Tuesday, December 30, 2008

look at me! I am scrapping!

Ahh it feels good to sit down and do a bit of a digi page today. Normally the last 2 days of the month I am running around like a crazy woman working on the magazine; however, it is all done! Early, even!

As a reward, I let myself go shopping in the wonderful digi designs in the Scrapstreet store. I fell in love with Whoville by Ginger Scraps and happily scrapped this layout:

And then I spent an hour or so popping by some of my favorite digi blogs checking in on everyone else's holiday. I found a great drawing over at Rhonna's new blog (click me) and I found a new (to me) inspiration blog (click me).

What an enjoyable evening!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Secret Santa

Oh what a bad blogger I have been!

ScrapStreet did our annual secret santa and it was tons of fun! I, of course, messed up for the second year in a row. Last year, I sent my gift late. This year, I was early. Still, we all managed to have a ton of fun.

Meesh is amazing at setting up a good time. She has elves and zany ideas and keeps us in stitches even when we are feeling the holiday stress.

My santa started with sending some cushy socks and some yummy lotions. They arrived just in time to start my holiday spirit. A week later were more socks and a cute silver star. And then a gift certificate for scrappy goodies!

I was already spoiled when this arrived:

I just wanted to sit and hold the pretty package for awhile. I am so in love with the gorgeous tote. I have a large obsession with organization and this bin is perfect for me. Look at those wonderful patterns and warm colors.

Inside was a whole spa! Lotions, potions, pedicure and manicure tools and yummies, plus some fabulous silver jewelry, scrappy pretties, and gifts for Allie and Zack. Allie loved her new earrings and necklace and Zack was in heaven with his Star Wars Lego set.

And, if all that wasnt enough, she made me my fave snack in the whole wide world: choc covered pretzels. The family keeps looking at me with puppy dog eyes, but I am not sharing.

So, who was my Secret Santa? The fabulous Brianne. I adore her and have felt such a connection since we first met. She really feels like a little sister or like the Sex & The City gal pal that would have rounded out my single years. Oh the trouble we would have found. I feel so blessed to have her in my life. Thanks, sugar!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Zack's new room

As we completed Allie's room, Zack stepped right up to begin the planning of his room. He was more than ready to leave behind the nautical nursery in favor of a "fancy" room. His favorite colors have not wavered since he first learned his colors: black, white, and gray. At first, I thought maybe he might be color blind, but he is not. He simply loves the classics. When asked why, he will tell you that they match everything.

As we searched through magazines and online sites searching for ideas, he was drawn to rooms in these three shades but with pops of bright colors. He debated between red, lime green, and orange finally selecting orange. When I mentioned it to Drew, he rolled his eyes and said incredulously, "a Halloween room?" I assured him that we could make it less than scary.

We started with painting horizontal lines just like Zack's favorite shirts (yes, that was with an s) keeping black around the window as a feature. With a strong neutral base, we were able to have fun with the orange pops--and can easily change them out if his color changes later. My favorite is the layered rugs with round oranges on the black and white stripes. Here is the view from the doorway:

We did a good bit of "recycling" in the room. I recovered this chair in black cord and repainted the bookcase from my office. We still need to merchandise the shelves, but I just couldn't wait to share! This is his reading nook:

Wall art for a mere $20. I used postcards from Ikea; each one has little squares of numbers on them in colors that coordinate with the room. Zack loves his numbers! They alternate with mirrors which appeal to his desire for a bit of sparkle in everything. They decorate the wall above his bed.

The last wall is his new built in desk. I used two shelving units (which used to hold my scrap papers until I got a new closet unit for my own birthday) and one piece of coated wood cut by the friendly folks at Home Depot for me. Two extra brackets keep it safe and a smidge of caulk made it look finished. I am still working on desk accessories, but the magnetic strips and board are a great start. There is a rolling office chair (just like daddy's) tucked in there. Allie gave it a test drive with her homework today and declared it perfect.

There you have it. A room simply perfect for my boy. And arguably the best decorated room in my entire house. He definitely has style!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Allie's earrings

This week was a big one at our house. Allie decided she wanted her ears pierced, much to the surprise of the rest of us.

Many times, I have told Allie the story of getting my own ears pierced. The rule in our family was that you had to wait until you were 13 years old. I waited. I did not want to, but I did. On my birthday, we headed to the mall for the big event. My tummy jumped with excitement as I chose my earrings--the ones I would get to wear the next week on the first day of school. I was the last girl in my class to have my ears done.

Moments after having my ears done, my dad turned to my 11 year old sister and asked if she wanted hers done too. I about fainted. Of course, she jumped at the chance to break the rule. I decided at that exact moment that my daughter could have her ears pierced anytime she wanted.

Perhaps some people would have changed their mind about such a thing as they aged, but not me. I wanted it to be my daughter's decision. The first time Allie brought it up, she was six. And she decided not to have them done. Last year, Zack chattered on and on about a little girl in his class with her "sparkly" ears. Allie thought about it again, but decided no.

This week, she asked if she could have them done now. I asked if there was a reason why she was interested. The answer: "I just think it is time." We headed to the calendar and found that Friday was our first day with available time for a trip to the mall. All week I waited for her to forget or change her mind, but instead she grew more and more excited.

She skipped home from the bus and raced into the house already calling out my name. "Let's go, Mom!"

Likety split, we were out of there. During the twenty minute drive to the mall, she told me how her tummy wasn't even nervous yet. Allie is a big one on listening to her tummy. It tells her when something is going to be too dangerous. So far, the tummy was not even upset.

We parked and walked into the mall heading for Libby Lou--her favorite store in the whole wide world. We stopped outside to look at the ear piercing sign and give her a chance to back out. "The tummy is only a little nervous now, Mom, we are good."

