Sunday, November 22, 2009

Get in, sit down, shut up, and HANG ON

Those closest to me know that I've been pushed to my limits by MiniMe the past week or so.


No, make that DRAMA. Or even DRAMA.

I adamantly tell everyone that she's everything I'm not.

Somewhere, there are many later-generation friends and relatives who are cackling mercilessly at the payback currently at hand. My mom is smiling wisely.

I keep my sanity by being crafty. MiniMe is pretty crafty in her own 7-year-old right. She has her own stash, but mine -- of course -- is much more to her liking.

It's a battle. Especially when my card swap group meets at Casa de Schaererville every few months.

Last night was no exception. We made some clever and simple notebooks (thanks, Lisa, for the design inspiration and Kelly -- as always! -- for the project coordination).

The instant MiniMe saw my project, she had a burning need to make her own. One that was just like mine.

No matter that I didn't have a spare composition notebook on hand. We had to run out first thing this morning and get one.

After raiding my stash: Voila. A notebook for MiniMe that's just like mine.

Except for the purple. MiniMe lives, breathes, and will die by the color purple, I'm sure.

Oh, and the names. Since her notebook is just like mine, it was pretty important that we distinguish them from one another somehow.

You know... just in case Santa can't tell that I'm not the one who wants the Barbie Girls Dream RV and Jonas Brothers CD that's at the top of the list in, uh, one of the notebooks.

But really, with just a few small stylistic differences, she's got a way about her that's, well...

...just like mine.

Monday, October 12, 2009

W470 Oakwood Beach Road

I've drafted this post about 5 times so far, and can't really figure out what it's supposed to be about. I guess it's about seeing my BFF for the first time in over 4 years, along with a whole bunch of people who shaped my life over 25 years ago. It's about landmarks, memories and feelings.

Mostly it's about going home, and what home means.

I haven't lived there in 22 years. My parents moved away in their separate directions a few years later. But I grew up in this little community of twin towns, one in Michigan and the other in Wisconsin, separated by a river that's spanned by three bridges. Total population? Probably about 25,000 combined.

I feel like a squatter...calling this place home...especially since, until recently, I spent every minute of every day in my adult life after I moved away trying to not be from there.

A friend told me that our old house is for sale.

The years I lived in that house are so woven into the fibers of my being that I couldn't hold back tears when I looked at the photos in the online listing.

I took pre-prom, pre-homecoming and every other special occasion photo in front of the fireplace. My beloved piano made its home across the room.

The kitchen was host to many late night gatherings of friends...solving the problems of our teenage world with passionate idealism, silliness, and above all else, a deep sense of connection with one another.

I wanted to jump through the monitor and write a check for it that very minute.

I'll have to settle for a quick look from the outside, or, if the listing agent feels like indulging me (she was a very close family friend for many years), I might survive a short tour without dissolving into a puddle in the middle of the kitchen floor.

Although recent owners have made many beautiful updates, the memories still resonate from within the home's fancy new look.

Oh, the memories.

I haven't been to a single one of my class reunions.

Most of the tight-knit class I graduated with were not interested in keeping in touch with me and my I'm-not-from-here attitude.

But I'm going back this weekend. Hat in hand, with grace in hopefully every step, to embrace where I'm from.


Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Mr. O and I both grew up in families that revered the pursuit of The Official Holiday Family Photo. It was the annual quest to capture a moment in time...a perfect moment in time, one that would let friends and family afar know that things were completely happy and under control.

Success meant that the end result looked effortless and candid.

Behind the scenes, though, was a carefully guarded secret.

Getting two kids -- two boys in Mr. O's family and two girls in mine -- to get in place must have worn nerves thin. My mom absolutely dreaded the day set aside to do this. I always wondered why that was.

In my family, our pets appeared in the photo about every third year. I always wondered why that was.

Most years we'd go to a studio somewhere. Choosing a background was the most stressful part -- then the photographer would set up stools, arrange us by height, and take a dozen shots from which we could pick the winner. Done.

I think there were a few years when we tackled the project outdoors somewhere, but that was the exception and not the rule. I always wondered why that was.

I'm pretty sure that there were more than a handful of shots that were good...if it weren't for the kids goofing off.

And, really? It was probably one of the outtakes that truly captured our family's personality.

But it was always that perfect moment that the rest of the world would see.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

My addiction has a name. And it's not O-S-C-A-R.

It's P-A-P-E-R.

I know I sound like a broken record (is that colloquialism even meaningful anymore? Should I say a skipping CD?), but I l.o.v.e. my job. L.O.V.E.

I also love the color green. A seemingly random factoid completely unrelated to loving my job, but it will make sense as you scroll down. Trust me and hang on for the ride.

Back to my job. Paper and card-making, buttons and ribbon, these are a few of my favorite things...I was over the moon to find out that there is a day set aside each year just to celebrate how they come together to connect paper crafters all around the world. No kidding. It's called World Card Making Day.

Last year I used World Card Making Day to start getting organized, since I had only started my job about 5 weeks beforehand and had to get back into the swing of making cards. I had lots of stuff from my 18 year history in stamping, but almost all of it was.....well, uh, purgeable.

