Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Big Reveal

How fitting that this exciting news comes on my 100th blog post. Such a milestone in so many ways.

Sooo...I have been working 15 minutes a day (or more!) on my business, Spectrum of Amber! I'm so proud to share with you that I have lots of things up and running now.

The first is my website designed by a friend of mine, Adam Costenbader. Check out his nice work on my site here: www.spectrumofamber.com

Also, I set up an Etsy shop so people can order my cards online. Etsy.com is a fantastic resource for a whole TON of hand-made gifts. You can see my shop at www.etsy.com/shop/SpectrumOfAmber

And last -but not least - I've made a Facebook page so you can get updates via Facebook. Search for Spectrum of Amber on Facebook and let's connect!

Check in periodically for updates. I hope to post a photo contest on my website in August. I'd love for you to enter one of your pictures! I also will be doing give-aways on my website and Facebook. So fun!

So, check it out! See what I've been doing with my time in July!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

July's Top Secret Project

Some of you have noticed that I have not yet said what my 15 minutes a day for July will be. Don't worry, I haven't dropped the ball. I'm just working on a top secret project that will be revealed at the end of the month. :) A few of you have gotten an answer out of me, so it's up to you to keep it top secret! For the rest of y'all, keep watching! You'll find out soon!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Children's Literature Stereotypes

Saturday I ventured out to my first Ethiopian cultural event. While there, I attended a children's literature workshop discussing the stereotypes found in cultural and adoption literature. My English Major Brain kicked into high gear, and I listened attentively to the presentation.

Here are some noteworthy ideas from the workshop:
  • Choose books where the main character is a person of color, and the story is just a story. For example, not every book with a person of color needs to be about the person feeling like a person of color. Choose a book that's about something else but the main character just happens to be of color. Example, "Lola at the Library."
  • Stay away from books that discuss "THE African American experience." There is no ONE African American experience; the stories are as many as there are people. And did you know that Africa is bigger than the US, China, and Europe combined? So often we generalize "Africans" but with the diversity of countries and cultures, there isn't just one African experience. See "Africa Is Not A Country."
  • Think about who holds the power in stories, and who is the victim. Are the heroes of the book consistently white? Are they generally boys, or girls? Who has the ideas and who solves the problems? Make sure there is diversity in gender and race.
  • Remember that people within a particular race look different from one another. Oftentimes we think of people who look different from us being of a different race, but I know in my family, my sister and I don't look a ton alike, and we have the same parents! It's good to choose books that show people of the same race looking different from one another. The book, "Jazz Baby," is a good example of this.
  • If the book isn't written in standard English -for example if it contains a dialect like a Southern dialect - how are the people speaking that dialect portrayed? Are they the "smart"ones of the story, or are they seen as second-rate?
  • Is the language used in the book inclusive?
One of the presenters shared that she was at the library with her 3-year-old and they were looking at a book about a princess. There was only one person of color in the book, and that person was the maid. What kind of message does that send to kids? This mom didn't check out that book because of the way it portrayed people of color.

I hope that I will put a lot of thought into the books my children have and how the books are portraying people around the globe. Regardless of what race my children are, I don't want to give them books that reinforce stereotypes or give them subtle messages that people of a particular race or gender have to be a certain way. I want them to dream BIG and not be held back by stereotypes regarding race and gender.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Garden Update

It's time for you to see what's been happening in the garden!
Click here to see the "before" pictures.

Isn't it amazing how things just grow? They know what they're supposed to look like, what they're supposed to do. Each vine stretches out to find its place. I'm in awe.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

There's work to be done

The vegetable garden sits neglected in the back corner of our yard. Weeds have come up and the ground is hard and cracked.

Recently I decided enough was enough. I began pulling up many of the weeds by hand. While it began to look considerably better, I still knew there was more to do. I intended to do some tilling. I wanted to give the garden a chance to soak up the rain it would receive, rather than having it run off the compacted soil.

I threw the corner of my hoe into the soil with each swing and tugged it back toward me. My body shook each time the hoe connected with the ground. The surface was more like concrete than soil. It was tough work. Many times I wanted to quit, but when I stood up and leaned on the hoe to survey my work, I couldn't walk away. The completed parts looked so good and the rest of the garden looked...well...not so good.

This morning I'm sitting at Caribou Coffee. An early morning at church for Zac and a morning of quiet time for me. I brought my Bible, prayer journal, and a devotional book I've been working through since January.

My prayer time has not been great these days. I desire to spend time each morning reading my Bible and praying, but there's always something that comes up that I choose to do instead. The garden of my faith has become hard and cracked on the surface. The soil has not been prepped to receive nourishment and grow. I've been dormant, merely letting faith related things fall on me and not doing any work myself. I need to change. I say that I want to know God more, but my actions suggest otherwise.

So, where to go from here? I don't know, but I want to figure it out. I don't want the day to come where I meet God and say, "Yeah, I always wanted to know you more, but I just didn't get around to it."

Friday, July 2, 2010

Connecting Strangers

The rain clouds passed and the sky became as clear as it was just hours earlier. As Zac and I drove back to our hotel in Door County, we noticed a rainbow marking the rain's end.

We turned down the highway that ran alongside the shoreline and our jaws dropped. The setting sun hung low on the horizon, dipping down into the expanse of lake in front of us. We pulled a U-turn as fast as our car could go and hopped out of the car, hungry to take in the sunset.

Many others were standing on the shoreline as well, all watching the sun sink lower and savoring the last few bits of daylight. Two children played near the dock, and one grabbed the other's hand saying, "Hurry! You're gonna miss it!" They ran together to the water's edge to get a better view.

We watched as the sun visibly moved down, down, and then disappeared below the horizon.

The children began clapping, similar to the end of a great fireworks show. We all joined in, young and old alike.

Bravo, God. Another day and another work of art. You have a way of connecting strangers with your beauty.