Archive | September 2012

Coaching By Criticism; Partly What is Wrong with the World

Let me preface this post by saying these are MY thoughts. They are not necessarily the thoughts of a group of parents, players or any other individual (including our son). Having said that, I do believe my thoughts could easily represent the thoughts of many parents and players not just in our community but across the nation. I know I am not alone in my frustration however at this moment I am solely taking responsibility for my actions and words in this post. I mean, come on, this is my blog and thanks to my right for freedom of speech, I’m expressing my thoughts! Be fair warned, it is a long read but I think it is worth your five minutes if you have kids who play organized sports.

Our oldest son, Stevie, plays football (yes, at almost 16 years of age, I still call him Stevie even in front of his friends). He also plays baseball. He does both of these sports wearing his high school colors. He is very good at both. Is he the best, well, no. But he is definitely more than good at these sports and offers a lot to the team, the school and the community. My son is somewhat an introvert. He very rarely yells or screams. He processes his thoughts before speaking (well most days…he is after all still a teenager and does react out of emotion). He doesn’t use profanity freely. He is not the “get-in-your-face” type of person. His words are his actions. What he doesn’t say, he does. He goes to every practice and team function. He actively participates in every aspect. He is quick to lift another player up. He freely gives pats on the back and is quick to say, “next time”. He gives 100% in everything he commits to. His leadership skills are literally rooted in his actions. For all those reasons and many more, we are very PROUD parents.

I am really big on the “it’s not if you win or lose but how you play the game” speech. Sure, winning is fun but what I love about organized sports is everything learned outside of winning and losing. A few short years ago when I was a nurse manager and an applicant would say, “I excel at being part of a team” my expectations would shoot straight up! Who doesn’t want to work with a team player? I probably shouldn’t have gotten so excited over hearing “team work” because nowadays it doesn’t have the same meaning as it did when I was playing organized sports. I believe the concept of “team-player” has been lost. The “T” and the “A” were dropped and the remaining letters got all rearranged in the word “TEAM”. Somehow the concept of unity was lost to individuality again. It isn’t a “team” process, but a “me” process.

I think many players and parents are delusional about their son’s or daughter’s athletic abilities. Too much emphasis is put on Pro sports in America. It is so unrealistic to expect a multi-million dollar contract deal. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen but that shouldn’t be what sports is all about. The adage that “everything I know I learned in kindergarten” is quirky but true in many aspects. Organized sports has the same life lessons being taught everyday on the field, court, track, mat, etc. What is taught? Respect. Strong Work Ethic. Perseverance. Courage. Hope. Being Humble. Strength (not just physically but mentally). Confidence. Identity. Healthy Life Habits. Autonomy. Team Work. Camaraderie. Leadership. I can go on and on about why organized sports are important in a child’s life.

I have spent the greater part of today reflecting on the events of this past weekend. It was a tough weekend all the way around with football. Both the Varsity and JV team lost. I watched team “leaders” attempt to emerge at the Varsity game however I feel they horribly failed at it. I saw other leaders almost fade away into the darkness. It wasn’t a great weekend for football, nope, not at all.

We were losing at the Varsity game. This has unfortunately become a pattern for our team. You can’t really put a finger on exactly one reason why we are losing because there are many reasons. All reasons the team needs to work on. As the team was down by a whole lot of points, a couple players came off the field “pumped” and attempted to motivate the team. I say “attempted” because although their passion was evident, their message was all wrong. There were a lot of F-bombs, B-bombs and so on as these players screamed at other players. I was absolutely mortified by this. The coaches didn’t intervene. Some folks in the stands even cheered on these players. It was at least a good 8-10 minute yelling match of obscenities that went so far as one player pointing to specific players screaming they “didn’t have heart.” Those players being ridiculed on the spot really weren’t doing anything to warrant the label other than they were in close proximity of the player yelling his head off. Our son happened to be one of them branded with “no heart.” Our son, who has been to EVERY weight lifting day, EVERY practice, EVERY team event and EVERY game. Who is of the very few who has all A’s and just a couple of B’s on the team and doesn’t have to worry about not meeting the GPA requirement to participate. Trust me, at least 1/3 of the team if not more was academically ineligible to play at the start of the season (meaning they earned less than 2.0 GPA at the end of last school year). They all opted to sign a waiver to sit out of the first 2.5 games of the season because of their grades. This is a one-time waiver that can be used by athletes during their high school career. I could go off on a tangent on the academics issue because trust and believe if my son dropped to a 2.0 or below that, playing a sport would be the last thing we as a family would be thinking about. But I’ll save that thought for another day. I can also go on another tangent about what happened when all the sudden 1/3 of the team became eligible to play and what that did to the kids who were playing but lost their spots. But again, I’ll save that thought for another day. The point is, I am not being biased when I say our kid is “all heart”. He is someone who actively takes part even if he isn’t feeling his best. He never quits. Our son came home from the game very upset having been called out like that and humiliated by a fellow teammate. He didn’t deserve to be the target and certainly didn’t deserve to be a puppet in the nonsensical, negative screaming match between two other players who thought they were “elevating” the team. Let me tell you what they actually did do, they cracked our son’s spirit. And when you tear down one player, you are actually chipping away at the whole team’s cohesion.

