Friday, March 12, 2010

Favorite {Photo} Friday--Lightness

{Photo taken in Northern Italy, about a mile from our house.}


I'm still overwhelmed by the amazing--and I mean amazing--response to my last post.

After I posted it, Jason whisked me off to dinner. Out of the house, away from the computer, so I couldn't sit here and obsessively check for comments. Talking about other things, eating spicy Thai food and drinking amazing wine, so that I was too distracted and enjoying myself too much to wonder if anyone was commenting, what they were saying.

I shouldn't have worried. :)

(But the dinner was nice.) :)

The most amazing thing to me is how everyone keeps telling me how strong I was/am to write it down, put it out there. And the whole reason I wrote it is because I felt so weak that I couldn't go on anymore carrying the burden alone! So that was a very real gift that I received, the chance to see myself through other peoples' eyes for a moment. Very real and very unexpected and so very, very needed. Thank you.

The second most amazing thing is all the personal e-mails I've received. Women who have gone through this. Who are going though this. Who never told anyone how long it took them to get their baby, and how painful and expensive it was. Who swore me to secrecy because people still don't know. Who thanked me for putting what is in their heads and in their hearts into words.

Wow. Amazing.

I feel incredibly honored that people have shared with me, and I'm overwhelmed by people who've thanked me. I want to say, "You're thanking me? No no no, you have that backwards, I'm thanking you!"

I've been so overwhelmed, actually, that I'm still processing it all; I haven't responded to everyone's e-mails, I haven't called everyone back. I will try.

But it's hard to want to sit in front of the computer or talk on the phone, because finally, finally, finally... I actually feel like getting up off the couch. And doing stuff. Cleaning. Tackling my To Do list. Running errands, which I did all morning with Jason.

Today I actually, out of the blue, thought of a new jewelry design.

After three months of barely touching my workstation, this is a major victory; I'd actually even considered closing my Etsy shop altogether.

I feel lighter. I feel free-er. :) I feel like a normal person again, a person approximating myself.

And you all gave--are giving!--me this. Lightness.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Setting It Down

When we first started this journey, our secret was a tiny pebble of Hope; I loved carrying it around, knowing it was always there, full of possibility and potential.

Every month, the pebble grew. It was still Hope, but it was gradually coated in layers of Disappointment. Sadness. What-ifs. Frustration.

And then, Loss. With Loss came Sorrow and Fear, and the tiny pebble of Hope was further buried, deep inside a boulder.

And still, I carried it alone, hiding it from almost everyone we know, everyone we love. [Jason carried it, too, but not nearly as much as I did, and in different ways.]

I'm not good at asking for help; I'm not good at showing what I perceive to be faults.

And, frankly, I didn't want to deal with other people's questions and advice. It's just like one of my favorite prints from StoryPeople:

"Most people she never tells about the tightrope because she doesn't want to listen to their helpful comments from the ground."

I have friends who have carried this burden before me and I thought I was learning from their mistakes, avoiding the problems they complained of, by keeping our secret and carrying this burden alone. I didn't want to hear the "helpful" comments from the people on the ground, people who hadn't walked this same tightrope and carried this same burden but were all too willing to tell me how to do it.

But every month our burden continued to grow, bigger and heavier, with new layers of Hurt. Heartache. Guilt. Dejection. Impatience. Sorrow. Shame. Despair. Confusion. And yes, even Jealousy, and Envy, and Bitterness, though I fought those most of all.

And lately, it feels like too much to bear alone. I'm sad, and I'm tired of pretending that I'm not (or making up ridiculous excuses for my sadness). I'm tired of lying about why I can't or won't or don't want to do something, just so we can keep this burden to ourselves. I'm walking around doubled over under this weight, and all I can see is the ground in front of me. I'm missing the sunshine, and the rainbows, and my friends' smiling faces.

So, the time has come: I'm setting this burden down.

I know that by setting it down it won't go away; it will still be here. But my hope is that setting it down will cause little cracks to develop; our friends and family will come and lay their eyes upon our burden, and their Kindness and Love and Compassion and Understanding will seep into the cracks and expand, like ice breaking up asphalt, like tree roots breaking up a sidewalk. My hope is that together we'll be able to break this boulder into pieces and let that tiny pebble of Hope see the light of day again.

Some people will walk away; they don't need or want any more troubles in their lives, or they won't know how to handle it. A few people will even scurry off, uncomfortable, and avoid us. But some of our friends and family will bend down and pick up a piece, and they will help us carry our burden. Some already have.

