Saturday, January 30, 2010


(I have been trying all week to make this item to share! Real life keeps getting in the way with the recording of life. Sheesh!)

In addition to the retreat, a while ago (I think last summer) some of the scrapbooking blogs and websites were taking turns posting layouts that addressed the topic "Why I Scrapbook". (I can't seem to find what was inspiring me then, but I did find a gallery of layouts on the subject at Write.Click.Scrapbook.) After being on such a good scrapbooking roll, I've been thinking about why I love it so. It's a little funny that I'm so into scrapbooking, though I should have seen it coming. After all, I hoarded paint chips from Home Depot as a child just because I love bits of colored paper!

But when I started scrapbooking, I really just wanted to make a baby book for Zack. I specifically did not want to get "into" scrapbooking, as it sounded like a time and money sink. I also though it was a rather laborious way of doing the simple job of showing someone a few photos.

But as I started actually doing it, I fell in love with it. All the prettiness really helps. Who can resist the beautiful colors and textures, the brads and tags, the velvet flourish paper, oh my! I definitely enjoy the artistic aspect of the hobby. But the real heart of it is in the story. As I've talked about before, I love story. This is a way to capture the stories that really make the pictures meaningful. It records the history of the moment - the traditions, the events and the everyday life that are so quickly forgotten.

Really, it's the same reason that I like blogging. The story of life is captured best in the bits of everyday stuff, the stuff I won't remember this time next year unless I write it down. And the connections possible when we share those bits are what is so compelling to me about reading blogs. So, yeah, scrapbooking is more involved than sliding photos into an album (and sometimes I do that too) but it is richer in story and sharing too, and that's worth so much to me.

The image above is a "digital layout", meaning I made it all on the computer using Photoshop Elements. More on that soon!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Scrapbooking Retreat

I'm pretty hyped up on creative topics right now, particularly scrapbooking, which is why I'm happy to be writing about creative stuff the next few posts! I just got back from a two-night scrapbooking retreat and ooooooh was it fabulous!

What does one do at a scrapbooking retreat? A friend asked me if there were activities. Yep, there sure are: there's scrapbooking. In between the scrapbooking? Um, we did pause to eat regularly and sleep briefly. But that's about it, which is the best thing about the retreat: you can just keep working and working. You can leave your stuff set up when you go to bed and come back to it without packing up in between. Is the opposite of that constant feeling I have as a mom, "I can't form a complete thought!" Instead, I could actually focus on a project, work on something without interruption and have a lot of pleasant mental space to be creative!

Notice those great girls I got to hang with? They were really fun. We packed up all our STUFF, filling up the space in the minivan even with the backseat folded down. Two years ago when we went we didn't have near as much paraphanalia as many of the other attendees, but this year we were right up there. Can you get a good sense of the room from the pictures? It was FULL of scrapbooking EVERYTHING!

Having dedicated an entire weekend to scrapbooking has me thinking about what is so satisfying to me about this hobby. Some of it is the fun company, as you can see. More on the other motivations tomorrow!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


The lettuce is finally ready to thin! And lucky me, I get to eat the thinnings. So tender and delicious!

I think the sprouting has been really slow this year, probably because we had the garden locked down the whole time we were gone on our Christmas trip, since temperatures were very cold here. Now James has sown a second crop too, so as this batch matures, the others should start sprouting. It's a short season before it is hot here, so I'm going to enjoy every leaf!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cook's Confession

I am addicted to Ramen Noodles. As a somewhat foodie type, I guess I'm not supposed to... but I don't care, I really love them. I have Ramen for lunch (or dinner if James is working late) multiple times a week. I crave them (hm, should that worry me?).

Now, I do fix 'em up - more or less depending on how energetic I'm feeling. I start with the Lime Shrimp flavor, add the juice of half a lime, dried parsley, lots of paprika, a few dashes of cayenne pepper, some turmeric, a small dallop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped scallions. Just to class up the joint, you know?
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Saturday, January 23, 2010

New Toys

Ah, what retrospective of December photos would be complete without one of the baby of the family loving his new toys?

Ok! As much as I enjoyed looking back over December's pictures, I'm on to creative-type topics next week. Whoo hoo!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pima Canyon

Isn't this a gorgeous canyon? These photos are by my hubby and father, so I haven't seen it myself, but I was impressed with just how BIG the country is. On the last day of our Christmas trip, Dad and James decided to hike a 12.3 mile loop in the mountains just outside Tucson.

The starting point point and ending point didn't quite make a full circle, and they didn't want to leave a vehicle there all day, so the plan was for my mom to drive them to one side then come pick them up at the end of the day on the other side. The hike had a lot of elevation change, taking them up into the mountains, across a saddle and back down; when they chose which side to start at, they chose the uphill side, knowing there would be plenty of up and down to complete the hike. Also, since the days were short, they knew they needed to start early and keep moving to make it back by dark.

When my mom dropped them off at the trailhead, there were a few law enforcement people around but they didn't realize until after she was gone that the trail was closed due to a tracking operation they had going. Dad and James quickly realized that they weren't going to get on the trail anytime soon, so my mom went back and picked them up and took them to the other end of the route. It was a later start than they intended but off they went.