The irony of it all was the very next morning, our son was chosen by the coaches as a team captain at the JV game. The coach told our son it was because they recognized the effort he has put in having not missed any practices all year long (I am talking about all of the weight lifting, two-a-days and other practices thus far in 2012 that started back in January). So that tiny fracture from the night before was already healing. Good, because being called out like that could have seriously shattered his soul and taken away the passion he has for the game of football. Do you really want to know what makes an effective leader? It isn’t the person who screams the loudest, it isn’t the biggest player on a team and it isn’t the fastest player on the team. A leader is one who leads by example. A true leader only has to say a few words, it’s all about how he acts. “Actions speak louder than words!”  It is really that simple. Steve’s strengths have and always will be rooted in action not blah-blah-blah-profanity-blah-blah screams.

Toward the end of the 2nd quarter, the quarterback tossed a throw on a curl route to Steve. I am not a football expert. I can’t even name every position on the offensive side let alone the defensive side. But I can tell you this, slant and curl routes are tossed in hopes of getting a first down. Sure it would be nice if the receiver can break down the field and make it into the end zone but realistically, slants and curls are meant for just enough yardage to get to a first down. They should be thrown low to the receiver. Why? Because the opposing defense is right there, ready to hit. Steve ran his curl route and he jumped high to get the overthrown pass only to be hit hard by the corner while still in mid air. The ball popped loose as he never got the chance to pull it in before getting hit. He dropped to the ground like a ragdoll.

I can tell you that my heart was pounding in my throat as I watched the coaches and trainers working with Stevie. The noise was deafening. What noise? The beating of my heart, my shallow breathing, the wind, the birds flying over, the grass crunching from players dropping to their knees because a player is down…everything seemed so loud as I was lost in that moment of complete fear. I only broke from this trance because behind me I could hear a man yelling, “He should have pulled that down!” repeatedly. That man happened to be the quarterback’s father. I couldn’t believe his concern was that our son “didn’t pull it down”. After a couple minutes listening to his obnoxious banter, I turned around and yelled, “Give him a break, he tried.” What I wanted to say was “your son threw a crappy pass, it was too high and it set up the receiver to getting nailed!” But I didn’t. The quarterback’s father though, realized then that the player he was spouting off about was our son who at that moment was laying on the ground in pain. He didn’t dare say another word about the “dropped catch” but he certainly spent the rest of the game screaming about the missed blocks, the poor offensive line and frustration over why they weren’t passing the ball more often. Funny though that he didn’t mention the interception his son threw right before the 2nd quarter ended or the couple of other throws his son had that were by all accounts overthrown. The worst of all though was when it was evident in the final couple of minutes that we were going to lose, this same quarterback took off his helmet and walked away from the players on the sidelines to go sit on a bench a good 20 yards away from the team to pout out the remaining minutes of the game. And as tempting as it was to yell out all of this particular player’s failures, I refrained. Oh was it tempting, lol. But I refuse to be that “bully” in the stands screaming at kids.

I appreciated that the trainer for the other team (team trainers do not travel with the team for JV games) took the time to explain our son’s injury. The first thing the trainer said was that no one would have caught that and those are the throws that you go back and yell at your quarterback for because when it is thrown high on a short route, the receiver is going to get nailed in mid-air with no way to protect themselves because they are fully extended and vulnerable. The trainer said his intercostal within the floating ribs were bruised and to expect him to have a lot of pain for the remainder of the weekend. He further stated, he is definitely out for the rest of the game and maybe longer. Our son reluctantly took off his shoulder pads but put his jersey back on. He stood on the sidelines telling his teammates good job as they came off the field while encouraging the players who took the field. Not once did I hear him drop the F-bomb or any other bomb while he was encouraging his fellow teammates.

So between the “no heart” event and the obnoxious tyrants of a bully in the stands, I really had it. I spent the greater part of the weekend frustrated with it all. I wanted so badly to tell our son all of this is bull-bomb and to F-bomb them all. But I didn’t. Instead, I told him how proud we were of him for battling through the pain while he encouraged his fellow teammates to push harder. I told him that I was also proud of him that he didn’t let the “no heart” nonsense break him down.

So once I battled through my frustration this past weekend, I spent the greater part of Monday reflecting on how all of this came to be? Want the truth? It is because of the culture these kids have been raised in. The epic fail of leadership from those players Friday night is because they have been on the receiving end of negative criticism and don’t truly know any other way to motivate. So in a Facebook group in which parents share football info and pictures of our football team, I posted the following:

“Some food for thought for the “sideline coaches” that are in the stands every Friday night, Saturday morning or any other time a game is played. I have sat idly for years, listening to over-bearing yells and taunts from parents in the stands. I have always said that coaching out of criticism is detrimental to not only the player in question but for the entire team. Overt criticism is NOT a self-motivating tool. It immediately puts the person on the receiving end on the defensive. It often leads to anger, humiliation, or both, and thus warps any helpful, give-and-take dialogue. It makes finding positive and forward-looking solutions that much more difficult. Make the feedback process positive, even when it is initiated to correct something negative. So I ask parents that before they yell about an overthrown pass, a dropped catch, a missed tackle or a botched play, think before you speak. Words may not break bones but it certainly can shatter the soul of not just one player but the entire team. So he threw an interception, so what? So he missed his block, so what? Yell, “Next time you’ll hit your mark! You’ll lock him up next time!” because that WILL encourage him to try harder next time instead of yelling “Horrible pass! You missed your block!” which only feeds the “self-doubt beast” in all of us. Coaching out of criticism hurts everyone. This isn’t just coming from the stands; I can hear this on the sidelines from the players yelling at other players on the team. Leadership is about elevating your team not beating them down. There are many more ways to encourage your teammates than just pointing out what they have done wrong. There is not one perfect player on that field; everyone has made mistakes. But football isn’t an individual sport; football is a TEAM sport. What one player lacks, another player has an abundance of. It is a balance of everyone’s skills. So no, there is not a perfect player, but we certainly could have the PERFECT team. I also wanted to remind folks that it is always easier to “coach from the sidelines” than it is to actually be a team Coach. They have the challenging task of actually coaching not only what is in the playbook, but also raising self-esteem, building team morale, utilizing constructive criticism, monitoring individual and team behaviors, dealing with parents who always speak up when something is “wrong” versus when something is “right” and so on. Coaches aren’t coaches only on the field…they are in the classrooms, they are in the halls, and they are part of our community. They coach 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a year. If we truly want a dominant football program, then the work begins at home, not on the field. Encourage your player to ELEVATE and not TEAR DOWN the team with their words and actions. If I have offended anyone with this post, I offer my deepest apologies. Just wanted to share my thoughts on this beautiful Monday afternoon. No worries, I will continue to take and share pictures of all the players because I do believe that EVERY player on the team is valuable. (I freely and liberally used language from the article, Lots of Feedback, Not Criticism by Nicholas Nigro to make my point).”

I feel like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Just as I feel it is my responsibility to not “coach by criticism”, it is my responsibility to speak up against it. Sitting idly in the stands only perpetuates the culture of negative criticism and bully leadership. I am not angry at the dad in the stands. I fully understand he was just being passionate when it came to his son. I am also doing the same. I am passionate about both of my children. I also am not angry at the players from Friday night. I get it. They were trying to “pump” up the team, I really do get that. I merely suggest that if you are going to scream your head off, do it in a positive way. Motivation should be an UPlifting experience . . . let’s get back to that way of thinking!

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DIY Important Dates Artwork

All you have to do is type “dates” in the search bar on Etsy and you will find a gazillion Etsy Stores selling some sort of version of this. Some don’t even print it but instead send you an electronic file. When I see something cute, I make it a personal challenge to make it myself . . . and so I did! I created a DIY Important Dates Artwork craft and the results are fantastic!

You pick the dates that are important to you and then add why underneath. Keep it simple, keep it clean. It gives a subway art feel and really frames nicely. I loved the way this turned out so much that I want you to be able to make one too! So I am adding templates in Microsoft Word that you can edit to make your own. Just decide on how many important dates you will need: 4, 5 or 6 of them.

Not a computer wiz? No problem, I’ve included screen shots on what to click on to make this artwork your very own original!

I purchased 8.5 x 11 textured, off-white cardstock from Hobby Lobby for literally like 30 cents (it was on sale). I also purchased the 11 x 14 navy blue mat (with an 8 x 10 opening) and the 11 x 14 wood frame from Hobby Lobby too. The mat was $2.99 and the frame was $5.99. So are you doing the math? I made this, frame and all for less than $10! Woohoo! Of course, you will need access to a color printer as well. It can be a home printer or one of those fancy office printers. Either will work. Oh, and you must have Microsoft Word.

So let’s get started!

Choose the number of dates template that suits your individual need:

4 Dates

5 Dates

6 Dates

Open your word document and personalize your dates!

First, click on the first set of numbers. An invisible box will surround the numbers (with white boxes around the edges). A “Word Art” box will appear as well. Click on “Edit Text” to type in the numbers of your date. Pay attention that there are spaces between the number sets. Keep these spaces there! This is where the little heart goes. Just highlight the first 2 numbers. Once a shaded box covers just those numbers, type in your numbers. Repeat with the other 2 sets of numbers. Repeat all of this for the remainder of the dates. Note: your hearts may be off-center now. Don’t worry, you will be able to fix that later.

Next, highlight the “Name & Saying”. It should now appear in a shaded box. Type in what you want to (a name or saying). This may make the words longer and they may then cover the squiggly design in the front and back of the words. Don’t worry about that, you can fix it later. See the purple arrow in the upper right corner? Choose the font color you want to match your decor. Right now it is a Colonial Red color. Repeat this with the rest of the “Name or Saying” in your design.

