Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cancer Free

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. That's what Marilyn says anyway. I received a letter today from Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center. When I saw the envelope, I had a little flip in my stomach. Not that I had any problems or concerns, but my Dr. wanted me to have this new digital scan that shows any problems better. What if? That flip was for naught....."Your recent Mammography study did NOT show any sign of cancer." Have I ever mentioned my Mom? (Kidding) She was something to behold. Mom's test was not so positive. In August of '04 she was diagnosed with an awful, untreatable, inoperable cancer that would surely take her life. In February of '05, she left us. It was not breast cancer, but the fear of that word remains in my mind and heart. I think of her every day, but lately, it has been a time of thinking of her a lot and missing her a lot. I have been talking about her at school as we are doing a lesson in altering books and embellishments mean "Mom" to me. In an earlier post, I talked about my "stuff" and that Mom had beads, buttons, ribbons, string, knitting needles.....whatever, and she was willing to share. She shared her collection with her daughter, the art teacher. I am now passing it on to my students. She also comes to my mind and heart more at this time of year with the falling leaves. She loved autumn leaves. She had many pictures of "pretty trees" and loved to go for drives in Newton Hills to see them as they were changing.

Mom was so proud of her children. She said often that her children were her greatest joy, and that "When it comes to blessings, I am richer than most" and that any time she could spend with her kids were her happiest times. These photos show her in some of her last days, thin, tired, but with a smile and her trademark lipstick, posing for a photo with each of her children. She loved photos. She knew what these photos would mean to us.
I am very grateful to God for my 47 years with this amazing woman. She is so proud of me. I am grateful for things such as Mammograms. I am grateful to know I am cancer free. I am grateful to be well and healthy at 50. I only hope I can be half the mother she was to us, and I could only hope my children have as much love and respect for me one day. We never know the day. We never know the hour. Live life. (I met Jennifer Dukes Lee today!!!! Until today, she was my "blogosphere" friend. Check her site out on my left margin under "sites of interest". LOVE HER!!!)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Living life OUT LOUD

Carol and Diane, West Lyon Class of 1976.
Now, fellow art teachers.

Diane as part of Grant Wood painting, "The American Gothic"

One of our trips on the old yellow school busses, band trips, class reunions

Senior band trip to the Black Hills, school plays, Swing Choir, more slumber parties and more class reunions.
Ok, so what are the odds? We walked together at graduation, parted ways after high school, we both went on to become art teachers, and through the technology of the computer, websites and blogs, we have been reunited as kindred spirits 30 some years later. Diane has been amazing, just like a mother hen, gathering all her chicks. We have become reunited with many of our classmates because of Diane. She is the reason I have become a blogger. I saw hers first, thought it looked fun, and here I am! Thank you to those of you who have told me how much they enjoy my makes me want to keep on going...Lori, Pam, Marilyn, Diane, Deb, Jennifer, Diane...and many more evidently, by the number of visitors each day. Sometimes, it is difficult to find anything of interest to post, but, those of you who know me very well, know that I ALWAYS have something to talk about and ALWAYS have photos to share.

I have been interested in altered books and collage type projects for the past several years, and Diane has gotten me going again. She had a post on her blog about altered books, and I fell in love all over again. She was even kind enough to share her lesson plan and handout with me. I tried it today with a couple of classes and I believe it is going to be a hit with my students too! This photo is one from Diane's art class in Denver, Iowa. Check out her blog site in the left margin in my "Sites of Interest". She also maintains the website listed there, "West Lyon Class of '76. She rocks!!

My projects have consisted of collections of things, glued together as more of a collage. If you wonder what kinds of things I may have, you HAVE to check my post last week called, "STUFF"." Being an artist is not the same thing as being a little kid. Little children try to color inside the lines. Artists DO NOT!" So, here is to painting, creating, gluing, decorating with reckless abandon, finding old classmates and friends, sharing ideas, and living life OUT LOUD!
"Turn up the music, let it all out. You won't regret it, looking back to where you have been. It's not who you knew. It's not what you did. It's how you lived." Thank you God, for my day, your gifts, your music, my friends and my life. I pray that I can continue to be an inspiration to those around me. Isn't that just amazing? Me....girl from Beloit....who moved to inspiration. Thanks for visiting. Stop back and listen to the music.

