Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Currently | February

Seeing Disney on Ice for the first time with cousin Christa! 

Rubbing Vick's vapor rub on Noah's chest.   

Shopping for something for my dad's birthday. I love that he has an Amazon wish list!

Breaking ground on my new Wordpress blog. (I hope to unveil it next month!)

Learning that UPS will gladly pick up an Amazon return from your home. (Why haven't I taken advantage of this time-saving feature before?!)

Visiting a pediatric dentist with Noah for the first time.  (He did awesome!)

Renewing my teaching credential in case I want to (or need to) come out of "retirement" some day.

Bowling (bumper-style) with Noah and Brian. It was Noah's first time!

Singing and clapping and laughing with friends at Mother Goose on the Loose. 

Dressing Joey up as a firefighter and a superhero and a police officer.

Loving how Noah is engaging in more imaginative play--acting as a doctor, a waiter or a conductor.

Planning a "mama getaway" in mid-April. Smile. 

Creating a "gatherings" layout with Ali Edwards' Story Kit.

Tracking my steps with my new FitBit Charge. (It's available at Costco, too. Thank you, Babe!)

Reading The Last Letter from Your Lover and Unbroken.

Crying at the end of the Downton Abbey episode this week. 

Working with a videographer to produce a video about our family and our desire to adopt again.  

Looking forward to attending the Auburn Symphony's Family Concert this weekend. 

What's happening with you currently?

*This post contains affiliate links. What does that mean? If you click on any link and make a purchase, I'll receive a small commission--with no extra cost to you--which helps to keep my blog humming along. Thanks, in advance, for your support!  

Monday, February 9, 2015

AE Story Kit | Two "Firsts" Layouts

The day after Christmas, I signed up for Ali Edwards' Story Kit subscription, intent on making at least one scrapbook layout a month this year.

When my first box of goodies arrived in January, I was giddy with excitement. And I was just holding the box, mind you. (If you've been reading my blog long, you know what a fan I am of Ali Edwards + pretty much anything she creates.)

Then, I opened it up and was treated to an assortment of stickers and chipboard embellishments and cork letters and 3x4 cards and 4x6 cards, all relating to the theme: firsts.

Because I just couldn't stop myself, I created two layouts with the "firsts" kit, both about my FIRST (and only) trip to Click.
It's one of those "firsts" that I think about often.  A first that was both challenging + fun. A first where I definitely stepped outside my comfort zone, and because of that, came away with renewed self-confidence, a well of courage, and a willingness to attempt other firsts.

1 | "The Story of a First"

I love this image.  To me, everything about it screams the Outer Banks -- from the lattice fence to the staircase leading down to the beach to the reeds blowing in the wind to the sandy beach filled with footprints. I go back there instantly, hearing the roar of the ocean waves. 

I know it's ridiculously hard to read the journaling in the above photos, so I've typed it below:

It all began with the click of my mouse. It all began by saying "Yes!" to Click, even though I knew it would be hard for me. And because I stepped out of my comfort zone, I got to meet Ali Edwards for the first time! I got to meet Me Ra Koh and Tracey Clark, too. I got to visit the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I got to meet lots of lovely bloggers, take photos, eat yummy food, learn about photography, play carnival games, and experience a crazy-loud crack of thunder.  Boom! I missed Noah and Brian, but I had so much fun at my first blogger retreat. {Oct 2013}

2 | "Number 1"

I wanted to include more than one photo in this layout, so I started by resizing the ocean image to 12x12, and then placed it on a 12x18 canvas and ordered it at Costco. I also resized five photos to 2x2, and placed them on three 4x6 canvasses. 

To make the big #1, I reused packaging from a matching game that Noah received for his birthday. Originally, it had 12 squares; I just took a razor blade and trimmed it down to seven. (I also used the blade to cut the cork number 1 off of the word "number.") I painted the number one white and let it dry.

I had planned to insert a bookmark filled with journaling behind the photos, but then totally forgot when I was piecing the layout together, and glued the photos down instead.  Oh, snap!

Plan B: Attach journaling to the back of the layout.   

Thank God for Plan B. 

Lastly, in this kit, Ali poses a really thought-provoking question, that I thought I'd share so you could gnaw on it, like I am.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

I'm still thinking (probably not a good sign), but if you're so inclined, please share about the last time you did something for the first time in the comment section.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How Do You Find the Time?

