Saturday, December 29, 2007

Squeezing in

I'm not sure how we doubled our living space, yet still can't fit my whole clan in our dining room. Minus two of my siblings and a new SIL, even. Oh wait,

One seven-foot Christmas tree

One six-foot-five nephew

One high chair shoved in a corner

One obscenely giant pile of presents

...and a partridge in a pear tree.

At least I got to crop for 13 hours yesterday...roughly 11a to 11:30p. I finished the cover art for Ben's Favorite Photos album, the first circle journal for Creative Escape (two 8"x8" pages on My Town), two two-page layouts for Ben's First Year album, and our Thanksgiving layout (another 2-pager).

One of my gifts for Christmas was a gift certificate for Shutterfly, with which I promptly bought one of their Most Excellent pre-paid plans (500 4"x6" photos for 12 cents each, expires in 2 years but I've already ordered 50 photos and I'm not nearly done with my 2007 photos/pages yet).

Good thing I signed up for Lain's FREE class at Big Picture Scrapbooking. That will help me finish up 2007.

Monday, December 24, 2007

For Kids Young and Old

I love it. The site jams up around midnight, after all of us adults get home from candlelight service and the kids are finally asleep. Or maybe not.

Man! That big guy is really on the move ;)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Visitors and cookies

Sorry to have been quiet for so long (like that's never happened before)!

My folks have been visiting for exactly a week; they leave for home (4 hours north) tomorrow, but are coming back Monday night. Not sure of the duration of their next stay, but as long as my mom keeps making Christmas cookie favorites, I'll be okay with it. The free babysitting is just a perk.

My dad, remarkably, survived pancreatic cancer, diagnosed in late 2000. He had a full round of chemo and radiation back then, and was declared cancer-free for 5 years just a while back.

His doctors don't think it is cancer now (fingers crossed), but he hasn't been able to eat or drink anything without pain for over 2 weeks now.

He's on what we joking refer to as the "feed bag" overnight; he became so grumpy on Wednesday that we "forced" him to eat something; the stomach pain soon returned and he had a procedure this morning that forbade him eating, so he's back on the bag.

Anyway, they NEED to go home for a couple of days, mom is involved in a charity raffle and she has to get tickets organized; they've also been washing and wearing the same clothes for two weeks now. Dad was first admitted to the hospital in Saginaw where his internist practices; that doctor has released him to care at an Ann Arbor hospital, thus the extended stay Chez Denise & Co.

Despite the free babysitting (or perhaps because of it), I'm exhausted. It's hard to cook for people when you know someone in the house is starving for a good meal, yet can't eat it.

Needless to say, I'm quite relieved I decided a while ago to send out (gasp!) ordinary store-bought holiday cards. Adding "create card masterpiece to send out to 60+ mailing list" would have meant no holiday cards this year. "Just Moved" postcards were enough this year.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


1. My iPod*
2. My quilting books**
3. Our two red boxes of Christmas ornaments***

*I went back to the coffee house where I last remember taking it and posted a note (I need to go back and take that down), then remembered that was one of the last warm days we had, looked in the pocket of my warm-weather jacket, and there it was. Whew.

**They were stored vertically, so I didn't spot them the 6 or so times I looked in that box (E discovered them).

***Irreplaceable, so and even bigger WHEW than #1.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

FInally, a new layout

I don't know why it's taken me so long to FINISH something; oh, yes, (A) very few Friday night crops in the last month, my 5-hour stretch to get stuff DONE and (B) been hard at work finishing an 8x8 mini-album of favorite photos from Ben's first year (still have to do the journaling on that one before it's ready for its close-up).

Becky Higgins has been a real inspiration of late; this layout is one of her sketches, and the First Year Favorites album was totally her schematic (scroll down to near the end of that entry and you'll get a taste of what Ben's album looks like. Very, very, VERY similar...).

You know, I was just kicking away toys after I put the kids to bed, and I had the funniest recollection. I was remembering a manuscript that came in to the publishing house where I used to work. It was cute, all about a kid who imagined his parents playing with his toys after he went to bed. Not sure why we didn't publish it...oh yeah, a senior editor with serious procrastination issues, and the story probably had a flat ending (the fate of many of the unsolicited manuscripts we received).

Not long after we turned the manuscript down, I saw an episode of Growing Pains (remember when they brought a little kid into the show, long after it had jumped the shark, to try and improve ratings?!) where the young boy goes to bed and imagines the older Seavers...playing with his toys.

Nothing new on the earth, I'm telling ya.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Click to play Give Thanks
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There's FIVE pages to this; it freezes up my computer every time. If you're patient, you should (eventually) get a play arrow to move around the "layouts."

At least the music is pretty.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Oh deer.

Oh deer.
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile
So this is what greeted me this morning as I headed out of town. This is the same sports establishment that has a "live bait" vending machine out at the curb all summer long (refrigerated, of course. I've always wanted to see someone stop, thinking it's a pop machine, then drive off when they realize what it is...of course, the giant LIVE BAIT across the front kind of gives it away).

Every year when I first spot this, I do a double take. The first time I ever saw it, I was about 2 blocks away before it registered in my head. Then I was like..."wait...did I just see...what?!"

So far Tess hasn't noticed them. She did one year and I think I gave a lame excuse like, "oh, they're just stuffed deer for display." Brilliant, I know.

These poor guys were looking a little less deflated when I first passed them this morning. I caught this shot (sorry) on the way home after heading out to Chelsea for MOPS this morning. My least favorite sight is a buck with his tongue lolling out of his mouth. Eeeww.

I live in such a klassy town.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

PR Countdown!

You know where I'll be at 10p tonight.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Laughter is the best medicine

Wouldn't you know, I got my first-ever ear infection...from my little guy. He had 102-degree fevers last weekend, and completely lost his balance by Sunday. E took him to Urgent Care that afternoon and sure enough, the two ears that the nurse practitioner saw on Friday and thought "looked a little red, maybe from the crying" (because we had to wait in the examining room for 45 minutes, and he had a FEVER?!) were really quite infected.

