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Archive for July, 2009

I have been waiting on pins and needles for the unveiling of the new “Gypsy” from Provo Craft.  You thought that the Cricut machine was amazing – wait till you see this!  It’s taking electronic die cutting, manipulation, design and storage to a whole new level.

gypsy

So how did I know that it was coming before anyone else?  I am proud to say that another designer and I were asked to design the artwork for the Gypsy – my section is called “Gypsy Wanderings.”  I took care of all the images (icons, phrases, borders, etc.) and the other designer handled the fonts.

The product has been under lock and key for months (way secret) but now that it has been unveiled at the CHA trade show this week, I can finally talk about it.  It could be one of my most triumphant projects as a designer – 700 images, all technically appropriate for the Cricut – that’s a tall order and one that consumed our little Hall household for six weeks straight this spring.  As a matter of fact, this Project 365 of Gratitude photo was taken the day I turned in my art to Provo Craft.  I didn’t post it then because yes, it was that important to keep the product under wraps.

gypsy artwork

I just checked out the virtual test drive offered on Provo Craft’s website and you will be blown away when you see what it can do.  Plus, you can preview many of my images as you watch the video (how fun!).  As a bonus, the cartridge that they plug into the Gypsy is my “Stamping Cartridge” as well.  Love it!

(take Gypsy for a test drive)

I hope you’ll enjoy this amazing new product as much as I have enjoyed planning and designing and waiting with baited breath for it to launch.  Forbes reported a press release here and you’ll find some good entertainment about the “rogue gypsies” here.

Enjoy the show and the Gypsy!

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I needed to stay focused on work deadlines yesterday and didn’t get a chance to post our giveaway winner.  Thank you for your responses.  It was very interesting to me as I looked at each comment which came in.  As I read the word that described a person you loved, I found myself wanting to know them for myself.  I wanted to see what made them wise or energetic or deliberate or spirited.  In just one little word you were able to capture the essence of who they were in such a way that made me want to know them.  Thank you for that little unexpected source of joy this past weekend.

And as one of you said….I think I see some scrapbook layouts coming on from these comments!  What a treasure they would be.

stamps

As for our winners (yes, I said winners)…I have randomly selected the following people who will receive a care package in the mail designed by yours truly – some of my $1 stamps as well as a full-sized set.  Please email me your address at kolette@kolettehall.com:

Delyne:  The essence of my 2yr old grandson: Energetic

Michelle Price: Delight! Delight in time together, delight in their personalities, just delight about everything!

Vikki M:  My husband: Fuzz
Its my nickname for him, but so much more than that. It reminds me that he is happy, fun, and just how much he loves me. Who else would embrace a silly nickname so much that even our friends and family call him Fuzz.

Thanks for playing and for following the blog.  Have a wonderful day!

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essence

I’m trying to get some work done before our family reunion tomorrow (80 people!) but in the meantime, I had to post our new favorite photo of the Cole-meister.  In spite of his diaper rash (thank you to everyone who gave me good remedy ideas on Facebook) he still wakes up happy both in the morning and after his naps.  And even when he is grumpy we can coax a smile or laugh out of him.

This is the essence of Cole: happy.

How would you describe the essence of someone you love in just one word?  Leave a comment by the evening of Sunday, July 26 and I’ll pick a random winner to receive some of my new stamp designs I just got in!  Yum!

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A short article called “Hope: The Misunderstood Sister” by Larry Hiller has recently helped me put into words what hope is not as well as what it is.

It may be the way it’s commonly used: ‘I hope the car passes inspection.’ Or, ‘I hope the weather will be nice for the wedding.’  Used this way, the word hope is the verbal equivalent of keeping your fingers crossed.  Consequently, many seem to think Hope is unsure, even fickle — she may or may not grace you with her companionship.

[But] hope is anything but wishful.  It is expectation based on experience.  Hope is serene.  Her eyes have the deep, knowing look of someone well acquainted with sorrow, the luminosity of recently being wet with tears. Hope has the confidence of one who clearly sees a bright future even when the next hours seem fog shrouded.  Hope is steady and strong, a friend I am glad to have beside me during my own trials.