And now, moving from metaphor to actual words, I'm stuck, caught, with a lump in my throat, crying and afraid.

{Deep breath...}

For as long as I can remember, since early in my childhood, I've wanted to be a mother. And like most women, I assumed that when we decided it was time to start our family, my pregnancy would just happen, like it does for millions of women every month. (And until then, I took great care to make sure that it didn't. :))

And then we decided it was time.

But it didn't just happen.

For months

and months

and months,

it didn't happen.

Until finally, last June, it did! And we rejoiced, and eagerly awaited the day we could "safely" announce our joy to the world.

But then... in late July, with Jason 3000 miles away and mostly out of cell phone range... well, it un-happened.

Today, March 10th, 2010, would have been my due date.

The doctors told us it was a good sign that I had gotten pregnant, and we hung onto Hope and the stories I'd heard about women who got pregnant again soon after a miscarriage.

But it still didn't happen.

And we still didn't want to tell anyone. Every month was a new chance, full of Hope. We decided that when it did happen we'd tell our story, revealing our journey to show how long we'd waited and how happy and grateful we were. But every month was a new chance, too, for renewed Heartache.

In January, my body started showing the exact same early signs that it had last June when I was pregnant. I was hopeful and cautious and excited and nervous, waiting to see if it was really happening this time. And then I started bleeding and cramping, and having the exact same signs I had last July. And I grieved all over again.

I had some tests run, and there were confusing results. So I grieved this loss just as I did the previous loss, but I had an added side of confusion and doubt throw in for good measure.

And since this mysterious loss, I've suffered more. The burden has felt heavier. I've felt sadder. That pebble of Hope feels far, far away.

And while I'm--of course!--joyful for my friends who are announcing their pregnancies and births, a voice inside my head taunts, "Not you not you not you not you still not you." Lately, this chant has become a drum-beat, seemingly always present; in the past ten days alone I've received word of two new pregnancies and four new babies, with three more babies expected any day. And with every announcement, I text Jason, "Life's not fair," so he knows to skip the "How was your day?" when he comes home and just hug me instead.

When I realized today, this day that could have been so very different, was approaching, I talked to Jason and we decided:

This burden is too heavy to carry on my own, so I'm setting it down.

To answer some of the questions I'm sure people will have:

Yes, we've started the infertility testing and process. Our insurance requires a certain number of months without achieving pregnancy before we're declared "infertile"; because of the pregnancy and miscarriage last July, the clock got reset. We're not waiting for it this time, even if it means paying for testing and etc ourselves (and there are certain things insurance wouldn't pay for anyway). Tests have been done and are scheduled to be done and we're doing what we need to be doing.

No, this is not going to turn into Infertility Blog. Jason and I are still fairly private people; we won't be talking about it a lot to most people. I most likely will not be sharing a lot on here. I'm not too sure yet; I'm still getting used to the idea of people knowing. But I can't imagine that I will ever feel compelled to share Jason's sperm count or the status of my Fallopian tubes on this blog. It's nothing against anyone who does that, at all... it's just that, like I said, Jason and I are pretty private about personal stuff. If & when I do talk about it, there is a 99% chance that it will be about my feelings about the process.

No, I'm not telling how long we've been trying. Whenever someone asks how long and they get an answer, I feel that it helps them to file that person away in their mind, somewhere between, "Oh, that's not long, she shouldn't be worried yet," and "Oh, it's probably hopeless, then." I don't want to be filed away. As my friend Andrea said, "All that matters is that you want this and haven't been able to achieve it, and that is devastating."

Yes, I know that things will work out the way they're supposed to. I know that one way or another I will be a mother if I'm meant to be (and I believe I am).

No, our marriage has not suffered one tiny bit through this process. Jason has been amazing and I feel that we are stronger than we've ever, ever been. We are partners and a team and best friends. I feel incredibly lucky to be married to him, and he says the same thing about me... although I find it hard to believe on the days he comes home to a weepy wife and a disaster of a house. :)

