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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Time to Step Back and Evaluate

As I look at the 2015 calendar, I see July slipping by and August creeping in. It’s time for me to take a look back on my “Agenda” I set for 2015.

#1. Something I want to go for to help my career... DONE!

I am still so humbled and honored to be the MIPA Missouri Journalism Teacher of the Year 2015. It feels odd. I don't know where to put the plaque for that honor or the Taft Award I also received. For now they are safely wrapped on a shelf. 

...the #2 thing I want to go for to help my career...NOT DONE!

I am honestly contemplating if I want to attempt this again, but I have had several people say I need to. Time will tell if I go for it. I’ll need to decide soon since a deadline is slowly approaching. And, as you know, that word slowly really means QUICKLY. 

#3. Camp more.  WORK IN PROGRESS!

My daughter and I have camped 9 nights so far in 2015. 3 in Illinois, 2 in Missouri, and 4 in Wisconsin. I am pretty proud of us for making this happen. 
This also led me to take a serious look at the amount of camping gear I have. Do I really need 7 tents? No. I ordered a new one to try out this fall for us since Karlene is growing, but I also have sold or given away quite a few. I would like to end up with 2 tents. One for just myself, and one for when it is K and I on the road.

I won't even go into how many airmatresses and airpumps I have realized I have. Is CampGear Hoarding a possible problem? Hmmm?

#4. Hike more. PITIFUL. Needs serious work. I am a bum these days.
If it means anything, I did go on little walks while in Yellowstone National Park at the start of the month. For the one that led to the stream above, I sang a "Please Don't Scare the Bear" song I made up loudly as I strolled. The bear signs all over kinda had me on edge. I am not bear food. I am sure that I certainly would leave a bad taste in their mouths!

#5. Help my daughter (the K of MK Designs) take more ownership of her school work and education, yet continue to help her grow her love of the Lord and others, hopefully continue to grow more empathy, and more compassion... WORK IN PROGRESS! 

Daily devotionals, planning for Operation Christmas Child, seeing God's Creation, and more things...are hopefully helping her become an independent person who has empathy and compassion. She certainly has a sense of humor, as seen in this image from Illinois in mid-July. 
#6. Get my financial house and my actual house in better working order. DECK and whatnot! (which also includes getting my lower level rented again) COMING ALONG NICELY WHEN I VIEW THE BIG PICTURE!

New renter on board for August, deck redone minus staining (it’s been too rainy), some money back in savings (not nearly enough, but some to help replenish the deck expense), and finally got two new ceiling fans installed on our main level. 

Next step this fall: light updates/replacements on the lower level. I love these lights. Lowes is a dangerous place for the pocketbook and bank accounts! 
#7. Continue to grow my relationship with Jesus Christ and try to practice more of His teachings in how I love others. CONSTANT WORK IN PROGRESS. 
However, the end of July started a big “test” for me. I decided WWJD isn’t just a motto for a t-shirt, but that if I see one of my fellow humans is suffering, alone, in need – I have to try to do something to help. As one of my favorite sayings goes: “I am one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something." 
I have to add, that the cell phone shot above is a moment I felt very close to God in early July. The first time I have ever seen the Grand Teton range in my life in person... and that is what He had to show me. God is good. 

#8. Continue to spend more time with my Grandma in 2015. BETTER THAN 2014, but I STILL HAVE ROOM TO GROW! 

#9. Try to continue to grow clients for my MK Designs Photography / Fine Art and Portrait work. FRUSTRATING PROCESS, BUT STILL WORKING AT IT.
I have had the honor of getting into some art shows this summer in Soulard and St. Charles. I also was able to sell some work to a client who has remodeled her home with a lovely addition. 

Also, I had a recent image used by the National Forest Foundation. How cool is it that my daughter's hand is famous!? We found that little guy in the Shawnee National forest while camping this June. See, it pays to camp! (Well, maybe not financially - but you know what I mean!) 

#10. Be the best mom, teacher, daughter, friend, etc. I can possibly be. I HAVE MY DAYS. 

I hate it when I am crabby, or "down" - so I do try to stay "up" as much as possible. Especially for this face:
#11. GET ME A BEDROOM SET! BAM! Had a kicking bedroom set in 2009, that along with the bed "left the premises" that year. While I did replace the bed in 2010, I never got a bedroom set. I have one in my garage now courtesy of my aunt Shirley. HEADBOARD DONE & INSTALLED – THE REST, I HAVE ON HOLD SINCE IT’S SO HOT OUT NOW IN THE GARAGE. 

On that note, it is super hot today and we haven't had a proper creek day all summer. I got sammiches to make, coolers to pack, etc. 

If you know me or my work at all, you know I live for a good creek day. Maybe we'll be able to fit in two creeks today? Hmmm? :-)

Until next time, 
M of MK Designs
July 2015. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

This One is for The Birds, Walter, and Marlin...

I remember the "good old days" where we were lucky to have two (sometimes three or four depending on the weather!) TV channels for entertainment. 

In some ways, I think that made my childhood more blessed than today's children. I had two choices. 
#1. Watch what was on and learn to like it.
#2. Go outside and/or play in my room. 

