Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Picture Woes

I can't express how annoying it is to sit on a roll of film for two weeks, expecting to have spectacular picture, only for them to turn out blah or just plain bad. I'd taken pictures of my jonquils (which bloomed January 13), planning to scrap my fave flower. But the color was horrific. For some reason, I can't take a decent picture of flowers - my color winds up looking like an ugly neon sign.

I did get a few decent shots, though. They may not be worthy of sharing, but here's a couple anyway:

Bebo playing with his trains on the footboard of my bed:

Random cute shot (altered in Photoshop):

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I know it's not right, but sometimes I feel like God is playing a game of financial cat-and-mouse with me. Just when I think we're finally going to get ahead, it all collapses around me in a big ugly pile. We get some money stuck back, and then a great big birds poops on everything and suddenly we find ourselves in the hole.

Damn, that's frustrating!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Girl and Her Toys

Who says guys are the only ones who play with expensive toys? I have found the camera of my dreams - a Nikon D80 - digital, 10.2 megapixels, and more bells and whistles than I can count. And it's only $1200!

Here's where it gets tough... we'll have a good tax return this year. I could use it and buy the camera and a few accessories, or I could do the responsible thing and pay bills. I want this camera! I'm getting better all the time, but I know that if I had a digital, I could practice to my heart's content and eventually would recoup the cost of the camera in the film I wouldn't be purchasing and developing. I have this little dream stuck in the recesses of my brain of someday owning my own studio. I love looking at the world through a camera lens, and while I don't expect to be the next Ansel Adams or Anne Geddes, I still believe I have potential to be pretty good - but I have to have the right tools first.

So here's to saving money for a Nikon and hoping the income tax return will be enough to buy it and pay a few bills!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Trading Spaces

No, not the show. It is my deepest and most sincere wish to be OUT OF THIS HOUSE by this summer. We've lived in the church's parsonage for a long time - two years after Jeff stepped down from youth ministry - and it is well beyond time to leave. Besides the fact that it isn't my house, I am tired of feeling obligated to someone else. So we are saving up money and trying to decide when to start the official search for rental property, which could, I should add, be a lengthy search. People just don't rent in this area. Apartments are nonexistent. The nearest place with apartments is 30 miles away, and Jeff doesn't want to commute. There's no telling what we are going to find - if we find anything at all.

At the moment I am far more concerned with the daunting task of sifting through eight years of accumulated junk. This includes all my ephermera from high school and college. We have an entire bathroom that has been dedicated to Christmas decorations and excess boxes. There are boxes in the hallway. There are boxes in the garage out back. We have an obscene amount of junk, and my packrat tendencies are going to make it hard to minimize the pile.

I have at least started, however. Last night I went through Bebo's room. That child has literally hundreds of matchbox cars - most of which were given to him by someone besides us. So I gave about 2/3s of them to our toy benevolence program at church. I also sent bouncy balls, ride-em toys, wheelbarrows, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. - and it still doesn't look like I made much of a dent. Of course, that's partly because his room is tiny (no more than 8x11) with no closet space whatsoever.

So I've dug through one room. I still have two more bedrooms, an office, and a bathroom/storage room to sift. Those are going to be the really challenging rooms.

Good grief.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Different Approach

Yesterday I scrapped a page about Bebo's hair - it was more of a rant than anything. When we displayed the new coif, everybody seemed to feel the need to lecture us on how it looked soooooooo much better short, and how little boys needed to have little boy haircuts, and blah blah blah blah blah.

Hello! It's my kid, and I'll do what I want with his hair! And no, he does not look like a girl - that's ridiculous. We'd decided before he was even born that we weren't going to restrict him to our idea of fashion. As long as he's clean and modest, and we don't really care what he wears. We firmly believe kids will tell you a lot about themselves through their clothing and hair, and the last thing we want to do is stifle that expression and wind up missing something important.

But that's not the real point here. When I presented the page to Jeff, he was surprised.

"I thought scrapbooking was about happy stuff," he informed me, with a puzzled look.

After explaining that scrapping was about life - way more than birthday parties and Halloween costumes - I realized that I'd been remiss in telling the whole story. If he thought that the happy stuff was all I scrapped, then I was seriously off-base in my approach. It's not that I want to scrap a picture of gloom and doom, because that isn't life, either. Instead, I want to tell the little stories as well. When someone picks up my scrapbooks fifty years from now, they should have a complete picture of our lives - the ups and downs, the laughter and the tears, the special and the mundane.

