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April 2009
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June 2009

our first house ...

i just got an email from our realtor that our first house is back on the market.

oh, the emotions!!

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marc and i bought the house in july of '98. (holy crap look how young we were!!) we (i) were (was) so in love with that little bungalow!

in the six years we lived there, we painted every room, replaced the deck when marc put his leg through the boards (unexpectedly) of the old one, ripped out lots of "landscaping," repaired lots of little things, put out lots of little fires in place of saving for the bigger projects we *wanted* to do. we had cats, we had a kid, we had a miscarriage, we got pregnant again and knew we needed more space.

(what the house looked like before we signed the purchase agreement:

Entry Fireplace Bathroom Kitchen

... brown shag carpet that smelled like dog pee in the eat-in kitchen, nasty brown dog-smelling shag in the upstairs, candle smoke stains on all the walls upstairs, an non-functioning dishwasher in the kitchen used as tupperware/plastic bag storage - which the previous owners left for us, a refrigerator that smelled like death - and replaced two days after moving in ...)

in the last three months of our time in this house, we finally recarpeted the upstairs, finally painted the upstairs, painted the exterior, replaced the front steps, etc. when we left, it was finally the house we'd wanted for six years. granted, the downstairs was painted and made lovely early on; it was just the upstairs that went neglected for so long.

we moved out and moved on and didn't look back, but i will always have a soft spot in my heart for this little craftsman. i loved the house, i loved our neighbors, i loved that we could walk three blocks to take henry for bike rides along the minnehaha, or walk four blocks and get a cone at the pumphouse creamery. it was wonderful while it lasted.

(and, to be fair, i'm leaving out a lot of the things that bugged us over the years, like being on a busy street and hearing constant noise from city buses, ambulances, etc., or having to smell our neighbors' cigarettes spring, summer and fall when the windows were open, etc.)

i was so fond of this house that i even made a project documenting our time in it for my book:


so today, when i got the email from rita with the listing, all those memories flooded back:

our first christmas in the house when we had no money, and the only furniture in the living room was a ratty old recliner that marc had gotten free in college and a cedar chest he'd inherited from his grandma, and we didn't even get a tree, but we put a quilt on the floor, bought a $4 bundle of wood for the fireplace, and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows for christmas eve dinner.

henry's teeny-tiny bedroom that was carpeted almost perfectly wall-to-wall by an 8x10 rag rug.

the way henry's closet wall froze in the winter ... we never did figure out where that frost came from.

scraping all eight layers of wallpaper and paint off the plaster walls in the living room, dining room and entry using a 1.5" putty knife; it took foreEVER, but was so worth it in the end.

the way the built-ins and windows looked in the winter with christmas decorations.

how steep and narrow the stairs were leading to the half-story, and how many times each of us fell down them.

... and so many others.

i'll keep watching for an open house listing, because i would love to wander through those rooms again and let the memories guide me.

in honor of memorial day ...

i admit that i have a very soft spot for our military. true, that a liberal like me probably wouldn't normally say that, but there is a long tradition of serving our country in my family. all three of my grandfathers fought in world war II, my dad and uncles served during vietnam, my cousin was a marine, my sister and her husband are both air national guard, and the list goes on.

i get the pride. i get the honor. i get the sacrifice. i may not always agree, but i could never be anything less than proud and humbled by what my loved ones and all others who serve are willing to do in the name of loyalty, duty, country.

the thought of what our troops do, though, didn't occur to me too much until i met marc. he is a huge military buff and wanted to enlist after high school and go to sniper school. while i do admit that would have suited his personality quite well, i'm happy that he didn't. we never would have met and our lives would have been radically different. and for his sense of peace, i'm glad taking out enemies isn't something he has to deal with spiritually.

Whatifs i reflected on marc's military dream for my book, and the process of making the page about made me cry. it really hit me that our lives intersected by such a thin margin, in many ways. but it also made me think that i am so proud of my husband, who was so willing to join that group of men and women who dedicate their lives to something bigger than themselves.

so while memorial day might be a holiday all about the cabin, the boat, the beach, the bbq ... it is also about something so much more important. take a moment to send a thanks and prayer to all those who have served, who are serving, and who will serve in the future. they carry a load the rest of us can't imagine bearing and deserve our support and respect.