Yes, it's hard sometimes. Even while I'm happy for them, friends announcing pregnancies and births can be hard. So can going to Target and walking past the baby aisle, watching TV, watching a movie with a pregnancy or miscarriage (I bawled in Up), going grocery shopping and seeing a very pregnant woman or a new baby, hearing a song on the radio... pretty much any little thing can be hard. But sometimes it's not, sometimes I stroll through Target hoping for some sweet deals on clearance items in the paper goods section, without a passing glance at strollers and onesies. Sometimes I laugh at birth control ads and how worried I used to be if I was a couple hours late taking a pill, ha! Sometimes I'll see a tiny terror in the grocery store and think, "Maybe it's not such a bad thing I'm not dealing with that quite yet." Sometimes I'll stay in bed reading until noon, or take a three-hour long bath, just because that is a luxury I'm still afforded (even if it costs a lot). And hearing that a friend is pregnant or had a healthy baby, after a struggle to get pregnant, fills me with hope. So yes, sometimes it's really hard, and sometimes it's not. I'm pretty good at looking on the bright side (even if I would trade it in in a second).

Yes, you can help. Pray for us if you pray. Think of us. Send me cards and presents. I'm kidding about that last one (mostly). :) Let me know you're thinking about me. Give me the benefit of the doubt when I forget to get back to you about something, or I'm moody, or I don't want to do something, or when I have one or three too many glasses of wine. Hug me and tell me that you love me.

Because I know that some people won't know how to handle this or what to do, I've talked to a few friends who have struggled with infertility and put together a list of Please Do's and Don'ts as a guide.

Please do continue to talk to me about normal, everyday stuff. Please don't think that because I'm dealing with this I don't want to hear about how your boss is a jerk or you got stuck in traffic or whatever. Distraction is good. :) I'm still your friend and I still want to know what's going on in your life.

Please do ask me how I'm doing; even if I don't feel like talking about it it will mean a lot to me that you asked and were willing to listen. (And please don't ask if you're not willing to listen.)

Please do be honest with me. Saying, "I don't know what to say, but I'm sorry you're going through this," is fine. Perfect, even. I don't expect you to know what to say.

Please don't ask questions like, "Any news?" or "So, are you pregnant yet?" Trust me, if/when I'm pregnant and it's safe to share the news, I will shout it from the rooftops! Don't ask me, I'll tell you.

Please don't tell me to relax. I guarantee you that while this process is, can be, has been stressful, I'm also relaxed a lot of the time; I'm taking good care of myself (even at the expense of my business, housework, etc). I'm thrilled for you that you were able to get pregnant after having a couple of cocktails on vacation, or having a massage; that doesn't mean I can. Trust me.

Please don't give me "helpful comments from the ground." Meaning: if you haven't walked this tightrope, please don't give me advice. Everyone knows someone who "had trouble" getting pregnant, and the miracle diet/magic elixir/sexual position/herbal supplement/etc that helped them to get pregnant. I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but I'm 98% sure that I don't want to hear it. [If you've truly walked in my shoes and have suggestions, that's different.]

Please don't say, "Just call me Fertile Myrtle!" or "He can just look at me from across the room and knock me up!" That's an amazing blessing for you, but you might as well just punch me in the gut when you say it, because that's what it feels like to hear someone take their fertility so much for granted. Please do be aware of the impact that what you're saying can have on other people; just because you don't know someone's trying doesn't mean they aren't.

Please don't feel guilty for anything you might have said to me in the past. Please do be mindful in the future (around me and others).

Please don't be afraid to tell me if you're pregnant (or just gave birth). I have infertile friends whose friends would come to them tearfully, apologetically, to announce that they were pregnant. Pregnancy is a miracle and a blessing, and I'm your friend; you shouldn't be afraid to tell me about your joy. But please do appreciate the blessing you've been given and know how lucky you are, especially if it happened without a struggle. And please do understand if all I can manage is, "I'm so happy for you," before my eyes fill with tears and my throat clenches up. I am happy for you, truly. It's just hard.

Please do invite me to your baby shower (or Christening, or child's birthday party, etc) if you would normally invite me; I would love to know you were thinking of me and would hate to find out about it and feel excluded. But please don't be upset if I decline to come, and please don't try to cajole me into attending.

Please do remember that I'm still me; I still love to read and make art and eat carbs and take photos, and I still dislike licorice, inconsiderate people, sports on TV, and "angry" music. I still prefer smaller gatherings and intimate conversations to large parties and being the center of attention. My favorite chocolate is still dark with chili peppers and cinnamon, and if given the choice between a bowl of homemade mashed potatoes and gravy or a piece of almost any dessert, I'd still choose the mashed potatoes every time. I still love organizing and I still hate cleaning. I still long to be graceful and I still run into the foot-board and door frames all the freakin' time. I'm still me. I'm just me who wants to have a baby and hasn't yet, and that's changed me in some ways, yes. Infertility is a part of me; it's not all of me.

