My journey to shoot for the moon.

Archive for the ‘Scrapbooking’ Category

Apartment Living

One of the things that I like about living in an apartment is that I get to meet people who I wouldn’t have met otherwise.  The boys and I get to meet people who are here for a short time and then move on.  But they are interesting people and sometimes we are lucky enough to have them stay in our lives.  And sometimes not.  The apartment complex is more diverse than a neighborhood would be (here in Parker, Colorado) and there are people of all ages here.

For example, there are some grandparents here in our complex.  We met them soon after we moved in.  They had their son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons living with them for a while after they moved in.  The boys were all around the same ages and the oldest was in the same program David was at school.  When the son and his family moved out of his parents’ apartment, we kept in touch.  In fact, he watched the boys for 1/2 a year in the morning before school.  He is now divorced.  But his parents still live in the complex and the boys still visit on a regular basis.  David has somewhat moved on (he is the oldest and has less in common as the boys have grown-up), but Michael LOVES spending time with the boys.  In fact, this summer the boys were visiting their grandparents a lot and Michael was usually with them.  I would feel worse about this, but I had pneumonia for most of the summer and I knew that Michael was safe and supervised.  The grandparents, who my kids call “Grandma and Grandpa H” (they use their full last name, but I won’t post that here), are amazing people.  Grandma H was a teacher and is from Puerto Rico.  Grandpa H is from NY or NJ (I can’t remember – I know that their family lived in both places – but they moved to Colorado from Ohio).  They’ve been married forever and their son is, I think, in his late 40’s.  He was an only child.  They love to cook for the kids and when David did a project on Puerto Rico, Grandma and Grandpa H made some traditional dishes for him to take to school to share with his class.  They buy the boys Christmas presents every year and the boys have gone (in pjs) to their apartment Christmas morning for a little bit.  Sometimes the boys go over there and just hang out and talk with them.  I love that the kids have a great relationship with Grandma and Grandpa H.  We wouldn’t have met them, or stayed in as close contact, if we didn’t live here.

We’ve also met a number of young families.  One family lives across the hall from us.  The mom, Tina (I’ve changed their names to protect their privacy), is 27 years old.  She has 3 children (and one who died at 15 months from brain cancer, she was 20 years old at the time).  Her youngest son is special needs.  Looking at him, you wouldn’t know that anything was wrong with him.  But try to talk with him, he’s 5, and you are left perplexed.  She’s been working on getting him a diagnosis and into special programs since they moved in.  She’s had him at Children’s and has had a ton of testing done on him.  She started several years ago (before they moved to Colorado) and has had difficulties getting the specialists to give him a diagnosis.  He was a premie and he has a whole slew of problems.  She finally got a diagnosis and I think that it fits (mostly).  As a special ed teacher (even though I’m not working at the moment, I do have a Master’s in SPED), she has asked a lot of questions.  And I’m happy to help her out.  Some of the things she’s been told have been confusing and I understand why she is so frustrated.

But, let me tell you, she is an amazing mom.  Her daughter and her youngest son are 12 months apart (her daughter is the youngest).  Recently,I went to check on her because as I was taking the garbage out, I noticed that her keys were still in the door.  As it turns out, she had both her daughter, Anna and her youngest son, Charlie crying and she was trying to get them in from the car.  Her oldest, Lance, who I think is in 2nd grade, had to use the bathroom and had gone running to their apartment.  I helped her carry stuff inside and she told me about Charlie’s diagnosis and that she would be meeting with ChildFind the next day.

As we were chatting, we discovered that we both love to scrapbook.  She doesn’t have much time (her husband travels and is not home much of the time) because she is busy with her kids, but she wanted to show me her scrapbook of her son, Allen, who had died.  While I was sitting looking at it, Charlie and Anna were both crying.  She said that they both missed their naps and were tired and cranky.  (Personally, I was surprised as my kids were done napping at 3, but she said that her’s still napped – apparently, Charlie could nap for 3-4 hours a day.)  Lance had gone out to play with the kids running around the complex (Michael was one of them).  Charlie was bothering Anna as siblings do when they are tired and cranky.  I listened to her talk to him.  She spoke softly (not her normal volume) and slower.  She simplified.  “Stop.  Anna was there first.”  And she told him consequences, “If you don’t stop, you will go to your room.”  She was amazing.

