For the Love of Art

As another school year approaches, I find myself reflecting on the past year and all that was accomplished. One event in particular that comes to mind was the art show I did to showcase the talented artists I taught from kindergarten all the way up to 12th grade.

It was a small event that in some ways got over shadowed by the grand theater production I wrote and helped put on. But this art show wasn’t any less important! It brought in some money for the school (Rock Solid Academy), but more importantly it gave the kids a chance to be proud of their work and show it off to their family and friends.

Our gym was the stage to many colorful pieces using water colors, tempera paints, pastels, markers, and pencils on 8 x 10 canvases. The kids were told that their masterpieces would be for sale. As a result some of the younger kids saw fit to paint the prices right on the artwork itself. *sigh* Yeah, that was a struggle to try to explain that error. haha

My favorite part though was when I asked the kids to write together on poster boards what they liked best or learned this year in art class. These were the results:

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1st and 2nd Graders
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3rd Through 6th Grade
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Middle and High School…. with one Second Grader thrown in for good measure LOL

It’s so much fun to try to read so much love for my class! It’s quite the challenge to try to decipher some of the misspelled words too. It’s a good thing puzzles are a favorite pastime of mine. 😉

Now, on to the showpiece; the artwork! Please enjoy 🙂

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Kindergarten! Favorite medium = Markers with Water
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First Grade! Favorite Medium = Pencils and Tempera Paint
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Second Grade! Favorite Medium = Tempera Paint
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3rd through 6th Grades! Favorite Medium on Table = Tempera Paint & Pastels
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3rd through 6th Grades! Favorite Medium on this table = Colored Pencils and Pastels
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Middle School! Favorite Medium = Pastels
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High school! Favorite Medium = Pastel & Watercolors

The Art Show lasted for 2 hours and it had a lovely steady stream of people from start until end. I was able to capture one shot during the business:

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Looking forward to an even better one this upcoming year!

Hope you enjoyed this picture walk-through. Do you see a particular piece that intrigues you? Do you see a favorite? Cause you know teachers never have favorites….bahaha *sarcasm*

Until my next adventure…

 

Coffee and Murder

Last weekend my little family and I took a little drive to Scranton (PA) to have some fun, do a few errands, and to celebrate our son Riker’s 4th birthday. It was especially fun for me because I had chosen long ago to have Scranton as the backdrop city/town for the book I’m writing. It was an exhilarating chance to explore the inner artistry of my stage.

Some of you have heard me mention a few times about this novel, but I have yet to mention it on my blog. So for those that don’t know, I started writing a murder mystery novel about 3 years ago, I worked a year, then took an almost 2 year break, and now a couple of months ago I started writing feverishly again! I’m determined to finish by the end of this year. (Pray for me, please!)

It’s the story of a unfulfilled singer who is thrust into a world of impossible love, deception, hypocrisy, and murders, when a serial killer invades her life and exposes secrets she never knew she had.

My goal is to create this raw world that shows the inner struggles and relatable tragedies (some scenes may be too extraordinary to be common, but they result in all too real outcomes) that befall this woman, named Loralie Campdon.  It’s fast paced, but with room to breath and wonder at what could befall next, be it blood, love, or another dark shadow.

The whole book takes place in this electric city called Scranton. It’s charming, cold, inviting, dark, trendy, yet scary all at the same time. There’s history there with a past vibrant and bustling, low points where populations sank, and a possible bright future. Sounds like a perfect to home for a sinister serial killer…

One of the first scenes in my novel, we meet Loralie in this trendy coffee shop. We get a peak into her seemingly perfect world when she first discovers the first glimpse of oncoming disaster.

