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This Is It!

Published April 28, 2013 by Malia

Deep breaths.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

It’s going to be okay.  Honest.

12 hours from now, it will all be over.  This performance that we’ve been working towards since January will be presented in the morning. Normally, I’m a little nervous, but this time I’m having a full on Tangled moment.

That’s right, hand me a frying pan and I’d totally be Rapunzel right now.

Okay, so the reason for all the nerves is this.  This is the first performance that I’ve been in the director’s chair for.  I’ve directed songs before, but I’ve never been in charge of a full performance.  What we will be presenting in the morning is actually a concept I came up with about 15 years ago.  Up until now, there’s just not been a good time to do it.  Starting in January, our church started working through The Story.  Basically, this book is the Reader’s Digest version of the Bible.  By the end of the year, we will have done a condensed walk through the Bible.  Well, the performance we’re doing, presents different Bible stories (starting in Genesis and ending in Revelation) with a twist.  It fits perfectly with The Story.

I’ve learned so much in putting this performance together.  It’s been kind of overwhelming.  I’ve learned tons about being a leader vs a dictator.  I’ve also learned quite a bit about the young men and women who make up our team.  I’ve found that they’re hard working, fantastic young adults!  I’m so incredibly proud of them.  This is by far the biggest, most intense performance we’ve ever done, and they’ve stepped up to the challenge.

I know that there will probably be moments where a sign gets missed or lip sync is off, but I honestly believe it’s going to be a good, God-honoring performance.  At the end of the day, it’s not about me (which is a tough lesson for someone who’s as selfish as I am), or even about the team.  It’s about presenting the message of the Bible.

So, I’m going to try to get some sleep, and pray that this will be a fun and fantastic performance!

Also, I just have to share what our stage looks like…

This is the view from the front.  There’s actually a whole other side wing that juts out that I couldn’t get in the straight on picture.  Hence the side view.

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To give you a idea of how tall this thing is, the lowest point is about 4 feet tall.  We have to stand on super tall ladders to reach the top when putting this together.

Okay, now I’m going to try to get sleep…

 

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Embracing My Inner Weirdness

Published April 27, 2013 by Malia

I had an interesting moment this week.  I was standing at work, looking at a cup with an amputated toe in it.

That’s right.

A toe.

From a human.

Now, being a vet tech, I’ve been present for plenty of surgeries.  Working in a medical lab I see blood, and other things (I’ll call them sunshine, butterflies, and daises, to try to keep you all from completely losing your lunch).  However, this was the first time I had ever seen an actual body part that was separate from the body.

Standing there, looking at the toe, I found myself feeling overwhelmed with love for my job.  Seriously.  By far, that toe sighting was the coolest things that happened this week at work.

Now, “normal” people would not find this to be cool.  They wouldn’t think that it was a highlight of their week.  In fact, they would look at me and think, “What a freaky weirdo.”  And, you know what?  They’re probably right.

I’ve reached this point, though, where I’ve pretty much stopped caring what people think about me.  It’s too time consuming.  Besides, I like that I’m a weirdo.

As if loving my gross job, and being obsessed with geeky things doesn’t make me weird enough, I’m turning into the Crazy Puppet Lady.  

My mom started working with puppets before I was born, so I can honestly say I was born into this life.  When I was six, she and dad went to Sunday School Convention in Peoria, and they came home with my first puppet.  She was the ugliest little girl I had ever seen, and I loved her dearly.  I named her Jill, and she was the first puppet I used the first time I stepped behind the stage curtain to perform.  From there on, I spent my entire childhood and teen years puppeteering.  Sometimes we had big teams, and sometimes our teams were just made up of mom, dad, and I.

When I graduated from high school, I thought my days of working with puppets had come to an end.  It was one of those things that had been fun for the time that I had done it, but I just put it down as a part of my childhood.  For a while, it was the end of it.  I had a break for a few years.

Then, in early 2009 our church seriously approached our family about starting up a team.  So, we did, and even though the changes a bit every few months, it’s consistently a fantastic group.

I’ve noticed a change in me, since we started team again back in ’09.  When I left home back in 2003 and went to school, I really didn’t miss team or miss being a puppeteer.  When I moved away in 2011, I missed team and puppeteering almost more than anything else.  It really had become an intricate part of me, and not being able to do it every week was a misery.

