Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year's Musings

I want to first say that I LOVE New Year's! The anticipation of new things to come and the changes I want to make always inspires and motivates me. I just love the idea of a whole year to do anything I want to in. I kinda feel the same way about Mondays--a whole week to either do things right or do nothing at all if I choose to. I could go on and on, but that's another topic for another day.

I've been writing in my journal a lot more to finish up an old one so I could start a new one--since I am the owner of bookbinding equipment, I made my own--and I took the time to read over it a bit. I've been keeping this same journal since the summer of 1993--so about twelve years. It seems that I only wrote in it when I was upset and wanted to complain about something. I'm a bit embarrassed to tell you the truth. I can imagine the scene now--my posterity discovers this journal amidst some family junk, and they open it eagerly, expecting some words of wisdom or at least a peek into my life. A few minutes later they'll throw it aside and exclaim, "What a whiny baby Great Grandma Dianne was!" It's true. I used the journal as whine therapy when no one else would listen.

That's another good reason to scrapbook. We may fill private journals with whining and complaining, but our scrapbooks count our blessings. We document the good, the things we are thankful for, the precious moments we want to remember. We scrapbook the funny, the miraculous and the interesting details of our lives. In short, we scrapbook the moments we are proud of. For me, scrapbooking is THE OTHER SIDE of whiny journal writing. Hopefully, my posterity will look at both--the journal and the scrapbooks, and get a fair balanced picture of my life.

So back to the new year. I have some ideas in the fire and I'd love to know what you think--One of my big goals this year is to empower women through scrapbooking. If you would be interested in some inspirational scrapbooking prompts and album ideas to come your way, let me know! Pass my blog along and let's see what people want! I'm thinking of a newsletter subscription type thingy or regular posts here on the blog. I want to make a difference in the world of scrapbooking and I want to start here. Anyway, I'm rambling....Just let me know what you think and what you would like most from your scrapbooking this year so if I can help you, I know what you need.

Any complaints you have can go in YOUR journal! (just kidding--tee-hee!)

And that's the other side.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Back to the Blog

Wow! I didn't realize it had been about six weeks since my last post. I just know that I've been feeling swamped with stuff. Not overwhelmed, just swamped. I'll post a day-by-day December calendar and it'll all make sense to you!

But first, let me say that by December 2nd my husband was again employed. He was able to fill an opening at HP with one of his past supervisors. All is new and exciting and well again. We feel blessed and watched over by our Heavenly Father.

It's Christmas Day, and it's been a lovely pleasant day filled with music, family love, the understandings of the spirit, and just right Christmas presents for all. Tomorrow we gear up for a short holiday at the Running Y Ranch Resort courtesy of our Worldmark Membership. Joy will ice skate (she loves this and rarely gets the chance) and I will use the in-room jetted tub! (something I love and rarely get to do!) Hot cocoa, Christmas gift movies and games, and a chance to get away from our regular responsibilities to just be . Should be a great time!

I have a New Year's goal of writing in my blog at least once a week. I have a lot of ideas bouncing around in my head and heart and can't wait to share them with you!

And that's the other side (for now!)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Throw me some Love

Well, it's finally happened. After living for several years with the threat of being laid off from Hewlett-Packard, it happened yesterday. On Friday, we knew that the final word in layoffs this year was coming down on Monday or Tuesday. We'd made it through 3 or 4 rounds of layoffs in the past ten years, so we weren't really worried. Joel had barely gotten to work on Monday when he got the word. Of the eight people he worked with closely, 6 were let go through a "Work Force Reduction" program. We'd been discussing all weekend what we would do if it happened, but it was still a shock. I bawled all day long.

We've never been out of work in our married lives. We (for the most part) feel hopeful and confident (and a little scared). Thankfully, HP is giving him a severance package and things won't get dicey for a couple of months. His job at HP ends on December 16th. We've talked about me getting some kind of full time job beginning in January, just to help pay down our debt (and the store's debt). If you know of any IT jobs, let me know!

We are looking at jobs all over the US. If you love your state and think we should move there, go ahead and tell me why! Then link me to some jobs I can pass on to my hubby!

Mostly, since it's early days in this layoff thing, we are feeling more like this is a good thing than a bad thing. No more sword of Damocles hanging over our heads. It's a chance to choose what kind of life we want for the next decade or so, and that kind of power IS a good thing. Joel can finally get paid market value for his work--he's been underpaid for the last 4 years, again due to HP's sneaky policies. My mom said it best when she said that the hardest part about this will be how well Joel and I work together--and that it's more important than ever that we work together and support each other. Isn't that what being a family is all about anyway? Working together, supporting each other, and choosing the future together?

Either way, I could still use some love. I tend to lean a little too close to being scared of this whole thing.

And that's the other side

Saturday, November 12, 2005

More Planners

As promised, here are some more pictures of the planners. These have the clear plastic comb binding (that is really quite kewl!).

I'm behind on my pledge to make one of these a day. Oh well. Here's to another day!

And that's the other side.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Decisions, Decisions

Well, I'm thinking of shutting down my online store. We've been losing money the last few months as sales decline dramatically. And the truth is, with all of the options for online shopping--especially for scrapbooking supplies--I don't think I will even be missed. I'm kinda bummed about that--only because I thought I was doing a good thing with my store, and I like the idea that my store mattered to people.

I think I want to go other directions. For the past few months, I've been designing scrapbooking classes people can have in their homes. I've been working on the perfect compromise between a scrapbook store class and a "home party" class. I find that I really like doing that. I want to pursue it more--just not sure how to start. I've been getting good feedback from those that have tried it. Most of them are beginning scrappers or just occasionaly scrappers, and they like having the instruction without feeling the pressure to meet sales or get a certain number of bookings to get a prize.

Anyway, if you've been a customer of mine--would you miss me? I'd love some feedback. I'll probably move to eBay for some of my inventory--less fees for now. It's funny to be on "the other side" of things and looking to change a bit. Gives you a different perspective and makes you realize that life is nothing but a bunch of choices.

And that's the other side

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Planners and Life

So, as promised, here are pics of the planners I'm making for craft bazaars this year. I'm also teaching this planner as a class at the LSS. I'm going to create a brand for them--based on my love of Italian and my love for paper. I also now own my own binding machine! (Courtesy of my sweet husband snagging it from a dusty closet at his parents house--or maybe it was his Dad's appraisal office? No matter--they don't want it and I have it...yay!) I bought some clear plastic binding combs. I thought at first I wanted wire, but after a series of mishaps at the local staples resulting in the redoing of two planners--(well actually the same planner, but it's been bound 4 times and I had to redo the covers twice because of ripping and misaligned holes--and it's still waiting to be redone because the gal at Staples tore the holes apart by accident)--I've decided to stick with the clear plastic. They look really cool! plus without a large wire, they will fit more easily inside purses, etc. These pics are of the one I made for myself--I'll get some pics of the ones I am selling in a bit.

I am putting the words "Life" and the year on the cover. I like how that sums things up--it's a little scrapbook all about our (my) Life. You have your calendar pages, and then an original menu planning/shopping pages, a page for notes, and what I like to call a "sumpin' pretty" page where you can put quotes or pictures or both.

If anyone wants one, they sell for $22. They have a library pocket on the inside front and back, and a ribbon loop closure that you stick a pen through to keep it shut. I can make it from Basic Grey, Junkitz, SEI, Urban Lily, Pixel Decor, and probably others in my stash. The calendar is a vertical or portrait orientation. (Mine is the opposite) I also use Bazzill. I hope to make a planner a day between now and my craft bazaar the first week of December.

Smiles to all! Enjoy your LIFE--however it's planned!

And that's the other side.

Monday, October 31, 2005


Well...I'm a bit discouraged right now. I really, really, really, want to enter CK's Hall of Fame contest--not because I have any expectation of winning, but because I am tired of the feeling of failure I experience every year when the winners are announced and I didn't even give myself a chance because I chickened out. This year, I promised myself I'd follow through on my desire to enter and that alone would make me a winner. So I was going down the list of requirements, feeling like each was doable--until I got to the one about needing to showcase an ORIGINAL, INNOVATIVE technique. I don't feel like I have any original, innovative techniques. I am primarily a simple scrapbooker who looks for ways to put the emphasis on the photos. I rarely distress, coat anything with UTEE, use alchohol inks on foil, or anything like that. I just don't know if I have ANYTHING like that. Unless you count the streamlined sketches I created for a class I call the "Family Yearbook."

I made up a series of ten sketches that allow beginning to seasoned scrabookers to quickly assemble scrapbook pages that are well-designed and pleasing to the eye. When I teach these classes, the emphasis is on getting a whole year's worth of pictures into an album. Not necessarily every picture you take in a year, but enough pictures to give a snapshot on what your family does in a year. The people who have taken the class are thrilled with the result, and leave with a feeling of self-satisfaction as well as guilt reduction. I tried the sketches myself to see if they would work--and I got 48 pages done in about 5 hours. Another girlfriend of mine did two years--two albums of at least fourty pages--in just a couple of weekends. The albums look great and it's a fantastic feeling to have that album finished!