This coffee shop, coincidentally actually exists! I’m not a regular here so I’m not an expert on their menu to recommend it to you (although I very much enjoy their almond milk lattes!), but I do want to show you how adorable this place truly is! I got the privilege to take some pictures when I visited “Northern Lights Espresso” last week. Take a little journey with me there…

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Adorable and quaint
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The possibility for love…or danger?
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Just enough tables to make a fast getaway an impossibility.
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A cozy hidden library, an easy place for a stalker to lurk…

May I lastly wet your palate with an insert from the beginning of my novel (working title “The Judas Killer”) …

Past these two tables, the little café was crowded with people minding their own business. Each of them in their own little messed up world. No one, that I could see, was looking at me.

Wait, hold that thought.

Every muscle in my body froze. There was a shadow watching me from the back corner.

A tall figure leaned against a book shelf that was crammed full of novels and cookbooks. His face and shape were obscured in the shelf’s shade. He was clothed in dark murky colors, but stood out like a sore thumb because of his sunglasses and fedora placed awkwardly on his head.

Didn’t he know Pennsylvania hadn’t seen the sun for weeks now? He appeared to be a man that wouldn’t care about that or anything for that matter. Except for me, he clearly cared about me.

 

I hope I now leave you wanting more. Until next time, this is a writer, who wishes her name was Loralie, signing off… Until my next adventure!

From Drab to Fab!

Once there was a sad, tired house.
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It was overgrown, peeling, and sagging. Desperately needing of repair. And in major need of weeding.
It longed to be loved and looked after. It yearned for paint. It dreamed of less holes in it’s walls.
It longed to be free to be modernized!
Cue to enter: the Kudey family.
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They saw such great potential in this old house. (haha, I just reminded myself of that home improvement TV show with Bob Vila back in the day. Does anyone else remember it?)
The husband loved the layout, downstairs man cave, and large dining room.
The wife went crazy over large kitchen, quiet area, and the thought of what this house could one day be!
The little boy loved the space to run around and around and around (It had a hallway with two entrances to the living room that act as an island. Perfect for running in circles.) He also loved that he would be getting the biggest bedroom in the house, lol.
So the happy family decided it was a perfect fit. And set on an adventure to turn the house into a home.
The old house saw hope finally on the horizon.
It got excited once dark curtains were torn down and light was let back into its shadows. Fresh neutral paints were painted over it’s ugly pink and blue walls.
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Even their fat kitty, Petra was happy…
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Holes were spackled in. Cabinets were stained. Wallpaper was torn down.
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 Runaway plants were dug up or pruned. Gorgeous roses, hydrangeas, bleeding hearts, etc. were planted in their places.
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Then the couple took a break.
But the house screamed, “There’s still so much more to do!!”
A year and a half later the couple said, “Okay, now let’s REALLY get to work!”
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First, it was time to update the bathroom from hideous…
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To fabulous…
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The house cried, “More, more, more, please!”.
The wife said “Okay, I’ve got this one. Let me tackle a little bit of the kitchen.”
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“That dropped florescent light ceiling, has GOT TO GO!” She exclaimed.
So down came the dropped ceiling…
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But, oh dear, there’s a hole in the ceiling no one expended would be there! No wonder this poor house was so miserable.
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So a wooden brace was hammered in. Then came a piece of drywall cut to size. (wish I had taking pics of these steps). A heavy coat of spackle was then applied. It was getting there…
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The lights were torn down and replaced by modern track lighting. Then finally a couple of coats of paint…
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“Ahhhhhh” The house sighed. “That’s feeling better! But what about the counter tops and back splash?”
  The couple sighed.
“That part will have to wait.” The husband said. “But don’t worry! We have some more projects up our sleeves!”
 “Yes, let’s tackle the sun room!!” The wife shouted with joy.
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“It’s such dead unused space out there that we don’t use because it reeks of cat pee and that ancient door lets in so many wasps, ugh.”
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  “Only if it will cost less than $200.” The husband was worried. “And that includes a new door.”
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 “Challenge accepted!” She searched for ideas on Pinterest and went to Lowe’s, and came back with a few ideas up her sleeves.
First, walls were scraped of all the peeling wood and splinters. Then several coats of beautiful Satin White Exterior paint was applied.
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Ick, the door was next…
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Goodbye old door!! Wasn’t too hard actually. A screwdriver really helped with this job though.
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Hello tight fitting, perfect looking, and practical storm door!
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Next they ripped out the disgusting carpet. What was left of the carpet padding and glue had to be scraped by hand. It was a challenging job, but after a long afternoon they finished off by scrubbing the plywood with a mixture of bleach/white vinegar/pine-sol/water. Now the smell was finally gone at least!
 The couple debated of what to do next. The husband wanted carpet, while the wife wanted tile. They settled on an option that was a tenth of the price of either one; simply staining the floor.
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They killed two birds with one stone by using the same dark stain they used to paint their back deck. Win win!
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Ahhhhhh, so much better…
Now it was time to decorate and make it look like home!
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It was now fitting with a fan for those hot summer days (although they are few here in Pennsylvania, it’s true), and finished off with a big rocker for mommy and a little rocker for Riker.
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Lovely! The house was so happy and refreshed!
During all of these improvements the couple had hired a good friend of theirs to paint the exterior of their home. Yes, it had finally become their home sweet home…
From dreary…
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to refreshed… (Garage doors painted by the wife)
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Even the small back deck got a makeover…
Rich looking now!
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(Deck painted by the amazing husband.)
And now…drum roll please…the big reveal!
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My favorite part is our new front door color!
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The house was finally overjoyed! Happy house, happy wife! 😉
 But the story wasn’t done yet, because the next project is the dreaded basement. This is hopefully going to be tackled before winter hits…
More DIY renovations to be continued!
Total cost of DIY renovations:
Kitchen ceiling:
New ceiling vent = $20
Track Lighting = $39
Paint = We had extra paint. so free!
Total = $59

