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August 2009
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October 2009

autumn moodiness. delicious.

i love autumn. love. lovelovelove. it's perfection.

the best part of it? one day is sunny, warm, still hanging onto summer. then next, the winds blow in, the temps drop 20 degrees, the moody clouds roll in, and suddenly it's fall.


that's just what happened this weekend. saturday, it was sunny and warm. we got some projects done around the house, the kids played. even sunday morning was still nice, but then clouds rolled in ... then some sprinkles ... then the wind.

oh, the wind! we lost branches. our neighbor lost half of a decorative tree, the curtains were flying, the leaves were swirling. it was breezy.

around 4 p.m. we decided to drive about a half and hour west to see another parade home and then grab dinner at a little place on a lake, lola's lakehouse, about which we'd heard good things.



it was really windy while going through the parade home (which we didn't love), but it was still mostly sunny and clear. we got to the restaurant, which truly was charming ... the front had what looked like a small lighthouse with a cute little sign, and i made note of wanting to get a picture of it after dinner.

well ...

let's just say the weather changed during dinner.

as we sat at the table, we watched the swells and white caps on the water, and the sailboats were bobbing like crazy. when we finished, the kids wanted to go out on the deck to see the boats. the second we opened the door, a gust of wind about pushed harper over. they were troopers and wandered around, looking at the water and giggling, but harper was freezing and soon went back in with daddy.




marc paid the bill, and henry and i wandered down to the dock to get a closer look. however, when we looked west, we saw this:



and before we got even halfway down the dock, the rain was driving at us ... horizontally. so, we aborted that plan and ran back to the car, where daddy and harper were warm and dry. but henry and i were laughing, so who was smarter?

today is still gray and windy and wonderful. hooray, fall!

speaking of hooray, have you seen this? it's simply amazing that these kids did this in ONE take! it's also just a happy, happy song.


i still get scrappy. occasionally. sometimes.

so, back in july (yes, july. leave me alone.) i got a newsletter from a scrappy site that they were holding a contest. there would be 10 finalists selected from all entries, and those 10 would get one of the new lines from my mind's eye to play with, and then a winner would be selected from those 10 entries.

on a (very last minute) whim i decided to enter. because i love both my mind's eye and rejection. i sent in three layouts that i had semi-recently made ... i believe the three were these (sharing, because i haven't in a long time):




a few days later, i got an email stating i was a finalist! woohoo!! that, in itself, made me feel good. i haven't been feelin' the scrappy love lately ... mojo gone, printer not cooperating, too much stress from other life stuff, etc. anyway ... i was asked to then select a new line from my mind's eye to work with, and i picked "the spider's web" ... a gorgeous, neutral halloween line. i knew immediately upon looking at it that it would be wonderful for a project of some sort.

and after pushing paper around for a week or so, this is what i came up with:


Snsproject2 Snsproject3

i found a shadow box frame at michael's that had two layers of glass floating between spacers. i cut out the tree from a piece of paper and adhered it to the outside glass using foam tape, to give it dimension. the middle layer has hand-cut hill shapes that have been inked. the first layer is adhered directly to the glass, and the second layer is mounted on top of the first with more foam tape. (love foam tape. 3m, if you are reading this, i will happily take all the foam tape you don't want anymore.) the innermost glass has a square of paper adhered directly to it, and is topped with a moon die cut. to accent the scene, i cut birds out of another piece of paper and stuck them on different layers, and added some free-handed clouds.

the banner was pretty easy, too. free-hand triangles (i'm rarely precise about anything), silver eyelets, twine, and the letters were stamped with ranger mica ink, outlined with doodlebug glitter, and adhered to the banner with ... drum roll ... foam tape. i used glue lines to attached the twine to the frame, then covered the ends of it with black cardstock so it would disappear.

and there you have it: the prize-winning my mind's eye project from stop & scrap's contest. yep ... i won! love winning ... makes me feel like i wasn't just a memory makers fluke. ;o)

on an unrelated note:

35786_Z31 do i buy this hanna anderrson piece of cuteness for harper for school pictures? or is it an unnecessary expenditure in these financial times? she has some orange polka-dot leggings from gymboree that are screaming out to be worn with this dress ...



eta: i met my friend lisa at mall of america tonight for dinner, and after she left to attend some pre-scrapfest meeting with cosmo cricket, i wandered toward hanna anderrson. and got sidetracked by janie and jack. and because of that ... well, and because of the cuteness that lies therein at janie and jack ... harper will be wearing this little number for her school picture:

Janiejack both pieces, i might add, came in under the dollar mark of the hanna dress. so, score.


parade of homing, as marc calls it.

yesterday we dragged the kids through four parade of homes houses in three surburbs in three hours. it was ... good. they were troopers for the most part, given that their dad and i were talking to each other, to the builder representatives, etc., and they were left to either sit in some nook/"kid's room"/couch and play gameboys or explore under strictest warnings of "be good and touch nothing."

we specifically targeted two of the houses because they were built by two of the builders we are seriously considering. we've seen a couple of houses from builder A, including one plan that we really liked, and wanted to see what they had to offer in a parade home. we've only seen a model from builder B, but were impressed with the flexibility they seemed to offer, and we particularly love one of their floor plans more than the one we liked at builder A.

if you can follow that, awesome. proceed.

we also visited two others that were in the same general area, to see what other builders have to offer.

we were not impressed. we'll stick to our first two choices.

the builder A house we went through was nice ... HUGE ... way more space than we would want or need. we didn't see any sort of difference, though, between that house and the others we've seen by them, which concern me about how much it would cost to opt into our own design aesthetic and not go with their standard. plus, we had already been through the parade home from builder B earlier in the afternoon and we seriously LOVED that house. like, were it in the 'burb we want to live in, we'd probably just buy it and call it a day.

as we pulled up, my first thought was, "ooh ... cover that thing with gray shakes and you have the hamptons!"


see that front room with the window box? side-entry single-car garage. love that. it's a three-car garage house, which marc wants, but the garage is set back and doesn't take over the whole front of the house, like i want. perfect.

what really got me was walking into the front door. we found ourselves in the most adorable foyer, with a leaded glass window, no less. given how much i loved the charm and history of our first house, this foyer and window sucked me in.


then we walked through the foyer and saw the kitchen ... and that was it. i wanted to live there.




i've told marc that if we get to make our perfect kitchen, i want clean lines, recessed panel cabinets enameled white, subway tile, contemporary lighting. but if i can't have that, i want black or espresso cabinets.

well, hello, espresso cabinets. i love you.

the kitchen looks right into the dining/great room areas which were also lovely.




the only thing i wasn't totally digging were the niche shelves by the fireplace, or the tv niche above the fireplace. a) there will be no tv in my great room, especially right above the fireplace, and b) i really want built-in book shelves flanking the fireplace that stop at the same height as the mantle. i want to bring in a little of that arts & crafts/mission styling our first house had and i loved so much.

through the kitchen was the mudroom. and by "room" i mean it was bigger than henry's first bedroom. crazy.


(doors lead to the garage, straight ahead, and one of the closets. there is an identical corner closet/pantry on the left of the photo, where the other door is.)

a set of stairs is located between the mudroom and the back office/5th bedroom. this bedroom is attached to a 3/4 bath, and i would totally take over the space and use it as a studio.

IMG_7618 IMG_7615

as i was looking at the kitchen again, marc headed up the stairs, and i heard, "michele! you've got to see this!" i started up the stairs and found a bonus room over the garage, set between the first and second floors. here was the perfect space for tv watching/wii playing. at least until the basement was finished, at which point this space would be a perfect kids' computer/homework/hang out nook.

IMG_7628 IMG_7640


we continued up the stairs to find a guest room/scrappy room with another 3/4 bath ...


two kids' rooms adjoined by a jack-and-jill bath (no pix of the rooms ... not sure why ...)


and the master.

sigh. the master.

like the rest of the house, ironically, it's already in the colors we have in our room and bathroom at home, so there was an immediate "oh, i recognize this"ness to it.





just lovely.

we were completely smitten and ready to say that this house is it until we came home and compared this floor plan to the original one from this builder that we liked. and after about an hour of studying and talking, i think we're still sold on the other plan. and, after this, i think we're sold on this builder, as well.