She chose multi-colored flower earrings in gold. While we waited for the paperwork, I snapped our before shot:

We filed the paperwork and made dots on her ears picking the perfect spots. Amanda, our trusty sales lady, held the gun to her ear. I held my camera. Allie held onto the arms of the chair. One, Two, Three and it was done. Switch to the other side and zip it was all over.

Allie was just glowing! She was so proud of herself for making the choice and sticking with it all the way to the end. And she loves the look of her sparkles. As we were leaving the store, she was already on the phone calling Grammy to spread the news!

Of course, we had to celebrate the day with a little shopping. We both added a pair of boots to our shoe collection. Allie found a darling hat. I added a new sweater and a couple of pairs of pants. A successful trip all around.

I love having a daughter!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Bit of Paris

We survived! We spent the entire weekend working, but we finished Allie's room. We started it for her 8th birthday (ok, so she is 9 now, what's your point?) and then we left the final touches undone. The ones that really make it a complete room. So this weekend, we hauled the already purchased fabric out of the back of my craft closet and got to work.

The built in shelves got a fresh coat of white paint and some serious editing. We also finished the valence and stitched up some new pillows for the window seat. Spray painting the baskets black and adding tags really completed the look.

The vanity is a huge improvement! We added in some small drawers under the shelf to organize all her Allie's hair and jewelry items. Then we stitched up this darling full skirt. The stool fits underneath when not in use.

The bed is curtained all around now with new pillows hidden inside. The picture is not as strong, but the delight on Allie's face as she hides inside her lounge more than makes up for it.

It was a long weekend, but it is so worth it! Of course, Zack has plans for his room, too. I need a nap!

Monday, September 29, 2008

a boy and his shoes

Zack has very strong opinions on his style. He prefers solid color on color ensembles--blue shorts with blue top instead of blue shorts with a white top. He also is into a couple of pairs of slip on tennis shoes. One set he found at Target and wore all summer until a neighbor brought over a hand me down pair from her son.

From that moment on, it was all about the "checker shoes." Black and white are his favorite colors (don't get me started--we have an ongoing discussion on why he cannot have a bedroom with black walls and white marble tile floor. The boy is SIX!) so these shoes are everything he could want in a pair.

We were waiting for the bus when he asked me to head back in and grab my camera for a "shoe shoot." Yep. The boy has my number. He had a ball spinning and kicking in the shoes. I cannot wait to make a layout to capture this memory.

I am certain with such a stylish son, I will have many a layout dedicated to his changing "looks." And I am looking forward to it!

Friday, September 19, 2008

rain, rain go away!

It rained all week long, but when the sun peeked out long enough for me to get on a plane and make it safely to Pittsburgh for Erin's wedding. Mom's flight also made it out of the rain on time. It was wonderful to get to spend some time with her. I cannot remember the last time we were together without the kids. We had such a good time!

Right before the wedding, Drew called to let me know our house was washing away. After a few minutes of questioning and calming him down and we figured out that what was really happening was around 6 inches of water in our lower level. Eeek! That would be our family room, playroom, game room, and my scrap room. I went on to the wedding and reception and he went to work with the wet vac.

On Sunday, I got an earlier flight home to help. The yard was a complete swamp and the water was still coming in. It rained the first half of Sunday, keeping it coming. We finally got all of the water up in time for Sunday night football. Monday morning brought more rain and more work. I spent most of the week alternating between scrubbing and drying everything in sight.

Allie loved having a swamp in the backyard. This is a shot of her playing Monday afternoon. Much of the water in the yard receded by then, but there was still enough for her to splash around in. How could I not see the bright side of the rain with such a bright child in my life. She is my own ray of sunshine!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

hide and seek

Zack loves the 15 minutes we spend playing outside before his bus comes. First, he picks all of the dandelions he can find and we blow the "old" ones and use the yellow ones to color a patch on the sidewalk. He calls it our sunshine spot since it is tinged with a bit of dandelion dye.

After that, Zack is ready for a bit of hide and seek. See how good he is at it:

We do a bit of running around trying to catch each other. Of course, when I catch him, I get to tickle him until he squeals at me. Pretty soon we see the lights of the bus at the stop before us and he turns to me all serious to give me my reminder, "Mom, I will wave to you from my seat. Make sure you are at the bus stop after school to ask about my day."

I reassure him that I will and he hops right up those big steps looking oh so young. Tomorrow, I work and Drew will be in charge of getting Zack onto the bus. I wonder what they do for fun first?

Monday, August 25, 2008

that's my girl!

Snapped this picture of my nutty daughter having her after school snack today. She insists she was so worn out from her rough Monday that she couldn't even lift her glass. I have to give her credit for using her problem solving skills! Wonder how many straws she fit together for that kind of reach?

Digi kit is Shabby Pickle Cherry Pick'en.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Back 2 School

The time has come! This week was the first week of school for my angels.

Allie is a fourth grader (where did the time go?) and is in Mrs. Carter's class. She was very excited to have her since she is the adviser for the 5th grade Drama Club and my little actress wants to start brown nosing already. Allie was a bit bummed to be separated from all her best buddies from last year, but is already telling tales about her new friends. She is, after all, a social butterfly.

Zack started his very first day of Kindergarten on Tuesday. It was bring your mom with day and we had fun touring his classroom and finding his way around the school. Then he had Wednesday off to "recover". But when Thursday dawned he was more than ready for the bus to arrive to take him to school. So ready, in fact, that he began asking if it was time for lunch about 20 minutes after he finished breakfast! Soon enough, the bus came and off my baby went.

I would like to say I spent the next hour sniffling and pondering how my little pumpkin was surviving without me, but the truth is I headed for a nap. I had my own back to school dinner and meetings and such stretching out late that night.

