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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Losing Leah

Isn’t the name Leah Lowe beautiful.
I loved her name before I ever met here.  Three years ago I first heard the name Leah Lowe at church.  Her name came up in a conversation with another church member who was talking about her in such a sweet way. Leah had helped and reached out to her.  I heard her name again at another time spoken of in the same positive tone.  Leah was a pretty popular girl.  She seemed to be every one’s friend and one day I did have the chance to meet her.
I first met Leah on a Sunday at church in the mother’s lounge.  I was nursing my baby Reef in a rocking chair.  Leah, a few years younger then me, was holding a baby, not her baby, but helping a friend out who had recently had a baby. 
“I just love babies,” Leah said, “but I can’t have anymore.  Instead of being sad about it, I just help everyone else with their baby.”
Leah was the mother of 4 beautiful children, two boys and two girls; happy children, loved children.  Leah radiated around her children and her husband.  She was a smiley person, hugging those around her, a sympathetic listener, very caring when someone was sad.  I was so happy to be her friend.  About a year later, Leah told me she was moving to Colorado.  She’d been offered a well-paid job and would work full-time while her husband attended school.  When Leah moved, there were a lot of sad hearts, including mine.
But, a few months later, I saw her at church again. 
Leah told me she’d brought the kids back to Arizona on vacation to visit family.  They’d cried the entire car ride home back to Colorado, missing their grandparents and cousins, aunts and uncles, so Leah and her husband decided to move back.
Just like that.
What dreamy parents, huh.
While I knew Leah she worked with the elderly and with special needs children.  She just couldn’t get away from helping people.
After finding a small and painful bump on her leg that wouldn’t go away, she went to the doctor.  Leah was diagnosed with a rare aggressive form of cancer called T-cell lymphoma.  It quickly spread throughout her body.  She started cancer treatment and was soon heavy into chemotherapy.
Every time I saw her she was smiley and she was so optimistic.  She would fight this; for her children, for her husband, because she loved life.
She continued to help others, even while she was sick.
Members of my church have been amazing.  So many people have reached out to Leah’s family.  Meals, babysitting, contributions, countless words of encouragement, prayers, fasting; all to honor the Lowe family.  I was so touched when my own boys wanted to fast for Leah.  Praying for her became part of our daily routine, as I know it did for some many others who loved her.
You may remember last year in June, Kelly and I had a benefit yard sale for Leah Lowe (read about that here).  
A benefit yard sale and bake sale was a great way to get friends and family involved in something positive.  Everyone wanted to help, everyone wanted to do something and to share love and we did it by selling our dear trash.  We were able to raise $2,000.00.  This helped Leah and her family cover everyday expenses they were struggling to meet.
Through Leah’s 1 ½ year battle with cancer, she fought with everything she had.  Her faith in Jesus Christ shined through her eyes.  She held hands with God through two bone marrow transplants.  More then once, she would return home to her family only to go back to the hospital with more complications.
This weekend, Leah was placed in hospice and died just a day later.
Sweet Leah Lowe, beautiful wife, mother, daughter, friend and now angel, is in heaven.  Her family has been so strong and with amazing faith know they will see her again.
I saw Leah a few hours before she passed.  With my mom by my side, I held Leah’s hand and kissed her forehead.  I told her she was so beautiful, that she had fought with everything she had.  I told her I loved her that we, her friends, would love and look after her children.  
I wondered if Jesus was in this room.  What angels were here?  Perhaps Leah’s brother, who had passed away a few years earlier, was waiting for her?  
I believe in Jesus Christ and love Him.  
Painting by Greg Olsen
I believe in life after death.  I know we lived with God before we were born and when we die, we return home to Him.  I believe families are eternal, that these special relationships live beyond the grave.  I believe Jesus Christ is my Savior and that he atoned for my sins.  Every life has a purpose, every person is known by Him, not a sparrow falls from a tree that He is not aware of.
There is comfort knowing Leah is now in His arms.  She is out of pain and heaven’s most beautiful angel.    