New Storm Door = $125
Ceiling Fan = $30
Stain (which was also used for the deck) = $36
New Outlet/Light covers: $4
Total: $195 (under $200!! Oh yeah!)
So what do you guys think?
Do you see places we still need to improve on in our fixer upper?
Would love to hear your thoughts! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Fearless Love

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

 It was late and dark as I walked down our long hallway to finally go to bed last night. It had been a long day for us all full of work, cleaning, and grocery shopping until late. As I got closer to my comfortable bedroom I could hear soft crying coming out of our son’s open door.
   I immediately went to Riker’s side to see what was wrong and why he wasn’t asleep yet.
“I’m scared. I don’t wanna go to sleep. I want to sleep on the couch.” He exclaimed while he clung to his pillow and favorite stuffed animal (a little tiger named “Monty”. My husband had named it for him since Riker’s first thing to watch at one day old was a game show with Monty Hall as the host. Andrew is obsessed with game shows, but that’s another story.)
 “Riker, I’m sorry, but no. You have to sleep in your own bed. It’s okay. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
  He continues to cry, but slowly obeys me by getting back into bed. “Riker, it’s okay. You are fine. Jesus is watching over you so there’s nothing to be afraid of.” He’s still going on about not wanting to go to sleep.
“Will you go to sleep if I sing to you?” He nods.
  I then sing slowly “Jesus Loves Me” and stroke the side of his face. As I get to the second line in the song he stops crying and peacefulness falls over his face.
  The song ends, I say good night and he answers “Good Night Mama, I love you too. Can you leave the door open?” My response is “Of course, just a little bit.”
  With that he finally went to sleep.
  He woke up an hour later because our stupid neighbors decided that setting off fireworks 10:30 at night on a freakin’ Wednesday in August was a good idea. grrrrr
I let Riker come into bed with us a little while then, which was followed by a similar routine to get him back into his own bed. Then he was finally fine until 7:00 am, thank you Jesus!
 Riker has been struggling, especially over the last year, with fear. Fear of thunderstorms, the dark, fireworks, big dogs, etc. His fear has been the strongest at bed time and nap time. I realize it’s a normal thing that most kids go through, but it’s so difficult as a parent to watch your kids go through it!
   I’ve had my own struggles with fear as well. I’ve always had an intense fear of the dark. My artist imagination goes wild with what could be lurking in unseen shadows and creepy forests.
The unknown future was also a fear. What ifs would plague my mind, especially a fear of being out of God’s will, oh dear!

