Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Living in the Present... With a Quick Look to the Past

I can't move on to 2009 without taking a quick look back to the friends I made in 2008, even though I am trying to be all about living in the moment. So, here are a few moments of time from 2008 that have opened up my world, so-to-speak.

My new journey began last summer when my daughter and I vacationed at the beach. I started my blog that week, and we began creating digital scrapbooks through Scrapblog (a site she had used in school that year). There, at the beach, I created my first Scrapblog called "Destin 2008." What joy I found through that site. Which leads me to ...

...meeting so many new friends through Scrapblog and google Blog. It was through Scrapblog that I first met Octamom (who led me to AVT Coach), Miruspeg, McMGrad89, and MrsPeel. Although I created my blog originally to share news with family about our Destin vacation, it soon opened doors to an even bigger world of friendship! I am so thankful to have met these lovely ladies through Scrapblog, and to get to know them even better through their blogs.

For instance, Octamom was probably the first to find me through my blog via our Scrapblog connection. It was hit and miss there for a while, as I tried to figure out how to open my blog to comments. But we finally connected. Since then, I have come to admire this woman so much! Not only is she a mother to eight beautiful children, she is also an amazingly-talented writer, photographer, and scrapblog designer. Her humorous look at life never fails to put a smile on my face! Here is Octamom's header, which includes a couple of photos of her elusive self....

As AVTCoach said in her recent blog, she and I share the same birthday... down to the year. I believe we are soul sisters, and I am thrilled to be a part of her world! I am always interested in what she says and have found her blog on abundance to be quite thought-provoking. She provides educational ideas related to some of her favorite children's books, and it is apparent that she is devoted to her work and to the children she serves. This is her blog profile picture ...

Then there's Peggy. This woman is also an amazing person who definitely touches others' lives. While some of us (me included) have big ideas that may never see fruition, she lives them! If you look through her blog Middle Age Ramblings, you will find photographs of Joseph. At first glance you would assume he is her grandson; she has entire scrapblogs devoted to this little boy. But no, Joseph is a neighbor she has befriended, along with his mom. You will also find photographs from her travels. Among them are photographs of a trip she took to Rwanda. During that trip, she shared her love of photography with local children who were given the opportunity to take pictures of their own. It is an amazing story you can see firsthand through her scrapblog, Journey to Rwanda.

McMGrad89 is a fellow teacher and a mom to two cuties. She gets my vote as Mom of the Year for holding down the homefront during her husband's extended business trip. I am so impressed that she can balance her life as a teacher and as a mom and still find time to create beautiful scrapblogs and post to her blog, So I Was Just Thinking! (Apparently, she stays behind the camera much, much, more than in front of it... Note to Annemarie... you need to post a picture of yourself on your blog. No more invisible blogger for you!

MrsPeel is another friend of mine discovered through Scrapblog. She has been blogging much longer than I have but only recently opened her blog on google. I'm so glad that she's joined us. She always lifts my spirits through the heartfelt comments she leaves. Here's a photo of the lovely Mrs. Peel and her equally lovely daughter....

Since then, I've met many more people who have inspired me through their writings and photography, such as Caroline at The Zen in You, Deb at From Stilletos to Sneakers, Jen, Gill, and now even newer acquaintances such as Kaci, Angie, and Inga.

Being a part of this community has indeed enlightened me, inspired me, and entertained me! Thank you all for being a part of it!

May your new year be one of blessings, fulfillment, and hope!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Birthday Traditions

My daughter and I have a tradition. Each year on the eve of her birthday, we pull out the small Peter Rabbit photo album that contains photographs from her first, real, "birth" day. We read every entry in my pregnancy journal and relive what was in my heart during those pre-birth days. We read all of the journaling I created on her First Year Calendar, laughing over the cute little things she said and did. Discussing the first words she spoke, how she would put her elbow on my shoulder as I carried her through the house, how she waved "bye-bye" backwards. She marvels at the love I felt for this tiny baby not only after she was born but for those long months as I awaited her arrival.

Her birthday is mere days before Christmas, so it would be easy to let this tradition slip to the side during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. But we don't. It's too important to share those memories with her year after year. When we revisit her birth and those special months leading up to her first, real "birth" day, she knows how deep my love is for her. She knows how important she was to me then and how important she is now thirteen years later.