Zack is in a total Spanish immersion program taking him from Kindergarten through 5th grade with the goal of providing him a completely bilingual experience. We are thrilled for him to have such a wonderful opportunity. Each day he is teaching the rest of the family something new. How cool is that?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's a summer thing!

Super hot day. One hose. Two kids. And endless hours of fun. I swear my kids will play with the hose until the entire yard is a marsh. They swap out all the different sprinkler heads that we own and take turns running, leaping, giggling, and tasting. In the end, they turn back to the traditional--the plain old regular hose. And they love it.

Summer just rocks!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Allie's birthday!

Is it possible that my baby is really NINE? She is pretty sure, but I think we must have counted wrong. Where did these last few years go? zoooooooooooom!

We had a Hannah Montana day--watch, tshirt, dolls (looks like barbie to me), doll clothes. All Hannah, all day. Everything except music. For that she prefers Taylor Swift.

Here is the birthday girl:

Monday, July 21, 2008

broken ribs suck!

ok, so this is not the first time I have broken a bone. I have done the arm. the toes. a finger or two. No, I am not a total clutz, but an athlete is going to be injured. When you break something it hurts. A whole lot. But then, you cast or splint it, baby it, and it only hurts when you bop into something or touch it a bit too hard.

Ribs are NOT the same. You are not allowed to baby them since if you do not breathe with nice full lungs, you will breed lovely lung mucus. Ick! So you have to keep breathing and are not permitted to wrap or cast those ribs. And with every breath, the darn ribs move and they hurt. I am 5 days into this injury and let me tell you, it is not at all fun!

Oh, are you lost? My bad, let me back up a bit.

On Sunday, I played my usual beach volleyball. Three games with the team and then three games pick-up. The team games rarely include collisions since the boys on my team know that I will cover my area just fine. But sometimes in the pick-up games, people come over to "help" and there is a crash. Had one and it hurt, but I thought I just bruised my ribs.

Monday and Tuesday, they were sore. Wednesday was the next game. Played just fine, but noticed that when we would have a good volley and my breathing would get deeper, it would hurt. Kept playing. After 6 games, I headed home and couldnt even get into the shower. Was afraid I would pass out.

Off to the emergency room I went to discover what had probably been cracked ribs on Sunday were now broken ribs. Two of them on my right side. As I am right handed, this means anytime I do anything with my right hand, it is going to hurt.

Vicodin was the drug prescribed and off I went. Took two and started the final preparations to get my house ready for company. A bit of sweeping and mopping and bed making. A few errands. All good. 4 hours later--another pill and into the car to pick up all my friends. Dinner and giggles (which hurt even with the meds) and off for another pill and sleep.

Morning on Friday brought breakfast and a pill. Off to the Craft and Hobby Association trade show for a day on my feet wandering around. Luckily, my girls did the fetch and carry portion for me. Had lunch and another pill. Following all the rules--actually taking less meds than prescribed.

Halfway through Friday, it happened. One of the ladies flipped around with her arms full of goody bags and nailed me dead on in the ribs. Saw stars. Saw my life pass in front of my eyes. Saw the white light and was heading towards it in a hurry. Friends dragged me back and into the food court. What was open? Ice cream and nachos. Went for ice cream and a pill.


Pretty darn quick, we were in the car with Katy driving heading for home. And I was GREEN. Teeth were sweating, body clammy, end was near. And we were in a construction express zone. No exit for 12 miles, no shoulder, no salvation. I am trying to lower the window. EEEk! child locks! Trying to empty a bag, but no time! yep. tossed my ice cream all over myself in the car. Lordy, was that embarrassing. Oh and messy.

Got home and spent the rest of the night running to purge. Tried just a simple tylenol the next day and that worked out no better. Had to go cold turkey. Trust me, the pain of tossing those cookies is nothing to sneeze at. And you really do not want to sneeze.

So that brings us to Monday. I survived class. I survived playtime with the kids. I hurt with every breath.

And I do not care if I sound like a baby whining about it!

Monday, July 14, 2008

silly sleeping children

Here are my darling babies having one of their summer sleepovers. They absolutely love to giggle themselves to sleep and take turns "hosting" the party. Poor angel is one confused kitty hunting for her mama each night. I am pretty sure that she would prefer Allie to stay in her own bed every night. They are so cute all snuggled up together:

Of course, if you look at it from another angle, you can see that this sleepover missed the bed. Yep, they started out in the bed with the trundle pulled out, but decided that was no fun. They grabbed their video game cushion--big round one and squeezed in together.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer game

Tonight we went to check out the DuPage Dragons baseball game. Everyone should be required to spend one beautiful summer evening watching a semi pro or college ball game. Honestly. It was good family fun--felt like we turned back the hands of time. Kids were able to play in a field in sight while we watched the game and chattered together. We felt comfortable sending them to the concession stand alone. They ran the bases and had baseball signed by the team members. A little slice of perfection.

Here is a picture of me. Ok, of my wristband (yes, I got carded!). And of the hand blended margarita (so strong! yum!). And my front row seat (yes that is the dugout my drink is sitting on).

and a shot of Zack in front of the field sporting his brand new Cubs hat. He may only be six, but that is a hat purchased today from the men's department of Walmart. The boy has a huge melon!

And my little princess with her pink hat and braids looking like a diva. Of course, she sat still for only long enough to wolf down some food and then she was off and running barefoot through the fields like the tomboy she really is. Go girl!

Welcome to the world, little one

Here she is: Hannah Mary. Arriving on July 3, just after 1:30pm. Big sister Isa will be thrilled to be a big sister just as soon as she understands what that means. Mom and Hannah are home now and doing beautifully. Here is a picture of Allie holding Hannah for the very first time at just one day old. Already she is in love!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th!