I would have been flustered.  I would have yelled, if it were my kids.  But, she has learned that that doesn’t work with Charlie.  He is on the Autistic Spectrum (for those of you who don’t know – that means that he has some autistic characteristics, like not understanding facial expressions or tones of voice that other kids his age would understand).  Charlie also doesn’t understand consequences most of the time, making it difficult to discipline him.  She and I have talked about strategies for parenting him.  But she lives with him 24/7.  And she tries so hard.

When I was 27 David was a newborn.  I was figuring out parenting a newborn.  I was inexperienced and unsure of myself.  Here Tina is at 27 and has gone through the loss of a child (I can’t imagine) and is trying to raise a kiddo with special needs along with her other 2 kids, mostly by herself.  If I hadn’t talked with her, I would have missed out.  I would have written off this amazing person because of stereotypes.  Because looking at her, you might see a young mom of a crazy kid (Charlie).  You might see a woman who smokes (and this is the ONE thing that I can’t truly get past – but who could blame me with Chris’ lung cancer), who doesn’t seem to have things together.  But that is not who she is at all.

She is an expert on her own kid and trying to find her way through the maze of doctor’s offices, services and insurance to get her kid what he needs.  She is a strong advocate for him, and is trying her best to work through a system that is difficult for parents who have the money to hire advocates to help them.  A system that is confusing even for professionals and often responds best to the parents whose voices are loudest and checkbooks can afford attorneys.

I am shy by nature.  Sometimes it comes off as being “stuck up” but I am usually quiet.  If someone says, “hi” I’ll respond, but often I have difficulties initiating conversations.  Living in an apartment has forced me to leave my comfort zone and interact with people.  It has expanded my horizons.  I would love to have a house and a backyard.  I would love to have a place to call mine, permanently.  But that isn’t to be right now.  And if I didn’t live in an apartment, I wouldn’t have met Grandma and Grandpa H or Tina.  I would have missed out.


Update: Scrapbooking in a Small Space

A few days ago, I wrote about my “haven,” my scrapbooking space that I created in a corner of my bedroom.  I had pictures of the shelves I had put up over my table to hold containers with ribbon.  The shelves, it seems, didn’t want to stay on the wall.  Since I live in an apartment, I shouldn’t put holes in the walls.  So, I was using 3M picture hangers to hang the shelves.  The shelves were “floating” shelves (meaning they didn’t have the supports under the shelf) and they really didn’t want to stay put.  They tipped forward and everything would fall off, scaring Sugar to death.

So, I purchased new shelves.  I found these at Michael’s for $14.99 and had a 40% off coupon.  Chris and I decided that I wouldn’t paint them (at least for now) and that the natural wood would work in our room.  I cut the 3M picture hangers in half the long way and attached them to the shelves (since the shelves were narrow).  They have been working beautifully.  Here are the pictures.

I am sure that I will find other things to go on the shelves as time goes on (only one is really “full”), but this is what I have for now.

Already my scrapbooking corner has resulted in me completing 7 pages.  This is amazing because I don’t usually get that much done because of having to go back and forth to get things and moving things around.  I’m really excited (of course I only have a zillion more things that I want to scrapbook).

Scrapbooking in a Small Space

We live in a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment of 1093 square feet.  We, would be David, Michael, Chris, our 2 dogs (Kirby and Sugar), our 2 hamsters and me.  It is not a lot of space for all of us.

Chris’ and my room has a king sized bed, 2 dressers and a TV.  We also have a walk-in closet (with a large dresser in it) and our shelves are piled to the ceiling.  In our bedroom, I have also created a “haven” of sorts for myself.

When we moved from Illinois to Colorado, I started scrapbooking.  In the last 4 years, I have managed to accumulate a large number of materials.  I am of the impression that, if I find something on-sale, or in the $1 and I like it, I should buy it.  Even if I don’ t know what I am going to use it for.  I rarely buy paper or embellishments knowing what I will use them for.  Stickers are a different matter and those I watch for sales to buy what will coordinate with events in our lives.  For example, David will be graduating from 8th grade this year and I bought graduation stickers when I found them on clearance this summer because I know that I will use them.

The summer of 2009 we went to Disney World with Chris’ parents.  I took a large number of pictures, saved keepsakes and jotted down notes all for the purpose of scrapbooking our vacation.  And boy did I.  I have almost a page per ride.  The pages fill 2 full books and I need to purchase a 3rd book for the remaining pages (that were carefully set in the back of the second book).  It may seem like overkill, but I really enjoyed doing it and I believe that we will be glad that we have it, as it was the last summer before Chris was diagnosed.