So, happy December birthday, Peanut! You are an amazing and precious child of God. I love you!



Friday, December 26, 2008

'Twas the Day After Christmas

'Twas the day after Christmas
and all through the house
boxes, wrappings, and bows
were littered about.

The stockings still hung
by the chimney with care
but goodies and gifts
were no longer there.

My one child was nestled
still snug in her bed;
she had stayed up too late
should've been sleeping instead.

And I in my PJs
sitting at my computer,
felt bad for my husband,
the workday commuter.

He had opened the office
always diligent it seems
so that people with new cars
could cover their insurance needs.

I knew in time
my vacation would end,
86 essays and grades
on me would depend.

But until then I'll sit here,
create, play, and pen
poems and greetings
for all my googleblog friends.

And then I'll find time
for some afternoon jogging;
scratch that, instead
I'll relax with my new "Artful Blogging!"

I hope you had a very Merry Christmas
and that your New Year will be a blessed one!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Tree of Memories

Christmas is definitely a favorite time of year for me. And while I am busy trying to create memories for my daughter, I can't let a day go by without thinking about my mother and how much she enjoyed this holiday.

Decorating was her forte. Her Christmas trees were so bedecked and bejeweled with ornaments and lights you could barely see the tree. I take after her in that regard. I like to wrap lights deep within the branches before I ever let them twinkle near the ends of the branches. I place the shiny ornaments also deep within the tree where they can shimmer and reflect the lights. I cluster groups of ornaments together... many of which came from my mother's attic when she decided to downsize many years ago.

I also have ornaments from trips Craig and I took together after we were married. London bobbies and a jeweled crown are just a couple of examples. Craig's mother also gave me some of Craig's old ornaments. A knitted skiier and tennis player are tucked amidst the branches... a steady reminder of my husband's childhood and the memories created by his family.

Some of my favorite ornaments are probably the ones with photographs. There's one of Craig when he was just a boy. There's one of Hannah and me during our last big snow, and there's one of us with Hannah when she was little.

And of course there are the handmade ornaments, which hold the highest place of honor on my tree. Crocheted wreaths made by my mother, a candy cane made by a friend's child, but most made by the precious little hands of my daughter. The spoon snowman, the snowflakes, the stars, and handprint are reminders of her childhood and how proud she was of these beautiful creations.

Christmas is definitely a time of memories and reflections. I hope you have time to reflect on Christmases past as you build memories for tomorrow!

P.S. Can you figure out who I am in the group photo?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Telephoto Tuesday

Hannah's grandmother, hostess extraordinaire, opened her home to more than 50 friends during a recent Christmas Tea. Here are a few shots from that fun event. Keep in mind, the hostess is a young 82. Her home is decorated to perfection and the foods she served were delicious. Lucky for me, her sweet son has inherited the hosting gene!

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Christmas Giveway from SevEn cLoWn CirCuS

I've been trying to get around and visit blogs this evening. Just as I visited the last one on my list, I discovered... a giveaway!! It's for a pair of earrings from Twisted Silver, a very cool shop of bling located right here, on the Internet!

So, when you've got a minute, visit Angie at SevEn cLoWn CirCus, then step on over to Twisted Silver, and check out the beautiful jewelry. Let Angie know your favorite, and you'll be entered to win!

By the way, my favorite earrings were the Mod ...

and the Cotton Pods....

'Ears hoping one of us will win!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

You never know when inspiration will strike. For me, it was today as I went through the mail. Our cable company had sent the cutest little card to us ... and I ... scraplifted! I'm sorry. I take pride in creating things with my own vision. But it was like they had used my vision to create their card. So, here it is... a special Christmas card for all of my scrapblog and googleblog friends! Inspired by cable, recreated by me!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Paparazzi Moment

I felt just like the paparazzi. With camera in hand, I would peek through the window, hoping to get just the right shot. Some of the pictures were taken through the wooden slats of the blinds. At other times, I nudged the door open and swiftly sprang forward hoping to capture exactly what I was looking for. But to no avail. The shot just wasn't there.

My eyes were seeing, perhaps envisioning, the perfect shot. The way the light played over intertwined limbs. The soft, almost imperceptible glow that lingered even though the rain was falling softly all around. But I couldn't quite capture it.

