Thursday, July 17, 2014

On the project to-do list...

"There is not enough time to do all the nothing we want to do."
-Bill Watterson

I've got a big project in the works (hope to share more towards the end of next week...). But in the couple of weeks before that kicks off full force, I'm hoping to scratch a few projects off of my never-ending to-do list.

A couple of projects that I've dreamed about for years, bought the supplies for, dedicated a good amount of brainpower to, but have yet to accomplish...

And, maybe if I post the list for all to see... maybe, just maybe I'll actually get to them.

  1. Modern house numbers :: I've bought the numbers and always have some stain stored away. Need to pick up the paint sticks and get to it! [Idea and image from 4 Men 1 Lady]
  2. Gallery wall in the foyer :: I've got a stack of frames sitting in the dining room. I just need to get over the fear of putting holes in the wall. I can always figure out what goes in the frames later. [Image from The Design Files Daily]
  3. Project Life photo book :: I kept up with my digital Project Life spreads of my 30th year until April. In the last couple of weeks I've been trying to work my way backward to fill in the gaps. I really want to get this done and printed well before my next birthday. [More Project Life posts]
  4. Date with the Genius Bar :: With plans to start grad school this fall, I want to make sure that my laptop is in full working order before I begin. Hopefully the Mac geniuses can help me update my software, set up a back-up process, and generally optimize my system. [Make an appointment with the Genius Bar]

Friday, July 04, 2014

Kicking off Elise's Kickstarter campaign...

"Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich."
-Sarah Bernhardt

Although I've been intrigued by the idea of Kickstarter, I've never actually supported a campaign until this week. I'm thrilled to put my money and my support behind a close friend of mine, Elise Erikson Barrett, who is raising money for her "first full-length album rich in folk and classical influences."

In the two short years that I have known her, Elise has made a great impact on my life. She volunteered to help me lead VBS, and she serves as my worship leader and pastor's wife (although she herself is a pastor, too). But more importantly, she has been a confidante, a teacher, and a close friend who always asks "how is your heart?" and then really listens to the answer.

I know she's got something good to share with the world. I'm so thrilled to have a chance to help her dream come true.

Don't you want to be a part of this project? She's halfway to her goal, and the month has just begun!! Donate here. (If you're unfamiliar with Kickstarter, the project will only funded... you will only pay... if she reaches her goal by the deadline.)


**After exploring the Kickstarter site, the designer/creative in me sees how supporting these projects could be a little addicting.

**Interesting article about why there are so many wallet concepts being explored on Kickstarter.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Workshop of Wonders VBS ... odds and ends

"All my ordinary turns extraordinary when I live my life for you. 
I'll imagine with God. I can build with God.
Watch me grow with God every day.
As I work with God, as I walk with God,
Live for God, that's what I'll do."
-"That's What I'll Do" song lyrics by Matt Huesman

In addition to the decorations and the activities, there are a few other odds and ends that made our VBS spectacular this year.

Missions Moment
In years past we have collected money each night for a mission organization during our opening gathering, but this year we wanted to spend more time exploring the mission of the organization and why we were supporting it.

Habitat for Humanity was recommended in the Workshop of Wonders curriculum. We agreed that it aligned well with the "Work with God"/"Build with God" themes of the week and thought that even the younger kids would be able to understand the idea of building houses for people who don't have one.

Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Money bucket
The money bucket ... love the sound of change hitting a metal bucket!!
Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Habitat for Humanity missions progress
Habitat for Humanity mission project progress tracker
The kids worked together to collect spare change and drop it in the bucket. The collection each night "bought" us another piece of a cardboard house poster. The kids loved guessing what piece they would earn the next day. And, we raised over $140!

In addition to the fundraising campaign, each group participated in a Missions Moment each night while they ate their snack. They learned more about the work that Habitat for Humanity does, worked together to make a mural, decorated thank you cards for local heroes, and made prayer bookmarks.

Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Community mural
The kids worked together to make a community mural during their Missions Moment on Day 2

Parent Emails
The Workshop of Wonders curriculum suggests that you send home handouts each night that summarize each session. We've copied these in the past, but found that most of them never made it home and by the end of the week, were not even handed out.

Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Summary of night sent to parents by email
Day 1 email to parents
It was important to me to emphasize the connection between VBS and home, letting parents continue the conversations that we began, and then it dawned on me... why not use the church's Constant Contact newsletter service to send emails home each night?!?

While I used some of the text from the Cokesbury handouts, I also added a summary of the crafts, snacks, and activities, as well as announcements about the end-of-week celebration and a report of how much money we raised for Habitat for Humanity.

Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Summary of night sent to parents by email
Day 3 email to parents
I received several compliments on this added communication tool, even from one of our visiting families. (Although the only drawbackswas that I didn't have email addresses for some of the kids who attended as someone's friend and/or weren't dropped off by their own parent.)

Trading Cards
One of the neat things that the curriculum offered this year was Scripture Treasure Trading Cards that connect to a free Workshop of Wonders app. Similar to the VBS passports we used last year, I thought this would be a great way to further reinforce the VBS lessons at home.

I debated back and forth about the best way to distribute and keep up with the trading cards throughout the week, knowing full well that most would get lost in the car on the way home. I finally landed on an almost perfect solution... trading card pockets. The kids could add a card each night and take home the full page of cards at the end of the week.

Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Scripture Treasure Trading Card collection
Each child went home at the end of the week with a collection of Scripture Treasure Trading cards
Only six cards were provided in the sets from Cokesbury, so I used the graphics from the Decorating CD to create three more cards to fill the nine pockets: one with church information, one for the child's name, and one with information of how to connect to the app.