Please do give us whatever love, support, compassion, understanding, and sensitivity you can, now and throughout this process.

I set my burden down. Here it is.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Project 365, Weeks 9 & 10

As always, click on the photos to see them larger and read the journaling.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Favorite {Photo} Friday--Cheese Makes Everything Better

It's been a rough week. Tonight I got to go hang out with some girlfriends and eat ridiculous amounts of fancy cheese and drink some wine, and it was just what the doctor ordered.

Thanks, ladies, for helping me process some things, and for listening, and for being my friends. :)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Favorite {Photo} Friday--Miracles

It's a crazy world we live in these days, what with Facebook and Twitter and blogs. Less than two years ago when I first went to Inspired Artist Workshop, I met two women who were best friends via their blogs. They'd been best friends for quite a while, talked on the phone all the time, but the first time they met in person was that weekend. Honestly, I had a hard time not looking at them like they had three heads apiece; I thought the whole idea was completely nuts. [The fact that they turned out to be not very nice certainly didn't help matters.]

Soon after that I started this blog, and I opened a Twitter account so that my donors could follow along with me as I texted in updates about my Avon Walk. Both were great ways to stay in contact with my friends and family.

Later that year I opened my Etsy shop. Customers found me on Etsy and went to my blog; friends followed my tweets and saw when I posed new items on Etsy; people saw my comments on other peoples' blogs and came over to my blog, or to the shop; my friends posted my Etsy items on their Facebook profiles so their friends found me, too. It all got very interconnected very quickly.

And I began to understand how people who've never met in real life can be such wonderful friends.

Since I work from home, Twitter is my equivalent to the proverbial water cooler. And reading peoples' blog posts is often the equivalent of an intimate chat over lunch. Except I can do it in my pajamas, without leaving the house. And if you're thinking, "Well, it's not really a conversation because it's one-sided, since you're just reading their blog," then let me tell you that it's not one-sided. Many times I've left a blog comment and the author writes back to me, and we have an e-mail exchange back and forth. Someone will tweet about their child being sick; others of us will respond with sympathy and concern, and later ask her how her baby's doing. Someone will share good news, and others of us will rejoice and congratulate her. We read each others' blogs and share in each others' daily ups and downs on Twitter. In short, we become invested in each others' lives, no matter how wacky it sounds.

And through this crazy internet world I've come into contact with several beautiful women who have suffered the worst kind of loss; losing a child. Sara lost Joel. Arianne lost Mabel. And two years ago today, Beth lost James and Jake.

After reading Beth's lovely post today I've been reflecting on what a miracle it is to have a healthy baby (and how too many people take that miracle for granted).

So of course the only photo I could post today for Favorite {Photo} Friday is my sister's second little miracle, Lily Grace. [For the record, my sister is a NICU Nurse and does not take her miracles for granted.] Lily just turned two; I took this photo when she was baptised at three months old in 2008.

Be grateful for your miracles, friends, and hug them tight. :)

Oh, and the good news is that both Beth and Sara are pregnant again!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Project 365, Week 8

This year is flying by; I can't believe we just finished week 8!

We had a great time at the crop this past weekend, and I did finish some pages. I'll share those later, since the day after I get back from a trip (which is today) is always "Introvert Recovery Day" around here. I'm holed up, unpacking and decompressing and generally hiding out and trying to recharge my emotional/psychological batteries.

Thanks for looking!
[As always, click on the photo if you'd like to see it BIGGER to read the journaling.]

Friday, February 19, 2010

Favorite {Photo} Friday--Stargazer Lilies

If it were possible to get drunk from smelling flowers...

... I'd be soooo wasted this week.

Today I'm driving to Virginia Beach for a scrapbooking crop. If you're not a scrapbooker, a crop is where a bunch of scrapbookers get together in a huge room and all scrapbook together. It's kind of a weird concept but it's totally fun. I've been prepping for weeks now, printing photos, choosing papers and embellishments. I'm meeting some friends there so it should be a great weekend, and I hope to get some pages done to add to the scrapbooks.

