Thursday, December 24, 2009

More Christmas Journal Pages & Merry Christmas!

I can't believe it is Christmas Eve already! I'm ready ... everything is bought, wrapped, kitchen stocked, etc. Now we just get to celebrate. (I hope).  Here is yet another installment of Christmas Journal pages:

Another of those "just a quote" pages from a day when I didn't have photos.

Documenting real life.  The xray doesn't belong to my kids - it was clipped out of the little booklet they give them about what to expect during & after the surgery.

Love the stockings hung from the mantle - for years they hung on the staircase because we blocked the fireplace with bookshelves to protect the girls when they were little.  Love this!

I've always wanted to document some close-ups of our stockings.  I made these (yes, said with a measure of pride and satisfaction).  We've had them for years and years now and they still look great.  At some point I need to go back and figure out when I made them.

Last one for today.  This is the paper I used for this year.  All green & red and very Chrismassy.

Now I'm off to shower and maybe do some more scrapbooking!

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Past

photo circa 1996

Christmas was so much simpler when they were this age - they believed in Santa, had no real expectations of what would be under the tree for them, and loved all their gifts (except the clothes).  Yes, this photo makes me nostalgic and missing my little girls.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Letter to Santa

Postcard is from the Cozy Christmas Postcards set by Tia Bennett available on Two Peas

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Year in Status

with thanks to Sharyn for posting the link to this cool app.  I'm even happy with most of the status posts that FB randomly selected for me.  But I'm thinking about turning this into a real scrapbook page and wondering (since you get a png file from FB) how difficult it would be to change out some of the wording...hmmm.  Or I could just be truly authentic and leave it alone.  Call it done.  It's cool just the way it is.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More Christmas Journal Pages

Yesterday I posted this page:

When it was done, I was feeling creative and decided it needed a companion, so I put together this to turn it into a two-page layout for my Christmas Journal:

The paper and frosted overlay are from Erica Zane's Touch of Winter kit. The word art is Katie Pertiet's Defining Christmas set.

Since I was on a roll, I got another two page set done:

Paper, frosted overlay, and snowflake are also from the Touch of Winter kit. Tradition font is Scriptina, journaling font is VT Portable Remington.

As you can see, my pages are getting done in really random order, but they are getting done!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Believe

Do YOU Believe?  Inquiring minds want to know. Click on the photo for a larger view if you can't read it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Blogging & Shopping

on Blogging - a case of ask and you shall receive! I love bloggers... it is so reassuring to know that even when I'm not getting heaps of comments there are people out there reading my thoughts and sharing my days. Thanks to everyone who stopped by after Friday's post and left me some love! You all made my day!

on Shopping - I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas shopping.  See if this description fits for you...

In some respects I hate Christmas Shopping - mainly because I'm a little bit claustrophobic, or maybe its enocholophobic. I find them confusing.  I'm not afraid of small spaces like elevators or closets.  I'm not afraid of people or even large crowds of people.  It's the combination I find disturbing - large crowds of people in tight spaces.  Which is why I don't shop Black Friday at the Mall.  And why when I go to convention halls, I pass right by the booths that have large numbers of people in them.  At CK Convention, you can pretty much assume that the booth with all the women elbowing past each other has the best scrapbooking stuff - or the best prices on some gotta-have-it item - but there is no deal great enough for me to join that party! And should I accidentally find myself enveloped by that party, I get a headache, feel like I can't breathe, and immediately search for the nearest "out" where I can find an aisle with some s-p-a-c-e to breathe.  I admire the women who can forge into the melee and come out victorious with that great gotta-have thing. I'm not one of them.

What I LOVE about Christmas Shopping.  That rare instance when I can find the perfect gift for someone.  And even better if it happens to be on sale.  I can go into a store having no idea what I'm looking for and, if I am lucky that day, find the perfect item beckoning to me from a shelf.  This year I stumbled into a half-price sale at a gift shop (Hallmark type store). 

In addition to finding some cute "smores" ornaments for my girls, I found a beautiful canvas print for a friend that I'm certain will look lovely in her scrap room. 

Beyond finding the perfect thing, what really gives me thrills & chills when it comes to Christmas Shopping is finding the deals. Yes, I'm a bargain shopper. With my own daughters, I rarely have the opportunity to find that perfect something. Their tastes in clothing are too specific and individual. Ditto with music, jewelry, or anything else that teenage girls enjoy. So I shop from their lists. And when I can score something off the list at a great price, well heck, that just makes my day. For example - p.j. pants - original price $29.50 a pair. Ouch. On sale at Aerie for $20 a pair. Better. With the 40% off coupon that I've been saving for just this purpose, $12 a pair. Score!

