Category: projects

In the fall of 1998, I went off to college and found my tribe. The hills of Shorter College and the sisters of Epsilon Sigma sorority gave me an amazing three-and-a-half years of growth and love and challenge and grace and support and meaning. Ep Sig was a huge part of my identity during college, and when I got a few years out of school and didn’t feel like I could keep wearing all my old college T-shirts, I also couldn’t bear to throw them away.

Me in Sept. 1998 wearing a borrowed EpSig jersey on Pledge Night. Since it wasn’t a national sorority, there was no Bid Day stuff to deal with back then. Any unpledged woman could choose to join one of my school’s three sororities. On Pledge Night, she declared her choice in a ceremony that involved, among other things, racing through a series of dormitory hallways and hollering out of a 2nd story window. She received a jersey or shirt in her org’s colors and waited on all the other new pledges to declare, and then the real fun began.

Two years later on Pledge Night. 2000 was my FAVORITE year. In 1998, as a pledge, that night was busy and crazy and fun and stressful – we learned what felt like a million ceremonies, rules, songs, and cheers. In 1999, as a Prospective Big Sis, it was busy and crazy and fun and stressful – we were observing all the Pledges and figuring out who we were going to adopt as Littles (we had so many pledges in ’99 that I actually ended up with twins!). But in 2000, I was a seasoned pro and as a Grand-Big Sis, I got to calmly support my Littles while they were busily and crazily choosing their own Littles (one single and one set of twins).

A friend and sorority sister posted a photo on Facebook last week of her college shirts, transformed into a T-shirt quilt. A few days later, my Big Sis sent me a package in the mail saying “happy 20th anniversary.” Together, those two events prompted me to get my box of shirts off the shelf and finally do something with everything I’d been saving. I did a little bit of googling around and found that this was my favorite tutorial/how-to/tips post. (I will say that I’m regretting that I didn’t go get a Plexiglas square cut out at Home Depot like she suggests, because some of my squares were off and I have a little measurement issue I’m going to have to fix.)

So this is the shirt fronts and/or backs cut into squares, backed with lightweight interfacing, and stitched into rows. (See how the 4th row is a little shorter than the rest? That’s what I’ve got to work on next.)

I’ll update when I finish it. It will be neat to see & use (albeit in a new way) these shirts all the time again, twenty(ish) years later.

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Take a deep breath. This one is a doozy.

I’ve blogged about a lot of projects over the years. Sewing things and crafts for kids. Painting and quilting. Bible studies and volunteer work. But this one takes the cake. (I’ve blogged about some cake projects, too, come to think of it.)

I’m writing a book. I wrote a book. I’m writing a book.

In November, I signed up to participate in National Novel Writing Month, which urges people to take the pledge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. This was my first year, and I won NaNoWriMo! I ended the month with just a little over 50K.

 

NaNo-2015-Winner-Banner

That’s an awesome feeling. There are over 300,000 participants and I heard somewhere (can’t find my source again at the moment to link, I will if I stumble back over it though!) that around 25,000 people won. That’s a pretty small chunk of people.

But. As great as it felt to validate my novel on the NaNo website and see the big “WINNER!” logo, it was like scaling the first peak of a roller-coaster. You know what comes after the first peak, right? The first drop.

50,000 words does technically meet the definition of a novel, but it’s a really short one. Most modern novels are in the 80-85,000 range. Therefore, even though I won NaNo, I wasn’t really done.

I spent the month of December adding to the work, and a few days before the kids got out on their holiday break, I decided it was done!  (Well. Done enough to let a couple of people read it and give feedback.)

So then I was all, “Yay! I’m done! I wrote a book!”

I spent the two weeks of Christmas break trying NOT to think about my characters and my plotline. But then I got the feedback from my darling beta readers. And I had to admit, they had some great points. It was time to edit.

So. I  was editing away. Doing little re-writes here and there, and daydreaming about my main character again… and a few days ago I realized that the two secondary characters are really pretty close to having excellent story arcs of their own… if I just give them a few more chapters to develop.

Now I’m back in the saddle again. (The writing saddle, not the riding saddle.) My word count was around 67,500 at the end of my first round of edits; my new goal with these new chapters is to end up around 86,000 words.

And even then, it won’t be done. It will just be ready to send to a few more trusted beta readers. And then it will probably need more edits.

Not This Day

But one of these days, Aragorn. Pow! to the moon!

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This summer, I’m the Preschool Director for our church’s Vacation Bible School. We’re using Group Publishing’s “Weird Animals” curriculum, which is so cute! Each day, kids meet a strange animal, who helps remind them of an important point:

  • Even when you’re left out… Jesus loves you!
  • Even though you’re different… Jesus loves you!
  • Even when you don’t understand… Jesus loves you!
  • Even though you do wrong… Jesus loves you!
  • Even when you’re afraid… Jesus loves you!

They’ll also see a video about a real kid who has faced real struggles (leukemia, autism, bullying, poverty, and anxiety) and has learned about God’s love.

At this stage, I’m excited about planning for how to decorate — to transform a set of double doors, a stairwell, a hallway, several classroom doors, and one big room into “Ozzy’s Preschool Park.”  Ozzy, a baby ostrich, is the mascot for our preschoolers. The “Weird Animals” main stage will be a wild, colorful, jungle/rainforest type of set. And the Bible Buddy animals we’ll meet each day hail from a variety of habitats, so I get to create a BUNCH of different things.