Friday, October 28, 2011

Home Sign Tutorial

I posted a picture of my home sign a few weeks ago and thought I'd write up a little tutorial.
I pulled an MDF board out of my scrap pile which measured 34 inches wide and 12 3/4" tall. Paint the board black and tape off to make four even sections.I used scotch tape because it was 3/4" wide and that's what I had on hand. Next, paint each section the color you want the letters to be...All of the paints I used are Folk Art brand. The first section is Burnt Umber, then Patina, the third section I left black, and the last section is linen.I used my cricut to cut "Home" Each letter is 10 3/4" tall- The H is 6" wide. Place a letter on each section, then paint over the letters with the color you want the background to be.First section is Linen, then Burnt Umber, then Turner's yellow mixed with a little burnt umber and the last section is deep tomato red. Now peel off the vinyl.To distress I sanded the whole thing with my palm sander. I used ebony stain on the edges and then covered the whole thing with Briwax in dark Brown. This stuff waxes, cleans and protects.Here's another pic of the finished sign...I'm planning on doing a similar sign that says "Love" for valentines day. Let me know what you think. Love, Kelly.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A garage sale of my own

Is there anyone out there that enjoys having a yard sale?
It’s a bit like pulling teeth, isn’t it.
This year, my annual garage sale was a means to an end; the last of the money I wanted to earn before going to New York City.
I didn’t want to do it, but I had to face my demons, I mean trash.
It really does add up.
All the trash I buy for the shop at QcumberZ that doesn’t sell.
All the trash I buy for craigslist that hasn’t sold.
Trash I’m selling for friends and family.
Plus, my own trash.
After all, I do have a growing family.
I set everything up in my driveway the night before and marvel at all my junk.
I just want it gone.
Funny thing about all this trash.

If I crashed my own garage sale, I would buy most of this stuff back.
The picture frames, the vintage scarves, the birdhouse lamps.
Instead I sell it for next to nothing.  Now, I’m standing on the other side.
I’m not normally on this side of trashing. I'm suddenly so sympathetic to those of you who sell trash to me.
Thank you, all those brave souls who have garage sales.  
You keep me in business.
You make the weekends amazing.
You have such great trash.
Someone bickers over a .50 cent picture frame.
“Would you take .25 cents?”
“Sure,” I say, promising myself I will never bicker over a quarter ever IN MY LIFE!
At about 10:00pm the night before the sale, I decide it’d be a great opportunity for my kids to have a bake sale.  It will teach them how to earn money, they’ll have a blast, they’ll be responsible.
Instead of working on getting more organized for the garage sale, I decide to bake cinnamon rolls, brownies and rice crispie treats.  Licking the batter wasn't all that bad either.  I’m in bed at 1:00am, than up at 7:30am to put up my neon signs with the black arrows pointing down the street I live on.
The first car rolls in, then the next.  By 8:00am, I’ve earned $30.00.  I go inside and check on the baby, hoping she’s awake. 
Later that morning, a woman in my driveway asks if I have a blog about trash.
We hug.
She’s amazing, with her 2 beautiful daughters.  She shares the story of their adoption.  I feel like I've known her my whole life. I start focusing more on the relationships with the people browsing trash in my driveway.
These are some cool people.  
A few of my friends come by and it turns into social hour.
I give all the baked goods away and put $10.00 in the boy's tip jar.  
I close shop at noon Saturday.  It’s over 100 degrees and I’m ready to be done. 
The rest of this stuff I’m donating to my kid’s school annual rummage sale.  Kelly and our friend Cindy are taking charge of that little project.
Good-bye trash, you’re moving on to bigger and better things.
With my house cleaned out, I feel the pull.  I can’t wait to go out garaging this weekend.
It's the circle of life.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New York City