That's what scrapping's really all about, anyway.


And for your viewing pleasure, here's the layout in question (please ignore the crappy scan - it's hard to get a 12x12 layout to look right on a 8.5x11 scanner):

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Photogenic Kid

So I got out with the camera over the weekend. I got some great shots, but I am thoroughly frustrated with my choice of film developers. Something is apparently wrong with the machine, because I'm getting streaks on all my photos, and I know it's not my camera. Grr... furthermore, they scan the pictures at such a low resolution that they don't enlarge very well. More grrrr....

But I still managed to get a few really cute shots. And for those of you who haven't seen my little man in a long time (if ever), allow me to treat you to a really photogenic little boy. Oh, yeah - and we have some before-and-after haircut action going on. And for anyone who would say "oh, his hair looks so much neater," - just know that Mama had an awful time doing it - she loved those long locks!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Frustrated and Inadequate


I had been looking forward to Friday night all week. After going through pictures, I had plenty of pages to scrapbook and I was really psyched about it. I had all these ideas of how I wanted the pages to come together. So I sat down last night with my toys, and. . .


Nothing worked. Nothing looked good. Nothing matched. Nothing was even remotely acceptable.

I hate it when that happens! I hate to be in the mood to create and then totally unable to do it.


I am one of these people who is okay at a lot of things but not really great at anything. I want to excel in this. I'd give anything to get a page published in one of the magazines. As much as I enjoy being up to my eyeballs in glue, paper, and chipboard, sometimes it just plain gets the best of me. I guess I need to just chill and remember that I'm doing this for myself and for my family. It's just that the highly competitive side of me rears its ugly head at inopportune times and leaves me feeling thoroughly inadequate.

It's a nice cloudy day, so I think I'll take Bebo out and play with my camera some more. Maybe that wil help.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The Sixth Sense

A sense of accomplishment, that is. It's only Tuesday, but so far this week I've scrapbooked 2 layouts, created a dozen cards, cooked meals for at least 3 days, put up the tree and its ornaments, and cleaned the front half of my living room. I still have to put away the rest of the decorations and clean the other half of the living room (if you have seen my house, you would understand why it gets cleaned in two segments). But I've got a lot done, and it feels good.

I've really got the scrappin' bug bad. I'm hoping to be able to take some pics tomorrow, if the weather stays cloudy. It's time to run another roll of film. I will look like a total goof, but I'd like to take some pictures around town. I don't know how much longer I'll be here, and even though this isn't exactly my favorite place in the world, there are still memories tied to it that I can't (won't) just sweep under the rug. Actually, I have lots of projects. I need to take a picture of myself for a resolutions page. (That's a scary thought - there's a reason why I'm always behind the camera instead of in front of it.) I've got an album to make for a friend who finally decided to have a baby. And I've got a couple of pages left to finish out this year's pages for my Christmas album.

Moving on to other topics...

I have done well well with the weight loss this week. I've tried a few new recipes, and made a few old ones. I've managed not to splurge on junk food (though donuts and tacos have been calling my name). And I've done a much better job of getting down my water.

If I wasn't motivated to lose weight before, I am now. China has just said they will no longer allow obese parents to adopt. Now that is a motivating factor.

Saturday, January 6, 2007


I'm sure you'll find this hard to believe, but I have nothing to say. How absurd is that?

Friday, January 5, 2007

The Red Thread

As part of my New Year's resolution, I'm reading The Lost Daughters of China by Karin Evans. I've wanted to read it anyway, since I'm really hoping to adopt someday. It turns out I've spent the first half of the book sniffling and pushing away tears. The plight of the Chinese women and children is horrific and mind-boggling - well beyond what my cushy American life will let me comprehend.

The Chinese have a belief that there is an invisible red thread that connects lovers long before they meet. The thread connects them and eventually draws them together in a perfect, meant-to-be relationship. Many of the parents adopting from China are taking on this idea. It's such a poignant thought - that somewhere, someday, there is a little girl who is meant just for me. I believe that if it's what God really wants for me, He will choose the perfect child for our family. In the meantime, I'll wait and pray, and wonder where that red thread will lead.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Aw, Shucks

A couple of days ago, Bebo came to me while I was working in the kitchen. He tapped me on the arm, and in that sweet voice that only comes from him, he said, "Know what, Mommy? You're my best friend."

