Monday, November 30, 2009

Time Flies

whether you are having fun or not.  My last week was a crazy flurry of activity and non-activity.  So much so that I couldn't read OR write blog posts!  I took the entire week off work with the idea that I was going to get oh-so-much accomplished.  And just saying that, you all know how it really went down, right?  Here was my week in a nutshell:

Monday: some quick shopping at Joanne's, Target, and K-Mart.  I did score a 4 piece lamp set for $39 and some new chair pads in the PERFECT shade of green for my craft room.  From there - six hours of driving to pick Sarah up from college.  Six hours that served to only intensify the pain in my back and leg.  Got home and tried to fix the mess that Hair Cuttery had made of Rachel's hair - managed to make it worse. Lots of tears ensued.

Tuesday: 9 a.m. appointment for the Epidural Steroid Injection.  Silly me went in thinking "I'll get this shot and then I'll feel so much better that I'll really be able to knock a bunch of stuff off that to-do list."  HA!  The procedure was incredibly painful and actually made the pain worse for the first day.  Went in with a pain level of 2, came out with a pain level of 6.  Spent the rest of the day laying on the sofa on my right side - the only activity that didn't make me cry.  I did manage to do several loads of the laundry Sarah brought home, and took Rachel to the salon at 3 p.m. Thankfully, they were able to fix her haircut.  I will never take my child to Hair Cuttery ever again!  Tried a couple of times to get on the computer but literally - could. NOT. sit.

Wednesday: last minute grocery shopping, preparations for dinner with family, paid some bills and cleaned up some paperwork, worked on the album I was creating for Jay's birthday - which had to be done in spurts because I still couldn't sit for any length of time.

Thursday: Happy Thanksgiving!  Once the bird was stuffed and in the oven, I did some quick cleaning and then our guests arrived.  Spent all day cooking and serving. By the time guests left and we had the kitchen cleaned up, all I could do was sit (lay) on the sofa and veg.

Friday: my whole family was up at 5 a.m. for Black Friday shopping.  I stayed in bed.  I did a little cyber shopping and then went out to WalMart at 9 - which was a chaotic waste of time - won't be repeating that move.  Did lots more work on Jay's birthday album.  Went to the doctor to discuss surgery.  Thankfully no, I got a prescription for physical therapy instead. 

Saturday:  Ever notice that your regular chores don't take a vacation just because you do?  Went grocery shopping, worked on laundry, puttered around the house. At the girls' insistence, I took them to Kohls and Lowes for some last minute shopping for Dad's birthday.  We went out to Olive Garden for Jay's birthday dinner, then came home and celebrated Jay's birthday with ice cream cake and presents.  Capped off the night watching The Polar Express together.

Sunday:  Went out to Kohls first thing in the a.m. to pick up some things I had noticed for R & B.  Spent the rest of the day doing laundry and on and off watching Christmas movies or sleeping on the sofa while Jay drove Sarah back to college.  For me it was a super lazy day (although I did get about five loads of laundry done) and I still have a mile long to-do list. Which begins today with calling Grand View Sports Medicine for a physical therapy appointment. 

How about you?  Was your Thanksgiving weekend productive? restful? hectic?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blog Around The World

Hi! If you came over from Lee's blog (The Linar Studio) as the next step on the Blog Around the World blog hop, well you've left Canada, welcome to the States!  If you are starting here, you've stumbled into the middle of a blog party!  Welcome!  You can still see the whole thing just by following the link in each blog.

I'm in Perkasie PA - on the eastern coast of the U.S. and this is the view from my window:

There isn't much left of the fall leaves here.  It is pretty much over. And we've had a lot of rain.  I was lucky to catch this photo on a day with sunshine! :)

Please feel free to browse around my blog, leave me a comment (I adore comments), or even sign up to follow me if you like what you see.  And when you are done here, hop on over to ABC's Of My Life and say hi to Monica!  Tell her Cheri sent you. ;-)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Blog Around The World

Stop back here on Saturday at 4 p.m. EST.  I will be joining 39 other blogger/scrapbookers from Shimelle's class for a Blog Around the World blog hop.  You'll get to meet a lot of my new online friends and visit some really inspiring, well-written, and funny blogs.  We'll all be posting a view from our window.  Don't miss it!