Finally, the soft mist cleared away and I knew (I knew) the shot was mine! A shot that would fill the front pages of tabloids, er computer screens, from one side of the globe to the other.

... well, at least in my blogosphere.

And, here it is...

A shot that I was intent on capturing... See how the light played on intertwined limbs? How that imperceptible glow was shining through?

I think I was trying to be Octamom. I wanted my camera to catch what my eyes were seeing. Right then. Right there. On the rainy days of Thanksgiving, the leaves on these trees had such a beautiful glow on and through them that I was determined (determined) to capture it on film. I knew Octamom could do it. But my camera kept failing me! I tried natural light, forced flash, automatic flash. I played with the f-stop (I think), but I still couldn't capture what I was seeing.

So, I had to wait. And finally, when the sun was shining just a bit brighter, I stepped onto my porch, one more time, to try to capture the beauty that God brings to us each and every day. And I felt like I had finally caught it. A photograph days in the making was finally mine. At least... almost. I still don't think I totally, totally, caught the beauty I had been stalking. But, it's close.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Finding Happiness Down Memory Lane

I couldn't help but revisit my childhood today when I saw Sir Tom Jones on the "Today" show. His voice brought back memories of my childhood. You see, even though she didn't openly admit it, I always knew my mom carried a torch for this Welsh singer. In fact, I don't think a week passed that we didn't watch the Tom Jones Show together. While she, no doubt, was watching his performance and drinking in his intoxicating accent, I was performing as one of the dancers on his show, albeit on the shag carpet of our living room instead of on stage with him.

Fast forward to the 1980s. My mother was going through a difficult time when I happened to see an advertisement that Tom Jones would be appearing at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. I bought tickets and surprised my mom. She had no idea where we were going until she saw his name in lights on the Fox Theatre marquee.

While she was busy watching Sir Tom perform on stage, I couldn't help but watch her. What wonderful smiles lit up her face that had for months been drawn and sad. Tom Jones, live in concert, chest-baring shirt and all!

I've never been great at touching others' lives. I tend to stay in my own little world way too much. But on that day, I struck gold. I brought happiness to someone else, and I probably enjoyed it more than she did! My mom passed away several years ago, so the visit with Sir Tom this morning brought back more than childhood memories. It brought my mom back for a short little visit as I reminisced about that star-studded night we shared many years ago.

Who have you brought happiness to recently? It may be through daily displays of love and affection or something a little more out of the ordinary. In any event, I would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Telephoto Tuesday

Another photo of Hannah and Grace.... Can't you just feel the love?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

And Then There Was Grace...

Meet our newest addition to the family. Isn't she precious? No, she's not mine, although we would love to bring her home with us. She's Hannah's newest cousin (albeit a bit removed), and she is a precious, joyful baby.

Hannah, who has always loved babies and younger children, practically beamed when she reminded me that her own name means grace, and baby Grace is named Grace. She is certain that this name connection is something special... a special bond that will link their two hearts and souls forever.

So as I was getting ready to load the photograph, I decided to explore the origins of a few names.... and this is what I found out.

As I knew, the name "Hannah" is a Hebrew name that does, indeed, mean grace. In the Old Testament, Hannah is the mother of Samuel, her long-yearned for son, who becomes a prophet. The name has been quite popular through the years. When I chose the name, it was the 7th-most popular girl's name in the United States. And although I chose the name without any baby-naming guidebooks, I found out that its popularity grew after I chose it... hitting the second top spot in the country within a few short years.

My name has never been an easy one to locate in the touristy trinkets department while on vacation. As a child growing up, I never had a bike tag with my name on it, nor a keychain, nor anything else for that matter. But I have always known how special my name is because it originated from two very special people, my maternal grandparents Robert and Anne.

Those names gave me more to work with. I first looked up "Robert" and found that it originated in France and means "bright fame." Although I know his ancestors are from Ireland, it seems he might have been named for either a saint or one of three kings of Scotland (which seems unlikely). And "Anne" gave me a surprise. Anne is a Hebrew name meaning... grace! Just like my daughter's name. And I didn't even know it.

While "Hannah" has been the more popular of the two (my "Anne" was never ranked higher than 57), they are connected in origin and meaning, which is a delightful discovery to me.