My favorite holiday is here! I wish you all the best of everything today--best bbq, fireworks, weather, and fun! We started the day with our annual bike parade and penny carnival. I run the carnival every year with lots of help from mom who flies in to run our prize table. The kids play games like puttputt, duck pond, horseshoes, football toss, and a bunch more of the same. They win tickets that they trade in for patriotic prizes. Every one has a blast. We had around 70 kids from babies to teens. Thank goodness the teens take turns running the games for me!

Here are Allie and Zack from today. He drove his jeep in the parade. It was a compromise--I wanted him to be able to ride his bike, but he is just a smidge away from ready for that. I did NOT want him pulled in the wagon by Daddy. Driving the jeep was the middle ground.

Happy 4th, my friends!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Zack!

I cannot believe my baby is six today! When people used to say that your kids will grow up in the blink of an eye, I thought they were insane. Of course, at the time I was desperate for sleep since my darling boy seemed to never go more than a couple hours at a time. I was certain that each day took twice as long as it was supposed to and the nights were even longer.

But somewhere along the way (definitely after potty training since that was a loooong stretch) time began to speed up. Now, the days zip by with lots of giggles and new adventures. I love watching Zack be so excited about each thing that he learns. He has such a sweet heart and a fun way of looking at everything.

Here he is showing me just how old he is today:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My new snack

Hold onto your hats, friends o' mine. I have a new favorite snack that you will never believe! I have gone mad over edamame--a Japanese soybean. You boil it and then sprinkle with the spice of your choice and suck the beans out of the pods. I am using bbq spice and am eating half a pound at a sitting. Fabulous summer snack.

ok, it tastes and looks nothing like m&m's, but it is yummy just the same. Guess those staying at Hotel Dora next month will get a chance to find out. Don't worry ladies, after a few of my frozen cosmos, you will think they are m&m's!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

such a sad blogger

I am. Really. Ok, back to trying to stay up to date.

I spent last night scrapping digi pages and had such fun! I finally scrapped my most recent favorite picture of Allie in the dandelions. I planned to journal a bit more, but the perfect sentence came to me so I stopped there. I am sure I will print it and do it in paper, too.

I used products from Shabby Miss Jenn--Weeds n Wildflowers, Sunshine, and Flowerstand.

Today was back to school day for me. I picked up a summer class that will run for the next 8 weeks starting tomorrow morning bright and early. I am excited about it, but prepping a new class is always time consuming. Spent several hours today finishing reading my text and completing my syllabus. Fun, but looooong.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Down, but not out

hmmm who will check in here when they see the site is down?

Ok, Street Sisters, we are temporarily down right now. Take a few deep breaths. I have sent a help plea to Tony and hopefully he should flip the switch to give us more bandwidth in a few.

see, we got a smidge too popular lately. Mag is getting over one million hits per month. Site has been hopping. Fun is being had. We have upped the bandwidth each month to try to stay ahead of it, but as the end of the month draws near, we find we misjudged our needs again.

so good news/bad news.

Tony! hurry. people are emailing me at an alarming rate. *passes out chocolate*

hold on honeys!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

gotta have friends

Today's challenge is all about friends. hmm. I was always the kinda gal who had one girlfriend and a whole batch of guy friends. Why? Because guys were more fun. No drama. No mess. No weird passive/aggressive games. They just wanted to have fun.

Then, I got married and having guy friends got a bit strange. Oh, my husband's friends were fun and allowed, but making new guy friends seemed to be crossing some unmentioned married line. Luckily for me, the frat boys took over the house next door and became new friends with a hubby approval pass. Saves all those potential sticky moments, ya know.

Once married and heading down the mom and wife path, girl friends became far more important. You NEED someone who can laugh at what a moron your hubby is with you. And she can laugh because hers is EXACTLY the same. Yep. You need someone in the trenches with you. So, I started looking around and finding gals with similar interests and a similar dread of the drama.

Along the way, a strange and wonderful thing happened. I ended up without friends, but with sisters. Yes, indeedy. I still have my special sister of the heart from childhood. Hi, Katy! And I have my street sisters. Girls that I met online and should be just "imaginary friends" as my son describes them. But, they are not. They are the first people I talk to in the morning, the last ones I whisper to before bed. They are the ones who giggle at all the stories of my life and tease me about all my blond ways. (I know, Linda, plugging the slow cooker in does help with the dinner success.) They are the ones liable to give me a call or drop me a little happy mail (beware of wax candy!) just exactly when I need it most. They motivate me, inspire me, cry with me, laugh at me, and love me for just who I am.

Wow, I am such a lucky girl. Smooches!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Say goodbye to clutter

Love today's challenge! I admit that I used to be the worst packrat. Nothing could leave my house since I was sure I would need it someday. And then my house was sooooooooo overstocked that I couldn't find anything I needed. Horrible circle that was to be caught in.

In most every area of my house, I keep only the bare minimum. Cept for one. Can you guess?

Yep. The scrap room. I know I still keep more stuff here than I really NEED. But that is what this challenge month is all about, right? Meesh tells me that she is almost out of scrap supplies and actually needs her kit this month. As in can't scrap if she doesn't get it. How proud am I of her. Ok, so I know that she lives an hour away from any shopping and would never have gotten in this predicament if not for that. Still, she could have chosen to hold onto her precious supplies so she didn't run out, but instead she whipped them out and scrapped them. She is my SHERO!

How to rid myself of the clutter? Scrap! Bringing things out and putting them in the use it or RAK it pile. And scrapping every day, too. Big crop weekend this weekend and next weekend. Bet I can make a big dent in my clutter.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Re: Re

So today's challenge is to RE. rethink, redefine, & renew.

hmmm. what to do with this?

My area of change was to be a better blogger. Think I am going to need more. Think I will challenge myself to be a daily scrapper.