Seven Years Ago Today

We were swimming with the Dolphins at Discovery Cove in Orlando.  Sarah was in Middle School and Rachel and Becca were in third grade. This was a magical day for us.  It makes me nostalgic for those times with our kids.  

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day - or was it?

It started when I woke up fifteen minutes late, jerking awake from a bad dream, the details of which I have blissfully forgotten.  I rushed through getting ready for work, but thankfully remembered the CD of my MRI for my afternoon doctor appointment.  I spent all but 30 minutes of my day at work in meetings.  Endless meetings punctuated with moments of levity, but overall productive. 

After a blessedly sweet commute home, I arrived at the doctors office 25 minutes early.  And sat in the waiting room for 50 minutes.  The magazine selection sucked.  The doctor confirmed what I pretty much already suspected.  I have two herniated discs (L4/5, L5/S1) - a reoccurance of an old problem.  They are pressing on my left sciatic nerve which is causing the constant burning pain down my left leg that is making me tired, cranky, unable to focus, and generally... well, fairly miserable.  I am scheduled for an epidural steroid injection next Tuesday and then see another doctor in the office about possible surgery (appt. scheduled for next Friday).  While I am NOT at all happy about my current diagnosis, I do realize it could be much worse.  The first time I experienced this, my twins were about 18 months old.  I woke up one morning and literally couldn't stand up straight.  I missed six weeks of work.  This round doesn't seem to want to sideline me entirely.  That's good right?

I came home and retrieved the mail.  Including a new credit card from Chase (updating expiration).  I called to validate the card and was told that my account was delinquent.  Say what?  I pay my credit cards IN FULL. ON TIME.  Every Month. Without Fail.  I checked my ING account - no pending or rejected payments.  But the transfer from savings to checking to cover the credit card bills is there.  The money is sitting in ING checking.  I pulled my paper statements. For three credit cards.  My notations "scheduled for payment online 11/5" on one "11/9" on the other two.  Yes, I definitely went online and scheduled these bills for payment.  I have not lost my mind.  {Yet.}  I called ING - they have no record of any request for payment being made for these bills.  The gentleman suggests maybe I didn't complete the payment process.  Hello?  I've been scheduling payments online for years - I think I know the system.  I called Chase Bank to explain.  Sorry the very nice lady tells me - unless I have some proof that it is bank error there isn't anything they can do for me. Until they receive payment all three cards are delinquent.  All three have been charged interest and late fees to the tune of around $230 total. Ouch.  Oh, and if we should be silly enough to try to use the cards, they will be declined.  I've rescheduled the payments through ING, but the cards won't be any good until maybe Tuesday.
Are you still reading?  Oh my gosh, thanks for hanging in with me because here comes the best part.... While I am on the phone with Chase Bank, my daughters are literally SCREAMING at me to fix dinner (in their defense they had no clue what was going on, but still).  I feel like telling them to make their own [fill in the blank with your favorite curse words] dinner.  But Jay has just come home, so I ignore them and follow him upstairs to tell him the news.  He is not a happy camper.  He's wearing that "how can she be so stupid" look.  And the conversation goes something like this. 

Jay:  What are you going to do to make sure this does not happen again in the future?

Me in my head: How am I remaining so calm??? I PAID the damn bills. Why do I get to take the fall for some computer glitch where the payments end up lost in cyberspace?

Me to Jay: Well from now on you can pay the bills and then I can't screw it up. [I know this is not the answer he is looking for, just as I know that he will not take over the bill payment from me, no matter how much I kick and scream.]  So what, not only do I have to schedule the payments, now I have to check to make sure they actually go out on the designated day???  Isn't "online banking" supposed to relieve you of stress... not create more? 
[This is the part where I lose it.] Well, I'll handle the bills, but your children are screaming for dinner and I do not have the patience to deal with them so you better take care of getting them fed. And by the way, I have two herniated discs and may need surgery. 