(if anyone cares, i'll post the floor plan later this week. i can use your input as we build our list of pros/cons/what would we change/etc.)

there are two custom builders i want to check out next weekend. one i've met with and they had the perfect answers to all my questions and concerns about working with a developer/builder, but marc raised some questions of his own about going totally custom that are also valid points. my heart is telling me we already know which way we're going to go.

and even though the kids definitely didn't have their best day ever, they were good. and today i'll cut 'em some slack and we'll hang out an enjoy the last day of our weekend. they can wii and lego their brains out, and i'll contemplate what i've seen and learned ... while i wash dishes.


preschool 2.0

yesterday, harper got to have HER first day of school.


one more year of preschool for her; the fours class. this will be the year when she will prepare for kindergarten.


my baby.


with henry, i knew he was so ready to go and so ready for school. with harper, it's different. she's my home girl. she asks every day if we're going to stay home, what we're going to play. last year, drop-off at preschool was painful. heck, drop-off anywhere with harper is painful! she doesn't want to be there, she doesn't want me to leave. on one hand, it's sweet, and i love snuggling her up to tell her it's going to be okay. on the other hand, it's annoying. she NEEDS to go, to make friends, to open up to the world. she isn't as social as henry was, she doesn't like strange people or places, and when there are too many faces and voices she just burrows into me.

a lot of it is just drama. she's a total over-reactor, and typically within two minutes of me leaving she's fine. but those two minutes before i leave are just torturous. we haven't been able to do play dates, i haven't gone to the gym like i should, we haven't been good at attending church, etc. because i KNOW the scene the cause and the stress it will bring. and i have enough stress in my life without causing that, too.

but preschool is different. she HAS to go. she NEEDS to make friends. and i know she's fine once she calms down and looks around.

i told her yesterday that this year will be different; that this year she's in the fours class and that means she's big and doesn't need to throw a fit anymore. we'll see if that works; it didn't when i had to go with the other parents to the meeting room for 20 minutes.


we'll see what tomorrow brings on the first official school day. my fingers are crossed, and i'm hopeful ... but i'm also going to grease up my clothes she she can't get a firm grip.


tales of a fourth grade awesome


here we go: first day of school. first day of fourth grade. first day of him officially being a really big kid.

why is he a big kid this year? truthfully, i have no idea. i just think of fourth grade as being that magical line between little kid and big kid.

granted, henry's seemed like a Big Kid since the day he was born; he never had that needy, squishy, babyness that other babies seemed to have. he's always seemed more mature, more developed, capable of handling things. but fourth grade just really feels like that definitive crossover to being Big.

i was just telling marc over the weekend how much older henry seemed at four than harper does, and marc replied that henry has always seemed older than he really is. and that's true. but now, entering this grade, he really becomes that older kid.

this is an exciting time for him. he has good friends, he has a good brain in his head, and the year is wide open for him. i told him this morning that this year all i expect from him is to work his hardest and give school his best effort. he's always sailed through schoolwork, and his teacher last year was tough; she had high expectations. and henry is so used to things being easy that he stopped trying, and ended up getting grades worse than he expected because projects were sloppy and answers weren't complete. he rushed.

this year, my expectation is that he slows down. he reads all the information. he doesn't procrastinate. he doesn't "skate by." he TRIES.

we'll see.

his teacher seems pretty no-nonsense, but she also seems to have a great love for science, which is right up henry's alley. i hope he respects her and responds to her teaching methods. i want him to really ENJOY this year and WANT to do his best. my fingers are crossed.

good luck, h. hope your first day is awesome.


where we happily turn a deaf ear to all the bawdy things the kids hear just because it's ren fest.

i think i've mentioned before that we love ren fest. we do. it's a given every summer. and this year? it was even better than usual.


1. it was about 65 degrees and breezy.

