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July 2007

no she di'n't!!

why yes, she did, actually:

Stbdblackberries

she ate fruit. happily and willingly. off a bush at henry's ymca camp family cook-out.

i guess it's all about the presentation.

even crazier, she ate fresh blueberries the next night after dinner ... as long as we called them "special berries ... like at henry's camp!"

not to be confused with "special brownies" ... no hallucinogens were involved in getting harper to eat fruit for the first time in two years. unless there was something "special" on the black raspberry bushes that we didn't know about. but still ... so totally worth it!! ha ha


i may step on toes.

it's been awhile, but i really haven't gotten riled up about something in awhile. at least not something worthwhile ... i had plenty of opinions about the anna nicole and paris hilton travesties of international media attention, but that wasn't worth my time at a keyboard.

this, however, makes me mad.

there is this couple in minneapolis. they are 24. they are married. they tried for one year to get pregnant. they didn't conceive. they started fertility treatment. they got pregnant with six babies. they delivered those babies four and a half months early. they have since lost four of the babies since they were born a couple of weeks ago.

this bothers me on so many levels.

first of all, what was their rush, as 24 years old, to have kids? secondly, why would they seek fertility treatment after only one year of trying? thirdly, why wouldn't her obgyn prescribe something like clomid instead of jumping immediately to the hard core stuff? fourth, what doctor in their right mind would allow 24 years olds to seek fertility treatments after only one year of trying? fifth, why would that doctor allow six embryos to be implanted?

i'm sure there are more things about this that bother me, but i'll stop at that. these kids are saying that they are christians, that they prayed for a baby, that they prayed for a miracle for their six premature children. if they are so devout and faithful, why the heck couldn't they keep trying for, oh, another year or two before jumping in the the bound-to-get-pg-with-multiples boat? because of their impatience and "praying," there are four dead children and two more who will either not make it or who have high potential for health and developmental problems. is prayer gonna help those kids?

what is it with our medical culture? why is there no common sense? why isn't there a series of checks & balances for helping families conceive? and don't even get me started on all the sperm banks and egg donors ... at some point we're going to have to make dna tests a requirement so people don't inadvertantly marry their half-sibling. and why do we need to have children with uncertain genetic lineage where there are so many suffering and abandoned children in the world who need a loving home?

it's like urban sprawl with babies.

ugh.

okay. i'll be done now. it just all makes me very sad.


summer is here for real

school is out. the weather is hot and muggy. we have a mini vacation under our belts. and henry's off at camp this week, destined to come home hot and sweaty and tired and cranky and elated every day for the next five days.

ahh ... summer.

school ended very well for henry. he's currently reading at a 4th/5th grade level (the lemony snicket series is on his nightstand and he's flying through them), and last night killed time before his shower by "working on his summer homework and reviewing what he did in first grade." his idea, his words. what a geek.

last week marc went fishing in the boundary waters with the roush men (both by blood and marriage) and took out his camera only once. sigh. oh well. he almost drowned twice and blew up once, and caught lots and lots of fish, so all in all it was a pretty typical fishing trip with my dad and his brother.

the trip to the north shore with my mom, sister, and the kids was great. the day we arrived was crazy foggy and windy and cold. poor mom was shivering, but i thought it was perfect ... then again, i'm a sucker for cold, drizzly, windy days. the next day was gorgeous but really, really windy. we drove to grand marais for the morning and while on the beach, poor harp about blew away! luckily she was laughing the whole time. wednesday we hit lutsen mountain and watched the horses prep for a trail ride, hiked around the cascade river waterfall, and pulled over on the way home so mom and bec could see split rock lighthouse (will have to tour that on the next trip with them).

it was a perfect three days. beachcombing with the kiddos by day, yahtzee and gin & tonic by night. pretty great.

Adirondacks Img_1084
Img_1236 Img_1009 Img_1139 Img_1112

and now summer is in full tilt. henry's camp week will be great for him, we'll start hitting the pool daily, and with any luck the bathroom remodels will start soon.

as long as we can keep the temps under 90 most days, i'll be just fine with three months of this!


passing the torch

my year as a master is almost up (totally unbelievable how quickly the past year has flown!!) and now talk on message boards has turned to "who's entering?" and "what do you think editors are looking for?" which reminded me that i wrote an article for designerzine last year about this exact topic.

so in the spirit of benevolence, i'm sharing the article here to help out anyone who might want to be a fly on the wall of a scrap office as the editors sift through entries to pick their faves. happy reading.