My left ear has been ringing for about a week and a half (somebody answer that! ba-dump-bump (sorry)), so maybe I had it first. But after three nights of coughing and that long for an earache, I finally got myself (fancy that!) to the doctor's today. Cough syrup, real good ole fashioned CODEINE, whooo!

So, this is what is making me laugh myself better. Nothing like some seriously ugly time-warp clothes to cheer you up. Beats the old Playboys we found in our house, back in 1978, under the cabinet of our bathroom. Vintage porn, that just wouldn't be right to blog about, now, would it? Clothing to get your ass kicked in is much, much funnier.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Bubble Tea

Bubble Tea
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile
Aaaack! My old Minolta Dimage camera takes crap pictures. At least I readily found the cable to connect it to my computer (moving...bah...I have lost an entire box of quilting books, BTW...grr). I had pictures on it from August. It runs out of battery power within 20 minutes of recharging. But, it's tiny, so I always have it with me. For moments like this.

Tess has recently switched loyalty from Nickelodeon to the Disney channel (yay, no more Dora! boo, annoying hyper Doodlebops).

Anyway, we are now big fans of the This is Emily Yeung (formerly hosted by/known as the This Is Daniel Cook) shorts, wherein a very smart and precocious 6 year old host explores something new in each mini-episode (10 minutes? 8?). This week Emily made a mask in one and her own flavor of bubble tea in another.

I told Tess that there was a place in Ann Arbor that serves bubble tea, and man, she was all over that. I have always been curious about it myself, and once I found out the "bubbles" were pearls of tapioca, I was game. I love me some tapioca.

We went to TK WU on Liberty (a longer walk than I remembered from my usual Washington Street parking structure) and had a watermelon green tea with milk.

I wish I'd thought of taking a picture of the lid. Very Japanese (even though we were in a Chinese restaurant...a VERY GOOD Chinese restaurant. Check it out sometime), cute, with a little girl and a bunny.

Tess took a couple of sips but the milk was rice milk (I'm pretty sure) and she's not a big fan; it was very sweet so I'm surprised she didn't care for it. She did finish up the last few sips later on, so maybe she did like it after all. Just not *that much* of one.

Oh, hey, I just got a notice that I won a drawing for entering my layout over here (totally random drawing, so it's not like I did better than all the other ladies there...who were WAY more fantastic than little ole me) Check out the little dude doing the drawing. Adam rocks!

Oh, and I finally got my invitation for Ravelry (actually, that was pretty quick...about a month, compared to some folks waiting 3+ months). Fun, fun, fun. I'm CreativeExile over there if you're looking for me, although I don't have much going in the knitting department right now. Too much drama over family Thanksgiving going on, but, more on that later. Maybe. It's too depressing to talk about right now.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

See ya next month...

Looks like I'll be participating again this year...

Official NaNoWriMo 2007 Participant "Creative Exile."
Nothing like a last-minute decision.
I'm getting famous for those! :D

Hey, it's free!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

CE, CKU, CTMH, SU, and other abbreviations

On Friday I got a special email that I had "won" the lottery *to register* for Creative Escape (CE) 2008 in Arizona (E finds that whole concept suspect and silly, so)...It took me all weekend to figure out how to propose this to E, as it is a weekend away from him and the kids, albeit not until next September.

Going is going to require a lifestyle change for me. It is quite an expensive event, but after going to Creating Keepsakes University (CKU) in April, blowing my budget *after the fact*, and having moved into a house with a room for me to spread out my scrapbooking stuff, I have realized a few things.

1. I am not the kind of scrapper who stocks up on supplies because they are pretty, and I *might* have a use for them, someday. I have been guilty of that in the past, but it's not what makes for happy scrapping in my world.

2. I have everything I could want from Close To My Heart (CTMH -- for whom I have been a consultant for 4 years now) and I've been in a Stampin Up (SU) monthly stamp club for a year and half, so, same sentiment there. Those two commitments have cost me over half of my monthly budget each month for too long now; I need resign from CTMH and quit the SU stamp club when my latest round is up in February.

3. I have soooo much leftover stuff from CKU that I haven't used yet (see moving into my own space, above) that I don't need to buy anything for a while.

4. Putting a down payment on the event (non-refundable, gulp) and *saving up ahead of time* to finish paying for it, as well as hotel and airfare, was a challenge for CKU (see blown budget, above), but I have been less interested in spending money on new stuff (see leftover stuff, above) and I feel totally ready to go on a serious craft diet to attend something this special.

5. I have plenty of knitting stash to keep me going through the winter when I get the itch to knit (my other expensive hobby, which I have not been spending much money or time on lately).

6. Ditto quilting stash.

7. Scrapbooking gives me the most relaxation and satisfaction right now. I need to step back and step up and really treat myself to an extended scrap retreat.

7b. And I need to save up for it this time, instead of paying for it the year after.

I sound like I'm still trying to convince myself, don't I?

UPDATE: Sorry, I wasn't trying to convince myself since I've already paid the deposit. Now the challenge is to see if I can stay on track until the final balance is due February 4th. When I quit CTMH and my SU stamp club (which I am glad to give up; both have been exhausting to my budget), I should have $130 or more to save toward CE --per month -- and I feel that is totally do-able.

Besides, I am SO not giving up my spot! Not yet, at least :D

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Smile Box

Just playing with a new toy...haven't subscribed yet, as Mom's on dial-up and I think this will completely choke her system...

Dang it, I just printed 24 of my favorite photos from Ben's first year, and I forgot the sleeping one! Another favorite!!

Ben's First Year
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Saturday, October 20, 2007


No thanks!
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile
Took Tess to a program at the library today. We had a really great "Girls Day, " actually. E's FINALLY getting the message (plus, it's colder in the mornings now, and doesn't get light enough TO PLAY TENNIS EARLY) that after scrapping until midnight, I like to SLEEP IN Saturday morning (really?)! So he took the kids to the daycare at our gym (Becky, feel free to snort right here) first thing this morning and let me have breakfast and shower and get ready to pick up Tess and take her to this organization's program. It was exceedingly cool (until they got too close).

