Saturday, January 31, 2015

It Was All Started by a Mouse

I think, for the first time ever, that this year on MLK day, I was off. Back when I worked the big corporate world before, it was a floater, and we had to pick MLK or Good Friday. I changed jobs last May, and picked up 3 holidays in the transition: Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, and Good Friday. There is just almost nothing better than a 3-day weekend. Getting three more a year is like a huge boon for my heart. Of course, having a retail hubby means I often spend them somewhat alone, or quasi-alone, but I am okay with that because I can scrap.

I am part of a closed group, an online community of scrappers, 300+ women that I interact with virtually daily on message boards, about topics ranging from paper for a college drop-off, to the best movie we've seen lately, to venting about work, to whether or not to get the Amope. They are a huge blessing to my life. I have probably met about 75 of them in real life. {I need to do an album!} They are my peeps, and you can find me hanging with them regularly here in Scrap Central.

We have a cheerleader, a ringleader, an enabler extradoinnaire, a gal that is just the sweetest bundle of energy and ideas that I may have ever met. I think I can get a decent amount of things done, but man, she makes me look like a slacker! She's our Cherrypicker. This is a big year for her, but I won't go down that rabbit trail right now. Well, Cherrypicker decided that we needed some fun, and organized an amazing online crop, full of challenges - TWENTY-FIVE - and games - three - and prizes too numerous to count! So many gals stepped up and created challenges and decided to hostess them, and/or offer prizes. It's really, really amazing. And our online crop was to be held on MLK weekend. Perfect!

I think I was able to knock out about eight of the twenty-five challenges, and I was okay with that, since I was actually sick with the flu during MLK weekend. One of the challenges I just loved, though, was called "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue", and we were given a Sketch Savvy sketch by Susan Stringfellow as our "Something Borrowed". {Susan's Blog with the Sketch} Our Old was to be an old photo, our Blue was an element on the page, and our New was supposed to be something new to us. Well, when I saw those heart images on the sketch, my mind saw little Mickey heads. And then I started thinking about just what "old" photo I could use, and I decided I would go waaaayyyy back. 

When I started scrapbooking, my mom started scrapbooking with me. And one of her first projects was take her two banana boxes of family photos, and divide them into four piles. And she then preceded to make each of her children an album of their portion of our family memories. You know, memories and photos from the days when you *might* shoot 3 or 4 rolls of film on an annual basis. Well, somehow mother knew back in 1995 that I would want the Disney photos. I have one album page with 6 photos on it. I love them! {I keep meaning to check with my sisters to see if their albums have any, or if there really were just 6 photos taken that day, which is probable, and highly likely, and so foreign a concept today.} 

So, on that MLK weekend Saturday, I popped those photos out of my childhood album, scanned them in, did color restoration as best I could with my feeble skills, and began to work on the layout. Looking at these old photos makes me so happy. It was the summer of 1972, the first summer that DisneyWorld would have been open, knowing it opened October 1971 like any true Disney fanatic does, and the photo of us in front of the castle just mesmerizes me. The trees and bushes are so small. We are on the bridge to Tomorrowland, and our feet are actually on the bench, and we are sitting up on the ledge of the back. {I know today they would tell us to get down!} The lamps for the Rose Garden are to the right of the photo, and you can see so much of the castle walls. 

I do not actually remember this day, per se. I do not remember going. I would have been almost 8. Dad says we went only for one day, and it was on the way home from a trip to Biloxi. {I know that Orlando is not on the way home to Houston from Biloxi. So, this was a big detour.} I can imagine my dad having heard about this new place, when DisneyWorld really just consisted of Magic Kingdom, and having the wanderlust in his heart for a road trip that he does, and having us all captive in the car, I can just imagine him deciding to drive east to Orlando "on the way home to Houston from Biloxi" - just exactly the kind of fun, surprising adventure he'd bestow on us.

I love seeing the clothes we were wearing. I know, from examining the whole of the 6 photos, that I am wearing the same sandals as my two sisters. I imagine we got them at Weiner's on Sheldon Road. My two sisters are wearing bell bottom pants and baby doll tops, all of which my mom would have sewn. I am wearing red plaid bell bottoms and a coordinating shirt, one of the two beloved Garanimals outfits that I owned. I can still remember wandering through the fixtures at Sears in Denton, looking at all the choices, picking out what outfit my grandmother was gifting me. Oh, I loved that outfit. And I love that I know I have loved red all of my life. Mother says her outfit was a gift from Metropolitan Life and it had been given her in Biloxi at the convention we had just left. My little brother is wearing Garanimals, too. I guess Granny bought him an outfit, too. She did try to be fair.

