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Archive for March, 2009

As promised in my last post, I have created a boy and girl version of the John Lennon song we have hanging in Coleman’s room.  When Coleman had just been born, like most dads, Jason oversaw the weighing, cleaning and checking of him.  They did it all right in the delivery room but it was a moment just for the two of them.

They placed Coleman in Jason’s arms – all clean and wrapped in a cozy blanket.  He was the first to hold this little guy and in those initial minutes together Jason softly sang this song to our little man.  Even swollen and red and crying his first cries, Cole was beautiful to us.

First Moment

We hope he learns that the words of the song are true:  despite what the news says the world is getting better, saying a prayer always helps, and that he will always be our beautiful boy.

please click on image to download pdf

please click on image to download pdf

please click on image to download pdf

please click on image to download pdf

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Because Cole came 3 weeks early, not only did I have a few work deadlines that weren’t finished yet but his room wasn’t quite ready either.  It took me a few weeks to receive some of the things I had ordered and get it all pulled together.  Although I had wanted it to be done so that it was one less thing to worry about once he came, I am almost glad it didn’t work out that way.

As I sat in my chair (a heavenly swivel glider) feeding him six times each day, my creative process worked its way through each aspect of the room.  I liked being able to “live” in the space before it was completed.  I liked having the chance to think through what I wanted to do, envision it in my mind and let it perk a little before committing to it.

My Chair

One thing that I knew from the start was that Cole didn’t really care what his room looked like.  Let’s face it, he is barely able to focus on anything more than 12″ away.  No, the room is as much for me as it is for him – and probably will be for a while.  That’s why the title of this post is “Our Space” – I wanted a place that he could grow into but that I would love to be in as well.  Since we just built the home last year and were hoping that we would have a little person to use this room, I had it painted a neutral, sandy-green (Benjamin Moore Historic Collection “Crown Point Sand”).  I figured it would look great with blue for a boy or pink for a girl.  I then used a variety of blues and whites – from light blue to navy – with some orange accents added for contrast.

Changing Table

I decided that because we have built-in closet organizers that I didn’t want a changing table with drawers.  That’s why we put them in the closet to begin with – so we wouldn’t need a dresser in the room.  But I knew we needed something as a changing table so I chose to use a waist-high bookshelf that is deeper than standard pieces.  It fits the changing pad and all the gear on top but then will be great for storing toys and books as he gets older.  I got it through a local shop called Four Chairs which lets you choose how to finish unfinished wood pieces the way you want.

I keep the everyday stuff there – diapers, burp cloths, wipes, etc.  I also keep his current stash of clothes in one of the baskets with his future sizes of clothing stored in his closet.  I measured the dimensions of the shelves of the changing table and kept them with me as I happened to be at different stores and finally found various baskets that worked at Target, along with the Diaper Genie and the cool lamp.  The lamp actually takes three light bulbs but I only use one for a softer effect.

I had to label the shelves to keep track of sizes of clothes instead of always looking for the tag over and over.

I had to label the shelves to keep track of sizes of clothes instead of always looking for the tag over and over.

The photos above the changing table are from our pregnancy photo shoot and will be easy to swap out as we want to make changes over the years.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do pregnancy photos because I am a pretty private person when it comes to modesty but now I’m glad that Jason felt so strongly about it because I think she did a fabulous, tasteful job.

Pregnancy 1

Pregnancy 2

Jason has always loved the John Lennon song “Beautiful Boy” and in the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus the father sings it to his son who happens to be named Cole as well.  At the end of the song he sings, “Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful Cole.”  I designed this art piece for Jason because I knew how much those tender words meant to him regarding his new little buddy.   I think that it is a sweet lullaby and wish for any parent to sing to their child and have decided to make a boy and girl version for a “Download Day” design so watch for that.

