Creativity Challenge Update

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I haven’t been online much over the past couple of weeks due to the start of the new school year and Neal’s challenging me to stay off my computer! I must admit that I felt a little lost on the days that I didn’t turn on my computer. I’m hopelessly addicted; sad but true! What I have determined is that there is no way I can go without a computer two days during the week–I’m okay with one. On the other days, I simply must force myself to use my time more wisely (e.g. limit the amount of time I spend surfing blogs!).

9/6-12 ~ Complete the Telling Stories Deeply and the Learn Something New Every Day class prompts. Create digi LOs for Learn Something New.
I’ve managed to copy and print all the Telling Stories lessons, but I haven’t written anything yet. I have written in my LSNED journal daily and have completed LOs through the 9th. I’m 10 LOs behind, so I need to increase my speed…story of my life. I’m the slowest scrapbooker EVER!

Blog ~ Post digi LOs. Blog “The Great Escape” story!
Digi, yes. Great Escape, no. I really do want to tell that story!

CTMH ~ Set up new club and place order. Send e-mail to change open house date.
Done and done! My club meets on the 28th and we are completing the September Card Kit; it is so cute!


Learn Something New Days 3-6

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Shimelle’s prompt was about what we can learn from our feet. It amazes me how right on target her prompts always seem to be with my life. For instance, Neal and I were watching football and one of the players was carted off with a foot sprain. I was thinking to myself how horrible it would be in everyday life let alone as an athlete, and then I open a prompt about feet! My lesson came this summer when Neal and I hiked up Multnomah Falls. During the entire 4 mile hike, I didn’t experience any pain until we were on the way DOWN…my feet were killing me!

Sadly enough, I continue to waste time on the computer. When I first took this class, I ended up with 6 pages about getting off the computer and spending time exercising, enjoying nature or doing something productive. Three years later, I’m still giving myself the same advice…I see a problem here! Neal has challenged me to leave my computer off on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I will still have to use the computer at school, but those evenings at home will be spent reading, crafting, Etc. I’m going to try to start tomorrow if I can finish all my school work at school. Wish me luck!

Neal got a little annoyed with me the other night. After exercising, I said I was going to take a quick shower. Well, our versions of quick showers don’t exactly match, and he had to come up and tell me to hurry because dinner was ready. It’s a good thing he loves me!

Side note: I am using much more white space on these digi LOs than I do when working traditionally. It is very strange for me. It will be interesting to see how I feel about the pages when they are printed and in a book.

I had such a busy summer with my online course, travels, and CTMH events that I never started a “To Do” list. Now the summer is over and I realize that I didn’t accomplish much around the house. Oh, sure, I did a little cleaning, but I didn’t do any big projects. Now I’m back to life as a busy English teacher and will be swamped with grading and meetings. Hopefully my computer ban on Tuesday and Thursdays will motivate me, but I still need to make a list!


Learn Something New Every Day

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Shimelle’s Learn Something New Every Day class started again on September 1st. I first signed up for this class in September of 2006. That was an incredibly eventful month in my life, and I’m so thankful I was taking her course, because I journaled every day. I didn’t, however, finish my daily pages. In fact, I completed the book during Lain’s Layout a Day Challenge in May…of THIS year! Yikes! So, my goal for this year is to journal daily and finish my book by early October. I came to the realization last night that I simply don’t have time for traditional scrapbooking, so I’m going to go digi for this project. It isn’t my first choice, but it is far more realistic at this moment in time. Plus, Shimelle has included some great digi downloads for this class, including PDF files for the LOs. That is going to save me a lot of time.

After taking Photo Editing: Frame-ups and Special Effects from Jessica Sprague, I got pretty excited about playing around in Photoshop. In fact, I’ve downloaded a bunch of free digital designs and have even purchased a digital kit and some embellishments. Now, mind you, I’ve only ever created two digital LOs in my life! LOL! So, I’m going to use the Learn Something New class to work on my journaling and to hone my digital skills. I’ll stick with Shimelle’s LOs for the first couple of weeks since school is starting, but then I may try to come up with my own designs.

To save myself some time, I’m using the Ana Reis Designs “I Heart You” kit. I purchased both the paper and embellishment kits because I loved the doodle hearts.