Tess is fascinated by bats, wants one for a pet, has a little Beanie Baby bat she takes to bed with her (and has named "Whizzie," for some reason known only to a 5 year-old). And she did great with the whole program, again, until they got a little too close to her (she came and climbed on my lap, crying, shortly after I took this photo. Poor girl).

I took many fun photos (he could have let me pet one and I wouldn't have shied away...just bees and wasps, remember?!) and put them up at the usual place. Great organization, BTW. We saw a similar presentation at Cranbrook a few years ago, with a Russian friend of E's family, but we didn't have Tess with us at the time.

Tess and I went to lunch at Dexter Pub after that, then costume shopping. Ben is wearing a recycled costume of Tess's (a cow/sweatsuit number), I'm recycling my farmer's outfit (um, overalls, basically) from that same year, and Tess wants to be a black and white (barn!) cat...not a black cat, that would be too easy, sigh. So from the suggestion of a friend, we looked for a white feather boa to cut up and sew around the neck, sleeves, and cuffs of a pair of pants for her ensemble. For a family party next week, E has graciously offered to be a pig (!) to complete our barnyard theme (seriously...his suggestion).

Speaking of cats, we may have to borrow my MIL's. Seems mice *do* poop and eat at the same time, as I found suspicious pellets ON BENJAMIN'S HIGH CHAIR TRAY yesterday. E heard (and saw) evidence (in the form of a mouse scuttling under our stove) at 3am last night, after he fell asleep on the couch downstairs while watching TV. Thank God for Chlorox wipes and D-Con traps that hide the body. Yeeeech. Wish us happy hunting.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A near-perfect Sunday

Yesterday was nasty. The boy behind us (12) had friends over, and for some UNGODLY reason they were up at 7a, in the backyard, shouting and laughing and causing a ruckus. AT SEVEN A.M. Gah. Thank goodness the reigning adult over there finally got done with his/her 30-minute shower (I'm horribly biased, I'm guessing it's a him) & settled them down, but it was too late for me. I had gone to bed at 1a after cropping in Chelsea, and I was awake for good. Actually, awake for the worse.

Today went much better. E took the kids at 9a to our gym's daycare, then took them swimming there, then visited his mom for the afternoon. A whole day to myself! I almost wasted it sitting around drinking coffee (in PEACE) and reading the paper (again, in PEACE).

I finally got motivated, showered, and spent about an hour working on my Thanksgiving swap cards for stamp club ("the first rule of stamp club...we don't talk about stamp club"). I won a pound of handmade paper at crop Friday night, and I've already started using it for cards. Some of it is really pretty. I used up some of the uglier stuff for this card, and now I find I have a fuzzy sort of fondness for the crinkly brown paper I used. Go figure.

Then, I ran my favorite Sunday afternoon "errand" -- hanging around poking through the stacks at the Ann Arbor Library's Friends of the Library Book Sale. They have raised their prices drastically, though, so I had to do some serious weeding before I got up to the cash stand. Two bucks for hardcovers and trade paperbacks! Zut alors. Anyway, here's what I snagged:

Great Little Quilts, Eleanor Levie -- just for the fleur-de-lys pattern, and the elephant and donkey picture quilts
The House, Teresa Waugh -- started reading this at lunch. Gotta love eccentric British characters
Pushkin's Children, Tatyana Tolstaya -- just trying to figure out E
The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls -- to help me get over my mild childhood
To Hell With All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife -- I need a laugh
Made in Detroit, Paul Clemens -- because I collect Detroit books and I've been meaning to read this.

I ate lunch (in PEACE) at Seva's, one of my favorite restaurants (and vegetarian, so E never wants to go there) and had two of my favorite dishes: Enchilada Calabaza (stuffed with butternut squash -- hee, I can sense my friend Gabby curling her lip in disgust already) and Cocoa Cake, which I was surprised to find on the menu. A waitress there told me a while ago that they take it off the menu when the temperatures get over 78 degrees. My piece was certainly refrigerated, but still good. I can never finish it, though. Mmm...late-night snackage.

Came home to an EMPTY house, had coffee, relaxed before E came back with the kids. He put Ben straight to bed and Tess is listening to Harriet the Spy on CD. Hee. I'd better go in there and listen, too.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The hazards of a (very) warm autumn

Cider mill
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile
I am so ready for sweater weather. I know in about a month I'll be bitching about the snow and ice, so I'd better be careful what I wish for.

We had an outing, Ben and I, today at Jennie's Farm Market. I'm glad I announced early that I'd only stay about an hour (Ben needed to nap, I needed to eat & get ready to volunteer at Tess's school), because -- like at the cider mill in the photo above -- there were bees EVERYWHERE.

Some of you who know me know I can take anything but bees...give me a mouse, a snake, even a big, hairy spider, I can deal, but bees -- nope. And they were really lovin' me today. I had one bumping my arm over and over, another took a shine to my glasses, several times...well, let's just say I had to come home and rest this afternoon after that morning battle. Hey, I'm just proud I lasted a whole hour. Sometimes I see a bee, and I scoot.

But I do love me some cinnamon donuts & fresh apple cider. Even if I do have to eat them in the car.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Did you think I forgot?

12 months!
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile
I had the weird feeling after this last photo was taken, that somewhere I had missed a month. But no, I got them all.

I just missed a newborn photo...I remember thinking around day 2 or so, when I was home alone for an hour or so (Mom and Dad were visiting, but out shopping, or doing something equally useful for us), "gee, I should start taking the orange quilt/Ugly Doll pictures today," but then I was tired and worried about Ben's endless sleeping; sure enough, we went into the hospital the next day to take care of his severe jaundice.

So that is a story in itself, with plenty of photos...

Anyway, here is the full set. Complete at last!

Thursday, September 20, 2007


You know how I all feel about Christian websites (or anything overtly Christian). Or maybe you don't (it all creeps me out), but here is a fun chance to vote for the cover of a new book for a Christian author. Holy cow, I can't believe I just wrote that on my site. And I didn't creep myself out. And you're still reading.

Matthew is funny. I needed more funny Christians when I was growing up.