Beautiful Boy

Being a quilter, I also knew that I wanted some kind of fabric creation on the wall to add texture and depth.  However, I wanted it to be unique and serve as an anchor to the design of the room.  I decided to create a wall hanging with a twist.  I sewed strips of fabric of varying widths together horizontally, using all of the colors of the room.  Then I found a glass-less frame at Michaels (50% off!) that was large enough to meet my needs.  I painted the frame white and cut a piece of cardboard to fit the frame.  This particular frame is actually twice as wide as what you see here.  I wrapped my cardboard with my fabric piece and secured it at the back.  Then instead of attaching it behind the frame I popped it into the front of it, covering up half of the frame itself so that you can only see this thin, raised area of the frame and the focus stays on the fabric itself.

Quilt

My plan is to add an embroidered quote to one area of this - using orange floss of course

Finally, Jason had the great idea to create a large monogram and found these fabulous wooden letters (click here) that came in a variety of fonts and could be custom made to be any height.  We had ours made about 30″ high and I finished them myself by painting them navy blue first, sanding the edges and adding dark stain.  With the shelf of interchangeable photos above it, it has become one of my favorite parts of the room.

Monogram

Space is always an issue when dealing with Jason’s wheelchair so I had to make sure that even though the room is not very big, we had space for Jason to maneuver.  I’m not much of a collector of stuff so I’m hoping that even as we acquire more toys and things as he grows that we will be able to keep them to a minimum so that Jason’s access isn’t limited.  Although physically Jason can’t lift Coleman out of his crib, we made sure that he can get to it or to the changing table to visit him, make funny noises at him or just watch him while Mommy needs to step away for a moment.

Accessibility

One of Jason’s favorite things to do is draw little superhero cartoon characters for our nieces and nephews or other little kids.  They always tend to become a keepsake for anyone who gets their likeness illustrated in his distinct style.  Jason drew Coleman’s first portrait for his room – complete with his chubby cheeks and what we think will be a little dimpled chin.  I manipulated it on the computer to make it the same orange color I used in his “Beautiful Boy” piece and framed it with a store-bought frame.  I think it looks just like his real photo sitting right next to it – and like the little monkey that we got at our Creative Escape shower!

Drawing


I’m a planner and this room is designed to change as Cole grows.  The crib turns into a toddler bed, the changing table becomes a book shelf, the photos can all be updated as time passes.  My chair can even have a new slipcover put on it if we ever need that option.  I love how his room is set up now but I relish the thought that we will adapt it as his needs change – because that means he is changing and growing, too.

I know that we will delight in watching his personality emerge as he becomes his own unique self – and I can guarantee that this room will emerge right along with him.

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I just got word from Provo Craft that they are running a sneak peek of the new Cuttlebug launch on their Cuttlebug blog and guess what – the sneak peek is a design from yours truly!  I won’t spoil the surprise and show you any more than what you see when you click over to their blog but they are also running a survey for your input – with prizes involved.  So, go check it out and get your sneak peek of one of my designs in the new Cuttlebug launch coming soon!

I also just signed a contract for a fabulous new Cricut cartridge that I will be working on.  You can find my last cartridge here – it’s designed for creating your own clear stamps with your Cricut machine.  Just use their special clear stamp material and a deep cut blade and voila! – your own stamp!  Here are just a few of the designs you’ll find on the cartridge.  Sentiments and images – you get it all on this little solutions cartridge.  It’s  specifically made for the thicker, stamping material that Provo Craft offers but will work fabulously on anything.


Cricut Cartridge

Enjoy browsing the Cuttlebug blog – sounds like they have a lot of stuff going on as well a plenty of prizes to earn.  Join in!

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Wee Care

As you can imagine, there have been so many tiny moments of discovery in our lives over the last 8 weeks.  Some of those discovery moments have been ones I would have passed on if given a choice (I didn’t know that it was normal for poop to be various colors).  Some moments have made me laugh out loud (like when Cole started nuzzling my neck while I burped him, giving me a juicy belch reminiscent of a zurbert).  Other moments have been triumphant (moms really do start to learn their baby’s different cries) or simply sweet (like the first time they actually focus on your face or recognize your voice).  Without exaggeration, it seems like I’m discovering something new every single day.