Throughout all of the years of dealing with the adversity of Jason’s health, his car accident, and anything else that life has thrown our way, I have never struggled with having hope — until two months ago when postpartum hit.  I have never taken my ability to hope for granted but after this recent experience, I have a greater appreciation for the understanding and belief I have in the power of hope.  Luckily for me my lack of hope only lasted a couple of weeks but it was enough for me to realize that I do not ever want to go there again.

I love how Hiller capitalizes the word “Hope” and calls it “she,” creating a sense that hope is more than just a wish but an actual companion that we can travel life’s journey with.

I like Hope.  I like believing that life is good and even during trials, it will get better.  I like the sense of purpose and joy that comes from knowing, without seeing, that we can make it and be happy in the meantime.  I have come to understand that Hope is truly my soul’s companion, my partner for overcoming, and my dear friend.

What has Hope done for you lately?

The eyes of hope that look at me each day

The eyes of hope that look at me each day

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I am a novice gardener.  In fact, until we moved into our new home a year ago and paid actual professionals to get our yard put in, I have never been able to keep anything green and growing.  Having the professional help gave me the courage to try a few things on my own here and there in our yard.

Because I am gardening challenged I decided we needed to start small.  Most of our landscaping involves bushes and trees that pretty much take care of themselves (although I do like the cool tree-pruning saw from Fiskars that my sister got me).  Our decisions revolve around how to lower the maintenance of all areas of the yard, including using drip irrigation in the beds around the house to keep the weeds down and planting grasses (which just need a “haircut” in early spring – something I learned just this year) in key places instead of anything trickier .

However, we chose to use the rock area in the front of the house as our showcase.  I was nervous to tackle even this boulder-filled 3′ x 9′ space of higher-maintenance perennials and annuls.  My hope, however, was for a high-impact but manageable area for this gardener who didn’t even own a spade (trowel?) until a few months ago.

Do a dustbin & wooden spoon count as gardening tools?

Do a dustbin & wooden spoon count as gardening tools?

Now that we have gone through one complete year of growing I am learning something about myself.  I like to tend this little space of drama in our yard.  I like to spend 15 minutes each week to weed the entire yard, holding back branches and stems to find the hidden culprits that don’t belong.  I like looking out my office window or driving up to our home to see this burst of color, texture and life that changes day by day.  Gardening is a practiced art form but with new discoveries along the way.  I have found that I like painting the canvas of our yard as much as I enjoy any other creative outlet.

One aspect of gardening that never ceases to amaze me is the concept of “deadheading” or pinching off dying blooms to redirect plant energy to producing new blooms.  It seemed so odd to me at first that in order to achieve more flowers that I had to cut some off.  Of course, I searched the internet to make sure I was doing it correctly for each type of plant (it’s not as hard as I thought it would be) and started deadheading.  I am amazed by the vibrancy and prolonging of the flowers as I have tended to this tiny space all spring and summer.

Garden 2

It has made me wonder about my life in general.  I love this idea of removing things from my life that are taking up my energy so that it can be redirected to create new color.  Deadheading my life.  What a concept.

I had a conversation recently with someone after observing their teaching style.  He had packed so much into his lesson that it became a long list of things to do and not a lot of actual practicing and incorporating the principles into real life.  I have a masters degree in education and even though I work as a designer right now, my previous life was as a teacher.  I encouraged him to cut out about half of the info and focus on the “nuggets” that were getting lost.  I will never forget his response.  He said, “It’s harder to cut it back than it seems.”

How true that is.  It’s difficult to take a hard look at our lives and decide to let go.  We hang onto so much – maybe for sentimental reasons or because we spent time or money on it or we have the idea that perhaps we’ll need it someday.  Whatever the reason, consider letting something go this week.  Maybe you just say no to a new task or assignment.  Maybe you clean out a drawer or cupboard and get rid of half of the stuff in there.  Maybe you need to decide it’s ok to forgive someone and let go of the hurt or anger that you feel.  Whatever it is, we’re in the middle of summer and it’s time to deadhead.

You just might be surprised by the growth and color that follows.  Whether you’re a novice green thumb like me or are the envy of all your neighbors, enjoy gardening your life!