Shot with my iPhone 5S & Camera+ App (using the self-timer)
It's a fair question and one I receive every so often, especially from readers who are just discovering my blog. 

It's true that since 2008, I've amassed 600+ posts on my site, but it's also important to keep in mind that those posts were written over the course of 1-2-3-4-5-6 years. 

I'm not a prolific writer by any means, but I think I've developed a few habits that have helped me, year-in-and-year-out, carve out time to write.

But first, let's look at what I don't do...

I don't...
  • Watch much television.  In the past, I've made exceptions for two PBS series shows, Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife. But oftentimes, I watch the episodes weeks after they've first aired, sometimes while running on the treadmill.
  • Clean my home until it's spotless. I'd rather skip the dusting or put off cleaning the bathroom until later, so I have time to write.
  • Browse Pinterest or Facebook or Instagram as much as I used to. When I go onto one of these sites, I love the inspiration, the eye candy, the sharing of photos and stories, but I know that I must set some kind of timer (usually on my iPhone), lest I fall into the social media black hole, never to return again. 
I do...
  • Jot down notes everywhere.  Sometimes in too many places--to the point where I'll remember capturing my thoughts, but I can't for the life of me recall exactly where. I'll think, Did I leave a voice memo for myself? Or type it in an iPhone note? Or jot it down in a spiral notebook? 
  • Set up my laptop on the kitchen counter. Some days, especially if I anticipate some down time at home (e.g. Noah is watching an episode of Jake and the Neverland Pirates or engrossed in playing with his trains), I stand at the counter and type away. 
  • Read A LOT. Books. Magazines. Blogs. I find that new ideas bubble up to the surface as I read. Inspiration strikes. (Of course, not all the time, but sometimes.) 
  • Take advantage of any "free" time I have. If my husband is going to take Noah grocery shopping with him, you'll find me typing away at my computer while they're gone. When Noah goes to daycare for a few hours on Fridays, I spend a good chunk of that time writing.
  • Think A LOT. Over-think is probably more accurate. Some of my blog posts are written entirely in my head. I simply dump the contents out onto the page when I have a moment to type it up. More often than not, blog posts take a lot of time and energy-- tweak and revise and proof my writing.    
How do you carve out time for hobbies you enjoy?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Currently | January

I'm currently...

sharing Christmas photo booth images (some with props, some without) with family via Dropbox.

drafting two new articles for Improve Photography.

enjoying Downton Abbey with Brian.

loving The Honest Co. body wash and bubble bath for Noah. (Thanks to my sister Katie for sending us a free trial!)

wearing a Pivotal Tracker 1. (My first band was a total dud, so I returned it to Amazon and they quickly sent out a new one. So far, so good with this second one.)

finishing up two scrapbook layouts using Ali Edwards' "Firsts" Story Kit.

framing this free 16x20 print. I had it printed at Office Depot (from a jump drive) for just $1.05. Plus, the frame was 50% off at Aaron Brothers.  Double score!

sprinkling my conversations with Noah with "color" words. Would you like the blue one or the green one?  Let's paint with red paint first and then yellow paint. (By the way, have you read this article about how important it is to talk--and talk A LOT--to your little ones? So fascinating.)  

watching Brian and Mike (Brian's dad) build the foundation for a chicken coop on our property. 

playing with kinetic sand and real sand and play-doh and watercolor paints.   

scheduling Noah's first dentist appointment.

trying to nurse Noah back to health after a yucky virus plagued him all last week. 

listening to Elise Gets Crafty podcasts while I do my makeup in the morning, while I'm driving in the car (by myself), and while I'm sweeping or mopping the floors. I've never been a big podcast listener, but I'm really enjoying it.   

soaking up the sunshine and the warmth. Is it really January?

adding photos from 2014 (and a few from this month) to our Adoptimist profile.  

dancing around to Taylor Swift's Shake It Off song. 

spying daffodil bulbs popping up in our front yard. Already?!
chatting with moms who are interested in joining Mountain Moms.

scouting out places to shoot a family portrait.

responding to emails from our adoption attorney. (No match yet, but we're hopeful.) 

loving how much Noah adores hugging, snuggling with, and talking to the dogs. 

Your turn: What's {currently} happening in your life?

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Letter to Noah @ 3

Dear Noah,

Today you turn three, my precious boy.