I think, however, that one of my favorite discoveries that I have had since Coleman was born happened the day before his first doctor’s appointment.  He was scheduled for his first week check up at the pediatrician’s office.  We had done some asking around and found a good group of doctors at a place called “Wee Care.”  They have multiple locations in the area, including a 24-hour clinic so that we can bypass the ER if the need ever arises.

The day before we were to go to Wee Care I received a phone call reminding me of the appointment the next day.  The chipper voice on the other line asked me a question that will forever be etched in my mind and on my heart.  She said, “Is this Coleman’s Mom?”

I had to pause for a minute and think.  Then, with a grin to accompany it I responded, “Yes!  Yes it is Coleman’s Mom!”

I am a daughter, a wife, a woman, a sister, a designer, an artist, an entrepreneur, a teacher, a friend.  But I’ve never been anyone’s Mom before.  I think it was that moment that I discovered the most fascinating and amazing thing of the last two months:

I’m a Mom.

To be honest, I love this photo as well - he looks like this a lot as well!  I'm glad Rachel captured it.  His furrowed brow always makes me laugh.

To be honest, I love this photo as much as the happy ones - this is his cranky face so I'm glad Rachel captured it. His furrowed brow always makes me laugh.

Is it possible to explain how it feels to get "that look" focused on you for the first time?

Is it possible to explain how it feels to get "that look" focused on you for the first time?

I’ll give you a tour of his room next time.

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I was a teenager during the early 80s.  Before email. Before scanners and computers in general.  I took typing in junior high – on real typewriters.  I remember having to make copies of things by using carbon paper.  So instead of cool fonts and digital images and clipart, if you wanted to pass along information in written form you had to type it on the typewriter or write it by hand.

This was my sister and I around that time.

This was my sister and I around that time - looking good!

My mother has always been good at artistic things.  She was master of the tole painting era – teaching classes and filling our home with her creations.   But one day she came to me for some help.  I was about 13 years old and she asked if I would write out a poem that she wanted to give to a group of young women in our church that she was in charge of.

Now remember, she was an artist herself, but that day she made me feel like I was the only one who could create this work of art for her youth.  And I believed her.

I had always enjoyed writing things.  I had what we called at our junior high “cheerleader writing.”  I was a student body officer and could make the posters announcing dances or activities with the best of them.  One of my favorite things was a big office desk that my parents bought for me at a used furniture sale.  I organized the drawers with all of my papers and pens and pencils.  I have always had a passion for anything to do with writing.

I still love my markers, pens and pencils.

I still love my markers, pens and pencils.

The day that Mom asked me to create this poem I started my first file folder.  I labeled it “Lettering” and started collecting examples of interesting, cute, fun, unique writing that I saw in my environment.  Since these were the days before being able to snap a photo of something with your phone, I often would look at a menu or a sign and draw some examples of the lettering to put in my file.

Then, while sitting at our kitchen counter, I started practicing.  I would look at those examples of writing that I had collected and copy them.  Over and over I would try to mimic the lettering examples until I could do them all without looking.  I wasn’t necessarily great at drawing but that day, when my mother asked me to create something for her that she probably could have done a better job at, handwriting became a love for me.

It also became a talent.  And little did I know how that talent would affect the rest of my life.

I practiced writing every chance I got.  I copied and explored various ways of writing to achieve different effects.  I used a variety of mediums to get used to using a pen versus a pencil then on to a paintbrush.  As a school teacher I often created bulletin board signs that looked just like the title of the book we were reading because I could recreate it with a black magic marker and chalks.

So almost twenty years later when Hampton Art came to me asking if I wanted to design stamps for them I couldn’t believe it.  This had always been a hobby but rarely had it made me any actual income.  I immediately said, “Yes!” then hung up the phone wondering what in the world I was going to create.