In addition to those books, I have a book for each boy plus a “scrapbook cookbook” for each of them.  I also have a family book.  I haven’t kept up with the cookbooks as well as I should have, but the other books are all overflowing and I need to purchase more albums so that I can start 2nd books for all of us.

The problem with scrapbooking in a small space is that I never seem to start and finish a project on the same day.  I used to work at the kitchen table.  But then, when the project would take more than a few days, I would either collect all the materials and stick them in a bin (rather than putting them where they belonged) and have a mess or we wouldn’t have the kitchen table to use.  Re-organizing all of my tools and putting things away became a dreaded chore and really took away my enjoyment of my hobby.

So, this summer I set out to really organize my scrapbooking stuff and to see if I could come up with a way to leave my materials accessable.  The ultimate goal was to create a space where I could leave a project that was not finished and to be able to work on it here and there when I had a little bit of time, rather than having to find large blocks of time.  I am still working on organizing some of my stuff, but I have created a scrapbooking corner for myself and have finished a couple of pages!

I am so excited!  I know that I have looked on the internet for ideas and was unable to find much that didn’t cost a fortune.  Most of the stuff I already had, having purchased it over the last 4 years to try to corral my supplies, so the outlay of money was minimal.  Here is what I came up with.

Scrapbook Storage

This is an area of storage for paper, stickers, tags, and other miscellaneous, unorganized materials

Sticker Storage

.  It is between the door to our bedroom and the bathroom.  On the right there are 2 sets of stacking draws and on the left,  there are 3 Itso cubes with various inserts.  I got the Itso cubes from Target and I have found that it is the perfect size for 12 x 12 scrapbook paper.  As you can see by the area on top of the Itso cubes, I still have some organizing to finish.  The coffee can on top of the drawers is filled with beads and the tall tube, is items that haven’t proven to store well (over sized pictures, posters, etc) that are loosely gathered around a paper towel holder (that I got from the Target $1 section).

After much deliberation, I decided to get binders and page protectors for my sticker storage.  I spent hours organizing and setting up the binders, but now when I need something, I can find it.  I got a few binders at Dollar Tree and hope to pick up a few more so that I can take the large blue binder apart and make it easier to find what I need, but this works for now.

More Storage

The other area I am using for storage is between the TV and the closet.  I had purchased a small rolling cart with a nice top (for about $20 at Wal-mart), thinking that I could use it to put everything on when I wasn’t actively working on a project.  It didn’t work.  So, I’ve used it as the bottom piece of storage for tools.  Next to the cart are photo boxes (and shoe boxes).  This is where I have photos organized (in the photo boxes) and unorganized (in the shoe boxes).  I am in the process of writing  what is in each box on note cards and taping it to the tops of the boxes.  The two boxes on the top (the striped and green print) have miscellaneous embellishments in them.

Ribbon Storage

The purple box is my ribbon storage.  I tried to make a ribbon box, but didn’t like the way it came out (using a box and grommets).  I also tried using a paper towel holder, but found that much of my ribbon didn’t fit on the tube.  So, I designed my own.  I found a berry box at the health food store and painted in purple.  Then I used dowel rods of different sizes with caps on the ends to hold the ribbon.  It isn’t perfect, larger spools of ribbon won’t turn on the rod, but beyond that, it works well and I can easily see what I have.  It is attached to the wall with 2 3M hooks.

More Ribbon Storage

The ribbon that was loose or on spools too small (or without holes) to fit on the dowel, got organized by color and put into clear storage containers.  These were leftover from when I reorganized the pantry.  I could use one more so that I can separate the red, pink and purple.   These containers are on “floating” shelves that I got at Target and paid $4 for.  The shelves sit above my worktable.


My worktable is the part that I am most excited by.  I got the table at Ikea (remember, I LOVE Ikea) for $20.  I had to rearrange the dresser and some of the scrapbook storage to make a place for the table, but it was well worth it.  The table is in the corner of my room, under the window and fit snugly between my night table and dresser.  When I pull my chair out, it hits the bed, so I don’t pull my chair all the way out.