I love my big smile on the carousel! Yes, I was born to love a good ride and a fun time! When I saw this photo, I recalled the scene in Saving Mr. Banks, where Tom Hanks, portraying Walt Disney, hops onto the carousel and declares it his favorite ride. I think that is cute to know. I did actually ride the carousel in November with Steve and mom. Everyone should ride a carousel when they are 50 and 77! Nothing like watching the world go by from the back of a pretty white steed, while keeping your bearings by lightly grasping the brass pole. 

And mostly, I love that I am being tickled by Dale. You can see my little brother standing to my left, watching, and you can see my sister watching, too. I think this is going to be in Town Square, but I am not certain. I want to take this picture with me the next time I go to the park and ferret out where I was standing. I love knowing the characters roamed the park freely, and that it was okay to grab a little girl and give her a hug and a tickle. I love knowing that it was fun for me to be hugged by Dale. I have told Dale subsequently of this event, and I will someday have to show him the photo, so he can smile, too.

Ah, little memories. Lots of thoughts and recollections from three small, old photos. So much joy in remembering. Family vacations, idiosyncrasies, rituals, traditions. Six people. One day. 958 miles from home. One Magical Kingdom that was all started by a mouse, and a man from Merceline, MO with a dream in his heart, and some pixie dust in his pocket. So much to remember across the miles, as I look back on the day when the magic began.

Back When the Magic Began ~ One Disney Day ~ Summer 1972

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Gift to My Heart All Year Long

I think in the span of November to January, I created 10 double layouts about Christmases past - 20 pages. They ranged from 2008 to 2013. It was a little gift to myself to camp out in the season, during the season. Honestly, scrapping Christmas seems such a herculean task to me. There are so many photos taken that whittling them down is hard, and scrapping them all is impossible. But I love the moments and memories enough to try. Sometimes it just takes me awhile. ;-) 

I have a very large Library of Memories. Keeping up with it all is almost a part-time job. But, undaunted and eager to keep the yuletide memories burning, I set out to decipher what Christmas events and years I had scrapped, what I wanted to scrap and hadn't, and what pictures would remain as jpegs. 

{Will my children ever mine this virtual treasure trove? Today, my iPhoto library sits at 47,451 photos. And while I have converted some negatives to jpegs, those span for the most part my post-digital years, which commenced in 2004. I don't even dare project a future number. I strive to keep the closets and clutter clear, but I can't let go of my images. They are each so dear to me. I have a semi-blurry shot of my boys with their arms up in the air, facing the same direction, doing basically nothing understandable to the discerning eye. But, when I see that photo, I am transported back to a Wednesday night when they came in from Cribs and I was sitting here playing Mercy Me's "This Life" and the boys spontaneously and immediately went into a synced dance move to the rave sound of my favorite band, which immediately surprised, delighted, and tickled me. How can I lose my jpegs? They are my stories.}

So, Christmas layout To Do list in hand, I printed off pictures, pulled stacks of patterned paper and cardstock, printed the hot off the press Scrapbook Generation Christmas Sketch book {I will forever feel the press date was my very own personal magical birthday present!}, grabbed a very few sets of punches and basic tools, and headed off to Florida with my mom. We were going to have two days to be together and scrap before Steve flew in to join us, in my very own beautiful room at the Grand Floridian. Mom and I sat at the dining table in the one bedroom Villa, and opened the sheers and scrapped for two days while we watched the monorail slide by against the sunny clear blue sky and listened to my Christmas iPod shuffle.