(by the way ... just in time for a three day weekend, the book is now available at michael's!! just, you know, in case you're bored ... ;o) )

(page supplies: collage press, american crafts, making memories)

great. he's becoming *that* guy.

(said with nothing but love. but still.)

last summer, marc bought the man car. and it was okay. really. i didn't mind. he needs a toy, a hobby, and he's very good at being practical when all around him are guys buying toys big and bigger. marc just sits back and waits for the right toy, and this car is it. we counted the other night - between the two of us, we have owned a grand total of seven cars in the 20 years we've been driving, and the first three (my first, his first, our first after college) were total crap. and we both rode the bus to work until we moved to the 'burbs in '04. so to say he's earned a cool car is fair.

but this ... this "man car" culture is something new. and, i must admit, a bit of a shock to me. i know the guy loves to do his research, i know he loves to delve completely into something once he's into it, but seriously.

he dragged us to a car show.

and not just *any* car show, a dodge car show. and not just *any* dodge car show, but specifically chargers, challengers, and magnums. all tweaked and pimped out and ready to show off.

good lord.

so we got up and got ready to leave, and i noticed marc was putting on his "man car" attire: he was dressed in badass black to match his ride, with his think geek "linuxunil" t-shirt underneath just in case anyone wanted to know what his license plate means. shades on, head freshly shaven. and we were ready to go.


the car show was being held at st paul automotive, which is run by scott, who has actually been a consultant on car modification shows. or something like that. marc got to know the guy when he started looking into mods he wanted to put on the man car, so he was eager to go hang out at the shop with other gearheads.

and i went because it was either that or i was left home alone, yet again but this time on a saturday, with the ankle biters. um, no. plus, i knew the photo ops could be cool, and that marc would want shots in the digi frame (he made out of an old laptop and an ikea frame, but i digress) in his office.

it was, actually, pretty funny to see how seriously these guys take the mod thing. i mean, marc forced me to watch the first watched all three "fast & furious" movies a few weeks ago, so i knew it was out there, but to witness it first-hand is totally different. the pride and money that goes into these cars is unreal.

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the "bee" car was actually pretty amazing. the entire thing was decked out in the bee theme, from embroidered shoulder belt things, to a little model bee car in the back window, and bees everywhere. crazy. i needed a picture of myself with this bad boy.

Reflection see? me. with the bee car.

sigh. i know, it's sad.

then marc saw a vintage '69 charger and asked me to get a photo of it for his dad. he said his dad had the exact car after college.

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(turns out he actually had a '70 green one, but whatever. same thing.)

we even managed to find one that got harper excited:

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IMG_3469 then i saw this one, which i found appropriately sweet, given our former reluctant-hoosier status.

we wandered around for a couple of hours ... amazing, given that this was not a big place. marc had a great time talking to other owners and admiring their handiwork ...

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IMG_3483 and enjoying the noise that is a full-on diagnostic engine revving.

and me? well, i wandered. and shot the kids as they tried to content themselves in their surroundings. and found fun stuff in the surrounding block to photograph.

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(see that? skinner's cafe? cool.)

we then headed home, just before harp had a major meltdown of doneness. lucky we did, too, because a few minutes into the ride, i noticed this ...


now THAT'S a sign that someone had a good time at the car show.

the sign marc did? he immediately came home and started researching the next mod.

see? he's *that* guy. good thing he's hot.

what did you say, ethel?

we were sitting at dinner, contemplating dessert, and marc mentioned there was a little vanilla ice cream and a little peanut butter ice cream, which henry had laid claim to. when harper said she wanted that kind, too, marc told the kids there was enough to share.

henry whined, "i don't want to share!"

harper piped up, "henry doesn't want to wash his hair?"

good grief. that was funny.

not funny and highly inspiring on so many levels is this:

lisa hannigan. love her. if i could be reincarnated as someone, it would be her.

may/june memory makers

i'm sure by now, most of you (who are into this sort of thing) have heard that memory makers will cease publication with the september/october issue. to say i'm heartbroken is an understatement.

memory makers was the first publication to pick up one of my layouts, about, oh, six years ago. three years ago they invited me to be one of ten masters. two years ago they asked me to write a book. last year they asked me to be a contributing editor. and now, they are no more. and i'm sad.