Garden 3

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EFY 1

Jason and I just spent the week being “Session Directors” for a program called Especially for Youth.  We had 1175 youth ages 14-18 and 140 capable and energetic college-age counselors.  It was an amazing experience to be with these stalwart young people who love life and are trying to live in a way that is different than many youth of their generation.  They are involved in school activities, sports, drama and everything that their hometowns have to offer.  They come in all shapes and sizes and colors and races.  They gathered from all over the world to be together, make friends of their faith and learn how to be the best people they can be.  They want to live righteously.  They want to make good choices.  They want to be happy as well as be a part of their schools and peer groups.  EFY helps them learn how to do that.

But it does something else.  It gives us, as adult leaders to learn from them.  They have strong spirits.  They are wise and humble and loving and happy.  They have many friends who believe the same things they do and many who do not.  That doesn’t matter.  They know how to be positive influences without being preachy and how to have fun while making good choices.

EFY 2

I am grateful for the chance to spend a whole week with youth of this caliber and count myself blessed to feel of their spirits and love of life and the Lord.  I kept wanting them to know, really know, that they can accomplish great things.  I wanted them to know that they are loved.  I wanted them to know that they have the ability to rise up and become all that they are intended to become.  And in the meantime, I was grateful for the reminder that I received of how this same principle applies to me, as an adult, as well.

This week has made me think a lot about how I am going to raise my little boy to be strong and faithful and to make good choices in his life.  What do you all do to make this happen for your children?  How do you teach them right from wrong and to be strong in their convictions of what they know to be true?  I know very well that you don’t have to be religious to teach these principles.  So, whether you practice a religion or not, how do you teach your children  to reach their greatest potential for good?

Thank you, amazing youth.  Thank you for “the best EFY in the history of the world ever!”  You have taught us well this week.

please click on image to download pdf

please click on image to download pdf

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Cole at 5 months

You have learned to spit – three different ways.

You are teething and we’re waiting to see those little white lines show the physical evidence that your gummy smile that Mommy loves is a thing of the past.

You have started learning to eat solid foods.  Peas are not your favorite, neither are green beans but Mom feeds them to you anyway.  You love squash and sweet potatoes so far.  Mommy and you are both learning how to do it together.

You are trying to roll over from your back to your front.  You arch your back and push off of one leg.  You especially like to try while on your changing table and in the tub – yikes!  You might learn how to do it this week when you stay with Grandma Judy while Mommy and Daddy are at EFY.

We call you “The Growler” as you chew on your burp cloths and growl fiercely.  You are also making lots of squeaks and grunts and squeals of delight.  But our favorite is your low laugh that we coax out of you.  I love the empowerment that comes from finding your own voice.

jumparoo

You love your jumparoo.  You sometimes bounce, bounce, bounce for an hour. Mommy wants you to love independent play so she lets you do things alone a lot but you like it best when someone keeps you company by being nearby or talking to you while you play.

You fall asleep in the car as soon as we are out of the cul-de-sac so we have to plan that into our schedule when we are going places.

You weighed almost 19 pounds when we visited the doctor – you’re in the 95% for height and weight.  Everyone thinks you are older because you are so chunky.  We love your chubbiness – and those cheeks of yours!

Mommy has been teaching you to just fall asleep when it’s naptime.  We just put you in your crib, cover you with your blanket and you play for just a couple of minutes before falling asleep.  It doesn’t always work but it works a lot of the time.  You like your blanket up by your face – even when you were a newborn you liked that.

sleeping

You have started sleeping through the night.  You go to bed at about 7:30 but you like to get up around 6 or 6:30 in the morning.  You are an early riser and I’m glad about that.  Even though Mommy is a night owl, I think that it’s better to want to get up in the morning so I’m glad you do.  You don’t like to eat a lot for breakfast, though.

You are holding up your head so well and getting stronger all the time.  Daddy can hold you in so many ways and you just roll with it when things don’t go like he plans.  You like to sit on his lap and ride around.  You’ll have lots of chances for rides in your life but Mommy still won’t let Daddy take you in our elevator in case you both get stuck.  You have to wait till you are bigger for that.

You like to watch your friends the giraffe and monkey and ostrich on your mobile in the mornings.

You spend a lot of time at our neighbor Nikki’s house.  She is a great babysitter and Mommy likes that you get to hang out with other kids so that you get used to more noise and action.  We are so lucky to have Nikki just right next door so Mom can send you over there if she needs to work at home or run errands.  Mommy feels really blessed to have Nikki and to know that she takes such good care of you.

bath

You love to take baths.  You have always liked the water – even on your face.  You love it when Mommy scrubs your belly and under your chin then you suck on the washcloth and kick and play until the water turns cool.