And with that - exit stage right - I huff my way back to the basement to deal with my bills and email and feel sorry for myself.  Amazingly, I did not break down in tears. In fact, I didn't remain angry or upset for more than a few minutes.  Right now I am feeling very grateful that I have the ability to give myself a reality check. I am grateful that I can choose how I will react to what life has thrown at me today and that I can change my attitude when necessary.  Tomorrow I will check to make sure the payments go out.  Tomorrow I will go to the bank and get us cash so we can survive the weekend sans credit cards.  I will pay the $230 in interest and late fees and chalk it up to another life lesson learned the hard way. I am grateful that we both still have jobs in this economy and that while the $230 will hurt, it will not mean my children go hungry (by the way, Jay fed them). Next Tuesday I will get that injection and pray that it works so I don't need surgery.  I am very lucky to have good insurance coverage that will take care of this little medical issue.  And life will go on. The world as we know it is not coming to an end.  And my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day ends on an up note.  Thank you Universe for the abundance in my life and for the ability to see it.


This is a three page layout from Ali Edwards "Yesterday & Today" class at Big Picture Scrapbooking.  In this series you can literally watch my family grow up.  I have to say that I am really loving this class!  Ali's approach to documenting stories is so inspiring.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Two Years Ago Today

My kitchen looked like this:

The stove, sink, and fridge were the only functioning items.  No cabinets, no countertops.  And I cooked a traditional Thanksgiving meal for my family in this kitchen! (a drywall scrap placed on top of the non-functioning dishwasher served as my countertop/prep space).

We served our Thanksgiving meal here:

in what used to be our dining room (now it is an office) on our old kitchen table, where we also had the benefits of a microwave oven and toaster - and most of the kitchen cupboard contents stored in boxes under those tables. We ate off paper plates and made do the best we could for being under construction.

Today my kitchen looks like this:

It will be my second year preparing Thanksgiving in this beautiful space.  And it was worth every second of the pain we went through two years ago.  I LOVE my kitchen.  The photo is taken from the sunroom/dining room which is the new space we added during the construction. 

This is where I'll be serving Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Two years ago we could only dream about how much we were going to love this new space in our home.  Today I can't imagine life without it.  At the same time we were under construction, Sarah was busy checking out colleges and trying to decide where to attend.  Had we known at that time how much her tuition was going to be, it is unlikely we would ever have undertaken this project. I'm so glad we didn't know.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Where Are You Christmas?

Every year around this time (post Halloween, pre Thanksgiving), I begin to struggle with finding and maintaining my Christmas Spirit. I really relate to the words of this song from the movie “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”:

Inevitably, once I start focusing, I find my Christmas spirit. It really is just a matter of digging myself out from under the commercialism and thinking about what the season means to me and how I want to honor it. Last year I did two things that have made a HUGE difference in how I approach this season.

1. I made a conscious decision to TAKE BACK my Christmas. I used to be so stressed out with plans and preparations that I didn’t get to enjoy the holiday. Through a class at BPS called “Cut the Crazy Out of Christmas” I created a 3 ring binder Christmas Planner. It includes great forms for organizing and planning every aspect of your Christmas holiday. The Planner is reusable by simply printing out new forms each year. You can find similar forms and ideas here.

2. I combined ideas from Shimelle – Journal Your Christmas and Ali Edwards – December Daily to create a daily journal of the month of December that allowed me to be fully present in each moment and each tradition throughout the holiday season. I LOVE my Christmas Journal from last year and am doing the same thing this year.

I have one major new goal for this Christmas. I want to AVOID EXCESS. Christmas in the past few years with my three teenage daughters has felt like a lot of excess with little appreciation - they just EXPECT huge amounts of stuff. I want to buy less and not feel guilty about it. And I’d like to make the gifts more meaningful. Now to figure out how.... I could use some help on this one - Any ideas on how to sell less gifts to three teenagers??

Monday, November 16, 2009

Leadfoot and Fraidycat

I'd like to introduce the two newest drivers in my household.