My first page deals with the presentation I gave to our staff about metacognition. I felt good about the presentation but didn’t think it was amazing. Throughout the day I was given a lot of positive feedback. My colleagues made me realize that I do a good job and that I should have more confidence. I’m using a horrible photo from a Web 2.0 presentation I gave at a business education conference in May. Yeah…people should NEVER be photographed while they are speaking!

My learning continued at our school district teacher training on the 2nd. I co-presented a workshop on lesson planning using Project CRISS and then went to a workshop about ways students hook us into power struggles. The presenter talked about being intentional in our emotional lives. Negative thoughts impact everything we do even if we don’t say them out loud. This made me think about my health and approaching it from a positive POV (e.g. I’m not trying to lose weight, I’m gaining muscle, tone, and a firm core!).

This is a photo from my classroom in May. The presenter also talked about seeing your most difficult student as your greatest teacher in living an emotionally intentional life. Brilliant!


Creativity Challenge Update

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I have been MIA the past few weeks, because as soon as I finished my online CTE course, I had to start gearing up for the three presentations I gave last week. I didn’t get any of my own school work done, so I’m going to have to work very hard in my classroom tomorrow! I decided to use today to get caught up on some of my creative projects.

8/9-15 ~ As I really want to take the Telling Stories Deeply class at BPS, I need to complete my unfinished classes before I enroll for another class. So, I’m going to work on my 52 Card Pick Up class this week. My goal is 2 cards per day starting on Monday.
I didn’t look at my 52 Card Pick Up class once, but I did sign up for Telling Stories Deeply. I have done nothing with that class since I have been so busy these past couple of weeks. I need to add it to my challenge list for this week.

Blog ~ Post my LOs from Kyle’s visit and my two cards each day. Blog “The Great Escape” story!
I did post the LOs from Kyle’s visit, but I still need to work on “The Great Escape” story. Hmm…I’m sensing an opportunity to double dip with my Telling Stories Deeply class!

CTMH ~ Advertise and prepare for my Christmas card workshop; finish my Leadership projects; complete my card swaps. Yikes! It’s a good thing I’m still on summer vacation.
I finished my card swaps and Christmas card workshop. I still need to finish the Leadership projects.


His name was James

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I fought tears most of the way home from Safeway this afternoon, but soon the emotion overwhelmed me and bitter tears poured down my face. Neal asked me what was wrong, and it took me some time to compose myself. What was wrong? What was at the core of this despair?

I hadn’t noticed the signs or balloons on our way to the store. It wasn’t until we were leaving the parking lot that I noticed the makeshift memorial where we usually saw an older man sitting on an upturned bucket. The bucket was there, but the man was not. In his place stood a sign that read, “His name was James.” Bouquets of flowers were taped to the stop sign. I blurted out, “Oh, that man died.” That man died. James. I didn’t know him. In fact, if truth be told, I never bothered thinking about him more than the moment we drove by him as we left Safeway each week.

I do remember some specific moments such as the time his plumbers crack was showing. We laughed about it. I remember a couple times I was alone and I wondered if I had any granola bars or bottled water to give him. I never stopped. I certainly never stopped to ask his name or learn his story. I would drive on by and he would slip from my memory, but not today. Not today! Today I am consumed with the fact that I never once wondered about him other than why he was begging. Today I am wondering how I have become so judgmental and uncaring. Am I not an accident or debilitating illness away from needing a helping hand? What happened to the me that used to care so much about people that my heart broke when I saw someone begging by the side of the road?

And there’s my answer. My heart broke. My heart broke, and instead of allowing it to mend whole and fragile, I forced it to harden. Luckily, I’m not so bad that I’m hard hearted, but I certainly am not the me that used to volunteer at Camp Easter Seal or for the nursing home. I think I became so tired of being hurt and feeling pain, I simply stopped putting myself in situations that would break my heart.
When I was explaining all this to Neal, I was reminded of Julie’s article in the T-Bird Splat (my school newsletter). She wrote about a revelation she had during a 4Ps presentation. She became painfully aware that this boy sat through her class the previous year, and she never really knew the struggles he was facing on a daily basis. Her advice to us is that “kids won’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.” It sounds so cliché, but the truth of her words slapped me in the face.