My best find so far this season:
Fuzzy Socks.  This fun little footwear was originally priced at $12.50 PER PAIR!  Are they insane?  I would never even consider spending that amount on a single pair of socks, regardless of how cute.  But at 70% off, they were $3.75 a pair.  Much more reasonable.  Take three pairs to checkout.  Hand over a store gift card and ask sweetly "could you see if there is any balance left on this card?" Understand, I've literally had this card in my wallet for over a year without knowing if there was any money on it or not. Turns out it had $9.79 on it (that's like found money to me!) My total out-of-pocket for 3 pair of fuzzy socks - $1.46.  SWEET! You've just gotta love it when that happens.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Christmas Journal - a little inspiration

On Friday, Scrap Big blog posted a quote from Dr. Suess' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas".  And I felt immediate inspiration.  As I've said, my Christmas Journal may have days where the entry is a quote and this quote spoke to me.  So I put together this page in Photoshop Elements:

Paper is from LivE's "Winter Breeze" kit at Jessica  Image of the Grinch was borrowed from Google Images. And for once I have a page done same day!  Okay, not a page about my Christmas tree, but honestly, it isn't fully decorated yet anyway.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Blogging & My Christmas Journal

I have to say that I am truly missing Shimelle's Blogging for Scrapbookers class.  During the class I posted more and I definitely got more comments! I averaged about 7 comments per post, sometimes as high as 12.  Which made me downright giddy.  Since the class ended, I'm back to no comments or 1 or 2 if I'm really lucky.  In other words, I'm back to blogging for myself.  Google Reader says I have 90 subscribers.  I'll bet about 80 of them set up Google Reader during class and never looked at it again.  I'm still using it, although I have whittled down from 300 blogs to about 30 that I'm actually following.  Hey - I made a few friends in class!

My Christmas Journal is progressing in bits and pieces (and totally out of order).  I've been seeing other bloggers' creativity as they post their pages and I'm jealous a bit.  I know what I'm doing is as much as I can handle right now, but I am really enjoying seeing everyone else kicking it up a notch.

This is the newest ornament on my tree.  It was purchased at Disney World last year when we visited in celebration of DH's 50th birthday. The tree number was an internet download, but I have no idea from where.

And here is my entry for December 5th.  We had a really pretty snowfall.  Of course it rained really hard a few days ago and the snow is all gone.  But it was pretty while it lasted.

The "White Christmas" overlay was a freebie from ScrapDolly and perfect for this photo!  click on "ScrapDolly" above to link directly to the download and get your own copy.  I love when bloggers freely share these beautiful creations!

P.S. These two photos were actually taken in color - you'd never know, would you?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Christmas Journal

My Christmas Journal has been a challenge this year.  Last year I combined ideas from Ali's December Daily and Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas.  This year I've also added Jessica's Holidays in Hand to the mix.

With all this inspiration, and not wanting to duplicate last year's album (which I LOVE), I tried to narrow down how I wanted to handle this project.  I started with this album:

It's a 5 1/2 x 8 1/2" 3 ring binder from WeRMemory Keepers that I had in my stash.  I bought a new collection - Fancy Pants Christmas Magic - that I had fallen in love with.  I even went so far as to precut a bunch of the background papers.

And that is as far as I was able to get before December arrived.  And as far as this album ever got.  Because before December arrived, reality arrived.  And I knew I didn't have the time or the inclination to be overly "crafty" this year with my Christmas journal.

Another reason this album is going no further is that I stumbled into a 50% off sale at a gift shop and found this album:

This is a simple one-up 4x6 photo album which just happens to have a gorgeous acrylic cover.  It has enough pages to do a two page spread for most days if I choose to.  But having only a 4x6 space to work with is going to really limit the amount of embellishing I can do.  Not to worry - right now I think this is a GOOD thing!  Some days I will do just a photo.  Some days I will do just journaling.  On days when I don't feel like writing or photographing, I may just add a Christmas quote.  I am determined to keep this simple and not overly stress about the content.  I just want to document our holiday season and remember to be present in the moment.  Hopefully thinking of some content to add each day will remind me to pay attention to what is happening during the day, rather than just going through the motions of living.

Here is my title page:

For reasons I cannot fathom blogger has insisted on turning this image and I do not see any option for me to turn it back the way it belongs!  Apologies if you get a crick in your neck trying to see this.  The rub-on is from the Fancy Pants "Christmas Magic" line.  The lettering  is Fancy Pants (red) and Thickers (brown).

And here is my opening page:

Just in case you can't see the journaling, it says:
1. Slow down and just breathe.
2. Remember to be present in the moment.
3. Try to see beyond the commercialism to the real JOY of the season.
4. Enjoy the time with my family.