  “Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”- Isaiah 35:4

  There have been so many countless times where God has saved me from my fear. These life experiences, above simply reading the words, have shown me that I don’t need to be afraid.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

  I’ve read these verses so many times, but it was only after seeing Him work miracles in my life that have I been actually delivered from fear.

But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.'” – Isaiah 43:1

   Now this verse…oh this amazing verse brings me to my story. This story is an example of how I take comfort in Jesus for “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”

  The date was August 11th, 2013.

 Screams were flying out of me. There was no control left in my voice.
My mouth was dry.
Andrew’s arm was becoming black and blue with imprints where my grip held him too tight.
My mother warmed me with words of encouragement. “It’s almost time Laura, you’re doing great! Just a little longer. You can do it!”
My midwife stood by, ready to help where needed. She gave me orders how to position my enormous body as it shook with pain.
As the clock stroke 1:21 am I let out one final push and suddenly a very wet small figure was immediately placed into my arms.
But something was horribly wrong.
No cry was heard.
The silence was deafening.
The cord was wrapped around his precious neck.
His body was cold and still.
Fear struck me suddenly, like a knife to the chest.
No! I refused to believe this was happening! This couldn’t be God’s will for his life to stop here!
When we were trying to conceive I had gone before Jesus with every fiber of my being. I stood firm on 1 Samuel chapter 1. I prayed Hannah’s prayer over and over again and worshiped as I imagine she had where a priest actually thought she was drunk.
It was during one of these weeks where not only did I conceived, but God told me through our Pastor that I was pregnant 4 weeks before a test would confirm it. In his prophecy he stated that there was “great joy growing inside of me”. This was told 9 months to the day before August 11th.
I knew that this child would grow up strong. This was why we decided to tell people as soon as we found out that we were pregnant instead of wait until the recommended 14 week announcement. We believed we didn’t need to wait because we knew in our hearts that nothing would happen to our child. My husband and I agreed together to stand firm on God’s word that had been spoken to us.
I was then told, less than 12 hours prior to giving birth, by a missionary that the boy I was having would one day be a “Great and Strong Leader to the Nations”. Little did he know that we were going to name him Riker which means “powerful/strong ruler/leader”. God confirmed these prophecies in our hearts.

“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”- 2 Corinthians 1:20

God never lies.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” – Isaiah 41:13

So I knew this wasn’t the end for our child.
Swallowing the fear that had stabbed me heart, I suddenly felt my lips mouth the name of Jesus.
My hand rubbed his upper back lovingly.
I said simply the name of Jesus over and over again.
“Jesus!”
A gasp was heard from his open mouth.
The most beautiful sound was of him coughing.
Dark gray eyes looked into mine and my heart became COMPLETELY his. My difficult labor was suddenly worth it. The pain was no longer felt. This joy was finally resting in my tired arms.
It’s miracles like these that drive out my fear. God’s perfect love for us, wow.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18

Somehow fear has now crept into the heart of my precious little boy. Now I’m faced with how I can teach my little, almost four year old, how to rely on God instead of fearing the scary things around him. It took me 26 years to realize I didn’t need to be afraid and God still has to remind me from time to time.
Do I really need to wait years for God to show Riker His perfect love?
I pray not.
I’m trying my best as a mother to show Riker my love for him and to guild him into Jesus’ comforting hands.
I know that I know that I know that God has great things in store for our little Riker Gabriel. The enemy, who is the culprit of fear, is trying to stop Riker’s destiny.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Resting comfortably in God’s word and will is a beautiful but difficult thing. Each day brings a new adventure and possibilities though! Praise God for what He has done and what He will do!
Until next time, this is me signing off and leaving you with the first picture taken of our sweet miracle baby. 🙂 I would love to see some other first pictures of your little ones! Please leave a comment with your first pictures!
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