Passion has been missing in my life for quite some time. I’ve felt moments of depression, and I really couldn’t figure out why. I’m more fit and healthy than I have been since college. I teach at a great school and have incredible friends. I get to scrapbook during my free time and share my love of the art with others by leading workshops. I’m married to my best friend and have an amazing marriage! So, why do I feel empty?

I think James gave me my answer today. I have not been feeding my soul for a very long time. I allowed a wall to keep me from being hurt, but it caused more damage than I could have imagined.

I’m a scapbooker and an English teacher. I love stories! Not simply my own stories, but the stories of those around me. I want to know what makes people tick, and how someone like James ended up on the corner of the Safeway parking lot.

I need to feed my soul by helping others. For years, I have used the excuse that I’m a teacher; that’s my volunteer time, but I know I can do better than that. Plus, if that is going to count as volunteer time, then I better do far more for my students than I have been over the past couple of years! Now, I will say that the closest I have come in a long time to feeling like I was making a difference was this time last year. It was right after the Close To My Heart convention in Florida. Jeanette Lynton gave a moving speech as she introduced William and Kathleen Magee, the co-founders of Operation Smile. She explained that she was so touched by the work that Operation Smile is doing for children around the world that OS is becoming CTMH’s exclusive charity. Shortly after convention, we were able to offer the From Me To You card kits for a $10 donation to Operation Smile; I was able to raise over $130! I was only $110 away from providing an operation for a child. It only costs $240, takes 45 minutes, and changes their lives forever! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to earn the other $110, but I’m done focusing on my failings in the past and am going to look to the future.

So, what is my why? I want to bring smiles to the faces of those I meet and allow their joy to make me smile! As a teacher, I will do this by showing my students that I truly care. I want to know their stories and help them succeed in the classroom and beyond. As a friend, I will do this by staying in better contact with the people I love. I make tons of cards as a scrapbooker…I’m going to start sending them! As a wife, I will remind Neal daily of the difference he makes in my life. He is my everything, and I am not going to let him forget it. As a CTMH consultant, I will teach workshops and help my customers gain confidence in creating beautiful art to chronicle their memories. I will work to raise money for Operation Smile so that I can put a smile on the face of a child who may have only known pain and misery. I will live my life with passion, because I am beyond blessed!

I will remember that his name was James, and I will smile!


Shhh…Halloween Card Sneak Peek!

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You guys know how much I love CTMH products; I think it is safe to say that I’m addicted…LOL! What I love the most is how versatile they are; in fact, this is the key point they make on the latest episode of CTMH TV. Take a look at these new Grace papers; they are perfect for feminine or masculine projects. The text paper is well suited to Thanksgiving or any other project that expresses thankfulness for family, but what about Halloween?

Well, I say “Yes!” This is a card that I made for a swap using the new Grace papers and Beware stamp set. I used the front side of the text paper for the large circle and the back side for the smallest circle. I speckled the large circle with Black and Olive markers using an airbrush and then added Black Distressing Ink to the other circles using the Black Texture Tool. Using these distressing techniques helped me convert a shabby chic Thanksgiving kit into a spooky Halloween card!

Pattern: Delightful Dots from Wishes (pg. 53)
Paper: Grace (X7117B), Autumn Terracotta TCS (X5669), Olive CS (1245)
Stamp: Beware (D1381)
Ink: Versamark (Z891), Black Distressing Ink (Z1296), New England Ivy (Z2135)
Markers: Black (Z2305) & Olive (Z2337)
Embellishments: Black Embossing Powder (Z670), Black Bitty Brads (Z1218), 3-D Foam Tape (Z1151), Sanding block (Z1294), Texture Tools (Z1298)
Other: Inkworx air gun


Digital LO vs Studio J!

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Well, I received an email from scrapNfonts this morning with some freebies and a challenge. I’m not typically a digital scrapbooker, but I took up the challenge since they included a free Photoshop template. I can’t remember how long it took me to complete this LO, but I’m fairly sure it was close to two hours! It’s cute, and I will print it for one of my albums, but it got me thinking about how excited I am for Close To My Heart’s Studio J!