"And the Winner Is …": Getting a Leg Up on Major Contests
By Michele Skinner
Assistant Editor at Designerzine

Every year, when the major scrapbook publications announce their big design team-selection contest, excitement builds just as fast as rumors and questions among scrap community members. People start to hope and dream and plan, they start to ask for advice from those who have been there/done that, and they start to speculate about just who will get the call.But what they all wonder is, “What makes an entry stand out?” followed quickly by, “Do I even stand a chance?” When I was approached about writing an article on the subject of major contests and how they are run, I had an added incentive: I had recently been named a Memory Makers Master for 2007 and I was just as dumbfounded about how I got selected as other scrappers are when they ask if their entry will be taken seriously. If it was answers Designerzine wanted, then you can bet they were the same answers I wanted as well! So I turned to my contact at Memory Makers, Craft Editor Erin Edelmann, and peppered her with the burning questions every scrapper wants to know about magazine contests. And Erin was more than happy to share.

She began with the basics. The announcement for the Masters contest was made in the June 2006 issue of Memory Makers, which means the criteria was in place and ready to publish back in February. Once the June issue hit the stands, readers had until July 31st to send in an entry … roughly two months’ notice from time the contest was announced until the deadline drop date. Once the deadline was past, judging the more than 600 entries took place up until the final selections were made, and calls went out to winners during the first week of September.
This is stuff all scrappers know, especially those well-versed and well-experienced in entering contests. So I wanted some meatier answers, such as how the criteria for the contest are decided and how the selection process works.

Erin said that much of the criteria are the same year after year - craftsmanship, variety, versatility, photography and journaling are always going to be paramount when it comes to who moves on in the selection process. But she admits that trends – both in the industry and in the magazine – do factor in.

“Trends do change from year to year – more like month to month – and we have to make sure that the look (of our magazine) keeps up with that,” she said. “I think the direction of the magazine is another big factor. Since new ownership, we are making a conscious effort to appeal to every level in our industry, which means we look for talented people who can show a variety of techniques and looks.”New ownership? I’m glad she mentioned that. This is the first Masters contest run by Memory Makers since changing hands to F&W Publications last year. I wondered how that affected the contest and whether the new editorial team had different expectations for their selected designers than in previous years, and whether those expectations helped determine who got a call.“I'm not sure in what ways we've changed the process,” Erin admitted, “I know that in the judging we created new criteria lists by which everyone on our team had to judge each individual page. We also created new contracts. I definitely have expectations for our Masters,” she added. “I'm sure my expectations are a little different from the previous editorial team, but I'm sure they're similar in a lot of ways. I expect the Masters to be spokes-models for the magazine and take pride in what they create. I hope that they would inspire our readers to take chances and try new things. I also expect them to help us build a community within our industry where everyone is welcome and feels at home.”

Like any other team selected by any other magazine on any given year, the selected designers become ambassadors for the publication, both creatively and publicly. If the duties of Masters and other magazines’ teams are so similar, then the criteria on which they are selected are probably similar, too, right? The process starts with narrowing down the entries until the top 25 are on the table. Once the 25 strongest entries are determined, everyone on the magazine team and the Memory Makers books team gets a judging sheet. Over the next week, they judge each individual entry on multiple topics. They check, for example, to see which designers have variety in their style and in their photographs; it's important that a designer doesn’t create layouts using the same child over and over, or that they consistently use the same page or size formats. Once the magazine teams have filled out their judging sheets, the scores are tallied by a point system to see which ten designers come out on top.The process sounds logical, and designers can’t argue the selection criteria. As readers of publications, the layouts that catch our eye are composed of the same strengths – design, photography, innovation, creative topic ideas. But it stands to reason, then, that designers would create layouts with those principles in mind. Then how does a designer make a truly stand-out entry? One that speaks to the selection team and screams, “I’m the one you want!”

Erin revealed that the entry forms and how they are attached aren’t a big concern, as they can be easily corrected if need be. The most important thing is the entry itself, and whether the designer has variety.