You like getting dressed and undressed.  You think it’s so funny when Mom puts things over your head and under your chin.  You must be ticklish there.

Every day Daddy tells you three things: Daddy loves you, Heavenly Father loves you and you are a good boy.  If you always remember those things then you can never go wrong.

You are so happy.  We can’t imagine anyone luckier than we are to have such a perfect little boy.  Even when you are grumpy we can usually get a smile out of you.  When you were in Mommy’s tummy I prayed that you would be happy.  You can do anything in life if you are happy.  That’s exactly what we got in you.

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Happy 4th

4th of July

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My neighbor offered to pick some things up at the store for me - a small gesture in her mind but an enormous one in mine

My neighbor offered to pick some things up at the store for me - a small gesture in her mind but an enormous one in mine

I admit that I haven’t kept up with the journaling part of my Project 365 of Gratitude album during my postpartum issues – I’ll get to it (see #2 on my last post).  But I have tried really hard to take photos of things I am grateful for, print them and insert them into my album.  It’s interesting to see how the things I am grateful for have reflected my thoughts and feelings of going through this experience of postpartum.  That’s the point of the project, I suppose.  Capturing the moment – day by day no matter what is happening.  I have taken photos of things that I never would have thought to preserve before and I’m grateful for the chance it gives me to store the little memories that happen as we journey through the ups and downs of daily life.

But the real reason I kept up with my daily photos is because I know how healthy it is to have to remember to be grateful – even when I haven’t felt 100%.  Having to find something…anything…to be grateful for is part of the healing process.  Not only does it help us to maneuver through the twists and turns of life but it is the balm we need to overcome the obstacles we face.  Gratitude is the secret weapon for happiness.

In my last post I shared some of the mundane things I have been grateful for over the last couple of months and here are a few more.  Gratitude is truly all in your perspective.

I actually weeded the yard myself - with Cole's company, of course

I actually weeded the yard myself - with Cole's company, of course

Nausea from the medication made me feel like I was having morning sickness again.  G2 is my beverage of choice in that situation.

Nausea from the medication made me feel like I was having morning sickness again. G2 is my beverage of choice in that situation.

This was the first time I felt like I could tackle going to the store - it just seemed like such a big place it overwhelmed me

This was the first time I felt like I could tackle going to the store - it just seemed like such a big place it overwhelmed me. Coleman is doing a good job holding the cake Jason bought.

Jason taught my church lesson for me so I wouldn't have to worry about it

Jason taught my church lesson for me so I wouldn't have to worry about it

I actually finished the content for another month of our BPS workshop - that was a hard one for me

I actually finished the content for another month of our BPS workshop - that was a hard one for me

I could have taken a photo every day of these two - they saved me

I could have taken a photo every day of these two - they saved me

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As I wrote this title, my first thought was that I could have left the “Postpartum” part off and this post would still apply.  Whether we are dealing with depression, financial difficulties, physical health issues, problems at work or with family members or anything in between, there are strategies for overcoming our challenges.  I firmly believe this.  We have a part to play in our own happiness and ability to persevere.  This post is all about the nuts and bolts of what I did to get through my postpartum blues.

Project 365 of Gratitude photo: the day I had my doctor's appointment

Project 365 of Gratitude photo: the day I had my doctor's appointment

1.  Get help. I don’t think I can stress this enough and so I put it first.  It’s vital that we understand ourselves enough to recognize when something is wrong and then get the help we need.  So often (as women, especially) we brush our problems under the proverbial rug and “soldier on.”  Although it’s true that we need to do a certain amount of soldiering on in life, we don’t have to do it alone.  I went to the doctor and was firm in my communication with him about how I was really doing.  I also talked to Jason about it often and when we could see that I needed help, we called in our support system – whether that is friends or family or neighbors.  We put key people in the loop so that I was getting help from different areas of my life. – including all of you.  I let you know what was happening and by doing so I was able to not worry about my blog for a while.  That is the power of a support system.