Those are my intentions for this month.  The paper is a journal card from the Fancy Pants "Christmas Magic" line.

Finally, I leave you with my December 1st entry:

The overlay is from Ali Edwards and available at Designer Digitals.  The font is CK Ali's hand.  (Okay, I admit I love Ali's stuff!).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Cards Going Postal! (edited to acknowledge source)

Where oh where has 2009 gone?  I can't believe it is December 9th already!  As you know from my last post I entered this month feeling overwhelmed and terribly behind.  Other than my totally neglected blog and my inability to keep up with my December Journal, I do feel that I am finally making some progress on tackling the holiday "to do" list.

I managed to choose a photo and started designing a Christmas card in Photoshop Elements.  However, on my first attempt at printing on cardstock, I realized that it was literally going to take forever to "get it right" enough to print actual cards and that I would spend more in paper and printer ink than I would spend on purchased cards.  So I lifted an idea I saw on another blog (and my apologies to whomever I scraplifted this from as I honestly can't remember where I saw it!   It took a half hour of paging through my google reader one site at a time, but I found it - I lifted this idea from Sharyn Carlson - check out her card here!) and went hybrid. I purchased two different sets of cards at Target.  Printed and added my doctored photo.  And here are the final versions of this year's Christmas cards:

Keep in mind that I scanned at low res and the scan pretty much sucks.  The first one is printed on kraft colored recycled paper (the black border is the scanner - not part of the card) and the photo covers the front "Happy Holidays" sentiment.  See that white part between the two red borders?  On the real photo that actually looks like vellum and you can see the detail behind it, so it is very clear (to anyone who recognizes it) that the photo was taken at NYC Times Square.  Cool.  And serendipitous given that this is the only decent photo of all three girls together for the entire year.  They are at the age where they hate having their photo taken. Period.  Unless they do it themselves.  With friends.  Which means they are never together.

The second card was actually designed to add the photo above the "Happy Holidays" sign.  Only the snowman part opens, so barely enough room to sign - no room to write personalized messages.  The cards are now completely assembled and signed and envelopes are hand-addressed.  I still need to add return address labels, stamps, and seal.  With any luck the bulk of these will hit the mail tomorrow.

I also managed to get 5 packages out in the mail today (gifts to out-of-town recipients) and got the last one prepared and ready to go for tomorrow.  I'm feeling a little lighter just knowing that is done.  With any luck I'll be back tomorrow with an update on my December Journal.  How is your holiday season progressing?  Do you feel under control? or overwhelmed?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Road to Hell

is paved with good intentions.  You've heard this saying, right?  I don't know the origins of the sentiment, but I'm fervently hoping it isn't true or else I am definitely well on my way to more heat than I can handle.  You see, I had the best of intentions for this Christmas. Really, I did.  I planned to give a lot of handmade gifts and spend less.  I even knew what it was I wanted to create. And the gifts would have been beautiful and meaningful to the intended recipients.

Then LIFE happened. (Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans, right?)  Yep, Life. October was busy with work-related travel. I thought I still had plenty of time to figure it out.  I thought I'd get a head start in November. Then I got totally sidelined and sidetracked - by pain.  Started around 11/5.  See My Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day post if you want more details - although honestly, why would you?  So November came and went and NOTHING on that great list of handmade gifts got done.  Ideas have percolated but nothing has entered the production phase.

And here we are - December 1st.  This time last year I had all of my Christmas shopping done and was feeling really good about the upcoming holidays.  And relaxed.  I had it all under control.  It looked like this:

This year I have only just begun the Christmas shopping. Not a single internet order package has arrived (maybe because I haven't ordered anything yet?).  I still don't even have wish lists from my girls.  I just learned yesterday that I will be having physical therapy three times a week for the entire month of December.  That knocks about two hours out of each day that I go.  And looking at all those appointments on my calendar, I suddenly felt stressed, overwhelmed, out of control, and nearing panic mode.  The more I looked at my calendar, the more I realized that something would have to give.  I can admit that I'm not superwoman and I can't do it all. 

Having regrouped and considered my options, I know what is important to me is to have a relaxing holiday where I can be present in the moment and enjoy time with my family.  To do that I need to be able to take care of myself, get through the therapy and get well.  That isn't going to happen if I'm stressed out over creating gifts that I simply don't have time to create.  Especially since a lot of the gift plans involved being at the computer and right now I can't sit for more than thirty minutes at a time. So all of my good intentions have flown out the window and the road to hell is looming large.  I'm going to have to simplify and settle for what I'm able to pull together at this point.  Just Simplify.  Kind of like - just breathe. I know this is what is best for me.  And now I just need to figure out how to make peace with the idea. 

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.