In other (non-Christian, far as I know) author news: E is sad. So very sad.

Our running joke when we were first married was, either I start reading the Wheel of Time series (oh, how I hate fantasy), or have a baby.

And Tess was born.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sick too

Great, now E is throwing up. Ben's 1st birthday party is Sunday afternoon. Durr. I hope the kids don't get this bug for more reasons than just that. It is the most wicked throwing up I have ever done (or witnessed). Like you are possessed.

Good thing I didn't go to Scrap Camp with everyone today.

Here's a purty picture to distract you from the idea of a stomach virus.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A rather tasteless weekend (for me, at least)

The ultimate test...
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile
Ben is here enjoying his quilt from Karen D. Yum! She gave it to me when I came along to the Great Ann Arbor Quilt Guild meeting (finally!) on Saturday. It's all those cool Harry Potter fabrics I was admiring when Karen posted about them...ooh...about 6 months ago! Sneaky girl.

Unfortunately, I didn't get these photos posted until just now because I've been battling a wicked stomach bug that hit me Sunday morning. I'd been tossing and turning all night, and E came in to the room just in time Sunday morning to see me nearly hork up a shoe. Honestly, that was all I had left in me by then.

I'm still feeling achy and weird but I'm trying to get to the mounds of laundry that piled up (in just one day, apparently) and to wipe off every surface that E seemed to hit in the kitchen while caring for the kids. Hey, he cleaned up after me (iiich) AND gave up tennis (the beloved Sunday night league that he runs), so I can allow him a small disaster. Or two.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Morning Reflections

Kids just waking up...I woke up early (6:30a), just before my alarm went off, with a disturbing dream. Woke up glad it was just a dream. All I can say is, I need to learn Russian. Then maybe these dreams where my husband and MIL are talking frantically to me in Russian will make sense, and be less disturbing.

Tess got all emotional on the drive home last night about her Dyeda (Russian grandpa). Out of the blue, she says:

"Bacteria can make you die."

Me: "It's pretty rare, though."

Tess: "What did Dyeda die from?"

Me: "Cancer."

Tess: "Sounds like 'pencer...and 'can't...'"
(she drifts off here, obviously sounding things out and rhyming them, to help her remember, then...)

Tess: "I miss Dyeda. I loved Dyeda. Why did he have to die?"

Then, within 30 seconds of my attempts to comfort her and find out the source of this sudden sadness, she's off talking about her bus driver and how they all have to be quiet when they are crossing railroad tracks (we soon came to railroad tracks, thus the jump to a safer subject).

Apparently her bus driver, Jen, has a CD player on the bus, which she turns down to listen for the train...all the kids have to hold their hands up to show that they are being quiet...and Jen went into a rant one day about her CD player (still not sure of all the connections on this, but it was pretty funny).

"Our bus driver spent her time and money to have music on the bus and we have to all be quiet when she stops at the tracks.

"But I wish she had Backyardigans instead."

Me: "What kind of music does your bus driver like to listen to?"

Tess: "Blues...y'know, stuff like that. Backyardigans has the blues. She should play Backyardigans."

(Tess is obviously obsessed with our Backyardigans CD...maybe she should take it on the bus some day for Jen to play...heh, I'm sure that would be appreciated...)

Saturday, September 8, 2007


I need some advice. Tess has never had neighbor children to play with before, she's always gone alone into our yard and played just fine on her own (if a little lonely).

She's been over at the neighbors' two doors down all. day. Seriously, from like 11:30a -- when I walked her down there to ask if their 6 year-old could play -- with a break for lunch at 12:30p (she came over to ask if she could have pizza with them, they'd invited her but I'd already made her a grilled cheese sandwich at her request...she ended up eating that AND pizza!), to a visit from a bunch of neighborhood kids to OUR house for about a half an hour at 4p, until she FINALLY came home ("just for bug spray, mom! I'm going back over there!") where I insisted she stay home for dinner (with a little bit of questioning, it seems *they* were eating dinner, so I kept her home).

I've spoken to the mom on a number of occasions this week, she's super-friendly and works outside on their home a lot. This weekend she and her husband were working outside all day, replacing wood frames and staining wood around their house. They were totally cool with Tess being over there all day (I went over at 3p when Ben woke up from a nap to check on her).

Apparently they had *another* neighbor girl over to watch their kids (they have a 6 year old and a 4 year old), so essentially I had free babysitting all day. E thinks we should offer to pay, I'm thinking the 12 year-old was more of a mother's helper while the parents worked around the house.

I'm all for asking, I'm just not sure how cool it is to have Tess over there all day. She goes in the evenings after school, too.

Anyway, this is a new issue for me. I'm happy to have kids over here, we just don't have the super-cool playset up (and won't, until next spring).

Tess goes to her Baba's tomorrow, then we have friends over who are leaving for Colorado (sniff), so she'll be distracted.

These gorgeous photos are distracting me right now. After E being gone all day at ANOTHER tennis tournament (last one this season, so help me God), I'm happy to surf the net for the rest of the evening.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

And she's off...

Ben went down at 11:27a, the bus came at 11:42a. Whew. Tess had just finished her popsicle and was upstairs getting her socks. She loves her crocs but I thought socks might be necessary in school (who knows, she might come home with a note, No Crocs Allowed).

I love that she picked out her frilly socks with lace at the top. Oh, and polka dots and paisley TOTALLY go together, as long as they are both in the same color family. Right?

I was very surprised and pleased to get a call from our bus driver yesterday, telling me that they would pick up Tess at our driveway. The bus came sooner than I was expecting today, though, so it all happened in a rush.

An assistant came down and drew a (pink, hee) chalk line on our driveway, the "Do Not Cross" line for Tess, and showed her how the driver will signal when it's okay to get on the bus.

The driver had Tess turn around to get her picture taken (yay!); when I spoke to her yesterday she said she expected cameras and hugs, etc. etc. so it was nice to have her give me a moment for that.

I wasn't expecting a to get a little teary-eyed. I mean, c'mon, Tess has been underfoot all summer. I haven't signed her up for any sports or dance or crafty classes, so it's been me and her and Ben all. summer. long.

