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.