Happy Birthday to my mother-in-law, Jo!! Hope you have a great day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Project 365, Weeks 6 & 7

This whole snow-snow-snow thing has put me into a kind of holding pattern--I'm losing track of days and falling even further behind than I usually do! We had just an inch or so more last night and I'm really hoping that is the last snow we see this winter. Well, the last fresh snow, anyway; the rest of it will be around for months, piled up 10 feet high as it is in every parking lot around! I'm really glad I decided to take this year off of the Avon Walk, considering all the sidewalks are buried from the snow plows and 10 miles on a treadmill is not fun.

Anyway. Back to catching up. Here are Weeks 6 and 7 of my Project 365:

I didn't plan it this way, but it's kind of funny to have these two in the same post. Week 6 was FULL of snow and cold, and by Week 7 (even though it was still snowing) I was craving COLOR, obviously!

I'm still having a lot of fun doing these, and I still work on them every day or every other day. I'm a lot faster at it now. I also think it won't be too many more weeks until I start making my own, new template designs (that still coordinate with the other ones).

And I had a thought--if you like this project and want to play along but you didn't start on January 1st and (like me) like to start at the beginning of things, not partway through, then how about you start on the first day of Spring? You could do just a Days of Spring project, or you could keep doing Days of Summer, Days of Fall, Days of Winter. Mark your calendar to start taking photos on March 20th!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Favorite {Photo} Friday--Winter Olympics, Torino 2006

Man, I love the Olympics.

I love the hope, the struggle, the passion the athletes must have. I love the human-interest stories that give me the athletes' back stories and make me feel for and better know who they are and what they're about and the battles they've faced. I love the commercials, especially this one, this one, and this one--I cry every time! I mean Dan Jansen, sitting on the ice, head in his hands? You can just feel his heartbreak. The Zhangs, trying that throw again after disaster? The pain in her face, the concern in his; her courage to try it again is triumphant in and of itself. And all those young athletes--the possibility, the potential, the hope, the years of work ahead, leading to triumph or to anguish, determined in a split second. Oh my word, pass the tissues, please!

In 2006, when the Winter Olympics were in Torino, Italy, Jason and I lived about five hours away. So of course we had to go!

Here's us, up at the Freestyle Aerials competition. We never did get to see it because they had to move it to another day due to the snow (there's a whole other story here, but that will have to wait for another day), but we had a lot of fun waiting around and talking to people. :) The jump ramps are up behind us to the right of me in the photo.

We also saw a Short Track speed skating event, and a Skeleton event (like Luge except they go down head-first on their stomachs instead of feet-first on their backs). It was great to be there and experience the Olympic Spirit in person, and I'd love to be able to go to another Olympics someday. But I did miss a lot, since we were there instead of watching it all on TV (and there, tickets were expensive and/or sold out). We didn't get to watch the Opening Ceremonies, or any other events besides the ones we attended... but what I missed most were the human-interest stories. I love hearing about peoples' stories. I suppose that's why I like scrapbooking; when I look at other people's pages the first thing I do is read the journaling. So I'm really looking forward to hearing all the stories this year. The interviews, the profiles, the sagas--bring them on, I've got the tissues ready!

And I loved watching the Opening Ceremonies tonight. LOVED it. I loved learning about different aspects of Canada; I loved the whales and the beat poet and even the weird Celtic Punks. I especially loved the Parade of Nations. I cheered for all the countries I've been to and love, like Czech Republic and South Korea, Slovakia and Belgium. I cheered for all the countries who have only one or two or a handful of athletes. I love that they must know that they don't have a very good shot at a medal, but being there and experiencing it all and doing their best is enough; I love their hope and I love their pride. I cheered for Italy, and I cried, remembering our time there and missing it so much, and remembering Daniele walking with his fellow Italian athletes two years ago in Beijing.

And I cheered, of course, for the United States most of all; for Apolo Ohno and Lindsey Vonn, for Shaun White and Bode Miller, and for all of the athletes we'll come to know over the next two weeks.

Enjoy the Olympics and have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snowmageddon Continued

I posted photos from last Friday, but it kept snowing through Saturday, and then we had another storm on Tuesday & Wednesday, so I'm finally getting around to posting the Saturday photos! What a week. What a winter!

Here's our patio set and grill on our deck. There was no wind on Saturday so the snow just piled up on top of everything, so the stool in front looks like a big white-capped mushroom!

I took this photo to show the top-heavy, snow-laden trees leaning over our deck in the back, and only noticed afterward the snow-covered wind-chimes; that really shows how little wind there was if the snow could build up like that on wind-chimes!