It was part of my "magical birthday". You are more than likely aware to some degree of my strong affectation to all things Walt Disney World.  ;-) And for so very long, I have had the dream of doing my two very favorite things there - being at Disney AND scrapping. And dreams can come true! My sweetheart of a husband gifted me with my dream 50th birthday gift - six days at Walt Disney World: one day for each park, and two days to scrap with my mom. It was an amazing trip. I was just revisiting the photos two days ago. Yes, more scrapping dilemmas. But, I'll take those kinds of problems any day. ;-)

While we were there, in the land that starts Christmas the day after Halloween, in the hotel that pipes in the smell of baking gingerbread to create the backdrop for the amazing and beautiful and large gingerbread house, while poinsettias greeted us everywhere, and carols floated through the air, I got to scrap Christmas. I did basically just the foundations for my pages during those two days - but I was very pleased with my progress, and I will confess to perhaps a long dinner break at Downtown Disney window shopping, and a yummy sandwich at Beaches and Cream, and the sharing of an ice cream sundae that should be against the law it is so large. 

I have shared with you some of the other Christmas layouts that had their genesis during this magical birthday trip, and rather than post the last of these individually, I am just going to roll the rest of them out today. It's time to move on. The season is done, the decorations are finally headed into the attic today, and it's time to share these four final layouts.

Tree trimming, and artichoke dip, and the favored cheese ball and yes, those totes and totes of my beloved Hallmark Ornaments. And boys dancing to Christmas carols and delighting in their own memories. 

The worst Christmas ever - the year a stomach bug tore through 5 of the 6 of us like a domino freight train, and also the year that I gave Andrew houseshoes that he loved, but then later decided he hated, and the next year when I gave him another pair because that pair had worn out, not knowing he now hated houseshoes, that he pitched a little fit. And the year that I wanted an iMac so badly, but got a Kindle. 

The year that it was our turn for Granny and Papa - working hard to make everyone happy and pack meaning into every moment, knowing your parents are aging and your children are aging, and trying to make every moment count, no guarantees for the next rotation, four years out. The year of big boots, and Star Wars, and stamps, and toothbrushes, and Big Bang, and Root Beer floats. 

It all comes down to Comfort and Joy, I think, when you go to sum up Christmas. The comfort of hearth and home. The joy of being together, the joy of the season, the Joy in the meaning behind the season, the true gift of Christmas. Each year is its own story, with some of the same moments repeating. {Repeat the Sounding Joy, Repeat, Repeat the Sounding Joy!} And yet each year has its own unique moments. 

Christmas is a day. But it is such a big day that it cannot fit all into one calendar square. And so it becomes a season. And as I age, and as I mine my treasure trove of memories, it develops into more than a day, or a season. It is a gift to my heart all year long. 
Comfort & Joy ~ Christmas Morning ~ December 2013

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation
Paper: Carta Bella
Title Font: Pacifico and Arial

Christmas in the Heart ~ Christmas Day ~ December 2013

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation
Paper: Carta Bella
Title Stickers: Authentique

Christmas with the Family ~ Christmas Day ~ December 2009

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation
Paper: Authentique
Title: Honey Script, Silhouette Cut File

Be Merry ~ Tree Trimming ~ November 2009

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation
Paper: Simple Stories
Title Block: Simple Stories

Monday, January 12, 2015

It's A Very Merry Create Day!

It's just another Monday in so many corners of the world. But, today is the premiere issue of the 2015 Create magazine by Scrapbook Generation, and the first issue in which I am honored to be on the design team! I was able to complete four projects for the issue and can't wait to see how it all looks now that it's compiled!

Scrapbook Generation's CREATE issue will be jam packed with ideas on layouts, cards, projects, and free sketches. Allison Davis did another amazing cover. I never get over her creativity and amazing details! Click on that link or head over to their website at and select the Magazine tab. Isn't this cover just beautiful?

Somewhere in the 200+ pages, you'll find my projects, and the amazing work of my fellow design team members, and also the beautiful reader's gallery. 

Of all of my own projects I did, my favorite is a layout I did about seeing the Once Upon a Christmas parade at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party on my big fiftieth birthday. Here's a sneak of it and I'll be able to post more about it - and my other projects - later!

Be sure to go and check out the magazine. It's truly going to be amazing!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Auld Lang Syne

Why DO the years get faster as you get older? Here we are on the first day of another new year and with this one, I mark the "one year anniversary" of going public with my blog, of trying to intentionally regularly blog, of sharing for the first time ever in a public way my stories, of being courageous in my writing. I don't know if you know this personally from your own experience, but there is never a time or a moment when I write that I feel it is good enough, engaging, or even good. So, sharing is courageous. I have slogged through the first year, have zero more confidence than when I started, and still maintain that every time I bang something out on the keyboard that it could be better, that it isn't entertaining enough, and that there is little value in what I write. 