My goodness, that little boy knows how to turn my heart into sweet melted goo!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

It Begins...

D-Day... Diet Day, that is. I have managed to survive eating grapes, oatmeal, whole wheat spaghetti and organic spaghetti sauce. Last night I anticipated the sweet tooth and made pumpkin pudding pops (actually quite good). The real test will come this evening, while socializing after church with friends. Can I resist the buttery sourdough grilled cheese sandwich crust that I know DS will leave behind?

Core (a Weight Watchers plan) actually isn't that bad. It's going to feel good to detox my system and eat healthier, less-processed foods. Snacking is the hardest thing - when you can't eat processed foods, it's difficult to find something to appropriately soothe sweet or salty cravings. (Though I admit I've found an affinity for roasted chickpeas.) Since I like to pretend I'm Rachael Ray, it's not a big deal for me to surf the net for endless hours searching for new recipes. Besides, I got lots of new kitchen tools for Christmas that are begging to be test driven.

One big advantage to Core is that it challenges me to think outside my usual culinary parameters. I'm a meat-and-potatoes, cream-soup-casserole kind of gal. Cream soups are off-limits, rendering my cookbook full of cream of chicken soup casseroles slightly obsolete. From my previous stint with Core, I learned that I actually like foods I'd never have tried before. Granted, I am somewhat limited by my small-town grocery selections (whole-wheat Israeli couscous, anyone?), but I've been able to try and enjoy more exotic foods than I'd have ever considered.

But no food for now. It's naptime!

Monday, January 1, 2007

The Mandatory Resolutions Post

The title is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but I mean it seriously. I've never gotten too excited about resolutions, because I rarely keep them anyway. At the risk of overusing an old cliche, I really want this year to be different. I know this will get lost in a sea of blog resolutions, but I'm going to do it anyway. At some point in the year I hope to give an update and let you know how I'm doing.

Photography & Scrapbooking

Until I get a good digital camera, I can't afford to go crazy on the pictures like I want to. I'm hoping later this I year I can buy that Nikon I've been eyeballing for the last several months. Until that happens, I still want to take at least a roll of film every two weeks. I missed too much this past year, and I don't want to make that mistake again. I also want to really learn how to use the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings.

As for scrapbooking, I want to do at least 2 layouts a week. I also want to start an album just about myself. That probably sounds narcissistic, but I want my great-grandkids to know the things about me that they won't get from a birth and death certificate. Bebo's album needs more offerings than it got last year, and I also want to work on a more generic family album.

Weight & Health

Losing weight has to be the most common resolution, but I ain't kidding - I really need to lose some poundage. After nine months of concentrated effort and another three on-again, off-again, I lost 80 pounds. In less than six months, I gained 70 back. Ouch.

So.... beginning this week, I am starting the Weight Watchers Core plan. My official goal is to lose 100 pounds by December. It's ambitious, but not unrealistic. Tandem to that goal is exercising at least 5 days a week. Yuck. That's the part I really hate. If it were up to me, I'd count cutting paper and turning pages as exercise. But alas! It is a necessary evil, especially if I ever want to have another baby. I was lucky with Bebo - my weight never presented any problems. I don't want to tempt fate again.


I used to read a LOT. One Christmas break I went through more than 30 books. I've backed away from in the past few years, mostly because I'm the kind of person who can't put the book down once I start. Since all-night reading marathons are not conducive to clear-headed work, I've shied away from books. I need to change that. Borrowing from a friend's wonderful idea, I'm going to write down the titles I read this year.

The officials goals are as follows: 1) read at least two books a month, 2) read at least six Christian living books, 3) read at least six of the classics, and 4) in general, try to break away from my usual light-headed Christian romance novel (not that there's anything wrong with it, but I'd like to challenge myself with something a little weightier)


This is a biggie. From the time I was in second grade, I can remember making up stories. By fifth grade, I was turning in two pages of story while the other kids were writing one paragraph at best. In high school, every teacher I had told me I could be published someday.