Our birdies may not be able to bathe but instead of a bath they now have a large, puffy, white cake. Or pillow?

We kept shoveling throughout the day and all the neighbors worked together. Here's our neighbor Steve helping Jason shovel our driveway.

We love our neighbors! Notice how high the snow is piled up to the left of Steve... it's hard to tell but at the height (just in front of the large bush in the background) it's as tall (or just taller than) his shoulders!

I went out into the front yard to check the snow level. 22" of new snow so far at this point, and 27.5" if I punched through the ice left from the previous snow and went down to the ground.

Here's our house, taken from Steve and Roxanne's house across the street.

The trees were getting so overloaded with snow that a lot of them fell. Our neighbor two houses down had one land on the house and roll off onto the deck.

And turning around 180*, here are two trees down in our next-door neighbor's yard.

I don't think the garbage man will take the garbage like this. And the mail man will soon have a hard time finding that mailbox in the back!

Jason and Steve did a good job on the driveway (even though it kept snowing and built up again by the time I took this photo).

Our poor little trees in the back were so weighed down with snow they were bent over double!

So we shook them all off and they stood up proud and thankful! :)

The power was out so I killed some time outside shoveling the little bit of snow in the driveway.

I came back inside for a bit to take care of a few things. Here's a view onto our back deck:

Jason decided to shovel out part of the deck so he could get to the grill so we could cook dinner (we have an awesome glass-top stove that is a lot less awesome when there's no power).

For dinner we made maple-chipotle glazed chicken, mixed grilled peppers, and baked sweet potatoes. Pretty darn good for having no power, huh? Jason is a grill master (and I am a planning and idea and prep master, if I do say so!). :)

Then we headed out to Brian and Marlene's driveway to meet all the neighbors.

I love this one with Jason and Brian in profile. :)

While we all sat outside around the fire, talking to (and over, lol!) one another, the porch lights suddenly came on and we all let out a huge whooping CHEER! It was so awesome! We were all so excited to have heat in the house overnight! A lot of people left at that point to head home and sort things out (and turn the heat up, lol!). I used the camera flash on the final few left; here's Brian, Jason, Steve, Howard, and my dear and fellow female holdout, Maren.

Then I went home and took a HOT shower, blow-dried (blew dry?) my hair (a choir of angels sang Hallelujah), put on comfy pajamas, plugged things in to charge, and crawled happily into bed. Ahhhhh.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


The power keeps going on and off but people have been asking to see photos so I'll put up a couple here quickly while I can. These were all taken last night.

The view from our porch:

Jason started shoveling the driveway when we had about 6.5". He's down there somewhere, I think!

My turn to shovel. I love my very warm cute snow outfit and my awesome red very warm Sorel boots!

By the time we finished shoveling the driveway, the mailbox was almost buried:

And I needed to sit down for a break!

Our neighbor Brian and I made snow angels in the middle of the cul-de-sac! Here's mine:

By the time we shoveled everyone's driveways we were up to 10" of accumulation so we went back and shoveled them all again.

Then we headed back inside to the warmth...

...where we suitably rewarded ourselves for our hard work.


Random fact/thoughts in list form because I'm rather scattered right now:
  • The power went off during the night so we woke up to a cold house.
  • Trees are falling down all over the neighborhood because of the weight of the snow; I'm just hoping none of the trees land on and damage any of our houses.
  • When Jason walked to the back yard to check out our trees, the snow came up to his thighs!
  • The power came back on but it's going in and out. A couple of our neighbors have generators so we'll be fine.
  • There's a TON of snow outside but I'm not sure how much because I've been inside cooking while we had power. Jason's outside shoveling and as soon as I post this I'm going to go join him.
  • Jason had his cell phone in his pocket while he shoveled last night and it must have gotten wet because today it won't turn on. I have it in a jar of rice, which I've heard sometimes works to draw out the moisture. In the meantime, don't bother calling his cell phone. :)
  • I have my cell phone charged but I'm trying not to use it too much, and I'm keeping it on the charger whenever we have power!
  • We have awesome neighbors who are all like our family so we'll take care of each other, so don't worry about us! :)
And speaking of that, they're all shoveling so I should go join them (and take some more photos)! If we continue to have power I'll post more photos later.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Favorite {Photo} Friday--Snow Men

We went out to shovel the driveway in the snow, because it's easier to shovel 6 inches at a time than to wait until it stops snowing and then try to shovel out through 24-30" or whatever they're predicting. Of course we turned it into a neighborhood party. Here's the men!