Studio J takes digital scrapbooking to the next level by providing you with an online scrapbooking studio FREE of charge! The best part about studio scrapbooking is that you don’t have to know anything about digital scrapbooking to QUICKLY…notice I said QUICKLY (unlike my LO here!)…create beautiful pages using CTMH patterns, papers, embellishments, and colors! I saw a demo of Studio J at Leadership a couple weeks ago, and I’m so excited about trying it. Visit the Studio J website and watch the video to see a quick preview. Then come back here and let me know what you think!


Wolf Haven

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Our second day trip with Kyle was a quick visit to Wolf Haven. We arrived a few minutes prior to the tour, so it was perfect timing. Wolf Haven is a sanctuary for many wolves but only 14 are on the guided tour. We didn’t get to see all of them, but the ones that were out were absolutely beautiful. They gave us a special treat about half way through the tour…wolves started howling on one end of the sanctuary and each of the wolves returned the call. It was breathtaking! According to the Wolf Haven website, “Vocal communication among wolves consists of howls, whines, growls and barks. Although all the functions of howling are not known, scientists think that one of the main reasons wolves howl is to assemble the pack. Another possible function of howling is to claim territory. Some experts think that wolves can identify other wolves through their howls.” I don’t know what they were trying to communicate, but I’m so glad that I witnessed it!




I’m aware that the title “High Adventure” makes no sense for this LO, but I was doing a direct scraplift from page 17 of the Summer 2009 Idea Book, and I couldn’t deviate from the design! LOL! All supplies are CTMH: Back Country kit, pewter brads, Adventure Dimensional Elements, natural hemp, sanding kit, and My Legacy Writers.


Mt. Rainier Hike

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I thought I was being kind by letting the boys sleep in, but it ended up being a bad move. By the time we got up to the mountain, the parking lot was full. I couldn’t believe how packed it was during the middle of the week; I would hate to see what it is like there on the weekend. Anyway, we ended up parking a couple miles down the road and hiking back up to the visitor station. We only had a couple hours to spend on the mountain since I needed to get home for the mobile vet visit. We ate a quick lunch and then walked the Skyline Trail to Myrtle Falls and down the 4th Crossing Trail right to our car; it was almost like we planned it that way! It was a really easy, relaxing walk. I’m looking forward to going back and trying some of the more challenging trails.

All supplies are CTMH: Bella WOTG sketch, Back Country, Campin’ Fever, pewter brads and photo hangers, Adventure Dimensional Elements, natural hemp,sanding kit, and My Legacy Writers.

I absolutely love this Back Country kit! I added Barn Red textured cardstock and I’m now wishing I would have used a different color. I had already sanded it, so I wasn’t going to start over. The Bella sketch has the title under the photo, but I placed the title on the photo, so I’m wondering if I need anything under the picture.

Don’t get me started about that picture! I used a great grunge mask from the jessicasprague.com Photoshop class. After I uploaded the photo to Wal-Mart, I checked their print preview option and it looked just like it does here. Well, when I picked up my photos yesterday, most of the top and left borders have been cut off. It looks hideous now, so I adhered it with removable adhesive and am going to print it out at Costco this week. Ugh!


Creativity Challenge

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I’m thinking that I want to archive my “Weekly Creativity Challenges.” I wish I would have done this from the beginning. Oh well, I’m doing it now.

7/17-18 ~ Now that my craft room is back in shape, I am going to scrapbook at least 4 layouts for my cruise album! For a bonus challenge, I’m going to use a sketch from 52 Sketches and Inspired Blueprints.

I’m also working on my Shakespeare High Ning this weekend. I need to create a banner in Photoshop and mess with the CSS.

I met the scrapbooking challenges and posted the LOs. Although I did finish my Shakespeare High Ning, I’m not crazy about the banner. I’m sure I’ll change it later, but I’m not going to worry about it now.

7/19-25 ~ I need to prepare card kits for Karen’s workshop on Wednesday and page kits for Mimi’s crop on Saturday. I want to write and upload a couple more stories to my blog, as well.

Again, I accomplished the scrapbooking challenges but didn’t add stories to the blog. I have a childhood story that I really want to write–it’s on my “to do” list–but I haven’t made the time. I’m going to add it to my list for this week!


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