So my question is: is a sketch designed for simplicity and beauty count as an innovative technique? I keep thinking about a quote from Donna Downey's blog that says that simplicity can be groundbreaking. I hope that this is the attitude of those involved w/the CK contest. 'Cause that's about all I have that's innovative and original.

If any of you blog readers have thoughts, I'd love to hear them!

And that's the other side.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Feeling TOTALLY stoked!

This has been an exciting few days for me! I made myself a planner, (inspired by Donna Downey) and showed it to my friend that owns the local scrapbooking store here. She immediately wanted one, and asked me to teach a class at her store. I'd wanted to teach there for awhile, but wasn't sure how to bring it up. Super Excitement Number One!

Next (and while I realize this is tame for some...) I figured out how to post layouts to the gallery at 2 Peas and got very positive responses for my layouts. Excitement Number Two!

Lastly, I found out that you could submit your layouts using Basic Grey products to the gallery at the Basic Grey website so I submitted one just for the heck of it. I just found out that it was accepted and I am now in their gallery! You can go to the gallery and look up my name under designers. Super Excitement Number Three!

I'll post some pics of what I've been creating later. I just had to post about this. It's what I've wanted for awhile, and I'm lovin' the recognition!

And that's the other side.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Light Show

Ode to a Glowstick

What a wonderful
Crackling sparking
Shake a little,
And for a few hours
You can hold your own

We love glowsticks at our house, and thankfully, we can get them 6 for $1 at our local Dollar Tree. Here are some fun pics from the last time we all got into glowstick play.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

How Sweet it Is's some background so you understand the magnamity of the emotions in this post. My grandmother is 87 years old. Super feisty, super smart, super lost in advanced dementia. I am her closest relative. I lived with her for several years while going to college, and in general, can trace a lot of the good things about my life to her influence. Music, writing, poetry, my husband (whom I wouldn't have met if I hadn't been living with her while going to college), etc.

About two years ago it became apparent that she was losing her grip on reality and I called my Uncle (who is the executor of her estate) to come from Spokane to get things in place before she was totally gone. That was in November of 2003. By December, she and her new husband of a couple of years had been moved from the home my grandfather built in the 1950s to an assited living community. That was tough on her, because she knew enough to know it wasn't her home, but wasn't able to stay in her home any longer. When it snowed hard that winter--and snow is uncharacteristic in my neighborhood--she was convinced she was on a Winter Holiday on the East Coast somewhere. By February, she was wandering the halls at night and going into other people's apartments and the assisted living center asked us to move her to another facility. She was moved to a place specializing in Alzheimer's and Dementia care, and that has worked out pretty well.

For a long time I was still one of the people she recognized. Me and Lloyd, her second husband. About a year ago that stopped. After I spend some time with her, I think she knows who I am, but it's hard to say. One of my duties (and it's not really a hard thing to do) is to take her to her doctor and dentist appointments. That's been a pretty good experience for the most part. Earlier this month, I took her to the dentist. It was the first time she'd been for several years. It was hard. She didn't know me at all. At first, she was belligerent and angry and refused to go. After a few minutes, we (her aid Marta and I) got her moving and in my van. Let's just say the rest of the day was interesting.

Anyway, a few weeks later it was time to take her to the doctor for a routine appointment. She wouldn't budge. No how, No way, not for anyone. Rather than force her, we decided to just cancel the appointment and go another time. I noticed that someone had left a hymnbook from our church on the piano, so I decided to play and sing to her for awhile so that at least by lunchtime she would be in a better mood. My grandmother loves music. She especially loves Church music, and spent a long, long time serving in some musical capacity. Sadly, she no longer remembers the words to the hymns she loved so well. She often just hums the alto part along with me.

Today, however, she sang every word to one hymn. Kinda in the middle of my impromptu concert, we sang all three verses to a hymn called "Count your Many Blessings." After that, nothing. Just part humming. Of all the hymns to sing, it was the one reminding you how good you have it when you think you have nothing. What a hymn for her to remember! I think that somewhere inside her, her soul is hungering for spiritual things. Yet despite everything, she is still counting her blessings.

When I left, I held her hand and asked her if she knew who I was. For the first time in a long time, I saw recognition in her eyes. She knew who I was and she knew that I loved her and I knew that she loved me. She cried a little, I tried not to, and then I hugged her and I left. It was a sweet choice moment in my life that I will never forget.

And that's the other side.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Find out what YOUR birth date means!

Here's a link: birthdate quiz



What does your birthday mean?

Your Birthdate: April 30
Your birthday on the 30th day of the month shows individual self-expression is necessary for your happiness.
You tend to have a good way of expressing yourself with words, certainly in a manner that is clear and understandable.
You have a good chance of success in fields requiring skill with words.

You can be very dramatic in your presentation and you may be a good actor or a natural mimic.
You have a vivid imagination that can assist you in becoming a good writer or story-teller.
Strong in your opinions, you always tend to think you are on the right side of an issue.

There may be a tendency to scatter your energies and have a lot of loose ends in your work.
You may have significant artistic talent and be very creative.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Not a Single Photo...

Earlier this month, we had a very nice Nelson Family Mini-Reunion. It was lots of fun and packed full of things to do. We drove to the Oregon Coast on Wednesday and spent a day playing in the surf and sand at the beach near Devil's Punchbowl. On Thursday, the older cousins did a 4-5 mile bike ride ending in a beautiful waterfront park near the Willamette River. The Mom's drove the younger kids to said park where all enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch and playing in the large fountain. It cycles through different water dances, and is intended for splashing and playing. Later that night the whole family gathered at yet another park for a free concert from the band "Asleep At The Wheel" (a great concert and a lot of fun!). Friday had the whole crew meeting at still another local park for paddle boating. WE RENTED THE ENTIRE PARK (yep, twenty or so of us Nelson's with six paddle boats and one Surfrider) for an hour, and spent the whole time wheeling around the little lake. Another picnic lunch was followed by the celebration of Grandma Rampton's 97th birthday (NINETY-SEVEN! I mean, how often is THAT going to happen?). And I didn't take a single picture.

Even though I'm a bit shocked by this (I ALWAYS take pictures--often I am the ONLY ONE taking pictures), there was a strange freedom in it. Permission to just sit and relax and enjoy rather than worrying about catching the perfect shot or wondering if my camera is going to fall into the lake, ocean, fountain...etc. So I guess the lesson here is that sometimes it's okay to let go and just be.

Just be a part of things. Instead of looking at your life through the barrier of a camera lens, just be a part of it.

And that's the other side.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Choices, choices

I've been thinking lately about the choices and paths we choose in life. Sort of a "Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Woods" kind of thoughts. (for the full poem, go here ). I've been looking at the choices I made that put me in the position to marry my husband. What if I had been more adventurous and gone to college in Ithaca, New York, or Colorado (two places I was mildly curious about) instead of sticking close to home and going to a junior college in Idaho followed by going to Reese Family Home Turf at Oregon State in Corvallis, Oregon? (in case you don't know, my grandfather was a chemistry professor there for many years, and my father went there--met my mother there--and the apartment where I was conceived has been pointed out to me many, many times...) I met my husband in Corvallis, and I have to say, that was a good road to choose. A VERY good road, 'cause he's perfect for me!

But what if I'd stayed closer to my high school boyfriend? There was definitely a time in my life where I expected to marry him. Not that THAT would have been bad, but would definitely have led to a very different kind of life.

What if I pursued my dream to sing musical theater and/or Opera? What kind of life would I have now? What if I'd been more adamant about playing sports in middle school and high school? What if I'd taken the jazz dancing classes I always wanted to take? What if I'd been able to tour Europe or go on youth hostel tours or served a mission for my church? What if, what if, what if....

I know it's cliched, but I really think that the secret to happiness in life is not necessarily having what you want, but wanting what you've got. If I were to go back (so to speak) and try to reclaim some of those set aside possibilities, what would I give up? To claim those possibilities now, I'd have to give up something. I certainly wouldn't want to give up my children. Nor my husband. I'd definitely give up the extra weight I'm carrying now because I didn't learn to love exercise and sports when I was younger. I wouldn't give up the good or the bad experiences I've had. These experiences shaped me, and I've been grateful for them.

The truth is, those two roads never really go away. There's ALWAYS going to be choices in life. Where to live, whether or not to change jobs, do we have one more baby, do I take a nap or work on chores, do I go to the store today or tomorrow...things like that. Not every choice has dramatic consequences--but we choose every day. We choose to work out our differences with our spouses rather than walk away from the problems. We choose to take care of our children with love and tenderness rather than in a place of frustration (and sometimes that's a REALLY HARD choice to make!). We choose carrots over cookies. We choose every day to be happy with what we've got.

And that's the other side.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Where there's smoke...