Now it’s time to fix the squigglies. Just click on the squiggly and an invisible box covers it. Although you can’t see it in the picture above, if you move your cursor over the center of that invisible box, your cursor should change into a 4 arrow design. This means you can move it. Hold down your cursor over the squiggly and move it to where it is just to the right or left of the name or saying. Do this to both sides. Make sure you have the 4 arrow cursor or you will only be changing the size of the squiggly. You don’t want to change the size so be careful. Also, you will see the Word Art box open and this is where you can also change the color of the squiggly. Again, it is currently a Colonial Red Color. To change the color, click on the paint bucket & paintbrush icon. A color palette will open that will allow you to choose  your own color.

Ok, time to fix the hearts. Depending on which numbers you use, the hearts may become uncentered (all letters and numbers are slightly different width sizes). To fix this, you click on the heart and you will see 4 little white boxes. Move your cursor over this and again your cursor should change shape into a 4 arrow design. Move your heart where you need to. Repeat with the remainder of the hearts. The hearts are a Navy Blue color. You can change the color of your heart by using the tool bar located at the bottom of your screen (see purple arrow). Click on the paint bucket and a color drop box will open. Choose the color you want. If you change the color, be sure to change the color of the other hearts to match.

I should add that if you change the “name and saying” color, you should change the color of “Day” at the bottom. To do this, use your cursor to highlight “Day”. Then just click on the font color icon in the upper right hand corner. Pick the same color you used for “name and saying”. Now check out your handy work. Is it spaced out evenly? Like the colors? Like the fonts? You certainly can change the fonts if you want. Get those creative juices flowing!

Load your textured cardstock into the printer (be sure the texture side is where it prints on). Print it. Center your cardstock in your mat. Frame it. Hang it. Pat yourself on your back because you just made the cutest Important Dates Original Artwork!

Ideas:

  • Would be a great gift to a friend with an established family. What I mean by “established” is that they aren’t expecting more kids. Of course, we weren’t expecting more and well, 12.5 years after our only child was born…we had our 2nd and last child, lol! Yes, same mom and dad, yes, both are our kids and no, we are not the grandparents (answering all questions that strangers ask with their eyes and body language when they see all of together, lol)!

  • Just do children’s birth dates and names for a single mom or dad.

  • Make one with just the grandkiddos’ birth dates for the grandparents.

  • This would make a great gift for a friend starting their own business. Pick important dates like: the day they were inspired to own their own business, the day they got their first business loan, the day they sold their first product, the day they reached 20 employees, etc.

Our 17th Anniversary

I am blessed beyond blessed to be married to the love of my life, Steve. This picture above is from the day we met. Our marriage is perfect! Do we argue? Of course! Do we disagree on things? Of course! So why is it perfect you ask? Because when we said our vows before God, we meant every single word of it. Our marriage works because we WORK it. On the 16th, we celebrated 17 years together. Is it our wedding anniversary? No. It is our datesary, the day we met and the beginning of our great love affair. We have always celebrated this day with as much enthusiasm and excitement as we do our wedding anniversary. I wanted to share some reasons as to why our marriage works:

  • Never let any argument last more than 30 minutes. Most of the time, it is a 5 minute argument that required 20 minutes of cool down time followed by 5 minutes of compromise.

  • Agree to disagree. We don’t see eye to eye on everything but we respect each other’s perspective. We take into consideration what each other is saying and meet in the middle.

  • Listen to each other. Hearing is literally the act of sound being heard. Listening is understanding what is heard. Both are action verbs with totally different meanings.

  • Children come before each other. It’s that simple. When you have children, their needs and wants supercede all of your individual needs and wants. Children first. I love my husband for many reasons but the number one reason is because of how amazing of a father he is to our sons. I’m certain he would tell you the same about me as a mother.

  • Eat dinner together every night. Whether it is take out, a sit down restaurant, sitting at the dinner table or eating off TV trays. We eat together. For one hour a day, it is family time. We talk. We each share what happened that day. This next part is sometimes hard for our teenage son, no phones or texting during dinner. The focus is on family.

  • Plan a family event weekly. It can be as grand as a vacation or as simple as watching our favorite family show (which by the way currently is The Voice).

  • Have a joint account. Money is the root of all evils. It is not “my” money and it’s not “his” money. It is “our” money. We have a joint checking and joint savings account that we BOTH contribute money to. It doesn’t matter who contributes more. We balance our checkbook together. Money will tear folks apart fast, don’t let it.

  • There is never anything more important than our kids’ events. Yep, we go to EVERY game. We show our support and I know that makes a difference in our kids.

  • Text or call whenever apart. Steve knows to call me as soon as he gets to work to let me know he has safely gotten to work. Steve knows where I am at all times and I know where he is at all times. It is not a control issue, it is a courtesy thing. Knowing where everyone is calms anxiety and fears. This includes our children. We always know where they are at all times.

  • Spoil each other between holidays and special occasions. It doesn’t have to be a diamond tennis bracelet. It can be a favorite candy bar that Steve picks up when he is at the store or me making his favorite dessert for no reason other than it is his favorite.

  • Never ever complain about each other to other folks. I am not perfect, he is not perfect. We annoy each other at times. But I don’t go running to my friends to complain or shed a negative light on him. Once you do that, your friends remember. They remember that one crappy moment. Whether they repeat it or not is not as important as the fact that you have changed your friend’s opinion about your spouse. Friends are very influential. Once you’ve planted the seed, they will always look at your spouse differently. They may not verbalize their thoughts to you but it will be evident in their actions and nonverbal cues. You will soak in this negativity and it opens your mind to see things as far worse than they actually are. You will never hear me talk bad about Steve and you will never hear Steve talk bad about me.