“(Variety) shows that you can be utilized in many areas and in different columns,” she said. “To be unique and creative is also important. People are always looking for inspiration for color, photography, embellishments and even topics of what to scrapbook. Journaling plays a big part, too. We are all telling our stories, so make sure yours is loud enough for everyone to hear.”

Now we know what the entries need and how they are judged, but the most pessimistic designer on the boards will still say that the contests are rigged anyway, so it matters not a whit what your submission looks like. The magazines already know who they want on their team.

Erin was completely sympathetic to the idea, but emphatically denies that it is a factor. “I can see where these ideas come from,” she said. “It's like entering a raffle and then picking your own name … people will always suspect cheating. I can reassure you that does not happen here.

"To be honest with you," Erin continued, “I have never been one with names; I can barely remember my own! Even if some of the other judges did know [who entrants are], that wouldn't help here. A non-judging employee is asked to remove any names from the entries. They are instead assigned a number. When we have the winners, we use the number to find out the designer’s identity.”

That designer is then called, his or her year begins, full of opportunities and excitement. Then what? Nearly every designer who enters a contest with the hopes of winning must have some end-game in mind, some reason for entry. And many designers who have been on teams in the past will tell you that the experience can be a great springboard into other work, if that’s what you desire. Many designers feel being selected in a major contest for a publication is the gateway to fame and solid work within the industry. So I just had to ask
Erin if she sees past and current contest winners as more "usable" on a monthly basis, and I wanted to know what speaks the loudest to her about someone's ability to make it in the craft field beyond their experience as a contest winner.

"That's a tough call because it goes both ways. I always judge pages or projects by talent, not by who made it," she said. "On the other hand, I am prone to ask a past or current Master for artwork because I know that I can trust that they will always impress me. I say that because (editors) become familiar with their work. I am always looking for new talent though,” she continued. “Believe it or not, we do actually go through reader submissions and our online gallery for talent. There are so many good publications out there and I do think it's important to submit to as many as you can. It never hurts to get your name out there so people start recognizing it.”

Erin concluded with the philosophy that we all have different views on what "making it" is in this industry. For some designers it means being published or writing a book, while others want to teach classes on a national circuit, and then there’s another group whose goal is to create and design their own line of papers and embellishments.“What speaks the loudest to me about their ability to make it is simply their hope,” she said. “Those who never lose their hope through all the trials, rejections and hard work truly inspire me.”


guess that's why my morning was so lovely.

i got up at 5:30 this morning to see marc off on his fishing trip ... double check that he had everything he needed, give one last kiss and butt-smack before sending him on his merry way. went back to bed, stole his pillow, and crashed hard for another two hours.

when harper woke up i got her changed then headed to the kitchen to make coffee and breakfast. at the same time, i called marc to see if he'd reached duluth and met up with the menfolk yet. while we were talking i was doing the domestic thing and getting my coffee ready, harper's cereal ready, henry's cereal, etc. took a sip of the coffee and thought, "man! i put a lot of hazelnut syrup in there!"

got off the phone, fed the kids, kept drinking my coffee, even though it was really strong. just thought maybe i didn't put in enough milk.

this afternoon, i'm cleaning up the kitchen, putting away the dishes, loading the dishwasher. i go to the coffeepot to clean up that area and spot a bottle of brandy on the counter.

brandy. not hazelnut syrup. hard liquor.

no wonder my mood was quite cheery this morning despite being left alone with the kids again. could also explain the $250 i dropped, with a smile on my face, at gymboree and eddie bauer ...


three more days ...

marc's taking tomorrow as comp for his two weekend travel days last week.

saturday he leaves first thing in the morning to meet my dad, uncle, and brother-in-law up north for a week of fishing in the boundary waters. i gave him a water-resistant olympus point&shoot for early father's day so i can hopefully get some scrap-worthy pix out of him for a change.

sunday my mom and sister arrive so we can have a mini vacation (with kids) for the week while our menfolk fish and grow facial hair and don't bathe.

monday we leave first thing in the morning for our own trip up north. i'm taking them to lutsen where marc and i went on our anniversary. looking forward to lake breezes, walking on the beach with the kids, maybe reading more than two pages at a time of a book ... i'm reading a great one right now but would love to make it past page 42 at some point.