I'm an editor. I make up words sometimes.

So I swooped in on the room in the house that had the most potential: our living room/office/piano room.

Disaster, no? I had some of my stuff just piled in boxes to keep it out of sight, but a lot of it was downstairs in safekeeping. So I started bringing it up bit by bit.

At the end of the day (World Card Making Day...the motivation for this little transformation), I had a nice little workspace with plenty of room to grow.

I was happy with my little space -- I could sit and make cards while my daughter played the piano or used the computer in the office space adjacent to my crafting area.

And then my stash started to grow.

This addiction dream job of mine, you know.

It grew.

And grew.

And GREWsome more.

It didn't fit in my cute little space anymore.

Besides, the builder-beige on the walls just wasn't juicing my creativity. I love green. I needed green. Just like my office at work.

So my eight little cubes...

Became 25...uh, little cubes. And the walls got painted green. Shocker, huh?

I love how the new desk set-up works with the piano. It's my great-grandmother's piano, so it's pretty special to me.

Most of all, though, I love that THIS is the vignette I see as I sit at my craft table.

Especially the part of it right here.

Because our family? They're my ultimate inspiration.

Want to know what ISN'T my inspiration?


You may have noticed that in my little craft area expansion (if I keep telling myself my craft area is little, I might just fool myself into thinking I still need to build my stash) involved swapping sides of the room.

Which meant that the ugly office could become....

...kind of a pretty office! I actually like to sit there and pay bills now.

Really though? The best part of this whole project is knowing where to find everything, then sitting down to get creative, and coming up with a few things that make me smile.

I had a blast with Cosmo Cricket's new Earth Love collection when I did this one.

And I made these invitations for a Minnie Mouse-inspired 2nd birthday party for a friend's daughter:

And as if that channeling of my inner girly girl (buried deep, believe me) wasn't enough for my husband to feel my forehead, I also made a card and shadow box for a friend and her brand new baby girl.

When I look back over the past year, from World Card Making Day 2008 to World Card Making Day 2009, it sure does make a meaningful set of bookends to an even more meaningful 12 months.

I hope everyone who is celebrating WCMD 2009 will find creativity, connectivity and collectivity in doing something you love.

And if you're not into card making yourself, you can be sure that you'll be getting one from me in the very near future. Because my stash is, well...not so little, and now I'm all organized.

Until next year, anyway, when I bust out a wall and take over the dining room too.

For real.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Unforgettable [or, If I didn't have the photos, I wouldn't believe a WORD of it]

I've completely ignored this blog the past several months in favor of immediate and micro-blogging on Facebook. It was all I could do to capture the happenings in the moment, much less write about them. And our summer sure was one to remember, for so very many reasons.

95 reasons, to be exact.

For 95 consecutive days, we had a parent, step-parent or in-law parent in our guest room.


Phase I: my mom. For 9 weeks. Mr. O is a saint.

During Phase I, Mr. O broke 8 ribs in three different places while on his dirt bike.

The kids started new schools (both of them).

I took my mom and the kids to see her brother, my uncle, at his river-side log heaven in Sun Valley, ID.

With my mom's help, I also completed Project: Basement Organization and Project: Craft Room Declutter. She provided motivation worth its weight in gold. GOLD, I tell you.

Phase II: my mother-in-law. I'm not a saint, she's a very easy houseguest, but crossing off every single thing on her only-found-in-the-U.S. shopping list was a challenge (new Keds? Check. Snack-sized ziploc bags? Check. Bounce dryer sheets? Check. Easy Spirit sneakers? Check. Spoon rest for the neighbor? Check. Utah themed T-shirts for her grandsons back in Zurich? Check.)

My dad is Phase III. He and his Pensacola hobo wagon, his Natty Light, his military marches on cassette, and Jeremiah's step-sister, SaVANnah descended upon us for 72 hours of entertainment. I can't make this stuff up, people.

While tripping over grandparents, we also had a visit from one of my high school classmates from Wisconsin -- one I hadn't seen since...well, probably since high school. We hiked her all over the Cottonwoods and then rewarded her with an afternoon by the mountaintop pool at Snowbird's Cliff Lodge.

I got to hang with the cool Mammoth for Last Day on the Mountain in mid-June (June!).

And we managed to celebrate our 10th anniversary -- on time, which is monumental in itself -- with dinner at the restaurant where he proposed.

We also spent two weekends in Bear Lake, guests of our very gracious friends who have a cabin there.

Mr. O took the kids, with The Best Man and his tribe, up to our favorite camping hole. Without me. Ahhhhhhh.

Although we're both still gainfully employed, this summer has challenged both of our employers. After surviving two rounds of layoffs, Mr. O and his co-workers had to take two weeks of forced furlough. With a bumpy ride leading into summer, my company was sold and half the workforce was let go. I say my silent thank you to the powers of the universe that I not only have a paycheck to earn, but also that I earn it by doing something creative and wonderful -- with equally wonderful people around me.

Yes, in so many ways, this summer was truly unforgettable. Adventures, grandparents, economic struggles, getting things in order, visits and visitors.

I think we're ready to do it all over again next year.

Or not.