Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Pit Bull pin "Cinnamon" for sale at PitBullLadyDesigns

PitBullLady (Barbara) and her family are blessed with a lovely, small home with land where her children and furbabies grow, learn, and enjoy life. She has a very animal oriented life with rescued dogs and one rescued horse. Barbara has worked as a para-legal and as director of a non-profit child abuse prevention organization but she and her husband chose to have her become a stay-at-home mom just before the birth of her youngest two children who are now 7 and 8. At that time the family consisted of two little ones and two teens. The eldest is now in the Air Force and setting into life with a lovely wife and two little ones on the west coast, after his return from Guam and then Iraq.

Recently, life has been a struggle for Barbara. Her husband, Wayne, lost his long established 28 1/2 year job, due to company down-sizing and moving jobs to India. Another blow was struck to this family, when they lost their health insurance. Two of the children suffer from allergies and asthma, and one was diagnosed with arthritis after waiting six months to be diagnosed (becoming ill only one week after the loss of job/insurance). All of the children have growing complications and increasingly time consuming side effects. Thankfully, the children now have insurance but finding medical providers has been a bit of a challenge.

Wayne was able to obtain new employment in a new career field installing commercial playground equipment. The family invested money into his training and certification based on a promise that the new employer would reimburse. Unfortunately, those promises were not kept.

Wayne and another employee of this second company ventured out on their own and started a new business which has been doing as well as any in Michigan's depressed economy. Several jobs that were lined up were canceled or put on hold over the fall and winter due to the cold Michigan winters. Wayne continues to pursue part-time employment to hold them over until the weather warms up but the search has proven unsuccessful at this time.

"Look at Me Pendant" for sale in PitBullLadyDesigns

Barbara and Wayne volunteer at their church with the youth ministries. Barbara and Stephanie, her teen daughter, are involved in three different 4-H clubs and the little boys belong to two clubs. The organizations that the family are involved with include the Horse Judging Team, Therapy Dog Visits, the local Humane Society, and many more dog and horse rescue organizations. They are also starting Dog Safety Programs for the schools. While all of these positions are voluntary, they remain vital to this family. The parents believe these activities to be vital for growing children and the activities are fulfilling and life changing.

Horse Head Pin for sale at PitBullLady

Barbara is an amazingly talented needlefelting artist. She maintains a storefront on Etsy at PitBullLady. Needle felting is accomplished by taking natural wool and felting it by poking with a needle until the fibers mat together. Her art is incredibly beautiful.

After asking for prayer and support, her shop received 3 orders that helped make Christmas and New Years a little merrier. Their spirits were raised even more than the dollar amount received. Barbara said: "The support of the Esty community has made the worldwide web seem a little smaller, more caring and friendlier. Thank you, wonderful new friends."

Barbara's flickr pictures can be found here.

Links to 2 of Barbara's many dog stories:
Kindergarten Dog Safety Program
Adventures of Ready: Teaching 150 school kids

Many thanks to PitBullLadyDesigns for the photographs and information, and to thegypsyjewels for her sensational writing. As for myself, I only edited and put it together!


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Braided light

"Doorways" Fine Art Photograph for sale at BraidedLight

When HeatherRLange posted a forum topic on December 20th asking if any people from Etsy were in need, one of the first responses came in from Brian of BraidedLight. His request was simple: if anyone in the Portland, Oregon area would like to donate cans or bottles to help his family survive on one income, he would be grateful. He didn't ask for anything else.

Little did he know what would become of that simple request. In his words:
"After posting an ad on Etsy requesting bottles and cans from Portlanders, I was totally unprepared for the response I got. Etsy posters and sellers purchased a dozen items from my shop, and a couple others donated funds totalling $535. I am still stunned by this response as I write these words. I really was (and still am) only looking for bottles and cans to recycle but the sales and gifts were a tremendous help and encouragement during a difficult time."

Brian, his wife, Larissa and their two young children.

Brian and his wife, Larissa, choose to survive on one income so that Larissa can stay home with their two young children. Like so many of us have found, this is not an easy financial road to take. After Brian completed graduate school, he was unable to find steady work for two years. In Brian's words, "Larissa worked really hard to put me through school. My parents graciously put up with Larissa and I and our two toddlers while we lived with them. I was finally able to find work in Oregon in late spring of 2007. We were able to move into our own apartment last summer. We are grateful every day to have enough to pay the rent and the grocery bills." Unfortunately, his salary does not cover medical insurance, and they've struggled with Brian's depression and their daughter has broken her arm twice this year.

"Sweet Skirt" for sale at Elaborations

Brian also shared with HOST that his wife's grandmother had had a stroke and his brother-in-law is terminally ill with cancer. Brian and his wife Larissa are looking into the idea of moving out of their apartment and buying a house where they can help care for Larissa's grandmother but right now, that idea seems financially impossible. The couple is also trying to stay strong for Brian's sister and her family, including two young children, and help them cope with the realities of cancer. Chemotherapy has taken it's toll on Brian's brother-in-law, and although the long-term prognosis does not seem good, they do have treatment options to consider.

Brian feels that his immediate family's needs are very small compared to the needs around them. Despite struggling to make ends meet, they consider themselves blessed. Brian expressed his thanks to HOST: "It was helpful to express some of these concerns. Many of them are a heavy weight to bear, and laying them down is a very healing practice. Thank you for the chance to do so!"

"Circles and Square Purse" for sale at Elaborations.

Brian has been able to publish a few stories in the last year or so, three of which can be found at the following links:

Land Sick
Below the Waterline

Both Brian and Larissa have Etsy shops to help supplement their income. Brian's amazing black and white photography and other work can be found at http://braidedlight.etsy.com/. Larissa's fabulous sewn clothing and purses can be found at http://elaborations.etsy.com/.

"Door" Fine Art Photograph available at BraidedLight

All photographs provided by BraidedLight and Elaborations and are protected by copyright. Story submitted in part by BraidedLight and the bulk was written by quirkybags - I did my best but these two are much better writers than me!
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