I don't say all of that for a pity party, or for a barrage of ensuing encouragement, but I say that to share simply the heart of what goes on behind the white page, and to say that even with the reality of those emotions, I am content to keep trying. What I have discovered over this past year is that it is enough for me to try, that there is enough satisfaction in my own heart over my efforts, and that while I do not always feel worth in my efforts, that I do have joy in the process and in the finished product.

Most importantly, thank you for being part of the journey. Thank you for being part of the joy. Thank you being part of the process. I pray that somehow something I have shared has enriched your life, reminded you of your purpose, inspired you to press on, revealed a deeper meaning, recalled to your own mind a memory, given power to your own story. 

As I look ahead, peering around the corner at the blank canvas of 2015, my heart is full of equal parts of contentment and uncertainty. When a year finishes, it is always remarkable to reflect back on it, to savor each moment, to recall the highs, to ponder the lows, to contrast the historic reality to the perceived expectation. I would say that 2014 was better than expected in many ways. We survived the emptying nest. We managed to adjust. We found good. We created new routines. We found, or recreated, joy and meaning to a table for two. 

But, as I look at 2015, I can predict none of what it holds. It does not owe me any promises. There are no big red letter dates circled for me on it already. It will be our first year - January to December - where both boys are in school full-time, and that is an assumption in and of itself. I am old enough to know that anything could change at any given moment. I am hopeful that I can adapt to what the year holds, that there are good and happy times ahead, that we are all kept safe and well and whole. I pray us all enough for the coming 364 days.

While my own life has changed over 2014 in major and minor ways (job change, weight loss, emptying nest), I am sure that your world has had its own set of changes. I think that as all things have changed and will continue to change, I find in myself an increased longing for the constancy of family. One bright moment in 2014 was my son's graduation party, and the presence of my brother at the party. It was a tender and sweet moment for my parents, my three siblings, and I to all be together for a few hours. 

I don't see my brother very often. He has three younger children and they are in many and various activities. He leads a full and busy life five hours south of me. What I do love about seeing him is that time never robs us of our connection. He and I go way back. Way back. Growing up, in our early single digit years, he and I shared a bedroom for a few years. I can still chuckle this day when I recall what an utter perfectionist he was at procrastinating on cleaning up anything. Mother sat on his bed many times, urging him to clean his room with the presence of the spanking tool. I am not certain he cleans any faster today than he did 40 years ago, but I do know that he is still impishly charming, incredibly funny, a gifted storyteller, a brother that cares deeply for me, and that he is a good and honest man. 

It has been seven years since they were here with us for New Years. We had the complete pleasure of having he, his wife, and his three children here for the holiday. It was in the waning months of my stay at home years, when in reality every day for me was a holiday and New Years Eve and Day on a Monday, Tuesday was no concern, and toward that end, entertaining was then so much easier. My house was picked up and clean and regularly devoid of piles of unattended mail and unfolded laundry. I love to entertain, as does Steve, and that is one of my working regrets. I feel that work crowds out my entertaining heart. 

But, in that moment, as we welcomed in 2008, we had five guests, and the world was as bright for all of us as as the sun on that New Years' day when we walked to the park. It was a wonderful relaxing holiday. I made snowflake sugar cookies for my nieces to enjoy, we played games, we enjoyed meals, we were together, and we shared stories.  We were simply embracing each other and taking in the holiday and all the hope and joy it can hold. 

Even though I don't see him very often, he is always on my mind and in my heart. I think that is the point of the traditional New Year's song Auld Lang Syne. We pause, we reflect, we ponder, we remember. Auld lang syne translates to times gone by, and it is our call each new year to remember the old, as we greet the new.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear

For auld lang syne

We'll take a cup o' kindness yet

For auld lang syne
Wherever you are on this day, may your heart be light, your day relaxing, your hope renewed and your memories held dear. Enjoy the new year, and cherish the times gone by. Happy New Year to you, and blessings to you and yours for a happy, healthy, peaceful, and prosperous 2015.

Happy New Year ~ Grady & the Fam ~ New Years Day 2008

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation
Paper: Fancy Pants
Title Stickers: Doodlebug