Yesterday I was blithely going about my morning routine when I heard a strange noise. A raspy, crackling sound, not unlike feedback from a set of speakers. At first, I thought my husband left his online game running and the speakers up and the sound was coming through his headphones. Then the crackling turned to a popping sound and seemed to get louder. I got up and went around my desk to investigate. I found smoke pouring out of the adapter for my laptop. I quickly unplugged it from the laptop and then unplugged it from the power strip and then took the stinky thing outside. I then shut off my laptop to conserve the battery.

I am now back to using my husband's computer. I've been on the laptop exclusively for about a year now. That's where all of my pictures are. All of my bookmarks (AACK! No Blog-reading for me!). My automatic login cookies. I'm feeling a bit lost.

I have since found out that my laptop (an HP zv5000) is one of the biggest power users in the laptop world (so says the seller on eBay I bought my new adapter from). Lucky me! I really should learn to do more with it....

Hopefully the seller (in Seattle) has already shipped my new adapter and it speeds down I-5 quickly. I want to go back to my own desk and be in my own computer world. It's not too bad here on my husbands side of things, but I've become more comfortable with MY things. My space, my stuff, my view of things.

And that's the other side

Monday, July 25, 2005

I see scrapbook paper....

I've become paper obsessed. Mind you, I don't want to USE any, I just want to post it up all over my office like wallpaper. And everywhere I look, I see scrapbook paper. (If you really want to be creepy, say it like the kid from the movie "The Sixth Sense"...). Seriously. I was behind a gal at church and thought her skirt would make GREAT scrapbook paper. When we went to D-Land last month, I kept seeing paper color combinations in people's clothing. I have images of myself throwing paper all over the bed and rolling in it like in that Woody Harrelson-Demi Moore movie. (Only they rolled in money....)

It's funny, how we scrapbookers become hoarders. We see ALL THIS GREAT STUFF and we just HAVE to have it, so we buy it. And then we just have it. I went to a class taught by Darci Dowdle (of SS mag) and she talked about this jokingly, "If we USE it, then we don't HAVE it anymore!" Well, yeah! It struck a chord with me, and I have been on a quest to either use it up or not buy it in the first place.

But that was BEFORE Basic Grey. Before Urban Lily. Before Wild Asparagus, MOD, Pixel Decor, DCWV Retro Stack and others. I am a paper hoarder. I admit it, I LOVE PAPER. I love the smell of new paper. I love the feel of it in my hands. I love to cut it up and make things with it. I love to hoard it. I actually have bunches of this fabulous paper made by Freckle Press. This paper is really lovely, and the company is no longer in existance, so if I use it, I can't get any more!!! This is a quandary for me, because I want to use it, but if I do, it's gone forever. Choices and decisions, decisions and choices.

In the meantime, I'll just keep seeing paper everywhere I go.

And that's the other side.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Me and Ali Edwards at the June Class Posted by Picasa

One of my favorite balloon shots. Posted by Picasa

The Balloon Lift at the Freedom Festival in Provo, UT. About 20 balloons all took off within minutes of each other Posted by Picasa

Glen Canyon. It was about 116 degrees at the time. This is at the beginning of the Grand Canyon Posted by Picasa

What a sad little blog this is!

I've been neglecting it so! Well, we went a total of 2850 miles and spent 50 hours and 20 minutes in the car for our round trip. We went to Orem, UT; Flagstaff, AZ, and Anaheim, CA. (Joel's Brother, My Parents, and Disneyland). I know the totals because our car has one of those little trip computers and a trip timer. We haven't had much use for the timer in the past, but it's interesting to use on long trips like this one. It was a lovely time, and I was very glad to get back to my high 70's, breezy and clear weather after the hot high 90's we experienced in AZ and CA. Of course, the next week here it was in the 90's, so I can't win. Ah well....

I've heard it said that you usually need a vacation from your vacation. This is true for me. I cam home and had kits to package and get out, pictures of samples to take, and a newsletter to write for the July CQ Kit Club (see my links to my store). Then I realized I didn't have anything picked for the August kit, and needed to get the pictures up for that. Then I sprained my ankle. Thankfully, I sprained it just after Harry Potter 6 came out, so I spent some time recuperating and reading. I got the kits done and out, chose the next kit, made some orders, packaged some orders, and still have a very sore ankle.

But we did get some beautiful pictures on our vacation. I'll post them soon. Glen Canyon (at the beginning of the Grand Canyon) is very beautiful and picturesque. I also got some fun balloon shots the morning we left Orem.

All in all, it was a fun family time. And that's the other side.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Hours and Hours

We've just driven from Albany, Oregon to Flagstaff, Arizona. Even with stopping in Orem to visit family, we've spent hours and hours and hours in the car. THANK GOODNESS my sweet husband upgraded our van a week before we left. If we hadn't had the dvd player that you can also hook the gamecube up to, things would have been uuug-lee!

All in all, it was a mostly uneventful trip so far. We did see the balloon lift off in Provo, Utah as part of the Freedom Festival. And Glen Canyon, at the beginning of the Grand Canyon, was VERY impressive. More pictures later.

And family. We are spending this weekend with my family. My brother and sisters and their spouses and their children. Really, there's nothing like family. It makes driving about 24 hours total worth it.

And that's the other side.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Oh Wow!

Had the best time this weekend. I went scrapping with some of my girlfriends from my ScrapDivas of Oregon group. Laughed till I cried, and got perilously close to that giddy place where your laughter is uncontrollable, unstoppable and just plain scary! Thanks G, JenO, Susie, Wendy, Linda, and Krystal. You guys are SOMUCHFUN! to hang out with.

I also took two (2!) classes from Ali Edwards. It was great to meet her in person. I already felt like I knew her well from reading her blog, but it was great to talk and make jokes and spend time with her. She's coming to do some classes locally here in Albany, and I volunteered to help her cut paper and get things ready for her classes. I hope she actually takes me up on it. I'd like to spend time getting to know her better.

Anyway, I feel so fulfilled right now. Like I am on the right path and making headway into the next phase of my life. I feel validated as a scrapbooker and paper artist. I just feel content. I LOVELOVELOVE the Perspectives album I made in Ali's class. I am brimming with ideas and inspiration. I am SOINLOVE with my family (who were a big part of my album) and my art/hobby/creative obsession right now. It was TOTALLY worth it!

If you get a chance, take Ali's "Perspectives" class. You'll be glad you did.

And that's the other side.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Dream Job

I'm consumed lately with what I want to be when I grow up. I am part of the "What Color is Your Parachute?" generation, where we were told that we would probably NOT work for the same company all our lives and would retire with a gold watch, but would instead have 2-3 different CAREERS over the course of our life. Notice the word CAREERS instead of JOBS. Careers implies committment; it implies time and education and sweat and tears and effort. This is not changing jobs because you are bored, etc., it is redefining yourself. And we (my generation) are expected that we will do this more than once....Whew!

If you've been reading my blog, you know that I am in a period of self-discovery and redefining myself. And I've finally got the courage to admit what I really want to do right now.

I want to work for Simple Scrapbooks Magazine. Really. I SO want to work for Simple Scrapbooks. I would do just about anything to be a contributing editor there. (Do you still read my blog Donna D.? Could you put in a good word for me?) I'd empty the trash, I'd write copy, I'd bake cookies, give foot rubs--I'd even clean the company bathroom! (at least once or

I've loved Simple Scrapbooks from the beginning. I've always felt close to Stacy Julian--because at one time, when she was just getting starting with paper crafting and rubberstamping, she was my sister-in-law's neighbor and friend. Julie has told me about how she came home from one of her first rubber stamp parties and declared that she had found what she was going to do for the rest of her life (or something like that) and she has. I also went to high school in Spokane--so I feel like I know the area Stacy now lives in.

Anyway, I'd love the stress of meeting a deadline for a magazine. Being given an assignment (My SIL Julie--the same one mentioned earlier--has been given assignments by Stacy for the magazine) would make my day. I'd take classes to learn what I don't know. I'd be a very good employee.

Time to start submitting....

On a totally unrelated note, I am going to be taking a class from Ali Edwards this weekend at a LSS in Southern Oregon. Yay me! I'm really looking forward to it, and really getting into my homework (yes, there is homework for this class). I'll let you know all about it.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

It's here....part one

I'd like to start with a quote I found by Anna Quindlen:

I read and walked for miles at night along the beach...searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that person could be me.

I've been thinking/feeling that something was coming; I finally realized that what was coming was my need to change a few things in my life. It's time for me to do a lot of the things that I've only thought about for years.

This is a little heady for me. I have no excuses left. I've used them all up. And I've also decided that lethargy is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. It's so much easier to take a nap than go for a walk. It's so much easier to eat a cookie rather than a carrot. But it's time to choose the carrot.