And now there is baby Grace... and the legacy of grace continues.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Telephoto Tuesday

While many of you were enjoying the feeling of Autumn several weeks ago, the season of colorful leaves and crisp, cool weather was, as usual, slow to arrive in my home state. Yet, suddenly, there it was. Fall! The cool weather lured me outside and to the nearby river where I caught the light and its shadows dancing among the silvery ripples.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

And I Had it All Along

As many of you already know, I'm always looking for perfection in life. And I must admit that I often look at others as symbolizing what is perfect. For instance, I have always thought that a friend of mine had the perfect home. It exuded warmth from before you even set foot in the front door. In the evenings, the warm glow of Pottery Barn lamps seeped through the windows. Family and friends always seemed to linger in the kitchen, where the sweet aroma of bread or biscotti filled the air. It just seemed like the perfect example of cozy warmth.

Now mind you, this friend was a stay-at-home mom. With her children in school all day, I could understand how her home could maintain this sense of warmth, while I toiled at work from sun-up to sun-set it seemed. An excuse, perhaps, for my home to be a little... well... messy and not so warm.

So this fall I decided that my home, too, would exude warmth. That my husband and daughter would immediately feel my love when they walked through the front door. I bought new fall flowers to create an artful display of welcome for the front door.

I bought some small pumpkins and gourds to warm up my kitchen.

Then came the revelation. One evening as I finished reading The Shack on my back deck, I paused and looked... really looked into my home. And I saw it. It wasn't the decorative gourds, nor the beautiful fall flowers that gave my home a sense of warmth. It was love. And it was there, right there, in my home. Without fancy props, without expensive trappings, my home did exude warmth. And I smiled.

At times, we may be so busy trying to live up to high standards we set for ourselves and our own image of perfection that we don't even realize that we've exceeded our own expectations. And it really doesn't have to cost a cent or take too much time to accomplish. We possess it all along in the form of hugs, encouragement, and kisses.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sleep... I Can't Get No Satisfaction

But I try, and I try, and I try, and I try...

Not many of you recognize these lyrics probably (if they are the actual lyrics), but it's an old song that popped into my head when I began thinking about Octamom's post regarding sleep.

When she asked what others think about sleep, she opened a trunk-load of issues that I have developed about sleep. In fact, from the time I was nursing my daughter, I believe I developed one major sleep disorder. Staying awake became a common occurrence, and I'm still having issues with sleep.

First of all, I need it! Desperately. Although the past few weeks have been better, I will go for days getting only four to five hours of sleep. I watch the clock tick rapidly toward morning, and I try, really try, to go to bed. But the problem is, I'm a night owl. Which isn't a problem if you can sleep late the next day. But when you have to be at work by 7:30, and it takes nearly 30 minutes to get to work and to the dreaded sign-in sheet, being a night owl is not a wise thing to be!

Night, it seems, is when my creativity fires up. I can create things for my students to do, I can grade papers, I can create lessons, I can scrapblog, I can get on our blogs and follow link after link just to see what's new. (I can't clean or iron though. That would disrupt my sleeping family!)

Then, after mere hours of sleep, I drag myself out of bed feeling not-so-creative any more!

There was a time, however, when I was an early-bird. I woke up each morning at 5:30to run before the day had begun. And oh how I loved those morning runs. As I began a slow jog down my road, I would often spot shooting stars streaking across the heavens. Deer would wag their white-tails off the shoulder of the road (often giving me a fright before I figured out what they were). No watch was needed to tell me when it was time to head home. A train's whistle did the job -- same time every single day. And the sound of a Chuck-will's-Widow greeted me as I made the final turn back towards home.

Sure I've read a lot about creating a bedtime ritual. And I do start off with one. I take a warm bath with drops of lavender scenting the water and the air around me. I "feel" snuggly and warm... just right for sleep. I usually prefer to browse through a magazine (no heavy reading at bedtime). And all is well until I decide to check my e-mail - for just a minute. And the minute turns into an hour, and e-mail turns into writing a new lesson plan, and the lesson plan turns into additional materials to be used at school, and the additional materials turn into... Do you get the picture?

