A Little About Me
I often wondered what I would do when I reached the "empty nest" chapter of my life. I can do anything....Right?
I was blessed with two, amazing children that continue to inspire me each and every day; but I was also blessed with a "small town" community that allows me to automatically respond to "Mom", if and when any of my children's friends randomly yell it out, want to rummage through the cupboards, need a cheering section and so on. In our community this can happen numerous times, on any given day, and I love it!
I've been both Mom and Dad for the past 13 years and even with all the ups and downs, I wouldn't trade it for anything! Our small town medical clinic, where I held a position for 11 years, was bought out by a large corporation, hoping to one day expand, putting me in the unemployment line for the first time in my life, yet giving me a chance to reflect a little. The medical field came easy to me and I truly enjoyed it, but being on the verge of my own New Chapter/Journey, I find myself yearning to discover a cost-effective way to incorporate functional, personalized, hand-made items that everyone can use....and/or take with them where ever they go!
I didn't have a lot of time to reflect, as the, oh-so-dreaded, bills were piling up. Without reliable transportation, (no heat or air tends to make Iowa's brutal weather-swings impossible to deal with) my job hunting was limited to a radius where I could continuously use my de-icer washer fluid to travel back and forth safely (which wasn't very far). I took a position within the school district (I could walk if need be), working one on one with a special needs child. It proved to be a devastating hit to the only household income, mine. We have always lived paycheck to paycheck, no family vacations here (we had Faux Drive-In Movie Nights and camped on the LR floor...which is Perfect!), and I'm very thankful that rabbit-ears allow us to get 2 local channels or Football Season would have been more of a disaster, at least we were able to watch the NFL melt down in "real time". :)
I was actually making more money while on unemployment, but that wasn't an option I was comfortable with. My school position keeps me involved in the community, which I refuse to give up and there is something about seeing the world through a 3rd, 4th or 5th grader, that makes you realize what we (adults, caught up in day to day life) tend to take for granted so easily. It's also turned out to be an even bigger Blessing. Two weeks after I started work, my daughter was diagnosed with high functioning Asperger's. I am now helping a child with Autism; while he in turn, helps me. Who says things don't happen for a reason? The school hours also ensured that I would be able to attend my son's athletic activities, something I wasn't always able to do. You simply can not put a price on the most important things in life! Memories...
I reside in a small, midwest town in Iowa. A community where everyone knows everyone, friends are considered family and parents watch out for one anothers children (Our town should be listed next to the phrase, "It'll beat ya home"). A place where a friend becomes a mentor to a teen that needs to vent or seek advise from someone other than Mom or Dad (because, let's face it...we don't know anything) and feeling confident that they have such a person. A place where the Principal of the High School becomes that "father" to the child that doesn't have one. Shaping and molding so many young lives, that even he, himself, has no idea of the positive impact he has made. A place where race, economic, and social class are merely words learned in a classroom, not through discrimination...a place to "create" those lasting memories...(is it Mayberry? No, but it's a Great Place To Call Home)
A friend IS that person to my daughter,
the Principal IS that man to my son,
and these children ARE that important to me.
Graduation Day & The Panel Pal Vision
Giving something that seems "small" to one person, may be "huge" to someone else...It needs to have a purpose, make that person smile and/or hopefully inspire something more. Always DREAM big!
With little to no funds and kids about to be spending their last Summer at home before most of them head off to college, the words overwhelmed, excited, terrified and PROUD are ALL an understatement. Signing a card, writing a heartfelt message and placing $5 (if any) inside is perfectly fine; I don't know one of these children that would think anything different, but "creating" something they can take with them on their new journey is what I'd really like to do.
Money is "the" gift for new Grads, but not only is it something I don't have, it's not what I envisioned even if I did.
I want to give them something they can use, something tangible, something with meaning and memories they can reflect on...a little piece of Home!
So... I made a "Panel Pal"!
Picture, Collage, or Poster Frame
Photos (Collected over the years, Special Events, Groups, Family, Etc.)
Paints (School Colors)
Stencils (School Logos)
Wall Words/Stickers/Anything (Inspirational words and sayings)
Dry Erase Markers
The Creativity Is Endless
For my son's, I used a 12 x 36 inch, poster frame with black trim and turned it horizontally. His background is Collegiate (to his choice) wrapping paper, along with HS photos of events, friends, family and inspirational words randomly scattered on top of the background. All safely secured with acid-free tape that peels right off the pics if he wants to up-date them later. Once the plastic front (glass or plexi-glass) insert is replaced you have a dry-erase board full of memories! They can write test dates, event reminders, grocery items, to-do lists and so on....then simply wipe off and re-use.
*I also took a permanent marker and wrote, "...My Memories!",
in the bottom, right corner*
Truly a Timeless, Personalized, Special Gift!
@@ PLEASE HELP ME FUND A "PANEL PAL" FOR OTHER GRADUATES @@
There are NO limitations on how to "create" them!
There are NO limitations on what size, shape, color, or occasion!
My son's "Panel Pal" was on display at the school and the requests for Panel Pals for other occasions are starting to emerge! I was asked to make a Mini-Panel Pal for a friend who wants to be able to pull it out of a drawer for Babysitters, stand it up on the counter (just like a normal photo frame), write down feeding schedules, etc., wipe it off when done and put it back in a drawer until next time! How exciting! If the requests continue, I would not only have a much-needed, additional income, but a chance to EXPAND a Small-Town Dream, as well.
Making sure the Grads leave here with a little bit of home is my #1 Goal!
Looking at the possibility of expanding into a made-to-order, small business would absolutely go above and beyond this Empty-Nester's DREAM! Who knows where that can lead...the possibilities are endless!
...because, "I Can Do Anything", Right?
Thank you in advance for considering to help fund my "Panel Pal" project. I can't wait to get started, blog about my progress, upload photos and receive feedback on improvements, ideas, added touches and design options.
For those contributing $25 or more...I would like to
show my appreciation by sending you a
8 x 10 ..."Mini-Panel Pal"
(designs may vary)