  • Hold hands. Marriages are meant to be physical. Your marriage should never be so “common” or “ordinary” that holding hands is passé.

  • Kiss every morning and every night. Steve is the first person I kiss everyday and the last person I kiss everyday.

  • Elevate each other. It is not about changing someone into someone else. It is about being the most you can be. Steve pushes me and I push him to be better, to be better at everything: a wife or husband, a father or mother, an employee, a student, a community member, etc. If your lover isn’t lifting you up then he or she isn’t the one.

  • Live by your vows. Recall what was said in your wedding vows. Those weren’t said to only be in effect for a day, week, month or year…it was meant to last for the rest of your lives.

Simple rules but effective rules. I don’t think I’m sharing anything that you don’t already know. Sometimes it’s good to remind yourself of what you deserve in a marriage. After 17 years, I not only love my husband…I am still IN love with my husband. Hope you are all as blessed as me!

Glow Bath

Our precious baby boy had a major booboo occur almost 2 weeks ago. Long story short, he burnt his hand on the stove. I know, you are saying, “How could that happen?” or “How could the parents let that happen?” Trust me, I’ve been torn up about since it happened. It happened so fast and both Steve and I were literally right next to him when it happened. We still beat ourselves up that we didn’t react quick enough to prevent any of this. He has had his hand bandaged however the burn clinic wanted his bandage removed so that he could get his hand in soapy bath water. The occupational therapist wants him using his hand as soon as possible. So to encourage him to open his hand and play a little, we gave him a special Glow Bath! We bought some glow sticks from the dollar store and tossed them into his bubble bath. We turned the bathroom lights off and the party was on! It took him a few minutes but he finally got his hand in the water and started playing! He loves his glow baths and we try to treat him to it at least once a month. Tonight though, it was extra glow-y! We doubled our normal amount of glow sticks and let him play till the bubbles were gone and the water was cold! Spencer absolutely loves his special glow baths! If you’ve got a toddler around, give him or her a glow bath and become witness to all the fun!

Delicious and Easy Apple Cobbler

Wednesdays are huge for me! I get to spend time with my girlfriends and we watch Honey Booboo, lol. Yes, I know the show is corny but it’s entertaining! I adore my friends and although the party is usually at Rhonda’s abode, she had taken a cake decorating class and would be late. So I had the gathering at our place and made dinner for my dear friend, Beth. Rhonda stopped by afterward. Hmmmm, wonder where Angie was? I just adore my friends Beth, Rhonda & Angie! We laugh so hard and each of them are so unique and amazing in their own special way. You know you are blessed when your friends are phenomenal! Okay, so I didn’t cook all of the dinner by myself, lol, but I did put the stuff in the oven all by myself. Steve made most of the dinner before he left for class, lol. I did however make our Delicious and Easy Apple Cobbler all by myself! When I say easy, I mean ridiculously easy, lol! The flavor? Fanfreakingtastic! Give it a try and folks will think you slaved over this cobbler crust, lol. Your secret is safe with me!

Printable Recipe: Apple Cobbler

Ingredients (ONLY 3 Ingredients! Sorry about the crappy ingredients photo, my camera has a mind of it’s own sometimes, lol):

  • Jiffy Yellow Cake Mix

  • Apple Pie Filling (or any pie filling you choose, we’ve tried them all and they all rock!)

  • 1/2 stick of butter or margarine

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a round or square cake pan (8 or 9 inches in size), dump the pie filling in. Spread it into an even layer all across the bottom of the pan.

I doubled the recipe to make a 9×13 pan of cobbler (so the pictures you are seeing are of a double batch). Dump the dry Jiffy Yellow Cake Mix right out of the box into an even layer.

Cut thin tabs of butter or margarine out. Place on top of the cake mix. The butter(margarine) tabs don’t have to touch each other but should be very close to each other (see picture).

Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Serve warm or cold! Place leftovers in the fridge. It heats up nicely in the microwave. So when I said easy, I meant EASY!

The sweet, buttery cobbler crust is to die for! We have made this using every fruit pie filling you can think of. I am telling you, every one of them turned out fabulous! We even found a can of strawberry pie filling once, that was super yummy!  Peach pie filling is also fantastic! So make this for your family but make sure you sprinkle some flour on your face, on your clothes and in your hair. Mess your hair up a bit too. Bring your pan out of the kitchen and give out a loud sigh as you fall backwards onto your favorite chair. Your family doesn’t have to know how easy it was to make, but they will think you rule the world for slaving over the amazing fruit cobbler you had just made for them! This is so good that we usually double the recipe and put it in a 9×13 baking pan or glass dish. Enjoy!