Look what I did, Diane!!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Blessings of the Day

Calvin and Kavian spent 13 weeks in the hospital.
I always say they are perfect (except for being a little
bit naughty sometimes). God smiled on us for sure!!!

(This one is Kavian)What's a cereal bar, Gamma?

This one is Calvin. Yum, Pizza for breakfast is always good.
Was that before or after the cereal?

Got a lot of farming to do!
They both love to farm!

I love our rug, Gamma! And this pizza!

Who is taller? They know it is Calvin,
but they line up like that all the time
just to check.

Rissa isn't here. We can jump on her bed!
Braylyn Ray! Hi, Sista! Some sweetness added to the mix!

Rissa and her photo shoots! After the hayride, on the ride home...nothing else to do!

It is midnight, Saturday night/Sunday morning. Time to hit the hay. This day has been full, as usual, and I guess I would not like it any other way. I can go to bed knowing that Angela had a better day, that her parents can breathe and see her face and hopefully, catch a smile or two and then maybe catch a few hours sleep. Keep up the prayers. They are being heard. Last night, I brought the twins home with me for a visit, and that turned into an overnight stay. I have so much fun with them, but they keep me so busy with their antics, their questions, and their comments. I just happened to have time in the car today on the way to a football game, and I tried to write down some of their sayings. "Why you doing that? Grandma, I'm done! I'm a big boy. Hey, they go to our church! Where's Mom? Kavians unders are on backwards. Where's Gampa going? I'm going outside. Can we ride the 4 wheeler? I want cereal. Only on the deck. He took my wagon. Where's the tractor? Those are girl socks. I want that one. Can we watch combines on the puter? Can I sleep in your bed, Gamma? Can we watch 4 wheelers in the mud? I love you so much. It's cold out. I want pizza. Hey, wheres the sheeps? I like it at your house. You have to stand in the corner. I didn't do it. The kitty is in the house. I help you. I like the Hawkeyes. Where is Jasawn? I sleept on the top bunk. Why is Gampa and Ris going to bolleyball? I don't like it. I do! I'm being good. You're not coming to my birthday. Daddy's here! Hi, sister! Bye Gamma! See you at Sunday School. Our teacher is a different Carol! Whew!!! What a rush! Feed someone, clean them up, chase someone, clean them up, sweep the floor, go to the basement to get the farm set, feed someone, get someone a drink, pick up the toys, sweep the mud out, chase the cat out of the house, make the beds, get a snack, pick up more toys, sweep some more, do the dishes, give lots of hugs and goodbyes, then, off to Sioux City for the game. Glad to see Tyler back in uniform. They didn't play him a lot, but the guy on the radio said it was a good game for Tyler to "get his feet wet" after a couple of weeks out with an injury. Morningside won 38-7, had a little to eat with Tyler and Christi, raced home, changed clothes, then off to the hay ride at Bruggeman's. The twins came to meet us and we took them with us. More questions, more fun! We took them home, tried to wrestle them into jammas and into bed. "Hey, Gamma, wanna see our new bunkbed? Daddy made a deck"!They were just loud enough to wake up Sista. She was happy for another chance to snuggle with Mom. We said our prayers and said our goodbyes. I am so very blessed by my boys and so grateful that they want to spend time with this old Gamma! They love to come to our house, they love to bound out of the house and yell, "GAMMA!" when I drive up. They are a lot of work, but a different kind of work than when my own kids were small. Thank you God, for the blessings of the day. Good night.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Carry Me

I try not to post the same story 2 times in a row, but this is a necessity. Please, right now, bow your head and pray, pray, pray. Angela has such a long difficult road ahead. I am so thankful for wonderful, intelligent doctors, nurses, hospitals who can do so much, and I am so thankful that Angela has such loving, supportive family and friends, but in the really is God. Please pray for her healing, comfort, release from pain, and for her family, that the peace of God will be upon them and carry them through this journey. Click on her link in my left margin under "sites of interest" and let her family know you are praying for them.

He Will Carry Me by Mark Schultz

"I call. You hear me.
I've lost it all and it's more than I can bear.
I feel so empty...You're strong...I'm weary.
I'm holding on but I feel like giving in,
But still you're there with me.
And even though I'm walking through the valley of the shadow,
I will hold tight to the hand of Him whose love will comfort me.
And when all hope is gone and I've been wounded in the battle
He is all the strength I will ever need.
He will carry me."