One show that always caught my attention was Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom with Marlin Perkins. That show was my window to the world before there was such a thing as the world wide web. The minute that opening came on, my attention was captured. 
The cool thing (I thought!) was Marlin was a Missouri boy. He was from my home state. Watching him, I knew anything was possible. I could go anywhere and be anyone I wanted to be. 
Marlin Perkins
Marlin instilled a love for animals, a desire to travel, and the belief all things were possible within me. I was not alone. He impacted many people, including Walter Crawford. 
Walter Crawford
Walter's specialty was birds, and thanks to Walter's love of birds with some serious support from Marlin, the World Bird Sanctuary took shape. This gem is close enough to where I live that they often do presentations for children of all ages. 
World Bird Sanctuary presentation at Robertsville State Park- June 2014.
In June, Robertsville State Park was hosting a Birds of Prey presentation by the World Bird Sanctuary and I was excited about attending. My friend Tyann and her son met my daughter and I. We were in for a real treat!

We learned so much about the birds and what the World Bird Sanctuary does, that I really want to go visit it this fall. It was an amazing presentation. What they do to assist birds and educate the public is astounding. They for sure are an organization that restores my faith in humanity. 

On a sad note, I was shocked that about one month after Tyann, myself, and the kids enjoyed the presentation I heard Walter Crawford died from complications after surgery. 

Walter, thanks to support and assistance from Marlin, built a legacy that will carry on in his name. The World Bird Sanctuary is a true testiment to the values that I personally learned from watching Marlin Perkins as a child...the same values that Walter Crawford encorporated into his life's work at the World Bird Sanctuary.
Thank you, Walter and Marlin, for all you have done. 

Learn more about World Bird Sanctuary here:
Until next time,
~ M of MK Designs
July 2015

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Last Child in the Woods? I hope not.

My childhood was filled with hours (especially during the summer months) of time outdoors. "Unstructured play" is what it is called now. 
After we moved to South Central Missouri, I'd explore the abandoned railroad tracks (and RR tunnel) in Eugene, venture through the small creeks, and sometimes dare to leave "town" to walk up a gravel hill to see what was on the other side. 
I am fully aware that the "world" we live in has changed. Yet, I don't want my daughter to have a childhood that is only indoors and only on a schedule. 
Summer is our chance to get out and explore together. In June we hit the Shawnee National Forest and Giant City State Park, as well as other cool places in Southern Illinois. 

It was fitting that our devotional reading during the time of our 3 day/2 night camping and exploring adventure encouraged us to get outside. 

I firmly believe in what is stated here: “Time in nature is not leisure time; it's an essential investment in our children's health (and also, by the way, in our own).”  ― Richard LouvLast Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
If you haven't read "Last Child in the Woods" - do so. It totally helps us "rethink" the current state of society and how we are raising children. I have noticed that just a few hours out in nature often calms me (as well as my kiddo) from the "stresses" of the hustle and bustle of "life" in 2015. 
Where else can you let hours float by as you seek the perfect four leaf clover? I am hopeful there is NOT an app for that, yet. 

Even though we are not a totally "electronic-free" family, when I see other families, I feel like we are well BELOW average when it come to screen time... which is sad because I fear we spend way too much time looking at glowing devices instead of the glowing moon. 
Which, by the way, sleeping under a glowing moon while in a tent, is pretty sweet. I hightly recommend it! That's what we got to do for 2 nights at Little Grassy Lake.
Get yourself and your child(ren) out in the woods, be it state parks or national lands. If you're close enough to Southern Illinois, try out various places in the Shawnee National Forest. It' a gem! 

The views in the Shawnee, as well as the tricky ways to get around at times, are inspiring. Be open to unplugging to enjoy it, too! Sure, click a few pics, but don't be like some of the kids I saw at the top of Garden of the Gods staring at their phones. (Not to take photos of the land before them, I'd like to add!)

Giant City State Park is amazing, too. The geologic formations are pretty stellar. It's just south of Carbondale, IL and very easy to get to. 

While you're at it, don't be afraid to take back roads. You may find some amazing fruit stand with ice cream that you had no idea existed! 
All in all, I think the biggest thing I want to stress (beyond loving our parks and lands, and beyond photography) is a BIG question: Why are we raising our children in such a radically different manner than we were raised? 


Since when did any outdoor time require a schedule or structure? 

Since when do parents say, "Stay inside and stare at this glowing screen until your neck hurts" --- Ok, maybe we don't say that with our words, but we do by our actions. 

When I read statistics that show that our nation's children are depressed, anxious, and totally out of tune with the world they are in...and much of that is due to a lack of unstructured time to explore the's heartbreaking to me. 
Unplug yourself and the kids. Kick them off the couch straight into the natural world. Make some great memories. Go with them and take time to smell the flowers, too. It's a win-win for all parties involved. 

For more information:

Health Benefits of Children in Nature - National Wildlife Federation:

Shawnee National Forest:

Giant City State Park:

Flamm Orchards:

For information on how to contact MK Designs to order any prints and/or book a photo session:

Summer 2015