DIY Personalized Glass Tile Pendants

So the glass tile pendants are the latest craze and I can see why. They are so beautiful! I researched how to make them and after a botched first try, I incorporated hints from several websites and made my first successful batch of DIY Personalized Glass Tile Pendants! I have to tell you, they turned out way cuter than I expected! This post is long and detailed. I can’t help it, it’s the nurse in me! I tend to over-educate because I want to make sure there is very few, “what now?” questions! So if it is too long of a read, by all means go to another blog with less complete directions, lol. I can tell you that my first batch was awful and so I am incorporating what I have learned in the process of making these in hopes you avoid the same errors. I know this is a craft project that I will make more of because the possibilities are endless! So let’s get started…

Supplies Needed:

  • Glass tiles (with rounded edges)

  • Aleene’s Paper Glaze adhesive

  • Scrapbook Paper or a picture

  • Xacto Knife

  • Bails

  • E6000 adhesive

  • Ribbon

  • Jump rings

  • Crimps (either ribbon or cord crimps)

  • Lobster clasps

  • Q-tips

So let’s talk about the supplies a bit. You are looking for glass tiles with rounded edges. You can find this everywhere online: eBay (where I bought mine), craft suppliers and even Etsy. They come in rectangular shapes, square shapes and round shapes. All of these shapes come in different sizes. I used glass tiles that were rectangular and 1×2″ in size. Some glass tiles have a rough bottom and that’s ok because the adhesive gets into the crevices and makes it all smooth. Scrapbook paper nowadays comes in amazing colors and patterns. You certainly can find a pattern you like and use a portion of it to make a pendant. You don’t have to add text like I did. I found the red and white patterned scrapbook paper at Hobby Lobby and it was on sale for 40% off (making the paper like 30 cents each)! It was a 14″ square sheet so I had to cut it down to 8.5×11 so it would fit in my printer. You certainly can use photos as well whether they are printed from your computer or professionally printed. The thickness of the paper is important too. The scrapbook paper I used was normal grade copy paper so not thin but not thick. I do think something just a little thicker would be better. I will explain why later. So any type of paper or photo paper will work. If the paper is really thick though, you may want to sand down the edges (just use a normal emery board for your nails) after you have glued the paper to the glass. You will also need Aleene’s Paper Glaze. It was kind of funny because the folks at Hobby Lobby had no idea what I was talking about and the folks at Michael’s said they didn’t carry it. Well, turns out Michael’s does carry it and their staff isn’t fully up-to-date on their products, lol. I found it in the adhesives area at Michael’s sitting on a shelf, lol. It wasn’t too expensive, it was around $5.00. You will need sturdy bails to turn your glass tiles into pendants. Pay attention to the size of the bail opening. Will whatever you use as the necklace itself fit through the bail opening? I chose to use sheer ribbon because it just added the right amount of elegance to the glass tile. You will need a strong adhesive to glue the bail to your pendant. I used E6000 but any strong adhesive will work. I chose to use crimps, jump rings and lobster clasps to close the necklace. You can use anything you want but I thought this too added to the elegance. I have also seen where folks tied their ribbon into a bow but I know my bow would be crooked and I didn’t want all that ribbon behind my neck bugging me.  The ribbon crimps were new to me and are pretty self-explanatory (they are the claw looking crimps in the picture). They worked but I will be honest, I liked the cord crimps better. I just twisted the ribbon tight and crimped closed the cord crimp. I cut the excess ribbon off near the hole openings. Use what you are comfortable with. I should mention that you could use Mod Podge to adhere the paper to the glass tile. As hard as I try to create a smooth even layer with Mod Podge, it just doesn’t happen with me, lol. The Paper Glaze reminded me of Royal Icing. It is thin and watery. It also dries crystal clear. I really preferred the Paper Glaze for this project.

You can clearly omit this part if you aren’t wanting to add text to your pendant. I wanted to add words in different fonts and sizes in a cross-word pattern to create my pendant. As you can see, one of the designs says “Proud Cruiser Mom 17”. My son plays football for the GMHS Cruisers and 17 is his jersey number. To add text, I used Microsoft Publisher to create my design (using the “A” design option found in the left tool bar ~ see the arrow). I chose different fonts and sizes. I used the marked margins in the program to make sure my design would fit in a 1×2″ rectangle. I then cut my scrapbook paper down to 8.5×11 size and printed the designs directly on to the paper. As you can see, from one sheet of scrapbook paper you can make a bunch of pendants!

Next, cover your work surface with wax paper! This is a must! Or you will end up with a sticky mess! Some websites say to cut the paper to fit the glass first and then glue the paper to the glass. I tried this and the paper was either too big or too small and of course my lines weren’t straight, lol. I instead cut the paper out bigger than the glass tile.

Using the Aleene’s Paper Glaze, apply a thin layer of glue down the center of the backside of the tile. Center your tile over your design and firmly press down from the center out to the edges. You will be able to see the glue smear across the glass and paper. Make sure all of the paper adheres to the glass. You may have a small amount of glue ooze out, that’s ok. I suggest using slightly less glue than the picture above. Next, allow to dry for at least 2 hours. Yep, the waiting part sucks and there’s a couple more times you will have to wait.