I used to be really good at this. Always had a page going and would finish one at least every other day. Then, I started second guessing. Is the page good enough? Is it cutting edge? Is it publish worthy? Now, I was not submitting them anywhere, but I still wanted to them to be good enough in case I changed my mind and found the perfect call and yadayaydayayada. (ok, so I am a little insane, but you knew that).

ReThink: I am going to rethink the way I scrap. I am challenging myself to always have a page actively going on my desk. I loved being a hit and run scrapper--do a bit, leave it, do a bit more.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Taking a challenge

Here I am being a horrible blogger again. It is not like I do not have a ton of stuff to say--yall know that you can't shut me up--I just forget to save something for her.

Bri to the rescue! She has made it a 30 day challenge of sorts. I adore a good challenge so here I am ready to take it on. Love you, Bri!

Today is about change. This is something I have thought a lot about lately. I made the healthy change last month--joined the healthclub and committed to going 3x a week. Joined the Frat Boys volleyball team for 2 more days a week of activity. Started grocery shopping every other week instead of every week (less snack buying that way) and are cooking meals instead of driving thru for them. Go me!

But there is always room for more change. What to pick? I know! Regular blogging will be my change right now. Can I do it? sure! will I? stay tuned . . .

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Look at me being a bad blogger! More than a week since I have been in here--and we all know that it is not because I am not online.

hmmm guess I better catch up on details.

ScrapStreet is running the Star contest and I am loving watching all the talented women scrap my crazy challenges. You know I love trying to figure out ways to get everyone scrapping on top of the box while shouting "crazy chick" at me at the top of their lungs.

Because Meesh either loves or hates me, she got me to agree to submit 5 pages each month to places other than the street. Over the past 6 months I was scrapping less than 5 pages a month so I did really need the kick in the pants. I did finish them this month, but only emailed them out moments ago. whew.

It was spring break for me this week and the average temp was around 35. sigh. I am sooooooo ready to be warm. Really really ready.

I did scrap a little something to share here today. My Alie and her indoor tulips--she just couldnt wait for the snow to melt and the outside ones to bloom. Happy Day, Friends!

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Today is a rough one for me. It is the second anniversary of the day my little brother passed away. Ivan was amazing, frustrating, silly, talented, loving, generous, annoying--all of the things a baby brother should be. He was a Navy man, a Special Education assistant, an Animal Rescue Worker, an Artist, a Musician, and a variety of other jobs all before he turned 26.

He was working at an animal preserve as a volunteer on a hot Florida day. He came in for a cold beverage, passed out, and hit his head. Exactly what caused the accident was never quite clear; perhaps heat stroke or simple exhaustion. His brain swelled and he suffered from the after effects of a traumatic brain injury from that point on. He was never again without pain, without a ringing in his ears, without medication for seizures and other problems. He suffered from short term memory loss and could no longer live alone since he was apt to forget he was cooking and leave the stove going or forget if he took his medication and take too little or too much.

For the next few years, Ivan lived with my sister Lisa and with my mom and then with me. It was not easy for any of us. My sister and I both had small children to care for, husbands who had not signed on for extra family members, and all of the frustrations of our own lives to deal with--but we managed. While living with me, Ivan was able to take some art courses at one of the colleges I teach at and I know that it helped him if only for a bit.

His death was unexpected. Early after his accident, we were prepared to lose him almost every day, but that fades with time. He was managing, although not improving. New research into TBI issues were being heavily invested in by a variety of hospitals since so many soldiers were returning home with the same problems. There was hope. And then he was gone. And my heart was broken. The hardest part for me is that I cannot remember the last words I said to him. I know it was a phone call a couple of weeks before that day, but I cannot remember and I so wish I could.

I see Ivan every single day in the face of Zack. It is impossible not to as he looks so very much like him. Zack was only a baby when Ivan came to stay with us and Uncle Ivan was too much of a mouthful so he ended up with Cool-Cool. And it fit perfectly. He was just so very cool.

Here they are Ivan and Zack both at about the same age:

And here was one of Ivan from the last summer he was with us:

Thank you, friends, for all the love and support you gave me then and today. I cannot express how grateful I am to have friends who go the extra mile to make me feel like everything is going to be ok. I love you all. And, Ivan, I miss you.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

One day later . . .

The repair man came from Sears and made the fridge all better. The bill was a bit painful, but I am just going to think of all the good Sears does for the Extreme Home Improvement show and know that I just did my part. When he finished, Repair Guy made the suggestion, "I wouldn't buy a full fridge of groceries just yet. Just in case. Start small."

Ok, so just the high priority items. Welcome to my fridge:

Can I offer you a Coke?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

And then there are days . . .

when the giggles just keep on coming.

The morning began with the alarm blaring at 6:30am. Already my mind was cursing the spring forward plan and missing that extra hour of sleep. I know that the clocks changed two days ago, but for us night owls, it takes a while to get there.

I stumbled to the kitchen to start some waffles before waking the kids. Tuesday is an 8am class day which means leaving the house by 7:15 with both kids, all our bookbags, breakfast in hand, and smiling faces. Not an easy chore on a normal day. As I am scanning the freezer for the waffles, I notice a wet sensation around my feet. Soggy socks. I look down to see a river of melted ice cream has flowed from the bottom and is racing across the kitchen floor. It is then that I realized the freezer is not at all cold.

utoh. I open the fridge side to find the same fate. Warm milk and spoiled everything. A quick glance at the clock reveals no time to clean. Cannot actually call my Dean and tell her the midterm will not be given today on account of spilled milk.

I make toast, slap some pnut butter on it, and shout for the kids to get moving. Snag some juice boxes and fresh socks and we are out the door without a minute to spare.