Volunteer Thank Yous
To thank our many volunteers (some nights we had as many volunteers as kids!) I was inspired by our theme for the week, "ordinary things become extraordinary with God." I bought two bulk packs of Extra gum and attached a card that said "Thanks for helping make VBS 2014 EXTRA-ordinary!"

Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Thank you gift for VBS volunteers ... Extra gum and a note that says "Thanks for making VBS EXTRA-ordinary!"
EXTRA-ordinary thank you gift for volunteers
Hopefully they felt some love and gratitude for their hard work this week!

Another great VBS goes down in history! Now it's time for vacation!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Workshop of Wonders VBS ... the activities

"Gotta wonder why, think and try, wonder at all of that, imagine at the Workshop of Wonders."
-Workshop of Wonders theme song

In my last post, I showed how we decorated for our Workshop of Wonders VBS this summer.

However, I knew that the highlight of the week was going to be the fun and creative activities. I can't take much credit for these ideas myself... I had awesome volunteers planning and leading these stations, but I am so thankful that I was able to gather such a creative team to work together!

This year we scheduled our VBS for four nights (Sunday through Wednesday) with a special End-of-VBS celebration on Thursday night. The Cokesbury Workshop of Wonders curriculum is designed for five nights, so we used some of the Session 1 materials for Children's Church on Sunday morning, and then started full force with Session 2 at VBS on Sunday night.

Here was our plan:

Day 1 – Sunday
Theme: Build with God!
Story: Rebuilding the Lord's House
Craft: Clay Cross Ornaments (similar to this) & Recycle-Bots (robots made from recyclables, like this)
Snack: Rice Krispy Paint Brushes

Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS Craft :: Recycled Robots
Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS Snack :: Rice Krispy Paint Brushes

Day 2 – Monday
Theme: Grow with God!
Story: Parable of the Mustard Seed
Craft: Woven CD Flowers (like this)
Snack: Cupcakes with Candy Flowers

Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Woven CD FlowersDancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS Craft :: Woven CD Flowers
Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS Snack :: Cupcake Flowers

Day 3 – Tuesday
Theme: Work with God!
Story: Feeding the 5,000
Craft: String Art Crosses (like these) and Nuts and Bolts Cross (washers and nuts painted like this)
Snack: "Nuts and Bolts" Snack Mix, similar to this
Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS Craft :: Nuts and Bolts Cross

Day 4 – Wednesday
Theme: Walk with God!
Story: Walking to Emmaus
Craft: Walk with God Canvas Art (based off of this)
Snack: Foot-shaped cookies

Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS Craft :: Walk with God Canvases
Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS Snack :: Foot-shaped cookies

Stay tuned because I have one more 2014 VBS recap on our Missions Moment, trading cards, and more!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Workshop of Wonders VBS ... the decor

"You are the God who works wonders."
-Psalm 77:14a

Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Puppet stage with pegboard
Puppet stage and centerpiece of the Workshop of Wonders. Frame made from PVC. Pegboard held on by zip-ties. Tools and graphics from the Publicity CD.

Back in February I found myself in charge of leading Vacation Bible School at my church. (I had planned to be one of the main leaders, but didn't plan to be the ONLY leader.) Luckily some of my friends volunteered to help me out, to let me bounce ideas off of them, and to join me for a few planning meetings over lunch or wine.

Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Under construction altar
Under construction altar
Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Habitat for Humanity missions progress
Habitat for Humanity mission project progress ... kids will bring spare change to "build a house" together

For the last few months I've had all of the behind-the-scenes logistics, volunteer recruitment, and advertising occupying a large percentage of the real estate in my mind. And, it might have all been worth it to see it all come together last night!

Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Paper plate gears in hallway
Plastic tablecloths and paper plate gears hang in the Main Hallway
Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Paper plate gears in hallway

My favorite part of the VBS planning is decorating... transforming the hallways and classrooms with basically paper and balloons. We're using the Workshop of Wonders VBS curriculum from Cokesbury, and I've been collecting inspiration images to my VBS 214 Workshop of Wonders Pinterest Board, but knew that I would put my own spin on it.

Lots of gears, robots, construction, and art supplies... with a special focus on our mission project for the week: Habitat for Humanity.

Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Foamboard & plastic tablecloth paintbrush
Foamboard & plastic tablecloth paintbrush hung on dropcloth-draped bleachers in the Gym
Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Balloon and paper plate gear wall
Wall in the Preschool Room covered in balloons and paper plate gears

Armed with plastic tablecloths, streamers, balloons, and cut-outs of the Workshop of Wonders clip art, I worked up at the church each evening last week. And, then came each day to find the tape melted and the decorations on the floor :(

Luckily with a couple of "aha" moments and clever uses of binder clips, straight pins, duct tape, and fishing line, things seem to be holding tight, and hopefully will stay that way through the end of the week.

Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Plastic tablecloth "paint" spilling from buckets
Plastic tablecloth "paint" spilling from buckets and tissue paper pom poms in the Craft Room

I am excited to report that the first night (last night) went off without a big hitch!! We only had one crying child and one schedule confusion, but both were handled quickly. We have only lost a handful of balloons as well. Hopefully the good luck will continue through the rest of the week!

Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Habitat for Humanity Missions area
Habitat for Humanity wall of photos and facts in the Missions/Snack area

We've got a whole week of extraordinary adventures planned at VBS. I can't wait to show you the all of the fun crafts, snacks, and other odds and ends. And, most importantly, I can't wait for it all to be over on Thursday evening... I'm ready to hang up my VBS hat for a while.

Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Bible story area
Bible Story area
Dancing Commas :: Workshop of Wonders VBS :: Tissue paper pom poms and decorative mesh hung from ceiling
Tissue paper pom poms and decorative mesh hung from the ceiling in the Music Room

Want a trip down memory lane? Click here to see photos of the decorations from last year's VBS!

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