But I digress. I prefer seven to eight hours of sleep, although I can get by quite well with five (for a day or two). And the culprit really is having too much to do and too much that I want to do. There are just not enough hours in the day to do all that needs to be done. And when I am at home, I try not to do too much work while everyone's awake. I save it for their bedtimes, which means I can't get no... satisfaction when it comes to S.L.E.E.P!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees

I loved the book... now, the movie is out. At least it opened this weekend in the U.S. I haven't seen it yet. I'm trying to decide whether the PG-13 rating is okay for my 12-year-old or not. Probably not. Most movies with the PG-13 rating are really okay for those 18 and older... not 13. So, if you see the movie, let me know what you think. I, for one, can't wait to see it!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Comfort Foods... What's Yours?

As my daughter and I were driving home from a football game this past week, I asked her what she wanted for dinner. It was one of those rare nights when my husband is out of town and it's up to me to put dinner on the table. Now, granted, I'm not a great cook, but I did learn a new dish this past summer that is delicious (thank you, Paula Dean), and I can put some tasty vegetables on the table, but my daughter knew just what she wanted.

"Red Noodle Soup," she said without an ounce of hesitation in her voice.

"Are you sure?" I asked. This would be pasta night #2 if we went with Red Noodle Soup.

"Yes," she replied. "Definitely."

When most people hear what the ingredients are for my family's own Red Noodle Soup recipe, they make faces. Sometimes they even vocalize their distaste with a "yuck." But for my daughter, Red Noodle Soup is comfort food. It's what we eat when her dad's away. It's a Saturday lunch. It's comfort.

It's what I ate as a kid -- probably because my mother had worked hard all day and didn't have the energy or the time to put a meal on the table. Perhaps it was all my sisters and I knew how to cook. At least it has seemed that way as I've gotten older and acknowledged, regretfully, my shortcomings in the kitchen.

And fortunately for my daughter, its three ingredients place it directly where it needs to be on the food pyramid. It's healthy. Really. It counts as a grain, it doubles as a powerful cancer-fighting antioxidant and fruit, and it's a dairy product.
  • 3/4 of a box of sea shell noodles (too many and it doesn't leave enough sauce) Why sea shells? They hold the sauce in them like tiny cups. When you bite into a sea shell, you get to savor the flavor of the sauce as it seeps out. Preferred brand: Mueller's. (Yes, there's a difference).

  • 1 16-ounce can of tomato sauce (it can't have oregano or basil or any other added ingredients... it can't be stewed tomatoes or anything resembling a jar of spaghetti sauce. Only tomato sauce. Preferred brand: Hunt's.
  • A dollop (rather big) of butter or a butter-wanna-be.

I saw that! You scrunched up your nose and nearly said, "yuck." But I urge you to not turn your back on my daughter's comfort food unless you try it first.

Now, I certainly claim Red Noodle Soup as a comfort food, but for me, creamed potatoes rank at the top of my list. ... a side dish my mother always cooked for me when she knew I was going to be driving up for a visit. ... Not too creamy, though. Probably "mashed" is more like it. Just chunky enough to let me know that real potatoes were washed and peeled and cut and boiled and mashed... not some fake flakes packaged in a box.

So what's your comfort food? What do your children ask for when it's just you and them scraping together a quick dinner? I want to know... And, as you can guess, I can use a few recipes, too!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Me, Quirky? Say It Ain't So!

Quirky might actually be an understatement....

Okay, I was tagged by Miruspeg and Mommy2Twinkies and had to come up with seven quirky things I do. Problem was, after counting seven I could have continued, but I decided to combine a couple and disregard the rest. No one wants to read that much about me!

1. To get the ideas rolling, I asked my daughter if I had any quirks. "Yes," she said with a snicker. "You read magazines from the back to the front." Actually, I don't begin reading an article until I get to the first page of the article, then I proceed to read it the way it was meant to be read. But she's right. I always start in the back and work my way forward.

2. When I worked full time as a writer, I would walk to the restroom and wash my hands before starting a new writing project. And if I got bogged down with the details... a/k/a a small moment of writer's block... I would take that little walk again and re-wash my hands. I guess I was clearing my mind while cleaning my hands.

3. Combo #1: I never let my tennis partner or opposing player change the score. If someone changed it, I always had to "straighten it up," before I could start playing again. And this "straightening up" had to be done with me never changing my grip on my racket.