2.  Lower your expectations. Of all the other things I did, this one was probably the most important for me to personally tackle.  I have always been a list-maker and a “get-it-done” girl so the thought that I couldn’t do everything that I was used to doing (let me rephrase that, I couldn’t do ANYTHING I was used to doing) was quite guilt producing.  I hate guilt.  I think it does more harm than good in most situations.  But it was difficult to not feel guilty when all it seemed like I was doing was alternating between taking naps and crying and staring into space.

Once we figured out what was going on I had to immediately lower my expectations of myself.  I tossed my list.  I only did what was vital and tried to get help for the rest.  I realized that many of the things that we think we have to do is in our own mind anyway.  No one cares if I clean off my desk.  No one cares if I start another project.  No one cares if I hire a neighbor girl to weed for me.  We add so many things to our lists that they can overwhelm us.

I decided to have extremely low expectations of myself.  I took care of Coleman and gave myself one thing to do each day such as fold the laundry or clean out the dishwasher or pay the bills.  That’s it.  The rest of the time I spent napping when I needed to and sitting in a chair while Cole played on the floor.  That’s it.  As time passed and I felt strong enough to add something to my day, then I would.  But if not, then I didn’t and gradually that sense of being completely overwhelmed started to fade.

Project 365 of Gratitude: the day I walked farther than the mailbox (talk about low expectations!)

Project 365 of Gratitude: the day I walked farther than the mailbox (talk about low expectations!)

3.  Surround yourself with positives. I found that when I was alone with my own thoughts, I got extremely overwhelmed and discouraged.  Jason kept saying, “You have to stop thinking.”  That’s hard to do so I decided I needed some help with it.  I started turning on positive, uplifting music throughout the house from the time I got up till when I went to bed.  By having something to listen to other than my own thoughts, I did better.  Jason probably got sick of the same things playing all the time but he never complained.  Blocking out the negatives and surrounding ourselves with positives is necessary in normal life so it makes sense that it would be vital when we are feeling less than normal.

4.  Laugh. Jason and I learned early on in our relationship that how quick we are to laugh is directly proportional to how well we work through a challenge.  He helped me to remember this during the most difficult weeks and although we are not daytime television watchers, he would turn on Ellen or something funny in the afternoons to make me laugh.  We were careful about what shows and movies we watched in the evenings as well, making sure that they weren’t depressing or too heavy.  Laughter is a tool.  Give yourself a chance to laugh as often as possible.

5.  Routine. I probably wouldn’t have realized the importance of the need for a routine or schedule before this experience but I recognize it now.  When I hit rock bottom I had my mother-in-law take Cole for a couple of days so I could regroup.  She is wonderful and I’m so grateful that he got to spend that time with his grandparents.  My mom had offered to take him a few days later but I told her no.  What I had realized was that while he was gone I wandered.  I had no purpose that I could face tackling and so I ended up sleeping all day and wandering the house.  I decided that if I could do nothing else, I needed to have Cole home.  His schedule gave me structure.  Maybe I needed to nap when he napped but I still had to get up and feed him and change him and play with him in between.  If I didn’t do anything else, at least I did that.  His schedule kept me on a routine and that provided the framework to my days that I needed to help me move forward.

swimming

Plus, I was always happier when he was around.  Who wouldn’t be?  My mother-in-law said, “Maybe she needs him as much as he needs her right now.”  I believe that to be true.  I needed his touch.  I needed his squeals and laughs and growls.  When I looked into those soul-searching eyes of his I felt like he was saying, “It’s ok Mom.  It will all be ok.”

And it was.

Perhaps that is the best strategy of all.  Remembering that it will be ok. We may have to work at it and it might take a while but it will be ok.  I am grateful for this experience.  I always believed that postpartum depression was real but I never understood its impact until now.  I am grateful we caught it quickly and acted early.  I know that it is the reason why I was doing fabulously just six weeks later instead of still muddling through for months on end.

But I’m still using my strategies.  I have a to-do list now but it’s not very long and when I start to feel overwhelmed I pull back and take a break.  I still surround myself with positives and laughter but now I can generate that laughter on my own again.  I still get help and keep my support system updated on what I need so that I am not alone.  And most importantly, I have yet another thing to add to my list of experiences so that when others go through the same thing, I know what they are talking about.  I am better for this understanding.

Thanks for your encouragement.  For those of you going through challenges of your own – have hope.  Have faith.  You can do this and know that you have a friend in your corner cheering you on.

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