. We quietly walked to the other side of the room and sat down. Our arrival was at a very tense moment. 

PopPop was the first to speak, "Mom, you can't stay here. You're just not strong enough. You need to move to either a rehab center or a nursing home."

"Why can't I get the help I need at home? I just want to go home," Nana replied pensively. At that moment the home she was referring to was a blue duplex she had lived in before the retirement center.

"You just don't have the strength, Mom. You couldn't even go to the bathroom by yourself right now," PopPop said.

"Yes I could. I just don't need to right now," Nana's eyes wandered around the room.

"If you could, why don't you simply try moving your leg?" PopPop challenged.

"I could, but I don't need to right now," Nana still avoided PopPop's gaze.

It sounded as though they had switched roles, PopPop being the parent and Nana the child. I looked toward the TV screen which was flashing news reporters and polls. The discussion was necessary, but painful to hear. Nana continued to stubbornly insist she was just fine and PopPop continued to tell her she needed more help.

Eventually PopPop looked away from Nana with a sigh. He turned his attention to finding the TV turner he thought they had accidentally thrown in the trash. "Someone come help me," PopPop said as he headed to the door. Youngest Sister, Middle Sister, and I all followed him across the hall to a blue trash barrel.

"We need to take out a bag from there with banana peels," PopPop said. I opened the bin and took out the top Wal-Mart sack. PopPop looked through the plastic and decided the remote was probably not in there.

I took out another sack.
                                                        And another sack.
                                                                                                      And another sack.
They were all empty of TV turners.

I was coming to the bottom of the barrel and had to reach my whole arm down to reach a fifth sack. The farther down I went the worse the smell. This time, as I lifted the sack up, something dripped out of it. Thankfully, PopPop decided we had searched enough.

"You have now dug through a trash can," PopPop said. "But I'm sorry you had to do it."

I tried to smile, "It's okay." I could tell this was hard for him. He wasn't high enough in the scooter to be able to reach in the bin himself and he didn't want me to have to do it.

We crossed the hall and came back into Nana's room.

Gramma and my mom were putting away miscellaneous things for Nana. PopPop volunteered to take Youngest Sister, Middle Sister, and me to get a can of soda. Gramma dug in her purse for loose change, then we went down the hall to a little room that housed the soda machine. Middle Sister and Youngest Sister each put in sixty-five cents and pushed the button for Sprite. I counted up the rest of the change. Forty cents. "I'll be right back." PopPop said as he wheeled away. In another minute he was back with a quarter and I pushed the button for a grape soda, the one he said was his favorite.

On our way back to Nana's room, PopPop took a detour. We came up behind a family talking to the manager about available rooms. PopPop quickly picked up on the conversation and proceeded to give a rave review of the retirement home. Between his statements about the amazing food, comfortable apartments, and loving workers who had let him borrow a quarter, I realized both why he had been a good salesman and where he had obtained the quarter. The family listened attentively throughout his speech and thanked him for sharing when he had finished. The manager patted him on the back, saying "This man here, he's like a brother to me." PopPop practically glowed as we went back to Nana's room.

"Girls, why don't you and Gramma go sit in the atrium?" My mom asked as we came to the door. Back down the hall with Gramma now, we sat down on a sofa and waited. We talked about my great aunt who was driving up from Texas as we spoke. She planned to move into Nana's old duplex. . . "home" as Nana had called it. We wondered how Nana, PopPop, and my mom were doing. We listened to the grandfather clock tick and tock and finally gong. Concerned and bored, we eventually decided to go back to the room.

PopPop was just outside the bathroom door when we arrived and greeted us, "She's been in there the whole time and Amy has had to do practically everything for her."

Suddenly digging through the trash didn't sound quite so bad.

My mom stuck her head out the door, "I can't get Nana back into her wheelchair. Dad, can you go get help?" PopPop turned on his own scooter and wheeled out of the room, going faster than any scooter should be allowed to go. As we opened our cans of soda, we told my mom about PopPop's sales pitch and the borrowed quarter. She pulled out a quarter from her purse and told us to take it to the front office.

We met up with PopPop and the manager just outside the office. I handed the quarter to the manager then listened to the conversation about getting Nana up and moving her someplace else. We soon went back down the hallway and were followed by several workers. By now we could have walked down the hall blindfolded. As we filed into Nana's room, my mom stepped out of the bathroom to let in the new help.

All was quiet until one of the workers, a lady in pink, came out of the room saying "911. She's fallen. We need to call 911!" 

I stood still, shocked. I had memorized this helpful number in preschool, but hadn't ever needed to use it. Really God? I wondered. Is now really the time?

My mom's eyes looked red and a bit puffy, but she grabbed a phone and dialed the number. Before long firemen and paramedics arrived and worked together to get Nana on a stretcher. Middle Sister, Youngest Sister, and I watched from a distance as they took Nana to the ambulance. I looked through glossy eyes toward my sisters and saw they too were fighting tears. The older sister side of me took over and I tried to comfort them. Somewhere in the midst of  saying, "It's okay," and a silent prayer, I found myself comforted too.

We drove to the hospital and left Nana a couple of hours later in very capable hands. She wasn't seriously injured, just very weak.

It was a traumatic experience, but I can see how God knew best that afternoon. Nana was forced to get much needed help and is now comfortably situated in a rehabilitation center. Unfortunately she hasn't yet accepted where she is.

Right now I am trying to accept where I am. This post was supposed to be for Monday, but it has taken me much longer to work through. It has been both challenging and good for me to write. Still, I am sorry to be posting my Multitude Monday late!

 Giving thanks for beauty everywhere. . .

 447. Nana, safe and sound

448. The opportunity to take a watercolor art class

449. Making two new friends there

450. Driving home with my dad

451. Spontaneously baking Banana Chocolate Muffins with my mom and sisters on Friday morning 

452. Summer Reading Program excitement

453. Friday night spent eating pizza and watching movies with my sisters

454. A successful dessert experiment (though, when putting together strawberries, cool whip, and chocolate chips, things are bound to go well)

455. Listening to the new Owl City CD, All Things Bright and Beautiful 

456. A longer jog 

457. Stretching time

458. Noticing a bug in a flower and realizing it was being gripped by a white spider. At first I was sad. Then I remembered I don't really like bugs anyway. Besides, I figured, this spider might be in as great of need as the bug. I put a picture of the scene up at the top of this post because it seemed to tie all of my ideas together-- Here on the earth, we have the choice to be caught by either the difficulty or the beauty in a situation. There is always hope if we look deeper into God's perfect plan.

May you be captured by beauty of all kinds~ Megan