Mark, Jason, Steve (aka Santa) and Brian. Love our neighbors!!

Have a good, safe, and warm weekend!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Today's prompt word in the GOventures challenge was INVISIBLE.

A lot of things came to mind, but the biggest thing was the INVISIBLE fears that we all hold deep in our hearts. I thought about how to make them invisible while still making art about them--tricky, tricky! That's why this is such a great prompt. :)

First, I took a Sharpie and a small, 6x6" canvas and wrote down all my secret fears. Here I've blurred it out, 'cause they're secrets, duh.

Then I squirted on some paint and I painted right over it. When I envisioned this project I thought, "Oh, how symbolic, painting over my fears," but I have to say that it actually felt pretty cathartic, as cheesy as it sounds!

I turned on my Silhouette cutting machine (I soooo love this thing!) and used it to cut out a font I had on my computer. I cut it out of vinyl so that it acted as a sticker and stuck to the canvas (once the paint was dry, of course).

Then I used a Ranger Dabber to paint in the word. I carefully peeled off the mask while the paint was still wet and then let it dry.

So here we have it. My secret fears, hidden behind the mask of hope that I (at least try to) project to the world. An unexpected thing happened while I was making this, which I love; after I wrote down my fears and painted it, the canvas got turned around and I wasn't sure which way it had been facing when I wrote on it. So I just had to forge ahead, not knowing which end was up when it came to my fears, only using HOPE as my guide. :)

Project 365, Week 5

Remember how last week I mentioned that the template I used wasn't even? Well, I looked at the rest of the templates and none of them are even. All the photo sizes are completely different; sure, everything lines up in a grid, but why aren't they even and balanced? Totally annoying. Do not ask me how my house can be a disaster but this uneven grid thing makes me crazy, because I don't know. What I do know is that when I used to run track and cross country, I'd make up math problems to do while I ran. Who does that? Apparently my OCD hit the part of my brain that's in charge of math, and missed the part of my brain that's in charge of housekeeping. Alas!

Anyway, once I realized that all the templates were wrong, of course I had to go in and fix them. The crazy part is that I LOVE that stuff. Meticulous work with numbers? Oh, so awesome! I can totally zone out. So last Thursday I fixed all four double-page spread templates.

This is the fifth template (counting the single page I did as a title page), so now I'll just rotate back through them unless/until I get bored and decide to make my own templates from scratch.

Helpful Blogger Hint: If you ever want to scroll through all the posts about a particular topic, click on the corresponding label at the bottom of the post. This post is labeled Project 365 and Scrapbooking, so if you click on Project 365 then you'll see all my posts with that label. Same for my Favorite {Photo} Friday posts, etc.

I'm really impressed that I made it through an entire month without forgetting to take a photo even a single day! I'm really glad I'm doing this, it's so fun and I know it will be great to look back on at the end of the year. Are you playing along yet?

Monday, February 1, 2010


I follow Kal's blog and Elise's blog, so when they got together to do GOventures, I thought I'd play along. The idea is that they have a word prompt each day this week, and you can interpret it however you'd like, in any way, shape, or form. The point is just to THINK and MAKE ART. I can get on board with that!

Today's word is WANDER, and of course when I think of that I think of all the traveling we did while we lived in Europe. A while back I found this ugly wall hanging at Ross for like $2, so I bought it and brought it home and peeled off the ugly art and then collaged onto it. I glued down some vintage dictionary pages, and then used a Heidi Swapp mask of the world to paint on top of it (NOT as easy as it sounds!!). I really like the way it turned out, except I wish I would have Glimmer Misted the dictionary pages before I put down the mask and painted, so the land parts would be all shimmery.

Anyway, today I took a photo so I could upload it to the GOventures Flickr group. Here it is!

A straight-on shot seemed too boring so this is the one I uploaded. :)

Feel free to play along and/or join and/or check out the Flickr group! It's fun to see everyone's interpretations!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Favorite {Photo} Friday--I See The Moon and The Moon Sees Me

This has been a rough week. I mean, a really, really rough week. Monday started out incredibly well with a dinner with some friends; I got some much-needed face-to-face conversation with women and it was amazing. But everything slid downhill fast fast fast after that. I'm fine; I'll be fine. I'm not dying, Jason and I are as strong as ever. But I'm not going to say any more than that, except to ask that if you have any spare prayers or positive thoughts laying around, I could really use some sent my way. Thank you.