By the time they were close to the saddle, it was already 3pm. The last little bit before the saddle was the most elevation change and the route down the other side was unfamiliar to both of them. They had started from the opposite end from what they intended, making the elevations even more challenging. So... they turned around. They had to almost-jog to make it down before dark and it took the last bit of the light to get back to the trailhead. It was over 11 miles - still a great hike!

The pictures are so beautiful that it makes me want to go too. We're thinking about a hiking challenge to have all of the family that feels up to it make the 12.3 mile loop next Christmas. Considering there were 13 of us (yes, all staying in my sister's house) this year, we could really have a fun hiking contingent next year!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Check out that stance

I love this picture. It really makes me smile to see my nephew with his feet planted in this wide-legged stance and his baggy bottom jeans. That boy is all boy! The light sabers were courtesy of my parents and, as you can imagine, the boys were obsessed with them - thank goodness those particular toys will be residing in Tucson! And the weather! We see why all the snowbirds love Yuma. It was really sunny, pleasantly cool and beautiful.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Southern Arizona Transportation Museum

When we were in Tucson we visited the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum. This is a really small museum but it is fun for little and medium ones. Zack liked the telephone style recorded information on all the displays and Sammy liked the train table at the entrance. We all loved the huge engine outside! This is in the downtown historic area and we also walked around a little looking at some nearby historic hotels. I recommend it for a light outing. And, with the beautiful weather, I wish I'd gotten some really great shots of the kids in front of these green doors!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Road Goes On Forever and the Party Never Ends

I've been looking back through the mini-album I made journaling our days in December and now I want to share some of my favorite pics. I'll post on a few more throughout this week and hopefully get to show some pics of my album too.

It was apparently important that Zack's Froggy got the best seat, looking out the window into the blinding sun.

You see our choice of roadtrip beverages is Sonic drinks.

There was no sight sweeter than Sammy finally asleep.

And yes, I did do some light scrapbooking on my lap in the car. What? It was a long time!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Carlsbad Caverns

(click on the image to see it full-size!)

We decided to add a couple of days to the beginning of our Christmas trip in order to visit Carlsbad Caverns in southern New Mexico. It was very beautiful and a lot of fun, though I think it will be better for us when our kids are older. The formations were so impressive and we loved seeing them, but in case you are planning a trip, let me just make a couple of notes in case it's of help to someone.

If you do the full walk, which is really worth doing after going all that way, it is two and a half miles. It's really very steep. There were these signs warning you that it was steep as we walked it but I guess I didn't take it very seriously! It was fine for James and I (with sensible shoes), but it was enough to make us tired afterward. Zack walked all of it but I was coaxing and bribing by the end to stave off whining: "there are snacks up here, should we walk on and see about a snack?"

We figured Sammy would love riding in the backpack with Daddy, but for some reason he did NOT. It's true he was sick, and also that because of being sick or in a hotel, he didn't sleep well the night before, but he was VERY cranky about being in the backpack. Maybe it was just too similar to being in a carseat. Whatever the cause, he wanted to be down and walking. We tried that, but it was totally impossible. The guardrails were above his eyeline so they weren't much of a deterrent. Instead, many of the precious and sensitive rock formation were at his eye level and well within reach (yikes). The dropoffs were right at the edge of the path and steep in many places. There was just no way a 21-month-old could walk it, even just long enough to tire and want to ride.

Also, we thought we could ply Sammy with snacks, forgetting that no snacks at all were allowed in the caverns (duh). And we forgot his pacifier. That was just a dumb move on our part. He cried a LOT. I spent many a switchback running along side James, holding Sammy's hand in the backpack and trying to sing to him in the lowest possible voice.

Which brings me to another point. You aren't supposed to speak above a whisper level in the cavern because everything echoes and sound carries. I can barely keep Zack from shouting everything he says, much less get him to keep his voice to a whisper (sometimes I notice my own volume and think me must take after his mom in this respect). And explaining to Sammy that he needed to keep his crying to a whisper? Well, you can guess how successful we were with that!

In the end, I gave Sammy my wrap and to hold like a lovey and he fell asleep, Zack was a trooper, and we got to see everything. One thing I loved was that because of the winter season the crowd was extremely light. We didn't get to see the bats, but there wasn't any guano smell and there weren't any crowds. There were many times when we were totally alone, not able to see or hear anyone in either direction.

Also, we rented some self-guided tour audio units that gave interesting details about more than forty stations along the route. There was a kid version and an adult version; we got one of each. They were both fun and Zack liked punching in the numbers and hearing the ongoing "story" of the cave. I recommend taking advantage of that feature when you go!

p.s. Don't forget a sweatshirt!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Fridge Sitter

Thanksgiving to Christmas, Texas to Arizona, Grandma's or Granny's... this boy is a fridge sitter. You can't even get the milk out before he's in there lounging.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Customer Service

Remember my favorite Starbucks vat-o-coffee mug? Here I am, not apart from my mug even while opening presents on Christmas morning. Sadly, it broke! The threading inside the lid that closes it for leak-free travel broke off so that it wouldn't close anymore. I took it in to Starbucks and just showed it to them and I was so pleased at the cheerfulness with which they replaced it. Sometimes it seems to me that good customer service is disappearing, so I'm glad to report that Starbucks is still great!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Views over 2400 miles (2009/10 version)

We had a great Christmas! We were gone for 17 days and drove over 2440 miles. There was lots of beauty, lots of family and lots of fun!