3 exams and 6 hours later and I am back home to deal with the kitchen. But it is not just the kitchen. I open the door to the house and the smell overwhelms me. What the heck IS that? I step in and begin walking up the stairs noticing my feet sticking. I make it to the kitchen to find that our three cats found the spilled ice cream to be far more of a reason for celebration than I did. Footprints led every which way. Over the couch and through the bathroom--sticky residue all over the house.

I rolled up my sleeves, grabbed the swiffer and got to work. 15 minutes later, I found the first pile. Oh goody, cat vomit. Always a pleasure. 10 minutes and one room later I found another problem--cat diarrhea--joy of joys. I kept cleaning; they kept spewing. I was outnumbered. For such little creatures, they sure can create volume amounts of ick.

And, to top it all off, it is my super Tuesday. The day where I stockpiled oodles of kids lessons thinking having the other days off would be fun. So out I go to drop one at religion class. Back home to tackle a room. Out to drop the next one off at Library Crafts. Pick the other back up and head back to clean another room only to find the first room is freshly christened again. Pick up at the library, drive thru dinner (hello! empty fridge), drop off at dance class and back home for more torture. One final pick up and I can now head for a much needed shower.

As of this second, I am ahead of the cat caravan, but I need to type quickly because it may not last. Wish me luck.

oh, and go ahead and giggle--I dont mind. Just please, keep your ice cream to yourself.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Another Saturday Night . . .

Ok, so for me it was a Saturday afternoon. Each weekend, ScrapStreet comes alive with scrapping challenges. Once a month, we have a good old fashioned Street Fair with games, giggles, challenges, and prizes. Other weekends it is more of a laid back scrap night--with an occasional bingo thrown in for fun. This Sat, I was in charge and chose to make it a challenge night. Two different options--Journal Journey or Bloggin Baby--each with 5 challenges to complete if you wanted bragging rights and the winning blinkie.

Of course, when the idea hit me, I spaced that we were hosting the frat boys and fratlings for a card night. How could I forget that? Kids were even having a sleep over. The race was on. Complete 5 challenges, straighten the house, pull together some snacks, answer the "how many more minutes, mommy?" question repeatedly, and stay sane. Somehow, I made it!

The layout challenge was create one in the same colors as your blog, must have journaling, and must be about you. Whew! Zack took this picture of me earlier in the week (yes, I do let my 5yo handle my Rebel!) and the supplies are from this month's kit featuring October Afternoon. I am so in love with turquoise, orange, green, and yellow as I beg for spring to arrive.

Journaling says: This photo was taken by Zack at age five. He will only agree to pose for me if I pose for him. And often his pictures are the better ones. 3/1/o8

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Life in a vacuum

Ezra Pound, a famous poet and literary critic, once stated, "Literature does not exist in a vacuum." His point was that you can never understand a story just by reading the words on the page. It is infused with the history, politics, and art of the time, as well as the author's own life. It is not what it is, but so much more.

Throughout the years since he first uttered these words, they have been transfered to refer to Art, People, Life; essentially used to point out that Nothing exists in a vacuum. (of course, if you want to go all housekeeping small change and dust bunnies exist in my vacuum). But if I stay in the philosophical, this is actually one of my favorite parts of the internet--my scrapbooking is not in a vacuum. Had I not had a community of people to challenge me, to critique my work, to teach me, to giggle over my failures and happy dance my successes, where would my scrapping be?

I am pretty sure, it would be tucked away on a shelf with other crafts that I got bored with and only visit occasionally. Crochet, candle-making, beading, quilting, embroidery all claim spots on these shelves and tend to only jump down when a specific gift is requested. Instead, scrapping claims most of my office area. My best friends are my scrap buddies, my most tortuous daily moments are scrap stories, my neighborhood is a scrap soap, my kids are scrap models. And my vacuum, well, it sits lonely in the corner waiting for my husband to come along and show it some love.

One of our current ScrapStreet calls is to use paint. I love paint, but rarely have had luck using it in my scrapping. Still, I took up the challenge--mostly because Zack said something just to perfect and it screamed for me to try again. Here it is:

Now, let's be honest. This was one of those priceless things that came out of my 5yo son's mouth as we were racing through the early morning get to school and work rush. It was not a photo time and might have been a forgotten moment if I was living in that vacuum. But instead, it was a post on ScrapStreet. And then it was a photoshoot. And then it was a layout answering a challenge. This is often how I scrap--my pages start with the story more often than they start with the photo.

My first game of tag.

Seven Random Things About Me.
here how it works:
1. Link to the person that tagged you and leave a comment on their blog, so that their readers can visit yours. Meesh tagged me!
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Share 7 Random facts about yourself on your blog.
4. Tag 7 random people at the bottom of your post, linking to their blog.
Let each person know by leaving a comment on their blog.

7 Random things about me...

1. I have my belly button double pierced.
2. I can tap dance--really well.
3. I never need to drink cause I am crazy enough sober--and will dance on bars, tables, etc.
4. Most weeks, I read 5 novels for fun.
5. I am completely addicted to television.
6. I am a nerd. really! I adore school and studying and like long division.
7. I hate to swim. blech!

Ok... so I did it! and am accepting that tagging is part of this whole blog thing so yes , this time I am going to Tag people... except all of the bloggers I know have already been tagged. Yep. I am a blog baby and have a small circle so far.

I could tag students, but somehow that seems wrong so I am stuck being it. Off to see about making new friends!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Big Girl Glasses

I did it. I headed to Target today and bought grown up bar ware. For some reason, when Drew and I registered for wedding stuff, bar glasses did not make our list. We had 3 mismatched wine glasses, a couple of novelty shot glasses, your basic household tall drink glasses, and a variety of plastic cups. Sad, I know.