Why the Big Apple?
Because I needed an adventure with the man I love (I adore and absolutely can’t get enough of that man).
 (Here he is waiting for me while I shop at Anthropologie in Manhattan)
Because the counselor and I never really had a honeymoon (three days in Pinetop/Lakeside and as a senior at ASU I had homework to work on so, really?).
Because my dear friend Chandra who lives in Harlem has an extra room (I was Chandra’s nanny and we’re closer than sisters).
Because airfare was cheap (sold dresser after dresser for a few weeks and we were one our way).
Because my sister-in-law was available to watch the kids (my kids adore her and her husband Stuart).
Because I really, really love New York City (and as a want-to-be author, I can’t get enough of the literary side of New York from publishing houses to agents to writers).
So, we went.
Central Park
and it rained.  

Pure beauty.
New York City – Home of the Amazing Artists
The music of Phantom of the Opera left me teary-eyed and on the edge of my seat
 seeing Brooke Shields in The Adams Family, the counselor cried at this one.  Who knew the Adams Family would have such a great message?
 walking through the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Some of my favorites:
We didn't want to leave.
New York is a place to contemplate the American Dream.
The Statue of Liberty
 seeing the sight of the World Trade Center Buildings
 walking in the 9/11 Memorial Museum I cried and cried for those who lost their lives.  To see the Freedom Towers being built up is the true American spirit and honoring those we no longer have.
New York inspired me as an artist
The colors!  “My next dresser I paint will be this color green; of aged copper,” I told the counselor.  

"Or that blue!"

"Or that yellow!"
"Or that red!"

I also contemplated my current YA manuscript, the changes I wanted to make, the direction I need to go and felt my publishing dreams in reach.
New York City History
Touring the city on a double-decker bus, outside where John Lennon was shot
everywhere we turned was a new adventure.  On a harbor tour learning about the plane that landed in the Hudson a few years ago, 
learning about Ellis Island and the millions of immigrants that came through,
 the sacrifices of those who've been before us, 
understanding the determination it took to build the Brooklyn Bridge, those who lost there life to try something that had never been done before.
New York City Money 
The sky scrapers
Park Avenue & 5th
browsing the Tiffany store.
or not
New York City Food
Warning:  photos are graphic!
Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes
Max Brenner Hot Chocolate
Corned Beef and pastrami at Juniors
Philly Cheese steak, fresh bagels, IT was all so good.
New York City thrift stores
Goodwill and Salvation Army?  Seriously, like being on speed!  
The only time the entire trip I lost complete track of time, I bumped into the counselor and didn’t know who he was, everything was high-end designer clothing, no $1.00 day, but I still had my cheap thrill.  The place to purchase all my kids souvenirs.  Loving the creepy plastic man!
Only in New York City
The Statue of Liberty texting?
Prima Ballerina in the park
Trying white chocolate reese's peanut butter cups
NYC Police - amazing people I have so much respect for 
Protesters on Wall Street
Falling in love every minute more & more with my husband
Please don't ask me what I'm wearing because I'm not really sure, it has something to do with layers and being really cold.

Then, home again
The flight home, I kept thinking about my kids.  Did they really do as well as Amber said they had?  Would they be changed the same way I’ve changed?   We pulled into the driveway and I ran to the front door of my home, Chandler, almost as tall as me jumped in my arms, Eden ran to me, wiggling her little hips like she does when she walks saying “Momma, Momma.”  Payson and Mayer inquired about souvenirs we’d brought home; Reef wrapped his little arms around my leg. 
New York City feels like a dream now, but I was just there two days ago.
How is it time goes by, so fast, we have adventures, joys and sorrows and all the while our little kids turn from baby’s to toddlers to almost starting Jr. High.
The time away was wonderful, but I cherish being back with them again.
I missed blogging so much.  Thanks, Kelly for holding down the fort and the wonderful surprise of so many new followers.  You guys are the best.  Can’t wait to reach 1,000 followers and bring one of you into the world of My Dear Trash.