4. I doodle ceaselessly while waiting for my computer to catch up with whatever I am attempting to do. Boxes, faces, letters, and words. You name it; I doodle it.

5. I organize the books in my home office by subject.

6. Combo #2: After taking my shower in the morning, I put my PJ's back on until I've finished putting on a little make-up and drying my hair. I also wear socks - always - while in my house.

7. I leave e-mails in my inbox... forever. It may soon runneth over.

8. And, although I was only supposed to come up with seven, I have to add one more. For a while I woke up at 3:16 a.m. every morning. Last night, I was trying to remember what time I used to wake up (thanks to another post). And although I knew it was sometime around 3 a.m., I couldn't remember exactly when. This morning I woke up, but kept my eyes closed for about a minute. When I opened them, it was 3:17 a.m. Then I remembered! 3:16 a.m....

9. Okay. One more. Just one more. After checking out the quirks of MCMGrad89, I had to add this one: I love tomato sauce, spaghetti, and even drink tomato juice. But I HATE ketchup. I won't even touch the bottle. Can't even imagine closing the lid. I don't, and I mean absolutely won't, touch ketchup.

I call these little habits "quirks." Please don't call them anything else!
P.S. I'm afraid everyone I know has already been tagged. It looks like the quirks stop here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I have been so amazed by the gifts of Akiane Kramarik, I felt compelled to create a scrapblog about her. After getting permission from her people, I got to work capturing images of her paintings and the comments and poetry she created to go with them.

Regardless of your particular faith, I hope you will take a look at her creations. She began drawing at age four and at the age of eight had sold her first painting for $10,000. She is a girl with remarkable gifts... a prodigy, or someone who has simply been blessed. Hopefully, you can click on this link and go to the scrapblog.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Okay, I have to admit that I had not thought of writing about my birthday until I read AVT Coach's self-birthday blog. We either share the same birthday, or are only a day apart... at this time of night (or morning), it's hard for me to figure that out!

She has a wonderful entry about what it means to be a Libra... and it fits me perfectly, although maybe not the "keeps the house tidy" part. Although I used to do my share of cleaning, I seem so busy with school work or tired from school work that cleaning takes a back seat. But oh how I love a clean house!

My husband sent me off in style this morning with a Chik-fil-a biscuit and fountain Coke.... (love the bubbles...). It was delicious, but I have to give him credit for preparing even tastier morning treats for me when it's not my birthday. The fountain coke, though, was really special. When I got home this evening, he had a tasty tray of appetizers waiting. All my favorites, such as sushi and a bowl of hummus with warm pita bread. Dinner, which again is quite tasty when he cooks, was courtesy of our local Greek restaurant, Papouli's. Again, he brought home a favorite of mine. This guy knows me well.

And my present.... a new camera! A digital of my own. No more borrowing my daughter's. And although I've moved into the digital age, I will continue to have a soft spot in my heart for my 35mm Canon. My first "real" camera, and one that has produced amazingly beautiful shots of my precious girl.

I've added two photographs of me. One is current, and the other was made in either 7th or 8th grade.... The same age as the students I teach!

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Mosaic

I found this fun thing to do on McMGrad89's blog. The hardest part was finding a photo when I entered my name! Here it is, though... along with credits (I hope!).

Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr search, using only the first page, choose your favorite image, copy and paste each of the URL’s into the mosaic maker (4 columns, 3 rows).

The questions:
1. What is your first name? (Roban, so I used a photo of Robanov Kot a/k/a Roban's Corner)
2. What is your favorite food? (Pasta)
3. What high school did you attend? (Cedartown HS)
4. What is your favorite color? (Blue/Green)
5. Who is your celebrity crush? (Jonathan Rheys Meyers)
6. Favorite drink? (an ice cold coke, when not drinking a peppermint mocha frappacino)
7. Dream vacation? (A quick little trip into space)
8. Favorite dessert? (Coffee Ice Cream)
9. What do you want to be when you grow up? (Free from worry)
10.What do you love most in life? (The love of my family)
11. One word to describe you. (Worrier)
12. Your Flickr name. (A non-flickr name: Flygirl, an ode to my flying days)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

On Memories and Writing

I finished this school week with a sense of satisfaction... feeling a little like a fat cat after finishing off a delicious meal. It's always this way after my students finish a big project. Although for me, the project is a long way from being finished. In fact, it awaits my attention now. All 90 tasty tidbits of writing that I will consume over this weekend and possibly next week, too.

The tidbits are actually memoirs my students have been writing this past week. And while some may be more like appetizers, I know that I have some five-course meals somewhere in the stack ready to be consumed. Regardless of the outcome, I am so proud of the effort put forth by my students. Only a handful gave half-hearted attempts and resisted efforts to revise. All of the others dove in, working diligently to not only produce their first drafts but to thoughtfully revise their work based on my suggestions.

Memoirs are a little tricky with 8th-graders. Some have already experienced more sadness and heartbreak than many adults have experienced. Issues of abandonment and loss are often the norm, whether their experiences have been based on the death of a parent, or the fact that a parent left home and never returned. Runaway parents, I suppose.... who are free to remain runaways even though their children suffer the consequences.

A few memoirs bring tears to my eyes, and there's always one or two that truly unleash my tears. I look at my students in a new light when I've finished reading their stories. Now I know why one may not smile, why one doesn't see the need for school, and why others are, well... like they are.

I always caution students who choose to write about the sad parts of life; I remind them that their stories can be about any event or person that has made an impact on them. For some, however, the happy parts are just not there. For them, the sad parts are their stories. But these stories are not just an assignment to be turned in. These stories give them a voice and a chance to be heard in a world that is not always listening.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Creating and the Art of Perfection

Perfection can really stand in the way of creativity. At least it has for me.

I've always enjoyed looking at the wonderful creations featured in scrapbook and stamping magazines, but instead of feeling inspired, I felt too much in awe of the creativity splashed across the pages to try a new technique on my own. Oh, I've dabbled here and there, but I never felt that I could really create something unique on my own.

That changed a bit when my daughter led me to the wonderful site of On this digital scrapbooking site, I can try different backgrounds, stickers, and color combinations... and if I don't like them, I can start over and choose other elements to create a page. I've particularly enjoyed layering different elements, which has been much easier to do digitally than with paper.

Now, I have to admit that I'm still intimidated a bit by the oodles of talent on that site. As I am here when I visit places like Small Creations, where the talented Audrey shares her unique cards and projects, some of which I've seen in magazines such as Inspiration and Artful Blogging.

But I'm trying to be realistic, rather than perfect. And to enjoy the process of creating as much as the final creation.

So, instead of hiding in the background, I'm sharing one of my creations.... It's a page from my "The Secret Life of Bees" scrapblog, on which I mixed a stamped/tinted image with the goodies on While I believe my creativity is still in its infancy, I will put perfection to the side, continue to marvel at the creativity I find, and do my best to enjoy the process as much as the final product.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

New Header... Doesn't Fit!

I wanted to create my very own heading, but it doesn't quite fit the space. The original heading shows through on one side, while the new heading extends a little too far on the right. Hmmm. Anyway, here's the header... posted here instead!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Feelings of Comfort

When Octamom wrote about feeling loved and cherished, it made me think of my own childhood and my life now with Hannah and her dad. The painting of my childhood is not as colorful nor as cheerful as hers, but there are memories I savor.

Of spending time with my grandmother whose love for fabric was woven into my layers, yet in the form of papers and fibers. Of playing Barbies with my sister, who may have been a little too old and definitely a little bored with the idea, but played anyway. Of the same sister slipping me extra money on Friday nights when I went to the skating rink, so I could eat or play games while I was there. Of drifting into other worlds and other people's lives through the books and stories I read as a child. That was a safe haven for me.

And while my childhood memories may have been fraught with more anxiety than comfort, I am blessed and I do feel loved and cherished now. And it's the simple acts that really wrap me up cozily in this feeling of comfort. Having my breakfast warm and ready as I walk out the door each morning for school. And the packed lunchbag tucked under my arm. I'm always delighted and surprised to see what my husband has chosen or prepared for me. Dinners created, flowers given, and those cards! Not much of a talker, my husband can write three or four words that are just perfect. Words that sum up his feelings in a way that would take me 100 or 200 words to do.