Like most moms out there, I'm kind of in shock that you're not so little anymore. 

I think...three? Already? You're growing up so fast, baby bear. 

Last Friday, I was at the post office mailing an envelope to your birth mother when it hit me.

The USPS clerk entered your birth mother's address into the system, but for some reason, it didn't recognize it. I was surprised and said, "Wow, really?  I've been sending envelopes to that address for three years."

Turns out, he spelled the street name incorrectly, but when I heard myself utter those three words, for three years, it really sunk in that it's been that long since I laid eyes on you for the first time.  That long since I fed you a bottle for the first time. That long since your birth mother lovingly placed you in my arms.

It's true I became your mama that day, but it wasn't until a year later that you started saying my favorite word in the English language: mama.

And you've said it countless times since. It's music to my ears, I tell you. 

Your birth--and the courageous, loving, and selfless decision your birth mother made to place you with our family--made me a mama.

And man, am I grateful for that.

Oh, how I adore you, Noey.  

Oh, how I cherish you.

Oh, how I love you. 

About a week ago, in anticipation of your birthday, I started jotting down as many things as I could think of that I love about you right now. 

I love that you...
  • Love helping with the dishes. We push a dining chair up to the sink and you climb up and stand on it, so you can reach the faucet. Inevitably, tons of water ends up on the floor, but the dishes get very clean and you have so much fun in the process.
  • Love the ocean, love the beach, love the sand, love the sunsets.  (I snapped the photo above on a beach in Del Mar.)
  • Adore singing. You sing at home, at Music Together classes, in the car--even at Target. (In fact, we were shopping at Target last week and a customer complimented your singing voice. I said, "Thank you," and you just kept right on singing.)
  • Have so much energy and enthusiasm and zest for life. 
  • Have curly hair. (We got your hair cut a few weeks after the photo above was taken. It was a 25-minute, two-lollipop kind of haircut. It was tough on you, and it was tough on me. Since then, several people have commented, "Oh, you got your hair cut, Noah!"  To which you quickly reply with a frown, "I didn't like it.")   
  • Love taking the back roads. When I give you the option, and I try to as often as I can, you always choose the back roads over the freeway. Reminds me of that Rodney Atkins' song, Take a Back Road--a tune your daddy loves.
  • Are playing independently more, and for longer periods of time. Right now, you play with your Jake pirate ship, your trains, and your fire truck most often.
  • Ask me to "Talk Mickey?" which in Noah-speak means "Would you please talk for Mickey?"
  • Ask me for a granola bar by saying, "Can I please have a handlebar?"
  • Are obsessed with the Disney show, Jake and the Neverland Pirates. The other day, you were playing in the family room when I said, "Okay Noah, in 5 minutes, I'm going to get you dressed and then we're going to get in the car and go see Nonni and Pop." You looked up at me and said, "Aye, aye, Captain Mommy!"
  • Love persimmons.  See, we have a persimmon tree in our  yard, but neither Daddy nor I particularly like the taste of them.  So, for years, we've been giving them away to friends. But not anymore. As long as we remove the skin, you will eat and eat and eat some more.
  • Think of Zoey, even though she no longer lives with us. When we're in a restaurant, you'll say, "We need to get a highchair for Zoey" or when we're in the car, you'll ask, "Can we pick up Zoey and go to the park?"
  • Came out of your room last week wearing your orange Home Depot apron, your safety goggles, and your fire helmet, and you said, "I have to go to work, Mommy!" I asked, "Where do you work?" and you replied, "Grass Valley." 
  • Carry your chainsaw up on your shoulder--just like the loggers do. (Last week, there was a crew of 10 loggers working up the street from us and you were fascinated by their chainsaws and ropes and chaps and helmets.)
  • Love animals. We were driving in the car one morning, on a windy country road, just you and me. The temperature outside was about 30 degrees.  I saw two horses in a pasture off to the right and I said, "Gosh, those horses must be cold." Your reply? "They need a sweatshirt, Mommy."
  • Placed my iPhone, Pandora music playing from the speaker, under Lucy's head so she could listen to some instrumental music. You turned to me and said, "It makes her happy, Mama." Oh, be still my heart, sweet boy.  
You, dear Noah, make me happy. 

I can't wait to watch you grow and learn and play this coming year.



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