Leadfoot, on the left, has wanted to drive since she was - oh - about six.  Now that she has her learner's permit, she asks to drive EVERY time we are headed out anywhere - to the point of being annoying.  Mainly because she gets really pissy when told no.  For example, on Halloween - it was dark and rainy and there were hoards of little kids out walking.  And she was angry that we wouldn't allow her to drive home from Dairy Queen. When she does drive, she is actually not bad.  Although she isn't nearly as good as she THINKS she is.  She's more of a natural than the older sib who has had her license for 3 years now - except for the leadfoot thing.  As a brand new driver she already has it in her head that she should be driving at 5 miles over the posted speed limit, regardless of the road conditions.  So I'm hanging onto the door, pumping the invisible brake on the passenger side of the car, and holding my breath - all while gently reminding her "you need to slow down, the road here isn't in good enough condition for your speed."  I'm thinking when you become a parent of teens, you should be able to purchase an upgrade kit for your vehicle that includes a brake and a kill switch for the passenger side of the vehicle. But so far I've survived. Although I'm sure I've sprouted a few extra grey hairs in the process.

Fraidycat, on the right, is an entirely different story.  Could. not. wait. to get her learner's permit.  Was quite put off when we couldn't go out the day after the 16th b-day because a physical was required.  Since getting the permit...she has not asked once to drive.  Not once. She has been out in Dad's car just around the immediate neighborhood. I offered to let her drive my car to her boyfriend's house this weekend.  She said "I can't drive that boat! I haven't even driven your car yet.  I need more practice in Dad's car before I can drive your car."  The literal translation of all that is this - she is afraid to drive.  She wanted the status of having the permit.  She really isn't all that interested in driving.

Such is the life of a mother of teens.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Five on Friday

1.  This video always makes me smile.  And I LOVE the song!

2. My newest digi goodness purchase from Scrapbookgraphics

I don't really even have plans for a "Twilight" layout (although I loved the series!) but I just adore the color scheme and alpha in this kit.  It is so yummy.  I'm sure I'll find plenty of uses for it!

3.  A fun little time waster.  Go to Google via this link. Type in any search and see what you get.  Go ahead.  Do it now.  I'll wait.  So what did you get?  I typed in "Pottery Barn Teen" and got search results for "Where do I hide the bodies?"  You actually get the results of the search from the person before you.  Type is something totally wacky so the next sucker has some fun.

4.  Totally enjoying the blog posts of my fellow classmates over at Shimelle's Blogging for Scrapbookers. A shout out and THANKS! to all of my classmates who have been visiting my blog and leaving comments.  This is such fun.  My favorite post for today comes from Enjoy The Ride Today whose post "Stuck with No Style" really struck a chord with me.  Got me thinking - what is my scrapbooking style?  I'd have to answer honestly it is "Class du jour".  But it is always fun to  emulate the styles of your favorite scrapbookers for a while.  Left to my own devices it is simple, linear, totally lacking in white space.  I have some growing yet to do.  How about you?  What is your scrap style?

5.   "In the end, the only thing you really own is your story."  This quote comes from the character of The Drover (well played by Hugh Jackman) in the movie "Australia"  .   In her class "Yesterday and Today" over at Big Picture Scrapbooking, Ali Edwards is focusing on using photos & words to tell a story.  And that is really what scrapbooking is all about.  Photos and words - and ultimately stories. And there is no one better suited to tell your story than you.  Food for thought.  What do you think?  Do you scrap to tell a story?  Or is it more about the product and the creativity? What is the last layout you viewed (someone else's or your own) that really spoke to you or touched your heart?  Link me up!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bambi Alert Level - Orange