It's time for me to quit talking and quit threatening and actually do it. I'll never know if I don't try, and I'm sick of wondering "what if". Therefore, my first writing goal for this year is to at least begin the elusive novel. What direction it will take I've no idea. I think I'll at least start in Christian fiction, because something tells me it will be a good spot to test the water, so to speak. If I can cut it there, maybe - just maybe - I can make it in the secular world, too.

There's something else that I need to do, though. I have an autobiography that my great-great-grandmother wrote. It was never published, and the grammar and spelling are not stellar by any means, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. She tells her story, simply and matter-of-factly. I want to do the same thing for my grandchildren. My story may not be all that interesting, but I owe it to them to be the ones to decide whether or not it was worth the effort. I wouldn't expect it to ever be published, but it still needs to be written. This year, I'll start at the beginning, and just see how far I get. I'm not setting a timeline, since it obviously isn't over yet, anyway.


I saved this for last because it's the most important. I grew more last year than I have in perhaps the sum of my entire life, but I don't want to stop there. Today I picked up a one-year bible, NLT version. I think I may really like it - each day chooses a passage from the New and Old Testament, as well as a snippet of Psalms and Proverbs.

I don't want to stop there. I need to find a way to do some serious study. Although I prefer verse-by-verse study, I'm open to different methods. I might even dig up old Bible Bowl material and use that as a starting point.

Maybe the most important step for me will be to stabilize my prayer life. I have the hardest time concentrating, which always leaves me feeling guilty. I really want consistency in this part of my life.

So there you have it. A list of goals, doable but challenging. Stay tuned for the rest of the story....


It's a little after 12:30 am, and I'm sitting in the living room in the midst of quiet chaos. There are toys and gifts, dirty clothes and clean, dishes, fast food bags, and trash piled everywhere around me. But it's quiet. Hubby is at the restaurant babysitting drunk socialites, and my little guy went home with Pepop and Grannie. So it's just me. I have a few moments to reflect on what has been, and wonder (not for the first time) what will be.

I would be lying if I said 2006 was an easy year. It wasn't - not by any stretch of the imagination. The year saw a lot of broken dreams, some permanently abandoned, some merely postponed until circumstances improved. I spent most of the year in a borderline-depressed funk, wasting far too much time feeling sorry for myself and pining away over what could have been but wasn't. I probably have a few more weeks of that left while I trudge through my usual post-holiday blues, but I can at least say that my mood seems to be improving, even if only a little.

It's hard to admit, but for someone who is nearly 30, I have almost no sense of direction. I don't know what to do with myself. I have no idea what the future holds, and it's brought me down. Sometimes I think I would rather take the low road because it's easier and would at least mean stabilizing my chaotic life a bit. But then I wonder how much I would regret accepting things as they are without ever really giving myself a chance to be more.

I can't say the year was a total waste, though. I've been in the same job for more than two years now (a record for me) and while it doesn't pay much, I work from home, savoring answering the phone in a very professional manner while wearing my pajamas and eating pancakes. I finally put together all my favorite recipes into a book, which I proudly presented to my in-laws as a Christmas present. Holding the printed copies gave me a sense of accomplishment that surprised me. I made a new friend, and discovered how great a friend I had in someone else. I read a few books for my own personal pleasure, and attempted a few new crafts.

Undoubtedly the most significant thing for me this year was forgiving someone who'd hurt me more deeply than I'd ever been hurt before. I learned that forgiveness is more than just thinking about it - you have to say it. Writing those three little words - "I forgive you" - released a world of burden from my shoulders. It was so intense it was physical. And somehow, saying it made it truly so. I can see that person without my stomach turning sour for the first time in years. The sense of relief is beyond what I can put into words.

In working through my own hurts, I learned a lot about God. I finally came to the point where He was the only one left for me to lean on. I still don't pray and study every day, but I am closer to my Lord than I ever have been before. I am learning to praise him - even in the storm.

Praise You in This Stormwords by Mark Hall/music by Mark Hall and Bernie Herms

I was sure by now, God You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away, stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls I barely hear
You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands
and praise the God who gives and takes away.

And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone how can I carry on
if I can't find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands
and praise the God who gives and takes away

I lift my eyes unto the hills where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes unto the hills where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth