Friday, April 24, 2009

Nana's Smiling Boy

Here's one of the cutest smiles you'd ever want to see! DD took the pic yesterday - can you believe how he is growing?? She called me yesterday afternoon so I could hear him giggling! What a sweetie!


Hurrah! Woke up this morning & the "scrapper's block" was gone! Marched right into my craft room & did the prom layout in less than half an hour! Don't know how that happened - maybe I worked through it in my sleep - whatever the reason I am thrilled!!! I'll share a pic of it later.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Trying to Scrap but Stuck on the Details!

I'm having the worst time getting started scrapping an album for myself. When I do them for other people I always know exactly how I want them to be (go figure) but for myself I just go back & forth about every little decision & end up not scrapping at all. Aaargh!

When this happens how do you stop going back & forth about album size, which photos to use, whether or not to include old BFs/GFs in prom pics, whether to try to have a theme to the album or just use whatever you like at the moment, & on & on...??? I'm starting to wish I just had about 2 dozen photos, 1 album, 1 pen/marker, 1 type of paper, and 1 set of embellishments. Then it might be easy.

Aaack! Hang on, put those materials down!! Just because I said I'd do better without them doesn't mean I meant it!! I love all my scrapping goodies!! I just need to make some decisions & get down to work though... otherwise this will continue to be more of a collection than a hobby!

At the moment album size is the biggest stumbling block. I love working with 12x12, but the albums are so heavy & bulky to carry around that I kind of prefer the 8x8... except that there's not enough room per page for all the journaling etc. that i like to include with my pics.

I'd like to be able to make photocopies in case my kids or somebody want them, and finding a place that will do 12x12 color copies for a reasonable price is just about impossible. The easiest way to get around that would be to use 8 1/2 x 11 but I don't want to - I strongly prefer working with a square page... which brings us back to the first paragraph (above)!

Ok, anybody have any suggestions (other than QuitFiddlingAroundAndGetToWork" or "EitherFishOrGetOffTheBoat"? LOL!

Friday, April 17, 2009

New Products to Try

I love to try new products but hate wasting money. That's why I'm excited about this list compiled by Self magazine after they had 855 of their readers test over 1,000 beauty products. Unlike many "best of" lists, this one actually has many afforable proucts including 35 that cost $10. or less!
I'm definitely going to try some of these whenever it's time for me to replace a product I already have. You can see the list along with comments by the testers by clicking on the title above. There's even a printable shopping list-

Monday, April 13, 2009

John & Kate plus Eight

I'm watching John & Kate plus Eight on TLC right now and BOY is Kate being grouchy! I've heard that she & her husband are having trouble & I can understand why. Not only is there the stress caused by trying to manage a large family, but she treats her husband like he's one of the kids. He's very easy going & doesn't complain about it but you know it has to get to him sooner or later! I hope they can work things out though - can you imagine trying to raise that many kids by yourself???

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The "Nana Blanket"

The "Nana Blanket" was so-named by my granddaughter Ashley who would ask specifically for "the blanket Nana made me", gradually shortened to "my Nana Blanket". Her mom (my daughter) swears that it has magical properties, soothing and putting to sleep even the most restless child.

Last week I gave my little grandson his Nana Blanket. His sisters were so happy that he has his own! (They'd been taking turns letting him use theirs.) Since I have 4 grandchildren this was the 4th blanket I've made of the same fluffy, thick, amazingly soft yarn. Since this is probably my last grandchild, this may also be the last Nana Blanket! We wrapped Andy up in it & guess what? He went right to sleep!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Update on the phone conversation


Well, I'm much calmer now than I was when I wrote my last post (thank goodness!). Something surprising happened last night: my mom called me "just to talk". She never ever does that! Never. She sounded really nervous but just chit chatted, no mention of the conversation of the day before.