Be in constant prayer to the One who carries all of us. Love, Carol

Monday, October 20, 2008


Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
—Isaiah 40:28-31

Have any of you been following the story of Isaiah P.? His family chose this passage as his theme as he struggled with many health issues and has come out with wings like eagles. I was reading the Caring Bridge for Angela Bauman-Kroger and right there in a guestbook entry from Brianna...the very same passage. It gave me chills to realize that this family can call upon the very same verses in their time of uncertainty. They who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. We are praying for you. We are praying for your family. The entire community has so much trust and faith and many are on bended knee on your behalf. Stay strong, don't give up, and trust God, who has given you an amazing family, wonderful friends, and the best Doctors. We are all pulling for you!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I save a lot of "stuff". I cut out pieces of paper and collect them because they look like something I could make something out of...sometime....I have tried to organize by stuff by color, by size, in various sizes and types of envelopes. I have tried filing cabinets, shelves, shoe boxes, clear page protectors, baskets, crates, boxes, rubbermaid totes, ziploc bags...all to no avail. I try to share my stuff with my students, but they really mess up my stuff and I cringe when they use some of my particularly good stuff, because about the time I share it, I wish I would have it for something. I can not look through a magazine with out tearing out good "stuff" and adding it to my pile to sort someday. I see treasures in newspapers, books, broken jewelry, old postcards, buttons, ribbons, and paper....that is another story. I LOVE scrapbooking paper, oh, and stickers, and letters, and cool tubes of glue and rubber stamps and distressing ink. I even have articles I have torn out, such as: "The Curse of Clutter" and "Too Much Stuff". Now, where did I put them? They are with my stuff somewhere. Part of my obsession is my creative side, wanting to create all the time. Those of you who know me know that I really CAN make things out of very little, and many of my treasures do end up in some creation or other. I love to give away things I have made with my treasures and let others see the value in keeping so much stuff. The kids at school love to dig through my stuff, but as I said...digging means messing up my system! My mom was a craft lady, but she was so good at sharing. If you needed a button, certain color of thread or yarn or a small dowel or piece of fabric or lace....she was the one to go to. She had all of her stuff sorted and she could go right to the correct box, clearly marked, and she was more than willing to share. In her last days with us, I was given the task of finding her stuff and sharing her stuff.....denim to the lady who makes rugs, fleece to the ladies who make layettes to send overseas, crafts for the ladies at church for their fall bazaar,and gift bags for her closest friends. When she left, I was given the job of sharing all the rest of her stuff. I laid it out and told the kids and grandkids to take what they wanted, I called the girl scouts, the sunday school teachers, and took some of the stuff home. I used some of her stuff to finish up a last earthly treasure for my brothers and sisters that Christmas, and the rest, she had willed to me and my art students. I have shared and shared her stuff. Sorry Mom, but your neatly organized shoeboxes, clearly labeled, are no longer so neat, but many, many students have made new treasures out of your treasures. I smile when they take their treasure home....happy to share their gift with another. I think another part of my collecting treasures is the nostalgia I feel when I see something that may have been from the past. I have a need to keep the past with me. It is creative fate that every once in a while we must say goodbye to parts and pieces of our collection. The cool thing is....when you share, you really do make room for even cooler stuff!!! My mom and sisters had this writing that was passed back and forth and round and round. I found it today in my stuff. Enjoy!

Every fall, I stir my stuff. There is closet stuff, drawer stuff, attic stuff and basement stuff. I separate the good stuff from the bad stuff, then I stuff the bad stuff somewhere that is not too crowded until I have to decide if I will need this bad stuff any longer. When the Lord calls me home, my children will want the good stuff, but the bad stuff, stuffed everywhere there is room, will be stuffed in bags and taken somewhere where other peoples' stuff is, or it may be shared with others who don't have enough stuff of their own. When we have company, they always bring bags of stuff. I have to move my stuff to make room for their stuff. When I go to someone elses house, they have to move their stuff to make room for my stuff, but wouldn't it just be easier to use their stuff and leave my stuff at home? Some of us even build extra closets to have a place to put stuff too good to throw away. I seem to spend a lot of time with stuff...good stuff, cleaning stuff, gardening stuff, dirty stuff and outside stuff. What would like be like if we didn't have this stuff? There is the stuff we use to make us smell better, to make our hair look good, stuff to make us look younger, stuff to make us healthier, stuff to hold us in, and stuff to fill us out. There's stuff to read, stuff to play with, stuff to entertain us and stuff to eat. Sometimes we stuff ourselves with too much food stuff. Good stuff, bad stuff, little stuff, big stuff, useful stuff, junky stuff....everyone has stuff. When we leave our stuff and go to heaven, whatever happens to our stuff won't matter. We will have the good stuff God has prepared for us in heaven.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gia-You are a gift

Gia "helping" remodel in Beloit

Gia and Emily "helping" with the demolition!