Drew likes to drink his Captain and Diet Coke in a 32oz brightly colored Target plastic cup. Makes me giggle. You know the ones, right? The ones that just scream SPRING at you as you wander the isle dressed in your winter coat, hat, and boots certain that the snow will never leave and the sun will never shine again. You see them and your hands reach out and you grasp them to your poor frozen chest. Just the act of putting them into your cart gives you a breath of hope that someday soon you could be sitting in the yard in shorts watching the kids play with the hose while you sip an ice cold glass of something. So you buy them. Not because you need more cups, but because you need the promise of spring. These are my hubby's drinking cups enjoyed all year long and definitely ready for replacing by the time the next ones call to me.

But this year, after placing the fabulous new cups into my cart I took a detour into the glass ware. And I bought a nice simple box of big girl glasses. 4 beer steins, 4 wine glasses, 4 shot glasses, 4 martini glasses, and a mixing container with strainer. Yes, I did. And then (on some sort of cocktail possibility high) I headed over to the alcohol isle and picked up the ingredients for lemon drop cocktails. *snap* oh yes, I did. On a Tuesday. And I am having one tonight.

Recipe: 2 shots vodka (citrus one if you can)
1 shot sour mix
1 shot sprite
shake with ice and strain into glass.

and if you want to get fancy, put sugar on the rim of your glass.

As soon as the kids are in bed, I am pulling up a cocktail and settling in for a bit of American Idol and some relaxation. Grown up drink in a grown up glass--not that I do not remember the lemon drop body shots of my youth fondly, but in this case, grown up feels good.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

my photo studio

Making a photo studio has been on my todo list for quite some time. Reading this month's Scrapstreet mag (yes, I do read it too!) really had me eager to get to work. I was having some trouble finding the seamless photo paper anywhere close to me, so I sent a note to our photo dude, James, and he sent me to Dick Blick art supply.

Since I am not going to be doing large group shoots, a 4 ft wide by 50 ft long roll of paper would be just right for me. I headed over to the local store--only 15 min from my house and I had no clue they were there. I purchased 3 different rolls of Tru-Brite art paper: red, blue, and black for $21 each. Next stop was Home Depot for a thin piece of PVC pipe, 2 lengths of chain, and 2 hooks. Total: $9.

Zack and I took all of 15 minutes to hang our photo studio. Used the power drill to poke 2 holes in each end of the pipe and some needle nose pliers to close the chain on one end. I left the other end open so I can trade out the paper easily. Total cost if I chose only one color of paper would have been $30. Here is a glimpse:

And my first couple of shots of Zack:

Allie just got home from school and raced upstairs to change into something for her photo shoot. Excuse me! Gotta run!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Better to give than to take

Every Mommy has a little something different in their bag of tricks. We have to, after all, to stay ahead of the fray. One of my tricks is the "sorry gift" or "minutes". Let's face it--everyone hurts a loved one now and again. And when you have siblings, the now and again can come every few moments. So we moms need something in place to turn the tide.

I tend to use a lot of the same tricks that I used as a teacher with my kids--mostly because I know they worked and because I understand the psychology behind them. This one always managed to confuse students and then to strengthen bonds. In class, I called it simply "minutes."

If a student wrongs another--teasing, pulling out a chair, namecalling, etc.--typical teacher response is to punish the student that is committing the action. He took something from someone else so you take something from him. It is the "eye for an eye" mentality and is a method as old as time. It is also one that students expect. By high school, they know the punishment and commit the crime already willing to endure it (if they get caught). Early on in my teaching career, I flipped it on them. Instead of taking something away from the student, they had to give something to the student they wronged. They owed them "minutes". Perhaps 15 minutes to do flashcards or to study for a vocab quiz. Perhaps time to peer edit. Repeat offenders could end up owing lunchtime to cleaning a locker or teaching a new dance move.

Think I am crazy? You aren't the first, I promise. But it works. The students learn that if they torture someone, they will then "owe" him or her and they hate being in debt to another. And often, they would bond and realize that the person they were picking on was a real person--with feelings and intelligence. Sometimes the oddest of friendships grew from some minute requests. And I was always impressed by the things students chose.

At home, I do this with my kids. If Allie swipes Zack's outfit, she owes him 30 minutes. And he gets to choose what he has to do--anything from one of her chores to spending some special time with him. If Zack breaks one of her toys, he owes her. And if Mommy speaks crossly when she shouldn't or forgets something she promised to do, then mommy must pay up too. Works great with the hubby as well. Some of our best memories started with one owing the other some minutes. I had to learn to golf once. He had to plant roses. Giving and growing together.

So, friends, got tricks? I would love to hear all about them.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Better In Blue

During our latest shopping trip, we discovered that Zack and Allie can now wear some of the same sizes. He may be 3 years younger, but baby brother is growing fast. Both can fit in a size 7 in tshirts and workout pants, which happens to be both of their favorite outfits. They each chose 3 new suits and we headed home all happy.

Fast forward to a week later and Allie bounces downstairs wearing her brother's new pants and hoody. "Excuuuuse me," Zack announced in his best abused brother voice, "but those are MY clothes."

"I know, but I like them," she answered authoritatively, as if that was going to be the final word on the subject.

"But they are blue. And blue is for boys. Everyone knows that." Oh, isn't that cute. He is going to try logic with his sister. So young, so many lessons to learn when dealing with females.

"I look better in blue than you do." And with that pronouncement, she sashayed out of the room to search for hair bows in just the right shade.

I quickly bit the inside of my cheek to stop the laughter as he turned to me with big eyes, shocked and confused by what had just happened. I could see the wheels turning as he tried to figure out what to say to make me step in and defend his clothing honor. Finally, he sighed. "I know. Life isn't fair."