2. it was about 65 degrees and breezy, and most people in the state took advantage of that and went to the state fair. we are not state fair people; we are renaissance fair people. so this worked out in our favor. ie no crowds whatsoever.


but just because the crowds were down doesn't mean those crazy renaissance people were anything less than spot-on, or that being in that atmosphere felt anything less than blissful, silly, wildly entertaining.

the juggler, whose tricks were foiled time and time again by the wind, but who had a quick one-liner comeback every time. and gleefully wiped a spit-and-dirt-covered ping pong ball on my son's shoulder, causing henry to smile with pride ...


the turtle, who walked from tavern to tavern, carrying his cash on his back and looking adorable, with his squat little flippers and dapper kilt ...


harper's favorite fairy (fig? tig? twig? we haven't yet figured it out.), who gave her a white fairy stone this year, to which harper exclaimed, "now i have TWO colors of fairy rocks!" to which fig/tig/twig replied with a coy little giggle and a song just for harp on the double flute ...


the bungee trampoline, which this year sent both my kids soaring into the heavens. protected, of course, by harnesses and a waiver ...





the little horses, which this year my daughter rode sans assistance, thankyouverymuch ...


(i take it back. she had a little assistance, from the horse-owners' son ...)


(which only served to make her cheekier than normal ...)


(as if to say, "this is a little horse. i've ridden horses before. i'm an expert. you're, what ... gonna walk my horse? dude, please.")


(to which the young lad said, "mooooom ... !!!" and harper replied with blatant mocking.)


(and then it got downright nasty ...)


(until i had to say, "harper! sit still and just ride your horse!")


(and she did.)


(until the horse in front of her stopped the whole carousel to poop, and that got harper going again. that child is going to be trouble. mark my words.)

we saw some great shows, played some fun games, checked out some impressive wares and trades.

saw the king:


watched a joust or three:

IMG_7372 IMG_7374

saw a guy carry six feet of ice on top of a stein on top of his head:


saw my four-year-old throw rock horns at me:


(see what i mean about trouble?!)

... and all sorts of other enjoyable things.

we love ren fest. maybe we'll go again before summer is out. we missed the turkey legs this time around.



sept/oct memory makers. a/k/a the last one. ever.


just typing that makes me sad.

so, the september/october issue of memory makers magazine is on newsstands now. i think. i haven't checked. but it's lovely. filled on every page with art that normal people like you and me put together, touched with their fingers, added a piece of their hearts, and then sent off, at the time not knowing that their art would grace the final pages of this institution of scrappiness.

the cover features an adorable layout by my amazing friend katrina, and features an adorable photo of my amazing friend susan's little guy. over the past three years, i've made so many wonderful friends and precious memories because of this magazine. hopefully those will last much longer than the printed page.

and so, without further lachrymose drivel ...


the topic for this issue: using unrelated photos to tell your story.

we all have so many photos of so many different things, but how many of us feel like we can't share thoughts or memories without using coordinating pictures? how many of us have ten different pages of the same event year after year, without any journaling because the information never changes?

why not shake things up a little? find semi-related photos and use them to illustrate the story. or find completely unrelated photos to illustrate the words you want to write that don't necessarily have photos ops accompanying them.

for this issue of the magazine, my story was about our yard and how gorgeous it is in the fall. now, do you see a shot of my Yard? no. were all the photos taken specifically with this topic in mind? no. they are just random shots i've taken over the past five years of our property in the autumn, but i pulled together my favorites to show just why it is i love our yard come october.

you can do the same thing with your photos. start using the ones you've been ignoring because they don't "go with" anything. look at your photos in a new way and FIND the story within them. or build a story around them.

and as a bonus, i'm going to share another layout from my book, "your words, your story," that was built on this same idea.


these photos have absolutely nothing to do with the conversation about which i wrote, but they are as much a representation of who my son is as the story in the journaling. there were no photos for the story, there was no story with the photos, but together they work.

take some time to look through your photographs with a new eye. see if any stories pop out at you as you flip through them, or if any emotions come up depending on the photos you find. a + b doesn't always have to equal c. sometimes a + b = good scrapping.