I've had this list of things I wanted to accomplish, (as I said) and really, that last two that are feasible right now are doing more with my scrapbooking--like actually submitting so I have a chance to be published--or if not published, at least have the satisfaction of knowing that I did something about wanting to be published instead of chickening out. The other thing on my list is losing weight and being in better shape. I want to be better than I am. Simple goal, really. So I've started denying my inner sweet tooth and indulging my inner health-food goddess. And I am walking for at least a half hour every day. Right now, since I am terribly out of shape, that's about a mile and a half. My goal is to walk 5 miles a day. I'm also going to start doing the pilates video I have rather than just looking at it on the shelf. I really dig pilates. I got into when I was a member of a fitness center about three years ago. That's the shape I want back. I'll never see my high school shape again, and that's okay. My high school shape didn't build my three wonderful children's bodies--THIS shape did. And that's pretty marvelous.

And that's the end of part one.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Real Me

Yesterday I finally convinced my six year old that it was time to buzz his hair. He has 3 cowlicks, going all different directions, so we usually just buzz it ('cause it's impossible to do much else to it). He had been resisting, so his hair was very long--3-4 inches. He has inherited just enough curl from his dad to have his hair puff out and be all poofy--the result is that he looks somewhat like a dandelion puffball when his hair is long, but his hair goes in 3 different directions because of his cowlicks.

Anyway, finally buzzed him for the summer. He looks sharp, in my opinion. We loaded in the car for a memorial service celebrating the life of my DH's grandfather (who died last Memorial Day) and he says, ever so seriously and forlornly: "Mom, I don't think a buzz cut captures the real me..."

Ah, such serious words from my usually light-hearted boy! We agreed that we would let his hair grow long again and then he could cut it any way he wanted. Something that would "capture" the "real" boy.

What are you doing today to "capture the real you?" Leave a comment and let me know!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

On the Brink

I've had this feeling for the past couple of days that SOMETHING is coming, and it will change my life. Don't really know what yet, but I can feel it on the fringes of my day. It might be a new resolve to change some things about my self; it just might be the new paper I ordered for the store. But something's coming, this I know. I've had this feeling before, and it's usually right.

I've had a fascination with Victorian houses lately. I found a book called "Victorians House of the Northwest" or something like that, and there are three houses in Albanymentioned in it. One of them is for sale, and I find I am fascinated by it. For one thing--it's huge! Nearly 5000 square feet. Our current home has 1760, which is the most we've had, but when I think about what I could do with 5000, I get a little light-headed and giddy, and have to slow down and take a deep breath. It also has a lot of the original features--a plus for someone with a romantic attachment to historical things. On the downside, it's surrounded by icky apartments. The somewhat scary kind. They kind I've lived by before, and NEVER want to live by again. As they say, real estate is all about location, location, location.

But I have to admit, I want to know what happens to this house. Originally built in 1880, it was at that time one of the most expensives houses in Albany. The builder was also the owner, and he took extra care with it so that it would "advertise" the quality of his work, and be a nice place for him to live. I think that the fact that it is now one hundred and twenty-five years later says something about the quality of his work! I hope that whoever buys it has the ability to do it justice. If it were me, I'd buy the lot next door, tear down the nasty little 4-plex, and put up a huge walled garden to block the view of the scary apartments. I hope whoever buys it loves it like George Hochstedtler, the builder who built it well enough to last over a hundred years and still be pretty. I'm truly tempted to call up the realtor and take a look around inside the house as well, but that will only increase my desire to live in that house. (5000 square feet! Think of all of the scrapping space I could have! And still have bedrooms left over for other things!)

Anyway, back to my niggling feeling of change in the air. I've been rolling around the phrase "live a purposeful life" in my head. I think it's time for me to start being more purposeful with my goals. I've had this list of things I've wanted to do for a long time. Things like: Have kids (check), Travel more (check--but I still plan to travel more), sing a real, hour-long recital (check), be on national television (check--I was a contestant on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaiare" in its heyday), grow out my bangs (check), open a scrapbooking store (check), get my degree (check--2 bachelor's and a master's) sing the National Anthem at a sporting event (check), get published in a scrapbooking magazine (still working on it), finally have the body God meant for me to have (this is the hardest one of all). You see, I've struggled all my life with my self-image and my body size. I know that God does not want me to be this out of shape and overweight. Yet here I am. I've exercised, I've dieted, I've studied the human body. I know I will never be a teeny-tiny thing. But I also know that I can improve on what I am now and go back to where I once was. (I hope that made sense...). And I think THAT change is the one I'm feeling. I've achieved a lot of my major goals in life--and it's time for me to really work on that one. I know it will be a struggle--it's been a struggle. Losing weight and finding time for exercise right now in the chaos of my mundane life is incredibly difficult. I'm sure I'll write more about it later, but you have to believe me when I tell you it will be the hardest thing I've done in a long, long time. But it is time. Time for me to be purposeful with myself. Because if you can't be purposeful in caring for yourself, there isn't much point in trying to care for others. If George Hochstedtler can build a house well enough to last one hundred and twenty-five years, I can care for my body so it will last at least another fifty. Wish me luck! (and maybe I will go take a look inside the house...just for fun!).

And that's the other side.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Since When Did I Become a "Ma'am?"

Again, this is a "reprint" of an essay I wrote a couple of years ago. You'll figure it out when I refer to myself as being 33--and you know I am now THIRTY-FIVE! Yes, say it with me thirtyfive. That still doesn't feel exactly real....oh well...


The other day I was returning a cart to Costco. I approached the fellow collecting carts at the front of the building. “Can I just give this to you?” I asked. “Yes Ma’am!” was his hearty and cheerful reply. As I walked back to my car I thought, “Ma’am! When did I become a ‘Ma’am’? I just had his job a few years—pause for quick mental calculations—FIFTEEN YEARS ago!” I was honestly surprised at how long it had been since I was the one corralling carts at Costco. “Hmm,” I continued to myself, “Maybe I really am a ‘Ma’am.’”

I had a conversation with a gal at church this week who was turning 33. “Ah,” she said, “Seventeen. Seventeen was really good. I wish I could have stayed seventeen forever.” Again, that made me think to me about my own year at seventeen. I was a college freshman, going off to school just about ten weeks after my seventeenth birthday. So not only was I seventeen, I was a young seventeen. We moved to a new town two weeks after I graduated from high school and I left for college about eight weeks later. I felt rootless. Lost. I didn't know exactly where I belonged. When people asked me where I was from, I didn't know how to answer them. "Spokane." I would say, and then quickly add, "But my family lives in Oregon." It was scary and uncomfortable. Talk about teen-age anxiety! Stay seventeen forever? No Way!

Now Twenty, Twenty was good. At twenty, I had just begun dating my future husband. I was a junior in college and thrilled with my studies. I was living with my grandmother, whom I loved deeply, and we were getting along well. My future husband brought me a dozen roses for my twentieth birthday. We were beginning to think that maybe we had something worth pursuing further. Life was exciting and thrilling! I seemed to have the self-confidence and self-esteem I lacked at Seventeen. I loved Twenty! I could possibly stay twenty forever.

But if I stayed Twenty forever, then I would have never had Twenty-Two. At twenty-two, I married my husband. We were caught up in Newlywed Bliss. I was working on my second degree, in music, and I loved it even more than my first. We found ways to pay rent, eat, and pay bills on about $600/month. We lived in a tiny studio apartment. We watched television and movies sitting on the bed and used fruit crates for chairs because we had no other furniture. We were In Love and life was good. We had friends over, we played board games, and we often barbecued on a tiny little hibachi that I think I only paid about $10.00 for. The first time we used it, all of the paint peeled up and cooked off. Still, those were some of the best hamburgers I had ever eaten. Twenty-two was definitely good. A possible stopping place.

If I never left Twenty-Two, however, I would never have had Twenty-Four. That’s when my daughter was born. Suddenly I went from Student and Wife, to Student, Wife and Mother. Having my daughter was the most fulfilling accomplishment I had made up to that point. Twenty-Four is a strong forever candidate. But if there was only Twenty-Four, then I would never have experienced Twenty-Eight. That’s when my son joined our family. That’s when I began to understand both delight and completeness. What about staying Twenty-Eight? Absolutely possible.

By staying Twenty-Eight forever, then I would have not been able to turn Thirty. Now, I realize that for a lot of women Thirty is scary; Thirty is to be avoided and never admitted. Not so for me. When I turned thirty, I finally felt like myself. I felt like the person I wanted to be inside and the person I was were at last the same. When I turned thirty, I decided to have the courage of my convictions, to say what I felt needed to be said, to start doing the things I always wanted to do. I loved being Thirty. I could easily have stayed Thirty forever. However, if that had happened, I wouldn’t have my baby—and I love my baby. Really, really, love my baby. He came along just before I turned 33. I love being a family of five in our first house. I love finally being able to be a stay-at-home mom.

I guess my point is that rather than mourn for our lost, past, selves, we should celebrate and improve the self we have now. If we stay frozen in the past, we can find no enjoyment in the present. Love the skin you’re in. Love yourself for what you have accomplished and even more--for what you have yet to accomplish. Think about it--we all have places yet to go, things yet to accomplish. After every valley, there's usually another mountain to climb somewhere in the future.

And if we ever meet in the Costco parking lot, (or anywhere else…) go ahead and call me “Ma’am.” I’ve earned it.