Under the shelves

As you can see, the ribbon is on the shelves above the table.  I also placed 2 hooks under the shelves so that I could hang items.  The one hook is holding stencils/templates that I use frequently (the other templates I have are in the Itso storage cubes).  The other holds a second cutting mat (one that I have painted on).  The black area is a photo frame with cork board underneath that I got for $1.50 on clearance at Target that I thought would be a nice addition.  Right now there are some stickers hanging from the corkboard.  These are stickers I thought I might use for my scrapbook project for our living room wall.  But I’m still thinking about it.

WorktableThe white basket has a paper cutter and straight edge tools that I use frequently, and a glass vase filled with floss (it is too heavy for the shelves).  You can see the scissors in the purple bin, along with some other tools I use frequently.  The comics on the purple box are ones that I want to cut out to use on a page (at some point) but haven’t gotten around to it. The purple box holds the remaining paper at pictures that I plan to use on the living room project.

Book, Magazine and Scrapbook Paper storage

To the right of the worktable, is my dresser.  On my dresser, I have my scrapbooking books and magazines and some paper.  Along with a little white basket that I am using to hold my index cards and tape.  And I also have a purple bin with a blue sand bucket in front of the window.  Sounds like a strange combination, but I am working on figuring out what works best for me.  The blue bucket is for garbage.  The purple bin is for, well, I’m not quite sure yet.  I think that it will hold pieces that I am working on, scraps of paper, etc. while I am working on them.

And then there is my workspace.  It isn’t very big, but it is adequate.  I usually place the purple box on my bed while I’m working to give myself some more space.  There is a 12 x 12 cutting mat on the table and room around it, so I can spread out a little bit.

And the whole thing is amazing.  My little corner of space has made me quite happy and has eliminated my stress about my hobby.  If I spread my stuff out on the bed while I’m working, I can just place it on the worktable when I am done and leave it.

I get a nice breeze through the window (although it does blow the papers around at times) and lots of sun.  There is a pretty nice view of grass and a tree outside the window.  And, this weekend, in addition to working on getting everything organized, I managed to finish 3 pages.  Here are shots of 2 of them, from the AAUW Carnival in 2003.

I really love how my space has turned out.  Ideally, the scrapbook storage would be by the worktable, but when you are living in a small space, you can’t be too picky.  And the only things I didn’t show you were the embellishment storage containers and the memorabilia storage.  They are on top of the dresser in the closet until I figure out another place for them to go.

AAUW Carnival - Scrapbook Page

Page 2

The Lost Art of Quilling, Taking Pictures and Erica’s Wedding Present

I know that I said that I was going to limit myself to one posting on my blog each day, but today I am going to post twice.  I’ve been waiting for Erica to get back from her honeymoon and to give her her gift before I could post this.  I am excited and want to share.

After we moved to Colorado, I became interested in scrapbooking.  I should say, more accurately, I began scrapbooking because I had been interested in it for several years.  I have a number of scrapbooks that I am working on and I have three albums from our trip to Disney with my in-laws a few months before Chris was diagnosed.

Chris has asked me to take lots of pictures.  When Chris was a teenager he lost his dad after a freak snowmobile accident on New Year’s Eve.  He told me that he wished he had more pictures of his dad and he didn’t want our boys to feel the same way.  So, I take lots and lots of pictures.  As I have time, I create scrapbook pages.

Due to our small living space, scrapbooking is a challenge.  I like to have all of my things spread out around me and I tend to make a huge mess.  Chris would say that was an understatement – I take over the entire kitchen table.  And when I start to scrapbook, it takes me several days to finish a project.  I can’t seem to work on one page at a time, I need to do several.  It is a lot of work just to get everything out that I will need and then I have to clean it all up.  Someday I will have my own space that I can use for scrapbooking and organize everything so that it will work with my crafting style.  Until then, I will have to continue using the kitchen table.

Just over a year ago I was working on a page of Chris’ grandparents and his dad, as a kid.  I couldn’t find embellishments that I liked that didn’t cost a fortune and I was SO frustrated.  Scrapbooking for me means that I buy stuff on sale and look for cheap materials whenever possible.  I have quite a collection of stuff and almost always can make due with something I have, but this time I couldn’t.  I ended up purchasing something that was WAY too expensive and still wasn’t exactly what I wanted.

As a result, I started looking into making my own embellishments.  I discovered Quilling.  Quilling is the art of paper crafting and it has been around for a very long time.  It doesn’t take much to get started and is generally inexpensive.  It is detailed and can be challenging, but even a beginner can make some beautiful things.  As I was Quilling, Michael came to see what I was doing.  He LOVED Quilling.  In fact, he liked it so much that I bought him his own tool (about $5 at Hobby Lobby) and he began helping me.  He also made all of his teachers Christmas gifts (with some help).