Tonight was the Wolf Moon, as I just learned thanks to Twitter, so I put on some gloves and grabbed my tripod and took my camera out onto the back deck.

I'm still learning photographic tricks and I'm still learning my camera, but I'm pretty happy with this one, all things considered! And by "all things" I mean that my tripod was balanced on three different objects and I was perched on a stool and it was freezing cold out and I had gloves on and couldn't see any of the buttons on my camera so I kept pressing the wrong ones. LOL!

We're supposed to get a bunch of snow tomorrow so we're cuddled in hoping to stay warm, and the fridge is stocked ! Have a great weekend!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Project 365, Week 4

I'm still totally loving this whole Project 365 thing! (As always, click on the photo if you want to see it much larger and read the journaling. Then click back to this post, please!)

This project is definitely teaching me some things. This week I learned that I need to get out more, and that I eat a lot of fruit and like photographing it. :) I also learned that just because you design and sell Photoshop templates online, that doesn't mean you know how to do math. I'm sure you can't notice it on here, but the two middle photos and journaling spots (the coffee mug and the dead rose) are slightly thinner than the others. In fact, all of the strips are slightly different widths. This kind of thing totally annoys me; I mean, can't you do the math and make all the strips the same? It would be really easy to do! So easy, in fact, that I'm considering redoing this template before I use it again, just so all the strips are even. Yes, I know, I'm a tad anal detail-oriented; it's quite charming once you get to know me. :)

In case you're wondering, I usually upload photos and add them to the template every day or at least every other day; I don't want to ever feel like I have to "catch up" because then I will just say, "Aw, screw it!" and I'll stop doing the whole thing and just have some random unfinished album with a few weeks of these layouts, hanging over my head as yet another sign that I don't finish everything I start. And we don't want that! :) It usually takes me about ten minutes per day to upload photos, fix them if need be, add them to the template, and write out my journaling. Towards the end of the week I start choosing the colors for the journaling spots based on the colors in the photos, and that can take ten minutes or an hour depending on how I'm feeling and how much free time I have and whether or not Jason is watching football. Then when I'm all done with each week, it takes me about ten minutes to save the file as a jpg, upload it to Costco, order two prints, and then re-size the original image for posting here. So, all told, it takes me about an hour and a half per week I guess. That sounds like a lot! I think I could do it faster, but I enjoy the process so I like to take my time.

Thanks for looking, and let me know if you have any questions!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Favotre {Photo} Friday--Grandpa Earl

Today was kind of a rough day, emotionally. The kind of day where you have a complete hormonal meltdown in the kitchen and have to sit down in the middle of the floor. Jason was awesome and eased me out of it, and then just as I was coming back into my normal self, I happened to look at my perpetual/special dates calendar and saw that today is my Grandpa's birthday.

And then I started crying again.

My grandpa's been gone for many years now, but I still get choked up every time I think of him, because I just miss him so damn much.

So I started digging through my boxes of photos, looking for an old photo of my grandpa on his favorite horse, when he was so young and handsome and looked kind of like Roy Rogers. My aunt had the original scanned in and gave me a copy of it not too long after he died. But I couldn't find it, so I started crying again.

So instead, I'm going to show you two other photos that my aunt gave me. Several years ago she took all the photos that my mom had sent her while my sister and I were growing up, and she put them all into albums for us. Which is so awesome! Anyway, here we go:

I love that he's wearing the party hat. :) I'm the one in the back apparently trying to figure out how to operate a party horn.

Here I'm younger, obviously. I still remember that stuffed animal, it had a music box inside that would play when you wound up a key sticking out of its hip. :)

I love how engaged he is with us/me in both of these photos.

I love how this past Christmas, at home in Oregon, we talked about him and retold a couple of his many, many, many stories. He was such an amazing storyteller. I want to capture some of these stories, put them on paper, while I still remember and have family to help me remember what I've already forgotten.

But now, I'm emotionally spent. I'm cried out. So instead, I'll just tell a short story that always makes me smile to remember.

When I was in college I was home for a summer break. Grandpa was over and I was heading out to meet a boy (I don't even remember who and of course it doesn't matter). As I was walking out the door, Grandpa yelled,

"Be good!

And if you can't be good, be careful!

And if you can't be careful, name it after me!"

Quite a sense of humor, my Grandpa Earl had. Love you and miss you sooooo much, Grandpa.