And that’s the other side.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

My three favorite children! See how they take after their mother? Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 12, 2005

A pretty picture to make up for the "eewww" post! Posted by Hello
This was my front yard wind chime--until a tree fell on it. Now I have another one.

Warning--Oooky Topic Ahead!

Okay. Some days I feel like my life is surrounded by poop.

That's right, poop. You see, I have a two year old who is at least a year away from even thinking about potty training. He has a healthy diet. Hence poop. Who changes most of his diapers? Me. Lately I have been doing some childcare for a good friend of mine who also has a two-year-old boy. Oh Goodee! More poop! Add to that the fact that Mom is the only one in the house who cleans the 3 toilets (my older kids share in the cleaning of the sinks and the tub, but refuse to touch the toilets) AND figure in that my Super Hero name is "The Flusher!" (seems that not only am I the one who cleans the toilets, I am also the only one who can FLUSH the toilets as well) AND add to that when the toilet clogs, I am usually the only adult home, and it's easy to see why I feel surrounded by poop.

So where's the other side to poop? I don't know. I don't have a pithy, thought-provoking perspective to poop. Poop comes--you flush--poop goes. That's basically it.

We all have rotten days where poopy things happen. Days where we feel like we are the ones being flushed. And sometimes, there is nothing we can do about it. Rotten things come--rotten things go. Sometimes, all we can do is wait for the poopy things in life to go. And hope that there isn't a clog waiting somewhere down the line. That's basically it.

And that's about as close to the other side as I'm going to get today.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Love Yourself Today...

From the Reader’s Digest:
Playing baseball alone in his backyard, a boy announced, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world.” He tossed the ball into the air, swung hard, and missed. “Strike One!” he yelled. He picked up the ball and said again, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” Feeling confident this time, he lobbed the ball, swung—and missed. “Strike Two!” he yelled.

The boy examined his bat and then his ball. He spit on his hands, rubbed them together, then tugged his cap and repeated, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” Again he tossed the ball, swung and missed. “Strike Three!”

“Wow!” the boy exclaimed, “I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!”

I love this little story because of the boy's attitude. How often do we put ourselves down when all we really need is a different perspective on things? Truly, we are our worst critics, comparing our perceptions of our worst faults against our perceptions of other's best attributes. So my thought for today is to love yourself more. Cut yourself some slack if you need it. Reach for a higher level of personal standards if you need it. Sometimes we love ourselves best by taking better care of ourselves, our homes and our loved ones. No one else can live your life; make sure you are doing the best job of it you can.

And that's the other side.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

So That Explains It!

At least, a little....

You Are 50% Normal

(Somewhat Normal)

While some of your behavior is quite normal...

Other things you do are downright strange

You've got a little of your freak going on

But you mostly keep your weirdness to yourself

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

My neighbor's garden frog. I like him. He makes me smile! Posted by Hello

Time is Flying!

I haven't written for awhile--not because I didn't have anything to write, but rather because I had TOO MUCH running around in my head and it'll take me a bit to sort it all out.

Last Saturday was my birthday. I am now thirty-five years old. Yep. 35. T-H-I-R-T-Y-F-I-V-E. I had to keep saying it to make it more real to myself. You see, when I was a child, thirty-five was the age in my head that was OLD! Really, really old. Really, really, very, really old. I don't feel really, really old. In fact, thanks to good skin care, I don't look really, really old. And yet, here I am, THIRTY-FIVE! (whisper it with me once: thirtyfive). Thirty-five is kinda close to forty. I'm not sure I'm ready to be kinda close to forty.

I was reading a Family Circle article the other day about women in their 90's. One of them said, "Don't forget, there's still a little girl inside of me!" That's how I feel. All of the hopes and wishes and dreams of my childhood, the insecurities of my teen-age years, and the confidence of my early adulthood all rolled into one. But someone else's body--other than my face, I don't really recognize this one. But that's going to have to be another blog entry.

I guess that it's official: I am now a Grown-Up. Yep. I have responsibilities, a mortgage, bills, the longest relationship I've ever had with anyone outside of my parents and siblings, (I'm talking about my husband), and children. And I couldn't, wouldn't trade them for anything. Especially the children. If I have to be thirtyfive I'd rather do it with them than anyone else. Being THIRTY-FIVE is worth all of the good things my husband and children have brought to me. Absolutely worth it.

And that's the other side.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Creative Avoidance

I've already told you about my movie-lovin' 2 year old. (That's improving, by the way--thanks for asking) His favorite flick right now is Disney's "Dinosaur." This movie came out in the year 2000 and was the first time real picture scenes were superimposed with computer animation (or so the propaganda says). I can see why he likes it; gorgeous visual images, soaring music, a baby getting loved by a family, cute lemur antics. He's mesmerized. That is, until the meteor hits and it gets scary. Sometimes he watches (especially if someone is snuggling with him) but usually he gets anxious and agitated. When that happens, he cries out "help please! help me! help me!" followed by a bunch of gibberish (his vocabulary is small right now) as he ejects the dvd and starts it over. We've seen the beginning of that movie at least a dozen times this week.

That made me think a little about the trials we face in life. How many of us would like to cry "Help Me!" when the meteors hit the water near our little island sanctuary? How many times would we like to start the movie over when we are in the middle of something scary and awful--just to see if the ending changes?

I've actually fast forwarded the disc to the end just so he could see that everything ended well. At two, he doesn't really need to know that life can and probably will be ugly at times. I'd rather he focus on the happiness of family, of babies getting their needs taken care of and being loved. And even though there have been times I would have liked to fast forward through the trials in my life, I am grateful for the lessons I've learned from them. It's a little corny, but it's true.

And that's the other side.

Monday, April 25, 2005

He wears it backwards when it's not Halloween....he loves it 'cause it's orange! Posted by Hello

Ah....the joys of Orange... Posted by Hello

What if?

This essay was originally written in October, 2003, just before my orange-lovin' boy's 5th birthday. It's still one of my favorites. I hope you like it too!

My five year old likes to play a game I call “What If?” Those of you out there who are exposed to four and five year olds will probably recognize the game as I describe it. Usually it takes place in the car, while I am trying to concentrate on driving. He’ll land on a topic and imagine amazing things about it, requiring some input from me as he concludes. Here’s a typical game:

“What if our car could fly? What if we could just push a button and zoom to the grocery store? No! Wait! What if we could be invisible while we fly? No! What if our car could also be a rocket and we could go to the moon? No—wait! What if while we go to the moon we could zoom to Ben’s house and pick him up and take him with us?”

And so on. Eventually, our car is not only an invisible flying rocket, but it has room in it for all of his favorite cousins and other people, decorated with flames, and when we arrived at our destination, all we have to do is push a special button to make our car fold up into it’s own carrying case so we can put it in our pockets and not worry about having to find a parking spot.

My usual response—carefully thought out so that I don’t squash his exuberant enthusiasm or his desire to imagine the possibilities is, “That would be something!” As things become more incredible and amazing, my response changes to “That would be something” and later as his imaginings border on the truly fantastic, “That really would be something!” This satisfies him, and allows me keep the car on the road where it is supposed to be, as opposed to ending up on the sidewalk, around a tree, or up the tailpipe of the vehicle in front of me.

As his mother, I smile and wonder to myself what other mothers do in these creative and imaginative settings. I like to think that when Oliver Wright said, “What if I could build a machine that could fly people around like the birds?” or Thomas Edison said “What if I could get this little piece of tungsten wire to light up?” or Mr. Nokia (or whoever pioneered the cell phone) said, “What if we could talk on radio waves?” the response from those close to them was “That really would be something!”

Now my version of the “What If” game is a little different. Sometimes it’s “What if your room was always clean?” or “What if our five-month-old really did sleep through all of the night?” or “What if the dishes really did wash themselves?” But if allowed to let my creative imagination truly run wild, I would also say to this precious five year old boy, “What if you always stayed just the right size to snuggle here on my lap? What if you always stayed just as you are, right now? What if I could make the world so safe and all of the people in the world so kind and nice that you would never have the chance of being in danger or getting your feelings hurt?”

That really would be something.

And that’s the other side.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Feelin' Otherworldy

Today I am in a surreal state of mind. I found out yesterday that one of my dear friends of the past was burying her daughter Megan. Megan would have been 20 this July. She'd had since birth some mild cerebral palsy and epilepsy--but you would have never known it. She had some paralysis on her right side so did everything one-handed--even tie her shoes. She was fiercely independent. She worked in a bakery, went hiking, canoeing, rode zip lines, loved her siblings, did chores around the house, went to school--all with one hand. The last time I spent time with her, I was wearing my Mary Kay beauty consultant hat and asked by her mother to teach her how to wear makeup. "It'll be easier for her to hear coming from you rather than me." her mom said. It was fun.