I am personally advocating for a Bambi alert warning. Seriously. The DHS issues terrorism threat levels; news stations issue alerts for pollen counts and UVA/UVB levels, weather forecasters alert for tropical storms, hurricanes, flash floods, and tornadoes. And I have been less threatened by all of those things combined than I have by the local deer population in the past week. Studies show that most vehicular accidents occur within five miles of home. Now I know why. It all started this past weekend. Driving home, I turned into my neighborhood and there on the front lawn of a corner home is Bambi, looking all lost and confused. Poor thing. What is it doing in my neighborhood? Bambi didn't bother me, I didn't bother him, we went on our merry ways. In fact, I felt a mild sense of awe from this unusual sighting. Fast forward to Wednesday evening. I'm heading out to Zumba class. I don't want to be late because I'll have to stand in the back where it is harder to follow the dance moves. I'm chugging along Branch Avenue when I see Bambi, far enough in the distance for a controlled slow down, as Bambi leaves a front yard, crosses Branch Avenue, and heads into another front yard. Headed where??? I'll ponder that another day, I don't want to be late for Zumba, remember?

Allow me to put this all in context. I live in a small rural suburb. We have farms and small wooded areas within a couple miles of home. But my immediate neighborhood is a twenty-plus-year-old bedroom community. Surrounded by other bedroom communities, the newest of which is probably fifteen or so years old. So it isn't like we tore up Bambi's forest and left him homeless in the last year or two. We're established. Been here awhile. We've been living in harmony with the local wildlife for quite some time. And honestly, in twenty plus years I've never seen deer in my own neighborhood - until this week.

So tonight. I'm headed out to pick up my daughter from Pizza Hut. On Callowhill I catch movement in my peripheral vision. Before I even have time to react, Bambi is running across the street smack in front of my Honda Odyssey. I slam on the brakes. Bambi passes within a foot of the front of my van, crosses in front of oncoming traffic, and disappears. After I manage to push my stomach back down from its new position in my throat, I continue my journey. That is three times in one week that Bambi has interrupted my travels. A couple miles down the road my heartbeat slows back to its normal rhythm. By the time I arrive at Pizza Hut, I realize that I may be suffering from a mild case of whiplash. Or post traumatic stress syndrome. Or just plain freaking out. You pick. In over thirty years of driving I have never hit an animal. It's a record I'm proud of. And I'd like to keep the winning streak intact if it's all the same to Bambi. So surely a "Bambi Alert" status isn't asking too much - is it?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


that are INSPIRING ME RIGHT NOW. Every day I try to find time to check facebook and to blog hop. Usually I can find sources of humor (I mean the total laugh out loud variety), inspiration, and love. It's kind of a guilty pleasure that is part of my daily ritual, but it does help keep me happy and grounded. Today I am being inspired by:

1. The Happy Self - Normally I would shy away from sharing anything that has even a hint of religious or political content. But when a post makes me pause and really think, I know it is meant to be a learning experience for me. Dayne, who usually discusses happiness on his blog, in this post talks about the book On Life After Death by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and interviews someone who had a near death experience. For me, the crux of this particular post really lies in your definition of spirituality. While I do not subscribe to any organized religion, I do consider myself a very spiritual person. This quote from Teilhard de Chardin really sums it up for me: "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience." If that quote peaks your interest, check out Dayne's post. If not, skip it. I promise it won't hurt my feelings.

2. The Art of Choosing Joy - I have followed Kolette's blog for quite some time now and her positive attitude about life never fails to boost my spirits. Today's post, "The Gift of Gratitude" is no exception. She offers the idea of giving "Gratitude Journals" as gifts this holiday season and includes several different photos and ideas for creating them. And they are GORGEOUS!

3. Ali Edward's "Yesterday and Today" class at Big Picture Scrapbooking. I'm really enjoying Ali's templates and word art and the ideas she gives us for layouts. Here's my latest layout:

And yes, the blonde with the sun suit falling off her shoulder is me!

4. The many blogs of my classmates in Shimelle's "Blogging for Scrapbookers" class. Among today's favorite posts are Stop, Drop & Roll and Brought to You By the Letter "B".

5. My never-fail staples: Stacy Julian, the Queen of "Simple" - a scrapbooking philosophy that speaks to my soul and Cathy Zielski, Design Guru and generally guaranteed source of morning chuckles - friend her on facebook (it makes her feel popular) and you'll see what I mean!