the people who work on and for that magazine are just amazing. they put their heart and soul into it, and have created some really great issues and books over the years. the web site will continue to exist, so show your love and support and pop over there to keep the forums alive and send a little note of love to those who have made the magazine such a treat over the years.

let's all take a moment to honor what is, what was, and what will no longer be.


and with that, here's may/june:


this issue's "tell your story" article deals with the fact that life isn't always neat and pretty and happy. sometimes there are things in it that are anything but. many scrappers, however, gloss over the bad stuff in order to portray how great life is, how beautiful and sweet their children are, how much they love their spouse every single ding dong day. but truth is, that's not always the case. sometimes your life seems out of whack. sometimes your kids push you to the brink. sometimes you want to drop-kick your spouse into next week.

my challenge to readers in this issue is to journal about the not-so-perfect, the times when you throw your hands up and say, "it is what it is."

products used: basic grey patterned paper and letter stickers; crate paper die cut paper; 7gypsies quote bubble stamp; creative imaginations letter stamps.

(i should really post a part 2, shouldn't i? okay ... here are my pix/updates)

the final week of april through MY camera, this time. and this will be somewhat brief, as it was two weeks ago and i'm over it. not to mention i'm seriously sad about the news from memory makers right now. my heart goes out to all my friends there, and all the ones whom i've made in the past three years because of that magazine.

okay ... on april 22nd, i shot chicks. i told you the story. alrighty then.


since you've seen the chicks, i'll give you two for this day.


my beautiful boy, doing what he does best: reading. i love that he reads, that he's a reader, that one of our favorite things to do together is spend an hour browsing at barnes & noble. and he loves humor and fantasy genres, which i think is great. he'll actually read anything you put in front of him, but he definitely leans toward fantasy. the kid ploughed through harry potter at warp speed. awesome.


also on that day, we had a play date with harp's friend, emma. we went to crystal lake and let the girls run around on the beach and dip their toes into the (frigid) water. the best part was that while standing on the beach in our shorts and bare feet, we could see buck hill's ski hills in the distance, still covered with snow. love minnesota.

24th - 26th:

i spent the weekend in chicago with four of my dearest friends from high school. i haven't laughed so hard in so, so long.

first day, we walked across the street from our hotel and grabbed lunch at harry carey's. holy cow!


that afternoon, while wandering through shops on michigan ave., we popped into tiffany's. while browsing, our friend emily said, "hey ... that's joan cusack!!" since we all adore joan cusack, we tried to keep respectful distance. that lasted about 12 seconds. then candi leaned over toward her and whispered, "we LOVED you in 16 candles! we're high school friends in chicago for the weekend and we were JUST talking about how much we loved that movie, and you were the best!" joan (i can call her that now because we're tight. we chatted.) smiled graciously and said thank you, and said how fun it was that we had all met up for the weekend. and i thanked her for "peep" (have you seen peep? a children's show that joan narrates about three birds who discover the science in the world around them? no? WATCH! it's wonderful.) and she giggled, "peep? no one ever thanks me for peep!" then she spied the camera around my neck and said, "wait ... you're paparazzi, aren't you?" ahh!! joan cusack made a joke about me!! my life is now happy, happy. and had we bumped into her at, say, filene's basement, i totally would have asked for a photo with her. but given that we were in tiffany and they "discourage" photography, i didn't ask. the only bad spot of the weekend.


the next night we had dinner at gino's east. love the walls and all the history that's recorded there.

much more fun and laughter ensued, but i'll leave the rundown with a pic of us on the final day, as we all left for our various routes back to minnesota/michigan/ohio/indiana.




someone taught henry to make armpit farts. great.



mario got a haircut. bobblekitty returns.


harper's obsession with tattoos continues.




yet another play date with emma. this time they put on a parade for me. that was ... loud. and totally cute.

and there you have it. thanks for keep up with becca and me as we documented our month. there is an album to the left if you missed any. and if you want to create the polaroid look on your own pix, this is the action i used: polaroid generator.

april-ending round-up part one: the one with the guest blogger

today's blog entry will be brought to you by my sister, becca. you've seen her pix over the past month, now you get to hear a little bit about the final week straight from the source! so, here we go.

(to get you up to speed, two weekends ago, becca ran off to tennessee to watch her husband become a second lieutenant in the air national guard. and our story will begin there ...)