But now she's off on her own adventure. The Big One. I had to give her lunch at 11:15a, so I packed her a snack to eat on the bus ride home. She had packed some books to read (my suggestion) and a big ballerina bear, but when I pulled that out to put in her snack I asked her about it and she decided she's a big girl now so she had me take it out. Awww.

I threw in a notepad and pen for her to draw with, since she loves to draw, and her snack for the afternoon. She decided last night to pack a change of clothes "in case I don't make it to the bathroom in time" (which has only happened once at school, when she was THREE).

Now I've got my precious free time (and here I sit, writing an entry). Here's hoping Ben does at least a 2-hour nap this morning...I've got 40+ postcards to make. At least my scrap room is getting, well, more scrappable. Is that a word?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Some creative time

Okay, after the bitching yesterday, I have to say I did manage to get in *some* crafting time. I'm going to make about 60 of these postcards to send out. I wanted to make sure the bear-in-a-box was secure on the front, so what could I use? Something I have plenty of...packing tape! Naturally.

Too bad CTMH is retiring this set. Stampin Up retired *their* Just Moved set in July, so I had to go with this one. Looking back at the SU set, I like this one better after all. Certainly more for the money -- 15 stamps to SU's 7, for $18.95 versus $23.95. Acrylic is cheaper, after all. It'll be interesting to see what both companies comes up with for this theme in future catalogs.

Today is the last day of summer vacation. Tess was very excited to learn that she starts school TOMORROW. More to the point, that she is going to see her friend Mackenzie then.

I'm putting her on the bus, for now, and letting it drop her off in the late afternoon. I think she's going to be on the bus home alone, almost -- everyone I talk to is picking up their kids from school. First of all, I don't want to wait in the long, loooong line in front of the school with a baby in the back, and secondly, I don't want to waste a moment of Ben's nap time, either when Tess leaves or when she comes home. We'll see how she does. She's sensitive, but has her tough side. I hope she doesn't need it on the bus.

Ben is still a bit all over the place with naps; for the most part he takes two, but sometimes he skips a morning nap and takes one monster afternoon nap. Tess gave up her morning nap altogether when she turned one, and her afternoon nap was gone when she turned two. Hopefully everyone's prediction that two kids can be very, very different will come true in my kids' case.

Monday, September 3, 2007

At least someone around here is relaxing

Big Feet
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile
Tess checked out my new jetted tub today...only without the jets (naturally). I turned them on for her after she got out, and the just the soap she had used made a TON of bubbles. So now I know why the home inspector said not to use bubble bath in this tub.

Tess had to jump back in to enjoy those soapy bubbles.

Damn, that was a long weekend. I haven't had much of a break since Friday night. E and I got into a wrassle (is that a wrestle and a hassle?) over it today, in fact. His solution (to the fact that he gets to work with ADULTS all day, AND gets out to play tennis every. day. for 2-3 hours) is for me to get a job.

I know (and I know he knows) that that is a knee-jerk reaction, and that my going back to work would bring us more headaches than me being home, despite the fact that I don't get paid for the work I do around the house and with the kids.

The discussion brought to mind a statement I read in one of those mother-empowerment books, a statement that made me realize how our society as a whole does not "get" the sacrifice families make when one parent stays home (to be fair, I do know of at least one "househusband" in our circle of friends).

If you choose to stay home, you will see a big fat "ZERO" on your Social Security earnings for the year.

If you hire a nanny...

..she gets Social Security.

And a paycheck.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Welcome to my life

Boxes, boxes everywhere. This is (going to be) my new scraproom, a first-floor study with the dining room straight across for crop nights.

It has been soooo long since I cropped; can't wait to go tonight. Yup, gotta get out of the (new) house. It has been so long since I've been able to organize for cropping that I just ordered 63 photos JUST FOR BEN'S BABY ALBUM and that only takes me through APRIL (month 7) of his life.

I'll probably only get his baptism done tonight, but at least I'll be organized for crops in September.

More fun photos:

Ben loves my Cropper Hopper cart...

Proof that my children are part monkey:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

State Superstar!

E is off to Indianapolis this weekend to play in the USTA regional finals for his tennis team (yes, they went with Tshirts that read "Dumbledore's Army"...last year it was "Chico's Bail Bonds"). Pretty cool, huh? Yeah, I'd be more excited if we weren't -- this time next week -- moving house and in need of packing...packing...packing.

Good thing we have a hearty chunk of our furniture in a PODS unit somewhere. I always envision that last scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when I think of our things in storage.

At least I was FINALLY able to secure a babysitter -- one who can drive herself home -- for my regular crop night. I'll need a break by then.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

SOLD! and bought...almost

In a flurry of activity last week, we sold our home (after 4 counteroffers... countercounter-offers? counteroffers to the power of 4?) and looked at nearly a dozen homes before finally putting in an offer this morning. Somehow I managed to get some scrappin' done in there (this is the Betsy Ross House in Philly). We won't know until the end of the week, most likely, if we got the house.

There were three signs is relatively short order that it was "our" house: we walked through to the back patio and all of us shouted "WILLOW TREE!" --everyone knows that is my favorite kind of tree, especially in spring; my MIL heard bullfrogs galumping when she went outside to keep an eye on Tess (this has a special significance for her as my FIL was fascinated by the frogs they heard on their daily walk to a nearby pond) (earlier, the first offer on our house came in on my FIL's birthday); finally at the next house the battery on our video camera died, as if to say "you are done looking now!"

E has instantly mellowed on the me-time/you-time issue, amongst other things. Weird how stressed the whole home-selling, home-buying process made both of us. I think it helped him process his dad's death, in a roundabout way.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Strangely Peaceful

I put Ben down at 8:30p (poor guy's been rubbing his eyes for an hour, but he had no afternoon nap so I didn't want to put him down *too* early, only to have him wake up in an hour and be up until 10p) and went to check on Tess, who had been bouncing off walls at 7:30p, then complained of a headache and went upstairs around 8p.