When I moved back home last December, I had not job and no clue about what was next for me in life, but I had team and I had my puppets and somehow I knew it was going to be okay.  In fact, the first weekend I was home, my parents helped me make the videos I posted at Christmas:

Now, the girl in the video is Penny, and she’s my girl.  She came into my life back in 2009, and I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with her, and what was worse was that I had no clue how to give her a voice.  It may sound silly, but there’s a lot more to giving a voice.   You have to figure out the personality and create this whole other person.  So, it was exciting  when Penny started finding her voice.  (Side note: Yes, I realize that Penny is a puppet, and this is not a delusional thing.  However, she’s become a part of me.  Hence, I refer to her as a separate individual.  It’s hard to explain without sounding slightly insane, which I’m pretty sure I’m not.)  Last December was the first time that voice really started to make an appearance.  Last weekend, though, that voice got put to the test.

Last weekend was Creative Ministry Festival.  We go every year and take our team members.  Since Creative Ministry Festival is all about Creative Ministry (Puppetry, Clowning, Illusion, Dowel Rod, etc…  for more info check out http://www.creativemin.com), I took Penny with me.  Last year was the first year I took her, and I had this adorable 1950’s poodle skirt outfit on her.  Well, a week before this year’s  festival, I realized that I couldn’t take her wearing the same outfit this year.  That’s when my Pinterest addiction kicked in (you may remember me referring to this addiction a few weeks ago in reference to a cake tragedy).  I remembered seeing a tutorial on Pinterest about taking a superhero emblem t-shirt and making a matching tutu for it.  The instructions for the tutu didn’t seem to difficult, so mom and I went on a last minute hunt for t-shirts and correctly colored tulle.  We found a Superman t-shirt and a Batman t-shirt.  Then, we found sparkly tulle in red, yellow, and black, and regular tulle in blue.

Thanks to my dad, I didn’t have to spend days cutting out 3 inch strips of tulle.  He has this really cool circular knife and quilting mat that I used to cut the tulle.  What should have taken me days took approximately an hour.

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As you can see, I had a lovely pile of red and blue, and black and yellow.  I then had to turn these piles into tutu skirts.  Since I’m not the world’s greatest at finishing craft projects, this was it’s own challenge.  However, by the day of the festival, I had created two unique tutus:

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Friday night, I took Penny in her Superman outfit:

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And on Saturday, it was time for Batman:

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The cool thing was, because she had these unique outfits, people were more inclined to come talk to me (which is good because I’m not exactly good at socializing with strangers).  Not only did people talk to me, but Penny was able to talk to them.  She had finally found her voice, and started getting pretty comfortable with it.

Then came Sunday.

Since this Sunday (April 28th) is our team’s spring performance, I asked the pastors if Penny could do the announcement.  I was given permission, and immediately freaked out.  It was one thing to talk to strangers, it was something completely different to interact with people I know.  What would they think?  Would I just make an idiot out of myself?

Well, when church started, Penny and I went into the sanctuary (and yes, she was still in her Batman outfit).  Even though I pretended I couldn’t tell, I could sense all the people staring.  It was the first time  that any of our puppet had been seen outside of the stage.  Now, the number one rule about manipulating a puppet in public is that the puppet has to stay alive.  This meant that I couldn’t put my arm down to my side, and Penny had to keep reacting like an actual person would.  We got through the first song without problem, and then came the meet and greet time (basically 3 minutes where people can wander around and say a quick hello to each other).  This is when something completely unexpected took place.

Penny and I were standing with mom, and I saw this little girl and her mom come walking over.  The little girl wanted to meet Penny, and so Penny and she talked.  Then, after she left, her dad brought her older sister over (these girls were about 5 and 7), and Penny talked with her.  Then, after she left, two little boys drug their Grandmas over.  One little boy reached out and started shaking Penny’s hand (thankfully, I had the quick reaction to grab the arm rod so Penny could actually shake hands with him).  What shocked me was watching these kids interact with Penny.

I can’t talk to kids.  I grew up and only child, and I had to exist in an adult’s world from birth.  Yes, I had a childhood, but I don’t think my brain was ever truly a kid.  Sure I liked to play and hang with friends, but I didn’t think like a kid.  This has made interacting with children a huge challenge for me.  I don’t want to talk down to them, but I never know what to say.  However, with Penny, I could talk to kids, and they talked to her.  It was my Grinch moment.  It was the moment my heart grew two sizes.  Each kid made me cry (which is next to impossible.  I almost never cry, unless I’m watching some manipulative movie or commercial).  It was the moment that I knew that I really have become the crazy puppet lady, and I’m completely okay with it.

Oh yeah, the announcement went well.  I think it’s the only time the statement, “You can’t say no to someone in a Batman t-shirt and tutu.” has ever been uttered in a church.