in other news, my dad was in an accident and totaled his car this morning. which sucks. he's okay, and thankfully my brother-in-law's blazer has a hitch for the boat trailer. granted, he says that even if he'd broken his legs, he'd still go fishing. he'd just let marc carry him to and from the boat. ha ha.

i'll leave you with visions of cuteness:

Harptongue_2

Henrytongue

Dorks


i had one of "those" days today.

the kind where, after a week alone with the kids and coming down with a sinus infection at the tail-end of it and marc arriving home four hours later than planned and then leaving the house at 7 a.m. this morning and i still feel like crap, i lost it. harper wanted waffles for breakfast, then henry wanted waffles and eggs, so i made both and harper, of course, didn't eat either. then henry wanted more eggs. and the minute "i'm not making you more eggs!" left my mouth i literally couldn't put another foot in front of the other. all forward motion ceased and i fell to the floor in the middle of the kitchen and sobbed for about 10 minutes. thus managing to make my children, for the first time in an hour and a half, actually get quiet and kind to each other and leave me alone.

i later found out, after finally pulling myself together, hugging henry and apologizing to him and getting him some mandarin oranges, that he went down and told marc that i was crying and wouldn't make him any more breakfast. marc said, "i'll be right up to get you something." then about ten minutes passed before he finally came up.

apparently replying to email trumps mommy having a nervous breakdown in front of the kids.

good to know.

so the morning sucked. then the day got a little better. i finished an article for the november/december issue of memory makers, tried to do a third project for it but had no luck and walked away, snuggled on the couch with harper, who seems to have gotten my head cold and wanted to just veg, and let the rest of the day go.

made a pork roast and mixed veggies and blueberry muffins for dinner. gave harp a bath and put her to bed. now i'm not sure if i should try to do the final project or just call it a day and curl up on the couch with a book.

although now i hear the boys home from the grocery and stomping around (because being "ninja quiet" while harper sleeps isn't a concept either of them has adopted in the past two years and now she's awake again. groan.) so there goes my evening plan, i bet. oh well.

i guess i could just go to bed. and hope it's a long while before i have another complete disintigration.

here's to hoping.


i hate that feeling.

that lump-in-your-throat, elephant-on-your-chest feeling that you've maybe done something wrong or pissed someone off and you have you have no idea what or why. that feeling you get when you pass a policeman on the side of the road and you immediately feel guilty and wonder what you're doing wrong, even though you're doing everything right.

that feeling.

i have it right now, and i'm irritated because it was so not my problem.

pulling out of henry's school parking lot, i hear a man say, "we all have to wait in line, lady." i was racking my brain, trying to figure out why he would say this to me. then i figured it out: when i pulled into the lot, i drove slowly toward the main entrance, passing cars that were parked along the sidewalk, and parked near the door.

was he mad at me for seeing an open spot and taking it? was he mad that he didn't think of it first? i have no idea. all i know is that i've been dropping off and picking up henry from school every single day for the past year and there's never been a problem. i've never been told to wait at the back of the line. i've never been told that i have to pull in at the end of the line, regardless of whether there are openings or people in front of me pull ahead to fill in gaps.

what i DO know is that they don't release the kids unless they can see your car. and how do they see your car if you park way at the end of the line? people move up to fill in where cars have pulled out all the time. it's what you do. and if this jackhole doesn't like the fact that i drove in and happened to find a spot near the front, that's his problem. be a little more proactive, buddy. parking and picking up is a dynamic activity ... you don't just pull in and then sit there hoping an aide peeks her head out around the building to look for your car. especially if you are a random picker-upper instead of a daily one.

good grief. if i didn't have my kids with me i would have stopped and backed up and found out just what his problem was. i hate feeling like i've done something wrong, but if i know i'm in the right i will absolutely stand up for myself. granted, i about got my ass kicked at the mall play park a few years ago because of it, but i stood up for what was right and safe, and was proud of it.

and i'd have done it again today. i seriously considered going back for about three blocks, then got over it. i hope he did ... there are three days left in the school year and i don't want to end the year in a battle of parking lot rivalry. good golly. i'd like to think i've matured beyond that.

though a good fight is kinda fun now and then ...