I guess maybe this was her way of apologizing or making sure that we were "ok" with our relationship. I don't know. Anyway, I actually felt kind of sorry for her because she sounded so very nervous. People don't get the way she is without having something pretty bad happen to them early in life & normally I remind myself of this instead of letting it all get to me like it did Wed. night.

I do think it was ok that I said what I did. While I want to be careful about her feelings I still need to allow myself to protect my own (feelings).

Thanks for listening. :-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hidden Family Photos

I just got off the phone with my mother and I'm so mad I just want to scream, throw things, go to her house and throw everything in it out into the yard and then set it on fire. She is being mean and selfish and I am sick of it... and before I say anything that might send me off to jail I should probably shut up and go do something physical like cleaning to release my anger. Before I do though, I need to "talk" about this a bit.

My parents took tons of photos when my sister and I were growing up. When we were teenagers my mother got mad at my dad and to punish him she hid all of the photos. (This was in retaliation for his getting into them & taking out his favorites, ruining the "perfect order" that they had been in.) It may be hard to believe as you read the rest of this, but my mom is actually very much a perfectionist at heart.

Anyway, those pictures were stashed away in 1975 and nobody has been allowed to see them since. We (my sister and I) have asked repeatedly to see them or at to borrow a few so we could make copies to show our children & to scrapbook so later generations could enjoy them. We even offered to let her go with us to make the copies so that she could see we weren't trying to steal them or harm them in any way. She flatly refused.

She and my dad will both be 78 this year. Tonight I asked her (on the phone) if she could just tell me where the photos are so that if something were to happen to her we'd know where to look. She said no. Long story short, she totally refused to tell me even if I promised not to try to get them out. She said that after she's gone we can find them ourselves.

To understand the enormity of meanness in that statement you have to understand that my mother is a hoarder. We're talking to the extreme - as in something you'd see on television on a show about mental illness. There is no way you could go through everything in that house, even if you had several people working non-stop for months. It would take years. This is not an exaggeration.

I didn't realize it but hoarding is a problem many normal-seeming people have, and with which their children must deal. To look at my parents you'd never guess that their house is full of stuff. They are both well groomed, intelligent, successful people.

There are a number of resources available if you're interested in learning more about hoarders. Many are listed here: and some short videos are posted there as well.

When I watched this one & got to the part about there being a hair taped to the door I just burst into tears - that very situation is/was in our house but I had no idea that anybody else had ever experienced it. If you want to take a few minutes to "hear" the voices of those living with a hoarder, it's here:

The part about her choosing "Things" over family is one of the most painful parts of the whole thing. I just feel drained right now so I can't even begin to go into how it has (and still does) affect the lives of my family. Just suffice to say that we can't visit her because there isn't room for people to sit down (besides her & dad) and the stacks are so high that my daughter is afraid to take her children there because something could (seriously) fall over & kill them. Magazines, etc. are piled up to within inches of the ceiling.

The air quality is so bad that my husband avoids even going inside since he has lung problems, and I have to take major doses of allergy med to be in the house at all. We're afraid to let our dogs' feet touch the floor because of the risk that they'll find something poisonous, and several family members have actually become ill from eating food that's outdated... in fact my husband has flat refused to eat a bit of anything there for years. When my sister & I insisted on clearing out the outdated food mom got absolutely hysterical when she discovered what we were doing. That's a long, long story for another time.

Anyway, I feel a little better now that I've "talked" about it a bit. Actually a lot better. Usually I can't say a thing about it because I am so ashamed that they live that way, but I can't do anything about it because they flat refuse to let me. Did you know that when you open what used to be the silverware drawer, it is completely filled to the brim with twist-ties (from bread wrappers)? We're talking a normal sized kitchen drawer here folks, can you imagine how many ties that is?