Quilling is beautiful when done carefully.  I use a quilling tool, toothpicks (to apply glue), tweezers (fine point) and very sharp scissors.  I can quill circles for a long time, but working on making them into something is an activity that I can only do for an hour or so before I start getting frustrated and lose my concentration.

While I started quilling to embellish my own scrapbook pages, I have yet to do that.  I quilled a design on a plain corkboard for my desk for last year, made a picture for my mom’s friend, did picture frame mats for my parent and my in-laws, helped Michael with his teacher gifts and made Erica’s Wedding present.

Erica’s Wedding present was the result of me having too much time on my hands and not feeling well enough to do anything.  I’m not sure if I thought of it when I was fevered.  However, it turned out to be beautiful, even if it took much more than I expected.  Of course that is the way most of my projects go, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.

My idea was to quill the words LIVE, LAUGH and LOVE and mat them in individual frames, then to quill flowers along the mat of another frame and design it with a space for a picture of Erica and Les.  It was a great idea, but it ended up driving me nuts.  It wasn’t the quilling that was the problem either, it was cutting the mats.  First, I hand measured everything to make a template.  Then used a craft knife to cut the template to the right size.  I had difficulties using the knife and a ruler and cutting straight.  Then I had difficulties with the glue and the paper sticking to the weight I used to flatten things out.  Finally, I couldn’t cut anything without messing it up.  I would attempt to finish one mat a day – and it would take 10+ attempts to get one right.  I was beginning to regret this project.  Then I got a plastic template for rectangles – it worked somewhat better, but it wasn’t great.  Finally, I got the cutting tool that went with the plastic rectangle template and it was AMAZING.  Two mats plus inserts in 10 minutes or less.

I had given Erica the first frame (LIVE) a few days before the wedding.  She loved it.  I told her that she would have to wait to get the other 3 until she was back from her honeymoon.  And they turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself!  Saw Erica last night and was able to give her the last 3 frames.  She was so excited!  She said that she knows where she is going to put them and couldn’t wait to get a picture of her and Les so she could put it in the frame.


Erica and Les – This was truly a gift from my heart.  I wish you joy in your marriage.  Love you guys!





Ramblings from a Temporary Insomniac

I’m exhausted.  I’m still recovering from pneumonia and naps are a regular part of my day.  Today was a busy day.  And long, today was very, very long.   Of course, naps sometimes make it tough to fall asleep at night.

Tonight, specifically, I am finding it hard to fall asleep.  My body is tired and feels like jell-o sitting in the chair, but the bed is uncomfortable.  My eyelids are heavy, but my brain won’t turn off.

I try thinking of nothing, but everything intrudes.  What if I don’t get the job?  What if I do?  Will MV call me and let me know that she got a call for a reference check?  Eyes close again.  Starting to feel sleepy. . .

What about Michael’s alarm clock?  I need to get a shelf for it.  Maybe I should buy one that I saw at Target.  Those were too expensive.  Maybe I should try Hobby Lobby. . .my breath i n g    s l o w s

I need to finish Erica’s wedding present.  I am so glad that she loved it today.  Ready to try to sleep.

The dogs bark.  I need to be awake to do some chores tomorrow after my interview.  Eyes open.  I need to get some sleep before my interview.  Did I answer the question about what I needed to learn, well?  I know that they liked me.  Body relaxes more.  I’m now oozing jell-o.

I feel asleep with my eyes open.  My body is relaxed and I should be sleeping.  Why aren’t I asleep?  What should I try next?  A bath didn’t work.  Maybe some tea.  That would involve getting up.  I don’t want to get up.  I’m tired.

Sometimes writing helps.

Writing isn’t helping.  The boys are watching a stupid TV show on the Disney channel.  Maybe I can quill a wave for the scrapbook page about the boys’ pool party.  Scrapbooking . . .eyes are closing.

I need to refill a prescription tomorrow.  I can’t forget.  I’m so sleepy.  Maybe I can stop thinking long enough to fall asleep.  I need to check Michael’s school supply list.  Don’t want to think about school.  Too much to do.  Really should turn the computer off and get back into bed.  Tired.  Oh, so tired.  It is 9:30 pm.  I should . . . go  to    s l e e p.

Why can’t I sleep?

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