Megan was fun to be around. She was bright and cheerful. She never complained. I didn't know her well, but I liked being around her when I was. I only found out about her funeral about an hour and a half before it started. I just knew in my gut that I had to be there. As other's shared their stories about Megan, as her beautiful mother, my friend spoke about her daughter without breaking down, I cried. Even though my religious faith tells me she is in a better happier place without the constraints of her handicapped body, it was easy to see that she is leaving a hole behind.

Her dad told this amazing story at the end of the funeral. Her parents were having a hard time choosing a cemetary for her. After driving around all of the ones in the area, they decided that it should be a family decision. So the next day they pulled the other kids (5 of them) out of school and drove around again. When they got to a small, out of the way, kinda in the middle of nowhere, they unanimously got a strong feeling that this quiet cemetary was the right cemetary for Megan's final resting place. They made the appropriate phone calls, and waited for the caretakers of the cemetary to arrive. As they waited, they walked around looking for the right plot. Far away, down at the other end of the cemetary an old man jumped up, waved at them and called "Hal....Hal!" Since no one in their party was named "Hal," they shrugged it off and kept looking. After the man did this a second time, Megan's aunt said, "I think he's saying "Help." Megan's dad admitted that he was selfishly caught up in his own grief and worries to give it much thought. (I probably would have been too!). Her aunt went to investigate, and found that the old man was bleeding badly from a cut in his arm, and had been crawling around the cemetary for well over a day, trying to get help. They called 911, and got him the emergency care he needed. He was dehydrated, and slowly bleeding to death. If they hadn't been there at that time, he would have died. Megan's father felt that it was her influence from the other side that led them there--so that they could help him. Megan loved people and she loved helping.

I'm going to make her mother a card and mail it to her. I didn't have time to make one before the funeral. In it I will tell her mother again how glad I am that we were close once, and how I cherish her friendship. Then, as per her mother's wishes as to how we knew Megan, I will tell her mother that I thought Megan was beautiful and bright. I will tell her that I never saw her handicap.

I have a poem brewing, and when I finish it I will share. For now it's just:

The world is dimmer today.
the Light you brought to it has
followed you home.

Farewell Megan, even though I wasn't a big part of your life, you made an impression on mine, and I will miss you.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Shoes, Wonderful Shoes!

This was originally written in September of 2003. I think it's worth reposting.

Okay, let me say right now, that this essay will deal with women and generalities. While I know that it is impossible for ALL women to love shoes, it is a common idea that MOST women love shoes. It is on that platform that some of my remarks today will be made.

I am one of those women who love shoes. I especially love black shoes. I think I am safe in saying that most women have more than one black pair of shoes and really couldn’t part with any of them. At this time, I own over seven pairs of black shoes; each has their own special place and purpose in my closet. If you could love shoes like children, then sometimes I do.

Speaking of children, my nearly-nine-year-old daughter is discovering shoes. Her feet are on the brink of fitting into Women’s sizes. She is finding out what her shoe personality is, as the shoes in her size go from decidedly little girl sandals and mary janes to shoes with heels (to get the proper emphasis, you should say the word “heels” in hushed and reverent tones…as she does). This new stage of her life is fun for me; we are bonding over shoes. We were shopping in Goodwill the other day (my favorite place to find shoes, as I almost always walk away from the store with a new pair of $80 shoes for about six bucks) when I asked her to point out what kind of shoes she liked. Oh the response I got! She started pulling a pair of shoes off of the rack. The first pair was a little strappy sandal, more girly than grown-up, with a chunky 1-inch heel. “These are nice” she said, but I could tell she was still in what she felt was safe territory—answering mom with what she thought I wanted to hear. “Yes,” I answered, “but they are your size right now, and you don’t really need them.” She took this statement for what it was—permission to find what she liked, not what I wanted her to like. Immediately she began grabbing shoes—a high-heeled wedge here, a colorful spiky heel there, the occasional purple mule, and landed finally on a two-strap platform slide—black chunky heels, leopard print straps. These shoes were somewhere between trendy and trampy. “Oh!” she exclaimed, “I love these!” Wouldn’t you know that they fit perfectly? She wore them around the store, and all I could do was smile at her, knowing that she was too young to know that high heels hurt after awhile. Even though I didn’t really like her choice of shoes, I couldn’t help but enjoy her youthful enthusiasm about growing up.

That’s when I realized that shoes have become a female ritual in our modern non-ritualistic society. Gone are the days when you knew a girl was becoming a woman because she could now wear her hair up. Gone are the debutante balls, the cotillions, and the change from pedal pushers to shirt dresses. Instead, girls today get their first pair of heels. Heels are grown-up shoes for grown-up girls. They are a tangible proof of maturity, an unmistakable sign of adulthood.

I eventually talked my daughter into a different pair of shoes. We bought shoes that were appropriate for a girl nearly nine—a girl who is somewhere between little girl and grown-up. A pair of Doc Martins (remember, $80 shoes for six bucks…)—a great pair of shoes with a chunky, platform-like heel and mary jane straps. Shoes that were tough, yet feminine. Of course they were black.

And that’s the other side.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Here's to Joyce!

I love to watch "The Amazing Race." It's one of about 3 shows I watch anymore. I don't think I've missed much more than one or two episodes in seven seasons. It's been fascinating to see these ordinary people cry, strive, laugh, fight, bicker, get lost, get hurt, push past their fears, cheat, lie, and love as they race around the world for a million dollars. The full spectrum of human behavior unfolds against a backdrop of the wonderful and exotic in the world. Some events are shocking (Jonathon and Victoria) and some are marvelous (I can't remember their names right now, but I'm still impressed by the sister team from Utah where one of the sisters unrolled hay bales for over eight hours searching for the clue. Every other team had moved on, but she kept unrolling those hay bales. She never quit. Phil, the host of the show, finally came to her to tell her that they were eliminated from the race. It was dark, and they estimated she had unrolled close to 200 ginormous hay bales. There's stamina and integrity for you!). I especially love watching these people test their courage.

Today I am especially impressed by Joyce. She and her husband Uchenna entered this race with the twin hopes of rebuilding their relationship and winning the money so that they could afford to battle their infertility difficulties. In the last episode, they chose to go after the elusive "Fast Forward"; by earning the Fast Forward, they earn the right to skip all tasks and go right to the pit stop. Teams winning the fast forward are usually in first place and are ahead of all the other teams. This race is almost over, and winning the fast forward now could mean winning the race. Now the Fast Forward is usually a daunting task--more difficult than the others. In this task, racers had to undergo a Hindu good luck ritual--shaving their heads bald. No problem for Uchenna--he's already shaven. But Joyce wasn't. They took a lot of time finding the fast forward. Going back without winning it would have surely meant elimination. Joyce was mad. "I frickin' knew it!" she yelled. "All right then, go ahead!" she said, ripping off her bandanna. Uchenna tried to stop her--"You don't have to do this honey." "We are DOING THIS!" was her reply. You could hear the frustration and hurt and fear in her voice. She cried as the scissors started cutting her hair off. Not only was she losing what had to be an important part of her female self-definition (I mean, what woman isn't a little vain about her hair?)--she was about to be bald on national television.

It was marvelous to watch as her tears of anger and loss changed as her hair got shorter and shorter. "It's only hair--it'll grow back. It's just the outward appearance." You could feel Uchenna's pride and love for his wife radiating from the tv screen. "You are so beautiful!" he kept saying to her. And it was true. She was absolutely regal. She was stunning. She was inspiring.

I don't know if Uchenna and Joyce will will the million dollars or not--but maybe they have something better. When they started this race, they admitted that their relationship was in a rocky place. After watching them earn that fast forward, and watching them grow together and work as a team, I would be surprised if they still felt that way. They have integrity and obvious love for each other. Uchenna respected and loved Joyce enough to lose the race if she wanted to keep her hair. She respected and loved him enough to let her hair go. I hope that if I am faced with the choice of losing something important to me (but ultimately trivial), I'll have the courage to make the choice. Would I give up my hair for a million dollars? Maybe. Would I give up my hair to make my relationship with my husband better? Definitely.

And that's the other side.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ode to a Nap

Ah Sleep. That elusive elixir of life. At least for me. I've been blessed by children, who as babies, were rough sleepers. Now that they are older (my youngest just turned 2), and are sleeping better, somehow I'm not. I'm still programmed to wake every couple of hours. I just listen a second and then roll over and try to go back to sleep. Sometimes my 2 year old is crying--he still wakes at least once a night and needs some attention. (and yes, we've tried all of the "help your baby to sleep on his own" tricks. More than once. More than twice. Thanks for thinking of them.) Usually everything is fine, and I am only conscious for a second or two.

Then, however, I am floating in that in-between conscious and sleeping unconscious stage for about 20-30 minutes. Just to go through the same thing again in a couple of hours. It makes for one tired Mama! Today I woke up a little before 6 am and couldn't get back to sleep. I survive by getting a nap. Today will be a nap day.

Things must be just right for me to nap; my baby must also be down for his nap (terrible at night, great during the day--go figure!). I have a little nap corner on the extra bed in our office/scrapbook nook area. I must lay across the bed at a funny angle. I must lay on my right side. I must have a pillow to cover my face. I must have my favorite quilt all cocoon-like around me. My son must have something to do that will occupy him for at least an hour. Then I can nap.