After a long car ride on Wednesday and crashing at the hotel at about 11pm, I finally got to see Matt for the first time at the base Thursday morning.  I of course took my camera and thought that I would take a whole bunch of photos, but I didn't.  I did, however, get this photo of Matt with two of his squadron members.  One is from Puerto Rico and one from Seattle.  One of the great things about military training/deployments is that you can create awesome friendships with people all over the country, and many times, all over the world.  I guess it's for the same reason that I get along better with men, but for some reason Matt always makes better friendships with women...could drive a wife crazy!  Basically Thursday was an open house for friends and family and then a formal banquet in the evening.  We had a great time.


Friday was an awesome day.  It consisted of the new lieutenants taking the state and federal oaths and then the parade (not the kind with floats and candy being thrown) (editor's note: matt's holding the flag. okay, back to the story ...).  As everyone is already aware (I think) Matt and I are part of the Air National Guard.  The Guard has a state and federal mission, which means that in a national emergency, we can be ordered to active duty by the President of the United States. We can also accept orders from the Governor to assist local authorities in the event of a disaster, disturbance or other emergency. So that is why they have to take two oaths. Because I was commissioned last year I was able to swear Matt in for his state oath, which was such an honor.


I was so proud of him!  Anyway, the ceremony for the federal oath was awesome too, and watching Matt's instructor hand him his gold lieutenant bars was priceless.  His Wing (all of the new lieutenants) nailed the parade.  Everything looked perfect.



When all of the fanfare was finished on Friday we headed down to Gatlinburg to enjoy time together, sleep and relax! It was great.  Gatlinburg is where we went for our honeymoon, we have a soft spot for the mountains and it is only 45 minutes away from where Matt was training, so it was perfect.  Downtown is filled with all kinds of junk shops and tourist traps, but it's what's beyond the main drag that Matt and I love.



We decided to go for an adventure and take a quick hike to a waterfall on Sunday, but to get to the trail we had to drive for ever on a one lane one way road.  On the way to the trail we came upon a few cars that had stopped in the middle of the road.  Matt and I were of course irritated that people would get out of their cars to take photos and not pull over so people could get by, but since we couldn't go anywhere we got out to see what they were looking at.  Three bears!!!  It was so amazing.  They were beautiful.  From what I could tell it was a mama and two cubs.  She was just walking around eating here and there, being very calm, and the cubs were of course exploring and playing around, just like kids would.  Thank goodness I had my camera with me!  At first we were pretty far away, but when they started up the hill that was close to our vehicle, we ventured around that way and I was able to get a pretty close up shot!



Our vacation ended on Monday, and we drove back into reality.  Michele, I thought of you almost the entire way because there were Shoney's signs everywhere!  The story behind that is...about 17 years ago we took a family vacation to Disney World and apparently I fell in love with the buffet at Shoney's.  Every time we saw a billboard I would yell, "SHONEY'S!"  I'm surprised I survived the trip home...thanks for sparing my life Michele! (editor's note: it wasn't so much the *yelling* of "shoney's" that made becca so irritating, it was that mom and dad would make sure we STOPPED at a shoney's for EVERY MEAL because becca liked it. it got a bit ... old. granted, becca was seven, and i was 17 and being dragged to disney for a week with my little sister when i was supposed to be in myrtle beach with my two best friends. *anything* was irritating that week! ;o) )



Then on Tuesday it was back to the grind.  It was so hard to be at work while Matt was home, but it was probably good for us, as it is always an adjustment when one of us comes back from



Needless to say, when I did get home from work, Matt and I just wanted to be together.  I think Bruiser felt left out.



And finally...I'm happy to say that it is officially spring time in Indiana. Our trees have sprouted leaves and it does my heart good.  Matt planted three trees in our yard last year when I was away for training and we are so excited that they are still alive and thriving!

So, sorry I'm long winded, but it has been an eventful week!  Hope you have
enjoyed the photos.

thanks, bec, for being strong-armed playing along this month!! we'll do it again soon!! and yes, i'm a day off on the photo numbers. whoops. sorry. bygones. oh - and everyone send a little congrats to becca and matt for completing the indianapolis mini marathon over the week in two hours, 30 minutes!! that's awesome, guys!! we're so proud of you!