This is what I found. I like how she is clinging to the bed rail, as if to keep from falling. Asleep, that is. Now I can only hope that she doesn't wake up vomiting. The last time she went upstairs and fell asleep on her own while it was daylight was when she had the stomach flu. She was three years old then and it was 4 o'clock in the afternoon, but still. Crossing my fingers here.

Today I had 5 whole hours at the Zone to crop. All of my bitching during and after our "vacation," where E {begin lengthy whine} dragged us to his friend's place in Petoskey (I know, poor me, gorgeous condo near the shores of Little Traverse Bay, whaa, I'll shut up now) JUST SO HE COULD PLAY SOME TENNIS, not considering I wasn't planning on cropping again for a full TWO WEEKS (although I did get out for a couple of hours when we got back early from our trip), {/whine} finally paid off.

You'd think I'd accomplish more than two layouts in 5 hours but that's what a long break does to me. E has also been encroaching on my Sacred Fridays, where I try to get out to Chelsea for my weekly crop by 7p (and I crop until midnight...or until they start running the vacuum to get us out, usually around 11:15p). Now, Sacred Fridays are something that NOBODY should mess with, most of all E and his frickin' tennis schedule. I think he learned his lesson today when I was gone. All. Day. Sweet.

Friday (a shortened 3-hour crop, more like 2 hours), I tried an 11 x 8.5 ("landscape") layout for the first time. My pictures required it, so I closed my eyes and jumped. Eh. Not so fond of that one, but today's -- second one in a row! -- was a LOT more fun.

LOVE the Stampin Up "Notebook" alphabet (now retired) for "Binky Face" (no, I did not hand draw those letters. I wish)! Not too sure about the tab and the journaling strips, but overall the layout works in the mood I was going for -- playful and silly.

The other layout I completed today I totally dreamed up yesterday. I recently read an article on hair care in Real Simple magazine, and under Oily Hair (totally my type) it listed all the things I *should* be doing to take care of my fine, oily hair, and voila! I am doing all of them! So I ripped the article out, grabbed a page kit I received from a swap-bot swap, and went to town.

Here's a couple of reasons why this layout is so out of the box for me:

1. PINK!
2. ribbons
3. hidden journaling
5. a button (gasp!)
6. for the dot on the "i," no less!
8. I finally used my Coluzzle file folder template.
9. and my Autumn Leaves journal box stamps.
10. more than 2 fonts on the page (shh...don't tell the scrapping police...)
11. did I mention I used PINK and TURQUOISE?

I can't promise anything, but since I have just purchased Elsie Flannigan's 52 Challenges book, you may be in for more surprises on my pages...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

07_07_07 project

Originally uploaded by CreativeExile
Well, this ended up being really fun. I was invited to this Flickr group over a month ago, but when I went to add my photos to the group, I found I was no longer a member. Luckily my email was answered and James, the moderator, added me yesterday.

I was having a really down day...been fighting with E all through our vacation and it continued when we got home. Like I said, he is a terrible traveler and I forgot how he was when Tess was a baby. Something about traveling with a baby, to my family, where he is "forced" to "babysit" (ooo...let's not even go there...) just sets him (and me) off.

I wasn't even going to take pictures for this project, and didn't realize what day it was until about 11 a.m. I hung around the house, depressed, until --irony alert!-- E dragged me out of the house to meet his friend, who has a daughter Tess's age, in the evening.

You gotta know that a summer festival (is it still Top of the Park if it's not on top of the usual parking structure?) in Ann Arbor is RIPE for photo opps. In the end, I had 40+ photos to choose from for the 7 required in this project.

This was my favorite.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The gals who mistook their bag for a hat.

Felting Fun
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile
Been a while since you've seen any knitting activity over here, eh? Yeah, check out the name of my blog now. So of course it's time for some knitting content, right?!

This was from One Skein. Tess saw me trying it on as a hat when I was about halfway through knitting it; naturally she had to give it a try. It fit her better once I felted it. Works out well except for those handles/holes over her ears.

Just as I predicted, it's looking like a Dead Raccoon bag (I used a skein left over from a sweater for Ben), so I've purchase some bright pink Lamb's Pride Bulky to try again. Not that I'm a Hot Pink kinda gal, but I'm more that than a Dead Raccoon kinda gal.

Motown Philly back again

Betsy Ross house
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile
Remind me not to drag E anywhere ever again. Remind me not to let my family dictate my travel plans. I wanted to leave Mr. Crabby at home with Little Crab, but Mom wanted the whole Famn Damily along for my brother's wedding. What a pain in the ass.

Things went okay until we tried to return home. Seems that even if you check in online the night before, and get your seat assignments, the airline can switch the flight to a smaller plane and "lose" 9 seats (including our 3). While there were a couple of kind folks willing to give up seats, we (a) were the last to check in at the airport, and thus last in line to get abandoned seats and (b) needed someone to give up 3 seats at once, which wasn't going to happen, even if we were first to the airport that day.

That said, Philadelphia is really a lovely city. One I wouldn't mind returning to when the kids are older (or, better yet, without the kids. Or Mr. Crabby).

E is just a terrible traveler. Up next: taking Mr. Crabby to Mackinac Island. Now, in addition to not liking airplanes, he claims to not like bicycles or horses. I think I'm screwed.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Mom Style

I begged E to stay home this morning so that I could sleep in (HA), or at least have some help with the kids ONE morning a week. So he is off on a bike ride with Tess, while I'm here at home scrapping while Ben naps.

I haven't been able to crop at home in a while; I'm always sitting down to do it and then finding a million things to do around the house. Laundry. Dusting. Vacuuming. Feeding kids.

Now that we have the house up for sale, it's pretty spotless. Well, that, and I'm out of boxes. Our first showing stated that we still show "a little clutter," holy crap, what more can I get rid of? Either that, or put up a sign, "beware when you open closets." Yeah, that'll sell it. "Wow, they have a million closets, but for God's sake, DON'T LOOK INSIDE OF THEM!"

The one cool find during all the packing was my tripod. I KNEW I had it, although for a brief moment I thought I might have loaned it to the evil ex-fiance, thus had no hope of seeing it again.