If all is well with the "musts," I can power nap. I can slip into a nearly unconscious state in minutes. Many's the time I have awakened so relaxed I have been in what we call "the drool zone." My DH is adept at reaching the "drool zone"--not so much for me. I try to only nap for 30-45 minutes. More than that and I am still funky-tired and irritable. If anything wakes me up before the requisite 30 minutes--the phone, a child needing attention, etc., then the nap is lost to me and I and everyone around me just have to suck it up and deal.

Nothing quite matches the euphoria of waking up from a good nap. I feel more like a person. I remember myself better. I am more balanced. Naps are essential for my well-being.

Today is a Nap Day. And that's the other side.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Me, only better! Posted by Hello

How Cool is That?!?!

Okay, I'm about to share a deep secret part of me. I want to be a Scrapbook Celebrity. At least I want to rub shoulders with them and have good parts of me come out in recognizable ways because of what I've learned from them. I would be thrilled to death if they included me in their circle of things. I've been reading all of these great Blogs by these ladies--Ali Edwards, Donna Downey, Cathy Zielske and Tara Whitney (I limited myself to these for starters--I have to get off of the computer SOMETIME during the day to take care of the mundane little details of my life--like feeding my kids, loading my dishwasher, rotating laundry...etc., etc.,). Anyway, I posted to the Simple Scrapbooks message board (SSMB) that I really liked DonnaD's blog and she read my post. And then read my blog. And then she posted a comment that said that she liked it--and me by extension! HOW COOL IS THAT!

So why aren't I a Scrapbook Celebrity? Ah, there's the rub. I haven't tried out. I've been furiously devouring these great books and pages and magazines and layouts and ideas to make MY scrapbooking better but I've not entered anything. Well, I guess that's not quite true. I've sent in a handful of pages. Like three. Not a lot. And not enough to get noticed. So now I'm on a quest. I'm going to work this year to get noticed. And that scares me spitless.

One of my online girlfriends has a quote in her signature line that goes something like "What we risk is also what we value." Well, what I am risking by putting my work out there to be noticed is me. Myself. I. So the real question then, is, how much do I value myself? Do I value myself enough to go through the effort to take some digital pics of my layouts and size them to the right dpi so I can submit them electronically? Do I value myself enough to figure out what the heck a "dpi" is? Do I value myself enough to just try?

One step...a journey begins with one step. Time for me to make that step. It's better than not trying at all.

And that's the other side.

Here's my self-portrait, courtesy of Ali's challenge. (see above)

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Why am I Paying for Cable?

In this house, we have been hostages to a 2 year old. Every toddler out there in the world fixates on something. It's in their nature. As kids grow and realize that they are separate from their mothers and that they can control their legs, arms, voices, they want to use that power to control Something Else. For some it's a blankie, a doll, a toy, their clothes, etc. In our house it's the television.

Well, actually, it's the DVD player. My son is obsessed with movies.

When he wakes up in the morning, he likes a little snuggle. I speak to him softly, asking him if he slept well, telling him a little about what we need to do that day. I know it's only a matter of time before he looks up at me, smiles sweetly and asks, "Mo-Mo?" That is toddler-speak in our house for movies. Now you think any old movie would do, or that you could distract him with some wholesome public television programming....not so. No Way. Not gonna happen. At the tender age of two, he is a conoissueur of animation.

Not only is he VERY picky, he knows what he wants to watch. He doesn't verbalize much yet, so choosing movies is usually a matter of holding up the DVD case and watching his reactions. "No!" followed by unhappy screaming is a very telling way to see what he doesn't want to watch. When we've happened upon the one he does want to watch, he chortles with glee and let's out a stream of unrecognizable happy gibberish, grabs the case out of our hands and loads the movie into the dvd player.

Yes, he loads his own movies. He insists on it. We've tried to stop him, since we've already lost one expensive dvd player (a 5-disc changer he tried putting about 12 movies in) and 2 dvds (one belonging to the public library). We spent months with the glass doors to our entertainment system taped shut. He learned to remove the tape. He insists as only toddlers can, on doing it himself. Sometimes, he'll load a movie we've foolishly allowed him to be able to reach, watch the previews, take it out, load it again, watch the previews again, and so on and so on. He even knows how to press the fast forward button until the menu comes up and then he can press play. It's rather inspiring to see such mechanical genius in one so young. Sort of. (I didn't like having to buy another DVD-player).

If by some chance someone else in our family wants to use the television for Nintendo, their own movies, or say, actually watch television, things get ugly. Remember when the Tasmanian Devil chewed and snarled and spit his way through the forest to where Bugs Bunny was standing with his carrot? It's like that but worse. I usually respond to this outburst with "Oh Honey, I'm sorry you're upset...But you don't get to control the television. Don't forget to kick your legs while you're down there throwing your fit!" I do not give in. He watches enough movies while no one else is at home. Plus I don't want him to always have that much power in our house. I don't like being held hostage, and I'm bigger than he is.

We only have one television. This was a choice we made purposefully. We only have one dvd player (a cheap one this time, in case the DVD commando breaks it again somehow). We bought a Nintendo gamecube long after the initial release of the machine. We limit the time it's on. We have "No Screen Time" days where we do things BESIDES watching television and playing computer games. We enjoy the television for entertainment (LOVE the digital recording feature of our cable box), but don't let it rule our lives. We are more than what we watch.

But how do you teach that lesson to an obsessed two-year-old? In this house, we go for a little at a time. We go for walks. I take him to the park. We go to the library. We run around the house. We run around the yard. We read books. We go outside and get wet and muddy and play with chalk. We play dinosaurs or Little People or Rescue Heroes. It's not easy--especially when the television is so easy. Pixar makes a great product. I can sit through their movies again and again. And it's hilarious to watch my toddler mimic all of the sounds at the beginning of Monsters Inc. (from the "THX" mwangh sound to the screaming of the "child" during the new recruit's test...he does them all). But when you start thinking that the butler Edgar should have bumped off the old lady instead of the Aristocats, you've watched the movie too many times.

I'm not sure how this hostage crisis will end. My husband and I are doing our best to balance his movie watching with other wholesome pursuits. Who knows? Maybe the television world will get to the point that we won't WANT to watch it any more. All we can do now is monitor what our children DO watch. And move the dvds to a higher shelf and hope our two year old doesn't learn how to climb.

And that's the other side.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Look for the Happy

A few Augusts ago, my husband, amateur astronomer, decided that we as a family should watch the Perseid meteor shower. Snuggling with my hubby and kids as we looked for shooting stars did sound like a good time, so I readily agreed. It was a warm clear night, and as we watched the skies, pretty soon one of us would point and say, “There’s one!” “I see it!” or “Ooh! That was a big one! Did you see it?”and other various exclamations. My husband and I patiently pointed out the difference between the slow moving satellites and the streaking meteors to our oldest daughter. Then we explained the difference between the satellites and the airplanes we could see flying over us. She quickly understood the difference, and spent most of her time pointing out the various satellites moving in a slow arc over our heads. Our son, who was almost four at the time, also got into the action by shouting, “I see a happy light!”

Now sometimes as parents, we have no clue what our kids are talking about, especially our three year olds. I don’t think I am alone in this. The first night we watched the meteor shower, my husband and I just shrugged our shoulders and played along. When my son wanted to go “watch the happy lights” again a second night, we agreed, thinking that he had decided in his 3-year-old vocabulary that “shooting stars” and “happy lights” were the same thing. That's not a bad association at all. It wasn’t until we had settled into our star watching that we understood what he meant. Our daughter kept up her role of pointing out the satellites, my husband and I tried to direct our children’s attention to the shooting stars, and my son again said excitedly, “I see a happy light!” We still had no clue what he was talking about. Then in his next statement, everything made sense. “Aww,” he said sympathetically, “there’s another sad one.”

When we were patiently teaching about satellites, he heard “sad lights.” Now my son is a very positive and optimistic little boy. Instead of looking for shooting stars and “sad lights,” he wanted to look instead for the “happy lights.” This is in keeping with his wonderful loving nature. When playing at playdates, he learned early that trading toys with his friends was more fun than grabbing things away, and that taking turns was just as much fun as being the sole person to play with the wanted item in question. That August, my husband and I were trying to teach our children about some of the wonders of the night sky; instead, we were taught by this small boy a more valuable lesson: look for the happy.

This is an easy and hard lesson to apply. Many things in life are bad or good depending on your perspective. I can complain about my baby’s night wakefulness, or I can be happy that I have some precious bonding time with my son, and, as an added perk, I don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to make sure he is still breathing! My daughter can complain about having to pick up her room or she can be grateful that she has clothes and toys—and even her own room! I think you get the picture. Our trials can make us or break us, depending on how we choose to look at things. It all comes down to perspective.