So far, I’m planning to have

Rainforest (Axl the axlotl) Habitat — main double doors and little ‘alcove,’ stairwell
Cardboard “grasses” cutouts
Wild, bright flowers
Pool noodle “vines” up the stair handrails

Ostrich Nest — main landing, near elevator doors
baby pool “ostrich nest” with burlap, straw, ‘stray’ feathers, and paper mache eggs
canvas tarp printed to look sandy/dirty with ostrich “tracks”
butcher paper background of African savannah (maybe a “lion king” style tree silhouette and rising/setting sun)

African Savannah (ostrich) — Bible Adventures and Missions classroom
butcher paper background to hide the storage part of room (mountain range, fence, plants)
cardboard cutouts: grasses, cactus, aloe, yucca
safari camp storytelling corner
     –boxes painted like wooden cargo crates
     –grass hut “roof”
    –tiki torch (with nail or hook to display the Bible poster?)
   — lantern, bifocals, old-fashioned radio props
    –wooden chair, draped with netting

Ocean (Fern the sea dragon?) Habitat — ‘spare’ hallway between supply closet and music room
blue drapes to cover walls
blue lights or rope lights on floor?
coral, anemones, sea grass
cardboard “waves” foreground
bubbles (balloons on ceiling?)
floating jellyfish
squid or octopus
oyster or clam

Jungle Habitat — hallway to left and right of stairwell
tree canopy (green tablecloths stretched/swooped across ceiling tiles)
tree trunks (butcher paper twisted and taped from floor to ceiling)
vines
weird flowers (tissue paper? wiffleball? posterboard? lots of ideas on Pinterest for this)
stuffed monkeys
animal tails peeking out from the leaves/treetops (jaguar, tiger, parrot… what else would work?)
giant paper-chain snake

Desert (Iggy the frilled lizard) Habitat — ?maybe we won’t need this?
Red rocks
cactus?

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…a LEGO Quest!

A friend from Northern Kentucky found this great blog, and asked if Jonas would like to be digital pen pals with her daughter. He was psyched about the idea. Each week we’re going to give them one of the quest themes, and then send an email with photos to each other with our creations. This week, Jonas worked on a car.

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My 13 goals for 2013
1. Get three articles published.
       Breastfeeding Success – due to be published Jan 2014
2. Finish Susannah’s baby book; start AND finish Abigail’s baby book.
3. Pay off USAA credit card and MBNA credit card.
4. Make memorials – use blurb to print Mom’s blog; create shadow box of Mom’s rosary, prayer book, and lace cap.
5. Read through Chronological Bible.
6. Read twelve fiction books.
           The Hunger Games
           Catching Fire
           Mockingjay

7. Read twelve nonfiction books.

Looking Backward: My Twenty-five Years as a Homeschooling Mother, by Joyce Swan  Native Guard, by Natasha Trethaway

Loving Each One Best: A Caring and Practical Approach to Raising Siblings, by Nancy Samalin
The Signal and the Noise, by Nate Silver
The Abolition of Man, by C.S. Lewis 

When Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy by Lindsey O’Connor

8. Plan and take first overnight with Chris away from kids (after Abigail’s 2nd birthday in September).
9. Plan and take a girls’ weekend with HMA.   
10. Get living plants for each room of the house and keep them alive!
11. Take Pax for walks (aim for twice per week).

12. Get larger life insurance policy for myself; get Chris insured.

13. Write living wills & regular wills; name guardians for kids.

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scrapbook. And drink delicious autumn brews (Sam Adams Cherry Wheat is delicious, in case you were wondering)!

Chris, two of his friends, and my father-in-law went up to Lexington today to watch the UGA – UK game. Jonas was really disappointed that Chris said he wasn’t old enough to go along, so I put on quite the dog & pony show to keep today fun.

We mixed up a loaf of pumpkin bread, and while it baked I let Jonas and Susannah paint the pumpkins we brought home from Trunnell’s Farm yesterday. Jonas painted his white (to make it a ghost) and then added a face (to make it a zombie) and blue stripes (to make it a mummy); Susannah just swirled all her favorite colors into a delightful mess and called it done.

After we cleaned up the paint, I surrendered to the pleading and took my brood out for Happy Meals. (It did not make me happy, but it did thrill them. And under the circumstances, I was willing to compromise.) We ate at home, and then had a little quiet time… during which, I’d like to note, Abigail did NOT nap. Ugh.

When I got the kids up, we made our first-ever batch of caramel apples. It was Jonas’ idea/request earlier this week, and it seemed like a good day to do it. (And yes…. Susannah did make quite a mess with caramel. Ahem. At least I was expecting it!)

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” came on the Disney Channel ealier today, so we recorded it. The kids watched it while I started cooking dinner. It was Indian Night, in honor of our studies of Ancient India. The movie was captivating; the food, not so much. Oh well – at least I exposed them to new flavors, right?

Baths and bedtime as per usual, and then I sat down with hours ahead of me until Chris and his dad would be home. I pulled out my laptop and my digital scrapbook! I’m still working on my 2011 family album; the last time I worked on it several months ago, I got stuck in the summer months doing layouts when we visited my mom. She was doing better, at that point. Her hair had grown in, and she was so happy that it was dark and curly. Looking at the pictures just – slammed me. So I had to put it down for a while. Tonight, I picked it back up and did nine new layouts. I’m up to Abigail’s birth, finally! 🙂

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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