Thus began another file folder of ideas – this one labeled “Stamps.”  I tucked my inspiration in my folder and just like when I was 13 years old, began practicing again.  I found that white notecards and a fine-tip black Sharpie pen seemed to work the best for me.  With my tools at my side I started writing, playing, doodling and discovering what I could do that would make an interesting rubber stamp.

Handwriting

Some of the very first designs I ever created for Hampton Art.

You might say that the rest is history.  Since that first set of $1 stamps that I designed and Hampton Art (Studio G) created for Michaels stores, millions of my rubber and clear $1 stamps have been sold.  Now AC Moore and JoAnns sell my designs along with Michaels.  I have gone back to school in graphic design to learn how to create on the computer using Illustrator so that I have more freedom with my designing.  I learned that there is only so much I can do by hand with a Sharpie pen.

But in honor of the encouragement that I received from my Mom all those years ago and those first stamps I created by hand – I decided to bring out one of my favorite Easter designs.  The original version was drawn by hand but I digitally remastered it for you!  One of the many joys of drawing using the computer is the ability to change size, look and color.  So you get four different color versions of the download today – with plenty of time before the Easter bunny is due to arrive.

please click on image to download pdf

please click on image to download pdf

Make some cards.  Create a button to hand out randomly.  Tuck one in an unexpected place for someone to find later.  It’s time to spread the bunny love!  And be like my Mom – encourage someone to develop a talent while you’re at it.

Enjoy!

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Our neighborhood ROCKS! Seriously. After we had little Coleman, we received many meals from friends and neighbors (which is like a dream come true for me). We have also had lots of meals brought in over the years while Jason has been in the hospital, etc. So you might say that I have learned a few things about what is the most helpful when it comes to taking a meal to someone in need.  Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE any meal in any form coming to our home but today I thought I would share my Top 5 Tips of “How to Deliver a Meal to Someone in Need”:

  1. Disposable Dishes
  2. Disposable Dishes
  3. Disposable Dishes
  4. Disposable Dishes
  5. Disposable Dishes

You got it – it doesn’t really matter what is brought or when it’s brought – it’s all about the containers.  In this day and age of “Gladware” and Ziplocks and aluminum pans with those plastic lids, it is so much easier to send food over to someone in disposable container.

One of the hardest things for me after receiving all these delicious meals was having to return the dishes.  I finally asked a friend to help me do it because as a new mom it was too much to even think about.  My friend was thrilled to help out and have a “real” job that she could do (which is a great lesson in itself – when people ask what they can do to help then let them)  but it was also so great to just be able to toss the containers that some of the food came in instead of having to return dishes.

Here’s how you do it – don’t worry about being “pretty” – this is a function over form kind of a deal.  Make it simple for the person to enjoy the meal both during and after it’s over.  My favorite idea that someone had was to put the salad she made in a large Ziplock bag – it was fabulous to just dump it out, eat it up and toss the bag.  I loved that so much that I did it myself while taking a meal to a neighbor who was sick yesterday.  Now I know that she doesn’t have to worry about bringing me back a container.

I have to admit, though, that I am not the best at taking meals to others.  I don’t enjoy cooking so it’s kind of a stressful thing for me.  For those of you out there like me, who aren’t as good at whipping something up in your kitchen, here’s what I do when I want to help with a meal for someone in need.

Buy something pre-made.  This can be going to Cafe’ Rio and ordering some entrees, picking up or having a pizza delivered, or just heading to the grocery store to see what they have already cooked and ready to go.  Our grocery store almost always has roasted chickens – hot and ready right there at the front.  Grab a loaf of French bread, a bag of lettuce and some cherry tomatoes and you have a meal.

Take & Bake meals for us - but a great, quick option to give to someone in need

Take & Bake meals for us - but a great, quick option to give to someone in need

I shouted for joy when a local deli started offering “take and bake” options.  Many stores have these as well.  What could be better than a pan of lasagna ready to go?  Keep it simple.  There are more options to helping someone with a meal than slaving away in the kitchen all day.  Give yourself a chance to surprise someone with dinner when they don’t expect it but might need it most.