It's not even the actions that give me total comfort. It's just being here. In this home with this family of mine. It's lazy Saturdays when I can clean or create. It's the smell of dinner cooking or the fresh just-showered smell that lingers in the bathroom after one of us has showered. It's feeling safe even when alone. It's the comfort of our dog, Scout, as he curls up next to me... all 70 pounds! It's being snuggled up with Hannah while we look at magazines, read, or watch something on TV together. Or just talk. It's drinking a cup of hot chocolate and then dozing off to sleep and waking to find a warm afghan over me.

Sadly, my childhood is probably typical for many of the children I teach. For all those children who don't feel cherished and loved, there is hope and a prayer... that their lives will also be blessed and rich in abundant love.

The Getty Villa

I'm always amazed to see artifacts from the ancient past and can linger in museums of hours. Luckily for me, Hannah and I were invited to visit the Getty Villa during our summer trip to California. Located off the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, this beautiful villa is home to an amazing collection of Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities.

Walking through the Getty Villa was like walking into the past. The landscape and architecture were modeled after Italy's Villa dei Papiri, an ancient villa that was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Sadly, Getty never had a chance to see the completed villa, but thanks to his vision and love for ancient art, we can.
If you'd like to learn more, you can visit the Web site at:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Clinical Study (Afterthoughts)

Imagine spending four days and three nights in a hospital bed, and you aren't even sick. Imagine having three to five vials of blood drawn every fifteen minutes for several hours, and there is nothing wrong with you. That was my experience in mid-July when I volunteered to take part in a clinical trial that is being conducted by the CDC and Emory University Hospital.

I checked in on a Monday afternoon and quickly settled into my room -- a regular hospital room in the research wing of the hospital. After meeting the principal investigator of the study, I made myself at home by setting up my laptop and stacking a few magazines and books nearby. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I underwent two MRIs and was hooked to an EKG for a while. The MRIs required me to think as it captured images of my brain as I tried to work problems on a computer screen that was projected into the MRI. Tuesday was probably the most relaxing day, as the MRI on Wednesday seemed to take longer. For a few short days, I felt as if I was on a vacation. I devoured a wonderful novel, "The Kite Runner," and ate some actually tasty meals that were delivered to me as I sat comfortably in my room.

The "vacation" came to a screeching halt on the last day of my stay. It was on this day that even more was required of me as a volunteer participant. More blood was drawn more often, and I had to think on my feet as I finished the testing portion of the study.

Would I do it again? Probably. All of the medical advances we enjoy today were achieved through research and through the hard work and dedication of the physicians and researchers who devise the studies and see them through (which most often takes years and even decades to reach). By volunteering as a study participant, I, too, can help move medical science forward. Even if I do lose a little blood in the process.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Clinical Study (Day 1)

This is definitely a first for me. After taking part in two CDC-Emory studies in Macon, I was selected as a volunteer for a larger study that is taking place at Emory's clinical research center in Atlanta. Today was my admission day, so I'm sitting here in a hospital room while completely healthy! I 've already talked to Craig and Hannah, visited the gift shop (window shopped only... it was closed!), and watched several episodes of Jon & Kate Plus Eight.

My room is a regular hospital room containing one bed (head and feet adjust so that should be fun!), three chairs, a nightstand, and one of the rolling tables that also serve as a food tray. I have a small bathroom and even smaller towels. All they did today was take blood and other bodily fluids, had me checked out by one of the doctors involved in the study, and gave me several computerized questionnaires to complete. Tomorrow, I will begin the day chewing small bits of cottony-type material at specified times, so they can check my saliva for cortisol and/or other things.

Although I will not benefit from the tests, this is an interesting way to help others. Hopefully, from the study, medical mysteries will be solved!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I have had the best time on Scrapblog! This digital design Web site makes me feel like a graphic designer! It has all of the papers, fonts, embellishments, and tools to create professional-looking pages. And I do it all right here in my home office, or at the beach, or wherever life takes me! Warning though... it's addictive! But free. If you haven't experienced the life of a graphic designer, do it now! Visit Scrapblog and create art.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Destin "Final Days"

Hannah and I enjoyed our last couple of days in Destin. On Friday, we spent hours at the beach and soaked up the glorious sunset. On Saturday, we spent more time at the pool and did a little last minute shopping. It was all good! Our drive home was uneventful, except for the storm clouds and torrential rains that followed us much of the way! We can't thank Brian enough for letting us stay at his beach home. It was a wonderful week in a wonderful setting!