Now if you actually take the time to click through to all those links and don't manage to find at least one thing that makes you smile or laugh or speaks to your soul - well then we simply have nothing in common and I guess you might as well skip over my "favorites" lists in the future!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Random Facts About Me

This was Ali's template for the week from the "Yesterday and Today" class over at BPS. We're working on layouts without photos. I scraplifted the idea from another class participant to put the small headshot in - just as an accent. It was a lot of fun thinking up totally random facts about myself to include in the layout. Template - Ali Edwards. Papers - LivE Designs "Windsong" collection. Fonts - Constantia, Ali's Hand, and Justus (for the numbers).

Technology Never Ceases to Amaze Me

As part of Shimelle's "Blogging for Scrapbookers" class, she introduced us to Google Reader. I'd heard of it, but had never attempted to use it. I have about two dozen blogs that I follow regularly which I'd simply kept in a "favorites" list in IE. The same list is for the most part duplicated on my own blog in the Sidebar. Blog Hopping (which I do while eating breakfast, mainly to get more morning chuckle) meant signing onto IE - clicking through favorites, blogs, and clicking on an individual link, checking to see if anything new was posted, then going back up to favorites and clicking on the next link. Not exactly effiicient. With Google Reader you subscribe within the reader to all your blogs and then use the "next" function which clicks you through to each blog that has new content posted (conveniently skipping over all the ones with nothing new to say). No need to check them all! Here is what my Google Reader screen looks like:

Thanks to classmate Heather for compiling all of the blogs from the class members, I was able to pull in everything from the class in one folder and I now subscribe to 234 blogs! It is insane to think that I will be able to keep up with that many, so I'll be whittling the list down as class proceeds, deleting those that don't post and keeping those that catch my interest. But now I can see who has updated without clicking through a list of 234 links! yeah!

A funny thing happens as you are clicking the "next" button in Google Reader. It takes you through all the blogs in your subscription list that have updates. When you subscribe to 234 blogs, this can take quite awhile and if you have a life at all (which amazingly I do), you may find it difficult to get to the end of the updates. If you only had a dozen or so blogs to follow, I imagine getting to the end wouldn't be all that difficult. When you do finally get to the end of the updates and click next, here is what you get:

I admit this made me chuckle. Someone at Google really thinks they are clever. Especially since we all know there is NO "end" to the Internet. It is infinite - like the Universe. Isn't it? Go ponder that one for awhile. Hopefully I'll be back later today (or tomorrow) with some scrapbooking to show off.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Free Class at Jessica Sprague

Registration for Jessica Sprague's newest class "Holidays in Hand" is now open! And it is a FREE class with no limits! I'm posting the link because I have LOVED every class I've taken at J.S. and have no reservations about recommending her site to anyone. If you are at all curious, click the link and check it out. What do you have to lose?

Blogging For Scrapbookers

Shimelle's class - Blogging for Scrapbookers - started today (hey, it's not too late to join me - you can find all the info to sign up here!).

Why this class? Why now? Well - I've just passed my one year blogiversary and I'm trying to figure out if my blog has lived up to my expectations for it. I began blogging to share the scrapbooking that I'm doing and to share what is going on in my life. I've done that - not consistently, but I've done it. And I've had some good posts. Yet there is this nagging little bit of discontent about my blog. I still haven't figured out how to put up a real header. I still haven't figured out how to make it pretty.

And I have to be honest - I LOVE comments! When I make a blog post and get no response, I'm actually disappointed. Which is silly if I'm doing this blog for me. Not so silly if I'm doing it for reasons I haven't articulated - like for validation, to find kindred souls, to connect with a world larger than my own circle of influence. And when it comes right down to it, this may be the unspoken reason behind my blogging. Having said that, my reason for taking this class, and what I hope to gain from it, is to take my blogging to the next level. I want to create blog content that people will actually want to read and respond to, that is still true to my authentic self, and that will become the foundation of future scrapbooking. Although sometimes, it will be my scrapbooking that becomes the foundation for a blog post. Hopefully each creative outlet will feed the other! I'm not promising to blog daily (I don't want to bore anyone to death and I DO have a life). But I am promising to put a little more effort into future posts. Hold me to it, okay?