After your paper is adhered to the tile and the glue is mostly dry, you can go to the next step. Using your Xacto Knife, cut out the tiles from the excess paper. You will want to do this at an angle because the glass is rounded. If you attempt to put your blade straight up and down, you will end up with lines that aren’t straight and the paper will hang over the glass edge. Any of the glue that oozed out of the edges will be cut away in this step.

Now is when you will seal the back. With the Paper Glaze, apply a layer around the edge. Some sites say to use your finger to smear the glue to seal the edges of the paper. I tried this at first and well, this is where the whole batch was screwed up. I had glue everywhere! So here’s the good news and bad news. Bad news first, your glass pendant is NOT waterproof. So if you are wearing your necklace, avoid getting it wet! I am guessing if Mod Podge is used at this step then it would create a tighter seal but again, the Paper Glaze makes the back of the necklace so much smoother. Good news . . . since it isn’t waterproof, I just ran warm water over the tiles for a few seconds. The paper and all the glue mess washed right off without soap! So I ended up with blank glass tiles and started all over. On my second batch, I used Q-tips. I applied a bead of Paper Glaze around the edge. I then used one end of the Q-tip to smear the glue on the edge of the paper to create a good seal between the paper edge and the glass. I then flipped the Q-tip over and with the other side, I stood it straight up and down along the glass edge. I ran the Q-tip around the glass tile edge keeping it perpendicular to the glass and wiped off any excess glue onto the Q-tip cotton end. Next, take the Paper Glaze and “color” in the glue over all of the back paper in short strokes back and forth. Coat all of the paper. You want to create a thick, even layer of glue. When I used the Q-tip to seal the paper, it created a border of sorts and the glue didn’t drip over the edge. Keep in mind I didn’t push my luck and press the glue bottle hard around the edges so that I could avoid spills over the edge. Now I can explain why thicker paper is better. When I was holding down the glass tile in the middle while applying a bead of glue around the edges, my fingernail tore the paper on one pendant because of the pressure I was applying! Just be careful because once your paper is soaked with glue (I’m talking before you add the thick layer of Paper Glaze) the paper fibers are weakened and you easily can tear it with a fingernail or even the hard cardboard part of a Q-tip. Now here’s the really long waiting part . . . put your glass tiles in a safe place and allow to dry for 24 hours. Yep, 24 hours. Don’t stick your finger in it anytime during that 24 hours to see if it is dry. You will only create an indent and leave a fingerprint that isn’t fixable. It will ruin the pendant (trust me, I know this from experience). I tried adding more glue to fill the indent but since the original glue added to the back had already began to dry, the new glue I added just created a puddle on top of the old glue. It wasn’t pretty.

After your back is completely dry, it is time to apply the bails. It just takes a tiny dab of E6000 to the bail and then gently push the bail to the back of pendant making sure it is centered on the glass tile. As you can see in the picture, I put a little too much glue and it oozed out around the edge of the bail. I was okay with that because it does dry clear. This is the last “waiting” period. Allow your E6000 to set up. It took about 2 hours and then I was good to go on to the next step.

Cut your ribbon to size. Apply the crimps to the edge of your ribbon. If using ribbon crimps, you will want to fold the ribbon over two times and then crimp over the folded ribbon using your jewelry pliers. If using cord crimps, twist your ribbon and crimp over the twisted ribbon using your jewelry pliers. Add your jump rings and lobster clasp. I will tell  you that most mega packs of jump rings are poor in quality. I find using thicker jump rings that are “joined” (meaning not open) work the best. I use pliers to cut open the ring and gently twist it open. With jump rings, you don’t pull apart the circle, instead, you twist one part forward and the other part backwards. You are just opening the ring without losing the circular form of the ring. I added the crimp and the clasp to the jump ring. Then gently twist the jump ring back to where it is a complete circle again. I find it to be stronger when you use jump rings (also called “O” rings) that were closed and then cut open. Slide your pendant onto your ribbon and tadah, you just made the cutest pendant ever!

 I am definitely making this again and will use designer scrapbook paper without adding words to make elegant pendants. I also plan on making one with a photo of my kiddies. When I complete these, I will add the pictures to this post. Hope you enjoyed this DIY Personalized Glass Tile Pendants tutorial!

UPDATE: I made another set out of photo paper. It looked fantastic until the photo peeled right off the glass! So too thick of paper matters! You need the Paper Glaze to soak into the paper fibers to create that bond throughout! So maybe thinner (not tissue paper thin, but normal copy paper thin) is really the best paper to use!

UPDATE 2: My beautiful niece plays volleyball for Licking Heights High School. She called and asked if I could make the glass pendants for the 5 senior volleyball players as a gift from the team. I was honored to be asked and thought they turned out pretty nice too! What I did learn is that when you personalize the pendant with printed designs you create with your computer that using your home printer (which is most likely an inkjet printer) doesn’t work well. Since the paper glaze is watery, it ended up smearing the printer ink creating awful blobs. I saved my design to a flash drive and took it to the nearest Kinko’s. I handed them the designer paper and asked them to print my design onto it using their laser printer. They were able to upload my file from my flash drive and printed it lickity split. Inkjet printers use liquid ink sprayed through microscopic nozzles onto the paper, and laser printers use a toner cartridge (filled with fine powder) and a heated fuser. I ran home eager to try the new printed paper, ok, I didn’t run. I walked really slowly thanks to my PH but you get the point about my excitement and anticipation. The printed design (meaning the words and numbers) printed perfectly on my yellow lined scrapbook paper. When I applied the Paper Glaze, it didn’t smear! So that was the trick. I will say though that the Cruiser pendants above were made from my home printer (an inkjet) and didn’t run? Maybe because the black holds up better? The Licking Heights pendants had maroon colored ink? Either way, save yourself the trouble and if you are printing words on designer scrapbook paper, leave it to the professionals at Kinko’s. It was definitely worth the 63 cents for one full-page copy of my designs.