Oh my poor baby. He has already learned so many lessons at the ripe old age of 5 1/2. And life not being fair is just one of them. Today we add: girls love to swipe boy clothes, blue is for girls too, and logic may not always be your friend. Someday he will find that having a big sister gives him an advantage in dealing with women. But today is not that day.

Later that afternoon, I had a chat with Allie letting her know that we do not borrow without asking. She apologized to her brother and he received 30 minutes of her time as her "sorry gift". He chose to have her read to him and they giggled and bonded over stories. Still, when I bent to tuck him into bed, I found his other 2 new outfits tucked underneath his pillow for safekeeping.

One more lesson learned: if she can't find them, she can't borrow them. Good thinking, sugar.

As usual, I was inspired by my kids. I am certain I will scrap the story later, but first I couldn't resist making a new digi kit: Better In Blue. You can snag it in the ScrapStreet Store.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


What is a momstone? The cajones you need to be a mom? No, although those help immensely. Momstones are those milestones that your children reach that are important to you. The ones that give you back just a bit of life.

Do yall remember those first months of motherhood? With a baby in one hand and a baby book in the other? Checking to see if your precious pumpkin could lift his head or roll over at the right moment? Ah the pride you felt at those first milestones.

Momstones are even better. The first day that you wake up and do not have a diaper to change. Heaven. Never have I heard a mom say, "gee, I really miss changing diapers." And bidding farewell to the disposable pants can also mark the momstone of tossing the diaper bag. No more lugging a bag bigger than the child along with you. Other fun momstones? How about when they learn to dress all the way to shoes allowing you to shout "get ready" as you jump in the shower? Or one of my own favorites: make your own breakfast and turn on your own cartoons. Ahhh Saturday morning peace and sleep--a gift that never gets old.

Each age can bring a new momstone and allow you to reclaim a few minutes back from your busy day. From goodbye to the carseat to hello to the driver's license, each one is an important day in your life as a mom. And each one means that you are doing your job and doing it well. With a baby's first breath, Mom is needed for 24 hours a day because that little bundle is completely helpless, completely dependent. But children should not remain that way. They should grow to be independent adults and then capable of a solid interdependent relationship with their chosen love. Anyone who has ever dated a momma's boy can tell you that she did no one a favor (and they will tell you in detail. I can entertain you over cosmos for hours, trust me).

So kick up your heels and celebrate those momstones! You are not being selfish as you lounge around on the couch watching your children do laundry and fetch you a coke--you are making stronger adults. I promise.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

20 years later

I stand in front of a room of college freshmen. Only now, I am not one of them, but the professor. Yes, a full 20 years and so many of the questions are the same: do we really need a thesis? do you really have to cite your quotes? a full three pages, is she kidding? And then my favorite of them all: do we need to type this?

Now, kiddies, 20 years ago when I arrived at college THRILLED to have an electric typewriter in hand after learning on a manual one in our ancient typing classroom, I asked this question. Ok, so I only asked it during fall semester; by spring semester I understood the answer would always be a rousing yes. In the age of computers, I thought this question would be rendered obsolete. After all, my students will type texts to each other from across the room if I let them rather than speak. Yet, the question persists.

And thinking of it reminds me of how many other things have changed since I was that student. We had no internet (kind of obvious since we had no computers, but it seems to need to be said). We had to go to the library to do research and look through microfilm for "current" answers. And we had to know things since we couldn't dial up the trusty google on our cell phones. Oh, that was because we did not have cell phones. Or pagers. Or answering machines. Or tivo.

By this point, anyone under the age of 35 has fallen into a stupor wondering what we could possibly have done with ourselves. Shall I rouse them for a spirited game of pong or just let them zone out contemplating a world where coffee came in one flavor and cost a mere quarter?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

All about people

I love people. I just cannot help it; people are so interesting.

All mothers know that you put the same ingredients into making those babies of yours, but get entirely different dishes out of them. Oh sure, both of my kids are blond with blue eyes. Both will probably be tall. But they are so different. Zack is left-handed, left brained. An organized soul with a love for math, yet he has an eye for fashion and color. Allie, on the other hand, is all social all the time. With a wicked sense of humor and a sweet word for everyone, she draws people to her like bees to honey--but don't ask her to count them or she will run screaming from the math homework. These differences make them such fun to watch as they grow. Where do they stem from?

This is one of my favorite weeks as a professor. Week 3 of a new semester. By now, I know a bit about my students likes, dislikes, personalities. They have let down the "first date" front and are more comfortable being themselves. Leaders emerge, class clowns offer giggles, slackers try sliding by me with charm--ah yes, the semester has truly begun. And I am genuinely interested in learning about all of them.

The student in me is constantly studying people--live and in books--to learn more about what makes them tick. How much is nature and how much is nurture? Do we moms really have the power to create good students/citizens/people? Can we damage our children beyond repair? I have to say the answer to both is yes. But neither is as easy as society would want us to believe. Raising a good adult is a day in/day out task that is neither easy nor instant. It is, to borrow a slogan, the hardest job you will ever love. And ruining a child is not easy either. It is not because you let them watch too much tv, fed them too much fast food, or left them with a sitter for Cosmo night with the girls. It, too, takes day to day work or day to day neglect to cause to happen. So, have a Cosmo night with the girls, but don't take your little girls to Cosmo night. It is a good first step.

So, darling friends, I wonder: How do you know how to parent? Do you raise your children the way you were raised? Or the exact opposite of how you were raised? Do you feel as if you just flounder along? Do you let common sense be your guide? Or are you, like me, a student of the game?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday, the beginning.

Well, here it is. The blog. I avoided it for a long time thinking there is nothing that I do not say on ScrapStreet, so why would I need a blog? Perhaps I can find a little something new to say every day or so. It will certainly be easier for me to keep track of my goals and goodies--or at least that is what I am telling myself. So here I go into the wide world of blogging.

Be gentle with me.