Tom, his wife Darese and daughter Gia - one big happy family! We are so happy to have a new sister and new neice! Tom and Darese live in Myrtle Beach, SC, but have recently purchased and are fixing up a house in Beloit, IA and plan to move here.......home to stay.

Saying goodbye at the Falls Park in Sioux Falls

Happy birthday Gia. I am so blessed to have met you and I welcome you to the family. I can't wait until you get to move up by us forever! South Carolina to Beloit! What a trip that will be! Love you! I talked to your Mom and Tom today and told them to give you a big hug from Iowa! See you very soon!
You Are A Gift
Some people give the gift
of peace and tranquility
to every life they touch.
They are always who they really are.
They are blessedly reliable,
dependably good,
predictably pleasant,
loved and treasured
by all who know them.
You are one of those people.
You are a gift
in my life.
Happy Birthday!
By Joanna Fuchs

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poodle Skirts and T-Birds

First time for everything! I painted this huge piece of cardboard to look like Danny and Sandy looking into the rearview mirror.

I painted the yellow '57 Chevrolet today and helped the students paint the other 2 last week. These are for the drive-in movie scene.

I think this may be a first too...painting the head and footboards of a bed for the bedroom scene.

The gigantic 7-up bottle and popcorn box were so much fun to create! I have not seen much of the play practice and have not witnessed the magic created by the directors, but it promises to be entertaining. Right now, there is fluff and bubble gum and roller skates and scarves and leather jackets and dresses and props and props and props!!!!!! It is so much work for the directors, the kids, and the art teacher. I really do love making props and showing my creativity. With teaching all day long, I really don't get to do much creating myself. Do you KNOW what one can create with some cardboard and left over paint??? By the way, anyone with any leftover wall or house paint, bring it on by the school. We go through gallons for productions like this! One of the directors, Trish, says , "Bim-Botta-Boom"! She asks me to create something, and magically, it appears. Many of you know how much I love music, and I really, really LOVE the music in "Grease". In high school, I sang, "I Honestly Love You" at the Pops Concert and Mr. Smith introduced me........."And now....the Olivia Newton John of West Lyon!!!" It was actually the first movie Dave took me to in 1978. YIKES!!!! October 30 and 31....the show will go on! Be there or be square!!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mr. Bowling

I found my college art teacher, Mr. Gary Bowling. Can you believe, I "googled" him!!!! He lives in Missouri, and there was not an email given, but I do have his address, so won't he be surprised to hear from Carol Nichols, Westmar College class of 1980. These paintings are some of his work. I maybe should have asked him if I could do this, but he probably won't find my blog and I trust that none of you are going to sell reproductions!!!!! The building reminds me of old Thoren Hall than I just about lived in while in college. I don't believe it is Thoren, but a painting of a house that brought about a memory. Our drawing and painting classroom and studios were in the basement. The main floor housed the music rooms, music teacher offices, where we had voice lessons. Up the old creeky steps, we went to the practice rooms, and where we had an auditorium for vocal and instrumental events and where the school plays were held. I am not sure what year it was torn down, but the weight of all those old upright pianos in every room had to have been hard on that old building, not to mention dangerous for the students! I can still smell the smells of that old art studio, I can remember the first time I walked in and saw my first nude model!!!! I can remember the sounds up those upstairs practice rooms...a different voice and instrument coming out of each room just feet apart! Mr. Bowling looks like he has really made it as an artist. He taught me so much and he really believed in me. I guess that is why I am where I am today.Thanks, Mr. Bowling! Hello, Candi, now I remember singing with Yvonne dressed like Raggedy Ann, posing in the yard with Pat, Peg and you AND the Eagle, John Compton, Desperado, the painting of the bubbles in Kime lecture hall, Bonebrake, Wind Song and you! Hello Deb! Can anyone remember the fight song? Let me know the words!

Westmar College, now just a memory......