Halloween Costumes

Trick-or-treating is a huge event for American kids! It is always fun for them and the parents when you find or make the perfect costume! Just wanted to share in today’s blog post the costumes of years past that Spencer and Steve Jr. had worn. Where did I find Spencer’s Dumbo and the Red Devil, well, a second-hand store of course. Around our parts we have Once Upon A Child were you can find gently used name-brand clothing, toys, furniture and other items for a discounted price. The Dumbo was a Disney original costume and let me tell you, it was just too cute to pass up! The tail on the devil outfit made it impossible for me to pass up too! Seemed appropriate for Steve Jr. to go as the Grim Reaper when his brother was the devil, lol. Although, I really doubt the Grim Reaper wears Under Armour football gloves (or maybe they are his baseball gloves?) lol!

The fireman outfit was created thanks in part to the Madison Township Fire Department. They had a booth that year at the Canal Winchester Ribs Festival and was giving out fireman hats or badges. Only one per child. Since our parents had a concession trailer at the event, we visited the booth two days in a row to get the hat one day and the badge the next. We bought a navy blue sweatshirt and navy blue sweatpants at Walmart for less than $4 each. Found the red suspenders on eBay for only $2.00 to complete the outfit. A little smeared black face paint on his forehead, cheeks and nose created the ashy look. Hmmm…it seems like I’ve cheated Spencer some with pre-made costumes. Watch out though, this year I am making him an Oompa Loompa outfit from scratch, lol. I don’t think I spelled Oompa Loompa correctly? Oh well! I’ll be sure to post a pic once I have it all done!

Our oldest son, Steve Jr., had some memorable costumes as well. He was a clown in preschool. His MawMaw Lockwood had sewn the costume and when we found the wild colored wig, it was a perfect mix!

My favorite though by far is the tin man from the Wizard of Oz! We took one inch foam and cut it to make a cylinder with arm holes. We used spray adhesive to glue metallic silver fabric to it. I then added a collar of sorts that had a pull tie. I made arms and legs by sewing the fabric into cylinders. I then hand basted them to gray sweats. I found the same metallic fabric in shoe covers that slid right over his tennis shoes. We bought a cheapo plastic funnel and punched holes in for the chin ties. We then spray painted primer followed by metallic silver paint onto the funnel. We used metallic silver face paint to add color to his chunky little cheeks and sweet little nose. I added sequins strands to his outfit for just a little more bling! Just like the tin man, Steve Jr., has always had a big heart! I also made his cousin’s Dorothy outfit. I had the dress in mind and just winged it! I made the skirt extra fluffy adding layers of tulle. She just wore a white sweatshirt for the shirt and we lucked into red glitter slippers. I did a double French braid and put pretty bows in her hair. Her costume turned out perfect! When Dorothy and the Tin Man went trick-or-treating, the folks in the neighborhood just loved their costumes!

He also went as a doctor one year. I ordered children’s size scrubs from a uniform catalog and even had “Dr. Pack” embroidered onto it. This was an especially awesome costume because ever since our son was five-years-old, he has wanted to be a doctor! He has not entertained any other life goal and continues his plans of becoming a physician. When he talks about his future, he always says, “when I am a doctor…”. There is no doubt in our minds he will become one and an amazing one at that. Another favorite costume we had made for Steve Jr. was the robot. For the robot, we took two boxes (one large enough for his torso to fit in and one that fit perfectly over his head). We cut out the sides and front of the head box and put screen mesh in there (so he was able to see in front of him and out the sides). We also cut a large round hole out of the bottom of the head box so that his head would slip in. We cut the bottom out of the torso box and armholes. We then cut a hole big enough for his head to fit through. The torso box was held up by his shoulders. We taped the boxes together and spray painted the whole thing metallic silver. We added a bunch of different knobs to the front (just used various items found around the house) and hand-painted little sayings above each. We added an antenna on top. To complete the outfit, Steve punched out tiny holes and we added a battery operated string of lights to his boxes! It was cute! Not sure why we didn’t get a picture of the robot and doctor?! Dang us! LOL! The robot was a huge hit and he wore his costume for a party at his elementary school. He came home missing some knobs because the kiddos couldn’t keep their hands off of his super cool costume, lol! We have saved every costume our children has worn. I just can’t let go of things that make my heart melt and things that make me smile. Hopefully some of these costumes inspired you to create something unique for your kiddos! They are only children for a short period of time, make everyday memorable!

Make this Halloween unforgettable!