When I suggested getting rid of some of them she went ballastic. Same thing with the literally hundreds of empty plastic containers from butter, etc. She said she NEEDS them. Expand this kind of thinking to fill the whole (5-bedroom, 2 story) house... how many construction dumpsters will it take to clear this out when she is gone? She has proudly stated that we'll need to go through every little thing because she has some good things hidden. For instance, her good diamonds are hidden in empty cold cream jars with cotton balls packed inside so they won't rattle. News flash: I don't think it's worth it.

As you can see, the family photos are just a tiny part of the whole insane situation. From the reading I've done it seems that there's not really a solution to the problem. It's a type of OCD but OCD meds aren't all that effective.

When I first discovered that it's an illness it made me feel a little less angry about it, but tonight, trying to have a rational discussion with her about the photos, the anger came flooding back. Of course I stayed calm & "nice" while on the phone because that's what I was taught to do - keep any "bad" feelings stuffed down inside & let it destroy your soul... because your soul doesn't matter nearly as much as the importance of keeping others (especially your mother) from feeling uncomfortable.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Goodbye Ice Fishermen, Hello Swans!

We may not have flowers blooming like Shannon in California and we don't have trees budding like Jason in Cincinnati, but yesterday we finally got one tiny little hint of Spring!

Over the past few days the lakes have been thawing. (It was scary seeing the ice fishermen still out on them this weekend!) Yesterday in the lake nearest my house there appeared a little melted opening in the midst of the remaining ice, and guess what? A swan was floating in it!! It had a patient air about it, like it was saying "ok, I'll just hang out here 'til the rest of the lake thaws".

I started loving swans when I was a little girl & my grandmother read "The Ugly Duckling" to me. Until I moved up here I'd only seen them in captivity. I nearly ran off the road when I first saw a flock here just swimming casually swimming around! Here in Michigan they're on nearly every lake you pass, and even after living here for years I still get excited about them!! They just amaze me, they're so majestic in the water & so huge when they fly that you have to wonder how they ever got off the ground!

Here's a photo I took one Spring when my favorite pair of swans were taking turns sitting on their eggs. (If you look closely you can see their nest - it is just huge... and my California & Texas friends will want to note that there's not a single bit of spring green appearing, even though it was taken in April!) I pass by them on my way to work every day & enjoy watching their progress as they build the nest, then seeing them sitting there warming the eggs, and finally the thrill of seeing the babies all out swimming in a row behind their parents! Did you know that swans mate for life? This week they brightened my life by letting me know that YES, Spring IS coming, even to the land of ice & snow!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Real-life Transformers?

Here in Michigan this was being told as true & is the funniest thing - of course it's totally made up but wouldn't it be great if they really did have something this way? It'd be like one of those "transformer" toys from the 90's! (Before reading it you non-Michiganders should know that MI-DOT stands for Michigan Department of Transportation. MI-DOT trucks are huge bright yellow trucks with enormous plows on the front & a big salt-spreading devices on the back. They sport flashing yellow lights so that you won't run into them during a white-out.)

Look out for MI-DOT trucks parked along the road or suddenly appearing behind you pacing you - it could be a Trooper driving the truck. Called 'Operation Yellow Jacket', each Michigan State Police District has a truck cleaned up and ready to go! These trucks have specially modified engines that can virtually catapult the truck from snow-plow speed to intercept speed in seconds. And when the engine boost kicks in, the warning lights automatically change from flashing yellow to the dreaded red and blue!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Clearing Out

It was sunny today & that got me in the mood to clear out some "stuff".

Recently FlyLady (my sister frequently sends me her articles) said a good way to clear out excess "stuff" is to pretend that you're moving. Get rid of the things that you'd toss (or donate) if you knew you'd be having to pack up and carry everything you keep. I thought that was a great idea!

If you don't have a sister who sends you FlyLady articles, you can check them out for yourself at You can also sign up there to automatically receive FlyLady e-mails but do be aware that she sends a LOT. :-)

Friday, January 23, 2009

My Friday

Well I haven't made it to any of the scrapbook crops yet but I did get out & have some fun today! I got together with a couple of my friends who I hadn't seen since October. We went to an Indian restaurant that was WONDERFUL! I forget the name... it's Bombay something... anyway, we had a lot of fun there laughing & catching up on things.