It Was A Beautiful Cake

Published April 7, 2013 by Malia

Occasionally, on here, I mention my slight liking (scratch, and replace with super huge addiction) of Pinterest.  I usually get sucked in on the “Geek” section, but occasionally I do wander over and check out the “Food” section.  This is a dangerous section for me, because while I’m pretty craft challenged, when it comes to food I’ve got a little bit of talent.  Not only can I cook, but I can even make it look somewhat presentable.  Now, last year, I discovered something on Pinterest called a tie-dye cake.  It looked super difficult to make, but after reading the instructions I decided it was worth a try.  Here was the result of the first experiment (I ended up with enough batter to make 2 cakes).  I called this the Jackson Pollock Cake:

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This was the second one:

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Believe me, those cakes were as good as they look.

So, anyway, last fall I was on Pinterest, and I stumbled across this:

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This beauty is a Whopper cake!  The entire outside is covered in malted milk balls.  Now, I’m not a big Whopper fan, but my dad is.  I knew immediately that this was the perfect cake for his birthday.  After a few months of pondering this cake, I knew that I had to at least try to make it.  So, since dad’s birthday was today, I set about making it this weekend.  It started out well.

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I had to layers like the one above.  I also had the largest bag of malted milk balls I’ve ever beheld.  I know the quality’s not good, but trust me, that’s about 6 lbs of x-large Whoppers:

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I got up super early this morning (6 a.m., which for me is crazy early.  I told my dad that he knows that I love him if I’m willing to get up then just to decorate a cake).  Here’s what the cake looked like when I finished:

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Sure, the Whoppers weren’t lined up completely perfect, but for an amateur cake that I was decorating from memory of a picture I’d seen a while ago, I was pretty happy (also, there’s a raspberry and chocolate filling that while it sounds like a weird combination, wasn’t half bad).

Okay, so you’ve now seen the pretty, perfect cake.

What happened next probably would’ve been avoided if I had ever purchased a cake safe type carrier.  However, I make a “fancy” cake about once every year, so it’s not something I’ve ever thought about getting.

We had decided that since neither mom, nor I should have all that sugar readily available to us (she’s type 1 and I’m type 2 + I’m on a serious weight loss plan), it would be better to take in for the kids on our puppet team to share in.  Now, we tried to figure out a good way to transport the cake, but we had nothing it would fit in.  Eventually, mom agreed to hold it while I drove.

We were about a third of the way to church when the first Whopper popped off the cake.  Then all craziness broke loose.  Whoppers started popping off left and right.  They made a strange sound as the suction of the icing let loose.  Then, the cake started to shift.  The top layer was going one direction while the bottom layer stayed put.  Most people would probably have gotten angry and started yelling at each other, but that’s never really been my family’s thing.  No, this morning marks the first time that I had to pull over to the side of the interstate because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t drive.  It wasn’t just me, either.  Mom was cracking up as well.  (Dad, being mostly deaf wasn’t quite aware of what the situation was.)  Finally, we got control of our laughter, found a piece of cardboard to try to keep the cake separated from mom’s shirt (the pants were a goner at that point), and I finished the drive.  When we got to the church, here’s what we found (quick, remember the beautiful cake picture from above.  Scroll up if needs be, cause this ain’t pretty…):

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And here’s a picture of my mom’s arm:

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You can kind of see just how far the cake was sliding off at that point.

Thankfully, more of the cake survived than we thought had.  People got to share in the remnants, and dad’s got a couple boxes of cake casserole in the fridge.

The important thing to me, about this situation is the fact that no one ever raised their voice, no one ever cast blame (although, let’s face it, I really need to invest in a cake carrying container), and even tonight we are still giggling over the disaster.  I don’t know if anyone else’s family would have been so cool about what happened.  A lot of people would’ve turned on each other and used terms starting with “stupid,” and upped the ante from there.

So, Happy Birthday, Dad.  Next year I’ll try to keep the cake in one piece until after you’ve had your first piece!

Mugshot Monday~Week 3

Published April 1, 2013 by Malia

I’m so tired of calling it “Weight Loss Monday.”  So, instead, from here on out, it’s Mugshot Monday!  Camp NaNo, has officially started, so tonight’s entry is going to be short, so I can get back to my story.

This week, there wasn’t great victory on the scale.  However, my clothes are fitting way better, and I’m now up to walking four miles a day!  I think this next week will definitely show some loss on the scale.  My main victory was that I didn’t gain.

 

This was me on January 7th, 2013.

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This is April 1st, 2013.  I may just be seeing things, but I think my face looks like it’s got a little more shape.

 

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So, I’m 6.7 lbs away from Skyfall.  Here’s hoping that changes after this week!