Now I can participate in Mrs Reed's awesome Flickr group, Mom Style. I've been wondering how to take pictures for it for a while now (prop the camera up on a plant stand?) but that issue is solved.

Look for my lame wardrobe to make its daily appearance over at Flickr. You'll feel superior, no doubt.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Getting Ready

Before clean-up
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile
This is what I spent my weekend cleaning up. Seriously -- it took two days to get this mess straightened out.

I don't even recognize the interior of our home anymore. We have been living with clutter for so long that our home is now like new (but alas, not much bigger than I remember). Thus, we have it on the market.

I think we have it priced fairly -- there are lots of homes priced above us, and just a handful below. Two Realtors we spoke to suggested pricing it in the lower range just to move it, but since I'm not THAT interested in moving (actually, I wasn't that interested in cleaning and preparing our home for showing) I really fought taking at $15,000 hit on our place just to get it off our hands.

There are lots of things I love about our house, things I will miss. The peaceful backyard. Walking into the village. Neighbors.

But I do look forward to having room to entertain, and perhaps even a nice, warm, dry scrap room. Somewhere where the dryer buzzer doesn't scare the daylights out of me while I'm tuned in to my Ipod, scrapping late into the night.

And perhaps, a room as clean as this, all the time.
After clean-up

Friday, June 1, 2007

Amusing myself

Over here...

I'm sure I can come up with some Russian Engrish...

Thanks to Mrs Reed at Flickr!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Looks easy, right?

Ben at 8 months
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile
Just prop up your baby next to the same stuffed animal every month and get a nice tally of his growth over the first year. Easy, right?

Not so very...

First, you have to involve Big Sister.

Get her to hide behind the couch (arm) and keep baby there by distracting him with funny voices.

Only Big Sister -- FOR ONCE -- does not understand the concept of "hide."

You know, so you CAN'T BE SEEN.
Photo shoot for Ben's monthly photo, part one of SEVERAL

Then, of course, baby takes note of MOM. Taking the PICTURE (or, trying to...)
Hey is that mom?

And he has to do one of those classic "Hi Mom!" TV shots...or perhaps a "could I drool on your lens a sec, Ma?" question is being posed.
Hi Mom!

Suddenly Big Sister realizes her help is no longer needed.
She is being asked to GET OUT OF THE PICTURE.
Zut, alors!
Why can't *I* be in the picture?

THEN Mom realizes he crawled all the way across the couch for...
...the remote.
So, let him play with it!
Maybe the remote will occupy him...

Now he has no interest in anything else.
Including the large, green Ugly Doll put there expressly for his amusement.

FINALLY, the Money Shot.
Sister no where in sight.
Remote firmly in grasp.
(see first photo, above).

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Notice anything?

Notice anything?
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile.
Definitely NOT a scrapable moment. My MIL noticed yesterday that one side of Tess's hair was shorter than the other...just enough that I didn't notice it.

I looked Tess in the eye and asked her -- quite calmly, I must say, and with genuine curiosity -- whether the hairstylist Grandma took her to up north had done that on purpose. I got two lies in a row, then, when I promised not to get mad, she admitted to cutting it herself.

"And where did you put the hair you cut off?"

"In a bucket. In my room."

Henceforth the scissors have been relinquished and she must do all crafts in my presence. Her hair is still long in back, so she's got a kind of modified (gack) mullet. Which will look just GREAT when she is flower girl at my brother's wedding next month. SIGH.

I gave my MIL a chance to even it up, and she hacked off too much on the other side. She usually does a great job with Tess's bangs and I've even had her cut some off the back in the past; Tess must have wiggled this time. Grr.

Heirloom rocking chair

All right, people, it's got to be said. It was cute (and I loved everyone's reaction) when he was 4 months old and 19 pounds. I was even okay when he hit 22 pounds at 6 months. But if one more person comments on how much they love fat babies, I'm gonna start takin' names. Because I have constant back pain and he can understand more than you realize.

Oh my God, I've got to go munch those bread dough thighs. Later 'gators.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Balancing act

Balancing act
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile.
Not much of a Mother's Day on Sunday. I got about 45 minutes to myself (enough to compose my last blog entry). Then I had the urge to be outside. Since our house-hunting disaster (long story), E had the urge to be Mr Fix-It, so I took off with the kids for a short walk and left him to door-varnishing duties.

The attractions of living in the village are (a) walking to downtown, (b) being near the train tracks without them actually interfering with traffic (a la Chelsea), and (c) walking to the river.

We indulged in the latter. It wasn't a hot day, but the shade by the river (behind the cider mill) was refreshing. On our walk, we went past a brush pile of lilac bush cuttings, so Tess & I helped ourselves (mmm...lilacs).

Tess spent the afternoon at her Baba's on Saturday, so her Dyeda was on her mind all day Sunday. My MIL has, naturally, pictures of my FIL all over her house, so Tess came up with some poignant and pointed observations on our walk.

"I hold my flowers up to heaven for Dyeda, but they don't disappear. Doesn't he want them?"

"I wish I were an orphan so I wouldn't have to worry about you and Daddy dying before me." (?!?)

Being that my mother had the kids when my FIL passed away, I asked her not to tell Tess as we wanted to leave that for us to share. But of course she had to start a discussion about religion and heaven with Tess -- can't blame her-- so she used the "my Father has many mansions" verse as a basis for her discussions.

So now Tess wants to know what kind of room her Dyeda has in heaven, and what she can have in *her* room when she gets there (eep), and whether or not our rooms will be near each other when we're all up there together.

Later rather than sooner, we hope.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

What's up with the winning?

Cropper Hopper Grand Prize
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile.
I'm not really in a mood to write, but I figured I'd post this picture and see what happens.

This is what I won from Cropper Hopper (their $500 Grand Prize) at CKU during the Campus Crop Thursday night, after they called two other names and those ladies weren't present. After my extremely emotional day, I could not help but let out a rebel yell when they called my name.

The silver cart is one thing I really wanted. Also their paper holders; I already have two and was considering buying more.