We had planned to play Scrabble afterwards but ended up just visiting instead. One of the girls had to go home early so the other one (Jan) and I went to her house for a while. Her granddaughter was there. She just graduated from college in December & is a really nice girl, so I enjoyed talking with her and Jan's husband as well as Jan.

When I got home I watched the season premier of Lost which I'd taped Wed. night. It was good but not as good as I'd hoped. Afterwards I was chatting on-line with one of my former students whose mother Betsy was one of my best friends before I moved up here. We met in 1995 when her son was in my first kindergarten class. I was new in town & she was the first person who befriended me. She is so funny and has a heart of gold.

Well, turns out she has stage 4 colon cancer which has spread to her liver. I'm still in shock. Her daughter gave me her cell phone # so I called her at the hospital & we talked for about 20 minutes. She sounded pretty drugged up. She had surgery several weeks ago but has had all sorts of problems & complications so she's still in the hospital. Anyway, if you'd like to say a prayer for Betsy I know she'd appreciate it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Scrapbooking Friends

I think I need to get out & make more friends locally. In the winter I tend to be a bit of a hermit which isn't really good.
I'm thinking about going to a crop at our local scrapbooking store. Whenever I'm in there everyone seems very nice & now that they've moved they're a LOT closer to my house. :-) It would be nice to have friends with common interests who live reasonably close, don't you think? I have some wonderful friends on the scrapbooking forum but they all live too far away for us to be able to scrap together. So... we'll see if I actually make it to a crop. I wish my sister was here - we could go to it together & that would be fun.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Maya Angelou on Getting Older

Today in an e-mail I received these quotes that I want to remember. Some I'd heard before and some I hadn't. They're just a few of the answers Maya Angelou gave to Oprah Winfrey when Oprah asked what she had learned during her 70 years.

'I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.'

'I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.'

'I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back..'

'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.'

Monday, January 5, 2009

Beware the Cookie Dough!

My granddaughters were selling cookie dough in November so, being a good Nana & Papaw, we ordered a tub from each of them. They delivered it during Christmas break and OMGosh it is SO dangerous to have that stuff in the house! It should come with a warning: The Surgeon General has determined that dough could be hazardous to your waistline.

The dough is all mixed & ready to go. All you have to do is bake it... or get yourself a spoonful and eat it like a lollipop! Yes, I know it has raw egg in it. No, that doesn't stop me from doing it!

It is SO yummy, both raw and when baked into a cookie.It' SO quick & easy & readily available - it's very much like having a tray of margaritas sitting on an alcoholic's coffee table, or a big bowl of Vicodin by an addict's bed.

It's there for the taking - and boy have we ever been taking it!

We've done more cookie baking in the 2 weeks since the dough delivery than we have the whole time we've been married! If DH isn't baking a batch then I am! It's just nuts (and so so yummy and so so addictive). Stop the madness! Somebody, please come take the tub away!!

Oh, hey, not really! Give that back to me now! NOW!! And remember: Baker Joe's Cookie Dough - watch for it! Coming soon to the elementary school near you.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Lazy Start to the New Year

Today has been a totally lazy day here at my house. DH & I have just been hanging out - only time we've been outside was when the dogs needed to go. It's bitterly cold outside. We enjoyed watching the Red Wings beat the Chicago Blackhawks this afternoon & watched part of the "48 Hours" marathon (which is pretty funny since neither of us is a fan of the show).

I did a little laundry but other than that nothing productive. It has been nice, a good way to end Christmas break. Weboth go back to work tomorrow but that won't be bad since the next day is Saturday. I can definitely handle a one-day work-week!

I hope you & your family are having a good start to 2009! Happy New Year!