And for those of you who are already cooking dinner for your family – keep some aluminum pans on hand and consider making an extra pan of those enchiladas and sending them over to a neighbor’s house…maybe because you know they need it or maybe just because you want to surprise them with something kind.

Or simply forget the extras and just send the entree…or better yet just give dessert!  Every meal that we have received over the years – whether it was a full spread that we could eat for three days or a plate of food just for that night, it was appreciated.  Deeply appreciated.  Don’t make it too hard – just give.  Whatever your method or reason is – go for it.

Just try to make the containers disposable.

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I’m sure that it comes as no surprise that my 365 Days of Gratitude project has taken a sharp turn when it comes to what kind of photos have made it into the mix over the last 6 weeks.  And although I am consumed by the amazingness of this little guy in our lives I have realized some things when it comes to what I am grateful for each day and how I document that gratitude.

The 1200 photos that I have taken since January 27 (I know, it’s ridiculous!) have been whittled down to 500 (still ridiculous!) that have actually remained in my iPhoto Library and then I have carefully picked from those as I decide what actually gets a spot in my Project 365 album.  So yes, many of my current photos revolve around life with Coleman – how can it not?  I see things to be grateful for from every direction…people just can’t seem to help themselves when a new baby is around.  They just want to love and hug and play with him – all under the guise of “babysitting.”  How can the gratitude I feel right now in my life not be centered on the miracle of a new life in our family?

So whether my photos are focused on the people who come to visit us, the grandmas who take a burden from my shoulders to allow me time to learn a new way to work with a baby around, the meals that are brought over, the great ideas that Jason has in order to provide more “hands-on” care than we thought would be possible, or the funny little changes and growth that we see each day in Cole himself, my album has changed.   And I’m ok with that.  It’s one of the reasons I chose to do this project this year and in this particular way.

And I’m really glad I did.

Mary Ellen Edmunds once said, “I’m glad I wrote in journals because I never knew when I was at the beginning of, in the middle of, or at the end of a miracle.”

I am feeling the truth of that statement so strongly right now.  I have to laugh at the photo in my album of the day before my water broke and we rushed to the hospital (I posted it last week but here it is again) I never would have taken this photo if I wasn’t doing this project.  And what a memory to have recorded – my thoughts and feelings, unaware that it was just a few hours before my life changed forever.  I will never have that memory again and I am so glad I have it captured.

The Night Before

That is why I am doing this project.  To capture the moments when the moments actually happen.

But now that I have had a few months to work on the project I have refined my system and I thought you would like me to share it with you.  First, you know that I went through my whole album and inserted the “week” cards (labeled with the dates already) and the journaling cards (blank) along the bottom of my album pages.  So that part is ready to go.  I also placed one strip of days of the week stickers in the Saturday pocket of each week so they are handy.  Finally, I have my clear dot stickers for each day of the week that go on the photos themselves in little individual bags by letter (one for “S,” one for “M,” one for “T,” etc.)

But I already told you all of that if you click here.

The part that I have figured out since is how I maintain my album as I go along each week.  If you are using Becky Higgins’ kit like I am or adapting your own supplies to work, it is helpful to have supplies on hand that make the decisions each week simple and quick.  I found that I had quite a few extra supplies from my kit – such as the tri-fold journaling cards.  I wasn’t sure where I wanted to use those but needed them handy for when I felt like writing more than just what the normal cards would hold.

I also found that each week I was using other supplies as well and wanted them handy as I added to my album.  So, instead of hanging onto all of that stuff, all of the time, I have used one of the boxes that came with Becky’s kit for my “go-to” supplies.  Each week when I have a new batch of photos to include in my album, I pull out this little box and it has everything I need to whip up that week’s worth of memories.