This may sound a little preachy, but I would encourage you to try it. The next time you are caught up in stress, bogged down with the no-fun, mundane details of your life—try to change your perspective. It does make a difference. Look for the happy. You’ll be glad you did.

And that’s the other side.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Balance in the Universe

I have a very good friend who is one of “Those Moms.” You never want to eat before going to a Tupperware party at her house because you know she will put out a beautiful finger food feast, complete with matching seasonal plates and napkins (and all made from scratch in her kitchen beforehand—which is now spotless—no hiding dirty dishes in the stove for her!). Other moms will bring a box of crackers for a preschool snack; she will bring homemade peanut butter cookie mice, with peanuts for ears and licorice whips for tails. Her house is always clean and neat, with everything in its place. Her children are well-groomed when out in public. She speaks to them in soft voices—even when she is frustrated with them.

Now, I share these things not to invite put-downs or criticism upon my friend. She has been one of my favorite people for well over a decade. I share her attributes with you because I believe there is balance in the universe, a need for opposition in all things. She is one of “Those Moms” because I am not.

My house is always seems to be cluttered, my daughter sometimes has, shall we say, eclectic taste in clothes, my son often looks like he needs a haircut (he has strong dueling cowlicks on the back of his head that make his hair impossible to comb), and while I enjoy baking, I am usually the Mom who just remembered as she left the house that morning that it was her turn to bring the snack and so runs back into the house and grabs a box of cereal (because it was the only suitable thing I could bring that was unopened and the school won’t cook macaroni and cheese—the only other edible thing left in my pantry). When something like this happens, I am also usually muttering “safe” (and maybe not-so-safe--depending on how stressed I am) swear words under my breath (Hock-key Puck! is a favorite…). At a recent women’s group meeting to discuss ways to cope with stress, other women spoke of exercise, listening to classical music, and writing in their journals as a their way to relieve stress. I raised my hand and said without shame, “I eat chocolate, and yell at my kids when I’m stressed!” Based on the supportive reaction that rippled through the room like a wave on the ocean, it was obvious that I was not alone.

Now, while my home (and sometimes my parenting) is not magazine perfect, it is comfortable. It’s like that one old shirt that you know you should get rid of, but just can’t because when you wear it, you feel most like yourself. My home is like that. I will not make excuses for myself; I am what I am, and my house is what it is—a place where anyone can come and feel welcome and safe, where they know that they can just be themselves. It’s a place where ideas and opinions are validated, even if they aren’t agreed with. A place where cousins can come and crash on their way to someplace else—even if I haven’t seen them for over fifteen years—and feel right at home. I like it like that.

Too often in this life we compare what we perceive to be our worst to what we perceive to be another’s best. The time has come to stop making excuses for our shortcomings and to learn to be happy being who we are. There will always be someone whose strengths and talents differ from yours—and that’s okay. It's like that for a reason. Your goal should be to discover and celebrate your strengths; instead of concentrating on your weaknesses. Because no matter what, somehow, there will be balance in the universe, and it’s okay to be on whatever side of the scale you are on.

And that’s the other side.


For awhile there, I was writing these columns and sending them to my friends via email. I'll be posting a bunch of those already written essays in the next week or so. Then I will be writing new ones.

Thanks for "listening!"

Thursday, April 07, 2005

A bit of explanation about the name...

I wanted to explain a bit about the name of this blog. I called it "The Other Side" because I've learned in my life that I tolerate annoying people better when I try hard to see their side of things. (Sort of a "walk a mile in their moccasins" approach). That made me think about the other side of things that people generally take for granted. That made me think of how I had benefitted from looking at "the other side" of things, especially when I realized where the previously mentioned annoyances were coming from. So, the title "The Other Side" seemed appropriate when I started writing my meanderings of thoughts down in print.

I hope you enjoy this blog, and it brings you some benefit--a smile, a laugh, and maybe, a greater appreciation for "the other side" of things.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Love...How do you Know?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the question, “How do you know you love me?” This has been preceded by the fact that two of my very close friends (who married each other…) are divorcing—his choice, not hers. I’m baffled by this. After fifteen years and five children together, he decided he didn’t love her any more. She had no idea he wanted to leave. I’ve only talked to her about this and heard her side. Apparently, he’s shedding all trappings of his old life, and that may include me. I still don’t get it. How do you decide you don’t love someone, when you have so much history together and five very good reasons for making your marriage work?

I’ve often felt that staying in love is a choice. We have the responsibility to our partners to find reasons to stay in love. Many of us who have been with the same person for a long time know that the exciting rush of first love doesn’t last. It’s either replaced by something finer and more solid or it’s replaced with nothing. On the other side of the story, we have a responsibility to stay attractive to our mates. Now, before you get your dander up, you should know that I’m not talking about hours on a treadmill or starving to stay a size 6 and so on. There are other ways besides the physical to stay attractive.

Learn to compromise. Watch your tone of voice when speaking to your partner. Don’t pick fights just because you are feeling a bit peckish. Realize that sometimes it is okay to serve your partner and receive service in return (you make him a sandwich one day, he puts gas in your car the next, etc.) Make sure you are treating this most important person in your life with the same courtesy you would give strangers on the street. Be sure you aren’t asking more of your mate than you are giving. With that said, (and hopefully understood), I would like to say a few words about physical attractiveness. Bathe. Wear clean clothes. Wear clothes that fit well. Do care about your appearance in general. Do these things also for yourself as well as your mate. Spend time together. Talk to each other about more than just your agenda and the mundane details that make up the business of life. Take the time to remember why you fell in love with that person in the first place. Realize that the very thing that’s driving you crazy for the moment might in fact be one of the reasons you love that person. For instance, it might make me a little crazy when my husband spends his free time helping friends or other members of his family with their computer problems instead of spending that precious free time with me and our family. But, one of the reasons I love him is his generous heart. And I love that he can solve mysterious computer problems easily. And I love his family. So I have to figure out a compromise. Anyway, I think you get it.

So back to the question “How do you know you love me?” I asked my husband this, and he answered. “I just know.” So much for great words of wisdom and clear understanding there! But then I thought about it a bit more. Sometimes the answers to the complicated questions in life are simple. A big part of love is trust. A big part of trust is hope. For me to feel secure in my relationship, I have to trust that I’m doing my part to make that relationship work. I have to hope that my partner and I have laid the foundation for communication so well that if someone else starts looking better to him, we can at least talk about it before he decides to leave. I don’t know how to help my friend, other than to be the best support to her a friend can be. I do hope to learn from her trials ways to better my own relationship with my husband. And I choose to stay in love with my mate every single day.

And that’s the other side.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Meaning of Life

I found my high school boyfriend the other day. I was checking out my name on one of those public record information sites--you know, the kind that get passed around different Yahoo groups, usually with the panic button attached that people will now be able to steal your identity because of this information site, and I got the idea to plug his name in. He wasn't there--at first--but another link put me right on his home page as a professor at a university. I was initially surprised. Not because of his choice of career, but because suddenly the picture of the boy I remembered was put up right against the picture of the man he now was, and I had to change my inner picture of him.

I was also very proud of him. While we were dating, he had a specific list of things he wanted to do with his life. And according to his resume, he did all of them and more. Basically, he was the same person he was in high school, but all of the the things that he loved that made his high school years awkward were the very things that made him successful as an adult. That got me thinking about things. Had I done what I wanted to do? What memories does he have of me? How different was the grown-up me from the teen-age me?

I should give a little background. He and I had a relationship for about three years. One year dating as Seniors in high school, and two years in a long-distance relationship, writing letters and having phone calls as we went away to college and other things. He was my first real boyfriend; I was his first real girlfriend. Our relationship didn't end with a dramatic breakup--rather it just quietly stopped. He went out of the country for awhile; I moved out of state. Eventually the letters no longer arrived. Towards the end, truthfully, we were more friends than anything else. But because our relationship never had a concrete ending, I always wondered about the "might have beens."

Now that I know a little more about his life after me, I found myself wanting to meet his wife. I want to know if she was anything like me. I want to know if our relationship influenced his choice of spouse, because I knew that it had for me. I want to know if our past relationship has any meaning to him, because it has meaning for me.

I was once told that we should treat people we meet in life as if they were wearing an invisible sign around their necks reading "Make Me Feel Important!." I think all of us search for meaning in this life. But rather than discuss some deep metaphysical answers here, I'd like to propose that rather than searching for the meaning in life, we are all needing to feel that we are important to someone else. We need to know that we mean something to someone.

Parents of small children will understand what I mean best. It never fails that the very moment you are involved with something, anything, from a project to a phone call, that will be the same moment your toddler will demand your attention. And toddlers are very good at making themselves hard to ignore. They need to know that their needs matter.

So back to my high school boyfriend. I don't know if I will ever have the answer as to whether or not our relationship mattered. I don't know if I will ever know if I still mean something to him today. But I think I will send him an email to tell him that he mattered to me. I'll tell him that our relationship had meaning in my life. If you have someone in your life that matters to you, tell them. Let them know that they have meaning in your life.

And that's the other side.