I did not expect their photo cases to be of much use, but I've spent the last week emptying out old video/photo boxes and filling one case with 1990 photos, the other with my "ought" photos (so far).

Their 7"x10" storage box came in handy for the task of emptying out 3 ancient "magnetic" (GASP) albums from my high school years. I spent most of Thursday and Friday (when I could grasp a moment from Benjamin's crawling attempts and attendant grumpiness) and one box is now full of memorabilia from 1979 to 1984. I was fond of newspaper clippings back then. Amazingly, some of them made it out of the magnetic albums, most poignantly, articles on John Lennon's shooting.

Now I'm just looking for a moment here and there when I can sort out the mess of paper I have. I can easily do this craft budget "diet" just by stepping into my scrap room and re-organizing the crap that is in there.

Well, Ben is up from another 45-minute nap. Of COURSE when E had him yesterday (while I was at Mega Meet), Ben took one of his glorious 3 hour napfests, but today, Mother's Day, when I could REALLY use a break, alas. Back to work.

Oh, and Friday I went to the Zone's Mega Meet crop and won the new Simple Scrapbooks Album Shortcuts "book" (that looks like a magazine, but they feel perfectly at ease charging us $15 for...a post for another day). So another event "paid" for itself in my winning. Kinda spooky.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


Lucky penny
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile.
I've been trying to think of an appropriate post after all the Sturm und drang of the past two weeks. E's obsession with house hunting? (Fact: you can get good land around here, but the house on it will suck, or you can buy ~ugh~ a site condo). Ben's teething? Tess's sudden wish for Ben to go back to the hospital from whence he came? (Knew that was coming, just didn't know when...or with what vehemence).

The pile of projects from CKU-Detroit? The new project I just bought for National Scrapbooking Day?

Oh yeah, scrapbooking. That hobby on which I can spend NO money this month. Except for the call I received from the Zone today, with an opening for their $20 crop next Friday, and Mega Meet that Saturday, I can be good. Oh, crap, and stamp club the second Monday of the month (minimum order of $25). Oh well. Good thing I have all those projects to finish from CKU.

Then I went to get change for a tip on my (free, BTW, I've had 9 punchies on my Bear Claw Coffee card for well over a month now, and decided my "crafter's diet" month was as good a time as any to use my freebie) iced mocha and found in the change I just received at the post office, this lovely 1905 penny.

Didn't know I was one of those freaky penny collectors now, did you? Yup, I have wheat pennies spanning the 1920s through 1959, when they were replaced by the Lincoln profile (all worth...probably a penny each). I have a strange penny from 1943 that is definitely NOT copper; they were obviously saving that for the war effort (so I have no idea what this strange grey metal is). I have an Indian-head nickel from 1934 and a buffalo-head one from 1935.

But this coin really got my blood pumping. At first I thought it was a Canadian coin (the ladylike-looking Indian-head reminded me of Queen Elizabeth's profile). Those dang Canadians got me once when I was about 10 years old and found one of their pennies half-buried in the sand -- all that was showing was "1867." Thought I'd die but then I pulled it out and it was a centennial penny ("-1967" was the buried part).

I showed it to the barista at the drive-through Bear Claw where I stopped after getting Tess to school (trying to get cranky Ben to worked...for the duration of the car ride, at least). I hope she wasn't thinking I was going to give it to her (hey, I was tipping her on a FREE coffee, wasn't that enough?)...

I love thinking of the things a coin like this could have bought when it was new. What really freaks me out is, this penny was in circulation before any of my grandparents (except one) were born (my maternal grandfather -- my biological one -- was born in F. Scott Fitzgerald).

Sure, a 1929 penny could have bought a kid a lot of candy (now you'd be lucky to get a couple of M&Ms for that amount). It could pay for postage on a postcard, that's for sure. But considering that you could open an account at the new Dime Savings Bank Building in 1910 for just a dime, I can't even begin to think what riches a 1905 penny would have brought its owner.

Nice to see it's worth more than a penny, maybe more than a dollar, if I get it properly cleaned.

Yeah, I'm a coin geek. At least it gave me a chance to change the subject.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Thanks to everyone for their kind thoughts, whether through comments or email. Today is our first "normal" day, with the kids back from up north and E back to work. We still have to tell Tess; we just want to get her back into a routine here at home before we do so, so that she does not think "oh, I go up north and lose my Dyeda" or otherwise have bad associations with his death or being up north with my folks.

She's just happy I managed to tape the Wonder Pets movie while she was gone. I don't want to mess with that yet.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


My father-in-law passed away Thursday morning after a long battle with prostate cancer. Right now I am too exhausted from CKU to write with any sense about it. I'm hoping a picture truly is worth a thousand words.

And yes, I checked with E and there was nothing for me to do to help, so he said Please Go and I went to CKU.

I have a CKU set at Flickr for anyone who stops by and wants to check them out. To any CKU gals stopping by here, THANK YOU so much for the kind words, hugs, tissues, and all the support that got me through this difficult, weird, and exhausting weekend.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Grrrrr CKU

Grrrrr CKU
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile.
Friday the 13th, right? Well, my strange bad luck with CKU has been going on for a week now...none of my emails have been going to any of the Yahoo lists I'm on (I'm on 3; the main one, my "dorm" list, and my album track list).A message I sent before I left for Florida, showed up after I got back! It seems to have itself for now, though.

My Handbook CD came in the mail and it's in a million pieces. Okay, not a million, but enough that there's no hope of reading anything off of it.

I can't even speak about my FIL; the news is too horrible to mention, E is over there every other day helping his mom move him and wash him. She starts every phone call to E with "he's still breathing," which I guess is her way of calming him down from the start (I'm sure E dreads seeing their phone number pop up on his cell screen...)

On the bright side, Tess has my camera (yup, the Canon. I know, E holds his breath whenever he comes home and sees her handling it. She's very responsible with far).

She has captured some very sweet images of Ben, and Ben with me, then she becomes her usual silly self.

Cross-eyed Ben

Me & Boo

Me & Boo II




Littlest Pet Shop monkey