365 Supplies

In my box is the following:

  • journaling pens (Micron 01 tip for the journaling cards and Sharpie fine tip for writing on photos)
  • circle stickers backed in cardstock for each letter of the week (I keep the “S” ones together even though I use them for both Sunday and Saturday, and the “Ts” for both Tuesday and Thursday)
  • adhesive to adhere the circle stickers to each photo
  • scissors to trim the circle stickers that I have hang off the side of the photos
  • tri-fold journaling cards (just a few of each design – I replenish when I need to)
  • white-out (just in case)
  • extra regular journaling cards that are left over from when I replace them with photos or the tri-fold cards

All of that fits into one little storage box.  I print my photos for the week, pull out my box and my album and can do a week’s worth of journaling and photo placement in about 20 minutes.  Then I stash my little supply box and it’s ready for the next week.

I have also been printing my photos with a thin white border because I like the look that the border creates on each page.

This is a year of gratitude for me.  Every year should be but I’m so glad I decided to really focus on it this year.  I love looking back at what I wrote each day and the photos that capture the most important parts of our lives.  I love it when other people come to visit and browse through the album and see our lives at a glance.  This project is already a treasure in my mind and I’m so grateful – yes grateful – that I’ve chosen to tackle it this year.

I know that you haven’t been able to see the photos I have included over the last 6 weeks of my blogging hibernation but here are some that have made it into my album:

I'm grateful to finally have "baby stuff" intermingled with my own things - I've never had that before.

I'm grateful to finally have "baby stuff" intermingled with my own things - I've never had that before.

I'm grateful that my brothers are all such great dads - here's Kent and Kam.  Kamron drove all the way from Washington to surprise me in the hospital.

I'm grateful that my brothers are all such great dads - here's Kent and Kam. Kamron drove all the way from Washington to surprise me in the hospital.

I'm grateful we work from home so we can take photos like this all day with our gorillapod!

I'm grateful we work from home so we can take photos like this all day with our gorillapod!

After trying and trying, I'm grateful Jason & my mom finally said it's ok to bottlefeed instead of nurse.  The guilt we women put on ourselves is ridiculous.

After trying and trying, I'm grateful Jason & my mom finally said it's ok to bottlefeed instead of nurse. The guilt we women put on ourselves is ridiculous.

The generosity of neighbors bringing in meals was astounding.  Thank you, thank you.

The generosity of neighbors bringing in meals was astounding. Thank you, thank you.

Coleman (and I) are so lucky and blessed to have two grandmas close by who love to babysit - it really helped me learn how to get back into a work system easier to have them available.

Coleman (and I) are so lucky and blessed to have two grandmas close by who love to babysit - it really helped me learn how to get back into a work system easier to have them available.

I used my iPhone as a way to keep track of feedings, naps, etc. - I finally felt like I knew enough about his schedule that I can give up the list-making after 4 weeks.  I'm proud of myself for that.

I used my iPhone as a way to keep track of feedings, naps, etc. - I finally felt like I knew enough about his schedule that I could give up the list-making after 4 weeks. I'm proud of myself for that.

I'm grateful that my sister borrowed Cole for the afternoon so I could work on finishing his room - it was the spur of the moment and I had a hard time seeing him drive away but knew he was in good hands.

I'm grateful that my sister borrowed Cole for the afternoon so I could work on finishing his room - it was the spur of the moment and I had a hard time seeing him drive away but knew he was in good hands.

We got a sling for Jason to use but I'm grateful that it works for me as well when I need to have both hands free at the computer and Coleman needs a little bit of "Mom Time."

We got a sling for Jason to use but I'm grateful that it works for me as well when I need to have both hands free at the computer and Coleman needs a little bit of "Mom Time."

I'm grateful I don't mind doing the laundry - even the little loads of baby things each day that I do to make sure he always has his little gowns that I love to keep him in right now

I'm grateful I don't mind doing the laundry - even the little loads of baby things each day that I do to make sure he always has his little gowns that I love to keep him in right now

This was my 38th birthday shot - I'm so grateful for the men in my life.

This was my 38th birthday shot - I'm so grateful for the men in my life.

This is who I am right now – yes, our focus has become little Cole – but that’s ok.  This is my life and I love it.

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